• 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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Spiced Corn Soup with Sauteed Mushrooms

At the risk of sounding like a typical New Year’s Resolution maker, I am trying to eat healthier in 2010. Those of you who know me know I try to eat healthy at least most of the time (which makes it much easier and better when I go on a butter eating rampage). At any rate, as I often talk about, it’s easiest to make healthy food that’s delicious by working with it, rather than against it. It’s hard to make something healthy that inherently has a lot of cream or cheese or anything else in it – you’ll miss all that stuff too much if you eliminate it completely.

Corn is full of delicious starches, and in this pureed soup, it turns into a creamy, incredibly tasty soup. Combined with spicy peppers and savory sauteed mushrooms, it is unbelievably good (and also unbelievably healthy).

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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.

Ingredient Spotlight: Olive Bar

The olive bar is one of the many loves of my life…and I don’t even like olives very much! Not only can you find more varities and better quality olives than those in glass jars on your grocery store’s shelves, you can get just the amount you need (ideal for an un-olive lover like me). Plus, there’s much more: pickled peppers (my favorite peppadews which are hard to find raw, pepperoncini, etc.), sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, fresh mozzarella, and more. Just buy the amount you need (sometimes I’ll get just a few pieces of mozzarella so that I don’t end up eating a whole giant package – which I am known to do), or stock up!



Ravioli with Roasted Chanterelles, Garlic, and Bacon with Pepadew Peppers

I scored some gorgeous chanterelle mushrooms from the storeroom this weekend. I felt like I’d been eating a lot of pasta recently, but I couldn’t help but think of making some fresh pasta that I could fill with the mushrooms. I roasted them with garlic, onions, and bacon and then sauteed the finished ravioli in butter with sweet peppadew peppers. The whole process would be easier with a pasta machine – but it is possible to do it with a rolling pin and some brute strength! I love making oversized raviolis that can hold a lot of filling – and they look so great on the plate.

Souvlaki with Tzatziki and Toasted Pita

Above all else, I love a good bargain. So when I saw a pile of pork shoulders in the butcher case at my favorite market (for just over $1/lb!!!) I couldn’t resist. I dug through the pile (yes…gross) until I hit the bottom (where I found pig’s ears and feet as well – I passed). The smallest shoulder I could find was six pounds. So I carted my huge shoulder to the checkout. The cashier said something I hear a lot at that store: “What are you gonna make with THAT?” and that’s when I have to start thinking about it myself.

If you read anything about my recent journey across Eastern Europe, you’ll know that Matt and I ate our fair share of kebabs. Ever since, I’ve been struggling with the idea of trying to create something similar to surprise him with. A recent experience with souvlaki reminded me how easy it was to put those flavors together for an easy and delicious meal. Plus, I began using some of the massive amount of pig I had sitting in my fridge.

I made a quick dry rub with garlic powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, and a little bit of cayenne. Matt cut the fat off of the top of the shoulder, and we applied the dry rub all over the meat, and covered it with the fat. We roasted it in a low oven (275 degrees) for 3-4 hours, until it was tender and juicy. Then, you can use it for almost anything…like this souvlaki! (You could also use pork ribs…they would shred similarly, taste great, but take a lot less time to cook.)

Peanut Chicken Flatbreads with Peppers, Chiles, and Cilantro

The Thai Chicken Burgers I made last week were such a hit, that no one complained when there were leftovers. But I had quite a bit of peanut sauce left over, which inspired me to make this Thai Chicken Flatbread.
I used my favorite naan as the base, tossed some roasted chicken breasts in the peanut sauce, topped it with cilantro, bell peppers, scallions, and Thai bird chilies. When it comes out of the oven, top it with sweet chile sauce and enjoy!

Barbeque Chicken Tacos

Even after another BBQ week at work, I still hadn’t gotten my fill. I decided to spend the morning making my own barbeque sauce, that I later used to dress some shredded chicken to make some tacos. Let me tell you, this more than cured my craving – it was awesome! Sweet, spicy, and just plain good. Not to mention, very healthy! I used a few crumbles of blue cheese on top of the tacos, which was delicious, but could easily be left out (these tacos have TONS of flavor). To make this recipe even faster (and to not unnecessarily heat up the oven or the grill on a hot weekend) buy a rotisserie chicken at the store to shred. Also, in a pinch, you could use your favorite bottled BBQ sauce for a similar effect, though there’s really no reason to not make your own. The ingredient list looks long, but it all goes into one pot together – it’s easy and so SO good.

Try this recipe with my homemade tortillas. And if you’re wanting to make your own chicken to shred, just roast some chicken breasts (skin side up) in a 350 degree oven (generously seasoned with salt and pepper) in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

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