25 February 2010

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I had a request from one of my readers to post a recipe for Asian Lettuce Wraps. I didn't have one of my own because I've never actually made these before! I love ordering these at P.F. Changs or Kona Grill, but never thought to make my own. The lovely ladies at Our Best Bites have a great recipe. In fact, they gave a kitchen tip that if you don't want to buy ground chicken, you can make your own! If you have a bag of frozen chicken breasts in your freezer, just take out 2 or 3 of them to defrost completely, then put them in your food processor! This recipe also calls for a lot of chopping of vegetables, so they suggested using your clean food processor for that again. I, on the other hand, love to chop veggies and herbs so I do that by hand. I feel like it is so relaxing! Anyway, here is the recipe I used and hope that you'll give it a try!

Asian Lettuce Wraps
(Adapted from Our Best Bites)
Yield: 6 Servings

2 tsp. Vegetable Oil
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
1.2 Lb. Ground Chicken or Turkey (1 package)
3/4 C. Mushrooms, minced
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
4 C. Cabbage, minced (about 1/2 a head)
1 (8 oz) Can Water Chestnuts, minced
1/2 C. Green Onions, minced
1/4 C. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 tsp. Sesame Oil
1 Lemon, zested & juiced
1 tsp. Hot Sauce
1/3 C. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 Head of Iceberg Lettuce

Dipping Sauce: found here

Put your largest skillet on a medium-high heat stove to warm up; add vegetable oil. When hot, add minced garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant (about one minute), then add ground chicken, mushrooms, and salt. Cook until chicken is browned and cooked through. Next, add the cabbage, water chestnuts, and green onions. After the cabbage just starts to wilt, add the soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and hot sauce. After everything is cooked through and the flavors marry together, remove from heat and stir in the fresh cilantro.

Carefully separate each leaf from the head of lettuce, wash, and dry them. I kept mine in a tupperware container in the fridge and they stayed nice and crisp (ready to eat)! Spoon the chicken filling into a lettuce cup and roll it up like a taco. Serve with Asian dipping sauce (I used the recipe from my ginger potstickers).

23 February 2010

Double Chocolate Biscotti

Close your eyes. Imagine the perfect morning. Did it involve a nice cup of coffee and chocolate? If so, then we were meant to be friends. But let's say that you didn't envision that... this is still a great recipe to have on hand when you are hosting a dinner party and are going to serve espresso or coffee after a scrumptious meal. This double chocolate biscotti can be enjoyed morning, noon, or night! It is also a handy dandy little thing to whip up, wrap up, and give to friends (and that is exactly what I did).

Double Chocolate Biscotti
(From my friend, Carol R.)
Yield: 32 Biscotti

2 C. Flour
1/2 C. Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
1 C. Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1/2 C. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 C. Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans
1 Large Egg White, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. In a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. At a low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and beans. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a 2''-wide log. Transfer the logs to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush lightly with egg white (faintly). Bake for 30 minutes and let cool on a sheet for 10 minutes. Increase the temperature to 350F degrees. Using a serrated knife, cut each log crosswise into 1/2'' slices. Arrange dry slices on two large baking sheets and bake for another 15 minutes. Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee in the morning and write a comment on my blog about how much you love this recipe :)

22 February 2010

Berry Good Smoothie

This is a berry great way to start your day! I have been dying to make a smoothie lately, but I am an usually running late for meetings and do not have enough time in the mornings. This weekend, I finally had the extra time to bust out the blender and make some smoothies! It is healthy, quick, and delicious. I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Berry Good Smoothie
(Loosely adapted from Cook Yourself Thin)
Yield: 2 Servings

1/2 C. Pomegranate Juice
3/4 C. Nonfat Plain Yogurt
1/3 C. Frozen Blueberries
1/3 C. Frozen Raspberries
1/2 tsp. Honey
1/2 C. Ice (optional)

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. I mentioned that ice is optional because some people like their smoothies to have the consistency of yogurt (and it will still be slightly icy because of the frozen fruit). I, on the other hand, like my smoothies to have little chunks of ice in them so I added ice to my smoothie blend.

20 February 2010

Lemon Bread

I must be craving summer or something because this is my second post in a row that involves lemons. This is my all time favorite recipe for lemon bread and I can't believe I didn't put it on the blog earlier. I've made it so many times and it never fails me. Also, it is a perfect thing to wrap up and give to a friend. Doug likes this bread so much that I always make two loaves and put one in the freezer for later. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Lemon Bread
(Recipe from my friend, Carol R.)
Yield: 1 regular loaf, or 2 small loaves

1/2 C. Vegetable Oil
1 C. Sugar
Grated Rind of 1 Lemon
2 Eggs
1/2 C. Milk
1 1/2 C. Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt


Mix together:
1/4 C. Sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon

Preheat Oven to 350F degrees. Beat oil, sugar, lemon zest, and eggs together until thick and lemon-colored. Add remaining ingredients: milk, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a well-greased and floured 9x5'' loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until it is brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a cake rack over a cookie sheet. Brush top and sides with glaze.

17 February 2010

Lemon Sorbet with Creme de Cassis + Blackberries

This was a perfect dessert to wrap up our romantic dinner for two. I would highly suggest making this! If you don't want to go through the trouble of making your own lemon sorbet, you can buy a small pint of it, garnish it with fresh fruit, and drizzle it with creme de cassis. Soooo good!

Lemon Sorbet with Creme de Cassis & Blackberries
(Adapted from Always Superb)
Yield: 2 Servings

1/4 C. Lemon Juice
1/4 C. Orange Juice
1/8 C. Sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/8 C. Water
1 Small Egg White
2 Tbsp Creme de Cassis
Fresh Blackberries or Raspberries (for garnish)

Combine the lemon juice, orange juice, sugar, lemon zest, and water in a bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Chill, covered, for at least 2 hours. Beat the egg white in a mixing bowl until stiff. Fold into the chilled lemon mixture. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Remove the frozen cubes from the tray and place in a food processor. Process until smooth. Refreeze if necessary. Spoon into individual dessert dishes. Pour the creme de cassis over the sorbet. Arrange the blackberries around the sorbet. Serve immediately.

Gingered Sea Bass + Roasted Asparagus

I'm seriously considering stepping back from this whole blogging thing and letting Doug take over. Who knew that he could pull off such a gourmet meal? I never had doubts about his cooking abilities (his mom is a great cook), but WOW - he even busted out the heart-shaped cookie cutter to plate the jasmine rice. Now that is love! He paired this with my favorite Pinot Grigio, Santa Margherita. It was lovely. Thanks Doug!

Gingered Sea Bass
(Doug's adaptations from Always Superb)
Yield: 2 Servings

12 oz. Sea Bass
1/4 C. Soy Sauce
Tops of 2 Green Onions, chopped
1 Small Piece of Fresh Ginger, minced
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Rinse the sea bass in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut the sea bass into 6 oz. pieces. Place in a plastic zipped bag. Add the soy sauce, green onions, and minced ginger to the bag. Let this marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F degrees. Place each filet (skin side down) on a prepared baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and bake for 12 minutes (time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish). For the last 2 minutes, turn the broiler on and you will get a nice crisp texture on the top of each filet. Serve over a bed of jasmine rice. Doug placed the rice in a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make it look like a heart. He's a clever one! Garnish with a few green onions on top.

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan
(Doug's recipe)
Yield: 2 Servings

1/2 Bundle of Asparagus (thin stems), washed & trimmed
1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 tsp. Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
Parmesan Cheese (to taste)

Your oven will be preheated from the fish recipe above (375F degrees). Arrange the asparagus on a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, turning to coat. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with lemon juice. Roast in the oven with the fish for the last 6 minutes of cooking time. If cooking separately, you can roast it at 400F degrees for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Arrange in a single layer on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Cranberry Parmesan Salad

I am constantly impressed with Doug's salad creations. Actually, I'm kind of jealous! He has a knack for picking out the best-tasting salad recipes. We went to Whole Foods to get the ingredients. Nothing better than organic greens! Also, they have a whole aisle dedicated to bulk foods... that is where we got just the right amount of dried cranberries and pine nuts. No reason to pay for more than what you need! Plus, we were already there to get our fresh fish. Did you check out Doug's gingered sea bass recipe yet?

Cranberry Parmesan Salad
(Doug's adaptations from Always Superb)
Yield: 2 Serving

3 C. Baby Greens, torn & loosely packed
1/4 C. Dried Cranberries
3 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese, grated
2 Tbsp. Pine Nuts, toasted
1/2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1/3 C. Olive Oil

Combine the greens, cranberries, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts in a medium salad bowl; gently toss to mix well. Meanwhile, process the mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a blender. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Plate the salad on chilled salad bowls and serve immediately.

15 February 2010

Romantic Dinner for Two

Happy (belated) Valentine's Day, Thyme for Wine readers. Let me start off by introducing myself. I'm Doug. By now, you all know what I eat on a daily basis. I wanted to do something fun for the love of my life on Valentine's Day. Becky, in my opinion, is a professional chef. I don't know what I was thinking, but I decided to plan an entire meal and cook her dinner despite my lack of talent in the kitchen. This is my first blog post (and probably my last) but I wanted to share it with you. I did a little investigating in her cookbook, Always Superb - Recipes for Every Occasion, and found a nice combination for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner. Becky and I enjoy cooking meals together in the kitchen. I'm pretty much there for moral support, but on Valentine's Day, the roles were reversed!

Look for these recipes in the next few days...

Romantic Dinner for Two

Mixed baby greens sprinkled with dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and drizzled with a balsamic-dijon vinaigrette

Soy and ginger-marinated fresh sea bass broiled to perfection and served over steamed jasmine rice

Farm-fresh asparagus drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a hint of lemon, roasted until al dente, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese

Homemade lemon sorbet garnished with fresh blackberries and drizzled with a blood-red, sweet, blackcurrant flavored liqueur

Oyster Cracker Nibbles

It is always a great idea to have a few little snacks for your guests to nibble on while you are making other appetizers, dinner, pouring wine, or whatever! I've noticed that if I put out a bowl of something that is simple and homemade, it is always empty at the end of the night. Be a savvy hostess and serve these oyster crackers in a cute bowl the next time you have friends over to your place!

Oyster Cracker Nibbles
(Adapted from Doug's Mom)

1 Large Bag of Oyster Crackers
3/4 C. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Lemon Pepper
1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt
1/4 tsp. Dried Dill Weed or Thyme
1 Package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (dry)

Preheat oven to 225F degrees. Spread crackers out in a large cake pan. Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, lemon pepper, garlic salt, dried herbs, and ranch mix in a small bowl. Whisk together with a fork, making sure everything is combined. Pour the olive oil mixture over the crackers, tossing gently to ensure every cracker has some of the mix on it. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. Let cool and serve.

14 February 2010

Valentine's Sugar Cookies

I wish all of you a very happy Valentine's Day filled with the smell of chocolate, flowers, and all things "sweet!" I have the best Valentine of all (sorry, but it's true)! My Valentine is making me a special dinner tonight. I'm really looking forward to it because he said it wasn't going to be mac & cheese (which is his normal specialty... out of a box)! I love him more than my KitchenAid mixer. That's A LOT! Happy Valentine's Day! xoxo

Valentine's Sugar Cookies
Yield: 40 Cookies

1 C. Butter
1 C. Powdered Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
1 1/2 t. Almond Extract
1 t. Vanilla
1 t. Salt
2 1/2 C. Flour, sifted

Cream the butter. Add powdered sugar. Next, add the egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt, and flour. Chill dough in the refrigerator until firm (about 2 hours). Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Using a well-floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4'' thickness. Cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should be pale in color and not browned on the edges. Let cookies cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Royal Icing

4 C. Powdered Sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp. Meringue Powder
5 Tbsp. Water

Look at Annie's tutorial if you want step-by-step pictures - it's great! Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on the lowest speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container (this step is extremely important, otherwise the icing will harden). This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing - too stiff to use for decorating. Add a very small amount of water at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. Still too thick? Add a little more water. Too runny? Add a little more powdered sugar. Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie with a #2 Wilton icing tip. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times.

Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time just until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted. Transfer it to a squeeze bottle or a plastic bag with one corner snipped off. Flood the area inside the piping on each cookie. Use a toothpick to help the thinner icing move to each corner of the cookie. Dry completely. Once dry, use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration. Per Annie's suggestion, I used gel icing color. You can also use liquid food coloring, but you'll need to add more powdered sugar to compensate for the thinning that occurs.

13 February 2010

Mocha Mousse

Are you cooking Valentine's dinner for your special someone and don't know what you are making for dessert? Look no further! This mocha mousse is to-die-for! Seriously! You can make it tomorrow morning and it will be perfectly chilled by the time you are ready for your Valentine's dessert. Haven't made mousse before? Don't be intimidated! It is one of the easiest things to whip up (literally)!

Mocha Mousse
Yield: 4 Servings

3 oz. Dark Chocolate, melted
1 oz. Shot of Espresso, at room temperature
2 Large Eggs, separated
1 tsp. Sugar

In a medium bowl, using a whisk, combine the chocolate and espresso. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar until stiff peaks form. Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, mix a third of the egg white mixture into the chocolate to lighten the base. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Carefully, evenly divide the mousse into 4 espresso cups, small ramekins, or martini glasses. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. I made some homemade whipped cream and topped each mocha mousse with a dollop. I also sprinkled a little espresso bean granules on top too!

11 February 2010

Pasta with Sausage + Cherry Tomatoes

Sara, from Running from the Law, sent me an awesome cookbook last week! She has the same one and we are going to try out a few recipes together - even though we are states apart. As a side note: I really love all of the friends I've met through the blog-world! You all are wonderful people! Back to the recipe at hand... it is healthy, quick, and super easy to make. I encourage all of you to try it with a lightly dressed spinach salad and some good friends. Sara, I wish you could have been here to dine with us! Thanks again!!

Pasta with Sausage & Cherry Tomatoes
(Adapted from Cook Yourself Thin Faster)
Yield: 4 Servings

1 lb. Lean Mild Turkey Sausage (original recipe called for pork sausage)
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/8 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme, chopped
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
7 oz. Whole Wheat Linguine, cooked al dente
1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
Lemon Wedges (for garnish)

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Add the sausage; stir occasionally, making sure to break up the sausage into pieces. Cook for 5 minutes (until the meat begins to brown). Add the garlic, pepper flakes, tomatoes, and thyme. Cook until the sausage turns dark brown and the tomato skins have burst. Season with salt and pepper. Place the cooked pasta in a warm serving bowl and toss with extra virgin olive oil. Top the pasta with the sausage and tomato mixture, stir to combine, and sprinkle with parsley. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

10 February 2010

Corn Salsa

You know you are a food blogger when you come back from vacation and 90% of your photos are of food! I'm back in the heartland and I am not a fan of all this snow! Where did the white, sandy beaches go? Where is the sun? Here is a recipe that will make you yearn for summertime just as much as I'm looking forward to it! We had this corn salsa with tortilla chips, but I can only imagine how great this would be on top of grilled food or with tacos!

Corn Salsa
(Adapted from Key Ingredient)
Yield: 2 Cups

2 Ears of Corn (grilled or boiled), kernels cut from the cob
1 Medium Red Bell Pepper, seeded & diced
3 Tbsp. Red Onion, diced
1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Lime, juiced
1 Tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/2 Medium Jalapeno Chile, seeds & ribs removed, minced
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 tsp. Ground Cumin (optional)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss and adjust seasonings to taste. I love the lime juice in this recipe, so I added a squeeze more of that! The salsa can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a day (so you could make this a night before a party)! Enjoy.

07 February 2010


Cheers to Super Bowl Sunday! Who are my followers rooting for tonight? I don't know what team to cheer on because the Vikings didn't make it to the big game. Here is my famous recipe for guacamole. I learned how to make this in Antigua, Guatemala, and I've never actually written this down until now. It is pretty easy and tastes great with your favorite tortilla chips or on some fish tacos. Enjoy it with a nice glass of sauvignon blanc or a cold Corona Light while you're watching the game tonight!

Yield: 6 Servings

4 Avocados
1 Large Tomato, Diced
2 Tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped & loosely packed
2 Tbsp. Red Onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Green Pepper Tabasco Sauce
1 1/2 Limes, juiced
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cut avocados in half; discard the pit. Scoop the pulp into a bowl and mash it with a fork until slightly chunky (I do not like my guacamole to be the consistency of baby food). Stir in the diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and chopped red onion. Stir in 1/2 tsp. green pepper sauce (more or less to your liking), the juice of one and a half limes, and salt and pepper (to taste). Serve with tortilla chips.

02 February 2010

Dijon-Grilled Lamb Chops + Baby Artichoke Gratinée

If you are like me and try to justify a membership to Costco... well, this recipe just might be your ticket to Costco heaven. I love, love, love the lamb chops from Costco! Have you tried them yet? I just think that they are a great price for the best piece of lamb meat. I discovered that Naples has a Costco, so I put my membership to use while I'm down here and helped my grandpa stock up on wine, beer, pillows, and lamb... you know, these are the necessary things to live!

Dijon-Grilled Lamb Chops
(Mom's Recipe)
Yield: 4 servings

2 lbs. Lamb Chops
1/2 C. Dijon Mustard
1/2 C. Brown Sugar

Allow for the lamb chops to get to room temperature. Mix dijon mustard with brown sugar until incorporated. Baste one side of the lamb chops while preheating the grill or broiler. If grilling, place basted-side down on the grill and cook for approximately 8 minutes (depending on thickness and desired doneness). Before turning chops, baste the other side with dijon-sugar mixture. Cook for another 6 to 8 minutes (approx).

Oh, and I found the cutest baby artichokes at Publix! If you see them at your local grocery store, I urge you to try this recipe for an impromptu dinner party or something fun like that!

Baby Artichoke Gratinée (Adapted from Cooking for Two)
Yield: 4 Servings

8 Baby Artichokes
1 Lemon, zested & juiced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Herbs de Provence (or mixed dried herbs of choice)
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 C. Dried Bread Crumbs
1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
1 Clove Garlic, minced

Remove outer leaves from artichokes, exposing the yellow-green core. Cut the top 3/4-inch from artichokes. Cut off the bottom of the stem with a pairing knife, peeling it if necessary. Cut artichokes in half and remove the fuzzy part of the chokes. Steam the artichokes for 10 minutes (until tender). Heat oven to 400F degrees. Arrange the artichokes cut-side up in a small baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, herbs, and lemon juice. Pour over artichokes and sprinkle with salt. Mix together bread crumbs, melted butter, garlic, and lemon zest. Sprinkle over artichokes. Bake for 15 minutes or until crumbs have browned. Serve warm.