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 :