Saturday, December 3, 2011

Birthday Bruschetta

My co-worker Sally just celebrated her birthday so, at her request, I made her bruschetta for her birthday treat!  Bruschetta (pronounced brew-skeh-ta or brew-sheh-ta).  I little history, because we all like to know about what we eat, yes?

Bruschetta is an antipasto from Italy whose origin dates to at least the 15th century. It consists of roasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Variations may include toppings of spicy red pepper, tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat, or cheese.  The most popular recipe outside of Italy involves basil (check), fresh tomato (check), garlic (check) and onion (hmmm maybe next time) or mozzarella (check). Bruschetta is usually served as a snack or appetizerFollowing a semantic shift, some Americans used the word bruschetta to refer to the topping instead of the dish. Many grocery store chains in the United States now sell bottled "bruschetta," which is typically tomatoes, onion, garlic, and herbs.

Ok on to the cooking!

First cut your tomatoes in half and the seed them.  This keeps your topping less watery, another reason that plum/roma tomatoes are used.  Larger beefsteak tomatoes 1. are only hot house (eew) in the winter and 2. are much "wetter".

I simply run my thumb under the seeds and they come right out.  There are 3 - 4 "chambers" of seeds in each tomato so make sure you get them all.

I found these really cute miniature baguettes at the store...ok who am I kidding, I used these only because this was the only baguette they carried!  I was a bit shocked seeing how they carried "everything" French bread, rye loaves, wheat deli hot dog buns. One would think that a French baguette would be consumed more than those other items. Anyway, they were just as good and suited my needs.  I did have to bake them since they were only par baked. 

Next removed the pretty green leaves from the stem and chop of any little stems on the leaves.  Then chiffonade the basil.  This is a technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips.  You stack the leaves in a neat little pile (see cooking is made for ocd people like me), then make a little roll of the herbs (real garden herbs people, stick with me here).  Then chop into small strips.

Cube the mozzarella.  I did about 1/4 in cubes.  Now I think that fresh mozzarella is fantastic but it wasn't in my budget for a recipe calling for 3c. 

Combine all the prepped ingredients.  If you're storing this over night you may want to mix in a bowl that has a lid if you have one.  Less dishes!
Everybody in the pool!

See all those beautiful flavors being friends.  Trust me they'll be a party in your mouth!
After marinating overnight.
I cut the bread at work and toasted them in a toaster oven.  Worked great (see college folk you can do this too and totally impress your friends).

Here's your reward!

You can serve with the topping cold or...

Broil it a few minutes and get the cheese warm and gooey.  I personally preferred the warm gooey version but who am I to judge. So Sally I hope that your birthday was amazing.  Glad I have gotten to know you!

Until we eat again!

Tomato tomato bruschetta


  • 10 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, stems removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 French baguettes
  • 3 cups cubed mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the oven on broiler setting.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, pepper, and mozzarella. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes or overnight.
  3. Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown.
  4. Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the baguette slices.
  5. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our first Thanksgiving at our home

This is the first year that we had Thanksgiving at our home.  We were blessed to be able to host family and share a meal with them.  This year we made grilled asparagus, brown sugar ham, italian sausage stuffing, and mashed potatoes.  I got a little bit to involved in my multitasking at times to remember to take a few steps may me missed.

A few facts to chew while you read.  Did you know that Thanks giving dates back to 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast? This is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two hundred years, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn't until 1863 that President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

So for the grilled asparagus you need a bunch of asparagus, a plastic bag, olive oil, and minced garlic. 

Take said asparagus and pull of any weird bits.  Then you're going to break off the woody stems.  If you don't then you'll have some of the asparagus really chewy and basically an inedible bite.  This is easy.  Take the stalk of asparagus and bend it towards the end and let it break naturally.  Really the stalk does all the work.

Add everything to your plastic bag and let sit.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes on your grill, just make sure it's nice and hot...and watch for flare ups since you're using olive oil!

Ok so my confession here is that we didn't want to mess with the grill so we broiled them.  Same charred flavor but don't have to remember to check a grill and the oven.

The ham is a cinch.  Really we  found this recipe Slow Cooker Ham from All Recipes and it is so good.  I added orange zest for a little bit of change this year.  If you don't have a slow cooker (you should snag one this holiday) you can do it in a roasting pan covered with foil.

I have to add in here that I just got this pampered chef Microplane zester and I LOVE it! You can get one from my great friend Angela .  It zests and orange without getting the bitter pith!! Does nutmeg like a charm.  It's awesome!  Oh and after you zest that orange toss it in a pot of cider with cinnamon sticks, and whole allspice and perhaps a few cloves, let it simmer a bit and you'll bit super pleased with the results!

My happy little helpers!

Hubby really did most of the ham!  He is the best.  I am so very thankful that he loves to cook as much as me. 

Now we have a large crock pot but the lid never fits on the ham when we do this.  So we cover it with foil and a few hand towels and it does the trick.  Man was this good.  Don't forget to make ham gravy!  Basic rue (flour and butter) then add the ham juice and cream/milk if you like.

Now for the stuffing I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs Our Best Bites and my hubby really likes Italian sausage so I gave this a whirl.

Brown the sausage.  Now I'm one of those who likes my ground meat cooked and chopped in tiny crumbles.  I do not like the big chunks of taco meat, or in my sauce but I assure you, bigger chunks are ok here.  Really!  Don't chop it up. 

Add the celery, onion and garlic.  I omitted the mushrooms because I love my hubby and care about what he likes.

Then the grated apple.

Stuffing mix.  No it's not cheating if I use a stuffing mix, so there!

Pour the chicken broth over the stuffing then add the pecans and craisins.

Bake and here are the yummy results.  Next time thought I'll definitely use a spicy sausage!

Ok mashed potatoes!  Oh my these are such a great comfort food to me.   They go with almost any meal.  My mouth is watering thinking of them again...ok I'll be right back.

Ah, now that's better.  Let me say these potatoes are not for the dieter or the faint of heart.  Potatoes form Trader Joe's (I <3 Trader Joe's).  Peel and cube them.

I add pepper, cream, butter, and garlic salt.

Again one of the many uses of my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I ended up using about 1/3 c cream, 2 sticks of butter, 1 tsp garlic salt and fresh ground black pepper (the grinders are just about the same price as the containers of already ground pepper).  YUM!  Topped with that ham grave I mentioned earlier or with my chicken noodle soup...mmm.

Ok so there you have it!  My Thanksgiving dinner.  Ok, I didn't take pictures of the rolls since they were frozen and my guests brought dessert (apple and pumpkin pie...YUM!) and I totally forgot to take picture the night before of my homemade cranberry time my friends!

Is there something you love to make for the holiday meal? Hate to make?  Tell me all about it!

Until we eat again. what to do with all that Turkey?

If you're like most households you make this great turkey on Thanksgiving day, everyone stuffs themselves then seems to pass out on the couch.  Did you know that its not really from the tryptophan? Yes turkey does contain a small amount of tryptophan (which really works best on an empty stomach) but really it's the eating of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner that makes a nap irresistible!  The average dinner is about 3000 calories and just shy of 250g of fat!!  All those lip smacking carbs and heavy foods kick our body into overdrive just to digest all of that.  Not to mention if you have a glass of might as well eat in your pjs with a pillow.

Anyway back to the couch or wake up from your siesta seeing the kitchen chaos so you begin to clean and then either send leftovers home with your guests or spend the next week racking your brain for what else you can use this turkey in. 

Well I do a few things with my left overs: Ham and cheese melts, omelets, Thanksgiving quesadillas, turkey club sandwiches, and so on.  But one of our favorite recipes is chicken noodle soup (you can sub in turkey instead)!  Especially with the temps dropping its just so comforting.

In a large stock pot, add water, leeks, carrot, ginger, peppercorns, and chicken.

This was already cooked...tried to get the hubs to take pics but he just likes to cook.

Cover and let this cook.  Now start the noodles.  Yes I make my own noodles for soup.  You just can't beat it!  You know those thick al dente noodles you ate at your grandmas or the local diner? Oh man those are the best.  For those of you who really just think its too intimidating (at least promise me you'll try it once) I recommend Reames noodles, located in the freezer section of your local grocery.  There as close as you can get in my opinion.
So combine the flour, eggs, milk, salt, and butter.  Knead for about 10 min then let rest for 10.  I am immensely blessed to  have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer so I use this with the dough hook.

Roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick.  Up to this point my hubby did everything (Thanks babe!) so now he wanted me to do this bit.

Cut into desired shapes, hubby requested long noodles even though I tried to sway him to squares.  I just use my pizza cutter since I don't have a fancy pasta cutter.    So just cut long lines.  I'm not picky about if they are all the same width or straight.

Now make perpendicular cuts at the desired length.

Look at all the pretty noodles!


Once the chicken is totally cooked, strain the broth and let the chicken cool.   Return the broth to the pot and peel and chop carrots and ginger and chop some celery then toss into the pot with a few chicken bouillon cubes.

Hubby took over again so this is the only pic until I add the noodles!
Bring all the above to a boil.  Make a cornstarch slurry while you wait.  When the boiling begins add the noodles!  Let it boil a bit before you add the slurry as the flour on the noodles will also thicken.  Add as much or as little of the slurry as you like to thicken accordingly.

 Shred the chicken then add to your soup and the soup is ready.

After not all that much work, here is what you get:


Um I strongly advise using a sieve or a cheese cloth for the peppercorns...or you'll have a bit more work in store.
And what's better than chicken noodles with mashed potatoes...ok maybe mac and cheese, but I'm still searching for a good homemade recipe!

Here's the recipe.  I'm working on figuring out how to get it to print here...sorry :)  ANy tips would be greatly appreciated!

Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 leek, sliced in half and thoroughly washed
  • 1 carrot, chopped in half
  • 3-inch chunk fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 chicken breasts on the bone, with skin removed
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
  • 3/4 c peeled and sliced carrots
  • 1 c sliced celery
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water 
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk (more or less as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Pour 10 cups water into a big stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the leek, carrot, hunk of ginger, and peppercorns.
  2. Skin the chicken breasts, remove any excess fat, and add to the pot. Allow the broth to come to a boil, and then turn it down and let simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked and tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. While the broth is cooking start the noodles. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
  4. Add the beaten egg, milk, and butter. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Let rest in a covered bowl for 10 minutes.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired lengths and shapes. Set aside.
  6. Once the noodles are done and the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken and allow to cool. Strain the stock and discard the leeks, carrots, ginger, and peppercorns.
  7. Add the strained broth, bouillon, chopped ginger, sliced carrot and celery to the pot.
  8. Keep the soup at a simmer while you remove the chicken from the bone and shred finely using a fork.
  9. Turn up the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Add the noodles. The more flour on the pasta from rolling it out, the thicker your soup will be.
  10. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the cornstarch with the water until smooth. Add half to the soup while stirring. Allow to boil until thickened to the desired consistency. Add the shredded chicken and serve.
Until we eat again!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A crazy thing I'm addicted to

Seaweed!  Yes that green floaty stuff from the "pond".  Now wait just a second before you click away form my post.  Seaweed is a very popular food.  Its used in sushi, and is very popular in coastal areas mainly in the Eastern hemisphere.  Whether you know it as nori, zicai, gim or just that green papery stuff, you've eaten it in some form probably several times (heard of  alginateagar or Check your food labels sometime).  
Um...yeah I see that coffee spot on my desk...NOW.  Unfortunately I have consumed the rest of the package so a new photo op was not possible.
Trader Joe's has a Roasted Seaweed snack that is just amazing.  Roasted seaweed snacks! Available in plain or Wasabi (pictured above) Each package is 2 servings and I'm not really ashamed to say that I eat the whole thing every time I open one.  I'm very thankful for my friend LH who introduced them to me.  A small warning though, when eating the Wasabi careful when licking your fingers!

Whew!  I had to stop eating them until I got my camera on I can go back to my happy noshing!

Until we eat again!