Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Black Bean Soup

I have to give my sister Erin credit for finding this recipe. I really wished she lived closer so she could cook for me. A lot.

I must warn you, this recipe makes a rather large pot of soup. It probably would freeze well though and the leftovers make a quick, delicious lunch!

Black Bean Soup with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream

It’s great served with the sour cream, fresh lime juice, chopped tomato, a bit of cilantro (or in my case a LOT of cilantro) and your favorite corn chips. Oh – and a nice, thick slice of skillet corn bread.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Lunches are a challenge for me. Most days I’m satisfied with a simple turkey sandwich & a handful of carrots. Once in a while I’ll get all fancy-schmancy with a tuna sandwich or maybe even something as exotic as a salad. I know, right? I quickly get tired of the same ol’ fare though.

A week or so ago I was perusing an older Cooking Light and found this recipe for Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing. To my delight, I had all of the necessary ingredients for the dressing. It was quick to throw together (toss in the blender and process until smooth). Then I dug through my produce drawer to see what I could use in a salad. I found some romaine, baby carrots, a red pepper, and some snap peas. Ta-da! Lunch. See, there’s really no reason to settle for pb&j. Again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Turkey Pot Pies

A few weeks ago I had a hankerin’ (I don’t use that word often enough) for a turkey dinner. I bought one of those smaller bone-in turkey breasts and made a scaled down version of Thanksgiving: turkey, potatoes, gravy, green beans & a cranberry salad. It totally hit the spot and the leftovers were delicious – they provided several dinners for us. By mid week, we had eaten all of the side dishes and were left with plenty of turkey. What to do….what to do…..

I found this recipe for turkey pot pies and tried it. What appealed to me at first was the use of frozen puff pastry as a crust. It was so simple and the end result is a lovely, flaky brown crust. I also loved that this recipe didn’t call for cream-of-anything soup, unlike some of my other pot pie recipes. That’s great news for us lactose intolerant folk. (Did you know that dairy products are my krypotonite?)

Another thing I loved about the recipe is that we each got our own little pie. I happen to own a set of 12-oz ramekins, but if I didn’t I would probably try this recipe out in one large casserole dish and just lay the full sheet of puff pastry over the turkey/sauce/vegetables mixture. If anyone tries that, comment here and let us know how it worked out.

This (for me anyway) is a great recipe for using up those roast chicken and turkey leftovers. I loved that I had nearly everything for this recipe already in my pantry. The only thing I was lacking was the fresh thyme, and I was able to substitute a little dried thyme just fine. I think we’ll be having another bone-in turkey breast for our Easter dinner. Guess what I’ll be making the following Wednesday?

Thursday, March 25, 2010


This bread salad is one of my favorite recipes from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa on Food Network).  It’s also one of the loveliest salads I’ve ever made.  Even the garbage bowl is pretty:



The recipe can be found here, along with a printable version so I won’t bother retyping it.  Here are the highlights though! 


First, cube your bread:


Then toast it in a skillet with some olive oil.  Be sure to add enough salt and pepper.  The bread cubes play a significant role in this salad and you don’t want them to be tasteless. 


While the bread is toasting and cooing, chop your vegetables.  The onions get sliced nice and thinly:

If you’re in a hurry, you can just chop the cucumber as-is, but if you have the time it’s a good idea to seed them.  I use a spoon – nice and quick. 

The rest of the vegetables get a nice chop as well.  Keep in mind that you want this salad to be easy to eat; everything should be bite-sized.  Try to keep your tomatoes and peppers to about a 1-inch cube.  There’s nothing more awkward than trying to stuff a huge juicy piece of tomato in your mouth while maintaining your dignity.

Throw all veggies (red pepper, green or yellow pepper, cucumber, tomato, red onion) and basil in a bowl.  Make sure the bowl is big enough to give you room to really toss this salad.  For the basil, I’ve chopped it (like in the photo below) and I’ve also done a chiffonade.  I think I prefer the chiffonade.  (Want to learn how?  See this)


Add your toasted bread cubes and the vinaigrette.  Oh, and for the vinaigrette, I use white wine vinegar instead of champagne vinegar (only because that’s what I have in my pantry.)


You can serve this right away, or let it sit for 10-20 minutes and allow the vinaigrette to soak into the bread a bit.  This salad does not keep at all, so only make as much as you need for that one meal. 

Panzanella really is best if you eat it soon, but if you need to prepare the salad ahead of time, just keep all of the components separate.  Chop the vegetables and combine with the basil.  Store those in one container.  Make the vinaigrette (you can add a bit to the veggies if you like) and store in a separate little jar.  Toast the bread last, and when it’s cooled, then you can put it in a baggie for later.  I wouldn’t seal the bag all the way or your nice crunchy bread cubes will end up chewy.  bleh.