A Little About Me

New York, New York
As a newly married woman, it has become my mission in life to learn how to cook. Gone are the days of picking up sushi and ordering curries. In order to jump-start my education, I enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education's Fine Cooking I course where I learned the basics, from roasting to boiling to mousse-making (ok, maybe not that basic)! I've attempted to replicate some recipes - somewhat successfully- and create a few of my own. This blog is for friends and foodies and is intended to document my cooking adventures (and occasional fiascoes). Enjoy the pictures and bon appetite!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It's kind of funny...... in learning how to cook, I've learned how to make all the things my husband likes to eat. Coincidentally, he has a thing for ethnic food (curries, stir fries, etc......) So, while I have yet to master cooking a piece of salmon, I've managed to create quite a delicious chicken curry. While the basis of this recipe comes from my sister-in-law, I have altered the ingredients to fine tune the recipe into a flavorful dish with a kick!

3 boneless chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 sliced white onion
1 1/2 red peppers
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 sliced carrots
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can lite coconut milk
1 carton vegetable or chicken broth
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne papper
2 tbps curry power
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
olive oil
Jasmine Rice

Start by cooking the chicken chunks in a hot pan with some olive oil. Set aside. (The chicken will be added to the curry pot when the curry has been on the stove for a while. Adding the chicken later prevents overcooking -- you want chicken chunks, not shreds!)

Heat up a few tbsps of olive oil in a large pot and throw in the sliced onions. After a few minutes, toss in the carrots and peppers.

While the vegetables are cooking in the pot, mix in the spices. I recommend starting with small amounts and adding as you go. You can always add more spice but it's not so easy to get rid of that spiciness!

Next, add the garbanzo beans and cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes should go in whole - they will burst while cooking, providing nice color and tomato juices!

Add the can of lite coconut milk. Fill up the can with vegetable or chicken broth and add. Repeat, adding another can of stock.

Bring the mixture to a boil over a hot flame, then reduce and let it simmer on low for 25 minutes. Add the cooked chicken and let simmer for another half an hour. Check on the dish and, if the liquid reduces, add in about another half cup of stock.

While the curry cools, prepare the ric which it will be served over.

I can't share a recipe for making rice because I use the rice cooker that my mother bought me for my bridal shower. As I've mentioned before, it makes life a lot easier. (I once walked to a chinese restaurant and ordered a side of white rice after burning three batches of my own).

In the end, you'll have an authentic curry and something a little more exciting than lasagna to 'wow' with.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Garlic Bread; For When You Need Some Carbs on the Menu

Garlic bread is a great start to any meal, Italian or other. Since I've been making a lot of soups and vegetable side dishes lately, I've needed a carb-centric item on the menu to help fill up my usually starving husband. The three things, besides a loaf of bread, that you'll need are olive oil, garlic paste and two cloves of finely minced garlic.

Start by slicing your loaf in half. Drizzle bread with a healthy amount of olive oil, squeeze and lather some garlic paste onto both halves and spread on the minced garlic.

Place one half of bread on top of the other and wrap the loaf in tin foil.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven, open the foil and separate the halves. Place back into oven and broil for a few minutes, or until you see the bread start to brown a bit.
Remove and let cool before serving.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Carrot Ginger Soup

Since summer is on the way , I've been feeling the need to make as many soups as possible before its too late! My husband LOVES fresh ginger, so what better soup to make than carrot ginger soup?!? This soup is so great because it's delicious, even without adding any heavy cream.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 diced medium red onion
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp of minced fresh ginger
  • 2-3 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1½ c. chopped carrots
  • 3 c. vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook until soft, then add ginger and garlic and cook about 2-3 minutes.

Add the carrots and vegetable broth.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are very tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender.

Serve when at the desired consistency and top with a few cooked carrots.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My First Time (Cooking Swiss Chard)

I found myself in the Union Square Farmer's Market yesterday afternoon, looking for something new and green to make with dinner. Because it was a rainy day, there weren't many stands open for business. I did, however, manage to find one that caught my eye and was selling some beautiful red-stemmed swiss chard.
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Onions

  • 3 pound green Swiss chard (about 2 large bunches)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Start by cutting stems and center ribs from chard, discarding any tough portions, then cut stems and ribs crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Stack chard leaves and roll up lengthwise into cylinders. Cut cylinders to make 1-inch-wide strips.

Next, heat up your oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, some salt and pepper, and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 8 minutes.

Add the chard leaves in batches, stirring until they wilt before adding the next batch. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, around 5 minutes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

An Asian/Vegan Feast

This week, we had our sister and brother-in-law over for a long-overdue dinner party. The theme for the night was a vegan asian menu and one that my husband said he was "impressed" by. When planning a dinner party, it's important to stick with some sort of theme....mixing and matching different ethnic dishes can be disastrous. Trust me, I know from personal experience :)

To start the meal, I made a very colorful oriental salad with a spicy peanut dressing. You can include any ingredients in your salad, such as spinach, chopped basil, shredded purple cabbage, baby corn, julienned carrots, red peppers and yellow peppers, which I used.

For the Peanut Dressing:
5 tbsp crunchy organic peanut butter
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Sriracha or hot sauce
salt to taste

* The dressing needs to be covered and shaken so that the peanut butter
breaks apart and mixes with the other ingredients

Chinese Fried Rice was next on the menu and, since I wasn't preparing any meat with the meal, tried to include as many vegetables as humanly possible.

long grain rice
2 tbsp canola oil
an assortment of vegetables (see below for my preferences)
soy sauce
granulated pure cane sugar
oyster sauce (brown bean sauce for a vegan version)

Start by preparing the rice. Use a rice cooker (if you don't have one, buy one now, it makes life so much easier) to cook your long grain rice and refrigerate it once done. This will make it easier to separate your rice and remove clumps before cooking. While the rice is cooling, prepare your vegetables. I used peas (frozen), corn (canned), carrots, broccoli, red onions, green onions and mushrooms.

Once the vegetables are ready, heat your wok over high heat. When hot, add a few tablespoons of canola oil and toss in your vegetables, stirring them frequently. While they cook, separate all clumps in your rice.

Next, add the rice, soy sauce, sugar and oyster/brown bean sauce to the wok. It's hard to give exact measurements since quantities of rice and personal taste vary, so start off with a small amount of each (a tbsp or so) and keep adding more until the rice tastes good to you!

Keep mixing everything together and eventually you will have some pretty fantastic fried rice!

Vegetable stirfry was the last dish of the evening and the "piece de resistance" with over ten different vegetables.

a few tbsp canola oil
an assortment of vegetables
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1tbsp minced ginger
2 cloves minced garlic

For the thickening sauce
1/4 cup of vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp corn starch
1tbsp oyster or brown bean sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp chili paste

As with the other dishes, start by preparing whatever vegetables you'd like to include. For my stirfry, I used broccoli, red onions, green onions, red and yellow peppers, snap peas, bok choy, canned pineapple chunks, purple cabbage, carrots, mushroom and baby corn.

Heat your wok. Add the canola oil and garlic, letting it brown slightly. Next, add the ginger and toss in those vegetables that need more time to cook (onions, peppers, carrots...) The fresh ginger in this recipe makes such a difference, I recommend not leaving it out.

Add whatever vegetables remain. Pour in the vegetable broth, cover the wok, and let steam for about a minute.

Finally, add the thickening sauce and stir until all vegetables are evenly coated. The corn starch in the sauce is what causes it to thicken, giving you restaurant style stir fry.

Cupcakes from BabyCakes were a wonderful end to a wonderfully healthy meal!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Very Veggie Cous Cous

This dish is what my husband always requests when I ask what he wants for dinner. It's particularly easy because I combine store bought cous cous with a mix of fresh vegetables (how very Sandra Lee of me, right?) In terms of flavor combinations, I love the tomato lentil flavored cous cous by Near East and season the vegetables with cinnamon, cumin and garlic powder for an earthy sweetness.

Start by gathering a bunch of fresh vegetables... it doesn't matter what kind or how much, just improvise with what you have sitting around! For this version I used broccoli, spinach, red onions, red peppers, carrots, raisins, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. If you want to add protein, opt for a can of garbanzo beans!

Heat up some olive oil in a pan, add your vegetables and season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin and garlic powder.

Remove when all the vegetables are thoroughly cooked.

Next,make the cous cous following the box's specified directions.

Finally, mix in the vegetables you made earlier.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Easiest Side Dish You've Ever Made

This is probably the most simple post I've added, but seeing as how some people look to my blog for dinner ideas and inspiration, I have to share this side dish.

Roasted cauliflower is very easy to make. Start by preheating the oven to 400°F. Cut the cauliflower into florets and place in an oven proof baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower top is lightly browned.

You can serve the roasted cauliflower with a variety of dips (for example, Roasted Red Pepper) or make it into a dip (cauliflower tahini dip, anyone?)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Warm, Gooey, Granola Bars

Seeing as how I am just learning to cook, I can't say I've mastered the art of baking just yet. However, I did find this amazing recipe for granola bars that taste so good when served warm. They're great for breakfast or as snacks! In this recipe I used coconut, cranberries and chocolate, but you can really use any dried fruit or chocolate that you like!

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the cranberries and chocolate and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown.