• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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    I've been getting a lot of requests and suggestions for the apartment kitchen. I LOVE these suggestions, keep them coming!

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    em570039@mycia.net

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Calzones with Ricotta, Spinach, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

A meal like this calzone is a great excuse to use what you’ve got in the fridge. In my case, that’s usually the things I love most: veggies, cheese, herbs…all of which made their way into this calzone. You could mix up the filling anyway you like (shredded meat doused in a little sauce makes a delicious dinner…think the filling for these tacos).

It takes an understanding of your oven to best understand how to bake these, particularly because they are on the larger side. Feel free to use a pizza stone if you have one. If you find that the bottom is browning too quickly, double up on your baking sheets. If the top needs help browning, use the broiler. Since the filling is cooked before hand, it’s most important to make sure that the crust is baked and crispy!

Mushroom Stuffed Sausage Burgers with Peppadew Peppers

**(What’s that? Another dish with sausage and peppadew peppers? Well, yes. I made my cooking “to-do” list at the beginning of the week. I had been craving sausage, but I was cooking for one until tonight when Matt came over. Rather than get stuck with a whole pot of leftovers, I cooked my white beans with sausage on Tuesday night and saved the remaining ingredients for a completely different dish a few days later. So you hardly recognized it, right?)**

Matt loves burgers. I like them too, because I enjoy warm sandwiches. Burgers are easy (and easy to make healthy if you like with lean meats like turkey and chicken and meat substitutions like grated veggies, beans, or portobello mushrooms). I’ve made quite a few types of burgers, but this is one of my all time favorites. Instead of turning to any of my go-to meats or meatless standbys, I used another of Matt’s favorites: sausage. I removed the casings, seasoned the meat, and stuffed the patties with mushrooms and herbs. We finished it off with leftover peppadew peppers for an all-around tasty and Italian-esque burger. It would be great with other toppings, too: sauteed peppers and onions, spinach, mozzarella cheese – get creative! This is a good basic canvas to work with.

White Beans with Sausage, Tomato, and Mushrooms

I saw a recipe once on Epicurious for a dish with white beans and sausage. I loved the idea, because white beans (you may have heard me gush about them before) are so creamy and delicious. Combining my favorite beans with sausage (turkey or chicken sausage for a healthier option) and some homemade tomato sauce and I had the perfect substitute for pasta. At the same time, the beans added a heartiness that really filled me up – a wonderful warm, chunky stew of sorts that was tossed together in no time, especially if you have tomato sauce on hand. Even if you don’t, this meal takes less than a half hour.

Creamy Sausage, Mushroom, and Pea Risotto with Poached Egg, Parmesan and Baby Basil Leaves

I started vacation this week. If you know me, you can note that simply from the recent appearance of pasta and baked goods on my blog. I love food – a little too much. On a day to day basis, I try to keep myself in check – eating healthier foods and smaller portions. But you can’t take the foodie out of the girl, so after two days of being “on vacation” I was in the kitchen making risotto. I love making risotto – the whole process of it. I’m also of the school of adding an egg to just about anything makes it better, so I ended up with this rich, creamy risotto for dinner last night. No matter what any recipe tells you – risotto is easy (this one has butter, sausage, and lots of cheese – how could it ever go wrong?) – just taste it a lot along the way, and you’ll end up with an awesome meal.

Creamy Sausage and Mushroom Sandwiches

Weekends are a great time for sandwiches. They’re quick to prepare, easy to assemble, and can be made multiple times and as needed. Since sandwiches are simple, it’s important to use great ingredients – fresh vegetables, good quality meats, and well made breads. I used inspiration from my mother for this sandwich – she made a delicious crostini over the holidays using mushrooms, herbs, and Boursin cheese. I thought I would add some meat to round out the sandwich, but it could easily be made without or with more vegetables to be vegetarian.

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Mushroom Farro Risotto with Grilled Chicken

I love this healthier version of risotto. Using a whole grain instead of arborio rice works incredibly well, while keeping you true to your New Year’s resolution. Farro has enough starch in it to release to creamy perfection when cooked, just like the rice used to make risotto. The result is delicious – rich and smooth.
I flavored this risotto with mushrooms and leeks and topped it with grilled chicken. Farro and other grains take a little while to cook, so it’s best for a weekend meal. But finished with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese – it’s well worth the wait.


Mushroom Farro Risotto with Grilled Chicken

Served 2.
Leftover Potential:  You can cook just the amount of chicken breast that you need.  There was enough risotto left for a snack after the initial dinner.

Mushroom Farro Risotto
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 leeks, finely sliced
1 1/4 cup farro
1/4 cup white wine
2 1/2 – 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 tbsp butter ***
parmesan cheese, grated, to taste***

1.  In a large, tall pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  In another pot, heat the stock over medium low heat.  This will help your risotto cook faster, as the liquid will be warm already and won’t take time to heat in the cooking pot.
2.  Add the onion to the first pot and cook until translucent.
3.  Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.  Add the leeks and cook until beginning to wilt.
4.  Add the farro and cook briefly, stirring to combine with the other ingredients.  Add the wine and reduce over medium heat until completely gone, stirring constantly.
5.  Begin adding the stock in ladlefuls.  Allow to reduce almost completely (stirring constantly) before adding more stock.  Continue adding stock until the farro begins to get tender.
6.  Add the mushrooms, stir to combine.  Allow the mushrooms to become tender.
7.  Season with salt and pepper.
8.  Finish with butter, stirring to combine, and grated parmesan cheese.

*** You can leave these items out for a healthier option, but they really add a delicious creaminess to the dish. 

Grilled Chicken
2 chicken breasts
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
flour, as needed to coat
1-2 tbsp olive oil

1.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and coat lightly with flour.
2.  In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the chicken and allow to cook until beginning to gain color, about 3 minutes, before turning over and finishing cooking on the other side.  The chicken should feel slightly firm to the touch.
3.  Slice the chicken on the bias, and serve on top of the risotto.  You can also top the dish with sliced pepperocini peppers, which add a little bit of acidity and spice.