Friday, November 21, 2008

Fresh Pasta

Does anyone make their own pasta? Is it worth it? What do you need?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's for Thanksgiving?


What are you cooking for Thanksgiving? Are you sticking with the classics? Does your family have traditions? I'm always interested in hearing new yummy recipes. This is an awesome holiday, one focusing on food, family, what we are thankful for and football:)

Dinner help

As I tend to do, I go through phases where I am very motivated about making up my menus and trying new recipes, and then when I am not so motivated. I am in the down phase, and am having trouble putting ideas together for some new dinners to try. I need to get shopping and would love some great ideas. I did a pork stir-fry last night. I was feeling uninspired and just threw it together. It didn't look great and I wasn't thrilled about it, but it actually tasted really good. 

Anyone have some great, easy, family-friendly ideas?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Green bean casserole

Ok here it is, I like green bean casserole. A few years ago our news paper ran an article on it and had some updated one. I tried one of them.   Am thinking of another one this year.  Do people make it? Do you like it? Why? or Why not? Which one would you make?


Monday, November 17, 2008

Sour-Cream Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Anyone have the recipe handy? I can't find mine and am having a coffee/playdate tomorrow morning.

Update: Eileen shared the recipe with me, so I am adding here on the front page so it is nice and easy to find. A family favorite!

Chocolate Chip coffee cake
!/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs 
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp Vanilia
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 tsp cinnamon

Cream together butter,sugar,eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Combine 2 mixes. 
Spoon 1/2 batter into pan. Top with 1/2 chip mixture. Cover with rest of batter. Top with rest of chip mixture.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Mom always does her in a fluted pan but I have trouble getting it to cook through in that pan so I do a 9x13. So you may need to adjust baking time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cool-weather Soups

I always love to have soups during this time of year. It makes me feel warm and toasty, add salad and a bread, and I am in heaven!

Last night, I made a butternut squash soup. I roasted the squash with a little olive oil, s&p at 400 for about 45 minutes, until it was tender. Then, sauteed a little onion and garlic, added the squash pulp and some chicken stock, nutmeg and sage. Brought the soup to a boil and let it simmer. Then, pureed in the blender until smooth. Drizzled a little molasses on top before serving. It is good, but I would be more than welcome to trying other butternut squash soup recipes, as well as other soup recipes in general. 

I will come back shortly and post a few of our favorites.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Food for a family at a difficult time

We have a family that the Mom just had open heart surgery. I am signed up to bring dinner one night next week.   Any suggestions?  I tend to resort to Lasagna when bringing food for others.  What are some other good options? 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Yes, great company recipes


This is a really versatile idea. You can make it with beef tenderloin, chicken breast, or salmon or other firm-fleshed fish. Basically, you pair the protein with cheese and something else sweet or savory, and wrap it in puff pastry. They can be made ahead and frozen, then just baked off when you need them. Perfect for a dinner party or house guests.

Last week or the week before, Rachael Ray did chicken breasts with fontina cheese and fig preserves, seasoned with rosemary. I used to have a client that loved chicken breasts with goat cheese, spinach, toasted pine nuts, and sundried tomatoes, seasoned with basil and garlic.

The very first meal I ever cooked for my husband was chicken cordon bleu (with gruyérè and black forest ham). I’ve changed it up over the years to make it with fontina and prosciutto or imported provolone and prosciutto for an Italian flavor or manchego and parma for a Spanish flair. These little rolls are also great en croute (enclosed in puff pastry).

You can also do individual beef wellingtons this way. Use individual servings of beef tenderloin and top with sautéed mushrooms or pate (or both, if you prefer).

Necessity is the mother of invention. Use whatever you have on hand or want to use up. Or make it seasonal: Cranberries or apple butter and blue cheese in the fall, spinach and goat cheese in the spring. Keep some of the staples for your favorites in the pantry and freezer and you’ve always got a company-ready meal on hand. You can make it as fancy or as mundane as you like.

I roll the flattened chicken breast around the fillings, Rachael Ray layers them on the pastry; I might try her way next time, it seems easier. Rachael Ray browns the chicken breasts before layering and wrapping, I don’t; who needs an extra step?

Chicken (or beef or salmon) en croute
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (if you’re having a large dinner party/buffet, cut the breasts in half, people don’t eat as large servings at a larger party)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
spice
1 sheet puff pastry (11 by 17-inch)
8 slices cheese
something sweet or savory
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat oven to 475°. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spice. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut pastry into 4 pieces (8 for dinner-party-sized pieces). Place a piece of cheese on each pastry square and top with spoonfuls of sweet or savory and chicken breast. Pinch and seal the dough up and over the meat and cheese, seal with egg wash, flip the pastry packets over and brush the tops with remaining egg wash. You can roll the puff pastry scraps and use cookie cutters to decorate the bundles with seasonal shapes or simple decorations. (Bundles can be frozen at this point: Freeze on baking sheet without wrapping to set the egg wash and puff pastry. Wrap bundles individually in foil and store in a zipper freezer bag until you’re ready to use them. May be frozen up to three months.)

(If frozen, defrost in refrigerator the day before you plan to eat. Preheat oven to 475°. Unwrap the thawed bundles and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.) Put the pastries in oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 400°. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and the juices run clear.
Chicken with fontina and fig preserves variation: Season chicken with ½ t rosemary along with salt and pepper. Use 8 slices of fontina and ½ c fig preserves.
Chicken cordon bleu variation: Season chicken with ½ thyme along with salt and pepper. Use 8 slices of gruyérè and 8 slices black forest ham. Serve with mornay sauce.
Chicken marsala variation: Season chicken with ½ t sage along with salt and pepper. Use 4 oz sautéed mushrooms, 8 slices of provolone, and 8 slices of prosciutto.
Chicken fontina variation: Season chicken with ½ t Italian seasoning along with salt and pepper. Use 8 slices of fontina and 8 slices of prosciutto.
Chicken manchego variation: Season chicken with ½ oregano along with salt and pepper. Use 8 slices manchego and 8 slices of parma ham.
Chicken with goat cheese and spinach variation: Season chicken with ½ t basil along with salt and pepper. Use 4 oz goat cheese and 10 oz frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed), mixed with 2 T toasted pine nuts, 2 T chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and ¼ t minced garlic.
Chicken with blue cheese and caramelized onion variation: Season chicken with ½ t thyme along with salt and pepper. Use 4 oz blue cheese and ½ c caramelized onions.
Individual beef wellington variation: Substitute 4 6-oz beef tenderloins for the chicken breasts. Season with ½ t rosemary along with salt and pepper. Use 8 oz sautéed mushrooms (or 4 oz mushrooms and 4 oz paté of your choice). Sear the tenderloins before you layer and wrap them.
Individual beef wellington with spinach and blue cheese variation: Substitute 4 6-oz beef tenderloins for the chicken breasts. Season with ½ t rosemary along with salt and pepper. Use 4 oz blue cheese and 10 oz frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed). Sear the tenderloins before you layer and wrap them.
Salmon en croute variation: Substitute 4 6-oz salmon fillets (skin removed) for the chicken breasts. Season with 1 T dill weed along with salt and pepper. Use 4 oz neufchatel cheese (light cream cheese) combined with 2 T dijon mustard and & 4 oz sautéed mushrooms.
Salmon with lemon-spinach variation: Substitute 4 6-oz salmon fillets (skin removed) for the chicken breasts. Season with lemon pepper and salt. Use 10 oz frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed).
Chicken or salmon and asparagus variation: Use chicken breasts or substitute 4 6-oz salmon fillets (skin removed) for the chicken breasts. Season with garlic salt and pepper. Use 4 oz havarti and 8 asparagus stalks.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Any great entertaining recipes?

My mother-in-law and brother-in-law are coming for a few days, and then after they leave, my parents are coming for a few days. Any great recipes to share.
There was an error in this gadget