Tuscan White Bean Soup

>> Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuscan White Bean Soup
2 T olive oil
1/2 large white onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried sage
1/2 t dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c white wine
1 bay leaf
3 c chicken broth
2 15-oz cans white beans, drained
4 slices pancetta, fried and crumbled (you can substitute bacon if needed)
1/4 c fontina cheese, shredded (you can substitute with just about any white Italian cheese)
4-6 fresh basil leaves, julienned
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and saute about 8-10 minutes, or until onions are translucent and vegetables are softened. Add dried basil, sage, thyme, garlic and white wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes. Add bay leaf, chicken broth and white beans. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 2-4 hours. (Really you can simmer it for as little as 30 minutes, but the flavors are more enhanced the longer it simmers.) About 15 minutes before serving, use an immersion blender to puree the soup(or puree in batches in a blender - but be careful not to burn yourself).
Garnish with crumbled pancetta, fontina and basil leaves.


French Countryside Bread

>> Monday, December 28, 2009

For Christmas I gave Andrew a bread maker since he's mentioned an interest in making his own bread. Having made bread from scratch before, I knew that he wouldn't enjoy the kneading part so I thought the bread maker could do the hard work for him. We tried out our first loaf tonight and it turned out beautifully! The crust was golden brown and deliciously crunchy. Hot out of the bread maker with a pat or two of butter and I was in heaven!
French Countryside Bread
1 3/8 cups water
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 1/2 t salt
4 c bread flour
1 T sugar
2 t active dry yeast
Measure and add liquid ingredients to the bread pan. Measure and add dry in gredients (except yeast) to the bread pan. Use your finger to make a well in the flour and pour yeast into the well, being careful not to allow yeast to touch the liquid ingredients. Snap the baking pan into the breadmaker and close the lid. Press the 'Select' button to choose the French setting. Press the 'Crust color' button to choose medium. Press the 'Start/Stop' button.
Source Oster Breadmaker User Manual and Bread Recipes


Sun-Dried Tomato and White Bean Dip

About a year ago, one of my friends had a birthday party that was catered and there was this addictive white bean dip and I've been wanting to recreate it ever since. I saw this healthy recipe on the Food Newtork website and I knew it would be similar. The only addition I made was about half of a jar of sun-dried tomatoes because I thought their sweetness would contrast nicely with the creamy white beans. (And because I needed to use them up before they expired.) Anyhoo, I took this dip to a Christmas party and it went over nicely - several people asked me for the recipe. It's one I'll definitely make again!



Andrew's Smokey Red Sauce

>> Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hi there, this is Andrew, Erin's husband. Let me start this recipe by saying that, to me, cooking is more art than science. Whereas baking, on the other hand, is more science than art. So with that being said, please feel free to "trust your gut" and modify the recipe as you see fit.

Half pound of hamburger
3 slices of bacon, diced
1 link of Italian sausage, casing removed
3/4 shallot
1/2 red onion
1 14 oz. can of peeled whole tomatoes
1 roma tomato
tomato paste
parmesan cheese
italian seasoning
red pepper
Worchestshire Sauce
Red Wine
Olive oil

Mix the bacon, hamburger, and italian sausage together and then brown the meat in a pan. When the meat is brown, remove it from the pan and drain off the excess grease on a paper towel and set aside.

In a food processor, puree the can of whole, peeled tomatos and the roma tomato and then set aside.

Slice the shallot into 1/16-1/8 inch slices and dice the red onion. Saute in pan with 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Once shallots and onions start to brown, add the pureed tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium.

As soon as the sauce starts to begin simmering, stir in the meat and then the italian seasoning and red pepper to taste. A good ball park amount is from a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of italian seasonings and one decent shake of red pepper. Of course add as much or as little red pepper as you desire.

Add a quarter cup or so of red wine.

Let simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes.

Add a quarter to a third of a cup of shredded parmesan cheese. Cook at least five more minutes.

Add two tablespoons of tomato paste five to ten minutes before serving.

That's it. Serve this sauce with your favorite pasta. Top it off with parmesan cheese to taste and enjoy!


Meatloaf with Tomato Relish

>> Thursday, December 17, 2009

I like meatloaf but Andrew never seems to enjoy it as much as I do so I rarely make it. Earlier this week I saw an episode of Tyler's Ultimate on the Food Network and he did his dad's meatloaf recipe. Afterwards, I had a hankering for some meatloaf so I decided to give Tyler's a try. It turned out moist and flavorful and while baking the house smelled fabulous. Even Andrew loved it! I don't have a picture of it because I had a minor injury in the kitchen when a mandoline met my thumb (ouch!) and wasn't thinking about taking pictures - sorry!




I'm a big fan of rice crispy treats but every now and then I want something a little different. These are tasty little treats that combine the crunch of rice crispies and the peanut butter-chocolate combination of Reese's peanut butter cups. In other words, these are divine! You can whip them up, start to finish, in about 20 minutes too, which makes them even better in my book!


Poblano Cream Sauce

After Finley was born, my sweet friends brought us many, many meals so that Andrew and I didn't have to worry about grocery shopping and cooking while our daughter was in the NICU. One of the dishes was chicken with poblano cream sauce brought by Meagan. It was delicious and I've made it several times since then. Meagan gave me the recipe that she uses but I've misplaced it so I've started using a similar recipe I found in one of my cookbooks.
Poblano Cream Sauce
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 poblano chile, minced
3/4 c onion, diced
2 T garlic, chopped
3/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c whipping cream
1/2 c sour cream
salt & pepper
Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the chile and onion and saute about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to blend and thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Use an immersion blender or pour into blender to puree.
Source Secrets from a Caterer's Kitchen by Nicole Aloni
**I serve this with cilantro-lime rice (recipe in previous post) and sauteed chicken breasts topped with sauce, shredded Monterrey Jack cheese and avocado slices.


Cilantro-Lime Rice

I love serving this simple rice with Mexican-inspired dishes. Plain rice is pretty boring to me and the boxed Mexican rice has tons of sodium so I try not to use it. This side dish is so easy to make that you really should try it! Tonight I served it with grilled chicken and poblano cream sauce.

Cilantro-Lime Rice
2 c chicken broth
1 c rice
1-2 limes, juiced
cilantro, minced (I usually use about 1/4 c but you can use more or less according to preference)

Cook rice according to package directions but use chicken broth in place of water. When rice is finished cooking, add lime juice and minced cilntro. Stir to combine and serve!


'All the Good Stuff' Salad

This is a salad that Andrew introduced me to and we have it at least once every other week. It doesn't have any lettuce, hence the name 'all the good stuff' salad. You can easily alter this salad to fit different ethnic menues. For example, if I'm serving Mexican food, I'll add cilantro and lime juice to the dressing or if we're having Greek night, I'll add red onion, lemon juice and some crumbled feta cheese. Anyway, here's the basic recipe:

All the Good Stuff Salad
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 small Roma tomato, chopped (or a handful of grape tomatoes, halved)
1 avocado, chopped
1 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
a handful of parsley, minced

1 T red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
3 T olive oil
salt & pepper

In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk together. In a large bowl, toss all other salad ingredients together. Add salad dressing and toss. If making the salad ahead of time, add the juice of half of a lemon or lime to keep the avocado from turning brown.


Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

Yum - gourmet comfort food at its best! This was really decadent and a nice little mid-week treat. As good as it was, I did have two cons about this dish - #1) the ingredients are expensive, and #2) the cream and butter separate upon reheating so the left-overs aren't very good. That being said, I'll make it again when we have others over for dinner so we won't have to worry about left-overs.


Ultimate Grilled Cheese

I saw this Tyler Florence recipe on the Food Network website and thought I'd give it a try for lunch today. I was drawn to it because, with its additions of sliced apple and bacon, it definitely was not your ordinary grilled cheese sandwich. It was great - I gobbled it right up! And it really didn't take very much longer to make than a regular grilled cheese. While the bacon was frying, I put together the rest of the sandwich and was ready to eat in about 15 minutes.


Christmas Recipes

>> Monday, December 14, 2009

I thought it made sense to post the recipes I'm going to make for Christmas dinnerahead of time in case anyone else wants to try them as well. My contributions are to be a salad and dessert and I've tentatively selected these recipes:

Warm Wilted Winter Greens

Pumpkin Cheesecake


Sweet Potato Biscuits

My infatuation with the sweet potato continues and led me to this recipe. I actually made these biscuits for Thanksgiving but I'm just now getting around to posting it. I first had sweet potato biscuits at Hoover's, and while I loved the flavor of them, they weren't moist enough for my tastes. I searched online for recipes and didn't find any that looked that great and then I stumbled across this recipe in a Junior League cookbook. It turned out to be a good, basic place to start as it had few ingredients and was an easy recipe to make - especially since I didn't cut the biscuits rather I just dropped them by the spoonful on the baking sheets. The cons for the recipe are that it didn't make very many biscuits (or I just made mine too big) and the biscuits didn't have as much flavor as I was expecting. They definitely have potential, but the next time I will add some more spices to enhance the flavor of the sweet potatoes - maybe a little cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, basically whatever floats my boat.

Laura Bush's Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 c flour
2 t baking powder
2 t sugar
1/4 t salt
3 T butter, chilled
1 c cold mashed cooked sweet potato
milk, melted butter or cream

Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix well. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Add the sweet potato and mix well. Pat the dough 3/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut with a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. Arrange the biscuits on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with milk. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or just until the biscuits begin to brown.

Source: Austin Entertains - The Junior League of Austin



>> Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This was a recipe that I actually followed exactly. Okay, I did make one change - I garnished the tiramisu with cocoa powder and shaved bittersweet chocolate. It may not have photographed very well but it tasted just like what you'd get at a nice restaurant - the coffee-rum mixture is the key! The only downside is that the ingredients are slightly expensive, but when you want a little splurge, this recipe is worth it. Here's the link to the recipe I used: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Tiramisu-II/Detail.aspx


Roasted Chicken and Caramelized Onion Risotto

This risotto was fantastic - a rich, creamy texture, and lots of great flavors. For the longest time, I never made risotto because I'd always heard it was difficult to do and that it took a long time to make. But I ran across this recipe and thought it sounded like it would be delicious and then I saw a Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meals episode during which she made a risotto. I figured if she could make it in 30 minutes, then I could too! One of the things I learned from watching her show was that you don't have to constantly stir the risotto, so while the risotto cooked, I was able to put together the caprese salad and clean up the kitchen. My kind of recipe! Here is the recipe that I used for the basis of my recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Roasted-Chicken-with-Risotto-and-Caramelized-Onions/Detail.aspx

And of course, I can never follow a recipe exactly, so here's what I did:

Erin's Roasted Chicken and Caramelized Onion Risotto
4 T butter, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 1/4 c white wine, divided
2 T olive oil
2 c arborio rice
6 c chicken broth (I used 4 c chicken broth and 2 c beef broth because I had some to use up)
1/2 c parmesan, grated
1/2 c pecorino romano, grated
rotisserie chicken, white meat picked off and warmed
parsley, minced, for garnish

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 T butter and add onions. Stir occasionally and allow onions to cook for about 15 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/4 c white wine. Continue to cook until mushrooms and onions are browned and tender and wine has evaporated, about 10-15 more minutes. Place mixture on a plate.

In the same skillet (no need to clean it), add olive oil. While the oil is heating, place a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add broth. Keep the broth simmering in the saucepan while the risotto is cooking. When oil is rippling, place mushrooms and onions back in the skillet and add the rice. Stir to combine the flavors and toast the rice for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 c white wine and stir well. When the wine has been completely absorbed, add two ladles of the simmering broth, stir and allow the rice to absorb the liquid. Continue doing this until all the broth has been added, about 20-22 minutes. After the last of the broth has been used, add 2 T butter and the cheeses. Stir well to combine.

Place risotto on the plates and top with the warmed chicken and minced parsley.


Caprese Salad

I love a good caprese salad but I wanted to do something a little different so here is my twist on the Italian classic! It tasted great and looked pretty fancy, if I do say so myself. I'll keep this recipe in mind the next time we have company over for dinner.

Caprese Salad - serves 2
1 large bunch of fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
about 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted, plus more for garnish
a handful of parmesan, grated
olive oil
2 red ripe tomatoes
fresh mozzarella ball
To make the pesto: in a food processor, combine fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and process until it is finely chopped. With the blade running, add olive oil a tablespoon at a time until the pesto comes together to the consistency that you desire. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until needed. (Sorry my measurements aren't very specific, but I usually just eyeball things. Also, this will make more pesto than is needed for this salad but you can always keep it in the fridge for another use.)
Cut tomatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. Season with salt and pepper and place tomato slices in a colander for 15 minutes to drain some of their liquid. Meanwhile, mozzarella into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices.
To plate the salad, alternate tomato and mozzarella slices. Drizzle pesto over their tops and sprinkle with reserved pine nuts. If desired, drizzle a little balsamic vinegar around the plate.


Crab Crepes

>> Monday, December 7, 2009

This is an old family recipe from my mom's cousin Anita and it has been served at many family gatherings. I had been wanting to cook something with crab and this recipe popped into my head because my mom made it for my birthday dinner last month. It's a little time-consuming because you have to make the crepes but it's well worth it, if you ask me! For the crepes, I just use a basic crepe recipe and then add about 3-4 sliced green onions (or 6-8 snipped chives) to the batter.

For the filling
1 T butter
2 T onion, minced
6 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 t rosemary
1/4 c white wine
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1 c sour cream
1 lb crab
2 T parsley
1 c Swiss cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, melt butter and saute mushrooms and onions for a minute or two. Add wine and rosemary and cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until onions soften. Stir in flour. Slowly add chicken broth and stir until it is all incorporated. Cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and add sour cream, crab and parsley. Stuff each crepe with about three heaping tablespoons of filling and roll up. Place crepes into a greased dish and top with Swiss cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.


Honey-Glazed Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Parsnips may be my new favorite vegetable! This dish was simply devine and so easy to make. I quartered the recipe since it was just for Andrew and me but I really wish I'd made more because it was that good. I will make this recipe again - and soon! Here's the link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Honey-Glazed-Roasted-Carrots-and-Parsnips-233404


Peppermint Bark

>> Sunday, December 6, 2009

1 bag dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 bag white chocolate chips
8 candy canes, crushed

Line a cookie sheet with a silpat sheet or parchment paper. In a glass bowl, combine dark chocolate chips and peppermint extract. In the microwave, cook them in increments of 20 seconds, stirring after each time, until the chips are melted. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate onto the cookie sheet to create a large, thin sheet. Cool in the refrigerator so the chocolate will harden.

After the dark chocolate layer has set up, heat the white chocolate chips in the same manner as the dark. Spread it over the dark chocolate to create a double-layered peppermint bark. While the white chocolate is still melted, quickly sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the white chocolate layer and press them in slightly to make sure they adhere. Cool in the refrigerate. When it has hardened, break into pieces.


Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

This weekend I started tackling my holiday baking. The first recipe on my list is hardly even a recipe, it's so easy. Simply mix together your favorite peanut butter cookie dough (I usually use refrigerated dough or a dough mix because it's such a time saver), roll them into quarter-size balls and bake them in a mini-muffin pan for about 15 minutes. Immediately after removing them from the oven, press a miniature Reese's peanut butter cup into the cookie/muffin. And then quickly give them away because they are totally addicting!


Pumpkin Tortellini with Brown Butter Sauce

Okay so I totally cheated on this one - I used store bought tortellini. Gasp and shudder! In my defense, it was fresh tortellini from Central Market so I figured it was a high-quality shortcut. For the sauce I cooked 4 tablespoons butter and julienned fresh sage leaves over medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes until the butter had turned brown (hence the name of the sauce!). I tossed the tortellini with the butter and sage and topped it with shaved parmesan and toasted pine nuts. Yummy and a wonderful weekend lunch!


Greek Pizza

>> Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Simple and fast dinner! I usually have most of the ingredients in my fridge so with just a little chopping, I can have dinner in the oven in about 15 minutes. It's also a nice change from the regular red sauce pizza that you usually get. And it tastes good to boot!
Greek Pizza
1 chicken breast, cooked and sliced or shredded
store-bought pesto
pizza shells
artichoke hearts, chopped
sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
kalamata and/or green olives, chopped
assorted cheeses - feta, fresh mozzarella, parmesan - I usually just clean out the fridge and use
whatever nubs of cheese I have left-over from other recipes
Brush pizza shells liberally with pesto. Top with chicken, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and cheeses. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Easy-peasy!


Stuffed Mushrooms

I love trying recipes that have a seemingly odd combinations of flavors and this one fits the bill with raisins, pine nuts, sausage and olives. It is a Tyler Florence recipe and I almost always like what he cooks and this one did not disappoint. I served it as an appetizer on Thanksgiving and there weren't any of them left. Overall, I thought they were really good, pretty hearty and I will definitely make them again. (I didn't get a good picture so I'm using the picture on Food Network's website.)


Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

Having a wee little one at home, I got off easy this Thanksgiving and didn't have to make very much. One of my additions to the menu was this very easy cranberry sauce. Seriously, if you've never made cranberry sauce before, you should try to - it's very simple and tastes so much better than canned.

Cranberry Sauce

16 oz bag of fresh cranberries
1/2 c cranberry juice
juice and zest from 1 large orange
1 1/2 c sugar
1 jalapeno, minced (you could also use fresh minced ginger)

In a small pot, combine all ingredients and cook over medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool and as it cools the sauce will thicken up. Refrigerate until serving.


Bucatini All'Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

>> Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This is a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe and it was the best version of spaghetti and meatballs I have ever tried! I will make this recipe over and over, it really was that good! The meatballs had a very smooth texture and a great flavor that complimented the sauce really well. With every bite, I really felt like I was eating at a nice Italian restaurant. This is one of the rare recipes that I followed exactly and did not change anything and I'm so glad I did!



Matt's El Rancho's Cheese Enchiladas

Since the advent of the internet, I rarely use any of my many cookbooks, so I am on a mission to make at least one recpe from each of my cookbooks. This evening was our first foray and it was a success! My sweet husband made me cheese enchiladas with beef sauce from our Matt's El Rancho cookbook and they really were just as good - if not better! - than the ones at the restaurant. The recipe didn't look hard, and there weren't very many ingredients, but it was a little time-consuming to make since the sauce had to simmer for an hour. (Andrew wanted me to emphasize the importance of dipping the tortillas in the hot oil or else the tortillas fall apart.)

Cheese and Onion Enchiladas

2 cups enchilada sauce of your choice (the recipe for the sauce we used in below)
1 cup vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped onion

Get your ingredients together and warm your sauce. In a skillet on medium, heat the oil. Dip tortillas in oil for 4 to 5 seconds until limp. Place on paper towels to drain.
After all the tortillas have been dipped in oil and drained, dip them in warm enchilada sauce and stack on a plate. Remove a tortilla from your stack, fill with 2 heaping tablespoons of cheese and 1 tablespoon of onion. Roll up and place seam side down, side by side, in a casserole dish.

Evenly pour sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and they're ready to serve.

Beef Enchilada Sauce
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Tex-Mex spice
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups water
1 can whole tomatoes, diced or crushed

Combine all ingredients except for water and tomatoes. Place in a cold skillet. On medium heat, cook for 6 to 8 minutes (until onion is translucent). Add water and tomatoes. Simmer gently for 1 hour; stir and scrape the pan occasionally to make sure the sauce doesn't stick.

Source: Matt Martinez - Mex Tex Cookbook


Proscuitto & Parmesan Pinwheels

>> Friday, November 20, 2009

Since I had an extra sheet of puff pastry leftover from my chicken pot pie, I decided to whip up one of my favorite appetizers - Proscuitto and Parmesan Pinwheels. They're basically like a glorified ham and cheese sandwich and just as easy to make. And did I mention they're awesome?!

Pinwheels - makes about 16-18:

2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted
2 T dijon mustard
8 thin slices of proscuitto
parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

Unroll the puff pastry sheets. Brush each sheet with some dijon mustard. Sprinkle liberally with parmesan. Lay slices of proscuitto over parmesan. Roll up the pastry sheet jellyroll-style and press to seal edges together. Wrap logs in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to a day. Unwrap logs and slice each one into eight or nine slices, about 3/4th of an inch wide. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray and place pinwheels two inches apart. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until pastry dough is lightly browned and cooked through.

And then try not to eat all of them immediately! (Update: I think I jinxed myself since Andrew did just that. I walked into the kitchen to see Andrew finishing the last one! Good thing I ate one last night!)


Chicken Pot Pie

It was such a wet and dreary day that I decided some good comfort food was needed. I settled on this chicken pot pie recipe because - I'm a little embarassed about this - the word easy was in the title. In my defense, I didn't want a gourmet chicken pot pie so I thought the easy, traditional recipe would hit the stop. And it sure did! Here's the recipe I used: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Easy-Chicken-Pot-Pie-107707 I didn't do the bouquet of herbs because I didn't have any cheesecloth so I just added the herbs into the chicken stock. My only other change was to add carrots into the mix. It turned out really good, was fast to throw together and, as the title stated, it was easy!


Apricot & Almond Cream Cheese Bars

I had some odds and ends that I wanted to use up so I put together this little diddy. I imagined it as a dessert but it's divine for breakfast with a good cup of coffee. (When I got up this morning, I discovered that Andrew had eaten about 2/3 of the pan already - apparently they received his approval!)

For the bars:

2 cans crescent rolls
8 oz cream cheese
1 egg
1 1/2 t almond extract
1/3 c sugar
8 oz apricot preserves, melted
1 t cinnamon
2 T sugar
3 T butter, melted
2 oz sliced almonds

Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Press one can of crescent dough into the bottom of the pan, pressing the seams together.

In a food processor or mixer, combine cream cheese, egg, extract and sugar. Process until smooth and creamy. Spread onto dough. Top with melted preserves followed by the second can of crescent rolls. Brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar and almonds.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes.


Bison Burgers with Bleu Cheese and Caramelized Onions

>> Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recently I've started using ground bison in place of ground beef because it's so much healthier. Bison has half the saturated fat and half the cholesterol as beef so I feel much less guilty about eating a burger when it's made with bison. But I'm off my soapbox now!
I made this because I wanted a more gourmet burger and it turned out fantastically! The tang of the bleu cheese and the sweetness of the onions paired so well with the bison. Andrew and I both really liked it. A lot!

For the burger - serves 3:
3/4 lb ground bison
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T dijon mustard
1 t worcestershire sauce
bleu cheese crumbles
caramelized onions**
hamburger buns
mayo and/or mustard
romaine lettuce

In a mixing bowl, combine the bison, shallot, garlic, dijon, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Knead ingredients together until well combined. Divide the meat mixture into three round patties.

Heat grill pan to medium-high heat. Place the patties on the grill pan and cook about 4 minutes and flip burgers over. Cook another 4 minutes. Top burgers with bleu cheese crumbles and cook another 1-2 minutes until cheese is softened (but it probably won't look melted).

Toast hamburger buns in oven or on grill pan for 1-2 minutes. Spread mayo and/or mustard on buns. Place bleu cheese patties on buns and top with caramelized onions and lettuce. Serve with sweet potato fries (see previous post for recipe).

**To caramelize onions, heat 1-2 T butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Slice one large onion into rings. Separate the rings and place in the pan. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and caramel in color, about 30 minutes. You can salt and sugar them prior to cooking if you want to but it isn't a necessity.


Sweet Potato Fries with Avocado Dipping Sauce

I love this recipe! It's easy and much healthier than "fried" fries because they're baked. While they never get as crunchy as fried fries, I love the flavor of the sweet potatoes so much that I don't mind that they're a little softer. I usually chop the potatoes, marinate them in the olive oil mixture and make the avocado dipping sauce early in the day and bake them right before dinner is served.

For the fries:

2 sweet potatoes, chopped into fries (this time I used one sweet potato and one white potato)
3 T olive oil

Mix all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, making sure all the fries are covered with oil. Spread onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes.

For the avocado sauce:

1 avocado, mashed slightly
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 T sour cream
1 lime, juiced
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and roughly chopped
handful of cilantro

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse until the mixture is smooth. Taste and alter seasonings, if necessary. Refrigerate until serving.


Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

>> Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I found this recipe on my Epicurious iPhone app, which is where I've been finding loads of recipes lately - love it! Anyhoo, I've been wanting to make lamb shanks at home for years after having them in several restaurants, and I finally got around to doing it tonight. It was so delicious! The prep work is a little time-consuming because of all the chopping but it isn't difficult to do. The end result had the lamb literally falling off the bone tender - no knife was needed! And the white beans side dish were very flavorful and the perfect compliment to the lamb shanks. As I'm typing this post, my mouth is starting to water - I can't wait to eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Braised-Lamb-Shanks-with-White-Beans-11831


Arugula, Grapefruit & Avocado Salad

I love using fruit in green salads - probably because I love mixing sweet and savory things, but Andrew hates anything sweet in his food except if it's a dessert. So this salad provided a good compromise as I got to put fruit in my salad but it wasn't sweet. I topped organic arugula with grapefruit segments and chopped avocado. For the dressing I used the juice from the left-over grapefruit membranes, one shallot chopped, a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Easy, yummy and just a little different!


Basic Crepes

>> Sunday, November 15, 2009

One of Andrew's family traditions is to have crepes for breakfast on special occasions. Last night we were craving them and decided they'd be on today's menu, especially since my parents brought us back some Canadian maple syrup. Crepes really aren't much more time consuming than making pancakes so I'm not sure why we don't make them more often. Sweet Andrew surprised me and made them for me - I love walking into the kitchen to see someone else cooking!


Easy Apple Dumplings

First off, the picture does not do this dish justice! My mom has been raving about this simple apple dumpling recipe and has already made it at least four times in the past month. She took it to a meeting at church and someone stopped the meeting to ask who made it and could she get the recipe. It's that good! The ingredients are a bit odd (i.e. a can of Mountain Dew?!) but they marry to make the most delicious of unions!


Roast Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Tarragon Sauce

For Thursday night's dinner I tried a new recipe from epicurious, Roast Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Tarragon Sauce (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roast-Pork-Tenderloin-with-Mustard-Tarragon-Sauce-240141). I served it with a medley of roasted and seasoned baking potatoes and sweet potatoes (olive oil, melted butter, garlic, thyme, rosemary and sea salt) and asparagus. Have I mentioned how much I adore sweet potatoes? Andrew's not a big fan so that's why I included the white potatoes too. Anyway, back to the pork recipe. It was delish! I really loved the sauce - which is a good thing since it didn't really ever thicken up so it spread all around my plate and got up close and personal with the potatoes and asparagus. Since I'm a big condiment/sauce fan, I didn't mind at all! I followed the recipe exactly right up until the end. I saw the worcestershire sauce on the refrigerator door looking so lonely so I added a few dashes in the sauce. I thought it was a good addition!


Chicken and Orzo Frittata

>> Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tonight I was excited to try Giada De Laurentiis' Chicken and Orzo Frittata. We love quiches so I thought I'd try a slightly different twist of a dinner egg dish. We were sadly disappointed. It was very easy to make but the flavors just didn't deliver for me. It was really bland and I'm not sure what alterations could have saved it. Also, the frittata took a lot longer to cook than the recipe stated. Andrew and I finally got too hungry to wait for the frittata to finish cooking and went ahead and ate our salads and rolls because the frittata still wasn't cooked completely. I usually love Giada's recipes but this is one that I'll be trashing...just like I did with the left-overs.


Quick Chicken and Chorizo Paella

For my birthday Andrew got me an iPhone and I have such fun playing some with of the apps. My favorite is the epicurious.com application that lets you search recipes and create shopping lists from your saved recipes. Love it! Now when I'm at the grocery store and I see that there are lamb shanks on sale or some other random protein, I can whip out the iPhone and literally have thousands of recipes at my fingertips! But I digress...

Anyway, the Quick Chicken and Chorizo Paella recipe is from epicurious - here's the link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Quick-Chicken-and-Chorizo-Paella-105696 I ran into a slight problem when HEB didn't have chorizo sausage in its casings. They only carried ground pork with chorizo seasonings, which is what I ended up going with. It definitely effected the authenticity of the dish but it still tasted really great. Next time I'll just have to remember that its a recipe that requires a trip to Central Market for the correct ingredients. I served it with a simple salad of avocadoes, tomatoes, green onions and cilantro dressed in lime juice.


My Birthday Pasta

Monday was my birthday - my thirty-first, which for some reason sounds so much older than thirty - and to celebrate, Andrew made me dinner. I picked out a recipe I'd been wanting to try and that looked like it'd be fairly quick to make. It was wonderful to just sit in the kitchen with a glass of wine and watch Andrew make the meal. The recipe is from Williams Sonoma's Bride and Groom cookbook and it's basically a pasta with peas and asparagus in a light lemony-cream sauce. We threw some crisped proscuitto in it too for a little extra protein and crunch. It was pretty good and did come together very quickly, which makes it a keeper in my book!
Fettucini with Peas and Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus (about 8 spears)
1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
2/3 cup heavy cream
minced zest and juice of 1 or 2 Meyer lemons
salt and pepper
3/4 cup peas
1 lb fettucini (we used rigatoni because that's what we had on hand)
fresh basil
shaved parmesan cheese
To prepare the asparagus, snap off the tough woody ends of the spears. Cut the asparagus on the diagonal into pieces about 1/8-inch thick. In a small saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add asparagus and saute for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the cream, and heat until warm. Add lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 30 seconds. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally so that the noodles cook evenly. Drain the pasta and peas, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water.
Return pasta and peas to the pot and season with salt. Pour the asparagus-cream mixture over the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly. Add the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Tear some of the basil leaves into pieces and add along with lemon juice to taste and additional salt to taste. Garnish with cheese.


Rosemary Citrus Lamb Stew

>> Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is one of my mom's recipes and I'm not sure where she found it. She fixed it for us last year and I haven't stopped thinking about it since! Now that the weather's gotten chillier, it seemed like the perfect time for a hearty stew. Additionally, since it has to slowly cook for several hours, I was able to get it together during Grandma's afternoon visit with Finley.

It turned out just as good as I remembered! It was fairly easy to prepare and delicious. Since the meat gets more tender the longer it cooks, I'm sure this would work well in a crockpot too. The recipe says to cook it 2 1/2 hours but I think I cooked mine closer to 5 hours and the meat was falling apart it was so tender. Can't wait to have the left-overs tomorrow for lunch!

Rosemary Citrus Lamb Stew

1/4 c olive oil
3 lbs lamb stew meat
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t cracked black pepper
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c beef croth
1 c red wine
4 sprigs rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 oranges, zested and juiced
1 can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add lamb and season with salt and pepper on all sides. Brown on all sides, stirring as needed for 10 - 12 minutes. Add onions and carrots and cook for 4 more minutes. Add garlic and continue to stir for 30 more seconds. Add wine, broth, rosemary, bay leaf, orange zest and orange juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover.

Cook for 2 1/2 hours until meat is fork tender and beginning to pull apart. Remove bay leaf. Add beans and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

*** I served it over jasmine rice.


Easy Pasta and Chicken Dish

>> Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I got this recipe off of AllRecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Lauras-Unbelievable-Chicken-and-Pasta/Detail.aspx?prop31=4) and decided to try it out this week. It was super simple to make and very easy to modify to your own preferences. I added sauteed onion, fresh basil, parmesan cheese and I used fresh spinach instead of frozen. It seemed a little dry so I added extra chicken broth to get the creamy texture I wanted from the sauce. I'd say that the fresh basil and parmesan cheese are musts; otherwise I think the sauce would be a little bland.


Crab Bisque

I've been craving a good seafood bisque for a few weeks but it's a hassle to go out to eat now that Finley's here. So I set out to make seafood crab bisqueat home - who needs Eddie V's?! I went through a couple of different recipes and finally decided to throw caution to the wind and come up with my own recipe since I couldn't find one that seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. It turned out excellent! I served it with my favorite salad (described in the previous post) and fresh sourdough bread for sopping up the remains of the soup. While the recipe is definitely not low-calorie, every now and then we all deserve a splurge!

Erin's Crab Bisque

7 T butter, divided
1/2 white onion, chopped
6 oz mushrooms, coarsely chopped
3/4 c white wine, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 T flour
1/2 c chicken broth
2 c milk
2 T tomato paste
7 chives, snipped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 lb crab meat, divided
chives to garnish

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 T butter. Add onion, mushrooms and 1/4 c white wine. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add garlic and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 7 more minutes. Set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt 4 T butter. Whisk in flour and cook for about a minute. Add in the chicken broth and stir well to combine. Cook 1 minute until thickened slightly. Stir in 1/2 c white wine. Stir to combine, cook 1 minute and let thicken. Add in milk, mushroom mixture, tomato paste and chives. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir well and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup so it's velvety smooth and thick. (If you don't have an immersion blender, puree it in a blender in batches.) Stir in most of the crab but reserve a few tablespoons crab meat for garnish. Cook for about 5 minutes to heat crab thoroughly.

To serve, spoon into bowls. Top with a heaping tablespoon of crab meat and snipped chives.


My Favorite Salad

Sagra is an Italian restaurant here in Austin that I love for one their salads. I've recreated it at home several times and it never disappoints. There's not really a recipe so much as there are ingredients that you throw together: arugula, crisped and crumbled pancetta, diced pears, toasted walnuts and goat cheese with a champagne vinaigrette. Tonight I subbed bleu cheese for the goat cheese because Andrew much prefers it and the salad still turned out great. For the vinaigrette I whisk together white wine or champagne vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, chives, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and olive oil - sorry I don't have the quantities - but you could always use a bottled champagne vinaigrette too.


Quiche Lorraine

>> Friday, October 16, 2009

Andrew loves Quiche Lorraine so I set out to try and find a winning recipe. I chose this recipe http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Quiche-Lorraine-I/Detail.aspx?prop31=1 but then I made several changes of course. It's hard for me not to change a recipe! Here are the changes I made:

- I only used 4 slices of bacon and I thought that was plenty.

- I sauteed the onion in the bacon grease and drained the onions on a paper towel with the bacon.

- I used six eggs and only about 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

- I omitted the sugar too.

We loved it and I think it will go into heavy rotation since it was quick to throw together and I usually have all the ingredients in the pantry already.


Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce

We had an easy Greek dinner tonight. Along with the chicken souvlaki with tzatziki sauce http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=698653, I also served a chopped Greek salad (cucumber, tomato, kalamata olive, feta cheese, parsley with red wine vinaigrette), hummus and pita bread. The only thing I did differently with the chicken recipe was to omit the zucchini because I didn't have any on hand. I liked the chicken marinade, it was easy and flavorful, but the tzatziki sauce seemed to be lacking something - maybe some dill or maybe I just needed to salt it more.


Dressed Up Bacon Mac 'N' Cheese

>> Thursday, October 15, 2009

I love macaroni and cheese but I never want to make it for dinner because it doesn't seem substantial enough - just lots of cheese and carbs, not that those are bad things! So I decided to bulk it up a bit to make it a little more interesting. I used a Food Network magazine recipe as the basis for the dish and then I made a couple of changes. I added chopped zucchini, tomatoes, and chicken to jazz it up and make it feel more like an entree casserole rather than a side dish. Based on reviews of the recipe, I added cheddar cheese (and lots of it!) as well. Overall, I thought it was pretty good but my quest for the ultimate mac'n'cheese will continue. However, Andrew got seconds!



>> Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cold and wet weather means it is chili time! So tonight Andrew and I whipped up a batch of chili to compliment this dreary weather. I have a chili recipe that I have used for a couple of years now and we really like it. I like to serve it with biscuits, fritos or cornbread and I like to top my chili with green onions, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. Here's my recipe - it looks like a ton of ingredients but many of them are common spices and seasonings that you probably have in your pantry already:


1 lb ground beef or bison
4 slices peppered bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil (or leftover bacon grease)
1 small white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 (14 oz) can of beef broth
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can chili beans
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bottle beer of your choice
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons oregano, dried
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon basil, dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayene
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste

In a saute pan, cook ground beef (or venison) until browned. Drain and set aside. In the same pan, cook bacon until crispy and fat is rendered. Drain bacon on paper towels. Crumble bacon when cool enough to handle and set aside with the beef.

In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil and saute onion, bell pepper and celery until onion turns translucent. Add the beef, bacon and remaining ingredients, except for the tomato paste, and simmer for at least an hour and up to four hours. Stir in the tomato paste and stir to incorporate it fully. Continue simmering for an additional 30 minutes.


Bread Pudding with Whiskey Cream Sauce

Saturday night for dessert I made a bread pudding with a whiskey cream sauce. For our anniverdary dinner this year, Andrew and I went to Green Pastures and I had an excellent bread pudding - and I've been craving it ever since! This was my attempt to recreate it but I wasn't thrilled with the results. It wasn't bad, it just didn't live up to its predecessor.

What made this bread pudding different from other recipes I'd looked at was that it used fresh bread bread, not day old/slightly stale bread. Therein lied the problem, I think. The bread pudding ended up a little too soggy for me but everyone else seemed to like it...or they were just being polite! Here's the recipe that I used: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/bread_pudding_f/ and here is the recipe I think I'll try the next time I'm craving bread pudding:http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gale-gand/whiskey-bread-pudding-recipe/index.html


Coq au Vin

Yesterday evening Andrew and I had both sets of our parents over for dinner. I decided to try my hand at coq au vin because it sounded like a great dish for cooler weather. My inspiration was another friend who made it (thanks Alicia!) and she got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman (http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/). TPW's website is wonderful for all cooks, but especially for the novice since she posts pictures of every step in the recipe. Being a visual learner, I love that about her website! Anyway, here's the recipe I used and I followed it exactly - with the exception that I added celery to the vegetable mixture. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/08/coq-au-vin/


Tortellini Soup

>> Friday, October 9, 2009

Since it was such a dreary day I decided soup was in order. This is the second time I've made this recipe and Andrew and I really enjoy it. I serve it with Pillsbury garlic breadsticks that I sprinkle with Italian seasoning prior to baking. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Tortellini-Soup-I/Detail.aspx?prop31=1



The nachos before I covered all the good stuff with cheese.

Not gourmet, certainly not elegant, but so yummy! And easy! These days easy is of the utmost important since I don't always have a lot of time in the kitchen. For these nachos I laid out tortilla chips on a baking pan and layered them with taco meat, black beans, avocado chunks, tomatoes, green onions and shredded cheddar cheese. Threw them in a 325 degree oven for 9-10 minutes and put them on the table. I served them with a sour cream-salsa dip that I made by combining equal parts sour cream and salsa (go figure!).


Spaghetti Carbonara a la Erin

>> Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Being a stay at home mom to an infant necessitates having a few recipes that can come together really quickly with minimal prep. Spaghetti Carbonara fits the bill - I literally had this on the table in 20 minutes tonight! I don't have a real recipe because I just kind of eyeball a lot of the ingredients but here's my basic recipe. But beware, this is not a healthy recipe!

Spaghetti Carbonara a la Erin

4 slices peppered bacon
1 egg (I use pasteurized eggs to reduce the risk of salmonella), beaten
2-3 tablespoons white wine
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 oz grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
12 oz spaghetti noodles
parsley for garnish

Over medium heat, fry the bacon in a large saucepan until browned and crispy. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and reserve the bacon fat in the saucepan.

Meanwhile cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain pasta and add to bacon fat in saucepan.

In a small bowl, combine egg, white wine and cream. Add mixture and parmesan to the pasta and toss to combine. Garnish with parsley and extra parmesan cheese.

Here's a link to a more adventurous carbonara recipe that I want to try but I won't because I know Andrew would be completely opposed to the addition of cinnamon. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/cinnamon-pancetta-carbonara-recipe/index.html


About This Blog

Blog Archive

Blog template by simplyfabulousbloggertemplates.com

Back to TOP