Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Special Occasion’ Category

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 2

spicedchicken2

This is my new favorite easy dinner to add to our regular rotation. First thing first, I apologize for the less than stellar photo. I don’t have a lightbox and it gets dark at 5:30. Considering that we never eat until 8 p.m., there’s just no hope for decent dinner shots during the winter.

I have been so eager to make this Spiced Chicken after hearing Gourmet Editor-in-Chief Ruth Reichl say it was one of her favorite weeknight family dinners. The chicken was so simple, so juicy and a breeze to prepare. And the house smelled amazing while it was baking. It’s also very economical. We used legs and thighs but you can also use bone-in breasts – both are very affordable, especially if you can catch them on sale. It is insane to me how much the grocery charges for skinless, boneless chicken breasts. It’s a total rip off! I only buy them on sale and freeze. Otherwise, I buy bone-in and skin and bone myself. It’s very simple.

But I digress…back the Spiced Chicken. I told Brandon at least five times during dinner, “this is so good.” I can’t wait to share the recipe with my mom and dad. I know they will love this one! This is an awesome weeknight dish and would also be perfect for someone looking for an easy but delicious entertaining recipe.

I doubled the amount of spices for the chicken (so I could really coat it on) and substituted a wine/chicken broth mixture for the water in the pan sauce.

Try this for a new spin on chicken. I know everyone is always looking for new and easy chicken dishes!

Spiced Chicken
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, April 2000)

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the pan
2 bone-in chicken breasts or 2 leg/thigh combos
1/2 cup white wine, chicken broth or water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and pat dry chicken.

Stir together spices, salt and 1 tablespoon of oil. Rub all over chicken. Heat another two tablespoons of oil in an ovenproof heavy skillet (preferably not non-stick) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add chicken and brown on both sides, about 6 minutes (3 minutes per side).

Transfer skillet to middle rack of oven and roast, skin side up, until just cooked through, 20-25 minutes. The internal temperature should read 160 for breasts and 170 for legs or thighs. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Place skillet over medium-high heat. Add water, wine or stock and deglaze, scraping up brown bits. Let reduce for 2 or 3 minutes. Pour pan juices over chicken and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

Read Full Post »

choccakeandslice

I had a three week break between my temporary job with the American Cancer Society and my new full-time job that I started Monday. I’m not going to lie…I must admit that I enjoyed my brief stint as a housewife. The best perks were having plenty of time to work out (daily run and yoga classes!) and having time to cook and bake to my heart’s content!

Last week I was really craving a chocolate cake. I had a block of cream cheese in the fridge and so I decided a chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting would be perfect. I used my all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe, the Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake, and a based the frosting off of a recipe that I found on The Cupcake Project.

It was a delicious combination. The Hershey’s cake is so moist and the chocolate cream cheese was to die for. It was kind of reminiscent of chocolate cheesecake for me. Brandon and I both enjoyed this cake for dessert multiple nights last week and also shared a few slices with family. I will most definitely be using this flavor combination again!

choccake

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe sources Hershey’s and The Cupcake Project)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

FOR THE FROSTING
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) at room temperature
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch round baking pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about two minutes. Pour in boiling water and continue to mix until incorporated, batter will be thin. Evenly distribute batter between the two prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Start checking the cakes around 25 minutes as oven temperatures may vary (and no one likes an overdone cake)!

Cool in pans for about 10 minutes then run a knife around the edges and gently remove from pans and place on wire racks to cool completely.

FOR THE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat all ingredients on medium high speed until light and fluffy.

To frost cake, place first layer down and frost top, leaving about a 1/2 inch border. Place second layer on top and frost top and then sides.

Yield: 8-12 servings

choccakeslice

Read Full Post »

lasagnapan

I have a confession. There are a few simple things that I just cannot seem to master. Among those are pancakes, gravy, biscuits and lasagna. Seriously, who can’t make pancakes and lasagna? It’s embarrassing. Well, last weekend I was craving traditional lasagna. This is strange for me because I’m not the biggest traditional meat lasagna fan – I usually go for the veggie stuff. I’m good about trying to overcome my culinary weaknesses so I decided to give it a go. I researched recipes for longer than I’d like to admit before finally deciding on this Sausage, Cheese and Basil Lasagna on epicurious.com. I figured if it had received 4-fork reviews from 325 people it must be good.

I’m happy to report that it wasn’t just good…it was awesome. I probably said to Brandon five times during dinner, “Wow, this is really delicious. I can’t believe I made good lasagna.” I loved the flavor combination with the homemade sauce, Italian sausage and fresh basil. I’ve decided that I prefer using all Italian sausage versus a sausage/ground beef mixture. If you’re going to make this lasagna DO NOT skip making the homemade sauce. It is so simple and makes a huge difference in the flavor.

Now on to modifications that I did make to the original recipe. First, I read multiple reviews that there was not enough sauce. I corrected this by using a smaller pan – 9 x 11 instead of 9 x 13. It was just Brandon and me and we can never finish a whole pan anyway. Alternatively, I recommend increasing the sauce recipe by one half. It would have been nice to have extra sauce for the leftovers too. Second, I was totally not in the mood to deal with cooking and draining lasagna noodles. I decided to throw caution to the wind and just use uncooked noodles in the lasagna (I didn’t even use the “no-boil” noodles). I rinsed them in water first to dampen them and made sure they were completely covered by sauce. I was extremely pleased to find that they’d cooked perfectly when I served the lasagna.

One final recommendation is to make sure to let  your lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. I think this makes the biggest difference in having a pretty lasagna that holds together and doesn’t turn into a mess on the plate.

So now that I’ve overloaded you with my ramblings and recommendations, here’s the recipe.

Sausage, Cheese and Basil Lasagna
(Recipe source epicurious.com, originally printed in Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

FOR THE SAUCE
1 pound spicy or sweet (your preference) Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) container plus 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

FOR THE ASSEMBLY
12 lasagna noodles
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
Nonstick cooking spray
Aluminum foil

Directions:

FOR THE SAUCE
Brown Italian sausage in a large saucepan over medium heat until crumbly and cooked through. Drain and wipe down pan.

Heat olive oil in same pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to look transparent and soft. Add garlic, red pepper and oregano and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add crushed and diced tomatoes and cooked sausage and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

FOR THE FILLING
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until combined.

FOR THE ASSEMBLY
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in bottom of baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups filling over noodles and spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down.

Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover and increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

lasagna

Read Full Post »

fruitskewers

These fruit skewers are one of my favorite things to serve at showers, parties and lunches. They only take a few minutes to put together, look beautiful on the plate and are easy to pick up. I vary the fruit depending on what is looking good and in season. The dip incorporates cream cheese, vanilla yogurt and powdered sugar and has just the right balance of sweetness and tang.

Try these out next time you need to bring something to a shower or luncheon! They will be a hit!

Fruit Skewers with Vanilla Cream Cheese Dip
(A Bakin’ and Eggs Original)

Ingredients:

1 cantaloupe, diced
1 pint strawberries, cut in half
1 pineapple, diced
Bamboo skewers
1 block reduced fat cream cheese (8 ounces), softened
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
3/4-1 cup powdered sugar (adjust amount to taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Place six pieces of fruit on each skewer, alternating fruits. Arrange on a platter.

Combine cream cheese, vanilla yogurt, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix on high speed with a hand mixer until combined and fluffy. Sample the dip and adjust ingredients to taste.

Read Full Post »

coconutlimecake

My mother in law’s birthday was last week and of course I volunteered to bring the birthday cake to our dinner party.  I love making cakes but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make a whole cake for just Brandon and me.

I wanted to make a summery flavored cake. We have coconut and key lime lovers in the family so I decided that a coconut cake with a lime curd filling would be just the thing.

I used a Paula Deen recipe for the cake and frosting and adapted a lemon curd recipe from my blog for the lime filling. I must say that I was especially impressed by the Seven Minute Frosting for this cake. I had never made this type of frosting before and it was a nice change to my usual buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Brandon and I both thought it was reminiscent to marshmallow fluff, in a good way!

I was pleased with the way this cake turned out and it got good reviews at the party. I think my mother in law was also thrilled to be the guest of honor instead of the party planner.

Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling
(Recipe sources: cake and frosting – Paula Deen, lime curd filling – adapted from this lemon curd on my blog)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups self rising flour, sifted
1 cup coconut milk, stirred (not lite)
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE LIME CURD
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (juice of about 2 limes)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel

FOR THE FROSTING
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3  cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 (8-inch) cake pans. (I used the butter wrappers from the cake to grease the pans)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream for 6 to 8 minutes, until mixture is fluffy and lightened in color. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add flour and coconut milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and beat until just mixed.

Divide batter equally among prepared pans (about 2 cups per pan). Level batter in each pan by holding pan a few inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and create a more level cake.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Start checking cakes at around 22 minutes. Cool in pans for 5 to 10 minutes before inverting cakes onto cooling racks to cool completely.

FOR THE LIME CURD
Whisk eggs, sugar and lime juice in heavy small saucepan. Add butter and lime peel. Stir over medium-low heat until curd thickens to pudding consistency, about 8 minutes. DO NOT LET MIXTURE BOIL – it will curdle (trust me, I had to throw a batch out!) Transfer to small bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd and chill at least 2 hours.

FOR THE FROSTING
Place sugar, cream of tartar, salt, water and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Using a hand held mixer, beat mixture for about a minute on high speed. Place pan over boiling water and make sure that the boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. Beat constantly on high speed with for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla at the end and combine well.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
Place the bottom layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread top with half of the lime curd, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the edges. Place second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining lime curd over the top. Place third layer on top of second and frost top and sides with frosting. Press coconut into the top and sides of frosting.

Read Full Post »

tunaherbaioli

Before we get started on the tuna let’s talk about my absence from blogging the last couple weeks. My husband just graduated from law school in Birmingham, Alabama and will be practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina. Moving has been a gigantic pain but we’re so excited to finally be in Charlotte and getting settled in our new place. Unfortunately, with all the business of moving and starting a new job, there just hasn’t been much time for blogging.

I’m happy to report that as of this week I’m back in the kitchen. I made a menu for the week  and took my weekly Sunday grocery trip for the first time in over a month. My new kitchen is considerably smaller than the old kitchen and we don’t have a dishwasher (gasp!) but I’m trying to embrace it and work with what we have. So if you have any tips to share on maximizing small kitchen space, I would love to hear them (seriously…you should see the tiny amount of counter space I have).

Now on the the tuna…last Tuesday was my birthday and we’d been in our new place for all of two days. Needless to say, we weren’t very unpacked. I was really sick of eating out so I tried to brainstorm a simple dinner that I could prepare quickly for my birthday dinner. Tuna is one of our favorites and I was looking to do something different than our usual tuna with wasabi aioli.  I remembered a good herbed tuna recipe that I tried in college from Bon Appetit and decided to make my own variation of it. I used some of my favorite herbs and it turned out to be a great summer dish.

Seared Tuna with Herbed Aioli
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

2 tuna steaks (recommended sushi/sashimi grade)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided (3 for marinade and 1 for pan)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use reduced fat)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients from olive oil through garlic clove to create the marinade for the tuna. Place mayonnaise in a separate small bowl and stir in about 2 tablespoons of the marinade mixture to create the aioli.  Refrigerate.

Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper. Pour reserved marinade over the tuna and leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Preheat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan and add fish. Cook for about 45 seconds per side for rare (you just want to get the sear and warm it a little). The inside should still be red.

Top with aioli and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

Read Full Post »

goatcheesestuffedchicken

Last week the stars aligned and I found my kitchen stocked with all the ingredients to make a killer stuffed chicken. The beauty of stuffed chicken is that it’s fairly easy to put together but looks impressive when sliced and plated. It’s a great option for dinner for two at home or entertaining (and relatively affordable). Also, it’s customizable based on what you have in your kitchen and what you like. Try out different filling combinations once you get comfortable with the method of preparing it.

Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Basil
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)
Printable Recipe: Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Basil

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
3-4 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons flour, separated
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chicken broth

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sundried tomatoes in a bowl and pour about 1 cup of boiling water over them. Let stand for 10 minutes to rehydrate and soften.

In the meantime, clean and rinse chicken. Pat dry. Working one breast at a time, place chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap (or in a gallon ziploc bag) and pound to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Place pounded chicken on a large cutting board. The chicken breasts should be the shape of a large oval (more or less). You’ll want to place the filling across the breast so it goes across the bottom half of the longest part of the oval. Place one ounce of goat cheese across each breast. Top with sundried tomatoes and basil. Roll chicken tightly (starting at the end with your filling) and secure with about 4-5 toothpicks. Like so…

chickenexample

Season with salt and pepper and dredge in 2 tablespoons of flour. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place chicken in skillet and saute for about 5-6 minutes, turning frequently, until browned. Don’t worry if you lose a little bit of your filling (the cheese may ooze a little). You’ll have to work around the toothpicks but it’s doable.

Remove chicken from skillet and place in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Place dish in oven and bake for about 5-10 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

While chicken is in the oven, keep your skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in pan drippings from chicken and add 1 tablespoon of flour. Whisk to combine. Add wine and let simmer a minute or two. Add chicken broth and let simmer until thickened and reduced a little (about 3-5 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate, remove toothpicks and slice chicken into medallions. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with sauce.

Yield: 2 servings

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 426 other followers