Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dinner at Dave and Francisca's

Chili Night

Francisca and Dave had a dinner party on Friday and as usual everything was wonderful. They fixed 3 different types of chili, black bean and lamb chili, a traditional American chili, and a delicious spicy beanless chili with pork and lots of different chili peppers. For side dishes they had collard greens with garlic and pork shank, and also skillet cornbread. I was in charge of dessert and brought a yummy apple galette.
The evening was nice and mellow, with lots of good company and excellent food. My personal favorite chili was the beanless chili, as it had a rich smoky flavor. Dessert was a big hit and we ended the evening with singing around the piano. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to bring an extra stomach, I couldn’t get enough!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is one of my favorite things to eat. It is such an easy side dish to make and who doesn’t love pasta salad? I made this for Christmas, although it seemed strange eating pasta salad during winter, everyone absolutely loved it, I finished the rest for lunch today.

Pasta Salad

1-16 Ounce Bag Shell Pasta, cooked and cooled
2 Pounds Purple Grapes, cleaned and cut in half
6 Stalks Celery, sliced thin
½ Purple Onion, minced
2 Carrots, peeled and julienned
1 Cup Sliced Almonds


1 ½ Cups Mayonnaise
½ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
6 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
¼-½ Cups Sugar, Depends on how sweet you like your dressing
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper

Make dressing by whisking all ingredients until well combined. Mix all ingredients and pour dressing over top, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. You can add a shredded rotisserie chicken if desired.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Pictures

Wendy and Me wearing our Christmas Antlers
Muppet Sporting his Christmas Bow
The Turkey....Yummy!
Mary serving communion!

So Christmas was an absolute blast. We had lot's of food, and champagne, and ton's of fun. We played the piano, watched Christmas movies, and ended the night with guitar hero, haa haa. I thought I would post a few pictures for everyone.

Clam Chowder

I was a little nervous making clam chowder for Christmas, as I have never made it before, but it turned out really yummy. I pretty much made my potato leek soup, and doctored it up a bit and added some clams, and voila, it was perfect. I would have used fresh clams, but they were extremely expensive, so I opted for the canned version. I don't like how a roux makes soups pasty, so I pureed 1/3 of the soup to make it thick, and a little yellow because there were carrots in there. If you want a true white clam chowder, I would add a roux, or some corn starch mixed with a bit of milk.
Clam Chowder

½ Stick Butter
3 Leeks (white and light green parts), cleaned and chopped
6 Stalks Celery, chopped
6 Carrots, Peeled, cleaned and diced
8 Medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced
2 Teaspoons fresh Thyme Leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Jar Clam Juice, 8 ounce
1 Quart Chicken Stock, 4 cups
4 Cans Chopped Clams, 6 ounces
3 Cups half & half

Melt butter in large stock pot. Add leeks and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add the clam juice and chicken stock, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree 1/3 of the mixture with an immersion blender, or food processor and add back to the pot. Add the clams, with juice, and half &half and heat gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, serve with fresh thyme.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas!!!

I have been really busy getting everything ready for Christmas. I am hosting an “Orphan Christmas” this year as I can’t make it to Idaho to see my family with my work schedule. I am making lots of yummy food for everyone that drops by during the day. We are starting with Crab Cakes and Strata for breakfast, then moving on to Clam Chowder for lunch. For Dinner I am doing a Herb Roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Pasta Salad, Mixed Greens, and then my famous Chocolate Cake for dessert.
Oh, I almost forgot the best part, Cocktails! We are having Peach Bellini’s, Balthazar French Martini’s and also Pear Martini’s.
Cheers to a very Merry Christmas, and I will be posting all these delicious recipes over the next couple weeks!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Herb Crusted Pork Chops

I am a huge fan of pork, but only like it when it has a lot of flavor. In this dish I use herbs de province, one of my favorite seasonings, to bring out all the delicious flavors. The key to really good pork chops is not over cooking them, there is nothing worse than a tough dried-out pork chop! You can also substitute chicken if you are not a huge pork fan. I usually serve a simple mashed potato or mixed green salad with balsamic dressing to make a quick and easy meal.

Herb Crusted Pork Chops

4 Boneless Center Cut Pork Chops, 3/4-1 inch thick
Kosher Salt
Coarse Ground Black Pepper
Herbs de Provence
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, next coat generously with Herbs de Provence. Heat Olive Oil in pan over medium-high heat in heavy bottomed skillet, add pork chops. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side, or until dark golden brown, and an instant read thermometer reads 150 degrees. Let rest covered for a few minutes to re-absorb juices and serve.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bok Choy

I love how easy this side dish is, and it has a ton of flavor. I serve this with any type of meat, or even on its own for a light healthy lunch. What I love about bok choy is that it is packed with flavor, cooks quickly, and does not get soggy like spinach does.

Bok Choy

2 Bok Choy
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Butter
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Teaspoon Coarse Ground Black Pepper

Cut bottom ½ inch from bok choy and rinse stalks under cold water until completely clean, dry on paper towels.
Heat butter in sauté pan over medium high heat until melted, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bok choy, salt and pepper and continue to sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pot Roast & Gravy

Pot roast is one of my favorite meals; I make this year-round, as I can’t stand to only eat it in the winter. I usually serve an extra large portion of my delicious sour cream mashed potatoes and my brussels sprouts with browned butter as sides. By using the vegetable puree and red wine the gravy takes on an extraordinarily flavor that you would never expect. I have been known to completely drown my plate in this delicious gravy because it is so delicious. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do.

Pot Roast & Gravy

5 Pound Beef Roast
2 Yellow Onions, peeled and quartered
4 Carrots, Cleaned and cut into 2 inch pieces
4 Celery Stalks, cleaned and cut into 2 inch pieces
4 Potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered
1/2 Bottle Dry Red Wine, about 2 cups (I like to use Chianti)
2 Quarts Beef Stock
4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley, stalks and leaves separated
Kosher Salt & Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Generously season roast with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium high heat in 6-7 quart cast-iron dutch oven until smoking, add roast and sear all sides, about 3 minutes per side until completely browned, remove meat from pan. Add onions, celery, and carrots to pan and cook until onions start to get tender, about 5 minutes. Next add red wine and deglaze pan, while scraping up browned bits from bottom of the pan. Tie thyme and parsley stalks together with kitchen twine, place in pan. Next add roast back to pan, along with potatoes, add enough beef stock to just cover meat, cover with lid. Place in pre-heated 350 degree oven and bake for 3-4 hours or until beef is very tender. Remove beef from stock, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes, then slice and serve with gravy.


Strain out all vegetables and discard thyme/parsley bundle. Reduce stock by half by boiling over high heat on stove-top for about 10 minutes. Take half the cooked vegetables and puree in food processor, add to beef stock. Mix ¼ cup flour with ½ cup milk with whisk until well combined, slowly pour, while constantly whisking into stock, bring to boil and continue to whisk until thickened, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lumpia (Filipino Egg Rolls)

This recipe is from my friend Taven’s mom, a native of Hawaii. She is an amazing cook and I am so blessed to have been shown this recipe. My amounts are what I remember, as she doesn’t really measure anything. What I love about egg rolls is you can really improvise and change up any of the ingredients with things that you love. I made over one hundred of these for my Christmas party a couple weeks ago and they were a huge hit! Please enjoy this yummy treat.

Lumpia (Filipino Egg Rolls)

1 Pound Ground Beef
1 Pound Ground Pork
1 Bunch Scallions (Green Onions), cleaned and chopped into 1/8 inch slices
4 Stalks Celery, cut in half lengthwise and then into ¼ inch slices
2 Carrots, peeled and shredded
1 Pound French Cut Green Beans, frozen
1 Pound Bean Sprouts
1 16 ounce can Bamboo Shoots, julienned
1 16 Ounce Can Water Chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Pepper
1 Package Frozen Lumpia Wrappers (I like to use Menlo Brand)
Vegetable Oil

In large frying pan brown beef and pork, drain off grease and place in large mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan and sauté scallions, celery, and carrots until tender, about 5 minutes, remove add to bowl with meat. Add 2 more tablespoons oil to pan and sauté green beans until tender, about 6-8 minutes, add bean sprouts and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until tender. Add water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots, continue to cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to meat mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, mix well, and place in refrigerator until cool, about 1 hour.
Beat 1 egg with 2 tablespoons water in small bowl. Brush lumpia wrapper with egg wash, place 3 tablespoons meat mixture into wrapper, and wrap tightly (follow directions on inside of package). Continue rolling lumpia until all filling is gone.
Heat 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees in large heavy pot. Working in batches add a few lumpia to the oil at a time and fry until dark golden brown, about 5 minutes, drain on paper towels or wire rack, serve with soy sauce.
Lumpia can be cooled in refrigerator and re-heated in 375 degree oven for 10-12, minutes or until crispy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chocolate Truffles

I’m so happy to be feeling better, my hand is healing very nicely and I am getting back in the kitchen!
I am going to a Christmas party tonight, and decided to make these delicious chocolate truffles, one of my favorite sweet indulgences. They always look tough to make, but are super easy, so go ahead and try them out! You can use dark, or milk chocolate if you prefer, or mix to your liking. I like the semi-sweet because dark chocolate is just a little too rich for me and milk chocolate is too sweet. These are also delicious with a little almond or hazelnut extract, or you can use any flavoring you like.

Chocolate Truffles

2 Pounds Semi-Sweet Chocolate, cut into small chunks (I used Ghirardelli)
2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Brewed Coffee
1 Cup Chocolate Baking Powder
1 Cup Nuts, chopped (I used hazelnuts)

Heat cream in medium sized sauce pan over medium heat until bubbles start forming around the edge, remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Next add vanilla extract and coffee. Place into large shallow dish and refrigerate until cold and set up, about 3 hours.
Scoop teaspoonful sized balls out, or use small melon baller and then roll with hands until ball form is shaped. Next roll truffles in powdered baking chocolate or nuts to coat. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
Makes about 60 truffles, recipe can be divided in half.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


So I had an incident with my new Shun knife this last week :( Unfortunately I can't type very easily, so I will not be posting as many recipes as I normally do. I am recovering this week and may have to have some reconstructive surgery next week, I will keep you all posted. I will try to get a few recipes typed up that I have pictures for so you have something new to try out. Cheers to a quick recovery!