Sunday, April 26, 2009


A couple of posts ago I made a note to myself to use my mandoline again. It makes life in the kitchen so much easier when cutting uniform slices. I knew exactly which recipe I wanted to break it out for. My mother-in-law saw this on Food Network and knew we would love it. She called to tell me about this interesting recipe several weeks ago and I have been saving it for somewhat "special" occasion. Both Forrest and I are traveling for work this week and we won't be together for 7 days. I wanted to have a nice dinner tonight since it will be our last one together for a week. I thought this was a great recipe to prepare and enjoy together. It was superb - thanks for the suggestion Mrs. Pat!

Saltimbocca of Zucchini
Adapted from Michael Chiarello

  • 2 pounds zucchini (each about 8 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter work best)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto (about 1/4 pound)
  • Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil (about 20 leaves)
  • 1/3 pound fontina cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup pure olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Cut each zucchini in half and then cut each half lengthwise into thin even 1/4-inch thick slices. (This is most easily done on a mandolin.)

Lay them out in pairs on paper towels or a clean tea towel and season lightly with salt (very little because the prosciutto will provide a strong salt flavor) and pepper.

Arrange the prosciutto slices on half the zucchini slices so none hangs over the edges.

Place 1 basil leaves on top of each prosciutto piece.

Place the cheese slices on top of the basil, taking the same precautions you did with the prosciutto.

Finally, lay the remaining zucchini slices on top of each stack. Cover with paper towels or another clean tea towel, and press down firmly to extract moisture and firm the zucchini.

Pour the eggs into a deep plate. Season the flour with salt and pepper and put it on another plate. Pick up each zucchini stack by both ends and hold it securely closed as you dip it first in the egg

and then dredge in the flour until evenly coated. Shake off excess flour.

In a skillet large enough to hold at least 3 zucchini stacks at a time, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the zucchini, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm until all are cooked. Add more oil by tablespoonfuls, if needed. Sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and some basil leaves.

One Year Ago Today: Shrimp Rémoulade Po'boys

Saturday, April 25, 2009

No Salt, No Pepper, No Problem

I love cooking Asian cuisine, but the ingredients can often be intimidating. I have made several Asian recipes over the last year and have become somewhat familiar with the basics, but there are still ingredients that are unfamiliar to me. This recipe called for lemon grass and I didn't have any previous experience with the herb. I wanted to make sure I had all of the required ingredients, so of course my husband had to make a special trip to a very hectic Asian grocery - H-mart. Even though Asian recipes usually require a trip to H-Mart and at least one Google search to clarify what I need, they are always worth the effort. I have found the Asian dishes I have prepared to contain several layers of flavor and to always seem to be perfectly balanced. This recipe was no exception. We couldn't get enough of it and it was a brilliant nontraditional way to prepare Cornish hens. It seems odd to think you could achieve a perfectly flavored chicken without salt and pepper, but this marinade leaves nothing to be desired.

Honey and Coconut Marinated Cornish Hens
Adapted from Cooking Light July 2002


4 servings (serving size: 1 hen half)

  • 2 (1 1/4-pound) Cornish hens
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup honey, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Thai chile sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves

Remove and discard giblets and necks from hens. Rinse hens with cold water; pat dry. Split hens in half lengthwise. Remove skin; trim excess fat.

Place cilantro, lemongrass (pictured below - remove the tough outer layers and discard, then cut into 1 inch pieces before placing in the blender),

coconut milk, 3 tablespoons honey, fish sauce, and remaining ingredients in a blender;

process until smooth. Pour mixture into a large gallon size zip-top plastic bag. Add hen halves; seal and marinate in refrigerator 12 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Remove hen halves from bag, reserving marinade. Place reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Place hen halves, meaty sides up, on a broiler pan.

Bake at 400° for 30 minutes, using a pastry brush for basting frequently with the reserved marinade. Pour remaining 1 tablespoon of honey over hens,

and bake hens an additional 20 minutes or until thermometer registers 180°.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Runner Up

During my blogiversary giveaway last week it was so interesting to read about all of the recipes some of you have tried in your own kitchens. I love knowing that people are actually trying the dishes I make and sharing them with others. As I read through the entries I was impressed by a particular sacrifice amongst the comments. One reader stood out in my mind because she actually risked her own life for the love of good food - now that's my kind of girl.

I figured since Val didn't win the giveaway, she still deserved a consolation prize for being my only reader to have visited the hospital in pursuit of great flavor. I would like Val to have this matching weekly menu planning notepad, grocery list and magnet set. It is the least I can do for being partly responsible for her having to pay those lofty ER co-pays!

Val, come on down...... Email me your mailing address and I will send you this fun little set. And thank you for the dedication.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Date Night Direction

Forrest and I have weekday date night every Thursday. We do it in order to break up the mundane work week and to give us something to look forward to during the hustle and bustle of real life weekdays. Thursday date night is not what you would probably expect of a regular date night. This isn't the stuff that weekend date nights are made up of. Thursday date night has certain criteria. First, it has to be cheap. Like "less than 25 dollars for the both of us" cheap. It is a weeknight after all. Now considering the dollar threshold of the first criteria you can probably imagine that this isn't a fancy candlelight dinner date night at all. Second, it has to be ok that I wear my work clothes. I pick Forrest up on the way home from work and we head straight to dinner. So no time to change, spruce up or spritz perfume. Because of the first two requirements, our choices are limited. There aren't very many places that aren't drive through fast food joints that you can dine for 25 bucks a couple in the DC area. So we are pretty much stuck with Chipotle, Jason's Deli, Pot Belly's and Panera. And that brings me to the third weekday date night criteria. It can't be Panera.

Panera is the first choice of catering at my job when we have working lunches or all day reviews and they have to bring in sandwiches for lunch. The whole point of date night is to break up the work week. So I can't have date night remind me of work. It defeats the purpose. It would make date night pointless - and we can't have that! Every week when deciding where we should eat, Forrest suggests Panera. We have one directly across the street from our house and it is in the price range. But every week I pass on the option. The sad part is that I actually like Panera and I love their Roast Beef and Cheddar Sandwich on Asiago bread with horseradish. So this weekend I decided to recreate something similar at home for Forrest since he will never have the chance to have the real thing with me on date night.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for a cheap weekday meal while dining out?

Roast Beef and Cheddar Panini
Adapted from Southern Living September 2005


Makes 4 servings

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup prepared creamy horseradish sauce, divided
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 pound deli roast beef slices
  • 4 Sharp Cheddar cheese slices
  • Cooking Spray

Sauté first 3 ingredients in a lightly greased skillet over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until onion is tender.

Spread 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce on each of 4 bread slices;

top evenly with roast beef,

cooked onion, and cheese.

Top with remaining bread slices.

Cook in a preheated panini press that has been sprayed well with cooking spray for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with remaining horseradish sauce.

One Year Ago Today: Ham and Gruyere Potato Gratin - note to self: use that mandoline again soon

Monday, April 20, 2009

Recipe Replica

I try not to blog recipes that I found on other food blogs. Why? - well because they already exist somewhere out there in the blogisphere and if someone wants that recipe they can find it elsewhere on the World Wide Web. If you frequent food blogs you will often notice popular recipe trends. There are several things that appear over and over again on thousands of blogs. There have been the run of homemade pretzels and bagels and cake pops galore. And while I enjoy reading all of those blogs and everyone's rendition of the recipe, I don't want to pollute the blogging community with one more perspective of the same recipe. I try really hard to be original with my posts and while there is no way that everything I cook is going to be something that hasn't been done before, I try to steer clear of reposting recipes exactly as they appear on another person's blog or even recipes that have been inspired by another person's blog. I mainly try to post recipes that I find online (Food Network or MyRecipes), in cookbooks or in magazines; not things that I found on another food blog. This doesn't mean however that I don't cook these delicious finds from other blogs. I do all the time, I just try not to post them.

This is my one exception. I found this on a blog several months ago and have made it a few times. It is always a HUGE hit and ever so pretty. When I made it for Easter brunch I couldn't resist. I snapped photos as I assembled and knew that I couldn't keep this one a secret any longer. It makes such an easy breakfast pastry that never fails to please. This recipe in my opinion is worth reposting. I want it to get to as many people as possible and if it means overexposure for this indigo treat then I am willing to take the risk!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Breakfast Pastry
Adapted from My Kitchen Snippets

Ingredients :

6 oz of low fat cream cheese
1 egg - separated
3 tbsp of powder sugar
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberry
1 (11 oz) tube of bread stick dough


1/2 cup of powder sugar
2 tbsp of milk


1) Preheat over to 350 degree F. In a bowl combined soft cream cheese, powder sugar and egg yolk.
Mix until well combined.

2) Remove breadstick dough from the tube, unroll it and separate the dough and you will have two rectangles. Join the dough up by placing both dough rectangles horizontally on a lightly greased baking sheet. Press the seam together

3) Spread cream cheese mixture onto the center of the dough.

Sprinkle the blueberry on top of the cream cheese. Separate the dough perforations up to the cheese mixture (You might need a scissors for this) Slightly pull and stretch the dough strips.

4) Start from the top and bring and braid dough strip to cover the filling.

Braid until every breadstick strip has been crossed over another.

Make sure to tuck and seal both ends of the loaf

5) Beat the egg white and brush it all over the loaf.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the loaf.

6) Combined the powder sugar and milk. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle all over the cool loaf before serving.
Make sure to let the pastry cool before pouring the glaze. I didn't this time I made it and I lost alot of the glaze as it melted off and slid onto the baking sheet.

Below is my simple brunch table setting. I didn't get fancy at all. Casual and laid back was the theme. It was only three of us so I made three dishes and they were all simple and satisfying.

One Year Ago: Coq Au Vin - well worth the work!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And the Winner is............

Congratulations Paula! You are the proud owner of a shiny new slider patty press and a bun cutter. Enjoy!

It was great fun to read through each and every one of the entries and hear which recipes you have enjoyed in your own homes or drooled on your keyboards over. I have Google Analytics installed on my blog and it provides me with many interesting statistics. I have included below the five most viewed posts in the last year.

Here's to many more!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Premarital Pizza

There is a precious pizzeria in New Orleans on St. Charles Avenue called Slice. It is tiny little restaurant that can only be spotted on the grand street by its small black awning with white writing. Their pizza is delicious. You can order by the slice and create any particular pie your heart desires. Forrest and I had one of our very first dates there and I remember it as a night where the conversation was free flowing and the laughs plentiful. I have vivid memories of that night and even remember what I wore and songs that played on the radio as he drove me home. It was if I knew that this second date would turn into something special. I even remember what I ate that night. I ordered a pizza with these exact ingredients and this recipe brought back those exciting new relationship memories.

Artichoke, Mushroom, Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza
Adapted from Cooking Light January 2007

4 servings (serving size: 2 wedges)

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 (13.8-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough (can be found by Pillsbury crescent rolls and cinnamon rolls)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced crimini mushrooms, sauteed in cooking spray until tender
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups arugula leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Position oven rack to lowest setting. Preheat oven to 500°

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray; sprinkle with cornmeal. Unroll dough onto prepared baking sheet, and pat into a 14 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread the olive oil evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

Use a pastry brush to spread the olive oil evenly over the dough. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the olive oil. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Place baking sheet on the bottom oven rack; bake at 500° for 5 minutes. Remove pizza from oven.

Coarsely chop artichokes. Arrange artichokes on pizza; top with sliced prosciutto and mushrooms.

Sprinkle with Parmesan. Return pizza to the bottom oven rack; bake an additional 5 minutes or until crust is browned.

Place arugula in a bowl. Drizzle lemon juice over arugula; toss gently. Top the pizza with arugula mixture. Cut the pizza into 4 (7 x 5-inch) rectangles; cut each rectangle diagonally into 2 wedges or leave in squares.