Monday, March 29, 2010


Thank you kind readers, for visiting me often and letting me share my food with you. It means a lot to me, those who follow Suite Apple Pie.
I will be taking a short hiatus, and I hope you will not lose sight of me and this blog in the interim. I promise to return very soon. Until then!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Love Broccoli

Oh yes I do.
But the brilliance of it in soup has eluded me.

In my world previously, broccoli soups were chopped, in a broth with onions and orzo pasta. I'm not partial to the texture of this vegetable simmered in liquid, which could be an issue that others have too. Broccoli should have crunch from roasting, baking, or sauteeing.

Could I believe that a broccoli soup could be scrumptious? Now I do; how about a puree of potato, onion, shallots, garlic, and the cruciferous vegetable, topped with some fresh croutons slicked with mustard and some white cheddar cheese? It's a recipe I bookmarked a long time ago from one of my favorite inspirations spots, 101 Cookbooks. I altered the recipe to suit what I had available, and it was entirely easy and scrumptious.
Boy do I love the immersion blender, pureed soups are always a breeze with it!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

5 ounces of french bread, cubed
scant 1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs whole grain mustard
1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
pinch of salt
3 small, 2 medium, or 1 large potato (whatever you have), peeled and cut into cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
12 ounces broccoli florets (about 3 small heads)
2/3 cup sharp white cheddar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
dollop of light sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk the olive oil, mustard, and salt together in a bowl, and add the cubed bread. Toss to coat evenly, and spread on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Place a large saucepan or soup pot (I used my small dutch oven) and heat over medium. Melt the butter, then add the shallots, onion and pinch of salt. Saute until the onion softens, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir, cover, and lower the heat slightly. Cook for about 4 minutes until the potatoes soften. Uncover and add the garlic, and the broth. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cook for a few minutes, tasting the potatoes for tenderness. When they are, add the broccoli and cook for 2-4 minutes, just until the broccoli is tender.
Turn the heat off and puree with an immersion blender. Stir in half of the cheese, the Dijon mustard, and the light sour cream if you want. Taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper if desired.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with a bit of the remaining cheese, a handful of croutons, and a tiny dot of sour cream.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cheating on my Oatmeal

I dreamed about this breakfast last night and I wasn't disappointed.
Kodiak Cakes Flapjack & Waffle mix was on sale yesterday at Safeway; I snatched a box and couldn't wait to try them this morning. I've seen these fluffy whole grain pancakes on a few blogs; the discovery of cool new products is one of the coolest parts of following these friends from afar.
Pancakes are my favorite breakfast food, but I save them for special occasions due to the higher number of calories and less staying power. . . and I tend to overdue it a lot on the maple syrup. Ahem.

Kodiak Cakes boast excellent nutrition facts. One 1/3 cup serving (my portion today) of 130 calories has 7 grams of protein and a good amount of calcium and iron.

And a short list of familiar ingredients, the top two being 100% whole grain wheat and oat flours.

Today I broke my own rule and made myself a pancake breakfast. I mixed 1/3 cup of the mix with 1/3 cup water to make one giant pancake. The giant pancake was so much more fun than several small ones, and it was easy to flip. On the side I fried one egg white and topped the pancake with it along with some plain nonfat yogurt mixed with homemade strawberry freezer jam. Delish!

Time will tell if it keeps me full as long as oatmeal, but for flavor I give this mix two-thumbs up!


Monday, March 22, 2010

3 Grocery Stops

1. Safeway
frozen juices- pineapple orange, orange, apple
3 heads of broccoli
a bundle of asparagus
2 leeks
head of green cabbage
2 cans wild salmon
1% milk for Ray
Kodiak Cakes pancake mix
block of sharp white cheddar
lowfat cottage cheese
2. Trader Joe's
romaine lettuce
fresh baby spinach
broccoli and carrot slaw
crumbled feta cheese
cherry tomatoes
high protein firm tofu
veggie Smart Dogs
vanilla soy milk for me
3 bottles sparkling mineral water

3. Whole Foods
half a cantaloupe :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sarah's Day Off

From cooking, I'm still on camera duty.

As much as I love to cook, there are some days when dinnertime comes and I do not feel like it. I don't want to face chopping ingredients, handling slimy things like raw meat or stinky raw fish, and I especially don't want to be anywhere near the oven or stove. On those days I eat salad, or leftovers (I never mind using the microwave, it doesn't make me hot or need scrubbing after each use), or pb&j and a piece of fruit.

Boys though, boys are different. That kind of minimal, maybe even boring dinner is not high on the list after Ray's typical 11 hour work day. Not being a cook himself, there are a few things that I do not make satisfactorily for him. His man pasta is one of them. Tacos are another. These are actually kind of a treat to him.
Tacos were rare and special for dinner when I was growing up too. Why is that?
Ray's tacos require a very short list:
  • lean ground beef
  • taco seasoning
  • shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese
  • chopped lettuce
  • taco shells
He browns the meat in my big skillet, chopping it finely with a spatula until well done. Then he adds taco seasoning. He doesn't measure, maybe a tablespoon or so, and a bit of water is added to moisten the mixture. Meanwhile, he chops up the lettuce. I never buy iceberg, but I always have romaine so he chops up a few leaves.
The cheese comes out of the fridge. This Mexican cheese blend is great; if we just have a block of cheddar he'll grate some up.
And the taco shells. Recently we've tried these new Stand 'n Stuff shells. They are the same price as the regular ones but much easier to stuff because they don't lay on their sides.
Ray makes three tacos for one dinner.
He spoons some of the meat into each taco, leaving plenty of room.
Then some lettuce,

And finally, lots of cheese.

Taste test. . .

Perfect thumbs up!

Hurray for leftovers and more days off! With enough meat and 7 more taco shells, there's at least two more meals to be had.

[I'm posting from Los Gatos Roasting Company today. My house is overrun with a dozen guys watching March Madness over the next three days, so I'm giving Ray his space and staying in Los Gatos until Saturday afternoon. He's taking me to dinner when I get home and I get some good time with my brothers and family. That's a fair trade!]


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pretty in Pink

On Saturday I talked about inspiration, and how it comes from a variety of locations. Magazines are one of them, and this pretty dinner came from one of those.

I love reading cooking mags, but I usually just look.
It's rare that I'll make one of the recipes I see.
Sometimes a recipe looks awesome but too complex for everyday use; maybe I'm not sure the execution will deliver on its promise.
Food mags provide more entertainment while blogs and cookbooks provide more serious cooking options.
The first time I read the article containing this recipe, I knew I wanted to make it. I dog-eared the page and kept returning to it until my next visit to the grocery store.
I love salmon, but I don't buy it very often because I'm afraid I turn a beautiful fillet into a dry, flavorless excuse for fish. I'm aware that practice would solve this, but I fear the wasting of good fish as I stumble through those few trial runs. This recipe uses canned salmon rather than fresh. I've purchased small cans of salmon in the past, but never one this big; I didn't know they came this way until I was standing in the grocery aisle!
Inside are 2 or 3 large pieces of salmon, sort of like sardines in a can (the body without head or tail). I should have taken a shot of the contents, sorry.

My recipe neglected to squeeze the moisture from the carrot and zucchini, and I think that's an important step to reduce liquid in the dish; you want a moist loaf but not so moist that slices don't keep their shape. My loaf was cooked through but I did have some issues with the slices staying intact. It tasted no less delicious, but presentation suffered.

Each of the four healthy portions of this salmon loaf boasts, for 300 calories:
  • 27 grams of protein
  • 7.5 grams of heart-healthy fats
  • 379 mg calcium
  • 3 mg iron
  • 65 mcg folate, and
  • 4 grams of fiber

Next to a beautiful salad with spinach, mixed greens, tomatoes, and olives, you've got quite a healthy dinner. We loved this meal, myself especially.
I have big plans for the remaining half of loaf: I might chop up a slice and add it to another salad, or place it between two slices of toasted bread for a special salmon sandwich. Or mix with some eggs to make an omelette or scramble.

Salmon Loaf
adapted, serves 4

2 medium carrots, grated
1 medium zucchini, grated
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 15 oz can salmon, drained
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbs fresh thyme, minced
juice from half a lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Grate the carrot and zucchini, and squeeze to remove some of the excess liquid, in a kitchen towel or paper towerl. In a large bowl, flake the drained salmon and add the carrots, zucchini, bread crumbs, milk, egg, onion, thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix very well until incorporated and moist. If the mixture is too dry, add a small amount of milk.

Pour mixture into the loaf pan and pack gently into a loaf shape. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the loaf is set in the center and firm to the touch. Slice with a knife and use a spatula to transfer to plates or bowls.
I served this a garnish of (leftover) homemade marinara sauce with goat cheese. Salsa or mustard would also be excellent condiments.


Saturday, March 13, 2010


It comes from a lot of places. The grocery aisles provide well, as do magazines, cookbooks, and so many great food blogs. My cupboards often inspire a dish as I dig to see what my options are. They can be a most excellent black hole, swallowing ingredients until I look deep inside, almost like shopping in my own kitchen.
I take inspiration from dishes Mom made us as kids, and meals we eat in restaurants or friends' homes.

Sometimes a combination of factors inspire dinner, and that's what happened here.
On a rainy weekday I didn't feel like eating much dinner. I have a few stand-by meals for those days: brothy leek soup with some pastina, oatmeal, a salad, some yogurt and cereal with some fruit. This only works for me; my partner needs something more substantial. He's not too picky but when there is no frozen pizza to be had and pasta won't satisfy, I turn to the cupboards and freezer for some brilliant idea that will hopefully work out. Some phyllo dough from the fridge, ground beef from the freezer, vegetables and some spices made dinner go from simple to extraordinary, with leftovers for another night!
These meat pies wrapped in phyllo were inspired by my Grandma's spanakopita and the notion of sheperd's pie. The dough is a departure from the usual; I had some on hand it was fun to work with and exciting to the diner at mealtime. I could have used pizza dough to make a calzone, but the phyllo made it unique and matched well with the spicy flavors.
Cinnamon and cumin is a haunting combination on the palate, with the ground beef or any other filling. For a vegetarian option, sprinkle the two on some chickpeas and roast for a few minutes, or steam with some broth. You'll be in love.

Spicy Meat Hand Pies
makes 3 triangle hand pies

1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, diced
6 ounces lean ground beef
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
juice from half a lime
salt to taste
1 egg
4 Tbs melted butter
10 sheets (about 4 ounces) phyllo dough

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat a saucier pan over medium and add the olive oil, onion, and carrots and saute until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown until fully cooked (no pink spots). Drain off as much fat as you can, then add the cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cumin, lime juice, and salt to taste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and ready a pastry brush. Take out your 10 sheets of phyllo dough and place them on a damp towel. Gently cut the sheets in half longways and cover with a second damp towel. Lightly flour your work surface.

Remove one half sheet of phyllo and place on the work surface. Recover the rest of the dough with the damp towel (every time so it doesn't dry out). Brush the half sheet with melted butter and top with a second sheet of phyllo. Brush again with butter, repeat one more time. After the third sheet is buttered, add one third of the meat filling to a corner of the dough. Fold the corner over, tucking the filling in carefully. Fold in thirds until the triangle hand pie is formed.

The best verbal description escapes me, so I hope a visual picks up where I fail.

Place the hand pie on the parchment. Repeat with the process with three more sheets of phyllo, buttering and adding the filling, folding and placing on the parchment.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the phyllo is light brown and crispy.


As you know, 3+3+3= 9, not 10. So you're going to have an extra half sheet of phyllo left. You could toss it but that would be terrible! Do what I did: brush it with a little butta, and sprinkled with lots and lots of cinnamon sugar before cutting it into three pieces and rolling and crinkling each piece into a cinnamon 'straw'. Place on the baking sheet with your hand pies, and remove after 12-15 minutes.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Prefer Bowls to Plates

Other bloggers can attest to the fact that searching for a title can be the most difficult and frustrating part of a post.
I couldn't think of much today that wasn't snarky or lame; I do prefer to eat from a bowl rather than a plate, so there you go.
I think the shape gives the illusion of more volume. This is one of those dishes that can be served in a bowl or on a plate, but it's so comforting that a steaming bowl makes it even better.
It's almost criminally simple. Fragrant brown rice is toasted before cooking a long time in a lot of liquid till soft, with some vegetables and spices. Brown rice can be more chewy than white rice, one reason why some people don't like it. This method allows you to cook it to a softer, moist consistency.
It's great straight from the pan, but two added garnishes take it over the top for me: a few drops of sriracha (hot sauce) and some fried onion strings (sold by Trader Joe's). You don't have to add these, but you really really should. You can add some poached chicken breast to the dish- I did add some to Ray's bowl- or you can serve it as a side dish alongside another protein. A big bowl by itself is a great meal for me, just don't forget to sneak in some protein in another way to help with Battle Protein.
The fried onion strings were a serendipitous impulse buy; they are great in salads too. Two tablespoons equals 40 calories and a small amount adds a lot of flavor and crunch. I used a mixture of low sodium chicken broth and water mixed with another TJ's favorite:
These little packets are wonderful to keep in the cupboard and use on their own or if you are running low on canned broth. I started with 4 cups of broth for the recipe but needed to add more throughout the cooking process, about 6 cups in the end. I recommend having some extra broth handy just in case; that rice really soaks it up.

This is also a good time to introduce you to my favorite stovetop cooking vessel. I mention it often and realize many might know what I'm talking about when I refer to the saucier. It's this guy:

He has a wide bottom like a pan but he's also deep like a pot- the best of both worlds. I use him for everything. As with the best recipes, I made this up on the fly one night, and cannot think of a particularly clever name. So I give you . . .

Vegetable Brown Rice Bowl
serves 4

1 Tbs olive oil
2 carrots, sliced
1 celery rib, peeled and sliced
1/2 large onion, diced
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
sriracha (or other hot sauce) and fried onion strings for garnish

Heat the olive oil over medium in a saucier pan or pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and herbs and saute 3-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the brown rice and toast for 5 more minutes.

Add 4 cups of the broth and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally and simmer until the rice is cooked, adding the rest of the broth as the pan becomes dry.

Add the frozen peas and cook to warm them through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon into bowls and add a few drops of sriracha to each bowl, per the taste of each person. Top with a spoonful of fried onion strings and serve.