December 22, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I will completely confess that I had never, ever tried Brussels Sprouts until last year.  My parents didn't like them, and they kindly didn't want to inflict their children with them.  Then came this recipe.  So simple and delicious.

Elizabeth's Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 to 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
Olive Oil
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
1 tsp fine sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse and remove the stalk of the sprout.  Coat a black iron skillet with cooking spray and add the sprouts.  Gently toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar. Toss well to insure complete coverage.  Cover the pan with foil and roast for 20 minutes, uncover and roast for an additional 30.  Remove from oven, toss & serve.

You could do these on a cookie sheet as well & I have used Truvia instead of sugar as well.
Nice dinner of grilled lamb chops, whipped potatoes, & roasted Brussels Sprouts

December 21, 2010

Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

There is nothing like our curb market at Christmas time.  The wreathes, garland and poinsettias are amazing.  It could definitely put even old Ebeneezer into the Christmas spirit! 
In addition to a new wreath for the front door & a kissing ball for the den, I picked up the hot pepper jelly for our Christmas Day brie, peach preserves for our Christmas Eve ham, and a Brunswick stew starter for the Sunday after Christmas (can't believe it is already the 21st).

Keeping with the Christmas traditional red and green I give you my take on the classic asparagus dip.

Asparagus & Roasted Red Pepper Dip
1 can asparagus, drained well
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
4 slices of prosciutto, chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash of hot sauce
1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Drain asparagus well, add to mixing bowl & mash with a fork.  Add all ingredients except for 1/2 cup of Parmesan to the asparagus and mix well.  Transfer to a small baking dish, top with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes or till it is hot and bubbly.  Serve with Ritz crackers &/or fresh veggies and enjoy!
Red & Green - festive!!!

December 12, 2010

First Tastes of Christmas and French Friday Cookies

Most weekends in December we start off either Saturday or Sunday with this Sausage and Jalapeno Casserole.  I came across its inspiration in a Southern Living years ago.  There was a large spread on holiday cocktail party ideas which included jalapeno bites (or something like that).  That recipe lead to this recipe & hope you enjoy!

Sausage Jalapeno Casserole
serves 4 or double for 8
6 oz sausage, cooked & crumbled
2 tbs diced jalapenos
3 eggs
1/3 cup 1/2 & 1/2
1/2 cup shredded Jack Cheese or Mexican Blend
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper
Salsa & sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a pie plate sprayed with cooking spray add the sausage and jalapenos to the bottom of the dish, toss together and spread evenly.  Whisk together the eggs, 1/2 & 1/2, garlic powder, Salt & Pepper.  Cover the sausage and jalapenos with the egg mixture & top with cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Serve with salsa and sour cream as optional toppings.

This week's French Fridays with Dorie I choose to make Speculoos. 

They are a gingerbread type cookie and they went over very well.  The dough was very fragile, and for some reason I froze it (don't ask).  I did decide to treat these more as a wafer rather than a cookie by cutting the dough into strips and made small rectangle treats (with  my pizza cutter - very easy).  I also topped my version with sparkling white sugar to add a little more sweetness to the spice.  Overall very yummy & perfect coffee or tea treat.
At this point I am almost completely decorated for Christmas.  We do multiple trees around here - 2 real and several fakes.  Here is a little tour of how things are looking so far...
Family Room
Family Room at night
Dining Room

Living Room

Our bedroom & our watch dogs
Breakfast Room Tree

December 6, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice

This is the perfect Sunday Supper for a rainy, cold evening.  It is too thick to be a soup and too thin to be a casserole - we can go with a stew maybe?  Anyway serve it with crusty bread, biscuits, or crescent rolls & enjoy!!!

Chicken and Wild Rice
1 onions diced
2 cups quartered baby carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 6oz box Long Grain & Wild Rice
2 1/2 cups shredded chicken, rotisserie is perfect
7 1/4 cups Chicken Broth
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup sherry
Hot Sauce
Parsley & Parmesan Cheese

In a stockpot add onion, celery, carrots & olive oil, saute for about 10 minutes.  Add 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil, add bay leaf and garlic & simmer for about 35 minutes.  The point here is to really soften the veggies.   Remove the bay leaf & add rice and seasoning packet & 2 1/4 cups of broth, bring back to a boil & reduce to a simmer for about 35 minutes (until you can really see the rice & liquid has cooked down).  Add sherry, chicken, 1 1/2 cups of broth and hot sauce & boil down for about 20 minutes.  Serve topped with touch of chopped parsley & Parmesan cheese.

Leftovers are wonderful too!

December 4, 2010

Tree Trimming on a French Friday

Sweet & Spicy Cocktail Pecans
Especially this time of year I love to have tasty treats before dinner, it seems as if we always have a little something to do before. Tonight it was testing the lights for the big tree in our den.  Lights for this tree are always a bit of a conversation. Color & bulb size are discussed beyond reason - so long story short we are trying something different this year - warm white C5 bulbs with strands of C3 green and C3 red (if you even understand the bulb size lingo you are my friend for life).  For a little tree trimming inspiration I whipped up a batch of Christmas Princes (not to be confused with Christmas Princesses) and French Fridays with Dorie's sweet and spicy nuts.  I choose pecans and they turned out very yummy.  The kitchen smelled wonderful - so I would definitely recommend throwing these together right before guests arrive.  The recipe is very similar to the Ritz Carlton's Spiced Pecans I posted in October.  Both would be wonderful hostess gifts. 

Another holiday Champagne treat...

Christmas Prince
1 bottle Champagne
3 cups Grapefruit Juice
1 cup Ginger ale
1 cup fresh raspberries

In a pitcher add the champagne, then juice, and finally ginger ale, allowing each layer to sit for a minute before adding the next.  Top off with raspberries.  You can also mix up individually & these make nice brunch drinks.

This treat came about on one of my favorite Christmas Eve's - it was my nephew's first Christmas. My husband & I had been asked to help his parents get ready for Santa's first visit after a big dinner at my parents.  My husband through together a punch and hence we have the Christmas Prince (the names are just silly & meant to be so).  Champagne cocktails are so versatile & many of our creations have literally come from throwing together what was in the fridge.  
Side note the Christmas Princess was named such because she is definitely a lighter cocktail due to the type of juices.  Hope you enjoy!!!

December 2, 2010

A Winter Wonderland for Thanksgiving

It was a totally different world than anything I was used to.  We spent the week of Thanksgiving in Truckee, California.  We arrived in a blizzard & left in the snowfall. You know it really is a big deal when the locals are telling you that even they were not prepared for this kind of weather. The area is unbelievably gorgeous & pictures don't do it justice, but here are a few.

Blizzard in action

Picture perfect
25 miles around Lake Tahoe & up to the top of Mt. Watson (8,200 ft)

The morning after the blizzard
The clouds filling the valley

The 1st bloody Mary of the trip (running joke in our family)

A true Winter Wonderland

December 1, 2010

Kitchen Reveal & Christmas Princess Cocktail

I love this idea - Penny from Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen has proclaimed December 1st as the "Kitchen Reveal Day"!!!  So without further ado - here is my kitchen:
View from the Fridge - our kitchen and breakfast room.  And yes that is Beauregard wearing a jacket.

My sink, prep space & little "communication corner".  Did you know Julia Child even had a "communication corner" in her kitchen.  My tiny TV is on a lazy Susan - so it can be seen from almost every angle.
View into the kitchen from the back door, our laundry room is to the left & has a sliding door to block it off when needed
My predominant prep space - so much easier right next to the stove
View from the laundry room
Sorry the pictures are so dark - we had some massive storms last night & I couldn't find the correct balance.

Now for a holiday treat...

Christmas Princess 
1 bottle of champagne
1 bottle of cranberry, pomegranate juice
Frozen cranberries

You can do an entire punch bowl or prepare per glass.  Regardless the proportions are the same 2 counts champagne to 1 count juice.  Pour the champagne & then the juice and serve with frozen berries. 
I often use the Diet Ocean Spray Cranberry Pomegranate Juice Cocktail.  It is even easier if you use the split bottles (small bottles which are 1/4th the size of a regular bottle of champagne).  Hope you enjoy!!!

November 21, 2010

Holiday Hens

Beauregard is in my lap "Helping" me type -so please overlook any typos.  Around my house we are celebrating Thanksgiving early.  With it just being the two of us - even a turkey breast can be overwhelming - so our new dish is Cornish game hens.  After several off the cuff attempts, I finally consulted an expert and I think the results are solid - we loved them!!!  I served the hens with golden broccoli gratin & a classic cornbread dressing.

Knight's Holiday Hens 

2 1&1/2 to 2 lb Cornish Game Hens
Salt & Pepper
Zatarain's Seasoning
2 Lemons
2 Oranges
1 cup chicken broth
4 Tablespoons Orange marmalade
1/2 cup cranberries

Light half of your grill to medium high heat - allow it to warm for at least 20 minutes & let birds sit at room temperature for this time.  Peel one orange and segment half of it into small parts. Slice one lemon in half and cut into small slices.  Stuff cavity of hens with orange and lemon slices. Heavily season hens with salt, pepper & Zatarain's seasoning.  Place hens on the unlit side of the grill & roast indirectly for around an hour - continuously check to make sure hens are in indirect heat.  In the meantime place the other halves of the orange & lemon - roughly chopped in a sauce pan with cranberries, chicken broth & 2 tablespoons of marmalade - bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer ( I do this when the hens have been on the grill for 40 minutes - allowing 20 minutes of cooking time) add the other 2 tablespoons of marmalade and remove from heat.  Allow to cool slightly.  Turn grill to lowest setting and lather the hens in the sauce - you need to leave the hens on the grill for 15 minutes - basting them every 5 minutes with the sauce.  Slice the other orange and lemon and cover your serving platter - place hens directly on platter from the grill and allow them to rest, tented for 10 minutes & then enjoy!!!

From my family to yours - Happy Thanksgiving!!!

November 20, 2010

Simple Fettuccine Alfredo

I promise this will be my last pasta recipe for a while. I am sharing before I start our Thanksgiving dinner (which I will post tomorrow).  It is my husband's favorite dish and actually made for a simple weeknight meal on a rainy, dreary night.

Simple Fettuccine Alfredo
1 lb cooked fettuccine, keep warm
4 tablespoons butter, I use light Smart Balance with olive oil
1 cup 1/2 &1/2, I use fat free
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
Flat leaf Italian parsley, torn

Prepare pasta and keep warm.  Melt butter in large skillet, add 1/2 & 1/2, bring to a light simmer & remove from heat.  Add lemon juice, fresh black pepper, red pepper flakes, & whisk together.  Add pasta, cover with cheese & toss well.  Serve topped with a touch of cheese and parsley.

There are so many things you could add at this point, any type of meat, spinach, peas, tomatoes...

Seafood Casserole

This is my take on a traditional crab imperial as a pasta one pot supper. It is a very good casual entertaining dish.  I would serve it directly from the dutch oven on the dinner table.  Also please note - you need at least 2 hours to marinate the seafood.   

Lara's Seafood Casserole
1 lb shrimp, cooked & chopped
1/2 lb crab meat
1 onion, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup sherry
3 green onions, sliced
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup 1/2 & 1/2
4 tbs butter
1 cup cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper
Red pepper flakes
1 lb fettuccine
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of  Lemon juice

Combine shrimp and crab meat, add lemon juice & 2 tablespoons of sherry, toss and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Cook fettuccine and keep warm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a dutch oven, saute onion and mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of butter under tender. Add remaining sherry, butter & 1/2 &1/2, allow butter to melt, add seafood & mix.  Take off the heat, mix in fettuccine, sour cream, parmesean, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.  Bake uncovered for 30 - 40 minutes (until bubbly), remove from oven, top with the other 1/2 cup cheddar, & bake another 10 minutes or until cheese has completely melted.  Remove, top with green onions, cover and let sit about 10 minutes.  Serve with a crusty bread and nice chardonnay. Makes wonderful leftover!!!

November 12, 2010

Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux on French Fridays

This week's selection for the French Fridays with Dorie cooking club was the roast chicken for les paresseux (roasted chicken for lazy people).  It was a perfect Tuesday night supper.  The thing about this recipe is it is so simple, you prep the chicken (all of ten minutes) and then put it in the over for 90 minutes.  It is so simple that I felt weird. 
I did add a quartered lemon & some flat leaf parsley to the cavity.  The really unique thing about this dish is that the bird is roasted on top of slices of bread. I took half of a baguette & sliced it long ways.  I rested the breast portion over the thickest portion of the bread.  Oh wow - the bread really is the chef's treat.  Crunchy and delicious.  I even made it lazier and skipped adding the veggies to the pot and fixed fingerling potatoes with thyme & reheated our left over peas with pancetta.  

November 7, 2010

Peas with Pancetta & First French Friday with Dorie

I have joined the French Fridays with Dorie cooking group.  Every month four recipes from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table are chosen, you prep them, blog about your results on Friday (hopefully this is the only time I break the rules) and read the results of others.  One stipulation is that you can not post the recipe; however after going through this book several times I can honestly say buy a copy - it is amazing. This week I choose Dorie's potato gratin.  It is sinfully delicious!!!
Dorie's Potato Gratin with Swiss cheese & thyme crust
We enjoyed the gratin with grilled fillets, Bearnaise sauce and peas with pancetta.  The peas are inspired by Ina Garten's recipe from her new cookbook. I  took it in another direction - hope you enjoy.

Peas with Pancetta
1 pound snap peas or snow peas
1/4 pound pancetta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Champagne Vinegar
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Slice pancetta and brown in saute pan with a tablespoon of water.  When done transfer to plate with paper towels to absorb grease, cool, crumble and set aside.  Remove the strings from the beans.  I used a mix of sugar snaps and Chinese snow.  Saute peas with oil and vinegar over medium low heat for about 25 minutes.  Taste for doneness (trust me you will know).  Add pancetta and pepper, toss well and allow pancetta to warm up.  Add Parmesan cheese and serve 
The peas will turn more of a brownie green, but they are delicious. My picky husband loved them & the gratin!  I think I am going to see what the gratin tastes like cold...

November 6, 2010

Sauteed Vegetable Frittata & My 1st Go With Pastry Dough

It has been quite a week for deliveries around here - amazing concert tickets for my husband's birthday, my copy of Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table, a signed copy of Ina Garten's How Easy is That, and my new beautiful oval Le Creuset dutch ovens.   I have wanted these since I was a child.  I fell in love with them watching the Huxtables cook on The Cosby Show.  Then the Food Network came along - every single chef had them & in so many colors.  Now I have mine - is it sad to be this obsessed with cookware?
3 1/2 quart and 5 quart Oval Dutch Ovens
We typically only have 2 meals on Saturday and Sunday, with a great snack in between.  This weekend's snacks are a tiny cheese ball from our local steak shop & savory palmiers.  Last night I attempted Cleo Coyle's Italian Easter Pie Palmiers.  I say attempted because I need much more help with pastry dough!  They taste awesome, but they don't look anything like they are suppose to.
My 1st attempt at Savory Palmiers

These are worth getting right, because they will make an amazing Holiday appetizer. Please give them ago!

This morning I fixed a sauteed vegetable frittata inspired by Ina Garten's Roasted Vegetable Frittata.  Here is my quicker, lighter version. 

Sauteed Veggie Frittata, serves 6
1 zucchini, small dice
1/2 red onion, small dice
1 orange pepper, small dice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, pepper & red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon butter
6 eggs
1/2 cup 1/2 & 1/2, I used fat free
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Gouda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Saute onion, pepper & zucchini in olive oil for about 10 minutes over medium high heat. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Add minced garlic and saute for another minute or two.  Add butter and remove from heat, mix in melted butter. Whisk 6 eggs & 1/2 & 1/2 with touch of salt and pepper, stir in Parmesan cheese.  Add sauteed mix to the bottom of a pie plate that is coated with cooking spray, pour egg mixture over evenly.  Bake in oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until frittata is set (just move it gently in the oven, when it doesn't jiggle it is ready), remove and top with grated Gouda.  Put back in the oven for about 2 -3 minutes - just so cheese melts.  Remove from oven, slice as a pie and serve.

I am spending the rest of the day with my kindle reading Cleo Coyle's latest - Holiday Grind.  Her coffee house mystery series is wonderful - check them out.

November 1, 2010

Shrimp & Wild Rice Casserole

Sunday Brunch -  Lobster Mac & Cheese, champagne cocktail & roses from our garden
This weekend was one of indulgent eating.  Some meals were planned and others not.  We have been so good lately; however an exhausting Friday lead to take out Chinese.  After a sleepless Friday night due to bad dreams triggered from the Chinese food I was too exhausted to roast sweet potatoes & work on a veal recipe Saturday night.  A spinach pizza from ole Father John's came to the rescue.  Sunday was going to be different - no giving in or coping out.  Husband was in NY and I was fixing my favorites that he won't eat! 65 minutes of tough cardio (while watching Halloween 2) started the day off right.  I enjoyed a brunch, pictured above, of Lobster Mac & Cheese & a pomegranate champagne cocktail. I finished the day the way I planned with my Shrimp & Wild Rice Casserole.  Nice to follow through with my actual intentions!  Hope you enjoy & Happy November!!!

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole
6 oz box Long Grain Wild Rice
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 pound of shrimp, cooked & peeled
1 cup chopped onions
8 oz Crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Zatarans
1 tsp hot sauce
3 Tablespoons Sherry
3/4 cup sour cream, I used light
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, divided

Cook rice according to box's directions, however cook in broth rather than water.  When rice has about 15 minutes left saute onions over medium high heat, add Worcestershire sauce, Zataran's, dash of pepper.  If onions get too dry add some cooking spray or butter.  After about 10 minutes add mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of sherry.  Cook over medium high for 5 minutes and turn eye off.  Check rice - you want it to still have a little moisture & remove from heat.  Add butter to the mushrooms & onions, allow it to melt and cool.  Add rice to the mushrooms & onions, mix well, add Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese, and hot sauce.  Let it rest a bit (5 to 10 minutes).  Add shrimp, sour cream and remaining sherry - mix well.  At this point you can cover, refrigerate and bake later or put right in the oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, add to an 8 x 8 baking dish and cook uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes (should be bubbly & cheese has melted).  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and crusty bread .

October 28, 2010

Autumn Roasting Racks

Back in August I gave you my Summer Roasting Rack & let you know that I do change them up for the seasons.  So here is my version for autumn. Hope you Enjoy!

Autumn Roasting Rack
4 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch carrots, peeled & quartered
1 lb fingerling potatoes, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
1 cup black olives, halved
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
S & P
1 tablespoon of Herbs de Provence 
Drizzle of Olive oil

Mix all together in the bottom of your roasting pan.  Place a 5 lb bird on top of the rack with the skin seasoned with olive oil, S&P, & Herbs De Provence and stuffed with a quartered lemon or two and as much garlic as you want. Roast at 425 degrees for an hour and a half. Put the bird on the carving board & let the bird rest, tented for about 20 minutes before you carve.  Taste test veggies, give them a good toss and adjust seasonings as needed.  Put back in cooled oven to keep warm.  Serve veggies on the side.

October 24, 2010

Artichoke & Feta Relish Served with Salmon

A friend recently asked if I had any ideas for using up a bunch of feta cheese, and I remembered this recipe.  I came up with it it in college to jazz up salmon for a dinner with friends.    I was having 4 people for supper, got a great deal on the fish, but wanted to step it up. I came up with this to top the seared salmon.
On a very thin budget you can get pretty creative.

Artichoke & Feta Relish
1 14 oz can of Artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
4 green onions, sliced (use about 3/4 of the onion)
4 oz Tomato Basil Feta
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Saute the green onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat for around 5 minutes, add the artichoke hearts and saute another 5 minutes, remove from the the heat, add the cheese and toss with other tablespoon of olive oil.  Set aside to cool.  Serve with salmon.  Keep leftovers in an air tight container in fridge - they won't last long. It is wonderful cold too!

My Lunch - Salmon with Artichoke Relish and Savory Sweet Potatoes
The salmon above is a salmon fillet seasoned with lemon pepper and seared in hot frying pan coated in cooking spray.  Serve the salmon on top of sauteed spinach with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing over top of the fish.  Add relish and serve.  Small fillets make a wonderful lunch! 

The relish is also wonderful over chicken, and can be served hot or cold as a dip. My friend that brought this recipe back to me even used it as a filling for a sandwich.  Hope you enjoy!