Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Eve & Day Menu

I thought I'd go ahead and post my menus for the coming holiday, especially since there won't be much cooking of regular meals this week!

Christmas Eve
Appetizers -- Crab Cakes
Cilantro Lime Shrimp

Main Course -- Black Bean Soup with Keilbasa
Brown Rice

Desserts -- Hello Dolly Bars (also known as Magic Bars, 5-Layer Bars)
Touchdown Chocolate Bars (with White and Semi-Sweet Chocolate)
Chocolate Crinkles
Shortbread Wedges
White Chocolate Snowballs

Christmas Day:

Appetizers -- Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno's (our friends are bringing them!)
Chips & Salsa, Chips & Ranch Dip, Chips & Queso

Main Course -- New York Steaks (BBQ'd) with Blue Cheese Butter
Fancy Pants Baked Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Creamed Corn
Crusty Bread

Dessert -- More Christmas Goodies!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

menu #24

Monday: Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts & Tomatoes
Green Salad

Monday: Spicy Tuscan Soup,
Garlic Bread

Tuesday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Onion Rings

Tuesday: Grilled Ribeye Steaks with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Penne, Salad

Wednesday: Chicken Quesadilla's
Black Beans
Spanish Rice

Thursday: Roast Chicken & Wild Rice in a Wine Sauce

Thursday: Lemon and Thyme Roasted Whole Chicken, Red Potatoes, Gravy, Green Beans

Friday: Roast Beef with Carrots & Cauliflower

Friday: Herb Crusted Cod, Corn On The Cob, Salad

Monday, December 7, 2009

Spicy Tuscan Soup

This is so good. This is also called Zuppa Toscano.. at Olive Garden

1 lb Spicy Breakfast Sausage
1 Shallot, minced
1/2 Stick Butter
2 Slices Bacon, cooked to crispy, crumbled and set aside
3 Garlic cloves, minced
3 Whole Medium Potatoes
1 Can White Kidney Beans (Cannellini beans)
1 1/2 Quarts Good Chicken Stock
1 Small to Medium Bunch Kale, chopped
1 Cup Half and Half
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan cheese, if desired for garnish

Brown sausage to almost completely cooked in a Dutch oven. Drain, and set aside. In the same Dutch oven, melt butter and cook shallots until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Slice Potatoes lengthwise, and then slice in half moon shape slices. Add Chicken broth to shallots and garlic. Add sliced potatoes and sausage. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add beans. Simmer 10 more minutes until potatoes are tender. Add kale and cream. Cook another 5 minutes until Kale has wilted. Sprinkle crisp bacon on top, as well as some parmesan cheese. Serve. 4-6 servings

Menu #23

Monday: Soup & Sandwiches

Monday: Cashew Chicken, Green beans and Rice

Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan
Green Salad

Tuesday: Make your own Pizza's, Salad

Wednesday: Chili

Wednesday: Mexican Chef Salad

Thursday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Onion Rings

Thursday: Tri-Tip Steak, Wild Mushroom & Pea Couscous, Salad

Friday: BLT Pasta

Friday: Potstickers, Edamame

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Menu #22

Monday: Rolled Taco's
Black Beans
Spanish Rice

Tuesday: Chicken in Parmesan Chive Cream Sauce
Brown Rice
Green Beans

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes

Thursday: Chicken Chilaquiles (make 2 -- 1 for now, 1 to FREEZE-IT)
Homemade Refried Beans

Friday: Lasagna Rolls
Garlic Bread

Extra Items To Make:
Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells (FREEZE-IT)

Menu #21

Forgive our silence, dear readers!
We have been cooking our Taste Buds off!!

Here's what I made while my parents were here last week:
Sunday: Cream of Broccoli Soup, Creamy Tomato Soup
Grilled Ham & Cheese (Havarti, Swiss, Cheddar)

Monday: Chicken Chilaquiles
Homemade Refried Beans

Tuesday: Stuffed Shells
Green Salad

Wednesday: Tilapia with Green Beans, Corn and Pesto
Fancy Pants Baked Potatoes

Thursday: Thanksgiving Feast!

Friday: Out! Kitchen Closed!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

I've been putting together the Thanksgiving Menu recently. I just started to wonder what you all were making, too.
Tell us what you're planning! Post a comment with your menu, traditions, and/or what you're doing for the holiday this year!
Here's mine so far. I'll post the complete menu when it's all figured out!
APPETIZER: Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese (Ina Garten)
TURKEY: Still working on the Turkey. I'm thinking about brining this year. Has anyone done this before?
STUFFING: Caramelized Onion & Cornbread Stuffing (Tyler Florence)
SWEET POTATOES: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey Butter (Tyler Florence
VEGETABLE: Creamed Corn with Crispy Bread Crumb Topping (Texas Monthly)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

menu #20

Monday: Penne with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
crusty bread

Tuesday: Pork Roast
Balsamic Baked Potatoes
Asparagus with a Squeeze of Lemon

Wednesday: Beer Battered Tilapia with Chile Mandarin Sauce
French Fries

Thursday: Chicken in Parmesan Chive Sauce
Brown Rice

menu #19

Monday: Blackened Chicken Pizza with Yellow Tomato Salsa
Caesar Salad

Tuesday: Red Beans & Wild Rice Blend

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes
Garlic Bread

Thursday: Seared Steak with Balsamic Baked Potatoes

Friday: Taquitos
Black Beans
Spanish Rice

Extra Items To Make:
Potato-Bacon Torte (FREEZE-IT)
Drop Biscuits (FREEZE-IT)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Party Cheese Roll

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16 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 10 oz package Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded- I used White Cheddar
2-3 Tbs. Roasted Bell Pepper, minced
1 Tbs. Onion, finely chopped
2 ts. Worcestershire sauce
4 ts. Lemon juice
Dash of Red Pepper Flakes
Dash of Salt
Dash of Pepper
Chopped Pecans, for garnish
Chopped fresh Parsley, for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and cheddar cheese until blended. Add remaining ingredients. Shape into a roll. garnish with pecans and parsley. I rolled the "roll" on a plate with rows of alternating pecans, parsley. Serve with crackers. I served this with crackers, thinly sliced authentic Italian salami, and cherry peppers. This made 2 cheese rolls, 4-6 inches each.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

This is what I made for dinner lastnight. This recipe is going in my "I fix all the time" book. It was FABULOUS. The recipe does not call for pine nuts, but I had them so I added about 1/4 cup to the food processor to complete the pesto. Yum Yum Yum. I served this with Chicken Breasts marinated in Italian salad dressing and grilled as well as crusty garlic bread. My 2 year old ate the pesto with a spoon!! So good!

12 ounces penne pasta
1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil - I used about 3/4 of the jar
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
I added about 1/4 cup of pine nuts, because I like traditional pesto
I also added about 4 tbs. olive oil, the pesto was too thick and dry otherwise
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.

Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve.

Giada DeLaurientiis, Food Network

Friday, November 6, 2009

Summer Salad with Garlic-Chili Shrimp

Okay, well I know it's not summer anymore, but the thermostat is still reaching 70+ here in California, we still have beautiful produce, and I'm always looking for a complete meal worthy salad. This is what I made for dinner lastnight, along with Pioneer Womans Easy Seseme Noodles. Delicious!!

1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce *I couldnt find this sauce, so I used 1 ts. Sriracha Chili Sauce, mixed with 2 minced garlic cloves and a few dashes of white rice vinegar and I wouldnt change it, it was yummy*
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon
2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 ears of corn, husked
3 small tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1/3 English hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
1 large avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, cut into thin slices

4 cups (loosely packed) mixed baby greens
3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (such as Asian)
2 tbs. olive oil
*I added a dash of ground ginger and 1 small minced garlic clove*

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish *I would also add some almonds or chow mein noodles or raw ramen noodles for a crunch, it was lacking texture* Add to the salad.

For Shrimp:  Mix chili-garlic sauce, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. * I did this an hour 40 min prior to marinate*
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over med-high heat until hot. Add half of shrimp and sauté until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, transfer shrimp to plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet. Add remaining shrimp and sauté until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to plate and cool.

Cut corn from husks. In same pan used to cook the shrimp, saute the corn until brown. Add to salad.

Dressing:  Whisk 2 tablespoons oil, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and sesame oil in medium bowl.
Top the salad with the shrimp, and dressing and toss, serve. Made 4 servings.
Bon Apetite

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

I loooove pumpkin pie. Looooove it. Looooove it. Looooove it.
When I saw this recipe on goodLife{eats}, I knew it was just for me. Only me.

I made this last week after my introduction to FREEZE IT, and there was none left to freeze... We ate it all!

Here's the recipe:
1 cup old fashioned oats, not quick cook
1 Tbs whole flax seeds, optional
2 1/2 Tbs brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp butter, softened
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (freeze any left overs! or... I saw on another blog to add pumpkin puree to a bowl of apple sauce - makes a yummy snack)

1/4 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsp butter, softened
1 Tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 4 individual sized ramekins. Set aside. (I used one 8x8 casserole dish)

Combine the oats through salt in a medium sized bowl. Stir well. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla, butter, pumpkin, and milk. Whisk thoroughly. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the oats. Stir until combined.

Divide mixture evenly between 4 individual sized ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet (this makes it easier to move in and out of the oven.). Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the topping: chopped pecans, butter, and brown sugar. After the oatmeal has baked for 10 minutes, remove and divide topping mixture evenly between the ramekins. Bake and additional 7 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Top with a splash of milk and raisins, if desired.

goodLife{eats} Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Balsamic-Baked Potatoes

1.5 lbs new potatoes, halved or quartered if large
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
8 (yes 8!!) cloves garlic, smashed
5 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In an 8-inch square baking dish, combine potatoes, broth, vinegar, garlic, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake until potatoes are tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 1 hour - 1-1/4 hours, tossing twice.

everyday food magazine, november 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

menu #18

Monday: Roast Beef with Carrots & Cauliflower
Crusty Bread

Tuesday: Tilapia with Warm Green Bean & Corn Salad

Wednesday: Sausage, Mozzarella, & Broccoli Rabe with Shells
Garlic Bread

Thursday: Seared Steak with Balsamic Baked Potatoes

Friday, October 30, 2009

Caramelized Onion and Portobello Mushroom Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons


3 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 pounds onions, halved, thinly sliced (about 5 cups)

4 fresh thyme sprigs

1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms, stemmed, caps halved and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips

3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy

3 garlic cloves, minced

8 cups canned vegetable broth

1 cup dry white wine

18 1-inch-thick slices French-bread baguette, toasted

8 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, room temperature

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large pot over high heat. Add onions and thyme; sauté until onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook until onions are caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to medium bowl.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until soft, about 12 minutes. Add Cognac and garlic; stir 20 seconds. Stir in onion mixture, then broth and wine. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer until onions are very tender, about 45 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs. Season soup with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly; cover and chill. Bring to simmer before serving.
Preheat broiler. Place baguette slices on large baking sheet. Spread goat cheese on baguette slices, dividing equally. Broil goat cheese croutons until cheese begins to brown in spots, about 30 seconds. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Top with croutons and serve.
bon appetite 2006

the festivities begin...

Look at these cute little guys I made for my MOPS group Halloween party today! Iwish I could take the credit for thinking this up in my own noggin.. but I can not. I got this idea from a great website called Bright Ideas. Check it out sometime! Its full of all sorts of fun stuff!
Hope you have a great Halloween weekend!!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creamy Artichoke Soup

This is another recipe from Aubrey.. my favorite person in San Diego; who cooks amazing food and makes me fat. She posted this on her blog and I begged her for permission to post it on here. Looks amazing! She serves this with some warm, crusty bread. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 leeks, white part only, washed well and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small potato, peeled and chopped

1 (8-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish


Heat olive oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the artichokes, stock, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Using a handheld immersion blender, or in a blender in batches*, puree the soup. Add the 2 tablespoons mascarpone and blend again to combine. In a small bowl, stir the remaining 1/3 cup mascarpone to soften.
Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Dollop the top of each of the soups with a spoonful of the softened mascarpone cheese and top the cheese with chives.

* When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.
recipe, courtesy Giada DeLaurientiis, Food Network

Monday, October 26, 2009


~I'm working on things I can make doubles of and then freeze one, to have 'back-ups' in my freezer. I'm thinking I would like to have some meals in there for those nights I have no idea what I am going to make, don't feel like making, or am going out on the town (it could happen!).
~So I have been searching websites - food blogs - anything that has a recipe listed. Wondering if I can adapt them to a 'frozen dinner'. Alas, because of a general dislike for casseroles, the hunt is not going well for me. And my husband is not a big fan of soup, another freezer friendly idea.
~I found a website that offers a menu for 15 dinner, 10-15 lunch and 10 breakfast iddeas. Again, the dinners are not working much for our family, but I did like some of the lunch and breakfast items.
~I thought I would post some of the recipes I did like, as well as publish the web site for the rest, in case your families are not as finicky as mine!
~Start looking for a new category labeled 'FREEZE IT:', as well as more breakfast and lunch ideas.
On the list this week are:
Whole Wheat Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Baked Oatmeal (pumpkin pie!)
Cranberry Crumb Bars (made 'em, ate 'em... gone!)
Egg Sandwiches
Pop Tarts
Bacon & Potato Pancakes
Pizza Muffins
Taquitos (Rolled Tacos to all you Californians!)
Fruit Cups
~Here's the website I found for the once a month meal plan: OAMM ~ Once A Month Mom

Sunday, October 25, 2009

menu #17

Monday: Boneless Pork Chops & Roasted Yam Fries

Tuesday: Fajita's
black beans
spanish rice

Wednesday: BLT Pasta with Turkey Tenderloins

Thursday: Sloppy Joe Sliders
homemade potato chips

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lemon Chicken Soup

It got down to a bone chilling 64 degrees here in California yesterday, ha! Coming from Colorado I have to laugh at the weather forecast here. Today we are having a "Serious Weather Warning, in fact it was even broadcast during the first 5 minutes of the Today show. It's raining and the wind is blowing, scary!
Anyway- I woke up yesterday craving soup and sniffling from a cold we are trying to fight off.. so here is what I made for dinner. Play with the lemon's in this recipe if you aren't sure you like a strong lemon flavor. I do, and so I used 2 lemons in mine and added a slice on top. but I'm just wierd.

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbs Olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 dried bay leaf
1 (2-inch) piece Parmesan cheese rind, optional * I used a handful of shredded parm cheese
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup small pasta. I used whole wheat pasta circles
2 cups diced cooked rotisserie chicken, preferably breast meat
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt
Black Pepper

In a large stockpot, saute in 1 Tbs olive oil- carrots, celery, onion and bay leaf. Stir and saute until onions turn transparent and veggies start to get tender.
Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and parmesan rind, if using, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down and let simmer for 8 minutes.
Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is tender, for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and heat through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and the parmesan rind and discard. Stir in 1/2 of the cheese and the parsley. Season with salt, to taste. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
adapted from a Giada DeLaurientiis recipe, Food Network

Monday, October 12, 2009

menu #16

Monday: Adobo Marinated Chicken Quesadilla
Black Beans
Spanish Rice

Tuesday: Black Bean Soup with Crab & Kielbasa Sausage
Brown Rice

Wednesday: Zuni's Roasted Chicken
Mashed Potatoes

Thursday: Boneless Pork Chops & Roasted Yam Fries

Friday: Jerk Chicken
Cilantro-Pineapple Rice

Friday, October 9, 2009

Black Bean Soup with Crab & Kielbasa Sausage

I love to make this soup - it's the only soup my husband will eat!

Last year, when Hurricane Ike visited us, we had this great idea (haha!) to weather it out, stay home and just see what happens. Well, it was ok - the kids slept a bit, i slept nothing, and my husband was asleep on the couch 3 hours before it even approached our West Houston home. I bought a few things to have on hand. You know, water, diet coke, chips, just the essentials. I did, however have the where-with-all to make this soup a few days before. I bought double ingredients, to perhaps share with others. I made the rice, too, and we stored it in the fridge, thinking we could heat it up in those days following the hurricane.
Let me tell you, this soup was the best part of the whole ordeal! In the middle of electricity-free, candle-lit, air conditioning-free, and humidity-laden air, our family was able to heat this soup up on the stove (we had gas still and just struck a match to light it!) and had some resemblance of a 'normal' day!
I had this vision of us serving the meal to all of our neighbors and them being so grateful! Well, we did share it, to A neighbor, and THE neighbor was grateful, we just had a lot left over and without refrigeration - the soup went bad soon after. It's the thought, right??

ANND - it's a slow-cooker recipe, what else could be better?

The Ingredients:
2 (15-oz) cans black beans, drained
3 cups chicken stock
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 lb kielbasa sausage, cut in half length-wise, then sliced in 1/2 in thickness
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
2 T ground cumin
2 bay leaves
Salt & Pepper

The Garnishments:
2 cups lump crabmeat, picked for shells and cartilage
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

The Side/Serve-Along-With:
Brown Rice (Make sure you factor in the 45 min it takes to cook the brown rice!)

The Method:
In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients from black beans through S & P -- Mix well. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.

Spoon brown rice into a bowl, then ladle soup over rice and garnish with crab and cilantro.

adapted from a Robin Miller recipe

Sunday, October 4, 2009

menu #15

Monday: Lasagna (didn't make it last week)
garlic bread
green salad

Tuesday: Cinnamon Spiced Pork Chop
mashed potatoes
green beans

Wednesday: Steak, Cauliflower and Breadcrumbs

Thursday: Grilled Chicken
Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Turkey Burgers by JoAnna

My sister, JoAnna, made these burgers some time last summer. They looked so good, that I asked her if I could share them with you!!
Here's her post:
"I have to brag a bit. I made these awesome turkey burgers last night. I felt like Bobby Flay would be so proud of me! I made burgers as though we were making turkey meatloaf, and instead of heating up the oven, we heated up the grill--ohhhhh. We used a french loaf as the bun and instead of lettuce, I used some yummy cilantro. Yummy to my tummy!"

BTW: This is our 100th post!! Yay for us!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

menu #14

Monday: Pizza
green salad

Tuesday: Open-Face Burgers, with Cheddar & Bacon
Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday: Shredded Pork Tacos
black bean salsa
spicy cole slaw

Thursday: Lasagna
garlic bread

Friday: Chicken Chilaquiles
black beans
spanish rice

Monday, September 21, 2009

Asparagus and Shiitake Risotto

My husband requested risotto a few nights ago. I got a little nervous, just thinking about it - I watch Hell's Kitchen! But after searching a few of my favorite web sites for one that sounded delicious, I took a deep breath and began the process.
I used the Asparagus, Artichoke, and Shiitake Risotto from Smitten Kitchen
I totally bought the artichokes, expecting to use them... but, um, sorta -- well, messed them up. So, we went without! I really didn't miss any flavor in the risotto, thankfully.
I have found that with any new recipe, especially if it intimidates you, is to take your time! Read each instruction and follow it to a 'T'!

Asparagus, (minus the Artichoke) and Shiitake Risotto
Adapted from Gourmet, May 2003

Makes 4 main-course servings.

5 cups chicken broth (40 fl ounces)
1 cup water
1 pound thin to medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inches long pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 ounces (1 cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring broth and water to a boil in a 4-quart pot. Add asparagus and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then drain and pat dry. Keep broth at a bare simmer, covered.

Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl.

Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Ladle in 1 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is just tender and looks creamy, 18 to 20 minutes. (Save leftover broth for thinning.)

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese, remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in asparagus, artichokes and mushrooms, then cover pan and let stand 1 minute. If desired, thin risotto with some of remaining broth. Serve immediately with remaining cheese on the side.

menu #13

Monday: Spaghetti with Vodka-Cream Sauce
Crusty Bread

Tuesday: Tilapia with Green Beans, Corn & Pesto

Wednesday: Chicken Piccata
Spaghetti with Basil Olive Oil

Thursday: Salmon with Peppers & Caper Vinaigrette

Friday: Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


A couple of weeks ago now, I bought a bag of Granny Smith apples at the grocery store. My kids love these apples. In the midst of unloading, putting away, running out to go pick up my oldest from school and then coming home to finish putting the groceries away, I lost track of the bag of apples. When I questioned my girls, they admitted to the bag of apples being in their room. I knew this was not good! I walked into their room and found the bag emptied and one solitary, single, lonely bite taken out of each apple.
Well, how does the saying go? When life hands you lemons, make lemonade? Does this also fit for apples to applesauce?
Needless to say, I ended up with a pot of applesauce.

So, after thinking about what to do with these apples, I was reminded of something in my childhood. As a young girl, our family would go camping, a lot. We would camp with lots of other families. One family, imparticular, was very creative with their cooking. they made quesadilla's on a grill over the fire. And one time, while camping, they made applesauce. I still remember the recipe, probably one of the first recipes I ever learned, besides the tossed salad recipe in 2nd grade!

1 bag of apples (whole apples will do)
1-2 T cinnamon (depending on how many apples you have, and how sweet/spicy you like it!)
1-2 T brown sugar
Juice from one lemon

Peel & slice the apples (a pain, I know! My friend has the apple peeler and slicer, and jeeze-louise is that easy!)
Put all ingredients over low heat for about 30 minutes, until apples are soft and smash-able (yes, it's a word!)
Once the apples are soft, use whatever nifty tool you have to mash them! I used my mashed potato smasher...)

Let cool a bit and enjoy! I love this warm, with vanilla ice cream. My kids will live on applesauce if i let them!
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menu #12

Tuesday: pork chops
asparagus, artichoke and shiitake mushroom risotto

Wednesday: steak
fancy pants baked potato

Thursday: chicken caesar salad

Friday: grilled quesadilla's (didn't make it last week!)
spanish rice
black beans

Saturday: chicken piccata

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bacon Caramel Toffee ?

A few weekends ago, my husband went to Chicago. He brought me back these strangely delicious/disgusting candies. At first bite, you taste just the sweet caramel and chocolate, then the saltiness from the toffee and then - it hits you! the smoky, salty, meaty flavor of bacon! I'm still not sure if I am a fan or not, but thought it was definitely blog-worthy!
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menu #11

Monday: Caprese
french bread

Tuesday: grilled flatbreads
green salad

Wednesday: eggplant parmesan

Thursday: grilled quesadilla's
black beans
spanish rice

Friday: asian tuna sandwich
homemade potato chips

Saturday: grilled zucchini with mint & red chili's
ziti tossed in olive oil and roasted garlic
crusty bread

Monday, September 7, 2009

Diane's Corn Salad

This is soooooooooo good. It required 2 posts on one day. Can you tell what I have been doing this weekend? oink oink
I got this from Pioneer Woman's new cooking community, Tasty Kitchen. My new favorite recipe website. I found this recipe here. I adapted this recipe a bit, specifically- I cut it in half since there is just 3 of us. I used about a ts of sugar instead of a tbs. And the best thing I did was took 2 fresh ears of corn and grilled them drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. It gave the corn a delicious smokey flavor, which I would definitely suggest you do if you can. I also used about 15-20 cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters that I got at the farmers market. I added avocado to my husbands (because he is allergic to onions) and kept the avocado out of mine, onions in (because I'm allergic to avocado). Overall, it was fantastic. I served it with grilled Rib eye and garlic bread.

4 cups Fresh Cooked Corn, Cooked Frozen, Or Canned Corn
2 cups Ripe Tomato, Seeded And Chopped
½ cups Minced Onion, Any Variety, Including Green Onion
½ cups Minced Green Bell Pepper, Or Any Color
4 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vinegar
Dash Of Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper To Taste
Preparation Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl with a tight fitting lid. Mix well, cover and chill until time to serve. Keeps up to a week in the fridge. Enjoy!
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fancy pants baked potato

I got this idea from Emeril, but I did mine completely different and it turned out great. His called for cooking in a bath of chicken stock or some kind of liquid. Nah, who has time for all that business. I was off to an hair appointment, after all! Can't be late to such important things. This is what I did:
Preheat oven to 400. Wash 3 red potatoes. (I only needed 3, and I happened to have red. I'm sure any would work fine)
Slice them carefully and DO NOT slice all the way through. Melt 3 tbs butter. 1 for each potato. While butter is melting, mince 2 garlic cloves and about 1 tbs of parsley. Add the garlic and parsley to the melted butter, along with salt and pepper. Brush potatoes with the mixture, making sure to get in each nook and cranny. Yum.
Brush the tops with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 400 for an 30 minutes covered, and 30 minutes uncovered. They came out soft inside, and crispy and delicious outside. I love that you can play with your favorite ingredients and herbs and make these however your family prefers.
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Saturday, September 5, 2009


(click above for recipes)

BooMama is a fellow blogger, I read her blogs regularly. She had a brilliant idea, being that its football season (yay yay yay). She decided to host a DipTacular party and have people post their favorite dip recipe, because honestly, like she said... we are all looking for a reason to eat some cream cheese. Don't deny it :). I was watching Bobby Flay's Throwdown yesterday and they had the most precious little old(er) man who was the king of shrimp and grits. By the way- YUM. And he said "you only live once, and once is enough if you've done it right" and I loved that. So dig in the cream cheese folks. Last time I checked there were 250 recipes! Enjoy! Hey- let us know if you tried any particular recipe that was delicious! It's hard to read through 250+ recipes and decide what to make!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


It's football season, whoop whoop! I love football season... fall is in the air. I dream of cooking soups and comfort foods, loads of nachos, green chili and all kinds of Sunday afternoon grub.
One of the things I cook on a regular basis is wings. There are 8000 ways to make wings; I guess it's a matter of preference. I prefer crispy wings. I prefer a sauce that is a little on the mild side. I find I can eat more that way.

People love my wings. However, I can't take much credit in the originality department because the recipe is on the back of my favorite hot sauce! Franks Red Hot. And the original one, not the "Wing Sauce" one. I prefer to melt my own butter, thank you. Oh and I add a few dashes of Tabasco Chipotle sauce, which adds a nice smokey flavor. Yum.

I have cooked wings every way possible. I have battered them, floured them, baked them, grilled them... My favorite is to fry them with no batter or flour whatsoever. It makes them so crispy and delicious. Plus anything I can do to decrease my weekly intake of carbs during the football season makes me sing and dance. And go back for seconds.
For the wings:
3 pounds drumettes, thawed and rinsed
Vegetable oil for frying- enough to cover your skillet about 1 inch deep
Heat vegetable oil over med-high heat until ready to fry. (I never use a thermometer) My oil is ready when I drop something in and it sizzles nicely and tamely
Working in batches drop your drumettes in one at a time. You have to keep em' movin' though. Otherwise they will stick to the bottom! Fry for about 1/2 hour or until nice and golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.
For the sauce:
In a saucepan, melt 1/2 cup (or 8 tbs) butter. O shut up, I know you want to.
Once melted, add 3/4 cup of Franks Red Hot Original sauce, and heat until combined. Then add 4 or 10 dashes of Tabasco Chipotle sauce, depending on your taste. That's whats fun, cuz you get to keep sticking your fingers in. Yum.
Dip your wings in the sauce to coat, place on a platter and serve with celery sticks, carrot sticks, red pepper sticks, ranch dressing and some blue cheese if you want to.
Makes about 4 servings. unless you are pigs, like we are -and ate all of it ourselves.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

because I know you need a new Cookbook...

Do you read The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog? If you don't, you should. She is a fantastic cook. Her blog features cooking, photography, home and garden, homeschooling and a confessions page. She talks about living out in the country.. trips to the Walmarts, her beautiful family, Charlie- the basset hound, living and running a working Cattle Ranch and her beloved brother Mike. Among other things.
I read her blog daily. She is warm, kind, witty and HILARIOUS. Now she is a cookbook author!!
I am so excited, I had to share!! I already pre-ordered mine and you can do so here or here
I have personally made countless recipes from her website and they are fantastic. I mean, really, really fantastic. They are real recipes made from real butter (ha), from ingredients you can find in your local grocery store. My husband loves them, because, like hers.. he is a man who eats man food. No frilly salads for him, please. Finally, after 6 years together and 4 married.. he can now identify a caper. It's been a long time coming folks.
Every time I make a recipe of hers I am dying to share and post it here.. but never have because I think its breaking a sisterhood code or something. So now you can grab her cookbook and have all of her wonderful, delicious recipes and I can tell you for certain they are super.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tate's Cookies

this morning, in my email, was an incredible monday morning treat. my sister (april) sent my a link to GOOP - have you heard of it?
it's gwyneth paltrow's own little website. she updates weekly, with all kinds of different interests. while i realize that gwyneth needs no help from me in the advertising or marketing area - i thought that you may need help in the 'idea' department! so, i thought i would go ahead and share this with you all. and yes, i made these cookies today - i was craving a chocolate chip cookie anyway! (i should tell you that Tate's Bake Shop is a bakery for the rich and famous in southhampton, ny... and i got their recipe from gwyneth herself!) ;)

YIELD: About 40 cookies
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) lightly salted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Whisk the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl. In another large bowl, mix the butter with a wooden spoon to lighten it a bit and then mix in the sugars. Add the water, vanilla and eggs to the butter mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined and then fold in the chocolate chips. Using two soup spoons, drop the cookies 2" apart onto two nonstick or greased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on the level of chewy-crispy you like), rotating the sheets after four minutes. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool, and repeat the process with the rest of the batter.
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menu #10

Monday: Spaghetti with Meatballs (jay's favorite)
garlic bread

Tuesday: Beer battered tilapia with chile mandarin sauce
french fries
(didn't make it last week!)

Wednesday: Chicken in Parmesan Chive Cream Sauce
brown rice
green beans

Thursday: pizza

Friday: ham & cheese turnovers

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer Pasta Bolognese

12 oz fettuccine
2 T evoo
1 lb ground turkey
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced (i always add more) :)
1.5 pounds beefsteak tomatoes (about 3); chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine (if you don't have wine on hand, chicken stock is a good substitute)
1 small zucchini, coarsely grated (my kids loved grating the zucchini)
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn (another job you can have your kids do!)

cook the pasta according to package directions. set aside.
heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey and season with s & p.
add the garlic and cook for another minute. add the tomatoes and wine and simmer, until the sauce has slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.
remove from heat and fold in the zucchini and basil. serve over pasta. i topped with parmesan cheese, of course!

real simple/august 2008

menu #9

Monday: Salmon with green beans and red potato salad

Tuesday: Nacho's

Wednesday: fussilli with yellow squash & bacon
garlic bread

Thursday: Beer battered tilapia with chile mandarin sauce
french fries

Friday: meatball sandwich
green salad

Saturday: steak
red white beans
artichoke brown rice

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Menu #8

monday: pot sticker salad with snap peas
brown rice

tuesday: tilapia with beans, corn & pesto

wednesday: pasta with peppers and mozzarella
french bread

thursday: artichoke pizza's
caesar salad

friday: honey bbq chicken skewers
grilled corn salad
baked potato

Saturday, July 25, 2009


We love chickpeas... in any form. Did you know they are considered one of the healthiest foods you can eat? They are so very good for you. I am always looking for new ways to eat them.. and I found a really yummy one. Marinated. Just dump a can of drained, rinsed chickpeas in a bowl and marinate in some good balsamic vinegar. I marinated mine for about 4 hours. YUM. My intention was to add them to an Italian salad that I made with spring mix, tomatoes, onions, roasted red peppers and goat cheese. Although I did add them, and they were fantastic.. most of them were gone by the time I made the salad. My 2 year old even ate them by the handful!! Try it.. it's a very healthy snack, and try sprinkling them on top of your favorite salad!
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Tilapia with Balsamic Butter sauce, Thyme Mashed Potatoes and Snap Peas

This recipe is so good. I do not really like fish, but I am trying.. I made this and I actually ate a whole filet.. and my husband, a fish lover.. raved. It's yummy.

3 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered
4 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons (or more) warm whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups sugar snap peas, strings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 4- to 5-ounce tilapia fillets
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Thyme Mashed Potatoes
Boil potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; return to pot. Add butter, 6 tablespoons cream, and thyme; mash. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring often and adding more cream by tablespoonfuls if dry.
Balsamic Butter Sauce
Simmer vinegar and garlic in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to thick syrup, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Cook snap peas in boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain. Return to same pan; set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in each of 2 large skillets over high heat. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Sauté fish until golden, about 2 minutes per side.
Rewarm balsamic syrup over medium-low heat. Whisk in 1/2 cup butter 1 piece at a time. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to peas; stir over medium heat until warmed. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide potatoes, tilapia, and peas among plates; drizzle with sauce.

Bon Appetit 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tilapia with Green Beans, Corn & Pesto

3-4 Tilapia fillets
salt and pepper
1 T olive oil
1/2 lb green beans (i used frozen green beans, about 2/3s of the bag)
1/2 bag frozen corn
2 green onions, sliced thin
store-bought pesto

heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat
season fish with salt and pepper
place fish in skillet and cook on one side for 4-5 minutes (until golden brown)

flip the fish, scatter the green beans and add 3/4 cup water. cover and let cook for another 5 minutes. the vegetables should be tender and the fish opaque throughout.

place the fish on plates, leaving the green beans and adding the corn. cover and let cook another 2-3 minutes. finally, stir in the pesto and green onions. (ok, i only added the green onions after i plated the kids food...)

serve the fish and vegetables with an additional dollop of pesto.

---seriously, i made this meal in about 15 minutes, from start to finish. super easy, super fast and super delicious. my husband told me a few times how good it was, especially with that pesto! a great summer meal!

adapted from real simple, august 2008

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pot Sticker Salad with Snap Peas

proof the kids ate it!

i found this recipe about a year ago in a real simple magazine section on 20-minute meals. (in fact, all of the recipes on this week's menu is from that section!)
and the kids actually love it!

i adapted it for our family...
and i always make brown rice to accompany it, so allow for that 45 minutes of cooking time if you decide to make rice, too.

1 (1-lb) bag frozen pot stickers --- i used fresh pot stickers from our grocery store. it cuts the cooking time in half, if that's possible!
a couple of handfuls of snap peas
2 carrots, cut in matchstick-size pieces
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 T sesame oil --- you'll find it on the asian food aisle
a handful of cashews, the recipe calls for peanuts
2 green onions, sliced

i filled a saute pan with an inch or so of water, then brought it to a boil. over medium heat, i threw the snap peas and carrots in, cover and let steam for about 5 minutes.

remove and set aside.

with the remaining water, set the pot stickers in to cook - if they are fresh, you only need a few minutes. if they are frozen, let them cook about 5-7 minutes. - don't turn them, either! they get too brown/crunchy and not as soft and delicious that way.

combine the soy sauce and sesame oil. (i don't give the sauce, onions, or nuts to the kids)

with rice ready, place on a plate, topped with the pot stickers and vegetables, then the green onions and nuts. pour the sauce on top - and i also used a few dots of the sriracha sauce.

the kids are always very unsure of this recipe - it looks different. but once i (and jayden) convinced them that it was just chinese ravioli (it worked!) they ate it all.

adapted from real simple, august 2008

menu #7

week of may 25

monday: taco salad
chips & salsa

tuesday: chicken with parmesan chive cream sauce
brown rice

wednesday: crisp goat cheese salad
grilled chicken

thursday: open-face burgers (with bacon and cheddar)
sweet potato fries

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My 4th of July Menu

When I think about the 4th of July.. I think American. When I think American.. I think burgers and potato salad. This year for the 4th of July we are going to a park where they have a festival and firework display. We are packin up the neighbors, all the kids and the BBQ. Here is what I am fixing:

Burgers by Bobby Flay. I'm taking his recipe for a basic burger and creating a "burger bar" with all kinds of wacky toppings sure to make me fat. My neighbor, Lori works for Guy Fieri... So we'll have a little burger throwdown.. cuz his are good too.
Bobby's Burgers

Then there's the potato salad. My ultimate favorite potato salad is the Warm Dijon and Green Bean Potato Salad that is on this site. But I'm thinking more of an American style potato salad complete with eggs, pickles.. onions.. the works. So I'm going to try this one and hope its good.

This is Tyler Florence's recipe for Potato salad from his Ultimate Tailgate episode. It has eggs, pickles, onions.. mayo.. I'll let ya know how it turns out. I love to test new recipes on my neighbors, haha. Well if anything- the hundreds of kids we have will eat it.
Tylers Potato Salad

And then there is this:

Strawberry Pretzel Squares. Have you ever made these? They are sooo good. We have a Farmers Market right by our house and this is a perfect way to use up all those delicious strawberries. I think I'll add a little dollop of whipped cream on top of each square and plop in a blueberry.. for the red, white and blue.

Whatever is on your menu for the 4th of July.. I hope you are all surrounded by your friends and family! Happy Independence Day!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Since moving to California.. I have found a very swanky little place that is very popular to go to for dinner and drinks. Its FABULOUS. I was there last night celebrating my 4th anniversary.. and I ordered my favorite drink.. a Mojito. Luckily I was at the bar and I got to watch her every move.. so now I know exactly how to make it at home. Of course I have to share! These are the best Mojito's I have ever tasted. Very refreshing, not too sweet. Yum yummy!!

You'll need;
a tall glass
1 tsp sugar per drink
mint leaves- about 4 per drink
2 red grapes per drink
4 lime wedges per drink
Rum.. 2 shots per glass
club soda
a muddle if you have it.. or something to do the job
a shaker or another glass

In tall glass add rum, 1 ts. sugar, 2 red grapes, mint leaves and 2 lime wedges. Muddle until nice and smashed. Add ice and dump into a shaker and shake until chill. Dump back into your tall glass. Top with club soda until full. Squeeze remaining 2 lime wedges into the drink and use as garnish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bruscetta Pasta Salad

I was craving Bruscetta today.. and since I am trying to get bikini fabulous, I didn't want to eat the bread. So I ate pasta instead. I don't really know how to justify the pasta being better than the bread.. but in my pea brain, it was. is. isn't, but whatever...

2 cups uncooked pasta

2 small(er) tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 medium basil leaves, chopped

1 small can marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

2 tbs finely chopped onion

4 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs (ish) red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese, about a hand full.

*If I would have had goat cheese on hand, I would have crumbed some up and added to the salad as well. Just a thought.

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until just under al dente.. the pasta will continue to cook as well as plump up with the dressing. In a medium-large bowl mix the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain and dump the warm pasta into your bowl and dressing. Coat pasta. Add remaining ingredients and chill. Or eat it right there. Whatever makes you happy.

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

Ina Garten does this fried goat cheese.. and its delicious. So I took her recipe and added my own salad ingredients.. it turned out awesome! I served this with grilled chicken breast. I only did 4 fried goat cheese cubes, so you'll have to adjust the recipe to your family size.

Fried Goat Cheese:
Seasoned dry bread crumbs. I use a mixture of dry seasoned bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs. I like the texture this creates.
1 egg, beaten
sliced goat cheese, about 1/2 inch thick, well refrigerated.
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. butter
Dip the sliced cheese in the egg. Remove and roll in bread crumbs. Put on a rack and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet to medium-medium high, until just under smoking. Add the goat cheese and cook each one quickly, until browned on outside, but not melted on inside. Remove and drain.
For the salad I grilled red peppers, onions and asparagus. I arranged the salad using baby spinach, but mixed greens would be better I think. I made a dressing using olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper. This was very easy and very good for our hot, California summer nights!
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

chicken salad

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4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
2 tbs. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1 tbs. whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 cup small-diced celery (2 stalks)
1 cup green grapes, cut in 1/2
1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds
*and a note: If my husband wasn't allergic to onions, I would have thrown in a green onion or two..
It is so easy to make this salad using either regular boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or canned chicken. I'll tell ya though.. the roasted chicken adds a whole world of flavor.. you will never get that from canned or boneless/skinless chicken. It's well worth it, I promise.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.
When the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into a 3/4-inch dice. Place the chicken in a bowl; add the mayonnaise, Dijon, tarragon leaves, celery, grapes, almonds, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and toss well.
adapted recipe from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, Food Network

Friday, May 29, 2009

warm dijon potato salad with green beans

I regret that I don't have a picture of this really, really great potato salad. We made it for Memorial Day weekend to go with ribs. I couldn't get my camera out fast enough... but try it, its delicious.. and its great cold too. Thanks again and again and again Aubrey.. I wonder why I gain weight when I visit you...

3 pounds Yukon or baby white potatoes
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 shallot minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
30 grinds black pepper
1/3 cup packed finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by at least a couple inches. Salt the water generously, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.
Bring another pot of salted water to a boil and throw the beans in just for a minute or two until they turn bright green. Strain them and run them under cold water to stop the beans from cooking.
In a mixing bowl combine the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then into roughly 1 inch chunks. Cut beans in half. Toss the potato chunks in the dressing and then toss in the green beans and the parsley.
recipe courtesy Dave Lieberman, Food Network

Thursday, May 28, 2009

chick pea dip

I spent Memorial Day weekend in San Diego with one of my favorite people, Aubrey. We love to cook, share recipes.. and go to the beach. We did plenty of both. This is a bikini friendly version of hummus, without the Tahini. As much as I love Tahini.. did you know it has, like 200 calories per tablespoon? Considering I can eat hummus with a spoon.. this is bad for the thighs. This recipe is just plain delicious... Thanks Aubrey!

1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans) drained, rinsed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cloves garlic
5-7 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems
course salt and freshly ground pepper
a few drops hot sauce, to taste (I use Frank's Red Hot)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
dipper ideas: pretzels, gourmet chips, red bell pepper, cucumber,
celery, any veggie you like

Combine the chick peas, garlic, lemon zest and juice, thyme, salt and pepper and hot sauce in food processor. Turn processor on and stream in the extra-virgin olive oil. Transfer the dip t0 a dish and surround with veggies and chips.
this recipe was adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe.

Monday, May 25, 2009

menu #6

monday: brown rice salad
cole slaw

tuesday: zucchini strand spaghetti (with basil oil)
garlic bread

wednesday: spring panzanella

thursday: chicken caesar salad

friday: bbq pork on a bun
onion rings

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

15 minute fruit cobbler

It's been in the upper 90's here in California where I live.. whew! Last night I was trying to figure out something yummy to make for a quick desert.. I had some fresh cherries that I had picked up at a church fundraiser, and I had some frozen blueberries. I didnt have a lot of butter, so I was having a hard time finding a crust recipe. I had originally wanted to make some hand pies.. Anyway, after reading a few different recipes I came up with this. And it was really good. Only took me 15 minutes, and was just enough for us. I have a small family and always hate to have a trough of leftovers that don't get eaten. You could easily double this recipe. It was just enough for about 4 servings of 1/2 cup each. I topped it with vanilla ice cream and I my 20 month old daughter rolled her eyes, threw her head back and yelled "NUMMMMMEY!"

1 1/2 c. fruit. I used fresh, pitted and halved cherries, and frozen blueberries. about equal parts each
1/4 c. sugar
2 tbs. flour
dash of cinnamon
Preheat oven 400 degrees. In a saucepan, combine and cook on med-low heat until warm and bubbly and fruit has thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.

3/4 c. Bisquick
2 tbs. sugar
1/2 ts. cinnamon
3 tbs. milk
2 tbs butter, softened.
Combine all ingredients and mix until dough starts to form.
Pour fruit into a casserole dish. I did not grease mine. Top with dollops of dough, covering fruit as much as possible.
Place in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until top is just browning. Serve warm, with ice cream.
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Monday, May 18, 2009

pizza crust (from scratch!)

I did it! I did it! i finally made a good pizza crust - without the help of boboli or pilsbury!
i have been experimenting with some different recipes and different food blogs' techniques.
one site especially, smitten kitchen - she gave some great advice on her pizza dough. i think i have told you before, that i am not a baker. but i am realizing i want to be! pizza crust was one of those things that i was bound and determined to get right. i had absolutely no idea what dough should feel like, or not feel like. except that all of the recipes i have tried before turned out small, cause i couldn't get the dough to roll out - and they turned out puffy. so i guess i would tell you, if you have no point of reference as to what a dough should be, if a dough won't roll out - it's not right. if a dough won't stretch when you pull on it, it's not right.
follow her advice and you will get it right, just like i did!!
read below - and this recipe is all hers... my notes are italicized and bold
the picture below is my creation :)

Really Simple Pizza Dough
Makes enough for one small, thin crust pizza. Double it if you like your pizza thick and bready.
1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.
(here's the great advice...) If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks I picked up from my bread-making class is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.

Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray perfectly does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.

Dump it back on the floured counter (yup, I leave mine messy), and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. (my sister, elisabeth, also recommended cranking your oven to the very hottest setting - and i am now a believer!) Roll out the pizza, (i rolled out my dough on the counter and when i went to pull it off, it stuck to the counter. so i did as she suggested, i covered it back up with the plastic wrap, made my pizza sauce, came back, and it was as soft as ever! i was so happy!) toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like. (I always err on the side of skimpy with toppings so to not weight down the dough too much, or if I have multiple toppings, to keep them very thinly sliced.)

Bake it for about 10 minutes until it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist.
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