Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chipotle Rice Bowl - March 29, 2010

Chipotle Rice Bowl

Okay, this is the last of the Chipotle chicken. We had just a bit left and, in addition to a few other handfuls of this and that, we made up these bowls of goodness. The bowl contains leftover brown basmati rice, reheated pinto beans from the freezer, roast chipotle chicken, cilantro pesto, Mom's homemade salsa, and feta cheese to top. Stealing our inspiration from Korean rice bowls, we made a Mexican version. It was a great way to clean out the bits and bobs from all of our recent Mexican meals.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Roast Chipotle Chicken Tostadas - March 28, 2010

Roast Chipotle Chicken Tostadas

This is the second meal I made with that chipotle roast chicken. The idea was taken from the same Bon Appetit issue, but I didn't follow the recipe verbatim which is good since I can't find it on epicurious anyway. Instead I just piled a bunch of leftovers on top of some tortilla chips, including the chipotle chicken, roasted onions, refried beans, salsa, feta, cilantro, and avocado and then doused the whole thing in some fresh lime juice. It was a super quick and very tasty late lunch on Sunday, consumed while watching the basketball games on TV.
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Chipotle Chicken Tacos - March 27, 2010

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Saturday I roasted a chicken and made another batch of homemade flour tortillas for this dinner. The recipe caught my eye in April's Bon Appetit, due to it's liberal use of canned chipotles in adobo sauce, one of my new favorite ingredients. It was pretty tasty, and left us with enough chicken for a second meal, which I'll post tomorrow. I really love the homemade tortillas too. They are so simple and are always much fresher and softer than store bought. Once I get my hands on a tortilla press, I hope to try my hand at corn tortillas too.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Curry with Tofu and Peas - March 24, 2010

Indian Curry with Tofu and Peas

I found this recipe flipping through April's Bon Appetit last night, and happened to have everything I needed on hand, with some minor exceptions. I substituted tofu for the paneer, but prepared it the same way as described in the recipe. The only other change I made, aside from using frozen peas, was to omit the serrano chili since I didn't have one and I didn't want it to be that spicy anyway. This was quite delicious and much more flavorful than my last attempt at Indian.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wild Rice with Broccoli and Smoked Trout - March 23, 2010

Wild Rice with Pan Seared Broccoli, Sauteed Crimini Mushrooms, and Smoked Trout

We are still working through that wild rice from our weekend up north. It makes for such quick meal prep when it's already cooked. I made this meal up of components I dug out of the fridge without a real recipe, although I did 'borrow' ideas from other bowls of grain and veggies we've made over the last few months as I went along. I mixed the rice with a mustard vinaigrette composed of stone ground mustard, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and a minced garlic clove. I mixed in the broccoli and mushrooms and topped with some canned smoked trout. It was really tasty...both Nick and I had seconds so no leftovers remained to take up space in the fridge.

On a side note, I'm super excited that it stays light out long enough for me to photograph dinner! Since it's low-tech and low skill on the photography front around here, daylight helps immensely.
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High Fructose Corn Syrup Research

An interesting article about some Princeton research studying the effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup on lab rats. While I'm reserving any judgment at this point since I haven't read the actual research study and don't know the details of it's methods and statistical analysis, I am excited about the fact that this is being looked into from a scientific perspective by independent sources. Hopefully this leads to more research on the subject, and improvement in our understanding of it's complexities.

In the meantime, if like me, you are trying to limit your consumption of HFCS until our understanding of it is better, cooking food, especially the sweet treats, from scratch, at home, helps considerably. Alternatives to many standard products are also available on store shelves if one looks. Two of my favorite HFCS-free products are Whole Foods 365 brand tonic water and Blue Sky brand sodas.

Research article found via the Kitchn.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Link!

Hey Dinner Clubbers! I wanted to draw your attention to a new "Link We Like" over on the side bar. Halima, long time friend of Dinner Club, has just launched her own blog, Tuuli Orthopedic Physical Therapy, where she plans to post tips and tricks of the trade (the trade being orthopedic physical therapy) to help people get started on an exercise routine. The blog has a lot of specific tips to start running, an activity Halima knows well. For those of us in the Mid-West, it's the perfect time to start up some outdoor activities what with the snow being melted and the sun warming things up nicely. Also, after that doughnut post, I feel better telling you about something healthy.

Congratulations on the new blog, Halima!

Glazed Doughnuts - March 21, 2010

Homemade Glazed Doughnuts

Nick received a GranPappy deep fryer as a belated birthday gift from my parents this weekend and we put it immediately to work. There was a time not so long ago, Dinner Clubbers, when I would have recoiled at owning and using a deep fryer. Luckily I have moved past this aversion and I am quite excited to be able to concoct our own doughnuts, fry fish for tacos, and other things that I'm sure we'll discover on our deep fryer journey.

Yes, it's true!

Just like everything I make at home, I like having control of what goes in the preparation as well as in my mouth. It seems counter-intuitive that owning a deep fryer will make us healthier, and while that statement is indeed a stretch, I stand by the idea that homemade doughnuts are better for us than store-bought, if for no other reason than we know exactly what's in them.

For the GranPappy's maiden voyage, we opted for a basic raised, glazed doughnut recipe. While I prefer the cake variety of doughnuts, Nick is a sucker for the raised version, and since it was his birthday gift, we did his choice first. These turned out really well for our first attempt. I was put off a bit at first taste, as the yeast seemed to lend too much flavor (normally I love that yeasty flavor, but not so much in doughnuts, turns out). After they cooled a bit, however, the yeast settled down and they tasted better to me.

Just a word about the recipe. It claims to make 18 three inch doughnuts, so I cut it in half, thinking nine would be more than enough. Half the recipe actually turned out to make 15 doughnuts, plus lots and lots of doughnut holes. Next time I will cut it by half again so we have a more modest amount of doughnuts to consume. Lucky for us we had some help getting through this batch.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Refried Bean Tacos - March 19, 2010

Refried Beans with Cilantro Pesto, Salsa Lisa, and Feta on Homemade Flour Tortillas

After last week's revelation that I love canned chipotles in adobo sauce because they remind me of bacon, I decided to use said ingredients as often as possible this weekend. Friday night I made refried beans, adding adobo sauce to flavor, of course. This we piled on homemade flour tortillas (thanks to JJ for teaching me how to make 'em), along with leftover cilantro pesto, salsa, and feta. Yum!

Hot Wings

Saturday we made wings to munch on while watching March Madness (damn it, Badgers!). We did two flavors: our favorite from last time, sweet and sticky, which used hot pepper jelly, and a new one, maple-chipotle, which used chipotles in adobo. Both were excellent, but I give a slight edge to the maple-chipotle due to my new found infatuation.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

Adobo White Beans - March 18, 2010

Adobo White Beans with Cilantro Pesto

Thanks to the smoky adobo sauce, this smelled just like bacon when I pulled it out of the oven last night. I could stop my description there and you would already know how awesome this meal was. The recipe caught my eye on earlier searches and was filed away until I could pick up a few things at the co-op. These are some of the navy beans left over from the huge batch I cooked up for the cassoulet. I froze the extra and pulled them out yesterday afternoon to use for this in place of the corona beans. Feta was the cheese of choice because I could not find queso fresco, which is not to say it wasn't there, just if it was, I could not locate it. I will probably find it next time when I'm in a random aisle looking for something else and have no need for it. I speak from experience people. In hindsight, I'm glad I was forced to use the feta as it's saltiness added great flavor to the dish. The cilantro pesto, while an extra step, with accompanying extra dishes to wash, is a must in my opinion, even if you do have that gene that makes cilantro taste like soap. It adds a brightness that helps temper the heat of the adobo, without taking away any of the bacon-y characteristics. Mmmm...this is sure to be enjoyed often at our house.

Also, for those of you keeping tabs on the NCAA basketball tournament...YEAH BADGERS!
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wild Rice Potato Salad - March 17, 2010

Roasted Potato Salad over Wild Rice

This was our St. Patrick's Day meal. I'm not a big fan of corned beef, and while I love it, we didn't have any cabbage on hand. That left potatoes as the obvious and available choice for last night's theme. Also, we have a rather large container of left-over wild rice from our weekend up North and I wanted to incorporate some of that too. I found this recipe and decided it was a go. This meal was tasty, especially with the mustard vinaigrette. I ended up omitting the cream, parsnips and shallots as we didn't have any on the shelves. Yellow onions made a quick substitution for scallions. I made just enough for two, as the fridge can't really handle any more leftovers right now (still working on that cassoulet). I think I might throw the remaining wild rice in the freezer so I can pull it out for upcoming quick weeknight meals.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ski Weekend Crock Pot Cassoulet - March 15, 2010


I wanted to give you a bit more information on this cassoulet that I made for our Lutsen weekend. Nick is the resident cassoulet maker in this house. He usually likes to make a cassoulet at least once per winter. This year we hadn't made one yet, but a winter weekend up North, planned with friends, seemed like the perfect opportunity to remedy this.

Since we all had various outdoor activities planned and no one wanted to hang out in the rental kitchen all day, we decided it needed to be a crock pot version. This is the recipe I used, found via A Good Appetite. Nick's expectations were low, as he's a bit of a cassoulet purist. He was, however, quite pleased with the outcome, as was I.

I bought my meat at Clancey's and ended up using their house made fennel pollen sausage, (I boiled it a couple of days before so it was cooked through) which was delicious in this recipe. I also used navy beans instead of Great Northern, and they worked out great. I skipped the broiling step and instead Nick made up some toasted bruschetta which we served on the side. I made the full recipe, using two crock pots, for 8 people, who had spent the better part of the day working up big appetites hiking and skiing, and we still have a significant amount left over. In fact, we've had it the last two nights and we have plenty for another meal or two. Not that I'm complaining.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Lutsen Weekend - March 12 - 14, 2010

Highlights from our Lutsen Weekend

Nick and I are back from a weekend up north where we managed to eek out some last use of this season's snow. In addition to outdoor activities, we managed to partake in some excellent eating and drinking. Highlights include a stop in Castle Danger for a slice of pie to celebrate pi day (3.14); the spread at what we affectionately referred to as 'Gout Night'; some lovely late winter foliage; cassoulet (more on this later); an outstanding bloody Mary in Grand Marais; and a big chunk of Sunday's breakfast.

It was a fun and delicious weekend!
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Pasta with Mushroom Ragu - March 11, 2010

Whole Wheat Pasta with Crimini Ragu and Hard Boiled Egg

I'm sorry this isn't a dessert, but since we had a mid-week treat, I'm behind one meal and wanted to post it. Also, I didn't make any new desserts this week. Last night I made up one of our favorite mushroom preparations...sauteed with onions, butter, thyme, and sherry...and used it as a pasta sauce topped with parmesan, parsley, and a hard boiled egg. It was fantastic, but it's hard to go wrong with sherry, butter and mushrooms.

Happy Weekend!
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pan Seared Beans and Kale - March 9, 2010

Pan-Seared Navy Beans with Kale, Walnuts and Pecorino

I cooked up nearly three pounds of dried navy beans this week for an upcoming weekend project (stay tuned). Yes, you read right...3 lbs. Needless to say, I had a few extra (though not as much as you might expect) beans around and decided to incorporate some into one of our weeknight dinners. One of my favorite food blogs had a recent bean recipe posted and it sounded perfect. It was pretty darn close. I switched the bean variety, but other than that stayed true to the instructions. Pan-frying the beans was a new technique to me, but I have a feeling I will be doing this often in the future. It added a nice crispy texture and a more complex flavor than my more familiar bean prepping methods.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Manuka Amber with Blood Orange Inclusion - March 10, 2010

The Manuka Amber with Blood Orange Inclusion, a.k.a. The RimZim

Today is another Dinner Club birthday and reason to celebrate. Happy Birthday Rima! In honor of this special occasion, last night, Nick and I concocted what we consider to be a suitable birthday cocktail. While I would love nothing more than to drink this with Rima in person, a virtual cocktail will have to suffice...for now.


1 dash of Angostura bitters
1/4 cup 42 Below Manuka Honey Infused Vodka*
1/4 cup ginger infused simple syrup

Put first three ingredients in a high ball glass. Place a blood orange slice in glass. Fill with crushed ice and top with soda water and stir.

For the syrup, simply dissolve 2 cups sugar in 2 cups water. Add a 2 inch piece of peeled and chopped fresh ginger. Boil for 5 minutes and take off heat. Let steep, covered for one hour. Strain out ginger and set aside to use as candied ginger.

*42 Below Manuka Honey Vodka is difficult to come by in the U.S. We brought ours home from New Zealand when we went to visit Rima. I've seen the unflavored version in liquor stores here in Minneapolis, but I've yet to see all the fun infusions, including kiwi, feijoa, passionfruit and, of course, the honey. In the very likely case you don't have any, try substituting ginger infused vodka and sweeten with a honey (preferably manuka, if you can find it) simple syrup, omitting the ginger syrup, to get the same flavor profile.

With a cheeky nod to Lithuania and a clear reference to happy times together in NZ, we thought this to be a nice signature drink for you, Rima. Also, in addition to having a lovely sweetness about it, it's a little spicy and quite strong, especially as you get down towards the bottom. Cheers to a the start of a great year!

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Fried Rice - March 8, 2010

Fried Brown Basmati with Broccoli, Tofu, Peas and Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Last night was a not-so-successful use of Nick's new wok. To be clear, the wok itself was great...nicely seasoned, incredibly hot, easy to clean after dinner. The problem was that I didn't plan ahead so we would have cooked rice that was thoroughly chilled. Instead I cooked it right before needing to throw it into the hot wok with the other ingredients and things ended up a little clumpy. But, all was not lost. It still tasted good, especially those black trumpet mushrooms, and it kept our bellies happy and full last evening. And, I learned a valuable lesson for the next time we attempt fried rice...cook the rice several hours, if not days, ahead of time. Plus, maybe a thorough rinsing pre-boil to remove some of that surface starch would help as well.
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Monday, March 08, 2010

Birthday Weekend - March 5 - 7, 2010

Spice Rubbed Ribs with Apricot Glaze and Mashed Potatoes

We actually went out to dinner for Nick's birthday, but the ribs were a request for a birthday weekend dinner at home. We hadn't made these in awhile and they always turn out to be so delicious, unlike our attempts at beef short ribs. We made a simple mashed potato accompaniment and paired the meal with our current favorite beer, Ommegang's Three Philosophers, a smokey, caramel-y, quadruppel style ale infused with cherries.

Birthday Weekend Highlights

Birthday highlights include: a freshly seasoned wok; a vintage food and meat chopper for homemade sausage; a vintage Maryland Seafood cookbook, probably printed during the time Nick lived there, and containing recipes for such crowd favorites as 'Crab Imperial'; Wisconsin treats from Greg, JJ, Sol, and Poppy, including super yummy Alterra coffee out of Milwaukee; Hawaiian treats from Kate and Scott, for tropical drink making; and a birthday weekend breakfast of Trader Joe's chocolate croissants and espresso.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake - March 5, 2010

Blood Orange Polenta Upside Down Cake

It's a special day here at Dinner Club. Happy Birthday Nick! Nick leads off the Dinner Club Birthdays for 2010, with a quick succession occurring throughout the Spring and Summer and then, of course, Anna anchors things in November. While I don't technically bake birthday cakes anymore (thank you Patrick's), I did decide to make this cake for the Friday dessert and it conveniently correlates with a birthday. It's what I like to call a win-win.

Cake Collage

Speaking of wins, have you checked out this cake? The recipe is from the March issue of Bon Appetit and can be found online here. I would highly recommend you make one while the citrus season is in full swing. I had my doubts about what things would look like once I flipped that skillet, as I don't have a good track record with these sorts of things. But, to my delight, it came out looking absolutely beautiful, with not an orange out of place. I couldn't help myself from taking picture after picture. So feast your eyes friends. It also tastes divine. I think it would be delicious in a Meyer lemon/rosemary version too.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wild Rice Breakfast Cereal - March 3, 2010

Wild Rice and Mixed Grain Cereal with Currants and Figs

This is a breakfast that I have been enjoying all week. The recipe came from my wild rice search and sounded too good to pass up, even though it wasn't dinner. I modified this recipe, substituting currants and dried figs for raisins and dates. I really wish we would have had dates on hand, because I cannot even imagine how good this would be with them. The figs made for a good alternative in a pinch, although the ones I had weren't as sweet or juicy as dates. I also cooked this in a crock pot because I was using my oven for some other task. The crock pot took longer, but I think the end product turned out quite delicious. This made a large quantity, but it's easy to keep in the refrigerator and reheat for a super satisfying breakfast complete with a dollop of fresh, homemade yogurt. It's fun to mix up some whole grains once in awhile, just in case oatmeal is starting to get boring.
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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Skillet "Pizza" - March 2, 2010

Tortilla Pizza with White Bean Hummus, Sauteed Fennel and Caramelized Onions

Last night was one of those nights where plans fell through and dinner needed to be made last minute and on the fly. In the fridge I had a small container of leftover cooked cannellini beans, half a head of fennel, and flour tortillas.

Just to be clear, that's not all that was in my fridge, just the pertinent contents.

I scoured the internet and my cookbooks for inspiration and finally saw a recipe for a white bean hummus pizza in my Cooking Light cookbook. While I didn't have time to make the dough, the tortilla worked in a pinch. I also didn't have the ingredients for the toppings, so onions and fennel, with a dusting of parmesan cheese, did the trick. It was quite tasty, and perfect for one. Unfortunately, we are two, so we had to grab a few other previously blogged leftovers to make up the difference.

Skillet Pizza in Context

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Wild Rice with Smoked Trout and Spinach - March 1, 2010

Wild Rice with Smoked Trout and Spinach

A little while back I was inspired by wild rice and did a quick recipe search for some ideas incorporating it. Last night's meal was based on this recipe. I used spinach instead of snap peas since we didn't have the latter. I also omitted the dill and scallions for the same reason. This was really tasty, I think especially due to the tangy mustard vinaigrette. The original, un-modified recipe would be a great dish for Easter dinners, what with the hard boiled eggs and the spring peas.

*Also, on a side note, for those of you wondering the results of the frozen deep dish pizza dough test, it worked like a charm. I followed Cook's Illustrated's advice and let the dough fully rise before freezing it. To thaw, I placed it in the refrigerator overnight and pulled it out to the counter 2 hours before rolling it out. I couldn't tell any difference between the fresh and the frozen. That was Friday/Sunday's dinner.
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Monday, March 01, 2010

Madison - Feb 26 - 28, 2010

View of Madison from Gov. Nelson State Park

Nick and I are fresh back from a winter visit to our favorite college town. We were hosted by the lovely family of Greg, JJ, Sol, and Poppy and enjoyed some seriously fun adventures.

Weekend Highlights

Highlights include: A family ski and snowshoe outing; Poppy's choice of winter footwear; the Fry Daddy; rolling out homemade tortillas; cooking them up on the heirloom cast iron skillet; delicious fish tacos with Mexican rice and refried beans.

It was a rejuvenating weekend full of good food, winter fun, and catching up with people we love. Thanks to our hosts!
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