Monday, August 16, 2010

Chef's Salad with Spinach, Chicken, and Gouda

Having a salad for dinner is one of those things that always seems like a good idea... in theory. It's easy, it's healthy, and it generally doesn't require heating up your kitchen in the middle of August (that last part is particularly crucial if you blow a fuse every time you try to run the air conditioner and the TV at the same time--the apartment above an Italian restaurant is becoming less quaint by the day, people). But when it comes down to it, salad for dinner is kind of boring, right? This salad... definitely not boring. We've made this quite a few times this summer and it is going to stay in the regular dinner rotation.

In addition to the Gouda cheese mentioned in the title, we've also got some bacon and avocado going on in this salad. We've used turkey bacon a few times to make it healthier, but I suggest using the real stuff here. And while store bought croutons will save you some time, I highly recommend making your own (unless you have the aforementioned air conditioning problem and don't want to turn on your oven). Not only is it a nice way to use up some leftover bread, but they have a much more appealing texture than the croutons from a box (I made mine with some rosemary focaccia). This recipe makes more croutons than you'll need, so save the extras in an air tight container.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

M&M Blondies

I wanted to bake some blondies to bring to a coworker's baby shower, so I set about looking for an easy recipe. My first stop was, of course, my Cook's Illustrated bible (aka, The New Best Recipe). The recipe was indeed pretty simple, but it called for walnuts and white chocolate chips. Those ingredients are all well and good in other applications, but I feel like when it comes to most baked goods, they are wasting valuable real estate that could be taken up by chocolatier things. So I did what any chocolate-candy lover would do and swapped them out for M&M's. And the results were kind of amazing.

Note that the second step of the recipe asks you to fit your baking pan with foil. This is a nice technique to get the blondies out of the pan easily, but if it seems like too much work for you then please butter and flour as per usual.