Thursday, January 28, 2010

15under15: Chicken Picatta with Lemon Caper Sauce

This is a super tasty, super quick meal. The little one helped me trim green beans and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. He's a good little sous chef! And the funny thing is, he really LOVES capers. I don't think I ate a caper until I was 20! (Caper image from

15under15: Chicken Picatta with Lemon Caper Sauce on Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Green Beans

3 chicken breasts, pounded thin with meat mallet, cut into thirds
salt and pepper
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1/3 c dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp butter (additional)
whole wheat spaghetti

1 lb green beans
1 tbsp butter (additional)
1 tbsp fresh grated parmesan

Trim green beans and cover with water in a large saucepan over high heat. Cook until tender. (About 15 minutes.)
Meanwhile, start water boiling for pasta and cook according to directions.
In a large heavy pan, heat oil and butter over medium high heat until butter is melted. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in whole wheat flour and add to pan in batches, cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Let rest on paper towel. Pour all but 1 tbsp of oil from pan. Add wine to hot pan, scraping brown bits until liquid is almost gone. Add chicken broth and lemon juice, stirring. Add capers and butter and continue to stir gently until butter is melted. Return chicken to pan for 1-2 minutes.
Add butter to hot green beans and sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve pasta and beans. Place chicken on top and spoon caper sauce over dish. Enjoy!

What night is this again??? Short Rib Dinner Party

We postponed last week's dinner with our friends until Tuesday. The thing is, Tuesday is kind of a weird night for a dinner party. Which meant an evening of everyone being convinced that it had to be Thursday or Friday.
I spent pretty much the whole day working on dinner. (Not typical... usually our dinners come together in way under an hour.) But between the grocery store, braising the meat, cooking lemon curd, shaving beets (and scrubbing my hands afterwards) it was a 9 hour affair. And the meal? Well worth the effort, I'd say!

Event: Tuesday Night Indulgence
Menu: Winter Salad
Braised Short Ribs with Dijon
Beet Risotto
Roasted Baby Carrots with Fennel
Lemon Curd Mousse

All of the recipes came from the Gourmet Today Cookbook... which is becoming one of my favorites! (My only complaint- no food photos!) I made modifications as indicated.

Simple Winter Salad
1 endive, cored and sliced lengthwise
1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded, cored and sliced lengthwise, thinly
1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced into matchsticks
4 cups mixed greens
2 ounces goat cheese (GT says aged goat cheese, which wasn't available at HEB- CM or WF would probably have it)

for dressing:
2 tsp shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil (GT says 3/4 cup, but I think the ratio of oil to vinegar it too high)

Toss together endive, fennel, apple, and greens. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small cup or bowl. Drizzle greens with dressing, top with goat cheese crumbles.

Braised Short Ribs with Dijon
1 bottle dry red wine (which you later reduce to 1 cup, gotta love a recipe where you reduce a whole bottle of wine)
4 lbs beef short ribs, cut into 2 1/2 inch lengths
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbs olive oil
10 shallots, peeled, leaving root ends in tact and halved lengthwise
3 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth (my addition to the recipe- there wasn't enough cooking liquid

Boil wine in a 2-3 qt saucepan, uncovered until reduced to about 1 cup, about 20 mins.
Meanwhile, pat ribs dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 5qt pot (I use my Calphalon "everyday pan" for things like this, and just about everything else.) over medium high heat. Add ribs, in two batches, and brown, turning occationally, about 8mins per batch. Transfer to a bowl.
Reduce heat to moderate and add shallots to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until golden brown.Transfer to another bowl.
Stir reduced wine and dijon into cooking liquid, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Add ribs, meat side down, cover tightly and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Gently stir in shallots and tomatoes and add broth. Continue to simmer for about an hour or more, if time allows, until meat is very tender. Carefully transfer ribs, shallots, and tomatoes to serving platter. Spoon pan juices over them and serve!

Modified Beet Risotto 
6 medium beets, trimmed and halved
4 cups water
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 c fresh grated parmesan
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

PH oven to 450. Wrap beets in foil. Roast until tender about 1 1/2 hours. Carefully unwrap and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel beets.
Cut enough beets into 1/2 inch pieces to make 2 cups. Puree remaining beets with 1 cup water, in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a 3-4 qt saucepan. Stir in remaining water and bring to a simmer.
Heat butter in a large stock pot over medium heat until foam subsides. Add onion, garlic, and 1 tsp salt and cook until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in rice and cook 1 minute. Add wine and cook until absorbed, stirring constantly.
Add 1/2 c "beet broth" and cook, stirring constantly and keeping at a strong simmer, until beet broth is absorbed. Continue cooking and adding broth, 1/2 c at a time. Make sure that it is absorbed before adding more. When 1/2 of broth has been used, add chopped beets to mixture and stir. Continue adding broth and stirring as before, until rice is al dente and all liquid has been absorbed. (about 18 mins) Stir in parmesan cheese and pepper. Serve immediately, with additional cheese.

Roasted Baby Carrots with Fennel
1 bunch baby carrots with green tops
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tbsp fennel fronds, chopped

PH oven to 425. Trim carrots and remove all but 1-2 inches of stalks. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fennel fronds in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Roast until tender, about 35 minutes.

Gotta take a break- dessert in another post!

Menu for the Week

Sunday- Sliders with Dijon Shallot Relish, Sweet Potato Fries
Monday-Southwest Chicken Soup
Tuesday- Winter Salad, Braised Short Ribs with Dijon, Beet Risotto, Roasted Baby Carrot, Lemon Mousse
Wednesday- Chicken Picatta with Lemon Caper Sauce, Steamed Green Beans
Thursday-MNO at JUSTINE'S!
Friday- Salvation Pizza, I think...

Friday, January 22, 2010

15 Under 15: Broccoli Cheese Soup

Wow! You may be thinking... where did she get that terrible little broccoli clip art? Well, he just so happens to be featured in a great article about a certain green veggie and your immune system. Where was he last week when I got this yucky cold? Guess I'll be eating my broccoli from now on...
Soups are a fabulous way to keep your energy going when you're sick. This one can be made in 15 mins, and reheats nicely for the rest of the week. It's a staple in my soupertoire.
Wow! You may be thinking... where did she get that terrible term? Well, it just so happens that my brain is on winter vacation. Just read the soup recipe, already...

Broccoli Cheese Soup
3 tbsp butter or margarine
1 small onion, finely chopped (The most intensive part of this soup, but hey! now you can buy frozen or fresh pre-chopped onion!)
3 tbsp flour
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups frozen broccoli, or fresh
1 cup shredded cheese, plus more for topping

In a large saucepan over medium hi heat, melt the butter. Add chopped onion and saute until soft and golden. Add flour and stir to create a light roux. Do not allow to burn. Add pinch salt and pepper. Then add milk and broth, stirring and scraping bottom of pan. Reduce heat to medium and allow mixture to thicken. Add broccoli. Cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cheese and stir until melted. Serve topped with additional cheddar. A hollowed out roll makes a delicious bread bowl.

Short Ribs... Shortly

That yucky cold spoiled our dinner plans for Thursday night... So next week I'll be making the Braised Short Ribs, et al. Mmmmm....

CL's Not So Fat Greek Chicken Salad

Oh, how I love Greek food. And any twist on the Greek Chicken Salad. Cooking Light's recipe for Greek Chicken and Barley Salad is great served warm or cool and it get's better with a couple days rest in the fridge.
I made a few mods to the recipe- and the little one helped me cook! He loved sampling all the bright colored veggies. It was exactly what we needed in the midst of stew and soup season.
(So good, I didn't take a pic- this one is from Cooking Light's site.)

Greek Chicken and Barley Salad
For the Salad:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 1 pkg chicken tenders
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp olive oil
3 cups chicken broth- I used Kitchen Basics stock, richer and more flavorful than broth
1 cup uncooked pearl barley (can find it in the bulk section)
2 c chopped hothouse cucumber
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, cubed
1/3 c reduced fat feta
1/4 c pitted kalamata olives

For the dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp minced fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 garlic clove, minced or microplaned

To make salad, preheat oven to 400 degrees, toss chicken in olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Place on roasting pan and bake until cooked through, approx 25-30 mins. When done, allow to cool slightly, and shred.
Meanwhile, bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan; add barley. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 30-45 mins or until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool. 
Chop vegetables. Make dressing by whisking together all ingredients in a large bowl. Add vegetables to bowl and toss. Add in chicken and barley. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve warm immediately, or place in fridge overnight. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fireside Pies- A Dallas Treat

A trip to Dallas this weekend freshened my yearning for our favorite old haunts... and although we made the "turnaround" in less than 24 hours, we were able to cross Fireside Pies off the list. 
Their Cheese Salad gives salad a bad name... in a good way. Tossed with gobs of shredded mozzarella, doused in red pepper ranch, and topped with luscious roasted pepper strips, this thing is like the Jabba the Hut of first courses. (Or maybe more like Pizza the Hut...) Oh yeah, and there's some romaine tossed in there, just for fun. By comparison, my favorite of their pies, The Triple 'Roni looks like a lightweight. It's a fairly simple composition of generous handfuls of cheese, pepperoni, shredded basil... and then drizzled with the goddess of garnishes- truffle oil. A meal so satisfying that I didn't even feel the need for to beg Mark to take me to La Duni in the morning. Don't worry Migas con Quatro Quesos, I'll see you next time...

Menu for the Week

Monday- Chicken and Dumplings (Not feeling too spiffy, and this should do the trick), Kentucky Wonder Green Beans
Tuesday- Broccoli Cheese Soup and Garden Salad
Wednesday- Greek Chicken and Barley Salad
Thursday- Braised Beef Short Ribs, Potato-Turnip Puree, Glazed Roasted Baby Carrots
Friday- Out

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Signature Drink

So, every once and a while I get tired of red wine... and beer... and the hangover or heaviness of drinking aforementioned beverages. And, in those few instances, it's nice to shake things up (literally) with a cocktail.
Here's my beverage of choice du jour. I can't say that it does away with that not-so-fabulous feeling the next morning... but, I am in love with the lightness of champagne, the brightness of lemon juice, and the sweetness of triple sec.

French 75 (Per the Tipsy Texan- I'm likin' his version...)
French 75 (per Gourmet- image is from

A Good Year

Wow... 2010! So far it's been a blur... but I think we're off to a good start.
On New Year's Day our friend Paul cooked omelets for us, with tons of yummy, fresh ingredients. As I told him and his wife, Dawn, I'm not used to turning over my kitchen to other people. Sure, Mark may step in if I'm having an off day... and my mom is the occasional guest/sous chef. But Paul had pretty much free reign of my domain- and all I did was stand around! (okay... and make home fries/papas fritas.) Surprisingly, I handled it quite well, and, hopefully, I didn't intimidate him by hovering.  Paul even called upon Julia for new/old omelet technique- although we're not quite sure why she insists on some of the steps. The result- a success!

Event: NYD Breakfast
Menu: Omelettes de Paul
Papas Fritas

Omelettes de Paul ingredients:
Eggs (2 per person)
Chopped Ham
Sauteed Button Mushrooms
Nutri-Sweet Cherub Tomatoes, sliced (by specific request)
Shredded Colby Jack
Butter for pan

Scramble eggs in a large bowl. Melt butter in a small omelet skillet over medium heat. Add eggs and use fork to vigorously scurry the eggs on bottom of pan, for about 3-4 seconds. Add toppings to one side of omelet. Allow to cook until egg is almost completely firm. Shake pan and carefully fold omelet in half, so that toppings are inside. Continue to cook until egg is no longer runny. (Note: Cheese and juices from tomatoes/meat may cause omelet to appear underdone.) Slide omelet onto plate and serve with potatoes.

For Papas Fritas:
Small Red "new" potatoes
1/4 c olive oil
Kosher Salt 
Fresh ground black pepper
Red Pepper Flakes

In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and parboil, just until tender.  Drain and slice in half or in quarters. Heat oil in a deep skillet, until shimmering. Fry potato pieces in batches, until golden. Remove to a plate or platter covered with paper towel. Sprinkle each batch with kosher salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Serve immediately after last batch is done.