Change of address

Sorry for the delay in posts!  During this extended break I’ve created my own domain!

I hope you continue to follow me at seat-at-the-table.com for more tasty recipes!

Favorite Winter Recipes

It’s officially the first day of winter…ironic since it’s about 70 degrees in DC today.  Can you believe how fast time is flying by?  I can’t believe it’s almost the end of 2013!  I still find myself almost writing 2012 when I write the date.  Well I’m sure everyone is busy this holiday season, so I’ll get straight to the point.  Despite the unseasonably warm weather here, this is a round-up of some of my favorite winter recipes.  I hope you find something new to try this winter.

For something warm and hearty:Favorite Winter Recipes (A Seat at the Table)

Banana Leaf Vegetable Curry (vegetarian)

Black Bean Burgers with Corn (vegetarian)

Ham and Green Bean Soup

Marsala Pork with Mushrooms

Moroccan Chicken with Couscous

Mushroom Artichoke Soup (vegetarian)

Santiago Bean Dip (great for serving with baked potatoes, vegetarian)

Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding (vegetarian)

Slow Cooker Wonderful Beef Pot Roast

Spanakopita Quinoa (vegetarian)

Turkey Meatballs

If you want something heathy and light:

Black Bean, Quinoa, and Citrus Salad

Carrot-Ginger Soup (vegetarian)

Cranberry Orange Relish (great on sandwiches!)

Crustless Spinach and Feta Pie

Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato Quinoa Cups

Ginger-Sesame Baked Tilapia

Holy Trinity Salmon Cakes

Little Fish Cakes

Roasted Green Bean, Mushroom and Barley Salad (vegan)

Salmon Cake Salad Nicoise

If you want to enjoy some baking:

Carrot Herb Rolls

Cranberry Pear Crumble (vegan)

Cranberry Snacking Cake

Cranberry Upside Down Pumpkin Cake

French Boule

Grapefruit Bundt Cake

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Mixed Berry Trifle (this is more assembly than baking, so anyone can do it)

Pumpkin Poppers

Raspberry Chocolate Pecan Rugelach

Salted Nut Chews (aka Lauren’s Christmas Cookie)

Holiday Gift Guide for the Kitchen

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving full of good food, family and friends!

Now that my favorite holiday has passed we can turn our attention to the next one that is rapidly approaching….Christmas!  If you have a special someone who’s into cooking, or trying to get more into cooking, then read on for my favorite kitchen tools and gadgets!  These are some of my favorite products that I use all the time and would definitely recommend having in any kitchen.

I’m assuming most people will have the basics:Holiday Gift Guide for the Kitchen (A Seat at the Table)

Mixing bowls that can double as serving bowls if needed.  Nested, multiple sizes, and light enough that they’re easy to hold when full, are my requirements.  I also usually avoid metal ones because they transfer heat too easily.

Measuring spoons and cups, I like these since their funky shapes fit into containers better than just regular round ones.

Good knives:  Chef’s knife and a pairing knife.  These are the two knives I use for everything.  Well and a serrated knife for bread.  Everything else I do in the kitchen can be done with a good chef’s knife and a good pairing knife.  I got both of these as gifts and they’ve been absolutely amazing (thanks, Chris!).  I get that it’s an investment, but you’re going to be using them pretty much everyday, so get good ones.  I wouldn’t bother with a whole block set because you don’t need that many different kinds.  You also MUST keep them sharp!  There’s nothing worse than a dull knife.  If your knives can’t easily cut through the skin of a tomato, and it squishes the tomato instead, your knives are not sharp enough.  I’ll do a feature soon on how to sharpen your own knives, but until then, call your local hardware store and ask if they do it in store or if they have a recommendation for someone who does.  It’ll make all your cooking so much easier!

Some other suggestions for tools that I love in my kitchen:

Onion goggles.  I got these last year for Christmas and I have to confess that they have been life changing.  If you’re an onion crier like me, you’ll be saved with these goggles.  You might not look the coolest, but at least your eyes won’t be burning and you won’t be sobbing into your onions either.  Get them.  Get an extra pair for guests.  Give them to everyone you know.  They’re fantastic and I haven’t shed a tear over onions, shallots, or scallions ever since I got mine.

To keep your knives handy, I recommend a magnetic knife rack, just make sure you think about where you’ll hang it before you get it.  It needs to be handy, but out of the way.

Cookie scoop.  If you bake cookies even once a month, I’d recommend these cookie scoops.  I like having a 2oz and a 4oz.  The 2oz scoop is perfect for scooping cookie dough.  Make your dough, scoop all of it into dough balls, freeze and store in freezer bags, it’s the perfect way to have fresh-baked cookies on hand whenever you want.

Cupcake carrier.  If you like to bake for others this carrier is the perfect way of transporting your baked goods.  There are individual cupcake spots, as well as just a flat surface for things like cookies, brownies or bars.  The tray has handles that makes getting your baked goods out of the box easy, and the handles are reversible so you can have two layers.

Microplane.  A microplane is great for zesting and grating.  It’s perfect for citrus zest, easy to grate garlic, and great for grating fresh nutmeg.  It might seem like an unnecessary piece of equipment, but if you’re getting into cooking you’ll definitely be needing it sooner or later.

Pastry brush.  Ok, this isn’t something I use frequently, but whenever you need to “brush” something, an egg wash or what not, this is the perfect tool.  This is definitely a tool for bakers, but can be used to glaze meats or tofu too.

Bigger items:

Griddle or super-size (this is what I have).  If you’re a pancake lover, or want to pretend you’re a short-order cook at home on the weekends, a griddle is just what you need.  I never make pancakes on anything else, since it’s so convenient to have the griddle next to you at the table ready to serve hot pancakes immediately.  It’s also great for bacon, eggs, french toast, grilled cheese, grilled peanut butter sandwiches…  It’s not something I use all the time, but is definitely convenient if you like to serve brunch.

Immersion Blender.  This isn’t the exact model I have, but they seem to have discontinued it.  An immersion blender is great for pureed soups.  I love the whisk attachment, it’s much faster than my handheld electric mixer for beating egg whites or whipped cream.  It’s quiet, easy to use, clean and store.  I haven’t used it for smoothies, but I assume it’d work pretty well.  This price tag is kind of steep, so I’d wait for a sale; but if you’re interested in soups, dressings or an excellent whisk, an immersion blender is a handy tool.

Dutch Oven.  These pots are great.  They’re wonderful for slow cooking meats, they can go from stove to oven, they can be used just as a plain pot too.  They’re also ridiculously heavy, so you  can get your workout done in the kitchen too!  Got to love a multipurpose tool!  Le Creuset is the most well-known, I think the one I use is actually a Martha Stewart brand from Macy’s and about 1/2 the price.  It’s an investment, but definitely something you’ll enjoy using, and is built to last.

Stand Mixer.  This is for the serious bakers out there.  I got mine last year for Christmas and I love it.  It’s definitely not essential and I could do pretty much everything with a handheld electric mixer, but if you bake a lot you’ll definitely appreciate the hands-free nature.  This is also great for making bread, since it has a dough hook and you don’t have to knead by hand.

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets and tools?  Anything you’ve started using recently and don’t know how you lived without for so long?

**I’m not being compensated for any of these recommendations, they’re just products I use and like (or are similar to products I use).  All opinions are my own.

Carroll Cafe

If you happen to be in the DC area this Friday, October 11, and are looking for something to do, come check out Carroll Cafe.  I’ll be there selling some baked goods!

There will be:

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Fall Harvest Cookies

Caramel Apple Cookies

Cinnamon Sugar Zucchini Cake

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

 

It’s supposed to be a great Blues concert, so come grab a sweet and enjoy the music!

Favorite Fall Recipes

Sorry for the long hiatus, it’s been a crazy month!  The kitchen is mostly finished (painting is being done this week), but everything is in working order.  But everything’s been moved around so it’s going to take a while to get used to all the changes!  I’m also taking a nutrition class and studying to become a personal trainer, as well as working part time.  So I’m feeling a bit busy trying to find balance!  To that regard I’m going to try reducing the number of posts to try and find some extra time for cooking, studying, and maybe just a bit of a social life.  Hopefully you’ll stick around for more recipes, and if you’re interested, maybe some tips and tricks of the trade as well!

But first a fall recipe roundup!  Ok, this is totally late for the official start of fall, but since it’s October (say, what?!) and doesn’t feel like fall at all (what’s up with the 80s DC?), we’ll just consider this part of the confused season.  So here’s my list of favorite fall recipes that I’ve made over the past year.

What are you cooking this season??

Moist Pumpkin Spice MuffinsFall Recipe Roundup (A Seat at the Table)

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

Hearty Spiced Oatcakes

Morning Glory Muffins

Chickpea Casserole

Veggie Chili

Black Bean Pumpkin Patties with Raw Kale Salad

Moroccan Chickpea, Squash and Sweet Potato Tagine

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

Roasted Vegetable and White Bean Soup

Spicy Vegetable and Bean Soup

Turkey and Dumpling Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Mennonite Borscht

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Asian Cabbage Salad

Rosemary Chicken Salad

Curried Couscous Salad

Sesame Kale

Raw Kale and Tofu Salad with Citrus Dressing

Zucchini and Basil Lasagna

One Pot, Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Maple-Mustard Glazed Salmon

Mini Turkey Meatloaf

Beef Stroganoff

Foil Pork and Apple Packets

Apple Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

Thai Turkey Sliders with Cabbage Slaw

Burmese Spiced Yogurt Chicken

Honey Raisin Bread

Butternut Squash and Feta Muffins

Pumpkin Walnut Bread (vegan)

Homemade Applesauce

Banana Muffin Top Cookies

Tres Leches Cake

Chocolate Decadence Cake Bars

Pumpkin Bars

Kate’s Carrot Cake

Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodles

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars

Rich Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Chocolate Chip Blondies

Apple Crumble (vegan)

Black and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Recipe inspiration

Let’s talk about recipe inspiration.  I love watching cooking shows, browsing food magazines, following blogs, and browsing Pinterest.  These are all great ways that I find recipes.  The only problem is finding a way to keep track of all the recipes I want to try!  Pinterest is a great way to visually keep track of recipes.  You can follow me here.  Also, check out the recipe inspiration tab to see the blogs I follow regularly for recipe inspiration, they’ll make your mouth water.

Recipe Organization (A Seat at the Table)Now, for magazines that’s where the real organization comes in.  We get a couple of food specific magazines, like Taste of Home, or my favorite, Cooking Light.  To keep track of the recipes from magazines, we’ve started to rip out the pages, put them in slipcovers and organize them in binders.  When I cook one of those recipes, I make sure to add a little post-it note with the date I made it, and how it turned out.  If a recipe was a complete flop, it gets tossed.  Keeping these organized can be a little challenging, but so far we’ve been organizing them by appetizers/drinks/sides, soups/salads/breads, main dishes (meat), vegetarian/fish, and desserts.  Another idea (especially if you don’t have a ton of collected recipes), would be to have a binder of things you want to try, and a binder of things you’ve tried and like.  That way you’ll have a complete book full of tested recipes you know you like.

What are your tips for recipe organization?

I’ve returned

My lovely beach vacation has ended.  It was a great trip!  I made some fast easy meals, so I’ll have some updates coming.  Beach Clouds (A Seat at the Table)

I also read a fantastic food related book, Foodist.  It’s a great book talking about how to create a “healthstyle” that works for you.  It’s written by the blogger of Summer Tomato, Darya Pino Rose, Ph.D., who has a great, engaging, and thought-provoking writing style.  The book has tons of personality, some awesome recipes I’m eager to try, great tips on how to create habits that will help you lose weight/maintain your healthy living style.   I loved her approach to fresh, seasonal foods and thought the whole book was a fun and motivating guide to making good choices (in a completely non-preachy way).

If you’re at all interested in healthy eating, and feel like you need some inspiration, I’d highly recommend this book.Beach Dunes (A Seat at the Table)

Vacation!

Happy Birthday, Dad and Grampy!!

If you want to check out how we’ll be celebrating please see the fabulous, legendary German Chocolate Cake recipe.  This is my dad’s birthday tradition, and I’ve taken over making it since my mom’s been doing it for the past 30-some odd years.  I’ll be making it even more epically at a beach house this year!

Which leads me to say, I’m on vacation, so posts will be a bit more scattered and may have some new/different content for then next week or so.  Hope you’ll stick with me and we’ll be back to our regular programming soon.

How to Cut an Avocado (without cutting yourself)

So it’s recently come to my attention that cutting avocado can be a dangerous past-time.  In the past month I’ve heard two stories from friends of friends about ending up in the ER due to failed avocado cutting.  Avocado is delicious and full of those healthy fats, potassium, folic acid and various vitamins.  So in case fear of cutting yourself is keeping you from tasty avocados, here’s my step by step for how to cut into this tricky fruit.

First step is picking a ripe avocado.  This is always a little tricky.  The key is to find one that’s soft but not bruised.  This can be challenging in a grocery store where it seems like they’re usually rock hard or way too squishy.  You want an avocado that gives a little, kind of like picking a ripe peach.   I tend to try to buy avocados a couple days before I need to use them and let them ripen on the counter.  If you’re in a rush you can try ripening them in a brown paper bag (like with pears), this should help them ripen faster.

Cutting an Avocado 1 (A Seat at the Table)
Ok, now that you’re ready to eat your avocado, you’re going to use a sharp knife and cut the avocado in half length-wise.  You’ll just cut around the big seed.  Once you’ve cut all the way around the pit, use a twisting motion with your hands to separate the two halves.

Cutting an Avocado 2 (A Seat at the Table)

The pit will be on one half.  To remove the pit, carefully use the sharp part of your knife to thwack (technical term) the pit.  This should lodge the knife into the pit, at which point you can twist the knife to pull the pit out of the avocado.  Carefully, pull the avocado pit off of your knife.  If the knife didn’t stick the first time, try thwacking again.  Sound too dangerous?  Use a spoon to scoop the pit out; you’ll probably loose some avocado, but you always want to be safe.

Cutting an Avocado 3 (A Seat at the Table)

Now you can carefully dice the avocado while it’s still in the peel.  Be careful not to slice through the peel (you can use a butter knife).

Cutting an Avocado 4 (A Seat at the Table)

Finally, use a spoon to scoop out the diced avocado and enjoy!

Cutting an Avocado 5 (A Seat at the Table)

Let me know if you have any other how-to questions!

Southwest-Style Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

The idea for this dinner came from a craving for sweet potatoes, and thinking of the ingredients in a sweet potato hash.  After going berry picking at the farm this weekend, I had farm fresh sweet potatoes, jalapeno peppers, poblano peppers and zucchini.  The perfect ingredients for a southwest inspired mixture.  I add some black beans for protein, and this became a filling, delicious vegetarian meal.  The smooth sweetness from the potato contrasts nicely with the slightly spicy filling.  Another great option would be to omit the beans and add a poached or fried egg on top.  There are tons of options for what you could stuff a potato with, so I hope you’ll use this as inspiration to create a dish with whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Southwest-Style Stuffed Sweet PotatoesSouthwest-Style Stuffed Sweet Potato (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6-8

  • 6-8 sweet potatoes
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • salt, to taste
  • shredded cheese, to garnish
  • fresh parsley or cilantro, to garnish
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Pierce the potatoes several times with a sharp knife or fork.  Drizzle each potato with a little olive oil and then sprinkle with kosher salt, rubbing the potatoes until evenly coated.  Place potatoes on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 40-60 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add diced onion and sauté for a few minutes.  Add jalapeño and poblano peppers and continue to sauté for a few minutes.  Add in the diced zucchini and sauté until all the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown.  Add beans and spices, and heat through.

Once potatoes are fork tender, remove from oven and carefully slice down the center.  Pile on the filling then top with cheese, parsley and a dollop of sour cream.