Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's That Time of Year

Warm, comforting dishes. I am so excited Fall is here. Although, it will probably only feel like fall for a few weeks. The dishes I cook always change with the weather. To me, when I'm eating dinner in the Fall, I want something that makes me feel warm and cozy. This is a fav of mine. Chicken Pot Pie. I usually cut the biscuit out large enough to cover the dish, but wanted you to see the yumminess inside. Try to resist tasting any leftovers in the pan. It dangerous and you could have indulged too much before it's actually dinner time. Just saying. I served my in ramekins, but you can serve this in a 13x9 casserole dish. Enjoy :)

Chicken Pot Pie - Serves 4-6

3 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 cup frozen sweet peas
2 garlic cloves; minced
2/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup diced carrots
2 tablespoons minced thyme
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

For the biscuits:

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the chicken stock. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add the herbs, peas, bouillion cube, white wine, and cream. Cook over medium low heat until thickened. About 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.

Place the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are browned a little.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Dish She Dissed

I thought Amelia was going to love this dish. It's pasta, peas, carrots, broccoli, and cheese. Things she loves! And, to top it off, it was pink. Now, what little girl could resist that ?! Apparently mine. And, I even tried twice. I put it in her lunch the next day thinking the only reason she said she didn't like it the night before was to hack me off ;) What I thought was going to be a winner with her, ended up being a fail. Oh stink.

Good thing was, I loved it. I froze all the leftovers in snack size ziplocks for those no time to cook moments for myself. I do that with a lot of the leftovers in this house. Usually pasta or soup dishes. I put them in the fridge the night before, heat it up in the am, and put them in a thermos for Amelia to take to school. Saves a lot of time and I know she is eating something healthy and yummy at school.

I'm still including the recipe for this dish because it is REALLY good! Even though sweat pea disagrees.....

1 box of your favorite shaped pasta ( I used oricheitte)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup steamed broccoli florets
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
Kosher salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender ,about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until the peas are warmed through and the carrots are tender. Add the broccoli then stir in the cooked pasta. Add the marinara sauce and cheeses Stir until the mixture is incorporated and forms a sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Love of Garlic

Well, I am back from Napa. And, wow, it did not disappoint! It's taken me a full week to feel back to normal. Whatever that is! This was the view from the house we stayed at.

No, I didn't want to leave. But I was VERY ready to see the most precious girl in the world. I missed her a ton. A TON!

She did not appreciate it that I had left her to go to CA. After all, that's where Justin Bieber lives, and she could not believe I would not take her with me so we could go knock on his door to say hello. I tried explaining to her that's not how it works. But, what do I know, I'm just the Mom ;)

I have been cooking like crazy, hence the lack of posts. New clients plus my old ones are keeping me very busy. Which is a blessing. A very busy blessing!

This post is devoted to garlic. Or, as some might say, my perfume. There is garlic is the main dish and side dishes. When you add garlic, something special happens. You can smell this something as soon as it touches heat.

Garlic Chicken (Ina Garten)

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves - I promise it will not overpower your dish. The garlic becomes very sweet & mild
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

Roasted Root Vegetables

1 sweet potato; peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 butternut squash; peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 large carrots; peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 large shallots; peeled and left whole
10 garlic cloves; peeled; left whole
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
Kosher Salt & Pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425.

Place all the veggies, garlic, and shallots on a sheet pan. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. Mix together well with your hands. Cook for 25-35 minutes. After you take it out of the oven, check seasonings. I usually need to add a little more salt.

Pearl Cous Cous

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots; chopped
2 garlic cloves; minced
1 3/4 cup Chicken Stock
Splash of white wine
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup Craisins
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cous cous to pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the splash of wine. Cook until absorbed. Add the chicken stock and craisins. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the pine nuts.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Veggie Kind of Night

This post is for my BFF, Heather. Yes, you can be 30 something, and still have a BFF. And she has been that for the last 18 years :) While, I love some meat (grass fed & organic please), she would rather eat her veggies. This is a meal she would love. Trust me, no one will miss the meat in this meal. It is hearty, warm, and full of flavor. Delish.

Spinach Potato Cakes with Wild Mushroom Ragout

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cup assorted sliced wild mushrooms
2 large shallots; minced
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped green onions
4 garlic cloves; minced
2/3 cup mushroom broth
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Spinach Potato Cake:

1/2 cup chopped and blanched spinach
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup seasoned flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup olive oil, for frying


2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons chopped chives

For the ragout: In a saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and shallots and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, green onions and garlic and continue sauteeing for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushroom broth and wine to the Sauteed mixture and reduce by half. Finish with the butter and reseason.

For the potato cakes: In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach, potatoes and garlic together. Season with salt and pepper. Portion the mixture into 2-ounce cakes. Dredge the cakes in the seasoned flour. Dip into the beaten egg, letting any excess drip off. Coat each cake completely with the seasoned bread crumbs.

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil. When the pan is smoking hot, add the cakes. Saute until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the cakes over and continue sauteeing until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on a paper-lined plate.

Spoon the ragout in the center of the plate. Place the cakes in the center of the ragout. Garnish with chopped parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and chives.

Stuffed Tomatoes

3 beefsteak tomatoes
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
3/4 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon butter, softened
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the tomatoes in half, horizontally. Use a small spoon to gently hollow out the inside of the tomatoes, discarding the seeds and reserving the pulp and being careful not to puncture the outer shell. Chop the reserved pulp and put in a medium bowl. Add the parsley, bread crumbs, cheese, and pepper and mix gently to combine. Place the tomato halves in a buttered casserole dish, and fill with the bread crumb mixture. Drizzle the top of the tomatoes with olive oil. Bake until the tops are browned, about 20 minutes.

Sweet-n-Spicy Carrots

1 pound carrots; peeled and cut on the bias into 2 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
A fresh piece of rosemary
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat and add the carrots. Cook for 2 minutes, then drain in a colander and set aside.

In a medium-size pot combine all the remaining ingredients, except the rosemary, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Add the drained carrots and toss to combine. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes to incorporate flavors. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with rosemary and serve.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's been a while..... a long while

I could sit here and tell you all the reasons why I haven't blogged lately. But, I doubt you would have any sympathy for me because I'm sure most of you are in the same boat. You know, the back-to-school plus working my booty off boat. At times, I have wanted to jump out and pretend I don't have all of this stuff to do. It's getting better though, I think. Maybe I am settling into this new kind of crazy. Or maybe I know I'm about to enjoy great long weekend in Napa, and am thinking I can get through anything in the meantime ...... Yes, I think that's it. I'm even excited about the sleep I will get on the airplane, not to mention the wine in my future. Ahhhh. I'm feeling better already.

On to my dinner for tonight - Lamb Chops. I adore them. And they are so simple to make. I like to make an easy cherry sauce to go with mine. Served with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Peas & Prosciutto. Easy enough for a week night meal or to entertain friends. Enjoy :)

Lamb Chop with Cherry Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 lamb chops
salt and pepper to taste
3 shallots (chopped)
1/2 cup ruby Port
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
3 tablespoons cherry jam
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Add the lamb chops and cook until they reach the desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side to get a thick chop to medium rare.
4. Set the lamb aside and drain the drippings from the pan.
5. Add the shallots and saute for 1 minute.
6. Add the port, broth, cherries, cherry jam, balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan.
7. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until it thickens to form a sauce, about 6-10 minutes.
8. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Pour the sauce over the lamb

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Favorite Word

Crostata. Don't you just love that word?! When I say it in my head, I sound like Giada. When I say it out loud, I sound like a goob, because I am trying, unsuccessfully, to say it with an Italian accent. Total fail on my part. But, nontheless, I love saying it, love making it, and looove eating it. Did I mention that it is easy? I hate letting people in on how easy is it. There goes my cover once again....... Enjoy :)

Apple and Gorgonzola Crostata


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons ice water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the crust: In a food processor combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is finely chopped and the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the mascarpone cheese and lemon juice and pulse a few times. Add the ice water and run the machine just until the mixture is moist and crumbly, but does not form a ball. Do not over mix. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Press into a disc, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the filling: Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the apple slices, sugar, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are softened, but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, walnuts, and Gorgonzola.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the inside of a 12 by 17-inch baking sheet and place on a work surface. Place the chilled dough on the parchment paper. Roll the dough out into an 11-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Lift the parchment paper and transfer to the baking sheet. Spoon the apple filling into the center of the dough. Spread the filling evenly, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the dough border over the filling to form an 8-inch round. Pleat the edge of the pastry and pinch to seal any cracks in the dough.

Using a pastry brush, brush the crust with the beaten egg. Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. I served mine sliced on a bed of mixed greens.

Mushroom Crostata

Use same crust recipe from above.

For the filling :

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces diced pancetta
2 shallots, minced
1 pound assorted mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake, and button
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup (1 ounce) grated smoked mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup ( 1 ounce) grated fontina cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and golden, about four minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pancetta to a small bowl.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until all of the moisture has evaporated, about 12 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cooked pancetta along with fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Unwrap the chilled dough and place it on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough into an 11-inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Lift the parchment paper and transfer it and the dough to the baking sheet.
Stir the mozzarella and fontina into the cooled mushroom filling and spread in the center of the dough circle, leaving a 2-inch border.

Sprinkle the filling with Parmesan.

Fold the dough border up over the filling to form an 8-inch round, pleating the edge of the pastry. Brush the crust with beaten egg. Bake the crostata until the crust is golden about 25 minutes. Slice and serve.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer Salads

It's hot here. Way too hot for me to even want to eat. Ok, not really, but it sounds dramatic and I hope it helps me get my point across :) I am over it. And, trust me, up until this point I have been that girl who claims to loves summers in the South. I mean, we should be used to high temp and humidity. The fact that I am huddled up inside with the air blowing and the shades closed instead of suntanning by the pool speaks volumes. Summer salads have been one of my favorite things to eat this summer. Light, refreshing, and cool, Yes and thank you. Enjoy :)

Watermelon and Cherry Tomato Salad

1 seedless watermelon; cut into small chuncks
1 pint cherry tomatoes; halved
1/4 cup fresh basil; juilenned
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Mix the sugar and balsamic into a small sauce pan. Bring to a low boil and cook until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a glass cup and place in the fridge to cool completely. About 30-40 minutes

Meanwhile. in a bowl, combine the watermelon and cherry tomatoes. When the balsamic mixture is cool, pour over watermelon and tomatoes. Add fresh basil and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper

Cucumber, Pepper, and Red Onion Salad

1 yellow pepper; cut into a large dice
1/4 of a red onion, sliced very thin
3 tomatoes; seeds removed and diced
4 small cucumber; sliced
Kosher Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Place all ingredients into a bowl. Mix together well.