Thursday, May 26, 2011

Storms and Salmon

Those who know me well know that I do NOT like to make fish at home. The smell is too terrible to deal with after the meal is over. But I do like a nice fish when dining out. However, I decided to put on my big girl panties and make a salmon dish at home. I know enough to know that you should always buy wild salmon and not farm-raised. But I was having one of those days and ended up buying the farm-raised kind by mistake for more money like $24 more money. Oops. Why would farm-raised be more money anyways?! Anyways, the sauce that I made smelled so so good. It almost seemed like candy and I couldn't wait to eat it. But what happens as we are finishing preparing the salmon...a crazy storm (yes, again) starts out of nowhere and the power goes out. Greaaat. We were lucky that it was pretty much cooked at this point but we couldn't see to get the sauce correctly on it or eat it for that matter. I'm pretty sure this was a fabulous meal from the smells but it wasn't the most enjoyable dining experience eating in the dark. The asparagus that I had on the side wasn't quite done cooking so it was a tad crunchier than I like. I'm just glad this happened tonight and not last night (our anniversary.) Oh yeah, Happy Anniversary to me. That dinner was great with no flubs. We ate at Local Three  which was awesome.

Either way, I think this was a good recipe so I definitely wanted to share. Also, I thought the name that I gave it was kind of clever. Please humor me:

JD's Single Barrel Salmon


2 large salmon filets, skin off
1/3 cup orange juice
3 Tbsp Jack Daniels Single Barrel Whiskey
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped bourbon pecans (you can find these at Whole Foods but regular pecans will work as well)


Preheat broiler.

Season salmon with salt and pepper. Broil on a lightly greased pan for 5 minutes.

While salmon is cooking, prepare sauce. Combine orange juice, whiskey, and syrup in a saucepan over medium heat.

Take salmon out of oven and brush both sides with the sauce. Put salmon back in over for 7 more minutes. (It should flake.)

Add nuts to the sauce and cook on high until it forms a syrup. Pour sauce over finished salmon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mmm...Buffalo Chicken and Pasta?!?

I found this recipe here. For someone that loves both cheesy pasta and wing sauce, this one was a win! I halved the recipe since it appears to make a lot but it still made more than enough for two people. Next time I make it, I might try chorizo instead of chicken or even do a vegetarian version.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta
see original recipe and picture here 


1 lb Orecchiette pasta
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
4 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded (use additional cheese for topping)
1/3 cup sharp cheddar, shredded (use additional cheese for topping)
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into chunks
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

for garnish: 3/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, additional buffalo wing sauce


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook pasta to al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, and once it’s melted and bubbly add the flour. Whisk together to create a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture gets a bit golden in color.

Add milk, stir and turn down heat to low. Continue stirring until milk thickens. Add in shredded cheeses and continue to stir until mixture is smooth.

Stir in buffalo wing sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.

Add pasta and chicken, then pour cheese sauce over and mix throughly until everything is coated.

Sprinkle with additional cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately top with gorgonzola, green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with buffalo wing sauce.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Best Saturday Night At Home Ever!

Saturday night is usually date night in my mind which to me means going out to eat. So it's pretty rare that I (we) make dinner on a Saturday. But I think my mind on that matter is forever changed. We decided that we wanted to BBQ (I think that can be used as a verb?) at our house. The main part of the meal was a smoked brisket that was so so good. We smoked it on our deck all day long with hickory wood chips and then poured some Big Al's Kansas Style BBQ sauce over it. I kind of felt bad for our neighbors. Our street smelled divine and the neighbors were having a birthday party. I imagined that when their guests arrived they said "oh, it smells wonderful" and then realized that they were being served hotdogs or something like that. :-p

If you are interested in the process for smoking the brisket, let me know and I can post the detailed instructions. With the brisket, we had country-style biscuits and mexican-style corn.  For dessert, I made a lower-fat cinnamon chocolate bread pudding.

Okay so, I am not a corn-on-the-cob kind of girl. I don't dislike it but I can easily pass it up at a cookout. This is yet another thing I have changed my mind about if it is prepared like this. I thought the corn was out of this world delicious. I don't even like mayo usually but YUM. I highly recommend trying this since it was pretty easy and so worth the minimal effort required. While I probably wouldn't change a thing, I think you could try it with sour cream instead of mayo and cayenne or paprika instead or chili powder if you wanted to.

Mexican Corn-on-the-Cob
Serves 3


3 ears of corn (husks and silk on)
Canola/Vegetable Oil
1 lime, quarterd
Red chili powder
Parmesan cheese, grated


1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. Put corn in a large pot. Cover with water.  Bring water to a boil and cook for a minute. Take corn off the stove and rinse with cold water.
3. Peel husks and silk.
4. Brush corn with oil.
5. Roast corn in roasting pan for 30 minutes.
6. Let corn cool before slathering on the mayo. Then, squeeze lime juice over the corn.
7. Next, liberally shake chili powder and cheese over the corn and enjoy!

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread Pudding
Source: SparkPeople 

5 slices white whole-wheat bread (yes, it exists or at least Sara Lee makes it), torn into small pieces
2 large eggs
12 ounces evaporated skim milk

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 cups nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish. Spread the bread in the dish in an even layer. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the evaporated skim milk, brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk until the sugar and cocoa dissolve. Pour the cocoa mixture over the bread. With a fork, mix in any unsoaked bread pieces. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and let stand for 10 minutes. Bake for 35 minutes, or until puffed and set in the center. Serve warm, with a scoop of the frozen yogurt on top.

Makes 6 servings.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

I LOVE Mexican food. In fact, I really think I could eat it every day of the week and still be happy. However, my skinny jeans might have a different opinion. The casserole that I made last night was delicious but luckily leaned towards the healthier side of Mexican. I'm not saying it was low-calorie necessarily but it was definitely a lot lighter than an enchilada dish you would get at a restaurant. Score!

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole 
Probably feeds 4ish.


 Cooking spray
4 whole wheat flour tortillas, quartered
1 -18 oz. can of sweet potatoes, drained
1- 14.5 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup (divided) salsa (I like to use the fresh kind in the Hot version)
2 teaspoons red chili powder

1- 12 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 Hass avocado, diced
1/4 cup chopped green onion

Optional: Sour Cream


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place half of tortilla pieces on bottom of a greased 9 x 13 inch oven-safe dish.

Mash sweet potatoes in a medium bowl. Then mix in the beans, chili powder and salsa. Spread evenly over tortillas.

Place the other half of the tortillas over the mixture.

Mix the remaining salsa with the tomato sauce and pour evenly over the tortilla layer.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Spread cheese over the top.

Bake for another 7 minutes.

Toss the green onions and avocado over the top.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chicken Pomodoro

This chicken dish gives off lots of good flavors and is pretty easy to make. There isn't a ton of prep involved.

Chicken Pomodoro


3-4 chicken cutlets
Kosher salt
nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 Tbsp. canola/vegetable oil
1/4 cup Vodka
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced scallions


Season cutlets with salt and pepper before dredging through the flour to lightly coat.
Spray pan with cooking spray and then add oil.
Saute cutlets on both sides over medium-high heat until they are thoroughly cooked (abour 165-170 degrees).  Transfer chicken to a plate. Drain pan if needed.
Deglaze the pan using the vodka AWAY FROM THE HEAT.
Return pan to heat and add broth and lemon juice.
Return chicken to the pan and cook on each side for one minute. Transfer chicken to a warm plate.
Stir cream and tomatoes in the pan. Mix in the scallions before pouring over cutlets.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm Back!

Was I missed or did no one realize that I was gone? Don't answer that. I went to visit some friends at the beach for a few days and before that I cooked some recipes that weren't really blog-worthy. But I promise to do better with keeping up now.

Last night, I made a risotto dish. I always feel a bit nervous when cooking risotto since it has to be closely monitored for it to turn out just right. But I have to say that this one turned out pretty good. I made the stock to cook it in as well as the garnish to go over the top. But the risotto was already flavorful from the stock that I think this dish would also be enjoyable without the shrimp or the gremolata.

Shrimp Risotto with Chive Gremolata 
Source: Cuisine At Home magazine

Shrimp Stock:

Shrimp shells (from 1 lb. shrimp)
2 cups water
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 cup leek greens, chopped
Dash of peppercorns
4 fresh parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves


2 Tbsp butter
1 cup leeks (white part), chopped
1 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup frozen peas
1 lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp red cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp parmesan, grated

Chive Gremolata:

3 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
2 Tbsp fresh chives or green onions if you can't find chives
2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp minced garlic

Steps for Gremolata:

Cook bacon in skillet until crisp. (About 5 minutes on medium-high heat). Drain bacon and mix with remaining ingredients. 


In a large pot, combine shells, water, broth, leek greens, peppercorns, parsley sprigs, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain stock and discard pieces. Return stock to pot on low heat.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in saucepan over medium heat. Cook leeks for 2 minutes before adding the rice and cooking an additional 2 minutes. Don't let the rice burn!
Deglaze pan with sherry. Stir frequently until liquid evaporates.  Add 1/2 cup of the stock to the pan and stir until absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time until rice is cooked (about 25ish minutes). 
Stir in peas and shrimp until shrimp is pink and cooked. You may find it easier to cook the shrimp separately and then add it to the risotto instead. Season the risotto with the cayenne, nutmeg, and salt.
Take risotto off heat and mix in butter and parmesan.
Garnish with Gremolata.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Italian Pesto Panini

Paninis aren't just for lunch. They also make filling dinners. Sometimes a little too filling since I put too much cheese in mine. But you can adjust to your taste. As for the pesto, homemade is always good but store bought works just as well.

Italian Pesto Panini
Makes 2 paninis

 4 slices of bread (I used Sourdough)
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
Red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup pesto
6 oz. fresh mozzarella ball, sliced
salt and pepper to taste


1.  Warm oil in pan over medium-high heat.
2.  Saute tomatoes about 3 minutes. Throw in a dash of red pepper.
3.  Place pan aside and add vinegar. Mix.
4. Brush olive oil on one side of each slice. On the other side, spread pesto. Place cheese and tomatoes on top of pesto. Season. Top each slice.
5. Toast panini using a panini press or skillet. When it's toasted, you will see light grill marks and cheese will be melted.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chicken Piccata and Wine Of Course

Hopefully everyone had a nice weekend and enjoyed the great weather after those terrible storms. I have a couple of wines to report on... Over the weekend, we opened one of the wines we ordered on our Sonoma trip, Robert Young Scion. It was a treat for my taste buds for sure! We enjoyed it on it's own but it would also be great with a meaty dinner.
With the chicken piccata that I made last night, we opened a white wine. I actually bought it mainly for cooking not drinking but since I had a lot left, I figured why not. For the price, it made a nice white table wine. However, I don't think it would stand up to some of the pricier wines. It was $10.99 at Whole Foods.
The dish was both delicious and simple to make! In an effort to save money and suit my own tastes, I left the capers out. However, a traditional piccata would have capers.

Chicken Piccata
(2 Servings for small eaters, 1 for big eaters)


2 chicken cutlets
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
all-purpose flour
nonstick cooking spray
2 Tbsp of canola or veg. oil
1/4 c white wine
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 c chicken stock
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp butter


1) Season the chicken with salt and pepper. 
2) Pour flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken through it to coat and then shake off the excess.
3) Spray a pan with cooking spray, add oil and turn on to medium-high heat. 
4) Cook cutlets 4-5 minutes on each side or until slightly golden. Transfer chicken to another pan on low heat.
5) Add wine and garlic to original pan to deglaze. Cook 2-3 minutes. 
6) Add stock and lemon juice. Place chicken back into the pan to cook with sauce (one minute on each side.)  Transfer chicken to plates.
7) Add the butter and parsley to the sauce. Cook until melted before pouring over the chicken and serving.