Tuesday, July 26, 2011

sometimes it's all you need

Pecan Honey Bunches of Oats and pumpernickel rye toast.  
For dinner.  
Just perfect.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

here's to the little guys

Oh broccoli, how I love you.  When I was little (more little than I am now that is) I used to call broccoli "little trees." Well, here we have the amazing union of "little trees" and "little ears", which in Italian is orecchiette.  Go ahead, impress your friends at a party with your knowledge of Italian.  "My what orecchiette you have!"  For some reason I can't fathom, recipes involving broccoli and pasta almost always call for using orecchiette pasta.  Whatever the reason, it's tasty.  Here, I'm going a wee bit traditional: just pasta, parmesan, broccoli, garlic and red pepper flakes. 

You'll need 2 smallish heads of broccoli or 1 large one.  Cut the florets into bite-sized pieces (and I also do the same with about 1'' of the stalk).  

Toss on a baking sheet with 2 cloves of roughly chopped (so it doesn't burn) garlic and about 1/4 c of evoo (you need a bit more than you think because you don't want those precious little trees to dry out roasting -- like every tree in Texas is right now).  Also add about 1 T of salt, 1 tsp of pepper and maybe 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes (see pic).  You can add more of this if you like a little extra heat.

Roast at 400ºF/204ºC for about 20 minutes, until tender and a bit caramelized, giving it a little mix halfway through.  While your little trees are all happy in the oven, get workin' on those little ears.  Add about 12 ounces of pasta (3/4 of the package) into salted boiling water, stirring to prevent sticking and cook until very al dentre (firm to the bite), about 10 minutes.  Before you drain it, be sure and reserve about a cup of the starchy cooking water. You'll be amazed what it'll do in making an easy sauce.

Now comes the fun part!  Toss your pasta, roasted broccoli and garlic together with about 1/3 c parmesan cheese (it's okay, you can grate it this time).  When adding the cooking water, add about 1/2 c first and then more if it needs it to form a light sauce.  And for a bit of decadence...

 ...throw in 2 T of butter.  Taste and season with more s&p and pepper flakes as needed.  I definitely needed a bit more salt & red pepper flakes (but I like a little kick).  Because my pasta was so al dente, I was able to keep it cooking with the broccoli, cheese and butter for about 5 minutes, which just intensified the flavor.

 That's it!  You can have it as a nice simple supper with some extra parm shaved on top or...
 ...you can have it with quick pan-seared tilapia like I did.  Either way, it's fantastic.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011


(*m.f.e.o: an amorous phrase, derived from Sleepless in Seattle meaning "made for each other")
Pop quiz time!  What did I mention in an earlier post as my favorite food?  Okay, I'll be nice and give you the answer: eggs.  Now before you judge that as a rather boring favorite food (when compared to the glory of chocolate or the flamboyance of coq au vin, for instance), let me explain.  Eggs are incredibly versatile, are delightful and nutritious breakfast, lunch or dinner and something I just never tire of eating.

And if these ellipsoidal wonders are my favorite food, well then my favorite thing to add to them is potatoes.  They just go together perfectly.  So, this morning I decided to make my favorite thing (eggs) with its favorite thing (potatoes) in my favorite way of late: a frittata.  With all those t's it has to be delicious. :)  I'll walk you through how I make a frittata with plenty of pictures.  It's very simple but has an elegance that regular ol' scrambled eggaroos lack.  My recipe makes a medium-sized frittata: enough for 2.  Let's get our frittata on, shall we?

 Take half of a large red new potato (or a whole small one): half and slice thinly.

Saute it on medium heat in a small non-stick skillet in 1 T butter.  Add a bit of salt (mine is a wee bit fancy: French fleur de sel that I purchased in Geneva, but any sea salt'll do) and fresh cracked pepper.

Thinly slice 1/4 of a medium onion and add that, too.  Saute for about 10 minutes until onions are soft and potatoes are lightly browned and tender.

Finely mince a small clove of garlic and add that to the potatoes and onions.  Turn down to medium-low and saute just for a few minutes, until fragrant.  (If you're thinking "Garlic? In eggs?!" fear not, it's amazing.)

Chiffonade (roll into a cigar shape and thinly chop) this much basil.  Mmm, basil.  You could also use thyme or parsley.

Whisk (with that same super-complicated tool) 2 eggs with 2 T of heavy cream.  Don't worry, 2 T is not all that much.  And in order to make your frittata light and fluffy, you're gonna need that cream.  Season with s&p and add the basil. (I'm waiting for my HEB product endorsement check any day...)

Add to potato mixture in skillet, lightly mixing. Then, leave it.  Let it hang out and do its thing until it's cooked around the edges, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, get yourself a second cup of coffee.  You deserve it.

You can also be getting some cheese ready to top it with.  I tend to be a bit lazy and prefer to just chop cheese into tiny pieces while I'm already using my knife and cutting board instead of going to the trouble of getting out (and later washing) the grater.  I'm using colby jack because it's what I had, but you can use anything at all: parmesan (shaved off in big pieces remember!) would be uber elegant.

 This is how your eggs should look, set at edges and loose on the top.

Broil it in the oven until the top is set and starting to brown (see pic above).  **Warning: this happens super fast!** It really will only take about 30 seconds. Take it out of the oven, add your cheese on top and stick it back under the broiler for another 30 seconds or so, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Here's your glorious, rustic potato basil frittata.

 Enjoy!  I had mine with an english muffin for breakfast, but you could have this for lunch between toasted ciabatta bread with a bit of mayo, tomato and arugula (rocket) as an amazing sandwich.  Or for dinner, pair with a nice crisp pinot grigio and a simple salad.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

who ya callin' shrimp?

Driving an hour-and-a-half to Port Aransas, Texas just to appreciate the summery joy of the beach: worth it.  

Driving an hour-and-a-half to Port Aransas to appreciate the summery joy of the beach AND eat amazing fresh seafood from waters right beyond the deck of the restaurant: really, really worth it!  

There's nothing better than eating seafood while watching the water and hearing seagulls singing around you.  I went with my parents to Port A for the day (our shared motivation really was the seafood), and I fully intended on this hot HOT Texas day to have some nice light grilled shrimp or fish, perhaps with a little wild rice or something and water.  This is what I actually had:

An ice-cold Pacifico and...

...a massive crunchy basket of fresh fried shrimp and french fries.  

And while grilled shrimp (ever grilled shrimp on rosemary skewers? a-maz-ing!) would've been healthier, this was just fantastic.  Absolutely worth the trip!  For those of you relatively near a beach this summer: make the drive and load up on fresh yummy seafood.  For those of you who find yourselves a little land-locked these days, get to your grocery store and pretend you were just at the coast.  Happy summer, y'all.

Bon appetit!

Monday, July 18, 2011

rice is nice.

(yep, that's a well-loved cast iron skillet, y'all) 

Fried rice and I, well, we go way back.  My family tradition was/is always to go for Chinese after church on Sundays.  While in seminary, I became so familiar with a delicious Thai place that when I would call to order my Thai fried rice, they would say (with a smile you could hear) "Whitney?"  I love fried rice.  But, as I said earlier, I've never attempted to make it.  So, when I came across this recipe in my Rachael Ray magazine that included an whimsical story of a mother and daughter having it as a welcome reward after hiking up Machu Picchu, I had to make it.  It has a strange-seeming combo of Mexican and Chinese flavors (I do believe that's what in the foodie world is termed "fusion"), but just tastes fantastic.  Here's Rachael's recipe (with my slight variations):



  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) white beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots mix, thawed (I prefer fresh diced carrots to frozen ones, but frozen peas really are best)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (I find that cilantro's like street preachers: a little bit goes a long way.  I just used 1/4 cup)


  1. In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, cover the rice with water and
    stir until the water becomes cloudy; drain and repeat twice. Return the
    rice to the saucepan, add 1 cup cold water, cover and cook over
    medium-low heat until the water has been absorbed and the rice is
    cooked, about 25 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggs, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until
    set and just dry, about 1 minute. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool; coarsely chop.
  3. In the same skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add the
    scallion whites and bell pepper (and carrots) and cook until crisp-
    tender, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the beans
    and peas-carrots mix and cook until heated through; transfer to a large
  4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp. oil and the cumin over medium-high heat. Stir in the cooked rice. Spread into a single layer
    and cook, undisturbed, until the rice forms a crust, about 3 minutes.
    Break up the rice and sprinkle with the soy sauce. Stir in the scallion
    greens, cilantro, bean mixture and eggs and cook until heated
    So fresh and (yes) fragrant.  A great veggie supper.  I also added extra
    fresh chopped scallions at the end and an extra sprinkle of soy sauce
    on my serving.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

let them eat rice

Sometimes, even a foodie gal needs a cooking break. 

Delicious.  Anyone have a good fried rice recipe?  I'm ashamed to say I've never made it myself, but would really love to give it a try.

I'm thinking about this recipe from Rachael Ray.  Seems to be a kinda Mexican twist with a bit of cilantro and beans.  Different than traditional Chinese fried rice, but it looks amazing, with generous amounts of egg (my favorite food, y'all!), caramelized rice and delightful little peas.  Yes, Mr. President, I like my peas.  I think frozen peas are the best (frozen at peak of freshness with a nice little crunch intact).  I would, though, use fresh carrots instead of the frozen the recipe calls for.

Bon appetit!

Friday, July 15, 2011

i ♥ b. s.

The power of this innocuous teeny vegetable to strike fear into the hearts of grown adults (and of course, children) astounds me. They're often named alongside such villains as lima beans and spinach and used by parents to torture their children into healthy eating. But fear not, foodie friends, for this little guy is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, he's quite tasty if you treat him well. But heed my warning: beware of the boil! Boiling veggies is just wrong. I don't care how much the cool kids pressure you to do it, don't. Be strong. Your brussels will thank you. Instead, roast them.

Roasting veggies is the absolute best way to bring out their natural flavor, add interesting texture and turn what could be scary into a delightful dish. (I'm thankful for this, because when I lived in Belfast, my "cooker" as they call them - oven/stove combo - was pretty old and pathetic. The only reliable heat came from sauteing or roasting...baking was a nightmare in it. I roasted everything: cauliflower, red peppers, zucchini, carrots mmm.) I'll walk you through the easy peasy steps of roasting brussels sprouts. The Barefoot Contessa's recipe here is pretty much the same.
First: apologize to your sprouts for years of misunderstanding and judgment: for feeding them to the dog when your parents weren't looking, for that disgusted face you make when you hear their name, for making a large arc in the produce section of your grocery store just so you can avoid them. Don't worry, brussels sprouts are forgiving little things. Reconciliation's always possible. Okay, moving on...

I used one package of brussels sprouts: about a pound. This makes enough for 4 skeptics or 2 adoring fans of brussels sprouts (you'll all wind up being adoring fans, I promise). Trim up your sprouts: cut off the very bottom and remove any dodgy-looking outer leaves. If you have larger sprouts, half them. Put them in a bowl with 3 tablespoons evoo (extra-virgin olive oil), 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper. Toss together. Then let those brussels spread out on a sheet pan. Roast them at 375 degrees F/190 degrees C for 35-45 minutes, giving them a little shake every 10 minutes or so to help them brown evenly. They're going to get pretty caramelized: don't worry, you're not burning them. They're meant to get a good amount of color on the outside.

Once out of the oven, give them another little light sprinkle of salt (unless you need to go light on this) and get ready to have your world rocked.

Crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside. You'll never look at a brussels sprout the same way again.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

i just collard to say i love you

SUCH good collard greens.

Dawn (L) joining in for some of the Native American dancing
at the Multi-Cultural Conference.

We are very fortunate today, foodie friends of mine, because we have a guest post (yippee!) from my fabulous new friend, Dawn (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Multi-Cultural Youth Conference at Mo-Ranch). She may also be referred to as Queen of the Collard Greens. Get excited, y'all.
Hey Whitney,
Glad you enjoyed those collards. My recipe is very simple. As we were in Mo Ranch i didn't have the extra time to buy fresh collards, clean and cook them for almost 200 people, so I brought some already chopped and cleaned collards in the bag. The brand I purchased was Glory.
Ingredients used:
Smoked turkey leg or wing
Sea salt and pepper taste
one chopped sweet onion
one chopped red bell pepper
tsp. sugar or sugar substitute
Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste
Put smoked turkey in pot with water to cover the turkey. Added chopped onions/red peppers, salt, pepper. Brought to a boil and then added the rest of the ingredients, adding the collards last. Once all ingredients are in the pot, I let it simmer for about a hour or so stirring in between. When the turkey starts to fall off the bone i remove it from the pot and take only the meat and skin off the bone replacing it back into the pot of greens, throwing the bones away. Let cook under a low heat until the greens are tender checking the taste in between and adding any salt, pepper, cayenne to taste. Enjoy!
Thanks for sharing, Dawn! Can't wait to make 'em.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I'm enjoying a wee bit o' time in Houston catching up with family and friends and, of course, food's a big part of that. I enjoyed a quiet morning yesterday spent sipping (okaaay, chugging) coffee at Panera and munching on a delightful, fresh cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese while reading a fascinating book on interfaith relations by Volf. I love the combo of coffee and cream cheese bagels. My local coffee shop is great, but they really need to get some bagels in the place.

I met up with friends at Grotto, an Italian place with excellent wine and phenomenal desserts.

They give you this at the end of the meal. It tastes as good as it looks.

Of course, we had coffee. (Decaf, actually. It was late, I'm getting old ha!)

And here is that amazing tiramisu. The raspberries just made it lighter and divine. I've never tried to make this myself. Have you? Have a recipe/tips you want to share?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

comfort food

I had the great pleasure of heading to what is perhaps my favorite place on earth this past weekend, Mo Ranch. Mo is a Presbyterian conference center nestled in the gorgeous hill country of Texas with the cooling Guadalupe river running through it. Sigh, the river...it's so relaxing to sit in the swirling waters with cliffs surrounding you and a blue sky overhead...okay, food blog, right. Back to the food.

The great thing about the hill country is that it's full of charming little towns with names like "Welfare" and "Comfort." Comfort is just the cutest little town with a historic downtown district full of local restaurants. I gave myself ample time for a wee bit o' antiquing and indulging in Comfort on the way, but when I arrived, I discovered that my favorite restaurant, The High Cafe that makes homemade jalapeno pimento cheese sandwiches that laugh in the face of ham sandwiches, was closed. Dang it, y'all. So I went across the street to a little deli and because it was 105 degrees outside (no exaggeration), I ordered their large house salad that promised bacon (note what I list first), baby greens, tomatoes, parmesan and an exciting-sounding hazelnut vinaigrette. Here's a pic of my first bite:

Looks amazing, no? The problem: no flavor (except the peppered bacon, which was nice). I wasn't thrilled. So I figured I'd take a little what-not-to-do lesson from my lackluster salad.
1. Hazelnut vinaigrette dressing that is clear and made from hazelnut oil, with no actual hazelnuts chopped up in it = strange. Like pouring flavored water on your salad. But, I am excited about the idea of hazelnut dressing, so I'll be playing with adding toasted hazelnuts to my vinaigrettes.

2. Second mistake: tomatoes that had clearly been kept in a fridge for ages and thus had no flavor left. Tomatoes are not friends with your fridge. I know, they keep longer there. But a tomato that you've had for 2 weeks perfectly preserved in your fridge has no flavor. They're like Texans: warmer is better, y'all.

3. Powdered parmesan dust in the green shake canister that lasts forever = blah. Pre-grated parmesan like the thin slivers on my salad = moving in the right direction. Buying a real block of parmesan and just shaving off generous pieces with a vegetable peeler = way better. Do this.

4. Final salad lesson: salt & pepper are your friends. Don't be afraid of them. I know, you're thinking "salt is the enemy" but seriously, it's a salad. Get over it. Season that baby.

After my thrilling-as-a-waiting-room salad, I was delighted to see that there was an ice cream parlor (from the early 1900s!) nearby.

After some vigorous and enjoyable antiquing where I acquired a quirky book from 1930 called "A Modern Lady" I sauntered across the hot, hot, hot street into the bliss of Sweet Comfort, the ice cream parlor. They had delectable-looking homemade chocolates which I eschewed to make a beeline to the ice cream counter. While debating what type I should get, the woman next to me ordered MANGO Bluebell ice cream. Whoa. Mango. Yes. I ordered a single (Texas-sized, y'all) cone and entered into cold mango sugar Bluebell bliss.


Such a charming place. I loved this sign. It might just be my motto for this blog. :)

After my ice cream miracle, I headed to Mo Ranch and had an amazing time with young people from many backgrounds as we celebrated the gift of God that is diversity. And what's the best way to celebrate God's gift of diversity? Well, food, of course. Part of the conference involved each culture represented cooking food common to their culture and sharing it with the rest of us. So you entered the room all of our large group gatherings were in and found yourself delighted by the sights and smells of food from the familiar to the unexpected. I made my way around and ended up with this:

Mmm. Let me give you a little tour of my plate-o-cultural-awesomeness. There was Korean kimchi and fried zucchini. There was a cup of charro beans fragrant with rich tomatoes, cilantro, pinto beans and broth. There was English trifle where fluffy whipped cream was folded around sweet pineapples and decadent morsels of cake, served with Earl Grey tea (that should've had milk, but no worries) and biscuits. There was fried chicken and collard greens. Yeah, you're going to want to see these close up...

It might come from living in the Atlanta area for a while, but I l.o.v.e. collard greens. Salty from the pork, a bit of a kick from something (cayenne perhaps?), comforting greens. I'm going to have to ask my new friend Dawn who made these (and yes, I was her friend before she gave me food...the food just, um, solidified our friendship!) for this recipe.

And now we have the most amazing tasty delight of all that comes from our Native American brothers and sisters: what they call an "Indian taco." It's made with fluffy fry bread (which I assume is fried) and then they top it with a delectable combination of beans and ground beef with perhaps a good bit of cumin. A bit of cheese, some crunchy refreshing lettuce and some (non-refrigerated) tomatoes and there you have it. The best version of a taco you'll ever meet. Now in the chaos of packing up, doing post-conference review and saying goodbyes, I managed to give Allie my roomie for the weekend, also known as the Queen of the Indian Taco, my email address requesting her recipe for this amazing fry bread. I'll be sure and give it a try when I get the recipe and share the results with y'all. And if you're a vegetarian person, fear not, you won't be deprived of the amazing fry bread. They gave vegetarians fry bread as a dessert with a generous side of golden honey to dip it in. Sounds pretty awesome, too.

What are y'all cooking these days? Thanks for stopping by this new lil' blog o' mine. I'm having fun indulging my foodie tendencies with y'all.

Bon appetit!