Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grilled Lamb Chops and Couscous

Tonight we feasted on Grilled Lamb Chops with Fresh Tomato Salad and Mint-Basil Couscous. All of this was served with a side of Feta Dip.

Dinner prep started with the tomato salad by cutting a tomato into wedges, and tossing in sliced cucumbers, sliced red onion, minced parsley, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. The salad was covered and refrigerated.

The feta dip came next, by combining crumbled feta cheese, plain yogurt, mayonnaise, minced chives and fresh lemon juice. The dip was also covered and chilled.

The lamb came next: 4 small lamb loin chops were rubbed with a mixture of olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. The rubbed lamb chops went on the charcoal grill for 5-6 minutes per side. The meat came off the grill and rested for 5 minutes before serving.

While the lamb was grilling, the couscous was started. In a saucepan, 2/3 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of olive oil were brought to a boil. 1/2 cup each of fresh mint and basil were added and cooked for 20 seconds. The herb mixture went in to a food processor and was pureed until smooth, but still hot, about 10 seconds. This hot puree was poured over the couscous in a bowl and covered with plastic wrap. The couscous was allowed to stand for about 5 minutes. The couscous was fluffed with a fork before serving.

Gerry was very happy to be outside using the Weber charcoal grill after what seems like a long time (maybe 3 weeks) and I must admit I love a piece of char-grilled meat.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mushroom Ragu with Creamy Polenta

There are plenty of reasons to do Meatless Mondays, but I like the challenge of finding flavorful, hearty meals that leave you feeling satisfied and this Mushroom Ragu fits the bill.

The process started by sauteing shallots in olive oil until soft. The recipe calls for 1 pound of mushrooms (1/2 lb. cremini, 1/2 lb. button, all quartered). Half of the quartered mushrooms were added with the heat brought up to high and sauteed until browned. The cooked mushrooms were removed from the pan and the other half of the mushrooms were added to the same skillets with a little more olive oil and browned. Once cooked, both batches of mushrooms were combined in the pan. A diced fresh tomato joined the pan, along with some vegetable broth, sherry, balsamic vinegar and tomato paste. This mixture was allowed to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, before being sprinkled with parsley, thyme, and salt and pepper to flavor.

While the mushroom ragu was simmering, the polenta was cooked. A cup of vegetable broth and a cup of skim milk were brought to a boil and 1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal was whisked in. The heat was reduced to low and allowed to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Once thickened, 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and a tablespoon of heavy cream were stirred in and seasoned with salt.

The polenta went on to the plate and topped with the ragu. This was a hearty and filling dish.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Pot Pie

I used the last of the leftover turkey tonight in Turkey Pot Pie. This is just my chicken pot pie recipe, but made with turkey broth instead of chicken broth and turkey instead of chicken. This is the ultimate comfort food. I really enjoyed the pot pie, but I'm glad to be done with the turkey.

Hot Turkey Sandwiches

Saturday night was just Hot Turkey Sandwiches, whole wheat toast, with warm sliced turkey, smothered in homemade Turkey Gravy.

Friday Repeat

Dinner was just a repeat of our Thursday feast. Just as good the second time around.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Feast

I love Thanksgiving since it's all about the food. We have some pretty standard dishes that we do every year.

This year, a friend brought a fall appetizer to share which was yummy. It was a cranberry relish served with blue corn tortilla chips. The relish had a nice little bite to it with the jalapenos and the cilantro.

We then moved on to the main part of the meal with the turkey taking center stage. The turkey got a massage of herbed butter just under the skin and in the cavity. Also in the cavity, went a bunch of fresh sage, rosemary, thyme and a thickly sliced lemon. The remaining herbed butter was rubbed all over the outisde of the turkey. The bird was then placed on a bed of chopped onions, celery and carrots in a roast pan along with a quart of chicken stock. After an hour of roasting, the turkey got a basting of its pan juices every 20 minutes for another 2 hours.

For the past few years, we have been hooked on a caramelized onion and cornbread stuffing. A couple of chopped onions were cooked in butter until soft and caramelized and some fresh chopped sage was added. The onion and sage mixture went into a bowl and cubed cornbread was added along with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, we whisked together an egg, a little heavy cream, and chicken stock which was poured over the cornbread mixture. The stuffing was spooned into a buttered baking dish and baked until hot and crusty on top (about 30 minutes).

We always have Sweet Potato Casserole, which starts with boiling 5 sweet potatoes until tender. They are then mashed with butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and salt. This is spooned in a casserole dish and popped in the oven for 25 minutes before being topped with miniature marshmallows and baked for another 5 minutes. A definite family favorite!!

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without mashed potatoes. I used white rose potatoes this year and mashed them with butter, buttermilk, and salt and pepper.

We also had String Beans with Shallots. French green beans (haricots verts) were blanched and shocked to stop cooking. Some butter and olive oil went in to a skillet with some chopped shallots which were cooked for about 10 minutes to start caramelizing. The blanched green beans went in and cooked to warm through. Salt and pepper finished the seasoning for the dish.

The gravy came out great this year which has been a struggle for me in the past. The gravy started by caramelizing some chopped onions in butter in a saute pan. Some flour was whisked in with some salt and pepper and cooked for 2-3 minutes. The strained broth from the bottom of the roasting pan holding the turkey was used to make the gravy along with a tablespoon of Cognac.

We always have the jellied cranberry sauce, but this year I added a Cranberry Sauce made with fresh cranberries. A package of fresh cranberries went into a pot with 2 cups of granulated sugar and 1/3 cup of water. Once the cranberries came to the boil, the heat was reduced to a simmer and in went a cinnamon stick and allspice and cooked for several minutes. The zest and juice of 1 orange was stirred in after taking the pot off the heat. These were delicious and I'm looking forward to serving these again.

Dessert was a pumpkin pie and a bourbon pecan pie served with freshly whipped cream.

I made my pie crust dough on Wednesday and lined 2 pie plates. For the pecan pie, I whisked 3 eggs until well combined; then I beat in dark corn syrup, sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract and a tablespoons of bourbon. The filling was poured carefully over pecans that were already arranged in the pie shell.

The pumpkin pie started by combining 3 eggs with sugar, salt and spices. Gradually some cooled, scalded milk was stirred in along with some heavy cream. Next went in pumpkin puree and this entire mixture went in to the other pie shell to bake.

This year's menu was a cornucopia of different food network chef's recipes: the turkey was Sandra Lee (Semi-Homemade), the stuffing was Tyler Florence (Tyler's Ultimate), the green beans and gravy were Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), the cranberry sauce was Alex Guarnaschelli (Alex's Day Off). I didn't take a picture since there is always so much food, the plate is just a mess.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sugar-rubbed Steak

Tuesday night's dinner was sugar-rubbed New York strip steak with blue cheese and tomato salad.

Dinner started by popping some russet potatoes in the oven to bake. About 30 minutes later, the rub was started next by combining a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, pepper and salt. The sugar mixture was rubbed onto both sides of a nice thick strip steak. Then the meat was seared on the first side for 5 minutes, flipped and seared for another 2 minutes on the other side. The skillet was popped into a hot oven (450 degrees) for another 8 minutes to finish cooking to medium-rare. The steak was removed from the pan, tented with foil, and allowed to rest for 5 minutes.

The salad consisted of romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese. While the steak was finishing its cooking time in the oven, the dressing for the salad was made by sauteing a strip of bacon in a skillet until crisp. Diced shallots went in for a couple of minutes and then the skillet was deglazed with red wine vinegar. Some sugar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper were whisked in. A little olive oil was stirred in and the vinaigrette was kept warm until the steak was ready.

The plate held half of the sugar-rubbed strip steak, the salad topped with the warm vinaigrette topped with some of the crumbled bacon, and a baked potato.

The steak was wonderful with the sugar-rub that caramelized as the meat was seared and cutting the steak in half made it a decent serving size. We sprinkled a little more blue cheese on the steaks which we love. The salad and potato were the perfect side dishes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Fiesta of Flavors for Meatless Mondays

Tonight's dinner was Black Bean Cakes with Cilantro-Scallion Slaw and Mexican Rice.

I started dinner by making the slaw which started with sour cream, scallions, cilantro, jalapeno, and fresh lime juice all pureed together in the food processor until smooth. The dressing was poured over some shredded cabbage along with salt to taste. The slaw was covered and refrigerated until serving time.

The Black Bean cakes started with 1/2 cup of canned black beans mashed together with an egg white in a bowl. I added the rest of the black beans, 1/4 cup ground corn-tortilla chips, 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, a couple of tablespoons of grated onion, some ground coriander, chili powder and salt to taste. This mixture was set aside in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile the Mexican rice was started by sauteing diced onion, carrot, celery, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a little oil for a couple of minutes. Some rice was then added along with some vegetable broth, brought to a boil, covered and simmered for 20 minutes. The rice was allowed to rest for another 5 minutes after the 20 minutes of cooking time.

After the 10 minute chilling time for the black bean cakes, they went into a skillet in some olive oil, and were sauteed about 4 minutes per side.

Dinner was plated by spooning the rice into a round ring mold, topped with a black bean cake and finally the slaw. The garnish was a lime wedge and some cilantro sprigs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Masala-Poached Mahi Mahi

The mahi mahi was so good last night, that I decided we needed more of it tonight. The masala-poached mahi mahi was served with a coconut rice and gingered mango-cucumber raita.

I started dinner with the rice by combining coconut milk, basmati rice, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan, bringing it to a boil and cooked for 18 minutes until tender. The rice was kept covered and warm until serving time.

Meanwhile the sauce was started for the fish by scenting some vegetable oil with a cinnamon stick and some whole cloves, Some diced onion went in to the scented oil and allowed to cook until the onion browned. The cinnamon stick and whole cloves were removed and in went some hot curry power, fresh garlic, minced garlic, minced ginger, minced serrano pepper and a bay leaf and cooked for a minute. Some chopped fresh tomatoes were added with a little brown sugar and allowed to cook down for 10 minutes.

The mahi mahi fillets were poached in this sauce, covered, for 8 minutes until cooked through. The fish was transferred to dinner plates while the sauce was finished off by swirling in a little bit of butter, some garam masala, lime juice, salt and chopped fresh cilantro. The finished sauce was spooned over the fish and served with the rice.

The final component on the dish was the gingered mango-cucumber raita. This came together by stirring together equal amounts of diced cucumber, mango, minced fresh ginger, sugar, ground cumin, salt, pepper, plain yogurt and fresh lime juice.

I'm so glad to be back in the kitchen and serving a meal like this. The heat in the sauce on the fish was fabulous, slow building and lingering, absolutely superb! The rice was sweet and a nice contrast to the fish. The raita did a fabulous job of cooling everything down.

Fishmonger's Saturday

Gerry and I have been eating out a little more than usual lately, but putting our house on the market has pushed us to get some things done. With the chores and errands we've been running, it has just been easier to grab a bite out rather than our usual cooking. I think we are basically done with the running errands to either buy things to repair something, or just trying to find the right thing so spruce up an area, we are looking forward to getting back into our routine of cooking at home.

We stopped at Fishmonger's, a seafood restaurant in Plano, serving fresh fish, family style. Gerry had the mahi mahi fish tacos, which started with a cup of shrimp tortilla soup which was delicious and loaded with shrimp. I had the crawfish etouffe and rice and started with a salad dressed with the house dressing which was a spicy Russian.

A very nice dinner, but I'm really looking forward to some home-cooked food!

Thai Food Friday

We ended up going to Zenna's on Friday night and, of course I had my usual Thai red curry with Tofu which I just love! Gerry had the Green curry with chicken which he really enjoyed. I had mine made with medium spice and Gerry went with hot spice and we were both pleased with our choices.

We can't go wrong with the curry at this restaurant.

Simple Salmon Cakes

On Thursday night we had simple salmon cakes with creamed asparagus. Dinner started with processing panko breadcrumbs, diced celery, chopped fresh cilantro, diced onion, an egg white, Sriracha (chili garlic sauce), fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor until everything was minced.

This minced mixture was combined with 1/2 lb. of fresh diced salmon. The salmon mixture was divided into four parts and shaped into cakes, 1 inch thick. The cakes went on a parchment-lined baking sheet, covered and refrigerated for 30 minutes.

While the salmon cakes were chilling, the asparagus was trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces and blanched. Then butter was melted in a saucepan before, flour went in and whisked for a minute. Some milk and chicken broth were added, brought to a boil and whisked constantly until thickened. Off heat, some dill, lemon juice and zest were added along with salt and pepper to taste. The asparagus went in to the sauce to warm through just before serving.

The salmon cakes went into a skillet to brown on each side for a couple of minutes and then went in to a 400 degree oven to finish cooking through.

A very satisfying supper!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick Chicken Marengo

On Wednesday nights, Zeb and her friend Melissa come over for dinner and then we spend the night grading papers. It's a great way for us to catch up with the girls and they get a home cooked meal at least one night a week.

This week, dinner started with the Chicken Marengo, by combining flour, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in a paper bag, which the boneless, skinless, cubed chicken pieces were shaken in and set aside.

Some prosciutto was sauteed in olive oil until crisp, before being removed. The flour-coated chicken pieces went in to the same saute pan and browned on both sides before being removed. Some sliced onions went in to the same pan next and cooked until softened before some garlic and thyme were added to cook briefly. The pan was deglazed with some white wine and allowed to cook down completely. A can of diced tomatoes went in along with some chicken broth and chopped kalamata olives. The chicken rejoined the pan with the prosciutto and was allowed to simmer for another 5 minutes. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice was then added.

This was served with a lemon-pepper polenta which was made by combining 2 cups of milk with 1 cup of water and brought to a boil. Once boiling, 1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal was whisked in along with 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, and salt and pepper and then reduced to a simmer. Once cooked and thickened, 3 ounces of cubed cream cheese was added and stirred until melted.

The chicken mixture was served over the polenta with a garnish of lemon zest and chopped fresh parsley.

Italian Sausage Ragu

Tuesday night's entree was pasta and salad. While the penne pasta was cooking, a ragu was started by browning some Italian sausage meat for a few minutes before adding some diced yellow bell pepper and diced onion. All was allowed to book for another 5 minutes before some tomato paste and garlic joined the pan. The pan was deglazed with white wine and allowed to cook down. Diced canned tomatoes went in along with some crushed red pepper flakes. The ragu was allowed to simmer for another 5 minutes or so until thickened. The thickened ragu was served over the penne pasta and garnished with Parmesan cheese.

The side dish was a salad with a tomato vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was made by whisking together diced fresh tomato, red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced shallots, minced parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. This was served over some baby romaine salad greens.

Meatless Monday Thai Red Curry

On Monday night after a late afternoon meeting, Gerry and I went out to dinner at Zenna's Thai and Japanese restaurant. This is my favorite place to order Thai red curry with tofu. It comes with a nice bowl of rice and I usually order my curry medium hot which is the perfect spice for me. I actually ate enough of my meal that there was not enough left to save for lunch the next day. This is one of my favorite places to go when I'm craving some spice.

Buffalo Wild Wings

On Sunday, while Gerry was playing in a charity golf tournament, I met a friend at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Cowboys play with Jason Garrett as the coach. Go Cowboys! They played great after their dry spell of 1 and 7. It was a great game, and I enjoyed a couple of beers and my favorite Mango Habenero Wings. I love the combination of sweet and hot on the glaze of these wings. I rounded out the wings with an order of fries. A very unusual meal plan for me, but delicious none the less.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Southwestern Cream of Chicken Soup

Nothing beats chicken soup on a cool day and cool days in Texas are really appreciated. This soup started by sweating some diced red bell pepper, diced poblano chile pepper, onion, garlic, hot chili powder, ground cumin, and ground coriander until the peppers began to soften.

Some flour was whisked in and cooked for another couple of minutes. Three cups of whole milk, 1 cup of beer, and 1 cup of chicken broth were added and brought to a simmer. Some rice went in and was allowed to simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, 2 cups of shredded Pepper Jack cheese was tossed with 3 tablespoons of flour. After 15 minutes with the rice simmering in the soup, small handfuls of the flour-coated cheese were added and stirred until melted before adding more until all of the cheese was added. Then 2 cups of shredded, cooked chicken along with some chopped fresh cilantro were stirred in and allowed to warm for a couple of minutes.

The soup was ladled out and garnished with some fresh lime.

We both loved the texture, flavor and slight heat of the soup! This would absolutely work with leftover turkey which we are looking forward to trying after Thanksgiving.

Gerry's Choice Friday Night Dinner

Gerry decided that Grilled Veal Chops with Red Pepper Sauce sounded like the perfect fit for dinner tonight. The sides were garlic mashed potatoes, and Portabello Mushrooms stuffed with Spinach and Dried Tomatoes. The meal was absolutely fabulous.

The process started with the mushrooms by wilting the spinach in a saucepan, and transferring it to a strainer to drain until cooled. The drained, and then squeezed dry spinach was then chopped. In the same saucepan, some onions, garlic, chopped oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped Kalamata olives, salt and pepper went in to cook for a couple of minutes. The saucepan came off the heat.

The portabello mushroom caps had the gills scraped cleaned, before being grilled smooth side up about 5 minutes. The mushrooms were then brought in and filled with the stuffing and topped with some bread crumbs that were tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper. The mushrooms were finished off on the grill for another 5-10 minutes until they were tender.

The Red Pepper Sauce was started by grilling a red bell pepper on the grill until the skin was blackened. The blackened pepper went in to a bowl, covered with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. This makes the charred skin easy to remove and then the roasted pepper was roughly chopped. The chopped, roasted pepper went into the food processor with some sour cream, mayonnaise, chopped fresh basil, minced garlic, balsamic vinegar and salt and processed until smooth. The processed sauce went in to the refrigerator until serving time.

The veal chops sat out at room temperature for 20 minutes before being rubbed with olive oil and getting a rub made from chile powder, minced garlic, salt, paprika, thyme, dry mustard, and freshly ground black pepper. The chops then went on the charcoal grill for 12 minutes or so until done.

The chops were served with the roasted red pepper sauce. This was all served with garlic mashed potatoes. The entire meal came together beautifully.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Orange Chicken Piccata

Dinner tonight started with 2 chicken breast halves, cut in half lengthwise and pounded to 1/4 inch thick. The pounded cutlets were seasoned with salt and pepper, dredgred in flour, and sauteed in olive oil until golden brown. The cutlets were removed and set aside while the sauce was made.

The saute pan was deglazed with some fresh orange juice, white wine, and Dijon mustard. This mixture was reduced by half before having some butter whisked in. Some orange slices went in to the reduced sauce along with the browned chicken and allowed to heat through. The chicken and sauce were garnished with slivered almonds and parsley.

The chicken was served alongside Rice and Peas which was made by boiling water, butter, and salt in a saucepan to which the rice was added and cooked. Some thawed, frozen green peas were added right before serving.

Fish Tacos Weber Style

I love fish tacos and this recipe was fabulous. We started with a South American Slaw, which consisted of 8 ounces of peeled and shredded jicama, 1 shredded carrot, a red bell pepper, thinly sliced, and 1/2 of a small red onion sliced. This was all combined in a medium bowl and dressed with a combination of olive oil, fresh lime juice, sugar, ground cumin, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. All was tossed together and set aside to wait for the rest of dinner.

Next the guacamole was made by mashing 2 Haas avocados and then adding chopped fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice, minced garlic, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. All the ingredients were stirred with a fork until thoroughly blended. The surface of the guacamole was covered with plastic wrap touching the surface to prevent browning.

Some cod fillets were rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with chile powder, salt and pepper. The seasoned fish fillets went on the charcoal grill until done and then broken into 1 inch pieces.

The tortillas were warmed over the grill and wrapped in a kitchen towel to keep warm. The tacos were assembled by filling them with some of the grilled fish, some of the guacamole, and some of the slaw.

These fish tacos were delicious and a recipe I plan on going to often!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Peppercorn Pork with Apple & Grain Salad

I started tonight's dinner by cooking some whole grains (which is a whole grain blend with Kamut) in boiling water until tender for an hour.

While the grains were cooking, I sliced a pork tenderloin into 2-inch thick slices and dredged one side of the pork in coarsely crushed peppercorns. The peppered side of the pork medallions were seared in olive oil, and then flipped to finish cooking. The medallions were removed and tented with foil to rest.

In the same skillet, I sauteed shallots and tomato paste in a little more oil, and then deglazed the pan with white wine. Apple juice and cider vinegar were added and cooked down for about 5 minutes until reduced by two-thirds. The sauce was finished with some Dijon mustard and salt.

White the sauce was simmering, I finished the grain salad by sauteeting a diced Braeburn apple in a little butter and then adding some jalapeno jelly, fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley, sugar and salt to taste.

The pork medallions were served with a spoonful of sauce and the Apple Grain Salad.

The combination of flavors was wonderful!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Meatless Monday Breakfast for Dinner

With Gerry still out of town, I decided to have breakfast for dinner, meatless style. I made a tofu scramble with a whole wheat toast. I sauteed some crumbled tofu and chopped onion until the onion was tender. I then added some garlic powder, onion powder, soy sauce and a little turmeric for both color and flavor. A very quick simple supper.

Sunday Relaxing

After a busy weekend, and with Gerry out of town, I couldn't decide what to have for dinner Sunday night, so I snacked on some cheese and nuts. A very unusual dinner plan, but it was quick and simple.

Saturday Night Cocktail Party

I went to another friend's house for a cocktail party Saturday night. I enjoyed a glass of white sangria (can't wait to get that recipe) and had some wonderful snack foods. It was another great evening of laughter and friendship.

Friday Night Dinner

We went to dinner at a friend's house on Friday night. We had Arroz con Pollo, Chicken and Rice, flavored with saffron, tossed salad, fried plaintains and pie for dessert. It was a wonderful evening of delicious food and great friends.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Marinara

Tonight's dinner started with roasting a spaghetti squash in a 400 degree oven for about 1 hour, until tender.

Meanwhile, some Italian turkey sausage meat was browned in a skillet, removed and set aside. After wiping out the skillet, some onions were sauteed for a few minutes before some sliced garlic was added for a few seconds. A pound of cherry tomatoes went in in with some salt and red pepper flakes and cooked until the tomatoes were softened about 5 minutes. The tomatoes were crushed with a potato masher to break them apart and then some fresh basil was added.

The cooked, scooped out squash was combined with some Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil and seasoned with salt and red pepper flakes. The seasoned squash was topped with the cooked sausage meat and marinara and the entire dish was further garnished with Parmesan and fresh basil.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Teriyaki Strip Steak

We took a Japanese twist with our menu tonight. We took strip steaks, patted dry with paper towels, before being seasoned with salt and pepper. The steaks were sauteed in a little peanut oil about 3 minutes on each side before the teriyaki sauce joined the pan. The teriyaki sauce was made with low-sodium soy sauce, honey, fresh ginger and red pepper flakes and was simmered with the steaks until reduced to a syrupy consistency. The steaks and sauce were removed to rest and the pan was wiped out to start the vegetables.

The vegetables consisted of mushrooms, red bell peppers, baby bok choy, bean sprouts and water chestnuts which were stir-fried until crisp-tender.

The steak was served over a bed of rice with the sauce and the stir-fried vegetables over the top.

Another Cuisine Tonight winner!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chicken Paillard

Sometimes the simple things are the best and tonight's dinner helps to reaffirm that belief. A boneless, skinless organic chicken breast half got pounded to 1/4" thick, sprinkled with salt and pepper, before being dipped in buttermilk, dredged in flour, and sauteed in olive oil until cooked through and golden on each side.

The buttermilk component was followed through with the Honey-Buttermilk Salad Dressing. The following ingredients were combined in a jar and shaken vigorously to blend: 1/4 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, and salt and pepper to taste.

Some of the buttermilk dressing went over mixed baby salad greens, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh basil and parsley and tossed to thoroughly combine.

The buttermilk dressed salad was served over the chicken paillard and made a delicious combination.

Gerry and I agree:

Fettucine & Mushrooms

Monday night's dinner was Mushroom and Fettucine with Red Pepper Flakes for our meatless Monday. With loads of mushroom flavor and a hit of heat from the red pepper flakes, this was a quick, yet full-flavored dinner.

While the pasta cooked according to package directions, some butter and oil went in to a saute pan and used to cook minced garlic and red pepper flakes for a minute. A combination of cremini and white button mushrooms were added and cooked until they released their liquid. The pan was deglazed with some white wine and cooked down until nearly evaporated.

The cooked fettucine was added to the pan along with a little pasta water to warm through and thoroughly coat the pasta. Some Parmesan cheese and salt was stirred in.

Once plated, the fettucine was garnished with chopped parsley.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Steak Goulash Stew

On Halloween night, I made this stew which was served over Sour Cream and Horseradish Noodles and I also made Pumpkin Caramel Bars.

For the stew, I started by mixing together flour, sweet Hungarian paprika, salt and pepper in a paper bag. I added some sirloin steak, cut into strips and shaken to cover with the flour mixture.

Meanwhile some diced bacon was crisped in a saute pan and then removed and set aside. The flour coated steak strips went into the bacon drippings with a little olive oil added to the drippings, and seared for a minute per side. The steak was removed and set aside.

Some sliced onions and minced garlic went in next to saute for a couple of minutes before I added some tomato paste, more paprika, caraway seeds and remaining flour from the bag that I shook the steak in. This mixture was allowed to cook for a couple of minutes.

The pan was deglazed with beef broth and once thickened the steak went back in with some sliced roasted red peppers and some red wine vinegar and allowed to simmer for a few minutes to all come together.

This stew was served over cooked egg noodles mixed with a combination of sour cream, chopped fresh dill, and horseradish.

A very flavorful dinner and one I will look forward to again soon.

The Pumpkin Caramel Bars were interesting. I was intrigued by the recipe because it called for 8 oz. bacon. The bacon was diced and sauteed until crisp before being removed and set aside. Into the usual mixture of flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, egg, butter, and vanilla; 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings went into the batter. This was baked for 20 minutes and allowed to completely cool.

The frosting started with brown sugar and water with a pinch of salt in a saucepan over high heat for about 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally to melt the sugar without scorching. Some heavy cream was added long with some butter and whisked for another 2 minutes.

The caramel mixture went into the bowl of my stand mixer and whipped on high speed until the sides of the bowl were cool to the touch. Four ounces of cubed cream cheese was added, 1 cube at a time until the frosting was smooth. The frosting went over the cooled bars and sprinkled with the reserved cooked bacon, which was finely chopped.

The bars turned out great, but the frosting didn't quite work out for me. I realized I didn't whip the caramel mixture on high speed in the mixer, so that was probably part of the problem. My cream cheese was also at room temperature rather than chilled. I think these two factors made a wonderfully rich caramel sauce, but not the right consistency of a frosting.

I really couldn't taste the bacon drippings in the bars, but I actually liked the crispy, saltiness of the bacon bits over the top. I think I will give these bars the benefit of the doubt and not try to make then again.

Indian Saturday

We spent the day Saturday, carving pumpkins with our children and grand-daughter. After leaving their house about 4:30, we decided we would go out again for dinner and this time, we chose Indian food. We went to the Curry Pot in Plano and feasted again. We started with Potato and Pea Somosas (Gerry loves the green chutney, I love the tamarind). My entree never varies with Chicken Tikka Masala, made medium spicy with basmati rice. Gerry ordered the Lamb Madras made spicy with Naan Bread. The spice levels of both dishes were perfect.

I love Indian food so this was a very nice treat!

Sushi Friday

Friday night, Gerry and I went out for sushi. Our favorite local restaurant is Sushi Awaji which is about 15 minutes away from our house. This has been our favorite for about 10 years and we are never disappointed. We had salmon and tuna sashimi and usually I prefer the tuna, but the salmon was absolutely superb (the tuna was fabulous, too). We had shrimp sushi and then moved on to spicy tuna rolls. The Mama San rolls came next, followed by Louisiana Rolls. Absolutely a perfect meal for me. Gerry finished off the evening with a fresh oyster which was huge. I have never seen an oyster like this.

An absolutely wonderful fish feast!!

Dinner Club

Thursday night I hosted dinner club for some work friends. We try to get together once a month at someone's house and everyone brings a dish. The host or hostess gets to choose the theme and everyone tries to bring something to complement the theme. I chose Fall Favorite dishes. I made a Turkey Chili Verde which is a favorite Weight Watchers recipe that starts with chopped onion, green pepper, and garlic sauteed in canola oil until softened. Some ground turkey breast went in the pan with chili powder and ground cumin.

While the turkey was browning, some tomatillos went into the food processor with a can of chopped green chilies and cilantro. This mixture went into the pan along with some chicken broth, cannelini beans and a teaspoon of sugar. This was allowed to simmer for about 45 minutes for the flavors to blend and the chili to reach the right consistency.

I love this chili and it comes in at 334 calories per serving.

I also made another fall favorite - Homemade Apple Pie. I timed the pie to come out of the oven just after everyone came, so I got to serve it warm with vanilla ice cream. I don't even want to think about the calorie count for this one.

Some of the side dishes were homemade corn muffins (some with bacon and some with jalapenos), Corn and Black Bean Salsa with Tortilla Chips, Southwestern Lettuce Wraps (some italian turkey sausage meat, mixed with veggies and lots of spice, served in lettuce leaves) and a spaghetti squash casserole, mixed with zucchini, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and topped with feta cheese.

A wonderful evening with great friends.