My Camera Died…

I posted a bit about it over at Accidental Hedonist, but the real reason I’m so upset about it today has to do with the fact that I made something SUPER delicious today, and I couldn’t even take a picture.

I had been planning on making a Chicken and Sweet Potato Chili that I made for the first time around this time last year and absolutely loved. Sweet potatoes are my new obsession, and this time of year is perfect for big pots of steamy, tasty something. But alas, the stars were not aligned for chili today. Today is Sunday, which means that all French supermarkets (except for the super-expensive ones) are closed, and so Emese and I hit the market.

I absolutely love the market near our house, and I picked up some fig bread, a huge amount of eggs and some fruit. However, the sweet potatoes were much more expensive than they are at our local market, so we had to take a pass, and we’ll be having chili tomorrow.

As for dinner tonight, it was time to improvise. Sometimes, improvisation turns out fine, and sometimes, like tonight, it turns out amazing.

It wasn’t anything groundbreaking. I haven’t invented the new foam. But it was tasty, healthy and filling, and you can bet that the next time my dinner plans go awry, this will be first on my list.

So please don’t judge this post for not having a picture alongside it, as I myself have done so many times. Try this recipe out, and take your own pictures. It’s really worth it.

Asian-Style Noodles with Cabbage Slaw

For the noodles:

2 oz. whole wheat spaghetti

1 cup frozen broccoli

2 tbsp. chunky-style peanut butter

1 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. hot chili paste

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. sesame seeds

 

Cook the pasta in boiling water, adding the frozen broccoli for the last two minutes of cooking. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir, adding the pasta water as needed to thin the sauce.

 

For the cabbage slaw (this makes a lot more slaw than you will need for this recipe: I use about half as much slaw as I use pasta, but it’s mighty tasty on its own too):

1/2 head green cabbage, shredded

3 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp. white vinegar

2 tsp. chili paste

Toss ingredients to combine. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Adopt A Blogger

Hey folks! I’m back from Minnesota, and I have some exciting news: it’s time for Adopt-A-Blogger, and I’ve adopted The Vegetarian Hausfrau, which is appropriate considering the fact that the roomie and I have decided that we have suddenly become “accidental vegetarians.” While we haven’t given up meat for any particular reason, neither of us ever makes it at home, and since as of tonight I have become the designated cook for both of us, not even meat ravioli will be entering the apartment. How lucky am I, then, to find a world of vegetarian recipes at such an amazing blog?

While Laura is not terribly new to the blogging world (she’s been around and posting since February), I know what it’s like to need a little bit of help, especially once you’ve started blogging and don’t really know if anyone’s reading or what to do with this baby blog that has suddenly become a monster, occupying all your thoughts.

I stopped by and took a look around Laura’s site, and I recommend that you do the same. Like so many of us when we were just starting out, Laura has so many things to say and not a lot of people to say them to. I loved perusing her recipes and reading her thoughts. Like me, she’s an expat in Europe, although she’s living in Germany (somewhere I’ve never been, but hope to go soon!)

Especially to any and all pregnant bloggers out there… head over pronto: Laura is pregnant and posts occasionally about what she’s eating to stay healthy while pregnant.

I hope that everyone from over here heads over to say hello and give a little bit of encouragement to Laura and to all the adopted bloggers in the Adopt-A-Blogger program. As for me? I’ll be back tomorrow with some interesting snacks from the Midwest. A little hint? They come from a chain called Culver’s…

Minnesota

I’m heading back to the States for a week–specifically, to Minnesota for my friend Angela’s wedding. I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting, but I’ll be back soon with tales of…

Yeah, to tell you the truth, I’m not too sure what they eat in Minnesota. I guess I’ll be finding out! Have a good week, and I’ll see you Tuesday.

Accidental Hedonist: Riz au Coca

I did some investigative cooking recently and attempted one of the recipes from the Mange Mon Geek episodes I posted over at Accidental Hedonist last week.

The results? Come check it out…

Savory Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I’ve never really understood why people feel the need to turn sweet potatoes into dessert. I get that they taste good with marshmallows and nutmeg every once in awhile, but carrots and pumpkin don’t seem to suffer the same fate all the time.

I love sweet potatoes. They’re an excellent source of vitamins, as well as beta carotene, which helps with eyesight and aids against lung cancer. I would love to have more of them in my diet, but I don’t have many recipes that include them (except for this awesome Sweet Potato Chili that I’ll start making again as soon as it gets cooler.)

I found a great sweet potato recipe at Green Lite Bites. Of course, I had to adapt it, and it’s no longer quite as “lite” (more cheese and olive oil instead of cooking spray), but it’s quite tasty, and I’m sure the healthy version is good too, if you like that sort of thing.
Savory Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (adapted from Green Lite Bites)

1 sweet potato
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion
salt
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 oz. gouda cheese
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork, and then bake until tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions in the olive oil with a little bit of salt. When the onions are very soft and brown, (after about 10 minutes), turn off the heat and add the curry and ginger.

When the potato is cooked, slice in half and remove the flesh from the skin. Add to the pan of onions, and stir to combine. Add the potato mixture back into the skins, and place the cheese on top. Put back in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the black pepper on top and serve.

New Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parmesan was one of my favorite dishes growing up, so when I saw this recipe for “new” chicken parmesan, I had to try it. However, I had one glitch: it was an oven dish, and all I had was a hot plate.

I did some quick thinking and came up with this variation. I’ve never tried the real thing, but mine was awfully tasty…

New Chicken Parmesan (adapted from Bon Appétit)

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
5 ripe tomatoes
Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper

2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
3/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided

salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and stir just until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have released their juices and the sauce has thickened somewhat.

Meanwhile, season the chicken in salt and pepper. When the sauce has cooked, remove it from the pan, add a bit more olive oil if necessary, and heat the pan over high heat. Sear the chicken on both sides. Add the sauce back to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook ten minutes, until the chicken is nearly cooked through. Top with parmesan cheese and re-cover. Cook until the cheese is melted, about five more minutes

Seriously Un-Gourmet

Just in case some of you out there think I make myself crazy meals every night… I decided to share a secret. I have a foodie vice: frozen veggies.

My freezer is absolutely stocked chock full of frozen vegetables. At any one time, I could have peas, green beans, spinach and broccoli, and roomie has just thrown frozen Brussels sprouts into the mix. Many evenings, when I’m too tired to do anything else, I grab anything green, toss it with pasta and add pesto sauce. Instant dinner. More often than not, I snack on frozen veggies on their own or topped with tons of black pepper.

And then, of course, it gets worse.

In high school, one of the ways I survived on dining hall food was to take raw broccoli from the salad bar, top it with orange grated cheese, and nuke it in the microwave. It was one of my favorite foods, and I ate it for more lunches and dinners than I care to admit.

In Paris, we don’t have grated orange cheese… we go one better: there is a French version of American cheese. They call it a cheddar-emmental mix, but I know better: it’s square, it’s shiny, and when it’s raw, it tastes like plastic. But when it’s melted over a bowl of frozen broccoli and topped with black pepper and a tiny bit of grated emmental (hey… it was in the fridge, and I don’t discriminate when it comes to melty, cheesy goodness)… it’s heaven. And it was my lunch twice this weekend.

So you see? No one’s perfect.

Pasta for the Indecisive

One blog that I read regularly is Two Fat Als. The blog is written by Alanna and Alex, and it documents their foodie journey now that they’ve moved to NYC. I love the recipes, because they’re simple, often good for you, and they appeal to a young crowd.

One recipe that I tried a few days ago especially hit home for me. Al and Al called it Pasta with Dueling Sauces, but I thought of it more as Pasta for the Indecisive… namely me. I can almost never decide what I want for dinner, and the scene in front of the fridge deciding between pasta sauces that Alanna outlined in her post is a familiar event in my kitchen.

I had purchased some gorgeous September tomatoes on the vine on sale at my local supermarket and was looking for ways to use them, so the second I read this recipe, I not only bookmarked it, but I moved it straight to my weekly menu (as opposed to the ever-growing list of things to try that only gets longer and longer. I believe I’m nearly at 25 pages now. How embarassing.)

I had to replace the ricotta with a somewhat similar French cheese known as fromage blanc. For those of you who have tried fromage blanc, you may not see the similarities: fromage blanc has a lot more in common with yogurt than with this Italian cheese, but after buying expensive ricotta one too many times here in Paris, I’ve realized that while fromage blanc lacks the curd-y texture of ricotta, it can often be used to serve the same purpose in recipes, namely adding an faintly cheesy flavor and the cooling quality of dairy.

Although I used a jarred pesto instead of the pesto recipe included, the pasta dish was genius. Instead of tossing it together as Al and Al did, I scooped sauce out to individual pieces of pasta (I used farfalle), relishing the separate flavors coming together on one fork.

The next day, I made a similar version, replacing part of the pasta with a combination of frozen peas and string beans that I just tossed into the pot of cooking pasta a few minutes before it was done. It’s a lot healthier and just as delicious!

For the original recipe, click the link above… and get on this dish before all the tomatoes are gone for the winter!

Baking… Cranberry Scones

Yesterday, I decided that today was baking day.

I haven’t baked in more than four months. It doesn’t seem that long… I nearly never bake in the summertime anyway, but yesterday we had one of our first tastes of fall weather here in Paris: a drizzle that lasted all day and turned the skies gray and dreary, and the first thing I thought of was pulling something hot and delicious out of the oven to share with Em, Alex, and anyone else who happened to drop by my apartment, which, as of late, is quite a few people.

But what to bake? I knew I wanted to try a new recipe: it’s been awhile since I checked something off my “to try” list, and that always makes me a bit anxious. But I also knew that I wanted something that would definitely work, something that wouldn’t leave me depressed at the end with a bitter (or burnt) taste in my mouth and mountains of wasted flour and sugar.

My first instinct when I get a craving like this is usually to make muffins or cupcakes. They’re easy, they’re permissible as both breakfast and dessert (so they get finished more quickly), and I have tons of recipes on my list of things to try. But my new roomie had something else in mind: scones.

I love scones, but I have never attempted to make one… I guess I was a little bit intimidated by what seemed like such a difficult thing to make. Now I have no idea what was stopping me: the recipe I tried from Foodie Farmgirl was one of the easiest baking recipes I have ever attempted. The dough came together in a flash, and the scones baked as I was making my pasta dinner (a new recipe that I’ll share tomorrow… so good!). The scones themselves were buttery without being greasy and quite tasty. The recipe says to split the dough in two and cut each dough into six pieces for twelve small scones, but instead, I made one circle of dough and cut it into eight medium scones: for me, this was just the right size for breakfast.

In the future, I may add a little bit more sugar, but mostly because, unlike many others, I don’t like to enjoy my scones with jam, but simply warm and plain with a bit of clotted cream, if it’s available.

Head over to get the recipe and try these scones out for yourself. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Accidental Hedonist: Mange Mon Geek

It’s Saturday, and you know what that means ’round these parts… time for a post over at Accidental Hedonist! This week I’m writing about an internet find called Mange Mon Geek… a French web-based cooking show for… well… geeks. It makes me giggle.

I wish I knew how to say giggle in French.