Saturday, March 5, 2011

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

I made this dish for a ladies’ pot luck luncheon I attended. Roasting the vegetables enhances the flavors, and it’s so easy to just throw in the oven while you prepare the rest. The feta is a nice complimentary flavor against the roasted veggies, and the pignolis offer a subtle crunchy texture. This is a great dish for a crowd or even a picnic, since it’s best served at room temperature.

Source: Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, Barefoot Contessa Parties!


1 small eggplant, peeled and ¾-inch diced

1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced

1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced

1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

⅓ cup good olive oil

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ pound orzo or rice-shaped pasta

For the dressing:

⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

⅓ cup good olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:

4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)

¼ cup pignolis (pine nuts), toasted

¾ pound good feta, ½-inch diced (not crumbled)

15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Salmon with Honey-Mustard Glaze

I don’t often cook from this cookbook, which has many recipes that serves 2 people, but since McHubby was on travel this week, I didn’t want to make a big dish that I’d be eating all week long.

This was a quick dish to prepare, another bonus for me during a busy work week. I used ¼ cup of panko bread crumbs instead of the crumbled crackers. You can simply assemble the fish while the oven preheats, and then it only takes minutes to bake to perfection.

Source: Salmon with Honey-Mustard Glaze, Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook


2 skinless salmon fillets (8 ounces each)

3 tablespoons stone-ground mustard

2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream

2 teaspoons honey

½ teaspoon dried dill weed

8 crackers, such as Ritz, crumbled


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the salmon on the prepared baking sheet. Combine the mustard, crème fraîche, honey, and dill weed in a small bowl. Spread with the cracker crumbs just before placing in the oven. Bake until the salmon is barely cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn’t just love macaroni and cheese? Mac and cheese is perhaps the ultimate of all comfort foods, and everyone has their favorite, whether it’s the recipe that mom used to make or the one from the blue box. For me, mac and cheese is certainly a splurge and not on my usual diet.

This recipe is a pretty easy method to make. No baking involved at all. I substituted cavatappi pasta for the elbow macaroni. If you use purchased bread crumbs as I did (I used panko), there is no need to sauté them in butter. Use a nice sharp cheddar or substitute any other favorite cheese that melts evenly. Then, simply indulge and enjoy!

Source: Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese, Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook


Bread crumbs

½ tablespoon unsalted butter

½ cup fresh bread crumbs

Pinch of kosher salt

Macaroni and cheese

1 egg

¾ cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

Dash of hot red pepper sauce

4 ounces (1 cup) elbow macaroni

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1½ cups (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese


To prepare the bread crumbs:

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. When the foam begins to disappear, add the bread crumbs and cook for about 2 minutes, tossing gently for even browning. Add the kosher salt and set aside.

To make the macaroni and cheese:

Lightly whisk the egg in a small bowl. Add the evaporated milk, mustard, the ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, freshly ground pepper to taste, and hot red pepper sauce.

Fill a large saucepan three fourths full of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and add kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and return the pasta to the pan. Set over low heat, add the butter, and stir until melted. Add the evaporated milk mixture and the cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Adjust the seasonings with more kosher salt if necessary. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the bread crumbs. (If not eaten right away, macaroni and cheese will thicken. Just stir in some of the remaining evaporated milk to thin to the desired consistency.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Apple Crisp

For a super easy and tasty dessert or even a sweet side dish, try this slow-cooker apple crisp. Use an all-purpose cooking apple like Granny Smith, Fuji, or Braeburn. Cooking with a slow-cooker makes this dish so easy! Just put everything in the slow-cooker pot, stir together, sprinkle the “crisp” topping over top, and let the slow-cooker do all the work. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Source: Apple Crisp, Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook


8 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced (about 4 pounds)

1½ cups all-purpose baking mix, divided

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, divided

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and divided

Vanilla ice cream


Combine apples, ½ cup baking mix, ½ cup brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg, tossing to coat. Add 3 tablespoons butter. Spoon into a lightly greased 5-quart slow cooker.

Combine remaining 1 cup baking mix and remaining ½ cup brown sugar; cut in remaining 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over apple mixture.

Cover and cook on low for 7½ hours or until apples are tender and topping is golden. Serve with ice cream.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Zucchini Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise is a thick soup made of puréed leeks, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock and can be served hot or cold. On this cold winter's night, I'm definitely eating mine hot! In this recipe, zucchinis are also included as an ingredient, and it marries well with the leeks and potatoes. For a vegetarian version, simply substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. This soup is easy to prepare, especially if you use a handheld blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools) to purée. It has an earthy but simple and smooth flavor. Garnish with chives or even oyster crackers!

Source: Zucchini Vichyssoise, Barefoot in Paris


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon good olive oil

5 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (4 to 8 leeks)

4 cups chopped unpeeled white boiling potatoes (8 small)

3 cups chopped zucchini (2 zucchinis)

1½ quarts chicken stock or canned broth

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Fresh chives or julienned zucchini, for garnish


Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot, add the leeks, and sauté over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, zucchini, chicken stock, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and then process through a food mill fitted with the medium disc. Add the cream and season to taste. Serve either cold or hot, garnished with chopped chives and/or zucchini.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Soupe Au Potiron

This Winter Squash Soup is not to be missed! Soupe Au Potiron translated is "pumpkin soup" and this recipe combines a can of pumpkin purée with butternut squash. For a vegetarian version, simply use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. For the amount of flavor in this soup, you'd never believe the minimal effort it takes to make it. To purée the soup after simmering, I used a handheld blender instead of a food mill because it's easier, faster, and less messy. The crème fraîche garnish was an added touch of richness and just a bit of tartness against the sweetness of the winter squash. Absolutely delicious!

Source: Winter Squash Soup, Barefoot in Paris


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon good olive oil

2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)

1½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks

3 cups chicken stock or canned broth

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup half-and-half

Crème fraîche, grated Gruyère, or croutons for serving (optional)


Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the pumpkin purée, butternut squash, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, until the butternut squash is very tender. Process the mixture through the medium blade of a food mill. Return to the pot, add the half-and-half, and heat slowly. If the soup needs more flavor, add another teaspoon of salt. Serve hot with garnishes, if desired.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Eggplant Parmigiana

Okay, I know I have a number of eggplant parm recipes on my blog already. What can I say...I'm a junkie when it comes to this dish. So when I came across this recipe as I was flipping through my Martha Stewart Living magazine, well, I had to try it. This dish does take some time to prepare, but it's a tasty casserole that feeds a crowd (or a couple for several nights) and worth the effort. Yummy!

Source: Eggplant Parmigiana, Martha Stewart Living, January 2011


For breading and frying:

2 cups fine plain fresh breadcrumbs

½ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 large eggplants, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more if needed

For assembling:

6 cups marinara sauce

3 cups coarsely grated mozzarella cheese (12 ounces)

¾ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (1½ ounces)


Bread and fry the eggplant: Combine breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano, ½ teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Put flour, eggs, and breadcrumb mixture in 3 separate dishes. Dredge eggplant in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, letting excess drip off. Dredge in breadcrumbs to coat. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. (Oil is ready when a breadcrumb sizzles when dropped in.) Working in batches, fry eggplant until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. (If oil gets too dirty, discard, and heat an additional ¼ cup.)

Assemble the dish: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread ½ cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of eggplant on top, overlapping slightly. Top with 1 cup sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella and ¼ cup Pecorino Romano. Repeat twice to form layers with eggplant, sauce, then cheeses. Cover with foil. Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes more.