The in-laws visited last weekend so to celebrate we decided to grill a serious steak and potato meal for Sunday Supper. Everyone agreed the potatoes were to die for, so much so, that they almost stole the steak show. These tubers taste zingy, tart, tangy and salty. The skins are split and cracked on the outside, anew reveal fork-tender potato on the inside. The whole mustard seeds pop in your mouth with each bite. This potato recipe could very well replace french fries for me. And that’s saying something. YUM.
Italian, Italian, Italian, it’s all I’m pregnantly, I mean presently, craving at the moment. I want noodles with tomato sauce and CHEESE, cheese, and more cheese. Not just any old crappy cheese either, it’s got to be fresh mozzarella! I stumbled across a few different recipes for skillet lasagna and thought, “lasagna from start to finish, in less than 40 minutes? SIGN ME UP!”. As fast as you can chop an onion and sauté your choice of ground meat, you are almost ready to eat lasagna, it’s that simple and quick.
Bon Appétit’s September cover recipe is homemade pizza with “grandma style pizza crust”. I don’t know about your grandma, but my Slovak Nana never made pizza dough. Pierogis, halupki, layered jello, and a mean pot roast, yes. Pizza dough, no. I think what constitutes this pizza dough as “grandma style” is the fact that you have to be patient, like a grandma, and wait a seemingly endless 24 hours for it to cold-ferment and rise in the fridge, then another 40-60 minutes for it to be stretchable and rise again in the pan, and finally 20 minutes of bake time in the oven. Once it’s finished, however? It’s damn good pizza. A healthy layer of olive oil on the sheet pan lends a golden buttery brown crunch on the sides and bottom, and the crust with nooks and crannies is like a springy sponge. We liked it. A lot.
My good friend, beautiful Melissa, recently moved and held a housewarming party. I wanted to bring something different and fun. Knowing she’s a vegetarian, I opted for a “meal in a jar” of curried lentil soup. It looks impressive and is helpful to new homeowners for throwing together a quick meal. Step 1.) pick out a pretty jar (3/4 liter size is recommended) and you are halfway to making your soupy housewarming present. (Melissa, FYI, it’s recommended you hand wash these fancy French jars.) Step 2.) Simply layer lentils, alternating colors, then sun dried tomatoes, chili pepper, spices and bay leaves. Step 3.) tie a ribbon on it, make a recipe card and you are good to go!
We moved about the same time Melissa moved and we have been renovating our kitchen for the past 3 weeks. It’s been trying (I type this as I sit in my office amongst every single kitchen item I own surrounding me on the floor) but also going smashingly and I can’t wait to publish some before and after photos. After years of cooking on electric stoves (ok, the induction cooktop WAS pretty nice, I’m not going to lie), I’m finally getting my dream kitchen, complete with a gorgeous gas range and electric stove combo that I’ve always wanted!!! I’m seriously looking forward to cooking with FIRE.
Curried Lentil Soup in a Jar (inspired by Food Network)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- 3/4 liter sized jar
- 1 cup green lentils (divided)
- 1 cup yellow lentils (divided)
- 5 sun-dried tomatoes, not oil-packed
- 2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 good pinch of chile pepper flakes
- 1 dried chile pepper
- 2 bay leaves
Directions for layering jar:
- Place 1/2 cup of green lentils alternating with 1/2 cup of yellow lentils until 4 layers of lentils are made.
- Next place the sun-dried tomatoes on top of the yellow lentil layer.
- Mix the chile pepper flakes with the curry and turmeric powders and pour into a small zip-top bag. Layer the spice bag, chile pepper and bay leaves on top of the sun-dried tomatoes.
Ingredients needed by gift receiver for Curried Lentil Soup:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 red onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- salt, to taste
- Heat the butter in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic cloves and onion. Let sauté for 6 minutes.
- Add the contents of the spice bag, the bay leaves and chile pepper from the Curried Lentil Soup mix and cook about 3 minutes.
- Add the rest of the soup mix and 8 cups water or vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and let simmer until the lentils are soft, about 1 hour.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Serve with crusty bread or pita!
The Hubs told me the other day he’s been buying SOME OTHER LADY’S banana bread on campus lately as a mid-morning snack. I felt as if I’d been slapped. Ok, so I haven’t baked in a while, but still!? I definitely had some rotten bananas on hand this week. Couple my rotten bananas with The Hubs eating some other woman’s bread and I definitely wanted to make banana bread! It only takes a couple of rotten bananas and an hour or so worth of your time to make delicious warm homemade banana bread. Totally worth your extra effort. I like to add Greek yogurt and poppy seeds to my banana bread. I’m not a nut fan but poppy seeds give it that extra little pop and tiny crunch that is just perfect.
I went to the doctor earlier this week for my 17 week pregnancy checkup and found out I haven’t gained ANY weight, (like, to the ounce!), since my last visit over a month ago. So what’s a preggo to do? Why, make chocolate chip cookies of course! I watched a clip from Martha’s main guy Thomas on his web series, Kitchen Conundrums, about how to make your cookies 3 different ways cakey, chewy, or thin and crispy. I opted for thin and crispy and oh boy, are they ever!
It’s no secret, hands down, my favorite restaurant in Nashville is Mas Tacos Por Favor. I would choose it over all the current critically acclaimed Nashville restaurant names: Husk, Etch, even Rolf & Daughters (the latter two being my other favorites when money isn’t too tight)! Mas Tacos is located in a “currently-it’s-going-through-a-regentrification” neighborhood across the river in East Nashville. This means every fourth house on the street is a renovated gem of a bungalow, and all the others are in desperate need of love. The area is a tad bit sketchy and I’m pretty sure The Hubs would have declared the location somewhere to avoid if only the food wasn’t so dang tasty! Mas Tacos is a food truck turned brick and mortar with tattered, mismatched, junky seats and tables from various decades. The menu is colorfully written in chalk on a board above the ordering window. The tiny building is NOT air conditioned and you’d better bring some paper money because it’s cash only, baby (an ATM is located in the back in case you forget). A line of hungry customers almost always weaves through the place and out of the front door. No other place in this city (planet?) exists where I’d wait in line outdoors in Tennessee’s 95% humidity only to dine off of paper plates on second-hand furniture with no a/c in sight. This is that one and only place; the food is that good.
I’ve taken a small hiatus from cooking, writing and socializing for the past two months. July and August have been a whirlwind of brutal change for me! We sold our condo and moved from the bright downtown city core to quiet suburbia. No more car alarms, helicopters, sirens, or gunshots! When you turn off the lights at night it’s DARK. No more city glow nightlight shining into your bedroom. It’s hard to sleep at night without the city noise. If you remember, my last post was a recipe for energy bars. This was mainly because I was finding I couldn’t stay awake during the day and also had an insatiable hunger… all because I am pregnant! It’s true, I’ve got a big ol’ belly that only continues to grow and as of today I’m just over 4 months pregnant.
I saw a recipe on The Kitchn’s site for energy bars and was intrigued. You never know what they might be putting in those energy bars on the shelves at the store. I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat an energy bar instead of my own arm if I was starving and stuck in a snowstorm, but it’s nice to know there’s a homemade alternative that doesn’t include any unpronounceable ingredients. This recipe is four ingredients of awesome; walnuts, dates, dark chocolate and salt. It took me about 20 minutes to assemble and then another hour in the fridge to chill and harden the top layer of melted chocolate. Super tasty, no added sugar (well other than the chocolate), and super portable.
Last Summer I posted my tired and true pesto recipe. I’ve been making my pesto recipe for so long, I could probably make it with my eyes closed (though I do not recommend doing this). I stumbled across a recipe for Genovese basil pesto in the 2013 July/Aug issue of La Cucina Italiana Magazine. The article mentioned most Americans have never understood how to properly prepare pesto. The article’s author often found American pesto “army green in color”, and “too garlicky”. My initial response to the article was “HARRUMPH!”, but then I began to wonder; how different could their recipe really be from mine? I mean, I LOVED my pesto sauce. I went ahead and made the Genovese version last summer and it truly is the best pesto I’ve ever eaten. Pea green in color with just a hint of garlic, smooth and mild, yet still very earthy; this pesto was well worth the extra hassle of soaking the basil leaves. Since La Cucina Italiana Magazine’s last issue was Jan/Feb 2014, (even their website is GONE) I felt I should share this with America so we can all begin to make proper pesto! Thanks La Cucina, you will be missed. Continue reading