The world is full of the most spectacular cooking artisans. I am overwhelmed and delighted at the caliber, innovation and sheer genius of these virtual chefs, and love immersing myself in their culinary theme parks. And, for all my excitement, I am also intimidated. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night with new ideas to try. As though I'm on Chopped, on the Food Network, and it's just me, a secret ingredient, and 10 million viewers waiting for me to fail.
Then I remembered why I started this website, and it's no more complicated than this. I LOVE TO COOK. Yes, I dream of the day when I will have a kitchen worthy of Michael Chiarello, and perhaps spend an afternoon signing autographs at Barnes and Noble as I release cookbook number 5. But until then, I have to remember that not everything must pass a test, only please those around my table. And that feels noble enough to me.
Enjoy these three simple dishes, Sriracha Spiked Devilish Eggs (One of my friends told me they are the BEST she's every had...Thanks, Linda!) Blanched Carrots, and Mini Penne and Peppers and Vodka Sauce.
Easy Blanched Carrots with Orange Honey Thyme Glaze
Clean and cut up 3 C carrots in your preferred shape. Place in boiling water for about 4 to 5 minutes until some of the firmness has gone but they're not mushy. Shock in cool water, dry off and place in bowl. Add 2 generous T honey, juice from half an orange, a pinch of salt and toss. Garnish with chopped thyme, toss again, cover and refrigerate.
Sriracha Spiked Devilish Eggs
Fill a pan with water and place 5 eggs in water. Bring to boil, then turn off heat, cover and let sit for 25 minutes. Shock in cool water. Let sit for 2 minutes. Peel. Cut in half and place cooked yolks in bowl. Add the following:
3 to 4 T mayonnaise
1 T yellow mustard
1.5 T pickle relish. I like sweet pickle relish with this dish
salt and pepper
1/8 t chili in adobo hot sauce
1/4 t sriracha sauce
Stir and combine all ingredients. Place a dollop of mixture in the empty well of each egg half. Garnish with fresh, chopped Italian parsley and dots of sriracha sauce. Can also sprinkle with paprika if desired.
This is so easy it's not really cooking, but unless someone else volunteers to clean the pans, you take as much credit as you like!
Break up 1/3 ground beef, 80/20, and place in large saute pan.
Add 1/2 chopped green pepper and 1/4 cup finely diced white onion and season with salt and pepper and a generous dash of Coriander powder.
Cook all til tender, about 8 minutes, add a bottle of your favorite Vodka Pasta Sauce.
Cook your pasta to al dente, drain, add to sauce which has been simmering while the pasta cooks. Let it sit and simmer on LOW for another 5 minutes.
Garnish with fresh italian parsley and generous amounts of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
You all remember Naturalist Euell Gibbons, who was featured on the old 70's ads for Grape Nuts Cereal. #manypartsareedible. Sadly he keeled over from a heart attack, doubly convincing us that people who eat anything that sounded like it came from a tree would never make it past 40. Personally I think it was a conspiracy by the Twinkie® people, but that's another blog. Today we're more apt to combine the popular with the sensible, and even more exciting is the fact that it can still taste incredibly good while lighting up your table with color and satisfaction.
Take the humble wheatberry for instance. It's nutty flavor and brick red color puts it somewhere between the taste of brown rice and oatmeal spiked with the savory warmth of bread dough. It cooks up easily and stores well, and in our case, after being inspired by a recipe on the side of the package, turns into a very satisfying side or salad.
The package suggested a Waldorf-inspired concoction, which I massaged to fit what I had. Wally never looked so good.
Wiley Waldorf Wheatberry Salad
1/2 C wheatberries
1 and a quarter cup water
3 celery stalks, cut
1/3 C Craisins
Handful slivered almonds
1 Fugi apple sliced
1/4 C sour cream
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 T honey
salt and pepper (You will need it. The wheatberry comes alive with seasoning.)
1/8 t ground ginger
handful thinly sliced flat leaf parsley
Cook wheatberry according to directions. For me, I put the wheatberries and water in a sauce pan stirred it, brought it to a boil, stirred it, covered it and simmered on low for 30 minutes. If there's a little moisture, just let it simmer on a little higher heat and stir for about 3 minutes more, then take off burner and let sit.
Cool the wheatberries. I put them in a bowl warm and stuck them in the freezer for 20 minutes. They were cool enough. I was hungry.
Combine with all other ingredients and bring two spoons to the party. Even those who have sworn to never eat trees will still want a bite.
Those words could be the name of a cookbook, with every page filled entirely by recipes for the warm, and caramelized goodness that emerges when you roast something. Sweet or savory, meat or vegetable, fruit or bread; let the mouth of your waiting oven swallow all of them whole. Each exiting transformed and tinged with dark crusty morsels of heaven, each a beautiful flavor bomb that will whisper with honesty why cooking is so wonderful.
Still in service to this day, the old Revere Ware my mother cooked with is visibly fatigued by age and frequency. The lid on the dutch oven is nearly out of its screw hole, and has worn down so much there are only rounded edges to grab with her red, crocheted oven mitt. It was the go-to roast beef meal each Sunday that aged the old girl, (The pot, not my Mom. She still looks GREAT.) and we were nearly bent over in anticipation as we sat down for a taste of 1 soft, moist slice of heaven. It was covered with gravy -- dark, speckled with pepper and the fatty charred edges of meat juices -- blanketing everything in carnivorous joy, that sent a prayer of thanks skyward. If you didn't bring your plate to the sink decorated the tell-tale skid marks of a roll that sopped up every bit of it, everyone thought you were out of your gourd. It was that good.
And speaking of gourds, how about let's give a round of applause for that beautiful photo above, featuring one of my favorite things to roast: butternut squash. Orange, sweet, earthy, vibrant and patient; the odd shaped and lightly colored orb lay in my kitchen for three weeks before it became dinner and would have remained perfectly fine for a bit longer if I hadn't come home from the store feeling a chill to the bone and needing something roasted. It's truly a favorite, and so easy to make. For me, what doesn't get devoured hot, gets put in the fridge for another day, and enjoyed cold with a lunch of ham and cottage cheese, or mushed up with a cheesy pasta. Or drizzled with honey and enjoyed with crusty bread and kalamata olives.
You can't mess it up and you can't resist it. Enjoy...
Better Roasted Butternut Squash
Squash (I used a small one. Each quarter was about 4 inches long and 2 inches high)
Salt and Pepper
Garnish with fresh flat leaf parsley
Rinse the gourd. Cut it in half, then half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cover a roasting sheet with foil and place squash on foil. Drizzle about 1/2 T oil on each upper facing half. Cover with Salt and Pepper and a smidgeon of allspice. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or so. Remove and devour!
I've been gone for awhile if you haven't noticed. And it was while teetering on the roof, contemplating whether it was worth it to end everything over a computer crash, that I knew it was time for my all time comfort snack -- peanut butter cookies -- to bring me back to sanity. Of course, now that I'm an online cooking maven (at least in my own mind) I had to make them with a twist. Enter the interesting and noticeable change that occurred when I added Rice Krispies and a snippet of coffee.
It's an old recipe, visible now on pages that have become a bit brown, but my Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book is a stalwart part of my kitchen so I don't quibble about its age. Nor do I talk about what's aging on me. I'd rather just pour cold milk over ice and think about it without seriousness, after cookie number 7.
Here's all I did. I used this recipe (http://www.bhg.com/recipe/cookies/classic-peanut-butter-cookies/) and added 1/2 C rice krispies at the end, and used about 2 T less flour. Plus, I put 1 T of cold coffee in the batter. Then I did a thumb imprint on the cookie instead of the fork tine lattice pattern, and sprinkled raw sugar crystals generously in the center. The result was interesting. More of a complex mouth-feel to the cookie with a bit of lightness, and the sugar, caramelized just slightly, giving a slight toffee chew.
I'm pretty sure I didn't reinvent, but I certainly IN-vented something new. Why don't you take your favorite cookie for a test drive and see what happens when you experiment? Better than jumping, cause if I can cook at least I won't ever starve!
Enjoying our warm spell? You know I am. Indian Summer, however long it lasts, is a beautiful time of year where the color of fall, and heat of September marry in a vibrant and hopeful pairing. So, what does it mean?
According to www.phrases.org.uk, Indian Summer is defined as the following:
Indian summer is first recorded in Letters From an American Farmer, a 1778 work by the French-American soldier turned farmer J. H. St. John de Crèvecoeur (a.k.a. Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur): "Then a severe frost succeeds which prepares it to receive the voluminous coat of snow which is soon to follow; though it is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness, called the Indian Summer."
What a beautiful and poetic description! Sounds like he could write a food blog. However, lucky for us, there probably won't be voluminous coats of snow here in the Carolinas. Nevertheless, this week we are surely enjoying an Indian Summer. To celebrate, I created a quick, colorful and fresh Corn Salad that is a variation on a recipe I made up 20 years ago called, "Autumn Relish." This one packs more of a punch, so I'm calling it my Indian Summer Relish Salad.
Full of fast ingredients, this definitely fits into the #fabin40. Enjoy!
Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, mama gotta cook something great, first try? …. Wait, really? That’s not how it goes? Well, it feels like it. Especially if you’re pressed for time and surrounded by hungry, grumpy faces who have no idea you can’t create miracles EVERY night. "Feed me or else!" is the narrative emerging from their glazed eyes. Don’t fret. Grab and pan and read on.
Let’s go back to the first sentence. Fish – yes. That’s it. Let’s try fish. Healthy, and takes on flavors so easily, plus it’s really quick to cook. It’s the perfect canvas for the debut of our new series called Fabulous in Forty Minutes or Less. We combined ready-made ingredients you can keep on hand, with some easy techniques and fresh ingredients, for a fool-proof way to keep everyone happy first time, every time.
Cashew Crusted Tilapia with Fragrant Thyme, Roasted in a Champagne, Orange and Sweet Chili Glaze
Prep Time: 15 min. Total Time: 30 minutes.
4 fresh tilapia filets, blotted dry
1/4 C Girard’s Champagne Salad Dressing
2 T plus 1/8 Cup Sweet Chili Sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
Juice from one orange
Orange slices for garnish
1/4 t Salt and 1/8 t Pepper
2 T thyme leaves and 5 sprigs thyme
1/2 C salted cashews, blended to coarse crumbs
2 T cashew pieces for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tilapia filets in a baking dish, with the edges touching but not overlapping. They should all be uniform in thickness. In another small bowl, add sweet chili sauce and orange juice to champagne vinaigrette salad dressing, mix with fork to combine. Remove thyme leaves for the garnish and discard the stems. Pulse the cashews in a small food processor until they are coarse crumbs. Now cover filets with sauce, turn over and over again until they are coated. Dust with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cashew crumbs over the top and place the remaining thyme sprigs, all piled together, on top in the center. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until opaque. DO NOT OVER COOK! The fish will cook at bit more when you take the dish out. Err on the side of not done.
Serve with green beans and your favorite starch, and garnish with whole cashews, thyme leaves, and extra chili sauce glaze. Arrange orange slices to finish.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.