Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Food Trends

Well this is the time of year when notable food authorities make predictions about the popular food trends for the coming year and which items have gone by the wayside. I just love this blog post that I came across about the worst food trends of the decade. I got a good laugh.

Bon Appetit's Hottest Food Trends for 2010:

  • Dish of the Year: Meatballs - I love meatballs from most all cuisines! I am most definitely on board with meatballs trend or no trend!
    Albondigas, keftedes, kofta, Swedish, pork meatball banh mi, and of course Italian!

  • Cuisine of the Year: "New Austrian"
    Since I am of German descent, I like to try dishes from the region. When my great grandparents first came to the US, they opened a German-American restaurant. When the war broke out, it was not popular to be German in the US and the restaurant was changed to the American restaurant. The German on the sign was painted over. I am glad to see some culinary recognition and popularity for fare from this region. Some of my favorites are sauerbraten, wienerschnitzel, spaetzle, and soft pretzels!

    Craft beers are very popular right now. I am a wine drinker and had not had a beer in a very long time. Well, let me tell you a cold beer and a homemade soft pretzel - heavenly! I have been searching for a really good soft pretzel recipe and finally found one. So good! I haven't perfected shaping the pretzel - hehe... pretty funny looking but the taste makes up for it!

  • Ingredient of the Year: Sriracha
    My family loves hot sauce. My daughter even likes it on pizza and eggs. Great ingredient!

  • Party of the Year: Modern Vegetarian
    I try to eat vegetarian meals a few times a week but I do not know that I would host an all-vegetarian party. Vegetarian options - yes. I'm not quite feeling this trend.

  • Desserts of the Year: All-American Comforts
    Slump cake, Apple Brown Betty, and Coconut Cake - I am not too much of a dessert eater but these all sound good. Forget about trends, I do like a good chocolate chip cookie, New York style cheesecake or a brownie with nuts!

Epicurious has its own list which includes

  • Dish - fried chicken (out with burgers)
  • Dessert - mini whoopie pies (out with mini cupcakes)
  • Ingredient -lamb (out with pork)
  • Health trend - immunity building diet (out - dining on Omega 3s)
  • Drink - homemade beer (out - mad-science cocktails)
  • Profession - butcher (out -mixologist)
  • Entertaining trend - potlucks (out - formal dinners at home)

While it is fun to look at trends, I don't think that they will influence me that much. I will keep trying new ingredients and recipes, but will try to lighten things up following the absolute gluttony of the past few weeks! I will make what I like and forget about the rest.

I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Challah Bread French Toast

Everyone makes french toast - no recipe needed! Milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and I add a pinch of fresh nutmeg. What makes french toast spectacular is great bread. My favorite is challah. Challah bread is a rich, beautiful, braided bread and makes for a decadent french toast. I served the french toast with whipped cinnamon butter and warm maple syrup (real maple syrup - sorry Mrs. Butterworth!)

Cinnamon Butter:
1 stick softened butter
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Recipe By: Beatrice Ojakangas

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite cookie hands down is the chocolate chip. I'm not too much of a sweets eater but I cannot resist a good chocolate chip cookie - especially at the holidays! When I saw the Baking Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on browneyedbaker, I knew that I had to make them. They were so delicious - actually too delicious - I didn't stop at just one! Thank goodness these evil cookies are now gone. They are dangerous!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Visiting New Jersey

My brother arrived from "The OC" (Orange County, California) on Saturday just in time for the big storm. 22" of snow fell at the Jersey Shore, which is a huge snowfall for this area. After a flight delay and a harried shuttle ride, my husband picked him up at the local shuttle stop which is about 6 miles away. The short drive took 45 minutes each way. When he arrived at my house it was late and we ate junk food. Perfect snowed-in type of TGIFriday's 1980's menu items. Oh, and he downed two Dunkin Donuts upon his arrival at Newark airport (and he's the skinny one!) I can't believe that there are no Dunkin Donuts in California! In fact the closest to him is in Las Vegas. Here in New Jersey, we can't go much more than a mile without stumbling upon a Dunkin Donuts shop! That's kind of scary, now that I think about it! I'm not really a fan - luckily! Well it might be beautiful, sunny and warm in California but who would want to miss a good old fashioned fun and dysfunctional family Christmas with a snowstorm to boot?! Merry Christmas to all! Wishing you all the best for a safe and happy holiday!

Recipe for Mexican Style Shredded Beef in a Crockpot
1 lb. beef cubes
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1 chopped onion
1/4 cup salsa verde
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Toss beef cubes in the taco seasoning to coat. Lightly grease the crock pot casserole with vegetable oil. Add the seasoned beef cubes, chopped onion, salsa verde, and vinegar. Cook on low for several hours. Shred with two forks. The beef is perfect for nachos and tacos.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Tidbits and Addictions

My cousin Jill sent me these fabulous homemade rum balls. She claims that she is not a very good cook but these prove otherwise! I love this time of year!

This is my favorite crumb cake recipe. Martha Stewart knows her stuff when it comes to NY style crumb cake! I made this for my husband to share with his office. I snuck a few pieces for my daughters and me :)

I love this cheese at Christmas time! A glass of wine and Wensleydale with Cranberries - perfect!
Oh, and I can't stop eating these green olives that I picked up at Whole Foods. I'm not sure what's different than usual about them, but yes, I'm addicted!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Salmon with Mushrooms and Dill

Following the gluttony of Thanksgiving, I really wanted something light and healthful for dinner. What came to mind was salmon. Well, this is one of my favorite and easiest recipes for salmon. I portion the salmon into 6 oz. pieces and season them lightly with salt, pepper, and add a small drizzle of olive oil to keep the salmon from sticking to the pan. I top the fillets with sliced mushrooms and plenty of fresh dill. Lastly, I add a small pat of butter to the top of each fillet and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes (until it flakes easily with a fork). So simple, yet absolutely delicious! Dinner ready in twenty minutes - I love that!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Spinach Salad and a Prime Rib Sandwich

Today is National Comfort Food Day and the weather is terrible here in NJ (just above freezing and rainy)! I'm sure that it is snowing in other parts of the State. The perfect day for comfort food. I have lots of favorite comfort foods (generally cheesy, high caloric foods :) but I was really in the mood for a steak sandwich. I rarely eat red meat but every once in a while I really crave it. The butcher had beautiful, thinly sliced, prime rib. I sauteed an onion and sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil. I seasoned the onions and mushrooms with salt, fresh pepper, and some fresh thyme. I added the thinly sliced meat after the onions and mushrooms were cooked and lastly added grated gruyere cheese. Served it on toasted rolls. Heavenly!

I also made The Pioneer Woman's Spinach Salad. It was fantastic! I love how Ree fixed what I don't like about most spinach salads, namely raw red onions and uncooked mushrooms. Carmelized onions and sauteed mushrooms are so much better. Perfect! Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Bourbon Sauce

This pork chop recipe is super easy and the sauce is so tasty! Yes, the sauce is the star here - yum! I think that it is the perfect recipe for this time of year. I served the pork chops with baked sweet potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts - healthy and delicious!

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Bourbon Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Cuisine at Home magazine, June 2002
Pork Chop Brine:
Dissolve in one gallon resealable freezer bag:
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 cups ice water
Dissolve salt and sugar in hot water. It helps to set the bag inside a large bowl in case of spills or leaks. Add ice water to brine. This will cool the brine quickly. Add the pork and seal the bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Just before cooking, dry chops to remove excess brine.
4 1″-thick brined rip chops
2 T olive oil
1 T garlic, chopped
1 T shallot, chopped
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup bourbon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T apple cider vinegar
2 T heavy cream
Reserved pork chops
Preheat oven to 425. Season chops with pepper. Dust lightly with flour. Brown one side in olive oil over medium-high heat. Turn, cover and roast in oven for about 10 minutes. While the chops are in the oven, saute garlic and shallot in 1 T drippings over medium-high heat until soft. Deglaze pan with bourbon and broth. Add sugar and vinegar; reduce by half. Add cream and pork chops to pan and cook for 2 minutes each side until sauce is thick. Makes 1 cup sauce.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Risotto with Shrimp, Peas and Frizzled Onions

Back to work after a long holiday weekend… so hard... I love risotto. It is quick to make, comforting, satisfying, and relatively light. A lot of the richness comes from the chicken stock but there is just enough butter and cheese to make it taste decadent. I like to add shrimp and some kind of vegetable to make it a complete meal. I only had peas in the house so that is what I used ( I also love asparagus). The frizzled onions do add some calories but I love the texture - crispy onions with creamy risotto – yum!


2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (simmered)
2 tbs. butter
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 cup defrosted peas (or asparagus pieces)

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saute pan. Add the diced onion and cook until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Next add the rice, and stir into the onion mixture. Cook the rice until lightly browned, stirring often. Add the wine and simmer rigorously until the wine is mostly reduced. Add the simmering stock one ladle full at a time, allowing the stock to mostly reduce before adding the next. Stir often, but no need to constantly stir. Once all of the stock has been incorporated, add the butter to the rice. Sauté the shrimp in a separate pan with the peas until the shrimp are just cooked through. Add the shrimp and peas to the rice and lastly add the grated cheese. Stir to combine. Plate and top with frizzled onions.

Frizzled Onions

1 small onion sliced thinly across the rings
1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying

Toss the onions with the seasoned flour. Shake off excess flour. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet until hot. Add the onions and pan fry until they are golden. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

At my family's request we had a super traditional and relaxing Thanksgiving. The Griggstown Quail Farm turkey was the most delicious turkey that we have ever had! Unbelievably good! Fresh and local is definitely the way to go! The sides were dressing (I didn't stuff it in the turkey), whipped potatoes, cabernet cranberries, butternut squash puree, creamed onions, mashed turnips, biscuits, and the dreaded green bean casserole with crunchy onions - I tried to lose it :) but I was overruled! It was so nice to have my family together to enjoy a delicious meal. Nothing fancy, just fresh, homemade, traditional foods. What a great day! The best is that I got a huge turkey and we have lots of leftovers! Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed holiday season to all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce

I absolutely love pork tenderloin. It is so versatile and quick enough to make on a busy weeknight. One of my favorite go-to pork tenderloin recipes is Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce. Dinner was on the table in about 30 minutes and was just delicious. I rubbed the baked potatoes with olive oil and sprinkled with plenty of coarse kosher salt. The brussels sprouts were tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted. Quick, healthy, and super tasty!

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce Bon Appétit | November 1998

Yield: Serves 2, can be doubled

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 8- to 10-ounce pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450°F. Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes. Place skillet with pork in oven. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 155°F, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and rosemary; sauté until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add broth, cranberry sauce and vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes.

Transfer pork to work surface. Scrape any juices from large skillet into cranberry mixture. Boil until sauce has reduced enough to coat spoon thickly, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Slice pork and serve with sauce.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dinner for Two

One daughter away at Disney and one away at college. The house is too quiet! Our poor little cocker spaniel and I are not too happy!

I did take the opportunity, however, to make a nice dinner for two. The inspiration for this dish came from a local Italian restaurant's menu (La Dolce Vita). I have never had this pasta dish but the menu description sounded delicious and gave me a starting point. I was feeling creative so I gave it a shot and I made this most delicious pasta dish. I quickly tried to jot down the ingredients and measurements before I forgot. Many times I have made something that we really liked but later I couldn't remember exactly how I made it. My husband raved about it - success! I could go for it again tonight! It was that good!

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion diced
4 - 6 shiitake mushrooms sliced
2 oz. sliced prosciutto di parma
1/3 cup white wine
8 large shrimp peeled and deveined (21-25 ct.)
½ cup frozen peas
1 ½ cups crushed tomatoes or pureed diced tomatoes
½ cup heavy cream
grated parmigiano reggiano

Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauté pan. Add diced onions and once they begin to soften add the shiitake mushrooms. Cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned. Add the prosciutto and shrimp. Once the shrimp is pink on the outside, add the wine to deglaze the pan. Next add the peas. After about a minute add the tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes pureed in the food processor). Simmer until the shrimp are just cooked through. Next add the cream followed by the grated parmesan cheese. Toss with fresh fettucine and serve immediately. Buon appetito!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Please Support Your Local Farms

Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville is a 400 acre certified organic farm that supplies grass-fed lamb and beef, pastured heirloom pork, free range eggs, and artisinal cheeses to the local community. The farm is just beautiful and the animals are all well cared for. Eggs are $5 a dozen, which may seem a little pricey but trust me they are worth every penny. Store bought eggs cannot compare! I've also had their Italian sausage, ground beef, and cheeses. If you have not seen Food, Inc., I would highly recommend it. I saw it at a small theater in Asbury Park, NJ over the summer. I see that it is now available on dvd at Amazon. It will change the way you look at food production in the US.

Last weekend, Cherry Grove Farm hosted their annual Pasture Party. My husband, two daughters and I attended on Sunday. It was such a beautiful day here in NJ - sunny and the highs were in the low 70's (amazing for November). Cherry Grove partnered with other local businesses to bring fresh, local foods to their customers. Food and drinks were supplied by Nomad Pizza, Small World Coffee, Village Bakery, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Hopewell Valley Vineyards, and of course Cherry Grove Farm. One disappointment was the lack of The Bent Spoon, from neighboring Princeton, which features artisan ice cream - which had been there on Saturday, serving pumpkin mascarpone ice cream, but didn't return on Sunday :(

Nomad Pizza is a traveling pizzeria, complete with a wood-fired oven, that serves delicious pizza made with fresh local, and organic ingredients. We sampled onion and mushroom, pepperoni, and pizza margherita - yum! Cherry Grove served their fresh handmade cheeses, grass fed beef burgers, macaroni and cheese, pasta with andouille sausage, potato salad, macaroni salad, pulled pork, and fresh lamb... a feast! I also enjoyed an Extra Pale Ale from Flying Fish Brewing Co. Fresh artisan breads and rolls from The Village bakery were also served. Dessert was also supplied by The Village bakery and consisted of bread pudding and a delicious apple cake made from organic apples from local Terhunes Orchards. The coffee that I tried from Small World Coffee was "crispy hippie", a Mexican coffee, that was quite delicious.

Cherry Grove also had a hay ride, live music, and arts and crafts for the children. The weather was perfect, the crowd was friendly, what a nice afternoon. We enjoyed a nice family day together, drove my daughter back to Swarthmore, and then headed home. We'll see her soon for Thanksgiving! I would like to make the Pasture Party an annual tradition. Please support your local farms and businesses. They need everyone's support to survive, especially in this economy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weekday Dinner and Dessert

I used to be able to do it all - but not lately. For years I would work all day, run home to get dinner ready, and then head off to class 2-3 times per week. Now, dinner and dessert on a weeknight is a chore. Long since done with my MBA ... I can't get my act together during the week. Maybe I need to go back to school?

Well, I saw this incredible dessert on Stacey Snacks, with the post title Brown Butter Bliss: Make This Tonight! Everything Stacey makes is amazing and since I went to Catholic school, I am a good at following instructions! I had plans and couldn't make it that night, but Stacey was kind enough to grant me a reprieve. Since, I can't seem to be able to handle both dinner and dessert, I bought dinner and made dessert. That is really unusual for me. I always choose cooking over baking. Many times, I will cook and my daughters will bake, which works out well. One daughter off at college, the other furiously working on college applications, so what to do..?

I have been wanting to try the turkey pot pie from Griggstown Quail Farm and just learned that they are available at Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck, NJ. I am a big fan of Griggstown and have ordered my Thanksgiving turkey from them. Their fresh poultry is so good, but it is over an hour away from home. Delicious Orchards is a wonderful market, which is easy to drop by on my way home from work. They carry lots of organic and specialty items. They are famous for their pies, apple cider, and donuts. I ran in and picked up a Griggstown turkey pot pie, apples for dessert, and of course a pack of apple cider donuts! I popped the pot pie in the oven and made the dessert.

The pot pie was really delicious. The turkey bites were so good and there were lots of delicious vegetables. The crust is made from puff pastry - yum! Oh, and dessert - amazing! Warm apples, cinnamon, and the butter... Mmmmm... loved it! I love it when a plan comes together! Thanks Stacey! I think that this dessert will make an appearance again at Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup with Poblanos

Above: The soup before using the immersion blender or adding the cream
I saw this recipe in an email update that I received from Griggstown Quail Market. The recipe was submitted by a customer and was originally from The Asylum restaurant in Arizona. It is a very cold day here in New Jersey. The frost certainly is on the pumpkins! I had soup on my mind - so this looked perfect. I had all of the ingredients in the house to make this soup, so I got to work. The kitchen smelled so good with the butternut squash, poblano peppers, and garlic roasting. Mmmm...

I mostly followed the recipe but made a few changes. I roasted the butternut squash, the poblano peppers, and the garlic (wrapped in foil) all on the same baking tray. I removed them as they were done - peppers first, followed by the garlic, and lastly the squash. I sauteed the onions and serrano chili in a little olive oil until beginning to brown, added the beer, let it cook off a little, then added all of the remaining ingredients, except for the cream . I used 3 cloves of the roasted garlic. The recipe didn't specify but I used my immersion blender to make it a nice smooth texture. Lastly, I added the heavy cream.

I really liked the sweet and heat combination. Delicious!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pizza Cavolfiore

I picked up a beautiful, locally grown cauliflower. What to make with it? Maybe soup - I've been constantly in the mood for soup since it has gotten colder here in NJ. I know - cauliflower pizza, yes, definitely cauliflower pizza in the style of Grandaisy Bakery. Thin crust, gruyere cheese, roasted cauliflower, bread crumbs, and fresh parsley. In an attempt to replicate the popular pizza cavolfiore at the Grandaisy Bakery in New York City, I came up with this rendition:

Pizza Dough

1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
1 tseaspoon kosher salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir in the yeast, sugar, and water with a spoon. Slowly add the flour, with the mixer on low. Add the salt and knead the dough at speed 2 until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and clings to the dough hook. Remove the dough from the mixer (it should be smooth and only very slightly tacky) and place in a well oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm area to rise. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Recover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 large cauliflower washed and cored
salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Slice the cauliflower florets away from the head into small pieces. Place on a baking sheet (in a single layer), toss with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until lightly browned (approx 30 minutes).

Prepare the Pizza

Press the dough ( I only used about 2/3rds of the dough) into a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush the crust lightly with olive oil and let rise again. Top with shredded gruyere, the roasted cauliflower, and sprinkle with fresh toasted bread crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with good olive oil.

The Reviews

My husband really liked it. My daughter not so much a fan... and I think that it was a valiant first attempt - with a little tweaking could be perfect. My crust stuck to the pan in spots. A little more gruyere would have been better... but it satisfied my craving for this pizza without an hour commute into the City!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Roasted Delicata Squash and a Fall Dinner

I was so happy to see delicata squash at my local farm market . It is so delicious and so easy to prepare, unlike some other squash (sorry butternut, I'm talking about you!) I nearly lost a finger or two lately preparing various butternut squash dishes! Delicata is very versatile but I think simply roasted is the best - why mask the delicious, and I mean ultra-delicious, natural flavor of the squash?

I cut the delicata in half lengthwise, scooped out the seeds, cut each in half again to make quarters, seasoned with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. I placed it in a baking dish cut side up and roasted at 400 degrees for approx. 40 minutes.

It's funny because I actually planned my whole dinner around the delicata squash. What would be good with the delicata squash...? Well, I thought that a roasted chicken with a pan sauce seasoned with fresh thyme would be great, an autumn salad, and cranberry chutney. Well the cranberry chutney didn't happen - no fresh cranberries - I meant to pick some up... Oh, yes that is the Ocean Spray jiggly canned variety of cranberry sauce on my plate! I grew up with it and I admittedly do actually really like it :) Perfect fall dinner.

Interesting information about delicata squash from

Delicata Squash - Also called Peanut squash and Bohemian squash. This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like corn and sweet potatoes. Size may range from 5 to 10 inches in length. The squash can be baked or steamed The thin skin is also edible.

The delicata squash is actually an heirloom variety, a fairly recent reentry into the culinary world. It was originally introduced by the Peter Henderson Company of New York City in 1894, and was popular through the 1920s. Then it fell into obscurity for about seventy-five years, possibly because of its thinner, more tender skin, which isn't suited to transportation over thousands of miles and storage over months.

Available year-round - is best late summer through early fall.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10 Minute Shrimp Dinner

I worked late and needed something quick for dinner. Thank goodness for frozen peeled and deveined shrimp. Quick sides were couscous, which cooks in five minutes, zucchini, steamed in the microwave, and a tossed salad, made with Earthbound Farms mesclun mix. Ready, set, go - defrost shrimp in colander, make sauce for the shrimp, toss a salad, steam zucchini in the microwave, and make couscous.

I also made a delicious appetizer which took less than five minutes. I am a huge fan of feta cheese! What do I like even better than feta? Well, fried feta of course! I sliced one inch slices from the block of feta, dipped in beaten egg, coated in panko crumbs and pan fried in olive oil until golden brown. Served with a wedge of lemon. Mediterranean in minutes!

Spicy Garlic Rosemary Shrimp
Recipe courtesy of Sara Moulton

1 pound medium shrimp, deveined, peeled, tail end left on
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice
To a large skillet, add olive oil and garlic slices and cook over moderate heat until golden. Remove garlic chips.

To the skillet, add rosemary, pepper flakes, and shrimp, and cook, stirring, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and transfer to serving dish. Squeeze some lemon juice over shrimp.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

German Jaeger Schnitzel

There is something about this time of year that makes me appreciate my German heritage (Dad's side of the family). When I think October, I think Octoberfest. In the US, Octoberfest activities are featured throughout the month of October. In Germany, Oktoberfest is a sixteen day festival, held in Munich, commencing on the third Saturday in September. It is a huge folk festival, with lots of great food, and of course beer. Although Oktoberfest has officially ended (September 19th - October 4th this year) the cool fall weather is perfect for hearty German food. I was in the mood for a creamy mushroom sauce ever since I saw this amazing dish on Ciao Chow Linda. I need to make that pasta dish! Well, back to the jaegerschnitzel... lightly breaded, pan fried pork cutlets topped with a creamy mushroom wine sauce - lecker!

Jaegerschnitzel with Mushroom Sauce
By Jennifer McGavin,

•1 small shallot or onion, 1/2 c. chopped
•1 T. butter
•8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
•1/2 c. broth
•1/2 c. white wine
•1/2 c. + 2 T. half and half or cream, divided
•2 T. flour or brown rice flour
•1/4 tsp. salt
•Freshly ground pepper
•3 T. fresh parsley, chopped
•1 lb. (400 grams) pork cutlets from roast cut 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick
•3 T. flour or brown rice flour
•1/4 tsp. salt
•Freshly ground pepper
•1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
•2 T. butter

Note: I used onion, not shallot, and heavy cream.

Jaegersauce Preparation
Sauté onion until translucent, add sliced mushrooms, brown for 5 minutes. Add broth and wine, cook 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of half and half or cream, bring to a boil and simmer for several minutes. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons of cream with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add flour slurry to mushroom mixture and bring to a boil, stirring to avoid clumps. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm while cutlets are cooked.

Schnitzel Preparation
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Lay out cutlets on cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound until thin (1/4 inch thick or less). Dip in flour mixed with pepper, salt and cayenne pepper, shake off extra flour and sauté in 2 tablespoons butter for 3 minutes on each side.

Serve with sauce and potatoes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Eggplant and Goat Cheese - Perfect!

There is something so good about the combination of eggplant and goat cheese. The tangy, melty cheese is perfect with the lightly fried, creamy eggplant. This is my husband's favorite preparation of eggplant. This dish was inspired by Lasagnette of Eggplant and Goat Cheese on I used my own homemade marinara and assembled without measuring ingredients. Delicious!

Peel the eggplant and slice it lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Salt the eggplant and leave in a colander for 30 minutes. Next, rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Dredge the eggplant slices in flour seasoned with fresh black pepper.

Heat olive oil (about an inch) in a large saute pan. Fry the slices, turning once, until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels.

Layer in a baking dish, marinara sauce, followed by a layer of eggplant, another thin layer of marinara, sprinkle with freshly grated parm. reggiano and chopped parsley. Dot with goat cheese. Repeat layering. End with a eggplant, topped with marinara and sprinkled with extra parm., parsley, and fine dried bread crumbs. Bake at 375 until bubbly and browned.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brazilian Shrimp Soup

I loved, loved, loved this soup. Tasty, one pot, simple, hearty, yet healthy. I love the balance of the sweetness from the coconut milk with the spice of the crushed red pepper and the saltiness of the shrimp - *drool*.

Brazilian Shrimp Soup
Recipe by Quick From Scratch Soups & Salads

I saw this recipe posted a while back on Savory Spicy Sweet and it looked so good! I've had it on my mind ever since! I added extra crushed red pepper flakes as Liz suggested.

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from one 15-ounce can)
5 cups water
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and cut in half horizontally
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

1.In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes.
2.Add the rice, red-pepper flakes, salt, tomatoes, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 10 minutes.
3.Stir the coconut milk into the soup. Bring back to a simmer and then stir in the shrimp. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just done, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the black pepper, lemon juice, and parsley.

Variation: Instead of the shrimp, use one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about three), cut crosswise into quarter-inch strips. Cook for the same amount of time.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Baked Apple Pancake

Apples and cinnamon, what a perfect combination. Sort of a cross between a crepe and a pancake, this baked apple dish is delicious!
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 extra large eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 large apple sliced thinly
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, milk and eggs. Melt butter in an oven-proof nonstick skillet. Remove from heat. Add batter and arrange sliced apples on top. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.

Source: Bickford's Restaurant Braintree, MA

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nostalgic Sandwich

When is the last time that you had a turkey club sandwich? I couldn't tell you the last time that I had one. This was one of my favorites as a child. Something was just so festive about the toothpicks with colored cellophane frill! The giant sandwich, served with a tiny paper cup of coleslaw and fries cooked in a terrible for you cooking oil, was so good.

Well, I have pretty much sworn off cold cuts, except for a very rare sub sandwich splurge. I never eat turkey from the supermarket deli - yuck!

I was so in the mood for a turkey club sandwich - I had beautiful lettuce from the farm market, as well as a Jersey tomato, and bacon from the Amish market. So, I headed over to the local turkey farm store (Hinck's free range turkeys since 1938) and picked up real sliced turkey breast. 3 slices of white toast, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato slices, and a smear of mayo -delicious!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

If you love brussels sprouts or even if you think that you hate them, try this great recipe from Cooking Light. Even proclaimed brussels sprouts haters love this recipe! Light, sweet, savory with a nice crunch - perfect! Great autumn side dish.

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Light
8 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup)

2 teaspoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 cups halved and thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 teaspoons coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in Brussels sprouts; sauté 2 minutes. Add broth and sugar; cook 5 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently. Stir in salt. Sprinkle with pecans.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Honeycrisp Apples

Thank you Andrew for spreading the word on Honeycrisp apples! Who knew the best apples, which originated at the University of Minnesota, would be grown at local NJ orchards (Terhune Orchards in Princeton and Peaceful Valley Orchards in *oh my* Pittstown, NJ)? I grew up in Hunterdon County and often rode my bike to Pittstown. My love of vegetables, farm markets, etc. all began there. Ah... Pittstown, home of Dalrymple's Market (later Kuch's), Bodine Lumber and the Pittstown Inn... None of which probably exist today! Wow - probably just totally dated myself! Well anyway, these "best apples" are Honeycrisp (hybrid -cross between Macoun and Honeygold) and if you haven't tried them yet - please do! They are very crisp, sweet, but also a little tart - perfect! They are expensive but worth it. I actually picked mine up at Costco but would love to get them at one of the NJ orchards.
Apples are perfect in a fall salad!

Fall Salad

mesclun mix
apple slices (preferably Honeycrisp)
crumbled feta (or goat cheese)
toasted pecans (or walnuts)
red onion slices (I did not add this time)
balsamic vinaigrette - Epicurious March 2003

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Break - Welcome Home!

My daughter is home for a week on fall break. I am so happy to have a full house! Her first night home dinner request was homemade pizza. We do a lot of Friday pizza nights so it was perfect. I served the pizza with a big antipasto platter. She is feeling deprived of fresh veggies. I will really enjoy cooking this week!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pork Chops Milanese

Have you ever gone out to eat, loved a dish so much, that you couldn't wait to try to replicate it at home? Well, that's exactly what happened to me when I had the most delicious pork chop dish at Osteria in Philadelphia. The tenderest, juiciest pork chop with crisp parmesan breading, topped with an arugula salad - outstanding! Well, I have not been able to replicate their dish, but I have come up with my own version which is quite delicious!

For the pork chops:

4 boneless center cut pork chops (pounded thinly with a meat mallet)
Seasoned flour for dusting
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 cup panko bread crumbs
olive oil for pan frying

Dust the pork chops with the seasoned (salt and pepper) flour, coating lighly, and tap off any excess. Next, dip the pork chops into the egg, and finally into the panko crumbs mixed with the grated cheese. Press the bread crumb and cheese mixture onto the pork chops to get a nice even coating. Heat, over medium-high, enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large saute pan. Add the pork chops and cook until golden brown (approx. 3-4 minutes per side). Drain on a paper towel lined plate.

For the arugula salad:

1 bunch of arugula or baby arugula (rocket) washed and spun in a salad spinner
1/2 lemon juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper

Juice the lemon into a small mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Serve the pork chop topped with the arugula, drizzled with the dressing. Shave fresh parmigiano-reggiano over top using a vegetable peeler. Serve immediately! Pour a glass of wine and play Andrea Bocelli - buon appetito!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Shrimp Fra Diavolo in a Flash

For busy weeknights, pasta and shrimp dishes are great! They come together fast, are satisfying, and delicious.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium low heat. Add 6 cloves of minced garlic (I use my Cuisinart mini chopper). Stir often and be sure not to burn the garlic. Once the garlic softens, add a 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes in puree. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - yes a whole teaspoon! We like it a little hot. :) Break up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to a quick boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1lb. of shelled, deveined shrimp into the tomatoes, and cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Top with fresh chopped parsley. Serve over top of cooked pasta.

This is a great basic recipe. You could always add a little red wine, some capers, scallops, basil, etc. I served the pasta with roasted asparagus and toasted Italian bread, rubbed with a garlic clove, and drizzled with olive oil. Perfect!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In Search of the Perfect College and Perfect Tomato Pie!

Back on the college hunt! We are actively searching for the perfect college for my younger daughter. We have a short list - well actually a long list! A Boston area college, that's on the list, was holding an information session, not too far away. So my daughter and I decided to go, and while in the area, why not go to one of our very favorite pizza places? Food somehow makes its way into most of my plans :). Wait, did I say pizza? Pardon me, it's tomato pie. So what's the difference? Supposedly, the order of toppings - cheese, other toppings, followed by canned tomatoes. No pizza sauce or grated cheese are served. The crust is cooked until just shy of being burned. The pie is then unevenly sliced - no perfect triangles here! May sound a little strange but it's so good!

DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies is a NJ institution! Established in 1947 in Trenton, NJ. We visited the relatively new 2nd location in Robbinsville, which is really nice but I still have fond memories of the Trenton location. I haven't been back to the Trenton location since the owner "Chick" DeLorenzo passed away a couple of years ago. He was very proud of his tomato pies! The Trenton location is definitely a throw back - old manual cash register, rotary phone, no bathroom, celebrity photos, and a line out the door... oh and delicious tomato pies! The Robbinsville location is so nice - open kitchen, nice decor, friendly staff, bathrooms, and still delicious tomato pies. It's definitely my location of choice from now on.

I wanted to share some photos of this legendary NJ tomato pie but we forgot the camera. So sad, all I have are pictures of cold leftover slices in a non-environmentally friendly take away box and a a half wilted salad :(. If you are a pizza aficionado, such as myself, DeLorenzo's should be on your must try list. I found a great review and pictures of DeLorenzo's on

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"O" Recipe - Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme and Giant Gruyère Crostini

I really wanted to help support this great cause (ovarian cancer awareness) (please see below). I searched through many "O" recipes and ended up choosing an onion soup recipe. It is a cool fall day here in NJ, so it just seemed like it would be a good choice. I followed the recipe but made 1 1/2 times since three of us are home tonight. I am counting the days until my older daughter is home from college for a week! Ahhh cooking for four again - can't wait!

Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme and Giant Gruyère Crostini
Epicurious February 2009
by Jessica Strand
Cooking for Two: Perfect Meals for Pairs

1 pound yellow onions, halved and thinly cut lengthwise
3 to 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups beef stock
1 cup water
1 1/2-inch-thick slice of ciabatta bread cut in half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss Gruyère cheese

In a heavy 5-quart pot melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions are deep amber and exceedingly soft, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine, increase the heat, and let the wine bubble away for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and water, and let the soup simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to broil. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.

Place the ciabatta on the middle rack of the oven and toast until crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the soup and discard. Pour the soup into two ovenproof bowls, float the toasted ciabatta on top, and cover it with a thick layer of the Gruyère. Put the soup bowls under the broiler on the middle rack and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and golden.

"September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are hosting the O Foods Contest to raise awareness of this important health issue.
There are TWO WAYS to take part in the O Foods Contest:
ONE: Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato); include this entire text box in the post; and send your post url along with a photo (100 x 100) to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.
PRIZES for recipe posts:
1st: Signed copy of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who is currently battling ovarian cancer, inspired this event, and will be choosing her favorite recipe for this prize;
2nd: Signed copy of Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home by Mario Batali (winner chosen by Sara);
3rd: Signed copy of Vino Italiano: The Regional Italian Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich (winner chosen by Michelle).
TWO: If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word and send your post url to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.
Awareness posts PRIZE:
One winner chosen at random will receive a Teal Toes tote bag filled with ovarian cancer awareness goodies that you can spread around amongst your friends and family.
From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose, but include bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
In spite of this, patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
And remember, you can also always donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at our page through FirstGiving!
Please help spread the word about ovarian cancer.Together we can make enough noise to kill this silent killer.