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Irish Soda Bread with Cranberries

DSC01830

Around St. Patty’s day I decided to make a sweet Irish soda bread. I followed the recipe below but added a heaping 1/2 cup of cranberries and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Next time I’ll add a bit more sugar. Turned out super tasty. Tell me that doesn’t look good…

Recipe link

Recipe w/caraway seeds

DSC01832

 

Dim Sum Coconut Jelly

coconut jellies

Have you been to a dim sum restaurant and tried the coconut jelly dessert from the cart? Well, if you have and you liked it …try this recipe. Who would have guessed Tyler Florence would have featured it on his TV show.

As usual the video and the recipe posted on the Food network site were not exactly the same. I chose wrong and decided to follow the written word… I have a feeling I should have gone with Tyler. In the end everything turned out fine but I had to cut the tops off all my jellies. For some unknown reason there was a layer of clear sugar water covering the top.

Recipe link
Tyler’s Ultimate

5 year Blogaversary! Chocolate-Stout Brownies

beerbrownie

Something sweet for this special occasion. This was deliciously dense, chocolaty and moist. You won’t be able to eat more than a tiny square. Soooo rich! More like fudge than a brownie.

brownies

Note: hit the foil with some cooking spray to ease the removal.

Recipe link
Bon Appetit Magazine / February 2012

Shellback Premium Rum – Coquito Cocktail

shellback

I rarely drink cocktails but when I do it is always rum based. I love the flavor of rum so when Shellback asked me to try their new line of silver and spiced Caribbean rum I jumped at the chance. It came at a perfect time because we were hosting a Christmas Eve gathering and I wanted to serve a signature cocktail. I ended up going with a Coquito which some call the Latin version of egg nog. Ingredients include coconut milk, evaporated milk and lots of rum. Although the drink took some time to make it was well worth it and a huge hit.

coquitoSome said the smooth cocktail tasted like rum raisin ice cream. I even got a few compliments from people who are originally from Latin countries. Coquito will definitely be our go-to holiday beverage from now on!

While the weather remains chilly we will be using our spiced Shellback rum in coffee, tea and cider. However, I can’t wait for the sun and heat when I’ll be mixing up some mojitos, coladas and daiquiris with the silver. Check out the Shellback site for recipes.

Website: http://www.shellbackrum.com/

Coquito Recipe link
*I left the egg out and didn’t miss it.

Happy Turkey Day!

Heritage (Left) Diestel (Right)

Sorry I have been away for a bit. I started a new job in October and just haven’t had time to blog. I aim to do better in the new year! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As always we were given the task to cook the birds. We ended up making two this year… One 10 lb. Heritage bird from a local farm and a 12 lb. Diestel Natural from Whole Foods.

Heritage -400 degrees for 1 hr 45 min

The heritage turkey was running around up until the morning it was delivered to our house. I guess that’s why it looks so slim and trim! Both turned out delicious in the end. The main difference was that the heritage dark meat tasted much more gamey in flavor. Yum!

Diestel  -350 degrees for 2 hrs 15 min

Citizen Chef Healthy Meals


A new company in San Francisco called Citizen Chef just launched a line of fast, fresh,healthy stir fry meals to prepare at home. Each package comes with cut veggies, a grain and a gourmet sauce. All you need to add is a protein of your choice and dinner is served in 15 minutes.

inside the box

When asked if I would like to try the product it was a no brainer…fast and easy are my two favorite words when it comes to cooking. Of the 3 varieties I had I was the most impressed with the Thai stir fry because I’ve always found Asian cuisine the hardest to recreate at home and this Thai Sesame sauce blew me away. It tasted just like the massaman curry that I love to order from our local Thai restaurant.

Chicken w/ Thai Sesame Sauce (fresh coconut milk, roasted sesame seeds, & a hint of ginger)

I also enjoyed the couscous in the Limone Garlic package. We are in a grain rut and always end up with rice. This was a very nice change.

Shrimp w/ Limone Garlic Sauce (fresh garlic, lemon peel, & extra virgin olive oil)

Overall I was impressed with the quality of the meals. Mike and I would definitely purchase them in the future…the only bummer is that you can only find Citizen Chef in certain Bay Area Whole Foods markets. Hopefully they get picked up nationally. See if they are in your neighborhood here.
Get a $3 off coupon here

Website: http://www.citizenchef.com/

Full Circle Organic Produce Delivery Review + $10 off Coupon


Full Circle
 launched the Bay Area branch of its produce delivery service during the first week of June. They contacted me to see if I was interested in a free trial. I get offers to try similar services often and usually I pass because I am happy with my current delivery company, but when I checked out the Full Circle website the option to not only receive fruits & veggies but other groceries caught my attention. I thought the opportunity to purchase artisan goods including:  dairy & eggs, bread & pasta, meat, seafood, jam, coffee, honey and chocolate was very unique and something I had to check out.

Box #1 with my balls of pizza dough

My first “Sprout” size box (feeds 2-3 people) arrived right on time and everything was fresh and pretty clean. Items come straight from the farm so you should expect some dirt and bugs. In addition to the produce I added 2 balls of pizza dough from the grocery. We love to make pizza on the grill in the summer. Each ball was the perfect amount for a personal size pizza. All it needed was some heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Turned out perfect…nice thin crust.

We also made a risotto with the leeks. Insanely good. See recipe here

Box #2 came the following week and we had just about eaten everything from our first box.

Contents of box #2 with my addition of free range eggs

The baby golden beats were delicious. I just put them in foil and roasted them in the oven for an hour and they were good to go.

Beets ready for the oven

Overall, the service has been great. The produce arrived in good condition and tasted wonderful. Every new service has positive things going for them and some areas that need improvement. Here is my assessment on Full Circle

Pros:
1. Variety! Since the produce is not coming from 1 single farm but 10+ California farms there are many more fruit & veg options and you can’t beat the added grocery items.
2. Choice – usually you make an exclusion list of produce you don’t want and if one of the items is scheduled the farm will just double up or in some cases triple up on other items already in your box. At Full Circle you can login to your account and see what is coming and switch items out yourself by choosing other items that are available that week – usually there are at least 10 additional items to choose from. I LOVE this option!
3. Delivery time – boxes are delivered overnight at the same time every week so when you wake up it’s there. No need to worry about having a delivery midday and everything going bad while sitting out in the sun.
4. Customer service – the website was easy to navigate and the process from signing up to receiving goods was a breeze. Customer service has been checking in to see if my deliveries were on time, produce was in good condition and to see if I had any concerns.

Cons:
1. Exemption list – they only allow you to select 5 items to exclude. If you don’t have time to go to your account and make changes each week you may receive things you don’t like or need. I happen to have a lot of exclusions because I have several citrus trees, herbs and veg growing in my yard so 5 doesn’t cut it.
2. Delivery schedule – boxes are scheduled to be delivered automatically every week. You have to personally contact the company if you want to skip a week or place a hold on your account. Not a big deal but a little incovienent. I would prefer to be able to login to my account and make adjustments to an online calendar instead of having to send emails or make phone calls. *They fixed this issue in August!

The pros definitely out-way the cons so give Full Circle a try. Next shipment, I plan to order salmon!

Website: http://www.fullcircle.com/

COUPON OFFER: $10 off your first box. Use promo code (exp 12/13): SOCIAL10

If you decide to sign up, please let them know Nicole Whalen referred you.

Risotto with Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms & Truffle Oil


This was the  first recipe I made with items from my Full Circle organic produce delivery. Mike is not a fan of truffle oil but he loved this dish. All the ingredients worked together magically!

Tip: It was hot out and I was not about to turn on the oven… so for the mushrooms I just sauteed them in a pan!

shrooms & onions                     leeks & cream                              rice & stock

Recipe link
Bon Appétit | September 2007

Green Bean Spaghetti Carbonara


This was soooo good….like breakfast for dinner. I did add the egg to the noodles too early which ended up making my sauce more scrambled than oozy but that didn’t stop me from devouring every last bite. Next time, I will remember to let my spaghetti cool a bit before mixing all the ingredients. I had some spinach on hand so I added that to the bacon/onion mixture. Yum.

Recipe link
Rachael Ray Magazine /Oct 2011

Carrot Soup with Thyme and Fennel


If you have any leftover carrots that the Easter bunny didn’t eat or your CSA gave you a ton … try this soup. Honestly, if I didn’t make this myself I would have had no idea it was carrot. The combo of thyme and fennel creates a super unique flavor that I could not get enough of. Mike and I really enjoyed this.

Recipe link
Bon Appétit | March 1999

Guinness Float


Our St. Patrick’s day was spent as usual making corned beef. This year we made reuben sandwiches and for dessert I decided to make floats. I’m not a Guinness kinda gal, but my Irishman is, so this was my gift to him. It’s a pretty involved cocktail to make but he thoroughly enjoyed it so it was worth the time. I downed the ice cream and the whipped topping but most of the bitter stout remained in the glass. All that was left of Mike’s was a bit o’ cream on the tip of his nose.

Recipe link
Bon Appetit magazine / Feb 2011

reuben

Past corned beef recipes:
Guinness Corned Beef and Cabbage
Basic Corned Beef Sandwich
Corned Beef Hash with Fried egg

Bacon-Infused Carolina Fish Stew


We arrived late in the morning to the fish booth at the Los Gatos farmers market and missed out on the lobster tail special they had so the fish lady suggested we try her insanely huge prawns instead. She said they tasted just like lobster and she was not kidding! I knew exactly how I wanted to use them… I had just read the Feb. issue of BA and this recipe jumped out at me. To go with the massive shrimps we picked up some cod and halibut from Whole Foods. The result was a pool of wonderfully sweet, salty,clammy, smokey flavors. I will for sure make this again in the future.

BTW -we used polenta instead of the suggested grits but I’m sure it would be great with grits or rice.

Note: The real name of this dish is Bacon-Infused Carolina Fish Muddle but the word muddle is unappetizing to me so I changed it.

Recipe link
Bon Appetit magazine / FEBRUARY 2012

Minny’s Chocolate Pie from “The Help”


Here is the recipe for the famous pie seen in the film “The Help” …minus the special ingredient! This was super simple to make and really delicious with just the right amount of chocolate. Make it for your Oscar party this weekend and you will be WINNING!

Recipe link
Food & Wine Mag/ Aug 2011

Potato Latkes


I’ve had the best of both worlds because I’ve grown up celebrating both Chanukah and Christmas. This year my parents came to my house to celebrate Chanukah and we made latkes. When I broke out my new Cuisinart food processor to grate the potatoes and onion my mom shook her head in dismay. “I always use a grater,” she said, “we are not making hashbrowns!”

My mom likes her potato and onion mixture to be like mush, not shredded. So after I used the shredder attachment and it was not to her liking I changed the blade and gave it a few pulses to get it to her perfect consistency. Making latkes is pretty simple and delicious. Happy Chanukah!

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside

My Mom’s Latkes Recipe
Makes about 16

Ingredients:
2 large russet potatoes (peeled)
1 onion
1 tsp. salt
1 egg (beaten)
3 Tbsp. matzo meal
Vegetable oil to fry
Apple Sauce & Sour cream for serving

Instructions:
Grate the onion and potatoes with a box grater or as I described above (much faster!) into a bowl. Then mix with the remaining ingredients. Heat a skillet with vegetable oil (enough to cover 1/2 of the pancakes) over high heat. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil (don’t crowd) and fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain the latkes on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve with apple sauce and sour cream.

Coconut Macaroons


For holiday gifts this year I chose to make the 2011 Food & Wine magazine coconut macaroons because I thought it was going to be quick and easy. I was wrong. My first batch was a disaster. I tried to half the recipe because it said it made 40 and I only needed 20. What resulted was a bunch of coconut pancake-like cookies.

Round 1 = EPIC FAIL

I tried again and made the full amount because it was obvious I didn’t have enough coconut. Whoever “tested and perfected” this recipe at F&W mag didn’t do a good job.

Reason 1 – The recipe doesn’t come close to making 40 macaroons as stated, it was more like 25.
Reason 2 -Don’t bake for 25 minutes! If you don’t want badly burnt cookies watch them carefully once they hit 10 minutes in the oven …anything over 15 and you are in trouble.
Reason 3 – There was no mention that the macaroons may run during baking so if you want them to look like what you see in a store (round balls) then you will have to trim the edges.
Reason 4 – They say to stick the finished product in the fridge for about 5 minutes for the chocolate to set. It takes a good 20 min.

In the end they still tasted killer but in order to not have to doctor them up to look presentable they need either more coconut or less sweetened condensed milk.

Recipe link
Food & Wine magazine, Dec. 2011

Delicata Squash Soup


I’d never seen or tasted a delicata squash until it arrived in our CSA delivery. After some research I found out that it is sweet and most commonly prepared by simply roasting it in the oven, but I decided to take it a step further and make it into a soup.

You know it's a delicata squash by the cool green stripes

When they said it was sweet I expected flavors similar to a butternut squash but it was much more subtle. This tasted like a potato soup with a touch of sweetness. I’ve made many squash soups and sometimes they turn out bland but this, although mild, I found uniquely delicious.

Recipe link
Food & Wine magazine / Feb 1999

For more winter squash recipes check out other bloggers participating in the Food Network’s Fall Fest (a season long franchise where Food Network editors team up with blogs to share tips and recipes about seasonal produce every week)…

 

 

And Love It Too: Warm Winter Chili
The Sensitive Epicure: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Cooking Channel: Kabocha Squash Pasta
CIA Dropout: Stuffed Winter Squash
What’s Gaby Cooking: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Dishin and Dishes: Butternut Squash Bisque With Sage Cream
FN Dish: Simply Roasted Winter Squash
Napa Farmhouse 1885:
Pomme d’or With Wild Mushroom Risotto

Baked Beet Ravioli with Poppy Seed Butter


Our CSA delivery was overflowing with beets in November. Since I was tired of making beet salads I started looking for a unique way to use them when this ravioli recipe grabbed my attention.

If you are not a fan of beets this is not going to convert you. You have to like the flavor because it is prominent. If you enjoy beets like I do you will find these truly satisfying. The only change I would make to the recipe next time is maybe use a more pungent cheese like blue. Other reviewers said they had tried that and I can see that really kicking up the flavor.


I made a few modifications to the  Bon Appétit  recipe.
1. I’m lazy so I chose to use wonton wrappers instead of fresh pasta (they suggested this option to save time)
2. Instead of boiling the ravioli’s I followed the directions on the wonton package to bake them. Preheat oven to 375. Mist a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Place filled ravioli onto prepared baking sheet and brush tops of ravioli lightly with olive oil then bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Then I spooned over the poppy seed butter (which I added sage to).

This baked version would be better served as an Appetizer – cut in triangles with the butter on the side for dipping.

Recipe link
Bon Appétit  | May 2005

For more tasty beet recipes check out other bloggers participating in the Food Network’s Fall Fest (a season long franchise where Food Network editors team up with blogs to share tips and recipes about seasonal produce every week)…

 

 

What’s Gaby Cooking: Farro Beet and Herb Salad
My Angel’s Allergies:
Roasted Beet and Potato Vinaigrette Salad
Cooking Channel:
Garlicky Beet Salad With Walnuts and Dates
The Sensitive Epicure:
Simply Sauteed Beets
FN Dish:
Top 3 Beet Salad Recipes
And Love It Too: Raw, Vegan and Sugar-Free Red Velvet Fudge
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Beet Salad With Crispy Leeks and Bacon
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Beet Salad With Bacon Vinaigrette

Garlic-Pesto, Brie & Onion Burger


We love burgers…this time it was made with beef from our grass-fed beef club. The meat was fantastic. This recipe is from the burger queen herself, Miss Ray. Tasty…but not good for a first date.

Recipe link
Rachael Ray

Project Open Hand Peanut Butter

Project Open Hand peanut butter is all natural, trans-fat free, and contains ONE ingredient – peanuts!

Project Open Hand, a San Francisco non-profit food relief organization that provides meals and groceries to the city’s most vulnerable residents is now selling their popular homemade peanut butter to the Bay Area masses. Check out their story…

Purchase it at Project Open Hand – 730 Polk Street or SF Whole Foods markets.

Also, find the peanut butter featured in Humphry Slocombe ice cream flavor “Open Hand Fluffer Nutter” and Dynamo Donut’s  “Open Hand Peanut Buddy” donut!

Project Open Hand provided me with a sample of the honey roasted peanut butter and, WOW,  it was the best I’ve ever tasted. I decided to use some of it in a peanut butter milk chocolate pudding dessert. It turned out wonderfully creamy and soooo flavorful. If you can get your hands on some of this stuff you will be a happy camper and supporting a great cause.

Recipe link
Bon Appétit  | January 2009

Website: http://www.openhand.org/

Strawberry Blintz Ebelskivers


The ebelskivers are back and better than ever! Imagine a blintz and a pancake all rolled into one. These were over the top good. We again saved a little time by using the Williams Sonoma mix. The recipe suggests using 1 tsp. of filling but use close to 2 …you’ll thank me.


Recipe link

Ebelskivers from the past…
Chocolate Ebelskivers
Cinnamon-Bun Ebelskiver

Braised Lamb Shanks with Rosemary


Our glorious grass fed beef club sent us these bad boys. First time making lamb shanks in our house and we will be making them again. Fall off the bone yumminess!

Recipe link
Bon Appétit  | February 1997

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble


For the first time we received a few stalks of rhubarb in our CSA. I had never cooked it before so went on a search for a recipe. There was a trend to use it in a compote or baked good (pie/cake) and almost always with strawberries. I decided to go with the easiest and fastest …. a crumble.

It turned out really tasty and super sweet. Rhubarb looks like red celery and I didn’t taste it raw but it’s supposed to be tart, so to compensate the recipe used a lot of sugar. With a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream (we tried both) it makes for the perfect summer dessert.

Modifications we made: we used walnuts and added a little corn starch to the filling to keep it from getting runny per the comments others made.

Recipe link
Bon Appétit  | May 2010

Avocado Ice Cream


As soon as I saw Rick Bayless’s avocado ice cream on Top Chef Masters in 2009 I knew one day I would make it. When I received a box of lovely ripe avocados from the California Avocado Commission this recipe instantly popped back into my head.


I decided to cut the recipe in half and initially used two avocados but when I tried the final product it was more of a icy sorbet and the tequila was a bit over-powering. Not what I was going for so Mike suggested that I add another blended avocado to the mix. I did and the result was perfect…creamy, sweet avocado with a hint of tequila. This ice cream would be great as a “palate cleanser” during a multi course meal.


To ensure you are getting the best most nutritious avocados INSIST ON CALIFORNIA AVOCADOS!

Recipe link

Note: I received these avocados courtesy of the California Avocado Commission as part of the Foodbuzz tastemaker program.

Burgers with Blue Cheese Mayo and Sherry Vidalia Onions


Mmmm Mmmm good. The sherry onions were the best part. Even though summer is no where to be seen in the Bay Area we still BBQ’d in the rain this weekend.

Recipe link
Cooking Light Magazine /June 2011

Tres Agaves Margarita Kit


Tres Agaves, a local Tequila producer, contacted me to see if I wanted to try out their new margarita kit. They must of known I needed a drink! Tres Agaves’ entire product line has been carefully designed to help people make a delicious margarita at home using the only agave nectar that is cocktail-ready – in addition to their award-winning line of tequilas.

The kit makes over 12 margaritas and includes: Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila (100% agave /unaged), Cocktail-Ready Organic Agave Nectar and a custom lime squeezer.

What makes the lime squeezer special? Built in measuring cups! Smart design.


The Tres Agaves Margarita

– 2 ounces Tres Agaves Blanco tequila
– 1 ounce agave syrup
– 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a glass with fresh ice.


This was a fabulous margarita. It had the perfect balance of sweetness to alcohol and I had a nice buzz after only one drink. Best part it’s low in calories! I think I see the next fad diet…

Website: http://www.tresagaves.com/

Note: If you are too lazy to squeeze the limes and pour the nectar try the 68 calorie margarita mix.

5 Minute Focaccia Mix


Mike’s childhood friend, Claudia Pruett, dropped off samples of her new product called 5 Minute Focaccia Mix. We received all 4 flavors (original,rosemary,raisin,choc chip) but decided to go with rosemary for our first time.

only 3 ingredients needed: mix,sparkling water,oil

Here is a video of us making the fragrant and yummy rosemary bread.

The process was fast & easy but the end result although tasty was a little thinner than expected. Along with the mix Claudia gave us some focaccia she had prepared and it was wonderfully thick and spongy. We are attributing the difference to the rising time because she said she lets the dough rise overnight and we only let it sit for 4.5 hours. It probably needs 7-10.

Focaccia can result in a very oily texture. We wanted to try and make it a little less so we used half the amount of oil called for. The dough did soak up a lot of the oil so next time we will probably use a little more than half.

Buy the A Tavola Together 5 minute focaccia mix  here! If you’re local I’ve also seen it at the Los Gatos NapaStyle store.

Check out her cookbook too!

Website: http://www.atavolatogether.com/

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies


Whoopie! Mike gave me this Red Velvet whoopie pie mix for xmas. We decided to wait and make them for a party we were attending because I didn’t want to be tempted to eat them all… which I would have easily done.


The directions were easy to follow and they turned out like expected (although a bit stingy with the filling mixture – I could have used a tad more). They were a hit at the party.

You can pick up a batch at Sur la table

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Grits


Today they are celebrating Fat Tuesday in New Orleans so here is a little Big Easy flavor for you. This Shrimp and Grits recipe is super easy and fast to prepare – you’ll be done in less than 20 minutes! How can you go wrong with plump garlicky shrimp and cheesy grits? You can’t….this was wonderful.

Note: next time I will double the sauce.

Recipe link
Food Network magazine, December 2010

Recchiuti Confections S’mores Kit

We spent Valentine’s day at home again this year but I didn’t mind because we made S’mores from Recchiuti Confections. Mike and I picked up a S’mores kit last time we were at the Ferry building in San Francisco and this was the perfect occasion to break it out.

Inside the fancy box you will find 9 handmade Marshmallows, 8 Recchiuti Grahams and a Recchiuti Bittersweet 85% Chocolate Bar.

It’s a grown up version of the classic dessert that is out of the world. The homemade graham crackers are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and the pillowy marshmallows are made with vanilla beans. You can make them in the oven (like we did since it was rainy and cold out) or you can do it the old fashioned way over an open flame.

Either way, you’ll be super happy with the results.

It’s the perfect little package. I plan on giving these out as birthday/holiday/hostess gifts this year so if you want one… invite me to a party :wink:.

Mike liked the sandwich

I preferred open face

Get yours here: http://www.recchiuti.com/109.html

Cider Bourbon-Glazed Roast Turkey with Shallot Gravy


Turkey, Turkey, Turkey why do you give us so much trouble every year (the time is never right and neither is the temp on the thermometer)? This Thanksgiving we decided to use the Cider Bourbon glaze from Williams-Sonoma. The turkey, once finally done, came out delish and moist. We really loved the glaze. It was sweet with a hint of spice. We followed the directions from WS but skipped the brine and instead used butter, salt & pepper on the outside and stuffed the cavity with fresh herbs. We brined last year and it seemed like a lot of work without much added benefit. The gravy was tasty but not sure it was worth having to buy $29 demi-glace.

Recipe link

Potato, Leek and Broccoli Soup with Pancetta Crumbs


It’s all about the bacon crumbs (we didn’t have pancetta)! Really nice creamy soup with a crunchy, salty, herby crumble on top.

Recipe link
Food & Wine Magazine| Nov 2010

Heirloom Tomato and Bacon Green Beans


This recipe is actually called “Summer’s Tomato Green Bean Bounty” but as soon as I ate it I thought, “man these would be dyn-o-mite at Thanksgiving.” They tasted awesome and were even better the next day (we had a monster CSA delivery of green beans). If you are in need of a holiday side dish look no further.

Recipe Link
Epicurious / August 2001

BBQ Patty Melt


I was inspired by a recent article Serious Eats wrote called: How to Make The Ultimate Patty Melt. My favorite burger is a patty melt. Always has been, always will be. Forget about lettuce, tomatoes, fancy mustard’s, aioli’s and chipotle ketchup’s. For a perfect burger all you need is quality bread, meat, cheese and onions.

I was drooling as I read the article but I didn’t feel like stinking up the house by frying so I decided to challenge Mike to make the darn things on the grill. He happily accepted.

We headed out to the market to pick up the ingredients:

  • Jewish Rye bread (I never new there were so many choices)
  • Aged Swiss
  • Kraft American cheese
  • Large Sweet onion
  • 1 lb 80/20 ground beef (made 3 patties)
  • butter

When we returned we fired up the grill.

Mike made the patties kinda in the shape of the bread and added salt & pepper. I sliced up the onions and buttered one side of each piece of bread. Then we moved outdoors. Mike began to grill the meat and I started the onions on the grill’s burner (following the Serious Eats directions works well). When the meat was coming close to medium we placed some cheese on top and put the bread on the grill butter side down. Then we topped the bread with more cheese and the caramelized onions. Once everything was melty we sandwiched it all together and chowed down.

I don’t think I’ll ever make a Patty Melt on the stove again. This came out fantastic and not all greasy like it usually is. The meat was tender, the cheese gooey and the onions sweet. Perfection!

S’more Pie

We had an end of the summer BBQ and needed a dessert. S’more pie immediately came to mind. I had seen a couple versions online and I ultimately went with Smitten Kitchen’s take. I was limited in time so I did get some help from the Keebler elves for the pie crust (which I wouldn’t recommend because it was too thin and you could barely taste it). The marshmallow topping was grand but took much longer than the 5 minutes written in the recipe –more like 15. I almost gave up after the majority of the hot sugar got stuck to the side of my mixer but I just let it beat on and it turned out perfect, but maybe a little less sweet due to the loss of sugar on the bowl. I was amazed at the outcome.


The pie was a hit at the party although next time I would use a milk chocolate to get a more campfire Hersey like feel… this was rather dark in flavor.

Recipe link

Tomato and Pepper Gazpacho with Sherry

Our CSA produce delivery gave us 4-5 lbs of tomatoes in a single week (3 varietals). That’s a lot of tomats! There was also a couple cucumbers so making a gazpacho was a no-brainer. This José Andrés recipe was delightful.

Recipe link
Bon Appetit /September 2010

Momofuku Crack Pie


Everyone under the sun has swooned over the “crack pie” from Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. When I saw the recipe in Bon Appetit I thought I better make it since I have no plans to visit NYC in the near future. I gotta say I was a bit worried about the lack of ingredients. All it really called for was butter, eggs, sugar, oats and cream. How could that be a pie? It sounded more like a cookie so I looked around the web to see how other people’s pies turned out. The only thing I found was a bunch of inconsistencies. There are many recipes on the net and none are the same. Baking times & temp to ingredients differ. I think pastry chef Christina Tosi doesn’t really want us all to know how to make her addictive pie! But in the end it turned out fabulous. It smelled and tasted like a gooey buttery caramel oat bar.

Tip: I read that some people complained that the pie was a runny pool of butter. You have to cook it for at least 30 minutes AND let the pie rest 2 hours then sit in the fridge preferably overnight. Don’t be impatient…it’s worth the wait!

Also, the BA recipe said to bake for a total of 50 minutes. I did it for 45 because the online comments said it was a bit overcooked. Next time I’ll probably bake for 35 (25 min on 350° & 10 min on 325°) just for a tad more gooeyness.

Recipe link
Bon Appetit Magazine / September 2010

Roasted Pepper Bruschetta


Best Bruschetta EVER! We made two changes to the recipe —

1) added garlic to the tomato mixture (a must!)

2) we used mozzarella & parm because that’s what we had in the fridge.

The peppers are hard to see but they are underneath the cheese & tomatoes

This was even better than many of the tapas we had in Spain and a great way to use up the end of summer heirlooms.

Recipe link
Bon Appétit | September 2002

Lemon Cake


Mike adores anything lemon. So when we needed to use up 10 lemons from our new burgeoning lemon tree I decided to make Ina Garten’s lemon cake. I had bookmarked the recipe eons ago due to its stellar reviews. The cake turned out delicious. It’s a cross between cake and pound cake. It was tangy and sweet. Most of the cakes zip came from the glaze so if you want to tone down the tartness use less lemon juice in the glaze or omit it all together.

Tip: Don’t make this too far ahead of when you want to serve because it did dry out after a day.

Recipe link
Food Network, Barefoot Contessa / 2001

Shrimp-and-Corn Chowder


The corn is the star of this dish! If you don’t have fresh, sweet corn on the cob don’t bother making this recipe. Unlike most chowders this is light and healthy…don’t let the name fool you. A grand summer supper.

Tip: I made this on the stove top but still grilled the shrimp on the BBQ.

Recipe link
Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine /Aug. 2010

Scallops with Mushrooms in White-Wine Sauce


This was killer…literally. I could hear my heart cry as I devoured every morsel. Mike and I are trying to get back in shape by doing the P90X workout. This is not on the diet but this is what Mike decided to prepare for dinner the other night. He obviously didn’t read the ingredients before going to the store. Heavy cream, butter, cheese, egg yolk, and more butter! It was sinfully delicious though. The sauce was the one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It would be a perfect starter course. Really don’t attempt to eat this as a main dish as we did.

I just decided Mike was preparing us for our trip to Paris. We leave in 1 week!!!

Recipe link
Gourmet | January 2003

Shrimp and Fingerling Potatoes in Tomato Broth


My bread was super happy to slop up this broth. It was tasty and hearty but next time I would add some more variety of fish. Maybe scallops and halibut.

Recipe link
Bon Appétit | February 2009

Grilled Pizza

I’ve read articles about grilling pizza for years. We finally gave it a go. I don’t know if I’ve said it before but pizza may be my favorite food. I can eat it daily. To make life easy we used Trader Joe’s pre-made pizza dough. A 1 pound ball produces one large regular crust pizza with a crispy outside and soft inside or two thin crust pizzas. We had 2 balls one white and one wheat so we tried both sizes. It was much easier to make two small pizza’s… being able to flip raw dough onto the grill without making a mess takes mad skilz.

What we made:
Wheat pizza dough with onions,peppers, shrooms, buffalo mozz and tomato sauce.
White pizza dough with tomato sauce, buffalo mozz, fresh basil, crushed black pepper and sea salt.

Step by Step Instructions

The directions say to brush the raw dough with olive oil before grilling. We used olive oil mixed with crushed garlic cloves to add a little zing.

It was time consuming to make but well worth it. The pizza turned out delicious. Just like those fancy artisanal pizza joints with brick ovens.

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Filet Mignons with Whisky Mushroom Sauce


The first recipe we decided to prepare from Steven Raichlen’s new BBQ cookbook was Filet Mignons with Whisky Mushroom Sauce a dish from Uraguay. It’s beef wrapped in bacon smothered in a creamy wild mushroom sauce. What’s not to like?

Recipe adapted from PLANET BARBECUE!: An Electrifying Journey Around the World’s Barbecue Trail by S. Raichlen (Workman, May 2010).

Serves 4

Ingredients

Sauce:
12 ounces wild mushrooms (porcini, chantrelle)
2 tbsp (1/4 stick) butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp scotch whisky
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
kosher salt & ground pepper

Steaks:
4 filet mignons (each 1.5 inches thick & 6-8 ounces)
4 slices country style bacon
8 bay leaves (optional)
butcher string

Preparation

Make the sauce:  Trim/clean mushrooms and thinly slice. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until translucent but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and increase heat to high. Cook until tender stirring often and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, until flour evenly coats the mushrooms, about 1 minute. Stir in beef stock and cream bring to boil, stirring well. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Add whisky, mustard, lemon zest and stir until blended, about 2 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Sauce can be prepared up to 1 hour ahead and kept warm.

Prepare the steaks: Wrap a slice of bacon around the side of each filet, sandwiching 2 bay leaves, if using, between the bacon and beef on opposite sides. Tie bacon in place with butcher string. Season top and bottom of steaks with salt & pepper.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. To be authentic you’d grill over oak or eucalyptus embers.

When ready to cook, brush and oil grill grate. Arrange filets on the hot grate and grill to taste 4-6 minutes per side for med-rare. Don’t forget to grill the sides to brown the bacon.

Transfer steaks to plate and remove string. Spoon sauce over the top and serve at once.

See my review of the cookbook here

Buy the book here


Chicken Tostadas


I find Mexican food the most difficult cuisine to make at home. My tacos, fajitas & enchiladas never taste as good as they do in a restaurant… until now. This recipe blew me away.

Recipe link
Gourmet | July 2008

Roasted Beet, Onion and Orange Salad


My new favorite thing is roasted pearl onions. Soooo good! I can’t believe this is the first time we made them?!

Recipe link

Gale Gand’s Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding


Rice pudding was a lot easier to make then I thought. The vanilla beans looked so pretty and the flavor was outstanding. We used an entire vanilla bean instead of half  — what a waste not to. We served it with strawberries as suggested the first time but the next we used ripe banana slices and I gotta say I liked it even better. Tasted like a banana cream pie. The consistency was thick and creamy, not at all runny like grocery store pudding can be. A wonderful, fast, easy treat.

Tips: This was sweet even by my standards so I would recommend adding the sugar slowly and tasting to see how much you like.

The rice also could have been a little softer so I would leave it on the stove for 30 minutes instead of 20.

Recipe link
Food & Wine magazine /Sept. 2004

Pink Lemonade


Mike and I planted two lemon trees in our backyard over 4 years ago and we have yet to see a single piece of fruit. We tried planting them in different parts of the yard and used numerous soils but they would not grow. We had no idea what we were doing wrong so we came to the conclusion that we had bought duds and went to the nursery to buy another. This time we passed on the tiny $10 trees and went for a big boy – one that actually had a good amount of flowers/buds. We planted it in the Fall and look at it now!! WE GOT LEMONS!!!

The first thing I made was lemonade because it was finally warm and not raining last weekend. This recipe is a bit unique. I’d never thought to make lemonade in a blender. It gave it a nice frothy consistency. This can taste just like the stuff you get at Hot Dog on a Stick™ if you add more grenadine (which I did on my second batch).

Recipe link
We have been on a unintentional Ina Garten cooking spree lately.

Chicken Pot Pie



This is not the pot pie I grew up eating. The filling is not thick and creamy it’s more of a broth base which makes it seem more healthy than it probably is. When the buttery pastry deflated down into the bowl and got all saucy it was delicious. We made 4 pies and ate 2 a few days later and it was just as tasty. It’s a very warm and hearty meal.

Modifications to save time: We BBQ’d a couple boneless chicken breasts instead of roasting and we used pre-made puff pastry for the tops.

Recipe link

Italian Wedding Soup

The contessa really put her foot in this soup.

This really should be called super yummy meatball soup. I didn’t think I would enjoy a chicken meatball so much but without them this soup would be boring. I plan on making these meatballs to add to my next bowl of spaghetti.

Tip: Don’t be afraid of the dill. It really adds to the dish.

Recipe link

Corned Beef Hash with Fried egg


We had a bunch of left over corned beef so I decided to try and make a hash. It came out pretty well for a first attempt. To save time I cheated a bit by using a bag of frozen “Ore-Ida Potatoes O’Brien” (cubed potatoes with onions & peppers). I also left out the cream as it seemed unnecessary. It was a meal indeed.

Recipe link
Gourmet | December 1999

Corned Beef Sandwich


I hope everyone had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day! This year I kept things simple. Corned Beef, Swiss cheese and Emeril’s Horseradish Mustard on Irish soda bread. I really wanted to make rye bread but couldn’t figure out a way to do it in less than an hour so that’s how soda bread made it into the sando equation. Soda bread is the simplest thing to make and has a very similar flavor to rye. See recipe  here

We picked up the beef from Costco and prepared it according to the directions on the package. Drop in pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer 3 hours. So easy!

I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again…boiling meat sounds wrong but in this case it is sooo right! The result is succulent and tender.

If you want to see the Guinness corned beef we made last year go here

Yum!

Bacon and Cabbage Soup


If Willy Wonka made a soup it would look like this. I made some modifications to the original recipe and created something very unique. Instead of Savoy cabbage I used Red and instead of yukon gold potatoes I used Red which is weird because the soup turned out purple. People who know me will think I did this on purpose because purple is my favorite color but I really had no clue that this would be the outcome of my tinkering with the ingredients.

The end result was far from “grape” tasting. It actually just tasted like potatoes. If I closed my eyes it was a little easier to eat.

I garnished with homemade croutons, parsley and additional bacon.

Recipe link

Milk Chocolate Soufflé


Mmmm Mmmm good!  I needed a fancy dessert for a Valentine’s day at home. The milk chocolate Soufflé in the February issue of Bon Appétit called to me.  It was insanely easy to make and more importantly could be done ahead of time. The end result was light, airy, puffed perfection. I passed on the whip that was supposed to go with this and instead made a baileys cream (heavy cream,powdered sugar,baileys). This recipe is a keeper!

Note: I used my complimentary supply of farm fresh eggs from Eggland’s Best to prepare this. Their eggs are so healthy that I didn’t feel bad eating two Soufflés…

Recipe link
Bon Appétit | February 2010

Kiwi Ice Cream


Yes, I thought this would be gross. Mike finally decided to use the 6 kiwi’s that had been sitting in our fridge for 2 weeks. He transformed them into a uniquely creamy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

It was surprisingly good and very sweet. It had a fresh, clean taste that reminded me of a sorbet. A small scoop is all you need to be satisfied.

Recipe link

Chocolate Ebelskivers


It was time to test the new chocolate ebelskiver mix from WS. We used three different fillings and they all turned out wicked awesome but the caramel was the best!

Nutella, Peanut Butter and Caramel Filled

If you want to see the full process of making an ebelskiver check out my Cinnamon-Bun Ebelskiver post.

The recipe for Chocolate Ebelskivers is on the mix if you buy it. If you don’t, I’ve attempted to give you a recipe below…

For the pancakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking
  • cocoa powder (if you want to make them chocolate)

For the filling:
We used Nutella, Peanut butter and Caramel sauce right out of the jars (placed them in the fridge for 10 minutes b4 so they would be easier to work with). You want it to be a paste like consistency not soft and runny.

Directions:
To make the pancakes, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk and the 4 Tbs. melted butter. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions.

Put 1/8 tsp. melted butter in each well of a filled-pancake pan. Set over medium heat and heat until the butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 Tbs. batter into each well. Spoon 1 tsp. of the filling of your choice into the center of each pancake and top with 1 Tbs. batter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Using 2 skewers, flip the pancakes over and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the pancakes to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling. Dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 35 to 40.

More ebelskiver recipes:
Strawberry Blintz Ebelskivers
Cinnamon-Bun Ebelskiver

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon


What to do with a bushel of carrots from your latest CSA delivery? MAKE CARROT SOUP!! Man, this was good. Ginger and lemon are a fantastic compliment to carrots. I would have never guessed.

They say to serve with sour cream but it’s good with or without.

Tip: half the amount of butter is plenty.

Recipe link
Bon Appétit | June 1997

Espresso Toffee & Chocolate Fudge


Happy holidays everyone! For the first time we decided to make sweet gifts for the family. To our surprise everything turned out perfect. I thought making toffee and fudge were recipes for disaster but they were really easy to prepare. Add some tins from the dollar store and you have a very festive gift.


Tip: after smoothing out the chocolate on top of the toffee don’t just toss it in the fridge. Let it sit for like 10 minutes to make sure all the chips melt completely. We didn’t, which just meant when we broke it up there were some chips still in tact. No biggie.


This fudge was made with mostly milk chocolate so it was not super rich which is my preference.

Toffee recipe link
Fudge recipe link

Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter, Sage and Nutmeg Creme Fraiche

Check it out… We finally made a recipe from our Thomas Keller “Bouchon” cookbook! Mike whipped this soup up on a week night to boot! It was not super difficult to make and it turned out fantastic. Sweet with a little spice. This would be a perfect starter course at a dinner party especially during the holidays.

Recipe link

Thanksgiving 2009 Recap


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This year Mike and I were given the task to make a turkey, green beans, cranberry sauce and gravy.

After much deliberation and many hours looking through foodie magazines we decided to go with the following recipes:

  • Sage Butter-Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy (Bon Appétit, November 2009)
  • Bacon Braised Green Beans by Emeril Lagasse (Food Network magazine, November 2009)
  • Cranberry, Pomegranate, and Meyer Lemon Relish (Bon Appétit, November 2008)

Mike and I have yet to master the art of cooking a turkey. It gives us problems every year. It just never seems to cook all the way through. Even with all the trouble the breast meat was nice and the gravy was fantastic but next year I want ham! The cranberries were tart and lovely but the green beans were the star of the meal. I lost track of all the compliments I received. These were super simple to prepare and I have a feeling I will be asked to make these again next year!

Recipe link – beans
Recipe link – turkey & gravy
Recipe link – cranberries

Tip: if you try the turkey recipe make sure you remove most of the salt rub before cooking the bird. Also, clean out the bottom of the pan so your gravy isn’t too salty.

Foodbuzz 24,24,24: Lobster Gram

live lobsters
I’ve been c-r-a-v-i-n-g lobster. The kind of lobster I had growing up in Massachusetts when my family would hop in our station wagon and drive to New Hampshire in search of the ultimate lobster meal. Since moving to California, long gone are the days of cheap, simple lobster eats. Lobster tends to be insanely expensive and come in extreme forms. I don’t want lobster sliders, sushi rolls or mac & cheese. I’m going back to basics…I want a lobster so fresh and tasty all it needs is a little drawn butter to make my mouth water. Head, tail, legs and guts. I wanna get my hands dirty and maybe even my shirt. Lobster Gram to the rescue!

Thanks to Foodbuzz and their monthly blogging event where they sponsor 24 people to create 24 meals in 24 hours Mike and I were transported back in time to one of my fondest childhood memories. We had LIVE Maine lobsters delivered to our door from one of the top lobster delivery services on the net…Lobster Gram.

WOW! what a day…the lobsters arrived right on time and were alive and kickin’, well actually they were a bit jet-lagged initially but they perked up. I was amazed to find that they were so fresh that there was no fishy smell at all. Not even the shipping container smelled. The box comes with everything you could possibly need to create the perfect dinner: lobstergramstuffa great detailed cooking guide, lemons, butter, bibs, crackers, picks and hand wipes. The entire process of ordering online to cooking was surprisingly simple. Lobster Gram makes things fool proof. The end result was FANTASTIC! The lobster was super tender and sweet. It didn’t even need butter… but that didn’t stop us from using it!

Here is a video that shows the delivery, prep and the plunge into the pot:

To complete our crustacean feast we prepared the following sides:

cheddarbis

Cheddar Biscuits with Garlic Butter

Corn

Corn on the Cob with Shallot -Thyme Butter

The only modification to the biscuit recipe we made was to double the amount of garlic. They were really fast and easy to make. Awesome right out of the oven. The corn had wonderful flavor. The only change next time would be to use corn off the cob so we don’t lose all the buttery shallot goodness on the plate!

and for dessert…

tart

Apple Galette with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla cream

This treat consisted of sliced apples on top of a 5″ circular puff pastry and what you can’t see is what makes it taste so unique – under the apples is a half dollar size disc of pure almond paste. We’d never used almond paste before and a little goes a long way. Yum!

If you’ve ever considered having  lobsters delivered — JUST DO IT!! This was a totally fun and rewarding experience! I can’t wait to do it again and again and again…

lobster

Beauty shot!

Recipe links:
Apple Galettes with Caramel Sauce
Corn on the Cob with Shallot-Thyme Butter
Cheddar biscuits

GET YOUR LOBSTERS HERE — Website: http://www.livelob.com/
$10 off coupon code: COOKMAN9   — expires 12/31/09

Nutella Pound Cake

nutella
When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. It looked sooooo good. The end product was more bread-like then the usual moist buttery pound cake consistency but still wonderful. When nutella is cooked the potent flavor of hazelnut transforms into a lovely light chocolate. As suggested we served this with homemade coffee ice cream that Mike made. Scrumptious!

Note: The recipe says use the entire container of nutella… it will seem like a lot but it really isn’t.

Recipe link
Food & Wine magazine /Oct 2009

Beet Risotto

beet2

burrellpinotI wanted to try something new with our beets — no roasting or salads. The October 2009 Food & Wine magazine had the solution…risotto! Not only was it tasty but it was gorgeous to look at. To accompany the risotto Mike served a fantastic Pinot from Burrell School Winery. It had tons of berry flavor and a hint of spice which is what made it so nice with the risotto – it added a bit of a kick to the meal. Burrell is a hidden jewel in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The wines are complex, unique and very affordable. Stop by the old, red school house and taste some great wine, meet wonderful people and take in the spectacular view.

Recipe link
Burrell School website: http://www.burrellschool.com/

Cinnamon-Crunch Peach Sundaes

peachsundae
Yum! I was looking for a way to use up some peaches and this is what I found! Ice cream covered in lemon marinated peaches, buttery graham cracker crumble and a cinnamon syrup. The little crunchies make the sundae. If you’re smart you’ll double the recipe. Honestly, you really don’t need the syrup. It’s grand with or without.

view from the top

view from the top

vanillastarterFor the vanilla ice cream we used the Williams-Sonoma Ice cream starter. The few egg based ice creams we’ve made have not impressed me. They are overly creamy and have a milky taste so when I saw this mix I snapped it up. It was fantastic and does not skimp on the Madagascar Bourbon. The flavor was bananas – not literally… I will use this again and again even though it’s a bit overpriced. Need an ice cream maker? This one is awesome.

Recipe link

Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Port Sauce

pork&figs
We got a box of figs in our produce shipment and I had no idea what to do with them. We had never cooked with figs. I ended up winging it because I couldn’t find one recipe that had everything I wanted. First I slathered a pork loin with evoo, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary and thyme. Mike then threw it on the grill and did his thing. Meanwhile, I made a fig sauce using a Martha Stewart recipe I found online (below). I was low on port so I used 1/2 port & 1/2 red wine. It was not overly sweet so I added a little sugar. The sauce came together easily. It was thick, closer to a glaze. I could have thinned it out with some water but I liked the consistency. It was a wonderful complement to the pork.

Recipe link

Linguine with Herb Broth and Clams

clams
Usually when I make linguine with clams I make the pasta in one pot and the clams & broth in another. When I found this recipe where you cook your pasta in the clam broth I knew I needed to try it out. It seemed like a interesting idea. As I followed the directions I ended up needing to add a lot of extra wine & water to the pot in order to cover the pasta so it would cook. There just wasn’t enough broth. Because we used packaged pasta it needed time and liquid to get soft which left us with a thick starchy sauce instead of a broth. In the end it still tasted really good but I think this would work marvelously with fresh pasta.

Recipe link

Creamy Tomato Soup

tomato soup

We just received a copy of a new cookbook published by Mike’s family friend. The book is filled with mouthwatering classic Italian recipes that are simple and quick to prepare. The prominent theme throughout is the importance of eating together as a family and it stresses the benefits of getting children involved with cooking at home at an early age. Recipes come complete with kitchen tips, weekly menus and shopping lists for people on the go. It also includes useful sections that help you decide what to make with the items you have in your fridge and how to turn leftovers into a delicious meal.

The first thing we decided to make was the tomato soup because we had some ripe heirloom tomatoes that needed to be devoured. The soup turned out lovely and surprisingly light. We paired it with a grilled cheese panini. Delightful!

If you’re looking for easy, healthy and flavorful dishes pick up a copy of Cooking Dinner: Simple Italian Family Recipes Everyone Can Make by Rima Barkett & Claudia Pruett

Recipe for Creamy Tomato Soup
Adapted from Cooking Dinner by Barkett & Pruett

1/4 cup olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
4 fresh basil leaves
1 small sprig fresh oregano
1 small sprig fresh thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
dash ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-oz can quality diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, optional

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic,onion,carrot and celery. Saute 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Add herbs, salt, pepper and wine, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes and 1 cup broth. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 min. Remove from heat. Remove herbs and blend soup with an immersion blender or in small batches in blender. Be careful of hot liquid! Add remaining broth and cream. Reheat over low heat until barely boiling. Taste and adjust salt/pepper.

*We used 1/2 canned and 1/2 fresh tomatoes. Makes 4 small bowls or 2 large.


KitchenAid Pasta Attachment

making pasta

I’d seen this bad boy on Iron Chef numerous times and I wanted one, but was leery to buy it because it almost cost as much as the mixer. My parents ended up giving the attachment to Mike as a birthday gift (thanks M&D!) The 3 piece set includes a roller/kneader attachment, a spaghetti cutter and a fettuccine cutter.

It was surprisingly easy to use and worked perfectly on our first try. I totally thought this would be a 1/2 day experiment but I guess to get it done on Iron Chef in 60 minutes it’s got to be fast. I would highly recommend this purchase if you like fresh pasta.

Mike in action:

Buy your attachment here

For our first use we made fettuccine with Ratatouille since we had a fridge full of veggies. The pasta turned out wonderful. We were missing the eggplant so we added portabella mushrooms to the sauce. It was delicious. The only thing we would change next time is add more garlic. We used the extra sauce to top some halibut a couple days later. It tasted even better!

ratatouille

Recipe link

Corn Chowder

cornchowder

We received 4 ears of corn in our produce delivery so we decided to make a chowder. We made a couple changes to the Tyler Florence recipe we found included adding BACON! Instead of using the butter we used the bacon drippings to saute the onion, garlic and thyme. We also sprinkled in some additional herbs and we substituted half and half for the cream to make it nice and light. Delish!

Recipe link

View more Tyler recipes here: http://tylerflorencefridays.blogspot.com/

Spicy Sauteed Fish with Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

orangeroughyolivestomatoes
Yum, Yum, Yum. I truly enjoyed this. It was so garlicky that it kinda tasted like a scampi. If you like garlic you should like this. The only modification to the recipe was we used half the amount of chili flakes. For some reason I prefer to taste my food and not have my mouth on fi-yah.

Recipe link

Quick and Easy Cioppino

cioppino
The title says it all. This was super simple to prepare. When you think of Cioppino you usually think of a pot boiling away for hours. This was done in 30 minutes but doesn’t lack flavor. Our modifications to the recipe included adding fresh basil and substituting chicken stock for the water. For the fish we chose jumbo shrimp, mussels and scallops. I think any hearty white fish would go well. Served with crusty garlic bread this was a fantastic meal that we were able to whip up after a long day at work.

Recipe link

Coconut Banana Colada

bananacolada
Summertime = cocktails in our house. I have yet to like a Bobby Flay recipe or restaurant but he does know his way around a blender. This was a cool treat. Garnished with some toasted coconut it was a perfect after work pick me up.

Recipe link

Halibut with Capers, Olives, and Tomatoes

halibutwolives
Mike really loved this dish. The flavors were very Mediterranean inspired and would be grand with couscous (we didn’t have any). The topping was a wonderful combination of sweet and sour.

Recipe link

Eggplant Parmesan: Parmigiana di Melanzane

eggplantparm
OMG! This was awesome. Little stacks from heaven. Mario put his foot in this recipe. If you like eggplant, you’ll love this…heck, if you don’t like eggplant I have a feeling you’ll like this. It was time consuming and messy to make (why are eggplant recipes always so complicated?) but sooo worth it. The tomato sauce that went along with this will now be our go-to pasta sauce. I would of been happy with just a bowl of sauce!

Recipe link

Corn-Bacon Spoon Bread

spoonbread
We served this up as a side dish at our 4th of July Fried Chicken dinner. This is not your typical corn bread, it’s light and airy more like a frittata because you use a lot of beaten eggs. It’s also not sweet. I think I would have liked it a tad more sweet so I will add more sugar next time. Nice alternative to the norm.

Recipe link

Sweet Tea Mojito

sweet tea
Mike made these per my request on the 4th of July to accompany our Southern themed meal. This is the kind of cocktail where you can slam 4 without noticing. It tastes really good. We made way more than was needed for the number of guests we had over so days later the liquor is much more pronounced and I’m still sippin’ on them. It does take some effort to make but well worth it. I found this recipe in the Aug/Sept issue of the Food Network magazine.

Recipe link

Onion Strings

onionstrings

These were soooo good and easy to make. Tasted similar to the ones I get at the Counter. I used 2 medium sized onions (red & white). I didn’t have the patience to do more than one batch so I tossed them all in at the same time. They still turned out fantastic, just had to keep them in the fryer a little longer (about 4-5 minutes). I will make these again and again. Great recipe Pioneer Woman!

If you don’t have a portable deep fryer I highly recommend getting one like ours (see here).

Recipe link

Keller vs. Colicchio – Battle of the Bacon Fried Egg Sandwiches

tomvstom

Keller is on the left side

I was cravin’ a kicked up BLT and found two recipes online from Thomas Keller (French Laundry/Ad Hoc) and Tom Colicchio (Craft/Top Chef). I couldn’t decide which to try so I made both (on different days…I’m not that piggy!). I hate to say it but it ended up in a tie. Both sandos were good but definitely missing something.

The  Pro’s:

Keller – yummy bread and cheese selection
Colicchio –  frisee with oil/vinegar was a grand addition

The Con’s:

Keller – Needed a more flavorful sauce. Mayo just didn’t cut it.
Colicchio – This needed a big juicy slice of tomato. It was a tad dry.

Next time I will make a combination of the two.

Keller – Recipe link

Colicchio (from his new cookbook: ‘witchcraft) – Recipe link

egg sando battle

Ziti with Pesto Pantesco

batalipasta

I picked this Mario Batali recipe because we had not been to the grocery in a week and it included ingredients that we had at home. This is similar to a dish I have made many times but this is a bit more zippy in flavor. I love this kind of pasta sauce because you toss everything in a blender and you’re done. Super easy and fast. Make sure you don’t try this on a first date because the garlic is potent.

Recipe link (we used penne and 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes!)

Bayou Burger

bayouburger
Mike decided to surprise me with a new burger he found in the Great Burgers cookbook by Bob Sloan. Preparing us for our upcoming trip to NOLA he made the Bayou burger which is a lamb/andouille sausage patty packed with cajun flare. This had great flavor and was super juicy. I will warn you that these bad boys stay with you far after the time you eat them (if you know what I mean)…

Ingredients (adapted from Great Burgers- makes 4)
1lb ground lamb
1 andouille sausage (3 ounces) cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
1 egg beaten
2 tsp. cajun seasoning
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
pepper to taste

Mix everything together to make burgers. Cook 5 minutes then flip for 4-5 more minutes. Serve with red onion, lettuce and mayo or creole mustard. We added tomato.

Buy the book

Hey! I’m in the process of planning our New Orleans trip. Any suggestions for food/fun please leave a comment here or send me an email.

Spicy Orange Chicken Stir-Fry

orangechicken
This was nothing like the orange chicken at Panda Express. This was much healthier because it’s not fried. I found this recipe in the 15 minute meal section of June’s Bon Appétit. As you can see we added mushrooms because they came along with the peas in our produce delivery and we used yellow onion instead of red. I have to admit I think I like the Panda Express version better but this was a tasty alternative and my waist appreciated it.

Recipe link

Seared Scallops with Roasted Garlic Cream

scallopswgarlic
I’m baaaack! Sorry for the sporadic posts… my real job has actually been keeping me very busy 😥

Welcome to another episode of Top Scallop (if you watch Top Chef you’ll know what I mean). We have been eating a lot of scallops lately. These were covered in a light garlic sauce. I know it’s hard to see but trust me it’s there. Of course it was good — they were covered in garlic cream and served with buttered rice!

Recipe link

Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti with Balsamic Brown Butter

shroompasta

buitoni

These Buitoni Agnolotti’s (similiar to ravioli) arrived at our house as another perk of being a member of the FoodBuzz Tastemaker Program. I love mushrooms so I was psyched to try them. Picture fresh pasta filled with a mixture of crimini & portobella shrooms, cheese and garlic. All good things. To go along with them Mike and I decided to prepare a  light sauce as to not mask the flavors. Good choice because the mushrooms were not overly flavorful. The balsamic brown butter sauce was a Giada recipe and was a perfect compliment — sweet and nutty. I would definitely pick these up if I saw them in the grocery and I was looking for a quick tasty meal.

Recipe link (we substituted pine nuts for walnuts)

Lemony Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp

shrimp risotto

For a risotto this was easy to make (of course I say that because Mike made it 🙂 ). The first day we ate this the lemon just lingered in the background and gave a kiss of citrus. The next day it was much more pronounced. This was the first risotto I’ve had that was better the following day. Not at all clumpy or dry and the flavors matured. Good stuff!

Recipe link

Pan Sauteed Scallops with Fresh Herb Pasta Salad and a Parsley Coulis

parsleyscallops

Back to cooking at home…. after all that Food & Wine…

This dish is meant to be served cool (the pasta) so it would be perfect on a hot night. I actually think it would also be good served warm. The flavor is very floral with the many herbs used. It’s like a mouthful of Spring. This was light and tasty.

Recipe link

Lagerhead Black & Tan Turtle

blackandtan

beerturtleAfter our St. Patty’s day celebration we were left with a bunch of Guinness and Harp Lager so I attempted to make Black & Tans. I had no luck using the back of a spoon as many websites instructed. When I saw the Lagerhead turtle at Sur la Table a couple days later I thought I’d give it a try. Well, check it out. The key is to have a LARGE head on the first beverage poured into the glass (the one thing the websites neglected to mention). We have only used the turtle twice but so far it works fairly well.

Now that I know about the head it probably would have worked with a spoon… oh, well another kitchen gadget to add to our collection. Bonus: the turtle mouth doubles as a can opener.

black-tanpour

Chocolate Bouchons

chocbouchons

OMG! These are just like the real deal. I didn’t think Chef Keller would put his name on a product of poor quality. He teamed up with Williams- Sonoma to produce the iconic chocolate Bouchon mix and mold. The mix easily made 24 sensational corks.

bouchonmoldbouchonmold2

Tasty tip: If you want big Bouchons fill the molds to the top, if not fill them just a tad under the lip. The mold works great and the little bad boys slide right out.

Lamb Chops with Pear and Kiwi Salsa

kiwilamb
The only reason we decided to try this recipe is that we received a whole bunch of kiwi’s in our produce delivery. I was extremely skeptical that the ingredients in the salsa would mesh but they did. It had a fresh, tropical vibe. I have to say that the broiling method of cooking the chops was fantastic. When Mike pulled them out of the oven I thought they were burned, but they were charred on the outside and perfectly pink on the inside. It’s a fast and easy dish to prepare.

Recipe link

Grilled Rosemary Chicken with Creamy Grits and Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

chickenandgrits
Ready to feel guilty? Then this is the dish for you! On day 3 of Mike’s birthday celebration I decided to make him this for dinner. It was outstanding but also used the majority of a carton of heavy cream. In reflection I could have forgone the cream in the grits and used 1/3 less in the sauce, but you only live once, might as well go all the way. No longer will grits be relegated to the breakfast table.

Modifications to the recipe: added a little parm to the grits, used bacon instead of pancetta in the sauce.

Recipe link

Halibut with Roasted Beets, Beet Greens, and Dill-Orange Gremolata

beetsandhalibut
We got beets! I’ve been waiting for beets to arrive in our produce delivery for months. Beets are the bomb and if you don’t agree, you haven’t had them prepared in a way that brings out their yumminess. After preparing this recipe we learned beet greens are not to be discarded. They are wonderful. At the suggestion of other reviewers we added garlic to the gremolata and once the fish was cooked I finished it with a little orange juice to give it a punch of citrus. The meal was light, healthy and delicious.

Recipe link

Irish White Soda Bread w/ Caraway Seeds

irishsodabread1
sodabreadThis has to be the easiest bread recipe in the world. It contains 5 ingredients and no yeast and no waiting for rising. From start to finish it took 35 minutes. I have to be honest I had doubts that this would be edible. I was envisioning a big solid rock emerging from the oven. To my surprise it did turn out. It was dense but still soft and chewy on the inside and tasted just like rye bread. I truly enjoyed it.

Tasty Tip: we used reduced fat buttermilk (2 cups) and it was all good.

Recipe link

Guinness Corned Beef and Cabbage

cornedbeef

I married an Irish man so I now celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. For the first time we made a St. Paddy’s day meal for Mike’s family.

pearsalad

Simple awesome salad

The menu:

  • Pear Salad with blue cheese, bacon, walnuts and shallot vinaigrette (recipe)
  • Guinness Corned Beef with cabbage, potatoes and carrots
  • White Soda Bread w/ caraway seeds (recipe)
  • Sprinkles Irish cupcakes

The main dish was corned beef. I am a corned beef fiend although I grew up eating it in another form… corned beef on rye with mustard and a dill pickle. This was the first time Mike or I had attempted to cook the beef at home. When I read the recipe Mike found I was very concerned that it would not turn out right. The whole idea of boiling meat just sounded wrong but I would find out it was sooo right. The result was amazing. It was tender yet firm and the flavor was perfection. I can’t wait to make it again next year. I’m already planning the menu. Seriously.

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Beef Recipe link

Tasty Tip: Don’t be tempted to sample the braising liquid before adding the veggies. It will taste like a pool of salt. The Guinness flavor throughout is very mild. We will use 2 bottles of beer next time and less water.

Sautéed Chicken with Olives, Capers and Roasted Lemons

lemonchick
I was craving lemon chicken so I went on a crusade to find a new recipe. The first I came across was by Lidia Bastianich who is one of Mike’s aunt’s favorite celeb chefs. In her honor I thought we should give it a try. It looked like a light and fresh dish. The result was a smorgasbord of flavors: sour (lemon), tangy (capers) and salty (olives). The chicken paired nicely with the accompanying sauteed spinach & breadcrumbs. Winner, Winner chicken dinner! I now know why aunt Joan is a follower of the PBS star.

Recipe link

Collard Greens with Fennel and Orange Butter

orange-collards

If you think the taste of collard greens is too bitter, this recipe is for you. Orange and greens are an inspirational combo. I had no idea how this recipe would turn out when I found it on the Food & Wine magazine website. All I knew was that it would use 3 items from our recent produce shipment:  collard greens, fennel and oranges! Yippee! The orange juice coats the collards and transforms into a sweet glaze. Mike breaded and lightly pan fried some sole filets to go along side. This will grace our table again in the near future.

Recipe link

Roasted Cornish Game Hens

cornish-hen
This is one of my favorite winter meals. Hearty, scrumptious, comfort food. You can make side dishes to accompany this but we usually go Medieval and devour the birds in one sitting. Every time I purchase cornish hens (usually frozen but still super tasty) I am amazed at how cheap they are. It’s the best spent $7.

cornish-hensIngredients
2 game hens
butter
garlic salt
Secret ingredient… Lay’s classic potato chips (gives a salty crunch)

Preparation
Rinse hens, remove giblets (if any), pat dry, then arrange in a baking pan. Slather slightly melted butter all over the hens. Shake some garlic salt on and inside the cavity. Then lightly crush the potato chips by hand and sprinkle on and around the birds. Place in a 350 degree oven and roast until juices run clear when hens are pierced in thickest part of thighs, about 80 minutes. If at the 60 minute mark the birds are not golden brown on top turn up the heat to 400. Remove from oven, spoon some cooking liquid over hens and serve immediately.

Source:  Mom circa 1990

French Onion Soup

onion-soup

I finally prepared my first Julia Child recipe. I figured if I’m gonna do something French I better refer to the master. This was easy but time consuming. Next to lobster bisque and tomato, onion is my favorite kind of soup. It’s so comforting and rich. Good the first day, outstanding 4 days later. The flavors really change over time. If you can wait (I couldn’t) prepare this a few days before you want to serve. It tastes like an item from a five star restaurant.

what lies beneath the cheesey goodness

what lies beneath the cheesy goodness

Recipe link

Fondue for Two

This year we again stayed home for Valentine’s day. We feasted on fresh Dungeness crab and then indulged in this….

vdayfondue

Chocolate fondue with a shot of Baileys Irish Cream

fonduefor2To accompany the chocolate we had strawberries, apples, bananas, pirouette wafers and rice crispy treats. Good stuff! The cute sweetheart fondue set was my “V” day gift from Mike last year.

Flashback: Valentine’s day 2008

Scallops with Brussels Sprouts and Lemon-Chive Crème Fraîche

scallops

You say you don’t like brussel sprouts…I say you haven’t had them like this! I had to find an interesting way to prepare the brussel sprouts that arrived in our produce delivery because Mike is not a fan. In this recipe instead of leaving the sprouts whole you slice them up and sauté with BACON. While I made the sprouts Mike seared our scallops like a pro. When topped with the lemon creme fraîche the citrus combo was out of this world.


Recipe link

Food & Wine magazine /Feb. 2006

Sweet Chili

chili
I prefer sweet chili over spicy. This recipe is one of my mom’s. It’s super easy and fast to make. An official 30 minute meal that tastes like it was bubblin’ away on the stove top for an entire day.

Ingredients
1.5 lbs ground beef
garlic salt
1 can kidney beans (drained)
2 cans stewed tomatoes with onions and peppers
1T chili powder
2 pinches of cinnamon
sugar

Directions
Brown the beef in a large pot with a couple shakes of garlic salt. Drain any excess grease. Add beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cinnamon and sugar to your desired taste. I like it really sweet so I use about 2 tablespoons of sugar but put some in, stir and taste, to see how much you prefer. Simmer until thick about 20 minutes.

Top with grated cheese,chopped onion and sour cream then serve with a side of cornbread.

Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Onion and Fennel and Fennel Cream

porkleaks

In our produce delivery we received fennel. I thought —Yuck! I despise black licorice so I thought that would also be the case for this vegetable. I was wrong, I found out I love fennel. It has the aroma of black licorice but the flavor of sweet onions once sauteed. This dish turned out to be brilliant.

We cooked the pork 10 minutes on the stove and 10 minutes in the oven and it came out just right. Juicy and tender. Pork is so easy to prepare and tastes amazing without having to do much to it. A little salt and pepper and it’s gold.

Recipe link

Chicken Soup with Miniature Leek-Chive Matzo Balls

matzosoup

OMG! How cute are these matzo balls?!? Usually this isn’t the case. I once went to a deli in NY and my colleague ordered matzo ball soup and all she got was a single ball the size of my head. No joke. This is a time intensive dish. Don’t think you can whip this up on a weeknight. The recipe for the soup seemed a little on the bland side so I made some enhancements. I added carrots,onions,celery and chopped roasted chicken breast to the stock. It turned out soooo good. Mikes reaction… “This is the best thing you’ve ever made.” My mom is going to be impressed.

ballssmall balls2

Tasty Tip: Want to save some time — stick the ball mixture in the freezer for 1 hour instead of the fridge for 2.

Recipe link

Amazing Taste Seasonings

chickencollardgreens

I received a sample box of Amazing Taste Seasoning packs in late December (Thanks Sara!). Mike and I decided to try out the poultry blend first. We’re always looking for easy ways to spice up a chicken breast. The seasonings can be used as a marinade or rub. It was a week night and I was starving so we applied the seasoning to the meat and quickly tossed it on the BBQ. The flavor was nice…kind of a sweet and spicy paprika. What I was most impressed with was the texture it gave the chicken. It was crispy and tasted like it had been baked or lightly fried. A dream come true…fried chicken on the grill without the messy grease!

We served the chicken atop a bed of creamed collard greens. The recipe for the greens was from the Neelys. The happiest couple on the Food Network (overly, if you ask me). It was a tasty union.

amazingtaste amazingchick1

I look forward to trying the many other Amazing Taste varieties. At 99 cents, it’s an inexpensive way to jazz up a meal.

Website: http://www.amazingtaste.com/

Pan Fried Onion Dip

oniondip
Another well received appetizer at my sister’s “b” day bash was this onion dip by the Barefoot Contessa. This took some time to prepare (40 minutes) but was well worth it. The final concoction was sweet and creamy with a bit of a kick. I served this with long pretzel sticks (which everyone thought was a yummy and interesting combo). Now that I think back, kettle potato chips would have also gone well.

Tip: cut the oil/butter in half!

Recipe link

Port-Glazed Walnuts with Stilton

stilton-walnuts

Take a look at my new favorite appetizer! This received rave reviews at my sisters’ surprise birthday party last weekend. Simply magnificent.

Tasty Tip: Stilton is insanely expensive so I substituted Gorgonzola. Serve with a side of the port syrup and sliced baguette.

Recipe link

Shaking Beef

shakingbeef

I had a Slanted door Shaking Beef craving so I went in search of the recipe and I found it. I have to admit this wasn’t as good as the real deal but it was a close, close second. I guess if it was that easy to make at home Charles would be out of business. Oh, don’t omit the lime dipping sauce as it was divine.

Tasty Tip: The instructions say to cook the meat 6-8 minutes. Do that if you want your meat well done, if not go for 4-6 minutes.

Recipe link

Cherry Tomato Red Clam Sauce with Linguini

red-linguiniclams

I usually stick to a white sauce when it comes to linguini with clams but this was excellent. I think I’m a convert.

Ms. Ray, you did it again…

Recipe link

Rack of Lamb with Caramelized Shallot and Thyme Crust

rack-of-lamb

As mentioned in the previous post we decided to try out our Daregal fresh frozen herbs on a Rack of Lamb. This application really allowed the herbs to shine. The recipe we used was super simple to prepare and downright delicious.

Recipe link

Minestrone Soup

minestronesoup

This recipe is a keeper! But it was much more work to make than I expected. In my mind we were going to throw a bunch of veggies in a pot and ta-dah — Minestrone. Not exactly. You do toss a bunch of veggies in a pot but it’s done in numerous intervals. It all starts with bacon (or pancetta) which is what brings out all the magnificent flavors. Each layer is slowly bathed in bacon fat and eventually transforms into a cauldron of love.

Tasty Tip: We didn’t bother with the drawn out overnight bean procedure. Instead we popped open a can of white beans and it turned out just fine.

Recipe link

Our Holiday Feast

Christmas dinner was at our house this year. Here was the menu:

Filet mignon with port sauce and horseradish cream, radish apple and onion salad, sherry vinegar and molasses glazed carrots, potato mushroom gratin and caramel banana bread pudding. It was a meal to remember!

Pics…

shroom-gratin

carrots

bread-pudding

Everything turned out fantastic. I would make any one of these recipes again and again and again…

Eggnog French Toast

This is our go-to Christmas morning breakfast. While Mike is excited to tear into his gifts, I’m waiting to tear into these bad boys.

eggnog-french-toast

Instructions: Cut up a loaf of crusty french or sourdough bread into thick slices. Then take slices and dip both sides in eggnog (no egg or milk needed). Toss in a pan with lots of butter and cook till golden brown. Serve with powdered sugar, Aunt Jemima and a slab of bacon. Mmm, Mmm good.

Katie Lee Joel’s Logan County Hamburgers

katie-lee-burger

A while back I read about “The Burger Bash” hosted by Rachael Ray at the Food Network New York Wine & Food festival (Oct 10th). Celeb chefs dueled to see who made the best burger and the winner of the night was Katie Lee Joel’s (Season 1 host of Top Chef ,cookbook author and wife to Billy) Logan County Hamburgers. I l-o-v-e a good burger so I had to give it a try. Most of the news coverage gave Katie Lee a hard time because they didn’t think she did anything spectacular to deserve the win. They basically called her burger an embellished grill cheese. I think it’s closer to a patty melt. Either way it tasted damn good! You hold your trophy high Katie Lee!

Recipe link

Cinnamon-Bun Ebelskiver

ebelskiver

What is a Cinnamon-Bun Ebelskiver? It’s basically a cinnamon roll and a pancake rolled into one!

We received the Williams-Sonoma ebelskiver pan as a gift a few years back. Last weekend we whipped it out and made breakfast for the family before we went to cut down Christmas trees. Mike and I have made nutella, boysenberry and peanut butter filled ebelskivers in the past but these were by far the best. Each bite oozed cinnamon sugary goodness (don’t go light on the filling). The drizzle of cream cheese frosting was awesome. It was light, airy and melted in your mouth.

Recipe link

(click images for a closer look at the preparation)
ebelskiverstep1 ebelskiverstep2 ebelskiverstep3 ebelskiverstep4 ebelskiverstep5 ebelskiverstep6

Continue reading

Seared Halibut with Haricots Verts, Scallions, and White Wine Sauce

halibutwbeans
Another fine fish dish. If you like the classic combination of lemon, capers and white wine you should go gaga over this. The addition of scallions and tomato are a delightful bonus. Mike couldn’t find Haricots Verts so we substituted good old green beans. A quick and visually pleasing meal.

Tasty Tip: you can get away with using 1/2 the amount of butter and it still tastes grrrrreat.

Recipe link

Spicy Shrimp and Bok Choy Noodle Soup

shrimpsoup
This was phenomenal. I never thought we would be able to make a Pho like soup at home, much less in 30 minutes and all in one pot. I was astonished at how good this was. I slurped my bowl up with a side of hoisin sauce to add a little sweetness. I could eat this every week. Hats off to you Rachael Ray!

Tasty Tip: We cut the amount of ginger in half and used just under 1/2 tsp. of chili flakes in order to keep the heat to a minimum. It was perfect.

Recipe link

Tyler’s Ultimate Caramelized Pears with Rum Raisin Mascarpone

ultimatepear
This is a fancy looking dessert without much work. The crumbled amaretto cookie was the ingredient that brought the WoW factor. Delish!

Tasty Tip: Next time I would add some vanilla to the marscapone to sweeten it up a bit.

Recipe link

Tyler’s Ultimate Veal Osso Buco

osso-buco
When I saw the Osso Buco episode on Tyler Florence’s show I knew I had to make it. It looked unbelievably good. I’ll admit the online instructions were a bit confusing so I took the advise of other reviewers that suggested we use a less expensive wine, a smaller amount of wine (1/2 bottle) and increase the amount of veggies. I also decided not to throw an entire head of garlic in with the paper skin since the directions didn’t say anything about removing it. I in-turn used 7-8 pealed garlic cloves.

gremolata

Gremolata

The recipe called for a gremolata garnish. I made it even though I thought it might be unnecessary. Thank goodness because it took the dish to a whole new level. The orange zest, garlic, cranberries and nuts along with the succulent veal was an eye opening experience.

If you’re having guests over for dinner this is a real show-stopper.

Recipe link

Rotisserie Turkey

bbqturkey

butterballturkeyMike and I didn’t have Thanksgiving dinner at home this year which meant no left over turkey. So I decided to have a post Thanskgiving feast at our house yesterday. When I informed Mike of my plans he was not at all excited but when I told him we could BBQ he agreed. I picked up a Butterball Boneless Turkey Roast and Mike threw it on the rotisserie. After two hours and periodic basting with some Bone Suckin’ Sauce (a gift from mom’s trip to North Carolina) it was sweet, tender and juicy. What a super easy way to prepare a bird. Served with a side of Stove Top stuffing (the best 5 minute stuffing in the world) and cranberry sauce it was just like the real thing.

Dutch Apple Pie

dutchapplepie

Mike made this all by himself… the Liberty apples from our produce delivery worked wonderfully. Serve with a big dollop of ice cream!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING WEEKEND!

applepie dutchpie

Recipe link

Tasty Tip: Mike used this pie crust mix from Williams-Sonoma. It worked perfect.
crust

Halibut with Multiple Sauces

I am really behind in posting all the fish dishes we’ve been feasting on. Here are some pictures from the last couple months. Halibut has been a recurring favorite…

halibutpeppers

Grilled Halibut with Grilled Red Pepper Harissa

This was spicy. It made my nose run and eyes water but I still ate every last bite. I liked how all the ingredients were prepared on the grill. The pepper sauce is chunky so you get tiny crunchy bites of garlic. Recipe link

hallibutguac

Grilled Halibut with Creamy Guacamole Sauce

This guacamole was tart and smooth. I used the whole avocado instead of half. A colorful and satisfying dish. Recipe link

halibutsalsa

Pan Fried Halibut with Pico de Gallo Salsa

Very versitile salsa. Great with fish, tacos and chips. Recipe link

Mom’s Zucchini Bread

zucbreadfinal

I have no idea where my mom got this recipe for zucchini bread. All I know is she made it a lot growing up. This was my first time making it myself. It came out like I remember but I left out the nuts. My favorite way to eat it is covered in cream cheese. I can transform anything healthy into something bad. Continue reading

Potato Soup with Kale and Chorizo

kalesoupfinal

Kale arrived in our produce delivery. I’d never had Kale before. Looking at recipes, potatoes seemed to be Kale’s most popular accompaniment. I decided to make a soup. In the end the flavors/consistency turned out to be a cross between a minestrone and tortilla soup. The kale had a unique taste. The soup was a bit spicy from the chorizo (but not hot) and smokey from the paprika.

We followed the online suggestions to add more onion and cut the amount of Kale. I think adding chicken would be good next time.

Don’t skimp on the croutons. The salty crunch really made the dish. The method for making croutons at our house is to cut up some sourdough then sprinkle with olive oil and garlic salt and bake for 7-10 minutes. It was a light and hearty winter soup.

Recipe link

Chicken with Apples, Pears and Camembert Mashed Potatoes

chickapples

I’m such a sucker at the checkout. I don’t know why but I purchased the November issue of the Rachael Ray magazine. I didn’t need it. I’m already behind in reading looking at photos in my Oct/Nov issues of Gourmet, Food & Wine and Bon Appétit.

Anyways, while skimming through it I saw a recipe that could use 3 items from our recent produce delivery (apples, pears and potatoes). It was a 30-minute meal that actually only took 30 minutes to prepare. It tasted like a chicken-apple pot pie.

I hate to say this, but it was Yum-o!

Recipe link

Baked Acorn Squash

bakedacornsquash

This was a Dyn-o-mite dish! Each and every bite took a dip in a pool of butter and brown sugar. Simple and sweet.

Recipe link

Red Wine Pot Roast with Honey and Thyme

When the weather starts to get cooler I like to bust out my trusty dutch oven and make one-pot meals. We had a bag of potatoes from our produce deliv