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Friday, October 31, 2008

Spicy Pepitas

Happy Halloween!! I was hoping to bring you a lovely pumpkin seed brittle, but after two failed attempts I came to a conclusion...I suck at brittle making. Halloween is one of my most favorite days of the year. Mostly because I love going down to West Hollywood and seeing the crazy costumes that people come up with. I am never that creative and usually don't think about what I am going to wear until the day of the event so I love seeing how much effort people put in to their outfits. I am having a little gathering of people at my house tonight (don't call it a party) to have some cocktails and nibbles before we head up to the WeHo Carnivale. It should be a blast and I am sure I will have more to tell you (and hopefully pictures to share). Over the next few days I will be featuring recipes that I made for my gathering (I told you not to call it a party!), and this is the first. As I mentioned, I failed miserably at making brittle. The first time I think my problem was not cooking the mixture long enough in the second part of the procedure. The second time, my mistake was letting the mixture get too dry. I didn't want to try it again (mostly because I was running out of sugar by this point) so I found this spicy pepitas recipe to use instead. Mine took a little longer than the suggested 5 minutes (more like 10), but they were really simple and tasty. Hope you all have a fabulous day and evening and enjoy your tricks...and treats!

Spicy Pepitas
(From Food Network)

2 cups Pepitas (raw hulled green pumpkin seeds)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground Ancho chiles or chili powder
2 teaspoons lime juice


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Spread on a baking sheet and bake 5-10 minutes, or until puffed and golden, shaking the pan once or twice. Serve

Proof that I suck at candy making:

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sesame-Garlic Soba Noodles with a Fried Egg

Sometimes when I get home from work I am not hungry at all. Other times, I am so hungry I can eat the entire contents of my fridge in one sitting (or an entire cheesecake). In order to prevent me gaining a hundred pounds in one sitting, I like to look for quick meals to prepare for a weeknight. I recently saw this recipe on The Kitchn and new I had to try it immediately. I am not the hugest fan of ginger, but I recently decided not to completely rule it out of recipes so I bought a little hunk at the farmers market. I cooked my egg a lot less done than I normally like, but the yolk actually ended up being really good with the soba and created kind of a sauce. In fact, this was so good that I wanted to make more right after I finished the plate, but I consoled myself with some cheesecake instead. I am definitely going to try this again with either more vegetables or some chicken.

Sesame-Garlic Soba Noodles
(From The Kitchn)

1 cup soba noodles - about 1.5 ounces dry
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced (reserve some for garnish)
1 egg
Extra salt

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the soba noodles. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to serving dish. Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium heat and add the sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, and sauté until fragrant, about thirty seconds to one minute. Remove from heat and stir in the soy sauce. Pour this sauce over the noodles, add the green onion, and toss until the noodles are evenly coated. Set the same small pan you just used back over medium-high heat. Crack an egg into the pan, being careful not to break the yolk. When the whites have set, use a spatula to gently but swiftly flip the egg over. Cook for a minute or two until the whites are completely cooked but the yolk is still liquid. Slide the egg on top of the noodles, garnish with green onion. Serve immediately

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers October Challenge: Pizza Like a Pizzaiolo

For the second month in a row, the Daring Bakers have a savory challenge. I'm not complaining though! Well, it didn't have to be savory, but that is what I decided to go with. This was brought to us by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums and was chosen by Sher of What Did You Eat before she suddenly passed away in July. Rosa wanted to stay true to Sher's desires so she picked the pizza dough recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. This is actually the recipe I tried last month, but at the time, I cut out about half the steps. This time I did all the steps (Kind of). One of the rules was that we had to get a picture of ourselves tossing the pizza so a couple of weekends ago, my dear friend agreed to let me come over and make pizza and photograph me doing it. The other rule was that we had to have some kind of sauce. I am not a saucy pizza kind of gal so this was actually a little difficult for me to come up with a combination that I would enjoy and still be different from other pizzas I have had recently. At first I thought I would do some kind of garlic oil with a few herbs, but I remembered I had some pomegranates so I thought they would be interesting on the pizza. Once at the store, my friend suggested that maybe a pomegranate reduction would be good so I picked up some juice. This was the idea that inspired the pomegranate sauce for the chicken and waffles. I also got some fresh mozzarella. I like arugula on pizza so I decided to add that and then at the last minute I thought of adding the prosciutto because I really like the combination of arugula and prosciutto on pizza. We ended up making this combination of pizza two different ways. The first time, I tossed the dough (rather unsuccessfully) and then topped it with the mozzarella. Baked that for about five minutes and then layered on the rest of the toppings. This was the prettier pizza. The second pizza I rolled out. We brushed it with olive oil, then a little of the pomegranate syrup and then we added the mozzarella. We baked this for a few minutes and then added the prosciutto and arugula and baked it for another two or three minutes. Then we topped it with more of the syrup. This was the tastier (and messier) pizza. In both cases, the dough didn't get quite as crispy as I wanted, but it was ok. Both were delicious with my favorite part of each being the salty prosciutto with juicy bites of pomegranate seeds. I have a lot of dough left over since I made the full recipe and I am looking forward to making several more pizzas in the coming months...but without the hole-y dough tossing. To get the dough recipe visit Rosa's site and to see if the other Daring Bakers pizzas didn't end up on the floor (or with big holes in the middle), visit the blogroll.





Toppings

Extra-virgin olive oil
Pomegranate syrup (recipe below)
Fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Baby arugula
Prosciutto, sliced
Pomegranate seeds from one POM Wonderful pomegranate


Pomegranate Syrup

8 ounces POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 or 2 springs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
Dash each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan combine the pomegranate juice, balsamic vinegar, thyme and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the mixture reduce by 3/4 and then add the sugar. Simmer until thickened and the sauce can coat the back of a spoon.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blushing Pom Holiday Cheesecake

As I mentioned the other day, the nice people at POM Wonderful sent me a case of juice. I have some whole pomegranates around my house and I have some cool recipes planned, but I am going to try and spread them out so as not to overload you lovely people that read my blog with pom recipes. After doing some recipe searching on the POM Wonderful site, I settled on this cheesecake as one of the recipes I wanted to try. I have never made my own cheesecake before and lately, I have been seeing some really cool cheesecake recipes in the blogosphere so I have had a little craving for it. This is really easy to make. It takes a bit of time with the chilling so I am glad I saved it for a weekend project. I greatly reduced the original recipe to make 2 mini cakes. I could not get enough of this cake though. I felt a little like Rachel and Chandler in that episode of Friends when they steal the neighbor's cheesecake. Lucky for me, I didn't have to eat cheesecake off the floor. I had a couple of cracks in one of my cakes, but I was able to cover it up nicely with the glaze. The title says that this is a holiday cheesecake, but it is ideal for anytime you have a cheesecake craving.

By the way, are you watching Gossip Girl this season?? It's so good and I can't wait for next week's episode. Last night featured music from pop darling Robyn. My friend Tony got to meet her over the weekend and you can read all about it here.


Blushing POM Holiday Cheesecake
(Adapted from Pom Wonderful)

Makes 1 9-inch cake (Or 2 4.5-inch cakes in my case)

For the Crust:
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

For the glaze:
6 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Garnish (optional)
Pomegranate arils
Mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

To make the crust:
Stir together crumbs, sugar and butter until moistened. Press evenly into bottom of two 4.5 inch spring form pans or one 9 inch baking dish.

To make the filling:
In a large mixer bowl beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed of electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, milk, vanilla and salt just until blended. Pour over crust in pan; spread evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 20 to 25 minutes more, until cake is firm at sides and soft-set (jiggles slightly) in the center. Do not over-bake.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for up to 2 hours, then cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours before serving. (Refrigerate cake for up to 1 week.)

To make the topping:
In saucepan combine juice with sugar and cornstarch. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Cool slightly; spread glaze over cake.

Sprinkle arils on top; garnish with mint leaves if desired.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

I discovered this dish last year and often think about making it again, but it has taken me a while. After the chicken and waffle madness, I was looking for something a little lighter to close out the weekend with (probably didn't help that I consumed half a cheesecake after it, but more on that tomorrow). This is a really quick and easy dish to throw together. I couldn't find my can of tomatoes (I guess they magically disappeared) so I just used a few fresh Roma tomatoes that I had planned on roasting. Yes, I am still roasting tomatoes and soon I will be using them in recipes. This is so good with a nice kick from the red pepper flakes. I forgot the garlic and it still turned out great. It is an absolute must to serve this with some crusty bread to sop up the amazing juices.



Shrimp Fra Diavolo
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional as needed
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 to 2 teaspoons
1/2 medium onion, sliced
7 ounces diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
Dash dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 2 teaspoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside.

Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chicken and Waffles

Even though I have lived in LA for quite some time, I have never been to Roscoe's and had their chicken and waffles. Last weekend, Raul and I got the bright idea that we should make breakfast this weekend. We traded recipes all week and finally on Friday we settled on chicken and waffles. It took a while to find a waffle that we both liked and finally we settled on one of Emeril's recipe for waffles. I decided to serve my portion with a pomegranate syrup that I had experimented with last weekend. The generous people at Pom Wonderful sent me a whole bunch of juice so I used some for the syrup. For the fried chicken we just cut a couple of chicken breasts into strips, marinated them in some buttermilk and then coated them with some seasoned flour before tossing them in the deep fryer. Despite running in to a couple of complications (Raul doesn't have baking powder and we ran out of eggs so we had to make Jen pick a couple up), this turned out to be a really great meal that we devoured before settling in to a marathon of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. A hot Saturday with good friends, good food, and good wine, what could be better?


Chicken and Waffles

Waffles
(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon, cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick cooking spray, optional

Chicken:

2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
Buttermilk for coating the chicken
Kosher salt and black pepper
All-purpose flour
Paprika
Garlic salt
Cayenne pepper

Pomegranate Syrup
8 ounces pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

To make the waffles:
Preheat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Into a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved and eggs have turned a pale yellow. Add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the egg-milk mixture and whisk just until blended. Do not overmix.

In a third bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter, being careful not to overmix.

Coat the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, if required, and pour enough batter in the iron to just cover the waffle grid. Close and cook as per the manufacturer’s instructions until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. (Do not open the waffle iron for at least 1 minute.) Repeat with the remaining batter.


To make the chicken:
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay the seasoned chicken in a medium bowl and cover with enough buttermilk to coat all of the chicken. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet or deep fryer to 350 degrees.

Pour flour onto a plate, season the flour with garlic salt, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper to taste. Toss the chicken in the flour to coat all of the pieces.

Fry the chicken for 6-8 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Pumpkin Shortcakes with Apple Compote and Vanilla Honey Ice Cream

Does this dessert scream fall, or what? While looking up recipes for my Halloween gathering, I stumbled upon these shortcakes and just had to make them. I made a few adjustments because I found this apple at the farmers market that I completely fell in love with so I decided to use it in the compote. I (conveniently) forgot the name of the apple, but any good baking apple will do. I also have a plethora of vanilla beans from my impulse buy last month so I thought I would throw a little bit of that in the mix. I'm not huge on whipped cream so I served the shortcake with a little vanilla honey ice cream (save the honeybees!). This was easy and fairly quick and so good. The ice cream was especially refreshing with the hot windy weather we have been experiencing and I added a little cinnamon to the sugar crust on top of the shortcakes which was just divine (did I just say "divine"?). I ate this as my dinner a.) because I could, and b.) because it's 98 freaking degrees and I wanted ice cream for dinner. Now, I need to ask you all for some help. I am having a small gathering of people before our Halloween debauchery and I am a little stumped for recipes. I'm looking for something easy, preferably finger food, and savory as I already have two sweet recipes planned. Send any and all suggestions my way!

I'm submitting this recipe to Cookthink's Root Source Challenge - Pumpkin.




Pumpkin Shortcakes with Apple Compote and Vanilla Honey Ice Cream

Pumpkin Shortcakes
(Adapted from Cooking Light)

1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon granulated sugar mixed with a dash of cinnamon

Apple Compote

1/2 cup water
1 inch section of vanilla bean, split in half
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 apple, peeled cored, and cubed



To make the shortcakes:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To prepare shortcakes, spoon pumpkin onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels; spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 10 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Add milk and 1/4 cup water, stirring to combine.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until butter pieces are pea-sized. Add pumpkin mixture; stir just until moist. Drop dough by level 1/4 cup measures 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Flatten dough to 1/2-inch thickness using lightly floured hands. Sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar mixed with a dash or two of cinnamon. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

To make the compote:

In a small saucepan, combine the water, agave nectar, cinnamon, vanilla bean and seeds, salt and bring to a boil. Boil until the mixture thickens slightly and then add the apples. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture has thickened and the apples are tender, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

To assemble the shortcakes:

Split each cake in half with a serrated knife. Spoon a scoop of ice cream over the bottom half of the shortcake, top the ice cream with a spoonful of compote and top with the top half of the shortcake.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Vegetable Pot Pie

It's the fourth Thursday of the month. That means it is time for another Barefoot Bloggers recipe. Deb of Kahakai Kitchen chose Ina's vegetable pot pie. I have never been an eater of pot pie. Being foreign, my mom never made it while growing up and if I tried a friend's, I usually just ate the buttery crust and left all the rest behind. Whatever, this is a challenge and I was up for it. I got most of the vegetables at the farmers market, but since I try to eat as in season as I can, I left out the asparagus. I found fennel at the regular grocery store (some of which I used in the Mediterranean Salad), and I subbed sweet potatoes in for regular potatoes because I don't much like regular potatoes. I also changed a lot of the pastry recipe. I decided to go with a standard pate brisee, and I added a bit of fresh rosemary to the dough. I am really glad I did that because I could not get enough of this dough. The way the recipe is presented on the Food Network website is a little strange, so if you decide to try it, be sure and make the dough first so that you don't spend eight hours making this dish. Luckily, I read the entire recipe. If for some strange reason, I were to make this recipe again, I would skip the step of salting the dough before it goes in the oven. It ended up being just a little too salty for my taste. How did I like it? Well, it was fine. Ina always makes great recipes, but this sure didn't convince me that I love pot pies. To see if the other Barefoot Bloggers love pot pies, visit the blogroll. If you're interested in joining the Bloggers, follow the link.


Vegetable Pot Pie
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
Splash dry white wine
Pinch saffron threads
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Splash heavy cream
1 sweet potato, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tablepoons-1/4 cup, ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Kosher salt

To make the dough:
For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and rosemary of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour.

To make the filling:
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and saute until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, wine, saffron, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and season to taste. The sauce should be highly seasoned. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon. Add the carrots and squash to the pot and cook in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well. Add the potatoes, mixed vegetables, and parsley to the sauce and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the sides, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Penne with Acorn Squash and Pancetta

I have a not so fun day ahead. For me, when times are dark, I take comfort in this song and a nice bowl of something warm and comforting doesn't hurt either. I bookmarked this recipe a while back because of the acorn squash. I have been cooking so much with butternut that I thought it would be a nice change. I finally got around to picking up the acorn squash at the farmers market the other day and I knew I wanted to try this recipe this week. It takes a bit of time so don't start it when you're really hungry, but definitely try it at some point. I didn't change the recipe too much from the original except I added some shallots and used less pancetta than was called for. I think the next time I make this (and there will definitely be a next time), I will puree the squash to make more of a smooth sauce. A bowl of this pasta, a warm blanket, a glass of wine and a favorite tv show are all I need to bring me back to a more positive place. And of course, this song:



Penne with Acorn Squash and Pancetta
(From The Kitchn)

Penne with Acorn Squash and Pancetta
serves 4

1 acorn squash
1 small head of garlic
1/2 pound penne
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for coating squash and garlic
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh rosemary
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Slice the squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut each half crosswise into wedges, about 1/2-inch thick. Toss the wedges with a splash of olive oil until coated, and spread on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the top off of the garlic head so that the tops of the cloves are exposed. Drizzle on a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on the edge of the baking sheet with the squash.

Bake the squash and garlic for about 30 minutes, turning the squash once, until it is soft and slightly caramelized. (Depending on how big the head of garlic is, it may take longer. Leave it in the oven while you peel and chop the squash.)

Allow the squash to cool slightly. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to boil (for the pasta). Then, peel each wedge of squash and cut into large chunks.

Heat the 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat in a medium stock pot or large, wide sauce pan. Sauté the pancetta until most of the fat is rendered and the meat is crispy, about 15 minutes. About halfway through, cook the pasta.

When the pancetta is finished cooking, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the shallots to the pan and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the broth, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom. Stir in the rosemary and about four cloves of the roasted garlic, mashing them up in the liquid with the back of a spoon or spatula.

Add the chunks of squash and pancetta to the pan. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the squash/pancetta mixture. Toss everything to coat, then stir in the Parmesan. Add a bit of the pasta water if the mixture seems too dry.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Mediterranean Salad with Prosciutto and Pomegranate

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!! Mine was filled with lots and lots of cooking...and catching up on some tv. It was a mostly good weekend. Raul and I finally got to the farmers market and Trader Joes. I felt like I bought the store, but it was definitely worth it. I am so looking forward to making all kinds of delicious things this week. My friend who cooked with me agreed that fall is the best time of year. Not only for fashion but for the most amazing food. I actually didn't think I would be bringing you another pomegranate recipe so soon (even though I still have 3 huge fruits left), but I found this recipe last week and couldn't resist making it for my lunch for today. I actually made a similar combination of flavors the other day for something fun I have planned and I had a bunch of stuff left over. This a really fast recipe that can be used as an appetizer at a nice dinner or a quick lunch. I can't promise that you won't see pomegranates from me again this week, but I do promise that I have some other things and will hopefully bring you a fun week of food!

Did you watch Adele on SNL this weekend? Here she is performing at an NYC radio station. Simply amazing! The girl is only 20 years old!

Mediterranean Salad with Prosciutto and Pomegranate
(Adapted from Epicurious)

1 cup very thinly sliced fennel bulb
Extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
2 big handfuls of arugula
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves
Splash balsamic vinegar
Thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into strips
Pomegranate seeds
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss fennel and 2 teaspoons olive oil in medium bowl. Sprinkle with a dash of salt.

Combine arugula, green onions, mint, vinegar, and 2 teaspoons olive oil in large bowl; toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide greens among plates. Top with fennel, then drape with prosciutto. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over.



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Friday, October 17, 2008

Pomegranate Pound Cake

I honestly think that by the end of pomegranate season that me and all of my surroundings will be turned into a deep red color. Even as I type, there is a splatter of pomegranate juice on my glasses. I can't help it though. I love those little seeds and the juice they produce. It is literally difficult for me to start a day without some pomegranate green tea and last weekend while I was taking care of my mom, I also spent a lot of time munching on pom seeds. I don't feel so bad though because there are way worse things I could be addicted to. For example, I am still in an NKOTB hangover from a week ago and can't stop downloading songs and music videos and I am now wanting to wear pegged jeans and hats with the tops cut off. Perhaps the problem is just mental. That was probably a little too much info so now I will just talk about the cake. It's good and it's easy to make. A little tip I learned from the ever helpful folks at The Kitchn...freeze your leftover buttermilk in ice cube trays by the tablespoon full. All I had to do was thaw out the number of tablespoons I needed for this recipe. Find out how to do it here. During one of my kitchen cleaning frenzies, I found these cute mini bundt pans so I divided my cake between two of them and the rest I did in a loaf pan. If you don't have those mini bundt pans, don't fret, just use the 8x4 pan recommended in the recipe. And now for my weekly Adele plug, make sure to tune in to (or set your DVRs to) SNL tomorrow night. The amazingly talented Adele will be performing and I promise, you will be blown away by her beautiful voice. Go here to check out her latest music video.



Pomegranate Pound Cake
(From Cooking Light)

3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1 large)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat sugar and butter at medium-high speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, lime zest, vanilla, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in pomegranate seeds.

Spoon batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers Bonus: Easy Cheese Danish

As I mentioned the other day, I didn't make it to the farmers market or even the regular market last weekend so I am improvising this week. I decided to make this bonus recipe for Barefoot Bloggers with things I had in the kitchen already so I subbed mascarpone for cream cheese and left out the ricotta. These were really easy to make, but I probably should have double checked how tightly I sealed them. A little over 10 minutes in to their baking time, I noticed that my apartment was beginning to smell lovely and lemony and mascarpone-y. I flicked on the oven light and saw that mascarpone was leaking all over the baking sheet and under the parchment paper (probably would have helped to read the directions and seal the edges with egg wash instead of just brushing the egg wash on the top of the pastries). I quickly removed the Danish because I wasn't interested in cleaning off burning cheese from the baking sheet. They puffed up while baking, but quickly deflated when I removed them and became a little soggy from the leaking mascarpone. Despite my blunders, these still tasted great and I would definitely try the recipe again in it's original version. Once again, the pomegranates have nothing to do with the recipe, but they sure do look pretty don't they? Visit the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see if others were more successful with their Danishes. If you're interested in signing up for Barefoot Bloggers, follow this link. Many thanks to Val of More Than Burnt Toast for picking the recipe!


Easy Cheese Danish
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

Makes 4 Danish

6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Cream together the mascarpone and sugar until mixer. With an electric mixer on low speed, add the egg yolks, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold one sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it‘s a 10x10 inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the puff pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dragon's Chicken Wings

A couple of months ago I saw a post for these chicken wings on TasteSpotting and bookmarked the recipe. Since I am still lacking in a well-stocked kitchen this week, I figured now was the perfect time to try it. I had all the spices and just made a quick trip to my neighborhood superstore for the wings. As some of you know, I have two supermarkets on my corner, but I really try to avoid getting most things from the "superstore" because it is poorly stocked, and the other one is just so dang expensive that I can't justify paying their prices in these tough economic times. That said, a girl's gotta eat so I broke down this once. I made some adjustments to the original recipe because I like things hot (actually, it was mostly because I had less wings than the original, but I do also like things hot). The pomegranates had nothing to do with the recipe except for the fact that I have an excess of pomegranates and thought they would look pretty in this picture. I also thought the sweet seeds would provide a little relief to the spice, but this wasn't nearly as spicy as I thought it would be. If you try this, I strongly suggest marinating it overnight so that the amazing flavor is in every part of the chicken. Dragon is right in her post, dare you to eat just one.


Dragon's Chicken Wings
(Adapted from Dragon's Kitchen)

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 large bay leaf, crumbled fine
1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red chili flakes
Pinch ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 lbs of uncooked chicken wings

Using a food processor, mash the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, salt, chili peppers, black pepper and olive oil into a paste. Put the paste mixture into a large ziplock bag. Add chicken wings to the bag, seal the bag and rub the paste all over the wings. Refrigerate for several hours or over night.

Remove the chicken wings from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.

Arrange the wings on a lightly oiled cookie sheet; place it 6 inches from the heat. Broil the chicken wings 10-12 minutes until nicely browned; turn the wings and brown another 10 minutes longer until sizzling. It might take less time depending on your oven.

Transfer the chicken wings to a plate and drizzle the pan drippings over the wings.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches

As you may have noticed by the banner on the right side of the blog, I recently became a Featured Publisher on Foodbuzz. Yesterday they issued this release to announced the launch of the Publisher Community. Foodbuzz is really awesome about bringing together people that love food from all over the world. To learn more about it, visit the Foodbuzz website and check out the press release below. Time for me to go put away laundry that never got dry from the stupid machine in my building!


LAUNCH OF GLOBAL FOODBUZZ BLOGGER COMMUNITY

LEVERAGES REAL-PEOPLE, REAL-TIME POWER OF FOOD PUBLISHING

San Francisco – October 13, 2008: Foodbuzz, Inc., officially inaugurates its food blogger community with more than 1,000 blog partners, a global food blogging event and an online platform that captures the real-people, real-time power of food publishing in every corner of the world. At launch, the Foodbuzz community ranks as one of the top-10 Internet destinations for food and dining (Quantcast), with bloggers based in 45 countries and 863 cities serving up daily food content.

“Food bloggers are at the forefront of reality publishing and the dramatic growth of new media has redefined how food enthusiasts access tasty content,” said Doug Collister, Executive Vice President of Foodbuzz, Inc. “Food bloggers are the new breed of local food experts and at any minute of the day, Foodbuzz is there to help capture the immediacy of their hands-on experiences, be it a memorable restaurant meal, a trip to the farmers market, or a special home-cooked meal.”

Foodbuzz is the only online community with content created exclusively by food bloggers and rated by foodies. The site offers more than 20,000 pieces of new food and dining content weekly, including recipes, photos, blog posts, videos and restaurant reviews. Members decide the “tastiness” of each piece of content by voting and “buzz” the most popular posts to the top of the daily menu of submissions. Foodbuzz currently logs over 13 million monthly page views and over three million monthly unique visitors.

“Our goal is to be the number-one online source of quality food and dining content by promoting the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of food bloggers around the globe,” said Ben Dehan, founder and CEO of Foodbuzz, Inc.

The Foodbuzz blogger community is growing at a rate of 40 percent per month driven by strong growth in existing partner blogs and the addition of over 100 new blogs per month. “The Foodbuzz.com Web site is like the stock of a great soup. The Web site provides the base or backbone for bloggers to interact as a community, contribute content, and have that content buzzed by their peers,” said Mr. Dehan.

Global Blogging Event

Demonstrating the talent and scope of the Foodbuzz community, 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs offered online food enthusiasts an international, virtual street festival of food and diversity. The new feature showcased blog posts from 24 Foodbuzz partner bloggers chronicling events occurring around the globe during a 24 hour period and included:


24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs” captures the quality and unique local perspective of our food bloggers and shared it with the world,” said Ryan Stern, Director of the Foodbuzz Publisher Community. “It illustrates exactly what the future of food publishing is all about – real food, experienced by real people, shared real-time.”

About Foodbuzz, Inc.

Based in San Francisco, Foodbuzz, Inc., launched its beta Web site, foodbuzz.com, in 2007. In less than a year, Fooduzz.com and its community of over 1,000 exclusive partner food blogs have grown into an extended online property that reaches more than three million users.

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Hummus

Finally! A new food post. I actually wasn't sure I was going to be able to get this up because I had a quick night out with a couple of girlfriends at my favorite restaurant. We finished early enough so I could come home and watch my favorite show...I mean, cook something yummy. My fridge and cupboards are pretty bare, and I didn't feel like making a trip to the grocery store. Then I remembered this recipe for hummus that I saw a couple of weeks ago. I especially liked that it didn't use tahini which is really expensive at my store (I'm STILL waiting on that sugar daddy). I decided to add a little extra texture with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of pine nuts and paprika. This is really easy and can be mixed up so many different ways (next time I am for sure doing roasted garlic) and it's a great, healthy snack to take to work.

Hummus
(Adapted from The Delicious Life)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Paprika to taste
Pine nuts (optional)

In a small food processor pulse together the chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and a few dashes. Add more oil as needed until the hummus reaches a smooth consistency. Add the parsley and pulse a few times until just combined. Serve drizzled with olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika, and pine nuts if desired.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

BIT

I'm back in town. Thank you for the many well wishes! My mom is doing well and resting somewhat comfortably as she begins her long rehab to being 100 percent. I didn't get a chance to cook last night because a I had to clean up the mess made by painters and extremely windy conditions all weekend, but I hope to have something delicious for you later today or early tomorrow. Also, I missed the farmers market this weekend, but managed to pick up a bunch of beautiful pomegranates courtesy of my mom's friend who had a bunch left from her tree. Hope to do something fun with those so stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out ADELE's new video. She will be on SNL this Saturday so make sure to set your DVRs!!

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Blogging Break

Hey all - no new recipes today and tomorrow. I'm in Nor Cal taking care of my mom who just had a minor surgery. While she is resting (aka drugged out) I will be able to catch up on all my reading and respond to comments. Hope you all have an amazing weekend!! I'll be back Sunday or Monday.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Butternut Squash Risotto

Hmmm, remember that whole thing about me being sick yesterday? I totally went against my own advice (and common sense) and went to go see NKOTB last night. I never got to see them when I was young so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see them for free! It was so amazing. Full of people my age remembering the boys in their glory days. I am deaf and mute today, but it was probably worth it. My ears are still ringing and I still have no voice, but maybe I can take a nap on the plane later today. Yeah, right. it's only an hour flight. Anyway, another day, another recipe I have never tried before. This week's Barefoot Bloggers was chosen by Rachel of Rachel Likes to Cook. Risotto was definitely on my list of things to try, but I had just made all these things with butternut squash so I was a little disappointed about having to get another one so soon. Oh well, onward. I picked up a fairly small squash at the farmers market and found a (huge!) box of risotto at Trader Joes. The saffron there wasn't too expensive, but I still haven't found that sugar daddy yet, so I had to leave it out of the recipe. The cooking time was a little longer than the recommended 30 minutes. I think it took me closer to 40, but it was worth it. This was creamy and delicious, but I am sure it would have been even better with the saffron. This was the perfect meal for a late Sunday lunch with a glass of wine and Us Weekly...I mean, a good book. To check out the other Barefoot Bloggers' risottos, visit the blogroll. To find out how to sign up for the group, go here.



Butternut Squash Risotta
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

1 small butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce pancetta, diced
1/4 cup minced shallots
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Orange Chicken

Gotta keep this post short and sweet. I'm a little sickie today and must rest before I hop on a plane tomorrow night. On Friday, when I wanted to have a whole take out dinner in, I also wanted to make orange chicken. I didn't get to it that night because of the time, but I got to make it a couple of days later. This took a little more time than I expected, but it was really good. I think it could have been a little crispier, but that was probably my own fault for not deep frying. This isn't an original recipe, but I printed it out so long ago and forgot to write down where I printed it from. I changed a couple of things, but if you recognize the recipe, please let me know where it is from so I can give the author credit!

Orange Chicken

For the marinade:
1/2 cup orange juice
Zest from 1/2 of an orange
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
A couple of drops toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:
3/4 cup orange juice
Zest from 1/2 orange
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

For the chicken:
1/2 lb chicken breast, cut into cubes
Canola oil for frying
1 cup cornstarch

Additional:
2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cooked brown rice
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 green onions, sliced

Combine the ingredients for the marinade, add the chicken and marinate for 15-20 minutes.

In a medium sauce pot, combine the ingredients for the sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by 3/4. Stir in the cornstarch and water mixture until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

Toss the chicken cubes in the 1 cup of cornstarch. Shake off the excess cornstarch before frying.

Meanwhile, heat up enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet or wok. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the chicken cubes and fry until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Drain the chicken on paper towels and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Add the cooked chicken to the sauce. Mix until coated. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion and serve over rice.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Faster No Knead Bread

This week is the week of me making things I have never made before. I have been wanting to make a bread for a while and of course I have seen the recipe for No Knead Bread, but I didn't have two days (well, 18 hours) to prepare for it. I got home from Disneyland the other day knowing I wanted to make this, but didn't really feel like starting bread at 11:00 at night. Then Mark Bittman posted this recipe that changed my life. That may be a slight exaggeration (I am known to exaggerate once in a while), but it was the perfect solution. As much as I enjoy kneading (releases the tension developed from dealing with annoying actors), this was a recipe with a minimum effort for maximum result. All it really involved was stirring the dough and folding it over after it sat out for 4 hours. It's a really sticky dough, so the folding over was actually a bit more involved than I thought I would be, but overall this is a really easy recipe for bread which is something I often find myself wanting, but not something that regularly appears on my grocery list. It was so good with a nice crusty outside and a soft, chewy inside. I can't go through an entire loaf of bread myself within a week so I froze the rest to use for a later time.

Faster No Knead Bread

(From Mark Bittman)

3 cups bread flour (I used all-purpose with excellent results)
1 packet (1/4 ounce) instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Oil as needed

Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Shrimp Fried Rice

I used to like ordering take out (or delivery in my case) on Friday nights after a long week of work. Now, even though it takes a while to prepare, I like making my own versions of my favorites. This past Friday, I was in the mood for some rice. I actually had a whole menu planned with other things, but I went out the night before and was in no mood to prep a bunch of different recipes. Just one would be fine that night. I settled on Jaden's Shrimp Fried Rice which I found on Simply Recipes. I had an inkling I would be in the mood for this so I actually cooked the rice the night before. I prefer a drier rice so I did 1 cup of rice for 1 and 3/4 cup of water. Overall, this was a really simple and delicious recipe that didn't take to long to make. The only change I made was adding a little garlic to the mix because there are few foods (besides desserts) that I can eat without garlic. I am definitely going to be making this often.


Shrimp Fried Rice
(From Jaden Hair for Simply Recipes)

12 raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 stalks green onion, chopped
2 cups leftover rice
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil


In a bowl, toss the shrimp with the salt, pepper and cornstarch. Let marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature. Heat a wok or large sauté pan on high heat. When the pan is hot enough for a bead of water to instantly sizzle and evaporate, add just 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and swirl to coat pan.

Add the shrimp, quickly spreading out around the cooking surface area so that they are not overlapping. Let fry, untouched for 30 seconds. Flip over and let the other side fry for 30 seconds, or until about 80% cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the pan onto a plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.

Turn the heat to medium, let the pan heat up again. Add the eggs, stirring in a quick motion to break up and scramble the eggs. When the eggs are almost cooked through (they should still be slightly runny in the middle), dish out of the pan into the same plate as the cooked shrimp.

Use paper towels to wipe the same wok or sauté pan clean and return to high heat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, swirling to coat. When the oil is very hot, add the garlic and green onions and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add in the rice and stir well to mix in the green onions throughout. Spread the rice all around the wok surface area and let the rice heat up, untouched until you hear the bottoms of the grains sizzle, about 1-2 minutes. Use the spatula to toss the rice, again spreading the rice out over the surface of wok.

Drizzle the soy sauce all around the rice and toss. Add the peas, the cooked eggs, shrimp and sesame oil, tossing to mix the rice evenly with all of the ingredients. Let everything heat back up again. Taste and add an additional 1 teaspoon of soy sauce if needed.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Won!

I don't win many things (or anything) so I was particularly excited this past Friday morning when I saw a message on my BlackBerry saying I won Coothink's Root Source Challenge - Honey. On a whim I decided to enter my Honey, Pistachio and Chocolate Chip Biscotti and the fine folks at Cookthink thought it was as good as I did. Enjoy and have a spectacular Sunday!

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A long, long time ago one of my friends insisted that I try her mom's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. This was back in the day when I didn't think that I liked things like pumpkin, but that was only because I had only had it in gross things like pumpkin pie (which I am still not a fan of to this day). But then I tried those cookies and I realized I do indeed like pumpkin. A couple of years ago I found a recipe for pumpkin cookies on cooks.com. This isn't the same as the recipe my friend's mom made, but I like the soft, cake-like texture of these cookies. They definitely are helping me get into the mood for Halloween which is one of my favorite holidays even though it isn't really a holiday. Have you figured out your costumes yet? Every year, I promise that the following year I will have some great costume idea and then the day sneaks up on me and I have nothing. I still have no idea what to dress up as this year! Any and all suggestions (especially inexpensive ones) are welcome. Now, I have been known to make tortillas from scratch out of boredom and other crazy things, but this is one of those times that it is perfectly acceptable to buy canned pumpkin...unless you find yourself with a surplus of them after Halloween. If you're like me and just want to get out of the store quickly because it's Friday night and you're exhausted, please make sure you inspect the can and make sure all the edges are even. This will protect you from cut fingers, pumpkin all over your kitchen and general frustration (I'm guessing. I don't follow my own advice so all of the above happened to me). I'm bringing these little treats with me as my friends and I make our way to Disneyland for the day! Hope you're having a great Saturday.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
(From Cooks.com)

1 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees


Dissolve baking soda in milk and set aside. In large bowl whisk together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla, and egg.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and then. Stir in the baking soda mixture and then chocolate chips. Spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until done.

Amusing pics of my kitchen covered in pumpkin:


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Friday, October 3, 2008

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

Ok, here's the last of the butternut squash recipes...for this week. I was going to try and do something different for next week (acorn squash anyone?), but it turns out the recipe for next week's Barefoot Bloggers has...you guessed it! Maybe the following week I will mix it up. Until then, enjoy this one. One night last week I couldn't sleep because this recipe was running through my head. I finally got around to making it and it was actually as good as what I dreamed it would be. To mellow out the taste of the sage and garlic, I heated them in a bit of olive oil which I then used for the dressing, hence making this a warm salad. This is definitely going to be on my rotation of work lunches this fall.


Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
(By Esi)

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 orange, juiced
Cumin, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the squash with a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread onto a foil covered baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, turn and bake for an additional 15 minutes until tender. Set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup lightly salted water and 1/2 cup quinoa to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.

In a separate saute pan heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sage and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic is soft, but not browned. Add the orange juice, cumin, and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the orange juice mixture with the quinoa. Add the butternut squash and toss to combine. Serve warm, garnished with sage leaves if desired.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pomegranate Ice Cream

So as I said yesterday there were so many pomegranates at one of the farmers markets I went to this past weekend. I absolutely love pomegranates, especially over Pinkberry. In fact, I have been known to run into Pinkberry in New York in the middle of December and have an order of plain yogurt with pomegranate seeds. Luckily, with the blog, I am not eating out as much so I am not indulging in the "swirly goodness" as much as I used to. I recently came across this ice cream recipe and it was perfect for so many reasons. First, the pomegranates. Second, the fact that it doesn't need my non-existent ice cream maker, and third...did I mention I love pomegranates? This was really easy minus the whisking part. I eventually caved and whipped out my electric mixer. The other snag I ran into was having slightly less cream than the recipe called for. I subbed in with a little half-and-half which could have been my problem in developing the soft peaks this recipe called for. Make sure you wear protective clothing while juicing the pomegranates. You may want to protect your kitchen as well. I have lovely splatters of pomegranate juice on the blinds in my kitchen, but I think it adds a little character to my otherwise dull and outdated kitchen. Overall, this recipe turned out really well and next time I will do the full amount, and yes, I had ice cream for dinner. It was really hot!! If you like music (and really, who doesn't like music?) Check out my friend Tony's blog called Music Bleep!

Pomegranate Ice Cream
(Adapted from Nigella Express)

1 pomegranate
1 lime, juiced
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup half-and-half
Raw, unsalted pistachios, chopped (optional)

Push the pomegranate seeds through the sieve until you have about 6 tablespoons of juice. Reserve some of the seeds for garnish. Mix in the lime juice.

Whisk in the powdered sugar until it has dissolved. Whisk in the cream and keep whisking until soft peaks form.

Spoon and smooth the cream into a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve topped with reserved pomegranate seeds and pistachios if desired.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Apple Crumb Cake

Can you believe it is already October? I still haven't accomplished any of my New Year's resolutions. Well, actually I didn't make any resolutions, but if I had, I would not have done any of them by now. I cannot believe how fast this year is going by. It certainly doesn't feel like October. It's 100 degrees and muggy out, perfect time to bake, right? Well the other day I got the bright idea to do just that. I saw all these gorgeous apples and pomegranates at the two farmers markets I went to this past weekend so I got a couple of things and wanted to try a recipe. There are so many thousands of ways to cook with apples, but lately I have been craving a crumb cake. I based this recipe on one I tried a couple of months ago, but this time I baked them in my mini springform pans. This was so good with apples and cinnamon in every bite. Next time, I would use a little less flour in the crumbs because those were a little too *floury*, but otherwise, I was pleasantly surprised by how this turned out.

PS, Go vote

Apple Crumb Cake
(By Esi)

Makes enough for one 9-inch cake or two 4 1/2 inch cakes

For the filling:
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Crumbs:
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
3/4 cup flour
Pinch salt

For the cake:
1 tablespoon nonfat Greek yogurt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt

To make the filling:
In a small bowl mix the diced apples, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch and cinnamon and set aside.

To make the crumbs:
Mix the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter until smooth. Whisk in the flour until the mixture becomes a solid dough, set aside.

To make the cake:
Mix together the yogurt, vanilla and egg in a small bowl. In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add the butter to the flour mixture and using an electric mixture, slowly whisk in the yogurt mixture.

To assemble the cakes:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Spoon enough batter to cover the bottom of each pan. Top with the apple mixture, and then the remaining cake batter.

Break the crumbs into 1/2 inch thick pieces (they do not need to be even), and top the cake with the crumbs. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean - it will probably still be a little moist from the apples. Cool before serving.

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