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Monday
Tuesday
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Thursday
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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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gnocchi with Bacon and Peas

Gnocchi with Bacon and Peas
I tried to trick Miss F and convince her that we were having "puffy pasta" instead of gnocchi for dinner. She didn't buy it for one minute, she instantly knew the gnocchi were potato based and firmly rejected the meal. I really don't understand her potato aversion and it is quite frustrating. C and I loved this dish, it is a great use for otherwise useless leftover mashed potatoes. I have yet to make gnocchi without them, it seems like a lot of effort. By using mashed potatoes, the gnocchi come together quite quickly. The gnocchi recipe is from Martha Stewart and the sauce is my own, just a simple bacon based alfredo with an addition of peas.  I wasn't particularly neat with my gnocchi rolling this go round, but no matter, they still tasted great.
Gnocchi with Peas and Bacon

2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt

6 ounces bacon, cut into lardons
1 cup peas
1 cup half and half
2/3 cup parmesan
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Stir together the mashed potatoes and egg. Stir in the flour and salt until well incorporated, turn out onto a floured board and knead for 30 seconds. Divide the dough into four, roll each into a ½“ thick log. Cut into 1” pieces, set aside. Boil a large pot of salted water.

In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the grease. Add the peas and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Stir in the parmesan, salt and pepper.

While the cream is simmering, add the gnocchi to the boiling water. When each gnocchi has floated to the top, transfer using a slotted spoon to the cream sauce. Serve, topped with the bacon.
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Monday, April 27, 2015

Ultimate Sriracha Chicken Stir Fry

Ultimate Sriracha Chicken Stir Fry
I love making stir fry, it is a great way to use whatever vegetables I have on hand and it comes together super quickly. My two favorite recipes are Sriracha Chicken and Sesame Chicken.  I decided to merge the two together to create what is my most favorite stir fry ever.  I love using chicken thighs in stir fry, they are much better suited to cooking up quickly without drying out.  Does anyone else remember when McNuggets had both dark and white chicken?  I loved the dark meat McNuggets so much, it was such a shame when they went to 100% breast meat.  Boo.
Ultimate Sriracha Chicken Stir Fry

½ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 head broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
5 mushrooms, quartered

In a two cup measure, whisk together the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, oyster sauce, Sriracha and cornstarch. Set aside. In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, sauté for 20 seconds. Add the chicken, bell pepper, broccoli and mushrooms. Saute four five minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Pour the broth mixture into the pan, heat for a minute more, until thick. Serve over rice or noodles.


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Friday, April 24, 2015

Cajun Chicken, Peppers and Penne

Cajun Chicken, Peppers and Penne
I know I always will have a winner in my house with some sort of spin on alfredo, aka Daddy Pasta (named after C!) I use Tony Chacheres seasoning, but next time, I am going to try it with Old Bay, more Maryland style.  This meal comes together incredibly quickly, which is great for us on a night after ballet or art class or whatever.  It took some convincing to ensure both C and Miss F that the red bits were indeed bell pepper chunks, not tomatoes.  I would have loved the addition of tomatoes, but I know it wouldn't go over so well with them.  I did go ahead and plant a container tomato plant out on our porch, if it produces any crop, they will be mine and mine alone.  How do they not love tomatoes?!?!?
Cajun Chicken, Peppers and Penne

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half and half
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 pound cooked penne pasta

Dredge the chicken in one teaspoon of the Cajun seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat. Sauté the chicken until brown, transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the onion and bell pepper for 3 minutes; add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the tomato paste and remaining Cajun seasoning. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Whisk together the cornstarch, broth and half & half. Add the half and half mixture; bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for a couple of minutes to thicken the sauce. When the cream sauce is to desired consistency, stir in Parmesan, chicken and pasta. Serve.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

M&M Blondies

M&M Blondies
I made these to take to an impromptu wine night at a friend's house. I was all ready to go and the skies opened up. Literally. My phone was weather alarming like mad and I wasn't ready to make a 25 mile drive in buckets of rain. So I stayed home. And ate three blondies instead of having any wine. They are so good. And I really wish I would have been able to take them all away, that way, C and I wouldn't have devoured them in just a few days. Next time I am going to try them with Reeses Pieces. Thanks to Inside Bru Crew Life for the great recipe, she also was the source of a another favorite, Reeses Cheesecake Brownie Bars
M&M Blondies

½ cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups M&M candies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and brown sugar, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Sift in the salt, baking powder and flour, stir until just combined. Stir in 1 cup on the M&Ms. Spread the batter into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Top with the remaining ½ cup of M&Ms. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, cool completely and cut into squares.
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Monday, April 20, 2015

Garlic, Herb, and Cheese Bread Rolls

Garlic, Herb, and Cheese Bread Rolls
I love any sort of yeast roll. I went to Ranch 99 the other day to get beef tenderloin for a dinner I was hosting for my uncle in from Maryland, they had a ton of fresh herbs for super low prices. Miss F helped me make the dough before school, she loved helping prep the herbs, especially plucking the thyme leaves off their stem.  These rolls are amazing, especially the sprinkle of parmesan on the top.  Miss F was so proud of herself, she kept insisting she made the whole dinner.  She was a great help though, she has great enthusiasm for cooking.  Thanks to Handle the Heat for the recipe.
Garlic, Herb, and Cheese Bread Rolls

¼ cup lukewarm water
1 cup warm milk (100 – 110°F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
4 ½ cups (20 ounces) bread flour
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Stir together the water, milk, 1 tablespoon of the oil, eggs, sugar, salt, garlic powder, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in 2 cups of the flour, until it forms a rough, shaggy dough. Using the dough hook on medium-low speed, knead until the dough comes together, adding the remaining flour as it kneads. Turn the speed to medium-high and knead for 5 minutes more. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place in the prepared pan. Brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Let the rolls rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Beef Tenderloin Rosa di Parma

Beef Tenderloin Rosa di Parma
I love serving beef tenderloin for a dinner party. It is usually hands off and always a crowd pleaser.  This is the first time I had ever "stuffed" a beef tenderloin.  It was much easier than I expected it to be. I am usually quite clumsy with a knife, but I was extra careful when fileting the tenderloin.  C still insists I should wear a chainmail glove when I am cutting, he is probably right.  Thanks to Food Republic for the recipe.
Beef Tenderloin Rosa di Parma

1 4 pound whole beef fillet, trimmed
6-8 thin slices prosciutto
2 cups grated parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Place the filet on a cutting board with the short end toward you. Keep the knife parallel to the board, make a cut along one long side of the roast, about two thirds down from the top of the fillet. Do not cut all the way through, leave about one inch on the far side. Flip the fillet over and repeat the cut on the uncut side, about two thirds down from the top of the filet. Again, do not cut all the way throught. Open both cuts and press the fillet into an even thickness and into a rectangle.

Cove the meat with a layer of prosciutto, then spread the Parmesan over top, leaving a one inch border. Starting from the long side, roll up jelly roll style. Tie the roast at two inch intervals with butcher's twine. Allow to rest at room temperature for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly brush the roast all over with the olive oil. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic, sage and rosemary. Rub the roast with the herb mixture. Place in a shallow roasting pan and roast for 25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 120 to 125 degrees for medium-rare. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing. To serve, remove the twine and cut the roast into ½ -inch-thick slices.
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Monday, April 13, 2015

Corn and Chicken Chowder

Corn and Chicken Chowder
Old Bay is one of my weaknesses. I am a Maryland girl at heart, you can put it in almost anything and it makes it so much better. It is ideally poured over blue crabs, but those aren't always available.  This recipe for Corn and Chicken Chowder looked great, but I made quite a few changes.  Fresh corn isn't in season, so I opted for frozen instead, but I will be trying this again this summer with fresh corn.  There is something so delicious about the liquid from the cob, it tastes like summer.  Too bad summer here means 100 degree days, not exactly chowder weather.  Miss F refused all potatoes, but C went back for seconds.  A huge success! 
Corn and Chicken Chowder

6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 10 ounce package of frozen corn
8 scallions, chopped
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk
3 cups chicken broth
2 small or 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
grated cheddar, for garnish

In a large stock pot, fry the bacon pieces until crisp over medium heat. Remove from the pan, reserving the drippings, set aside. Add the corn, the white portion of the scallions and the chicken, sauté until the scallions are softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour, constantly whisking for 1 minute. Pour in the milk and chicken broth, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add the potatoes, Old Bay, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve topped with the bacon, scallion greens and cheddar cheese.
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring Vegetable Carbonara

Spring Vegetable Carbonara
I have been wanting to try Confections of a Foodie Bride's carbonara for the longest time, then last week she posted about asparagus carbonara and I took it as a sign. I added peas to my version and went with a pound of pasta instead of her carb cutting half pound, I knew asparagus would be rejected by Miss F, so the peas worked as her vegetable for the evening. She methodically picked out every piece of asparagus. I had a convinced for a minute that they were green beans, but she caught on too quickly for that scam. As always, we love carbonara. The whole meal comes together in about 15 minutes, which is ideal for the nights when everyone is home late and of course, starving.
Spring Vegetable Carbonara

8 slices of bacon, cut into lardons
½ pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
1 cup frozen peas
¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 pound thin spaghetti
1 egg
3 egg yolks
1 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for plating

In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, set aside. Drain all but one tablespoon of the bacon grease from the skillet. Saute the asparagus and peas for 5 minutes, season with the pepper. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the pasta, reserving the pasta water. Add the pasta to the pan with the vegetables, tossing well. Whisk together the egg and egg yolks, stir into the pasta. Stir in the Parmesan. Add ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water, adding more if necessary. Serve immediately, topped with additional Parmesan.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Crispy Apricot Pork Chops

Crispy Apricot Pork Chops
I am always looking for new ways to make the thick cut pork chops at Costco. I also always seem to have apricot jam on hand (you never know when you NEED apricot baked brie.)  These pork chops from Martha Stewart fit the bill perfectly.  I used my ultra-useful mini-chop to make the breadcrumbs, which I need to do more often.  If you don't have sandwich bread around, store bought breadcrumbs would work just as well, Panko would be great too. 
Crispy Apricot Pork Chops

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
2 slices multigrain sandwich bread
4 bone-in pork loin chops (about 8 ounces each, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick), patted dry
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 teaspoons apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil and set aside. Tear the bread into pieces, then pulse in the food processor until crumbs form. Drizzle with oil, then pulse a time or two, until the crumbs are just moistened. Season each pork chop with salt and pepper, top each with a teaspoon of apricot jam. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the jam, pressing them in gently. Place the pork chops on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, serve immediately.
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Monday, April 6, 2015

Mahi Mahi Tacos

Mahi Mahi Tacos
I am very lucky to have a friend whose husband keeps me well stocked in tuna. And invites us over for crawfish boils (Miss F is particularly pleased about that!) Last time, included with the tuna was a package of Mahi Mahi. Miss F was suspicious, but I told her the fish came from the same man who had made her crawfish the day before...so she was ready to try it. She ate one taco with Mahi and the second with just beans, but she did enjoy it!  As did I.  I kept the fish very simple, this meal comes together in minutes.  I used white corn tortillas, but yellow corn tortillas would be just as great.  I devoured all three of these tacos, we didn't have any leftovers at all.
Mahi Mahi Tacos

1 avocado, seeded and diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound Mahi Mahi, cut into strips

12 corn tortillas

Stir together the avocado, tomato, lime juice and salt. Cover and let sit while you prepare the fish.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss the Mahi in the marinade and let marinate at room temperature for 5 minutes. Preheat the broiler, line a pan with parchment paper. Add the Mahi to the pan, broil for 5 to 7 minutes. Serve in warm tortillas topped with the avocado salsa.
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Friday, April 3, 2015

Artichoke Bruschetta

Artichoke Bruschetta
This appetizer takes all the deliciousness of artichoke dip and makes it into a convenient two bite appetizer. Three delicious cheeses (does cream cheese count as a cheese anyhow?) broiled until golden brown with chopped artichokes sprinkled through.  I love serving bruschetta at a dinner party, it is a crowd pleaser and quite easy to assemble and serve.  I usually prepare the topping in advance, then just bake right before the guests arrive.  I think these may be my new favorite.
Artichoke Bruschetta

1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
1 (14-ounce) can of artichoke hearts (whole, halves, or quarters), drained & chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
dash hot sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
French baguette loaf of bread, cut at an angle into ⅓-inch slices

Beat the cream cheese until smooth, stir in the mayonnaise, artichokes, parmesan, mozzarella, hot sauce and garlic salt. Preheat the broiler to high, spread a tablespoon of the artichoke mixture onto each baguette slice. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and broil for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake

Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake
I have never had coffee. I figure by now, it is one of those things it is best not to get hooked on. Saving the money and the calories. The coffee flavor in this cheesecake is detectable, but the rich chocolate is what really shines through. I was clueless when buying the espresso granules, but there was a cute small package that was priced right. I also have the most adorably small bottle of Kahlua ever.  I know I will make this cheesecake again, it was nearly as good as my mom's chocolate cheesecake. Nearly. Thanks to Tide and Thyme of the spectacular recipe.
Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake

1 cup Oreo crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons whipping cream
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant espresso granules dissolved in ¼ cup hot water
¼ cup Kahlua (or another coffee liqueur)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On the bottom rack, place a 9×13 pan and fill with hot water (this creates a make-shift steam bath) and place the other rack in the middle position. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.

To make the crust, combine the Oreo crumbs, butter and the cinnamon. Mix well and press mixture into the greased springform pan, set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, stir together the chocolate chips and cream. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well after each, until the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add sugar, mixing until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat at low speed until very smooth. Carefully add chocolate mixture, blend well. Stir in sour cream, salt, coffee, Kahlua, and vanilla; beat until combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Bake over the pan of hot water for 45 minutes. Center will be soft but will firm up when chilled. Turn off oven, crack the oven door, and let the cheesecake rest with the door ajar for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 12 hours. Slice and serve.
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