Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Potato Salad

Ah this recipe brings me back to my last pool party of the season!  It was mid September and still swelteringly hot.  I invited lots of friends and family over for a fun day poolside.  Everyone brought something delicious to eat and drink.  I served the oatmeal raisin cookies from yesterday's post, root beer pulled pork, and this potato salad.

Let me be clear: I usually hate potato salad.  You know how I feel about mayonnaise, but even without it, the thought of goopy salads is just gross.  This salad, though?  Not goopy.  And full of not just potatoes (which I love) but hard boiled eggs, celery, scallions, even finely chopped dill pickles!  Add that to the flavor of fresh dill, whole grain mustard, and paprika?  You've got yourself a potato salad.  I, of course, ignore the fact that the recipe calls for a mix of Greek yogurt and mayo, and use the yogurt alone.  I promise you that even yogurt-haters don't notice; there's enough flavor in there.

It may not be potato salad season (or pool party season), but hey, it's a holiday weekend.  It's not too late to make potato salad!  Give it another couple weeks, and it will just seem weird.  You'd better get on it now.


potato salad
from Two Peas and Their Pod
serves 4 - 6

2 pounds Russet potatoes, washed and peeled, cut in half
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup light mayonnaise (you can sub more yogurt!)
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped dill pickles
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1)  In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.  Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water.  Once the potatoes are cool, cut them into chunks, about 1/2-inch pieces.  Place potatoes in a large bowl.

2) In another large bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and mustards.  Pour the mixture over the potatoes and gently stir with a rubber spatula until the potatoes are well coated.  Add the onions, celery, pickles, eggs, dill and paprika.  Gently stir again.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.  Serve immediately or chill for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This kind of weather has me really missing summer.  I'm not the type to wax poetic about the fall.  But when my classroom is 59 degrees in the morning, and we can't afford to turn the heat on, I really get nostalgic for summer days.

I suppose the one good thing about the cooler weather is that it makes me feel a bit more like baking. It's hard to feel motivated to turn on the oven when it's 90 degrees outside.  But when it's dark at 6:00 and freezing, what else is there to do but bake?

The next time you feel the urge to bake just to warm up your house, may I suggest these soft and chewy oatmeal raisin cookies?  This is one time that the name of a cookie perfectly describes it.  These are soft and chewy cookies, full of more oats than you'd expect, and plenty of raisins as well.  Oh, and as for the raisins?  Soak them in water for 10 minutes before you use them, and then drain.  They'll be extra plump and juicy.  Genius raisin hack.  Then, add some walnuts if you're so inspired.  There's even some molasses in there to add a depth of flavor that you can't quite put your finger on (but there it is).  It's a good cookie, that's all there is to it.  And it makes your house smell nice, and it might even help warm up your kitchen a little if you're refusing to turn the heat on in your house.


soft and chewy oatmeal raisin cookies
from Sally's Baking Addiction
yield 2 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins (soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained)
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)


1) Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth.  Add the eggs and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  Add the vanilla and molasses and mix on high until combined.  Set aside.

2) In a separate bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together.  Add to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined.  Beat in the oats, raisins, and walnuts if using on low speed.  Dough will be thick and very sticky.  Chill the dough for 30 - 60 minutes in the refrigerator.  You can chill up to 2 days; just allow the dough to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking.

3) Prehreat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper of silicone baking mats.  Set aside.

4) Roll balls of dough (about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough per cookie) and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes until very lightly browned on the sides.  The centers will look very soft and undone.  Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  The cookies will continue to set on the baking sheet during this time.  Cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.  Baked cookies freeze well - up to the 3 months.  Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze for up to 3 months as well; bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute - no need to thaw.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Caesar Pasta Salad

When school first started last month, Kenzie and I had grand plans to make tons of salads to bring for lunches.  No leftovers for us - just salads.  Probably in mason jars.  And fresh fruit and huge jugs of water maybe with a few sprigs of mint and lemon slices.

Real life now that we've been back at the grind for over a month?  Well let's just say my lunch today consisted of a store-bought granola bar, a pear, and some leftover lentil dal (recipe coming!).  Water, minus the mint and lemon.  No mason jar to be found.  And that's okay.  Leftovers are delicious and I don't even like mint that much.

But that first week, with our overzealous salad makings, we stumbled upon this salad.  Imagine combining caesar salad with pasta salad, and voila: you have caesar pasta salad.  There's everything from croutons and tomatoes and romaine lettuce to penne and, if you choose, chicken (I left it out, of course).  You make your own caesar dressing, too, complete with anchovies and everything.  Or, if you're freaked out by that like me, you can leave them out and just double the Worcestershire sauce.  Don't worry, the dressing is super flavorful without it.  I also swapped out the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt, as I always do.

The end result is a creamy, tasty pasta salad that reminds you vaguely of caesar salad but is way more fun.  I was a little worried at how the leftovers would be for our lunches, but it was still good one day later (and that was all that was left).  I am not sure how long the lettuce would stay good with the dressing, but I think the pasta helps by absorbing a lot of the extra moisture.  Perfect for a good lunch - and nothing makes your work day better than a great lunch waiting for you all morning, am I right?


caesar pasta salad
from Spicy Southern Kitchen
serves 4-6 as a main dish or 6 - 8 as a side

1 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 anchovies, finely minced (or substitute for an extra teaspoon Worcestershire sauce)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound penne pasta, cooked until al dente and rinsed with cool water
6 large leaves Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
4 green onions, green parts sliced
1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 grilled chicken breasts, diced (optional)
1 1/2 cups croutons


1) In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise through the Worcestershire sauce.

2) Toss half of the dressing with the pasta and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3) Mix in the remaining ingredients, including the remaining dressing.  Serve.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pasta with Raw Fresh Tomato Sauce

Two posts in a row now where both are for summery foods.  And it could not feel less summery today.  Last night I had my fireplace going.  Ugh.  But it's better late than never.  And this is probably the best pasta dish you will eat (next summer).  And also for the second post in a row, it's one I kind of threw together!

We had lots of big gorgeous tomatoes from my aunt and uncle's garden: heirloom tomatoes that were huge, heavy, and juicy.  I knew I wanted to feature them in a pasta dish, but I thought cooking them was kind of a shame.  When you cook tomatoes, they all taste like tomatoes.  But fresh heirloom tomatoes are something else entirely.  I decided to try my hand at a raw tomato sauce.  I had seen some recipes like that on Pinterest, and gave it a shot with what I had on hand.

The end result was a fantastic dish that had way more flavor than I expected it to.  The tomatoes were able to keep their flavor, brightened up by basil and thyme (I used dried, but I think fresh would be even better if you have them).  Garlic is a must for any tomato sauce, of course.  And that's it.  Don't overdo it.  Let your tomatoes rule the roost; they deserve it.  They only get to be the stars for like 3 months a year, after all.


pasta with raw fresh tomato sauce
a Bridget Cooking original
serves 4

2 large tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
1 minced clove garlic
1 pound pasta


1) Chop the tomatoes, reserving seeds and juice.  Combine tomatoes, basil, thyme, and garlic.  Let sit for 15 minutes or more for flavors to mesh.

2) Cook pasta according toe package directions.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.

3) Combine hot pasta with raw tomato sauce.  Add a little pasta water if needed.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fresh Corn Salad

I know, I know.  Fresh corn is sort of over since it's now October.  But back in late August, it was still glorious.  Mom, Rachael and I went to Idylwilde Farm in Acton, which is a place that makes me wish I was rich.  It's a farm stand that goes beyond veggies (although the ones they have are gorgeous, as you can see below).  They also make sandwiches, soups, pies, Chinese food, salads, pasta dishes, casseroles... you name it.  I had a to-die-for Caprese sandwich there, and we also grabbed a free sample of corn salad.  It was so simple, and yet so delicious.  What I could see were fresh corn kernels and scallions, and that was about all I could taste, too; it was fresh, bright, sweet, and let the corn be the star.

I decided to recreate it at home with some of their corn.  I know, who am I, right?  "I'm going to make my own recipe."  I never say that.  But I did say it, and I did it, too.  It was so simple, even I could figure it out.  I decided not to cook the corn because all summer long, adding fresh corn to dishes was sort of my thing.  I like to leave it sweet and poppy.  Then I dressed it as simply as possible with a tiny bit of olive oil.  You could add honey if you want to make more of a sweet dressing, but again, I wanted the corn to be the rock star of the dish.  I couldn't ignore the scallions, and salt and pepper were a must. Then I was done.  And this dish was devoured faster than you could believe (almost faster than it was to make it, which is very fast since it's one step!).  It tastes like summer.  I hope you remember it next summer when corn comes back in season! :(


fresh corn salad
a Bridget Cooking original, inpired by Idylwilde Farm's salad
serves 4

3 - 4 ears of corn, kernels removed from cobs
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3 scallions, diced
salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Serve room temperature or cold.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cakes

Are these not the most beautiful little cakes you have ever seen?  I alway get excited when I find a recipe that makes delicious food that also happens to be pretty, because normally, pretty food is not my forte.

The cakes are rich, moist chocolate cakes - like, so moist that it was kind of hard to use the cute-shaped cookie cutters on them because they were so sticky.  I think its the buttermilk and the coffee that add both moisture and flavor.  The frosting is a raspberry buttercream made from beating egg whites like crazy with sugar and raspberry puree.  We cheated and used raspberry jam instead of fresh raspberry puree so that we could save the berries for topping the cakes.  It still made a perfectly pink, sweet, fruity frosting, so it worked just fine.

My mom actually found this recipe for me, and we worked on making the mini cakes for my aunt Susie's birthday.  She loved them and agreed that they were maybe the most beautiful little cakes ever baked.  My family kept a few and devoured them (and perhaps my mom ate the scraps of cake dipped in the leftover frosting... don't judge us).


chocolate raspberry mini cakes
from Sprinkles for Breakfast

for chocolate cake:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
for raspberry buttercream:
4 egg whites
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces raspberries (plus extra for garnish)
pink food coloring (optional)


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a half sheet pan with baking spray and parchment.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.  Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.

3) Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  The batter will be thin.   Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Place on wire rack and let cool completely while you make frosting.

4) To make the buttercream frosting, combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.  Whisk constantly with a whisk until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

5) Put mixture in a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form (about 10 minutes).  The mixture should be fluffy and glossy and completely cool.

6) Put mixer on low-medium speed and add butter a little at a time.  Once all the butter has been added, add vanilla and increase speed of mixer to high.  Let mix for 3 - 5 minutes.

7) Puree 4 ounces of raspberries in a blender.  Press the raspberry puree through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of all seeds.  Discard seeds.

8) Add puree to buttercream and beat until the frosting is smooth.  If you want, you can add a little punk food coloring as well.

9) To assemble the cakes: once the cakes are completely cool, use a 2" cutter to cut out circles of cake.  Using a knife, cut the circle in half horizontally and separate the 2 layers.  Fill a piping bag with a star tip with raspberry buttercream, and pipe a circle on the bottom layer.  Place the top layer back on top and pipe a circle on the top.  Top each one with a fresh raspberry.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Caribbean Shrimp Kabobs

Okay I'm a good month or so behind when it comes to recipes.  So even though it's fall (officially now), and people are drinking pumpkin coffee and wearing boots, I am going to tell you about some grilled shrimp that I made in August.  I mean, it's not so cold that you can't grill anymore, so if you're freaking out about summer ending (like I am), then go ahead and make this meal this week and pretend it's August, or pretend you're in the Caribbean, or just pretend it's anything but a muggy late September Tuesday.

Obviously this meal isn't exactly up my alley, but my family loved it.  Even I have to admit that the marinade sounded good: orange and lime juices, cilantro, chili powder, and garlic add lots of flavor.  The shrimp marinates in it (for no more than 30 minutes, by the way, or the citrus juices start to cook the shrimp and make them tough), and then you actually cook the leftover marinade in a saucepan after you take the shrimp out.  It becomes a sauce that you drizzle over the freshly-grilled shrimp for even more flavor.  Win-win.

I made the marinate and Nick did the grilling, and I am pretty sure every shrimp kabob was devoured.  It was tasty and easy and delicious (and healthy - only 260 calories per skewer!)  I made some rice and beans for myself, but it made a good Caribbean-themed side.  May I suggest some sort of tropical drink to go with it?  Don't judge me.  It's been a long week.  And it's only Tuesday :)


Caribbean shrimp kabobs
from Parade Magazine, August 2015
serves 4

1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds peeled large raw shrimp with tails, deveined
4 12-inch wooden or metal skewers


1)Whisk together first 7 ingredients (through garlic) in a large shallow dish or zip-top bag.  Add shrimp.  Cover or seal, and chill 30 minutes.  If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for the 30 minutes.

2) Light charcoal grill or preheat gas grill to 350 - 400 degrees (medium high).  Remove shrimp from marinade; reserve marinade.  Thread shrimp onto skewers so they touch each other.

3) Grill shrimp, covered with grill lid, 2 minutes on each side, or just until shrimp turn pink.  Meanwhile, bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan and cook 5 minutes.  Remove from heat; drizzle over grilled shrimp.