Monday, January 31, 2011

Chicken Pesto Panini

This is such a good easy sandwich to make.  I served it with tomato soup and it was a delicious dinner.


Chicken roaster
4 ciabatta rolls
8 slices meunster cheese
7 oz. Buitoni Pesto
2 sliced tomatoes
fresh spinach

Start by pulling or cutting the chicken off the bone and cutting into pieces to fit onto your sandwich.

Cut your rolls and spread pesto on one side and layer spinach on the other. 

Add your chicken and top with tomato slices.

Top with cheese slices and put on a panini maker or griddle that has been sprayed with PAM. Cook until cheese melts and the bread is toasted to your liking.

Enjoy!    Susan

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Artichoke, Spinach & Tomato Pizza

It's Superbowl time so everyone is posting their best game day recipes. Various appetizers, chilis, wings, dips etc but pizza can be served while watching the Superbowl as well. This is easy, quick, full of vegetables and tastes great.

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine Feb 2010

1 Can Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Dough
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Can Artichoke Hearts - Drained and Quartered
1/2 Pint of Grape Tomatoes - Halved
2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
6 Tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Cloves of Garlic - Minced
1 Tbsp Italian Herb Seasoning
1 Tsp Parsley
6 Tbsp Olive Oil
Preheat the oven for 425 F. Prep all of the veggies. Grease your baking sheet with a little bit of olive oil, using a paper towel spread it out until the whole thing has been coated. If you don't want to grease it you can use parchment paper instead. Open the dough and gently stretch it out onto the cooking sheet, being careful not rip the pizza. In a bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. My Italian seasoning is compromised of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and marjoram. If your spice rack doesn't have something similar you can make your own combination of spices. Spread half of the mixture onto the dough using a pastry bush leaving about an inch around all sides for the crust.

Sprinkle half of the parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top of the pizza. Toss the veggies in the other half of the oil and spice mixture being sure to fully coated all of them. Add all of the veggies onto the pizza. Make sure you spread them out evenly not putting too many in the middle.
Sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top of the vegetables. Bake for 15 minutes until cheese is melted and pizza is crisp. Let the pizza cool for 2-3 minutes before slicing. If you are eating this as an entree make 3 cuts and you will get 6 large pieces. If you'd like to serve it as an appetizer make 7 cuts and you will end up with 12 thick strips.

Enjoy!! - Nicole

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vanilla Mini Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache and Buttercream Icing

This is the view from my kitchen window this morning.  As much as I am tired of all the shoveling and snowblowing, it does look very peaceful and bright.  If this was the last snow of the season I would be very happy but the weathermen are already forecasting more for this weekend and the beginning of next week. I guess this is why everyone looks forward to spring and summer so much.      

This week I had a meeting I had to attend and I was asked to bring a dessert.  These mini cupcakes were perfect.  They are bite size and not too messy and everyone loved them including my husband who I saved a few for.  

Vanilla Mini Cupcakes

This recipe makes 96 mini cupcakes.  Since most people don't need that many you can certainly cut this recipe in half.  Here is the full recipe.

2 cups sugar
3-1/2 cups flour
2-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cup milk
3 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put cupcake liners into mini cupcakes tins.

In a large bowl whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Add butter and beat with mixer until mixture looks sandy. Combine milk and vanilla and add all at once.  Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.  With the mixer running at low add 1 egg.  Increase speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat this process with the second egg.  Continue adding eggs, scraping after each addition until all 4 are added.  After the last egg is added, scrape the bowl and beat at medium for 30 more seconds.  Scoop by heaping teaspoons into prepared mini muffin tins. The muffin tins will be 1/2 full. Bake for 9 minutes. 

Time to make the ganache while they are baking.

12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp of butter

Pour chocolate chips into bowl.  Pour heavy cream into saucepan and add butter.  Cook both until just before boiling.  Pour melted butter and cream over chocolate chips.

Let sit 20 seconds and then stir.  It needs alot of stirring but it will eventually come together.

When the cupcakes have cooled enough add a spoonful of ganache to the top of each one.
While the ganache is cooling its time to make the vanilla buttercream icing.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

1 stick of butter unsalted at room temperature
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 of a box of confectioners sugar
3-4 tbsp heavy cream

In your mixer add the butter, vanilla and confectioners sugar.  Add 1/2 of the heavy cream.  Beat until
creamy.  Add more cream if necessary.  Put into piping bag or frost by hand. Add sprinkles if you would like.

Enjoy!   Susan

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Johnny C's Lobster Mac and Cheese

1 llb. Mezzi Rigatoni
3/4 lb Yellow American Cheese (Land O Lakes or Black Bear)
2 1/2 tbsp. Whole Milk
1 stick Land O Lakes butter
3 whole Lobsters (steamed)
1 tbsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It is always flattering when you make something and people ask you to make it over and over again.  I learned this version of Macaroni and Cheese from my mother.  Being a stubborn child, I refused to follow the directions on the Kraft Mac and Cheese boxes.  Instead, I went 'rogue' and always failed at making an even remotely edible mac and cheese.  Prideful, I was always just as happy with my failures as I was with my succcesses.  And then: Eureeka!  The best Mac and Cheese in the world, to which I added my most favorite ingredient in the world: Lobster!  It is super-creamy and delicious and will be gone before you know it!

First, start with your boiling salted-water for the pasta.  While the water is boiling, take your 3 steamed Lobsters and remove the meat from the tail, claws and knuckles and set aside in a bowl.  Usually, the grocery store will steam the Lobster for you when you buy them, which is a great help!
Next, break up the cheese and butter and place in a medium-sized pot.  Add the milk as well.  I usually like to make sure the bottom of the pot is greased with a little butter and the milk.  I also want to make sure there are butter chunks between the chunks of cheese.  I find it makes the sauce richer and creamier.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 17 minutes.  I like the pasta very soft and well cooked for the dish so it takes the sauce incredibly well.  When you have about 10 minutes remaining on your pasta, turn the pot of cheese on a low-to-medium flame.  Be sure to stir frequently to avoid burning the cheese or the pot, and to ensure everything is melting properly.

Drain pasta and combine cheese sauce and stir thoroughly.  Let sit for 3 minutes.
In a medium pan, heat the EVOO.  Toss the Lobster meat with the cayenne and quick-cook the Lobster for two minutes so the flavors infuse.  (Since the Lobster is already cooked, this is to just get some flavor into it.)  After two minutes, remove, combine with pasta and serve!


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Filet Mignon in Red Wine Balsamic Reduction

My daughter was going back to college in a few days and since I know she doesn't eat well while there I like to make her a "special" dinner before she leaves. This usually includes steak since I know she likes it and doesn't get to eat it while at school.  When I served this my daughter and husband loved it and said it tasted good enough to be served at a fancy restaurant. Its very easy to prepare and is a good dinner to make when you are having company as it only takes a few minutes.  I took my picture so quickly you can still see the smoke from the meat coming off the plate.

Adapted from

3-4 filet mignon steaks
4 tablespoons butter
1 package sliced mushrooms
2 shallots chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped
salt & pepper

Salt and pepper both sides of meat.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat in non-stick frying pan.  When butter is melted, add filets to the pan and allow to sear for 4 minutes, flip and let sear for another 4 minutes.   Remove meat from pan.

Add remaining butter, keeping the burner on medium high.  Add the chopped shallots and mushrooms and saute for 3 minutes or until mushrooms have decreased in size by half.  Add wine and vinegar to deglaze and then add rosemary and bring to a boiler.  When the liquid is boiling, season with some salt.  Turn the heat down to medium and simmer until liquid has reduced by half.

Add filets to the pan and cook to desired doneness flipping halfway through.  I used a meat thermometer to test for doneness.  Temperatures should be as follows:  Medium-Rare - 135, Medium - 145, Medium-Well 160. Spoon reduction and mushrooms over top of steaks.  I served my steaks with creamed spinach and baked potato.

Enjoy!   Susan 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mini Stuffed Potato Bites

These potato bites are easy, delicious and a total crowd pleaser. They can be prepared ahead of time and travel well which makes them perfect for all of the upcoming play-off football games. Espically the Superbowl. I brought these with us last weekend while my husband and I watched the Jets beat the Pats!! Go Jets!!

Adapted from Appetizers Made Simple Cookbook

1 Bag of Mini Red Potatoes (1 1/2 lbs) - about 15 small
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
3-4 Scallions (Green Onions) about 1/2 cup - Diced
10 Slices of Bacon - Cooked Crispy and Crumbled
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise

Preheat the oven for 400 F. Clean the potatoes well since people will be eating the skins. Put them on a baking sheet and roast them for 35 minutes. When they are done allow them to sit for 5 minutes so they are cool enough for you to handle. Cut each potato in half.
With a melon baller carefully scoop most of the potato flesh out of the potato skin and into a separate bowl. Make sure to keep enough potato in the skin so that they will stand up on their own. Set them aside. Mash the potato flesh using the back of a fork. Add the mayo and cheese, mix well. Dice up the scallion and add that to the bowl as well. Mix again.
I used pre-cooked bacon because that is what we keep in the house so I diced it up but you can use regular bacon. You will obviously need to cook the bacon, drain the fat off and pat dry before you crumble it up. After you add the bacon mix well again until everything is completely combine.
Using the melon baller, carefully spoon the mixture back into the potato skins. If you are eating them immediately they will only need to be re-heated so you can put them under the broiler for about 3 minutes. If you made them ahead of time and they have been frozen or sitting in the fridge for awhile you are better off putting them back in the oven at 400 F for 8-10 minutes.

This has been linked to

Enjoy!! - Nicole

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Bars

I'm not a big baker but when I came across this recipe I knew I had to make it. I'm a big peanut butter fan and have been since I was little. I whipped this up one night and it was quite easy. When I do bake I enjoy baking bars instead of cookies because its so much quicker.

Adapted from

4 sticks softened butter
1 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
3 3/4 Cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 Cup strawberry jam
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar and butter together with a mixer. Add flour and salt slowly until combined. Split dough in half. (I baked the other half with just some Nutella on top.) Transfer half the dough into a greased tin foil 8x8 pan. 

Melt 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup of jelly separately in the microwave. Pour and spread peanut butter evenly over dough. Then do the same with the jelly. Take a knife and swirl the two together. 

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges are brown. Remove and let cool completely. Cut into squares and remove from the pan. Mix the heavy cream and powdered sugar until it becomes smooth and then drizzle over the bars. Makes 9 bars.

Enjoy Kathy! 

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Cashew Crusted Cod with Orange Butter Sauce

When browsing other food blogs and recipe websites for seafood dishes, I came to realize that there are very few out there. It seems people don't eat fish as much as they should. I even remember hearing one time from the Food Network that when they feature seafood on the cover of their magazine, the sales for that month decrease. I wonder why this is, since fish is an easy alternative that is healthy and can be prepared in so many different ways. I love this dish now more than ever because it is very similar to what I ate on my wedding night back in September.

Adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine

3/4 cup Orange Juice - 50% less Sugar & No Pulp
1/4 cup White Wine
1 Small Shallot - finely diced
1 Stick of Margarine - Cut into 8 separate Tbsp
1 Cup No Salt Cashew Pieces
1/3 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
2 Eggs
1 lb Alaskan Cod - Cut into 4 or 5 fillets
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
S&P to taste
This is a two part recipe because you will have to make the sauce simoutasinoly as you are preparing the fish, this way they both will be done around the same time. Take out a medium sized sauce pan and pour in the OJ and wine. Finely dice your shallot and toss it in with the liquid. Over medium heat cook the sauce for 10 to 12 minutes stirring occasionally as it begins to reduce. While this is cooking you can begin to prepare the fish.
Cut your fish into 4-5 fillets, pat them dry and season them on both sides with S & P. Next crack the eggs and beat them lightly in a shallow dish.
Take the cashews and put them in a food processor on the pulse setting for about 30 seconds or until they turn into chunky crumbles. Mix the panko breadcrumbs in with the cashews in separate shallow dish. Take each fish fillet and place it in the egg wash and then into the breading mixture, making sure to coat all sides and shake off the excess. In a frying pan heat up 2 Tbsp of the margarine along with the vegetable oil. When the margarine has melted you can begin putting in the coated fish fillets.
By now the sauce should have reduced. Begin adding 1 Tbsp of Margarine at a time, wisking it into the sauce as it melts. When you have wisked all 6 Tbsp into the sauce take, turn off the heat.
When the fish is frying it will need about 8-10 minutes. Be sure to let the coating start to brown and crisp leaving it on each side for about 4-5 minutes. Make sure you only flip the fish once this keeps it from falling apart. Drizzle the Orange Butter Sauce over the finished fillets and serve. 
Enjoy!! - Nicole

Cod on Foodista

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Broccoli-and-Bacon Egg Cups

I'm always looking for something to grab and go in the morning for breakfast since I'm typically running late to work.  On a normal day my breakfast consist of cereal or some toast which gets tiring after a while. With the snow day yesterday it was perfect timing to try them. They were super easy to make and taste just like a frittata but mini.

Adapted from


6 slices of uncooked turkey bacon
2 cups of frozen broccoli, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 1/2 minced garlic
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
4 tbs Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside. Spray a nonstick frying pan with cooking spray, place over medium heat. Add the bacon and saute until crispy. Transfer to plate.

Return the frying pan to heat and add the broccoli, onion, garlic and Italian seasoning, cook until vegetables are soft, about 5-7 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking slice bacon in 1/4 inch stripes crosswise.

Remove from heat, stir in flour and cooked bacon. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, egg whites, cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl until well blended.
Stir in cooled vegetable mixture.

Spoon evenly into muffin cups. Bake until set in the center, about 20 minutes. To remove from muffin tin run a knife around the edge of each cup.

Enjoy!!! Kelly

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