Batter Licker

November 15, 2010

creole jambalaya

I love spicy foods, and when I have some peppers and onions left over from fajitas, jambalaya is a good way to make use of these veggies and other pantry items I always have on hand. Plus, jambalaya mixes it up a bit so the leftover-friendly dish has some bite without having the same Mexican flavor profile and doesn’t seem quite so left over.

Compared to other spicy, complex, and delicious Southern creole dishes, such as gumbos and étouffées, jambalaya is much simpler and less time consuming to prepare. But it still looks and tastes incredibly flavorful and much more labor intensive than it is, which is never a bad thing.

While there are several types of jambalaya out there, the creole variety is my personal preference. Not that I’d turn down a cajun jambalaya, but there’s something about the tomato-based creole version – probably the acidity of the tomatoes – that just really balances the spice intensiveness of this dish.

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Jambalaya is typically made with rice cooked directly in the sauce, but I usually do a pasta version. Pasta not only cooks faster than rice, but penne rigate is particularly fantastic for this dish because the ridges add texture and really catch more of the sauce. (more…)

November 11, 2010

cannellini bean, zucchini and tomato salad with balsamic vinegar

Filed under: beans,salad,vegan,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , — Kristen @ 7:52 pm

I was on a bit of a bean bender during summer and fall, frequently roasting garbanzo beans into crunchy, salty snacks or pureeing them into hummus. But all this time, there has been another bean in my lunch life: the creamy white cannellini bean.

Full of fiber, magnesium, and thiamin, the high-in-protein cannellini bean has provided the punch of energy I need around midday, even though I have most often consumed this bean in salad form.

Cannellini beans tossed with thin strips of zucchini and sliced tomatoes formed a creamy, crunchy, juicy salad that packed a lot of flavor and texture on its own. With just a light sprinkling of salt and pepper and a drizzle of sweetly acidic balsamic vinegar, this salad is delicious, healthy, and filling.

Bonus: it takes only a minute or two to throw together and is easy to pack for a work lunch, as it will last without refrigeration for several hours and won’t get soggy like a lettuce-based salad would. (more…)

November 10, 2010

shrimp, green bean, and tomato salad with dilled lemon-dijon vinaigrette

I don’t know what kind of magic spells Dirty Girl Produce casts on their tomatoes, but their dry farmed, late season tomatoes are still some of the most flavorful tomatoes I’ve ever had. So even in the midst of butternut squash season, I find myself craving their sweet, juicy, deep red tomatoes and buying multiple pounds of them at the farmers market, afraid that next weekend they’ll be gone forever … or at least until next summer.


Some might say I’ve been devouring tomatoes since I was a kid. And they’d be right. As a child, I was very excited to help my mom plant seeds in our vegetable garden and grew impatient as I watched them slowly blossom into cherry tomatoes. Then, of course, I borrowed a tomato or two off the vine for a midday snack and lied about it. Tomatoes missing? Must have been a deer. Or a turkey. Or a rabbit. Or a crow. (Thankfully, I grew up in the boonies of California, where it was not uncommon to find deer snacking on our lawn. So my stories always worked.)


Here, tomatoes provide a juicy sweetness and green beans add a nice, fresh crunch to this salad, while marinated herbed shrimp have hearty meatiness and a bright, tangy flavor that matches well with the veggies and the tangy Dilled Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette. (more…)

dilled lemon-dijon vinaigrette

Do you buy pre-made, bottled vinaigrette for your salads? If so, it’s okay. I’m not one to judge on this matter. Occasionally, I go on a Kraft Ranch Dressing bender. And I’ve been buying Girard’s Greek Feta Vinaigrette for years; with each purchase, I told myself that this one would be my last and that I was only making this last purchase so I could figure out how to recreate it from scratch with fresh ingredients at home. And so I lied to myself. Several times, and over several years. And I still haven’t even attempted it.

Having said that, vinaigrette is so easy to make at home, and tastes so fresh and delicious compared to the store-bought stuff that I really should make it from scratch more often. With a handy food processor or immersion blender (or even a whisk!) by my side, it literally takes seconds to come together.

With the citrusy bite of lemon and mustardy kick of Dijon balanced by a hint of tangy fresh dill and a touch of sweet honey, this particular vinaigrette is great on everything from salads and pastas to fish and chicken. (more…)

November 9, 2010

caramelized onion and feta pastry bites

Filed under: appetizer,cheese — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 12:12 pm

I blame my friend Kelsey for my consumption of Trader Joe’s has these Caramelized Onion and Feta Pastry Bites every since she introduced them to me at a dinner party a few years back. They make a perfect appetizer, not only because the fillo pastry dough is stuffed with an irresistibly yummy feta-cream cheese mixture topped with caramelized onions, but also because they go from freezer to oven to mouth in 20 minutes.

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So, of course, I had to figure out how to make them at home. (more…)

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