Monday, August 30, 2010

New Camera! Arugula-Walnut Pesto Pasta

So ready for September 10th! I get to go back to Texas to help my mom cater a 4-day retreat for her work. I get to see my mom, have fun cooking with her (we always make amazing food), and get paid at the same time! Poor Jeffrey, when I told him that I was going to be out of town for 6 days he made a sad face and said "your going to leave me!"....but he is working on set everyday from 6am-8pm so he won't miss me too much. 

Here is the first meal I shoot with my new camera. It was trial and error so I didn't get every photo. Yesterday I had a video chat with Jeffrey's cousin Timmy (who sold us the camera), and he gave me some pointers. These photos were taken before those pointers, but they still look 10 times better!

Arugula-Walnut Pesto Pasta
1/2 pound bow-tie pasta
1 cup arugula (not pictured)
1/2 Tb lemon juice (I didn't have any.. so I used 1/2 Tb lemon juice)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 Tb minced garlic
2 Tb olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup golden raisins (I only had plain black raisins, but they were good)

I was too hot to turn on my oven this day, so I toasted the walnuts on the stove (watch them because they will burn easily).

In a food processor, blend arugula, 1/4 walnuts, lemon, and garlic. Then while blending, slowly pour olive oil into the hole in the top of the processor. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta. Stir pesto into pasta. Stir in rest of walnuts, raisins and Gorgonzola. 

This was sooo yummy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sassy Chicken

I had a nice relaxing Sunday. Jeffrey had the day off so I we spent some time together this morning. Then I went on a walk in the Griffith Park hills. It was a beautiful day for a walk, a brisk 70 degrees with a touch of sun, perfection! I found some really pretty houses today, hoping and dreaming that one day we will live in one! This afternoon I had a long phone date with Mommasita and then with my sis-in-law Katy! Now, I just finished working on my menu for the next few is going to be good!

This recipe came from the Tasty Chicken Blog. Jeffrey loved it! I named it Sassy Chicken because it was very flavorful, and had a kick of spice!

Sassy Chicken
2 Chicken Breasts or 6 Chicken Tenders (cut Into Bite Sized Pieces)
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoons Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
1/8 teaspoons Ground Coriander
1/8 teaspoons Cumin
1/8 teaspoons Cardamom (I had never heard of this spice and when I went to buy it, it was $17! Therefore, I decided to leave it out...use it if you have some, but $17 for 1/8 tsp didn't seem worth it to me.)
1/2 Lime, Juiced
1/2 Onion, Diced
2 Tb Butter
1/2 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Tomato Sauce
1/2 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 cup Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Chopped Cilantro
1 cups uncooked (2 cups cooked) Basmati Rice 

Cut raw chicken into bite size pieces

Place chicken, lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, coriander, cumin, and cardamom in a zip lock bag. Massage bag to mix up marinade. 
Marinate in refrigerator overnight.
Chop onion.
Cook onion in butter until softened.
Add chicken to pan, discard marinade. Cook about 10 minutes.
Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to the pan. Stir.
Cook for 30 mins on medium heat, with lid on. 
While chicken simmers, cook rice.
Stir in cream.
Serve chicken over rice and top with chopped cilantro.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tomatoes Stuffed with Rissotto

Only a few more blogs before new blogs with pictures with the new camera emerge! I took pictures with it the other day and uploaded them to my computer today. Even with the many "learning" mistakes I am making, they look 10xs better!! 
Excited for tomorrow because it is my Junior League Orientation. So excited to meet some few people and fill my schedule with volunteering opportunities! PS: it is very funny because most people here do not know what the "Junior League" is....that is just unheard of in TEXAS!
You know my love for risotto! The other day I was came across a recipe that stuffed tomatoes with risotto then baked them with cheese! This was pretty and yummy!

You need 1 large beef tomato. (no green onions, they were for the shrimp paesano I was making) Cut tomato in half.
Use a spoon to scoop out the center of each tomato half.

Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil in each half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Spoon risotto into tomato halves.
Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Bake on 400 for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fancy Ham Sliders

Ahhh! I hate headaches! As many of you know I suffer from sinus headaches that turn into migraines. Thankfully they usually don't last longer than a few hours, but sometimes they can last 2-3 days. This one started yesterday, I blame it on the heat! I came home from work last night and went straight to bed. This morning there was a little relief, but I knew it wasn't the end, here we go again! So glad the heat will be going away this weekend. 99 degrees with no air conditioning is not fun!

My wonderful friend and sous chef, Megan, calls me sometimes to get advice about what she should make for dinner. A few weeks ago, she called to say she had a spiral ham that someone had given them as a gift and wanted to know what to do with it. I remembered a catering job that I helped my mom with one time that made ham sandwiches that were amazing. After calling mom, we sort of remembered what was in them. Megan emailed with rave reviews and I was determined to put them on the blog! PS this is a good summer meal because it requires less cooking, therefore, less heating up the kitchen! On another note: I practiced using my new camera yesterday and tonight I will be shooting my first dinner with it!! 

Fancy Ham Sliders
A ham (I know a big Christmas ham from "Honey Baked Hams" would have been better, but Jeffrey and I didn't need that big of a ham for the 2 of us)
Good Rolls (these are the Hawiaan Rolls)
1/2 onion
3 Tb butter
Dijion Mustard
Mango Chutney or Chipolte Raspberry jam (I can't find the Raspberry jam here. You know the one that we pour over cream cheese and serve with crackers, or serve with pork tenderloin. In Texas I could find it at Walmart!)
Optional: Provolone cheese slices

Thinly slice onion.

Melt 2 Tb butter in a skillet on low heat. Cook onion on medium low for several minutes. stirring slowly. Do not cook too fast, you want to caramelize the onion.

Slice the rolls in half. 

Melt remaining 1 Tb butter in a skillet and toast buns on both sides.

Spread dijion mustard on one side of the bun and jam on the other side.

Pile caramelized onions on the buns, followed by ham slices and cheese.

These are fantastic! I served with salad and peaches, a perfect summer meal!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Royal Birthday Dinner: Part Two

Here is the conclusion to my birthday dinner. It is true what they say, not to try new things when having a party...It makes things stressful! Oh well, Meg and I like to cook together, so it was part of the fun!

I spent a few hours the day before making homemade Gnocchi (potato pasta). It looked perfect to me!

One of 3 plates of homemade Gnocchi.
Disaster hit when I went to cook these babies and they fell apart into a pile of potato mush!! Megan and I made it work by substituting the gnocchi with bow tie pasta. It was still yummy! I think I will buy pre-made Gnocchi next time I make this dish.

Gnocchi (or Pasta) with Wild Mushroom Ragu
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion diced
2 carrots diced
1 stalk celery diced (I forgot this, it was fine without it)
1 pound wild mushrooms, stemmed and quarted (I used shitake and oyster mushrooms)
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced (Baby portabellas)
2 Tb tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1 cup canned whole San-Marzano tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground fennel seeds (I couldn't find ground ones, so I bought them whole and chopped them)
pinch or red pepper flakes
1/2 Tb dried thyme
1 1/2 pounds of Gnocchi or 1 pound pasta
Mascarpone cheese for topping
Cook carrots, onion and celery in 3 Tb of olive oil in large pot until soft.
Add wild mushrooms and cook until golden. Season with salt and pepper then add the rest of the olive oil and add cremini mushrooms and cook for 1 min.
Add tomato paste and cook stirring for 2 mins. 
Add wine and cook for 2 more minutes, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add tomatoes, 2 cups of water, and all the seasonings. .Cover with a lid and simmer for 30 mins. (this is where I started freaking out because I hadn't planned this dish to take 30 more mins and the boys were hungry! Good thing I had the yummy appetizers to keep them satisfied. Plus the 30 mins came in handy when we realized that the gnocchi was bad and we needed to cook pasta to save this meal....
Remove the bay leaves and stir in pasta or cooked gnocchi. 
In the end this dish was worth all the pain and effort, it turned out to have so much flavor! Shitake mushrooms are my new favorite thing!

Bananas Foster is one of my all-time favorite desserts! When my cake fell apart the day before, I decided to make this dish that was on my list of "desserts to try." The cool thing about this Bananas Foster is that it doesn't require banana liquor and rum like most Bananas Foster recipes. I hate to buy a whole bottle of expensive liquor for only 1 dessert! I didn't miss the alcohol and it was really easy!

Bananas Foster Ice-Cream Pastry
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 (one sheet)  package frozen puff pastry dough thawed
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tb orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 bananas sliced into 1/3 inch slices
vanilla ice cream

Bake pecans in oven for 8-10 mins on 350. (I cooked the pecans, then forgot to use them in the dessert..)
Using a rolling pin, roll out pastry into a 10--12 inch square. 
Use a circle top about 5 inches in diameter to cut 4 circles out of the dough. I used the top to my coffee container. (sorry I didn't get a picture of each step)
Cook pastry circles for 10-15 minutes on 400.

In a skillet, melt butter and brown sugar. Stir until dissolves.
I don't know what happened to this photo, but it wouldn't let me upload it correctly... Stir in orange juice, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Whisk constantly for 2 mins until mixture is blended and smooth. Then stir in bananas and cook 1 min. 
These are my cute ice cream bowls from my sis-in-law Katy and cuz-in-law Melissa! Thank you girls! So glad I opened presents before dinner so I could use them for the dessert.
Place pastry in the bottom of each bowl. Spoon some banana mixture on the pastry, then scoops of ice cream, then more banana and top with pecans.