Monday, March 26, 2012

Southwestern Chicken Tortilla Stew

Is anybody else singing Zou Bisou this morning? What did you think of Mad Men last night? I enjoyed it but two hours without Betty...what's up with that?
And on to cooking- I made this stew (although I turned it into more of a soup by adding more broth. It has just the right amount of kick to it and with all my favorite toppings it's oh so yummy.

The recipe is from Suzanne over at Thru The Bugs On My Windshield.

Happy Monday Everyone!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Clam Chowder- how do you like it?

When the weather is nice we head to our favorite beach spot Andrias for clam chowder. I've noticed people are very particular about how they like it. Plain, oyster crackers, pepper, extra salt, hot sauce, or malt vinegar....I'm sure there are other preferences too. I like it will tons of oyster crackers and hot sauce. So so good.

My hubby walking away from his crazy wife who won't put her camera down. Fortunately for him, I ran out of battery power right after this photo was taken.

How do you like you clam chowder? Do you have a favorite warm weather hang-out?

Hey It's Ok Tuesday

I'm teaming up with Amber for Hey It's OK Tuesday

Hey It's OK....

...that my husband would only let me buy one tomato plant. I've yet to keep a plant alive so if I can prove this one will be ok, maybe I'll get to buy another one.

When I water it I always say "please don't die." So far so good.

...that I didn't have green beer or corned beef an cabbage for St.Patricks Day. I just wasn't feeling it this year. stay up until 2am reading and sleep in until noon. Yay for being an adult without kids. For now. Have you read Hunger Games yet? It's like Twilight all over again for me. want to see 21 Jump Street. The previews look funny. curse like a sailor when I play Super Mario Bros on the Wii. Stupid coins are so hard to get. just now remember I need to go water my plant. Ooops.

Beef with Smoked Almonds- it's what's for dinner.

Do you remember the Beef- It's What's for Dinner, commercial? Is it still on the air? Ever since the DVR came into my house, I refuse to watch commercials. Anyway, my hubby loves steak but we all know the consequences of eating too much red meat so we keep it once a week or less and when I make it I want it to be truly delicious and worth it. Giada's spaghetti with beef, smoked almonds and basil will make you want to lick your plate clean. It's that good.

Spaghetti with Beef, Smoked Almonds and Basil

by Giada De Laurentiis


  • 1 pound (1-inch thick) beef tenderloin steaks *see Cook's Note
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup chopped smoked almonds
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves


Place an oven rack in the upper 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Place the steaks on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the Herbes de Provence on both sides of the steaks and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes for medium-well. Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, basil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Process until the mixture is coarsely chopped.
Place the cooked pasta, tomato mixture and smoked almonds in a large serving bowl. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped basil. Slice the steaks into 1/4-inch thick slices and serve alongside the pasta.
*Cook's Note: The steaks can also be grilled over medium-high heat on a preheated grill pan or gas or charcoal grill for about 5 minutes each side.

Do you limit your red meat intake? 

Curried Couscous- great work lunch dish

This started out as a side dish for grilled chicken I made one night and ended up being a perfect lunch for work. I'm not a big sandwich fan so I'm always looking for recipes I can make to take for lunch. This is really yummy cold and keeps well in the fridge.

I left out the carrots (I don't like them), red onion and parsley (I didn't have any on hand). I swapped the currants for diced dried apricots. Delicious!

Curried Couscous

by Ina Garten


  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup small-diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
  • 1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup small-diced red onion


Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

What do you take for lunch to work?

Giada's Chicken Marsala

Giada's chicken marsala takes an interesting twist with mustard and mascarpone. I actually prefer this recipe a the traditional chicken marsala. It's easy and quick enough to make on a weeknight so it's definitely in my rotation of dinners. I serve it over noodles with garlic bread on the side.

A chicken dish that photographs well? A first for me.

 Season both sides with salt and pepper, then saute in olive oil.

Saute mushrooms, garlic and onions.

Add marsala, mustard and marscapone.

 Serve over noodles, make sure to spoon plenty of sauce over the top. It's the best part.

Sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!

Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone Marsala Sauce

by Giada De Laurentiis


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus whole sprigs, for garnish
  • 12 ounces dried fettuccine


Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cool slightly.
While the chicken cools, melt 2 tablespoons of butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss the fettuccine with 3 tablespoons of butter and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Swirl the fettuccine onto serving plates. Spoon the chicken mixture over top. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve.

Have you ever had chicken marsala?

Cheddar Dill Scones- Barefoot Contessa

Happy Sunday! Are you recovering from a green beer induced hangover or maybe a corned beef food coma? I hope you had a great St.Patricks Day. It was raining here all day yesterday so I spent it cozied up on the couch and baking in the kitchen. How do you like to spend a rainy day? Maybe baking something with so much butter and cream that you vow to spend the rest of the week exercising? Such as these Cheddar Dill Scones....flaky, cheesy and oh so good.

Cheddar Dill Scones- Barefoot Contessa


  • 4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 extra-large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 pound extra-sharp yellow Cheddar, small-diced
  • 1 cup minced fresh dill
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine 4 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Mix the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine until just blended. Toss together the Cheddar, dill, and 1 tablespoon of flour and add them to the dough. Mix until they are almost incorporated.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it for 1 minute, until the Cheddar and dill are well distributed. Roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch squares and then in half diagonally to make triangles. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Yogurt Cake with Pistachios

As soon as I tasted this cake (or Lebanese pudding) all I could say was "oh yum." In a long drawn out, it's just too delicious for only two syllables way ooooohhhhhh yuuuuummmmmm...... The flavor reminds me of a creamiscle and the pudding/cake texture is light, soft, moist and addictive. I had some every night until it was gone since keeps quite nicely in the fridge and I couldn't reason eating it all in one seating, even though I wanted to. I'll definitely be adding this to my recipe files to make again.

The recipe comes from the LA Times.

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 6

Note: Adapted from "Moro" by Sam and Sam Clark. They write, "This Lebanese pudding is delicious warm or chilled. Some fruit on the side, although not necessary, is a nice addition.

3 eggs, separated

1/4 cup plus 3 1/2 tablespoons superfine sugar, divided

2 vanilla pods, split in half lengthwise

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, plus extra for serving

Finely grated zest 1/2 orange

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachio nuts

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan (solid, not a springform) and line the base with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with 5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of the sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods and beat into the egg mixture. Beat in the yogurt, orange and lemon zest, lemon juice and flour until incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form. Gently and evenly, fold the whites into the yogurt mixture. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake pan.

4. Place the cake pan in a larger roasting pan, allowing for at least 1 inch clearance on all sides. Place the roasting pan in the oven and pour in boiling water halfway up the filled tin.

5. Bake the cake for 20 minutes. Quickly but gently sprinkle the pistachios evenly over the top of the cake, then continue baking until the top of the cake is lightly browned, about 20 more minutes. The correct consistency of the cake should be a light sponge on top with a moist custard below. Serve the cake with yogurt.

Each serving: 199 calories; 7 grams protein; 23 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 9 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 113 mg. cholesterol; 48 mg. sodium.

I baked it in a square pan rather than round because honestly I was too lazy to cut out the parchment in a perfect round shape to fit the pan. The square shape also worked well for storing in Tupperware in the fridge.

Have you ever baked a cake with yogurt?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spaghetti with Red Sauce and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs is one of those dishes that I love but have never actually made myself, until now.
We had friends over for dinner recently so that afternoon I poured myself a glass of wine, rolled up my sleeves and got to work on a delicious dish of spaghetti with red sauce and spicy meatballs.
The photo doesn't do it justice and since I was in a hurry to dig in I didn't take the time to properly "stage" my food. There are 2 meatballs featured here but one seems to be hiding.
I found the recipe on TasteFood. She adapted a recipe from Ina Garten, my favorite chef, and the results are too yummy. My only change- I used 1/2 ground beef and half spicy Italian sausage.

Make sure you choose a wine that you would drink. You may want to buy an extra bottle for your guests if you're like me and you don't pay attention to how much you're drinking while cooking.

I pureed my tomatoes in the food processor since I like a smoother sauce rather than chunky.

Use your hands to gently combine the meatball ingredients. Hey, it's fun to play with your food.


This is my first time participating in the Crazy Cooking Challenge. Are you participating? Next month the challenge is blueberry muffins, can't wait!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars That Travel Well

These granola bars are the perfect snack or even dessert as my grandma likes to eat them.  I made them especially for her and since I was sending them in the mail I had to make sure they would travel well. The bars arrived to her perfectly.

You can cut them as big or little as you like. I prefer the standard long rectangle shape.

I swapped the dates for golden raisins since I couldn't find any at the store.

Guess who didn't have enough honey and had to add a little maple syrup.....still just as yummy.

I swapped flax seed and oat bran (which I already had) for wheat germ. I was going to buy it but at $5.99 a jar-no thanks.

Packaged and ready to send.

Do you send treats to your family or friends?

Homemade Granola Bars
by Ina Garten


2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed

1/2 cup toasted wheat germ

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup honey

1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped pitted dates

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

White Chocolate MM Cookies

I texted my niece last weekend "What kind of cookies do you want?" and the reponse-"White Chocolate M&M." there even such a thing? Turns out, there is. Along with pretzel, dark chocolate, coconut and a variety of other flavors that I can't remember. M&Ms sure have come a long way from milk chocolate or peanut.
Whenever I substitute candy for chocolate chips I use the standard Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe. The result this time- good but not great. Probably because I'm not a huge fan of white chocolate but everyone else seemed to love them. I want to try the pretizel ones next.

 Packaged and ready for delivery. I got these cute treat bags in the dollar section at Target.

Have you tried White Chocolate M&Ms? What did you think?