Goat Cheese-Arugula Ravioli with Tomato-Pancetta Butter

>> Sunday, January 24, 2010

Two years ago Andrew bought me the pasta making attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. Occasionally he brings up that its still sitting in the box on the bottom shelf of the pantry but I've learned to pretend that I don't hear him. Who wants to take the time to make fresh pasta?! Well this weekend Andrew decided he wanted to do just that. We worked out a compromise - he made the pasta dough and I made the filling. It was actually really fun and not nearly as difficult as I assumed it would be. It was the perfect lazy Sunday activity!

I followed this recipe, with the exceptions that we made fresh pasta dough instead of the won ton wrappers (if you didn't want to make your own pasta - I wouldn't blame you if you didn't! - using the won ton wrappers is a great shortcut) and I used half goat cheese and half ricotta. Andrew's not a huge fan of goat cheese so this way I could still enjoy the tang of the goat cheese but it wasn't overpowering. Overall, I felt like this dish was restaurant-worthy! It was delicious and the sauce that goes with the ravioli was just perfect. I can't wait to have it again! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Goat-Cheese-Arugula-Ravioli-with-Tomato-Pancetta-Butter-104784


Steamed Artichokes

I heart artichokes! So I was very excited to see that artichokes were on sale at HEB and I knew they would go perfectly with our ravioli that we were making for the main dish. Here's an article about how good artichokes are for you, just in case you may be interested: http://www.wholeliving.com/article/power-foods-artichokes
I usually just steam them and serve them with melted butter in which to dip them. If you've never worked with artichokes before, they can be a little intimidating, but if I can do it, you can too! Here's an easy recipe for steaming the artichokes, along with a couple of recipes for other dipping sauces if you want something other than melted butter. http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/steamed-artichokes


Ricotta Gnocchi with Bolognese Sauce

My mom made this dish for us about a year ago and I really enjoyed it so I made a mental note to make it myself. Unfortunately, my mental note was misplaced somewhere in my noggin for a long while. The good news is that I eventually remembered about the yumminess of this dish and made it this week. It was absolutely delicious! If you like gnocchi, then you'll love this untraditional gnocchi recipe. In hindsight, I should have doubled the recipe!

I used this recipe for the gnocchi but I didn't make the sauce that the recipe used. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Ricotta-Gnocchi/Detail.aspx Instead, I used a bolognese sauce because I wanted something heartier.


Roasted Asparagus

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Roasted Asparagus
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 lemon
Preheat oven (or a toaster oven works great if you're not making very much) to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Snap off, trim and discard the woody ends of the asparagus. Toss with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the asparagus, probably only a tablespoon or two. Season with salt and pepper and roast for about 15 minutes. When the asparagus is done, remove from oven and sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice.


Warm Potato Salad

Warm Potato Salad
1 1/2 lb new potatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size
2-3 slices bacon
1 1/2 T white wine vinegar
1 t dijon mustard
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 green onions, sliced
handful of parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Boil water in a large pot and cook potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, fry bacon in a saute pan. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. When cool, coarsely chop bacon.

Reserve 1 T bacon grease and place in small sauce pan. Heat pan over medium-low heat and add vinegar, mustard and olive oil. Whisk together while heating so that the ingredients come together, about 3-5 minutes.

Add sauce to potatoes. Toss in chopped bacon, green onions and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.


Balsamic Flank Steak

Balsamic Flank Steak
1 lb flank steak
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 T dijon mustard
1/2 t dried rosemary
1/2 t dried thyme
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a large ziploc bag and marinate meat in refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer. (I marinated mine for several hours.)
Preheat and oil grill pan to medium-high heat. Grill for several minutes on each side until it is medium-rare. Let meat rest for 5-10 minutes, slice thinly against the grain.


Picadillo Empanadas

>> Sunday, January 17, 2010

These were a little too tomato-y for me but they still tasted good. I think I'd make them again but add smaller amounts of the the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Also I was short on time so I used refrigerated pie crust dough in place of the cornmeal dough the recipes uses. Since I made appetizer-sized empanadas, the recipe made a ton (about 60!) so this would be a great recipe for a party.


Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Central Market has an Asian marinated pork tenderloin that we love but I usually don't have time to go to CM and HEB when I do my grocery shopping. I tried my own marinade and it turned out pretty good and it was really easy to put together in the morning and just throw in the oven in the evening.
Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin - serves 3
1 lb pork tenderloin
1/4 c soy sauce (I always use low sodium)
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lime
1 T dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
handful of cilantro, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 t red pepper flakes
In a large ziploc bag combine all ingredients, except for pork, and mix together. Add pork. Press air out of bag and seal. Place in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and roast pork tenderloin for 25-35 minutes, basting with marinade occasionally. Let pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
I served this with roasted veggies and brown rice.


Mississippi Mud Cake

Oh goodness, I was craving chocolate this week and this recipe fit the bill! And even better, it used up that random half a bag of marshmallows that had been hanging out in my cabinet for a month or two. I used a recipe from allrecipes.com and the only change I made was to substitute marshmallows for marshmallow cream. Andrew and I have both enjoyed snacking on this dessert all week!


Mediterranean Cous Cous

I love side dishes that can count as the carbohydrate and vegetables. I threw this little diddy together one night this week and I really liked how it turned out. So I decided to share!

Mediterranean Couscous
1 box couscous (I used pine nut couscous b/c that's what I had on hand)
1 T olive oil
1 zucchini, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
a handful of grape tomatoes, halved
a handful of kalamata olives, halved
a handful of feta cheese, crumbled
a small handful of parsley, chopped
juice of half of a lemon

Cook cous cous according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in pan. Add zucchini and garlic and saute for a few minutes until the zucchini is tender. Stir in tomatoes and olives just to heat through. Once cous cous is done, add the sauteed veggies, cheese, parsley and lemon juice.


Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

>> Monday, January 4, 2010

Sometimes plain ol' mashed potatoes are pretty boring - unless they're smothered in butter, but then again, everything's better with butter. Tonight I decided to spice up the mashed potatoes a bit with some goat cheese and chives. I purposely didn't tell Andrew that the potatoes had goat cheese in them since he claims he doesn't like it. Luckily Andrew gobbled them right up without any complaints!

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes - serves 4
4-5 baking potatoes, peeled and large diced
4 T butter
4 oz goat cheese (I used plain but herbed goat cheese would be good too)
10 chives, snipped
salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and fill pan with just enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium-high. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain potatoes and discard liquid. Place potatoes back in warm pan (but off the heat) and mash them with a fork. Add butter and goat cheese and stir to combine. Slowly add milk one tablespoon at a time to reach the desired consistency. Stir in chives, reserving some for garnish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Easy Beef Bulgogi

>> Sunday, January 3, 2010

My sister-in-law is Korean and introduced me to Korean food. I've watched Yeji make her bulgogi once or twice but I never paid attention to exactly how she did things. I started craving some bulgogi this afternoon and could not stop thinking about it. We have some pretty good Korean restaurants around our neighborhood, but Andrew and I are really trying to cook more and eat out less. So what was I left to do but attempt to make my own bulgogi at home! I have to say that while this recipe is probably not very authentic, it still had great flavor and Andrew and I really liked it. Best of all - I was able to buy all the ingredients at our local grocery store and didn't have to go to the Asian market.

Easy Beef Bulgogi
1 1/3 lb flank steak, tenderized
6 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 t chili garlic paste
2 1/2 T brown sugar
2 green onions, chopped
2 T sesame seeds

To serve
Cooked white rice
Red leaf lettuce
Soybean paste

Place flank steak in freezer for 30 minutes. Thinly slice against the grain.

In a food processor, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, chili paste, brown sugar, green onions and sesame seeds. Pulse until combined into a thin paste. Pour into a large ziploc bag and put the beef in as well. Rub marinade into beef. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat, cook beef until done. Serve with rice and bean paste (just a tad because it's pretty salty) and wrap in a lettuce leaf.


Spicy Asian Raw Zucchini Salad

Spicy Asian Raw Zucchini Salad
2 zucchinis, cut into matchsticks
2 green onions, chopped on diagonal
1/2 - 2 t chili garlic sauce*
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T sesame oil
1/2 t white sugar
1 T sesame seeds, toasted

Combine all ingredients except sesame seeds. Mix well and refrigerate several hours, stirring occasionally to redistribute the dressing. To serve, bring to room temperature and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

* The chili garlic sauce is pretty spicy so you can tailor the amount used to the level of spiciness you enjoy. A little goes a long ways!


Shrimp and Grits

>> Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tonight was chili weather but I wasn't in the mood for chili. I looked at what we had in the house and I decided on shrimp and grits - down-home, hearty food. After I looked at several recipes, I decided to wing it and the results were really good. Andrew and I both enjoyed this dish a lot and it came together very quickly. The down side is that I really needed a helper (luckily Andrew stepped up to the plate) to be stirring the grits while I worked on the shrimp sauce.
Shrimp and Grits - serves 4
for the grits
2 1/2 c chicken broth
1 c white corn meal
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c white cheddar, shredded
1 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
for the shrimp sauce
2 T olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t oregano
1 lb spicy sausage, sliced
3 T flour
1 1/2 c chicken broth
2 T worcestershire sauce
several dashes of hot sauce
1 bay leaf
1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined
green onions, chopped, for garnish
parsley, chopped, for garnish
For the grits, in a large pot over high heat, bring chicken broth to a boil. Stir in cornmeal and whisk nearly continuously for the first 2-3 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low and stir occasionally. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Mixture will be very thick. (Don't be tempted to add extra liquid - I did and our grits were a tad too runny.) Take it off the heat and stir in the cream, white cheddar cheese and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile for the shrimp sauce, in a large saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil. When hot, add onions and bell pepper and saute until the vegetables start to soften. Add garlic, oregano and sliced sausage and saute for about 5-7 minutes, or until sausage has rendered most of its fat. Add the flour and stir well to make an easy roux. Cook for 2-3 minutes - remember I said this was an easy, not authentic, roux! Slowly add chicken broth, stirring constantly so lumps don't develop. Add the worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and bay leaf. Allow mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Pull off the heat.
To serve, ladle grits in a bowl, top with the shrimp sauce and garnish with green onions and parsley. Delicious with a good white wine!


Creme Brulee French Toast

In a word - decadent! I'm definitely not a morning person so this was my kind of breakfast recipe. Made it the night before, then bleary-eyed I stumbled into the kitchen this morning and popped it into the oven. Forty minutes and several cups of coffee later, I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast.

I was surprised by how much flavor the brown sugar bottom imparted on the bread. I also really liked that the bread wasn't at all eggy or soggy but still had a nice crunch to it. The brown sugar crust is sweet enough that you do not need any syrup at all. I just dusted mine with sifted powdered sugar and it was dee-licious! Next time I might flip the bread over (brown sugar crust side up) and broil it for a minute to see if I could achieve that hardened sugar crust for which creme brulee is known. Anyway, since it was just Andrew and me for breakfast, I served the french toast by itself, but if I were making it for company staying with us, I'd probably serve it with scrambled eggs (or some other savory offering) and a fresh fruit salad. Now if we only had a guest room so we could actually have guests stay over...
Creme Brulee French Toast
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
6 French bread
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier®)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Arrange bread slices in the baking dish in a single layer. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla extract, orange brandy, and salt. Pour over the bread. Cover, and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and lightly browned.
Source AllRecipes.com, recipe submitted by Sandipants


Pumpkin Cheesecake

>> Friday, January 1, 2010

Yummy, yummy, yummy! Andrew and I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly. I loved its subtle flavor and the tang from the gingersnap crust - and I wasn't the only one who liked it. My father-in-law requested that it be added to the annual holiday menu!



Christmas Salad

With the typical Christmas melee, I totally forgot to take pictures of the dishes I brought, but both of them were really great so I wanted to post them anyway. For my salad, I used Tyler Florence's salad dressing but I changed the salad ingredients to better fit my tastes. I love all of the flavors of this salad individually and I thought they were absolutely fantastic all together. Additionally, the bright red of the pomegranite seeds and the bright green of the pistachio halves made the salad look festive and very fitting at a Christmas dinner. (I made a half recipe of the dressing as I don't like my salads to be completely saturated with dressing; however, in the dressing recipe below, I used the original amounts from Tyler's recipe.)

Christmas Salad
1 container baby spinach
1 bag arugula
1/2 pomegranite, seeded
1/2 c pistachios, shelled and halved
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 wedge Manchego cheese, shaved

1/4 c honey
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1 T grainy mustard
extra virgin olive oil

In a large salad bowl, combine spinach, arugula, pomegranite seeds, pistachios, shallots and Manchego.

In a small saucepan, combine honey and vinegar and cook over medium-high heat, whisking often, until the honey melts, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add mustard and stir to combine. Slowly add about 1 c olive oil while whisking the vinegar mixture. Pour dressing over the greens and serve.

Here's a link to the original recipe that I based this recipe off of:


Cheesy Bruschetta

Having made a batch of herb butter to use up some fresh herbs, I was looking for new ways to use it. I looked at the ingredients I had on hand - some french bread, left-over cheese and some honey - and decided to see how well those flavors would marry. I thought they got along great and really enjoyed making a light lunch out of these little nibbles! The herbs and the tangy cheese are really complimented by just a tad of sweetness from the honey and the crunch of the bread. Loved it!

Cheesy Bruschetta
1 loaf french bread, sliced into rounds
1 wedge creamy, soft cheese (I used a tangy Italian goat cheese but I think a feta would be good)
1 recipe herb butter (found in my archives under Sauces/Condiments)
honey, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, top each bread round with a slice of cheese and a dollop of herb butter. Bake rounds on a cookie sheet for about 5-10 minutes, or until the butter is fully melted and the cheese is softened. Once removed from oven, drizzle each round with honey and place of serving dish. Enjoy!


Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing

A few weeks ago, I used store bought bleu cheese dressing and was really disappointed with the flavor - it was oddly sweet. So I decided the next time I had a hankering for it, I'd make it from scratch. For my salad components, I used a mixture of baby spinach and arugula, halved grape tomatoes, avocado chunks and cucumber slices. I topped the salad dressing with fresh snipped chives and a good shake or two of pepper. I really liked this recipe and will definitely use it again!

Bleu Cheese Dressing
3/4 c plus 2 T sour cream
4 oz crumbled blue cheese (I used gorgonzola)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 T white wine vinegar
1 t Dijon mustard
3 T water (I used half water and half fresh squeezed lemon juice)
1 T finely snipped chives
salt and pepper

Place the sour cream, cheese, garlic vinegar, mustard and water in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chives. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source The Illustrated Kitchen Bible, Editor-in-chief Victoria Blashford-Snell


Herb Butter

I had some fresh herbs that I wanted to use before they went bad so I made some herb butter. So easy and it's delicious! It's an elegant way to dress up potatoes, sandwiches, rolls/biscuits, steaks, and just about anything savory that you'd normally put butter on.

Herb Butter
4 T butter, softened
assorted fresh herbs - I used chives, basil and parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch or two of salt

In a small bowl, mash butter and mix in herbs, garlic and salt. Combine until well-blended. Keeps for several days in the refrigerator.


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