Smoked Kielbalsa and White Bean Stew

I’ve started taking public transit almost exclusively. If I’m not on the train, I’m using my legs. It’s been equal parts refreshing and frustrating. It’s only been about a month. Nice, albeit cool and windy, weather helps. I hate having to plan my day around 15 minute increments, but I love not sitting in traffic. I hate smelly people and screaming children, but I love getting lost in a book with music in my ears. I hate showing up knowing I just missed a train, but I love randomly running into my friend Jenny. The control freak in me is learning to let go. Ask me again in a few months.

Is not using a recipe being a control freak or actually letting go? It could be both. I was inspired by the suggestion of using some of my grandma’s canned vegetables. Stew time. Canned green beans and tomatoes always go well in stew. I went off to let the store guide me. A package of smoked kielbasa and a can of white beans, we were in business. Warm. Hearty. Smokey. It was even better the next day, but that’s goes without saying.


  • 2 cups canned [or fresh] green beans
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, diced evenly
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 smoked kielbasa links [pre-cooked], thinly sliced
  • 1 can navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Olive oil
  • Water for thinning, if desired
  • Salt and pepper


Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in a soup pot or Dutch oven. When the pan is hot and water sizzles when you toss little droplets on it, add the onions. Stir to coat them in the oil and then spread them out in a nice even layer. Sauté for 7-10 minutes until soft. Add the kielbasa, allowing it to brown on all sides. Add the beans, tomatoes, and green beans. Stir to combine. Smash the two cloves if garlic and add them. Add the broth, bringing it to a boil.  Stir in the potato. Bring the broth back down to a simmer and allow the potato to cook.  Taste the broth throughout, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Other spices would work well too. Once the potatoes are tender you can serve, otherwise you can continue to cook it down. Add more water if you want it thinner. I definitely didn’t.

Pappardelle with Prosciutto and Potatoes

I am seriously pining for longer days. Taking Roma for a five mile walk in the early afternoon, makes me either want to come home and bake or prep something for the grill. As soon as I start seriously considering it, I realize it’s going to get dark in an hour, which will completely take me out of that mode and put me into “let’s curl up on the couch with a book” mode. It’s frustrating.

Speaking of books, I’ve been reading The Name of the Wind and am finally loving it. It was starting off way to slow for me to really get into, and once I found an e-reader version, I’ve been gobbling it up. Someone explained it to me as a more mature Harry Potter, which doesn’t feel accurate, but it’s enough to get me to read it. It’s definitely a lot darker, but just as much magic. I’m into it.

I’m also into the comfort of fresh pasta. It’s really hard to find pappardelle by the way. I almost made my own out of fresh sheets of lasagna noodles. Is that weird? I just couldn’t bear to make this any other way. If it said pappardelle, I need pappardelle. I won’t accept a substitute [even though you totally could]. Sautéing the prosciutto didn’t bite me this time. You know how salty it gets. I was bracing myself for something similar, but it didn’t happen. I think the thicker cut coupled with the smaller dice and an overwhelming carb to protein ratio helped. It’s necessary to cut through that delicious pasta and potato. I know it seems like starchy overkill, but I can’t deny its deliciousness. I added a whole hell of a lot of arugula to the mix. It wasn’t anywhere on the original recipe, but I had some. I wanted greenery, if only for the color, but it was really, really good mixed into the pasta. Crisp. Fresh. Peppery. After I shot the photo, I added another two handfuls at least. It was really nice.

The only thing I’d do differently next time is reserve more pasta water than I think I need. Things felt gummy fast. I was thankful for the arugula to break things up. It still tasted great the next day, even if it was sticking together like one nacho.

Inspiration: La Cucina Italiana


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1lb pappardelle pasta
  • 1lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1/4″ dice [tedious but necessary]
  • 1/3lb thick cut prosciutto [I asked the deli to cut it at least double the size that they normally do; that worked great]
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3-5 cups fresh arugula
  • salt and pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat until it’s shimmering. Add the potato and prosciutto. Reduce heat to medium low and cover, cooking for about 8-10 minutes until the potato is tender.

Cook the pasta until it’s al dente. Reserve 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta water before you drain it. Put the pasta in your serving bowl. Add the potato mixture, at least 1/4 of the pasta water, half of the cheese and parsley, and toss. Add more water if you feel like it could use it. Season with salt and pepper and top with the remainder of the cheese and parsley. Serve with the arugula or mix it in if you so choose.


Beef Queso Dip

It has been suggested that I make something gluten-free (“GF”). My sister partakes in the diet, as do several friends. If you’ve been here for any length of time, you know that I’m a gluten fan. I don’t always eat it, but it’s never a conscious thing.

I should go back through and re-tag things as GF–start a new category for those of you who really want to get down on it. Since I certainly don’t specialize, I do follow several blogs who do, or at least do way more often than me. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Edible Perspective

With Style and Grace

Grok Grub

Oh She Glows

Eat Life Whole

The Year in Food

And just because I don’t want to disappoint, this gem was made for New Years. It’s also conveniently GF. Coincidence? I think not. I’d really prefer to call this “straight to your ass” dip or “what New Years resolutions?” dip, but it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. I have a ridiculous soft spot for Velveeta. I have a hard time calling it cheese when it’s shelf stable and in the candy aisle, but I have zero qualms downing its melty goodness. It’s its preferred form [I have it on good authority that it makes great fishing bait in its solid form]. I grew up on Velveeta mac. I have been known to melt cubes of it in chili. This, however, is best of both worlds.

It would be great for whatever football game you’re watching, or a party where you want to watch everyone stare at it with a side eye, not wanting to be the one digging into a vat full of cheese. Don’t worry, you won’t bringing any home. People eventually give in to temptation. This bowl was practically clean when I left the NYE party. Now that is embracing the new year.

Inspiration: Damn Delicious


  • 16oz Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 16oz ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chile verde
  • 1/2 cup roasted green chiles
  • 14oz (or one can) diced tomatoes
  • 4oz Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro
  • Crudités, chips, or sliced baguette for serving


Brown the ground beef with the cumin and chili powder in a splash of olive oil in a large skillet with high walls or a Dutch oven. Drain and set aside. Add the cubes of Velveeta to the same pan, stirring often until it melts. It’ll burn if you don’t stir it. No one wants burnt Velveeta. Add the chile verde salsa, green chilies and tomatoes. Don’t drain the tomatoes. You want the liquid to help thin out the dip. Stir to combine. Add the the Monterey Jack cheese and ground beef. Stir until all cheese is melted. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro before serving. Serve warm. It may thicken too much as it cools. Reheat as necessary to maintain the liquid cheesy goodness.

Swordfish Involtini

One of my birthday presents finally arrived. Andrew picked me up a subscription to La Cucina Italiana, my favorite food magazine of all time. Six to eight weeks they said. I sat down eagerly to read it. The couch becoming home to my backside and Roma, complete with blanket and a mug of tea. I am one of those compulsive readers, devouring every word on every page.

The content has a tendency to push me a bit out of my comfort zone in terms of cooking ability. My taste buds are never intimidated. I would love to make most things, I just never have the patience to seek out the ingredients or set aside the necessary time to out in the work to churn out some of these gems. Everything I have made from the magazine or website, though, has been good or better. I have yet to be disappointed.

Well, I take that back. While reading through the letter from the editor in the most recent issue, I was super bummed to read that I was holding the last one they would ever publish in America. I re-read it at least three times, exclaiming a “wtf” to Andrew before continuing through each page. I checked the website, and as of yet I don’t see any confirmation of what was written. You can still subscribe as far as I can tell. So I’m utterly confused. I would like the letter to be wrong. There has been very little press about it, so yeah.

That won’t stop me from trolling their website no matter what happens [assuming they don't can that, too]. That’s where this swordfish came from. I troll their website hard. This savory gem is all kinds of herby. The stuffing is sweet and savory. The key is getting a thin enough cut of fish. I had two huge steaks and cut them in half myself, but it was still too thick. It increased the baking time by almost double. I’d have the butcher or fishmonger or whoever trim it up for me next time. They have the skills. Might as well use them. majorjam was a first for me. I don’t think I’ve bought or used it before, but I like it. It pairs well with the pine nuts, and really let’s you taste the clean fish flavor of the swordfish.

Inspiration: La Cucina Italiana


  • 1 1/2 pounds swordfish steaks, cut into four 1/3″ slices
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 slices dry crusty bread
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 4 sprigs of, plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped, majoram
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper


Heat your oven to 400° and oil a baking dish — probably like 11″x7″ or so. Put the bread in a food processor and pulse until you have dry crumbs. Add the parsley, pine nuts, golden raisins, and the 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram. Pulse until combined in a nice stuffing texture. Add the olive oil and pulse again.

Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper before spreading the stuffing mixture equally on each piece of fish. If you have extras, you can add it to the tops of the fish. Roll the fish up and place into your baking dish. Put the seam side down, and you shouldn’t have to use a toothpick to hold it all together. Sprinkle any remaining stuffing on the top. Spoon the tomato sauce across all pieces of fish. Drizzle with a little bit of oil and top each rolled fish with a sprig of marjoram.

Bake until the fish is cooked through. Ideally it’ll be 12-15 minutes, but if you go thicker than 1/3″, like I did, it’ll take closer to 30. Serve immediately. No one likes gummy fish.

2013 Recap

Oh, hey 2014. How’d you sneak in here like that? I feel like this year went by even faster than usual, and I have even less to show for it. I always equate my life to food and travel [and more food], and it just seems so different in comparison to last year. That’s totally okay.

Trips this year were Kansas City and Thailand/Cambodia. Is that seriously it? Whoa. I didn’t get to San Diego once. No beach trips. No Canada or Mexico. Two(?) trips to Seattle. Two trips to Spokane. No camping. I lost my grandma. I started a new job. I fell in love with Radar, Burger Week, Genoa, and Tilt. Cheese and wine have become staples in my diet. Caffeine consumption is at its highest levels since high school. The Timbers went to the playoffs. I saw the US Men’s National Team twice. Reading is a renewed hobby, and I don’t take Roma for nearly enough walks.

I’m ready for what 2014 has to offer, but first a recap…

Crockpot Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Chilaquiles and Eggs

Huevos Rancheros

Halibut with Gazpacho Salsa

Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Hash

Blackberry Rhubarb Crisp

Bacon Fried Rice

Chocolate Chip Coconut Shortbread Bars

Beef Tagliata with Radicchio and Gorgonzola

Grilled Chicken Fajita Nachos

Happy new year!

Pistachio Cherry Cookies

I was a little nervous for Christmas this year. Partly because it was the first Christmas without Grammy [which was her favorite holiday] and partly because Andrew and I were spending it apart. That’s a recipe for emotions all around [c'mon, even my dad missed Andrew], but celebrations were had without any tears. Getting together with family is pretty damn awesome. I see why she was so into it. I hope your Christmases were spent in equally good spirits, with any combination of good friends, family, and food. Guaranteed success.

I stayed the night at my parents’ house because I was going to be there Christmas Eve and Day. It’s not a far drive, but how else was I going to stay up until 1am talking with my dad, sleep in my old bed, and wake up to my mom making cinnamon rolls? It was pretty awesome. There was the much celebrated massive Mexican food feast for Christmas Day. Think six crockpots full of meats, beans, and rice, turkey enchiladas, tamales, taquitos, a quinoa salad, and every chip and taco/burrito topping you could think of. I contributed two bottles of wine a mole with roasted chicken, which wasn’t photo-worthy in the slightest. It was only okay — a little sweeter than I like my mole. I was nervous tossing so many raisins in, and it did exactly what I thought it would.

I also made these cookies because when else can you justify a bright green cookie with red flecks? Pretty sure we didn’t need another cookie amongst the probably 10+ other cookies, but that’s beside the point. There are several of us in the family who are complete suckers for pistachio pudding. That’s instantly what drew me to the recipe. That and I actually had two jars of maraschino cherries in my fridge. I don’t even know how that happened, but it did. Fate, man. Fate.

These are really, really, really, really good. Especially if you can get over the fact that they look like play dough. They stay so soft and chewy. It’s as close to being raw cookie dough without actually being raw. I didn’t exactly love how they baked because they didn’t want to spread [despite the two sticks of butter...] very much. I would have flattened the balls a little bit if I did it again, and probably scoop more than a tablespoon’s worth. These are practically one two bite cookies, and I prefer a little more than that. The taste more than made up for it. Maraschino cherries are a brilliant addition. Hints of sweetness in every bite of pistachio goodness. When the instructions tell you dry them, don’t mess around. Waste paper towels for the good of your cookies. If you actually wanted brown cookies, just make something else. The green/red combo makes these.

Especially since it made everyone think of the time Grammy made green mashed potatoes for St. Patrick’s Day.

Inspiration: The Girl Who Ate Everything


  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 box (3.4oz) pistachio instant pudding mix
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3x drops of green food coloring
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, small dice and dried well


Cream the butter in a stand mixer [or with a handheld mixer if you're into that]. Really let it go for a few minutes. It should be light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, pudding mix, and flour. Let it go on a medium low speed until it soaks up all of the butter and turns into a dough. It’ll take a few minutes. Add the almond extract and food coloring and mix again until incorporated. Fold the cherries in by hand or with a few seconds in the mixer on low. Don’t let it mash the cherries.

Wrap the dough in saran wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350° and prepare a couple pans with silpats or parchment paper. Make balls of dough about the size of a tablespoon. Spread them out evenly on the pan. Bake 10-11 minutes until the bottoms look like they’re starting to brown. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for awhile before eating. They’ll become much more presentable as they cool. They’ll keep for several days in an air-tight container.

Chicken Gumbo Soup

I looked up the difference between gumbo and jambalaya because I always get them confused. Gumbo is served with rice. Jambalaya is made with rice. Weird. Going by that minor detail, then this soup most definitely isn’t gumbo. I’m just going to go with it though because it’s just easier to throw the rice in the soup and let it cook up.

I don’t think I’ve had either one since the cooking class two years ago. Has it really been that long? I haven’t been to Montage since? Wild. I need up my Cajun food game.

Regardless, this soup hits the spot to break up the normal array of soups. It’s bright from the tomatoes and smokey with the bacon. I laid down some chili flakes with a heavy hand because I opened the wrong end of the container I like it.

Inspiration: Iowa Girl Eats


  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 1/2lbs of chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning [or a mix of cumin and paprika]
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 32oz chicken broth
  • 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • salt, pepper, chili flakes


Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot on medium high heat. Add the chopped bacon once it’s hot. Cook until crispy and brown. Remove to a plate covered in a paper towel. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery [trinity!] to the remaining bacon grease. Cook for about five minutes; you want the veggies nice and soft. Season the chicken with salt and pepper before adding it to the pot. Add the cajun seasoning.

Cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally, before adding the garlic. After a minute, sprinkle the whole mixture with the flour. Stir until everything is coated and turning a nice brown color. Pour in the chicken broth, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and a pinch or two of the chili flakes. Bring everything to a boil.

Add the rice and cover. Turn the heat down to medium low and cook for 15-20 minutes or as long as it takes the rice to become tender. Stir in the bacon and take the pan off the heat. Taste for additional salt or pepper. Let it thicken for 10-15 minutes before serving. It’ll be even better tomorrow.

Braised Chicken and Vegetables

Three Christmas holiday parties in three days. Ex. Hausting. The first for job #1 with the menu I gushed about in the last post [I totally ordered exactly what I thought I would, and I loved it]. The second was for job #2 at a fancy-pants country club. The third was for Andrew’s soccer team at Aalto Lounge. All were completely different from one another, but my little black dress put in a lot of work. I’m glad I picked up something new this year.

I wish I could say I spent most of the day napping, but it really became all about Henry Higgins Boiled Bagels with salmon cream cheese, an Americano from Half Pint Cafe, soup making, baked oatmeal making, and a lot of cleaning and laundry. Sundays are good for that sort of thing.

Is it possible for braised chicken to actually look appetizing? I apologize if it utterly grosses you out. You can’t win them all. It still tastes good, and if I hadn’t dumped a ton of braising sauce all over it, maybe it wouldn’t have washed away all of the spices I had coating every square inch of the bird.

The total appeal to this is making it all in one pan. Laziness reigns supreme. A true cast iron pan would probably kick so much ass for something like this, but considering mine never stays seasoned, I went with the porcelain coated one. Again, lazy. You could use just about any sturdy vegetables you want in something like this. Something that holds up to heat and a steady deluge of liquid. I ultimately went for something equal parts comforting and variety—red potatoes, carrots, and brussels. These were the bottom of the barrel at the store, but totally salvageable when you peel off the first few layers and quarterly accordingly. You’d never know.

Paprika and vermouth play so nicely with the chicken. I’m surprised I had both, but totally and utterly worth getting just for a new flavor profile on the usual chicken standby.

Inspiration: William Sonoma


  • 1 1/2lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Red onion, chopped
  • 1lb red potatoes, halved or quartered depending on the size. Bite sized.
  • 3 or 4 carrots, peeled, quartered and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 6 brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • paprika
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper


Season the chicken with a heavy coating of salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat a two tablespoons of olive oil in your large pan on medium-high heat. Add the chicken in one even layer. Cook them for about 2-3 minutes on each side until nice and browned. Remove to a plate to keep warm.

In the same pan, add the onion. After 5-6 minutes, add the potatoes, carrots, and brussels. Season with salt and pepper and stir occasionally as they brown. Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour, and once it turns brown, slowly pour in the broth and the vermouth. Bring the liquid to a boil, and really scrape the browned bits off the bottom of your pan. Add the chicken.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Simmer for about 25 minutes so the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the mixture with the thyme and taste for additional salt and pepper. Serve.

Roasted Broccoli with Feta and Chickpeas

This. This is the menu of one of the holiday parties I’m going to this week. I really don’t know how I’m going to choose each course because I want ALL OF IT. If I had to pick right this second, I would choose the lamb tartare, the tagliarini with the sepia and roe, the salmon rillet, and the sablefish. Clearly fishy. I want equal parts of the corned elk tongue and water buffalo. This menu kills me.

Until then, I’ll just eat roasted broccoli, feta, and chickpeas. It’s not the same, so I’m not even going to pretend it is. It’s cheap. It’s surprisingly filling. It’s really, really good if you’re into roasted greenery [or feta, let's be honest].

Inspiration: The Forest Feast


  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces. That includes the stem. I’m a fan of that
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta [I really don't know how much I actually used...I like cheese]
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 450°. While it’s heating up, toss the broccoli in a bowl with a heavy splash of olive oil and salt and pepper. Next time I’d add chili flakes and maybe some cumin. Smokey.

Spread the broccoli out on a baking pan in a nice even layer. No touching. Soggy broccoli is no bueno. You want nice crispy edges and you get that by creating space. I used a silpat for easy clean up, but aluminum foil would do the same thing.

After 10-15 minutes, and those edges are nice and crispy, remove the broccoli from the oven. Toss it in another bowl with the chickpeas and top with the feta. Another drizzle of olive oil and some more salt and pepper to taste, and you’re golden.

This lasted me two days. Dinner and lunch the next day.

Cranberry Curd

Lemon curd. I don’t even know where or when I became infatuated with it. I’m pretty sure we never had it in the house growing up [correct me if I'm wrong, mom...]. I don’t remember my grandma having it at her place. I somehow developed this insatiable desire for lemon curd. Whenever I see it available for slathering on anything [or spooning into my mouth...] I’m all for it. I don’t know the last time I bought it, though. I look at it lovingly nestled in with the other jellies and jams at the fridge New Seasons, but never toss a jar in my basket mostly because I’m crazy, but also because I never really have any reason for it. There’s hardly any bread in the house unless it’s a garlic-romano baguette for immediate consumption. I don’t even want to think about that combination. What else would I put it on?

The lemon curd inspired me for my cranberry contribution to Thanksgiving this year. I’m making rolls. I need cranberry. PERFECT EXCUSE. I hadn’t ever made a curd before, but this recipe make it pretty simple. The hardest part is my patience in mashing the cranberry pulp through the sieve. I got so fed up during the first straining that I threw it all in the Vitamix to start. I just couldn’t handle mashing and mashing and mashing and mashing. It made the second time through the sieve a hair more tolerable. It still took a good 10 minutes probably to really get it done. By the end of it all, I took a 12oz bag of cranberries and reduced it down to about a 1/4 cup of pulp. I ate it. Because I’m weird.

The end result was delightfully curdy and sweet and tart. Contrary to photographic evidence, I actually prefer to tear the rolls apart and dunk them into fat pools of the curd. Higher curd:bread ratio that way. Significantly less photogenic.

Inspiration: Kitchen Simplicity


  • 12oz or about 4 cups of fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Juice from two oranges
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 whole egg plus 3 egg yolks, whisked together in a large bowl


In a large pot on medium heat, stir together the cranberries, water, and orange juice. Put the lid on and stir occasionally for about 20-30 minutes until all of the cranberries have popped and everything smells amazing. You can try pressing everything through a fine sieve now, but like I said, I got impatient and ran everything through the Vitamix.

Once pressed, return the cranberry mixture to the pot. Add the butter and sugar, bringing it back up to a simmer while the butter melts into the sugar. Stir together until the sugar is fully dissolved. This should take another 5-10 minutes.

Add the cranberry mixture to the whisked egg mixture one tablespoon at a time. Whisk constantly as you continue to add tablespoons. The mixture should turn velvety smooth with out any chunks. Return the mixture back to the pot and stir until it’s thick enough to stick to the back of your stirring spoon.

Press the mixture through your fine sieve into a bowl. You’ll need to use your spoon or hands to really work it through the sieve. It took me awhile to get it all through, but resulted in a nice creamy mixture. Cover the bowl with saran wrap, making sure to press it to the top of the curd. Place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Stir before serving.