Friday, July 29, 2011

Israeli Couscous Salad

This recipe is linked up at The Country Cook!

My parents had a party last week. 

There was a yellow bowl at said party. 

And in this yellow bowl was this salad.

And when I discovered this salad, I ate an embarassing amount of it.

And when I tracked down the owner of the yellow bowl and the maker of the fabulous salad who just so happens to share my name, I stalked her until she agreed to give me the recipe.

Actually, she was very sweet and happy to share her awesome recipe with me.

And I made it today for lunch for my girlfriends.

And now I'm sharing the recipe with you.

Because it's one of the best things I've ever eaten.

You'll need to make this ASAP.  And eat an embarassing amount of it.

Start with the couscous.  This is Israeli couscous.  Also called Pearl couscous.  Same thing.  I just like calling it Israeli couscous better.  It makes me feel kosher.

You'll need an 11-oz container.  I think this one was actually 11.53 oz., but who's counting? 

And you'll need 2 1/2 cups of water.

Boil the water and dump in the couscous.  Cook it for about 8 minutes.  You want this to be a little on the al dente side so that it's not mushy when it soaks up the yummy dressing we're going to pour on top.

While the couscous cooks, work on the vegetables.

I've never eaten raw sugar snap peas before, but I now like them better raw than cooked.  Cut those into thirds.  And then chop the green onions.

And the yellow bell pepper.  Chop it small.

Now for the grape tomatoes. 

We need to discuss the grape tomatoes. 

Elizabeth cut these tomatoes into thirds across.  This is genius.

I totally loved it!

Little tomato pinwheels running through the salad.

It doesn't take much to thrill me.

Put all the veggies into the bowl and then crumble in the feta cheese.

Mmmm...fresh feta.
Add some basil.  And when the couscous is done, put it in a colander and run water over it so it cools down and doesn't stick together.
Put the couscous in the bowl on top of all of the chopped veggies.  For the dressing, you'll need two lemons, juiced, one lemon, zested, honey, olive oil (of course!) and some seasonings.

Toss it together and chill it.  And devour it.

Thanks, Elizabeth, for introducing me to my newest obsession!

Israeli Couscous Salad

11 oz. container of pearl (or Israeli) couscous
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
8 oz. package raw sugar snap peas, cut into thirds or fourths
3 cups grape tomatoes, sliced into thirds across (like pinwheels)
Yellow bell pepper, chopped small
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin
8 oz. block feta, crumbled
10 basil leaves, chiffonade

1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp Spike seasoning

Bring the water to a boil and add the couscous and olive oil.  Simmer for about 8 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Dump the couscous into a colander and rinse with cold water for five minutes.  Drain well.

Add all of the chopped veggies, crumbled feta, and chiffonade of basil to a large bowl.  Add the couscous on top.  Add the dressing ingredients to the couscous. 

Mix well.  Chill completely before serving.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fresh Tomatoes: Not a Recipe

Last week it was 98 degrees, with a heat index of 110.  Pretty much every day.

It was so hot, I wasn't even very hungry.

Now that's hot.

So I cut up some fresh-picked tomatoes from the garden, sprinkled them with balsamic vinaigrette, salt and pepper.  And I couldn't resist a few blue cheese crumbles.

It's not a recipe but it's a pretty great lunch.

And a pretty simple use for the four thousand tomatoes we're getting ready to harvest.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich

Do you ever go to Penn Station?

No, not New York City.  Although that place is cool too.  I mean the place that makes hot subs with fabulous fresh-baked bread.

So anyway, we love it.  The subs are fresh and hot and creative.

The chicken teriyaki sandwich is one of my favorite things there.  But we don't eat out that much because, as anyone with two toddlers knows, it's just not that fun to eat out with two children who are more interested in causing a giant disruption and running circles around the table than actually sitting still and eating.

So I decided I could make this sandwich at home.  I think it's a pretty good knock-off.

Let me know what you think.

We have a toasted sub roll slathered with mayo, topped with teriyaki chicken, sauted onions and mushrooms.  Oh, and Swiss cheese. 

Broiled until bubbly.
Yes please.

I make these sandwiches in twos because me + my husband = two. 

Our girls are a bit too young to eat a large, hot sandwich.  Although Big Sister informed me today that she "got older," as in "I got older so I don't have to sit in my carseat anymore."

That's a negative, sister.

Here are the rolls I used.  They're really good.  I get them at Meijer and they're usually on sale.  They also freeze well.  I know this because I've done it. 

I generally make the Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich and the Italian Sandwich (will show you that later this week) within a few days of each other and then freeze the other four rolls for later.

So adjust this recipe to how many sandwiches you need.  It's easy to adjust.  Even if you're bad at math like me.

Saute your mushrooms and onions first.  You want the mushrooms to be soft but the onions to still have a little texture left.  Just don't cook them to death.

Put these aside and work on the chicken.

Saute some chicken - one small chicken breast per sandwich is a good ratio.  Chop it up with the sharp end of a spatula when it's mostly through cooking. 

And now you can toss in the teriyaki sauce.  This is a teriyaki sandwich after all.  Make your own teriyaki if you are really smart.  But if you're not, use the bottled stuff.  You better believe I use the bottled stuff.  It's good, so why complicate your life with things like homemade teriyaki sauce?

That's what I tell myself anyway.

Toast your bread.

And then smear mayo on it.

And pile on the chicken, mushrooms, onions, and then top it with Swiss cheese.

These are so stinkin' good.

You'll think you went to Penn Station.

Now, if only I could figure out how to make those fresh-cut fries...

Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich
Makes 2 sandwiches

2 sub rolls (6 inch)
2 T mayonnaise
1 T butter
1 smallish sweet onion (or half of a huge sweet onion), sliced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (I use Kikkoman brand)
4 slices Swiss cheese

Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the onions and mushrooms for about 8 minutes.  Season with the salt and pepper.  Set aside.  In the same skillet, saute the chicken breasts until cooked, chopping roughly with the sharp end of a metal spatula while it cooks.  You want the chicken to be in bite size pieces.  Stir in the teriyaki sauce when the chicken is done.

Split the rolls and toast them under the broiler on a sheet pan until they are lightly toasted.  Spread the rolls with the mayonnaise.  Pile the chicken and mushroom/onion mixture on the rolls and top with the Swiss cheese.  Be generous with the cheese - 2 slices on each sandwich is good.  Broil it again for a few seconds until the cheese melts.  But BE CAREFUL - the broiler will ruin your delicious sandwich very quickly!

Enjoy your Penn Station sub at home!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Snappy Cheese

Okay, ya'll.

I have to tell you about this Snappy Cheese.

But first I have to tell you about my uncle, the inventor of Snappy Cheese.

My uncle is a genius.  I know this.  And you will know it too after you make this dip.

My uncle's name is Stephen, which also happens to be my dad's name.  Which will also be the name of our next child.  Hopefully, for the child's sake, it will be a boy.  No, I'm not announcing anything.  And yes, we're really good at recycling names in this family.

See?  I recycle.  I'm green after all.

Snappy Cheese is a pimento cheese of sorts.  We love to eat it on crackers (Ritz or Townhouse are the best) but it is also delicious spread on buttered white bread and grilled in a skillet like a grilled cheese.  Only it's grilled pimento cheese.  Yum.

Oh, and this recipe also has a pound of cheese in it.  Add this to the ever-growing category of recipes on this blog that contain at least a pound of cheese.

Let's get started because this is really easy.

Use a hand mixer to mix up the cream cheese, pimentoes, grated onion, jalapenos, vinegar, sugar and Frank's.

Once it's mixed, fold in the mayo and shredded cheese.

Refrigerate it.  It may thicken up when it gets cold, so you can add a little bit of mayo to make it dip consistency.

Thanks, Uncle Stephen, for being such a wonderful uncle!  And thanks for your Snappy Cheese, too.

Snappy Cheese

8 oz. block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 oz. can chopped jalapeno peppers (not drained)
7 oz. jar chopped pimentoes (not drained)
2 T grated onion
2 tsp sugar
6 shakes Frank's Red Hot Sauce
2 T apple cider vinegar
16 oz. finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups mayonnaise
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Using a mixer, blend together the cream cheese, jalapenos, pimentoes, onion, sugar, hot sauce, and vinegar until creamy.  Use a spatula to fold in the mayo and shredded cheese.  This dip should be snappy, so add some cayenne pepper if you need more heat.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Before serving, stir it up.  If it seems too thick to eat with crackers, add a little mayo to make it a dip consistency.  Use buttery crackers to scarf it down.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tomatillo Salsa

I made tomatillo salsa this week. 

And then I proceeded to put it on everything else that I ate this week.

Tomatillos are like little tangy green tomatoes.  And when you roast them with onions and garlic and jalapenos and then puree them with lime juice and cilantro, the result is awesome.

This salsa is especially good with Black Bean Salsa with Chicken and Rice.

This is ridiculously easy.

First, take the paper husks off the tomatillos and rinse them under cold water to get the little bit of sticky stuff off.  Quarter them and put them on a sheet pan.  Cut an onion into chunks and put it on the same sheet pan.

Add a jalapeno, a handful of garlic cloves, some olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, put some cumin, cilantro and lime juice in your food processor.

As soon as the tomatillos have roasted, add them to the food processor and pulse it up.

Awesome. (The salsa, not the photo. I know.)

Tomatillo Salsa

1 pound tomatillos (about 6), husked, rinsed and quartered
1 large sweet onion, cut in large chunks
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and cut in half (take the seeds out for a milder salsa)
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T olive oil
1 T cumin
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)

Put the tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and garlic on a sheet pan.  Toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Put the remaining ingredients in the food processor and add the warm roasted tomatillo mixture.  Pulse it until it's the consistency you like. 

Serve with chips or anything else you can find to put it on.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quiche Lorraine

I'd like to introduce you to my mom's Quiche Lorraine.

If you think you don't like quiche, please read this before continuing.  Because anyone who doesn't like quiche is seriously disturbed.

Now that we have that cleared up, you're going to want to put these ingredients on your grocery list so you can make this on Saturday morning for your family.

It's only Tuesday, so you've got plenty of time.  You're welcome.

I could go on and on about how rich, creamy, cheesy, and simply fabulous this quiche is, but I'm going to show you how to make it and let you reach your own conclusions.

Isn't that fair and balanced of me?

Start with a pie crust.  One of the refrigerated Pillsbury ones is fine, provided that you let it come to room temperature on the counter before you try to put it into the pie dish.

Lay it in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and crimp the edges so it looks pretty when it bakes.

My mom is better at crimping than I am, so I asked her to do this one so you wouldn't think I was incompetent.

And now you want to cheese it.  We're only using a half a pound of cheese here.

It must be Swiss cheese.  And grate it yourself.   It melts better.  And tastes better.  And looks better.

Now let's make the egg mixture.  Basically just eggs, heavy cream, salt and pepper.

Easy peasy.

Put it in a 400 degree oven and let it go for 15 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 325 and bake it for another 22-27 minutes until it's done.

Oh my lands is this good.

Serve it with fruit as to not be completely ridiculous.

Or a jumbo muffin if you like being ridiculous.

Quiche Lorraine

1 9-inch pastry shell, fitted into a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate
8 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded
4 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt

Using your fingers, crimp the edges of the pie crust. Sprinkle the cheese on the bottom of the crust.

Whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper and pour it over the cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake another 22-27 minutes.  You'll know it's done when the top is slightly browned and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean (or with a little bit of cheesy goodness on it).

This is good served immediately or at room temperature.  If you have leftovers, it reheats well in the oven.

Housekeeping II

Have you noticed the new link at the top of the page called "My Recipe Box"?

Well, it's new. 

Did I already say that?

My recipes were too hard to find on my blog.  I needed a better organization tool.

So there you go. 

I'm here for you.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

And come back later because we're having my mom's Quiche Lorraine.  It's a killer.  In a really good way.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Key Lime Pie

After eating salad all week, it's time for some pie.

You've earned it.

I'm a Key Lime Pie connoisseur.  I eat it everywhere I can.  I like it thick, thin, with whipped cream, with meringue, plain.

But thick and creamy and plain - no whipped cream, no meringue - is my favorite.

The problem is that I have had a hard time figuring out how to make it this way at home.

Until Southern Living came to the rescue.  They published a lemon pie with two cans of sweetened condensed milk.  I mean, how bad can that be?  So I tried it.  I realized that this is exactly the way I love Key Lime Pie. 

So I made the crust the way I like it and switched key lime juice for the lemon juice.

And then I died and went to heaven.

You'll need to start with the crust, because we're going to bake it for a few minutes to make it set up before we pour the yummy, creamy filling in.

Use some graham crackers (duh), powdered sugar, and butter.

Mix it up and pat it into a pie dish.

Now work on the filling.  Remember what I said about two cans of sweetened condensed milk?

I was serious.

You'll also need egg yolks.  Six of them.  The good news is that now you have six egg whites.  You can make a meringue topping for the pie.  Or you can make meringues to eat later.  Or you can make an egg-white omelete.  I have no idea why you would want to make an egg white omelete, but I've heard that some people do that.

Oh, and of course you'll need key limes or limes or bottled key lime juice.

Now, normally I'm very against bottled juice of any kind.  But in this case, bottled key lime juice is wonderful (I know because I've tested it many different ways.  That is, if "testing" means making a recipe compulsively because I am obsessed with it.).

Or you can use fresh-squeezed key lime or regular limes.  Key limes are tarter and zingier than regular limes.  I love them.

Regardless, get a cup of some sort of lime juice.

And whisk in six egg yolks and the sweetened condensed milk.  And pour it into the baked and cooled graham cracker crust.

And then bake it all together for about 15 minutes.  This is just long enough for it to set up so that it doesn't run when you cut into it.

Is there anything more summery than key lime pie???

Key Lime Pie
Adapted from Southern Living

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup key lime juice
6 egg yolks

Mix the crust ingredients together and pat into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.  Bake on 350 degrees for about 7 minutes.  Cool completely.

Whisk together the filling ingredients and pour into the cooled crust.  Bake on 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Cool completely at room temperature and then refrigerate until chilled - about 4 hours.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Greek Salad

This is the grand finale of salad week!  Four salads in five days.

I hope you're impressed.

Don't count on it ever happening again.

Here's the story of this salad: pre-children, I went to Greece.  I loved Greek salad.  I made it my personal mission to eat Greek salad at least once per day every day for ten days.  It was awesome.

Every Greek salad I had in Greece had a few things in common: a thick slice of feta on top, lots of tomatoes and cucumbers and onions, and no dressing.

The lack of dressing is my only issue with authentic Greek salad.  I'm too American to eat a salad without dressing and I'm not afraid to admit it.

So I took inspiration from Barefoot's Greek Salad and whipped an oregano vinaigrette for my Greek salad.  But otherwise I stayed true: lots of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and slabs of feta cheese.

You'll want to make this soon, since veggies are in season and feta is always in season.  At least at my house it is.

Oh, and I'm tired of salad now.  So we're having pie tomorrow.

Greek Salad
Inspired by Barefoot Contessa

1 seedless cucumber, quartered length-ways and chopped into bite-size chunks
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and chopped into bite-size chunks
1/2 red onion, cut in half and sliced very thin
1/2 cup kalamata olives (optional but authentically Greek)
8 oz. chunk feta cheese, cut into 4 thick slices

2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Toss the vegetables together in a salad bowl.  Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over the vegetables, tossing well to make sure the veggies are coated in dressing.  Lay the feta slices on top of the salad and serve immediately.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Edamame Salad

Hi.  I'd like to introduce you to my new friend.

This salad.

I'm obsessed with it.

A friend told me about a salad with edamame, feta and Craisins.  So I made it.  And I added pine nuts, pepper, and olive oil.  And I can't stop eating it.

I tell you to make things regularly.  But this time, I'm serious.

Take some edamame - the shelled ones, which apparently are called mukimame (didn't know that until I went to Kroger) - and steam them in the bag.

While they're steaming in the microwave, put some dried cranberries and crumbled feta cheese into a bowl.  Feel free to use more feta if you feel so led.  I might be so led next time.

Add the edamame.  Drizzle some olive oil on top and sprinkle on lots of cracked pepper.

Toss on some pine nuts.

Toasted, of course.  But remember pine nuts have lots of oil and burn quickly.  Very quickly.  I have learned this lesson more than once.

The feta and olive oil mix together and kind of make a dressing.  It's just delicious.  The edamame - excuse me, mukimame - are a bit crispy and the craisins are sweet and the pine nuts are crunchy.

Oh, my.

I ate this salad right after I made it while it was still warm and I finally stopped after I had eaten about half of it.

So then I ate it again after it had chilled in the refrigerator.

I'm not sure which way I liked it best.

So I'm off to make it again to try and decide which way is my favorite.  I'll get back to you on that one.

Edamame Salad

16 oz. bag shelled edamame (mukimame), steamed in the bag according to package directions
6 oz. bag dried sweetened cranberries (Craisins)
4 oz. package crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 T olive oil
3/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Toss all ingredients together and serve immediately while warm or chill before serving.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tomatoes, Cucumber and Balsamic

And here's salad #2 for the week. 

Just because it's second doesn't mean it's a lesser salad.

It has four ingredients that were meant for each other.

Grape tomatoes.

Cucumber.  Click here to read about the type of cucumber you need and how you should chop it.

Balsamic vinaigrette, made with this:

And blue cheese.
You want the tomatoes and cucumbers to marinate in the dressing for a couple hours before you gobble it up.

And come back tomorrow for my new favorite salad: Edamame Salad with salty feta and sweet dried cranberries and crunchy pine nuts.  And that salad might actually qualify as healthy since it has edamame.

Tomato-Cucumber Salad

1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 seedless cucumber, cut into quarters and sliced across into small chunks
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/2 cup blue cheese

Combine the tomatoes, cucumber and vinaigrette and allow it to marinate at room temperature for a couple of hours.  Sprinkle the blue cheese on top before serving.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pea Salad

It's officially salad week on Pithy's Kitchen!  Or is it in Pithy's Kitchen?

I think it's both.

Now I'm confused. 

Anyway, let's make some salad!

I bet you thought I didn't eat salad, didn't you? 

Well, I do. 

I just make sure that my salads have cheese in them.  Or mayonnaise. 

My first salad has both.  We're off to a good start.

Notice that I did not call this healthy Salad Week.  Just Salad Week.

So let's make a pea salad.  This is adapted from Jamie Deen's recipe. 

I saw it, I made it, I ate it, I loved it.


Take two cups of petite frozen peas. 
Put them in a bowl and cover them with hot water straight from the tap.

We're not cooking; we're thawing.  And thus preserving all the nutrients peas have to offer.  This might be a healthy salad after all.

While the peas are thawing, put three eggs into a saucepan and cover them with cold water.  Yes, I can count.  I said use three eggs.

Put them on the stove, bring them to a boil, put the lid on, turn off the heat and set the timer for 15 minutes.

This method is the easiest way to make hard-boiled eggs without the yummy gray-ringed yolks. 

While the eggs cook, fry up some bacon.  Half a pound.  Gulp.

And now the peas should be thawed.  Drain them very well and grate a cup of cheddar cheese directly into them.

That mound of cheese completely covers the peas that are somewhere under there.  I might have used slightly more than a cup of cheese.

Oh well.  That's just how I roll.  Oh, and I like to use a fine grater because I like finely-grated cheese. 

When the bacon is crisp and drained, crumble it into the salad.

Now add some mayo - only about 1/4 cup.  You really won't need more than that.

And add the juice of half of a lemon.  And a generous amount of pepper.  And some sugar and Dijon.

No need for salt because the bacon is salty and the cheese is salty.  I told you this salad might be healthy after all.  It doesn't even have salt in it!

And now for the eggs! 

Drain the hot water and run cold water over the eggs in the pan.  Gently smack the eggs on the counter and roll them around so that the shell cracks and starts to peel off.  Under the running water, peel off the shell. 

I like to mash them with a fork.  But you can grate, chop or crumble them if you like.

Some of my eggs tried to escape off the plate.  But don't worry.  I captured it all.

And that's it.  Stir it up.  This salad is awesome at room-temperature.  Or you can chill it before you eat it.

But it's never lasted that long at my house.

It's not the most beautiful salad in the world, but it's one of the tastiest.

So glad you're here for Salad Week!

Pea Salad
Adapted from Jamie Deen

2 cups frozen petite green peas
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and mashed finely with a fork
1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp pepper

Place the peas in a bowl and cover them with the hottest tap water. When the peas have thawed, drain them well and return them to the bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Serve immediately at room temperature or chill before serving.