Friday, June 26, 2009

Rachael Ray’s Brandied Tarragon Cream Chicken (Chicken a la Vallee d'Auge), Camembert Rice and Beautiful Summer Salad

This is another one of those meals you could have over and over again! Sometimes I watch Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals and want to make what she is cooking. This was definitely one of those times! The way she was describing the flavors, I felt like I could smell them through the TV!!!! I paired this dish with a simple summer salad I made, I was going to add mandarin oranges but the chicken smelled so good I forgot!

Rachael Ray’s Brandied Tarragon Cream Chicken (Chicken a la Vallee d'Auge) and Camembert Rice

3 tablespoons butter, divided

1 1/2 cups rice

3 cups chicken stock

4 ounces Camembert cheese, cut into small pieces (I found this next to the brie in my local grocery store and I removed the rind of the cheese before putting it the rice)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast (we only had 3 pieces, no biggie)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

1/4 cup calvados or applejack brandy (I used applejack brandy)

6 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced (I bought the packaged sliced kind-one little packaged crate is enough)

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves (I used 2 ½ to 3 tablespoons, really brings out all the favors)

In a medium sauce pot over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add rice and toss to coat, toast 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant.

Add stock and bring to a boil. (At this step I decided to pour in 1 ½ tablespoons of the Applejack brandy right from the bottle- it really gave this a great flavor and I plan to do this again the next time I make it). Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 18 minutes, fluff with fork and stir in Camembert to melt.

While the rice cooks, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge chicken lightly in flour and shake off any excess.

Brown chicken 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

Remove chicken and reduce heat a little and melt in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Sauté the shallots 3 minutes until soft but not browned.

Remove pan from the heat, add the brandy and ignite with a long kitchen match until the flame subsides.

Return pan to the heat, add mushrooms and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and reduce 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cream and tarragon and slide chicken back into the pan.. Reduce heat to low and simmer 8 to 10 minutes. Place rice and chicken with sauce on a plate and enjoy!

Quick and Beautiful Summer Salad

1 package of Fresh Express Field Greens Salad (or whatever brand you can buy)

1 yellow bell pepper, julienned (not thin)

½ pint to 1 pint strawberries, sliced

1 cucumber sliced

1 package of cherry tomatoes, tomatoes sliced in half

Champagne dressing (enough to lightly coat the salad and to taste)

Salt and Pepper

Take a large salad bowl and combine all ingredients together until well combined, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and then add the dressing. Yum!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Photo Disclaimer

I love to take pictures of my food and my wonderful husband is a fantastic photographer (see his website here) and has taken lots of my pictures. However, if you have noticed a difference in the quality of my photos over the last couple weeks, it is because I have been using my iphone. Chad's camera has been out of commission and so I have had to resort to other measures. Thanks for understanding!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

My husband and I absolutely love corned beef and cabbage! We used to go to a restaurant in the town where we lived that had amazing corned beef and cabbage. This is my interruption of that recipe (I wish I could have theirs too!). Enjoy!

Heather’s Yummy Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes and Carrots

1 packaged corned beef roughly 2.5-3lbs with spice pack (when you pick up the package of beef you should see the spice pack on the bottom)

1 16oz bag of small carrots

6 (or so) Red potatoes cut into quarters

½ head of napa cabbage chopped into pieces

1 ½ tablespoons of peppercorns

½ cup brown sugar

2-3 sprigs of dill (chopped)

1 can of Guinness

½ cup heavy cream (roughly 2 tablespoons reserved)

Place the corned beef and spice pack in a dutch oven. Cover with water just until corned beef is covered. Follow directions on the package for the corned beef. That being said, after an hour of cooking, add the brown sugar, peppercorns (whole) and Guinness.

Meanwhile, put chopped cabbage in a sauté pan with butter, olive oil and salt and pepper. Keep on medium heat until cabbage softens.

Towards the last 30 mins of cooking time add in the potatoes and in the last 15 minutes of cooking time add in the carrots.

Take the potatoes and carrots out of the dutch oven and put them in a bowl. Add the chopped dill and pour the cream over the potatoes and carrots, just enough to coat them. Mix together and add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Remove the corned beef from the dutch oven and place on a cutting board and slice pieces to about a ¼ of an inch in thickness.

To serve, arrange corned beef, cabbage and potatoes and carrots on a plate. Spread a few dollops of the creamy mustard sauce on the corned beef and serve!

Creamy Mustard Sauce

4 tablespoons creamy Dijon mustard with white wine

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a small bowl, add the 2 mustards and mix well. Slowly pour in the cream. Only add enough cream so that the consistency is creamy but not soupy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

This was amazing!!!! I made it last week and I can't wait to make it again. Here is the recipe, I didn't change anything so here is where I got the recipe. Hope you enjoy my pictures!!!

Caprese Salad

This is one of my favorite things to eat, so fresh and so simple, one of life's pure delectable treasures. There are many versions out there and I would recommend trying all of them. Sometimes I serve mine in bowls cut up in pieces but most of the time I do it this way, sliced and pretty. The colors are so vibrant and the presentation is great!

Caprese Salad

3 beefsteak tomatoes
1 bunch of basil
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into roughly 3/8 of an inch and set aside. Take the basil and pinch off the leaves, as many as needed for the layering of the salad (when you begin layering you will get a better feeling as to how many you will need). I usually just get a few ready and pick off more of the basil later.

To layer the salad, get a small platter and layer tomato first, then mozzarella and then basil. Repeat until all ingredients are used equally. After the layering is finished, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste all over the salad. Finally drizzle a fair amount of olive oil over the layers. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Meal Planning Edit

So last night we discovered that our corned beef was spoiled so we decided to have left over Chicken Marbella instead. I made a Caprese Salad to go along with it. Pictures to be posted soon! Tonight I am going to stop by the store and make the corned beef. Can't wait!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's for Dinner?

I am going to try and post what we are planning to have for the week as far as meals go. So here it goes:

Sunday: Pork Chops in a Creamy Champagne Sauce with rice and broccoli
Monday: Lemon Pepper Chicken with pan sautéed cabbage
Tuesday: Chicken Marbella with brown rice and mashed potatoes
Wednesday: Corned Beef and Cabbage served with a creamy mustard sauce and Red Potatoes, Cabbage, and Carrots in a dill cream sauce
Thursday and Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Stadium food, going to see FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew

Our Favorite Chicken Dish

This dish has got to be our absolute favorite chicken dish of all time (maybe even favorite of any dish!). Sure, when you first read the ingredients you see some odd things but it is good! My husband is sort of picky about food and he loves it! The recipe comes from a fantastic cookbook called "The Silver Palate Cookbook" and it is by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. I have three favorites when it comes to cooking: Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiis, and this cookbook. There are so many wonderful recipes, you can't go wrong!

Chicken Marbella

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted spanish green olives (don't worry if the olives have pimento, use as is)
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice (I use a whole 3.5 oz jar of capers with juice- just dump the whole thing)
6 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed (I use my little food processor to puree, takes no time at all)
1/4 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered (I just get a bunch of chicken pieces, I don't reduce the rest of the recipe if I don't have enough chicken)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh italian parsley

Combine all ingredients except for the brown sugar, wine and parsley in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large shallow baking pans (I don't do this, I use one dish and it usually contains 10-12 drumsticks and thighs and sometimes things overlap and it is fine). Spoon the marinade over the chicken evenly (This is what the book says but the chicken should be covered in it and go into the pan when you put the chicken in).

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine over the chicken.

Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until cooked all the way through (50 mins to an hour).

Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the parsley over. Serve.

I like to take to make some rice (tonight I cooked some brown rice) and a veggie and spoon the pan juices over it. It is so good! We have the ingredients on hand all the time to make this so we can have it whenever we want. It is so easy just take 10 mins the night before and put it together. Then when you are ready for dinner, take it out of the fridge, put the sugar and wine on and bake! So yummy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Banana Nut Bread

I having been wanting banana nut bread for a really long time. I didn't want to buy some in the store and I have never made it before so I thought I would try. It came out really nice! The recipe I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose white to be a little more healthy. I also used mini loaf pans instead of one regular pan. If you use a regular pan, follow the original recipe as far as baking time goes. This bread has really nice flavor and I will definitely make it again! Here is the original recipe.

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 soft, ripe bananas, mashed

Cream sugar and shortening; add eggs, flour, baking soda, bananas, and chopped nuts. Pour banana bread batter into 4 greased and floured mini loaf pans; bake at 350 for 45 mins-55 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on wire racks and enjoy!

Pork Chops in a Creamy Champagne Sauce

This a great recipe when you want something different and special. We like it for an everyday day type of meal. No need to splurge on the champagne, we use Korbel or something like that. It isn't expensive and still has a good taste to drink with our meal. The original recipe is located here.

Pork Chops in Creamy Champagne Sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 pork loin chops (about 5 ounces each)

1/4 cup chopped shallots

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1 cup sparkling wine or dry Champagne

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and black pepper and add to hot pan. Cook 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove pork from pan and set aside.

To the same pan, add shallots and cook 2 minutes, until soft. Add thyme and tarragon and cook 1 minute, until fragrant. Add sparkling wine and cook 1 minute.

Whisk flour into milk and add to pan. Return pork to pan and simmer 3 to 5 minutes, until pork is cooked through and sauce thickens.

Serve the pork with the sauce.

I made broccoli and rice to go along side. The sauce tastes good over everything we made to go with the pork! Enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato

My husband and I love gelato! On our honeymoon in Rome, we would end every night by the Trevi Fountain with gelato in hand.
I have tried to make this particular gelato a couple of times but with no luck...something wasn't right. Well that something was apparently not letting the custard mixture cool long enough in the fridge. Well, I am happy to say this past week, we have a creamy and wonderful gelato in our freezer (its almost gone too!).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mac and Cheese

This Mac and Cheese recipe is one of our all time favorites. It is a "Everyday Italian" recipe (Giada De Laurentiis is awesome!!!) I have always made this recipe to the letter, but not tonight! I decided that I would mix it up and add and substitute some things..... Instead of ham, I choose chicken and I added fresh minced garlic and a dash of cayenne. The original recipe can be found here.

Mac and Cheese

Butter, for greasing dish

12 ounces wide egg noodles

2 cups heavy cream

2 1/2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups (packed) grated Fontina

3/4 cup (packed) finely grated Parmesan

3/4 cup (packed) grated mozzarella

4 or 5 chicken tender pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced (next time I might add another to make 4- we love garlic!)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Drain well, but do not rinse.

Heat some olive oil (extra virgin) in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Take 4 or 5 chicken tender pieces and slice them into small pieces. Season with salt, pepper and a small amount of cayenne pepper and put in the pan. Cook all the way through. Set aside.

Whisk the cream, milk, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl to blend. Stir in 1 cup Fontina, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, chicken, garlic, and parsley. Add the noodles and toss to coat. Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Toss the remaining 1 cup Fontina, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup mozzarella in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the noodle mixture.

Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Pancakes

I had lots of leftover strawberries from my french toast that I made the other morning so I decided pancakes were in order! This was very good and husband tested and approved! (He isn't that big on strawberries-- or fruit-- for that matter). He really liked them and asked if I could make them again soon. Yay!
The recipe is from Food Network and I added sliced strawberries and semi-sweet chocolate chips. We also added some homemade whipped cream on top! Yum!

Monday, June 8, 2009

BBQ Pulled Pork

3.5 lbs. of pork shoulder + 1 Bottle of Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce= One very happy Husband!

There were lots of inspiration and help with this pulled pork recipe but the main thing was this Dr. Pepper Barbecue sauce we use. We have used it on chicken mainly but now it will be used to make this recipe! Talk about finger-licking good and messy! The smells coming from the crockpot all day were so yummy it was hard to wait until it was all done! Also, I must thank my wonderful mother and brother for the crockpot!!!! It is so awesome and it will get lots of use!

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I will say right off the bat, I didn't measure the seasonings that I put on the pork. I just did enough until it looked covered. I used for this recipe:

1 3.5 lbs. pork shoulder
1 cup water
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Chili Powder (a lot less than the others at least half)
1 bottle of Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce
2 store bought Kaiser rolls

I put the pork shoulder in the crockpot on the lowest setting after seasoning with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder all over the cut of meat. I then poured 1 cup of water over it in the crockpot. 

I covered it for approx. 1 1/2 hours and then turned the pork over and turn it on high. A couple of hours later I turned the heat back down to low and turned the shoulder over again. 

After another couple of hours it was starting to get tender, so I took out the bone and removed most of the liquid. I then started to shred the meat and pour half of the bottle of sauce and replaced the lid of the crockpot. 

About 6 hours into cooking (so 30-45 mins later), I shredded some more of the meat (the last that really became tender) and pour the last half of the barbecue sauce on it and mixed it in with the pork. I let it sit covered on low heat while I got the plates and sliced the rolls open. It was so good!!!

Dill Fingerling Potatoes

I made these potatoes from Barefoot Contessa. I didn't change anything so I am only going to post the link and the pictures I took.
Also, I have included some pictures of the table last night and our cake. The cake was really good considering it has been frozen for a year, we were quite surprised!