Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fruit & Yogurt Parfait

I made this simple and light, yet elegant breakfast while my in-laws were here over Thanksgiving weekend.

Serves 4

2 yogurts – two different flavors (I used mixed berry and peach)
1-2 bananas, sliced
1 package of raspberries
1 package of black berries
About a handful of red grapes

Using 4 wine tumblers, split the first yogurt among the glasses. Next add a layer of bananas and raspberries. Add another layer of the second flavor of yogurt. Top with grapes and black berries. Sprinkle with granola. Feel free to drizzle with a little honey too.

Cranberry Pear Pecan Hand Pies

I found this dessert in last month’s issue of Food & Wine. It was so good and easy that I made it twice in the last two weeks! The only difference from the recipe was I added pecans and coarse sugar crystals.

Serves 4

1 Bosc pear, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp coarse sugar crystals
1/2 Tbsp flour, plus more for dusting
½ cup fresh cranberries
½ cup chopped pecans
1 pinch of ground cloves, cinnamon and salt
One 7-ounce sheet of puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

In a medium bowl, toss the diced pears with the sugar, flour, cranberries, pecans, ground cloves, cinnamon and salt.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 14 1/2-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut the pastry into 4 squares. Spoon the pear filling onto the middle of each square, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold the pastry over the filling to make a triangle and firmly press the edges to seal. Crimp the edges with a fork or pinch and twist the edges. Prick the top of each triangle once with the fork to allow steam to escape during baking. Transfer the hand pies to a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until chilled. (I found it easier to prick the hole in the pie after it was refrigerated.)

Preheat the oven to 400°. Brush the chilled hand pies with the beaten egg and sprinkle them with the coarse sugar crystals. Bake the pies for about 30 minutes, until they are golden brown. Let the hand pies cool for at least 5 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 package of Betty Crocker's Double Chocolate Chunk cookie mix
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, soak cranberries in rum for 15-20 minutes until they are soft and plump.

Scoop spoonfuls of cookie dough on a non-greased cookie sheet. Make cookies according to directions on back of packaging. Mix in cranberries (drained) and pecans.

Bake according to directions on  back of packaging (about 10 minutes for 2" cookies).

Let cool for a couple minutes before removing from pan. Enjoy warm or store over night in an air tight container.

Spanish Birds (Spanělský Ptáček)

This is a delicious Czech dish that my mom made for us growing up. They are meat steaks rolled with egg, ham, hot dog and pickle.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

We had a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year: roasted turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, salad and rolls. I even scaled it back a little, just to make things easier. Ben's parents are not fussy eaters, so I decided not to stress myself out.

No cranberry sauce, who likes that stuff anyway? I roasted the turkey in a Reynolds Oven Bag, which was the easiest way I've ever cooked it. It came out moist with crispy skin! I did try a new stuffing this year, which was hit. I also made a new pumpkin pie, which was awesome (scroll down). I think I'm hungry again....

The feast

Thanksgiving Dinner Plate

Artichoke Parmesan Sourdough Stuffing

Artichoke Parmesan Sourdough Stuffing

1 Portabella mushroom, chopped

1 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 loaf (1 lb.) sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-in. cubes & toasted
12 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
5 sage leaves, minced
4-5 thyme springs, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp rosemary, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg

In a frying pan over high heat, cook mushrooms, butter, onions, celery, and garlic, stirring often, until vegetables are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Pour into a large bowl.

Pour broth into bowl and add bread, artichoke hearts, parmesan and herbs; mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add beaten egg and blend with stuffing.

Preheat oven to 350° (use temperature turkey requires; see Note below). Spoon stuffing into a casserole dish. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the top gets brown and crispy.

My best Pumpkin Pie yet!

Pumpkin Pie
¼ cup of white sugar

¼ tsp salt
½ cup of brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
1 can (15 oz) can of pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9” pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the first 6 ingredients. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and suger-spice mixture. Stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.

Bake in over for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and make for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick is inserted in the middle of the pie and comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack for 2 hours before serving.

Cran-Apple Pecan Bread

1 ½ cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 apple, peeled & chopped
¼ cup cooking oil
½ cup milk
1 egg
¼ tsp lemon zest
½ cup pecans, chopped

Grease bottom of a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

In another bowl combine sugar, apple, cranberries, oil, milk, egg and lemon zest. Add dry mixture to apple mixture. Fold in nuts.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until a wooden toothpick is inserted in the middle of the loaf and comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan, wrap and store over night in the fridge. This allows the flavors to mellow and the loaf to cut easier.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple, Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad

½ bag of mixed greens
½ Fiji apples, sliced
Pecan halves
Blue cheese crumbles
Balsamic vinaigrette

Plate mixed greens, top with apples, pecans and blue cheese. Drizzle with Balsamic vinaigrette.

Cheese Burger Foil Packet

A complete meal in one delicous, little package! We make these foil packets when we go camping but haven’t tried them at home yet. Baking them in the oven worked out well. You can make the packets with whatever fillings you like, such as sausage or salmon, and any combination of veggies.

1/2 lb ground beef
garlic and parsley seasoning
grill seasoning
salt and pepper
1-2 carrots, sliced
1 large red potato, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1/4 onion, sliced
Shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lay a piece of aluminum foil on the counter top. Drizzle with EVOO. Layer potato, beef, seasonings, celery, onion and carrot. Twist up edges of foil to make a tight package that won’t leak. Bake for 40 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Open packets and slide onto plate. Top with shredded cheese.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicken and Swiss Chard Bake

5-6 chicken tenders
½ sourdough baguette, 1-day old, cut in bit sized pieces
1 large bunch of Swiss Chard, ripped in little pieces
2-3 Tbsp of capers, drained
1/3 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, add bread, Swiss Chard, capers, onion, garlic and parsley. Drizzle with EVVO and season with salt and pepper. Toss all together. Pour into a casserole dish.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Arrange over bread and Swiss Chard mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked all the way through.

Serve the chicken with the bread and the greens.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grilled Salmon with Sundried Tomato and Mushroom Cous Cous

2 salmon filets, skin on
Grill seasoning
1 box of cous cous (olive oil and garlic flavor)
2-3 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup of dried wild mushroom pieces
2 green onion sprigs, chopped
Zest of one lemon
Crumbled feta cheese (sundried tomato and basil flavor)

In a medium pot, add 1 ¼ cup of water, sundried tomatoes and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Mix in cous cous with seasonings from box. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in green onion, lemon zest and feta cheese.

Season salmon filets with grill seasoning. Heat grill to high heat. Grill salmon skin side down for about 7-8 minutes, flip filet and grill for an additional 2-3 minutes until no longer pink in the middle. Skin should remove easily.

Plate salmon and cous cous together. Serve with lemon wedge.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grilled Swordfish with Herbed Vegetables

2 - 1 ½” thick swordfish filets
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 lemon

2 medium red potatoes, cubed
1 large carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 Tbsp Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
2 rosemary sprigs, minced
2 green onion sprigs, chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes, a couple dashes
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Boil potatoes and carrots with 2 garlic cloves, 1 rosemary sprig, salt and pepper for about 15 minutes. Drain and discard herbs.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a medium sized baking sheet with non stick cooking spray. In a medium mixing bowl, add potatoes, carrots, 2 garlic cloves, 1 rosemary sprig, green onions, parsley, pepper flakes, salt, pepper and EVOO. Toss well. Spread vegetables and herbs on baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes until veggies are brown and crispy.

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Drizzle each filet with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill each side for 5 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Cut lemon in half, brush with EVOO and grill for 2-3 minutes.

Plate swordfish with roasted veggies and sprinkle with parsley. Garnish with grilled lemon.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cranberry Carrot Bread

Talk about random cravings. I woke up this morning craving carrots. First I was going to make fresh carrot-apple juice in the juicer, but the then I busted out my faithful Better Homes and Garden Cook Book and looked up some loaf/bread recipes. I combined a few of the ones listed in the book together and came up with this, which was perfect for breakfast with coffee.

¾ cup of dried cranberries
¼ cup rum
1 ½ cup flour
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup finely shredded carrots (3 large carrots)
¼ cup of cooking oil
¾ cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar

Grease the bottom of a loaf pan (8”x4”x2”) and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl stir together cranberries and rum; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt.

In another medium bowl combine egg, carrots and oil. Stir in cranberry mixture. Add egg mixture to dry mixture. Stir until just moistened. Fold in walnuts.

Pour batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. To test if done, insert a wooden toothpick and it should come out clean.

Remove from oven. While bread is still in the pan, brush lemon-sugar mixture over the top of the loaf. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tomato Basil Chicken with Italian Bread Pudding

It might be a little hard to tell what's going on here from the photo. I had a hard time figuring out what to make with the bread pudding. The hubby has to have meat in his meals and I probably would have just chose a salad as a side for myself. I had to use the chicken up in the fridge, so I said "What the hell? I feel crazy!" It turned out pretty tasty!

Bread pudding:
1/3 sourdough baguette, cut in bite sized pieces
¼ small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
½ bunch of fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
½ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

2 chicken breasts, sliced in half, depending on thickness
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes
Garlic seasoning
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes, chopped
3 large fresh basil leaves, roll herb and slice
Tomato and basil feta cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or spray a loaf pan. Add bread cubes and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat EVOO over med-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and season with S&P. Cook for another 2 minutes, until tomatoes are soft. Stir in basil and Parmesan. Pour tomato mixture over bread cubes and combine.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, S&P. Beat together well. Pour the mixture over the bread and gently mix together. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium skillet, heat EVOO over med-high heat. Season chicken with garlic, pepper flakes and S&P. Sauté chicken until both sides are brown and chicken is cooked all the way through. Add pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes.

Plate bread pudding aside chicken. Top chicken with feta cheese. Sprinkle fresh basil over the whole dish.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Cake

This is what I made for the humans attending Rosey's Birthday.

1 box of chocolate sponge cake
1 package of fresh raspberries, halved
1 jar of seedless raspberry jam
1 package of milk chocolate frosting

Make batter according to directions on box. Bake cake in 2 8-inch circular pans. Let cool.

Spread jam on the top of one cake. Press the second cake on top. You can even split each layer in half and have a 4 layered cake, using different fillings.

Frost cake using a knife or thin plastic spatula. Decorate cake with raspberries, making a border or creating letters and/or numbers on top.

Apple and Cinnamon Muttins with Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese Frosting

These are what I made for Rosey's 10th Birthday. They were a hit with all her four legged friends!

Muffin ingredients:
1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp of cinnamon
2 eggs
3/4 cup raw, unprocessed honey
1 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup safflower oil

For muffins:
Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients together and mix well. Spoon mixture into mini muffin pan, filling each muffin close to top. Bake for 15-18 minuntes or until golden brown.

Frosting ingredients
1/4 cup organic cream cheese, set out to room tempeture
1 Tbsp of organic, creamy peanut butter

For frosting:
Mix ingredients together well. Let muffins cool and frost each one using a knife. Store in the fridge overnight, but best if you frost the day of.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Braised Short Rib Rigatoni

I saw Giada de Laurentiis make this last week on the Food Network and wanted to try it. I simplified it a little and added a carrot. It was delicious. Next time I think I'll try it in the crock pot.

Rigatoni with Braised Short Ribs

1 lb beef short ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
EVOO drizzles
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 cup red wine
1 ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup beef broth
1 lb Rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Season ribs with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add ribs and brown on all sides. Remove the ribs and set aside. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stir for 2 minutes. Add the carrots, tomatoes, wine and mustard. Bring the mixture to a boil and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the ribs to the pan. Add the beef broth, cover the pan and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours until the meat is fork tender and falls easily from the bone.

Remove the ribs from the cooking liquid. Using a large spoon, remove any excess fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Transfer the cooking liquid in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Remove the meat from the bones. Discard the bones. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into small pieces. Stir the shredded meat into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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 the pasta. Toss pasta with meat sauce. Sprinkle the pasta with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley before serving.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Salmon with Stewed Tomatoes and Sauteed Spinach and Potatoes

2 salmon filets
Grill seasoning
1/3 can of diced tomatoes, drained
½ bag of baby spinach
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large red skinned potatoes
¼ cup of milk
1 Tbsp butter
1-2 Tbsp of sour cream
Salt and pepper

In a steamer, cook potatoes until fork tender about 15-20 minutes. Drain excess water and mash with potato masher. Add milk, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper to taste. Mash together well. Cover and set aside.

In a medium pan, heat EVOO over high heat. Season salmon with grill seasoning. Sear skin side of salmon down for 2-3 minutes until skin is crispy. Flip filet, add tomatoes, turn heat to low, cover and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes until fish is no longer pink in the middle and flakes easily with a fork.

In a small pan, heat EVOO over med-high heat. Sauté spinach and garlic until spinach is wilted.

Assemble dish by plating spinach and potatoes. Top spinach with salmon and top dish with tomatoes.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

I found this Buffalo Blue Cheese dressing from Fresh & Easy and threw it together in this salad.

1 bag of a spicy salad, like arugula
2-3 ribs of celery, chopped
2-3 mini bell peppers
¼ cucumber, chopped
8-10 chicken tenders
½ cup of flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
½ - 1 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup of Frank’s RedHot
Buffalo Blue Cheese dressing from Fresh & Easy (found in produce section)

In a large sauce pan, heat EVOO over medium high heat. Dredge chicken tenders in flour, then egg, and then bread crumbs. Fry chicken until each piece is crispy, golden brown and cooked all the way through. In a medium mixing bowl, add fried chicken tenders and toss with Frank’s RedHot.

Assemble salad, by creating a bed of greens, top with veggies and drizzle with salad dressing. Finish by topping with chicken.