Thursday, April 29, 2010

Super Easy Vinaigrette

This is a really easy and elegant vinaigrette. I made it the other night to dress some mixed greens to accompany fried tilapia my husband made. There is just something about a nice, simple sample with fried food that is so right.

juice of half a lemon
tsp of dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and dijon mustard. Then slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little dressing to mixed greens or a prepared salad and toss well. Be careful not to overdress the salad or it gets soggy.

This is a great go-to salad dressing that takes just a couple of minutes to make.

Ham and Spinach Hash

It is no secret that I love breakfast for dinner. Here is a dish that is great for breakfast or dinner. Yay, brinner!

1 large ham steak, cut into small cubes
olive oil
half a red onion, chopped small
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes (or 6-8 small ones), cubed
1 sack of baby spinach
4 eggs
salt and pepper

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ham. Brown for a few minutes while stirring often. Once the ham is a little brown, remove to a plate.

Return the skillet to the heat and increase the heat just a little bit. Add a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter. Once melted together, add the potatoes. (Add more oil if needed.) Season with salt and pepper. Toss every so often, so the potatoes brown on all sides. After about 5-10 minutes, add the chopped onion. Continue to cook until the potatoes are brown and tender, about 15 minutes. When the potatoes are done, return the ham to the pan to reheat and add the spinach in batches and toss until wilted down.

While the spinach is wilting, heat a griddle or skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add a tablespoon of butter. Crack the eggs onto the skillet and fry until done to your likeness. I like mine a little runny, or over easy, so once the egg whites are actually white, I flip the eggs and immediately turn off the heat and after a minute I remove the griddle to my plate.

One the eggs are done, scoop some hash onto a pan and top with a fried egg. Serve with a piece of multigrain toast.

Cutest dog in the world

How could you not love this face? Even if she is a money pit, I love her because she is MY little money pit.

More Summer Shoes

I landed a sweet article in the NY Times on Sunday, so I decided to reward myself with a new pair of summer lovelies. I mean, who doesn't love a freakin' purple peep-toed wedge? Honestly.

Cinco de Mayo

Here is what I am planning to make for Cinco de Mayo: slow cooker pork tacos. Looks yummy and I bet they go very well with a Corona or margarita.

Click here for the recipe.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chicken Francese

This recipe sounds fancy - it is French after all - but it is actually very easy to make.

1 and 1/2 lbs chicken cutlets
salt and pepper
all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice of 1 lemon (optional)
1/2 cup dry white wine (chicken broth can be substituted)
handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add two of the tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Once hot, add the garlic and allow to sizzle in the pan for a minute. Meanwhile, dredge the chicken in the flour and coat in the egg, then add to the hot pan. Cook the chicken on both sides until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to the pan and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Add the lemon juice and wine to the pan and deglaze by scraping up the brown bits with a whisk. Reduce the wine for 1 minute and then add the remaining tablespoon of butter and parsley to the pan. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

Serve with wilted spinach and either crusty bread, wild rice or cous cous to soak up the sauce. You could also add capers to the sauce to make it a cross between Francese and piccata. To wilt spinach, simply add a little more oil to the skillet after pouring out the sauce. Add some spinach and turn constantly until it starts to wilt. Season with salt and pepper and even a little nutmeg if you'd like. It cuts the bitterness of the greens. Spinach, like other greens, really coods down to almost nothing, so you need a lot.

New Summer Sandals

This is a picture of my feet while crossing the bridge on my drive home from work. Don't worry I wasn't driving. My hubby and I partake in Earth Day everyday by carpooling to work together. Anyway, I wanted to show off my cute new Summer sandals. They were a great find at TJ Maxx. Only $12.99 and I was on the lookout for strappy black sandals anyway. Score!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Flat Bread Pizzas

My husband and I make these all the time. It is just super easy and quick and allows you to be very creative. I like to take whole wheat pitas or pita flat bread and top with my favorite pizza toppings. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and you're done!

Spring Time!

It is Spring time and that means baseball. Go Cubbies!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Orange Shrimp

I made a great Martha Stewart recipe last night for dinner. And I of course wore my "Move Over Martha" apron. Although it was a total coincidence and I didn't notice until I was finished making the meal. Anyway, it was a great dish that I will definitely make again. It was fast, easy and delicious.

2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sesame seeds (I didn't have these, so it isn't totally necessary, but would be a nice touch)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 and 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more if needed
1 cup fresh orange juice (Ok, so we're not all Martha Stewart, store-bought orange juice is just fine. Modern housewives don't have time to squeeze fresh juice.)
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I always like to use low-sodium soy)
1 Tbsp sugar
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (Again, I didn't have scallions, but I can see it being a nice touch)

In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites, cornstarch, sesame seeds, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper until frothy. (You may need to whisk for a couple of minutes, don't be afraid to use a little elbow grease.) Add shrimp, and toss to coat.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two or three batches, cook shrimp until golden and crisp, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Add more oil to skillet if neccessary for remaining batches.

Wipe skillet with a paper towel. Add orange juice, soy sauce, and sugar. Boil over high heat until syrupy and reduced to about 1/3 cup, 4-5 minutes. Return shrimp to skillet; add scallions, and cook until heated through and coated with sauce, about 1 minute.

Serves 4. I served it over Jasmine rice. Source: Everday Food, Martha Stewart

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Strawberry Cake

When it comes to Paula Deen, she never disappoints me with her desserts. Her pumpkin spice bars, her lemon bars and this delicious, perfect-for-Springtime Strawberry Cake. It is actually very easy to make because it uses a box cake mix, but just by adding a few extra ingredients, it totally turns it into something extraordinary. Here is the recipe, which I have adapted just a tad. Enjoy!

1 box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored gelatin (Jello)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries, thawed and pureed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below)
Garnish: Fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 round 9-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add all the pureed strawberries, except for a 1/4 cup, eggs, oil and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Took 25 minutes for me.) Let cool in pans for 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread strawberry cream cheese frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with freshed strawberries, if desired.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup (or half a stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup strawberry pureed
1/2 tsp strawberry extract (don't worry if you can't find it, it just adds a little extra strawberry flavor. I didn't us it and it was still delicously strawberry-ish.)
7 cups confectioners' sugar (Yes, 7 cups!)

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in puree and extract. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.

You of course could buy a cream cheese frosting and just add the strawberry ingredients, but this really is easy to make. Like me, you'll probably have extra frosting, I always seem to. Save it, make a batch of sugar cookies or vanilla cupcakes and frost with the leftovers.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Grocery Shopping

My new favorite thing is to get up early on Saturday and get my grocery shopping done first thing. You get it out of the way and the best thing is the store is virtually empty.

Shopping tip: organize your list by department. List all your produce together, dairy, etc. so you can follow the list as you move through the store. This way makes it less likely you'll forget something or miss something then have to make your way back to the complete other end of the store.

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite dishes to make and eat. I make it so much that I thought for sure I have posted the recipe before, but when I was looking for it a couple of weeks ago for my mother-in-law, I realized I never had. I have tried lots of different variations, but I think my favorite is Giada's. Piccata is a very versatile dish that isn't limited by just chicken. I have made it with salmon, shrimp and tilapia. I have also seen recipes calling for scallops and boneless pork chops would work, too.

Here is Giada's recipe:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 Tbsps unsalted butter
5 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup capers
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake of excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to a plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

I like to serve with some lemon orzo or wild rice.