Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Perfect Pairings: Fruit

Here's a new series dedicated to life's simple pleasures.  Two things that bring out the best in each other: Perfect Pairings. 
Having kids, we end almost every meal with fruit. Over the last year, I've discovered two extraordinary combos.
Fresh peaches with fresh blueberries
Fresh raspberries with red wine

Monday, May 28, 2012

Feta Chicken with Herbed Rice and Garlic Walnut Green Beans

Feta Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
2 eggs
2 Tbsp water
8-10 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 bunch green onion or chives, chopped
cooking spray
olive oil to drizzle
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 400.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Whisk eggs with water.  Put chicken in container with egg mixture then dip each piece of chicken in the breadcrumbs to coat.  Place in a metal baking dish coated with cooking spray (should be deep enough to hold sauce later - cake pan is good - metal is better than glass for this).  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top each piece of chicken with 1/4 of the cheese and chives.  Whisk together broth, wine and lemon juice then add to the pan.  Set oven to broil.  Put back in the oven until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling - about 5 minutes.  Spoon sauce over chicken and rice to serve.

Herbed Rice with Red Bell Pepper
1 1/2 cups white rice
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 -1 tsp salt
1/4 cup mixed chopped herbs (any mixture of parsley, basil, thyme, chives or spinach)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Melt butter over low heat.  Add garlic/peppers and saute until soft - about 5 minutes.  Add rice and salt.  Stir to coat then add chicken broth.  Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook 20 minutes.  Fluff and stir in herbs.  Be careful not to overstir.

Garlic Walnut Green Beans
1 lb fresh green beans, ends removed
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp butter
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp chives to garnish
s&p to taste
Blanch green beans 5 minutes.  Melt butter then stir in garlic, red pepper and walnuts. Cook 2 minutes over low/medium heat.  Remove from heat then add in green beans, chives, salt and pepper.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Our Little Gardener

It's so fun now that Tatum is finally old enough to be helpful in the garden.  He wants to go out to it every day after school and gets really mad if we pick anything without him.  I just hope he stays interested long enough to want to eat this stuff some day.  At this point, he still only likes the cucumbers and carrots.


Capital of Texas Zoo

Harvest Scramble

5 slices bacon, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 Idaho potatoes, cubed into 1/2-1 inch cubes
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 small mild peppers, chopped (I used banana)
1/2 cup chopped tomato
10 eggs
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 avocado, sliced
2 Tbsp milk  or 1/2 & 1/2
salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat.  When crispy, remove and reserve drippings.  Add onion, potato and pepper to drippings and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring infrequently to allow potatoes to brown.  Once crispy, remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.  Add tomatoes and season liberally with salt and pepper.  In another large bowl, whisk eggs and milk.  Cook eggs in same pan as veggies until fluffy.  In another large bowl, add 1/3 veggies, 1/3 eggs, 1/3 cheese, 1/3 bacon - repeat 3 times then stir gently to combine.  Top with avocado. Serve immediately.

Summer Pasta Topped with Tequila Chicken

Tequila Chicken
4 chicken breasts, butterflied
1/2 cup cilantro
4-5 assorted small peppers, de-seeded (I used a combination of banana and bell peppers from our garden)
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup tequilla
1/3 cup olive oil
Combine all veggies in food processor until finely chopped. Stream in tequila and oil until smooth.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Add sauce and chicken to ziploc bag and marinade at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours.  Grill and enjoy.

Summer Pasta
2 packages fresh fettucine, cooked according to package (buitoni brand)
4 ears fresh corn, grilled then removed from cob
4 slices bacon, chopped in 1 inch pieces
3-4 small peppers, chopped, again, I used mild banana peppers from our garden
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp tabasco
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Remove and set aside, reserving 1 Tbsp drippings.  Cook onion and peppers in drippings over medium heat.  Add in corn when onion and peppers are tender.  Add thyme, tabasco and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook 2-3 minutes to let flavors meld.  Add white wine and cook 3-5 minutes to reduce slightly.  Add cream and cheese and simmer 5 minutes.  Check seasoning.  Combine with fettucine and top with chicken.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pimento Cheese

This is my grandmother's recipe and I have vivid memories of her and my mom serving it when I was a child.  It's still just as good today!

1 pound (4 cups) freshly finely grated sharp cheddar - grating the cheese in a food processor just before making it really important to this recipe; make sure to use the fine blade
1 cup mayonnaise (eyeball it to get to a creamy consistency)
1/2 cup finely chopped pimentos

Freshly grate cheese using food processor.  In a large bowl, mix in pimentos then mayo, until you get a creamy consitency (it will firm up after refrigeration).  Allow the mixture to come to room temperature  (leave out about 30 minutes) then mix well.  This allows the cheese to breakdown and everything to incorporate.  Refrigerate and serve on crackers or sandwiches.

Make Ahead Sunday - Tex Mex Casserole

1 1/2 lb ground turkey or beef
1 onion (chopped)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2-3Tbsp Chile powder or taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans ranch style beans
1 bag tortilla chips (about 4 cups, crushed)
1 lb (1/2 loaf) velvetta cheese, cubed or cut into slices
1 can rotel diced tomatoes
1 16 oz container sour cream
garnish - chopped tomato, chopped chives, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado

Heat oil in skillet and brown meat.  Once done, add onion.  Cook until translucent - 7-10 minutes then add seasoning and water.  Remove from heat.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Line with half the chips.  Top with meat then beans, then cheese and then remaining chips .  Combine rotel and sour cream and pour over chips.  Bake on 350 for 30-40 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.  If making ahead, bake 30 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered.  Garnish with tomato, chives, cilantro and avocado.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday, Tatum!

So I was a little intimidated when I decided to attempt this watermelon, but it actually wasn't that difficult.  First you lay the watermelon longways and make a small diagonal incision on one end (about 1 inch in at the thickest part) to allow the watermelon to stand up at an angle without support.  Then draw the mouth on the other end and cut using a pairing knife. Work the knife inside the fruit until you are able to remove the triangular portion (reserve fruit to cube for later use).  Remove most of the remaining flesh by using the combination of the pairing knife, a larger knife and a spoon (this youtube video was helpful for this part - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb_vRwCHd40).  Leave about 1/4 of the fruit in the melon.  Use a vegetable peeler to shave off 1 inch of the green skin around the edge of the mouth opening then use a pairing knife to create the "teeth".  I filled it back up with some of the remaining cubed watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries and blueberries.  Also pin two blueberries on with toothpicks to create the 'eyes'.  Definitely a fun way to serve fruit!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Subway Art and one more graduation idea

Dowload at Eighteen25

They also have a super cute graduation idea.  Money rolled like a diploma with a "your hard work has paid off with tag' and graduation subway art.  How cute is that?!?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Summer To Do List

Click to enlarge then right click to save.

More Birthday Party Decorations

Silverware holder

Items Needed:
Formula Cans

Glue or zots to hold ribbon around
Tissue and krinkle paper to stuff inside

Sandwich holders

I took a picture of the boxes before I painted them, but of course, I accidentally erased it.  They were Driscoll fruit boxes from Costco.  Here's the closest thing I could find:

All you do is prime and paint them then line with parchment paper.I also made one for the cupcakes since I couldn't find a platter large enough to hold 4 dozen.

Herbed Chicken Breasts with Spring Veggies

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed, ends trimmed and cut into thirds (about 2 inches pieces)
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots, sliced in half at an angle
  • 1/2 cup chopped, sliced into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
In a small bowl combine the thyme, parsley, garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Season chicken with salt and pepper then coat with herb mixture.
Warm the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Place the chicken in the pan when the oil is hot. Cook until crispy and golden, about 5 minutes (do not turn sooner). Turn the chicken and cook the same way on the other side. Turn of heat and reserve pan.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil.
Meanwhile return the same pan to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the onion and carrot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and golden in places, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining veggies and chicken broth. Cover and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary then add butter to thicken sauce.  Spoon the vegetables onto a serving platter along with the chicken. Spoon the sauce over the chicken & veggies. Serve immediately.

Polenta and Bacon with Fontina

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped bacon (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)*
  • 1 cup (packed) grated Fontina cheese (about 3 ounces) - be sure to use Italian, swiss and danish are unmemorable
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Sauté chopped bacon in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings. Add onion and garlic to drippings in skillet and sauté until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, corn, and bacon; bring to boil. Gradually add cornmeal, whisking constantly. Cook until polenta is soft and thick, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Add Fontina and Parmesan, stirring until melted, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve hot.
Source: Carmelo's Italian Restaurant, Austin, TX

Swiss Chard

We're finally starting to have some food from our spring garden.  This week we have arugula, green beans, swiss chard, peppers and a few tomatoes!  Cucumbers should be arriving soon.

5-6 cups swiss chard, washed, stems removed and coursely chopped (it seems like a lot, but it doesn't go very far cooked)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Saute garlic in olive oil for 30 seconds.  Add chard and toss to combine.  Let saute over medium just until cooked, stirring often (3-5 minutes).  Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Make Ahead Sunday: Rigatoni with Red Pepper, Almonds and Breadcrumbs

  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 3 cups purchased garlic-flavored croutons, (about 5 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (about 1 ounce), toasted
  • 1 cup julienned roasted red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/c cup starchy pasta water
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Place the croutons and the almonds in a food processor. Pulse until it becomes the texture of bread crumbs. Add the crouton and almond mixture to the hot pasta. Add the peppers , pasta water and olive oil. Toss to combine and serve.

Based on recipe by Giada De Laurentis

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lemon Crusted Salmon and Baked Artichokes Stuffed with Gorgonzola

Lemon Crusted Salmon
2 Tbsp mayonaise
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tbps chopped flat leaf italian parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
2 salmon filets

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine mayo and lemon in a small bowl.   In a separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs, olive oil and parsley.  Season salmon lightly with salt and pepper.  Place on greased baking pan and top with mayo/lemon mixture then top with breadcrumbs.  Bake on ~12 minutes.

Artichoke Stuffed with Gorgonzola
UPDATE - As evidenced by the food on this blog, I don't mind rich food, but this was a little much, even for me.  I think I prefer the traditional method with a side of melted butter.  Follow the directions in the first paragragh, but extend the cooking time to 45 minutes - 1 hour (depending on the size of the artichokes).
  • Salt
  • 4 artichokes
  • 3 lemons, plus 1 lemon
  • 10 ounces mild Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the artichokes by cutting off the top 1-inch or so. Cut the stem close to the base of the artichoke so the artichoke can sit up straight, and remove some of the bottom leaves. Using kitchen shears, trim the sharp points off of any remaining outer leaves. Add the artichokes to the boiling water. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice into the boiling water. Toss in the lemons. Cook the artichokes until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the artichokes and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the Gorgonzola, cream, thyme, 2 teaspoons parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. In another small bowl stir together the bread crumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the center choke of the artichokes using a small spoon. Stuff the cheese mixture into the center of the artichokes. Place the artichokes into a baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the artichokes. Drizzle the tops of the artichokes with olive oil. Bake until the artichokes are heated through, the cheese is melted, and the bread crumbs are crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a serving dish and serve.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teacher Appreciation

Our school has organized a whole week of special teacher treats.  Tomorrow is flower day.  I found this sweet downloadable tag at Landee See, Landee Do

Here are a few more fun ideas that I found last year:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lemon Garlic Sirloin Tips
  • 2 pounds sirloin tips, trimmed and cubed into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup white vermouth or dry white wine
Bring meat to room temperature and pat dry. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in large, heavy skillet or cast iron skillet over medium-high to high heat. When the oil smokes, add the meat and caramelize before turning. Once evenly browned all over, about 5 minutes, season liberally with salt and pepper, add the garlic and toss with the meat for 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and a little lemon zest and cook for another minute. Add the white vermouth and deglaze the pan. Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately. I served it on a bed of arugula with a side of roasted asparagus and sweet potato fries. 

Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Garlic Mayonnaise
  • 5 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 by 5-inch "fries"
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the sweet potato "fries" on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes - 1 hour.
Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.
When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.

Source: Food TV.


We spent the weekend in Dallas visiting family. Kaylee and I stopped by the Arboretum for a quick photo session, but I actually think the pictures I took at Stuart's sister's beautiful home turned out better!