31 October 2009

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a fun and safe halloween!  Look at this pumpkin that Doug carved last night:

It's awesome - thanks Doug!!  I can't wait to toast some of those seeds, sip on hot cider, and hand out candy to the little pirates and princesses tonight!  HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO MY READERS! 

27 October 2009

Chicken + Orzo Salad

I was recently informed that some of my MBA classmates (who are MEN) read my blog! One of them called me "Becky Crocker" - I thought that was hilarious! They always want me to bring in some sweet treats to class, so perhaps I'll have to do that before the semester ends. Anyway, just wanted to give a shout-out to them! This is a recipe that you guys should make for your wives/girlfriends because it looks gourmet, but it only takes minutes to throw together. I'm sure the women in your lives will be impressed. Happy cooking!

Chicken & Orzo Salad (From Williams-Sonoma)
Yield: 6 Servings

2/3 C. Pesto (freshly made or store-bought)
2 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar
1/4 tsp. plus 2 Tbsp. Salt
Pinch of Freshly Ground Pepper
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3/4 lb. Orzo Pasta
2 1/2 C. Chicken, cooked & shredded
1/2 lb. Cherry Tomatoes, halved
6 oz. Baby Spinach

Make the vinaigrette; whisk together the pesto, vinegar, the 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until smooth; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add the 2 Tbsp. salt and the orzo. Cook according to the package for an al dente pasta, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Add the orzo to the vinaigrette; toss gently to coat evenly. Add the chicken, tomatoes, and spinach to the orzo and pesto mixture; toss gently.

23 October 2009

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

Need an app to serve this weekend for the football games?  Try this sun-dried tomato dip!!  You can make it hours in advance - everything from preparing the dip to pre-slicing your veggies.  I topped my dip off with some green onions and some sliced sun-dried tomatoes that I roasted myself :)  Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.  Have a great weekend! 

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip
(Adapted from Ina Garten via Culinary Cory
Yield: 8 Servings

1 (8 oz.) Jar of Sun-Dried Tomatoes, in oil & drained
8 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature (1/3 less fat)
3/4 C. Sour Cream (reduced fat)
1/4 C. Mayonnaise (light)
1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
3 Green Onions, thinly sliced (white & green parts)

Finely dice the sun-dried tomatoes and add to a medium mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients.  With the mixer on low, blend the dip until well combined.  Serve with your favorite fresh vegetables.  (I used carrots, celery, cucumbers, red peppers, and yellow peppers for my crudites).

22 October 2009

Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup

So many people are feeling under the weather lately... including Doug. I went to the grocery store to pick up some saltine crackers, Sprite, and a few of the ingredients for Mom's chicken noodle soup (I already had most of the ingredients in my fridge or pantry - I'm sure you do too). That's the best part about this soup; it is simple to make and it warms the soul. I didn't have a recipe card of the soup that my mom actually made for us when Sarah and I were kids... but I'm pretty sure I'm spot-on with the recipe below. Enjoy and stay healthy!

Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup
(From my memory of Mom's Recipe)
Yield: 8 Servings

1/2 Onion, diced
1 tsp. Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
8 C. Homemade Chicken Stock (or store-bought)
3 Carrots, diced
3 Stalks of Celery, diced
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme Leaves
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 1/2 C. Chicken, cooked & diced
1 Package Egg Noodles (found in the frozen food section)
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Saute onions in olive oil until soft (about 4 minutes); add garlic and cook for another minute. Add stock, carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme leaves, parsley, chicken, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for at least 1 hour. 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the egg noodles. Remove bay leaves and serve warm.

20 October 2009

Dijon-Roasted Potatoes

Thanksgiving is just around the corner... now I'm not suggesting that you use this potato recipe in lieu of the traditional mashed potatoes and gravy, but it could be a nice alternative! Just a thought. The recipe below makes enough for 10 people, so make sure you have the proportions correct if you are making these for a smaller/larger crowd!

Imagine this: a chilly October evening + grilled lamb shanks + a classic Pinot Noir pairing + these dijon-roasted potatoes = Perfection.

Dijon-Roasted Potatoes
(Adapted from Gourmet December 2007)
Yield: 10 Servings

1/2 C. Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. Regular Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Butter, melted
2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
1 tsp. Lemon Zest
1 tsp. Coarse Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 1/2 Pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into 3/4'' wedges

Position 1 oven rack in the top third and one rack in the bottom third; Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk mustard, olive oil, butter, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon peel, and salt in a large bowl. Add potatoes; sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Divide potatoes between the two prepared baking sheets, leaving any excess mustard mixture in the bowl. Spread potatoes in single layer. Roast potatoes for 20 minutes. Switch the baking sheets to the opposite oven rack and roast for another 25 minutes (until potatoes are crusty outside and tender inside). Transfer potatoes to a serving platter and serve warm.

18 October 2009

Crab Cakes with Lemon-Dill Sauce

This was my first attempt at making crab cakes and I think it was a success thanks to Paula Deen's recipe!  Actually, what made it a HUGE success was the lemon-dill sauce.  If you make these crab cakes, I highly suggest making the sauce too.  There is something about the creamy tang that just makes it so enjoyable.  Let me know how your crab cakes turn out!

Crab Cakes with Lemon-Dill Sauce
(Courtesy of Paula's Home Cooking)
Yield: 4 Servings

Lemon-Dill Sauce:
1 C. Mayonnaise
1/4 C. Buttermilk
2 Tbsp. Fresh Dill, chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. Lemon Zest
2 tsp. Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1 Garlic Clove, minced

Crab Cakes:
3 Tbsp. Butter
2 Green Onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
3 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Egg
1/2 tsp. Fresh Parsley, minced
A Dash of Cayenne Pepper
1 C. Bread Crumbs, divided
1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Pound White or Claw Crabmeat, picked free of shells
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir well.  Refrigerate until chilled.  (Sauce will thicken as it chills - don't worry).  

To prepare the crab cakes, melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the cream, mustard, 1 egg, parsley, cayenne pepper, and 1/2 C. of the bread crumbs.; mix well.  Gently fold in the crabmeat. 

Form the mixture into 8 small patties (about 1/2-inch thick).  In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 C. of bread crumbs with the grated Parmesan.  Pat this topping onto both sides of the patties.  Refrigerate crab cakes until firm (at least 2 hours).

Using a skillet, combine the oil and remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter.  Saute the crab cakes in the hot oil-butter mixture for approximately 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  (Note: these crab cakes can also be baked for 15 to 18 minutes in a 400F degree oven).  To serve, spoon a dollop of the lemon-dill sauce on each crab cake. 

16 October 2009

Pumpkin Bread

This is so easy to whip together in a flash (and you don't even need to pull out your KitchenAid Mixer)!  The recipe below only makes one loaf of pumpkin bread, but it is so delicious that I would recommend doubling the recipe and making two while you're at it.  A friend will love you for it [shout out to Narz].  There is nothing better than a warm bite of fluffy, light, cake-like pumpkin bread with cream cheese frosting!  Mmmm... Happy baking!

Pumpkin Bread 
(From Perfect Light Desserts & Proof of the Pudding Blog
Makes 1 Cake-like Loaf

2 1/4 C. Cake Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1 Large Egg
1/3 C. Sugar
1/3 C. Dark Brown Sugar, firmly packed
3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 C. Canned Pumpkin Puree
1/2 C. Low-Fat Buttermilk

Position the rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9''x5'' loaf pan with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, stir together the first seven ingredients.  Sift the mixture onto a large sheet of wax paper (aerating the ingredients).  In another medium bowl, whisk the egg (to break it up); add sugar and brown sugar and beat it with a whisk for about a minute.  Whisk in oil, pumpkin puree, and buttermilk.  Slowly sift the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a rubber spatula.  It may be lumpy, but that is okay.  Scrape the batter into a prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 50 - 60 minutes.  Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.

11 October 2009

Halibut Over Tomato Broth

Your guests will simply love this deliciousness in a bowl.  There is no reason for you NOT to make this easy and elegant meal while the cold air is moving through the Midwest.  This hearty artichoke and tomato based soup will warm your insides, while the perfectly grilled halibut will satisfy any hungry appetite.  Serve it with crusty french bread and soak up the wonderful broth down to the Very. Last. Drop.

Halibut Over Tomato Broth
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
Yield: 4 Servings

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil, plus 3 Tbsp
4 (6-oz) Halibut Fillets (Sea Bass works well too)
1/4 tsp. Salt, plus more for seasoning fish
1/4 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper, plus more for seasoning fish
2 Shallots (small), sliced into thin rounds
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Pound Artichoke Hearts (frozen are okay to use here, thawed)
1/2 C. White Wine
1 1/2 C. Chicken Broth, low-sodium
1 (14.5 oz) Can Stewed Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp. Fresh Thyme, minced, plus more for garnish
1 Loaf Crusty French Bread, for dipping

Drizzle 1 Tbsp. of olive oil over the halibut and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a grill pan over high heat.  Cook the fish on the grill pan until just cooked through (about 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness).  This is not something you want to overcook!  In a medium saucepan, heat the 3 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and cook for 1 minutes.  Add the garlic and artichokes and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the white wine and chicken broth; stir, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add the tomatoes and juice, thyme, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Ladle the artichoke and tomato broth into shallow bowls.  Top with the grilled halibut and a sprig of thyme.  Serve immediately with Crusty French Bread (for dipping).  

Freshly cut hydrangeas from Aunt B's garden make the perfect Italian-themed tablescape.

07 October 2009

Asparagus, Pepper + Zucchini Crudi

Wow, 30 Followers! I've decided that when I have 50 Followers, I will do my first Thyme for Wine Giveaway!! In the meantime, I hope that all of you will make this crudi while all the veggies are still in season. It is a delightful side dish to practically any main course. We had this with halibut over tomato broth (to be posted soon) and it was a perfect compliment to the dish.

Oh, I also wanted to mention that we used the most incredible olive oil I have ever tasted! I highly suggest that you buy it here or else use the best olive oil that you have in your pantry - it will really make a difference! We used the Apollo Mistral Blend, Winter 2008/09.

Asparagus, Pepper & Zucchini Crudi
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentis + Aunt Bess' Touch)
Yield: 6 Servings

2 Small Zucchini, trimmed
1 Bunch Asparagus, trimmed
1 Yellow Pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground

Parboil the asparagus and allow for them to cool (We put the asparagus in the fridge after it cooled to room temperature). Using a vegetable peeler, shave the washed zucchini into long, thin strips. Cut the stalky part of the asparagus off and discard. On a rectangular serving platter, place the zucchini ribbons in the center, arrange the asparagus and sliced yellow peppers on each side. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and drizzle over the vegetables.

05 October 2009

Autumn Apple Torte

Well, I just survived my first test of MBA-Midterm Week.  (At least, I hope I survived it...)!  What better way to celebrate than with a warm apple torte and cinnamon whipped cream.  As my aunt would say, "Make this when you don't have time to make an apple pie from scratch!"  

I love the chill in the air and all things Autumn-related.  I'm hoping to put some pumpkin recipes on here soon, so stay tuned!  

Apple Torte with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
(Adapted from The Best of Byerly's Cookbook)
Yield: 8 Servings

1 1/2 C. Apples, peeled & chopped
3/4 C. Granulated Sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon, divided
1/2 C. Pecans, chopped
1 Egg
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 C. Flour
6 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1/2 Pint Whipping Cream
2 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar

Generously grease an 8'' or 9'' pie pan.  Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Spread apples over bottom of pie pan.  Combine 1/4 C. sugar, 1/4 tsp. of the cinnamon, and pecans; sprinkle over apples.  Beat egg, remaining 1/2 C. sugar, baking powder, flour, and butter until thoroughly combined.  Spread batter over apples.  Bake until crust is golden brown (about 35 to 45 minutes).  Whip cream until stiff peaks form; beat in powdered sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp. cinnamon.  You can serve this warm or cold - it's delicious both ways!

To serve: Cut torte into wedges; top each with a dollop of whipped cream.  

To serve "Adult Version":  Poke a few holes in the top of the crust and drizzle some Amaretto (like Disaronno) over the torte.  Serve individual slices with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream.

01 October 2009

Ginger Potstickers

We were super excited for Top Chef last night, only to discover that it was a repeat!! What a bummer! I had this fun meal all planned and everything. Oh well, these little potsticker pockets turned out to be pretty easy to throw together and we have so many leftovers! I know what Doug and I will be having for dinner tonight! Poor guy... Same dinner, two nights in a row! I served this with a mixed green salad with fresh pea pods, crumbled goat cheese, and a sesame-ginger salad dressing (keeping with the Asian theme).

The original recipe called for ground pork, but I opted for lean ground turkey because it is healthier. I'm sure these would taste just as delicious with pork, shrimp, beef, veggies, or whatever you choose! Enjoy!

Ginger Potstickers
(Adapted from Guy Fieri, 2008)
Yield: 40 Potstickers

1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey (the original recipe calls for pork)
1/2 C. White Onion, diced
4 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
1/4 C. Green Onion, thinly chopped
2 tsp. Soy Sauce, low sodium
1/2 tsp. Sesame Oil
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
40 (or so) Wonton/Potsticker Wrappers
1 Egg White, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Oil

In a medium bowl, add the ground turkey (or pork), onions, ginger, green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Mix until incorporated. Then, in a medium stock pot, boil 2 quarts of water. (You will need to do these in two batches). Place 1/2 Tbsp. of the mixture in the middle of the wrapper. Brush the edges of the wrapper with the egg white-oil mixture. Fold all corners into the center and lightly press them together. Repeat with the remaining wrappers. Place half of the potstickers in boiling water for 1 minute, remove and cool individually on cooling rack. Repeat with the second half of the potstickers. When you are ready to serve the potstickers, heat a saute pan with 1 tsp oil, and saute on medium-high heat until the skin of the wrapper is slightly golden. Serve with the dipping sauce (below).

Dipping Sauce

2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce, low sodium
1 tsp. Orange Juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp. Lime Juice
1/2 tsp. Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp. Water
Dash of Cayenne Pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. I like to put any leftover green onion snippets on the top of the sauce for a bit of color.