Saturday, April 9, 2011

New Blog!

As promised, I have finally created a new food blog.  It has a more specific concept and I think you guys will love it.  You can check it out at Glutton for Nourishment.  Please have a look, and I welcome your feedback.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Goal Achieved (for now)

 When I first started this blog, I was trying to learn to be more comfortable in the kitchen.  I already loved to cook, but I wasn't so good at improvising.  I had a collection of cookbooks that was constantly growing, and a fear of straying too far from those recipes.  I was a novice.

I wouldn't say that I am now a gourmet chef, but thanks in large part to this blog, I am certainly comfortable in the kitchen.  I have taught myself new techniques and shortcuts.  I have broadened my horizons.  I've done things I always wanted to do, like made home-made pastry and roasted a whole chicken.  I've kept my meals and desserts interesting and shared them with you.  You might have noticed that as this blog progressed, the recipes became more my own and less from other people's pages.

My journey to become a great cook is not over, and will never be, but I certainly have reached a milestone.  And I have to say that I think I have outgrown this blog a bit, at least for now.  While I used to love taking pictures of my creations and posting about them here, "showing off" a bit, admittedly, even if it wasn't always something to show off about, now it is somewhat of a hindrance.  Not to mention that I want to be able to cook favorite things I've made before, and this blog makes me feel like I always have to try something new.

I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to write, but the blog itself is starting to feel like it is actually holding me back a bit now.  This is a great surprise to me, as it is the blog that helped me to grow so much over the past year and a half.

I will still be on twitter (@edibleventures) posting about my adventures in the kitchen, and I do plan to start a new blog with a different concept before long (stay tuned, I will be sure to post the link here when the time comes).  But for now, this blog is going into hibernation.  Thank you to those of you who supported me along the way.  If you ever want a recipe idea or a tip I am here to help, feel free to e-mail me (laurathelop at hotmail dot com).  I will keep this blog up for quite some time so that the recipes are still available.  And I will still read *your* blog, those of you who have them.

Happy eating, cooking, and blogging!  I still hope to have you all over for dinner some day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

There were a few beautiful red bell peppers in my refrigerator, and we were about to go away for the weekend.  I had already had them for several days, and the idea that they might be spoiled by the time we got back from our trip was just too depressing.  I had the genius idea of roasting them, figuring it would buy me a few more days.

Now that we're home, I decided to use the roasted red peppers to make a pasta sauce.  But you need not stop at pasta with this one, my friends.  This sauce is spicy and sassy.  Saucy, if you will.  It would do wonderful things on top of meat, chicken, fish, or yes, pasta.  It could jazz up a platter of grilled vegetables.  It could jazz up your life, in fact.

The diced fire roasted tomatoes I used already had spicy chilies in them, but if you have regular fire roasted tomatoes without chilies, you might want to add red pepper flakes or cayenne, or some other source of heat.  This sauce is velvety smooth, and the heat helps to give it an edge that it craves.  And you will crave it too, I promise.

Home made roasted red peppers are a beautiful thing, but of course you can use the jarred ones, too.  Just drain and rinse them first.

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
makes about 4 cups


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 roasted red bell peppers, chopped
one 14.5 ounce can of diced fire roasted tomatoes with chilies
a pinch of dried oregano
2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar


1.  Heat the oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat.  When it's hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about one minute, until fragrant and starting to turn golden.  

2.  Add the bell peppers and the diced tomatoes with their juices.  Stir to combine, then season with oregano and salt.  Bring to a bubble, then stir in the balsamic.  Reduce to a bare simmer.  

3.  Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes so the flavors can marry and the sauce heats through, and thickens just slightly.  Turn off the heat and let sit for a minute.

4.  Transfer the sauce (carefully) to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Serve hot over pasta, meat, or veggies.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Zucchini and Cilantro Soup with Chile and Mint

Looking for a soup that is transcendentally delicious?  Yep, this is it.   Here we have another example of how well zucchini pairs with fresh herbs, only now we have it in soup form.  You could serve this soup chilled on a hot day, or hot on a chilly day.  It's easy-going like that.

I have to say that when you taste this soup, it's not obvious what it is exactly.  It tastes like a delicious vegetarian tortilla soup.  You know there are herbs, you know there is spiciness, and you know there is a generally Mexican flavor.  But zucchini?  You might not have guessed.  This is a great way to use up zucchinis when you're sick of zucchini, or if you are trying to fool your picky children or husband into eating zucchini.  Or, you can feed it to zucchini-lovers and see if they recognize their favorite squash.  It's up to you.

This soup is rich and refreshing at the same time.  It's pretty amazing.  It's pretty great.  You should try it.

Zucchini and Cilantro Soup with Chile and Mint
adapted from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors
serves 4


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 serrano or jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
2 medium-sized zucchini, quartered lengthwise and chopped
1 small bunch of cilantro, stems and leaves divided, chopped
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped mint
2 corn tortillas
salt to taste
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
juice of 1 lemon


1.  Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a medium soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the chile, zucchini, cilantro stems, onion, parsley, and mint.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and zucchini is starting to get tender, about 10 minutes.

2.  Tear up one of the tortillas into pieces and add it to the pot.  Add a healthy pinch of salt and stir.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover the pot.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is very tender.  Remove from heat.

3.  Stir in the cilantro leaves (save a bit for garnish if you like).  Let the soup cool slightly, then puree in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender, until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and lemon juice.

4.  In a small skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high.  Cut the remaining tortilla into strips and add to the hot oil.  Cook until crisp, then set on paper towels to drain.  Serve the soup garnished with a small mound of tortilla strips and reserved cilantro.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blueberry Bran Muffins

I love blueberry muffins, in case you couldn't tell.  These are yet another variation, with plump fresh blueberries and a more rustic muffin base.  Thanks to the use of wheat germ or wheat bran (your choice), these are muffins you can feel pretty good about eating.  They're high in fiber and low in fat.  They also happen to taste great.

You can find fantastic blueberries right now, so it's a great time to give this recipe a try.  The muffins are sweetened with maple syrup, so they have that extra edge that is hard to identify. They'll make an excellent breakfast before all your barbecue-ing on memorial day.  Muffins make an excellent breakfast any time, in my opinion!

*Note:  the original recipe said it makes 12 muffins, but I got 16.  So have a second muffin tin around just in case.

Blueberry Bran Muffins
adapted from Mad Hungry
makes 12-16* muffins


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup wheat bran or wheat germ


1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper or reusable liners.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt.   In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, maple, sugar, oil, and milk together.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just mixed together.  Stir in blueberries and wheat bran or germ.

3.  Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 of the way (more if you want your muffins to spill over the top).   You may need to use a second muffin tin for the extra batter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spiced Chicken Salad

Sometimes those random ingredients in your refrigerator can come to a fortuitously delicious conclusion.  I knew I wanted to make chicken for dinner, but I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do with it.  We had arugula, a couple of stray potatoes, lots of carrots and half a cucumber.  We had herbs, and the usual spices, oils, and vinegars.  We also had a chunk of feta.

Voila!  All of these items came together to form a filling and delicious salad.  The chicken breast is marinated for a mere 10-15 minutes in yogurt and spices, then cooked in a cast-iron skillet and placed atop a salad of mixed veggies and boiled potatoes.  It's simple and filled with flavor. 

This is a basic formula that could work with any number of variations.  Cook a piece of marinated chicken breast and you can put it on top of just about anything, and then call it spiced chicken salad.  This particular combination works wonders, but if you have some mixed baby greens and tomatoes, you could use those instead of the arugula and potatoes.  You could ditch the feta and opt for fresh mozzarella, cubes of sharp cheddar, or no cheese at all if you like. 

Once again, I invite you to take my recipe and do whatever you like with it.  That's what playing in the kitchen is all about.

And speaking of which, I am thinking about changing some things up on this blog.  Is there anything you'd like to see more of?  Anything new you'd like to see besides recipes?  I promise to consider any serious suggestions.  Thanks!

Spiced Chicken Salad
serves 2


1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
pinch of ground cinnamon
bigger pinch of ground cumin
salt to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided
2 skinless boneless chicken breast cutlets
2 medium red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups baby arugula
1/2 hothouse cucumber, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
cooking spray
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced feta cheese


1.  In a shallow dish, combine yogurt, cinnamon, cumin, a pinch of salt, and about half the parsley.  Place the chicken cutlets in the dish and turn to coat well with the yogurt mixture.  Let marinate for 10-15 minutes. 

2.  While the chicken marinates, place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cool water by about 1 inch.  Place on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat slightly and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.

3.  While the potatoes are cooking and the chicken is marinating, put the arugula, cucumber, and carrots in a large salad bowl with the remaining parsley. 

4.  Heat a cast-iron skillet, sprayed well with cooking spray, over medium-high heat.  When it's hot, shake the excess marinade off the chicken and add it to the skillet.  Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through.  

5.  Drizzle the vinegar and oil over the salad and toss.  Add feta and toss again.  Divide the salad among two plates and add the potatoes around the perimeter.  Place a cooked chicken cutlet on each salad and serve.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Penne with Zucchini and Mint

This pasta is perfect for a weeknight.  We had some special impromptu dinner guests tonight, and it was easy to quickly pull this together while visiting at the same time.  Pasta with vegetables are a no-brainer, but pasta with zucchini and mint is a particularly special combination.  This duo is not only healthy, but it is refreshing and unusual enough to make even simple pasta with garlic and olive oil interesting.  The citrus works wonders, too.

Great zucchini is popping up at the farmers markets now, so make this now!  It's easy, delicious, and healthy.  The norm in my kitchen, or so I like to think.

Penne with Zucchini and Mint
adapted from Ellie Krieger's So Easy
serves 4


12 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4 inch half-moons
juice and zest of one medium-sized lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves


1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook penne according until al dente.  Drain.

2.  While the pasta water is coming to a boil, put the olive oil and sliced garlic into a deep skillet over medium-low heat.  Stir frequently, and cook until garlic is lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.  Add zucchini, stir, and then put a tight lid on the skillet.  Let cook for 6-8 minutes, or until zucchini is just tender.

3.  Add lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper to the zucchini.  Add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir everything to combine.  Stir in parmesan and mint leaves just before serving.