Monday, November 28, 2011

Kielbasa & Vegetable Jambalaya

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit

Now that the weather has turned cold, it's time to cook the recipes I save for wintertime. This recipe is especially good for early-week cooking because the leftovers keep giving all week long.

Ingredients: *Serves 10

12 oz. cooked turkey Kielbasa
12 oz. applewood smoked ham steak
3 medium yellow onions
1 tsp. canola oil
2 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
2 green bell pepper
3 celery stocks
3 medium carrots, peeled
28 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
2 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 c. long-grain rice
1 tbs. paprika
1 tbs. smoked paprika
1 tbs. chili powder
1 tbs. fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut kielbasa at angle into 1/4 inch slices. Cube ham steak. Brown together in saucepan. Remove from saucepan and set aside. Dice onions and sauté in oil until browned. Mince garlic and add to saucepan for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Rough chop peppers, celery and carrots and combine in large pot. Cook vegetables on medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Add kielbasa, ham, onions and tomatoes. Stir in paprika, chili powder, thyme and cayenne pepper.

Add broth to pot and stir in rice. Bring to boil. Remove pot from stovetop heat and place in oven for 45 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Serve hot and enjoy.
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

{Eat} Small Business Saturday

Happy "Small Business Saturday"! People across the nation are supporting small businesses today. I plan to support the cause by eating at a local, independent restaurant. Restaurants are small businesses too. And my purchase will be in the form of yummy food!

Eat local, shop local.

Need a bigger helping?:
Small Business Saturday
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Peppermint Cocoa

It's snowing outside. I'm staying warm by drinking my dessert - holiday style.

Ingredients: Serves 2

2 c. water or non-fat milk
Hot cocoa mix*
1/4 tsp. peppermint flavoring
2 peppermint candy canes

1/4 c. whipping cream
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


In small pot, heat milk on medium until hot. Stir in cocoa mix. *Use quantity as specified by serving instruction. (I use 365 Organics Hot Cocoa Mix from Whole Foods.) Stir in peppermint flavoring. Reduce heat to low.

Pour cream, sugar and vanilla into medium bowl. Using hand mixer, beat until fluffy and soft peaks are formed.

Break off end of candy canes and roughly chop. Set pieces and remainder of candy canes aside.

Pour prepared hot cocoa into mugs. Top with generous dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with peppermint pieces and serve with peppermint stick.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving...

to you and yours. Wishing you a day filled with good eats, drink and abundant blessings.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pistachio & Cranberry Couscous

In a pinch for time, I needed a quick side dish to accompany dinner. This couscous was as flavorful as it was colorful.

Ingredients: *Serves 4

1 medium yellow onion
1 tsp. canola oil
1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 c. couscous
1/4 c. shelled pistachios
1/4 c. dried cranberries
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
S&P to taste


Finely dice onion and place in non-stick saucepan with canola oil. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until browned. In small pot, bring broth to boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat and cover with lid. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Reduce heat on saucepan to low. Rough chop pistachios and cranberries and add to onions. Fluff couscous with fork. Add to saucepan. Stir in olive oil until ingredients are well mixed. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot and enjoy!
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Leftover Turkey Soup

I roasted a turkey breast for dinner last week and had lots of leftovers! I repurposed said leftovers in a soup, perfect for cold weather days.


4 c. chicken broth
2 1/2 lbs. leftover roasted turkey breast
2 medium yellow onions
1 tsp. olive oil
15 oz. navy beans, drained
15 oz. Great Northern beans, drained
28 oz. fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 tbs. tomato paste
1 tbs. cumin
1 tbs. chili powder
2 bay leaves
S&P, to taste
1 tbs. fresh parsley


In large pot, bring chicken broth to slow boil. Rough chop roasted turkey breast into bite sided pieces. Add to pot. Finely dice onions and sauté with oil in non-stick saucepan. When sautéed to a golden brown, remove from heat and add to soup pot. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder and bay leaves to pot. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 2 hours. Stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves. Finely chop parsley. Dish up and garnish with parsley and freshly cracked pepper. Serve hot and enjoy.

Sometimes, it takes a little creativity to use up those leftovers. How do you plan to use your Thanksgiving leftovers?
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread

Featured in this month's 5280 Magazine, this flatbread recipe comes from local chef, Elise Wiggins.

Despite my challenged relationship with pizza crusts, I decided to give Wiggins' flatbread a try. Flatbreads are, after all, rustic and artisan by nature. Translation: imperfect. Hence, just my style. Flatbreads are also very thin. Translation: light. Also, my style.

Much to the amusement of my chef mom, I rolled out the flatbreads with my own version of a rolling pin. A proper rolling pin has been added to my 'Kitchen Wants' list. That way, next time, I will be able to drink the wine whilst rolling dough.

From the recipe, I altered the directions only slightly ... I placed the prosciutto atop the arugula to protect it from wilting as I baked it in the oven for 1 minute.

In the end, we 3 - Dan, Mom and myself - fully enjoyed the crispiness of the flatbread. That combined with the subtle saltiness from the prosciutto, earthy flavor of the arugula and slight sweetness from the aged balsamic came together to create the perfect bite.

Need a bigger helping?:
Dough Recipe
Flatbread Recipe
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Second helping of FAQs...

Last week I answered questions of the food obsessed variety ... you asked me a few more. Here are my responses.

What was your worst recipe disaster?
Last November, I wrote a 3 post series on a memorable recipe disaster. What was I making you ask? Pizza crusts. Reflecting back on it, I am really glad I shared that disaster on my blog. I am, after all, an amateur cook. Every once in awhile, I am reminded of this. And it is usually amusing.

Here are the posts from that disaster.... Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

What is your favorite chocolate recipe?
Pecan Brownies from Lisa Rothstein - sans pecans. They are decadent. And indulgent. Proceed with caution.

Do you try new recipes when entertaining?
I have several go-to recipes for entertaining. I rarely experiment with new recipes when having people over. I don't need the stress of things being a flop and people going hungry.

Is there really such a thing as light Italian?
Yes, there is. Americans tend to be heavy handed when making Italian dishes -- excessive portions of pasta and anything baked, as in baked ziti, is loaded with cheese. But, Italian can be much lighter. Think fish, fresh veggies and Italian spices. An appropriately portioned serving of pasta is also a good start.

Dan is listed as a contributor of your blog. How does he contribute?
Dan is my official taster and dining companion. He also laughs with me when my pizza dough turns out like naan.

Seriously, frozen cookies?
True story. You gotta try it.
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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dine & Dish: Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar

Wanting to go somewhere new, we dined at Row 14 Bistro in celebration of my birthday.

After trying to decide between two starters, we ordered both. The Ahi and Salmon Rangoons were filled with a delicately smooth cream cheese center and served with a sweet chili soy sauce. Being that Dan loves this kind of appetizer, we often order rangoons. And Row 14's topped the favorites list. I especially liked that they were crispy and yet light compared to other rangoon versions.

The menu offers a small but nice cheese board selection. This was ordered as our second starter. The cheeses were very enjoyable, but my question was where's the board? Served on a ordinary bread plate, the cheese 'board' presentation was lackluster compared to the quality cheeses it carried. On another note, the pear marmalade served alongside the cheese was a delicious compliment to the dish.

For entrees, I enjoyed the Australian Barramundi served atop a potato risotto and red kuri squash puree and garnished with arugula and pistachios. While I wouldn't call it a risotto, the potatoes were creamy and flavorful. And the Barramundi was cooked nicely with a crisply seared crust. While colorful in its presentation, the squash puree would have benefited from additional seasoning.

Dan ordered the NY Strip Steak with Frites. The steak was cooked to his liking and was served with gorgonzola, tomatoes and a Worcestershire reduction. I sampled a few bites and enjoyed the reduction sauce as the highlight of the flavor profile.

In regards to ambiance, the restaurant offers a contemporary chic feel that's pleasant. I was, however, not a fan of the location. Directly across from the convention center, the location offers a less than appealing view. That being said, the location is also nearby the theater and perfect for dining before a show.

Final words on Row 14 Bistro ... flavorful dining good for a night at the theater.

Need a bigger helping?:

Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

In anticipation of running our first 1/2 marathon, I baked a treat to have waiting for us when we crossed the finish line. A gussied up pumpkin bread...

Bread Ingredients:

3 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1 tbs. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 c. granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. non-fat milk
2/3 c. water
15 oz. canned pumpkin

Icing Ingredients:

8 oz. powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbs. non-fat milk
6 small ginger snap cookies


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in medium bowl. Set aside. Using mixer, combine sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, milk and water until smooth. Add pumpkin and mix until smooth. Slowly add flour mixture and mix until fully combined. Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray. Pour bread batter evenly into 2 prepared pans.

Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into bread center. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

While bread is baking, make frosting: Sift together powered sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Set aside. Use mixer to blend cream cheese into smooth consistency. Add milk to cream cheese. Slowly add sugar mixture to mixing bowl. Using a spatula, spread frosting on top of bread evenly.

Using food processor, crumb cookies until powdered. Using mesh strainer, garnish frosted bread with dusting of cookie powder.

Serve with hot beverage and enjoy!

PS - We finished our race and celebrated with a (generous) slice of pumpkin bread!
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Ham, Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Soup

I had the day off from work and enjoyed the entire day cooking in my kitchen. Here's what I made for dinner...

2 medium butternut squash
1 1/2 tbs. olive oil
12 c. chicken stock
2 yellow onions, diced
1 c. wild rice
12 oz. Applewood smoked ham steak, cubed
16 oz. corn kernels, drained
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 c. half-and-half
1 tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
S & P, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and remove seeds from squash. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Place on baking pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Season generously with S&P. Roast in oven for 40 minutes or until fork tender. Let cool.

Bring 4 cups chicken stock to boil in medium pot. Pour in rice and cook on medium heat until broth has been fully absorbed. Approximately, 45-60 minutes.

Dice and sauté onions in 1/2 tablespoon oil in non-stick saucepan. Sauté until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Cube ham and sauté in saucepan with cooking spray until golden brown. Set aside.

Puree cooled squash in food processor with 2 cups broth until smooth. In a large pot, bring remaining 6 cups broth to simmer. Add squash puree, corn, thyme sprigs, onion and ham. Cook for 20 minutes at slow boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add rice and cook for another 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and discard thyme sprigs. Stir in half-and-half and parsley. Serve hot and enjoy!

*Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

FAQs ...

Of the food obsessed variety ...

What is your favorite thing to eat?
Currently, it's popcorn. In both sweet and savory flavors.

What is your favorite part of entertaining?
Creating the kind of evening where we eat good food and have spirited conversation late into the night.

If you were on Chopped, what is one ingredient you would NOT want to see in the basket?

If you could have a meal catered by a famous chef, who would it be?
Giada De Laurentiis - for her light take on Italian dishes. And because I think she would be fun to chat with. She seems to be 'good people'.

If you knew you couldn't fail, what would you cook?
Rack of Lamb. This response is rather strange really because I've only eaten lamb once. But I'd be pretty impressed with myself if I pulled it off.

Tell us one strange food thing that we don't know about you.
I prefer to eat dessert frozen. Ice cream and frozen yogurt are a given. But I like many baked goods frozen as well. Homemade chocolate chip cookies are especially good frozen. Really, you should try it sometime.

Where is your favorite place to dine right now?

Which 3 restaurants are on your dining wish list?
Vesta Dipping Grill
Il Posto

If you were to throw a pie in somebody's face, what flavor pie would you choose?
Cherry. This is an obvious answer. If you are going to throw a pie, you might as well make a big, colorful mess!

Have a question for me? Ask away! I will answer your questions in a post next week.

*This post is part of the Writer’s Workshop over at Mama Kat's blog.
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dine & Dish: Charcoal

Having opened their doors only a month ago, I was eager to try Charcoal, the newest restaurant on the Denver dining scene.

We went for Charcoal's brunch and perused their Swedish inspired menu. I ordered the Chefs Tasting menu – yes, they offer one for brunch. While tasting menus have become increasingly popular at dinnertime, this isn't so common for brunch time fare. I was delighted at their cleverness and jumped at the chance to try several dishes - five in fact.

Vanilla yogurt with granola, nuts and fresh berries parfait – The parfait had an inviting presentation and was a light and healthy start to the tasting menu.

Pancakes and French Toast – This course was served as 2 separate dishes. My favorite dish of the morning was the pancakes which were light, thin and fluffy. They were served with a blueberry compote and cream topper that made the overall dish sweet without being overwhelmingly sugary. The French toast, on the other hand, was not as exciting as the pancakes. It was served with a strawberry sauce that offered a flavorful component but the toast itself was nothing special. It was also served with a hazelnut crème that was disconnected from the flavor profile of rest of the dish.

Potato pancake with ligonberries and bacon – Second only to the pancakes, this dish was another favorite. The potato pancakes were dense, crisp and struck the feel of comfort food. Also, the combination of the savoriness from the potato and bacon with the sweetness of the berries hit a nice balance between savory and sweet.

Shrimp Benedict with horseradish hollandaise – Not being a big fan of anything benedict, this course surprised me with its lightness. When broken, the perfectly poached egg melted beautifully onto the shrimp and English muffin. The horseradish in the hollandaise was the highlight of the flavors as it worked to lighten the sauce while not overwhelming the bite.

Luker chili truffle with hazelnut mousse – The truffle was dense and chocolaty with a hint of chili flavor without the actual heat. The dish offered the second appearance of hazelnut mousse during brunch and this time, it accompanied the chocolate flavors nicely.

Having sampled much of Charcoal’s brunch menu, I look forward to trying their evening fare as well.

Final words on Charcoal… tasty, inviting brunch in a warm and contemporary atmosphere.

Need a bigger helping?:
Charcoal Charcoal on Urbanspoon
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