Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Crock-pot Split Pea Soup: It's a Gas!

I had a fantastic split pea soup in Seattle last week, and since then I’ve been craving it. This is my first time making it. I’ve made some smokin’ lentil soups in my crock-pot, so I figured it wouldn’t be too hard. I was right.

Split Pea Soup with Ham (and Bacon)

Serves 6 Ready in about 5 hours


½ pound smoked cooked ham, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz) of chicken broth (I added about a cup of water)
1 pound dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
3 carrots, thinly sliced (I only had baby carrots, so I just cut up a handful)
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon dried marjoram leaves (I imagine you could skip the spices if you wanted. I didn’t plan on using these, as I generally don’t buy them. But a co-worker heard me complain that I didn’t have any, so she brought me some from home)
1 bay leaf
two pieces of cooked bacon (for flavor)

Place a nonstick skillet over medium heat; add butter, ham, and onion; cook until onion is tender and ham is slightly brown. Try not to burn the onions like I did.
Drain excess fat. If you’re adding bacon, now is the time to fry it up.

Combine mixture and remaining ingredients in crock-pot.

Cover and cook on LOW (total lie, I cooked it on medium for three hours) for 5 to 6 hours, or until split peas are tender. Remove bay leaf and let stand for 10 minutes to thicken.

It tasted fantastic and was even better the next day.

Note: You may want to pop a few Beanos before eating the pea soup!

I probably won’t make this again considering that I had to spend 15 minutes frying crap just to dump it in the crock-pot. Isn’t the point of crock-pot to just dump everything in and let it cook and do little to no work?

Side note: on my way home from work today I found a round Rival crock-pot next to someone’s trash. I’ve washed it, but have yet to actually test to see if it works.

Coming soon: crock-pot apple cobbler!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

quinoa surprise

After obsessively reading Lorna Sass' new cookbook on whole grains, I've decided I need way more bizarre and hard-to-find grains in my diet. Like amaranth. And teff. Quinoa is actually something I keep in my pantry, so after reading Lorna's bit on what flavors go with what grains, I headed to the fridge to create something healthy.

Cook quinoa according to package (cook with part broth, if you have it)


garlic (many cloves, crushed)
green or red pepper
a can of beans, drained (black would be nice, also chickpeas)
frozen corn (Trader Joe's roasted corn works nicely)
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, any other spices that strike you (oregano?)

Mix with quinoa.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shrimp and garlic pasta with a bunch of frozen veggies

I created this meal the other night because I was out of soup and I needed to pack a lunch for work, something that was hearty.

I totally made this recipe up using whatever I could find.

3 oz frozen shrimp, already peeled and de-pooped (ie from Trader Joes)
3 oz whole wheat pasta
1 cup of fresh or frozen spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cups of frozen veggies (corn and broccoli)
olive oil
parmasian cheese

1. Bring two pots of water to boil: one for pasta, one for steaming the veggies
2. Toss pasta in one pot, follow cooking directions
3. In the second pot steam veggies and shrimp. Note: I don't own a steamer. Instead I am using a small collander over the pot. I had to steam in three shifts: pasta and garlic, corn and broccoli and garlic, spinach.

4. Mix everything in a bowl and add olive oil and parmasian cheese.

The world's easiest meal and a totally healthy lunch.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

pasta with easy norma

I realize the name of this dish sounds like a lunch date with the slightly skanky girl you knew in high school. And although it takes a tad longer than I'd like (starving as always, I had to eat peanut butter Puffins in order to survive the cooking process), it's super simple. And as a big plus, it gave me something different to do with the eggplant I got in my box of organic vegetables last week. From On Top of Spaghetti by Johanne Killeen and George Germon, who own Al Forno in Providence.

Pasta with Easy Norma (slightly adjusted from original recipe)

Into a biggish saucepan: lots of chopped onions (I used two smallish ones), 3 cups tomato juice (preferably organic), one cup water.

Cover, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, simmer covered for 10 minutes.

Then add: 4-ish cups eggplant, unpeeled, cut in cubes (I used one medium-sized one). 1/4 cup olive oil. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional). Salt.

Cover, bring to a boil, turn down heat, simmer covered for 40 minutes.

If it still seems too thin, turn the heat up, take the cover off, and hang out with it, stirring constantly, until it seems thicker. Mine took a little bit of stirring, but it really did end up with lovely, silky bits of eggplant in a nice thick sauce. And I don't even like tomato juice!

The recipe wants you to serve this with penne, but I used whole wheat rotini and I think I've survived.

(Stayed tuned next week for the recipe for the molasses sugar cookies I made for several football fans last Sunday.)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Citrus Roasted Game Hens

Hey there Domestic goddesses!

Just wanted to submit my favorite Game Hen recipe- I make these little guys all the time- this one comes from my own recipe. Great thing to make when it's cold outside or you want to make something that tastes really fancy but is easy to make.

I created this recipe one day when I had nothing in my house except some frozen hens in the freezer and some leftover limes/lemons from a weekend of too many cocktails.... I'm lucky I happened to have lemons and limes that day, as the second option was olive and vodka stuffed hens- which most likely would have gone into the trash and not ended up on this blog. :)

Pete loved them, so they became a regular part of my recipes.

I'll submit some photos of my kitchen too one day. -Jenna

Citrus Roasted Game Hens

2 Cornish Hens
2 oranges
2 lemons
1 lime (optional)
Seasoned salt ( I have a great recipe for this- I'll submit later)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse hens and remove yucky bag of nastiness inside hen. Salt inside of hens lightly with seasoning and set aside.

Lightly spray glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Wash lemons, limes and orages, cut into small wedges, leaving the peel on all fruits. Mix up fruit wedges together in a bowl.

Stuff hens with citrus mixture, setting extra fruit aside for roasting.

Baste hens with oilve oil, dust with seasoned salt and place in baking dish breast side down.

Add extra citrus fruit around hens in dish. Drizzle the hens and fruit with honey. The honey helps offset some of the tartness of the fruit and also gives the hens a nice crispy skin.

Bake for 1 hour uncovered in oven or until internal temp reaches 180. Baste frequestly with juices from the pan. The citrus will continue to produce more juice as you bake the hens.

Serve with citrus inside hens, the juice from the dish also makes a delicious light citrusy gravy.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

apple nut muffin cake

Although this isn't my grandmother's apple cake, which is the old vegetable oil standard, it's still quite lovely. Almost virtuous, with all its fruit and nut bits. My boyfriend's dad, who does not have much of a sweet tooth, gives it a solid thumbs-up. I like its unorthodox mixing technique, and how homey it is. The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Apple Nut Muffin Cake

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider or milk (I used more milk)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oats
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and diced (I used two)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans leftover from a pie)
1/3 cup raisins

Oven at 400.
Grease and flour an 8 inch baking pan (I used floured Pam, which someone just bought for me).
Whisk together milk, cider/juice, egg, vanilla, almond and butter.
In another bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Add brown sugar to dry ingredients; get lumps out with fingers.
Add oats to dry ingredients; stir.
Stir the liquids into the dry stuff, using a big rubber spatula.
Don't mix too too much! Like muffins, this cake likes less mixing. Lumps are fine.
Stir in apple, nuts and raisins.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a knife comes out clean.
After it cools for a bit, you can hatch it out of the pan if you'd like. With the floured Pam, my cake practically jumped out of the pan on its own!

Very nice still warm, but also nice the next day for breakfast, toasted with butter.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

some thoughts on beets

I've been obsessed lately with steamed beets. Don't make that face! They're lovely.

Cut off their greens, if they have them. You don't need to cut off the spindly little tails.
Wash them a bit to get the major dirt off. Don't peel!
Pop them in a pot with a steamer basket inside (and water, of course).
Depending on the size of the beets, they should be done somewhere between 25 and 45 minutes. You'll know because a fork will go in easily. Don't let all the water boil away!
Now: rub off all the skin using paper towels.
Cover your cutting board with plastic wrap (unless you want it to be pink forever) and slice. Discard the tails.
Store in a zippy bag in the fridge (again, unless you want your tupperware of choice to be pink forever).
Use in divine little salads: baby spinach, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, oil and vinegar.

As an added bonus: they'll turn your pee pink!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The French Onion Soup That Wasn't

I tried to make French Onion Soup last night. I figured since I had the day off and it was rainy and cold, it'd be perfect, but silly me waited too long to try and throw it together.

It was late when I started out to make it. Upon rereading the recipe I discovered:
1) this soup was not a quick soup (who knew?)
2) once made, the soup has to simmer on the stove for 40 minutes (not good news to my hungry tummy)
3) I needed flame-proof/ resistant soup bowls to BROIL the soup in before serving. (What? I've never heard of them, so obviously I don't own any and the bowls I do own barely survive the microwave.)

Needless to say I was disappointed, especially because I spent $12 on two kinds of cheese the day before.

The soup will have to wait for now. At least until I can get my hands on these bowls.

And by the way- I added extra corn, soy milk, and two chopped baked potatoes to the corn and crabmeat soup and it redeemed itself. Potatoes really do cut the taste of ginger.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Corn and Crabmeat Soup (From The Soup Bible)

Before I begin, here are some photos of my kitchen clean. And yes, that is a kitchen witch.

A Warming Winter Soup

Serves 4

4 ounces crabmeat (I used a 6 ounce can)
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (I forgot the ginger root and used ground ginger instead, only I used ½ tablespoon by mistake)
2 tablespoons milk (I used light soymilk)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 egg whites
2 ½ cups vegetable stock (I used 2 ½ vegetable bullion cubes with 2 ½ cups of water)
8-ounce can of creamed corn (I forgot the can, so I used 8 ounces of frozen corn)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped scallions, to garnish

1. Flake the crabmeat and mix it with the ginger in a bowl. In another bowl, stir the milk and cornstarch together until smooth.
2. Beat the egg whites until frothy, add the milk and cornstarch mixture, and beat again until smooth. Blend with crabmeat. (I used a whisk rather than actually beating the mixture. Or is using a whisk the same as beating?)
3. In a wok or saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. Add the creamed corn and return to a boil.

4. Stir in the crabmeat and egg white mixture, adjust the seasoning, and stir slowly until well blended. Serve garnished with chopped scallions.

Note: I paired it with Thai spring rolls and green tea to complete the meal.

The recipe claims it’s easy, and it’s true. It took me about 15 minutes from start to finish. I wish I could say that my first attempt at this recipe (and the blog) was successful, but that’s a lie. I totally screwed up with the ginger (which as it turns out I hate), so the soup was ginger-heavy and almost unbearable to eat. I added some milk (which I should have added 8 ounces of it to replace the creamed corn along with a tablespoon of flour) in attempt to dilute the ginger. It did not really work, but I did learn that supposedly potatoes dilute ginger, so tomorrow I’ll add potato to it to try and salvage it.

And clean up took me three minutes. Seriously. But since Sharona begged to see the chaos:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Fabulous! Can't wait to share recipes! Always looking for deserts and easy meals!!!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I will try to make you a confection that resembles the Eiffel Tower!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It started with a dream.

Last week I dreamed that I was asked on the Ellen show because I had a world famous cooking blog called "It's Wicked Good." I woke up and thought, "Now that's brillant." I'm constantly testing out new recipes on my friends and co-workers and this medium is perfect to document my progress as a chef. Perhaps I'll be witty enough to warrant my own cookbook.

I can't promise that everything I make will taste, look, or smell good, but I can promise to document every step and include photos (once I figure out how to post them)of my masterpieces and disasters. I'll even offer you a glimpse of the state of my kitchen during the process.

Stay tuned, because dinner is about to be served.


Thanks for the invite, Danny D. I promise to post any new exciting recipes I cook. But there won't be pictures... sorry, no digital camera at chez sharona. I'll just try to describe everything really really well.