Friday, January 6, 2012

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'?

It is no secret that I am the baker, and Jesse is the cook in our relationship. Last month, however, Jesse took a job with somewhat irregular hours and I realized that I either need to learn how to become a better cook or revert back to eating things that I can toast or microwave. I decided that starting January 1, 2012 I would attempt to cook more and make a larger variety of things. With the help of Rachael Ray's Big Orange Cookbook, I am off to a great start (I am Rachael Ray's new number one fan). In fact, I was so excited to try out some of these recipes I started cooking a few days before the new year. Below are the four recipes I have conquered so far. To view all of the recipes I test out this year visit my What's Cookin' page.

Red and Green Winter Stoup

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 large roasted red peppers
  • 4 thick slices crusty whole grain bread
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup shredded asiago cheese


  1. In a medium soup pot, heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, onions, rosemary and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the kale in batches and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes.
  2. Using a food processor or a mini chopper, puree the roasted peppers. Stir the pureed peppers into the soup pot, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler; toast the bread, rub with the garlic halves and top with the cheese. Melt the cheese under the broiler for 1 minute. Serve the stoup with the toasts. 

    Tandoori Chicken with Mashed Chick Peas and Pepper and Onion Salad 
    (with Jesse's assistance)


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 inches grated ginger root
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons plus some for drizzling extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut across in 1/2
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cans chick peas, drained
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced or 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced or 1/2-inch dice
  • Hot banana pepper rings, drained and chopped plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • Handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced, plus 1 lime, for garnish
  • 4 pita breads


Preheat oven to 500 to 550 degrees F, as high as it goes. Cover a baking sheet with foil and set a baking rack on top if you have one - not necessary but use it if ya got it. 

Place yogurt in shallow dish and combine with ginger, 3 cloves grated garlic, chili powder, coriander, paprika, turmeric, cardamom, cumin and 2 tablespoons oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and coat in sauce. Arrange on baking sheet and roast 20 to 25 minutes until juices run clear. 

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 clove grated garlic. Pulse chop the chick peas in food processor then add to garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Mash with chicken stock and tahini and reduce heat to low.

Combine red onion, bell peppers, chopped hot peppers, to taste, 2 tablespoons hot pepper pickle juice, cilantro leaves, lime juice. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Wedge the remaining lime, reserve.

Warm and crisp pitas in hot oven last few minutes chicken is roasting.

Serve chicken with lime wedges to squeeze over top. Serve mashed chick peas alongside. Top the chicken with pepper salad. Cut pitas in half and pass at table.

Elsa's Baked Ziti
  • Salt.
  • 1 lbs. ziti rigate.
  • 2 c. ricotta cheese.
  • Grill seasoning, such as McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning.
  • P & R cheese.
  • 1-2 garlic cloves.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes.
  • 1 c. crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce.
  • Couple fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped.


  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Bring a big pot of water to a boil for the pasta; salt the water, add the pasta, and cook to al dente.
  • Drain the ricotta cheese in a strainer lined with paper towels. Place the drained ricotta in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish and season with some grill seasoning and a few handfuls of Parm cheese.
  • While the pasta cooks, heat the EVOO in a small pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch or two of the red pepper flakes and saute for a minute or two, then stir in the tomatoes and basil. Reduce the heat to low.
  • Drain the pasta and toss with the cheese mixture. Add the tomato sauce, top the pasta with more Parm, and bake until the cheese browns, about 15 minutes.

    Jaw Droppingly Delicious Asparagus Penne



      • salt
      • 1 lb thin asparagus, trimmed of ends
      • 1 lb whole wheat penne
      • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 tablespoon butter
      • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
      • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
      • 3/4 cup vegetable stock
      • 3/4 cup half-and-half
      • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
      • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
      • black pepper
      • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped, a couple of sprigs
      • 1 lemons, juice of
      • grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese 

    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water. Drop the asparagus in for 2 minutes, then remove, drain, and chop into 2-inch pieces. Add the pasta to the water and cook to al dente.
    2. To a skillet placed over medium heat, add the EVOO and butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the garlic and gently cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Whisk in the stock, half and half, mustard, and lemon zest. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and tarragon, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken. Add the lemon juice, and gently toss the asparagus and pasta with the sauce to coat. Turn off the heat and adjust the salt and pepper to taste, then top with grated cheese and serve.

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