February 2013

Roasted Carrot + Avocado Salad

I loved this salad! How fun and different and lovely-looking. There are recipes all over for this salad (starting with Bon Appetit and then here and here)…I just modified based on what I had in my kitchen. There are a few too many ingredients in the original, and I can’t imagine that I really missed out on the coriander seeds.

Recipe (serves 2)
  • 8-10 medium sized carrots + olive oil for roasting
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 avocado + a drizzle of lemon juice for preserving
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, preferably toasted (skillet on low for 3-5 min)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the carrots with plenty of olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Roast for about 25-30 minutes, depending on your carrot size.Mix the dressing ingredients – 1 T. olive oil, 1 T. red wine vinegar, juice from one lemon, and thyme. Slice the avocado and drizzle with any excess lemon juice. Toss the carrots, avocado, dressing, and sesame seeds in a bowl and serve.

Flank Steak Fajitas

75 degrees and sunny on a February day in Dallas
meant grilling needed to be incorporated into our Sunday dinner. We’ve
also been eating a lot of Mexican lately, which I think is sort of like
chocolate: the more you eat the more you want.
So, grilling Mexican = fajitas. What kind to make? Steak, because I’m
feeling iron-deficient lately. At least I think that’s what it means
when you have an overwhelming craving for meat, right?
The key to a good flank steak is a good marinade,
and this gives great Mexican flavor. My mom made a similar recipe a few
months ago that sparked this idea, and I just modified with a few of my
favorite ingredients (Worcestershire, zest
of any kind…). For those of you living in the chilly Midwest, you may
want to pocket this recipe until you can enjoy it on the patio with a
  • 2 lbs flank steak
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • Zest from one lime (about 1 tablespoon)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 spoonful canned jalapenos (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon each S&P
Mix all the marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag,
and add the steak. Marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Remove the steak from the marinade and season with coarse salt.
Heat the
grill to high, and grill the steak about 5 minutes per side.  Let sit for about 5 minutes before slicing (thin and across the grain).
Serve on
warm tortillas with grilled veggies and sour
cream. And guacamole and grilled potatoes.


Lemon Cake

Unfortunately, my husband chose lemon cake for his birthday. Call me selfish, but I was really hoping for chocolate. Lemon cake has always confused me a bit, but maybe as I get older and my taste buds mature I will come to appreciate the lighter and fresher taste a lemon cake has to offer.
That being said, this was definitely tasty. I would never choose it for my birthday, but this was good. I imagine making it on a crisp spring day and enjoying it with a hot cup of tea in the garden. I don’t like tea, but I’m sure some day I will.
  • 1 Duncan Hines Lemon Cake Mix (18.25 oz)
  • 1 Pkg Instant Lemon Pudding (4 serving)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a bundt pan. Mix all ingredients, pour into the pan, and bake for about 40-45 minutes.  Let cool for about 20 minutes before dumping it out. LESSON LEARNED: Do NOT buy the Betty Crocker cake mix. I did this the first time, and it turned out really small and really dense – it turns out the cake mix is 3 oz smaller and already includes pudding!
  • ~1/2 bag powdered sugar
  • Juice from 1 large lemon or 2 small
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

For the frosting, mix all ingredients with an electric hand mixer. Add only enough milk to bring it to the right consistency.  Drizzle over the cooled cake, and garnish with lemons.


I’ve done a lot of chocolate chip cookie research in my day, and these are my favorite. I shouldn’t say ‘best,’ because the fact is that everybody likes different types of cookies. These are soft and chewy. Really, really, soft and chewy. And, we just got back from a vacation in Key West and I ate another one when we got home – yep, they stay just as chewy and soft over a week later (though it may be weird that I even tried).  They are pretty much the standard chocolate chip cookie recipe, with a little less sugar and a box of vanilla pudding mix included. Recipe here.

Grape Jelly Meatballs

Yes, these are as good as they look. This recipe is courtesy of my mother-in-law Jane, with a few minor additions because I like adding ‘dashes’ of things.
There are two things that sparked my strong desire to make these: 1. The huge hit they were at the Braley family Christmas party this year and 2. The mysterious jar of Welch’s Grape Jelly that has been sitting in our fridge for almost a year that neither of us will fess up to purchasing. My husband claims he did not buy the grape jelly because he would never buy grape jelly and he in fact just recently purchased a jar of strawberry. I did NOT buy the grape jelly because I would never buy grape jelly and the jar is of enormous proportions – and I did not start going to Sam’s club until John let me in on his membership.
Regardless, I don’t really care for grape jelly in any setting other than meatballs. And even that I didn’t know I liked until just recently.
  • 1 package frozen Italian meatballs, appetizer size (~60)
  • 2 12 oz. bottles Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 1 32 oz. jar Grape Jelly
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • Several dashes Worcestershire
  • Dash yellow mustard
Preheat the oven to 350. Throw the ‘balls into a large pot with a cover (or the crockpot), mix all the sauce ingredients and pour it over the meatballs. Bake in the oven for about 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. Serve them with toothpicks, then make them into a meatball sub the next day. Or do whatever you like with them.  GUARANTEED a huge hit at your next party.

Roasted Chicken [Little]

I apologize for the reference to your childhood friend, Chicken Little (or Henny Penny to some of you). But when I roasted this teeny tiny chicken all I could think of was Chicken Little. Of course that sort of vision is what turns many people into vegetarians. Not me.
There’s nothing as plain, simple, and comforting as a roasted chicken. I had just gotten back from a long week of travel to Singapore, and wanted just that. I have no justification for buying such a small chicken other than that it was cute. And made just enough chicken for 2 large servings and a bit leftover for chicken salad.
  • 1 3lb whole chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • pinch minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 small bag carrots
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 lb mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • olive oil
  • S&P
Preheat the oven to 425. Rinse the chicken, then pat dry inside and out. Tie the legs of the chicken together, breast side up. Generously salt and pepper the inside and outside.  Squeeze half of the lemon inside the chicken, and the other half on the outside. Place both halves of the lemon inside the cavity, along with the rosemary sprig and garlic.  Place the chicken in a large roasting dish. Sprinkle the chicken with thyme, then pour on the melted butter.  Toss the vegetables with olive oil and S&P, then place them in the roasting dish around the chicken. Pour about 1/2 cu white wine around the chicken and in the vegetables.
Roast the chicken at 425 for about 20 minutes to get a nice brown skin, then reduce the oven to 325 and roast for another hour to hour-fifteen, until the juices run clear. Tent with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes before carving.