Friday, November 8, 2013

Artichoke and Pesto Grilled Cheese

I just had the best grilled cheese sandwich. Melted muenster cheese, topped with artichokes, and homemade pesto...yum! 
Homemade pesto is so easy too. It's the perfect way of using leftover herbs. The basic things you need are usually some kind of nuts, herbs, and olive oil. Other optional additions can include Parmesan, lime, spices, etc. 
For today's pesto, I grounded 1/4 cup of pistachio, bunch of parsley leaves, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper in a mini food processor. I also decided to mix in a tablespoon of grated Parmesan. The parsley and garlic made the pesto so flavorful, and the pistachio really added texture to it. 
I spread a generous portion of pesto on two slices of whole grain bread. Then topped one side with three slices of muenster cheese. Yes, three. They were thin slices. Plus what's a good grilled cheese sandwich without the cheese, right?
On the other slice of bread I topped it with artichoke hearts from the salad bar. Okay, I must confess. I'm addicted to these little artichokes from the Kroger salad bar. I have seriously bought $10 worth before, just for snacking. 
These artichoke hearts are so much better than the jarred. It's fresher and tangier, which really adds a nice bite along with the pesto. 
Arranged the sandwich together and grilled it in a buttered skillet over medium heat. Be patient in letting it melt together. It'll be worth it. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Roasted Sweet Potato and Sprout

Now don't turn away when you see that brussel sprouts are in here! I think these little guys get a bad reputation. My friend, who doesn't like brussel sprouts, decided to give them a try when we were out at dinner one day. I tried one and told her no wonder they get a bad rep! It was barely cooked nor seasoned. 
My favorite way to have brussel sprouts is roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper, until fork-tender. For this dish, I also threw in some sweet potato and tomatoes we had in the fridge. All the colors were beautiful together. It made a nice presentation. I was thinking it could even be a great veggie dish for Thanksgiving!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Sprouts
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 bag of brussel sprouts, halved
1 c grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 c fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 roasted garlic cloves, chopped 
4 slices of bacon, sliced 
Salt and pepper (about 1 tsp)
Olive oil (about a qtr to half a cup)
2 tbsp butter, cut into small pats

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large casserole dish, add the potatoes, sprouts, tomatoes, bacon, oregano, thyme, and garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Top with the butter and roast in the oven for about 30-45 mins, until it's fork-tender. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Chicken Piccata

I don't know why people complain about how cooking a good meal takes too much time out of their schedule. Or requires too much planning for the ingredients. I whipped up this dish in less than 15 mins, including prepping, and with ingredients I had leftover in the fridge! This chicken dish had a bit of tang from the wine and capers, and subtle sweetness from the honey butter. They complimented and balanced each other so well. It reminded me of a chicken piccata dish so I guess you can say this is an adaptation. 

Chicken Piccata

Ingredients approx.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 c white wine
2 oz caper brine
1/2 tsp capers
1 lg garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp dried oregano 
1 tsp honey butter
Salt and pepper
Flour for dusting 
Olive oil

Place one chicken breast between a piece of Saran Wrap. With a meat mallet (the prickly side) pound the chicken breast out until it's about 1/2 inch thin. Repeat with the other chicken breast. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Then coat in flour and shake of any excess. 
Add oil to a deep skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken breast about 3-4 mins per side. When done cooking, let rest on a plate. 
To make the sauce, deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the capers, brine, garlic, and oregano. Then melt in the butter. Cook for a few mins until slightly reduced. Serve the sauce over the chicken. Enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Honeyed Citrus Vinegrette

Have you ever bought something for a recipe and never have to use it again? Of course we all have. Orange extract was one of those culprits in our pantry. We actually didn't even end up using it! Well I decided to open that little bottle up and incorporate it into a last-minute salad dressing. It turned out surprisingly well - so light and refreshing. I encourage you to give that extract bottle a chance outside of baking!

Honeyed Citrus Vinegrette

1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 c olive oil
1-2 tsp honey
3 sprig thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste 

Whisk everything together. Taste and adjust the flavors to your liking. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Healthier Caesar Salad

If you're looking for a salad without all the oil, but still full of flavor, try this salad! I took some spring mix salad, added a couple of chopped anchovies, capers, parmesan, croutons, and a poached egg. The salad was quite tasty!
I had ran out of olive oil to make caesar dressing. So that's why I decided to try adding a poached egg instead of having plain lettuce with anchovies. I guess you can say this is a deconstructed caesar salad?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Creole Fettuccine

This pasta dish is like having a taste of New Orleans in the comfort of your home. It's creamy and full of that Cajun flavor you're looking for.

Creole Fettuccine

1 lb cooked shrimp, peeled
1/2 tbsp Creole seasoning
Salt and pepper

1. Pat the shrimp dry, season shrimp, set aside.

1 egg
1 pint heavy cream

2. Mix with a fork until combined, set aside.

Olive oil
1 garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 tbsp Creole seasoning
1 c Parmesan, shredded
1 lb cooked fettuccine
1/4 basil, julienned
2 scallions, chopped

3. Add olive oil to a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook until tender. Add the creole seasoning. Add the seasoned shrimp prepared earlier. Cook for a couple of mins. Then slowly add in the cream mixture prepared earlier. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until slightly thickened. Mix in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in the cooked fettuccine. Finish with the scallions and basil.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chipotle Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes

Creamy, cheesy, spicy scalloped potatoes. It was delicious!!

Chipotle Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes

3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 c whole milk
1 c half n half
1/2 c Mexican Crema
2 c smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c Cotswold cheese, shredded
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
5 large russett potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 garlic clove
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Then rub with a garlic clove.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for a couple mins. Whisk in the milk, half n half, and crema. Bring to a slight simmer. Then add in 1 c of each cheese a little at a time and the chipotle. Salt to taste. When the cheese is melted, mix in the potatoes. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-40 mins. Sprinkle the remaining 1 c cheddar and chives over the potatoes and bake for another 5 mins.

Crispy Chicken Tenders

Quick and easy crispy chicken tenders:

10 chicken breast tenders
Dried Oregano
Dried Thyme
1 large Egg, beaten
1/4 c Black pepper parmesan

Heat oil in a deep fryer.
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper the chicken. Season with oregano and thyme. Set up your breading station: add some flour to one bowl, the beaten egg to another, and the panko, parmesan and pinch of salt to the third bowl. Coat a chicken tender in the flour, then dip in the egg, then coat in the seasoned bread crumbs. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Fry until golden brown.

Twice Baked Leek Potato

Oh, this is not your ordinary twice baked or stuffed potato. This side dish could even serve on its own as a main dish. The idea for this came from a steak dinner Matt prepared. He grilled up some steak with this leek cream sauce served over it. There was a surprise in that sauce though. Whiskey! I thought this cream sauce would dress up a baked potato very nicely. And it did...

Twice Baked Leek Potato

6 russet potatoes
8 slices bacon
2 leeks, chopped
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c cream
1/4 c whiskey
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp chives, chopped
3 tbsp grated asiago cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce the potatoes in some spots with a fork. Rub some olive oil, salt and pepper on the outside of the potatoes. Bake directly on the middle oven rack for about an hr or until fork tender.

In a deep skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Set the cooked bacon aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the leeks to the bacon dripping and saute until tender, about 5-10 mins. Set aside until ready to use.

In a small saucepan, simmer the chicken broth, cream, whiskey, and bay leaf. Keep it warm on low heat until you're ready to use.

When the potatoes are done, remove potatoes from the oven, and turn the heat down to 375 degrees F.
Hold the potato with an oven mitt, trim off the top of the potatoes to make a canoe-like shape. Carefully scoop out most of the potato flesh into a bowl. Take care to leave enough potato in the skin so the shells stay together.

Mash the potato flesh with the sauce (discarding the bay leaf). Crumble in the bacon. Stir in the leeks, butter, parsley, and chives. Salt and pepper to taste. Refill the shells with the potato mixture mounding it slightly. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the potato filling. Bake for about 10 mins, or until warmed.

Pumpkin Icebox Cake

I've got a backlog of posts that you're about to get. This dessert was obviously made back in the Fall. I know, ages ago! But who says you can't enjoy pumpkin outside of the Fall season?

Pumpkin Icebox Cake

4 Graham cracker sheets
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/4 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c pumpkin purée
1/2 c cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract

Crush the graham crackers and mix with the melted butter. Split the mixture among 6 cupcake molds, pressing it to the bottom of the cupcake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 mins. When the graham cracker crust is done baking, set aside to cool.
Whip the cream, sugar, pumpkin, cream cheese, and vanilla together. Pour the filling into each of the cupcake molds. Freeze for about an hr or overnight. When ready to eat, just run a knife around the outside of the cake to loosen it out.

*Note, this recipe is lighter on the pumpkin flavor than I would like. I didn't have anymore puree sitting in the fridge though! So feel free to adjust to your liking.

Roasted Artichoke with Herb Yogurt Dip

This yogurt dip was delicious! I couldn't get enough of it. Very light, refreshing and better for you than most dips!

Roasted Artichoke with Herb Yogurt Dip

1 12 oz bag frozen artichoke hearts
1/2 c nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c sour cream
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp chives, chopped
2 tsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the artichoke with some salt, pepper, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 30-40 mins.
Meanwhile, mix the yogurt, sour cream, thyme, chives, parsley, and garlic powder together. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to eat. Serve with the roasted artichoke hearts.