Sunday, November 29, 2009

Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Shells with Brown Butter Sage Sauce


I know I've declared my love for brown butter sage sauce before...but if I could just take this moment to reiterate HOW MUCH I LOVE IT. Okay moving on, I realize it is not the healthiest of options, but hey, we're in that magical month between Thanksgiving and Christmas where you can eat whatever you want, right (or am I the only one that subscribes to this philosophy)?

I saw these guys on Lime in the Cocunut, who originally saw them on the Proud Italian Cook. Sadly, neither of their delicious looking posts had recipes with measurements, and you can see that my shells came out looking a bit different than theirs.

From the looks of it, it seems I added a bit less parmesan (oh - and now I just realized I didn't add the egg from PIC's recipe either!) than they did, although I must say, these were still incredibly delicious and I have no regrets!


Adapted from Proud Italian Cook

Ingredients

8 pasta shells
1/2 butternut squash
1/2 bag fresh spinach
1 garlic clove (minced)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup ricotta
pinch nutmeg
salt
pepper
olive oil
1/2 stick butter
6 - 8 sage leaves

*Dice the butternut squash and roast at 425 for 15 - 20 minutes or until tender, tossed in olive oil, salt & pepper

*Cook the shells to al dente

*Meanwhile, saute the fresh spinach with olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper until cooked down.

*In a bowl, combine butternut squash and spinach and blend using an immersion blender

*Mix in the parmesan and ricotta cheese

*Spoon the mixture onto the cooked shells and put back into the oven (no need to adjust temp) for about 15 minutes, until heated through.

*While shells are cooking, make the brown butter sage sauch (melt the butter in a pan with the sage, allow butter to brown and sage to get crispy)

*Spoon the sauce over the cooked shells and serve.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Broken LG Dishwasher : (

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile - but its been rather difficult to maneuver in our kitchen lately due to our dishwasher acting up.
After several repair calls, we've come to the conclusion that our (not even two year old LG model LDFL7811ST) is definitely terminal. Instead of pumping any more money into repairs - we've decided to buy a new one...any recommendation (NOT and LG!)???

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cheesy, Bacony Potato Soup

As the weather starts getting colder, nothing beats making a big pot of soup and letting it simmer on the stove all day.

In our house, I can never go wrong with cheese, bacon and potato combinations : )

And while I wouldn't dare call this soup healthy, this method of cooking it is a nice way to get a thick, velvety texture without the traditional method of making a rue. I suppose if you forgo the bacon and cheese topping you could call it healthy, but I'm not sure its worth it.

Potato Soup

Soup:
4 russet potatoes
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup milk or cream
1 tsp garlic powder
salt, pepper (season to taste)

Toppings
4 - 6 strips bacon, chopped and cooked till crispy
Shredded cheddar cheese
3 - 4 scallions, chopped

* Cube the potatoes, and add to a pan with the chicken stock. The chicken stock should completely cover them, if it does not add water. Add a dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder and bring to a boil.

* Turn down to medium-low heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked thoroughly. Turn off heat.

* With an immersion blender (if you do not have one, you can transfer this to a regular blender) blend the soup until the potatoes are thoroughly incorporated and you a smooth consistency

* Add the milk and heat till simmering

* Serve and top with cheese, bacon and scallions



Pumpkin Bread & I discovered the macro setting on my camera!!!

So this time of year, there are no shortage of pumpkin bread posts - but I just had to share this one because it was while I was taking the photos that I finally discovered the macro setting on my camera. I'm really not sure why it took me this long, every photo tutorial I read for food photography says to use it. I think I just assumed that I already was or my camera didn't have it.

Regardless, I am really jazzed about being able to actually show you my food up close (however I have some very blurry pictures of our friends tailgating the next day, I'll have to show Joe how to switch it back to people mode : ). The last few entries I have used it, but I felt like this was a really good example of how you can see the detail of the bread.

Although this bread was super delicious, this is a very bittersweet post for me, as our Jack Russell Terrier was the one who really got to enjoy it. After Joe and I were able to enjoy a slice each, Molly jumped on the counter and treated herself to the rest of it.

I highly recommend making this bread, and keeping it away from your dog!



Pumpkin Nut Loaf
Source: Good things Catered


Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/3 c. milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. chopped walnuts, plus more for topping

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare loaf pan (or mini loaf pans)
-In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, powder, salt, spices and whisk to combine.
-In large bowl of mixer beat oil, butter and sugars until creamy until lightened in color and texture, about 3 minutes.
-Beat in eggs one at a time.
-Add pumpkin puree and beat until combined; scrape down sides of bowl.
-Add milk and vanilla and beat until combined; scrape down sides of bowl.
-With mixer on lowest setting, add flour mixture just until barely combined.
-Remove bowl from mixer and fold in 1 c. walnuts.
-Scrape batter into pan(s) and spread evenly.
-Top with extra chopped walnuts and place into oven.
-Bake about until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour for regular loaf and 35-40 minutes for mini loaf.
-Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 20 minutes.
-Turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beer Bread


While I've been getting more confident with baking since I started my blog, bread has always been something that's intimidated me. The other day though, I got a craving out of nowhere for beer bread. My (irish) Grammy used to make it when we were growing up.

I found a recipe online with lots of good reviews and sounded pretty simple - it actually was super easy, I was surprised! This bread was so delicious, moist and sweet.

I did add cheese in the bread as you can kind of see from the pictures. Actually a question for all you bread bakers out there - I wanted to add the cheese on top of the bread but didn't think that I could put it on top right away because I thought with an hour of baking time it might burn.

I went to add it halfway through but the top was already too crusted to make the cheese stick. Joe helped me do some surgery and sliced through the top layer of bread and put the cheese in the middle. It actually worked out fine but I would have preferred to put it on top.

So - is it okay to put the cheese on top for the whole baking processes?

Beer Bread


Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine)


Directions


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Mix dry ingredients and beer.
  • Pour into a greased loaf pan.
  • Pour melted butter over mixture.
  • Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes




Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimp and Pancetta

In case you didn't know - there is a pumpkin shortage this fall. If you want a little hint on where to find it, higher end stores like Whole Foods seemed to be pretty well stocked on organic canned pumpkin. You'll pay a little more for it, but hey what's fall without pumpkin?
Pumpkin in hand, I wanted to make a savory dish and found this risotto recipe via Tastespotter.
I really just used that recipe for inspiration and decided to do shrimp instead of crab and add pancetta. The pancetta was a great addition, the saltiness of it was a great contrast with the sweetness of the cinnamon in the pumpkin.
This was a delicious, one dish meal that I will definitely be making again!
Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimp and Pancetta
1 cup arrabrio rice
olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
salt
pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
8 - 12 pieces shrimp
4 strips pancetta
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in heavy bottomed pan and saute the onion about 5 - 10 minutes over medium heat with salt and pepper to season.
Add the rice, cinnamon and cloves and allow rice to brown slightly. Reduce the heat to low and add the wine and let simmer until all the liquid is gone. Then add one cup of the chicken stock, one cup at a time, cooking until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup (about 30 - 40 minutes total). While the risotto is cooking, brown the pancetta in a separate pan and set aside, reserving the grease in the pan.
Cook the shrimp (seasoned with salt and pepper) in the same pan as the pancetta, about 3 minutes on each side. If not enough grease in the pan add a bit of olive oil. Once the last cup of stock is almost absorbed, add the pumpkin, shrimp and cheese and mix to combine. Top with the pancetta and serve.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Marathon/Anniversary Party

This weekend, we had a lot to celebrate. Sunday was our first anniversary and after heading back from Cleveland where we celebrated my cousin's wedding, we had a post marathon party for two good friends who ran the Chicago marathon on Sunday .


Since my friend Melissa put off her marathon plans for a whole year in order to attend our wedding, I figured it was the least I could do to support her. When I asked her what she would want to eat post - race, her immediate reply was "Cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake."



Not wanting to disappoint, I planned a menu around her request (apologies in advance for the lack of "recipes" in this post, but its pretty basic stuff and kind of self explanatory) :

Sliders

Italian Sliders: Fried pancetta, mozzarella cheese, tomato, basil and pesto

Americana Sliders: American cheese, tomato and onion

Swiss Sliders: Swiss cheese, sauteed onions and mushrooms & truffle aioli

French Fries with Dipping sauces


Honey Mustard: Equal parts honey and whole grain dijon mustard

Truffle Aioli: Mayo, a tiny bit of truffle oil, lemon juice (about 1 tsp), dijon mustard (about 1 tbsp), whisked together with olive oil drizzled in until desired consistency

Rosemary Garlic Ai0li: Similar method as above, mayo, dijon mustard, lemon juice, rosemary, garlic (minced very fine) and olive oil drizzled in while whisking

Pesto: Basic pesto recipe

Fries: Russet potatoes cut into slices, tossed in olive oil and seasonings. Baked at 400 degrees until cooked through and then broiled until crispy.

(Again, I did not really measure as I was making the sauces but just keep tasting till you get it right)


Milkshake Martinis


Made with mint chocolate chip ice cream and vanilla vodka!


Joe helped out by making one of his famous cheese balls, and (reluctantly) allowing our friends to share the top layer of our wedding cake.

Congrats Melissa & Lindsey on finishing the race!!! I'm going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for being a super spectator and making it to five different spots along the race - I'm exhausted : )



Monday, October 5, 2009

German Chocolate "Thank You" Cupcakes


I've previously made this in cake form, and have been visualizing these cupcakes in my mind ever since just waiting for the opportunity to make them.

Luckily, someone did Joe and I a HUGE favor, so of course we owed them baked goods. Once I confirmed that said person was a fan of German chocolate cake, I got down to business.



I made these using the same recipe as the cake (omitting the syrup), baked the cakes for 20 minutes and decorated just like you would the cake.

These were slightly less time consuming than the cake but not much. I was really pleased with the way they came out, this is a fun, more portable way of making one of the most delicious cakes ever!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spicy Pumpkin Soup


My friend Melissa told me about this recipe from Hungry Girl last year and I've been waiting for cooler weather to make it. Well its not quite cool, but it is September, I wore a jean jacket today and footballs on, so as far as I'm concerned, its time for pumpkin stuff. I think I'm in good company too, since I've seen quite a bit of pumpkin popping up on blogs the last week or two. This is likely to be the first of many pumpkin recipes over the next month on here.

I haven't tried pumpkin much in savory dishes, but this recipe did not disappoint. It actually was surprisingly similar to chili, but with the rich pumpkin flavor it was so delicious. Pumpkin is a fantastic way to make a soup rich and creamy without adding a lot of fat.

I altered the recipe slightly from Hungry Girl, namely adding double the amount of pumpkin to the soup. I think this really contributed to the rich creamy texture so I recommend making the same change.

Also, the original recipe called for a tablespoon of chili powder for a serving of 4. I like my food spicy, but that seemed like a ridiculous amount so I only added a teaspoon and thought it was well flavored.

I will definitely make this again, and the only other thing I would change would be to try it with a pinch of cinnamon in it.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
4 cups Fat Free broth (chicken or vegetable)
28 oz. can pure pumpkin
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn
3/4 cup salsa
Optional toppings: shredded reduced-fat or fat-free cheese, and reduced-fat or fat free sour cream

Directions:
Heat olive oil in soup pan. Add garlic, salt and pepper and saute for a few minutes. Then add chili powder and cumin, and stir for one minute. Add broth to the spices, and bring to a simmer. Add pumpkin and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. This soup can be served with a sprinkle of cheese and a little fat free sour cream on top. Serves 6

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mango & Jalapeno Shrimp Kebabs


As the summer is winding down (er...actually we are finally getting the weather we should have been getting in July...but technically its not summer anymore), I feel like I've exhausted mango salsa in our little household. I just have a really hard time NOT buying mango from the grocery store though because they are ONLY $1!!!

So I was trying to think of a different way to use it and decided to do kebabs. I love the taste of grilled pineapple so thought that grilling the mango along with jalapeno marinated shrimp would be a great combination (Jalapeno compliments of our herb garden!).

I served it over a bed of rice with black beans, cilantro and lime. The creaminess of the rice and sweetness of the mango were a great compliment to the spicy shrimp.



Mango & Jalapeno Shrimp Kebabs

12 shrimp
1/2 jalapeno (finely diced)
1 mango
1 lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt
pepper

*Combine the juice of the lime with olive oil in bowl. Add the jalapeno, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

*Toss the shrimp in the mixture and let marinate 30 minutes.

*Skewer the mango an shrimp, alternating.

*Grill on a hot grill, about 4 minutes on each side.

*Serve over a bed of rice. For the rice I just followed basic rice cooking directions, and added 1/2 can of black beans, cilantro and lime juice at the end.

Very tasty and healthy meal - enjoy!

Spaghetti with Chicken, Grape Tomatoes, Basil and Parmesan


I found this recipe on a Weight Watchers blog that I just discovered. I don't actually do Weight Watchers, but am always looking for healthy delicious recipes. This blog is chock full of them.

This also looked like a great way to use up some of my basil plant, other than making pesto. Our tiny city balcony doubles as an herb garden in the summer and has been very good to us - especially the basil plant.


So sad to think that this same amount of basil will cost me $3.99 in the winter.



Onto the recipe though, this was such a light and refreshing summer time meal. Also, I didn't tell Joe until AFTER that it was a Weight Watchers recipe : )

I followed the recipe from Gina's blog closely, however it is a possibility that I added a tiny bit more olive oil than this called for ; )


Almond Crusted Salmon with Lemon Leek Sauce

Salmon is one of my routine pick ups from the grocery store each week. While it is so versatile and I love experimenting with new receipes for it, it is easy to end up thinking of salmon the same way you do as chicken. You have it so much that you feel like you've exhausted every possible way of making it.

Enter, a new recipe and new ingredients. I would never think of combining salmon and leeks in a dish, but I found this fabulous recipe on Good Things Catered.

I have made this recipe twice now and been pleased with the outcome both times.

I did make two healthier substitutions to the recipe; 1) Used olive oil instead of butter (for the sauce and the crust) and 2) used 1% milk instead of heavy cream.

Still delicious!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DIY Sushi

Mmmm....sushi.

So during my blogging hiatus, my brother made sushi for my mom one weekend while she was in town. I started taking pictures and convinced him to do a guest spot on my blog.

I finally got the slacker to come over and do it.

Here he is!


Hello! Thanks to the Melonhead for giving me a guest spot here.

If you're anything like me you know what it is like to be addicted to raw fish, especially salmon. You'll get a sushi craving one day and absolutely nothing else will do for dinner. The only problem being that it's an easy $20/person + tip for delivery to get your 'fix'. I was eventually fed up with spending that type of money on a regular basis and decided it was time to learn to make it for myself. As a disclaimer I have never taken an actual sushi class but have just picked up on how to make it from the friendly staff at my fish store. My method is what amounts to a very serviceable way of making sushi for yourself and is by no means the final word on the craft.

Let's get started...
The most important thing about sushi is the fish. Duh. But really, you need to get fish that is very fresh. Grocery store fish is not going to cut it. You'll have to scout out your area to find a fish market that gets daily deliveries and hopefully is fanatical about their trade. For those of you in the Chi I can recommend Dirk's, on Clybourn in between Fullerton and Armitage. They get fresh deliveries 6 days a week. These are also the aforementioned friendly staff that helped me get started.

The Rice:
Use some type of fancy rice here. Actual sushi rice is obviously great. I like to use Jasmine rice. Before cooking it rinse the rice a few times with water to get rid of residual white stuff. Bring to a boil 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice. Simmer for 15 minutes. Don't take the lid off once you start simmering. Some rice will stick to the pan but that's what we want here, that being said make a little extra to account for what will be lost.

Get a pan going on the side with 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons salt for every cup of rice. Bring this concoction to a slow boil and stir until everything is dissolved in. Turn off the burner and cool. Once the rice is done, continue to simmer until it has absolutely soaked up all the water, dump into a large wooden bowl. Stir in the rice vinegar concoction. ***You do not have to add all the vinegar mix, do this step according to taste*** I personally do not use the full amount recommended. 1/3 cup is kind of the minimal amount of vinegar you need to coat the bottom of a pan. It's also the recipe I got online but like I said I think it's too much for 1 cup of rice, too vinegary. Spread the rice out on wax paper to cool.

Prep:

While the rice is cooking start prepping the fish. Cut that salmon all delicious looking like in the picture above. I guess two and a half inches by one inch is a good estimate for our nigiri pieces. For rolls we're cutting cubes, maybe 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch and as long as possible. Tuna is another staple of sushi and I recommend some nigiri pieces of that as well. Fresh yellowfin tuna will have a nice rich, dark red color to it. You will need to skin the salmon and you'll need a sharp knife to do so. If you ask nicely perhaps your fish market will do it for you. If you're doing this at home be patient. Flip the salmon over, skin side up, and start working the knife under the layer of skin. Keep peeling back the skin as you go. You will want to get rid of the skin and the pink to reddish layer in between the skin and the orange salmon meat.

This would be a good time to say that you want a large, sharp knife for this ordeal. I give my knife a good sharpening every time right before making sushi. It helps to peel the fish, cut it cleanly and to cut the rolls at the end without squishing them down.

You can prep your fixings for the rolls at this time as well. Avocado and seedless cucumber are a must. Cut the avocado into long cubes. Skin the seedless cucumber and cut into long strips. A good spicy mayo is important. Dirk's makes their own and sells squeeze bottles so I'm not much help at the moment but there are plenty of recipes online to make your own. I also have some Hichimi Togarashi on-hand which is a blend of hot spices commonly used in making spicy sushi rolls. If your fish store caters to the do-it-yourself sushi crowd they will likely sell this as well. These basic ingredients have been enough for me so far.

Rolling:
Take your sheet of Nori (seaweed) and spread the cooled (still somewhat warm is a good thing, just not hot anymore) rice out on it with a spoon. This step will likely try your patience the most. You need to be careful not to rip the seaweed as you spread this sticky rice out onto it. I recommend prepping a few sheets at once and keeping them to the side so that you can make your rolls all at once without this time consuming step in between each one. For your first time I recommend cutting the nori in half for rolls that are easier to roll up as they are only half as long. The picture above uses this approach.

For the next step cheat. Take a piece of cling wrap and cover your bamboo mat with it. Hold it together on the backside with a piece of tape. This will really help avoid any disasters if you decide to give the inside-out roll a try (rice on the outside).

Lay your ingredients along the length of the roll. Cube-like lengths of fish, cube-like lengths of avocado, strips of seedless cucumber, whatever else you want. Add any spices or spicy mayo. I usually do a basic spicy tuna roll with the spice mix, spicy mayo, the seedless cucumber and an absurd amount of tuna. I always make the basic Alaskan roll as well, avocado and salmon. Again with lots of salmon, way more than you'd get in a restaurant, this is one of the reasons we are doing this at home. From there feel free to mix it up with whatever combinations of fish and fixings you want. I like to mix in yellow tail fish with tuna, avocado, cucumber and spicy mayo for a roll. Another good one is salmon, avocado, the spice mix and cubes of mango. The hot/sweet mix along with the salmon is becoming a new favorite roll of mine.

Now, carefully make the all important first turn. You don't need to get all the ingredients inside that first flip but they should all be rolled up after two full turns. You only get about 2 and a half or three full turns before the roll is complete.


Wrap the bamboo mat around the completed roll and give it some gentle pressure to firm it up. Remove to a cutting board and gently slice it up. Slide the knife underneath the sliced roll and transfer to a serving plate.


Nigiri pieces are easy, you just need to be okay with having your hands covered in sticky rice. Simply take some of the sticky rice and work it around in your palms to create a little ball of rice, smaller than the strips of fish you are about to lay on top of it. Place the fish on top and yep, it's that easy.

Serving:

Chop sticks are optional but soy sauce is a must. Serve a small dish/bowl on the side for everyone. Dip your nigiri pieces and individual roll slices into the soy sauce. Edamame makes a great appetizer or side. You can pick up a bag of this in the frozen food aisle. Ability to work a microwave is all that is required to make it. You may also garnish your rolls and nigiri with pickled ginger and wasabi if you're into that sort of stuff. Pickled ginger is bought as is and wasabi is bought as a powder that you add water to. You end up with a paste that basically amounts to green horseradish. Some people like to add a little bit to every bite to kick up the spiciness.


So there you have it! Pour a glass of wine, sharpen that knife and bring your patience with you. I have found making sushi to be an enjoyable experience. You are guaranteed big, fat rolls with tons of fresh fish at a price that is less than that of any restaurant. Start small, making it for one or two and after practice you'll feel good about making sushi for a small crowd.

Finally, I've never liked that standard recipe format where they list all the ingredients at the beginning. It makes the recipe seem more like work and less like fun to me. So, I've highlighted as I've gone along all the ingredients and materials that I covered here. They are listed below for your reference:

Bamboo mat
Cling wrap
Tape

Sharp, large knife

Salmon
Yellowfin Tuna
Yellowtail

Nori (seaweed)
Avocado
Seedless Cucumber
Mango
Spicy mayo
Hichimi togarashi spice mix

Rice, fancy rice
Rice vinegar
Sugar
Salt

Soy sauce
Pickled ginger
Wasabi

Edamame

Lemon Rosemary Chicken & Tomato, Basil and Mozeralla Risotto

This was a "clean plate club" kind of meal. Growing up with 4 siblings, we were always in a contest to be the first one to join the "clean plate club". Come to think of it, I'm not sure why we cared so much, since we rarely had dessert, I don't think there was any real incentive to clean our plates. I'm always amazed looking back at how my parents managed to keep all five of us in line.

But I digress...I had my brother over for dinner the other night, and this meal was soooo delicious, it was one of those where you literally leave no trace of the meal on your plate.

The inspiration for the chicken came from Annie's Eat's Lemon Thyme Chicken. I thought this looked soooo good, but decided to use rosemary instead, since we have a bunch of it growing on our tiny balcony urban herb garden.





While I used all the same ingredients from Annie's recipe, I didn't follow the exact process, since Joe was messing around with our internet connection while I was trying to make dinner, I couldn't access the recipe.

So here was my version (pretty much the same as Annie's, except I took the chicken out of the pan once cooked and kept warm while I made the sauce. I also added the rosemary to the flour. Oh and I used chicken stock. Never mind, more different than I thought):


Rosemary Chicken
Adapted from Annie's Eat's

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup flour
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2/3 cup dry white wine
Juice of ½ a large lemon (or the juice of 1 whole lemon, if desired)
2-3 tablespoons butter
1 cup of chicken stock


* Heat up the oil in a pan

* Add the rosemary, salt and pepper to the flour. Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour and add to the pan.

* Cook the chicken until done, about 5 minutes on each side. Set aside to keep warm

* To the pan, add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.

* Add the wine & lemon juice and cook a few minutes till reduced. Add the chicken stock and let reduce and thicken. Add the butter to finish the sauce.

Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Risotto

Basic Risotto recipe

Use white wine & chicken broth as liquids

Add halved cherry tomatoes, basil & mozerella about 5 minutes before the risotto is done.

That's it!



Clean plate club!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cilantro & Lime Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa



One thing I've been making a lot of this summer is mango salsa. I love how well it goes with chicken and really any type of seafood. Usually I make it with avocado, but switched things up tonight since 1) the avocado I had was not ripe enough and 2) our jalapeno plant has finally produced!

I was worried that it would be too spicy and powerful, but the balance with the mango was perfect.

Lime and Cilantro Grilled Shrimp

12 pieces shrimp
1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
1 handful cilantro leaves - chopped
salt
pepper

Whisk together the juice from the lime, olive oil, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Add the shrimp and let marinade up to a half hour.

Grill shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Mango Salsa

1 mango - chopped
1/2 jalapeno - diced finely
10 cherry tomatoes - chopped
1 scallion - chopped
1 handful cilantro leaves - chopped
1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
salt

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, squeezing the lime juice over.

Let chill in the fridge for at least a half hour to allow to the flavors to marry.


Assemble the tacos, adding ingredients as desired. I added black beans and a little bit of cheese.

Very, very healthy and tasty summer meal - enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mediterranean Grilled Tuna Steaks & Sicilian Potato Salad - Oh, and I'm back!

Okay no more excuses...poor little neglected blog. Work has been back to normal for some time, summer is winding down. I'm back and promise to have more updates soon!

This dinner was soooo good I couldn't put off blogging for one more day!


I've had this recipe marked in an Every Day with Rachael Ray since last summer - I should have tried it sooner. These flavors are right up my alley and such a refreshing summer time meal.

I followed the original recipe closely, omitting the capers and anchovy paste - Joe wouldn't go near it with either of those ingredients. The potato salad still had an abundance of flavor, and the lemon was so refreshing.

I also added some minced garlic to the rosemary before rubbing on the tuna steaks.

Mediterranean Grilled Tuna Steaks & Sicilian Potato Salad
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for drizzling
  • Four tuna steaks (6 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus 2 teaspoons grated peel
  • Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped







  • In a large saucepan, add the potatoes and cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, add salt and cook the potatoes until just tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain and return to the saucepan.

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, ladle potato cooking water over the sun-dried tomatoes. Let soak for 10 minutes; drain and thinly slice.

    Pre-heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Drizzle EVOO over the tuna, sprinkle with the rosemary and lemon peel and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together the 1/3 cup EVOO, lemon juice, anchovy paste and garlic. Toss with the potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, celery, olives, capers and parsley.

    Grill the tuna for 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Serve with the potato salad.




    Sunday, May 3, 2009

    Belated German Chocolate Birthday Cake






    Dear Blog,

    I'm soo sorry I haven't written in awhile.  Its just that work has been so crazy, and while I am still cooking a lot, I just haven't had time to upload photos and stuff like that.

    I promise...I'll never go this long again.

    Love,

    Mel


    Ahem....okay now that I have that out of the way.  I really have been working non-stop, and while my wonderful husband is cooking dinner for us tonight, I am taking advantage by uploading pictures of the German Chocolate Cake I made him for his birthday last week.



    Okay, the post is belated, the cake was not.  I haven't been that busy!

    So when I asked Joe what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday he said he wanted German Chocolate cake and I happily agreed.  Umm...this is kind of a difficult cake to make I had no idea.  Difficult in that there are a lot of different steps and very time consuming (it took me 3 solid hours from beginning to end).

    That aside - it is SO WORTH the effort.  This cake is so rich, moist and delicious.  

    I used this recipe from David Lebovitz's blog.  His recipe was fantastic - the only change I would make the next time is to the icing.  It didn't thicken up like it should have.  I'm not sure if I did something wrong, but I would probably use the chocolate ganache recipe from Smitten Kitchen that I used for my Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, since I didn't have any problems with that recipe.

    I ended up adding powdered sugar to get it to thicken.

    Still, everything was fantastic and I can't wait to make this again.

    Actually, maybe I'll ask Joe to make it for my birthday : )

    Sunday, April 12, 2009

    Easter baking: Egg Shaped Cakes and Pretty Pastel cupcakes

    Help!!!!! I've started baking and I can't stop!!!!!

    Okay, if you follow my blog, you know that baking is a relatively new concept for me. I get so much inspiration from other blogs though, it has really encouraged me to do more of it.

    Since Joe and I stayed in the city for Easter and didn't have a lot planned, I found myself baking on multiple occasions this weekend!



    It started on Friday night, I decided to whip up some cupcakes and make a bunch of different pastel colors for the frosting.



    I used the much raved about Hershey Chocolate Cupcake recipe (let me tell you, this is my go-to chocolate cake recipe now!) and just a standard buttercream frosting.

    Since it was just Joe and I, logically I only made a dozen cupcakes. Uh yeah, I was seriously regretting that decision 24 hours later, after we had an impromptu dinner party (Joe got his Omaha steak order on Friday and we had to share!) but only had one cupcake left! Yeah, you do the math, but the two of us took down quite a few cupcakes.

    Anyway, Joe caught me sneaking the last cupcake into the bedroom while our friends were still over because I was "too tired" to play another game of Yahtzee. Bad host!

    So because we didn't get enough sweets, I decided to make these egg shaped cakes for us on Sunday.

    I found this via Tastespotting.com on The Kitchen. This was such an easy process to follow, thanks to the step-by-step pics on the Kitchen.

    I was pretty impressed with my novice carving technique!



    So I took the author's suggestion on recipes and used Lemon Poundcake from Gale Gand and Swiss Buttercream from Smitten Kitchen for the egg coating and a basic buttercream for the decorations.

    OH. MY. GOD. SWISS BUTTERCREAM.

    This stuff is amazing! I re-read SK's post a few times before deciding I was brave enough to attempt this. It really was not that difficult, her tutorial is very helpful, and this was just delicous.

    I am a big frosting fan and when I tasted this I realized it was my favorite frosting, I just never knew what it was called! If you don't like super sweet, immediately feel like you need to brush your teeth frostings, you have to try this, it is truly amazing.

    Decorating these was so much fun and I was quite pleased with the result.

    Happy Easter!