Friday, June 20, 2008

Simply Spring Dinner~

Last night was the perfect night...clear, warm but not hot, and a slight breeze. With the lake in view and a glass of wine in hand, it was perfect. To make the night even better we took our dinner outside to enjoy and enjoy it we did.

On the menu was an old recipe I cut out from Cooking Light, Rotini with Asparagus, Tomatoes, and Chicken. Paired with a red from Northern Vineyards, where we were married, a mixed green salad and some bread, it was perfectly simple and perfectly spring!

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did:)

Rotini with Chicken, Asparagus, and Tomatoes
8 ounces uncooked rotini pasta
Cooking Spray
1 Pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
1 Cup (1-inch) sliced Asparagus
2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 T chopped Fresh Basil
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 T Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C crumbled goat cheese (we used fresh mozzarella)

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken and asparagus to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in pasta, basil, vinegar, and oil. Arrange 2 cups pasta mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese.

CALORIES 419(20% from fat); FAT 9.5g (sat 3.2g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.6g); IRON 3.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 70mg; CALCIUM 105mg; CARBOHYDRATE 48.5g; SODIUM 324mg; PROTEIN 33.9g; FIBER 3.4g

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

TWD: La Palette’s Strawberry Tart

What a great treat! Easy to put together, fool proof, and quick to the table. This will be made time and time again for a quick and light dessert!

I pulled the crust together pretty quickly in the food processor and used the press in method for filling the tart pan. The crust is quite cookie like, instead of pastry like which I love. It's reminiscent of the fruit pizza we make.

As for the glaze, well we were pulling this together on the fly and after perusing the refrigerator, smuckers was the top choice for jam. (not that I didn't mind!) Down went the smuckers, pile on the strawberries, top with fresh whipped cream...yum! I love summer:)

Next week:

Caroline of A Consuming Passion has chosen…

Peppermint Cream Puff Ring on pages 290-292

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

TWD: French Chocolate Brownies, Ooh la la!

C'est Magnifique!

A few years ago I spent my summer in was wonderful, just like these brownies. There is something intriguing about the French, life giving. My two new found friends Marine and Clemance, adopted my friend Brittany and I as their new best friends giving us tours and even taking us to their home, where we made M&M cookies in their kitchen. It was an amazing experience and probably where my true love of food emerged.

There is something wonderful about sweeping through French markets, smelling the freshly made boule miche from the boulangerie, passing tarts upon tarts, perfectly executed, and watching the people delight in their food.

Upon return, my love for food grew, and though I never had a french brownie while I was there, I am sure they would not be disappointed with Dorie's version!

I love brownies, to me they are better than a cookie or a cake. I like my brownies fudgy, undercooked, and full of chunks, chocolate chunks, oreos, peanut butter, whatever as long as its loaded, just don't hand me one without any fun inside:)

Given my likes and dislikes, I only changed a couple of things in the recipe:
-I did not mix the eggs and sugar for 2 minutes, only about 45 seconds
-I dislike raisins, so dried cherries were substituted
-No flaming cherries in this kitchen, so they went in unscathed
-B/C more chocolate is essential, in went 1/2 C chocolate chips (semi and white)

End at first taste...these are so good, moist, fudgy, and delicious!

French Chocolate Brownies

- makes 16 brownies -
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A sesame smash...Lighter Sesame Chicken

We like just about every kind of cuisine, but the top three have to be Italian, Mexican, and Asian. This meal was great. Last week, after so many other things taking up my time, dinner was the last thing on my mind. So what to do...well with chicken thawing and broccoli needing to be used, I turned to good old Martha Stewart. This recipe for Lighter Sesame Chicken was in Everyday Food awhile back and though definitely not authentic, this dish won high ratings with the hubby. The sauce contributes the flavor, so definitely double the sauce so there is enough to go around.

Easy, Delicious, light, and pretty on the plate, what more could you ask for...we'll be making this again, maybe even soon!

Lighter Sesame Chicken
(adapted from Everyday Food; changes in italics)
Serves 4
  • 3/4 cup brown rice (we used white)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed with a garlic press
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower (we used sesame oil)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into large florets, stems peeled and thinly sliced (I also added cut up green beans)
  1. Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, and fill with 1 inch water; set aside for broccoli. Cook rice according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small bowl, combine honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and garlic; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add chicken; season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add half the chicken; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken. Return all the chicken to skillet; add reserved sauce and scallions, and toss to coat.
  4. Meanwhile, place saucepan with steamer basket over high heat; bring water to a boil. Add broccoli, and cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve sesame chicken with broccoli and rice.