Sunday, March 21, 2010

Carrie: ICBC Shallots

My picture's not that great, but that's what happens when I forget to take the picture before we start serving. I decided to make green beans with shallots and pancetta for this week's ICBC ingredient. Green beans are one of our favorite vegetables in this house, and I make them pretty often. Normally what I do is saute them with onions and garlic and soy sauce for seasoning, so I figured shallots would be a good sub, and that pancetta would go nicely with them. It's a simple, uncomplicated side dish, and I think green beans are an easy, tasty way to incorporate vegetables into your meal.

Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta
green beans
sliced pancetta
salt and pepper
(I can't offer much in the way of measurements in the green beans, something around five handfuls using a small girl's hand, and then I just added the shallots and pancetta proportionally to that.)

Set a pot of water to boil and drop green beans in boiling water until just tender but still a little crisp. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil into a wok or saute pan and let heat up. Add pancetta and let the pancetta brown and crisp. Then add shallots and let them brown. After the shallots brown, add green beans and toss everything together to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until desired tenderness.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tilapia with Lemon and Dill

So this week my friend Katy came in to visit us. Katy, like my roommate, doesn't eat meat, but does eat seafood. My sister, who also lives with me, doesn't eat shrimp. Fish then is one of the more affordable lean proteins we can all agree on. I found this recipe for tilapia with lemon and dill over at For the Love of Cooking. It's delicious. And really so easy to throw together. I recommend serving it with a side of roasted asparagus for a light meal.

Tilapia with Lemon and Dill (from For the Love of Cooking)
three tilapia fillets
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
a few sprigs of torn dill
a tsp or two of lemon zest
2 tbsp olive oil

Combine the above ingredients and marinate the fish for 2-4 hours. (Due to time constraints, I only marinated for about an hour and I thought it was fine.)

Juice two lemons and after marinating, add the lemon juice to the fish fillets. In a glass dish sprayed with cooking spray, place the fillets and pour the lemon juice over them. Add a few more sprigs of torn dill and place a thick pat of butter on top of each fillet and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake in the oven at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, until fish is flaky.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Restaurant Find: Zona78

I've never posted a restaurant find for any restaurants in Tucson, but in case any of you ever come here, and I'm not around to entertain you, I want you to know about one of my favorite Tucson spots. I am going to introduce you to what I believe to be the best tomato-basil soup in the city, though my other half of Two Friends Cook might disagree.

Zona78 is a restaurant that first opened in 2003, and they offer gourmet pizzas, some Italian dishes, and a great selection of starters and salads. They also offer this Roasted Tomato-Basil soup, made with local tomatoes and topped with their fresh toasted croutons. The soup is made with what I'm sure is a fair amount of cream, and I just find it amazing. When I think of going out to eat soup, all I think about is Zona78's tomato-basil soup. No joke. At lunch, you can get a grilled cheese and soup. Oh my goodness.

I also recommend this salad. For a long time, I always ate pizza from Zona78, but one day I tried their Chop-Chop salad. It's a delicious mix of contrasting flavors that work really well together. It's crunchy, a little sweet, and a little salty. Salami, pears, pecans, a fresh pear vinaigrette, amazing. Also, I'm thinking this fulfills my Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Pear, right? I ate pears, at least.

And, finally, this is Zona78's Tuscany pizza, and what their menu touts as their bestseller. It's a loaded pizza for sure, with Italian sausage, portabello mushrooms, fennel, roasted garlic, Zona's homemade mozzarella, and kalamata olives. I hope I didn't miss anything. It's a good pizza, though I didn't care for the fennel, and Aaron didn't care for the sausage. Still, pretty delicious. You can also opt for a whole wheat crust.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tuesday Night Dinner: Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers

Part of the fun of Tuesday night dinner for me, honestly, is seeing the different meals I come up with. I try not to repeat meals too often, and I'm proud to say I don't think I have. I made a vegetarian version of these bell peppers with white beans stuffed with orzo and a veggie mixture of sauteed zucchini, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onions and all tossed in a fresh marinara. The meat version is the orzo and veggie filling with Italian sausage. And on top was just a little shredded cheddar cheese. As an appetizer, we had a mozzarella and fresh tomato bruschetta and roasted asparagus.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sesame Noodles with Fried Tofu and Garlicy Soy Sauce Green Beans

I was going to an event Friday night, and therefore needed to come up with a dinner that I could throw together quickly. As is not unusual, I turned to one of my favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman. Ages ago, she posted a recipe called Simple Sesame Noodles. They take about 10 minutes, or as long as it takes to boil some spaghetti noodles. For a little protein, I cooked some tofu and for some veggies, I made some green beans. Fast, easy dinner, and totally delicious. Win.

Recipe (sesame noodles from The Pioneer Woman)
box of spaghetti noodles
firm tofu, cut in cubes
couple tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 lb of green beans
one small diced onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
4 whole green onions, sliced thin

For Sesame Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp pure sesame oil
4 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp hot water

Cook noodles according to package. Drain and set aside in a bowl. Throw green beans into pot of boiling water and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Drain green beans. Heat olive oil in skillet for tofu and olive oil in another skillet or wok for green beans. Throw tofu cubes into skillet and let brown on all sides, until golden. Add onions to wok for green beans and cook until translucent. Add green beans and garlic and toss together until green beans are tender. Season with soy sauce, to taste. Whisk together ingredients for sesame sauce and toss over cooked spaghetti. Toss noodles together and top with sliced green onions.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Restaurant Review- Fogo de Chao

For the second night of restaurant week dinner date extravaganza Brandon and I headed out to Fogo de Chao for all the meat we could eat. This is really one of the best deals on restaurant week, since a three course dinner for two costs only $50 during this week and I can’t even imagine how much it would cost regularly.

For those of you that haven’t been to a churrascaria before, let me explain. You sit at your table with a small green and red token, while men in silly pants walk around and serve you delicious meat until you explode.

First Course:

Salad Bar- You know… lettuce, veggies, bread, dressings, chicken salad, cheese and sliced meats.

Cheese bread- Warm yummy bread stuffed with warm yummy cheese. I don’t know what more you could want.

Review: Ok, so maybe you’re not impressed at the sound of a salad bar, but this one was amazing. There are over 30 different items, and each one of them was amazing. I even know a certain VEGAN that likes to come to this STEAK HOUSE for the salad bar. Def try the basil salad dressing. The bread was also great. I’ve had this at another Brazilian place that I like to frequent and didn’t enjoy it, so I was pleasantly surprised.

Main Course:

Meats- Picanha, Filet Mignon, Beef Ancho, Alcatra, Fraldinha, Costela, Cordeiro, Frango, Costela De Proco, Lombo, Linguica

Side Dishes- Crispy polenta, garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas.

Review: Holy meat, Batman. As a past pescatarian, I was a bit overwhelmed by the huge slabs circling around my head. I was especially partial to the lamb (my first time ever having lamb), the chicken cooked in bacon and the filet mignon cooked in bacon. But, above all that… let’s talk about the crispy polenta. What if we lived on a beach and ate crispy polenta everyday? We’d be queens, that’s what.

Dessert Course:

Key-lime pie

Turtle Cheesecake

Review- As far as dessert go, these were alright. Not amazing and life changing, not gross and soupy.


Xengu beer

Pino Noir

Tuesday Night Dinner: Vodka Sauce

For dinner this week, I decided to make pasta with vodka sauce, using the recipe Sarah Michelle used for Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Alcohol. Dinner was delicious, and I served it with Trader Joe's turkey meatballs on the side, garlic bread, garlic cheese bread, and a salad with romaine, spinach, cucumbers, artichoke quarters, sundried tomatoes, and sunflower seeds. If you were wondering, this is an easy meal to make for a large party of people.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Restaurant Review- Zengo

Tonight was the first of my two-in-a-row restaurant week dinner dates. Tonight Lani, Amanda and I headed out to Zengo, a Japanese Mexican restaurant in north downtown. In long, Zengo is a restaurant that mixes Japanese and Mexican food elements in order to create a new awesome fusion cuisine. In short, it was amazing. Here’s what we had:


Angry Zengo Sushi Roll- Spicy Yellowfin Tuna, avocado, sesame-chipotle rouille, wasabi tobiko

Kobe Chorizo Quesadilla- Roasted corn, Oaxaca cheese, salsa verde, crema, avacado-tomatillo pico de gallo

Reveiw- The quesadilla was just a little overly spicy for me, but was still enjoyable. We all LOVED the sushi.

Main Course:

Pan Roasted Herbed Chicken Breast- Oaxaca mashed potatoes, shimeji mushrooms, baby bok choy, achiote-truffle sauce

Achiote Barbecued Salmon- Daikon-wasabi potato puree, broccolini, warm bacon ponzu, chipotle egg sauce

Review- The girls really loved the Salmon, and while it was very well cooked, I wasn’t crazy about the sauce. I really liked the chicken, and would probably have said that I loved it if I hadn’t already had so much chili sauce lately.

Dessert Course:

Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse

Orange and Yuzu Custard with Pistachio Ice Cream

Mango Sorbet & Fresh Fruit

Review: Amanda really loves chocolate mousse. Lani really loved the mango sorbet. I really loved the pistachio ice cream and the crust on the custard. It turned out that I liked parts of each of the desserts, but wasn’t crazy about any of them as a whole.


We each had a glass of wine, one Roja, one Pino Grigio and one Riesling. I don’t know the names of the specific brands we got, but they were all very good.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mushroom Alfredo

For dinner tonight, I decided to throw together a mushroom alfredo for me and my sister. When using mushrooms, I always use brown mushrooms or baby bellas. They just taste better to me. I found this recipe online from a blogger and the entire meal came together really quickly. My sauce was a little thick, but otherwise delicious. Only a few years ago, I never cooked, and it occasionally surprises me now how much I love it. And how often I go grocery shopping and think, I could do that myself.

Mushroom Alfredo
package of sliced brown mushrooms
one small diced onion
three cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper
half stick of butter
1/4 cup of flour
2 or 2 1/2 cups of milk
1/3 cup of heavy cream
handful of Parmesan cheese

Prepare spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Drizzle and toss with a little olive oil to prevent noodles from sticking.
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and saute until tender. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over mixture. Add flour and toss to coat. Add milk and cream and stir until sauce thickens. When sauce thickens, add a handful of Parmesan cheese and stir as it melts in. Remove sauce from heat and serve over spaghetti. Sprinkle a little more Parmesan on top.