Monthly Archives: June 2012

Comedy of Cooking Errors

Anna & Tim recently had a baby, a precious baby.  To celebrate/help/see the baby I took them dinner.  I had great hopes for the dinner–homemade meat loaf, mashed potatoes, caramelized green beans and onion and a chocolate chess pie to finish off.

And the errors began:

1. I put the pie in the oven before it had reached its final temperature so it came out in a cracked mess.

2. I got home late from work and didn’t have enough time to finish cooking the meatloaf without giving the whole family meat poisoning.

3. The mashed potatoes (with cream cheese & butter for ingredients) was accidentally left out on the counter overnight providing yet another opportunity to give the family some lovely stomach aches.

4. All above= whomp, whomp.

After the errors ended, I was left with caramelized green beans and strawberries with whipped cream.  Not exactly the meal I was hoping to take.  With my pride left at home, I stopped by Harris Teeter and bought chicken and twice baked potatoes arriving red-faced and with apologies.  Anna and Tim were gracious and made me feel like bring a Harris Teeter meal to first-time parents was completely acceptable. In my thoughts it was not, especially a Harris Teeter meal bought at 6 pm when every other person in Raleigh has stopped by to pick up their evening’s dinner.

I will  redeem myself in the next few months, but at this point all I have to say is welcome to the world, sweet Emmie!



When you have these……



you don’t mind the heat and frizzy hair from the humidity.

Take Out or Cook In?

I love Fried Rice.  I can’t be more clear than that four word statement.  I love it and I don’t care how bad it is for me.  Fried rice is a dish that there isn’t a need to try making because it just can’t be as good as the Chinese restaurant down the street or so that was my thinking until the April 2012 issue of Southern Living.

The magazine featured a Chicken Fried Rice as a main dish but we made it as a vegetarian meal during the week.  In doubling the spicy it was almost too hot for my taste but was agreeable enough to Andrew that he didn’t complain too much about the lack of chicken or steak.  While I still have a slight preference for take-out fried rice, it is only slight and this recipes guarantees that we’ll eat at least 2 vegetables and 1 fruit in the meal.  Into the rotation it goes.


3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced red bell pepper

1 pound haricots verts (tiny green beans), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

4 cups cooked basmati rice

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp.  Asian chili-garlic sauce

  1. 1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 1 minute; add eggs, and cook, gently stirring, 1 to 2 minutes or until softly scrambled. Remove eggs from skillet; chop.
  2. 2. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in skillet; add onion, bell pepper, and green beans, and stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add chicken, and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add rice, soy sauce, and chili-garlic sauce; stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in scrambled eggs; sprinkle with desired toppings.
Bibliography: Slightly modified from the April 2012 Southern Living magazine, Chicken Fried Rice

Rainy Day Dinner

It poured on Tuesday. Poured buckets for several hours. By the time I got home from work in the rain and traffic (side note below), I knew two things.  I wasn’t eating the hard boil eggs and hummus in the refrigerator and I wasn’t going to make anything that took more than 5-10 minutes to get together.

Enter the mini-quiches from Better Homes & Garden Magazine.  They took 5-10 minutes of effort and I didn’t have to resort to the strangest dinner ever.  My favorite part was the parmesan crust.  I’m of the mind at this point that all crusts should be made with parmesan cheese from this day forward.

Side note: As of this year, rain has almost the same impact on traffic as snow–a grueling halt.


2 c. all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup olive oil

5 to 7 Tbsp. ice cold water

1 egg

1/3 c. milk

black pepper to taste

1/3 c. finely shredded Pepper Jack cheese (Better Homes & Gardens said to use Monterey Jack or Gruyere cheese)

1 Tbsp. chopped green onion

5 to 6 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced

Fresh herb leaves

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and spray twenty-four muffin cups (1 3/4 inch) with cooking spray.  For the pastry cups, stir together flour, Parmesan cheese, and salt in a large bowl. Add oil and mix until crumbly.  Add 2 Tbsp. of the ice cold water and combine.  Add enough remaining water until the flour is moistened.  Knead into a ball until it holds together well.

Divide the pastry into 24 sections and press each piece into a muffin cup.  Bake for 8-10 minutes and then remove from the oven.  Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling, whisk together the egg, milk, and pepper.  Stir in the cheese and onion and fill each pastry cup with 1 tsp of the mixture (I did 1 1/4 tsp.) Top each quiche with a few tomato slices and a fresh herb piece if you like.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the filling is puffed and set.  Serve warm.  They’re also great as cold leftovers.

The Bibliography: Better Homes & Garden Magazine, June 2012

Sitti Inspired Summer Staple

The Drink of 2012 has taken an amended version for the summer and we’re hooked.  Back in January I  had a divine nonalcoholic drink at Sitti that wasn’t sweet tea.  I’ll rarely refer to a drink as a good nonalcoholic drink when it isn’t a version of sweet tea.  The Sitti drink featured honey, lime juice, pomegranate juice, and ginger ale over a few ice cubes.  It was a fresh surprise in the winter, and smooth.

I craved the same taste last weekend, but wanted something to combat the heat and serve as a possible beach drink in a few weeks. Ladies and gentlemen, this is it…the Johnson family drink of 2012.  It’s refreshing and tart with just a hint of pomegranate sweet.  Ginger ale adds an additional fizz and the sad excuse for pictures below (this was the first try and I didn’t include as much “slush”) don’t do it justice.  Try to imagine it with more slush and without the reflection of my white shirt showing up in the middle.


1 can of frozen limeade

1 1/8 c. pomegranate juice

1 Tbsp. honey

ginger ale

two medium handfuls of ice

In a blender combine the frozen limeade (defrosted for 5-10 minutes), pomegranate juice, honey, and two medium handfuls of ice.  Puree ingredients until they form a thick smoothie type consistency.  Pour individual servings into a glass or entire amount into a pitcher.  Add the same amount of ginger ale and lightly stir (ex. if filling half a glass, fill to the top with ginger ale).  Enjoy!

Put any leftovers in the freezer for a few hours to create a slushy type drink/dessert.  For use as a punch, freeze mixture in a pitcher for at least a day.  On the day of the event, place the pitcher in the refrigerator and let thaw into a slushy mixture.

The Bibliography: Inspired by Sitti, adapted by SFD Test Kitchen