May 8, 2008

Grilled Shrimp with Grapefruit BBQ Sauce


With summer coming up it's always nice to have some good grilling recipes. This meal doesn't take very long to prepare or cook, and it tastes awesome.


  • 1 cup rice, regular or instant
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 3 pounds large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped


Cook rice according to package directions. Over medium high heat, with cooking spray, heat a stove-top grill pan or griddle. In a shallow dish, whisk together grapefruit juice, ketchup, mustard, sugar, chili powder, cumin, olive oil and liquid smoke. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Place shrimp on the grill and cook 2 minutes per side, or until bright pink and cooked through. Serve half of the shrimp over the rice and top with scallions. Reserve the remaining shrimp for po' boy sandwiches, if desired.

This recipe comes from the Food Network.

May 6, 2008

A Tasty Treat in Celebration of Cinco de Mayo


To start, here are some mojito fun facts:

Mojito comes from the African word mojo, meaning to place a little spell.

Richard Drake, an English pirate is said to have made the first mojito-esque drink in the 1500s. It consisted of aguardiente (an unrefined rum), sugar, lime and mint.

Others give mojito-creation credit to African slaves working on Cuban sugar cane fields in the 1800s.

The earliest mojito recipe dates back to 1931 and 1936 in Sloppy Joe's Bar Manual.


  • 3 fresh mint sprigs
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 oz light rum
  • club soda


In a tall, thin glass, crush part of the mint with a fork and coat the inside of the glass. In a separate container, combine the sugar and lime juice, and stir thoroughly. Top the mixture with ice, and add the rum and mix. Top off with chilled club soda or seltzer. Finish with a lime slice and remaining mint.


May 5, 2008

Me Want Some Cookies


I'm not vegan or a vegetarian, but I have quite a few friends who have chosen this sweet lifestyle. Power to them. Here is a recipe for vegan organic chocolate chip cookies via Dreena's Vegan Recipes. I doubled the recipe for kicks. Enjoy.

Super Duper Organic Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp organic baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup organic unrefined sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2/3 cup organic pure maple sugar
  • ½ tsp organic blackstrap molasses
  • 2 ½ tsp organic pure vanilla extract
  • A generous ½ cup organic canola oil
  • 2/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). In a bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the sugar and salt, and stir until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup with the molasses and vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the chocolate chips, and stir through until just well combined (do not over-mix). Place large spoonfuls of the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten a little. Bake for 11 minutes, until just golden (if you bake for much longer, they will dry out). Let cool on the sheet for no more than 1 minute (again, to prevent drying), then transfer to a cooling rack.

Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup


A few months ago, I sat in a waiting room- apathetic and bored out of my mind. I saw a Good Housekeeping on the table next to me. Not usually one to read this particular magazine, I hesitated, then went for it. After a few moments of nonchalantly paging through, I noticed a recipe that looked and sounded amazing. I went home and tried it, and it was everything I hoped it be and more.

I recommend this recipe to anyone who's a die-hard soup lover like myself:

This meal-in-a-bowl brims with fill-you-up soluble fiber, thanks to the lentils. Translation: It may help keep weight down and also helps lower total and "bad" LDL cholesterol. The lentils, spinach, and tomatoes, all rich in potassium, work to keep blood pressure in check, too.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (14 1/2-ounce) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (14- to 14 1/2-ounce) vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bag (5-ounce) baby spinach


In 4-quart saucepan, heat oil on medium until hot. Add carrots and onion, and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. Stir in cumin; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, lentils, 2 cups water, salt, and pepper; cover and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 8 to 10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in spinach.

Amount: 7 1/2 cups

May 4, 2008

The Layman's Guacamole


A cheap and incredibly simple way to prepare guacamole involves only buying three things.


  • 3-4 avocados
  • 1 normal-sized jar of salsa
  • Lemon juice


Peel and cut the avocados, then place them inside a big bowl. Dump the whole jar of salsa in the bowl and continuously stir until the substance is completely green. Sprinkle a tiny bit of lemon juice on top to get that tangy taste and then stir a little more. Now the 'Layman's Guacamole' is ready. You'll be surprised how much it tastes like real guacamole.

Get some tortilla chips and enjoy. It's the perfect complement to watching baseball on a very hot day.

May 1, 2008

Greek Almond Dip With Homemade Pita Chips


This recipe is great for entertaining, as it's an incredibly easy, no-cook dip. It is loosely based on the Greek sauce skordalia.


  • 3/4 cup raw (unblanched) almonds
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (or regular, unflavored yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4- 6" pitas (one 8 oz. package), split and divided into quarters
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Pulse almonds in a blender until they are finely ground. Place in a bowl with remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine.

Preheat oven to 375°. Arrange the pita wedges in a single layer on a sheet pan (use two pans if they don't all fit). Sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Place in the oven, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes without turning.

Amount: Serves 6

A simple, delicious recipe that's great for parties.

(Thanks to Domino Magazine)

April 30, 2008

Rice, spice, and everything nice


When I get a hankering for curry, there’s no stopping me – I must have it. That very same day the craving hit, Kim Ode (who I had met days previously at a food writing event) from the Star Tribune wrote an article featuring curry dishes. And one of my Web writers turned in a story about curry. That solidified it – I was going to make curry. So I called up my dear friend Megan, my favorite friend who puts Sriracha on her Spaghettios, and she gladly welcomed the idea. After I gathered my new Le Creuset cast iron pot, a few ingredients, and some excitement – I was on my way. There are as many curry dishes as there are stars in the universe, and we decided on making Chicken Vegetable Curry in Coconut Milk. We propped the laptop onto the kitchen counter, opened the recipe from the Internet, and got to chopping. Megan willingly took control of cutting the vegetables, while I started to brown the chicken. We had a few setbacks in the process, including the knife mistaking Megan’s finger for the carrot, and the fire alarm going off. Setbacks aside, this went off pretty much without a hitch.


  • 3 lb. chicken pieces, preferably thighs and drumsticks
  • 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 3 or 4 tbsp. coconut, peanut or corn oil
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into strips
  • 2 hot chile peppers, such as jalapeño or serrano
  • 2 in.- piece of fresh ginger root, minced, or 2 to 3 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1.5 c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. unsweetened coconut milk


If using jointed thighs and drumsticks, cut the chicken pieces into halves at the joint. Rinse and dry well with paper toweling. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and black pepper.

Pour the flour into a paper or plastic bag, put in the chicken and dust all over with the flour. Remove the chicken from the bag, and shake off any excess flour.

Pour the oil in a 3-quart saucepan and set the pan over moderate heat, and heat the oil until it is quite hot. Add about half the chicken pieces and brown over moderate high heat all over, about 4 or 5 minutes, turning often. Remove the browned chicken from the pan and brown the remaining pieces the same way and remove from the pan.

Reduce the heat a bit and stir into the pan the onions, garlic, bell pepper, chile pepper and ginger. Sauté, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Then stir in the cinnamon, curry powder and flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and coconut milk.

Return the browned chicken pieces to the pan. Raise the heat and bring the pot to a gentle boil, stirring, and cook over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook the chicken for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding a pinch of salt, if needed.

Test the chicken for doneness by cutting into a thigh at the joint, and check to see if the juices run clear. If not, cook a few minutes longer.

Serve the chicken over rice, noodles or boiled potatoes.

Amount: Serves 4

For the chicken, we cut up boneless chicken breasts so we didn't have to deal with joints and bones. We added peas and carrots, and didn’t use the chili peppers or the ginger. We ladled it over a bed of rice.

April 29, 2008

Rice Pudding


As my mother finishes up her last few housekeeping tasks, she runs to the stove to see if the rice is boiling over, which is a sure sign the kids are coming home for the holidays. Rice pudding is in the works.

Rice pudding has been the little black dress of our family’s table. Just like the role the little black dress plays in a woman’s wardrobe, rice pudding has been the sturdy go-to dish of our house. Whether it was the medicine of choice that soothed our achy bodies as we stayed home sick from school, or the decadent ending to an indulgent meal, my mom always knew when the time was right.

Any time I encountered a spoonful of the creamy pudding, safety and comfort lined my insides. Not only is this dish a family staple, rice pudding introduced me to my favorite spice: cinnamon. To me, rice pudding is naked without it.

The ingredients are very basic, which creates room for experimentation with mix-ins, namely fruit pieces and nuts. Almonds and apricots, or cherries and walnuts— these are ways in which I try to relive memories from home, with my own twist.

The recipe that my mother uses for her rice pudding is from a cookbook given to her by her aunt (my great aunt), who currently lives just across the tomato garden from us.


  • 3 cups milk
  • ½ cup raw white rice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • cinnamon to your taste
  • serve with raisins on top


In a 1.5 quart greased casserole dish, place the mixture of milk, rice, salt, sugar, and vanilla . Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Place uncovered dish in a preheated 300 degree oven for 2 hours.

April 28, 2008



It's hard to find vegetarian Mexican food in this city. Either there's lard in the beans or chicken broth in the rice -- two questions I often forget to ask until I wonder why my enchiladas taste so good. I frequent Little Tijuana's on 26th and Nicollet because they're veggie friendly, but I'm growing sick of having to either go out to get my burrito fix or settle with limp homemade quesadillas.

My kitchen doesn't even fit two people, so cooking an entire meal is usually out of the question. Homemade Mexican food to me is cheese, and lots of it, accompanied with something spicy served on something soft.

But comfort zones are for wussies. Dare I give up my cheese addiction and attempt vegan enchiladas? One night I found myself with an extra two hours (you'll need it), and I went for it, exploring uncharted areas like homemade vegan sour cream and corn tortillas. This recipe, found in Ryan Splint's "Hot Damn and Hell Yeah", is difficult with tons of tiny steps and forks in the road. But not all ingredients are necessary -- a good meal can be made out of the chili gravy and refried beans alone. Put 'em all together and you have a banging enchilada.

And why not make your own no-cheese sauce instead of letting Super America do it for you?

Continue reading "VeganMex" »

April 25, 2008

My take on the Great Swedish Dish


My mother's side of the family is very Scandinavian. So, it comes by no surprise that my all-time favorite is Swedish Meatballs. Even though I love my mom's homemade recipe, a couple years ago I wanted to come up with my own special dish to bring into our extended family. I found a recipe at a Lund’s recipe directory kiosk, but shhh... don’t tell my mother.

Now, for the last couple years I’ve served Beefy Wild Rice Meatballs as an appetizer during Christmas and also for my family randomly throughout the year. It makes a good hearty meal, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Since the dish is already so rich, I usually substitute egg noodles for the rice or potatoes. Also, if you like garlic and onion don’t be shy to add more.

Use as an appetizer or serve as a main dish for 6-8.


  • 3/4 cup cooked wild rice
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can 98 percent fat free cream of chicken soup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
  • hot cooked rice, or mashed potatoes


Combine wild rice, ground beef, onion, garlic, salt and milk; shape into 1" balls. Arrange in 10x15" jelly roll pan. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until lightly browned (about 15 minutes). Combine remaining ingredients except potatoes or rice in 2 quart casserole, stir in meatballs. Bake, covered, until bubbly in center (about 40 minutes). Serve over hot cooked rice or mashed potatoes.

Amount: about 48 (1") meatballs

April 23, 2008

Spring Rhubarb


Rhubarb, or “Pie Plant? is a vegetable perennial that is popular in Minnesota for its winter hardiness and low maintenance. Rhubarb is one of the first edibles to be harvested in the Spring, with some stalks ready to be pulled in as early as May!

But much like turnips and cranberries, Rhubarb can be a bit tart for the palette on its own. Therefore, Rhubarb is most often cooked into a sauce with added sugar or used as fillings in pies, tarts, and cakes. Like apples, Rhubarb will not make a batter runny and holds moisture well in baked goods.

Fresh Minnesota rhubarb will start arriving by the barrel in a few weeks, and in turn, will be a very inexpensive local produce choice. So give it a try with this great unfailing, easy recipe for Oatmeal-Rhubarb Bars.


  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Oatmeal -- uncooked
  • 1 cup Brown sugar -- packed
  • 1/2 cup Butter, unsalted -- melted
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 4 cups Rhubarb


Mix flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and butter until crumbly. Press 1/2 into greased 9" pan. Add rhubarb, cut in 1/2" pieces. Combine sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla; cook till thick and clear. Pour sauce over rhubarb. Top with other half crumb mixture. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

April 21, 2008

Sour Cream Coffee Cake


My mom made this recipe for sour cream coffee cake practically every Sunday when I was growing up. If I woke up early enough, I would walk downstairs to find her in the kitchen mixing all of the ingredients together. I would help pour the batter into the pan, lick the spatula, and wait hungry in anticipation for it to bake--with the cinnamon and sugar aroma filling the entire house. It was usually done a few hours before lunch, and we would sit down as a family in my home's sun room and enjoy it with some eggs and grape juice.


  • 1/2 Cup Butter

  • 1 Cup Sugar

  • 2 Eggs

  • 1 Tsp Vanilla

  • 1 cup Sour Cream

  • 2 Cups Flour

  • 1 Tsp Soda

  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder

  • 1 Tsp Salt


  • 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon


In a mixing bowl cream the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Alternately add the flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and sour cream.

Place 1/2 of the batter into a 9x9 greased pan, sprinkle 1/2 of the topping over the batter, then repeat.
With a knife swirl topping into batter. (Four lines across and four lines down.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

April 17, 2008

Tomato Bread soup


My mom loves bread. And she loves to send me homemade bread in the mail. One time I sent her a recipe that I thought she'd like (like this Honey Oatmeal Bread) and two days later I received a package in the mail from her filled with that same bread. It's always great bread, don't get me wrong, but too often the mold gets to it before I do.

So much bread, so little time (or stomach space) to eat it - what's a girl to do? I went to the place that always solves life's biggest problems for me: Google. After some trial-and-error searches and some digging, I found out that bread is an ingredient in a staple Italian dish: tomato bread soup. This concotion is akin to France's Ratatouille in that it's the 'poor man's' dish of Italy. It is ridiculously cheap to make (as in, it cost me 6 dollars to make a huge batch.) After taking a trip to the Wedge Co-op grocery store in Uptown to get tomatoes, basil, and onions, I was all set.

This recipe is pretty straightforward and I have to say I (pretty much) followed the rules. One thing that brought me a little trouble was that I didn't have any garlic. But, my friend who was in the kitchen with me at the time, was baking some garlic dip that her mother made. So I put a few tablespoons of that dip in the oil. Let me be the first to tell you that this dip wasn't lacking in flavor whatsoever, my eyes nearly watered everytime I swept a chip through it. It worked just fine. Another note: Whenever I make soup I always end up adding more 'fillers' which usually turns the recipe to a stew. I used about 6 slices of bread and a combination of different tomatoes (1 lb of diced cherry tomatoes and 1 lb of diced roma tomatoes.) Use whichever you like.


  • Four 3/4-inch- (2-cm-) thick slices peasant bread
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
  • 3 medium cloves garlic,smashed, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 14 large basil leaves, washed well and cut across into narrow strips
  • 1 3/4 pounds (790 g) plum tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch (.5-cm) dice
  • 4 cups (1 liter) chicken stock [for a vegetarian soup, use Garlic Broth]
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, or less if using commercial broth
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • good olive oil, for serving


Heat the oven to 225°F (107°C; less than #1/2 gas mark; less than #1/4 British regulo). Place the bread directly on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, just to dry the bread out; do not brown. Break the bread into large pieces.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in the basil and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cook at a low boil for 13 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the stock, bread, salt, and pepper. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring and breaking up the bread with the back of a spoon, for 15 minutes. The bread should break down to a mush. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Serve with a few grinds of fresh pepper, and drizzled with some good olive oil.

Amount: 6 cups

As always, I hope this inspires you to taste.

April 15, 2008

Recipes from the Blogosphere


Since I don't get to cook much ( I don't have a kitchen- I live in a dorm) , I wanted to share with you the blogs of some individuals that DO have the luxury of a kitchen and can share some great recipes with you.



David Lebovitz

The Amateur Gourmet

Tea & Cookies

Everybody Likes Sandwhiches

Chocolate and Zucchini

April 11, 2008

Carrots - to taste


I have a new favorite vegetable: carrots. They are so adaptable. You can julienne them for dipping into a fresh herb dip in the summer for a light, crunchy snack, or else you can roast them in the oven with potatoes and spices for a hearty, cozy meal during the doldrums of winter. Although it technically isn't winter, I found myself creating the latter on one of those nights where you 'just miss your mom.'

My muse for this dish was from a take out box from Lucia's To-Go Bakery, a cafe whose chef (Lucia) uses Minnesota-grown ingredients. A couple Sunday afternoons ago, after taking a stroll around Lake Calhoun, I stopped at Lucia's and was taken aback by the buzz of energy in the place. The energy of those inside was equal to the brisk walkers around the lake that I had previously been around. But all the buzz was muted when I saw the carrots. She had some Moroccan Spiced Carrots in the deli salad case. They were beautiful, and being on a college student's budget I didn't take much, so they didn't last me long. So, here was my challenge: recreate them.

First I needed to know how to properly roast carrots so I consulted my two new books that have recently gotten more of my attention than my textbooks: The St. Paul Farmers' Market Cookbook and the Food Lover's Companion. Neither of them had any information about how to roast carrots. So I turned to the next second-best source of information that was available, the Internet. Here I found that I needed to roast them at 400 degrees, for about a half an hour stirring every 10 minutes, roughly. Heating logistics: check. The seasoning was still left up in the air. I knew from previous experiences that Moroccan spices fall under the Middle Eastern spices category. So I used anything close to a Middle Eastern spice that I had on hand. In a bowl I mixed a little olive oil, and a few dashes of the following spices: cinnamon, curry, cumin, and corriander. I mixed this in a bowl with the carrots that were cut up, and spread it on a baking sheet Before popping it in the oven, I drizzled some honey over top for a touch of sweetness.

Then you wait. And stir. And wait. And stir. Repeat until they are at the texture you want them to be. This could range from 30 minutes, to an hour, it just depends on your taste.

So I'm sorry, once again, I don't really have a 'recipe' for you because this one just depends on your taste. Maybe you want more/less oil, maybe you like yours a little more savory (more curry or cumin, less cinnamon and honey), and maybe you don't like carrots at all and would rather try this on baby red potatoes. Either way, more than giving you a recipe, I hope this will motivate you to get inspired about food around you, to experiment, to learn, and to taste.