Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Girl's Night In

Our good friend Gino married his beautiful and sweet Brina this past weekend! The wedding was beautiful and very personal and it was so wonderful to be a part of it! Our very close friends, Dylan and Carissa, came up from Phoenix for the weekend and Carissa and I decided to plan a girl's night in for the night Chip and Dylan would be at the bachelor party. Kelly, my sister-in-law, had just moved back in to town so I also thought this would be a great opportunity to get her out and introduce her to some of my friends.

We decided to do a potluck affair with wine and appetizers. I chose three dips to be eaten on fancy crackers and Kelly picked a Top Chef recipe: Mini Ham and Cheese Quiches with Pesto. All four recipes got great "reviews" at the party!

Cat Cora's Eggplant Dip

Cat Cora's Sweet Red Peppers with Asiago Cheese Dip (My favorite!)

Cat Cora's Tomato Basil Dip

Top Chef: Mini Ham and Cheese Quiches with Pesto


Chicken Picatta

This dish was so light and flavorful! The capers added a wonderful lemony-tart flavor that really made the dish feel summery. The important thing to remember with this dish, and any dish using capers, is that you MUST rinse the capers before adding them.
Capers are herb buds that are salted and pickled so rinsing them will help tame down the seriously salty flavor that can easily ruin an entire dish. By doing something as simple as running them under cold water quickly before adding them to your dish the flavor will be taken to a whole different level. Delicious dish! I'll definitely repeat this meal when looking for a quick, flavorful and filling meal.

Serve with salad and crust bread! Enjoy!


6 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 chicken cutlets, (3/4-1 pound total), trimmed
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 10-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 teaspoons butter

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes or according to packaged directions. Drain and rinse.

Meanwhile, whisk 5 teaspoons flour and broth in a small bowl until smooth. Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in the middle, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; cover and keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add garlic and wine to the pan and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in parsley, capers, butter and reserved mushrooms. Measure out 1/2 cup of the mushroom sauce. Toss the pasta in the pan with the remaining sauce. Serve the pasta topped with the chicken and the reserved sauce.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grilled Shrimp Pizza

I honestly can't remember where I found this recipe! I was searching (for what seems forever) the other day for a shrimp recipe that sounded amazing and this is the one I settled on. Oh my goodness I'm glad I did! Every detail about this recipe is perfect. The dough recipe is definitely one I'll be using again and again. So very simple, so very tasty. It was fun for me and Chip to work on this together. I did the prep work and he did the grilling...I think our "thing" this summer may turn out to be experimenting with grilled pizzas!


Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 wedges)

2 teaspoons honey
1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces), divided
6 tablespoons stone-ground yellow cornmeal, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Remaining ingredients:
36 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 pound)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) queso fresco, crumbled
6 tablespoons green salsa, divided
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, divided

To prepare dough, dissolve honey and yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons cornmeal, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough), roll each into a 10-inch circle on a floured surface. Place dough on 2 rimless baking sheets, each sprinkled with 2 tablespoons cornmeal. Brush each portion with 1 teaspoon oil; coat lightly with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.

Prepare grill.

Thread 6 shrimp onto each of 6 (12-inch) wooden skewers. Sprinkle shrimp with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill for 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done. Cool slightly, and coarsely chop. Combine cheeses.

Remove plastic wrap from 1 dough portion; discard plastic. Slide dough onto grill rack coated with cooking spray, using a spatula as a guide. Grill 3 minutes or until lightly browned; turn. Spread 3 tablespoons salsa over crust, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Top with half of the shrimp and 2 cups cheese mixture. Grill an additional 3 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese melts. Remove and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining dough, salsa, shrimp, and cheese mixture.

Sprinkle each pizza with 1/4 cup cilantro. Cut each pizza into 6 wedges.

A few Shout-outs...

I can't believe it's been over two months since I last posted. How lazy of me! I promise I've been cooking during all that time! But a lot has been going on for us and some things I did for fun definitely took a backseat. I'm happy to report that things are calming down again and I'm back! are a few "shout-outs" to recipes I've made recently and loved. Happy cooking!

Lemon-Tarragon Chicken with Sweet Pea Tortellini 

This chicken was so moist and yummy! The tortellini were easy to make and with the ricotta/pea mixture it was like summer time in my mouth =) 

*I lined my whole pan with thin lemon slices and loved may want to buy a few extra lemons for this recipe!

Devilish Chocolate Layer Cake with Caramel-Chocolate Buttercream

The recipes found in this book are pretty involved so it's not one I'd recommend for anyone who doesn't like spending time in the kitchen. That being said...every recipe I've tried out so far has been AMAZING. The cakes are all extremely moist, the frosting and buttercreams are to die for and the directions are easy to follow. There are lots of helpful tips and techniques to learn throughout. However, no pictures! I was bummed...not because I have to have a picture but they're so fun to look at, you know??

Grilled Steak and Pepper Sandwich with Corn Mayonnaise

I found this recipe at One of my most favorite websites for recipes. It's related to one of my favorite magazines: Bon Appetit! Me, Chip and our friends were literally licking our plates when we were done. All the flavors are so perfect for each other! Don't let the corn mayo throw works amazing on this sandwich and the roasted corn really takes the flavors to a whole new level! 

Key Lime Coconut Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

I made this cake for our family get-together for the 4th of July. I know it's not red, white OR blue but those desserts get old. This was perfect for a summer night under the stars and fireworks! Not overly coconutty and the tartness of the key lime went beautifully with the white chocolate. Another great recipe from the Essential Baker. Link below!

So, obviously, I've made much more than this in the past two months but I decided to just put the ones that I'm STILL dreaming about =)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Southwest Shrimp and Corn Chowder and Cat Cora's Chocolate Budino

Cooking Light is one of my favorite sites to go check out when I'm bored and want something fast to make. I knew making a soup in May in Tucson might be a gamble but the weather cooperated today-it was chilly and windy and raining! Perfect soup weather! This was a fast chowder type recipe: 30 minutes start to finish. Mostly fresh stuff: green onions, red bell pepper, a serrano chile, shrimp, cilantro, milk, chicken stock and a few packaged things: mexicorn, fire roasted green chiles and southwest style hash browns. So flavorful and filling. I paired it with simple quesadillas: refried beans, cheese and green chiles. Definitely a keeper!

Cat Cora did it AGAIN! This is her chocolate budino recipe. She describes budino as more of a pudding than a cake. It's purposefully undercooked and it's molten, gooey, chocolate-y goodness. Incredibly rich, I only had one bite but the boys both polished off entire pieces WITH vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries. I highly recommend a scoop of vanilla ice cream when there is ever hot gooey chocolate involved.

If I haven't mentioned it before PLEASE check out Cat Cora's cookbook "Cooking From the Hip" It's amazing and I have loved every single recipe I've tried out of it!

Grilled Lemon-Oregano Chicken Drumsticks and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary and Orange

I love, love, love the magazine Bon Appetit. I found this recipes over a year ago but I'm just now getting to it. This was some of the most moist chicken I've ever had in my life! It marinates for two days with a lemon juice, oregano, garlic and olive oil marinade. I removed the skin but you don't have to. Super simple and so tasty! It's also amazing cold the next day-I pulled it from the bone and put it over a salad. WOW! Try it!

For the side dish I did yet another recipe from Cat Cora: Roasted Sweet Potato with Rosemary and Orange. I am a huge fan of fresh rosemary, especially when paired with sweet potatoes. Sea salt really adds a nice touch. The "orange" of the recipe is actually fresh squeezed orange juice that is spooned over the potato once it's done roasting and scored (hence the lines in the potato). It was such an amazing touch to the sweet potato. Definitely a quick, flavorful side dish that I'll cook again!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Apologies, Chef's jackets and Mediterranean Chicken

So, apologies first! I haven't posted since I got back from Coachella Music Festival. I've been cooking since then but I've been so busy with school! So I'm posting my favorite dinner in the past two weeks.

This Mediterranean Chicken was a recipe I found in Fitness Magazine. It was soooo delish! Simple and fast- the flavors all worked so well together. My favorite part was squeezing the hot lemon over the chicken before eating it. To save even more money on the recipe I bought bone-in chicken thighs with the skin and removed the skin myself at home and trimmed the extra fat.

And exciting news on the school front! I went in and signed up for and paid for my classes for next semester! I'm taking Restaurant Principles, Nutrition, Catering Operations, Hot Foods, Garde Mange, Baking and Pastry Production, Cakes, Pies and Gluten-Free Baking. AAAANNNNNNDDDDDD! I got to wear a chef's jacket! It was quite surreal. I can not wait to get my own!