Thursday, May 21, 2009

Slow Cooker Steak Sandwich

My husband and I recently issued a challenge - to ourselves: to eat all of the food in our freezer before buying more. We ate through chicken (thin, thick, and thighs), steak, tilapia, salmon, pork (marinated and not), a roast, and even a few Healthy Choice frozen meals. We got down to our last bag - steak tips - and a few hot dog buns. And to celebrate, by virtually not cooking at all, we threw the steak into the slow cooker with some onions, red wine and seasonings, set it on low and 8 hours later we had tender, shredable meat - just right for steak sandwiches. We simmered the sauce down on the stove top, drizzled it over the meat and onions, put the filling into toasted hog dog buns and voila - a steak sandwich and an empty freezer!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Tomato and basil are two ingredients that were likely made for each other. Tomato, mozzarella and basil; tomato, basil and a splash of balsamic vinegar; tomato basil soup; tomato basil sauce - the pairing can be found everywhere. So, what to do when you have a bunch of basil and a few tomatoes on hand, and are looking for something a little more interesting and complex? Make pesto!

1 cup, packed, of basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 TBS minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, to preferred consistency

Roughly chop basil and pine nuts in a small food processor. Add parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper and chop to combine. Add olive oil in a steady stream while food processor is on, to desired consistency.

Combine with tomatoes, use as a pasta sauce, spread on bread as a base for sandwiches, mix with mashed potatoes. The possibilities are endless.



I am thrilled that my Aerogarden has been so productive (and prolific!). It seems that I'm continually working toward finding out how many ways you can use one lone ingredient - like basil or thyme. This time I looked to the Greeks to find a use for the stems and stems of dill that I have on hand. Tzatziki dip. 

I read through several recipes before throwing this one together myself. Many called for hours and hours of draining the yogurt and cucumber, using cheesecloth etc., but I just didn't have the time, or patience, for that. I bought Greek yogurt, which is already thickened and did a few quick presses of the grated cucumber between sheets of paper towels and I think it turned out just fine.

8 oz. Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated cucumber
garlic and dill in quantities to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a spoon. Refrigerating before serving helps bring out the flavors.
Tzatziki is a cool and refreshing accompaniment to pita, or spread over spiced or marinated grilled chicken or fish.


Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Risotto. The Italian version of Mac and Cheese (maybe?). A creamy and filling comfort food. A one dish meal, and a good way to use up extra vegetables in your fridge. For the most part, you can follow the directions on the risotto box and mix in your vegetables at the end. To make it even better, though, add some white wine to the stock and parmesan cheese at the end.

This one comes from an Alton Brown recipe that I found on I used cremini mushrooms instead of wild. The result is simply delicious.

Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 5 ounces wild mushrooms, cooked and coarsely chopped, approximately 3/4 cup
  • 7 ounces asparagus, cooked and cut into 1-inch pieces, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In an electric kettle or medium saucepan with a lid, combine chicken broth and white wine and heat just to simmering. Keep warm.

In a large 3 to 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and sweat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the grains are translucent around the edges. Be careful not to allow the grains or the onions to brown.

Reduce the heat to low. Add enough of the wine and chicken stock just to cover the top of the rice. Stir or move the pan often, until the liquid is completely absorbed into rice. Once absorbed, add another amount of liquid just to cover the rice and continue stirring or moving as before. There should be just enough liquid left to repeat 1 more time. It should take approximately 35 to 40 minutes for all of the liquid to be absorbed. After the last addition of liquid has been mostly absorbed, add the mushrooms and asparagus and stir until risotto is creamy and asparagus is heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, lemon zest, and nutmeg. Taste and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


SOS Great American Bake Sale

Welcome Washington Post Sietsema's Table readers!

Someone out there (maybe a Post reader?) found the time to send me a message kindly asking that I post information about Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale on my blog. I've seen fliers for this everywhere and am a bit familiar with the organization - my husband has run in some of their road races. I guess if there is any cause to promote in this forum it would be a food-related one, and this one seems worthy to me.

So instead of this post being a recipe for your next meal, consider it a recipe to give back.

Today, more than 12 million children in the United States do not know when their next meal will come. Unfortunately, this number continues to rise as these difficult economic times are leaving more and more people jobless, without homes, and unable to provide food for their families.

What can you do?

1. Sign-up to host a bake sale.

2. Buy the virtual Great American Bake Sale eBook.

3. Post a ChipIn widget or banner on your blog.

Make a difference in a child’s life by signing up and purchasing a virtual cookbook today! 100% of the proceeds from this eBook will benefit Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale, which is a national effort that encourages Americans to host bake sales in their communities to help end childhood hunger. Funds raised support summer and after-school feeding programs in your community that thousands of kids depend on.

Once you have purchased your virtual Great American Bake Sale cookbook, double your impact and use the recipes to host your own Great American Bake Sale! Hosting a Bake Sale is a fun and easy way to make a big impact! To register your Bake Sale or for more information, please visit
Any maybe consider making one of these cupcakes?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Back to Basics

It's not every day that I can cook a super exciting meal. And lately, I haven't had very many recipes to share with you. So, for this post I've decided to go back to basics and highlight two easy vegetables that require very little preparation and very few ingredients. No sauces or overwhelming dressings here - we're talking straight-up and simple.

Roasted Asparagus

Bunch of asparagus
olive oil
minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean asparagus and trim tough ends. Arrange asparagus in roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Place pan in oven on middle/ upper middle rack. Cook for 20 minutes. Flip halfway through cooking.

Asparagus should come out slightly browned and carmelized.

Steamed Artichoke with Italian Herb Dipping Sauce

olive oil
Italian herbs
salt and pepper to taste

Cut off stem of artichoke and remove first layer of lower petals. Trim off outer petal points with a kitchen scissor. Rinse artichoke and place in steamer basket placed in pot of simmering water. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Artichokes can be eaten hot or cold. I prefer mine at room temperature.

Serve with a side of olive oil and Italian herbs as a dipping sauce.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Summer Salads

I've been working on two things lately - 1) my food photography and 2) using up the bounty of herbs from my Aerogarden. Two summer salads seemed to be a good way to work on both.

Yellow squash and zucchini sauteed with olive oil, thyme and chives. Seasoned with salt and pepper.

Panzanella salad. Tomatoes, crusty Italian bread, Italian and purple basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar - mixed together. Seasoned with salt and pepper.


Monday, May 4, 2009

On the Road: St. Louis, Missouri

I recently visited St. Louis on a mini reunion with my girl friends from college. Not surprisingly, much of the weekend revolved around catching up over food - and we did lots of talking (and eating!). Enjoy a few of the highlights below...

First on our list was the famed Pi (of the famed Obama White House pizza party). Prosciutto, Kalamata olive, and roasted garlic pizza in the foreground. 

Famous St. Louis gooey butter cake for breakfast. Delicious! (More about gooey butter cake on Wikipedia).

Open-faced lobster club at Cyrano's for lunch, topped with bacon, tomato and mustard aioli.

15 spice ribs with mango bourbon glaze at Sage for dinner. Whipped potatoes and jicama honey slaw on the side.

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