Thursday, February 11, 2010

Recipe Roundup: Blizzard of 2010 Edition

Mr. Fritz and I have more or less been trapped in our condo since just before the thrilling and unbelievable Blizzard of 2010/Snowmageddon/Snowpocalypse series of storms started last Friday. I was one of the many who hit the grocery store in advance of the storm to secure enough food for the two of us to "shelter in place" for as long as necessary. Thankfully, I was able to go last Thursday morning, which meant that the shelves were still full and I didn't have to compromise on what I wanted to purchase. I even used some coupons! Anyway, among the meals I've made so far for my hot husband during this snowbound week:

Friday night: Beef Stew. For this, we had the pleasure of having the lovely Ms. Haley join us. She trudged through the snow in full snowproof regalia (ski jacket, snowboarding pants, boots) and even brought a hostess gift (barbecue sauce from Foster's Market!!), true friend that she is.

Saturday night: Okay, I cannot tell a lie; we ate out! On Saturday, we decided to take a walk through the snow-bombed streets of Arlington and wound up sidling up to the bar at Hard Times for some chili. I am not typically such a heavy meat eater - and Hard Times chili really is pretty much just a big bowl of ground beef with minimal but tasty sauce. This did hit the spot on a snowy day and it was pretty great to not cook. Plus, Hard Times is one of Mr. Fritz's favorite spots, so I was glad to be there with him.

Sunday night: My week of cooking truly commenced at this point. I have been having fun these past few weeks cooking in packets. For several weeks I was stuck on a set of Pam Anderson recipes for Foil Packet Shrimp, Foil Packet Chicken and Foil Packet Salmon (I'll post these recipes at some point in the next few weeks, since they are no longer on USA WEEKEND's web site). There really is nothing easier than making an simple sauce or marinade, tossing it with a protein and a vegetable, sealing the whole mixture into a couple of individual foil packets and roasting on a cookie sheet. But in the past couple of weeks, I've been lured into cooking in parchment paper packages, thanks to, once again, the January-February 2010 issue of Everyday Food.

This recipe for Salmon with Green Beans and Lemon Zest is great. For each person, you settle a 6-ounce piece of salmon on a long stretch of parchment paper, top with trimmed green beans, strips of lemon zest, some capers and a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper, seal up the parchment paper and roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for around 15 minutes. It's fun to see the parchment paper swell up as hot air expands it. And the result, taste-wise, cannot be beat. Yum!

Monday night:
For this meal, I returned to a recipe I had made before and really liked: Sausage, Mozzarella and Broccoli Rabe with Shells. I didn't see broccoli rabe at the store (and I wasn't about to try to hit another one in that pre-blizzard panic in order to see if I could find it someplace else) so I used plain broccoli instead and increased the boiling time for the broccoli to one minute. The really exciting part of this recipe, for me, was that I used mozzarella that I had made myself a week prior. That's right, I am officially a cheesemaker! I used this kit from cheese guru Ricki Carroll and followed her recipe for 30-Minute Mozzarella to whip up a pound of mozzarella using nothing but a gallon of whole milk, some rennet, some citric acid and a dairy thermometer. I don't have any photos of it, but it's really pretty tasty. The kit can be used to make 30 batches, so I'll see about photographing the next one.

Tuesday night:
Another oldie but goodie. Both Mrs. Robertson and Mrs. Glade reminded me recently, and separately, about the awesomeness of Italian Pot Pies, so I decided to use some ground beef that I had earmarked for tacos to instead whip up these beauties. I had to use Vodka Sauce instead of regular tomato sauce and dried dill instead of dried rosemary for the biscuit topping, because that's what I had on hand, but they were still completely delicious. Highly recommended!

Wednesday night: Another parchment package recipe from this month's Everyday food. This time, it was for Chicken with Mango and Ginger. I once told one of my editors that my motto in life was "Give me a mango and I'll make you a meal." I was serious then - I had/have a full slate of both savory and sweet recipes that involve mango - and this recipe will definitely be a great addition to my collection. Same general technique as with the salmon, but this recipe is a mix of chicken, mango, ginger, jalapeno and cilantro with a dash of olive oil. I served both of these parchment recipes over rice.

Odds and Ends: In addition to all of this cooking, I also did a bit of blizzard-related baking. I made The Original Mrs. Glade's Easy Chocolate Cake so that Mr. Fritz would have something to nosh on for breakfast along with his daily banana, and tried my hand at these Lemon Ice Box Cookies as a sweet. (Once again, awful baker that I am, these didn't turn out very well... But I fault myself and not the recipe. I fared better a couple of weeks ago with these Dorie Greenspan Peanut Butter Cookies from a recent issue of Parade.) And I have pretty much stopped buying bread. Now I bake off a loaf of 5-minutes a Day Artisan Bread every few days and use that for Mr. Fritz's lunch. This came in especially handy this week, as it was really nice to have fresh bread in unlimited quantities, instead of watching and worrying as a store-bought loaf slowly diminished with no trip to the store in sight. Good times!

So there you have it, my get-us-through-the-blizzard menu. I was really pleased that my planning pre-grocery trip last Thursday morning paid off. And I still have more meals to make with the stuff I purchased, since it doesn't look like we'll be moving our car from its dedicated spot in the frozen tundra any time soon.

Dinner Tonight: Stir-Fried Honey-Ginger Chicken with Peppers

Hello! I'm sorry I've been lax in posting. Especially since I have not been at all lax in cooking for Mr. Fritz. So, without further ado, let me tell you about what I made tonight: Stir-Fried Honey-Ginger Chicken with Peppers from the January-February 2010 issue of Everyday Food. To be honest, I probably haven't made a true stir-fry since sometime in the 90s. But this issue has a whole set of stir-fry recipes that looked good enough that I couldn't pass them up.

The trick to stir-frying, as the article reminded me, is two-fold. First, make sure that you have all of your ingredients prepped and at hand before you get near your skillet or wok. For that, I employed the set of graduated glass bowls that the lovelies, Mrs. Fleming and Mrs. Pantuck, gave me as a gift long ago and for which I continue to be super thankful. Second, make sure the skillet/wok is superhot before you drizzle in that first bit of oil.

After that, everything happens very fast and is very, very simple to execute. You start with that drizzle of oil, then add the chicken and stir fry for three minutes, then set it aside and fill the pan with a mixture of oil, minced ginger and minced garlic. Fry that for 30 seconds before adding the peppers and stirring for another two minutes. Next, add a mixture of soy sauce, honey and rice vinegar and bring to a boil. Then the chicken goes back into the pan and you stir the whole mess for the final three minutes. Serve over hot rice (lately I've been very pleased with the HT Trader's brand of Jasmine Rice from the Teeter - great stuff and comes out perfectly every time) and top with chopped cilantro. Easy and delicious!

This dish also reminds me that I wanted to mention that I have officially fallen back in love with my garlic mincer. I have, for the past few years, been using minced garlic out of a jar. I just thought it was more convenient and always kept a jar in my refrigerator. A couple of months ago, I purchased some real garlic on a whim and pulled out my super handy garlic mincer (a white metal doodad that pushes raw garlic through some tiny holes with the flick of the wrist) and honestly, I have not looked back. Fresh garlic is far superior to the jarred stuff. I also use this funky tan plastic tube to get the skins off of fresh garlic cloves. Pop a clove into the tube, press/roll the tube around and out pops your clove, miraculously unwrapped from its papery skin. Cleanup for both the garlic press and the tubey thingy is a snap. Very satisfying all around!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Love is...


Mr. Fritz proposed to me two years ago today, in the middle of the national mall after a day filled with wintry delight. When I think back to that afternoon, happy memories abound. More significantly, though, I can say without reservation that I feel blessed every single day to be able to share my life with him. So, no recipes tonight (although for the record, I did feed him a lovely dinner of tomato and sausage risotto). Instead, just a little note of appreciation to God for bringing Mr. Fritz into my life. And to Mr. Fritz for marrying me. I couldn't be more grateful.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dinner Tonight: Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork With Sweet Potatoes and Pears

This recipe for Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork with Sweet Potatoes and Pears, from the December issue of Real Simple magazine, is my kind of meal: roasted in the oven on an aluminum-foil covered sheet pan. Almost zero clean-up and very little prep time. Plus, super-delicious! To make, you cut sweet potatoes and red Bartlett pears into slices, toss them with olive oil and thyme, salt and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet at 425 for 15 minutes. While that's roasting, you wrap a pork tenderloin in prosciutto and, when the 15 minutes are up, push the vegetables to the side of the pan and add the pork, drizzling the pork with a bit of honey. Then you proceed to roast everything (the pork and the vegetables) for another 20-25 minutes. You end up with a company-worthy pork roast and some super tender vegetables and caramelized fruit.

My only problem, and it is one I seem to have a lot these days when I am roasting vegetables, is that the vegetables burned a bit before the pork was finished cooking. I think if I make it again, I'll put the vegetables and the pork into the oven at the same time, instead of adding the pork after the vegetables have already been roasting for 10-15 minutes. Also, since I was just cooking for me and Mr. Fritz, I used a half pound pork loin instead of one and a quarter pounds of pork tenderloin, so I wasn't totally sure how long to roast the pork for. I settled on 20 minutes and I think it probably would have been fine at 15-18 minutes.

Regardless, the pork with the prosciutto wrapped around it was really pretty wonderful, and the slightly burnt vegetables were salvageable, if a little too crispy in parts. The roasted pears, in particular, were a great treat. I don't roast fruit as often as I should...

Treats: Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I told Mr. Fritz that I'd made him some incredible cookies to take in his lunch this week and he took one look at them and said, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Fritz!" Then he took this glamour shot of them to show off their irresistibility:

The recipe is from the October issue of Everyday Food and it is the recipe that finally put this issue over the top for me as an all-time favorite. It's turned out so many great meals, I think it alone was worth the entire year's subscription price...

In any case, as I've noted many times, I am NOT a baker. I'm incredibly bad a baking. But these cookies. Oh my word. They are so delicious I almost don't know what to say. The magazine called them "Crave worthy" and that is no understatement. In fact, I gave one to Ms. Hays today as a parting gift when she stopped by to see me and when she tried the cookie a few hours later, liked it enough to send me the following text message: "I just had a bite of your cookie. Holy crap that's a good cookie!" See what I mean? Definitely worthy of Mr. Fritz's glamour shot treatment. And definitely worthy of your time if you decide to make them. I know I'll definitely turn out another batch before too long.

My one note/tip: the recipe calls for 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped. I hate chopping chocolate, so I just used my big heavy meat tenderizer and banged on the two 4-ounce chocolate bars while they were still in their wrappers. Worked like a charm!

Recipe Roundup: Incredible, Easy Beef Stew

My mom always made beef stew when I was growing up and it was one of my favorite meals. This, despite the fact that I'm not much of a meat eater. I guess the thing about stew is that it is impossible to resist such a great dish - warm, fragrant, chock full of vegetables, awesome gravy. Yum!

A few weeks ago, Jamie Oliver appeared on Good Morning America and shared his recipe for stew. He structured it so that you could adapt it for chicken, pork, lamb or beef and it looked so easy that I made a note of it to try it when the weather seemed cold enough to warrant a big pot of it. Then, while reading through the December issue of Cooking Light, I saw another recipe for beef stew. I decided to merge the two recipes and come up with my own hybrid, mainly based on Jamie's.

Here's his original recipe:

Jamie Oliver's Basic Stew


  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • Olive oil
  • 1 heaped tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 x 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1 pound diced stewing beef (I kept my pieces pretty big, actually)
  • 2 cups brown ale, Guinness or stout

  • If using the oven to cook your stew, preheat it to 350°F. Trim the ends off your celery and roughly chop the stalks. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel the carrots, slice lengthways, and roughly chop. Put a Dutch oven on a medium heat. Put all the vegetables and your chosen herb into the pan with 2 lugs of olive oil and fry for 10 minutes. Add you meat and flour. Pour in the booze and canned tomatoes. Give it a good stir, then season with a teaspoon of sea salt (less if using table salt) and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil, put the lid on, and either simmer slowly on your cooktop or cook in an oven for the times shown above. Remove the lid for the final half hour of simmering or cooking and add a splash of water if it looks a bit dry. When done, your meat should be tender and delicious. Remove any bay leaves or herb stalks before serving, and taste it to see if it needs a bit more salt and pepper.

    I added:
    1 4-ounce package of baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    half a pound (maybe more), baby gold potatoes, cut into quarters
    1 more cup of beer (in my case, oatmeal stout)

    And I simmered the stew in a big heavy pot for four hours instead of the three hours Jamie called for. The finished dish, which we shared with Mr. and Mrs. Meyer, was divine. I can't wait to make it again.

    Recipe Roundup: Sausage, Mozzarella, and Brocolli Rabe with Shells

    We had Sausage, Mozzarella and Broccoli Rabe with Shells, from the November issue of Everyday Food, for dinner on Friday night. And boy was it delicious. I used Italian sausage with basil and garlic instead of regular Italian sausage and really liked the flavors. This was also my first time cooking with broccoli rabe. It's sort of an unwieldy vegetable, but it was a great alternative to spinach, which is what usually ends up going into baked pasta dishes.

    The recipe had a few steps to it, since you start off by boiling the pasta and the broccoli rabe in one pot while cooking up the sausage, garlic and tomatoes in another before combining everything and pouring it into a baking dish, topping with fresh mozzarella and Parmesan, and baking for 15 minutes. In other words, don't make this on a night when you're in a hurry. Do make it when you want something warm, gooey, savory and satisfying. It is great!! And even
    cutting the recipe in half (well, everything but the amount of pasta), we still had enough leftover for lunch on Sunday.

    Sausage, Mozzarella, and Broccoli Rabe with Shells
    Source: Everyday Food Magazine, November 2009
    Serves 4. Prep time: 35 minutes. Total time: 50 minutes

    2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

    1 large onion, chopped
    3 sprigs thyme
    coarse salt and ground pepper
    2 garlic cloves, chopped
    3 links spicy Italian sausage (3/4 pounds total), casings removed
    1 Tb. all purpose flour

    1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes

    1 bunch (about one pound) broccoli rabe, trimmed and coarsely chopped

    6 ounces freshly mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

    1/4 cup Parmesan

    Preheat oven to 400. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high. Add onion and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown, 15 minutes (reduce heat if browning too quickly).

    Add garlic and sausage, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon. Cook sauce until slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme.

    Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta 4 minutes less than package instructions. Add broccoli rabe to pot and cook 15 seconds. Drain pasta and broccoli rabe and return to pot. Stir in sausage mixture. Transfer to a 3 quart baking dish or divide among 4 16-ounce gratin dishes. Top with mozzarella and parmesan. Bake until cheese has melted and liquid is bubbling, about 15 minutes.