True to form, I’ve told you about dessert before dinner. What can I say, I was really excited about that key lime coconut cake! But the dinner definitely held up to the dessert that followed. We didn’t really have any plans for Easter dinner, but wanted something that was easy and celebrated spring. We had planned to make an asparagus and bacon quiche with a goat cheese and strawberry topped salad, but things took a turn when we got to the Whole Foods and saw that Vermont Smoke and Cure had a table set up with a bunch of different samples. We love their pepperoni but had never tried any of their other products. We both tried the ham, took one look at each other, nodded, and I picked out the smallest ham they had while Joseph returned the quiche ingredients that we no longer needed.
I hadn’t even known that ham was a classical Easter dish until about a week ago. I have no real memory of Easter dinner growing up. My Easter memories revolve entirely around the chocolate cake with green coconut grass and peeps that my mom made, and the absolute best Easter egg hunt you could imagine. Our good family friends had a cabin in the Shenandoah’s and we would all head out there for the weekend. After a hearty scrambled egg breakfast, we would venture out into the woods where the “Easter Bunny” (aka our fathers) had hidden eggs. As the youngest, Stanley and I would get a head start before our older sisters raced past us and got all the eggs in the higher branches.
The eggs were a mixture of hard boiled eggs that we had dyed the day before and plastic and metal (yeah, really old school) eggs filled with candy. After we scoured the woods for eggs, we would sit on the floor, decide who had won the biggest loot prize, and commence trading of candy for our favorites. Every year there was a “winner” of the special egg: a plastic egg with a carrot or piece of broccoli in it to the great delight of our mothers. We were considerably less amused. Continue reading
When we were little, my sister received this kid’s cookbook that we just loved. There are actually only three recipes I remember making from it, but we made them over and over again. There was the yummy, chunky apple sauce, these awesome cakes that you put in an ice cream cone and that looked like ice cream but weren’t (I pulled one out of my lunchbox at school one day to the utter amazement of my friends), and oven baked fried chicken. I loved that chicken. I’m not sure how much my sister and I actually helped, but the one thing I do remember doing is putting the cornflakes for the breading in a big ziplock and mashing it to pieces with a rolling pin. It was so much fun and I felt all grown up. And honestly, the bag and rolling pin is a useful trick I still use often (who wants to sit there chopping walnuts when you could just roll over them?).
Those of you have been following along know that I had knee surgery a little over a month ago and have been relying on Joseph for most of my meals. We also have a freezer full (well, only half full now) of amazing food my mother-in-law sent us home with right before my surgery. Joseph wins the best husband ever award in part because of how he waited on me hand and foot in the first couple weeks after my surgery and still does all the cooking and cleaning, in part because he drives me everywhere (including all my doctor’s and physical therapy appointments of which there are many) because I’m not allowed to drive for a few more weeks, but most especially because he made me this oven fried chicken last week.
I get so carried away sometimes with finding new recipes and cooking that I forget to actually blog about the things I cook! Case in point, I was on the phone with my sister yesterday and she said that as soon as I’m back on my feet she’d love to see a risotto recipe on Pixelated Crumb. As soon as she said it, I realized that we had in fact made one and had photographed it and everything, but I’d never actually gotten around to posting it. Which is a shame because it’s really good!
When I went back to find the photos, I found several other recipes that I haven’t posted yet. Recipes that are really, really good, but I just forgot that I hadn’t posted yet! The good news for all of you is that I’m laid up recovering from knee surgery, so I have plenty of time to revisit them, starting with the risotto.
Joseph and I have a handful of recipes that we always keep readily available for the weeks when we don’t have any groceries and don’t have time to sit down and actually plan before going to the store. They’re all mostly healthy, quick, easy, and good. We’ve had this fried rice recipe in our arsenal for a while. Well, not quite this recipe. We usually make this recipe vegetarian, using tofu instead of ham, and the pineapple is a new addition. But that’s the beauty of fried rice — it’s so versatile! It’s great because the key components of it are so easy to keep stocked in your kitchen and you can modify it based on what other stuff you have in your kitchen.
Like I said, up to this point we had always made the dish vegetarian. But we had recently made a Hawaiian pizza (more on that later). We had already decided that we were going to make the fried rice and Joseph remembered we still had pineapple and then I remembered that we still had ham. It was just meant to be.
Growing up in my family, the idea of eating duck was much like the idea of eating your pet. It’s not that we had ducks, but they were almost like a family mascot. My dad did an amazing Donald Duck impersonation which my sister and I requested about five times a day. As a reward, we showered him with Donald Duck figurines which sometimes included other duck paraphernalia. We also spent many weekends out on our sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay and, not knowing better, fed the ducks all the time. So I was always horrified by the idea of eating duck and swore I never would.
The first time I ever had duck was entirely accidental. I was at a work gala and I grabbed a quesadilla appetizer off of a passing tray and put it in my mouth before hearing what it was. I shocked. Horrified. Who puts duck in quesadillas? I felt like I had deeply betrayed my old friends from the Bay. I renewed my oath to never, ever eat duck (again) and went on my way. Until I started dating a Filipino guy. A Filipino guy who loves his duck.
I held strong to my no duck rule for quite a while. But after time my reason starting seeming more and more silly and Joseph, while entirely supportive of my choices, was also eager to open my eyes to one of his favorite foods. I finally broke down and (intentionally) ate duck at a food and wine festival in Orlando. I had a reached a point in my culinary life where I didn’t want to be restricted by my own inhibitions. Since the food was all there and being prepared whether or not I ate it, I went for it. And I had to admit that I liked it. I have since even gone so far as to order it at restaurants! Continue reading
I love condiments. I slather a ton of mustard on my burgers, I like lots of ketchup with my fries, but barbecue sauce has always been my favorite. When we were kids and my parents took us out for dinner, we almost always ordered chicken tenders. It worked out perfectly because they came with a little bowl of honey mustard sauce and a bowl of barbecue sauce and my sister, Jessica, and I would just do a trade so that I ended up with two barbecue sauces and she had two honey mustards.
Even as an adult Jessica stuck to her guns and every time I mentioned a place that did a great barbecue, she insisted that she really wasn’t into barbecue. She’s crazy. I mean, it can be done so many ways! And besides, how can you not love the sweet, smokey tang of good ol’ fashioned barbecue sauce? Continue reading
I was vegetarian for several years and ate enough veggie burgers to keep Gardenburger and Boca in business. Then, when I was eating poultry again, I went on a business trip to Atlanta and a coworker ordered a turkey burger. I was sort of shocked by the idea (turkey??), but since after about 10 years of nothing but veggie burgers, I was intrigued and ordered one as well. I loved it. My coworker told me about some good turkey burgers back in DC, but I kind of forgot about it by the time I got home. It wasn’t until I moved to Boston and starting ordering turkey burgers at Sunset Grill that I became completely hooked.
But with Joseph working full time on his PhD at Tufts, well, suffice it to say, we don’t eat out a whole lot. I was looking for healthy recipes and found this turkey burger recipe from the Mayo Clinic. Totally healthy! Even though Joseph was still vegetarian, he made me these turkey burgers for our first Super Bowl in Boston and several times since. Eventually he got tired of making these awesome burgers and having a veggie burger and he starting eating them too. He’s modified the recipe several times and this is the most current version. I’m sure that a month or two from now it’ll be different again. Continue reading
This is another one of those recipes that I fell in love with before I had even tried it, based solely on the ingredients. It’s got wine and lemon (two of my favorite things) and they’re accented by briny capers and artichoke hearts. The chicken gets pounded, making it extra tender and juicy. In fact, Joseph was doing such a good job pounding it that our landlady, who lives upstairs, called to make sure everything was ok.
We’ve made this chicken piccata before and I’ve always loved it, but I’ve never had as much fun making it as I did when we made it this past Sunday night. That ‘s because when our credit card cash back reward rolled in, we rolled out to Hunt’s Photo and Video and got my new love: the Canon 60mm macro.
We concluded our week of Rick Bayless recipes with the recipe that first introduced us to the genius of Rick Bayless: chipotle chilaquiles. I didn’t even know what chilaquiles were until we went to dinner with our friends, Christina and Adam, about a year ago. They made served us this spectacular green stuff unlike anything that I had ever had before that I just loved: chilaquiles. I begged for the recipe and Christina replied that it was ridiculously easy. You basically take a jar of salsa (they had used salsa verde) and cook it with some tortilla chips. It couldn’t be any easier and it was so tasty!
I googled chilaquiles when we got home and we decided that we could try making the sauce ourselves. We were already aware of and really liked Rick Bayless from Top Chef Masters and when I saw his recipe on foodandwine.com, I figured, hey why not? Little did I know the impact it would have. We loved it so much that we began to make it nearly weekly. Then we bought his cookbook, Everyday Mexican, and began cooking our way through it.
The next recipe in the lineup from our week-long celebration of Rick Bayless is a wonderful, creamy corn soup. In the recipe, Bayless says that you can use either chicken or ham and ham just seemed like an obvious choice to me. Of course chicken would work wonderfully, but I really liked the idea of some yummy, well-seasoned ham with the mellower corn flavor.
My favorite part of this soup, however, is not the ham, it’s the poblano chile. It gives the soup a lovely mild spice that hits at the back of your tongue. You roast the chile first, giving it a smoky kick. Spice-phobes need not be afraid – it has a very mild kick.