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Shaved Asparagus Pizza

May 2, 2012

I read a lot of food blogs. Like, a lot.  So much so that I can usually tell what fruits and veggies are in season more by recent posts than by trips to the grocery store.  (I know, it’s bad. I’ll go to a farmer’s market this weekend. Or to Trader Joe’s. Promise.)

Asparagus is very much in season. So I am told here and here and here.

My grocery store confirmed the fact.

Asparagus doesn’t really need to be dressed up much. This pizza just lets its flavor shine through.

You do have to shave it though. But you’ll be great at that. Just use your regular peeler and watch your fingertips.

I know I’m not your mom…

Take your basic pizza dough.  (I’m still trying to find my favorite.  Look for a post soon.)

Throw your mozzarella on top.

Toss the asparagus with some freshly ground pepper, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and parmesan cheese.

Throw the asparagus on top. Top with a bit more mozzarella and parmesan.


Shaved Asparagus Pizza (Recipe adapted from SmittenKitchen)

1 Tbsp of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 lb of asparagus
Your favorite pizza dough
4 oz. or so mozzarella
2-3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese, grated


Prepare your pizza crust as usual.  Recipes for good crusts can be found here and here and here.

Using a veggie peeler, shave the asparagus into ribbons. (Deb has great instructions on this process at SmittenKitchen.)

Move the asparagus to the bowl.  Add olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, parmesan and pepper. Toss until coated.

Spread a thin layer of mozzarella over the pizza crust.

Plunk the asparagus on top (I just wanted to say plunk) and then sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan.

Bake at 400 for  15 or so minutes for a single large pizza.  But really, I just look for the cheese to get brown and the crust to get crispy.


Tilapia Tacos with Pineapple Peach Salsa

April 26, 2012

I don’t get over my vacations easily. They tend to linger with me for days.  (You might remember how I tried to make this one linger here.)  So coming back from Costa Rica, I am already trying to figure out how to pretend I didn’t leave.

Fish tacos help.

If I were still in Costa Rica, I would add some fresh mango too.  But customs didn’t love my three pound bag of mangoes.  (They didn’t really like Dan’s hair gel or my nail polish either, but that is neither here nor there.)

So let’s pretend I’m still on vacay. Start with some do-it-yourself taco seasoning.

Lightly drizzle some olive oil on your fillet…

Season it with your spice mixture…

And bake it up.

But now is the best part… the fixin’s.  You know how I love a taco bar.

Take some purple cabbage.  Best color ever.

Fresh cilantro…

And any other lovely toppings you desire.  I went with fresh pineapple and pre-bought peach salsa.  I threw them into a container and let them fall in love for a few hours.  That way you can taste pineapple throughout the salsa.

Now back to our tilapia, remove it from the oven…

Look at that deliciousness. Pour a bit of lime juice over the fish, add salt/pepper to taste, and then break it into bite-size bits.

Then it’s taco bar time!

Tilapia Tacos with Pineapple Peach Salsa (Adapted from

1 pound tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon each: ground cumin, oregano and garlic salt
Flour tortillas
Red cabbage
Peach salsa
Fresh pineapple (or canned)

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Stir together spices; set aside
3. Place tilapia in oven safe dish.  Lightly coat with olive oil on both sides.
4. Season both sides.
5. Bake 15 to 18 minutes.

Then break into small cubes/bites.  Proceed to make your own taco.

Consume taco.


Costa Rica

April 23, 2012

Fish art at the Miami Airport

I’ll be back with more food soon, but for right now, I’m taking a break.  A vacation-style break.  The first grown-up, non-Spring Break, no-plans-but-the-sun kind of vacation.  And it’s in Costa Rica. I’m lucky, I know.

So for the time being, here is a glimpse of a vacation moment.  Enjoy.  And we’ll eat together again soon.

Baby Monkey!

Coconut milk… And chipped nails…

Our own playa escondida.

Dan and the Iguana. Sounds like a children's book.

Sunset in paradise.


Carb Heaven

April 18, 2012

I was recently told that cheese is addictive. Upon further research, I discovered that scientists have even called it “dairy crack.”  (I decided at this point to stop doing research because no information could top that.)  When I was told this, however, my first reaction was, “Wait, is bread too? Because that would explain a lot.”

And it would.

Since I was five years old, I would go with my mother to the grocery store every week.  I would do this for two reasons:

1. I got a York Peppermint Patty when we checked out (SCORE!)
2. The bread aisle smelled like heaven and rainbows and fireworks all bundled into one

I would stand in that aisle for ten to twenty minutes at a time, ostensibly considering the virtues of high-protein vitamin-enhanced whole grain bread versus Wonder bread.  In reality I was just breathing it in.  With each sniff, I felt happy and cozy and warm, all at the same time.

It was not unheard of for my mother to come upon me sitting on the floor in this aisle, light-headed from inhaling too much carb-scented joy.

So now in the throes of my recent culinary mania, I decided to bring that heaven just a little closer to my home.

And that is when I met Jim Lahey…

And by met, I mean discovered his recipe for No Knead Bread.

So here’s the deal with this bread. It’s so easy.  It just takes time.

There are only four ingredients: yeast, water, salt, and flour. (A note: I really and truly recommend using King Arthur Bread Flour.  I am not an ingredient snob, but I have seen the consistency of my bread change when I switched from Safeway brand to King Arthur.  Not to be a brand loyalist though, you can use any high protein flour you’d like. The higher the protein, the better the consistency of your bread.)

You start by mixing them together until they form a shaggy sticky mess of dough.

Then you let it sit.

For ever.

The recipe says 12 hours. I instead waited 18-24 hours, and it always created better bread for me than the 12 hour rise.

After 12 (or 18 or 24) hours, place your dough on a floured surface.  Gently fold it once or twice. Then you let it rise again for 15 minutes.

While it’s rising, find a towel and cover it with flour. COVER IT. You don’t want your dough getting stuck so I recommend using a lot.   If you want, you can do a layer of flour and a layer of corn meal on the towel.

Take your dough, pull it’s ends together on one side. That way the other side should form a nice ball.

Then plunk the dough ball, seam side down, on your towel.

Then wrap the dough up in it’s towel bed, and let it rise again for two hours.

While your dough is finishing its rise,  take your pot/dutch oven/etc. and place it in your oven at 350 degrees. Let it warm up in there for at least thirty minutes.

After two hours, it should look like this!

Once your dough is risen and your pot it hot, transfer the dough carefully to the pot. You want the seam up.

Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Then remove the lid and bake for 15-30 minutes with the lid off, until the crust is golden and your apartment smells like heaven.

Then remove and enjoy. You could also wait for it to cool down. I don’t have patience for that…

Now you may be thinking to yourself, but where is the flavor? I don’t understand? Plain white bread… come on.

This bread can easily be jazzed up with any flavors you so desire. Just add the herbs and cheeses you want when you mix the dough ingredients in the beginning. Then follow all of your normal steps.

Here’s an example I tried. For a good Italian-seasoned loaf, just add:

1-2  tbsp. garlic, finely chopped (this flavor cooks down so don’t worry about too much garlic)
1 tbsp. rosemary
1 tbsp. oregano

So bring some heaven to  your home and get baking….

“Crack” Cookies for a Drug Free School Zone

April 17, 2012

In college, about once a month the mother of one of my many (seven) roommates would send us chocolate chip cookies.

These cookies were known in our house as “crack” cookies. This could be for a variety of reasons. Though popular knowledge has informed me that crack is, in fact, whack (too soon?), these cookies were anything but.  They were made with shortening and chocolate chunks and Ohio-love. They were so addictive you couldn’t have just one.  I could eat a  tupperware-ful in less time than should be gastronomically possible.  Occasionally, on a crack cookie sugar rush,  I am fairly confident that I would have sold textbooks, furniture and other similarly non-essential items in order to obtain more. I’m not really joking…

And so, in what is a perfect show of my competitive nature and my desire to slowly destroy my body through gluttony, I vowed to one day make my own (drug-free) crack cookies.

And this weekend, I did.

On Saturday at a gathering to celebrate my roommate’s engagement (SHOUT OUT!), I brought these cookies because what’s a party without more chocolate?  After a little while, a friend walked up to me,  powdered sugar on her face and cookie in hand.  She looked at me, took a bite, and asked, with refreshing nonchalance, if I had laced the cookies.

That, my friends, is SUCCESS. (Though perhaps I should reevaluate my definition if it involves my friends asking if I have drugged them…)

One of the secrets of these cookies (and perhaps a source of their addictiveness) is their espresso powder.  That gives the cookies this dark chocolate depth.  The coffee flavor isn’t overwhelming so don’t be put off. It really just makes it a bit darker and richer.

I normally hate cookies that are this flat and thin.  But these stayed moist and delicious. It was like a visual trick every time I ate them.

So bake these up. Soon.

But be prepared for the consequences.  (I would make a Whitney Houston joke, but I am not quite that heartless.  Yet.)

I didn’t even adapt it, so I will just send you right to the recipe: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (from King Arthur Flour)

Maple Mustard BBQ Chicken… Say that ten times fast

April 13, 2012

Pinterest has eaten my life.

I wake up to my alarm and start scrolling through pins on my phone.  My most frequent interactions with my roommate are when we pin, repin, and like one another’s images.  I have been known to said, “Have you seen my board?” in everyday conversations.

It’s a little gross.

But every once in a while, I remember that Pinterest is more than just a way to justify my online shopping addiction. (If I pin all the things , I’m just defining my style. It’s constructive, obviously.) It can also be a source of inspiration and ideas.

So it is with gratefulness and love that I thank Pinterest for introducing me to Mustard Maple Chicken.

This recipe is so simple, so flavorful, and so impressive that I plan to put it into my dinner rotation. (Haha. I don’t have a rotation. That involves some form of organization and regularity. Just checking to make sure you are paying attention…)

So, here is what we start with:

After reading comments on the original recipe, and tasting some of the sauce myself, I decided to throw barbecue sauce in the mix.  I went with honey because it agreed with the sweetness/tang I was going for.

Mix the sauces together…

Smother your chicken with it…

Bake and serve.

See all of that extra sauce on the rice? It just made everything delicious. I couldn’t recommend this more.

Mustard, Maple, BBQ Chicken (Adapted from

4-6 Chicken Breasts
1/4 c. BBQ sauce
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. Maple syrup
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Fresh rosemary

Mix your liquids.  Cover the chicken with sauce, both sides.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink but not tough.


This recipe makes far too much sauce… In a good way. So be prepared to have some bread or rice or other carb-vehicle for further sauce consumption… I’m not speaking from experience, of course.

Crumb equals Yum

April 11, 2012
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A few years ago, in a fit of unbridled domesticity (much like one which began this blog), I called my grandmother to collect some of her favorite recipes. A Kentucky woman, born and bred, her recipes taste like butter and sugar and Paula Deen.  So, when I asked for her recipe for apple pie, I was not at all apprehensive when I heard:

One pound of sugar
One pound of butter
Three pounds of apples

(See the proportion of apples? That completely makes it healthy…)

THIS RECIPE IS WRONG.  Somewhere between Kentucky and DC, I must have replaced sticks and cups with pounds in what I think of as a real life game of telephone.  When I made this pie, I had butter-sugar juice shooting out of the sides like they were trying to escape from the fires of hell.  The apartment where I baked it smelled like burnt caramel for at least a week. And since then, I have cowered in fear of apple pie.

But now, backed by a few recent baking successes, I started looking for a new apple pie recipe.  And after a good amount of research, here are the things I have decided matter most in my ideal apple pie.  (Let’s just say that I hold these truths to be self-evident.)

1. I want my apples cooked. I don’t want them to be an unidentifiable mass of apple-flavored guts, but I don’t want them to be raw.
2. I want my crust to be crisp.
3. I want a crumble on top. None of this basket weaving nonsense.  That’s cute and all, but come on.

With this trifecta in mind, I started by melting some butter…

Every time butter melts on a stove, I know somewhere Paula Deen is smiling.

Then I chop up the apples. I went a little smaller this time.  The size you decide to cut your apples to is a question of preference. Obviously larger apples will take longer to cook.

Then I cooked ’em up. There’s cinnamon in there too.

Cook until the apples are tender but NOT soft. They should still snap when you break them in half.

And here’s where I skip a few pictures. Whoops.

Next you want to cook your crust on its own, with either pie weights or dry beans to weigh it down/establish its shape. I used lentils that have been sitting in my pantry for six months. Obviously I didn’t cook the lentils, because apple pie for dinner is a much more logical choice to make… Somewhere a nutritionist is crying.

Once you have cooked it for about ten minutes, take it out and remove the weights. You are really just trying to give the crust some strength.  Because when you pour in the apple mixture, it will just melt with joy.

Then, back to the apples! Once the apples have cooled, add flour to thicken up the mixture. Also add lemon juice/lemon zest to amp up the flavor. This won’t make the pie tangy, it just enhances it’s apple-ness. Sure, that’s a word.

Then pour them into your pre-baked crust.

Add your crumble.

Now, I am a crumble fiend. But I always have difficulty making crumbles myself. No matter how closely I follow the recipe, I almost always over mix the crumble so it loses its texture.

Instead of learning to make a crumble the right way with this recipe, I decided that I would show you how to deal with overly food processed crumble goo.  (I know, appetizing, right?)

Just take the dough, and drop little bits of it around.  It’s a DIY solution, and it worked out pretty well actually.

Crumbly Apple Pie (this is NOT for a deep dish, high as the sky apple pie, quite simply because I don’t have a deep dish pan.)

1 store bought pie crust
6 c. apples (I went with Granny Smith. You don’t want to choose apples that are too sweet on their own.)
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter (or less if you desire. You just need enough so that all the sugar and spices will stick to the apples.)
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
4 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. cinnamon


1 c. brown sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. butter, diced

Starting with the Crust:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Transfer pie crust to a 9-inch pie pan.  Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is lightly browned — about 10-15 minutes. Cool and remove the pie weights.

Now the pie!

Peel apples and cut into wedges.
In a saute pan, melt your butter.  Add  the apples, sugar, cinnamon. Sauté 10 to 15 minutes or until apples are tender, but not soft.

Remove from heat. Add flour, lemon, and lemon zest. Mix.

And the crumble:

Mix the crumble ingredients in a food processor, stand mixer or by hand. Mix until is JUST STARTS to form clumps. If you overmix, see the above photos for making it work.

Pull it together:

Pour your mixture into your pie crust. Top with crumble.

In your 425 degree oven, bake on the middle rack until the topping is golden brown — 50 to 60 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes.