Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Taste of a Place-Tomato Salsa

Is it strange that I consider chips and salsa as one of my favorite comfort foods?  Not pot roast, not a roasted chicken but salsa.  Tomatoey, flecked with garlic, onion and cilantro, spiced with jalapenos and scented with lime-I could eat chips and salsa for dinner alone and be quite content.

When my husband and I uprooted from Texas and moved to Idaho we found ourselves eating Mexican food at least once a week.  Our favorite and best Mexican food establishment in town did not serve chips and salsa and it killed me. We sometimes would settle for another restaurant (though not the best or our favorite) because they had chips and salsa.  And with one bite it sent me home.  In that moment I knew chips and salsa was one of my favorite foods of comfort.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What to do with Easter Ham leftovers? (Bow-ties with peas and ham)

Busy weekend behind me and busy week ahead!  So sorry, my dear friends, there will be no super awesome stories or words of wisdom this week.  I do wish you a wonderful Easter and hope everyone enjoys time with their family or friends.

I'm hosting Easter breakfast on Saturday before our neighborhood's big Easter Egg hunt.  What's on the menu???  Ricotta Doughnuts with Blueberry Compote, Potato Basil Fritatta, Smoothies and Fruit Platter.  What will you be making this weekend?

If you intend to make an Easter Ham this is the recipe for you...that is if you actually have leftovers.

Bow-ties with Peas and Ham
serves 4 to 6

  • One pound bow tie pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • One onion, diced
  • 2 cups ( 10 oz.) frozen peas
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 pound cooked ham
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Parmesan
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions.  Drain pasta; return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion; cook, stirring , until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add frozen peas and half and half; season with salt and pepper.  Simmer until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Cut ham into strips.  Add to sauce; cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Toss sauce with pasta.  Serve with grated Parmesan.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

All you have to do is plan your day

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry
Several months ago my grandmother leaked out a secret, " oven hasn't worked in over two years."  Now this may or may not seem like such a big statement but it baffled my husband and I.  The hubs quickly asked, "How do make all those holiday meals?"  Her answer was simple and to the point, "Well, all you have to do is plan your day...and I use a toaster oven."

I am a firm believer in planning your day (or week), especially when it comes to holiday entertaining.  My mom may say I'm downright psychotic about it.  One important skill culinary school taught me, besides cookery, was the art of planning, scheduling and timing your food so your guests can enjoy the best and freshest meal possible.

You've decided on the style of party (buffet, cocktail, four course, etc.).  You've sat down and made your guest list, heck, you even sent the invites out one month in advance.  The menu has been chosen-and it is deeeelish.  You read through your recipes and have a shopping strategy.  You've establish a timeline...wait...what?  What do you mean a timeline?

Monday, April 4, 2011

I feed the hungry (Recipe: Lemon Sandwich Cookies)

I work with at least two dozen college students.  Two dozen hungry college students.  And luckily enough they are eager and gracious to try any of the goodies (experiments) I bring them.  I have brought cookies, these brownies, and brownie bites and our feature today, lemon sandwich cookies.  On every occasion the treats are gone within five minutes.  FIVE MINUTES!  No exaggeration.  I remember one day a girl exclaimed, "Oh, I am so happy!  I've eaten nothing but Ramen for 5 days straight!" 

I definitely can relate!  I remember the spring semester of my sophomore year I ate cereal for dinner almost every night; well, with the exception of one day during the week.  Just across our dorm parking lot sat Little Caesars Pizza and luckily enough they held their "crazy deal" on Wednesdays (a mere bag of 6 breadsticks for a $1.00.)  I can smell them as I type.  I LOVED them.

I brought these cookies on a busy workday and received many compliments...and a few requests to make more.  Apparently, I work with some cookie lovers (or lemon lovers.)

Speaking of,  I cannot believe my lemonade recipe has swiftly climbed up to the second most popular post on this humble little blog.  There must be a lot of lemon fans out there.  I know I'm one of them.  So I'm positive there will be a lot of happy people visiting this recipe.  These cookies are cakey and soft with a delicate and subtle lemon flavor-the first thought that crossed my mind after biting into one was ahhh!  Spring has arrived!  The second...wouldn't they be beautiful on your Easter table?

Lemon Sandwich Cookies
Bon Appetit January 2009 

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (packed) powdered sugar
  1. Using back of spoon, mash lemon peel and salt to paste in medium bowl. 
  2. Add butter and lemon juice. Using electric mixer, beat until fluffy. 
  3. Add sugar in 4 batches, beating after each addition until blended.
The filling can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate the filling; bring it to room temperature before using.

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolk
For cookies:
  1. Boil lemon juice and lemon peel in small saucepan until mixture is reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 4 minutes. Pour into small bowl and cool. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda into medium bowl.
  2. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar; beat until blended. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in yolks. Beat in lemon juice mixture. Add dry ingredients and stir to blend well. Cover dough and chill until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out 1/3 of dough on lightly floured surface to scant 3/8-inch thickness. Using 2-inch round cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until golden at edges, about 12 minutes. Let cookies cool 5 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
  1. Gather 2 teaspoons filling and roll into a ball.  Place in the center of the flat side of 1 cookie. Top with another cookie, flat side down. And gently squeeze cookies together.  Repeat to make more sandwich cookies. 
 DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight in refrigerator.