Sunday, January 31, 2010

Smoothie Explosion

We had a little smoothie explosion in the kitchen this morning.

But don't worry everything turned out just fine. We had four chefs in the kitchen this morning and each was assigned to a particular task.
We were able to cook up:
Banana & Oat Pancakes, Maple & Brown Sugar Bacon, Fruit Smoothies and Diced Potatoes with spices.
We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with friends while listening to Andy Stanley online this morning.
Same time next week for anyone who is in the area. :)

Pasta with Beans and Escarole

There are just some flavors that were meant to go together and this
recipe has them : white beans, escarole and pancetta ~yum.
This dish is well balanced and light b/c the base of the sauce is
chicken broth.

Pasta with Beans and Escarole
by Williams Sonoma

1/2 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 oz. pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 head escarole, cored and trimmed, leaves cut into strips
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 can (14 oz.) white beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbs. minced fresh marjoram
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
3/4 lb. small tubular pasta, such as ditali
Make the sauce
In a large fry pan over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-low, add the pancetta and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the escarole and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, beans, marjoram and red pepper flakes and season with salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.

Cook the pasta
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the pasta is al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Warm briefly over low heat to blend the flavors. Add as much of the cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce and serve immediately.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Marinated Artichoke Heart, Ham, and Provolone Panini

There is nothing like a toasty, hot sandwich on a cold, rainy day.
Besides what could be better than Ham, Salami and Provolone Cheese
on a few slices of fresh Italian bread. This panini makes you feel
like you are having lunch in a wonderful New York deli.

Marinated Artichoke Heart, Ham, and Provolone Panini
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 slices ciabatta bread, or other rustic Italian white bread, thinly sliced
6 ounces thinly sliced provolone
1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
2 ounces thinly sliced genoa salami

Whisk 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to blend. Arrange the slices of bread on a flat work surface and, using a brush, divide the vinaigrette equally among 1 side of each slice. Divide the provolone equally among the bread slices. Top 6 of the slices of bread equally with the sliced artichoke hearts and sliced genoa salami and then place the remaining 6 slices on top. Brush the outsides of each sandwich with some of the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Heat a grill, large skillet or grill pan over medium heat.

Add the sandwiches and cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, pressing occasionally to compact with a large spatula or the bottom of a heavy small saucepan, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Escape from the usual and give this panini a try ~ you'll love it!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie with Mashed Potatoes

I don't remember loving Chicken Pot Pie as a kid. It always seemed too soupy and I am certain that I did not appreciate the vegetables that were in it nor did I care for the so called flaky crust. Knowing that it has been a long time and that my tastes have changed I decided to give Chicken Pot Pie another try.

I select the recipe listed below for a few reasons. The first being that it did not call for a "can" of anything (yeah). The second reason is the one I mentioned before of not finding the crust as flaky as people claim. So here is the recipe that allowed me to give the pot pie another chance.

Chicken Pot Pie with Mashed Potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 onions, diced
2 leeks, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, recipe follows
1 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
5 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Special equipment: food mill, 6 (1 1/2 cup) ceramic ramekins
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium skillet melt the butter over medium high heat, saute the potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, and garlic until golden. Add the white wine and simmer for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Mix the flour and milk until smooth and add to the vegetables, and cook until thickened. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat the oil over high heat and sear the chicken until golden. Cut seared chicken into 1/2 inch chunks and add it, the thyme, and parsley to the vegetables and set side.

For the topping: Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water, season with salt.

Over high heat bring to a boil and simmer until tender. Drain the potatoes and let them sit for 5 minutes to steam dry. Put the potatoes through a food mill. Warm the cream and stir into the potatoes. Mix in the butter. Season, to taste.

To assemble the pot pies fill 6 ramekins with 1 cup of filling each and top with the mashed potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes.

Very Good! Much better than what I remembered. I loved the carrots, leeks and corn (corn I just added b/c I thought it would be good). I also enjoyed the thyme flavor. I would make this again for sure.

Brioche French Toast with Strawberries

Brioche French Toast anyone?

It is a special treat to wake up on Sunday morning to a wonderful breakfast cooked by my husband!! I think he got a little carried away this morning when making breakfast. It was very good but we had quite a bit left over.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pasta with Carmelized Squash and Sage

I have made this recipe before and really enjoyed it!
If you have checke out the Williams - Sonoma recipe
section of their website lately ~ you really should!
There are excellent recipes on their website.

Kerchief Pasta with Caramelized Squash
from Williams-Sonoma
Makes 4-6 servings

9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 butternut squash, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons finely diced shallots
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 pound fresh pasta sheets, cut into 2-inch squares
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 Tbs. of the butter. Add the squash in a single layer and cook, without stirring, until browned underneath, about 6 minutes. Stir the squash and cook until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes more. Add the sugar, broth, salt and pepper, cover and cook until the squash is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the squash is dark brown and glazed, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer the squash mixture to a bowl.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 6 Tbs. butter until light brown spots appear, about 2 minutes. Add the shallots, nutmeg and sage and cook, stirring constantly, until the shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the squash.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and the reserved cooking water to the squash mixture and toss to combine.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cauliflower and Leek Soup

I am sure you have all heard by now but it has been FREEZING in Atlanta lately ~ and by freezing in Atlanta I mean temperatures in the teens and even a little bit of snow and ice!! We really can't take this much longer!

The best thing for dinner in this type of weather is soup!

Cauliflower and Leek Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large head cauliflower, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup of vegetable broth
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 slices of bacon

Wash and cut the cauliflower,leeks. Peel and cut garlic. Toss cauliflower, leeks and garlic in olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400degrees for 20 - 10 minutes or until veggies are tender.

Let cool. Then add cauliflower, leeks and garlic to a food processor with the broth and cream.

Pulse until it the texture you like. I left my soup with a little bit of texture. Place the soup into a pan and heat thoroughly. Cook 3 slices of bacon. Then pour soup into bowls and top with chopped bacon.

Yum, you are going to enjoy this soup!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake

I am a sucker for roasted cherry tomatoes ~ they are just sooooo good!
This is a recipe I would highly recommend.
The tomatoes give off an explosive, sweet favor that compliments
the spicy Italian sausage perfectly.

Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake
by Jamie Oliver
4 1/4 pounds lovely ripe cherry tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them
2 sprigs each fresh thyme, rosemary and bay
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
12 good-quality coarse Italian pork sausages
Extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Get yourself an appropriately sized roasting pan, large enough to take the tomatoes in 1 snug-fitting layer. Put in all your tomatoes, the herb sprigs, oregano, garlic and sausages. Drizzle well with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss together, then make sure the sausages are on top and pop the pan into the oven for half an hour. After this time, give it a shake and turn the sausages over. Put back into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how golden and sticky you like your sausages.

Once cooked, you'll have an intense, tomatoey sauce. If it's a little too thin, lift out the sausages and place the pan on the stove to cook it down to the consistency you like - I tend to make mine quite thick - then put the sausages back in. Check the seasoning and serve either with a good-quality loaf of bread warmed through in a low oven for 10 minutes (great for mopping up the sauce!) or with mashed potato, rice or polenta, a green salad and a nice glass of wine.

*MMMM, so good! Serve with a nice loaf of Italian bread and you have a wonderful meal.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chicken, Goat Cheese and Pine Nut Ravioli

Ravioli Making - Round 2

It has been a while since we've pulled out the pasta maker and made a batch of ravioli. We had a free Saturday last weekend and so we gave it a second chance.

This time we made: Chicken, Goat Cheese and Pine Nut Ravioli
Here is the photo story of our homemade ravioli.

First we start with the dough. After it sits for a about 20 minutes we make the long, flat noodles that will eventually go through the ravioli attachment.

Then we make the filling. We take two of the long, flat noodles and put them into the two sides of the ravioli make . We put the filling in the top and it makes sheets of ravioli. I cut them with fancy edge scissors and this is what they look like.

Then the ravioli go into boiling water for a few minutes to cook.

Mangia bene!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pear Tart with Chocolate

Here is the story behind this recipe:

Went to see a friend and before leaving her house she hands my husband
three pears and says see what you can make with these. After all, my
husband does make an amazing apple pie.

Later that evening we opened presents. One of my gifts
was a tart pan (yeah).

Are you thinking what I thought?
The next day I went in search of a pear tart. There are so many recipes
out there for pear tarts I really did not have any idea where to start.

A conversation with Marsha helped me narrow my search for a pear tart
because she mentioned chocolate. Ahhh, yes pear and chocolate - yum.


• 1 partially baked 9-inch almond tart shell, cooled (recipe follows)
• 2 large eggs
• 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
• 1 cup half & half
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 tablespoons blanched almonds
• 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated
• 3 organic Bartlet pears, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise and cored with a melon-baller or small spoon
• Toasted, sliced almonds for sprinkling, if desired

Preheat oven to 325˚F.
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the half & half and the vanilla. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, finely grind the almonds with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Spoon the ground almond mixture evenly over the top of the partially baked tart shell; sprinkle the grated bittersweet chocolate over the almonds.
3. Take a pear half and using a sharp knife, make thin slices across the width of the pear, keeping the shape of the pear intact. (See photo above). Once the pear is entirely sliced, gently press on the pear to slightly spread the slices apart. Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the pear half to the tart shell and lay atop the almond and chocolate mixture with the stem end of the pear pointing to the center of the tart. Repeat with the other pear halves, placing the sliced pears to create a spoke pattern.
4. Place the tart pan onto a baking sheet and then, very slowly, begin pouring the reserved egg mixture onto the pears. Pour in just enough so it is easily transported to the middle rack of the oven. Once inside the oven you can add a little more of the egg custard. After about 5 minutes of baking, I will very carefully add as much of the remaining custard as I can to the tart shell.
5. Bake the tart for approximately 45-50 minutes. If, within the last 5 minutes of baking, the custard still has no color to it, increase the oven temperature to 350˚ and watch closely at this point. Remove to a cooling rack when custard just begins to turn golden.
6. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds if desired.


• 2 tablespoons blanched or sliced almonds
• 1 cup unbleached flour
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 5 1/3 tablespoons COLD unsalted butter, cubed
• 3 tablespoons ice water

1. Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the flour and salt and pulse to combine.
2. Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture and pulse briefly, just until small pieces of the butter remain.
3. Slowly add the ice water while pulsing, until the dough just begins to come together. Do not over process.
4. Empty the tart dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, flatten and wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
5. Remove from refrigerator and roll dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan; trim edge. Place lined tart pan in freezer while preheating oven.
6. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line the tart shell with foil and beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and continue to bake until pastry just begins to turn golden. Remove and let cool.

**True confessions - Although I think this recipe is GREAT!!! My tart did not turn out as wonderful as I had hoped (for a few reasons). First, the custard somehow got behind the crust causing my tart pan to leak a little - so I had to refill the tart pan a few times. Second, I went into the recipe knowing I wasn't using Barlett pears but wanted to give it a try anyway - not the best choice. The pears I used did not really add much flavor to the tart, just a little texture.

On a happier note ~I do think the tart is very pretty and I would definitely give it another try.

Chicken Sausage, White Bean and Sage Casserole

We spent New Year's Eve with our friends.
It is such a blessing to have great friends
that we have known for many years.
They have become part of our family.
I look forward to seeing what the
New Year will bring for each of them.

Chicken Sausage, White Bean and Sage Casserole
from Everyday Food
1/2 baguette (about 4 ounces), torn into pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves (about 25)
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound fresh chicken sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
3 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse bread until very coarse crumbs form (you should have about 3 cups). Add 2 tablespoons oil; pulse briefly to moisten. Season with salt and pepper; set breadcrumbs aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add sage; cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sage to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside (reserve pan with oil).
Add onion and garlic to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add sausage and wine; cook, breaking sausage up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in beans; cook until beans are tender and creamy, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer sausage-and-bean mixture to a shallow 4-quart baking dish;
scatter breadcrumbs over top. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until topping is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve casserole topped with fried sage leaves.

I have made this dish a few times and each time I remember how much I like it. It is a hearty meal with wonderful flavors. The only thing I change about the recipe above is that I like to add a little grated parmesan cheese to the top with the breadcrumbs.