Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pecan Upside Down Cakes

 Pecan Upside Down Cakes

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla
Orange peel curls (optional)

1.    Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat 12 jumbo muffin cups with nonstick spray for baking; set aside.

2.    In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and honey. Cook and stir over medium heat or until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans and shredded orange peel; set aside.

3.    In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

4.    For batter, in a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick and lemon colored. Add oil, sour cream, and vanilla; beat until combined. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed until smooth.

5.    Place 2 tbsp. of the pecan mixture in the bottom of each muffin cup. Spoon a heaping 1/3 cup of the batter into each cup. Place muffin pans on a foil-lined baking sheet.

6.    Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in muffin pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife or narrow metal spatula, loosen edges of cakes from sides of muffin cups. Invert cakes on to wire racks lined with wax paper. Spoon any pecan mixture remaining in the muffin cups on to cakes. If desired, garnish with orange peel. Serve warm or cool.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pasta with Peas and Ham

Instead of dealing with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, we came home with half a spiral-cut ham. (Yes, we did have turkey on Thanksgiving - but Ken and I ended up with the leftover ham instead.) As much as we like spiral-sliced ham, we got tired of eating it after a few meals and I had to find creative ways to use it. When I'm not feeling very creative and need recipe inspiration, I usually head to the Epicurious website, which is where I found the following recipe. I was immediately drawn to it because one of my favorite dishes at Tiramisu contains pasta, ham and peas. Although my pasta was pretty good, it didn't even compare to the Tiramisu dish . . . but that's okay. It wouldn't be such a treat to eat at Tiramisu if I could replicate their pasta at home!

Pasta with Peas and Ham 

1 pound pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp. water
6 oz. cooked ham, cut into strips (chopped prosciutto would also work)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, warm 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter starts to bubble, add shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic during last minute of cooking.

3. Add the peas and water to the pan and cook 3 minutes, stirring. Stir in the ham and cook 2 minutes. Add the cream; bring to a low simmer and cook 5 minutes.

4. Drain pasta; place in large serving bowl. Stir remaining 2 tablespoons butter into the cream mixture over low heat until melted. Stir in the cheese. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  - Adapted from

Friday, November 20, 2009

Salted Oatmeal Cookies

What do you associate with oatmeal cookies? The sad, lonely plate that nobody buys at a bake sale? Something old ladies have with tea? A dry, bland cookie with raisins? Somebody's attempt at making a "healthy cookie?" If those things come to mind when someone mentions oatmeal cookies, get out your mixing bowl and cookie sheets, because this recipe will break the oatmeal cookie stereotype.

I found this recipe in Cook's Illustrated when I was trying to replicate a cranberry-oatmeal cookie from a bakery. I was pleased with the outcome, but they didn't really stand out. At least not until I decided to add kosher salt. With that addition, the resulting cookies are both sweet and salty . . . or in other words, awesome. I took a batch to a gathering at my friend Amanda's last year and although I can't prove it, I think she may have actually clapped when I said I was leaving the whole plate with her at the end of the evening. Now, instead of a cake, she gets oatmeal cookies for her birthday. Next year I'll have to make sure to bake her batch to be the thicker/chewier variety (see below) so we can put candles in them!

Salted Oatmeal Cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. kosher salt or extra coarse sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Add sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
4. With a wooden spoon, stir dry ingredients into butter/sugar/egg mix. Stir in oats.
5. For thinner, crispier cookies, bake at 350 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes. For thicker, chewier cookies, refrigerate dough at least one hour and bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 23 minutes. For either baking method, use 2 tbsp. dough per cookie and space 2 inches apart when baking. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet a few moments, then transfer to wire racks to cool. (The thinner/crispier cookies are shown above)

- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (omit nutmeg) - mix in with oats
- 2 tbsp. orange zest and 1 cup dried cranberries and/or  1 cup toasted chopped almonds (omit nutmeg) - mix in with oats
                                              - Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Butternut Squash

I'm trying to share my bounty of butternut squash from the garden, but having trouble finding people to share with. I can understand the reluctance to take zucchini in the summer . . . but who would not want butternut squash? A couple of people have said "I don't know what to do with butternut squash." Of course, that could just be a polite way to decline, but maybe they're telling the truth. If so, here are some suggestions:

Butternut Squash Risotto
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette 

Or you could toss roasted squash with Fettuccine Alfredo, fresh sage, and fresh thyme . . . and fried sage if you're really motivated! (I created this, so there is no real recipe - I'll try to post a recipe, or at least some guidelines, soon!)

More options:
Parmesan-Roasted Butternut Squash
Winter Squash Soup with Croutons
Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagna
Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
Caramelized Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash Muffins with Frosted Cream
Butternut Squash and Parmesan Bread Pudding

Planning for Thanksgiving

Last year, I reviewed Thanksgiving menus from several food magazines (part one - part two - part three). It was fun, but I don't think I have time to do the same this year. However, I have been thinking about my contributions to our Thanksgiving meal. So far I have only settled on one thing - this salad:

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette 
1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces mixed greens, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Place the mixed greens in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.  - Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, via the Food Network

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicken with Bacon & White Wine

If you have leftover wine and a few spare strips of bacon to use and you need a quick and tasty dinner, I highly recommend this:

Chicken with Bacon and White Wine (or Chicken Schnitzel)
1 tsp. garlic flavored oil
4 strips bacon
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 oz. each), pounded thin
1/3 cup dry white wine

Add oil and bacon to a large skillet. Fry bacon until crisp. Place strips of bacon on a plate lined with paper towels; cover with a piece of foil (leave juices - aka grease - in skillet).

Fry chicken for approximately 2 minutes per side, or until no longer pink inside. Remove chicken to a serving plate. Pour wine into the skillet, allowing it to bubble up. Pour over chicken. Crumble bacon on top of chicken.  - Original recipe from Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson

Monday, September 14, 2009

Potato Gratin with Fresh Herbs

When you find purple potatoes . . . drench them in herb-infused cream? Yep! Unless you're on a diet, it's a great idea! My first experience with this dish was last Thanksgiving, and when I found "all blue" potatoes at the Green City Market in Chicago, I knew I was going to drag them home just for this recipe. Serious comfort food . . .
4 pounds mixed baby potatoes, such as Red Bliss, Peruvian Purples, and Fingerlings
2 cups heavy cream, plus some to cover
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
2 sprigs each fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Halve the potatoes and toss them into a large baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, put the cream, butter, herbs, and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, to infuse the cream with flavor. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the hot cream mixture over the potatoes; if there is not enough cream to go 3/4 of the way up the potatoes then pour some additional cream on top to make up the difference. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and top begins to brown. Top with additional fresh thyme and serve with additional fresh rosemary as a garnish. Serve immediately, or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
- Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray, via

Tomatoes & Salsa

I lost access to my blog for a little while . . . so I'm way behind on posts! Here are a few photos from my own personal tomato festival:

My first batch of salsa . . . I had never canned anything before and was pretty nervous that I might end up with tomato splattered all over the kitchen. It seemed like a lot of work for the amount of salsa I ended up with, but things actually went smoothly - thanks entirely to my friend Amanda, who was kind enough to chop tomatoes with me all afternoon and walk me through the canning process!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

White Pizza with Arugula

As much as I love to cook, I have to admit that yeast breads are not always my favorite project. Sometimes it seems like they require too much patience and planning, which can be difficult given the fast pace of life. This pizza dough, however, is one of the easier yeast bread recipes I have used - and the result is absolutely worth the effort!
Unless this is your first time reading my blog, you know that my husband is a meat & potatoes guy - and you can guess what his response is to a white pizza with arugula . . . and no meat! Despite the lack of meat, he gave the recipe his endorsement - "This pizza is really good, even without meat! The crust has a good flavor." (Husb tried it without the arugula)

Thanks to Andrea for selecting such a DELICIOUS recipe for Barefoot Bloggers!

White Pizza with Arugula

For the dough:
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:
3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 oz.) I used Raclette cheese because I had it on hand
1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 oz.) OR one 8 oz. pkg fresh mozzarella pearls (not grated)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby arugula
1 lemon, sliced

freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Mix the dough - Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand - When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise - Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil - Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Portion the dough - Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Stretch the dough - Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Top the dough - Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown. Top each pizza with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan.

Make the vinaigrette - Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add the greens - When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza; add a slice of lemon and freshly grated Parmesan and serve immediately.
- Adapted (ever so slightly!) from the Barefoot Contessa, via

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vanilla-Orange Cream Popsicles

I promise I make more than popsicles and ice cream . . . the real food just isn't as fun to blog about, I guess. Eating Well magazine had a small section featuring homemade "freezer pop" recipes in their July/August 2009 issue; so far I have tried 2 of the 5 pops and they have both turned out to be tasty and refreshing summer treats! I have had so much fun making freezer pops that I even bought a really cool set of silicone popsicle molds (see the swirl-cone effect?).

Vanilla-Orange Cream Pops (aka Orange Julius on a Stick)
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 1/2 cups low fat vanilla yogurt
1-2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl; divide mixture among freezer pop molds and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Briefly run warm water over molds to release popsicles. Makes ten 3-oz. servings.

Per serving: 53 calories, 1 g fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 10 g carb, 2 g protein, 0 g fiber. 32% daily value of Vitamin C.
- Recipe and nutrition facts from Eating Well magazine

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This might possibly be . . .

The best ice cream EVER.
Yes, it is a bold statement . . . but I believe it to be true. I saw this recipe a year ago, on the blog of the very talented Emiline. It has been on my 101 list since then, and the combination of company last weekend and fresh peaches finally pushed it up on the priority list. This may not make sense, but it is so good that I both a) wish I had made it last summer and b) wish I had never made it at all. Why? Because all ice cream I make will now be compared to this, and honestly, I can't imagine what would top it. The flavors balance perfectly - it is sweet, tart, creamy, and occasionally crunchy and salty (when you get a walnut) all at once.

Buttermilk Frozen Custard with Bourbon Brandy Roasted Peaches and Brown Sugar Walnuts (Original recipe by Emiline; slightly adapted version below)

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
6 large egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream or half-and-half (I used 1.5 cups of each)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
6 tablespoons brown sugar, divided use
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup coarsely chopped firm ripe peaches, peeled
2 tablespoons Brandy

Whisk together buttermilk and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl.

Whisk together cream and sugar, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, and bring mixture to a boil. Gradually whisk half of the hot cream into eggs, until well combined. Whisk egg mixture back into saucepan containing remaining cream. Heat mixture, whisking constantly, until custard coats the back of a spoon.

Strain custard into a large mixing bowl, and whisk in vanilla.
Cool custard for 30 minutes; lightly cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make the brown sugar walnuts, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet, over medium heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons brown sugar, salt and walnuts, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved, and walnuts are golden and fragrant. Pour into a small bowl and cool completely.

To make the peaches, melt the additional 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet, over medium heat. Stir in the additional 3 tablespoons brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add peaches and Bourbon, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender and syrupy. Pour into a small bowl and cool completely.

Pour custard into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions. In the last 5 minutes of processing, add walnuts and peaches, and allow to finish churning. Pour into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 hours, or until ready to serve.

Yield: 8 servings
Source: Visions of Sugar Plum, by Emiline - check it out, she has amazing treat recipes!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mocha Ice Pops

One of my favorite beverages is an iced mocha, so I was thrilled to find a simple recipe for Mocha Ice Pops in the July/Aug. issue of Eating Well. The recipe takes only a few minutes to prepare and the result is a low calorie, cold and refreshing treat . . . it is definitely more icy than creamy, and somehow manages to taste both light and rich. Highly recommended for coffee/mocha fans!

Mocha Ice Pops
2 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
5 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Whisk together coffee, sugar, and cocoa in a medium bowl until sugar has dissolved. Stir in half-and-half, vanilla and salt until combined.

Divide mixture among freezer-pop molds, insert sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Run mold under hot water briefly to remove ice pops from mold.

Makes 10 three-ounce popsicles. Per serving: 54 calories, 3 g fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 7 g carb, 1 g protein, 0 g fiber.
- Recipe from Eating Well magazine

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Banana Mango Daiquiris

For the first August Barefoot Bloggers recipe, Veronica chose Banana Mango Daiquiris. I halved the recipe below, because even though we probably could have consumed the whole recipe, it would not have been a good idea! If you use frozen mango and have a little bit left over, this recipe also makes a good smoothie when you leave out the rum. Strawberries are also a good addition, if you have some (fresh or frozen) you need to use.

Banana Mango Daiquiris

2 cups chopped ripe (or frozen) mango
1 ripe banana, chopped
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
1/4 cup sugar syrup*
1 1/4 cups dark rum
Mango slices, for serving

Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with the mango slices.

*To make simple syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Chill.
- Recipe from Ina Garten

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009


A little sample of the heirloom tomatoes from my garden . . .Beautiful and tasty . . .
I've got to start making salsa . . . or something!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Mojito ice cream

A mojito isn't something I drink often, but while I was dreaming up ice cream flavors and trying to find a way to use some of the lime mint in my garden, it occurred to me that mojito ice cream might be a nice summer treat. I wasn't able to find a recipe so I used a basic ice cream formula and added mint, lime and rum. To be honest, the results have been mixed. My friend A. liked the ice cream, while B. wasn't crazy about it until she added chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Another A. also liked it, but L. wasn't so sure about it. (hmm . . . I see a trend here - if your name starts with "A" you will like this ice cream . . .). My opinion? Loved it! I think it is very refreshing, and the flavors of the mint and lime really shine through. The rum also keeps it from freezing too hard, which homemade ice cream sometimes does. If you're up for an adventure and are a fan of fresh mint, you should definitely give this ice cream a try!

Mojito ice cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup fresh lime mint leaves
4 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. lime zest
2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
3 tbsp. rum

1. Warm the milk, sugar, and 1 cup of the cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the mint leaves. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Strain the mint-infused mixture through a mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Pour the remaining 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream into a large bowl and set the strainer on top.

3. Re-warm the mint-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and salt. Slowly pour the warm mint liquid into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath. Stir in lime zest, lime juice, and rum.

5. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator; then freeze in ice cream maker according to instructions. Transfer to a freezer-proof container and freeze at least 4-6 hours before serving.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Peach Crumble

It's a good thing there are plenty of ripe peaches for sale, because for the second July Barefoot Bloggers recipe Aggie chose Peach & Blueberry Crumbles, from The Barefoot Contessa at Home. As you can tell, I left out the blueberries. Great recipe - thanks, Aggie!
(pictures coming soon)

Peach Crumble

For the Fruit:
2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the Crumble:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel peaches with piranha peeler - or if you don't have one:
Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel.
3. Slice peeled peaches into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.

4. For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles int he refrigerator and bake before dinner. Serves 5 to 6.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

July's first Barefoot Bloggers recipe is Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes (although I think that is a bad title, because it is really so much more!), chosen by Cat of Delta Whiskey. Check out Cat's blog - not only is she a fellow Barefoot Contessa fan & cook, she's also a proud military wife - so inspiring (and she shares my birthday!). While you're there, tell her she picked out a GREAT recipe - loved this with fresh Cherokee Purple tomatoes from my garden!

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta (I used brown rice pasta)
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Banana Ice Cream

A couple weeks ago, bananas were on sale at our local grocery store, and I did what any banana loving person would do . . . bought not two or three - but four bunches. We ate bananas for breakfast and snacks, made two batches of banana bread to freeze and still had one bunch leftover. I also had cream left from making ice cream. Luckily, I stumbled across a recipe for banana ice cream that called for very (very, very!) ripe bananas and cream - and best of all, did not require cooking. Perfect!

The ice cream tastes exactly as you would expect it to - like bananas and cream. It has an unmistakable banana flavor - but when combined with toppings (like chocolate sauce and toffee peanuts) it's not overwhelming. To be absolutely honest, I'm not going to sneaking little bites of this ice cream from the freezer . . . but I think if a few more "banana split" toppings were added it would make a wonderful summer treat!

Banana Ice Cream
2 cups pureed very ripe bananas (4 medium)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Stir together banana puree, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt. Let stand for a few minutes; stir again to make sure sugar has dissolved. Chill mixture for 30 minutes. Freeze according to instructions for your ice cream machine. Transfer to an airtight, freezer proof container and freeze until ice cream is hard enough to scoop.
- Recipe adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Coming Soon

A little preview of what I'm working on for Kenzie's Kitchen:
Chocolate cinnamon cake, rum cake, and rustic shortbread tart

Garden Chicken Salad

Potato Salad

Easy Grilled Chicken & Zucchini

Roasted Vegetable Fettuccine

Mojito Ice Cream
Banana Ice Cream

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Garden Burger

I'm not sure if this was the best burger I have ever had . . . but it was definitely the best burger I have ever had at home! The texture of the burger was perfect (Ken did a great job grilling), and the toppings were full of flavor. It's that time of year where I'm constantly looking for ways to incorporate zucchini into our meals, so I decided to put some on top of my burger. I also had some really great Thai Basil Jack cheese from the farmers market . . . zucchini, basil . . . one topping led to another and I ended up with a garden burger.


Burger - 1 pkg. of ground beef (from our freezer; about 1 lb.) plus 1 egg, approximately 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and shape into patties. Make an indention in the center so patty is thicker on edges than in the middle (kind of like a doughnut but don't actually make a hole). Grill. Add cheese during last 1-2 minutes of grilling.

While burgers are grilling, saute zucchini in olive oil with salt and pepper. Remove zucchini to plate, add more olive oil and saute Swiss chard and finely chopped garlic in same skillet (1 to 2 minutes, just enough to wilt Swiss chard). Slice red pepper and cucumber. Toast bun.

To assemble: Bun - top with wilted Swiss chard - place burger on top of Swiss chard - place zucchini on top of burger - top with red pepper and cucumbers.

I considered adding guacamole, but ultimately decided against it because I was afraid its flavor would be overwhelming. Mayonnaise with fresh herbs might be a good addition - although this burger really did not need any extra moisture. I think I'm ready for a burger throwdown with Bobby Flay!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Did you know that gazpacho makes the perfect summer dinner? No, you didn't know that? Don't worry - I didn't know either, until I made it . . . and then ate it for dinner three consecutive nights in a row. It was easy the first night - chop vegetables, dump them in a food processor, whisk in a couple of additional ingredients . . . but nights 2 and 3 were even better - just take it out of the refrigerator and pour into a soup bowl. No cooking involved - which is great, considering the horrible heat and humidity!

If you haven't tried gazpacho, it is a cold tomato and vegetable soup. The best way I could describe it is that it's kind of like a cross between tomato soup and salsa. I made gazpacho this week because Meryl chose it for the second June Barefoot Bloggers recipe (Barefoot Bloggers are food bloggers who cook recipes from Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa). Anyway, if you haven't tried gazpacho, you should . . . it's a nice antidote to the summer heat.

1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately throw all the chopped vegetables and onion into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped - or until mixture reaches desired consistency.

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

First Vegetable Harvest

I've been using the garden as an excuse not to cook (planting, mulching, pulling weeds . . . all takes time). However, now that I have vegetables ready to eat - I guess I'll have to cook! Tonight I picked the first two vegetables of the season (not counting lettuce and spinach) - one cucumber and one zucchini. When I bought the zucchini plants at a local garden center, I thought I was getting 8-ball zucchini - but clearly I did not! Oh well . . . I'm still excited for vegetable season to begin!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Curried Couscous

Recipes with curry are like an annoying relative you have to endure once a year . . . kind of familiar, kind of strange, and dreaded just a little bit. Or maybe I just feel that way because I associate curry with a dreaded part of our Thanksgiving dinner. No, I don't dread seeing the relatives. It's a curried fruit dish that is always on the table . . . to be honest, I never even try it, choosing instead to roll my eyes as I pass it to the next person. Anyway . . .

The first Barefoot Bloggers recipe for the month of June was Curried Couscous, chosen by Ellyn of Recipe Collector and Tester. Despite my reluctance to purchase and use curry spice, I actually kind of liked this dish. The textures and flavors of all the add-ins help take the focus off the curry. Ken even ate it, despite saying that the "spices are weird" and "so is the texture." I think I will make this again, but I might tweak the spices and try some new additions. My only advice is NOT to skip the raisins (or currants, cranberries, whatever) - because that sweetness really balances the other flavors.

Curried Couscous

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine or champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.
- Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten, via

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BB: Outrageous Brownies

As strange as it may sound, given my love for chocolate, I did not love these brownies. Maybe I did something wrong . . . I have made brownies from The Barefoot Contessa's boxed brownie mix a couple of times, and I think the boxed mix turns out better than making the recipe from scratch. Specifically, I didn't enjoy biting into a piece of kosher salt in the middle of a fudgy brownie. Normally I think salty and sweet is about the best combination possible (and I love using kosher salt in some sweets, like oatmeal cookies), but to encounter crunchy salt in a fudgy brownie . . . just wasn't for me. Making this recipe was not a good use of my time - or the ingredients. Live and learn . . .

Outrageous Brownies
1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan two disposable 11 x 9 x 1 1/2 pans.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.
- Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa, via

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Old-Time Doughnuts

Want to be a hero? Just get an OLD Betty Crocker cookbook and try a recipe - like doughnuts.

I made these Old-Time Doughnuts on Memorial Day. We usually don't get to travel/go to the lake/visit friends and family/etc. over Memorial Day weekend thanks to corn and/or soybean planting . . . so I decide to make up for it by frying something. I know, it's weird - and BAD for us - but it's only once a year!

Last year I fried homemade onion rings, this year I chose doughnuts. My husband went crazy over these, claiming they were a perfect replica of the doughnuts his great-aunt used to make. She must have had the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook too!

Old-Time Doughnuts
(These seem like a cross between a cake dougnut and a glazed (yeast) doughnut)

Beat well: 2 eggs

Beat in: 1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. butter

Stir in: 3/4 cup buttermilk

Sift together and stir in: 3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Chill dough 2 hours. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/3-inch thick (this dough rolls out beautifully). Cut with a floured doughnut cutter (or cookie cutters if you don't have a doughnut cutter - and honestly, who does have one?). Heat fat/oil while rolling and cutting doughnuts . . . When oil reaches 390 degrees, use a wide metal spatula to transfer dough into oil. Fry as many at one time as you can easily turn. Turn doughnuts as they rise to the surface and begin to turn brown. Fry about 3 minutes total, or until each side is golden brown. Carefully remove doughnuts from the oil and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Allow to cool for a moment. To coat with sugar, place one doughnut at a time in a paper bag with sugar - shake well. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 dozen 3-inch doughnuts
- Recipe from Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook (1950)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Kitchen Garden

This is why I have been neglecting my blog: the garden.
My dad built these defined beds for me (I wanted to do this last year, but I guess I had to struggle through my first year of vegetable gardening without defined beds to prove that I was serious about it - probably a good idea, because this project was a lot of work!). I love this layout because it allows me to access each bed from both sides. It should be better for the plants, since I'm not compacting the soil by walking in the beds. Plus, I can easily keep certain groups of plants together (companion planting) or away from each other - and I can make adjustments to the soil for specific plants (which will be especially good for blueberries).
As you can see, I still have lots of work to do - more planting, more mulching, and (unfortunately) some weeding. I was pretty exhausted when I took these pictures, so they aren't the best, but hopefully will give you some idea of how the garden is set up. I'm probably forgetting a couple of things, but here is what I have planted so far:

Tomatoes (more than 30 plants [yes, I am crazy] - all heirloom):

Abe Lincoln
Big Rainbow Stripe
Cherokee Purple
Mr. Stripey
Old German
Radiator Charlie (Mortgage Lifter)
Red Cherry
San Marzano

8-Ball Zucchini
Acorn Squash
Brussels Sprouts
Butternut Squash
Mesclun Mix
Ruby Swiss Chard
Sugar Loaf Delicata Squash
Sweet Bell Peppers (red, yellow, green, orange)
Sweet Potatoes

Basil (Sweet and Thai varieties)
Lime Mint
Pineapple Sage
Texas Tarragon
Thyme (regular and lemon varieties)

Plants in the permanent bed:

Flowers (mostly for companion planting purposes, except the zinnias):

If you can believe it, I still have more things to plant - and some I wanted to plant but missed the opportunity because it got too late in the spring. If all goes well (and if I get enough tomato cages), I hope to have a "tomato festival" party in the late summer. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

BB: Lemon Cake

This month, I got to pick the Barefoot Bloggers "bonus" recipe. It didn't take long to decide on lemon cake - spring is the perfect time for lemon . . . and it was also a co-worker's birthday, so it was a great opportunity for me to bake a cake.

To be honest, I liked this cake - but it wasn't the best cake I've ever baked. I think it was a little too tart (there I go again, criticizing something for having too much lemon - and I'm normally a lemon fan). I'm not opposed to making this cake again - next time, I'll cut down the amount of lemon zest in the batter.


1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides. I grated a bit more lemon zest on top of the glaze.
- Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa, via

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

BB: Cheese Danish FAIL

For the first Barefoot Bloggers recipe of May, I decided to do a little Barefoot Backtracking and made Easy Cheese Danishes instead of Tuna Salad. I thought this would be a great decision - I mean, who wouldn't choose a cheese danish over tuna salad? However, if I had to do it over again (and if I could get fresh tuna), I might just skip the danish. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but it did not turn out well at all. The filling was too lemony for me (which is unusual because I love lemon), dry and almost gritty . . . and the puff pastry was chewy (I think it may have been thawed and frozen again . . . not good). It looked pretty, but looks can be deceiving . . .

Sunday, May 17, 2009

History Worth Repeating

a.k.a. Oatmeal Muffins

I recently acquired the 1950 edition of Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book from my Grandma Margaret. I have to admit, I wasn't convinced I needed this book at first . . . but after I took time to look through it, I'm so glad I have it! First, it is interesting to see how recipes were written and the types of things that were popular to cook in 1950. Second, she has certain recipes flagged and even notes written on some pages. For example, the recipe for Spritz cookies (one of my grandma's signatures) is boldly crossed out with the note "no good" written next to it - obviously that wasn't the recipe she always used! Ha!

As I looked through the recipes, I was surprised not only by how much has changed - but by how much has remained the same over the past 59 years. I added several of the recipes to my list of things to try, but these oatmeal muffins really jumped out at me. Maybe because the description says "They're marvelous. So moist at rich!" People just don't use 'marvelous' much any more . . .

I'm a big fan of almost anything oatmeal, so perhaps I'm biased - I think these muffins are marvelous! However, I can also think of several adaptations I would like to try (not all at the same time, of course):
  • Add more sweetner (maybe maple syrup) (these muffins are only subtly sweet)
  • Add cinnamon
  • Add chopped apples
  • Add cranberries and orange zest (and maybe white chocolate drizzle)
  • Top with maple syrup/powdered sugar glaze
  • Use coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • Soak the oatmeal longer
  • Substitute spelt flour
Okay, enough ideas - here is the recipe:

Oatmeal Muffins

Soak together for one hour . . .
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk

Mix together thoroughly . . .
1/3 cup butter (it actually calls for shortening - no thanks)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg

Sift together . . .
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

and stir in alternately with rolled oats and buttermilk.

Fill lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Yield: about 12 muffins

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Strawberry Sherbet

My favorite thing about late Spring is buying locally grown, super fresh strawberries. However, I'm not always patient enough to wait for that time to come, so when our grocery store had strawberries on sale for 99 cents/lb., I stocked up. Fortunately, this month's issue of Eating Well had several strawberry recipes, including the one below. This recipe came together very easily and the sherbet was delicious. However, once it is frozen solid, it takes quite a while for it to soften enough to scoop, so plan accordingly.

Strawberry Sherbet

2 cups chopped fresh strawberries (about 10 ounces), divided
1/2 cup sugar (or your choice of honey, agave, rapadura, etc.)
2 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1. Combine 1 cup berries and sugar in a small bowl and let sit, stirring occasionally until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes. Transfer the berry mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth (my Magic Bullet worked beautifully and was just the right size for this amount of berries).

2. Meanwhile, combine buttermilk, half-and-half, lemon juice, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl. Press the strawberry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl. Stir, cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

3. Whisk the sherbet mixture and pour into the canister of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. During the last 5 minutes of freezing, add the remaining 1 cup chopped berries. If necessary, place the sherbet in the freezer to firm up before serving. (If the sherbet becomes very hard in the freezer, soften it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before scooping.)

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 112 calories; 2 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 7 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber; 94 mg sodium; 86 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (40% daily value). 1 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings
Exchanges: 1/2 fruit, 1 carbohydrate (other), 1/2 low-fat milk
Recipe and nutrition information from Eating Well magazine

Arugula, Prosciutto & Gruyere-Stuffed Chicken with Caramelized Shallot Sauce

Alternate post title: Why I am not a recipe writer!

This recipe has been on my "list" for quite a while, and now that I have fresh arugula from the garden, I thought it was time to try it. However, I didn't exactly follow the recipe and therefore am sharing two takes on this dish - my version and the original Cooking Light recipe. The biggest difference is that I left out a few sauce ingredients - I didn't want to use cornstarch and I didn't think tomato paste would really be a good addition. If anyone tries the original version with tomato, let me know how you like it (and sorry for the imprecision of my version of the recipe)!

Arugula, Prosciutto & Gruyere-Stuffed Chicken with Caramelized Shallot Sauce - my way:

Pound out 2 chicken breasts to 1/4-inch thickness (I accomplish this by wrapping them in wax paper and beating with a rolling pin). Top half of each piece of chicken with a couple slices Gruyere cheese, a few arugula leaves, and a piece of prosciutto. Fold the other half of the piece of chicken over the "toppings" and attempt to press together the edges. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over both sides of chicken. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to skillet. Brown approximately 5 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a baking dish and place in preheated oven. Bake approximately 10 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Meanwhile, saute thinly sliced shallots in original skillet (add extra olive oil if necessary). When shallots have browned, pour in a little dry white wine (use something you'd actually drink, not the cheapest bottle you can find - I used Pinot Grigio), then add a little chicken stock. Boil until reduced by half. Pour onions/sauce over chicken breasts to serve.

The original recipe from Cooking Light:

6 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 (1/2-ounce) slices prosciutto
6 (1/2-ounce) slices Gruyère cheese
1 1/2 cups trimmed arugula
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 cups dry white wine
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare the chicken, place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Discard plastic wrap. Top each chicken breast half with 1 slice prosciutto, 1 slice cheese, and 1/4 cup arugula, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edges. Fold in half, pinching edges together to seal; sprinkle with salt and pepper. (The chicken can be prepared up to a day ahead and refrigerated at this point.)

Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes on each side. Place chicken in a shallow baking pan; bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until done. Keep warm.

To prepare sauce, add shallots to skillet; sauté 4 minutes over medium-high heat or until browned. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 6 minutes). Add broth; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half (about 8 minutes).

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to sauce; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Calories: 300; Fat: 9.8g (sat 4g,mono 4g,poly 0.9g); Protein: 29.7g; Carbohydrate: 9.7g; Fiber:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

BB: Croque Monsieur

The second Barefoot Bloggers recipe for the month of April is Croque Monsieur, chosen by Kathy of All Food Considered. I loved this recipe . . . it reminds me a little bit of fondue (must be the hint of nutmeg) . . . but unfortunately, I did not get a picture of it. I'm sure I'll make it again, so I'll try to remember to add a picture later. You can check out the blogs of other Barefoot Bloggers if you'd like to see the end result.

I cut the recipe down to approximately 1/4 of the original, using pretty imprecise measurements, and it still turned out well. Here is the original recipe:

Croque Monsieur
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere (OR Swiss), grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot. - Recipe from Ina Garten via Food Network

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

Finally - something new to share! I love stir-fry recipes because they are usually quick and easy, plus a great way to get a couple servings of vegetables. The lemon makes this one particularly good for spring . . .

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

1 lemon
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Vegetables (mix & match 3-4 cups total of your favorites):
10 ounces mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 cup diagonally sliced carrots (1/4 inch thick)
2 cups snow peas (6 ounces), stems and strings removed
1 cup bell pepper strips (any color pepper will work)
1 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup asparagus

1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts divided
1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1. Grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest and set aside. Juice the lemon and whisk 3 tablespoons of the juice with broth, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs. Add mushrooms and carrots to the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add snow peas, scallion whites, garlic and the reserved lemon zest. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

3. Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add scallion greens and the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 225 calories; 6 g fat; 63 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 27 g protein; 3 g fiber; 448 mg sodium; 796 mg potassium.
Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 1 fat
- Recipe and nutrition information from

Thursday, April 09, 2009

BB: Chinese Chicken Salad (my pick!)

It was my turn to pick a recipe for Barefoot Bloggers . . . after a quick scan through Barefoot Contessa Parties!, I knew exactly what my pick would be - Chinese Chicken Salad. I'm a fan of good chicken salad (there is a mango curry chicken salad I particularly love) -but I'd never tried a "Chinese" version until this one. I really liked it - but I have a few comments: a) I think it is best when the dressing very lightly coats the ingredients - too much dressing = too much of a peanut butter taste - I didn't use all the dressing; b) adding more red pepper strips can never be a bad thing; and c) based on comments, some people think there is too much kosher salt in the recipe - I don't think it's too salty (but then again, I like salt). To find out what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought, check out their posts here.

Chinese Chicken Salad
4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I reduced . . . probably used 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar (get Bragg's, Spectrum, or something locally produced - there is huge difference!)
3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use Tamari)
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil (I used toasted sesame oil)
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Creamy Chocolate Ice Cream

I got an ice cream maker last summer, but until a few weeks ago I had only tried a few ice cream recipes. Now I'm making up for lost time, making about one batch a week (and sharing most of it!). I thought this ice cream was pretty delicious . . . but some people (not naming names, you know who you are) thought it was "too creamy." Isn't ice cream supposed to be creamy?

Creamy Chocolate Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa (unsweetened)
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Warm 1 cup of the cream with cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to blend. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; add chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in remaining cream. Pour mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate meduim bowl, whisk together egg yolks. Slowly pour warm milk into egg yolks, whisking constantly (sloooowly - you don't want to cook the eggs with the warm milk!). Scrape warmed egg yolk mixture back into saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in ice cream maker according to mfg. directions. Store in a tightly sealed freezer container.
- Recipe from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Coffee Cake Muffins

I'm always looking for a reason to bake something, and last week I found a great excuse . . . actually two excuses. First, I had a morning meeting at work and second, my cousin Sarah and her husband Clayton were visiting and I wanted to leave breakfast for them when I left for work. Why I chose coffee cake muffins is a bit of a mystery . . . I'm not usually a fan of coffee cake (it always seems dry). However, I'm glad I did try it, because I thought the muffins turned out really well - tasty and not too dry. I'll definitely make them again.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake [Muffins]

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
(Next time I make this recipe, I will double the streusel - the portions above are the original portions)

For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
(Alternatively, you can pour batter into paper-lined muffin tins [follow the same streusel directions] and bake 20 to 30 minutes)

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon. - Recipe from Ina Garten via the Food Network.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BB: Tomato Goat Cheese Tart (+ another puff pastry treat)

Another great Barefoot Bloggers recipe . . . this time chosen by Anne. I didn't think I'd love this one, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that I did love it . . . and so did everyone else! If you aren't comfortable with goat cheese . . . get over it . . . try this recipe!

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (1 large onion)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

My Directions: Unfold a sheet of puff pastry onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fold up the edges to make a border/rim. (Use the other sheet for something else - like strawberry shortcake - see below)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Prick the pastry inside the border with a fork and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, staying inside the border.

Place the onion mixture on the pastry, again staying within the border. Crumble goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato on the tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter remaining Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.
The original recipe - and original directions are on the Food Network's website.

Make strawberry shortcakes with leftover puf pastry. Cut puff pastry into strips - lightly brush with olive oil or butter - sprinkle turbinado sugar over top - roll up (think cinnamon roll) - pinch together edges - place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper - bake at 425 degrees until golden brown - top with sliced strawberries and homemade whipped cream. (Now fast for the next three days because you ate puff pastry twice in one night . . .)