All posts by hummusandhoney

Sriracha Potato Salad

I’m kind of obsessed with Fitness magazine. After 19 years in school (which is absurd, right?) I’m seriously into fact-checking, but I’ll believe just about anything Fitness prints. April’s edition just arrived this past week, informing me that potatoes are better for you if you’ve cooked them but let them cool, and that sriracha hot sauce boosts your metabolism. So obviously, when I looked in my cupboards on Monday after a long day, looking for something easy but “real” for dinner, I felt compelled not just to use cold potatoes or sriracha, but better yet, to find a way to use them together.

And here’s what I came up with: spicy potato salad. Fairly easy, husband-approved, and totally filling without being too unhealthy. This may be making an appearance at a picnic this summer…

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Ingredients (makes 6 side-sized servings)

10 medium redskin potatoes

1/4 cup ranch dressing (I go for the low-fat version)

1 tbsp sriracha (this amount will make it moderately spicy, so you may want to add the sriracha gradually to taste)

1 tbsp white vinegar

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Directions

1. Wash and cube the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. In a medium pot filled with water, boil the potatoes until tender (about 10 minutes after they’re boiling)

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ranch, sriracha, and vinegar once the potatoes are almost done

3. Drain the potatoes as thoroughly as possible, transfer to a bowl and gently mix in the dressing mixture

4. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until cool, then serve as a side, or even as the main event for a small meal!

 

Cheese Cake Torte

Currently, I’m writing from the comfort of a hotel room… two miles away from my apartment. A couple of nights ago, some nasty wind took out the power in my area, and subsequently a fried circuit board has kept the power out in my building since. I’m probably going to be here a while longer, too, because a giant snowstorm hit last night, more than likely delaying the shipment of the parts they need to fix our power. Also, our car is at the dealership for repairs (actually, that’s a relief after the runaround we got regarding the warranty). The car isn’t a huge deal now, because we’re snowed in, and the hotel is nice, but staying in a hotel for going on three days with two hyperactive dogs can get old. To put it mildly, it’s been an interesting week… and I fly out for Italy in four days. Fun. I hope all of you are having a better week than me.

Thankfully, last week didn’t end so badly. It was Valentine’s Day, and before that my better half’s birthday. He’s a huge fan of cheesecake, and I’m a big fan of non-traditional recipes, so I decided to make this cheese cake torte.

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The original recipe for this tasty, totally non-boring dessert came from an amazing mid-century cookbook that my great-great aunt (the most amazing 97-year-old lady you could hope to meet) gave to me. I made three little updates to the recipe: using gluten free graham cracker crumbs instead of regular ones, swapping plain greek yogurt for sour cream, and caramelizing the almonds on top instead of just toasting them.

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Ingredients: (makes one 9″ round torte)

5 eggs

1 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon sugar

12 oz. cream cheese

12 oz. cottage cheese

1 cup plain greek yogurt (if you want an even sweeter dessert, try vanilla!)

1/4 teaspoon  nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup slivered almonds

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9″ springform pan (with tall sides) or a 13″ pie pan with cooking spray.

To make the crust

A.  Crush graham crackers

B. Combine with 1 tbsp. sugar, the nutmeg, and the cinnamon.

C. Lightly cover the bottom and sides of the pan with crumb mixture.

To make the filling

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly.

2. Mixing, slowly add 1 cup sugar. Blend until smooth.

3. Add sour sour cream and cottage cheese, and beat until smooth.

4. Pour this mixture into the crumb-lined pan, and bake for 1 hour (or until completely set).

5. While the torte is cooking, you can caramelize the almonds in a frying pan with 1 tablespoon sugar. Watch them careful, tossing them to make sure both sides get toasted without burning (which happens pretty quickly).

6. After the torte is finished cooking, remove it and turn the oven up to 450 degrees. Spread the greek yogurt over the top of the torte (and sides, if you’re doing this in a springform). Return it to the oven and cook for another 5 minutes.

7. It’s almost done! Top with the caramelized almonds and serve after it’s cooled.

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It’s not traditional cheesecake, but it’s good, right? My cheesecake-loving husband seemed to like it. Here’s hoping the cooler on my balcony is keeping the leftovers a reasonable temperature… my powerless fridge sure wasn’t going to do the job!

 

 

Loaded Polenta Cakes

Wondering what to do with the leftover prosciutto and parmesan you bought to make pasta panna e prosciutto? Prosciutto is so light that I always end up with more than I need (I can’t exactly walk up to the deli and ask for 1/16 pound of it, now can I?) So, for the past several days, I’ve been putting prosciutto on basically everything.

I’d been meaning for a while to try something with polenta. It’s gluten-free, and comes pre-cooked but without a bunch of preservatives, so it seems like something I ought to start using. One of the serving suggestions on the package I got was “baked potato style.” And that got the wheels turning… polenta is Italian; so are prosciutto and parmesan… a loaded baked potato has bacon; prosciutto is kind of like bacon. You get the idea.

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I have a busy 10 days ahead of me getting things in order to make my trans-Atlantic trek, so I’ll stop there. Loaded baked not-potato, Italian style. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients: (makes approximately 8 cakes)

18 oz. sleeve of pre-cooked polenta

3 slices prosciutto

1/2 cup parmesan

1/2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Slice the polenta (across the diameter) into 1/2 thick circles. Add olive oil to a large flat frying pan or skillet, heat to medium-high, and add the polenta cakes. Flip after 2-3 minutes, making sure that the cakes get crisp and golden on the outside, but don’t brown much. Lightly salt and pepper each side, but remember the prosciutto and parmesan will add saltiness to the dish.

2. Slice prosciutto into small pieces (1/2 squares work well), and pan fry in a separate pan.

3. When both sides of polenta are crisp, remove from pan and top with prosciutto and parmesan. Serve hot.

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The consistency of polenta isn’t for everyone – it’s similar to grits. If you’re a fan of this traditional Italian cornmeal porridge, though, the addition of some crispy, salty meat and shaved cheese makes it a perfect appetizer or weeknight dinner.

Pasta panna e prosciutto

In less than two weeks, I’ll be leaving to spend a month in Italy. It sounds great: Italian food, architecture, and the satisfaction of knowing that I’m actually making some progress on my dissertation. I have to be honest, though – I’m not entirely excited. Spending that long in a city where you don’t know anyone is something less than fun, especially when you’re leaving behind these two little snuggle pups (and, of course, the man who’s helping me raise them).

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But, in anticipation of my trip, I decided to make something authentically Italian. Something with sauce made from scratch, not from a jar. I discovered pasta panna e prosciutto four years ago (!) when I went to Italy for the first time, to study abroad. I was lucky enough to have a professor who was a serious foodie, and who in addition to sharing her own Italian recipes with us also took the group to a cooking class. We made gnocchi and tiramisu; I can still taste it… it was heavenly.

Unlike gnocchi from nothing, pasta panna e prosciutto is easy – but still amazingly tasty. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but in this dish I just can’t resist a little prosciutto (you know, the salty-sweet cured Italian ham).It’s so easy that I almost didn’t post it here, but after some Googling (it’s a verb, right?) I confirmed that there’s still not a good recipe for this on the English-speaking, non-metric internet… at least not that I’ve been able to find. So, here it is: pasta panna e prosciutto (roughly, pasta with cream and prosciutto).

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Ingredients: (makes 2 dinner-sized portions)

2 servings (usually about 1 1/2 cups) pasta – I use ziti, but anything will work. I  use gluten free pasta, but of course wheat-based pasta works too.

1 tablespoon butter

1/3 cup cream

1 teaspoon corn starch

salt and pepper to taste

3 slices (about 2 oz) prosciutto (cotto or crudo – if you just ask for prosciutto in an American deli, chances are you’ll get cotto… i.e. cooked)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (and please, for the love of Italian food, use the real thing!)

 

Directions:

1. Boil water in a medium saucepan for your pasta. While the water is coming to a boil, slice your prosciutto into approximately 1/2 inch squares.

2. Now,  add your pasta. While the pasta cooks, you can pan fry the prosciutto. Do this on medium-high heat, just long enough for it to start looking darker and a little crispy… but be careful not to overcook it, as prosciutto can take on a tough consistency if dried out.

3. After setting the cooked prosciutto aside, melt the butter in a small saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk a small amount of cold water (about a tablespoon) with the corn starch. When well blended, at this and the cream to the melted butter. Add salt and pepper to taste – I generally use only a pinch of salt, but more pepper. Too much salt will cover up the milky taste that sets this apart from alfredo.  Stirring constantly, bring to a boil, then remove from heat so that it doesn’t get too thick.

4. Drain the pasta and top with panna sauce, prosciutto, and a little parmesan.  Serve immediately.

 

Mmmm. Italian comfort food. One disclaimer: this isn’t a light dish, so take my word for it and don’t eat it an hour before you go to yoga class.

What do you think? What did you pair this with to round out your meal?

Exotic Winter Salad

Life is chaotic. Life is complicated and confusing. It’s crazy. Really. Sometimes we get caught up in things we’re “supposed” to do so much so that we forget about the things we like to do – which, incidentally, tend also to be the things that are good for us, at least in moderation. But then OSU makes it into the college football championship, and you have friends over and you make food for them, and you remember how much you like to cook, and how you’re only going to get better at it if you keep cooking. Okay, so maybe the general lesson breaks down there, and this is actually all autobiographical… but you get the point.

After a longer-than-intended blogging hiatus, I’m sharing something I dreamed up for lunch today: an exotic, wintery take on a simple salad. In general, I like salad. Even more than that, I know it’s good for me. During the summer, I could live on nothing but salads and be perfectly content. But then winter rolls around and it gets cold and dark and I start sucking in carbs at the rate of approximately one loaf of bread and two boxes of pasta per day (just kidding… but only barely). So here it is, a salad that feels like it belongs in winter. A salad that doesn’t remind you of summer in a depressing way, but that also makes you want to eat your fruits and vegetables. Because yes, it’s got both.

Ingredients (makes 4 salads)

4 cups chopped lettuce (I used romaine because that’s what I had, but baby spinach would work well too)

1 large persimmon

1 pomegranate (or 1 cup of arils – but I recommend starting with the fresh fruit)

4 oz (1/2 cup) crumbled goat cheese

1/2 cup almonds (I prefer slivered for salads, because they’re easier to eat with a fork, but that’s a personal preference)

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Directions

Pretty self-explanatory. Lettuce, fruit, almonds, cheese. If you’re using a fresh pomegranate, cutting it open can be a little messy if you’re not an absolute pro, but it’s so pretty and red and sweet that I enjoy it anyway. Here are some good instructions if you haven’t mastered the art of pomegranate-cutting yet. Cut your persimmon up just like you would a tomato.

I decided not to use any dressing on mine. I thought the juices from the pomegranate and the softness of the cheese were perfectly sufficient. If you’re attached to the idea of dressing as the finishing touch to a salad, though, I’d go for just a touch of a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

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What do you think? One of the great things about salads is that it’s really easy to tweak them by adding or removing ingredients depending on what you like and what’s in your fridge? What else might you put on a “winter” salad?

Pear with Broiled Goat Cheese

Wow. October has been a busy month. A really, really busy month. A lot of it has been busy for no reason, but we also spent a weekend away camping (it snowed, but that’s a story for another day), and I made a crazy-quick trip to Princeton and New York for a conference. I’m hoping things will calm down for a while now, or at least settle into somewhat of a routine. I function best when I have a real, weekly routine… and it feels like I haven’t had one of those for months.

I imagine you know where I’m going with this. Cooking real food is hard when you’re busy. It’s also hard when you’re in a funk because you don’t have a routine that tells you “now it’s time to cook dinner.” The recipe I want to share today isn’t a complete dinner (although we made it that, one night), but it is super tasty and fancy enough to serve at a dinner party without taking too much effort. It is exactly what it sounds like: pears, topped with goat cheese that has been broiled. Sometimes simple is best. And there are practically an infinite number of variations you could create, if you mix-and-match your fruit and cheese. (But do so responsibly, I beg of you. Cheddar cheese and peaches don’t go together. They just don’t).

Ingredients (makes about 4 servings as an appetizer)

2 pears (I used red bartletts)

6 oz goat cheese (the cheese I used had cranberries in it)

Directions

In several ramekins, broil the goat cheese on high, about 6 inches from heat source.  Broil it until it begins to brown and bubble, 8-10 minutes. Don’t be scared to let it get a little dark around the top/edges. The caramelized, warm cheese really makes this dish!

Slice the pear. I quartered each pear, then cut 1/4 inch thick slices – you want them work like crackers for the cheese.

When the goat cheese is cooked, top each slice of pear (you should have about a teaspoon of cheese for each slice).

Serve while the cheese is warm!

What do you think? What other combinations of fruit and sweet cheese have you tried?

 

Corn Soup

I can’t believe it’s almost fall. Where did September go? Where did the summer go?? Where did this year go?!? I have mixed feelings about the fact that tomorrow is the first day of fall, really. Fall means winter is next, and winter is cold, and I don’t like the cold. But fall also means sweaters, apple cider, and colorful leaves, all of which I really love.

It’s not fall quite yet, though. So, yesterday for dinner I created a dish that might just be the most quintessentially “late-summer” meal of all time. It has sweet corn. It’s a soup. It’s light, but warm with a hint of spice – perfect for one of those half-cool evenings when you don’t want chili yet, but gazpacho is so last month.  I’m telling you, it’s good. I hope you think so too.

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

2 large ears of sweet corn

2 tbps butter

3/4 cup half and half (I use non-fat)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

Directions

Shuck the corn. Start heating a pot of water while you’re doing this.

Boil the corn. This takes about 5 minutes, if the water is at a rolling boil when you add the corn. The corn should have turned golden-yellow.

After removing it and allowing it to cool a little, cut the kernels from the corn. Set aside 1/4 cup of the kernels.

Now, blend it all up. Add (most of) the corn kernels, half and half, and seasonings to a food processor. Blend it until it’s smooth. It may take a little while (and/or a serious food processor).

Transfer to a pot on the stove. Heat the soup, adding the butter and remaining whole kernels while stirring.

Serve and enjoy! What do you think?

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*just a little disclaimer – this is what happens when you don’t blend it quite well enough. Still very tasty, but I promise you want to make it smooth.

 

 

Limoncello Gin Fizz

The summer between my junior and senior year of college, I had the amazing privilege of studying abroad in Florence, Italy. If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend it. That summer (which was longer ago than I like to think about!), I first discovered limoncello, among Italy’s other wonders. Limoncello, just so we’re clear, is a lemon liqueur traditionally produced in Southern Italy. It makes light, just-sweet-enough summer cocktails. And thankfully, unlike lots of other Italian treasures, you can find limoncello in the U.S., just about anywhere that sells other liqueurs.

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This spring, whilst on the quest for a perfectly curated home bar, I rediscovered my love for limoncello. Although in Italy it’s usually consumed as an digestivo (after dinner drink) that’s allegedly meant to aid digestion, it works quite well in American-style cocktails too. Here’s my current favorite cocktail, which I like to pretend is totally original but is really very similar something you’ll find around the internet called a “lemon gin fizz.”

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Ingredients (makes 1 serving)

2 oz gin

3 oz limoncello

splash (approx. 1 oz) club soda

Directions

Glass + ice: I prefer this drink stirred, not shaken, although I don’t have a good scientific reason for it. For some reason, I think the sweetness of the limoncello comes through a little more when it hasn’t been shaken up. If you decide to follow my lead, you can skip using a shaker, and just start with a highball glass. Fill the glass about half of the way up with ice (if you’re using an 8 oz. glass).

Add the liquids: Dump them right on in! Club soda last, so you don’t spoil the fizz.

Now, stir. And enjoy!

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What do you think? Refreshing, isn’t it?

 

Sweet Salsa Topped Salmon

Welcome to my FIRST POST EVER at Hummus and Honey! Thanks for reading!

It’s been a crazy journey that led me to starting a food blog (okay, not THAT crazy, but not not-crazy). To be honest, I don’t really know where this will go. Sometimes I have big plans for it, and other times I doubt it will last out the year. What I do know is that cooking – creatively, with fresh ingredients – is something that makes me happy, and I’m excited to see what the future holds. But for now, I’ll just share what lunch held for me today.

Sweet salsa topped salmon, or, more accurately, nectarine-basil-red pepper topped salmon. The topping doesn’t really deserve to be called a salsa, but it made a yummy accompaniment for the pan-seared salmon. The crisp veggie-ness (note to self: find a more descriptive, real adjective) of the red bell pepper mixed so nicely with the juicy sweetness of the nectarine. I finished it off with basil. Keep following my recipes if you’d like to know approximately ten thousand more ways to use basil (yeah…I put it in basically everything).

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I served it all over rice (white, shame on me for not having brown in the pantry) with a little salsa verde to keep it all super-moist. I was tempted to opt for baby spinach, instead, but didn’t want it to turn into some kind of strange, salmon salad. Someone will have to try it sometime, and report back!

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Ingredients (serves 2)

1 nectarine

1/2 red bell pepper

3-4 large basil leaves

1 tbsp olive oil

2 salmon fillets

1 cup long grain white rice

1/4 cup salsa verde (optional, to moisten the rice – use store-bought or try this easy recipe… but go easy on the cilantro so it doesn’t overpower the basil!)

 Directions

Start the rice: Follow the instructions on whatever kind of rice you’re using, but count on this needing to cook-down while you’re prepping everything else.

Pan-sear the salmon: Heat the oil in a flat-bottomed pan until it starts to smoke. The key to pan-searing is high heat, but if the oil smokes too much it means the pan is too hot, and the inside of the salmon won’t have time to cook at all before the outside burns. Once it’s hot, place the fillets in the pan. I generally sear on one side for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for the same amount of time.

Make the topping: While the salmon and rice are cooking, chop the nectarine and pepper into small pieces (reminder: you’ll only need half of the pepper for this recipe). Mine were roughly 1/2 inch squares, but you can do bigger or small pieces to preference. Chop up the basil as well; I like to try to do this in narrow strips (I think it mixes in better than wider slices), but sometimes that’s easier said than done. Mix this all together.

Put it all together: If you time it correctly, as I accidentally did, the rice and salmon should both be done about the same time, just as you’ve finished stirring up the “salsa.” Mix the salsa verde into the rice, before dishing it. Top with the salmon, then the nectarine-pepper-basil mixture. I saved a few little basil leaves for garnish, too.

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Voila! Super easy, made from ingredients that might just be sitting in your fridge without a purpose, and surprisingly tasty (I expected it to be good, but really, it exceeded my expectations). I hope you enjoy it too!

If you liked this (or didn’t, but want to give me a second chance – please do) check back in a few days for another peak into my kitchen!