Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vinaigrette for Green Salad - Ina Garten

My love for Ina Garten is probably known amongst my faithful readers, but if you're new to this blog, let me be blunt: If I had to choose between being Tina Fey or Ina Garten when I grew up ... I might have to be Ina. A) The woman is gorgeous and is not afraid to eat; B) She worked for the White House before she hung it up to own a speciality food store ... in the Hamptons and C) ... she's pretty damn universally adored. Oh ... and she's a good cook. Ina represents the more gourmet and expensive version of what Shelley Bakes aspires to be ... my motto is simple recipes for lazy people. Ina believes in puff pastry - she also preaches that you get what you buy (i.e. - spend a couple extra bucks for really good olive oil - you'll taste the difference). Although I probably won't attempt some of her recipes because they include ingredients that I cannot pronounce, the majority of her recipes are wonderful and basic.

This recipe was featured in a recent Ina episode called "Turning Up the Volume." The gist of the recipe was that she was leaving Jeffrey (her adorable husband) for the evening and that she was "turning up the volume" on some of his favorite foods. The recipe featured Lobster Pot Pie (which I soooooooo want to try some weekend when Ryan's gone); Vinaigrette for Green Salad and Super Chocolate Gelato (which I refuse to try because I'd eat all of it).

For Valentine's Day, Ryan and I ordered in pizza from Valentino's, drank some wine and I attempted the vinaigrette for a quick salad.

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic (I used a clove)
3 T champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
Salad greens or mesclun mix for 6 to 8 people

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Place the salad greens in a medium bowl and add enough dressing to moisten. Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.

When Ina made this in her episode, she made the vinaigrette at the bottom of her salad bowl and simply placed the greens on top until Jeffrey was ready to toss the salad. Just a note - use enough salad greens - I used some leftover romaine we had in the fridge and some baby spinach - if I would have been smart, I would have used the entire bag. There was a ton of dressing on the lettuce and it was a bit more dressed than I prefer.

I really liked this dressing. It tasted very fresh and I really love garlic, so it was right up my alley. Ryan was very brave at eating a bowl of this salad, he's a Caesar salad man so this was something of a stretch.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Check it out ...

My sister site - the original blog that I started - published its 600th post the other day and in celebration, I'm giving away a book. Check here for details.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Black Bean Hummus

Have I ever mentioned that I have a vague addiction to chickpeas? I can eat them straight out of the can (my preferred method after they're rinsed a bit), I can eat them lightly cooked and I can eat them in hummus (oddly, one of my least favorite ways to eat it because I suck at making hummus). My love for chickpeas/garbanzo beans knows no bounds.

I have a similar love for black beans, so when I stumbled across this recipe on, I had to make it. And of course, I didn't have some of the main ingredients, so I improvised.

Black Bean Hummus

1 14 oz. can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 14 oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed & drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (uh ... yeah ... I had to use one of those squeezy things of LIME juice that expired in 2007. Still good)
2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt (hrm ... didn't have that either, so I took a couple tablespoons of the cream on top of my large curd cottage cheese. Done and done.)
2 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder **(I omitted.)
salt and pepper to taste

I threw all of these things in my handy dandy food processor and pulsed it until it looked like an icky paste of goodness.

This is what I've been eating my hummus with ... bastardized quesadillas on corn tortillas with a hint of cheese (I'm on a diet ... which DOESN'T have to be boring!); my new favorite Kashi TLC 7-grain crackers and sliced cucumbers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Butter Almond Cake

Ryan and I had dinner plans with some friends of ours recently and I decided to bring dessert to the party. Problem was - a) I didn't have a lot of time and b) these are people I like to impress so I want it to be spectacular. Which lead to problem c) I couldn't find anything I really wanted to make.

But inspiration comes from the strangest places. I was catching up on one of my favorite frugal/finance blogs - Get Rich Slowly - and this recipe was in JD's post on how to have a frugal Valentine's Day. And after sampling this rich delicacy, I think this is going to become a go-to cake - because I always have the main ingredients in my pantry. And it literally takes 5 minutes to assemble.

Butter Almond Cake

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup real butter, melted (if you use margarine, this will taste like ass - just take my word for it.)
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)**
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (for garnish)**

**I omitted both. Because I felt like it.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and hell - line it with parchment paper because I had one hell of a time getting this cake out of the pan. With a mixer, blend together the sugar and melted butter. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat in. Stir in extracts. Add salt and flour and mix until everything is incorporated. Spread batter in the pan . Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown (it took me about 45 minutes ...). Cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan. I ended up topping this with some raspberry preserves ... fruit is very, very good with this dish. Unless you eat it out of the pan. Like Ryan and I might have done.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Lighter" Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Chicken and Wild Rice soup is something of a tradition in the Kubitz/Mahannah household. The Luther cafeteria always had it for Sunday brunch and after a hearty night of drinking, this was some sort of comfort food for my dear Ryan. I didn't try chicken and wild rice soup until much later in life and have found that it's damn tasty stuff.

I found this recipe on Recipezaar and the person who posted this adapted it from Cooking Light magazine. I added a twist of my own and could think of a couple other ways to tweak this recipe for the better.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Recipe

1 hour 15 min prep
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking wild rice (** I had some leftover cooked wild and brown rice in my fridge, so I just dumped it in - it was about 2 1/2 cups worth)
1 T. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 grated carrots
3 cups reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cubed peeled baking potatoes (that's about 2 large potatoes)
3 cups 2% low-fat milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
10 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups chopped roasted cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil - saute for about three minutes. Grate carrots into the mixture. Add broth and potato; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until potato is tender.

Combine milk and flour, stirring well with a whisk. Add the milk mixture to potato mixture; cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in rice, chicken, pepper, and salt. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

A couple of notes ... the original recipe called for 10 oz. of light processed cheese (think Velveeta Light), but I didn't have any on hand so I used sharp cheddar. Which since I'm trying to avoid processed food, I thought this was a good call. Also - I think that you could use 1% milk and get similar results and further reduce your fat content. One more thing - I think that you could put chopped celery in the soup as well for additional veg.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fear Conquered! Champagne Vinegar

Don't get me wrong - vinegar is a good friend of mine. From eating cucumbers soaked in white vinegar and sprinkled with sugar to a childhood trick of rinsing my freshly washed hair with vinegar, I try to have a bottle hanging around my kitchen (mostly for cleaning out the coffee pot). I actually have a couple bottles - some plain white vinegar and a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Well yesterday, I added another one to my pantry ... champagne vinegar.

According to the Cook's Thesaurus: "This light and mild vinegar is a good choice if you're want to dress delicately flavored salads or vegetables. Mix it with nut or truffle oil to make a sublime vinaigrette."

I bought champagne vinegar for a vinaigrette recipe that I saw on the Barefoot Contessa. Prior to watching that episode, I was kind of afraid of trying to make my own dressing. More about my dressing later, but for now champagne vinegar is a fear conquered.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Omnivore's 100

omnivore - noun - 1. a person who eats all kinds of foods; 2. an animal that feeds on both animal and vegetable substances.

I'm trolling food blogs this morning at the cab company and came across this list on Sweet Charity Pie's blog. I'm a little late on this phenomenon, but I decided to play anyway.

Here’s what you're supposed to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (I've italicized them)
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (the words black and pudding together kind of scare me)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (believe me ... it was not intentional)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst (this just sounds wrong)
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam (is it wrong that I LURVE Spam casserole? Topped with potato chips?)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Roasted Chickpeas

I've been on a health kick lately and was super excited when I saw this recipe for roasted chickpeas. Mostly because I love chickpeas. I eat them straight from the can, I eat them in hummus - I just love chickpeas.

Roasted chickpeas? Not so much. A) They take for freakin' EVER to roast and B) I'm worried that if I eat them that I'm going to do some serious damage to that uncrowned root canal in the back of my mouth. Strange - I know, but these puppies are CRUNCHY!

Who knows - this might trip someone else's trigger. I might even make them in the future for a party, but I'm afraid of the lawsuits that might ensue for the resulting dental work needed in my friends and loved ones.

Here is the recipe from

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Breakfast Casserole

I suck and I'm blurry

I found this recipe on when I was searching for some brunch recipes in anticipation of company.

Yeeaaah - although Ryan ate the leftovers and my friend Anne assured me that it was a good casserole - I thought it stunk. Especially when I went to my mom's house the next day and had a taste of her egg casserole. That was what egg bake should be - mine was a runny, icky mess that was redeemed by copious amounts of cheddar cheese and plenty of bacon.

The problem was that the recipe called to sit overnight and I think if I made this again, I would have not had it sit overnight and that I would have just made it the morning of.

Let me know if any of you have better success.

Overnight Breakfast Casserole

1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
1/2 lb. of sausage, cooked (I used Italian turkey sausage)

Cook both of these ... I did it separately so I could use the bacon grease for sauteeing stuff.

While your meat is cooking, lightly toast chunks of white bread. Enough to line the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. (I used French bread, my mom told me I should have just used plain ol' white bread.) Also - start choppping up:

1/2 onion
8 oz. of mushrooms

When the bacon was done, I sauteed these both in the bacon grease. Oh man that was good.

After your bread is done toasting, put it in the 9 x 13 pan. Then grab a large mixing bowl and whisk together 8 eggs and 4 c. of milk. Add to this 1 T of dijon mustard (I used horseradish mustard because it's all I had ...)

When the veg is done, dump that over the toasted bread in the 9 x 13 pan. Top with 1 chopped tomato. Then pour the egg mixture over all. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Next day: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Top casserole with about 1/2 c-1 c. of cheddar cheese. Bake for 45 minutes or until eggs are set. This could take longer than 45 minutes.

Like I said - not my favorite. Much love to my friends and company for actually eating this crap!

Monday, February 9, 2009

25 Culinary Things About Me

There's been a list floating around Facebook lately that's been a riot to participate in and to read. It's called "25 things about me" and the basic premise is that you tell folks 25 random things about yourself and then tag 25 other friends to participate. So I thought I'd riff on it a little bit and tell you all a bit about me in the cooking world. I don't have 25 blogging buddies to tag with, but if anyone wants to participate - just leave it in the comments!

1. I love cooked carrots, but I cannot stand them raw.
2. The first time I ever ate avocado I was in 5th grade, visiting relatives in California. My cousin Sharon and I split a crepe and she insisted that we get the one with guacamole in it. I love you cousin Sharon!
3. That trip was also the first time I ever tried feta cheese.
4. I would love to author a cookbook someday
5. I would love to blow an inordinate amount of money on a proper chef's knife - but I probably won't. The set from Ikea has done me good.
6. I wish that my grandma Sophie would have lived longer so I could have learned recipes from her. I also wish that I would have paid more attention when my great-grandma Florence was alive. I could have learned a lot from so many of my relatives.
7. I like cake, but I hate wedding cake. I think wedding cake is overrated, which is why Ryan and I are having a dessert table at our reception.
8. My favorite candy is Bit O Honey.
9. I love trying new beers and find that any amber is a friend of mine.
10. I hope that when Ryan and I decide to have kids that we will have a little girl so I can teach her how to cook. But if we have all boys, one of them is going to learn how to cook and I'm going to raise a miniature Mario Batali. :)
11. I don't know what I think about the organic craze, but I think I will care when we have kids.
12. The best meal I ever ate was a several course affair that I ate 10 years ago. The restaurant was in Rome - I think the name was Papa Re's, but I could be wrong. We had several different courses, chased down with many, many pitchers of wine (that came from a tap in the wall.) The meal lasted about two or three hours and I've never experienced anything that good since then.
13. When I tell Ryan I want to visit places, it's usually because it's been featured on some show on Food Network and I want to try their barbeque, or their custard, or whatever regional speciality they have on hand.
14. I love sauerkraut.
15. Holy shit ... I still have 10 more?
16. I have a vast collection of cookbooks and I haven't cracked open over half of them.
17. I like collecting antique cookbooks - my grandma Boots and I once had a random discussion where we talked about how different cookbooks are nowadays as opposed to cookbooks from the 1950s-1970s.
18. I didn't eat spinach until I was in college.
19. My favorite food at the Luther College cafeteria was from the vegetarian line. The vegetarian chili and lasagna were both to die for.
20. I was a vegetarian for a whole year when I was in junior high. It was right after River Phoenix died ... I was so bummed that he had OD'd that I announced to my parents (the pork farmer father, incidentally) that I would no longer eat meat. It lasted a year. Maybe less. After that I didn't eat a lot of red meat and went through a chicken phase.
21. I didn't appreciate how awesome the food was when I was growing up. We were farmers so the pork we ate came from our own farm and when I was a kid, my mom canned tomatoes and froze corn. I don't think I ever had it as good as I did when I was growing up.
22. I really love a good steak.
23. I got food poisoning at a newspaper conference in September 2000. The chicken wasn't cooked properly and I was convinced that I was going to die. But after I emptied my stomach of all things terrible, I went to my friend Tony's house and proceeded to drink lots of beer.
24. I don't know what my favorite dessert is.
25. I have never made peanut butter cookies - I don't know if I ever will.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Insta-Love: Leinenkugel's Amber Classic

File this under a reason that I'm jealous of Wisconsin: They're the first in the nation to try a new year-round beer produced by Leinenkugel's brewery.

Leine's is known for their seasonal beers (1880 Bock is one of the newest ... HEAVEN! Berry Weiss is a quintessential summer brew) and all of Leine's brews have made appearances in the Kubitz/Mahannah refrigerator.

Today's Star Tribune featured an article announcing a new year-round beer from my favorite brewery. It will be called Amber Classic and I cannot wait until March 1 when it goes national.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Roasted Veggies

I got this recipe and adapted it from "The Sonoma Cookbook," which is a companion piece to "The Sonoma Diet" that came out awhile ago.

This recipe is quite simple and fabulous - it also makes a goodish amount so you'll have leftovers.

I really like roasting vegetables because it seems to be a better method than boiling them and I never steam veggies properly. I can figure out an oven.

Roasted Vegetables
adapted from The Sonoma Cookbook

2 c. Brussels sprouts, halved
2 c. cauliflower florets
3 carrots, sliced thinly
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp herbs de Provence
**Recipe also calls for two lbs of green beans, but they weren't in season at the grocery store. Also calls for 1 red bell pepper. I was too cheap to buy one.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare the veggies - peel off any icky leaves from the sprouts and halve them. Also cut down the cauliflower florets so they will roast evenly. Slice carrots so they won't take forever to bake. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs. Take a wooden spoon and stir veggies so they are coated evenly with oil and herbs. Place in oven and roast for 40-45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

This is fabulous with wild rice and as a side dish to fish or chicken.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bastardized Black Beans and Rice

This is a Shelley creation and it is one bastardized (read: Midwestern) version of black beans and rice. But Ryan liked it and I haven't cooked anything original in a while, so I thought I'd add it to the mix here.

First and foremost - here's an easy way to cook an arse load of brown rice. (Leftover rice is very good for fried rice and let's face it - who has time to cook rice? But who really wants to eat instant rice - hence the leftovers.)

Easy Brown Rice
This makes about 6 c. of rice

3 c. brown rice
4 1/2 c. water (or some sort of stock)

Put rice and water/stock into a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Do not stir. Turn off the heat and place the cover on the pot. Let sit for an additional 15-20 minutes (I've found that it's better to let it sit even longer ...) Refrigerate leftover rice and use in soups, fried rice, snacks, etc.

Shel's Black Beans and Rice
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
Italian Sausage (I used turkey sausage, three brats worth in this recipe)
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves

Toast the cumin seeds in a skillet until they are fragrant. (Don't ask me what that means, all I know is that while I was doing this, Ryan came upstairs and said that something smelled really spicy. So toast these babies for about 1-2 minutes.) Add Italian sausage (I sliced it into small pieces), add chopped onion and garlic - brown until turkey sausage is no longer pink.

Add one 14-oz can of black beans that are rinsed and drained. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and liberal dashes of Tabasco sauce.

Add 1/2 c. of beer. I used Busch Light because my dad just sent a ton of it home with me the last time I saw him. Never mind that I drink ... well, Busch Light is perfect for cooking and that's about it.

Cook until this is heated through. Mix with 2 c. of the hot cooked brown rice that you just made a ton of. Mix. Eat. Enjoy - with some proper beer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Seeking ... soup!

I've been somewhat obsessed recently with soup recipes, if you couldn't tell. And the obsession continues, especially in light of the groundhog's revelation that we have MORE winter to go through! (Bastard groundhog.)

So ... anyone got any good soup recipes for me to try? I'm especially looking for a good chicken and wild rice recipe because that's Ryan's favorite. And if it's light ... even better!

You can email me at


Monday, February 2, 2009

Fear Conquered: Brussel Sprouts

When I think of brussel sprouts, I think of the pickled ones that I can find for my Bloody Mary at Whistle Binkies. Pickled brussel sprouts are awesome, tart and something I probably wouldn't eat outside of my Bloody Mary.

Well, I recently made a roasted vegetable dish that required the usage of brussel sprouts. Here's a bit of background from Wikipedia:

"The Brussels (or brussels) sprout (Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group) of the Brassicaceae family, is a Cultivar group of wild cabbage cultivated for its small (typically 2.5–4 cm or 1–1.5 in diameter) leafy green buds, which resemble miniature cabbages."

This entry also taught me that my spelling of brussel sprouts is wrong. Anyway ... they are quite tasty. I bought about a pound, halved the ones that were larger than miniature cabbages and roasted them with olive oil. Very tasty. Ryan even ate them without complaint.

Brussels sprouts - you are a fear conquered!


I am sorry that I have been negligent to you, my foodie lovelies. I've been trying a new diet lately and while I'm optimistic it will help me shed some much needed weight, trying to figure out what to make while on it has been an interesting challenge. But I'm back. I think I have some good stuff for you to try (along with a casserole dish that's icky.).

Happy Monday!