Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lightened Up Cassoulet

Traditionally a French dish, cassoulets use a variety of rich meats to flavor a baked bean dish. This rustic dish is like many other baked bean dishes made around Europe - there are as many recipes as there are grandmothers out there! This dish is simple and easy to make - don't be scared by the long ingredient list. It works wonderfully as a lazy Sunday afternoon project when you have time to sit and wait for the flavors to combine perfectly. This will also work for slow cookers - so feel free to prep it in advance and come home to a delicious hot meal.

Generally, very rich meats like goose or duck are used as the main ingredient with additions of pork sausage and bacon to give flavor to the white beans. I decided to lighten my dish up by using chicken thighs and chicken andouille sausage. I do think that a bit of bacon would have been an excellent addition lending some of the smokey flavor that bacon is famous for to the dish. I also strayed from the original by using a mixture of red kidney beans and white cannellini beans which was more a decision based on my pantry supplies than tastes. I also didn't have any onions in my house...but I added some shallots to compensate.

Click through for the recipe! 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Homemade Oreo Cookies

This recipe has somewhat be haunting me. Growing up there was really few true "junk foods" in our house, my mom always had a soft spot for potato chips and my dad loves his Oreos. Until recently I really didn't care for potato chips (my boyfriends addiction and their ever presence in my home has changed that a little!) but I have always enjoyed an Oreo. My normal eating habits tend to avoid processed food like Oreos now but I do sometimes get samples from my work of the Oreo Cakesters and I couldn't stop thinking of them. I decided that a dinner I was holding was the perfect chance to try them out (and then hand them out!) without totally killing my NYE resolution (its still Jan I have to give it at least a month!).

I took my recipe from smitten kitchen and as always they were delicious! However the cookies were not really like oreos and the batter was very grainy because of the sugar. I don't know if I did something wrong or this is just the way they are suppose to be. I have to admit... I don't remember if I put in 1c or 1.5c that was in the original recipe but I would suggest using less as they were very sweet. These cookies were made after quite a bit of glogg was consumed so I do have an excuse. Also I did not have the vegetable shortening so I used all butter - the frosting worked out perfectly fine.  These cookies were a serious hit at my party and the review on smitten kitchen mention a version with a bit of peppermint and candy cane that sounds divine. As is they were so good that I secretly hid a few of these cookies pre-party because they were flying off the plate so quickly - definitely go for a double batch!

Keep reading for the recipe....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Crab Fra Diavolo?

Shrimp Fra Diavalo is an easy dish that is found on countless "red sauce" Italian restaurants all over America - though most people say that it is not something normally found in Italy. Either way the combo of seafood with spicy crushed red pepper in a fast and easy tomato sauce makes this a perfect weeknight meal as it can be made quickly and after work those minutes count! I decided to skip the shrimp tonight and go with lump crabmeat.

I used a can of  pre-cleaned crab meat however if you are feeling adventurous you can always get your own crab and clean out the meat yourself. Or class the dish up with the addition of lobster or scallops instead of the crab.  The sauce takes about as long as it does for the pasta to cook so get your water starting to boil and then begin to assemble the sauce. The next question is to cheese or not to cheese. Traditionally fish pasta dishes do not take the usual sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese however I can't resist the unami taste and usually go light but need a little something!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crispy Asian Chicken

Need to get some dinner on the table and you have nothing in the fridge? Try this Asian style chicken that uses cubed boneless skinless chicken breasts and left over rice from Chinese Take-out. I know its January and I should be knee deep into my New Year's resolution to exercise, eat healthy, lose weight - the list goes on.  Instead I have a recipe that calls for you to bread and fry chicken...and a side of carbs? I must be crazy.... either that or I still haven't gone food shopping!

Well the truth of it is both! Even if you are following that new diet this is a great recipe to keep in your back pocket...just in case. You could even eat it on top of a nice green salad instead of the bed of brown rice. Oh and while you are at it - go grab one of those frozen bags of Asian Stir Fry veggies.... you never know when you might need it! That one little bag of veggies would have made this rice a lot more interesting....

Crispy Asian Chicken
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast - cut into 1.5" cubes
3 c flour
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp Chinese 5 spice blend
olive oil

1) Blend spices and flour together and place in a zip top baggie
2) Rinse chicken and then pat dry
3) Drop into baggie and coat completely with flour blend
4) In a large frying pan, heat approx 2" of oil at med /high for 7 min or until hot
5) Carefully place chicken into hot oil - in a single layer (do not over crowd pan - you may need to make 2 batches!)
6) Using tong flip each piece over once brown and crusty (approx 3-5 min)
7) Remove from frying pan and pat dry on paper towel


Monday, January 3, 2011

Baby Lamb Chops

They are just so irresistible. Baby Lamb Chops just are decadent, delicious and oh so savory. This fast cook just needs a herb rub before a quick sear and then a few minutes warming in the oven at 350 F.  They make a great little appetizer or first course.....