asian turkey balls.

asian turkey balls.

A shameless perk of writing your own food blog is that you can post your favorite recipes to the Interweb to refer back to in a snap.

Earlier this week, I opened the ol’ blog to reference the Spicy Tortellini with Eggplant and Peppers recipe and was hit pretty hard by the fact that it was the last thing I’d posted. I’m not one to make the same thing week after week because, frankly, it bores me. (Also because I’m constantly tearing out new recipes and sticking them to the fridge, which results in a revolving collage of culinary inspiration.)

Thus, my circling back to the tortellini not once but TWICE was speaking loudly to my absence from the blogging arena. To make it up to you, I shall deliver upon my return a most wondrous dish: Asian Turkey Balls. Erm, Meatballs.

The name may not activate your salivary glands or get your tumbly rumbling, but let me be perfectly clear: These Asian Turkey Balls are so savory and succulent that once you’ve tried them, you won’t care what they’re called. ‘Nuff said.

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garlicky sautéed shrimp, arugula and tomatoes.

garlicky sautéed shrimp, arugula and tomatoes.

I love shrimp. They’re heart-healthy, quick to defrost and great with endless flavor combos, so I always keep a bag of them in the freezer.

This fall, I also fell in love with arugula and its peppery taste and crisp, yet tender bite. I pick it up in bulk, rather than pre-bagged and keep it in a sealed Ziplock with a paper towel, which helps it stay fresh longer. It’s great for salads and on sandwiches, but as I’ve noted the abundance of recipes incorporating it into warm dishes, I recently tried one out to great satisfaction.

I actually found this recipe in the pages of Everyday Food’s June issue, as I had recalled a feature on arugula, but it was a light and tasty dish for a weeknight and literally took 15 minutes to make, as promised. Plus, arugula and tomato are both sources of Vitamin C to help stave off seasonal colds.

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not your ma’s brussels sprouts.

not your ma’s brussels sprouts.

When I was about ten, my younger brother and I sat at the dinner table alongside my dad with grimaces on our faces as we peered at the foul-smelling, mushy green spheres taking up real estate on our plates. As smelly steam rudely crept into our nostrils, my mother grabbed her purse, kissed us on the heads and scooted off to her monthly neighborhood Bunko night.  Before the door closed, she promised over her shoulder, “Just eat ’em, they taste like lettuce.”

A bigger lie has never been uttered.

Brussels sprouts, unarguably, have a bad rap. Especially among clans of playground-dwellers. Before I’d ever laid eyes on one, I knew the ominous veggie was no good and that I should do everything in my power to steer clear. They were the butt of jokes and the focus of books in which kids were forced to sit at the table until they choked them down. (Those books also tried to convince you how tasty and nutritious Brussels sprouts are for you, but we knew better.) I considered myself immensely lucky for never having personally experienced such a torment.

Lucky, that is, until that fateful dinner.

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hearty eggs in marinara.

hearty eggs in marinara.

I’m sure I’ll start whining about the cold soon, but for the moment, I’m loving how the days have been bright and breezy and the nights have cooled enough for jeans and a cardy. Cooler temps also mean it’s finally appropriate for me to post one of my favorite comfort food recipes: hearty eggs in marinara. Put an emphasis on hearty, folks, because this is not a breakfast dish but rather a great excuse for eggs in the evening.

As an equal opportunity omnivore, I am generally open to eating anything, anytime of day. During debauchery-filled college weekends, my roommates and I would arise in the p.m. hours, groggy and in need of sustenance, and while Rachael habitually required classic breakfast fare for her first meal of the day, I was content nuking leftover pizza.

This is probably why, when I spent a semester of undergrad in Alicante, Spain, I was completely at home with their custom of serving eggs with everything at any time but breakfast. Hamburguesa especial, a burger piled high with the standard fixin’s and topped with a slice of jamón (the Spanish love their ham) and a fried egg, was a particular artery-clogging fave.

Susana, the sweet Argentine woman who played the part of my madre while I shared her brightly furnished apartment, also loved topping fried pork cutlet with marinara, melted provolone and, of course, a fried egg. (This delicious culprit was a contributing factor to why, despite my pedestrian lifestyle and the five flights of stairs I regularly climbed up to our brightly painted piso, I did not, in fact, lose weight during my six months on the Mediterranean coast.)

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chipotle chicken-and-rice bake.

chipotle chicken-and-rice bake.

When you’re borderline OCD about scouring food mags and cooking sites, ravenously seeking inspiration before locking in on a tempting meal quest, you can’t help but pick up a few gems along the way. Gradually, I’ve developed some sense of what flavors mingle together best, as well as which shortcuts are handy and which are epic fails (despite anything you read online about rice noodles, you will actually need to soak them for an entire day).

Eventually, with a fair share of satisfying wins to balance those devastating fails, you’ll manage to throw something together with confidence that it will likely result in an enjoyable dining experience. The following foolproof recipe was lovingly concocted by yours truly and based on a couple recently acquired gems that fall under the category of handy shortcuts:

 

  1. Canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce make a fantastic, no-fuss marinade.
  2. Lipton, the quintessential iced tea producers, also offer surprisingly tasty boxed rice mixes.

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chilled cucumber-mint soup.

chilled cucumber-mint soup.

As promised, the souping ensues…

Many moons ago, when there was still a chill in the air and scarves were wrapped snuggly around necks, I stumbled upon a recipe that I thought would interest my mint-loving man. I mentioned it to him. Actual globules of drool could be heard dropping onto his iPhone. (Good call on the screen protector.) He’s been bugging me to make it ever since. However, when it’s 45 degrees outside, a cool-as-a-cucumber meal isn’t what I call comfort food.

But now it’s May. And it’s Texas. So it’s already danged hot. Oh, I know. This is nothing to where we’ll be in a couple months, but I’d say it’s certainly warm enough for a summertime treat. Tuck this recipe in the pocket of your cut-offs, and you’ll welcome the face-melting heat as an excuse to cool off with this refreshingly breezy blend of good-for-you ingredients. (Also a great excuse to hit up your local farmers market.)

To whip together this Chilled Cucumber-Mint Soup, brought to you by the Martha Stewart Empire, you’ll need:

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spicy cabbage soup with sausage.

spicy cabbage soup with sausage.

Last week, I attempted to make a dent in the invasive pile of unread magazines that has grown to unreasonable heights on my coffee table. Part of the problem is that, a little over a year ago while I was planning and editing the music section of a city mag, I wisely decided to up my industry knowledge by ordering a three-year subscription to Rolling Stone. In my defense, at a mere 78 cents an issue, it seemed like a steal compared to the outlandish $5 newsstand price.

However, as the semi-weekly issues splayed across my former college coffee table began to gather dust and beer-bottle rings, I realized I’m not actually that big a fan of RS (probably because they don’t have recipes in the back. Also because of the absurd number of consecutive times U2 has appeared somewhere on the cover.) But of course, at the fear of sending trees to die without purpose, I diligently skim through each one and will continue to do so until my subscription runs out in March 2012. So it goes.

Anyway, food, I’m talking about food.  As I reached the end of an issue of Women’s Health and my stomach began to rumble, I thought, Why the heck don’t I make more soup? I’m quite fond of the stuff. And most soups embody so much of what I love in a good recipe: versatility (time to clean out the fridge), simplicity (chop, simmer, slurp) and easy clean-up (the original one pot meal).

On this particular day, as the pantry was rather bare, the versatility aspect was very attractive, so I utilized a WH recipe for a soup of the Savory Moroccan variety for inspiration and proceeded to mangle it until it was something completely unrelated to the original recipe, with the exception of four or five surviving ingredients. Anywho, this is how it went.

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