Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Peanut Butter Pie

Each year for Thanksgiving I promise myself that I am not going to make a dessert....I am not a sweets person and I already love to do the turkey and gravy so why add to my plate, right?  It's because I am an chocolate loving idiot evidently.  Every year the same thing happens....I am clearing out my email in the morning, going through the many wonderful blogs I love to follow and one will catch my eye.  Something that looks delicious and since I had probably eaten Triscuits and shard cheddar for dinner the night before I am starving and can't help myself.

And that is what happened again this year.

I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Kevin&Amanda, and knew I had to make it so I picked up my 2 year old niece from school and made this delictible dessert under the pretense that I was teaching Charlotte how to cook....just like my grandmother had done with me so many Thanksgiving in the past!

Peanut Butter Pie

1 (14.3 oz) package whole Oreos (about 36 Oreos)
1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter, divided
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Finely crush the Oreos with a food processor, blender, or in a Ziploc bag. Stir crumbs together with 8 tablespoons melted butter until well combined. Press into the bottom and sides of a pie pan. Freeze crust for 10 minutes until set.

Add the remaining 8 tablespoons of softened butter, 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter, and 1 cup powdered sugar to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low speed until smooth and creamy. Spoon the peanut butter mixture over the crust into a smooth layer. 
Place back in freezer. Place chocolate chips and remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut butter in a large glass or heat-proof bowl. In a saucepan, bring heavy whipping cream to a rolling simmer over medium-high heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and peanut butter and let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until completely smooth. Pour the chocolate layer over the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hours until ready to serve. 
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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Cheese Tartlets

Part II of our Julia Child's it turns out, this dessert is quite easy to throw together and a crowd pleaser for sure!  This will certainly be a staple for cocktail parties to come!

Julia Child's Cheese Tartlet (slightly tweaked)

You will need 12 4-inch diameter tartlet pans or one standard size muffin pan for making 12 muffins

Pie dough for 12 tartlets (enough dough for 2 9-inch crusts) 
2 ounces any good melting cheese (like gouda or fontina) 
2/3 cup creme fraiche, sour cream or Greek yoghurt
1 large egg 
1/2 teaspoon salt**
 Dash of cayenne pepper sauce (I used Frank’s
Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out pie dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into circles a little bigger than the tops of the tins in a muffin tin pan. Press pie dough circles into tins, with pie crusts coming most of the way to the tops of the tins.

Place grated cheese in each tin, filling almost to tops of tins. Mix remaining ingredients together and pour a little of this mixture into each muffin tin, filling almost to tops of tins. (NOTE: You can add a sprinkle of dried herbs as a garnish here – totally optional and mostly for a garnish)
Place filled muffin tins on top of a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned and set in centers.
** Salt may not be needed if a salty cheese is used. 
Taste your cheese before deciding how much salt to add.
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fresh Corn Bisque

With kids back in school and the end of summer quickly approaching and I wanted to make sure I had enough of the deliciously sweet corn of the season to last me through the winter so I decided to try a few new recipes. This was the first time I had ever made corn bisque and I must admit, it is freaking amazing!!!

Fresh Corn Bisque
as adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine

8 ears sweet corn, kernels removed from cobs
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ medium sweet onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 large russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp pesto, combined with 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Remove corn from the cob with a sharp knife, then use a dinner knife to scrape out the milk for even more flavor!
Melt butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add oil, chopped shallot, and onion, and cook until soft and transparent, 4-5 minutes.Add chicken broth, corn, and potato. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for for 15 minutes until potato is very tender. Remove cobs, add corn and return to a simmer. Cook for another 2 minutes.

Allow soup to cool slightly, then purée in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Place a fine sieve over a medium-size bowl and strain, pressing on solids with the back of a spoon. Discard solids.
Return soup to pot, add salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Rewarm over medium heat. Serve in bowls garnished with fresh corn and drizzled with pesto oil.

Cook's Notes:
Be sure to let the soup cool for 5-10 minutes before blending. Blending the mixture while very hot can actually force the lid off of the blender container due to the expansion of the steam, causing a huge mess. It also helps to start on low and progressively increase the blender speed. Blend in batches, filling the container about half full. Removing the center insert on the top of the blender (cover the opening with a folded kitchen towel) will also help prevent a mess.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sea Scallop and Lobster Fettucine

Sea Scallop and Lobster Fettucine
as adapted from A Great American Cook by Jonathan Waxman

1 lb. sea scallops
2 lobster tails
1 shallot
1 lemon
4 fresh springs parsley
1 cup sherry
2/3 cup Half & Half
Small box of baby bellas
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus one more for the scallops
Kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh fettucine

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Remove the meat from the lobster tails and set aside.  Clean the scallops by removing the tough muscle from the side of each one; reserve the muscles.  Slice the shallot or onion.  Juice the lemon and set the juice aside.  Place the scallop muscles, shallot or onion, parsley, and sherry in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Lower the heat and let simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Strain the liquid, return it to the saucepan, and boil to reduce to 1/4 cup.  Add the Half & Half and simmer for 5 minutes, or until thickened.  Remove from the heat.

Rub the scallops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy skillet.  Add the scallops in a single layer and cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Remove the scallops to a plate and set aside, loosely cover to keep warm.  Add the lobster tails to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove from the skillet and cut into bite size pieces; set aside.  Saute the mushrooms and then pour the cream sauce into the skillet and keep warm over very low heat.
Drop the pasta into the boiling water and boil for 2 minutes, or until just tender.  Drain and add to the sauce in the skillet, along with the juices from the scallop and lobster plates.  Season with the lemon juice and salt and pepper, and toss the pasta with the sauce and the lobster.
Transfer the pasta to a hot platter, decorate with the scallops and serve immediately.
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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bacon-Gruyere Grits Casserole

Ladies who brunch!  What better way to beat this heat than to sit in the AC with some of the best girlfriends in the world than to pop some bubbly and have do a potluck brunch??  I decided to peruse my ever growing list of recipes I want to try and there are not better taste testers than my girls!  Based on the feedback from the ladies, this will definitely be a repeat performance for brunches to come!

Bacon-Gruyere Grits Casserole
makes 6 to 8 servings

4 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup quick cooking grits
1 cup freshly grated gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons siracha
1 1/2 teaspoons spicy mustard
2 lightly beaten eggs
2 tablespoons chives, chopped

cooked bacon * watercrest * scallions 
freshly ground pepper

Bring the water to a rolling boil in a 3 quart saucepan over high heat then whisk in salt.  
Whisk in the grits and reduce the heat to medium low while continuing to whisk the mixture on occasion to keep the mixture nice and smooth.  
Cook the grits until thickened & tender, about 15 minutes, turn off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; whisk in the butter and cheese stir the grits until the cheese melts.  Whisk in the chives, siracha and the mustard; let stand 5 minutes and whisk in the eggs
Pour the grits into a lightly greased 2 quart casserole dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through & a touch puffy; sprinkle generously with toppings.  
Note: because of the deep dish I used, mine had to cook for closer to 45 minutes and then I let them stand for 10 minutes before eating.
Happy Sunday Funday!
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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dinner from the Farmer's Market

This weekend we decided to let the farmers tell us what we should have for Sunday dinner so we piled up in the car and headed down to the Nashville Farmer's Market.

As a belated Mother's Day celebration it was up to Mom and Maggie to determine what we should have.  I was excited at the prospect of having a Sunday dinner menu straight from local vendors and we were NOT disappointed!

We decided on a skirt steak from KLD Farms, kale and strawberries from Delvin Farms, and green tomatoes and potatoes from another local vendor whose name escapes me but I will find out this weekend!

With all of the ingredients gathered I took it all home and tried to decipher exactly how I wanted to cook everything.  The green tomatoes were easy...fried...topped with a roasted red pepper aioli and goat cheese!  A family favorite for sure!  For that recipe click HERE!
Next it was on to the meat.  We had talked about doing something with a chimichurri sauce so I did a little research and realized that I had everything I would need for that in my garden and in my pantry so that was a given.  I decided to make enough of the chimichurri sauce to marinade the meat as well as a separate batch which I would serve alongside the beef.

Chimichurri Sauce
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
8 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 lemon wedge ( juice of)
1 tablespoon diced red onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pulse parsley in processor to chop. Add remaining ingredients and blend.  Separate sauce into equal parts. (Use half for basting or marinade, use other half for table service).

Marinade the skirt steak for at least an hour.  Remove steaks from marinade and discard marinade.  Grill over medium high heat for 8 minutes a side for medium rare.
Next it was on to the sides which I had already pretty much figured out....Roasted sweet and red potatoes with chopped rosemary, thyme, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss it all together and bake at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes or until fork tender.
We purchased purple kale which was new to me but I figured it had the same consistency and toughness as the green kale I usually use so I went with it and removed the ribs, shredded it in the blender, tossed it with some olive oil and the juice of 3 lemons then let it rest for about an hour.  Just before serving, I added toasted pine nuts and and shaved parmesan cheese.
Finally it was time for dessert....Of course we were going to do strawberry shortcake so I decided to try making homemade angel food some point the angel food cake took on a life of its own (see below) so we do not have a final pic of how they turned out but trust was perfection!
What a refreshing afternoon spent cooking the bounty of Tennessee soil!  As always, I strongly suggest you check out any of the local farmer's market and make it a practice to support local farmers and local businesses!
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Red Wine Braised Beef Ribs

There is something about the art of braising meat that brings out the flavor in a way no other form of cooking can do.  The best part about it is that essentially all you are doing is throwing everything in a pot and letting it slowly cook for hours, but with a fancy french name!

As many of your know one of my favorite ways to spend any day is with friends and family and typically there is a large and wonderful meal in the works!  When we are all together, some coming in from out of town, it is like we hit our stride.  We all fall into sync and assume our roles.  

For some that is pouring the wine, for others it is trying to stay on top of cleaning the many dishes being dirtied up one on top of the other, but for me and my friend Michael we make the mess.  I prefer to think of it more as artistry in the works, but for those in the grand stands it looks like the aftermath of an atomic bomb of flour and spices!

With all of that being said, it is recipes like this one that keep said damage to a minimum.  

The beauty of braising!

Red Wine Braised Beef Ribs
4-6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
3 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 sweet onion, peeled and cut into eighths
3 medium carrots, peeled and coarse chopped
3 stalks celery, rinsed and coarse chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
12 ounces tomato paste
1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon (or other full bodied red wine)
2 cups water
14 stems of fresh thyme, bundled and tied with butchers twine
3 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Season the short ribs on all sides with fresh cracked black pepper and 2 1/2 teaspoons of the salt. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of a large dutch oven, roughly 3-4 tablespoons. Heat over high heat until hot.

Using tongs, gently add half of the short ribs to the hot oil (you do this in 2 batches because if the pan is overcrowded, the short ribs will steam instead of getting the nice brown crust that you want!). Sear on all 4 sides until a nice deep brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and repeat process with second half of short ribs.
(Clearly we were feeding an army...)

While the short ribs are browning, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to a food processor or blender and pulse into a coarse paste (You can do this step ahead if you want).

Drain all of the oil & rendered fat from the pan (BE CAREFUL! The oil is PIPING HOT!). Add an additional 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and reduce heat to medium-high. Add the pureed veggies and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes. 

Add the tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the red wine and stir until everything is well combined, scraped the bottom of the pan to get all the browned (yummy) bits off into the sauce! 

Using the tongs, carefully nestle the short ribs back into the sauce 

(Note: be sure they are all covered by the sauce as much as possible). Add the thyme bundles and bay leaves and top with 2 cups of water (until short ribs are just barely covered).  

Put lid on dutch oven and bake in preheated oven for 3 1/2 hours, turning the ribs 2 hours into cooking, and add additional water if needed 
(you want the ribs to remain mostly covered in braising liquid).

Note: Add carrots during last hour of cooking if desired.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Braised Chicken & 
with Olives & 
Basil Purée

I have a new rule for myself....find recipes in a cookbook...not online or in the depths of a real cookbook.  I have shelves and shelves of them yet I never seem to look through them to actually find something to cook.  That changes now.  My mission for myself is to only use recipes from cookbooks for the foreseeable future.....I even ordered a cookbook holder!  That's how serious I am!

This new mid-week favorite came from Clean Eating Magazine.  With the garden ready to be planted, I wanted to start looking for recipes that call for ingredients I can pick fresh from my back yard and this looked amazing!

Braised Chicken & 
with Olives & 
Basil Purée
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 lb), trimmed
2 cups frozen 
artichoke quarters
1 1/2 cups peewee or 
fingerling potatoes, 
halved lengthwise
1/2 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives (or your favorite green olives), halved, 
1 cup fresh basil, plus ¼ cup sliced fresh basil, divided
pantry staples:
2 1/2 tsp smoked 
paprika, divided (I don't like smoky flavors so I used regular paprika)
1 tsp sea salt, divided
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth, 
room temperature
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp potato starch 
(TRY: Bob’s Red Mill 
Potato Starch)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle chicken with ½ tsp paprika and ¼ tsp salt. In a small bowl, toss artichokes with 1 tsp oil, ½ tsp paprika and ¼ tsp salt. In a separate small bowl, toss potatoes with 1 tsp oil, ½ tsp paprika and ¼ tsp salt.
In a 9- to 10-inch cast iron skillet on medium-high, heat 1 tsp oil. Sear chicken thighs for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden; transfer to a plate. 
Scrape the skillet to get all those delicious brown bits loose...this will add to the flavor of the sauce!
To skillet, add ¼ cup water and artichokes and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned. Transfer artichokes to plate with chicken. Reduce heat to medium, add 1½ tsp oil to skillet and add potatoes, cut side down. Cook potatoes until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate with chicken and artichokes.
In a bowl, whisk together 1¼ cups broth, vinegar, starch, 1 tsp paprika and ¼ tsp salt. Pour mixture into skillet and whisk constantly until boiling.
Return potatoes to skillet and top with chicken and artichokes. Sprinkle 
¼ cup olives over top. Cover skillet with foil. Place skillet 
in oven and bake for 20 to 
30 minutes, until potatoes 
are tender and chicken is cooked through.
Meanwhile, prepare purée: In a blender, purée 
1 cup basil, remaining ¼ cup olives, 2 tbsp broth and 
1½ tsp oil until smooth.
Divide chicken among plates, sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup sliced basil and drizzle with purée.
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