Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Berry Blender Sorbet

Given the record-breaking heat yesterday, it turns out I was correct in wishing for more summer days. A cool, summer, refreshing treat seems in order. Also, my sister is doing this 8-weeks-to-a-better-you challenge, so I thought I'd give her something that is sweet, but completely natural and healthy.


2 cups frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries are all great)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice


In a blender, mix all ingredients until smooth (or slightly chunky, if you prefer). Given the absence of liquid, this will likely require the use of a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and multiple pulses of the blender, but be patient, it will pay off. 

If you're really having a hard time getting your ingredients to blend, add a little bit of water or milk. 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Peach Cobbler

(Since we got back from Hawaii, I haven't been able to find my camera charger, thus iPhone pictures have replaced Canon Powershot pictures for the last three months. Please excuse the fuzzy blurriness...hopefully the charger will show up soon.) 

I have searched for a couple peach cobbler recipes, but nothing struck me as "the one" until I found this. Cornmeal biscuit topping? Yes, please. What else but cornmeal could be better with peaches? While I love the light, fresh, shortbread taste of my blueberry cobbler, I equally love the comfortable, home-y, and savory cornmeal taste of this peach cobbler.

Oh, and yes, I'm aware that today is the first day of autumn and peaches are a summer fruit. But you can always hope for some summer roll-over. The weather forecast for this weekend is in the 80s!

*Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


(for the fruit):

6-8 peaches, pitted and cut into slices*
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

(for the biscuit topping):

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground cornmeal (yellow or white)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk**


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss peached with sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt in the bottom of a 2-quart ovenproof dish.

Make the biscuit dough. Stir together the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry mixture with your fingertips (or a pastry blender, if you have one--I don't). Stir in buttermilk with a rubber spatula until a wet, tacky dough comes together. 

Plop spoonfuls of the biscuit dough over the filling. Bake until the cobbler's syrup is bubbly and the biscuit tops are browned, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly and scoop into bowls. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

*Here is an easy way to peel peaches: Cut a small "x" in the bottom of each peach. Dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds and remove with a slotted spoon. The skins will slide off.

**Don't have buttermilk in your house? Me neither. As a substitute, place one Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a one-cup measuring cup. Fill to the one cup line with milk and let stand for five minutes. Apparently this creates the "tang" that is found in buttermilk. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blue Ribbon Lasagna

While I am not Italian, this recipe is a family-favorite dish. It has been shared, devoured, and enjoyed by many a visitor in my childhood home. The sauce. is. amazing. It would be great served with any type of pasta, in my opinion, but also combines perfectly with the cheesy, saucy, pasta-y layered perfection that is lasagna. This dish isn't labeled Blue Ribbon for nothing!


1-1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons oregano
2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
2 Tablespoons basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
9 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 pint (2 cups) cottage cheese
2 eggs
2 cups monterey jack cheese, grated
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated


Brown beef. Add onions and cook until they are transparent. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, bay leaves, oregano, parsley, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours, until sauce is thickened. 

While sauce is simmering, cook noodles. Drain and let dry. 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. When sauce is ready, begin assembly of the dish. Mix cottage cheese and eggs together. In a 9x13 inch pan layer cooked noodles, meat sauce, cottage cheese mixture, jack and mozzarella cheeses. Repeat layers three times. 

Bake for 45 minutes and enjoy!  

Sunday, September 12, 2010


As the second installment of Jersey Shore-inspired Italian meals, I present Gnocchi (pronounced "nyocki"). The first time I ever tasted and heard of gnocchi was at a dinner that was used to get me out of the house for a surprise 17th birthday party. The location was Italy's Little Kitchen and I remember thinking, "Oh, Gnocchi! Where have you been all my life?" Having grown up with an express love for mashed potatoes and fettuccine alfredo, I thought, "You mean to tell me that I can have potatoes and pasta in one dish?!" Haha.. Now that I am more well-versed in nutrition, I realize this seems a little carb-crazy, but all things are good in moderation. And some things, like this, are really good.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


2 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke potatoes all over with a fork and bake on a baking sheet for 45 minutes to one hour, until potatoes are fork-tender. For best results, turn potatoes over halfway through baking. Let potatoes cool slightly. (It helps to let cool in the freezer for a few minutes if you're impatient, like me.)

Peel the potatoes, then grate them using the large holes of a grater into a large bowl. Add lightly beaten egg and salt to the grated potatoes and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Add the flour to the potatoes, a little at a time, using only enough so that the dough will not stick to your hands. Once the flour has been incorporated, bring the dough together and dump onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough, as you would bread dough, for about 3-4 minutes. 

Form the dough into a ball, and then portion it out into six smaller balls. On a floured surface, use your fingers to roll one of the six dough balls into a 3/4-inch wide rope. Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces. 

You can cook the gnocchi as it is now, but traditional gnocchi has ridges. You can create these by pressing each piece of dough on the tines of a fork and then rolling it off and forming a cylinder shape. It helps to dip the fork into flour in between each formation to avoid sticking.  

To cook the gnocchi, place each dough piece into a pot of boiling and well-salted water. After a few minutes, the gnocchi will float to the top. Let cook one more minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

Serve with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese and enjoy. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chicken Parmesan with Marinara

Call me crazy, but I've been receiving a lot of cooking inspiration lately from Jersey Shore. Ronnie, Pauly D, Mike, Snookie, JWoww, they are hilarious and have an amazing talent for memorable one-liners, but they're also young and immature. In spite of this, their mothers seem to have succeeded in instilling a sense of family togetherness that is seen vividly at the kitchen table. They seem to just knock out these five-entree dinners complete with garlic knots, homemade sauces, and (haha) Gatorade! 

While, I don't have secret family recipes for amazing sauces or (always) the appetite to chow down such weighty, heavy meals, I do share a love of food as a way to bring people together. My next couple posts will include some efforts to become more Italian with some hearty, delicious, tomato and mozzarella-filled dishes.

*Recipe from Jill Parker, as told to me by Suzette


3 thinly sliced chicken breasts (about 1/2 inch thick)
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 cups marinara sauce (I used Prego, but you could also use this)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or 3 big slices)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
8 oz. spaghetti noodles, cooked


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

Dip chicken in melted butter, then generously coat both sides with bread crumbs. Lay chicken flat in baking dish. Cover with marinara sauce, followed by mozzarella cheese, and then parmesan cheese. 

Bake in oven for 45 min. to an hour, until chicken is fully cooked. 

Serve with spaghetti noodles and garlic bread. 


Friday, September 3, 2010

Guacamole and Homemade Tortilla Chips

Happy Labor Day weekend!
(and the start of college football season)

Is there any better snack than fresh guacamole and chips? I submit that there is not. After stocking up on avocados on our bi-weekly grocery trip, I purposely made a point to buy tortilla chips, knowing I would be making guacamole. By Tuesday, the chips were gone, having been devoured with their other lovely friend, salsa. I still had six avocados, but no chips. Thus, my creative mind got to work and I decided to make my own baked tortilla chips--super delicious!

GUACAMOLE -- this isn't really a recipe, just a guideline. Guacamole should be made however you like it. 


3 avocados, pitted and peeled
1/4 onion, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
handful of cilantro
salt and pepper to taste


Using a large bowl and fork (or pastry blender, if you have it--I don't but wish I did) mash the avocados. Don't worry about leaving some chunks. Add onion, lime juice, cilantro and salt & pepper to taste. Feel free to adjust ingredient amounts to however your mouth desires. 



5 tortillas
cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

Cover two baking sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray. Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into several "chip-shaped" sections. Arrange cut tortillas on two baking sheets so that none of them overlap. Spray with more cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, until chips are browned and crispy.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chickpea Salad with Fresh Herbs, Tomatoes, and Carrots

(photo by Bradford Fishback)

I seem to come up with my favorite creations when I only have about five minutes to plan and thirty minutes to cook. This mediterranean-inspired dish is light, but filling at the same time. Also, it's a great use of fresh herbs! (Something I've been aiming to use more of lately.)

UPDATE (09.08.10): When I first made this, I was in a very garlicky mood apparently so I threw in five cloves of garlic. After eating this again as leftovers, I have realized that five cloves is far too much and I've changed the amount to two cloves of garlic.


1 can chick peas, drained
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut in half and then quartered
2 carrots, peeled, quartered, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1 big handful parsley, finely chopped
1 big handful cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice


In a large pan, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. When oil is glossy, add onions and garlic and cook until onions are transparent, about 2-3 minutes. 

Add carrots, cover with a lid and cook for about five minutes until carrots are just tender (but still with a bit of crunch). 

Add chick peas and cook for another five minutes. 

Next, stir in tomatoes, parsley and cilantro. Let all ingredients meld together for a few minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve with a lemon wedge, or sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving. 


Cheese Toast and Yogurt with Cucumbers: Place a piece of gouda cheese on slices of bread and toast in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Serve salad on top of the toast and use the toast to help scoop up juices from the salad. 

You may also include a side of plain yogurt with diced and skinned cucumbers...a true Mediterranean staple. Maybe someday, I'll make tzatziki