Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quick Fix: Hawaiian Meatballs

I know in an ideal world I would come home from work every night with a smile on face saying, "Let's get in the kitchen and make magic happen!"  But as we all know, this is not an ideal world, and some nights magic does not want to happen in my kitchen.  Or maybe it wants to, but I quickly stomp on it and say, "NO!  Not tonight!"  It could be because I am tired or it could be because I just don't feel like it, or like tonight's case, it could be because I spent enough hours cooking this weekend that I have no cooking creativity left in me.  What I do have, however, is a bunch of rice.  A BUNCH.  The rest of the leftovers from the party were chomped on over the last few days, but the rice remains.  So I grabbed some things I could put together to go with rice -- some easy things:

Three simple ingredients: 1/2 jar of Soyaki (basically soy sauce with garlic and some other stuff tossed in... $2.79 a jar), pineapple chunks minus the juice (20 oz. can for $1.29), and some meatballs (which you can easily in a variety of flavors where ever you go... turkey, pork, beef, veggie, it's up to you... about $3.50).

 I tossed it all in the pan...

... and let it cook on medium-high heat for 20 minutes, stirring once in a great while.

That, my friends, is dinner.

And it is delicious.  So what if I didn't make it all from scratch?  I did make it, or rather, throw it all together and let it cook.  But whatever, it tastes good, my belly is happy, and my rice is slowly dwindling away...

COST: $6.68 (including rice)   PER SERVING (4): $1.67
Throw a little salad on the plate to go with it, and you are just at about $2. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24: Festa Brasileira

I feel so honored that Foodbuzz selected my proposal for this month's 24x24.  For those of you that don't know, every month 24 food bloggers around the world are selected to host a dinner party on the same day, making 24 dinner parties in 24 hours.  My theme, Festa Brasileira, was chosen and I did a little happy dance.  And then I panicked.  Really, what do I really know about making Brazilian food, other than how to cook beans?!  Luckily I am blessed with great friends who rallied behind me, making this not only a dinner party, but a learning experience and a time for Brazilians and Americans to come together to make something fabulous happen.
In addition to all the prep work that happened the night before, there were a total of six cooks working in shifts for three hours before the party began -- and several who continued to work throughout the party.  All in all, we logged about 20 cooking hours between us... not counting the three hours spent driving around finding all the (sometimes hard to find) ingredients.  WHEW!

But all that work paid off, because we had amazing dishes waiting for us in the end.

(translated into English)

Brazilian Cheese Bread
Fried Yuca
Stuffed Tomato Baskets

Main Dishes
Beans and Rice with Farofa (Brazilian bread crumbs)
Hidden Meat Casserole
Steak Rolls

Brazilian Custard
Passion Fruit Mousse

Pineapple Juice with Mint

Being a Brazilian party, it seemed fitting to invite Brazilians!  Not only do they like to have a good time, but they look good doing it :)  Luckily for me, we live in an area that has many Brazilians around, and being married into that community, I had no trouble coming up with the list of invitees.  This list, however, was carefully planned: I invited young married couples (1 fully American, 2 fully Brazilian, and 3 half-and-half couples like Paulo and myself) and each couple knew about two of the other couples (but no more) so that new friendships could be formed.  And it was a success!  Everyone enjoyed themselves, the food was raved over, and in the end phone numbers were exchanged and plans were made to meet up again.  

I would like to say a huge obrigada! to the following people: Mindy and Caleb for giving us space to make this happen; Daniela for helping me come up with a truly Brazilian menu; Esther for taking the lead in the kitchen when I did not understand the recipes or what to do with them and having extreme patience with my attempts in Portuguese; Esther, Daniela, Caleb, Paulo, and Vicente for helping in the kitchen; Mindy for setting up the tables and chairs and making it look so nice; Mindy's parents for being great support with washing dishes and taking pictures; my mother-in-law, Nilza, in Brazil who shared her favorite recipe with us; and all of our friends who came out to celebrate.  This, my first dinner party ever, was a success because of YOU!  Muito obrigada, todos! 

And for you, my dear reader, so that you may enjoy a glimpse into the beauty and wonder that is Brazil and see why we were so eager to celebrate this beautiful culture, click on the video below.

Obviously, there are a lot of recipes here... and not all of them are possible to make for those that don't have access to Brazilian ingredients. However, here are the ones that I believe you will immensely enjoy and you can actually find the all the required ingredients.

Mandioca Frita (Fried Yuca)
2 lbs. yuca (Can be found at Whole Foods or Mexican style grocery store)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 t salt

1. Peel the yuca and chop in to pieces similar to what you would do to make potato salad, keeping it rectangular shape rather than cubed.
2. Boil the chopped yuca for about 15 minutes, until tender (about the same tenderness as potatoes for potato salad).
3. Let yuca cool. Heat the oil in a frying on medium-high heat and add the yuca and salt, cooking until a light golden brown. Let dry on papertowel lined dish.

Escondidinho de Carne (Hidden Meat)
3 lbs. yuca
1/2 cup milk
3 T butter
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 small can of tomato paste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Prepare the yuca like mashed potatoes (peel, cube, boil, drain, mix with the milk and butter, salt to taste). Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a large frying pan, add the oil and heat on medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until light colored, about two minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another two minutes.
3. Add the ground beef to the onion and tomato mixture. Add salt, about 1 Tablespoon (more or less depending on your preference). Cook until meat is no longer pink. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. In a large casserole dish, spread 1/2 of the mashed yuca. Next, add the meat mixture, spreading across the entire casserole dish. Use the remaining 1/2 mashed yuca to cover the meat, "hiding" it (remember the name of the recipe? There you go...). Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake for 30 minutes.

Bife a Rolet (Steak Rolls)
10 thin slices of Silverside beef, about 5 inches wide and 10 inches long
5 bacon slices, cut in half
1 tomato
1/2 onion
1/2 bell pepper
1 carrot
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 lime
1 teaspoon of salt

1.  In a dish, season the meat with the juice of the lime and the salt.  Set aside.
2.  Chop the tomato, onion, bell pepper, and carrot into 5 inch-long slivers -- ten of each vegetable.
3.  Taking one piece of meat at a time, place one piece of bacon and one of each of the vegetable pieces.  Roll like a burrito, tightly wrapping it so each end is covered and nothing can fall out.  Secure with toothpicks (2-3).
4.  Add the oil to the bottom of the pressure cooker.  Place the beef rolls inside.  Cook in the pressure cooker on medium-high heat for about 20 minutes after the pressure builds up.  When it is finished, be careful to let the pressure die down before you open the lid.

Pudim de Leite (Brazilian Custard)
4 Eggs
1 Can of sweetened condensed milk
Equal amount of regular milk
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. water

1.  Mix the first three ingredients together in a blender.
2.  Spread into bundt cake pan or a bain-marie pan. Bake in a water bath for 40 min.
3.  Melt the sugar in a small pan, adding the water and stirring to make smooth.  Add this syrup to the top of the custard when the custard is complete.

Suco de Abacaxi com Hortela (Pineapple Juice with Mint)
1 pineapple, peel cut away and cubed
10 mint leaves
Sugar to taste

Blend the first three ingredients in the blender.  Add sugar to sweeten.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cooking with Friends: Caleb (Meatballs with Cream Sauce)

I would like to introduce you to our friend Caleb. 

Photo by Tim Swensen
Caleb is good at many things.  As you can see, he plays some sweet guitar.  It was actually because of this guitar playing skill that Paulo and I became acquainted with him.  He plays guitar, my husband plays drums, we go to the same church, and so praise music and friendship started flowing at the same time. 

Something else Caleb is really good at is cooking.  Like, really good.  Straight-up-gourmet good.  He talks about ingredients I have never heard of before, and I just nod my head like I know what he is talking about, but really he could be speaking in Mandarin.  The few times I have helped him in the kitchen I was keenly aware of the fact that my chopping or dicing skills are lacking.  He cuts his veggies with such precision and speed, while I on the other hand chop in the roughest sense of the word.  (Really, it is going to taste the same anyway, right?)  When we eat at their house the table is beautifully set (I think this is where his wife brings her talent in) and the food is plated just so.  When they come to our house I put all the food in the middle of the table, toss some mugs of juice on the table, and tell everyone to dig in. 

You know what?  That is OK. 

It is good to have the opportunity to eat fancier cooking with the food set out in a gorgeous display and it is good to eat family style, with laughter and jokes the center of attention rather than the food itself.  Both ways are beautiful, and both ways are necessary for the human soul. 

A few months back I discovered a terrific recipe for meatballs, juicy and tender, full of flavor, covered with an equally delicious cream sauce.  Caleb, upon hearing about it, decided that he needed to try some of these meatballs and so the four of us got together: Caleb and Tiffany to cook while our significant others enjoyed the meal with us (and later washed the dishes -- oh the joy of being the cook in the family!). 
 A few days before we did this a co-worker and I were talking about cooking and she asked, "Do you know how to make a roux?" "A huh?" I responded. Clearly I did not. Or at least I didn't think so. That is until this night, when I was telling Caleb to melt the butter and whisk in flour... "Oh, we're making a roux..." I had no idea. I guess I am a gourmet cook after all and I didn't even know it! :)

Recipe from the Taste of Home Cookbook


  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can (14 ounces) chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


  • In a large bowl, combine the egg, milk, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, oats, onion, parsley, salt and pepper. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls. Roll in flour, shaking off excess.
  • Place meatballs on greased racks in shallow baking pans. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 10 minutes. Turn meatballs; bake 12-15 minutes longer or until meat is no longer pink.
  • Meanwhile, for sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, thyme, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add broth and cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Drain meatballs on paper towels; transfer to a serving dish. Serve with sauce; sprinkle with parsley.

COST = $8.30        PER SERVING (4) = $2.08
Plus Mashed Potatoes and Salad ~ $3.05 per serving

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Tiffany Burger

I make the best burgers.


And I am not one to brag about my cooking too much.  I mean, really, I can cook, you have all seen evidence of that.  My food is pretty good.  It is tasty, for sure.  Tasty and brag-worthy are two very different things. But my burgers?  They are off the hook.  I have been told that they are better than In-n-Out Burgers on more than one occasion by more than one person.  For those of you that do not know, that is pretty much the highest compliment a burger can have... at least in my book. 

Here is the thing: In-n-out burgers are amazing because the meat is juicy, yes, but mostly because of what they put ON their burgers.  They have this amazing sauce, fresh ingredients, bread made fresh and not dry.  For fast food, In-n-Out is king.  Shoot, for food in general In-n-Out is king.

The thing that makes my burgers so good is not really what I put on them, but what I put IN them.  Wanna see what I am talking about?

There you have it: The Tiffany Burger.  (Not to be confused with burgers made of Tiffany...)

So, what's the secret?  Ketchup and onions, garlic and salt (or garlic salt...), breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and the best ingredient: chopped up basil leaves.  Wowser, this thing kicks some serious burger-booty.  Build it on a simple bun with your basic condiments, the ketchup/mayo/mustard variety, and top with cheese, tomatoes, and more basil.  I don't even flatten them in a real way, I just kind of mix all the ingredients, grab a handful, smoosh just enough to make flat-ish, and throw them in the pan.  Or the grill.  Anyway you do it will pretty much yield the same result: mind-blowing.  A treat for your taste buds, to say the least.

There you have it, my total bragging about my food.  You know what?  I don't even feel ashamed of this unabashed boasting of my skills.  Try one tonight, and you will see for yourself.
Paulo can't have just one... but they are so filling that his belly probably wishes he could.

COST = $7.95        PER SERVING (4) = $2

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Paulo now comes in decaf blend...

When I was kid and my mom made her occasional cup of coffee, I knew it was off limits to me.  It would stunt my growth, turn my teeth yellow, and probably kill me in the process.  Besides, the one time I tried to take a sip without her looking I just about gagged and spit it out.  How did I know it needed cream and sugar?  Yeah... I was pretty sure I would never try that again.  Needless to say, I am not much of a coffee drinker.  Sure, I have my occasional frap from Starbucks, but I usually order decaf (you do NOT want to see me highly caffeinated -- or maybe you do, it is quite humorous, eye twitch and all).

And then there is my husband.

Photo from

The first time I visited Brazil I was not shocked by the amount of coffee they drank, really.  It is a cultural difference I expected.  What I did find shocking was heading outside and seeing several moms come out with trays of little coffee cups, serving the neighborhood children what appeared to be espresso shots at two in the afternoon.  The kids would stop from their running and playing, run over, toss back the black stuff, and head back out ready to paint the town red, again.  I have heard that some mothers feed it to their babies in bottles, but I have yet to see whether that is true or not.  The point is, Paulo is a Brazilian man, which means he was once a Brazilian boy, coffee and all.  It runs through his veins like pride on the fourth of July runs through ours, and that is all there is to say about that.

(And coming in at over six feet, I cannot say that it stunted his growth...)

Photo taken from an article at discussing (in Portuguese)
the pros and cons of giving children coffee to drink.

Photo from
The thing is, coffee is a major part of Brazilian culture.  While for us it comes down to a little jingle we can all sing ("The best part of waking up..." You know the rest.) and a Starbucks on every corner, it was a major shaper of the culture of Brazil in both the area of economics and the diversity of the Brazilian people.  (For more info:

So although I am not a coffee drinker, I knew my husband always would be, and that was fine by me.  As long as our children were not given cups of coffee when they visit Grandma's house that is!  But in all seriousness, I was not surprised when we received three coffee makers as wedding gifts (although we registered for none).  They would be used, either by us or family, and that was good.  Really, the idea of a Brazilian giving up coffee is like asking a born-and-bred American to give up peanut butter: sure, it could happen, but chances are it most likely wouldn't.

Well, wonder of all wonders:  Paulo has been coffee free for three weeks!  Who would have guessed?  His mom (an avid coffee drinker, even by Brazilian standards) decided to give it up for her health, his dad didn't really care for it that much anyway, so he joined her, and his sister thought something along the lines of, "Why not?"  When Paulo found out that everyone else had given coffee the boot he saw it as some sort of challenge.  If they could do it, he could do it, right?  And so he quit.  Cold turkey.  One day he was drinking coffee and the next he had a mug of OJ in front of him.  Last week I tucked the coffee maker away in the cupboard, never to be seen again.  (Well, unless we have company, I suppose.)  With a life's worth of coffee flowing through his veins we expected there to be headaches and other caffeine withdrawal issues, but really, he has been fine.  Just sleepy.  Before he would complain that people in America go to sleep too early ("It is only 10p -- time to get ready to go out!"), but now he wants to go to bed way too early, like nine o'clock.  I have to convince him that really, it is not time yet, and he looks at me with a face that reads, "How did you get so much energy?"  From a lifetime of energizing myself instead of having caffeine do it, Baby!  Just wait, it will happen to you, too.

Photo from, picture taken at a coffee farm in Brazil

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Week of New Recipes -- Day 7: Roast Chicken with Panzanella

Beautiful, huh?  You know how they say, "Make a rainbow on your plate..."?  Well, I definitely got the red part of the rainbow covered! 

Day Seven - the last day of the week of new recipes.  This was actually the second time I tried this recipe (even though it was in the new recipe plan, it looked too good to wait for a few weeks back).  The last time I tried it we took lots and lots of pictures, because it was so cool to make croutons from scratch and when all of the items were mixed together they looked so lively.  Unfortunately, my camera was on manual focus during the process and I didn't notice until I uploaded them on the computer :(  Oh well, all's well that ends well, right?  And this definitely ended well.

While I had the chicken roasting in the oven, I just put together a few ingredients...


And then we enjoyed.  :)

I loved making these recipes this week.  So many fresh, great ingredients and simple ways to mix things that I never would have thought of on my own.  But I must be honest, I am ready for food I do not need to read the directions for in order to make.  I am ready for some Tiffany Food, the kind that has a recipe living in my head.  Maybe some tuna casserole and mashed potatoes ;) 

This recipe, like several others this week, will make it into my regular planning.  It is nice to know that after I make them a few times I will not need to look at the directions anymore, and they too will become Tiffany Food.  Which is a good thing, because they sure were tasty!

*I used chicken thighs for this recipe instead of a whole chicken.  It was easier that way, and still tasted great.


  • One 5- to 6-pound chicken (OR CHICKEN THIGHS)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 whole wheat country loaf, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Place the chicken breast side down on a work surface. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone; pull out and discard. Open the chicken like a book and flip skin side up. Press on the breast until the bone cracks. Pat dry.
  2. Place a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Rub the chicken all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil; season well with salt and pepper. Place the chicken breast side up in the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast until the skin is crisp and golden and an instant-read thermometer registers 165° when inserted into the thigh, 40 to 45 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before carving.
  3. Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet; toast until lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, parsley, garlic, remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add the bread cubes and toss. Serve the chicken on top of the bread salad.
(Recipe from

COST = $10.05       PER SERVING (3) = $3.35

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Week of New Recipes -- Day 6: Salmon with Lemon-Dressed Veggies

Veggie lovers, behold!  I have found the perfect summer dinner.  Perfect.  And there is no exaggeration there.

This was, by far, the easiest and most tasty recipe this week.  The asparagus soup is probably the one that could give a run for its money on the tasty side, although I am not sure which one would actually win, but this meal, WOW.  Great taste, fresh ingredients, and super quick and simple.  So simple, in fact, that it was a little like A B C or 1 2 3... 4.

ONE --  Cook the potatoes       TWO -- Make a simple vinaigrette 
THREE -- Roast the potatoes and asparagus         FOUR -- Toss all together

And FIVE I guess -- Add cooked salmon on top.  Ta-da!

This seriously took me about 25 minutes from start to finish, and half of that time was free time waiting for things to cook.  My only disappointment was my salmon.  I am a great salmon cook-er.  Usually I just sprinkle some lemon-pepper on top and broil it on high for about 7 minutes.  EXCELLENT salmon, my friends.  This recipe had me bake it, which I think would have been OK except I went all cheap-o and bought frozen salmon.  The cheapest frozen salmon, not the kind I usually buy.  Tried to save a buck and I was met with lots of white ooze on my salmon (which is why you will see no close-up the fish itself, I want to spare you).  So next time I will make these veggies, broil my salmon -- FRESH SALMON -- like normal, and enjoy one of the freshest meals mother nature has to offer.

My trusty sidekick for this week.
One more day of this new recipe week and I will be done... so far so good.  Let's see what the next meal has in store for me! 

But for now, enjoy this on a nice summer evening.  You will not regret it. 
Scores?  10 and 10. 


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound small red-skinned potatoes (about 6), quartered lengthwise
  • 2 cups white mushrooms (about 5 ounces), halved
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, cut crosswise into thirds (about 2 cups)
  • Four 6-ounce salmon fillets with skin
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and roast in the oven until the asparagus is crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, rub the salmon all over with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the salmon, skin side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet; roast until opaque in the center, about 10 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the parsley, garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss with the roasted vegetables and serve with the salmon.
(Recipe from

COST = $14.70        PER SERVING (3) = $4.90

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Week of New Recipes -- Day 5: Spinach & Mushroom Pasta with Walnut Pesto

I have actually made this recipe before, nothing "new" here.  I had snatched it up as a recipe I wanted to try before I decided to do the weekly meal plan.  But I liked it last time, so I wasn't too disappointed to see it on the menu again.

Like last time, I substituted chicken sausage in for the ham.  I love me some chicken sausage!

And this recipe is dairy free, which also make me a very happy woman.  Cheese... I have quite the love/hate relationship with it.  My taste buds love it, my stomach hates it.  So whenever I can make a good recipe without cheese or any other dairy product I get excited. 

However, this time didn't out as good as last time.  I don't know what happened, but it just wasn't very flavorful.  I was able to fix it by adding a little more lemon juice and some salt.  Maybe that was my problem to begin with, the lemon I was using was a little dry.  So, this time it didn't get the best of marks (7 and 8), but if memory can be trusted (along with that blog post I put up at the time), it was a pretty solid 9/9.5 last time.  That just means I need to make it again and make sure I have a fresher lemon this time!

My changes are in italics. 


  • 1 pound penne rigate pasta
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Half a pack of chicken sausage, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 cups white mushrooms (about 5 ounces), thinly sliced
  • One 6-ounce bag baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup walnut pieces (about 4 ounces), toasted
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Push the sausage to the side, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
  3. Using a small food processor, mince the garlic. Add the walnuts, parsley and lemon peel and process until finely chopped. With the machine on, add the lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Process to form a paste.
  4. Add the walnut pesto and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pasta; toss to coat thoroughly. Stir in the sausage mixture, adding more pasta water if needed; season with salt and pepper.
COST = $8.15       PER SERVING (3) = $2.72

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Week of New Recipes -- Day 4: Roasted Caulifower Quiche with Garlicky Green Beans

White and green, with a hint of yellow/tan thrown in.  That was the color scheme of dinner for night four. 

I have never made a quiche before, but I have eaten plenty of them, and I knew that I was excited to try to make one.  My husband was also excited to have some "quich-ee" (as it is pronounced in Portuguese).  I just wasn't so sure about the cauliflower.  I am really not a cauliflower girl unless it is raw and dipped in Ranch... then all I taste is the Ranch, and that tastes good ;)  But, alas, it was on the menu for the night and I decided to give it a try.

The recipe was meatless, but I had no worries about getting our protein in: we had eggs, and plenty of them! (Eight to be exact.)  According to, "Egg protein contains all the essential amino acids in the exact proportions required by the body for optimum growth and maintenance of lean, metabolically active muscle tissue."  Yeah, a little tough to break down, I get it, but in essence: Eggs are healthy for you.  Eat your eggs.  (We definitely did!)

When we combined those eggs with cottage cheese, the roasted cauliflower, some garlic, and a little bit of cheese, we got this:

Oh, it smelled so good.  So good!  And doesn't it look beautiful?  The first thing I said was, "It's so easy!  Next time we have a potluck get-together somewhere I am bringing quiche!"

Well, maybe I will.  But I won't be bringing roasted cauliflower quiche.  It was good, don't get me wrong, but it was not great.  The smell was great, it looked great, but it tasted... OK.  Paulo gave it a 6.5 (he says it didn't have a lot of taste) and I gave it a 7.5 (the egg part was a good enough, but that darn cauliflower taste!  and yes, it was a little bland...).  So, not necessarily a repeater for us, but if you like cauliflower, GO for it.  You just might want to add a little more cheese to intensify the flavor.

But the green beans were pretty good.  I will make them like this again, for sure.  Time to go find a quiche recipe with five stars to put them next to!


  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 2 cups)
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, 3 thinly sliced and 2 finely chopped
  • 1 cup (about 2 ounces) fresh coarse whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 8 eggs
  • 3/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 pound green beans


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper and arrange in an even layer. Roast until tender and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the sliced garlic and cook until lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and toast until golden, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to a plate. Wipe out the skillet and reserve.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, the parsley and chopped garlic; season with salt and pepper. Spread half of the garlic breadcrumbs in the pie plate and top with the cauliflower. Pour on the egg mixture, gently shaking the plate to settle the mixture; sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake, rotating halfway through, until set and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
  4. In the reserved skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beans and 1/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until crisp-tender, 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining garlic breadcrumbs.

(Recipe from

COST = $7.75        PER SERVING (4) = $2.00

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Week of New Recipes -- Day 3: Steak-and-Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing

I spent over an hour yesterday cleaning up after the asparagus explosion.  I was finding pieces of green everywhere, and I probably will be for days (or weeks... but hopefully not months!).  After spending so long in the kitchen I didn't know if I would be excited to try a brand-new recipe and spend more time in the kitchen (the first time going through a recipe is always much longer than the subsequent times, you know how it goes).  But I plowed through, and boy, am I glad I did!

Day three found me working with the freshest of ingredients once again.  I had potatoes, spinach, a lemon, an onion, tons of garlic, tomatoes, some steak, and a loaf of bread in front of me.  I love fresh ingredients.  They make me feel like I am doing a magic trick... taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and I get something (hopefully) amazing in the end.  THIS is the kind of stuff our bodies were meant to have!  I have come a long way from Kraft Mac n' Cheese and Rice-a-Roni ;)

And look at what I did with all that!

Once again, we loved this meal.  This week is having quite the success rate!  My husband loved it because it had steak, something I rarely cook -- who am I kidding?  I never cook steak.  Usually if we are eating red meat it is coming off the grill, and I have done nothing to make that happen.  I just enjoy it -- and let me tell you, I really do enjoy it.  (If you want good BBQ find a Brazilian to make it for you, you will not be disappointed.  Lucky for me to have married such a man, huh?) 

A view of our typical meat eating experience -- top sirloin
surrounded by veggie meat.  What can I say?  I like both!

While he was enjoying the steak-iness of it, I was amazed at how good my own made-from-scratch dressing was.  WOW!  I have made dressing before, but this was on par with the stuff from the pros, and a lot lighter feeling.  Again, we must give this meal a ten.  (Now before you think we are too easy here, last time I did a Weekly Meal Plan from Rachael Ray I think we gave almost everything a score in the 7-9 range, with only one 10, so this really means something.  Take our word, try it and see for yourself.)

The only change this time was I added some tomatoes to it.  It was something like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.


  • 3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic—3 thinly sliced, 2 crushed and 1 finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 whole wheat country loaf, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 pound skirt steak, cut crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces, at room temperature
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • One 6-ounce bag baby spinach


  1. In a saucepan, combine the potatoes and crushed garlic with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch; season with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain; set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, the mustard, lemon peel, lemon juice and finely chopped garlic; season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; add the sliced garlic and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to paper towels to drain. Add the bread cubes to the pan, season with salt and pepper and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Season the steak with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, turning once, for 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.
  5. Quarter the potatoes and add to the vinaigrette, tossing well. Add the onion and spinach, season with salt and pepper and toss again. Divide the salad among plates and top with the steak, garlic slices and croutons.
COST = $13.75        PER SERVING (3) = $4.59
(Recipe from

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Week of New Recipes -- Day 2: Creamy Asparagus-and-Sausage Soup

Look at these ingredients!  I knew I would like this meal just from looking at what was going to into it.  It seems so little, really, but it all works together and adds up to something... & healthy

...home cooked
(If only I could take pictures of the amazing smells that occurred during this process!)


The directions said, "Working in batches, put soup in the blender and set aside."  What it should have said is, "Working in very small batches..." and then they should have reiterated that point.  Several times.  My batches clearly were not small enough, and even though I would be able to puree a smoothie with that much in the blender, I think the heat made this a very different process.  The moment I hit the "Puree" button hot, green, goopy liquid went flying all over my kitchen... and me.  My husband, being the one to protect me at all costs, came to the rescue -- or so he thought.  "Babe, you need to really push the cover down, like this..."  And then he pressed the button and the whole thing happened on repeat.  Green slime, everywhere.  HOT green slime. 

We just looked at each for a few seconds, and then we laughed.

Really, what else could we do?  (And to think, I had just scrubbed the entire kitchen earlier that day...)

But in the end, we also had something...

Notice the soup on the side of the bowl?  We were finding it EVERYWHERE.  However, I was more concerned with the soup in between my toes than the soup that got on the dishes.

We LOVED this soup!  Even the hater-of-soup loved it.  He gave it a ten.  I, of course, gave it a ten as well.  But with my super love of soup that should come as no surprise to you.  It was hearty, creamy, a little tangy (thanks to the yogurt), and just down-right scrumptious.  I will make it again, I will just be a tad bit more careful ;)

Once again, this recipe came originally from Rachael Ray as Creamy Asparagus-and-Ham Soup, but I made one small adjustment:  chicken sausage instead of ham.  CLICK HERE to see the original recipe.  Also, I do not have a Dutch oven (actually, I had to look it up to see what it is... remember, I am learning to cook still!), so I just used a normal pot.  It worked out just fine.

INGREDIENTS:  (My changes are italicized.)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pack of chicken sausage, cut into 1/2 inch cubes    
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well   (I had frozen leeks, so I defrosted some and used those) 
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 small red-skinned potatoes (4 to 5 ounces total), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 bunches asparagus (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch
  • One 6-ounce container plain yogurt
  • 1/4 whole wheat country loaf, for serving


  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat; add the sausage and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate. Add the leek and garlic to the pot and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and chicken broth and bring to a simmer; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. Scoop out 1/2 cup asparagus pieces and set aside for garnish. Using a blender and working in VERY SMALL batches, puree the soup. Return the soup to the pot, whisk in the yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle the sausage and asparagus pieces on top and serve with the bread.
COST = $10.30        PER SERVING (4) = $2.58

(Adapted from

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