Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Perfect Potato

I was looking for an easy side dish to accompany my pan-seared filets and was intrigued by the seemingly simplistic preparation of this dish. I can honestly tell you that I chose it not because it sounded amazing or unique, but simply because it appeared to be a no fuss side. And while it did live up to its "Real Simple" promise, it exceeded my expectations in the flavor department. The grated Parmigiano Reggiano I used in the recipe blended with the olive oil to form an almost paste like substance that roasted along with the potatoes and morphed into a heavinly, crusty cheese-like jacket that surrounded each potato piece. This recipe was a real pleasent surprise and I will most assuredly add it to my arsenal of quick and amazing side dishes.

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes
Adapted from Real Simple June 2006

  • 1 pounds new potatoes, unpeeled, quartered into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme

Heat oven to 400° F.

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients.

Toss to coat the potatoes. Transfer to a roasting pan, baking sheet or 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Roast, stirring once,

until golden brown and crisp, about 40 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Monday, January 25, 2010

15 Things to Make Before You Die - Installment # 3

The culprit on the list of things to make before I die that I was most excited about was the Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin Steaks. I love steak, but we don't eat it very often because we don't have a backyard or a grill. I was excited to try out a different method for preparing the steaks. I couldn't find filets that had that typical round steak house appearance, but the supermarket labeled these as beef tenderloin filets and they were all I could find so I figured they would do. They were a little thinner than I had desired which in the end probably made cooking them to the perfect temperature easier.

I assumed this method of cooking the steaks wouldn't be very difficult, so I picked a recipe that had an accompanying sauce in order to make it more worth while. According to the original article, "Knowing how to cook a great steak will always get you rave reviews in the kitchen." They were absolutely right, this recipe was minimal effort with a huge payoff. Forrest and I both loved the filets and the pan sauce was the perfect pairing. I see no reason why I haven't tried this out sooner and I know it will be something I am excited to repeat in the kitchen.

View my progress on the list below:

1. Yeast Bread - Check.
2. Beef Tenderloin Steaks - Check.
3. Cream Pie
4. Creme Brulee
5. Fudge
6. Cream Puffs
7. Crown Roast
8. Fried Chicken
9. Roux - Check.
10. Pasta and Cream Sauce - Check.
11. Roasted Turkey and Gravy - Check.
12. Chocolate Pudding - Check.
13. Layer Cake - Check.
14. Souffle
15. Chicken Stock - Check.

8 down, 7 to go!

Filet of Beef au Poivre
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

  • 6 filet mignon, cut 1 1/4 inches thick
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped shallots (3 to 4 shallots)
  • 1 cup canned beef broth
  • 1/2 cup good Cognac

Place the filets on a board and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the filets with salt and then press the black pepper evenly on both sides. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until the butter almost smokes. Place the steaks in the pan and lower the heat to medium.

Saute the steaks for 4 minutes on 1 side and then for 3 minutes on the other side, for medium rare and 6 minutes on each side for medium.

Remove the steaks to a serving platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, pour all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the saute pan. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Add the beef broth

and cook over high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, until reduced by half, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the Cognac and cook for 2 more minutes.

Off the heat, swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Serve the steaks hot with the sauce poured on top or in a metal ramekin along side the steak.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fritter Folly

I found it funny that I came across a fritter recipe in a Cooking Light magazine. I mean fritters are technically deep fried batter coated goodies. I can see how some of the magazine's readers would be upset about this recipe. Upset that is if they are the "I am only reading this magazine to find yet another new salad recipe" type of reader. That my friends, I am not. I read the magazine to find recipes with a lighted approach. My favorite recipes in the magazine are the ones with a somewhat lighter take on the foods I love but feel guilty eating the full fat versions. So when I say I found it funny to find a fritter recipe in Cooking Light, I mean I found it funny in a I couldn't wait to make it type of way.

Corn and Crab Fritters
Adapted from Cooking Light January 2010


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels, roasted or grilled
  • 1 (8-ounce) container lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded plum tomato
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons minced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 avocado, peeled and seeded

1. To prepare fritters, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper) in a large bowl,

stirring well with a whisk. Combine buttermilk and eggs, stirring well. Add egg mixture and combine.

Add corn, and crab to flour mixture, stirring gently until moist.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 5 batter mounds (about 2 tablespoons each) to pan, pressing each with the back of a spatula sprayed with cooking spray to slightly flatten.

Cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden and thoroughly cooked. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and batter.

3. To prepare guacamole, combine tomato and remaining ingredients in a bowl.

Mash avocado with fork to desired consistency. Serve with fritters

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

15 Things to Make Before You Die - Installment #2

Next up on my journey to becoming an "accomplished cook" was chicken stock. I researched several different recipes and came up with one conclusion - ingredients in chicken stock are adjustable. I also realized that I didn't have a stock pot big enough to make the amount of stock yielded in most recipes. So I adjusted my ingredients to accommodate what was already in my refrigerator, decreased the amount to fit my 10 quart stock pot and substituted rotisserie chicken carcasses from my weeknight meals for raw chickens. I don't know if that would technically be considered cheating since most recipes I found used raw chicken and I was using cooked chicken carcass, but it worked with what I had on hand and was way cheaper than buying a chicken for the soul purpose of making stock. Regardless of my changes and my deviation from most traditional recipes, I ended up with stock and it was a delicious stock at that. This was extremely easy, but I am not sure that I am a converted homemade chicken stock lover just yet. The boxed stocks with the screw tops are so convenient and they stay fresh for such a long time in the fridge. I guess I need to use my homemade stock in a recipe before I declare boxed stock the winner. I will update this post after the homemade stock has been put to the recipe test. The best part of cooking chicken stock is the wonderful aroma that filled my house all day Saturday as I sat home and cheered for my Saints!

View my progress on the list below:

1. Yeast Bread - Check.
2. Beef Tenderloin Steaks
3. Cream Pie
4. Creme Brulee
5. Fudge
6. Cream Puffs
7. Crown Roast
8. Fried Chicken
9. Roux - Check.
10. Pasta and Cream Sauce - Check.
11. Roasted Turkey and Gravy - Check.
12. Chocolate Pudding - Check.
13. Layer Cake - Check.
14. Souffle
15. Chicken Stock - Check.

7 down, 8 to go!

Homemade Chicken Stock

  • 2 rotisserie chicken carcasses
  • 1 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 3 carrots, unpeeled and halved
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • 1 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 gallon of cold water

Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, garlic, and seasonings in a 8 to 10-quart stockpot.

Add 1 gallon of cold water

and bring to a boil.

Simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours. Do not stir during simmer. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander placed on top of a large bowl to catch the liquid and discard the solids.

Strain the liquid again through a fine sieve to eliminate all herbs and small particles (see below) left in the liquid.

Chill the stock overnight. The next day, remove the surface fat.

Use immediately or pack in containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Click Here for Printable Recipe

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Braidy Brunch

I have made a breakfast braid before and absolutely loved everything about the pastry. I was enamored by the presentation, the portability and the creativeness of the recipe. So when I saw this recipe in the recent issue of Cooking Light I knew I would partake. I figured I would love this recipe even more since it was of the savory variety and my previous braid was sweet - I prefer savory over sweet any day. I was right, this was amazing! I tinkered with the ingredient portions a bit after reading some online reviews and I substituted a local Louisiana sausage. I think the best part of this recipe is that you can really play with the ingredients and change them to suit your taste buds.

**Check out the link below my last picture. I now have a new feature on the blog that will allow you to print my adapted recipes picture free. I will be including the printable recipes for all recipes in the future. If you would like the printable recipe for a past recipe just email me and I will create the link for you.**

Jalapeno, Sausage, Jack and Egg Breakfast Braid
Adapted from Cooking Light January 2010

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

  • 1 (13.8-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 8 ounces crawfish sausage (or any sausage of your choice), chopped
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup (2 ounces) shredded Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped seeded jalapeño peppers
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Unroll dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; pat into a 15 x 10–inch rectangle.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sausage;

cook 9 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in eggs; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until set.

Remove from heat.

4. Make 2-inch-long diagonal cuts about 1 inch apart on both sides of dough to within 1/2 inch of filling using a sharp knife or kitchen shears.

5. Sprinkle Monterey Jack lengthwise down center of dough, leaving about a 2 1/2-inch border on each side.

Spoon egg mixture evenly over cheese.

Sprinkle cheddar over egg mixture; top with jalapeño peppers.

6. Arrange cut out strips over filling, alternating strips diagonally over filling.

Pinch ends over to seal.

Brush with egg white.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut crosswise into slices.

My Adapted Printable Recipe

Monday, January 18, 2010

15 Things to Make Before You Die - Installment #1

I came across an article the other day on my favorite recipe website titled, "15 Things to make before you Die". Although I found the title a little morbid, I was instantly intrigued. The article laid out 15 classics you should know how to make before you can consider yourself an accomplished cook. Before I even began to read the numbered list I was overly confident that I was going to be familiar with all the "classics". I have prepared close to 300 recipes in the last two years and would readily consider myself an accomplished cook. Sometimes when preparing my weekly menu/grocery list I have trouble finding things I haven't made!

My cockiness was quickly deflated when I only made it as far as number 2 on the list before I hit a classic that I haven't prepared. In fact, there were a ton I haven't tried my hand at yet. I was amazed at how many recipes in this ever important list have never made their way into my kitchen. Only being able to check 5 of the 15 recipes got me motivated. I would heed the warning of the title and cook all 15 recipes before I die. And since that deadline is an unknown, I plan to cook all 15 in the next couple of weeks. Procrastination isn't really my thing. I will work my way through this list and let you know of any hurdles associated with these classics.

1. Yeast Bread - Check, I have worked with yeast before and although I wouldn't consider myself an expert I feel familiar enough to take credit.
2. Beef Tenderloin Steaks - no grill required, stovetop only - this one will be fun, we love red meat!
3. Cream Pie - three essential recipes in this one - pastry crust, custard filling and meringue.
4. Creme Brulee - will need to purchase the torch before I attempt this one.
5. Fudge - I made white chocolate fudge before, but I think taking credit for that would be cheating. I will make the classic chocolate fudge recipe before I check this one off the list.
6. Cream Puffs - I think this one will be easy. I have made pâte á choux type dough before and I am pretty sure that is where the author thinks this challenge lies.
7. Crown Roast - I will find a special occasion for this one, but am super excited about this recipe.
8. Fried Chicken - This one is something I have always wanted to try, but was too afraid of a sub par result. Growing up a Popeye's fanatic, I know the comparison will be ever present.
9. Roux - Check, I have done this a bunch and it isn't easy, but I am getting better.
10. Pasta and Cream Sauce - Check, I think I have this one down pat.
11. Roasted Turkey and Gravy - Check, I did this two Thanksgivings ago and it was a huge success. I am happy I can claim credit here since roasting a whole turkey for two seems wasteful.
12. Chocolate Pudding - Check, I did this one this weekend and it was fun, delicious and rewarding to check the first new one off the list.
13. Layer Cake - Check, I haven't done it often, but I can definitely claim credit here.
14. Souffle - I have been wanting to make a souffle for quite some time and this is a great reason to finally add it to my weekly menu.
15. Chicken Stock - never attempted it because the boxed stocks are so convenient, but alas it is on the list.

So how many of the recipes above have you made?

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from Cottage Living January 2005

Yield: Makes 4 servings

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
  • 9 ounces (2 cups) chopped Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate (not chocolate chips)
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl

until blended.

2. Combine milk and 1 cup cream in medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat until hot. Gradually pour hot milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Return mixture to saucepan,

and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats the spatula or until candy thermometer reads 180°.

3. Remove saucepan from heat. Add chocolate, and let stand 10 seconds;

whisk vigorously

until smooth

and all chocolate has melted

and been incorporated.

Transfer chocolate cream to a clean bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours.

4. Combine remaining 1/2 cup cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. (Do not overbeat.)

Dollop onto each serving of pudding.

My Adapted Printable Recipe