Monday, August 29, 2011

Fresh Tomato Soup

My mom and her friend Moira have been making this fresh tomato soup at the height of the season for as long as I can remember. We've always had a surplus of tomatoes from my Grandpa's farm and this is one way to use lots. My mom never makes just one recipe, she doubles or triples the recipe and freezes the soup for a touch of summer in the cold winter months that follow.

The soup is very fresh tasting and really tastes like a bowl of tomatoes at the best time. I love the freshness and delicious flavors with a little Parmesan melted on top. If you have too many tomatoes, make this, you won't regret it.


Blend these together in the food processor:
4 large carrots, peeled
4 stalks celery
3 medium onions
1 green pepper, diced by hand
14 large ripe tomatoes, peeled
1/4 C. olive oil and 1/4 C. butter...or 1/2 C. olive oil
1/2 C. finely chopped fresh parsley (use food processor)
1 bay leaf
18 leaves fresh basil (more or less according to taste)
salt (according to taste), approximately 1 T.
freshly ground pepper to taste
Grated fresh Parmesan cheese - for serving

Heat oil (and butter) in heavy pan. Cook carrots, celery, onion, and green pepper in oil 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, and continue cooking over moderate heat 25-30 minutes. Stir in parsley, bay leaf, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook 5 minutes. Blend slightly with immersion blender. Serve hot, sprinkled liberally with Parmesan cheese. This recipe freezes well.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa

Last week the grocery store was having an amazing sale on pork. I was able to procure 3 center cut pork chops for the low low price of $2.50! Total! Even though I had just purchased pork, I got those chops anyway. The best part was that they were not even close to their date or anything, just a great sale!

After a few days of not really doing much cooking do to a ridiculous amount of leftover roast beef, I finally looked up recipes for my chops. A recipe from epicurious sparked an idea in my mind for a pineapple salsa match to my chops. In the end, I kind of made up the recipe and it was pretty delicious. I recommend this recipe to all you pork chop and pineapple lovers out there. And I suppose you might be able to use something like mango instead.

3 Center cut pork chops
English prime rib rub or other favorite seasoning
2 limes
1 serrano pepper
1 pineapple
2 t olive oil

1. Chop your pineapple into bite sized pieces. Zest some lime into a bowl and add pineapple pieces. Chop the serrano pepper removing seeds and pith and add to the bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the pineapple. Stir and refrigerate at least 10 minutes.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
3. Salt and season the pork chops on both sides
4. Cook chops in the heated pan about 3 minutes per side until cooked through. After the first side is brown, add the zest and juice of your remaining lime.
5. In the last two minutes, add some of the juice from your salsa and some of the pineapple.
6. Serve warm with the pineapple salsa spooned over pork.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pork Chops with Peaches & Whipped Potatoes

For the first time ever, I have made mashed potatoes that actually taste like mashed potatoes! I can not tell you how awesome this is. These potatoes are both easy to make and quick to make and also delicious. However, they do use olive oil instead of butter and the flavor of my particular olive oil is really distinct, but I still found these potatoes delicious.

The pork chops I bought were much thicker I guess than I was supposed to use because it took them far longer than six minutes to cook through. I also thought that that the peach topping was just okay and probably would've been better if it was a peach syrupy thing (like cinnamon apples) instead of just peaches and onions. However, those particular peaches were perfectly ripe and delicious regardless.

This recipe is from the Everyday Food Magazine, September 2011
2lbs russet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1 inch pieces
salt & pepper
2 T + 1 t olive oil
1 C whole milk
4 bone-in pork chops (I only made two)
1/2 onion, diced small
2-3 firm but ripe peaches cut into wedges (nectarines or plums can be substituted)

1. In a large pot bring potatoes to a boil in salted water. Boil until fork tender about 8-10 minutes. Drain, return potatoes to pot. Mash with a potato masher until there are no big chunks. The method for mashing with a potato masher is to press and turn so that not only do you mash but you don't collect too much potato through the slits. When mashed to desired fluffiness, add milk and 2 T olive oil and whisk together. Add salt to taste and keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, in a large fry pan heat remaining 1 t olive oil. Add pork chops and cook until brown and cooked through about 6 minutes turning once (mine took at least 10 minutes). Remove from pan and keep warm on a plate.

3. In the same fry pan add onion and cook stirring occasionally until translucent. Add peaches and cook about 3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Serve peaches atop the pork and potatoes on the side.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Last weekend, I attended an early morning tamale making class. The class wasn't in a kitchen, it was held in the dining room of a family Mexican restaurant in the Silverlake neighborhood. I was surprised when we arrived to find over 30 people attending the class.

Everyone sat around the restaurant with their bowls of pre-soaked masa and added ingredients and assembled tamales as instructed by the teacher. Tamale making is a 2+ day process normally because first you have to soak the masa in water, then you have to soak the corn husks in water and you have to prepare your fillings before you can even think about adding spices and starting the assembly and then it takes time to cook them afterwards. In order to fit the class into two hours, the restaurant staff did all the prep work ahead of time.

We sat down and massaged oil and spices into our masa making sure it was evenly distributed. Then we took one soaked corn husk and ripped it into strips (the ties) and we took the others and spread a very thin layer of masa all over. After that we placed a small bit--like 1 T of filling in the center and tried our hand at folding, rolling and tying the tamales. Then my friends and I had breakfast while we waited the additional hour and a half for the tamales to steam.

I had one of my tamales the next day and the other two later and while they were delicious, the workmanship was less than stellar (I have a picture but it is so gross looking I will spare you)--I would make them again but only if I had a whole bunch of friends with me and it was the fun of the making rather than the precision of the final product that mattered.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You have to try this

It is tomato season. I love tomatoes from tomato season. They are sweet and juicy and totally different from your average store-bought tomato. The best ones come from my Grandpa's farm or from your average home-grower. Unfortunately, I can't get tomatoes from Indiana in CA, so I have to deal with the farmer's market instead--which is still delicious.

This time though I couldn't wait for the Farmer's market so I went to whole foods and paid the premium for mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes. Then I also bought some fresh mozzarella balls--I wanted burrata but was unable to shell out the $12 for it, so I stuck with this brand that was only about $4. I also purchased some lite rye wasa for the structure.

This is so delicious! The textures, the flavors the deliciousness. IF for some crazy reason you aren't a total tomato fan, don't try this. But for everyone else, make it now.

3 small balls fresh mozzarella (burrata preferred, buffalo approved)
2 sheets Lite Rye Wasa
1 small packet salt
1/2 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes or 6 slices fresh farm grown in season tomatoes

1. Slice cheese and place on wasa. Add sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Serve immediately. Repeat.

Pasta with Proscuitto and Orange

Joey was playing around with this Epicurious ap the other day and decided to choose the ingredients next to each other alphabetically--orange and pasta. There were only a mere 6 recipes in the results, but one struck his fancy and we decided to give it a try.

The pasta recipe was quick and easy and really quite delicious. You could easily use a substitute for prosciutto and then this recipe would be cheap as well!

The orange added a nice fresh flavor and was not overpowering. I would make this again!

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Orange

12 ounces egg tagliatelle or fettuccine (preferably fresh)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1" pieces
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente, about 2 minutes for fresh pasta, longer for dried. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; sauté until browned, about 3 minutes.
Add reserved pasta water, orange juice, half of zest, and cream; bring to a boil. Add pasta; cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and divide among warm bowls.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Marinated Flank Steak Tacos

I bought some flank steak planning to make these kebabs with a spicy pepper sauce. But then I used the jalapeno and pasillo pepper in that chili I made earlier this week. I still had a serrano but I just wasn't into it anymore. The seasoning on that flank steak was nothing and so it was all riding on the sauce.

So instead I decided to make the Pioneer Woman's marinated flank steak for nachos--but then instead of nachos make tacos. I made this decision at the store days after reading the Pioneer Woman's recipe. I decided to change it a little and get a little Mexican beer for the marinade. In all honesty, I read somewhere about the beer in the marinade--reading that if you did a dark beer it would make the taste bitter. I wasn't positive this was in the pioneer woman's recipe but I hoped it was. It wasn't. I used it anyway.

Revised recipe:
1 can chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
2 limes
1 Cup or so Mexican beer like dos equis but I definitely used an off brand
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed (Just smash them with a heavy pot and the peels will come off)
handful cilantro, stems & leaves
1 flank steak (about 2 lbs)

For Serving:
corn tortillas
queso fresca

1. In a mini chopper or blender combine can of chipotles and sauce, garlic, cilantro and lime juice. Blend. Add beer (i didn't measure) and olive oil (i bet you could skip it cause you used the beer). Blend
2. In a large ziploc bag place the flank steak, place in 2 bags if you can get it to be all flat. Cover steak with the marinade and turn to coat. Close the bag. Place in the refrigerator all day or overnight (I made mine in the morning and cooked it about 12 hours later).
3. Preheat the grill to very high heat. Grill meat about 4 minutes per side for medium rare (unless your steak is thicker in the middle, if so a little longer). Chop into small pieces and serve as tacos with desired toppings.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Baked Italian Sausage

Sometimes when we go to our favorite pizza parlor and we don't want pizza, Joey orders their Italian Sausage dinner. It's basically Italian sausage covered in sauce and cheese and baked in a hot oven. I've tried to replicate this recipe more than once but this time I think I could've been close--but I strayed and Joey noticed right away. On the other hand, I thought this was delicious if you weren't comparing it to Dino's.

If you want this to be more like Dino's do the following:
Use regular Italian sausage, use regular mozzarella, and add a little parmesan

1 Package Italian Chicken Sausage (I got that new Open Nature brand from Vons that comes in a pack of 4)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 T olive oil
8oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 t dried oregano
salt to taste
Pasta for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In an oven proof skillet heat, rub smashed garlic all over the pan, then throw the pieces in there. Add the olive oil and heat over med-high heat.
2. Add the sausages and brown all sides. Turn off the heat.
3. Pour in the entire can of crushed tomatoes, salt and oregano. Top with the cheese.
4. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
5. Serve with pasta

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Flavorful Crock Pot Chili

I haven't used the crock pot much recently. I might guess it's been almost a year! I went through a period where everything I made in it was bland and massive. Quantities for a crowd.

However, after a few disappointing days this week of having dinner plans and then long drives dashing those dreams, I decided the crock pot was the right thing for tonight.

So last night I did some searching around for a recipe I could make with the crock pot for tonight without going back to the store. I decided that I had everything to make a pot of chili--down to the cheese and the cilantro.

I searched the web and combined a couple of recipes to make my own. While the chili was a smidge salty it was really flavorful and I highly recommend it. I also think that it is extremely adaptable to your meat & bean preferences.

Flavorful Crock Pot Chili
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
2 t tomato paste
1/3 C chicken broth
1 1/2 T chili powder
1 t cumin
2 cloves garlic, papery skins removed, smashed
salt, to taste (salt more than you think for the crock pot but not too much. I can tell you that 1 1/4 T is too much, but only just)
1 pasilla pepper, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 jalepeno, chopped, half the seeds & pith removed
1 lb cubed beef, any variety (you could put 2lbs of beef in if you want more)
1 14.5 oz can beans, any variety (I used great northern)
2 carrots, shaved
shredded mozzarella, for serving
cilantro, for serving

1. Add all ingredients to a crock pot. Cook on low 9 hours (I did 9 but I bet 6-8 would work just fine, mine sat on warm for about 3 more hours due to timing and commute)
2. Serve with cheese and cilantro topping

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We made a complicated ice cream pie on the 4th of July. We made chocolate chip ice cream for that pie and it was good--but it wasn't amazing. It wasn't Fosselman's. So we set out to find out why. I started off by doing a little web research on the Fosselman's website and learned that they use Tahitian Vanilla to make that flavor. We couldn't imagine that that would make a difference but we wanted to try it anyway. After doing a few web searches and finding that Tahitian Vanilla is even more expensive than regular extract I put the project out of my mind.
Surprisingly, Joey did not. And on my birthday, I opened a damp amazon box with a few gifts soaked in Tahitian Vanilla. A little rough handling managed to shatter a bottle of the delectable ingredient soaking everything in its path. I smelled like vanilla for days.

Luckily the good people at Amazon understood their folly and sent us 3 new bottles of vanilla and we didn't even have to return the two that survived! Now just 5 jars of vanilla richer, we decided to set out on our quest and try to make the chocolate ice cream.

We followed the same directions as our first batch with the only difference being the Tahitian vanilla vs. Pure Vanilla Extract standard, usually Madagascar. Luckily, since ice cream lasts forever (unless you eat it all) we had some of the original batch left to compare.

The results floored us. The two ice creams taste completely different. The original chocolate chip ice cream tastes like your average one. The one with the Tahitian vanilla is almost a bit sweeter with a strong vanilla flavor but not the kind of vanilla you've been having all your life--a new kind of taste that's really hard to place. That Tahitian vanilla is definitely the Fosselman's missing flavor. We think that they use a tad more of the stuff though, and next time we'll add a bit more. We kind of want to make a bunch of plain vanillas now. We never want to make vanilla.

The Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
2 C half & half
1 C cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 C sugar
3 t Tahitian Vanilla (this makes the difference in it, but if you want plain jane vanilla then use it)
3 oz bittersweet or dark chocolate finely chopped
3 T vodka, optional (for softening)
Ice Bath

1. In the top of a double boiler heat half & half over simmering water until steaming.
2. Meanwhile, separate eggs and whisk the yolks. Whisk the sugar in with the eggs.
3. When the half & half begins to steam pour half of it into the egg mixture slowly and whisk vigorously so that the eggs don't cook.
4. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining half & half and cook stirring about 10 minutes or until custard coats the back of a silicone spatula and when you run a finger through the spatula the line stays.
5. When the custard is done place the pan in an ice bath and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
6. Pour the custard into a container and add vanilla and cream. Stir and refrigerate until cold, 6 hours or overnight.
7. When your custard is cool, add vodka if using and churn in an ice cream maker according to manufactures instructions, about 20 minutes. In the last minute of churning add the chocolate chips trying not to poor them directly on the dasher. Either eat as soft serve or store in a container in the freezer to harden.

Makes 1 quart

Monday, August 8, 2011

Citrus Marinated Blade Steak

I was planning on making marinated steak for dinner last night, but I forgot/didn't have any time in the morning to get the marinade prepared. So, I settled for a 20-minute marinade while the potatoes did most of their cooking knowing the thin blade steaks would take hardly any time at all on the grill.

I prepared a marinade loosely based on one I found on my Epicurious app while I was walking to the car from the office. The marinade calls for soy sauce which my husband insists he doesn't like and can taste a mile away, so I omitted it and instead used Worcestershire sauce and some actual salt. I think the marinade really did take and the thin steaks were pretty delicious--although possibly slightly overcooked. (Timers, I need to remember to set them)

Citrus Marinade
scant 1/4 C olive oil
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1 orange (it can be the same orange but be sure to zest before juicing)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon (same as above)
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
dash salt
1/2 t dried cilantro
dash pepper
thin steaks

1. Add all ingredients to a gallon sized ziptop bag. I found the best way to do this was to stand up the bag in a strainer type bowl (it was on the drying rack) with high sides, that way you don't mess up a dish!
2. zip the bag and shake around to combine.
3. Reopen the bag and drop in the steaks in the same size pieces you want to cook them in, zip the bag and move the meat around to coat.
4. Let sit 20 minutes or more, as long as overnight, turning occasionally so that all sides get coated.
5. Heat the grill, remove steaks from bag directly to the grill and grill until done, turning once. Serve with crispy roasted potatoes.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Citrus Roasted Chicken

On Sunday night I was going to make a complicated roast chicken recipe--but I never got around to it. Instead we went out and had Mexican due to some crazy indecision. But I would not let the chicken go to waste!

So Monday after work, I decided I'd make the chicken. Chicken only takes about an hour and a half to bake which sounds long but is really quite comparable to the time it takes to choose, drive to and order at restaurant. The problem was that this recipe wasn't a simple salt & pepper throw it in the oven chicken. This recipe had some chopping, a brushed on handmade marinade, the inside cavity stuffed. It was for all intents and purposes complicated to prepare the bird.

I adapted this recipe from what my sister in law calls the "best turkey she's ever had in her life." recipe. I might have taken a lot of shortcuts or I may have followed the recipe, but it was hard. In the end the chicken tasted like it had a bit of a citrus glaze, it was moist even in the white meat and it looked kind of pretty.

Citrus Marinated Roast Chicken
2 T butter, melted
2 lemons, zested and thinly sliced
1 whole chicken, about 4 lbs
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/4 C honey
1/8 C lemon juice
salt & pepper
1 onion, cut into cubes
4 celery stalks, sliced
4 carrots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2-3 bay leaves
1 small bunch thyme, tied
4 tiny apples or 1 large, cut into wedges
1 orange, cut into wedges
1/8 C orange marmalade

1. Stir together butter and zest. Attempt to separate the skin from the breast and legs area. Spread the butter-zest mixture under the skin, arrange lemon slices and then pull the skin back into place.
2. Mix together vinegar, honey and lemon juice, set aside
3. Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Brush the honey mixture all over the turkey and inside.
4. Preheat the oven to 425.
5. Spread the vegetables and spices on the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the chicken, breast side up on top and tie the legs.
6. Stuff the cavity with apples, oranges and leftover lemon. Arrange the rest in the pan. Drizzle the rest of the honey mixture all over the pan
7. spread the orange marmalade on the top and sides of the chicken.
8. Bake at 425 for an hour & a half or until the juices run clean and the proper temperature is reached.
9. Serve with the vegetables from the pan now covered in chicken grease.

We had dinner at 8:30, not so bad actually.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fresh-ish Tomato Sauce

I really wanted to try my hand at a saucy fresh tomato sauce using tomatoes from the farmer's market for tonight's dinner. The problem is that most fresh sauces take at least 45 minutes and I figured that would make for another too-late dinner. So I searched the internet and discovered a recipe for 15-minute tomato sauce. I was sold!

This did not take me 15 minutes.

I think it took about 8 minutes to get the tomato skins and seeds off. Beware, when you squeeze the tomatoes out to rid them of their seeds it sounds like you're kissing someone. So make it clear your method before the madness starts.

Then I did the rest of the steps and I couldn't get the sauce part to thicken. Meanwhile I defrosted some meat in the microwave and browned it to add it to the sauce. Once I decided I'd tried thickening for long enough, I added the tomato pulp back in, some spices, half a can of canned tomato sauce, some tomato paste and some spices. The pasta was ready then and I decided to serve instead of waiting in hope it would thicken. The flavors were all there but the sauce was a little runny...we had to eat some of the pasta with our spoons.

Fresh-ish Tomato Sauce
~1lb fresh tomatoes of any variety, I used roma but then I realized I should've purchased those damaged tomatoes they sell, whatever.
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t tomato paste
1/2 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1/2lb lean ground beef or turkey
Pasta for serving

1. Heat water in a large pot until hot. Meanwhile, cut x's in the bottom of your tomatoes. When you're done drop the tomatoes into the hot water. Let sit about 30-40 seconds. Remove the tomatoes without draining the water and rinse under cold water. Peel the skins off from the crosses and cut the green crow out with a sharp knife. Squeeze the tomatoes into the sink to extract some of the juice and the seeds. Repeat.
2. Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomatoes and smash with a potato masher to break up big chunks. Add a good dose of salt. Let cook 2 minutes or so over medium heat until the pulp separates from the juices.
3. In another pan, begin to brown the meat over medium heat, breaking up into small chunks.
4. Remove the pulpy tomatoes from the sauce with a slotted spoon to a bowl, set aside. Cook the sauce until it thickens about 2-3 minutes. If it doesn't thicken, just go to step 6 anyway.
5. Bring your same large pot of water to a rolling boil and add a large dose of salt. Add pasta and cook according to package directions
6. Add the pulpy tomatoes, browned meat, oregano and salt back to the sauce pan. Add tomato sauce and paste as well. Give it a nice stir and let it cook until the pasta is done. If you're lucky, it will thicken. In the last minute before serving add the basil to the top of the sauce and let wilt in the heat.
7. Serve sauce over pasta

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bratwurst & Apples

Don't you just hate how hot dogs & buns don't come in the same size packages? Even ballpark buns made by the same brand that packages the dogs refuses to put the same number of dogs as buns in a package. Someone needs to get on that and change the world.

So last week we had hotdogs, we bought buns. Then we had leftover buns when the hotdogs were gone. So, I brought some bratwurst. Bratwurst, to be totally annoying, comes in packs of 5. So now all of a sudden we happened to have the perfect amount of buns for the bratwurst. Then, I was grilling up 2 bratwurst and I looked at the buns to put them on the grill and discovered they were moldy. So we ate bratwurst sans buns that night, but we still had two brats left! There was no point in buying more buns.

So tonight I decided to make a little apple/bratwurst saute. I accidentally cooked the apples too long so it was more like bratwurst and apple mash, but I thought the flavors were good and perfect with the steamed aka roasted potatoes.

There's not much to the recipe but I'll lay it out here in case you find yourself in a similar situation on buns.

2 bratwurst (or whatever sausage you have on hand), sliced into coins
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t chili powder
3-4 small apples, cut into equal chunks
1/4 C chicken broth

1. Heat the broth over medium heat. Add apples and cook for 3 minutes or until starting to soften and brown. Add spices to taste and stir with apples. If the apples are cooked try to push them to the side a bit.
2. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through. Add more spice to taste. Serve warm.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


California has year-round farmer's markets filled with fresh produce. We're already lucky to be able to get stuff that the Midwest sees only some months throughout the year; but I always leave wanting more.

I yearn for a farmer's market like they must have in Hawaii, with oodles of tropical fruits--50 different kinds of mangos, 10 varieties of bananas, tropical fruits I've never tasted.

At this week's farmer's market just that happened. I was browsing the market at tortoise speed (nobody ever seems to be in a hurry in Santa Monica) and I spotted something new. Dragonfruit. It was sort of expensive at first glance, but then the guy game a 3 for $5 deal. I think it's pretty obvious that he didn't grow these himself, but I guess there's the possibility that he did...

I looked up some dragonfruit information on the interwebs and learned that lots of people think it tastes a little like kiwi. I also learned how to cut it and that the flesh can be either purple or white!

I thought that this dragonfruit tasted like peppery kiwi, in a good way. It is definitely my favorite fruit but I think it tops the charts for different and fun!

"Roasted" Potatoes

I spied a recipe online recently for roasted fingerling potatoes that used chicken broth in lieu of any oil. I thought I'd give it a try tonight. Before making them, I discussed the possible outcomes with a friend. We decided that the potatoes would likely be flavorful and moist but not crispy.

That's exactly what happened. I hate to even call these roasted. They are more steamed but in the oven. I thought the flavor was great though--a little garlic, some rosemary--some of the best steamed potatoes I've ever had. They're also pretty healthy for you as far as potatoes go.

12 oz new potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces or so (this was 3 potatoes for me and we ended up with about three half cup servings)
1/2 C fat free reduced sodium chicken broth (the real recipe calls for 1 C broth separated because they claim the broth will steam off, this didn't happen for me so I used half)
1/2 t salt (I actually used a rosemary salt instead of using rosemary & salt)
1 T rosemary, dried
1/2 t pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 400. In a small oven-safe dish with higher sides mix potatoes, and all other ingredients (but only 1/2 cup of broth). Arrange potatoes in one layer on the bottom of the dish. Bake 15 minutes, check to see if the broth steamed off and if so add another 1/2 cup. Stir to flip the potatoes. Bake an additional 15 minutes until fork tender.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Carmela Ice Cream

At last week and this past week's farmer's markets in Burbank a cute little ice cream truck has parked itself across from the berry seller. The blue truck has a chalkboard sign set out in front and a cherry ice cream man calling out about free samples from the window.

Sure, the farmer's market is before noon on Saturday morning, but what kind of morning is complete without a little bit of ice cream? Previously I have always been able to resist the frozen yogurt samples at the market, but Carmela caught me, and reeled me in.

Carmela Ice Cream is a shop in Pasadena. I've never seen it nor heard of it but that's mostly because when we are in Pasadena and thinking of ice cream we're headed to our favorite Fosselman's. However, now might we think twice?

I sampled the salted caramel ice cream and the brown sugar vanilla. Both were great, a distinct but light flavor, huge creaminess although a little icy on the vanilla--but remember, it's just an ice cream truck in less-than-ideal conditions. The store probably has totally different results. There are all sorts of flavors offered from the truck and all of them original. They also serve ice cream sandwiches, which, lets be honest is what i really wanted to try. But as I said, it was still Saturday morning. If only Carmela attended the Santa Monica market which takes place from 8-2pm, now that would be perfect for dessert!

The other problem with me and samples is that if I have one I inevitably buy a product. Especially if an actual human bean is handing them out looking at me expectantly. The first Saturday I saw the truck I was able to get out of purchase by telling them I'd come back after I finished my shopping. The second time though I was an immediate lost cause. I bought the brown sugar vanilla in the tiny little container for $3. It was kind of expensive, but I'm hoping it will be worth it as a nice treat with some blackberries and raspberries throughout the week.

Next time you're at the market or in Pasadena, give the place a try.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Graeter's Ice Cream

As many of you surely know, my brother in law and his family are major ice cream connoisseurs. They traveled far and wide to find the best ice cream made and they finally settled on a favorite, outsourced from Ohio, Graeter's.

Until recently, you could only obtain ice cream from this legendary ice cream purveyor if you lived in Ohio or via mail in an ice packed cooler delivered straight to your door.

While ice cream delivery does sound pretty awesome, it is really quite a treat and you can't have it when you want it, you have to wait. Now Kroger & Ralph's stores have started to carry the ice cream! Through a chain of family and friends, my sister learned this news and rushed to the store to buy every flavor they had. She then surprised her husband with an ice cream extravaganza. Later that weekend, I stopped by to give the ice cream my taste test.

Graeter's is known for it's special way of adding chocolate to it's ice cream. Instead of mixing in chips, they add melted chocolate to the end of the churning process giving the ice cream a bit of a chocolate layer that you hit with every deep scoop of the scooper. The method is similar to the Italian Stracciatella method except that it doesn't break down as much as the stracciatella does.

Because they are well known for their chocolate method their flavors all seem to have chocolate in them--even flavors you wouldn't expect working together with chocolate. But somehow they make it work. Graeter's delivers a creamy ice cream with the interesting chocolate crunchy layer and a huge variety in flavors (unless you don't like chocolate of any kind and then there is no variety), I particularly enjoyed the coffee chip and the black raspberry ice creams. I also really liked the packaging and had I seen it in the store without background probably would've purchased it on that alone.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Snoqualmie Ice Cream

It was hot this weekend. I decided to go shopping in the middle of the hot day. Bad idea. I ended up with some new yogurt drinks, some cold milk, some stuff I actually needed and cherry limeade. And then, while I was spending some time browsing the frozen section for something reasonably healthy that we could keep around the house for emergency dinners (aka nobody feels like cooking or leaving the house), I spied some ice cream I've never heard of...on sale.

Remember, it was hot, and ice cream sounded like a swell idea! So I went over to the freezer to check it out. Snoqualmie Ice cream. That name, snoqualmie came back to me from my days spent in WA during college. That name reminded me of mountains and lush landscapes and snow. Oooh so cold! What a delight.

The flavors were varied but the actual containers few. Honey Cinnamon Custard, Mukilteo Mudd Ice Cream, Caramel Gingersnap Gelato--all three a different type of frozen dessert. How to choose, how to choose? Somehow I ended up with Honey Cinnamon Custard. I'm 99% sure it was due to the Custard ending. Frozen custard is up there on the list with stuffed spinach pizza of foods I miss the very most from life in the Midwest.

Against my better judgement, I left the store with ice cream in hand. I had a spoonful to give it a taste late in the evening. It was soft and very cinnamony. The rich and creamy layers of milky goodness stay with me even hours after my first spoonful. It was seriously delicious. If you see the cute little cabin in the snowy woods on your next trip to the store. Buy it. And let me know which flavor is best!