The Family Food Blog


Month: July, 2012

Quinoa and Asparagus with a Poached Egg

by thefamilyfoodblog

I came across this recipe of Aida Mollenkamp’s on Pinterest a while back, but didn’t get around to trying it out until about a week ago. Why the delay? It’s simple enough: Giant was out of quinoa the week I discovered the recipe, and then I forgot about it, until P, who is extremely talented at poaching eggs, browsed through my pinned recipes and found it again.

It being a weeknight and us being impatient and hungry, I adapted the recipe a little bit.

Quinoa and wild rice with asparagus and a poached egg in brown butter sauce.

Ingredients (serves two)

  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa (I used a quinoa-wild rice blend)
  • 2 eggs
  • 10 stalks asparagus
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees F. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and cut into two-inch pieces. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Bake for 8-10 minutes (more or less depending on the thickness of the stalk).

While the asparagus is baking, bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the curlicues of the quinoa grains start to separate. Drain any excess water.

Note: The original recipe suggests toasting part of the quinoa to give the dish some extra crunch. I found that the wild rice in my quinoa mixture accomplished the same goal.

To make the brown butter sauce, melt the butter in a small frying pan for about five minutes, until it starts to darken. Remove from heat and mix in the balsamic vinegar.

Poach the eggs (this video explains it well). To serve, mix the quinoa with the asparagus and put on a plate. Top with the poached egg and drizzle with brown butter sauce.

Serve immediately for best results. If cooking ahead of time, wait to poach the eggs until right before serving.


Baguettes and a Trip to the Farmer’s Market

by thefamilyfoodblog

Yesterday, we started off the morning with a trip to the local farmer’s market. After seeing all the brightly colored heirloom tomatoes the vendors were selling, I decided that this weekend wouldn’t be complete without at least one serving of bruschetta. So, in addition to some deliciously strong blue cheese from the really friendly dad and daughter of Spring Gap Mountain Creamery (seriously, this cheese isn’t for the faint of heart) and a huge bunch of basil for just $2.50 (sadly, more leaves than Basily has ever produced in his lifetime), we picked up some red, yellow, and purple-green tomatoes.

That big red one was a monster, weighing in at 1.5 pounds on its own.

We followed this recipe for French baguettes, using the bread machine again for the kneading work. Wow, was the dough sticky. If this continues (and it might; the outcome was so tasty) I may have to invest in a dough scraper. How very fancy cooking store of me.

Two baguettes, ready to go into the oven.

We were out of eggs, so the baguettes didn’t get the nice glowy egg wash treatment. And for some reason (perhaps the low humidity in our air-conditioned apartment?) the dough didn’t rise as much as we hoped. The result was a baguette that looked and tasted a lot more like ciabatta. Not really cause for complaint in my book!

While the bread was baking, I got started on the topping for our bruschetta.

So colorful.


  • 3 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 10 large leaves of basil, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Allow to sit for at least ten minutes for tomato juices to run and flavors to meld. Serve immediately, at room temperature, on top of fresh, hot, crusty bread such as ciabatta or a baguette.

If bread is not fresh, spoon tomato mixture on top of bread and place in a warm oven for 5 minutes. Then serve.

That’s one of our two baguettes, cut in half and then sliced lengthwise. The second will likely be tonight’s dinner.

Inspired by a Lemon Drop

by thefamilyfoodblog

Earlier this week, we had a girls’ night out at the Melting Pot and while waiting for the first of four courses, a bunch of us ordered their basil lemon drops: cucumber vodka lemon drops garnished with either a basil leaf or slice of lemon. (Apparently, it was a new addition to their menu and the choice of garnish depended on which bartender you got.) Anyway, I’d previously been experimenting with using cucumber slices and lemon wedges to liven up a glass of water, and the lemon drops got me thinking – what if there was a way to combine the two? Since vodka tends to absorb the flavor of its mixer, maybe something like a lemon drop could be made using water or club soda instead. Given the record-breakingly hot summer days we’ve been having, it sounded pretty refreshing.

So I tried it out.

You can see the bubbles!

Ingredients (per drink)

  • 8 oz unflavored sparkling water
  • 2 leaves of fresh basil
  • 2 thin slices of lemon
  • 2 thin slices of cucumber, peeled
  • few drops lemon juice (optional)
  • ice (optional)


Rub and slice the basil into thin strips to allow its flavor to release, and add to a glass along with lemon and cucumber slices. Top with sparkling water. Add a few drops of lemon juice and ice if desired.

* Pro tip: Mix the drinks about 30 minutes ahead of time to give the flavors more time to blend.

Homemade Veggie Pizza

by thefamilyfoodblog

Recently, P’s cousin B was in town. After a few days in a row of eating out, we were ready to save some money and eat at home, but wanted a meal that was still “fun.” A.k.a. pizza!

We used the bread machine to knead ourselves up some dough, following the Basic Pizza Dough recipe in this book:

Ingredients, per 17×11 pizza crust

  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast


Refer to the book for details, but in short, we put all the ingredients in the bread machine on the “dough” cycle (19 min on our machine) and allowed them to mix and knead. After taking the dough out, we spread it out on a foil-lined baking sheet and allowed it to rise for a few minutes.

You can toss the dough, too, if you’d like.

While the machine was going, and later as P was preparing the dough, I cut up the toppings.

The cutting board was getting pretty crowded by the time I was done.

Ingredients, per pizza

  • 1 pizza crust (recipe above)
  • 8 tbsp pasta sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 handful fresh spinach leaves
  • 4 medium Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp marinated roasted red peppers
  • 1 tbsp fresh Italian herbs (I used basil and oregano), cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, spread out the crust, leaving the edges thicker than the center. Drip the olive oil over the crust and spread using the back of a spoon.

Spread the pasta sauce over the crust, leaving some space at the edge. Add a layer of shredded mozzarella, followed by the remaining toppings.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cut, and serve immediately.

Just cut into your desired size and shape, and serve!

Fun with Olive Garden Breadsticks

by thefamilyfoodblog

Awhile back, we went to Olive Garden for lunch. The meal was so-so, but their famous (or possibly infamous, if nutrition levels are a factor) breadsticks are well-known for a reason. And to my surprise, our waiter was willing to pack us a few to take home along with our leftovers. So we did.

Apparently, giving breadsticks away is a standard thing, since they have a special reheatable bag for them. It was news to me.

We enjoyed a few of these breadsticks in the standard way, along with pasta or soup or whatever, but when we were down to the last three, I felt like getting creative. Lo and behold: mini sub sandwiches. How you fill the sandwiches is of course up to you, but here’s what I did.

Cut each breadstick lengthwise, leaving one edge connected so that the sandwich can be “opened” and “closed”.

Ingredients, per serving

  • 2-3 breadsticks, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 – 1/3 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp marinated roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1 oz Toscana pepper cheese, sliced


Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees. Once preheated, bake breadsticks for about 3-5 minutes.

Arrange filling ingredients in the inside of each sandwich. Serve immediately.

Filling ingredients that you enjoy in a panini would also be tasty here.

Asian Lamb Salad

by Sanjukta Moorthy

My boyfriend and I marinated some lamb steaks last night and wanted to have it with some salad ingredients to make it Asian. We  used some ideas from Nigella Lawson as a base, but this is our own invention – a Maddox-Moorthy masterpiece, as Andrew would call it!

It involves a few very different steps – first is to marinate the lamb steaks, the second is to crisp some garlic potatoes, and the last is to assemble the whole thing.

This turned out brilliantly, the perfect mixture of flavours and textures. The lamb was tender and juicy, the potatoes were nice and crisp, the mango adds a really lovely softness and the salad itself is refreshing.

We were thrilled with it, even more so because we invented it and it ended up tasting so delicious! I hope you enjoy it – it’s sweet, sour, spicy, tangy and surprisingly light.

Serves 2


2 lamb steaks

400g potatoes

2 cloves garlic

1 red chilli

1 mango

1 head of lettuce

2 spring onions

A handful of mint

A handful of coriander (optional)

2 tbsp Chimichuri marinade (or lamb spice mix sold in the spice section of most supermarkets)

Salt and pepper

For the dressing:

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp shaoxing rice wine

2 tbsp light brown sugar

1-2 tbsp lemon or lime juice

2 tsp Chinese fermented chilli paste (optional)

Marinade the lamb in Chimichuri, lamb spice mix, salt and pepper, making sure you rub it all in thoroughly. Leave for a few hours or overnight ideally.

Next, the garlic potatoes. Slice them thinly then parboil in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, lightly saute some garlic, chilli and spring onions in a pan. Take care to do all of this on a medium heat or you’ll burn the garlic!

When it’s softened and the potatoes are parboiled, turn the heat up and add the potatoes. Add them carefully so they don’t break apart, and layer them in one layer. Leave it for a few minutes on each side so the potatoes cook and then crisp. Then turn them over and do the same thing. You may need to do this in two batches. Be really careful adding and then turning the potatoes!

Now, cook the steaks however you want. We have a sandwich toaster which we use for everything from eggs and bacon to steak – and it takes a few minutes for steak! You can cook them in a frying pan or a grill pan or however else you like.

As the steaks cook, cube the mango carefully into bite-sized pieces and add to a large serving bowl with the warm potatoes.

Chop some mint or coriander if you’re using it and add to the bowl with half the salad dressing.

Tear in the head of lettuce, and when the steaks are cooked, slice them into thin pieces and toss with the rest of the salad.

Serve immediately, with warm bread if you have it. Ideally the potatoes and steaks should be fresh out of the pan, with everything else cold – it’s a great combination of temperature and textures!