Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Made "Fish & Chips"

I probably say this more frequently than I realize but this was one of the BEST meals we have EVER eaten.  Maybe I should look back and see if my description fits with anything healthy….I'm sure it does, right?!  The Barefoot Contessa, while preparing for a seafood dinner on a dock in East Hampton, whipped up Fish & Chips and I was destined to attempt it.  Pregnancy has limited my seafood intake and I have definitely met my quota for the week!  Did I mention we are expecting a baby in April?  It's true - and now blog official.  I don't see the effort this meal took happening with an infant around, i.e. 360 degree oil in a frying pan and batter everywhere.  But I know now that I can do it and it is worth every splash of hot oil that ended up on my arms and clothes!

  • 2 large baking potatoes, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 recipe Baked "Chips", recipe follows

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Scrub the potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, then cut each half in thirds lengthwise. You'll have 6 long wedges from each potato.  Or cut as many pieces as you would like to have extra.  

  • Place the potatoes on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together, making sure the potatoes are covered with oil. Spread the potatoes in a single layer with 1 cut side down.

  • Bake the potatoes for 30 to 35 minutes, turning to the other cut side after 20 minutes. Bake until they are lightly browned, crisp outside, and tender inside. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

  • "Fish"
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh cod fillets (choose thick ones)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Whisk in 1/2 cup of water and then the egg.

With about 10-15 minutes left on the "chips", begin preparing the oil for your "fish".  Pour 1/2-inch of oil into a large (12-inch) frying pan and heat it to about 360 degrees F.

Dip each fillet into the batter, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl. Place it very carefully into the hot oil. Don't crowd the pieces.  Use tongs to place each piece in the hot oil, to avoid excess oil splattering on your skin.  Adjust the heat as needed to keep the oil between 360 and 400 degrees F. 

Cook the fish on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the "chips."
Lay the cod fillets on a cutting board. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Cut the fillets in 1 1/2 by 3-inch pieces.

What I would do next time:
Buy a candy thermometer for heating the oil vs. using a meat thermometer 
that only goes up to 180 degrees

We were thinking last night what couple would enjoy this meal…stay tuned for a dinner invite!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Catered a Fall Breakfast & Lunch

I had another opportunity to cater this month for the same group as last month.  I guess they liked the Green Chili Egg Fluff Casserole.  So this time around I went for two of their meals to see if I could handle the load.  It was fun and beside burning one batch of bacon and throwing a breaker everything went off without a hitch.  Thankful for our electrician who was already scheduled to stop by the house that day : )    

Quite a few facebook friends have asked me about these catering "gigs" and if I am doing it full-time.  For now, I am just cooking out of my kitchen for this one small group but open to other opportunities as they might present themselves.  If only I had an industrial size kitchen, a grocery store next door and all the essential catering equipment.  We will see where it goes but in the meantime I love cooking for others!

On the Menu: Hash Brown Potato Brunch Casserole & Homemade Biscuits for breakfast and for lunch, Hawaiian Sandwiches and a beautiful Autumn Salad.

 Breakfast casserole prepping 15 slices of bacon and 20 eggs!!!

 Just looking like plan sandwiches at this point…just wait!

My favorite salad about to take shape.

Again the Hawaiian Sandwiches and Autumn Salad were served at a wedding shower at our home last November and since then every time they have been served are a hit!  Did I mention the Glazed Pecans?!  Amazing!!!

And for the Hash Brown Potato Brunch Casserole - you have to try this!!  A great breakfast item for your Thanksgiving house guests.  

15 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
20 eggs
2 cups milk
1, 32 oz. package frozen hash browns, thawed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove to paper towels, drain grease, reserving 2 tablespoons.  Crumble or chop bacon and set aside.  In same skillet, saute onion and green pepper in 2 tablespoons leftover grease, until tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  In a large bowl whisk eggs and milk.  Stir in hash browns, cheese, salt, pepper, onion mixture and bacon.  Pour into greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until firm and liquid is cooked through.  

Until my next "gig"...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Catered Breakfast!!!!

Last week I had the opportunity to fulfill my first "catering" request.  Grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking for a little extra cash!!  I planned breakfast for two separate groups, who needed a hearty start to their day.  On the menu: Green Chile Egg Fluff Casserole & Sweet Fruit Salad.

 A busy kitchen with bulk ingredients and my trusty laptop to guide me.

Green Chile Egg Fluff Casserole

10 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pint cottage cheese
1 lb. grated, Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 lb. grated, Monterey Jack Cheese
2 small cans, chopped green chilies
1/3 c. melted butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees*.  In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs well.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour contents of bowl into 9x13, buttered baking dish.  Bak in a 325-degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until firm.  
*If making ahead of time and refrigerate overnight, baking time will increase with a cold product.

 Day 1 Fruit Salad layered in a trifle bowl: grapes, strawberries, blueberries & raspberries.

 Day 2 Fruit Salad with Mint: pineapple chunks, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, peaches & minced, mint leaves.

The food looked great now all I had to do was securely pack everything in the car for the North Dallas delivery.  A great first experience that gave me confidence in future opportunities!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Made Sweet Potato, Bacon & Egg Salad

 More Paleo creativity and blind trust.  The boiled eggs and dill threw me on this one...
As I was cooking this up in the kitchen I kept telling B to have low expectations and I had no idea what this was going to taste like.  I threw out our favorite, local restaurant as Plan B.  To both of our surprise it is one of our FAVORITE PALEO meals to date.

1 small to medium sweet potato, diced
2 eggs
8 slices of bacon, diced
1 tbs. coconut oil
4 tbsp. dill, finely chopped
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Place eggs in small saucepan, cover with cold water, cover pan and place on high heat until just before boiling.  Remove from heat and let sit covered for 13 minutes.  Immediately rinse in cold water, peel and slice eggs and set aside.

Meanwhile, dice sweet potato.  Heat skillet over medium-heat.  When hot, add bacon and cook for 5 minutes.  Add diced sweet potato and continue to cook until potato is tender and bacon is fully cooked. 

 In a small bowl, mix dill, mayonnaise and lemon juice.  

Add eggs, sweet potato and bacon, and mix.  Serve warm or cold. 

This makes just enough for two people with a little left over to snack on.  You won't be disappointed!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Made Skewers

The Madeley's are still on Paleo…it is a love-hate relationship for me but we are making it.  I might add, it is NOT without the strong cravings for sweets and a more than occasional "cheat" to satisfy that craving.  Meal-planning continues to demand additional thought and creativity so we are not just eating grilled chicken and roasted vegetables every night.  B is much appreciative as this week I have heart twice at the dinner table, "can we have this every week?".  So sweet!  Great recipe finds on Pinterest allows me to mix it up a bit.  In an effort to catch up on the past weeks cooking, I will begin with making Mushroom Skewers & Grilled Pesto Shrimp.  I altered both of the recipes according to what I had around the house and preferred.  

Grilled Pesto Shrimp
Feel free to whip up your own pesto according to your taste buds.  I have played around with generic basil pesto and paleo pesto several times and both are fabulous!  This go around I went to Central Market for basil pesto : )

1 lb. local, medium shrimp
1/2 cup basil pesto
Wooden or metal skewers, whichever you have handy

If using wooden skewers, soak the skewers for at least 2 hours to avoid flames when they hit the grill.  Marinate the shrimp in pesto at least 2 hours prior to skewering.  

Once marinated, skewer shrimp on each skewer.  I filled the skewers but feel free to spread out and use more skewers.  

On a preheated hot grill, sear each skewer for 2 minutes each side until shrimp turn opaque and are firm to the touch.  

This was SUPER easy, especially if you purchase pesto vs. making from scratch…but then you are missing out on the fun.  This would be a GREAT summer appetizer or served alongside a steak dinner.  

Mushroom Skewers
These are fabulous and easier than the shrimp.  Slice mushrooms, marinate, skewer, grill, eat.

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, halved lengthwise

Whisk the olive oil through oregano together in a medium bowl.

Add the halved mushrooms and toss well to coat.  Marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill.  Thread the mushrooms onto presoaked skewers.  Grill for 5 minutes on each side.

Grilling in the summer is somewhat steamy due the the 5:00 Texas heat but these skewer options are worth it!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Made Appetizers

Many of our favorite times hanging out with friends are at home around the dinner table.  But before sitting down to dinner, on special occasions, there are appetizers!!  I was once again inspired by The Barefoot Contessa as she prepared appetizers for a dinner party.  It just looked so easy so I thought I would pair a few of my favorite things and see how it turned out.  

Give it a try with your favorite eats and serving platters!

Cucumber, thinly sliced
Kuby's Salami, thinly sliced
Kalamatta Olives, pitted
Pimento Stuffed Olives
New, favorite pesto recipe that is also great as a sandwich spread.  And Kuby's Salami is the BEST!!
LOVE these rectangular crackers from Whole Foods & the organic chips from Sunflower Market
If you have not yet discovered Sunflower Market, please check it out and locate one in your area!!!  It is my favorite place to shop outside of the Central Market or Whole Foods stores.  

Another Sunflower Market find….olive bar!!!
Jack's favorite spot…underneath the table and near the food...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Made Paleo Pesto

DISCLAIMER: B and I have been on a Paleo kick…AKA "Caveman Diet".  There are a TON of blogs out there so I will just give you the Wikipedia definition of the Paleo diet.  We are not 100% Paleo but more like 85/15 so have not cut out my salt and cheat with a few sweets in moderation.   

Was so excited to try this pesto recipe so Mom and I made it this afternoon - it was a hit with our taste testers!  Take a trip to the bulk section at Central Market for the pumpkin seeds & cashews and you will be all set.

 2 oz. fresh basil leaves (1 cup, packed full)
1/4 c. raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. raw cashews
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. coconut aminos (I used soy sauce which is NOT Paleo)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. sea salt
dash cayenne pepper
1/2 c. olive oil

Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend into a smooth paste (stop several times and scrape the sides of the bowl down to get an even texture).

Add more or less olive oil to reach desired consistency.

'desired consistency'

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Made Pepperoni, Onion and Olive Pizza

I should made pizza more often  With store-bought dough it was such an easy and tasty meal for two!  But really it's pizza so you don't actually need a recipe…just throw on it whatever you want and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes.  I found this one in…you guessed it…Cooking Light.  No matter a current issue or past from October 2011, the recipes are always so great.

1 pound refrigerated fresh pizza dough
Cooking spray
1 tbsp. yellow cornmeal
1/2 c. marinara sauce
1/2 c. thinly sliced sweet onions
2 ounces pepperoni slices
10 manzanilla olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
3/4 c. (3 oz. pre shredded reduced-fat Italian-blend cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray or olive oil; let dough stand, covered for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle a baking sheet, or pizza stone if you have one, with cornmeal; roll dough into a 12-inch circle on prepared baking surface.
Spread sauce evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Top with onion, pepperoni, and olives; sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 450 degrees on bottom oven rack for 17 minutes or until golden.  

Split it with your favorite person and a green salad!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Made Potato -Crusted Chicken Fingers

I can count on one hand the number of times I have A. used Canola oil in a frying pan and B. fried anything in my kitchen.  Tonight was a rare night in which I did both….gasp!!  If I were to have found this recipe anywhere else besides Cooking Light I would have flipped right past it.  Pretty sure I was in denial that it would be a "healthier" version but I went for it anyway.  Upon getting home from work, the kitchen smelled of fried chicken and B was a happy man.  A little lazy in getting the camera out tonight so iphone quality is all I can offer.

6 ounces baked potato chips (Cape Cod 40% less fat)*
3/4 cu all-purpose flour
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp. canola oil, divided

*Easy to half the recipe, but don't reduce the potato chips - you will need all plus some.

Grind chips in a food processor, and place in a shallow dish.  Place flour in a shallow dish.  Combine the milk and egg in a shallow dish.  Sprinkle chicken with salt; dredge in flour.  Dip chicken in milk mixture; dredge in ground chips.

Heat half of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half of chicken; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.  Repeat with remaining oil and chicken.  Place cooked strips on paper towel-lined plate until ready to serve.

Serve with your favorite sauces (ketchup, BBQ sauce, Ranch) and sides!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hubby Made French Onion Soup

It is a real treat when my hubby cooks for us.  His specialty is french onion soup and WOW does he deliver!  I had such a fun time documenting his process and of course reaping the benefits of his hard work.  This recipe is definitely a process and get ready to shed some tears with all of the onions.  Cheers to my sweet hubby who blesses me when this meal shows up on the menu board!

1/2 c. unsalted butter
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 c. red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 heaping tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 lb. grated Gruyere (don't skimp…get the good stuff!)   

Check out the hi-tech cooking with the recipe pulled up on his ipad…

Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, bay leave, thyme and salt & pepper.  Cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized about 25 minutes.
Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes.  Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir.  Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.

Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.  Season to taste, with salt and pepper.

If you have enough feel free to enjoy a little wine and cheese.

When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler.  Ladle the soup in bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese.  Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese. 

I would not change a thing to this amazing recipe!