zucchini goat cheese pizza

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Where the heck did June go? I distinctly remember flipping my calendar at work and thinking, “Smell ya later, May showers.” I admired the picture that would become my June view (a porch in Tuscany…yes, I own a calendar of porch views. Don’t judge me). And then apparently life happened (birthdays, graduations, a four year anniversary (!), cook outs, a trip to the beach, etc.), and I neglected my poor, little blog. If this blog was a kid, CPS would’ve been called ages ago. Maybe if this blog cried or smelled bad when I ignored it, then I’d be more inclined to check in. Hear that, WordPress gods? A stinky blog is an updated blog. Just an FYI.

But I’m back now with a new-found resolve to keep the cobwebs off this tiny internet space. And I want to reinvigorate you with a truly delicious dinner. A dinner that is PERFECT for May June whatever month this is: Smitten Kitchen’s Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza.

Have you finally jumped on the homemade pizza bandwagon I’ve been trying to get you on for the past year or so? It’s SO EASY and the pay-off is huge. Start with KAF’s pizza crust. On top of that goes goat cheese and lemon juice and salt and pepper. Then zucchini. Then lemon juice. Then olive oil. Couldn’t be simpler. Couldn’t be tastier.

I made this for dinner, but it would make a really fun appetizer for a party. Especially with the cocentric rings of yellow and green zucchini. People will think you’re super schmancy and will feel bad about using the hand towels in your bathroom. These are things you’ll just have to get used to when you make this pizza for friends. You’ve been warned.

baked mushroom risotto with caramelized onions

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This past week, for the first time in months, I have been able to go without my puffer jacket, woolen beanie, and leather gloves. It’s been warm in these parts. In fact, it’s been downright hot, and I love it.

My joy over the ushering in of spring/summer after a long winter can’t be overstated. My toes are painted, my sun dresses are out in full force, and–perhaps best of all–I can drive around with the windows down while blasting my favorite tunes. Sidebar: Do you also secretly hope that someone will drive up next to your car when you’re blaring your 90s alternative mix and think, “Wow, I am totally impressed by this stranger’s musical selections and can tell that she is unquestionably, effortlessly cool.” No? Just me? Okay, moving on…

I bought the ingredients for this risotto when it was cold out. I made it when it was 90 degrees. So I speak from experience when I say that this dish is awesome in any weather. It’s hearty and flavorful and everything a risotto should, nay, must be. And this is coming from a risotto aficionado.**

**Just so we’re clear, in my world, “risotto aficianado” = eats a lot of risotto. But you probably figured out that for yourself.

Make this, okay? You won’t be sorry.

chicken b’stilla

Chicken B'Stilla

There’s a restaurant where I live called Casablanca. And as you might imagine, it serves Moroccan fare. But what makes this particular restaurant extra awesome is the kitschy decor (so much fake gold leaf!), the giant pillows that you sit on instead of chairs, and the belly dancers that shake and shimmy around you.

I’ve been to Casablanca a bunch of times–it’s one of my favorite places to take guests, since it’s so over the top. Better still, the food is actually really good. My favorite starter has always been the B’stilla, which is essentially a savory chicken pie covered in a phyllo dough topped with a dusting of cinnamon sugar. It may sound a little strange, but It. Is. Awesome.

I found this particular B’stilla recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. And while it’s not the simplest recipe around (nor is it the quickest), it is really, truly delicious. Better, I think, than its nearby counterpart. Maybe it’s the soupçon of love added in? Or perhaps it’s just the honey. Either way, yum.

slow cooker spinach lasagna

Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna

Auuuuuugh.

That’s the sound I made when I woke up on this, the first Monday after “Springing Forward.” My typical day starts at 5 am. Due to the time change, it really started at 4 am. Which, to me, is the equivalent of being mauled by a bear while simultaneously being dunked in ice water.

Then, after nearly crashing and burning during my entire morning routine (including somehow sandwiching my earlobe between the plates of my hot straightening iron), I arrived at the metro to find a crowded platform and 20 minute delays.

So, yeah, the best way I can describe today is, “Auuuuuuugh.” That is until I got home, opened the door, and was smacked in the nose with the awesome smell of a spinach lasagna cooking in the crock pot.

Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna

That smell (and the subsequent dinner)? Heaven. I had my doubts about the quality of a lasagna made in a slow cooker, but it was really, truly delicious. The lasagna (courtesy of Real Simple) is super cheesy and flavorful, and holds its shape like a champ.

Next time, I’m going to brown some hot Italian sausage to throw in with the layers of cheese, spinach, marinara and noodles, but this version is a fantastic starting (and ending) point.

mustard-soy glazed salmon with brown sugar and ginger

You know that saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”?  Well, the other day, life totally gave me lemons. And not the metaphorical kind. I literally found a bag of zested lemons in our freezer. (No, I don’t clean out our freezer very often–why do you ask?)

And while it was kinda fun finding a hidden ziplock of icy tartness, it seriously did me no good. I was scouring the freezer in a last ditch effort to find SOMETHING to make for dinner, and lemons weren’t going to do the trick.

So off to Harris Teeter I went, returning with two very large salmon filets and only a vague idea of what to do with them. Lucky for me, my trusty Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking came to the rescue with Mustard-Soy Glazed Salmon with Brown Sugar and Ginger.

All you need are a few common ingredients: soy sauce, Dijon mustard, ground ginger, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, brown sugar and butter. Make a sauce, slap it on the salmon, sprinkle it with sugar and butter, bake it for 15 minutes, and enjoy the heck out of it.

Seriously, if I had known cooking salmon could be this easy and this yummy, I would’ve made it many, many times, instead of always relying on my old stand-bys of chicken, turkey, and beef. Sometimes even this old cook can learn new tricks. 🙂

shredded brussels sprouts salad

I know that sharing a salad as my first post of the New Year is akin to saying, hey fellow binge-eating cookie lovers! Let’s get this food thing under control, shall we? Let’s gnaw on celery and baby carrots, and try to convince ourselves that these snacks will ABSOLUTELY hit the spot.

But (I pinky-swear) that’s not what I’m getting at at all. While I’m all for thoughtful eating, I’m also all for eating delicious, home-made food. It’s in this spirit that I’m sharing this recipe for Addictive Brussels Sprouts Salad from Shutterbean.

Sure, it’s a salad. But it’s also delicious, containing all sorts of yummy ingredients like Parmigiano-Reggiano and toasted walnuts and a Dijon dressing. It’s sophisticated and filling and goes with just about any main dish.

So whether salads are part of your New Year resolutions or you just like to eat well, this salad is sure to satisfy.

curried butternut squash soup with bleu cheese

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This time of year, I find that I’m in the kitchen a lot. On any given evening, you’ll find me with my hair pulled back, apron on, and flour streaked across my cheek. It’s a great look and I anticipate my spread for Vogue being shot any day now.

The downside to all of this kitchen-time is that most of it is baking-related, which severely cuts in to my “real food” making time. And it’s an incredible bummer to spend hours on your feet in front of a hot oven, only to be left starving, surrounded by piles of cookies you baked for other people. Ugh.

That’s why, especially during the holiday season, it’s imperative that we all have a couple of easy, hearty recipes in our back pockets. Pink Parsley’s Curried Butternut Squash Soup is just such a recipe.  Creamy, filling, spicy, EASY, this soup is an absolute crowd-pleaser. Serve it as a main or side dish and win some extra points by topping it with bleu cheese or a dollop of greek yogurt (yummmm…).

Happy eating!

shaved asparagus pizza

Not that long ago, I met a friend for Happy Hour at a local bar. It was a pretty classy joint, so I was surprised when I saw the “shots girls” walking around the place, with their trays of booze samples and microscopic shorts.

They stopped where we were sitting and offered us their wares: shots of Pinnacle Whipped Vodka (i.e. vodka that tastes like whipped cream).  Isn’t science amazing? I’m so glad that lab is churning out flavored vodka and not wasting time on something worthless, like the cure for cancer or eye shadow that doesn’t crease.

Because I did a shot (and didn’t vomit, I guess), I got a free t-shirt. Wanna see it?

Yup. “I got whipped in DC.”

When I got home, Nate was all like, “That’ll be a good dust rag,” and frankly I was a little shocked that he didn’t see the shirt’s potential. So I made a list of places I could wear it:

-The grocery store

-Church picnics

-Casual Fridays

-Rodeos

-Babysitting my friend’s kids

The list is endless, really.

In fact, I’ve already worn it while making this Shaved Asparagus Pizza from Annie’s Eats. (Granted, it didn’t get the air time I’d like, but it did make quite the statement in my kitchen.)

I started with my favorite pizza crust from King Arthur Flour (though you could certainly follow Annie’s suggestion in her recipe). Then I went to town with the mozzarella, Boursin garlic cheese, and shaved asparagus. It’s a really simple combination of flavors, but the results are out of this world.

We liked it so much, that we actually made the pizza TWICE this week. That’s a record in this condo.

Enjoy!

vietnamese shaky beef

Last night, I clocked somewhere around four hours of sleep because I couldn’t get a Foo Fighters song out of my head.

I thought that happened to everyone, but today a number of friends assured me that it doesn’t.

Suffice it to say, I felt pretty crappy by the time my alarm rang at 5 am.  I even think Remy the Cat sensed I was off–her meows had a more concerned tone than usual. Meow? MEOW?

I got ready in a haze. I caught the bus in a haze. I boarded the metro in a haze.

Then I saw this ad for the United Arab Emirates on the wall of my metro car:

And I had to stop myself from laughing out loud, because the image of a handful of lovely stewardesses walking towards the camera with one missing a big, ol’ front tooth (obviously the work of a metro-riding artist) was–to me, the girl who got four hours of sleep last night–ridiculously brilliant.

Also brilliant? Home made Shaky Beef, courtesy of the ever-awesome Skinny Taste.

There are a few extra steps in this recipe (make the marinade, whisk the vinaigrette, pickle the onions, whip up the dipping sauce), but it’s these touches that make the dish super authentic (as verified by my Vietnamese friend) and really fantastically yummy.

We thought the dish was perfect as-is (so many flavors!), but then my friend suggested having some Jasmine rice on the side for good measure. And I can only imagine that the addition of the rice could take this from awesomer to awesomest.

Why don’t you be the judge?

crazy-good shrimp salad rolls

In my neck of the woods, we have these things called “food trucks.”

Oh, you’ve heard of them?

Well then, I’m sure you know about the cupcake trucks, and the Ethiopian trucks, and the Korean BBQ trucks, and the popcorn trucks. And the popsicle trucks, and the Mediterranean trucks, and the taco trucks. BUT have you heard of the lobster roll truck? It’s a game changer.

Imagine, if you will, buttery chunks of lobster meat, lightly mixed with mayo, piled on a crusty bun. Pretty amazing, right?

Now imagine you’re on a budget. And you don’t live in Maine. And you aren’t married to a fish monger. But you’re really craving some sweet, sweet seafood. Then I suggest you make these Shrimp Salad Rolls and go to town.

Just like their lobster roll cousins, these yummies are made up of crustaceans sautéed in butter, mixed with mayo and lemon, and sprinkled with herbs. But unlike their cousins, these rolls are light (as in, featured in Cooking Light). So you can eat them with reckless abandon. Which is pretty much my MO with all food.

Enjoy!