Friday, March 25, 2011

Grocery Bag - Night 5: Pizza Remix!

For the final night of the Grocery Bag series, I recycled the second half of last nights pizza dough to create a an entirely different type of pizza. And let's be honest, it's Friday so I'm feeling a little lazy. ;)

This post is less of a recipe and more of a suggestion. Obviously, if you have pizza dough and cheese at home, you can whip up any kind of pizza with a few other ingredients. Last weekend I made omelets with prosciutto, tomato, and asparagus and had some prosciutto left over so I decided to make that the main attraction on my second pie.

I started by rolling out the pizza dough as described in yesterday's recipe. I spread a very thin layer of truffle oil on the dough then topped with minced garlic and thin slices of shallot. I popped this into an oven preheated at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. I then placed a few thin slices of prosciutto on top and baked for another 3 minutes. Next, I topped the pie with a THICK layer of gruyere and put it back in the oven to melt. My final touch on the pizza was a small drizzle of truffle oil on top to add perfect flavor to every bite.

This pizza was one of the best I ever had and SO easy to make! I thought I would only eat a few pieces ... then 30 minutes later I looked down to find an empty plate. Oops! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grocery Bag - Night 4: Spring Vegetable Pizza

The final night of the Grocery Bag Series was Spring Vegetable Pizza. Yum!! What could be better than homemade pizza covered in great spring veggies. It's the best of both worlds: a crunchy gooey cheesy crust topped with sweet nutritious vegetables. Delish!

I'm going to get right into the recipe on this. Tomorrow, I'll show you a round-two pizza that I made with the extra pizza dough.

1 jar (12 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained well, reserving marinade, hearts quartered if whole
1 large bunch asparagus (1 pound), trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces, and halved lengthwise if thick
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen and divided in half (I saved 2nd half for a second night of pie)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
7 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (3 cups)

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, combine artichoke hearts, asparagus, and tomatoes. On a large piece of parchment paper, brush 1 dough half with artichoke-heart marinade and roll out to a 14-inch-long oval.
2) Transfer dough on parchment to a rimmed baking sheet and top with half the vegetables, leaving a 1-inch border. Brush border with marinade and season pizza with salt and pepper. Repeat to make second pizza - if making two.
3) Bake pizzas 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Sprinkle pizzas with cheese and bake until crust is deep golden and cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grocery Bag - Night 3: Steak with Swiss Chard and Garlic Bread

The third night in the Grocery Bag series was Buttery Shrimp and Radish Pasta. As mentioned in my intro post to the Grocery Bag Series, I decided to pass on this meal and skipped straight to Thursday nights meal: Steak with Swiss Chard and Garlic Bread.

Who doesn't love a great steak? And to pair it with one of the most nutritious greens out there is even better! Before tonight, I personally never tried swiss chard before but heard many great things. I absolutely loved the extra punch of flavor the garlic added to the chard. This green will definitely be a new staple in my house.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound skirt steak, patted dry and cut into 4 pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large bunch Swiss chard (1 1/2 pounds), stems cut into 1/2-inch pieces, leaves torn into bite-size pieces and rinsed (with some water still clinging)
1 baguette, split lengthwise

1) Heat broiler, with rack in middle position. In a small saucepan, heat oil and garlic over medium-high until oil bubbles at edges. Add 1 teaspoon garlic oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Season steak with salt and pepper and cook, in batches if necessary, until well browned and medium-rare, 5 to 7 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest while preparing vegetables.
2) Return skillet to medium heat and add garlic slices and 2 teaspoons garlic oil. Add chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Add leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until leaves are wilted, 3 minutes. Meanwhile, brush bread with remaining garlic oil, season with salt and pepper, and broil until golden and crisp, 2 minutes. To serve, thinly slice steak against the grain and serve with chard and garlic bread.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Grocery Bag - Night 2: Lamb, Potato and Leek Stew

Next up in the Grocery Bag is Lamb, Potato and Leek Stew. I couldn't wait to get started on this recipe. Before this meal, I had never prepared stew and definitely never imagined making stew with lamb since cubed beef stew is what I grew up eating.

Preparing this meal is a bit of a slow process but it is totally worth the wait. Over time the leeks melt, infusing the air with their delicious aroma. Once fully combined and cooked down, this dish was incredible. The lamb was beyond tender and packed a great punch of flavor in every bite.


1 1/4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces (I had my butcher do this for me, it saved so much time and energy!)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 bunch leeks (1 1/2 pounds), white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and thinly sliced crosswise
5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered if large
1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley, for serving

1) Season lamb with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, cook lamb over medium until some of the fat has rendered, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until lamb is browned on all sides, 4 minutes.
2) Add leeks and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until leeks are translucent, 4 minutes. Add Broth.
3) Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, about 45 minutes. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes and lamb are tender when pierced with a knife, 15 minutes.
4) Season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, top with parsley.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Grocery Bag - Night 1: Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower & Chickpeas

Tonight's Grocery Bag meal is Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower and Chickpeas. Roasting chicken has become my new favorite way to prepare chicken. It's amazing how many different ways you can season a chicken, then pop it in the oven for a while and BOOM! You have a super tender and flavorful meal. This recipe was no exception!

The combination of the cauliflower, tomatoes and chickpeas married very well with the juicy meat. Every bite offered the perfect balance of both tender and crunchy textures and great flavor to boot!


1 whole chicken (3.5 to 4 lbs) rince, patted dry, and cut into 8 pieces (I had my butcher cut the chicken. It saved so much time and energy!)
Course salt and ground pepper
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1 small head of cauliflower, cored and cut into 2-inch florets
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1) Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees, with racks in the upper and middle thirds.
2) Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Carefully remove sheets from the oven and arrange chicken, skin side up, in a single layer. Roast on upper rack, 20 minutes.
3) Remove the chicken from the oven with tongs and transfer to another rimmed baking sheet, along with tomatoes. Add cauliflower, onion and chickpeas to drippings on first sheet and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Roast chicken on the upper rack and vegetables on middle rack until chicken and cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes.
5) Transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Grocery Bag Series

I'm a big fan of Martha Stewart and have been wanting to challenge myself to complete one month's Grocery Bag section of Everyday Food Magazine. The idea of having a set list of groceries and meals plotted out for every night of the week is a perfect idea. For those of you who aren't family with Grocery Bag, every issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine contains a section called Grocery Bag, designed to show you 5 weeknight dinners with one simple grocery list needed. The list is even printed on a tare-off sheet so you can bring the list to the store.

For months now, I've been checking out the recipes in this section and never find more than one or two recipes that I'd actually enjoy eating...until now! The April issue had 5 great recipes that I challenged myself to make.

Here is a breakdown of April's dishes:
Monday: Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower and Chickpeas
Tuesday: Lamb, Potato, and Leek Stew
Wednesday: Buttery Shrimp and Radish Pasta
Thursday: Steak with Swiss Chard and Garlic Bread
Friday: Spring Vegetable Pizzas

Everything sounds great, right? I was really excited about this list. I've never had lamb, potato and leek stew, nor have I ever had swiss chard so I couldn't wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work!

The next few posts will be each of the nights recipes. But I have to admit, I actually tweaked the list a bit and skipped out on making Wednesday's meal. My boyfriend really wasn't interested in trying shrimp and radish pasta and since I do cook for the both of us, I agreed to pass on this dish. But don't you worry, I tweaked the pizza recipe a bit and whipped up my own version later in the week.

I hope you enjoy checking out these recipes as much as I did cooking them... and shopping for all the ingredients for that matter. I went to the grocery store with a friend, who had no idea what I was getting myself into! :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream!

What says Happy St. Patrick's Day more than alcohol infused cupcakes?!? I can't think of anything! I came across the below recipe for Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Buttercream while browsing through Cupcakes Take the Cake blogspot. This recipe was originally posted on then in a weird twist, my favorite blogger Annie's Eats then AGAIN in an email from my friend.

It was fate! All signs were pointing toward me making these cupcakes and who am I to deny fate? (Or baking with alcohol!) ;)

The stout made the cake extra moist and the Bailey's Irish Cream in the frosting packed the perfect punch! (Maybe because I added a little extra than advised ;) Regardless, these were definitely a hit!

Cupcake Recipe:

1 cup stout beer
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Irish Buttercream Recipe:

4 to 5 cups confections sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temp
4 to 5 tbsp Irish Cream Liqueur


1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake cups with paper liners.

2) Put the butter with the stout beer in a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Cool slightly.

3) In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a mixer bowl, beat the eggs and the sour cream together. Add the beer, butter, cocoa mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat briefly just to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined, making sure to incorporate little pockets of flour on the bottom so that the batter is of equal consistency everywhere.

4) Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 if you want domed. Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely to room temperature.

5) For the frosting, in a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until incorporated. Slowly drizzle the Irish Cream and whip until combined. Add the rest of the powdered sugar until your desired consistency has been achieved.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Semi-Failed Carbonara

Two months ago some friends and I had dinner at a new casual dinning restaurant in Union Square called Vapiano. I was in awe as soon as I stepped through the door. The venue is a seat yourself establishment with stations for ordering your meal. They have separate sections of the kitchen for salad, sandwiches, pizza and pasta. It is almost fast-food, but much more fresh!

With so many noodle and sauce options, I had trouble selecting a dish but went with Campanelle Carbonara. Believe it or not, I never had carbonara before this night which is seriously weird since I love making sauce out of butter, heavy cream and cheese. Needless to say, this meal was AMAZING!! And I was thrilled to watch the chef make my sauce from scratch. How fun!

So...the point of this post is to touch on my replication of the sauce which was not so successful. When I started making the dish, it took me far too long to chop the bacon and shallots, which left me focused on that, while ignoring my noodles. I ended up having to toss a batch of noodles because they were pure mush! THEN when I got things in order, I sort of burnt the butter, bacon and shallots. Oops! I can't win em all. This definitely didn't taste like Vapiano's, but was still tasty! Plus, I'm sure if you follow the directions better than I, it will turn out perfect! ;)


6 bacon slices, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 shallots, diced
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
12 oz of your favorite noodle (I went with elbow)

1) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute shallots until softened. Stir in bacon, and cook until bacon is evenly browned. Stir in garlic when bacon is about half done. Remove from heat.
2) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta, then return it to the pot.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cream, and shredded Parmesan. Pour the bacon mixture over the pasta, then stir in the cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ravioli with Artichoke Sauce

I love the taste of artichoke hearts and don't work with them very often. The March Italian issue of Food Network Magazine had a recipe for Agnolotti with Artichoke Sauce. Obviously, I had to give it a try!

I couldn't find Agnolotti at my local grocery store so I substituted with regular cheese raviolo. I have to say, this recipe is insanely easy to make is packed full of great flavor. I absolutely love that both peas and artichokes are part of the dish. What a perfect way to get your veggies for the day! This is definitely worth trying!

9 oz package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and coarsely chopped
1 cup half-and-half
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 lb refrigerated cheese agnolotti (in my case, cheese ravioli)
1/4 cup finely grated parmesam cheese
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

1) Combine the artichokes, half-and-half, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/4 tsp salt in a large skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook until the artichokes are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and continue to cook, covered, until tender, about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Discard the garlic clove.
2) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the agnolotti and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and transfer to the skillet with the sauce.
3) Add the parmesan to the skillet and gently stir until the pasta is coated. Thing the sauce with some reserved cooking water. Stir in the basil.

AND BAM! Dinner in 25 minutes!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Italian Steakhouse Night

Food Network Magazine for March is titled the Italian issue. When I saw this, I almost screamed! I absolutely love pasta and just recently made homemade pasta for the first time and loved it. Naturally, I have been dying to try other sauces and now have the resources!

Since I just did one red sauce, I decided to go with another for comparison and went with their Chunky Tomato Sauce. I served the pasta in small ramekins along side fillet Mignon.

1 oz diced salami (I left this out)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 28oz can plum tomatoes
6 basil leaves
pinch of sugar, salt and pepper
12 oz cooked rotini

1) Cook salami and garlic in a skillet with olive oil over medium heat, 1 minute.
2) Drain plum tomatoes (reserve the juice); crush into the skillet and cook 5 minutes.
3) Add the tomato juice, basil and salt, pepper and sugar; cook 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup of water and simmer until thick.
4) Toss pasta and top with grated parmesan and basil.

Over the next week or so I'll be trying out a few of the different sauce recipes. I hope they inspire you to try something new. ;)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Triple Chocolate Vanilla Buttercream Heaven!

Dunkin Hines recently came out with a new cake called Decadent Triple Chocolate and I was lucky enough to find out for FREE! :) My love for baking is apparent to all those who are close to me so it was no surprise when I found two boxes of the mix sitting on my desk one afternoon. I was so hooked on the thought of triple chocolate cupcakes that I went straight home and whipped up some cakes with Butter Lane Bakery's Vanilla Frosting.

They were DELISH!!!

I would love to give you the recipe for the vanilla buttercream, but since it belongs to Butter Lane I don't think I can. But I will tell you, it was by far the BEST frosting I have made yet!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dinner in a Flash!

After a long weekend of running around, the last thing I wanted to do on Sunday was cook. My boyfriend was heading to the gym so I asked him to pick me up a pizza...real healthy, I know! After waiting an hour and no boyfriend in sight, I decided I had to make something to eat or I'd wither away!

I didn't have much to work with. Onions, scallions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, frozen veggies and pasta. Yikes! Plenty of vegetables but no prepared pasta sauce in sight. I jumped on-line and listed all the ingredients I had and BAM! The perfect recipe popped up: Bow Ties with Sun-Dried Tomato and Scallion Cream. 15 minutes later... I had a great meal, packed with flavor. :)

5 scallions, white and light-green parts only

6 tbsp chopped reconstituted sun-dried tomato halves, about 12 halves
1 cup light cream or half and half (I used heavy cream ;) it was all I had)
1 lb bow tie pasta noodles
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1) In a blender or food processor puree the scallions with sun-dried tomatoes and 1/2 cup of cream.
2) Cook noodles as directed on package. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain and toss with puree, the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, 1/3 cup of reserved pasta water, salt and pepper. If the sauce seems to thick, add in more reserved pasta water until you are satisfied with the consistency.

This was one of the quickest meals I've prepared in a long time and was PACKED full of flavor. I absolutely loved that I was able to prepare a great tomato cream sauce with practically no effort at all. You have to try this!

Recipe courtesy of