Friday, September 30, 2011 2 comments

Spicy Carrot Salad

The kittiesx3 household adores spicy food—the spicier the better. And this dish is spicy. It’s also ridiculously tasty and very nutritious too. Let’s put it this way. One person in my home dislikes carrots but makes an utter pig of himself when I serve this dish. I’m lucky to get any.


4—5 carrots, peeled and shredded in a food processor or by microplane
Pinch each of salt and sugar
1 T canola oil
1 t cumin seeds
1 t dry mustard seeds
1 t sesame seeds
½ t cumin
¼ t hot red pepper powder (we make it with ½ t and it is HOT)
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 t fresh lime juice (substitute lemon if that’s what you have on hand)


  1. Add the pinches of salt and sugar to the shredded carrots, mix and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil and add the cumin, dry mustard and sesame seeds. Heat until the sesame seeds begin to pop. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the cumin, hot red pepper powder to the saucepan and stir.
  4. Stir in the chopped cilantro and lime juice.
  5. Add the mixture from the saucepan to the shredded carrots and mix well.
  6. Chill.
  7. Enjoy!
Thursday, September 29, 2011 0 comments

Sliced Baked Potatoes--Two Versions!

Version 1

Version 2
How do you find new recipes? I find a lot of mine while eating out or surfing the web. I ran across an image for this recipe a couple of weeks ago on Pinterest (if you want an invitation, let me know). Well I like potatoes, and these seemed pretty interesting so I thought I’d give it a try. We tend to go meatless a couple of days a week and this looked like a hearty, meatless entrée to me.

I googled sliced baked potatoes and found a handful of recipes so I sort of combined them all together to create my own.

Be warned, my version isn’t a hands-off recipe. You’ll need to tend to your potatoes about every 10 minutes until they are cooked.


2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and with the skin on
4 T butter, melted
½ C shredded cheese, your choice (I use cheddar/jack cheese from Costco)
Italian seasoning to taste


Version 1
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Place two wooden spoons on a cutting board about as far apart as your potatoes are wide. Use the handles to hold your potato in place as you slice the potatoes and to keep you from slicing all the way through. You want the bottom of the potato to remain intact. Also, slice thinly—my slices are about ¼ inch wide.
  3. Place the sliced potatoes in a baking pan. I use cooking spray only because I wanted an easier clean up session afterwards.
  4. Carefully open your sliced potatoes and drizzle the melted butter across them. Don’t worry when it runs out the sides—you will be basting the potatoes with this butter throughout the cooking process.
  5. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning on the potatoes and try to get some inside the slices.
  6. Bake for a total of 60 minutes. Important! About every 10 minutes, pull the potatoes out and re-baste with the butter. Also turn them over. That will let all the skin get a butter bath.
  7. After 60 minutes, remove from the oven.
  8. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the potatoes and return to the oven for about 10 minutes.
  9. When done, place each potato in a shallow bowl. Pour the remaining melted butter over the potatoes.
  10. Enjoy!

Version 2

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Slice the potatoes into thin slices, preferably about ¼ inch wide.
  3. Pour about half of the melted butter into a large baking dish (9x13) that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Tilt the pan around until you’ve coated the entire bottom of the pan.
  4. Place the sliced potatoes in the so that the slices are in no more than two layers. Ideally you want just one layer of potatoes.
  5. Drizzle the melted butter across the slices.
  6. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning on the slices.
  7. Bake for about 60 minutes. About every 15 minutes, pull the potatoes out and flip them. This helps a lot with ensuring the potatoes brown evenly.
  8. After 60 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the potatoes. Bake for another five minutes or until the cheese is all melted.
  9. Serve with sour cream if you feel decadent.
  10. Enjoy!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 1 comments

Cream of Garlic Soup

I was watching the show The Best Thing I Ever Ate and they were talking about the best garlic dishes they have ever had. Someone on there showed this amazing looking garlic soup. I thought to my self, I must try that. So after looking over different garlic soup recipes on the web this is what I came up with.

This soup had the most amazing sweet garlic flavor you can imagine. It's not pungent garlic, but sweet. In other words, you won't sweat garlic for the next year after eating this. But, if you don't like garlic, I mean really like garlic, you may just want to pass on this one.

3/4 cup of garlic cloves
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup vermouth (you can substitute any white wine)
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup peeled potatoes (some recipes use bread cubes instead, could be worth a shot)

  1. Mash garlic into a paste. I use my mortar and pestle, but a food processor would work.
  2. Add garlic and oil to your pot and cook garlic until it begins to color, stir often. Don't burn it!
  3. Add chicken broth and vermouth.
  4. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes.
  5. Add milk, cream, and potatoes and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  6. Enjoy the smell of garlic that has not permeated your home!
  7. Puree soup in a blender and then return to your pot to simmer.
  8. Simmer for another 30 minutes or longer.
  9. Ladle into a bowl and top with croutons.
  10. Enjoy!


So if you have some bread (maybe even some you made from a recipe on this site!) that has gotten a bit stale, you should make croutons. These are simple, take so little time, and are a great way to get the most out of bread.


  1. Cut the bread into cubes.
  2. Put bread into a bowl and put olive oil over the bread.
  3. Season the croutons. I like to use a high quality seasoned salt and some parsley. You could do parsley and garlic salt for Italian style, or anyway that sounds good to you.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Spread bread out on cookie sheet.
  6. Cook for 10 minutes and then stir the bread.
  7. Continue cooking until the bread cubes have a bit of a crunch to them. They should brown some, but not burn.
  8. Enjoy!

No-Knead Bread

This style of bread hit the food world a few years ago and was made famous by the NY Times article on it. If you have never tried this, you really should, it is extremely easy and has fantastic results. The bread is airey and crusty and a perfect compliment to many meals.

3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 5/8 cup of water


  1. Mix flour, yeast, salt, and water in a bowl.
  2. Cover and let sit for 12-18 hours.
  3. Dough will be bubbly on top when ready.
  4. Remove from bowl with a spatula onto a floured surface.
  5. Shape dough into a ball. Use only enough flour to keep it from sticking to your hands.
  6. Generously flour a towel. Put dough on towel.
  7. Let rise for 2 hours, should double in size.
  8. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  9. Place cast-iron or similar pot in oven to heat.
  10. After pot and oven are heated plop the dough in the pot.
  11. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  12. Uncover and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  13. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011 1 comments

Macaroni and Cheese

When Ben was little, I bowed to the tyranny of a two year old and made mac & cheese from the blue box. But honestly that stuff is expensive and full of strange ingredients. Plus I dislike using canned soups a great deal. In fact, you could say I downright hate it. Fortunately this mac & cheese recipe doesn’t need any cans of anything.


2 cups pasta (we prefer gemelli but if you like elbow macaroni, have at it)
4 T butter
¼ C all-purpose flour
3 C milk
2 C shredded semi-hard cheese (cheddar, Gouda, Monterey Jack—whatever you have on hand and feel free to mix it up)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2/3 C freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Cook your pasta OR follow my "no humidity added to the house" method below. Drain well.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
  4. Whisk in the flour until a paste forms.
  5. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth.
  6. Bring the sauce to the boil over moderately high heat, stirring or whisking constantly, until thickened.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the shredded cheeses until melted (not the Parmigiano-Reggiano just yet).
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Stir in the cooked pasta and then put the mixture into a 9 x 13 glass or ceramic baking pan.
  10. Top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  11. Broil about four inches from the heat for about four minutes or until richly browned.
  12. Let the dish sit for about five minutes before serving.
  13. Enjoy!

*Bonus no humidity method for cooking pasta:
  1. Bring the water to the boil in a covered saucepan.
  2. Add the pasta, cover and immediately turn off the heat.
  3. Let sit, covered, on the stove for 20 minutes.
  4. Drain and enjoy your humidity-free home.
Caveat: Angel hair pasta doesn’t really need the full 20 minutes and gemelli may take up to 25 minutes.
Monday, September 19, 2011 0 comments

Penne Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Caper Cream Sauce

I love smoking food. One of my favorite thing to smoke is salmon. Something about the fatty fish just is perfect with smokey flavor. Up until recently there was only one dish I would use smoked salmon in; a dip (I'll post a recipe for my irresistible smoked salmon dip soon enough). But this creamy pasta dish works perfect with smoked salmon. Even though this dish breaks a few culinary rules you'll find that it is lip smacking good!

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pound smoked salmon, chopped (I smoke this myself, it is cured before hand as well, but that's another post)
1 cup heavy cream (a.k.a. whipping cream)
1-2 tablespoons capers, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (if you smoke your own salmon, I'd skip the salt)
1 pound pasta, cooked al dente, drained (reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon

  1. Cook your pasta
  2. In a large skilled add your olive oil and onions. Cook the onions til they are translucent, but not brown.
  3. Pour in the cream and the capers. Heat an additional 1-2 minutes.
  4. Combine sauce and pasta.
  5. Add the pasta water you reserved.
  6. Sprinkle your serving with (gasp!) Parmeasan cheese.
  7. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top of your portion.
  8. Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Focaccia Bread

I love garlic! And roasted garlic is sweet and savory. This is a simple, easy bread recipe that is bursting with flavor and is great for sandwiches, or as a side for any pasta or Italian dish.

15-20 cloves of garlic peeled and roasted
1 c warm water
1 tbsp active yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil
1 tbsp olive oil + more to brush over
2 c flour + some for kneading

  1. Roast your garlic by peeling the cloves and putting it in a ball of foil. Roast for about 45 minutes at 350F.
  2. Activate yeast in a bowl by combing year, water, salt, sugar, and herbs. Wait 10 minutes or until bubbly.
  3. Add olive oil, garlic, and flour. Add enough flour so you can get it out of the bowl. But keep it as sticky as you can.
  4. Knead on a floured surface for a few minutes, adding flour as needed.
  5. Put dough in a greased (with olive oil) bowl. Turn to coat the dough.
  6. Let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled.
  7. Coat a cookie sheet (preferably with raised edges) with oil.
  8. Press dough onto sheet spreading it evenly.
  9. Brush olive oil on top and let rise again for about 20 minutes.
  10. Bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes or until the top is beginning to be browned.
  11. Enjoy!
(A wonderful panini made with this bread)
Thursday, September 8, 2011 1 comments

Corn Salad

We like to eat out, probably a little too much, but here in the South End of Boston we’ve got a lot of great restaurant choices. This summer, we’ve gone to Tremont 647 several times and I got absolutely hooked on what they call Local Corn and Tomato Salad. Their version uses just sherry vinegar as a dressing, but I didn’t have any at home. So I used a bit of balsamic vinaigrette instead and it worked well too.

Basically you’ll want to have equal parts of the corn, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers; as written, this recipe serves two people.


2 ears of corn, cooked, cooled and cut off the cob
½ C cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 small or ½ large cucumber, peeled, seeded, quartered and diced
¼ C red onion, coarsely diced
2 T feta cheese, crumbled
1 T light balsamic vinaigrette (I love Paul Newman’s Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinaigrette)

  1. In a bowl, mix the corn, tomatoes and cucumber together. You want these proportions to be fairly equal so add in more if you need to.
  2. Mix in the onion and feta cheese.
  3. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the dressing but be sparing. It’s not the point of the salad.
  4. Toss and serve.
Also this worked as left-overs for a couple of days but I wouldn't want it after that. Things just get too soggy.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 2 comments

Chicken and Swiss Cheese Casserole

When Ben was growing up, I made a lot of chicken and rice dishes. A lot. So when he hit his teen years, he basically refused to eat them anymore. Now that he’s an adult, he's come to love those dishes and has even asked for a few of the recipes, including this one.

A few words before I get to the recipe: You can make your rice on the stove if you prefer, but I live in a “garden” apartment (that’s basement to the rest of the world) and I don’t need any more humidity in the house. So I use my rice steamer outside on the patio. That means my rice doesn’t get cooked with the herbs and onions in it, but it turns out just fine anyway. If you want to know the full, make it on the stove and then put it in the oven version, let me know in the comments.


2 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, either minced or put through a garlic press
3 C cooked rice (I use brown rice)
1/8 C sherry or white wine (not cooking wine) or vermouth
Water or broth to deglaze the pan
1 bay leaf
2 t dried thyme or about 1 t fresh
1 ½ C cooked, diced chicken
6 to 8 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

2 T butter
1 T flour
1/3 C milk
Paprika to sprinkle


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet.
  3. Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until the onion is clear.
  4. Add the sherry or white wine or vermouth and enough water or broth to deglaze the pan.
  5. Add the diced chicken and heat thoroughly.
  6. Quickly combine the chicken mixture, cooked rice and Swiss cheese and put into a large greased casserole pan.
  1. Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat.
  2. Stir in the flour ensuring you have no lumps.
  3. Slowly add the milk and stir constantly until thickened.
  4. Pour over the casserole and sprinkle the top with paprika.
  5. Cover and bake about 20 minutes.
I made this last night and fed four adults and two children. I foolishly thought we would have leftovers today. I was wrong.


My brownie recipe is based on a recipe from my grandmother—what makes them so yummy is all the buttery goodness along with the surprise of miniature chocolate chips.


2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
1 stick butter (not margarine)
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
¾ C all-purpose flour
½ t baking powder
½ C chocolate chips (I prefer the miniature ones)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a saucepan, heat chocolate squares and butter over very low heat. Stir while melting and once melted, remove from heat.
  3. Mix in the sugar, then the eggs.
  4. Blend the flour and baking powder together and then add to the mixture in the saucepan.
  5. Add the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour into a greased baking pan, about 8x8x2 inches (I use a Pyrex glass pan).
  7. Bake for 25 minutes; test with a toothpick. The toothpick should come out clean while the brownies still look a bit moist. This is good.
  8. Let cool and then cut into 16 pieces.
Of course you can always eat more than one piece at a time.
Sunday, September 4, 2011 0 comments

Watermelon Martini

This is a great summer treat when you have an abundance of watermelon and want to try something new and refreshing. This martini drinks easy, is not overly sweet and is very satisfying on a hot day.

1 cup fresh squeezed watermelon juice
4 oz Vodka
1/4 cup simple syrup (this is just equal parts sugar and water heated til they are mixed)
1 juiced lime

  1. Juice watermelon til you have 1 cup
  2. Mix salt and sugar in equal proportions in a plate
  3. Take a piece of watermelon and run it over the rim of your glass
  4. Put glass on salted/sugared plate to coat the rim
  5. Fill glass with ice
  6. In a cocktail mixer (or two glasses put opening to opening) fill with ice, watermelon juice, vodka, syrup, and lime juice.
  7. Shake very well.
  8. Pour into glass
  9. Garnish with a piece of watermelon or mint.
  10. Enjoy!
Thursday, September 1, 2011 0 comments

Tuscan Chicken Marinara

6 to 8 Boneless Chicken Thighs (May substitue Boneless Chicken Breasts)
1 Large Green Bell Pepper
1 Large Yellow Onion
1 Medium Zuchini
1 Quart Fresh Marinara (your favorite jar brand will do too)
1 1/2 Tbs Fresh Garlic (4 Cloves or Minced Jar)
1/4 Cup EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1/4 Cup Merlot Wine
3 Cups Whole Wheat Pasta
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1 Tsp Dried Basil
1/4 Cup Parmesan (ground or flaked)

  1. Pre-Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Set a large pot of water to boil on high heat
  3. Place a large 12" to 14" skillet on Med Hi Heat
  4. Pour in EVOO and allow to heat for about 30 seconds
  5. Place Chicken "shiny" side down in oil
  6. Season with Salt, Pepper, and Dried Basil and sautee' for 2 mins
  7. Flip Chicken and season this side with Salt, Pepper, Dried Basil and sautee' for 2mins
  8. Flip chicken 2 more times sauteeing for 1 min on each side
  9. By this time your water should be boiling add your Penne Pasta
  10. Remove chicken to an oven safe pan or dish and place in the oven for 10 minutes
  11. Deglaze the fry pan using the 1/4 cup Merlot on med high heat (scrape the morsels)
  12. Add to deglazed pan Onions, Green Bell Peppers, Zuchini and Fresh Garlic sautee for 3 mins
  13. Add Marinara and turn heat to MED to simmer
  14. When timer for chicken rings remove chicken and place into your Marinara continue to simmer
  15. When pasta is finished to liking (I prefer al dente' with this dish) remove and drain
  16. Sprinkle cooked penne with EVOO and toss
  17. Plate 3/4 Cup Penne as a "bed" setting
  18. Place 1 of your Chicken Thighs on bed of Penne
  19. Then Spoon on 1 Cup of Marinara
  20. Garnish with Dried Basil and Parmesan


Fantastic French Onion Soup

French Onion soup is great for two reasons; it is full of flavor and it requires very little ingredients. If you have onions and broth on hand you can have one of the most flavorful soups out there for dinner. This recipe serves two people. Double or triple if you are serving more.

3 medium sized yellow or white onions (don't use sweet onions)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup Vermouth, Sherry, or dry White Wine
Olive Oil
4 cups beef broth or chicken broth or a mixture of both (I prefer 3 cups beef and 1 cup chicken)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
crusty bread
cheese (mozzarella, swiss or provolone works best)

  1. Cut onions into thin half rings.
  2. In a large pot over medium to medium-high heat caramelize the onions in olive oil.
  3. After about 10 minutes add the sugar to enhance the caramelization.
  4. Continue cooking the onions for 20 more minutes or until they are carmelized.
  5. When the onions are carmelized (slightly brown, don't burn them!) add the broth, Vermouth, thyme, bay leaf and partially cover.
  6. Let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour so the flavors are well mixed.
  7. Ladle the soup into a bowl.
  8. Put a piece of crusty bread (it can be stale) on top of the soup, put your cheese on top.
  9. Broil in the oven until the cheese is melted.
  10. Enjoy!