Monday, November 30, 2009

Saffron Orzo with Asparagus and Prosciutto

When my sister-in-law Colleen hosts a holiday (typically Thanksgiving and Easter), she always makes this delicious side dish from Bon Appetit. Definitely my favorite--so elegant and tasty. It is great reheated as well.

Saffron Orzo with Asparagus and Prosciutto

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1 1/4 cups orzo (about 8 ounces)
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon (loosely packed) saffron threads, crushed
1 pound slender asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Parmesan cheese shavings

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto and sauté until almost crisp, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over high heat. Add orzo; stir 1 minute. Add broth and saffron; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until orzo begins to soften, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add asparagus; cover and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover; simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Mix in prosciutto and 1/2 cup grated cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Garnish with Parmesan shavings

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spiced Cranberry Sangría

Makes 2 1/2 quarts-

By dressing up classic Spanish sangría with Spiced Simple Syrup and tart cranberries, Chef Jose Garces has created an ideal cocktail for a winter holiday celebration. Chef Garces serves this with an apple chip garnish for a more elegant finish, but even without it it’s delightful.
What to buy: If you can’t find a Tempranillo rosé, a less earthy Grenache rosé is a suitable substitute.

For the fruit:
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 Granny Smith apples, large dice
1 cup Spiced Simple Syrup (sugar & water -2 c each, cinnamon sticks & cloves- or other spices you desire)
3/4 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup ruby port wine

Combine all ingredients in a 3-quart container with a tightfitting lid.
Cover and refrigerate at least four hours or preferably overnight.

For the sangría:
"1 750-milliliter bottle Tempranillo rosé"
1/2 cup ruby port wine
1/2 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup cranberry juice

Add all ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir to combine.
Refrigerate until chilled, and serve over ice.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mike's Spiced Cider

Picked up some of this Mike's Spiced Cider last night. Tasty. I had it warm, but I'm sure its good cold.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

The better-for-you chocolate chip cookies! I made these last night using a recipe from Slice of Feist via the Crepes of Wrath, which had been adapted from the Chicago Sun Times. You follow?

Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 1/4 cup flour (I used about 2 cups white flour and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup chocolate chips

  • A dash of milk, approximately 1 tablespoon


Combine sugars and oil. Add eggs. Add vanilla and remaining dry ingredients. Add milk. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 375 degrees.

Notes: I was afraid these would taste like olive oil, but they didn't! The cookies were chewy and tasty and heart healthy (well, at least a little healthier than the butter/margarine/shortening variety). This will probably become my go-to option for chocolate chip cookies because now I can eat more with less guilt.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stuffing 101

With turkey day just around the corner, I'm wondering if anyone has any good home-made stuffing tricks, ideas, suggestions...? How do you make yours? I've made it in the past with basic herbs and am trying to think of something new. I'm actually probably skipping the traditional turkey this year and making lamb chops with a pomegranate reduction but still want the stuffing! So something that would work with that..

Then again I'm also considering making duck- I've never cooked it though so am a bit intimidated...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Easy Pumpkin Cookies

I haven't made, or eaten these yet but my sister has and said they're delish so thought I'd post based on her recommendation! They sound really easy too and I have all the ingredients at home right now so I'll try them soon.

Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup shortening
1 can pumpkin
2 cups flour (put in last)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teas. cinnamon
1 teas. soda
1 teas. vanilla
beat until mixed

Drop by teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes 350 degrees - enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Balsalmic Glazed Pearl Onions

Looking at my calendar this week, I realized we were in Italy a year ago. Besides the coffee and amazing little sandwiches, my favorite thing was marinated onions. We had them in Florence as a part of the cheese tray.

When I got home I immediately set about trying to figure them out. I tried combinations of shallots and pearl onions with red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and a dash of white wine vinegar. I cooked nearly all of the onions/shallots, but I did do one test batch that was raw. They burned like the fire of a thousand somethings.

Research aside, I think I found a better and more specific recipe from Everyday Food. I'm going to try them out soon, maybe Thanksgiving with these, some brie and toasted pecans.

Balsamic-glazed Pearl Onions
2 bags (10 oz) red or white pearl onions, trimmed and peeled
1/2 C dry white wine
3 T butter
coarse salt and pepper
1/4 C balsamic vinegar

In large skillet, combine onions, wine, butter and 1 C water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until onions are tender and liquid has evaporated; about 15 minutes (if onions are large, increase cooking time and add more water)

Add vinegar and cook until sauce thickens and onions are glazed, about 3 minutes. To store, refrigerate for 1 day.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts Recipe

I know not everyone is a fan of brussel sprouts and we don't have them that often, but this recipe is soooo good.

Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts Recipe

This is the only way to eat brussels sprouts: cut in half and cooked until deliciously tender inside and perfectly brown and crusted on the outside.

Use brussels sprouts that are on the small size and tightly closed. You can finish these with many different types of cheese but I tend to go for Parmesan when the weather is good. I trade that in for heavier cheeses like gruyere or Gouda in colder weather. I finished them off with some toasted hazelnuts the other night - delicious!

24 small brussels sprouts

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing

fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated cheese of your choice

Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and remove any raggy outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top and gently rub each half with olive oil, keeping it intact (or if you are lazy just toss them in a bowl with a glug of olive oil).

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Don't overheat the skillet, or the outsides of the brussels sprouts will cook too quickly. Place the brussels sprouts in the pan flat side down (single-layer), sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, cover, and cook for roughly 5 minutes; the bottoms of the sprouts should only show a hint of browning. Cut into or taste one of the sprouts to gauge whether they're tender throughout. If not, cover and cook for a few more minutes.

Once just tender, uncover, turn up the heat, and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized. Use a metal spatula to toss them once or twice to get some browning on the rounded side. Season with more salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a dusting of grated cheese.

While you might be able to get away with keeping a platter of these warm in the oven for a few minutes, they are exponentially tastier if popped in your mouth immediately.

Serves 4.
Recipe and Photo from here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Spice-Rubbed Pork (Tender)loin and Acorn Squash

I should just go-ahead and admit that I get a lot of new recipes from Everyday Food. The recipes are so easy to adapt and I appreciate how each issue is based on what's in season. We liked this recipe quite a bit, and I especially liked cooking two parts of the meal on one baking sheet (one less dish to wash).

Since it was just the two of us, I used a 1 lb tenderloin, halved the basting mixture and did one squash. Next time I think I'll do two squashes and I may not slice them so thin. It was kind of a pain to remove the flesh from the skin. I think it would be great for entertaining!

Spice-Rubbed Pork and Squash
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder or other single chile powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 pounds acorn squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
1 boneless pork loin (3 pounds), tied
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons oil, sugar, chile powder, cinnamon, cumin, and 2 tablespoons water. Add squash and toss to coat. Set aside.

Generously season pork with salt and pepper. Heat a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan over high. Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat. Cook pork on all sides until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes total. Place pork on a rimmed baking sheet; pour oil from skillet onto sheet and spread evenly.

Arrange squash around pork. Brush pork with sugar mixture from bowl. Bake until pork is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted in center should register 135 degrees), 40 to 45 minutes, brushing meat with sugar mixture and turning squash every 15 minutes. Tent pork with foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Holiday Blondies

I made these Holiday (Halloween) blondies over the weekend and they were a big hit. What I liked most was a) the recipe called for melted butter b) it called for an 8 x 8 pan, which was the right amount for the gathering since we had other treats. I got asked if there was peanut butter in them because they were very creamy and slightly nutty.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan
1 cup packed light-brown sugar (I used dark brown because that's what I had)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 cup each orange, yellow, and brown candy-coated chocolates (from a 12.6-ounce bag)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter; line pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter paper. (I skipped the parchment and sprayed with cooking spray)

In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; stir just until moistened. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. Arrange candies in 12 rows (2 rows per color, repeating once) on top of dough. (I used the monster mix and did a circular pattern)

Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. (Mine was done in 30 minutes) Set pan on a wire rack and let cool completely.

Photo and recipe from Martha Stewart.