Monthly Archives: August 2012

Anniversary Celebration!

Last night was Bob and mine’s 4 YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!! We decided not to do big gifts, but I still wanted to do something special. So with the help of my co-worker, I planned a 3 course dinner based on different import beers. The three areas I chose were Italy, Asia and France.

 

I bought a few beers for our dinner and the rest are Bob’s favorites!

First course was Italian.

The beer I bought was Peroni Nastro Azzurro and we had bite sized Caprese salad.

Caprese Salad Bites Recipe (from Jo Cooks)

Ingredients:

Cherry Tomatoes

Fresh Mozzarella Balls

Fresh Basil

Balsamic Vinegar (I made 7 “kabobs” and used 1/2 cup)

Directions:

  1. In a small skillet add the balsamic vinegar and cook over medium heat until it reduced to less than half and thickened. Make sure you stir occasionally. It should only take about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the amount you’re reducing.
  2. Take a toothpick/skewer and on it stick a mozzarella ball , a basil leaf and a cherry tomato. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Using a teaspoon drizzle some of the balsamic reduction onto each appetizer. I added a little olive oil too!

The second course was inspired by Asia. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a beer to go along at the Copps Make Your Own 6 Pack Station. However, I went to Festival the day after I bought all my ingredients and beer and they DO HAVE Tsingtao in their Make Your Own 6 Pack Section. So note to self – always go to Festival when it comes to Alcohol!

So we didn’t have a beer, but we had a delicious Asian inspired scallop dish. Plus, from all my recent Asian cooking, I had all of the ingredients except the scallops.

Honey-Seasame Scallops (from Family Circle)

Bob and I both LOVE LOVE scallops. So when I found this recipe, I knew it would be perfect for our anniversary dinner!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons chopped ginger

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Sea Scallops

Angel hair pasta, cooked

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (I omitted this ingredient)

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger and sesame oil. Add scallops and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops, reserving marinade; cook scallops 3 minutes per side. Remove and place on a plate.

3. Pour reserved marinade into same skillet and boil 1 minute. Return scallops to skillet and heat through, coating with sauce.

4. Put pasta on plates and drizzle each with sauce from skillet. Place scallops over each serving.

The third and last course was of course DESSERT. And we decided to go to France. Like with my Asian course, I had difficulties finding a French beer, so I picked out a Belgian Wheat Beer. I’m glad I did too. The beer had just a hint of sweetness, so it was a perfect complement to our Chocolate Mousse.

Chocolate Mousse Recipe (from my French Cookbook)

I made some homemade whip cream to go with our mousse!

Ingredients:

11 oz good quality dark chocolate

1 oz (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chopped

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy ( I used blackberry brandy and it gave the mousse the slightest blackberry flavor)

4 egg whites

1/2 up sugar

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Directions:

1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Leave the chocolate until it looks soft and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and cool the chocolate mixture for a few minutes. Add the lightly beaten eggs and Cognac and stir to combine well.

2. Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form, gradually adding the sugar. Whisk one third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites with a large spoon or spatula.

3. Whip the cream using electric beaters until firm peaks form. Gently fold into the mousse. Pour into serving glasses, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

For my gift…

Bob put up my cook book shelf in the kitchen and put together my drift-wood/door knob necklace holder for the bathroom.

I’m pretty sure this shelf will fill up quickly!

 


Pink Pants

A few weeks ago I rediscovered my love for New York and Company. It was during their by one pair of pants get one free sale. I bought these awesomely pink ankle trouser pants (however, they are pretty much full length pants on me) and a pair of red jeggings. Oh and I got $15 New York City Cash that I will be spending on a cute, feminine blouse for fall.

After this shopping trip, I’m now the proud owner of pink, red, and royal blue pants!

Have you jumped on the colored pants bandwagon? If so, what are your favorite colors to wear?


Honey Beer Bread

On Sunday it was my boss’ birthday, so I decided I would bake something and bring it in today. I thought about cookies or cupcakes, but when I saw this recipe for honey beer bread, I knew it would be perfect!!! And to top it off, the recipe was extremely simple and I already had all the ingredients.

In terms of drinking, I don’t actually like beer. But when you bake it into bread or waffles (I’ll have to make these someday and post the recipe), I absolutely love it! The beer gives such a wonderful flavor and whatever you’re baking ends up so moist and delicious! Okay, I’ll stop gushing now.

Honey Beer Bread Recipe (Gimme Some Oven)

Ingredients:

If you have a boyfriend like mine there’s always beer in the fridge, so you should have all these ingredients on hand.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar (heat honey for about 30 seconds to make it easy to stir)
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
  • 4 Tbsp. (half stick) butter, melted

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed.

3. Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.

4. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

This bread works as a delicious dessert by adding a little more honey as topping!


Taco Crescents

FINALLY! I get to pull out my awesome pink Packer’s jersey. And as I’m watching the game now, I am starting to agree with Bob that we need a bigger TV. When I lived with my mom, we’d watch the games on a big 50 incher… now we only have a 32 inch TV.  😦

My second “finally moment” is tonight I picked out a dinner recipe that only took about 30 minutes to cook from prep to eating. Easy and delicious is definitely a winning combination on a busy weeknight. These tasty taco crescents are probably meant to be more of an appetizer or finger food at a party, but eating two was the just the perfect amount for dinner. Plus they made my house smell like buttery, flakey crescents. Mmmmmmm…mmmmm

The recipe calls for chicken, but I substituted ground venison since the other two dinners I have planned this week use chicken. I’ve never made these before, but I’m sure they are the same amount of tasty with either meat!

Taco Crescents Recipe (from TidyMom.net)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package jumbo crescent rolls
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 3/4 cup cooked chicken (diced or shredded)
  • 1/3 cup enchilada or taco sauce
  • 2 teaspoons enchilada or taco seasoning mix
  • 1/4 cup Mexican shredded cheese for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375° and line cookie sheet with foil and spray with no-stick spray
  2. Place cream cheese and 1/2 cup Mexican cheese in small bowl and microwave for about 30-40 seconds, to soften.
  3. Add seasoning mix, sauce and chicken to cheese mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Unroll crescent rolls on prepared pan.
  5. Scoop 1 large heaping tablespoon of meat mixture into the center of the two short ends of the crescent roll.
  6. Pull outer corners of the crescent roll over the chicken mixture, and then pull the long end over, completely enclosing filling.
  7. Sprinkle tops of puffs with additional shredded Mexican cheese.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.


Pecan Chicken with Tortellini

One of my new obsessions is pecans – in my oatmeal, on my ice cream, and just plain. So tonight, I thought I’d try them on chicken, and they didn’t disappoint. The pecan “breading” gave the chicken the most delicious crunchy texture and nutty flavor. Plus they’re good for you!

Pecan Chicken with Tortellini (from MyRecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 2 (9-oz.) packages refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
  • 4 (4-oz.) chicken breast cutlets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare tortellini according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place pecans in a shallow bowl. Place egg in a second bowl. Dip chicken in egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Dredge chicken in pecans, pressing firmly to adhere.
  3. Cook chicken in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from skillet; wipe skillet clean.
  4.  Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until garlic is caramel-colored and butter begins to turn golden brown. Immediately remove from heat, and stir in basil, parsley, and hot cooked tortellini. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately with chicken.

 

While I didn’t make enough chicken to take leftovers for lunch tomorrow (Bob gets the extra chicken), I did have some extra tortellini and pecan topping to take.


A Triply Delicious Dinner

On Friday Bob and I were both actually home for dinner, so we made something summery and easy. On an unrelated note, the main dish calls for raspberry vinegar. AFter purchasing it, I am now the proud owner of TOO many different types of vinegars. I think I have rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar, apple cider vinegar and probably more. I think I need to start cooking receipts based on if they call for vinegar or not.

But back to my Friday night dinner with Bob.

Main entree – Blueberry Dijon Chicken

Side – Parmesan Zucchini Fries

Dessert – Rhubarb Dream Bars

Here are all three recipes…

Blueberry Dijon Chicken Recipe (from Taste of Home July)

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon butter (I probably used about 3)

1/2 cup blueberry preserves

1/3 raspberry vinegar

1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

3 tablespoons dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Season the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper. In a large skillet, cook the chicken in the butter over medium heat until they are cooked through (170 degree internal temperature). Remove from heat and keep warm.

2. Combine the blueberry preserves, raspberry vinegar, blueberries and the dijon mustard in the skillet. Bring to a boil – cook and stir until thickened.

3. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and enjoy!

*See told you it was easy!

Parmesan Zucchini Fries Recipe

Ingredients:

Zucchini

Grated Parmesan

Panko Bread Crumbs

Flour

Eggs

Directions:

1. Cut zucchini into fries.

2. Combine parmesan and Panko bread crumbs. (I didn’t use any exact measurements, but I did use about equal parts cheese and bread crumbs).

3. Dip the slices into flour, then into your beaten eggs and then into the cheese/bread mixture.

4. Place on a backing sheet. Cook for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Flip and cook another 7 – 10 minutes.

* These were a hit! Bob and his brother, who stopped by later, loved them!

Rhubarb Dream Bars Recipe (from my grandma)

Ingredients:

Crust –

2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter, softened but not completely melted

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Topping –

3 cups sugar

1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

5 beaten eggs

4 cups chopped rhubarb

Directions:

Crust –

1. Mix the flour and sugar. Cut in the butter. Add the pecans.

2. Pat into the bottom of a 12 x18 pan. (I didn’t have this size, so I used an 11 x 17).

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Topping –

1. Mix sugar, flour and salt together.

2. Add the eggs and the rhubarb.

3. Spread over crust and return to the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cool.

*These bars are delicious plan or with whipped cream. And I bet they’d be AMAZING with some vanilla ice cream.

 


Brooklyn’s Birthday Treat

On Tuesday, my little baby Brooklyn had her 1st birthday! Unfortunately, she is just as hyperactive and sassy as ever.

Since I love baking, especially cupcakes, I decided to make her a poochie-friendly carrot peanut butter cupcake.

Carrot Peanut Butter Poochie Cupcake Recipe (from Dessert First Girl)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a six cup cupcake tin with cupcake papers. Combine the egg, peanut butter, oil, and honey in a large bowl.

2. Add in the carrots and stir to combine.

3. Combine the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and add to the carrot mixture. Stir until fully incorporated.

4. Divide among prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs on it.

5. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. Frost tops with a little peanut butter before serving to your furry friend.

She started by trying to lick the peanut butter off, hence the over turned cupcake.