Tag Archives: cooking

best macaroni salad

i’m breaking the blog silence for this bad boy…a little late for summer, but there’s still hope for your fall cookouts and football-watching parties…

best macaroni salad
inspired by my friend mary; adapted from america’s test kitchen

1 lb ditalini or elbow macaroni
1 cup mayonnaise
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1/2 cup minced sweet pickle
3/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 lemon’s worth of juice (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup minced red onions
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the macaroni according to package directions until tender. Drain, do not rinse, and allow to cool in a big colander. (If you need to speed up the draining/cooling process, spread the macaroni evenly over paper towels and roll/pat dry.)

Toss the macaroni with the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour (even better: overnight) before serving.

since i forgot to photograph mine, this image is courtesy of I Believe I Can Fry, who has her own legit take on this salad!

since i forgot to photograph mine, this image is courtesy of I Believe I Can Fry, who has her own legit take on this salad!


dinner party

One of my favorite things to do is cook food and have friends over for dinner. I was really craving meatloaf this past week, so…

ultimate meatloaf

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman

olive oil
1-2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
some garlic, minced
some onion, diced
1/2 cup milk
3 slices of bread
1 lb. (or a little more) ground turkey
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/8 t seasoning salt
1 t dijon mustard
1 t Worchestershire
1/4 t thyme
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup
3 T brown sugar
hot sauce to taste

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Heat some olive oil in a pan; add leeks, garlic, and onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Set aside.
  • Put bread in a medium-sized bowl and pour milk over it, allowing milk to soak in for a few minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine turkey meat, milk and bread, leek/garlic/onion mixture, parmesan, mustard, worchestershire, thyme, seasoning salt, and pepper. Mix until integrated, probably using your (clean) hands. Add eggs and mix some more.
  • Prepare a cookie sheet for baking the meatloaf: line it with foil and place a cooling rack on top. Shape the turkey mixture into a loaf shape and put it on the rack.
  • In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, and hot sauce to make a sauce. Spread 1/2 of the sauce over the meatloaf.
  • Bake at 350 for 45 minutes; pour remaining sauce over meatloaf and cook another 15 minutes. Remove from oven, slice, and serve!!

If you were fancy and/or bacon-loving, you could criss-cross or wrap some slices of bacon around the meatloaf.

We served the meatloaf with basic mashed potatoes and a simple salad (best dressing: 1 T whole-grain mustard, 3 T balsamic, 3 T red wine vinegar, 9 T olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper), and brownies for dessert.

gourmet at home

I have wanted to join a CSA for a while, and starting a new home seemed like the appropriate time — so we’ve been getting delicious farm-fresh deliveries for a few months now. I’ve realized it’s probably not as cost effective as buying groceries at the supermarket, but I like that the box contents are local, organic, and always a surprise! It inspires me to cook and try new things, and there’s often stuff in the box that I’d never choose at the store…like this guy:


Turns out it’s Romanesco broccoli, and it inspired the following delicious and surprisingly easy weeknight meal. Portions are for two (hungry) people.

First, preheat the oven to 400. (I found it very satisfying to bake everything in the oven at the same time and same temperature.)

roasted crazy cauliflower with tumeric and cumin
adapted from Food and Wine

  • 1 head Romanesco cauliflower (or regular cauliflower, if you’re suuuuuuper borrrrring), cut into florets
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • handful of fresh chopped mint
  • handful of fresh chopped cilantro

Toss the cauliflower in a bowl with enough olive oil to evenly coat the pieces; add the cumin, tumeric, red pepper, salt, and lemon juice and toss it around until it’s all coated and oily and spicy. Spread onto a baking sheet (lined with tinfoil, if you desire, for easy cleanup) in one layer and bake until tender, about 30 minutes, turning/redistributing it halfway through. Toss roasted cauliflower with mint and cilantro and serve!

roasted potatoes

  • about a pound of whatever kind of potatoes you have/like, chopped into bite-sized pieces (ours were ruby crescent fingerling potatoes, halved longways)
  • salt
  • fresh-cracked black pepper
  • olive oil

Toss the potatoes with enough olive oil to coat. Sprinkle on some salt, crack some black pepper, and keep tossing until everything is distributed. Spread the potatoes onto a baking sheet (lined with tinfoil, if you desire, for easy cleanup) in one layer and bake until tender, about 30 minutes, turning/redistributing them halfway through. Serve!

stuffed chicken with goat cheese and herbs
adapted from Real Simple

  • 4 chicken thighs (around or just under 1 pound; you could also use breasts if you like them better; you also might have better results if you flatten the chicken pieces a bit)
  • 2 oz. goat cheese (or feta…or gorgonzola…or bleu, depending on your taste)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Sprinkle goat cheese, mint, and cilantro on chicken pieces and roll them up, fastening each with a toothpick (or a few toothpicks, depending on your rolling skills and the shape of the chicken pieces). Heat some oil in an oven-safe pan (this one works great) and cook the chicken, seam side up, for 3 or 4 minutes, until browned. Transfer the chicken to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove toothpicks and serve!

And why not have a little refreshment??

lemon-mint julep
(makes one drink)

  • handful of mint leaves
  • 2 sugar cubes
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • crushed ice
  • splash of lemon juce

Muddle mint leaves with sugar, bourbon, and crushed ice. Add a splash of lemon and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

And if you’re still not satisfied…

pear crisp
adapted from Pioneer Woman
(makes 4 servings)

  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, and diced (PW recommends bosc, ours were d’anjou)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 2T cold butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350. Combine pears and granulated sugar in a loaf pan or other small casserole. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. Cut in butter using a pastry blender (or two knives, or a fork, or your fingers). Sprinkle topping over pears. Bake for about 30 minutes.

And finally. . .watch Downton Abbey and enter food coma with great satisfaction.

baked butternut squash kale risotto

i moved into a new apartment last weekend! it is still mostly in shambles, but the kitchen is set up, snaut has adjusted and is back to his ornery self, the water pressure in the shower is truly remarkable, and i’ve been sleeping well. things are off to a great start.

i made dinner at home for the first time tonight — i was inspired by this recipe, which showed up in my reader this week. perfect for a chilly san francisco night in a new, warm home!

baked butternut squash kale barley risotto
(adapted from real simple)

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cups butternut squash (not gonna lie, I used the 12 oz., pre-cut bag of it from TJ’s, but you could peel, seed, and cut up a whole one if you want)
2 brat-sized sausages, cut into bite-sized pieces (i like the garlic herb ones from TJ’s)
salt and pepper
1 cup pearl barley
1 cup white wine
2.5 cups vegetable broth
5 oz. kale (i used half the 10 oz. prepackaged bag from TJ’s…are you seeing the trend? the new apartment is a very short walk from TJ’s…)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 T butter

preheat the oven to 400. hope the oven thermostat is correct because you forgot to bring the oven thermometer from your last apartment. make a note to get one of those.

if you have a dutch oven, get that baby on the stove over some heat. if you don’t have one because you’re saving it for your wedding registry, a big, short saucepan or even a stockpot will do just fine.

pour in a few tablespoons of olive oil. put on some christmas music while the oil heats up!

add the onion, butternut squash, sausage, salt, and pepper. sauté until the onion is translucent, five minutes or so.

feed the cat so he stops being so damn underfoot all the time, jeez!

stir in the barley and toss/toast it for about a minute.

stir in the wine and let it burn off for a minute or two. while you’re waiting, pour yourself a glass. mmmm, charles shaw. (hey, moving ain’t cheap. and neither are apartments in san francisco. you can use nice wine if you can afford it, moneybags.)

add the stock and kale; cover the pot and let the kale wilt for a minute or two. then uncover it and stir in the wilted kale. bring the everything to a boil.

if you’re using a dutch oven, throw the lid on that baby and stick it in the preheated non-dutch oven. if you’re a hopeful woman living in sin, transfer the contents of your trusty stockpot to an oven-safe 2.5-quart casserole dish with a lid, cover it, and put that in the preheated oven. (bonus points if it’s vintage pyrex!! you’re going to make an awesome wife someday!)

bake it for 35-40 minutes.

change into pajamas and type up the recipe while drinking more wine and cuddling with the cat. eat a few potato chips for a snack if you must.

once the barley is tender and the liquid is mostly soaked up, take your delicious-smelling meal out of the oven. make a mental note to get some mitten-type potholders because the ones that you hold but don’t fit onto your actual hands really don’t cut it.


stir in some parmesan (about half a cup) and a tablespoon of butter for good measure.

let cool slightly to soak up the rest of the liquid and serve in brightly colored bowls with more parmesan and more wine. watch some TV while you eat and be super thankful for your awesome life!

breakfast for dinner!

things are happening. i got a job! a social work job! it was not ideal, but i did my best for a while, until i quit. because i got another job! another social work job! so i took it. and i’m on day 6 and it is super exhausting but i am loving it. also, john and i are talking about doing all kinds of exciting things. and they all involve money! more money than we have! so we’re trying to budget and save more and spend less.

yesterday, after a few hours of boring and anxiety-provoking (for me, anyway) financial discussion, we were hungry. and since we’re not honey badgers so we couldn’t go hunting, and since we’d just spent hours looking at how we spend our money so we didn’t want to go out and spend more money, and since who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner (i certainly do), we decided to make breakfast for dinner with stuff we already had in the kitchen! like rotten bananas! and half-and-half that wasn’t bad yet! and peanut butter!

i started with this recipe as a guide and made some substitutions and additions — it’s pretty forgiving. these are a little heartier and more crumbly than classic buttermilk pancakes — perfect for dinnertime.

pantry dinner pancakes

makes about 7 5-inch pancakes

1/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup milk (soy milk would also be fine, or all milk would be fine, or all half-and-half would be fine, if you were really crazy. just get to 1 and 1/4 cups of some kind of milk-ish substance.)
1 mashed up, overripe banana
1 cup whole wheat flour (or regular flour, if you hate healthy whole grains)
1/2 cup quick oats (or whole oats, if that’s what you have)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
chocolate chips

in a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, milk, and banana.

in a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined (don’t over stir!!!).

drop by 1/3 cup-full onto a heated, buttered skillet and cook for a few minutes on each side, until done. (if adding chocolate chips, sprinkle them on top of each pancake right after you pour the batter onto the skillet.)

enjoy with maple syrup and some bacon/sausage/ham you have in the fridge/freezer and feel good about not spending any money on dinner and still eating something delicious!


I recently purchased a little propane grill, and we have been grilling like crazy.


We’ve had the same basic dinner twice in the last week: chicken thighs marinated in Worcestershire and BBQ sauce and grilled; zucchini cut into strips, sprinkled with seasoned salt, and grilled; red and yellow bell peppers quartered and grilled; corn on the cob de-silked, oiled and salted, rewrapped in husk, and grilled. One night I made sweet potato fries as an extra side, and on Friday, I made biscuits for the first time!

I combined two recipes because I didn’t want to make a thousand biscuits (we devoured the 10 this recipe made between dinner and the next morning’s breakfast, oops), I wanted them to be cheesy, and I wanted to just use what I already had at home in the pantry/fridge.

small-batch cheesy biscuits!

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks (or use salted butter and omit salt)
3/4 cup milk
1/3-1/2 cup grated cheese (I used some cheddar and some parmesan-romano)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (or butter it, if that’s more your style).
  2. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Add the butter chunks and cut in with a pastry blender, two forks, or two knives until you have a “coarse meal”.
  4. Stir in the cheese and black pepper.
  5. Slowly add the milk, stirring as you go until you have a soft dough.
  6. Turn the dough on to a floured board (my dough was really sticky) and knead to bring the dough together.
  7. Roll out (I actually just pressed) the dough to about 1-inch thick and use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds (I used a 2-inch cutter). Reshape the scraps and keep cutting!
  8. Place biscuits on prepared pan and bake for 12-14 minutes, until the biscuits are puffy and golden brown.

Makes 10 biscuits, which you’ll no doubt eat very quickly.

fun with ice cream!

I have one of the best roommate-friends a girl could ask for in Stephie Q., and she congratulated me on my MSW with an amazing gift: an ice cream attachment for my KitchenAid!!

The thing about homemade ice cream is you have to be very patient, and you have to plan ahead (freeze the bowl, make the ice cream mixture, refrigerate the ice cream mixture, churn the ice cream). I am better at one of those things than the other. . .but when we’re talking about straight-up eggs, heavy cream, half-and-half, and me being unemployed, not being able to make a batch a day is probably a good thing.

I had a bunch of buttermilk and lemons left over from my graduation party, and blueberries are starting to show up in the markets, so I decided to make some blueberry buttermilk ice cream as my inaugural batch. (Close second and next batch: Guinness milk chocolate.)


I opted for the fancy custard-base version, but I got the heat too high and scrambled the eggs. Oops. I tried to thin them out with my immersion blender and re-strain them, but I still ended up with some egg bits in the ice cream. (You can’t tell in the finished product.)

I refrigerated the ice cream mixture overnight and then started up the mixer!!

churn, baby, churn!

Magically, after 25 minutes, I had delicious ice cream. The consistency was perfect soft-serve. I ate a little bowl and put the rest in the freezer to set up. YUM!

om nom nom

I think I taste a lot of ice cream, froyo, and sorbet in my summer.