Saturday, December 18, 2010
Queue these super-easy popovers. Crispy, fluffy and custardy all at once, popovers make an easy hors d'oeuvres or accompaniment to a fresh green salad, and come together in no time flat. Popovers are a hollow roll made from a thin batter - when cooked in a screaming hot oven, the batter rises spectacularly from the top of the tin (they "pop over," hence the name).
Monday, December 6, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Honestly, I'd meant to post this recipe a few days ago, but I got home, became wrapped up in getting unpacked, decorating the Christmas tree, catching up on work, et cetera. I'm sure you can relate; this time of year is always so busy. Luckily, that's where leftovers come to the rescue to spare you a few extra minutes in the kitchen or add a welcome dash of flavor in an unexpected way.
My family has made Bon Appetit's Cranberry Sauce with Port and Cinnamon the past couple of Thanksgivings when we've been together; and it has earned a permanent spot on our menu. It's absolutely delicious, and having some leftover port to sip after dinner doesn't hurt either. Inevitably we end up with leftovers, so I thought I'd post five easy ideas to use up cranberry sauce leftovers.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Now that I'm living nearly 2,000 miles from home (1,849 according to Google), Thanksgiving is not nearly as large, but it has given me the chance to pay homage to traditions while trying out a few of my own ideas. When it comes to the bird, I had to test the waters on a turkey, for fear that I'd ruin 15 pounds of bird for nothing! Enter the chicken. A plump 5 pounder is a great test-dummy, not to mention a great substitute when a Thanksgiving table is only going to be serving a few people.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
This recipe also comes in handy when I just want one mug of cocoa and don't want to go through the trouble of making a big pot on the stove. Quite frankly, sometimes I get lazy in the winter... I call it my hibernation time. Unlike a lot of commercial mixes, this mix is made of things that you'll find in a lot of home kitchens. That means no hydrogenated coconut oil or ingredients you can't pronounce, just good old-fashioned deliciousness.
Paired with a couple of mugs and a big batch of iced sugar cookies, this hot cocoa mix makes a great holiday gift. Last Christmas, I found a couple of mugs made from Vermont business Bennington Potters, and put the cookies and hot cocoa mix into glass canisters. It was a great, budget-friendly gift that my whole family got to enjoy.
It's a pretty simple recipe, so there's not much more to say. My brother taught me that this mix is good for more than just regular hot cocoa, so I'd love to hear if you have other suggestions for using it!
Hot Cocoa Mix
Makes: A big ol' canister full
2 3/4 c. powdered nonfat milk (Note: This should be in the baking aisle of your supermarket)
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 1/4 c. cocoa powder (Note: I prefer dutch-process cocoa powder, but regular cocoa powder works really well too. Dutch-process cocoa will produce more of a dark chocolate flavor, while regular cocoa powder gives the mix a more traditional milk chocolate flavor.)
2 t. cornstarch
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container. To make hot cocoa: Fill mug 1/3 full with hot cocoa mix; top with hot water and stir well. Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, or cinnamon if desired.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
It was perfect, that is, until I was standing in front of the craft-brewery refrigerator at a local store, staring vacantly at the neat rows of bottles. Something was missing. Where was my beloved Chipotle Ale? Had I angered the gods? Why wasn't it there? What would I do? How could I go on? Still in a state of shock and dismay, I analyzed my choices and picked Rogue's Dead Guy Ale. With the rest of my concept still firmly in place, maybe I'd end up with the second-cousin to the greatest recipe in the world.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
To me, breakfast just isn't breakfast without eggs. Sure, some people go for giant cinnamon rolls or a leaning tower of pancakes; but the sugary stuff just leaves me feeling jittery. Give me an EGG, for pete's sake.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
This was a team effort, in the sense that I said, "Hey, we should make a pasta with pesto cream sauce for dinner," and he said "Okay." He got to work putting water on to boil, digging out ingredients, and scurrying around the kitchen. I stood by the fridge and suggested that asparagus would make a nice vegetal addition. He agreed and I handed him the bundle from the crisper. I'm proud of my contribution to this meal.
Of course it's easy for me to say that this is one of the easiest dinners ever, since I didn't actually cook it. But that's what teamwork is all about, right? Regardless of who was cooking, this is one of those dishes that can be on the table in 20 minutes, easy. Unfortunately, we didn't realize until we were already into the process that the only pasta we had on hand was elbow macaroni, and not any penne or fancy-schmancy shapes. So we chuckled, poured a glass of white wine, and jokingly nicknamed our collaboration "Mac'n'Cheese for Grown Ups."
This pasta dish is very lightly dressed; not one of those pastas where the noodles are swimming in pools of heavy cream sauce. We used homemade pesto that we'd assembled over the weekend. It had considerably less oil than store-bought tends to have (3/4 c. basil, 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, 3 T. toasted pine nuts, 2-3 cloves garlic, 1/2 c. oil, S&P to taste - Blend until smooth), which worked out well because we didn't have to worry about our sauce being greasy. You can certainly use store-bought, but I would suggest straining the portion you'll use for this dish before adding it in. The asparagus we used was so thin it barely needed to be cooked - the whole bundle was kept together (easier to remove from the water) and blanched for just about 2 minutes.
Pasta with Asparagus & Pesto Cream Sauce
1 12-16 oz. box pasta
1 bundle of thin asparagus, cut ends trimmed away (keep in a bundle, but replace the rubber bands with butcher's twine)
2 T. butter
1/4 c. white wine
2/3 c. cream
Scant 1/2 c. pesto
Boil a large stock pot of water and salt with 2 T. kosher salt. Add the asparagus bundle and let cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until asparagus is bright green. Remove the asparagus with kitchen tongs and set on a cutting board to cool. Let the water return to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet with high sides over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add white wine and let reduce for 30 seconds. Whisk in the pesto and turn heat to medium-low. Slowly whisk in the cream, being sure not to let it boil. Once cream has been added, let cook at a bare simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened slightly.
Cut the blanched asparagus into pieces an inch or so long, add to the cream sauce. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, stir thoroughly, and taste. Add S&P as needed & serve.
Monday, September 6, 2010
I alternated crisp green bell pepper, red onion, tiny Sunset Gold cherry tomatoes, and bright Zephyr zucchini. Simply seasoned with a drizzle of oil, salt, pepper and paprika before getting tossed on the grill (ahem - grill pan; unfortunately our third floor apartment doesn't grant us any real outdoor space), this is about as easy as dinner gets. They're cooked until the pepper, onion and squash are crisp-tender and the tomatoes are soft, with the gentle charring tasting like pure summer.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
This is one recipe that I followed without straying (an unusual feat of discipline for me), except for the fact that I cut the recipe in half to make two servings instead of four. I was worried that one little ramekin wouldn't be filling enough, but I thought it was a perfect serving, especially with a quick salad of local cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, served before the eggs came out of the oven. Although, hungry eaters and/or teenage boys may disagree... in that case I'd serve two per person with a heartier side - mmm, homefries anyone?
I used Vermont Smoke & Cure bacon (my go-to... it's worth a dollar or two more), which is mainly maple smoked... which I prefer to applewood smoking. Vegetarians could swap out the bacon for smoked gouda or mozzarella, or even a smoked cheddar - just sprinkle a handful between the egg and the spinach where the bacon would normally go. To be honest, I'm not hugely a fan of cooked spinach, so I shortened the cooking time of that step to a mere 20 seconds - it finished beautifully in the oven without becoming slimy.
I won't post the recipe here, Bon Appétit deserves 100% credit for this one. Check it out on Bon Appétit's Website.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Readers: Work computer was infected w/ virus (IT claims Tastespotting installed malicious software? There goes my fave lunchtime activity! **UPDATE 9/2/10: Work PC back up and running. IT says they now believe the attack was more widespread and didn't have anything to do with TS. Thank goodness!**) Home computer has a bad keyboard - unfortunate tea spill. Hope to be back up and running in no time. In the meantime; enjoy the thyme!
Friday, August 20, 2010
So, what to do with all that sweet corn? It's absolutely phenomenal cooked right on the ear, brushed with butter, and sprinkled with a little S&P (I like to wrap mine in foil and roast it until tender). But after a few dozen ears, it's nice to do something different. That's where this herb-flecked corn chowder comes into play. It's my adaptation of several recipes I've seen over the years, and it's deliciously simple - it can easily be on the table in less than 1/2 hour if you've already cooked up a few ears of corn. Or, if you'd like to really speed up the process, you can use frozen corn - the recipe will still taste great.
Monday, August 16, 2010
The wind was certainly blowing in Burlington this weekend! What better to serve than a slow cooking bolognese when the weather takes a turn? This recipe may not be 100% absolutely true to a traditional pasta bolognese, but it's definitely tasty. The slow simmering of the sauce allows the flavors to blend and concentrate and creates a deeply hued tomato sauce that's brightened with a touch of dairy. Bolognese is named after the northern italian town of Bologna, where butter, milk, and cream tend to be much more prevalent than in the dishes of southern Italy. It may seem odd if you've never seen this type of preparation before, but the dairy really does make a delicious addition and a great counterpoint to the tomatoes in the sauce.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
I'm fortunate enough to live within walking distance to City Hall so I don't have to worry about finding parking, a commodity that is in short supply in our town. After I have my morning cup of coffee, my husband and I will walk up the road and take a lap through the stalls. After we've made a round, then we'll pick a few stands and stop for a few things in each. This week, we bought just veggies: golden beets and wax beans from one farmer, garlic from another, and a melange of carrots and baby squash from two more.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Guacamole... the thought of it either makes people grimace ("Eww, green mush??") or salivate. I have to admit that I've only recently converted to the latter category. On a business trip a couple of years ago to Atlanta, we ate at a Mexican restaurant near our hotel. My coworker adamantly insisted that we order the guacamole, which was assembled table-side. I set aside my guaca-phobia and ate a bite; after all, I was raised with the idea that you should take "one big Girl Scout bite" of everything. And... I was in love. The creamy sweetness of the avocado, the slight heat of the chiles, and the tang of lime juice melded together into a heavenly, well-balanced blend.
But among the guacamole eaters of the world, the recipes vary greatly. What type of chile should be used? Is it okay to substitute lemon juice for lime juice? Cilantro or no cilantro? What about other add-ins? What about consistency?
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Welcome to the premier post of The Lunchbox Tree! This is my outlet to post the recipes I try out, as well as discuss all things food. As I begin posting, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback.
For the first recipe of the blog, I really wanted to share something decadently delicious. Luckily, I had to look no further than the June 2010 issue of Bon Appétit to find that inspiration. I made this cake for a coworker's birthday, to rave reviews. This is, hands down, one of the best cakes I've ever eaten.
The cake itself is rich, chocolatey, and not-too-sweet. It's layered with seedless raspberry jam (although I think that seeded raspberry jam would be delicious) and a rich chocolate ganache, and topped with fresh raspberries. Bon Appétit topped their version with powdered sugar, but I thought that the cake was too pretty to mess with once its crown of raspberries was in place.