Monday, August 29, 2011

Hunker Down

If there is ever another hurricane, I'm pretty sure the King will demand this be prepared so that we can hunker down.  
Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese.  And yes, it is as good as it looks.  I'm beginning to salivate just admiring the picture.

So anyway, this is what we ate for dinner on Saturday night while the rain poured down outside.  The sad news is, our power went off at 2:30AM.  I sat bolt upright in bed and screamed "oh no!  The buffalo chicken mac and cheese!"  I became increasingly concerned and nervous when we woke up and the power was still out.  I made it until about 11AM when I forced the King to fire up the grill so that we could reheat it for lunch.  Sadly the rest of the leftovers had to go to the garbagemen after our power remained out for 18 hours.
Do yourself a favor and make this buffalo chicken cheesy awesomeness.

* If When I make this dish again, I will be SURE to have all of the ingredients measured out and ready to go in their respective plans.  This recipe was somewhat of a juggling act with 3 pans going on the stove at once.  The kitchen may have looked like hurricane Irene made a sweep through our kitchen.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Support for the King...

I decided to keep my momentum going and blog 2 days in a row!  I know.  Pick your jaw up off the floor and keep reading.

So the King recently decided that he needed to get back to the gym and see a trainer.  This is great news!  I'm fully supportive!  But do you know how hard it is to be supportive at 5:30AM when his alarm goes off to get up and go see said trainer 3 days a week?  Let's be honest, I completely stunk at being supportive the first week.  That's entirely too early!  I need my queenly beauty rest.  That first week, I had a lot of trouble going back to sleep.  Thankfully, I've fallen into a routine of going back to sleep just in time for school to start next Monday morning when I'll have to be up at 6 anyway!

So in trying to support the King in this new effort, I made these yummy, thick, chewy granola bars (I added the needs to be included in the title).  I think they'll be quick, easy and something to stick to his ribs while he pumps iron during his early morning workout.

And I'm back to being a supportive wife.  Vote for me!  Wife of the year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Easy" Foccacia

I thought this post deserved to stand on it's own.  Last week, the King and I went to see a concert where attendees are encouraged to picnic in the lawn seats!  It was fabulous.  We laid down our blanket and dug into our antipasto salad with romaine and arugula lettuces, cherry tomatoes, canellini beans, shredded fontina cheese, salami, kalamata olives, and capers.  For dressing, I whisked together this Parmesan Vinaigrette.  It was tasty.

On the side I served up hunks of this beautiful guy:
His preparation was a labor of love, but well worth it!!  The "easy" in this focaccia recipe is the ease of slapping the ingredients together.  But if you make it, make sure you have plenty of time to allow it to rise in a variety of positions.  It takes patience!

For dessert we chomped on the last of these Rainbow Cookies and finished off a bottle of Riesling.  It was picnic perfect.

What is your perfect picnic food?

She lives!

So apparently it has been a month since I have blogged!  It has been one heck of a summer.  Lots of vacations for seeing and catching up with family/friends and exploring new places, reading books, afternoon naps, shopping, concerts, a musical, movies, ice-cream, a birthday, a first anniversary, an earthquake, and lots and lots of delicious eating.  It makes me sad that there are only 5 days left!
But I thought because it has been sooo long that I would share some of the things I’ve been making/eating this past month.
For LUNCH I have been enjoying my Greek Panzanella as well as this amazingly low calorie Ratatouille.  
It tastes awesome topped with a little goat cheese and a side of crusty bread.  Speaking of...this is my most recent creation in the bread maker...sun-dried tomato and mozzarella bread!  Yum!
For DINNER I have worked on re-creating a pizza that I love to get at our local cafe.  I may have perfected it:
I used pre-made whole wheat dough from Trader Joe's and topped it with their awesome Asiago cheese that has herbs packed in for some added flavor.  Bake it and then I top it with arugula, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumber, red onion and a little tiny bit of lemon vinaigrette for flavor.

Another new favorite which makes a TON of food that you can freeze for easy meals are petite won-ton cupcakes in variety of flavors.  We tried lasagna and taco fillings:
Aside from the ice-cream, custard, and gelato I've been consuming for DESSERT, I've also been eating some of these:
 A peach grilled on my panini press topped with Trader Joe's Sugar, Chocolate, and Coffee Bean Grinder to give it a nice crust and then topped with a piece of hershey's chocolate.  It's the best with big, juicy, fresh peaches!
And then I made these in small batches for most of the summer.  I made some and then froze most of the dough.  They were delicious raw or defrosted for 20 minutes and baked!  It's also fabulous to always have cookies on hand...just ask the King.  It has been one delicious summer, that is for sure!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bread Salad!

All of my traveling and lazing around the house this summer is starting to catch up with my health and my hips.  I decided to make a concentrated effort to ingest only salad at lunch these past couple weeks before I jet set off on another adventure with some truly amazing and exotic food. 

I spent an hour chopping, and shredding, and dicing the various components of a salad.  As I ate that salad throughout the week, I ate less and less.  I would do my best to eat what I could, but about halfway through it would become unbearable to eat another bite.  I hate salads.  Or…I hated salads until I tried this Greek Panzanella by Ina Garten.  Thank you Barefoot Contessa (and thanks to my mid-western friend that shared her Barefoot Contessa cookbooks with me)!  And panzanella being a “bread salad”, this salad is all about the sautéed bread…or in reality-croutons!  I should have known that was what I needed to find in a salad to be happy eating it.  Thank goodness for croutons.

What's in your favorite salad?

Monday, July 11, 2011

1 Year…

Happy First Wedding Anniversary to the King!  We survived one year of wedded bliss!  In honor of this event, the King took me away for a weekend to a bed and breakfast a couple weeks ago.  It was fabulous.  We ate way too much, went wine tasting, and got to relax together.  His gift was so awesome that when it came to figuring out a gift for the King, I had a bit of difficulty.  The guideline that this is the paper anniversary didn’t really help me out too much either.  I didn’t want to add to his already busy/stressful schedule by adding something he needed to do by giving him a gift certificate to go somewhere or do something.  In the end, I came up with many ideas (a concert, a restaurant gift certificate, a massage, a magazine subscription, [wine, beer, ice-cream, cookies, cake, chocolate, etc.] of the month club) and put them into envelopes for the King to choose.  
I told him that he could pick one, and then if he thought there was something better, he could pick a different one.  We went through three before he choose the massage.  Naturally, he wanted to know all of his choices anyway, but he stuck with the massage.

There was an easy decision in all of this.  I knew exactly what I wanted to make for dinner.  While we stayed at the B&B a couple weeks ago, we headed up to the resort that we had gotten married at for dinner in their restaurant.  The food left more than something to be desired.  I ordered a chicken dish, and the King ordered cannelloni.  When the food came, we wound up switching plates.  The tubes of canelloni had vegetables in one corner, ricotta in one corner, and chard in the other half.  The chicken was fatty and lackluster.  Not what we wanted to remember.  Our wedding dinner was so delicious!  So I thought I would recreate elements from it for our first anniversary.  Here is what I came up with...
Harbour Stuffed Chicken with Basil Pesto Cream Sauce

Ingredients for chicken:
·   2 Chicken breasts
·      ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
·      ½ cup artichoke hearts, diced
·      ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
·      ½ cup panko bread crumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper
·      2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for brushing the chicken

Ingredients for Basil Pesto Cream Sauce:
·      ¾ cups fresh basil leaves
·      1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, grated
·      3 Tablespoons pine nuts, extra for stuffing chicken
·      2 cloves of garlic, peeled
·      Salt and Pepper, to taste
·      1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup heavy cream
·      2 Tablespoons of butter

Instructions for Chicken:
1.     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.     Slice each chicken breast in half, taking care not to slice through both sides of the chicken breast.
3.     Evenly distribute diced sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese in each chicken breast.
4.     Dredge each chicken breast in seasoned panko breadcrumbs.
5.     Place the chicken breasts on a greased and lightly brush the tops with olive oil.
6.     Bake for 20 minutes.

Instructions for Basil Pesto Cream Sauce:
1.     Add basil leaves, ½ cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to a food processor or blender.
2.     Turn machine on, drizzling olive oil in as it mixes.  Blend until combined, adding additional olive oil if needed.  Set aside.
3.     Heat cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
4.     Add pesto and stir.
These little beauts were served on the side.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The King's Fave Salad

When I first met the King he was a vegetarian.  This meant that the main staples of his diet were cheese pizza and oreos.  He would occasionally eat Indian food to count vegetable samosas as a serving of vegetables.  He was also starting to come around to the concept of salads at that time, thanks to a place called Chop't where they chop everything in the salad into bite size pieces so that the king is able to elegantly eat a salad and not make a mess (something he avoids at all costs-when eating).

Upon visiting the royal family last week, my sister and I discussed the male diet and how they avoid fruits and vegetables as much as possible.  Why is that?  Maybe it's because they take too much time and effort to prepare?  Neither of us seemed to be able to answer that question.  I also discussed men's fruit-eating habits with my sister, where we came to the conclusion that the only "manly" fruits are apples, bananas, and orange juice (if that even counts as a fruit).

When it comes down to it, the King has come around to my way of eating-except on the fruit front.  But, I'll keep trying.  The following is a salad that we eat in our house at least twice a month during the summer months and the King has claimed he would eat it more often if I prepared it.      

I skip the lettuce cups, use store bought rotisserie chicken and make this into The King's Fave Salad.  

With asiago focaccia and a glass of wine, it was perfect for this humid 94 degree day.  No need to even turn on the oven!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Funfetti cake batter ice-cream

OH YES.  I DID.  Like many Americans, we celebrated the 4th with friends, food, and fireworks.  In coming up with the perfect dessert, I took into consideration the King's definition of a dessert.  I decided ice-cream would be good to cool everyone down in the sweltering heat.  Then I concluded that one of my favorite flavors of ice-cream is cake batter.  After that decision was made, I had to amp up the festive quotient.  It had to be red, white, and blue for the occasion.  Obvi. 
It went great with brownies which are also extremely American (*FUN FACT:  a cross between cake and a cookie, it became popular in the early twentieth century).
Funfetti Cake Batter Ice-Cream with Buttercream Frosting
* a combination of recipe 1 for the ice-cream and recipe 2 for the frosting

    Ingredients for the frosting:

    • 1/2 cup shortening, softened
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
    • 4 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
    • Gel Food Coloring (I clearly used red and blue)
    Ingredients for the ice-cream:

    • 1 cup whole milk, well chilled
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 2/3 cup Funfetti cake mix (too bad Wegmans ran out of the Stars and Stripes Funfetti)
    • Festive sprinkles if desired.
    Make the frosting:
    1.  Sift the powdered sugar and set it aside.
    2.  Mix the shortening in a bowl with paddle mixer attachment (or with a handheld mixer) until smooth.
    3.  Add in vanilla extract.
    4.  Slowly mix in the sifted powdered sugar until smooth.
    5.  Add in the whipping cream and mix on medium for a couple minutes.
    6.  Mix in desired food coloring.
    7.  Set frosting aside.
    Make the ice-cream:
    1.  Sift the funfetti mix into a small bowl and set aside.

    2.  In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
    3.  Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.
    4.  Whisk in the sifted funfetti mix until there are no lumps.
    5.   Pour mixture into the freezer bowl of your ice-cream maker and let it mix until thickened (15-20 minutes).  During the last minute mix in any desired festive sprinkles.

    Combining ice-cream and frosting into one delicious concoction:

    1.  Spread a layer of ice-cream in the bottom of your container. 
    2.  Place dollops of frosting on top and swirl the ice-cream and frosting together.
    3.  Repeat as many times as possible (I made it 4 times before I ran out of frosting).
    4.  Freeze for 2 hours to allow ice-cream to harden. 

    EAT IT!

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Fruit Desserts for the Royal Family

    So last week I made a trip home to spend some time with my family! (I guess this blog makes them the royal family). The king had to work, so he came up for the weekend to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. It involved a B&B, wine tasting, and a lot of delicious food. He flew home on Sunday night and left me in the care of the royal family.

    My big request for eating with the royal family for the week is that we get to enjoy many fruit desserts-something the king does not approve of. If it doesn't incorporate chocolate or ice-cream, then it is not for him.

    We went to the berry farm and picked up some fresh strawberries, so we got to indulge in these little beauties:
    Later in the week, the queen mother, myself, and my sister hit up the public market in our town. It is endless row stalls filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. We strolled past all of the stalls first to check for the best prices and the best produce. Turns out it is all very similarly priced and everything looked amazing. The queen mother picked up some lemons, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, mushrooms, oranges, basil, mint, olives, and cheese. And a Creeping Charlie plant that looks like this for my sister:
    Long story short, I had a ton of fruit to work with. So I made my family a pitcher of that awesome sangria (and I actually remembered to take some pictures of it!):

    And then I made these amazing Raspberry Crumb Bars...beautiful and delicious:

    Raspberry Crumb Bars 
    •(inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s recipe)
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • Zest and juice of one lemon
    • 3 cups fresh raspberries
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 4 additional teaspoons flour
    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

    2. Line 9x13 inch pan with foil (for easy cleanup) and grease it.

    3. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly.

    4. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan.

    5. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, the 4 teaspoons of flour and lemon juice. Gently mix in the raspberries.

    6. Sprinkle the raspberry mixture evenly over the crust.

    7. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

    8. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

    9. Enjoy!

    P.S.  I realize there is still a lot of space between some of the pictures and text, but I give up : )

    P.P.S.  I discovered the app "Instagram" on my phone this week, which is why these pictures look so awesome.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    A dip into my thoughts...

    I like rainy days.

    I fear ceiling fans.

    I lived in Kansas for 2 years.

    I am a Wegman-iac.

    My favorite number is 6.

    I have never seen Star Wars.

    I won a prom dress my senior year of high school.

    Daisies are my favorite flower.

    I met the King playing kickball.

    I have a weakness for buffalo chicken anything.

    Speaking of buffalo chicken!
    Buffalo Chicken Dip
    • 1 brick cream cheese
    • 2 pieces cooked shredded chicken
    • ½ c Frank’s red hot (or wing sauce for thickness)
    • ½ c. blue cheese dressing
    • 8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    1. Layer the above in a pan.
    2. Cook at 350° for 20 minutes and stir.
    3. Tortilla chips, red peppers, and carrots make great accompaniments!

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    I got beef.

    I got beef.  Flank steak to be exact.  And I wanted to grill it.

    I made a honey-lime marinade and I wanted to take a bath in it.  I dipped pita chips in it while the king watched, and then when his back was turned, I shamelessly used my fingers to scrape and lick the bowl.  This is probably not queen behavior so shhh don't tell...I wouldn't want to lose my crown.

    So try this marinade.  Chicken, pork, veggies, or straight out of the bowl, it is highly recommended.

    However, I do not think that I used the marinade to it's full potential.  Our grilled medium-well flank steak came out tough, and we couldn't even taste the heavenly marinade on the finished product!  I felt jipped.  And that is why I've got beef.

    I'm still rather new at grilling (2 weeks new in fact).  Did I use the wrong cut of meat?  Was I supposed to baste it on the grill?  Was medium-well too long?  Please help!  If you have any tips for better beef grilling, I'm all ears.

     Honey-Lime Marinade/Dressing
    *adapted slightly from flank steak tacos with cilantro

    • Juice of 1 lime
    • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
    • A bunch of fresh cilantro
    • 2 teaspoons of honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon of ancho-chile powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of red-pepper flakes
    • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    1. Combine lime juice, garlic, and cilantro in a small food processor and pulse until blended.
    2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend.
    3. Marinate/dress a salad/slurp it out of the bowl!

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Dinner Night

    Not long after I started dating the King, I met his "dinner night" friends.  Every week there are anywhere from 5-8 of us and we each take turns cooking.  Occasionally, we go out to eat too.  Everyone tends to go all out on their dinner night.  This means I am guaranteed one delicious meal (with side dishes and dessert!) once a week. As if this could not get any better, the company is excellent as well.  We discuss everything from the latest Bachelorette (the guys feign interest in this subject, but typically get involved anyway) to whether or not a top sheet is necessary (NECESSARY!).

    It gives me an excuse to set the table like this:

    It's more impressive when there is food on the plates and the glasses are filled.  Unfortunately, I was too busy enjoying the company to take a picture of that...

    I put on some Mongo Santamaria to set the latin-esque mood and placed a pitcher of this on the table:
    That is really a picture of some of the leftover fruit.  Again, I forgot to get a picture of the actual sangria!  So this is my leftover liquor-soaked-fruit in a glass of seltzer water.  Still yummy, even wine-less.  The original wine-filled version was light and fruity.  

    While I was busy setting a mood, the King was downstairs firing up the grill.  This meal was extremely well received and looked a little something like this (only a little though, as these are the leftovers):
    Here's a close-up:
    It's grilled mojo pork tenderloin with salsa verde on a bed of black beans and rice served with grilled veggies on the side.  Salsa verde really MADE this dish.  To end this meal right, I served the rest of my Brownie Chunk and Chocolate Chip Cookies with vanilla ice-cream.

    I really enjoyed this meal because it was delicious, AND I didn't spend the whole night in the kitchen!

    White Sangria
    • 1/3 cup of brandy
    • 1/3 cup of peach schnapps
    • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of sugar
    • 2 (750 milliliters) Rioja white wine, chilled
    • 1 lemon thinly sliced
    • 1 small navel orange, quartered and sliced up
    • 1 green apple, quartered and sliced up
    • 1 ripe mango, diced
    • 1 (12 oz.) bottle of sparkling water
    1.  Combine the sugar, brandy, and peach schnapps in a pitcher and stir to mix in the sugar.

    2.  Add both bottles of wine and the fruit and chill 2 hours until chilled.

    3.  Add the sparkling water just before serving.

    Mojo Marinade 
    (I put this on the veggies, but it would work to make a pork tenderloin mojo too)
    • Pinch of oregano
    • Pinch of red pepper flakes
    • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • Juice of 1 orange
    • Soy sauce
    • Brown sugar
    1.  Mix all ingredients together and marinate away (veggies, pork, fish, etc.!).

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    For the Love of Vegetables...

    I am not the hugest fan of vegetables.  My mom (aka The Queen Mother) can attest to this.  Like any good mom, she served balanced meals with lots of green vegetables.  My brother, sister and I had to eat what was served.  If we did not, we were not allowed to get up from the table and we were most certainly not allowed to have dessert, or even a snack. 

    Due to my disdain for anything green, this resulted in many an argument.  The worst punishment of all time was being banned from watching "Full House" unless I finished my vegetables!  It was torture.  WHAT!?  No Stephanie Tanner?!  What was I going to talk about with my friends the next day?  Certainly not the cold lump of something green on my plate.  Somehow, I survived that ordeal-the scurvy from my lack of vegetable eating, a missed episode chalk full of Tanner family values, and I still love the Queen Mother. 

    But here's the shocker...I now actually enjoy eating my vegetables...most of the time.  Especially this dish.  Please ignore that it is contains butter and cheese which are capable of making any dish taste good.  It is still me eating vegetables- a miracle.  As far as I know, it was created by the Queen Mother herself and has quickly found it's way into my heart (and is currently in my belly).  I suggest it also find it's way into your belly.

    Here is the line up (the lemons are decoration...and plastic):
    Layer all of the ingredients in an oven-proof dish:
     Top with cheese:
     Bake.  And this is what it looks like when it comes out of the oven:

    The Queen Mother's Zucchini Casserole:
    • Zucchini (I went with 3 green, 2 yellow)
    • 1/2 an onion
    • 1 tomato sliced (I used grape tomatoes because I had them)
    • 1/2 stick of butter (cut into tiny pieces)
    • Cheese (I like provolone, but really any cheese will do)
    • Salt and Pepper
    1.  Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray your oven-proof dish with non-stick spray.

    2.  Layer zucchini, tomatoes, onion, some tiny pats of butter, salt and pepper.  Top it off with some of the cheese.  Continue layering (and remember it will sink down as it cooks so the more layers the better!).

    3.  Top with extra cheese and cover the dish in foil.

    4.  Cook until the zucchini is tender.  Remove the foil and allow to cook 15 minutes longer to allow the cheese to get nice and crispy.

    5.  Enjoy!