Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Happy Place

Life just doesn't get any better than this.

I'm sitting on my couch (in my finally clean house), watching DVR episodes of "Barefoot Contessa" with my cookbooks and food magazines strewn about my living room, plotting the cooking escapades I'll have this weekend. happy place.

It's true. I am positively giddy to make my list and inspect all the delicious, delectable goodies at Whole Foods and Costco and Publix. (Are "they" sure there isn't a condition I have?)

To make matters more exciting, I just watched a clip of The Pioneer Woman on "Good Morning America" and read all about her experience on her blog. I want to be Ree. Seriously.

(BTW - Why do the men in the Hamptons wear corduroys with embroidered frogs or bees or whatever? Sorry, distracting moment on this BC episode.)

While the past month has been crazy busy, I did manage to whip up a couple yummy meals. One of my favorite standbys is couscous salad. It's easy, you can put basically anything in it, and it's light and healthy. I tried a Mediterranean version this time.

I had some frozen shrimp on hand and a bunch of my favorite veggies: cherry tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, peppers and scallions. Add some feta cheese, olives, fresh herbs and citrus zest/juice and viola! Here is the recipe I used, but it really can be modified with anything you have on hand. (Oh, I love love love to put rotisserie chicken in too.)

Mediterranean Couscous Salad with Shrimp

12-15 frozen, precooked shrimp, thawed
1 package of couscous (I use whole wheat or plain)
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
2 scallions, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/3 cup feta cheese
1 can cannelleni beans, drained and rinsed

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or more if you like)
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (or more if you like)
2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/4 - 1/3 Cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon sugar

  1. Cook couscous according to package directions. Place in large bowl and set aside.
  2. Chop the veggies and add them to the couscous with the olives, feta, beans and shrimp.
  3. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl, whisking until combined.
  4. Pour dressing over the couscous mixture and toss until coated.
  5. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate!

I'm back! Life has been a bit hectic the past month, but I am back and ready to heat up the kitchen again...

Valentine's Day is one of my very favorite holidays. Of course, red is my favorite color, and who doesn't love a good piece of chocolate and a nice glass of wine? This year, instead of buying some of those insanely overpriced, way-too-small store-bought chocolates, I made my own chocolate truffles to share with the ones I love. O-M-G.

If you've never made them, you're missing out. Watching the chocolate melt with the heavy cream until it is silky and shiny gives me goosebumps. Then, after it's cooled and hardened a bit in the fridge, getting my melon baller out and scooping the perfectly rounded drops of chocolate heaven onto the parchment paper excites me to no end. (I'm not sure why, but the melon baller could very well be my favorite kitchen tool.)

Then comes the best part: rolling the chocolate scoops into balls in your hands and dipping them in all kinds of goodies...nuts, sugar, name it.

Serve these delicious treats to your guests, and they'll go crazy. I promise.

I wonder if Mr. Right likes truffles???

Chocolate truffles

(inspired from a recipe in my Joy of Cooking cookbook)

(*use the best chocolate chips you can afford; I used Ghirardelli)

6 oz. milk chocolate chips*
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips*
1 1/4 Cups of heavy whipping cream
1/4 Cup of orange liqueur
1 Tablespoon of brewed coffee


Put all the ingredients in a glass bowl and melt, stirring frequently, over a pot of simmering water until chocolate is melted and is smooth and shiny.

Remove from heat and let the chocolate cool to room temperature.

Place the bowl in the refrigerator to harden (about 3-4 hours).

Use a melon baller to scoop the chocolate into balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.

Place chocolate truffles in the refrigerator to harden a bit more (about 1-2 hours).

Remove the truffles from the refrigerator, roll them between your hands into round balls and coat them with desired toppings. I like to use colored sprinkles, powdered sugar, chopped nuts and cocoa powder.