Tag Archives: food

Southwest Hash with Baked Eggs and Spicy Chipotle Hollandaise

Last night was the October meetup of the cooking group (find out more about our group here!), and this month’s theme was Breakfast for Dinner.

The hubby and I were the hosts, which meant that we had the main course.  I was a little torn on what to make…there’s always the old standard quiche/strata mash-ups with veggies and stuff, but it wasn’t exactly new territory for me.  Crepes seemed too fussy, making a big chunk of meat was out (since the hubby and I are cutting it out of our diets), and all then there was the whole gluten-free restrictions – I could find carbs to sub in, but it all seemed like more than I wanted to get into.

So I narrowed it down by figuring out what sounded good to me: I knew I wanted to use eggs, I wanted it to be vegetarian and filling, and I wanted it to be pretty easy to put together at serving time so that I could actually enjoy having people over.  Combine all that with my love of big Mexican flavors, and this is where I ended up – a southwest flavored veggie hash blending yellow and sweet potato, a hollandaise with smoky adobo chilis, and eggs baked right on top. Continue reading Southwest Hash with Baked Eggs and Spicy Chipotle Hollandaise


Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

Banana bread has always been one of those all-time homey comfort foods for me (as it is, I’m sure, for most people).  Give me a fresh cup of coffee and a still-warm slice, and I’m in a happy place.  But there came a time, about a year ago, when banana bread became something more sinister…a treat that was only to be eaten if I felt like I was due for some massive tummy pain and nausea, resulting in me cursing the day I ever let a crumb of it pass over my lips. Continue reading Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

Gourmet Group 9/24/11 – Lemons!


Once a month our group gathers together (you can read more about that here) to make as much wonderful food as we can…and this month our theme was Lemons.  So that meant that all of our courses, from appetizer to dessert, had to make that delightful and tart citrus fruit the star of the show.   If you like, you can read about last month’s Gourmet Group theme here.

The theme of lemons was chosen by one of our hostesses, as a way to hang on to the last few moments of summer, and I have to say it really was one of our great dinners!


The Appetizer...Lemon thyme bruscetta with ricotta cheese and honey drizzle


What's Gourmet Group without libations? Parkside Fizz and Lemoncello with sparkling wine


Lemoncello shots for everyone!
One of our hostesses, adding the final touches of fresh rosemary


The Main Course...Chicken al Mattone (Chicken with a Brick)


Side Dish...Arugula and Mescaline salad with corn, tomato, blue cheese and lemon vinaigrette
Side Dish...Lemon Garlic Roasted Potatoes with fresh dill and chives
Yum! Our fantastic dinner.
Dessert! Lemon cake with basil infused syrup and fresh cream

Everything was so delicious that night…I really liked it all.  The appetizer was creamy and tart and crunchy, so great.  One of our group members makes her own Lemoncello, and it’ll knock you off your feet!  Between those shots and the Parkside Fizz mixed drinks, we were all ready to cheer for the lemon.  I’ve never been a great drink maker, so I’m always pretty grateful that we have a couple of members who really know how to put a good drink together.

The vinaigrette for the salad was beyond belief (and no oil!), I managed to use it on just about every course on my plate except dessert.  The potatoes turned out really nicely, they were my course, and soon I can post the recipe.  I never thought about combining lemon and potato, but man, once the fresh dill and chives hit the warm potatoes, I knew I would be making it again soon.

The chicken was so moist, and it was great to see it cooked under a brick!  A regular brick was wrapped in foil and laid on top of a butterflied chicken in a very hot oven.  It created such a wonderful moist roast, if you haven’t tried it I recommend doing some research and finding yourself a brick and some poultry!

And the dessert…it was so good.  Really.  No wheat was used in the cake batter, and the result was a light, almost angel food cake texture.  The basil infused sauce really made the whole thing, and it rounded out the light cake and cream so well.

Another great Gourmet Group, gang!  Next month I’m hosting…now I just need to think of a really great theme.

Anyone have any good ideas?


Thai Peanut Noodles

Peanut noodles are just about the best things ever.  That is, I guess, unless you are allergic to peanuts, or hate fresh veggies, or have a problem with tasting joy.

I always have a lot of fun making stir-fry or asian noodle dishes, because as long as you get the main pillars of the recipe to stand up you’re free to add or remove anything your little heart desires.  This is not food chemistry, nothing will collapse or deflate or combust if you decide to tweak the recipe a little bit to your liking (I mean, you know, unless you’re subbing out red peppers for lighter fluid.  That would be  bad).

So here are the 3 pillars you need to stand up to make your fabulous dish:

  1. Nicely cooked rice noodles that aren’t too mushy or so undercooked that they lodge into your molars.
  2. A peanut sauce that is rounded out (this includes all the big Thai flavors – salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy).
  3. Veggies that are thinly sliced and that make you happy to eat.

Everything else is up to you!  Freedom!

My husband and I are trying to eat more vegetarian meals, so for us I decided to use tofu as a protein source.  But this dish is fantastic with cooked shredded chicken (rotisserie chickens were made for things like this).  I also happen to really like red peppers and cucumbers in mine, but you could add any kind of veggies you like: broccoli florets, carrot, celery, radish, bok choy…anything you want.  I like to garnish the noodles with chopped peanuts, but I didn’t have any on hand today and so I subbed in pumpkin and sunflower seeds.  Still super yummy!

Thai Peanut Noodles

Serves 4-6

1/2 package rice noodles

14 oz can bean spouts, drained

8 oz can water chestnuts, drained and sliced into strips

1 red onion, sliced into thin strips

1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into thin strips

1 pkg extra firm tofu (I like West Soy)

2 Tb Tamari (or soy sauce)

freshly ground pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 bunch scallions, chopped

For the Sauce:

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger, minced

*1/2 jar natural peanut butter (I like Smuckers Natural creamy)

3 Tb lime juice

6 Tb rice vinegar

2 Tb cider vinegar

1/4 c Tamari (or soy sauce)

5 Tb sugar (see * below)

fresh ground pepper

1 Tb Sriracha (this is the hot stuff…optional or to taste)

1 Tb Sesame oil

2 Tb water, if needed to thin the sauce

*If you want to use regular peanut butter, just decrease

or eliminate the added sugar listed in the recipe

For the tofu:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Slice the tofu in half width wise and press for 20 minutes until the liquid has been removed.  Cut the tofu into 1/4 inch strips and place in a large bowl.  Combine the 2 Tb tamari, garlic powder, and pepper in the bowl, and gently cover the tofu slices in the mixture.  Use cooking spray on a cookie sheet or sheet pan, and lay the tofu slices on it.  Cook for 10 minutes on one side, then flip over and cook 10 more minutes.  This baking helps make the tofu more firm and hold together better in the noodles – plus it helps my meat loving husband feel like he’s chewing on something besides noodles and veggies!  Once they are done, let them cool off and then cut them into smaller strips.

For the Sauce:

 Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until it is a smooth consistency.   You don’t have to use a blender, sometime I just mix them all up in a bowl!  But the blender does make it smooth.  Give the sauce a taste and decide if you need to adjust any of the flavors.  If it feels too tangy from the vinegar, add some more sugar or tamari.  If it seems too salty, add more sugar or water.  Just try to make sure you are hitting all the different flavors of Thai seasonings, and you should be good!

For the Rice Noodles:

In a large pot boil enough water that it will cover the noodles.  After the water has boiled, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner.  Add the noodles and let them sit in the hot water for 7 minutes, or until they are done.  Drain them in a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cooled off.

Now you are ready to take all the parts and combine them together into one big bowl of deliciousness!  I find that using my cleaned hands is a less messy and quicker way of mixing all these things together, rather than using tongs or forks.  Combine the noodles, sauce, veggies, and tofu until everything is really well-integrated.  Then, pop it in the fridge and let them flavors all come together for a couple of hours.

Don’t be surprised if when you take the noodles out of the fridge they have soaked up a lot of the peanut sauce.  If you need to, add a little bit of hot water to them and let them come to room temp, and you will be ready to go.

Use Your Melon! A no-mess guide to cleaning and prepping

For some people, cleaning fruit is no big thing.  They have a way they’ve always done it, they’re happy with what they do, and they’ve manged to make it through life just fine, thank you very much!  For others…cleaning fruit – especially melons and pineapple, and ESPECIALLY in front of other people, can become an exercise in risk management and self-image damage control.

When I was working my way through culinary school, I had a part-time job in the morning prepping food for a cafeteria that fed hundreds of people during the lunch hour.  I worked my way through all of the different culinary stations eventually, but the one that every single cook had to start at first was the salad bar.  Working the salad bar is a difficult job with very little in the way of public adoration; the total opposite of say, the saute Continue reading Use Your Melon! A no-mess guide to cleaning and prepping

Bacon Wrapped Chicken stuffed with Summer Veggies

I used to have a neighbor that would stand outside with me while our small children played, and we would talk about the things people generally talk about with their neighbors: our louder less considerate neighbors, our husbands, jobs, the current milestones of our kids, and of course, what was for dinner that night.  Continue reading Bacon Wrapped Chicken stuffed with Summer Veggies

8/27/11 Gourmet Group – Things on a Stick!

Grilled stuffed tomatoes, lamb kabobs

In honor of the Minnesota State Fair being open, our hostess chose the Things on a Stick theme 🙂

Here are the courses that people brought –

  1. Appetizer: Lettuce wraps with grilled skewered zucchini and marinated tofu.  Served with cucumber and red pepper matchsticks soaked in rice vinegar, sugar and garlic; bean sprouts sauteed in tamari.
  2. Side: Salad on a stick – mozzarella and grape tomato skewers served in a cup with fresh pesto.  Polenta bites served with creamy cumin dipping sauce.
  3. Side: Grilled tomatoes stuffed with chunky artichoke pesto
  4. Main: Herbed Lamb kabobs and Spiced Chicken kabobs
  5. Dessert: Cheesecake pops and bananas on a stick Continue reading 8/27/11 Gourmet Group – Things on a Stick!