Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

A few months ago my husband made his second trip to Finland for business.
While he was there this last time his colleague made him a home cooked
meal which included Jerusalem Artichoke Soup. Jim said the soup was
excellent and had Mika write down the recipe for us so we could make it
when he got home.

We looked for Jerusalem Artichokes at the market the last two times
we went but we had no luck finding them. Then this past week, while on
vacation, our friends James and Marsha sent us a text message saying
that their Aunt had some Jerusalem Artichokes and they were bringing
them home to us - yipee!

Jim made the soup last night and it was very good!
Here is his colleague's recipe.

Mika's Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Herb Oil

1kg Jerusalem Artichoke
1/2-1 cup white wine
1/2-1 cup heavy cream
some cooking liquid from artichokes

Clean artichokes and cook in salt water (a lot of liquid) until soft

Take 1 cup of cooking liquid and set aside.

Drain artichokes

Peel the skin off of the artichokes.

Mash coarsely by hand (you can use a potato masher)

Add first 1/2 cup white wine and 1/2 cup cooking liquid

Add salt if needed

Mix and cook couple of minutes in low heat

Add 1/2 cup heavy cream

Mix, If too thick add another 1/2 cup of the cream, cooking liquid, and white wine
but only if needed.

Keep warm

Herb oil sauce:
Olive oil so much that you are able to make thick, runny sauce
Fresh coriander leaves (handful)
Fresh basil leaves (handful)
Fresh parsley (handful)
Salt (just a pinch)
Ground Black pepper (just a pinch)

Use kitchen blender to make the sauce

Add soup to bowls, drizzle 1/2-1 table spoon of herb oil sauce on top of the soup

Save rest of the herb oil and use it for garlic bread.

Thanks to Mika, Marsha and Jim here is the Jerusalem Artichoke Soup.


Caramelized Chipotle Chicken

I have really enjoyed cooking with Chipotle Chiles lately.
They add such a nice,smoky flavor with heat that goes well
with so many dishes. Here is the latest recipe I made with
Chipotle Chiles.

This recipe for Caramelized Chipotle Chicken
is from Epicurious.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo (from a 7-ounce can)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 whole chickens (about 3 1/2 pounds each), each cut into 8 pieces
print a shopping list for this recipe

PreparationHeat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook garlic, stirring constantly, until golden, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 15 minutes.

Add garlic and remaining ingredients, except chicken, to skillet with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

Coat chicken with half of sauce, then roast, skin side up, in a 17-by 11-inch heavy 4sided sheet pan 25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with remaining sauce, then continue roasting until chicken is cooked through and well browned in spots, 20 to 25minutes more.

** I cooked my chiken in one of those oven bags to lock in the flavors.
The chicken turned out great! It was very tender with yummy flavors. As you can tell we really enjoyed the sauce.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chocolate Cheesecake

I was watching the TV one evening and caught the
Chocolate Heaven episode by Nigella Lawson.
I sat impressed as I watched her create this amazing
Chocolate Cheesecake. She made it look so easy that I
immediately bookmarked the recipe on my iPhone with
the hope that I would be able follow her directions
and make this marvelous cheesecake.

For the recipe click on this link:

I made this Chocolate Cheesecake recipe ( several weeks ago) and was happy to find that it was fairly easy to make. It is really three steps: the graham cracker crust, the chocolate cheesecake filling and the chocolate sauce topping.

This is a great recipe especially if you are a chocolate cheesecake fan!
It turned out great!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

My husband's family came down from Chicago to
spend a few days with us. It was nice to be
surrounded by family for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Of course we made turkey but here are some of the other dishes we served for
Thanksgiving Dinner.

Sweet Potato Casserole with a
cranberry, pecan, brown sugar
crumble on top.

Apple, Cranberry and Fennel Dressing
This is a picture of the good stuff in the Dressing - sorry I forgot to take a picture of the end product.

Cranberry, Pear Chutney

I made a green bean side dish that had shallots, bacon, almonds and balsamic vinegar.

And for dessert we had Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie and a Chocolate Tart.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

The count down begins ~ only 12 days until Thanksgiving!
The "Arduinos" are coming down from Chicago
and I am excited to host Thanksgiving this year.

I am going to do my best to get ahead so that I don't
feel rushed when everyone arrives.

Todays project: Turkey Gravy

I started by browning two large turkey wings in a
Dutch oven with a little oil, salt and pepper.
Then I removed the turkey wings and set them aside.
I quartered 2 medium onions, a few carrots, a few
parsnips and celery. I put them in the Dutch oven
with a little butter and cooked them for about
7 minutes. Then I added a cup of white wine
and stirred all the vegetables and wine together.
Next, I added 4 cups of chicken broth, two sprigs
of fresh rosemary, some fresh sage leaves and
three cloves of garlic. I put the turkey wings
back into the mixture and allowed all the
ingredients to cook on low heat for about 45 minutes.
Pour the ingredients through a strainer keeping only
the liquid. I plan to freeze the gravy so that all
I have to do on Thanksgiving Day is add a little
butter, flour, salt and pepper.

Yeah, the gravy is made. Now I need to decide what I can make next.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mushroom Lasagna

We took out the pasta machine yesterday ~
It has been a while but we were up for
the challenge of making lasagna noodles.

Just a few weeks ago we were in NY for my
brother's wedding! The reception was at
this excellent restaurant called the
Gramercy Park Tavern. One of the appetizers
they served was this very delicate mushroom
lasagna. It was outstanding and I would love
to taste it again but I don't know when I will
be back NY.

So, I figured if I can't go there and get it
I would try to make my own version of mushroom
lasagna. That is why the pasta machine was put
to use this weekend ~ we had to start with
homemade noodles.

For the filling, I chopped up baby portobello
and shitake mushrooms. I sauted the mushrooms
with some shallots. Then I added white wine
and cooked the mixture for another 5 minutes
until the liquid was absorbed. In a bowl,
I poured this mixture and then added chopped
parsley, grated parmesan cheese
and the white part of one egg.
After everything was combined it was pretty easy
to start layering my lasagna.

Instead of adding pasta sauce in between the layers I added a half
white wine and half chicken broth mixture.

Here is the end result:

The lasagna was excellent, however, it was not the same flavors as
the lasagna we had at the Gramercy Park Tavern. I will have
to do a little research and see if I can find out what type
of mushrooms they use and some of their key ingredients.

Brioche French Toast with Raspberry Puree

We stopped by this little market yesterday to pick up a
few things and I noticed that they were selling
packages of Raspberries for $1.49. What a great deal!
I picked up some for our Sunday morning breakfast.
My husband made Brioche French Toast with Raspberry Puree.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks

October has been flying by so quickly.
We have been on the go for the past couple of weeks
and I am hoping that things will slow down soon.
I hate that there has not been enough time to blog
but you will have to trust me when I say that I am
still doing my best to try out new recipes regularly.

I just made Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks using the
recipe from Pioneer Women's Blog.
I love reading her blog because she makes fabulous meals
and her posts are so much fun to read.

This is an excellent dish.
Creamy pasta with little bites of goodness throughout.
Take a look :


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Indian Food

I mentioned our trip to San Francisco and some of the things
we did in my last post but this time I want to tell you about our best meal.
On our trip back to San Francisco from Yosemite we drove through
Berkley. We spent a few minutes walking around the area checking
out the cool shops and all the restaurants.

We stopped for lunch at this restaurant:

The food was absolutely amazing!! I ordered green vegetable curry with puff bread. I can not remember what Jim ordered but his was very cool looking and was excellent.

I wish I lived closer to this restaurant. I would eat there every week!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

San Francisco

We spent a few days in San Francisco recently.
It is an amazing city that has beautiful scenery,
fantastic food and very diverse people.

We stayed in Mill Valley, outside the city, and this was the view from our room.

While in San Francisco we visited Stow Lake, Pier 39, The Golden Gate Bridge, China Town, The Ferry Building, Nob Hill, Muir Woods and Berkley.

Here are a few photos from the food market inside the Ferry Building.

A wide variety of mushrooms are sold at the market.

Check out all this cheese:

We went on a walking tour of China Town. One of the stops on the tour was this fabulous tea shop.

The Golden Gate Bridge:

The Seals at Pier 39

Stow Lake

Driving through the city:

Muir Woods:

As you can tell from our photos we were able to get around and see so many things in four days. Then we took off for Yosemite National Park to do some hiking and bird watching.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saucy Coconut-Chicken Stir Fry

My copy of Eating Well, my favorite cooking magazine,
came in the mail the other day. I love it because
it has great recipes as well as some very informative
articles. One feature I really like is that they
list the nutrition information after each recipe
so you know exactly how many calories, sugars,
proteins and vitamins you are consuming in the meal.
After paging through the magazine I was very happy
to find several recipes that I am going to
make in the next couple of weeks.

Saucy Coconut-Chicken Stir-Fry
by Eating Well
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
1 jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
1 bunch scallions, sliced, whites and greens, separated
2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3/4 cup “lite” coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce (see Note)
4 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 cups sliced napa cabbage
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
* I added just a pinch of red pepper flakes

1.Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a wok or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring often, until cooked through and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
2.Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the wok or pot. Add jalapeño (if using), scallion whites, mushrooms and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the mushrooms start to soften, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cabbage, the chicken and scallion greens; cook, stirring constantly, until the cabbage is slightly wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in basil just before serving.

This is a healthy, delicious meal.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Apple French Toast

It is so nice to wake up to a prepared breakfast.
Thanks Jim!
He made Apple French Toast, bacon and peach smoothies.

This Apple French Toast, which is a family recipe,
is made with a sugar glaze and apples on the bottom.
Then the french toast is dipped in a vanilla extract
and egg mixture and placed on top of the apples.
Then a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg on top before
baking. As you can see once it is baked it turns
out crispy on top and all the sweet goodness is underneath.
*It is served with a special sauce made of apple jelly,
apple sauce and cinnamon. Sadly, we did not have those
things available so we topped ours with syrup.

A great start to the day - Apple French Toast.

Chicken with Cucumber Melon Salsa

The days are so busy righ now that I find comfort in
coming home and cooking dinner in a quiet kitchen.
Ahh - a little peace. I am even more pleased
when the meal turns out to be something special
~ so here is another great summer recipe.
The combination of flavors is unique and goes together so well.

Grilled Chicken with Cucumber Melon Salsa
1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed honeydew melon
1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed cantaloupe
1/2 cup diced peeled English cucumber
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon light agave nectar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray
1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

2. Combine first 10 ingredients; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, tossing well to combine.

3. Sprinkle chicken evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Coat chicken with cooking spray. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with salsa.

A little piece of chicken and some salsa - MMM, that is good.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spiked Berry Half and Half

This is a great summer time tea recipe.
It has wonderful fruit flavors combined
with Earl Grey Tea and a splash of vodka.

Spiked Bery Half and Half
Original recipe from Everyday Food
This is my version with a few changes.

In a small container combine 2-3 Earl Grey Tea bag,
2 cup warm water,1 cup of sliced strawberries and peaches
and 1 cup vodka. Let steep for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small pitcher, stir together
1/4 cup of superfine sugar and 1 cup fresh
lemon juice (until the sugar dissolves).

Discard the bag,add the two mixtures together.
Chill and serve with ice.

Ahhhh ~ Refreshing!

Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pitas

My bi-weekly menu included several new dishes that I was excited about making.
This recipe from Cooking Light for Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pitas was very
good. It was fairly easy to make which is one of my requirements for a week
night dinner. The chicken salad is light but has great flavors.
This recipe could easily be made for lunch or dinner.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pitas
from Cooking Light

1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (such as Fage Total Classic)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1/2 cup chopped pitted green olives (about 20 small)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
6 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas, cut in half
12 Bibb lettuce leaves
6 (1/8-inch-thick) slices tomato, cut in half
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
Combine chicken and next 5 ingredients (through chickpeas)
in a large bowl. Add yogurt mixture to chicken mixture;
toss gently to coat. Line each pita half with 1 lettuce leaf
and 1 tomato piece; add 1/2 cup chicken mixture to each pita half.

I served hummus and chips with our Chicken Salad Pitas ~ YUM!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cooking Trout

What a nice dinner!

This trout was caught and cooked by my husband.

The trout was coated in blue cornmeal and pan fried in butter and lemon.
He also made a nice arugula salad with parmesan slices and tomato.

You gotta love a guy who catches and cooks dinner!

Purple Basil Lemonade

My husband bought some purple basil at the market this past weekend. He said the lady who was selling the basil told he that he should use the purple basil to make lemonade - hmmm -interesting.

I looked up a few recipes online and found that Purple Basil Lemonade is quite popular.

Here is a great recipe :
Purple Basil Lemonade

4 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup loosely packed purple basil leaves
6 tablespoons sugar
4 cups ice
4 purple basil sprigs

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Then turn off the heat. Place several springs of basil into the water and let sit for about an hour. Then strain this mixture saving the 4 cups of basil water. Combine the basil water and juice in a large bowl. Place 1/2 cup basil and sugar in a mortar; pound with pestle until a paste forms. Add sugar mixture to juice mixture; stir until sugar dissolves. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl or pitcher. Serve with ice and garnish with a sprig of basil.

Purple Basil Sugar:

Everything you need:

A glass of Purple Basil Lemonade:

This is a very refreshing drink!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Strawberry Popsicles

Fruit of your choice + yogurt + sugar + lemon juice =
yummy popsicles
And trust me popsicles aren't just for kids.
Everyone in your house is going to love these
creamy, sweet, strawberry popsicles.

Strawberry-Yogurt Popsicles

1 pint strawberries cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup yogurt - your choice of type ( plain, greek or even strawberry)

Place the strawberries, water, and sugar into a medium sauce pan. Simmer for five minutes, or until strawberries are very soft. Let this mixture cool for a few minutes. Then pour the cooled strawberry mixture into a blender and add the lemon juice Pulse a few times until fruit is almost pureed. Add the yogurt to the mixture and pulse a few more times until the mixture is combined.
Pour into molds and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Bananas and Chocolate ~ such a great combination.
I don't really like to bake with bananas unless
I can add chocolate to the recipe.
There is a friendship created when you bake
bananas with chocolate and eating the
combination is delightful.

Banana Cake with
Cream Cheese Frosting

You will need:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 to 1 cup of chocolate chips

Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour and baking soda in a bowl alone and mix. Then gradually add them to the creamed mixture. Blend in the bananas. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips. Spread the batter into a greased 9 by 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool.

Making the Frosting:

1 package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Let the cream cheese and butter soften. Then blend the cream cheese and butter together first. Then add the vanilla. Add the sugar a little at a time. Taste
the frosting to determine if you want to use all three cups. It just depends on
how sweet you want the frosting to be.

Here is what the cake looked like after taking it out of the oven:

Yum ~ a piece of cake with frosting:

This is a wonderful banana cake. The icing makes adds quite a bit of sweetness to the cake. The cake is moist and has a nice balance of chocolate and banana flavor.

Beautiful View

This was the view right outside our window the other night.
I was only able to capture a small portion of the beauty
but I hope you enjoy the photos.

a few minutes later


Chipotle Chicken Salad

With the weather still reaching high 90's each day it has been hard to come home and want to cook a big, warm meal for dinner. If this terribly, hot weather continues I may start serving ice cream for dinner. This week I just tried my best to cook light dinners avoiding the oven as much as possible.

This recipe I found in Cooking Light is wonderful. It has a great mixture of flavors and the dressing adds a little spciy kick to the dish.

Chipolte Chicken SaladIngredients
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup diced peeled avocado
1/3 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8 3/4-ounce) can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained

To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients, stirring well.

To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Here is what it looked like when I first served it - ahh so nice.

I took a second picture of the salad after I mixed it all up so you could get a glimpse of the creamy dressing and all the "good stuff" that was in this salad.

This is a great meal for this hot, summer nights.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baking Cookies, Mini Cakes and more

There has been alot of baking but there just isn't enough time to blog
so I am just going to show you the evidence.

Chocolate, Chocolate Cookies

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Mini Cheesecakes with Caramel or Chocolate Ganache

I know what you are thinking ~ and YES~ I ate them all myself. :)