Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mussels, Barefoot Style

Tonight's dinner was a bowlful of yummy Mussels in White Wine. The process started by cooking some shallots in a combination of olive oil and butter. Once they were starting to soften some garlic went in for a few more minutes. Some tomatoes, saffron, parsley, thyme, wine, salt and pepper were added to the pot and brought to a boil.

Finally the mussels were added, the pot covered and cooked over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes until all the mussels were open. The whole mixture went into a bowl and we dug in. A few slices of a whole wheat baguette to soak up the broth was delish!

We had a simple green salad with a Creamy Vinaigrette.

Both of these recipes were from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa show.

Mona and Gerry agree:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slow Cooker Squash Stew

This stew was started by cooking onion and garlic in a skillet until soft and golden brown. Some tomato paste and red pepper flakes were added and cooked for another minute. The pan was deglazed with some water and then everything went in to the crock pot along with some chickpeas, butternut squash, swiss chard stems, a piece of Parmesan cheese rind, salt and lots more water. This mixture was covered and cooked on low for 8 hours.

Just before serving, the chopped swiss chard leaves were added and cooked for 10 more minutes. The bowls of this stew were sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

This was from the October issue of the Food Network magazine and we will look forward to making it again.

Fall Days

I love it when the weather starts to cool and I start thinking about cooking things that are cooked long and slow. I made Julia's Potage Parmentier (Leek and Potato Soup) for lunch. It is such a simple soup of potatoes, leeks, water and salt, cooked until everything is very tender. I took the immersion blender to the pot to puree the mixture. I then added a little bit of heavy cream to smooth it out, and garnished with minced parsley. Simplicity itself!

Dinner was Osso Bucco over Polenta from Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen Cookbook. Some veal shanks get a coating of seasoned flour before being browned in olive oil. The shanks were removed and in went onion, celery, carrots, some strips of lemon peel, garlic, bay leaves and parsley to get nice and brown. Once browned and tender, the shanks went back in along with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon which was allowed to cook down until reduced by half. Some beef broth and a can of tomatoes were added and the pot was covered and put into a 375 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. The cover was removed and allowed to cook for another 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile the polenta was started by warming some chicken stock with salt. Once boiling, the cornmeal was whisked in slowly and simmered while whisking for about 20 minutes. Some milk and butter went in and stirred through to warm. Off heat, I folded in some Parmigiano cheese and black pepper. This was the perfect bed for the Osso Bucco.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fish and Chicken

Tonight's menu was a combination of two totally different techniques for grilling. Gerry has been wanting to smoke some fish on the charcoal grill now that we have it, so we tried smoking some trout for Smoked Trout Bruschetta. The process starts by soaking some cedar planks in water for an hour before use. The trout are rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper both inside and out. Some thinly sliced lemon and dill sprigs go into the middle of the fish before it goes on to the heated smoking cedar planks. The trout are cooked until the flesh is opaque and begins to flake, about 15 minutes.
When the fish is cool enough to handle, the skin is removed and the fish is broken into pieces before being added to diced fresh tomatoes, and drizzled with fresh lemon juice and a little olive oil. This is garnished with a little chopped, fresh dill.

This trout, tomato mixture goes on top of slices of bag
uette that were brushed with olive oil and grilled until golden.

The smoke flavor on the fish was perfect - definitely smoky, but not overwhelming. Gerry can't wait to smoke some fish again for the girls.

The entree for dinner was Beer Marinated Chicken Tacos. A marinade was made with some dark Mexican beer, toasted sesame oil, chopped garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Some boneless, skinless, chicken thighs went into the marinade for a couple of hours. The chicken was then removed from the marinade and put on the grill to cook. Once done, the chicken was sliced and put into warmed tortillas and topped with homemade guacamole. The guacamole was simply made with ripe avocado, fresh lime juice, and kosher salt.

Seared Scallops with Crispy Leeks

Gerry's choice for Friday night was a scallop dish which was really good. Leeks were very thinly sliced, washed, dried, and then tossed with some olive oil. Flour, paprika, garlic powder and salt were sprinkled over the leeks and tossed well to combine. These went on to a baking sheet into a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden and crispy.

Meanwhile the scallop were sprinkled with a mixture of garlic powder, salt, Italian seasoning, lemon zest and pepper and seared in a little olive oil until golden brown on each side.

This was served with mashed potatoes and sauteed kale with garlic.


Good for You Burgers

Thursday night's dinner was Stuffed Turkey Burgers which is an Ellie Krieger recipe that we go to frequently. You take some ground turkey meat and divide it into 8 equal parts. Onto four of these patties, you make an indentation in the middle and add some chopped roasted red peppers and shredded mozzarella cheese; top with another patty and seal the edges to keep the filling inside. Season with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through about 5 minutes per side. We served these on whole wheat buns, along with a tossed salad. Yum! A nice way to satisfy the craving for a burger!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fettucine Alfredo

Tonight's dinner is one of those meals that you know is not good for you, but you've just got to have it a couple of times a year. I try to use whole wheat pasta most of the time, but when I'm making fettucine alfredo with the cream, butter, and cheese, I figure why bother?

This is really a super easy dish to pull together. You start by cooking the fettucine in the traditional way and meanwhile start the sauce by heating butter and whipping cream in a saucepan, stirring constantly until the butter is melted. Then some Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper are stirred in. When the pasta is done, it is combined with the Alfredo sauce and garnished with some chopped fresh parsley.

The side dish for tonight was a tossed salad with the Best Salad Dressing in the World.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chili-Rubbed Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes

This dinner started by combining chili powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper to make the rub that went on both sides of the pork chops. The pork chops were sauteed in some olive oil until done and transferred to a plate to rest.

In a little of the drippings left in the saute pan, some diced fresh pineapple went in to just soften and warm through. A little sugar was stirred in to coat the pineapple and then off heat, in went some scallions, lime juice and salt. This warm pineapple relish went over the pork chops.

The side dish for this was sweet potatoes that were boiled and then mashed. Once mashed, some honey, lime juice, diced jalapenos, and salt were folded in. This was garnished with some plain yogurt.

Again a really nice combination of flavors with the chili on the pork chops, the pineapple relish and the sweet and smooth mashed sweet potatoes.

A definite keeper!

Another Meatless Monday

Gerry made us a Vegetable Paella with mushrooms and chickpeas. This dinner started by infusing some vegetable broth with a bay leaf and some saffron.

Meanwhile onion, red bell pepper and olives were sauteed until done. Fresh mushroom and garlic went in for a few minutes of sauteing before the rice was added and sauteed for another minute.

The saute pan was deglazed with a little white wine and allowed to reduce before the seasoned broth went in along with fresh diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts and paprika. This whole mixture was brought to a boil, reduced to low, covered and simmered for about 25 minutes until the rice was tender. The last thing to go in was green peas, chickpeas, and green beans until heated through.

The paella was garnished with parsley, parika and lemon wedges.

The side dish to this was an Arugula-Citrus Salad. A dressing was made with fresh lemon juice, honey, olive oil, shallots, and, of course, salt and pepper. Arugula, fresh orange segments and toasted almonds were tossed in the dressing.

This was a very satisfying meal and the combination of the paella and salad went together beautifully.

Family Fav

Sunday night we made the Lisee family fav - Salmon with the Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze, Oven Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus. This will always be a family favorite which we go to again and again.

This meals gets

Turkey Pozole

On Saturday, I made a very thick Mexican soup. The soup was started by sweating chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, tortilla pieces, dried ancho chilies (which were stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces), some tomato paste, chili powder, ground cumin and dried oregano for about 5 minutes. Some chicken broth was added and simmered for about 10 minutes. The soup was then pureed in batches until smooth and put back on the heat to stay warm.

Some ground turkey breast was sauteed with more cumin and oregano, breaking it into chunks as it browned. The turkey then got a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

The browned turkey was added to the soup base along with a can of hominy.

Bowls of soup were garnished with queso fresco, a wonderful salty, Mexican fresh cheese, along with some chopped avocado and a sprinkling of cilantro.

An absolutely wonderful soup!!

I gave this soup

Stuffed Squash with Sausage and Kale

Sorry I haven't been posting regularly, I'll try to stay on track. On Tuesday night, I made myself Stuffed Squash with Sausage and Kale. I started by roasting a butternut squash that I cut in half for 45 minutes as the recipe stated.

While the squash was roasting, I toasted some fresh breadcrumbs in a skillet in olive oil until crisp and brown. Off heat, I added some parsley, lemon zest, salt and red pepper flakes. These went in a bowl to be used as a topping later.

I moved on to the filling by sauteing some turkey Italian sausage, breaking it up until beginning to brown before adding some shallots and garlic. I deglazed the pan with a little white wine and then stirred in some halved cherry tomatoes, chopped apple and fresh sage. After a few minutes some chopped kale and garbanzo beans went in and cooked until the kale started to wilt. Lastly a little bit of diced white Cheddar cheese was stirred in.

The filling was spooned onto the roasted butternut squash half and then sprinkled with the bread crumb topping.

This dish was very good, but I must have picked an extremely hard butternut squash. My squash was not cooked as much as I would have liked it to be. I will definitely make this dish again, but pay very close attention to the squash.

My rating

Monday, September 13, 2010

Creamy Pesto Penne

In keeping with the Meatless Monday tradition, tonight's dinner was Creamy Pesto Penne with Vinegary Tomatoes. Some whole wheat penne was cooked following package directions. While the pasta was cooking, I started the pesto in my food processor by processing some spinach, basil, plain yogurt, Parmesan cheese, a little olive oil and toasted walnuts until smooth. I added salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Once the pasta was done, it was tossed with the pesto and then a roasted red bell pepper, sliced, was added along with some kalamata olives. The recipe called for some chicken breast strips, but I substituted some cubed mozzarella cubes.

All of this was topped with Vinegary Tomatoes, which were simply some cut up red and yellow tomatoes combined with some white wine vinegar and salt.

This turned out to be a delicious and healthy dinner!

I gave this entree

Sunday, September 12, 2010

To Cook, or Not to Cook?

With Gerry in Hawaii for the week, I was faced with the dilemma of cooking or eating out for most of my meals. I decided to allow a couple of meals out and planned my menu for the week. Tonight was certainly a four star, restaurant quality meal. I had Filet Mignon with Port Sauce, Cranberries and Blue Cheese with a side of Dijon Snow Peas.

A beef tenderloin filet was seared in a skillet on both sides, removed and tented with foil to stay warm and rest. In the same skillet, some shallots and cranberries were sauteed and deglazed with port and a little beef broth. The port and broth were allowed to reduce by a third, before some Worcestershire, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard went in to simmer for another minute.

The filet was plated and drizzled with the sauce before having blue cheese crumbled over it. This was a truly spectacular dish.

The beef was accompanied with snow peas that were blanched for a minute and drained. They then went into a saute pan in a little butter, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper for about a minute to warm through.

I can't wait to make this again!

Mona's rating:

Indian Food

With Gerry out of town, I decided to try a new Indian restaurant. We had a local favorite little Indian restaurant that went out of business a couple of months ago, and a new Indian restaurant opened in the same place shortly after. I decided to try it out, and it was just as good as the previous one. Not much has changed, even the paintings on the wall are the same. The menu has a few new choices on it, but I decided to order what I would have at the old one, for a fair comparison.

I started with an order on Samosa, which were identical to the ones I used to get even with the green chutney and tamarind chutney. Yummy. I always order my favorite, Chicken Tikka Masala and this too was identical even to the point of being able to order it with medium spice (I'll try to go a little spicier next time). I added an order of Naan bread, simply because I love it and it did not disappoint. I ate almost half of my food and had plenty for a leftover lunch.

A definite 4 star restaurant for me once again, even if under a different name.

Pulled Pork Again

On Friday night, I simply had another sandwich with the Pulled Pork. Just as good reheated as it was the first night.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Thursday night we had Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Indian-style. This was a recent episode on Aarti Party. A boneless pork shoulder was rubbed with a mixture of brown sugar, paprika and kosher salt. The barbecue sauce was then started by tempering cumin and fennel seeds in oil before adding onions, ginger and serrano pepper with salt to taste and cooking long enough to soften. Some mango puree, fresh lime juice, cider vinegar, molasses and worcestershire sauce were added and simmered briefly before the pork shoulder went in. The hunk of meat was simmered, covered for 3 hours, turning periodically, until tender. After three hours, the pork was removed and shredded with forks, before going back into the sauce to warm through again.

The saucy meat was served on soft white buns, topped with bread and butter pickles. Absolutely delicious!!!

Canadian Meat Pie

On Wednesday night, Gerry decided to use up the leftover rib roast from Saturday by putting it into a meat pie. Yes, it is like it sounds; a pie filled with ground up meat. It was okay, but not my favorite. His pie crust has become quite good, but the filling was a little bland; just some ground up meat with a few sauteed vegetables with some ground cloves. I ate my slice, but was glad when I was done. The traditional meat pie has never been my favorite.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sloppy Bombay Joes

We love all things associated with the Food Network, including the Next Food Network Star show. The most recent series was won by Aarti Sequeira and she had my vote early on from many of the contestants. Her show is called Aarti Party and tonight's menu was from her first show. Her twist is to take her Indian background and apply it to everyday American food. We had Sloppy Bombay Joes and Massaged Kale Salad.

The sloppy Joes started with a sauce made by sauteing ginger, garlic and serrano pepper in a little oil and then adding garam masala, and paprika and stirring until fragrant. A can of tomato sauce and some water went in and simmered until thickened.

The meat mixture was started by toasting some pistachios in some oil in a large skillet along with some raisins which needed to plump up. Pistachios and raisins were removed and cumin seeds were added and allowed to sizzle. Once they were done sizzling, some chopped onions and red bell pepper were added to soften and brown. Some more serrano pepper went in along with some salt before adding ground turkey which was cooked until nicely browned. The sauce joined the ground turkey and allowed to cook and thicken a little more. Finally some honey, half-and-half and the pistachios and raisins went in.

We served this, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro over whole wheat hamburger buns. Very interesting flavors.

We had a Massaged Kale Salad along with the sloppy Joes, which was a fascinating process. A bunch of kale was thinly sliced (almost shredded) and put in a serving bowl. The juice of half a lemon went over along with a drizzle of olive oil and a little kosher salt. The kale was then massaged with my hands until the kale started to soften and wilt and it did. The very happy, massaged kale was set aside while the dressing was made. The dressing was more fresh lemon juice, honey and freshly ground black pepper, whisked together before streaming in olive oil to make a vinaigrette. The dressing was tossed with the kale along with a diced mango and toasted pumpkin seeds! A delicious and healthy salad!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Best Breast Ever

Duck breast that is; Crispy Duck with Orange-Ginger Glaze. We bought 2 duck breasts in the frozen meat section at Whole Food Market yesterday and let them thaw out in the refrigerator overnight. This afternoon we made a marinade of orange juice concentrate, hoisin sauce, cider vinegar, grated ginger, sesame oil, garlic, salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce and put the 2 duck breasts in to marinate for a couple of hours.

The breasts were removed from the marinade and put skin-side down over charcoal of course until browned and crispy before being flipped over to finish cooking on the other side.

These crispy duck breasts were served with garlic mashed potatoes and oven roasted broccoli.

Mona and Gerry agree

Sea Bass

Last night for dinner we had Sea Bass with Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette. Preparation started by roasting a red, yellow and orange bell pepper. They were then peeled and went into a vinaigrette made from olive oil, orange juice, chopped Italian parsley, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper and Tabasco Sauce.

The sea bass fillets were given a simple treatment of olive oil, salt and pepper before being grilled. I served this with a fried rice medley - I used leftover cooked rice which I warmed in a little olive oil flavored with a little garlic. I then added some of the grilled peppers, and leftover grilled onions from the pizza lunch, all chopped up, with some salt and pepper for seasoning. The rice was okay...I was really just wanting to use bits of leftovers.

The fish and vinaigrette were very good!

We ended our meal with Pineapple Skewers with Brown Butter and Orange Juice Glaze. The glaze was made in a saucepan by melting butter and cooking until it begins to turn brown, before adding brown sugar. Orange juice was stirred in along with some salt, pepper, and ground cloves. This was allowed to cook until reduced and syrupy. The syrup was removed from the heat before some fresh lemon juice went in to loosen up the sauce and the whole mixture went into a bowl to cool down. Meanwhile a fresh pineapple was cut into chunks and were tossed in the cooled sauce before going on skewers to be grilled. These were absolutely fabulous, the fresh pineapple with the sweet glaze with just a hint of the cloves just slightly confused our taste buds. I know we will be making this again!

Italian Cream Cake

For dessert on Saturday night's prime rib dinner, we had an Italian Cream Cake - 3 layers of flaky white cake layered with a luscious cream cheese frosting. The cake batter started with 5 eggs, separated. The whites were beaten until stiff and set aside. Another bowl had butter, oil, and sugar beaten until light and fluffy and then the egg yolks, some vanilla and shredded coconut were mixed in. We added flour, baking soda and baking powder alternately with buttermilk until everything was combined. Then the beaten egg whites were folded in. The batter went into 3 prepared pans and then each one was sprinkled with turbinado sugar before going into the oven.

Once baked and cooled, the cakes were frosted. The frosting was made with two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, vanilla and 2 pounds of powdered sugar which were beaten until light and fluffy. Another cup of shredded coconut went into the frosting before going on and in between the layers of the cake.

This cake is fabulous and the coconut in it is delicious, not overwhelming. Can't wait for an occasion to make it again.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Prime Rib over Charcoal

We thought we would go back to an old favorite by making Prime Rib for dinner. We bought a standing Rib Roast and made a rub from garlic, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. This was lovingly rubbed all over the top and sides of the rib roast before putting it on the grill over charcoal for 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile I made a Garlic and Blue Cheese Dressing by cooking some heavy cream with sliced garlic until reduced and thickened. Once the cream was thick enough, blue cheese was added and stirred to melt.

We served this big piece of meat with baked potatoes and creamed spinach. The creamed spinach was from an Anne Burrell (Secrets of a Restaurant Chef) episode that I had recently watched. It was good, but not spectacular.

Mona's overall rating for the entree

Prime Weekend for Grilling

We decided that the whole weekend would be an adventure in grilling. We kicked off the weekend by making homemade pizza for lunch. We started with the pizza dough, making a double batch, some was grilled and some was baked in the oven for a comparison taste testing.

While the pizza dough was rising, the sauce was started by cooking onions in olive oil until softened before adding garlic and oregano. A large can of tomatoes was added, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and simmered for 40 to 45 minutes until thickened.

Red onions were thickly sliced, drizzled with olive oil and grilled until tender.

After the rising of the dough, it was divided in 4 pieces and rolled out on oiled parchment paper. The top was oiled before being put on the grill and then the parchment paper was peeled off. Once done, the pizza dough was flipped over to brown on the other side. The grilled crusts were brought in to be topped with the sauce, the grilled onions, some slice nicoise olives, and fresh mozzarella cheese broken into chunks. These went back on the grill for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

These grilled pizzas were fabulous.

With the other half of the dough, we divided it in half and rolled it out to make a bigger pizza. It was topped with some of the homemade sauce, sliced pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, and shredded Parmesan before going into a 400 degree oven. I rolled out the dough on the underside of a pizza pan, thinking I would be able to slide it on to the pizza stone I had heated in the oven. I quickly realized the pizza was not going to slide off the pan onto the stone, so I placed the whole thing in the oven. It turned out that the pizza crust really did not cook on the bottom and was somewhat disappointing. I will definitely invest in a pizza peel next time I make homemade pizza.

Fish Friday

Since Gerry was bringing a friend to the airport at 5:00 on Friday afternoon, I got to choose dinner for a change on a Friday. I decided to make a meal from Laura Calder's French Food at Home show. We dined on Halibut with Brown Butter, Crushed Chickpeas with Olives and Roasted Carrots. In one word - YUM!

I started with the chickpeas by sauteing some garlic in olive oil and then adding chickpeas, salt and pepper and heating through. I crushed some of the chickpeas with a potato masher and removed from the heat before stirring in olives, parsley and lemon zest. I added some fresh lemon juice and olive oil and set aside.

The carrots were sliced in half lengthwise, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and roasted in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Butter was melted in a saucepan until browned and foaming and then some fresh lemon juice was squeezed in. The brown butter sauce was set aside.

The halibut was seasoned with salt and pepper before being pan fried in olive oil on both sides.

The dish was plated by spooning a pile of crushed chickpeas on the plate, topping with the halibut fillets, drizzled with the brown butter sauce with the roasted carrots alongside.

Mona and Gerry agree:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fusilli with Three Cheeses and Red Bell Pepper

The name of this recipe says it all. This is basically a macaroni and cheese dish that goes upscale with fontina, mozzarella and Parmesan with some red pepper strips thrown in.

This dish starts by sauteeing red bell pepper strips in a frying pan in butter for about 10 minutes until softened. Meanwhile fusilli pasta is cooked in the usual fashion. Once the pasta is done, it is drained and put back in the same pot. It is tossed with butter, salt, the sauteed bell peppers, and the 3 cheeses with a sprinkling of black pepper.

The whole mixture goes into a buttered baking dish and popped under the broiler with a little more Parmesan sprinkled over the top until the top starts to brown, about 3-4 minutes.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

I love Ellie Krieger's food philosophy of eating the colors of the rainbow every day. If you do, you automatically get all the antioxidants you need. Today was a good food color day which I noticed as I was pulling all my food together this morning to take to work. I started my day with Greek Yogurt with fresh sliced strawberries and raspberries drizzled with honey. For lunch I had a hummus and veggie sandwich which was 2 slices of whole wheat bread toasted, spread with hummus, topped with sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes and fresh spinach. I finished off lunch with a fresh peach.

For dinner we had Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger. It's been a while since we had these and they were wonderful. We mixed together some ground beef, frozen chopped spinach, a grated zucchini, minced onion, bulghur wheat, a beaten egg, oregano, salt and pepper. This mixture went into red pepper halves, topped with finely chopped stewed tomatoes and sprinkled with feta cheese. These stuffed peppers were baked covered for 30 minutes; uncovered and baked for another 25 minutes.

I forgot how good these were!

My rating