30 April 2010

Braised Pheasant with Mushrooms + Tarragon

I seriously scoured my cookbooks, the internet, and family resources for a braised pheasant recipe. Luck would have it that nothing sounded that appetizing to me. I knew that I wanted to braise the pheasant because it would keep the bird moist (regardless of the fact that it has been in the freezer since late fall... thanks for the birds, Dad)! Doug was impressed that I even knew how to clean a pheasant and remove the wings. Mmmm... are you losing your appetite yet? I found this recipe on Williams-Sonoma's web site and adapted it for pheasant (you can substitute chicken if you don't have pheasant or other game birds on hand). It was delicious and I plan on using this recipe for future hunting seasons.

Braised Pheasant with Mushrooms & Tarragon
(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
Yield: 4 Servings

4 Pheasant Breast Halves (Substitute: Chicken)
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, divided
1 Small Yellow Onion, chopped
8 oz. Mushrooms of your liking, sliced
1/3 C. Madeira or Dry Sherry
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon, chopped

Season the pheasant (or chicken) with salt and pepper; be generous. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of butter. Add the pheasant breasts and cook until golden brown on both sides (around 8 minutes; try not to flip them over more than twice). Remove from skillet and transfer to a plate. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the Madeira and Worcestershire sauce. Return the pheasant and any juices from the plate to the pan. Spoon the mushroom and onion mixture over the pheasant. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until opaque throughout (about 20 minutes). Stir in the tarragon at the last minute and season with salt and pepper to your liking. To serve, plate one breast on each plate, spoon the mushroom mixture on top (with the juices... ohhh, the juices!) and serve immediately.

29 April 2010

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

I asked all my bridesmaids. Doug asked all his groomsmen. We asked our flower girl and ring bearer. Now, it is time to ask one more person to be a part of our special day. This person has known me since 2nd grade and shares in many similar interests, especially cooking and entertaining. She has classic style and has been a great family friend over the years. I would be honored if you would be my personal attendant, Carol. It would mean so much to me!!! I wanted to ask you in a cute way, and... well, I figured we could enjoy some of these coconut macaroons the next time I am in town... after we find that perfect dress!

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
(Adapted from W-S Entertaining)
Yield: 16 bites

3 C. Sweetened Coconut, shredded
3/4 C. Sugar
5 Large Egg Whites, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp. Almond Extract
8 oz. Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate

Combine the coconut, sugar, egg whites, vanilla and almond extract in a medium bowl; mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until it is cold. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use a silicone baking mat). Using a spoon, scoop and pack the coconut mixture into 16 small, rounded domes and place them on the baking sheet. Bake until golden (about 30 minutes). I switched it to broil for the last minute of baking to reach the golden color I wanted. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely. Line the pan with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Put the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Carefully melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Dip the bottom of each macaroon in the melted chocolate. Place on the lined pan, chocolate side down. Chill until the chocolate is firm (about 1 hour). These will keep well in the fridge for 3 days; keep covered.

28 April 2010

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs

Doug's dad gave us the other William's Sonoma Bride and Groom cookbook. Molly gave us the one for entertaining. Doug's dad gave us the one for cooking together. And by "cooking together," that must mean: Becky slaves away in the kitchen while Doug watches her cook and drinks a Boulevard Wheat. Right?

Just kidding! I'm lucky that he is such a great sous chef! The roasted chicken made my place smell like garlic, lemon, and rosemary. I cannot think of a better combination. It was a perfect meal for a rainy evening. Thanks for the cookbook, Dr. D!

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs
(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
Yield: 2 Servings

1 Roasting Chicken, about 1.5 lb
1/2 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper, freshly ground
3 Cloves Garlic, lightly crushed
4 Small Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
1/2 Lemon, scrubbed

Remove any organs from the cavity. You'll want to season the chicken 3 hours before you roast it. Rub salt and pepper over the entire surface of the chicken (including the cavity, back, wings, and thighs)! Use your index finger to carefully separate the skin from the breast meat without tearing it. Cut 1 garlic clove in half and place the laves and 1 rosemary sprig under the skin. Place the other clove inside the cavity with the other rosemary sprigs. Cover and refrigerate until 30 minutes before you are ready to cook the chicken. Take the chicken out of the fridge and let it come closer to room temperature. Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Just before roasting, squeeze the juice from the lemon over the chicken and place the lemon inside the cavity. Put the chicken in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken in the oven for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350F degrees; roast, turning the pan around once halfway through the cooking time. You want the skin to be crispy and golden brown (thermometer should read 175F degrees when inserted in the thigh). Start checking the temperature after 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for 10 minutes before carving.

26 April 2010

Sesame Cucumber Salad

I have been terrible at posting recipes lately. My apologies!! It has been entirely too busy these past few weeks, so I'm happy to finally have some time to be in the kitchen. Doug thinks that cooking is my ultimate source of relaxation... I'm glad that he knows me so well! Our "matchmaker" gave us the Bride & Groom Entertaining cookbook from Williams-Sonoma for an engagement gift. I already have lots of great recipes flagged and this recipe for sesame cucumber salad caught my eye first. Thanks Molly!!

Sesame Cucumber Salad
(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
Yield: 2 Servings

1 English Cucumber
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Sugar
1/8 C. Rice Vinegar
1 Small Clove Garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp. Sesame Seeds
2 Green Onions

Peel the cucumber (leaving some of the green part). Cut it in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a small spoon. Thinly slice the cucumber crosswise. Combine the cucumber, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Toss to distribute the sugar and salt evenly; let sit for 20 minutes. Transfer to a sieve or colander; rinse and drain well. In a serving bowl, stir together the vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds. Add the cucumbers and toss to coat. Thinly slice the green onion and sprinkle them on top. Cover and refrigerate until chilled (about 1 hour). This can be refrigerated for up to one day before serving. Serve cold.

19 April 2010

Coconut-Lime Banana Bread

I received a message from one of my awesome followers and she said that she was making my coffee chocolate chip banana bread for the fifth time! That is great, but how about we change it up a little for spring?! I saw this recipe for coconut-lime banana bread and thought it sounded kind of interesting. Doug thought it sounded disgusting. Guess who proved him wrong? Me. I made this banana bread and he devoured one of the mini loaves in no time at all! Proof that bananas + coconut + lime glaze = Yummy!

Coconut-Lime Banana Bread
(Adapted from Our Best Bites via Cooking Light)
Yield: 2 mini loaves or 1 large loaf

2 C. Flour
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 C. Sugar
4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 C. Ripe Bananas (about 4 large), mashed
1/4 C. Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt (I used a mix of both)
3 Tbsp. Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 C. Coconut Flakes + 2 Tbsp Additional Coconut (for topping)
1/2 C. Powdered Sugar (Optional - for lime glaze)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice (Optional - for lime glaze)

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar until incorporated. Add the eggs (one at a time), bananas, sour cream/yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat until combined. Next, slowly add the flour mixture at low speed until just combined. Now you will want to stir in the 1/2 C. of coconut flakes. Pour batter into two mini loaf pans (or 1 large loaf pan) that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. (This made more than enough batter for me, so I didn't even use all of the batter in the loaf pans). Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. of coconut flakes. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, check for doneness, and cover with a piece of foil if the top looks like it is getting too brown. The total cooking time will be about 1 hour. When done, remove pan from the oven and let rest on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool. If you want to add the lime glaze, then mix together the powdered sugar and fresh lime juice; drizzle over the top of the banana bread. Cool completely before slicing.

16 April 2010

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

Do you want to know what I am doing right now? ...Eating lunch! I literally just snapped a picture of my lunch and now I am posting the recipe while I eat. Don't you wish you could enjoy this lunch too?! Ahhh the benefits of being able to work from home! Verdict on this recipe: I will definitely be making this again. I think it would be a nice change to our normal summertime barbecues at the lake! Have a fabulous weekend!!

Buffalo Turkey Burgers
Yield: 6 servings

1.2 lbs. Lean Ground Turkey
1/2 White Onion, finely chopped
1/3 C. Bread Crumbs
Salt and Pepper (to your liking)
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/3 C. Buffalo Sauce or Hot Sauce
6 Slices of Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese
6 Hamburger Buns (go to your favorite bakery!)
Lettuce (for serving)
Celery Sticks (for serving)

In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, chopped onion, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Once it has been incorporated, form it into 6 equally-sized patties. In a large skillet (or two), heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the turkey burger patties to the skillet. Cook on each side for at least 7 minutes (depending on the thickness of your burger). Once the burgers are done, toss them in a bowl of buffalo sauce. Set the burgers on a baking sheet lined with foil, place a piece of mozzarella cheese on top and put them in the oven to broil for 2 mintues. At this time, you may wish to toast the hamburger buns in the oven. I find that some people do NOT like their buns toasted! :) When you are ready to serve, place a small piece of lettuce on each bun, top it off with the burger and voila! Serve with celery sticks, blue cheese dressing, and baked sweet potato fries.

14 April 2010

Tomato, Artichoke + Goat Cheese Tarts

I made these tomato, artichoke, and goat cheese tarts for a dinner party appetizer. I found a similar recipe from Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics cookbook, but it sounded a little time-consuming with the caramelized onions. I simply replaced the caramelized onions with artichoke hearts and the end result was definitely something worth repeating! I loved the fact that I could prep everything earlier in the day. When I brought it over to the party, all I had to do was preheat the oven, assemble the tarts, and quickly bake them. Super easy and super delicious!

Tomato, Artichoke & Goat Cheese Tarts
(Adapted from Ina Garten)
Yield: 12 Tartlets

1 Package (2 sheets) Puff Pastry, defrosted
2 Tbsp. Good Olive Oil
3 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves, roughly chopped
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
1 14 oz. Can Artichoke Hearts, quartered
3 Tbsp. Basil Leaves, julienne
4 oz. Goat Cheese
4 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated

Unfold each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and lightly roll it out. Using a 3 to 4-inch circle pastry cutter (or cookie cutter), cut 6 circles from each sheet of puff pastry; discard the scraps. Place the 12 pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. You can also make the tomato/artichoke topping ahead of time too. Simply place the quartered cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste), thyme and basil leaves in a plastic container with a lid.

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each puff pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and lightly brush olive oil on the border of the tart. Place a small spoonful of the tomato/artichoke mixture on top of each puff pastry. Crumble some of the goat cheese on top of each tart and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.

12 April 2010

Mediterranean Snapper

Get ready for the best meal of the grilling season. Hands-down. The best. My aunt Bess had about 16 people over for dinner the other night and threw together a magnificent meal. I asked her for the recipe because I knew that all of you would want the recipe too! It was delicious! If you can't find fresh snapper, then use any other firm white fish. Escolar might be a nice (and more budget-friendly) choice if you would prefer the same taste without shelling out extra bucks! This girl has to start saving for a wedding!

Mediterranean Snapper
(Guest Chef: Aunt Bess)
Yield: 4 Servings

4 Red Snapper Fillets
2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
1 C. Calamata Olives, pitted, drained & chopped
1 C. Roasted Red Peppers, chopped
1/4 C. Raisins
1/8 C. Orange Juice
Almonds, toasted & sliced
Olive Oil (for drizzling)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1 Bulb Fennel, thinly sliced
1 Small Red Onion, thinly sliced
2 Carrots, slice to thin julienne

Get the grill going to a fairly high temperature. Be sure to scrape and spray with olive oil first! Sprinkle snapper lightly with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper; set back in the fridge. In a saute pan with a bit of olive oil, saute the garlic for about 1 minute. Then, add the olives, red peppers, raisins, and orange juice; simmer on low until liquid evaporates. Keep warm on lowest heat.

For the fennel bed: In a separate saute pan, heat a little olive oil and add the fennel, red onion, and carrot. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until soft. Keep warm on low. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil on snapper and grill (about 3 minutes per side - depending on thickness of fish). To plate, make a little bed of fennel/onion/carrot, place snapper on top and then garnish with the calamata olive/raisin mixture on top. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. We served this dish with a simple green salad lightly dressed in a lemon vinaigrette, asparagus spears, and couscous with basil and pine nuts.

09 April 2010

Shrimp Scampi

I cannot wait to have another couple over for dinner soon, because I know exactly what I'm going to make... Shrimp scampi! This was soooo delicious. It is another recipe from the cookbook that Sara sent me. We're still picking out recipes together - it is super fun to have a long-distance cooking buddy! I loved the heat from the red pepper flakes and the lemon flavor from the freshly-squeezed juice on top of it all! Seriously, do yourself a favor and make this ASAP! You'll thank me later :)

Shrimp Scampi
(Adapted from Cook Yourself Thin)
Yield: 4 Servings

8 oz. Whole Wheat or Regular Linguine
1 1/2 tsp. Cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp Cold Water
1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
1 lb. Medium to Large Raw Shrimp, shelled & deveined
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 C. Chicken Stock, low-sodium & reduced fat
1/4 C. White Wine (like Pinot Grigio)
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
3 Scallions (white & green parts), sliced
3 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chiffonade
1 tsp. Unsalted Butter
1/3 C. Parmesan Cheese, finely grated (optional)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
Lemon Wedges (for garnish)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold water; set aside. Heat the olive oil with the garlic in a large nonstick pan over medium heat until garlic is fragrant (watch it so it doesn't turn brown)! Sprinkle the shrimp with salt. Add to the pan and cook, turning, until the shrimp turns pink on both sides. Stir in the red pepper flakes and add the wine; simmer for 1 minute. Remove the shrimp to a plate and keep covered. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and return to a boil. Remove from heat and add the scallions and herbs. When the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander. Return the shrimp to the skillet, add butter, and cook over medium heat, tossing in the sauce until warm (1 to 2 minutes). Transfer the pasta to the serving bowl, add the contents of the skillet, and toss. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper. Garnish with a lemon wedge and serve immediately.

08 April 2010

Marinated Goat Cheese

I needed an appetizer that I could throw together in a heartbeat. I have been saving this one in my recipe box for exactly that moment. With Doug as my sous-chef, we were literally out the door in two minutes! Are you not so talented in the kitchen but want to impress your friends with a gourmet-looking appetizer? Make this! And don't forget to bring a bottle of wine! Mmm... are wine and cheese on a wedding diet? I hope so!

Marinated Goat Cheese
Yield: 8 Servings

1 (8 oz) Log Fresh Goat Cheese
1/4 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use your best stuff)
A few Thyme Sprigs and Leaves
1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt, freshly ground
1/8 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground

Place the goat cheese on a cute serving platter or in a small, shallow serving bowl. Pour the olive oil over the goat cheese log and sprinkle with thyme, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. It's that simple! Cover with non-stick plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for one hour. Let it sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before serving. You'll want to serve this with crackers or a thinly sliced and toasted baguette.

06 April 2010

Easter Cookies + An Announcement

I made these sugar cookies for Easter on Friday of last week. (Recipe found here)

Now, the average foodie follower would ask me, "Becky, why did you take so long to post these pictures?" Well, the answer is:
I had quite the busy weekend...

It was my birthday on Saturday.

My boyfriend, Doug, gave me a wonderful birthday present. I know you all remember Doug from his Romantic Valentine's Dinner, right?!

Oh, and when I make homemade food gifts for my friends, I'll get to use this awesome embosser from his parents:

Why? Well, because WE'RE ENGAGED!!!!!