Monday, March 2, 2009

Staying Home All Day?

If so, then this might be the recipe for you! This bolognese sauce, from Ann Burrell (really quirky new chef on the Food Network) took about 5 and a half hours from beginning to end. Was it worth it? I think so. This sauce had such a nice depth of flavor, plus anything with this much meat pleases the husband (I've been known to go days, and possibly even weeks w/out cooking meat for dinner). The great thing, is that it makes enough sauce for 2 boxes of pasta (I used a 13.5 oz box of whole grain spaghetti), so you can freeze half of it for another time if you want to!

The most important thing to note before trying this dish, which you'd definitely remember if you watch the Ms. Burrell make this on her Food Network show, is to be incredibly patient during the browning of the vegetables and then the browning of the meat. This is such an important step - so important in fact that Ann writes it into the recipe in all caps! Don't be tempted to rush through this like I usually am!!

James' Favorite

The meal presented here is probably one of James' all time favorite dishes, and one of mine too. I got this recipe from his mother, who used to make it frequently when we were dating. While it's not the healthiest recipe around (I close my eyes when I'm adding the butter), it's definitely worth the extra calories! We also had this dish at our wedding!

Chicken Francaise
Recipe courtesy my mother in law, Betty


  • 8 boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup eggs, beaten (5 or 6 eggs)
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. butter
Wine Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Lightly pound chicken breasts to flatten. Dust chicken in flour and set aside. Make the batter by beating eggs briskly, then beating in lemon juice, parsley salt, wine, garlic, hot pepper sauce, and parmesan cheese. Coat skillet (non-stick works best) with olive oil and butter and place over medium high heat. Dip floured chicken pieces in batter, coat generously and place in heated skillet. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 5-7 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and drain excess fat. Make wine sauce. Melt butter in the pan, then stir in the wine and lemon juice. Return chicken to the pan, spooning the wine sauce over all and cook for about one minute longer. Serve Immediately (I also topped with some extra chopped parsley).

I served this with mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus. Enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Onion Soup

This recipe was surprisingly tasty considering it's simplicity. It will definitely be repeated at our dinner table!

Onion Soup with Fontina and Thyme

Recipe courtesy Giada Di Laurentiis and Food Network

  • 3 T Olive Oil
  • 2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • 1 t fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 4 slices ciabatta bread, cubed
  • 4 oz sliced fontina cheese
  • 4 oven-proof ramekins


In a medium, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and broth. Simmer, uncovered, until the onions are soft, about 15 minutes.
Divide the soup between the 4 ovenproof ramekins. Divide the cubed bread among the ramekins. Top each with slices of fontina cheese. Place under the broiler, until the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Serve immediately.
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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

2008 was definitely a rocky year for a number of reasons, but I still count myself lucky to be married to a wonderful man, have a job that I enjoy, and great friends and family around! It is now 2009 and I resolve to be better about updating this blog! I certainly haven't stopped cooking, but when school started in September I hit the ground running and didn't have the patience to keep photographing my creations each night. What better time to start back up again than with a delicious New Years meal!

My husband loves steak, but I really don't and since I'm the cook of the family, we really never eat it. So for our special dinner I knew steak was a necessary treat. We balanced that out with one of my favorite seafood dishes - baked stuffed shrimp. For sides we had Wild Mushroom Risotto and sauteed asparagus. Delicious! **Note: Please excuse the quality of my photographs. I didn't want our food to get cold!

Pan Seared Rib Eye
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

  • 1 boneless rib eye steak, 1 1/2-inch thick
  • Canola oil to coat
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Place 10 to 12-inch cast iron skillet in oven and heat oven to 500 degrees. Bring steak(s) to room temperature.

When oven reaches temperature, remove pan and place on range over high heat. Coat steak lightly with oil and season both sides with a generous pinch of salt. Grind on black pepper to taste.

Immediately place steak in the middle of hot, dry pan. Cook 30 seconds without moving. Turn with tongs and cook another 30 seconds, then put the pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes. Flip steak and cook for another 2 minutes. (This time is for medium rare steaks. If you prefer medium, add a minute to both of the oven turns.

Remove steak from pan, cover loosely with foil, and rest for 2 minutes. Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto plate.

Mushroom Risotto

Recipe courtesty Tyler Florence


  • 8 cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, diced, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 pound fresh portobello and crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms, wiped of grit
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese grated
  • Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in truffle oil then add the dried porcini mushrooms which were reconstituted in1 cup of warm chicken broth. Season again with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Saute 1 minute then remove from heat and set aside.

Coat a saucepan with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute the remaining 1/2 onion and garlic clove. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute. This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking. Stir in wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated.

Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the warm broth and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted. Top with a drizzle of truffle oil and chopped parsley before serving.

Baked Stuffed Shrimp

Recipe courtesy Gourmet/Epicurious


  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (about 1/4 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery ribs
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound scallops, chopped, or lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 32 Ritz crackers (about two thirds of a 12-ounce package), crushed into coarse crumbs
  • 18 jumbo shrimp (about 2 pounds), shelled, leaving tail and connecting shell segment intact
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Accompaniment: lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 375°F. and butter a large baking dish.

In a large heavy skillet cook mushrooms, onion, celery, garlic, and parsley in butter over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add scallops or crabmeat and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir in broth and cracker crumbs and remove skillet from heat.

Butterfly shrimp by cutting lengthwise along inside curve, almost completely through. Split open shrimp and devein. Mound about 2 tablespoons stuffing onto each shrimp, pressing gently, and put shrimp, stuffed sides up, in baking dish. Melt butter and drizzle over shrimp. Sprinkle shrimp with paprika and bake 20 minutes, or until stuffing is golden.

Garnish shrimp with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Corn Chowder

The hubby and I really enjoyed this soup. As a bonus, it's pretty filling and light - even with the use of bacon!

Corn Chowder
Recipe courtesy of
The Kitchen Sink

  • 4 ounces of bacon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock (low-sodium or homemade)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels shaved from the cob and one shaved cob reserved
  • Greek yogurt, for garnish
  • snipped chives, for garnish

Fry the bacon in the bottom of a large soup pot, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Drain the bacon drippings from the pot, but do not wipe out the pot. Return the pot to the stove, turn the heat up to medium high and heat the olive oil in the pot. Add the onion, celery and herbs (through the black pepper). Stir to coat the vegetables with the oil and herbs and cook until the onions have become translucent and soft (several minutes). Add the potatoes and cook for five minutes, until the potatoes have begun to soften. Turn the heat down to low and sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Stir and cook for several minutes.

Add the chicken stock and water. Crumble the bacon and add all but 1 tablespoon to the soup. Next, stir in the corn kernels. Finally, add the reserved, shaved cob of corn to the soup (which will help flavor and thicken the broth). Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Before serving, remove the shaved corn cob and taste the soup for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. Serve the soup with a dollop of Greek yogurt, snipped chives and the reserved crumbled bacon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My first meme!

This is a week of firsts!

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results
5) added by other memers: italicize ones you'd like to try

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (I call them Doughboys!)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Hmm...I guess I haven't really eaten a lot of these things,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

sushi, sushi, sushi!! (My First Blogging Event!)

I'm so excited to be participating in my first blogging event! After making maki rolls three times in 1 week, I didn't really have any excuses for not entering Joelen's Makin' Maki Sushi Event!

Anyway, here's how it all started...

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting some new friends who live in our town. Better yet, one of these new friends, Masako, is awesome at making sushi! She was kind enough to have a few of us over to her place for a sushi and spring roll lunch. I've attempted to make maki (sushi rolls) before, but it was great to get some tips from someone with more experience.

Here's a shot of the supplies:

For the salmon sushi, we layered cooked sushi rice on a half sheet of nori with cream cheese and slices of smoked salmon. The key to rolling the sushi is to use a rolling mat, and to make sure you aim the first roll for the middle, and then squeeze tight before continuing to roll. Here's me with a successful roll (my second try).

We also made some rolls with eel that Masako got at the Asian market.
In addition to sushi, Masako showed us how to make fried spring rolls. These were delicious!

Spring Rolls
Recipe courtesy Masako

  • ground pork
  • cooked shrimp
  • bean sprouts
  • rice noodles (softened in hot water)
  • sliced mushrooms
  • carrots, chopped
  • scallions, chopped
  • egg roll wrappers
  • oil for frying
  • water for wrapping

Start by heating a skillet at medium high heat. Brown the pork, then add the mushrooms, carrots, and scallions. Once the mushrooms and carrots have started to soften, add bean sprouts, shrimp, and noodles. Mix and cook ingredients until softened and heated through.

Lay an egg roll wrapper on a clean, dry surface. Place a couple spoonfuls of the mixture onto the center of the wrapper. Fold one corner in toward the center, fold in the side corners, and roll until closed (pictures would have helped here, sorry!). Dab the last corner with some water to make it stick. Repeat until you've used up all the mixture.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry spring rolls until golden brown (about 1 minute on each side). Place on a paper towel to drain. Enjoy!

OK, so after making sushi with Masako, I was feeling motivated and have made sushi two more times since!! Once with my sisters (not pictured) and another time for the hubby. This time I decided to make california rolls.

  • sushi rolling mat
  • nori (seaweed wrappers)
  • sushi rice
  • rice wine vinegar (about 1/4 cup? I didn't measure)
  • avocado, sliced
  • cucumber, peeled and sliced into thin sticks
  • crabstick
  • soy sauce for dipping


Prepare sushi rice as directed on bag (I made about 3 cups of rice for 5 california rolls). Let the rice cool to room temperature and mix in rice wine vinegar. Lay a sheet of nori on your rolling mat. Wet your hands with some water (to prevent sticking), and grab a handful of rice. Spread the rice on the nori, covering about half the sheet. Lay one line of sliced avocado, crabstick, and cucumber across. Roll your sushi, making sure to press tightly as you go. Repeat with your next nori sheet!

Using a sharp knife, slice the roll into 6-8 pieces. Dip in soy sauce and enjoy!