Monday, August 31

have you tried greek yogurt?

This summer, through various sources, I heard all about the wonders of Greek yogurt. It's strained differently so it's thicker while still having fat free options, and it's packed with protein. This week I've been enjoying the plain version and putting diced up fruit in it. I have the blueberry in my refrigerator waiting for lunch tomorrow. Check it out:

5.3 ounces of Stoneyfeild Farm's Oikos blueberry flavor has 120 calories 13 grams of protein. The plain version of the same size has 90 calories and 16 grams of protein which is a whopping 32% daily value of protein.
Fage is another brand that's a few cents more expensive at my local HEB. They carry both of these at the HEBs and Randalls near me, in addition to a few other brands. If you can't find them at a "normal" grocery story, I wager you won't regret the trip to a nearby Central Market or Whole Foods.

You can't get much more nutritious than that, and I think they're pretty yummy as well!

Thursday, August 27

rosemary brie parmesan scones & friends

Wow I can't believe I left those ugly chicken bags on the top for over a week! Ick! Forgive my blog neglect. School and volleyball coaching have both started, and I have hundreds {literally} of papers I should currently be grading. Rather, I blog.
Here are some variations of my basic {and still favorite scone}. When adding juices and zest, add them to the liquid part --the sour cream and egg mixture. Basically mix wet and dry separately. I'm fairly certain this is basic tenet in cooking. I, however, did this incorrectly and so my cranberry orange scones were less than ideal, pictured here in this first attempt. Just not as crispy. Dough was very gooey.

Aren't you thankful I mess up basic tenets so I can pass on wisdom to you? The explanation for my error, that I won't burden you with, involves a long saga of double and a halving a recipe, yes, "double and a half," and then thirding it.

Regardless, do these right and you'll be obsessed. Add more or less of anything according to your preferences.

recommended variations on this recipe
::cranberry orange::
{add to wet ingredients}
1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries chopped, food processor recommended
2 T orange zest
2 T fresh squeezed o.j.

::rosemary brie and parmesan::
{add to dry ingredients}
1/2 cup grated brie and parmesan {reduced fat brie is very easy to grate}
1 - 2 tsp. chopped rosemary

::sweet citrus::
{add to wet ingredients}
2 T. orange zest
1 T. lemon zest
1 T. lemon juice
use at least 1/3 cup sugar, see recipe
sprinkle extra sugar on top before baking.

::almond spice::
{add to dry}
1/3 c. crushed or sliced almonds
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. all spice
1/4 t. nutmeg
{add to wet ingredients}
1/2 t. almond extract

I make no promises about vittles' fall prospects. Sadly, vittles may be sparse until mid-October.

Taylor accepts sympathy in the form of Mr. Gatti's and Chipotle gift cards.

Monday, August 17

cooking in small portions

This attractive picture is that of a de-meated rotisserie chicken. An entire cooked chicken for $6.99 at HEB or $4.99 at Costco. Each baggie has about a cup of meat and will be frozen in a larger, dated ziploc bag.So I can grab an individual baggie from the freezer and make a fresh pasta or summer salad for one or both of us. Easily adding tasty, sometimes even flavored chicken without cooking enough meat for a family of 5.

Thursday, August 13

rosemary roasted potatoes

Do you live in Texas? Are there plants growing around where you live? Chances are you have rosemary growing nearby. I think since it's very resilient and stays green despite droughts, many neighborhoods have rosemary planted all over the place. Our apartment complex certainly has about a dozen gigantic rosemary bushes that I smell all the way up to my walk to the pool. So I found this recipe in a new Tapas book I got and walked out my front door with a pair of scissors. 90 seconds to free and fresh rosemary.
rosemary roasted potatoes
5 "old" potatoes {the white small ones, the size of new potatoes but not red skinned}
the leaves from 1 large sprig of rosemary, finely chopped {about 3 teaspoons}
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 small scallion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
Oven to 400. Cover roasting pan with foil. Spray with cooking spray. Skin potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces, and toss with all remaining ingredients in mixing bowl. Pour into roasting pan. Pour or spread with spatula any remaining liquid, onions, etc. from the bowl over the potatoes.

Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes. Stir in the middle but not necessary -- I like one really brown and crispy side rather than a couple lightly crisped sides. Remove from oven and make a pocket over the potatoes with the foil. Allow to sit about 4 minutes. Dump into serving bowl.

I've found that creating that foil pocket for roasted vegetables to cool in allows the moisture to gather and makes it easier to remove the veggies along with their crispy sides, rather than scraping them off the foil and sacrificing that crispy side while it sticks to the foil. But. To each his own.

Don't worry about the neighbors when you go boldly snip your rosemary. Some may realize and admire your genius...and bravery. And don't forget to wash it.

Monday, August 10

steak salad

Hey look! A man salad.
This was a great summer dinner that kept Taylor feeling he'd been heartily cooked for and involved a tasty little portion of red meat that I didn't mind eating. {read: not ground beef}

steak salad
serves 2
3/4 lb strip steak
2 heaping cups arugula
2 heaping cups baby spinach
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 to 1/3 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup red bell peppers, diced
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
red wine vinaigrette dressing {recipe below}
cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Heat skillet to high heat. Season steak generously with Worcestershire sauce and cracked pepper and rub in to both sides. Add steak to skillet and cook about 2 minutes on each side, until internal temperature reaches around 130 degrees. Transfer to cutting board and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes. While meat is resting, divide vegetables evenly among two rimmed plates and toss with desired amount of dressing and seasoning salt.

Cut meat into thin strips, trimming as desired, and then cut each strip in half. Top tossed salads with steak.

red wine vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Add all ingredients together and whisk in the oil.

I served this with some roasted "old" potatoes, kind of a twist on steak and potatoes, but it probably would have been better with some good, toasted crusty bread.

Friday, August 7

baby molten chocolate cakes

I have yet to figure out where these have been all my life. MAN they were good. I hope you have custard cups. Mine came with my Pyrex set and I think they're around 6 ounces. You can probably pick up some Anchor brand version on your next trip to the grocery store.

Do not be deterred! Make these!!
Another reason this was awesome was that it only required one bowl and minimal clean up. Great for a weeknight dessert when you don't want to bother with messing the kitchen up after dinner.
Oh and I made whipped cream. So easy and so tasty. Whipping cream stays good longer than milk, I discovered. I had about a cup sitting around from a quiche experiment with Ellen and it still had weeks left to live.
Reason number three why these were fantastic was that the recipe makes individual portions. Great for serving guests or easily saving for another day.
baby molten chocolate cakes
from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
yields 4 cakes
4 pieces (squares) Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
½ cups Butter
1 cup Powdered Sugar
2 whole Eggs
2 whole Egg Yolks
6 tablespoons Flour
2 cups Real Whipping Cream {seriously, please do this}
2 tablespoons Sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 4 custard cups with cooking spray and place on cookie sheet.
Microwave chocolate and butter in large bowl on high for about 1 minute, until butter is melted. whisk until chocolate is also melted.
Stir in sugar until well blended.
Whisk in eggs and egg yolks. Stir in flour. Divide between cups.
Bake 13-15 minutes until sides are firm and center is soft. Let stand 1 minute.

Combine sugar and heavy cream and whip until stiff. {I made half of what was called for and it was plenty}

Invert cakes on dishes and top with whipped cream.

Leftovers! Perfect for a little taste of sweetness sometime tomorrow. This was rich enough that neither of us finished our little serving.

Wednesday, August 5

orzo pasta with chicken, peppers and arugula

I'd never had, much less made anything with orzo pasta. I really liked it, and a little bit goes a long way. One serving size is 1/2 of a cup dry and I found that, once cooked very satisfying. I also liked that I could buy exactly the amount I wanted in HEB's bulk section and only pay a dollar and some change. That section is great when I need a little special ingredient but don't want to buy a large portion of it; or if I want to try something new --like orzo!
This is a great base for any veggies you have sitting around. I've been into arugula and have been finding tons of places in which to throw it. Definitely toast the pine nuts.

orzo pasta with chicken and arugula
{serves 4}
2 T. olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 of a red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups arugula
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted*
1/8 to 1/4 cup lemon vinaigrette dressing**
*{toasting pine nuts: add to dry pot on medium heat, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and fragrant}

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add orzo pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. Add to large bowl with toasted pine nuts and set aside. I toasted the nuts in the same pot, once the pasta was finished.

While pasta is cooking, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into non-stick or cast iron skillet. Stir in onion, peppers and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, add garlic and cook 2 more minutes, stirring often. Increase heat to medium high, pour in white wine; cook about 3 minutes. Liquid should simmer and reduce significantly.
Reduce heat to low, stir in chicken and arugula. Cover, and cook to warm through, about 3 minutes. Uncover and stir until arugula is wilted. Add mixture to orzo and pine nuts and toss with dressing.

You may need a little less pasta than that and perhaps a bit more dressing. I plated ours and added the chicken, pepper, arugula mixture and dressing separately to each plate to be sure the proportions were right. Then tossed.

**{if you don't want to make my lemon vinaigrette, you can also toss this with about 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and a squirt of dijon mustard, or go a different route and do balsamic vinaigrette}

Monday, August 3

banana nut bran muffins

So sometimes my cooking tends to be a little haphazard.
frozen banana vs. knife: knife - 0 banana - 1

Oh! there's a glimpse of the oft maimed Vittles herself! My friend Kristen came to visit and play and brought her out-of-this-word camera. Don't get used to these pictures, friends. Because the Elph is loyal and has no hope of being replaced anytime in this decade.
... keep sifting. Savor the image quality.I added some banana and nuts to a basic bran recipe, I think next time I'll do a whole banana and cut the sugar to about a fourth of a cup.

banana bran muffins
yields 12 muffins
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons dark molasses {I substituted brown sugar... but will do molasses next time}
1/2 ripe banana
1/3 cup crushed almonds, walnuts or pecans
Oven to 400. Prep a muffin tin by spraying with cooking spray or lining with cups. Sift flour, bran, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until. smooth and light, about 3 minutes. Whisk milk, egg, molasses. Gradually add egg mixture while mixing and continue mixing until smooth. Stir flour mixture, banana and nuts into creamed butter mixture until batter is evenly blended, but do not overmix.

Fill muffin tin. Bake 16 - 18 minutes.

Great shots. Don't you think? Check her out on my side bar under "kwwisten's pics."

Sunday, August 2

lemon vinaigrette dressing

Homemade dressing is a pretty simple way to make a simple salad feel more special.
I tossed this dressing with arugula, chopped tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and feta cheese. It would be great poured over steamed asparagus or even as a light topping for a summer pasta.
lemon vinaigrette dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Whisk all ingredients in bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

{photos belongs to mharvey
75 and wineandchocolate}

Saturday, August 1


Wow. It's nearly been a week and I have nothing to show for it. What have I been doing with myself?
Nothing. Eating Hot Tamales and mourning my last days of summer before I have to be a crazed, working woman again.

So today, since I'm mourning the loss of my youth, today I leave you with this antiquated relic. Note the headphones, please.