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Monday, August 22, 2011

Stuffed Roasted Bell Pepper Halves

Stuffed Roasted Bell Pepper Halves
Adapted from Bon Appétit
4 Red bell peppers (4 large and 1 small)
2 TBS olive oil, divided
1 1/2 Cups water
1 Cup Israeli couscous
1/2 Onion, diced
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1/4 Cup dried currants
2 TBS pine nuts
2 TSP ground cumin
Salt and pepper
1 6-OZ bag fresh baby spinach leaves
4 TBS chopped fresh mint, divided
4 TBS chopped fresh dill, divided
1 Cup plain yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon

Stuffed peppers filled with rice, ground beef and covered in melted cheese was always a comforting dish my mom would often make for dinner.  I've lightened up this classic comfort food with veggies and Mediterranean flavors. I've made a few alterations to the original recipe, using Isaeli couscous instead of bulgar (brown rice, quinoa or regular couscous would work here too) and topping with a yogurt sauce instead of feta cheese.

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil, then add a cup of couscous, stir and cover immediately and remove it from the heat. Let sit for about 10 - 15 minutes, fluff with a fork and set aside.

To make the sauce, mix yogurt with lemon juice and stir in 1 TBS of mint and 1 TBS of dill. Set aside in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut the large red bell peppers in half through stem end. Remove seeds and cut out ribs (you can leave in the stem). Finely chop small red bell pepper; set aside. Spread 1 TBS oil over rimmed baking sheet. Place pepper halves, cut side down, on prepared sheet. Roast 15 minutes. Turn over; roast until slightly softened, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining TBS oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and chopped red pepper; sauté about 3 minutes, or until tender. Add currants and pine nuts; sauté 2 minutes. Add cumin; stir 20 seconds. Mix in spinach; stir until beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in couscous, mint, and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Divide warm couscous mixture among pepper halves. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicken Salad With Chunky Guacamole

Chicken Salad With Chunky Guacamole
2 Chicken breasts
1 Small bunch of thyme
1 Cup watercress
1 Cup mixed spouts and shoots
3 TBS mixed seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Ripe avocado
1 Cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 Small red onion
1 Small bunch of cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper

The iPad is quickly becoming my new favorite kitchen tool.  There are tons of food apps, so I've been having a field day exploring magazines, blogs and video demos.  I thought I would give some recipes a try from Jamie Oliver's app, just because the pictures are so gorgeous.  My weakness for anything avocado has led me to this unique salad, which goes to show that all you need are a few fresh ingredients to create a beautiful plate.  I couldn't find watercress in the market, so I thinly sliced some romaine to combine with pea shoots and broccoli sprouts.

Cover the chicken with parchment paper and pound to 3/4 inch thickness.  Cut 3 slits across each breast.  Mix chopped thyme leaves with a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Coat the chicken with the thyme mixture, and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

In the meantime, mix together cress, sprouts, and seeds in a large bowl.  To make the dressing whisk together the juice of 1 lemon with 3 times as much olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Dice the avocado, tomatoes and onion and combine in a small bowl.  Stir in lime juice, chopped cilantro and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

When ready to serve toss the sprout salad with the dressing.  Slice the chicken thickly and arrange on plate with salad and scoop of guacamole.  So pretty!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Adapted from Emeril's Quick Tortilla Soup on
  • 1 Cup chopped onions
  • 1 TSP chopped garlic
  • 1 Poblano pepper, seeded and chopped, or green bell pepper
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1 1/2 TSP ground cumin
  • 1/2 TSP ground coriander
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 6 Cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14 OZ can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Pound cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Tortilla chips
  • Avocado
It's not easy commuting, working 8 hours, commuting back and making dinner.  If I'm short on time I have my arsenal of quick and easy recipes, but there are some dishes that need to spend hours simmering on the stove to develop any flavor at all.  Can I pull together a flavorful chicken soup in 30 minutes?  I think so with a little help from this Emeril Lagasse recipe and a rotisserie chicken.  After chopping and sauteing, I can even hit the treadmill for a mile or two while the soup simmers!

I went all-out with the poblanos and jalapenos, so I added a can of tomatoes and extra lime juice to tone the spice down.

In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute onions, garlic, peppers, salt, cumin and coriander for 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute more.  Add chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Add shredded chicken, cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and lime juice.  Ladle soup into bowls.  Garnish with tortillas, and chopped avocado as desired.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer Tomato Bouillabaisse With Basil Rouille

Summer Tomato Bouillabaisse With Basil Rouille
Adapted from Bon Appétit
4 Cloves garlic, divided
1/2 Cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
5 TBS EVOO, divided
2 Anchovy fillets
1 TBS lemon juice
4 Cups cherry tomatoes
1 Small fennel bulb, trimmed, halved and sliced thin (fronds reserved)
Salt and pepper
1 TBS crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 Cup dry white wine
1 8-OZ bottle of clam juice
3 LBS mixed shellfish (I used littleneck clams and mussels), scrubbed
2 TBS parsley
1 TBS fennel fronds
Crusty bread for serving

Cancel that flight!  You won't need to travel far for a taste of the South of France.  I love getting recommendations for recipes, so when a co-worker told me this bouillabaisse was easy to prepare and delicious, I had to try this twist on a classic.  if you've never cooked with shellfish before, then this is a perfect recipe to start with since it is ridiculously simple.  The basil rouille is traditionally served with fish and fish stews, but I'll definitely be making it again for sandwiches and salads.

Combine 2 cloves of minced garlic, basil, mayo, 3 TBS of oil, anchovies and lemon in a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 TBS of oil in a dutch oven or large pot.  Add the cherry tomatoes and fennel, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 10 minutes, or until tomatoes burst.  Add the remaining 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, and sauté for 1 minute more.  Add the wine, clam juice and 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil then add the cleaned shellfish.  Cook until the shellfish open (3-5 minutes).  Discard any that do not open.  Stir in the parsley and fennel fronds.  Serve with the bread and rouille.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Play With Your Food!

French Toast Skewers With Blueberry Sauce
Adapted from Yum Sugar
8 Eggs
2/3 Cup buttermilk
Pinch of salt
1/4 TSP vanilla
1 Loaf challah bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Cups blueberries
1/4 Cup sugar
1 TBS lemon juice

This breakfast dish will bring out the kid in anyone.  Not only is it fun to eat, it's fun to make too.  I halved the recipe, but this is an easy breakfast or brunch for a crowd.  The blueberry sauce is a great alternative to maple syrup, and leftovers would be delicious over vanilla ice cream.

For the sauce add blueberries, sugar and lemon juice to a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In a large bowl  mix the eggs, buttermilk, salt and vanilla.  Toss the bread cubes into the eggs mixture.   

Heat a pan or griddle and coat with cooking spray.  Cook bread mixture in batches, browning on all sides.  Keep warm in oven, while remaining batches cook.  Thread French toast, bananas and raspberries on skewers.  Serve with blueberry sauce. Fork and knife totally optional. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Squash, Tomato & Pancetta Sauté Over Fresh Pasta

Squash, Tomato & Pancetta Sauté Over Fresh Pasta
2 Cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 TSP salt
3 Eggs
1/2 Cup pancetta (or thick cut bacon), cubed
1 Small onion, diced
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Cup yellow squash, diced
1 Cup zucchini, diced
Salt and pepper
1 TSP crushed red pepper (optional)
1 Cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 Cup low sodium chicken stock
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 TBS basil, chiffonade
Parmesan cheese for serving

I picked the most perfect summer vegetables straight from my parents garden - yellow squash, zucchini, onions and basil.  What could be better then fresh vegetables served over fresh home made pasta?  Actually, bacon makes everything better.  If you feel like living on the edge, you can make your pasta the dangerous way (by hand, without a food processor or Kitchen Aid).  While it can get a bit messy, it really isn't that much more difficult. 

Mound the flour and salt onto a clean and dry work surface, making a well in the center (should look like a volcano).  Carefully add the eggs to the well.  Slowly mix the eggs, gradually incorporating the flour in the inside edges.  When the eggs begin to come together with the flour, use your hands until a ball of dough forms (using more flour if needed).  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Keep refrigerated until ready to roll the pasta. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pancetta and cook until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the onions, garlic, squash and zucchini.  Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.  Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil then let simmer.

Roll out the pasta and cut into thick strips (pappardelle).  Place in boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.  Drain and add directly to the sauté pan and toss to coat.  Add the pancetta.  Serve with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. 

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The Hungry Yuppies, Annie and Rich, are a young couple from CT who are self-proclaimed foodies. Annie is the chef, and Rich is her willing taste tester. Juggling a full time job in the city wasn't going to get in the way of Annie's love for cooking. It's about eating well whether you have just 30 minutes on a Monday night, or all day on a rainy Sunday.