Thursday, December 11, 2008

BB: Coq Au Vin

This weeks choice was brought to us by Bethany of this little piggy went to market. She chose Coq Au Vin. I have never had this before, but had always heard that it was so complicated and took so long to prepare. Like a 2 day process, which seems a little ridiculous. But anyway, this one was simple and delicious! I did a few things different than what the recipe called for, but is that a suprise to anyone?!? I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, I forgot to get carrots when I went shopping, and I omitted the alcohol. I am not a fan of cooked red wine and I didn't have any brandy.

Plus, I ate all the pancetta while I waited for the onions to cook. Oops! Hey, it is on my diet! I served the Coq Au Vin on top of garlic mashed cauliflower. Seriouly...such a good dish. Great choice Bethany!!!!

Olive oil
4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions.

In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

BB: Better late than never!

Made it....just by the skin of my teeth! At least on the west coast it is still November 30.

This month's selection was brought to us by Kelly from Baking with the Boys and Judy from Judy's Gross Eats.

Kelly chose Herb-Roasted Onions. I love onions! Michael however does not. Boy is he missing out. Since I waited until the last minute, I thought I would add the onions to the soup that Judy chose. I left out some of the herbs that the recipe called for. Still, I snuck a few before I put them in the soup and they were delicious!

Herb-Roasted Onions

Ina Garten

2 red onions
1 yellow onion (I used all yellow)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves (I ommitted this)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves (I ommitted this)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a bowl.
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned. Toss the onions once during cooking. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.

Judy chose Mexican Chicken Soup. I am a big fan of this kind of soup. I was hoping this would live up to my expectations. It fell a little short. I liked it, but it was missing something. I didn't use the cilantro, but that wasn't what was missing.

Mexican Chicken Soup

Ina Garten

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (I used boneless skinless and I poached them)
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas
For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

I liked the flavor that the roasted onions brought to the soup. Overall it was a good mexican inspired chicken soup, but not something I would probably make again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

BB: Vegetable Pot Pie

This weeks choice was brought to you by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. She chose a yummy Vegetable Pot Pie. Now, I have to be honest, I have always been a little suspicious of pot pies. What are the trying to hide under that yummy crust? When it is a chickenor turkey pot pie I always think they are trying to sneek in dark meat. I do not like dark grosses me out to no end.

But this one I had control over. I got to pick what went into it...and believe you dark meat went into this recipe!

Vegetable Pot Pie
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties
Serves 4
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 cups sliced yellow onions (2 onions)
1 fennel bulb, top and core removed, thinly sliced crosswise (I ommitted this)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups good chicken stock
1 tablespoon Pernod (I ommitted this)
pinch saffron threads
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups large-diced potatoes (1/2 pound) (I ommitted this)
1 1/2 cups asparagus tips (I ommitted this)
1 1/2 cups peeled, 3/4-inch-diced carrots (4 carrots) (I ommitted this)
1 1/2 cups peeled, 3/4-inch-diced butternut squash (I ommitted this)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions (1/2 pound) (I ommitted this)
1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

I subbed out the veggies for what looked good at the farmer's market that morning. I used broccoli and cauliflower.

For the pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and saute until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, Pernod, saffron, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and season to taste. The sauce should be highly seasoned.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Lift out with a sieve. Add the asparagus, carrots, and squash to the pot and cook in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well. Add the potatoes, mixed vegetables, onions, and parsley to the sauce and mix well.
For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the sides, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

I made one large pot pie. I didn't have large enough dishes to do individual pot pies. I also added

chicken. And, I cheated...I didn't make the crust. I had 2 pie crusts in my freezer that were about to expire, so I wanted to use them up.

Michael loved it! Woo hoo!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

BB: Easy Cheese Danishes

This is a bonus recipe! Val of More than Burnt Toast referred most people to the Barefoot Bloggers website in October. She chose a dish that I knew Michael would LOVE! Most times when we go to Starbucks he gets a cheese danish. Now that I know how easy they are to make, I will start making them at home! Save $2.50 a trip!

I didn't alter these in any way. I had to take Michael's word for it on how good they were.

Easy Cheese Danish
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 T ricotta cheese
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 - 1 T grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese & sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and cream together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don’t whip!

Unfold one sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s a 10×10 inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters.

Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares.

Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together.

Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the puff pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

Makes 8 Danish

Thursday, October 9, 2008

BB: Butternut Squash Risotto

It was my turn to pick a recipe! When I first joined the Barefoot Blogers, I counted out the weeks to see when I would get to choose a recipe. I was so excited when I saw that I would be in October. I knew right away which recipe I was going to use. Now, this contradicts every low carb thing I have been doing for the past few months, but it was worth it!

Butternut Squash Risotto
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 40 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.

I followed the recipe exactly (very rare for me!). I didn't feel that the saffron added much, or maybe it was so subtle that I couldn't even taste it. I also would have cooked the pancetta much longer. I like my bacon extra crispy (almost burnt) and the pancetta was stil a little stringy for my taste.

If you are looking for a good comfort food this is it. I love risotto and how easy it is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

BB: Cream of Wild Mushroom soup

Mmmmmmmmm...if it were actually a little bit cooler I think I would have enjoyed it more, but it was warm today. It was delicious, don't get me wrong...creamy and mushroom-y and leaky...mmmm!

This recipe was decided on by Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker. And it was a great decision. This is one of my favortie kinds of soup. I was excited to see that I wouldn't have to do any modifications to make it low carb, either! I got some flack (from my family) for the last recipe not even being close to the origianl recipe. Hey, I have to pick and choose which recipes I want to splurge on. I figure there are going to be some baked good coming up and I know I won't be able to alter them enough to be low carb.

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home, All Rights Reserved
Show: Barefoot Contessa
Episode: Mystery Guest

5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I omitted this)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

I cheated and didn't make the stock. I used 1 quart of chicken stock instead. It was still good! I will be making this again during the fall and winter.

Happy birthday to you...happy birthday to you...

...happy birthday dear hubbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...happy birthday to youuuuuuuuuu

So last week was Michael's b-day. It was a milestone one. I think we had about 5 different parties or dinners or weekend trips. On his actual birthday we took the day off work and hung around the house. We went to his favorite pizza place for dinner and then we came home and had cheesecake. It is one of his favorite desserts (he is not a huge sweets fan). I made a plain cheesecake with chopped up peanut butter cups on top.

I went off my diet for this dessert. It was soooooooo worth it!


Adapted From Cooking by James Peterson

Makes one 10-inch cake

Room temperature butter, for preparing the pan
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
8-10 mini peanut butter cups, chopped

Not in the original recipe
1 pkg graham crackers, crushed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 stick butter (melted)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the graham crackers, cinnamon and butter in a bowl until combined.
Pack into the spring form pan
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until golden brown
Once browned, take out and cool on the counter
Once cool, wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil (to prevent leaks from the water bath)

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar and beat on medium spped with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon until smooth. This should take about 5 minutes by mixer and 10 minutes by hand. With the mixer on low to medium speed, or with the spoon, beat in the lemon juice and the eggs and egg yolk one at a time beating well after each addition. Then beat in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt until incorporated. Transfer the batter to he prepared pan and mooth the top with an offset spatula

Place the springform pan in a baking pan or roasting oan that is at least as deep as the cake pan. Pour the hottest tap water into the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until only a 1 inch-wide bull's-eye at the center of the cake moves when you jiggle the pan. Remove the cake from the water bath and let cool on a cooling rack for 1 hour. Remove the foil, cover the cake, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours before serving. To serve, release clamp, lift off the sides, and place on a serving plate.

We both loved it. We each had 2 pieces on Tursday. I brought it into the office the next day. They all loved it to. It was rich and creamy and not too sweet.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

BB: "Mac" and Cheese

This installment of the Barefoot Bloggers was brought you by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl. She chose Grown up Mac and Cheese. I love me some mac and cheese, but low carb diet does not. So, I swapped out the pasta for cauliflower! That is why the title is "Mac" and cheese. I also made a few other changes to make it even more low carb. Plus I pared the recipe down to serve only 1.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese
from Ina Garten courtesy of Food

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon (I used 2)
Vegetable oil (I omitted this)
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi (I used 1 cup of steamed cauliflower)
1 1/2 cups milk (I used about 3/4 cup of half and half)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I subbed 2 tbsp. cream cheese tthicken the sauce)
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated ( I used mozzarella)
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled (I subbed parmesan cheese)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg ( forgot to add this)
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed (I omitted this)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves (I omittd this)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

The result was delicious. I am not sure if I can still call it Mac and Cheese, but it was sooooo good.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Sorry I have been MIA for the past month! Mike and I went on a 2 week vacation and then getting back into a normal routine has been a little difficult. I haven't cooked much since we got home. And I missed the first post of the month from the Barefoot Bloggers, so I made both recipes this morning for lunch.

This months recipes were brought to us by Melissa of Melissa's Kithcen and Stefany of Proceed with Caution. Melissa chose Panzanella salad and Stefany chose Ina's Butterflied chicken. I made several moderations to both.

I'll start with the chicken (since that is the one that was "due" today).

Butterflied Chicken
Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus 2 sprigs (I was only using 2 chicken breasts, so I used less)
3 garlic cloves, chopped (I used one HUGE clove)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 roasting chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), deboned and butterflied (I used 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts)
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

Mix the chopped rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl to make a paste.
Place the chickens on a sheet pan, skin side up, and loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers. Place 1/2 of the paste under the skin of each chicken. Rub any remaining paste on the outside and underside of the chickens.
Turn the chicken skin side down and scatter the lemon slices and sprigs of rosemary over each chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Roll each chicken up, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat a grill with coals. Spread the coals out in 1 dense layer and brush the grill with oil. Unroll the chickens, place them on the grill and cook for 12 minutes on each side.

I really enjoyed the chicken. It was moist and flavorful! I love rosemary/garlic/lemon combinations. I am going to try it next time on the lamb roast I have in the freezer. Mmmm!

The next recipe that I made was Ina's Panzanella salad. I have been trying to cut out carbs from my diet, so I modified the recipe. I left out the bread. Now, I am not sure that it should still be called Panzanella, but I call it delicious!

Courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups) (I ommited this, as sad I was to do so)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (I used all red bell peppers)
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped (I ommited this as I do not like basil)
3 tablespoons capers, drained (I ommited these, as well)

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

I loved this salad. It reminded me of the best things of summer. Ripe tomatoes, crunchy bell peppers, cool cucumbers. I might need to make this again before summer is over!

Thanks ladies for wonderful dishes!!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mmmm...roasted peppers...

M and I have decided to try and takle the newlywed pounds we have put on. So back to low carb it is! I have to say, I haven't really made anything the past week that would be blog worthy. I have made plenty of cheeseburgers, steak, chicken breasts, hot dogs, eggs, bacon, sausages, etc. I did make chili verde in the crockpot. M liked it, it was okay, but was lacking something...maybe the rice and beans to go with it!

Anyway, back to roasted peppers. We went to Costco to stock up on all things meat and I decided to get a package of the gorgeous bell peppers they had. Red, yellow and orange. So summer-y!

I decided to cook a skirt steak to have with the peppers. I marinated the steak with some mexican spices for about 12 hours. It was supposed to fajita style. Too bad the steak was so tough, we each ate about 2 pieces and ended up throwing it away. I am not sure if it was the skirt steak, how I cooked it (on the grill) or that I didn't slice it thin enough. Or maybe it was the wrong cut of meat. Was I supposed to use flap meat (which in and of itself kind of squiks me out to say!). Anyway, I took a couple of pictures before eating. Sure looked pretty...too bad we couldn't eat it!

If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to comment!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers - Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

This recipe was chosen by Sabrina and Alexander of Cooking With The Kids. I had made this before for NYE, I think, when we were having chili and all the fixings. It is a great cornbread. Not too sweet, not too spicy...just right.

Since we like things a little spicier in our home, I sliced up an additional 3 jalapenos, de-seeded about half of them, and placed them in the top of the cornbread. It reminds me of a jalapeno cheddar bagel. Mmmmm!

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home, All Rights Reserved

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan (You can cut the amount of butter by about half, with no real consequence)
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions ( I didn't have any on hand, so i omitted them)
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Espresso Shortbread with Vanilla Ice Cream

Now, I know I will get some flack for this post, as it has no vegetables and no real nutritional value. But it is oh so good! I saw the recipe for the espresso shortbread on Peabody's blog. I thought to myself, that I don't normally like traditional shortbread, but put coffee and chocolate chips in, and I am willing to give it another try. And I am glad I did. And you will be glad too!

I paired this yummy treat with some homemade vanilla ice cream. We got an ice cream maker for our wedding and I had been wanting to give it a test run. Being diabetic, I have trouble eating ice cream - I think it is because it is a liquid sugar and therefore i absorb it much more quickly than say...a 2x2 inch square of espresso shortbread (yeah, yeah, I know I should not have even eaten the shortbread, but I am weak.) But, I knew that I could replace the sugar in regular ice cream with Splenda. I used the standard recipe for vanilla ice cream that came with the ice cream maker. Recipe to follow.

Chocolate Chip Espresso Shortbread
1 ½ sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP espresso powder
1 ½ TBSP dark unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips (I used 60% Ghiradelli chips, less sugar, ya know!)

Special Equipment: 9 by 9 inch baking pan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract and mix for 30 seconds.
Next add the flour, espresso powder and cocoa powder and mix until the dough is smooth, about 1 minute.
Spray the shortbread pan with cooking spray and scatter the chocolate chips across the bottom of the pan. Gently press the dough evenly into the espresso covered pan. Place the pan into the top half of the oven and bake until the shortbread is set, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 15 minutes.

Using a sharp paring knife score the top of the still warm but cooling short bread. Cut in any size you prefer, we like 2 inch squares. Run a butter knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a cutting board. Give 1 sharp rap and the shortbread will release from the pan. Let cool an additional 10 minutes.

Source: Adapted from the Food Network

Vanilla Ice Cream

Adapted from Cuisinart recipe booklet

1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I substituted Splenda)
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1-2 tsp pure vanilla extract, to taste
In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk (I was lazy and used my Kitchen aid mixer) to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is disolved, about 1-2 minutes on low speed. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste.

Turn the ice cream machine on, pour the mixture into the freezer bowl through the ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes. Take out thickened mixture and transfer to a freezer proof vessel. Freeze for a few hours, until the ice cream has set up to desired consistency.

Chicken with broccoli and lemon pasta

I knew I should have written this recipe down the night that I made it, but I was tired and had enough to do with just doing the dishes. So, here is what I did, to the best of my recolection.

Chicken with broccoli and lemon pasta
Recipe: the top of my head

1/2 pound of spaghetti
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded to 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloved, minced
1 cup of dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup frozen broccoli florets

Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt liberally.
Drop pasta and cook to al dente
Drain pasta, keep about 1 cup of the cooking water

Mix the flour, salt and pepper on a plate and dredge the chicken. Brush off excess flour.
In a large saute pan, melt butter and olive oil
Saute chicken breast about 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown
Remove chicken from the pan and set aside
Saute garlic in pan drippings for about 30 seconds
Add broccoli and saute for about 3 minutes
Deglaze the pan with white wine. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the alcohol cooks out.
Add the lemon juice
Add pasta water
Add pasta to the saute pan and toss with the sauce
Cut the chicken into strips and place back in the saute pan
Toss to coat the chicken with the sauce
Plate and eat!

This was light and refreshing. Just lovely on a hot summer day!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

An addiction from my past has reared it's ugly head

Fresh mozzarella and tomatoes

Seriously was a problem. Everyday for about a year I ate the same meal. At least once, but sometimes twice a day. Okay maybe more than sometimes.
M and I went to one of our favorite breakfast places on Sunday and on Sunday's there is a farmers market that goes on during the morning. So, we strolled down to the farmstand end and I saw great looking tomatoes. I got 4 yummy looking ones. I also got a basket of jalapenos. All for $2.50! I love farmers markets.
Ripe tomato
Fresh mozzarella
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Slice tomato and mozzarella
Arrange on plate
Drizzle with blasamic vinegar
Sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper
Eat with gusto

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers - Parmesan Chicken

This time for the Barefoot Bloggers, Parmesan Chicken was chosen. It was delicious! It was chosen by Megan of My Baking Adventures. Thanks Megan! We now have another way to fix chicken in our rotation at our house! I served the chicken with a zucchini gratin and steamed broccoli.

Parmesan Chicken 2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Page 82, All Rights Reserved

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 3 gigantic ones)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry (I didn't do the salad on top)
1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows (I didn't need the dressing, as I did not serve the salad)

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate.
On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water.
On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.
Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts.
Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.Lemon Vinaigrette:1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)1/2 cup good olive oil1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperIn a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.Yield: 6 servings

***Sorry for the poor pictures, we were really hungry and didn't have time to make everything pretty***

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zucchini Gratin - the best way to eat zucchini...

When I went into the office the other day, someone had brought in a bunch of zucchini from their garden. It looked sooooo good that I took two good sized ones. I knew it might be challenging to get M to eat this veggie. I find that sometimes zucchini is not prepared well. It can become slimy very easily. So, I went in search for a zucchini gratin dish. And Ina came to the rescue. This was soooo good. I amde a few changes to use what I had on hand. Here is the recipe:

Zucchini Gratin Copyright 2004, Barefoot in Paris, All Rights Reserved

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for topping (I used about 1/2 a stick)
1 pound yellow onions, cut in 1/2 and sliced (3 large) (I used 1 large)
2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (4 zucchini) (I used 2 good sized one)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Gruyere (I used parmesan)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a very large (12-inch) saute pan and cook the onions over low heat for 20 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add the zucchini and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the hot milk and cook over low heat for a few minutes, until it makes a sauce. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 10-inch baking dish.

Combine the bread crumbs and Gruyere and sprinkle on top of the zucchini mixture. Dot with 1 tablespoon of butter cut into small bits and bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and browned.

M and our dinner guests raved about this. YAY!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Peach and Blueberry Crumbles

We had our first (non-holiday) dinner guests tonight for dinner. T & R, Mike's good friends. T was one of M's groomsmen in our wedding. They were in town on business, so we invited them for dinner.

I made Parmesan Chicken, a zucchini gratin and steamed broccoli for dinner. I will post those later. For dessert, I found a recipe for peach and blueberry crumbles in Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at home. My MIL and FIL have many a fruit tree in their backyard and when we were over there the other day they had so many peaches that needed a good home. So, I very happily grabbed all I could carry! They are sweet and juicy and oh so delicious! Here is the recipe:

Peach and Blueberry Crumbles
Barefoot Contessa at home, pages 197-198

For the fruit:

2 pounds firm, ripe peaches (6 to 8 peaches)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint) - I only had frozen on hand

For the crumle:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place the immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it's in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles in the refrigerator and bake before dinner.

Back to the veggies

For lunch today I made a greek inspired calzone. I used leftover lamb tips, frozen spinach and feta cheese. Mmmmm....

1 whole wheat pizza dough from TJ's
1 cup of frozen spinach; defrosted and wrung dry
1/2 cup of feta cheese
1 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 of a yellow onion; diced small
4 pieces of lamb tips
1 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
flour for dusting
olive oil for brushing

Preheat oven to 400 degree F
In a large bowl, combine spinach, feta cheese, ricotta cheese, onion, cut up lamb tips, and pepper.
Roll out pizza dough to large circle
Place filling onto one half of the pizza circle.
Fold over top
Crimp edges to close.
Place calzone on a greased cookie sheet
Brush top of calzone with olive oil
Cut three (3) vent holes on top of the calzone

Place in oven for 15-18 minutes until gold brown
Let sit cooling, for about 5-10 minutes
Cut and enjoy!
Serves3-4 people

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

Hope everyone had a lovely Father's Day. On Friday, I took my Dad to the doctor and then M met us for a movie and dinner. We saw The Happening. It was interesting, but not great. Then we went to Lucille's for some gooood BBQ.

Sunday we spent with M's family. I volunteered to cook dinner for the family. M's parents have been very busy with some family things, so I thought I would help out. we had carne asada, polla asada, rice, beans, Sagaponack Corn pudding, corn salsa, guacamole and a pecan pie. We had so much food it was ridiculous! It was goooooood. The only picture I got was of the pecan pie. I didn't make the crust, but the filling was from here. It was ridiculously easy. Seriously.

2 Eggs, Slightly Beaten
1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1-1/4 Cups Broken Texas native pecans
Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
Spread pecans in an unbaked 9-inch pie shell.
Mix remaining ingredients and pour over pecans.
Bake at 375 deg F. for 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set.

**Sorry for the bad pictures, I had to take them quickly.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers - Pasta, Pesto and Peas

Say that three times fast. Sheesh!

I did it...I did it! I got my husband to eat veggies!!! This bi-weekly recipe from the Barefoot Bloggers was Pasta, Pesto and Peas, was chosen by Elizabeth at Ugg Smell Food. This recipe is from the Barefoot Parties cookbook.

I used whole wheat pasta, organic peas and spinach and light sour cream. And my husband ate dinner with gusto! I served the pasta with lamb tips that were already marinated with rosemary and garlic. Dinner was DELISH!!!!!!!!!

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
Copyright, 2001, Ina Garten, All rights reserved

3/4 pound fusilli pasta (I used all fusilli whole wheat pasta)
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise (I omitted this and replaced it with 1 1/2 cups of light sour cream)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise (Again, I used Sour Cream) and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (I am not a big fan of basil, so I substituted fresh baby spinach)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves (I used spinach), salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.
To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.
Yield: 4 cups

Friday, May 30, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers - Herbed Baked Eggs

This is the first official post from the Barefoot Bloggers. Our first assignment was to take on Herbed Baked Eggs from her Barefoot in Paris cookbook. I want to be barefoot in Paris...and if I could eat these eggs everyday I would! They were delicious. Some of the other Barefoot Bloggers had issues with the cooking time. They needed more time, but I found that 4 minutes cooked the eggs perfectly. Maybe I have some sort of super broiler.

Herbed-Baked Eggs Copyright, 2004, Barefoot in Paris, All Rights Reserved
Show: Barefoot Contessa
Episode: Bringing the Magic Home

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic (I didn;t have any on hand so I left it out)
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (I only had dried)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (didn't have any on hand)
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
6 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

French Dips and CAULIFOWER

I have been craving a french dip for a while, ever since I had one in Vegas last time we were there. So, I went searching through the freezer to find that roast I had in the way back. I got the recipe from Great place to find a TON of recipes.

Here is the original recipe:

1 (5 lb) rump roast - I only had about 2.5 pound roast
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon oregano - I didn't have any so I threw in some dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
2 instant Oxo-->instant Oxo--> or bouillon cube - I didn't have any of these
2 (14 ounce) cans beef broth - I had a 16 ounce box of beef stock
1 large onion, diced - Didn't have any in the house
Place all ingredients in a crock pot.
Cook on High for 5-6 hours or Low for 8-10.
Remove the meat from the crockpot and place on a deep plate-to collect juices.
Strain the broth well so that it is clear and no spices or onions remain.
Place in a saucepan and keep warm.
Most people prefer to keep the broth as is but you can stir in a small amount of cornstarch mixed with cold water to thicken it up just a touch.
(remember to add the juices that drain off the meat) Heat Hoaggie buns to warm and slice the meat thin.
Place a good amount of sliced meat in each of the buns and offer the Aus Jus in individual ramekins.


If I am going to be making Barefoot Contessa recipes I am pretty sure that I need the same house or at least the same herb garden. Well, this was as good as I could get.

And to prove to my mother that I was the one that planted these herbs...dirt under my nails!

I planted Cilantro, Thyme and Sage from already started plants. I also planted Rosemary, Chives, and Parsley from packets. Now, I have tried to plant things from packets before...but right on the label it stated that the plants were guaranteed to grow! We shall see.