first timer

Had to post double-time before I leave forΒ our 3-day weekend in Auburn Β πŸ™‚

Can you believe (probably) that I’ve never actually cooked asparagus at home, like, for dinner?? Where have I been! I have definitely eaten it… and I like it. But, I love broccoli way more and maybe my adoration for it has eclipsed every other green veggie when I am thinking of ‘healthy’ sides. Hmph.
Last night I made asparagus. In the oven, tossed with olive oil, s&p, with bacon slices on top for mucho flavor.
Sooooo yummy. Even after dinner was done and dishes were cleared… I was stealing the warm, leftover spears from the pan and devouring them. I still can’t bring myself to say they are better than the ol’ stand-by, but…’twas good. πŸ™‚

Our chicken cutlet dinner with mustard and pretzels was AWESOME. It took 15 minutes to cook and barely any time to prep. Full credit goes to the recipe goddesses of the Bride & Groom Cookbook I am obsessed with but I kinda couldn’t find a certain ingredient, so……….. this recipe is alllllll mines πŸ™‚
Be sure to let the hubby do the pretzel crushing. πŸ˜‰

Honey-mustard Pretzel Chicken
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup honey mustard (we used Grey Poupon Savory Honey) | I find it kinda funny that amazon sells mustard |
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 cups crushed honey mustard pretzels**
10 fresh asparagus spears
4 slices, precooked bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine mustard, tarragon, sour cream and set aside.
Put pretzels -one cup at a time- in a ziploc bag, lay flat and crush with the back of a wooden spoon or meat tenderizer.Between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, pound out chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness and even on all sides. Season with salt and pepper and place on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Smother chicken with mustard and sprinkle with pretzels.

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Bake in ovenΒ for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss asparagus with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Place spears in a shallow pan lined with aluminum foil and lay bacon on top. Bake in oven, alongside chicken, for the remaining 12 minutes.

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(We had a salad -which we turned into our leftovers- but served this with polenta. Eh. Totally forgettable. I say, serve with a fresh salad)

Leftovers we both had today @ workie: (with raspberry vinaigrette. DELISH!)DSC05630

*enjoy your meals…
C

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shrimp on the barbie

Ha. Couldn’t resist.

Tuesday night was Shayne’s night to cook and he most certainly did, but I kinda nuzzled my way into the kitchen and prepped. Everything. 😦 I usually try to relax and let him cook for me at least one night a week, but sometimes I have this urgency to help. What am I saying?.. more like, TAKE OVER. I am extra bossy in the kitchen (he can attest). I like everything to be seasoned, cut, browned and flipped to my liking. 😦 I cant help it! When I get my “nazi chef” hat on – as he likes to call it – I have to take a breath, put the knife down, tell him I love him and immediately vacate the kitchen.
So after prepping everything and feeling uber bad about it, (but then totally not when he jumped on the computer as I assembled the kabobs) HE put them on the grill. He’s not particularly a guy’s guy, but he loves to grill. It’s like his thing. So, I don’t even go there. I can’t even go outside.

A pretty simple meal, nothing really to it. Just light prepping. It was just healthy and tasty. I looked at him halfway through the meal, his plate still – more or less – full, and he gave me a look like, “meh.” Was it because he didn’t make every-thing? Probably. That’s my hubs! πŸ™‚

Shayne’s Shrimp Kabobs
12 shrimp, cleaned & deveined
1 green bell pepper, cut into large chunks
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini squash, sliced
1/2 medium white onion, cut into large chunks (leftover from our fajitas :))
4 mushroom caps, cleaned & quartered**
1 cup White Wine & Citrus Vinaigrette
1/2 lime
olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
4 skewers

Rinse shrimp and devein with a small utility knife. Keep in a bowl of ice cold water as you prep. Drain and put in a small bowl with vinaigrette and lime juice, and season with salt & pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 9 hours (or until you get home from work).
Preheat grill to medium heat. Prep veggies,Β assemble on a big plate – so you can just grab as you make the kabobs – and drizzle with olive oil. We had 4 skewers, so 3 shrimp to a skewer and alternate your veggies as you see fit. There is no method to my madness, I have no secrets to assembling these.
Grill kabobs until shrimp turn pink – about 5-6 minutes.
Season to taste and enjoy.

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(A Rita’s Italian Ice is a mighty fine dessert to follow with ;))

*enjoy your meals!
C

le menu

I was out of town all weekend. No cooking (barely eating) πŸ™‚ But last night we refocused and in like a record time of 5 minutes, I made our menu for the week before we ran to the store. Ok, so it lacks the flare of last week’s burgundy, and its all a little easy, but we wont be eating at home but 3 nights this week . I whipped through my cookbooks and came up with an okay menu. I think last week I was really trying to buff up my blog or something. This week I am going to relax a bit…

Last night (no pictures or recipe, sowwie!) was steak and chicken fajitas with my favorite taco garnish (usually on carnitas but I love it on any!)**: a sprinkle of onions and cilantro and squeeze of lime**. YUM. So fresh and simple. I marinated the flank steak (which I cut super thin) in lime juice, tangerine juice, fresh garlic & salt and pepper. I wish we would have had time to marinate longer but.. I was vewy hungry. The corn tortillas I bought were so thick and obnoxious (ugh!), 2 tacos and I was dunzo.

P1010334** – just had to show how wonderful this garnish is –

Usually Shayne’s night to cook for me is Monday, but I made the fajitas so tonight he’s dazzling me with grilled shrimp kabobs -with mushrooms, squash, onion & green pepper – The shrimp is marinating in a white wine, citrus vinaigrette as I type. Mmm. Can’t wait. Dunno what we’re having with. Maybe some corn… or something I have in the pantry.

And lastly, Wednesday we’re having -I can’t remember what the official “name” – thin chicken breasts in tarragon mustard covered in honey-mustard pretzels (uhh, yeah?!) with polenta I already had πŸ™‚ I only had to buy 3 ingredients for this. I’ll post this really easy recipe as soon as I “test” it Wednesday . It’s from that Bride & Groom cookbook πŸ™‚

So, there you have it. The whole (kinda) week’s dinners planned out… now onto more important matters..like getting back to work!

*enjoy your meals…
C

if Julia Child thinks so…

..then it must be the best!

My dear friend, Terri, got me the perfect bridal shower gift: a cookbook, Bride & Groom First And Forever Cookbook.
After settling all our wedding gifts and goodies into the kitchen (most of the gifts were FOR the kitchen, hehe) :), I now had time to use all my new gadgets and thumb through this amazing collection of perfectly portioned recipes.
I love, love, love this cookbook and all its gourmet-ish recipes. I mean, who wants to just “throw” together beef bourguignonne on a Tuesday night. Uh, no! I love this book because it does showcase elegant food but makes it totally accessible… and really, I am not the greatest cook, I just read directions really well.
So basically since we started our “weekly menu,” I began tagging things I want to try and their recipe for “Beef Burgundy” was certainly calling my attention. At first, I really wanted to try making it because I saw that movie, Julie & Julia… and two, it just seemed like the ultimate comfort food and to beat a dead horse, I love fall and being here with no “fall,” it makes me homesick for cooler days πŸ™‚ ..and so a hearty comfort food was what I needed. What I didnt realize after I had prepped all my ingredients, I did not have a DUTCH OVEN. (WTF!) So, my oblivious as* went to Target where I found a porcelein one for $45 and almost barfed. 😦 I found one for $29.99 and then, was totally happy πŸ™‚

This recipe wholeheartedly and absolutely came from the cookbook. I take no credit for the wonderfulness that came from my 3 hours slaving to make this dinner, although I had to change the recipe tiny smidges because of ingredient technicalities. I cannot sing its praises enough, this meal was comforting and if only I had more people to share it with. I took some to my office and just short of shoving it down my coworkers throats, I tried to get them to try it (But sadly, one of them does not eat pork. Bacon is used! 😦 ) If you have 3 extra hours on your hands and you want to tackle a culinary classic: please, please, please try this recipe!:

Beef Burgundy
from Bride & Groom First And Forever Cookbook, adapted by me. πŸ™‚

4 bacon slices, roughly chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef stew meat, such as beef chuck or bottom round, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces baby portabellos, cleaned and sliced (the original recipe called for shiitakes)
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups good-quality red wine, such as Burgundy (..I dunno if $6.99 is “good-quality”…?…)
2 cups beef broth
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
fresh rosemary sprig -4 inches long-
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sugar
about 20 packaged peeled baby carrots
1 cup fresh pearl onions, peeled, or frozen petite whole onions, thawed
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnishing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Fry the bacon in an ovenproof 6-quart heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat until lightly browned and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pot.
Set the pot over high heat. Add the meat and cook until browned on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms, onion, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the wine, broth, tomato paste, rosemary, bay leaf, brown sugar, and bacon. Stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and bring to a simmer.
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Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pot from the oven and add the carrots and pearl onions. Bake, uncovered, until the carrots and meat are tender, about 30 minutes more. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

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(I made their “Creamy, Dreamy Mashed Potatoes” to serve with. UH-mazing.)

nothing better..

..than a warm, apple TART. πŸ™‚

I am kinda disappointed that leaves didn’t turn and the morning air isnt crispier.. South Florida just doesn’t have the hearty fall appeal that Chicago had. The only reason I really loved Chicago probably. There’s really no need to wear a jacket or brew tea… fall just isn’t a recognized season here. But yesterday all my longing for cooler days and autumn leaves was appeased. One of our “October traditions” (particularly around my birthday) is to get pumpkins and carve them. Ever since our very first fall together, Shayne & I have gone to a (legit) pumpkin patch, sat through the hay rides and the whole 9. I went online to find a patch in our area… HA! So not happening… and if there are any… they are well hidden and do not like to be bothered. I remembered a big nursery/farmers market we pass on our way to Davie and thought hmm, they prob have pumpkins. They sure did! But sooo not on a farm. I did get a really big pumpkin and carved it up Sunday as the 65-degree day settled on our perfectly cool porch. YESSS! Our windows were open (ALL DAY) and a perfect cool breeze came through. I also bought 6 apples (3 honey crisps and 3 grannys) and made an apple tart with ingredients I had at home:

Easy as Pie Apple Tart
2 cups (probably more) margarine (I know, but seriously… SO GOOD)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar (all I had left)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon flour
6 apples, cubed (I used 3 granny’s and 3 honey crisp for a sweet/sour flavor)
20 sheets Phyllo dough

Preheat oven 370 degrees.

While dicing apples, cook in a large pan, margarine, sugar and spices. Cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and starts to look like caramel.

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Toss apples with flour and add to caramel and heat through about 3-5 minutes, be sure not to cook more than 10 minutes on medium heat, they will turn to mush in the oven. (Unless of course, you like it that way) πŸ™‚

Butter a glass pie dish and lay the 20 sheets so the bottom is covered and it hangs over the side of the dish.
Ladle in apple filling and fold dough over the top.

DSC05577(I always add a few teaspoons of butter and sprinkles of cinnamon over the top for a little extra love before I send it into the oven) πŸ™‚
Bake in oven for about 18-20 minutes, just until Phyllo dough is golden brown.
Serve with vanilla ice cream. YUM.

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recipe by: Caroline Stephenson
…It’s supposed to be 89 tomorrow. Spoke too soon I guess.

Of course I cant wrap things up without gloating my pumpkin carving skills:
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*enjoy your pies…
C

food & wine & recipes

Wow, there just aren’t as many hours in the day as there used to be.
I have some recipes to share and fun little food diddies to report from this weekend!
SO my super awesome 23rd birthday was last week and my husband & I celebrated at, hello, the most magical place on the planet… Disney World!
He took me preeeetty much the best possible weekend ever. Epcot is having it’s International Food & Wine Festival this month and geez louise… the food was FANTASTIC. I wish we would’ve taken pictures of everything but …cameras are the last thing on our minds while chomping on gourmet fare. I would probably compare the outside atmosphere and set up like Taste of Chicago, but the food = 100x better.

our fav. entree sample of the festival :) - shredded pork taco
our fav. entree sample of the festival πŸ™‚ – shredded pork taco

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In addition to that awesomeness, Shayne & I have also implemented a strategy for planning our dinners for the week.. It’s our “weekly menu.” πŸ™‚ It’s already proven effective in just 4 days for our budget -we only spent $70 at the grocery store (for our groceries/ingredients for the whole week!)- and our *peace* of mind πŸ™‚ I get up an extra minute early to prepare marinades and we can both get home, relax and enjoy cooking together. My heaven!
I thumbed through my Bride & Groom cookbook (I received as a shower gift – thanks TERRI!) and starred recipes we can plan on making and wrote them on post its. You’ll see what I mean. πŸ™‚ And it also gives me more incentive to look through my neglected Rachael Ray mags.

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..As you can see, last night we had grilled mahi mahi tacos with rice and beans. No picture, but I am posting the recipe. Its so simple, quick and painless… there’s really nothing to it. Except finding fresh, fantastic mahi. So, once you find that… no worries. Fortunately for our proximity to the ocean, ours came outta the water on Sunday πŸ™‚
C’s Citrus Mahi Tacos
1 lb. fresh mahi mahi, (preferrably 2 steaks)
1/4 cup citrus juice (any will do! I used tangerine and lime juices)
1/2 cup Naturally Fresh White Balsamic & Citrus Vinaigrette (look in the salad dressings)
4 flour tortillas, warm
Mango salsa for garnish πŸ™‚

Toss fish, juices and vinaigrette in small bowl and marinade for 9 hours. (Or until you get home from work πŸ™‚ )

Preheat grill (medium-low heat). Grill fish for 5-7 minutes on each side. Serve on a warm tortilla with mango salsa. Squeeze lime juice on top.
We made black beans (with cilantro, red pepper flakes, garlic and salt & pepper ) and made super easy rice-in-a-bag… who has time for anything else?
This was refreshing and super easy.

On to God’s gift to this green earth: Chicago-style deep dish. Now, I know some people just dont understand its hearty girth of cheese and thick crust… but I am totally a devoted fan. I love love love all kinds of pizzas and especially making pizzas. One of the very first things I became addicting to making when Shayne & I first met was pizza. I discovered that Publix (which I also discovered while in Tennessee) sells raw pizza dough and became quickly attached to dreaming up pies of all shapes and thickness with all kinds of toppings. After a trip to Chicago, I went out to Publix, got the dough, 2 lbs. of cheese and ‘ronis and made a deep dish. And here to make a debut… my deep dish πŸ™‚

**I made the comment tonight, as I have before, that whenever I make this, the cheese always melts off the dough. And pretty much every time, Shayne says, “They probably cook the dough a little bit before adding the cheese on.” So I researched… and yes, they do par cook the dough…approx. 7 minutes. Then, put the toppings (cheese..etc) on and bake for additional 20-25 minutes**

(If you dont have a Publix or grocer that sells raw dough…. 😦 Sowwie. Here’s a recipe for deep dish dough)
C’s Super Easy Chicago Deep Dish
1 bag Publix raw, Italian pizza dough
2 1/2 cups Barilla marinara sauce
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese (we used Sorrento)
15-20 pepperoni’s (we like Boar’s Head)
9-inch cake pan

Preheat oven to 400 & oil cake pan. Let dough rise at least for 1 hour. (Mine sat in the fridge for 2 days and puffed up NICELY). Flour your work space, hands and rolling pin. Roll dough out approximately 10 inches in diameter if using a 9-inch pan. Just be sure to roll your dough out so it hangs over your pan a smidge…thats technical.
Place dough in pan and press to secure the bottom. Sprinkle with olive oil and add all the cheese, then pepperoni’s and lastly, sauce.

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Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes. And bon appetit!
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So very yum πŸ˜€ (kind of a gnarly pic but… whatevs. Its delish).
AND.. since I am feeling generous… No recipe, but I do have a pic. of our fab stuffed peppers from the other night:

DSC05528Of course and like always.. made with love πŸ™‚

enjoy your meals…

C

nobody likes you when you’re 23

Ahhh I made it another year! πŸ™‚
Not that I would go on and on about my birthday without mentioning some sort of food… It’s only 10:20 a.m. and I haven’t had a bite to eat but I have already gotten a (top 5 best) birthday present… My wonderful friend, Beth (who is from Boston and can be heard asking if she can get jimmie’s on her ice cream**), heard me laughing hysterically (not kidding) in the office at my 60″ Mac computer screen. She must’ve thought I was really retarded. Those who know me are no stranger to my boisterous laughs but I could tell she was probably getting annoyed. I told her I was looking at “Cake Wrecks.” I tried to explain and even showed her the site.. she chuckled but it was I who really got a kick out of this. I even showed my other coworker who proceeded to entertain my silly charade by clicking along the site with me in (probably) pure anguish. Oh well. I think its g-d hilarious. It may be because I worked at a bakery and have an eye for cake disasters and my empathy is what makes me laugh. And I have been a wrecker myself…although there is no evidence of this wreck I made. Too bad. 😦
So I found out that Cake Wrecks was going on a book tour from my google reader. Book tour! That could only mean they have a freakin book! Yesssssss!!!
So while in my hysterical stuper, Beth got wind of the book and yesterday as I sit here staring at my 60″ screen, a little box from Barnes & Noble sails through the door.
Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong

It is soooooo hilarious. I love Jen Yates’ for doing this and even more, I love that professional bakeries have given people these cakes. For real. My only regret is that I didn’t get my wreck in there! πŸ™‚ But far too many are more wrecktastic than mine.

Love the site. Love the book. Check it out. NOW. πŸ™‚
Thank you sooo much Beth!!!!!! You are so cool!!!!!

(Happy birthday to me! I am also going to Disney World!!!! I love my husband!!!!!)

*enjoy your cakes…

C

(**jimmie’s (sp?) are sprinkles in yankee slang! how cool is that!)