lattice chicken pot pie
Mexican street corn pasta
chicken Ghiveci
creamy chicken tortilla soup, jalapeno jack popovers
butter basted ribeyes, twice baked potatoes, broccoli
brisket tacos, pinto beans
pork souvlaki, naan

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the highlights of the holiday season is my friend's cookie exchange. Everyone brings six dozen cookies, wrapped in packages of three, and we have a huge swap. You return home with 24 different kinds of cookies to enjoy. C and Miss F love pawing through the basket of cookies selecting their favorites. This year was the biggest exchange yet and people really outdid themselves.  There was plenty of Prosecco to sip and an abundance of delicious snacks.  My Uber driver was entertained by me carrying a basket full of cookies, I may have shared a bag with him on the trip home.  This recipe is adapted from All Recipes.  Kroger stocks Salted Caramel Chips, which is what I used in these cookies.  The original recipe calls for chopping up caramel candies, but the chips make it much easier.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 36 cookies

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 ¾ cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
¼ cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup caramel chips (salted caramel if you can find them!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and stir in the vanilla extract. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate and caramel chips. Line baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper. Drop the dough in two tablespoon size balls onto the baking sheets. Bake in the oven until the edges are golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the pans for 5 minutes, transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
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Monday, December 26, 2016

Snow Crab Legs

Miss F and I can easily tear through four pounds of crablegs. Oink Oink.  She still hasn't gotten the hang of cracking them, so I crack them open, half goes to her and half goes to me.  Thankfully, snow crablegs aren't too ridiculously priced at the grocer, so we can afford our crableg habit.  Miss F prefers hers with just lemon juice, while I prefer them with a bit of lemon and drenched in drawn butter.  We prefer to focus on the crab whenever we have them for dinner, but feel free to steam corn in the same pot for a one pot meal. 
Snow Crab Legs

2 cups water
¼ cup vinegar
2 tablespoons Old Bay
2 to 3 pounds snow crab legs
melted butter
lemon wedges

In a large steamer pot, bring the water vinegar and Old Bay to a boil. Add the snow crab legs to the steamer portion of the pot, cover and steam for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges.
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Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Here's our unique Christmas card from this year, we were on White Island in New Zealand, which is an active volcano.  Happy holidays, from my family to yours. SEASONS EATINGS!
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Monday, December 19, 2016

Crown Pork Roast

So who else is insanely busy this holiday season? I made this amazing dish last year for the holidays, but thought it was worth saving to post for the holidays this year. And so I set it to auto post. I uploaded the picture and nothing else. Then it posted. No text, no recipe, no nothing. And I didn't even notice! I have been so scatter brained with all that is going on right now. I dropped a friend off from an after school playdate without her backpack. Oops. I forget lunch plans completely (bonus, my lunch companion forgot as well.) Ack. Is it January yet? If you do find yourself wanting to serve an impressive dish, without much fuss, this is the holiday meal for you. The butcher does all the work! I had to order my crown pork roast, but most grocers should be able to accommodate such requests, especially around the holidays (Whole Foods and Kroger both were able to prepare a crown pork roast) Wishing you all a stress free holiday season!
Crown Pork Roast

8 slices firm white sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch squares
6 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
1 ½ pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into ¼ inch-thick wedges
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

For roast:
1 (9 to 11 pound) crown roast of pork
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

For pan sauce:
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread squares in a shallow baking pan, bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and apples. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, sage and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes more. Stir in the toasted bread and parsley.

Set the oven rack in lower third of oven. Sprinkle roast inside and out with salt and pepper and put in a roasting pan. Mound stuffing in the center cavity. Roast for 1 ¾ to 2 ½ hours, until an instant read meat thermometer reads 155 degrees. Transfer the roast to a carving board, cover with foil.

Place the roasting pan across two burners set to medium. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk together the broth and flour. Stir in the broth and flour mixture into the roasting pan, whisking constantly. Add the salt and pepper, along with any juices from the carving board.

Remove the foil from the roast and carve into chops, serve with the stuffing and pan sauce.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Chipotle Lime Shrimp Fajitas

I am obsessed with having seafood whenever C is out of town. Miss F is equally obsessed, thank goodness, so even though this dish screams summer to me, we had it in December. Which in Houston, is much like summer sometimes, even in the winter (hello, high of 80 degrees this coming Saturday!)  I love the smoky flavor of chipotle, C is not a fan, so even better that I can incorporate it in a dish that he won't be around for.  These fajitas come together in 20 minutes, including marinade time.  It couldn't get any easier!
Chipotle Lime Shrimp Fajitas

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
juice from 1 lime
1 chipotle, minced, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large avocado
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
8 corn tortillas, warmed

In a shallow bowl, toss the shrimp with the lime juice, chipotle, adobo, chili powder, salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp with the marinade and sauté , stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through.  Mash the avocado. Spread each tortilla with the avocado, add the tomato and top with the shrimp. Serve.
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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Flat Iron Steak Peperonata

When I saw this dish on Elly Says Opa, I knew I had to make it right away.  And I knew it would pair perfectly with polenta.  Bell peppers are an easy sell in my house, no matter what the color, so this was a huge success for dinner.  The steak was deliciously tender and the peppers were sweet with a nice tang from the caper brine.  I may have a made a bit of a smoke disaster during cooking, I hate using the exhaust fan because of the noise, but the smoke alarm going off is worse noise, right?
Flat Iron Steak Peperonata

1 (1-pound) flat iron steak
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
½ onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers
pinch of dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil

Cover the steak with the oregano and 1 teaspoon salt, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, capers, red pepper flakes and basil. Transfer the Peperonata to a bowl, cover to keep warm.

Pat the steak dry with a paper towel. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, cook the steak 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Allow the steaks to rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain. Serve the sliced steak with the Peperonata.
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Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Green Beans

The name says it all! Years ago, my friend Kevin made these amazing green beans for dinner. He said that he always served them for the holidays, due to their festive red and green color scheme.  The  green beans come together so quickly and are the perfect addition to your holiday table.  Some of the grapes tomatoes "pop" during the cooking and the sauce they create is divine.  I served them alongside crabcakes for a simple dinner party meal.  I prefer to get the French green beans at Costco, mainly because they are so much more tender than the green beans I get at my grocer.
Christmas Green Beans

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 pint grape tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the greens beans and tomatoes, sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring often, for 4 to 5 minutes. Serve.
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Meatball Pasta Bake

Miss F loves two cooking show: Master Chef Junior and Pioneer Woman. I have tried to get her to watch Barefoot Contessa with me, but she gets bored with it, but I guess I can see that with an eight year old attention's span. As soon as she saw the Pioneer Woman that included this Meatball Pasta Bake, she wanted to make it. I adapted the original recipe quite heavily to better suit it to my cooking style and taste.  This recipe was a huge hit with the family.  I served it with a big salad, it was a great and filling meal. 
Meatball Pasta Bake

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt

1 pound ground beef
½ cup grated parmesan
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 egg

1 pound rigatoni, prepared per package instructions and drained.
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
¼ cup grated parmesan

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the tomato paste, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, basil, parsley, oregano and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer while you prepare the meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir together the beef, parmesan, breadcrumbs and egg. Grease two 24 cup mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Scoop the meatball mixture using a heaping teaspoon, roll into a ball and place into the muffin tin. Repeat with the remaining meat mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Toss the prepared pasta with the tomato sauce. Grease a 9x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the pasta into the dish. Add half of the mozzarella and half of the meatballs to the dish. Top with the remaining pasta. Nestle the remaining mozzarella and meatballs into the pasta. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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