Category Archives: Recipes

Vegetarian Week: Peach, Tomato, and Corn Salad with Feta


Prepare yourselves: this salad is a hit. I know, you’re like, “Seriously? An exciting salad?” But in the dead of summer, when fruit is at its ripest and heat is at its hottest and your pits are at their sweatiest (no? just me?), you want something cool and refreshing even if you’re sittin’ pretty in Arctic/office air conditioning. This salad is it. When I served it to my parents my dad said, “What made you think this would all go together?” But truthfully, the geniuses over at WSJ thought this would go together. And I trust them.

On the menu:
Peach, tomato, and corn salad with feta
Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe from Wall Street Journal

3 ripe, sweet tomatoes
3 ripe (but still semi-firm) peaches
2 ears corn, shucked and boiled, kernels cut off
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cut tomatoes and peaches into wedges of equal size. In a large bowl, add tomatoes, peaches, corn kernels, onion, and olive oil and toss until combined and coated. Plate salad. Crumble feta over the top. Serve any remaining feta on the side.

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Vegetarian Week: Appetizer

Hello friends! Welcome to vegetarian week on Food E. I know it doesn’t really fall within the traditional parameters I’ve set for myself here on my “eat butter and beef and don’t apologize for it” food blog, but this past weekend I challenged myself to make an all-vegetarian meal in honor of my mother’s first visit to my new-ish apartment. She’s a vegetarian and is often relegated to pasta with peas or platters of roasted vegetables when we go out to dinner. My goal for the meal was to create a full spread that not only she would enjoy, but also The BF and my father, both proud carnivores, would love, as well.

Each day this week I’ll share a recipe from this meal and by Friday you’ll have a stack of recipes that you can use to create a complete and filling vegetarian meal yourself. No boring pastas included.

On the menu:
Caprese crostini
Serves 4

1/2 baguette
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small bunch fresh basil, leaves plucked from the stems
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, sliced
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar*

Slice baguette into 1/2 inch rounds with a sharp bread knife. Place on a cookie sheet in a single layer and distribute olive oil evenly over the tops (I used a spoon but if you have a basting brush, use that). Bake rounds at 350 degrees for around 10 minutes or until the rounds are stiff to the touch. DO NOT wait until they are brown! They will be too crispy by the time you serve them if you wait for them to brown up in the oven.

Top each round with a slice of mozzarella, a basil leaf, and a slice of tomato. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the top, plate, and serve.

*I’ve been meaning to highlight an incredible store I visited in Virginia called Savor the Olive where I purchased an espresso balsamic vinegar, which I served in place of your standard balsamic. The espresso balsamic has a smoother finish than traditional balsamic and just a hint of espresso flavor. Savor the Olive offers dark and white balsamics (imagine a white apricot balsamic drizzled over vanilla ice cream…), and every olive oil under the sun. If you’re ever fortunate enough to be in the area of Norfolk, Virginia you should definitely swing by.

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Pepper Humor

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah get it?! Here is my recipe for jalapeno goat cheese corn bread. It is delish, despite the fact that when I make it I have to wear gloves and/or use a fork and knife to chop the pepper since I have such a serious allergy to raw jalapeno. It’s funny, but it’s also true.

On the menu:
Jalapeno goat cheese corn bread

1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced (you can use more depending on how spicy you want this… I’m quite the pansy)
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-in round cake pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add egg, milk, and oil and combine well until completely blended. Add jalapeno and goat cheese and fold in just until incorporated. Pour into greased pan.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the cake springs back to form when you press it.

Note: I made this with chili in the winter, but this bread would be divine alongside some fish tacos or scallop ceviche in the summertime, too.

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The Late Night Chocolate Cake

The chocolate cake / It ain’t pretty but it sure tasted good.

Here’s a nice story for you. Last Saturday night, The BF and I had ourselves a nice little date night. One might think that a twenty-COUGH-year old and a thirty-COUGH-year old wouldn’t have to plan Saturday nights out, but when your nice squishy couch and a cheap bottle of wine and Mad Men reruns and old sweatpants are calling your name, you really have to push yourself to leave the house. But leave the house we did. We sat at a bar, we had some drinks, we laughed, we spent money neither of us has… but all the while I was distracted. Seriously distracted.

By cake.

I wanted some cake. Guys, when a cake craving takes over my body, I can’t help it. It’s all I think about. It’s all I can talk about. “Should I get some cake?” I said out loud, eying a perfectly frosted white cake on the counter of the bar. But something told me I didn’t want that cake. How old was it? Was it pure white cake in the middle? Would it cost $10 a slice? Would I be disappointed that I wasted the calories (and, more importantly, the craving) on something mediocre?

I turned away. I finished my drink. We went home.

And then I baked my own cake.

Who cares if it was 2AM and I was out of butter? I found a simple recipe for one bowl quick chocolate cake, I whipped that sucker up, cooled it over the AC unit, dumped the still-warm cakes on a plate, poured a cocoa-powder-powdered-sugar-water glaze over the top of the heap, and set it in front of The BF… with two forks. We turned on Mad Men reruns, I changed into old sweats, and it was heaven. Why we ever leave the house, I’ll never know.

On the menu:
One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
Serves 2 (just kidding… serves 12)

Cake:
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9-inch round baking pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Split the batter between the 2 pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate glaze:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk (you might need more depending on the consistency of the glaze that you like)

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the cake. Eat like it’s going out of style.

*In the interest of full disclosure… I ran out of milk. I mixed together half a cup of heavy cream and half a cup of water and called it milk. Blame the three G&T’s I had before I baked this.

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Rainbow Cake

“I want a cake that looks like a watermelon and is rainbow colors on the inside.” If you’re part of my group of friends, this request doesn’t surprise you. I was happy to hear it and happy to make it. Friends, I give you… the rainbow watermelon cake. Happy Birthday, Becca!

On the menu:
Rainbow watermelon cake
Serves 12 – 14

Cake:
2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
4 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
Red, yellow, and blue food coloring

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add in egg yolks one at a time. Add vanilla.

Sift together flour and baking powder. Mix into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Add milk until mixture is blended.

In a small bowl, beat together your egg whites until light and fluffy and soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into the cake batter.

You can totally end the recipe here, fill 2 greased 8-in round cake pans, bake for 30 – 40 minutes, and have a beautiful white cake. OR… you can do what I did.

Separate batter, cup by cup, into six small bowls of equal size. Add food coloring as follows: 8 drops of red [red]; 8 drops of blue [blue]; 8 drops of yellow [yellow]; 4 drops of red and 4 drops of blue [violet]; 4 drops of red and 4 drops of yellow [orange]; 4 drops of blue and 4 drops of yellow [green]

Mix together each color with a separate spoon. Into a greased 8-in round baking pan, pour the first color. Tap the baking sheet until the batter has spread to an even height all the way around. Pour the second color on top of that and tap again until the batter spreads (you may have to coax it with a rubber spatula but VERY gently so you don’t mix the colors!). Pour the third color on top of that and tap again. In the second 8-in round baking pan, repeat the pouring steps with your last 3 colors.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until you press the cake and it springs back to shape. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a cooking rack before frosting.

Buttercream frosting:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips

Beat together the sugar and butter until blended. Add vanilla. Add milk bit by bit until you reach the desired consistency.

For watermelon decoration: split the frosting up into 3 bowls. Leave 3/4 cup white. 1/2 cup dyed red. Remaining frosting dyed green. Spread 1/2 of the white frosting on first cake layer and then top with second layer. Once your cakes are stacked, frost the outside with the green. Use your red frosting to make a frosting circle on the top layer, leaving 1/2 inch around the perimeter.

Using a pastry bag, create a green circle on the perimeter of the cake (like a little frosting fence). On the interior of the green, use a separate pastry bag and your remaining white frosting to make a white circle (this is the rind of the watermelon). Use the chocolate chips to make the “seeds.”

Seriously, if anyone just followed all those directions… props to you. Props. To. You. ENJOY!

*Note: this is not your standard fluffy boxed cake. It’s a bit on the dense side, but the flavor is unbeatable. It’s not overly sweet but hits the cake-craving spot, and is the perfect vehicle for super sweet buttercream frosting. Drool…

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Penne with Mushrooms and Pancetta

I know, this is not the most appetizing picture ever. But it’s better then nothing!

It’s a blessing and a curse, guys. I am phenomenal at making basic comfort foods. I know, I know. Humble, too.

You might be thinking, “How in the world is this a curse?” Because in my house, that’s all I ever get asked to make. The below dish is a perfect example. It’s not groundbreaking cuisine here, folks. It’s just a different sauce. But after I made it The BF said, “You gotta make more stuff like THIS!” Ah… more cheesy pasta. Noted.

On the menu:
Penne with mushrooms and pancetta

1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 cup dry red wine (I used Malbec… because I.Love.Malbec.)
8 oz pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
12 ounces of assorted mushrooms, cut into large pieces (I used baby bellas and crimini but you can use anything fresh)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp fresh sage (OR 1 Tbsp dried sage), chopped
1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary (OR 1/2 tsp dried rosemary), chopped
1 lb penne
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large sauce pan, combine the beef broth and the wine over medium/high heat. Let cook for 18 – 20 minutes until the liquid is reduced to one cup.

In the meantime, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a LARGE pot (the entire pound of pasta will eventually go into this pot so keep that in mind when choosing a size). Add mushrooms and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until softened, around 6 – 8 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a plate.

[AT THIS TIME: start cooking your penne! Just remember to cook until JUST al dente, and reserve half a cup of the pasta water for later in the recipe]

Add pancetta to the large pot that your mushrooms were in and saute until the pancetta is crispy and brown, around 10 – 12 minutes. Drain off excess fat. Add wine reduction, butter, and herbs to the pot. Simmer until liquid thickens slightly, around 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms.

Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese to the mushroom mixture. Cook over medium/high heat until the sauce really thickens and coats the pasta, about 7 – 9 minutes, adding a bit of pasta water little by little if the sauce is dry. Plate pasta and top with remaining cheese.

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Mediterranean Chicken Salad

I love to cook (…duh) but sometimes weeknight meals feel like a chore to come up with. The BF and I do our weekly grocery shopping on Sundays and sometimes I just can’t think past Sunday night as far as meals go. “Are you sick of penne vodka?” I always ask, staring down at the shopping list with the same twenty items as last week and the week before.

If you’re like me, and you often run out of ideas, there’s a savior: Epicurious Weekday Meal Planner. It’s literally a meal for every night of the week. Not just an entree, not just a soup or a sandwich, a whole meal: salad, entree, and even a dessert suggestion. Epicurious even offers up suggestions on what to do with leftovers (for example, 2 cups of rice made on Monday could serve as the base for Tuesday’s soup). And the best part? Most meals are working-girl/guy friendly. You won’t find any four-hour-long roasting menus or Thanksgiving-sized turkey dinners. If you’re ever stuck for a meal idea, you gotta check it out.

The below meal comes straight from Epicurious’ Weekday Meal Planner and it exceeded my expectations. And I love that it makes enough leftovers for my lunch tomorrow and The BF’s dinner on Thursday.

On the menu:
Mediterranean chicken salad
Serves 5
Adapted from Epicurious.comĀ 

4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked, diced chicken

1 cup orzo
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 6-oz. jar of artichoke hearts, drained
2 Tbsp capers, drained
3 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cucumbers, diced

In a small bowl combined oil, vinegar, tarragon, lemon juice, and mustard, and whisk together until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the chicken with 1/4 cup dressing until coated.

Cook orzo as directed and once drained, toss cooked orzo with the remainder of the dressing. Add chicken to the orzo, then add the cranberries, artichoke hearts, and capers.* Plate mixed greens and then chicken salad on top of the greens. Add tomatoes and cucumbers on the side (or on top if the mood strikes you).

*This salad is “supposed” to be served cold (I don’t really do a lot of things I’m supposed to when it comes to cooking) but I looooved the flavor of the balsamic vinegar when the chicken and orzo warmed it up, so feel free to serve it warm or at room temperature.

Note: I warmed up some naan and served it alongside the salad. It was the cherry on the sundae… and yes. Afterward I ate a sundae.

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