Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Different Kind of Italian

While I love spaghetti as much as the next person, there is another side (many sides, actually) to Italian that don't include tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. When you think outside of the box, delicious things can happen. This is where the, "don't be afraid to experiment", comes into play. Here is a simple, wonderful recipe for one of those times. Enjoy :)

4 leeks; white parts only; halved and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic; peeled and smashed
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 container cherry tomatoes; halved
1 pkg prosciutto
1 box Orechiette pasta
1 cup fresh parmesan cheese; grated ( I like to do this in a food processor - just cut the cheese into chunks first)

1 small handful dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups ciabatta bread; cut into a large dice
1/2 cup skinless almonds; coarsely chopped
Kosher Salt & Pepper

In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and sprig of thyme and rosemary. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper. Cover the leeks with all of the slices of prosciutto. Put a lid on the pan and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

Put the bread, almonds, and dried porcini mushrooms in a food processor, until it has the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil pasta for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

Remove the prosciutto from the leeks and slice. Return back to the pan, then add 3/4 cup of the parmesan, and 1 cup of the breadcrumb mixture.

Drain the noodles, SAVING 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the leek mixture. Slowly add the reserved cooking liquid, until you get a creamy texture. Sprinkle the top of the pasta with 1/2 cup of the breadcrumb mixture and the rest of the parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Comforting Classic

Lasagna. We've all made it before. And, I'm pretty sure we all have a great recipe. You can make it a million different ways. I think the most important step, that should be included in every recipe, is letting the lasagna broil in the oven for a minute or two before you take it out. This is what makes the cheese brown & bubbly. It's the best part if you ask me. Enjoy :)

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground chuck
2 links mild italian sausage; casings removed
1 onion; diced
4 garlic cloves; minced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning; plus 1/2 teaspoon for topping lasagna
1 pound ricotta cheese
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed of any excess liquid)
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan
kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter for dotting the top of the lasagna
No Boil Oven Ready Lasagna sheets

Sauce :

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk at room temp (I usually forget to bring it to room temp, so I just microwave for a few minutes)
1 1/2 cups of your fav tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 375

In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, again whisking the whole time. Continue to cook until sauce is thick and creamy. About 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and add the tomato sauce.

Next, in a saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the chuck and sausage, breaking up any large pieces. Season with the 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning and salt & pepper. Cook until browned. Add the minced garlic the last minute of cooking. Remove from heat and drain any excess fat.

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta and spinach. Season with salt & pepper.

In a 13x9 baking dish, spread 1/3 cup of the sauce on the bottom. Next add the pasta sheets, covering the sauce. Then spread all of the ricotta spinach mixture. Then, add another layer of lasagna noodles. Next, add all of the beef mixture and 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese. Spread another 1/3 cup of the sauce. Add the last layer of lasagna noodles and top with remaining sauce, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and dot with butter. Lightly spray a piece of foil with nonstick spray and cover your lasagna. You do this so your cheese won't stick to it.

Cook for 40 minutes. Remove foil and turn the oven on broil. Broil until bubbly & browned. DO NOT leave the kitchen during this part. You will need to watch it the whole time to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes.

* I put a cookie sheet, lined with foil, underneath my lasagna pan. because some of the sauce seems to escape everytime *

Monday, June 27, 2011

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme

Anyone remember that line from a Simon & Garfunkel song? If you added basil in there, you would have all of my favorite herbs. When I first started working at Erling Jensen's 12 years ago, I would have to stem herbs for hours... literally. My hands were stained from all the thyme I had to stem! I love using fresh herbs in my food. It is a wonderful, healthy way to add a lot of flavor to any dish. I would suggest going to your local Home Depot or Lowe's and purchasing some herbs for your garden. Much more affordable than buying them. Tonight, my focus is on rosemary for my chicken, basil for my warm bread & tomato salad, and italian parsley in my succotash. Enjoy :)

Lemon, Garlic, & Rosemary Chicken

1 whole chicken; cut into 8 pieces
1 lemon; zested
2 lemons; juiced
4 cloves garlic; minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons rosemary; minced
Kosher Salt & Pepper
4 tablespoons Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350

Combine olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a small bowl. Season both sides of the chicken well with salt & pepper. Heat a grill pan (or cast iron skillet) to medium high heat. Cook the chicken about 5 minutes per side, or until the chicken is browned. Transfer to the oven and continue to cook for 25 minutes. Garnish with fresh rosemary and lemon slices.


4 ears of corn; shucked
2 garlic cloves; minced
3 shallots; thinly sliced
1 container cherry tomatoes; halved
1 cup frozen lima beans
2 tablespoons italian parsley; chopped
1/4 cup white wine (drinkable quality, of course)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher Salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the corn and shallots. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes, lima beans, and garlic. Season everything with salt & pepper. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, Add the white wine and cook until it is absorbed. Garnish with fresh basil.

Warm Tomato & Bread Salad

2 cups of baguette or boule garlic bread. cut into 1 inch dice
8 tomatoes; large dice
3 cloves garlic; minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoon fresh basil; thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the cubed bread and cook until lightly browned and toasted, about 5-7 minutes. Remove cubes and put in a bowl.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt & pepper, balsamic, and sugar to the pan. Cook until the tomatoes have softened. About 5 minutes. Place the the bread cubes back into the pan and stir to combine, making sure the bread is soaking up the liquid from the pan. Add the fresh basil and parmesan.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"People Who Love to Eat Are Always The Best People" - Julia Child

Have there ever been any truer words spoken?!?! I do love to eat. And, I love feeding & eating with others! I want everyone to love it as much as I do. A perfect dining partner is one that is as enthusiastic about the food as you are. A question I get asked a lot is what are my favorite places to eat. I have a lot. Some are hidden treasures, while others are well-knowns. To me, all are delicious. That is the most important, but there are definitely other aspects of it that make it an experience. I am not super critical of restaurants, because after working in one, I know how hard it is.

Three Angels Diner - Pazole is delicious as well as their burger and grown up grilled cheese. Great brunch!

Trolley Stop Market - Pizza all the way!!

Golden Coast (the BEST dim sum in Memphis - they come around with a cart and you pick what you want. Don't be discouraged if you happen to see chicken feet ;)

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen - Fresh approach to Italian. Delicious. Perfectly executed every time I've been. Atmosphere and service can't be beat.

Bari - The cheese menu alone is enough reason to visit this place

Tsunami - My friends and I love to go and eat in the bar area. The bartender rocks and is so knowledgeable. Love that you can get small plates there.

Noodle Doodle Do (Do sushi) - I crave their Beef Curry Soup in the fall/winter. Fresh and delicious!

Las Tortugas - Black Bean tostada is a fav as well as their corn

Casa Blanca - Somedays I think I could live off their stuffed grape leaves

Taqueria La Guadalupana - The goat taco's are my go-to here. The meat is tender, gamey, and full of flavor.

The Elegant Farmer - Love everything about this new restaurant :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Crab Cake Date..... For Three??

Let me explain...... About 13 years ago, I invited a guy, who I had a major crush on, over for dinner. I definitely wanted to impress. So I cooked one of my fav dishes at the time, Crab Cakes. When the doorbell rang that night, I went to find my crush at the door. With a friend. Hmmmm. Not a good sign when your date brings a friend along! He, however, remembers it differently. He says I invited his friend to tag along on our date. No way. I'm sure I wouldn't have done that. To this day, we continue to remember things differently :) Regardless of who is right (me), and at the request of my sister, I wanted to share this yummy recipe.

Crab Cakes (makes about 10)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion; small dice
1/2 cup celery; small dice
1/4 cup red bell pepper; small dice
1/4 cup yellow pepper; small dice
1 tablespoon garlic; minced
1 pound lump crab meat
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon flat leaf parsley; chopped
3 tablespoons creole or dijon mustard
1 lemon; juiced
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons creole seasoning
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup flour
Kosher Salt & Pepper
2 eggs
2 tablespoons Water
Veggie Oil for frying

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and peppers. Season with salt & pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Place in a bowl and let mixture cool. When it has cooled. Add the green onions, parmesan, parsley, mayo, mustard, and juice of 1 lemon. Mix together - then gently add the crab meat and 3/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Mix (with your hands) until everything is incorporated. I use a 1/3 measuring cup to make sure all the patties are the same size. Scoop them all out and place on a platter until ready to cook.

On a plate, mix together the flour and 1 teaspoon creole seasoning. In a bowl mix together the 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon water. Then, on another plate mix together the remaining bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon creole seasoning.

Dredge each cake into flour first, then the egg wash, then the bread crumbs. After you have done all patties. Heat 1/4 cup veggie oil in a nonstick saute pan. Cook cake for about 4 minutes on each side. As soon as you remove them from the heat, sprinkle them with the remaining creole seasoning.

Sauce :

1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup onions; chopped
1 whole lemon, skin removed, and cut in half
2 bay leaves
6 tablespoons cream
2 sticks unsalted butter; cut into small pieces and very cold
2 bay leaves

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients EXCEPT the butter, lemons, and cream. Cook over medium high heat for 5-6 minutes. Add the lemons and mash down with a spoon. Add the cream and whisk to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Next, whisk in the butter one piece at a time until all of the butter is gone. Strain sauce into a clean bowl. Enjoy :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On A Lighter Note

When I lived in Denver, there was this wonderful little soup shop that made about 20 different kinds of soup everyday, year round. I would call and listen to a recording of what they had to offer, then make my way there. It was heaven to me and I often dream of opening such a place here. Soups are just so comforting. In the winter, I gravitate towards warm, hearty soups. But, in the summer, I adore soups on the lighter side. Gazpacho is always a fav of mine. So refreshing! Gazpacho is a liquid salad that originated in Spain. There are many different versions. These are two ways I like to prepare. Both are easy & fast. Perfect.

Traditional Gazpacho

2 cloves garlic; minced
1 small cucumber; peeled, seeded, and diced
1 red onion; diced
1 green bell pepper; diced
4 tomatoes; seeded; diced
4 cups tomato juice
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup pine nuts; toasted
Kosher salt & Pepper

Put all the veggies in a food processor and pulse until it is coarsely chopped.

Pour in a large bowl and add the garlic, red pepper flakes. olive oil, vinegar, sugar, and salt & pepper. Garnish with toasted pine nuts. Enjoy alongside a toasted piece of thick, crusty bread.

*Sometimes I like to add shrimp to the soup*

Watermelon Gazpacho

6 cups seeded watermelon; cubed
3 tomatoes; diced
2 stalks of celery; diced
1 cucumber; peeled, seeded, and diced
1 red bell pepper; diced
1 jalapeno; seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh mint; chopped
2 tablespoons pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Put all BUT 1 cup the watermelon, mint, and jalapeno in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Pour into a bowl, and add the 1 cup of cubed watermelon, jalapeno, and mint. ALWAYS check your seasonings. Add more salt & pepper if needed. Pour into a bowl or cup, sprinkle with pepitas, and garnish with a piece of watermelon. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yum, Yum, & Yum

Chicken. Wild Mushrooms. Wine. Of course it's yummy! And easy. I think mushrooms also fall into the category of "love em or hate em". The mushrooms add a wonderful earthiness to this dish while the lemon juice brightens it up a bit. This a good dish for a family dinner or to entertain friends :)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz wild mushrooms
1/4 cup shallots; chopped
2 garlic cloves; minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme; chopped
3/4 cup white wine
4 oz creme fraiche
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup of half & half
4 tablespoons butter; divided
Flour, for dredging
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375

Season chicken with salt & pepper. Dredge them in flour, shake off the excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter to a large saute pan over medium heat and cook chicken until lightly browned on each side (about 4 minutes per side). Remove chicken and place in a casserole dish.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, along with the shallots, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes, then add the wine. Increase heat to high and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Then add the creme fraiche, lemon juice, thyme, and half & half. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce has thickened a bit - about 5-10 minutes.

Pour sauce over chicken and cook for 20 minutes. Enjoy :)

* I served this dish with Roasted Broccoli & Shallots and Rosemary Polenta*

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Kind of Burger Night

I enjoy a burger as much as the next person. I just like mine a little more gourmet :) These are great to cook for friends! They will adore them! On the side, I love delicious truffled french fires - so addictive!!! You will want to make a lot because I assure you, you will be snacking on these before it's dinner time!

Burgers -

1/2 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground sirloin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ketchup
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Gently mix all ingredient together, being careful not to over mix. Shape into 4 patties. Heat a grill, or grill pan, to medium-high heat. Cook for 7 minutes on one side, then flip once, and cook another 7 minutes.

My toppings of choice:

Gruyere Cheese
Caramelized Onions
Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Truffled Oven Fries

5 Russet Potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Truffle Oil
Nonstick spray

Preheat oven to 425

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch thick fries. Make sure they are all cut the same size so they cook evenly. Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Boil the potatoes for 6 minutes. Drain carefully and put into a bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Place on a nonstick cookie sheet that has been sprayed with a nonstick spray (make sure there is just one layer) and cook for 15 minutes, then flip the fries and cook for another 15 minutes. Or until lightly browned.

When they are done, toss with fresh parmesan, parsley, & truffle oil. Enjoy :)

It's All Greek To Me

I'm just a tad obsessed with all things Greek right now. Stuffed grape leaves, hummus, tzatziki, and creamy feta top the list. The people of Greece enjoy a delicious, healthy way of eating. Nuts, oils, vegetables, lean proteins, yogurt, and cheese. Ahhhh... I must go! One of my favorites apps to make is Grilled Pita Bread with Tzatziki. Yums.

1 pint Greek Yogurt ( I use Fage 0 %)
1 cucumber, seeded. leave peel on
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves; minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon dried dill)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Grate the cucumber into a bowl. Squeeze all the liquid from the grated cucumber into the sink.

Mix together all ingredients.

Pita bread - Lightly oil a grill or grill pan (which is what I use). Heat to medium. Grilled pita bread for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove and cut into triangles or squares. Enjoy :)

Monday, June 20, 2011


My sweet older sis texted me the other night with some requests for specific recipes from her and her friends. That got me thinking that I would add a "Request" section every week. If there is a specific dish that you are looking for a recipe for, please comment and let me know. I will pick a random one and come up with a recipe, cook it, and post it :)

Snack Time Seems To Be All The Time

Kids love to snack! Especially when they are growing. And, if your kiddos are anything like my child, they always want a snack at the most inconvenient times - in the car, in Target, in the carpool line....... I don't mind Amelia snacking, but like to make sure she has healthy things to choose from. My best advice is to have some snacks already made in snack size ziplocks. That way you can just grab it and go! Here are some of my fav snacks to enjoy at home or on the go. I am including my recipe for Granola Bars - they are wonderful, EASY, and are loved by all!

- Homemade Granola Bars
- Bran Muffins (I always add some mini chocolate chips - a little goes a long way!)
- Homemade Trail Mix
- Frozen Grapes (cut in half if feeding to small children)
- Raw Veggies (kids love things that crunch - make sure to offer different colored veggies)
- Smoothies ( I love to make these with Amelia - she loves adding the fruit to the blender and blending it herself)
- GoGo Organic Squeeze Applesauce

Granola Bars

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon flaxseeds
1 cup Kashi 7-Grain Cereal
1/3 cup craisins
1/3 cup Chopped Dates
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup chopped apricots
1/4 cup creamy almond butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350

Spread oats, almonds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Place in a large bowl. Add cereal, dates, raisins, apricots. Mix well.

Combine almond butter, honey, sugar, and vanilla in a small sauce pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

Pour almond butter mixture over all the dry ingredients. Mix well. Transfer mixture to an 8x8 pan that has been coated in nonstick spray. Press mixture down well with your hands. I usually spray a little nonstick spray on my hands before doing this.
Place in the fridge and let cool for 30-45 minutes. Flip out onto a cutting board and cut into either 8 bars or 16 squares.
Enjoy :)

More Than Just a Rat

Most of us with children have watched the movie "Ratatouille". Amelia became intrigued a few years ago with this movie and I'm pretty sure we can add it to our 50 list - movies we have seen at least 50 times! Ratatouille is a traditional French vegetable dish. You can serve it as a side dish, or as a main dish over pasta or rice. I decided to make Ratatouille Crepes this week. Don't be scared of making crepes. They are actually very easy after you practice a couple of times. I almost always have to throw my first crepe I make away. Just never seems to turn out!

1 cup yellow bell pepper; diced
1 cup red bell pepper; diced
1 1/2 cups sweet onion; diced
3 garlic cloves; minced
1 cup zucchini; diced
1 cup squash; diced
1 1/2 cups roma tomatoes; seeded and chopped (to seed tomatoes, give it a good squeeze over the sink)
2 cups eggplant (skin on); diced
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher Salt & Pepper
Cheese of choice - mozzarella, goat cheese, or whatever you like

1 small jar marinara sauce
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

Heat marinara and mascarpone in a small sauce pan on low heat.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook until light brown, about 8 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook for 5 minutes. Then, add the peppers, zucchini, and squash and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, herbs, salt & pepper, and white wine. Allow to cook for 5 more minutes.

Crepes (you can also find these already made at your grocery store) :

2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter; melted
Melted Butter for coating the pan

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend for 1 minute. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stick a brush into the melted butter and brush a light layer over butter all over the pan. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of the pan and swirl the pan to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for about another 10-15 seconds. Flip out onto a plate or cutting board. Continue until all the batter is gone.

Place ratatouille on a third of the crepe and add cheese of choice. Roll up or fold into triangle. Place a small amount of the marinara mixture on a plate. Place the crepe on top and Enjoy :)

*Leftover veggies? Save and add to pasta for another dinner*

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Daddy Day

I am one lucky girl. I definitely lucked out it the Dad department!! He is sweet, loving, kind, and funny! For Father's Day, Amelia and I want to make him a dinner that he would love. Amelia and her Paw Paw have a very special relationship. I love to watch them interact. Often brings me back to my own childhood as he tells her the same jokes as he told me, and does the same funny things! When I asked Amelia what we should cook for him, she answered, "Oreo Cake, with ice cream, and strawberries". These two love to eat Oreo's together! And, I have a feeling he often sneaks her more than I allow......

Amelia's Final Menu :

Oven Fried Chicken
Green Beans with Pancetta
Black Eyed Peas
Oreo Cake

Oven Fried Chicken

2 whole chickens; each cut into 8 pieces
1 quart buttermilk
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
5 drops Tabasco Sauce
4 cup corn flakes; crushed
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt

In a bowl, mix together buttermilk, mustard, dijon, and Tabaso. Add chicken and let marinate at least 2 hours.

In another bowl, mix together the cornflakes, garlic powder, Kosher salt, and cayenne pepper.

Preheat oven to 400. Place a rack on a cookie sheet. Get one piece of chicken out at a time and coat in the cornflake mixture. Do this to all the chicken pieces and place on the rack (will take 2 baking sheets if cooking two chickens). Lightly spray chicken with some nonstick spray. Cook for 45-50 minutes.

Oreo Cake

1 box white cake mix
1 can cream cheese frosting
1 box Oreo Crumbs
Whipped Cream
Strawberries; sliced

Cook cake according to directions. When completely cool, ice with frosting, then push oreo crumbs into cake. It will be messy. Very messy.

Top cake with whipped cream and slice strawberries.

And, yes, this is the extent of my baking these days. Hard to believe I started culinary school majoring in Baking & Pastry Arts....... Enjoy :)

* Because of work (busy cooking for someone else), we were not able to cook our meal today. I will upload pics this week when we get the chance to celebrate my very understanding Dad :) *

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ole, Ole...

This is a wonderful way to spice things up a bit when you a tired of cooking your typical taco's and quesadillas. Amelia, like every other kiddo out there, loves quesadillas. Pretty sure I have made about a million! The spices in this marinade add just a touch of heat and a lot of warmth from the cinnamon and cumin. I also use this marinade to make shrimp taco's.

Preheat oven to 350

4 chicken breast, boneless, skin ON (ask butcher to do this if you do not know how)
2 garlic cloves; minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil

Pan Sauce -

1/2 cup chicken broth
Juice from 1 lime
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt & Pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Rub all over the chicken breasts and let marinate for 20 minutes.

While marinating, make the tomato lime relish.

4 tomatoes; chopped
1 garlic clove; minced
2 tablespoons cilantro; chopped
1 lime; juiced
1 jalapeno; seeded and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in an oven proof skillet over medium high heat. Let it get hot before you add the chicken. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for 3 minutes, or until it has a nice golden brown color. Flip, and let cook for another 3 minutes. Add pan to the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

When chicken is done, remove from pan to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Return the pan back to the stove and heat over medium heat. Add all the ingredients for the pan sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes. When chicken is done resting, slice and plate on top of the tomato relish and drizzled with the pan sauce. ENJOY :)

I enjoyed this meal with Roasted Corn & Jalapeno Rice & Grilled Avocado's (more on those later :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


There is something about the smell of freshly picked tomatoes. The smell of dirt? The earthiness? I think it's because they smell like the backyard of my Grandpa's house, where he had a garden. I can't resist the urge to smell a tomato right after it's picked. The smell brings right back to that yard. And my Grandpa. In this recipe, the tomatoes shine. It is rustic and delicious. Serve as an appetizer, side dish, or serve along side a salad for a wonderful lunch.

Rustic Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart

Dough :

2 sticks very cold butter; cut into small pieces
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup ice water


1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Butter, to brush pie tin
8 tomatoes (feel free to use different types, colors, etc)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
Kosher salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large egg; lightly beaten
Fresh basil to garnish

Preheat oven to 375

Put the flour, butter, salt, and sugar into a food processor. Pulse quickly until the butter is the size of peas. Add the ice water in a small stream until the dough just comes together. Empty the bowl and roll the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge until needed.

For the onions, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add the sliced onions. Stirring until they turn golden brown. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

Take the dough out of the fridge and, on a surface dusted with flour, roll into a circle. Make sure it is not too thin, or the maters will bleed through the bottom Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paperl. Brush the bottom of the tart with the dijon mustard. Then place, in this order, the shredded gruyere cheese, onions, tomatoes (leaving a 2 inch border), salt & pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil,

Fold the extra dough in around the tomatoes. Brush the dough with the egg. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Right before serving garnish with the basil. Enjoy :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

You Either Love em or Hate em

Olives. Probably not surprising to many, but I LOVE them. Always have. I have apparently passed this love for all things briny onto Amelia. When I asked her what she wanted for lunch today, she answered, "olives". Not exactly the answer I was looking for, but I got to work anyway. I decided to make her some olive tapenade and crostini. Seemed a little more filling than just eating olives alone. Love my girl and her passion for food!


1/2 pound good olives ( I usually buy the Mediterranean mix); pitted - just smash each olives with a knifes, like you are smashing a garlic clove, and you should be able to easily remove the pit

2 tablespoons capers, drained & rinsed
2 garlic gloves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons anchovy paste (yes, it makes it taste really good and, no, it won't taste like fish)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor except the olive oil. Pulse several times. Then slowly add the olive oil while pulsing.

Place in a bowl and serve alongside the crostini. Enjoy :) Amelia sure did!

That's Amore!

Bistecca alla Florentina. Sounds romantic doesn't it? Anything in Italian sounds romantic though. Someone could curse me in Italian and I'm pretty sure I would still go weak in the knees. This is a wonderful, simple dish. The fresh rosemary and lemon are what brighten this dish up. I also like to serve a little Romesco sauce on the side. Super yummy.

2 10 oz T-bone or porterhouse steaks (serves 4 people)
8 tablespoons Olive OIl
5 tablespoons fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves; chopped
Kosher Salt & Pepper
4 cups baby arugula
2 lemons; cut in half
Balsamic Vinegar
Shaved Parmesan

Place the steaks in a shallow dish. Add the olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400

Heat a grill or grill pan or cast iron skillet (which is what I usually use) to medium - high heat. Cook the steak for about 4 minutes on each side. Then place in the oven for 8-10 minutes depending on how thick the steaks are cut. Remove and place on a cutting board. Loosely tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Then thinly slice the steaks.

Place the baby arugula on a platter, Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the steak. Squeeze the juice on 1/2 a lemon over the steak. Garnish with shaved parmesan. Enjoy :)

Romesco Sauce :

12 almonds (no skin)
10-12 hazelnuts (no skin)
1 head garlic
1 slice stale bread; cut into cubes
2 tomatoes
2 roasted red peppers
1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes

First - Roast garlic. Cut off the top of the garlic, exposing the cloves. Place on a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up tightly and place in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

Place nuts into a food processor and process until finely ground.

Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a small saute pan and toast bread until it is browned. Remove and allow to cool.

Cut tomatoes into quarters and saute in the same pan you used for the bread. Add a little oil if needed. Remove.

Tear the bread and process with the nuts. Add the tomatoes and roasted red peppers.

Squeeze the roasted garlic from the skins and add to the food processor. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

* Good on pasta, meat, fish, etc*

Two Things I Love

Cast iron skillets and one pot meals. Just like everyone else out there, I despise doing the dishes. It's one thing when I cook for family or friends who are so sweet to clean up after me when I cook. But, when I am at work, there's just little ole me. After about cooking for 3 or so hours every night, you can just imagine my pile of dirties. I know you are probably thinking I should clean as I go. And I should. But I don't. SO, anytime I get the chance to make a dinner in just one pot, I jump at it! Tonight, I made a version Coq Au Fin. Simple and delicious. I didn't have any wine on hand tonight, so I improvised with beer. Corona to be exact. This is my version of French meets Mexican Coq Au Fin.

1 whole chicken; cut into 8 pieces (you can also buy the chicken already cut or ask the butcher to do it for you)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter; divided
4 leeks; white & pale green parts only; chopped
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
4 garlic cloves; chopped
4 carrots; sliced
1 1/2 cups white wine (or beer, or red wine)
8 small red potatoes; cut in half
1/2 cup creme fraiche, or heavy cream. If you are trying to watch your fat intake, use greek yogurt. Make sure it is at room temp before adding
Kosher salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Pat the chicken dry. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium high heat. Brown the chicken in batches. Transfer to a plate and lightly tent with foil.

Pour off the fat from the chicken and add the remaining butter. Add the leeks and saute for about 8 minutes until soft. Add the carrots, potatoes, shallots, and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken, skin side up, and your liquid of choice. Cover pot and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

When chicken is done. Remove chicken from the pot and place on a platter. Strain the vegetable mixture into a bowl. Reserving all of the liquid. Add the veggies to the platter. Next, add the cooking liquid back to the pot. Bring to a simmer and add the creme fraiche or cream and season with salt and pepper. Spoon a little of the sauce over the chicken and serve the rest on the table with the chicken. Garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Cheesy Situation

I have a love for pimento cheese. I mean, a true love. Whether it's on a sandwich, crackers, celery, or if I'm just sneaking a bite out of the container with a fork, I love it. It is definitely a Southern thing. There are several different ways that I like to prepare it that I thought I would share for all you other pimento cheese lovers out there.



2 cups sharp cheddar shredded cheese
1/2 mayo
3 tablespoons pimentos
3 0z cream cheese; room temp
1/2 teaspoon onion power
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt & pepper to taste


1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Mont jack cheese
1 small can chopped green chilies
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
2 tablespoons minced onion
8-10 drops of Tabasco sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste


2 cups sharp white cheddar; shredded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup creme fraiche
3 tablespoons of roasted bell peppers; chopped
1 teaspoon worcestershire
3 green onions; chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions :

Place all ingredients in a food processor. PULSE until everything is mixed together. Enjoy it your favorite way to enjoy it :)

What A Peach

Tis the season for wonderful, juicy berries and sweet peaches!! I am lucky enough that my aunt and uncle have made it a hobby to "go pickin" every weekend. And, they are so generous to share all of their sweet goodies! Originally, I had planned to make preserves. Even thinking about making them made me feel oh so Southern. Then, after thinking about it some more, I thought about how, even though I love preserves, I don't really eat them on a regular basis. I do, however, enjoy a cocktail. See where this is going?? Fruit infused drinks. Yum. These will be delish when they are done. The hardest part will be waiting. They need at least a week so infuse. The longer you let them sit, the better it gets. Here's to waiting!!

The Goods :

Strawberry Vodka
Blueberry Vodka
Peachy Bourbon
Mango Jalapeno Tequilla

Recipe :

Clean your mason jars with soapy warm water.
Rinse and prepare your fruit.
Peel & cut your peaches
Cut your strawberries
Peel & cut mango's
Slice jalapeno's
For the blueberries, I like to smash them up a bit.

Fill your jar with selected fruit/berry.
Then, fill with liquor of choice.
Close tightly and store in a cool, dark place.

Wait AT LEAST one week. Make sure you give your jar a little love everyday and shake it. When you've waited as long as you possibly can. Strain your beverage. You can serve over ice or add a little sparkling water or tonic. Enjoy :)

A Girl and a Grill

Most women stay away from the grill like they stay away from a Wal Mart on a Saturday. They think of it as a "man's job". Well, I'm here to tell you it is an equal opportunity cooking method :) Ask someone to show you how to use it!!! Don't be scared of it!! One of my favorites things to cook on the grill is pizza. It is delicious.... it is pizza paradise.

PIzza Dough

1/4 cup white wine (yes, it even makes pizza dough taste better :)
3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/2 cups flour
A pinch of dried Italian seasoning

Toppings of your choice

Place wine, water and yeast in a measuring cup and stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix well to combine. Place the flour into a food processor. Turn on and slowly pour the yeast mixture into the processor until the dough comes together. Continue mixing (kneading) for 2 minutes.

Place in a clean, lightly-oiled bowl, using remaining tablespoon of oil and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm area for 45 minutes

For individual pizzas, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and knead into rounds. For one large pizza, knead into 1 large round.

You don't want to overload your pizza, or it will weigh the crust down. Also, make sure all of your toppings are ready to go, because this process is fast!

Light your grill and wait until it's hot.

Place the pizzas directly onto the grill and cook on 1 side for 1 minute. Turn the pizzas over and brush with olive oil or garlic oil.

Top the pizzas with any toppings you like. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put the lid on your grill and cook for 5 minutes more, until the crust is crisp and the toppings are cooked. Enjoy :)

My pizza's from this weekend......

- Mozzarella, tomatoes, & fresh basil
- Pesto, caramelized red onion, and baby sweet peppers
- Nutella (mixed with a little Kahlua & coffee), white chocolate chips, almonds, raspberries, drizzled with a raspberry sauce

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What was your first??

Recipe that is!! Amelia asked me the other day what the first recipe I cooked was. And, surprise I actually remembered. It was a dish called Noodle Casserole. Very gourmet, I know! I even found the recipe card in my old, torn up, recipe card box. Don't you love how well-loved it is?? Ahhh, I just love cookbook pages and recipe cards that you can tell have been used a million times. They are just stained with love :) Well, my little chef-in-training wanted to try it out. So, we set off to my home away from home, aka "the grocery store". There could not be an easier recipe. Amelia is eating it as an afternoon snack as I write this!

1 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 green onions; chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
2 cups cottage cheese
1/3 cup parmesan
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound flat noodles

Boil noodles in salted water until al dente. While noodles are cooking. Mix together everything but the butter and parmesan. Put mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with parmesan then drizzle with the butter. Cover with foil, and cook at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy :)

* To make it a little more substantial, add some shredded chicken from a rotisseire chicken and/or some sauteed mushrooms*

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My version of Prosciutto Wrapped Cantaloupe

Prosciutto and melon go together like peas and carrots. The combination of sweet and salty can't be beat! Here is a fun summer recipe. Enjoy outside with a glass of Prosecco!

24 crostini - I buy them made at either Whole Foods or Fresh Market

Extra-virgin olive oil
¹ripe Cantaloupe; diced
¹red onion; minced
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley; chopped
¹tablespoon fresh mint; chopped
12 slices prosciutto; sliced in 1/2 crosswise
Salt & pepper to taste

Marinate the onions in the vinegar for 5-10 minutes. Add the diced melon, parsley, mint, salt & pepper. Stir to combine.

Wrap each crostini with a piece of prosciutto. Put about a tablespoon of the cantaloupe mixture on top of each piece. Drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy :)

Posted by ShoZu

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Idea of a Comfort Dish

  • This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten. After making it for several years, I have added to it. Making it even better......

  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 10 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 bulb of fennel, thickly sliced
  • 8 oz whole, cleaned mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove the "prizes" from inside. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme (reserving a few sprigs), 2 halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, 2 lemon halves, carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, garlic cloves, and fennel in a roasting pan. It is very important to not cut the vegetables too small or they will burn. You want them to caramelize, but not burn :) Toss with salt, pepper, a few sprigs of thyme, white wine and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the chicken and place on a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes. This is the when you are going to need to be patient. It is going to smell so good and you are going to want to dig in. But wait!!!! I like to serve this family style on a big platter. I usually put a mound of wonderful mashed potatoes in the center, the roasted veggies around the potatoes, then the cut up chicken on top of the veggies. Then I drizzle the chicken and veggies with the juices from the pan. Enjoy :)

*Sometimes I add butternut squash, brussel sprouts, or any kind of root veggie I have*

Posted by ShoZu

My yummy breakfast this morning

What do you do when a friend gives you a ton a basil from his farm? Make pesto!!! I have found a way to incorporate it into every meal I've had today.

2 cups packed fresh basil
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts ( I used raw almonds because that's what was in the pantry)
kosher salt
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (if you are trying to watch your calories, reduce the olive oil to 1/4 cup and add some chicken broth to thin it out)

Put all ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a food processor. Turn on, and drizzle the olive oil in. Enjoy :)

I enjoyed mine this morning with eggs, tomatoes, and goat cheese. Yum.

Posted by ShoZu

Wild Mushroom Ragout

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 pounds wild and exotic mushrooms, sliced ( i buy the ones at Whole Food, already sliced :)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 4 teaspoons truffle oil - feel free to omit this. It is wonderful - but pricey
  • 1 pound of any kind of pasta you like
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan - make sure it's the real deal. Resist the urge to buy the green can ;)

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter to the pan. Once the butter melts, add the diced onions and saute about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, until they have released most of their liquid, about 10 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, spinach, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and stock to the pan. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil and reduce to a gentle boil. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper and add the truffle oil to the pan.

Place the dried pasta into the salted boiling water. Cook the pasta until al dente. Pour the pasta onto a large platter or bowl, and spoon the sauce over top of the pasta. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Enjoy :)

Posted by ShoZu