Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dinner: Black Bean Chilaquile

The Black Bean Chilaquile is probably my favorite Moosewood Recipe ever. It's perfect when you want something healthy, light, and filling. It's consistently awesome every time I make it, and it's my fall-back recipe when I cook for my vegetarian friends, who always praise it.

Tonight I reached for this recipe because I wanted something light to eat on the eve of our Revolver 7 course New Year's Eve meal. And I wanted something that was easy because cooking with a migraine isn't fun. (I know there are foods that cause migraines but are there foods that cure migraines?)

Here's the recipe with of my additions:


1 cup chopped onion
1 T olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
1 1/2 fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 can black beans (15 oz, drained)
2 T fresh lime juice
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of cumin
dash of chili pepper
couple drops of hot sauce (Cholula is our fav)
2 cups chopped Swiss chard, spinach, or kale
2 cups tortilla chips, crushed
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar
2 cups salsa


Preheat oven to 350. Saute onion until translucent, 8 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, corn, black beans, lime, salt, pepper, and spices and continue to cook until heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute greens for 1-3 minutes.

Prepare an 8X8 casserole dish or baking pan with light coating of oil. Spread half of the crushed tortilla chips on the bottom. Spoon the sauteed veggies over the chips and sprinkle with about 2/3 of the grated cheese. Arrange greens over the cheese and spoon half of the salsa. Finish with the rest of the tortilla chips and top with the remaining salsa and cheese. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.

Note: This recipe is always better the next day.

The Christmas Meal

All the holiday cooking turned out perfectly.
The mashed potatoes were a hit as well as the salad and breakfast casserole. I absolutely adored the salad, and it motivated me to no longer be afraid of de-seeding a pomegranate.
The curried applesauce perfectly cut the saltiness of the ham and enhanced its porkiness. But it was a bit different so I'm not sure my family really enjoyed it. You have to really love curry to really love the curried applesauce.
Of course, like all holidays, I forgot my little cooler at my parents' and sadly left behind the extra applesauce and a qt of Calder's Milk. I hope they found some use for them.
It was nice to cook for my family and share a meal with them. I'm looking forward to the day when FD and I can host a holiday meal in our own home. That will be the ultimate holiday cooking adventure for me. Until then, I'm delighted to make the sides and enjoy the holiday cheer. And I vow to continue working on my holiday baking--another resolution to add to the list.
For New Year's Eve's meal we're heading to Revolver for our annual tradition. I can't wait!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Cooking: Day 2, Part 3

The last part of my holiday cooking is a salad.

It's in pieces right now, but I promise to take a pic of the final results.

I got the recipe from Bon Appetit's Dec. 2009 issue.

I picked up walnuts instead of hazelnuts, so we'll see how it goes.

Escarole and Butter Lettuce Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Walnuts

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 Champagne dressing
1/4 c OJ
1 1/2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t fresh lime juice
1 t grated lemon peel
1 t grated lime peel
1 t grated orange peel
1/2 c olive oil

Combine vinegar and next 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Salad Ingredients:
1 large head of escarole, coarsely torn
1 large head of butter lettuce, coarsely torn
1 Golden Russet apple, quartered, cored, thinly sliced
1 c fresh pomegranate seeds
2/3 c walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Salad Directions:
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat.

--I think this salad is going to be an easy one to travel with. I have the dressing done, the lettuce washed and spun-dried, the pom seeds separated and cleaned in their own little bowl, and walnuts all done in their bowl. I'll slice the apple and tear the lettuce at my family's right before we eat. Easy enough to do while the Crack Potatoes are baking.

Holiday Cooking: Day 2, Part 2

Crack Potatoes. A holiday must.

(Check out my December column in Connotation Press to learn more about my obsession with Crack Potatoes.)

And as much as I love Crack Potatoes, I love gravy. Because my family is doing a ham, we're sans gravy this year.

So to ensure creaminess and flavor without gravy, I put a twist on the traditional Crack Potatoes recipe with the help of Cook's Illustrated Entertaining Issue 2009.

What I love about Crack Potatoes is you can make them ahead-of-time and they're another easy-to-transport dish.

Ingredients for Topping:
4 slices white bread (I used Zingerman's Bakerhouse White)
2 T butter, melted
1/4 c fresh parsley
salt & pepper

Directions for Topping:

Heat over to 300. Quarter each piece of bread and then pulse in food processor to course crumbs. Toss crumbs with melted butter and spread on baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 20 minutes. Let crumbs cool, then toss with parsley, salt and pepper.

Ingredients for Potatoes:
5 lbs potatoes, peeled, sliced into 3/4 inch thick rounds, and rinse thoroughly. (I used a mix of our local French Fingerlings, All Red, and Carola potatoes.)
2 1/2 c 2% milk, warmed
1 c sour cream
8 T butter, melted
2 1/2 t Dijon mustard
1 med garlic clove, minced
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
8 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Bring potatoes to boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat, then add milk and garlic. Stir until warm.

Drain potatoes in colander. In batches mash potatoes. (You can use a ricer, but this time I used my stand-mixer to save time.) Stir in milk mixture, sour cream, mustard, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. (The potatoes may seem really "wet," but don't fret. Keep stirring; they will thicken.)

Pour potatoes into 13X9 baking dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top then breadcrumbs.

To cook immediately: Heat oven to 350, bake uncovered, until hot throughout, 25-30 minutes.

To make ahead (up to 2 days ahead): Wrap casserole in plastic. To cook, unwrap plastic and top with foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350, covered. Remove foil, bake until topping is crisp, 20-30 minutes more.

--I'm dying to see how this Crack Potatoes recipe turns out. I'll keep you posted.

Holiday Cooking: Day 2, Part 1

Today's cooking is much better. Probably because I'm actually cooking and not attempting any desserts.

For Christmas morning, I made a breakfast casserole from the Cook's Country Oct/Nov 2009 issue.

I made it once before and felt it needed some revision. But I really liked it. And it's super easy to make. Even better, it's easy to transport if you travel to several houses over the holidays.

1 loaf Italian bread, cubed
1 lb pork sausage
1 med onion, diced
3 c shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
12 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 c 2% milk
1 T hot sauce


You can choose to bake the bread or not. If you do, toast in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. I've found my baking the bread it stands out more in the casserole.

Brown the sausage over medium heat with sage, salt, and pepper. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes.

Grease 9X13 baking dish. Coat bottom of dish with 1/2 of the bread cubes. Top with 1/2 the sausage mixture and 1 cup of cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, sausage, and cheese.

Whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Pour evenly over casserole. Wrap with plastic and weigh down with boxes of broth or 4 large tomato cans. Refrigerate 1-48 hours.

To bake, heat oven to 350. Remove weights, unwrap casserole, and bake until edges are golden brown, about 1 hour. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Cooking: Truffles Part 2


Everyday Food
truffles aren't even worthy of taking a picture of.

Goddamn it, Martha Stewart. Why are your recipes so hit-or-miss? Maybe because you don't write them...

They started melting the minute I started rolling them.

I don't know why because they chilled for over 3 hours.

And I'm mad because these truffles taste better than the Weight Watchers ones, but why try to serve them when they look so gross with my fingerprints all over them and when they are misshapen from melting.

I'm tempted to give up on desserts, except for the Jell-O Stained Glass Cake.

Off to walk off my dessert frustration with Bleu.

Christmas Cooking: Truffles Part 1

I'm not much of a baker, so I thought I'd give truffles a whirl.

I found two recipes: one in the Best of Weight Watchers Magazine cookbook and one in Everyday Food.

I wanted to test them both because they have the same calorie count (55) per truffle. Many people don't worry about calories during the holiday season, but several of my family members are trying to lose weight and others have diabetes. I wanted to make a little something they could enjoy too.

I love the taste of the truffle, but I used too much cocoa powder to roll them in. If you don't eat the Weight Watcher truffle all in one bite, you first taste the bitter from the cocoa, which is a little off putting. Next time I think I'll only roll them in edible glitter. Roll and learn, right?

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 oz cream cheese
1/4 t champagne extract (or any extract you like)
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder


Microwave chocolate chips in a medium bowl on High until nearly melted. Stir until smooth. Let cool.

Add cream cheese and extract; with electric mixer on medium speed, beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue beating until smooth and thick. Shape mixture into a thin 12-inch log. Wrap well in plastic, and refrigerate until chilled through, at least 30 minutes.

Spread cocoa onto a sheet of wax paper. Slice the log into 24 pieces and roll each into a 3/4 inch ball. Roll balls in cocoa (or other topping) to evenly coat.

Storage: keep in an airtight container for a week or up to a month in the freezer.

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Everyday Food truffles.

Christmas Cooking: Day 1

I don't mind holiday cooking. Not one bit.

Maybe it's because I'm a young cook.

Or maybe it's because I simply like making people happy with food.

Or maybe I like the challenge of trying to use all local ingredients in the foods I make.

Or maybe I'm just plain crazy.

For whatever reason, I'm just glad I like it because it helps lift the burden for those who don't like holiday cooking.

Today I started with applesauce to accompany our ham. I tried a homemade unsweetened applesauce recipe that I'm quite happy with. It's from the Apple Cookbook by Olwen Woodier. I used Golden Russets from our local farmer, Homestead Gardens.

I'm quite happy with how the applesauce turned out. It's savory and smooth with a lot of flavor. I'm hoping that making it earlier and letting it sit will only enhance the flavor.

10 medium apples (any kind except Red Delicious or summer-harvested apples)
1 T water
1 t ground nutmeg
2 T local honey
zest of lime (sadly not local)
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t curry powder


Core and quarter apples. (You can leave the skins on if you are using a food processor to blend the sauce.) Place in a large saucepan with water and the nutmeg.

Cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the apples are tender. Puree in a food processor to the desired consistency. Stir in honey, lime zest, ginger and curry.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ben's Table, Bowling Green, Ohio: Restaurant Review

Thankfully, it's the end of fall semester. Time to catch up with all my loved ones while there are NO essays to grade.

This past Saturday morning Bowling Green was graced by a blanket of snow. (I'm a snow person, so "graced" is the right word choice for me.) My friend Sarah and I were going to go to the Toledo's Farmers Market, but the roads weren't quite clean enough yet. So I suggested breakfast, and she suggested Ben's Table.

I'm happy to report it was the best breakfast I've had in BG--sans hangover.

Ben's Table is located on South Main and seats about 50 guests. Their menu is breakfast and lunch ONLY. A godsend for a place like BG where it seems lunch out never really is worth it.

As I said, though, I started with breakfast at Ben's Table. I ordered the spinach, bacon, and Monterey Jack cheese omelet with a side of Ben's potatoes. This 3-egg omelet was delicious without being greasy and filling without being overwhelming. And being that I am a sucker for potatoes, Ben's potatoes did not disappoint. I finished every last one.

What's really refreshing about Ben's Table is their interest in serving quality food. I found the eggs to be really tasty and fresh. The bacon was crunchy, flavorful, and not fatty. The spinach was perfectly wilted, and the red potatoes were absolutely delightful. It's reassuring to eat at a local joint whose motto is "Eat Local. Eat Healthy. Be Happy."

And I was so happy I bragged to FD about my breakfast, and we had to go there for lunch today--"to keep things fair."

Their homemade soups are just what I expected--delectable. I had the black bean and ham; it was wonderful. But I had horrible food envy for FD's turkey, bacon, tomato melt and french fries. Ahhhh, more potatoes. We both played it a little safe on our orders. I didn't want a big lunch, and FD didn't want to have beef twice in one day. (We're having burgers tonight.) If we had been more adventurous, FD would have ordered Grandma's Recipe, a meatloaf sandwich, and I would have ordered the Salmon burger.

No fear: we're back Tuesday for lunch. We can try different menu items then.

The service was friendly and the atmosphere is comfortable with live plants and warm colors.

Ben's Table is open Tuesday-Saturday 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-3 p.m., and closed Mondays. They offer carryout.
Ben's Table
1021 South Main Street
Bowling Green, OH 43402-4720
(419) 352-1060

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tis the Season of Potlucks

This week we had our office potluck.

I brought a new chili recipe that I found on epicurious. But I doctored it up quite a bit. See below for my take.

My co-workers went all out too; they made sausage won tons, homemade apple pie, better brushetta, and spinach dip. Plus we had a great assortment of fruit and veggies with hummus and other dipping sauces.

I was quite happy and full. A good time was had by all.

Here's the recipe for the chili with my revisions:

1/2 pound bacon, coarsely chopped
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 28-ounce can Italian-style tomatoes, tomatoes chopped, juices reserved
2 15 1/2-ounce cans black beans

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh hot chilies

3 T Cumin

2 T Chili Powder

pinch of cinnamon

1 bottle beer


Sauté bacon in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until brown, about 4 minutes. Drain off fat and discard. Add beef to pot and sauté,. with onion and garlic, until brown, breaking up clumps with back of spoon, about 7 minutes. Drain beef. Add tomatoes with juices, beans and spices. Bring chili to boil. Add beer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thickened to desired consistency, stirring occasionally, about 3 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Serve, passing cheese, onions and sour cream separately.

(Make ahead: pour chili into crock pot. Refridgerate overnight. Reheat in crock pot for 3-4 hours on low.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dinner: Cider Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Taters and Flash Fried Kale

Rachel Zucker shared this recipe for Cider Braised Pork Shoulder when she visited BG this past fall.

I tried it once before, and it was tasty but--believe it or not--I over-braised the meat. I didn't check on it enough, and just let it cook for 3 hours. I should have taken it out at 2 1/4 hours. (Hence, why I never blogged about it, even though I should have.) Cook and learn, which I did.

This time was a different story. The caramelized onions were perfect. There was a bunch of juice at the end of the braising time, which made a fantastic sauce. (Add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup more cider than is called for.) I mashed the potatoes just right using my stand mixer rather than a ricer, and the kale just made the meal even more earthy.

Not to brag, but I kinda out-did myself tonight.

And there is enough meat for sandwiches and other concoctions all week long. God bless leftovers.

This is definitely how I'll cook pork shoulder and butt in the future. Thanks for sharing, Rachel!

I'm in Love with The Big Jerk

Last night FD and I ate at The Big Jerk, a late-night take-out/delivery ONLY joint, in Findlay, Ohio.

Upon going to bed last night, I dreamed I ate there three times in one day: at 4 p.m., at 9 p.m., and then again at 2 a.m.

It was one of the best dreams I've had in ages.

I'll be giving a full review of The Big Jerk in the January issue of Connotation Press, but until then let me share a few reasons to go there:

1.) The service is outstanding. They're funny, sassy, and helpful. My favorite combo.
2.) The Coconut Curry Chicken soup for $3.25. Yes, I said $3.25.
3.) The pulled pork Jerk Style sandwich for $5. (Did you know fast food could be so fresh, so tasty, and so cheap?)
4.) The ever awesome Debi and Michael Bulkowski run the show.

I'm still trying to convince them to deliver to BG. Until then, just go there and eat. It's so worth it, it's sick.

The Big Jerk
227 1/2 N. Main St.
Findlay, OH
Tues-Thurs 4-10 p.m.
Fri & Sat 4 p.m. - 3 a.m.

(Yes, I'm tempted to get a hotel room, go to Revolver for dinner, go to the bars for the night, and then go to The Big Jerk when the bars close. I can't think of a better night out...)

Not Exactly Food Related But Christmas Related

This past weekend FD and I had a Saturday of food adventures.

It began at Kermit's in BG where, at 9 a.m., I ordered a patty melt with fries.

Then it was a morning of work and dog walking before we hit I-75 to buy our live Christmas tree from the Christmas tree farm I call a pawpaw farm. Then we checked out a new restaurant in Findlay.

Regular readers may remember my PawPaw Adventure in September. As I promised Dave Reese, I returned to Kaleidoscope Farms this Christmas season to buy a live Christmas tree. Kaleidoscope Farms is a family owned and operated Christmas tree farm that has won the Ohio State Fair Grand Champion Christmas Tree in 2004 and the 2006 and 2009 Ohio State Fair People's Choice Award. The live nativity scene, horse drawn sleigh, and absolutely welcoming and kind customer service set Reese's farm apart from other live tree ventures.

From my own experience there, it was an honor to meet his sons and family and to introduce Dave to my husband. (It seems we'd both become legends to our families based on my previous blog post about the farm!) FD and I had a fantastic, fun time picking out our skinny, little Christmas tree. (We just don't have the space for a "big boy.") I think surprised everyone with our "skinny love," including other patrons who had collected glorious, full-bodied trees. Most importantly, we had an even more fun chatting with Dave's sons and daughters-in-law! Thank you, Reese family, for yet another wonderful visit! See you again soon!

(Bleu was only well-behaved for the photo. Otherwise he is consistently trying to eat branches and drink the tree's water.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dinner: A Disaster Saved

My family is furious that I eat tofu because that means FD eats tofu.

I think it's funny.

But interesting.

I like tofu because it's a mystery. What do you do with something that's so wet and bland, something that can take on the property of any flavor it marinades in? And it's a challenge for hardcore meat-eaters. I recognize the environmental impact we can have by eating vegetarian at least once a day. We love meat. We buy local meat. We buy grass-fed. But even our happy grazing cows, chicken, pigs, lamb, turkey, duck, and other animal friends need a break. And I can use a break from them too.

So, I tried this Tofu with Gingered Greens recipe from Moosewood. (Keep in mind I'm an animal advocate. In the most life-cycle of senses...It's the only website that had the original recipe.)

While I've had a lot of success with Moosewood recipes, several friends of mine haven't. I can see why. Seriously. I mean this in the most lovingly way, but a bunch of weed-smoking hippies creating vegetarian recipes? That sounds more like failure more than success, at least to me. High people will eat anything. Right?

From the moment I started this recipe it was a disaster. You know, the kind where your kitchen is smoking and you have the fire extinguisher in hand.

The downsides: I will never again broil tofu in its marinade. (WTF? The smoking pan is still outside on our driveway.) I just decided cilantro wasn't the herb to use. (Again, WTF?)

So here's my revision of Moosewood's Recipe:

Tofu Marinade:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 T brown sugar

1 15oz tofu cake--well drained

1/8 cup vegetable oil
2 t grated fresh ginger root
3 cups coarsely shredded bok choy, kale, Chinese cabbage, or Swiss chard (we used turnip greens and kale)
2 T fresh lemon
2 hot peppers, seeded and minced

In a small saucepan, bring the marinade indgredients to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat. Cut the block of tofu into 1/2 inch slices, then cut slices into 1 inch squares. Pour marinade over tofu and let set for 10 minutes.

Get basmati rice started.

Heat skillet to medium-high. Pour in oil. Add tofu. Fry for 10 minutes total or until browned. Put in plate and set aside.

Clean out pan while hot. Set back on stovetop. Pour in oil. Add ginger. Add greens. When greens start looking "bright" add hot peppers. Cook peppers until done and greens until wilted.

Stir tofu into greens until rewarmed.

Serve over rice.

(I thought it needed more of a sauce, but FD liked it as is. I thought it was okay. Like I said, it was a dinner disaster saved.)

While writing this post Dan put on the Oak Ridge Boys. He's very happy.


Graciously, I was invited to join FD's poetry workshop for their potluck last night.

It was an honor to join these five creative ladies and FD for some quality dindin.

We had baked beans, scalloped potatoes, artichoke dip, cabbage roll casserole, a veggie tray, and a homemade cheese ball.

While I adored everything the ladies shared, I can't stop craving the cheese ball, which, according to its maker, "is a secret family recipe with beef." I thought it was bacon, but beef makes it way more interesting. I'm hooked. I need the recipe.

Cheese: the key to my heart. (Along with kale and a Christmas list of other things...)

But if I was Santa I would want cheese and crackers. Seriously. It's cold out. Protein is needed. Cheese is the answer.

For the record, I refrained from having more than two plates. I didn't want my host and hostesses to think I was a professional eater, even though I probably could be.

Thanks for the hospitality, all!


It's 14 degrees outside.

I know because I have a dog.

And I know because there's no more local kale in my life.

Until my local farmers gave me one of the best Christmas presents ever: A bag of kale mix from their own stash.

Thank you, Santa and Homestead Farms, for making my dreams come true.

I'm saving it for the last day of classes--tomorrow night. Just going to flash sear in a pan with butter, olive oil, and lemon--my favorite way from Molly Wizenberg. And I'm going to savor it.

Or at least try to...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, Buggy!

My niece turns 4 today!

These are the childhood years of enchanted cakes!

Enjoy, my Bugster!

A Bit Overdramatic But Sincere

I got this email from my local farmer yesterday:

"The deep freeze has hit us hard and the market growing season has been ended. The produce we now have to offer is in cool storage.

See next 2 pages for current produce and herb offerings. The weather is expected to be very unsettled with snow and ice possible, so delivery may be changed or delayed if conditions are bad.

Thank you for your business."

The end of the season is here. And while I love the snow, ice, and greyness of winter, I will miss my weekly veggie delivery--the potatoes, onions, lettuce mixes, radishes, cabbages, beets.

I will miss my kale.

A lot.

Sometimes I wish I lived in California.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Even More Kale

I'm hooked. On kale. It's bad.

This delicious kale soup recipe from my dear friend Lynn in West Virginia only perpetuates my kale craving.

Bean Soup With Kale

1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
8 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cups chopped raw kale
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or navy, undrained
2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped parsley

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and onion; saute until soft. Add kale and saute, stirring, until wilted. Add the broth, beans, tomato, herbs, spices, and salt and pepper. Simmer 20 minutes. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with chopped parsley.