Greek burger

>> Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tonight an inspired burger came to life by combining my favorite ingredients into such a simple dish and born was a masterpiece for my mouth's enjoyment. I call this a Greek Burger by association of ingredients. This didn't come from any certain recipe but when I ate it, I thought... Greek. So there you have it.

Start with lean ground beef. 96% lean to be exact. Pressing into a patty, gently salt and crack a light coat of pepper. Next, sprinkle with garlic and red pepper flakes (careful here, not too much). For the next part of the recipe you will need:

Sun dried tomato and olive paste
Red onions, sliced and separated into strings
Butter, 2 tablespoons
Hamburger bun
Feta cheese

Rub a tablespoon of the tomato olive paste on the hamburger patty. Mix the meat together and reshape into a patty. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Dip the inside of each side of your bun in the butter and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the same skillet, drop the patty to cook, making sure to flip often until the natural juices from the meat coat the pan. Once the patty has browned on both sides, add onion strings to the skillet to cook along side the patty.

Pop the hamburger bun into the oven, face down on the middle rack to warm. Let cook for 5 - 7 minutes and plate. Once the hamburger patty is cooked to your desired temperature, place on the bottom bun. Top with onion strings, feta cheese and a ball of avocado.

Serve with veggies, salad or corn on the cob. Enjoy!


Eggs over rice with lentils -- sunny side up!

>> Monday, October 26, 2009

I have stumbled on a breakfast combination that is both unexpected, and the most perfect recipe for morning enjoyment which was created from leftover lentil rice and a carton of eggs. The boxed (yes, boxed) variety of rice with lentils is delicious for both dinner and at breakfast time. On a plate, reheat a few spoonfuls of the rice.

In a large skillet, melt a dab of butter, crack and egg and let it cook unbroken until the white starts to firm. Carefully, slide a spatula under the egg and quickly flip over. Let the egg cook for another 10 seconds or so and flip back to the original side. Serve over the rice and enjoy!


Slow roasted chicken

For dinner tonight I decided to use my dutch oven which has been safely stored on the top shelf of my cupboard for about the last 7 years, when I received it as a gift from my grandmothers cousin. What to cook in the dutch oven, I asked myself? A chicken. Perfect! So, I bought a whole chicken to test out the slow cooking method. With the cute little bird on my counter, I patted with salt and pepper, then laid it to rest in the pretty little dish. Surrounding the bird with chopped carrots, leeks, scallions, red cabbage, parsley and mushrooms, and adding in a sufficient amount of chicken stock and a few basil leaves, I topped off the dutch oven and put in to cook.

About two hours later, I pulled the dutch oven and opened the lid to find a delicious treat. The most tender chicken and veggies I have ever had. I love my dutch oven and and sorry I have ignored it for so long!


Mahi Mahi with mango butter sauce

>> Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tonight I prepared a new dish that brings together a few of my very favorite ingredients. Playing off my idea for a restaurant someday called FishBerries (if you are reading this, you must promise not to take my restaurant name!), I paired a mahi mahi with mango, kiwi and pear butter sauce. The ingredient list for the dish is:

Mahi mahi (skin removed)
Mango (skin removed and finely chopped)
Kiwi (skin removed and finely chopped)
Pear (cored and chopped)
Mustard powder
Unsalted butter
Red wine vinegar
Light rum

To make the mango butter sauce, combine 3/4 of each fruit variety in a food processor or blender with 1 teaspoon of mustard powder, chopped garlic and red wine vinegar. Add in 2 tablespoons of butter and blend until smooth and creamy.

In a large skillet over medium heat, toss the mahi mahi with mango butter sauce, coating all sides. Cook in sauce, turning periodically. Just before the fish is flake done, add the remaining 1/4 chopped fruit to the pan to heat. Toss in a splash of light rum if you are as bold as I!

Serve the fish with vegetables and rice. When plating your fish, sprinkle the fruit topping over top and add a dab of the heated mango butter sauce. Enjoy!


Pan fried halibut with green beans

>> Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For dinner this evening, I whipped up a quick pan fried halibut with fresh snapped green beans. After arriving home late after a going away party for a friend, I needed something quick and easy, but of course, tasty.

The ingredients which came together for dinner included:

Fresh snapped green beans
One egg
Bread crumbs
Lemon juice
Cherry tomatoes

To start, beat the egg in a medium bowl with a fork. Add in equal parts flour and bread crumbs and stir until the dry ingredients are coated with egg. Tending to the halibut, remove the skin from the bottom and coat in the breading mixture. Place in a hot skillet with melted butter and cover, turning periodically.

Separately, prepare the green beans snapping or cutting the ends from each bean. Toss into a skillet with a variety of cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and add a pinch of salt and crack pepper over the top.

Wash and cut your scallions and add to the halibut skillet with a spoon full of capers. Let cook for another couple of minutes until the scallions and capers are heated through.

Plate and serve immediately. Enjoy!


Beef tenderloin with sweet potatoes and wilted spinach

>> Monday, October 19, 2009

Tonight my delight of the evening was centered around a fine cut of beef, paired with the sweetest sweet potatoes and wilted spinach. The difference in flavors--sweet and citrus, pepper and garlic--made a great combination.

To start, you need the finest cut of meat you can get from your local grocer. I went for an 8 ounce fillet of beef tenderloin. To cook, rub the steak, uncut, with extra virgin olive oil then salt and pepper all over, patting the seasonings into the steak. In a hot skillet, quickly sear all sides of the steak to lock in the juices, then transfer to the oven where you will cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees.

Once the steak is in the oven, thoroughly wash your sweet potatoes and place into a pan of salted water which just covers the top of the potato. Boil until toothpick soft in the center, approximately 30 minutes. As the potatoes are nearly done, turn off the oven and let your steak sit, undisturbed until ready to serve.

Transfer your potatoes to a large bowl and remove the skins (they should come right off) and discard skins. Mash the potatoes with a fork, add in a pat of butter and blend on a low speed with a hand blender. Add in orange juice and continue blending until consistency is as you like it.

In a small skillet, melt a pat of butter and add washed spinach leaves, chopped fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Cook quickly until just wilted.

Remove the steak from the oven. Plate your food and top potatoes and spinach with crumbled feta cheese. Enjoy!


Cinnamon apricot and coconut pancakes

>> Sunday, October 18, 2009

This Sunday morning is turning out to be a picture perfect day. The sky is blue, sun is shining and the air is Fall is finally here cool and crisp. After puttering around the house for a couple of hours doing laundry, etc. and enjoying my morning coffee, I decided to make pancakes for myself for breakfast. Instead of making just plain or buttermilk pancakes, I decided to spice them up a bit by making cinnamon apricot and coconut pancakes which were much to my delight, delicious. To make these breakfast treats, you will need to:

Whisk together in a large bowl:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sweet coconut flakes

In another bowl, whisk:

1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently whisk them together, mixing just until combined. Fold in 1/4 cup of chopped dried apricots.

On a heated griddle or your largest skillet, pour out approximately 1/3 cup batter for each pancake, making perfect circles of batter. Cook until the top of each pancake is speckled with bubbles and some have popped open, then turn and cook the other side until lightly browned.

Stack your pancakes on a plate to serve and top with pats of butter, cinnamon and butter pecan syrup. Enjoy your breakfast and this beautiful day!


Homemade baked macaroni and cheese

>> Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tonight marks day one of the rest of my life! Ever since I was a little girl, I have missed out on the simple joys of macaroni and cheese because I am allergic to whatever the fake cheese is that Kraft invented to season their pasta. Tonight, I decided to overcome my fear of the dish and make it myself. Surely, controlling the ingredients, I would be able to make something I too could have. The Food Network happened to post a recipe today and I knew it was meant to be. Though not made in 5 minutes like the boxed variety, my macaroni and cheese was simple to make and delicious. The best thing though, no allergic reaction! Woo-hoo!

The ingredients for homemade, baked macaroni and cheese are:

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg (I had to look this one up. Temper means to slowly bring the egg temperature up to the temperature of the sauce so not to scramble the egg). Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

In my first post, I vowed to help my friends and readers overcome the macaroni and cheese stage of their lives and start cooking actual dinners. This meal passes the bar by all accounts as it is a sophisticated take on the old blue and orange box. Enjoy!


Beef Stroganoff

>> Monday, October 12, 2009

One of the most enjoyable experiences I have had lately at a restaurant came at the suggestion of the table next to me. "You have got to order the noodle special", they said, which was beef stroganoff. "It is absolutely to die for. We couldn't put it down." This restaurant, Neighborhood Services, literally brought tears to my eyes when I took my first bite of the buttery egg noodles topped with creamy beef that was falling apart in a rich mushroom sauce.

Tonight, I decided to replicate this experience at home making my very own beef stroganoff which was surprisingly just as delictable as my favorite Neighborhood Services dish.

To make you will need:

3 cups beef stock
1 carrot, chopped
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine (or cognac)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons sour cream, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
1 (1-pound) package wide egg noodles

Heat the beef stock with the carrot, 3 thyme sprigs, and bay leaf in a medium stock pot. Pat the beef dry and season it with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Fry the meat in batches so that it is browned on all sides. Lower the heat to medium and return all the meat to the large skillet. Add the onions and cook until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in the red wine (or cognac) and cook until the alcohol has burned off, about 5 minutes. Add the beef stock, discarding the carrot, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf. Cook, partially covered, over a very low flame for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and remaining 3 thyme sprigs and cook until the mushrooms are browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the meat is done, remove it from the heat and fold in the mushrooms, sour cream, mustard, and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender. Drain the noodles well, toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and season with salt and pepper. Serve the stroganoff over the noodles; garnish with more sour cream and chopped parsley.



Sweet crepes!

>> Saturday, October 10, 2009

Crepes are a gift from the ancient Europeans, brought to America by the first English settlers of the seventeenth century. Similar to pancakes, the crepe is the original, unleavened griddle cake still enjoyed today. For breakfast, I took the crepe challenge, carefully measuring and cooking my own European breakfast. Though it took a while, cooking each crepe individually, it was well worth it because my breakfast was delicious.

For basic sweet crepes, combine in a blender or food processor until smooth:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup luke warm water
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt

Pour the batter into a pitcher or other container with a lip. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes. Place a nonstick or seasoned crepe pan over medium heat and coat the pan with a little unsalted butter.

Stir the batter and pour about 2 tablespoons into the pan, lifting the pan off the heat and tilting and rotating it so that the batter forms an even, very thin layer. Cook until the top is set and the underside is golden. Turn the crepe over using a spatula or your fingers (if you can take the heat!) and cook until the second side lightly browned. Remove the crepe to a piece of wax paper and repeat until you have made all your crepes (makes approximately 12).

I whipped up an apple topping by slicing one apple into thin pieces cooking in butter. Let the apple sugars break down for about 5 minutes and add in sugar and cinnamon.

Roll the crepes, top with apples and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese. Enjoy this delicious treat!



>> Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For dinner last night, I pulled together a quick and easy meatloaf which is always a favorite, unless of course you are my sister. I grew up on meatloaf, made my mom's way -- no ketchup allowed.

To start, you will need the following ingredients:

Ground lean beef
Large brown egg
Seasoning veggies
Baby Bella mushrooms
Diced green peppers
Bread crumbs or dry oatmeal
Grated Parmesan cheese
Chunky vegetable tomato sauce
Salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mix your beef with egg and add in all the veggies (you can improvise here... add whatever you want). Add in bread crumbs or oatmeal and Parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly. Mix in about 1/4 jar of tomato sauce, mix and transfer to a baking dish. Top with the remaining tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Bake on 350 degrees until the sauce is boiling and meat is done (approximately 35-45 minutes).

Pair with vegetables, potatoes or pasta (shown with pasta nests and artichoke hearts). Enjoy!


Spinach quiche

>> Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tonight I reverted back to my childhood with a recipe from mom. Spinach quiche is such a fantastic dish that makes for a great lunch the next day as well. Easy to make, beautiful on a plate and extremely filling, quiche is one of my favorite dishes to whip up.

To make quiche you need:

Pie crust
Large brown eggs (3)
Heavy cream
Chopped spinach
Cubed ham
Seasoning vegetables
Finely shredded cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, crack the eggs. Before you break the yolk, dip a pastry brush in the egg white and brush the edges of your pie crust. Break the eggs apart and add in chopped spinach, ham, seasoning vegetables, cheese and cream. Add salt and pepper, mix and pour into the pie crust. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown on top and knife clean.

Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Enjoy!



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