Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mushroom Truffled Risotto...and a little experiment

So for the most part, Joe loves my cooking (I think!) and I know is super grateful that I take the time and effort to make nice meals for him.

However, I know as soon as I've crossed the line for "too fancy". It usually ends in me loving what I made and Joe saying "Mel, you know I'm just a meat and potatoes guy". Sometimes I think that he makes up his mind before he tries it, so I've been trying to not tell him too much about the dish first, to see if he'll give it a fair shake (see my
whole wheat spaghetti experiment).

For our New Year's Eve party, I made Truffled Mushroom Pasta, that I thought was divine, but he didn't like. I was convinced that as soon as he heard there was truffle oil in it, he decided not to even give it a chance.

So the other night I made Mushroom Risotto and wanted to add truffle oil since I paid $15 for the damn bottle of it. I make mushroom risotto all the time and he usually loves it. I didn't tell him that there was truffle oil in it to see if he even noticed.

Well, experiment = FAIL.

He really didn't like it! Oh well, now I know he doesn't like truffle oil for sure. I just hope he's not too afraid to eat my mushroom risotto again. For the record, I thought it was delicious, if you like the taste of truffles!

The recipe I used is based off of my b
asic risotto recipe, and just add about a half a tsp of truffle oil.

Shrimp Linguine with Creamy Tomato Sauce

So this dish is loosely based on Giada's
Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce, "loosely" because I searched for a recipe last night before I made it, and had to use what I had on hand, so this is HEAVILY substituted.

It came out ABSOLUTELY delicious though!

The substitutions I made were:
Linguine for penne
Tomato sauce for whole tomatoes
Shredded mozeralla for parmesean


Clam juice

This was so good, I definitely am going to make it again (maybe with all the right ingredients). I have leftovers today - minus the shrimp of course, microwaving seafood at work is my #1 pet peeve!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pasta al Forno

Another good one from Rachel Ray! This dish was so delicious, the cinnamon gives it a really deep, rich flavor. I enjoyed leftovers for a couple of days from this one.

I followed the original recipe pretty closely, but had to substitute bacon for the prosciutto (I had some leftover from another dish but I waited to long to use it and it didn't smell quite right!), so I added the bacon at the beginning with the onions and garlic and used less olive oil for that part.

I also added fresh basil, which worked well with the flavors.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Woo-hoo I got an award!

Thanks so much to Erica at Erica's Kitchen Adventures for my first award!

And of course there are some rules that come attached to this great award:

- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate 10 other (refreshing…like lemonade) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

So here are my 'nominees':

Lime in The Coconut
Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations
The Way the Cookie Crumbles
Vintage Victuals

Food alla Puttanesca

Heather Drive
Cookies on Friday
Lemons and Love
Erin's Food Files
Reservations not Required

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chocolate Cheese Pots with Apple Slices

I've been making a real effort to cook a little lighter this year, so found this from my Cook's Library - Low Fat Cookbook. I had some leftover ricotta cheese so decided to give it a whirl.

I ended up using chocolate syrup instead of chocolate powder and adding more powdered sugar than they called for (it was a little too tangy) so it probably ended up higher in calories than originally anticipated, but still very healthy and still very tasty!

My measurements reflect what I added to make it sweeter.


serves 4

1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
2/3 cup low fat plain yogurt
4 tbsp confectioner's sugar
4 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp dark rum
2 egg whites
fresh fruit for serving

- Mix the cheese and yogurt in a bowl, with the confectioner's sugar, both chocolates, vanilla extract and rum.

- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture

- Pour them into your serving bowls and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes * - I actually put them in the freezer for 15 minutes and they were great that way!

- Serve with fruit slices.

Salmon over Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Spinach

Another super healthy salmon recipe! Got this one from my girl Giada and it turned out great!

I followed the recipe pretty closely, however I did add a tiny bit of freshly grated parmesan to the pasta. I am definitely making this one again, and when I do, I will probably wilt the spinach a little bit before plating. I thought it would wilt more than it did from the pasta being placed on top of it then it did.

I was really worried about Joe liking whole wheat spaghetti so I didn't even mention it at first. He loved the whole meal and as he was finishing up his last bite, he asked me what I did to make the noodles brown : )

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Coconut Crusted Shrimp

So, I had some shrimp I wanted to make the other night, and was just going to go with our standard, shrimp scampi, but I had no fresh lemons and didn't want to open my last bottle of white wine (we had cases of leftover booze from our wedding in October and after all the entertaining we've been doing our supply is nearing its end).

I started thinking and remembered that I had leftover coconut from holiday baking and the lightbulb went off! I found this recipe on and it was actually pretty easy. I don't really fry all that much and was worried the batter will fall off in the process but it turned out great!

Had I planned this advance, I probably would have made some kind of dipping sauce to go with it, we just used cocktail sauce.

Potato Risotto

I know, I know! There's no rice in this risotto! Well, I actually learned a few years ago from the Food Network (where else?) - I believe it was Michael Chiarello - that risotto actually means to cook slowly, and that you can actually use different types of food than rice to make it (cauliflower is another example).

Since I'd mastered the rice version and make it quite often, I thought I'd give the potatoes a whirl. The recipe I came up with is pretty basic, and is cooked pretty much the same as traditional risotto.


serves 2

2 russet potatoes
1 shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves
thyme (a few sprigs)
olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock
2 bacon slices
1 cup cheddar cheese

- Chop the potatoes into tiny squares, about 1/4 inch.

- Heat up the olive oil in a pan on high heat, then add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and let them brown a bit (about 4 minutes)

- Once browned, turn down the heat and add the shallots, garlic and thyme, let saute for a few minutes

- Add the wine and let cook down.

- Add one cup of broth at a time and let absorb, just like you would regular risotto. Note - Potatoes won't absorb liquid as fast as rice, so allow for a little more time than you normally would.

- While the potatoes are cooking, crisp up the bacon in a separate pan, drain on a paper towel and crumble.

- Once the potatoes are cooked thoroughly and liquid is almost absorbed, add the cheese and allow to melt.

- Finish the risotto with the chives and bacon.

Linguine alla Bolognese

Another classic from my Williams Sanoma Italian Essentials cookbook, this is one of my favorite meals to make on a chilly Sunday. The sauce requires a lot of simmering time and its so warm and comforting, perfect for the negative temperatures we've been having!

I've adapted the recipe slightly from WS according to what I had on hand (their recipe uses tagliatelle instead of linguine), but for the most part, follow it pretty closely.


4 - 6 servings

olive oil
2 small carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 oz bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup red wine
14 oz. diced tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg

grated parmesan for serving

- Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the carrots, onion, celery and bacon and season with pepper. WS calls for them to heat for 30 minutes to get a golden color (but not brown too much). I don't think I've ever done for more than 20 minutes.

- Add the ground beef and break up the meat until its lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

- Pour in the wine to deglaze and let cook down, about 2 minutes.

- Add the tomatoes, stock, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Once it starts to simmer, turn the heat down very low. Let this cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

- While that is simmering, cook and drain your pasta (reserve some of the water).

- Add the drained pasta to the pan with the sauce and coat evenly, add pasta water if necessary.

- Serve with the grated cheese on top.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Meat-free, Husband-free Pasta with Grape Tomatoes

I love my husband (obviously), but sometimes I really miss the single days when I would be perfectly happy having a bowl of Cheerios, a bowl of popcorn, or a bowl of pasta for dinner. Something about eating dinner out of a bowl makes it so much easier to curl up on the couch and watch TV.

These days, Joe would already be on the phone with the pizza guy if I tried to serve him a dinner that just fit in a bowl and didn't contain meat. So, the other night when he made last minute plans to meet a friend at a bar for dinner, I happily headed home to make myself a single-girl dinner. Always a standby, I just mixed some pasta with ingredients I had on hand!

(for one!)

grape tomatoes
1/2 shallot (diced)
1 garlic clove (minced)
olive oil
italian seasoning
chives (can you tell I have fresh chives this week!)

- Saute the garlic, shallots, tomatoes, salt, pepper and italian seasoning in the olive oil.

- Meanwhile get the pasta going.

- The tomatoes need about 10 minutes to get soft, you know they are ready when you press lightly with a wooden spoon and they break open. I did this with all of them so it made a light tomatoey sauce.

- Mix in the pasta (drained and cooked) and season to taste, add the chives for garnish.

Tried and True Mushroom Pasta with Chicken (and my two cents on Rachael Ray)

This is one of my all time faves and Joe loves it too. The original recipe and inspiration came from Rachael Ray.

I know there are a lot of different opinions out there about dear old Ray Ray, but I for one, love her. No, she is not the most skilled chef on the Food Network, yes her hand motions and dialogue (especially in her earlier episodes) can be annoying at times, and yes, she does use "E.V.O.O.", even when its more appropriate to use canola, but I like her!

Her approach to cooking is so laid back, that when I first started cooking, she is the first cook on FN that I really followed. To this day, my style is very similar; I don't follow recipes exactly, I rarely measure anything and I hate to bake. While I've become more daring with the dishes I will take on, I still love my tried and true favorites of hers.

The recipe I follow is, of course, a little bit different, for no reason other than I don't reference the original recipe and make adaptations.

For her original dish, click here.


(for 2 servings)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Any kind of pasta, enough for 2 people
7 or 8 little portabellas (3 or 4 if you have the big kind)
1 shallot (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 cup white wine
fresh thyme
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup milk or cream
olive oil
fresh chives

- Pan sear the chicken (seasoned with salt and pepper) with olive oil. Transfer to a baking sheet and finish off in the oven (only about 10 - 12 minutes at 350) until cooked thoroughly.

- Saute the shallots, garlic and mushrooms over medium heat in the same pan chicken was seared in with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme

- Get your pot of boiling water going to cook the pasta in, everything else will wrap up quickly so this is a good time to add it.

- After the mushrooms soften (about 10 minutes), add about a couple of spoon shakes worth of flour until the mushrooms are well coated.

- Pour in the wine and let cook down and incorporate with the flour.

- Whisk in the chicken stock to make a gravy and let cook a few minutes until thickened.

- Mix in the milk or cream

- Finish the dish by layering the cooked and drained pasta, then the finished chicken breast and finally, the mushroom gravy, garnish with the fresh chives

Salmon en Papillote

I heart (haha, get it) this dish for many reasons. First of all it is sooo healthy. Second, it is very simple but a really special presentation.

I was inspired to make it because, not one, but two chefs on the Food Network were making it this past Saturday (Tyler Florence and the Secrets of a Restaurant chef girl that looks like Guy Fieri). I made it before in a Viking class a couple of years ago and only made it once since then. Since I bought parchment paper this time, I think I will be making it more often.

The recipe I came up with was inspired by the salmon Tyler Florence put in his, the vegetables and shot of wine Guy girl put in hers, and the orzo I remember using in the Viking class.

The great thing about it is that you can choose what you have on hand to put in it.


2 salmon filets
1 carrot (julienned)
1 red pepper (julienned)
4 scallions (cut crosswise into inch pieces)
1 lemon
olive oil
1/4 cup of dry white wine
1 cup orzo
2 cups chicken stock
parchment paper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

- Boil the chicken stock and cook the orzo until not quite al dente (only for about 3 minutes)

- Cut 2 heart shapes out of the parchment paper (this would be great for a Valentines dinner!):

- Let the orzo cool a bit (otherwise your paper becomes too wet to work with)

- Place the orzo down on one side of the heart first, add the salmon filet next.

- Season the salmon with salt and pepper

- Layer the lemon slices on top of the salmon

- Then add the julienned veggies, drizzle on some olive oil (you could omit this if you wanted to go really healthy) and season with a bit more salt and pepper.

- Fold over the other side of the heart and begin closing up the paper by folding over the sides. You want to make sure and get this folded very tightly so everything steams.

- At the very end, leave a little opening to pour in just a tiny shot of wine (don't pour too much or the taste will overpower everything).

- Finish folding and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the salmon is cooked to 145 degrees.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Brown butter sage sauce might be the most delicious thing in the world. Honestly, I could probably drizzle it over anything and be happy. But there is probably a reason why a lot of recipes put it over gnocchi. While very tasty, this dish is incredibly rich, and again, not very healthy!

I first made gnocchi at a cooking class at the Wooden Spoon and have been wanting to make it ever since. Honestly its not as difficult as it seems, getting the dough to the right consistency is the toughest part.

The recipe for the gnocchi is from Williams Sanoma (with a few additions) and the brown butter sage sauce I picked up from the class.



(this is enough for 4 - 6, I froze half of the dough)

1 lb potatoes (I used 4 russet)
1 large egg
3/4 cup flour
parsley *
Parmesan cheese * (about 1/4 cup, freshly grated)
4 oz. pancetta or ham* (chopped)

*Joe freaks out when I try to serve him a meal without meat, so I had to add the ham. Pancetta would probably be better, but that is all I had. I figured the parsley and cheese would give it more color and flavor. Adding these to the dough did not seem to affect the consistency or cooking process and worked out great.

- Cook the potatoes in boiling water (salted) until cooked through, about 30 - 40 minutes.

- Let cool and take the skins off

WS calls for this next step to be done with a food mill, which I do not have. Potato masher worked just fine.

Mash potatoes thoroughly and spread out on a baking sheet

- Beat the egg in a bowl with a pinch or two of salt. Pour the egg over the potatoes.

- Sprinkle the flour on top of the egg

- Add the cheese, parsley and ham

- Mix together until all the flour is incorporated, then transfer to a floured surface and knead the dough until smooth (not sticky but still moist, add more flour if you need to)

- Cut the dough into 4 sections. Each quadrant is about 1 serving, so this is the point to freeze some of the dough if you're only cooking for two.,

- Start rolling out the dough by hand into a snake-like shape (Joe helped : )

- Cut the dough into 1/2 inch quadrants and repeat with remaining pieces

- Get a pot of boiling water going and salt the water.

- Drop in gnocchi to the water a few pieces at a time. It will only take each batch about 3 minutes to make and they will rise to the top when they're done. Pull them out with a slotted spoon and add to the sauce (sauce can be started and kept warm at this point).

- Repeat until all the gnocchi are cooked and coated in the sauce.

Brown Butter Sage Sauce

1 stick of butter
sage leaves (chopped)

Start melting the butter slowly with the sage in the pan and allow butter to brown but not burn. That's it, so easy, so delicious, so bad for you.

Grate some Parmesan cheese on top to finish the dish.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

I have a love/hate relationship with this dish.

Love it because its a super tasty meal that requires very few ingredients, most of which I always have around (eggs, bacon, oarmesan cheese, spaghetti).

Hate it because it is very challenging to cook the eggs just right so that you are not eating raw eggs with your pasta, but you're also not having scrambled eggs either. I have, on separate occasions, done both.

Joe lives in constant fear that I am trying to kill him with undercooked meat and food, so he was hesitant to try this dish again, since my last attempt was a little too eggy.

I use a recipe out of the Williams Sanoma, Essentials of Italian cookbook. Honestly, if you read through the recipe very carefully and follow everything they say to do step by step (see bulleted steps below), you shouldn't have any problems. I have a habit of not doing that, which is why I've run into problems before.

The Williams Sanoma recipe calls for pancetta, which I usually use, but this time all I had was bacon. Also, they call for mix of romano and parmesan cheeses and I just used parmesan. I always have good parmesan on hand so don't really see the need to do a mix. I've served it before with shrimp or chicken as well.


6 oz. bacon or pancetta (chopped)
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk (room temp)
parsley for garnish, roughly chopped
olive oil

serves 4 - 6

-Start with a large pan and add the olive oil and bacon and heat up slowly until the bacon is browned. Take off the heat and cover to keep warm.

- Get the egg and cheese mixture ready by whisking the eggs in a bowl and then adding the cheese and a few pinches of black pepper.

- Start the spaghetti

This is where the WS book says that timing is crucial, they are not lying!

While your spaghetti is cooking, get ready by placing your serving bowl in the sink and set your colander inside of it. Also put a smaller bowl next to it to reserve some pasta water.

- Once the spaghetti is done, do all of the following at lightning speed:
  • Pour the spaghetti into the colander so all the pasta water ends up in your serving bowl and heats the bowl
  • Shake the colander a few times and dump the pasta in the pan with the bacon and oil.
  • Toss the pasta and bacon together, coating all the pasta with the oil.
  • Pour the pasta water out of the serving bowl, reserving about 2 cups into the smaller bowl.
  • Transfer the pasta and bacon into the serving bowl and pour in the egg mixture slowly, mixing in with the pasta constantly. This is where you want the eggs to cook but not scramble, so the faster and more evenly you turn the pasta the better.
  • Thicken the sauce a bit with the reserved cooking water, depending on the consistency
- Garnish with parsley and you're ready to serve!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Broccoli-Cheese soup & Croutons

I LOVE broccoli cheese soup so was very excited when I mastered the recipe. I started making this a couple of years ago and can't remember exactly where I got it, but I think its probably a combination of a few recipes from the Food Network.

It is great as a meal when you don't want something super-filling (caution - NOT low in fat though!)and I always top mine with homemade croutons and make sure I have plenty of leftovers!

The recipe below can be altered easily, like substituting beer for wine (or not using alcohol at all) or using different kinds of cheeses other than cheddar.



1 head of broccoli
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 an onion (chopped)
fresh thyme (about 5 or 6 sprigs, chopped)
olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 - 3 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
lots and lots of cheddar cheese (this is disgusting but I use an entire bag of shredded cheese)

- In a large pan, saute (medium heat) the garlic, onions and thyme in the olive oil, salt and pepper

- After sauteing for a few minutes, add flour to the mixture to make a rue.

- Then pour in the wine and mix in with the rue, let that simmer for a minute or two (hey that rhymes!)

- Slowly pour in the chicken stock, whisking as you're pouring

- Throw in the broccoli and turn heat to low, cover the pan and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

- Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

- Pour back into the pan, add milk and cheese, whisking the cheese in.


I make these all the time for soups and salads, and have become somewhat of a crouton snob. If they're not homemade I won't eat them! These are relatively healthy, all things considered, because I use olive oil instead of butter and bake instead of fry them. The parmesan cheese can easily be omitted (which I actually did this time since the soup is so cheesy).

Super easy, also easy to save leftovers too.


bread (just use as much as desired, I usually do about 4 inches of a french bread loaf or 3 slices of bread for 2 people, depending on what I have on hand).
olive oil
garlic salt
italian seasonings
parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

All you do is cut the bread into cubes and place them on a non-stick baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over and season with the garlic salt and seasonings. Grate parmesan over them and then mix everything together with your hands, coating each piece.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 350, toss the crumbs in the pan once about halfway through.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goodbye 2008 (A Dinner Party)

2008 has been a big year for me so I had to see it out in style. Beginning in February, I took my first overseas trip by myself to go visit my little bro in the Peace Corps in Senegal, Africa. In April, Joe and I bought our first place together and I became a home owner for the first time. Most importantly though, we got married in October!

Since it has been a year of a lot of firsts and new beginnings, it was fitting I threw my first real, adult dinner party in 2008. Well as adult that you could call a night that ended in paper towel mummies, someone climbing over one of our lofted walls and my friend sleeping at the foot of Joe's and my bed without us noticing until about 9 am this morning.

Anywho, I'm looking forward to a less eventful 2009 with more time to cook (maybe even bake) and of course, blog about it!

The Menu

Mixed Greens Salad with Lobster, Brown Sugar Bacon, Avocado and Grapefruit

Truffled Angel Hair Pasta with Wild Mushrooms

Tuscan Grilled Veal Chops

Buttered Green Beans with Almonds

Mint Chocolate Trifle

All recipes (except for the Trifle) came from Viking Cooking School in Cleveland. My mom, sister and I have started a tradition together in the last few years of taking a class together around the holidays. We took this class last week so it was perfect to have already tested out the recipes and see how the timing goes for everything.

I've taken classes from some other places in Chicago and I love the Viking classes the best, I wish they had one here.

Mixed Greens Salad with Lobster, Brown Sugar Bacon, Avocado and Grapefruit with Vinaigrette

This salad is AMAZING. By far my favorite part of the dinner, both at Viking and last night. It was also a great way to serve lobster but stretch your buck, since you're not serving them whole. I think the Viking recipe calls for 1 tail per person, but I did 4 tails for 8 people and it worked out just fine.


mixed greens
brown sugar

lobster tails
red wine vinegar
olive oil


- The first thing I started was the brown sugar bacon. Umm.....this is heavenly. I think I'm going to be making brown sugar bacon for lots of other recipes. Super easy, just lay the bacon out on a
non-stick cookie sheet and sprinkle brown sugar liberally over it. Stick in the oven at 350 and let it crisp up (or however you like your bacon, but crispy definitely worked best for this salad. When the bacon is done - leave it in the pan and DO NOT discard the juices!

- Next, I did grapefruit and avocado. Simply toss diced avocado and grapefruit segments in a bowl together and squeeze the remaining grapefruit juices over to keep the avocado from browning. Then I stuck it in the fridge to chill.

- Then I made the vinaigrette, again super easy. In a mixing bowl, start with chopped shallots, red wine vinegar (I honestly don't know how much, probably about 1/3 cup, but vinaigrette's are 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. Then slowly pour in the bacon juices and olive oil while whisking (the bacon juices are probably about 1/4 cup, then the rest is oil). Salt and pepper to taste.

- I did the lobster tails next, which don't take long at all in the oven. I just drizzled some olive oil on them and salt and pepper. They took about 4 minutes at 350.

- Once the lobster tails are done and slightly cooled, chop them up and arrange on top of the mixed greens with the avocado and grapefruit, pour the vinaigrette over top and garnish with chives.

Truffled Angel Hair Pasta with Wild Mushrooms

So the class at Viking was the first time I've ever tasted truffles, well truffle oil that is, and I love love love the taste. A teeny tiny bottle cost me $13 bucks at Whole Foods but it's worth it since you use such a small amount of it. I need to start thinking of other dishes I can use this in!

The Viking recipe just called for any wild mushrooms, I used shittakes and portebellas. I also omitted chicken stock from their recipe and used more white wine instead (hey, its New Years!)


angel hair pasta (I used a box and half for 8 people, probably could have just used a box)
mushrooms (I used 6 big portebella caps and a box of shittakes)
truffle oil (1 table spoon)
2 shallots (minced)

2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 cup white wine
olive oil

parmesean cheese (used about 3/4 cup grated)
butter (half stick)


-Saute the shallots in olive oil first, over medium heat, for a few minutes with salt and pepper, then add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme.

- Let saute about 10 minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown.

- Pour in the white wine and cook down

- While the wine is cooking down, add the angel hair to boiling water, it takes less than 4 minutes to cook them al dente.

- Once drained, mix the pasta with the cheese and parley

- Add the half stick of butter to the mushroom mixture and let melt
. Once melted, add the truffle oil.

When plating, serve the noodles and pour the mushroom mixture over top. I added a little more parsley for a garnish.

Tuscan Grilled Veal Chops

Whenever my mom made veal when I was younger, I would dramatically claim that I was a vegetarian and refuse to eat it, because I thought what they did to the little baby cow
s was so cruel. Umm...I've gotten over it. Veal is amazing. (Animal lovers, please don't flame me).

The original Viking recipe actually called for a marinade and then cooking the chops entirely on the grill. The instructor varied this by only grilling them for the marks (about a minute on each side) and then finishing them off in the oven. Also, instead of a marinade, it was more of a rub, herb mixture type thing on top. This is placed on after grilling and before cooking in the oven:


veal chops (order them at least one inch thick)

olive oil


- Rub the chops with oil and season with salt and pepper

- Grill just about a minute on each side for the grill marks

- Mix chopped herbs, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and drizzle in a bit of oil for the herb mixture.

- Put the herb mixture on the grilled chops and transfer to the oven.

- Cook for about 20 - 25 minutes at 350, internal temp should be 140.

Buttered Green Beans with Almonds

Green beans (about a handful for every 2 servings)

butter (I used a half stick for 8 servings)
almonds (crushed)

- Blanch the green beans in salted, boiling water for about 3 - 4 minutes, depending on how crunchy you
like them.

- Shock them in an ice bath

- Saute with butter and almonds till warm and season with salt and pepper

Mint Chocolate Trifle

The Viking menu had some kind of chocolate tart with a gelatin kind of fill that was mint flavored. I
wasn't really feeling it since I don't like gelatin or baking. I registered for a trifle dish and love how easy it is to make simple, no bake desserts in it that still look great, so I decided to carry on the mint and chocolate them but do a trifle instead.

So this consisted of 3 major components:

- Chocolate mousse (recipe from
- Mint flavored whipped cream

- Mint Oreos (this was originally going to be Grasshoppers but Joe ate the whole package and Mint Oreos were the only mint flavored cookie the corner grocery store had)

For the mint flavored whipped cream, I just added about 1 tsp of peppermint extract and a teeny tiny bit (less than a tsp I think) of green food coloring. Start small with both of these because you can always add more. I used about 2 cups of whipping cream.

For the chocolate mousse, I followed the recipe exactly but made it for 6 servings. Not as difficult
as I thought it would be!

I just crushed the cookies in a ziploc bag with a meat tenderizer.

As you can tell from the picture, the layering did not come out as pretty as I'd hoped. This is
because I am very impatient (which is why I don't bake) and didn't wait for the mousse to thicken up in the fridge before I began layering, so you can see where it is running together in the layers. Also, the mint layer looks very white in the photos but it was greener.

I garnished with more whipped cream and mint leaves dipped in chocolate.

Regardless of how it looks, it was soooo delicious, and as light and refreshing as holiday desserts can go. mmm....I think I'm heading to the fridge right now for the leftovers.

That's all! Happy New Year!

Shout out to my friend Melissa for coming over early and being my sous chef and food photographer for the evening AND to my mom for the Viking class : ) - love ya both!