Monday, March 31, 2008

Saturday's Dinner Party - part II

Let me just start by saying I love black pepper and this recipe involves lots of black pepper...NOT RED...which by the way I cannot stand.
Awesome Jen's London Broil (compliments of All Recipes) was so good that I bought London Broil at Whole Foods yesterday so I could try to replicate it.
3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon fresh chives (optional)
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 (2 pound) beef flank steak
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Preheat the grill for low heat.
In a bowl, mix the blue cheese, butter, and chives. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the black pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
Rub the steak with olive oil. Coat both sides of the meat with the spice mixture, and rub in by hand or press with a spatula.
Lightly oil the grill grate. Place meat on the grill, and cook 10 to 15 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Grill to rare or medium rare for best flavor. Remove from grill, and slice lengthwise into thin strips. Top with a large dollop of blue cheese butter, and serve.

Jen's Lemon Bomb Cake

Jen is the bomb!

This is actually called Lemon Wow Cake, but I am renaming it Jen's Lemon Bomb Cake because it is amazingly good. (Check out the "secret" ingredient.)

My awesome friend Jen actually threw a little dinner party for my birthday this weekend and let me select the menu throughout last week. It was an incredible meal and just great fun! It was definitely one of the nicest birthday presents I have ever received.

I will share the other dinner recipes throughout the week.
Jen's Lemon Bomb Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant coconut cream pudding mix
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 cup lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.
In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding mix. Crumble the dried tarragon into a fine powder and mix with the cake and pudding mixture. Make a well in the center and pour in lemon-lime soda, lemon juice, eggs and oil. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Nick and Tori's "I have to use every dish in the kitchen" Cannelloni

Now that brother and sister have made this...I thought I would update with a photo of all the dishes it entails!
...... I cook the majority of the time, my husband claims I have taken away his edge when it comes to the kitchen. In fact, this past weekend, I headed home to Western New York to take the little guy skiing and my husband stayed home to make his brother a birthday dinner. The dinner from what I hear was fabulous, but the molten hot piece of sausage in his eye was not. Apparently, after using every dish in the kitchen, he was left was with the last clean item... the blender. He thought about using the food processor, but somehow he thought that equated to more dishes. The result... an air pocket and some seriously hot flying food.

Nick's Cannelloni with two sauces, lots of ingredients and tons of dishes

Tomato sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes, not drained, coarsely chopped (4 cups)
6 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8-ounce package dried cannelloni (14 pasta tubes)
or homemade crepes -- you know if you want to create more dishes
Filling (recipe follows)
Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
3 tablespoons butter

Heat olive oil in a non-reactive 3-quart saucepan over high heat until a light glaze forms over oil, about 2 minutes. Add onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until onions are clear, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, sugar, salt and a few grindings of pepper, stirring well. Cover pan partially, reduce heat and simmer 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If finishing the dish now, make filling and bechamel sauce. Also boil pasta to al dente stage, if using canneloni stirring often; drain pasta. Once filling and sauces are done and pasta is cooked and drained, finish dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour a film of tomato sauce in bottom of ungreased 14-by-10-inch baking dish. Stuff the cooked pasta tubes with filling and place side by side in baking dish. Pour bechamel sauce over pasta and spoon rest of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and dot with butter. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, until parmesan melts and sauce is bubbling. Slide dish under a hot broiler for about 30 seconds to brown top. Serve immediately.

2 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, chopped again 1 tablespoon butter
1 pound ground round
1/2 mild pound ground pork sausage
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Heat the olive oil in a large non-reactive skillet over moderate heat for 1 minute.
Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes until onions are soft but not browned. Add spinach and cook until moisture has boiled away and spinach sticks lightly to pan, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet and lightly brown ground round and sausage, about 7 minutes, stirring constantly to break meat into small bits. With slotted spoon, transfer meat mixture to bowl with spinach. Stir in parmesan, cream, salt and pepper to taste and then mix in eggs. Sauce can be "pureed" using food processor if desired.

Bechamel sauce
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
In a heavy 1-quart saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat. Remove pan from heat and whisk in flour. Add milk and cream, whisking constantly until flour is blended in. Return pan to heat and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce reaches a boil and is smooth. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce coats wires of whisk, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easy Vegetarian Pasta from Ina

My mom was in town and being a vegetarian, she always introduces me to some really good meatless recipes.... This one from Ina Garten was really good, and it was even better the next day. I am going to try this one for sure when my amazing friend Marya comes to town in April (which will be like a mini-food and wine festival at our house...I can't wait!)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cups heavy cream
3 lemons
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried fusilli pasta
1/2 pound baby arugula --We used about half of this. (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, and tomatoes. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

Street Hangings...for your home

You know those cool banners hanging on city streets? Well, you can buy them -for a pretty penny - and some of them are super cool at! I happened to see their add while I was hanging out North Star eatery in Columbus...super fresh and organic food! (Their breakfast is amazing and their veggie burger is the best I have ever had.) Anyway, you can hang out in there and read their magazines...lots of neat ones, e.g., Dwell, Gastromique etc. and of course, scan the ads like Better Wall. I'd love to have this Tiffany Banner for my very craftsman house, but $375 is definitely a bit steep.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another mom essential...Kohl's

I love Target, Starbucks, Nordstroms, and the rest of the usual suspects, but you never hear as much about Kohl's and what a fabulous store for kids clothes, some toys, pantyhose, bras, and even a few cooking essentials. Just today, I bought socks for my 4 year old, pantyhose for work-- another topic for another day...but women should get a pantyhose allowance --- earrings, couple of beach toys, towels ~ amazing price, a pair of rubber coated tongs which will be safe on my blue pot. Furthermore, the Kohl's card is totally worth it... great discounts.

So...what's your Kolbe?

We recently did this really cool assessment at work called Kolbe. What I like about it was that it got at how we "work". Are you a fact finder? Do you like structure and organization? Are you a "dreamer with big ideas"? Do you like to do things with your hands?
It also relates to our personal lives...Do I handle the packing for our trip and my husband researches the area? I am a "blue"...he is a "red". Makes sense!

Also, after you pay for the assessment, you get a really nice overview of your Kolbe.
Finally, Oprah also seems to think it's a good thing as well and her site includes an interesting story about learning styles.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's not quite summer - greek salsa and chicken

Tomatoes that are not ripe and red are sometimes better off cooked or in this case -- food processed. This was a "let's use whatever I have in the fridge" concoction and it worked very well!
1 pint cherry tomatoes -- or any tomato that looks like it needs some help
1 stalk celery and/or a couple slices of a cucumber
1/4 cup red onion
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. vinegar
3 slices of good bread-- I used a good thick loaf and put it on the grill with a little olive oil and garlic with my chicken. Combine all vegetables in a food processor and pulse until slightly chunky. Add oil, vinegar, and 1/2 cup feta to salsa - stir. Toss with cubes of bread.
Serve with a piece of grilled chicken.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A non-cooking Mom essential...

It's been a wintery weekend in Ohio and I have been wearing my ski gear for most of the weekend, and I was reminded of how much a I love my Marmot Precip Jacket. It's great for layering, rain, snow etc. but what I love the most as a mom is the pockets. There are 2 huge side pockets that you can put anything inside....wallet, phone, sippy cups, apples, juice boxes, mittens, hats, Thomas the Train, tennis balls (for the dog), can of soda~ beer maybe, cereal bars, a diaper, package of name it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A taste of spring on a REALLY snowy day

Winter doesn't want to let go...but cilantro reminds me of spring, so we had our nice and very fun neighbors over last night for Cilantro Chicken Pizza and of course, some vino. (Not a whole lot going on in the city last night other than snow!)

2 medium marinated and baked skinless boneless chicken breast - chopped (Any marinade will work. I used a Wegmans Speedie Sauce.)
1 frozen pizza dough
2 cups shredded cheddar or other cheese blend

Cilantro Pesto (compliments of Simply Recipes)
2 cups, packed, of cilantro, large stems removed
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon chopped and seeded jalapeno chile
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, onion, chile, and salt until well blended. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream.
Add more oil as needed for your use.

1. Spread pesto over dough (follow package baking directions -- may require it is slightly pre-baked)
2. Top with chicken.
3. Sprinkle with cheese and bake -- mine took about 9 minutes.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Currried Apple Couscous

Curried Apple Couscous Recipe
I was hanging out with amazing friend Marya this weekend and since she is vegetarian, I had some fun experimenting with a few meatless recipes. This couscous was really good. I found it on one of my favorite sites, 101 cookbooks.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 medium apple, cored and chopped
3 green onions, washed, trimmed, and thinly sliced
1 cup whole wheat couscous (or regular)1 3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup pine nuts or cashews, toasted
Small handful of mint, chopped

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat add 3 tablespoons of the butter, the curry powder, and a couple generous pinches of salt, and cook for a minute or until the spices are fragrant. Stir in the chopped apples and cook for about 3 minutes, enough time for the apples to soften up a bit and absorb some of the curry. Scoop the apples from the pan and set aside in a separate bowl.
In the same pan, again over medium-high heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir in the green onions, let them soften up a bit and then add the water (or Better than Boullion -- for added flavor) and salt. Bring to a boil, stir in the couscous, cover and remove from heat. Steam for 5 to 10 minutes and then use a fork to fluff up the couscous. Stir in the apples, pine nuts, and chopped mint. Season with more salt and curry powder to taste

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Something new for an hors dourve - butternut squash crostini

Carmelized Butternut Squash Crostini
If it's caramelized, how can it not be GREAT?!
This recipe is compliments of my favorite restaurant in Rochester, NY -- 2 Vine.
Pesto (or you can cheat and buy some Wegmans etc. pesto from the jar...:)
1 OZ Spinach
1 OZ Arugula
1/2 OZ Basil
1 OZ Mint
1 Tbl Toasted Hazelnuts
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt To taste
Pepper To taste
4 Cups Butternut Squash (Peeled and diced 1/4 inch cube)
1 Tsp Honey
2 OZ block Parmesan cheese
2 Tbl oil Sliced Baguette
1. Toast sliced baguette pieces brushed with extra virgin olive oil in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
2. Chop spinach, arugula, and fresh herbs by hand then blend in a food processor with toasted hazelnuts. Slowly drizzle in the oil to create a smooth paste then season with salt and pepper.
3. Sauté butternut squash in oil until slightly caramelized and tender about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and a little honey. Let cool.
4. Spread a little of the pesto on each toast then spoon on a little of the butternut squash. Shave some of the parmesan over the crostini with a vegetable peeler. Drizzle with a little oil and arrange on a platter. Serve at room temperature. SERVES 8-10