Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Best Thing I Ever Ate!

Last week, I made a trip to the Farmers Market and bought a ton of tomatoes and basil to make bruchetta. Well some times life gets a little crazy and there is no time for something "fancy". Plus I wanted my husband to be around for this creation.. I knew his palate would be pleased. Our schedules didn't match up this week.

This morning I decided that I would make bruchetta for lunch. The tomatoes and basil wouldn't last much longer and I wasn't sure how long the bread would be good. When I checked the bread.. it was sporting a few spots of blue. I found this to be slightly inconvenient since bread is one of the essential parts of bruchetta. WELL, in times like these.. it forces us to get a little creative.

Thankfully, the Food Network came to my rescue. One of the shows this morning was making grilled cheese with salsa. PERFECT! I checked my refrigerator and I had the makings for a perfect grilled cheese.. including Muenster cheese - a great suggestion from a friend and reader.

Bruchetta Grilled Cheese
- 4 to 5 small or medium tomatoes (I used red, orange and yellow. Great fall colors!)
- 1 TBSP fresh basil
- 1/4 cup minced sweet onion
- 2 small cloves of garlic.. or one large clove
- 1 TBSP Olive Oil
- 4 slices of Muenster cheese
- 4 slices of bread
- Butter (I used light)
- Salt & Pepper

I started by mixing the tomatoes, garlic, basil, onion and EVOO into a small bowl.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Over a medium heat, add the bread and cheese. To the top of the cheese..
add 2 heaping TBSP's of the bruchetta mixture. Add another piece of cheese over the mixture and then another piece of bread. The 2 pieces of cheese will act like a glue and hold everything in the sandwich.
Slice, serve, enjoy!

I paired this with Campbell's Broccoli and Cheese Soup.

Seriously.. one of the best things I ever ate. There is something extremely comforting about tomatoes and cheese on 2 slices of bread. I highly recommend this for lunch or dinner on a cool fall day.. it will bring you comfort and warmth. I hope you like it as much as I did.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We're in Tomato Season!

The end of summer marks the beginning of tomato season. It is the beginning of Bloody Mary Festivals all over the state... the beginning of basement canning sessions across America... the beginning of many meals full of the fresh tomato flavor... and the beginning of many episodes of acid reflux for some of the unlucky ones.

Tomatoes were on sale at the grocery store last week and I also happened to find some great deals of colorful tomatoes at the Downtown Appleton Farmer's Market as well. Last week I was planning to make bruschetta but, decided to go with something a little different to use up the over-stock of tomatoes in my refrigerator.

I started by making bruschetta and then altered the recipe about half way through. This is about how 40% of my recipes start. And it ended up rather fantastic.. I hope you like it.

Balsamic Bruschetta Tortellini
- 3 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 TBSP of balsamic vinegar
- 1 or 2 cloves of minced or grated garlic
- 2 or 3 small to medium size chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup of chopped scallions
- 1 box of tortellini (found in the pasta aisle.. not the dairy section)
- Salt and pepper

So I started by combining the EVOO and minced garlic into a serving bowl.  I whisked with a fork, added salt and pepper.  Then I refrigerated the mixture for 20 - 30 minutes.  While in the refrigerator.. boil the tortellini, drain and rinse with cold water.  Take the mixture out of the refrigerator and add the balsamic vinegar.  Whisk together.  In the same serving bowl, add scallions, tomatoes, and the tortellini. Combine and serve at room temp or chilled.

No need for additional herbs or spices.. let the tomato be the star in this dish!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Flavors Define Our Seasons - Chili

Our food can often define our seasons. When you smell a certain smell.. it can revive memories. When you taste a certain taste.. it can bring a feeling of comfort and love. And for me.. a nice big bowl of chili pairs perfectly with the fall season. Chili in the food dictionary should be right between Mango Salsa and Cranberry Turkey.

As a new wife, I haven't had the opportunity to make chili for my groom very often - just a couple times before we were married. But with the help of my Mom's cooking tips and random strangers in the grocery store.. I'd like to think that I pulled it off rather nicely. :)

Chili is one of those dishes that can be made in many different ways. Some people prefer it really spicy and some people prefer it without spice. Some eat it with noodles and some do not. It can be smooth or it can have texture. Since my husband does not enjoy spicy food, I always plan my recipes with the intent of being able to add more spice to my portion later on.

Mara's Turkey Chili
- 1 lb of ground meat (I used a mixture of lean beef and turkey.. I like the flavor and it's less fat than ALL beef)
- 15 oz can of kidney beans (drained)
- 15 oz can of chili beans (spicy or not)
- 28 oz can of chopped Italian tomato (any kind will do though.. I was going for smaller bites of tomato)
- 12 oz of tomato soup (as recommended by the nice lady in Aisle 3)
- 1 medium size chopped sweet onion
- 1 green pepper chopped
- 2 tsp of ground cumin
- 2 tbsp of medium chili powder
- 2 tbsp of Smoked Paprika
- 2 tsp of ground cinnamon (Mom says it will give it that "hmm" factor)
- 2 tsp of Chipotle Chili powder (Optional)
- 1 tbsp of Penzey's Arizona Dreaming spice (Optional: I haven't tried it yet but, I heard it's great for spicing it up)
- 1 box of Small Elbow Pasta (or whatever you might have in the pantry)
- Toppings: Scallions, Chedder or Colby Shredded Cheese, Sour Cream

Start by browning the meat in a skillet. When finished.. combine all the ingredients (other than the pasta or toppings) in no particular order into a large pot. Bring to a low simmer, reduce heat to medium low and cover. Stir occasionally. Cook for 45 minutes. Serve over noodles with something to dip in it (Pillsbury Grand Biscuits).

Before simmering for 45 minutes

After simmering for 45 minutes

My portion with toppings and a biscuit!

We could all use a hint of more time!
Copyright 2011 A Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tonight's Dinner - Featuring Peanut Butter

In college and when I was living on my own.. this recipe was an absolute favorite.  It was the perfect dinner for one person and could easily be doubled. My version of Thai rice has so many different variations... it can be spicy or sweet... it can have a lot of veggies or none at all.  That's one of the great things about cooking.. it doesn't have to be exact and substitutes of ingredients are acceptable (and yes, that was a dig at baking).

Right now, I do not have chili or sesame oil in my pantry but, I'd definitely recommend using it if you have it available. Also if you do not own a wok.. then a wide pan would be okay.

Spicy Peanut Thai Rice
- 1 cup of Jasmine Rice
- 1/2 of a medium chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped pea pods
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1 clove garlic minced or grated
- 1 chicken breast chopped (optional)
- 2 eggs (optional)
- 1 cup of celery or green pepper, chopped
- 3 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1/2 cup of peanut sauce (I will give tips and a recipe for this)
- 1 tbsp of sesame oil (optional)
- 4 drops of chili oil (optional - and depending how spicy you like it)
- 1 or 2 tsp of crushed red pepper (optional - and depending how spicy you like it)

Steam or cook the rice in a medium sauce pan. I do have a rice steamer and would recommend using that if you have one. If you are making this for more than 2 people.. increase the amount of rice by 1/2 cup for every 2 people - especially if this is used as the main course. When the rice is done steaming.. combine these ingredients into the wok (or large pan) - onion, garlic, pea pods, green pepper (or celery), rice and carrots. Add any seasoning to your preference (i.e. crushed red pepper, salt, pepper). Once all ingredients have cooked over high heat for 5 minutes.. reduce heat to medium-low. Part the rice or create a "hole" in the center. Add the eggs. Once the eggs are heated through.. turn the heat back to medium and add the soy sauce and/or peanut sauce. Heat for a couple more minutes and serve.

Depending on how much time you have and what ingredients you have.. I recommend 1 of the 3 options for the peanut sauce. 
- Kraft Asian Sesame Dressing
- Bangkok Peanut Sauce (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
... or ...
Combine 2 tbsp of peanut butter (melted), 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp of honey. Whisk together. 

Enjoy!! :)

Copyright 2010 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tribute to my Readers!

Well faithful readers... first I would like to thank you for sticking it out with me for the first month. I am absolutely shocked and amazed with the overwhelming response. I would also like to thank you for not only trying my crazy recipes but for also providing feedback on them. I've received several tips and definitely some positive contributions thus far. Keep cooking and I will keep the recipes coming!

You are certainly welcome to leave a comment on my blog.. and feel free to message me on facebook, Twitter (@MD2Core), or email.

I would love to hear how things are going in your kitchen. What have you tried that has worked well or not worked well? Are there recipes that you've always wanted to try but would like them simplified?

I do plan to branch out from my one-pot meals and attempt some more challenging recipes. Something that you, as my reader, should know is that... you are not likely to ever see a blog about baking. If there is something that I really don't do well.. it is baking, for sure.

My personality has never allowed me to do things "exact" or "properly". It's not a flaw, it's a fact. I once attempted a Tollhouse cookie recipe that tasted like salt in the end. Needless to say, baking and I were no longer acquainted after that. Baking is not one of my strong suits because I do not enjoy measuring things, following directions, or waiting. This also might give you some insight on my cooking style then.

Again.. I just want to say thank you for taking a few leaps with me. I am happy to know that you are reading, cooking and actually enjoying too.

Take care... God's blessings!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ode to a Fried Egg

Two years ago I sat down to dinner with a friend in Bay View, Wisconsin. It was surely a memorable meal.. and not just because of the company that evening. In Bay View there are many trendy, artsy places to dine. A few of my favorites were Cafe Lulu, Barnacle Bud's, and Cafe Centraal.

This particular evening, I found myself at Cafe Centraal enjoying their outdoor patio during a summer month and chatting with our wedding photographer (and friend). In addition to some delicious glasses of Chardonnay, I wanted to try something new on the menu. I ordered the Bay View Belt sandwich - which is essentially a fancy version of a BLT with garlic aioli and 2 fried eggs. It came with sweet potato fries with cajun spices. After thoroughly enjoying this delicatable creation.. I couldn't help but wonder this - why do we not eat fried eggs on more food items?

And so began my new found love for the fried egg. This is my ode to this fine "fried" food.

So last weekend.. I spread a small amount of butter on 2 sides of some white bread and toasted in a skillet. Then I fried an egg (very poorly, I might add). I started to build my sandwich with.. turkey meat, leafy greens, a fried egg (with salt and pepper), garlic mayo AND hot sauce. Yum!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Who craves capers?

I lived with my parents for about a year before Jon and I got married. One of my most favorite things was.. cooking with my Mom in the kitchen. We both share a passion for food and what's better than cooking with your Mom? She's a sweet lady. This first recipe is based on something that Mom and I perfected together.. but, I changed it up just a bit, of course.

Alright so this was our attempt at incorporating wine into our food. So if you do not drink.. no worries.. the alcohol gets cooked out when heated. 

Baked Tilapia with Chardonnay Sauce
- 6 to 8 Tilapia filets
- 2 TBSP of flour
- 2 TBSP of butter
- 1/2 cup of Chardonnay (and yes, use something that you would drink.. don't get a $3 bottle because it will not taste the same)
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 1/2 TBSP of capers
- Optional: 1/4 of a thinly sliced onion (Okay, secrets up.. I put a lot of onion into my cooking because I like the texture of it and it really does add a great flavor. Not an onion fan? That's okay.. leave it out.)
- 1/2 TBSP of Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper

Place the tilapia in a baking dish/pan and add the onions. Sprinkle with a small amount of olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 15 minutes at 425. In a small skillet.. combine the butter and flour. Cook until completely combined. Then add the chardonnay.. stir vigorously until completely combined (it's kind of like gravy.. you have to keep mixing it until thick). Add water if you do not want a strong wine flavor. Add the capers. Pour over the tilapia when finished baking.

Bleu Almond Green Beans
- 1 lb chopped green beans
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds (found in the baking aisle)
- 1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles
- 1/2 of a chopped sweet onion
- Salt and Pepper

Steam or poach the green beans for 3 - 5 minutes. Strain and shock with ice or cold water to keep the green color. Add the green beans to a large skillet with the onions. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the almonds and bleu cheese. Allow the bleu cheese to melt. Stir and serve.

Not a fan of bleu cheese? That's okay. You can also try it with gorgonzola OR feta cheese. Although, feta does not melt as nicely as the others.

Serve with a simple side or salad. Enjoy a glass of the chardonnay that you chose to use in the sauce. My husband loved this meal. He made a lot "Yum" noises; which is always a good sign.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Non-Tomato Sauce Pizza's

Although I am trying hard to branch out and explore new food creations... my love for pizza and pasta is undeniable. It really is fun for all in the kitchen when creating a new pasta or pizza recipe.

My sister and nephew came to visit a few weeks ago. My sister has been suffering from flavorless food, my prescription for it was 2 new pizza recipes. Megan and I usually go with our standard BLT Pizza recipe (which I can give you the recipe for that some day too if you want) but I wanted these ones to be different. Walking around the grocery store aisles.. I was quite honestly not sure what to incorporate into the second pizza. A little browsing and a little running around and we were set.

Don't get me wrong.. I enjoy a pepperoni pizza as much as the next. But, if you are a meat-only on a pizza kind of person.. then these recipes may not be for you.

Rosey's White Pizza
- Store bought pizza crust (Pilsbury or something)
- 1 clove grated garlic
- 2 TBSP of Olive Oil
- Half of a thinly sliced tomato
- 1 cup of roughly chopped spinach
- 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
- Thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese (This can be found in the dairy section - depending on the store. I'd recommend the kind that comes in water.)
- Salt and pepper

Place pizza dough on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. Combine the grated garlic and olive oil, then spread over the entire pizza dough. Toast the pine nuts until the have golden brown color and start to look oily. Distribute the other ingredients and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 425 for 10 to 12 minutes.

Pesto Artichoke Pizza
- 1 clove grated garlic (Optional)
- 2 TBSP of Olive Oil
- 1 Small Jar of Artichokes - Chopped (I have a thing against certain veggies in a can so if you'd rather by a can.. that's fine. It can be found by all the other canned foods)
- 2 TBSP of pesto (I think I found this by the Italian cooking items - i.e. spaghetti sauce)
- Half of a thinly sliced tomato
- Thinly sliced sweet onion
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 Chicken Breast - Chunked (Optional)
- Salt and Pepper

Place pizza dough on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. Spread the mixture of olive oil and garlic over the entire pizza dough (if this is too much garlic for you, it's okay to leave it off). Apply a thin layer of the pesto over the dough. Distribute the other ingredients evenly over the dough and spread a thin layer of mozzarella cheese over the top. I recommend a thin layer so that the cheese does not overtake the other ingredients. Bake at 425 for 9 to 12 minutes. 

The mixture and combination of all these flavors are just phenomenal. If you are allergic to tree nuts (included in the pesto) or do not like garlic.. it is perfectly fine to leave those out of the recipe. I did not use chicken on the pesto pizza but, that was my husband's suggestion to anyone that needs to have meat on their pizza. 

I hope that you enjoy these pizza's as much as we did. Have a great Labor Day Weekend, readers!