Weekend Getaway – New Hampshire

As I mentioned in the last post, we spent Memorial Day weekend in New Hampshire. Eric’s brother and his wife live there with their new addition, 3 month old Patrick. This was our first meeting and I think it’s safe to say, he liked me, he really liked me. This fact is demonstrated in well in the following photo:

 

Patrick actually fell asleep on me several times in the two days that we were visiting and when you’re 3 months old, that’s like your favorite activity, so suffice it to say, I’m in. The crazy red-headed aunt has been approved.

Aside from hanging with Patrick (and his cool parents) there were two highlights of the weekend that I recommend to you. The first is chocolate and the second is brunch.

This part of New Hampshire is right along the coast and sits right next to the border to Maine. We like to visit the town of Portsmouth while we are up there. Portsmouth has lots to offer including great little boutiques, a quaint city center, the proximity to the sea, wonderful restaurants and a small chocolatier called Byrne & Carlson.

All of the chocolates are handmade and the whole shop is filled with the best candy you’ll ever eat.

These are my favorite, caramallows. The chocolate is filled with home made marshmellow and caramel, both so soft and sweet. They make them in both dark and milk chocolate. I always get a large box to take home and they last about a week.

As you can see, if you find yourself in Portsmouth, NH make your way over to Byrne & Carlson, you won’t be disappointed.

The other highlight of the trip was Sunday brunch. We went to the York Harbor Inn, located right on the Maine coast. There are big windows in the dining room and you can sit and look at the water.

Even better than the view, is the food. First I ordered a cocktail, it was a drink made up of blueberry juice, St. Germain and champagne. It was delicious, the blueberry went so well with the St. Germain. I will be trying to replicate it at home.

We all ordered different things for brunch and I was lucky enough to get a good picture of each dish before we began to eat.

I ordered eggs benedict with steared beef medallions.

Eric ordered the lobster benedict, which was delicious. The buttery egg over the lobster meat was an incredible combination.

My brother-in-law ordered the French toast.

My sister-in-law ordered the cobb salad.

We all enjoyed our meals and I hope to go back for brunch the next time we visit.

All in all we had a wonderful time in New Hampshire and can’t wait for more adventures as our nephew gets older. For now I’ll leave you with one last cute baby picture. Notice the onesie that we bought him from Cochon 555.

Check Me Out!

I was checking my blog stats today after a long weekend filled with a visit to New Hampshire to see my brand new nephew, Patrick. Check this cutie out (the baby, not my brother-in-law):

Anyway, I was home after the long 7 hour drive home and was checking in on the blog. I noticed a link that had directed a few people my way and it had Bon Apetit in the web address. Naturally curious I clicked on and found the my greatest accomplishment with this little blog to date, Red Velvet was featured in the Bon Appetit blog!!!! You too can see my rise to fame and fortune by clicking on THIS LINK.

Apparently this was added on May 27 and is a blog that shows Bon Apetit recipes in action. Thanks Bon Appetit for taking notice, perhaps Red Velvet will be featured again sometime, if only…

Anyway, I’m exhausted from my awesome weekend but will be back tomorrow with some fun highlights from our weekend getaway and maybe some more cute baby pictures.

St. Germain – The best addition to any cocktail

When I began this little blog, I promised drink recipes and reviews and so far there have been none. This will be the first of many, I assure you, and I felt it only fitting that I share with you my absolute favorite spirit, St. Germain. 

I was introduced to St. Germain a few years ago while visiting my sister-in-law. She asked me if I’d ever had it, and upon hearing that I had no clue what it was poured me a glass. Before I even tasted it, I smelled it and fell in love. I smells like what I would think nectar to smell like or honeysuckle. St. Germain is made from the Elderflower and you can read more about the flower and how St. Germain is made on the St. Germain website. St. Germain tastes just how it smells, it’s soft and light and can be used in many different cocktails.

Here is an image of the eldersflower being harvested:

Un paysan

Not only does this spirit taste great, but look at the bottle, their marketing department is awesome! It is regal and French inspired. I love anything French and this is no exception. The story of how it’s made is included in a small booklet with each bottle and fun and worth the short read.

I’ve had St. Germain in many different cocktails but this one is my favorite and the easiest. I like to make it during the week after a long day at the office. All you need is some St. Germain and sauvignon blanc wine or another white wine you prefere (nothing too sweet).

Here is the recipe directly from the St. Germain website:

St. Germain Kir BlancIngredients

1/2 part St. Germain
Top with Sauvignon Blanc

Instructions

Pour St-Germain and chilled wine into a white wine glass, and stir lightly. Imbibe in the melodic dance between grapes and flowers, and ponder the empty glass in front of you.

This cocktail is refreshing and light, perfect after a long day or while enjoying an afternoon with friends, perhaps on Memorial Day! You can find St. Germain in most liquor stores and a bottle will run you about $40 but will last you quite a few months.

BBQ Chicken & Cornbread

It seems that we skipped Spring completely; it has been cold and rainy almost every day since March. The unofficial start to Summer is this Memorial Day weekend and with Summer comes iced tea, fruit pies, ice cream, fresh fruit, delicious vegetables and grilling!

Last week, I was watching Paula Deen on TV and she was making a homemade BBQ sauce for chicken along with homemade cornbread. Immediately, I wanted to make it. I went online, printed out the recipes and ran to the store to get ingredients. I had most of the ingredients in my pantry already, which made for a pretty inexpensive meal (yay!).

This BBQ sauce is sweet and tangy. It uses lime zest and juice which add a little something of intrigue and truly makes the sauce delicious. If you’re looking for a smoky/spicy BBQ sauce recipe, this is not it. This one is thick and sweet.

You can mix the sauce up ahead of time and it will keep in the refrigerator for a week. To make it, simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Once the sauce is mixed, make the cornbread. Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately then fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until there are no more dry spots. The batter will still look lumpy.

Pour into a greased square pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

When it’s done the sides will pull away a bit and the top with have a nice golden color.

I decided to pair my chicken with grilled veggies and chopped up some eggplant, zuchini, yellow squash, onion and green bell pepper while the grill was heating up. I then tossed all the veggies with 1/4 cup on olive oil that I stirred 1 clove of minced garlic into. I had a grill topper to hold on the veggies and prevent them from falling through the grate. I grilled them for about 5 minutes per side, until they were soft and had nice char marks. Cook the veggies before the chicken as they are best served at room temperature and can sit for up to an hour or so already grilled and still taste great.

I bought a whole chicken, cut into pieces. This was alot for just the two of us, but it made enough for lunch and another dinner this week. Salt and pepper the raw chicken, then cook on the grill for 5 minutes on each side. Now coat with the bbq sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes then flip, coat again with sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes more. (Cook with your grill lid on, that keeps the temperature up and cooks your meat inside, when the lid is off you are really just searing your food and it will take much longer to cook.)

 

Take the chicken off the grill after about 15 minutes, when the juices run clear from the meat. Top the chicken with some more of the bbq sauce (you really can’t use too much). Pile up on a platter to serve.

Look at that chicken! If you’re planning to have people over for Memorial Day, make this chicken; they will not stop raving about it and they will be floored when they find out you made the sauce from scratch (you don’t have to tell them how easy it was).

The cornbread was a wonderful consistency, moist and flavorful. I’ve only ever made it from a box before and making it from scratch was just as easy. The box usually comes out very dry. The only complaint I have is that I would have wanted it a bit sweeter. Next time, I think I’ll add another tablespoon of sugar and see if that makes a difference.

Here’s a shot of the whole dinner plate.

Here are the recipes that I pulled from Foodnetwork.com:

Easy After Work BBQ Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce, (recommended: Tabasco)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped scallions (white and light green parts)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, onion, mustard, hot sauce, and black pepper. Stir in the scallions, lime zest, and lime juice. Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Cooking the Chicken

Prepare a medium-hot grill or preheat the broiler. If using the broiler, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Put the chicken on the grill or, if broiling, put it on the prepared baking sheet. Grill or broil, 4 inches from the heat, turning once, for 10 minutes per side.

Put 1/2 of the BBQ sauce in a small bowl, for drizzling and serving. Reserve.

Baste the chicken with the remaining sauce and grill or broil for 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, drizzle with some of the reserved sauce, and serve with lime wedges and the remaining reserved sauce.

Cornbread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for baking dish
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, and butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and fold together until there are no dry spots (the batter will still be lumpy). Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.

Bake until the top is golden brown and tester inserted into the middle of the corn bread comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the cornbread from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

White Cake with Vanilla Icing and Chocolate Filling

 

This past weekend I got a craving for cake. This is not uncommon for me; cake is one of my favorite things in the entire world and I find myself getting cravings for it almost daily, but this weekend it was strong so I buckled and decide to make one. Beside being a cake lover, I’m also a chocolate lover (what woman isn’t?!) but I have discovered over the years that I prefer desserts that pair chocolate with another flavor like vanilla, rasberry, strawberry, orange, mint, peanut butter, coffee and the list goes on. I’m not a huge fan of the chocolate chocolate cake, you know the 3 layers of chocolate cake with rich dark chocolate icing and then chocolate curls, it’s just too much for me. I’m the same way with vanilla white cake with vanilla icing can become too sweet for me so I like to break up the vanilla, usually with chocolate.

This brings me to the cake I just made, white cake, vanilla icing outside and chocolate frosting in the middle. I’ve been searching for a really good white cake recipe and I think I finally nailed it. This one is adapted from the Cake Bible according to trial and errror a few times. I think this could also be called the standard “birthday cake” recipe. I like it because the cake itself has a nice sweet flavor to it.

Before you even start the batter, trace the outside of your cake pans onto parchment paper, cut it out and line the pans then spray with the Pam for baking spray (I love Pam for baking, it already has the flour in it and saves so much time in the kitchen). The parchment paper really makes a difference so don’t skip that step.

Most cake recipes are similar in that they have you combine the dry indredients separate from the wet and then sloly combine, this recipe is no different. First you combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl and then combine all the dry ingredients in your mixer bowl. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients and once the ingredients are combined mix on medium speed. After all is well combined, turn the mixer down and slowly pour in the wet ingredient mixture in 3 batches. Be sure and mix well after each addition and scrape the sides of the bowl. Once it’s all well combined, split and pour into your cake pans and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Take the cakes out of the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then flip the cakes out and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cakes are baking and cooling, mix up the 2 icings. I always expariment with different fillings and frostings on my cakes but chocolate and vanilla are such a classic combination that it’s hard to beat. First I mixed up the chocolate frosting for the filling of the cake. I pulled this recipe from the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa container. My mom always made it growing up and after trying many other chocolate frosting recipes, I learned why it’s on the container, it’s the best! It’s also very simple to mix up. I only needed enough to fill my cake, so I made half of the recipe.

To make the chocolate frosting, melt the butter in the microwave, stir in the Hershey’s Cocoa. Now beat in powdered sugar and milk alternating until it’s the consistency you like and finish it off by beating in some vanilla.

For the vanilla frosting, I have many recipes I like but this is my favorite of the moment. I pulled it off the Good Morning America Website after a visit from the Cake Boss. This is also very standard. Cream the butter and shortening with an electric mixer, add the vanilla and mix well. Gradually add in the powedered sugar mix well and add the milk at the end to thin it out.

Once your frosting is made and your cake is cooled, it’s time to assemble. Put the chocolate frosting on top of one cake and then place the second cake on the frosting. Now frost the whole time and sides with the vanilla frosting.

This cake is delicious and light in texture. I also love the balance of chocolate and vanilla. Serve with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk and it’s the perfect meal snack.

Here are the recipes:

All Occasion Butter Cake

Ingredients 

6 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (must be softened)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.

Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula.

The pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven. Let the cakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes.

Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients
1 stick butter
2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa poweder
3 cups powedered sugar
1/3  cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
Preparation
 
Melt the butter. Stir in cocoa.
Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed until it is desired consistency. Stir in vanilla.
 
Vanilla Frosting
Ingredients
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Preparation
Cream the shortening and butter together with and electric mixer. Add vanilla and beat well. Gradually add in the powedered sugar, mixing well after each addition. Beat well on medium speed until smooth. Add milk and mix until desired consistency.

Red Velvet….Cocktails??

 

I couldn’t resist sharing this hilarious video that was shared with me yesterday. These girls are hilarious and this cocktail was so fitting!

To find more of their cocktail recipes check out www.food2.com:

I Scream, You Scream…Homemade Ice Cream

A few weeks ago Eric took me on a special trip to Sur La Table. Lancaster does not have one so we drove to King of Prussia, about an hour and half away on a rainy Saturday. Eric had been to one when he was recently away on business and knew I would love it. Boy did I ever! The best way to describe it, for those of you who haven’t been in one, is like William Sonoma on steroids. It has everything imaginable for cooking and then some; serving platters, every baking pan shape and size imaginable, cookie cutters, the best pots and pans, cute aprons, table linens, kitchen gadgets and on and on. I could hardly focus when I walked in the door, I just kept saying “ooo! look at this” and “I want this” and “this would be so great to have.” While we were making our way around the store I noticed a huge display of Cuisinart Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt and Sorbet makers in a rainbow of colors. At the time I thought they looked neat, but dairy doesn’t always like me so I tend to shy away from eating lots of ice cream let alone make some at home. But the ice cream maker kept popping into my head for the next two weeks and I had all these ideas for fresh new flavor combinations and homeade frozen yogurt (which likes me more than straight ice cream).

Three weeks later, on the way home from the Phillies game we somehow ended up back at Sur La Table and I was in line with my kelly green ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet maker.

Last weekend, I finally got to try it out. The machine came with a small recipe book and I found a recipe for custard style vanilla bean ice cream that sounded like a great one to start with. After bringing home my ice cream maker, I opened it up and read that the drum where the ice cream churns needs to spend at least 24 hours in the freezer so I washed and dryed it and placed it in my freezer a few days before this so that it would be cold and ready when I decided to make the ice cream.

The ice cream called for a dried vanilla bean. You can find dried whole vanilla beans in the spice isle at the supermarket. Put the bean on a small plate and cut it with a sharp knife down the center to split the bean in half. Scrape out all the small black seeds inside the bean and add them to a medium saucepan filled with the milk and heavy cream. Once scraped, place the whole bean into the saucepan as well. Place the saucepan over medium low heat until it slowly comes to a boil (this will take a while) but don’t allow it to come to a full boil. Remove it from the heat as soon as it begins to bubble.

While the milk mixture is heating up, use a hand mixer on low speed (trust me the whisk will get you nowhere)to mix together the egg yolks and sugar until they are pale and thick.

Once the milk mixture is moved off the heat whisk 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk and sugar mixture until well combined, do this one more time and then pour everything back into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Stir this mixture with a wooden spoon over low heat until it thickens (a few minutes). It should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer into a medium bowl and allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating. The recipe tells you to refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight, I chose overnight. Making ice cream is not difficult, but you have to plan ahead if you want to make it. I would give yourself 2 days to complete the recipe. And since it’s ice cream, it will keep in the freezer for a very long time!

After chilling your ice cream base, get out your ice cream maker and set it up. Keep the drum in the freezer until the last possible minute. Once assembled turn it on and slowly pour the ice cream base into the drum.

This photo is after about 5 minutes of churning.

This is the best part, I watched the whole thing churn for 20 minutes and change from liquid to ice cream.

The recipe calls for you to churn the ice cream for 20 minutes and it was the perfect amount of time. Ours was still a little soft for our tastes so I put it in the freezer and we took the dog for a walk, an hour later it was perfect.

It is the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever tasted and I’m not just saying that. It was so creamy and delicious and made enough to last us about 2 weeks! I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked but I’ll be making more again soon. I just found a recipe today for black rasberry chocolate chip, my ultimate favorite!

Here’s the recipe from Cuisinart:

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1 whole vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped
5  large egg yolks
11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preparation

1. In a medium saurcepan ser over medium low heat, whisk together the milk, cream, half the sugar, salt and the scraped vanilla bean (including the pod). Bring the mixture just to boil.

2. While the milk/cream mixture is heating, combine the yolks and remaining sugar in a mediu bowl. Using a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk, beat until mixture is pale and thick.

3. Once the milk/cream mixture has come to a slight boil, whisk about 1/3 of the hot mixture into the yolk/sugar mixture. Add another 1/3 of the mixture, then return the combined mixture to the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. This mixture must NOT boil or the yolks will overcook – the process should only take a few minutes.

4. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (discard the vanilla pod) and bring to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight.

5. Turn on the Cuisinart ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 20 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an air tight container and place in freezer for about two hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Ciro’s Italian Bistro – Restaurant Review

A few miles from my house there is a small Italian bistro that has become one of my favorite spots in Lancaster. At first it lured me in with it’s great cocktail menu (many of which contain St. Germain my absolute favorite liquor) and then I tasted the food and knew it was going to be a new favorite place.

Ciro’s Italian Bistro sits off of Fruitville Pike in the small and fairly new Richmond square community. It has both indoor and outdoor seating (weather permitting) and even has a take out gelato counter. When you walk in the door you get a feeling of comfort and class. Even better than the atmosphere is the menu. It contains a nice variety of traditional Italian favorites along with some more upscale Italian dishes. The plates come out with a beautiful presentation and taste even better.

As I mentioned before, the cocktail menu is great, especially for ladies, you’ll find a nice array of martinis and mixed drinks. During my latest trip there with a great friend, we both ordered a cocktail. I got the St. Germain cocktail and she got the rasberry martini. They were both light, refreshing and delicious!

I ordered the roasted tomato basil bisque to start. It comes in a HUGE bowl! But it’s delicious. Forgive my photo, my stomach took over my brain and I began to eat it before I could take the picture.

My soup was followed by the Mozarella di Casi: fresh homemade mozzarella served with marinated flame-roasted pepper coulis, fresh sliced tomato and basil, drizzled with virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The mozarella was creamy, the tomatoes fresh and flavorful but the best part which tied the dish together was the roasted red pepper coulis. It gave the salad a perfect something extra.

My friend ordered the Ravioli Quattro Fromaggi: four cheese ravioli with sautéed shrimp, garlic and broccoli rabe.

I did not taste it but she couldn’t stop raving about it while she ate and it looks like a work of art! I love the two toned ravioli. Food is always better when it looks as great as it tastes.

For dessert, your waiter tells you to go check out the dessert/gelato case and then make your selection (it’s a very clever technique, after seeing it in the case, its impossible not to get something). We split the chocolate layer cake and ate it so fast that we forgot to take a picture, but check out this picture of their gelato.

Other things I like about Ciro’s: the pizza is awesome (they even offer gluten free crust), I’ve never met a dish there I didn’t like, their prices are very reasonable and it’s close to my house! I can’t wait for the next excuse to go to Ciro’s, I hope it’s soon.

Note: If you’re headed to Ciro’s on a weekend, make reservations. Word has gotten out about this place and it’s usually packed!

Spring Soup

Picture of Chicken and Egg Soup with Pastina Recipe

Last week I made a roast chicken and after pulling all the meat from the bird, I made some delicious chicken stock. I was going to make my favorite and standby chicken noodle soup with it but in light of the Spring weather decided to look for something new. I found a recipe for Chicken and Egg Soup with Pastina. I liked that this recipe was thickened with egg (something I’ve never done before) and that it included spinach, fresh dill, and lemon juice, all things that made me think Spring!

The recipe calls for you to use a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket but since I had already made stock and saved meat from the roast chicken I had already made the day before, I just used all of that. That also meant that I got to skip the step of boiling the canned broth with the chicken bones, my homeade stock already had a wonderful flavor.

For my soup I began by cooking the onion and olive oil over high heat until they’re soft (about 5 minutes), in a large pot.

Fill the pot with my homeade stock and a 3 cups of canned chicken stock. The recipe calls for water in the recipe but I used chicken broth/stock and would suggest you do the same. It gives the soup a lot more flavor. Add in your shredded chicken and add the juice from one lemon, be careful not to add the lemon seeds. Cover and bring the whole thing to a boil. Once boiling add the pasta. Use whatever small pasta you can find, mine ended up being small stars. Continue to boil over medium high heat until the pasta is cooked.

While the pasta is cooking, whisk the juice from the remaining lemon with the yolks and whole eggs in a medium bowl until they are frothy, or lighter and bubbly.

Once the pasta is cooked, move the pot off the heat, gradually add a ladle full of broth to the egg mixture and whisk together. Stir the warmed egg mixture into the soup and let thicken for about one minute. This process slowly heats the eggs and prevents them from scrambling. If you simply added all the eggs directly to the soup, the egg would scramble and separate.

Once the soup has thickened add the spinach and fresh dill and salt and pepper to taste. Top with a little feta cheese, if desired.

This soup was light and filling at the same time. I served mine with some warmed french bread and it was delicious. We had a lot leftover so I reheated some for dinner the following night and it was just as good. I was concerned the consistency wouldn’t be as creamy after refrigerating but nothing changed at all. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Here’s the recipe pulled from Foodnetwork.com:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 (2 1/2-to-3-pound) rotisserie chicken (on the bone)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup pastina (small pasta)
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups baby spinach or other baby greens
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Crumbled feta cheese, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, the broth, 4 cups water and the juice of 1 lemon; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the pastina and simmer until the pasta is cooked and the soup thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken; when cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone and shred into bite-size pieces.

Remove the soup from the heat. Whisk the juice of the remaining lemon with the whole eggs and yolks in a medium bowl until frothy. Gradually whisk a ladleful of the hot soup into the egg mixture, then stir the warm egg mixture into the soup and return to medium-low heat. Cook until creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in the shredded chicken, spinach and dill, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls; garnish with feta, if desired.

Finding the Best Recipes

As I’m sure you’ve begun to notice, I pull recipes from many different places when deciding what to cook. I’m young so the internet is one of my main sources but I also have a decent collection of cookbooks, I have a subscription to Bon Apetit magazine, watch Cooking Channel and the Food Network often and have recently discovered the usefulness of the world of apps on my iPhone. So here’s a post dedicated to “Marah’s ways” of finding the best recipes.

Finding great recipes is really a combination of efforts for me. For example, a few years ago I never really liked Barefoot Contessa, when I watched her show I thought she was a little boring on camera but then one day I made one of her recipes that I pulled from the internet and it was fantastic. I printed out a few more and began watching her show more often. I bought one of her cookbooks 2 years ago and every single recipe from it has been wonderful. She is now one of my favorite cooks to watch and I continue to buy her books. I tend to eat a dish or see a beautiful fresh ingredient at market and then begin looking for a recipe. I also like to get as much information about the dish I’m about to cook and its ingredients before attempting to prepare it.

BEST RECIPE WEBSITES

You’ve seen me link up Epicurious.com about a million times now and I’ll continue to use it. Epicurious is composed of all the recipes that have appeared in Gourmet Magazine and Bon Apetit Magazine. Even if I have the recipe in my current Bon Apetit, I look it up on Epicurious. Why? There is a tab above each recipe that says “Reviews” this is essential. This tab will have comments from lots of others who made the dish already. They will post if it was good or not, or if they added their own ingredient or if the recipe needed a little something extra. If all the reviews end up being bad, I usually don’t even bother the make the recipe. This is such a great tool and makes the dish less intimidating if it’s the first time you’ve prepared it.

screenshot

FoodNetwork.com is my second go-to website for recipes. It’s got a very similar layout with its recipes and I’m usually on there looking for something I saw prepared on TV. You can look up recipes by TV show, TV chef or even just ingredients. All of these recipes have the same “Review” tab that is so helpful.

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COOKBOOKS

Cookbooks, I love ‘em. I sit and read them like novels. Just last week before bed, Eric and I spent some time reading, he was engrossed in a National Georgraphic Travel magazine and I was snuggled up with my Julia Child cookbook (who say’s you can only read cookbooks in the kitchen?!). When we bought our first house I got one thing in my kitchen that I had always dreamed of, cookbook shelves! They are practically filled now and I’m still buying cookbooks so I may need to find a run-off location to store them.

I can remember getting my first cookbook. I think I was about 14 years old, my Aunt Carol heard that I had expressed an interest in cooking and mailed me a copy of the Joy of Cooking for my birthday. It was my very own and filled with so many different recipes. I spent hours reading it and marking the pages of the recipes I wished to try.

As mentioned above, Julia Child’s cookbook is my favorite. When I bought it, it was extremely intimidating because there were no pictures and so much to read. I felt like it was out of my league. But I began to read all of that text and discovered how much useful information it contained; the text is also so descriptive that you don’t even need the pictures. For any cook, I recommend this book.

Other cookbooks in my arsenal include: Molto Mario by Mario Batali, Everyday Italian by Giada Delaurentis, Pies by William Sonoma (I have 2 different ones), Lydia’s Italy by Lydia Bastianich, My French Kitchen, My French Market, The Joy of Cooking, The Cake Bible, Cooking from the Hip by Cat Cora and on and on. I have a list twice as long of new cookbooks I want.

MAGAZINES

Obviously Bon Apetit is a huge favorite of mine. It has recently been moved from the West Coast to New York and gotten a new editor in chief. I must admit that being someone who is more than a little resistant to change, the new design of the magazine was a bit disappointing. The layout and colors were nice and had an fresh edge to them but the magazine was not very user friendly this month. The font sizes and colors tended to blend into the pages making it hard to use in the kitchen when I need to be able to glance at a recipe and find my place quickly. I hope that in the coming months the magazine will be tweaked and keep it’s number one place in my heart.

May 2011 cover with one large yellow flower

Real Simple is another magazine that I get monthly. I love that its content is so diverse and have made many dishes from its monthly recipe section.

Cooks Illustrated is slowly moving into my favorites category however the whole black and white photos thing throws me off a bit. I also like a food magazine to have more than just recipes in it, I want some interesting articles and glossy pictures.

F&W Magazine

I’ve only purchased Food and Wine Magazine a few times and their recipes have not caught my attention.I enjoy the Food Network Magazine from time to time and used to have a subscription to Rachel Ray Magazine.


Rachel Ray was fun to read but I soon realized that the recipes I made from it were not very good and Eric especially did not like them; so I cancelled that subscription.

APPS

I got an iPhone 2 years ago and immediately began searching for apps to put on my phone. I soon discovered the world of cooking apps. In line with my favorite internet site, my favorite app is the Epicurious App.

It has the same recipes as the website, but I can search from anywhere. One thing I love about the app is that if I am at the office and decide I’d like to make a recipe that I saw in last month’s Bon Apetit, I can look it up on my Epicurious app and check to see what ingredients I need to buy on my way home. I can also pull up a recipe while I’m at market or the grocery store and check to make sure that I got everything I need.

The app allows you to search for recipes according to ingredients you may have on hand or according to what type of dish you want to make. It also makes suggestions based on season. Each recipe appears on your phone along with reviews of it.

The app also allows you to save your favorite recipes so that you don’t need to search for them each time.

Food Network also has an app however it never seems to load correctly and my searches always come up without results. It feels like there is a glitch or something when try to use it. I check it every so often to see if its working better but so far, no luck.

The last app I have on my iPhone is Big Oven. Big Oven also has a website that you can search for recipes and it is a compilation of recipes submitted by many different people all over. The recipes include reviews, instruction and ratings. I rarely visit them online but do search on my phone occasionally. I find that they are a better source for “home cookin” recipes, like Pa Dutch Pot Pie or Baked Oatmeal.

I hope this has given some insight into my crazy method of finding the best recipes. Where is your favorite place to pull new recipes?