Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs

My latest issue of Bon Appetit made this claim and so we put the recipe to the test and it is absolutely true. Gerry did a fabulous job of following the directions to a tee and it came out perfectly.

The oven was preheated to 475 and bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs got a sprinkling of salt and pepper. A cast-iron skillet was heated over high heat until hot but not smoking. The chicken went in skin side down and cooked for 2 minutes. The heat was reduced to medium-high and continued to cook for 12 more minutes, moving the chicken thighs occasionally until the fat rendered and the skin was golden brown. The skillet then went in the oven to cook for another 13 minutes. The chicken thighs were finally flipped and cooked for another 5 minutes. The meat was transferred to a plate to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

This process made perfectly crispy skin on the outside and perfectly cooked, moist meat on the inside.

We had garlic mashed potatoes and oven roasted carrots as our sides.

We will definitely be going back to this recipe!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Eggplant Gyros

These gyros were loaded with so many vegetables, it was hard to miss the meat.

I started with the sauce by mixing Greek yogurt, crumbled feta cheese, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Once combined, the sauce was set aside.

I then tossed together seeded, diced tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced cucumbers, diced scallions, and halved kalamata olives with some red wine vinegar, chopped fresh parsley, chopped fresh oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper. This combination was refrigerated until needed.

I proceeded to saute a diced eggplant in a skillet in olive oil until tender. The cooked eggplant was combined with the chilled tomato-cucumber mixture and tossed together.

Meanwhile, some pita breads were brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt and popped under the broiler briefly to brown on both sides.

Once all the components were ready, the gyros were assembled by spreading some of the sauce down the middle of the warm pita and topped with about a cup of the vegetable mixture.

Our side dish was a Watermelon Salad, which was really wonderful. I started with the dressing by combining fresh lime juice, honey, fresh mint, and vegetable oil and whisking until the honey was dissolved. In a large bowl, I combined lots of cubed watermelon, some cubed honeydew melon, cubed cantaloupe and a little bit of thinly sliced Vidalia onion. The melon combo was tossed with the lime dressing to coat and seasoned with salt and pepper.

This was a stupendous meatless meal!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad with Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Dressing

Since we had Emma tonight, I decided to keep the menu simple with a salad. It started with the dressing by whisking together rice vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, wasabi powder, salt and pepper until well combined.

A package of mixed, pre-washed greens were tossed in the dressing. Some canned, drained mandarin oranges and cooked cubed chicken were tossed in. The salad was simply garnished with sliced scallions and wonton strips.

This was truly a delicious, easy salad to make.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scampi on Couscous

This was the last week for having Zeb and Melissa over for dinner and grading papers, so I decided Melissa needed to be introduced to couscous; and what better way than this Giada recipe.

The couscous got cooked in a broth that I made with onions, carrots and garlic sauteed in olive oil. Canned tomatoes, clam juice and white wine were added and allowed to simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors. This mixture was pureed until smooth in a food processor. The broth had some water and more olive oil added and went back in the pan and brought to a boil. Once boiling, the couscous was stirred in, the heat turned off, the pan covered and removed from the heat. The wonderful thing about couscous is that is cooks itself by simply sitting, covered to absorb the liquid. Just like rice, the couscous got fluffed with a fork before serving.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, some garlic was warmed in olive oil until the oil was hot enough to cook the shrimp. The shrimp was sauteed for about 5 minutes until just cooked through. The pan was taken off the heat, and lemon juice, crushed red pepper, and freshly chopped parsley was stirred in.

I cooked up the last of the fresh green beans from the farmer's market as our vegetable.

Yum!!! Melissa loved the couscous which I am not surprised at since it is just so good. Another wonderful Wednesday dinner!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meatless Monday Mix-Up

I plan all the menus, but Gerry does the cooking Monday through Friday while I work out. Today, Gerry got a little ahead of himself and cooked Tuesday night's menu instead of Monday. I came home to find dinner was ready with a plate full of a chili-rubbed pork chop topped with a warm pineapple relish with a side of honey-jalapeno sweet potatoes. Everything was superb and I guess this week we will have meatless Tuesday.

The pork chops were rubbed with a mixture of chili powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper and sauteed over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes before being flipped. Once flipped the heat was reduced slightly and the pan was covered to allow the meat to cook to 145 degrees for about 10 minutes. The chops were transferred to a plate to rest for 5 minutes while the pineapple relish was made in the same skillet. A cup of diced fresh pineapple was sauteed for a couple of minutes until softened and warmed through. Some sugar was stirred in and off heat, minced scallions, lime juice and salt were added to finish it.

Our side dish started with some sweet potatoes that were boiled until tender. They were then mashed until chunky and had some honey, fresh lime juice, minced jalapeno and salt mixed in well.

It was an absolute wonderful dinner even though I was expecting something completely different.

Pan-Roasted Halibut with Pesto Butter Again

When I eat something that I really like, it leaves a really strong flavor imprint in my mind (not to mention I have been seeing leftover pesto butter in the refrigerator for a week now), and so I repeated a recent dinner with the pan-roasted halibut and Risotto Alfredo. Sometimes when I make a new recipe, my memory of it is better than the actual recreation. Tonight's recreation was not disappointing.

The panko-crusted fish was done to perfection, served with grape tomatoes that were roasted with the fish in the oven as the fish was cooking through, which provided a nice sweet burst of juiciness. The pesto butter was superb with the fish.

The Risotto Alfredo was a decadent side dish.

A Grilling Extravaganza

I went to the Farmer's Market early in the morning and so dinner became a grilled extravaganza. I bought a couple of ears of corn which I soaked for an hour before they went on the grill for about 20 minutes. I bought some lovely small tomatoes which I cut in half and these were also grilled. A couple of slices of hearty Italian bread also got a quick flip on the grill. Since we had so much on the grill, I decided to roast green beans in the oven.

The star of the meal was a couple of rib-eye steaks that were simply seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled. Once they came off the grill they went onto a plate which was covered with olive oil mixed with fresh chopped mint and basil, minced garlic and grated orange peel, all seasoned of course with salt and pepper. The steaks were allowed 5 minutes of rest time on the olive oil combination, tented with foil to stay warm. They were flipped in the oil once before being plated. The steaks were served with some orange pickled shallots. I bought organic, grass-fed rib-eye steaks and I personally don't care for the flavor of grass-fed beef. I keep trying it every 6 months or so because I know it's better for you, but to me it is completely different in texture and flavor. I liked the olive oil flavor in the meat but really didn't care for the beef itself. I guess I prefer the corn-fed beef products that I have grown up with. I'll keep trying to convert myself.

We finished off our meal with fresh strawberries from the Farmer's market topped with freshly whipped cream just slightly sweetened.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chicken Marsala

Tonight's entree was from an Emeril recipe that had 5 stars with 630 comments. It was very good, but I think the sauce could have been much thicker. If I make this recipe again, I will have to play with thickening the sauce at the end.

We started by making a spice mixture including paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano and dried thyme. A tablespoon of this mixture was added to flour and set aside. A couple of chicken breasts were cut in half and pounded thin. They were dredged in the seasoned flour mixture and sauteed for a few minutes on each side before being removed to a plate. Some butter and baby bella mushrooms went into the same skillet and cooked until tender. Marsala wine was used to deglaze the pan and allowed to cook down by half. Chicken stock went in next and cooked for a few minutes before the browned chicken pieces went back in and were allowed to cook through and the sauce had thickened, about 5 minutes. Some more butter was swirled in along with salt and pepper to taste. The chicken was garnished with chopped chives.

We served this with buttered egg noodles.

A very nice dinner!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chop Cobb Salad

Most of this week's menu is from one of my Cooking Light cookbooks, so they are pretty light and quick! Tonight's salad was not an exception.

Some Italian bread was cut into 1/2" cubes, sprayed with cooking oil and popped in the oven until crisp and allowed to cool. Meanwhile a bag of American salad greens were combined with chopped hard boiled eggs, a can of chickpeas (organic, of course) drained and rinsed, chopped green pepper, and chopped red onion. The bread cubes were tossed in and the entire salad was topped with a dressing of Light Ranch combined with some crumbled blue cheese.

This turned out to be a very satisfying salad coming in at 291 calories. We each added a slice of Rosemary Olive oil bread to round out the meal.

Tofu Salad Sandwiches

Tonight's dinner was a very simple sandwich starting with extra-firm tofu, pressed to remove extra moisture and cut into 1/4" cubes. The cubed tofu was combined with light mayo, relish, prepared mustard, salt, dried dill and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile an English muffin was toasted and topped with a lettuce leaf and a tomato slice. Some of the Tofu Salad was added and finally the top half of the English muffin. Our sides were a dill pickle and a few tortilla chips.

This was actually really good and a very quick and easy Meatless Monday option. I'm sure we will make this again and probably for lunch.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pan-Roasted Halibut with Pesto Butter

Wednesday night with Zeb and Melissa here, I decided to do a fish dish. I started with a compound butter consisting of unsalted butter, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic and salt and pepper all processed until smooth in a food processor. The butter was rolled in plastic wrap and refrigerated until serving time.

Meanwhile a six ounce halibut fillet was brushed with melted butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. The seasoned fillets were then coated with Panko bread crumbs. The fish was sauteed over medium high heat, bread crumb side down for 3 minutes. The fillets were flipped and and grape tomatoes were added to the skillet before transferring the pan to the oven to roast for 10 minutes.

The fillets got a slice of the Pesto butter for serving along with a side of Risotto Alfredo and some of the roasted tomatoes.

The risotto started with onions and rice sauteed in butter for 2 minutes. White wine was stirred in and cooked until absorbed. Some hot chicken broth was added in small increments and allowed to be absorbed. Once done, the risotto was removed from the heat and finished with Parmesan, a little heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste.

The fish fillets were absolutely wonderful and perfectly cooked! The risotto was delicious as well.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Meatless Monday Szechuan Noodles

When the girls asked for ideas for Mother's Day gifts, I quickly suggested any of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Almost every recipe we try by Ina is delicious and I only have her Barefoot in Paris book. I now have 3 new additions to my cookbook collection.

Tonight's dinner came from the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and was superbly flavorful. It was quick and easy to make but you would never guess that by tasting it.

While the water was coming to a boil for the spaghetti, the sauce was made in a food processor consisting of garlic, fresh ginger, vegetable oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, hot chili oil, dark sesame oil, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Once the spaghetti was cooked it was tossed with most of the sauce and tossed with sliced red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper and scallions.

The rest of the sauce was available to add tableside.

This dish is what I love about Ina's recipes - simple, straightforward ingredients prepared without a lot of fuss!

Thanks girls - I'll be sure to share some of my favorites when you are home!

It's Been a While

Once I get out of the habit of blogging, it's hard to get back into it. I'll try to blog more consistently.

Yesterday for Mother's day, we did a brunch for just our family. Since it was Mother's Day and my choice for activities, I decided I wanted to be in the kitchen helping Gerry prepare the food. Gerry is certainly more than capable, but I just enjoy being in the kitchen. We made a Fruit Salad with Honey Vanilla Yogurt (an Ina Garten recipe), Belgian Waffles (a recipe in the waffle maker package), Bacon cooked crisply to perfection, Quiche Lorraine (a Betty Crocker classic recipe), Baked Spanish Rice (a Good Housekeeping classic recipe), Classic Green Salad (Melissa D'Arabian's recipe) and Lemon Bars (made from a mix). Everything was delicious and everyone was around the table which made for a great celebration!

We chose brunch so that Stephanie and David could head back to Austin by early afternoon and so that Elizabeth and Andrew could spend time with his mom and family. Valerie, Jason and the kids ended up staying all day and Val decided she wanted Chinese for dinner so we ordered in.

We were quite impressed with ourselves since we said brunch would be at 11:00 AM and we had it all ready at 11:02. We are usually close on timing but not this close!