Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey with Stuffing & Gravy


It’s that time of year again, get your turkey, stuff it, put it in the oven, cross your fingers, pray, meditate, do a little dance and hope that you don’t ruin everything on Thanksgiving day. I’m totally kidding of course!
It seems that November is suddenly over, so I thought I would at least wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving and show you what I do every year for dinner. My family is coming up from Boise, so I'll be in the the kitchen cooking away, I can't wait! I do have several posts I need to get typed up, so December should be full of yummy new recipes. Now on for my family's traditional Thanksgiving dinner...
Making a turkey can seem very daunting, and I was horrified when I threw my first Thanksgiving for 12 people when I was 19 years old! All I can say is take a deep breath, read how EASY it is to cook the perfect turkey, then sit back, relax, and enjoy the delicious aroma that will put you into an immediate happy place.
I use the most magical cooking tool ever, the Reynolds Oven Bag! I don’t have time to baste the turkey every 15 minutes. I have cooked over 20 turkeys in Reynolds Bags and they have turned out perfect and juicy every single time.
The stuffing recipe is from my grandmother and I always serve my delicious mashed potatoes and a few other side dishes that guests bring. Enjoy!

Turkey and Stuffing

1 Large Turkey (I usually get a 20 pound turkey to serve 10-12 people with left over’s)
2 Yellow Onions, diced
2 Large Carrots, cleaned, peeled, and shredded
4 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Stick Butter, melted
2 Loaves White Bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 Box ‘Jiffy Mix’ Corn Bread, baked as a ‘Johnny Cake”, cut into ½ inch cubes
4 Extra Large Eggs, lightly whipped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Salt
1 Tablespoon Pepper
Turkey Seasoning, such as Herbs de Provence (optional)
Reynolds Turkey Sized Oven Bag

Make sure to unthaw your turkey, it takes about 5-6 DAYS to unthaw your 20 pound bird in the fridge, so plan ahead. Remove turkey from plastic and take out all innards inside the cavity and throw away. Clean bird thoroughly, especially the cavity of the turkey, and remove any feathers that might be hanging out under the wings or legs of the bird. Pat your turkey dry with paper towels, inside and out, set aside.
For the stuffing, sauté onions in a large sauté pan with 3 Tablespoons olive oil for about 3 minutes over medium high heat, then add celery and continue cooking until onions are transparent and celery is just slightly softened, about 4 more minutes, remove from heat.
In a very large bowl add the diced bread, cornbread, eggs and melted butter, stir until well combined (bread should stick together slightly. Next add onion/celery mixture and salt and pepper, mix thoroughly. Taste stuffing, it should be well flavored, add more salt if necessary.
Generously salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity and then place stuffing mixture into the cavity and under the backside of the bird, secure flap of skin with skewer or toothpicks. Now drizzle olive oil all over the turkey and rub in with your hands to ensure every part is covered. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. If desired sprinkle with a dried turkey herb mixture (such as herbs de Provence). Put turkey into bag, place on large cookie sheet or roasting pan and cook as directed on Reynolds bag package.
When turkey is done cooking, cut corner of bag open and pour juices from turkey into large saucepan, let turkey rest while you make the gravy. When gravy is complete, move turkey to serving platter and enjoy!

Gravy

Drippings from Turkey
1-2 Quarts Chicken Stock
¼ Cup Flour
½ Cup Milk
Salt & Pepper

Take large saucepan with turkey juices and place over high heat, add 1-2 quarts of chicken stock to make the amount of gravy necessary for your party. To thicken gravy, mix flour and milk together with whisk until well combined, pour into stock, bring to a boil while continually whisking. Gravy will thicken once it has come to a boil. If gravy is not thick enough add more flour/milk mixture. When gravy reaches desired consistency, flavor with generous amounts of salt and pepper (don’t be shy here, or your gravy will be bland!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Roast Squash


Roast squash is one of my favorite fall items, I love the sweet yummy flavor that it has. I like how versatile it is because you can use it as a side dish, a snack or like I have done here, added to a salad. Taking the skin off the squash is the hardest part of the process, make sure you have a very sharp knife or heavy duty vegetable peeler!

Roast Squash

1 Squash (Acorn or Butternut are my favorites)
Olive Oil
Brown Sugar
Salt

Cut squash in half, remove seeds and skin. Cut into 3/4 inch cubes and place on a non-stick baking pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and then lightly sprinkle with salt and brown sugar. Bake at 400 degrees until sugar starts to caramelize and squash is just tender, about 20-30 minutes. Serve hot or let cool and use on salads or enjoy as a snack.

I made a simple salad using some mixed greens, a seared steak and a pungent blue cheese...the sweet squash and blue cheese together were to die for!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

I was looking through my new Sur la Table catalog a couple weeks ago and stumbled upon the "Wild Boar Ragu Kit" which would set you back $80, yikes!!! This immediately made me curious about a two things...Can I make this with beef instead (yes), and can I make this dinner more amazing for less than $80 (yes)...which led me to this recipe. Then I realized that the "kit" didn't include the fresh veggies, wine, or stock you would actually need to make this amazing dish, adding another $20+ to your meal. Normally I don't squawk at the prices of good ingredients, but I was a little shocked that the kit had so little, at such a large price (and working for Williams Sonoma Inc...I'm used to expensive foods and such).
Ok, I'll get off my soap box now and talk about the important things, like this outstanding recipe! In my attempt at serching the interweb I found many recipes that peaked my interest, but ultimately ended up doing a little of this, and a little of that to create my own "Beef Ragu with Pappardelle." I must admit that it's a time consuming recipe, but if you enjoy puttering in the kitchen on a day off; this is the perfect Fall meal. I almost fainted mid-cooking because the aroma of the dish wafting throughout the house was completely intoxicating! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

3 Pound Beef Chuck Roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Basil Leaves
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Sprigs Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
2 Large Carrots, peeled & diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Onion, diced
2 Shallots, diced
1 Pound Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 Tablespoon Flour
4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 16 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Bottle Cabernet Wine
1/2 Head Garlic, cloves peeled and separated
4 Cups Beef Stock
1 Pound Fresh Pappardelle, or other fresh pasta
Chopped Parsley
8 Ounces Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
8 Ounces Pecorino Romano Cheese Curls

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Place a large 6-8 Quart Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add oil and heat until it is almost smoking. Season beef generously with salt and pepper. Working in 2 separate batches, add beef to the hot oil cook until browned on all sides. Remove from Dutch oven and transfer to a plate and set aside, continue with next batch, remove from pan.


Place rosemary, thyme, and parsley together and tie with kitchen string, set aside. Add carrots, celery, onion, shallots, and mushrooms to Dutch oven and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasioinally, until vegetables are softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Add wine; stir with wooden spoon until all browned bits have been scraped from the pan. Add tomatoes, garlic, beef stock, herbs, bay leaves, and galic cloves. Return meat to the Dutch oven and bring to a simer over medium-high heat. Cover the dish and place in the oven. Cook until beef is tender, about 3 hours.


Place the Dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat and simmer until reduced by half and thickened. Using a wooden spoon press the meat against the side of the pot to break up into shredded pieces. Remove the herbs and bay leaves and turn to low.

Fill a large pot with water and cook pasta until just al-dente, add to ragu and stir with shredded romano cheese to combine. Serve in large bowls with chopped parsley and shaved romano cheese as a garnish.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pork Loin

I personally think pork should be illegal because it is so delicious! I think I could eat it every day, especially if it came in bacon form. I decided to do a more healthy pork lunch last Sunday that was really quick and easy to make. I simply roasted a pork loin with some herbs and it was amazing. The key to really good pork loin is to not over-cook it, as it dries out very quickly once it gets overdone. Also, giving it a good rest after cooking helps drive the juices back into the meat as well. Since I was making this for lunch I wanted an easy side dish to go along side, so I made my yummy Oven Fries and an arugula salad with my House Dressing. Enjoy!

Pork Loin

3 Pound Pork Loin
Olive Oil
Salt
Herbs de Provence

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously salt pork loin and then cover with herbs de provence. In a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat add enough olive oil to just coat bottom of pan. Add pork loin and sear on all sides until golden brown. Transfer the pork loin to the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature reads 145 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove, cover tightly with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving (meat will continue to cook while resting).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Guacamole


I love guacamole and could just sit in front of a large bowl of it and eat myself like it's Thanksgiving. Luckily I don't make it that often, so I'm not that out of control! This is a very simple recipe and you need to make this with my favorite Salsa recipe which was just recently posted. I like my guacamole a little chunky, but feel free to process the avocados as much or as little as you like. You will also notice that I left the avocado seed in my guacamole...did you know this helps it from turning brown?

Guacamole

4 Ripe Avocados
Roma Tomato
Juice from 1/2 fresh Lime
1/4 Cup Salsa
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin

Cut avocados in half and remove the seed. Next cut avocado into cubes while still in the skin, then scoop into bowl with a large spoon. Using a fork smash the avocados to desired consistency. Cut tomato in half, remove stem and seeds, then cut into a fine dice, add to bowl. Add the lime juice, salsa, garlic salt, and cumin and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasoning with salt. Let sit for a few minutes before serving so flavors all meld together.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Salsa

I have been making this salsa recipe for years and it seems to be ever-evolving, as I like to experiment with different peppers, roasting, and variations, but this is my favorite salsa. It is inspired by my friend Silvia's salsa (which is a secret recipe) but I have tweaked it enough that I feel comfortable sharing this recipe with you all. I like to roast all my veggies so it adds a bit of smoky flavor to the dish, and what I've been doing recently is using more peppers, but removing all the seeds and ribs so it's not too spicy. I hope you enjoy this as much as my friends and I do!

Salsa

1/2 Sweet Onion, skin removed and cut into two thick slices
2 Roma Tomatoes, cut in half and seeded
2 Jalapeno Peppers, stemmed seeded and ribs removed
1 Serrano Pepper, stemmed seeded and ribs removed
1 Poblano Pepper, stemmed seeded and ribs removed
1 Large Clove Garlic
1/2 Bunch Cilantro
28 Ounce Can Tomato Sauce
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin

Turn broiler on high to pre-heat. Cover a large baking sheet with foil and place onion, tomaotes and all peppers skin side up on tray. Broil until peppers are blackened and onion and tomato are slightly charred. Place roasted veggies into the bowl of a food processor (or blender) and pulse until just chopped up. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well chopped. Add more salt if necessary, enjoy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mole Verde

This recipe is a lot of work, but well worth it. I love the rich flavor of the mole sauce and it is different than anything I have ever tasted. The main base of the mole sauce is pumpkin seeds, which is unusual, but they give a lot of flavor to the dish. You can find raw pumpkin seeds at your Whole Foods market or you can order them online. I think this would also be really yummy with pork, but it's traditionally served with chicken. For a side dish I made my Spanish Rice (except I added black beans instead of peas) and then of course I had to make salsa and guacamole to go along with it.
This recipe is from the book "Authentic Mexican" by Rick Bayless (a must have for those of you who like traditional Mexican food!)

Mole Verde

1 Cup Pumpkin Seeds, hulled and unroasted
13 Ounce Can Tomatillos, drained
3 Serrano Chilies, seeded
5 Large Romaine Lettuce Leaves
1/2 Medium Onion, roughly chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 Large Sprigs Fresh Cilantro
1/4 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
6 Black Peppercorns
3/4 Inch Cinnamon Stick
2 Cloves
1 1/2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Chicken

4 Chicken Breasts, bone in
1 Small Onion
1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Start by cooking the chicken: Bring 6 cups water and the salt to a boil in a large saucepan with the diced onion. Add the chicken breasts, skim off any grayish foam that rises during the first minute of simmering, partially cover and simmer over medium heat for about 12 minutes, until the breasts are barely done. Let chicken cool in the broth. Remove, strain the broth, then spoon off all the fat that rises to the top.
Mole: Heat a medium skillet over medium-low for several minutes, then pour in the pumpkin seeds in a single layer. When the first one pops, stir them constantly for 4-5 minutes, until all have toasted and popped. Cool completely. In batches, pulverize the seeds in a spice grinder. sift through a medium-mesh sieve, then stir in 1 cup of the broth.
Drain canned tomatillos and place in the blender or food processor with the raw chiles. Tear the lettuce leaves into rough pieces and add to the tomatillows along with the onion,garlic and cilantro. Pulverize the spices in a mortar or spice grinder, add to the blender then process until smooth.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium. When hot, add the pumpkin seed broth mixture and stir constantly as it thickens and darkens, 4-5 minutes. Add the vegetable puree and stir a few minutes longer, until very thick.
Stir in 2 cup of the chicken broth, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes. Season with the salt and, if necessary, thin to a light consistency with a little broth.
Just before serving, add the chkicken to the simmering sauce. When heated through, remove the breasts to a warm serving platter, spoon the sauce over them and garnish with a sprig of cilantro.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chicken Parmesan


I'm laughing a little bit right now because I am realizing how many chicken recipes I've been making lately...I guess I'm on a chicken craving or something! At least I mix it up a bit and make different versions, so it doesn't really count-right?
I made a batch of my yummy Tomato Meat Sauce and the thoughts of it on plain pasta for left-overs just didn't sound too good so I decided to mix it up a bit and make chicken parmesan. This is such a sinful dish because you bread and fry the chicken and then top it off with melted cheese, but it sure is tasty! I just wouldn't recommend it very often:) I did do a small side of pasta and some mixed greens sauteed with butter and garlic, so it was a little balanced.

Chicken Parmesan

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Batch Tomato Meat Sauce (or 1 jar of your favorite store bought pasta sauce)
2 Eggs
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
Oil

Start by heating up the pasta sauce and keep warm on the stove. Next to prepare the chicken place one breast in a large zip lock bag and pound to 1/2 inch thickness, do the same with the second chicken breast. Next break the eggs and beat on a large plate or dish, set aside. For the breading combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese on another large plate. Coat the chicken breasts with the eggs and then dredge in the bread crumb mixture pressing to coat evenly. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil over medium high heat, place chicken in oil and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes and flip and cook other side until golden brown, another 3-4 minutes, then drain on a paper towel for a minute.
Next turn your broiler on high. Place the chiken breasts on a heavy baking sheet, spoon enough pasta sauce over the chicken to coat, then sprinkle with the mozzarell cheese. Place in the oven and broil until cheese is melted and starts to turn golden, just a minute or two. Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas


There is nothing better than a good chicken enchilada, at least I think so. I was wanting a quick Mexican dinner and decided to whip up a batch of chicken enchiladas. I did cheat a little bit, actually quite a bit, but who cares, right? I started off with a rotisserie chicken, so I wouldn't have to cook my own chicken and used store bought enchilada sauce instead of making my own. They turned out pretty darn good if you ask me! They literally took 20 minutes to assemble and a few minutes in the oven so it's a great week night meal.

Chicken Enchiladas

1 Rotisserie Chicken, skinned and shredded
1 28 Ounce Can Enchilada Sauce
1 13 Ounce Can Enchilada Sauce
12-14 Corn Tortillas
8 Ounce Package Cotija Cheese

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. To make the enchiladas, start by mixing the shredded chicken with the small can of enchilada sauce, set aside. Crumble the Cotija cheese and set aside and coat the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish with enchilada sauce.


Spoon a good amount of the chicken into the tortilla and top with a bit of the Cotija cheese, fold edges in to cover and place seam-side down into the baking dish.


Continue with the rest of the tortillas until pan is full. Now pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas to cover evenly. sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake until hot an bubbly, about 30 minutes or so. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Easy Roast Chicken


I think it's quite funny that I have been writing a food blog for two years, cooking for 20 and never in my life have I roasted a whole chicken! I have made a couple versions of roasted Cornish hens, I've whipped up a ton of Thanksgiving Turkeys, and I've made MANY chicken recipes, just never the basic roast chicken. I knew it was easy to roast a chicken, I mean seriously, how much different is it than roasting a turkey, or a chicken breast? I wanted simple, flavorful crispy skin, and decided to use very basic ingredients. It turned out moist, tender, and made the house smell absolutely delicious!

Easy Roast Chicken

1 Chicken
1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
Kosher Salt
Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Clean chicken thoroughly removing all innards, wash and pat dry with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper the cavity of the bird, then tie legs together with kitchen twine and fold wing tips underneath the bird. Next drizzle outside of bird with olive oil to coat, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs. Place bird on a roasting or wire rack rack on a foil lined baking sheet (makes clean up so much easier!). Roast chicken in a pre-heated 375 degree oven until liquids run clear, and a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees, about 45 minutes. Tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes for the juices to go back into the bird. Slice meat and serve, bon appetite!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

I found this amazing recipe on Recipe from OurBestBites.com and had to immediately go to the kitchen and whip it up. I’m not much of a bread maker, but I thought this recipe was so easy and delicious I had to give it a try. I was completely shocked at how amazing the bread turned out, it had the perfect texture, flavor, and my friend Patti and I gobbled it up. I served it on a plate with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You must try this one out, it’s so good…I’ve been craving it ever since.


Rosemary Focaccia Bread


1 Cup Warm Water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 Tablespoon Yeast

1 Tablespoon Sugar

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt, plus more for sprinkling

2 Tablespoons Butter, divided

2 Tablespoons Crushed Dry Rosemary

2 1/4-2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour



In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Allow to stand for 10 minutes or until bubbly. While the yeast is getting bubbly, combine 2 C of the flour, salt, 1 Tbsp. rosemary.

Add flour mixture to yeast mixture along with 1 Tbsp. melted butter. Mix well. (I put it in my stand mixer with the dough hook on). Slowly add remaining flour to make a very soft dough--try and resist the urge to add too much flour. You probably won't use the entire extra 1/2 c. of flour. I usually only use about 1/4 cup. You want a soft, wet dough.

Cover and allow to rise 1 hour.

Lightly flour work surface and transfer dough onto this surface. Divide in half. Shape each half into a round loaf and place on a greased cookie sheet or pizza stone. Cover and allow to rise another 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter and mix with remaining tablespoon of rosemary. Brush on loaves and sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until very lightly golden-brown. Serve immediately (if you can) with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (if you want) and feel your butt get bigger (you will. It just happens. And it's worth it.)





Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chicken Marsala

I think the hardest question to answer (and I get this question a lot) is "what's your favorite thing to make?" Well, I don't really have a favorite thing to make, as I love being in the kitchen making anything, but chicken marsala would definitely be one of my top 5 favorite things to eat! I have been making chicken marsala for years, and I don't think I will ever get tired of it. I learned how to make this dish way back when I had my first job as a dishwasher at an Italian restaurant in Yakima, Washington when I was 15. I know I was the dishwasher, but I was also very good at putting my nose in the kitchen and learning lots and lots of valuable cooking tips. To this day, I think that was the best job I ever had because I learned how to make numerous recipes and desserts. The owner Diane was very sweet, and was always willing to let me ask questions and show me how to make her delicious recipes, and I will always be greatful for that.

Chicken Marsala

4 Boneless Skineless Chicken Breasts
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
3 Green Onions, finely chopped
1 Pound Crimini Mushrooms, sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
12 Ounces Marsala Wine (I just buy the 12 ounce bottle of marsala cooking wine which is kept by the vinegars in the grocery store)
1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
Oil (for frying the chicken)
Flour
Salt & Pepper

Place a large heavy bottomed frying pan (do not use non-stick) over medium high heat and add the butter, garlic, green onion, and mushrooms, saute until mushrooms are just barely soft-Remove from pan.
Next, place about 2 cups flour in a paper or plastic bag along with a tablespoon salt and pepper and shake to combine. Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour to coat. Heat 1/4 inch oil in your frying pan over medium-high heat and add chicken. Cook chicken until golden brown and fully cooked, about 12 -15 minutes total. Remove chicken from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain any remaining oil from the pan and place back on the stove over high heat. Deglaze the pan with the marsala wine-IT MAY IGNITE-please be careful! Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan and let the alcohol burn off. Now add 3 tablespoons of the flour mixture to the chicken broth and whisk together then add to the pan. Using a whisk stir constantly until marsala sauce comes to a boil and starts to thicken-just a couple minutes. Add mushrooms back into the pan and season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve place the chicken on a plate and spoon a generous amount of mushrooms and sauce over the top, enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Greek Taziki Sauce & Appetizer

I had a mad craving for Greek food the other day and decided that instead of going out to eat I would cook and invite a couple friends over. I love that Greek food can be really simple or really complicated to make, and being lazy I went with the easy recipes. I decided to make my personal favorite Taziki sauce and then I just added onto that with olives, fresh veggies, hummus, pita bread, feta cheese, and some lamb burgers so we could turn this appetizer into a meal by making gyros. It was so nice to be able to just sit outside in the backyard and relax and graze on the appetizer, which so easily transitioned into dinner. This would also be a great appetizer if your throwing a large party, or need a heavy snack during mid-day. Opa!


Greek Taziki Sauce

4 Cups Whole Milk Yogurt
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice From 1/2 Lemon
1/2 Teaspoon Salt

The secret to making a good thick taziki sauce is to drain the yogurt first. Simply line a colander with 2 layers of paper towels and dump in yogurt. Let drain over a bowl for 2 hours, you will lose half the volume of the yogurt, so make sure to use the full 4 cups.
Next place the thickened yogurt into a mixing bowl, add the garlic, cucumber, olive oil, lemon and salt and stir until well combined. Cover and let rest for at least one hour before serving so that the flavors can develop (the longer it sits the more pronounced the garlic will be). Stir again and place into your desired serving dish.
To make a full appetizer plate cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, fetta cheese, and warm pita bread and hummus, and serve.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And The Winner Is...

I feel just horrible that I am doing this late, but it's better late than never, right? I have been living at work the last couple of days, and I completely spaced doing the drawing...oops!


Well without further ado, her is my little munchkin Muppet to pick the lucky winner! I think he was a bit nervous...


And the lucky winner is Pam-For the Love of Cooking. Congratulations Pam, Yeah, Meow!!!



I think Muppet had more fun playing with the papers than doing the drawing! Oh life as a cat is so rough sometimes!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Peach & Berry Crumble


I absolutely love berries, all types of berries and it's definitely berry season here in Portland. I was having friends over for dinner last week and saw all these delicious blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries at the grocery store, and had instant inspiration for dessert. I then walked by the peaches and immediately picked up a bag of those too and put some of my berries back, (as I have a weakness for peaches as well and just couldn't decide on one or the other!)
I love the more traditional biscuit type of topping that my mom usually makes, but was really swayed when I saw Darlene's delicious little berry crumbles, which you can read about here that she posted on here blog, so decided to go that route instead. Well, the end result was absolutely amazing. I have to admit that we only ate half the dessert during my little dinner party and I ended up having the other half all week for breakfast and dessert!

Peach & Berry Crumble

Filling
6 Fresh Peaches, peeled and sliced into wedges
1 Pint Blueberries
1/2 Pint Raspberries
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Flour

Crumble Topping
1 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cups Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Oats
1 Stick Butter, diced

Combine the peaches, blueberries, raspberries, sugar and flour in a large bowl stirring gently, then place into a large greased baking dish or 9x13 inch baking pan.
To make crumble topping combine all dry ingredients, next cut in the butter and mix with hands until mixture resembles small pebbles. Pour topping evenly over fruit.
Bake crumble in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until bubbling and topping is dark golden brown. (I always put my dish on a foil covered baking pan just in case it bubbles over.) Let cool slightly and serve alone or with ice cream if desired!




Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday Blog & Cookbook Giveaway!


Where does time go? I just can't believe that my blog is already 2 years old, Happy Birthday Blog!!!! I have enjoyed capturing all my cooking adventures on film and actually writing up the recipes so I can re-create them instead of wonder "what did I put in that dish?"
Also, I have met many wonderful blogger-friends which brings me to my Giveaway! I am going to put everyone that posts a comment on this posting into a hat and pull out a lucky winner. What's the prize? One of my favorite cookbooks, Tyler's Ultimate, which has beautiful pictures and a variety of recipes that are easy to follow and down to earth. Please provide a link to your blog, or your email address so I can contact you if your name is drawn. I will be picking and announcing the lucky winner Monday, July 20th!
Good Luck!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

There is nothing better than that first sweet taste of fresh corn on the cob during summer. I just picked up some corn on a whim when I was at the store this week and crossed my fingers that it would be sweet and delicious, well I was not disappointed! I love corn grilled, boiled, baked in foil, actually any which way, but this is my favorite way to prepare it.

Corn on the Cob

Corn
Butter
Parmesan Cheese
Paprika

Cook the corn your favorite way, I usually husk mine and just throw it on the grill, but it was raining so I couldn't, so I boiled it for a few minutes. Next cover it in butter, Parmesan cheese and paprika. The saltiness of the cheese really brings out sweetness in the corn and the paprika just adds a hint of interest. Please enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dark & Stormy


Do you ever go out for dinner, have a drink and wonder what was in it? Well I had that experience recently at Toro Bravo, a local Tapas Restaurant. I had a drink called the Dark and Stormy, and yes I ordered it just because of the name! I was surprised with the simplicity of ingredients and the wonderful full flavors that drink has to offer. I had a couple friends over and decided to make this as our featured cocktail. It's refreshing and perfect for a hot summer afternoon!
In reading recipes there is quite a debate on wether to use lime or not, I went ahead and put it in, as I always love the bright citris flavor it adds. Also, it is said that you must use Goslings Black Seal Rum and Ginger Beer, no othere substite will do. I personally think any high quality dark rum would be just fine. I could only find ginger beer at Whole Foods and New Seasons, my regular grocer only sold ginger ale, which is much different. Cheers!

Dark & Stormy

2 Ounces Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 12 Ounce Bottle Ginger Beer
Ice
Lemon

Fill a large tumbler with ice, add rum and ginger beer, stir. Add lemon as garnish, if desired.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cornbread and Fig Stuffed Cornish Game Hens


Do you ever wish you had 34 hours in a day instead of 24? I have been feeling that way this entire year! I have hardly cooked anything, let alone tried out new recipes (hence the lack of newness on my blog) and am really bummed about it. I have been working a lot and quite frankly when I get home I’m ready to go to bed! Even this last week on my day off I went on a scavenger hunt in my freezer and discovered a batch of alfredo sauce, so I just boiled some pasta and dinner was served. That was pretty darn fancy compared to my meals as of late, but I thought it might be a little crazy to post “leftovers from my freezer” as a blog entry. Hopefully I can figure out a better schedule and get inspired in the kitchen again. I have tons of recipes on the back burner I’m dying to try so I really do need to hit up the grocery store and start cooking.

Ok, now on to the exciting part of this entry, the stuffed Cornish game hens. I was watching the Food Network and saw Tyler make these delightful treats and decided to whip them up for a dinner party that I had forever ago. The stuffing is a very nice combination of sweet and savory because it is made with cornbread, figs, and sausage, so you really get a nice hit of flavor from all these different ingredients. I tried the glaze that he used, which is quite a bit of work to be honest and think next time I make this dish I will simply coat the hens with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped rosemary.


Cornbread & Fig Stuffed Cornish Game Hens


1 1/2 Cups Dried Figs, pitted and roughly chopped

1/4 Cup Honey

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

3 Cups Warm Water

1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter

Salt & Pepper


Stuffing


2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Small Onion, Minced

1 Tablespoon Rosemary Leaves

1 Pound Sweet Italian Sausage

2 Tablespoons Flour

1 8x8 Inch Pan Cornbread

1 Cup Rehydrated Figs, Chopped

Salt

Pepper

1 Egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup Heavy Cream

1/2Cup Chicken Stock

4 Cornish Game Hens, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each

4 Tablespoons Butter, softened

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Begin by re-hydrating the figs. In a large mixing bowl add the figs, honey, lemon juice and cover with warm water. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 to 25 minutes until the figs are tender and soft. Strain the figs and reserve the liquid - as this will be the base for the glaze.

To make the stuffing, heat a little extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat and gently sauté the onions with rosemary. Add the sweet Italian sausage and continue to sauté until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. When done, scrape it all into a large mixing bowl, add the cornbread pieces and figs and season well with salt and pepper. Give it a good toss until it's well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, cream, and stock, and pour that over the cornbread. Stir the stuffing together and set it aside while you work on the hens.

Wash and clean the birds. Season the cavities with salt and pepper and fill with stuffing. Dot the top of each bird with butter and season with salt and pepper. Lay out on a roasting tray and pop into the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. While they are roasting, set the fig liquid over medium-high heat and add balsamic and butter. Reduce until syrupy and baste the birds with 10 minutes to go. When done, an instant-read thermometer should registers 160 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.