Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Roasted Shrimp with Rosemary and Thyme

Our trip to California was absolutely amazing. We visited Newport Beach and had a chance to eat some amazing Seafood. After touring the beach town, we flew to San Francisco and toured Napa Valley and Sonoma where we wined and dined the entire week. I think my pants are feeling a bit snug after the trip but it was completely worth it!
Now time to eat healthy for the week before the 4th of July.  This shrimp dish was taken from Fine Cooking and serves 4. It is sure to please a crowd with its herb infused oil. Serve over a bed of rice and with a side of roasted vegetables and you have yourself a tasty and healthy dinner.

6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
6 fresh thyme sprigs
3 large fresh rosemary sprigs, halved
1-1/2 lb. extra-large shrimp (26 to 30 per lb.) peeled
1-1/2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the olive oil, thyme, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon of pepper in a mixing bowl. Pour mixture the mixture into a baking dish and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Add the shrimp to the dish and coat with oil. Bake the shrimp for 8-10 minutes, until pink and firm.Add the vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt and stir well. Let the shrimp cool for about 5 minutes. Serve shrimp and the sides of your choice and enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane to California!

Well the long awaited trip has finally arrived. We are off to California until June 26th!! During this time I am taking a much needed break from all things electronic, including blogging. We will be visiting many amazing restaurants and I plan to come back inspired, ready to cook new and interesting dishes.Take care until then!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuna Pasta

And the adventure begins. Last night I cut an entire bunch of what I thought was parsley from our garden. Once I got it inside and starting cutting I realized that the parsley was actually cilantro. Oops. I must have been so excited that our garden was finally starting to bloom that I wasn't paying attention. It was in fact the first time I have yet to cook with something that I actually planted in the garden. But the fresh herbs were definitely worth the wait!!

Our Garden.
When I am cooking new recipes, or even old ones, I like to prepare every ingredient that I can before I start the actual process of cooking. Below is a step by step way to make Tuna Pasta with capers and fresh herbs (if you don't have a garden, no worries. You can purchase all of these herbs at your local grocery store).

This Tuna Pasta serves 2 and only takes around 25 minutes to make!
Tuna Pasta.
Salt and Pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (More for drizzling over pasta).
Red pepper flakes to taste
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup yellow tomatoes
1/2 cup red tomatoes
3 cups penne pasta, (Approximately 1/2 pound)
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1/8 cup parsley
4.5 ounce canned tuna in olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
Pecorino Romano Cheese (Or other cheese if you prefer)

Finely chop the garlic, rosemary and parsley. Half tomatoes if using mini. If using regular size tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces. Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Heat oil in a skillet over medium- high heat. Once oil is ready, add red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Take out garlic and red pepper flakes and set aside in a bowl (don't worry if you cannot remove all of them, you will be adding back in later). Add the tomatoes to the oil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rosemary, salt, and pepper and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add back in  half of the garlic and red pepper flakes. Remove from heat. Stir in the tuna(with oil) and capers. Set sauce aside. Cook the pasta in boiling water for around 7 minutes or until al dente. When ready, strain the pasta and drizzle olive oil over. Stir in the pasta with the sauce. Sprinkle parsley and grate pecorini romano cheese over pasta.   Enjoy!

Finished Pasta with Grated Cheese.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spicy Chicken Tacos

I don’t know about you but rain always puts me in a sour mood. All I want to do is curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and a good movie on the television. However this dish should change your mind. Serve with rice and you have yourself a perfect rainy Tuesday night dinner. Who knows you might even be in the mood for a homemade Margarita.

Special Cooking Equipment: Food Processor (blender will work as a substitute).

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4 large boneless chicken thighs with skin (about 5 ounces each), pounded 1/3 inch thick
1/2 pound tomatillos—husked and quartered
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large jalapeño with seeds, chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Warm corn tortillas, for serving

In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the lime juice with 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add the chicken thighs and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

In a food processor, combine the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeño, onion and cilantro and process to a coarse puree. Transfer the salsa to a bowl and stir in the avocado and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour with the pepper, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

In a large skillet, heat 1/3 inch of oil until shimmering. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. Fry the chicken over moderately high heat until well-browned and crisp, about 3 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Cut the chicken into thin strips and serve with the tomatillo salsa and warm corn tortillas.
*Taken from Food and Wine Magazine.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Arugula Salad with Pears, Pancetta, and Goat Cheese

If, like me, you indulged a little too much over the weekend then this salad is the perfect treat for this evening. The Arugula salad with Pears, Pancetta, and Goat Cheese was derived from the cooking website Epicurious and serves 4. Serve alongside roasted vegetables and your favorite fish and you have the makings for a delicious, healthy dinner. Enjoy!

Ingredients for vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for salad
5 slices of pancetta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 pears
4 cups baby arugula
3 oz goat cheese

Whisk together vinegar, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add in the oil and whisk until well combined.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is ready, cook the pancetta, turning frequently for 5 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel to drain and cool. Once cooled, tear the pancetta into bite-size pieces. Cut the pears into thin slices and discard the core. Add the pears to the dressing along with the arugula, cheese, and pancetta, tossing to coat. Pair with your favorite vegetable and fish.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Potato Salad

Good Afternoon Readers,
The "no plan weekend" has proven to be a success. We have spent the entire weekend enjoying great food with friends, relaxing on the deck with mojitos, and taking pleasure in the gorgeous weather. I can think of no other way to end this fabulous weekend than with a BBQ.  Bring this Homemade Potato Salad to the BBQ and you are guaranteed an invite back.

3 lbs red potatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2 stalks celery 
1/2 white onion
3 green scallions
1 tbsp paprika
Salt to taste
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup thyme leaves

Cut the potatoes in fours and boil for 20 minutes, or until tender. Strain and set aside to cool. While potatoes are boiling chop the celery, onion, scallions, and thyme. Mix ingredients with the mayonnaise and mustard. Stir in the salt, pepper, and paprika. Once the potatoes have cooled add them to the mixture and cover with a lid or saran wrap. Let the potato salad sit for an hour. Enjoy!

*Recipe taken from Eatocracy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

This weekend is one of those rare instances where we absolutely have no plans. We are always so busy on the weekends that a “no plan” weekend is a welcomed change. Naturally, I have every intention to relax on the deck with a mojito in hand, go to the Farmer’s Market to hopefully score some fresh ingredients, and maybe even frequent a local winery. But more importantly, I am going to take full advantage of this opportunity to cook and bake some interesting dishes. If, like me, you have more time than usual or if you are having friends over and looking to impress then Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce is the dish for you! This delicious dish was taken from my favorite cooking magazine Fine Cooking and will serve 4. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!

Special Utensils: Food processor (may use a blender as a substitute), zester, pastry brush

Sea Salt
1 lb thick asparagus, trimmed, spears cut into 1 inch pieces, tips reserved
6 tbs. mascarpone (can be found in the cheese section at your local grocery store)
1/3 cup whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 tsp anchovy paste
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and pepper
36 wonton wrappers
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup blanched almonds (directions on how to do this below), chopped
Freshly grated lemon zest to taste

Side Bar: If you are unsure how to blanch almonds, see directions below:
Bring water to boil on high heat. Once water is boiling, add in the almonds. Boil the almonds for 1 minute. Strain the almonds into a colander and place the strained almonds into a bowl of cold water. Wait until the almonds cool, dry with a paper towel and place in a small bowl. You now have blanched almonds!

Bring water to boil in a medium pot over high heat. Make sure to salt water. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Boil the asparagus tips for 2 minutes. Transfer the tips to the ice water. Once cool transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Repeat above with the asparagus spears. Dry them with a paper towel. In a food processor chop 1 1/2 cups of the spears very finely and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining spears to the tips.

Add the mascarpone, ricotta, parmesan, anchovy paste, garlic and cayenne to the chopped asparagus. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange 18 wonton wrappers on the counter. Put 1 level tbs. of the asparagus filling in the center of each wrapper. Be sure to keep mixture in the center, making closure of the wonton easier and secure. Using a pastry brush moisten the edges of each with water. Top each with another wrapper and press the edges firmly to seal, expelling any air bubbles as you seal. If you don't plan to cook the ravioli immediately, cover them with a damp cloth.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and add the almonds, shaking the pan. Cook until the butter turns light brown, about 6 minutes, and then immediately transfer to a small bowl.

Add the ravioli to the boiling water. (I do this in batches, 6 ravioli at a time). When they rise to the surface, after about 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to plates. Spoon the brown butter mixture over the ravioli. Top with the reserved asparagus pieces, a grinding of pepper, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and a little lemon zest, and serve.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Recipe for Salmon with Lentils and Mustard Herb Butter

Good Afternoon Readers,

In a week from tomorrow, B and I will be traveling to California. In light of this we have both been trying to eat a little healthier than usual. (Although you might not have been able to tell from some of my recent blog posts). Additionally, being that Thursday is my favorite week night, I am in the mood to try out a new recipe in our kitchen this evening. I have located this delightful French recipe from again one of my favorite cooking websites: Epicurious. If all goes to plan, on the menu tonight will be Salmon with Lentils and Mustard Herb Butter. I am also going to serve Roasted Asparagus on the side. Cook Alongside with me this evening and be sure to let me know how it goes! Enjoy!

For mustard-herb butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For lentils
1 cup French green lentils
4 cups water
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 to 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For salmon
4 (6-ounce) pieces skinless salmon fillet
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Make mustard-herb butter:
Stir together all ingredients with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Cook lentils:
Bring lentils, water, and 3/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid, then drain lentils.
While lentils cook, chop leeks, then wash . Cook leeks in butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add lentils with reserved cooking liquid to leeks along with 3 tablespoons mustard-herb butter and cook, stirring, until lentils are heated through and butter is melted. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and keep warm, covered.

Sauté salmon while leeks cook:
Pat salmon dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (total).

Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté salmon, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total.

Serve salmon, topped with remaining mustard-herb butter, over lentils. Enjoy!

*Recipe taken from Epicurious.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Boy has it been a long week already. And it’s only Wednesday! Two more work days to go until the weekend. The good news is that I have the perfect drink to help refresh, revitalize, and energize after this long and extremely hot day. After taking your first sip of this Mojito you will know just what I mean. And who knows maybe one might turn into two. Enjoy!

12-15 Mint leaves
2/3 Cup Club Soda
1 Teaspoon Sugar (If you prefer sweet drinks you might want to add more sugar).
1 Teaspoon Lime Juice
1 Shot Light Rum

Fill your glass with ice. Then add light rum to the glass. In a separate glass, add the mint and club soda. Crush the mint and club soda until well combined.  Add the mint and club soda to the rum and ice. Stir in the lime juice and sugar. Top with a mint leaf and lime wedge. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spicy Dill Turkey Burgers

It’s a hot one this evening!! If you are craving a burger but don’t feel like getting out in this scorching heat then Spicy Dill Turkey Burgers on a grill pan are the perfect selection. Serve roasted asparagus and a salad of your choice alongside this tasty treat for the perfect meal.

Special Cooking Equipment: Grill Pan. We just purchased one from Bed Bath and Beyond and it works great!

1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons reduced-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh dill
2 teaspoons hot sauce of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground turkey

Combine red onions, yogurt, dill, hot sauce, salt, and garlic in a bowl. Combine the turkey with the other ingredients. Shape the turkey into 4 patties. Place a lightly oiled grill pan on medium- high heat. Once the griddle is preheated, cook the Turkey burgers for 7 minutes per side, turning only once or until no longer pink. Serve with toasted buns and the accompaniments of your choice. Lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and spicy ground mustard taste great with these burgers. Enjoy eating these tasty burgers in the coolness of your home!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fennel & Orange Salad

After indulging this past weekend on your every heart's desire, something light for dinner is a must. A Fennel and Orange Salad is an easy and light recipe that will pair well with the meat or fish of your choice. This tasty, summer salad serves 2.

2 fennel bulbs
3 small oranges
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Cut the fennel into small slices and place into a bowl. Discard all but a few fennel fronds. (For an informational video on how to cut fennel click on the following link. You will want your fennel sliced much thinner and in longer strips than the video portrays). Squeeze the juice out of one orange unto the fennel. Add the salt and the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Let the salad sit for up to an hour. (If pairing with a meat or fish, you could take this time to prepare the accompaniment that you select). Peel and cut the remaining 2 oranges into small pieces and put into the salad. Toss the basil and a small amount of fennel fronds into the salad and serve. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

Sunday is the day of rest or some would say. I think Sunday’s are a perfect day to try out new recipes. If you are craving something great for breakfast but don’t feel like leaving the house then Biscuits and Gravy are a perfect Sunday treat. Fill up on this delicious treat and you will not need to eat until supper time.

Serving Size 5
Sidebar: To save time you may buy store bought biscuits and cook as directed.

Gravy Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
1pound medium pork sausage

Biscuit Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain yogurt

For Biscuits
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the butter. It is the easiest to use your hands to mix the dry ingredients with the butter. Then add in the yogurt. Once well incorporated, put the dough on a lightly floured surface. Kneed into a 3/4 inch thick triangle. Cut into 10 2-inch round circles with a biscuit cutter or glass. Place onto 2 ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 7-9 minutes.

For Sausage Gravy
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Pour in the heavy cream and whole milk into the saucepan and whisk until it starts to boil. Season the gravy with salt and put on low heat. Cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Simultaneously, cook the sausage per package instructions. Once the gravy has simmered for 20 minutes, stir in the drained, cooked sausage and pepper to taste. Mix until well combined. Pour sausage gravy over biscuits and enjoy!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spinach Tuna Salad with Oranges, Cilantro and Almonds

Good Morning Readers,

We have big plans this evening. Brandon is cooking as one of the “100 Men Who Cook”. Every year a 100 of the town’s male chefs reach into their recipe boxes and cook for all attendees. This charity event rose over $42,000 dollars last year for the Boys and Girls Club! In light of the festivities and the ungodly amount of food that will be consumed this evening, something light for lunch is definitely in order. This delightfully yummy and light dish serves 4 people and is an inspiration from one of my favorite cooking websites, Epicurious.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 oranges, peeled and chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 9-ounce can tuna packed in water and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 cups spinach leaves
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and chopped garlic in a bowl until blended together. Disperse spinach leaves evenly on each plate. Mix together the oranges, red onion, tuna, cilantro, salt and pepper. Spoon tuna mixture evenly over spinach leaves. Sprinkle cooled, toasted almonds over the spinach leaves. Drizzle dressing onto the tuna salad and serve. Enjoy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pan Seared Tuna Steaks & Nutty Vinaigrette Salad

It’s Friday Night. You might have a movie to catch or a drink date with friends. Even if your plan consists of curling up on the couch with a good book, you probably do not want to spend the entire night cooking and cleaning after the long workweek that just ended. With this simple recipe you can cook, eat, and clean up in under an hour and a half. Make this meal in a flash and head out to the theater or whatever else your night might bring.

Sidebar: This meal is perfect for “Date Night” and serves 2. If you are cooking for more people just increase the recipe as desired. If desired the strawberries, goat cheese, and hazelnuts can be increased or decreased depending on your preference. Additionally, they can be substituted for other ingredients of your choice.

Serving Size 2
Special Cooking Equipment: Food Processor (If you do not have a food processor the following will work: blender, magic bullet, etc.)

Ingredients for Nutty Vinaigrette Salad
3 cups Spinach Leaves
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons balsamic
¼ cup hazelnuts
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Place the garlic clove, balsamic, hazelnuts, and extra virgin olive oil in the food processor. Blend until mixed through. Place spinach leaves on small plates. Top with goat cheese and strawberries. Drizzle nutty vinaigrette over salads. The salads can be prepared before the Tuna Steaks.

Ingredients for Seared Tuna Steaks
2 -3.5-5-oz. boneless, skinless tuna steaks (If tuna steaks seems thick you can slice in half down the middle to cut down on cooking time)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium shallot, finely chopped
½ cup yellow tomatoes, halved
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/8 cup sliced pitted green olives
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Season the tuna with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Place the tuna in the skillet and cook, turning once. Total cooking time will be around 3 to 4 minutes total for medium rare. Transfer the tuna to a large plate and cover with aluminum foil.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallot to the skillet. (Helpful Hint: A great way to test to see if the oil is ready is by placing just a few pieces of shallot into the pan. If it sizzles then it is ready to go).Cook the shallot for about one minute. Add the tomatoes, olives, basil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper; cook until warmed through and the tomatoes are just softened, about 2 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat and gently stir in the lemon juice.

Transfer the tuna to plates, top with the tomato mixture and serve. Enjoy!

*Seared Tuna retrieved in part from Fine Cooking Magazine.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Red Thai Shrimp Curry

I have always loved Curry and eating Thai food is one of my favorites. However, I was always intimidated when it came to cooking it. I was ecstatic when I came across this recipe in Fine Cooking.While visiting my friend Renee in Austin, I discovered that this recipe was easy to create, fun to cook with friends and tastes delicious!! And the best part of it all is that the possibilities are endless. Here is my take on the recipe.

Red Thai Shrimp Curry
Serving Size 4

1- 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup red curry paste
1 cup lower salt chicken broth
1 lb shrimp
6 whole leaves: fresh or thawed frozen wild lime leaves +1 tbs. (substitute 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest)
three 1/8 inch thick slices fresh ginger
1 cup bamboo shoots
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup Japanese/ Chinese eggplant
1 cup bok choy
2 tbs. light brown sugar
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 cup basil

Make the curry paste:
Shake the can of coconut milk. In a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat, simmer 1/2 cup of the coconut milk stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes.
Add curry paste, whisk well and cook, continuing to Wisk, for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth and the remaining coconut milk. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat.

Once the curry paste is simmering, add in the lime leaves and ginger for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Add in the brown sugar and the fish sauce. Add in the eggplant and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Add in the shitake mushrooms and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Add in the bamboo shoots and bok choy and simmer for 1 minute.

Remove the curry from the heat add in basil and 1 tbs. lime leaves. Enjoy!

An interesting tool for creating a wide variety of Thai Curry dishes can be found online at http://www.finecooking.com/articles/cyor/thai-curry.aspx

*Recipe retrieved from Fine Cooking Magazine.