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.