Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
butternut squash and spinach carbonara
minestrone soup, pizza chips
chicken and dumplings
bacon wrapped beef tenderloin, duchess potatoes, broccoli
pork florentine, mashed potatoes
salsa verde chicken tacos, black beans
summer sweet corn pasta

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sparkling Sangria

Sparkling SangriaMichael Chiarello is a genius, especially with this sangria. I was able to use the wedding brandy in it, which was particularly nice.   I served this to start the party for the Foodbuzz 24x24: A Gathering of Girlfriends with great success.  It was refreshing and the fruit flavors were lovely.  Just right for summer. 

Sparkling Sangria

1 cup brandy
½ cup orange liqueur
¼ cup sugar, super fine
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 pint raspberries
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 bottles sparkling wine or cava, chilled

In a large pitcher, combine the brandy, and orange liqueur. Pour in the sugar, stir or shake the pitcher thoroughly to mix until the sugar dissolves. Add all the fruit at once. Add the cava and serve as is or on ice.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recipe Swap: Barbecue Chicken Salad

Barbecue Chicken SaladWe have been travelling and I have been busy, but I was able to find time again to participate in the salad recipe swap organized by A Taste of Home Cooking. Even better, I got her recipe in the swap. As soon as I saw the recipe for Barbecue Chicken Salad, I knew I would love it. Especially the avocado vinaigrette. I swapped out ranch for the bleu cheese since no one in this house really enjoys bleu cheese. I also added my own recipe for nectarine barbecue sauce to the dish. C just had ranch on his salad and I just had avocado vinagrette on mine because it was so amazing. I also added chopped cucumber and avocado to the salad itself. This will go into our summer dinner rotation and I am already thinking about what new salads I can make with the vinaigrette.
Barbecue Chicken Salad

For the Avocado Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons peach jam
1 medium ripe avocado
Salt and pepper to taste

For the potatoes:
2-3 pounds red potatoes, washed
1 stick butter
1 medium shallot, minced
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon butter
½ small onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup ketchup
½ cup water
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
Hot sauce, to taste
1 nectarine, peeled, and diced
1 tomato, seeded and diced

For the salad:
Mixed greens
Tomatoes, chopped
Cucumbers, chopped
Avocado, chopped
Corn
French fried onions
Ranch Dressing

To make the avocado vinaigrette-put all of the ingredients except the oil into a food processor or blender. Drizzle in the oil while the processor is running. Process until smooth.

To make the potatoes - boil a large pot of water and salt well. Boil potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain the water and return potatoes to the pot. Stir in butter, shallot, and parsley. Stir well. Set aside and keep warm until serving.

To make chicken - in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for a minute or so to soften. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the temperate to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. Grill the chicken and brush each piece liberally with barbecue sauce. Cut into strips and set aside.

To plate the salads - place mixed greens on a plate. Lay the sliced chicken on top of the greens. Top with tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and fried onions. Place a few warm potatoes on the side. Drizzle entire salad with avocado vinaigrette and ranch dressing.
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24: A Gathering of Girlfriends

Once or twice a year, I like to invite a fun group of girlfriends over for a dinner party. Sometimes we are celebrating things, like a birthday or my “retirement” to become a stay at home mom, but most of the time, we are just getting together to spend some much needed girl time. My husband, C, refers to it as a “Cackle Fest”, as we can get quite boisterous as the night wears on. This generally results in dancing to a Britney Spears song or group singing to “Umbrella.” The parties are never dull and I am so fortunate to be able to share these parties with such an extraordinary group of friends. Some have been friends for years, others are new acquaintances, but by the end of the evening, we have formed a lasting circle of friends.
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Last night nine of my friends gathered for just such an occasion. I had already sent out the invites (paper by snail mail) when Foodbuzz announced the date for June’s Foodbuzz 24x24, where 24 parties are held over 24 hours. I felt so lucky that it happened to be the same day as my scheduled party and even luckier when I was selected to participate. I had already come up with a menu that was Latin inspired; I wanted the flavors to be bold and exciting. I set out to the local flower shops to find the brightest blooms I could find and I programmed the computer to play Buena Vista Social Club, Gypsy Kings and the like. One of my most favorite details was the charger menus. I had seen the idea on Pinterest and I ran with it. It was such a nice way to decorate the table without being too fussy.
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The girls were greeted with sparkling Sangria, a recipe from Michael Chiarello. The drinks were fruity and strong, the right way to start a party. I had three appetizers out for everyone to eat while the other guests were still arriving; we are women, you know not everyone is going to be on time. I had prepared corn blinis with Chipotle cream, cantaloupe wrapped with Serrano ham, and short rib empanadas with avocado cream. Look for the recipes in the coming week.
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The first course at the dining table was a fresh garden tomato salad topped with cilantro pesto paired with an Argentinean Malbec. The main course was Tequila lime chicken and shrimp, roasted in the oven for entertaining ease and paired with couscous and sautéed zucchini and yellow squash paired with a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. For dessert, slices of chocolate raspberry cake were passed around with glasses of champagne. After all that eating and drinking, we had reached “Cackle Fest” levels, so it was time to head upstairs to the rooftop to talk, talk, and talk some more. This was truly a delicious and delightful gathering of girlfriends.
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Pork Canton Noodles

Canton noodles are my most favorite discovery in the Asian market. They are ridiculously horrible for you, but super tasty, isn't that how it always is? C asked why I was putting cabbage in everything lately. I was curious as to why, seeing how he loves cole slaw (shudder.) He doesn't seem to think that cole slaw qualifies as cabbage. I think he is pretty silly. This dish is delicious, cabbage or not. I am still unsure how to cook the Canton noodles since there are no instructions on the package, but it seems to cook up in boiling water the same amount of time it takes to stir fry the pork and veggies. I bet they planned it that way...
Pork Canton Noodles

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 pound pork, sliced thin
1/2 bell pepper, sliced thin
3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1/4 onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup snow peas
5 mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon toasted Sesame oil
1 package Canton noodles, prepared per package directions (if you can find them)

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a wok.  Add the pork and stir dry for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the bell pepper, carrots, onion, cabbage, snow peas, and mushrooms to the wok and stir fry 3 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp tender.  Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.

Combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, Sriracha and Sesame oil in a small bowl.  Pour the mixture over the pork and vegetables.  Stir in the prepared Canton noodles.  Serve.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Tomato SalsaI adore the salsa at Pappasitos. Especially when paired with their light as air chips. The salsa is served warm along side the warm chips. Perfection. This salsa is lacking the fire roasted flavor of the salsa at Pappasitos, but it is delicious nonetheless. I am still working on figuring out how to fire roast tomatoes at home...any ideas? If you like a salsa with a lot of fresh flavor, this is worth a try.
Roasted Tomato Salsa

4 tomatoes, quartered and seeded
2 garlic cloves, halved and peeled
¼ onion, peeled
½ jalapeno, seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 475. Toss the tomatoes, garlic, onion and jalapeno with the olive oil. Arrange the mixture on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Cool.

Pulse the cooled tomatoes, garlic, onion and jalapeno in a food processor. Stir in the lime juice, cilantro and salt. Serve with chips.
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Banana Peanut Butter Oat Muffins

Miss F is still a huge fan of muffins. And she is an even bigger fan of helping to bake the muffins. Her assistance is normally putting all the muffin liners in to the tin while I mix all the ingredients, but she is also great at stirring. I doubled this recipe because I had a lot of overripe bananas. In one batch, I left the plain. The other got an addition of 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, which made Miss F an even bigger fan. This recipe is from Baking Bites.
Banana Peanut Butter Oat Muffins

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 med.)
6 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, brown sugar, eggs, mashed banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until very smooth, making sure all egg has been well-incorporated. Pour into flour mixture and stir until no streaks of flour remain. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin, filling each just about up to the top. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Remove muffins from tin and cool on a wire rack.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Fresh Tomato Pasta

Fresh Tomato PastaI first had pasta sauce made with fresh tomatoes many years back at my friend Mel's house. She had made it by hand crushing the tomatoes and C loved it. This dish is perfect if your tomato garden is flourishing. Since I have a four story house in the middle of the city with no yard, let alone garden, and I am struggling keeping three herb plants alive, fresh tomatoes should be hard to come by. Lucky for me, they aren't, since my in-laws have tons of tomatoes fresh from their garden. Even better for me, fresh tomatoes and no gardening work. C picked most of the larger chunks out and said the meal was missing meat. I thought it was fantastic.
Fresh Tomato Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ onion, diced
½ bell pepper, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
5 or 6 large tomatoes, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots to the pan and sauté until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the red pepper, basil and tomato paste and sauté until the tomato sauce is incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve over pasta.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Asian Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Asian Pulled Pork SandwichesThis sandwiches came together beautifully. The crisp cucumber and cabbage is a nice contrast to the saucy pork. No extra sauce is needed. They were a touch salty, so low-sodium soy sauce would be a great substitution. C didn't have his with cabbage or cucumber, his loss. Miss F ate her sandwich deconstructed, pork and roll separately. She even tried some of the purple cabbage.
Asian Pulled Pork

¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 pounds pork roast
½ cucumber, sliced
1 cup sliced cabbage

Whisk together all items except for the pork. Place the pork in a crockpot. Pour the sauce overtop. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Shred the pork with two forks and return to the crockpot. Cook for 15 minutes more. Serve on wheat rolls with cucumber slices and cabbage.
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Saucy Garlic Chicken

Saucy Garlic ChickenWhen I read this recipe on A Taste of Home Cooking, I knew I had to try it.  Besides having wonderful recipes, A Taste of Home Cooking coordinates all the recipe swaps I have participated in, which I really have enjoyed doing.  This recipe dirties a lot of pans and dishes. but the end result is totally worth it.  I remember being very wary the first time I was served roast garlic, but the flavor turned out to be much more mild than I was expecting.  And the best part, no whining from C about the smell of sauteing garlic.
Saucy Garlic Chicken

1 whole garlic bulb
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 cup fresh baby spinach
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
pinch of nutmeg
Hot cooked pasta
Chopped tomato and minced fresh basil, optional

Remove papery outer skin from garlic (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut tops off of garlic bulbs; brush bulbs with 1 teaspoon oil. Wrap the bulb in heavy-duty foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until softened. Cool for 10-15 minutes.

In a skillet, brown chicken in remaining oil on both sides. Place spinach in a greased baking dish, put browned chicken on top of the spinach

In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in ½ cup of cheese, nutmeg and remaining salt and pepper. Squeeze the roasted garlic into the sauce.  Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Pour mixture over chicken.

Cover and bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees and sauce is bubbly. Serve with pasta. Sprinkle with tomato and basil if desired.
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Vegetable Pizza

Vegetable PizzaI hate meat on pizza, there isn't a single traditional meat pizza topping that I enjoy. I do love Thai Chicken Pizza, but that is a whole different kind of pizza. I used cherry tomatoes that my mother-in-law gave me from her garden, pure heaven. Back in college, I would "fancy" up plain Totino's pizzas with sliced tomatoes and dried oregano, I think my freezer always had at least half a dozen frozen pizzas in it at any one time.
Vegetable Pizza

1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, slice in two pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
3 leaves basil, minced

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ bell pepper, sliced
½ zucchini, sliced
2 mushrooms, sliced
½ tomato, chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ recipe, parmesan pizza crust or pizza crust of your liking

In a small sauce, bring the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic clove, salt and basil to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with the pizza stone inside. Roll out pizza crust on a sheet of parchment paper to 10 to 12 inches. Top with the cooled tomato sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella over top, arrange toppings and sprinkle with oregano. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole

Cinnamon Raisin Cream Cheese French ToastWhat a very long name for a fairly simple recipe. Ever since my breakfast club at work, I have been a fan of French toast casserole. Specifically, Apple and Cranberry French Toast Casserole. I had another playgroup baby shower to attend and I volunteered French Toast Casserole, thinking I would make my old standby. When I saw this on I Was Born To Cook, I knew I had to try it. I think I would be better off in a deeper dish next time, as it puffed up a little much.
Cinnamon Raisin Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole

1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread
5 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 dash nutmeg

16 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup sugar

Lightly butter a 3-quart baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with half of the bread slices. In a medium bowl combine 6 of the eggs with all the milk and cream, 1 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Pour half the egg mixture over the bread. In a separate bowl mix the cream cheese, remaining 2 eggs, teaspoon of vanilla, and ½ cups of sugar until smooth and creamy. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the bread layer. Arrange the rest of the bread over the filling and top with the remaining egg mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Adapted from I Was Born To Cook
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Monday, June 6, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Buffalo Chicken SaladWhen I saw Buffalo Chicken Salad on Apple a Day, I was interested. Very very interested, but with a few changes, of course. First, the bleu cheese had to go and ranch had to take its place. Then, I had to fry the chicken, because really, that always makes it so much better. Once I made the changes, we had a total winner on our hands. Even though C separated the chicken and the salad on his plate, he agreed that it was quite good. The best part is I was able to save some plain chicken for Miss F. A perfect family dinner.
Buffalo Chicken Salad

½ cup vegetable oil.
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
¼ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, or wing sauce of your choosing

4 cups baby spinach
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
¼ cup ranch dressing

Heat just enough oil to cover chicken over medium high heat. Stir together flour & salt. Dip chicken in milk, then flour. Dip in milk again, then flour again. Refrigerate chicken for 10-15 minutes. Fry chicken in oil for 10 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Toss the chicken with the hot sauce.

Toss the spinach, carrots and celery with the ranch dressing. Divide between two plates, serve with the chicken.
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Friday, June 3, 2011

Strawberry Cupcakes

Strawberry CupcakesWe picked a ton of strawberries at Froberg Farm and I knew Miss F would adore a pink cupcake. And I was right, she ate two in one day. I used the strawberry cake recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride, but I dumbed down the recipe for a less sophisticated baker, such as myself.  I did make an interesting discovery about my cupcake pans.  The Farberware pan I got for Christmas baked the cupcakes so much more nicely than the Wilton pan I have from my wedding registry.  I will be investing in another Farberware pan for sure.
Strawberry Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

4 cups very ripe fresh strawberries
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup milk
4 whole eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour, sifted
1 ¾ cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Hull, slice and toss the strawberries with 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Let the strawberries sit at room temperature for two hours. Add the strawberries to the bowl of a food processor and puree. Reserve ¾ cup puree for the cake. Use leftover puree to fill the cake or fold into the frosting, if desired.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans. In small bowl, combine ¾ cup puree, milk, egg, vanilla and mix with fork until well blended. In bowl of stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs. Add liquids and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds. Using a ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake pans. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes rest in pan for about 10 minutes and turn out onto wire racks. Let cupcakes cool completely (about 1 hour). Frost cupcakes with strawberry buttercream.

Strawberry Buttercream

½ cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons strawberry puree

Cream butter, add sugar ½ cup at a time until incorporated. Stir in the strawberry puree.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wedding Brandy Pork Chops

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and OnionsWhat is the most interesting wedding you have ever been to? I went to a wedding recently and it was very interesting. I was actually going as a girlfriend's date. There were a few hours in between the ceremony and reception, so everyone gathered at a guest's house to watch the Kentucky Derby and have some mint juleps. About 30 minutes before the wedding, I learned my 'date' would not be joining me. Well...I went to the wedding anyway and had an absolute blast. The best part was that I won a scavenger hunt and the prize was a bottle of XO Brandy. I don't drink brandy, so I searched for a recipe that included it in a savory way. For the record, I found in the hunt an iphone, a shoe with a bow, photo of the married couple and a gas receipt for less than $15.
Wedding Brandy Pork Chops

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/3 pound assorted mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
½ large onion, thinly sliced into rounds
2 1-inch-thick pork rib chops
¼ cup brandy
½ teaspoon rosemary, chopped
½ teaspoon thyme, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon broth. Cover skillet; cook until mushrooms are beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Uncover; simmer until any juices evaporate. Transfer to bowl. Add 1 teaspoon oil and onion to same skillet. Cover; cook until onion browns, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes; add to mushrooms.

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add to skillet; sauté over medium-high heat until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove pork, set aside. Add remaining broth, then brandy, rosemary and thyme to skillet. Place over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced by half, scraping up browned bits, about 6 minutes. Return pork to the pan and cover.

Bake pork until tender, about 25 minutes. Spoon mushrooms and onion over. Cover; bake 5 minutes longer.

Adapted from Bon Appetit
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