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!



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