Monday, May 31, 2010

Scrumptious Sides for Summer: Escalivada

Happy Memorial Day all you pretty little modern housewives. This weekend means summer is finally upon us. One of my fave things about summer is fresh veggies and farmer's markets! My mama is in town visiting and we've had a fabulous weekend. We kicked it off with a trip to the ever famous farmer's market at the Ferry Building in SF where we found all kinds of delicious treats to compliment my Quail with Truffle Yaki Sauce which I made for dinner Saturday night. Apparently my mama was sick of just reading about all my fancy dinners and wanted to take part in one herself. She did and I think she was pretty darn pleased!

While perusing the farmer's market I got the idea to make Escalivada, a side dish I've made once before full of fresh yummy veggies, garlic, and herbs. This dish is incredibly simple and is made up of no more than chopping the veggies; tossing with vinegar and olive oil; roasting in the oven till tender; and finally tossing with the fresh herbs. The dish can also be grilled, which makes it even more perfect for summer!


1 globe eggplant, cut into large chunks (about 8 pieces)
3 bell peppers, assorted colors, quartered
2 heads garlic, broken into cloves but not peeled
2 zucchini, cut in half and into large chunks
2 yellow squash, cut in half and into large chunks
1 large red onion, cut into about 6 pieces
3 tomatoes, halved crosswise and quartered
a pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
dash of sherry or wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all vegetables in a large roasting pan. Add all garlic cloves, reserving 2, to pan. Sprinkle veggies with sugar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with oil and vinegar and toss all ingredients until well coated.

Roast veggies turning once or twice so they don't burn or cook unevenly 30-40 minutes. Avoid turning too often as you don't want veggies to get mushy. You want them to hold their shape.

When veggies are tender remove from oven. Peel and finely chop the reserved garlic cloves and sprinkle over veggies, along with the parsley and rosemary. If serving bread with the meal, the whole roasted garlic cloves can be squeezed and spread onto the bread. Or feel free to squeeze some of the roasted garlic onto the veggie mixture after roasting.

Modern Housewife Tips:
1. Makes about 4-6 large servings so I typically cut it in half.
2. Try a dash of champagne vinegar in place of the wine or sherry vinegar. The taste is a bit milder so it doesn't overwhelm the veggies.
3. Be sure to watch the veggies while cooking as both times I've made this dish it's taken less than the the 40 minutes the recipe suggests. You don't want the vegetables to break down and be mushy.

photo and recipe adapted from The Williams Sonoma Cookbook 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Porkalicious... I'm so delicious!: Honey Glazed Pork with Spinach

Ttttasty, Tastaaaay! For those of you that don't know, that's a little tribute to the incredible Fergalicious! Enough of that though... onto the pork!

While spending a lovely day with a dear friend this past weekend, I realized I have yet to share with all of you a recipe for my first love and a great inspiration- pork! I love love love pork. Gimme some pork belly, a nice thick slice of bacon, even a tenderloin or chop and I'm a happy lady.

I recently came across this dish from Miss Martha and have added it to my list of weeknight recipes for those nights that I feel like pouring a glass of wine and spending a little time in the kitchen to make something a little more special. It'd be a great date night in dish, if your looking to spend more time snuggling on the couch than cooking. It is also one to impress so it'd be great for the in-laws or any house guests.  It doesn't take long and the glaze adds so much perfect flavor to the meat.

Honey Glazed Pork with Wilted Spinach

2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp honey
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp plus 4 tsp olive oil
1 3/4 lbs pork tenderloin
3/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 lb spinach

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make glaze in a small bowl: whisk together 1 tsp mustard, 2 tbsp vinegar, 2 tbsp honey, garlic, rosemary, 2 tsp oil.

Place tenderloins in a shallow baking dish. Pour glaze over pork, turning to coat evenly. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Roast in oven, spooning glaze over pork occasionally, 30-35 minutes. Remove pork from oven and let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make vinaigrette in a small bowl by combining remaining 2 tbsp honey, 1 1/2 tbsp vinegar, and 1 tsp mustard. Whisk until honey is dissolved. Slowly whisk in 1 tbsp oil until emulsified. If desired, whisk in any accumulated pan juices from pork.

Heat remaining 2 tsp oil in a large skillet. Add spinach and a small splash of water. Saute until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.  Add vinaigrette and remaining 1/4 tsp salt to pan, stirring just to coat spinach. Remove from heat and divide among plates. Slice pork into about 1 inch thick medallions and serve with spinach.

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Date Night In: Crab Cakes with Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

It's been another fab weekend here in Marin. I had a beautiful day today with two of my fave ladies touring around some of the many cute sights, shops, and a one-man's-junk-is-quite-a-few-San Franciscan's-treasures flea market. Look for today's highlights on many daily deliciousness photos to come.

My greatest accomplishment of this weekend though, was the dinner I prepared last night for the hubs and my date night in- Crab Cakes with Garlic Roasted Mushrooms. I've made crab cakes once before and they turned out ok, but this time I tried a new recipe found in our Cakebread Cellars cookbook and they were absolutely delish. These crab cakes are full of what crab cakes should be full of - CRAB! - with just enough of the other goodies to keep them in beautiful cake form.

The side dish of Garlic Roasted Mushrooms was inspired by the meal we were served when tasting with the caterers for our wedding (who were absolutely fab- if you get married in the Sonoma/Napa area you have to check out Grapevine Catering!). The hubs and I didn't like mushrooms until we had these and now we are diehard mushroom lovers.

Crab Cakes

1 pound crabmeat, picked over for shells and squeezed to remove excess liquid
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 stalk celery, finely minced
1 green onion, finely minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
2 eggs, separated
extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Combine crab meant, bread crumbs, celery, green onion, mayo, lemon juice, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and egg yolks in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the crab mixture. Shape about 1/3 cup of crab mixture into 2 inch wide patty. Repeat with rest of mixture.

Add enough olive oil to fill a large nonstick skillet 1/4 inch deep. Heat over medium high heat. Add crab cakes in a single layer and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Arrange on a serving platter and serve with lemon wedges.

Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

1/2 pound oyster mushrooms
1 tsp crushed garlic
olive oil, enough to coat mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss mushrooms with garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Roast on baking sheet 15 minutes.

Modern Housewife Tips:
1. Serves 4-6
2. Panko can be substitued for the fresh breadcrumbs which is a big time saver since the breadcrumbs should cook on very low heat in the oven for many hours, up to overnight.
3. Olive oil is kinda pricey so I used less oil and just made the patties thinner- 1 inch wide. I coated a large pan with 1/8 inch of oil, which equals about 1 cup.

recipe from The Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cookbook

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Warm Fuzzies for Breakfast: Quiche Lorraine Au Fromage

This recipe is one of my faves and stemmed from my mom and some new family traditions. My parents are divorced so I have the joy of spending quality time, one on one, with both of my parents on holidays. I have one amazing brother, who has an even more amazing soon to be wifey, but they have a whole lot of activities to take part in Christmas day, so Christmas morning its just me and my mom.

A couple of years ago, my mom made this delicious quiche for our Christmas morning breakfast and it only made our little tradition that much more special. I've made it a few times for pot lucks and I often get rave reviews, but the best thing about taking that first bite is the warm fuzzy reminder of spending Christmas morning with my mama.

Quiche Lorraine Au Fromage

1 9 inch store bought pie shell
1 cup grated Swiss or 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
4-6 slices cooked bacon
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk or 1 1/2 cup light cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper or white pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter cut up into small squares

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese and bacon in pie shell. Lightly beat eggs and milk. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and pour into pie shell. Distribute butter squares over top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.

photo by Dorling Kindersley
recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Deliciously Simple Weeknight Meals: Asian Steak Salad

The hubs recently said to me, "we should eat healthier". I have to say I was kind of surprised because we eat pretty healthy. But I think what he meant (I'm still working on deciphering the language of the hubs- I'll get it in time) was that he wants more salad. Being that I know my hubs very well, I know by salad he meant, "gimme salad, but don't forget the meat!" And thus I stumbled upon a new addition to my deliciously simple weeknight meals: Asian Steak Salad.

This dish is super easy, inexpensive and uber delish- 3 of my most favorite things in a weeknight meal. Flank steak is tender when broiled and you only have to marinate it for about 10 minutes to get the flavor deep into the meat. The best part about this dish is that it takes so little time, you can make it after a long day at work and still have plenty of time leftover to spend some quality time with your favorite people or pooches.

Asian Steak Salad with Cucumber and Napa Cabbage

1/4 cup fresh limed juice (2 limes)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
red pepper flakes to taste
1 garlic clove, crushed through a press of finely minced
1 pound flank steak
1/4 cup soy sauce
cooking spray
1/2 head napa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1 pound)
1 english cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped unsalted roasted peanuts

In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, vinegar, oils, red pepper flakes and garlic.

Pierce steak allover with a fork. Place in shallow dish or resealable plastic bag and pour soy sauce and half of lime juice mixture over steak (reserve half for dressing for salad). Marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes (or overnight in fridge).

Heat broiler with rack set 4 inches from heat. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and place steak on baking sheet. Broil without turning until medium rare, 8-10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. Thinly slice (about 1/2-1 inch thick) across grain.

In a large bowl toss cabbage and cucumbers with reserved dressing. Divide among plates and top with steak and peanuts.

recipe and photo a la Martha Stewart

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Game Day: Bring on the Chicken Wings

It's game day in my house which means the Yankees are on. I have to say, as much as I love to see Derek Jeter's beautiful face on my giant television, I hate baseball season. Now, now, don't start thinking that I'm an awful wife because I don't let the hubs enjoy a little sports from time to time. I'm totally fine with a little sports being watched in my house. But do you know how often teams play each other in baseball? I swear, the Yankees are on EVERY day. Not only do they play all the time but it seems like just when the season ends, its starting up again. But alas, instead of being a crabby wife, I try to embrace it, as much as possible. One of the best ways I've found to embrace baseball season is by enjoying my Uncle Jim's homemade chicken wings.

These aren't your typical buffalo style chicken wings but are actually soy sauce based so they have a slightly sweet, slightly salty, slightly soy flavor and they are delicious. They were one of my favorite things growing up. I loved going to family parties when Uncle Jim made wings. Between those and the shrimp cocktail that was sure to be on the table, I was a very happy little girl. I've actually taken to making them for my own parties and people eat them right up. My guests are pleasantly surprised at the nontraditional wing flavor.

Uncle Jim's Chicken Wings

3 lbs chicken wings
3 tbsp oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup cooking sherry
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ginger
green onions (for garnish and can cut up a few to add to the wings during cooking if you wish)

In a 5 qt. saucepan over high heat cook chicken in oil, approximately 7 minutes. Add soy sauce, sherry, ketchup, sugar, and ginger. Stir to blend. Cover and cook 25 minutes. Uncover and cook about 10-20 minutes until sauce is reduced, stirring frequently.

recipe courtesy of my Uncle Jim Trow
photo by Susie M. Eising

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Deliciously Simple Weeknight Meals: Baked Ravioli

Being a modern housewife, I'm not exactly a housewife, I actually have a job. Sometimes I love working and I love my job, other times, I'd much rather be a lady of leisure. But alas,  I've got to help the hubs pay the bills. I still love to cook even after a long day at the office (most of the time) and I love a deliciously simple weeknight meal even more. I also love raviolis so when I stumbled upon this dish from Martha I had to try it. It's now become a scrumptious addition to my weeknight dinner rotation. Thanks Martha!!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme or oregano
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 lbs store bought raviolis
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon, until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 and 1/2 cups, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook raviolis in a large pot of boiling water, just until they float to the top. Pasta will continue to cook in the oven. Drain and return to pot.

Toss sauce with pasta and pour into baking dish or gratin dish and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.

Modern Housewife Tips:
1. You can use any kind of ravioli. If you want some protein, go for meat raviolis but I prefer and love mushroom raviolis.
2. I usually mix a little cheese in with the pasta and sauce as well as sprinkle on top because, as you know, I love cheese!
3. The dish serves 4-6 but if your only making for 2, I suggest making the whole thing because it makes great leftovers.

Photo and recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

Monday, May 10, 2010

Delish Date Night In: Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic

The hubs and I had an absolutely delish date night in this weekend. We've made lamb chops quite a few times before which are very yummy, but being that we are now in "saving for a home" mode, leg of lamb is a bit more economical. I've also really been wanting to try making it and I have to say, it was a success!

The garlic and rosemary herb paste was super easy and gave the lamb just the hint more flavor it needed. Leg of lamb is a fairly inexpensive, very tasty protein. We paid about $15 for 2-3 pounds of meat which fed the hubs and I with a little left over for the pups to try. This is cheaper than many cuts of beef and is guaranteed almost always more tender. This recipe serves 6-8- makes a great dish for a dinner party- but I purchased about half the size of lamb that it called for since it was just for the two of us. I did make the entire amount of herb paste though, just to make sure I had plenty to rub the lamb. I ended up with about a quarter of the mixture left.

Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic

1/4 cup minced fresh rosemary
8 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp sweet paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 leg of lamb, 4-5 pounds, bone removed and butterflied (get a boneless leg of lamb from the butcher counter and it should be good to go)

In a food processor, combine rosemary, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, 1tbsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper with just enough oil to make a coarse paste. Rub herb paste generously allover the lamb. Put lamb in a baking dish or zippered plastic bag and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour (or overnight in fridge- I just did 1 hour at room temperature). Preheat grill to medium high heat. Once hot, keep one burner on medium high and turn off other burners.

Grill lamb directly over medium high heat until well browned, turning once, 5-7 minutes each side. Transfer lamb, skin side down, to unheated part of grill. Cover grill and cook 30 minutes. Check lamb by cutting into thickest part of meat or insert an instant read thermometer. Lamb should be about medium rare, still pink inside. Instant read thermometer should register 130 degrees. If needed, continue cooking up to 20 minutes longer.

Transfer lamb to platter, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Slice lamb on diagonal, across the grain, about 1/2-3/4 inch thick slices, and serve.

recipe courtesy of The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook: The Essential Recipe Collection for Today's Home Cook
photo courtesy of Ben Fink Photo Inc.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Homemade Mustard From My Mama- Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you pretty little modern housewives! To those of you that are mothers, I hope you enjoy your day! To those of you that will be mothers, I hope you enjoy your day! And to all of our mothers... Thank you and have a fabulous day!!

I couldn't help but post a recipe today that was passed down to me from my mother, which was passed down to her by her mother, which was passed to her by her mother. In case you lost track, that would mean this recipe was passed down from my great grandmother, Grandma May. For as long as I can remember, one of my most favorite things about our Easter Ham dinner was my Great Grandmother's homemade mustard. It's sweet, slightly spicy, and altogether delish! It's great with baked ham, good on sandwiches and would be delish as a dipping sauce at your next party for pigs in a blanket (comeon, you know you love pigs in a blanket!).

Grandma May's Homemade Mustard (circa 1939)

1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp dry mustard
1/3 cup plus 3 tbsp flour
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp tumeric

Beat egg, add salt and sugar, then mustard, flour, vinegar, and water. Cook in a saucepan until thickened. Add tumeric. Store in jar or air tight container in fridge. Makes about 3 cups of mustard.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A tribute to my pups: Peanut Butter Doggie Treats

For those of you that don't know, I have 2 of the most adorable pups around, Jones and Rira, and they just so happen to love everything that I cook. I know what you're thinking, of course they do, they are dogs. But no, I really do think (or maybe I just like to think) that they die for all my dishes. At least thats what the look on their faces say, especially Jones', when we sit down for dinner every night! Obviously, having dog cookies and treats in our house is a must and when I was passed this recipe to make my own doggie treats, I just couldn't resist trying out a recipe that was just for them. I mean, we can't let the hubs be the only one who benefits from my culinary adventures!

This recipe for doggie treats is super simple with only 4 ingredients and is made with all natural goodness so not only will your pups love the taste, but they are good for them too! They'll also save you a few bucks on your next trip to the doggie store.

Peanut Butter Drops

4 cups rice flour
1 cup water
1 cup peanut butter
4 tbsp ground flaxseeds

Mix all ingredients and blend to form a stiff dough. Using a tablespoon, drop dough onto cookie sheet- about 1 tablespoon per drop. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet.

Modern Housewife tips:
1. Makes about 56 drops.
2. If you can't find rice flour and flaxseed at your local grocer, you can find it at Whole Foods.
3. The last time I made these I stored them in a plastic bag and they only lasted a few weeks so you may want to cut the recipe in half so that they don't go bad before your pups eat them all up. You'll have plenty of supplies left over that last quite a while so you can just make more when you run out.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fit for a Farmhouse: Chicken and Dumplings

Well hello all you pretty little modern housewives. How I've missed you so!! I am dearly sorry for my absence this past week. The hubs and I headed back to the east coast for his sister's wedding on Saturday and then we roamed New Jersey and a tiny piece of New York in search of the perfect town and perfect house to start our next adventure on the east coast. We certainly had no intention of finding said perfect house but were more focused on finding the perfect town. Amazingly so, we found both!

When asked what I would love in a home, my short version is "an old farmhouse that is fully modernized on the inside". Well, I have to say I found just that. We found an 1830's dutch colonial on 2 acres of gorgeous land along a pretty little brook. The house has that old world charm but was remodeled in 2000 and is absolutely to die for on the inside. Obvi, the kitchen is of huge importance and I DIED for this kitchen, especially the 1952 Wedgewood stove. And now all I can think about (other than crossing every part of myself that will cross so that we get this house) is the perfect meal to cook in my old farmhouse kitchen. One of the most delicious things to come to mind so far is a classic comfort food dish that we all know and love: Chicken and Dumplings.

I found this Chicken and Dumplings recipe in Cooking Light a few years back and not only is it delish, but being that it is from Cooking Light it's a bit healthier than the Chicken and Dumplings that may have been made in my farmhouse's kitchen back around the Great Depression, which is when this dish originated. So light a fire, turn off the TV, and set the dining room table because this is one classic dish to be enjoyed by you and your loved ones while appreciating a little old world charm.

Herbed Chicken and Dumplings

Cooking Spray
8oz skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup chopped celery (about 1/4 inch pieces)
1/2 cup chopped carrot (about 1/4 inch pieces)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 tsp dried thyme
3 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 cups fat free, less sodium chicken broth
about 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk

Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan and cook 4 minutes, browning all sides. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm. Add celery and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan. Saute 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Return chicken to pan, cook 1 minute. Add broth to pan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour, chopped parsley, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk. Stir just until moist. Spoon by heaping teaspoonfuls into broth mixture. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. Discard parsley sprigs and bay leaf. Serves 2 (serving size: 2 cups).

recipe and image courtesy of Cooking Light