Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quote of the Week: A Homemade Life

"When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be." (page 2)

by Molly Wizenberg

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Summer Shortcuts

Summer is finally here! We get up early, go to bed late, spend lots of time outdoors, and less time in the kitchen. Still, I want to serve quick, healthy, and delicious summer meals. That's where Wegman's is a life-saver. If you're lucky enough to have this supermarket in your area, you know exactly what I mean.

Their Menu magazine is published quarterly. Although on sale in the stores, it magically appears in my mailbox. They know what a good customer I am! It features wonderful seasonal recipes (often using their own convenience or specialty items), suggested wine pairings, farm features, and cooking techniques.

This week I tried Grilled Jamaican-Style Jerk Chicken Breasts served with Mango & Cashew Salad. The chicken is packaged in the marinade and grill ready. The salad is simple to prepare, and delicious. Both will make future appearances on our summer table.

Mango & Cashew Salad

1 1/2 Tbsp and 1/3 cup Wegmans Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1/2 lb whole, unsalted cashews (Bulk Foods) (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Wegmans Clover Honey
juice from 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp)
3 bags (5 oz each) Food You Feel Good About Arugula Blend Salad
3 mangos, peeled, seeded, 1-inch dice (about 3 1/2 cups)

Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in skillet on MEDIUM. Add cashews, cayenne pepper and salt; stir in honey.
Remove from heat; toss, set aside to cool.
Whisk lime juice and remaining 1/3 cup olive oil in small bowl.
Combine arugula, mango and cashew mixture in large bowl; drizzle with dressing.

Notes: Mangos aren't popular with my family, so we used apples instead. We also made only 1/3 of the recipe.

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone with a food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button, head over to Beth Fish Reads, and link up anytime over the weekend.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lemon-Glazed Pound Cake

In a family of chocolate lovers, this simple lemon cake was still very appreciated.

After eating our first family dinner outside this summer, a lemon-glazed pound cake was a perfect dessert. Everyone enjoyed it and only two pieces of the second cake were left over!

Ingredients for the Cake:
14 tablespoons butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon oil, or 1 tablespoon lemon zest
1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
5 large eggs

Ingredients for the Glaze:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 loaf pans or a 9 to 10 cup tube or bundt-style pan.

In medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add the salt, baking powder, vanilla, lemon, and flour and beat for 5 minutes; the batter will be stiff.

Add 1 egg, beating until well combined. Continue to add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. When done, the batter will be very fluffy. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake the cake for 55 to 60 minutes for the tube or bundt-style pans, or 35 to 40 minutes for the two loaf pans, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Just before the cake is done, combine the lemon juice and sugar and heat over low heat (or in the microwave) until the sugar has dissolved; don't let the mixture boil.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Turn it out onto a wire rake or a serving platter. Poke the top all over with a toothpick and gradually drizzle the glaze over it, pausing occasionally to let it sink in. Let the cake cool for several hours before slicing.

We used lemon zest instead of lemon oil. (I zested my thumb by accident -- ouch!)
We sprinkled confectioners' sugar over the cake just before serving.
Chilled blueberries were served on the side.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Morning Fun

Today is supposed to be warm and sunny (at least until this evening . . . and I'm getting sick of thunderstorms). I have my day all planned out: reading Man Walks Into a Room by Nicole Krauss outside, writing in my brand new notebook on the porch, possibly cleaning out the old canoe with a friend, and watching a movie with my twin sister.

To start off such a promising day, I decided to browse through Martha Stewart's website. I'm finding all these recipes I want to print off; it's so hard to select just a few!

One of the recipes I'm especially excited about is one for Mini Almond Bunt Cakes. I'm thinking I will make these for a Sunday family dinner soon. For this Sunday's dinner, I'm making a Charlotte Russe!

Enjoy your Saturday!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Walnut-Pesto Crusted Turkey

Let me start off by saying this is one of my favorite dinners.

Now that that's said.

My mom found this recipe in the Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, and I was pretty excited to try this one. I have been a fan of Rachael Ray ever since we bought the Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats cookbook a while back. I find her recipes easy to follow and "yummo!" For those of you who aren't familiar with Rachael Ray, that's her catch phrase. Rachael Ray is to "yummo!" as Emerald is to "BAM!"

(If you so please, I would urge you to say "yummo!" after the first bite. But please, only around your closest friends or family. We don't want to embarrass ourselves.)


2 large eggs
1/2 cup store-bought pesto
1 cup walnuts, finely ground
3/4 cup bread crumbs
4 turkey breast cutlets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving


1.) In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the pesto to a second bowl. In a third bowl, mix the walnuts and breadcrumbs. Add the turkey cutlets to the pesto, turning to coat. Working with one at a time, dip the cutlets into the walnut mixture, then the eggs, then the walnut mixture again to coat.

2.) In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cutlets, lower the heat to low and cook, turning once, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes on each side; serve with the lemon wedges.

We use pie plates to dip the cutlets in.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Panda Cupcakes

During AP testing, my group of friends was a stressed out bunch. We would refer to fun and sleeping in the past tense, like it was something done and over with, never to be seen again."Before APs, I was able to sleep." Now, this got me thinking. What did I do before APs? Ah-hah, I thought, I baked!

One day in AP Lang, one of my friends was really stressed out. What could I do about it? I couldn't magically wish the tests away, but I could bake (which, in my opinion, is still pretty magical). I knew she loved pandas, so I decided to make her these panda cupcakes. What could be better than combining cute bears and fluffy cake?

So after APs, I made these cupcakes -- on a school night! (How scandalous!) They took a long time to make, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I did, however, take a break for dinner. And for dessert, I had a few extra mini chocolate chips . . . and some Oreos, and maybe a few mini marshmallows.

Transporting these bad boys to school was no easy task. I live 30 minutes away from school, so I take the bus. I put 13 cupcakes in a large wicker basket and 3 cupcakes in a small container for my panda-loving friend. I almost hit my poor bus driver in the head.

I gave the cupcakes to my friends once I got to school. They were a huge hit; everyone who got one had a smile on their face. A successful experiment, I would say!

Pandamonium: From the Hello, Cupcake! cookbook

16 standard vanilla cupcakes baked in white paper liners
16 mini vanilla cupcakes baked in white paper liners
32 Oreos
1 can plus 1 cup vanilla frosting
Black food coloring
16 mini marshmallows
32 mini chocolate chips
16 brown chocolate-covered sunflower seeds
32 pieces chocolate cereal O's
16 green paper liners

1. To make the arms and legs, cut 32 of the cookies in half using a serrated knife and set aside. Place the remaining 8 cookies in a food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer the cookie crumbs to a small bowl.

2. Place 2 tbsp. of the vanilla frosting in a small ziplock bag. Tint 1/4 cup of the vanilla frosting black with the food coloring and spoon it into a ziplock bag. Press out the excess air in each bag, seal, and set aside.

3. Using a dot of the remaining vanilla frosting, attach the flat side of 1 marshmallow to the top of each mini cupcake, positioning it on the lower third of the cupcake. Spread the vanilla frosting on top of the mini cupcake, covering the marshmallow to make the muzzle. Smooth the frosting. Snip a 1/16-inch corner from the bag with the black frosting and pipe a mouth just below the muzzle with a small vertical line up to the top of the muzzle. Pipe eye patches above and to either side of the muzzle. Add 2 chocolate chips, pointed sides in, for the eyes and a sunflower seed for the nose. Press 2 chocolate cereal pieces into the frosting on either side of the to edge of the cupcake to make the ears.

4. Spread the tops of the standard cupcakes with the remaining vanilla frosting mounding it with you spatula. Roll one half of the frosted cupcake into the cookie crumbs to make the black belly fur. Place the mini cupcake heads on their sides on top of the standard cupcakes, lining the faces up with the fur bodies. Snip a 1/8-inch corner from the bag with the vanilla frosting. Add a dot of frosting where the arms will go and press 2 of the cookie halves, cut side in, on either side of the mini cupcakes to make the arms. Pipe 3 small white lines of the frosting on the arms to make the claws. Pipe a small white highlight on each eye.

5. Cut jagged edges on the green paper liners with scissors, and arrange on a serving platter. Set each panda on a green liner.

I couldn't find chocolate covered sunflower seeds, so I used the black frosting.
I also didn't find the Oero cereal, so I died regular Cheerios with black food coloring.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The kitchen table....

Perhaps the World Ends Here
by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we
must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table.
So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the
corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it
means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms
around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-
down selves and as we put ourselves back together once
again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella
in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a
place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to
celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared
our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We
pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table,
while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last
sweet bite.

This poem appears in poetry speaks who i am, a collection of 100 poems aimed at teens, edited by Elise Paschen. It "spoke" to me. My thoughts on the collection may be found at Lakeside Musing.