Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Thanks, Ina! November 22, 2010

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 5:45 PM
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So many of my meals over the past year have been inspired by the wonderful Ina Garten. I can’t keep track of all the times I’ve said “I want Ina’s life.” One of the best parts of my lunch break is watching Ina cook on the Food Network at 12:30pm.

Some of the best dishes I’ve made have been inspired by or come directly from Ina’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. Every dish I’ve made from this cookbook has been delicious and I hope to make all the recipes eventually. Below are two of my favorites so far. Thanks Ina for the inspiration!

Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad – an AMAZING and easy appetizer.

Baked Shrimp Scampi – My own ‘Jeffrey’ requested this dish after seeing Ina cook it on her show. And, like Jeffrey, it is one of his favorite dishes now!


Chicken (two ways) with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Couscous November 11, 2010

Filed under: The Meat Apprentice — karakrautter @ 5:29 PM
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Ok, so chicken two ways may be a little deceptive, but it seemed like the best way to describe how I fix a vegetarian/omnivore-friendly dinner. However, the meat was not the inspiration behind dinner the other night — the brussels sprouts were. Just like a really fabulous pair of shoes often inspires a great outfit, I believe a memorable meal can arise from a great veggie idea.

I love brussels sprouts, seriously. Hands down, they are my favorite vegetable. I never had them growing up since my Dad isn’t a fan, but at some point in college I came across the veggie in the freezer section and my life forever changed. Funny enough, I’ve discovered that a lot of people my age really like brussels sprouts and they seem to appear on menus more often.

My favorite way to prepare, and the easiest way in my opinion, brussels sprouts is by roasting them. I found a great recipe for roasted brussels sprouts with caramelized onions and went to town building out the rest of the meal.

Here are some tips for making some amazing roasted brussels sprouts:

  • Half the sprouts and be generous with olive oil and salt and pepper. They can be really bland (like cabbage), so be sure and season well.
  • Throw in some scallions or onions to add some more flavor.
  • Roast in stages, and add a little more oil each round. The first round, bake them for 15 min. with just the olive oil and salt and pepper. Second round, flip the sprouts and add the scallions, baked for 10 min. Last round, sprinkle a little brown sugar and vermouth, bake for 7-10 min.
  • That’s right, use vermouth. Great advice from Cooking Light to add a little herbiness and brightness.

Since the oven would already be on, I decided to bake a chicken breast and a chik’n cutlet with a little lemon pepper seasoning and olive oil. For the starch, couscous with toasted pine nuts and parmesan to round out the rustic plate.

Lucky for me, my meat-eating dinner companion also has an unnatural love for brussels sprouts and could appreciate the inspiration behind the meal.


Tex-Mex Sunday: Tortilla Casserole November 9, 2010

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 2:44 PM
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From the looks of this blog and Facebook, I’d fallen off the face of the online world at the end of September. That’s a fairly accurate statement. I guess I got a little social media overloaded and needed a time out.  Feeling all better now.

October was a crazy month, but I was still busy in my kitchen…there’s just no photographic evidence of it all. I explored cooking curry for the first time, experimented with tofu and Asian flavors, discovered some great meat and fish marinades and baked fresh pita bread and naan. Enough reminiscing, let’s get to the meal that kicked off my re-commitment to blogging.

Tortilla casserole never really caught my eye. Was it because it was called casserole? Was it because it sounds like something they served in my elementary school cafeteria? Maybe. Regardless, a few years back I finally tried a tortilla casserole at a great Mexican food place in Austin, El Chile because it sounded really good and was vegetarian. That dish served as the inspiration for this Sunday night meal and a recipe for chilaquiles from Fonda San Miguel helped me pull it together.

In order to keep the casserole from being soggy, I quartered and lightly fried the corn tortillas. For the red sauce I combined a 5 pepper enchilada sauce and some of my favorite salsa. I also added some black beans to help add a little more protein and texture. I layered the tortillas, shredded monterey jack cheese, red sauce and beans into the dish and topped with some crema. The dish baked for 45 min at 400 degrees and was warm and filling.

Oh, and to make this a balanced meal, I did a green salad with fresh avocado, tomatoes and a homemade creamy cilantro-lime dressing. Pretty and delicious!