29 December 2007

Lola's Christmas Eggs

Over Christmas in the Rocky Mountains this year my sister got up each morning and made her favorite breakfast treat: Rice & Eggs with cheese. Her daily breakfast was so beautiful and unique I HAD to include it in the blog.
This dish is best, I think, with an over-easy egg. With a soft yolk can mix the golden goodness in with the rice and melted cheese. Not to mention the fact that it's the perfect breakfast to fuel a day of winter sports!

Serves 1-2

2 cups water
1 cups uncooked rice
olive oil
1 egg
1-2 T shredded cheese
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Bring 2 cups water to a bowl. Add one cup uncooked rice of your
choice, a glug of olive oil, and a few shakes of sea salt. Bring back
to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until most of the
water is gone, let sit for a few minutes. While its sitting, make an
over-easy or fried egg.

Serve rice in a bowl with a sprinkle of shredded cheese on top. Lay
fried egg on top and finish with plenty of salt and pepper.

Thats the 'recipe' form of my delicious rice and eggs, yum yum, I
think I'll make rice right now. :)

04 November 2007

Black Bean & Sausage Soup

After our baby shower last weekend Jeff and I took Mom and Dad to one of our closest and tastiest local restaurants, Cafe Brazil. It's an amazing little restaurant that serves authentic Brazilian (surprise!) food like prawns in a coconut, lime, and ginger sauce; or our favorite, "grilled Manchego cheese with garlic pesto"! Usually their black bean soup is quite tasty but this time it seemed watery and less flavorful...a big disappointment. The next day I was really craving a good, rich black bean soup for dinner, much like the one we always used to get at "The Grill" in Peoria.
After researching a bunch of different basic recipes that either seemed to unhealthy or too boring, I decided to just create my own!

Black Bean & Sausage Soup
(w/ Kale and Sweet Potato)

2 T olive oil
1 lb. turkey kielbasa, sliced
1 large (or 2 med.) leek, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, diced
3 stalks celery (with leaves), diced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 sweet potato, medium dice
2 large handfuls chopped kale
32. oz low sodium beef stock
4 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup dry sherry
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 T minced fresh parsley
1 T fresh thyme leaves

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large dutch oven over med high heat. Add
sliced kielbasa and brown evenly. Remove kielbasa from pan and set
aside. Add 1 T olive to pan and saute leek, carrot and celery until
translucent. Stir in minced garlic and saute 1-2 minutes longer to
release fragrance. Deglaze pan with wine and sherry. Stir in stock,
kielbasa, beans, sweet potatoes, chopped kale, cayenne, dried thyme,
bay leaf, fresh thyme and parsley. Stir in 1-2 cups water, if
necessary, to entirely cover beans and sausage. Bring to a boil and
immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer on low for at least
one hour or more if possible to develop flavor to to thicken soup. Salt and pepper to
taste, if necessary.
Serve with sour cream and Tabasco OR a splash of sherry and a sprinkle
of fresh thyme if desired.

TIP: Kielbasa has quite a bit of salt already. It's a good idea to wait until the soup has cooked for at least 30 min. before you taste it and add more salt!

14 October 2007

Pumpkin for Breakfast...

Now that it's October I've been dying for a thick slice of sweet pumpkin bread for breakfast. In an effort to make this worthy of a healthy breakfast I've added some ground flaxseed and reduced the oil. It's not quite as sweet and pumpkiny as a really traditional pumpkin bread but it's delicious toasted with a little cream cheese!

Pumpkin-Flax Breakfast Bread

1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup *applesauce
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each nutmeg, cloves
pinch ground ginger
1/2 cup each raisin and chopped pecans, if desired

*You can use a full 1/2 cup canola oil instead of half oil/half
applesauce if you'd rather.
YIELD: One regular loaf or 12 standard muffins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease one loaf pan (or 12
standard muffin cups).
In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, applesauce, flaxseed,
sugars and eggs until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together
remaining ingredients, including raisins and nuts if you are using
them. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until
everything is incorporated. Do not overstir.
Spread batter into greased loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until
toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

After loaf has cooled completely, store tightly wrapped or in an airtight container.
This tastes even better the next day!

24 July 2007

"To Hot To Cook" White Bean Salad

With the temp hitting 90 and above ALL week and no A/C in our house I'm on a cooking strike. Everything we eat this week must meet at least one of two requirements: (1) It must taste good grilled, AND/OR (2) It must taste good without having to be cooked at all! Since Jeff can only stomach so many salads and grilled vegetables I created this marinated white bean salad as starchy alternative for pasta on the stove or french fries in the oven.

Note: All measurements are approximate. Add a little more or less of each ingredient to meet your tastes!
Yield: 4-6 servings

3 cloves minced garlic
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1-2 T white wine vinegar
approx. 1/4 cup plus 1 T olive oil
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
Tiny pinch of sugar
Salt & fresh ground pepper (to taste)
Dash of Tabasco
3 roma tomatoes (seeded), diced
2 cans Navy Beans (any white bean will do), drained and rinse well

Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste. Toss in white beans and diced tomatoes. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.

This would also be yummy served on some toasted french bread as a "white bean bruschetta"!

30 June 2007

Grilled Pizza with Fig Jam, Goat Cheese and Proscuitto

I developed this recipe after reading about a similar dish in a book by Jennifer Weiner. I served it at my first "Nestie" cooking club and it was such a hit. After eating it earlier in the week I couldn't stop craving it so I made it again for Jeff and I later that week!

Pizza Dough for medium pizza
3-4 T Fig Jam (I used Stonewall Kitchen's Fig & Walnut Butter)
2-3 oz. fresh chevre, crumbled (Haystack Mtn. Boulder chevre)
4 slices proscuitto

Preheat grill on high heat.
Stretch pizza dough into a long, narrow rectangle to fit on grill. Dough should be thin. Lightly brush one side with olive oil.
Carefully lay oiled side of dough on hot grill and immediately reduce heat to med. Cover and "Bake" for 2-4 minutes, or until you dough is not sticking anymore and you see nice grill marks on the bottom. This will be your top crust. Turn dough over and bake for 2-3 more minutes or until barely browned. This will be your bottom crust.

Remove dough from grill and cool slightly while you grill proscuitto.

To grill proscuitto, increase heat to med-high and carefully place each piece onto the grill. Proscuitto is done when toasted and crispy, like bacon. Remove from grill and chop into 2 inch pieces.

To top pizza, spread a thin layer of fig jam over the "top crust" side of the dough. Evenly distribute proscuitto pieces across jam and top with crumbled chevre.

Return pizza to med-high heat grill. Cover, turn off heat and let bake until cheese is warm and bottom crust is golden brown.

To finish pizza, brush olive oil on crust if desired, cut into long slices and serve.

10 January 2007


This year was a *last* Christmas of sorts...or at least our last Christmas in the moderately-sized Midwestern city in which I grew up. Officially my parents still live there in the home where I spent my formative years: a gorgeous brick home surrounded by giant trees and quiet streets. But in a few months that home will be empty and no longer ours, when my parents pack up and move south. While I haven't lived in that home for years, and neither have either of my siblings, to us Christmas morning "at home" means curling up by the fireplace in THAT house, wearing brand new pajamas and diving into a mug of thick cocoa and a plate warm, homemade cinnamon rolls. Next year it might feel strange to celebrate Christmas "at home" in a new house, in a new town and enjoying a very new climate. But I'm pretty sure once we tuck into a plate of these cinnamon rolls, together, on Christmas morning, we'll know that we are, in fact, still "home."

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls
*begin preparing on Christmas Eve

2 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups scalded milk, cooled to lukewarm
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1 egg
6 1/2-7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

6 T butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
6 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 T milk (or enough to make icing smooth)
1 tsp. real vanilla
*double recipe to ice both pans of rolls

Make Rolls:
Dissolve (well) yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in milk, 1/3 cup sugar, oil, baking powder, salt, egg and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make dough easy to handle (not too sticky).
Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes.
Place in large greased bowl; turn over so greased side is up. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hrs. (Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.)

Punch down dough; divide in half.
Roll 1 half into rectangle, 12x10 in. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl. Spread rectangle with 3 T softened butter. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Roll up, beginning with long side and pinch edge firmly to seal. Stretch roll to make even. Cut into 12 1-in slices and place slightly apart in greased 13x9x2 in. pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling ingredients.
Refrigerate at least 12 hrs. and no longer than 48 hrs.

To Bake:
Heat oven to 350˙. Remove foil from pans and bake until golden, 30-35 minutes.

Mix powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth, adding more milk if necessary. Drizzle over WARM rolls.

Yield: 2 dozen rolls