Friday, July 29, 2011

Simple Veggie Sides

It is easy to add some extra flavor to the vegetable dishes we eat. Sauteed green beans, zucchini, squash can instantly become the highlight of your dinner instead of a just another vegetable that no one is touching. This past week, while I was teaching a cooking camp for kids. I explained to my class that you eat with your eyes and nose first, before you even take the first bite. Lets face it, the food needs to look good if you want others to eat it. I find the prettier I make veggies, the more likely my sweet pea is going to eat them!! Here are three of my go-to dishes.... Enjoy :)

Sauteed Green Bean with Wild Mushrooms Mushrooms
Roasted Broccoli with Shallot & Garlic
Sauteed Zucchini, Squash, and Cherry Tomatoes

Sauteed Green Beans

1 bag of fresh green beans; microwaved for 4 minutes
1 pkg wild mushrooms (or any kind you like)
Kosher Salt & Pepper
Splash of white wine
1 tablespoon butter

In a saute pan, heat the butter oven medium heat. Add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the green beans and white wine. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Season beans well with salt and pepper.

Roasted Broccoli with Shallots and Garlic

2 heads broccoli; cut in florets
4 large shallots; whole; peeled
5 garlic cloves; peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375

On a sheet pan, add all of the ingredients and mix well with you hands. Cook for 25 minutes.

Sauteed Zucchini and Squash with Cherry Tomatoes

2 Zucchini; sliced on the diagonal
2 Squash
3 garlic cloves; minced
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes; halved
Splash of white wine
Kosher Salt & Pepper
1/3 cup fresh parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat a skillet to medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, ass the zucchini and the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until it begins to lightly brown. About 6-8 minutes. Then add the cherry tomatoes and the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine. Cook for 1 more minute. Turn the heat off and add the parmesan.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Easy Eggplant Dip

I love dips that can be make in a food processor. It's just so easy and it's easy clean up. It's a win, win. One of my favorites lately is an eggplant dip. It is creamy, a little bit spicy, and delicious. I serve it with Naan. I could be a little obsessed. Naan is a flatbread that resembles pita bread. But, with more flavor. I buy the Garlic Naan at Whole Foods. I can't tell you how good it is!
Enjoy :)

Preheat oven to 350

I small eggplant; skin removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red pepper; seeds and stem removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red onion; cut into 1 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves; skins removed
2 tablespoons olive oil; plus 1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pkg Naan or pita bread

Slice Naan in any way you want. Spray the pan with nonstick spray and place the Naan on the pan. Spray the top with nonstick spray.

Cook, until light brown. About 12-15 minutes.

Turn oven up to 400

Place all cut veggies and 2 tablespoons olive oil on a sheet pan. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

In a food processor, add veggies, lemon juice, and feta. Pulse a few times. Then, with it running, drizzle the remaining olive oil in. Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baking 101

I can't believe that ten years ago, baking/pastries was what I wanted to pursue in culinary school. I have lost most of those skills. Or maybe just my passion for it. Every now and then I do have to bake something. Last week, I needed to bake a dessert for a small dinner party. Something "light". I chose to make an Angel Food Cake with an Orange Glaze and Fresh Berries. It was good, but didn't turn out too pretty, so I covered it with powdered sugar. Problem solved. Enjoy :)

2 cups sifted superfine sugar (put in a food processor to make superfine)
1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg white (10-12 eggs) at ROOM TEMP (I let mine sit out for 6 hours)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons orange zest

Preheat oven to 350

Combine 1/2 cup of the sugar with the flour and sift.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. With a whisk attachment, beat on high until the eggs make a medium peak. About a minute. Then, turn the speed to medium and SLOWLY add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Literally, I sprinkled mine in. Whisk for a few minutes until it appears shiny. Whisk in the vanilla and orange zest and beat for 1 more minutes. Sift about 1/4 of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold in with a spatula. Continue adding 1/4 cup at a time until it is all incorporated. Pour mixture into a bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove and let cool, upside down on a rack, for at least an hour.

For the Glaze :

1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle all over COOLED cake.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Meatless Monday

A lot of people are choosing to start their week out by enjoying meat free meals. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy meat, as does my sweet daughter. Recently, she proclaimed she was a vegetarian. This, however, was short lived. As soon as we were standing at the meat counter at Whole Foods, she had changed her mind. I can't say I was surprised. The girl will devour some Rendevous ribs and loves a steak. I try to cook a vegetarian meal once a week for the family I cook for. My hope is that they will love it and not miss the meat. There are so many benefits for eating vegetarian - health and enviromental. Could you eat a meatless dinner once a week ?!?

Portabello Mushroom and Tomato Stack

8 portabello mushrooms; stems and gills removed ( I remove them by scraping them out with a spoon )
4 garlic cloves, peeled, cut in half
2 tomatoes; cut into 8 slices
4 slices whole mozzarella
8 Basil leaves
2 cups Baby Spinach or Arugula
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400

Drizzle balsamic and olive oil on both sides of all the mushrooms. Then season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Put a half garlic clove on each mushrooms. Place in oven and cook, flipping once, for 12 minutes.

Remove and add a small handful of the baby spinach, two slices of tomato, basil, and slice of mozzarella to four of the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Top with another mushroom, making a "sandwich". Place back in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

I served some warm marinara on the side as a sauce.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The One Thing I Didn't Want To Learn...

It's my favorite and something that I crave on a regular basis. I think I could eat it everyday. While I lived in Denver, you could get it delivered. Talk about convenient!! I'm talking about sushi. Now, before some of you stop reading here, sushi does not mean you are eating raw fish! Sushi actually just refers to the rice. You can fill the rolls with whatever you like. I always have said that I never wanted to learn how to make sushi because I loved it so much. I didn't want it to lose any appeal, which can sometime happen. The cooking school where I work offers a sushi class taught by the man that owns several Japanese/Sushi restaurants in Memphis. Well, a couple of years ago, I was scheduled to work one of the sushi classes. I was excited because I heard he made the instructor a huge platter of sushi. Yum. I, after working the class enough, now know how to roll sushi. Sooo glad I know how to now. It is so easy.

I made some recently while at the beach. My friends sent their hubby's to the store to pick up the ingredients. I should have known better. I was only warned after the fact. They came back with imitation crab. Hello?! We are at the BEACH - there is fresh seafood everywhere! They also brought back rock hard avocado's. All the girls got a good laugh at their expense. Needless to say, I had to go back to get the right ingredients. Live and learn....... I made two different types of rolls that night - Spicy Crab and Mango and Vegetable. If you can, sign up for a local sushi class. They are a ton of fun!

Friday, July 22, 2011


So, I got a request from a family friend who use to babysit my sister and I when we were little. She also "teenage-sat" us too when my parents would go out-of-town. Thankfully, she lived (as did my sister and I ;) to tell about it. And, yes, there were some stories. She requested some recipes with only a few ingredients. I get this request a lot from family & friends. Everyone is short on time these days and everyone is looking to put something healthy and yummy on the table for their family. So, Laurie, this is for you. Enjoy :)

Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri Sauce

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 bunch italian parsley
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves
4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon; juiced
1/2 lemon thinly sliced for garnish
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt & Pepper

Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat your grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Cook 6 minutes per side. Remove and tent on a plate while you make the sauce.

Combine all ingredients, EXCEPT the olive oil, in a blender. Pulse a few times. Then, turn on and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Place a little of the sauce on a plate, top with a chicken breast, and garnish with a fresh slice of lemon

I forgot to take pictures of the finished product. I hate it when I do this. It was beautiful and delicious!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Patience Paid Off

Well, surprise, surprise, I found out that I DO have patience. Who knew ?! Several weeks ago I blogged about the fruit infused cocktails I was making. I waited almost a month before I decided to open the first jar. It's amazing that I lasted this long. I packed them carefully for the long drive to the beach. Blueberry cocktails seemed like a natural addition to our trip. They were beautiful & delicious. To be honest, you could drink it on the rocks. It is that dangerously good. Be careful if you eat any blueberries that have been soaking - they are like little shots of vodka. I think I'm going to make Limoncello next.......

Blueberry Vodka
Splash of Cranberry Juice
Squeeze of Lime Juice
Tonic Water

Sit back and Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back to Reality

After a week at the beach, I have hit the ground running... Teaching a cooking camp all day, then off to my regular cooking job at night, has left me, well, exhausted. I have a dozen posts almost ready to go. They are coming, so please be patient as I get back to my life of working, parenting, unpacking, etc. Thanks!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Simple Shrimp-n-Grits

I have made this for a lot of dinner parties, and it always disappears. I was very close to not sharing this recipe. Only, because I'm going to have to let people in on how simple and quick this dish is. But, this is what this blog is all about - sharing - so, I will :) This is great for a brunch or a dinner to entertain friends. I recently cooked it for friends at the beach. Enjoy :)


3/4 cup quick cook Grits
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, tail off
2 garlic cloves; finely minced
1/4 cup Italian Parsley
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups Chicken Broth or Milk
3 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese; grated
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher Salt

In a bowl, combine the shrimp, white wine, garlic, cayenne pepper, and parsley.

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Slowly add the grits in, whisking the whole time. Turn the temp down to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes. Put all the ingredients from the shrimp bowl into the pot. Stir well and let cook for 5 minutes. Add butter, white cheddar, and parmesan. Garnish with several of the shrimp.

Check seasonings for salt and pepper.

* I added Fresh Corn & Bacon this past time*

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Easy Clean Up?? Count Me In.....

I despise doing the dishes. It is definitely my least favorite part of my day. I almost don't even want to write about it, because I don't want to relive it. But, oh yeah, this is a happy post about easy clean up, so I'll get back to it. I have written about one pot meals being a fav of mine and meals made in foil are no different. Easy, delicious, and fool proof. You can't go wrong. Enjoy :)

Asian Chicken with Spinach and Shiitake Mushrooms

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup shiitake mushrooms; sliced
4 cloves garlic; minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger; minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat oven to 375

Tear off 4 large pieces of aluminum foil. Place one cup of spinach in the middle of each piece. Place the chicken on top. Add 1/4 cup of the mushrooms on top of each piece of chicken. Then sprinkle the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes over the chicken and mushrooms. Drizzle each piece with the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce. Fold in all the edges of the foil and pinch to form a tight seal.

Place on a foil lined baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes. Remove and carefully (it will be steaming hot) open the foil. I remove the chicken and slice it. Then, I drain the sauce from the packets into a boil, reserving the spinach and mushrooms.

On a platter, place the spinach and mushrooms down. Place the sliced chicken on top and drizzle with a little of the reserved sauce. Serve the rest of the sauce on the side.

I served mine with Sauteed Snow Peas & Peppers

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Best Meal Ever

It probably wasn't the prettiest, or the most delicious, or the most gourmet dinner. But, it was the best. For the first time in 6 months (which is REALLY long for us), my family was all here. This is just the sweetest time to me. No matter how "old" we get, my older sister will always be my "sissy" or my "say say". And, when we are in the house we grew up in, we immediately go back to acting like we are in high school. I'm sure my parents love it!! Times do change some though. These days, we watch our girls run off and play with each other, soaking up all the time they have together. And, we all sit around and enjoy the sweet smiles and laughs of my sister's baby. After having family portraits taken by a great photographer, Paige Miller, I wanted to cook the fam an easy, delicious dinner out by the pool. We enjoyed a wonderful family dinner with some great wine and just maybe a few Skinny Girl Margaritas ;) Family time is such a gift......... Enjoy :)

Grilled Beef Tenderloin
Grilled Vegetables with Lemon and Herb Dressing
Smashed Baby Rosemary & Garlic Potatoes

Grilled Beef Tenderloin

Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Beef Tenderloin
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves

Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Take the tenderloin out of the fridge and let it sit for 25 minutes. Rub olive oil all over the tenderloin. Then rub the kosher salt, pepper, and herbs all over.

Grill until very browned on all sides. Then move to a cooler part of the grill (non direct heat), cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes for medium rare (125-130 degrees).

Remove from heat and tent lightly with foil on a cooking board for 10 minutes. Slice and serve over mixed greens.

Grilled Vegetables with Lemon and Herb Dressing

1 eggplant; cut into rounds
1 zucchini; sliced thick
1 squash; sliced thick
1 red onion; sliced thick
1 bunch green onions
4 roma tomatoes; cut in half
2 fennel bulbs; sliced thick
2 red peppers; cut in half
2 yellow peppers; cut in half

Dressing :

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic; smashed
Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
Olive Oil
Italian Parsley; chopped

Put all ingredients, except the olive oil and parsley, into a blender. Mix well. Drizzle in the olive oil. Stir in the parsley.

Heat a grill ( or grill pan) to medium high heat. Brush all the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Put all the veggies on the grill and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until tender and lightly charred. Remove and cut the peppers into a very large dice. Place all veggies on a platter and drizzle with dressing.

Smashed Baby Herb & Garlic Potatoes

2 pounds baby potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary; minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Heat a large pot of water to a soft boil. Add potatoes and boil until just tender. Drain. Lightly smash each potato with a fork or your fingers.

In a saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the potatoes and gently stir to coat with the herbs and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parmesan.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sweet & Healthier

Yes, there are desserts than can be both!! I love using fresh fruit during the summer when I am making something sweet. This recipe is sooo simple, delicious, and beautiful. Enjoy :)

Fruit Tarts

Preheat oven to 350

1 1/2 cups nonfat lemon yogurt (you could also use a nonfat chocolate, raspberry, whatever you like)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Fresh mint leaves
Fresh fruit of your choice (blueberries, strawberries, mango, kiwi, etc) Diced very small

Put the yogurt in a fine mesh strainer that's lined with a paper towel, and set over a bowl. Let drain for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a bowl , beat the oil, egg, and sugar until creamy. Slowly whisk in the two flour's until everything is combined and a soft dough has formed. You might need to switch to a wooden spoon because it might get a little tough with the whisk. Roll into a ball and place into the fridge for 1 hour.

Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Roll out the dough into a 1/8 inch thick sheet on a lightly floured surface. With a cookie cutter or small glass, make 24 rounds that are about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place rounds into muffin pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove the tarts from the pan and let cool.

Put the strained yogurt in a small bowl. Carefully spoon about 2 teaspoons of yogurt in each tart. Top with your diced fruit and garnish with the fresh mint.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Shrimp Is The Fruit of the Sea" - Bubba

"Forest Gump" is still one of my favorite movies! If it's on TV, I am watching it. And, sometimes if I'm lucky, there is a marathon on TNT. It just makes me so happy :) I laugh and cry at the same parts every time, like I haven't seen it a million times before. I also share sweet Bubba's love of all things shrimp. If you are in Memphis, make sure to make it to the Farmer's Market downtown on Saturday. There is a wonderful man there that sells Royal Red shrimp. They are huge and delicious! They are my fav. Here are two shrimp appetizers that I like I have enjoyed lately....

Asian Style Sauteed Shrimp with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro; chopped
1 pound large shrimp
Kosher Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix first 6 ingredients together in a small bowl.

Shell and devein shrimp, leaving the tail on. Season well with salt and pepper.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat, and add olive oil and sesame oil. Add the shrimp in one layer and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn shrimp over and cook for another minutes. Remove to a plate/platter and enjoy immediately.

Sweet and Spicy Chili Shrimp

25 large shrimp; peeled & deveined; tail ON
1 tablespoon garlic; minced
1/2 tablespoon ginger; minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro; finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
15 eggroll wrappers; cut in half diagonally (2 triangles)
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the shrimp. Let marinate for 15 minutes.

Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel. Wrap each shrimp in an eggroll wrapper triangle. Seal with egg wash.

Cook in an inch of hot veggie oil (375 degrees) for 3-5 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Enjoy with sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Food Just Taste Better With.....

Booze. Yup. It really does. As you have probably already found out by reading this blog, I like to add a little something to most my dishes. Not a lot, but just enough to add another layer of flavor. This post is going to be devoted to one in particular type.... BEER. I have several favorite beer dishes such as..... Beer Cheese Dip, Beer Can Chicken, and Chocolate Stout Cake. The best part of cooking with beer is, of course, enjoying one while you are cooking:) Cheers!

Beer Cheese Dip (my sweet Mom has been making this forever and I never tire of it)

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic
1 tablespoon worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pound sharp cheddar; grated
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 cup beer

Cream the two cheeses in a food processor. Add the other ingredients and slowly pour in the beer. Serve with wheat thins. Doesn't get any easier then this and it is always a crowd pleaser!

Beer Can Chicken "Drunken Chicken"

1 whole chicken
3 tablespoons of your favorite rub (BBQ, cajun, whatever you like)
1 can beer

First things first...... Open the beer and take a few big sips out. Aahhh, better.

Then, remove the giblets and dry the chicken with a paper towel. Season the inside and outside of the bird with your rub of choice. Heat you grill to medium heat.

Holding the chicken upright, insert the beer can into the cavity. Place on the grill. You are wanting to grill this over indirect heat. Cook for about 2 hours. Until it is falling off the bone. Carefully lift the bird off the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Your bird is going to its happy place. Give it some time :) Carve the chicken and Enjoy :)

* I would suggest you buy a Beer Can Chicken Rack at Home Depot. It makes it a little easier *