Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thai-Style Pork Stew

adapted from Cooking Light

   We always like trying new recipes, and every now and then we find something extra tasty. I think this is one of those recipes. It certainly doesn't hurt that it is super quick to prepare and leaves the house smelling incredible. It was a teeny spicy for me,  but I will probably make it the same way next time. Nick thought the spice was perfect. (I'm kinda wimpy though.)

2 pounds pork loin roast, boneless (other cuts of pork would likely work)
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
3-4 Tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. sriracha sauce 
1/4-1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
2-3 cups (1 x 1/4-inch) julienne-cut red, orange, yellow bell pepper 

Remaining ingredients:
 brown basmati rice
1/2 cup chopped green onions
chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped dry-roasted peanuts  
lime wedges

1. To prepare stew, trim fat from pork. Place pork and next 6 ingredients (pork through garlic) in an electric slow cooker. Cover with lid, and cook on low-heat setting for 8 hours. After 7 hours, shred pork with forks. Add 1/2 cup of peanut butter and bell peppers; stir well. Recover and allow to continue cooking for an additional  30 minutes to hour. At this time, cook basmati rice.
2. Combine stew and rice in a large bowl. Top each serving with cilantro, green onions, and peanuts; serve with lime wedges.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Key Lime Pie

adapted from All Recipes and Gourmet

  I know it is the middle of November and most people are thinking of pumpkin or pecan pie... but I was just in the mood for something a little more tropical. It was easy to find key limes (they had them at Whole Foods) and 1 bag (around 15) yielded about 3/4 cup of juice. I used a bottled key lime juice for the other 1/4 cup.


For crust
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs {from 9 (2 1/4-inch by 4 3/4-inch) crackers}
2 Tbsp. sugar
dash of cinnamon
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Pie filling
4 egg yolks
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup key lime juice

Make crust:
    Preheat oven to 350°F.  Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of a lightly sprayed 9-inch (4-cup) glass pie plate.  Bake crust in middle of oven 10 minutes and cool in pie plate on a rack. Leave oven on. 

Make filling and bake pie:
   Whisk together condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until combined well. Add sour cream and whisk to combine. Finally, add key lime juice and whisk until combined well (mixture will thicken slightly).
Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 10-12 minutes. Cool pie on rack for about 20 minutes (filling will set as it cools), then chill, covered, for several hours.

 Garnish with lime slices, whipping cream, or meringue.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ropa Vieja

adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen

   Interested in "Old Clothes" for dinner? I wish I could say I grew up eating this dish frequently and have a family recipe handed down from my bisabuela or something- but I was a super picky eater until high school...and a cookbook from my esposo is the true source. The 'lahatchita' part of me comes from being 1/2 Cuban.  My mom used to joke that the only visible Cuban part was my Cuban booty. Nevertheless, I really love good Cuban food and hope to cook lots so that maybe my 1/4 Cuban daughter will have some good recipes up her sleeve in the future.
  I made the recipe as described below, but I think it could easily be adjusted to work in a slow cooker. Also, if you want to make it super authentic, you could make it with horse meat from Argentine horses- that is how my mom had it growing up.


1 1/2 - 2 lbs flank steak, cut in half
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1-2 tsp. dried oregano
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2-1 cup early sweet peas, (if using canned, drain)


1. Place beef and one bay leaf in a large saucepan, cover with salted water and cook over low heat until meat is tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove the meat from the stock (save the stock if you desire), allow to cool at room temperature, then cut into 2-inch chunks.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over low heat until fragrant. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic, stirring until tender- about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sherry, oregano, cumin, and remaining bay leaf, cooking uncovered an additional 15 minutes.

3. When the meat is cool, shred it with fingers,  remove excess fat, and season with salt and pepper. Add it to the tomato mixture and cover. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, garnish with peas and serve with rice and beans and perhaps a little Cuban salad on the side.

Note: This dish can be prepared a day or two in advance, cooled, and refrigerated, then simmered (covered) over low heat until heated through, 30-35 minutes.

Serves 6-8

Ensalada de Aguacate

{Avocado salad}

   This is a pretty typical little Cuban salad with the European influence evident in the very simple oil & vinegar dressing. (Oh how I ate oily salads for 6 weeks in Spain...) The ingredients might seem a bit unusual, but they are good- te prometo. Enjoy it as a light accompaniment to another tasty dish.


watercress or lettuce leaves
1-2 large ripe avocado, halved and sliced
bit of onion, very thinly sliced-almost shaved
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. white vinegar (or lemon juice)
1-2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley


 On a platter lined with greens, arrange avocado slices and onion slices, sprinkle with a salt and pepper. In a small bowl whisk together oil and vinegar and drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage

slightly adapted from Gourmet

I found this recipe awhile ago and knew it would be perfect for my little gal who loves all things pasta and sweet potato. Homemade gnocchi does take more time, but I chose to freeze half of it so later on we can enjoy the fruits of our labors without all the labor...


1 1/4 lb russet (baking potatoes)
1 (3/4-lb) sweet potato
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sage leaves (from 1 bunch)
1-2 Tbsp. unsalted butter


Make gnocchi:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.  Pierce russet and sweet potatoes in several places with a fork, then bake in a 4-sided sheet pan until just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Cool potatoes slightly, then peel (can use fork and knife-skin will come off easily) and force through ricer into sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely. (I didn't have a ricer- I just mashed them up really well)

3. Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

4. Beat together egg, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Gather potatoes into a mound on the sheet pan and form a well in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the well, then knead into potatoes. Knead in cheese and 1 1/2 cups flour, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with flour.

5. Cut dough into 5-6 pieces. Form 1 piece of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rope on a lightly floured surface. Cut rope into 1/2-inch pieces. Gently roll each piece into a ball and lightly dust with flour.
Repeat with remaining  pieces of dough. (I just estimated- just eyeball it to the size gnocchi you desire)

6. Use the tines of the fork to make an imprint on 1 side of each gnocchi. Transfer formed gnocchi to prepared baking sheets. (*to freeze see note below)

Sage leaves & Sauce

1. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers.  Fry sage leaves in 2-3 batches, stirring, until they turn just a shade lighter and crisp (they will continue to crisp as they cool), about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt.
2. Add butter to oil in skillet with 1/2 tsp salt and cook until golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cook gnocchi:

  Add half of gnocchi to a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water and stir. Cook until they float to surface, about 3 minutes.  Transfer with a slotted spoon to skillet with butter sauce. Cook remaining gnocchi in same manner, transferring to skillet as cooked.
Serve sprinkled with fried sage  and grated cheese.
{To freeze gnocchi- transfer baking sheet of uncooked, formed gnocchi to freezer. Once gnocchi have frozen you can place in a plastic bag and freeze up to a month. Do not thaw before cooking.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pasta with Turkey Italian Sausage, Tomatoes, Arugula, and Ciliegine

   When Nick and I were both in school or when I was working we took turns making dinner- usually whoever got home first had the job of starting. That meant Nick cooked a few times a week. We ate a LOT of pasta the first 3 years of marriage.       
      It has taken a while for me to build up confidence to make pasta for someone who lived in Italy and is very particular about his pastas. I still don't think I make any pasta as well as he does, but I am not as sheepish as I once was. The pasta snob and I agreed that this was a delicious, light pasta- the tomatoes were so sweet from cooking with the sauce... the bit of spice from the arugula...and the fresh mozzarella (though Nick did say the cheese didn't compare to Italian cheese at all). Lucky for us, we'll be in Italy in 5 months were we'll get to have all the cheese we want-including the mozzarella di bufala I keep hearing about.

1-2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small/medium onion, diced 
3-5 sweet Italian turkey sausages, removed from casings and rolled into small meatballs
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2-1 tsp. dried basil (use more if fresh basil is available)
1  1/2 cups grape tomatoes (halved, if desired)
kosher sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
box of pasta (The original called for linguini- but penne is more toddler-friendly)
1  1/2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
10-12 balls ciliegine mozzarella cheese, halved


 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion and sautee for 2-3 mintues. Place meatballs in the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes. When meat is fully cooked, add chicken broth, oregano, basil, tomatoes, salt & pepper, and stir until all are incorporated. Allow to cook 8-10 minutes, while pasta is cooking.

2. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and combine with sauce in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Add the arugula and ciliengini cheese then serve immediately. {If anticipating left overs- only add the necessary amounts of arugula and ciliengini cheese.}

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies fit for a Lion

little cookies, for little hands 

{I know, I know. I kinda want to barf at the sign of anything sweet right now, but this post was from last week...}

    So… I may or may not have googled ‘healthy sugar cookies.’ I know, it  is an oxymoron, but I was thinking maybe there was some alternative to 100% sugar for Siena and her little friends to eat. No, I’m not one of those crazy people who doesn’t let my child eat sugar at all, but I am one of those people who’d rather give her treats that are from real ingredients and maybe have a little something good in them- in this case, oatmeal.
   I’m not pretending these are healthy- note the 2 cups of sugar and cup of butter. They would be divine with chocolate chips, peanut butter anything, white chocolate and dried cranberries, butterscotch etc., but for this special little lady we just kept it real simple.

I didn't have cinnamon on hand like my original recipe calls for, but I did have pumpkin pie spice- either is great.


1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt (or just under if you can)
1 tsp. pumpkin pie filling, or 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats


1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time,  and vanilla, beating to incorporate.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie filling (or cinnamon). Gradually add dry mixture to sugar mixture, stirring to incorporate. Stir in oats til just blended.

3. Roll oatmeal into small balls (or use a cookie scoop) and place cookie dough on baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Allow cookies to stay on sheet for 3 min or so before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.