This week it was my turn again to pick something for Craving Ellie in My Belly, and I chose a New York Breakfast.

Like Ellie, I grew up in New York (I may have mentioned that a bazillion times on this blog already), and thus I grew up eating lots of bagels with cream cheese and various types of smoked fish. My favorite being nova lox. I know this is something that people either love or hate, so I apologize to my Craving Ellie girls who fall in the latter category.

However, I was in New York a few weeks ago and every time I go I always ingest tons of lox while I am there and then bring some back with me and freeze it. So I was inspired by my trip up there to pick this recipe since I knew I would be flush with smoked fish.

Before we get to the recipe, let’s talk fish. Lox, nova, nova lox - it’s all the same thing. And what it is is cured and cold smoked salmon. Yum! It is the stuff of dreams (well, my dreams). The name is derived from the German word “lachs” and the Yiddish word “laks", both meaning salmon. Nova can sometimes be confused with smoked salmon, which are indeed two completely different things. Smoked salmon is hot smoked, so it is cooked, which provides a very different final texture and flavor compared to a cold smoked salmon. Cold smoked salmon is technically raw because it never reaches over 90F. You may have also heard of Gravlax, which is a Nordic preparation of salmon. In Gravlax, the salmon is cured with a spice rub usually containing salt, sugar, paprika and dill. It is then weighed down to push out all the moisture and cures for about 3 days. Gravlax is not smoked at all, so it is also a raw application of salmon. I love salmon - raw and cooked - and all of these different preparation are delicious. However, nova remains my favorite.

This sandwich is really simple to make and it does not have many ingredients. So that is why it is important that all the ingredients are top quality, because you will taste everything. I hope everyone who made this was able to find good lox. I prefer to get mine from a deli where they slice it off the fish themselves on site. I try to stay away from the vacuum sealed stuff, but it will do in a pinch. I also tried some lox from Whole Foods once and found it to be horrendous. This is why I usually don’t buy it unless I am in New York, but I am bit of a snob, so just ignore me.

I made my New York Breakfast a bit different than Ellie’s directions.

Here are my changes:

  1. I used thinly sliced rye bread instead of pumpernickel.
  2. I used full fat chive cream cheese instead of neufchatel cheese. I did this because Nick and I have decided that besides the fact that NY bagels are superior to every other bagel, another reason why our NY bagel sandwiches are always so good is because of the delicious homemade cream cheese you get at some of the bagel shops and delis. So I picked up some quality cream cheese from a NY style bagel store near my office in Maryland. Since I got chive flavored cream cheese (my favorite) I did not add extra chives.
  3. I left out the cucumber and tomato.

So my sandwich consisted of well toasted rye bread, cream cheese, thinly sliced red onion, lox, and some more red onion. I hope everyone who made this enjoyed it. I sure did. And this is not the only way I like to eat lox, check out my post about lox, eggs, and onions. Also yum!


And yummy cream cheese:

Okay, so I went on a bit of a challah making craze. Over the week while I was on vacation I made 3 batches of challah yielding a total of 6 loaves.

You may recall a few weeks ago I made my first challah for our Bread Baking Day roundup. I used Peter Reinhardt’s recipe from Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and at the time I was pretty pleased with the results.

However, I wanted to do some experimenting to deepen the flavor and I also wanted to try some other braiding besides the 3 strand braid.

So I set out again, still using Peter Reinhardt’s recipe, except that I incorporated a preferment so the challah would have the richer flavor that I am used to. I also doubled the salt because my first loaves were a bit on the bland side.

Overall I was very pleased with the outcome. The flavor was absolutely better and richer, and I was able to achieve a deeper golden crust as well by using a whole egg as the egg wash instead of just egg whites as Reinhardt calls for. I was also very happy with the way the 5 braid looked.

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Welcome to my second Presto Pasta Nights roundup.

I am so happy to be hosting again and seeing all the creative and inspiring pasta dishes from all over the world.

Isn’t the internet great?

Well without any further ado and ramblings on my part, here is PPN #132

Nancy from gaga in the kitchen sent in a quick and easy Soba Noodles, which she whipped up on her lunch break at home. I love the combination of the sweet and salty flavors she used in her sauce.

Petra, all the way from Hamburg Germany, is sharing her decadent Mac and Peas Carbonara. Petra found a random box of macaroni in her pantry, and since her husband is not too fond of cheese (what?) she decided to make some mac and peas instead.

The lovely Graziana of Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs) is sharing her Cheese and Basil Pasta. Each shell is bursting with cheesy deliciousness. I don’t even have to taste this one to know it is an instant winner in my book.

Next up is Cincinnati Chili from Shelby aka HoneyB of The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honey bunch. Shelby tried out an interesting chili recipe from Cooking Light, the secret ingredients are cinnamon and chocolate! Served over spaghetti, this certainly is far from a conventional chili, however the verdict was 2 thumbs up from Honey and Grumpy.

Ann of Pig Pig’s Corner has a lovely pasta dish that features her new favorite ingredient, Fig Balsamic Vinegar. Check out Ann’s blog to find out how to make her Figgy Angel Hair Pasta with Tomberries, Artichokes, Courgettes, Shrimps & Pine Nuts.

Let’s move on to Marye of Baking Delights, who with a fridge so bare it was echoing, whipped up this fabulously creative fall inspired Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spicy Chipotle Sauce. Healthy, quick, and flavorful, this pasta hits all the right marks in my book.

The next dish was sent to us by our dear blog friend Sophie of Sophie’s Foodie Files. As usual Sophie has something creative and delicious to share, this week it is Mixed Pasta with Courgettes, Garlic, Ricotta, and Mint. This has so many of my favorite ingredients all together on one plate, I just love how creamy it looks!

Nuria of Spanish Recipes has made Rossejat de Fideus, which loosely translated mean toasted noodles. Nuria tells us that this is a typical Catalan dish and is made by toasting noodles in some oil and then cooking them in fish stock. She served this with an alliolo. One look at that picture and I knew that I was going to have to try this out.

This dish from Eating Pleasure features one of my favorite types of noodles, the udon. After suffering an accidentally burnt chicken, Little Inbox recovered by still preparing her spicy gravy and smothering it on some udon noodles instead of chicken. What a hearty and delicious looking impromptu meal!

Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen shared one of her favorite comfort foods and an Italian classic, Capellini Con Cacio E Pepe, which is basically just pasta with cheese and pepper. I don’t know about you, but I am with Deb, when I am tired and hungry I also crave carbs in a major way, usually in the form of pasta. So keep this recipe around for the nights when you want quick, comforting, and delicious. I think it will hit the spot.

Continuing with our Italian classics, Abby from eat the right stuff has made a hearty chicken amatriciana using some leftover roast chicken. Abby explains that the trick is to make a really intensely tomato flavored sauce so that eat bite packs the maximum punch.

Macaroni and cheese seems to know no bounds, since Daphne of More than Words enjoyed some this week down under in Australia. The possibilities for mac and cheese truly are endless, and Daphne’s version, Cheesy Baked Broccoli Macaroni, also includes squid and prawns. Yum, yum, and yum.

Friend and fellow Craving Ellie in My Belly girl Chaya of Chaya’s Comfy Cook Blog is sharing with us her gluten free version of mac and cheese, Mickey’s Macaroni and Cheese. Mickey Mouse that is, and what better thing to serve Mickey than something with cheese! He is a mouse after all. If this sounds crazy, then check out Chaya’s post and it will all make sense.

Next in the roundup is Katerina from Culinary Flavors who is sharing her E.T. Pasta au Gratin. She named this E.T. since it is easy and tasty, and it sure does look great. What is more mouth watering than a crispy yet creamy cheesy crust like that?

Presto Pasta Nights creator Ruth of Once Upon A Feast sent in her divine looking Pasta with Shrimp and Lemon Sauce. She had to keep dinner simple since she was preparing to head out to Prince Edward Island to cover their Fall Flavours Festival for’s blog. How exciting! Enjoy some good food for all of us Ruth!

This week Katie from Thyme for Cooking, the Blog featured her creation of Pasta with Forest Mushrooms and Zucchini. Katie is also looking for some advice on buying a new camera, so if you have any for her, go on over to her blog and help a girl out.

And another seafood pasta creation, this time from our friend Margaret from the lovely blog Tea and Scones. With her own fabulous looking homemade pasta, she made Pasta with Shrimp and Basil, in a light white wine tomato sauce.

Feeling reminiscent of her time in Jakarta, Lidia of Bianca’s and Jordan’s Mom recreated one of her favorite dishes she associates with that time. Mie Kangkung or Water Spinach, Chicken, and Mushroom topped noodles. I will admit that I have never heard of Kangjung or water spinach, but I trust Lidia that this is delicious. It certainly looks like something I would like to try.

And last but not least, Joanne over at Eats Well With Others shared her Coco-Peanut Butter Noodle Salad. She was inspired by a recent Mark Bittman column touting the virtues of peanut butter and it’s infinite uses. Like Joanne, I could also eat PB all day every day. So this PB noodle salad looks delicious to me.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their dishes this week, you all came together to make a delicious looking round up.

Buon Appetito!

*I just wanted to first give a big internet hug to all of you who left me such understanding and spirit lifting comments last week. You all made me smile and it also made me appreciate this blog as an outlet and appreciate all the bloggy friends that I have made since we started this in January. So thanks, it helped. ;D. *

I was excited for this week’s Craving Ellie in My Belly pick. I have had my eye on this one for a while. Leslie of Lethally Delicious came through with a fabulous recipe pick of Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. How could you not be excited for a grilled cheese sandwich?

Ellie jazzes up the ho hum grilled cheese by adding sweet caramelized onions and spicy pepperjack cheese, as well as some cheddar cheese and a slice of tomato. (We left out the tomato, yuck)

However, I did make some homemade tomato soup to pair with this cheesy goodness. Yes, I know. We are weirdos. We would never eat our sandwiches with a slice of tomato, but insist on eating our sandwiches with a bowl of tomato soup. Sue me.

I used some thinly sliced rye bread that I had in the freezer (getting ready for my recipe pick next week!) which worked out great. I also happened to be caramelizing onions for some French onion soup for another day when I made these sandwiches. So instead of using the red onion I just borrowed a couple forkfuls from my pot of already sweet and soft onions. I used slices of sharp cheddar and pepperjack, as Ellie calls for. Since I was not in a particularly healthful cooking mood on this day, I really piled on the cheese. It was oozing out of the center after I cut the sandwiches. :yes:

These. were. so. good. I don’t know how healthy they really are since we are using full fat cheese here, but no matter. They were good.

You can find the recipe for the grilled cheese on page 95 of The Food You Crave or at the Food Network website.

Now let’s talk about tomato soup. This is something I rarely make, especially since I am just not interested in canned soup anymore. To find a recipe I consulted my cookbooks first since I wanted to give them some action, there are some that are feeling unloved these days. I decided to try out a healthy recipe I found in EatingWell’s Comfort Foods Made Healthy: The Classic Makeovers Cookbook by Jessie Price, The Editors of EatingWell
Image from Amazon

This book has some great sounding recipes, but this was the first one I have tried. I was hesitant at first, since any recipe with the word tofu in it gives me pause. However, I recently made a dip that was thickened by silken tofu and was pleased with the results. So I decided to have some faith and try this out.

While we were grocery shopping as we approached the tofu area I said to Nick “Okay honey get ready, I am about to buy some tofu". I got this response: 88|. It’s a big deal for us.

Long story short, the soup came out excellent. It was wonderfully thick and creamy and I would absolutely make it again. And the best part is that it really is low fat and healthy for you. It was the perfect accompaniment to the grilled cheese.

Ingenious creamy tomato soup recipe after the jump…

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We are hosting this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, so be sure to send your yummy pasta dishes our way by this Thursday night. All you need to do is post about pasta, then email me the link and a picture at sara at imafoodblog dot com. Check back for what I am sure will be a mouth watering round up on Friday.

I have been in a bit of a funk lately with blogging, and life in general. I am so busy doing things that I don’t really want to be doing (i.e. soul sucking work) and quite frankly it is depressing, and it makes me not want to do much of anything when I actually have free time.

So I haven’t really been posting much here or even reading many blogs, and the boys certainly don’t pick up the slack there. Do you even remember the boys anymore?

I have been cooking and baking though, and I made 6 loaves of challah, among other things, last week while on vacation. I will post about that soon.

I feel like a bit of a deadbeat Craving Ellie leader, and I apologize to my girls for not updating the website as often and not really commenting much on everyone’s posts. I have been cooking along each week, and Nick and I did enjoy this week’s pick from one of our most enthusiastic Craving Ellie girls, Joanne of Apple Crumbles. (If you haven’t checked out Joanne’s new and improved site already, take a gander, it looks great!) Joanne, ever the vegetarian, chose Black Bean Mexican Style Pizza.

This is basically a homemade black bean dip spread on a tortilla, topped with tomatoes and cabbage and then baked in the oven for a few minutes. It was pretty tasty. The homemade bean dip is definitely a keeper. Nick enjoyed his “pizza” more than I did, but that may have been because he insisted on having cheese on his. I was a good girl and ate my exactly as the recipe called for. The only change I made was that I used canned whole tomatoes instead of fresh.

I made the bean dip a day ahead, so this was a super quick meal that I made on Monday night. The Monday night where I came home from work at 5pm and then had to leave again at 7:30pm to go to an 8pm meeting. yuck.

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