Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ham Barley Soup

I made this soup over the weekend for family and we ate it for lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches. The soup can be made ahead of time just don't add the green beans until right before serving or they will be overcooked.

1 meaty ham bone
1 tsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 small garlic cloved, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup pearled barley
1 1/2 cup fresh green beans, trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Place ham bone in large pot and fill almost to cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in small saute pan and add carrots, onions, and garlic. Saute about 5-10 minutes until onions are transulcent.

Take hambone out of water and take meat off bone and chop into bite size pieces. Return meat to soup. Add carrots, onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, oregano and barley. Bring back to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until barley is cooked, about 1 hour. Add green beans and cook 15 minutes.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lasagne Bolognese

During the layering process (above)... and the final product (below)

I love spinach noodles so this recipe I had to try! It is not a traditional lasagne with ricotta and red sauce but a white sauce with a little bit of Parmesan cheese. It is the second time I made it and I still love it. It requires more attention that a typical weeknight dinner so make sure you have a lot of time when you do it. I served it with a salad and garlic bread.

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 pound veal, ground
1 pound pork, ground
4 ounces prosciutto, cut into small pieces
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup milk
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 pound fresh spinach pasta sheets, cut into long strips (or dried lasagne noodles blanched for 6 minutes and refreshed)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a large heavy-bottom saucepan, heat olive oil and butter until butter is melted. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and sweat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are translucent. Increase heat and add veal, pork, and prosciutto to the vegetables, and brown over high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up any lumps. Add the tomato paste, milk, and wine, and simmer uncovered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid has evaporated but ragu is still moist – about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour, and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, about 2 minutes. Do not allow the flour to become colored. Remove from heat. While flour is cooking heat the milk in a separate pan until it is just about to boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture, no more than a few tablespoons at a time. Stir steadily and thoroughly. As soon as the first 2 T. of milk have been incorporated add 2 more, and continue to stir. Repeat this procedure until you have added ½ cup milk; you can now add the rest of the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking continuously until the sauce is very smooth. Place the pan over low heat, add the salt, and cook, stirring without interruption, until the sauce is as dense as thick cream. Remove from the heat and season with nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with melted butter or oil, and layer in the following order from the bottom: béchamel, pasta, ragù, béchamel, and grated cheese (saving about 1 cup béchamel for last topping), making 5 layers of pasta, finishing with béchamel, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan sprinkled over the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 20 minutes, slice, and serve.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pesto Tofu Pasta

This is definitely a quick meal for one of those busy nights. I love pesto and it is really easy to make plus it freezes well too!

1 box penne noodles
1 container firm or extra firm tofu
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
3 medium sized garlic cloves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Drain water from tofu package and place on paper towel to dry it off a bit. Cut into cubes. In a small saute pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil. Place tofu in saute pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package. Meanwhile place basil and walnuts in a small food processor. (If the walnuts are not chopped, pulse them a few times before you add the basil.) Add the garlic and pulse a few more times. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Scrap down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse until blended. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. (If you want to freeze it, don't add the cheese... it doesn't freeze well. Once you defrost it, add in the grated cheese.)

Once pasta is done cooking and still hot, add some of the pesto and the tofu. Mix well. Sprinkle with some extra parmesan and serve.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

White Bean and Butternut Squash Soup with Polenta Sticks

Tonight's dinner was all about the sage! I made a simple meal of soup and sticks. This is a very basic soup recipe but still good. I would use an immersion blender and blend some of it next time I make it so it would be a little bit thicker. And the polenta sticks would make a great appetizer (they make a lot).

White Bean and Butternut Squash Soup
1 cup dried white beans (I used great northern beans)
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
6 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp salt

Soak beans overnight (or do the quick soak method- put beans in saucepan and fill 2 inches above beans with water. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover, let sit for an hour.)
Drain beans and put in saucepan with chicken broth and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the beans are tender. (About 45 minutes). Season with 1/2 tsp salt.

Heat olive oil in saucepan. Add onions, sage leaves and bay leaf. Cook over medium heat until tender, and slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Stir in butternut squash and remaining 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 5 minutes.

Drain the beans but save 6 cups of their cooking liquid to the squash and onion. Cook at a simmer until the squash starts to become tender (about 20 minutes). Add the beans and cook until the squash is very soft. At this point, I would pulse a few times with the immersion blender for a thicker soup. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Parmesan Sage Polenta Sticks
4 cups water
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp minced fresh sage leaves
1 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup parmesan cheese

Butter a 13x9 inch baking dish. In a large saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Add sage and 1/3 cup cornmeal, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and add remaining cornmeal in a slow stream, stirring constantly. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring with a whisk, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add 2 tbsp butter and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. Stir until butter is incorporated. Working quickly, spread polenta into the prepared baking dish and chill until firm, about 20 minutes. (At this point, polenta can be covered and stored in the fridge to finish the next day).

Preheat broiler. Melt remaining 1 tbsp butter. Cut polenta into sticks and arrange on baking sheet. Brush sticks with butter and broil about 4 inches from heat until golden, about 6-8 minutes. (Watch them). Turn sticks over with tongs and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Broil until cheese is golden, about 2 minutes more.

Marble Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Without the glaze

With the glaze (with some eaten so you can see the marbling of the cake)

I had some extra buttermilk in the fridge that I needed to use up so I made this marble cake with the remaining buttermilk. We might have had some for breakfast this morning (shhh) before I got a chance to make the chocolate glaze and it was still delicious... it was like a breakfast cake...who said you can't have cake for breakfast, right??!! But my point is, with or without the glaze, still tastes great!

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp boiling water

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x5 loaf pan. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside

In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour. Set aside on-third of the batter.

In a bowl, mix the cocoa and the boiling water with a rubber spatula until smooth. Ad the cocoa mixture to the reserved cake batter and stir until combined.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan in two layers, alternating spoonfuls of vanilla and chocolate batter to simulate a checkerboard. To create the marble effect, run a table knife or wooden skewer through the batters in a swirling motion. (Don't overdo it!)

Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until a cake tester comes out clean about 40-50 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then turn cake out of pan and let cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze
3/4 confectioners' sugar (sifted if there is a lot of large chunks)
2 tbsp milk
2 1/4 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

In a small bow, whisk together confectioners' sugar and milk. The mixture should have the consistency of thin sour cream. Add the melted chocolate and whisk until glaze is smooth. If it is too thin, add more sugar, if it is too thick ad more milk. Use immediately. Pour glaze over cake letting it drip down the sides. (I always do this while it is still on the cooling rack and put paper towels underneath so it doesn't drip all over the counter.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Vegetable Chicken Parmesean

Here is a picture of my grill pan in the midst of grilling the eggplant and fennel.

I made this vegetable parmesan dish and added sauted chicken breast underneath it. The vegetables parmesan was delicious!! And the chicken was the perfect addition.

Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 fennel bulb, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 orange pepper, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 jar marinara sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup plain bread crumbs
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken, pounded thin

Put a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish.

Brush eggplant slices, fennel slices and peppers with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables for 3 to 4 minutes each side until softened.

Spoon 3/4 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange the eggplant slices on top. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange the peppers in a single layer on top. Spoon 3/4 cup of marinara sauce over the peppers. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange the fennel on top and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Scatter the bread crumbs over the cheese and drizzle liberally with oil. Bake until the top is golden and forms a crust, about 30 to 35 minutes

While the vegetables are cooking in the oven, heat 1 tsp olive oil in the same grill pan you used to cook the vegetables. Sprinkle chicken with kosher salt and pepper. Saute the chicken in the pan until cooked through. Keep warm until vegetable parm is done.

Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve a piece of chicken with vegetable parm on top.

Note: The vegetables can also be baked in a 375 degrees F oven for 15 to 20 minutes until softened.

This recipe was adapted from Giada's Vegetable Parmesan recipe on .

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Meatball Sandwiches and Cucumber & Red Pepper Salad

Tonight I served this dinner for some close friends. They loved it! The meatballs could also be accompanied by pasta if you want to do it that way. However if you do serve a meatball sandwich make sure you have good rolls... they are key. (If you live local, I got mine at Carlinos).

1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (Whenever I have day old bread that I know we won't eat I put into food processor and make bread crumbs with it. Then put in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for the next time I need fresh bread crumbs. They last forever.)
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs ( I didn't have these so I just added dry bread crumbs with a dash of oregano and garlic powder).
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 extra large egg (I used a large egg and it was fine)
Canola oil
Olive oil

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

For Serving:
Provolone Cheese
Fresh Rolls

Place ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of canola oil and olive oil in a large skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat. Turn them carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes and make sure you don't crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil when finished but don't clean the pan.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute for about 5-10 minutes until it is translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan. Cook until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover and simmer on low for 25-30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with provolone cheese on good rolls.

Cucumber and Red Pepper Salad
2 red peppers
3 plum tomatoes
1 cucumber
1/2 a small red onion
6 oz. feta cheese, cut into bite size pieces

3 tbsp red (or wine) wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, cut into pieces
1 shallot , cut into pieces
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme (if you have fresh use 1/2 tsp)
1 large fresh basil leaf
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

Combine the vinegar, garlic, shallot, mustard, oregano, thyme and basil in a small food processor. Then add olive oil thru the top and process until it all comes together. Add the salt and pepper and set aside.

Cut the peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes into large chunks (3/4 inch pieces). Cut the onion into very thin slices. Toss vegetables with dressing. Then add the feta cheese and toss again.

The meatball recipe is Barefoot Contessa and the salad recipe is adapted from a cooking class.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Soft Pretzel Bites

I made these this afternoon to take to a playgroup. The whole plate was gone so I think they were a hit! The kids kept walking by the table and popping them in their mouth! You could make them into actual pretzel shapes but for the kids it was easier to make them bite size.

1 package dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 tsp salt
cooking spray
6 cups water
2 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp cornmeal
1 tsp water
1 large egg
2 tsp kosher salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water in a large bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine 3 cups flour, 1 tsp salt and the yeast mixture in a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Mix until soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Add enough of remaining flour, 1 tbsp at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil or cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down, cover and let rest 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425. Combine 6 cups water and baking soda in a nonaluminum Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer. Meanwhile, pull off a small portion of the dough and roll into a rope. Cut rope into 1 inch pieces or roll into desired pretzel shape. Cover while you continue to make the rest of the pretzels. Gently lower the pretzel pieces in batches into the simmering water mixture, cook 15 seconds. Turn pretzels over with a slotted spoon and cook another 15 seconds. Transfer pretzel to a wire rack coated with cooking spray and repeat procedure with remaining pretzels.

Place pretzels on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Combine 1 tsp water and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Brush a thin layer over the pretzels and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 425 for 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Coconut Chicken, Roasted Carrots and Spinach

I love coconut so I love this chicken dish. My whole family likes it because it has a lot of flavor. My husband and I had a side salad along with our dinner. Also, I started with frozen spinach that I doctored up a bit. I didn't have time to thaw it so it was a little watery but still had a lot of flavor. If you have time, thaw the spinach and squeeze out the excess water before you cook it.

Coconut Chicken (from Cooking Light)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 (14 ounce) can light coconut milk
4 chicken thighs, skinned
4 chicken drumsticks, skinned
3/4 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
cooking spray

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 1/2 hours, turning bag occasionally. Preheat oven to 400.

Combine panko, coconut, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Dredge chicken, one at a time, in panko mixture. Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes then carefully turn chicken over with tongs. Bake an additional 20-3o minutes until it is done.

Carrots, cut into sticks
Olive oil
Kosher salt

Place carrots on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I put them in the oven with the chicken after I flipped it and they were done after the second 30 minutes of cooking.

1 tbsp shallot
1 garlic clove
1/2 bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (if you have a bigger family, make the whole bag)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tbsp parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add milk and stir until warmed but not boiling. Add spinach, salt and pepper. Cook 5-10 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese and serve hot.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Turkey, Rice, Bean Bowl

This is healthy and super easy. You can also vary the ingredients depending on what you have in the kitchen. Any type of beans will work and it also could be made with a different type of ground meat. To spice it up (if you don't have kids) you can use a can of Ro-tel instead of just plain diced tomatoes. And one more thing.... I have a special way to cook rice that doesn't make it stick to the pan and it is never overcooked.

1 pound ground turkey
1 cup brown rice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or whatever you have around)

Cooking rice:
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. When water is boiling, add rice and cover, adjust heat so it is still boiling but not overflowing the pan. Set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, drain rice and put back in saucepan and cover. Let sit and steam with top on saucepan for about 10 minutes. And rice is done!

In large saute pan add olive oil and put on medium high heat. Add ground turkey cook until no longer see pink. Add pinch of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add can of tomatoes and black beans, mix well, and reduce temperature to low. Add rice when it is finished cooking. Sprinkle with cheese and put top on pan until cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chicken Thighs with Quinoa and Leeks

This is an easy and healthy one pot meal. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a grain with the highest content of protein. It is packed with all 9 essential amino acids, a great source of fiber, iron and magnesium. For an extra kick in this dish, Ben always puts hot sauce on it, but it is perfectly delicious without it too!

6 skinless chicken thighs, either boneless or bone-in (whatever you prefer or have on hand)
1 cup quinoa (always rinse quinoa before cooking it through a fine mesh strainer)
2 cups chicken broth (again I use my concentrated broth ... see side note on blog)
1 cup leeks (typically they come in bunches of 2 or 3 and I use them all, however this time they were really big so I only used 1)
1 handful grape tomatoes, sliced in half

Cut leeks in half lengthwise and then chop into 1/2 inch pieces (using only the light green and white part of the leeks). Put leeks in a bowl of water. (Leeks are grown in sand so this is the only way to really wash them and get rid of the sand. When you are ready to cook them, swish them around in the water and take them out lightly shaking off the excess water. When you are done taking the leeks out you will see all the sand at the bottom of the water).

In a large saute pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken with kosher salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan and brown both sides, about 8-10 minutes. Add leeks and saute another 5 minutes. Add quinoa and chicken broth to pan. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, cover again and let sit for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

And, dessert.. my favorite! This recipes comes from

3 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature (if you forget to take them out, put them in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes to take the cold edge off them)
6 tbsp red food coloring
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
Vanilla Icing (I cheated and used store bought, but you could definitely make your own if you have time!)
Valentine's Day sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350. Fill muffin tins with paper liners ( I have a heart-shaped muffin tin which I used for these cupcakes).
In a small bowl, sift cake flour and set aside. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. Add to the batter and mix well.

In a liquid measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in 3 parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda (it should fizz). Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrap down sides of bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and batter is smooth.

Fill cupcake pans until 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan 10 minutes then transfer to cooling rack. Ice cupcakes once completely cooled and sprinkle with decorations.

(my taste testers... they approve!)

Scallops with Roasted Cauliflower

Our main course for Valentine's Day. I rarely cook scallops but this recipe was easy and the sauce is very light and refreshing. I got the scallop recipe from a cooking class.

Scallops with Lemon Chive Sauce

1/2 lb dry sea scallops
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh pepper

Sauce: (this makes enough for a pound of scallops but I was only cooking for 2 people so I had a lot of have extra sauce)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon zest = zest of one lemon
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp olive oil ( I used Trader Joe's finishing olive oil - it is lighter)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chives, chopped
pinch of kosher salt and pepper

Rinse scallops removing any muscle attachments. Pat dry with a paper towel. Select a saute pan big enough to place each scallop on it without touching (can use two smaller pans if don't have one big enough). Pan can be non-stick or regular.

Place 1 tbsp olive oil in pan and heat until begins to ripple. Lightly salt and pepper scallops, turn heat to medium and place them in pan (remembering the order you put them on in). Do not move them for 5 minutes.

Add butter, which will help loosen the scallops and gently turn them over. Cook for additional 2 minutes or until done, and then remove them from the pan and let rest on a serving dish. Cover with another dish to keep warm.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, lemon zest, mayonnaise, salt and pepper in a smal bowl. Add the olive oil and whisk together. Add enough lemon juice to thin to a drizzling consistency. Set aside.

When ready to serve add the chives to the lemon dressing. (If you add it too early they will loose their flavor and color). Place a portion of the scallops on each plate and drizzle with dressing.

Roasted Cauliflower

Cut cauliflower into slices and arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until browned, flipping over half way through.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Artichoke Flatbread

Our Valentine's Day Dinner (celebrated on Friday night). It was delicious and probably could have just eaten the entire thing and been done, but I had more good food to come so we didn't. :-)
Bobby Flay Basic Flatbread Recipe
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive or canola oil, plus more for the bowl

Mix water and yeast together in a large bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Gradually pour in 2 cups of the flour and stir to incorporate. Mix for about 1 minute to form a sponge. (Mine didn't really look like a sponge but it still worked). Let stand, covered (with a tea towel), for at least 1 hour.

Put dough in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook, add the salt and the oil, then add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a ball of dough. Remove from bowl and knead. Place in a clean oiled bowl and let rise, slowly, about 2 1/2 hours (covered). Divide dough into four balls and make into four small flatbreads or spread out entire dough over a large baking sheet, using your fingers to press it out to the edges. See below to continue with baking it.

1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and cut into 4 pieces
1 large shallot, sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp truffle oil
kosher salt and pepper
4 oz. package of goat cheese

In a saute pan, add olive oil and shallot and saute over medium heat, for 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add artichokes, truffle oil, salt and pepper and cook 10 minutes or until they start to get browned. Set aside.

Putting it all together:

Preheat oven to 475. Top the flatbread dough with artichoke mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with truffle oil (optional). Bake at 475 for 20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Take out of oven, dot with goat cheese and bake another 5 minutes. Cut up and serve while hot.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spinach Frittata and Black Bean Burger

Black Bean Burgers
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 onion, diced small
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 oregano
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil

Saute onion until soft but not brown in 1 tsp olive oil. Add garlic and saute one more minute. Meanwhile, put black beans in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until pasty. Add onion/garlic to bowl along with rest of ingredients listed above(except for olive oil). Form into 4 patties. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat and cook patties until browned on each side, about 5 minutes a side. Serve with salsa and avocado.

Spinach Frittata
1/2 bag of chopped frozen spinach
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup milk
6 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 ground pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400. In a saucepan, cook spinach in 1/4 " of boiling water and then drain. Mix together in a bowl eggs, milk, salt and pepper. When spinach is done cooking, add spinach to this bowl.
Meanwhile saute onion until soft, then add garlic and cook one minute more. Add red pepper to onion mixture and cook another 5 minutes. Then pour egg mixture into pan and let cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Transfer pan to oven and cook until set, should take about 20-25 minutes.

Notes: I used a cast iron skillet to make the frittata. You need to make sure you use a saute pan that can be put in the oven. Also, I saute enough onion and garlic for both the black bean burgers and the frittata then before I added the red pepper I took some out for the black bean burgers. This saves on dishes to be done after dinner!

Heart Sugar Cookies

While snowed in today, we decided to get in the Valentine's Day spirit and make some cookies!
Basic sugar cookies with lots of holiday sprinkles!!

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
egg wash= 1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp water

Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Then add flour and baking powder and mix until well incorporated. Put dough on a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, roll into a disc and wrap up with wax paper. Refrigerate 2 hours or until ready to make cookies.
Preheat oven to 375. On a floured surface, roll out some or all of the dough using a rolling pin and use cookie cutters to shape cookies. Place cookies on cookie sheet, brush with egg wash, and decorate with sprinkles. Bake 375 for 7-8 minutes.
Cool on cooling rack and enjoy!

Homemade PlayDough

It is snowing here today so we will be busy working in the kitchen! Our first project is play dough. It is sooo easy to make and the play dough is much better than the kind you buy. It lasts, if you put it in the fridge in an airtight container, for about 6 months.

2 cups flour
2 cups cold water
1 cup salt
4 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp oil
food coloring

Mix in a 2 quart saucepan all the above ingredients (except food coloring) and stir over medium heat until mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. This takes about 5 minutes. Let it cool 10 minutes. Then divide into 4 pieces (or however many colors you want to make), add drops of food coloring to each section, and knead well until color is fully blended into play dough.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cabbage Rolls

This recipes comes from my mother-in-law. They are time consuming but I always make enough to have an extra casserole to put in the freezer so I get two dinners out of the whole process. They are delicious and a wonderful winter meal!

1 head of cabbage
3 pounds of mixed ground meats (pork, beef, turkey, chicken, whatever!)
1 cup brown rice
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper
2 eggs
tomato soup, 2 small cans or 1 large can
Bacon (optional)

Core the cabbage as best you can, remove first few layers. Place cabbage core down in a pot of water, bring to a boil. Remove leaves as they loosen with tongs to a sheet pan with a layer of paper towels or a lint free tea towel. As you pull the leaves off the tongs, there is a lot of water so drain them well. Meanwhile, cook your rice and let cool.
As the cabbage is cooling, saute onion in tsp of olive oil until soft, not brown. Then mix with rice and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, mix meats with salt, pepper and 2 eggs. Once cooled, add rice/onion mixture and mix all together.

When the cabbage leaves have cooled a bit, you can start rolling. Cut out the tough core of each cabbage piece in a V. Lay a heaping tablespoon of meat mixture near the V roll once, turn in one side then the other and continue to roll. Put the rolls in a 9x13inch baking dish that has been covered with a light covering of tomato soup (with the opening side down). Once you are finished rolling, add to the top any leftover cabbage (chopped fine), the rest of the tomato soup and slices of bacon (optional.... I didn't add them this past time I made them and they still tasted great!)
Bake, covered, in a slow oven (at 275) for 2 hours or so. You can also bake at 350 for about an hour. Check to make sure they do not get dry, add more tomato soup or water if they look like they are drying out. Long, slow cooking is best.

They also freeze well, so if you have enough meat mixture and enough extra cabbage rolls, make more and put them in the freezer for an extra dinner!

We had them for dinner with a side salad. Kids ate them too(minus the cabbage)!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cranberry Snack Cake

This will be the first of my many Valentine's Day treats. I love to cook/bake festive foods for any holiday or special occasion. This is a great snack cake that can be used as a breakfast coffee cake, afternoon treat, or dessert served with some whipped cream or ice cream! I bought a bunch of bags of fresh cranberries when they were in season and store them in my freezer so I can use them all year long. They freeze really well!!

2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 tbsp turbinado sugar (or regular sugar)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 10-inch iron skillet or 9x13 inch baking dish. In a saucepan, combine the cranberries and corn syrup, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to pop. Remove the cranberries with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

In a large bowl (or mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) cream butter and sugar. In a separate small bowl, stir together eggs and yogurt, then set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternating with the yogurt mixture. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Reserving 1/2 cup of the drained cranberries, fold the remaining berries into the cake mixture.

Pour the batter into the skillet or baking dish. Sprinkle with the reserved cranberries, chopped pecans (optional, I didn't use them so I could share with friends that have nut allergies) and 1 tablespoon raw sugar (or regular sugar). Bake for 40-50 minutes, until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.... can also just serve from pan if you want.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


This dish was created by my grandmother when my dad was young. It is a great "comfort" dish and kids love it! (Noodles, sausage, cheese.. what's not to love!)

1 pound sausage, casing removed (can use turkey sausage if want to make it healthier)
1 package egg noodles
1 can of tomato soup
1 cup milk
4 or 5 stalks of celery, diced (the lighter in color stalks are more flavorful than those darker green)
1 medium onion, diced
shredded cheddar cheese

Brown sausage and break up into smaller pieces in a large saute pan. Once browned, add celery and onion and cook until soft (about 5-7 minutes). Meanwhile cook noodles, 1-2 minutes undercooked, and drain. Mix the can of tomato soup with 1 cup of milk in a bowl.

Layer a 9x13 baking dish with 1/2 of the noodles, 1/2 the sausage mixture, 1/2 the tomato soup/milk and then repeat layers. Top with shredded cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 350.

Minor's Chicken Base

I always keep a container of this in my fridge instead of stocking up on cans or cartons of chicken broth. It is basically concentrated chicken broth. Mix one teaspoon of the base with one cup of water and you have delicious chicken broth! 100% Natural! See my "cooking must haves" list to buy it on amazon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

BBQ Chicken Salad and Asparagus, Potato, Leek Soup

BBQ Chicken Salad
If you have leftover chicken you can start with that or bake chicken in oven with salt, pepper (or Borsari seasoning) and top with BBQ sauce.
Cut up chicken into pieces and put in a bowl with spoonful or 2 of mayo, 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, sprinkle of dried onion flakes, 1 tsp relish, and 2 tbsp BBQ sauce. Mix all together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Served over salad with avocado, tomatoes and cucumber dressed with olive oil, chardonnay vinegar, and Borsari seasoning.

Asparagus, Potato Leek Soup

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

2 leeks, cut lengthwise and chopped

5 small Yukon gold potatoes, diced

1 bunch of asparagus (weighed almost 1 pound)

6 cups chicken broth

2 celery sticks, cut in half lengthwise and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup whole milk (or heavy cream)

Trim the attractive tips from the asparagus. Cut the woody stems from each spear (or bend the asparagus towards the end and it should snap off.) Cut the remaining middle pieces of asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces.

Bring to a boil 4 cups chicken broth, add woody stems and simmer for 25 minutes.

Pull stems out with a slotted spoon and discard. Next add the asparagus tips to the broth for 1 minute. Pull them out with a slotted spoon and put in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain them and set aside on a paper towel. Save the asparagus infused chicken broth for later.

Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil in medium pot. Add celery and leeks sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic sauté for 1 minute. Then add asparagus pieces, potatoes, 1 tsp kosher salt, ½ tsp pepper, 4 cups of the asparagus infused broth and 2 more cups of chicken broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 12 minutes or until asparagus and potatoes are tender. With an immersion blender (or food processor), blend until smooth. If serving right away, add milk (or cream).. if not, wait until just before serving, add asparagus tips and milk while heating soup up.

Adult Review: Soup was good, very flavorful. And salad was delicious! (Dressing was light and perfect compliment)

Kid Review: only ate veggies that we put on our salad and chicken salad- ate everything without complaints, didn't serve them soup.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Borsari Seasoning

This seasoning salt is one of my favorites! I use it for my salad dressing every night ( olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a couple sprinkles of the Borsari seasoning, and a drop of Dijon mustard). I also sprinkle it on chicken before I bake it instead of just salt and pepper. It comes in 3 flavors and they are all delicious! You can buy it at amazon (see link at top of blog) .

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Baked Chicken with Celery Root and Apple Puree

(Below picture is of the celery root just in case you want to see what it looks like!)

Mixed Salad with avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts. Dressing is olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Borsari seasoning (will give details on this in another post) and 1/2 tsp Djion mustard.

Baked chicken (bone-in with skin chicken breasts) with kosher salt, pepper and other seasonings sprinkled on top at 375 until done.

Celery Root and Apple Puree (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 fennel bulb, diced largely
1 celery root, peeled and diced
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced
Kosher salt
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup half and half (or can use whole milk or heavy cream.. depending what you have in the fridge)

Melt butter over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add fennel, celery root, apples, potatoes 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Saute vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the cider, bring to a slight boil then cover the pot with lid and simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are very soft. If the vegetables begin to burn, add another few tbsps of apple cider.

When vegetables are cooked, add half and half and cook for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to food processor (or food mill, if you have one) and puree. Can return to large saute pan and when ready to serve warm up on stove.

Celery root puree tasted great mixed on the fork with the basic chicken.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce

So the recipe I followed said one tenderloin but my package came with two in them... this recipe is the way I did it so there was enough sauce for both, but you could definitely do half the sauce if you only want to make one tenderloin.

1 package of pork tenderloin (containing 2 tenderloins)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tbsp fresh if you have it)
1 cup chicken broth
1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 450. Melt 2 tbsp butter in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with kosher salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes. Place skillet with pork in oven. Roast pork about 20 minutes or until cooked. (Thermometer inserted into center should register 155.)

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tbsp butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and rosemary, saute until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add broth, cranberry sauce and vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes. Then bring to a boil and boil until sauce has reduced enough to coat spoon thickly, about 15 minutes or so.

Slice pork and serve with sauce.

Side dishes tonight were steamed broccoli and corn muffins (made from Jiffy corn muffin mix. )

Pork recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 1998 issue.