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Kelseyincleveland’s First Blog-o-versary

15 Jul

I can’t believe that it’s already (only?) been a (slightly over) a year since I started writing this food blog.  Over the course of the past year, I have learned so much about cooking and am incredibly grateful that I had this blog to press me to try new ingredients, techniques, flavor combinations, and dishes.  The prospect of posting at least a few new dishes every week kept me from falling into a food rut.  There are certainly plenty aspects of this blog that could use drastic improvement (the photographs, especially!), but overall I am really proud of the food I produced over the past year.  I am consistently surprised and humbled by all of the friends, family, and strangers who read the blog.

Kelseyincleveland’s First Blog-o-versary

All-Time Most Popular Posts:

10.  Chipotle and Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork with Roasted Jalapeño Polenta

9.  Zucchini and Ginger Fritatta

8.  Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders with Sweet Potato Tater Tots and Hot Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce

7.  Lemon Garlic Sardine Pasta with Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

6.  Faux Bagel and Lox

5.  Lemon Mashed Great Northern Bean Enchiladas with Homemade Tortillas

4.  Spaghetti and Fried Eggs with Orange Pangritata

3.  Vegetarian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

2.  Mujaddara with Spiced Yogurt

1.  Ricotta Dill Mac and Cheese

My Favorites:

In no particular order:

Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade chicken stock is the backbone of an incredible number of my favorite recipes.  Used from everything as the basis for a flavorful broth in a delicious soup to the cooking liquid for a creamy and comforting risotto, homemade chicken stock imparts an essential depth of flavor to nearly any dish you can dream of in the kitchen.

Perfect Roast Chicken

My perfect roast chicken recipe was only the second recipe I ever posted, but still remains my go-to stand by for a roast chicken.  Though I frequently switch the ingredients in the brine or make use of a different rub or glaze, the method outlined in my perfect roast chicken recipe is tried-and-true as far as brining and roasting times and has never disappointed me.

Falafel and Fattoush Sandwich with Yogurt Dressing

Though slightly time-consuming to make and assemble, these delightful falafel and fattoush sandwiches were worth every minute.  The fattoush salad is equally delicious on its own, as is the falafel dipped in some of the yogurt sauce.  However, combined and wrapped in a fresh pita, this sandwhich is crispy, fresh, and absolutely addictive.

Spinach and Polenta Soup

I am counting down the weeks until a Cleveland clambake so I can replicate this briney, creamy soup.  Though I’m sure it woudl be pretty darn good with simple seafood or vegetable stock, the clam broth really took this unique soup over the edge.

  Pasta Cacio e Pepe with Salt Cured Egg Yolk

The salt-cured egg yolk included in this simple pasta cacio e pepe was incredibly simple to make but has myriad applications.  It certainly dressed up this simple pasta dish, adding a layer of rich, yolk-y flavor that was absolutely divine.

Scallion Pancakes with Spicy Hoisin and Jalapeño Shredded Chicken

I won’t lie to you – these scallion pancakes take a good amount of muscle to get right.  On the bright side, you can skip your workout the day you make these.  On the even brighter side, they were crispy, flakey, and incredibly flavorful.  Though they would be good with any sort of Asian-esque topping, this jalapeño-shredded chicken and spicy-sweet hoisin sauce was spot on.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Yogurt Dressing (De-constructed Falafel)

If the falafel and fattoush sandwich from above looks good to you but you aren’t in the mood to spend an hour or two in your kitchen prepping and cooking, this delicious warm chickpea salad is perfect.  It combines all of the flavors and textures of a falafel sandwhich with a very small percentage of the work.

Chipotle Chicken Salad

This flavor-packed chicken salad had a really amazing variation in texture that made it addictive to eat.  The salad was also colorful, making it very enticing to dig into.  It was also creamy, spicy, smokey, and absolutely delicious.

Fiddlehead Ferns and Lake Erie Perch with Hollandaise Sauce

This delightful brunch dish had very few components but was really lovely.  The salty-crisp perch skin went beautifully with the lemony, rich, creamy hollandaise and the fresh, bright crunch of the fiddlehead ferns.  The ferns sopped up the sauce, making them the perfect vehicle for a decadent hollandaise.

Grilled Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Pizza

At least for me, anything made on the grill immediately tastes ten times better.  And who can turn down a good slice of pizza?  Especially when it’s topped with melty cheese, spicy chicken, and fresh cilantro?  Not me.

Zak’s Favorites:

In no particular order:

Vietnamese Phở bò

What can I say? Pho is my Phavorite of all the soups. Quite possibly of all the foods in the world. ALL of them. I was very interested to try a home made version, and this recipe certainly lived up to the expectations. I’ve had amazing Pho in Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Cleveland. Even with all these other great Pho experiences, I’m glad to report that Kelsey’s version was authentic, delicious and great for several leftover meals. Hazzzzah!

Fennel Frond Pesto with Gnocchi and Olive Oil Toasted Bread Crumbs

Pesto can be tricky because it’s oftentimes too salty or oily for my taste. Kelsey figured out a perfect balance of pesto goodness with this fennel-infused version. The consistency of the pesto was perfect. Instead of being too thick or too thin, it lightly clung to the gnocchi for dear life as any good pasta sauce should. I never thought I would have to gauge the viscosity of a pesto…but here we are.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes, Carrots, and Onion

Kiss me, I’m Irish. Well, not really…I’m used to having corned beef in a Jewish deli. The idea of corned beef in any iteration besides a sandwich is a foreign concept to me. At least, it used to be foreign. This version of corned beef is equally good and actually more fulfilling thanks to the vegetables on the side. After the initial meal, it was satisfying to use the leftovers to make Reuben sandwiches, which appeased my Jewish deli cravings. Kiss me, I’m Jirish.

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Fritters with Spicy Balsamic Reduction and Black Bean and Corn Cilantro Salad

These little buggers were excellent! They seemed like a mix between potato pancakes and veggie burgers. Not the store-bought frozen veggie burgers, but a more organic and fresh approach to the meatless burger. The fritters were amazing by themselves, but they would have been great on a roll or bun as well.

Sriracha Marinara with Meatballs

Sriracha goes on everything except iced cream. Almost without exception, this hot sauce can be used on any food to give it some spice. I never thought of using it in spaghetti and meatballs…shame on me. It seemed like a great idea when Kelsey first told me about the recipe. The Sriracha added an entirely new dimension of flavor and turned regular ol’ spaghetti and meatballs into a unique delicacy.

Chilled Avocado Corn Soup with Zucchini “Latkes”

Again, the specter of the Jewish deli arises whenever I think of latkes. Potato pancakes are always good in my book, but they can be bland if there’s no love (salt) in them. If you’re going for a low sodium version, it’s best to supplement them with a vegetable. The addition of zucchini to these potato pancakes was the perfect supplement. The pancakes were crispy, flaky and somewhat magical.

Thyme-Seared Steelhead Trout with Thyme-Mushroom Quinoa

I never really heard of steelhead trout before. I’m no ichthyologist but I thought I knew a little something about different trout varieties. Steelhead caught me totally by surprise. Thankfully, I’m always happy to learn about (and taste) new kinds of trout. This dish was possibly the best fish I ever had, but certainly the best ever cooked by Kelsey. It was very similar to salmon but possessed a more exotic and delicate flavor. If I ever order steelhead trout in a restaurant, I would be shocked if it came out anywhere as good as Kelsey’s.

Pearled Barley and Beet Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Healthy, hearty and addicting. Three adjectives that don’t usually go together when speaking of my favorite foods. This recipe, however, pulled it off in a big way. I love the idea of a giant bowl of food that you can throw in the fridge and snack on periodically. This recipe was a perfect realization of that paradigm. Whether it’s a snack, side dish or main course, this recipe knocks it out of the park.

B’s Sauce

Best pasta sauce, ever. ‘Nuff said. Thanks B!

Chana Masala with Mustard Greens and Naan

17 May

This dish was jam-packed with both flavor and nutrition.  I hadn’t worked with mustard greens before and was surprised by the intensity of the mustard flavor, but it worked really well with the boldness of the spices.  Zak made the naan from a recipe in the book his sis got him for his birthday, The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger.  It was absolutely delicious and made a wonderful vessel for the spice of the chana masala with mustard greens.  I really enjoyed this healthy, vegetarian dish, especially because it allowed me to make use of some Indian flavors which don’t typically pop up in our kitchen.  The leftovers were especially good today for lunch.

Chana Masala with Mustard Greens and Naan

Chana Masala with Mustard Greens:

2 tbs. olive oil

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. ground coriander

Large pinch ground ginger

1/2 tsp. garam masala

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1 15 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

Kosher salt

1 tbs. cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish

1 tsp. sriracha

1 15 oz. can chickpeas

3-4 tbs. plain Greek yogurt (optional)

1 16 oz. bag chopped mustard greens

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add mustard greens and boil 2 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water immediately.  Set aside.

Add olive oil to a large saucepan or Dutch oven and heat over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized, about 40 minutes.  Turn heat up slightly and cook another 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are lightly charred in some spots.

Reduce heat to low.  Add garlic and another tsp. or two of oil if the pan seems too dry.  Add cumin, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom.  Add a few splashes of water and stir to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Cook until water is completely evaporated.

Pour in the juice from the canned tomatoes.  Add tomatoes, breaking them apart with your hands as you add them (messy but efficient) or break them up in the pan with a wooden spoon or potato masher once in the pan (cleaner but doesn’t work as well).  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Raise heat to medium and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add the cilantro and sriracha, simmering until the sauce begins to thicken.  Add chickpeas and mustard greens and stir to coat thoroughly with the sauce.  Cook over medium heat another 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and coats chickpeas and mustard greens.

Stir in yogurt, if desired.  Garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately with naan.


Adapted from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger

1 tbs. corn oil

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup 1% milk

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

3/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. instant dry yeast

1 tbs. unsalted butter, melted

2 tbs. carraway seeds

Preheat oven to 450º.

Place oil, yogurt, milk, 2 cups flour, salt, baking soda, and yeast in your bread machine and program for the Dough cycle.  Press start.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

When Dough cycle is complete, remove dough to a work surface dusted with flour.  Divide into two equal portions.  Divide each portion into third, and form the six portions into walnut-size balls.  Roll each into a 4″-5″ flat round or oval shape about 1/2″ thick.  As they are shaped, place them on the baking sheet.  Cover with a towel and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Flatten each round with your palm and stretch on one side to make an 8″ x 4 1/2″ elongated oval.  Brush the top of each naan with the melted butter and sprinkle with carraway seeds.  Bake until golden brown and crisp for about 8 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Off to New Orleans

26 Dec

Zak and I will be flying to New Orleans tomorrow morning and returning on January 2nd, 2011, so I likely won’t be posting for the week.  When I return, I’ll probably have lots of food photos to share.  In the mean time, I hope you all have a happy New Year!

Roasted Chicken, Butternut Squash, Zucchini and Feta Lasagna

2 Aug

It may appear from the assortment of recipes so far that we are obsessed with butternut squash in our household.  It IS great, because it’s inexpensive, nutrient packed, has longevity, freezes well, and can be used in a lot of different forms and flavor profiles.  What’s not to love?  I’m admittedly obsessed with using leftovers, and so what I made before inspires flavor profiles for quite some time.  This recipe from Closet Cooking had caught my eye, I had some of my soup leftover, butternut squash was again on sale, and I had a huge zucchini from my dad’s garden to use up.

Lasagna is labor intensive and not the healthiest, but I love it.  It’s not Zak’s favorite but the cook should get to choose sometimes, right?  It seems like it takes a long time and is a lot of work (I really didn’t enjoy peeling the butternut squash BEFORE roasting it), but it’s mostly simple steps that can be done over the course of the day.  I started around 11:30  and had it in the fridge ready to go in the oven around 4, but I walked away for a lot of breaks and set things in the refrigerator.

All the work was completely worth it, though.  This was absolutely amazing.  YUM.  Even my non-lasagna-lover liked it and is taking it for lunch tomorrow.  The salty feta, sweet butternut squash and smoky tomato was really, really good.

Roasted Chicken, Butternut Squash, Zucchini and Feta Lasagna²

Adapted from Closet Cooking

Serves 2-4

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces

1 cup zucchini, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces

Cooking spray

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 small Vidalia onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup white wine (I used chardonnay)

3/4 cup diced tomato (one small tomato)

3 tsps. tomato paste

1 cup leftover Ginger and Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Soup or pureed roasted butternut squash

1 cup leftover roasted chicken, shredded¹

2 tbs. butter

2-4 tsps. all natural whole wheat flour

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

3/4 cup feta, crumbled

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

6-8 cooked lasagna noodles (I used no boil noodles)

Preheat oven to 400°.  Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with cooking spray.  Spread butternut squash and zucchini pieces in a single layer over the baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Roast in oven until tender, roughly 20 minutes.  Set aside.

If you do not have leftover Ginger and Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, roast an extra 1/2 butternut squash per the instructions in the linked recipe.  Peel, cut into pieces and puree in a food processor with a few tablespoons of water or chicken stock.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil.  Add onions and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent and tender, 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Increase heat to medium and add wine, diced tomato, tomato paste, leftover Ginger and Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (or roasted butternut squash puree), kosher salt, and freshly cracked pepper and bring to a slow boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15-20 minutes until sauce is thickened.  Add shredded chicken and mix throughly.  Set aside.

Heat butter in a saucepan until bubbling and lightly browned.  Slowly add flour and simmer until lightly browned.  Mix in milk and heat through until lightly bubbling.  Add cheese a bit at a time and heat until melted and thickened but not pasty.  Reserve small handful of grated cheese to sprinkle on top later.  Don’t worry if the feta does not completely melt.

Preheat oven to 350º.  Layer all with noodles in a 6″ x 3″ x 4″casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Assemble lasagna as follows: a little bit of chicken and tomato sauce, noodles, chicken and tomato sauce, roasted veg, cheese sauce, repeat, cheese sauce.  Bake, covered, for 30-45 minutes.  Remove cover and sprinkle reserved cheese on top.  Bake uncovered for the last ten minutes or place under the broiler for 2-3 mins if not golden brown.

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Tomato-Lemon Chicken with Broiled Romaine Salad

27 Jul

After coming back from a long weekend with Zak at my parents cabin near Higgins Lake, Michigan, I found a few items in the refrigerator that needed to be used, like, yesterday.  Those items included a few lemons, a large tomato, and a heart of romaine lettuce.  This tasty meal is what was borne of my deep-rooted need to not waste produce under any circumstances.  The flavors were summery and bright and we both really enjoyed this healthy meal.  The salad was spicy with a nice little bite from the balsamic and the chicken had just the right amount of acid.

Tomato-Lemon Chicken with Broiled Romaine Salad

Serves 2

Tomato-Lemon Chicken:

1 lb. boneless skinless fryer breasts

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 large tomato, diced

1 tsp. Brummel and Brown

Zest and juice of 2 large lemons

1/2 cup white wine (I used chardonnay)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350º.

Place lemons in microwave and microwave for 1 minute.  This will vastly increase the amount of juice you yield from the lemons.  Zest both lemons.

Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.  Use roughly half of the lemon zest and press firmly on both sides of the chicken.  Place chicken in casserole dish.

Heat Brummel and Brown in a small saucepan and sauté sliced shallot until lightly browned and crispy.  Top chicken with shallots.  Add tomato, lemon zest and wine to casserole.  Bake, uncovered, in oven 35 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165°.  Serve chicken breasts topped with tomatoes and a few spoonfuls of wine sauce.

Broiled Romaine Salad:

1 heart of romaine, halved lengthwise

1 tbs. pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 tbs. balsamic vinegar

Cooking spray

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat broiler (while chicken is resting).

Place romaine halves cut side upon baking sheet covered with tinfoil and sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  Season cut halves with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.  Drizzles with balsamic vinegar and top with pepper jack cheese.

Broil hearts of romaine four to six minutes or until edges of lettuce leaves are lightly charred.

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