Wednesday, October 31, 2007

!Uno Mas!

Tonight for Halloween, I entertained 7 adults prior to taking our little ones trick or treating. We started off with some pico de gallo and chips, along with some Jalapeno poppers. Then for the main course we had some tortilla soup. I was inspired from my recent trip to Mexico:)

Pico De Gallo
4 tomatos chopped
juice of one lime
1/2 c cilantro
1/2 red onion
Salt and Pepper to taste

Jalapeno Poppers
5 Jalapenos halved and seeded
cream cheese
colby jack
eggs beaten
bread crumbs

Fill each jalapeno half with cream cheese and place a stick of colby on top. Dredge in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Top with a little melted butter and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Tortilla soup(vegatarian style)
Chopped carrots
Chopped onions
Chopped garlic
Chopped celery
vegetable broth
chili powder
ground corriander
salt and pepper
2 cans tomatos
1/2 cup milk

Sautee all the chopped veggies in a little oil. Add everything else...simmer for as long as you got. The key to good soups like this are the toppings: chips, avacado, lime, sour cream, cheese, and pico!!! Delicioso!

End of October

Well, it is the end of another challenge. This one seemed to really pick up steam in the last week here. Thanks for the great idea, Robin!

Just a reminder, in November, we will be cooking from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffery Alfred. I have already made my Thai Fish Sauce with Hot Chilis. It smells terrible! ;)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Autumn Salad

This is a recent Cooking Light salad I found the other day and made it with our dinner last night. I have never made a viniagrette with parika and was curious. The dressing was really good but I think it really works because of the sweet pear in the salad. I don't know if it would be as great on its own. The salad had an overall sweet-tart thing going on. Use a really ripe sweet pear if you can find one. Here is the link for the recipe . This may become my new winter standard salad.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I bet you all thought I wasn't going to submit anything. It's been a crazy month but here's my contribution.

Now I took a lot of pictures but not one does this dish justice. It's sooo good! And the sauce does get spicier the next day. It can also be used over ravioli if you like.

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Filling based on an old CL recipe:

2 cups black beans; 1 cup chopped in food processor
2-3 chopped scallions
1 chopped chipotle in adobo
1/2 cup low fat sour cream

Mix scallions, chipotle and sour cream. Stir into black beans.

("Everyday Food; May 2004)

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 jalapeno, quartered
(remove ribs and seeds for less heat, if desired)
1 tsp. chili powder
8 corn tortillas (6 inch)
Filling of choice (see note)
1-1/2 cups grated sharp white cheese(I used white cheddar and didn't measure)

Serves 4 * Prep time: 20 mins. *Total time: 1 hour

Preheat oven to 425.

In a blender, puree pumpkin, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2-1/2 cups water, 2 tsps. salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper until smooth. (Hold blender top firmly as blender will be quite full.) Pour 1 cup of the sauce into the bottom of an 8 inch square or other shallow baking dish.

Roll tortillas with filling; mound on half of the tortilla and roll up; place seam side down in baking dish.

Pour remaining sauce on top; sprinkle with cheese. Place dish on a baking sheet (I didn't need to); bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool five minutes before serving.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Butternut Squash and Sage Soup

In response to Kerri's disappointment over her soup attempt last week, my invigorated taste for a scrumptious version has risen to the top. This one was actually quite good!
Butternut Squash and Sage Soup

1 butternut squash (approx 4 lbs)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp honey
6 sage leaves or 2 Tbsp dried sage (I used fresh)
4 cups chicken stock/broth (I used real (boxed) stock this time since it matters so much here)
1 cup sour cream (omitted)
Salt and pepper to taste (1/4 - 1/2 tsp pepper)

Prick the outside of the butternut squash with a fork, place on baking pan, and roast in pre-heated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool. Slice in half, remove seeds, peel, and cut into ½ inch chunks.

In a large saucepan (soup pot), melt oil, add onion, and saut̩ until translucent. Add honey and cook until the mixture begins to bubble. Add chunks of squash, sage, salt (omitted), and pepper, and stir for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock so that squash chunks are completely submerged. Bring soup to boil, and simmer for 45 minutes Рmake sure squash remains submerged by adding water if necessary. Remove soup from heat and puree in a food processor, mixer, or blender. Ladle soup into bowls, add a dollop of sour cream (omitted), and serve. Note: We really like pepper, so we added a lot. Pepper for your own taste.

We used our china for the first time tonight, and I was so excited about taking a cool picture, but I forgot.... so I got this lame picture in the tupperware storage dish for leftovers. Hey, I'm a newbie here :)

The soup was great and we will definitely make it again. And healthy too!! DH is a fan and that counts for something.

Ooooo, SALAD!!!

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I finally made my salad course Friday, and actually had company over to eat it. That was the first time that has happened for this "company" challenge.

This salad is based on one we had a Maguire's in Dallas. I'll call it...

Fall Apple Salad - 4 servings

4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
4 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients except olive oil and stir with whisk. Gradually, stream in olive oil. (I don't like a lot of dressing.)

~6 cups red leaf lettuce (it just makes this salad look really fall-ish. Any other kind of lettuce is fine)
blue cheese crumbles
red onion, sliced
1/2 granny smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
pecans (see note)

Combine lettuce with most of dressing. Add more dressing, or lettuce, if needed. Arrange lettuce onto 4 plates. Top with apples, blue cheese, and red onion. Oh, and pecans. See note.

Note: The Maguire's salad uses candied pecans. It was my intent to make some, but I just ended up toasting mine. Then, I forgot to put them on my salad. Oh, bother!!

Seafood and Saffron Tagliatelle

This is a recipe that we have been trying to get to for a month and found some time today. I'll post the recipe as it is written and then tell you what I did for two. This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver's cookbook, The Naked Chef Takes Off.

Serves 4
a good pinch of saffron
1 glass of dry white wine
1 lb. tagliatelle pasta
olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1.5 lb. mixed seafood (fish, scallops, clams, bearded mussels, shrimp, squid)
1 1/3 c. cream
salt and pepper
for garnish only: fennel fronds, parsley or dill

Soak the saffron in the white wine. Cook the tagliatelle in salted boiling water until al dente. Add a little olive oil and the garlic to a frying pan and cook until softened. Add clams and mussels, shake pan around and add white wine/saffron mixture. Bring to a boil, and discard any shellfish that remain closed. Then add rest of seafood and the cream. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, season to taste, add the drained tagliatelle and serve scattered with a few of the garnish suggestions.

This was a fabulous tasting dish. I would like to try it again with actual fresh seafood. We used a good-quality frozen "frutti di mare" (fruits of the sea) mixture (thawed - 1/2lb.) and didn't deal with tracking down good shellfish. I used 250 g. of tagliatelle (roughly 1/2lb.) and only 1/2 c. cream along with a couple spoons of the pasta cooking water. Also, I took the pasta out of the boiling water when there was 2 minutes left on the manufacturers instructions and tossed it with the saffron cream mixture, put a lid on it and let it soak up the broth for the remainder of the cooking time and the pasta came out perfect.

Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner

You may (or may not) have noticed my lack of posting this month. Travel and being a new cook don't go well together. I thought I would make up for it by preparing Turkey and Stuffing. This is the 2nd time I've made this Rachael Ray recipe and it is heavenly. Super fast, super yummy. I'll write my "modified" version below.

Turkey Cutlets with Corn, Sage and Prosciutto Stuffing

2 pounds turkey breast cutlets (2 packages, 12 pieces) I used 6 pieces, 1.5 pounds
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
4 sprigs fresh sage (2 tablespoons) chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, eyeball it
1/4 pound prosciutto, deli sliced like bacon, then chopped
3-4 corn muffins, crumbled (I made them earlier in the day; make sure it's the non-sweet type)
1 cup chicken stock or broth or canned turkey broth

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Season turkey with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Brown the turkey filets, remove to a plate.

To a second skillet over medium high heat, add oil. Add celery and onions and season with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning. Saute 5 minutes until just tender, add sage, parsley, prosciutto and stir to combine. Crumble muffins into the pan. Moisten stuffing with broth and heat through.

We are about to eat leftovers for lunch and we've been drooling for an hour already. Frankly, it's about as good as the "Mad at your mom meatloaf" in our book and will be making it often. (I'm making the meatloaf tomorrow...)

Did I mention how extraordinarily healthy it is? Of course, it's me writing! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What kind of soup is this?

Ever since this month's challenge has been announced, I knew I wanted to make some sort of butternut squash soup. I had to wait until the last week because it has just been too freaking hot. Tuesday started off rainy and foggy so I went ahead with plans to make this soup. I found a recipe for Winter Squash Soup in my Barefoot in Paris library book that sounded exactly what I was looking for.

To start off, I sauteed 2 cups of onions in 1T butter and 1T olive oil for 10 minutes. I added 1 cracked garlic clove about 5 minutes in. Then I added 1 can pumpkin, 1-1/2 pounds cubed butternut squash, 3 cups chicken broth, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 2 tsp salt and simmered for 20 minutes. I allowed this too cool. Oh, okay, my son woke up from his nap and it was a couple of hours before I could get back to it. I processed it in a food processor, put it back in the soup pot and added 1 cup half and half and 1 tsp sage and heated back up. To serve, I sprinkled a little Gruyere cheese on top.

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So, I put this in front of my husband for dinner and he wrinkled his nose and asked "what kind of soup is this?" He ended up saying it was better than he thought, but still pushed it away halfway through saying he just wasn't into it. I thought the soup turned out pretty ok, but I feel like I would have liked some other flavors in it to give it some depth. Unfortunately, I was planning on having leftovers tonight, but I hope to serve it with my salad course, so maybe that will be better.

Fish in Red Curry Sauce - Main Course

This would be quite a risky main course for a dinner party. But, we were so impressed by our presentation that I knew I had to share it. I actually went out and bought better dinner plates for picture taking ... is this getting pathetic? This recipe comes from Kerri's Greatest Hits and we have made it several times. This curry sauce is really good ... restaraunt quality. It's such a rich sauce and goes perfectly with a light fish. The only thing I've added to the original recipe is some extra veggies.

1 t. oil
2 t. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 handfuls green beans, trimmed
1 c. chopped green onions
1 t. curry powder
2 t. red curry paste
1/2 t. ground cumin
4 t. soy sauce
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. salt, divided
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk (can use light coconut milk if you want)
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
4 firm white fish filets (such as tilapia)

hot cooked basmati rice for serving

Preheat broiler.
Heat 1/2 t. oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onion; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 t. salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Add zucchini and green beans and cook slowly until vegetables are tender, 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Brush fish with 1/2 t. oil; sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice and lime wedges.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cheese Tortellini Soup - Another first course

We've made this soup about a billion times and again last night. It was a cover recipe from Bon Appetit magazine. I thought I would share it since it is so popular with us. I'm usually good about being able to cut down soups to about 4 servings but this one just makes a lot. I would say 6-8 first course servings.

2 T. olive oil
12 oz. fully cooked, smoked kielbasa, thinly sliced
1 onion (or leek), chopped
1 c. fresh fennel, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T. chopped fresh thyme (but I just use about 1/2 t. dried)
1/2 t. dried crushed red pepper
10 c. low-salt chicken broth (I use bouillon)
1/2 bunch of chopped kale (I have subbed spinach or cabbage ... basically something green)
1 (15 oz) can canellini beans, rinsed, drained
1 (9 oz) pkg. cheese tortellini
grated parmesan, for serving

Heat oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add next 6 ingredients and saute until vegetables are soft and kielbasa is brown, about 12-15 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in kale (or cabbage) and beans. Reduce heat to low and summer until greens are wilted, about 4 minutes. Add tortellini to soup. Simmer until pasta is just tender, about 5 minutes. Serve with fresh parmesan.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hot Brie Kisses with Homemade Red Pepper Jelly

We really aren't appetizer people. When we go out, we usually order salads instead. Yes, that is a little boring, but we have had some great salads. :) So when I think about appetizers to use at home, I really have a specific thing in mind: finger food, not a dip, and not hard to make. Oh, and not seafood. I went way over my seafood quota last week. This really doesn't leave a whole lot for appetizers. I pulled out one from the first CLBB cookbook that I have made once before. The original author says she uses apricot preserves instead of the pepper jelly, but inasmuch as I have a bounty of hot peppers, I decided to make homemade hot pepper jelly as well.

It has been a busy week!

Hot Brie Kisses

- Thaw store bought puff pastry according to package directions.
- Unfold carefully.
- Cut into 16-18 squares.
- Put each square into the cup in a muffin tin.
- Place a 1/2" piece of brie cheese on pastry followed with 1/4 tsp of hot pepper jelly.
- Fold up pastry around cheese and jelly.
- Bake at 400 for 10 minutes

Truth be told, I only made 6 and froze the rest unbaked in the muffin tin. I will take them out frozen and put in a plastic bag, then just bake them when an appetizer emergency arises. I don't think you are suppose to do this but I have done it before with good results.

This isn't the best picture, but here they are:
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The jelly was easy, but hard at the same time. I think I was just stressed about the canning, but thankfully, I heard the popping of the jars sealing after I was done. I guess that whole physics thing works! The best part is that I have 8 extra jars for Christmas presents this year. Woo-hoo! When you open the jar, it just smells incredible. The jelly did not end up too spicy, but it is a little sweet in my opinion. I would use less sugar next time.

Red Pepper Jelly - from CLBB

20 hot red peppers
4 red bell peppers
2 cups white vinegar
10 cups sugar
2 bags liquid pectin

- Remove seeds of peppers and chop fine in a food processor.
- Combine vinegar and sugar in pot and bring to a boil.
- Add peppers and boil for 10 minutes.
- Add pectin.
- Boil 1 more minute
- Ladle into clean hot jars.
- Put jars in pot and cover with water.
- Boil for 5 minutes.
- Allow to cool on flat surface. As they cool you should hear a pop sound. Yield. 8-8oz jars and 2-12oz jars.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


That's right, I said CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES!!!!!

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I was at the library browsing cookbooks and came across Barefoot in Paris. I actually was hoping to find some interesting appetizer recipes (I am drawing a blank for appetizers). After I got this book home, I came across this recipe for truffles and decided to give it a try. It certainly didn't look like it would be as difficult to make as you might think.

My changes: I used 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate and 3 oz unsweetened chocolate. Hey, the unsweetened was on sale! I do enjoy me some dark chocolate and I think this was right on the border of being too bitter. It may not work for some people and I would recommend sticking with the recipe on this one. I used Frangelico in place of the Grand Marnier.

I poured hot cream over the chocolate to melt it, which worked pretty well. The mixture was a little grainy, so I thought maybe it should be heated up to melt a little more. I put the bowl over hot water, but really, it just kept getting worse. I really thought it was over at this point...but went ahead and added the remainder of the ingredients and it smoothed out.

It was really hard to roll the balls without getting the chocolate too warm. I wish I could have done better, but not really sure how to make them better looking. The recipe says to roll them in cocoa, then in powdered sugar, but I would recommend just sifting the powdered sugar on the truffles. I think it would the presentation would be better.

This ended up being pretty easy, and although it was time consuming, the individual steps didn't take all that long. I would definitely make this again for company. I could see it working well when a cake would just be too much...a chocolate truffle (or two) would be a great little sweet to serve with coffee or port at the end of a heavy meal.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Easy Cheesy Fondue

Okay, so this is a delicious and easy fondue recipe. Company loves it because of the fun of the fondue pot!! Rachel Ray's recipe is one of only a few I have tried. For dipping, I steamed some baby carrots, broccoli and mushroom. I included some apple and bread. The recipe calls for potatoes, but at 9 o'clock...I just didn't feel like making them. I also forgot to get some amazing bread, I just used some store bought wheat. This is great as an appetizer, but Brian and I just ate it for dinner!

Fifteen Brownies

I haven't had a lot of luck on good outcomes with desserts this month. Appetizers and desserts are clearly my weakest areas. Last week I made an apple-pear crisp with all of the wonderful autumn fruit around at the local markets, but unfortunately, used a Cooking Light recipe (some things you just shouldn't skimp on). This got really good reviews online but I thought it was way too "molasses-y". We tried to redeem ourselves by making full fat brownies from scratch this weekend and had another less than stellar result. I think our poor result was the fact that we used too small of a baking pan so I'm posting this recipe in hopes that someone will try it and report wonderful results.

This recipe is from Jamie Oliver's Cooking with Jamie. He says these brownies are on the menu at his restaurant, Fifteen, in London.

250 g/9 oz. unsalted butter
200 g/7 oz. best-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa),
broken up
150 g/ 5.5 oz. chopped nuts
80 g/2 3/4 oz. cocoa powder, sifted
65 g/2 1/4 oz. plain flour, sifted
1 t. baking powder
350 g/12.5 oz. superfine sugar
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a 12" rectangular
baking tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl
over some simmering water, melt the butter and the
chocolate and mix until smooth. Add nuts, if you're
using them, and stir together. In a seperate bowl,
mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder
and sugar, then add this to the chocolate mixture.
Stir together well. Beat the eggs and mix in until
you have a silky consistency.

Pour your brownie mix into the baking tray, and place
in the oven for around 25 minutes. you don't want to
overcook them so, unlike cakes, you don't want a
skewer to come out all clean. The brownies should be
slightly springy on the outside but still gooey in the
middle. Allow to cool in the tray, then carefully
transfer to a large chopping board and cut into chunky

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Shrimp Appetizers

I decided to make a couple of new appetizers the other night, both featuring shrimp. We actually had some neighbors over to taste test these with us.

The first appetizer is one from Cooking Light that was featured in a tapas section, Shrimp filled Piquillo Peppers with Sherry Viniagrette. We all agreed this one was the better tasting appetizer and it actually was simpler to prepare.

The second is one I had copied down a long time ago from a Pampered Chef magazine. This took a lot more time to prepare since it has a little bit of everything in it. I was curious because you bake the shrimp cakes instead of frying them ... but really it turned out to be a less than stellar shrimp cake.

Coconut Shrimp Cakes
1 c. sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted
8 oz. peeled, deveined, cooked shrimp, finely chopped
1 T. peeled finely chopped gingerroot
1/4 c. thinly sliced green onion tops
1/4 c. finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 c. grated carrot
1 T. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 c. mayo
1 egg
2 t. rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/3 c. dry breadcrumbs
1/4 t. cayenne pepper (ground)

Preheat oven to 375. Prep shrimp through lemon. In a bowl, combine, shrimp through garlic. Mix well. Combine breadcrumbs and cayenne, mix well. Add bread crumbs to shrimp mixture. Mix well. Sprinkle half of cocout onto cutting board, forming 8" square. Form 16 equal mounds onto coconut layer. Sprinkle shrimp cakes with remaining coconut. Flatten cakes slightly with a spatula and place on a baking stone. Bake 18-20 min or until coconut is golden brown. Serve with sauce below.

Thai Red Curry Sauce
Combine 1/2 c. mayo, 2 T. chopped cilantro, 2 t. lime juice and 1/2 t. thai red curry paste.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Broiled Salmon Over Parmesan Grits

I am sorry to do another main dish, but some of these are so easy. Maybe it is because if you are having company over, you splurge a little on what you are having (salmon, veal, etc) and the higher quality stuff really doesn't need a whole lot of attention.

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Last night I made Broiled Salmon Over Parmesan Grits. Salmon is my fish of choice from the grocery store because it usually is in pretty good shape. Broiling the fish gives it a nice crust and the seasoning seem kind of basic, but that is all you need. The real star are the grits. I love the mushrooms and I think that helps make the dish more elegant. I used 3/4 cup of polenta instead of 1/2 cup of really ends up being too runny for my taste otherwise.

I know in the picture that piece looks huge, but in my defense, my son had a couple bites of salmon...woo-hoo!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Veal Marsala

Sooo...when I have company, I like to make something simple. I like to be out of the kitchen asap. That doesn't always happen, but in theory this is a GREAT and simple meal that will impress!! I made it in 23 minutes... no really...I did!!
For 2 people...
1/2 lb Veal scallopini
1 thing of mushrooms sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cup Marsala
1 bundle of asparagus
juice of lemon quarter
Salt, pepper, and butter/olive oil

Flour, salt and pepper the veal. Saute the mushrooms in some butter, then store in a bowl. Saute the veal for 2 minutes a side adding pressed garlic on second side and place on top of mushrooms. Don't over cook the veal. It will have more time to heat through as the sauce thickens. De glaze the pan with the Marsala and add the veal and mushrooms to simmer. If the sauce isn't thick enough from the flour on the veal (mine wasn't), then add some diluted cornstarch. DONE!

Before I began, I put some asparagus tips in the over at 425 that were covered in EVOO, salt, pepper, lemon, and garlic for the 20 minutes it took to make the veal!

Note the ghost feet prints that C made at school today. Also, we use Marsala...not Marsala cooking wine. You can find it at liquor stores, but now a days I find it at my local grocery store. My camara is horrible, but here is a blurry image of a REAL bottle of Marsala!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Desserts! Apple Crisp

One of my favorite desserts for the fall is an apple crisp. I have made it for many a dinner party and it always gets really good reviews. I am going to go ahead and say that I like it better than pie. It is certainly easier to make than pie, and more fun to play around with. I have three recipes that I work off of, and the final product depends on what I have around and what I feel like. Here is tonight's version:
- Peel and slice ~7 cups of apples, cut slices in half (I used a variety apples from North Carolina...not sure the kinds, they weren't labeled).
- Mix apples with 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/3 cup Amaretto. Put apple mixture in 8x8 pan coated with cooking spray.
- Combine 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup AP flour, 1/4 cup oats, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/3 cup butter (cut into small cubes) in a bowl. Mix well with your fingers until crumbly. You can use 2 knives or a pastry blender, but I like my fingers. Add 3T chopped walnuts
- Sprinkle flour mixture over apple mixture.
- Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
- Serve warm with Breyer's vanilla ice cream.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Surf and turf!

Again, I am sorry that I am not good at using recipes. I am the consummate younger sibling...ask anyone. Brian and I will not be together for 3 nights, so I wanted to make him something special. I got out our China!! I choose a rib eye and bacon wrapped scallops with a lemon butter creme sauce(c/o my sis). Brian also loves these green beans.

I marinated the steak in pepper, olive oil, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire, and soy sauce. BUT, just a small about. I salt and peppered the sea scallops, then wrapped them in bacon. I grilled the steak for 8 minutes a side and the scallops for 2-3 minutes a side.

Before I put the scallops on I sauteed 2 tbsp of butter in TWO pans. One for the sauce and one for the tiny bay scallops(compare and contrast with the sea scallops). I added two tbsp flour to the butter and a cup of chicken stock. Then added 1/4 cup cream to make it creamy and the juice of one lemon!! The bay scallops just took 5 minutes to saute.

About 1 hour before I put the steaks on the grill, I threw a chopped onion, a couple pounds of fresh green beans and 3 pieces of chopped bacon in a pan with a little evoo, salt and pepper. When I was ready to serve everything, I sprinkled the beans with 2 tsp sugar and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar.

The dinner was delicious!!! Something about the bacon wrappedness of the scallops is great!! I could take or leave the tiny bay scallops...I didn't even post a pic. The lemon butter creme sauce was GREAT as well!! Thank you kerri!

Major Points Fall Feast

Apples - ding
Sage - ding
Winter Squash (pumpkin) - ding

I racked up the extra credit points with this main dish. These recipes are featured in the later editions of Kerri's Greatest Hits cookbook, but truth be told, I have only made them once before. This is great for a fall dinner. To start off:

Maple-Mustard Pork Tenderloin With Caramelized Apples

2 (1/2 lb) pork tenderloin
Cooking Spray
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
6 T maple syrup, divided
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 medium Granny Smith Apples (you granny smith haters could probably use braeburns), peeled and each cut into 16 wedges

Preheat Oven to 425.

Trim fat from pork. Place pork on broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Combine mustard, 2 T syrup, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Brush over pork. Insert meat thermometer into thickest park of pork. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes (um, or more) until thermometer registers 160.

While pork is baking, heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add apples, and saute 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reduce heat to low and add 4 T of maple syrup. Simmer 10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Cut pork crosswise into slices; spoon apples over pork.

*I thought this one was pretty good. I love the flavor of the pork. The apples ended up way to sweet, I would just saute them in some butter, maybe add some apple juice to the pan. Very impressive presentation.

My sides were steamed green beans and pumpkin-sage polenta. The pumpkin gives this a really neat color, but you can't really taste it. I loved the hint of sage mixed in.

Sorry there are no pictures. I arranged everything neatly, held my camera up, and poof, battery died. I hate that!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Chicken with Saffron Rice - Main Course

Another hit from the Jacques Pepin Cooking with Claudine cookbook. I'll mention a couple of things, this took about an hour total to cook but a lot of the actual cooking was hands off cooking, which is nice with a toddler running around. I would make this again, it has a really impressive presentation. Make sure you cook it in a pan with an equal sized lid. I didn't do this and kept having to add water to get my rice and chicken to cook properly, since steam was escaping. This dish was actually featured as part of a four course menu along with the soup I posted earlier.

Chicken with Saffron Rice - 4 servings
4 large chicken legs (if you read farther into the recipe he means 4 leg/thigh pieces)
1 T. virgin olive oil
3 med. onions (about 1 lb), peeled and sliced thin ... I thought this was a little excessive and only used 1
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped (2 T)
1 1/2 c. arborio rice (risotto rice)
3 bay leaves
1 c. peeled and diced tomato (I used canned tomatoes with the juice)
1 1/2 c. mixture of green olives, capers, and red pepper (sometimes this is combo is sold as alcaparrado)
1 1/2 T. chopped jalapeno pepper
1 t. salt
1 t. saffron pistils
2 1/2 c. water
tabasco sauce, to taste

Remove the skin from the chicken. Cut the legs in half at the joint so that you have 4 drumsticks and 4 thighs. Heat the oil until hot in a large skillet ( I found a cast iron pan to work really well). Add chicken pieces in one layer and saute over med-hi heat, turning occassionally, for 10 minutes, until they are browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to the drippings in the skillet and cook them for 2 minutes. Add the rice, and mix well. Stir in bay leaves, tomato, alcaparrado, jalapeno, salt and saffron. Add the water and mix well.

Return the browned chicken to the skillet, pushing them down into the liquid and rice until they are imbedded in the mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook gently for 30 minutes without stirring. Remove bay leaves before serving.

To serve, place 2 pieces chicken and some rice on each of four dinner plates. If desired, add Tabasco to taste.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A couple of first courses to start things off

I couldn't decide between a couple of first course recipes I hadn't tried yet and made them both for our dinner yesterday evening. We had a soup and salad combo meal but either recipe would make an impressive first course and both came together relatively quickly, other than having to remember to soak my dried beans. Both recipes are from Jaques Pepin's Cooking with Claudine cookbook and both recipes I halved.

Cream of Turnip and Sweet Potato Soup with Leek Julienne - 4 servings

For the Soup:
3/4 lb. purple topped turnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 sweet potato (8 oz) , peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
6 oz. white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 1/2 c. light chicken, beef, or pork stock - unsalted (I used veggie bouillion and skipped the salt below)
1 t. salt, or to taste

For the Leek Garnish:
1 small leek
1 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. water

1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. light cream

Place the turnip, sweet potato, and white potato in a pot with the stock and salt (if you are not using bouillion). Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook gently for 45 minutes or until veggies are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile prepare the leek garnish. Slice the leek in half (discard the fibrous green tops) and clean thoroughly (leeks hold a lot of dirt so you have to clean in between the layers). Slice into very think strips (julienne). Place the leek strips in a saucepan with the butter and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 10-12 min, until tender. Set aside in any remaining cooking liquid.

When the veggies in the soup are tender, process it in a food processor or with a handheld immersion blender until emulsified into a smooth texture. Add the black pepper, cream, and julienned leek mixture. Reheat the soup if needed and add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Cranberry Bean and Tuna Salad - 4 servings

1 lb. dried cranberry beans, soaked for 8 hours
1 bay leaf
1 med. onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 t. salt
1 t. herbs de provence
1 1/2 c. cool water
2 cans, tuna in water (6 oz each)
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 c. minced parsley ( I would maybe use a little less next time ... had a strong parsley flavor)
3/4 t. fresh ground pepper
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. dijon mustard
8-10 lettuce leaves, preferably from a Boston leaf lettuce head

Place the beans, bay leaf, onion, salt, and herbs de provence and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the head to very low and cook gently for 45-60 minutes, until the beans are tender ... I had to use a little more water halfway through the cooking time. Cool the mixture to lukewarm. At this point most of the liquid will have been absorbed by the beans.

Place the tuna, including its water in a salad bowl. Add the garlic, parsley, pepper, oil and mustard and mix well, breaking tuna into small pieces. Add the beans, discarding some of the liquid if it is excessive and toss gently to mix all the ingredients together. The mixture should be moist but not liquid.

Divide lettuce leaves among 4 plates and spoon bean mixture onto the leaves. Serve at room temp as a first course.