Month: October 2010

Maple-Glazed Pork Chops with Toasted Pecans

  Who doesn’t love pork chops?  I think we all can remember a time when pork chops for dinner meant super dry, pan-fried, bricks on your plate.  Now we all know better.  I like to cook my chops (especially the really thick ones) with a quick sear in a really hot pan on all sides and then finish them in the oven.  The result is the most tender, juicy chops you’ve ever had.  Super easy, super cheap, and super delicious.  This particular combo of maple syrup, rosemary, pecans, and hot sauce (yaay!) sings of cool Fall nights and warm bellies. I started by quickly brushing the chops on all sides with olive oil and rubbing with salt and pepper–all in the styrofoam package they come in!  Who says you need to dirty another dish?  Not me.  (Although Nick would argue when I cook, I like to dirty every dish in the kitchen.) Then the searing begins.  In an oven-safe pan over medium-high heat with a light coating of oil, I threw in the chops and …

Taiwanese Sesame Cucumbers

I just returned from a trip to Europe–and came home to a stack of all of my new November cooking magazines.  Packed with images of pumpkins and turkeys and stuffing and pies, I was giddily jumping up and down, dog-earring the pages of all of the recipes I couldn’t wait to try.  So many options, so little Fall days to cook!  Many of the recipes I selected were heavy, soulful items.  But these Taiwanese cucumbers were a bright contrast.  One, they require no cooking.  Two, they were a welcome shock of bright green color.  Three, they were Taiwanese!  I decided to take these as a nibble, as a palate cleanser before a heavier, more traditional Sunday supper.  What a hit.  These were so crisp with this amazing smoky sesame flavor.  Even better, they were healthy.  I didn’t fill one shred of guilt gobbling them up.  The main course on the other hand, was another story (and another post to this blog.) I started by grinding up the sesame seeds, salt, and red chili flakes.  The …

Turkey Sausage Lasagna

I can’t think of anything more comforting or more universally-loved than lasagna.  Most families have their versions they go back to time and time again.  There’s the traditional Italian version which is made with bolognese sauce, bechmael sauce, parmesan (no ricotta or mozzarella) and the American version made with ground beef (or leftover meatballs), marinara, ricotta, and mozzarella.  There are countless veggie versions and even kinds made with tortillas.  This time around I decided to go all-American, but with one substitute a la the Barefoot Contessa, turkey sausage.  Here you have it–her fabulous version of American lasagna.  I slightly adapted her recipe in 2 ways.  1) I omitted goat cheese–only because I don’t care for it.  2) I substituted no-boil lasagna noodles to cut back on time. First you cook the onions and garlic, add the ground turkey sausage, and all of the basic red sauce ingredients. Then the fun part… the layering.  A quick stir of ricotta, grated parmesan, egg, fresh parsley, salt, and pepper–and that forms the creamy layer comb.  I constructed each …

Pea Soup with Tahini Sauce and Crispy Onions

Do you ever try to challenge yourself by creating a recipe based on the seemingly random ingredients sitting around in your fridge/freezer/pantry?  I usually end up scratching my head and making an omelette or pasta with olive oil and garlic.  Inspired by the Food Network’s Chopped, when challengers are forced to make dishes in a short time frame with completely random ingredients in a basket, I decided to push myself–to make do with what I had on hand–no matter how crazy it seemed. It was a Saturday afternoon, one of the chilliest early days of Fall yet, and I found myself with a craving for split pea soup.  I usually make it with dried split peas and smoked ham hocks–and had neither on hand.  But I did have a bag of beautiful peas in the freezer.  Any pea soup, in my mind, needs some sort of flavor enhancer–usually the smokiness of ham or bacon.  Then I spied the tahini sauce in the fridge.  I knew this would add an extra tang/nuttiness to the bowl.  And …

Sweet Paul Magazine, Fall 2010 issue is here!

Designer pumpkins? What joy, what bliss… the Sweet Paul Magazine, Fall 2010 issue just hit the web–and I couldn’t be more tickled by it.  The pages make me want to go apple picking, carve pumpkins, throw dried leaves in the air, rejoice in cozy knits, sip on hot bowls of soup, smile at the adorable trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood, and even visit a local goat farm.  I savored every page of this issue, and I hope you do too.  Here are a few of my favorites from it.  I just love the styling and ideas.  Enjoy! 1000 Layer Cake Guide to Apples Goat Cheese Sweet Paul Magazine: Fall 2010 issue is here Sweet Paul Magazine Fall 2010 p. 1 Filled with belly-warming goodies, wide-eyed gorgeous photography, and super fun and cute Halloween ideas, the Fall 2010 issue of Sweet Paul Magazine is a total pleasure to enjoy. Check it out! Read More »

Savory Ham and Gruyere Mini Muffins

Yep–that is NOT a picture of mini muffins.  It’s a cake photo–a savory ham and gruyere cake photo.  The outside looks bubbly cheesy, slightly crisp… and it hints at all of the yummy goodies inside: more cheese, sweet ham, crumbly cake dough.  What you can’t tell by this photo is the fact that the center is goo… uncooked mush.  I did the toothpick test after 50 minutes in the oven–it was clean as a whistle.  I removed the loaf from the oven when the recipe told me to, did the toothpick test, let it sit to cool, and removed from the loaf pan.  Took my photos and anxiously cut myself a slice.  That’s when I first saw the goo.  The oven was off at that point, so I fired it back up thinking “hmmm, maybe my oven temperature was off–I’ll give it another 20 minutes.”  I removed it 20 minutes later–again, clean toothpick.  And sadly again, goo in the center.  I ended up having to cook this thing almost another hour until it was completely …