Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
beef fajitas with corn salsa, black beans
sesame chicken, rice, broccoli
crab ravioli with peas
lasagna Bolognese, salad
Hula chicken sandwiches, salad
pizza pizzas
out to Sweet Basil

Monday, March 30, 2015

Winter Dinner Party

Winter Dinner 01
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Winter Dinner 05
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Winter Dinner 09
C invested in a Mountain Collective Pass this season, which meant he took ski trips to Whistler, Alta, Jackson Hole and of course, Aspen/Snowmass. During his weekend in Utah, I hosted a dinner party while Miss F enjoyed some time with her grandparents. I originally envisioned a table all in silver and white. I ordered the runner and napkins from Amazon, which arrived just hours before the party began.  I still have no idea why they were so delayed, but at least they arrived.  I ended up raiding the marked down flower section at the grocery store.  Bunches of pale pink tulips and roses were only $4 each, so pale pink was incorporated into the scheme quite nicely.

I went with an Italian influenced menu.  We started with prosciutto wrapped melon, artichoke bruschetta and fresh tomato dip with crostini.    The tomato dip was a last minute addition since my mom brought over a great amount of tomatoes from her garden.  I opted for a soup course instead of salad since it was "winter."  Even though winter in Houston would be equally well served with a salad.  I served C's favorite, minestrone, which I had prepped in advance and just added the pasta when it was time to serve.  The main course was beef tenderloin rosa di parma with garlic roasted broccoli.  Of course, mozzarella basil bread had to make an appearance, it helps absorb all the wine.  We ended the evening with chocolate cappuccino cheesecake, which was divine.  I had made two cheesecakes, but due to last minute cancellations, I probably could have worked with one.  But who doesn't love extra cheesecake?

Look for recipes in the coming days.  As always, it was an incredibly lovely weekend with some of my most favorite girlfriends.  I am so lucky to have so many amazing women in my life.
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Slow Baked Lemon Salmon

Slow Baked Lemon Salmon
Baking salmon low and slow is one of my most favorite ways to prepare it. I saw this 'recipe' on The Devil's Punchbowl, I was intrigued. The salmon steams in its own little pouch, making the moist salmon even moister.  This salmon is ridiculously easy to prepare and comes out perfectly.  And it cooked up in the same amount of time it took me to steam an artichoke on the side.  Miss F firmly rejected both the salmon and the artichoke, but I was a happy diner.
Slow Baked Lemon Salmon

1 lemon, sliced
4 salmon filets
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay out a large sheet of aluminum foil. Lay the sliced lemon on the foil, then place the salmon filets over the lemon slices. Top each salmon filet with a pat of butter, sprinkle salt and pepper over top. Wrap the salmon filets in the foil, sealing tightly. Place the salmon packet on a baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes, serve.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easy Penne alla Vodka

Easy Penne alla Vodka
Penne alla Vodka is one of Miss F's most favorite pastas. It only trails behind spaghetti and meatballs or Daddy pasta.  I have several recipes that I like, but I really wanted to simplify it for an easier weeknight meal, something that didn't involve hours in the oven or a food processor.  This meal was a huge hit, I served it with pizza chips and broccoli, with barely any leftovers of anything.  Miss F called dibs on what was left for her lunch box the next day.  I liked the fact that the sauce came together in the same amount of time as it took to cook the pasta.
Easy Penne alla Vodka

1 pound penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup vodka
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Prepare the pasta per package instructions, drain and set aside, reserving the pasta water. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, saute for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the vodka to the pan, bring to a simmer and swirl in the tomato paste, simmer for 2 minutes more. Stir in the red pepper and tomatoes, bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream and salt, once the mixture begins to bubble, stir in the Parmesan. Add the pasta and ½ cup of the reserved pasta water if the sauce needs thinning. Serve topped with additional Parmesan cheese.
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Pork Milanese

Pork Milanese
I love any breaded and fried pork chop, pork things are still my go to, but I do like to mix it up. I selected this recipe because I am still trying to use all the lemons in the house. It is from Giada De Laurentiis and it couldn't be easier.  My pork chops all pounded out so strangely, each one of the turned into a "C" shape, it was the oddest thing.  Miss F at the whole lemon, skin and all.  So gross, but she loves them.  She refused to eat hardly any of her dinner except for the lemon, I blame the time change.  Isn't that what all moms do this time of year for any and all bad behavior?
Pork Milanese

¾ cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
1 large egg
3 boneless pork loin chops, pounded thin to 1/3 inch-thick (¾ pounds total)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lemon wedges

Coarsely crush the Panko into a shallow bowl, stir in the Parmesan. In another shallow bowl, whisk the egg. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper, dip into the egg then into the Panko mixture, patting to coat completely. Plate and refrigerate the pork for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and saute until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Plate and serve each with a lemon wedge.
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Meyer Lemon Roast Chicken

Meyer Lemon Roast Chicken
I am still going through the plethora of Meyer lemons that my mom gave me. I got a whole chicken on super sale and adapted this recipe from Our Recipe Box.  I added red potatoes to the pan and they were my most favorite part of the dish, they were so bright and full of lemon flavor.  C was not a fan of the lemon potatoes and once he decided he didn't like them, Miss F refused as well.  But who am I kidding, she refuses all potatoes no matter what the flavor.  This made an incredibly moist bird, which I credit to roasting it "upside down," that is with the breast side down in the pan.
Meyer Lemon Roast Chicken

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
zest from two Meyer lemons
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 whole chicken
3 Meyer lemons, cut into quarters
6 to 8 red potatoes, quartered

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together two tablespoons of olive oil, rosemary, zest, salt and pepper. Spread the oil mixture over the chicken. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Squeeze one of the lemons over and inside the chicken, add the squeezed quarters to the cavity of the chicken. Toss the potatoes and four more lemon quarters with the remaining oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange the potatoes and lemons around the chicken. Roast "upside down," with the breast side down, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the thigh temperature reads 165 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve with the remaining lemon quarters.
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Pineapple Beef Fajitas

Pineapple Beef Fajitas
I love fajitas of any sort. I had a few small cans of pineapple to get through after using them as cupcake stand bases, so I scoured one of my most favorite blogs, Confections of a Foodie Bride, for a pineapple recipe. And I found quite the winner. Miss F ate four fajitas, so I would definitely call it a success. I added bell pepper because I love having grilled pepper in my fajitas, plus we just topped ours with just cheese and guacamole, I might have had a revolt if I had tried to serve them with yogurt. I also learned a new trick for my cast iron grill pan, you can clean it with white vinegar. Brush it on, let it sit for a couple minutes, then wipe it down. It was fantastic!
Pineapple Beef Fajitas

For the marinade:
1 small can pineapple rings in juice
Juice of ½ lime
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt

1 pound flank or skirt steak
1 bell pepper, sliced
8 tortillas, warmed
guacamole
sour cream

Whisk together the pineapple juice, lime juice, red pepper flakes, garlic, olive oil, Worcestershire, and salt. Place the steak and bell pepper in a large zipper bag, pour the marinade over top and add two pineapple rings, reserve the remaining ring for serving. Seal the bag and let marinate for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature. Heat the grill or grill pan to high. Remove the steak from the marinade and cook 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. While the meat is resting, grill the bell pepper slices until tender. Serve on tortillas topped with guacamole and sour cream.
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Guinness Pulled Pork

Guinness Pulled Pork
Oh my. This pork was so incredibly easy, but yet so full of flavor. I served it on my most favorite bun, cheddar hamburger buns, topped simply with pickle chips and barbecue sauce.  C wasn't a fan of the sliced onions, so I will dice them next time so I won't get as many complaints.  Miss F was a huge fan, she even took leftovers in her lunch box the next day.  And I enjoyed the leftovers as well.  Thanks to Gimme Some Oven for the great recipe.  It worked perfectly for 8 big sandwiches with the cheddar bun recipe.
Guinness Pulled Pork

1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
4 pound boneless pork butt, shoulder or loin
1 (11.2 ounce) bottle Guinness

Lay the onion over the bottom of the crockpot. Whisk together the paprika, salt, red pepper, garlic and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spices all over the pork, then place on top of the sliced onion. Pour the beer into the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours. Shred the pork with two forks, removing any excess fat. Serve on rolls with barbecue sauce and sliced pickles.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
I liked these cookies so much that I made them twice in one week. They are chewy with just the right amount of oats to provide some texture. Miss F was a huge fan of these cookies, especially in a cookie sundae after dinner.  These were quite full of chocolate chips, so feel free to reduce the chocolate chip amount to one cup if you prefer a higher cookie to chip ratio.  Miss F would like her cookies to be solid chocolate chips if she had her way.  I think she ate several while we were making the batter.  She also adds more chips to her cookie sundae.  This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

½ cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
½ cup oats
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat. Cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, beat well. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir into the butter mixture. Mix until everything is incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets, allowing 2" between each cookie. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.
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Monday, March 9, 2015

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Broccoli

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Broccoli
If you decide to use the dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes instead of those packed in oil (they are much cheaper,) may I officially advise you not to even try to chop them until you have re-hydrated them. My half gone fingernail should serve as a warning to you all. Enough about my kitchen clumsiness and on to this amazing dish. I was inspired by this recipe from Julia's Album, but I basically changed the entire dish.  Everyone loved it, though C picked out the tomatoes.  Tomatoes that I suffered for, but I was happy to have his extra.  I love the use of mozzarella in this cream sauce, it makes it so incredibly rich.
Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Broccoli

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 head broccoli, chopped
½ teaspoon paprika
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups half and half
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup grated parmesan
½ cup reserved cooked pasta water
1 tablespoon basil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
16 ounces penne pasta, prepared per package instructions

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, broccoli and paprika, saute for 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and vegetables from the pan. Add the garlic and sun dried tomatoes, saute for 30 seconds. Add the half-and-half, mozzarella and parmesan to the pan, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes, salt and pepper to taste. Thin with pasta water if necessary. Stir in the chicken, tomatoes, broccoli, basil, red pepper and pasta. Serve.
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Friday, March 6, 2015

Soft Garlic Breadsticks

Soft Garlic Breadsticks
I had a suite mate in college who worked at the Olive Garden.  She would often come home with bags of leftover breadsticks, it was quite a perk of living with her.  I don't like the Olive Garden very much, but I do love their breadsticks.  They are building a new one near our house, which I find quite surprising, I think of it more as a suburban restaurant.  This recipe allows me to avoid going all together, it is nearly a perfect copycat.  The breadsticks are so soft and delicious, even better than the real thing.  And you don't have to go to the Olive Garden to get them.  Thanks to 12 Tomatoes for the perfect recipe.
Soft Garlic Breadsticks

1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
1 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
3 1/3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 teaspoon garlic salt

In the bowl of the stand mixer, add the water and sprinkle with the yeast. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, sugar, salt and butter. Knead using the dough hook for 7 minutes at medium speed, dough will be elastic and smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hours. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece into 6" logs. Place the logs on a Silpat lined baking sheet. Cover and let rest for 1 hour more. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes, until golden brown. Brush the warm breadsticks with the melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mexican Pork Roast Tacos

Mexican Pork Roast Tacos
I wasn't thinking very clearly when I asked Miss F if she wanted crunchy or soft tacos for dinner. She opted for crunchy and I realized after I bought the shells that I was having a crown rplaced, which meant I would have a temporary, which isn't the best for crunchy foods of any variety. I efforted through though, chewing on only one side of my mouth and biting my tongue a few times.  The tacos were a huge success and I used the meat for quesadillas for lunch the next day.  The pork is so tender, it just falls apart when you go to shred it.  This recipe is from Taste and Tell.
Mexican Pork Roast Tacos

1 medium onion, sliced
1 pound pork loin roast or chops
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon coriander
½ cup water
8 6-inch flour tortillas
guacamole
shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
diced tomatoes

Place the onions on the bottom of the crockpot. Rub the pork with the salt, oregano, cumin and coriander and place it on top of the onions. Add the water, cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the pork from the crockpot and shred with two forks, Return the pork to the crockpot and stir together. Warm the tortillas, fill with the shredded pork and top with guacamole, cheese and tomatoes.
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Strawberry Banana Bread

Strawberry Banana Bread
We went strawberry picking a couple weeks back with some of Miss F's classmates. Miss F ate nearly half of her bucket of strawberries before we even left Froberg Farms, dirt and all. She is strawberry obsessed and I can't blame her. The strawberries fresh picked are so much more delicious than those you get in the grocery store. Miss F wanted to make strawberry jam, but after inspecting our diminished haul, I decided we didn't have enough to make jam. I had a few bananas in our freezer, so off to the internet I went in search of a strawberry banana bread recipe. I was in luck, there was a well reviewed recipe from Disney World, specifically the Whispering Canyon CafĂ©.  This bread was delicious, just as I remembered from our stay at the Wilderness Lodge.
Strawberry Banana Bread

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 medium-size)
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ pound sliced strawberries

Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the mashed bananas. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, stir until combined. Gently stir in the strawberries. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, slice and serve.
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