Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables in a Butter Wine Baste

Roasted chicken is a great dish anytime and there are many ways to flavor it and make it your own.  This roasting recipe is comprised of a simple butter and wine baste, accompanied by roasted veggies.  This is a great dish to make for a nice Sunday dinner or even during the week. 

  • One roasting chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
  • 1 stick of butter and 1 additional tablespoon set aside (again, I always use Light Smart Balance)
  • 1/2 cup of Sauvigon Blanc (remember cook with what you'd drink, so be reasonable, but not too cheap)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Rosemary (fresh and chopped fine)
  • 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large red potatoes (quartered)
  • 8 to  10 carrots (buy with stems and trim for rustic effect, peal)
  • 4 large leeks (cut green part off and slice each one in half)
  • 2 large shallots (pealed and sliced in thin rounds)
Putting it all Together:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pat dry chicken with paper towel and clean out cavity.  Salt and pepper on all sides and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of rosemary.  Place in roasting pan (if your roasting pan comes with a rack, set chicken on rack in roasting pan, it is easier to baste it that way).  Cut stick of butter in half and set on the top of the chicken.  Add one quarter cup of wine to bottom of roasting pan.  Set in oven for about 60 to 70 minutes, until the thigh registers at 170 degrees.  Check chicken every 15 to 20 minutes and baste.

Once your veggies (potatoes, carrots, leeks and shallots) are cleaned and properly cut and pealed place on cooking sheet.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and in various places on sheet place a little extra butter (collectively about 1 tablespoon or so worth).  Add salt, pepper, additional tablespoon of rosemary and wine. Rub through veggies with clean hands to make sure they are evenly coated.  Place in oven @ same temperature as chicken for 45 minutes.  Check on veggies when looking in on the chicken and turn them if necessary with a spoon or fork.

Once chicken is done, take out and let cool slightly for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Slice chicken and set on serving platter with the roasted veggies.  The chicken and the veggies come out so flavor and tender.  The veggies have a sweet caramelized flavor to them and are absolutely delicious.  The chicken is moist and the skin is beautiful. 


Crab Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Are you every looking for a quick appetizer to throw together that taste great and takes little effort?  Well, I know I always am!  I love to cook a main meal and sometimes when also having to put an appetizer together, I try to look for something that is fast, but still seems a little gourmet and of course tasty!  My crab cream cheese stuffed mushrooms are easy to throw together and your dinner guests will be wowed!


  • 12 medium to large mushrooms
  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese @ room temperature (light cream cheese works well too)
  • 1 can of fancy crab meat in water
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese (1 reserved)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Putting it all Together:
Remove stems from mushrooms so that you are left with a little whole/cup in the center for the filling.  When washing the mushrooms use a dampened paper towel or clean kitchen towel and gently wipe down each one.

Line baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray or a little olive oil and set oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Empty cream cheese into mixing bowl.  Drain crab of all liquid and add to cream cheese along with, garlic powder, 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Mix ingredients together with fork until well blended.  Take a 1/2 tablespoon size worth of mixture and fill in each mushroom and set on cooking sheet.  Once you are done filling all the mushrooms, sprinkle remaining tablespoon of grated Parmesan evenly on the top of each one, pop them into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.  

This is a quick appetizer that takes about 10 to 15 minutes to assemble! 


Saturday, June 25, 2011

BBQ Balsamic Goat Cheese Argula Pizza with Carmalized Shallots & Whole Wheat Crust

I love pie (pizza pie that is) and homemade is always the best when you have time, because you can think outside the box and do things in a nontraditional way.  So think a little gourmet, it's easier than you first imagine, heat up your BBQ and enjoy a gourmet pizza in your own backyard!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:

There are a lot of pizza dough recipes out there.  I used recipes for dough from the Food Network and All Recipes.  However, the evening I made these, I decided to give myself a little break and picked up some of Trader Joe's Whole Wheat pizza dough, which worked well too.   But like I said, if you have the time, I encourage you to make fresh dough, but if you don't or want a little break, some of the store bought ones are very good. Again, I'll have a baking day with my sister, Jules who is a professional pastry chef to get some of her recommendations on dough!

Ingredients for the Balsamic Goat Cheese, Arugula & Caramelized Shallot Topping:

  • 1/4 cup of aged balsamic vinegar (this is thicker and a touch sweeter, I highly recommend you pick some up the next time you are at a speciality market.  If you don't have it handy, just use regular balsamic vinegar, you can also simmer it in small sauce pan and reduce it, but then add 1/2 cup and reduce it by half)
  • 3/4 cups of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pealed, and chopped finely
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups of arugula (it comes in handy if you can buy it prewashed)
  • 16 cherry heirloom tomatoes (super sweet and beautiful color!)
  • 1/2 cup of slivered, raw almonds
  • 12 ounces of crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 large shallots
  • 1 additional tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Drambuie Liqueur (this is a good "staple" to have on hand if you love dishes with caramelized onions or shallots)
  • In general keep your bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil handy--you will be using this to drizzle on both sides of the crust and the grill so the dough does not stick!
Putting it all Together:

Make sure your grill is very clean and turn heat to medium to high.

I like to hand stretch my dough, especially on the BBQ, it looks a little more rustic.  So depending on your preference, roll out the down on a floured cutting board with a rolling pin or stretch and toss by hand in a rounded-rectangular shape and keep on cutting board for time being.

In a mixing bowl or large liquid measure cup add 1/4 cup of the balsamic vinegar, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk together well and set aside. 

Take almonds and toast on medium to low heat in a small frying pan for about 5 minutes, turning about half way through and set aside. 

Peel and slice shallots thinly. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in small frying pan and add shallots.  You want the shallots to get very brown and soak up the olive oil.  At this point tablespoon of Drambuie and let reduce and fully soak up into the shallots, set aside when done. 

Rinse tomatoes and set aside in bowl, do the same if needed with the arugula.  Take all toppings out to the BBQ and set aside so they are read to go. 

Take dough and drizzle well with olive oil on on side. Also, using Pam Grilling Spray, coat your BBQ well. Remove the down from cutting board and place side with olive oil on grill.  Once the dough is bubbling and lifting drizzle the side facing up and flip over (pulling the edges of the dough from the sides and do quickly, you don't want to touch the grates or burn your fingers, if you are uncomfortable using tongs or a spatula, but your hands are the best way to go).  Turn heat to medium to high (when closed temperature should be about 375).  Take your balsamic mixture and brush about half on the crust.  Add 1/2 of the goat cheese, caramelized shallots, arugula, tomatoes and almonds evenly to the top, drizzle the remaining amount of the balsamic mixture to the top and polish off with the remainder of the goat cheese crumbles.  Close BBQ lid and let cook for about 12 minutes (check about half way in to see if temperature needs to decrease slightly).  A good way to measure that the pizza is done is when most the cherry heirloom tomatoes have collapsed on themselves.

This is a sweet, savory pizza with lots of fresh veggies, bursting with flavor and will leave you feeling satisfied and a little gourmet!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Souffle

I love souffle for many reasons:  it's so pretty, fluffy, airy and I imagine I am at a sidewalk cafe in France while I eat it!  Tonight we enjoyed a yummy, warm, airy broccoli cheese souffle.  This is actually easier that it looks to make and it is so much fun!  So set your table, have fun in the kitchen and when it's done, put on some 1930s French Jazz, dine and pretend you're in Paris!  Even if only for a half hour!

*Note this recipe serves 3 to 4 people

  • Cooking spray (to grease souffle dish, by the way if you don't have a souffle dish you can buy one for about $10)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (again I use Light Smart Balance)
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk (I used non-fat because that is what I had on hand and it turned out great)
  • 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • Pinch of spicy paprika (of course you can go bigger here if you like more of a kick)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh crack pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan reggiano
  • 1 16 ounce package of broccoli florets (thawed, squeezed of moisture and chopped)
  • 7 egg yolks @ room temperature, slightly whisk together
  • 1 good sized tablespoon of dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 3 slices of thick white break (about 1/2" or so) with crust removed and diced in 1/2" cubes
  • 7 egg whites @ room temperature

Putting the Souffle Together:

Preheat oven @ 400 degrees.  In a sauce pan heat butter on medium to low heat.  Once melted slowly whisk  in flour.  Whisk together until completely smooth (you do not want any lumps in your rue). Continue to whisk and keep at a simmer until it has thicken (this will take about 5 to 7 minutes).  Then stir in salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder.  Remove from heat and cheeses, egg yolks, wine and bread crumbs to mixture.  Set aside.

In a good size mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on high for about 3 to 4 minutes.  You know you are done when your eggs have stiff peaks and have almost a  meringue consistency.  Using a rubber spatula, take about 1/4 of the egg whites and stir in broccoli cheese mix.  Then take the remaining egg whites and gently fold into the rest of the broccoli mix.  Then gently pour entire combined mixture into your greased souffle pan.  Cook at 400 for 50 minutes and serve right away while fluffy and hot! 

Serve with some nice fresh french bread and a green salad!  I recommend a nice dry white wine with, such as a Sauvignon Blanc!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grilled Citrus Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Chile Sauce

Fire up the grill, summer is here!  This is a simple and delicious way to enjoy grilled shrimp tacos that are packed full of flavor.  I serve these grilled citrus shrimp tacos with beans and my own twist on Rachel Ray's cheesy manchego rice.  So when you are planning your next "Taco Tuesday," why not do it with some shrimp!

Ingredients for Grilled Citrus Shrimp
  • 1 bag of large cooked shrimp (about 30 count)
  • 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Thaw shrimp by running cool water over them in a colander for about 5 minutes.  Remove tails from shrimp. Keep shrimp in colander and pat dry with paper towel once they are thawed and then add the Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  I toss the shrimp with my hands to make sure they are all evenly coated.  Then transfer the shrimp into a large Ziploc baggie and add orange juice, lemon juice and olive oil.  Marinate in fridge anywhere from 1/2 hour to 1 hour.  Once the shrimp are done marinating, place on skewers and grill about 3 minutes on each side (remember the shrimp is already cooked, so you don't want it chewy or tough).  I use a hand held grilling basket that works out great (see the picture directly above).  Once these are done pull off from skewers and place about 4 to 5 shrimp on corn tortillas (Trader Joe's sells delicious "homemade" corn tortillas that are a mix of flour and corn, I recommend these), garnish with shredded cabbage and chipotle sauce.

 Ingredients for Chipotle Sauce
  • 8 ounces of sour cream (you can use light, but I find non-fat has no flavor, so what's the point!)
  • 3 chipotle chiles in (buy chipotle chiles in adobo sauce).
  • 1/2 of lime juiced
You can make this while the shrimp is marinating.  Remove three chiptole chiles from can and de-seed.  Chopped chiles finely and add to sour cream.  Now the chiles are fairly spicy, so you can add or take away depending on how much kick you like.  I even add some of the juice from the can, because I love spicy food.  Then juice half a lime over the chopped chipotles and sour cream and mix together.  Set in fridge until you are ready to serve.  I happen to get this recipe for the chipotle sauce a few years ago from the show "Sam the Cooking Guy" on the Cooking Channel and I now use it verying degrees for a variety of Mexican and Spanish dishes, it is so yummy!

Also, I noted that I serve Rachel Ray's "Cheesey Manchego Rice" with this.  Manchego is a Spanish cheese that is slightly nutty.  Below is a link to this recipe.  I do a slight variation however to this recipe.  Instead of flat leaf parsley I use fresh cilantro and I add 1/2 of the juice from a freshly squeezed lime.  I think this way really knocks it out of the park! 


 The Cooking Guy. Chiptole Sauce.

Ray, Rachel.  Cheesy Manchego Rice.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops and Garlic Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

I love pork and I am always trying to think of new ways to make it.  Tonight we enjoyed pork chops stuffed with a lightly creamed spinach and sun dried tomato mixture, garlic rosemary mashed potatoes and roasted garlic asparagus.  This is a gourmet dinner you can put together in about 45 minutes.  The recipe below serves three.

Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops

  • 1 package of frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1 8 ounce jar of drained, Julienne sun dried tomatoes (reserve olive oil in a small bowl)
  • 1/4 cup of quattro formaggio (a four cheese Italian blend you can buy almost anywhere now)
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 3 1 to 1 1/2 " boneless pork chops
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of granulated garlic 
  • 1/4 cup of dry white wine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take pork chops out of case and pat dry with paper towel (taking out some of the moisture will help them brown better).  Add salt, pepper and granulated garlic to each side of the chop.  Take a cutting knife to the side of the pork chop that does not have fat on it and cut open a 3" pocket.  Tear down with knife about 1/2 way through the chop, but not all the way through.  Set aside.

In a small sauce pan heat heavy cream on medium heat.  Once you see a slight boil add cheese, minced garlic cloves, and half of the sun-dried tomatoes.  Once these ingredients are blended together, remove from heat.

Take mixture and stuff each pork chop evenly (about 2 to 3 tablespoons).  Reserve the additional spinach for garnish or additional side dish.

Heat large sauce pan with oil you reserved from sun dried tomatoes (this is a great way to add flavor). Take each pork chop and gingerly place in heated pan.  Brown one side for about 3 minutes and then very carefully turn to other side.  Add wine and let reduce for three minutes.  Place in oven @ 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. When you cut inside it should be slightly pink--do not over cook.

Garlic Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 medium to large size red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream (or you can use low-fat or non-fat milk)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter (again I use Smart Balance Light Butter Spread)
  • 1/4 cup of quattro formaggio
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped rosemary
Bring to boil a large pot of water, add a few dashes of oil and salt to the water (you can do this just before you start the pork chops).  Boil potatoes for 20 minutes (or until tender, check with a fork). Also, you can leave the skin on for a more rustic texture and because the skin on red potatoes is so thin.  Once tender, drain.  Quarter potatoes and place in mixer with cream (or milk) and butter and beat on medium speed.  Then add, garlic, cheese and rosemary.  Beat again on medium until well blended.

* If you want to get your potatoes softer faster, place in the microwave for about 5 to 7 minutes before hand, wrapped in a clean dish towel--this will get them a little softer before adding them to the boiling water.

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic

  • One bunch of fresh asparagus, rinsed and pat dry
  • One baking sheet, covered with foil
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
Once you've rinsed your asparagus, line baking sheet and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Take asparagus and line on pan.  Drizzle second tablespoon of olive oil on top of asparagus and sprinkle over with garlic.  Take clean hands and rub through asparagus, garlic and olive oil to be sure all sprigs are covered.  Roast in oven for 15 to 20 minutes on 350 (you can add these at the same time you are adding your pork chops in the oven).  Once the skins have bubbled a bit and sprigs are tender, they are ready to enjoy.  Use any of the leftover asparagus to add to an omelet the next morning...delicious!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waylon Jennings and Tasty Pull-Pork Sandwiches

Nothing's better than a pull pork sandwich and good music on the patio, especially if you're listening to Waylon Jennings (one of my favorites)!  Tonight we enjoyed a super simple and easy way to make pull pork sandwiches and listened to some good old Waylon!  This is a great pull-pork recipe, because not only is it tasty, but you can literally throw it together in about 20 minutes in the morning before work and the let the crock-pot do the rest!  When you get home, dinner is pretty much done!  So turn on some of your favorite tunes, make yourself a sandwich and relax from your day!

What You Need and How to Throw it all Together:

  • 2 pounds of pork tenderloin
  • 1 bottle of Honey Hickory Smoke BBQ Sauce (or use any flavor or brand you like)
  • 1 bottle of Heinz 57 Sauce (this makes the pork tangy!)
  • 1 sweet Maui onion, peeled and sliced in rounds
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of apricot jam
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper
Putting it Together:
  • Set crock-pot on low for 8 hours (don't worry the meat will not be over cooked, it will be slow-cooked)
  • Set tenderloin in pot and add salt, pepper, garlic, onion brown sugar, jam, and both sauces
  • Take a spoon and give it a few good turns so that all the ingredients are mixed in
  • Let cook!
  • Once it is done, you can turn it off low or keep it on warm for about an additional 1/2 hour
  • The pork will be very tender, so all you need to shred it, is pull the tenderloin apart with a fork
  • Serve with Hawaiian Sweet rolls or French rolls (just note these can get a little messy, so I recommend a sturdy roll, like a French roll, but my husband loves the Hawaiian sweet rolls)
This dish goes great with a salad and fresh cut fruit, like watermelon or cantaloupe!  Enjoy this easy dinner and take some left-overs for lunch the next day, yummy!  See below for one of my favorite summer salads!

Golden Raisins Pecan Salad with a Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:

  • 1 bag of pre-washed spring mix salad 
  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • 1/2 cup of golden rraisins
  • 1/4 cup of pecans
  • 1 teaspoon of Light Smart Balance Butter Spread
  • 1 pack of Splenda
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove of crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

Putting it Together:
  • Heat butter in small omelet size pan, once melted add the pecans and turn to a medium to low heat.  Then sprinkle one packet of Splenda over the top and stir, this will lightly toast and caramelize.  Continue to stir on heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside
  • Empty salad mix into a serving bowl, top with sliced avocado, golden raisins and cooled pecans
  • For dressing add Dijon mustard, garlic, honey, olive oil and red wine vinegar into a mixing bowl and whisk together.  Taste before pouring over salad to see if you would like it more sweet or tangy
  • Just before serving, lightly drizzle over salad and toss together