Thursday, April 28, 2011

Homemade Tomato Soup


Wanting comfort food, I decided that tomato soup and grilled cheese would fit the bill.   Below is the recipe I made tonight, it was SO GOOD!  A couple of additions I might add are a little cream, blended into the final product.  Enjoy.

Homemade Tomato Soup



INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 sm. can tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Crumbled Goat cheese, or Gorgonzola (I also would use feta)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until onion is tender.

2. Add carrot and celery; cook 7 to 9 minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes, paste, broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently.


Garnish with fresh basil and crumbled cheese.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Baklava

Baklava

Several years ago, I decided that I would make another dish, Spanakopita (I will post the recipe for that later), when I was talking about it at work, a friend said, “oh, you should make baklava, but the last time I tried it, it was so hard.”  So with those words, I put off ever making baklava…..until I hunkered down and decided that I would attempt it.  Butter, filo, butter, filo, cinnamon, sugar, butter, filo, again, again, again…. And whall-ah, it was done….and not so hard.  I have  made it many timse since, and it’s probably one of the easiest and most forgiving desserts I have ever made.

This week, we are catering an event and are working diligently on the prep work and putting together any items we can pre-assemble to make Friday much easier.  Today I made Baklava….here’s the recipe.  It is AMAZING, and SO easy.  A little time consuming, but it will pay off with complements for those who enjoy it.  Seriously it’s all about layering….butter, filo, butter, filo (repeat 4-5 times) filling is a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and nuts, then butter, filo, butter filo, until you run out of filo.  You can add Chocolate for Choc-lava. Easy huh?  For the nuts I use Pecan, as I have a slight allergy to walnuts.  I have used almonds, pecans as well as pistachios.  For the final touch, I always sprinkle chopped pistachios on top.

Baklava

2 cups butter
Filo dough (2 packages)
4 cups nuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Honey

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine nuts, cup sugar, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Unwrap filo and trim to fit an 11'' x 15'' x 2'' baking pan. Cover filo sheets with a damp dish towel.

2. Butter pan. Place 1 sheet of filo in pan; brush with butter. Lay a second sheet of filo over first sheet, brush with butter, repeat 3-4 times,  then evenly sprinkle with 1 cup. nut mixture.  Place 1 sheet of filo on top of nut mixture, brush with butter. Lay a second sheet of filo over first sheet, brush with butter, repeat 3-4 times, Evenly sprinkle with nut mixture. Set aside two sheets of filo for the top, then continue alternating nut mixture with single buttered sheets of filo. Use reserved filo sheets, separated only by butter, to cover baklava.

3. Brush top with butter. Arrange pan so short side faces you. Cut across baklava with a serrated knife at about 2'' intervals. You should have 8 equal strips. Sprinkle top with water, bake until golden, about 30-45 minutes.

4. Remove baklava from oven. Pour honey over entire surface. Tilt pan so syrup reaches all corners, then set baklava aside for 2 hours. Finish cutting baklava on the diagonal for the traditional diamond shape or cut into squares.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rice....THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE IT!!!

Most people make rice by boiling 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice.  BORING!!!  and sticky.

For traditional rice, you'd measure the rice, and make sure that the water was one knuckle about the rice level.....yup that's right, stick you finger in the water and measure the water level above the rice....Works EVERY time!!!

Tonight's dinner was Green Onion Rice with Herbed Cod and Buttered Dill Carrots.  The most difficult part was boiling the rice....and if that is the most difficult, then you ALL can make this..... 

For this recipe I use Basmati Rice.  I usually measure about 2 cups of the rice and rinse the rice with cold water until water runs clear.  Bring to a boil, and boil for about 10-15 minutes, check rice for doneness. (when you split the rice kernal in half, you will see a dot in the center-Al dente) When rice is done (al dente), pour the rice into a strainer, and rinse with cold water. Put the pan back on the store, and add a small amount of oil (3-4T) and the rinsed rice, in a mound. Sprinkle about 3-4 T water over the rice, and place a folded towel (make sure there is not fabric softener in the towel) over the top of the pot and place the lid on the pot. Allow to steam for about 20 minutes on medium low heat.

Add 1/2 stick of butter to the rice, mix well.  Add 2 bunches of sliced green onions to the rice and mix well.  Serve and enjoy!

These times are approximate, as you know I don't measure, or time. I use my judgment as my gauge. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rosemary Chicken and Wild Rice Soup


When planning this week’s menu, I wanted a night that was an “easy cook” night.  Over the past few years Craig and I would take a loaf of French bread (or Baguette) slice it and then slice a wedge of brie, place the cheese on the bread and then broil it until it is bubbly.  VoilĂ , dinner.

So I totally planned on making just the Brie and French bread tonight…..but, when I was on the elliptical machine at the gym this morning, like a true fat person, I was thinking of what to make for dinner….and decided that since it was 40 degrees outside (Seattle), and looked like it was going to rain, that soup would be the answer to my dinnerdilemma.

The soup is an “easy” kitchen clean up recipe, you all will very much enjoy!











Rosemary Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

1 cooked chicken, meat and bones, (used leftover Rotisserie Chicken)
4 cups water (approximate)
1-2 pkg. Fresh Thyme
2 large sprigs of rosemary
Salt and Pepper
1 Onion, diced
3 Stalks of Celery, diced
1 small potato, diced

Place cooked chicken in a pot filled with water.  I usually never measure, it depends on the pot I am using.  

Add a little salt and pepper and the thyme in to the pot.  Boil for about 2 hours.   

Once the chicken is “falling off the bones”, remove it from the heat, and drain and save the broth, remove the herbs and discard.  Allow the chicken to cool, then pick off the meat from the bones, then chop.   

Lightly sautĂ© the onion celery potato mixture.  Add the chicken and the broth.  

Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or so.   

Serve with cracker or French bread. 

Substitutions:  Switch out Chicken for left over Pot Roast, or ribs (pork or ribs)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jammy Granola bars

Jammy Granola Bars

INGREDIENTS
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (I've used steel cut oats)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup raspberry jam (or any other flavor you prefer)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

To toast the pecans, spread the chopped pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the rolled oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and pecans. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the melted butter until the oat mixture is thoroughly combined.

Press two-thirds of the oat mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared baking pan and top with the raspberry preserves. Sprinkle the preserves with the remaining oat mixture.

Bake the bars for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the top is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the granola bars cool completely, about 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chicken Piccata with Capers


I always refer back to a time when I was living in Portland, and my cousin Lori and I would talk nightly on the phone about what to cook for dinner.  One night in particular she called and asked what I was making, I wasn't sure, so I went to the refrigerator, pulled out some ham and swiss (I had for lunch sandwiches), and a chicken breast.  During our talk, I completely made dinner, and was about to serve it when we got back around to the conversation of what we were making for dinner.  When I told her I was having Chicken Cordon Bleu, I believe she said, DAMN, I go to the refrigerator and pull together a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich, and you can pull a gourmet dinner out of the trash...(so to speak, of course!)

Well tonight's dinner was one of those nights, when I walked in the kitchen I had no idea what I was making.  When I ended it dined on a WONDERFUL dinner!!  Check it out...

Chicken Piccata with Capers

Ingredients
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup white wine (pinot grigio)
Zest of 1 Fresh Lemon
1 fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons capers
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Place each breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Place flour in a shallow dish, and dredge chicken in flour, pepper parsley mixture.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add white wine, lemon zest and juice, capers, and garlic to pan; scrape pan to loosen browned bits. Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return Chicken to pan, and allow to simmer no more than 10 minutes.  Serve chicken over pasta. Top with sauce; sprinkle with parsley.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Honey Mustard Cumin Marinade

**UPDATE:  I Posted this recipe a few months ago, and stated that I would take a picture the next time I made it.

Well, tonight I marinade Shrimp and placed them on a Caesar Salad.  I would also recommend that you should double the recipe, then split it and put a little in the refer for another night.  (I do recommend splitting it after making is, so that you don't cross contaminate the excess!)
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A few years ago Craig hosted a cookbook signing in the store he was working.  The chef sampled a version of this recipe, use for chicken skewers.  We have adapted it and used this on chicken, shrimp, as well as beef.  All are amazing.  This is such a quick and easy recipe, you will make it again, and again.  The hardest part is grinding the toasted cumin.



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Honey Mustard Cumin Marinade

½ Cup Olive oil
¼ Cup Stone Ground Mustard
¼ Honey
4 Garlic Cloves
3 T Cumin
½ t Salt
½ T Fresh Ground Pepper

Toast cumin seeds in small pan, cool.  Grind in spice grinder of morter and pestel.

Add in the rest of the ingredients, mix well.

Tonight we marinated prawns in this marinade. YUM!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chicken Lettuce Wraps (P. F. Chang's style)

Many people love P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  Craig and I really do, so I decided to make my own recipe.  We always add rice to the mix whether of not we eat them at home or at the restaurant.  The recipe below is my version of the wonderful Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Enjoy!!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps






















Ingredients:

3 tablespoons oil

1lb Ground chicken breasts
1 cup water chestnuts (2 Small Cans)
2/3 cup mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 -5 leaves iceberg lettuce (we used Leaf lettuce, because we couldn't get the iceberg to come apart without ripping.

Special Sauce:

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice (Juice from 1/2 lemon)
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot mustard
2 teaspoons water
1 -2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce:


2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Directions:


Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to serve. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.  Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.


Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.  Mince the water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.  Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Fry the chicken until done.  Remove chicken from the pan and cool.  Keep oil in the pan, keep hot.  With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil.  Add garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan, when hot and thoroughly mixed add chicken.   Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes.  

If you want the light and crunchy noodles that are crumbled over the top at the restaurant, fry 1/4 package of Chinese rice noodles in about 1 cup VERY hot oil for a minute or two. They will puff up. Flip noodles over. Drain.

Serve it in the lettuce"cups".






















Top with"Special Sauce".