Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Orecchiette with Veal, Capers and White Wine

Here is another recipe I got from Food & Wine magazine. I really liked this one, and it tastes even better the next day. I only made two tiny changes, of course, but the recipe still came out fantastic. If you're one of those people that has a problem with veal, then I suggest you use 1/2 pound ground chicken or turkey and 1/2 pound ground pork. I think if you use all ground turkey or chicken the meat sauce will be too dry. Also, note that orecchiette takes longer to cook (about 15 to 18 minutes). I made this when Matt was still here and he's not a big fan of "al dente" so I overcooked my pasta just a tad bit, but the dish still came out fabulous. I also used regular chicken stock, and it was seasoned just perfect, but if you're watching your salt intake, then use low-sodium chicken stock.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed
  • 3/4 pound orecchiette
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the veal, season with salt and pepper, add the red pepper flakes and raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veal is no longer pink and any liquid has almost evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Add the white wine to the skillet and boil over high heat until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chicken stock, thyme, rosemary and capers and simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta well and add it to the skillet along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, chopped parsley and butter. Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to bowls and serve right away.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Caramel Pecan Bars

Last Christmas I received a magazine subscription to Food & Wine magazine. Although the magazine has so many great recipes, it seems that their end-of-year issues tend to have the most delicious recipes, probably so that their readers can make them for the holidays.

This recipe is straight out of the magazine and, like a science experiment, nothing was changed or tweaked. The bars are slightly gooey yet crunchy. If you want the bars to be slightly less gooey, you can place them in the fridge. The recipe says it makes 16 bars, however they are quite sweet that we cut them into smaller pieces and we got more like 24 bars.



  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound pecan halves
  1. Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the cubed butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on the ice water and vinegar and process until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Turn the crumbs out onto a sheet of wax paper and knead just until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until slightly chilled, about 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper to an 11- by-15-inch rectangle (1/4 inch thick). Trim the dough to a 9-by-13-inch rectangle and place it in the baking pan. Cut the remaining dough into 3/4-inch-wide strips and press them up the side of the pan to form a rim all around. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the dough is just set. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake the crust for about 12 minutes longer, until lightly golden and set. Let cool.
  4. Make the topping: In a large saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey and salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until foamy and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the curry powder (if using) and cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer inserted in the caramel registers 240° (soft ball stage), about 10 minutes longer. Add the pecans and cook for 2 minutes longer. Pour the filling over the crust, spreading it evenly. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the topping is bubbling. Let cool completely. Slide the parchment onto a cutting board. Cut into bars and serve.
Make Ahead

The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coq au Vin

This coq au vin recipe is supposed to be ready in 90 minutes, but it took me much longer than that. I made the wine reduction sauce first in the morning and let it get to room temp; by the time Matt got home from work in the evening, I finished off the recipe. The result: pure deliciousness. I served my coq au vin over egg noodles, but you can serve it with a side of mashed potatoes, or even over rice.

Make sure you use a medium-bodied, fruity red wine such as Pinot Noir or a Rhône Valley Grenache. Avoid bold, heavily oaked red wine varietals like Cabernet and light-bodied wines like Beaujolais.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 bottle fruity, smooth, medium-bodied red wine (I used Pinot Evil Pinot Noir)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 ounces bacon , preferably thick-cut, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs , trimmed of excess fat and cut in half crosswise
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 24 frozen pearl onions , thawed, drained, and patted dry (about 1 cup) (see note above)
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms , wiped clean, stems trimmed, halved if small and quartered if large
  • 2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1. Bring all but 1 tablespoon wine (reserve for later use), broth, parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 3 cups, about 25 minutes. Discard herbs.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons fat in small bowl; discard remaining fat.
  3. Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of chicken in single layer and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining chicken and 1 tablespoon bacon fat.
  4. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add pearl onions and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and flour; cook, stirring frequently, until well combined, about 1 minute.
  5. Add reduced wine mixture, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; add 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Return chicken, any accumulated juices, and reserved bacon to pot; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.
  6. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to large bowl; tent with foil to keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer sauce until thick and glossy and measures 3 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and reserved 1 tablespoon wine. Season to taste with salt. Return chicken to pot and top with minced parsley. Serve immediately.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Beef Burgundy

We made a trip to Minnesota for Thanksgiving, which by the way I am very proud of our little Stella. She was such a good baby flying for the first time and didn't fuss at all. While we were there visiting my husband's family, his tia Cindy Blaha had a gathering for us at her house. There was a lot of food, but to me the most memorable was the beef bourgogne. The meat was tender and the sauce just right. I found this Crock-pot recipe from America's Test Kitchen and it's actually quite simple and it doesn't have too many ingredients. I think the hardest part of this recipe is the waiting!

A tip about this recipe is to make sure to use the low setting on your slow cooker; the stew will burn on the high setting. Serve with boiled potatoes (the traditional accompaniment), mashed potatoes, buttered egg noodles, or over toasted French bread.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 to 8)

  • 8 ounces bacon , chopped
  • 4 pounds beef stew meat (preferably chuck)
  • 1 large onion , chopped fine
  • 2 carrots , peeled and chopped fine
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups Pinot Noir
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 package white mushrooms, sliced
  1. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and refrigerate. Pour half of bacon fat into small bowl; set skillet with remaining bacon fat aside.
  2. Dry beef thoroughly with paper towels. Season beef with salt and pepper; place half of beef in slow cooker insert. Heat skillet containing remaining bacon fat over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook remaining beef in single layer until deep brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer browned beef to slow cooker insert.
  3. Add reserved bacon fat to now-empty skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrots, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and stir until beginning to brown, about 45 seconds. Transfer mixture to slow cooker insert.
  4. Return now-empty skillet to high heat and add 1 1/2 cups wine, chicken broth, and soy sauce. Simmer, scraping up brown bits, until pan bottom is clean, about 1 minute. Transfer wine mixture to slow cooker insert.
  5. Stir bay leaves and tapioca into slow cooker insert. Set slow cooker on low, cover, and cook until meat is fork-tender, about 9 hours. About halfway through the cooking, add the sliced mushrooms.
  6. When ready to serve, discard bay leaves and stir in reserved bacon. Bring remaining 1 cup wine to boil in large skillet over high heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir reduced wine and parsley into stew and adjust seasonings. Serve.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Matt's Oatmeal Cookies

My hubby is the baker in the family and he's perfected this oatmeal cookie. Be warned, though, because they are very addicting. You can use a walnuts or a mixture of walnuts and pecans. Also, he sometimes uses half cup of raisins and half cup of currants in the batter and the cookies simply come out scrumptious.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 30 cookies)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup of raisins

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats, nuts and raisins until just blended.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cookies should be at least 2 inches apart.

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Leftover Recipe: Potato Croquettes

I made mashed potatoes last night and had leftovers so I decided to make these croquettes tonight. The picture is not mine; it's from the Food Network, but they looked just the same. I wanted a sauce for them and developed one by combining a little mayo, a little cranberry sauce, a little bit of finely chopped jalapeno and lime juice with salt and pepper and mixed it. It was quite tasty with these croquettes. This is a great recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 15 croquettes)

  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped green onion
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sifted dried bread crumbs (I used Panko bread crumbs)
  • Vegetable oil, enough to fill pan 1/2-inch

Add milk, salt, pepper, chopped onion, beaten egg yolks and flour to mashed potatoes. Chill and then shape using an ice cream scoop. Dip in the beaten egg, then roll through bread crumbs. Fry each croquette in shallow oil until brown on all sides.

Cook's Note: Cook in small batches, giving each croquette at least 2 inches of space around it to not overcrowd the pan. This prevents the croquettes from crumbling while frying.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

I made this the other night and although it's not a "true" Alfredo (I mean I doubt that they use Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend in Italy) it was very good--and it's one of those dishes that even your picky eater kids would like. Anyway, this recipe makes enough to feed 6 to 8 people, so it's great for a party.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6)

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into cubes
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 pound fettuccine pasta
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (8 ounce) package sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • /4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

In a large skillet over medium heat combine chicken, 2 tablespoons butter, garlic and Italian seasoning. Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in the skillet. Saute onion, 2 tablespoons garlic and mushrooms until onions are transparent. Stir in flour, salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Slowly add milk and half-and-half, stirring until smooth and creamy. Stir in Parmesan and Colby-Monterey Jack cheeses; stir until cheese is melted. Stir in chicken mixture and sour cream. Serve over cooked fettuccine.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sauerkraut and Kielbasa Stew

Okay, I'm not sure if this is really a stew but that's what I'm calling it because you basically put all your ingredients in a pot and let it simmer for 2 to 3 hours. I also used turkey kielbasa just to make it slightly healthier, but you can use regular kielbasa for this recipe. I was quite surprised with the flavor: it was really tasty and a bit sour! I think next time I'll omit the potatoes and cut the kielbasa hot dog-size so I can serve it in rolls with some mustard. Yum!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (four if you are a garlic lover)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and diced (try to use a waxy potato like Yukon gold)
  • 1 (16 ounce) bag sauerkraut, from the deli aisle (not canned please)
  • 1 lb beef kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (two if you love sausage)

In a large ovenproof pan put the cold butter with the diced onion, and slowly bring to a simmer on medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add minced garlic and simmer 2 more minutes. Add the thyme and sage. Next combine with the sauerkraut (undrained and unrinsed), kielbasa and potatoes.

Bring to a simmer and cover loosely with foil and place in a preheated 225°F oven for 3 hours. (I cooked mine over the the stove top because it was too hot to use the oven and it came out just fine).

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sloppy Joe's

I made these sloppy Joe's last night and they were quite tasty. Next time I'll omit the honey and molasses because they were a bit sweet for me. These are definitely grown-up sloppy Joe's because it has some heat and spice to it. I served mine over toasted artisanal whole wheat bread because I wanted to be fancy, but it will taste just as good over hamburger buns or regular sandwich bread.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 roasted poblano pepper, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey (omit if you don't want your Joe's to be too sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (omit if you don't want your Joe's to be too sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Heat oil in a large skillet and brown the chuck, making sure you break it down into pieces with a metal or wooden spatula. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the oil.

To the same pan add the onion and celery and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the ground chipotle and the ground cumin powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add the peppers and garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add the cooked ground chuck back into pan and add remainder of ingredients: ketchup, BBQ sauce, water, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and brown sugar and molasses (if using) and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a simmer until sauce thickens to your liking, then lower heat to medium-low and cook for 15 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve over your favorite toasted bread or in hamburger buns.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Swedish Meatballs

I've never made Swedish meatballs before and I gave it a try for Halloween. We had family and friends come over for a cocktail and treats, and I served these as appetizers. They were quite delicious and I bet they would also taste great over a bed of egg noodles as a main course. After I cooked all the meatballs, I placed them in a Crock-Pot, poured the sauce over them and kept it on low. Or you can use the oven method (like in this recipe) and it will work just as good. This recipe is straight from Alton Brown's show, "Good Eats."

INGREDIENTS (makes 32 to 36 meatballs)

  • 2 slices fresh white bread (I used wheat bread because that's all we had)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter, divided (I suggest you buy Ghee, which is what I used, and it's much easier than making your own clarified butter)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound ground chuck
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside.

In a 12-inch straight sided saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, pork, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds. (I don't have a scale, so I just made my meatballs about 1.5" in diameter). Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven. Once all of the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wood-Grilled Salmon

This past weekend Matt and I watched an episode of Cooks Country on PBS. I usually don't watch cooking shows on PBS because they are on at weird times here in San Diego, but at the moment all we do is stay in the house and take care of the baby, so we stumbled upon it. In this particular episode they grilled salmon over cedar wood chips. Both of us thought that the recipe deserved to be made by us. I have to say that we were not disappointed at all. The salmon was perfectly cooked and it had just the right amount of cedar smoke. You *must* use the cedar chips for this recipe; don't even think about using hickory or mesquite. I paired the salmon with Jasmine rice and braised collard greens with pancetta. The meal was just divine! We will definitely be making the salmon again.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets (each 6 to 8 ounces and 1 1/4 inches thick)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups wood chips , soaked for 15 minutes to 30 minutes
  1. Combine sugar, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic in small bowl. Pat salmon dry with paper towels. Brush flesh side of salmon with oil and sprinkle with sugar mixture.
  2. Make four 7- by 5-inch trays using heavy-duty aluminum foil. Using tip of knife, perforate bottom of each tray. Divide wood chips among trays and place salmon skin-side down on top of wood chips.
  3. Place trays with salmon over hot fire and grill, covered, until center of each fillet is still just translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove trays from grill.
  4. Slide metal spatula between skin and flesh of fish and transfer to platter. Serve with Jasmine rice or your favorite side dish.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Panko Fried Pork Chops

Sometimes the easiest thing to make are the hardest for me because I tend to either over cook it, over think it, or just over do it. Take pork chops, for example. Simply, you just season the chops and fry. But I always try to do fancy stuff with them like brining them or making fancy sauces, but somehow I tend to over cook the chops. Well, I finally decided to make my chops as simple as possible, and it finally worked! The key to this recipe are the Panko breadcrumbs. There really is no substitute and if you've never had Panko-fried-anything, I think you'll become a fan. I served my chops with potato dumplings and a simple tomato and cucumber salad. It was a hit with my hubby and my brother-in-law.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • McCormick Monterrey Seasoning (or your favorite poultry or meat seasoning)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 8 thin cut pork chops
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)

Create three stations for the breading process. Place the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper in a shallow dish and mix to combine.

Scramble the eggs in a large bowl and mix with one teaspoon of milk and a little salt and pepper.

Next, place panko crumbs in a shallow dish and mix in 1 teaspoon of the Monterrey seasoning mix.

Salt and pepper pork chops. First dredge the pork chops in flour and shake off excess. Next, dip in the egg mixture. Lastly, coat with Panko crumbs. Set the pork chops on a tray lined with wax paper. Once you've breaded all the chops, place in fridge for 15 minutes. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Fry chops for about 4 to 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Do not overcook; these will cook very quickly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maniladas with White Cheese Sauce and Tomatillo Sauce

I gave birth to my baby girl, Stella, on October 1, 2009. As you can imagine, I have had no time to cook nor have I had the urge to cook as my husband and I have been taking care of this little creature. But finally last week I decided to make something from scratch, and although there's a lot of steps to this dish, it goes by really fast. The cheese sauce is actually my favorite and you can use it as a sauce for almost anything, including lasagna and macaroni. I saw (and got) this recipe from the "Cooking for Real" show on the Food Network. It's an unusual take on enchiladas + manicotti, but the combination works and the tomatillo sauce really makes a difference, so go ahead and give it a try!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 (8-ounce) package manicotti shells
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
For the Tomatillo sauce:
  • 1 pound tomatillos, quartered
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the cheese sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream, room temperature
  • 2 cups grated fontina cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Boil manicotti in salted water for 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water and set pasta aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat and mix in chicken, tomatoes, cilantro and sour cream. Set aside. To make the Tomatillo Sauce: Place tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and garlic in a baking dish. Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatillos turn golden around the edges and are soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and blend ingredients together until smooth. Use reserved pasta water to thin sauce, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To make the cheese sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Add cheese and nutmeg and stir until melted. Season sauce with salt, to taste.

To assemble: Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Stuff manicotti tubes with chicken mixture and assemble in a 9 by 12-inch baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over the top. Bake 30 minutes until cheese is bubbling. Drizzle tomatillo sauce on Maniladas before serving.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicken and Waffles

I never truly understood the whole "chicken and waffle" combination, which seems to have a foodie-religious following in the South. But I figured I would try it and finally say, "I've had chicken and waffles!" Unfortunately, there are not very many good soul food restaurants here in San Diego--actually there are just a handful of them. I'm a big fan of Church's chicken, which I know is fast food, but their fried chicken is pretty close to soul food, I think.

I did find a restaurant called Bonnie Jean's Soul Food and their food is quite good and tasty, although the neighborhood is somewhat questionable and the restaurant is clean, but a bit run down. Nevertheless, their chicken and waffles was quite delish. I enjoyed eating it, but it wasn't as an incredible meal as I thought it would be. Perhaps I just over-excited myself. Anyway, my favorite part is the fried chicken. I just love it. Below is a very easy fried chicken recipe and you can make (or omit) the waffles. It's up to you. A nice side of collard greens or even fried okra would go wonderful with this meal. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)


  • 1 (3 1/2 pound) fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces, giblets reserved and chopped
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasosing, or your favorite seasoning/rub mix
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs


  1. Heat enough vegetable oil to come about 1-inch up the sides of a large, deep cast iron skillet to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the chicken under cold running water and do not dry; leave wet. In a large sealable bag, combine the flour with the poultry seasoning. Add the chicken pieces 1 at a time, seal, and shake to coat evenly. Remove and place on a wire rack over a baking sheet and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown and the meat is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes (the thighs and legs will take longest to cook).
  4. Remove and drain on paper towels. Remove the pan from the heat and with a slotted spoon, scoop out any browned bits remaining in the pan and drain on paper towels.
WAFFLES: Special equipment: a waffle iron
  1. Sift together the flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs. Combine the wet ingredients, dry ingredients to form waffle batter.
  3. Ladle the batter into the waffle iron, following the manufacturer's instructions. While the waffle iron is closed, trim any overflow with the back of a knife. Cook until golden.
  4. Serve waffles hot, topped with hot Fried Chicken and sides of hot, melted butter, good maple syrup and hot sauce!

Monday, September 28, 2009


We had a end of summer festival at work several weeks ago and various food vendors came to our campus to sell their foods. One of the vendors (which had the longest line!) was selling homemade crepes, both savory and sweet. Well, my co-workers and I stood in line for what seemed forever but it was worth it. I got a lemon-butter crepe and a strawberries and cream crepe and they were divine.

I finally got the urge to make something last night for dessert and gave crepe making a try. I have to say making the batter is quite easy, the most difficult part, I think, was trying to get the pancake thin enough and being able to flip it. The recipe below is from Alton Brown and I used 2 ounces instead of 1 ounce, as he suggests. You can you any type of filling, but I went with an easy one: sweet sour cream and raspberry sauce.


  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • Butter, for coating the pan

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly (I poured 2 ounces). Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.

*Savory Variation Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, spinach or sun-dried tomatoes to the egg mixture.

*Sweet Variation Add 21/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur to the egg mixture.

Sour cream filling: Mix 1 cup sour cream with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp. vanilla. Set aside in fridge when ready to use.

Raspberry Sauce

  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

Place half the raspberries in a saucepan with water and sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and sauce is thick. Add the remaining raspberries and orange zest. Heat through at the lowest temperature setting. Top filled crepes with raspberry sauce and garnish with sour cream and fresh raspberries.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deep Fried Pickles

Although I already have a fried pickle recipe in this blog, this particular recipe is a bit different because it's made with a cornmeal batter and I like the texture of this batter a bit better--plus it reminds me of the catfish batter I used to eat way back in the olden days when I lived in Florida. And you know the cliché that pregnant women crave pickles and ice cream? Well, I hate to tell you that it's true. I don't crave the ice cream (I am lactose intolerant after all, but I do crave frozen yogurt every freakin' day) but I can't get enough of dill pickles. This recipe makes a lot of fried pickles, so make sure you invite 3 or 4 pregnant women to feed these to!


  • A jar of sliced dill pickles
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Canola oil for deep frying, about 1″ in pan (or peanut oil, if you prefer)

Remove pickles from the jar and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Meanwhile, heat oil in cast iron pan or other heavy pan.

Mix cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together egg and milk until well combined. Add pickles to the egg and milk mixture. Remove and toss pickles in cornmeal mixture until all surfaces are well coated and no wet spots remain.

Carefully fry the pickles in two batches. Fry until both sides of pickles are crisp and nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes. Set on paper towels and fry the second batch. Serve hot with my amazing aioli sauce or with cool ranch dressing.

Diva's Amazing (and super easy) Aioli Sauce

If there is one sauce I know by heart and can make with my eyes closed, it's aioli. I love this stuff. I love anything with mayo, really, but this aioli is pretty good considering it's not the authentic aioli you find in Spain or in Spanish restaurants (they use raw egg yolks). Nevertheless, this sauce not only goes great with a tortilla Española, but also goes wonderfully with french fries or boiled potatoes, smear it over crostini, or use it as a dip for fried pickles. I usually use 3 cloves of garlic, which makes it super garlicky, so you may want to start with one and eventually figure out how much garlic you prefer.


  • 1 to 3 garlic cloves, very finely minced
  • The juice of half of a lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Best Foods Mayo
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and place in fridge for a few hours for flavors to marry. Serve at room temperature with the tortilla.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grilled Veggie and Flank Steak Linguine

There really is no science to this dish. You just grill your favorite veggies, grill a small piece of flank steak (or use any leftover meat), cut them to bite size and toss them with pasta, a bit of marinara sauce, and of course don't forget the Parmesan. It's really that easy and it's a great dish to make outside on your grill on one of those super hot days when the last place you want to be is in the kitchen. You can even cook the pasta outdoors if your grill has a burner.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • About 3/4 pound flank steak
  • 1 small eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 pound linguine
  • 1/2 cup your favorite marinara sauce, heated
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

To make the marinade: in a small glass or stainless-steel bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place flank steak in a plastic resealable bag and add the marinade. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. Bring steak to room temperature before grilling.

Light the grill to high.

In a large shallow bowl, toss the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the black pepper. Grill or broil in batches, turning the vegetables once, until they are tender and lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Cut the vegetables into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Grill the flank steak about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare or grill to your desired doneness. Cover steak with foil and let rest 5 minutes. When meat is well rested, thinly slice into strips by cutting against the grain.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until just done, about 13 minutes. Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and toss with 1 tablespoon of the reserved pasta water, heated marinara sauce, the vegetables and the sliced beef. Add more pasta water if the pasta seems dry. Top with some Parmesan cheese and pass additional Parmesan at the table.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Braised Red Snapper with Black Olives and Lupini Beans

When Matt was in Rota, Spain, he not only picked up an arsenal of wine and port, but also some quite interesting foods such as Spanish blood sausage, a type of sheeps milk cheese, cans of olives and "tomate frito" and an interesting package of "saladitos" which I found out they were acutally brined lupini beans. I have never heard of or seen lupini beans. They look like flat butterbeans and taste somewhat between garbanzo and lima beans. The odd thing about these legumes is that no matter how long you cook them for, they will always be slightly al dente. I guess they are highly toxic when dried and you have to cook them for hours and hours and change the water, etc. So the Spanish (and I think Italians, too) found a way to brine these beans and they are simply served as snack food at most bars in Spain. They have an outer shell you have to peel before you pop them in your mouth. The brined lupinis we had were rather salty but they go great with beer--so I was told. Anyway, long story short, Matt and I couldn't possibly eat all of the beans so I came up with this dish using the beans (this recipe is very similar to my Tilapia with Tomato and Chickpeas but without all the spices).

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • About a 1.5 pounds of red snapper
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 8oz. "tomate frito" or El Pato tomato sauce
  • Handful of black olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of brined lupini beans, outer shells removed and soaked in warm water for a few minutes to remove excess salt

Wash the red snapper in cold water and pat dry. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet with 2" sides, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the snapper and quickly sear until you're able to flip the fish over (about 90 seconds). Add the wine and raise the heat and bring to a boil. Add the tomato sauce, olives and lupini beans. Lower heat and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with steamed white rice and a good, dry Spanish wine.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Watermelon, Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad


You're probably wondering why I haven't posted any new recipes, well, blame it on my pregnancy. I'm now almost 36 weeks pregnant and the size of Shamu the whale. My back aches, I'm constantly hot and sweaty, and I haven't seen my toes since July. My cravings are also always changing; one day I'm craving mango sorbet and slices of American cheese, and the next day all I want are black beans and rice. One craving that has not changed, though, is my desire for watermelon. I can't get enough of it and I found this delish recipe from a Canuck foodie. In the original recipe "kumatoes" are used. I have to admit I have no idea what they are. But regular Roma tomatoes or even cherry tomatoes work well with this refreshing dish.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 Roma tomatoes (or about 8 Cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 seedless watermelon wedge, 5 inches wide
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta

There is no need to seed or peel the cumbers. Slice cucumber lengthwise then again lengthwise. Finally cut crosswise into chunks, about 1 inch in size. Cut the tomatoes into quarters then cut them in half (if using Cherry tomatoes, only cut them in half). Cut watermelon into the same size chunks as the cucumbers. Place the cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon into a large bowl and toss gently.

Whisk together vinegar, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Add the mint, basil and feta. Toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Maple Roasted Bacon

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to make maple-roasted bacon and he'll love you for a lifetime!


  • 3/4 pound thick-cut smoked bacon (16 slices)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons good maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon begins to brown. Remove the pan carefully from the oven; there will be hot grease in the pan! Brush the bacon slices with maple syrup and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the bacon is a warm golden brown. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and serve warm.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Challah French Toast

When my mother-in-law was here last month for my baby shower, I decided to make French toast. I bought a huge challah bread (if you can't find it, you can use brioche instead) and I also made maple roasted bacon. This French toast is really yummy and the challah makes a difference because the bread has a slightly sweeter taste and it really hold up well when you fry it. Yummylicious!

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 (1/2-inch)slices challah bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Fresh fruit and real maple syrup for serving

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. Pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 minute.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Braised Beef Short Ribs in Red Wine

I'm a sucker for sales, especially with groceries. About a month ago I saw a package of big, beautiful short ribs on sale at Albertson's and I just couldn't pass it up. I put them in the freezer in hopes that I would cook them for my hubby when he came home, and that's what I did last night. It was pretty much an all-day task, but I think it was worth it. I served the short-ribs over egg noodles, but mashed potatoes or even a side of spatzl would have been a good side dish. Since I can't drink right now, I think a good bottle of Burgundy or an Italian table wine will pair up nicely with this meal. You don't want a big, bold California red wine to overpower this dish.


  • 6 beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
  • 4 cups large-diced celery (6 large stalks)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and large-diced
  • 1 small fennel, fronds, stems, and core removed, large-diced
  • 1 leek, cleaned and large-diced, white part only
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle Burgundy wine or dry red wine
  • fresh rosemary sprig
  • fresh thyme sprig
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and add the onion, celery, carrots, fennel, and leek and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour the wine over the vegetables, bring to a boil, and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the rosemary and thyme together with kitchen twine and add to the pot.
  3. Place the roasted ribs on top of the vegetables in the Dutch oven and add the beef stock and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.
  4. Carefully remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside. Discard the herbs and skim the excess fat. Cook the vegetables and sauce over medium heat for 20 minutes, until reduced. Put the ribs back into the pot and heat through. Serve with the vegetables and sauce.