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Monday, January 30, 2012

Braised Chicken with Green Peppers and Tomatoes

This is one of the best and easiest recipes I've made in a while.  And cooking with chicken thighs is a huge tip for getting maximum flavor for a minimum price.  As usual, I made a few changes to suit what I had on hand.  I used skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (I think they're more flavorful anyway) and I used a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes rather than whole tomatoes.  You brown the chicken, cook the veggies, then simmer it all together.  Super easy and crazy good.


I got this lovely recipe from the bon appetit website and it will be on our table regularly. 


Without further ado, Braised Chicken with Green Peppers and Tomatoes


4 tablespoons (about) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 package chicken thighs (about 4)
1 large onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine


Preparation
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, cook chicken until golden brown, about 4 minutes total, adding more oil as needed.  Transfer platter (reserve skillet).


Add onion, garlic, parsley to same skillet; saute until onion is soft, scraping up browned bits, about 4 minutes.  Add green pepper, tomatoes, and wine; return chicken to skillet.  Cover; simmer over medium-low heat 30 minutes.  Uncover; cook until chicken is tender and sauce is reduced, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Croque Madames (Simple Rustic French Sandwich)


  • Okay ladies and gentle humans.  This open faced sandwich knocked my socks off last night.  The flavors together are like a beautiful symphony.  The best part is that this sandwich is easy enough to make for a weeknight Parisian bistro dinner or as a breakfast sandwich on the weekend.  Again, I made a few changes from the original; I switched out the Swiss cheese for Gruyere and used fresh garlic in lieu of granulated garlic.  A gorgeous recipe for any occasion that I think you're sure to love if you give it a try!!!
For my side, I made some sauteed cabbage with apples.  Simple yet delicious.  Recipe below.

Quick Croque Madames (from Ten Dollar Dinners, Melissa d'Arabian, Food Network)
  • 4 large slices country-style bread (I used a Rosemary Olive Oil Boule)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large slices good quality lunchmeat ham
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 eggs

Directions

Preheat the broiler on low.
Gently dry the bread under the broiler, just until dry and with no browning.
In a small bowl, toss the cheese with the white wine and allow to sit.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper. On a baking sheet, lay out the bread slices. Take less than one-quarter of the sour cream mixture and divide evenly among the bread slices, spreading thinly to coat 1 side of each slice. Next, evenly distribute the ham on top of the bread. Divide the rest of the sour cream mixture over the ham. Spoon the cheese on top of the sour cream mixture, blotting lightly before adding to remove any excess wine.
Preheat a large, nonstick saute pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Crack the eggs into the pan and fry, either over-easy or sunny-side up, according to your preference.
While the eggs are cooking, place the open-faced sandwiches under the broiler until very bubbly and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Watch closely and don't let the topping burn. Place each sandwich on a plate. Season the fried eggs with salt and pepper and place 1 egg on each sandwich. (If desired, use a biscuit cutter to cut the egg into an evenly round shape.)

Sauteed Cabbage and Apples (from Ten Dollar Dinners, Melissa d'Arabian, Food Network)

Directions

Core and slice the cabbage into thin slices. Slice the cheeks off the apples and cut into thin wedges.
In a large saute pan, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the cabbage, apples, fennel and salt and pepper, to taste, and saute until the cabbage softens and wilts about 20 minutes. Deglaze with red wine and stir in a splash of cider vinegar. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Stuffed Belgian Endive with Roasted Brussels Sprouts


  • Lately I've been trying to cut down our grocery bill.  The purse strings are tight after our wonderful holiday.  I TRIED to get hubby to start purchasing gifts for our family in July.  That way we wouldn't feel the pinch right at the holidays.  But of course he thought this was crazy.  His thoughts were that we had tons of time.  This year I am determined to get an early start on next year's holiday shopping, whether he likes it or not.  
But I digress.  Because I'm trying to save us a little money, I've found several great recipes through the Food Network website that won't break the bank.  One delicious dinner I recently made for the hubster was from Melissa d'Arabian's show called Ten Dollar Dinners.  She took crisp Belgian endive and stuffed it with cheese, wrapped it in deli ham, covered with a mornay sauce, and baked until hot and bubbly.  It was cheesy and gooey and delicious.  I did make a few changes to my version of the recipe.  My husband and I aren't huge fans of Swiss cheese, so we substituted Gruyere instead.  I served roasted Brussels sprouts for my side and it was a delicious dinner!  Try it today!

  • Stuffed Belgian Endive (From Ten Dollar Dinners on Food Network)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, heated
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss, divided
  • 4 small to medium Belgian endives
  • 4 small slices Swiss
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 thin slices deli ham
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Special equipment: small rectangular baking dish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray.
In a medium saucepanmelt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add in the milk, whisking constantly. Allow the mixture to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the mustard, garlic, and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.
Meanwhile, cut off the woody stems of the endives and make a deep slit into them lengthwise, not quite cutting them in half. Place a small slice of cheese in the center of each endive. Season with salt and pepper and roll each endive in a slice of ham. Place the wrapped endives, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish.
Stir the sauce to blend the cheese into the mixture and pour over the endives. Cover with foil and cook for 25 minutes. Uncover, and add the remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Raise the heat to 400 degrees F and cook for 10 minutes more. Let cool a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.
Cook's Note: If Belgian endive is unavailable, substitute small wedges of cabbage and increase the cooking time by 10 minutes.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction and Cranberries (From The Pioneer Woman on The Food Network) 

  • 3 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Trim/clean the Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half. Arrange on 2 baking sheets and toss with the olive oil. Roast until brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and reduce until very thick.
Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the roasted sprouts, then sprinkle on the dried cranberries. 

Ham & Cheese Croquettes


  • Looking for the perfect finger food to serve at your cocktail party?  Maybe you want to bring something delicious for game day?  Or perhaps you just want a way to serve a tried and true classic with a twist.  Well I have a great recipe for you!  Ham and cheese is a beloved pairing, and is sure to satisfy in any form.  This recipe gives you a new way of looking at ham and cheese in a delicious croquette, or fried finger food. 
I made these as part of our appetizer dinner for New Year's Eve this year and hubby and I scarfed them down in no time.  Make this recipe for your next get together and you'll be amazed at how fast they disappear!  

I adapted this recipe from one found on Food Network.  The original recipe served the croquettes with a pea sauce that didn't sound appealing to me at all.  Instead, I served mine with a Chardonnay dijon mustard, but I think a good homemade ranch would do well, too.  Enjoy!

Ham and Cheese Croquettes

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup diced thinly sliced ham
  • 1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    • Vegetable oil, for frying
    • 2 large eggs, beaten
    • 1 sleeve saltines (40 crackers), roughly crushed

    Directions

    Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour, the cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to make a dry, stiff mixture, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk to make a smooth paste. Stir until the batter forms a ball, about 3 more minutes.
    Remove from the heat; stir in the ham, cheese and thyme. Spread the mixture evenly into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Cool, then refrigerate until firm, at least 45 minutes and up to 1 day.
    Heat about 3 inches of oil to 340 degrees in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Place the remaining 1/4 cup flour, the eggs and the saltine crumbs in 3 separate shallow dishes. Cut the chilled dough into 20 4-inch-long croquettes. Dredge each in flour, then dip in the eggs, letting the excess drip off, and roll in the saltines.
    Fry the croquettes in the oil in batches until golden brown. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with salt and serve with sauce of your choice.  

Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Penne


  • Since it has been quite a while since I have shared a recipe, I'm going to share several with you today.  Alas, there will be no pictures because I have difficulty dealing with my husband's computer.  Yes, for Christmas I received the gift of a dead computer charger.  Until we replace it, I'm stuck using my husband's computer.  But that's no excuse for me not to share recipes!  

  • So here's the first, a delicious Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Penne recipe.  I made this last night for hubby and we both just loved it.  And so simple!  I've adapted it from Melissa D'Arabian's recipe found here.  And it's part of the Ten Dollar Dinner series, so this recipe is designed to feed four for $10 or less, definitely a plus in this economy!  
Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Penne

  • 1 sweet onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, washed and dried 
  • 2 sweet or hot Italian sausages, thinly sliced or casings removed
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 12 ounces whole-grain penne, cooked according to package instructions, 1/2 cup pasta water reserved
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a bowl, toss all the vegetables, except the tomatoes, with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast, until caramelized, about 30 minutes, turning vegetables halfway through the cooking time. In a small bowl, add the tomatoes and the remaining olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add to the baking sheet, at the halfway point of cooking, to caramelize.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add the sausage and saute until cooked through. Turn up the heat and deglaze with white wine. Once the vegetables are cooked, cool slightly, then coarsely chop. Add the vegetables and any pan juices to the sausage in the skillet. Toss in the cooked penne, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to moisten. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve in bowls topped with Parmesan.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Braised Short Ribs from bon appetit


One of my favorite meals includes a cheap cut of meat that is super popular right now.  Short ribs are relatively inexpensive and require some time and planning ahead, but make a super easy and seriously delicious meal.  My recipe is a remake of something I found on bon appetit's website and altered to suit my needs.  I like to make this a day or two ahead of time.  That way you can refrigerate the sauce making skimming the fat off the top easy.  This won't change the tenderness and unctuousness of the beef and make it a perfect meal for a dinner party that won't pull you away from your guests for too long.




Ingredients

5 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 750ml bottle dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
8 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups beef stock

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 Tbsp. drippings from pot.


Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones and cut off fat.  Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup.

If you're serving immediately:  Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes with sauce spooned over.


If you're saving for use in a day or two:  Pour sauce into a bowl and refrigerate separately from meat.  When ready to eat, remove from refrigerator and immediately spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard.  Combine meat and sauce in a saucepan and gently reheat over medium heat until warmed through.  Serve over mashed potatoes with a side of crusty bread to soak up sauce.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I’m Thankful For…


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  You normally get two days off of school or work, it’s filled with delicious food which you’re encouraged to eat in copious amounts, and you get to be surrounded by family.   The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Westminster Dog Show, and football are on the TV.  Drinking from 10am till you pass out after the big dinner isn’t frowned upon; you’re just celebrating the season.  And finally, once Thanksgiving rolls around I am no longer slightly embarrassed by my Christmas decorations, which have already been up for about a month.

I try not to forget to give thanks for the good things in my life on this Thanksgiving.  Today, I’m thankful for:

My mother.  After a trying and difficult year, she is cancer-free this Thanksgiving.  I’m so proud of her and her strength.  She is an inspiration to me and I’m glad we can celebrate this holiday together.  I love you, mother.

My husband.  He is my rock.  He gives me strength when I’m weak.  He helps me see the light when I’m in the dark.  He brings me peace and comfort.  He calms the storm inside me.  He is the balance to my instability.  He has incredible insight and knows just what to say to me in every situation.  He is filled with kindness and empathy.  He inspires me to be a better me.  I’m not sure how I got so lucky to make him mine, but I’m thankful each and every day for our relationship.  On the 26th of this month, we will have been married one year.  I’m thankful for this year and look forward to countless more.  I love you, husband.

My grandparents and great-grandmother.  I share an unusual relationship with my grandparents.  Closer than many people are to their own parents, I’m lucky enough to have my maternal grandparents in my life.  We talk on the phone every day, and their support and love is unconditional and unwavering.  Growing up, their loving, caring, tender relationship with each other demonstrated a true and deep love; the perfect example of a patient, loving, supportive couple.  I am forever indebted to them for the care and love I received growing up. I love you grandma and grandpa.

I’m nearly 30 years old and until high school, I had three great-grandparents.  Only one of them, my grandfather’s mother, survives.  Her life is remarkable, and I can only hope to have inherited her longevity.  Always glad to see me, I find all our time together more precious than gold.  I love you, Maw. 

Good friends.  I’m lucky enough to have a handful of good friends.  We may not get to see each other as much as we would like.  We may not talk to each other all the time.  But the paths of communication are always open when one party needs the other.  Knowing I have this support group brings an immeasurable feeling of security.  You know who you are.  I love you, friends.

In-Laws.  Yes, I’m thankful for my new family through marriage.  Many men and women find themselves in tough situations where they don’t like their spouse’s family, or worse, the spouse’s family doesn’t like them!  I’m lucky enough to enjoy each and every one of my new family members.  Time spent with my in-laws is a delight.  I love you, new family.

Lola.  Don’t judge me because I’m thankful for my dog.  She brings me smiles and happiness on a daily basis.  I couldn’t love her more if she came from my own womb.  I love you, Lola.

And last, but not least…

Good food.  From dry-aged beef at a high class steakhouse to pizza from the local Italian joint, few things bring more pleasure than sharing good food with those you love.  Food accents the major milestones in life.  Holidays, at least in my house, revolve around the menu.  Food is central to our lives and I’m thankful that I’m able to cook delicious meals every day. 

Take some time this Thanksgiving holiday and think about that which you’re most thankful for.