Thursday, June 28, 2012

Individual Pot Pies with Cheddar Chive Biscuit Crust

Ok, I realize it's 9 million degrees outside and you're probably wondering who the heck eats pot pie in the summer when we all should really just be eating watermelon and lettuce, but I'm here to tell you that it is totally acceptable to eat mini pot pies with cheddar chive biscuits any time of the year.


If I'm being truthful, we actually ate these for dinner last week when we went through a little cold and rainy spell, but I'd eat them again tonight if I could.

The biscuit topping on these blows away a regular pie crust any day. They reminded me of Red Lobster's cheddar bay biscuits (which I haven't had in seriously years), which we all know are buttery, cheesy and herby perfection. I was so sad when my crust ended. Which is why individual servings is the way to go in our house - no picking at the edges of the crust after you've already eaten and are standing in the kitchen pretending to "clean up." ;-)

Underneath that crust lies a slew of potatoes and veggies - even Brussels sprouts! - in a creamy vegetable broth base. At the end I added soy "turkey" for some protein, but of course real chicken or turkey can be used. Or you can just leave it out altogether for a vegetable pot pie.

Summertime or not, sometimes you just need a little biscuit in your life. ;-)

Individual Pot Pies with Cheddar Chive Biscuit Crust

Serves 5
Biscuit recipe adapted slightly from The Joy of Cooking's Cheddar Herb Drop Biscuits

Ingredients - Sauce
2 Tbsp. butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 oz. soy turkey or chicken strips (real chicken or turkey may be used, but should be cooked separately)
1 cup water
1 cup skim milk
2 medium red bliss potatoes, cubed
1 cup baby Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp. Wonder flour (cornstarch will also work)
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients - Biscuits
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. skim milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and sweat the onions, carrots and celery with salt & pepper over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent. Add the soy turkey and cook a few minutes more. Add water, milk, potatoes and Brussels sprouts and simmer over medium heat about 10 minutes. Add the wonder flour and parsley, and cook a few minutes more until the sauce thickens. Add parsley and additional salt & pepper, and set aside.

To make the biscuits, add all ingredients to a bowl and mix with a fork until combined. Do not overbeat.

Pour the sauce into 5 individual casserole dishes or medium-sized ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Top each bowl with biscuit dough (dough should be about an inch thick and reach the edges of the dish). Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until biscuits have browned and sauce is bubbly.

Night on the Town

Last weekend the long-anticipated day finally arrived...the day we were to use those Jim Gaffigan tickets Matt gave me for my birthday last month! Our show started at 7:00 at the Borgata in Atlantic City, so my mom and sister came early to take Riker for the night so we could head down to cruise around the casino before the show.

The Borgata is gorgeous, but orange! ;-)

Matt's family joined us for the evening, and we had made a dinner reservation for the 7 of us at the casino's modern Italian restaurant, Fornelletto. The reservation process was a little nuts - they actually charge you $25 per person if you cancel or don't show up! - but it was totally worth it. The whole restaurant is set inside a wine "cellar", so you're eating among racks of aging wine bottles. Check out the wine list - it's made of cork! It's the little things. :)

The appetizers all sounded delicious, so our group decided to order a bunch of things and share. Starting with their calamari, covered in toasted pine nuts and fried basil. We are all suckers for calamari and pretty much have to order it wherever we go.

We also tried the wild mushroom and fontina crostini, which was earthy and delicious.

The shrimp scampi was also awesome - it was set over Israeli couscous, and the broth had a light tomato and white wine flavor. It was really different, but so good.

My favorite app, though, was the stuffed squash blossoms. I saw these things on Food Network a while ago (Jamie Oliver amazes me!), and have been intrigued ever since, so when I saw them on the menu I knew I had to try them. To make them, they take the flower off a blooming zucchini plant (which actually means the zucchini itself will never grow), then they stuff it with homemade burrata cheese (a softer, creamier version of mozzarella), dip it in tempura batter and fry it golden brown. Helllooo grease fest, but it was oh so worth it.

Three little blossoms split between a large group isn't that bad. ;-) We also all shared a salad with blackberries, avocados, oranges and other yummy things, but it went fast and unpictured. Can you tell we are appetizer fanatics?!

For my entree I wanted something light, so I skipped the brown butter gnocchi I was seriously eyeing, and went with a basil encrusted halibut with spring veggies.

It was a very good choice. The fish was perfectly cooked and the spring peas and asparagus were super flavorful. 

For dessert, we all split the cheesecake with Meyer lemon and the apple crostada with homemade gelato. I only had a small nibble of each since I was stuffed, but both were delicious.

Once our bellies were full, it was show time! 

This was seriously one of the funniest stand-ups I've ever seen. We were all cracking up with tears running down our faces. I can't wait to watch it again when it comes on TV!

We contemplated staying a while after the show to wander around and hang out, but our good friends Heather & Kevin were having a BBQ at their place and we wanted to stop by to see everyone, so we headed out right after the show. Which worked in our favor, because we were greeted by the most beautiful sunset!

I love wind turbines (call me crazy), so I loved this view.

It was such a great night, I was sad to see it end!

Off to do that work thang - only two more days until the weekend again!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Little Bit of Everything

Yay for the weekend! I've been waiting for today for a long time. My mom and sister are coming into town to stay with us for the weekend, and are watching Riker tonight while Matt and I head down to Atlantic City for the second half of my 30th birthday - to see Jim Gaffigan! I can hardly believe I finally get to see him live, I'm practically on the edge of my seat.

It seems like a bunch has been going on this week, so I'm going to share a few random things with you this morning. Here we go!

#1: A few weeks ago I was contacted by Clorox Green Works about joining their community and testing out some products, and I was thrilled to participate. I actually use a lot of Green Works products because they are natural and don't include harsh chemicals, so I was pumped when a box of new supplies arrived on my doorstep this week.

Can't wait to try 'em out!

#2: Yesterday I realized we are only one week away from going on vacation! I received the bill for the balance on our rental house in Maine, and it instantly gave me the vacation itch. I'm getting more excited by the minute to pack up and ship out for a week of lobster bakes, wild blueberries and puffin watching.

#3: Last night for dinner, I made this impromptu tortellini and asiago skillet. It was filled with broccoli, sundried tomatoes, white wine, onions, garlic, fresh basil from the garden, and shredded salty asiago cheese. Oh baby, this was good.

We ate it curled up on the couch listening to the thunderstorms and re-watching the last season of Breaking Bad. The new season starts in a few weeks and I seriously can't wait.

#4: Since finishing The Hunger Games trilogy a few weeks ago, I've been in search for a new page-turner. A few days ago I downloaded a random book recommended to me by Goodreads called "Favorite Wife, Escape from Polygamy," and needless to say, I'm hooked. This book is nuts!

My sister just arrived so we're headed to sit by the pool for a few hours before it's time to shower and head down to AC for the night. Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Black Bean & "Chorizo" Blue Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

Last night we got an early start on the weekend by having our friends Chris and Vanessa over for cocktails and dinner.

I love having Thursday night plans because they make the weekend feel so much longer. It was great to come home from a long day at work to this colorful pitcher of goodness waiting:

Vanessa made these beer cocktails based on a recipe she found on Pinterest. She just combined Coronas, 1 can of pink lemonade mix and a few ounces of vodka (she used pink lemonade vodka).  They were so tasty and refreshing for a hot summer day!

Since it was only around 95 degrees out and definitely not weather for cooking over a stove, the boys made us a feast on the grill. While our little Mexican barbecue was grilling away, we sipped on our cocktails and nibbled on chips & salsa on the patio.

By the time dinner was served, my mouth was watering. 


Homemade black bean & "chorizo" burgers stuffed with blue cheese and spread with chipotle mayo were on the menu, along with some grilled corn on the cob. If you're a fan of store bought black bean burgers, then you will LOVE these ones. They are crispy on the outside and soft & fluffy on the inside, and have a slight kick tempered by the tangy bite of the surprise blue cheese filling and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Both the boys, who are most definitely meat eaters, seriously loved these.

They take about an hour to make, but believe me, they are worth it. They are also enormous! I was stuffed before long, so only ate two bites of my corn and gave the last few bites of my burger to Matt. Be ready to stuff your face!

Black Bean & "Chorizo" Blue Cheese-Stuffed Burgers 
with Chipotle Mayo

Makes 5 large burgers

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cobs of corn, kernels removed
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. Adobo seasoning
1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
6 oz. soy chorizo ("soyrizo")
1 egg
6 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1 avocado, diced
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 chipotle + 1 tsp. adobo (from a can of chipotle in adobo)
Fresh lime wedges

In a saute pan, gently cook onions, habanero pepper, garlic and corn together until soft. Add chili powder and Adobo seasoning, then set aside. In a food processor blend the black beans until smooth, then transfer to a bowl.

Mix together the cooked veggies, pureed black beans, breadcrumbs, soyrizo and egg. Once combined, form into 10 small patties; the mixture will be wet, so use wax paper to form them. On 5 of the burgers, put a small amount of blue cheese in the center, then top with another patty (this is how you stuff the burgers). Once all burgers are stuffed, put in the refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until set. Cook the burgers on the grill or in a saute pan for about 4 minutes on each side, until hot and slightly crisp.

While burgers are cooking, make the sauce by combining the mayo with the chipotle and adobo sauce.

Serve burgers on toasted buns with the chipotle mayo, diced avocado and fresh lime juice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Garden Green

The time has finally arrived...

The tomatoes are ripening!

A few weeks ago when I was sipping fruity drinks and eating beignets in New Orleans, Matt was busy getting his hands dirty planting our annual garden.

I have a little secret. I always say I love gardening vegetables, but I actually really don't. I love picking the garden vegetables and eating them to my heart's content. Every year I'm determined to roll up my sleeves and get serious about the garden, but somehow I just can't bring myself to pull the weeds and hoe the dirt. It makes me feel so guilty! And I find it bizarre since I lovingly take care of my indoor plants all year long.

Once the stalks start to grow and the fruit starts to blossom, however, I get hooked on the garden. I love waking up and watering the plants before the sun comes up and the ground gets hot. I love inspecting the seedlings every night after dinner to look for tiny purple eggplants blooming and cherry tomatoes blushing red. I love that with the garden, we can enjoy healthy, clean, pesticide-free vegetables all summer long. I love passing out baskets of produce to our neighbors and preserving the overflowing veggies for the winter to come.

I especially love picking the ripe bounty and making delicious things for dinner. Last night I enjoyed this little gem from the garden. The very first red tomato of the season!

After seeing it, the only plan I had in mind was a sandwich for dinner. Thankfully Matt ate dinner with his dad before I got home, so I got this beauty all to myself. ;-) It was ripe, juicy and delicious on a whole wheat California "BLT" with hummus, veggie bacon and sliced avocado.

Now it really feels like summer. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Banana, Chocolate & Peanut Butter Pancakes

That's right. Bananas, chocolate chips and peanut butter, all together in one delicious little breakfast cake.


I made a batch of these on Sunday for Matt's Fathers Day breakfast, and they were deliciously sweet but, surprisingly, not too rich or filling. I used a "healthy" pancake recipe from as the base, then added a few additional flavors. Matt and I both love sliced bananas in our pancakes (in addition to smashed up bananas in the batter), so I also added more fruit; when you cook the pancakes, the banana slices become almost caramelized and give the pancakes a great texture as well as extra moisture.

Before serving, I slathered some all natural PB on top then drizzled over pure Vermont maple syrup. Omg. I also served our 'cakes alongside some Morningstar Farms vegetarian "bacon" (don't hate, it's delish!) and Kona coffee. A king's breakfast if you ask me!

Banana, Chocolate Chip & Peanut Butter Pancakes

Serves 4 (Adapted from Heart-Shaped Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes from

1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 large bananas (1 mashed, 1 sliced)
1 cup skim milk
3 egg whites
2 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips 
4 Tbsp. peanut butter

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, mashed bananas, egg whites, oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a fork until combined well. Do not overbeat.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Pour pancake batter out in 1/4 cup increments. Top each pancake with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of chocolate chips. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Once pancakes begin to bubble, flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Top pancakes with peanut butter and maple syrup. Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Matt's First Fathers Day

Happy Monday morning! I hope you all had a great weekend and were able to spend some time with the special dads in your life. I spent my Sunday enjoying the company of two of the greatest ones, in my opinion. ;-)

I had originally made big plans to take Matt to a Harbor Festival in Cape May, but at the last minute we decided to just stay around town and relax. We didn't feel like running around and dealing with traffic, and dads can be made to feel just as special at home as long as you make them pancakes for breakfast. ;-) Matt always wants them, and I always say no. But it was his day, so I gave him what he craves.

One of our favorite "us" songs is Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson, so it was only fitting to make these bad boys for his special breakfast. After breakfast, presents and a leisurely morning at home (and a THREE hour nap for Riker...wha??), we headed over to Matt's parents' to hang out with the rest of the family poolside.

Since we're creatures of habit, we brought lunch over from L. Gourmet again. Just as delicious the second time around, and it looked the same too, so I hope you don't mind a recycled photo. This time I only ate half my sandwich, though, thankfully. Those things are so filling.

We finished the day with a boat ride around the bay and down the river. It was Riker's first time on the boat, and I'm pretty sure he loved it, judging by the fact he kept leaning back and dozing off every 5 minutes.

I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful, serene place. And even more lucky to have a guy in my life who is such a great husband and wonderful father. Happy first Fathers Day, Matt, we love you!