daily bread 5/30/11

Well, it’s Memorial Day, so I’m guessing most of you are doing what we’re doing (provided the weather holds up): grilling. Jeff has a ton of chicken and ears of corn ready to be grilled, and I’ve made vats of salsa and guacamole – and for us, that’s about as perfect a meal as it gets.  So, for another day when you’re not lighting the charcoal, here are some good eats:

  • Green Beans with Eggs, Chilies & Cilantro – This was a personal fave, though Jeff dubbed it “chick food” (meaning it wasn’t full of meat and as substantive as he’d like it). The cilantro, walnuts and chilies gave it such a great flavor and with some warm tortillas? Yum.
  • Homemade Gyros – These were flavorful and so refreshing – a perfect warm-day meal. I used ground pork instead of veal (what can I say? I’m cheap), and I would definitely recommend using Greek yogurt for the tzatziki, as mine was pretty watery. Speaking of which, I added the fresh mint and a whole lot of dried dillweed, plus a little salt, to get the right flavor. It wasn’t worthy of eating straight but with everything else it was delish.
  • Creamy Irish Style Macaroni & Cheese – Jeff and I loved this… Olive not so much. I used mascarpone & cream cheese in place of the farmhouse cheese and the flavor was awesome – I love me some Dubliner!
  • Hearty Minestrone – I love love love this recipe, and it was just right for the wacky cold weather we had a few days last week. Simple, flavorful… those green beans make it divine. It’s even better the next day, after the flavors have really melded.
  • Orzo with Mushrooms – So quick and easy I was dubious as to how good it could be – but YUM! (Disclaimer: I added much more butter than the recipe calls for. But they called it comfort food… to me that says “add all the butter you want.” Right?)
  • Meatballs with Peas – Sounded like an odd combination to me but our family loves this one. I have to reign myself in from eating all the meatballs before I get the sauce on & cook it all together… especially once they soak up all that white wine. Mmmmm.
  • Almond Cake – Almond is one of my favorite flavors and yet I had somehow never cooked with almond paste before. This has a nice, crumby crust and a moist middle and is a fabulous breakfast with coffee, snack with tea, or dessert with wine. It hasn’t lasted more than a day in our house, which says a lot for a cake.
And here is an ACTUAL. RECIPE. (please don’t fall over dead).
Once upon a time, when I was working at a church in San Diego, the women’s ministry there did this lovely event called Dish It Up. Once a week for six weeks a woman would open her home and teach 6-8 other (presumably younger) women how to cook. I did it twice – once was an Italian themed class and the other a quick-cooking class. Both were marvelous – there is nothing I love more than being squished into a kitchen, cooking together and then eating something delicious amidst laughter. (Thanks again, Cherie, Roni & Darci for those sweet times!).
Some of those recipes are still in amongst my repertoire, including this one.

Sausage and Corn Quesadillas


  • 1 (12 ounce) package hot Italian sausage
  • 11 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups Jack cheese grated
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
  • 1 (7 oz) package frozen corn thawed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


1. In a medium skillet, crumble and cook sausage over medium-high heat until well done. Drain & set aside.

2. Mix softened cream cheese and cayenne. Spread evenly on one half of each tortilla. Sprinkle on cooked sausage, cheese, chilies, and corn and sprinkle with salt. Fold over to cover.

3. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil. Place quesadillas on sheets and brush with oil.

4. Bake until brown and crispy, 10-15 minutes.

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daily bread 5/11/11

Installment #3! This will be a big one because I missed it last time (the plan is every other week) so there’s lots of goodess to share. And just think – with the Farmer’s Market back open and fresh produce just weeks away there will be SO MUCH MORE to enjoy! I’m giddy just thinking about it. Hooray for spring!
  • Black Bean Polenta Casserole – Easy and soooo good, especially with all the accoutrements of sour cream, pico de gallo, avocado and cilantro. The hubby loved it & so did I. The suddenly-fussy kiddo? Undecided. But really, all she likes lately is chicken nuggets. But that’s another story…
  • Slow-Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs – This recipe is so simple – I was dubious whether or not it could be very good. But oh, my, IS IT. I have even used dry basil all winter (until I get my herb garden going) and it’s still fabulous. We all go into food afterglow with this one. And I can’t wait to try it as meatball subs, too – we’ve always just done spaghetti.
  • Shrimp & Bok Choy with Gingery Quick Fried Rice – Love it. Wonderful weeknight meal, simple and healthy. Even the little one likes bok choy!
  • Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash – I have to be honest, everyone else liked this one better than I did – but I think with a little tweaking I could love it. Next time I would add a pound of ground beef (so much for a meatless meal), and instead of just frozen corn I would do mixed veggies – carrots, corn and peas at least. But the topping was great and we all loved the lentils.
  • Indian-Style Curry Yogurt Chicken and Mango Relish – Our Easter feast, made with still-slightly-tart champagne mangoes I found on sale at Whole Foods. This is a serious riot of flavors – I adored the chicken with rice and naan and actually ate it with just the sliced mangoes. Jeff was in heaven with the whole meal and I can’t wait – now that the season is here – to try grilling the chicken instead of baking.
  • Pinto Beans – I was thinking this would be a nice staple to have made for easy burritos, quesadillas and nachos but they never made it past the pot… we served up bowls and downed them, nothing added. Olive had three whole bowls one after the other and asked for more the next day. Amazingly good, dirt cheap… it doesn’t get better than this. My one change was adding garlic ( a few cloves) when I put in the shallot.
  • Spinach, Feta & Mushroom Meatloaf – I made this on a lark when Jeff & I were first married, throwing in random things and somehow ending up with what is still one of our favorite meals (Olive will tell you this meatloaf and mashed potatoes are her #1). One of the highest compliments I’ve ever gotten was not too long ago when Shaina of Food for My Family said of me, “She makes good meatloaf.” Love this stuff; wish I could say I made the recipe up with thought & planning 😉
  • Chicken and Sweet Potato Chowder – A girlfriend recommended this recipe and it is fabulous. I’m not the hugest sage fan so I use dried and a lot less than the recipe calls for, and it’s still just delish.
  • Spinach & Mushroom Enchiladas – Rich: that’s one word for these. I love the homemade enchilada sauce (so easy! who knew?) and the filling, though I’m wanting to beef it up next time with some black beans & maybe corn. Jeff usually eats this with chips, as more of a dip than enchiladas & I’d like to change that & make it feel more maindish-y.
  • Egglant Parmesan – Can anyone argue with cheesy baked eggplant? Not I. A perfect recipe, if you ask me. Although I tend to heap on the cheese (I definitely double the mozzarella).
  • Cannoli Cream Banana Parfaits – I tried these out on Kate of Kate in the Kitchen when she came over for dinner and was very pleasantly surprised how delicious they were. As the sole banana eater in our home (and a passionate one at that) I’m always thrilled to discover a new way to enjoy them. And anything with ricotta gets high marks from me! I didn’t bother with the fancy slicing – I just cut small rounds like I would for cereal and sprinkled the nutmeg after layering them on.
  • Sour Cream Lemon Pound Cake – A nice, simple bundt with awesome lemony flavor. This was gone by the next afternoon. Lovely with coffee, tea, or red wine.

Well, I warned you it would be a long one… Mangia, friends! And please do tell me what you’re cooking, too!

Posted in food, recipes

come and get it!

MN Food Bloggers Bake Sale.
This Saturday, May 14, 11am-4pm at
the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis.
Proceeds go to Share Our Strength.
Come and get it!! 

Lots of fantastic local bloggers have teamed up (led by the fabulous Kate of Kate in the Kitchen) to bake up some marvelous treats in honor of a cause close to my heart – ending childhood hunger.

Swing by the Midtown Global Market’s Kitchen in the Market this Saturday and pick up some delectable treats baked by some of the most talented cooks I know (or even by me!) AND make a difference in the lives of children all in one stop. How can you go wrong?

And while you’re there, enjoy some of the awesome offerings at the Global Market itself – one of my favorite places in the Cities. And hey, you might just get to see little miss Olive and myself. If you buy some goodies I’ll even let you rub my belly (it’s huge and contains a baby, if you’ve forgotten – otherwise I would not be offering that :).

Can’t wait to see you there!

***If you live outside of the Twin Cities you can search for a Great American Bake Sale near you on the Share Your Strength website.

Posted in food, twin cities

beauty & breathing

It is finally – FINALLY – spring here in Minnesota and I find myself breathing a sigh of relief. Despite the tornadoes whipping through and the premature summerish temperatures it’s so phenomenally gorgeous with the flowers in bloom and the pale, tentative green leaves on the trees… a color that doesn’t show up anywhere else but the first blush of spring and that gives me such hope and joy. I feel – for no other reason than the weather – content. I couldn’t help but try to grab a few views to share – especially since I’m so smitten with the camera apps on my brand new Mother’s Day smartphone (this is from RetroCamera, which I adore). Here’s hoping you’ve got some blossoms coming up around – and in – you, too.

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daily bread 4/13/2011

And here it is, folks, the second installment! There’s been a lot of non-cooking going on around here as we’ve had friends and family in from out of town and we’ve been trying out the fabulous fare of these Twin Cities (like Sunstreet Breads! A favorite new find… their Southern Fried Biscuit is heaven on earth). So the kitchen’s been a little slow… not because I don’t love to cook for the people I love but because it’s so darn fun to try out all there is to eat and to be served for a little while – so we have more time to chat. Y’all know how I love to chat.

But, on to the recipes…

  • Korean-Style Beef Skewers with Rice Noodles – this recipe was so good that Jeff & I ate nearly all of it – despite the fact that the rice noodles I had bought mysteriously disappeared between the checkout and my kitchen and we were eating the meat with (cough, cough) mashed potatoes. A bit of my hubby’s inventiveness, I suppose – I wasn’t nuts on the combination, but I went with it. It’s not exactly grilling season in these here parts yet, so I cut the strips into bite-sized pieces and quickly sauteed them and it was nearly impossible to quit eating. This will be on the menu again SOON.
  • Orzo with Zucchini, Feta & Tomatoes – This is a recipe I adapted long ago from a Cooking Light magazine – it’s my go-to for potlucks, showers and just about anything else. It cooks up fast, is light & satisfying, and can be eaten at any temperature. I know, there needs to be a picture with this – one day when we don’t scarf it down too fast I’ll capture one.
  • Spaghetti Pie – I don’t know where this recipe came from, but my mom’s made it so long that I think of it as hers. The essence of decadence, this meaty, saucy, cheesy, eggplanty confection is the ultimate dinner. And it’s uber impressive for guests, though not at all hard to make (and even non-eggplant types will love it). Mmmmm.
  • Spicy Tofu, Mushroom and Tomato on Rice – I am not generally a fan of Rachael Ray’s recipes but I came across this one in a doctor’s office waiting room and couldn’t help but write it down. We tried it this week and it was so good… which is marvelous because I was going to be bitter if I sauteed up all those lovely grape tomatoes for nothing. I had to stop myself from eating the whole tub while cooking.
  • Lasagna Soup – A tweet about lasagna soup had me intrigued so I followed it back to A Farmgirl’s Dabbles and the picture (plus something called cheesy yum that you put in your bowl) sucked me in. As I was making it Jeff asked,”So is this like homemade Hamburger Helper?” and after giving him a withering look he tried some and declared it “out of this world.”

What about you – have you made anything fabulous lately? I’d love to hear about it!

Posted in food, recipes | 3 Comments