Friday, September 20, 2013

Butter Me Up!

Butter.  Secretly, well ok not secretly, one of my most favorite things in my refrigerator.  I admit to using it every morning when making either a fried or scrambled egg for breakfast and then smearing it on my toast as well.  Some may say a guilty pleasure, I say this is just part of my morning routine.

With fall officially here, I know that we (and everyone on Pinterest) are all getting out our favorite comfort food recipes.  Most of those recipes I'm sure include butter and why not kick your butter up a notch.  So what a better way to do that than add some fresh herbs and my other favorite thing in life, wine.  These wine infused compound butters have not only been great on a warm baguette and perfect for my morning breakfast routine, but are amazing for all those comfort food recipes we will all be enjoying as the leaves start to change.

Red Wine Compound Butter with Rosemary and Garlic


Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped and divided in half
1/4 cup red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium piece parchment paper

Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, but not brown, about 2 minutes.  Add half of the rosemary and season with salt and pepper.  Add the wine and cook until it is reduced to about half, occasionally stirring.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely.  

In a medium mixing bowl combine the butter, remainder of the fresh rosemary and the wine reduction.  Mix well, until the reduction is evenly distributed.  Place the compound butter in the center of the parchment paper and roll it up forming a log.  Refrigerate to firm and store for up to 3 weeks.






White Wine Compound Butter with Dill and Shallots


Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped and divided in half
1/4 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium piece parchment paper

Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the shallot and saute until fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes.  Add half of the dill and season with salt and pepper.  Add the wine and cook until it is reduced to about half, occasionally stirring.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely.  


In a medium mixing bowl combine the butter, remainder of the fresh dill, the lemon zest and the wine reduction.  Mix well, until the reduction is evenly distributed.  Place the compound butter in the center of the parchment paper and roll it up forming a log.  Refrigerate to firm and store for up to 3 weeks.
















Thursday, September 12, 2013

Eating Fresh

In efforts to eating fresh and getting back into shape my sister came to me last week asking for some new recipes.  She wanted to be inspired to go out of her comfort zone in cooking and expand her (and her family's) palate.  While she is cooking for a family of five including her husband and three sons, ages 19 months, 6 and 8 years old, finding recipes to accommodate everyone is sometimes a challenge.  We needed fresh, delicious and simple recipes to fit into her busy schedule.  So we brainstormed, perused our Pinterest food boards, discussed which ingredients were in season and came up with a menu for the week.  Yes, we made the same recipes and compared.


Fish seemed to be our hero this week, which her kids love, so we built this recipe around it.  I had recently seen a salad on Twitter with some vibrant roasted spicy carrots in it.  It looked so delicious that I had to create my own thus creating this spicy carrot slaw over pan seared cod.  The mildness of the cod was a perfect pairing to the spiciness and acidity of the slaw.  

While my sister and I live 3,000 miles away from each other we are still cooking and sipping our wine together (thanks to FaceTime) and sharing our love for food. As we celebrate our upcoming birthdays this week and turn another year older, staying healthy by eating and cooking with fresh ingredients will continue to be part of our daily routine.  

I'm not a quote person but I found this and thought it was appropriate (since we're getting back into shape).


"You are what you eat so don't be Fast, Cheap, Easy or Fake."



Spicy Roasted Carrot Slaw with Pan Seared Cod


Ingredients
4 - 6 ounce cod fillets
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
Black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil and some to drizzle 
5-7 whole medium carrots, washed, trimmed and cut in half
1 lemon, cut in half
1 orange, cut in half
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cups shredded green cabbage

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Season the cod with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and set aside.

In a small food processor combine the garlic, cumin, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, coriander and smoked paprika.  Grind until very fine.  Season with black pepper and pulse to combine.  Place the ground spices and garlic into a small bowl  Add the balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir to combine making a paste.

Place the carrots on a foil lined rimed baking sheet.  Spread the garlic spice mixture over the carrots.  Place the halved orange and lemon on top of the carrots.  Roast for 30 minutes

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and add the sliced onions.  Drizzle the onions with olive oil.  Continue to roast the carrots with the onions for another 20-25 minutes, until the carrots are tender and the onions are slightly caramelized, flipping the onions half way through.

Remove the carrots and onions from the oven and allow to cool.  Once cool enough to handle juice the orange and lemon halves into a small bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Roughly chop the cooled roasted carrots and onions.  Place them into a medium mixing bowl and add the green cabbage.  Pour the orange and lemon juice dressing over top and toss to combine.  Set aside.

In a medium pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Carefully place the cod fillets in the pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Gently flip the fish and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Serve with the spicy roasted carrot slaw on top.  



Makes 4 servings.







Friday, September 6, 2013

Peanut Butter S'mores Cheescake

I made this cheesecake about a week ago and planned to wait to blog about it until mid-September.  I have to admit I was waiting for the weather to become a bit cooler since I baked it on a day when the temperature was in the triple digits. No one should be turning on their oven in that kind of heat!  However, my "official tasters" (my neighbors and friends) won't shut up about the Peanut Butter S'mores Cheesecake I shared with them, in a really good way.  Since it's already made its debut on Twitter and Instagram, thanks to my "tasters,"  I figured I should put my other recipes on hold and share this one instead. I hope you all enjoy it as much as all of my dear friends and neighbors did!


Peanut Butter S'mores Cheesecake


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Crust:

Ingredients
2 cups honey graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


In a small mixing bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar.  Add the melted butter and combine using a fork making sure the butter is evenly distributed.  Pour the graham cracker crust into a 9 inch springform pan.  Spread the graham cracker crumbs evenly and gently press them into the pan.  Place the springform pan on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes.  The crust should be golden brown and fragrant.  Remove from the oven and set aside.


Filling:

Ingredients
16 ounces cream cheese, soften
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons flour
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, sugar, peanut butter and flour together until smooth and creamy.  Add the 4 eggs one at a time scraping the sides between each one.  Slowly add the milk and vanilla extract and beat until combined.  Carefully pour the filling into the springform pan on top of the graham cracker crust.

Place the springform pan on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 35-45 minutes.  The cheesecake will be ready when the edges are set and the center wiggles.  Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to rest for about 10-15 minutes.  This allows the cheesecake to set.  Transfer the cheesecake in the springform pan to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Topping:

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
1 - 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Once the cheesecake has cooled completely, spread the Marshmallow Fluff on top.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips covering the cheesecake completely.  Refrigerate overnight.

Serves 8-10.


Note: For my west coast readers, if you can't find the original Marshmallow Fluff in your local grocery store look for it at World Market.



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fig Goat Cheese Burger with Crispy Prosciutto

I had the pleasure of enjoying an amazing lunch with my husband yesterday.  We indulged in a super flavorful and juicy burger and complimented it with a new Firestone beer I found  at Whole Foods.  I officially end my summer next week and go back to teaching so I thought we should enjoy our days off while we can.  

I recently was so fortunate to find some really yummy green figs a Trader Joe's.  While I have been enjoying the delicious black figs this summer, it was refreshing to find these sweet and slightly tart beauties.  I often find myself eating them on a piece of toast with goat cheese and drizzle of honey.  So I thought why not combine those figs with the goat cheese and spread it on a burger. I have to say I was quite please by the result and so was Greg.  Enjoy!



Fig Goat Cheese Burger with Crispy Prosciutto


Ingredients
1 pound ground beef (lamb, turkey, chicken or vegetarian will work too)
1/4 of a medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce 
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup green fig and goat cheese spread (see notes below)
4 slices prosciutto 
1 large tomato, sliced
1-1/2 cup Arugula
4 hamburger buns or bread of your choice, slightly toasted

In a mixing bowl combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, worcestershire sauce and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Divide the beef into four and form patties.  Set aside.

In a small pan or on a griddle over medium high heat crisp the prosciutto, cooking it for about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan and set aside.

On either a grill, cast iron skillet, or large pan over high heat cook the burgers for about 3-5 minutes per side or to desired doneness (I was going for medium but as you can see I seemed to hit a medium well instead, but don't worry it was still juicy). 

Place each burger on a slightly toasted bun.  Dollop 1 tablespoon of the green fig and goat cheese spread on each burger.  Top with the crispy prosciutto, tomato and arugula.  Serve immediately.  Makes 4 burgers.




Green Fig and Goat Cheese Spread


Ingredients
3-4 green figs, quartered  (black figs will work too)
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Drizzle of honey
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor place the goat cheese and thyme.  Blend until combined and goat cheese is smooth.  Add the figs and blend until combined.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle a bit of honey.  Pulse to combine.  Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.  





 This is what I had for breakfast.  A warm and crusty baguette topped with the green fig and goat cheese spread and prosciutto.  Just so many things you could put this spread on!!