Monday, March 22, 2010

Eggplant Pasta

Eggplant pasta became a household favorite quite a few years ago. I believe my mom found the recipe in a magazine, and made if for us a few times. But it was my older sister Mikken who really latched on to this recipe. She made this all the time for me when we were roommates back in the day! She's the one we turn to when we want eggplant pasta, she makes it the best. But I do try, and it does turn out! This recipe is pretty simple, just a lot of vegetables to chop and some baking time. This is a great recipe to make when you've got a lot of fresh veggies lying around. It has a really fresh taste, and it great if you're looking for a pasta without a heavy sauce. This recipe would work really well with a variety of vegetables. For the peppers I prefer red and yellow, not so much the green, but any combo will do. Same with the onion, you could use white or yellow, but the red ones are just so sweet. I've used crookneck squash as well as zucchini, which is a great addition!

The recipe says to bake the vegetables on a sheet pan at 425 degrees. This tends to take a really long time for the veggies to get soft. So the last time I did it I broiled the vegetables and they got done in about 20 minutes. However, I think I did sacrifice taste for speed. The vegetables definitely tasted better and had more depth of flavor when I bake them. (But broiling really will work fine.)

This is a great recipe and seems quite impressive when you whip it up! Mikken, let me know if I left anything out of the recipe.

Eggplant Pasta:
Cut pieces, all same size:
2 red onions
1-3 multi-colored peppers (red, yellow, green)
1 baby egg plant
3-4 zucchini
8 oz mushrooms (about a prepackaged box)

5 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil

Combine oil, vinegar and spices, pour over vegetables (works best in a bowl, mix around until all are covered). Lay vegetables in single layer on two baking sheets.
Bake at 425, for 30-45 minutes, or until soft.

Cook 1 lb. mastaccoli pasta (or any you choose) Mix cooked pasta with cooked vegetables in large bowl. Ready to serve!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Saint Patricks's Day!

I know I'm a few days late, but on the actual day I did make some delicious sugar cookies. I used my same, original recipe that I always have, but I tried a little thing new with the frosting. I had seem some frosted sugar cookies that had nice shiny frosting and I wanted my frosting to shine. So I did some research and I found something called glycerin. I found it at Michael's, it's a Wilton product. (I'm sure others make it too.) The description says that it is for restoring consistency and color to frosting, and I guess in the meantime, it makes your frosting shine. It was cheap too, about $1.99 for 2 ounces.

I made my frosting as usual, and then I stirred in a few drops, maybe a 1/4 tsp of glycerin. As the frosting dried it still had that nice, freshly frosted shine.

Sugar Cookie Frosting:
1 pound box powdered sugar
6 TBS butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
(Food coloring)
Mix together with mixer. Add milk by tsp if not runny enough.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lemon Chicken Pasta

Happy Birthday Mom! She came down to visit this weekend for her birthday today, and we had a fabulous time touring around Catalina Island yesterday. But for me the best part of the weekend was cooking dinner with her today. I was supposed to make it, being that it was her birthday dinner and all, but I wanted her help in doctoring up a lemon pasta recipe I had. And as always, she came through and made it way better than it previously was.

This is an easy pasta recipe, with an oil based lemon sauce. You're going to start by cooking up some chicken is a saute pan with a bit of olive oil. I cut the chicken up into small strips, you'll add this to the pasta later. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, parsley and garlic powder. This chicken will brown better if you pat it dry with a paper towel before putting it in the pan.

When the chicken is done and browned, remove it from the pan, and add to the same pan 1 chopped onion and saute until soft. Then add four cloves minced garlic. You don't need to cook the garlic as long as the onion. We added a bit more oil to the pan to make sure we would have enough to coat the pasta, and threw in 1 Tbs of butter for good measure. We also added about 1/3-1/2 cup of pasta water. (Water from the pot cooking the pasta. We discussed chicken broth would probably work as well.) Add 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes to the mix also.

We cooked one pound of penne pasta. (We ended up not using about a handful of the cooked pasta.) Once the pasta was drained we mixed the sauce with the pasta and added the juice of about one and half lemons, 3 Tbs of fresh parsley and about 1/2 C. grated Parmesan. Throw the chicken back in, make sure it was kept warm, and you're pretty much good to go.

Of course you're welcome to adjust the amount of lemon juice you use, keep in mind the one and a half lemons is a very lemony taste. And if you want more heat, add more red pepper flakes.

We all loved this dish, it had a very fresh flavor, the chicken added some depth, and just the right amount of heat. But the best part for me was cooking dinner with my Mom. Thanks Mom, I love you!

Oh- and for birthday cake we had a repeat of the coconut cake I made for Brittany's birthday. Once again, a major crowd pleaser.

Lemon Chicken Recipe:
1 pound dried penne
2 chicken cutlets, cut into fingers
Salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tbs butter
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
1 1/2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup pasta water

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Drain well, reserve some of the water.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, garlic powder and parsley. Heat a large grill pan over medium high and add chicken. Grill until golden and completely cooked. Remove to a plate and slice.

Saute onion in same pan, add the garlic and red pepper flakes to with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add pasta water and butter.

Add the cooked pasta and lemon juice. Mix in fresh parsley, cheese, and chicken.

Candied Pecans

Have you ever had candied pecans? They are so addictive. I've been making them to put in salads to add an extra crunch, but while I'm waiting to eat my salad, I'm chowing down on the pecans just like they are candy. So, I thought I'd share how I candy my pecans. I researched a lot of recipes and many of them use egg whites, and a variety of spices but I've found a simple one to one ratio of sugar and water, with a dash of salt works like a charm. I just mix the water and sugar in a shallow pan on the stove top and heat it until it comes to a boil, then add the pecans. Cook them on low. The mixture will still be watery, but the more it cooks, it will eventually turn into a syrup. This could take up to 30 minutes. So low and slow for these guys, I've burnt my fair share trying to speed up the process. When they mixture turns to a thick syrup I move the pecans to a cookie sheet and let them cool. I like to dust them with a tiny bit of sugar while they're still hot. Once they cool, break them up and add them to just about anything, or eat them plain for an oh so tasty snack. If you happen to have some left over, just put them in the freezer, they are so good cold. And they are always great to have on hand.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Smothered Pork Chops

I have been wanting to branch out and try cooking with different types of meat instead of just the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I know there are a million ways to prepare chicken, and I'm not even close to trying them all out. But the other day I noticed some trimmed pork loin chops on sale. I decided to buy them and find the recipe later. And boy did I find a good one. Not knowing what kind of recipe I wanted to try, I just searched until I found a recipe that looked good, and used ingredients I had already, I did not want to go to the store. I came across a recipe from Tyler Florence called Smothered Pork Chops. This recipe appealed to me because, like I said, I didn't have to go to the store, it used buttermilk, which I had left over from the chocolate cake I had just made, and it made gravy, and how I do love my sauces!

This recipe was very simple to follow. I was so excited I didn't have to go to the store that I didn't realize I only have vegetable stock, not chicken stock. I decided to just use it, and it may have altered the flavor a bit, and I know the color was a brighter orange, but it was still a very tasty dish so it must not matter too much.

I followed the recipe exactly. Dredge the pork chops in a flour mixture, brown them, remove from pan, add liquid to make gravy, put chops back in and cook until done! That's it. A few things, I made four pork chops, like it calls for, but I had way more flour mixture than needed. So next time I might cut that down by half. I'm not the best at cooking pork chops just yet. I had to cut mine open to see if they were done. And I know that's a no no because all the juice can run out, but I didn't want under cooked meat. I also would have liked more gravy, so I'll probably adjust the recipe next time to include more liquid. But this was a great weeknight dinner. It was quick, the husband raved about it, and, like I said, you'll most likely have all the ingredients in your cupboard. (I know most of us don't usually have buttermilk just lying around, so I looked up buttermilk substitutes and it's super easy to make if you have milk and vinegar. Here is a good article with a few different recipes for buttermilk.) I served the pork chops up with rice and asparagus (my husbands go to vegetable).

Smothered Pork Chops

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers

The last couple of posts were all about amazing food restaurants made for me, so I thought I better get back in the kitchen. Tonight I tried a new recipe from my mom's kitchen. The other night she was raving on about these stuffed bell peppers she was making for her and my dad. Apparently my dad loves them and they both can't get enough. What I want to know is why she's never made those for me. In fact, I didn't even know she made stuffed bell peppers, and tonight when I made them was my first time ever tasting them. I had some bell peppers and was trying to figure out what to do with them before they went bad, so I had my mom email me over the recipe and I gave it a try.

In my head when I thought of stuffed bell peppers I envisioned a half of a pepper stuffed. But apparently you;re supposed to cut the top off and stuff the whole pepper. I did a major no-no and started cutting before I read the whole recipe, which clearly said, "cut the top off and clean out the inside." So we improvised. I'm pretty sure it all turned out the same. So you should start by cutting off the top of the pepper and cleaning out the insides. Then you're going to put them into boiling water for about five minutes. They should turn a brighter green than they currently are. This is just to help soften them up so they're not crunchy when you eat them. The stuffing is really easy to make too. Start by sauteing half an onion, and half a pound of ground turkey (hamburger, if you prefer) add in the spices and diced tomatoes and you're good to go. Make sure to salt and pepper the turkey well. And you can adjust the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Mom's recipe calls for Pappies Seasoning, but I didn't have any, and we didn't miss it. Also, instead of minute rice, I used regular rice that was already cooked. Just add it to the pan to warm it and season it.

Well, needless to say, my Mom did it again. I'm not sure where this recipe originated, but she has made it her own and I'd say it's a keeper. Brian loved them, but said they were very filling. This was the only thing we had for dinner and it was plenty. Enjoy!

Debby's Stuffed Bell Peppers

3 medium green bell peppers
½ onion
½ pound ground turkey
1 14 oz. petite diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup minute rice
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
Pinch of pappies seasoning
Pinch of garlic powder
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Preheat oven 350.

Cut off top of peppers and clean out the insides. Place them in a pot of boiling water. Be sure they are covered with water and cook for 5 – 8 minutes. They will change from dark green to a lighter color.

Saute onion in olive oil
Add turkey meat and spices.
Cook till meat is done.
Add cheese

Fill up cups with meat filling. Cover with a little cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 min. in 350 oven.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pizzeria Mozza

The last food stop on our weekend trip to LA was Pizzeria Mozza Friday afternoon. This was Brian's suggestion. He had been wanting to go there for a while. In fact, I tried to get reseverations for his birthday in January, but called too far in advance and then too late, and they were booked. Pizzeria Mozza is headed up by Mario Batali and some other talented chefs. I had eaten at Mario's New York restaurant, and loved it. We got there about 4:00 pm and were hoping to get a table. We lucked out and they said we could have the table until it was needed at 5:15 pm. Perfect.

We both ordered pizzas, and I started out with an insalata mista. I enjoyed the mixed greens with a tangy oil and vinaigrette dressing. I got the basic Margherita with mozzarella, tomato & basil pizza. But it wasn't basic at all. It had plenty of sauce for my liking, and the thin crust pizza was a nice mix between crunchy and soft crust. Brian ordered the Prosciutto di Parma, with rucola, tomato & mozzarella. Of course I made him give me a slice. The prosciutto was so good! I don't have prosciutto too often, but this was a nice thin cut, not too much fat and worked well with his sauce, which was a bit sweeter than mine. We loved both of the pizzas. (And there are plenty other choices to go back for.) The pizza were a perfect size, cut into four pieces. We ate about half of each because we had to save room for dessert.

When my good friend Kimberly took me to Mario's restaurant in NY she was raving about a dessert that was made with olive oil ice cream. It sounded kind of interesting to me, not sure what to expect. But turns out it was amazing. So I was very excited to see on the list of gelato, here, the olive oil flavor. I really wanted Brian to try it. It's definitely different, but it's so, so good. You just have to try it. It is almost like a sweet cream flavor, with olive oil mixed in. It's sweet, but not too sweet. Amazing. With your order you got three flavors so we also got the mint chip and peanut butter. They were both good. The peanut butter was salty, which was a nice compliment to the sweet. Brian also ordered some almond biscotti. He said they were really good, but biscotti is too dry for my liking.

We had a great dining experience at Mozza, and we were super excited when our architect friend told us his firm was designing a Mozza to go on PCH in Newport Beach.

(Sorry the quality of the pictures isn't the best, an i phone was all I had.)
Related Posts with Thumbnails