I’d Like To Thank The Academy…

Last night we had a BIG Oscar party in our house and I was a little nervous since it was the first big shindig in our casa, well that and I chose to make a flotilla of food. I simply adore our gentle friends and one thing I know about our group is we love to eat. With that in mind I was going to make darn sure everyone had enough to nibble on during the three hour show. 

The Obligatory Picture of Colin Firth

Epicurious assembled menu plans based on the Best Picture nominees and the one that stood out to us was the Inception option. It’s very French inspired since part of the movie takes place in Paris – the scene with the city folding on top of itself is still incredible every time I see it.  Although I liked the recipes they suggested, I decided to stick wtih French fare but do it my way. And the award goes to…. 

 To get real nerdy about it I made an “Execution Plan” to ensure everything was done by 6:00 p.m. so we could watch arrivals and snarkily judge away. 

  • 2:00 p.m. Prep and mis en place
  • 3:00 p.m. Make compote for Brie, while compote cooks, make pots de creme, refrigerate
  • 3:30 p.m. Make soup
  • 4:00 p.m.  Make green beans, assemble and bake Brie rounds
  • 5:00 p.m. Make sandwiches
  • 5:40 p.m. Fire steaks, let rest and slice, make fries
  • 6:00 p.m. Guests arrive

Everything pretty much went according to plan and let me tell you, the soup, green beans, sandwiches and brie rounds with that stellar compote were delicious. For the steak frites I kept it very simple. David (the super poodle) ran to the store and bought a Weber charcoal grill so he could grill them properly. Little salt and pepper on the steaks, grill and you are done.  I took  frozen fries and mixed with salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme leaves and baked until crispy. Thanks to my lovely and talented niece Alex who is a bomb chef for coming up with that tasty concoction.  

I’m giggling at the thought of the Pots de Creme because the flavor was amazing but I didn’t have enough glasses to properly make individual servings, so I decided to place the whole shebang in a large ramekin. Yeah, don’t do that. We had to put it in the freezer so it would set up, but a few minutes on the table and it was like ice cream. Of course, no one cared and it was gone by the end of the night but I highly suggest not being an idiot like moi and scratch the idea if you can’t do it individually. 

The Oscars were OK this year, a little zzzzzzzzzz at times and it wasn’t as exciting as in years past but I am so happy for The King’s Speech! It’s an excellent, heart warming story and if you haven’t seen it yet, GO. 

Here’s our spread and more posts to come this week…I hope. :) 

Sad Panda Face

Ugh, with a side of ugh. None of the recipes I tried this week were really Cooking Inside the Lines worthy! Don’t get me wrong they were good, but lambs, I have pretty high standards for what I share with you on this blog and if doesn’t whiz bang wow me then it ain’t making the cut. I shall try again next week and speaking of, here’s the plan.

Sunday: OSCAR PARTY– I’m not going to tell you just yet what we are making because I want to share with our guests first,  but if all turns out right I’ll be sure to post here. I’m rooting for Colin Firth (such a poodle), Natalie Portman (such a lamb except she’s spectacularly creepy in Black Swan), Christian Bale (not a huge fan but you can’t deny that his performance in The Fighter was stunning) and it’s a tie for me for Best Picture – either Black Swan or King’s Speech. I’m so torn, I don’t know how my ballot is going to look until Sunday!

Monday:Mahi-Mahi with Tomato, Pepper, and Caper Sauce and Creamy Polenta

Tuesday: Coriander Scallops with Orange-Ginger Dressing

Wednesday: Easy Braised Brisket, Jalapeno Corn Pudding, Grilled Chive Potatoes

Friday (Thursday is kickball baby!): Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Dill Sauce and Orzo Salad with Celery, Radishes, and Dill

I hope next week doesn’t lead to another sad panda, I don’t think I can take it.

Happy Birthday Cooking Inside the Lines!

Wish me luck, my blog has reached the terrible twos.  My how time goes by in a blink. It’s hard to believe that two years ago I started CITL with this gentle Ina Garten recipe and now 200 posts later here I am, still testing and tasting recipes so you don’t have to. Through this little blog experiment I’ve found that I have much more confidence in cooking now than when I started – I’ll show you Mr. Cheese Souffle! It also has continued to fuel my true passion for food and cooking each and every day. Most importantly, I appreciate even more what food does best – bringing friends and family together. Thank you for reading Cooking Inside the Lines and I hope for many more years to come  it continues to keep you cooking in the kitchen too.

Moving on to what we are having for the week. I just picked up the new Cooking Light so it is all recipes from the new issue:

Sunday: Brazillain Feijoda on Rice with Oranges (this is sitting in the slow cooker right now and the aroma is starting to permeate the house…yum so far!)

Monday: French Onion and Apple Soup and Crispy Topped Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower Gratin

Tuesday: Asian-Glazed Chicken Thighs with Radish-Squash Slaw

Wednesday: Chicken Souvlaki Pitas with Tahini Sauce and Greek Salad

Thursday: Out-N-In California Burger. My favorite burger on the planet is In-N-Out and this is supposedly a take on their famous burger. Nothing beats a Double Double with Cheese Animal Style but I’m really looking forward to seeing how close they get to a traditional In-N-Out Cheeseburger. Great, now I have their jingle stuck in my head, “”In-N-Out, In-N-Out, That’s what a hamburger’s all about!”

If you are scratching your head over what’s for dinner tonight, might I suggest this Morrocan Shepard’s Pie from Cooking Light? We had this the other night and it was AMAZING. It’s very simple to assemble and is a stunner when served at the table. We loved all the spicy lamb mix and the sweet potato mash brings the whole dish together. Love!

Moroccan Shepard's Pie (Photo by John Autry)

That’s A Spicy Meatball!

Ah Sriracha sauce, what a fiery little condiment you are. I don’t know how you came to be so popular these days, but I’m certainly happy you did. I’ve enjoyed you mixed in with mayonnaise to make a spicy dip, on Bahn Mi sandwiches and as an added kick in some of my favorite Asian soups. But in meatballs and marinara sauce? Me thinks not. For those of you who enjoy Sriarcha you know this packs a spicy punch that hits your palette and fades away so you are not writhing in pain. Everyday Food has a whole section dedicated to Sriracha in their January/February 2011 issue including recipes such as meatballs and marinara, potstickers and chicken wings. According to the magazine: The sweet and spicy blend of red chiles, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar is named after the seaside town of Sriracha (SIR-rotch-ah) in Thailand…The California-based company Huy Fong Foods makes most of the Sriracha sauce sold in the U.S. It’s rooster logo earned it the nickname “rooster sauce.”


It was a tough choice, but I decided to make the Sriracha Marinara and Meatballs dish. The only thing I had to substitute was very lean ground beef for pork, otherwise I followed this exactly and it was killer. Killer because it tasted good and because it was SPICY. I think as a young child growing up in Texas I gravitated towards anything spicy and now my tolerance level is starting to fade rapidly. There might have been some perspiration, mouthbreathing and sinus clearing during and after eating this but I still loved it, and yes it faded away as quickly as it came. What a unique take on pasta and marinara sauce! We really loved the flavor of the meatballs and how they held their shape beautifully. I think broiling in the oven really helped. I can’t find the recipe online so here you go. If you like spice you will LOVE this!

Sriracha Marinara and Meatballs, Everyday Food, January/February 2011

For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground white-meat turkey
  • 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/3 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray

For the sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup Sriracha sauce
  • 1 pound spaghetti or other long pasta
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped, for serving
  1. Heat broiler, with rack in top position. Place pork, turkey, spinach, breadcrumbs, egg whites, oregano, 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. With your hands, mix to combine; roll into forty 1-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Broil until golden brown, 10 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and Sriracha and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain pasta, add to pot with sauce and meatball, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Easy, Breezy Breakfast

Yesterday morning I was starving and needed sustenance ASAP. For anyone who knows me, I AM the Snickers commercial where I turn into a grouchy mcgroucherstein if I don’t eat. Since I needed to eat pretty quickly, I  improvised and created a fun breakfast sandwich that I call the Sanity Saver so I could get food in my belly and David didn’t have to tolerate a hungry diva.

Sanity Saver Breakfast Sandwich (Photo by Emily Ingle)


To ensure I get a few more vegetables in my diet, I’ve been grabbing these Green Giant Health Blends in the freezer section. I decided to serve their antioxidant blend (red peppers, carrots, broccoli) and a poached egg on top of toasted whole wheat bread all smothered with Everyday with Rachael Ray’s Good-For-You Hollandaise Sauce. A little salt and pepper on top and you’ve got breakfast in a flash. We both really, really liked this and more importantly the diva crisis was averted. There’s only room for one diva in this house and I think we all know who that is…

Gabriel! Our Diva-licous Cat!

This Week We’re Having…

Roasted Beets with Citrus and Feta (Photograph by Kiyoshi Togashi)

Sunday: Sriracha Marinara and Meatballs

Monday – V-Day: Radicchio and Arugula Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing and Burrata Crostini, Pan-Seared Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce and Pink-Peppercorn Butter, Celery Root and Parsnip Puree and Honey Poached Pears with Crème Fraîche

Tuesday: Marakesh Stew with Cous Cous

Wednesday: The dish I didn’t get around to last week, Roasted Beets with Citrus and Feta (I’m adding grilled shrimp to this I think)

Thursday: Roasted Chicken with Herb Rub, Roasted Potatoes and Romaine with Buttermilk Dressing

So, I couldn’t find the links to some of the recipes above. I’m currently shaking my fist at Everyday Food magazine’s website *fist shake* since none of them are online. If they are gentle I will be sure to post here to share with you. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Chile Con Carne

Three simple little words for such a powerful dish. Bon Appetit did a special on chilis from around the country and of course this proud little lady chose the one from TEXAS! Some Texas chili rules. Number one, no beans. EVER! Rule number two, there will be beef.  Rule number three, bring on the spice.  Sometimes following the rules is fun.

Chile Con Carne (Photograph by Marcus Nilsson)

As the magazine states:

Chili is practically a religion in Texas. The thick, meaty “bowl of red” dates back to San Antonio in the 1820s. By the 1880s, the city’s plazas were full of pushcarts run by “chili queens” who would lure customers with live music. And Texans may argue about chili ingredients – but purists agree that the hearty stew would never, ever involve beans.

Roger that. This chili, like most real versions, has a lot going on and takes quite some time – but if you heart chili you won’t mind one iota. I followed this to the letter and it turned out perfect. It’s beefy, spicy and yes, a very dark bowl of red.  I topped with fresh tomatoes, green onions,  cilantro, and Monterrey Jack cheese. YUM! I aslo served with this amazing and so simple to make Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread. The only addition I made was I added pickled jalapenos and sauteed cork kernels for a little spicy/sweet oomph.

Before the cold slips away (YAY!) make this bowl of chili today. I just wicked rhymed that without meaning to.

Top Scallop

So we got all sorts of fancy over here at Casa Kealey – I made a gastrique!  This Scallops with Blood Orange Gastrique  from Bon Appetit just sounds fancy but honestly, it really wasn’t. This turned out to be a beautifully balanced scallop dish that was super elegant to serve but not hard to make. Totally a Top Scallop in my book.

Back in my food PR days I use to work with Sunkist, and as you can imagine I really got to know my citrus. I’ve always loved citrus, but through this experience I was introduced to new and delicious varieties that I had never encountered such as a  pummelo and the lovely  moro (aka blood) orange. Check out their citrus flavor wheel to learn about the different varieties available.

So what drew me to the moro orange? First, the color. You eat with your eyes and the interior color and juice of a moro is so eye appealing. Second, the flavor of course. It has a tart but slightly sweet taste so it’s versatile in sweet and savory dishes. I love making a simple moro orange salsa and serving it over roasted pork tenderloin. Drool.

Moro (Blood) Oranges From Our Kitchen!

The gastrique for this scallops dish was the most intimidating part. I’ve never made one and was a little nervous I would totally muck it up. Poodles, follow the directions on this and you will nail it! I followed every time and visual cue to ensure success and it totally worked! The rest of the meal came together in a flash and I followed their instructions to ensure you get a beautiful  caramelized scallop:  “Rinse it, pat it dry with a paper towel—and then get your pan really hot.”.

I found my blood oranges at Whole Foods Market and they are in season until about mid-April. I dare y’all to give this a try. Ooooooh, this would be beautiful to serve for Valentine’s Day! No onions or garlic. A beautiful deep red sauce on the sweet scallops and it’s filling without being too overbearing so you can keep on with your evening. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. 😉

Sunny-Side-Up Eggs on Mustard-Creamed Spinach with Crispy Crumbs

Love. So much love poodles. WOW. First because it was super easy and lickity-split quick in assembly. Second, the flavors were beautiful together on the plate. However when I tasted the breadcrumbs on their own and the spinach, cream, thyme mixture on it’s own, they were OK but I was a little concerned that this wasn’t going to taste as good as it looked. Wrong.

On the plate it’s a one-two punch of flavor from the crumbs/spinach and the lovely olive oil fried egg brings it all together. What I also liked was that the servings were just enough for each of us –  although secretly I could have run back to the kitchen and made one more batch for us to inhale. I typically have a lot of these ingredients on standby which makes me a happy panda because I may have just found my new favorite egg dish.

I’m slightly begging you to try this recipe.  It is so simple, fresh and absolutely delicious.

Sunny-Side-Up Eggs on Mustard-Creamed Spinach with Crispy Crumbs

A Snow Dusted Menu Plan

We woke up this morning to a beautiful snow-covered yard and I have it on my schedule to run outside and make snow angels!  Here is the view from our office.

With so many important things to do, let’s get to the menu plan shall we?

Saturday: Sunny-Side-Up Eggs on Mustard-Creamed Greens with Crispy Crumbs (breakfast) and Portuguese Chicken

Sunday: Super Bowl party! I’m really watching for the commercials this time around but I guess I”ll go for The Packers on this one. :)

Monday: Scallops with Blood Orange Gastrique and Rainbow Chopped Salad (the one dish I didn’t get to this week but I will make it darnit!)

Tuesday: Stacked Veggie Quesadilla

Wednesday: Chile Con Carne

Thursday: Winter Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing

On a side note, I didn’t have it my plans to make this Big Island Wild Pig with Cavatelli but due to weather issues I somehow ended up making this instead of the scallops (I used pork shoulder). It was SUPER delicious! We loved the arugula, tomatoes, goat cheese and pork all together in the pasta. This takes a while to make and I can see it making a lovely, cozy Sunday dinner.

Big Island Wild Pig with Cavatelli (Photo by Jeff Lipsky)