Monday, September 25, 2006

Because free is meant to be shared....

When I first found this offer online, I was a tad bit skeptical, since free things always seem to have some sort of strings attached. However, you are looking at my brand-new free Senseo Coffee Maker, which arrived in the mail today.


All you have to do is fill out a short survey, promising to tell some people about it, and they send you a free coffee pot, along with the pack of free pods you see pictured. Of course, if you're like me, and prefer to use your own favorite coffee, I'd invest 10 clams in one of these, which allows you to make your own pods.

Sign up for your free one too!

Friday, September 22, 2006

That time of year....

It's that time of year again, when the semester has started back up again, and I find myself increasingly short on free time. Things will be slow around here for the next few weeks or so while I get into the routine, and then hopefully the posts will go back to at least 3 or 4 each week.

In the meantime, I did update my Top 5 on the side with some lovely soups, just in time for the first day of fall. I'm also up on a meme, so look for those answers sometime this weekend.

Until then, please bear with me and my once-or-twice per week postings!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hot and Sour Poached Halibut

There's something about poached fish that I really enjoy. Not only does the poaching ensure the texture of the fish is perfectly soft and cooked to perfection, but it's also a healthier preparation.

I was just at one of the local restaurants called Rice and Noodles, where most of their dishes come served in large bowls, usually over rice or noodles. It's always great to have an entire meal in one bowl, and this dish is perfect for it. This recipe is adapted from "101 Quick and Delicious Recipes."

It's a light dish with a flavorful broth that's perfect for lunch or dinner.

Poached Halibut

Hot and Sour Poached Halibut
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 lbs halibut filets or steaks
1 quart vegetable stock
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 c honey
2 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
12 thin slices fresh ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
scallions and cilantro, to garnish

If unable to find halibut, a similar fish, such as cod or haddock. Place in shallow dish, and sprinkle soy sauce on both sides of each piece of fish. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. In a flat bottomed pan, place vegetable stock, tomato paste, honey, vinegar, ginger, and red pepper. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Add fish to pan, and cook for 10 minutes, or until fish is almost done. Turn off heat, and allow to sit for an additional 2-3 minutes. Serve over rice, garnished with scallions and cilantro.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sundried Tomato Tapenade

Usually I make a list of ingredients for a recipe, and based on just reading them, I'll know whether or not a recipe will turn into something I like. But sometimes, even though you know the ingredients ahead of time, it's not until the final taste that you realize you have fallen very deeply into love.

This definitely goes on my list as one of the tastiest things I've made in the past few weeks. That's not to say the rest of the recipes weren't tasty, but sometimes one stands out.

Looking for a quick appetizer to serve with a glass of wine, or an elegant snack? Enter this tapenade. I'm already in love with sundried tomatoes, but combine them with garlic, basil, rosemary, and red wine vinegar, and you've got yourself something amazing. I imagine this would be excellent on almost anything you spread it on, from crackers to cheese to the base of a pizza.

Sundried Tomato Tapenade

Sundried Tomato Tapenade
1 c sundried tomatoes, either oil packed or dried
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp capers, drained
1 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

If tomatoes are dried, soak in boiling hot water for 30 minutes and drain well. If oil-packed, drain well. Place into food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Remove from processor and place into a bowl. Add garlic to food processor, and mince well. Add capers, and mince again. Return the tomatoes to the processor as well as all remaining ingredients. Process until texture is slightly rough, but well mixed. Chill for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sun-dried Tomato Peppercorn Biscotti

When I hear biscotti, I normally think of the sweeter varieties, perhaps dipped in dark chocolate, and accompanying a good espresso or cup of coffee. I'm a huge fan of biscotti, and I normally like to try a new variety every so often. I think, however, that some of my most favorite biscotti are the savory ones. They pair so perfectly with cheeses and wines and are wonderful to have on hand for impromptu parties.

I love this variety. It has one of my most favorite ingredients in it, green peppercorns, which are fantastic with the sun-dried tomatoes. These are very easy to make, and freeze well, so you can always have them on hand. Serve with a mild cheese, such as Edam or Monterey Jack, or with a nice red wine.

Sun-dried Tomato Biscotti

Sun-dried Tomato Peppercorn Biscotti
(courtesy of The Good Stuff Cookbook)

1/4 c (packed) sun-dried tomatoes, prepared without oil
2 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp green peppercorns, well drained and roughly chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1 egg (or egg substitute)
1/4 c olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Foil cover and grease a baking sheet. Snip the tomatoes into 1/4" pieces, cover with hot water, and allow to soak for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in peppercorns and rosemary. Drain the tomatoes, saving soaking liquid. Pat the pieces between paper towels to remove excess moisture. In a small bowl, beat egg (or substitute) with 1/4 c soaking liquid. Add the oil and mix well. Add wet ingredients into dry, and stir until just combined. Stir in tomato pieces. Mix well with hands until a stiff dough is formed. Divide dough in half, and shape into 2 loaves, about 2 1/2" wide.
Place into preheated oven and bake 25 minutes, until firm to the touch and deeper in color, but not overbrowned. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks, 10-15 minutes. Lower oven setting to 275.
Slice the loaves on the diagonal 1/2" thick, lay on cookie sheet, and return to oven for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the biscotti in the oven for 30 minutes more with the door slightly propped open. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, or wrap in foil and freeze for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw without unwrapping, spread on baking sheet, toast in 300 degree oven for 10 minutes or so.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Chipotle Black Bean & Rice Stew

Lately, it's been sort of rainy and damp here in Pennsylvania. I got home from class last night, and after walking back to my car in a cold drizzle, all I wanted was something hot and satisfying.

I love this stew. It's exactly the sort of feel good soup you crave when it's cold and rainy outside. It's filling, full of good-for-you things, and deeply satisfying.
It's loosely based on a recipe from Rachael Ray, whom I can't bear to watch on TV, but can appreciate some of her recipes.

This is also a quick recipe to make, and most things are stocked in your kitchen. You can easily have this on the table in no more than 45 minutes.
Chipolte Black Bean Stew

Chipotle Black Bean
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 c vidalia onion, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Knorr Chipolte Bouillon cubes*
1 c frozen white corn kernels
2 (15 oz) cans black beans
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (32 oz) carton vegetable stock
1 c white rice

Heat large pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, and saute bay leaf, onions, celery, and garlic for 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Crumble chipotle cubes into pot. Add corn and both cans of undrained black beans. Add chili powder, coriander, and cumin, stirring well. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and stock. Cover pot, raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add rice, and bring back to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until rice is tender.

*If unable to find Knorr Chipotle Bouillon cubes in your area, then substitute 1-2 well-minced canned chipotle peppers.