Monthly Archives: April 2012

Une Nuit a Paris

Last night we went to Paris for dinner…

Le Menu:

Coq au Vin

It looks kinda gross... but it tasted delicious!

French Bread

Creme Brûlée

Coq au Vin Recipe

Ingredients:

2 – 3 lb whole chickens (I used 1 5 lb one)

3 cups red wine

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs tyme

9 0z bacon slices, diced

2 oz butter

20 baby onions (Pearl onions)

1 teaspoon oil

1 oz flour

4 cups/35 fl oz chicken stock

1/2 cup brandy

2 teaspoos tomato paste

1 oz softened butter

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

1. Joint each chicken into eight pieces by removing both legs and cutting between the joint of the drumstick and the thigh. Cut down either side of the backbone and lift it out. Turn chicken over and cut through the cartilage down the centre of the breastbone. Cut each breast in half, leaving the wing attached to the top half. (This was way more difficult then I thought it would be. You should have seen the mess my mom and I made. Next time I will be buying already cut up -whole chickens)

2. Put wine, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper in a  bowl with the chicken. Cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

3. Blanch the bacon in boiling water, then drain, pat dry and sauté in a frying pan until golden. Remove. Melt 1/2 oz of the butter in the pan, add the onions and sauté until browned. Lift out and set aside.

4. Melt another 1/2 oz of the butter, add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

5. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat the chicken dry. Season Add remaining butter and the oil to the frying pan, add chicken and sauté until golden. Stir in the flour.

6. Transfer the chicken to a large saucepan or casserole and add the stock. Pour the branding into the trying pan and boil, stirring, ofr 30 seconds to deglaze the pan. Pour per the chicken. Add the marinate, onions, mushrooms, bacon and tomato paste. Cook over medium heat for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

7. If the sauce needs thickening, lift out the chicken and vegetables and bring the sauce to a boil. Combine the butter and flour and whisk into the sauce. Boil, stirring, for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add the parsley and return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce.

*This was pretty tasty, but my sauce was not as thick as it was suppose to be. Then again, it was first time cooking a fancy French dish, so I wasn’t expecting it to be perfect.

Creme Brûlée Recipe (for use with smaller ramekins – I doubled for my dinner and ended up with 4 smaller ones and 4 larger ones)

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

1/4 vanilla bean (split)

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1/4 cup sugar

Brown sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Combine heavy cream, milk and vanilla bean in sauce pan; heat to boil. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Scrape bean seeds into the mixture.

2. With an electric mixer, combine eggs and sugar. Add the milk mixture in a steady stream. AFter fully blended, strain mixture through a fine strainer.

4. Divide mixture into ramekins. Set ramekins in baking dish and pour hot water around the ramekins so they are 1/2 submerged (be careful when you are putting them in the oven so that the water doesn’t slop into the ramekins and so that the cream mixture doesn’t spill into the water).

5. Place in center of oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until just set. Remove from oven and chill for several hours.

6. Cover the top with brown sugar and caramelize the top with a torch, using a smooth motion working for the outside toward the middle until golden brown.


Venison Stroganoff and Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

After a busy day at work it was nice to know that dinner was pretty much made for me when I got home.  To complete my crock pot venison stroganoff, all I had to do was add sour cream and cream cheese and cook the noodles.

Have I mentioned how much I love crock pots! Not only do they cook during the day for you, they make the house smell so yummy!

My brother and I also made some banana peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. We had a couple VERY ripe bananas and I just happened to see the recipe on Pinterest yesterday.

After a little problem solving – we needed an egg but didn’t have one – the cookies came out delicious. I Googled “egg substitutes” and learned a little applesauce is a good egg replacer. Bonus! I could eat the dough without my  brother yelling at me for eating raw eggs.

This dish made the whole house smell so good! And it tasted just as delicious as it smelled.

Crock Pot Venison Stroganoff Recipe (Based on Beef Stroganoff from Sweet and Savory)

Ingredients:

1 lb Cubed Stew Meat (I used chopped up venison chops)
1 Can Golden Mushroom Soup
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup with Garlic
1 Tbs. Worchestershire Sauce
1 Beef Bouillon Cube
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1/4 Cup Water
1 Packet Onion Soup Mix
4 ounces Cream Cheese
2 Tbs. Sour Cream
1 Lbs. Egg Noodles
Salt and Pepper as needed

Directions:

In the crock pot, add both cans of cream soup, water, worchestershire sauce, bouillon cube, onion soup packet, and onion.  Stir until mixed well.  Add the stew meat.  Turn on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours, until meat is very tender.

About 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, add the sour cream and cream cheese.  Let cook for at least 30 more minutes.

Cook your noodles and serve.

Take a look at dessert…

Since they have bananas in them, I can eat like 3 or 4... right?

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (From How Sweet It Is)

makes about 18-20 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

6 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter, melted and cooled

1 cup loosely packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg yolk, at room temperature (or a couple teaspoons applesauce)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 ripe medium bananas, mashed

1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together cooled peanut butter and butter with both sugars until combined. Whisk in egg yolk and vanilla extract until smooth. Add in the mashed banana and mix until combined – mixture will not be smooth. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, mixing with a large spoon until a dough forms – I even use my hands to bring it together sometimes. Fold in chocolate chips.
Shape the dough into the size of a golfball (or size of your choice) and place on a nonstick baking sheet about 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden and the middles are puffy – do not overbake! Let cool completely then dig in. I suggest letting these cool completely before storing them in a sealed container or bag, and they will stay very soft because of the banana.
OUTFIT OF THE DAY

Salmon Cakes

These salmon cakes were absolutely delicious! BUT, they took a lot longer to make then I thought they would. I didn’t eat dinner until about 8:30!

I’m thinking about trying this recipe but substituting crab for the salmon because I like this “cake” recipe more then the one I use for crab cakes.

 

 

Recipe (From Foodnetwork.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound fresh salmon
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 1/2 cups small-diced celery (4 stalks)
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 1/2 cup small-diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained (I omitted these)
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
  • 3 slices stale bread, crusts removed (I used Panko Bread Crumbs about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the salmon on a sheet pan, skin side down. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and refrigerate until cold.

Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, parsley, capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Break the bread slices in pieces and process the bread in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. You should have about 1 cup of bread crumbs. Place the bread crumbs on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 5 minutes until lightly browned, tossing occasionally.

Flake the chilled salmon into a large bowl. Add the bread crumbsmayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Shape into 10 (2 1/2 to 3-ounce) cakes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. In batches, add the salmon cakes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until browned. Drain on paper towels; keep them warm in a preheated 250 degree F oven and serve hot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUTFIT OF THE DAY

I’ve decided since I wore jeans everyday last week, I won’t be wearing them at all this week. Oh, and I still haven’t re-worn the exact same outfit yet since starting my job on March 6.

This skirt is actually a bit longer - just below knee length. I wanted a different look from it, so I simply rolled the wide elastic waistband under and shortened it a couple inches.

 


Pasta with Spinach & Roasted Pepper pesto

Tonight, I once again made dinner for myself. I’ve always been a fan of pesto and I’ve made a roasted red pepper sauce before, so when I found a recipe for a roasted red pepper pesto I had to try it. It definitely did not meet my expectations. It seemed kind of bland and the small teaspoon of lemon zest was a bit overpowering. I think part of the bland issue was the fact that it’s a modified pesto – it uses spinach and almonds instead of basil and pine nuts (to be more budget-friendly). It’s not like the dish was inedible. I did like it, but I think I’ll be sticking to regular pesto and my other roasted red pepper sauce.

Spinach and Roasted Pepper Pesto Recipe

Ingredients:

1 lb pasta

2 tablespoons roasted almonds

1 small clove garlic

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 cups baby spinach

2 tablespoons parmesan

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the almonds, garlic and lemon zest until finely chopped. Add the spinach, red peppers, oil, parmesan and salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.

3. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water if the pasta seems dry.

For dessert I had a slice of fruit pizza, left over from our grill-out yesterday.

This was almost more delicious today then it was yesterday.

Here’s the recipe (from KraftRecipes.com):

Ingredients:
1 pkg. (16.5 oz.) refrigerated sliceable sugar cookies, sliced
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups assorted cut-up fruit (kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, drained canned mandarin oranges)
1/4 cup apricot preserves, pressed through sieve to remove lumps
1 Tbsp. water
Directions:
HEAT oven to 375°F.

LINE 12-inch pizza pan with foil; spray with cooking spray. Arrange cookie dough slices in single layer in prepared pan; press together to form crust. Bake 14 min.; cool completely. Invert onto plate; carefully remove foil. Turn crust over.

BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Spread over crust.

TOP with fruit. Mix preserves and water; brush over fruit. Refrigerate 2 hours.

The fresh fruit was a little pricey, but it was totally worth it!
OUTFIT OF THE DAY

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

Last night Bob and I went to Hinterland Brewery to celebrate my recent promotion at work. It was our first time there and the food was absolutely FANTASTIC! We got a bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio, even though they brew their own beer, because I’m not a beer drinker. We both decided to try something new so I picked the wood-fired duck and Bob tried the Elk Tenderloin. The meat was perfectly cooked, moist and tender in both dishes! The portion sizes were great too because we had room for dessert. I got a goat cheese pound cake with pickled raspberries. To be honest, I was worried what pickled raspberries would taste like, but all the pickling did was bring out the raspberry flavor even more. Besides the food, the atmosphere was very cool. There was a fireplace in the corner that kept the room warm, and the low lighting added to the ambiance.

This morning I tried my hand at biscotti. I’m an avid coffee drinker, so these are the perfect compliment to my morning cup. For my first time, I think they turned out pretty tasty. However, I will need to perfect my cutting technique because I ended up with a lot of loose crumbs. But the crumbs were the perfect appetizer to breakfast!

The more I bake and cook, the more I want to open up a bakery and coffee shop. I’d love to open up a little cafe where people can go and eat a delicious breakfast.

Recipe (From Ode To Goodness)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour a large baking sheet, or line with a silpat.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda,cinnamon and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.
  3. Divide dough in half. On prepared baking sheet with floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Bake logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.
  4. On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool biscotti on a rack.

Outfit of the Day

Yep, it's another jean outfit

It may be cooler outside, but summer is on it’s way. I decided to brighten up my cold weather outfit with teal eyeshadow! It was a little matchy-matchy with my shirt, but that’s okay… every once in a while!

These clearance Target shoes and my goodwill jeans have become 2 of my favorite items in my closet. I especially love them together. I get a totally 70s vibe when I pair them!


Ravioli Casserole

Tonight’s dinner was really easy. I mixed it all up, put it in the oven and had time to take Brooklyn for a walk!

Recipe (From Taste of Home Casseroles)

Ingredients:

1- 25 oz package frozen cheese ravioli

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups milk

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup minced fresh basil (I cheated and just added dried basil)

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided into cups

3/4 cup grated parmesan, divided

2 1/2 cups marinara or spaghetti sauce

Directions:

1. Cook the ravioli according to the package directions

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour, salt and nutmeg until smooth; gradually add milk and wine. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in the basil, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

3. Drain ravioli; toss with sauce mixture. Transfer to a greased 13-in x 9-in baking dish. Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce; sprinkle with remaining cheeses.

4. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 5 – 10 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

For dessert… a leftover lemon poppy seed bar topped with some strawberries!

OUTFIT OF THE DAY

I’m a convert… a jean convert. I’ve worn them to work everyday this week. It’s not like I’m NOT wearing my other clothes though- I actually haven’t worn the exact same outfit once for over a month now.

Tuesday's outfit

 

Today's outfit