Mini burgers that pack a punch

>> Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I was in the mood for a burger tonight but decided to skip Kellers and head to the store for a homemade gourmet burger instead. When most people think of a burger, they think a poppy sead bun encasing a skinny, greasy meat patty smothered with yellow mustard and ketchup and topped off with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar or American cheese and possibly a little bacon. Well, not my burger!

My burger tonight came in miniature form and was full of flavor that packed a punch. Simply constructed, I used relatively few ingredients but was so pleased I just had to share with you. All you need to re-create this meal is:

English muffins
Lean ground beef
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
Dijon mustard
Cracked pepper
Ground mustard
Tabasco sauce

In a bowl, mix the ground beef with salt, pepper, ground mustard and plenty of tabasco sauce (about 8 shakes). Form small patties and toss into a large skillet and cover with a lid. Cook until desired doneness. 

Heating the broiler, pop your English muffins under the fire for a couple of minutes to crisp up a bit.

Assemble your mini burgers by spreading a thick layer of Dijon mustard on both top and bottom muffins. On the bottom muffin, layer on a nice base of sprouts then nestle in your beef patty. Top it all off with a slice of Gruyere cheese and sandwich with the top muffin.

This burger works so well because of all the powerful flavors playing off each other. Gruyere cheese is pungent, Dijon mustard is incredibly spicy and deep in its flavor and the Tabasco sauce, well, that just gives the meat a nice kick. Together, encased by a simple English muffin with sprouts, well, this combo just works.  Pair with a mild couscous and freshly snipped chives and your meal is done. Add a little interest to the couscous by adding in a splash of white wine and enjoy your meal!


Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

>> Monday, April 12, 2010

I dropped by the store this evening for a couple of quick ingredients for my Monday night dinner. After arriving home around 6:45, I dropped my computer and changed into my kickin' around clothes I went to work on my fabulous dinner. I am a big fan of quiche no matter what the occasion but a Monday night quiche is the best. You see, you make a quiche on Monday and you are set for lunch for at least three days. Fantastic!

Tonight I went for a crustless broccoli-cheddar quiche made in individual ramekins. You can make any variety from quiche lorraine to spinach and ham to pancetta and chive, but broccoli-cheddar won out this evening. I have several recipes in my blog archives so feel free to browse!

All you need for this simple dish is:

6 eggs
One package finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
Broccoli, roughly chopped
Fresh cracked pepper
Four ramekins

First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter your ramekins and set aside.  In a large bowl, crack your eggs and briskly whisk with a fork. Add in the carton of heavy whipping cream and stir. Add broccoli, stir, then season with pepper, salt and paprika. Laddle the mixture into the ramekins and pop into the oven for approximately 45 minutes. That's it! Enjoy!


Banana bread

>> Sunday, April 11, 2010

I was startled out of bed at 7 am when I heard what at the time I thought was the wrath of God but then remembered that Texas Stadium was being imploded. I was surprised I heard the series of explosions all the way at my house so double checking my sanity, I walked outside to see if it was about to rain (though I didn't think it was in the forcast). Up and about, I realized I was starving. Yesterday I worked all day long in my garden planting in the beds and patio containers. I even got motivated to roll a massive tree stump from my neighbors front yard after having a tree removed all the way to the very back corner of my back yard. Pretty much as soon as I pulled it off the curb into the street I regreted the effort I would have to put forth but managed to roll it back to where I wanted it and think it was definitely a genius move. I admit I am a little sore today. Those things are heavy!!

After inspecting all my work from yesterday, I went to the kitchen to start the day off with a cup of joe. Coffee brewing, I began to look around for what to cook for breakfast. With four bananas sitting sadly uneaten on the counter I decided to turn their browning little bodies into banana bread. I love making breakfast breads on Sunday mornings because I am set for the week with a delicious treat to take to work.

Banana bread is a simple to make and fills your home with cozy aromas. A perfect set up for coffee, the paper, Meet the Press and George. So, off I went pulling the basic ingredients from the pantry as follows:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts then pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until it passes the toothpick test. Let the bread cool slightly then seperate the loaf from pan with a knife. Carefully turn the loaf pan upside down to free the bread, keep covered with a towel to preserve freshness and moisture. Enjoy!


Maple syrup isn't just for pancakes

>> Sunday, March 14, 2010

Today is absolutely gorgeous outside! This is truly the perfect Texas Spring day. I started off the morning with a nice stroll through the neighborhood with a cup of coffee in hand. The flowers are starting to bloom, trees are budding out and the grass is a lemony-lime green. I love it!  Because I'm leaving this perfect weather for the warm weather of Puerto Rico this week, so I don't have much food in the house. Hungry after my stroll, I searched the pantry for my options.  Oatmeal caught my eye as a cozy curl up on my patio in the shade with my favorite pair of sweats on to further take in the day meal. Yes, that's exactly what I did.

I don't buy the flavored little packets of Oatmeal because I prefer to do it myself. I poured a good little bit of oats in a bowl (my eyes are always bigger than my stomach because I forget how filling this stuff is), then added in a couple spoonfulls of soft brown sugar and a shake or two of cinnamon.  A little water, a quick stir and into the microwave the bowl went. I rarely use my microwave but it is perfect for cooking up these oats. Two minutes, stirring at the half mark, and you have a hot bowl of goodness.

Now, if you think Maple syrup is just for pancakes you are quite mistaken. I use it in my cooking often, especially with meats, but a drizzle over Oatmeal is just divine. You can skip all the butter and enjoy the natural sweetness of this great combination. 

Mmmm, mmmm, I'm off to garden. Enjoy your Oatmeal, and your day!


Pollo embanado (breaded chicken)

>> Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I will be heading down to Puerto Rico next week with a group of friends and have spent the evening finalizing our plans. Getting in the spirit, I pulled out my Puerto Rican Cookery cookbook to find a little recipe for dinner. I didn't have much to work with in the house but came across pollo embanado, which is a delicious breaded chicken.  All you need for this quick little meal is:

Chicken breasts
Bread crumbs
2 eggs
Plain white rice
Green peas
1 teaspoon olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a shallow dish, coat the chicken thoroughly with bread crumbs. In a seperate bowl, crack your eggs and add a pinch of salt and mix.  Dip your bread crumb coated chicken in the egg and place in greased baking dish.  Crack with a bit of pepper and pop in the oven for 40 minutes. 

(About 20 minutes later) Prepare the rice according to package directions.  Spice it up with a bit of salt, pepper and paprika then skip the butter later.  Throw some peas on to cook when the rice is nearly done and you will have a complete meal.  Plate all the food and enjoy!!


Simple salmon

>> Monday, March 8, 2010

Over the last week, the kitchen hasn't seen much of me. Work has been busy and I had too many plans over the weekend, but tonight, I'm back. For dinner, I cooked up a simple salmon which I paired with orzo and asparagus.  All you need is:

Tri-colored orzo
Parsley, chopped
Scallions, chopped
Butter, 2 tablespoons, melted
Lemon juice, 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the salmon with your salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil, and sprinkle with one clove of chopped garlic. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare the orzo according to package directions.  Trim the asparagus ends and cook over medium heat in the large skillet. Add the remaining garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt and cook until tender.  In a small bowl, combine the butter, parsley, salt and pepper.  Drain the orzo and add the buttered parsley and blend. Serve the fish with the orzo and asparagus, top with scallions and enjoy!


Dry rubbed baby-back ribs

>> Monday, March 1, 2010

For dinner this evening, I pulled together a finger-lickin' meal that was a pure crowd pleaser.  Baby-back ribs and corn on the cob is always a delicious option if you don't mind getting your hands a little saucy.  So I put away the cloth napkins and pulled out the paper towels to serve up this recipe for you to enjoy right now.

All you need for this simple dish is:

4 cloves garlic, choped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 racks baby-back ribs
4 cobs of corn, shucked and halved
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the garlic, brown sugar, chili powder, cayenne, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. 

Rub the spice on the ribs and let sit for 10 minutes.  Place on a baking sheet and cover with foil and pop in the oven.  Let cook for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cut the ribs apart. Put back in the oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, to prepare the corn, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Add the corn ears and let cook for 5 minutes, until tender.  Drain and transfer to a serving dish.  Pour the melted butter over the corn and sprinkle with the parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Enjoy!!


Spaghetti with bacon and eggs

>> Sunday, February 28, 2010

I have been hearing from many of my friends that the dishes have been preparing lately are too complex and take too long for them to try. Since my stated purpose since the first day I logged into Blogger to take on my cooking challenge was to inspire my friends to cook, I have decided to do a series of simple and quick dishes so they can't say I only cook complicated dishes (even though I don't view them as such).  My 10 minute pizza was a big hit last week so tonight I prepared a dish that was equally as simple and delicious.

All you need for tonight's simple dish is:

12 ounces spaghetti
8 ounces bacon
4 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and black pepper

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water to incorporate later into the dish.  Drain the pasta and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until crisp and delicious (6 to 8 minutes).  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble when cooled.

Wipe out the skillet and return to medium heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny. 3 to 4 minutes. 

Toss the pasta with the bacon, the reserved pasta water, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the eggs. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan and enjoy!!  What could be better than a quick meal that takes you back to breakfast before you doze off to sleep. 


Sopressata canapes over an Italian red pepper salad

>> Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tonight I went for a fresh salad made Italian style, topped with little bite sized sopressata ricotta canapes. This dish took shape pretty quickly from the random assortment of ingredients I had available to my in the fridge and was a delight to both create, and enjoy. 

All you need is:

Phyllo dough
1 egg, beaten
Sopressata meat, thinly sliced and cut in half moons
Ricotta cheese
Scallions, thinly sliced
Mixed greens
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
Grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon mayonaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 slash of white wine
Fresh cracked pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a baking pan.  Cut your Phyllo dough into 1 1/2 inch squares and dip into the beaten egg, then lay flat on the pan evenly spaced out.  Layer on one folded piece of Sopressata meat and top with a ball of Ricotta cheese.  Sprinkle sliced scallions over top and pop in the oven for 15 minutes. 

To make a great salad at home, you can buy a pre-prepared mix of greens and add in a few fresh ingredients to make it your own.  Tonight I opted for crisp red bell peppers and scallions, and a homemade dressing. In a large bowl, toss the mixed greens with the remainder of your sliced scallions, the red bell peppers and the grated parmesan cheese. In a seperate small bowl, mix up a simple salad dressing by combining the mayonaise, mustard and enough wine to make a thin consistancy (just a quick pour). Whisk the dressing together and crack one twist of pepper corns over top.  Once your canapes are done baking, mix the salad dressing in with your snappy greens.  Serve with the canapes and enjoy!!  


Chocolate pots

>> Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So, I was craving some chocolate and what better way to enjoy it than in an adorable teacup! Chocolate pots are so easy to make and I would say not all that bad for you.  You see, I just break down the ingredients and think to myself, "hey, that's not too bad for me".

All you need is:

2/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Add 1/3 cup of the milk, stirring to form a smooth paste.  Whisk int he egg yolks and the remaining milk.

Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until thickened 12 - 15 minutes (do not let this boil). Remove from the heat.

Add the vanilla and chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour into eight 4-ounce ramekins, glasses or teacups. Refridgerate, covered, until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.  Sprinkle with the cocoa powder before serving.


Artichoke pizzas in under 10 minutes

Ok, so this is for all my friends who claim they don't have time to cook when they get home from work. Here is a family friendly (kid friendly -- at least I assume they would eat this) meal that can be whipped up in just a matter of minutes and is delicious! This meal will be on the table before you could find the number of your local pizzeria and place an order for delivery. 

All you need to pull these individual size pizzas together is:

2 pita breads, split horizontally (lay flat on a cutting board and press flat with your hand -- slice slowly with a long knife to make two circular pieces, not half moons)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
1 6-ounce jar arthchokes, drained and cut in half
1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar (6 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Heat the broiler and pop your pizza stone in the oven in the bottom third position to heat while prepping your ingredients.  Drizzle your pita halves, cut side up, with two tablespoons olive oil and pop in the oven on the pizza stone for just a couple minutes to crisp up.  Keep a close eye on this as they are done before you know it.

Pull your bread from the oven and top with the red peppers, artichokes, almonds, Cheddar, and oregano.  Broil until the cheese has melted, 2 to 3 minutes.  Serve with green beans (I like mine lemony) or a salad and enjoy!! See, less than 10 minutes!


Caramelized pork with sweet potatoes

This week, I am focusing on dinners that are quick and easy with ingredients from the local grocery store instead of Whole Foods. It's amazing what a limited selection of meats, fish, cheeses, etc. you have at Albertsons but I must confess, the price tag is well worth it at times. Last night (sorry I didn't get to the computer after dinner) I made a delicious roasted pork tenderloin which I paired with sweet potatoes.

My ingredient list included:
1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 pork tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large orange

First off, heat the oven to 450 degrees.  You are going to need two baking pans lightly coated with vegetable oil.  In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and arrange in a single layer on one of the baking pans. Sprinkle the potatoes with half your rosemary and place in the oven to cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the large bowl you just used with olive oil, toss your pork tenderloin in the oil then season all over with salt and pepper.  Spread the mustard over the meat then sprinkle with the sugar and rosemary.  Arrange on the second banking pan and place in the oven to roast for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.

Check the potatoes for tenderness and remove from the oven along with the pork tenderloin when done.  Transfer the potatoes to a plate and top with the uncut tenderloin and cover to keep the potatoes warm and let the meat rest. 

Place the baking pan used for the meat over medium heat on the stove and juice the orange to cook up a great pan sauce.  Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes until the sugars and juices meld with the OJ and begin to thicken up a bit.  Add your pork tenderloin back into the pan with the sauce and slice, coating the meat in the orange pan sauce. 

Plate your sweet potatoes and pork tenderloin and serve with your choice of greens. Enjoy!!


Parmesan pasta with chicken and rosemary

>> Sunday, February 21, 2010

For a quick Sunday night dinner, I decided to go for an easy pasta dish. Pasta is a great go-to dish when you want to be in and out of the kitchen in about 15 minutes with something tasty.  My parmesan pasta with chicken and rosemary was just that, tasty.

All you need for this quick meal is:

12 ounces of orechiette or shells pasta
1 2 pound rotisserie chicken
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and fresh cracked pepper

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 1/4 cups of the cooking water.  (This is a great tip when cooking pasta.  The salty, starchy water makes for a great sauce.) Drain the pasta and return to the pot. 

Meanwhile, using a fork or your fingers, shred the chicken, discarding the skin and bones.

Toss the pasta with the chicken, rosemary, the reserved pasta water, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Cook, stirring, over medium-low heat, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Enjoy!


Pancetta mini quiche

Quiche is a food best enjoyed at anytime during the day. A perfect dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner; and when made in mini form, a great snack as well. Laying in bed this morning thinking about the day, I decided I would whip up a tray of mini quiche to fuel the morning and carry me through to dinner.

As I puttered into the kitchen in my PJ's I went to browse the refridgerator to see what kind of quiche I would be making. A genius new combination, in my kitchen anyways, emerged one ingredient at a time.  My basic rule of thumb with any quiche is 3 eggs per pie for a full size quiche, or 3 eggs per two trays of mini quiche (24 total little cuties). Eggs, heavy cream and cheese make the base of the quiche and you can add in vegitables, fresh herbs and meats to your liking.

I decided to make a pancetta quiche with scallions and cilantro.  This salty Italian meat replaces the need for seasonings when paired with the peppery taste provided by the cilantro.

The full ingredient list included:

3 eggs
Heavy cream (I just eyeball this)
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 bunch scallions
1 package pancetta meat, chopped
1 handfull cilantro, chopped
Fillo (phyllo) dough

In a mixing bowl, break and whisk your eggs, and add in cream, a couple handfulls of mozzaerlla, scallions and cilantro.  Mix together and add more cream as needed to make the consistancy thick and creamy. 

In a small skillet, brown the pancetta meat over medium heat.  Remove from the stove and and let cool completely before adding to the quiche mixture.

With your fillo dough, unroll the layered sheet and cut into a 12 square grid to match the mini quiche pans.  Working one-by-one, take a freshely cut square of fillo dough and split the stack of layers in half, to fill the first pot in the pan.  Use the second half of the dough to fill the first pot of the second mini quiche pan.  Repeat until you have two quiche pans (24 total) fitted with fillo dough.

With the pancetta cooled, add into the mixture and stir together.  Working carefully, as to not spill the mixture outside the dough fitted pots, use a tablespoon to fill each with the mixture.  Do not overfill because your quiche will rise by 2/3.  Pop in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until golden on top and toothpick clean. Enjoy!!


Saturday morning barista

>> Saturday, February 20, 2010

Normally, I spend my Saturday mornings at a cute local coffee house with my two best girlfriends. Today, however, we are getting together later in the afternoon for our own ice capades adventure when we hit the rink and strap on our skates.  It will be nothing short of amusing I'm sure. So, in place of the white chocolate mocha I would normally enjoy, I ramped up my coffee maker and stepped into the role of barista myself.

When making coffee at home, I start out with a little vanilla syrup in my favorite purple coffee mug.  I have had this set of mugs for about 10 years now.  I originally bought these mugs for an old sweetie of mine back in college but realized before I gave them to him that he didn't like them, so, I kept the mugs for myself.  So glad I did!

So, with a little vanilla syrup in the mug, I add a dash of cinnamon and swirl the mug.  I have a single serve coffee maker so I am able to make the perfect amount of vanilla cappuccino coffee for myself. It just makes sense because I live alone.  With vanilla, cinnamon and coffee in mug, add in some vanilla creamer and swizzle stir.

I had some homemade whipped cream left over from a dessert I made a couple of nights ago so I topped the coffee off with a nice big spoonful. Yum! Hey, they give me whipped cream at the coffee house, so I might as well treat myself to it at home!

As I was standing in the kitchen, I realized I had a very curious on-looker watching my coffee come together.  Hanging his little head over the roof looking in the kitchen window, this little guy got a lesson in caffination.


Curried pork chops and smashed peas

>> Thursday, February 18, 2010

For dinner tonight I broke out the curry powder to season my delicious pork rib chops. Not a spice I use often, I think curry is under-rated here in the States. This dish was quite nice when paired with smashed peas. All you need for this quick dish is:

Pork rib chops
Curry powder
Kosher salt and black pepper
Olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Pita bread

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the chops with curry powder, salt and pepper on both sides.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the chops, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a baking sheet and roast to the desired doneness, about 10 minutes. 

Wipe out the skillet and heat a tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the peas and gently smash with a fork. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. 

Stir in the lemon juice, mint, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Serve with the pork chops and pita bread. Enjoy!!


Little berry shortcakes

>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010

After a delicious dinner, I was in the mood for a fruity little dessert.  I had a couple cartons of fresh strawberries and blueberries on hand and some biscuits so voila, dessert!

In a large bowl, toss your fresh berries with about 1/3 cup sugar and let it sit out on the counter to meld together while you prepare the rest of the dish. 

In a medium bowl, whip up some cream to stiff peaks with 1 tablespoon sugar and a splash of vanilla.  There is nothing better than homemade whipped cream. 

Pop some breakfast biscuits (just plain ones) in the oven and cook according to package directions.  Let them cool completely and assemble a delicious little berry shortcake by splitting the biscuit in half.  Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on the bottom half, top with a bunch of berries, add another spoonfull of whipped cream and sandwich with the other half of the biscuit.  This is a sweet and creamy, fruity but salty little dessert you will just love.  Enjoy!!


Spiced mini burgers with couscous salad

Starving when I arrived home from work after a killer lunchtime pilates class, I needed something quick, quick, quick before I passed out right there on my kitchen floor.  I wanted something that took less than 20 minutes to make but was still delicious so spiced mini burgers with a refreshing couscous salad made the table. 

The ingredient list included:

1 box plain couscous
1 pound ground lean beef
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 scallions, sliced
4 plum tomatoes, quartered
1 seedless cucumber, cut into half moons
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Your favorite hummus

Cook the couscous according to the package directions.

Form the beef into 12 small 1/2-inch-thick patties. Sprinkle with the cumin, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook to the desired doneness, 4 minutes per side for medium.

Toss the couscous with the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 

Serve the cute little burgers over the couscous salad with a side of hummus.  Try the hummus on the burger.. it's divine!  Enjoy!!


Chicken with creamy spinach and shallots

>> Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day three into the week brought a simple chicken dinner with creamy spinach and shallots. Personally, I love sauteed spinach but have endeared it even more to myself by adding shallots and a creamy sour cream and white wine sauce. This rich and sophisticated take on sauteed spinach will be my go to green for chicken, pork, steak and lamb from now on!

The simple ingredient list included:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
6 small chicken thighs
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup sour cream
2 bunches spinach, thick stems removed

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until browned and cooked through , 8 to 10 minutes per side.  Transfer to plates.

Spoon off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and return the skillet to medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the wine and sour cream. Add the spinach and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cook, tossing gently, until the spinach begins to wilt, 1 to 2 minuts.  Serve with the chicken and enjoy!!


Chicken enchiladas with green salsa

>> Monday, February 15, 2010

Talking about delicious, tonight I made chicken enchiladas that set my heart aflutter. I literally couldn't stop smiling while I was eating! I don't eat Mexican food very often because I find it to be pretty heavy but these enchiladas were perfect. Admittedly, preparation was pretty messy, but that's part of the fun!

All you need is:

4 tablespoons canola oil
2 small zucchini, diced
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup corn kernels (from 1 ear, or frozen and thawed)
1 2- to 2 1/2 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack (6 ounces)
Kosher salt and black pepper
12 6-inch corn tortillas
1 pound tomatillos, papery husks removed
1 jalepeno, seeded
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, onion, and corn and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the chicken, Monterey Jack, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix to combine.

Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. One at a time, cook the tortillas in the oil until softened, 10 to 15 seconds per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Roll the chicken mixture up in the tortillas and place them in a large baking dish, seam-side down. Bake until heated through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the tomatillos, jalepeno, cilantro, lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until finely chopped. Serve the enchiladas with the salsa and sour cream.

Tip: in place of the tomatillo sauce, you can use a store-bought mild green salsa. 



Creamy barley salad with apples

>> Sunday, February 14, 2010

After a Valentines weekend of eating out time and time again and lots of chocolate, I decided to go lite on dinner tonight and pull together a simple salad for dinner.  This creamy barley salad with apples is easy to pull off and quite delightful!

All you need is:

1/2 cup pearl barley
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 bunches red leaf lettuce, thick stems removed

In a medium saucepan, combine the barley, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the barley is tender and the water is absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and spread on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cooled barley and toss to combine.

Divide the lettuce among bowls. Top with the barley mixture and enjoy!


Meatloaf with smashed potatoes

>> Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Meatloaf is something everyone should know how to make--and make well.  I'm not talking about meat topped with ketchup either. I'm talking about rich beef mixed with fresh herbs and a variety of onions, tomatoes, leeks and spices, baked to perfection and served with a side of smashed potatoes, this dish is delicious.

All you need is:

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 eggs
1 cup dry oatmeal (you can use breadcrumbs if you rather)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 leeks, chopped and rinsed thoroughly
 - tip: fill a bowl of water with cold water and let the leek rings soak
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
Cracked pepper
Powdered yellow mustard
Worcestershire sauce
Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl mix: beef, eggs, oatmal, onion, scallions, parsley, tomato paste, half the can of diced tomatoes, spices and worcestershire sauce.  Transfer to a loaf pan and top with the remaining tomatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and pop in the oven at 400 degrees and bake for 1 hour.  When the meatloaf is nearly done, top with the leeks and let finish baking.

Meanwhile, prepare your mashed potatoes. I made these potatoes a couple of weeks ago with parsnips and loved it so am repeating tonight.  In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook:

2 large potatoes, washed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

Once soft, drain and transfer to a large bowl.  Add 3 tablespoons butter and smash. Let your meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serve alongside the yummy potatoes and enjoy!


State Fair inspired pancakes

>> Sunday, February 7, 2010

I woke up this morning thinking about the State Fair. I'm really not sure why. The fair won't be in town until this fall and where I like to go, I'm not really one to look forward to it all year. Maybe because I spent the evening hanging out with my sister and her family playing silly games which took me back to last fall when we all went together.  Anyways, all the festive thoughts brought to mind the delicious funnel cakes that are a must-have when on the fair grounds. I started dreaming up a breakfast dish that would resemble a funnel cake and decided to take it to the kitchen.

Starting out with a simple pancake base I pulled together my mix.

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

In another bowl, whisk:
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently whisk them together, mixing just until combined.

Season a large skillet or griddle with butter and in funnel cake fashion, spoon the batter on the heated skillet in a random, stringy pattern instead of a perfectly round cake. Cook on one side until the lightly golden and flip.

Next, in a large pan, heat canola oil and drop your cake in to lightly fry.  Remove from the oil and lay on a towel to remove excess oil. Repeat for the remainder of the cakes. 

In a small bowl, whip up a couple tablespoons of fresh unsalted butter and add a dash of cinnamon.  You will want to let your butter soften at room temperature for a bit before taking your hand mixer to it.

Stack your pretty little cakes on a plate and drizzle with your favorite syrup, warmed if you desire. I chose a butter pecan syrup which is my absolute favorite. That's it!  Enjoy!


Lasagna to live by

>> Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Italian food is always a popular choice for dinner and lasagna tops the list. Tonight I made a delicious dish of the favorite which, well, I may just have again tomorrow (partly because I have no idea how to make a small lasagna!). While thinking about all the scrumptious layers, I knew I needed a great meat sauce. I like to mix it up a little bit so I brought together both beef and andoulle sausage.

The basic ingredients I used tonight are:

Lasagna noodles, 3 per layer desired
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound andoulle sausage, chopped into small pieces
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
1 cup fresh baby spinach, stems snapped off
1 large container of ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped cilantro
5 cloves of garlic
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Olive oil

Season a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat, adding in ground beef and sausage to cook together.  Chop your garlic and add to the skillet along with your taste of seasonings as listed above.  Cook until done and remove from heat, allowing the meats to re-absorb their juices. 

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, boil lightly salted water with a tablespoon of olive oil until rapid. Add in lasagna noodles one at a time to maintain rapid boil. Cook for 12 minutes then drain.

Back to your meat sauce. Fold in the chopped scallions and cilantro then mix with tomato sauce.  Be sure to taste your sauce to ensure the flavor is on point then it's time to assemble the lasagna.

In a 13" x 9" dish, spread 1 cup sauce then lay down your first section of pasta. Follow the pasta with a layer of meat sauce, a nice thick layer of ricotta cheese (this is an absolute must), spinach, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, in that order.  Repeat with a second layer of pasta, meat sauce, ricotta, spinach, mozzarella and parmesan cheese then cover the dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before diving in to enjoy!


Red beans and rice with Andouille sausage

>> Sunday, January 31, 2010

Living in the South, red beans and rice has always been a staple on the winter menu.  For those of you from other parts of the country, this is a dish you really ought to take home with you. This one pot meal packs a punch with spice, warming your soul on those really chilly nights.  Another perk of red beans and rice is it makes for great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Traditionally, smoked or fresh southern pork sausage, known as Andouille, is the centerpiece of this Cajun-inspired dish. Pinto beans, onions and green peppers get a kick from fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles in this deceptively simple yet filling meal.

All you need to pull this dish together is:

1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound fresh or smoked andouille pork sausage links, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1/2 pound cubed ham
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch scallions, thinly chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 dried bay leaf
2 (10-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 (10-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Red pepper flakes to taste
Cayanne pepper to taste
Cajun hot pepper sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked white rice

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and ham and cover skillet. Cook, turning the meat occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meats to a large plate, set aside.

Add peppers and onions to the hot skillet. Increase heat to medium high, add thyme and bay leaf and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until vegetables are golden brown and just softened, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes with their liquid, then fill the empty can with water and add to the skillet, too. Stir in beans, cayanne pepper, red pepper flakes, Cajun hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper, all to your taste, and reserved sausage and ham, reduce heat to medium and simmer until flavors are developed, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf and and add the rice into the beans, sausage and ham pot.  Serve with cornbread and enjoy, ya'll!


Polynesian bowl

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010

The sky opened up at around 4 pm and flooded the streets with water. I was planning on stopping in the grocery store on my way home from work but with the inclement weather, I decided to pass and figure out a meal from what I had in the house.  A simple dish bringing together rice, chicken and plums created a beautiful meal which I creatively named a Polynesian bowl.

I grabbed from the fridge and pantry:
Plain white rice, 1 cup
Chicken breast, cut into small pieces
Plums, cut into large pieces
Raspberries, one handful
Cilantro, one handful, chopped
Scallions, one bunch, thinly sliced
Odobo peppers (2)
Soy sauce
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

In a large skillet, cook the chicken in a spot of olive oil with salt, pepper and a splash of soy sauce. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions.

In a medium skillet, cook the cilantro, scallions, plums, raspberries and odobo peppers together until the flavors meld and add in the cooked chicken. 

Serve the plum chicken topping over a bed of rice and enjoy!


Salmon with lemon-cilantro vinaigrette

>> Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here is a 15-minute meal you have got to add to your recipe box.  If you like salmon, you will love this combo.  Salmon with lemon-cilantro vinaigrette was the perfect choice for tonight's menu and was so fast, I am done and blogging about it before 8 o'clock!

All you need for this delicious dish is:

1 10-ounce box couscous (1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of boneless, skinless salmon (if there is skin on the bottom, it will come off easily after cooking)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or one lemon squeezed)

Cook the couscous according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the salmon with the paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

In a small bowl, combine the cilantro, scallions, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Drizzle over the salmon and couscous.  Enjoy!!


Steak with potato-parsnip mash

In keeping with my "try a new ingredient" theme, last night, I tried parsnips.  I've never had a parsnip to my knowledge but was quite impressed. It does pay to try new things! I paired my parsnips with potatoes to create a potato-parsnip mash.  Delicious!

All you need for steak with potato-parsnip mash is:

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound parsnips (about 2 medium), cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds steak (whatever cut you like)

Place the potatoes and parsnips in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.  Add 2 teaspoons salt, reduce heat, and simmer until tenter, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Mash with the milk, butter, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steak with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Cook to the desired doneness, 4 to 6 minutes per side fo rmedium-rare.  Let rest before slicing. Serve with the delicious potato-parsnip mash and enjoy!


Meatballs with sauteed chard

>> Sunday, January 24, 2010

For dinner tonight, I pulled together a very simple but delicious dish that used a new ingredient for my collection, chard.  I have never cooked chard before but found it a delightful alternative to spinach. In fact, I like it much better than sauteed spinach. All you need for tonight's dish is:

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (you could also use ground pork)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 bunches red chard, leaves cut or torn into 2-inch strips
1 small bagette, sliced

Heat the broiler. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, pine nuts, raisins, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Form the mixture into 20 walnut sized meatballs and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Broil, turning once, until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the garlic, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the chard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing, until wilted.  Serve with the meatballs and bread.  Enjoy!


Blueberry tart

So, in case you haven't noticed, I love blueberries. I eat them with everything on the weekends and today is no exception. I decided I wanted a little dessert I could enjoy all week and opted for a blueberry tart.  This recipe is so delicious, I'm not sure this dish will make it more than a couple of days before I eat it all.

All you need to make this simple dessert is:

Flour for the work surface
1 8 ounce sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
2 cups blueberries

To start, heat the oven to 375 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface, unfold the sheet of pastry and roll it into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Next, using the tip of a knife, score a 1-inch border around the pastry without cutting all the way through.  Brush the border with the egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake until golden and puffed, 18 to 22 minutes.

Using the tip of the knife, rescore the border of the cooked pastry without cutting all the way through. Gently press down on the center of the pastry sheet to flatten it. Let cool at room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, with an electronic mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the cream, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth.  Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly within the borders of the pastry.

Arrange the blueberries in a single layer over the filling and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of confectioners' sugar.  Enjoy! This is so incredibly good!


Chicken pot pie

>> Saturday, January 23, 2010

On this rainy evening in Dallas, I am feeling a bit like curling up in a blanket and watching a movie. I am staying in tonight and was craving comfort food.  The ultimate in comfort food, for me anyways, is a delicious chicken pot pie. You see, chicken pot pies have been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. They are a great all-in-one meal that incorporate chicken and are packed full of veggies. My favorite part, however, has got to be the crust. I have always saved it for last, as if it were dessert.  The golden flakes of a lightly buttered flavor just melt in your mouth after eating the hot chicken filling.

I don't really have a recipe for my chicken pot pies. Sometimes I make my own crust and sometimes I use a puff pastry (like I did tonight). All you need to do is break down the elements of the dish and start assembling. 

First, you will need a crust for your pie. Like I said earlier, I used a puff pastry.  Just pull from the freezer and let thaw.  Roll out and line your dishes with the pastry. Make sure you have enough to cover over top after you fill as well.

Next, the chicken. Cut your chicken breast into small chunks and cook over medium heat on the stove until nearly cooked through (not completely though).  Add to the skillet your favorite veggies, this can be anything you like.  I used onions, red and green bell peppers, green beans, peas and corn.  I would normally toss in some carrots too but didn't have any on hand.  Let all of this cook together for a few minutes. 

Time for a simple roux. Melt one stick of butter in a sauce pan and slowly add in flour 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until you reach the consistancy you like. It should not be watery.  Add in spices of your liking, salt and pepper and let simmer for a few minutes. You will see the sauce thickening up quite a bit so add in chicken stock to keep a flowing consistancy.

Fill your pot pie dish with the chicken and veggies first, nearly to the top, then spoon the roux over top, letting it incorporate itself into the filling. 

Top the pot pie with pastry for the top crust and seal with the bottom pastry, tucking the edges under and pinching gently.  Slit the center to allow the steam to escape and pop in the oven at 350 degrees.  Let cook for approximately 30 minutes the remove from the oven and enjoy!


Amish Friendship Bread

>> Friday, January 22, 2010

The equivalent of a chain letter landed on my desk at work ten days ago, yet I didn't cringe.  A challenge. An adventure. What would this little bag bring to my life? A culinary gesture to say "you are my friend" started by the Amish and passed on one bag at a time. What was in the bag? Well, nobody can say for sure. But, it came with detailed directions and I decided to partake.

The Amish Friendship Bread takes 10 days from the date of inception to gently mush and mold into a delicious bread in loaf or muffin form.  I made one loaf and 5 muffins with the gift, passed on three bags to my best girl friends and kept one for myself to make another batch in 10 days. 

So here's how it works.  First, you must receive a starter bag from someone.

Day 1: Do nothing (date is on the bag)
Day 2: Mush the bag
Day 3: Mush the bag
Day 4: Mush the bag
Day 5: Mush the bag
Day 6: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk and mush the bag
Day 7: Mush the bag
Day 8: Mush the bag
Day 9: Mush the bag
Day 10: Follow instructions below

1. Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non metal bowl
2. Add 1-1/2 cup sugar, 1-1/2 cup flour and 1-1/2 cup milk. Mix with a non metal spoon.
3. Measure out 4 seperate batters of 1 cup each into 4 one gallon zip lock bags. Label each with a date. Keep one starter for yourself and give the other three batters to friends along with a copy of the recipe (or this blog link). 
4. Preheat the oven to 325
5. Add the following to the remaining batter:

3 eggs
1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 large box instant vanilla pudding
Optional: raisins, nuts, etc.

6: Greast 2 large loaf pans, or muffin pans and mix an additional 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl. Dust the greased pans with the mixture.
7: Pour the batter evenly into the pans
8: Bake 1 hour, cool 10 minutes. Turn onto serving dish.  (if you are cooking muffins, shorten the bake time to approximately 30 minutes)

Important note: Do not use any type of metal spoons or metal bowls while mixing. Do not refrigerate (leave on counter) - if air gets in the bag, let it out. It is normal for the batter to rise, bubble and ferment.

Enjoy your friendship bread!


Galinha Assada A Brasileira

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Before we get into food, I want to talk about a quick beauty tip... I know, what's the connection? Well, I have noticed that the more I use my hands to season my meats, the softer my hands become. It makes perfect sense too. Olive oil for moisturizing, granular seasonings for exfoliation. So, I guess what I'm saying is.. don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. It will do wonders for them! It's like gardening.. another love of mine. 

So, back to the food blogging. Tonight I decided to make Galinha Assada A Brasileira. A Brazilian style roasted chicken salad in a creamy lime dressing. This dish is simple and so delicious you will just have to make it for yourself to believe me. 

To start off, season your chicken thoroughly with olive oil and salt. Chop three cloves of regular garlic and spread over top the chicken.  Add two cloves of chopped black garlic to the mix and pop in the oven at 350 degrees to bake.

To make your creamy lime sauce, mix in a large bowl:

1 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt
3/4 cup sour cream
The zest of 1 lemon
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook down quickly:

1 1/2 cups seasoning vegitables
1/2 cup green peas
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 tablespoon rubbed sage

When the veggies are cooked, take off the heat and let cool.  Once cooled, add into the creamy sauce and set aside until the chicken is done cooking. 

Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  With two forks, gently pull the meat apart into shreds.  Add the chicken to the creamy sauce and gently mix together then plate.  Top the chicken salad off with crispy pampas potatoes or "potato strings".  Enjoy!


Chicken tacos with citrus cabbage slaw

>> Monday, January 18, 2010

In a rush to make a movie this evening (which ended up being sold out for the 3rd time I tried to see it) I made a quick chicken taco dinner with a citrus cabbage slaw.  All you need to pull this delicious dinner together is:

1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sour cream
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup small cabbage, shredded
1 cup corn kernals, canned or frozen and thawed
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
A handful of cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless, skinless breasts of chicken
Soy sauce
Ground cumin
Flour tortillas, warmed

In a largew bowl, whisk the orange and lime juices, sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add cabbage, corn and jalapeno and toss to combine.  Add chili garlic sauce and cilantro and continue tossing until combined.  Set aside, tossing every few minutes. 

In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with a dash of cumin, salt and pepper and drizzle soy sauce over top.  Let cook, stirring frequently until cooked through. 

Serve the chicken with the tortillas and the slaw. Enjoy!


Blueberry frozen yogurt

Need a quick snack that is fresh and delightful? Blueberry frozen yogurt is the perfect solution for those mid-afternoon munchies that won't knock you off track for the rest of the day. 

All you need to make blueberry frozen yogurt is:

1 medium carton blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
optional: 2 teaspoons vodka
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt or Greek yogurt (a staple in my house)

Toss the blueberries in a bowl with the sugar and vodka (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve.

Transfer the blueberries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt and pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the skins for a creamy finish (recommended).

Chill for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can place in a metal mixing bowl in the freezer. After about 30 minutes, check the ice cream to see if the edges have started to freeze. If they have (or whenever they do) mix thoroughy. Check and repeat every 30 minutes until the yogurt is frozen and delicious. Enjoy!


Blueberry muffins

On this sunny morning, celebrating Martin Luther King Junior Day, I whipped up some enormous blueberry muffins that were just divine. There are few things that compare to a good blueberry muffin while sipping coffee and watching Live with Regis and Kelly (something I never get to do).  Follow this recipe and you will be enjoying a delightful blueberry muffin in about 25 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of hte oven and preheat to 400 degrees.  Grease a standard or large muffin pan or line with paper cups. 

Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Whisk together in another bowl:

2 large eggs
1 cup milk or cream
2/3 cup sugar or packed light brown sugar
4 to 8 tablespoons warm melted unsalted butter (4 if you will be eating the muffins immediately, 8 if you are saving them for later)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add to the flour mixture and mix together with a few light strokes just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Do not overmix; the batter should not be smooth. 

Add to the mixture:

1 1/2 cups fresh washed blueberries and fold together

Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  12 to 15 minutes for standard size muffins, 15 to 20 minutes for large muffins.  Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before removing from the pan and serve as soon as possible.  Enjoy!


Game-time chili

>> Sunday, January 17, 2010

One of the biggest perks of being a Foodie is enjoying recipes from fellow foodies. For my football Sunday chili, I surfed and came upon the best darn chili recipe you could ever hope for. Thanks to Cookin' Canuck, I was able to prepare a perfect dish for the game. The only way the meal could have been better was if the Cowboys were winning. 

This chili definitely has some heat to it, but it's more of a smoky heat from the chipotle peppers and Adobo sauce.  Give it a try, I'm sure you will love it too!

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large, heavy pot set over medium heat. Add 2 chopped medium onions and sauté until tender and light brown, about 10 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin and 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano.

Stir for 30 seconds, then add 2 chopped garlic cloves. Stir for an additional 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 2 pounds ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it is cooked through. Add 1/4 cup chili powder, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Add 1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, including juices. Break up the tomatoes with wooden spoon while cooking. A couple of them weren't breaking up well, so I took them out of the pot, chopped the tomatoes, then added them back to the mixture.

Mix in 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 chopped chipotle peppers, 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce, and 3 cups low-salt chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Drain and rinse 1 (15 oz.) can black beans and 1 (15 oz) can small white beans. Add to the chili and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Ladle chili into bowl, and serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!


Good ol' burger and fries

>> Wednesday, January 13, 2010

There's nothing better than a thick and juicy burger paired with a plate of delicious steak fries. Being too cold outside to grill out, I grilled in, so to speak, and whipped up this American favorite to enjoy last night.  Now, everyone knows a burger is the most convenient food to pick up on any street corner from a fast food joint, but, nothing compares to a homemade burger. Plus, if you are watching your diet, it's a much healthier way to enjoy what could otherwise ruin an entire weeks worth of going to the gym.

For a great burger, you need great seasonings.  Maybe some sort of a great sauce to pair with it, and of course, great fries!  For mine, I seasoned my 93% lean ground beef (I like a little bit of fat in mine) with:

A dash of soy sauce and worked it through the meat, steak seasoning, white pepper, and oregano.  Working the meat in a kneading fashion, I incorporated fresh chopped green onions and fresh flat leaf parsley. I topped the meat off with the yolk of one egg, mixed and seperated into two patties.  Into the oven at 350 degrees went the burgers and my attention turned to the steak fries and a delicious bacon to top the burger. 

Cutting a potato lengthwise in half, I cut thick fries out of the potato.  Laying on a cookie sheet drizzled with olive oil, I went to town seasoning the fries. Some salt, pepper, steak seasoning... I'm not really sure what all I tossed on there but I do know they came out delicious.  Alongside my fries, I laid out a few strips of thick peppered bacon. I absolutely love bacon! Covering the cookie sheet with foil, into the oven it went. 

I could smell the bacon cooking up and knew the meal was nearing completion.  I plated my buns, un-toasted at the request of my boyfriend.  Assembling the burger, I started with the meat, then topped with a pepperjack cheese, topped with fresh avocado and sealed with crispy bacon strips.  And the fries.. well, they were just the icing on the cake. Delicious. Nothing beats a good ol' burger and fries. Enjoy!


Lemon and orzo soup

>> Monday, January 11, 2010

For dinner tonight, I decided to make an orzo soup.  Searching recipes, I came across this lemon and orzo combination which sounded delicious. This soup is a creamy and smooth, but lemony and filling.  I thorougly enjoyed it and was just what I needed on this chilly evening. 

To make lemon and orzo soup, you need:

5 cups chicken broth

One 2-inch strip lemon peel and juice of 1 large lemon
1 bay leaf
½ cup orzo
2 large eggs plus 3 large yolks
2 drops hot sauce
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped (a couple of generous handfuls)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Parmesan foccasia bread, for serving
Sour cream


In a soup pot, bring the broth, lemon peel and bay leaf to a boil. Stir in the orzo and boil for 5 minutes. Cover, remove the pan from the heat and let the orzo steep for 5 minutes. Discard the lemon peel and bay leaf.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks, lemon juice and hot sauce. Whisk in ½ cup soup to temper the eggs, then whisk the egg mixture into the soup. Cook on low heat, whisking, for 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley; season with salt and pepper. Serve with foccasia bread and drizzle with sour cream.  Enjoy!


Strawberry frozen yogurt

>> Sunday, January 10, 2010

I had nearly a full carton of strawberries left after this weekend and knew I would let them go to waste during the work week if I didn't find a use for them tonight.  I opted for strawberry frozen yogurt and am so very pleased that I did. A pretty healthy desert for the upcoming week, I have made use of the strawberries in the most delicious way. All you need to make strawberry frozen yogurt is: 

1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled (I had a little less than this but that's ok)
2/3 cup sugar
optional: 2 teaspoons vodka
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt or Greek yogurt (a staple in my house)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Toss in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds for a creamy finish.

Chill for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can place in a metal mixing bowl  in the freezer.  After about 30 minutes, check the ice cream to see if the edges have started to freeze.  If they have (or whenever they do) mix thoroughy. Check and repeat every 30 minutes until the yogurt is frozen and delicious. Enjoy!


Perfect popovers

For breakfast this morninng I baked a tray full of popovers to warm the soul on this continued chilly weekend. Popovers are so comforting when you break into them and all that warm, steamy goodness escapes right before your eyes.

All you need to make popovers is:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing tin
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
This is for a basic popover. I added in white and brown sugar, sage, cinnamon and vanilla to the mixture for a sweet popover.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a popover tin.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and additional spices. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Pour over flour mixture, and fold until just blended.

Fill the popover cups two-thirds to three-quarters full. Transfer tin to oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake until well browned and crusty, about 20 minutes.

Remove popovers from the oven, and unmold onto a rack. Puncture the sides with a sharp knife to let steam escape, brush the tops of the popovers with honey and serve immediately. Enjoy!


Orzo and spinach wrapped chicken

>> Saturday, January 9, 2010

Daunting was the thought I had when I decided to buy a whole chicken to debone into a full sheet of meat which I pictured delicately wrapped around a delicious filled center.  I brought that chicken home anyway, got out a sharp knife, and proceeded to slowly remove the meat from the bird, tracing around the bone structure.  It wasn't until I got to the back of the bird that I realized I should have started in back and worked to the breast.  The meat was too thin to really pull off in one sheet like I had envisioned so I changed directions and removed the two breasts.  Still wonderful, just not what I had set out to do.  So, I had two nice chicken breasts to work with that I hammered out softly to form two smaller sheets.  What was I filling my bird with? Orzo pasta mixed with fresh spinach, scallions and ricotta cheese.  Yes, that's right, pasta.  Unconventional? Maybe. Delicious? Definitely. 

I cooked my orzo for about 10 minutes. Drained and transfered to a large bowl.  I added in the spinach, scallions and ricotta cheese, then seasoned with oregano, salt and pepper.  This completed the delicious spread for the chicken. 

Simply spread a layer of the orzo over the hammered chicken breasts, and roll like a pinwheel.  With cooking twine, bind the wrap to hold it together while cooking.  Place in a baking pan coated with olive oil, season the top with pepper and oregano, then pop in the oven to bake.

As always, when the chicken is nearing cooked, brush with syrup and continue baking for a few minutes. This ensures a nice golden brown finish that is just perfect. Remove from the oven, cut the twine, and serve with mushrooms or any other side of your liking. Enjoy!


Sweet potato ricotta ravioli

>> Friday, January 8, 2010

So I decided to take an evening off from friends and family and hole up in my house to cook, drink some wine and relax. The past few weeks have seemed so hectic with all the parties, the holidays and football games. I needed some me time and have thoroughly enjoyed it. For dinner, I prepared myself a sweet potato ricotta ravioli which was fabulous. I always have bigger eyes than my stomach when it comes to ravioli though. I feel like I need 6 or 8 of them but really after 3 or 4, I'm completely stuffed. Not sure why that is as they are really so small and barely have any filling. Anyhow, I had never made ravioli from scratch and since that is my theme lately, I decided to attempt it. I didn't really have a recipe to work from but I will outline the steps I took to create this great little dish.

First, I made my ravioli filling. To make sweet potato ricotta ravioli filling you need:

1 large sweet potato
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Skin the sweet potato, cut into small chunks and chop in a food processor until nearly pureed. Heat the butter and EVOO in a large skillet and add in sweet potatos and brown sugar and sautee. After the potatoes are cooked softened and tasty, turn off the stove and let cool.

Now, moving on to the pasta dough. You need to make a basic dough and will need:

2 large eggs
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
A dash of rubbed sage
A pinch of salt
A splash of water

Mix with either a pastry whisk or a blender fitted with a pastry attachment the above ingredients until a dough ball forms. If needed, slowly sprinkle additional flour into the mixture as you are blending together to form the ball.

Knead the ball of dough on a floured countertop then either roll by hand to a very thin layer or run through a pasta machine. Cut into a rectangle approximately 5 inches deep and however wide you can make it.

Back to the filling, transfer the potato filling to a bowl and add in ricotta cheese. Fold together then transfer to a pastry bag.

In a small bowl, make up a quick egg wash with one egg and a splash of water, whisked together. Lightly brush the egg wash over the surface of the pasta dough and dab the filling in a straight row of dots about 1/5 inches apart from each other. You want the filling to be 3/4 of the way from the bottom of the dough. Fold the dough over top the filling and gently, but firmly press the dough all around each filling to seal the individual ravioli. Careful not to tear the tops. Cut between the filling to seperate the ravioli and trip off any excess from the edges.

In a large boiling pot of water, add a dash of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Add in, one by one, the ravioli and let cook for approximately 10 minutes.

While the ravioli are cooking, you will need to make the sage and brown butter sauce.

In a sauce pan, melt 4 tablespoons butter and add in approximately 1 cup brown sugar. Stirring, dissolve the sugar and add in a teaspoon of sage and a pinch of salt. Keep stirring and add a dash of cinnamon. Splash with a bit of water to thin out the sugar sauce just a bit and continue cooking over medium-low heat.

Once the ravioli are done, spoon the sage and brown sugar sauce over top and serve immediately. Enjoy!


Tomato and arugula salad

>> Wednesday, January 6, 2010

For a fresh and simple idea, try a tomato and arugula salad.  So fresh, yet spicy and perfectly filling when you are needing a quick meal.  To pull this together for your own enjoyment, you need:

Roma tomatoes
Red onion
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegarette
Feta cheese crumbles
Cracked pepper and salt

Cut your tomatoes into one inch pieces and toss in a large bowl.  Thinly slice the red onion and shallot and pull apart the layers into strings.  Cut into half moons and toss into the salad bowl.  Chop a handful of fresh arugula and mix in with the salad and drizzle with vinegarette and olive oil. Crack fresh pepper and salt over top and toss to coat the salad. 

Plate and serve with a handful of crumbled feta cheese.  Enjoy!


Pizza from scratch

>> Monday, January 4, 2010

Tonight I made my very first pizza from scratch. That's right.. I said from scratch.  I had never dared to make my own pizza dough but found it was actually pretty simple and completely delicious. To add to the pizza making experience, I broke out my brand new baking stone that my older brother bought me for Christmas and loved the outcome of the crispy crust.  To make the dough, I bought yeast that is specically formulated for pizza. This made the process a little shorter as there was no waiting time for the dough to rise.

To get started, if you are using a baking stone, place the stone on the bottom rack of the cold oven and pre-heat to 500 degrees. While the stone and oven and heating up, make the dough. To do this, all you need is:

1 3/4 to 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope Fleischmann's Pizza Yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/4 cup very warm tap water
3 tablespoons oil

Combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add water and oil. Mix together until well blended using a pastry whisk.

Add gradually, 1/2 cup flour until soft dough ball is formed; will be slightly sticky.  Add additional flour if needed to form the dough ball.

Knead on a floured surface adding additional flour if needed, until smooth and elastic; about 4 minutes.  With floured hands, press dough out or roll dough to a 12-inch circle and transfer to a floured flat surface which can easily transfer the pizza to the baking stone in the oven.

Top your pizza dough with oregano then spread a thin layer of your favorite marinera sauce.  Add your selection of toppings (I used large pepporoni, kalamata olives, chopped green onions, slices cremini mushrooms, and a hint of black garlic). Top the pie off with enough cheese to cover all the toppings (I use mozzarella). Add a sprinkling of oregano to the top if desired.

Carefully transfer the pizza to the pre-heated oven onto the baking stone. This part was a little tricky but if you tip your pan or wooden transfer to about 20 degrees and sharply jerk, the pie should slide off and transfer to the baking stone. Again, make sure you flour the interim surface so this transfer process is easy.

Lower the oven temperature to 475 degrees and bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until you feel the pizza is done. Enjoy!



There was an error in this gadget

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP