Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Frittata & French Bread Casserole

Last Sunday we enjoyed Brunch with JD's family and I made a frittata and French Bread Casserole.

The frittata was pretty basic: I sauteed broccoli, shallot, garlic and peppers in a mixture of evoo and butter, then added a mixture of whisked eggs and half and half (season each step). Add shredded cheese (I used a mixture of swiss, fontina and "Italian blend") and cook until set up on the bottom and then place in oven at 375 degrees until cooked through (about 20-30 min.).

I also made Paula Deen's French Bread Casserole which was so sweet, it was almost like having dessert - for me, that makes a very happy brunch!

Mac n' goat cheese bites

My dear friend and super-mom, Tracey, makes these delicious macaroni and cheese bites and for my mom's birthday, I attempted to replicate.

My favorite macaroni and cheese recipe is Rachael Ray's Mac n' Goat Cheese.

In order to ensure that the pasta would hold together, I whisked one egg with some half and half, then added about a short log of goat cheese and whisked until smooth. I added the minced garlic to a pan and once golden brown, added the goat cheese mixture, then the tomatoes and wilted the spinach. Once the mini shells were cooked, I added to the cheese pot.

According to Tracey's instructions, I sprayed a mini-muffin pan with Pam , then coated each "cup" with grated parmesan cheese. I then filled each cup with the macaroni and cheese mixture and pressed down with a small juice cup and topped with fresh breadcrumbs and sprayed the tops with evoo. I baked for about 30 min. at 350 degrees.

Important: Do not attempt to un-mold until cooled for about 10-20 min. I made this mistake and was very discouraged until Tracey informed me of this little tip!

Artichoke, Leek & Potato Soup

Soup is one of those meals that JD really loves, so I'm always very encouraged to try new recipes.
This recipe was very easy because it required very little chopping or prep and had a delicious outcome - JD loved it!!

Vegetarian Times "Garlicky Leek & Artichoke Soup"
2 tbs olive oil
2 medium leeks (white parts - chopped) 2 cups
9 cloves garlic peeled
2 c. vegetable broth (I used bouillon cubes)
2 9.9oz. jars water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
6 thyme sprigs
2 tsp. lemon juice
6 tbs. prepared basil pesto

1. Heat oil in large suacepan over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic, and saute 5 minutes, or until leeks are softned and translucent. Add broth, artichokes, potatoes, thyme and 2 cups water, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; season with s&p if desired; and simmer, partially covered, 20 to 25 minutes, or until potatoes and garlic are very tender.
2. Remove thyme sprigs, and strip remaining thyme leaves into soup pot. Transfer soup to blender (I used immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Return to pot and stir in lemon juice. Season with s&p if desired and dollop one tbs of pesto in each bowl.

Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry

I've never been very successful, as you know, at making Asian food, but I finally made a recipe that was both good AND JD liked!! Success!!

It's a Rachael Ray recipe and I pretty much followed all of the steps, except for the egg, which I did not have and snow peas, which I don't like.

Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry

Brocolli & Mushroom Risotto

What's better or more comforting than risotto? Not much.
I had broccoli, baby spinach, a huge portobello cap, a shallot and garlic, so I chopped (broccoli), minced (garlic & shallot) and sliced (portobello & spinach) and sauteed in evoo on the side while making my risotto. I also had leftover champagne, so instead of adding the "usual" white wine, I added champagne and then at the end when the risotto was ready, I added the sauteed shallot, garlic, broccoli and mushroom, as well as the fresh spinach (to wilt) and stirred together. I also added basil and a little bit of shredded swiss cheese.

Warm, gooey and the ultimate comfort food.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


In celebration of "Fat Tuesday", or "Pancake Tuesday", we decided to make crepes ~ one of JD's favorites (very appropriate for my French husband)!

I am about to admit a failure here, so please try to still think kindly of me afterward...
I am a crepe disaster! Not only have I never attempted to make crepe batter myself, but after ruining several crepes, I can confidently say that crepes and I do not work well together.
Thankfully, Mr. Frenchy-French himself not only makes delicious crepe batter, but has that special, gentle touch required when making the delicate little pancakes!
The crepe master himself.....

Our first crepe is a new recipe I found on another blog and it is delicious and incredibly simple!! I thinly sliced one portobello mushroom, minced 1/2 shallot, combined in a saute pan with a combination of evoo and butter, S&P and thyme, then once the shallot is translucent, I added two splashes of brandy and two splashes of cream. Decadence.

Mushrooms and Shallots in a Brandy Cream Sauce

While visiting Barcelona, JD and I stumbled upon the most amazing Creperie (see JD sipping his Spanish wine, in a French restaurant... in Spain.)

I found their menu online and thus inspired our next crepe - Honey and goat's cheese.
It's truly as simple as that - just make the crepes, add goat's cheese and honey and voila! It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory... think chocolate covered pretzels. Amazing!

The crepe batter recipe we use: *Note: JD says that you may add herbs to the batter; the "perfect" batter portion is 3/4 of a 1/3 measuring cup; and it's best to add the fillings once you flip the crepe on the second side instead of trying to reheat them on a pan later with fillings because they can get greasy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cous Cous Stuffed Peppers

Last night was leftover night!
On Friday night, I made veggie cous cous. I sauteed onions, garlic, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash and mushrooms (all diced) in a little bit of evoo and added some S&P and Italian seasonings.
On Saturday, we bought little peppers to stuff with cheese. I wanted to make a few "healthier", so I added shredded swiss cheese and a Mexican 4 cheese blend I had, as well as some minced roasted garlic, to the leftover cous cous and stuffed the little peppers with it.
This all leads up to leftover Monday! I bought one poblano pepper, cut out the top and cut the seeds away from it and dumped out the seeds, then stuffed the pepper with the above cheese/cous cous mixture, replaced the top, sprayed it with evoo and wrapped it in foil to bake at 425 degrees for about 30 min. It was very good and filling!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cheese Fondue

On Valentine's Day, does anything really show more love than a big bowl of ooey, gooey, luxurious cheese?! The answer, is of course, no! So this V-Day, we did just that - we melted our favorite cheeses and paired it up with yummy
"dippers" like baguette pieces, lightly sauteed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and asparagus and "faux" chicken nuggets. I also love to par-boil fingerling potatoes, but we didn't make any this time.

Below is the very rough recipe we used.

For my "bestie", Christine: I hope you and Matt enjoy this as much as we always do!! xox

Approximately 1 pound of shredded cheese: we used swiss, fontina and a 4 cheese Mexican blend
1 cup of white wine (we used 1/2 cup of white wine and 1/2 cup sherry because that's what we had)
1 tbls lemon juice
1 garlic clove - minced
2 tbls brandy or kirsch (we used sherry because, again, that's what we had)
2 tsp corn starch
Bring the cup of wine and lemon juice to a boil over medium heat, add the garlic and cheese. I add about 1/2 cup at a time and stir in a "figure 8" (I'm not sure why, but almost every recipe says to, so I do it, haha). Once all of the cheese is melted, whisk together the cornstarch and brandy/kirsch in a separate bowl and then add to cheese and stir together.

Serve with your favorite dippers!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mexican Fiesta!

Mexican food has to be one of my most favorite cuisines and what I love about it is that's easy to make and because of the demographic in our area, we have a plethora of ingredients readily available! I absolutely love Asian food, but for the life of me, I cannot make anything that tastes any where close to what it tastes like in restaurants! Mexican food - now that's something I can make!

Now I'm not sure if corn fritters are necessarily "Mexican", but corn and cilantro are used heavily in Mexican, especially Tex-Mex, dishes, so I figured that it was an acceptable addition to our fiesta!

The filling for the fritters is absolutely delicious (and I used frozen corn since it's not available fresh right now locally) and very easy to make! If you like mint, than you will most likely enjoy the mint-pepper topping. I will say that it does add a freshness and even a bit of a "kick", but since I do not like mint, I wouldn't make it again next time.

I went to the farm stand will all intention of making Butternut Squash, Leek and Feta quesadillas, but then I saw portobello mushrooms and well, that went out the window! So instead I decided to make Portobello mushrooms and leeks in a swiss cheese-bechamel sauce quesadilla!

4 portobello caps - gills removed and sliced
3 cloves of garlic - minced
1 chipotle pepper - minced (adds a lot of smokiness and heat, so if you don't like spicy foods, omit)
1 leek - cleaned thoroughly and sliced
1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour (I just guessed)
1/2 cup skim milk (again, guessed)
1/3 - 1/2 cup chopped swiss cheese
1/2 cup white wine or sherry
S&P and white pepper
4 corn tortillas (I used white corn)
In a medium saute pan, add some evoo to the pan and heat (medium), add garlic and leeks and saute for about one minute, add mushrooms and S&P. Saute until somewhat softened and then add wine and chipotle pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer.
In another medium saute pan, add the butter and melt. Once melted, add the flour and stir until light brown and smells "nutty". Slowly add in the milk and whisk until bubbly, then reduce the heat to low, add salt and white pepper. Once thickened, add the swiss cheese and stir until melted.
Assemble the quesadillas by spreading some of the bechamel/swiss cheese mixture onto one tortilla, top with mushroom mixture and then add more of the bechamel/swiss cheese mixture to another tortilla and top. Place in a heated pan with a little bit of Pam or evoo until golden brown on both sides.

And finally, we made Meyer Lemon Margaritas! Yum! Very light and zesty. Only change I made was that I made a simple syrup and added about 1 oz. to the cocktail shaker.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Roasted Apple/Caramel Brie

The Birthday Girl!

Over the weekend we celebrated my big sister's "Dirty Thirty"! We made a bunch of appetizers, but one "new creation" seemed to stand out the most (and conveniently, it's the only one I managed to take a picture of!).

Roasted Apple/Caramel Brie
2 red apples - peeled, sliced and cored
1 cup of caramel topping (found in the produce aisle)
2-3 tbs butter
2 tbs brandy (or bourbon)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 small wheel of brie

Rub the apple slices with butter and roast on 400 degrees until softened. In the meantime, place the caramel and butter into a saucepan and melt/stir together over medium heat. Once combined, stir in the liquor. Chop the apples and add to the caramel mixture. Add the walnuts and stir together. Cut the white off the top and bottom of the brie and then slice in half, horizontally. Place some of the apple/caramel mixture in the middle of the two brie slices and then top with more apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until all melty, gooey and delicious! YUM-O!

(pic is of the brie before being heated) The "Chefs" of the afternoon