All Clad sales are on!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The awesome husband emailed me a link to Williams-Sonoma's fall sale. Of particular interest was the 1.5 quart All Clad Saucepan. For 75.00. AWESOME! It gets better. Because I am the master of sales and discounts...I checked Amazon and they had it for 74.95 with FREE SHIPPING. SQUEEE!! I now have a gorgeous saucepan on its way to my house for 40.00 off retail AND no shipping fees.

Aaaaahhhhhh, yay!!

Greek Couscous

Friday, September 25, 2009

So this is an original recipe that I have made several times. I love the classic caprese salad, and I love greek salad. I also love renditions of recipes where warm ingredients, like brown rice, or in this case, couscous, are added to the fresh veggies and cheeses to make a warm salad. So in deference to those recipes, I thought up a greek couscous salad that can be served warm or cold. I prefer warm because it breaks down the cheese a little bit and makes it nice and luxurious to eat. Yes, I said luxurious. About a salad.

Greek Couscous (or Whole wheat couscous with feta, basil and tomato)

Here's what I used:

2 cups uncooked whole wheat couscous
2 1/2 cups water (or as directed by couscous instructions)
1 crate (~1 1/2 cups) quartered cherry tomatoes
1 package (~4 oz) low fat feta cheese (or mozzarella!)
1 package (~10 large leaves) fresh basil
2 tsp garlic powder
4-5 tbsp good olive oil

Here's what I did:

Brought water to a boil with a little salt, and half the garlic powder. Once boiling, quickly stirred in couscous, and removed from heat. Covered, and allowed to sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepared the vegetables. Quartered all of the cherry tomatoes, and stacked and rolled all the basil leaves into a cigar-shape, and then cut width-wise to "julienne" them into thin ribbons.

Once the couscous was done, transferred to a large mixing bowl and drizzled with olive oil. Added in the tomatoes, basil and feta, and stirred to incorporate all ingredients. Added 1 tsp salt, pepper to taste and remaining garlic powder.

I served this alongside a simple grilled chicken. Sydney also loved this, so she now has some waiting for her in her lunch bag. This is a great recipe to make a large batch of, and then save some to eat throughout the week. Its healthy, quick and packs a lot of flavor for very little effort.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My mom picked up the October Martha Stewart Living magazine for me the other day. I thumbed through all the cute project ideas for fall, and happened on a recipe towards the back. Beautiful acorn squash, stuffed with a mixture of bulgar wheat, ground beef, acorn squash and other hearty, yummy ingredients. Lo and behold, I had actually picked up an acorn squash at the store. I always love when gourds show up at the store, so I sometimes buy a few...and figure out what to do with them later. So I modified it a bit, but here's my version of Martha's stuffed acorn squash.

Stuffed Acorn Squash (for 2)

Here's what I used:

1 acorn squash
3/4 lb ground beef (calls for 90% lean, but I used what I had, 80/20)
1 cup quick-cook brown rice
1 3/4 cups water
1 medium onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp good olive oil
2 tsp salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

Here's what I did:

Set the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the acorn in half width-wise, and then cut a small amount off of each end so that when flipped over, they will sit flat. Turned upside down onto a baking sheet, and baked for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, heated oil in a stock pot, and added ground beef, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/2 of the salt. Browned, and then reserved ground beef on a plate, using slotted spoon to keep juices in the pot.

Then, I added the onion and allowed it to soften for about 5 minutes. Added in garlic, and let cook for another minute. Finally, I added the rest of the salt, the uncooked brown rice and the water, brought to a boil, and allowed to simmer for 25 minutes (or as directions for your rice state).

By the time the rice mixture is cooked, the squash should be ready to come out of the oven. I did not remove the seeds from the inside prior to cooking, so I used an ice cream scoop (think of it as a giant melon baller) and gently scooped out the seeds and discarded. Then I scooped out most of the inside of each squash (leaving about 1/16" so that the sides don't fall in). This creates our "bowl" for the squash/rice/meat mixture.

Now that the rice was done, I added the ground beef back in, as well as the squash. Mixed well to incorporate all ingredients and then piled them into each "squash bowl". Here's where I deviated. This recipe is pretty sweet, and we tend to go with more savory meals. I sprinkled some shaved parmesan on top.

Then I popped the stuffed squash back in the oven for another 10 minutes so that the cheese would melt, and the mixture would get a little browned on top.

On to reviews. The only complaint I heard, and it was prefaced with "this is not a complaint", was that this was too sweet. Nick went back and added more parmesan to get a little more salt into his mix. I really liked it as it was, very subtle, and a little sweet. And the cinnamon and nutmeg add a really festive, fall-like vibe to the meal. I also did not serve this with anything else. I think it would have been nice with maybe some grilled asparagus or brussel sprouts, but I just ran out of time. Also, having a toddler attached to both legs while I hobble around the kitchen to produce something "gourmet-like", repeatedly saying "Mommy UP! Mommy UP!" tends to wittle down the variety that I can cook up.

AMAZING Child's DIY Kitchen

Friday, September 18, 2009

Check this out. AMAZING. I wish I were this handy!!!

South Beach Turkey Chili

I really, really, really love my South Beach Cookbook. Everything I find in that book is delicious, gourmet-tasting (without gourmet effort) and above all, HEALTHY. This Chili recipe is no exception. Its one of my top 5 recipes from this book (I have it linked in my Favorite Cookbooks Widget on the right-hand panel). The weather yesterday, and today, has been overcast, chilly, misty and gloomy...perfect CHILI weather. By 10am yesterday I knew exactly what I would be making for dinner.

South Beach Turkey Chili

Here's what I used:

1 lb ground turkey (naturally low fat)
2 sweet onions (vidalia), chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tbsp good olive oil
15 oz can chopped tomatoes
2/3 can tomato paste
3 cups chicken broth (I used bullion, and added water)
1 can black beans (drained, rinsed)
1 can navy beans (drained, rinsed)
1 can dark kidney beans (drained, rinsed)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

2 tbsp sour cream
handful of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Here's what I did:

In large stock pot, I added the olive oil and then onions. Once the onions had softened (about 5 minutes) I added my garlic and turkey. I allowed the turkey to cook for about 8-10 minutes, and then added my bell pepper and spices. I allowed the bell pepper to cook for another few minutes and then added my canned tomatoes (with juice!), tomato paste and chicken broth. Stirred to fully incorporate and smooth out any lumps made by the tomato paste. Finally, I added all the beans.

Once all ingredients have been incorporated, check the seasoning. If you like more heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper. I used a little bit of Tony Chacheries, which is a cajun seasoning. If you can find some at your local market, pick it up...its hard to find where I live. We often have to order from

I allow the chili to simmer on low heat for about 20 or so minutes, this lets all the ingredients really meld together, and the sauce to thicken a bit.

Served in a large soup bowl, and topped with a small handful of cheddar cheese and sour cream (Disclaimer: This part is NOT SOUTH BEACH, and does add calories).

On to reviews: The hubbs really liked the chili. He added a touch of tabasco to his, but I left mine alone. He did say it was one of the best chili renditions I've done, and I think that's due to the fact that I allowed it to cook down for so long. It made the mixture much more rich and delicious. Can't wait for these leftovers. This recipe easily made enough for 6 people.

Mia's Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall is starting to appear. Crisp air in the morning and a chilly breeze remind me that the leaves will change soon, and sweater weather will be here in no time at all. With that comes heartier meals like stews, casseroles....mmmm...some of my very favorites. One of those is my grandmother's Chicken Enchiladas. I have been enjoying this recipe since I was a child...and now enjoy making it for my own family.

Mia's Chicken Enchiladas

Here's what I used:

1 package corn tortillas
3-4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 bag/block shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups chicken stock (I used bullion cubes and water)
1 can Rotel (spicy tomato/green chilis)
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick butter
2-3 tsp olive oil

Here's what I did:

First I prepared my chicken for a quick sear, by seasoning with S&P (both sides) and 1 tsp cumin. Then I added olive oil to a non-stick skillet and seared my chicken for 3 minutes per side on med-high heat. This adds a layer of flavor that boiling would not.

Meanwhile, I cut all corn tortillas into halves, and lined the bottom of a large glass casserole dish with the tortillas, I used about 8 tortillas, halved, to cover the bottom of the dish.

Once the chicken was seared, I removed them to a plate to rest. Added the butter to the same skillet that the chicken was in, and added my diced onions and minced garlic. I allowed them to soften, cooking about 8 minutes. Once translucent, I added my chicken stock, Rotel (juice too!), cumin and cream of chicken soup, stirring to remove any lumps. I allowed this mixture to cook down on high heat for about 20-25 minutes. You want to achieve a silky, gravy-like texture prior to adding to casserole dish. At the very end, once texture looked good, I added my chicken (chopped/torn into 1"ish pieces) into the mixture.

Now it was time to assemble the enchiladas. I added 1/3 of my chicken/sauce mixture to the casserole dish, and then topped with 1/3 of the shredded cheese. Then I laid another layer of halved corn tortillas, another 1/3 of the chicken/sauce, and then an other 1/3 of cheese. Finally, I added the third layer of corn tortillas, the remaining chicken/sauce and topped with cheese.

Cooked at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly and slightly browned on top.

The hubbs and my dad both agreed that this was my best rendition of this family classic. I attribute it to the use of the Rotel (the original recipe only calls for a small can of green chilis, but I used a large can of tomatoes/chilis instead) and the cayenne. This dish had a great Kick, and I can't wait to enjoy it a second time for lunch - I'm sure it will taste even better!!

Crispy Roasted Chicken with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Cauliflower

Monday, September 14, 2009

The name of the game Friday night was Roasted. I received my October issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and did a quick search for a recipe that would jive with the bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts that I had. Luckily for me, there was a recipe that fit, and lo and behold the fingerling potatoes that I'd bought were also part of the pairing. What are the chances?? I modified it a bit as I didn't have a whole chicken as the recipe calls for, and thus was missing the gizzard and neck (for making a gravy), so this is more of an omage to the recipe than an actual "copy".

Crispy Roasted Chicken

Here's what I used:

3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
3-4 tbsp good olive oil
One lemon, sliced into 6 rounds

Here's what I did:

Preheated oven to 400 degrees F. Arranged one rack in the center of the oven, and one rack at the very bottom (for my vegetables - recipe below). Generously S&P the chicken breast and drizzle with olive oil, ensure breasts are evenly coated with oil. Lay 2 lemon slices over each chicken breast. These cooked for about 25-30 minutes. I used a meat thermometer to make sure they were at safe poultry temp, and not dry. The minute they hit 165 I pulled them out.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Cauliflower

Here's what I used:

1 bag fingerling potatoes, chopped into 1/2" rounds
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into small flourettes (about 1" pieces)
4-5 tbsp good olive oil

This is so easy... Prepare a cookie sheet with foil or other nonstick coating/cover (I wish I had done this, I lost a lot of crispiness off the potatoes that stuck to the bottom of my cookie sheet. Waaaah!!). In a bowl, coat vegetables in olive oil and sprinkle generously with S&P. Lay out in single layer on cookie sheet. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, turning once or twice throughout to ensure crispiness on all sides of vegetables. Potatoes should have crispy outer coating.

Since these two parts can cook together in the same oven, same temperature...its a great recipe to sort of "set and forget". You're not having to make a sauce while watching a timer, etc. The chicken was perfectly cooked, JUST right. You can really taste the lemon on the skin as well, subtle but delicious.

Whole Wheat Penne Pesto with Artichokes and Toasted Pine Nuts

Friday, September 11, 2009

Last night my dad hosted a family dinner to bid my sister farewell. She is on her way to Austin, TX right now to start her 4 years at AOMA for Accupuncture. We already miss her terribly, especially Sydney. I'm sure she'll be asking for "Aaaanti" tonight. :(

So in honor of Aaaanti and her own recipe, I give you...

Whole Wheat Penne Pesto with Artichokes and Toasted Pine Nuts

Here's what we used:

2 packages Whole Wheat Penne
2 packages basil pesto
1 package (~1/2 cup) raw pine nuts
1 container (~1 1/2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium jars artichoke hearts, quartered

Here's what we did:

Set water with salt to boil on stovetop in large stock pot. Meanwhile, toasted pine nuts in sauce pan on med-high heat for about 15 minutes (until golden brown and fragrant). Set aside pine nuts. Boiled penne until tender, drained and added back to stock pot. Heated pesto, tomatoes and artichokes until simmering, and added into stock pot with penne pasta. Stirred well to incorporate sauce and then added in pine nuts.

This was a large group, so this recipe easily served 8 people with leftovers. This would have also been really good with some shaved or shredded parmesan cheese. Yumm!!

Vacation is over...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We got back from Texas Tuesday afternoon. We've been "recovering" ever since. Tuesday night we just ordered pizza, and since I haven't had time to plan menu's or shop yet - Nick brought home Greek Salads last night. Yummy.

I promise to be up and running again soon... Shop. Plan. Laundry. Work. Sydney. Just super busy!

Salmon Chermoula with Nutty Brown Rice

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I discovered "Chermoula" in my South Beach Cookbook. Its a primarily Moroccan marinade, but if I didn't know better, I would say mexican or southwest due to the cilantro. If you love cilantro, you'll DIE when you try this sauce. (***If you HATE cilantro, you can make this same recipe with Parsley instead). You can pair it with any fish, though the recipe suggests Sea Bass, Trout or Salmon. I also make extra (double the chermoula recipe below) so I can dip my starch in it. Its zesty, tangy, zippy and YUM!

The nutty brown rice is also a South Beach Cookbook recipe, Phase 2. Toasted almonds, onion and brown rice. Seriously, what else could you ask for?? And guiltless carbs? Be still my belly!

Salmon Chermoula

Here's what I used:

2 6 oz salmon filets

1 bunch fresh cilantro (stems and leaves)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
4 cloves (peeled) garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 cup olive oil

Here's what I did:

Preheated oven to 450 F. Rinsed and patted salmon filets dry. Sprinkled both filets (both sides) with S&P and set aside. Set aside. In a food processor (or blender - both work fine) add cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and red pepper flake. Begin to pulse mixture, and slowly add olive oil until the ingredients bind into a liquid. Continue until chermoula reaches consistency of a thick salad dressing. It smells FANTASTIC. I think I could wear it as a perfume. I digress....

Place small amount of chermoula in bottom of a glass baking dish, and add salmon on top, skinside down. Cover salmon with remaining chermoula.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until fish is opaque and tender.


Nutty Brown Rice

Here's what I used:

3/4 cup slivered almonds
2 cups med-grain brown rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp dried onion flakes
2 tsp butter

Here's what I did:

Heated oven (you could also use a toaster oven) to 350 F and toasted almonds for 5 minutes. Brought chicken broth, onion flakes, butter and S&P to a boil in a medium stock pot, and added brown rice. Reduced heat to a simmer and cooked 50 minutes (check instructions for your rice, cook times can vary due to grain types). Once cooked, added in toasted almonds and served immediately.

***The original recipe called for sauteed onions and quick-cook brown rice. So I cheated on the onions, but opted for better rice. You can easily substitute those two out.

On to the reviews. I discovered the Chermoula recipe a few weeks ago, and it was a major hit then...and its still one now. We mixed it up this time by placing the salmon on a soaked cedar plank and putting it on the grill. I like it either way. The nutty brown rice was also very good, and the quantity that I posted above could really feed 6 easily. I'm having some for lunch today, as a matter of fact.

Chicken Chevre with Creamy Basil Polenta

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This chicken recipe is soooo SIMPLE. It packs a gourmet punch without the effort or skill required. Sounds perfect to me. Also, I have never tried to make my own polenta, but its so inexpensive (corn meal and chicken stock, basically) and a very yummy, different starch to serve. It only takes about 15 minutes to make, too!

The original Barefoot Contessa recipe requires skin-on chicken breasts (which is the BETTER way to do this), but another way to do it, is to cut, lengthwise, into the top 1/3 of the chicken breast (skinless) and stuff it that way, being sure to smooth the flap back over the stuffing when finished and before oven time.

Chicken w/ Herbed Goat Cheese & Basil

Here's what I used:

3 skinless chicken breasts
4 oz Herbed Goat Cheese (Chevre, en francaise)
6 large, fresh basil leaves
3-4 tbsp good olive oil

Here's what I did:

Preheated oven to 375 F. Cut 1/3 lengthwise slit into chicken breasts to create a pocket for my stuffing. Seasoned entire chicken breast with S&P. Sliced the Chevre (cheese) into 6 or so pieces, and laid them inside pocket, followed by 2 basil leaves each. Smoothed top flap of chicken back over top of stuffing. Drizzled generously with olive oil. Let bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

ALTERNATIVELY:  Carefully separate three sides of the skin off of a bone-in, skin-on breast, and place cheese and basil leaves underneath.  Replace skin overtop the cheese and basil, and season.  Amazing.


Creamy Basil Polenta

Here's what I used:

1 cup cornmeal
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
1 tbsp julienned basil (roll into cigar shape, and cut widthwise)

Here's what I did:

Brought chicken stock and garlic to a boil in large nonstick stockpot. Once boiling, brought down to med/low heat, and slowly added cornmeal, whisking constantly to break up lumps. I then turned my flame down to low, and stirred constantly for 7 minutes. If you leave it, the polenta will burn/stick to bottom of pot, so you really have to watch it. Then, with a spatula, I mixed in the parmesan, cream cheese, basil and S&P.

I served the polenta immediately. Its not something that you can easily reheat, so make sure you time it towards the end of your meal preparation, and once your protein is nearly done. I added a large dollop to each plate, and then set my chicken breasts on top. I think this also would have been great with some sort of drizzle, so I might try that next time.

For reviews, my husband liked the chicken, as always. It is a meal favorite of ours. On the polenta, I don't think he's ever had it before. He did say it was a lot like mashed potatoes, but could have used a bit of a kick. I suppose I could add red pepper flake or maybe a touch more black pepper next time. I have no review from Sydney, due to the fact that she passed out cold at 6pm...about 20 minutes after we arrived home. I'm guessing growth spurt or missed 2nd nap. We missed her last night.

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