Sunday, June 13, 2010

OMG Has it been that long??

Ok I totally blew this off around the holidays didn't I?
I meant to keep up. I really did! But then HOLIDAYS! And we all know how crazy that gets


I got offered a job!

In New Orleans!

So of course, I MOVED!!!

I MOVED HOME!!! To New Orleans! How Awesome is that???

And I did it right before Mardi Gras and the Superbowl! So I was here to see my beloved Saints win the Superbowl.

But I wasn't in a home for me. I had some good friends offer me a place to stay while I got my stuff together and found a place. I truely appreciated them doing that for me. But while there I wasn't cooking. It just felt weird to take over their kitchen. They would have let me of course. But it felt like I would be taking over and I was just grateful to have a place to go to while I was getting myself together.

Currently I am in a place of my own. It a really cool place. I have a half a double shot gun. That I love and am getting together. Its in the Lower Garden District right down the street from Tipitina's. The neighborhood is awesome and I am learning more about this great city that I have already been in love with. I will take some pictures of the neighborhood and let you all see.

I am currently supposed to be unpacking but I am so sore from doing it for 8 hrs yesterday I am putting it off. LOL But once I get the kitchen together I will be cooking again and posting those things again I PROMISE! So Don't Give Up On Me!!

Meanwhile, here are some pics of the new place sans my stuff. Once I get it together I will post more pics.

From Frt Door

Frt Room/Living Room

Living Room Fireplace

Kitchen Counters

Kitchen Fireplace

Dining Room

Dining Room Fireplace


Master Bedroom

Doors from Master Bedroom to Back Patio

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Help for Thanksgiving

For all of you that are looking for a great Roasted Turkey Recipe. Here is a good one!

Here is a recipe I thought you would like for the holidays

1 whole Turkey

1 large lemon, cut into half
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter or olive oil, whichever you prefer

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Rub butter or oil over the skin of the Turkey until it is completely coated. 

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you prefer.

Take a knife and your fingers and gently separate the skin from the breast meat;

Do NOT Puncture the skin  
 Slide  lemon  halves  under  the  skin  with  the  peel  side  up, one on
Each side.  This way the  juice from the lemon will release into the breasts.

Cover and bake for 2 hrs breast side down.   Remove cover , flip bird, and continue

To roast until juices run clear about 1 hr, basting every 15 minutes. If your breasts are browning to fast tent them with foil as to not burn them.

If you've followed these steps correctly, your turkey should  

Look like the one in the picture.

Bon Appetit!


Isn't it a beautiful Bird!

Seriously I will post more stuff including Pumpkin Ricotta Cheesecake and Homemade Orange Cranberry Sauce after Thanksgiving weekend as I have some friends to visit.

Best Wishes and Blessings on your families!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

One you have been waiting for.....

America's Test Kitchen is one of my favorite shows and their magazines like Cook's Illustrated is so helpful. (I would LOVE to work for them...*sigh*) They test all these recipes and try to come up with the best way for the most flavor and the easiest way to get to that end. Based on their ideas, I have a great and easy recipe for French Onion Soup.

French Onion Soup

Don't use sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, as they will make this recipe a little TOO sweet so go with plain ole white or yellow onions. Be patient when caramelizing the onions in step 2; the entire process takes 45 to 60 minutes. Use broiler-safe crocks and keep the rim of the bowls 4 to 5 inches from the heating element to obtain a proper gratinée of melted, bubbly cheese. We don't have any crocks so you will see I used ordinary soup bowls, sprinkle the toasted bread slices with Gruyère, Mozzarella, Fontina, Provolone and return them to the broiler until the cheese melts, then float them on top of the soup. I use either Kitchen Basics Stocks and Broths or Pacific. They both come in reclosable boxes that you can snap shut and store any leftover in your fridge for use later. I use them to deglaze a pan with, cook rice in, add to a pan to lighly braise a piece of meat to the temperature I wanna serve it at after I have seared it... all kinds of things really. For the best flavor, DO make the soup a day or 2 in advance. The flavors really develop sitting in the fridge for at least 24 hrs. Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step 1, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe if you wanna get ahead.

Serves 6

3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces
6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see picture below)
Table salt
2 cups water , plus 1 cup for deglazing (use 1/4 cup at a time)
1/2 cup cooking sherry
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme, wrapped and tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
Ground black pepper

Cheese Croutons

1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices
(I used a good lower carb, whole wheat multi grain sliced bread)
8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
(or use Mozzarella, Fontina, or Provolone Cheese at your preference)

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Generously spray inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray.

Start of cutting onion pole to pole. (from root end to sprout end)

After cutting one half pole to pole and root end was removed

Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt.

Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume).

Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot.

Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.

Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat.

Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly.

Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.)

Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes.

Repeat process of deglazing 3 or 4 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer.

If you leave a "tail" on your wrapped and tied Thyme,
you can tie it to your pot handle so its easier to fish out when the cooking is over.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

At this point Cool and Store your soup for at least 24 hrs to really develop the flavor.

For the croutons:

While reheating the soup soup, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet.
Bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
(If using regular bread you can just put the bread in the toaster to toast)

To serve: 

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. 
Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. 
Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Cheese. 
Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

If using soup bowls: 

Place toasted bread on foil lined, and sprayed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with Cheese. 
Broil until cheese is melted 2-3 mins. Place on top of bowls of hot soup and serve. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Last Few Weeks 4

Onward through the meals of the last few weeks!

This next dish we had was SOOOO good and a definite keeper. Originally I was going to use turkey cutlets which are nothing more than a turkey breast that has been sliced long ways into 1/4 inch thick slabs of meat.

You can usually get quite a few of these cutlets from a turkey breast and its a little bit of a pain to do so you can always ask your butcher at the store or if you are going to do it at home. You would want your breast only half frozen because the freezing will make it more dense as you are cutting to get a nice horizontal cut. You would cut with the breast flat on the cutting board and your knife parallel to the counter. Keep the knife approximately 1/4 of an inch above the board as you are going through the breast horizontally. Once you have one done remove the cutlet from under whats left of the breast to a plate and then put the whole breast back and do it again. Continue until you have sliced the breast down completely into cutlets. If they get to thick you can wrap the cutlets in plastic wrap and pound them slightly to make them even and approx 1/4 inch thick.

Wouldn't you know the store didn't have turkey breast or cutlets when I went. They had tenderloins and I though about making with that until I saw they had a frozen bag of chicken cutlets for cheaper than the packaged tenderloins. So you can guess I said "Bring on the chicken cutlets!!" LOL

Everything else in this recipe stayed the same EXCEPT the type of poultry. So don't be afraid to make a change if you need to or it saves you a couple bucks. After all now we have half a bag of chicken cutlets in the freezer to make this VERY Tasty dish again. Thats always a good thing!

Turkey Parmesan

1 cup low-sugar pasta sauce
1/2 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup  freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
3 individual turkey cutlets, about  1/4 - 1/3" thick
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup ounce shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to broil. Bring sauce to low simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm. (if you have any of the sauce left over from the chicken cacciatore like we did add it to it to give it more flavor or doctor the jarred sauce to suit your family but obviously you can leave out the meat as its already included with the turkey)

Stir together coarse chopped pine nuts, Parmesan, and Italian seasoning in a wide, shallow dish. (Or you can put them all in a food processor and buzz them up til it resembles bread crumbs) Season turkey on both sides with salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in the nut mixture, pressing to adhere.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add turkey and cook until coating is golden brown and juices run clear, about 4 minutes per side. If nuts brown too quickly, reduce heat.  (If you don't use a nonstick skillet be prepared that this will stick to your pan as the cheese melts. If you have enough oil, your heat is around medium, and you don't mess with it once you put it down in the pan and until you need to turn it, you wont loose much of the crusting. Also you can scrape out what crusting does stick once you remove the turkey and place it on your turkey prior to putting the cheese on so you will still get the nice toasted crunchy flavor, the cheese and sauce will hide it. LOL Careful though as it will be HOT )

Place turkey on a foil covered sheet pan, top evenly with mozzarella, and broil until cheese melts, about 30 seconds. (I just re-used the pan I baked the Spaghetti Squash on. Please see the Spaghetti Squash/Spaghetti Pie recipe I did earlier for how to roast it. I did the same thing here only I made sure the squash would be ready about the time the turkey would need to go to the oven so I could scrape the squash out immediately for serving)

Place approx 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti squash on the plate top with 1/2 cup of warm sauce on each plate and top each with a piece of turkey.  Serve additional sauce on the side.

My Dad LOVES Chicken Wings and has been asking for some. Usually I would fry them but I am trying to make everything healthy so I decided to try this on the wings. This is what came out.

Baked Chicken Wings

10 – 12 chicken wings
3 tbsp of soy sauce
½ tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and clean the chicken wings to make sure there are no stray feathers. Cut wings into portions through the joints, discarding wingtips. ( I would freeze the tips and use them to make a stock or a soup base personally)

Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a liquid measuring cup. Place wings in a gallon ziplock and then pour the mixture over the top and seal the bag. Massage the bag to move the marinade around and evenly coat all the wings. Refrigerate overnight, flipping the bag over and moving the wings around some.

Preheat oven to 425 degree F. Cover a baking dish with aluminum foil. Spray heavily with no-stick oil spray. Spread wings evenly over the pan. Roast for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.  Turning  the wings half way through the baking.  

Serve warm, cold or they can sit out at room temperature for your next football game party! 

You know the wings are good when you eat them cold like fried chicken you would take on a picnic and you love them. These --- I definitely would do that with!

I was discussing some thing I was making with a friend of mine and we were discussing the Mexican Soup I had made and that I was going to make French Onion Soup and He asked about a Tomato Soup. My Mom Loves Tomato Soup just like my friend but I am not a fan of Campbell's Tomato ( I know thats sacrilege or some thing). I am a fan of fresh Roasted Tomato Soup so I ran it by my mother and she was all for it (My Dad hates it either way so we had it one day when we knew he wouldn't be taking a lunch to work)

So for my Mom and my friend Matt here is Roasted Tomato Soup:

3-4 ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut in half
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat broiler. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet, cut-side down. Broil until skins are blistered, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Slip off the skins and coarsely chop.

I chopped them and then put them right back on the foil sheet pan then brought the whole thing to the sauce pan when needed and used the foil to funnel it all into the pan with no loss of juice or tomato

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions a little salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are very soft, 3 to 5 minutes longer. 

Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  

Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth; return to the saucepan. Add your broth to the blender or food processor and pulse it til the sides are clear and then pour it into the saucepan  (This is my trick for not wasting any of that great tomato flavor you just worked so hard for) Bring just to a boil, reduce heat immediately to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

If you are making this ahead for lunch/dinner the next day you can use dried basil just add it (1 tsp as its stronger) when you pour the broth into the saucepan.

You can enjoy this chilled in the summer and it will retain its sweet refreshing just off the vine taste just  cover loosely and refrigerate until chilled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Sorry I missed getting the  final pic with this all done. But it was nice and smooth. Its not as RED RED as Campbells as its not as concentrated instead its a nice golden red.

This next dish was me trying to find something to do with pork chops and something other than roasting or making a cold salad out of fennel. I thought it was pretty good. For my Mom I would just roast the fennel again as she prefers it that way but would keep everything else about this as it has a nice braising liquid that keeps the pork chops juicy and gives a nice flavor.

Pork Chops with Braised Fennel and Lemon

4 (6-ounce) bone-in pork chops, about 1/2" thick
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, sliced into 1/2" strips
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork chops until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add fennel and onion to the same skillet and cook until lightly browned and softened, about 3 minutes. Add broth and lemon juice, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until fennel is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer until liquid is reduced slightly, about 3 minutes. 

Add pork back to the skillet and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

This is the finished Fennel

I also served it with Brussel Sprouts tossed in olive oil and roasted for 20 mins at 400 degrees. I tossed them half way though so they would brown all over.

Oh yeah and that French Onion Soup that was mentioned a few minutes ago... Its super easy! I will post that soon. Got to keep you hooked don't I??

Last Few Weeks 3

So tonight we will start off with something that just turned out FABULOUS that is high fiber, low in sugar and can be had for breakfast, snack, or end of the day. Pear Bran Muffins! Now don't even begin to think that these are heavy and dense and could be used as a door stop. They are so soft and tasty. AND HEALTHY!!! Have them for breakfast with an egg and some canadian bacon or for a a snack or just at the end of the day when you just need that snack to put your stomach and sweet cravings to bed. You can even make these ahead and store them in the fridge or freezer just pop them in the oven, micro or the toaster oven to warm them back up.

Pear Bran Muffins
makes 12

1 1/2 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 c Wheat Bran
2 Tbsp Granular Sugar Substitute (I use Splenda)
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 c 1% or fat-free Buttermilk
2 Large Egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
2 Bosc Pears, core and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Heat oven to 350, Line muffin tin(s) with paper liners or lightly coat with cooking spray.

Combine all the dry ingredients: flour, bran, sugar sub, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large mixing bowl. Be sure this well combined!

Combine all wet ingredients: buttermilk, eggs, oil, pear, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Combine well.

All Wet Ingredients but the Pears

Dicing Bosc Pears

Wet with Pears

(Don't skip these separate bowls just to not have to wash an extra bowl. This is important or you will over mix these muffins and they will be tough and possibly not evenly combined)

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined; do not over mix. (I find that usually if I count each stroke I can usually get it mixed right in 10-15 strokes)

Use a scoop, or a 1/3 measure cup and divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 20 mins or until toothpick stuck in one comes out clean. Cool 5 mins in pan and then remove and serve  or cool on wire rack to store in Ziplock bag in fridge.

OK... sticking with a little fruit but moving on to dinner:

Pork Chops with Herbes de Provence & Apple Compote
2 apples, preferably Braeburn, Fuji or Granny Smith, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
1-1/8 teaspoons herbes de Provence (see "Provençal Herbs," below), divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 boneless pork chops
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Toss apple slices with lemon juice and cinnamon in a small bowl. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.


Mix 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pork chops on both sides with the seasoning mixture.

Heat 2 teaspoon oil and 2 teaspoon butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the pork chops and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and keep warm. If you need to split up your chops to not crowd them in your pan, split the oil and butter between your two rounds of cooking.

Add broth, lemon zest, remaining 1/8 teaspoon herbes de Provence and any accumulated juices from the chicken to the skillet. Cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Spoon sauce over pork and serve with the sautéed apples.


Provençal Herbs
Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs commonly used in the south of France. You can find commercial mixtures in specialty stores, but it is easy to make your own. Mix 1 tablespoon each (or equal proportions) dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried oregano, dried marjoram, dried savory, a pinch of dried lavender and crushed aniseed mix all in a jar.

If you cant find them or dont think you will use them for more than this recipe, I would recommend getting a bottle of dried Fine Herbes.  They are a culinary mainstay in all Mediterranian Cuisine (Portugal, Spain, Southern France, Italy, Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, etc.). The ingredients of fines herbes are parsley,chivestarragon and chervil and can be used in so much from dressings to just seasoning fish or chicken.

Tasty Oui? 

Lets see if you say Si to some Snapper....

Snapper Veracruz

2 red snapper fillets (3/4 inch thick), no skin
1/4 cup Chablis wine
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Serrano chili pepper, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 2/3 tablespoons sliced ripe green olives
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, if desired
1/2 teaspoon green pepper, minced
Olive oil cooking spray

Coat a large nonstick skillet and a 11 x 7 x 2 inch baking dish with the Olive oil cooking spray. Place the red snapper fillets in the baking dish.

 On low heat sauté the onions, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil for about 4 minutes, add the Mexican oregano, Chablis wine, green olives, red onion, tomato paste, chili pepper, and green pepper; bring to a boil and simmer until it has thickened (10 – 15 minutes). 

Pour over fillets and bake at 400ºF for about 25 minutes, until fish flakes easily. Garnish with the cilantro sprigs, if desired.

And who Says you cant have Potatoes when you are doing lower carb, higher protein, low sugar "diet"????
Ok they all do but doesn't mean I cant fake it!! And with that in mind I took a recipe from a favorite place of mine back home in New Orleans and made it all mine. Thank you Leah Chase of Dookie Chase's for giving me this idea:

Turnip Hash

1 1/2 - 2 lbs. turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices turkey bacon, chopped (we use Oscar Mayer as the Jennie O was too smoky)
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

As you cut and dice the turnips place them in a large bowl so they are covered with water; set aside.

Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon to skillet and cook to crispy. Once crispy remove from pan, drain on paper towel and reserve.

Add onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain turnips in a colander and pat dry with paper towels. (This is VERY Important or they won't brown)
Add turnips, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and butter to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon until turnips soften and lightly brown, about 15 minutes.
Stir in heavy cream, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until turnips are done; (they can be easily mashed with a fork) about 30 minutes. Add reserved Bacon and Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with parsley.