Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Season. New Look. New Recipe.

I got a haircut.

This is not usually a notable event, but I really went for it this time. I had been thinking about it casually for a really long time. The other day...on the hottest day in LA history...I looked up a few salons (I wanted to go a step above my usual supercuts visit for this one), and went during my lunch break.

When I arrived at the salon, the hairdresser, Mino, seemed hesitant at first to lop off my extra-long and thick curls. I think he sensed that I was not entirely sure of my decision either. I finally gave him the go-ahead to chop away and within 10 seconds, my hair was on a low ponytail. Within another 5 seconds, my ponytail was in his longer attached to my head. I felt lighter and healthier all of the sudden, and there was no turning back. I had made the right decision.

I liked having long curly hair, but I thought a change would be nice, and it is. I don't know if I look particularly better with short hair, but I feel better at least for now.


With my mom at a Florida Gator game a year ago; even though I like the change of the new cut, this picture makes me nostalgic for my old hair.


On my computer camera...Just woke up on a Saturday morning...I straightened my hair the day before. I think I will mostly be wearing it curly though...the straightening just makes the change that much more dramatic I suppose. It feels light and fresh for now, but I may get cold in the winter without my winter mane!

Have I inspired you to try something new? If so, you should try this simple recipe for potatoes. It is the easiest thing! This was in a little article from my June issue of Food Network Magazine that featured the city of Syracuse, NY. According to the article, the tasty dish originated with some Irish salt mine workers in Syracuse during the 19th century. They would drop some small potatoes into the piping hot brine at work for a cheap lunch. The result was a soft, creamy inside and a delicious skin, full of flavor from the salt. The wonderful texture can be attributed to the high heat the salted water is able to reach. Apparently, this dish (with a side of melted butter for dipping) is still a staple in Syracuse restaurants to this day.

This could not be simpler; it is as easy as boiling potatoes, but the salt changes everything. I made these salt potatoes to go with our beef tenderloin the other night, and then I mashed up the leftovers, adding sour cream and butter, to make mashed potatoes as a side to another dinner.

Syracuse Salt Potatoes

(recipe from Food Network Magazine - serves 8)

1 1/4 pounds salt (kosher or regular table salt is fine)
8 C water
2 pounds small fingerling OR yukon gold potatoes (any variety of small potatoes should work)
about a 1/2 C butter (for melting and dipping).

Pour the salt, water and potatoes into a large pot, and bring to a boil.
Cook until the potatoes are tender all the way through (about 20-30 minutes)
Drain the water, and allow potatoes to dry and cool.
Serve with melted butter for dipping!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How 'Bout Them Apples

Can I take it back?

In my last post, I discussed the cooling of the weather as summer turns into fall. I would like to take this opportunity to take back everything I said as I sit here during the absolute hottest day in recorded LA history: 113 degrees F. Unbelievable.

Ironically, we went apple picking last weekend.

I am pretty sure apple trees are associated with cool, even cold weather. I am not sure what to make of the fact that we were basically picking apples in the sweltering heat of the desert sun, but the fruit was plentiful and delicious in Oak Glen, CA. The day-trip was a recommendation from my co-worker, Andy who has been there with his family a few times. Sube accompanied Zach and me on the 90 minute drive into the depths of small-town California. Brian just bought a new amazing camera, and recorded the picturesque adventure for his "Movie of the Week (14)":

There were five different types of apples we picked: Fuji, Jonothan, Spartan, Macintosh, and I don't remember the name of the other! I ended up with 8 pounds of apples. We have been eating them as is, but you know you are about to see some apple recipes coming soon....starting now.

Zach doesn't particularly care for apple pie, and I don't need to be stuffing my face in a pie all by myself so that option is out. I decided to make some apple bread to try. As I have said before, I am not particularly good at baking, and this was no exception. I accidentally added a tablespoon of baking powder instead of a teaspoon and I left of the baking soda completely. I also left the bread in the oven an extra 7 or 8 minutes (who can be certain?) That sort of thing usually wouldn't matter so much when you are cooking, but for this, it made the bread come out slightly dry. I have chosen to still blog this recipe, however, because despite my mistakes (which were actually disaster-size mistakes), the bread was delicious. Like I said, slightly dry, but delicious! I ate a slice right out of the oven and drizzled some of that Jullian, CA mountain blossom honey over it while it was still warm.

It had a really great taste. It would be a great substitution for banana walnut bread for someone who doesn't like bananas. It was slightly sweet and crunchy (with the walnuts).... a great use for my first few apples!

You will like this bread if you make it like I did. You will love this bread if you make it like this:

Apple Walnut Loaf
(recipe from - makes one loaf)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter (original recipe used butter, but commenters on allrecipes suggested oil to make the bread more moist OR you can stick with the 1/2 cup of butter and add a 1/2 cup or so of apple sauce or milk for moisture)
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cup apples - peeled, cored and shredded (I don't really think you need to peel the apples; some commenters on the original recipe suggested leaving the skin on for added fiber since it did not change the consistency for them at all)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Mix together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and nuts.
In a large bowl, beat butter or oil (plus any apple sauce or milk you are adding), sugar and 1 egg until smooth. Beat in second egg, and stir in vanilla. Stir in shredded apples. Pour flour mixture into batter; stir just until moistened. Spread into prepared pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Place on a rack to cool. (I would suggest no more than 50 minutes!)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's Getting Chili Out There

Cold weather means warm food tastes better.

Now, I realize that having to put on a light jacket for the evening dog walk does not qualify as "cold weather" to most of you, but here is Southern California the temperature is about to dip, making me verrrrryyyy uncomfortable.

I am sorry to say goodbye to summer. You might even call me "in denial" as I sit here today in all white from head to toe...white dress...white shoes...breaking all the "after labor day rules." This past summer was really nice. We somehow were spared the June Gloom (or overcast gray skies) which usually lasts about 5 weeks during the early part of the summer. We were also spared the long intense heat waves in late July/early August (not that we didn't get hit with some heat, but it is usually unbearable for a couple weeks) - global warming taking a break this year?.

Nothing welcomes the fall like a piping hot bowl of meaty chili. I am still in love with the chili I made for one of my very first posts, but I thought this one from my Food Network Magazine looked interesting. It is a Texas Chili which I take to mean "no beans." I certainly like beans in my chili, but this all-meat version sounded like a delicious alternative as well (especially considering I still had about 2 pounds of a beef tenderloin left over from the night before). Just a fair warning: this is spicy! It is slightly sweet as well, and the presence of the two conflicting tastes was a welcome surprise. You can scale back the heat a little bit if you prefer by adding less chopped green chilies or leaving out the green hot sauce...that sort of thing.

Now, this is chili two ways (as promised): Texas Chili and then Chili Corn Casserole. My magazine suggested making a delicious casserole with the leftover chili to mix everything up a bit. I have to say, it was a complete success. It made me feel like I got the most out of the chunk of meat I bought (even though you do NOT have to use the usually expensive beef tenderloin when making the chili...the slow cooker will make cheap beef taste like a million bucks!).

Texas Chili

(recipe from Food Network Magazine)

2 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 4.5-ounce cans chopped green chiles, drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3/4 cup chili powder
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles
1 to 2 tablespoons green hot sauce
Sliced scallions, fresh cilantro and/or sour cream, for topping
Tortilla chips, for serving (optional)
Corn tortillas (optional)

Toss the beef with 1 tablespoon each brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef in batches until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes (do not crowd the pan). Transfer to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion to the skillet and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chiles, cumin and chili powder and cook 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water and the tomatoes and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low, 7 hours.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar and the hot sauce to the chili. Serve with scallions, cilantro and/or sour cream for topping, and chips, if desired. Another idea is to serve it in a corn tortilla bowl: simply place a corn tortilla in the serving bowl before spooning in the chili. (Reserve 3 to 4 cups for Chili-Corn Casserole.).

*NOTE FROM ME: This is completely optional, but I really prefer refrigerating and reheating before eating it. I am not sure why, but I always think it tastes better when it has been completely cooled and then reheated the day after!

Chili Corn Casserole

(recipe from Food Network Magazine - serves 4)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ears corn, kernels cut off
Kosher salt
6 scallions, chopped
3 to 4 cups leftover chili
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack or monterey jack cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 18-ounce tube precooked polenta, cut into 12 rounds
(Use leftover Slow-Cooker Texas Chili.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the scallions and cook until soft, about 1 minute.

Spread the chili in an 8-inch-square baking dish. Top with half of the cheese followed by half of the corn mixture. Lay the polenta rounds on top, then sprinkle with the remaining corn and cheese.

Bake until the casserole is heated through and the top is golden, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beef Tenderloin for Sale

This is never going to photograph as awesome as it tasted.

Considering I couldn't find my camera while the food was hot, these pictures are the best I could do from Zach's cell phone.

I always look at sales like some sort of game. I know retailers end up making money off of sales. It is because they convince people to buy things they normally would not have even considered purchasing at full price. Well, I refuse to be taken! I approach sales the way I would a dirty little rodent: wait until it is in a corner and then examine its moves as I close in slowly then POUNCE!

I try not to buy things on sale just because they are on sale. I hate feeling like I was "fooled" by the sale. I like to feel like I won the game...the store did not take me...I took IT! I buy things on sale for the following reasons:

I will 100% need to buy this item in the very near future whether it will be on sale or not (for example: I would buy coke zero before I actually run out if there is a great deal like 2 cases for the price of 1. I would never just buy it if it is slightly discounted because who is to say the deal will not be sweeter by the time I actually need to buy it?)

If I have been waiting for an item to go on sale, I will name my price in my head (for example: "That shirt is worth $19 to me so I will buy it if it dips below that price")

I will buy something on sale if it is better quality but the same price (on sale) as something I normally buy (for example: This happens quite often with wine; I have my go-to bottles, but regularly there are nicer bottles on sale for the same price so I can use those opportunities to try some new ones)

This beef tenderloin falls under the "I have been tracking you (borderline-stalking) this item for weeks, and I have not yet seen it at such a low price and I really really want it" category. Beef tenderloin is expensive. It is sold in large slabs (mine was about 3 pounds). I was going to wait for some sort of dinner party to make this baby, but I had a change of heart when I saw it for the right price at the grocery store.

My boss suggested Ina Garten's recipe a while back, and I have been meaning to make it since then. This delicious recipe comes with a creamy Gorgonzola sauce that I ended up using as a spread or a dip for everything that found its way onto my plate.

Tenderloin of Beef with Gorgonzola Sauce

(recipe by Ina Garten "The Barefoot Contessa" - serves 6)

whole Tenderloin of beef (2-3 pounds -- trimmed & tied
2 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Kosher salt
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 500F.
Place the beef on a baking sheet and pat the outside dry with a paper towel.
Spread the butter on with your hands. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for exactly 22 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium-rare starting with room temperature beef.
Remove the beef from the oven, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Remove the strings and slice the filet thickly.

Gorgonzola Sauce
4 C heavy cream
3-4 oz crumbled Gorgonzola
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp minced fresh parsley

Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then continue to boil rapidly for 45 to 50 minutes, until thickened like a white sauce, stirring occasionally.
Off the heat, add the Gorgonzola, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and parsley.
Whisk rapidly until the cheeses melt and serve warm. If you must reheat, warm the sauce over low heat until melted, then whisk vigorously until the sauce comes together.

This was quite a feast for just two, but I had a plan for this hunk of meat that will be a future post...Texas Chili 2 Ways (you will not want to miss that!).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fast Fish and Rice Pilaf (couple's cooking class pt 2)

Crisptity-Crunchy-Yum on the outside.

Flaky, tender, meaty on the inside.

It is Saturday morning, and what can I say? I need my weekend time more than ever right now. Work has been picking up lately which is great, but the weekend has got to be spent away from the computer! As a result, I am going to get straight to it...

This is the kind of thing that got me into seafood in the first place. This is a great light late-summer meal that will still leave you feeling satisfied. Paired with crisp asparagus and a rich rice pilaf, this rustic-style red snapper is an easy four-star meal for a weeknight dinner. Did I say easy?

This rich rice pilaf is another dish we picked up on at the couples' cooking class Zach took me to a couple months ago. It is nice because once you set up all the ingredients, you don't have to worry about it. You just transfer the pot to the oven to finish cooking, and it turns out beautifully and flavorful.

Rustic-Style Red Snapper

(makes 4 filets)

4 red snapper filets
1 egg
1 lemon
panko bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup)
1/8 c oil
salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Season fish filets with salt and pepper
Whisk the egg and add a little salt and pepper
Brush the egg over the top side of each filet.
Spread out the bread crumbs in a shallow dish.
Press the side of the fish filet that has been brushed with egg into the bread crumbs.
Place a large skillet over high heat, and add oil (swirl around to coat the pan)
Once the oil is piping hot, place the fish (bred-side down) into the skillet and do not move. - Make sure each filet has its own space; do not crowd.
After about 1 minute, move the skillet into the pre-heated oven and bake for about 10 minutes (10 minutes per inch of thickness of the filets).
Serve the fish bred-side up, and garnish fish with lemon slices.

Chef Eric's Rice Pilaf

(recipe from Chef Eric's Culinary Classroom - makes 4 to 6 servings)

2 tbsp minced shallot
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp butter or oil
1 C long grain white rice
1 3/4 hot stock (I used chicken stock)
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a heavy pot, heat butter and sweat the shallots and garlic (about 5 min on med-low heat)
Add the rice to the pot and stir until rice is coated with butter/garlic/shallot
Add the hot stock, and bring to a boil.
Cover the pot and transfer to the oven for 16-18 minutes or until rice in tender and liquid is absorbed.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Take it Easy

Life is tough.

Cooking doesn't have to be. Sure, creating my own dishes seems overwhelming as I sit here and watch an episode of "Top Chef." But the reality is, no one, not even these contestants or judges, eat the kind of food they make on the show when they get home from a long day at work each night. I think the bread and butter of cooking are quick weeknight meals...the kind of meal you can put together in a half hour from start to finish and still sit down and enjoy afterwards.

This recipe was born out of my inexperience and need for convenience during my first year in LA. My apartment did not have an oven or a stove so I really had to put some thought into how I was going to make my own meals. I had a single plug-in burner so I couldn't ever have 2 pots that needed to be on the stove at the same time. My oven was smaller than the size of a microwave so I constantly needed to figure out half of recipes I would follow so they could fit into my mini-casserole dish.

This recipe can be altered so many different ways. I used to leave the potato out when I was watching my carb-intake. You could substitute the potato for a sweet potato. You could add a jalepeno for some added heat. You could use italian sausage and throw in some oregano, tomato paste or sauce and fresh tomatoes to give it an italian twist. Leave out the potatoes and put it over rice. Chop everything up ahead of time to cut your cooking time in half! Zach and I found this great little spice store in Santa Monica so I experimented with seasoning this dish with some smoked chili powder and smoked seas salt. Sausage is so flavorful so as long as you give the vegetables a chance to marry with the rich flavors of the sausage, you really cannot go wrong. Enjoy!

Skillet Sausage and Veggie Hash

(serves 4)

1 Package fully cooked chicken sausage such (4 links in a package, 12 -14 oz total), sliced across into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large head of broccoli (cut into florets)
1 red bell pepper, cubed
3/4 lb potatoes, cubed
1 white onion, cubed
4-5 cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
sea salt (to taste)
Olive oil for sautéing
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

In a large pot, submerge potatoes in cold water and add a pinch of salt.
Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
Boil potatoes uncovered until just tender throughout (about 10 minutes).
Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

While potatoes are boiling, add 1 tbsp olive oil to a large skillet over med-high heat.
Add the sliced sausage to the skillet, and saute until slightly browned.
Remove sausage from skillet, and set aside.
Add another tbsp olive oil to the skillet with the juices from the sausage, saute the boiled potatoes until they start to brown slightly.
Add the onions to the potatoes and continue to saute until onions are almost tender (about 4 minutes)
Add the rest of the vegetables to the skillet and continue cooking over medium-high heat until just tender (about 8 minutes).
Add the sausage back into the skillet, and mix well with the vegetables.
Turn heat down to medium-low, add the smoked paprika and continue mixing sausage around with the vegetables, giving the flavors a chance to meld.
Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste, and serve in a big ole' bowl!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Brunch Club August: A Guest Blog by LeAnna

The brunch club was back and better than ever this month. I mean, look at us:

BreAnna did a fantastic job this month. They not only managed to host the biggest brunch club in brunch club history, they did it picnic style in their front yard area. With the city in the background, sitting under the shade of the tailgate tent with the canines and a plate of food was the perfect way to spend a lazy glutinous sunday afternoon.

Stanley meets Parker:

BreAnna always makes a ridiculous amount of food for their hungry guests. This is not me complaining by any means because every single thing is delicious. This month, LeAnna made a vegetable orzo dish that was of upmost satisfaction to this blogger. It was honestly the first time I had ever had the pasta-that-really-resembles-rice dish, and i was delightful mixed with some chunky veggies served cold brunch-style.

Some other notable dishes this week included LeAnna'a neighbor's chocolate chip cookies (her mother's recipe):

Sube's guiltily delicious berry berry good coffee cake was too good for words:

I made some siily-bad-for-you corn muffins stuffed with bbq pulled pork:

LeAnna was kind enough to write a guest blog for me after I offered my highest compliments to her veggie orzo. You will rarely see her without a smile on her face. She is always hospitable, even when she is not in her own home. She is the first to offer a helping hand to me in the kitchen when her and Brian come to my apartment for get-togethers. She is friendly, cheerful and a pleasure to be around. See for yourself will ya?

Hi! This is LeAnna. The Amazing Lindsey asked me to write a guest blog after hosting brunch, and I decided to go with it, despite having no idea how to write one. This should be fun for all of us!

So, a little back-story about me in regards to cooking: I'm half Sicilian and the other half is one of 26 grandchildren, from a mother who was 7 of 9, from a grandmother who was 13 of 13. I am genetically programmed to cook for LARGE groups of people. I can cook for one, two, or twenty--there is no middle ground. I do quite like cooking, but also being quite lazy, I don't very often. Thus, when I have a reason to cook (and REALLY cook, at that), I go ALL OUT. And now onto brunch…

For my (and Brian's) brunch I made/had:




Stuffed Mushrooms

“Water Should Never Not Taste Like This” Water

Vegetable Orzo

Brian's Breakfast Casserole

Caprese Salad


COFFEE (aka life blood)


Mimosas (because what's brunch without booze?!)

I'm not going to lie, even with all the above and knowing that people would be bringing other dishes, I was still worried that it wouldn't be enough food. It's a hereditary thing. I was INCREDIBLY wrong about that, by the way--seriously, does anyone want to come over for leftovers? Please?

Well, incase you're not a fan of going over to a stranger's house and eating her brunch leftovers, yet would still like to recreate some of this experience, I'll share 2 recipes with you. (I'll try to give you the smallest serving sizes possible--key word being try.)

“Water Should Never Not Taste Like This” Water

This is a recipe I was inspired to create after enjoying some uber fancy water at a tres chic spa. I find it especially refreshing on hot days.


2 gallons of water

2 lemons

2 oranges

1 cucumber


Wash produce like crazy!!! You will be leaving the skin and rinds on and putting them in the water. Nobody wants to drink pesticides, so wash those better than you would your newborn.

Slice off ends of lemons, oranges, and cucumber. Discard. Slice remaining fruit and cucumber into ¼- ½ circles.

Put in a pitcher with water. Chill. Or don't. Delicious either way.

Also, to recreate a spa experience on a penny buster budget, grab the biggest glass you can find, pour in this water, throw on a towel, and sit in your parked car with the windows rolled up on a hot summer day.

“Vegetable Orzo”

This is a variation of a recipe I grew up with. It's fairly healthy because the orzo is marinated with the juices of the vegetables rather than a heavy sauce. It's vegan (I think).


Orzo pasta

1 green zucchini

1 yellow squash

2 tomatoes

Shitake mushrooms (I normally put in 6, but it really depends on how much you like Shitake)

Small bunch of asparagus

Olive oil


Thoroughly wash produce.

Slice zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. Dice tomatoes. Chop asparagus.

Boil water and cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain.

Add about a capful of olive oil into a skillet over medium heat and add mushrooms and asparagus. Cover. Occasionally stir.

When mushrooms first start to wilt (about 3-4 minutes) add zucchini and squash. Cover. Occasionally stir.

When zucchini and squash are wilted (about 10-15 minutes) add tomatoes. Stir. Cover.

Quickly allow the tomatoes to heat (about 2 minutes), then stir and remove from heat. Dump vegetables, along with their juices into your drained orzo and serve (or put in the fridge for later--can be eaten hot or cold).
And that's how you make that!

I hope you guys like these recipes. Yay Lindsey's blog readers!!!

Thanks for having me!

Happy Eating,


If you are wondering about my brunch recipe. Don't. I cannot even express how easy it is. It is simply Jiffy corn muffin mix and BBQ pulled pork. You can buy the pulled pork or make it yourself. I bought it. You just put some corn mix (prepare as directed on box) i the bottom of greased muffin tins, then put about 1 tbsp of pulled pork on top of it, and then top it with more muffin mix. The muffin mix will engulf the pork. For something a little more palatable for vegetarians or, well, health concious folks, you can use anything to stuff the corn muffins...ground beef, blue cheese crumbles, black beans, baked beans... just stick anything you want in there!