Friday, December 31, 2010

May These Orange Creamsicle Cookies Bring You Good Fortune in 2011!

I can't believe it's the last day of 2010! I mean, this year really flew by and now it's time to look forward to 2011. According to Wikipedia, oranges symbolize good fortune during Chinese New Year so I decided to bake some Orange Creamsicle Cookies. Orange Creamsicles were one of my favorite frozen treats as a kid and these cookies definitely tasted like them! They're loaded with tons of orange flavor and sweet creaminess from the white chocolate chips. Happy 2011 everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reminding Me of My China Inn Days!

I worked at the food court in the mall during a summer in high school, specifically at a place called China Inn. (It's been replaced a few years ago.) It's basically exactly like Panda Express and I remember our most popular item was Kung Pao Chicken. It was definitely my favorite item too and I really wanted to recreate it at home. I decided on this recipe cuz it didn't require deep-frying the chicken like many of the other ones and it turned out SO good! Marinating the chicken in the cornstarch mixture was the key to tender and flavorful meat. I was also excited to use my Dried Chilies again and they gave the dish such a nice spicy kick! This meal definitely took me back to my China Inn Days (minus the awful apron and cap)! "Would you like a sample?"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Testing Out My New Baking Toy!

We received a Williams Sonoma Gift Card for our wedding so I went shopping and found a new Cookie Press. (The one I have was really cheap and didn't work so well.) I couldn't wait to test it out and made some Rosemary Cheese Spritz Cookies. They were super cheesy and WAY better than any store-bought Cheese Crackers! (Move over Cheez-It!) I just love the idea of Savory Spritz Cookies and can't wait to try other cheese and herb combinations!

Cold Nights were Made for Comfort Food!

I know parts of the country is buried under snow but 40 degrees is COLD for California! We've got the fireplace going and we're craving comfort food! I can't think of anything more comforting than Pork Chops and Mashed Potatoes so that's what we had for dinner. These aren't just your ordinary pork chops though. They're Cranberry-Stuffed Pork Chops and SO SO Good! Sweet and Tangy and just perfect inside of the pork. Some of the stuffing fell out during the cooking process, which was perfect since I made a gravy in the same pan. I mean, you just can't have Mashed Potatoes without Gravy, can you?




Ingredients:


2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1/2 c chopped onion
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 c stuffing mix
1/2 c chicken broth
2 boneless pork loin chops (1-inch thick)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil


Gravy:
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c heavy whipping cream


Mashed Potatoes, for serving


Prep:


1. In a small skillet, sauté the onion in butter until tender. Stir in the stuffing mix, broth and cranberries. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes or until moisture is absorbed.


2. Cut a deep slit in each pork chop, forming a pocket. Stuff cranberry mixture into pork; secure with toothpicks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


3. In a Dutch oven, cook pork in oil for 8-10 minutes on each side until pork is no longer pink and a meat thermometer reads 160°. Remove and keep warm.


4. Add flour and rosemary to the pan juices; stir until blended. Gradually stir in broth and cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over pork and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting Fancy with Chicken Cordon Bleu!

I've ALWAYS wanted to make Chicken Cordon Bleu but was intimidated by the dish. I just didn't think I could do the whole rolling thing especially since Greg only likes thigh meat. Well, tonight I proved myself wrong and I'm SO glad I did! The chicken tasted so good with the melted Swiss cheese and salty Prosciutto inside. I even managed to make some Creamy Fettucini to go with it! I guess I'm a better cook than I give myself credit for!




Ingredients:


2 skinless, boneless thighs
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 slices Prosciutto
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 c chicken broth
1 tsp cornstarch
1/3 c heavy whipping cream
Fettuccine, for serving


Prep:


1. Place chicken thighs between plastic wrap and pound to 1/2-inch thick. Place a slice of cheese and a slice of Prosciutto on each thigh within 1/2-inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling and secure with toothpicks. Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.


2. Heat the oil and butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and browned 3 minutes on all sides. Add the broth, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.


3. Remove the toothpicks, and transfer the breasts to a serving platter. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, and pour over the chicken. Serve with Fettuccini.


Fettuccine with Prosciutto, Cream and Nutmeg


1 Tbsp butter
2 slices Prosciutto, cut into thin slices
1/4 c heavy cream
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 oz Fettuccini, cooked according to package


Melt butter in a saucepan on low heat. Add the prosciutto and stir until lightly brown. Add the cream and nutmeg and cook and stir until reduced it by 1/3. Toss with cooked pasta, add the Parmesan, toss again, and serve.

What's Better Than Oatmeal Raisin Bread?

APPLE Oatmeal Raisin Bread! I saw this recipe and knew I wanted to try it. They came out SO good and made the kitchen smell amazing with the cinnamon and nutmeg. I baked Mini Loaves so they only took about 20 minutes in the oven. If you like Oatmeal Raisin anything, you will absolutely LOVE these!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Yes Ketchup Can Be Chinese!

If you know my husband, you know he LOVES Ketchup and not just ANY Ketchup, HEINZ Ketchup. So for a fun stocking stuffer, I got him the Heinz Tomato Ketchup Cookbook. (Well, it was more for me but anyway!) I was flipping through it and found a really interesting recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork. I've read somewhere that restaurants sometimes add Ketchup to this dish so I thought I'd give it a try. I added some bell peppers to the mix for color and that extra crunch. It came out SO flavorful and tasted as if it came out of a Chinese restaurant! There are some other really yummy-looking recipes in the book so stay tuned!




Ingredients: (2 servings)


2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 lb pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Heinz Tomato Ketchup
1/4 c water
1 c pineapple chunks
Rice, for serving


Prep:


1. Heat the oil in a wok on medium-high, then fry the pork until any traces of fat are just golden and crispy, about 4-5 minutes, ensuring the meat is cooked through. Remove pork from the wok with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.


2. Pour out any excess oil, leaving a coating in the wok, and add the bell pepper, green onion, ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, ketchup and water and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken slightly.


3. Return the pork to the wok, add pineapple and stir it in the hot sauce for 2 minutes. Serve over rice.

My Favorite Sandwich in Muffin Form!

My favorite sandwich is ham and cheese with avocado so when I saw these Avocado Cheddar Muffins, I knew I had to give them a try. I substituted ham for the bacon and added some fresh parsley to the mix. They came out tasting just like my favorite sandwich and such yummy savory treats!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Not the Prettiest Thing I've Made

Meatloaf does NOT photograph well and this was no exception. I only wanted to share this picture cuz I've discovered a new use for my cast iron pan. I don't cook with it nearly enough besides making skillet cornbreads once in a while and I'm always looking for new recipes to make in it. This meatloaf had the most amazing crust on the top and bottom thanks to the cast iron and it stayed really moist inside. The combination of beef and pork gave it great flavor along with the tomato sauce and cheese. I also loved the idea of browning the onions first and then baking the meatloaf in the same skillet. We were definitely in meat heaven tonight!




Ingredients:


2 Tbsp salted butter
1 c chopped yellow onion
1 c fresh bread crumbs
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
2 large eggs
1 c grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp Italian seasoning
Ketchup, for serving


Prep:


1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.


2. In a 10 or 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Place all the remaining ingredients in the bowl with the onions, and mix together with your hands until well blended. Form into a football-shaped loaf in the same cast-iron skillet.


3. Place the skillet in the oven and back until the center is no longer pink, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes. Pour off the excess fat and juices. Slice and serve hot with ketchup for dipping.

Another Fun Christmas with my Mommy!

For the past few years, my mom has stayed with me during Christmas and we always have the best time! It always involves LOTS of yummy food, chick flicks and laughs and this year was no different. We kicked things off with Paula Deen's 3 Cheese Artichoke Dip Friday afternoon. I mean, anything with cream cheese, parmesan AND mozzarella can't possibly be bad right? It was SO good and we basically snacked on it the entire night and were both way too full for dinner! (Of course, we did save room for a box of Godiva Chocolates cuz hey, it IS the holidays after all!)




We woke up pretty hungry Christmas morning since we didn't really have a real dinner so I made us a special treat, Stuffed French Toast with Apple-Pecan Syrup. It's a very simple but VERY yummy recipe. (All the recipes will be at the end of this post.) The savory ham and cheese paired just perfectly with the sweet apple and honey. My mom loved it so much she almost licked the plate clean!




We wanted to go out to a movie but it was so wet and windy outside that we decided to stay in. We'd both been wanting to see Eat, Pray, Love so we got comfy on the couch and ordered it. My mom really liked it but I thought it was just ok. It was definitely a fun chick flick to watch together though! After the movie, we were ready for more food so I made some Gralicy Biscuits. It tasted like Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits, which we both just LOVE!




We were still pretty full from the brunch and biscuits but it was Christmas so we couldn't skip dinner! We decided to have something a bit lighter with a Thin-crust Shrimp Pizza and Salad. The pizza tasted amazing with the roasted tomatoes and extra large shrimp! The Salad was also really tasty with crunchy apples, candied pecans, cranberries and blue cheese. Even though it was a pretty light meal, we both felt very stuffed from a full day of eating and fell into a nice food coma for the night! I hope everyone had as nice of a Christmas as we did!




Stuffed French Toast with Apple Pecan Syrup


Ingredients: (2 servings)


1 apple, diced
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp chopped pecans
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp butter
1 egg
1/2 c whole milk
1 small bread roll sliced into 4 (1-inch thick) slices
2 slices Provolone cheese
2 slices ham


Prep:


1. In a small saucepan, combine the apple, honey, pecans and vanilla extract; cook over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.


2. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg and milk. Top 2 slices of bread with 1 slice of the cheese and ham each and remaining bread slices. Dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture, turn and make sure all sides are coated well. Let sandwich soak for 2 minutes.


3. In a skillet melt butter over low heat. Place sandwiches on top of the melted butter and cook until the bread is browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the sandwiches and cook until 2nd side is browned and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes longer.


4. Transfer the sandwich to servings plates and top with the apple syrup.


Garlicy Biscuits


Ingredients (9-10 biscuits)


2 c Bisquick
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2/3 c whole milk
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp dried parsley


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.


2. Mix Bisquick, milk, and cheddar cheese until soft dough forms; beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop 1/4-cup biscuits onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.


3. Mix melted butter, garlic powder, and dried parsley; brush generously over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet. Serve warm.


Thin-crust Shrimp Pizza


Ingredients:


2 flour tortillas
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 c grape tomatoes, roasted
2 Tbsp fresh basil, cut into strips
6 large shrimp, cut into chunks
1/2 c Italian cheese blend


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.


2. Lightly brush entire topside of each tortilla with butter. Stack 1 on top of the other. Sprinkle garlic powder and Parmesan cheese on top. Add tomatoes, basil and shrimp on top. Sprinkle Italian cheese on top.


3. Brush a pizza pan lightly with vegetable oil and sprinkle lightly with ground black pepper and salt. Place pizza on pan and cook 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and cut into wedges.


Blue Cheese Apple Salad with Candied Pecans and Cranberries


Ingredients:


Candied pecans:
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 c raw pecans


Maple-balsamic dressing:
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
Salt and black pepper


2 c salad mix
1 apple, sliced
1/4 c Blue cheese
2 Tbsp dried cranberries


Prep:


1. To make the candied pecans, set a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the butter and sugar and once it has melted toss in the pecans and continue to toss to coat and cook evenly, about 1 minute. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with waxed paper (use 2 forks to separate pecans) while you prepare the salad.


2. Make the dressing by combining the Dijon and balsamic vinegar in a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while you whisk to emulsify. Add the maple syrup and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.


3. Assemble salad by tossing greens and apple slices in a large mixing bowl with maple-balsamic dressing. Top with Blue cheese, cranberries and candied pecans.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Buttery Holiday Spritz Cookies!

It's been a while since I've used my Cookie Press. It's such a simple gadget and makes just the most festive cookies! I used this recipe for Butter Spritz Cookies and they turned out so buttery and yummy! I just love the soft texture of these cookies with that lil sugary crunch on top! What could be better on Christmas Eve?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Early Christmas Dinner

Greg is flying down to his parents' house tomorrow so we celebrated Christmas early and I couldn't wait to tear open my presents! As always, my hubby showered me with lots of goodies and my biggest surprise was the awesome Mandolin he got me! I had attempted to make Sweet Potato Chips over the weekend and totally failed cuz my Mandolin wasn't able to cut the potatoes paper-thin. I had mentioned getting a better one and didn't know he actually took that as a hint! I'm such a lucky girl! For our special Christmas dinner, I cooked up some yummy pork chops with cranberry stuffing and creamy pear sauce served over mashed sweet potatoes. I'm proud to say that it's my own recipe and it was REALLY REALLY good! Yummy dinner with lots of presents, what more could you ask for? I just LOVE the holidays!




Ingredients:


2 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 c apple juice
4 oz stuffing mix
1/4 c dried cranberries
2 1-inch-thick bone-in pork chops
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 c onion, chopped
1 Dole Pear Cup, undrained
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 c heavy cream


Prep:


1. In a small pot, Bring 1 Tbsp butter and apple juice to a boil. Add the stuffing mix and cranberries. Cover and take off heat.


2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chops and brown for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.


4. Add onion, pear and thyme to pan. Cook, stirring up any brown bits, until browned, 5 minutes. Add cream and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced and thickened, 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 Tbsp butter. 


5. Serve chops over mashed sweet potatoes topped with stuffing and pear sauce.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Going Moroccan Tonight!

Tonight's dinner was inspired by Rachael Ray's Moroccan Meatloaves from her new show Week in a Day. I've watched the show a few times but couldn't really get into it. I guess I love cooking every night so I don't need to spend a day prepping for the rest of the week! She does have some great recipes on the show though and you don't need to make them ahead of time. These lamb meatloaves came out great and of course, I had to put my own spin on them. So here's my version of Moroccan Meatloaves.




Ingredients:


Meatloaf:
1/2 lb ground lamb
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 onion, diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 c panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped


Gravy:
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 c mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c chicken stock
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp heavy cream
Couscous, for serving


Prep:


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. In a medium bowl, combine the meat, onion, garlic, panko, olive oil, egg, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon and parsley. Mix well and form into a mini meatloaf. Bake on sheet pan until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 160°F, about 25 to 30 minutes.


2. Meanwhile, melt butter to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Scatter the flour over the mushrooms and stir until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, honey, and salt and pepper.


3. Slide the meat loaves into the sauce and turn to coat. Remove them to a serving plate and raise the heat to high. Boil until sauce thickens, 2 minutes. Stir in cream and pour over meat loaves. Serve with couscous.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Sweet Potato Goodness!

Tonight I made this Caribbean Chicken Casserole recipe that I found a while ago. I thought since Sweet Potatoes are in season, it would be the perfect time to try it. It turned out amazingly good! The sweet potatoes became so soft that they almost melted into the sauce, which tasted so decadent with the creamy coconut milk! This was DEFINITELY not your ordinary chicken dinner!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Welcoming my Hubby Home Neely Style!

Nothing says "Welcome Home" like pizza and tonight I welcomed Greg home with the Neely's Chicken Alfredo Pizza! I took a few shortcuts and used precooked chicken strips and Boboli Pizza Crust so it was very quick to put together. I've never made Alfredo Sauce from scratch before but it was really easy and definitely tasted better than the jarred stuff! I also used some left-over Roasted Grape Tomatoes, which tasted amazing on the pizza! What a great way to start off the weekend!

Tis the Season for Gingerbread!

Nothing says Christmas like Gingerbread but instead of making regular cookies, I made Biscotti and they turned out amazing! I found the recipe came from my Mother-in-Law's Fine Cooking Magazine during Thanksgiving and couldn't wait to try it. The only change I made was substituting dried cranberries for the apricots cuz I just love the red color for the holidays. I really like Biscotti and they're actually fairly easy to make. They're just a bit more time-consuming than regular cookies but totally worth it! I like mine very crunchy so I bake them for another 20 minutes the 2nd time around. I remember the first time I succeeded at making Biscotti and was so proud of myself. I've come a LONG way from then! Sometimes I look back on my blog and I'm so glad I started it cuz it really is a great way to see how far I've come from someone who barely knew how to make spaghetti!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Peppermint and Chocolate, What Could be Better?

I found some cool new baking chips last weekend and one of them was the Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels from Nestle. (I'm sure they're seasonal for the holidays.) I tested them out for Cookie Friday with these Mint Chocolate Delights and added some Peppermint Extract for that extra minty favor. I mean, what could be better than peppermint and chocolate especially around the holidays right?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sweet Potatoes are Yummy!

Can you believe I've never made Sweet Potatoes before? I've always been intimidated by how big and tough they are but I'm no longer scared of them! Tonight I made Mashed Sweet Potatoes and they turned out just perfect! I just pricked the potatoes with a fork all over and baked them in a 350°F oven for 1 hr and 15 min. Then I scooped out the flesh and mixed it with some butter, thyme, salt and pepper. That's it! So easy and a great change up from the regular Mashed Potatoes. I served it with some pork chops braised with apples and onions and it was the PERFECT fall meal! How pretty are those colors?

Apple and Cheddar Wins Again!

You know I think Apple and Cheddar make the PERFECT couple and this time they made PERFECT muffins! I found this recipe and loved the idea of sautéing the apple with some onions before adding them into the batter. It made the flavors more intense and gave the muffins a creamier texture. I omitted the nuts on top cuz I find them a bit strange in savory things even though I love them in any type of sweets. (It's a texture thing!) I brought some of these muffins to the office and everyone loved them!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Yummy Meal Featuring Coconut Curry!

I'm SO in love with Coconut Curry these days that I'm actually getting Coconut Milk from Costco this weekend! The combination literally tastes good on EVERYTHING and tonight it made a perfect Tilapia meal. The recipe came from A Taste of Thai, which is the brand of Coconut Milk I get. The spicy red curry and creamy coconut milk made such an amazing sauce and I made sure there was plenty of rice to soak it all up! We're not big fans of cilantro so I garnished with parsley instead. It's like a trip to Thailand without leaving the house! Weeknight meals just don't get better than this!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Loving the Neely's!

The Neely's used to get on my nerves being so lovey dovey and all but they totally grew on me! In fact, I even downloaded their last season to watch on my iPhone! Their recipes are simple and down to earth. (I guess that's why they're called "Down Home" with the Neely's right?) I watched their Christmas Special and one of the dishes that I knew I had to try was the Spicy Mac and Cheese. We LOVE Mac and Cheese at our house and I'm always looking for new ways to jazz it up and this dish did NOT disappoint! I couldn't find Chorizo or White Cheddar so I substituted some Spicy Pork Sausage and Sharp Yellow Cheddar instead. I've actually never roasted tomatoes before and at first I was gonna get lazy and skip that step but I'm SO glad I didn't! It only took 20 minutes and SO totally worth it! The tomatoes became so intensely flavorful and you'd never guess they were only drizzled with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I'm glad I made a double batch too cuz those tomatoes would be good in just about anything, even by themselves! Now back to how yummy the Mac and Cheese was. The crunchy Fried Onion topping was just PERFECT and we love spicy food so this was our kinda meal! I know the left-overs won't last long in the fridge!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meatloaf Meets Pizza AGAIN!

Meatloaf and Pizza are 2 of Greg's favorite meals and together, it just doesn't get any better! I totally forgot that I've made something similar before but this time I topped the pie with lots of tomatoes and bell peppers. I think when you have so many veggies in a dish, it makes you feel a lil less guilty about all the meat and cheese!




Ingredients:


1-1/2 lb ground beef
1-1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 plum tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.


2. Combine beef, 1/2 cup mozzarella, bread crumbs, 1/2 of the tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire and oregano in large bowl; stir until well blended.


3. Place meat mixture into 9-inch pie plate. Bake 35 minutes or until internal temperature reads 160°F. Drain fat.


4. Top with remaining mozzarella, tomato sauce, tomato, green bell pepper. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and veggies are soft. Cut into wedges to serve.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Honey!

It's Greg's birthday so I wanted to make something special and what could be better than Seared Scallops and Saffron Couscous? I was a lil disappointed cuz I got some HUGE scallops but they totally shrank on me! They tasted great but somehow smaller scallops just don't look as impressive. Oh well, the saffron was amazing in the couscous though and my honey was a happy birthday boy, which is all that matters in the end!




Ingredients:


6 large scallops
Salt and pepper
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c parmesan cheese, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp shallots, minced
Pinch of saffron
1/4 c dry white wine
1 c chicken stock
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 c couscous
Parsley, for garnish


Prep:


1. Season scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. Mix flour and half of the parmesan on a plate and dredge the scallops, shaking off excess.


2. Heat oil in a pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add scallops and cook until golden brown and caramelized, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate covered with foil.


3. Add butter and melt. Add shallots and saffron; cook, stirring, until translucent. Deglaze pan with wine, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer until wine is reduced by 1/2. Add stock, thyme, and salt. Bring to a boil and add couscous.


4. Cover the pan; remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in the remaining parmesan. Serve with scallops on top garnished with parsley.

Do You Like Spice Cookies?

One of my coworkers told me that she loves Spice Cookies so I thought I'd bake these Cranberry and Oatmeal Spice Cookies this Friday. I love baking with cranberries around the holidays cuz the red color makes everything look so festive! I added some white chocolate chips cuz I think they go perfectly with all the other ingredients. They turned out so good and perfectly spicy and sweet!

Cheesy, Tomatoey and Yummy!

Those are the only 3 descriptions you need for these savory muffins! I over-filled the cups a bit so they were humongous but no complaints here! These muffins make perfect snacks or a light meal with a salad.




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 c green onions, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/3 c sour cream
1 egg
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1 c shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray or line 6 muffin cups.


2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and tomatoes; cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Take off heat.


3. Whisk sour cream and eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in tomato mixture.


4. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, basil and tarragon in a large bowl. Add sour cream mixture, stirring just until blended. Stir in cheese.


5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Everything is BETTER Smothered in Cheese!

I can't think of anything that's not better smothered in CHEESE so when I saw this recipe for Codfish with Cheddar Tomatoes, I knew we were having it for dinner! I already had all the ingredients on hand so it was really easy to put together. The sour cream and mustard sauce had so much flavor and went perfect with the fish and tomatoes. The recipe was created for a low-carb meal but since neither of us are on a diet, I served my fish over some Cheesy Grits. Gotta maximize the cheesiness right? A simple and delicious meal that's perfect on a weeknight!

All the Flavors of Pepperoni Pizza in ONE BITE!

I came across this recipe for Pepperoni Pizza Puffs recently and thought they would make the perfect pre-holiday treats for the office. I doubled the recipe to make 4 dozen mini muffins and I'm glad cuz they disappeared pretty quickly! I also substituted half of the milk with buttermilk for that extra creaminess and tangy flavor. PERFECT bite-size treats!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Benefits of Being a Foodie!

One of the MANY benefits of being a Foodie is FREE SAMPLES and the folks over at Marx Foods was nice enough to send me some of their gourmet condiments. I couldn't wait to test them out and my first pick were the Dried Thai Chilies. I tested them out in some Spicy Lemongrass Chicken inspired my Charles Phan's recipe. If you live in SF, you probably know that he's the proud owner of the popular modern Vietnamese restaurant, Slanted Door. I say "inspired by" cuz of course, you know I usually substitute with ingredients I have on hand. One of the new condiments I discovered recently was Gourmet Garden's Lemon Grass in a tube. I always get their Ginger cuz it's so convenient and the same goes for Lemon Grass. The aromas of all the different spices in this dish smelled AMAZING and we couldn't wait to taste it! OMG it was SO good and was just perfect with the Rice Noodles! I have another Charles Phan recipe to try so stay tuned!




Ingredients:


2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 Tbsp canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp lemongrass, minced
1/4 c red onion, diced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chicken broth
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Asian chili paste
2 large scallions, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
3 small dried red chiles
Rice Noodles, for serving


Prep:


1. In a skillet or a wok, heat the canola oil on medium-high. Add the chicken and stir-fry over high heat until browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.


2. Add the lemongrass, onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, fish sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, chili paste, scallions and chiles; bring to a boil. Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer until heated through. Serve over rice noodles.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Going to the Dirty South with Dinner!

I may not have any Southern Roots but I LOVE Soul Food cuz it's just so flavorful and comforting! To me, nothing says Southern Cooking like Smothered Pork Chops and Grits and that's what we had for dinner tonight. I jazzed it up with some fall flavors by adding apples and cinnamon. Quick and yummy, the perfect meal on a cold December night!




Ingredients:


1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 pork chops, 3/4-inch thick, bone-in
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 c diced onions
1 small apple, diced
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c buttermilk
1 Tbsp butter
Grits, for serving
Chopped parsley, for garnish


Prep:


1. Put the flour in a shallow platter and add the onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels to remove any moisture and then dredge them in the seasoned flour; shaking off the excess. Reserve 1 Tbsp of flour mixture.


2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and brown for 3 minutes on each. Remove the chops and keep warm.


3. Add remaining oil and turn heat down to medium. Stir in onion, apple and cinnamon, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the reserved flour to the pan and stir to dissolve. Pour in the chicken broth and let the liquid cook down for 5 minutes to reduce slightly.


4. Stir in the buttermilk and return the pork chops to the pan. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes until the meat is cooked through. Remove chops to serving platter.


5. Turn heat up to high and stir in butter. Boil until sauce is thickened, 5 minutes. Serve over grits and garnish with chopped parsley.
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