Saturday, March 19, 2011

Flexitarian (Chicken) Pot Pies

Most readers of this blog know that I have a very diverse group of eaters that visit me pretty regularly. When I learned the other night that a friend who was joining us for dinner was a vegetarian, my thoughts of a lovely roasted pork tenderloin stuffed with all sorts of goodies faded away. He swore that he would be fine with salad and a side dish but that didn't sit well with me.... back to the drawing board! I have owned Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties! cookbook for a while now and even though her recipes are delicious (and relatively easy) I don't think that I have ever actually taken more than a glance at the whole book (sadly this happens to a lot of my cookbooks). The last page in the book has a menu for a fireside dinner.... while we do have a fire place it is decorative (and probably hasn't been used in about 50 years!) but this menu gave me some wonderful inspiration!

My ideal dinner for company is a flexitarian one - where I can customize for meat eaters and veggies without having the stress of two separate dishes. This means that no one gets left out and stuck eating salad and no one has to feel "cheated" by leaving out the meat (though there are many hearty veggie friendly ideas out there). Chicken Pot Pies actually were very east to "flex".... with a few changes to the traditional gravy that is used in the pie (I substituted a creamy sauce for gravy) all I needed to do was to add the chicken to the mix after serving up my veggie friends. This dinner is perfect for the fireside or just a delicious dinner that is easy to freeze and can easily be made in bulk so that you have a left over pie for later. I recommend preparing the roasted chickens and pie crust in advance (ie the night before) unless you have a few hours to spend on this meal.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tomato Mozz and Basil appetizer

There are a million recipes for this classic Caprese salad. But there is a reason for that, at their best there is nothing more that you need than this perfect bite of fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil. Here in the New York area spring is starting to creep in - I saw my first tree buds and flowers yesterday- but freshly grown tomatoes are still many months away. Luckily, we have been able to maintain our herbs all winter long (well fingers crossed!). I wish that I could take credit for this but my thumb is definitely not green...basic Pothos type plants are really all I can handle. Luckily, my boyfriend is quite good at keeping our little garden alive.

This winter we have shared our basil fresh bites of summer by bringing this dish to a few friends parties - a welcome addition to the usual chips and dips. We dressed them simply with sprinkle of salt and pepper and a swirl of aged balsamic vinegar and good olive oil. Like most others I think I am going a bit spring crazy with the nice temperatures over the weekend.... so here it is my ode to warmer days!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

VIDEO POST! Pan Roasted Chicken with Ratatouille Sauce

It has been really fun using my new Flip Camera to record recipes. And so far I have gotten some great feed back...and even had a friend make something new because of my video! They say a picture says a thousand words - so what about a video? I know that personally I often look up videos of new cooking techniques because so many of us are visual learners. This recipe really turned out amazing. As I say in the video its fast, easy and really is perfect for company as it makes a great presentation. Don't be afraid of the hard to spell French name - Ratatouille is a wonderful vegetable dish that is a perfect recipe to have when your summer garden is making you see green (zucchini that is!)

I used two Newman's Own products in this recipe - Family Recipe Italian Dressing as a marinade for the chicken and Cabernet Marinara as part of the ratatouille. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts as I find them much more flavorful than the standard boneless, skinless chicken breast. However, if you wanted to serve this with on the bone chicken breasts I think that would be a great option as well. Also feel free to serve this over brown rice, another type of pasta or even something more exciting like quinoa or couscous!

Click the link for the full recipe and instructions

VIDEO POST! Flexitarian Pasta Bakes

Well I am not really one for following directions so here is a bonus video from my experiment this weekend. I was asked to make a short (<5 min) video that featured Newman's Own products in a quick recipe (<30 min) and what did I do? Well I picked a recipe that had to cook in the oven after you prepped 4 or 5 different ingredients.... and I took over 10 min explaining it!  I was able to trim it down a little and I must say that they were absolutely delicious. While I don't think that I can call it a quick dinner for after work definitely find the time to make these individual pasta bakes. They freeze wonderfully and are perfect to have on hand when you want something homemade but don't have the time to make it right now.

Dinners like this are a favorite in my house because while we eat meat (or rather everything) we have lots of vegetarian friends.... so I try to make food that is adaptable to different eaters. This is the perfect dish to make double of and save one for a "rainy" day. Oh and for the record it should take you about 20 min to prep all the ingredients and then you just need to let them bake for about 20-30 min so dinner will be on the table in less than an hour!

Click the link to get the full ingredient and recipe

Friday, March 11, 2011

VIDEO POST! Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Chimichurri Sauce

Hello Readers......

something about this post is not like the others..... one of these things is not the same! We have stepped into the 21st Century and now have video... thanks so much to Newman's Own and Foodbuzz for sending me this amazing Flip video camera. In the next few days we will be posting some of our videos on the blog. Because I still am learning some of these videos are not exactly perfect (editing is harder than it looks!) but they should help you master some new techniques in a new way. So far the feedback is great, my friends and family love the new style and we hope to bring you a new video post every few weeks after we get the initial 4 videos up. We have already had a request on cooking a whole chicken and making a baked good. I would also like to do a seafood dish but please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments. If there are recipes already on Carla's Tasty Treats that you would like to see in video form we just might be able to help!

Thanks again

Please click through if you would like to see the complete recipe written out

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Eggs Benedict vs Bacon, Egg and Cheese.... why choose when you can have both?

The ultimate brunch food is Eggs Benedict....soft, gooey soft boiled eggs with a creamy, rich Hollandaise Sauce. This is the perfect mix of decadence and simplicity. Poached eggs can sometimes be difficult to make at home but they don't need to be! If you add just a splash of white vinegar to the water when poaching the eggs they come out perfect every time - no need for crazy stirring or special containers. This time I skipped the lux Hollandaise sauce and stuck to a simple preparation that was just as satisfying (while saving quite a few calories).

This Poached Egg is served on top of a toasted round of wheat bread with some pepper jack cheese, slices of thick cut bacon and a perfectly cooked egg.... with a yolk ready that is ready to spill out with just the lightest touch of your fork! Just a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper tops it off for the perfect breakfast treat in only 5 minutes.