Monday, February 28, 2011

Everything Bars

2 cups crushed graham cookies
1 stick of butter, melted
1-14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
6 oz white chocolate chips
¾ cup dried cranberries
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine cookies and butter. Press crumb mixture on the bottom of a 13” x 9” pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk over crumbs. Top with chocolate chips, cranberries, coconut and nuts.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until coconut is lightly toasted brown. Chill at room temperature and cut into bars.

Baked Chicken Florentine

2 chicken breasts
2 slices of provolone cheese
1 handful of fresh baby spinach
A few slices of jarred roasted red pepper
2 slices of hickory smoked bacon
Jalapeno slices (optional)
Salt and pepper

Cut a pocket in each chicken breast. Season with salt and pepper. Stuff each chicken with cheese, spinach, red pepper and jalapeno (optional). Top with bacon. Secure opening with toothpicks, if necessary. Place in casserole dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Remove chicken from oven; remove bacon and bake alone for an additional 5 minutes, until crispy. Chop bacon and crumble over baked chicken.

Serve with potatoes or pasta.

Steamed Artichoke with Garlic Mayo

1 large artichoke
2 Tbsp mayo
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 tsp minced capers
1 squirt of lemon juice

In a small bowl filled with 1-2” of water, place artichoke top down and cover with saran wrap. Microwave for 7 minutes and let sit for 10 minutes. Leaves should easily remove when pulled.

In a small bowl, mix mayo, garlic, capers and lemon juice.

For those of you that don’t know….

To eat, scrape meaty ends of artichoke leaves with your teeth; discard the rest of the leaf. When you get to the heart, scrape out the “hair” with a knife, and enjoy the best part!

Now you know…..

The end.

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Potato

Another favorite at Spuds.

4-6 chicken tenders, cut in halves or thirds
1 egg, beaten
Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil
1 large carrot, cubed
2 celery ribs, cubed
Green onion, chopped
2 large Russet potatoes
4 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp Ranch dressing
1 Tbsp blue cheese crumbles
Frank's RedHot

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub potatoes clean, pierce holes with a fork and bake for 45 minutes.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Coat chicken tenders with flour, then egg and lastly breadcrumbs. In a large frying pan over medium high, heat oil until it starts to ripple. Fry breaded chicken until golden brown and chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove from heat and place on a plate with a paper towel, to absorb excess oil.

In a medium bowl toss fried chicken with Frank’s RedHot.

In a small bowl, mix sour cream, dressing and blue cheese.

Score baked potato; press both ends together to open up. Top with sour cream mixture, chicken, veggies and extra crumbled blue cheese.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Stuffed Pork Chops with Apples, Pecans and Rice

Stuffed Pork Chops
2 boneless pork loins, 1 inch thick
½ apple, cubed
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
1 green onion sprig, minced
¼ cup cooked white rice (cook rice with ½ tsp minced fresh thyme)
Salt and pepper

Mixed greens
Sliced apple
Toasted pecans
Blue cheese crumbles
Vinaigrette dressing

In a small sauce pan over med-high heat, sauté apples and green onion in a little EVOO for a couple minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and toss with rice and pecans. If the stuffing seems too dry, drizzle with a little EVOO.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pockets into each pork loin and fill with stuffing. Seal opening with toothpicks. Place on a roasting rack and bake for 25 minutes, or until center of pork is barely pink.

For salad, toss in vinaigrette and top with apples, pecans and blue cheese.

Serve stuffed pork chops with salad. Drizzle pork with extra pork juices from baking.

Vegetable Meatloaf with Herbed Smashed Potatoes and Zucchini

This was my tastiest meatloaf yet and the potatoes were amazing!

1 lb beef (85/15)
1 large carrot, diced
¼ cup sliced leeks
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, diced
3-4 broccoli florets, chopped
1 thick slice of rustic bread, diced
Few dashes of Worchester sauce
1 egg
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

Smashed Potatoes
2 large red potatoes
½ tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp fresh minced rosemary
1 tsp minced chives
1 tsp minced parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp butter
Salt & pepper

2 small zucchini, cubed
Extra herbs from above
Salt & pepper

For meatloaf:
In a small pan, heat a couple drizzles of EVOO over med-high heat. Sauté carrots, leeks and garlic for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

It says MEATloaf, but look at all these veggies!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, mix beef, jalapeno, broccoli, bread, Worchester, egg, salt and pepper. Gently mix together with your hands, but not too much otherwise this will cause the loaf to be tough. Shape loaf into a shallow casserole, cover and bake for 35-40 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Uncover and cook for the last 5 minutes to brown the top.

Smashed potatoes:
Cut potatoes in half or thirds. Boil in salted water until tender. Drain and smash potatoes until they are twice the diameter. Drizzle a casserole dish with a little EVOO. Add potatoes to dish, brush with EVOO and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Take potatoes out of oven, dot with butter and bake for another 5 minutes.

Sauté zucchini over med-high heat in a little EVOO. Sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper and sauté until tender. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Girl's Night.... Asian Food!!!

The girls came over for an evening of Asian food. We started off with salted edamame, chicken and vegetable egg rolls, and tempura sweet potato, asparagus and broccoli. Our main dishes were spicy chicken over white rice and shrimp and vegetable stir-fry over noodles. We ended our feast with mango and strawberry sorbet. A great feast to share with wonderful friends!

Spicy Chicken
2 chicken breasts, sliced in bite sized pieces
2 jalapenos, remove seeds and ribs
1/3 cup of honey, microwave for a few seconds to liquefy
2 Tbsp cilantro
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp sesame oil

In a food processor, blend jalapenos, honey, cilantro, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Add a little water if the sauce is too thick.

In a sauce pan over med-high heat, sauté chicken in oil with garlic and ginger. Season with salt and pepper. After cooked all the way through, remove chicken from pan. Sauté red peppers in same pan until tender. Add chicken back to pan; add jalapeno honey sauce and mix together to warm through.

Serve Spicy Chicken over rice.

Shrimp & Vegetable Stir-fry over Noodles
2 cups of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 large carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
½ can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/3 small cabbage, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp sesame oil
½ package of thin egg noodles (Mi Trung Ga), found at the Asian market
Teriyaki Sauce

Heat oil in a wok over med-high heat. Sauté vegetables, garlic, ginger in 1-2 Tbsp of teriyaki sauce; cook until tender. Remove vegetables from pan. Cook shrimp in the same pan, just until they turn pink; remove from heat.

In a pot of boiling water, cook noodles until soft; drain. Add noodles to wok with vegetables and shrimp. Toss with 1-2 Tbsp of teriyaki sauce, or more to taste.

Serve in a large bowl, family style.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Prawns with Romesco Sauce, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes and Greens

Inspired by a Food Network's Worst Cooks in America  episode and revised it a bit.

1 bunch mustard greens, cleaned, thick stems discarded
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup chicken stock
2-3 tsp EVOO

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
8 (21/25) count shrimp, peeled, deveined, and rinsed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons white wine
2 to 3 tablespoons Romesco Sauce, recipe follows

Mashed Potatoes:
2 red skinned potatoes, cubed
¼ cup cream
3 tsp of butter
¼ cup of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Romesco Sauce:
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 slice rustic white bread, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
4 Roma tomatoes, cored and quartered
1/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp EVOO

For mashed potatoes:
Boil potatoes until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Add cream, butter, salt and pepper and mash together until smooth. Mix in cheese.

For the greens: In a medium pan over medium heat, heat the oil and sauté the mustard greens until starting to wilt, about 1 minute. Stir in the red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the greens are just tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

For the shrimp: Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp butter, allowing the butter to melt.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and then add to the pan. Stir the shrimp while cooking. Cook until bright red, 3 to 4 minutes.

Once the shrimp are cooked, add the wine to deglaze the pan, allowing the wine to simmer for 1 minute until reduced.

Turn the heat off and add 2 to 3 tablespoons Romesco sauce, stirring in to coat the shrimp. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter to finish.

To plate, spoon potatoes on a plate, top with mustard greens, and top with shrimp.

Romesco Sauce:
Grind the almonds in a food processor until finely ground but not pureed. Add the bread, vinegar, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and paprika to the processor and grind together briefly until evenly pureed. With the motor running, add the olive oil slowly until the sauce is thickened. Taste and season with salt.

Mediterranean Tortellini

Inspired by planning our trip to the Italian Riviera

1 frozen package of spinach and cheese Buitoni tortellini
½ jar of pesto sauce
1 small tomato, chopped
1 tsp of capers
10 Kalamata olives, sliced in thirds
1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, after it’s defrosted and water squeezed out
3 oz feta cheese

Boil tortellini for about 10 minutes; drain. In the same pot used for boiling pasta, add pesto, tomato, capers, olives and spinach. Sauté and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add tortellini back to pot and toss in sauce.

Plate in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with feta cheese.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Jam Filled Shortbread Cookies

My mom always made these cookies for Christmas and I thought I'd try them with a Valentine's twist. I cut out Xs and Os and filled them with strawberry jam.

'XOXO's Valentine's Day Cookies
Makes 24 sandwich cookies

Shortbread cookies:
4 cups of flour
½ tsp salt
2 cups unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
Zest of one large lemon
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup strawberry jam (for filling)
Powdered sugar, for dusting

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about one minute. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Stir in flour and lemon zest until combined. Chill dough for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4” thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out circles from the dough. Using a smaller cookie cutter, cut smaller holes from the center of ¼ of the cookies and ‘X’s from the other ¼ of the cookies. Do not cut holes in the remaining ½ of the cookies, since those will be the bottoms of the cookie sandwiches. The cookie dough will start to become soft the more it’s handled, so you can always put the dough back in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm it back up.

Roll out chilled dough on a lightly floured surface.

Cut out dough with cookie cutter.
Bake cookies for 10 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Cool cookies on a wire rack before storing unassembled cookies in an airtight container.
Once cookies are cooled, move all cookie tops to a separate surface and dust with powdered sugar. Spread bottom cookies with jam. Place the cut out cookie tops on the jammed bottom cookie, making a sandwich.

Note: It’s best to assemble cookies the same day of serving to keep them crisp. Store unassembled cookies in an air tight container until ready to use.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Vegetable Ragout with Herbed Dumplings

Vegetable Ragout:
1 small onion, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 large yellow squash, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
1 small leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp flour
¾ cup of chicken broth

Herb Dumplings:
¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 small egg
½ cup of milk
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp chopped parsley
½ tsp chopped thyme
½ tsp chopped chives

Over medium heat, add EVOO to a large sauce pan. Add onion and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt. Pour in milk, oil, egg and herbs; mix with a fork.

Sprinkle with vegetables flour; mix to coat. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Drop in spoonfuls of dumpling dough. Simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Dumplings should rise and no longer be sticky.

Serve in a shallow bowl. I bought a rotisserie chicken and sliced the breast to serve with the dish.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grilled Chicken with Vegetable Bulgur Salad

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of bulgur (found in a Mediterranean market, international isle of grocery story, or substitue with cous cous)
2 ½ cup chicken broth
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of Kalamata olives, sliced in thirds
¼ large red bell pepper, chopped
2 green onion sprigs, chopped
1/3 cucumber, chopped
2 Tbsp minced parsley
3 oz feta cheese
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon

Cook bulgur in chicken stock, as directed on package. Drain any excess liquid; let cool.

Season chicken to your liking. I like to marinate my chicken in Italian dressing and add a few dashes of lemon pepper seasoning. Grill over med-high heat for about 6-7 minutes per side, until no longer pink in the middle.

In a large bowl, combine cooled bulgur and all the vegetables, feta cheese and lemon; mix together.

Slice grilled chicken and fan out on a plate. Drizzle with any extra juice left on cutting board. Sprinkle with extra lemon zest or parsley. Serve with vegetable bulgur salad.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vegetable and Pork Egg Rolls

Wonton wrappers
½ lb ground pork
1 Tbsp soy sauce
A couple dashes of white vinegar
A couple dashes of red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup of bean sprouts
¼ small cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
½ small onion, thinly sliced
½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Fill center of wonton wrap. Fold over bottom half to the middle.

Brush each corner with egg.
Fold in sides and then fold over the top and roll until sealed.

Rolled and ready to fry.
In a pan over med-high heat, cook pork with soy sauce, vinegar, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook until pork is no longer pink. Remove from pan. Add vegetables and a little oil; sauté until vegetables are tender. Mix the pork and vegetables together. Let cool.

Fill wonton wrappers. In a pan over med-high heat, heat about ½ inch of oil. Fry egg rolls, turning to brown each side. Cook about 2 minutes per side.

Serve with soy sauce for dipping.

Chicken Parmesan

4 thin chicken breasts
½ cup flour
1-2 eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
2 slices of Provolone cheese
Angel hair pasta
Marinara sauce

Prepare 3 dishes, one with flour, one with egg and one with bread crumbs. Coat chicken in flour, then egg and then bread crumbs.

Over med-high heat, heat ½ inch of oil in a frying pan. Fry chicken until golden brown on each side and cooked all the way through. Remove from pan to a dish with paper towels, to soak up excess oil. Top with Provolone cheese slices. Under the broiler in the over or toaster oven, melt cheese until brown and bubbly.

Prepare angel hair pasta and toss with marinara. Top with chicken parmesan.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chili Baked Potato

Combo #2 at Spuds (my made-up eatery)

2 large Russet potatoes

Shredded cheddar cheese
Minced red onions
Sour cream

Chili recipe:
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp finely chopped jalapenos
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef with onions. Add garlic and bell peppers; cook, for 2 minutes. Add jalapenos, tomatoes, beans and seasonings. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Clean potato and wrap in saran wrap. Microwave for about 6 minutes. Remove saran wrap. Peirce with fork and press both ends together to open.

Top with chili, cheese, red onions and a dollop of sour cream.