Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tabbouleh

One wedding-related detail I hadn’t anticipated is the stress of hosting out-of-town guests. Honestly, it has probably troubled me more than the big event – keeping the cat-hair level down, vacuuming the rugs every day, tidying the bathrooms, etc. And feeding all the extra mouths around.

To minimize my stress, I’ve been relying on easy one-off dishes that can be snacks or meals, depending on the person. That way, I can feed someone who just landed from a 5-hour flight, someone who just stopped by for a snack or someone who wants a light meal.

Salmon and lox are great; so is brie cheese with an assortment of crackers and jellies. I recently made tabbouleh salad for some house guests and it is the perfect, healthy and flavorful salad to make and just keep in the fridge – it only gets better with time!

I used to think tabbouleh was gross hippie food, but now I find it to be a wonderful cool, crunchy salad for spring and summer. Grant asks for it literally all the time.

Adapted from Ina Garten (she uses way too much salt in this!)

Tabbouleh

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup bulghur wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 T chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and medium-diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the bulghur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Add the scallions, mint, parsley, basil, cucumber, tomatoes, salt and the pepper to taste; mix well. Serve or cover and refrigerate.

I sprinkle a little extra sea salt over the top to finish. Scrumptious. This is definitely my new potluck go-to dish.

This will be last blog post before my wedding, and in case you miss me, here’s a picture from my bachelorette party/wine tour (which was perfect for me because it included a wine-branch wreath-making party!). I don’t know where my friend Caitlin found these Mickey Mouse ears, but I wore them with pride.

See you soon, friends! xoxo

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Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken dishes are always interesting in the Crock Pot. Unlike fatty pork shoulders or beef roasts full of connective tissue, chicken doesn’t need a long braising time to yield a tender meat. Instead, sometimes chicken Crock Pot meals get a bit stringy and dry. You can avoid this, however, with flavorful braising liquids and by using chicken thighs.

I took a chance on this recipe from Real Simple and found it to be a nice pseudo-Indian chicken dinner. Tikka masala is typically a creamy tomato-based chicken dish with lots of Indian spices. I found the spices to be a bit light, so next time I will add a heavier hand to them.

Regardless, it smelled yummy while cooking and was warm and comforting. Perfect for a day like today, with 24/7 rain!

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt (or sour cream or heavy cream or creme fraiche)

In a slow cooker, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Place chicken on top, cover and cook until chicken is tender, 7-8 hours on low, 3-4 hours on high.

Meanwhile, cook some basmati rice or couscous or heat some naan bread for serving.

Just before serving, stir in the yogurt. Serve over rice. Garnish with cilantro, if you have it.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Chipotle Garlic Edamame

I made these on a warm Sunday afternoon when Grant was working in the garden and I was preparing meals for the week. We wanted an easy snack to go with a couple Modelo beers, and thank goodness we had extra beverages handy – these will burn your lips off if you’re not careful.

Edamame is wonderful just as it is, with a sprinkling of sea salt over the top. But saute it in herbs and spices and you have a whole new experience. I love this combination of smoky chipotle chiles in adobo, nutty garlic and crunchy sea salt.

Be sure to remove all the chipotle’s seeds and mince it as fine as you can – a big bite of chile will not be your happiest experience, even though the flavor is so rich and wonderful.

Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine.

Chipotle Garlic Edamame

Ingredients:

  • One 14-ounce bag frozen edamame pods
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo (stemmed and seeds removed), minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper

Cook edamame according to package instructions. Drain and pat dry.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat EVOO and chipotle, garlic and cumin. Add warm edamame pods and cook, stirring, until garlic is softened, 1-2 min. The pods will be bright green with flecks of red chile.

Now, you’re basically done! Remove from heat.

To serve, sprinkle with extra coarse sea salt (I used fleur de sel) and cracked black pepper.

And be careful before licking your fingers…

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Deviled Eggs with Anchovies and Basil

It seems like Easter was decades ago, but if I don’t see another deviled egg for another 4 decades, it will be too soon. I kid! Love these little monsters, ever since I was a wee one. And I’ve been wanting to try these decidedly adult deviled eggs since I read about them in Cook’s Illustrated. I love basil and I love anchovies, so why not bring them together in a creamy filling for a tender egg white?

Admittedly, I added roughly half as many anchovies as the recipe called for – 8 whole fillets just scared me, even though I love the fishy bodies, bones and all. But what I put in was perfect – it added a salty background, but wasn’t the main flavor, which I appreciated. The basil added a nice brightness that you normally don’t get from this popular pot luck food.

Deviled Eggs with Anchovies and Basil (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients:

  • 7 large eggs
  • 3/4 tsp whole-grain mustard
  • 3 T mayo
  • 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire saurce
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
  • 4 tsp minced basil leaves

Place eggs in medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand 15 minutes. Transfer eggs to ice bath to cool for 5 minutes.

When eggs are cool enough to handle, peel away shell and slice in half.

Remove yolks to a small bowl. Add mustard, mayo, vinegar, Worcestershire, anchovies, 2 tsp minced basil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix so there are no yellow lumps left. Fill pastry bag or Ziplock bag with yolk mixture, snipping the end to pipe the yolk mixture into the empty egg whites, mounding the filling 1/2 inch above the surface.

Sprinkle eggs with remaining basil. I also like to add a dash of paprika for color and heat.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Shrimp Linguine with Artichokes and Crispy Bread crumbs

I don’t know why, but whenever I think of linguine, I think seafood. There must be something about the shape of the noodle – not too thick, not too thin – that makes it easy to twirl around a bite of firm sea fare. And it goes so well with the typical buttery or white-wine sauces of seafood pastas.

This recipe is a wonderful and simple way to enjoy your own linguine seafood pasta, with the splendors of artichoke hearts and crispy herbed bread crumbs scattered on top. The artichokes are the marinated variety, so the brine adds a salty effect to match the buttery shrimp and garlic-infused topping.

I used to hate bread crumbs on top of otherwise soft foods, but now that flavorful crunch is my favorite thing, and you’ll see me sneaking extra pinches of bread crumbs to my plate.

I added some garlic to the dish because I can’t fathom cooking pasta without it. It not only makes your kitchen smell wonderful, but garlic goes with pasta like peanut butter goes with jelly.

Even as a leftover, this was delicious … and I rarely enjoy seafood leftovers (they usually become too fishy).

Adapted from Real Simple.

Shrimp Linguine with Artichokes and Crispy Bread crumbs 

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 3/4 lb. linguine
  • 3 T EVOO
  • 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 lb. peeled, deveined large shrimp
  • 12 oz. (about two jars) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Cook pasta to al dente, reserving 1/2 c. of cooking water; drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, heat 2 T EVOO in large skillet over medium. Add bread crumbs and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper, stirring 1 min. Add garlic and stir until crumbs are browned, 2-4 min. Mix in parsley and transfer to a bowl. Wipe out skillet.

Heat remaining 1 T EVOO in skillet over medium-high. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and saute until opaque, 4-6 min. Add artichoke hearts and pepper flakes and cook until heated through, 1-2 min.

Add pasta to the shrimp in the skillet, along with reserved cooking water and toss until thickened, 1-2 min.

To serve, plate the pasta and top with the bread crumb mixture.

Season to taste, of course.

This dish pairs extremely well with a crisp white wine and a simple salad. And it’s easy enough to have on a weeknight, even if company is over (very little chopping required).

I love eating these simple dishes on the front patio, where I can watch all the people running around Hanes Park or walking a dog or two.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Bridal Shower

So far, one of the best things about being engaged is the number of parties that get thrown in your honor. Showers, welcome-to-the-family gatherings, bachelorette parties … more excuses to wear pretty dresses! From casual to semi-formal, the celebrations have been keeping me busy in the last month of the nuptial countdown.

Even though my bridal party lives 3,000 miles away, I am fortunate enough to have a team of amazing friends in North Carolina who have taken it upon themselves to organize, plan and host all these bridal traditions.

The ladies threw me an amazing bridal shower last month, full of all my favorite Southerners, lots of food and LOTS of presents. Here is a picture of me when I walked in and saw all the gifts…

The following are some snapshots taken during the party, from my practically-professional photographer friend Ashlie. Check out her blog!

Sugar cookies for dipping in chocolate…

Deviled eggs…

Pesto, mozzarella and tomato bruschetta…

Fine china…

White tulips in white milk glass vases…


The cheese plate…

The spread…

One of my talented friends made this cool banner from pages of an old cookbook, which she covered with pictures I had pinned on my “Love” Pinterest page. So thoughtful!

My cheeks hurt from laughing…

To hold the dress

I couldn’t do ANYTHING without my women friends, so here’s to them! And another special thanks to Ashlie for taking so many photos. (Below: me and Seton)

To those who organized and those who came to celebrate, THANK YOU! Now, on to the 28th…

xoxo