Monday, April 30, 2012

Roasted Broccoli and Chickpea Stew over Couscous

The semester is finally winding down. It's hard to believe I've been here nearly a year already! Time flies. I'll soon be driving down to Louisiana to pack Scott up and move him here. I'm so excited!

Since I'll be leaving town for several weeks, I'm making an effort to use up the things I have in my pantry. I had a can of chickpeas, a can of roasted tomatoes, and some couscous. Enter chickpea stew!

Notes: If you're trying to expand your palate, here's a good tip: the next time you make a dish add one new ingredient you've never tried before. It's much easier to meal plan if you build a dish around one or two ingredients rather than a long list of them. Plus, if you end up not liking the new ingredient, you won't waste as much time or money.

My new ingredient was anchovies. I've only cooked with anchovies once before and it was years ago. I know, I know -- everyone thinks they're gross. They really aren't. They don't taste fishy and they only smell fishy for a few minutes right when you take them out of the jar. Once you get them in the pan with your other ingredients, you won't even know they're there. But you will surely taste the difference in your tomato sauce! I couldn't believe the depth of flavor they added. I'll definitely be adding them to my tomato sauce in the future.

1 15 oz. can chickpeas
2 small broccoli crowns
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cloves garlic
2 shallots
4 anchovy filets
1 15 oz. can tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups water
Olive Oil


Heat the oven to 400. Cut the broccoli crowns into florets. Toss the florets in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Spread them out in one layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Add butter or oil to a skillet and heat over medium high. Chop the shallots and mince the garlic. Add them to the pan along with the anchovy filets. Smash the anchovies so that they break down in the pan. Saute until the shallot and garlic are tender and the anchovies have melted. Add the tomato paste, the tomatoes, and thyme. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and add them to the pan. Season everything with salt and pepper and let simmer while the broccoli roasts.

Bring the water to a boil in a 2-quart sauce pan. When it boils, stir in the couscous, turn off the heat, and let stand for 5 minutes.

Melt two tablespoons of butter into the chickpea stew and add the roasted broccoli when it's done. To serve, put some couscous in the bottom of a bowl and ladle the stew on top. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

White Baked Ziti

You've heard of white pizza. Now try white baked ziti!

Notes: I used fontina cheese for this, but you could use fresh mozzarella if you wanted. You could also substitute the kale for spinach. You could heat the milk up first and make a white sauce if you wanted, but I like mine a little on the dry side, so I just added milk and cheese.

1 16 oz. box ziti or other short cut pasta
1 1/2 cups of milk
5-8 oz. (1 1/2-2 cups grated) of fontina cheese
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 bunch of kale leaves, stemmed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Butter or olive oil


Heat the oven to 375 and put a stock pot of water on to boil.

Thinly slice your kale leaves, mince your garlic, and chop your rosemary. Add a tablespoon of butter to small skillet and turn it to medium-low. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Let the herbs and garlic soften while you cook your pasta.

Once the water boils, add a small handful of salt. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. While the pasta is cooking, grate your cheese. Butter or oil a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Once the pasta is finished, add it to the baking dish. Pour in the milk, add the cheese, garlic, herbs, and kale. Mix everything together and bake for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Let stand 5 minutes, serve and enjoy!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Q.E.D.: Grits, Greens, & Beans

This creation came about while we were on a trip home. We were at my in-laws house when we decided to raid the pantry. The original dish was sans greens.

Notes: This dish is Q.E.D. and budget-friendly. Grits and beans are inexpensive. If you used frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh greens, you'd also have a pantry staple meal.

I think the hot sauce makes this dish, but if you're not a fan, season it however you like. It would be great with just salt and pepper. Next time I might at some bacon.

1 cup quick-cooking grits
4 cups water
1 15 oz. can pinto beans
2 cups chopped kale
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons butter
Hot sauce


Bring four cups of water to a boil. Stir in grits along with 1 teaspoon of salt. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain and rinse you beans. Set aside.

While you're waiting for the water to boil, add butter to a skillet and melt over medium-high. Mince your garlic and thinly slice your kale. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the kale and saute for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add the beans to the skillet so they can start to get warm.

Once the grits are finished cooking, stir in the beans and greens mixture. You can either add about 10 drops of hot sauce to the pot or just dish it up and add the hot sauce to each bowl.

Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Q.E.D.: Cheddar and Chive Couscous

I think maybe I need to create a new category of food called couch food. I make enough dishes that are suitable to eat while you're sitting on your couch maybe that's what I should call my cookbook.

Notes: This dish is versatile. You could make it as a side or as a main dish. You could add any veggie you like. It can also be easily doubled if you need to make more. I paired mine with a delicious kale salad. It's so fast, it's almost like not cooking at all.

1 cup of couscous
1 clove of garlic
1/2 a bunch of chives
1 1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese


Start with all your chopping. Mince your garlic and chives. Grate your cheese (NB: if you use the small holes on your greater, it will melt easier in the couscous. For an extra time saver, use pre-shredded cheese.) Add the water to a 2-quart pot and bring it to a boil. Salt the water, stir in your couscous, and put a lid on it. Take it off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add your garlic, herbs, pepper, and cheese and stir until the cheese it melted.

Serve and enjoy!

Potato Gratin with Spring Vegetables

Spring has arrived ever-so-slightly here in Philly. It's still mostly cloudy and not exactly warm, but I'll take it! Spring weather also means spring vegetables.

Notes: I think I should have sauteed the asparagus along with the leeks. My final product came out very watery probably because the veggies gave off too much liquid. Next time I make this, I might just use two or three leeks instead of asparagus. The flavor was good, but I definitely wanted it drier. I wrote the recipe with the asparagus sauteed. I got the basic gratin recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

4 Yukon gold potatoes
1 bunch asparagus
1 leek, cleaned
2 cups whole milk
3-5 oz. of melty cheese (Gruyere, Fontel, Fontina, etc.)
3 tablespoons butter plus more for the baking dish

Directions: Heat the oven to 350.

Slice the potatoes on a mandolin set to 1/8 or thinly slice them with a sharp knife. Set aside.

Slice your leeks into thin rings and your asparagus into small pieces. Add the butter to a skillet and heat it to medium. Saute the leeks and asparagus until they are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Be sure to drain off any excess liquid. When they're done, take them off the heat and set aside.

While the veggies are going, grate your cheese. Now you're ready to assemble!

Start by buttering the baking dish. Layer the sliced potatoes overlapping slightly like shingles. Season the layer with salt and pepper and sprinkle on 1/3 of your grated cheese. Add half your veggies. Do another layer of potatoes, 1/3 cheese, and the other half of your veggies. Season that layer with salt and pepper too. Add one more layer of potatoes (reserve the last of the cheese). Pour the milk over everything so that the top of the milk reaches the bottom of the top potato layer.

Bake it uncovered for an hour. About halfway through, push the top layer down so that it stays dry. When you have 15 minutes left, add the rest of your cheese. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.