A sensationally scandalous salad

>> Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Waldorf Chicken Salad, though its origin has been questioned, is in my opinion one of the best salads ever created. A marathon of a recipe, you bet. Will I make it ever again after the 2.5 hours I devoted to this salad, well I'm not so sure. The original recipe calls for 28 ingredients but this version was only about half that. The still extensive ingredient list calls for:

2 chicken breast halves on the bone with skin
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup walnut halves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
2 Fuji apples, cored and thinly sliced
5 ounces mesclun salad greens
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons snipped chives

1. Make 3 deep slashes in each chicken breast. In a small bowl, mash the garlic, fennel, 2tablespoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the oil. Rub the mixture all over the chicken and into the slashes. Transfer to a small roasting pan, cover and let stand for 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for 10 minutes, until browned and fragrant. Let cool.

3. Roast the chicken for about 40 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool slightly, then discard the skin and thinly slice the meat. (It is so tender and juicy!)

4. In a food processor, blend the vinegar with the mustard and the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Blend with cheese and buttermilk. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.

5. In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the walnuts, grapes, apples, celery, mesclun, parsley, tarragon and chives. Add the dressing, toss and serve.

This salad was delicious but it just took too dang long to make! Next time I crave a Waldorf Chicken Salad, I think I will just scoot over to Nordstroms where I know it is delicious, and served in about 20 minutes!


Ravioli with walnuts and apples

>> Monday, September 28, 2009

With all the great Monday night TV on... the COWBOYS game and yes the mindless laughs derived from CBS shows like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory... I decided to take it easy in the kitchen. I pulled together a quick dish straight from the pages of Real Simple Magazine. Ravioli with walnuts and apples takes only about 10 minutes to pull together and is completely delicious.

All you need for tonight's meal:

Pre-prepared cheese ravioli (I love the organic boxed ravioli from Whole Foods)
One red apple
Grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Cracked pepper
Cook the ravioli according to package directions.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet and add in the walnuts (roughly chopped). Stirring continually (you want to keep an eye on these nuts to they don't burn) for about 5 minutes. While the walnuts are cooking, cut the apple into matchstick pieces and toss into the walnut mixture. Top off with a half cup of chopped parsley, add salt and pepper.

Drain the ravioli and add into the walnut/apple mixture and lightly toss. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve up.

See, quick and easy! Enjoy your night!



>> Sunday, September 27, 2009

When planning appetizers, you want to consider your audience. You definitely want a few items that have substance and are meat based, but, you also want to pull in cheeses, dips and plant based varieties. This particular dish comes from one of my favorite coworkers, Sandy, who lives in Santa Barbara. Sandy got the recipe from her college roommate, who got it from a guy she works with. He calls it simply "Balls." These are meatballs, but not the kind that call for red sauce and sit atop a pile of pasta. They are delectable just on their own. Recipe makes about 6 billiard-sized balls.

1 1/2 lbs ground chicken (ground turkey is OK, but chicken is even better)
Diced red pepper
Chopped pitted kalamata olives
Chopped fresh parsley
Chopped garlic
Chopped onion
Crumbled feta
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
Italian-style bread crumbs

Mix first 7 ingredients together and form into billiard-sized balls. Note that there are no specific amounts (other than the chicken)-- the other ingredients can be adjusted to your taste, but know that the olives and the feta are KEY! Dip balls into beaten egg and roll in bread crumbs. Heat 1/4" olive oil in a large skillet and brown, no more than 20 minutes. Drain balls on paper towel, then transfer to a plate and and squeeze lemon juice over them. No sauce needed. Just serve with sides like veggies, potato, salad.

The balls are terrific so I recommend you try them too!


Ciabatta Caprese Sandwich

Tired of turkey and cheese? No more PB&J? Here's a quick post of inspiration for a different kind of sandwich. Ciabatta bread is delicious on its own but when you add caprese, it's just divine. All you need is ciabatta bread, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil and vinegar.

Slice your ciabatta bread and cut open face
Slice a tomato and layer on the bottom half of the bread
Slice mozzarella cheese (hint: wet the knife)
Snip a few leaves of fresh basil to top mozzarella
Drizzle with a tad of vinegar and cap with ciabatta top

That's it! Ciao!


A short order breakfast made to order

After waking up entirely too early after a late night (for me anyways), I first went for my coffee, then for breakfast. Its a gorgeous day so I took my coffee in my outdoor living room. This time of year is perfect for curling up on the sofa enjoying my backyard. For those of you who haven't been to my home, I converted a covered carport into the most amazing little living room, complete with a sofa, chairs and coffee table and twinkling lights for nighttime ambiance. So, after hanging outside for an hour or so I started on breakfast. A short order breakfast made to order... I whipped up hashed potatoes and eggs over easy. Adding a side of cottage cheese rounded out the dish.

By Sunday I am running low on groceries so this dish consisted of very few ingredients.

One large brown egg
(I have learned that they are brown because they come from brown chickens which Mr. Breakfast verified for me this morning http://www.mrbreakfast.com/ask.asp?askid=23)
One Yukon gold potato
One leek
Cottage cheese
Cracked pepper

To prep, prepare the potato first. Julian first then dice cross wise. Slice the leek (remember with leeks, only use the white and light green portion of the stalk). Salt and pepper. In a large skillet, melt butter and add in potato and leek. Stir, flip, smash, and scoop (I realize I am being highly technical with this technique) until cooked through and slightly browned.

As the potatoes are nearing completion, melt a small amount of butter in a small skillet. Crack your egg and let cook undisturbed for about a minute. Ever so gently, slide a spatula under the egg and quickly flip over. Cook for another 30 seconds or so.

Plate your potatoes, egg and cottage cheese and enjoy! I'm ready for a nap!


Spinach omelet with feta

>> Saturday, September 26, 2009

There's nothing I love more than cooking in the morning before settling in for a little college football while puttering around cleaning my house. On this beautiful morning with all my doors standing wide open taking in the day, I decided to pull together a spinach omelet with potatoes and cherry tomatoes topped off with crumbled feta cheese. Omelets are really simple to whip up and when you add in veggies, they are healthy and delicious.

From the fridge and freezer I pulled:

Large brown eggs
Spinach (chopped)
Green onions (chopped)
Potatoes (cut into large pieces)
Leeks (chopped)
Crumbled feta cheese
Fresh and dried oregano
Cracked pepper
Olive oil

In a bowl, combine eggs and cream and whip with a fork until the eggs are broken down.

In a small skillet heat a bit of olive oil and butter and add in potatoes. Toss in the leeks, stir and season with salt, cracked pepper and dried oregano. Cover and let cook over medium heat, stirring periodically.

In a large skillet, briefly cook the spinach and green onions until wilted. Add in egg mixture to coat the veggies. Crack pepper and salt over top and let cook for a couple of minutes, tending to the bottom of the omelet with a spatula. As the omelet thickens, add feta cheese to top of the mixture. Slide your spatula under half the omelet and carefully but quickly fold in half, encasing the delicious feta cheese. Let the omelet cook for a few more minutes, turning over periodically to ensure it is cooking evenly on both sides.

Pull your omelet from the heat and transfer to a plate. Pair with the potatoes and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle feta cheese around the plate and top the potatoes with fresh oregano.

What a great way to start the day! Bon appetit!


Ginger broccoli chicken with plums

>> Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My dinner creation from tonight trumps the deliciousness I periodically pick up from Pei Wei. Spicy but sweet, tender and juicy, my dinner exceeded all expectations.

To create this simple meal for yourself you will need:

Chicken (2 breasts)
Broccoli (chopped florets)
Plums (3)
Ginger root
White onion
Soy sauce

To make the sauce, dice scallions, leeks, onion and ginger root. Place in food processor and add soy sauce and chop thoroughly.

In a large skillet, heat the ginger sauce and add in cubed chicken breast. Stir and let cook.

In a smaller skillet, cook broccoli with remaining onion covered until heated through. Add broccoli to the ginger chicken skillet, stir and let cook together.

In the small skillet, cook diced plums until heated through and add to the large skillet.

Serve in a bowl and enjoy (with chopsticks if you are so brave)!


Beef tenderloin with dill - a grown up hors d'ouvre

>> Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tonight's meal grew out of one of my staple entertaining hor d'oeuvres - beef tenderloin with mustard and dill. Normally, it is served in bite size pieces layered on bottom with a baguette, followed by gourmet mustard, then beef tenderloin and topped off with dill. Delicious as it may be on a baguette, I decided to graduate into a full sized portion and make a meal of it.

I started off with a prime cut of beef tenderloin fillet, butterflied. Next, I mixed up a mustard sauce by mixing a spoon full of gourmet, semi-spicy, mustard with a spoon full of mayonnaise. Mixed together with a dash of salt and cracked pepper, the sauce was perfect for coating the steak before going onto the stove top. I realize, I am addicted to my skillet.

With my steak gleefully cooking away on the stove, I started my sides which I admit, I cheated a little bit. Boxed couscous which is ready in 5 minutes. I love it though so no apologies from me on that one.

In addition to couscous, I attempted to make eggplant which I don't believe I had ever had before. I resorted to The Joy of Cooking to figure out how best to cook this large purple oddity. Ever so delicately, I sliced the fleshy vegetable, which is often substituted for meat I learned. Cooking the eggplant in a touch of oil (just like the good book said) I started to wonder if I had made a wise choice during my adventure at Whole Foods on Sunday. As it turns out, I am not really a fan of eggplant but at least I know that now.

Once my steak was perfectly medium done and the couscous was fluffed, I plated the meal and topped off with a drizzle of mustard sauce. Adding an ornament of dill atop the steak, it was complete! While I don't recommend eggplant, mustard sauce and dill paired with a fine cut of beef has never let me down. No matter how big the portions.


Coconut crusted halibut

>> Monday, September 21, 2009

Tonight I decided to experiment with creating a sauce to marinate my halibut in before I encrusted it in a fine coconut and lightly fried up to perfection. Good idea? Absolutely! So, here goes.

For the first part of the recipe you need:

Halibut (1 pound)
Cilantro (chopped)
Scallions (chopped)
Leeks (chopped)
Cream (1/2 cup)
Egg (1)

In a food processor, combine the above ingredients and mix well. Pour into a large bowl. Bathe the halibut in your sauce mixture and let it marinate.

For the second part of the recipe, you need:

Finely shredded coconut
Cracked pepper

On a plate, combine flour, coconut salt and pepper. Remove your halibut from the marinade and coat lightly in the coconut mixture.

In a large heavy skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add in halibut and cook, turning every 2 to 3 minutes. If there is a skin on the halibut, remove when it comes loose from cooking.

For a side, I paired the halibut with fresh soy beans. In a small skillet, heat the soy beans in a spot of olive oil.

In a small sauce pan, heat the remaining sauce you made earlier until it just thickens.

Remove all pans from the heat. Plate the soy beans and top with halibut. Add a dollop of the sauce atop the halibut. Enjoy!


Tuna farfalle with navy beans

>> Sunday, September 20, 2009

For lunch, I brewed up a quick tuna farfalle pasta with navy beans and cherry tomatoes. This pantry dish never goes out of style and gets you through the day when you've run out of groceries.

Ingredients are:

Canned tuna fish
Canned navy beans (unsalted, organic)
Farfalle pasta
Fresh oregano (chopped)
Cherry tomatoes
Fresh Parmesan cheese (shredded)
Slivered almonds
Olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper

Cook your pasta according to box directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add in tuna fish, navy beans, salt and pepper. Stirring occasionally until heated.

When pasta is cooked through, drain, reserving 1/4 cup of water. Return to pot and add in tuna and navy bean mixture. Toss the pasta and add in oregano. Stirring, add in the preserved water, Parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and you're done!

Serve up with your favorite crackers and enjoy!


Pear and apricot breakfast puffs

For breakfast on this (finally) sunny Sunday, I whipped up a ravioli-like breakfast that was the perfect compliment to my morning. Light, fresh and fruity, the pear and apricot breakfast puff will surely be a morning favorite in my house.

Taking advantage of ingredients I already had on hand, the puffs were pretty simple to pull together. All you need to create and enjoy pear and apricot breakfast puffs for yourself is:

Pear (1, chopped into small pieces)
Dried apricots (small handful, chopped into small pieces)
Stick butter (1 tbsp)
Puff pastry sheet (thawed)
Light rum

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a cutting board or counter top, sprinkle a light coat of flour to coat the surface. Lay the puff pastry out and let thaw. After thawed, use a small circular cookie cutter to make identical circles of pastry from entire sheet. Make sure they are lightly floured on each side and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat butter. Add in chopped pears and apricots and stir, coating the fruit in butter. Let simmer for two minutes. Add in a splash of light rum and sprinkle with flour thicken the mixture. Top off with a dash of cinnamon and allspice, stir and continue simmering for a few minutes then remove from heat.

To assemble the puffs you will need two circles per puff and the fruit filling. Working on your floured surface, spoon a small amount of fruit filling, making sure you get a mixture of both pear and apricot, onto the bottom pastry circle. Don't overfill. Take another pastry circle and place on top of the filling and press the edges down to the bottom pastry to create a seal. Place the pastry puff on a buttered or greased baking pan and repeat until you have used all the pastry circles.

With your puffs assembled, brush each top with light rum, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

While your puffs are baking, continue heating any remaining mixture in the skillet over low heat to serve up later.

When your puffs are done baking, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Plate your puffs and any remaining pear and apricot mixture. Enjoy!


Pasta with sweet potatoes and ricotta cheese

>> Thursday, September 17, 2009

After starting my day at 4:45 am to host an event for 400 people, I was in need of a breezy easy meal choice for my down time. I dipped into my favorite magazine's, Real Simple, recipes for the perfect really simple meal. Pasta with sweet potatoes and ricotta cheese is a great new addition to my personal database of the quick and easy.

To make this dish you will need:

Sweet potatoes (2, cut into 1 inch pieces)
Ricotta cheese
Fresh rosemary (1 tbsp finely chopped)
Green peppers (1/4 cup finely chopped)
Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup finely grated)
Fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil (2 tbsp)

In a large pot, cook your pasta according to package directions.

While your pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet and add sweet potatoes. Add salt and pepper, and stir. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.

Add in green peppers and rosemary, stir and cook for an additional 3 minutes uncovered.

When pasta is finished cooking, remove from heat and drain, preserving 1/4 cup water.

Mix in the potato mixture with the pasta and toss. Add preserved water back in and add Parmesan cheese. Toss one more time then plate. Top off with two dollops of ricotta cheese and enjoy!


Brussel sprouts and apricots make a great pair

>> Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brussel sprouts get a bad wrap but I happen to think they are pretty great -- especially when paired with apricots. For dinner tonight I prepared pork chops with a side of brussel sprouts with apricots. A simple, but delicious dish that can be whipped up in about 20 minutes.

What you will need:

Pork chops
Brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
Dried apricots, chopped
Slivered almonds
Cracked pepper
Olive oil

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and place pork chops in to cook. Salt, pepper and cover. Let cook over medium heat, turning over every few minutes, for about 12 minutes.

While the pork chops are cooking, heat another tablespoon in a medium skillet. Add brussel sprouts, apricots and a sprinkling of almonds, then salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until soft.

Remove pork chops from the heat and let rest for a couple of minutes prior to cutting. Serve up your plate and enjoy!


Homemade chicken pot pie -- mmm mmm good

>> Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ok, this has got to be the most delicious chicken pot pie ever. Chicken pot pie is typically my "sick food". You know, the food that always makes you feel better, no matter what. Tonight I had a hankering for one, even though I feel great, so rather than running to Boston Market I decided to make my own.

The ingredients are pretty simple but it does take about 45 minutes so if you are starving for food ASAP... this may not be the way to go.

Ingredients you will need to experience this amazing dish:

Large chicken breast (1)

Olive oil (3 tablespoons)

Leek, cut into half moons (1)

Carrots, diced (2)

Green onions, diced (just a handful)

Flour (3 tablespoons)

Dry white wine (1/2 cup)

Whole milk or heavy cream (1 cup)

Fresh parsley (1/2 cup, chopped)

Frozen puff pastery, thawed (1 sheet)

On your counter or cutting board, spread a light coat of flour and lay out your frozen pastery to thaw (30 minutes).

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss your chicken breast in a small baking dish, sprinkle with a dash of salt and fresh cracked pepper and add a smidge of olive oil to keep it tender while baking. Put in the oven to bake for approximately 15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and add leeks, carrots and green onions. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally (5 or so minutes). Add the flour and cook for one minute. Stir in wine, milk or cream, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoons pepper. Simmer until thick (2-3 minutes).

While simmering, remove chicken from oven and slice into small pieces and add to the sauce mixture along with the parsley.

Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish or individual ramekins. Lay the thawed pastery on top, trim around edges to fit your dish and cut vents on top. Bake until the mixture is bubbling and the pastery is golden brown (15 or so minutes).

Enjoy! It's delicious!


Old fashioned comfort food

>> Monday, September 14, 2009

After missing lunch due to an untimely conference call, this rainy Monday called for some good old fashioned comfort food. Starving when I arrived home from the office, I immediately headed to the kitchen and threw on my apron.

The menu took shape with a delicious beef tenderloin, yukon gold potatoes which would soon turn into the most delectible mashed potatoes, sweet yellow onions and fresh snapped green beans.

First things first, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees to get started on the beef tenderloin. This is the easy part. In a small baking dish, pour a little extra virgin olive oil in the bottom (just enough to coat your beef) and roll the beef tenderloin in oil until evenly coated. Coat the top of the tenderloin with fresh cracked pepper and gound sea salt. Put in the oven for 25 minutes.

Next, the potatoes. In a medium pot, bring just enough water to cover your potatoes to a boil. Cut your potatoes into large pieces and add to the boiling water. Boil for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are nice and tender. You want to make sure the centers are soft.

While your meat and potatoes are cooking, slice up one yellow onion into strings, cut one bunch of green onions (scallions) into small pieces and grab your green beans, cutting or snapping the ends.

In a small skillet, saute your sweet yellow onions in a dab of butter and toss in a little sugar (because why not). You never knew onions could be so delicious! As these simmer and cook down to a rich golden color, add your green beans to the mix to cook together.

Checking in on your potatoes, pull out a medium sized mixing bowl, heavy cream or whole milk and butter. As soon as your potatoes are ready, pull from the boiling water and toss in the bowl. Add in butter (about 2 tablespoons) and milk or cream (about 1/4 cup to start). With blender, mix the potatoes until creamy, adding in milk or cream as needed. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper and a handful of green onions. Blend together and set aside.

Remove the beef from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes before you cut into the tenderloin.

Plate your food and enjoy!


Spinach salmon salad with pear and ricotta cheese

>> Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tonight's simple pleasure was derived from a fresh spinach salad topped with salmon, pear and ricotta cheese.

To achieve this delicious and healthy meal simply wash and tear the fresh spinach and arrange in a bowl. Thoroughly cook the salmon stove top with a touch of olive oil and add white wine if desired. Saute the sliced pear in a touch of butter and sprinkle with allspice.

Toss the spinach salad with salmon and pears, sprinkle with pecans and add a dollop of ricotta cheese. That's it! Dinner in less than 15 minutes!


A simple lunch that's faster than going to Wendy's

Today I decided to whip up eggs disguised as a lunch (or dinner) dish. Perusing my refrigerator and freezer, I pulled out:

A red bell pepper

Two eggs

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Chopped spinach

Sliced mushrooms

Seasoning vegetables

Whipping cream

In a small skillet, saute the spinach, mushrooms and seasoning veggies together until they are cooked through (just a few minutes) - adding a pinch of salt and some fresh cracked pepper. In a larger skillet, scramble the eggs with whipping cream which makes them moist and fluffy - also adding a bit of fresh cracked pepper. When the eggs are done, mix in the veggies and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

To finish the meal, slice the top off the red bell pepper and remove the inside core. Rinse out and fill with the egg and veggie mixture. Voila! A beautiful, quick meal that didn't kill your weeks workout.

Pair with crackers and cheese for a perfect meal.


Sunday scones and coffee

After lazily lounging in bed for hours this morning listening the the rain I tempted myself to get up craving of a cup of coffee and a homemade cinnamon scone.

Scones are actually really simple to make and I would bet you have all the ingredients on-hand already. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees and you are almost done before you even get started.

What you need:

Either a cookie sheet or a muffin pan (I use a muffin pan)
A large and small mixing bowl
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup heavy cream
A stick of butter (you will use 6 tsp)
Cinnamon, spice and everything nice

In the large bowl, mix your flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Cut your stick of butter into pea sized chunks and add to the dry mixture and fold to evenly coat all the butter. In your small mixing bowl, combine the egg and cream and whisk together until blended. Pour into the dry mixture and fold together with a spatula until your dry mix is just moist.

This next part is up to you... I add in cinnamon and allspice because I love them but you can add in lemon or orange zest, raisins, etc. to make the recipe your own.

With your hands, knead the mix into a ball making sure everything is sufficiently moist (keep in mind, it will not seem wet, just not powder dry).

Scoop balls of the mix into your muffin pan (should make approximately 8 medium scones).

I keep vanilla syrup on hand for my coffee so I brushed some on the tops of each scone, sprinkled with more cinnamon and all spice and a pinch of sugar. You can also brush with cream or your favorite liquor which is also a delicious option.

Pop in the oven for 13-15 minutes and you will be enjoying your scones in no time. See, simple!

Serve with a delicious cup of coffee or a latte for maximum enjoyment.

I love rainy Sundays!


My own personal chef

For me, cooking is an expression of creativity and self accomplishment. I try to impress on my friends that its not a daunting task, and once you start, it is an addictive practice. Many of my friends are still stuck in the mac 'n cheese phase of their lives but with a little encouragement, I hope to pull them across the big girl line to be their own personal chefs.

I have a very busy career and am typically at the office from around 7 am to 7 pm. I do my grocery shopping on Sunday each week, savoring my time spent in Whole Foods. The fresh produce, fish counter and meat display are inspiring but my favorite stop is the cheese corner. As of late, I can't get enough feta. I will cook and eat just about anything with the unfortunate exception of shell fish, as I am allergic.

Through this blog I will share with you my daily culinary creations, which mainly come to life in the evening. To better aide in this adventure, I will outline my kitchen staples and share my shopping lists. Maybe you too can become your own personal chef.



There was an error in this gadget

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP