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!

October 22, 2010

An evening with Norman Bates...

It is scary how fast time flies. A month or two ago we found out that the oldest movie theater in our town was going to be playing Psycho (hate that I have to even say the original, but I will).  I noted it & to my surprise it actually fit into our schedules.  Last night we realized how long it had been since we had even been out and about in town, just us.  We had a great meal on the patio at El Rey's Burrito Lounge. We enjoyed Queso Del Rey, margaritas, chardonnay, chicken and steak tacos. Followed by the Hitchcock classic on the big screen.  It was fun to watch this movie with an audience, & the old theater was the perfect place.   The Capri Theater typically hosts the independent film circuit. They will also throw in some classics for one night only, like last night.  Seeing  them on the big screen really does take the classics to another level.  It feels good to support local resources & grateful to those who work so hard to preserve our local landmarks.
A little Queso Del Rey never hurt anyone & vino served from a beaker - definitely original!

October 18, 2010

Fancy Wild Rice

This dish screams Fall. I think it would be perfect for Thanksgiving, and went wonderfully with the Roasted Orange Cornish Game hens & grilled broccoli the other night.  Hope you Enjoy.

Fancy Wild Rice, serves 3 to 4
1 6 ounce box of  Long Grain & Wild Rice, classic recipe (not instant)
2 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup golden raisins
Dash of Herbs de Provence

Cook rice according to package, however use chicken broth rather than water and 1 tablespoon of butter.  When there are only ten minutes remaining for the rice melt the other tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan and toast almonds.  When rice is done add to the saute pan, with raisins and herbs de Provence, toss well & serve.

The golden raisins are sweet and perfect with the toasted buttery crunch of the almonds.  It takes the rice to a different level.  Next time I think I may go with more almonds and raisins (1/3 cup each) & maybe top with a touch of chopped parsley. Didn't know how my husband would react to the dish, but he loved it. Would be perfect with grilled chicken, fruit marinated chicken dish, or roasted turkey.

October 17, 2010

Michael's Italian Meatloaf & October Roses

This time of year I would start to allow my roses to go dormant. After the horrid summer my roses looked as if they were completely fried. However, Friday I noticed things had changed - the rose garden looked like it was April. We may have to wait until 2011 to go dormant...
Rock 'N Roll
Dolly Parton in front of Voluptuous (total accident, but pretty funny)
OK - Meatloaf was something I never had growing up.  I always thought of Randy from "A Christmas Story" pushing his food around, singing about how much he hates meatloaf!  This point of view was completely changed when I was introduced to Italian Meatloaf by Michael Chiarello.  Wow this is an amazingly perfect comfort food for a cool evening. Here is my  take on his delicious dish & it deserves a better name than meatloaf in my opinion.

Italian Meatloaf
Inspired by Michael Chiarello
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons sherry
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 Crimini mushroom caps, diced
2 teaspoons diced garlic
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumb
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil & parsley
2 eggs
1 1/4 lbs extra lean ground beef
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
Salt & Pepper
1 cup of marinara
2 tablespoons of sliced black olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove beef from fridge and allow to sit at room temperature while you prep.  Saute diced onion, pepper, & mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat, add garlic & salt and pepper, saute until slightly dry, add butter and sherry - allow to reduce.  Once the onions and peppers are soft, remove from heat, add to a plate (include liquid) and allow to cool in the freezer.
In the meantime add all other ingredients to a bowl, except the Marinara and olives. Add the cooled peppers, mushrooms, and onions & mix together.  On a large, greased dish add the mixture and shape into a loaf.  Combine the marinara and olives & spread over the top of the mixture.  Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes (just check that the meat reaches at least 160 degrees).  Remove from oven and let rest for about ten minutes before serving.  I served with smashed red potatoes, green beans (for him) & English peas (for me).
Top each serving with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Hope you enjoy - heads up the leftovers are even better!  Also check out Michael's store Napa Style - I have gotten some of my favorite things & gifts there.

October 14, 2010

Firehouse Grilled Chicken

Wonderful grilled chicken - OK. Wonderful grilled chicken without marinading???  Now you have my attention!  This recipe is my from my friend Jamie who got it from his brother in law, Josh (who is a fireman - hence the name).  All I can say is simple &  tastes amazing!

Firehouse Grilled Chicken
4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
3 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 heaping tsp Zatarain's creole seasoning
Pound chicken breast out, medium thickness.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add vinegar & Zatarain's, mix well
Heat grill to medium heat, add chicken, cook around ten minutes and turn, brush warm side with mixture, keep up the flipping and brushing until chicken is done - take off grill, poor 1 tablespoon of melted butter over top and tent for 10 minutes - serve. The butter make the outside crispy. Simple and amazing!!!  Serve with bread because you will be lapping up the drippings!!!

This is Beauregard, my kitchen helper, all decked out in his Halloween t-shirt.  If I am cooking in my kitchen he is sure to be right by my side!!!

October 10, 2010

Tomato Soup, 2 ways

First off here is my dining room table in decoration progress - a little too dark for my taste but I am trying to lighten it up.
Now on to food.  In my daily life I bounce recipe ideas for my family off members of the Hill Family.  We know what they eat & they know what we eat - so well we even make modifications for the other family's preferences.  I thought it would be interesting to see how different our versions of the same recipe would be. Two things you must keep in mind here - the Hills are also feeding children & my husband is a very picky eater in ways Jennifer's is not and vice versa.  So my modifications are more of an adaptation for my husband's palate and not a correction to anyone's creations.  The following is Jennifer Hill's recipe for Tomato Soup and then there is my version of tomato soup. You deserve both!!! (Jen - I hope you don't mind me posting it).

Jennifer Hill's Tomato Soup with Cheddar Cheese Dumplings
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 block of cheddar, diced
1 can Grands biscuits
Salt & Pepper
Bring tomatoes, butter, 14 ounces of water, salt and pepper to a boil.  During this time open biscuits, separate and quarter each.  Add a piece of cheese to each quartered biscuit and roll into a ball encasing the cheese. Once all cheddar dumplings are rolled, add cream to soup and bring to a boil, then add dumplings the to the soup, bring to a boil again and then turn down to medium.  Watch soup, once the dough is done you will see the cheese start to ooze a little - they are ready - serve & enjoy!!!

My version of Jennifer Hill's Tomato Soup
Lara's Tomato Basil Soup (totally ripped off from Jennifer Hill)
1 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 14.5 oz can tomatoes w/ chilies, drained
3 tablespoons butter
8 medium Basil leaves, thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper - heavy on both
1 cup fat free 1/2 & 1/2
3 slices crispy turkey bacon, diced
2 oz Parmesan cheese mixed with 1 tsp of Italian seasoning
Warm loaf of garlic bread
Mix first 5 ingredients together and bring to a boil, let simmer for 15 minutes, add half & half, bring back to a boil & reduce to low - let sit for another 5 minutes or so.  Serve topped with crumbled bacon and seasoned Parmesan cheese accompanied by warm garlic bread.

The soup was awesome, can only imagine how heavenly it would be with the Cheddar Dumplings!!!  Also both are perfect fall work night dinners!  Thank you Jen!!!  Please enjoy both!!!

October 9, 2010

An October Saturday Night with Hitchcock

For the next month they have opened a farmers market right down from our house.  I couldn't be happier.  Before hitting the gym this morning I ran by and picked up beautiful pumpkins, sunflowers, Seneca Indian ornamental corn, & papaya squash.  I wish I had picked up some greens and a green pumpkin!  Oh well - next week.  My hubby is with the rest of my family participating in The Run for the Cure & I had to stay home and work all day on tax returns - pity party underway. However tonight I am attempting to perfect a classic rack of lamb by Cleo Coyle and prepping my take on Tzatziki.  The link for the the lamb provides perfect instruction & the site is very entertaining! This site also ties the lamb into one of my favorite episodes of Alfred Hitchcock - perfect for a Saturday night in October!!!  To accompany the lamb I am roasting asparagus & fixing an Autumn Endive Salad with a homemade lemon vinaigrette.

Autumn Endive Salad, serves 4
4 heads of Belgium endive, chopped
1 large Honey Crisp Apple, cored, chopped
1/3 cup of spiced pecans, crumbled
2 ozs crumbled Blue Cheese
1/4 cup Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Combine endive, apple & vinaigrette, toss.  Plate on 4 salad plates and top with blue cheese crumbles & spiced pecans.  Drizzle the tiniest bit of dressing over top & serve immediately.

Lemon Vinaigrette, at least 8 servings
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon local honey
3 cranks fresh black pepper
2 cranks Mediterranean Sea Salt

Combine all ingredients in a small mason jar, tightly close, shake vigorously and refrigerate for at least two hours before prepping salad.  Refrigerate the remaining - good for about 2 weeks.  This dressing is very tart and is perfect against sweet  fruits and cheeses.  Had the most amazing Brie and fig salad with this vinaigrette - wonderful!

Dill Tzatziki, at least 6 servings*
1 cup sour cream
1/2 English cucumber
1/4 teaspoon garlic paste
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon minced dill
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 cranks black pepper

Grate the cucumber with a box grater.  Spread thinly on a plate, salt well with Mediterranean Sea Salt & let it sit about 5 minutes.  Squeeze the water out of the cucumber and add to mixing bowl.  Add other ingredients, mix well & refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving with the lamb. I know most people swear by a mint sauce or chutney with their lamb, but I am more of a tart verses sweet kind of girl.  Also, lamb is sweet itself (why many don't enjoy this meat) so I prefer a mustard, red wine reduction or this dill tzatziki. If I were hosting a dinner party I would serve several (probably small amounts of all) of these options.  This sauce is also wonderful with salmon & in a tuna salad instead of mayonnaise. Can keep for at least a week in the fridge.
*Easily double or triple if needed

OK last thing for today while I am waiting for the lamb to come to room temperature & the lemon dressing and tzatziki to refrigerate - here is the recipe for the spiced pecans I love, courtesy of the chef at the Ritz Carlton at Reynolds Plantation
Absolutely delicious!!! They gave it to me so I hope it is OK that I shared. Now I am off to enjoy one of the many Hitchcock classics the hubby prepped on the Roku box for me - Happy Saturday Night All!

October 6, 2010

Stuffed Baby Peppers...

This dish inspired me while I was running 6 miles on the treadmill in May.  Yes I watch Food Network as I workout!!!  I admit it & love it!.  Anyway gorgeous Giada was prepping her version of stuffed baby peppers and my mind started spinning.   She used peas, my husband doesn't do peas - I'll add spinach & turkey bacon rather than pancetta.  Anyway here is my version of Baby Stuffed Peppers

1/2 onion thinly diced & caramelized
3 slices of turkey bacon, crisply cooked & diced
3/4 cup of part skim ricotta
1/4 cup Parmesan & Romano Cheese
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Lemon Juice
Hot Sauce
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
20 sweet baby peppers
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Add cooked onions. bacon, and spinach to mixing bowl - toss.  Add ricotta, cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, & hot sauce to mixture.  Toss together. Remove tops from peppers and ribs from the inside.  Fill peppers with the spinach mixture with your  fingers & ensure mixture is in entire pepper.  Line in a baking dish and coat outside of peppers with PAM.  Bake 35- 40 minutes.  Serve & enjoy!  This is really a great side dish or even appetizer.  Just note it does take prep time.  I recommend if you are serving to anyone other than your family - Fix the day before (or at least before you get dressed) - will store perfectly in fridge cover in plastic wrap - just bring to room temp (about and hour) before putting in the oven.

October 4, 2010

Grilled Broccoli

So simple, so yummy.  This was a recipe my best friend from high school and I used to fix all the time.  Honestly I still prepare it many times a month.  If you have a picky eater in the house this will win them over, I promise.

Fresh broccoli bunches, 2 servings per large bunch
Italian dressing, regular, light (I use) or fat free

Cut the broccoli into florets, watch the size b/c you don't want them small enough to fall through the grill.  Toss with Italian dressing (enough to coat) and allow it to sit for an hour or longer, turning occasionally.  Simply grill over medium high heat for about 4& 1/2  minutes per side.  Watch closely, but allow it to char a bit.  Remove from the grill and add back to the bowl you marinated it in and toss with a bit more dressing.  Serve with a touch of Parmesan (if you want to - Mike Butler avoid this step).  Yum and even wonderful cold the next day!  Enjoy! I normally grill these while my chicken or steaks are resting.

Spiders have taken over our kitchen chandelier!

Roast Beef

Of all the things I planned for the weekend I had every intent of making a crock pot, 8 hour chuck roast with a creamy mushroom gravy. I changed my mind.  Instead I picked up an eye of round roast and did some research on how to make roast beef.  So much debate on high temperature, quick roast vs. low temperature, long roast.  The following is what I decided on.  Turned out great, will definitly be a Sunday Staple.

Classic Roast Beef
1 3 to 4 lb eye of round roast
1 onion - sliced
Garlic powder
Mediteranean Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Kitchen twine
Meat thermometer

Allow the roast to sit out on the counter & come to room temperature (around 2 hours).  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place sliced onion the bottom of the roasting pan.  Tie the twine at 3 inch intervals up the roast.  Season the roast generously with garlic powder, salt and pepper and place on top of the onions, fat side up (picture was fat side down & then I realized).  Insert meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast, halfway in.  Roast for 20 minutes per pound and check the thermometer for internal temperature.  Remove from oven and tent with foil, allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes.  Slice and enjoy.

Side notes here - The meat thermometer will burn you & quickly - remove it with potholders (don't know what I was thinking, but I have a blistered fingers to prove it).
Medium Rare is going to be between 145 to 150 degrees & Medium around 160 degrees.  Remember that the roast will continue cooking while it is resting.  This cut of meat is best served from rare to medium.

I served it with fingerling potatoes with thyme, roasted asparagus (added to the oven once I removed the roast), a hollandaise sauce and a horseradish sauce.