Archive for February, 2011

February 26, 2011

Chickpea + Roasted Bell Pepper Quinoa w/ Feta Cheese

the second most depressing news i’ve discovered this week (and second only to the Libyan revolution), is that produce is scarce right now due to recent crazy-assed freezing weather scouring the country. and as evidence, sitting there the produce isle of HEB, was a handful of pathetic, ugly bell peppers staring back at me. so what did i do? i bought a crap load of them. “yea.” you’re thinking, “she’s one of thOSE people. that buy bottled water by the case when news of some impending disaster is announced.”

no, not really. i’ve just really been craving red peppers lately.

in the past couple of days i’ve had red pepper bisque, haricot verts and red peppers, stuffed peppers, some sort of stir fry noodles with bell peppers, etc. no idea what’s hit me.


  1. halve and scoop out seeds
  2. place over aluminum foil into the toaster oven on 400F, broil, for ~20 min or until skin blackens and blisters
  3. remove from oven and crimp foil to seal in heat.
  4. in 10 min, open foil and peel off skins of pepper.
  5. use what you need and freeze the rest

now back to my recipe.


  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1.5 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, diced finely
  • 1/2 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • crumbled feta


  1. toast quinoa in a large saute pan ~ 2 min
  2. add 1 cup chicken broth, stir and cover and cook over medium high heat, then once most of the liquid has been absorbed, add another half cup of stock + juice from canned tomato. continue to cook until liquid is mostly absorbed.
  3. drain liquid from chickpeas and add chickpeas to quinoa.
  4. mix in 1/2 can tomatoes and diced bell peppers.
  5. stir and cook until chickpeas heated through.
  6. mix in oregano + parsley.
  7. remove from heat and stir in feta. (feta = salty. wont need to otherwise salt quinoa)
  8. serve warm or cold, as a side or alone.

February 25, 2011

more CHEESE, please.

Ile de France: Camembert – not my favorite brand of camembert… a bit firmer than what i’ve had before. their brie is better.

Don Juan: Manchego – mm… nutty, zesty flavor. hard but not dry. i could eat this stuff plain.

Delice de Bourgogne – exponentially better at room temperature.. kind of crumbly when cold, otherwise incredibly buttery. triple cream, super rich, medium bold pungency.

February 22, 2011

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash

ate this two days in a row for lunch! served with a poached egg and a Gardenburger veggie patty. my attempt at being healthy after a week of pork chops and puff pastry…

inspired by this recipe (:


  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • optional: tony chachere’s creole spice to kick it up a notch


  1. preheat oven 375F
  2. mix spices in a asmall ramekin.
  3. dice sweet potato finely and shake & bake: in a ziplock bag, toss potatoes in half the spices and a tsp olive oil. then bake ~15-20 min. or until just fork tender.
  4. in a saute pan, heat a bit of oil and saute onions and bell peppers ~ 3-5 min. add rest of spices and tony chachere’s if you want more flavor.
  5. add potatoes and spinach and saute until just wilted. salt to taste.
  6. serve with poached egg + veggie burger patty, or as a side for grilled salmon
February 17, 2011

Chicken Curry Pot Pie

i wonder how many people have this problem: i look in my fridge, find some left over chicken, half a can of diced tomatoes, an opened can of coconut milk that i’ve yet to finish, and think “yea, i can throw this all together and make something of it..” so i start brainstorming recipes and end up with yet another shopping list, buy all the crap on this shoppping list, then have more leftovers than i started out with that i now have to deal with for the rest of the week.

it’s a never ending cycle.

a cycle that perhaps i don’t mind so much continuing.

on a side note, ive been meaning to do something with puff pastry lately. i figured that i might as well throw that in to the mix today. here’s a nice little guide that i found online.

oh and as a suggestion from a classmate of mine (that i recently found out is a fellow foodie), you MUST check out Chef’s Illustrated. i am very tempted to subscribe… my policy has always been to subscribe to fitness magazines only, and if i want to read about food, i have to go online and work to find material. but let’s be honest. i only ever read the recipes section of these fitness magazines anyway.


  • 1/4 can coconut milk
  • ~<1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • ~<1 can chicken broth
  • 1 tbs cornstarch (you want a STEWY not a SOUPY pot pie)
  • 2 large or 3 small boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1-2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 package frozen vegetables ~450g*
  • butter
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 package of puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)

*i used HEB Mediterranean Mix: green beans, carrots, zucchini, red bell pepper, cauliflower…

dont you just want to rip off a corner..? and stuff it into your mouth like a starving chimpanzee?

just kidding. who am i to say chimpanzees dont have proper table manners.


  • preheat oven 400F
  • toss veggies in a bit of vegetable oil and roast in oven until golden brown. ~30 min.
  • coat chicken in 1 tsp curry powder. heat 1 tsp vegetable oil in a 3.5 qt dutch oven. brown chicken evenly on medium high heat. remove and set aside.
  • add a tsp butter and saute onions until just soft ~2-3 min.
  • add 1 tsp more of curry powder, parsley, and ~ 1 tsp salt
  • add tomatoes and half a can of chicken broth. bring to a low boil. reduce heat to simmer.
  • in a separate bowl, dissolve corn starch in 2-3 tbs cold chicken broth. introduce into pot.
  • add chicken, veggies, and coconut milk. simmer until soup thickens. ~10 min. (i always try to add coconut milk last. dont want it to overheat and curdle, especially if i’m using frozen left over coconut milk.)
  • salt to taste.
  • spoon into baking vessel (be it large ramekins, deep 9 inch pie dish, etc. i used a meatloaf pyrex pan. thank you, Denise!)
  • as per packaging instructions*, apply egg wash and crimp down puff pastry over baking dish. bake on 375F ~ 30 min or until golden brown.

*according to pepperridge farm, thaw the puff pastry for 40min. (i kept it in the fridge for an hour or two. houston is too hot and humid for counter thawing. remember that it’s the frozen chunks of butter melting and steaming that cause the pastry to puff up when baked. you dont want that butter melting before it goes into the oven). add a dab of water to creases and with a rolling pin over a lightly floured surface, smooth them out. then top baking vessel with pastry and crimp down edges. apply a optional egg+water wash on the top side for a nice browning effect, then bake. make sure to rotate periodically if your oven convection isn’t so great. like mine. also, i found that too high of a temp browned the pastry too soon. before it had time to rise completely. so avoid 400F…

February 17, 2011

Cheesy Salsa Baked Eggs

quick breakfast that i made for R this…afternoon. at 3pm. yes. breakfast.

you like my new Rachel Ray ramekins?

adapted from this wonderful site.  i’ve been saving this recipe for months. i just never have salsa around the house. lo and behold, R comes to h-town and my pantry is now full of all sorts of crap i never allow myself to buy: chips, candy, sugary beverages, ice cream, and yes, salsa. so who better to make this for than the procurer of the ingredients?

let’s keep it short and simple:

  1. preheat oven to 350F
  2. butter and toast bread
  3. spoon several tbs of salsa into a ramekin (these are 10 oz)
  4. crack in one egg
  5. bake 15-20 min.
  6. top with cheese (i used a shredded mexican blend. just what i happened to have on hand.)
  7. bake additional ~5 min or until cheese melts.
  8. top with cilantro and serve!

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February 16, 2011

Panko Crusted Pork Chops with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

ok. it’s store bought sauce. (Roberts Reserve). i feel like i’m taking more lazy shortcuts these days. i consoled myself by saying it’s ok! it’s test week! you dont have time to make everything from scratch but that doens’t mean you should skimp on flavor!

unfortunately R’s favorite part of the meal was the sauce. “did you make this sauce?! it’s really good.” and while i agree, it’s kind of hard to follow that up with “yea. no. i bought it. just kidding. i am amazing. no really. i bought it.”

which is exactly what i said.

no real recipe:

  1. pounded chops to tenderize then coated in a layer of the magic sauce.
  2. let it sit in the fridge for a few hours (not intentional. so dont know if this is paramount to flavor inFUSIon).
  3. dredged in a mix of cornstarch and panko
  4. pan fried and finished in the oven
  5. topped with more sauce
  6. served with roasted herb potatoes and shallot butter haricot verts, blanched then sauteed in pork fat. yum.

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February 14, 2011

Brazilian Shrimp Stew

super fast. super easy. super GOOD.

and how do i make myself feel better about spending valentine’s day studying?

well how do i make myself feel better about ANYThing…

it’s all the sugar and spice i need in my life, really. (that sounds more pathetic than i intended.)

speaking of sugar and spice, i love the coconut-y sweetness and the spicy kick of chili and poblano in this recipe. LOVE it.

adapted from food and wine


  • 1 medium small poblano chili
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic.
  • 3/4 lb shrimp (i like shells on. imparts more flavor into the stew)
  • 3/4 cup hulled barley, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (freeze the rest! it’s ok. i promise.)
  • 1-2 cups beef broth*
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • cilantro
  • juice from 1/2 lime

* or fish stock, chicken broth…what have you. i just happened to have left over beef broth. i do want to try adding some clam juice in the future.


  1. roast poblano a few min each side until skin blisters. (on a grill, in the broiler/broil setting of your toaster oven, however you like.) peel off skin and dice.
  2. in a 3.5 qt dutch oven, saute onion in a pat of butter over medium high heat until just soft. ~3 min.
  3. add poblanos and garlic. saute ~ 2 min.
  4. add barley and toast 1 min.
  5. add tomatoes and cook until barley softens.
  6. add broth. bring to a low boil.
  7. reduce heat. add coconut milk+ lime juice . salt to taste. (optional: i rinse out my coconut milk can with about 1/2 can of water)
  8. bring to a simmer. add shrimp. cover for ~ 3-5 min until cooked through.
  9. top with cilantro and serve.

February 13, 2011

Sausage and White Bean “Cassoulet” w/ a Garlic Parmesan Gratin

mmmm… beans… i wanted something thick and hearty to fill my belly while i studied for exams. i needed the study break anyhow.

oh and interesting piece of knowledge that i gathered from researching beans (i research everything i make. i am a nerd). beans, although relatively high in carbs, is also really high in fiber (as i’m sure we’ve all experienced). and because fiber isn’t digested/absorbed by our systems, the “net carbs” in beans is actually much lower. or something to that effect. just look it up. i have enough to study as is.

anyway, all i know is that with a relatively small portion of beans, i feel fuller much faster and for much longer. a small cup is enough to satisfy me in the mornings for several hours until lunch time. also good night time snack as brain food. slow release of glucose etc etc…

so bring on the BEANS.

PS: Have you ever tried the Venison and White Bean Cassoulet from Brennan’s? amazing.

adapted from yet another amazing Epicurious recipe.


  • 4 links of Italian sausage. (I used Field Roast vegan sausages. ~12oz)
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 medium large onion, diced. (~ 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs dried parsley
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • optional: 1/4 cup scallions
  • 1 can diced tomatoes including (most of) the juice
  • 2 cans white beans (1 cannellini, 1 navy)

For topping:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 slices stale white bread, crusts discarded, diced finely.
  • ~1/2 cup panko bread crumbs.
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • grated parmesan


  1. heat dutch oven on medium. add 1 tbs vegetable oil and cook sausages (these are wrapped in plastic…please remove..), breaking them up with a flat spatula/wooden spoon as you cook. remove from heat and set aside.
  2. since these sausages aren’t quite as greasy as real pork sausages, you may need a bit more oil. saute onions and garlic until just soft ~5 min. mix in herbs then salt generously.
  3. add tomatoes and bring to a low boil on medium heat.
  4. reduce heat and add sausages back in, including 2 cans of beans. cook on medium heat until heated through.
  5. in a separate pan, heat oil. saute bread (i toasted them first ’cause they weren’t quite stale enough.) until golden. add garlic. remove from heat and mix with panko + parsley and a pinch of salt.
  6. remove bean mixture into cassarole dish. top with bread crumbs.
  7. grate cheese generously over top.
  8. pop in oven on high broil until golden crust forms.
  9. serve as side, entre, or straight out of the dish standing at the stove (:

i love the thick and creamy texture of “bean cassoulets”.  it’s so satisfyingly rich. plus i can always convince myself it’s healthy by using meat substitute sausages.

and why do i keep using quotation marks when i use cassoulet? wiki it. something about duck fat.

note to self: work on this crumb topping business. i need to chop the bread up finer. i’m also not sure how much oil i need when i “saute” said bread. sounds silly to me. perhaps i dont completely grasp the concept of sauteing bread yet. i think it just adds unnecessary oil into the recipe. perhaps i’ll stick to just toasting it in the future. or just use panko.

February 7, 2011

Bo’ Kho – Vietnamese Beef Stew

adapted from

no good pictures ): decided to go to a last min superbowl gathering and had nothing to bring but my stew. so i didn’t get pics in time.

oh well.

we had two vietnamese friends at the gathering and they ate it (and liKED it!). so i’m guessing that’s a good sign. will make again.

and take pictures.


  • 2 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into cubes
  • 1-2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3 large diagonal pieces (exposes more surface area)
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 medium large onion, diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1 lb carrot, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp flour/corn starch


  • marinate beef ~ 30 min in ginger, fish sauce, brown sugar, five spice, lemon grass.
  • preheat oven 270F
  • chop veggies. (i like chunky stew.)
  • heat 1-2 tbs vegetable oil in 5 qt dutch oven on high. brown beef on all sides quickly ~ 2 min.
  • remove beef into separate bowl and set aside.
  • add a pat of butter (optional) and saute onions until soft ~5 min.
  • add tomatoes. saute ~ 3 min.
  • add a dash of broth and deglaze.
  • add rest of broth and bring to a boil. reduce heat to simmer. add beef and mix.
  • cover and place in oven ~ 1hr.
  • add carrots, return to oven ~1.5 hr
  • remove from oven. strain out beef etc into separate bowl.
  • over medium high heat, mix in starch (i spoon in broth into a separate small bowl containing starch and mix thoroughly before reintroducing it into the pot.). keep on a high simmer/low boil for ~5 min until soup thickens and reduces some.
  • reintroduce solids.
  • simmer on low until ready to serve.
  • serve with toasted crusty french bread!

edit: probably no news to anyone who’s ever made a stew before (including myself), but dAMN. i just have to reiterate how much better this stuff tasted the next day. that’s when it truly takes on it’s stew-y consistency.

i’ll almost put up with this atrocious weather (20’s?? in hOUSTON?) just so i have a reason to make more stew.

February 5, 2011

Tex Mex Stuffed Peppers + Avocado Lime Sauce

this chica has got some great stuff on her blog. –> natalie’s killer cuisine


  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 corn (fresh. frozen gets soggy.)
  • 1/2 cup sauted onions
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (i used some sort of premixed mexican blend)
  • 1/3 cup low fat sour cream
  • ~ 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper


  • 1 medium avocado, ripe
  • 2 small limes
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • salt
  • milk


  • preheat oven to 375F
  • wash quinoa. simmer in small pot w 1 cup chicken stock ~ 20 min until soft and fluffy. (i always abide by the 1:2 :: quinoa: liquid ratio).
  • saute onions until just soft (~3 min). set aside.
  • cut tops off peppers, cleaning out the insides and seeds.
  • blanch peppers in boiling water (enough to submerge completely) for ~ 2-3 min. remove, drain, and set on aluminum wrapped baking pan.
  • in a large bowl, mix corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, sour cream, and cheese. salt to taste.
  • spoon into peppers and bake 30 min.
  • serve w/ avocado lime cream sauce.


  1. combine avocados (diced), lime juice, sour cream, and about 1 tsp salt in a blender.
  2. pulse until smooth, adding milk until to create a thinner consistency (~4 tbs)
  3. spoon into a small plastic sandwich bag and push the cream into one corner.
  4. snip corner and squeeze over serving plates. (this was fun.)

EDIT: 9/24/2011 Stuffed Peppers Take 2 

What did I do differently? I drained the canned beans really well, and actually cooked it and the corn a little over the stove before mixing it in with the quinoa. Less soggy. (: