Friday, May 29, 2009

And the Winner is.........

So, last week Brook asked for some fun and different Shower menus. I posted five (at the bottom of the page) and put the menus up for vote...and the response was overwhelming NOT! With a total of 6 votes....menu 2 and 4 tied....but the winner is really the menu that Brook chose...she chose 3 because it was a bit more kid friendly. So here it is without further adieu.


Menu 3

Tortellini, parmesan, artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, red onions, and black olives; tossed in a fresh pesto mayonnaise dressing and served cold.

Juicy 16/20 shrimp poached in court bullion, served with house made cocktail sauce and served over ice. (shrimp cocktail)

Fresh and warm selection of crusty breads.

Cheese platter with choices of cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, brie, and bleu cheeses; Decorated with seasonal fresh fruits.

Tortellini Salad


2 packages tortellini, prepared
1 red pepper, julienne
1 yellow pepper, julienne
1 cup red onion, julienne
1 cup black olives, halved
½ cup green olives, sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup artichoke hearts, cut up
1 cup kidney beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup Parmesan
1 cup mayonnaise*
1 cup basil
3 cloves garlic
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup Parmesan
½ cup olive oil

In the frozen foods section of the grocery store, there is usually frozen tortellini. I prefer the frozen, but you can use the dry in the pasta isle if you wish. Combine peppers, onion, olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and beans with the cooked and cooled tortellini. In a Cuisinart,(if you do not have a Cuisinart, use a blender) combine the basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, and olive oil and pulse. Next, turn on the machine continuously and slowly add the olive oil in a very thin stream-this is called emulsification and is what makes a thick dressing instead of goopy or runny. When all of the oil is combines add about a teaspoon of salt. Take ½ of the pesto and combine it with the mayonnaise. The other half can be used for something else or you can put it in a container or zip-lock bag and frozen for another day. Mix the dressing into the salad with a few pinches of salt and 5-7 turns of fresh cracked pepper. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan, I like to buy it in a block and shave it in. Refrigerate well, and remember to keep it cold as it is a mayonnaise based dressing.
*You can use a prepared mayonnaise (if you do, I like Miracle Whip). Or, the following recipe is for my home-made mayonnaise, and of course, there is no comparison.
**you can add chicken or chilled shrimp to this if you would like, I love it just the way it is.

HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE
2 ½ cups
2 eggs
1/3 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt (coarse)
2 T lemon juice
1 c light olive oil
1 c vegetable oil

Blend well in food processor the eggs, mustard, salt, and lemon juice. Combine the oils and drop by drop add the oil to the blending mixture. As the mixture thickens allow the oil to flow in a steady slow stream. This is called emulsifying. Mixture should be thick and not oily. Store up to 7 days.

SHRIMP 101

1 lemon
4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon peppercorn
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon clove
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon salt
water to cover
About 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled
Combine all of the ingredients, excluding the shrimp, and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and remove from heat. Poach until shrimp is pink. Remove shrimp from juice and shock it in icy water. Remove from water and keep chilled.

1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
3 scallions
1 celery stalk

Combine the ketchup, lemon juice, celery, scallion, and horseradish to taste.
Serve the cold shrimp with the sauce, warm or cold.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Yes, I know sandwich is spelled wrong...lol

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shower Menu Dilemma


Hey again. I love to answer questions (if I can)....it makes me feel needed. The following question is from an old friend (she's not old), and I thought you all might find it a good one as well. Showers can be so cliche...same old food...same old games...I like to shake it up with good food that is different. Beware though....once you throw a great shower...everyone wants you to throw their shower.
Brook wrote:
I'm throwing a wedding shower for Olivia's dance coach next week. Here is my dilemma...Some of the moms are vegetarians and I will have 10 girls between the ages of 7-9. Any suggestions on a great menu everyone will love?
Well, Brook, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page you will find five possible menu choices. Every menu has vegetarian items so that everyone can find something they like. Let me know if you like any of them and I will send you recipes. Also, I have put the menus up for vote...I will post the recipes for the winning menu for everyone.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day in Day Out

Lets see...average day....wake up...wake up big kids who don't want to wake up....clean horsestalls....run the dog....do endless loads of laundry, clean....vaccum...wake up littles who don't want to wake up...breakfast and lunch the kids...clothe the littles....brush, braid, and bows.....shower and beautify myself...drive onery teen to school....boot slow moving boy out the door and cross him across the street...drive one of the littles to pre-school (singing various "Spring Program" songs all the way.....return home to find littlest of the littles has a cough and runny nose...check online to make sure she doesn't have "Swine Flu "......clean...clean...scrub...wash dishes..hug and kiss little sick child....blow her nose many times.....pick up pre-schooler....make more lunches...clean ...break up fight over Polly Pockets...muscle littles down for a nap....make dinner....water garden...dog out again....greet big kids and give them purpose for the rest of their lives(chores and stuff)....send boy off to baseball...load girls and grandma in the car....drive to barn....work and play with horses....load them all in the car again.....run to catch the end of baseball game....load them in the car again....back home...deal out nightly duties (feed the dog, set the table, homework...)...Sit down to a family dinner....break up argument with big kids over dish duty....drag littles downstairs to brush teeth and Jammie's....tuck everyone in bed...tuck littles in bed again...and again...dog out again...I am sure I missing something........
Now, don't mistake this as complaining. I know the ability to have this day is truly a blessing (yes I said it...a blessing). I know you are all busy as well...whether you work at home or away. And we all have the same dilemma..what's for dinner? Especially at this time of year it can be hard to put a home cooked meal on the table. Here is a quick and easy recipe for a chicken salad/sandwich. Somewhere in that previous ramble, I snuck in time to throw together a great dinner and this is what it was. I cooked my own chicken, but I have been known to use a rotisserie chicken from the store. Serve it with a fruit salad to finish off the meal. Good luck with your day...I hope it's a good one.



CHICKEN SALAD
4 green onions, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 crisp apples, I like granny smith or pink lady, diced
1 cup of grapes, cut in half
2 mangoes, cubed
5 cups chicken, roasted, cubed
3/4 - 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Combine onion, celery, and apple. Toss the mixture with orange juice.


Next add the grapes and mango. Do you know how to get the flesh from a mango? There is a seed/pit that runs lengthwise in the mango. It is about 1/2 inch thick. So, don't cut right through the center but instead cut on each side of the seed/pit. I also remove the small thin strip of mango remaining with a paring knife. (the seed is at the top of the third picture). Next score the mango in a criss cross pattern and then invert the mango by pushing the back of the mango toward the center. The cubes push forward and you can cut or pluck the cubes right off the rind.

Previously, I had baked 6 chicken breasts. I used bone in (but you can use boneless), seasoned them with a few pinches of salt and pepper, and baked them in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. I let them cool and then diced them. Next, add the salt, pepper, Dijon, mayo, and honey and mix all ingredients together well.
I like to serve this as a salad, but it also makes a great sandwich as well. It is supper yummy on a croissant but any bread will do.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gonna Bake Pie...Gonna Bake a Pie...Gonna Bake a Pie With a heart in the Middle..

Hello there! I have been so busy these last couple of weeks. School is winding up and there is so much going on...I am sure you can relate. But busy or not, I have some great recipes in store for you in coming weeks. I just finished a fabulous class on pies, one of which is the following beauty. Key lime pie is such a classic summertime dessert. I have made far more complicated Key Lime pie recipes, but I love the classic flavor offered by this easy recipe. Honestly, you can whip it up in 20 minutes! (of course that does not include baking time) So if you are not familiar with the Key Lime, it is smaller, seedier, has a higher acidity, a stronger aroma, and a thinner rind than the typical Persian Lime. Now, I am going to commit some sort of sin I think by sharing this little secret.....if you can't find any fresh key limes...Nellie and Joe's Key Lime Juice is pretty darn good. I have been known to use it...and when I do, I just grate the zest from a typical lime into the custard. It looks like this:

Oh, and did I tell you the crust has pretzels in it? Salty with the sweet and tart...ooooh yea baby! So here you go, one of my favorite, and easiest recipes posted yet. Please enjoy!
KEY LIME PIE


Crust
10 graham crackers, crushed
¾ cup pretzels, crushed
¼ cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Custard
2 cans sweet and condensed milk
Zest of two limes
1 cup key lime juice
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
Pinch of salt

In a food processor, pulse together the crackers, pretzels, sugar, and butter.

Pulse together all of the ingredients until they just come together. Press into a 9 or 10 inch pie dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven when golden brown and let cool completely.

Combine the sweet and condensed, zest, juice, eggs, vanilla, and salt.
Pour into crust and bake for 20- 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and cool completely.
How easy was that?! I used to add a meringue to this...but I have found my favorite way to serve Key Lime pie is with just a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Deeeelish!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Chicken Picatta Cappelini

Here is a fun recipe you have to try.

CHICKEN PICATTA CAPELLINI
2 whole skinless boneless chicken breast
3 Tbsp. flour
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp. pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon drained bottled capers, chopped
4 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Halve the chicken pieces with a sharp knife and flatten them slightly between sheets of plastic wrap. Pound the chicken with a tenderizer (don’t beat it silly and cause holes) flatten the chicken to about half its original thickness. In a pie dish, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper and paprika and dredge the medallions in it. In a large heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil over moderately high heat until the foam subsides and sauté the chicken pieces for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a platter and keep it warm, covered loosely. Pour off the fat in the skillet. To the skillet add the remaining 2 tablespoon butter, the wine, and the lemon juice, and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the capers, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and return the chicken to the pan and cook for one minute. Slice the chicken into strips. Serve over julienne vegetables and capellini pasta.

Julienne Vegetables and Capellini
1 cup julienne yellow squash
1 cup julienne zucchini
½ cup julienne red pepper
½ cup julienne red onion
½ cup julienne carrot
2 cups cooked capellini pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the carrot, onion and red pepper for about two minutes, or until the vegetables begin to get tender. Add the squash and zucchini and sauté for just about a minute more. Lastly, add the butter and capellini. Toss and sprinkle with salt and pepper.