Author Archives: Kendall Totten

Croque Madame avec un Croissant

Ham and Brie Croissant with Fried Egg

A croque-monsieur, or grilled ham & cheese, when served with a fried egg or poached egg on top is known as a croque-madame. Many dictionaries attribute the name to the egg resembling an old fashioned woman’s hat! How fun is that? We were inspired to make this yummy sandwich by one of our favorite restaurants, Coquette Brasserie, and we decided to put a spin on it by using a croissant and Brie instead of the usual Gruyere cheese.

We just set a few slices of cherrywood ham and brie on the croissant and baked it for about ten minutes while frying up a sunny side up egg, which was still a bit runny. To accompany it, we enjoyed fresh salad greens from our garden with a homemade vinaigrette. Champagne white vinegar plus Penzey’s Sunny Paris seasoning made a perfect dressing!

This was almost too easy for being so fancy. Mangez bien!

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Fun Fall Salad & Butternut Bisque

Pecan & Gorgonzola Salad

This hearty salad pairs great with the bisque. A mix of gorgonzola, pecans, apples, and a homemade berry/vanilla vinaigrette.

Butternut Squash Bisque

Butternut Squash Bisque

The recipe for this delicious vegan bisque comes from “Back to Her Roots“, and was modified only slightly. You see I had just bought a large bag of apples only a few days prior so I thought that we had at least 1 apple for this recipe. But Doug had used every last one to make apple crisp a few nights earlier. So I just took a few generous scoops of the apple crisp which already included cinnamon and nutmeg and used it in place of the raw apple. Worked like a charm!

One word of caution — if you’ve never attempted to make a butternut squash anything before, you may want to check out this instructional video about how to peel them. They can be a lot of work, or at least more than I was expecting anyway. At least the results are worth it!

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh grated and peeled ginger
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion, ginger and carrots and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add in all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until all vegetables are very soft.
Remove from heat, puree in batches in a blender or puree using an immersion blender. Test for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Doug also added a delightful finishing touch of cool whip on top, which made it even more dessert-like. Try it!!

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Crazy ’bout Crêpes


If this blog turns into an all-crêpes, all-the-time kind of blog, no one will really complain right? Good. Because I have recently hacked together the most glorious crêpe yet. It’s a slight twist on a basic recipe which involves strawberries, Nutella, and raspberry jam. The magic ingredient is a soft goat cheese which may sound wacky, but trust me it’s amazing.

I used Cana de Cabra which I found at Whole Foods, but I think any creamy, mild goat cheese would do. The light tang of the cheese perfectly balances the sweetness of the berries & chocolate. This is most definitely my new favorite food and I just had to share!


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Crêpes of Wrath


Recently it has come to my attention that this blog, once a labor of love, has become a place of neglect; forsaken and collecting cobwebs in its tiny corner of the web. But no more! I’m beginning the resurgence of delicious content today with this tempting and savory mushroom & asparagus crepes. Maybe Doug will be kind enough to add his two cents about how it was created so you too can enjoy it, but for now this will serve as our re-entry to the WordPress world and the savory hackers shall continue to forge ahead!

…Hey everybody! It’s Doug and I’m here to do my part to make sure the cobwebs stay clear (Kendall hates spiders, I don’t).

I would like to preface this with a word of advice. This is inspired by my high school physics teacher Mr. Maclom. He always said “Read everything first, plug-in what you know and the rest is all cookbook.” This lesson has held true in almost everything I do in life and is the reason for many of my successes in life and almost all of my cooking adventures. So, with all of that said, read all of this first, it’s all cookbook from there.

For this recipe there are a few requirements that will make this dish amazing. The first and most important is the company. Secondly, you need to have a disproportionate love of all things french. You can see by the shirt that I’m wearing (a gift from Kendall) that not only am I a geek but I love french art!

DSC_0900Ok, now for the Crepe. First make the crepe. This will require the usual, eggs, milk (or alternative like I use), flour and a touch of vanilla and a pinch of salt. This should come out like a very thin pancake batter. Here is a link to a great recipe for the crepe itself.

Then in a pan, saute some butter. Like a quarter of a stick or so, doesn’t have to be exact. When the butter is starting to bubble, add some chopped mushrooms, size does NOT matter. Add them and when they begin to give up their liquid and smell amazing, add some chicken broth, corn starch and creme (about a 50/50 mix with some corn starch mixed and not lumpy). let this simmer down into a nice creme. You might want to add a variation like adding pepper, lemon or garlic. I however am a purist and love the taste of the mushroom and butter. Let this reduce while you’re doing everything else stirring occasionally.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Now the fun part. When you have your crepes made and you have your sauce prepared, assemble them according to taste. Here is what I did: lay the crepe flat on the plate, add a piece of ham to the bottom, then add the brie on top of that, follow with 2 pieces of asparagus split in half length-wise, then add another piece of ham to the top and roll it like you see above. I did this for all the crepes and arranged them in a pan like a bunch of enchiladas. I then baked them to soften the cheese and get a little bit of crispness on the crepe itself, approximately 3-5 minutes.

Now take them out and lay them on the plate in any visually appealing configuration and top with the mushroom sauce and sprinkle with chives. Ahhh, tres bien!!

Revisiting Some Favorites

It’s been almost a year exactly since we last made our Dr. Pepper pulled pork, so we celebrated the occasion by changing things up and making our slaw with purple cabbage (or “purple nurple” as we call it)! And since summer is nearly over, we thought we’d enjoy a bit more watermelon while it’s still available.

Hope you had a great summer and are ready to kick off fall! Check back soon, Doug has some great ideas for new recipes, plus we’re going to try to make a Raw Lasagna, as served at Pure Food & Wine in New York. I can’t wait!

We opted for purple coleslaw to complement our pulled porkwich

This salad is so different from the usual side salads, and it’s crazy good.

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Caprese of Love

If you have ten minutes and a few fresh ingredients handy, you have time to make this simple yet delightful sandwich. If you want to add an extra bit of cute to sweep your girl (or guy) off her (or his) feet, start with oval-shaped buns and cut diagonally. Then swap halves to make a heart-shaped treat they are sure to love. And love you for it!

Heart shape or not, this sandwich makes me swoon every time!

We like to stick to the basics and just use fresh mozzarella (note: there is a difference between processed and “fresh mozzarella” cheese), tomato slices, basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.  The buns were basic local grocery bakery buns. White bread, a bit soft, but sturdy enough to hold up under vinegar and tomatoes without falling apart.

Top it off with some Terra Mediterranean chips, and enjoy!

These little buns were perfect for one of my fav sandwiches.

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Salmon and Avocado Ceviche + Watermelon Salad

When Doug and I lived in St. Petersburg, FL, there was a restaurant downtown called Ceviche, which was named for the dish which we had never tried. If you are unfamiliar, ceviche is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices such as lemon or lime. It sounded a little “fishy” to us, but being the savory hacker adventurers we are, we decided to give it a try—and loved it!

It’s summer, and avocados are plentiful! Why not add it to salmon ceviche?

Since we moved back to Michigan for the summer, we decided to make it at home. The important thing is to use fresh, sushi-grade fish. That has the best flavor anyhow. 🙂

I just love the pattern of Salmon, don’t you?

You’ll need about 1/4lb of salmon per person, and a 1/3 cup of lime juice (about 4-6 limes, depending on size). You need enough juice to submerge all the salmon cubes.

Limes are my favorite flavor of the summer.

Cut up 1/4 cup of red onion slices, and 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 tsp sugar, and 2 1/2 tbsp sea salt.  Let the salmon soaking in this mixture for 1-2 hours. How long you let it soak varies from one recipe to another, but if you’re using sushi-grade fish then you are safe, because you could just as soon eat it raw and be just fine.

While you wait, whip up this easy and refreshing melon salad. Just cube some watermelon, toss in feta crumbles, chopped mint, and a tablespoon of olive oil. I wish I had gotten a better shot of it, but it looked so good I didn’t want to wait to eat it!

This might sound wacky, but its so refreshing and delicious!

When the ceviche is ready, drain the excess liquid from the salmon and gently stir in the avocado slices. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes and then either serve it up in an avocado shell as shown above, or in a martini glass. This had a particularly nice effect when Doug drizzled the balsamic over it. Light, healthy, and gorgeous too. Oh, and did we mention tasty?

Savory hacker Doug added coconut milk and balsamic to his ceviche

Lastly, if you happen to wind up with leftovers, you can toss it in the frying pan the next day and make some quick & easy fish tacos. These were really too good to be called “leftovers”!

Fry up some red peppers and onions too if you prefer a fajita style taco.

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Mini Guac Boats!

Everyone loves fresh Guac at parties, why not put it back in avocado half shells so each person can have their own serving?

Don’t forget, if you have leftover guacamole you should add the avocado pit back into the mix and the push the Saran wrap all way down so it’s touching the guac. This prevents it from turning brown so quickly. Then you’ll have more to enjoy later! Olé!



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Coconut Curry Chickpeas and Cauliflower

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

Vegan delight!

We’ve recently been on a vegan kick, so hats off to this great recipe from the Quick Fix Vegan Cookbook.  This goes great with basmati rice, Doug’s favorite, and chai tea.

  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups small cauliflower florets (from 1 small cauliflower)
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder or paste, or more 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups home-cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen peas 1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrot, cauliflower, and curry powder to taste. Add the tomatoes and broth, cover, and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, peas, coconut milk, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered until the flavors are well blended and the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes longer. Serve hot, with basmati rice & a splash of lime juice. Serves 4.

Recipe from Robertson, Robin (2011-10-04). Quick-Fix Vegan: Healthy Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (Kindle Locations 975-982). Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC. Kindle Edition.

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In American culture, pancakes are a common tradition among families, churches, and pretty much any organization looking to attract kids. (Remember Breakfast with Santa?) And as good as pancakes are, it’s funny to me that crêpes, their delectable cousin, are so uncommon. After all, they’re just a tad thinner, and a tad more delicious. Perhaps people are intimidated by them because they seem harder to make? Or is it because they’re French and we can barely pronounce them? Maybe if we called them “Freedom Cakes” they would gain notoriety. 😉

All kidding aside, crêpes are really are easy to make, and you can do it at home. A good pan is really important to the process, and we’ve found that our cast iron skillet does a bang-up job!

Breakfast scramble crepe with lemon caper sauce & berries

We call this the Breakfast Scramble Crêpe. Add scrambled egg, ham, mozzarella, & a touch of fancy homemade lemon caper sauce & berries on the side.

Be sure that your skillet is nice and hot when you begin, and don’t be afraid to sacrifice a bit of batter for the first trial crêpe that soaks up any residual flavor on your conditioned skillet. Grease the skillet with a dab of butter so your crêpes won’t stick.

The trick is to pour just enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom. Then use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to smooth the batter out and around the pan. Once it has cooked through enough to flip, give it a toss and cook the other side just for a minute or two. Pop it out of the pan and add your favorite toppings. Remember, crêpes can be sweet or savory, so go wild!

Berries & Nutella Crepe

Nutella and berries make a simply divine treat!

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