Friday, April 19, 2013

Whole Foods Friday : Pasta Edition

After my foray into pasta earlier this week it occurred to me that I had never really had fresh pasta. I thought making fresh pasta myself may be a bit ambitious for a Friday night, so I picked up some fresh pasta from Whole Foods. I did, however decide that pasta sauce was something I could make from scratch.
I do not care for meat in my sauce and since Fridays are supposed to be 'easy' I decided on a recipe that was mostly tomatoes and fresh herbs. I substituted canned tomatoes because none of the tomatoes at Whole Foods looked very good. April is not the time for beautiful tomatoes I suppose. I was very pleased to find that something as simple as fresh basil and garlic made this sauce taste so much better then canned sauce. It was so simple to make and I will absolutely do it again.

Please excuse the lighting and poor presentation. A light was out in my kitchen and this is fast and easy Whole Foods Friday.

This is the recipe I followed, with the exception of using canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones.

8 pounds tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 large onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1.In large saucepan, cook tomatoes and basil over medium-low heat until tomatoes are soft.
2.Meanwhile, in medium skillet, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent.
3.Add onion mixture to tomato mixture and add salt and pepper. Let simmer on low heat for 2 hours or until thick.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Small Apartment Woes

I'm going to make a gross over generalization and say that a lot of people who may be in a similar boat as me and learning how to cook may also live in an apartment. Living away from your mom and her dependable 5pm meals is a sure fire way to learn how to cook right?
If you are like me and you live in a small apartment, you might find cooking even more challenging for reasons concerning space. My kitchen is so small that when your in it half of you is also in the living room. I have disqualified several recipes because I would need more space to make them.
I am a big fan of YouTube 'blogs' and I found a channel called CHOW and they have a lot of great stuff! Everything from making pancakes from scratch and candied bacon to this awesome tip for how to magically 'add' space to your tiny kitchen! Check it out!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Birthday Brownies!

I wanted to take a treat to work today for my birthday (because apparently I am 10 years old) so I decided to make some brownies I saw on Pinterest. They had Baileys Irish Cream in them and I adore baked goods with liquor flavoring.

For all my inability to cook, I am actually not a bad baker. At least this was what I thought prior to making these brownies. I've never made brownies from scratch but I don't think I made any critical errors other then not cooking them long enough.

When I pulled them out of the oven I tested them by sticking a knife in the middle. It did not come out completely clean. I didn't think this was a problem because I figured the cream cheese filling would always be a bit gooey. I let them sit for a few hours figuring the brownie part would harden up a bit more. I was wrong though, they are not really cooked in the middle. It's too bad really, because the edges are awesome!

I will try these again and see if I can get them to come out better. Tonight I am going out for birthday dinner :)

Here's a picture of what they should look like and the recipe. If anyone makes them successfully, let me know and invite me over!

Brownie batter
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur

For the brownies:
Place the butter and chocolate into a medium saucepan and melt gently over low heat while stirring frequently. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil.  Coat the foil lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy (this took about 3-4 minutes with my mixer).  Sift the flour and salt together; add to the sugar mixture in three half-cup increments. Add in the chocolate mixture by folding it into the sugar mixture. 

For the cream cheese filling:
In another medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar and beat until creamy. Continue to beat while adding the egg and liqueur.

To assemble the brownies:
Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan. Spread all of the the cream cheese layer over the brownie layer. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer and using an offset spatula, smooth the batter. To create a marbled effect, swirl the layers together with a knife. Bake for 40 minutes; cool completely before cutting.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Easy Spaghetti

So, one might think I had learned my lesson about recipes that seem easy. But I found a recipe for a yummy sounding pasta I thought I would try. I'm actually not much for pasta. I like it once in a while, but it's not my favorite. This recipe sounded simple and delicious.

It was really good and so easy to put together. I have been trying to build up a repertoire of things that I can throw together easily even when I don't have much time. This seems to be the key for cooking during the week.

7 ounces of spaghetti
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons of chili pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
The measurements in this recipe can be shifted depending on your taste preferences.
  1. Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the package, until it is al dente.
  2. Strain spaghetti and place in a large serving dish.
  3. Add minced garlic, chili pepper flakes, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and mix together well.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Whole Foods Friday

I have made a real effort to make more of our meal and not eat out so much. There are a few days a week however I am too busy to cook. Friday is one of these days. I did not want to resort to spending $50 to go to Olive Garden or order Chinese and I did not want to succumb to the empty calories of a fast food run. So I have declared Friday to be Whole Foods Friday.

Whole Foods is one of my favorite places. I can't even imagine how much more fun it is for people who love to cook! There are rows and rows of colorful veggies, ripe fruit, fresh fish and gluten free baked goods.They also have a really beautiful selection of half prepared food. Burgers with cheese and jalapeƱo, cream cheese and chive stuffed chicken and dill marinated salmon.

I decided that we have eaten a lot of chicken since I began cooking so I decided to spring for some fish. I picked out a crab stuffed sole filet. I also grabbed some corn. I was pleasantly surprised at my $25 dollar total. Had we eaten out, this would have been a far costlier meal.

I cooked the sole as the fishmonger advised, 350 degrees for 12 minutes, but I felt that it needed a bit more time. This is usually where I get in trouble with my cooking. I don't trust the recipe and I make adjustments and ruin things. I decided that undercooked fish is nothing to mess with and let it go a few minutes longer in the oven. I kept a close eye on it and I pulled it out to see that my instinct was correct and the fish was now flakey, yet firm! Maybe I am getting better at this!

I was happy to find an option that is somewhere between going out and cooking from scratch. I will defiantly be making Whole Foods Friday a tradition!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Veggies, veggies and more veggies!

One of the reasons I have trouble cooking is because I never seem to put together what most people think of as a meal.

I am a very plain eater. Some would call it picky. I am one of those crazies that does not like when her food touches. Yup, that kind of picky. I also have this tendency to eat one food at a time and call it a meal. I will eat a hard boiled egg and call it lunch. A bowl of soup is dinner. Heck, sometimes a bowl of cereal is dinner.

My boyfriend is one of those people that wants to eat in courses. A salad, some bread, a starch, a vegetable and meat. Without all of these components its just a snack. We're not really compatible dinner partners.

So while learning to cook edible chicken, I have also been working on putting (kinda) complete meals together.

I have found that the easiest, fastest and tastiest way to make a side dish is to cut up a veggie and stick it in the oven.

It is amazing to me that cooking something to the very brink of being burned yields such scrumptious results!

Broccoli is the most popular option for us, but I have also done this with cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini and corn.

There really is no recipe needed and cook times are not predictable either. I usually just cut up the veggie into bite-sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and then mix it up with my hands to evenly coat. Then I stick the veggie in the oven at the same temperature that I am cooking the meat and let it go until its almost burned. So easy and so good!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Man Pleasing Chicken

I decided to give Pinterest cooking another go-around. I let my boyfriend choose the recipe this time.
He found the title of this chicken dish so amusing he insisted we try it.

It was my first success! Not only did it not burn or taste terrible, it was actually delicious!

So delicious that I decided to make it for Easter dinner with my parents.

I made it at home once and then I made it at my parent's house on Easter. I told her I was learning how to cook and that I needed to get some experience cooking for more people then just me and my boyfriend. She was reluctant, but allowed me to enter her kitchen under the condition that she supervise.

Now, to hear my mother tell it, she tried to teach me how to cook. She claims that she would try to get my sister and I to come watch her as she made dinner and such. We have differing memories because I remember not being allowed in the kitchen because I was 'under foot' and being told that mom 'can't cook if people are watching me'.  I also remember being told not to turn on the stove because I would burn down the house. Her reluctance to allow me to cook on Easter seems to support my version of the story, no?

The chicken itself is a great main dish for an event with more then 2 or 3 people. You can easily double or triple the recipe and the cut of chicken I recommend (chicken thighs) are far more inexpensive then a breast or tender.

Check out the recipe and try it! We have made it a few times already!


    • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
    • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
    • salt and pepper
    • rosemary


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix together dijon mustard, maple syrup and rice wine vinegar.
  3. Place chicken in an oven proof baking dish and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Pour the mustard mixture over them, turning the thighs in the mixture so they are fully coated.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the meat is cooked (155 degrees). Halfway through baste the chicken with the sauce.
  5. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving. Then sprinkle with fresh rosemary. Enjoy!