Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TURKEY, TURKEY, TURKEY!!!!

Casey and I have been married for 6 1/2 years and I think he has worked every Thanksgiving since we have been married :(  It's a bummer, but such is the life of a chef.  His favorite holiday also happens to be THANKSGIVING!!  So, every year I make a Thanksgiving meal for our little family at home.  It started with just the 2 of us and its hard to believe next year there will be 6 of us!  I will admit, my first year making a turkey I was sooo intimidated.  I mean, turkeys are hard to cook, you want crispy skin, juicy meat, flavorful and looking good.  I will let you all in on a little turkey secret the restaurants are hiding from you.  When they make big thanksgiving meals many times they cook the breasts and thighs separately so that they can achieve the perfect temperature without drying out the meat and then they present one whole turkey to the table that is golden brown (that will probably not ever be eaten)!!  However, because I have an amazing chef at home, and I have had plenty of practice I have figured out how to make the most delicious moist turkey ever!!

 Ingredients:
Turkey, thawed (mine was about 21 lbs)
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs sage
4 garlic cloves
1 lemon
1 pound of butter (4 sticks)
Salt and Pepper
Injector

So, first start by take 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 sprigs sage and remove leaves from stems.  Then finely chop.  Next chop garlic, and zest your lemon.  Melt the butter and add in chopped herbs, garlic and lemon zest.  Now use your blender (or a stick blender) to puree the butter mixture, you need the herbs sooo small so they don't clog your injector.  Rinse your turkey and pat it dry.  Tie legs or tuck them under (mine was done for me when I opened the package, yay!)  And flip the wings under the bird.  Place it in your roasting pan (mine is non-stick which makes it soooo easy to clean!)Now its time to start filling your syringe and injecting your turkey!!
I recommend an injector like this:
Cajun Injector Deluxe Marinade Injector
So, fill your injector and start injecting your turkey, make sure to do a few in the legs and thighs, but the majority of it into the breasts.  Then generously cover your turkey with salt and pepper.  Fill the cavity with your left over herbs and slice the lemon and stick that in there too.  It will look like this:
 Now put your turkey, uncovered into a preheated 400 degree oven.  Cook at 400 for about 40 minutes and then turn heat down to 365.  I did not cover my turkey at all, but if you notice it starting to get too brown cover lightly with foil.  Now, here is the part that goes against everything I knew about roasting a turkey....resist the urge to baste!  Just let it go as is, that is how you are going to get the crispy skin that everybody (except me) loves!  And don't forget to get yourself an official turkey watcher:

Now, my bird cooked in about 3 1/2 hours for around 21 pounds.  Yours might take longer, you need a good thermometer to let you know when it is done.  You need the temp to reach 165 degrees.  Make sure you check the thigh as well as the breast.  When you have reached 165 take the turkey out of the oven and let it rest (don't cut into it!!!) for about 20 minutes.  This will allow the juices in the turkey to settle into the meat.  Then it is time to carve, I wish I had some special instructions for this part, but having a chef for a husband comes in handy :)
Look at the herbs in the meat, and how juicy the turkey is:
I hope you all enjoy this, and you can do the same thing with a chicken, just use less butter!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Mini Cupcakes

Fine, I will admit it...I'm slightly obsessed with cupcakes.  I can't help myself, they are the perfect little size, quick to bake, so much fun to decorate and they are just cute!  So I find them to be my go-to dessert.  There are so many flavor options and I love how cupcakes make everyone smile!

I also don't make desserts at home (normally) out of fear that I might eat more than just one or two ;) so when I sign up to bring something to a bible study or party I almost always choose dessert!  This week I had a luncheon at bible study, so keeping with the Fall/Thanksgiving theme....pumpkin cupcakes!!  And, just to make them even more cute, I made minis!!

Ingredients:
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup mini white chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned, but fresh would also work)
1/3 cup water
2 eggs

For the frosting:
1 8oz package cream cheese, room temp
1 stick butter, room temp
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Start by mixing flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and white chocolate chips.  In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients: vanilla, melted butter, pumpkin, water and eggs.  Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined (don't over mix!)  The batter is thick.  Now drop into lined cupcake pans.  I made mini cupcakes, so about a teaspoon of batter per cup was perfect.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 14 minutes for mini cupcakes (if you make regular size cupcakes probably about 22 minutes).  Check them by inserting toothpick, it should come out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.  If you make them the night before and aren't frosting until the morning it is important to cover them or they might dry out.  Just line them up on cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

For the frosting.  Beat butter and cream cheese until combined and smooth.  Then add in vanilla.  Continue mixing adding in 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until it is all mixed in.  You can add milk (or water) to thin out frosting if you desire. 

I decorated my cupcakes by putting my frosting in a pastry bag with a large star tip (Wilton 1M) and I pipped a large star on each cupcake.  It took me about 3 minutes to frost all 50 mini cupcakes!  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Celery Root Soup

About a week ago I was on my way to the store and Casey was home watching the kids...pure bliss!  Grocery shopping with 3 little ones is sometimes a bit chaotic, so when I have the chance to go all by myself I go!  He called me and asked me to buy some heavy cream and celery root so he could make some soup.  I obliged, and then he ran out of time to make it :( So I decided to try and make it myself tonight!

This soup is really delicious.  It has almost a potato soup consistency and tastes really fresh!  I didn't make this soup until after my kids had already had dinner, but when it was done they were all standing around begging for tastes!  This is a really simple soup to make, and is sure to impress!

Celery Root was in my grocery store, but mislabeled as Beet Root.  The poor cashier didn't know what to do when it was ringing up wrong and eventually decided to just charge me $0.50 for it!  It is cheap, but probably not that cheap!! 
Here is a picture of it:
Here is what you need:
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped (I try to use the leafy inside ribs and throw the leaves in too!)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt & Pepper (if you have white pepper use that)
1 large celery root, peeled and chopped into 1 in cubes
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream

Start by melting butter in large pot.  Add in onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf and saute on med/low heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  You want the veggies to become translucent not browned.  Once they are cooked add in celery root and turn up heat.  Saute celery root pieces for about 2 minutes and then cover with chicken broth and put the lid on your pot.  Return heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until you can easily insert a fork through celery root.  Remove bay leaf.  Now its time to puree your soup.  A stick blender will work, but to get the smoothest consistency use your blender.  Because your soup is very hot make sure to do small batches and be careful when removing lid that you don't burn your self.  Once all the soup is pureed and smooth, return to pot and stir in your cream.    Your soup is ready!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chili!!

One of my favorite things to eat (especially when I am pregnant!) is CHILI!!  I have tried making it using all kinds of seasonings and different packets but a couple of years ago I found my favorite, Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit!  They are nice enough to put a recipe on the back of the box, but of course I do it differently.  In an attempt to make a more healthy chili I made it without meat, and it was so good I have never gone back.  Now, for some of you chili without meat is like blasphemy!  So, this chili is super yummy with ground beef (turkey) or shredded beef as well :)

Here is what you need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 red (or any color) bell pepper, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups water
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Optional: sour cream, cheese, chips to garnish!

So I start by chopping all my ingredients and putting them in a hot pan with 2 tablespoons oil.  Sweat the veggies, while they are cooking add in your entire salt packet and however much of the cayenne pepper packet you would like.  I make this for my whole family and I use the entire packet, but my 2,3 and 5 year old boys are ok with a little spice.  Use your discretion.  As the veggies soften add in the spice packet and then the tomatoes and water.  Stir and let simmer for about 5 minutes.  If you like a thicker chili (like I do!) mix the masa packet with 3 tablespoons water and add the mixture into the chili.  This needs to simmer for a good 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine and the chili to thicken.  After the 20 minutes are up, stir in your kidney and garbanzo beans and cook until they are heated through (about 2 minutes).  Now, your chili is ready to eat!!!



If your kids are a little weary on the idea of chili try presenting it like this to get their attention!  A little cheese, sour cream and surrounded by tortilla chips!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homemade Oreo Cookies

I have seen a few people blog or talk about making homemade oreos lately.  I think this is such a cute idea!  When my son Connor had sign ups for the Harvest Party at school I signed up to bring a surprise dessert and oreos were the surprise!!

I didn't have a recipe so I just kinda made it up as I went and the cookies were soooo good!  I used orange food coloring for the frosting to give a pumpkin look, but these would be so cute in any color!  Red and Green for Christmas, pink or blue for a baby shower, or any color for any occasion!

The cookies were hard the day that I made them, which was perfect for an oreo-like cookie, but the next day they were softer and a little chewy which (to me!) made them even more yummy!!



The recipe:
For the cookie:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 and 1/4 sticks of butter, room temp
1 large egg

For the filling:
1 stick butter, room temp (could use Crisco, but butter tastes much better :)
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
optional: food coloring of your choice! (I like to use the Wilton gels)

To make the cookie add all dry ingredients into your mixer and combine well on low.  Next add in the butter and then finally the egg.  This will make a stiff dough.  Make 1 inch balls from the dough and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Gently smoosh down the balls before baking.  Bake in a 350 degree over for 9 minutes.  They might appear underdone at 9 minutes, but they aren't...I promise :)  Cool cookies completely and pair them according to size!

Next make your filling.  Start by beating butter and then adding powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.  When fully combined add vanilla and mix some more!  Now you can add food coloring if you wish!

Now its time to assemble your cookies!  Put frosting into a piping bag and pipe about a teaspoon of filling on one of the paired cookies.  Then press them together.  Now you have a little cookie-frosting sandwich which resembles an oreo cookie...only it is so much better!!



I can't wait to use peppermint extract instead of vanilla at Christmas time to make peppermint-chocolate cookies!  YUMMY!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Rice

Well, I have been missing for a while.  I didn't mean I stopped cooking, I have just been so crazy busy!   I am about 3 1/2 months pregnant with our 4th baby which means when I am not feeling nauseous I am EXTREMELY tired, so that means no energy to blog :(  The good news is my first blog back is a recipe that is soooo easy even my mom might try to make it! (She thinks my recipes are too hard or involved and doesn't normally try them :(  I promise, everything I put on here anyone can make!!)

Anyway, onto the food!!  This is so easy and so yummy!  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did!!

Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tablespoons herb de provence (or italian type seasoning)
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, also in cubes
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 tablespoons milk
about 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
Cooked long grain rice for serving!

First lay out your cubed raw chicken and toss with salt, pepper and herbs de provence.  In a saute pan melt butter and oil and heat up.  When the oil is hot add your chicken cubes (the hot oil will help the chicken not to stick!)  Stir when necessary to brown each side of chicken, it may still be raw inside.  Next add in your cream cheese, stirring to melt it along with your cream of chicken soup.  Stir until mixed together, it will be thick so add in your milk!  Just before serving stir in your green onions!  This will add a little crunch and fresh taste to your dinner.  Serve creamy chicken over rice and enjoy :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chocolate Rolo Cookies

I love Rolos!  What's not to love?  Chocolate, carmel, soft, chewy...DELICIOUS!!  We were just at a wedding and the dessert table had these cute little boxes filled with Rolos, I had forgotten how much I loved Rolos!!  So yummy!  Then just a week later I saw a blog being featured that made a Rolo cookie using cake mix.  I thought they sounded so yummy, but would be even better with a soft, almost chewy, chocolate cookie recipe I have.  I knew I couldn't just make them for fun out of fear that I would eat the entire batch so I have been waiting to try them.  Today was the day!  I was in charge of bringing a dessert to a MOPS meeting, and I brought...you guessed it!  ROLO COOKIES!!

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Rolos (about 32 unwrapped)

Preheat your oven to 375 and prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

Start by sifting the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder (I NEVER sift, but your supposed to :)  Set bowl aside and mix your wet ingredients.  Cream the butter and the sugars.  Next add in the eggs, one at a time, until fully combined.  Then the vanilla.  Now its time to slowly add in the dry ingredients, about 1/2 cup at a time.  Once its all combined (make sure you scrape the sides of your bowl!) its time to form the cookie balls!  Take just enough cookie dough to fully cover a rolo and then roll into a ball and put on your cookie sheet.  Continue until you have used all your dough/rolos.  Place on baking sheets, 12 at a time and place in preheated oven for 7-8 minutes.  They are still really soft when you take them out, but they firm up I promise :)  Then...EAT them!  They are delicious warm, or at room temp.  Enjoy, and try to not eat them all!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lemon and Green Onion Orzo

Tonight I was late on figuring out dinner...oops!  So I had to look at what I had and quickly whip something up!!  I decided on cilantro, grapefruit pork chops, bbq'ed bell peppers and some orzo.  The bell peppers were just tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper and thrown on the grill till they were charred and a little soft...SUPER easy!  I will share a quick and easy marinade post soon which will include the cilantro grapefruit.  For tonight I will share with you the orzo!  It is simple, tastes so bright and fresh and is really sooo delicious!

Here is what you need:
1 lb box of orzo (its a little pasta, shaped like rice but a bit bigger)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lemon, just the zest
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper

Start by boiling a pot of very salty water.  Toss in the pasta and allow to cook per the boxes directions, normally around 9 minutes.  When pasta is ready strain well.  Put pasta back in pot and stir in butter and olive oil.  Next add in the green onion and lemon zest.  Once combined add the parmesan cheese!  Once this is all together taste and add salt if needed and some fresh grated pepper!  That's it! 

****Fun hint:  This is a great cold pasta salad as well!!  If you are going to serve it cold rinse pasta with cool water after it is cooked and before you add the other ingredients.  I'm not sure why this works (does something to the starch in the pasta) but my hubby taught me to do it, so I do!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Garden Tomato Pasta

So I have said it over and over my family LOVES pasta and I make it often because I can put almost any veggie with it and my little boys eat it all up!!  With all the tomatoes coming in from my mother-in-law's garden I needed to make some new pasta dishes other than just the regular old pureed tomato sauce!  Here is the recipe for my current favorite!  Casey said it was the best pasta dish I had ever made for him...but it was midnight and he was starving!  I hope you have some fresh tomatoes at your house or can get some because right now they are delicious and you just can't beat the homegrown taste :)

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 cups (about) chopped tomatoes
1 cup torn basil leaves, plus a little more for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 lb angel hair pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or the good old green can if your in a bind :)

Start by turning the pan on high and adding the oil.  Also, fill a large pot with water and salt it to taste like the ocean.  Turn on high heat and wait for it to boil.  To the saute pan with hot oil add onions.  Stir around for about 2 minutes, you want them to cook but not get too brown.  Season well with salt and pepper!  Turn heat to medium and add in garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the garlic becomes soft.  Your pot of water will probably boil by now so add in angel hair pasta and cook according to the directions on the box...mine said 4 minutes.  When pasta is done strain.  Turn saute pan's heat to low and stir in tomatoes and basil.  Cook on low for about 5 minutes.  The juices from the tomatoes will come out and you want all the ingredients to melt together.  My tomatoes are super sweet so there is a really great balance to the sauce.  Then your sauce is done!  Add in the angel hair and use tongs to toss the pasta with the sauce completely.  Use Parmesan cheese and a little fresh basil to garnish and you are ready to enjoy!
The sauce
Fresh, beautiful and delicious! 

Chocolate Filled Peanut Butter Cupcakes

When it's time for the chef's birthday  I am always trying to out-do last year's cake.  I want to make something he loves and something that is so good he looks forward to it all day!  So, I took my hubby's love for Reese's Peanut Butter cups and turned it into some awesome cupcakes!!

Ingredients:
1 box chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients called for on box

For Filling:
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

For Frosting:
2/3 cup softened butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
about 4 TBL milk

Start by making your filling.  Add all ingredients together and stir together well!  This will need to sit in the fridge for an hour or more so it can harden (mine was in the fridge overnight).  Then mix chocolate cake according to the box.  Line your cupcake tins and put in one tablespoon of the chocolate cake batter into each.  Now, get your hardened peanut butter filling from the fridge and shape into 24 little balls. They are pretty gooey, but below you can see what your going for.

Now place a peanut butter ball into each of the tins.



Next fill cupcake tins with remaining batter.  The peanut butter will be completely covered.  Put into a 350 degree oven and let them bake.  I normally put them in for about 4 minutes less than what the box says.  They need to be cooked but you want them to be moist and delicious so DON'T OVERCOOK THEM!!  Now, let them cool completely before adding the frosting!
For the frosting start by mixing the softened butter and the peanut butter until smooth.  Next add the vanilla extract and add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time and allowing for the sugar to be fully combined before adding the next cup.  The frosting will be pretty thick...this is where the milk comes in!  Add milk a teaspoon at a time, mixing well in between, until you reach the desired consistency.  I like the look of piped on frosting, or you can spread it on, whatever you prefer!  Now, enjoy!!  If you aren't going to eat them for a while I would put them in the fridge, but allow them to sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so before eating so the frosting and filling can soften up!
This is the finished product!
Here is what the inside looks like!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grilled Tomato Skewers

If you are friends with me on facebook I'm sure you have seen the pictures of my boys and I picking tomatoes from my mother-in-law's garden!  She has CRAZY amounts of tomatoes, I have never seen anything like it.  We pick hundreds at a time and there are still a ton left!  So with all these tomatoes around the house I have come up with some tasty ways to enjoy them!  Today, I just have a couple of minutes so I will share a quick recipe that is as easy as they come, but look beautiful for your family dinner at home or your next party!  I hope you try these, they are super yummy!!

What you need:
Skewers
Cherry tomatoes
Olive Oil
Salt&Pepper
Smoked Paprika

In a large bowl combine tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika.  Toss until the tomatoes are well coated.  Now, its time to skewer the tomatoes.  I try to have tomatoes that are the same size on each skewer, but will mix different varieties. If you have a tomato that is much larger than the others, that one will get grilled but it will prevent the smaller tomatoes from reaching the grill.  Place on a well heated grill and turn while cooking to get some beautiful grill marks on all sides of the tomatoes.  Let them cook until the tomatoes start to pop!  Then they are ready to eat!  These are perfect on their own, or to be removed and stirred into a rice or pasta dish.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jambalaya

Tonight I made a jambalaya simple enough for a busy mom, yet tasty enough for a chef!  That is always my goal when cooking, big flavors, tasty ingredients and easy :)  One of the best things we did when planting out back was to put in a Laurel Tree, there is a never ending supply of bay leaves!!  I just send out the boys and say I need a cooking leaf and they pick it and throw it in the pot.  It adds so much flavor...yum!
There are tons of recipes out there fr jambalaya, this is what I came up with  a while back from researching other recipes.  I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper (any color...I used green today), diced
3 ribs celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
8 oz andouille sausage, sliced
3/4 cup long grain rice
3 cups chicken stock
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Start with your olive oil in a pan and turn heat to high.  Add in onion, celery and bell pepper and saute until caramelized and they start to get soft.  Add in garlic and continue to saute.  Season with salt and pepper, also add in bay leaves, cayenne and paprika.  Make sure it is combined well and stir in sausage and rice, cook for about a minute and then add chicken stock.  reduce heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then when liquid is absorbed and rice is tender you are ready to eat!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

SpEGGtacular Tomato Sandwich

Being married to a chef means there are few times where we have dinner as our family of 5...but it does mean that we get lots of breakfasts together!  So, I make all the regular breakfast items (normally I'm too sleepy to be too creative) and every once in a while I will make something special or fun.  Today when I asked Casey what he wanted for breakfast he said an egg sandwich.  So, while I was tempted to make the regular, same old plain sandwich I normally make (scrambled eggs and a little mayo on sandwich bread)  I thought I would spice it up today :)

Ingredients:
Sourdough bread
2 thick slices of tomato
2 eggs
basil
butter
salt&pepper

Melt a tab of butter in a non-stick pan.  While the butter melts heavily salt and pepper both sides of sliced tomato.  Put the tomatoes in the hot pan.  It should sizzle :)  Sear it for about a minute and then flip it over to sear the other side.
Take your tomatoes off the heat and set aside for later.  Wipe out your pan and add another tab of butter so you can fry your eggs!  When the butter has melted crack 2 eggs into your pan.  Grind pepper and add salt to your eggs and turn the heat to medium low.  I have a hard time flipping my eggs so, I do it my own way....do it how you do it best :)  When my whites start to get firm I use my spatula to separate the two eggs, then I slowly flip each one over.

I like my eggs with the whites cooked, but the yolks runny.  While the eggs are finishing up throw your sourdough bread in the toaster.  Put a thin layer of mayo on your bread and then add your tomato slices, next the eggs and finish with a basil leaf.

See how beautiful this looks??  Put the slices together and pick it up and eat it if you dare!!  Its going to be messy!!  Or, eat if with a fork and knife like I did!  Either way you are going to love how the yolk oozes all over the tomato and bread and coats it with its warm, yellow goodness!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Grilled Corn on the Cob

I'm back!  Things have been crazy the last few weeks!  First the whole family was sick, then Casey and I went on a little trip...plus we have been enjoying SUMMERTIME!!  So, the blog has been neglected :(  That doesn't mean I have stopped cooking, I have been cooking a bunch and have about 10 blog posts running around in my head right now!

I just thought I would share a quick tip on making the MOST delicious corn on the cob ever!  A lot of us will be barbecuing this weekend and this is such an easy way to make corn on the bob taste soooo good and you can just throw it on the grill with the rest of your food!  Better yet, prep it outside, and you have absolutely no mess in your kitchen!

Ingredients:
Corn on the Cob
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

So simple...start by peeling back the leaves of the husk.  You don't want to remove them, just peel them away so you can get rid of the silk (hairy stuff).  Once you get all the silk removed rub the cob with olive oil.  I put some some salt and freshly ground pepper in  a little bowl and then rub your salt&pepper mixture heavily on the corn.  Next, pull the husks back over the corn. 
This is what it looks like in steps: 1.corn, 2.husk peeled back and silk removed, 3. olive oil, S&P, 4. Husk pushed back up

Then you throw it on the bbq and let it cook.  I put mine on for about 10 minutes (it was pretty high heat), but you need to leave them on until tender.  This corn is seriously delicious!  It gets steamed in the husk, yet has a yummy charred bbq flavor!  This is our favorite way to eat corn at our house!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Artichokes

I remember the day I had my first artichoke.  I was 16 and at my boyfriend's (future hubby's) house and he cooked steaks, mashed potatoes and artichokes.  I'm not gonna lie, I was nervous!  If your not familiar with an artichoke they can be very intimidating.  After spending a few minutes teasing me he showed me how to eat an artichoke.   I quickly decided it was one of my favorite things to eat, super yummy and fun to eat!  I have spent the last 10 years eating artichokes every chance I get and I have made them all kinds of different ways.
Since it took me 16 years to discover an artichoke I figured not everyone knows about how great they are, or you too are slightly intimidated by them!  This is why restaurants are able to charge $18 or more for a grilled artichoke!  CRAZY!  So, I have put together a little instruction guide on how to do artichokes at home.  There are a bunch of different ways to cook them, but this is my recent favorite.

What you need:
2 artichokes, the more closed the artichoke the better
2 lemons
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil
This is what they look like

First you need to cut off about 1 1/2 inches from the top (depending on the size of your artichoke), you want to get rid of most of the thorns.  Then cut the end of the stem, and use a potato peeler to peal the outside layer off of the stem.  Then pick off any artichoke leaves on stem, and I normally take the outer most leaves off as well.  Then you can use scissors to trim any leaves that still have their thorns.
  They will look like this:
Now its time to boil them!  You need a big pot of salted water.  Use the potato peeler to peel the zest off of your lemons, add zest as well as lemon juice to water.  Also add the whole garlic cloves and bay leaves.  They will need to boil for about 25 minutes.  You will know its done when you can take off a leaf and eat it by using your top teeth to scrape off the "meat" from bottom of the inside of the leaf.  Test a leaf and allow to boil longer if needed.
This is what they will look like boiling (the water is cloudy because of the lemon juice)
When they are done boiling they are ready to eat!  Because you boiled them in such well seasoned and yummy water the artichokes are great to eat on their own, or dipped in your favorite sauce (see below for a new favorite of mine!)  If you want to take them to the next level keep reading for how to make grilled artichokes!

So, now that your artichokes have been boiled and you have pulled them out of the water, slice them in half.  Use a spoon to carve out the "choke" and the itty bitty thorny leaves in the center.
The one on the right is what it looks like sliced in half, the left has the choke and leaves removed.
Now brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper!
Put these on a hot grill for about 3 minutes per side (or until you have some nice grill marks).  This just adds a nice smokey flavor!  So yummy!

Size of basil, zest and shallots for sauce
For Lemon Basil Aioli dipping sauce:
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 shallot diced super fine
Finely grated zest from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped basil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the shallots, lemon zest, juice, vinegar and salt into bowl and let sit for about 3 minutes (or longer).  Then add in the mayonnaise and basil stirring it all together.  Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.



Now you are ready to eat!!  I know it seems like a lot of instructions and a lot of work.  It isn't, I promise!!  These are so yummy and make a great presentation as well!

And now just for fun...here are some pictures of Connor (my now 4 1/2 year old) enjoying his first artichoke at 7 months!  I was determined not to let him live 16 years without one like his mama!!

 

5 Minutes to Awesome Garlic Bread

I am a strong believer in making everything you serve taste great!  This may seem obvious, but I find so often people don't take the time to taste what they are making and season it properly, or they make some delicious chicken, but the side dishes are boring or missing something.  It has happened to me on many occasions, I spend so much time on the main dish that I run out of time for the others...oops!  So, I have mastered making delicious and very simple garlic bread in almost no time at all.  I hope you like it too!!

Ingredients:
1 loaf french bread
1/2 stick butter, super soft-but not melted
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped and mashed super fine
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp salt
A couple grinds of pepper

Slice your bread in half length wise, and put cut side up on a cookie sheet.  In a bowl use a fork to mash together butter, garlic, parmesans, salt and pepper.   Smooth butter mixture completely over the bread.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and put into oven at 350 for about 2 minutes to warm it up.  Then turn the broiler on and let the cheese melt and turn golden brown, and the bread will crisp up!  (Watch carefully the broiler will go from perfect to burnt in seconds :)  Pull the bread out and slice it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Grilled Peppers and Sausage Rigatoni

Monday night I was way behind on making dinner, and Casey was home.  When he is home I normally like to make something that he is going to love and be excited to eat since we don't get to eat as a family very often with his CRAZY schedule!!  Since Casey loves a little spicy in pretty much everything I decided to make some pasta with some spicy sausage.  I grilled the sausage and some bell pepper and the flavor from the grill added so much to the pasta.  We all loved it!  Casey and I loved it even more paired with a beautiful Pinot Noir :)

Ingredients
1 lb hot Italian sausage
2 red bell peppers
Tomato Sauce (about 24 oz homemade or 1 jar)
4 oz fresh mini mozzarella balls, quartered
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 lb rigatoni pasta
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Put a pot of SALTED water on the stove to boil.  Slice the sides off of the bell peppers and toss them with a little olive oil, with salt and pepper.  Grill the bell peppers along with the sausages on the bbq.  Let the bell peppers get some nice grill marks and get soft.  Grill sausages until they are cooked through.  Cook pasta according to directions on the box.  Slice the grilled sausages and cut up the grilled peppers.  When pasta is done, drain water and toss with the tomato sauce.  Add in the sausage, bell peppers, mozzarella balls and basil.  Toss it all together and serve. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easy Beef Stroganoff

I love taking inexpensive cuts of meat and turning them into something delicious!  That is something Casey has taught me for sure!  Add a bunch of flavor and cook it slowly and you can make it so yummy!  I bought a bunch of mushrooms earlier this week because I was going to make a tomato ragu with mushrooms, but I never got around to it.  So, I was looking around to figure out what to make for dinner and beef stroganoff sounded super yummy so I threw it together! 

1.5 lbs stew meat
1 large onion, cut in half then sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed peeled and sliced
1 lb mini bella mushrooms, quartered
1 1/2 cups red wine (I prefer a Burgundy or Cabernet)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I find in this recipe you can use low cal and not notice a difference)
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Start by heating 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide shallow pan.  Next season all sides of the stew meat with salt and pepper.  When the oil in the pan is hot (if oil is not hot the meat will stick!) add your beef, allowing each side of the meat to brown (about 30 seconds on each side).  Take meat out and set aside for later, beef will still be raw in the middle but should have a nice crust.  Add another tablespoon of olive oil to your pan and add in the sliced onions.  Add salt & pepper.  Stir these and allow to cook for about a minute, then add in the garlic.  Stir this constantly so the garlic doesn't burn.  After another minute or so add in the mushrooms.  The mushrooms are going to soak up all the liquid so just keep them moving so they don't burn.  At this point, stir in your wine while scraping the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon to loosen up all the browned bits from the beef.  Now add in the mushroom soup and stir until well combined.  Put the beef back in the pan and cover with the sauce.  Turn heat to low and slightly cover pan with lid.  Cook on low for about 4 hours or until beef is fork tender.  Make sure you do a final check of your sauce and add salt & pepper if needed.  Serve over rice, egg noodles (my favorite!) or mashed potatoes and with your favorite green veggie!

***This recipe is GREAT in your crock pot!  Put all ingredients in the pot in the morning and have a super yummy dinner that smells amazing at dinner time!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Salt

Not only am I the wife of a chef...but I am a mommy, a daughter, a sister, a friend, but most importantly I am a Child of God.  I love the Lord with all of my being.  The more I study the Bible and the more I learn about God and the more I love Him and feel loved by Him.

In Bible Study this week we were studying the book of Colossians and I was struck by Colossians 4:6.
"Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone."  Paul was talking about spreading the message of Jesus, and how it should be our life's mission to share the gospel!  In this verse he is talking about sharing without being too overbearing or too intense, while still sharing and answering to everyone.  It is my joy to be a person who has Jesus inside of me and now I want to share like a perfectly seasoned meal.  Of course...I brought it back to food :)

I started thinking about salt in connection with sharing God's Word.  Have you ever had something that was WAY too salty?  I remember going out to eat and having a piece of fish and it was sooo salty I couldn't even eat it, it was gross, I pushed it away and had no desire to partake in it.  This can be very much the same for Christians who are constantly pushing their faith on to others.  A non-believer looks at us like a freak, fanatic, "bible-thumper" and wants to be nothing  like us.  Instead of seeing us as a new creation in Christ we are viewed as someone too extreme and we are unattractive.  Then there is the opposite.  There is when you get a meal that is completely under seasoned, or not seasoned at all.  It just doesn't taste right, it is lacking, something is missing and the meal leaves you wanting.  I find in life this happens way too often (in both food and Christians)!  Too often as Christians, we become stagnant in our lives and we just go along through the motions of life without sharing, without being salt in the world.  When we are living this bland life, there is nothing special about us, we are lacking and we are not fulfilling our potential.  Why would this life be appealing to an unbeliever? 

Now, what do I want to be?  I want to be like a perfectly seasoned steak (or whatever it is you like to eat)!  I want to be the kind of streak that when you take your first bite the salt floods your mouth and and makes you melt away into that moment.  The steak that makes you sit back in your seat and forces you to let out a little groan "ummm".  The steak that the rest of the restaurant is noticing and wants a little taste for themselves.  The salt enhances the meat, it makes it better, its so good that I just want to eat more!  I want to be that type of Christian, the kind who stands out, who constantly has the taste of Christ in me.  I want to share the truth without being annoying, yet not compromising.  I want for people around me to notice there is something different about me, and make them want to have what I have.  I want people to see my joy and be comforted by the truth I have to share.

So, let me rephrase the verse in Colossians so that it can be my prayer today "Lord, let my conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt so that I know how to answer to everyone."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guacamole...that will stay GREEN

A chef perk I received recently was when my hubby walked in the door with a bag of avocados and oranges one of his regulars brought to the restaurant for him.  I love oranges...well, anything citrus so the boys and I had fun eating those last week!  The avocados were all green and hard as a rock, I wasn't even sure they would ever soften up and be good to eat, Casey told me to be patient and he was RIGHT!  So, I made a big batch of guacamole with some chicken tacos for dinner and it was delicious!!

Now, how often have you made guacamole only to have it turn brown and gross looking half way through your party?  I know I have and so many parties I have been to I have seen this happen.  Putting the pit in it does NOT work!  But, today I will share with you the hint that my chef taught me and you will never have to worry about brown guacamole again.  The secret? Olive Oil.  Who knew, right?  Just a little drizzle of olive oil and my guacamole was still green and tasting great 2 days after I made it!

Everyone has their favorite recipe so if you love your recipe you can continue to make it your way, just drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil in it and stir it up.  If you want to try a new recipe I have included the way The Overtons make it below :)
Ingredients:
3 avocados, cubed
1/2 jalapeno, diced super small
1/4 onion, diced small
1 garlic clove, smashed into a paste or finely grated
3 tablespoons, chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
heavy pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper

In a bowl combine jalapeno, onion and garlic with the lime juice and salt.  Stir this and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.  Then add the avocado, cilantro, olive oil and pepper.  Stir, but don't smash avocado.  Now enjoy your guacamole (now or later :) with some chips or with some yummy dinner.  I recommend storing in a bowl covered with plastic wrap pushed down so it is touching the guacamole so NO air gets in!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mini Quiche

I love hosting parties at my house and this year before Christmas I had a mommy and me Christmas party at my house.  It consisted of about 10 moms and about 22 kids (most of which were under 5!)  I did the party around 10:30 so I needed snack type food and that is when I came up for the idea of these delicious mini quiche!  They were a hit and I have since made them for few different occasions and everyone always loves them and asks for the recipe (sorry it took me so long to post it!)

You can do whatever type of filling you want: broccoli, spinach, tomato basil, seriously any veggie with some cheese makes a great quiche!  The recipe below is for ham and cheese!  These are easy to buy in the frozen section of the store, but now you can make these in less than 15 minutes and impress all your friends :)

For the crust:
1 1/4 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 Tablespoons warm water

For the filling:
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, diced super fine
1/4 cup ham, diced
1/4 cup cheese, shredded
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup half and half (milk or heavy cream work too!  I use whatever I have in fridge :)
Salt & Pepper

Lightly grease a mini muffin pan with cooking spray.  Next, mix ingredients for your crust until it forms a dough.  Put a small amount of dough into the bottom of each mini muffin spot, about 1/4 inch thick (the dough will rise so don't put too much dough!).  Now I saute my onion and garlic.  The way I find it best to add my fillings is to put a little bit of the onion, ham and cheese mixture into the tins and add the egg mixture separately. So put a little bit in each tin.  Next, whisk together eggs and milk with the salt and pepper until well combined.  Then slowly pour egg mixture into each tin, almost filling to the top.  Put these in the oven at 350 for about 7 minutes (or just until the eggs set) and they are done!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lemon Cookies

I love lemons!!  No seriously, I LOVE them!!  As a child I was often found in my Grammy's backyard picking lemons from her tree and peeling them and eating them like an orange.  I love lemon cake, lemonade, lemon tarts, lemon pie, lemon drops, lemon heads, lemon bars and my new recipe for lemon cookies (and those are just the lemon desserts...)
My mother-in-law has a lemon tree so a couple weeks back Casey and the boys picked a bunch of lemons from her tree and I decided to put them to good use!!  This recipe is pretty easy, super yummy and low-cal (for a cookie!)   These cookies are definitely tart, but with just the right amount of sweetness!

Lemon Cookies
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar, plus a little more for dusting
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium sized lemon, zest and 3 tablespoons juice
parchment paper
In one bowl mix all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt).  In another bowl (or mixer) zest the lemon over the bowl and then add butter and mix together.  Next add in the sugar and egg yolk and mix for about a minute.  Add to the wet ingredients 1/2 of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Now add in the lemon juice and the vanilla along with the rest of the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined, your dough will be dense.  Gather your dough and roll it into a log (about 8x2 inches).  Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for about an hour.  While you are waiting for your dough to get ready preheat your oven to 350 and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Also take your egg yolk and add about of tsp of water and mix together.  When the dough is ready slice the dough into 1/4 inch discs and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Brush the tops with your egg wash mixture and dust with sugar.  Put in the oven for 7-9 minutes and you will have about 32 delicious, soft but crisp lemon cookies :)  Try not to eat them all in one sitting!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Miso Pork Chops

Well, we have been busy over here in this chef house!  Casey has been working soooo much and that means I am home with the kids alone...a lot!  I knew when I married a chef that this would be the reality sometimes, but it doesn't make it easy!!  I have been tired and my cooking creativity has been lacking lately (that is why there hasn't been a post in a while :) 
Last week we had our first locally grown, organic food basket delivery.  I have been loving the fresh and delicious produce that was delivered.  Tonight I had some red chard that I needed to use and decided to do an Asian theme for dinner.  I had some pork chops in the freezer so I pulled those out and threw together a yummy miso marinade and made something really yummy!  I served the pork chops with steamed rice and a veggie stir fry which had shallots, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower and red chard!  This dinner was really easy to make and bursting with flavor!  I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine did!!

Miso Pork Chops
Ingredients:
4 thick sliced pork chops (I buy mine from COSTCO)
2 tablespoons red miso paste (found in the specialty refrigerated section at grocery store or at local Asian market)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 lime, use zest and juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped up super fine
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
fresh ground black pepper
Super easy...are you ready!?!  In a bowl add all ingredients (except the pork) and whisk together to make a marinade/sauce.  Put pork chops in a Ziploc bag and pour in half the mixture.  Seal and put pork in the fridge for 30 minutes to let the meat soak up the flavors.  Cook pork on a hot grill and brush pork with remaining sauce each time you turn the meat.  You want the meat to reach 155 degrees, I recommend pulling it off the heat at 150 degrees and allowing the meat to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.  It will finish cooking and still be plenty tender and juicy!  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Orecchiette Pasta

Pasta, pasta, pasta!  We love pasta at our house!  One of the first foods (besides banana) Griffin asked for by name was "pata", so like I said we love pasta :)  I am constantly trying new ways to make it both exciting and healthy and still get in the pasta.  For some reason I can put almost any vegetable with pasta and my kids will eat it.
So, tonight when I looked at the clock and it was already 6 and I hadn't made dinner I decided to go for my old stand by and add a little of this and a little of that!  It took me less than 30 minutes to throw together (including waiting for the water to boil) and what I came up with was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself :)

Orecchiette Pasta
1lb box orecchiette pasta
3 tablespoons (about) olive oil
1 onion (I used red for a little color), diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped up
2 cups asparagus, chopped about 1 inch in length
20 (or so) grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup basil leaves, torn
Salt & Pepper

Using a large pot bring about 6 quarts of SALTED water to a boil.  When water is boiling add pasta and cook to the instructions on the box (mine said 11 minutes).  While waiting for the water to boil start making the veggies!  Add about 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large saute pan.  When it is hot add onion and asparagus.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute until onion begins to turn translucent, next add garlic and turn the heat to medium low.  You want the veggies to kind of melt together.  Add tomatoes and leave on low.  When pasta is done cooking drain well and add to pan.  Turn off heat and stir it all together, add in basil leaves.  Taste and add more seasoning if need.  Then its time to serve!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did tonight!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Garlic Baguette with Caprice Salad

I just had one of my favorite things for lunch!  A caprice salad!  I love the combination of tomato, mozzarella and basil...I could seriously eat it everyday :)  I know tomatoes aren't in season right now, but my hubby brought home some beautiful black heirloom tomatoes so I couldn't resist (I also saw some yummy looking tomatoes on the vine at Trader Joe's yesterday!)

I have a little bit of a cold right now, and after encouraging a friend on facebook to try a little raw garlic to shorten her cold I thought I should take my own advice!  So I used some garlic and a few slices of baguette to add to an already awesome lunch!

Ingredients for the Caprice Salad
Tomato, sliced
Fresh Mozzarella Ball, sliced
Fresh Basil, torn
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

The key to making this salad so delicious is to SEASON EVERY LAYER!!!  Start by laying a slice of tomato on a plate, season with salt and pepper.  Lay a slice of mozzarella on top of tomato, season with salt and pepper.  Lay a generous amount of basil leaves on top and then drizzle a few drops of olive oil over the basil.  You can then continue to layer each ingredient, or make a few of their own little piles!  So yummy!

Ingredients for Garlic Baguette
1 fresh baguette
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove peeled, raw garlic

Slice a few slices of the baguette on the diagonal.  Rub some olive oil on one side and put on a sheet pan (cookie sheet).  Put in oven under the broiler for about a minute.  You want a little color and for the bread to toast, but not burn.  Watch it closely!!  Take the bread out of the oven and while it is still hot rub the bread with the raw garlic.  I like to rub generously on both sides...I LOVE garlic.  If you are not so much of a garlic fan rub one side. 
I have to admit that this is a trick that I learned from Casey, I didn't come up with it on my own.  I figured you wouldn't mind because, why would you want to read a blog about a chef's wife if you weren't going to get some advice directly from a chef?!?
Want something really yummy?  Make the caprice salad on top of your garlic baguette and you can pick it up and eat it kind of like a bruschetta!  Yum!  Enjoy :)

**I am on a diet right now and wanted to be good, so I did not use any olive oil on mine (every calorie counts) and it was still really delicious, just not quite as good as it could have been :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chicken & Veggie Soup with Stars

I love making soups, and lucky for me my family loves to eat soup! I once told Connor, when he was sick, that he should have some soup because it would make him feel better. Well, now anytime he has the slightest sniffle he asks for soup and within seconds of eating says he feels better! So sweet :)
Making soup is really easy and sooo much better tasting and sooo much healthier than eating canned soup. I take pride in knowing that my kids are eating something that I made and that is really good for them. So, if you don't already, start making soups from scratch! You will see that it is much more simple than you might think :) And, if your hubby doesn't think soup is enough for dinner (like mine!) pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich or some crusty bread, yum!

Chicken Veggie Soup
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded :)
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1 box (32 oz) chicken stock
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound pasta (I like Stelle which is tiny star shaped)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you want to heat it up!)
Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

Put olive oil in large stock pot. Add onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Saute until onions are translucent. Add liquids and bay leaves. Bring to a slow boil. Add in pasta of choice as well as chicken, green beans and corn. Cook at a slow boil until pasta is cooked and then your soup is ready! (Take out Bay Leaves before serving)

**If you are making a large batch to serve for multiple meals it is better to make the pasta separately and add to each person's bowl, as the pasta will become very soft (mushy) if left in the liquid.

Friday, February 11, 2011

BBQ Pork Chops

I really like to make pork chops for my family, and there are so many different ways to make them taste great!! A new way I made them a couple months ago was braised with beer and bbq sauce. They were so awesome that my chef hubby claims it is now one of his favorite meals! That is always a nice thing to hear from him :) I like to buy my pork chops from COSTCO. They are thick and a really good price :)

I made these served with mashed potatoes and broiled Parmesan asparagus! Another great way to serve them is to shred the pork and put on Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (or another roll) and make little pulled pork sandwiches, with coleslaw (found here http://realchefwifeofoc.blogspot.com/2011/01/coleslaw-and-apple-cranberry-crisp.html)!



BBQ Pork Chops

3 thick cut pork chops (or however many you need for your family)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, cut in half then sliced

1 bottle beer, New Castle is great :)

1 1/2 cups bbq sauce

Salt & Pepper...of course ;)

Season pork chops generously with salt & pepper. Add olive oil to deep pan. Heat oil until pan is hot. Add pork chops to hot pan, let brown for about a minute and then turn to the other side. You want a nice crust on each side of the pork. Remove pork. Add onions and sweat them until they start to become translucent. Add beer while scrapping bottom of pan to remove any bits, add bbq sauce. Stir together and then put the pork chops back in. Cover the pan half way and let simmer on low (so its barely bubbling) for about 2 hours. The pork will be tender and the sauce will reduce into a think syrupy bbq sauce. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chicken Salad

I am a part of a group called MOPS (Mothers Of PreSchoolers). I am so blessed by these women as we are all in the same life stage and we get together every other week to encourage, share and learn with each other! We have been on a break since before Christmas so my table had a play date. It was a little loud and a little crazy with so many babies and preschoolers running around, but it was so much fun!!
I offered to bring a chicken salad for the moms to eat! My mom makes an awesome chicken salad, so I started with her recipe and added a twist of my own!! (Mom, your salad is awesome just the way it is...I just like being creative in the kitchen. So please, keep making it!!)

Casey LOVES this salad and actually asks me to make it! So, it has the chef's stamp of approval :)

Chicken Cabbage Salad
1 head of cabbage, quartered and sliced REALLY thin
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 package chicken flavored Top Ramon, noodles crunched
For Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons vinegar (I like to use apple cider vinegar)
Top Ramon seasoning packet
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl combine cabbage, chicken, noodles, almonds and cilantro. Whisk together ingredients for dressing and mix it in. Its best to dress the salad about 30 minutes before you eat it to allow the flavors to mix together without making it too soggy! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Out to dinner with a chef!

Being married to a chef means weeknight dates, if I get a date at all :) So, when my mom-in-law said she would babysit we took the opportunity to go out to dinner, just the two of us! Casey laughed when we sat down, because he noticed that I strategically sat on the side of the booth facing the kitchen. I knew that if he could see the kitchen he would be distracted watching the goings on in there, rather than paying attention to me! He can't help it, and I know it! I always (well most of the time!) order what he tells me to order. He is an expert, so of course I will take his advice, and he is always right!! We had a great time! It makes me realize even more how much I miss him while he is working, and it also makes me so grateful for the job that he has and that he is able to do something he loves every day and that I am able to be his partner in life!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meatball Subs

I love leftovers, it is easy and means I don't have to cook and clean a kitchen, yet still have yummy food!! An even better thing is when I can use last nights dinner to make something different the next day. A perfect way to use last nights meatballs is to make a meatball sub for lunch (or diner) the next day!

Ingredients:
Meatballs with plenty of tomato sauce
French Rolls
Parmesan cheese, grated
Provolone Cheese, sliced

Cut your french roll about 3/4 of the way through. Place hot tomato sauce along the inside of roll and then put in your meatballs. Top with more sauce, then Parmesan cheese and finally provolone slices. Put sandwich on cookie sheet and put under broiler until cheese is melty and bubbly. Watch it carefully, things burn fast under the broiler!! Now its time to enjoy! Serve with an extra side of tomato sauce for dipping if you desire :)

Spaghetti and Meatballs

So, I don't know about you, but I can't wait for summer so we can have homegrown tomatoes again!!! My mother-in-law has an amazing garden that produces more tomatoes than any garden I have ever seen. At the end of last tomato season I picked bags and bags of tomatoes and made a huge batch of the most delicious tomato sauce!

Well, just because I don't have fresh tomatoes for sauce doesn't mean I can't make my tomato sauce taste great! The following recipe makes A TON of meatballs and sauce. Feel free to cut the recipe in half. I make big batches and freeze half the meatballs. I am not going to lie, this is a bit time consuming and that is why I make a lot and freeze half.

For Meatballs:
1 lb hot Italian sausage, remove casing if necessary
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Parmesan cheese (fresh grated or green can)
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper

Mix all ingredients together. You want all ingredients incorporated, but don't over mix, this will help to keep the meatballs nice and tender. You might need to add a little more parm cheese or bread crumbs in order to get the right consistency to make your meatballs. Roll meatballs into about 1 1/2 inch balls. Use a big pan (the one you are going to make your sauce in) and cover the bottom of pan with olive oil. Make sure pan is hot, add in some meatballs. Brown on one side and then turn over, making a crust all around the meatball. You will have to do this in shifts. Once the meatball is browned, put it to the side. Once all the meatballs are browned its time to make your sauce! At this point I put half the meatballs in the freezer to use for another meal :)

Sauce:
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp of red pepper flakes(more or less, depending on how you like it)
1 cup (about) of red wine
3 14.5 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 cup basil, chopped
2 sprigs of oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste (or course!)

Add onion, celery and carrots to the pan you used to brown meatballs. Saute for about 2 minutes, add garlic and pepper flakes and saute another minute or so until veggies have a little color on them. Add in the wine while scraping the bottom of pan with wooden spoon to get up any little bits left from the meatballs. Next add in the tomatoes, then basil and oregano. Let it simmer on stove for about 30-40 minutes (or until it doesn't taste like canned tomatoes anymore). At this point, pull out oregano sprigs. Use a stick blender to puree some of the sauce. I like my sauce to have a little bit of texture so I just do a quick blend, the longer you do it the smoother your sauce. Now, put the meatballs back in the sauce and let them simmer in the sauce until they are finished cooking.

In our house we like to serve over angel hair pasta, but its up to you :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Braised Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

I had a great weekend!! Friday night my hubby cooked for me, Saturday went to a friend's party and Sunday was a family day! What could be better??
I got to enjoy a perk to being a chef's wife this weekend when I took my dad into Casey's restaurant. He cooked us the most amazing, delicious 8 course dinner paired with wine for me and a special beer pairing for my dad! I am always amazed when I see him in his element and its a good reminder to me that the late nights and long hours are all worth it. Casey loves his job and he is so good at it! I am a proud wife, for sure :)

My weekend was so busy that it didn't leave much time for cooking, so tonight I got back on track and made something super yummy.
Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts (chicken thighs would work too!)
1 onion, cut in half and then sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cups (or so) mushrooms, sliced
2 cups brussel sprouts, cleaned and cut in half*
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom sauce (or 1 cup cream)
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
Start by putting about 2 tablespoons into a deep pan (I love to use my Le Creuset dutch oven, super expensive but I love it!!) Turn heat to high. Season both sides of your chicken breast with salt and pepper and put in HOT pan. Cook about 2 minutes and then flip chicken over and cook other side for about 2 minutes. Remove chicken (It is not cooked at this point so NO tasting!) Add a little more olive oil if needed to pan and then add in onions and garlic, sauteing them until they are soft. Next add mushrooms and brussel sprouts cooking for about 3 more minutes. Next, de glaze your pan by adding your wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of your pan, this will loosen up any of the chicken bits and will be delicious in your sauce. Add the chicken broth and mushroom soup and stir well to combine. Taste your sauce and add salt & pepper if needed. Now, add your chicken back in smothering the chicken into the liquid. Turn heat to low and cook for about an hour. The sauce will reduce, making it rich and creamy. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes and prepare to fall in love :)

**If you hate brussel sprouts you can omit them, BUT I think you should give them another try.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Trader Joe's Masala Sauce

Trader Joe's has so many delicious and healthy options and so many of them I am sure I don't even know about yet!! One of my favorite finds is the Masala Simmer Sauce. A friend made me dinner when Braydon was born and she used this sauce, I loved it, but didn't shop at Traders then. Well, I do now and I always grab a couple of these simmer sauces when I am there!! Its a great little thing to keep in the pantry and pull out for a quick easy dinner!! You can make chicken masala, shrimp masala, veggie masala or whatever you like! Just pour it over some rice and its an awesome meal!
Check out my favorite way to make it! It is easy and a great way to get your kids to eat more veggies :)
Ingredients:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 Jar Masala Simmer Sauce
2 cups chicken broth
chicken or shrimp if desired
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
Salt & Pepper

Start by coating the pan with olive oil. To a hot pan add your onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and garlic (season with salt & pepper) and saute in pan until soft. Now add your sauce, chicken broth and corn. If you are adding chicken or shrimp its time to add it now!! Let the sauce simmer on low for about 15 minutes (or until your meat is cooked). Now serve it over rice and maybe add a salad and dinner is ready!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Coleslaw and Apple-Cranberry Crisp :)

Sunday night we had some family over for dinner and Casey cooked up some pork shoulder, chicken wings and sausage in the smoker. He loves using his smoker, but it is an all day ordeal. As a matter of a fact, I think he started the pork around 2 am, for dinner at 5:30! Crazy! The food was soooo good though and when he does the meat I usually take on the task of side dishes and dessert!

I made some coleslaw and for dessert an awesome apple cranberry crisp :)

Coleslaw

Ingredients:
1 head cabbage (I like to do 1/2 green cabbage and 1/2 purple)
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked and chopped
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt & Pepper to taste

First put finely chopped onion and garlic into a bowl with vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper. You want to let that sit for 10 minutes while you get everything else ready. Then slice the cabbage. Cut cabbage in half and then each half into halves. Cut out the core and then very thinly slice the cabbage. Once all cabbage is sliced, add chopped cilantro and vinegar mixture and toss together. The last step is to add the mayonnaise. Once everything is mixed, please be sure to taste the coleslaw and add salt & pepper if needed :)

Then the Apple-Cranberry Crisp for dessert! This recipe is so simple, and can easily be modified to suit your own creative genius!! For example try making this dessert with these mixtures, or others: Apple-Blueberry, Apple, Pear, Apple-Blackberry, Peach, Plum, etc!!

Ingredients:
For Filling:
5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used pink lady, granny smith are also yummy)
1 cup fresh cranberries
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or try honey, agave nectar or caramel)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of salt

For Topping:
1 stick cold butter, cubed
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large bowl mix all the filling ingredients together until coated and pour into your favorite baking dish (I used a 13x9 in pan). Then mix all ingredients for topping in bowl and use your fingers to mix everything together creating dough( you can also do this in a food processor). Use fingers to clump dough on top of filling. Once it is basically covered put into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. It will be bubbly and brown and ready to serve with some ice cream!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cornbread Pot Pie

A couple of days ago Casey said he was in the mood for some cornbread. I was trying to think of something new to make using cornbread and remembered watching a cooking show (years ago!) where they used corn bread with a chicken pot pie. Since my man loves pot pie and corn bread I thought I would give it a try!!
So for dinner tonight I threw some things together, and let me just say...it was AWESOME!! This was my first time making it, but I think this will become a regular dish in our house. The best part is most, if not all, the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry/fridge!!

Ingredients:
For the filling:
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Salt & Pepper

For the Corn Bread Topping:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten

Start by par-cooking the potatoes and carrots in salted water. This means boiling them until they are almost cooked, but still slightly undercooked. They will finish cooking in the oven, but still have a bite to them. Put them to the side. Next, add oil and butter to a saute pan. Once the butter is melted, add onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until onions begin to look transparent. Add the flour, stirring constantly and until it is all incorporated. This is making a rue, which will help to make your filling thick and creamy!! Next add in your chicken stock, stirring constantly to mix with rue and onions, you don't want any clumps. Cook for another minute or so and you will see the broth getting nice and thick. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Add in cooked chicken, carrots, potatoes and carrots. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish.

Time to make the cornbread!! First mix all your dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl combine milk and melted butter. Then add egg and slightly beat. Add wet mixture into dry and stir until moistened. Don't over mix!!! Spoon cornbread batter on top of pie filling. And bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden brown on top :) Take out of the oven and let it sit for AT LEAST 5 minutes before you cut into it. Resist all urges to try just a little bit, wait and it will finish cooking and the filling will set. Then, you can finally ENJOY!!