Tuesday, December 29, 2009

12/28/09 - Party Prep...baking - Sundried tomato palmiers and cheese sticks

Tonight I had some "slave labor" (self-labelled) join me in the kitchen to get some of the baking started. I decided to make a veggie lasagna and some meatballs (the meatballs were kept separate from all of the lasagna of course and I didn't use eggplant but some carrots were added to the lasagna) on sunday night while I had a little bit of spare time to cook so that I could concentrate on the appetizers tonight. My aunt bought me her favorite appetizer cook book a few months back and I am slowly moving through many of ideas. Since our New Year's Party was going to a little smaller than a usual gatherings I decided that we could try branch out from the old favorites and experiment. I still have no idea what else I will be doing but I know there is going to be something?

From hors'doeuvres by Eric Treuille & Victoria Blashford-Snell

Sundried Tomato Palmiers
3.5 sheets of puff pastry
2 jars oil packed sundried tomatoes
1/4c pine nutes
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
3 gloves garlic - smashed

egg wash

1) Place tomatoes (with oil), nuts, cheese and garlic in food processer and blend into paste
2) Roll out each sheet of pastry dough and add thin layer of pesto
3) but the sheet in half lengthwise so you have two rectangles approx 4" x 9"
4) Roll the sheet up so end meet in the middle and place roll side down on a sheet
5) refrigerate for 20 min or until firm slice each roll into 1/2" pieces
6) coat all sides in egg wash and place on a greased sheet
7) cook for 10 min in a 400F oven

Parmesean cheese sticks
1 sheet puff pastry
2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp grated parmesean
egg wash

1) lay out pasty and add 2 tbsp of cheese and paprika to entire side
2) fold in half and cut into 1/2 " strips - coat all sides with egg wash
3) twist ends around each other and lay on greased sheet
4) bake at 400F for 8 min

Both can be stored in air tight container for a few days - crisp and warm in 400F oven for 3 min before serving

I also made a batch of cheese straws from Smitten Kitchen http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/06/cheese-straws/ however one batch was rolled a bit thin so make sure your dough is 1/8" or more thick as they were better when they were a bit thicker

I didn't have any milk so I had to substitute some water..... they came out fine but I would imagine that milk is a better fit

1 1/2 c grated Cheddar cheese
4 tbsp of butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 tbsp water (to bind)

1) add all ingredients but water to food processor and mix together
2) slowly add water until dough begins to form a ball
3) roll out into 1/8" thick rectangle and slice into 1/4" strips
4) place on greased sheet and cook at 350F for 12 -14min

these can also be stored and served room temp

Sunday, December 27, 2009

12/27/09 - White Chicken Chili

After spending the past week traveling for the holidays I returned to an empty house yesterday. I had tried to clean out the fridge before leaving so my options were limited to take out. On our trip home we stopped at my boyfriends parents house and had a heart bowl of beef soup that his mother prepared and it left me wanting to make some of my own. While I try to avoid chains like Ruby Tuesday's I have to admit it is one of the only options near my work and the salad bar and a bowl of chili seem to be better for me than running to the grease truck for a steak and cheese sub or similar. I have gotten quite fond of their white chicken chili which you can get along side the salad bar for under $10. I knew however that the chili couldn't be that difficult to replicate and perhaps a homemade version would be even better.

After taking a look around the internet I found a few places that replicated their recipe. I had to make a run out to the store to get myself ready for the week ahead (and our New Year's Eve eve party on wednesday night).
I had a hard time finding the diced chili peppers so I stuck with the jalapenos and added a few shakes of crushed red pepper.

White Chicken Chili
3 cans canellini beans - rinsed and drained
6 chicken tenders - cooked and diced
2 c chicken broth
1/2 green pepper - diced
1/2 red onion diced
3 scallions - diced
1 jalepeno - diced (seeds removed)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregeno
1 tbsp chili powder
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
sour cream
2% mexican cheese blend

1) add oil to pan and saute onions until translucent
2) add diced peppers & scallions and seasoning
3) add beans to pan along with broth and chicken- bring to a boil
4) use a potato mashers to squish some of the beans
5) continue to simmer uncovered and allow to thicken
6) when serving stir in about 1 tbsp cheese and top with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12/14/09 - Chicken Rolatini

This is an easy but fun dish that always a great idea when you have company as it seems a bit fancier than it is (though I have to admit with out some pasta or rice my plate is looking a little empty!) The easiest way to make this is to use the chicken breasts labeled as "thin- sliced" in the meat department but you can always butter-fly and pound out a standard boneless breast if you don't have access to them.

Chicken Rolatini w Marsala mushroom sauce
6 thin sliced chicken breasts
1/2 tub garlic & herb cheese spread (like rondele)
6 slices of proscuitto
6 toothpicks (to secure chicken breasts closed)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil

8 oz white button mushrooms
1/2 c marsala wine
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
5 slices of pancetta - diced
salt, pepper, oregeno, garlic powder, parsley

1) On a flat surface, spread cheese over 2/3 of chicken breast surface and top with prosciutto
2) Roll and secure with a toothpick to keep closed
3) Repeat with remaining chicken breasts
4) In a large pan (that can go into the oven....so no plastic handles!) heat oil and butter.
5) Heat oven to 350 F
6) Place chicken rolls in the pan and sear on each side approx 5 min
7) Place entire pan in the oven and cook 10-15 min or until chicken is cooked throughout
8) While chicken is finishing in oven, in another pan cook pancetta
9) Add mushrooms and butter
10) Once melted sprinkle flour on top and make a roux by combining
11) Add marsala wine and seasoning
12) Serve chicken with a spoon full of sauce on top

12/13/09 - Late Night Gnocchi

It was too late to start defrosting some meat for dinner but it was too early to go to bed hungry. Luckily I have some frozen homemade pasta in the freezer for just these types of occasions. This dish was a simple fast fresh sauce made with some left over vegetables and some canned crushed tomatoes with a bit of seasoning. It doesn't have the flavor of a sauce that has cooked all day long but sometimes all you need is a little something warm in your belly!

Fast Homemade Sauce
6-7 mushrooms - sliced
1/2 green pepper - diced
2 shallots - sliced thin
5 sun-dried tomatoes - cut into ribbons
2 cloves of garlic - smashed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c crushed tomatoes
1/4 c marsala wine
salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano and parsley

1) Over medium heat, saute garlic and shallots in oil
2) Add peppers and cook until soft
3) Add sundried tomatoes and marsala wine - cook until softened
4) Add tomatoes, mushrooms and seasoning
5) Bring to a simmer and then serve over pasta

(I also think that olives would be a great addition to this sauce but some one in my house is anti-olive!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

12/10/09 - Christmas Cookie Spectacular

With the Channukah party in full effect last night I had to stick a bit of Christmas into the night. I have been wanting to have a cookie decorating party since I know that after a few glasses of wine the creative juices are at their best.... or so we might think!

As always I woke up to a giant mess but all the laughs last night are worth all the dirty dishes (especially when you aren't the one who has to do them! thanks Jeremy!) Quite a few cookies met an untimely fate before the camera snapped them and final count was only about a dozen survivors! The recipe called for 40-50 cookies which makes me wonder where the other 30 something went!

I used a sugar cookie recipe from seriouseats.com who took it from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

2 1/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 stick butter in 1/2" chunks
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla

1) combine all of the dry ingredients and add butter - mix till in small pea sized balls
2) Blend yolks and vanilla together and mix into mixture
3) Keep mixing until it forms a ball
4) Cut in half and roll each half into a disk between 2 sheets of wax paper - place in fridge for 30 min
5) Remove from fridge and roll out even thinner (cookie thickness) and place in fridge again for 30 min
6) Remove and cut out shapes (using cutters) and place on greased cookie sheet
7) cook at 350 F for 10 min or until browned

Thursday, December 10, 2009

12/10/09- Tree Trimming Latke Party

This weekend starts the holiday of Hannukah but since I have some plans I decided to have some people over to help decorate the tree and enjoy some holiday festivities. The brisket that I made for the last holiday (Rosh Hashanah...which we also celebrated on our own schedule) was just so good and the weather so cold that I couldn't help but cook it again. I started it last night and let it sit and cool while I was sleeping/at work today then heated it back up right in the same pan (enameled cast iron) after slicing it against the grain.

I used the same recipe as I did for Rosh Hashanah however since I made (with some real life jewish help) latkes, which are traditional potato pancakes I didn't make the sweet potatoes and carrots. After using the mandolin to matchstick about 3 lb of potatoes I realized that the food processor I had just received for my birthday was much better suited to the job. So I re-shredded everything and added a lot more matzoh and flour than I expected. They were a big hit with everyone, however, so I think that it all worked out.

taken from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Grandma-Ethels-Brisket-with-Tzimmes-231787

5 lb first cut brisket
2 can beef broth
1 c sherry
1 tbsp oil
salt, pepper and "steakhouse" herb grinder blend
1 c raisins

1) In a large dutch over heat oil. Pat brisket dry and season all sides with salt, pepper, and herb blend.
2) Sear each side of the brisket (about 7 min each side)
3) Add liquids and place in 350F oven for 3 hrs covered - add raisins for last hour
4) Meat should be ready to shred but still solid - remove from heat and leave uncovered to cool
5) Refrigerate over night
6) Skim fat off and remove meat from liquid and slice against the grain.
7) Return meat to pan, cover and heat at 350F for at least 1 hr

Potato Latkes
6 med russet potatoes (about 3 lbs)
1 onion
2 eggs
4 tbsp matzoh meal
4 tbsp flour
salt & pepper

1 c vegetable oil (for frying)
apple sauce
sour cream

1) Using a food processor (or large holes in a grater) shred the potatoes and onion
2) In a large bowl mix eggs, potato, onion and matzoh together - add flour until it becomes tacky enough to form clumps, season with salt & pepper
3) In a frying pan with hot oil, place about 2 tbsp of mixture, repeat in clockwise direction (I could fit like 5 in the pan at once but it all depends on your pan size)
4) After about 5 min, gently flip over
5) Remove from oil and absorb excess oil on a paper towel
6) Serve hot with side of applesauce and/or sour cream

(if you want to get creative you can add carrot or sweet potato as well)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

12/9/09 - Chicken Marsala w Fettucini

Yikes it been exactly a month since I posted anything and in actuality I have only cooked a few times in all of that (except for a marathon butternut ravioli session thanksgiving eve). But I am hoping to work on that in the next few weeks when I am actually going to be home. With the holidays almost here I am excited to get started on making some goodies!

Tonight I made an old favorite that I haven't made in forever, Chicken Marsala. I bought some Marsala wine a few months back when I visited one of the mammoth liquor in the 'burbs and sort of forgot about it until this weekend when I made my first visit to a giant liquor store that opened nearby me which got me thinking.
I served the chicken with some fresh (well frozen) pasta I had made while assembling the ravioli earlier this month. I do wish that my head wasn't elsewhere (tomorrows brisket) when I began cooking tonight as I forgot about the bag of shallots I bought earlier this week till after dinner was on the table. This dish definitely could have used a bit more seasoning in it as the sauce was a bit light... maybe some fresh herbs would have helped too? Speaking of seasoning a friend mentioned today that she uses 6+ heads of garlic a week! I think maybe I need to spice things up a bit as I only use a measly one (on average) though I do use almost a mill full of peppercorns a week! How is your hand with the spices?

Chicken Marsala
1 container button mushroom - cleaned and sliced
6 thin sliced chicken breasts (or 3 large butterflied)
1/2 c flour
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
2 gloves garlic - smashed
Salt & pepper
1 c marsala wine

1) Mix flour, parsley, salt and pepper together and coat chicken breasts
2) In large pan heat oil and butter together, add garlic clove
3) Saute chicken in pan - flip once browned (5 min each side)
4) Remove chicken from the pan and add the mushrooms and wine
5) Let simmer until thickened
6) Add chicken back into the pan and coat with wine sauce

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

11/9/09 - Chicken Veg and Bean Soup

Last week was yet another business trip... this time to Montreal, Canada. While I can't say much about the dinner we had there (mis-communication led to a plate of chicken fingers instead of roasted chicken) we did have a wonderful lunch out in the eastern providences at the Le Relais Restaurant-Bistro Since I made the bad decision to not take my winter coat I was pretty cold the whole trip and took every opportunity to sample the soups. I decided to make my own version last night as the hearty bean and vegetable mix was delicious and hit the spot!

Pic coming soon!

Chicken, Vegetable and Bean Soup

1 breast of chicken - shreded (I used left overs from dinner but you can always roast up a boneless skinless or use one of the pre-cooked ones you find in most grocery stores)
1 can white northern beans -rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans - rinsed and drained
10 baby carrots - diced
1/2 onion - diced
2 scallions - diced
1 green bell pepper - diced
10 mushrooms sliced (I used baby bellas)
1 zucchini - diced
1 box chicken broth
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic - crushed
2 tbsp fresh cilantro - minced
2 tbsp fresf parsley- minced

1) in a large pot add oil and garlic
2) add onions, carrots, peppers and scallions- saute until soft
3) add tomatoes, beans and broth
4) let come to a simmer and add zucchini and mushrooms
5) add shredded chicken
6) add herbs and salt/ pepper to taste

Monday, November 9, 2009

11/6/09 - Beef Tenderloin w Grilled Asparagus, Fingerling Potatoes and Butternut Squash

Well my mom finally came to visit (she lives in Boston and I am down in NJ) so I had to plan something a little special for dinner. She asked me to not go crazy but after 20+ (soon to be 30+ yikes!) years of taking care of me I figured if there was any company deserving of the beautiful beef tenderloins that were sitting in my fridge that she was the one!

The dinner was quite simple as I promised I wouldn't spend my night slaving in the kitchen so I seasoned the tenderloins and then pan seared them. Once all 4 sides were nice and brown I placed them in a 350F oven for about 20 min. The Fingerling potatoes came from my CSA and were just scrubbed clean and then boiled in some salted water for about 35 min. The butternut squash (also from the CSA) was peeled and cubed, boiled for about 20 min and then served with a pat of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. Finally for the asparagus I coated them in olive oil, salt and pepper and cooked them on the grill pan for about 15 min.

It was a lovely dinner and only about 15-20 min of the prep required me in the kitchen (searing the beef and watching over the asparagus) which gave me plenty of time to hear all the gossip and news from home!

The one thing that I wish I had made was a nice red wine- peppercorn sauce to accompany the meat but everything was quite delicious just as it was and not having to stress made things even better.

11/4/09 - Chicken and Zucchini "Lasagna"

Since I have cut most pasta out of my diet recently and I was going away for a night I wanted to leave a casserole type dish that was all ready to just head into the oven so that when my plane landed I was guaranteed a nice home cooked meal all warm and waiting for me. I decided to try out this italian-y lasagna like creation that used up some of the chicken that I had left over from the previous dinner. With all the layers of ricotta and sauce I don't think that anyone missed the noodles and I suppose it was probably a bit healthier than grabbing something to go at the airport.

Chicken and Zucchini "lasagna"

1 lb roasted chicken breast - meat off the bone and shreded (I used a combo of left overs from a breast and some chicken tenders)
2-4 zucchini sliced the long way thin (about 1/2 cm - try a mandolin for even slices)
1 small container part skim ricotta
1 egg
2 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp grated cheese
salt & pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
2 c sauteed mushrooms (mine were left overs)
2 c pasta sauce (mine was left overs from my last homemade batch)
2 c grated 2% italian blend cheese

1) roast chickens at 350 until done (175F in center) - let cool and then shred
2) salt zucchini slices and place in oven to bake until soft - approx 35 -45 min
3) mix ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, garlic, grated cheese and salt & pepper
4) layer sauce, chicken & mushrooms, italian blend cheese, zucchini, ricotta mix three times
5) top with a layer of sauce and italian blend cheese (you can refrigerate for 2-3 days or freezer here)
6) place in 350F oven for 45 -60 min with foil cover
7) remove foil and cook for additional 15 min or until cheese is browned and bubbly

11/2/09 - Pork Chops and Broccoli

11/1/09 - Roasted Chicken Breasts w Sauteed Mushrooms and Spinach

10/31/09 - Shrimp w Zucchini Noodles and Vegetables

10/30/09 - Sausage, Purple Kale and White Bean Soup

Well the cold is officially here... it seems just like our shorter than average summer (this year was far to rainy to call it a proper summer in my book!) the fall might have a similar fate. While we still have been treated to a few days in the mid 50s we have also had the fun of a few nights that were just around freezing (32). I had a lighter dinner planned for tonight but since the thermometer was falling and I wanted to use up some of our final CSA treats I decided instead to make this soup. I have been seeing varations of it for some time now and was always interested as I love white beans but never actually got to trying my own version. I have seen many people using the crock pot for this as well and since the kale can sometimes benefit from an extended soak I think it would be a great idea. Since I am a bit of a bad blogger.... this post is a week or so overdue and now I can't remember exactly how I started things out... I seem to remember adding some bacon instead of oil to saute the vegetables in so that is how I will write the recipe as even if I am just imagining it up it seems like a great idea!

Chicken Sausage, Kale and White Bean soup

2 slices bacon - diced
10 baby carrots - diced
2 stalks celery - diced
1/2 onion- diced
2 chicken sausages - removed from casing (these were parmesean chicken but any variety would do)
1 box chicken broth
1 med head of kale - rinsed. large stems removed and chopped into ribbons (about 1" x 3")
1 can white northern beans (rinsed and drained)
salt & pepper

1) in a pot add bacon and render fat
2) add kale and about 2 tbsp broth - cover
3) once kale has wilted and is softer - remove from pan
4) add sausage meat and brown
5) add carrots, onions and celery
6) add kale back to pot
7) add beans and remaining broth
8) season to taste w salt & pepper (some crushed red pepper if you like) and let simmer for 30-60 min

10/29/09 Parmesean Crusted Swordfish w Roasted Potatoes and Spinach

Last week I was in Los Angeles (Long Beach to be exact) and it was swordfish season. The restaurant we went to had just about every variation on swordfish but since I am working hard to drop a few lbs before the new year I decided to skip over some of the more exotic dishes in favor of a beatiful but simple blackened swordfish w vegetables on the side. The one dish that had me agonizing however was the Parmesean crusted Swordfish so I decided that it would be on the menu ASAP once I got back. While I don't know that I would consider this "diet" food I am pretty sure it is lighter than the version served in restaurants however its still very tasty. As you might imagine I am not really a big fan of those diets that ask you to eat plain boring food (ie grilled boneless skinless chicken) day in and day out. I served my fish w some oven roasted poatoes (peeled, sliced and then brushed with some olive oil and a bit of salt & pepper) and sauteed spinach.

Parmesean Crusted Swordfish

2 swordfish fillets
1 egg - beaten
1/2 c parmesean cheese
1 tsp parsley
salt & pepper

4 tbsp oil

1) heat oil in a heavy pan
2) brush top side of the swordfish w the egg and sprinkle cheese and seasoning
3) gently flip over and repeat
4) carefully place in pan and allow crust to form - do not move while cooking (about 5 min per side depending on thickness)
5) gently flip over to brown other side by using spatula to slide completely under fish as to maintain parmesean crust
6) serve with a spoonful of marinara sauce and some italian cheese to top

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10/27/09 - Ginger Miso Glazed Tuna w. Soy Parmesean Broccoli

I used a similar glaze on some salmon a few months back and it made such a nice crust I couldn't wait to try it again . This time the flavor was a bit more subtle (unfortunately I think the best part of that glaze was in the brown sugar and I cut that out this time) but it really popped once we added a tiny touch of wasabi paste to heat things up. Next time I will add the wasabi right into the glaze allowing it to penetrate into the tuna.
The idea for the broccoli came to me from a friend who stole it from her (almost) brother in law. Jeremy couldn't place it at first but finally guessed the cheese, obviously we liked the savory taste since there were no left overs on this one! Be mindful of the fish while it tasted delicious I did overcook it a bit and the center was not as rare as I would have liked. Either way this fish was moist and tasty which is all that really matters!

Ginger Miso Glaze
1 tbsp red miso
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1" ginger grated (I use a microplane)
1 tsp reduced sodium soy
(optional: small amount of wasabi - about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp)

1) mix all ingredients together and coat fish using a brush

Soy Parmesan Broccoli
3 heads broccoli - stems cut and chopped into florets
2 tbsp reduced sodium soy
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1) steam broccoli in water until bright green (do not over cook - retain some crisp)
2) toss with soy and cheese

10/26/09 - Boneless Pork w Garlic Green Beans

Since I was in the mood on sunday I got these pork chops (center cut boneless) all marinaded using some of the Cindy's Kitchen Ancho Chipotle Vinaigrette which I love! These were a little thicker than the usual pork chops that I buy and because of that they needed a few extra minutes on the grill pan but the centers were so moist since the outsides were nicely seared.

The green beans are done in an asian style with some soy and garlic to give them a rich taste.

Garlic Green Beans
1 lb green beans - cleaned and ends snapped
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy
2 tbsp sesame seeds
3 cloves garlic - smashed and minced
1 small onion - sliced thin
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp sesame oil

1) Add oil to pan and heat
2) Add sesame seeds, onions and garlic and lightly brown (do not burn) 30 -60 sec total
3) Add beans, stir to coat with oil and let brown slightly - 2 min
4) Add soy sauce and 2 tbsp water - cover and reduce to med
5) Once tender remove from heat and add sesame oil - toss to coat

10/25/09 - Steak w Acorn Squash and Grilled Asparagus

Winter Squash is one of my favorites since you can make it with a touch of sweetness (maple syrup is my favorite way) to really bring out the brightest flavor. Tonight I paired it with a grilled asparagus and probably the best 2 fillet mignon from our entire cut (which is starting to dwindle! time to start looking for that sale again)

This was so easy to make though the squash does need about 35- 45 min in the oven at 350 F. I cut it in half, scooped the seeds and coated it in oil then just stuck it in. Check it after about 30 min to see if it is soft enough. As I mentioned you can also add a little butter, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice while cooking and then serve with some maple syrup to make this a delicious little treat but for tonight I was trying to keep this simple and light.
The asparagus had about 1" cut off each stem and then was tossed in olive oil and seasoning salt was sprinkled all over them. They were grilled (on the famous grill pan) for about 10 min on med and then sauteed on high with an extra tbsp of oil in a hot pan while the steaks cooked. They had some beautiful "grill" marks which reminded me of summer again.

10/20/09 - Asian Vegetable Stir Fry with Chicken and Shrimp

This stir fry was made with a little bit of everything that I had left over. Since I was leaving for a few days on Wednesday I wanted to use up most of the fresh veggies we had. I didn't have a ton of time to make this up but I would recommend marinading the chicken and shrimp as that would really increase the flavor.

The veggies are a blend of red and green bell peppers, onions, scallions, bean sprout and mushrooms. All diced up and stir fried in some oil with a tad of soy sauce added in for some additional flavoring.

Monday, October 26, 2009

10/19/09 - Steak w Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage Sherry Sauce

Because of some advance planning the other day when I was prepping some other foods I was able to have a nice homemade meal tonight! Fresh pasta freezes wonderfully and lets you add a special touch to any pasta dinner. These are made just like normal gnocchi, however the taste of a sweet potato gnocchi is slightly different which is best for wine, herb and cream sauces... not to mention brown butter.

Approx 6 med sweet potato (from the Farmer's Market) made 2 cookie sheets full which was about 2 quart size bags. I finally got my potato ricer so the texture of this dough was much finer than last time and I needed a bit more flour. I used the same recipe idea as here.

The sauce was a little lighter than a standard brown butter as I tried to cut out much of the butter (from 1 stick down to 1-2 tbsp) and used some other flavors to give this a wonderful taste with out being so hard on the waist line!

Sage Sherry Sauce
1-2 pats of butter
1 tbsp wondra flour (or all-purpose)
1/4 c chicken stock
1/4 c golden sherry
2 tbsp fresh sage - diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme

1) In a small sauce pan, melt butter with herbs
2) Add flour to make a roux
3) Slowly add stock and stir to thicken
4) Add sherry and let sauce come to a boil

10/18/09 - Ravioli and Meatballs w Chocolate Lava (less) cakes

So word got out about ravioli making and some repeat guests were quick to pick it up and I couldn't resist making a standard ravioli. It was a lot of fun to make these and some said that the dough was even better this time. I only had 4 eggs and last week the recipe called for 6 for 4 c of flour so this time I improvised a bit so I will have to try that again.

I think that it is sort of neat that one of the last times that I made this sauce I was using frozen ravioli and now I am able to make my own! So much tastier and not really that hard when you have helpers....plus its fun to get creative and have a little design contest.

Pasta Dough
4 eggs - beaten
2 tbsp - olive oil
3+ c flour - stirred to unclump

1) make a large well with the flour
2) add eggs and oil to center of the well and using fork combine
3) knead dough together until a smooth dough
4) coat in olive oil and wrap in plastic - set aside for 1 hr

Small container part skim ricotta
1 egg
1/4 grated cheese
2 tbsp parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

1) combine in a large bowl

To make ravioli
1) roll out 1/6 of the dough at a time from setting 8 until 5
2) lay out dough on floured surface and cut dough into 2" x 4 " rectangles
3) place 1/2 tsp cheese on the center of one side
4) using egg wash (1 egg and 1 tbsp water) moisten all 4 sides and top mixture seal in together and use fork edges to clamp closed.
5) set aside on cookie sheet dusted in cornmeal (you can freeze them at this point or cook immediately)

I tried my hand at lava cup cakes but cooked them too long. This recipe was interesting cause it only had a tiny bit of flour as it was mostly whipped eggs.

From Crazy about Cupcakes

Sunday, October 18, 2009

10/15/09 - Hot Italian Chicken Sausage w Broccoli Rabe

Another easy week-night meal! Sometimes its all about the ingredients that you buy. These delicious (and SPICY!) sausages are from the Paramus Fairway. I love this grocery store because they have such a better selection than a standard grocery store including a lot of "in store" made items that are fresh and delicious and can be a saviour to a home cook with out a lot of time.

Our side dish in this meal - broccoli rabe - can be difficult to prepare at times but when they are done well they are delicious. I use to think that everything cooks better on high heat but after setting the smoke alarm off about 200 times I have noticed that perhaps medium is more appropriate at times. I have tried a few different ways to get this to come out perfectly every time (with out the added step of blanching that many sites seem to recommend to remove bitterness) and it seems like I am getting closer as this time even Jeremy ate all of his. The sausage was cut up into chunks and done on the grill pan (my favorite pan ever! seriously every one needs one to make super fast meals)

Broccoli Rabe
1 bunch broccoli rabe
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 c chicken broth

1) In a wok-pan (looks kinda-like this), heat oil
2) Add garlic reduce to medium and brown
3) Cut 1" or so off the bottom of the rabe and place in the pan
4) Add about 1/2 c broth and place cover on pan - let steam
5) After 5 min or so, toss rabe around and rotate in pan, add remaining broth and re-cover
6) Ensure stems are soft and tender before serving (add more water or broth and cook with cover on if necessary)

10/14/09 - Turkey Chili

Take two on the slow cooker! This week I decided to try a new plan where I used my slow cooker to prep a meal ahead of time so I could just relax after work. I first tried this on Monday, but that didn't really work out.. There was an incident when ingredients needed to be added mid -day an a whole container of rice ended up being added to the pot! But as always try again. I decided to do something simpler which didn't require any additional ingredients just start it up before work and eat when you arrive home. What can be easier than that!

This chili is made with ground turkey but if you want to do ground beef or vegetarian this can easily be adapted. A friend recently turned me on to TVP (textured vegetable protein) and I hear that its great in chili but I am going to save that for a time when I am home to supervise (though I did buy some the other day so I am preparing!)

Turkey Chili
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 red bell pepper- diced
1/2 green bell pepper- diced
1 onion- diced
1 habenero - seeded and minced
4 tomatoes - diced (you can skin these if you are ambitious or use a can if you aren't!)
1 can pinto beans - drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans - drained and rinsed
1 can black beans - drained and rinsed
1 tsp shirachi sauce

4 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp fresh cilantro - diced

1) Place meat in crock pot first then add remaining ingredients - cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8-10 hrs
2) Top with sour cream and cilantro

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saturday 10/10/09 - Chocolate bottom pumpkin cheese cake

I stole this crust from a winter peppermint cheesecake. It was just so delicious and easy that whenever I think cheesecake now its always my go-to! The rest of the cheesecake was thrown together from various internet browsing especially this one. However as always I didn't have many of the ingredients so I just sort of had to wing it. Either way I took the cupcake version of these to a party of about 20 girls and they were a hit. (The ones pictured were made in mini-springform pans and didn't even make it to the end of the night!) I served these with a bit of carmel sauce that was left over from an apple caramel tart I made a few weeks back.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Bottom
1 package chocolate wafer cookies (Nabisco famous wafers) - crushed into crumbs
1 stick butter - melted

3 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (puree not pie!)
3 eggs
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
3 packages cream cheese - room temp

1) Mix wafer crumbs with butter and press into bottom of cupcake papers or springform pan - let rest 1 hour
2) In a Kitchen Aid mixer add remainder of ingredients and mix until combined
3) Pour pumpkin mix on top of crumb crust
4) Place in oven 350 F for 40 min (until toothpick comes up clean)

Friday 10/9/09 - Butternut Squash Raviolis with Lemon Thyme Pork Tenderloine

Last week the inspiration struck to make homemade pasta. Since I might be a bit of an internet junkie I was looking it up on ebay within a minute. I found a good deal on a set of attachments for my Kitchen Aid and bid on it. Later that night I spoke to my mother and she mentioned she an extra "old fashioned" pasta roller. Since my baking and cooking purchases (not to mention food budget) has been a bit over the top recently, I decided that free was better than a good deal so when I lost I decided to let it go. Only a few days later my "new to me" pasta machine arrived and I couldn't wait to try it out. With some friends planning to join us for dinner and some baking it seemed like a perfect idea for a hands-on dinner.
This wasn't a dinner where you got to sit down and relax while I prepared everything myself. I asked each guest to help me with the making of one row of pasta....it ended up being a lot of fun and some people got a little creative. In the end, we ended up with a bit of a competition for oddest shape but no matter what they looked like every one was delicious. The ravioli was served as a starter / side dish for a pork tenderloin that was marinaded in a lemon thyme marinade and then prepared on the grill pan.

The first step in making these ravioli is preparing the squash which needs to be roasted until it is soft enough to mash. You don't want to boil it because that will make it much too moist and wet which can cause the pasta to fall apart when it is assembled. I was lucky enough to have an amazing sous chef at home that was able to do this step for me while I was still at work!

Next you have to make the pasta dough and let it set for an hour or so until it is ready to be rolled out. From here it was fun time! Each friend had to help roll out a hunk of dough and then fill it with the squash mixture. (Thanks to Jema for being an awesome model!)

The finish raviolis were placed on a cookie sheet that had some cornmeal dusted on it and could be frozen at this point. I cooked them up right away but you can always do this in advance and save them for another day.

Butternut Squash Ravioli
4 c flour
6 eggs
1 tsp salt

2 winter squash - peeled, seeded and cubed (I used a butternut and a red suri from the CSA)
2 tbsp oil
salt & pepper
2 tbsp fresh thyme - finely diced
2 tbsp fresh sage - finely diced
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 egg

1) Take the cubes of squash and toss in oil then add some seasoning, place in 350 F oven for 40- 45 min or until soft - set aside until it cools
2) In a Kitchen Aid mixture, add flour, eggs and salt and mix on 2 until it forms a ball, wrap in plastic and set aside for 1 hour.
3) In a large bowl, combine squash, vanilla, herbs and spices
4) Take ball of dough and using a pastrknife cut it into sixths.
5) Stretch one section into a rectangle and roll it out, add a small bit of flour if necessary
6) On the widest setting, roll the dough through the machine, flour
7) Roll dought through again on a lower setting, repeat until thin enough (I used 3-4 passes going down to 4/5 from 8)
8) Cut strip of dough into rectangle and place about 1/2 tsp of filling in center
9) In a small bowl, combine beaten egg with a small amount of water
10) With a small brush wet the edges of the ravioli place the top on
11) Seal the edges with a fork to crimp closed (or use one of those neat little rollers!)

Sage Brown Butter Cream Sauce
1 stick butter
4 tbsp sage - finely diced
4 tbsp fresh grated parmesean
1/2 c heavy cream
salt & pepper

1) Over med heat, add sage to butter until browned (cook on med for 25-40 min or until butter stops foaming and begins to darken)
2) Take off heat and add cream in a slow stream while whisking
3) Once creamy blend is formed whisk in cheese and seasoning

Lemon Thyme Marinade
2 tbsp oil
juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
salt & pepper

Sunday, October 11, 2009

10/7/09 - Veggie Lasagna

Tonight was an interesting night...dinner went from one guest...to two guests...then four...then seven then finally nine (plus our two!) and well our table seats only six. So in a semi-panic we headed to home depot and grabbed a piece of plywood that was 7' x 3.5', then to target for a 102" rectangle table cloth and IKEA for folding chairs. Some how just as the first guest arrived we had a table for 12 all set and ready for a "casual" Wednesday night dinner. The dinner part was easy.... I had made it on Monday night and just needed to toss it in the oven for a warming. I added some garlic bread and a nice big green salad to finish of the night. Dessert was courtesy of one of the guests, which was a welcome addition! A drool worthy chocolate mousse cake that is just too amazing to not mention (and for the record.....the cake plate ended up being licked clean! Not one ounce of mousse went to waste!) ...... however apparently some of us had too good of a time and it seems that pictures of the night are scarce!

Either way I wanted to share this veggie lasagna recipe as it was amazing (and easy!) I took this idea from here. Like my kitchen addiction my CSA also has lots of eggplants and I also do not like them however after 2 years of giving them away I decided to figure something out so I can use them. I love this idea of the lasagna rolls and can't wait to try this but for tonight the simple family favorite layered dish was a lot more my speed.

Vegetable Lasagna
1 eggplant - peeled and cubed
2 zucchini - cubed
1 onion - diced
1 red pepper- diced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 c part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
2 eggs
salt & pepper
1/2 box lasagna noodles
1 large jar Bertolli Vidalia Onion Sauce (or homemade marinara)
2 c shredded mozzarella

1) Coat eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onion in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in 350 oven for 40 min or until soft (toss once during cooking to brown evenly)
2) Boil lasagna noodles in salted water - rinse and toss with a splash of oil once cooked
3) In a large bowl add ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper - stir to combine
4) In an oiled casserole dish layer sauce, noodles, ricotta blend, veggies and mozzarella - three times (or to top of pan)
5) Top with a layer of noodles, sauce and mozzarella (can be covered and frozen or placed in fridge for a few days at this point)
6) Heat oven to 350 F - cover with foil and place lasagna in oven for 35-45 min
7) Remove foil for last 10 min or so to brown cheese

Garlic Bread
1 loaf french bread
10 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter - room temp
1 c mozzarella
salt, pepper and crushed red pepper

1) Place peeled garlic cloves in tin foil with 1 tbsp oil seal packet and roast at 350 F for 20 min (or until soft)
2) Split french bread and butter
3) Mash garlic and spread all over bread
4) Season and top with some olive oil
5) Bake at 350 for 15 min or until brown and crusty
6) Top with cheese and place back in oven until melted (5-10 min)

10/6/09 - Crab Cakes with Cuban Corn

I had a big plan to make some salmon cakes however when I started working with the salmon there was about 20 billion bones and since I was having a guest over and I try not to poison and/or choke anyone I decided to scrap that idea and instead went with the more traditional crab cakes. As I mentioned in last nights post, this is another super fast and easy dinner to make with minimal time investment but maximum yum! I used canned crab meat that I found in the fish section but in the fridge not the actual fish case and I had to say it was perfect for this. I didn't have to deal with shelling any crabs (which would definitely take this dinner from fast and easy to PITA quickly) and they were on sale for $13/lb which was perfect for 9 crab cakes (which fed 3 people)....plus I have an extra can sitting in the fridge for a nice treat in a week or two. The cuban corn was made just like this and came out even better than last time though since we had 6 ears to prep this time we noticed it cooled off fast - so have the ingredients out and ready to roll the ears in and serve it up FAST!

Crab cakes (or salmon cakes)
1 lb "jumbo" lump crab (you can get claw meat for less but it won't be nice big chunks)
2 tbsp cilantro - diced
1 tbsp lemon basil
3 scallions - diced
2 eggs - beaten
1 c breadcrumbs
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp chili
1 tsp old bay
juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp lemon basil
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp chili powder
5 pickle chips - diced

1/2 c veg oil (for frying)

1) Crab with egg, 3/4 c breadcrumbs (reserve 1/4 cup for later), herbs, spices and lime
2) Form cakes (you should get about 9)
3) Place remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and coat both sides of the cakes
4) In a deep pan heat oil - place crab cakes in oil carefully (always away from you) starting at the 12 o'clock position in the pan
5) Flip once browned (about 2-4 min) - again being careful of the oil
6) While they are cooking prep the mayo sauce - mix all of the ingredients tog
ether and salt & pepper to taste (add a squirt of favorite hot sauce or wasabi if you like)
7) Remove cakes from oil and let drain on paper towels
8) Serve with mayo sauce

10/5/09 - Collard Greens and Chicken Sausage

Lately a few friends have come to me and mentioned how they don't have the time to cook some of the meals that I post... and I admit I do sometimes spend more time cooking and prepping than your average home cook (especially one who works full time and travels a 10 days a month for work!). Not ever thing we eat is a 5 course extravaganza so I wanted to make sure that I wasn't skewing my food blog towards the multi-course ridiculousness that does happen on occasion. Some nights I just have stuff from the CSA that needs to be used, no time to go to the grocery store for the millionth time this week, or a trip the next day which mean I should be packing not trying out some new recipe. And tonight was definitely one of those nights.
I had plans for company on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, plus it was a Monday....and no one who works the 9 to 5 enjoys Mondays. I made a simple dinner tonight so that I would have time to prep a veggie lasagna for Wednesday night. This is something simple and pretty healthy that almost anyone can handle. I will admit however I am not really a collard greens fan.... spinach, swiss chard even kale but collards always seem bitter and leafy to me. Bacon helped this dish along so it was decent but I don't think I would ever buy collards on purpose. Another thing that made this dish even easier was adding in some left overs from last night....recycling always speeds things up and help cut down on some of the costs.

Chicken Sausage and Greens
2 chicken sausages (we had some hot italians from fairway...I would stay away from anything too sweet ie apple in this recipe)
1 c black bean "salsa"
1 c bell pepper & onion mix
2" cube thick sliced bacon diced
2 c collard greens (as mentioned not my favorite...try swiss chard instead!)

1) In a med size pot boil water to blanch the greens
2) Heat some bacon over med heat in a larger pan to render the fat out
3) Once the greens have boiled (and turned bright green) remove them from the boiling water (about 3 min) rinse in cold water to shock them and then add to the pan with the bacon
4) Stir the greens every few minutes so they don't burn - place a cover on pan to keep heat in
5) On a hot grill pan- place sausage and turn every 5 min or so until cooked throughout
6) Add bean and pepper mix to greens - stir to combine and heat
7) Once greens are tender and sausage is cooked (no pink or raw in the middle) serve

Sunday, October 4, 2009

10/4/09 - Shrimp and Chicken Fajitas

Today started with some big plans -first some exercise with a long walk then a trip to home depot, food shopping, etc.... then all of a sudden it was 5 pm and it was getting darker and I was still in my pajamas. So another night of plan B's. Jeremy made a quick run to grab some tortilla wraps and salsa while I marinaded and prepped the rest. With fajitas it sometimes seems that the sides really take the stage from spicy guac and refreshing sour cream so I tried to keep the base of this simple. I did a quick marinade and got the meats back into the fridge for a soak while I got my sides prepared. The rest of this meal was a fast prep - peppers and onions thinly sliced then sauteed and a black beans, tomato and red onion side.

1 shallot
1/4 bell pepper - finely diced
1/4 hot pepper - finely diced
4 tbsp cilantro - diced
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp sriracha sauce

Pepper mix
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 small yellow onion
1 tbsp oil

1) Slice peppers and onions thin
2) Heat oil in pan and add peppers and onions - stirring periodically to prevent burning

Black Bean "salsa"
So this is kinda a lame "salsa" (not to mention it was hot) but it was easy, fast and got the flavors I wanted into the dish....
1 can black beans - drained & rinsed
1/2 red onions - finely diced
2 tomatoes - seeded and finely diced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin

1) Add all ingredients to hot pan and mix together

10/3/09 - Classic Lunch...Soup and Grilled Cheese

After getting caught in another downpour (luckily I did have an umbrella) we were wet and cold so soup was a definite for the lunch menu. I didn't want to waste any time making it since we were hungry so I deconstructed this minestrone-ish soup to cook all the ingredients and get them together fast. This only took about 15-20 min from first chop to first slurp. I was thinking of my mothers Pasta Fagioli when I was preparing this but I didn't want to limit myself to the macaroni and bean combo. The "grilled cheese" is actually honey turkey and munster for him/ american for me with a dab on spicy sweet honey mustard.

Speedy Minestrone
1/2 lb elbows (or any smaller pasta shape)
3 diced tomatoes (it would be great if you wanted to peel these but I never bother)
1/2 zucchini - in 1/8" coins cut in half again
1 onion -- diced
1 carrot - in 1/8" coins cut in half again
1/2 yellow bell pepper - diced
1 small red pepper - diced (seeds and membrane removed)
1 rib celery - diced
1 can low sod chicken broth
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp fresh parsley - minced
3 cloves of garlic - minced
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
salt & pepper
grate cheese

optional: 8-10 mini -meatballs - made with normal recipe just in a 1" diameter size

1) Heat salted water and cook pasta according to directions - strain when cooked
2) In a separate pot, heat oil
3) Add onions, celery, peppers and carrot - saute until softened (about 5 min)
4) Add garlic - heat till aromatic
5) Add tomatoes and broth - stir to combine
6) Defrost meatballs (microwave at 50% for about 3 min) and add to soup
7) Allow to come back to a boil - add herbs & seasoning
8) Add pasta to soup - add additional broth or water if more liquid is needed
9) Sprinkle grated cheese over soup and serve

Saturday, October 3, 2009

10/2/09 - Steak w. Cuban Corn, Potatoes and Broccoli

With both of us now sick (I tried to keep this cold to myself I swear!) and the weather cold and rainy, I was excited to not have any plans for once. So as soon as I was out of work I went home for a night of movies and couch time. With some advance thought in mind I removed a bag of steaks from the freezer (from the infamous Fairway trip a month or so ago) and set them to defrosting while I was at work for the day. I had a few things in the fridge from the weeks Farmer's markets run (in the pouring rain!) and our CSA share so this was more of a make do with what you have sort of night than a planned dinner. (Though there was of course a last minute run to the ethnic grocery around the corner for some supplies)

When Jeremy noticed that we had some corn from the CSA he reminisced, as usual, about one of our first dates to Cafe Habana in NYC. He is a corn lover no matter what but the addition of some cheese and spices just takes it to another level for him. Since it is most likely my cold we are sharing I decided that I would attempt to replicate this at home.... and since google is my friend I was happy to see that I am not the only blogger that wouldn't mind making a version of this cheese-y street food at home. I first found this post that was based on the same restaurant we loved. And while I knew there would be grilling of the corn and some cotija cheese I never would have guessed on the mayo. Thank you Ravenous Couple! Next I had to find an idea to "grill" the corn in our apartment since we have no outdoor space so firing up the grill just isn't an option. Apparently we aren't the only New Yorkers to have realized this issue and we found a great substitute method. The rest of the dinner was prepared in the "normal" ways - steaks cooked in my grill pan, potatoes cubed and then boiled and tossed with some sour cream, butter, dill and a sprinkle of chives and the broccoli was steamed and served with a squeeze of lemon.

This recipe is based on a post here: http://ravenouscouple.blogspot.com/2009/05/cubanmexican-grilled-corn.html

I decided to go for the more traditional version using the mayo (but did use a light version as that is all we have in the house). Ok so full disclosure here.... I might have forgotten to sprinkle the corn with some chili powder but it wasn't too bad and next time (ie lunch tomorrow) I am going to make sure to actually get all the ingredients set up and ready since at times I sort of get preoccupied and forget how to actually read a recipe. Jeremy was pretty happy with the results regardless though when pressed he did say it seemed like something was missing....oopps!

Cuban Corn
3 ears of corn - shucked and all silks removed
cast iron pan (no plastic or rubber parts)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp mayo
1 c shredded cotija cheese (try spanish or ethnic grocers)
1 tbsp chili powder
1 lime - cut into sections
3 large wooden skewers

1) Butter all sides of corn and place in cast iron pan under the broiler
2) After about 5 -7 min remove pan - rotate corn a quarter turn, butter and place back in broiler and repeat until all sides have been cooked - some kernels should be browned
3) Remove corn from pan and coat with mayo
4) Sprinkle with cheese and chili powder and top with a squeeze of lime juice
5) Carefully insert stick into base of corn as a holder (use pliers to cut off any excess)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

9/29/09 - Beef & Barley "Soup" (with a whole bunch of veggies)

So its official I am sick... so sick in fact that I had to go home from work today. But since dinner wasn't going to cook itself (wow I am turning into a mother!) I decided to get this heating on the stove so that I could get in a quick nap before everyone else got home for the day. The best thing about making soups is that a little work and a lot of time is all that is needed. I wasn't sure if I should use my large stock pot or my medium size one - I decided on the smaller one but it would have been nice to have a little extra room so I didn't have to really mess with it. This is "soup" is really more of a stew (at least this version of it) I was planning on making some dropped biscuits as well but between the coughing fits and the rich creamy texture I decided to skip them.

Like a lot of the things that I make this is far from a traditional beef & barley cause I couldn't resist adding just about one of every vegetable I had sitting in the fridge (the fact that I was going away the next day also helped that decision along..... most of my meals are based on my travel schedule it seems). But you of course are free to add or omit anything you don't like.

Beef & Barley "soup"
4 cans low sodium beef broth
2 c pearled barley - rinsed
1.5 lb stew beef - cut into bite size chunks (about 3/4" cubes raw)
1/2 bell pepper - diced
1 onion - diced
2 stalks of celery- diced
2 carrots - in 1/8" coins
1 zucchini - in 1/8" coins cut in half
10 mushrooms - sliced
1 tbsp oil
salt & pepper

1) in a large hot pan - brown meat over med/high heat
2) after 3 min stir to flip sides
3) once brown through out remove from pan and set aside
4) add oil to pan (not needed if there are a lot of juices)
5) add carrots, onions, celery and peppers - saute until soft
6) add meat back into pan and add 3-4 cans of broth (until all meat & veg are covered) and barley
7) bring to a simmer and then lower heat to med/low and let cook (covered) for 3-4 hours stirring occasionally
8) about 30 min before serving add mushrooms and zucchini - stir to combine and recover and heat through

FYI - you made need to add more broth or just some water during the cooking as this gets thick fast!

9/28/09 - Mac & Cheese

Well after a hard day at work (coming down with a cold it seems and a ton of things to get done for a 9AM call), a torture session at the salon (trust me you don't even want to know!) and getting caught in a downpour at the grocery store before I was able to get all the ingredients for my beef & barley soup (that's getting postponed till tomorrow...sorry!) so thankfully I had a plan B ready to go...... mmmmm Mac & Cheese even the just saying the name makes me feel all warm and better! Sometimes a simple easy dinner is the best!

I think this batch of mac & cheese is one of the better ones I have made... most likely cause I was a little preoccupied and let the roux brown up a little to remove any of the starchy taste from the flour. I made this recipe with more of a mild adult flavor... I wish I had some bacon to start things up but since I was dependant on what was in my pantry for the night I just went with a basics and a bit of garlic and bread crumbs for an added touch. However you can take this basic recipe and spice it up with meats (ham, bacon, even tuna!), veggies (broccoli, spinach, other leafy greens - just blanch them first!) or spices (hot sauce etc)

Mac & Cheese
1 box elbow or other shape pasta (this was a fun new shape for me but I can't for the life of me remember the name! it was like a lined rigatoni elbow with a twist -ish)
3 c skim milk (or what ever % you use)
1/2 c flour
5 tbsp butter (about 1/2 a stick)
1 c aged gouda - grated
1 c gruyere - grated
1/2 c chedder - grated (I added this in since we had some really nice farm cheese that was in danger ofg going bad!)
1/4 c provolone- grated (this is a sharp one so make sure you like it!)
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

1) in a large pan cook pasta in salted water according to instructions and drain
2) in med sauce pan melt butter over medium heat
3) using a tbsp sprinkle flour into butter and stir until combined
4) let bubble over medium heat until slightly browned (BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BURN!!!!!) - keep watching and stirring! (about 5-10 min)
5) in a glass bowl/ measuring cup heat milk in microwave (or on stove top) for about 5 min or until hot
6) slowly add milk to roux while stirring about 1/4 c at a time and then mix until combined
7) once all milk is added let sauce come to a slow boil and thicken
8) keep stirring so that bottom does not burn and add grated cheese (about 1/2 a cup at a time)
9) season with salt, peppers and garlic powder to taste
10) toss sauce with pasta, stir in bread crumbs for some texture and serve

FYI.... on of the best ways to reheat this is in a frying pan with a splash of milk it will make the sauce nice and creamy again!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

9/27/09 - Homemade Gnocchi with Fresh Tomato Sauce

When I was considering dinners for the other night the idea of a little gnocchi making party appealed to me but in the end I decided that something that was more drinking and less working would be a better option. However I didn't forget about it and tonight I decided to break out the left overs from the 5 lb of potato I bought on Friday and go to it. Making the gnocchi is actually quite easy though it does take a bit of time with the whole boiling and mashing of the potatoes. Once the potatoes were all boiled and soft, Mary and I mashed, mixed and rolled them out in about 30 min or so for 3 full trays (serves 6+).
I will suggest using either a good masher or a ricer (what my grandmother used) as its very hard to get put all the lumps of potato otherwise. I might try using the immersion blender next time but you do have to be careful they don't get gummy. This sauce (diced fresh tomatoes, garlic, oil, parsley, basil, salt and pepper) was just made up from a few things that I had in the house and wasn't anything amazing but it did let the delicate dumplings shine through. You also might notice my love for cheese.... this pasta dish is no exception I like it all ooey-gooey!

Homemade Gnocchi
6 russet potatoes - peeled and cubed
2 eggs - beaten
3-4 c flour
1 tbsp salt

1) Boil potatoes until soft about 35-45 min
2) Mash or rice and let sit until cool enough to handle
3) Make a mound on the counter and for a well in the center
4) Combine egg, potato, salt
5) Add flour until dough is dry enough to work
6) Take about 1/8th of the dough and roll into a long rope (about 1/4" thick)
7) Cut into 1" chunks and roll with thumb to curve or over a fork (there are a few ways to do this -- this video is pretty decent)
8) Place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper (at this point you can freeze them, place in a zip top bag and save for later)
9) To cook, boil salted water and add gnocchi
10) When they float to the top (2-4 min) remove from water and toss with sauce

Saturday, September 26, 2009

9/26/09 - Thai Beef Salad

One of my favorite Thai dishes is the spicy beef salad. I consider a bowl of Tom Yum Goong soup and Thai beef salad to be a perfect lunch. Since the recipe seemed rather easy and I actually had most of the ingredients from when I tried out making the soup I decided to go for it. I used some strange micro baby greens from the farm that looked like weeds but tasted great as the base instead of a traditional salad but use the lettuce you most enjoy.

1 lb flank steak
1/2 c lime juice
1/4 c chopped cilantro
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp thai fish sauce
2 tbsp shirachi sauce
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 red onion - finely sliced
3 tomatoes - quartered
1/2 english cucumber (or seed a normal cucumber) - in thin slices
3 c mixed micro baby greens
2 tbsp chopped mint

1) Combine lime, fish sauce, cilantro, garlic, shirachi sauce and brown sugar
2) Use half of the sauce mix to marinate the steak for 20 min
3) Cook steak on heated grill pan to desired doneness
4) Let cooked meat sit for 5 min
5) For each serving, top 1 c of baby greens with tomato, cucumber and onion slices
6) Slice meat against the grain in long strips
7) Arrange a few strips over each salad and top with 1 tbsp of sauce and a sprinkle of fresh mint

9/25/09 - Duo of Roasted Root Soups

Its been almost a week since I cooked anything but we had plans for the night so I wasn't in a hurry to hit up the supermarket. However as always plans change and instead I ended up having some people over. Since I had noticed leeks in this weeks CSA share and I had some potatoes left over I decided to make a soup (not the mention the recently chilly nights). One thing led to another and all of a sudden I had an official girl's night in the making. I wasn't sure about just serving the soup and I needed a few extras anyways so I did a little internet searching and ended up with more than one idea before I journeyed to the store. (More on the rest of the goodies from this shopping trip later!)

Some how Roasted Potato Leek Soup turned into a dual bowl with a Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. I based the two soups on recipes I had found on the internet but as always there was a few changes since apparently I can't really read directions (and didn't actually get leeks they were really onion stems)! The sweet and savory combo was a big hit with everyone and even the potato haters loved this version of the soup. The soups were served with a nice crusty loaf from our local organic bakery, Made with Love.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup
2 pounds Russet Potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 cups chopped onion stems
3 cloves garlic - sliced in half
1/4 cup good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 to 7 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Provolone
2 tbsp fresh chives - diced

1) Heat oven to 400 F
2) Toss the potatoes, onions and garlic in the oil and season with the salt & pepper
3) Roast in oven 45 min - 1 hour or until very soft - flipping periodically to brown all sides
4) Once softened place in large bowl with 1 cup of broth and use immersion blender to smooth
5) Add mixture to large pot with remaining broth and stir until combined
6) Stir in sour cream and cream - combine and reduce to a simmer
7) Once thickened - top with chives and serve

In this next recipe you are suppose to toss the squash with the brown butter mixture before roasting it but unfortunately I didn't really read this well so I didn't notice that until about 45 min into the roasting so I just added it to the cooked squash instead. It actually came out great and it was no problem at all... though I am excited to try this the correct way next time!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash - peeled and cubed
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh sage
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrot
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup cream
Salt & Pepper
optional - candied ginger to garnish

1) Heat oven to 400 F - toss squash with 2 tbsp oil and season with salt & pepper
2) Cook for 45 min or until soft
3) Heat butter on med until foaming and brown - remove from heat immediately and add sage, sugar, vinegar and the spices to make a paste
4) In a large bowl mix the cooked squash with the brown butter mixture
5) Using an immersion blender smooth the mixture
6) In a large soup pot, heat remaining oil and saute onions and celery until soft and add broth
7) Stir in squash puree and combine - use immersion blender to smooth
8) Reduce to a simmer and add cream and season to taste with salt & pepper

9/23/09 - Tink's Cafe (Cincinnati, OH)

One of the pitfalls of traveling for work is dinner – either you are with a group and its hard to please everyone or you are alone and dining by yourself isn’t much fun either. Luckily I stumbled upon Tink’s Cafe on one of my first visits to Cincinnati after getting a recommendation from a hotel employee.
Tink’s is New American food with a twist of Southern cooking. The menu changes periodically but luckily two of my favorite dishes are house specialties so they remain no matter the season. Before getting into tonight’s menu choices though I have to mention the ambiance at Tink’s – while a casual establishment live jazz really enhances the atmosphere and creates a fun and interesting mood which can save the night if you are with co-workers rather than friends as the music fills in some of the quiet space in between talk of reports and deadlines. The service is also impeccable – never a rushed feeling but your glass is always filled and dirty dishes promptly cleared.

Now onto the menu…. during my two visits there I have to admit I have stayed true to the shrimp and grits – taking it as a starter on my first trip and as my main course tonight. Their version of shrimp and grits has all of the southern charm you would expect in this dish but a added boost of flavor from the Tasso Ham glaze. As with all the dishes the flavor isn’t shy – it comes right out and bites you with a hint of spiciness. However that is just the start as its really multi-layered tastes of the sweet creaminess of the grits, perfectly grilled shrimp and rich spice of the sauce.
Going back to my starter tonight – I enjoyed the Caribbean steak tartare which again layered flavors to make this very enjoyable. The sweet spice that reminded me of a Thai dish combined with the sweet and savory mango salsa and crisp plantain chips made this dish a winner in every way.
However it was my dessert – chocolate creme brulee which will leave me with sweet dreams tonight. After having a version of this years ago at a the Cafe Fluri in Boston (I think?) I finally found it again. Honestly I have searched bakeries and sweet shops high and low looking for this combination of what might be my two favorite things on earth – chocolate and caramelized sugar. The addition of some chili powder gave this desert a kick that prevented it from getting too sickly sweet (which can sometimes turn off even a chocolate lover like me)

Other dishes that were tried tonight were the Diver Scallops (which I enjoyed as my main on my last visit) that looked so lovely on my co-workers plate that I almost was reconsidering and the Hunter’s Chicken which left my other co-worker speechless as he ate every bit of perfectly browned skin and succulent chicken.

I don’t think that I will ever again considering eating in the hotel restaurant when visiting Cincinnati – Tink’s menu is just too good to pass up!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

9/21/09 - Rosh Hashana Leftovers

Since I went a little overboard for Rosh Hashanah Dinner I ended up with a few items left over for dinner on Monday which was lucky since I was leaving for work on Tuesday and didn't feel like shopping. Instead I was able to enjoy my Wild Rice Stuffed Vegetables with a side of Moroccan Meatballs when I wasn't overwhelmed by the brisket and sweet vegetables. Unfortunately the photos of the food were not all taken before everything was served and in the end I had to take this one with a left over! Either way I think the vegetables look fine even though I am missing the eggplant but the meatballs didn't make it at all.... oops maybe next time!

I started these vegetables the night before by cooking the rice so that is was on hand when I was ready to stuff and roast the vegetables. It made everything come together a bit easier.

Wild Rice Stuffed Vegetables
2 c wild blend rice (I like Lundburg Wild Blend)
6 bell peppers of various colors
2 small eggplants
1 med onion
2 celery ribs
2 c baby spinach
1 c multi color raisins
1/2 c pinenuts
1 tbsp oil
1 c vegetable broth
poulty blend herb sprig

1) cook rice using rice cooker - place in large bowl
2) prep peppers by washing, cutting off top 1/4 and removing seeds and ribs, prep eggplant and wash and cut out bowl shaped indent
3) cut stems off pepper tops and dice excess pepper
4) dice onion and celery
5) heat pan with 1 tbsp oil and add diced vegetables - sautee till soft
6) add spinach and wilt with a splash of vegetable broth - add to rice
7) heat remaining oil in small pan and toast pinenuts - careful to not burn
8) add pinenuts and raisins to rice mix and blend together
9) stuff vegetables and place upright in a baking pan
10) add herbs and vegetable broth to bottom of pan, cover with foil and bake at 350 F for 40 min or until soft

Moroccan Meatballs (By Tova's Mom)
5 extra large white onions, sliced into thin strips
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground allspice
kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

For Meatballs
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground chicken or beef
1 egg
1/4 cup crumbs
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons dried chives
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch ground black pepper

2 cups beef broth

1) Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over med-low flame.
2) Add the onions, cumin, curry powder, tumeric and allspice and mix well.
3) Sauté the onions for about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4) Reduce flame to low and cover pot.
5) Stir every minute or two to prevent the onions from sticking to bottom of pot.
6) In a large mixing bowl, add both ground meats, egg, Crumbs, and all the dry spices.
7) Mix well. Shape into meatballs, each one smaller than a golf ball.
8) Remove cover from pot and using a slotted spoon take half of the onions and place into a separate bowl.
9) Place the meatballs gently into pot nestling them into the onions. Place the remaining onions on top to cover the meatballs.
10) Raise the flame to medium-low. Add the Beef Broth.
11) Cover pot and cook for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove cover and stir gently with a wooden spoon.
12) Cook for another 10 minutes or until the broth has reduced to about half.
13) Remove from flame and let cool slightly before serving.

She recommends serving the meatballs over rice but I had them with my stuffed veggies using the excess sauce to moisten up the rice stuffing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday 9/20/09 - Rosh Hashanah Dinner

Sunday dinners were always a tradition in my house but unfortunately since I have moved out on my own I haven't really had a chance to host many big Sunday gatherings. For most people Sunday is recovery day so leaving the house gets difficult, that is unless its for football. I tend to be a little lazy myself on Sundays so this dinner was mostly done in advance so my day was actually pretty easy. I decided to do a mix of Ashkenazi & Sephardic dishes and I cooked most of the vegetable sides separately as we had our regular vegetarian attending.

The Menu:
Pinto Bean dip
Spinach Dip

Apple Butter
Apples & Pomegranate

Tzimmes and Sweet Potatoes
Stuffed Peppers & Eggplant
Moroccan Meatballs

Spinach Kugel

Strawberry Tarte
Caramel Apple Tarte
Chocolate Cherry Rugelach
Fresh Whipped Cream
Vanilla Ice Cream

Some of the things were blends of recipes I found online or made up on my own, the meatballs were from a friend's mom and the Strawberry Tarte is something I learned from my Aunt Sandra so its probably just easier to write my own instructions but they will have to wait for now......

Spinach Dip
This idea came from a Girl's Night Out at Vento. Our table took forever to leave so we ended up with some champagne and spinach dip to ease the time away. The dip was excellent and when we asked what was so different- the waiter spilled the secret was in the Ricotta Cheese so I used that as my model.
2 frozen spinach - thawed in microwave and squeezed dry then diced
14 oz part skim ricotta cheese
4 oz light cream cheese
2 jar marinaded artichoke hearts
1 c Parmesan cheese - grated
6 cloves of roasted garlic- smashed
salt & pepper

1) Using the immersion blender smooth out the artichoke hearts
2) Add cream cheese, ricotta cheese, garlic, spinach, 1/2 c of the Parmesan and salt & pepper to taste - mix to combine
3) Spoon into a oven proof crock and top with the remaining Parmesan and place in oven at 350 F for 15 min or until browned and bubbly

Apple Butter
This is sort of a fast easy cheater version but it tastes great!
2 apples - peeled, cored and diced
1/2 c dark brown sugar - packed
2 tbsp cranberry juice
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1) Add ingredients to sauce pan and cook on med until cooked down - 30-45 min
2) Use immersion blender to smooth out

Rosh Hashanah - Chocolate Cherry Rugelach (finally!)

So this recipe was attempted for the first time last year for Yom Kippur which was my first High Holiday ever (Izzy's Mama was a big help by giving me all her tried and true as my welcome to Jewish holidays). Unfortunately they didn't really come out as I expected. They ended up being a bit messy - some unrolled, some burned, some overstuffed and dripping carmelized jam - not terrible tasting but certainly not pretty. So this year I was determined to get them done right. However that is easier said than done and to be honest out of the 6 trays I made (3 recipes) I am really only 50/50 which isn't good odds. All of my Jewish friends said that rugelach is something that is best bought and not attempted at home but if you know anything about me that just makes me want to make them even more!
My major issue seemed to be that I was overstuffing these and not really cutting them correctly which lead to the little rolls busting open and spilling all the jammy goodness all over (which then burns). My first batch came out similar to last year and so I had to try for another shot at these later in the week.
I ended up finally getting this right on thursday after switching up my jams (try to find one without any chunks of fruit), lowering my oven temp (350 F) and shortening the cooking time (30 min). These cookies are definitely best when they are just barely browned off so don't cook them too long or else they get crunchy instead of light and flakey.

I also ended up rolling the dough into 2 large rectangles instead of a round and making large triangle shapes (similar to what pre-made cresent rolls in the can look like). I also placed just a few dried cherries and chocolate chips on the wide side of each so that I was able to roll them easily.

original recipe from: http://www.izzyeats.com/2007/09/must-stop-eating-these.html

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons cherry preserves (Polaner all fruit works well)
8 tablespoons dried tart cherries
8 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/3 cup (about) whipping cream

1) Preparation for dough by all ingredients to mixer (I used a kitchen aid with the paddle, hand mixers are too weak but the original recommends a food processor but unfortunately I don't have one....yet!) and blend together until it begins to clump together.
2) Gather dough into ball.
3) Divide dough into 2 and roll out each between wax paper into a large rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4" thick and refridgerate 30 min or more
4) Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
5) Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.
6) Take the dough from the fridge, peel off the wax paper and dust with powdered sugar if it is sticky.
7) Spread 3 tablespoons cherry preserves over dough, leaving 1-inch border and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar.
8) Trim into triangles and place a few chocolate chips and cherries on the wide edge.
9) Starting at wide end of each wedge, roll up tightly.
10) Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart
11) Place baking sheet in freezer 30 minutes.
12) Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.
13) Brush cookies lightly with whipping cream. Bake frozen cookies until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.