Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Recipe of the Moment - Roasted Goat Cheese Caprese

So this was a necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention meal. I have a bunch of leftover goat cheese from those crostinis and I have a bunch of delicious tomatoes that need eating before they go bad. Oh, and also some leftover basil. So what do I do with them all? Make a caprese of sorts, roast it till gooey and yummy, and watch Blade Runner with Brad.

This was very simple, and very good, though I think next time I'll turn up the heat about 15 degrees so there's a little more broiling action. But the flavors were delicious, the cheese was melty, and the colors were just too pretty to not make a blog post about!

Roasted Goat Cheese Caprese

2 large tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
4 oz basil
4 oz goat cheese
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Turn oven to 375 degrees
2. Grease a sheet pan with a little olive oil
3. Layer the tomatoes, then the basil, then the crumbled goat cheese on the sheet pan
4. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper the tomato rounds
5. Roast for about 10-15 minutes, until goat cheese has started to brown and the tomato skin has started to curl
6. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before you serve


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recipe of the Moment - Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini

So we had our summer seasonal wine tasting on Saturday (which is its own post, soon to come). And since it's been a little warm and humid here (ok, a lot lately... I've even convinced myself to wake up earlier in the morning so I can still run without melting), for the food and such I needed to find some good cool treats. Not necessarily something that didn't need heat to cook it, but things that could sit and be good warm or cool.

I made some bruschetta that fulfilled this nicely, but it was nothing too special (2 diced tomatoes, about 10 leaves of basil all chopped up, 3 cloves of minced garlic, olive oil, balsamic, stir, let sit, enjoy). And there were also some meats ad cheeses to much on as well. But the yummiest piece of goodness available that night were these fig and goat cheese crostinis. I found a great adriatic fig spread at Whole Foods and some good ciabatta loaf there as well. Slab that all together topped with some goat cheese and then broiled up and it's pure finger food heaven. (A huge shout out to my friend Jamie who did all of the assembly on these which allowed me to jump in the shower before everyone got to our place).

They are really, really simple to make, but really, really good to eat. I suggest you make them for this 4th of July weekend to show off to your friends and family. And then make them again the next day to eat all by yourself.

Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini

Ciabatta loaf, sliced thinly (a french loaf will do as well)
Fig spread/jam
Good semi-soft goat cheese

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Place sliced bread on an oiled sheet pan
3. Spread fig in a nice layer on the bread, and then spread goat cheese on top
4. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until goat cheese is soft and just starting to brown


Friday, June 25, 2010

Recipe of the Moment - Tandoori Chicken Salad with Cumin Dressing

This is another installment of a great summer salad. Low fat, high protein, and tons of flavor. And pretty dang cheap too, if you're like me and have a ton of spices on hand that just sit on your shelf most days.

I wanted another spice rub for the chicken on this salad that wasn't the blackening mix I've used a couple times before. I went to an awesome Indian restaurant a week ago with some friends, and with visions of that dancing in my head, I decided on a curry chicken of some sort. The tandoori chicken I came up with was awesome. It wasn't too spicy, but it had a nice kick (I got the tandoori spice mix here). I added in some fresh veggies, and found a cumin dressing here that sounded like a perfect complement. 

Brad and I were very pleased with the results, and if I'd had more room in my stomach, I would have even been willing to make more chicken for seconds. As it was, I'm just happy to have made this once so I'll know to make it again. A great, refreshing, filling salad that has now become a Carter favorite.

Tandoori Chicken Salad with Cumin Dressing

2 chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/2 inch thick
Tandoori spice mix (see ingredients below)
4 oz spring salad mix
1 medium tomato, cubed
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 T red wine vinegar
1 1/2 T stone ground mustard
1 T cumin
1/2 T curry powder
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c cilantro, minced

Tandoori Spice Mix Ingredients
2 T onion powder
2 T garlic powder
2 T ground ginger
2 T coriander
1 T cumin
1 T cayenne
1 T turmeric
1 T pepper
1 T salt

1. Mix together tandoori spices in a small bowl or cup (watch out, that turmeric will turn your fingers yellow!)
2. Lay the pounded chicken on saran wrap or a plate and coat lightly in olive oil, then coat well with the spice mix
3. Heat a large pan over medium high heat
4. Once hot, cook the chicken for about 5 minutes per side, till it has a nice crust and is cooked through
5. Remove from pan and cut on the diagonal for pretty slices to top the salad with
6. Whisk vinegar, mustard, cumin and curry together in a small bowl
7. Slowly add olive oil, whisking vigorously until fully incorporated and dressing is creamy
8. Layer spring mix, then onions, then tomatoes, then cucumbers, topping with the chicken and then drizzling dressing over everything and sprinkle with cilantro. Yum!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Recipe of the Moment - Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

Our weekly Salad and Sangria Wednesdays are starting to expand. First, we switched to watching Bravo's new reality show Work of Art, which is right up Brad's alley, what with the art and all. (Though the jury is still out on whether this is going to help or hinder the art world, especially after the ousting of Trong last week and the complete dissing of conceptual art). Sarah, our Project Runway friend who was there for the original iteration of S&SW, has come again for this version, and has been joined by our other artsy friends Seth and Shauna. With the expansion of people also came the expansion of shows... not only do we have Work of Art on wednesdays, we now also have Top Chef! (It's back! Yay!)

Simply salad and sangria is not enough to satiate Sarah, Seth, Shauna and us. And so we've been rotating duties of salad, sangria and an added main dish weekly. Last week was my turn for a main dish.

I don't cook that well for large groups (and by that I mean anything over 3). In fact, I was asked by someone last week if I had any recipes for her family get-together. She was going to have 19 people at her house for the fourth of July. I got scared by the sheer numbers and wimped out by offering up a turkey burger recipe. (Anyone out there have good group recipes? Please let us know!)

So when there are 5 people to feed, I feel slightly out of my comfort zone. And since Seth had already made quesadillas the week before (great group recipe idea, dang it), I had to go somewhere else for inspiration. I settled on the queen of fancy get-togethers, Ina Garten, or the Barefoot Contessa. I have her barefoot contessa at home book and love it. My favorite recipe from there is a Caesar Club Sandwich, which I've faithfully reconstructed many a time. Of course, it's also super versatile, so it's easy for me to mess with. I made a version of that for the night and it was great. Some crispy pancetta, some yummy chicken, some creamy dressing and some crunchy bread. Perfect to eat while watching gourmet chefs slicing and dicing on tv and not feel too shabby at all about the deliciousness that's going into your mouth at that moment.

Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

1 loaf sliced sourdough bread (get good crusty stuff if you can find it)
1 rotisserie chicken, hand shredded
8 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (bacon or turkey bacon works just as well)
1/2 bag baby spinach
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil, tomatoes slice lengthwise
Parmesan cheese (best shaved, I had to used shredded)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 T dried parsley leaves
2 t anchovy paste
2 t Dijon mustard
3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 c mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, moving one rack up to the top of the oven
2. Spread pancetta slices on a parchment paper lined sheet pan (parchment paper leads to easy clean up)
3. Roast pancetta for about 20 minutes, or until crisp, remove, and drain on paper towels
4. Place bread on oven rack to toast while making the spread (don't toast too much, it makes them hard to crunch through)
4. In a small food processor, chop garlic cloves with parsley till minced
5. Add anchovy paste, Dijon, lemon juice and mayo and process till smooth
6. Assemble the sandwiches by placing spread on both slices of bread, placing spinach on both sides, then topping one side with sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, pancetta, chicken and salt and pepper.
7. Place top half on and you're good to go!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Recipe of the Moment - Chipotle Chicken Alfredo Pasta

Brad came home from his trip to Montreal to watch the F1 race there (jealous!) and so I finally had a reason to make yummy food this week. Where there's no-one there to share it with, I just don't have as much fun making anything harder than rice or yogurt. But in honor of our first dinner together after he came back, I wanted to do something creative. A blackened chicken pasta of some sort came to my head, using the blackening process I used in this post last month for a blackened chicken salad.

But as far as the pasta sauce and such went, I really wasn't sure how to go. I found quite a few recipes that made an alfredo sauce to go with blackened chicken, but that sounded a little boring to me. So I decided to use this recipe for an alfredo sauce, but modify it to make it a chipotle alfredo sauce with a little more kick.

If I do say so myself, this was fantastic. Just spicy enough to enjoy without needing ice cold milk every other bite. And a ton of good, creamy flavor to balance out some of the spice as well. I used wheat pasta and it worked nicely, and also made me feel a little better about the not-so-healthful properties of the meal. A side note, the pictures from last night just don't do it justice, but trust me, you should try this sometime soon. It is very worth eating.

Chipotle Chicken Alfredo Pasta

2 chicken breasts, pounded with a mallet until 1/2 inch thick
Olive oil
2 T butter
1 c white onion, diced
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, cleaned of seeds and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c cream
1 t chipotle chile powder
1 t salt
1 large tomato, chopped
1 lb whole wheat linguine
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1 T dried parsley

1. Coat chicken breasts in olive oil and rub with blackening spice mixture
2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, sear each side of the chicken for about 2 minutes, until a nice crust forms
3. Reduce the heat to low and let chicken finish cooking (it won't take too long, they are thin pieces of meat)
4. Remove chicken and wrap in foil to stay warm
5. Start boiling water for the pasta, add in pasta and cook till al dente, drain, but reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water
6. While pasta is cooking, make the chipotle alfredo sauce, wipe the chicken pan out with a paper towel and then heat the butter and 1 T olive oil over medium high heat
7. When butter has completely melted, add onions and chipotles, cooking till onions are somewhat soft
8. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute
9. Add cream, chipotle powder and salt and bring to a boil
10. Cook until the sauce is reduced by half, about 3 minutes
11. Toss the pasta, the tomatoes, the reserved pasta water and the sauce in a large bowl
12. Add green onion, parmesan cheese and parsley and toss to combine (cook's note, I forgot the green onion and cheese and it still turned out wonderfully, but I bet it would have been better with those ingredients involved)
13. Slice chicken breasts and lay on top of pasta to serve


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Recipe of the Moment - Baby Lemon Cupcakes

As a follow up to the quiche post, I also made a bunch of miniature cupcakes for the same baby shower. I thought it was a great way to tie in the shower colors, something easy to eat for a brunch, and baby-sized things. And besides, who doesn't love cupcakes?

I bought two inexpensive mini cupcake tins at Jewel, of all places, so I could bake 24 cupcakes at a time. I also made some very simple cream cheese frosting that I colored light blue, light green and left some white for the celebration of a new little boy. I used boxed lemon cake mix (nothing fancy, but just be prepared for one box to make about 60 cupcakes), swirled with frosting and then lemon zest to top it all off and give a little kick to balance the sweetness of the frosting.

They turned out wonderfully and they were a perfect baby shower treat. I'm definitely going to make them again for my next shower.

Baby Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 box lemon cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist mix)
1 1/4 c water
1/3 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
Mini cupcake paper cups
8 ounces cream cheese
1 c butter, softened
2 t vanilla extract
4 c powdered sugar (or more, if you'd like it to be sweeter or stiffer)
Food coloring
4 lemons, zested

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees
2. Beat cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs together till well mixed
3. Place paper cups in cupcake tins and fill with about 1 T of batter per cup (enough to almost fill the cup)
4. Bake cupcakes for about 14 minutes, or until puffed and edges are lightly browned
5. Remove and place cupcakes on a rack to cool
6. After all the cupcakes are baked and while they are cooling, start making the frosting
7. Beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until well blended
8. Slowly add the powdered sugar, beating until consistency and taste are what you desire
9. Divide the frosting into thirds in small bowls and whisk in food coloring
10. Once the cupcakes are cooled, frost them... I frosted the cupcakes by piping out a dab of frosting onto each cupcake and used the back of a spoon to swirl on top then pull off quickly to create the nice little top
11. Sprinkle lemon zest randomly on top


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Recipe of the Moment - Mushroom Quiche and Sausage Pepper Quiche

This comes to us courtesy of my friend Jess' baby shower. I was asked to help host, and my part of hosting involved the food prep. I was very excited to be a part of this wonderful day. We have such an awesome group of women at our church, and spending the morning with them while celebrating a new little life was great.

For my part, I baked a bunch of mini cupcakes (recipe forthcoming), and I also made two different quiches. Quiches are a great baby shower food. They are easy to make, appropriate for a breakfast or brunch time, and usually very yummy. I have a certain favorite quiche recipe (this one, thank you Barbara Bush), and it's very easy to tweak and play with. It gives you the basic proportions for a quiche and allows you to then play with ingredients at a whim. One of these was the basic mushroom quiche that the recipe calls for with a few tweaks depending on my spice rack, and one sausage pepper version that I made up. Both were delicious. I was quite pleased. I'll give you the recipes for them both.

Photo courtesy of Jenna Satterthwaite -

Mushroom Quiche

2 T butter
1 1/4 lbs baby bella mushrooms (aka Crimini or Italian brown mushrooms), chopped
3 green onions, choppped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 shallots, minced
2 1/2 t marjoram
2 t basil
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t dry mustard
4 eggs
3/4 c 2% milk
1 unbaked 9 inch frozen pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Melt butter in medium or large skillet over medium-high heat
3. Saute mushrooms, green onions, garlic, shallots and all herbs till almost all mushroom liquid has evaporated
4. Let mushroom mixture cool completely
5. Beat eggs and milk together thoroughly
6. Add mushroom mixture to egg mixture
7. Pre-bake frozen pie crust for 10 minutes, till light brown and bubbly
8. Pour mushroom mixture into pie crust
9. Turn oven down to 375 and when at correct temperature, bake quiche until puffy and starting to brown, about 40 min, give or take 5 minutes
10. Let sit about 5 min before serving

Sausage and Pepper Quiche

2 T olive oil
2 links italian style sausage, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T cumin
1 1/2 T coriander
1 t garlic salt
1 t black pepper
4 eggs
3/4 c 2% milk
1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat
3. Saute sausage, onion, pepper and garlic for about 3 minutes
4. Add in spices and saute till veggies are soft, about 3 more minutes
5. Let sausage mixture cool completely
6. Beat eggs and milk together thoroughly

7. Add sausage mixture to egg mixture
8. Pre-bake frozen pie crust for 10 minutes, till light brown and bubbly
9. Pour sausage mixture into pie crust
10. Turn oven down to 375 and when at correct temperature, bake quiche until puffy and starting to brown, about 40 min, give or take 5 minutes
11. Let sit about 5 min before serving


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Recipe of the Moment - Spinach Mint and Cantaloupe Salad

A couple nights back, we were invited over to a friend's house for a meal of sliders, sweet potato fries, and mojitos made of the overabundance of mint that their landlord has growing in the garden. Awesome. We're in. When I asked if I could bring something, they said sure, whatever sounds good to you. I figured a salad of some sort would be just the ticket.

And since they had all this mint they were trying to use, I tried to find some sort of salad that was summery, yummy, and incorporated mint in it somehow. I found this recipe online for a Spinach Canteloupe Salad that had some mint in it. At first glance, it sounded pretty sketchy. But a ton of reviewers said it was good, and hey, the collective mind rarely leads me astray when it comes to recipe suggestions, so I thought I'd go for it. I made a few changes because I was not trekking all over town to find mint apple jelly, and the store didn't have any good looking red peppers. As it was, it turned out wonderfully. The cool cantaloupe and the sharp peppers were great counterpoints, and the mint paired itself very nicely. Trust me. It's worth eating, even if you don't think it will be.

Spinach Mint and Cantaloupe Salad

Salad Ingredients
8 oz spinach
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cantaloupe, chopped
1/4 c mint, chopped
1 T freshly squeezed lime juice

Dressing Ingredients
3 T light olive oil
1 1/2 T white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T mint, minced

1. Toss all of the salad ingredients together in the bowl except for the avocado and lime
2. Place avocado on top of salad and drizzle with lime juice to keep from browning
3. To make the dressing, whisk vinegar, lime juice, garlic and mint together then slowly add the olive oil, whisking continually
4. Both the salad and the dressing can be left sitting for up to three hours before use, to let the flavors meld, though refrigeration may be a good idea and remember to re-whisk the dressing again before serving


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recipe of the Moment - Poached Salmon with Shallot Lemon Butter Sauce

I'm finally back! Sorry for the hiatus, I haven't had much opportunity to cook with all of our traveling and recovering and such. This recipe comes from our trip to San Diego. My two girls, Francine and Suzanne, came up for Memorial Day weekend and France wanted salmon for our dinner. Being me, I wanted to find a new way to cook salmon that was going to be all fancy and such.

I found a blog that posted a recipe for shallow poached salmon that looked like a fun technique. I modified it a little bit, but followed it mostly. The idea of poaching has always intrigued me, but I always figure it would be a bit difficult. Not so. This salmon was cooked perfectly, still creamy and flaky without being overdone at all. I made an asparagus risotto on the side to go with it. Paired with a bottle of Orfila's Lotus Viognier, it was a perfect girl's san diego weekend meal.

Poached Salmon with Shallot Lemon Butter Sauce

2 lemons, zested and cut into 1/2 inch slices, zest reserved
4 5 oz salmon fillets
2 shallots, minced
1 T marjoram
1 c dry white wine (I used a cheap Pinot Grigio)
1 c chicken stock
2 T butter, cut into cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Rinse fillets and pat dry, season with salt and pepper
2. Arrange lemon slices in a pan large enough to place all four fillets comfortably, top with half of the minced shallot and some of the marjoram sprinkled on top
3. Place each fillet on top of the lemon slices skin side down, making sure no part of the fillet touches the pan
4. Fill the pan with the chicken stock and wine, using enough so that the liquid just comes up past the bottom of the fillets
5. Turn the pan to high heat and bring the liquid to a simmer
6. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook about 10-12 minutes until the salmon is done
7. Remove the fillets to a plate and wrap with foil to stay warm
8. Turn the heat back up in the pan to high
9. Add the lemon zest, the rest of the shallots, and the rest of the marjoram to the pan and reduce, stirring frequently, till the mixture has thickened
10. Swirl in the butter and serve, pouring the sauce over the salmon fillets