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!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chicken Potpie with Puff Pastry

Cat Cora did it again! I found this lovely recipe in "Cooking From the Hip" Can you say "ultimate comfort food"??? This dish was amazing! The puff pastry was easy to use and the light and flaky texture was perfect with the filling. I think Chip and I were both licking the ramekins when we were done :)

I definitely recommend this book to everyone! Please check it out:

Monday, April 12, 2010

"The Polenta exploded"

Ok, the polenta didn't exactly "explode" but that's what it looked like happened on my stove. Boo! I got the water, milk and salt to a boil and was gradually stirring in the cornmeal when BAM the whole mess is boiling over and the stove is absolutely covered in cornmeal. (Mom...if you're reading this: I already cleaned up and you'd never ever know it happened! LOL) So, after a few choice words that only seem to pop out of my mouth in the kitchen and while dealing with scalding hot cornmeal/milk/mush I took the pan to a different burner and kept obediently whisking away. It was either that or clean up what I could right away and possibly ruin the entire dish. least the end result was yummy!

        Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumettes with Spinach Cheese Polenta

I got these two recipes from an awesome blog "Lick My Spoon" I had never had polenta before but had seen it in various cookbooks that I own. The god honest definition of polenta is "a thick mush made of cornmeal boiled in water or stock" Is it just me or does food described as mush tend to sound unappealing? But it was something new and different so I went ahead with it. And I really, really liked it! I don't think I could eat a ton of it, or very often but this was an excellent introduction to polenta. The spinach and melted gruyere were amazing together!

The chicken glaze is definitely a keeper as well! Honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, Balsamic Vinegar, garlic and rosemary make up the marinade which you also use as a basting glaze throughout the cooking. Very sticky and messy but oh so delicious! Please check this blog out!!

                             Cat Cora's Italian Cream Cake

For dessert I did Cat Cora's Italian Cream Cake and WOW.....I mean W-O-W. It is amazing! It is a bit more involved than a normal cake but nothing I (or anyone else for that matter) couldn't handle. It was, if you can believe it, the first time I ever "whipped egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form" And let me tell you-that's a whole lot of whipping! I felt so goofy and proud when the stiff peaks did appear though. I was TOTALLY showing off to Chip like I was hot stuff. The only thing I would do differently next time is let the cakes cool longer. The frosting in between the layers got a little runny. This morning though (no I didn't eat cake for breakfast! I sent all the leftovers with Chip to work) the layers and frosting were set quite nicely. So super rich and yummy-this will be a nice cake to pull out for special occasions :)

Here are the links!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Taco Salad

I usually can't stand ground beef. There are very few recipes that I make at home that include ground beef so whenever Chip suggests buying some this is one of the first recipes that pop in to my head. 

I like to pretend this is a healthy version of a traditional taco salad :) I suppose it is slightly better with just a handful or two of fritos versus a whole fried tortilla used as a bowl but still...

I can't remember where I found this recipe but I've been making it since Chip and I first got married. It's super easy (It's going in the 30 minute meal section of the cookbook!) I shred lettuce, layer fritos, the meat mixture (ground beef, a can of mexicorn and about 1/4 cup of the "dressing"), some olives and repeat! You then top it off with the dressing which is 1/2 cup of chili sauce, 1/2 cup of salsa, 1 T chili and 1 t cumin. So yes-I swear there is lettuce in there!

Besides it being a quick dinner I like this taco salad because it's got a kick to it. The lettuce is crunchy and noticeable which I like. In normal taco salads (like the kind you would order at a restaurant) I think the fried tortilla is just too greasy and the lettuce gets lost in all the meat and cheese. I definitely like using fritos better because it adds a little crunch and corn tortilla flavor to each bite without it being too much.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Asian Salmon Cakes with Wasabi Sesame Cream

I feel like such a slacker! I haven't cooked a meal at home since Sunday night! Chip's been sick with a sore throat and I've been sick with a stomach bug. We also didn't go grocery shopping so when Thursday rolled around and we were both eating normally again I was a bit limited with what I had on hand.

I made the Thai salmon on Sunday and luckily Chip bought more salmon than we needed. I did a little bit of searching on the internet and found this recipe. I really liked the cake part. It was made up of fresh salmon, cilantro, panko bread crumbs, mayo and an egg. The cream was a simple mix of sesame oil, mayo and wasabi paste. Next time, if there is a next time, I think I'll cut back on the sesame oil a bit. It was the strongest flavor and I think I would have enjoyed the wasabi being the strongest flavor. It would have played up the salmon better I think.

If you'd like to try out the recipe you can find it at :

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cat Cora, My snobbery and Thai Ginger Rubbed Grilled Salmon with Green Curry Sauce

When I first started watching Iron Chef I didn't like Cat Cora the first few times I saw her. Looking back now I realize I should have blamed it more on the secret ingredient being less than inspired or on the fact that her challenger was just phenomenal. But it seemed like her dishes with lacking, sloppy or they just weren't what I expected to see from an Iron Chef. I remember the first dish I ever saw her plate was a beer battered fish and chips and she tossed it in a plastic basket lined with newspaper. Kind of cute I suppose but really? On IRON CHEF? (I'd like to insert here that I am fully aware that I have nothing on Cat Cora and I do realize that a big "What do I know?" is completely acceptable here.) HOWEVER, my appreciation of Cat Cora has done a complete 180. I recently picked up her book "Cooking from the Hip" and I have loved every single recipe I've tried from it. Her food is fresh and FUN and modern without being full of barely heard of ingredients or awkward to eat arrangements. It all just tastes so good!  Ironically tonight I made another of her recipes but this time it was from a ripped out page of a magazine: Thai Ginger Rubbed Grilled Salmon with Green Curry Sauce.

Where to begin with this amazing recipe? I LOVE the fact that you do a dry rub on salmon....seriously, why hadn't I ever done this before??? And the curry sauce was amazing! Anything with coconut milk gets me excited but this was beyond amazing. The sweet with the spicy, the heat with the cool. I'll say it again: amazing! The only "downside" to this recipe is that it makes WAY too much of the curry sauce. Is that really a "downside"?

You can find this recipe/video along with some other great ones at:

This dish was very bold so I went with a simple rice pilaf and for dessert I made a fresh, light dessert called "Wonton Blossoms" Please check out the blog where I found these: Suzie the Foodie ( It's a very simple and very pretty dessert that can be filled with any type of yogurt and finished with any type of berry to fit your tastes. It was a refreshing way to end the meal.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Asparagus: Have it your way!

Asparagus is one of my favorite veggies so when Chip's grandma asked me to "do something interesting" with asparagus for our family's Easter dinner I got excited!

I decided to do three different recipes because there were going to be 15 people there and I wanted to make sure everyone at least had a chance of getting something they liked :)

I went simple with the first recipe. I did a gentle boil (more about that later) and then wrapped each spear in prosciutto. I love the flavor of the prosciutto with the fresh crunch of the asparagus!

For the second recipe I just roasted asparagus in olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Once I pulled it out I drizzled the spears with Black Truffle Oil and grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano over them.

For the third recipe I went with a recipe that I wasn't really sure if everyone would like it but it sounded interesting enough! It's an Emeril Lagasse recipe: Asparagus Salad with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette. Ok, I didn't even know walnut oil existed so that was the first thing to peak my interest. This was my favorite dish of the day. It's a simple enough recipe but a very tasty one. I did another quick, gentle boil on the spears. The vinaigrette is minced shallot, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, white wine vinegar, canola oil and walnut oil. You toss the spears in the dressing and garnish with toasted walnuts and fresh parsley. The nutty flavor from the walnut oil and then, of course, from the toasted walnuts themselves went so well with the asparagus. This is definitely a keeper :)

Tips for asparagus:

The "gentle boil" method: I actually just learned this method while looking up random facts about asparagus while planning what recipes to make. If you are using medium to thin spears you can layer them in a glass baking dish (You can double up the layers but don't pack the dish full-the spears will need a little room to move around) and pour boiling water over the spears. Let them sit in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes or until a fork just pierces the spear. This is a GREAT way to prepare asparagus. The spears turn a vibrant, beautiful green and they turn out perfectly crisp tender.

Don't forget to snap off the woody, tough end of the spear. Instead of trying to guess where to cut the asparagus simple take the spear in your hands and gently bend the asparagus until it snaps. It will snap where it naturally goes from being tender to tough. It may look like you're wasting quite a bit of the asparagus but it just isn't good to eat a tough piece of asparagus!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Butterscotch Spiral Coffee Cake = Good Saturday morning!

YUM YUM YUM. If you're a fan of butterscotch that is. The dough has some really nice spices in it: cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon but the butterscotch glaze is the front-and-center flavor here.

I had a lot of fun making this cake. Mainly because I love "just-because" baking but also because I love messing with dough. This dough needs to rise in two different stages: the first, in just a kneaded dough form and again as the assembled spiraled cake. The only thing I would do differently next time is to wrap the coils a little looser. The middle of my cake popped up quite a bit and I had to do some rework as soon as it came out the oven so it wouldn't be lopsided :)

Gooey, butterscotchey, cakey goodness. What better way to start the weekend??

The recipe can be found in Food & Wine's Best of the Best Volume 12 or in Baking for all Occasions by Flo Braker!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Salmon over Pea Puree with Lemon Brodetto Drizzle

OH MY GOODNESS. I think I made obscene noises after each bite of this awesome dinner. It's gorgeous, delicious and simple. It tasted like summertime in my mouth! The pea puree is mint, peas, garlic and olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper. The brodetto is lemon juice, lemon zest, chicken broth and olive oil with chopped mint leaves stirred in at the end. I opted to just drizzle the fish with the brodetto instead of filling the bottom of the bowl with it. I tasted it before assembling the plates and decided the lemon flavor was great but strong. Start to finish this took me 25 minutes.

This recipe is from one of my new favorites: Food & Wine's Best of the Best. Volume 12. You can also find the recipe at:

Spicy Chicken in Lettuce Cups

This dinner was quick, easy and super tasty! The chicken is marinated in a soy, ginger, chicken broth and cornstarch mixture. The chicken is then added to a skillet with red peppers, green onion, ginger and garlic. At the end I tossed in some chopped cilantro and some toasted sesame oil. Delicious! Chip said it was like eating a chinese taco :)

I found this recipe in Delicious Living Magazine....apparently. I don't remember ever having this magazine but I ripped out the recipe at some point. Might be worth looking into!

You can find the recipe at :


Monday, March 29, 2010

Gemelli with Fresh Tomatoes and Pesto

So because my last post felt so lame I thought I'd write about a recipe that I LOVE. I got this pasta dish off of "Poor Girl Gourmet" It's an absolutely delicious blog that I beg you to go check out! AND she's got her first cookbook coming out May 18th!

This recipe is fantastically fresh tasting. Super easy it's only got a handful of ingredients. Until this recipe I didn't even know gemelli pasta existed but I highly recommend using this pasta (instead of substituting a different kind in) because the shape is perfect for catching bits of pesto and tomato. I've made it both with fresh, store-bought pesto and homemade pesto and both ways turned out incredible. I love Trader Joe's Pesto if I'm pressed for time and can't make my own. And, trust me, this cheese is totally worth looking for-it provides the perfect finish of flavors for this dish!

The recipe:

1 pound gemelli pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped and seeded***
1/2 cup basil pesto
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Bring a large pot slightly salted  water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. NOTE: You'll be using 1/2 cup of the pasta water so don't drain before reserving the liquid!!

Once you've added the pasta to the boiling water begin to heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add tomatoes and continue cooking until softened and a sauce begins to form. If your pasta isn't done at this point you'll want to remove the tomato sauce from the heat so that it doesn't get mushy.

When your pasta is done, drain (AFTER reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid) and add to tomato mixture along with 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in the pesto and salt and pepper to taste. Top with grated cheese.

***I like to use cherry tomatoes for this recipe. They seem to have an extra little flavor that I love with the pesto. I cut them into quarters, seed them and then throw them into the food processor where I whirl them around for a few seconds and they turn out lovely!

Campfire Bundles

 Prepare to be utterly underwhelmed. Both by this recipe and by this post. This recipe is from "Taste of Home: Backyard Grilling" and I've come to the conclusion that this is just a lame cookbook. The idea is great. Pretty simple recipes (all on the grill) with lots of tips and tricks sprinkled in. Unfortunately every recipe we've tried out of it has been classified as "ok" or "decent but won't be making it again" After tonight's dinner I think I'll give up on this book and just trade it in to Bookman's.

So the dinner was, you guessed it, OK. It was polish sausage, cabbage, three kinds of peppers, onion, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes all chopped up and wrapped up in foil and thrown on the grill. The root veggies turned out perfect but the peppers were verging on mushy. One thing I did like about it was that each of the veggies flavors really stood out. It was a simple, earthy kind of meal. Meat and potatoes.  So, our ruling was "decent but won't be making it again"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

London Broil, Roasted Tomato Risotto and Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

So tonight's menu was London Broil on the grill, a Roasted Tomato Risotto and corn on the cob. (Dessert to follow) With our London Broil we grill it in one piece with a dry rub. We leave it pretty rare in the very center but because of how the meat is cut the ends always end up more on the side of medium to well-done. We love using this cut of meat for larger groups of people as it offers something for everyone.

On the side I made a Roasted Tomato Risotto. I found this recipe in one of my new favorite cookbooks: Simple Pleasures by Alfred Portale. This cookbook is AMAZING and we have loved everything we've tried so far. But more about the book later.

I've never actually made a risotto before so I was a tiny bit nervous. I know that the texture is key and if you aren't careful it can get mushy instead of creamy. Luckily this recipe had some great tips worked into the directions and our risotto turned out beautifully! I love anything that is made with all fresh ingredients so when I saw that you first had to roast the tomatoes for the recipe I got excited. White wine, chicken stock, heavy cream, fresh herbs and BACON make this dish absolutely DELICIOUS. There is only 2 ounces of slab bacon in the whole recipe but it adds such a nice depth to the flavor-you really can't leave it out and have it turn out as flavorful.

And for the dessert! Another cookbook that I'm hooked on lately is Food & Wine's Best of the Best Volume 12. These Peanut Butter Crispy Bars come from the cookbook Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. These are pretty much rice crispy treats for grownups. A candied layer of rice crispy cereal, a milk chocolate/peanut butter layer and a top layer of dark chocolate makes for a super rich and delicious treat. And when I say rich, I mean RICH. These are made in an 8 x 8 pan and it's recommended to make 9 servings but I couldn't finish my whole piece...I wanted to but I stopped before I hurt myself :)

One thing that was re-enforced for me in this recipe was that your gut is sometimes just as important as the recipe. I was making the corn syrup/sugar/water mixture (to later mix with the dry cereal for the bottom level) and I had my little candy thermometer all set up and ready to go but the mixture just wasn't getting up to the temperature it was supposed to. I had a feeling I should pull it off because it LOOKED right but I decided since I'd never tried the recipe before I'd stick it out. Well, about two seconds after I finished that thought my mixture burned. In two seconds flat!!! Luckily I had enough corn syrup to make a new batch. This time I kept the candy thermometer just because but when I felt that it was time to pull it off, I pulled it off and it was perfect even though, according to the thermometer, I still had 20 degrees to go.The next two layers were super simple and as long as you use high quality chocolate they turn out amazingly creamy and delicious.

I'll definitely be making these again :)

Chip and Geri

Hello all! We are Chip and Geri Schnarr. I (Geri) will be doing most of the cooking and all of the blogging but Chip helps me out in the kitchen most nights and is truly a grill master :)

This blog came about because I've decided to go through all of my cookbooks, actually try all the dog-eared recipes and then, after a year of trying new recipes, put all of the amazing ones into one cookbook. (It's really my sneaky way of being able to get more cookbooks after a year)

We LOVE food. Well, Chip mostly loves eating the food and I love absolutely everything about food. Where it comes from, the creative process, and of course the eating! In this blog I'll be posting all of our kitchen endeavors, the results and our thoughts on the recipes. Because it would take a ridiculous amount of time I won't be typing out all the recipes but I'll let you know where I found them and if there are any that you absolutely must have I'll be happy to email it to you!

We hope you enjoy this "journey" as much as we do!