Monday, June 30, 2008

Pan-Seared Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce

My friend Jen suggested this recipe to me... Hey Jen! THANKS! This was very yummy!! This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen - pretty much foolproof recipe source if you ask me!
It may not look pretty... and my cuts may be deplorable... but when it tastes this good? Who CARES! :)
Make sure to prepare all of the sauce ingredients before cooking the steaks. Bear in mind that even those tasters who usually prefer rare beef preferred these steaks cooked medium-rare and medium because the texture is firmer and not quite so chewy.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 boneless shell sirloin steak (top butt) or whole flap meat steak, about 1 pound and 1 1/4 inches thick
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 small shallot , minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
1. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Meanwhile, season both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Place steak in skillet; cook, without moving steak, until well browned, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip steak; reduce heat to medium. Cook until well browned on second side and internal temperature registers 125 degrees on instant-read thermometer for medium-rare (about 5 minutes) or 130 degrees for medium (about 6 minutes).
2. Transfer steak to large plate and tent loosely with foil; let rest until internal temperature registers 130 degrees for medium-rare or 135 degrees for medium, 12 to 15 minutes.
3. While steak is resting, pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from now-empty skillet. Return skillet to low heat and add shallot; cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add wine and increase heat to medium-high; simmer rapidly, scraping up browned bits on pan bottom, until liquid is reduced to glaze, about 30 seconds; add broth and simmer until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Add cream and any meat juices; cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in mustard; season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Using sharp knife, slice steak about 1/4 inch thick against grain on bias. Arrange on platter or on individual plates, and spoon sauce over steak; serve immediately.
Serves 2.

Pork Tacos with Corn-Jicama Salsa

This recipe is from Cooking Light and WOW I think that this recipe alone may have just convinced me to subscribe! VERY yummy! A bit more labor intense than I had realized it would be... but I would make this again (just on a weekend!)

The leftovers heated and paired with a fried egg made for a great breakfast taco too!

For the salsa
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (too early for fresh, I just used canned)

1/2 cup finely diced peeled jicama
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the guacamole

1 cup cubed avocado

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup finely chopped seeded tomato (I didnt bother with seeding)

I also used Cilantro because, well, I love the stuff and guac isnt gauc for me without it!!

For the tacos

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

16 ounces trimmed pork tenderloin, cut into 2 x 1/8" strips (THIS was the labor intense part... note to self, let meat from the fridge sit out for a couple minutes so your hands dont freeze off from frostbite!!!)

2 teaspoons canola oil

8 6" white corn tortillas

To prepare the salsa

In a small bowl, toss together corn, jicama, black beans, cilantro, juice, cumin and salt. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill.

To prepare the guacamole

In a small bowl, add avocado, juice and salt - mash with a fork until well combined. Stir in tomato, lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture and set aside.

To prepare the tacos

In a shallow dish, stir together chili powder, oregano, cumin and salt. Add pork strips and toss well to coat.In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add pork - sauté until done, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate and cover to keep warm.Use a paper towel to carefully wipe the pan clean. Add 2 tortillas to pan and briefly cook until the tortillas soften, about 30 seconds on each side. Remove from pan and wrap in a moist towel to keep warm - repeat procedure with remaining tortillas. If needed, you can coat the pan with nonstick spray during this process.

To assemble the tacos

Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons guacamole onto each tortilla - top each with roughly 1/4 cup pork and about 2 tablespoons salsa. Fold tortillas in half to serve.

Makes 4 servings.

This is a photo from leftovers turned breakfast - VERY yummy!

Balsamic Chicken with Tomatos

I saw this recipe on a few different blogs (I am not sure where it originated - if I missed you lmk and I will give credit) and KNEW it was something I would love. Balsamic anything? Yum. Fresh local tomatos and basil? Double yum. Cheese? Awwws yeah. And this is EASY too! Ive made it twice so far and it just pulls together for a quick easy dinner (with veggies and salad).

Balsamic Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed
Pinch of salt
¼ Cup balsamic vinegar
¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil
8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced into chiffonade
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat a grill pan over medium heat on the stovetop. Spray with cooking spray. Combine balsamic and olive oil in a bowl. Season both sides of chicken with pinches of salt and place on grill. Brush top sides of chicken with balsamic mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip chicken. Brush with additional balsamic and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. During the last 2 minutes of grilling place 2 slices of cheese over top each chicken to melt. (I liked marinating the chicken for about 15 min or so in the oil and balsamic for a stronger flavor)

2. In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, basil garlic, salt and balsamic. Toss gently to combine. Place chicken breasts on a serving plate and top with tomato mixture. Serve warm.

So so good!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Danish Braids

First off - post 200! woohoo! Go me!

(slight explosion... and goofy braiding!)

This month's Daring Baker's Challenge was, simply, awesome. I have to say that this recipe intimidated me... but really wasnt so bad. Really, it was (for me) easier and more successful than May's challenge! Thanks to our hosts Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’? for choosing a great challenge!

We were given the recipe for the dough and a suggested apple filling, but were welcomed to use any filling and just to make at least one braid. I doubled the recipe (yeah... I know...) because we are having some houseguests in July (I froze the finished braids) and because I couldnt pick just two fillings! Some had trouble with the dough, or butter oozing out. Mine was ok - just make sure to flour your surface WELL pre-rolling

My fillings are: Blueberry Lemon (1 pint of blueberries cooked with some sugar and juice of 1 lemon, plus a bit of cornstarch to thicken) plus sweetened cream cheese, Strawberry Rhubarb (berries and rhubarb cooked with sugar and a little orange rind and thickened) plus sweetened cream cheese, fresh strawberries macerated in Balsamic Vinegar, and a coffee-chocolate filling - cream cheese sweeted with about 1 serving of fresh espresso whipped in, topped with chunks of dark chocolate. Yummmm! The braids are frozen now, but I made some small baby danishes with the extra dough... so so good.

(Random chocolate explosion)
And without further ado... the recipe
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough
For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Makes enough for 2 large braids
Ingredients 1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves
For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.Egg WashWhisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Favorite Brownies

I love brownies. Homemade brownies are probably my fav dessert, and the food for which I demonstrate no control at all... I could eat an entire pan in a day, no problemo. And these are my favorite ones! The recipe is my moms... where she got it I dont know but she has been making them for as long as I can remember. The beauty of brownies is to make them from scratch is EASY. You dont need a mixer - best to mix by hand so you dont overbeat. Throw it all in a boal, mix until JUST combined, pour in a greased pan and bake! Easy as pie - except pie can be tricky. Easy as BROWNIES! :)
Deep Dish Brownies:
3/4 c melted butter
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 c flour
1/2 c baking cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c choc chips
Heat oven to 350. Grease 8x8 pan. In medium mixing bowl blend melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and beat well w/ spoon. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well-blended. Stir in chips. Spread into prepared pan. Bake 40-45 min or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. (always err on the side of undercooking brownies, and I often add a bit more cocoa to these :) )

Latest DB EVER!

I made my May Daring Baker's Opera Cake in May, within the allotted time... but when post date came along I was travelling on business and posting from my laptop didnt seem like a fun idea. So, the post date came and went... and because I was late already... I didnt get around to posting. Until today. My June DB entry is currently in process so I figured it was about darn time I blogged may! Part of my delay is due to the fact that I really did not like my opera cake :( The reason is, I think, three-fold:

1) I really did not care for the white chocolate flavor in the mousse and ganache... like I hated it!

2) The flavors I chose (hazelnut/frangelico, vanilla, and caramel) really didnt come through very well - they were not strong enough and really just didnt work for me. I think Iwould have been better of with fruit, or more acidic flavors

3) I struggled through my buttercream - it wasnt firming up for me - so I kept tasting it. Finally it came together (I just kept beating it... and beating it... and finally like 15 minutes later it firmed up) but by then I had had WAY too much. Also, I follwed the posted recipe (more sugar, less butter) but it was just WAY too sweet for me... so I kept adding butter... and tasting. Blech!

Now, I gave it all away (Ryan brought into work) and I fully expected a poor review but he said it was enjoyed. So, maybe it was just me... but I wasnt a fan. I think I would have prefered it if I have followed some other DBers lead and cheated... with chocolate :)

Not going to bother posting the recipe since y'all have either a) seen it already or b) wont make it anyhow but you can see it on all the other DBers blogs here - they all have the recipe posted :)

Strawberry Banana Pancakes

Best pancakes Ryan or I have ever had! I made these awhile ago (then again this weekend) thanks to his suggestion that I use up some almost-past-their-prime berries we had... wowsa! Very yummy. The first time, I just used this banana pancake recipe, adding chopped up berries at the end. This weekend I healthied it up a bit by using Canola instead of butter and half whole wheat flour - still just as yummy!
Recipe - Revised (based on wm sonoma recipe)
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (half whole wheat)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small, very ripe banana, peeled and mashed
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pint of strawberries, cleaned hulled and chopped
Maple syrup for serving

Heat skillet over medium with a little butter to coat. (just used spray)
Combine all ingredients and beat until just combined (few lumps remaining). Pour using a 1/4 cup measuring cup for consistency onto pan. When the edges start to set and there are bubbles popping through, flip the pancake. Finish cooking and serve. Repeat until all are done.
TIP: separate the eggs and beat the whites a bit before adding to batter - it helps a bit to make the pancakes fluffy!
Serve with syrup.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I got this recipe from America's Test Kitchen, via Chelley. She raved, and I trusted her rave. I also tend to think that America's Test Kitchen tends to be fab! And... I was not disappointed. This came together easily and well and was so so good - I would not be surprised if I owe 5 pounds to this concoction! Well worth it.

This was Ryan's birthday "cake" since it is a dessert he loves and he is slightly picky about cake and buttercream - so I knew it would go over well - as well as the mother's day dessert. See Chelley's notes below - I followed her version of the recipe.

Tiramisu (Source: Cook’s Illustrated November & December 2007 issue)
2-1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature (I used espresso)
1-1/2 Tablespoons instant espresso granules
9 tablespoons dark rum [I substituted Kahlua and cut the amount down to 4-1/2 tablespoons]
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1-1/2 pounds mascarpone
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
14 ounces (42 to 60, depending on size) dried ladyfingers (savoiardi)
3-1/2 Tablespoons cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
1/4 cup grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional) [I omitted this]

1. Stir coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons rum [2-1/2 tablespoons Kahlua] in a wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves; set aside.

2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice. Add remaining 4 tablespoons rum [2 tablespoons Kahlua] and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl. Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.

3. In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.

4. Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove and transfer to 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.

5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone.

6. Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dust with remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Wipe edges of dish with dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Sprnkle with grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.

I stuck with the kahluah in the lower amount and it was still a strong flavor. I also mistakenly got fresh ladyfingers... then hunted and found the hard ones - they worked great!

Lamb Chops with Sun Dried Tomato Butter

First things first - lets pause for a moment. LOVE my china! Isnt it pretty? I actually have two patterns I am working on (would like 10 of each eventually) that coordinate. Right now I have... 1 of one pattern and 5 of the other. Total of 6. Doesnt get us very far for entertaining :( I cant wait to get more and have my table not be a TOTAL mishmash of china, everyday, etc.

This recipe came from Gourmet magazine via Epicurious. It was SO easy and SO yummy. I modified the butter alot - and made it the night before. The chops (rib) came out perfect doneness. This is something I would try again!


1 garlic clove
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
1/2 cup walnuts (omitted - my sis is allergic)
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used basil instead - prefer it)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
8 rib lamb chops (3/4 inch thick; 2 lb)
Garnish: lemon wedges

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer paste to a food processor and pulse with sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, coriander, cayenne, parsley, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper until finely chopped. Blend in butter and lemon juice, then season with salt. (I made the butter the night before - wrapped in wax paper to shape and chilled)
Preheat broiler. Lightly oil rack of a broiler pan.
Pat lamb chops dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (total), then broil on rack of broiler pan 4 to 5 inches from heat, turning once, 6 to 7 minutes total for medium-rare. Spread tomato butter over chops.

Penne with Feta and Spring Vegetables

This recipe came from Everyday Food. It was great as a dish for our Mothers Day Feast!

Serves 4
Coarse salt and ground pepper
12 ounces penne rigate (ridged) I used whole wheat
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 pound peeled and deveined frozen shrimp, thawed omitted
8 ounces snow peas, trimmed and halved on the diagonal
3 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves


In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook penne 5 minutes less than al dente. Add asparagus; cook 3 minutes. Add shrimp and snow peas; cook 2 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta mixture, and return to pot.
To pasta mixture, add oil, lemon juice, garlic, and cup reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Gently mix in feta and mint; adjust to desired consistency with some pasta water as needed. Serve immediately.

I also added about 1/2 a package of cooked bacon - yum!

BEST Tomato Soup EVAH!

I adore tomato soup. LOVE.IT. Ive tried to make it a few times and it was always good... but not stellar. This one though takes the cake. What is the secret? Well I think there are two. One - the sherry. It gave the soup a great flavor! Second - anything with this amount of butter and cream cant HELP but be good! ;)

I got the recipe from the Pioneer Woman... her stuff always looks great!

Sherried Tomato Soup

6 tablespoons melted butter

1 medium onion, diced

1 46-ounce bottle or can tomato juice

2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes

1 to 3 tablespoons chicken base

3 to 6 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

Black Pepper

1 cup cooking sherry

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

chopped fresh parsley

chopped fresh basil

Saute diced onions in butter until transluscent. Add canned tomatoes. Add tomato juice, sugar, pinch of salt, and black pepper and stir. Bring to a near boil, then turn off heat. Add in sherry and cream and stir. Add in parsley and basil to taste, adjust other seasoning, and serve!

I omitted the parsley.

Mother's Day Menu

This (and a few more recipes to come) illustrates HOW badly I fell off the blogging wagon last month! OOPS!

For Mother's Day, we had my parents, grandpa, and siblings over for a late lunch. The menu was great (if I do say so myself!), went over well, everything came out well (always a worry when cooking for a crowd) and was good for time management - I didnt have to KILL myself to get it all done one time!

So what was this fab menu you ask?

10 Grain Rolls
Tomato Basil Soup
Fruit Platter - Pineapple, Mango, and Strawberries tossed with some lime juice and mint
Pasta with Feta and Asparagus and Snow Peas
Lamb Chops with Sundried Tomato Butter


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Homegrown Gourmet NINE

Last month, Katie at KBK Bakery was our fabulous host for Homegrown Gourmet, volume 8: Peanut Butter.
Let me first back up. Many moons ago, Erika at Bean's Bistro started this challenge with the mighty sandwich. Her idea was to highlight local cuisine, local products, local whatever! Each month(ish) we are treated to a culinary themed tour!

So far, we have been challenged by sandwiches, soups, pies/tarts, stews, quick breads and breakfast, potatos, and peanut butter. Lucky me, I am hosting my second time! I wanted to try to come up with something that would allow everyone some creativity, let us really flex our collective homegrown muscles! I have been wrestling with my choice for the past 48 hours... drinks? Burgers? cookies? Salad? Pizza? What to do, what to do... Finally I decided, I kept coming back to it. A dish that can be really customized in a million ways... something that exists in so many cultures around the world...







Ready for it?








You sure???








Drumroll please...

















Noodley goodness! It can be spaghetti or penne or raviolis or any other pasta that strikes your fancy. It can be homemade if you are so inclined, or from the store but just make sure that your dish, somehow, is HomeGrown Gourmet!


1. Anyone can play!

2. A theme will be picked by the host. Participants will make a dish that follows the theme and that somehow represents their home region - town, state, area. Representation can feature a local ingredient, be a traditional dish from your area, or be a creative twist.

3. Participants will have 3-4 weeks (host discretion) to complete their recipes and post them to their blog (or email the pics and text), and notify the host. The host will then post the results and then let everyone know via email or message board the results are up!

4. An explanation of your dish is required; it can be a story about the local custom or ingredient, how you came about eating/making the recipe, or an explanation about how your creative dish fits the theme.

5. Fresh and local foods are encouraged!

6. When the round is done, the host will announce their favorite dish by updating their blog. Favorite is completely subjective to the host- no one expects the host to make and taste test all the dishes, it is just something that strikes the host’s fancy! The creator of the fave gets the honor of hosting the next round, if they so choose!

To participate in Homegrown Gourmet #9, create a pasta dish that somehow relates to your home. Post about it in your blog and tell the world what makes your recipe Homegrown… be sure to link back to this post. Then send me an email at megpug at gmail dot com with “Homegrown Gourmet 9″ in the subject line. I will reply to all emails to confirm receipt (so if you dont get a reply, comment and let me know!)

Please include the following in your e-mail: your name, your location, your blog name and URL, and a permalink to your entry. Don’t forget to attach a picture (preferably 250 x 250) of your dish to the email if you dont blog! (Not a blogger and still want to enter? Why aren’t you blogging already? Come on, you know you want to do it. All the cool kids are doing it these days… what? still no? Ok, email me all the details and I’ll post for you.)

Deadline for the event is MONDAY JUNE 30 2008!!
*NOTE: Extended Deadline!!*

Amano Chocolate!

MMMMMMMMM Chocolate... I was lucky enough to be a winner for Blake Make's most recent chocolate giveaway! That meant that I got a lovely little package of 3 (thats right, not 1... not 2... THREE!) bars of fabulous dark Amano Chocolates. WOW. Very yummy! Many other winners have made brownies, cakes, etc... me? I couldnt do it. Really good dark choloate like this, to me, is meant to be enjoyed in its purest form :)

I am almost done with the third bar now. I have enjoyed a little corner here and a piece there mostly at night as a bedtime treat. And treat it is! This chocolate is great! My favorite was the Madagascar one - smooth with no acidity. And I loved the packaging - I felt like Willy Wonka pulling out that bright gold! Love it and thanks!

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatos

I pulled this recipe from Everyday Food last fall and boy I am glad I hung onto it! It was SO. GOOD. The flavors were just perfect. The cinammon and ginger came through without being overpowering (as I sometimes find fresh ginger can be) thanks to simmering in the stew whole. This was a great great meal, I would highly recommend! Easy, quick, and yummy for something healthy and different!

Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Serves 4
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 piece fresh ginger (2 inches long), peeled
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Pinch of saffron (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup couscous
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Place flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper; dredge in flour, shaking off excess. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add chicken, and cook until browned, 4 to 6 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.
Add onion, ginger, and cinnamon to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Return chicken to pot. Add broth, sweet potatoes, and, if using, saffron. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sweet potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Discard ginger and cinnamon. Stir in lemon juice, and season stew with salt and pepper.
While stew is simmering, prepare couscous according to package instructions. Serve chicken stew with couscous, garnished with cilantro, if desired.

I did use saffron (had some in the pantry already) and the cilantro.

Chicken-Fajita Tostadas

This recipe comes from Everyday Food - I made it for cinco de mayo (yeah... Im a bit behind :( )It was very very good! Original recipe follows, only change was that I mistakenly mixed all the salsa in with the veggies - by accident but it turned out well!
Prep: 10 minutesTotal: 45 minutes
Serves 4
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1 box (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels
1 cup prepared fresh salsa
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
4 corn tortillas (6-inch)
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. On foil, combine onions, bell peppers, corn, 1/4 cup salsa, and 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.
Roast, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Add chicken, stir to combine, and continue to roast until warmed through, 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken and vegetable mixture to a serving bowl, discarding foil (reserve sheet).
Arrange tortillas on sheet. Dividing evenly, brush with remaining tablespoon oil; top with cheese. Bake until edges are golden and cheese is melted, 5 to 8 minutes.
Dividing evenly, top tortillas with chicken-vegetable mixture and remaining 3/4 cup salsa. Serve with cilantro-lime rice, if desired.