Archive for May, 2009

Cookbook Review: A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

I adore Molly Wizenberg, and I adore her new book. It just makes me smile.


I had kicked around the idea of starting a food blog for awhile, but Orangette was the blog that tipped the scales. When I found Molly’s blog, I spent an entire weekend reading it from start to finish. Every month, I find myself enjoying her column in Bon Appetit, even before I know that it’s hers.

She’s a talented writer, with a passion for food. And I hope, someday, I can grow up to be just like her.

In the meantime, I have her latest book to enjoy.

Through a series of essays, anecdotes, and vignettes, Molly reminices about her life, love,  and family. The stories are funny, touching, even heart-warming at times. And each one is punctuated by a fabulous recipe. So far I’ve made a version of her Banana Bread, and her dad’s take on French Toast (coming soon!). But I find myself wanting to bookmark or dogear nearly every recipe–even the ones that I wouldn’t normally consider (Hello, Cider-Glazed Salmon).

I’ve found myself moved to tears by Molly’s writing, and inspired to get into the kitchen nearly every time I pick up the book.

I’d recommend the book to nearly anybody who likes what they see here, though I don’t dare compare my writing to hers. Molly’s better at this food writing thing than I could ever hope to be. There are enough recipes to say that it qualifies as a cookbook, but to be honest, it reads more like fiction.

The book is broken into 45 small chapters, each one followed by a recipe.

The following is a list of recipes found in A Homemade Life:

  1. Burg’s Potato Salad
  2. Blueberry-Raspberry Pound Cake
  3. Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
  4. Coeur a La Creme with Raspberry Puree
  5. Burg’s French Toast
  6. Chocolate Cupcakes with Bittersweet Glaze
  7. Stewed Prunes with Citrus and Cinnamon
  8. Hoosier Pie
  9. Bread and Chocolate
  10. Buckwheat Pancakes
  11. Fresh Ginger Cake with Caramelized Pears
  12. Fruit-Nut Balls
  13. Espresso-Walnut Toffee
  14. Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Glazed Oranges and Creme Fraiche
  15. Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache
  16. Bouchons Au Thon
  17. Tarte Tatin
  18. Bread Salad with Cherries, Arugula, and Goat Cheese
  19. Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille
  20. Dutch Baby Pancakes with Lemon & Sugar
  21. Jimmy’s Pink Cookies
  22. Italian Grotto Eggs
  23. Dried Fruit Pie
  24. Rum Cream Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
  25. Ed Fretwell Soup
  26. Doron’s Meatballs with Pine Nuts, Cilantro, and Golden Raisins
  27. Scottish Scones with Lemon & Ginger
  28. Cider-Glazed Salmon or Saumon Gelee a La Louis XIV
  29. Cream-Braised Green Cabbage
  30. Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Coriander
  31. Slow-Roasted Tomato Pesto
  32. French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon
  33. Cranberry Chutney with Crystallized Ginger and Dried Cherries
  34. Radishes and Butter with Fleur De Sel
  35. Red Cabbage Salad with Lemon and Black Pepper
  36. Butternut Soup with Pear, Cider, and Vanilla Bean
  37. Chana Masala
  38. Fennel Salad with Asian Pear and Parmesan
  39. Sliced Spring Salad with Avocado and Feta
  40. Custard Filled Corn Bread
  41. Tomato Soup with Two Fennels
  42. Frisee wth Ham, Eggs, and Mustard Vinegarette
  43. Caramelized Cauliflower with Salsa Verde
  44. Zucchini Noodles with Pesto
  45. Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots
  46. Vanilla-Black Pepper Ice Cream
  47. Spicy Pickled Carrots with Garlic and Thyme
  48. Pickled Grapes with Cinnamon and Black Pepper
  49. Arugula Salad with Pistachios and Chocolate
  50. Little Corn Cakes with Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado
  51. The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake (Or, Our Wedding Cake)

Giada’s Crunchy Chicken Tenders

Friday, May 29th, 2009

This is our “standard” chicken tenders recipe. It takes a little bit of forethought, because I don’t always have buttermilk on hand, and the chicken does need to hang out in the buttermilk for awhile.

The buttermilk soak and the cheese in the crust help to make these baked boneless-skinless chicken breast tenders crispy. I’ve often borrowed this method to make chicken parmesan as well (or even made mini chicken parmesans out of the chicken breast tenders).

Crunchy Parmesan Chicken Tenders
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis’ Everyday Italian

  • 4 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (about 18)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Brush 1 tablespoon of oil over each of 2 heavy large lined baking sheets. Place the buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the chicken tenders and stir to coat. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the garlic with the salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and then the remaining 1/2 cup of oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with pepper. Transfer the vinaigrette to a small serving bowl.

Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a pie dish. Remove the chicken tenders from the buttermilk and dredge them in the bread crumb mixture to coat completely, pressing to adhere. Arrange the coated chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the chicken tenders and bake until they are cooked through and golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Transfer the chicken tenders to a platter and serve the vinaigrette alongside for dipping.

Sizzled Green Beans with Crispy Prosciutto and Pine Nuts

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Leah, an integral part of my “Test Kitchen” here, gets recipes emailed to her from her work’s wellness programs. She emails them to me when they sound good, and even though I almost always agree with her, I believe this was the first one that I’ve made.

Fresh beans were expensive at the store, so I opted for whole frozen green beans (Green Giant Selects, I believe, which seemed a little better quality than the store brand frozen veggies we usually buy). I also skipped the sage, and used thyme instead, because that’s what we had on hand. Finally, I halved the recipe you see below, and it was plenty for the three of us.

Sauteeing the green beans brings out just a touch of  sweetness, and the prosciutto adds a tasty balance of salty flavor. The toasted pine nuts are delicious, too.

Even David ate his veggies that night, and he doesn’t care for green beans at all. I’m sure we’ll be making these again.


Sizzled Green Beans with Crispy Prosciutto & Pine Nuts
Adapted from, well, Leah’s email

  • 2 pounds of green beans trimmed (I used frozen)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt divided
  • 2 teaspoons of minced fresh sage (I used minced fresh thyme leaves)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 ounces of prosciutto thinly sliced, cut into ribbons
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add beans, return to a boil, and simmer until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto; cook, stirring, until crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel.
  3. Wipe out the pan; heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add the beans, garlic, sage, 1/8 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are browned in places, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in pine nuts, lemon zest and the prosciutto. Season with lemon juice, the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

It’s been awhile since we talked about ice cream, hasn’t it?

This recipe starts with margaritas. Strawberry margaritas. A few weeks ago, Sarah and Kat came over for a weekend to celebrate Leah’s birthday and to have girly time. We spent the weekend playing with Kat’s dog Brody, playing cards, and hanging out. Oh, and drinking Strawberry Margaritas. David brought home a delicious bottled strawberry mix for daquiris and margaritas, and I can honestly say it was the most delicious bottled mixer I’ve ever had. The strawberry flavor was great; it wasn’t too sweet, or too sour. And you could tell there were actual strawberries in it, in part because the mix still had some seeds in it. I made excellent margaritas.

It also inspired me to make strawberry ice cream. I followed the general recipe from the Ben & Jerry’s Orange Dream Ice Cream that I’ve made before, substituting this strawberry blend for the orange concentrate. The result was the tastiest Strawberry Ice Cream I’ve ever had.


Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

  • 2 large or extra large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup strawberry margarita mix
  • 1 cup of fresh strawberries, finely chopped (I used the chopping capabilities of our stick blender)

1. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend. Add the vanilla extract and strawberry mix and blend again.

2. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker. Add while the mixer is on the low setting, then turn it up to high. When the mixture is almost finished (about 1-2 minutes before it’s completely frozen) add the chopped strawberries to the mix.

When it’s done in the ice cream machine, the ice cream will be the consistency of soft-serve. Freeze for at least two hours for a solid, scoopable ice cream.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches on Photograzing

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The Barbecue Pork Sandwiches were featured on Photograzing over the weekend.


Mara’s Grilled Cheese Burgers

Monday, May 25th, 2009

There’s been a lot of link love for Mara these days…what can I say? The thing is, ever since she hosted me as a guest for dinner, Leah and I have been talking about her recipe on that same post–Grilled Cheese Burgers. They were just as good as we thought they would be, and really, like Mara said on her site, “restaurant quality.”

It doesn’t seem like there’s anything earth-shattering here, but a little extra seasoning, and some special treatment for the bread made this burger something special!

Mara’s Grilled Cheese Burgers
Adapted from What’s For Dinner?

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Tillamook Medium Cheddar)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cholula hot sauce (but use whatever you like, and to your own tastes)
  • 1 tsp. Adobo seasoning (from The Spice House, of course!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 8 slices rustic bread
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine first six ingredients in a mixing bowl, and using your hands, mix to combine. Do not overmix, or the burgers could come out tough. Divide the meat into four equal-sized patties.

2. Preheat a seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. When skillet is hot, brush the surface of the pan with extra virgin olive oil and place the burgers in the pan. Be careful not to move the burgers around in the pan, until they’re ready to flip. Also, don’t press on the burgers with the spatula–it looks cool, but really, it’s a bad habit, and just helps to make dry burgers. Continue to cook the burgers to desired doneness, flipping once.

3. While the burgers cook, brush the slices of bread on both sides with extra virgin olive oil. I used thick-cut slices of an artisan asiago cheese bread from the grocery store bakery. In a non-stick skillet or grill pan over medium heat, toast the oiled bread. It will need to be flipped once or twice to get good color–you’re looking to get it golden brown like a grilled cheese.

4. Serve the burgers on the toasted bread with slices of avocado and tomatoes. (I subbed mayo for the avocado on mine, but David liked the avocado slices).

Note: Like I said, nothing too out of the ordinary here, or so it seems, but something about the toasted bread and the way the burgers are seasoned made this an extra tasty burger. Because I used thick slices of bread, the toast was crunchy at the edges, but warm and soft in the middle, much better than any standard hamburger bun. The grilled bread made the flavors similar to a patty melt (without all those onions, of course!) but because they were cooked separately, the juices from the burger didn’t have the chance to get the bread all soggy.

In short: I really enjoyed this burger!

P.S. Speaking of burgers–get out there and enjoy one of your own. Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Aren’t three day weekends awesome?

Adobo Potatoes

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

This recipe is so simple, it almost doesn’t deserve to be called a recipe. These are the potatoes I made with the barbecue pork sandwiches. The potatoes were super-easy–but despite so little effort were surprisingly delicious.

I’m not kidding when I said the recipe was simple, I just checked, and it’s so basic I could twitter it:

Recipe: Oil & Onions in pan over med. heat, saute. Add butter, red pot. wedges, Adobo seas. Cook until tender. Add Italian seas. Serve. Yum!

There’s your potato recipe in 140 characters…feel free to ReTweet. 🙂 Of course, if you’re looking for a little more guidance, keep reading.

The basic idea for the recipe actually came from The Spice House website. In addition to the awesome spice blends that I talked about in my post earlier this week, the Spice House website includes ideas and recipes for each spice, herb blend, and seasoning that they sell. I found this recipe for Adobo Potatoes while writing my post about our shopping trip to the Old Town location.


Adobo Potatoes
Adapted from The Spice House website.

I’ve linked to the original recipe above, but here’s how I made them:

  • 1/2 cups sliced onions (you could skip these, if you wanted)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 package of Simply Potatoes red potato wedges, unseasoned (They’re in the refrigerated section of your grocery store)
  • 2 teaspoons Adobo Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1. In a large non-stick skillet, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add butter and potatoes and stir, so that the potatoes are coated in the oil and butter mixture. Sprinkle with Adobo Seasoning. Cover, and continue cooking over medium heat until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, so that the potatoes brown evenly.

2. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning. Mix to combine and serve.

Note: I know, it’s not complicated, and it doesn’t seem like much–but they were very tasty. There was a lot of “Mmm! Those ARE good!” going on in the kitchen that night.

P.S. What do we call a recipe on twitter? A Twecipe? Twrecipe? Tweetipe? Ridiculous? Take the poll!

If recipes via twitter were actually a thing, what would they be called?

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Crockpot Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

David doesn’t like to shop, but he enjoys finding a bargain, nonetheless. He really likes shopping at Costco for that reason–as long as you have space and can use the bulk products, there are some really good deals to be had.

As you might imagine then, coupons from Costco are even more fun for David.

Because of a $4-off coupon, we decided to try a marinated pork loin that we’ve been eyeing at Costco for a while now. For a very reasonable price, we bought a 4 pound pork loin roast marinated in a garlic & onion seasoning. 4 pounds is pretty big, of course, so I only used half of it for this recipe. I decided to make pulled pork sandwiches in the crockpot.

This couldn’t have been easier, but the sandwiches were very tasty.

Crockpot Pulled Pork Sandwiches

  • 2 pound pork loin roast
  • 2 tablespoons Alton Brown’s Dry Rub Seasoning (used here, previously)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
  • bread or sandwich rolls for serving

1. Sprinkle the pork loin on all sides with the dry rub seasoning. We always have leftovers of the AB version from making ribs, but any store-bought rib rub would probably work, or even just a quick blend of brown sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic, in a pinch.

2. Place in the bowl of a crockpot or slowcooker. Because of the sugar content of the rub and the barbecue sauce, I sprayed the inside of the bowl with non-stick cooking spray to help with cleanup.

3. Pour vinegar and barbecue sauce over top of pork loin. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 4-6 hours).

4. When you are ready to serve, strain the barbecue sauce mixture into a small mixing bowl or measuring cup. It will be much a much thinner liquid than you put in. Shred the pork loin with two forks to get the desired “pulled pork” texture. It will come apart very, very easily. Once the pork is shredded, return the barbecue sauce to the crockpot. You probably won’t need all of the liquid (I only used about half  to three-quarters of it) to get the barbecue pork to the right consistency.

5. Serve on toasted sandwich rolls, hamburger buns, or whatever you like!

Note: This was really good. The only thing missing from this crockpot method was smoke. Next time, I’ll make a point of using some liquid smoke or hickory smoke powder–we didn’t have any on hand this time, but I’ve been meaning to pick some up. I served this with cole slaw (which began as a store kit, but was doctored up with a little bit of miracle whip, some cider vinegar, and some salt and pepper) and a side of potatoes (You’ll be seeing the recipe for the potatoes soon ). I also set out that extra sauce for people to drizzle over their sandwiches, and then stirred the rest into the leftovers, which were excellent as well.

Blogger Jewlery at What’s For Dinner

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

I know I already posted about Mara’s blog this week, but I need to say this too:

Mara at What’s For Dinner? has designed some food blogger jewelry with her dad, and I think they’re super cute. Especially the laptop one.


You can check them out here.

Little Debbie Style Oatmeal Cream Pies

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

My little  sister does not have very exacting tastes. She likes spaghetti, and cheeseburgers, and Skittles, and Diet Coke. And she likes Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies. Rather adorably, she pronounces them Oitmeal Cream Pies. (Oatmeal starts like Ointment in Liz’s world–no one knows why or how that started).

You might think from this story that Liz is about 7 years old. In reality, she’s 21. Though to be fair, her tastes haven’t changed too much since she was 7 years old. That’s just fine with me, for the most part. She likes what she likes, and she’s pretty straightforward about it.

Last weekend, my 21 year old sister took and passed the exam to become a Licensed Massage Therapist. Congratulations to her, right? Congratulations, indeed. To celebrate, I set about making her favorite treat. They turned out to be a delicious, delicious sucess.


Little Debbie Style Oatmeal Cream Pies
Adapted from


  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats

Cream Filling

  • 2 tsp very hot water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 (7.5 ounce) jar marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl.

2. In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars. Add in eggs, one at a time. Finally beat in molasses and vanilla.

3. Slowly add the flour mixture to creamed mixture and beat until just blended; mix in the oats with a wooden spoon.

4. Drop dough by tablespoons. I used a tablespoon sized cookie scoop to make sure that my cookies were the same size–important when you’re going to sandwich them together! Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, at 350 degrees (F) for 10-12 minutes, or until just starting to brown around the edges. They will look moist; do not overcook them. Let sit on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

5. While the cookies bake, prepare the cream filling. In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the hot water.

6. Combine marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar, salt water, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; mix on high until fluffy–about 3-4 minutes).

7. When cookies are completely cooled, spread filling on flat side of one cookie, press 2nd cookie on top.

8. Enjoy!

Note: I’d love to tell you how to store them, but I’ve made them twice now, and neither batch lasted longer than 24 hours. This recipe yields about 2 dozen sandwich cookies.