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  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Lemon Rosemary Garlic Marinate

Lamb is one of those dishes that gets me excited and is one my favorite meats!  I love the taste and there are actually many ways to enjoy it.  A spring lamb is delicious and today that is what I purchased.  Tonight we enjoyed a half leg of lamb, de-boned and fillet with a savory lemon, garlic, rosemary and olive oil marinate.  This dish went great with my saffron raisin pecan rice pilaf and roasted egg planted with a very easy to make mint-lemon Greek yogurt sauce on the side.  Dress up your outdoor dining table and have a wonderful dinner!

What You'll Need & How to Put it Together (this serves 3 to 5 people):

The Lamb:

  • 3 pounds of leg of lamb (your butcher will de-bone it, fillet it and tie it for you if you request it)
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of ground sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly cracked pepper
    • Take the leg of lamb and pat dry
    • On all sides take a fork and poke holes in it gently (this helps the marinate to fully get into the lamb)
    • Season with salt and pepper
    • Rub with extra virgin olive oil
    • Rub crushed garlic cloves on all side
    • Rub rosemary on all side
    • Squeeze lemon on all sides
    • Place in a large zip lock bag and marinate for about 4 hours in the your fridge
    • About 30 minutes before cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Once heated, place lamb in roasting pan and cook for 50 to 60 minutes (I cooked the lamb for about 45 minutes to serve the it medium rare, so it should be a bit pink in the center, this yields a great flavor and the meat is not dry, obviously cook it longer if you like your meat more well done)
    • Let set for about 5 to 7 minutes, remove string and slice (it is important to remember that your meat will still cook out of the oven at this point, so be careful, you don't want to eat dry lamb!)
Saffron Raisin Pecan Rice Pilaf:

  • 3 cups of rice pilaf (this usually comes with a seasoning mix, I use Near East)
  • 3 tablespoons of margarine or butter (I use light "Smart Balance")
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Persian Saffron (all you need is a small amount)
  • 1/2 cup of golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup of roughly chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon of thinly sliced chives
  • 1/2 cup of finely grated carrots (you can buy them finely graded in the produce section of the store or do it yourself)
  • 6 cups of chicken stock (homemade or store bought is fine)
    • Melt butter in large sauce pan
    • Add rice and saute until it takes on a golden brown color
    • Once rice is toasted lightly, add pilaf seasoning mix, saffron, chives, carrots and raisins
    • Bring to boil, then cover and simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes
    • Last minute of simmering throw in pecans and cover immediately and let stand.
    • Keep lid on until serving, but right before fluff with a fork
Roasted Eggplant:
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup of chicken stock
    • Clean and slice egg plant (for this dish I leave the skin on because I like the texture when roasted). Slices should be a little thick, about an 1"
    • Spray baking pan with cooking spray
    • Line with round slices of eggplant
    • Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, granulated garlic and olive oil
    • Roasted in oven @ 400 for 20 minutes (turn once, once you've turned it add about 1/4 cup of chicken stock to pan, this helps soften the eggplant and adds flavor)
 Mint-Lemon Greek Yogurt Sauce:
  • 2 cups of non-fat Greek yogurt (you can get this at Trader Joe's or really any market these days)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh mint (chopped fine)
    • In a mixing bowl add yogurt and mint
    • Take lemon and zest over the bowl
    • Squeeze half of the lemon in the bowl
      • Serve on the side with the lamb, egg plant and rice pilaf
This is a great meal for the small dinner party or a romantic evening at home with a loved one!  Also, with the leftovers you can make lamb pitas for dinner the next night (that's what we're doing)!  It is always great when you can cook enough so that you can make an easy, quick dinner with the leftovers the next day, it's kind of like a "twofor!"


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Coco Rice Krispies S'mores ~ The Perfect Summer Camping Treat!

In my family, we LOVE s'mores and eat them all fun and creative types of ways!  One of my favorite ways is to add some peanut butter on the graham cracker.  Well, in planning for our upcoming camping trip I am going to bring the traditional s'more stuff, but I also was planning on bringing some Rice Krispies Treats and thought, wait a second, why not use Coco Krispies and add some peanut butter and Hershey's Chocolate Syrup to make them more like S'mores! The result is yummy, gooey and oh so good!  Bring these along on your next road trip, they'll be a hit, folks will definitely be wanting some more of these!

What you'll need:

  • 6 cups of Coco Rice Krispies Cereal
  • 1 16 ounce bag of small marshmallows
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup

Putting it all Together:

  • Melt butter, peanut butter in a large sauce pot on medium heat.
  • As these ingredients start  to melt together, add marshmallows and stir constantly
  • Marshmallows will begin to melt in and your substance will get nice, rich and gooey!
  • Add 1/4 cup of Hershey's Syrup
  • Add 6 cups of Coco Rice Krispies Cereal (at this point, remove from heat)
  • Mix together and spread in a flat pan (I used a 9 x 13 foil throw-away baking dish since I am taking them camping)
  • Let sit for about 20 minutes and then cut into squares

Mangia!  Enjoy at your next summer gathering!

*Reduce Fat Version/Option:
  • Use Smart Balance reduce fat butter spread
  • Reduce fat peanut butter
  • Hershey's Light Syrup
    • Just as yummy, with a little less guilt!

I would just like to note that I can't take full original credit for this recipe.  Once I started to put this idea together, I searched online and there are several versions of this type of  yummy treat.  But, just like traditional s'mores, there are lots of ways to put your own twist on it, as I did here.  Mangia!

Italian Quiche!

Now, I know folks usually associate quiche with the French, but proudly coming from Italian decent, I decided to put an Italian twist on this dish!  Also, quiches are great anytime, for breakfast, lunch or even dinner!  We are heading out for a camping trip, so I thought, why not making breakfast or lunch in advance and put together an Italian quiche.  Below is my easy, homemade Italian Quiche Recipe, hope you enjoy it!

Here's what you'll need:
*Note, I made three quiches for our camping trip, these ingredients below are for one quiche.  Also, for my vegetarian followers, I made one of the three quiches without prosciutto, just as yummy! 
*Also, be sure to preheat your oven to 375 degrees while putting quiche together!

  • Package of pre-made pie crust (yes, you can make your own, but when needing to get it done fast, Trader Joe's has a great pre-made pie crust!  My beautiful sister Juleen is a professional pastry chef, so I'll have to get her homemade recipe and ask her to share her expertise!)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream (had some in my fridge that needed to get used, so what the heck!) 
  • 4 oz of drained, Julienne sun dried tomatoes (you can buy them at Trader Joe's in olive oil, garlic and herbs, drain them in a colander so that your quiches isn't grease, yet your tomatoes will still be full of yummy Italian flavor!)
  • 1/4 pound of prosciutto sliced thin
  • 1 cup of frozen spinach, thawed and completed drained of any moisture
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of dry white wine (I had dry Marsala wine in my fridge, so that is what I used, it was great!)
  • 1/2 cup of Quattro Formaggio (mix of Parmesan, asiago, fontina and provolone cheeses--you can find this at Trader Joe's, Claro's Italian Markets, or nowadays almost any grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano

Making the Quiche!
  • First set your pie crust out so that it gets to room temperature
    • Once at room temperature, grease the pie dish and lay pie dough into it, cut off any access and you can either pitch it around the dish or set imprints on it with a fork
  • Thaw out your spinach--I do this quickly by microwaving it for four minutes and then in paper towels drain/squeeze the access moisture and set it aside until needed
  • Fry the prosciutto in a pan and blot access grease (I know in Italy they do not fry prosciutto--I found this out on my first trip there 10 years ago, but my Father has been doing this for me since I was a little girl and I LOVE IT this way, in a sandwich, in salads, as a snack, once you fry it, you'll love it this way!)
  • Have sun dried tomatoes set aside
  • Crack six eggs in mixing bowl and add salt, pepper, garlic powder, white wine, heavy cream and whisk until yolks are broken and all ingredients are well blended
  • Add prosciutto to pie crust, tear pieces apart and spread evenly
  • Take sun dried tomatoes and add evenly over prosciutto
  • Take spinach and add over evenly tomatoes and prosciutto
  • Add quattro formaggio evenly over all other fillings
  • Pour egg mixture evenly over the top
  • Take Parmesan and sprinkle over the egg mixture
Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbly and fluffy!  Enjoy with a fresh salad, fruit, champagne and/or a dry white wine!  Mangia!  And remember, quiche is good anytime and stays good in your refrigerator for 3 to 4 days!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Arugula-Basil Pesto Sandwich

Sometimes a good old steak sandwich on french bread just hits the spot!  Tonight we enjoyed an arugula-basil pesto steak sandwich (arugula is one of my favorite greens!).  However, if you are not a red meat eater, this sandwich is versatile and would also be great without meat or with a grilled breast; but, I have to say, the steak is yummy and was the source of inspiration in making a different type of pesto!  This sandwich has grilled New York strip steak, melted smoked fontina, crispy shallots, roasted red peppers and my homemade arugula-basil pesto, which brings a peppery, yet mildly sweet flavor to the dish!  With an arugula, cherry tomato, feta salad on the side, with a simple age-balsamic dressing!  Here's my original recipe:

What You'll Need & How to Put It All Together!:
  • Steak & Shallots:
    • Slice two shallots finely and heat in pan with just a small dash of olive oil--the idea is to get them a little crispy, not sauteed.  When this is done set aside.
    • 1 (12 ounce) boneless strip New York sirloin strip steak
      • Season with salt, pepper, granulated garlic (both sides--my little tip is to poke a few wholes on each side with a fork so that the seasoning gets into the steak)
      • Brush with extra virgin olive oil
      • Dash 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
        • Marinate for about 20 minutes
        • Then cook on grill (I only eat red meat medium rare, I think it is the most flavorful way to enjoy it, so adjust the grill time according to your own liking)

  •  Arugula-Basil Pesto:
    • 2 cups of fresh basil
    • 2 cups of fresh arugula
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts (toast in a small frying pan on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes)
    • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/4 cup of grated smoked fontina cheese
    • 1/4 cup of olive oil
      • Place toasted pine nuts, garlic and both grated cheese in food process until grind together
      • Add basil and 1/8 cup of olive oil (you don't have to worry about chopping it if you have a good food processor)
      • Add arugula and 1/8 cup of olive oil
        • Depending on how you like the texture of your pesto, you can drizzle more olive oil, for this it is a more of a spread so it is a bit thicker.  If you are tossing it on warm pasta it will blend right in, but again depending on your texture preference you'd add more olive oil
  • Arugula Cherry Tomato Salad:
    • 1 package of wild arugula (you can get this from Trader Joe's)
    • 1/4 cup of feta cheese
    • 6 to 8 plump cherry tomatoes sliced in half
    • 2 cloves of fresh crushed garlic
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/8 cup of extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons of aged-balsamic vinegar (my Mom turned me on to aged-balsamic and I am never going back!  It is rich and full of flavor, amazing!)
    • I wash and place ingredients in salad bowl and toss together--that easy!
      • You can add more oil olive and balsamic vinegar to your liking, but I don't like my salads to swim
  • Assemble Sandwiches:
    • While steaks are cooking spread each side of your 6" french bread loaf with the pesto
    • Sprinkle crispy shallots on one side of each roll
    • Add a nice size sliced of roasted bell pepper to each side of the bread
    • Sprinkle with grated fontina on each side
    • Pop in broiler for about 3 to 5 minutes just before steaks are done (watch this, you don't want it to burn, just melt)
    • Thinly slice steaks and lay slices on the warm sandwiches slices
I usually throw the salad together first and just hold off on the olive oil and vinegar until just before we sit down to eat.  Marinate the steaks, make the pesto, grill the steaks, assemble the sandwiches and walla, you're done!  The entire meal with prep time takes about 35 minutes and serves 2 t o3 people!  As always, this goes great with a glass of wine, I recommend a good Cabernet!  This sandwich can also be made in advanced to bring along on a summer picnic!