Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I enjoyed the holiday, but I'm glad it's over! I have cooked a ton, but haven't had time to post. I took lots of pictures and finally put them on some of my older posts. I'm also working on a few new posts, and I'll get them up very soon! This is a photo of my dining/kitchen area at the beginning of prep for two days of cooking.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Pot Pasta

The other night I just wanted to make something simple and fast, so I chose this easy pasta dish. I had never made it before, but I found it in Martha Stewart's "Everyday Food" magazine. It was so simple that there weren't even measurements!

1 box penne noodles
fresh broccoli
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large pot boil penne 6 minutes less than al dente; add broccoli florets, and cook until penne is al dente. Drain; return to the pot, and toss with a couple of crushed garlic cloves, some olive oil, the zest and juice of a lemon, salt and pepper and plenty of parmesan. That's it. Very simple.

I liked this dish, but felt it really needed something more. I think I might try serving it again in the spring or summer, but next time I will serve it cold with some grilled chicken breasts on top. More like a pasta salad with chicken. Let me know if you try it and what variations you come up with!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wasabi Pea Crusted Salmon w/ Honey-Ginger Roasted Carrots

A couple of weeks ago we stopped by the Catonsville Gourmet Market to pick up some truffle butter. They no longer carried it, and it was a crucial ingredient in that evening's meal, but the owner was nice enough to give me a small ramekin of truffle oil free of charge. He suggested that I try infusing butter with the oil. Then as we were checking out everything else they had we saw some containers of wasabi pea crust. I'm sure I could make this on my own, but since I have no food processor, I figured I would give their's a try. (I had to make the truffle butter using my blender! I really hope Santa brings me a new food processor!)

Anyway, last night I decided to make salmon crusted with the wasabi peas, roasted carrots, glazed with honey and powdered ginger and a simple steamed white rice.

Wasabi Crusted Salmon
4 salmon steaks or 1 large fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup crushed wasabi peas
1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the egg with 1 tbsp water. Dip each piece of salmon in the egg wash and press, skin side up, into wasabi pea crust. Carefully place in a baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray, skin side down. Bake for 20 minutes, or until opaque throughout.

Honey-Ginger Glazed Carrots
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
powdered ginger
olive oil
Coarse ground salt and pepper

Place carrots in a separate baking dish. Sprinkle with powdered ginger, salt and pepper. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil (1tbsp?) and a generous amount of honey (1/4 cup?). Stir well and bake in oven at 350 for about 20 minutes.

I don't always use measurements. Most of the time I just eyeball the amounts. You can always use more or less to suit your tastes. I also like my carrots crispy. I cannot stand eating over cooked carrots. They could have gone a little longer, but I thought they were great just the way they were.

I really only made two pieces of salmon this way. My husband and I love salmon, but my father and brother also live with us. Dad likes salmon, but hates peas of any sort. My brother hates all fish. So, because I like to make sure they all eat well, I made one piece of salmon and one piece of chicken that I baked and glazed with a mixture of soy, teryaki, honey and lemon juice.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bacon and Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Maple Glaze

This recipe is something that I found a couple of years ago on the internet, but I have changed a few things to suit my taste. These can also be cooked on a grill if you have the means to do that. Please enjoy!

1 cup butter (softened/room temp)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond or hazelnut extract (I have never been able to find hazelnut extract)
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups cooked bacon, crumbled (About 2 lbs. Do not use bacos! It's just not the same. I prefer to use maple bacon, but use whatever you like.)
1/2 lb. cooked bacon strips

Maple Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp maple extract (Do not try to use syrup. It won't work)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water

-In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars, extracts and eggs until creamy. In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to butter/suger mixture one spoonful at a time until it is all well mixed.
-Mix in the bacon crumbles and chocolate chips. Stir until well integrated. Roll in a sheet of wax paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
-Remove dough from refrigerator. Pinch off dough and roll into small balls. About 1 tbsp each. Set dough balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten balls slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow cookies to cool a bit on a cooling rack while you make the glaze.

Maple Glaze
-Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy with no lumps. You may need to add 1 more tbsp of water. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze on top of cookies. Press a small peice of crisp bacon on top of glaze for garnish.

* I made these for my family this holiday season and there are a few people with nut allergies. I just doubled the vanilla extract and omitted the nut extract. They were still awesome! In fact, I think I like them better. The almond extract is really powerful.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hearts of Palm Risotto

I really like risotto and hearts of palm, so I figured I would blend the two!

2 tbsp evoo
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 hearts of palm, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

-In a large sautee pan melt 1 tbsp butter with evoo on medium heat. Cook onions until transparent (about 3 minutes). Add rice and allow evoo and butter to be absorbed. Add wine(if using). Allow wine to cook for about 3 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Lower temp to medium-low. Add 1 cup of broth. Stir often while rice absorbs broth. Continue adding broth one cup at a time until fully absorbed and rice is tender. You may need a little more or less than 3 cups of broth. Just before serving add the additional tbsp of butter, hearts of palm, parsley and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Risotto gets gummy if it sits for too long. Enjoy!

This recipe is only vegetarian if you use vegetable broth!!! (Sorry, but there are some people out there who would not know this!)


So I have been cooking for my family for quite a while now and I've finally decided to start a blog. This way when someone asks me for one of my recipes I can just point them to my blog for instructions. I really love to try different things with food all the time. I get so bored with the same old thing all the time so I'm always searching the web or my many recipe books for inspiration and new ideas. Once I have a new recipe I always try to modify it a bit so that I can make it mine. Sometimes this turns out well, other times, not so much. Welcome to my kitchen adventures!