Saturday, December 22, 2012

Seared Scallops and Creamed Leeks

Last night Bryan and I celebrated our Christmas together at home since we will be traveling to Minnesota for the holidays! I absolutely love our early Christmas date nights that have sort of become our mini-tradition! We leisurely enjoyed a full menu of delicious food, a cocktail, wine, music in the background, candles lit all around us, and presents!

On the appetizer menu: goat gouda and crab salad served with crackers, and veggie pot stickers served with 2 different dipping sauces of hot chili sauce and soy sauce.

On the dinner menu: seared scallops with creamed leeks, and roasted, seasoned sweet potatoes and onions (not pictured).

This fall, we ate at a restaurant and my entree was served with creamed leeks, which I had never had before and absolutely loved! Being an avid leek lover, I tried my best to find a recipe that could mimic what I ate at the restaurant so that I could make them at home. Finally, I had found a recipe that looked great, and I wanted to save it for a special night. Served with seared scallops, it was perfection!

Oh my gosh, the seared scallops were like buttah and the creamed leeks were insanely delicious. Paired together, it was the perfect bite and we could not stop raving at how good everything tasted! I think this dinner might have to become our traditional Christmas dinner!

I had never made seared scallops at home before, so I followed this tutorial, and they turned out perfectly!

Creamed Leeks
Adapted from Epicurious

Makes: 4 servings

3 1/2 lb leeks, root ends trimmed
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
3/4 tsp salt
3/8 tsp pepper
3/4 stick (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut each leek into an 8-inch length, measuring from root end, and halve lengthwise, then cut crosswise into roughly 1 1/2 inch pieces. Wash leeks thoroughly, and drain.

Cook bread crumbs with 1/4 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp pepper in 3 tbsp butter in a skillet over moderate heath, stirring until crisp and pale golden, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cook leeks with remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in remaining 3 tbsp butter in a large skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally until tender, about 12 minutes.

Transfer leeks with a slotted spoon to an oven save dish. Pour cream slowly over leeks, then scatter bread crumbs on top. Bake until cream is bubbling and slightly thickened and crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Everyone knows of those awesome peanut butter cookies with the chocolate star or Hershey's kiss on top, right?? Okay, those are, by far, my favorite Christmas cookie! And I needed to find a recipe to make them this year! So, when my girlfriends and I got together to bake Christmas cookies this week, I definitely wanted to make these.

Unfortunately, I could not find those beloved little chocolate stars at 3 different grocery stores, including stores that sell bulk candy and chocolate! Major disappointment. Since I was on a time crunch, I decided to purchase some chocolate chunks because I knew they would do the trick since the purpose of the chocolate is just for the topping and flavor. While these cookies are not the prettiest cookies with cute little star on top, they were the best tasting cookie ever. They were the perfect consistency: thick, dense, chewy, and perfectly paired with a bit of chocolate on top. Heavenly.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
Adapted from

Makes 48 cookies

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
48 Hershey's chocolate kisses, or chocolate stars

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In mixer, beat butter and peanut butter until well blended. Blend in sugars and beat until light and fluffy.

Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat well.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually mix into peanut butter mixture.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

When removed from the oven, immediately place a kiss or star on top of the cookie and press down lightly.


Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Even though we hosted 10 people for Friendsgiving, and divvied up the leftovers, we still had a lot of leftover turkey! I was actually happy about this because I love my dad's turkey recipe. I had also been craving some soup, so I figured that it would go perfectly in a creamy wild rice soup!!

Fun factoid that I learned this semester in my food science class: Wild rice is not actually rice. It's not a grain either. It's a seed of a reed-like water plant and contains twice the protein and has more B vitamins than regular rice.

This soup far surpassed my expectations and was so good! If only I had leftover turkey year-round to make it!! I guess I'll have to use chicken until the next time we have a reason to make a large turkey!

Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
Adapted from Eating Well

Makes: Approx. 4 servings
Prep time: 35 minutes

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup quick-cooking or instant wild rice
3 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey (12 oz)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots, and shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Add rice and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the rice is tender, 5-7 minutes (unless you are using conventional wild rice, which will take 40-50 minutes to cook. Check the directions on the package). Stir in turkey (or chicken), sour cream, and parsley and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Serve and enjoy!

Bourbon Bomber

As I mentioned, we hosted a Friendsgiving on Thanksgiving weekend. I wanted to have a signature cocktail that was suited for the holiday. I found this recipe and knew it would be perfect! This cocktail is perfect for the fall since it uses apple cider and incorporates other fall seasonings like ginger and nutmeg! I think it could actually work well for Christmas too, if any of you are looking for a cocktail recipe!

Bourbon Bomber
Adapted from The Boys Club

Note: You can make this in one large pitcher, or you can make each drink one at a time. Ingredients and directions are listed for drinks made individually.

Apple cider
Ice cubes
Agave nectar
All spice
Lemon zest
Nutmeg, grated
Ginger, grated
Rosemary sprigs for garnish (optional)

Using a cocktail shaker, add a few ice cubes, 1//4 cup bourbon, 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/2 tbsp agave nectar, 1/2 tbsp all spice, 1/2 tsp lemon zest, 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg, and a pinch of grated ginger. Shake well.

Using a strainer, strain the drink over an ice-filled rock glass. Top each drink with a drop (or two) of bitters and a rosemary sprig.

Thanksgiving Weekend

Bryan found out the day before Thanksgiving that he would have Thursday off! We actually had plans to host a Friendsgiving that Friday and had nothing planned for Thursday! Since I was also on a mini-break from school, we discovered that we would have a whole day together that we could do whatever we wanted! YES!

We slept in and made those French Toast BLT's for breakfast! We enjoyed multiple episodes of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix while we ate those delicious sandwiches and lounged on the couch.

We took advantage of the lovely weather and went for a long bicycle ride in the afternoon! Ohio actually has great roads for biking!

It was an awesome day! (Oh yeah, did I mention that Bryan grew a mustache for Movember?) So glad that's over!

That Friday, we hosted a Friendsgiving! We had friends over who were also staying in Cleveland for the holiday. We made the turkey, appetizers, and a cocktail (post coming up) and everyone else brought sides. It was a success!!

Turkey prep! This is how surgeons make a turkey! It's from my dad's recipe - my favorite turkey of all time. Unfortunately, we got busy with hosting and forgot to take a picture of the final product. I guess you'll have to wait until we make it again!

Stay tuned for the festive cocktail recipe coming right up!

Homemade Pizza Dough

Everyone loves pizza, right? But most people order in or eat frozen pizza. Some people will venture out and make a homemade crust from a box or package. Those days are over!

I was lucky enough to be given the best homemade pizza dough recipe in the world by a great friend! I finally had time to make it this fall and we totally loved it!! I can't wait to try this again! The best part about making your own pizza is you can pick your own toppings and put whatever you'd like on it! We decided to use mozzarella cheese, Brussels sprouts, and pancetta. Delicious!

Homemade Pizza Dough
From My Friend Rachel!

Prep time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 1/2 hours, or overnight

1 1/4 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast (scant 1 tbsp)
a pinch of sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Put the flower, sugar, and yeast in a mixing bowl and pour the hot water in. Mix together and set aside until foamy, 20-30 mins.

Lightly oil a clean bowl for the dough (should be fairly large).

Stir in the salt and oil, then start mixing with the dough hook on your Kitchen Aid. Add more flour as needed. Let the dough hook do its magic until the dough is smooth an dshiny, and bounces back to the touch. You may want to knead it by hand. If you decide not to use the Kitchen Aid, knead for ~10 minutes.

Put the dough in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge overnight. Alternately, let it rise for about an hour at room temperature.

Divide into 2-3 pieces and make pizza! Bake as hot as you can get your oven, usually 10-15 minutes each. Enjoy!

French Toast BLT's

Bryan is in the 1st of 6 years of his urology residency, as many of you know. This first year, he is a general surgery intern, which allows for him to learn the basics of surgery and managing patients. Being an intern, he works a lot. Like, a crazy amount - usually around 80 hour weeks. We try to maximize our time together because any chunk of time we have together is precious! Whenever we both have a morning free, which is very rare, I try to make a delicious breakfast because I absolutely love breakfast food. I ran across this recipe a long time ago, and I finally had a chance to make it for us over the Thanksgiving weekend!

French Toast BLT's - seriously, genius. Whoever thought of this idea was on top of their game. These little sandwiches were so amazing that I can't wait for another opportunity to make them! Since the holidays are coming up, maybe some of you will be inspired to create these fancy little BLT's to impress your guests!

French Toast BLT's
Adapted from E is for Eat

Makes: 4 sandwiches

4 slices brioche bread (or 8 baguette slices)
2 large slices Applewood smoked bacon, cooked and cut in half
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk (or half and half)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp flour
Fresh ground salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
4 lettuce leaves

Cook the bacon until golden brown and crisp. Keep warm in microwave or oven until ready to serve.

While bacon cooks, whisk together eggs, cream, chives, parmesan, and flour. Season with salt and pepper. Lay bread in single layer in large shallow dish and coat with egg mixture. Soak 20-30 mins, turning once in the dish to allow for proper soaking.

Next, cook bread as you would cook French toast. We use a nonstick pan, so I don't use any butter or cooking spray. If you use a skillet, melt butter or use cooking spray to prevent sticking. Flip bread when the egg is brown and crisp. Keep cooked pieces warm in microwave or oven until ready to serve.

To assemble, layer tomato, lettuce, and bacon on a slice of French toast. Top with another slice or serve open faced. Another great addition that we thought of as we were devouring these babies would be to add sliced avocado if you like. Enjoy!


A long while back, I posted a recipe for quinoa stuffed bell peppers. This recipe has become a staple here at our house, since it is so quick, easy, healthy, cheap, and makes great leftovers. Now that I've made it a number of times, I've altered the recipe into a favorite. I thought it would be worthwhile to update the recipe on the ol' blog, since I actually reference the old post often!

I basically make the bulk of the recipe the same way, but instead of baking the peppers as the original recipe instructs, the end result is much more delicious and beautiful if you grill the peppers! They only take a couple of minutes which cuts major time off the preparation. An alternative for those who don't have a grill or don't prefer to grill year-round as we do, you could also fire them on the gas oven for a minute or two (be careful if you do this!).

Additionally, the quinoa makes great filling in a tortilla, topped with salsa! This is another version that we love to make for leftovers the next day when the bell peppers are gone. To be honest, the quinoa mixture is delicious on its own!

This is a really great versatile recipe and I'd encourage anyone looking for something new to try to give this recipe a shot! Bryan requests it at least every other week!

Original recipe adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
Second edition adapted from my own adaptation

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin (I usually add more to taste)
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 8oz package mushrooms, sliced
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup quinoa
1 14.5 oz can low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen corn (or one small can, drained)
1 1/2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2-4 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and tomatoes (with liquid). Cook 5 minutes.

Stir in quinoa and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and stir in black beans, corn, and 1 cup cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grill peppers for a couple of minutes - they will still be crunchy, but slightly cooked.

Serve by stuffing quinoa mixture into peppers or in the center of a tortilla, burrito style. Top with remaining shredded cheese and  salsa, or serve salsa on the side. Enjoy!

One semester down, Two to go!!!

Exciting news! This girl is officially done with finals! My first semester of graduate school is complete! It was interesting, stimulating, invigorating, frustrating at times, but very enriching and rewarding. I'm so glad that I'm finally learning what I want to learn and working towards my dream career.

Now that busy school life is over, I thought I'd have some free time on my hands. I was so wrong! There is so much to do! I've been busy with cooking, baking, hanging out with friends, cleaning, running errands, working a lot (since I cut back on hours during finals), and preparing for Christmas! At least it's fun busy!

So, you know what this means - blog post marathon comin' up! Stay tuned! Oh, and that pic of Dimitri is just to make you smile :)