Monthly Archives: October 2012

guess who’s coming to dinner…

I’m always happy for uninvited guests, but Sandy is one guest I could do without… she has put a total wrench in our Halloween festivities and not to mention my ability to focus on meals for this weekend and into early next week. Depending on if we have power or not, I may not be posting for the next few days, but I’m going to take this as a challenge… if we lose power and need to rough it, I may need to get a bit creative with my meals.
Might just turn out to be a candlelight dinner for two after all… Stay tuned and be safe…

at a low simmer…
-R

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Party platter… for two!

It has been a while since a beautiful platter of creamy, fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, vibrant basil and salty prosciutto has made an appearance across our vast island…
So I decided that would be just what we would be enjoying tonight! The silky, milky fresh mozz and salty prosciutto came from my favorite Italian specialty shop, while the basil and tomatoes from our local market.
I sliced the tomatoes and fresh mozz just thick enough, and dotted the platter with the basil and prosciutto… To finish off the platter, some fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.
Two hearty loaves of Italian breads got sliced up [one seeded, one seedless… that’s how we roll in this house] and it was time to enjoy!
A gorgeous, rich finishing oil and balsamic reduction were used to just drizzle across these little beauties and enhance the flavors, yet not steal the show…

at a low simmer…
-R

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one pudgie lil’ piggie…

So tonight I felt like a thick, hearty pork chop! Not just any ‘chops’, but nice, thick-cut ‘chops’ stuffed with ground sausage, garlic, provolone, prosciutto and parsley. This beautiful stuffing was generously packed into each side pocket…
To start cooking, I began with a screaming hot cast iron skillet and a touch of olive oil. Into that pan went my beautiful ‘chops’ to get an insanely gorgeous sear! Once both sides were seared, it was into the oven for about forty minutes until the stuffing was cooked through. To prevent drying out the ‘chops’, a nice dash of white wine went into the pan and tight seal of foil on top.
After the cooking commenced, a quick transfer to our plates and all that was left to do was dig into these mammoth cuts of meat… boy not only were those ‘chops’ stuffed!

at a low simmer…
-R

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a twist on pizza…

After much thought, I decided that a French bread style pizza was perfect for tonight’s dinner…
Rather than mozz and sauce, broccoli rabe sautéed in oil and garlic covered in a mildly flavored provolone was the way to go!
The b-rabe was cooked the usual way I prepare it, then layered evenly on toasted bread. On top of the b-rabe went some sliced provolone; tossed into the oven until the cheese melted and we were ready to dive into this meal…
Crunchy and light bread, garlicky and spicy [from that hit of crushed red pepper] b-rabe, with a slight bite from the provolone…
This dish was filling and satisfying, while not overly stuffing us!

at a low simmer…
-R

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tonight we went for seconds…

For a lighter weeknight meal, I decided on some grilled chicken breast on bed of crunchy romaine with dried cranberries and shredded cheddar.
The chicken was moist and full of flavor, while the romaine cold and crisp! The dried cranberries were both sweet and tart, the cheddar offered a slight bite.
This is definitely a meal where seconds are allowed, and perhaps even encouraged!

at a low simmer…
-R

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sticky and sweet…

After realizing I had a container of heavy cream in the refrigerator that needed to be used, the thought of making a caramel sauce popped into my head…
Easy enough to make and can hold up well, the process began… sugar, water, a touch of salt, vanilla and of course the cream then we were on the way to sensual, sticky, caramely delight!
One thing I cannot stress enough is the need to have a candy thermometer available because this cooking process goes pretty quick, and can go from gorgeous to the garbage in the blink of an eye…
Once everything is cooked, it needs to cool down before any real enjoyment can be had. The uses are endless and if you ask yourself, ‘can I use caramel here’, then more than likely the answer is YES!
From ice cream to popcorn, rice krispie treats to fruit, the possibilities are at your fingertips… have fun with it!

at a low simmer…
-R

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Breakfast baking!

So when I woke up this am, I had a hankering for some warm, fresh muffins! What better to make a batch of than pumpkin muffins… After a surprise treat a few days ago of these same muffins from a dear friend who lives in my neighborhood, I just had to make a batch!
All it takes is flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice [be forewarned this stuff is NOT cheap], baking soda, sugar, eggs, olive oil [I got this little tip from my friend], orange juice and of course pumpkin!
All of the dry ingredients are sifted [minus the sugar] into a bowl, while the sugar and the wet ingredients are added to the standing mixer.
The wet ingredients were beaten until combined; then the dry was gently added in and mixed on low speed until just incorporated. Then a few go-arounds with the spatula to ensure we were good and nothing was unmixed!
Two lined muffin pans got ice cream scoopfuls of this heavenly scented batter, a quick smack on the counter and it was into the oven for a half hour. During the baking, the house filled up with an incredible scent of fall spiciness… the muffins were done once a toothpick came out clean!
Who could wait till they cooled down? Not us, we broke them open, while still warm and steaming…
Thank goodness this batch made twenty-four because we’re hooked!

at a low simmer…
-R

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here’s to satisfying that sweet tooth!

As a special after-dinner treat, I thought why waste those calories on a piece of cake or a crumbly cookie… instead why not just delve into the seductive and lethal world of a martini!
This isn’t just an ordinary martini though, rather a rich and silky concoction that with each sip offered the ability to breakdown those barriers and be a little naughty…
Godiva chocolate liqueur, hazlenut liqueur, creme de cacao and vodka all go into a shaker with just a bit of ice. Really go at it and whip that drink up in there, and what pours out… a frothy, velvety smooth little devil! To top off, some simple shavings of dark chocolate…
Sipped slowly, but enjoyed fully this sexy little libation should come with a warning label…

***instead of the chocolate shavings, you can play around and rim the glass with some chopped hazelnuts and sugar***

at a low simmer…
-R

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uh oh… my soup bowl has a ‘leek’

As the evening set in and the air became a bit brisk, the idea of soup for dinner ran through my head…
This past Sunday, I was given a beautiful leek and thought making a potato and leek soup was the perfect way to use this mildly flavored veggie!
To start cooking up this soup, I rendered some pancetta. Once browned, the pancetta was put aside, while the chopped leeks and some minced garlic got a quick sauté in the pancetta fat. After cooking till softened, in went a quart of chicken broth, some water, along with five peeled and cubed yukon gold potatoes. Everything was brought to a boil, then reduced down to a simmer. As soon as the potatoes were fork tender, I puréed them with an immersion blender and then added in a touch of cream, as well as some shredded extra sharp cheddar for a bit of richness…
Back into the soup went some of the pancetta for texture and flavor. Once heated through, it was time to eat!
Creamy, velvety, slightly crunchy and perfectly seasoned… this soup warmed us completely! Seconds were definitely in order…

at a low simmer…
-R

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a pie doesn’t always have to be for dessert!

So a chicken pot pie seemed like a great warming meal to make tonight. Large chunks of chicken breast, diced carrots, chopped onions, peas, homemade chicken stock, salt, pepper, flour and puff pastry brought this dish together!
I started by roasting the chicken in the oven for about forty-five minutes. Once cool enough to handle, I removed the skin and then cut the chicken into decent, yet mouth-sized chunks. For the filling, onions were sautéed in some butter until softened. Then flour was rained in and stirred until completely smoothed out! Next, I added hot chicken stock and stirred continuously until thickened. From this point, the carrots, peas and chicken were added in and stirred until coated with this luxurious sauce..
The filling was then added into oven-safe bowls, topped off with puff pastry and brushed lightly with an egg wash to help everything brown beautifully while baking. Fresh ground pepper and fleur de sel offered a lovely final touch to the puff pastry!
After baking in the oven for about an hour, out came a piping hot, bubbling, golden pot of flaky delight… Lastly, it was time to crack into the top of the shell and scoop out the steaming hot, creamy filling and start to devour!
This was one satisfying meal, but I sure could have went for seconds…

at a low simmer…
-R

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