Monday, December 13, 2010

My Favorite Caesar Salad

This is best done in the blender,  the emulsion blender can get a little messy if you're not careful.  The blade assembly on my blender is leaking and everytime I try to order it, it's out of stock.  Evidently, the blade assembly on this particular blender must is a lemon since so many sites carry it, and it's constantly out of stock.  I hate to buy a new one when the part to fix it only costs six bucks.

This is what you'll need:

Make a garlic paste made from 1 clove of smashed garlic, salt and  a drop or two of extra olive oil
2 tablespoons of anchovy paste
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Juice of one lemons
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (divided)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Romaine lettuce (chilled)

Chill your salad bowl for about an hour in the fridge. When you’re ready to make your salad, take the cold bowl and evenly smear the garlic paste evenly over the inside. Now set the bowl back into the refrigerator until you're you've finished making the salad dressing.

Add to it the next five ingredients to your blender, then pulse it until they are thoroughly combined.

With your blender running on medium-high speed, pour in the olive oil in a thin stream, giving it a chance to uniformly emulsify. Then add Worcestershire, half of the Parmesan cheese, and salt and black pepper to taste. Pulse a couple of times more to blend in the cheese.  Refrigerate the dressing in a sealed container until you’re ready to use it.

To assemble the Caesar Salad, remove the chilled salad bowl from the fridge, tear the washed and drained Romaine lettuce into bite-size pieces, and add them to the bowl. Then add to the lettuce just enough dressing to coat it (more is not better!), sprinkle on the rest of the Parmesan, give everything a final toss, and serve it up garnished with garlic croutons.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Hi, remember me?  I missed ya'll and hope your holidays have been fantastic so far! 

Thank all of you who have been emailing me and keeping up.  My job and soccer have gotten in the way of blogging.  Oh yeah, you can't tell it by this recipe, but I have lost 38 lbs and have a little ways to go to get back down to my fighting weight.  But my family has to eat, so I still cook.

I found out the homegirlz have been cheating on me; yes the truth can be ugly.  I found out that they absolutely adore Chicken Alfredo that's been catered to their soccer team by a local restaurant!  Who doesn't like all that cream and cheese? Anyone can make a really good Alfredo, but how about one that pops?  How about one that can stretch two boneless, skinless chicken breasts that can feed six healthy appetites?

Rub a generous amount of Emeril's Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and sear the chicken for 5 minutes.

Turn and sear the other side for 3-1/2 to 5 minutes.  Basically, your are blackening the chicken.  I find Emeil's Essence has a much better depth of flavor and your food doesn't taste burnt.  Plus doing it this way, you cook this inside.  Transfer the skillet from the stove top to a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven to a platter or cutting board and allow to rest.

While the chicken is searing and cooking, rough chop 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes.

This is the jar the sun-dried tomatoes came in. Do not throw this liquid gold away!!!!  We're going to put it to work.

Slice and cut the chicken into healthy bit-sized pieces.  The pieces of chicken don't have to be uniform in size, since this is a rustic dish.

Pour the leftover oil from the sun-dried tomatoes into a large pot and add in 2 tablespoons of butter.  Heat over medium -high heat. 

Add 3 tablespoons of minced garlic and sun-dried tomatoes, saute for about 5 minutes.

Add in the chicken and coat with the oil and garlic-tomato mixture.

De-glaze the pot by pouring in 1/4 cup of Marsala wine.

Pour in 3 cups of heavy cream and raise the heat to a gentle bubble.  

Reduce the sauce by about half.

Stir in 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese or I like to use a mixture of grated Parm and Asiago cheese.

Stir in 1/2 cup of sliced green onions and serve in a bowl topped with a little more grated cheese and a slice of crusty bread.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ariosto Seasongs with Pork, Potatoes and Vegetables

It was a thrill to be contacted by Saverio with Ariosto to try out and blog about their seasonings.  I received these seasonings directly from Italy. 

I'm not too sure about all of the ingredients or methods since all of the writing was in Italian.  The pictures gave me ideas and below are the the dishes I created with the seasonings.

I had a pork roast in the freezer and thought this would be perfect.

This packet had a prominent rosemary smell and I knew it would pair up nicely with pork.

I stuffed the roast with garlic cloves, rubbed the seasoning blend into the pork and baked it at 425 degrees until it reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees.  I basted the roast every 20 minutes with a combination of white wine (Pinot Grigio and Chicken broth).  The roast was wonderfully moist and full of flavor.

The roast was accompanied by roasted russet potatoes using Ariosto's Potato Seasoning Blend.  Thyme was the dominant aroma from this blend.

I used about 2 lbs of russet potatoes, peels and cubed.  The potatoes were boiled in salted water for about 10 minutes and then drained.  they were then tossed with one packet of the Ariosto potato seasoning blend and a drizzle of olive oil.  We i tell you these potatoes rocked, they REALLY rocked!  Nothing understated about these.

Next up was Ariosto's seasoning blend for vegetables.  This had a more understated aroma and I really couldn't tell what was in the blend but I couldn't wait to try it!

I used about 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms, one peeled and cubed zucchini, one peeled and cubed yellow summer squash and half of a medium red onion, diced.  The veggies were combined in a bowl, drizzled with some olive oil and one packet of the Ariosto vegetable season.  They were then grilled over medium-high heat until they began to turn golden brown.  I could have easily polished off all of these veggies!

Hopefully Ariosto will offer there seasonings in the States very soon.  So if you're contacted by Saverio or if you see Ariosto in your local market, try them out, they are very good seasoning blends.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Peppery Chicken Farfalle

Did you know that farfalle is my favorite pasta?  I don't know why, I mean all the shapes taste the same, but it's my favorite.  The homegirlz of course think there is a difference and they prefer penne.  sometimes a mom has got to do what a mom's got to do and for me it means cooking farfalle every now and then.

This meal just kind of came together, and came together very quickly.  Don't let the word "peppery" square you off.  This dish is not spicy, just infused with very deep flavor.  So if you're ever rummaging through your fridge and your pantry, give this a try!

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, stir in some salt and cook 1 pound of your favorite pasta. Reserve one cup of your pasta water!  Drain the pasta.

Cut up one package (about 1 lb.) of chicken tenders and one package of boneless, skinnless chicken thighs into bite size chunks.  You can also use one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat.
Toss the the chicken into the skillet in batches and brown up.  Remove to a platter and reserve.  Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and add in one onion chopped, 2 roasted red peppers, 4 peppercino peppers de-seeded and 2  cubenelle peppers de-seeded and chopped.  (Since it's summer just add in whatever mild peppers you may have on hand except more bell pepper.).  Add 2 tablespoons minced garlic, saute 1 minute then add in one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes.

Bring the sauce to a light bubble then add in  the starchy pasta water 1/2 cup at time time.  You may only need 1/2 cup, check the thickness of the sauce and add more starchy water if needed.  Lower the heat to simmer and add in 1/2 cup of heavy cream...just enough to "blush up" the sauce.  Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the drained pasta back to the pot is was cook in and pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to combine.

Top with freshly chopped basil and pass the cheese!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chili Boccoli

Almost two years ago, I posted a recipe for Roasted Broccoli that was a huge hit with my family and my readers.  A.J. and I tried a variation just to change it up a bit.

I'm a bit apprehensive about using a lot o chili powder in a dish, but the combination of spice blends turned out really good, and I recommend giving this a try.

Wash and cut one head of broccoli into florets.  You want short stems for this.

Chop up 6 cloves of garlic.

In a bowl big enough to hold your broccoli, plus a little tossing room, add 1 tablespoon of McCormick's Montreal Grill Seasoning.

Then add 1 tablespoon of chili powder and the chopped garlic.  Combine the seasonings and garlic, 

Add in the washed broccoli and drizzle with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of olive oil.  Toss with your hands to evenly coat the florets with the olive oil and the seasonings.  Evenly place on a prepared foil lined baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Roasting the broccoli gave it a nutty flavor and combined with the grill seasoning and chili powder; it really rocked!  Even the broccoli nay-sayers will devour these!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Spaghetti & Meatballs

When I was in high school, during the summer between my junior and senior year, I had a part time job at a pizza joint near our home.  The owner's wife worked with us and told us her father was the retired Maitre D at Moran's Restaurant in the French Quarter.  Moran's, in it's day had been one of New Orleans premier upscale Italian Restaurants. 

He had taught her their recipe for spaghetti and meatballs and we used that recipe for our "Wednesday Special", you guessed it spaghetti and meatballs.  We used to sell out every Wednesday.

Truth be told, I made this for A.J. when we had been dating for a while and the rest is history.  It is just that powerful.  I think this was the first time I've made spaghetti and meatballs from scratch since we moved to Tennessee. 
So I'm going to share with you!

These meatballs are a combination of 1lb. lean ground beef and 1lb. of Italian sausage, eight slices if bread cubed and soaked in milk, 1 egg, 1/2 cup minced onion, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, salt and black pepper to taste.  Loosely roll into meatballs and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel lined platter.  This way all that grease goes in the garbage instead of your sauce.

Over medium high heat, saute 1 onion chopped and 1/2 chopped green bell pepper in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.  You want a 2 to 1 ratio of onion to bell pepper.

Once the onion begins to soften, add in 2 tablespoons minced garlic and two tablespoons sliced basil.

Saute the veggies for about 2 minutes.

Add in two 5 ounce cans of tomato paste and hang on to the cans for a few minutes.    Stir and cook down for about 30 minutes.  Depending on the type of pot you're using, you want to make sure the tomato paste doesn't stick and burn.


Once the tomato paste has cooked down, add fill each can twice with water and slowly stir the water into the sauce and thoroughly combine.

Add two bay leafs and 2 teaspoons of oregano.

Sink the meat balls into the the sauce.


Add in 1 teaspoon of sugar and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer for 2 hours.  Stir occasionally.

Serve over cooked spaghetti topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Add in some garlic bread and a nice green salad and you will be amazed at the results.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Favorite Biscuits

I'm not known for making pretty biscuits, but that has changed since I stumbled on to this recipe that I had written down on a piece of paper some time back.  I'm pretty sure it's from "Down Home with the Neely's".  I have now sworn off those canned biscuits!

Many of you don't like to bake with yeast, this biscuit recipe has you covered, no yeast.  Just three simple ingredients and you have some luscious biscuits for breakfast or as a side to soup for a light lunch or a hearty accompaniment to your fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

My Favorite Biscuits -

2 cups self rising flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ cups heavy whipping cream

Mix all 3 ingredients together until dough forms a ball. Using your stand mixer with the dough hook, makes this a snap.  Turn out onto floured surface and knead for about 1 minute. Roll dough out to ½ inch thickness and cut biscuits with a biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on a Siplat or greased baking sheet and bake at 450F for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Hint:  I don't buy self-rising flour but found this handy substitution!  For each cup of self-rising flour, use one cup of all-purpose flour and add 1-1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

They actually look like real biscuits and not blobs of dough.


They are just crying for butter!


This one was calling out to me.

How can you say no?