Salmon Burgers


Today, the NuM NuM became my nemesis. Well, not really, I'm the &%@#*& moron who tried to re-arrange things on my blog and deleted fifteen of my ALL TIME FAVORITE recipes...ALL TIME!!! I was seriously on the verge of tears until I somehow found a "feed" which archived my old blog entries. I've just spent the last hour and a half recovering my old posts. Maybe I wouldn't have been that depressed if I'd lost some recipes that weren't classified as "favorites," but we're taking about THE BEST of the best of the best of the NuM NuM. Thank the LORD the NuM NuM is back and running...I know your lives wouldn't have been the same either. If only I worked and cared about my full-time job as I do my blog :)

Anyway, on a happier note tonight's recipe was NUM! I've never made any type of burger aside from a meat burger so tonight was a nice change. It was healthy, light, and most of all it didn't have that strong fishy taste salmon can sometimes have. The aioli, which is basically a fancy word for any type of seasonings added to a mayo, gave a nice clean flavor to the burger as well. I improvised with the recipe a bit b/c after I made my "tester" patty, I found the fish a little bland so I added more soy sauce, lemon juice, pepper, and Tony's Creole Seasoning. The Creole Seasoning added the final POP to the dish and it wouldn't have been the same without it. After the fish finished grilling I squirted a bit of lemon juice for freshness. This meal came together fast and was the perfect meal for a weeknight.

Salmon Burgers
Adapted from Paula Deen
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
6 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 lb. salmon fillets, skinned, boned and finely chopped
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

For the cilantro mayo:
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup cilantro minced
Dash of cayenne pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

For serving:
Burger buns OR english muffins
Green lettuce
Sliced red onion
Sliced tomatoes

Directions:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the diced bell pepper, panko, garlic and salmon. In a small bowl combine the egg white, soy sauce, lemon juice and salt. Add the liquid mixture to the bowl with the salmon and toss gently until well incorporated. Form the mixture into four equal patties.
To make the cilantro mayo, combine all the ingredients in bowl until well combined and smooth. (I just mixed it by hand)
Lightly coat a grill pan or skillet with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the patties about 3-5 minutes per side, until cooked through.
Place the burgers on the buns, spreading one side of the bun with the cilantro mayo. Top as desired with lettuce, onion and tomato.

Home made ground chicken = Italian Wedding Soup

chicken meatballs OR little soccer balls :P

I'm sure some of you already knew this, but I JUST had an epiphany today that I can make my own ground meat at home. I had an abundance of chicken breasts leftover from my sister's b-day dinner and since it's cold out, I thought I'd make some soup. Also since I gorged last night I thought I'd make a lighter meal.

Last night lobster made his famous ribs. Except this time he made them THE BEST EVERRR!!! He cooked them looooow and slooooow on his Big Green Egg for five hours. These were fall of the bone, lip smackin good. While we were stuffing our faces, the bones literally didn't have an ounce of meat on them b/c they literally just "fell off" into my tummy. It's times like these, I'm so glad I married him :)

Anyway, on to my recipe. This soup is GOOOOOD!!! This is the first time I've ever had Italian wedding soup and now I can see why it's such a popular dish. The original recipe called for ground turkey and chicken sausage but I used my food processor and grinded up 3/4 pound of chicken breasts. I just used 12 - 1 second pulses and voila, homemade ground chicken. Ground meat can be so expensive at supermarket and now I never have to buy it again...YAY! Since chicken is so lean it can tend to be tough and dry but these were so moist. I also discovered how much leaner a ground chicken breasts are then ground turkey. It's amazing, when you bake these in the oven the chicken literally renders no fat. Now that I found this new method, I can't wait to make other things. Chicken burgers, chicken kabobs. Oooh, I may have to try to make a huge ground chicken patty, cut it up then throw it in a salad.

I used Ina Garten's recipe as a reference but made my own changes along the way. So the following recipe is my version. For the meatballs I'm sure if you substituted dried herbs it would be fine, but you MUST use fresh dill for the soup. It really gives the soup a fresh, clean taste and is the final component to finishing the dish. Also, if you can find rosemary bread to make the breadcrumbs, I would highly recommend it b/c it gave the meatballs so much flavor. If not, I would finely mince a tablespoon of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp of dried and add that to the meatballs. This soup was supposed to last us a couple days but it was so good it only lasted one meal. Nummmmm.

Italian Wedding Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten
Makes 3 servings

For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken breast
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used rosemary bread and grinded them in the food processor)
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tbs grated onion
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons of freshly minced thyme
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
1 egg white
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup diced carrots, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup diced celery, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
5 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
6 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, garlic, parsley, thyme, Parmesan, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork.
Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl and cover with milk. Grab breadcrumbs and squeeze out all the milk then put in bowl with the meat.
Grate an onion on the side of a box grater (like you would grate cheese) then put into the meat mixture.
Make a small test patty on a skillet and check to see if the meatballs are seasoned to your liking.
With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 16-20 meatballs) Bake for 25 minutes, until cooked through. (You can tell they're done when you touch them and they bounce back) Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan if desired.

Home Made Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are INSANELY DELICIOUS!!!! All those hours of searching for the best recipes on the Internet surely does pay off when you get to put yummy goodness in your belly. These are finger-lickin', mouth watering, lip smackin' GOOOOOOD!!! These are better then the cinnabons you eat at the malls b/c you get to enjoy these fresh out of the oven. They are so yummy and warm and the glaze you pour over the top is just heavenly.


These cinnamon rolls will now become a tradition in our home. These are sooooo good and rich that they can only be consumed once a year. Therefore, we will be enjoying them every Christmas and savoring every bite...guilt free!

While making this recipe I am still having difficulty learning how to roll out my dough. I follow the recipe exactly but for some reason I cannot get the dough to roll out to the correct size. So frustrating!! Therefore I was only able to make 8 rolls instead of 12. Well, it was really more like 6 because the two on the end had less of a dough to cinnamon sugar ratio so I doubt they will get eaten. Anyway, I hope you try this recipe and enjoy them as much as we did. (Haha, update: I was rolling the cinnamon rolls from the short side of the dough rather than the long side. Therefore I was unable to get the proper amount :)


Fastest Cinnamon Buns
by Kathy Kingsley
Yields: 12 buns

For an extra-sweet touch, reserve some of the glaze to pass at the table, so people can drizzle a little more on top

For the dough:
3/4 cup cottage cheese (4% milk fat) or 1% fat or part skim ricotta
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

For the filling:
3/4 oz. (1-1/2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup (4 oz.) chopped pecans

For the glaze:
2-1/2 oz. (scant 2/3 cup) confectioners' sugar
2 to 3 Tbs. cold whole or low-fat milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

Make the dough:
In a food processor, combine the cottage cheese, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse in short bursts just until the dough clumps together (I pulsed mine about 6 times - don’t overprocess) The dough will be soft and moist.
Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with floured hands 4 or 5 times until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x15-inch rectangle.

Make the filling:
Brush the dough with some melted butter, (I just used butter spray) leaving a 1/2-inch border unbuttered around the edges. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and pat gently into the surface. Sprinkle the nuts over the sugar mixture.
Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.

With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 12 equal pieces. Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan; they should fill the pan and touch slightly, but don’t worry if there are small gaps.

Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 20 to 28 minutes. (Mine only took 20 minutes) Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the inside edge of the pan and remove the springform ring. Transfer the rolls to a serving plate.

Make the glaze:
In a small bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar, 2 Tbs. milk, and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. It should have a thick but pourable consistency, so add up to 1 Tbs. more milk if necessary. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls. Let stand 5 minutes and serve.

**Here is another version to the recipe, although I haven't tried it yet.

Apple-Butter Cinnamon Buns: Instead of using the cinnamon-pecan filling in the main recipe, mix 3/4 cup apple butter, 1-1/2 Tbs. melted butter, and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Omit the melted butter from the main recipe and spread the dough rectangle with the apple mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup (3 oz.) finely chopped walnuts, if desired. Roll, cut, bake, and ice as directed. Because this filling is wetter, the buns may need to bake for 30 minutes.

Almond Toffee Chocolate Brittle - CRACK


Lately I have been on a baking kick for the past few days. But I would have to say that these are my favorite so far and the peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies come in at a close second. But holy cannoli, these toffee brittles are lethal. They are so addicting. If dessert could be a drug, THESE WOULD BE CRACK. I absolutely love the taste of toffee. If you love Almond Rocha or Heath bars you MUST make this!!! This dessert is so surprisingly good and easy that it makes you say, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe I made this." It tastes sooooo much like the real thing and it's unbelievably easy. I must warn you though, these are SUPER addicting. I just ate about 4 of them and I JUST pulled them out of the fridge. I'm realizing I really shouldn't make any more desserts because I find myself consuming way more than any human should actually eat in one sitting. I think I will cut back a bit before I bust an artery.

I found this recipe from this website. I halved the recipe and my first batch burned because 15 minutes was way too long to have these in the oven. Maybe because I made a half batch they cooked a lot faster. I pulled mine out after about 5 minutes. Basically, when the caramel begins to bubble in the oven you want to pull these out. After I finished sprinkling almonds on top I put them in the freezer to cool down faster b/c I'm just impatient like that. After they were cool enough to eat I broke them into funky shapes which I think makes it look more decorative and whimsical. These are sooooo good, they are heavenly.

UPDATE: I am now using a different that produces excellent result every time

Almond Chocolate Toffee Crunchies Recipe
Ingredients:
1 sleeve of saltine crackers (20 crackers)
1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted (I used salted roasted almonds)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Line crackers on cookie sheet close together. In a saucepan combine the sugar and the butter. Bring to a boil and start timer and boil for 3 minutes - do not stir. Immediately pour over saltines and spread to cover crackers completely. Bake for 5-7 minutes. I would linger more towards 7 minutes just to ensure that the caramel sets. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over the cookie sheet. The chocolate should start to melt. Spread chocolate over the toffee mixture and top with nuts. Allow to completely cool before breaking toffee up in pieces. If you're impatient like me put them in the freezer for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies and Chewy Salty Cookies




After a HORRIBLE night of cooking last night...I thought I'd never be able to make a good meal ever again. BUT, I redeemed myself and now I feel much better :) These cookies were goooood. All my favorite combinations wrapped into a cookie. The Chocolate chip oatmeal peanut butter cookies have the perfect combination of texture and thickness. They are crispy on the bottom, with a little bit of sweetness, chewy and nummy all over. This recipe is from all recipes and I followed it to a T, except I halved the recipe. They're pretty good for you too b/c they only have 95 calories each. Therefore, in my mind if you skip breakfast then you can have two :D My cookies took about 13 minutes to cook. I was watching them like a hawk the last few minutes to make sure they didn't burn. I've learned the trick to baking cookies. As soon as the edges look set, take those suckers out and let them finish cooking on the sheet pan for about 3-5 minutes. I let mine sit for 3 minutes and they were perfect.

Now for the salty, chewy cookies...these are GREAT b/c you only get a hint of the salty flavor so it really brings out the sweetness in the cookie. It's a completely different cookie b/c these bake up to be pretty flat. I did not add the entire one cup of oats and just eyeballed it b/c one cup seemed like too much. Next time however I will bake a thicker cookie and use a little more then a tablespoonful for each cookie.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from all recipes
Makes 24 cookies

• 1/4 cup butter, softened
• 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
• 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
• 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons peanut butter
• 1/2 egg
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• ¼ cup whole wheat flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup rolled oats
• 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, wheat flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally, mix in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded table spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.



DCist’s Salty Oats – CHEWY SALTY COOKIES
Adapted from here

1/2 cup plus plus 2 tbs all purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour-white or brown (I did not have this so I substituted with an equal amount of cake flour)
6 tbs (3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup large raisins or if using golden raisins cut into small pieces
Salt, for sprinkling (I used sea salt)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together rice flour and all purpose flour. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter for 30-60 seconds to soften. Add brown and white sugars, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Cream until mixture is very well blended. Add in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract.
With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and raisins.
Drop dough, using a little cookie dough scooper on to prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle cookies with salt, giving each cookie a light, but even, coating.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, (COOK FOR 12-14 MINUTES IF WANT BIGGER COOKIE USING 1/4 CUP MEASURING SPOON) until the edges are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing.
Makes about 10 huge cookies.

Chicken Cordon Bleu



**Close up of the nummyness...please do not try to eat your computer screen
**Photos courtesy of the lobster

This dinner was a winner!!!! It was so good...lobster said it was one of the best. This is a fancy shmancy grown up version of cordon bleu. I've never had cordon bleu but it will not be one of my favorite, "go-to meals." I'm so excited I have this recipe in my collection now. I remember when I saw Tyler Florence make this a couple years ago (that is not a typo, it really was two years ago) it looked so delicious on TV, but it didn't compare to smells eminating from my kitchen tonight. During the last few minutes of cooking I could smell the gruyere cheese and it smelled sooooooooo delicious I wanted to dive into the chicken breasts before they were even done cooking. A tiny bit of the cheese oozed out while baking so we scored an added bonus of fried cheese. Sooooo nummm!!!

This is a blend of two recipes. The stuffing comes from Tyler Florence's cordon bleu and the breadcrumb coating comes from Cook's Illustrated, Crunchy Pork Chops recipe (which is also a winner and can be found here) Cooking it on top of a wire rack really does keep the coating nice and crunchy and the breadcrumb coating keeps the chicken so moist and flavorful. I cooked these with a side of roasted broccoli that I found on this website, which was equally delicious. I figured since we were eating chicken coated in breadcrumbs stuffed with yummy, nutty, gruyere cheese I would balance out the dish with a veggie. Bon appetit :)

Chicken Cordon Bleu - 2 servings
2 chicken breasts skinless and boneless
4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
1/2 cup Gruyere, shredded
2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (should equal 1 ¾ cup)
1/2 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 tablespoon)
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
Ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/8 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 large egg whites
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Lay the chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of plastic and lay 2 slices of prosciutto neatly over the top to cover the breast and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the prosciutto. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll inside the plastic wrap. Squeeze the log gently to seal and twist both ends tight to form a nice log. Repeat with remaining chicken. Season outside of chicken with salt and pepper

2. Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 ¾ cups crumbs). Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with thyme, and parsley.

3. Place 1/8 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard until combined; add remaining 3 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea-sized lumps remaining.

4. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Dredge 1 chicken in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chicken with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. Transfer breaded chicken to wire rack. Repeat with remaining chicken and cook until meat thermometer register 165 which will take about 30 minutes.

**My chicken breasts would not stay together so I sealed them with toothpicks. Next time I also wouldn't waste time with the egg/mustard mixture and simply coat them in an egg white mixture.

Roquefort stuffed bacon wrapped dates

I absolutely LOVE the combination of salty and sweet...and bacon wrapped dates is exactly that. I stuffed these babies with roquefort cheese and it was soooooooo good. What could be better then stinky cheese wrapped in bacon. Although, I was health conscious and blotted off the grease after cooking...so that made me feel a little better about eating them.

This is more of a method then a recipe. You simply take a fresh date, remove the pit then stuff it with your favorite cheese. If you're really bold, you can stuff the ENTIRE date with as much cheese as you could possibly fit in there. I went the skinny route and just put a little cheese in it. Cut bacon in half or in thirds and wrap it around the date and secure with a toothpick. Put them on a baking sheet (broiler pan is better if you have one) and put them under the broiler for about 10 minutes, rotating every few minutes. Make sure you watch them carefully since they do tend to burn a bit. You can change the recipe and substitute any fruit or cheese you wanted. Fresh figs stuffed with brie and wrapped in bacon would be excellent too. Oooh, I'm craving one right now. Must stop blogging and make one. Enjoy....num!!!

Pork Chops stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach

It's so exciting to make recipes you've bookmarked and filed in your archives for years. That's DEFINETELY one of the perks to being married. Finally you have a life-long guinea pig to test your recipes on. This one was definetely a winner!!!! Lobster said it was f-ing delicious....must keep blog PG-rated. You know it's going to be good when it's been reviewed by 250 other people.

I don't necessarily think of myself as a good cook, but a good recipe finder. I hate it when you make something and it doesn't turn out the way you expected. Then you think, it couldn't possibly have been me. Therefore I try not to make recipes unless there has been some sort of review for them, making them ultimately fool-proof and yummy for my tummy!!!

I followed the recipe as is but used bone in pork chops instead. Since they were a bit thick, I seared both sides on the stove top then finished them off in the oven. The result was a moist, flavorful, delicious pork chop. I accidentally undercooked the pork a bit so I had to go back and re-cook it :( But at least now I know I should insert my instant-read thermometer as close as possible to the bone instead of any random spot. (When cooking bone-in chops make sure the bone is in the center of the pan since that's the hottest part of pan and they take the longest to cook) I cooked the pork chops to 153 degrees knowing they would rise to 160 since I let them rest for about 7 minutes while I made the sauce. I also found the sauce to be a little too tangy so I adjusted for that by adding a little more chicken broth.

I made these with a side of green beans and grilled romaine. I didn't even follow a recipe. I'm awfully proud of myself. Yes, I am turning into a culinary nerd but I'm just so excited to finally be able to cook whatever I want in my kitchen. Anyway, back to the green beans...I cut up one shallot then seasoned the beans with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little bit of fresh thyme. I added a bit of water to help the green beans steam and then deglazed the pan with some chicken broth and reduced it to concentrate the flavors. For the grilled romaine, I split it in half then brushed the top and bottom of the lettuce with EVOO, sprinkled it with garlic powder and a little S&P. Lobster then grilled it on his dalmation. Right when it came off the grill I sprinkled it with some cheese. Next time lobster thinks we should melt the cheese on the lettuce while it's still on the grill, which sounds like yummy cheezy goodness. Note to self for next time. It was a healthy well balanced meal...num num.

Pork chops stuffed with spinach and sun dried tomatoes – 2 servings
Adapted from here

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 cloves garlic, minced
3 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1/2 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
Salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ounce of goat cheese
2.6 ounce (1/2 of 1/3 of a cup) reduced-fat cream cheese
2 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops
3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 lemon , zested
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Directions

Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and season with more salt and pepper to your liking.

Use a sharp knife to cut a deep long pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop so you can stuff more. Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing with toothpick. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.
Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Spoon sauce over the pork before serving

Pear Crostata with Honey, Blue Cheese, and Almonds



It's official!!! I have finally conquered my fear of working with dough. The other night, I made a nice meal for lobster's belated birthday, which was about two months ago...bad wifey. However, since I was making such a belated dinner, it had to kick ass...which this crostata did. I made this along with short ribs from "Sunday Night Suppers" by Suzanne Goin which were really nummy too.

This crostata was the perfect blend of sweet and savory. The flavor of the crust was amazing. It was perfectly light and flaky. The lemon zest really made the difference and took the crust to a whole new level. For my first attempt I would say it wasn't too bad.

I may have rolled my dough a little too thick b/c the end result was a little smaller then what the recipe stated. I have yet to figure out how to roll the dough into a perfect circle. Mine usually end up looking like funky shaped islands...can't figure out what I'm doing incorrectly. Anyway, it doesn't matter since I'm usually the only one who gets to see my funky dough so I just cut around the misperfections and no one is the wiser :D

I altered the recipe a tiny bit and eyeballed several of the ingredients. I didn't use all the honey in the recipe but simply drizzled what I thought looked right over the crostata. For the blue cheese I would use all the cheese called for in the recipe, if not more. But that's just me since roquefort is one of my favorites. If you are not a fan of strong, sharp cheeses I would be conservative with the amount you use. But for me, the stinkier the better :) I also only used about half the amount of pears I roasted. I was afraid the crust might get soggy if I used all the pears so I skimped a little. Oh well, just gives me another reason to make it again. Numm.

**I have updated the recipe and am now using the crust from my Butternut Squash Galette recipe.

Pear Crostata with Honey, Blue Cheese and Almonds
Adapted from Tyler Florence, Food Network

4 pears, halved, cored, but not peeled
1 tablespoons butter
4 ounces good-quality blue cheese, crumbled (Roquefort)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons honey
1 recipe Basic Pie Pastry, chilled 30 minutes, recipe follows
1 egg, beaten with a drizzle of cold water
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Arrange the pears, cut sides up, on a baking sheet and dot with butter. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pears are just tender. Let cool.
Increase the oven heat to 450 degrees F.
Sprinkle the counter and a rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll the dough out to a 14-inch round, about 1/4-inch thick. It doesn't have to be perfect. Transfer the dough to the back of a lightly floured baking sheet. Slice the pears and arrange them on the dough round by overlapping the slices in a spiral fashion, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Scatter blue cheese over the top, and sprinkle with the almonds.
Bring the edge of crust over onto the filling, leaving the fruit exposed in center. Gently fold and pinch the dough to seal any cracks and brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is tender. Remove crostata from the oven and drizzle with the honey. Slide a knife under the crostata to loosen it from the pan. Then cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Basic Pie Pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water

Pulse flour, butter, lemon zest, and sea salt in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal (very tiny pebbles of dough). Drizzle ice water evenly over mixture and pulse until it just forms a ball. (Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.) Gently press dough into a 5-inch disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

**Even though it seems excessive you really should use 2 tablespoons of sugar for the crust.Also, next time I will try it with 2 tablespoons of lemon zest and perhaps the juice of half a lemon

Mac and Cheese

OMG, this was THE BEST mac and cheese EVERRRR!!! If there were ever a time to indulge in full fat, artery clogging nummy goodness, this would be the recipe of all recipes. It is Giada's recipe for mac and cheese. I followed the recipe exactly except I used penne pasta, a three cheese blend from Whole foods (Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina) instead of the Fontina and part skim Mozzarella. But I did splurge a little and use a block of the real deal Parmesan cheese. I wanted to show lobster how my food processor worked so I grated it in there. Little did I know, before it was too late, I neglected to seal the top and before I knew it bits of cheese started flinging all over the place...he was thoroughly amused.

The recipe states 6 servings, but I fed this to a crowd of 10 and there was still about half the amount left. Since it is so glutinous, I think next time I will only make half of what the recipe states.

Mac and cheese – 6 servings

Butter, for greasing dish
12 ounces egg noodles/3 cups dry pasta
2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (packed) grated cheese mix
3/4 cup (packed) finely grated Parmesan
3/4 cup (packed) grated mozzarella
4 strips of bacon, optional
2 tbs finely chopped parsley

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Drain well, but do not rinse.

Whisk the cream, milk, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl to blend. Stir in 1 cup cheese mix, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, bacon, if using, and parsley. Add the noodles and toss to coat. Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Toss the remaining 1 cup cheese mix, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup mozzarella in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the noodle mixture. Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving

Seared Alaskan Halibut and Coucous wtih Citrusy Garam Masala Vinaigrette



In celebration of lobster and I purchasing our first home, "we got a hooouse, we got a hooouse" (you have to imagine me doing the cabbage patch to get the full effect) I thought I'd celebrate by posting one of my ALL-TIME favorite recipes (no time to cook, must go furniture shopping!!) This is perfect for a light, summer meal. Garam Masala is an ingredient I'd never used before, but now it is one of my favorite spices. I love ALL food that has lots of strong flavors and this is IT. It's similar to curry but kicked up about ten notches with a fragrant mix of nummy goodness, cumin, corianer, cinnamon...you get the idea. The couscous in this recipe is amazing. All those aromatics sauteed together with the garam masala and vinaigrette just makes it all come together and it is numnumnum. The halibut is simply flavored with olive oil and S&P. You'd think just using S&P would make it bland, but the halibut is so clean and fresh that's all it really needs. When you get a good sear on the halibut, it's a nice contrast and balance to the bold flavors of the couscous.


Recipe and photo from this site.

Seared Alaskan Halibut and couscous salad – 4 servings

4 6oz alaskan halibut fillets
4 tbsp canola oil (I used EVOO)
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil to the pan. Season the halibut liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Once the skillet is hot, place the fish into the oil serving-side down. Cook the alaskan halibut for about 5-6 minutes per side, until the fish is just cooked through. Remove the halibut from the heat and allow it to rest for a 5 minutes before serving.



Couscous Salad with Citrusy Garam Masala Vinaigrette
1 cup couscous
3 dried apricots, chopped
1/8 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1 cup boiling water, salted
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 bulb fennel, diced
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the vinaigrette:
1 1/2 tbsp honey
juice and zest from 1 lime
juice and zest from 1 lemon
1 tbsp garam masala (homemade or store bought)
1/4 cup olive oil

Place the couscous, apricots, and cranberries into a heat safe mixing bowl, preferably metal. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the fruit and couscous. Seal the mixing bowl with plastic wrap to allow the couscous to cook and the fruit to plump. Allow the couscous to sit for twenty minutes, until all of the water is completely absorbed.

Preheat a pan to medium heat. Add 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil to the pan. Once the pan is hot add the onion, carrot, and fennel. Saute the veggies over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.

While the couscous cooking and the veggies are sauteing make the vinaigrette. Add the honey, lemon and lime zest and juice, and garam masala to a mixing bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Begin drizzling in the olive oil while continuing to whisk constantly to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Set the vinaigrette aside until the couscous is finished.

Once the couscous has absorbed all of the water, remove the plastic wrap. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Add the sauteed veggies, diced red pepper, mint leaves, toasted slivered almonds, and vinaigrette to the fluffed couscous. Toss the salad until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and everything is coated with the vinaigrette. Taste the salad, then season as necessary with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve warm or chilled.

Zuni Cafe's Roast Chicken



This is the best chicken recipe EVERRR...EVER...this has to be the best chicken I've ever made!! All I can say is numnumnumnumnum. Did I mention it was num? OMG, you MUST try this recipe. It actually tastes just like the restaurants. I would even say it tastes BETTER then the restaurants b/c I actually made this and it was GOOOOD!!! You should definetely make this for anyone you're trying to impress...they'll love you and think you're the best cook ever...especially if you're cooking for someone of the opposite sex.

Thank you to the Zuni peeps for giving us common folk this recipe. I think the secret really is salting the chicken ahead and making sure it is completely patted dry when you salt it and when it goes in the oven. I used a little over a 4 pound chicken and used 4, 3/4teaspoons...yes FOUR, 3/4 teaspoons...of salt and salted it two days ahead. It's crucial to use sea salt b/c it's not as potent as regualr kosher salt. Don't be afraid to use as much salt as the recipe calls for b/c in the end it does not taste salty at all. I was shocked to see how much salt the recipe calls for but it gives the chicken so much extra flavor. It is so nummmmmmmm. The lobster and brother's clan all agreed as they kept shoveling more and more pieces of chicken in their mouths. My brother ate so much he did not leave very much for the poor lobster :( I'll just have to make him another one...if he's good.

Anyway, I made a few changes to the recipe and added some notes below. As I mentioned, I was cooking for myself, the lobster, and my brother's clan so there was a total of five of us. I bought a little over a four pound chicken and as you can tell, that was not enough chicken. I forgot how much men and a growing 10-year old can eat. The changes I made to the recipe are as follows: I didn't get any currants b/c the recipe called for such a small amount that I couldn't be bothered. I also forgot to buy the arugula and pinenuts too...teehee...but I didn't miss it one bit. The recipe gets a little confusing with flipping the bird over, then flipping it back, then flippin' it and ya lah ya lah ya lah...so I just put it in breast side up until it was finished cooking. Don't get scared when the grease and fat starts to snap, crackle and pop that just means nummmm.

The bread salad is also DELISH!!! I had to add more chicken stock to deglaze the pan b/c I accidentally threw out all the liquid from the pan after I removed the chicken. I then put all the juices from the pan over the bread along with the remaining vinaigrette and added some more S&P to taste. Please don't be intimidated by how long the recipe is b/c it is soooooo worth it. I served this with some roasted corn in their husks at 350 degrees for thirty minutes. Roasting the corn in their husks makes the corn unbelieveably sweet. You won't even need any butter or S&P. Nummmm Nummm.

Update: I have made this three times now and spending a little extra dough on the chicken goes a long way. Buying an organic + free range chicken gave the best results for flavor...which was highly noticeable when compared to a regular chicken and an organic chicken bought at the grocery store. When I spoke with the butcher at the farmer's market, he told me an organic, free range chicken will yield the best flavor, but when that is not an option and you must choose between an organic or free range chicken, choose the free range chicken b/c it will have more flavor.

Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad - 2 to 4 servings
adapted from here

For the chicken
One small chicken, 2-3/4 to 3-1/2-pounds
4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage, about 1/2 inch long
Salt
About 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

For the salad
Generous 8 ounces slightly stale open-crumbed, chewy, peasant-style bread (not sourdough)
6 to 8 tablespoons mild-tasting olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon dried currants
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or as needed
1 tablespoon warm water
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 to 3 garlic cloves, slivered
1/4 cup slivered scallions (about 4 scallions), including a little of the green part
2 tablespoons lightly salted Chicken Stock or lightly salted water
A few handfuls of arugula, frisée, or red mustard greens, carefully washed and dried

Seasoning the chicken (Can be done 1 to 3 days before serving; for 3-1/4- to 3-1/2-pound chickens, at least 2 days)

Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Be thorough-a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown.

Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove and herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets. (This part sounded a little confusing so I shoved a one inch rosemary sprig into the two corner ends of the breast near the wing. Flipped the bird over and put 2, 2-inch rosemary sprigs underneath the skin closest to the legs)

Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper (we use ¾ teaspoon of sea salt per pound of chicken) Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Starting the bread salad (Can be done up to several hours in advance)

Preheat the broiler.

Cut the bread into a couple of large chunks. Carve off all of the bottom crust and most of the top and side crust. Reserve the top and side crusts to use as croutons in salads or soups. (I placed all the bread in a 9x13 baking dish and only used one dish for the entire salad) Brush the bread all over with olive oil. Broil very briefly, to crisp and lightly color the surface. Turn the bread chunks over and crisp the other side. Trim off any badly charred tips, then tear the chunks into a combination of irregular 2- to 3-inch wads, bite-sized bits, and fat crumbs. You should get about 4 cups.

Combine about 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the Champagne or white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Toss about 1/4 cup of this tart vinaigrette with the torn bread in a wide salad bowl; the bread will be unevenly dressed. Taste one of the more saturated pieces. If it is bland, add a little salt and pepper and toss again.

Place the currants in a small bowl and moisten with the red wine vinegar and warm water. Set aside. (STOP HERE IF MAKING AHEAD)

Roasting the chicken and assembling the salad

Preheat the oven to 475. Depending on the size, efficiency and accuracy of your oven, and the size of your bird, you may need to adjust the heat to as high as 500 or as low as 450 during the course of roasting the chicken to get it to brown properly. If that proves to be the case, begin at that temperature the next time you roast a chicken. If you have a convection function on your oven, use it for the first 30 minutes; it will enhance browning, and may reduce overall cooking by 5 to 10 minutes.

Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle. Preheat the pan over medium heat and spray with PAM. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle. (For those of you who are like me and had to look it up, breast side up is when the little guys legs are pointed in the air) Then stick an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. When it reads 165 it is done. (Update: For some reason the last time I made this my chicken, the breasts were still raw even though the instant thermometer read 165 when inserted in the thigh. Now when I make this, I insert the thermometer into the breast and wait till it reads 165, which I find works best)

Place in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over — drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. Total oven time will be 45 minutes to an hour.

While the chicken is roasting, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish and set in the hot oven for a minute or two, just to warm though. Add them to the bowl of bread.

Place a spoonful of the olive oil in a small skillet, add the garlic and scallions, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until softened. Don’t let them color. Scrape into the bread and fold to combine. Drain the plumped currants and fold in. Dribble the chicken stock or lightly salted water over the salad and fold again. Taste a few pieces of bread-a fairly saturated one and a dryish one. If it is bland, add salt, pepper, and/or a few drops of vinegar, then toss well. Since the basic character of the bread salad depends on the bread you use, these adjustments can be essential.

Pile the bread salad in a 1-quart baking dish and tent with foil; set the empty salad bowl aside. Place the salad in the oven after you flip the chicken the final time.

Finishing and serving the chicken and bread salad

Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Leave the bread salad to continue warming for another 5 minutes of so.

Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Carefully pour the clear fat from the roasting oven, leaving the lean drippings behind. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and swirl it.

Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the juice into the drippings.

Set the chicken in a warm spot and leave to rest while you finish the bread salad. The meat will become more tender and uniformly succulent as it cools.

Set a platter in the oven to warm for a minute or two.

Tilt the roasting pan and skim the last of the fat. Place over medium-low heat, add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape to soften any hard golden drippings. Taste-the juices will be extremely flavorful.

Tip the bread salad into the salad bowl. It will be steamy-hot, a mixture of soft, moist wads, crispy-on-the-outside-but-moist-in-the-middle-wads, and a few downright crispy ones. Drizzle and toss with a spoonful of the pan juices. Add the greens, a drizzle of vinaigrette, and fold well. Taste again.

Cut the chicken into pieces, spread the bread salad on the warm platter, and nestle the chicken in the salad.

Capitalizing on leftovers: Strain and save the drippings you don’t use, they are delicious tossed with spätzle or egg noodles, or stirred into beans or risotto. You can also use them, plus leftover scraps of roast chicken, for the chicken salad which follows

My favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette

My favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette - 3 servings
from NuM NuM by nummm...

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp minced shallots
1/4 tsp salt; fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and taste for seasoning

Chicken with two lemons and swiss chard



I mean, the chicken even looks moist in this photo...num num.

Tonight's recipe produced the moistest chicken ever....EVERRRR!!!! It's surprising how four simple ingredients can make a chicken divine. All you need for this recipe is the chicken (free-range), salt, pepper and lemons.

This chicken officially beats my previous favorite. I thought that chicken was moist, but it doesn't even compare!! Well, it does come in a close second, but I enjoyed the flavor of this chicken a little better...therefore it's the weiner!! Lobster even said it was the moistest chicken he'd ever had :)

I was trying to compare the two recipes and according to my cooking expertise (LOL) I believe stuffing the chicken with the lemons produces an insanely moist chicken. Also this recipe starts the chicken at a lower temperature breast side down, then you flip the bird, cook a little more then crank up the heat at the very end. Very similar to our turkey recipe for Thanksgiving which was super moist as well. Come to think of it, this chicken took two hours to make, so allow some time for that while you prepare the rest of your meal.

This meal is simple to prepare and elegant enough to serve to company. I served it with swiss chard and roasted fennel, so it was a double whammy of vegetables. The swiss chard was a new vegetable we tried and apparently it's very rich in vitamins and minerals...apparently I've suddenly become a nutritionist. Anyway, hope you give the meal a try :)

Marcella Hazan’s Roast Chicken with Two Lemons
Servings vary.
Adapted from Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

3- to 4-pound chicken
Salt (3/4 teaspoon of sea salt per pound of chicken)
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
2 rather small lemons (small enough to fit inside the cavity of the chicken)

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash lemons and set aside to dry.

2) Rinse entire chicken in cold water, taking care to remove giblets first. Cut off all the strange hanging fat. Set chicken on a tilted plate and let air dry for 10 minutes. Dry thoroughly but gently with paper towels. (I salted the chicken for 24 hours, I usually like to do it two days ahead though)

3) Season the bird with lots of salt and pepper, both inside and out.

4) Using light pressure, roll the lemons across a board with your hands. (This will soften them up.) Prick each of them about 20 times with a toothpick. Stuff lemons in the chicken's larger cavity.

5) Using toothpicks or trussing string, close the cavity opening as best you can. (Don't make it airtight, or the chicken could pop.) Tie the chicken's legs together at the ends, but not tightly. They should remain in their natural place. (The skin might puff up if it cooks, but I've never seen this. - Kris)

6) Place chicken breast-side down into a large (ungreased) roasting pan. Roast in the upper third of the oven for about 30 minutes. Turn chicken over, so now the breast side is up.

7) Roast chicken for another 30 minutes. Jack oven heat up to 400°F and roast for 20 minutes longer. According to Marcella, "figure about 20 or 25 Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes total cooking time for each pound" after this. (If you have a meat thermometer, now's the time to use it.)

8) Remove bird from oven and let sit 5 or 10 minutes for juices to redistribute. Carve and serve, making sure you drizzle the juice at the bottom of the pan over the chicken. It will knock your socks off.

Marcella ahead-of-time note: "If you want to eat it while it is warm, plan to have it the moment it comes out of the oven. If there are leftovers, they will be very tasty cold, kept moist with some of the cooking juices and eaten not straight out of the refrigerator, but at room temperature."


Swiss chard - 2 servings
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 large bunch of fresh Swiss chard
1 small clove garlic, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
Salt

Method
1 Rinse Swiss chard leaves thoroughly. Remove leaves along both sides of the middle stalk. Discard the stalk. Roughly chop the leaves into inch-wide strips.

2 Heat a saucepan on a medium heat setting, add olive oil, a few small slices of garlic and the crushed red pepper. Sauté for about a minute. Add the chopped Swiss chard leaves. Cover. Check after about 5 minutes. If it looks dry, add a couple tablespoons of water. Flip the leaves over in the pan, so that what was on the bottom, is now on the top. Cover again. Check for doneness after another few minutes (remove a piece and taste it). Add salt to taste. Remove the swiss chard to a serving dish

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Stuffed chicken breast, or sushi roll?

I saw this recipe on TV a couple weeks ago and I thought it was going to be knock-your-socks off AMAZING. The chefs that were preparing it made it seem like it was going to be SO tasty. But to my dismay, it was just good. I liked it, I just didn't LOVE it. However, it did grow on me the more I ate it. Perhaps I'm becoming a cooking snob and expecting everything I cook to make my eyes roll back and say numnum. Oh well, that just means I'll have to try a ba-jillion more recipes. So many recipes, such little time :)

Stuffed Chicken Breasts – Serves 2
Published May 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.

If your chicken breasts come with the tenderloin attached, pull them off (see “Removing Chicken Tenderloins” below) and reserve them to make the puree in step 1. If necessary, trim these breasts to make uniform rectangles and to yield 1 1/2 to 2 ounces total trimmings per breast. Because the stuffing contains raw chicken, it is important to check its temperature in step 5.

Ingredients
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 ounces each) (see note)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 ounces white mushrooms , trimmed, wiped clean, and sliced thin
1/2 small leek , white part halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions
1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Use tip of sharp chef’s knife to cut each breast horizontally, starting at thinnest end and stopping knife tip 1/2 inch away from edge so that halves remain attached. Open up breasts to create 4 cutlets. Place 1 cutlet at a time in heavy-duty zipper-lock bag and pound to 1/4-inch thickness (cutlet should measure about 8 inches by 6 inches). Trim about 1/2 inch from long sides of cutlets (about 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of meat per cutlet, or a total of 1/2 cup from all 4 cutlets) to form rectangles that measure about 8 by 5 inches. Process all trimmings in food processor until smooth, about 20 seconds. Transfer puree to medium bowl and set aside. (Do not wash out food processor bowl.)
2. FOR THE STUFFING: Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until all moisture has evaporated and mushrooms are golden brown, 8 to 11 minutes. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil and leek; continue to cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice and cook until all moisture has evaporated, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl of food processor. Return pan to heat; add wine and scrape pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Transfer wine to small bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry skillet.
3. Pulse mushroom mixture in food processor until roughly chopped, about five 1-second pulses. Transfer mushroom mixture to bowl with pureed chicken. Add 3/4 teaspoons parsley, ½ of 3/4 teaspoon table salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using rubber spatula, fold together stuffing ingredients until well combined (you should have about 3/4 cups stuffing).
4. TO ASSEMBLE AND COOK: With thinnest ends of cutlets pointing away from you, spread one-quarter of stuffing evenly over each cutlet with rubber spatula, leaving 3/4-inch border along short sides of cutlet and 1/4-inch border along long sides. Roll each breast up as tightly as possible without squeezing out filling and place seam-side down. Evenly space 3 pieces twine (each about 12 inches long) beneath each breast and tie, trimming any excess.
5. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken bundles and brown on 4 sides, about 2 minutes per side. Add broth and reserved wine to pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted into thickest part of chicken, 12 to 18 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board and tent loosely with foil.
6. TO MAKE SAUCE AND SERVE: While chicken rests, whisk mustard into cooking liquid. Increase heat to high and simmer, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits, until dark brown and reduced to 1/2 cup, 7 to 10 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and remaining 3/4 teaspoons parsley and 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Remove twine and cut each chicken bundle on bias into 6 medallions. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

White Chili


It's a little chilly out so I decided to make a hearty pot of chili with the leftovers from our lemon chicken. I've never eaten white chili before, let alone made a chili that calls for chicken instead of beef either. However, this will now be a new favorite to add to my repertoire. It's a rich and hearty stew almost and has a nice kick to it. When I first added the green chilies I thought the dish became a little too spicy but it mellowed out after the broth reduced and the flavors concentrated. In the end it was the perfect amount of heat to the dish.

If you decide to make this, at first your chili will be very liquidy like a soup, but after an hour of simmering it will become a thick dish of nummyness. This dish is perfect for a cold winter day OR for someone who had a little too much to drink last night :)

White Chili Recipe
6 servings
Adapted from Simply Recipes with my revisions

Ingredients
1 15 oz can on cannelini beans (rinsed and drained)
6 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cups diced cooked chicken
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, chopped (optional) - I did not use one

Method

1 In a skillet, add oil and sauté onions in oil until tender then add garlic until fragrant or a minute of two. Add chilies and seasonings and mix thoroughly. Add beans to mixture. Add chicken and continue to simmer 1 hour. Adjust seasoning with S&P.

2 Garnish with chopped fresh tomato, salsa, chopped scallions, and/or guacamole. Serve with fresh warmed flour tortillas or tortilla chips. (I cut up some left over pita that I cut into thin strips and toasted in the oven)

**If you do not have any leftover chicken, the following is what the cook from the recipe suggests to do:
For the chicken, I saute chicken breasts cut in 1/2" strips in olive oil (1-2 tbsp)...I season the meat with my favorite steak seasoning, D.L. Jardine's. It seems to tenderize the chicken and gives just that extra bit of flavor. While I'm sauteing the chicken, I chop it into smaller, bite-sized pieces before adding to the soup.

Paella


Tonight lobster and I had a few friends over for dinner. I was especially excited b/c I had new guinea pigs to exeriment on :D I tried a couple new dishes and they were both a hit!! I made paella using my dutch oven and served a jicama mango slaw on the side. I love paella and have always wanted to re-create it at home. While searching for a recipe, there were so many on the Internet that it was difficult to choose just one. But, since I'm a hard-core Cook's Illustrated fan, I decided to try theirs and was satisfied with the results. Although, next time I make it I'm going to have to tweak it a bit. Since I was more concered with how the dish presented when I brought it to the table...I wanted to get some ooohs and aahs, I wasn't able to adjust the seasonings with any salt and pepper. Therefore, although the dish was good, I thought it could use a little more POP. However, the dish could have been lacking in flavor b/c I used a different sausage then what the recipe called for. Since my friends don't eat red meat or pork, I used a spicy green chile turkey and chicken sausage from Ralphs which I thought would be a good substitute for the chorizo. Even though it had a nice kick to it, nothing beats the flavor or spicy, smoky, yummy, fattening chorizo. Also, next time I'll have to forgo presentation and mix all the ingredients in the end together and adjust with some S&P. Anyway, this dish was still a winner and everyone left with full bellies and smiles on their faces. It was an entertaining night of glutinous eating and drinking...and now it's 2 a.m. and I'm blogging instead of sleeping. Geek! The following recipe is from cook's Illustrated but altered a bit to my liking.

Paella - 6 servings
Cook's Illustrated
2-hours cooking time from start to finish

INGREDIENTS
3/4 pound extra-large shrimp (about 15), peeled and deveined
olive oil
8-9 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 red bell pepper , seeded and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
8 ounces Spanish chorizo , sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias (see note)
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained, minced, and drained again (I used Hunt's petite diced tomatoes)
2 cups Valencia rice or Arborio
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads , crumbled
1 bay leaf
1 6 oz lobster tail, split tail in half and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup frozen green peas
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 lemon , cut into wedges, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss shrimp and lobster, 1/4 teaspoon table salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season chicken with salt and pepper; set aside.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to small plate and set aside. Cut into 1-inch pieces when they have cooled
3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven; heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add chicken pieces in single layer; cook, without moving pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pieces and brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer chicken to medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl with chicken and set aside.
4. Add enough oil to fat in Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until rice absorbs almost all liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from oven (close oven door to retain heat). Uncover pot; scatter shrimp and lobster over rice, arrange bell pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and return to oven; cook until shrimp are lobster opaque, 15-20 minutes.
6. Let paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle with parsley and serve, passing lemon wedges separately.

Jicama mango slaw


I served this dish with the paella. I made it the day before so all the flavors could meld together and it came together quickly since I used my fancy-shmancy mandoline slicer. It was very refreshing and a nice compliment to the warm paella.

If you've never tried jicama before, it is a mexican turnip and has a mild taste similar to radish, with just a hint of sweetness. It is very low in calories and tastes perfectly fine on its own as well. The only difficult thing about it is that it requires being peeled with a vegetable peeler. As long as you don't lose a finger in the process, it's definetely worth it. This is a great dish to make for a picnic since it travels well and would be perfect to serve along side a juicy burger...num :)

Jicama mango slaw
Adapted from the Jicama Mango Salad at Spring Street Natural
Yields about 5 servings

1 1/2 medium daikon, julienned
1 1/2 mangoes (firm, not-yet-ripe), julienned
1 1/2 limes, juiced
1/4 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 medium red onion, quartered and sliced thin
Salt
Cayenne to taste

NOTE #1: This dish is all about Julienne and her cutting style. If you have good knives, you’ll be a-okay. If you’re not sure if you have good knives, you’ll know soon enough. I have crappy knives, but I’m persistent. I wore a band-aid at the base of my index finger like a badge of honor when I served this delight at a Memorial Day BBQ.

1) Julienne (cut into thin sticks) the daikon (jicama) and mango. Place in a big ol’ bowl.

2) Stir lime juice into bowl with fruit and veg.

3) Add cilantro and onion. Stir

4) Add salt to taste.

5) Add a few dashes of cayenne. Wait 30 minutes. If you still want it hotter, add a bit more. The daikon gives a little bit of that heat I was looking for.

NOTE #2: The longer this dish marinates the better.

**Make sure you taste this dish as you go. If you add too much cilantro it begins to overpower the dish and pretty soon that's all you taste. Also, depending on how strong your onion tastes, you may want to cut back on the amount as well.

Apple tarte tatin and Texas smoked ribs

This apple tart was nummmm. I really enjoyed the crust and the apples had just the right amount of sweetness....AND what could make it even better you ask? Vanilla ice cream!!! I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream :) Ahhhhhh.....blogging geek! The soft apples, crunchy crust and cool ice cream made for the perfect balance of crunchy, sweet, hot and cold. Mmmm...makes my mouth water just writing about it!! I enjoyed the crust so much I found myself eating around the apples and diving straight for the crust.

I had been eyeing this recipe ever since I'd seen it on other people's blogs. It's from Dorie Greenspan's, Tuesday's With Dorie, and it lived up to all its hype. If you'd like to make the recipe, you can find it here. This was my first TWD recipe and it was fairly simple to make, however I was unable to get the apples to caramelize on the bottom and gave up after about 25 minutes b/c white man kept coming in to see and harassing me about my cooking skills. Anyway, I think next time I'll try making the caramel sauce first, THEN layer on the apples. Even though my apples didn't caramelize the tart was still delicious! Making the tart bottom side up allowed the crust to retain it's crunch and was the perfect contrast to the soft apples.

This tart was the perfect ending to our delicious meal. The white man/brother-in-law smoked some ribs on lobster's Egg and they were just as good as I remembered them. He made this delicious sop to glaze the ribs as they were cooking and it gave a wonderful tang to the meat. I was literally licking every bit of the sop off my fingers...num num num. The sop was so good I froze it to use for future use....yah, all mine!!! As much as we banter back-and-forth, I really can't say anything when it comes to his barbecuing. He sure can cook some mean ribs - and these bear claw ribs were AMAZING. I'm sure he's hunted and killed bears too, being that he's from the country and used to burn his own trash...who burns their own trash?! And....I digress :)

That would be the white man's hand...can you tell he's from Texas?

Porterhouse Steaks

nummm...please wipe the drool from your chin.

This weekend lobster's sister and hubby are in town from Texas. It was so nice spending time with them and reminiscing about the old days. Lobster's sister is married to a TRUE southern Texas cowboy. Imagine a big hat, cowboy boots, and a big southern drawl to boot...haha...I kid. But he being a southern texan and me in his eyes being a Korean F.O.B., there is much banter that goes back and forth. "Round eye, almond eye, kim chee lover, white man." :) It's all out of love. He's my favorite brother-in-law, he's also my only brother-in-law but that doesn't matter. As much as we banter back and forth, the one thing I can't make fun of is his barbecuing skillz. He even enters barbecue cook-offs, he's that good.

I think the first time I ever really had American ribs were from him and they were damn GOOD! I'm so glad lobster's sister married this non-yellow man b/c he was the one who originally taught lobster how to cook his famous ribs. So, as you can imagine we put him to work this weekend and indulged in some kick-ass glutinous eating. We ate these gargantuan porterhouse steaks along with some grilled asparagus and they were num num. Unfortunately, I'm unable to post his secret recipe but I'll let you gawk at the photo instead. Tomorrow we're having some smoked ribs on lobster's egg and I'm going to make an apple tarte tatin that I've been eyeing for awhile. Can't wait!

Baked falafel patties with Tzatziki (greek yogurt and cucumber sauce)



I made this with spanakopita but this could be a meal in itself with the addition of a nice salad. The yogurt sauce makes plenty and could be used to compliment any type of meat or chicken flavored with Greek seasonings such as kebabs. Or use it as a spread on top of a greek burger...nummmm. Must try that next time.

Baked falafel patties with Tzatziki (greek yogurt and cucumber sauce)
Makes 12 Falafel patties
Falafel recipe from The Foods of Israel Today, found on Epicurious.com

Falafel:
1 15-oz can of chickpeas
1 cup chopped onion
4 tbs chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 tsp chili powder
4 cloves minced garlic (about 2 tsp.)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. baking powder
3-6 T whole wheat flour (or more, if the balls don't stick together well enough)
olive oil, for spraying baking sheet

Rinse chickpeas under water and dry off with a towel and set aside in a bowl.
Sautee onion and garlic in little bit of oil, let cool. Then put in a bowl of a food processor with a steel blade attached and PULSE with parsley, cilantro, salt, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Then add chickpeas and pulse until mixture is well-chopped and combined, but not pureed together. Then put into a bowl and sprinkle over baking powder and 3 T flour and mix. Test one ball to see if mixture holds together and doesn’t stick to your hand, if not add more flour until it does. (I didn't need to add more flour.) Put mixture into a plastic bowl with a tight-fitting lid and chill several hours or overnight. (I chilled mine for only a couple hours)
(I also made a test patty like I always do and the flavors were spot on. No need to add any extra salt or seasonings)

When ready to bake Falafel, preheat oven or toaster oven to 400F. (I preheated the baking sheet too so the bottom of the falafel would be nice and crispy as soon as it hit the pan) Press the mixture into patties about 2-inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Put patties on pre-heated pan sprayed with olive oil (PAM) and bake until lightly browned and cooked through. Bake for 26 minutes, turning after 13 minutes.

UPDATE: I broke up the leftover falafels into bite size pieces and mixed them in a mesclun mix salad with turkey and ham deli meat, a little bit of grated gruyere cheese and tossed it all with the tzatziki as the dressing and it was divine!!! I was surprised to see the tzatziki worked so well as a dressing. So good and healthy...Num Num!!!

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce)
Makes about 3 1/2 cups (I only made half the recipe and it was waaay more then enough)
Adapted from here

3 cups Greek Yogurt
juice of one lemon (about 3 T)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
about 1 T kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 T finely chopped fresh dill (can substitute mint leaves for a slightly different version)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.) Slice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel.

In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.)

This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.

Spanakopita - entree style



My goodness was tonight's meal labor intensive. It literally took me about 3 1/2 hours to make it. BUT it was worth it b/c it was num num. This is another one of those recipes I've wanted to make for a while but never got around to it. Last night I threw the phyllo dough in the fridge so there was no turning back at that point. In my mind tonight's dinner seemed like it would come together quickly, but apparently not. If you're going to try to make this, it is not your typical weeknight meal and should be saved for a weekend.

To serve along side of the spanakopita I made baked falafels and a cucumber-dill yogurt sauce. The yogurt sauce was a refreshing compliment to the baked falafels which were very flavorful and crunchy. Falafels are usually deep fried but mine were baked in the oven. Since I pre-heated the baking sheet they were extra crunchy on both sides and you didn't miss the fact that they weren't deep fried. This was a delicious well rounded meal that took me back to our honeymoon in Greece :)

**I changed the recipe a bit since I didn't make individual servings and turned it into a pie instead.

Spanakopita - 4 servings
Adapted from here and here

2 tbs olive oil
2 pounds spinach, washed and drained or 2-10 oz frozen boxed spinach
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/8 cup finely chopped dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound filo pastry sheets

Directions
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan, add half of the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, tossing with tongs, about 2 minutes. Remove spinach and squeeze out excess liquid, then chop roughly. Repeat with remaining spinach, using 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Pour off any liquid from the pan, and add remaining olive oil. (Or defrost frozen spinach in the microwave and squeeze out excess liquid) Add scallions and saute until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach to the scallions, along with the parsley, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. (This part can be done ahead and kept refrigerated).

Stir the feta and as much beaten egg to moisten the cooled spinach mixture.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Unroll the filo dough on a flat surface and keep it covered with waxed paper and a damp towel so it doesn't dry out and become brittle. In a 9X9 baking dish, spray bottom with a light coating of PAM (you can use the melted butter instead of PAM). Fit in your first layer of phyllo dough. If it rips a bit, that’s fine! The additional layers will cover your problems. After your first layer of dough, spray with PAM lay down your second piece perpendicular to the first – just to make sure the layers are even on the sides. Then continue to build four more layers the same way making sure to spray the bottom and sides with PAM so the dough sticks together. Then fill the shell with your spinach filling. Then add 6 more layers of phyllo dough like the bottom layers. Cut off any excess dough that is hanging over the edges of the dish. Then with a sharp knife cut through the layers (from corner to corner) and make a big X in the dish so it's easier to remove the pieces once it's cooked. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes until top is golden and dough puffs up. Let stand for 10 minutes after baking.

Zucchini fritters

I made this recipe along side with the shrimp and tomatoes. They taste like pillowy puffs of mashed zucchini. This is my second time making these and I can't seem to figure out how to make them crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Mine are more along the lines of a buttery pancake but they were still very tasty. A great side dish for any occassion.

Zucchini pancakes – 10 pancakes
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

• 2 medium zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
• 2 tablespoons grated red onion
• 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
• 6 to 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon table salt or 1 tsp kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Unsalted butter and vegetable oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Grate the zucchini into a bowl using the large grating side of a box grater. Immediately stir in the onion and eggs, add the baking powder, salt, and pepper. (then add flour till get right consistency probably 4-6 tbs .
Heat a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan over medium heat and melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil together in the pan. When the butter is hot but not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and drop heaping soup spoons of batter into the pan. Cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place the pancakes on a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven. Wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel, add more butter and oil to the pan, and continue to fry the pancakes until all the batter is used. The pancakes can stay warm in 300F oven for max 30 minutes. Serve hot.

**I only used 3 tablespoons of flour and one egg.

Baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta



Light, healthy and yummy. I changed the recipe just a little bit b/c I wanted to use the extra tomatoes we had lying around. The original recipe called for canned tomatoes but I roasted mine instead. Roasting the tomatoes brings out their sweetness since they usually taste pretty bland during the winter months. The sauce for this recipe would be great for any pasta dish as well if you wanted to forgo the shrimp. After cooking the shrimp in the oven, I'm realizing I'm not a fan of cooking the shrimp this way either. I feel like it changes the taste and makes them taste like they're boiled instead of roasted. Next time I'll have to grill them first and then add them to the sauce after its been in the oven.

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta – 2 servings
Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger

• 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 3/4 cups)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoons)
• 1 (14.5-ounce) cans of no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with their juices or 3/4 lb tomatoes on the vine or Roma tomatoes
• 1/8 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1/2 tablespoon finely minced fresh dill
• 1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)

Cut tomatoes in half and roast in 400F cut sides up sprayed with pam, S&P, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for 35 minutes on top rack until nicely browned and caramelized. Then dice and set aside in a bowl. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juices thicken.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, dill, and feta taste to season with salt and pepper. Then add shrimp on top and bake until the shrimp are cooked through and cheese melts, about 12 minutes.

Asian Grilled Salmon and Otsu


The picture of the salmon did not come out very good so I decided to post the photo of the otsu instead. This salmon is a great "go-to" meal during the week. It's easy prep, flavorful and takes minimal effort. Since it comes together so quickly I think I'll be making it again when I'm having one of my lazy cooking days.

I served the salmon with the highly blogged "otsu" dish that is surfing around the Internet. I wanted to see/taste what all the hype was about. It's definitely different then the "traditional" Japanese soba dish we're accustomed to. There's a lot of flavors going on in this dish and it hits your palette in many different places. You get a salty, tangy, spicy kick all in one bite. Lobster didn't care for it too much but I didn't mind it and think it would be refreshing to eat on a hot day. Perhaps not so much in February on a rainy night :)

I did however pick up a new trick from making this dish. I cooked the tofu on a non-stick dry skillet and it literally took me about half an hour to brown it on all four sides. But the end result was a firm and bouncy piece of tofu that tasted fried, and it's always nice to eat healthy "fried" food. So was the otsu worth all the hype? Nay. It wasn't bad, just not spectacular but it was fun to finally make it. If you would like to try it for yourself, you can find it here.

Asian grilled salmon – 4 servings
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 3 tablespoons good soy sauce
• 6 tablespoons good olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 lbs salmon

Light charcoal briquettes in a grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking.
While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.
Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled

**I only made half the marinade and it was enough for the entire dish. Definitely brush the marinade over the salmon when it's done b/c it gives it lots of flavor.