Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tahini Sauce for Vegetables & Pilafs

(I'm no longer posting on this blog - enjoy the recipe but if you want to see what I'm up to, visit me here.)

Sometimes I get really sick of eating my veggies in the same old ways: salads with vinaigrette, crudites (have I told you how much I hate that word?) with hummus, or just plain. I love my veggies and I eat lots of them but sometimes I want them to taste like they're terrible for me! I want them to taste indulgent! Taste like they could be drenched in butter or covered in cheese and bacon! . . .But I don't really want to cover them in any of those things so I make a sesame tahini based dipping sauce to use when I have that urge.

No, it's not diet food. I'd be lying if I told you it was low calorie but it's still healthy. Tahini, the main ingredient here is made from sesame seeds which are pretty fatty. However, the fat in Tahini is the monounsaturated kind, the good fat, and it's also loaded with calcium, magnesium and iron. So you can enjoy all the deliciousness of tahini without feeling bad (provided you don't sit down and eat it with a spoon!).

Try this sauce on raw veggies, steamed veggies, roasted veggies, as a salad dressing or stir into pilafs, and other grain dishes that need a little boost. It's rich, sweet, garlicky and creamy all at the same time. Let me know what you think!


1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

This is the most complicated recipe ever. I had to warn you. It will take all day to make so make sure you set aside 8-10 hours to prepare it. HAHA. Just kidding. Toss everything into a bowl and wwhisk until well blended. Serve. Yum!

I'm heading off to Cape Cod until Tuesday so don't expect any posts from me until after that! I actually have the whole week off (yay!) but have family coming to visit from AZ so I'm not sure how much time I'll have online. It won't kill me to get away from the computer for a few days . . .

All text and photographs (except where noted otherwise) © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Overcoming Fears of Baking with Yeast: Bagels

Of all the breakfast foods out there, bagels are the one that have my heart. Sure, I dig into a bowl of steel cut oats or yogurt & fiber one most days but if I'm feeling naughty, it's a big fat toasted bagel (preferably garlic or everything, or anything that stinks! haha) slathered with an inch of cream cheese that I go for. Well maybe not a whole inch of cream cheese, but close!

I've wanted to make bagels for as long as I can remember but have been afraid to even try since I have about as much experience working with yeast as I have with building houses (i.e. none) House building seems like so much work and seems to have slightly more consequences if you screw up so in comparison, making bagels actually seems pretty easy! Plus, there are no slivers with bagel making!

I've stumbled over lots of yummy looking bagel recipes on blogs over the last few months but ultimately decided to follow a wonderful bagel recipe I found posted at Thibeault's Table, particularly because of her beautiful and easy to follow step by step pictorial on making them. It made all the difference! Here's the page with the actual recipe I used.

I ended up making an assortment of bagels: garlic, onion, everything, asiago cheese, poppyseed, sesame and even a plain one. I used dried minced garlic and onion (the kind you find in the spice aisle) and for the cheese bagels, I mixed a little bit of grated asiago with grated parmesan and it worked pretty well (just make sure to grate your own cheese of course!). The recipe is originally for 48 mini bagels but I made about 15 normal sized ones. I like me a big bagel!

Two things I will do differently the next time I make them: #1, add a little salt to my toppings. Bakery bagels always have a salty bite to them and these didn't. I think there is plenty of salt in the recipe but a little coarse seas salt tossed on towards the end of baking would be nice. #2, watch my bagels more closely when boiling. J and I had a couple cocktails while doing our baking on Saturday (J made pretzels while I made bagels. Adorable!) and definitely didn't focus on timing as much as I probably should have! (It's also why my pictures get progressively blurrier)

Anyhow, these came out great and were so much easier than I thought they'd be! I'm no longer afraid of working with yeast and am plotting my next baking adventure. Try these-you'll be impressed with yourself too!

All text and photographs (except where noted otherwise) © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Basic Bagels on Foodista

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's Finally Farmer's Market Season in NH!


Another reason (besides warm weather, bbq's and vacations) to celebrate this time of year: Farmers Markets are finally open! In NH, most open in late May and late June and run through September and October. It's unfortunate that our growing season isn't longer than it is but the farmers in this state still manage to produce an amazing array of vegetables, fruits, jams, breads, cheeses and other artisanal products! The farmer's market in Milford, NH opens up this weekend on June 20th. They have a new location this year (bummer for me since I used to be able to walk to the old location) and you can find all the details if you are a local here.

I'm psyched to be able to pick up fresh veggies that were grown just a few miles away, instead of having been shipped across thousands of miles (which lowers nutrient content and increases greenhouse emissions and makes me sad). Plus fresh just tastes better. Yes, I'm trying to grow a few things of my own but until I actually own a plot of land worth digging into, farmers' markets are the best way for me to get my fill.

Here are some resources if you're looking for a market near you (US only, sorry!):

For a PDF list of other NH locations and all their details (including days and hours open, contact info etc) click here.

Another great website to search for farmers markets, farm stands and other local products no matter what state you live in is local harvest.

Happy eating!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Eggs Benedict Caprese on Grilled French Bread (with Cheddar Bechamel)

(I'm no longer posting on this blog - enjoy the recipe but if you want to see what I'm up to, visit me here.)

I think I've mentioned before I'm not so hot when it comes to cooking breakfast. Most of the time the meal for me consists of greek yogurt and whole grain cereal or a bagel with veggie cream cheese. Maybe some steel cut oats if I have 20 minutes. Low maintenance and light workload. Frankly, I'm not awake enough in the morning to put together anything else. But on the rare occasion that I've gotten enough sleep and have some time to kill, I will try to make something special of the meal. It's not always successful, haha, but this particular one was.

I had some leftover french bread yesterday that I wanted to use up and when checking on my little plants outside, I saw that my basil and chives were thriving and I wanted to eat some right away. So the plan was to poach some eggs, grill the bread and top with tomatoes and basil and make a cheddar bechamel sauce. My first time poaching eggs actually! And they were much easier than I thought they'd be! My clumsy oxen-like movements didn't break the yolks so I think you could handle it too. This came out delicious and despite the bechamel sauce, is not nearly as high calorie as you think. The same type of meal at a breakfast restaurant would run you about 900 calories-mine is only going to cost you abou 580. Not saying that 580 is low calorie, haha, but it's a feat of amazment considering I'm covering the eggs with butter, cheese and milk. Now stop drooling and go make some yourself.

After eating it, J said "Shit, I guess I should marry you." Maybe I should change the name to "Marry me Eggs". He knows he has a good thing.

Serves 2 (but enough bechamel for 4)


For the grilled bread
8-10 inches of fresh french bread
olive oil (optional
kosher salt

4 large basil leaves
2 ripe roma tomatoes, sliced
olive oil (optional)

For the poached eggs

4 eggs
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
dash of kosher salt

For the Bechamel (makes about 1 cup)
2 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup 1% milk
couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce
couple pinches of dry mustard
kosher salt to taste

Heat a stove top grill pan over medium high heat. If you don't have one, you certainly can grill the bread on a gas or charcoal grill but I don't do well over open flame (yet!) so I can't give you directions there! Cut french bread in half, and then split each half as if it were a sandwich roll. When the pan is hot, place the four pieces of french bread on the grill, soft side down. Grill bread for 3-4 minutes and remove when desired color is achieved. Season with kosher salt and drizzle with a little olive oil (if desired).

While your bread is grilling, fill a saucepan half way with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of vinegar (the vinegar helps the egg to keep it's shape). Crack each egg separately into a small cup or bowl and then poach eggs one at a time by pouring them into the center of the simmering (not boiling) water. Use a wooden spoon to gently loosen the sides of the egg from the bottom of the pan if necessary but be careful not to nudge too much. They're very delicate. Cook each for 2-5 minutes depending on how runny you like your eggs. If you're feeling nervous about whether you're doing it right, check out some video's on youtube on how to poach an egg. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. If you are making eggs for a large group and and your first eggs get cold, just drop them back into the hot water for a couple of seconds to reheat.

If you're a good multitasker, while your eggs are poaching away, melt the 1.5 tablespoons of butter over medium low heat. Add the tablespoon of flour and stir continuously to incorporate. Raise heat to medium and cook flour and butter until a golden brown (4 or 5 minutes). In a separate sauce pan or in the microwave in a large bowl, heat 1 cup of milk until hot but not boiling. Slowly add the hot milk to the butter and flour roux , whisking the entire time until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened (5 or 6 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in 2 oz of grated cheddar cheese (grate it yourself, don't buy pre-grated if you can), the Worcestershire sauce and a hearty pinch of dry mustard. Season with kosher salt.
Place two pieces of grilled bread on two plates, top each piece of bread with 1 large basil leaf, two slices of roma tomatoes (and a drizzle of olive oil if you want to be true to the caprese style) and a poached egg. Spoon about two tablespoons of bechamel onto each egg. Add a twist of freshly ground black pepper and chives to garnish (optional of course!).
Use the leftover bechamel for pasta or just to dip extra bread in. I'm so excited about how this came out! Expect to see more attempts at breakfast foods in the future. :)

All text and photographs (except where noted otherwise) © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley
Eggs Benedict on Foodista

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Nostalgic Kitchen: Beef Stroganoff

When I was in college and missed my Mother's home cooking, Beef Stroganoff was one of the meals that always came to mind. Noodles, a creamy sauce and meat-how could it not be a comfort food?! A couple of years ago, my youngest sister let me borrow my Mom's recipe tin so I could copy her recipes (typed and laminated like the dork that I am) and Beef Stroganoff was the first one I rushed out to recreate. I have modified her recipe a little because originally it called for things like margarine (it was the 80's after all) and boullion cubes and I don't use either.

There were ingredients I had to leave in even though some might think it's kind of weird for them to be in a stroganoff. Or at least that's what J tells me (and I guess I haven't seen them in other recipes for the dish either so I guess that confirms it). I use ground beef instead of pieces and cook a green bell pepper with the onions and mushrooms. I don't even like green peppers but it's how my Mom made the dish when were were kids and it's how I remember it so the peppers and ground beef stay!

You can substitute ground chicken or turkey for the beef and use lower fat dairy products if you want to lighten up the fat and calorie content. I also use whole wheat egg noodles to add a little extra nutrition. I love how so many pasta makers are making different varieties of whole grain and whole wheat pasta these days. It makes eating pasta way less of an indulgence (or at least that's what I tell myself!). Enjoy!

Serves 4

1/3 cup butter or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped*
12 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
1 clove minced garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup low sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup light sour cream or 1/2 cup heavy cream (I prefer the sour cream route!)
3/4 package of egg noodles
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
fresh parlsey (optional)

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter or oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium low heat and add onions, peppers and mushrooms when the butter is melted. Cook until the mushrooms are browned and the onions are slightly soft. Cook the garlic with the vegetables for the last minute of cooking. Remove from pan and set aside. While the vegetables are cooking, fill a large pot with water, salt and bring to a boil. Cook your noodles according to the package directions.

Roll the ground beef in the 2 tablespoons of flour and add the remaining butter to the pan. When the butter is hot, saute the beef until browned and then add the mushrooms, peppers and onion back to the pan. Add the beef stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and kosher salt and black pepper to taste and cook for a few more minutes. Sir in the sour cream (or heavy cream if using) and remove from heat. Stir in the noodles or serve the stroganoff over the noodles depending on your preference. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

As a side note, if the sauce seems to soupy before you stir in the sour cream (it will thicken if you choose to stir in the noodles), add a tsp of corn starch and cook for a couple of minutes and then add the sour cream and serve. As the dish cools the sauce will firm up as well.

All text and photographs (except where noted otherwise) © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Beef Stroganoff on Foodista

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My Patio Tomato Plants and Herbs

Woohoo, hit Ponemah Farms in Amherst, NH today and picked up a couple of plants for my "patio", ahem, I really mean doorstep! I got 1 patio tomato plant, two sungold cherry tomato plants, chives and a basil plant. I'm no gardener but I attempted to grow a whole bunch of plants on my doorstep the first year I moved in with J and failed miserably. My tomato plants got blight and my habanero plants were infested by Japanese beetles, my thyme and rosemary lasted a long time but eventually were attacked by beetles too (not sure why there were so many beetles that year, it's not like we normally get a ton here!). I was bummed and hadn't tried to grow anything since but I decided that this year was time to try again because there's nothing like a homegrown tomato! Of course, as a renter, I can't really plant in the ground at my complex, so I've got all of them outside on the doorstep. Someday I'll have the room for a big garden!

I'm super psyched about the sungold plants. When I lived in Portsmouth with friends, two of them maintained a small vegetable garden and I remember going out and just picking the juicy orange tomatoes off the vine and eating them like candy. I'm not positive that they were sungold because there are other sweet orange cherry tomatoes out there but either way they were fabulous and I really hope I get a decent amount of fruit from them!

I completely goofed and thought I had some large planters in the closet here (from my last failed attempt) but I must have tossed them because they're nowhere to be found and my sungold plants are stuck in tiny little terra cotta planters until I can pick up some larger ones. Will try to do that this week.

Anyhow, I'll try to post pictures as they grow. Wish me luck!

All text and photographs (except where noted otherwise) © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Strawberry, Red Onion, and Baby Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dresing

(I'm no longer posting on this blog - enjoy the recipe but if you want to see what I'm up to, visit me here.)

Still recovering from Nashville, haha! Posting, cleaning house and everything else has been put on the back burner. Luckily, I slept in quite late today and am feeling so much better. I was a zombie at work all week. I just can't party and not sleep at 31, like I could at 21. ha!

Anyhow, are you sick of salads yet? Not me! I ate like a bear preparing to hibernate all winter long (and for some of the spring!) so I'm all about eating more of my veggies and less of the heavy stuff (but watch, next week I'll post something incredibly fattening-it's just my nature so roll with it). Trying to shed the pounds I've gained and increase my energy and I find that eating a variety of salads helps me do that.

A couple of years ago, a woman named Sandra that I waitressed with had made a big salad with strawberries and poppy seed dressing and brought it into work. She had so much of it that she insisted I take some home and try it. At the time, I wasn't a big fan of fruit in my salads so I was a little hesitant but of course that has changed, and I was actually delighted with the combination. So I haven't talked to Sandra in awhile (which reminds me, I totally owe her a call! I'm so bad with returning phone calls!), I do make a similar strawberry and poppy seed dressing salad now and it makes me think of her every time.

This salad will only take you about 10 minutes to make but the dressing definitely tastes better and has more flavor if you let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two. I recommend making it the day before it you can-but it certainly isn't necessary!


For the salad

1 lb of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled & sliced
1 medium sized red onion, quartered & sliced*
7-8 oz of washed baby spinach

For the poppy seed dressing

3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon of light mayo
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion *
3 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon of dried parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh
kosher salt to taste
a few dashes of garlic powder**
1/2 cup olive oil

*You can reserve one of the quarters of red onion and finely dice it to be used in the dressing.*

Place the baby spinach, red onion and strawberries in a large bowl or serving dish. In a medium sized bowl, add all dressing ingredients except for olive oil and whisk together. ** I used garlic powder here, rather than real garlic because I don't want a strong garlic presence in this dressing. Raw garlic would probably overpower the dressing. I like garlic in almost everything but I know there are others who don't!** When the dressing starts to combine, slowly whisk in the olive oil until well blended. (Feel free to do this in a blender or food processor too!). Pour desired amount of dressing over the spinach, strawberries and onion and toss until the dressing is worked through.

Voila, you are ready to serve! I like to add some raw almonds and bean sprouts and eat it for lunch or bbq some boneless chicken breasts and serve for dinner. Yum!

Well, I'm working at the restaurant tonight (last scheduled shift actually! decided to finally give it up after 11+ years of it. My weekends will be all MINE now!) and then the rest of the weekend is open. J is in Jersey visiting the fam and dropping little bro off at Princeton for a summer work/study program (smart kid!) so I'll probably spend sunday on a bike ride and doing things around the house. Happy Saturday folks!

All text and photographs (except where noted otherwise) © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm a Judgemental Priss & Nashville Rocked my Ass!

Oh Nashville!

Sorry for the delay in posting anything about my trip or any new recipes! We got home late Monday night and I feel like I've been playing catch up ever since. Thanks for all the comments while I was away!

While I was looking forward to getting away from work and my daily routine at home and excited to spend quality time with my friends, I have to admit that I wasn't completely psyched about going to Nashville. It just wasn't on my list of places I really wanted to visit and since I don't get to travel too often, I felt I should be spending my travel dollars elsewhere. Combine that lack of enthusiasm with a serious dislike of country western music and you have a grumpy and close minded traveling companion.

Anyhow, I'm happy to say that Nashville completely surprised me and I loved it! Walking down the street at any time of day or night, music blares out of some pretty chill bars that line Broadway and 2nd Ave. Bluegrass, Cajun, Blues, Rockabilly, Classic Country and Rock and Roll. I hardly heard actual country western at all. It was a nice surprise!

Except for our night at the Grand Ole Opry, we didn't leave the immediate vicinity of our hotel and Broadway much. I thought we would be sick of such a small radius by the third day but we weren't. There was always a shop we hadn't popped into or a bar we hadn't experienced. We walked, we ate, we drank, we swam, we spent money, we listened, we danced and we laughed. And we certainly didn't sleep enough. I ate ribs, mac and cheese and cole slaw at Jacks BBQ, ordered room service and ate a late breakfast at the hotel, danced till 3am with a rockabilly band at Roberts Western World and basically just fell in love with the town and the people! I heart Nashville!

I didn't get to see the caves or visit any wineries but I don't regret keeping things a little less planned. It was nice to have no obligations or a set schedule for a few days!

Here's a sample of my pictures:

The lobby of our hotel- The Hilton Downtown Nashville. We got a great rate and it was a prime location. The staff was super helpful and the hotel was nice!

Dinner at Merchants Restaurant - I had the Southern Chicken Cordon Bleu which was a pecan crusted chicken breast stuffed with ham and swiss cheese in a creamy dijon sage sauce. It was served with sauteed spinach and Andouille sausage grit cakes. YUM!!! Our waiter was a little distracted and unfriendly but the food was great and we got to sit outside which is always nice! First time having grits and really, it tastes just like polenta!Here is Steve Martin debuting at the Grand Ole Opry on his banjo. It was kind of a cool experience. The Opry is actually a radio show (sort of like Prairie Home Companion) and each guest is only on the stage for a couple of minutes and then they introduce a new guest. Amy Grant and Vince Gill came out and did a song with Steve Martin but I didn't recognize any of the other performers. It was fun. The coolest part was that they let you go right up to the stage to take pictures. No venue ever lets you do that! It was a part of the trip I didn't think I cared about but I honestly had a good time and enjoyed it!On Sunday we grabbed lunch at Demos' Restaurant. The bouncer from Tootsie's Orchid Lounge recommended it. Here is a picture of the House Bread. They're "famous" for the bread as our waiter Shane (who was adorable and seriously bent over backwards to make a good impression) told us. Baskets of soft, buttery pillows of bread that were dusted with parmesan cheese were refilled repeatedly through the meal. We barely had room for our lunch!I had the Ribeye Sandwich which was served on homemade toasted bun with lettuce and pickles. I asked for a side of green beans as my side dish thinking it was healthier than the baked potato but obviously I had a momentary lapse of memory! I'm in the south, of course all vegetables are cooked with bacon! haha! There is no such thing as healthy food in this town! The sandwich also came with a choice of soup or salad. All of this food for less than $8 (not including tax)! Insane. It was actually a pretty good meal and a ton of food for the price. We were really shocked when we saw how low our bill was. We kept thinking Shane forgot to put something on the bill! Oh, I didn't get a picture of it (because I get shy taking food pictures in public still) but if you are ever there try Jim's Famous Spinach and ask for chips to go with it. It's a spinach dip that is mostly spinach yet somehow tastes like pure butter and cheese. Delicious.Me trying to line dance at Wildhorse. Great bar! It's enormous and everyone dances! It was so much fun we stopped by two different nights and took a line dancing lesson one of the nights (very little country music the nights were were there it was a ton of 80's like Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi! haha!). My line dancing didn't get any better with a lesson. I have two left feet.
So, Nashville, I take back my original prejudices about you! This town rocked! I have no complaints and I plan to happily go back! It's a great town to party in and listen to music!

Here are a few more pics for you.

RIGHT: The Country Music Hall of Fame (across from our Hotel)

LEFT: The view from the corner of Broadway and 5th Ave.
BELOW: our mechanical bull friend from Cadillac Ranch. Skip the ranch except for bull riding in my opinion!

BELOW: Taylor, a cute Cowboy performing at Tootsies Orchid Lounge and a pic of me and 3 of my good girlfriends (I'm the blond on the right).

All text and photographs (except where noted otherwise) © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley