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French bread pizzas
crockpot garlic rosemary beef stew, steakhouse honey wheat bread
chipotle chicken skewers, sour cream rice, salad
out to El Real
skillet chicken souvlaki, naan, cucumber tomato salad
chicken sriracha stir fry, rice
roast pork tenderloin with acorn squash

Monday, August 30, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

My intended dessert for my girls dinner party was a big ole strawberry cheesecake. I whipped it up, baked it, set it out to cool and went to bed. I woke up at 6 am with the sad reliazation that the cheesecake had never been put in the refrigerator. Whoops! These shortcakes are easy to make ahead, just whip the cream when you are ready to serve. Everything else can be done in advance. Or just make a cheesecake and abide by proper food safety rules.
Strawberry Shortcake
makes one dozen

6 cups sliced strawberries
¼ cup sugar
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 ½ cup half and half
Melted butter to brush shortcakes
whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together the berries and sugar. Set berries aside to macerate while you prepare the shortcakes. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening. Mix in half-and-half. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown.

To serve, split the biscuit in two, spoon the berry mixture over the bottom half top with whipped cream and the other half of the biscuit.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Black Midnight Cake

This is another of my grandmother's amazing cake recipes. The other I have blogged is the yellow cake, the Lazy Daisy cake. This chocolate cake is exceptional. It even trumps Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate cake, which is my usual go to for chocolate cakes. There are some odd measurements (1/3 of a teaspoon?), but my guesstimations worked just fine. I frosted it with a white buttercream, but you could get as creative as you like.
Black Midnight Cake

⅔ cup butter
1⅔ cup sugar
3 eggs
⅔ cup cocoa
1⅓ cup cold water
2 cups flour
⅓ teaspoon baking powder
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs. In a separate bowl, blend together the cocoa and water. Mix in the cocoa mixture to the batter. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into the batter. Add the vanilla. Pour into two 8” or 9” floured and greased cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This meal was fantastic, very flavorful, but not very waistline friendly. You can adjust the spices to suit your taste, even add extra cayenne pepper if you prefer it. I will probably try this recipe without the Cajun spices, I really enjoyed the depth of flavor that the wine added to the alfredo sauce.  I can also see the addition of sliced bell peppers being a nice crunch to the pasta.  C thought this was so-so and Miss F only enjoyed the pasta plain, no sauce for her.
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Serves 2 to 3

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Spice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tomatoes, diced
¼ cup white wine
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
¾ pound cooked penne pasta

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Dredge the chicken breasts in one tablespoon of the Tony Chachere’s. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat. Saute the chicken until brown and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Slice in strips on the bias and set aside.

In a saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Add onion and garlic and lightly caramelize. Then add the tomato paste, tomatoes and remaining Tony Chachere’s. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the heavy cream and increase the heat to a simmer to reduce the cream sauce by half. When the cream sauce is to desired consistency, stir in Parmesan and pasta.

Place the pasta on large rimmed plates, with chicken on top.
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Parmesan Vinaigrette Salad

I made the parmesan crisps the night before my dinner party and in hindsight, it wasn't the best of ideas. Being stored in an airtight container made them a little gummy in texture and not as delightfully crisp as they were fresh from the oven. Not that I sampled one or more...not me!

The parmesan crisps are divine, I will be making them again for sure.  They would be great as chips as well.
Parmesan Crisps
makes 8 to 10 crisps

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a silicone lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. Repeat with the remaining cheese, spacing the spoonfuls about a 1/2 inch apart.

Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool.

Parmesan Vinaigrette

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup white vinegar
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil in a mini-food processor. Pulse to combine. Stream in the olive oil with the processor on to emulsify the dressing. Serve over mixed greens with Parmesan crisps.
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Mustard Garlic Chicken

This recipe was amazingly easy. I was able to prep everything in advance and bake it for my dinner party. The chicken was moist and tender. My dinner party was for 11 women, but the recipe can easily be reduced for a weeknight dinner and serve a whole breast per person. I served it with dill roasted red potatoes and steamed green beans.  The marinade would also work well on bone-in chicken.
Mustard-Garlic Chicken
serves 12

6 large chicken breasts, halved
8 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Tabasco
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients except the chicken. Toss the chicken in the marinade and store overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Bake the chicken for 25 to 30 minutes, until the juices run clear.
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Caramelized Onion Bruschetta

I adapted the caramelized onion dip recipe to transform it into a simple appetizer. The onions can be made in advance and warmed in the microwave before assembling. This is a really easy recipe to make and who doesn't love sweet onions? 
Caramelized Onion Bruschetta
makes 36

2 large Vidalia onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces goat cheese
1 baguette

Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized.

Slice the baguette into ¼” slices and toast under the broiler for 1 to 3 minutes, until just browned. Cool.

Spread goat cheese onto each toast and top with a heaping spoonful of the caramelized onion mixture. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and serve.
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Tomato Tart

I made this for a dinner party I had this weekend and it was a hit. I might try adding some red pepper flakes or garlic next time I make it, to spice it up a bit. A pizza cutter worked well for creating nice slices. I used Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee recipe for the crust, which I made a day in advance to streamline the party prep.
Tomato Tart
makes 16 slices

1 recipe homemade dough for tart shell
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
4 to 6 tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Basil, chopped for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line loose bottom 9 or 10 inch tart pan with dough rolled out 1/8-inch thick. Spread bottom of pastry with shredded cheese and sprinkle with basil. Cover with tomato slices, arranging to cover as evenly as possible. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Watch carefully. When crust is golden and cheese is bubbly, remove. Garnish with fresh basil. Slice in wedges and serve warm.
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Spicy Cucumber Salad

I set this salad on the dinner table and C exclaims "I hate cucumbers, even the smell of them is gross!" Um, okay Mr. Extra Tzatiki Sauce Please. This salad is delicious and refreshing. And now that I know C won't eat it, I am going to add fresh tomatoes to it the next time I make it. Take that!
Spicy Cucumber Salad
serves 2 to 3

1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Place the cucumber slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt. Toss well. Let drain in the sink for one hour. Place cucumber slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Rinse and pat dry.

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Remove reduction from heat; cool.

Combine cucumbers and vinegar reduction in a medium bowl and toss well.
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bacon Roast Chicken

This dish was very easy and quite flavorful. My only suggestion is not to order the La Suegra at Los Cucos for lunch and expect to be hungry enough to eat as much as this dish deserves. After eating just two fajitas (and my weight in chips and salsa), I was full all afternoon. I wouldn't go larger than a 3 pound chicken, the bacon will overcook and get way too crispy. Miss F feasted on nearly all the bacon, big shock there.
Bacon Roast Chicken

2 to 3 pound whole chicken, cleaned
½ lemon
4 sage leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic
½ onion, chopped
½ pound bacon
2 to 3 russet potatoes, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a small bowl, combine the juice of the lemon, the lemon half, sage, one tablespoon olive oil, garlic and onion. Toss together and season with salt and pepper. Put this mixture into the chicken cavity.

In a roasting pan, toss the potatoes with the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay the stuffed chicken over top of the potatoes. Cut the bacon slices in half and wrap the chicken with them. Roast the chicken for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
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