Friday, July 29, 2011

My Favorite Recipe Sites

I'm doing a guest post today over at Midwestern Moms, but I thought I'd share it with my readers as well! Midwestern Moms hosts a Friday Foodies weekly feature, and I was able to share some of my favorite recipe sites.

There are definitely some great sites out there, and there are some already featured in previous Friday Foodies posts that I just love. The Epicurious iPad app is absolutely wonderful, and I will always adore Pioneer Woman and all the stories that go with her fabulous pictures. But when I'm looking for some truly unique recipes to try in the kitchen, I go to these great sites:

Smitten Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen is a professional blog written by a woman with spectacular photography skills, and according to her posts, the smallest kitchen in the world. I love everything about her recipes because they are so wonderfully unique. From whole wheat raspberry ricotta scones to leek toasts with blue cheese, she'll reinvent your cooking repertoire!

Tasty Kitchen

Tasty Kitchen is a cooking community created by the Pioneer Woman to allow her wonderfully-talented readers the chance to share their best. It's like All Recipes with more creativity and amazing photography. This is a more traditional recipe site in that you can search for exactly what you're looking for and get a myriad of new recipes to try as a result. The reason why I love it is that all the recipes are submitted by impassioned readers who love food and photography, just like PW, and want to share it with each other!

Food Gawker

If you haven't figured out yet, I love food photography almost as much as I love food. And it's only fitting that I love a website devoted to the best food photography on the web, that all links to the blog posts about the food and the recipes. You can search by the latest submissions, most popular, and more, but I guarantee you that you won't be able to peel your eyes away. These drool-inducing photos will draw you in and get you hooked, and you won't be able to close the window without poring through dozens of recipe posts.

I hope you enjoy my suggestions and found some new sites for foodie inspiration!

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's My SITS Day!!

Welcome to everyone who is stopping by from SITS!

If you're a regular reader and you're not familiar with SITS, it's a community of women-bloggers set out to create a community and lend each other a helping hand.

If you're visiting from SITS, well hello! Nice to meet you!

I live in the best city in the world, Chicago, with my wonderful husband

Chris and Katie New Years Eve 2010 soft

...and our overly friendly cat, Simon.

Christmas Simon 2010

If you haven't guessed by now, I have three loves (aside from the men in my life): Food, Wine, & Mod Podge. I'm so blessed that my husband is my partner in the kitchen and loves to create new flavor combinations just as much as I do. And we love to do it all with a glass of wine in hand! When I'm not cooking, I'm always crafting, trying out new tricks and mediums, though Mod Podge will always have a special place in my heart.

You can check out my many recipes here, and you'll quickly learn that I love to tweak recipes to make them my own!

005 Roasted bell pepper sauce with Chicken over pasta

Also feel free to browse through my many crafts. Anything from stamp embossing to sewing, and of course plenty of Mod Podge, I hope you'll find something new and fun to try!

Letter k

Thanks again for stopping by, enjoy having a look around!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Reading List :: Love by the Glass

Just over a year ago, I shared the book Love by the Glass with you, but I wanted to bring it back for the summer reading series. It's such a fun and entirely true love story about a pair of journalists who fall in love with each other while falling in love with wine.

Love by the Glass is written by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, the authors of the "Tastings" column in The Wall Street Journal. Gaiter and Brecher are a married couple who met as newbies in the journalism world, and newbies in the world of wine. Just as California was finding its identity in the wine industry, the couple starts to explore whites, reds, and especially sparkling/champagnes. The book follows them from meeting, to new jobs, the wine column, and kids, and intermixes their knowledge and love of wine.

The reason why I loved this book is because it was half life story, half wine textbook. They went into so much detail about the types of wines, their origins, their histories. Yet it all followed the storyline of their life and love, so you hardly noticed how much you were learning. In fact, there was so much information that I actually want to read it again to absorb more! Now regarding the storyline, their love story, it almost seemed fate how well everything laid out for them. Sure there were bumps in the road, which they talk about, but their love for each other, how they focused on building their relationship through wine, is something to truly strive for. It inspires you to be a better partner, with or without the wine!

It’s a wonderful read, I highly recommend you add it to your summer reading list!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

I often buy heads of cauliflower, but I'll be honest, they sit in my fridge for a week or two without being used. Don't get me wrong, I really want to like cauliflower. But when it comes down to it, I am not really a fan of steamed cauliflower, and other than eating it raw dipped in ranch dressing, I just don't know what else to do with it.

In fact, back in February I posted a recipe for Cauliflower and Sausage Pasta that was born from the same need to use an entire head of cauliflower.

This past weekend, yet again I found myself with an entire unused head of cauliflower, looking for inspiration. I was browsing through the Epicurious iPad app, and their Roasted Cauliflower Soup came up. Since I was just recovering from a cold anyway, some soup sounded perfect!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
adapted from Epicurious

1 head cauliflower
4 garlic cloves
2 shallots
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
4 small potatoes
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut cauliflower into 1-inch florets. Cut ends off of garlic and shallots, and cut the shallots into large sections. Combine in a large bowl, and toss with oil to coat.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup 1

Spread out on a baking sheet, and roast in middle of oven about 30 minutes, or until golden.

In a large pot simmer broth, water, and roasted cauliflower mixture 30 minutes covered, or until cauliflower is very tender.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup 2

Dice potatoes into small cubes (1/4 inch) and boil for 10 minutes, or until tender, and drain and set aside.

Using an immersion blender or a standing blender, puree roasted cauliflower and broth mixture until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return soup to pot and stir in potatoes, milk, and salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup 3

Heat soup over moderate heat until just heated through. Serve with fresh croutons or garlic-rubbed crostini.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup 4

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Growing in Chicago: Garden Update

My little plants have come a long way since I planted them back in May, so I thought now would be a good time to share their growth with you!

Let's start with the most unusual little guy, the cilantro:


"Uhh...Katie... that doesn't look like cilantro..."

You're right, it doesn't.

It just so happens that when you plant cilantro, you get a ton of cilantro right away, then suddenly this happens:


It grows a foot and a half straight up, and starts producing flowers and ultimately coriander seeds. Yes, I said coriander. Did you know coriander and cilantro are the same thing? We often associate coriander as the ground seed and cilantro as the leaves, but in reality they're from the same plant. And this unusual sprouting-straight-up process is called bolting. The plant is getting ready to seed and create a new generation, and the old cilantro leaves are done. You can still eat the frilly leaves that come with the bolting, but they won't have quite as strong a cilantro flavor. Once it's bolted, it's in a new stage in life and won't be going back. You can read more about cilantro bolting here.

Now, time to check out the basil!


Happy and full of life, it's also flowering and creating more delicious leaves.


The tomato plant is also doing well, trying to fill out all areas of the pot and budding like mad.


Those little buds will soon die and leave behind little green orbs, the beginning of plump, juicy tomatoes!


And finally, the best for last: the bell pepper plant. I'm just thrilled with my little producer here!



It's already got one pretty sizable pepper sitting at the bottom, as well as three more well on their way.


Hopefully my next garden post has a beautiful red bell pepper and juicy red tomatoes to go with my basil!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Reading List :: Lunch in Paris

The second book in my summer reading series is another favorite of mine. In fact, I love it so much that I've been handing it out to all my friends to read!

Lunch in Paris is a wonderful memoir love story by Elizabeth Bard. As an American journalist who falls in love with a French man while visiting Paris, she struggles with fitting in. She quickly learns that food is engrained in the culture of France, and makes plenty of missteps along the way, much to the dismay of her husband, mother-in-law, and cheesemonger.

I loved this book because I felt I learned so much about French food and French culture while enjoying the love story that was intertwined. It is a must read for anyone who loves food and loves love!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce with Chicken and Pasta

You know what I love about summer? All the wonderful, fresh, and not to mention super-cheap produce.

The other day, I went to the local produce market, and all red, yellow, and orange bell peppers were 99 cents a pound. Needless to say, I got a little too excited, and bought way too many bell peppers. So mid-week, I was in desperate need of some ways to use the peppers other than just my traditional stir fry.

001 Bell peppers red yellow orange

Luckily, I remembered reading once about a bell pepper sauce for pasta, and thought it would be the perfect way to use up a ton of my little veggies!

Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce
adapted from Epicurious

1.5 lbs red, yellow, and orange bell peppers
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 can tomato paste
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

Roast all the bell peppers over an open flame. Since mine were little bell peppers, I had to do 2-3 of each color, but you may need less if you have larger peppers. Roast the peppers until the skin turns black, and immediately stick them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap to let them steam and the skin soften.

002 Roasted bell peppers

After 10 minutes, remove them from the bowl and scrape the blackened skin off.

Remove the seeds and tops of the peppers, and put them in a food processor with the almonds, oil, tomato paste, vinegar, chipotle powder, and chicken stock.

003 roasted bell pepper sauce

Puree the mixture until smooth. Transfer it to a pot and bring to heat and let it sit on medium-low for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with pan-browned chicken over pasta, topped with fresh basil.

005 Roasted bell pepper sauce with Chicken over pasta

This is such a great summer dish to help use up all those peppers while they're affordable!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer Reading List :: Food Novels

Earlier this year, my mom and I started our own little "book club." Since we don't live in the same state, and since Gilmore Girls ended years ago, we needed a new activity that we could do together even though we were apart. She knows how much I love to cook, and she's working to expand her recipe repertoire, so we picked some great food novels that had recipes intertwined in the stories.

We've worked our way through some great books, so I decided it could be a fun little summer series to share these books with you if you're looking for some good summer reading, in addition to some new recipes!

And with that, I want to share with you the first book in my Summer Food Novel Series, I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti: A memoir of good food and bad boyfriends.

The author, Guilia Melucci, shares story after story about the different loves in her life, and how cooking and food had such a presence in each one. Growing up in a big Italian family, she learned at an early age that food is love.

"If my mother did not impart to me an understanding of how to play games when it comes to love, she at least sent me into the world with a clear knowledge of how to make a simple tomato sauce."

From traditional Italian recipes like Spaghetti Carbonara and Fried Eggplant to more amusing dishes like Pear Cake for Friends with Benefits and Bucatini Amatriciana with MP3 File-Sharing Technology, this book is just a joy to read when you're looking for something light and enjoyable. Also, Guilia goes through some background of Italian cooking, so I definitely learned a thing or two about the basics of making great Italian food.

Hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!