Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Chickpeas with Chard and Pan-Roasted Tomatoes

July 7, 2011
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This dish may not sound like much, but it is absolutely delicious and incredibly satisfying.  And it’s meat-free!

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small bunch Swiss chard, thick stems and ribs removed and leaves torn (about 8 cups)
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cook the rice according to the package directions.

Twenty minutes before the rice is done, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, cut-side down, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until browned and starting to soften, 3 to 5 minutes; turn and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add the chard, raisins, garlic, 2 tablespoons water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the skillet. Cook, tossing, until the chard wilts, 2 to 3 minutes.

Return the tomatoes to the skillet, add the chickpeas and lemon juice, and toss until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve over the rice.

Serves: 4

Per serving: 357 calories, 9 grams of fat, 61 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein

Recipe: Curried Chicken with Ginger and Yogurt

July 7, 2011
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My love for Crock-Pot recipes is well-documented, and this one was no disappointment.  Because the main protein is chicken (rather than, say, beef short ribs or pork shoulder or something like that), the dish seemed a lot lighter and was perfectly enjoyable even on a warm evening.  Note: not only can it be difficult to find boneless/skinless thighs, they are also usually much more expensive than their bone-in/skin-on counterparts.  I buy regular chicken thighs in bulk, on the cheap, and then just skin and bone them as necessary.

  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablesppon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 10)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, whisk together the tomato paste, garlic, curry powder, ginger, cumin, and ¾ cup water. Add the onion and stir to combine. Place the chicken on top and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Cover and cook until the chicken is tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours (this will shorten total cooking time).

Twenty minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.

Just before serving, add the yogurt and ½ teaspoon salt to the chicken and stir to combine. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the scallions.

Serves: 6

Per serving: 463 calories, 14 grams fat, 48 grams carbs, and 34 grams protein

Recipe: Mexican Meatball Soup

April 29, 2010
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This recipe had all the trappings of a weeknight success story – it was simple, it didn’t require a ton of ingredients (and most of them were already in the fridge or pantry), and it utilized flavors that my husband and I both enjoy.  I was also optimistic since the idea came from Real Simple, which is usually a good source for easy dinners.

Well, the idea was a lot better than the actual end product.  The meatballs were pretty tasty, but the soup…well, it tasted like pureed salsa (which is not a good thing).  Perhaps if you subbed chicken stock for the water it might balance the flavors – but overall, I feel like there are definitely better soup recipes out there.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla chips, crushed, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 cups mild jarred salsa (about 1 1/2 jars, each 16 ounces)
  • 1 avocado, cut into pieces

Heat broiler. In a bowl, combine the beef, scallions, tortilla chips, cilantro, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls (about 24) and place on a broilerproof baking sheet. Broil until beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the salsa with 1 cup water. Transfer to a large saucepan, add 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs, reduce heat, and simmer until cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.

Serve the soup with the avocado, cilantro sprigs, and tortilla chips, if desired.

Recipe: Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Slaw

April 26, 2010
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I admit, I was skeptical of this Real Simple recipe from the start – after all, it called for a ketchup-based glaze.  Much to my surprise, however, the ketchup (combined with the honey and chili pepper) kept the pork super moist and added a unique and tasty flavor.

This is a great weeknight meal – quick (and there’s not a lot of active prep/cook time), easy, healthy, and tasty.  I personally loved the slaw, but even though I halved the amount of cilantro suggested by the recipe, my dining companions were still a bit overwhelmed by that particular flavor.  So, if you’re not a fan, maybe you can leave the cilantro out altogether and substitute a different herb (basil might work, as it has that same refreshing quality).

If you want to cut the prep time even further, buy pineapple that has already been peeled and cored.  It will be more expensive, but it definitely streamlines the process.  Enjoy!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
  • 1 small jicama (about 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 1/2 small pineapple—peeled, cored, and cut into thin sticks
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Heat oven to 400° F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, honey, and chili pepper. Brush the pork with half of it, transfer the skillet to oven, and roast, turning once, until the pork is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Brush with the remaining glaze and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the jicama, pineapple, bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the pork.

* Sorry for the lack of photos (in this and other future posts) – my camera went through a little cranky phase, and I lost a bunch of pictures.  Bummer!

Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Shoulder

February 5, 2010
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I am over winter.

Seriously, I feel like it’s been cold and rainy (if not icy and snowy) since Thanksgiving.  And the worst of the weather seems to hit right smack on the weekends, which is when I want to get out and play with my dog and get some fresh air.  Stupid mother nature.

Cold weather is good for one thing – SLOW COOKING.  There is very little better in this world than coming home from a long day’s work and a nasty commute only to find a warm, comforting, good-smelling creation waiting for you in the slow cooker.  And all you have to do is throw some stuff in the Crock-Pot and turn it on!  The slow cooker really is a great weeknight convenience, especially when used to create great dishes like this one.

This recipe could not be easier, and the end product was absolutely delicious.  Sweet and spicy and tender and rich, the pork shoulder was perfectly seasoned and super-duper meaty.  The bok choy added a nice fresh crunch (make sure you don’t add it too early, or it will be overcooked and soggy), and basmati rice soaked up all the juicy goodness.  If you’re looking for something warm you up this weekend, this dish will definitely do the trick.  Stay safe, everyone!

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce (found in the Asian aisle of the supermarket)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 medium head bok choy, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
  • 2 scallions, sliced

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the soy sauce, sugar, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, five-spice powder (if using), ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Cook, covered, until the pork is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, skim off and discard any fat from the pork. Gently fold the bok choy into the pork and cook, covered, until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the scallions.

Recipe: Sesame Chicken with Gingery Bok Choy

January 5, 2010
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Happy 2010 to everyone!  So, are we calling this year two thousand and ten, or are we calling it twenty ten?  Whatever we’re calling this year, I am starting it (only a few days late) by eating healthy.  I know, I know, EVERYONE says that they’re going to eat healthy and lose weight and get in shape and lose a zillion pounds.  But, at least for me, eating healthy is something that I strive to do on a regular basis, and I know I can do it.

This is a recipe I tried out about two months ago, and it definitely fits the bill for healthy eating.  Note the use of super-flavorful ingredients like ginger and jalapeno, which both allow you to add flavor without adding a ton of fat and calories.  If you like the chicken but want a little something different, it is also really tasty when sliced on top of a salad (also a great use for leftovers, if you have any).  Enjoy!

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 small chicken cutlets (1 1/4 pounds total)
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 6 heads baby bok choy (about 1 pound), quartered
  • 1 jalapeno (preferably red), sliced (seeded for less heat, if desired)

In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, sesame seeds, ¼ cup of the cornstarch, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Dip the chicken in the batter and shake off the excess.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and the remaining chicken.  Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy and cook, turning, until just beginning to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and jalapeño and cook until the liquid has thickened slightly and the bok choy is tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with the chicken.

Recipe: Spiced Beef Empanadas

December 23, 2009

While most of my cocktail party prep/cooking went off without a hitch, I did have one pretty major hiccup with an egg roll dish involving phyllo dough.  That stuff is HARD to work with, by gosh.  I just didn’t leave myself enough time, and phyllo is NOT the kind of ingredient that cooperates in high-stress situations.  So, the chorizo-goat cheese-chive filling ended up making some darn fine omelets the following morning, and I resigned myself to master phyllo dough some other day.

Thank goodness refrigerated pie crusts are more friendly and forgiving, as I really wanted to have at least one “filled pastry” kind of dish.  These empanadas were relatively straightforward to make (the filling in particular was quite simple, and it definitely made the kitchen smell yummy), and even though they required a little time and concentration to fill and shape, the oohs and ahhhs and “you MADE those?!?!” comments definitely made the extra effort worthwhile.  They really were delicious, and everyone had fun guessing what made them just a touch sweet (it’s the cinnamon).

A couple of notes: 1) You have to find your own happy zen place in terms of how thin to roll the pie crusts.  You want them to be thick enough to hold in the stuffing, but you don’t want them so thick that the dough overpowers every bite.  I think after making one or two, you can easily figure out what works and what doesn’t.  2) If you don’t have cookie cutters, just use the open end of a water glass.  3) Yay, you can put these together ahead of time and then freeze them until you’re ready to bake!  Just assemble them, freeze them flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and then transfer them to a Ziploc bag once they are firm.  When you bake them from frozen, just adjust the time to more like 30-45 minutes.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound ground beef (80 to 85 percent lean)
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 store-bought refrigerated rolled piecrusts
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime zest

Heat oven to 375º F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the raisins, ketchup, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles from the piecrusts. Divide the beef mixture among the circles, brush the edges with water, fold in half, and press with a fork to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet and brush with the egg. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Put the sour cream in a small bowl and sprinkle with the lime zest. Serve with the empanadas.

Recipe: Prosciutto Crostini with Lemon-Fennel Slaw

December 22, 2009
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Whew, sorry to leave y’all hangin’ there…life kind of got in the way of blogging for a hot minute, but I do want to continue sharing my cocktail party recipes and stories.  Here goes!

Since my first couple of cocktail party “courses” consisted of nuts and dips, I wanted to bring something out next that was a bit more complex, both texturally and flavor-wise.  These crostini were incredibly easy to prepare, but they had great visual appeal, and their salty-acidic crunch was a refreshing counterpart to the rich and creamy dips.

I am normally wary of fennel, finding its anise flavor a little off-putting (mostly since I don’t care for licorice).  However, this slaw was nicely balanced, largely due to the citrusy notes of the lemon and the parsley.  It really only took me a few minutes to put this platter together, and the dish did a good job of refreshing everyone’s palates.

Do-ahead note: You can toast the baguette slices in advance and then store them in an airtight container for probably a day or two.  Same goes for the slaw, but make sure you refrigerate that.  🙂

  • 24 thin slices baguette (from 1 small loaf)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb—quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • Heat oven to 375º F. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Toast until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the fennel, parsley, lemon juice, the remaining tablespoon of oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Divide the prosciutto evenly among the toasted baguette slices and top with the slaw.

    Recipe: Pumpkin Cupcakes

    October 28, 2009

    Greetings from Salt Lake City!  I’m over here in Utah, trying to stay warm in the snow (yes, snow…ugh).  So, there will be no Top Chef recap till much later in the week, and posting will continue to be light.  In the meantime, though, since it is almost time for Halloween, here’s a tasty and easy recipe for a very nice fall treat.  The recipe came from Real Simple magazine, and the cupcakes were a hit both at the Eat on $30 wrap party AND my office luncheon.  Enjoy!

    • 1 18.5-ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
    • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
    • 2 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 24 pieces candy corn

    Heat oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.

    Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool.

    Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.

    Pumpkin cupcakes

    Recipe: Curried Rice with Shrimp

    September 11, 2008

    After all the discussion about the Omnivore’s Hundred, much of which revolved around how much curry is too much, I suddenly had a craving for Indian food.  This curry-esque recipe was simple, made my kitchen smell yummy, and was pretty tasty to boot.  Unfortunately, I had to omit the fresh basil, as the bunch that I bought earlier in the week was no longer edible.  The dried version just didn’t get the job done, but otherwise, I’d say this was a successful one-skillet dinner.

    • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
    • 1  large onion, chopped
    • 2  carrots, chopped
    • 2  cloves garlic, chopped
    • 2  teaspoons  curry powder
    • 1  cup  long-grain white rice
    • Kosher salt and pepper
    • 1 1/2  pounds  large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2  cup  fresh basil (I actually used dried)

    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and curry and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes.  Add the rice, 2 1/2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Season the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nestle them in the partially cooked rice. Cover and cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 4 to 5 minutes. Fold in the basil and serve.

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