Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Supper: Chile Garlic Chicken

With the Christmas holiday only a week away and all of us busy preparing, this weeks Sunday supper is a dish that tastes like it's been simmering for hours but will only take you a cool 45 minutes to prepare. This would also make a great weeknight meal to last a couple days. Make a big pot of this chicken and you'll have delicious leftovers for the next day. I found this dish in my inbox a couple weeks ago a la my ever trusty Martha Stewart daily recipe newsletter. Simmering the chicken in the sauce makes it so moist and flavorful and I found that it was even better heated up the next day. The chicken soaked up the flavor even more. Just throw some rice in your rice cooker and dinner is done!

Chile Garlic Chicken

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4-6 chicken legs, thighs and/or drumsticks
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup sugar

Heat oil in a large saucepan over med-high heat. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan, skin side down, and cook until skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn over and cook about 2 minutes more. Transfer chicken to plate.

Discard all but 1 tbsp fat from pan. Add garlic and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Stir in vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Return chicken to pan, skin side up, and submerge in liquid to cover as much as possible. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low until liquid is gently simmering. Cook 15 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to medium and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Serve chicken over rice.

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Cocktail: Warm Apple Cider for Grown Ups

My license says I'm an adult, but I'm not so sure my friends would agree. I'm just a big kid at heart and like kids, I love the holiday season! Yesterday the hubs and I spent a lovely Sunday celebrating the holidays. We went and got our tree and some holiday decorations to dress up the farmhouse. It was a very chilly Sunday so by the time we got home we couldn't think of anything better to warm us up while decorating our tree than a hot toddy in the form of warm apple cider, grown up style.

I made up this recipe a few weeks ago when my mom was visiting and it turned out pretty yummy. The first time I made it though I didn't add any sweetness other than the natural sweetness of the apple cider and it was good, but the lemon was a bit strong. This time around, I added some honey which cut the acid just enough and made it even yummier. I suggest grabbing your biggest pot and making a triple or even quadruple batch of this cider for any holiday celebration, even if its just you and your hunny. Keep it warm on the stove and it'll keep you warmed up all night!

Grown Up Warm Apple Cider

1 cup whiskey
3 cups apple cider
1 tbsp honey
lemon, 2 slices about 1/2 inch thick
8-10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks

Mix whiskey and apple cider in a small pot or dutch oven. Add honey. Make 4-5 small slits in outer edge of lemon and insert one clove in each slit. Add lemons and cinnamon sticks to pot. Heat mixture over med-high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand about a minute so still hot but no longer boiling and serve.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Supper: Turkey Meatloaf with Mushroom and Herbs

It's getting cold here in central New Jersey and I'm craving warm comfort food. My mom introduced me to turkey meatloaf a year or two ago when she came out to San Francisco on one of her many visits. She made a delicious BBQ turkey meatloaf which one day, I shall share with you. From then on, I've tended to gravitate towards recipes using ground turkey rather than the classic ground beef, which is against the wishes of the hubs. He loves the classic version- straight off the french onion soup box. But then again, who doesn't!?

I found this recipe from and since we love mushrooms in this house I thought I'd give it a shot. I think it'd make a perfect Sunday supper on a cold day. What sounds better than a warm fire, some comfy clothes, slippers, and a steaming plate of comfort food after spending the day tree trimming and decorating for the holidays? I sure as heck can't think of anything!

Turkey Meatloaf with Mushrooms and Herbs

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups day old crustless bread, cut into 1/3 inch cubes
1 cup chicken broth
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (crimini or white button are great)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley (or 1 tbsp dry)
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tbsp dry)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1lb ground turkey (about 15% fat)
1lb ground turkey breast

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a loaf pan with olive oil.

Toss bread with broth in a large bowl. Let stand about 10 minutes, until bread absorbs liquid and softens. Mix in mushrooms, eggs, shallots, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add turkey, mix just until blended. Transfer to loaf pan.

Bake about 1 hour 25 minutes, until thermometer inserted into center reads 170 degrees. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

recipe adapted from epicurious

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deliciously Simple Weeknight Meals: Salmon with Hoisin Glaze

I had the best salmon the other night at the farmhouse and I don't even like salmon, unless it's in sushi form. I try to incorporate some sort of fish into our weekly rotation as much as possible and I'm pretty sure I'll be making this dish much more often. I think from start to finish it took me maybe 20 minutes. The glaze was an easy 4 ingredients and I'm pretty sure it would be darn tasty on just about any fish. I may even try it on chicken one day. It's sweet from the honey, tangy and slightly smoky from the hoisin sauce. All in all it's insanely good, even easier to make and I think I only dirtied a total of about 4 dishes, including the hubs and my plates.

Salmon with Hoisin Glaze

1 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp honey
4 salmon fillets
salt and pepper

Heat broiler. In a small bowl whisk oj, hoisin sauce, and honey. Rinse salmon and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush both sides of salmon generously with glaze. Broil salmon about 4 inches from heat, basting about half way through, until opaque in center, about 10 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday Supper: Creole Fried Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Carmelized Apples

I'm a day late on Sunday Supper, sorry! But, this actually was my Sunday supper so I still feel it's appropriate!

This weeks Sunday Supper was inspired by wanting yummy fall ingredients, but trying to stay far away from all things Thanksgiving since all that goodness is just a few short days away. But I was craving sweet potatoes so I searched for something yummy with sweet potatoes and came across this recipe from Emeril. It turned out pretty delish and is something I will definitely make again, but with some tweaks, which I'll add in my tips below. And as much as I was trying to not have a turkey day type meal, I think the mashed sweet potatoes could be a great Thanksgiving side dish. It would be a nice alternative to plain old mashed potatoes and it's ridiculously easy. Plus, sweet potatoes are bigger than regular old potatoes so you'll have less to peel, and less work is always a good thing, right!?

Creole Fried Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Carmelized Apples

1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
salt and pepper
5 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 thick cut pork loin chops (about 2 inches thick)
Cajun seasonings
2 cups seasoned flour
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/ inch thick slices
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cane syrup
1 tbsp bourbon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and put in a large bowl. Mash potatoes and add 3 tbsp butter, cream, vanilla, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

To a large hot oven proof saute pan (I used a cast iron skillet) heat 1/2 cup of the oil. Season pork chops with cajun seasonings and dredge in seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Place chops in hot oil and pan fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Move to preheated oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Heat a saute pan and add the remaining 2 tbsp butter. Once melted, add sliced apples and saute about 5 minutes, until just beginning to soften. Add lemon juice, cane syrup and bourbon and cook until apples are carmelized, about 2 minutes.

To serve, place potatoes on plate and top with fried pork chop. Top pork with a few carmelized apples. Serves 4.

Modern Housewife Tips:
1. The mashed sweet potato recipe calls for vanilla but I found that it overwhelmed the dish so next time, I'll forego the vanilla altogether. I think the natural sweetness of the potatoes is enough.
2. Emeril's recipe calls for his creole seasoning, which you can find the recipe here, but I just used McCormick's Cajun seasoning which has basically all the same ingredients as Emeril's.
3. Find a recipe for seasoned flour here, which makes more than you'll need but you can store in an airtight container and is great for seasoning other meats too. I'm definitely going to try it with fried chicken sometime soon!
4. For the apples, I found the lemon juice to be a bit strong so I suggest cutting it in half and only adding 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice.
5. I couldn't find cane syrup at my grocery store (although I'm pretty sure they sell it at Whole Foods if you have one close to you) but I did find agave nectar which I substituted for the cane syrup. I think maple syrup or honey could be a nice alternative as well.

Recipe adapted from Emeril via Food Network

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cooking For One: Savory French Toast BLT

The hubs is travelling for business this week which means I'm cooking for one the next few days. I actually kind of enjoy making dinner just for me because I can be a little selfish and I can make anything that sounds good to me, and only me. I do think it can be difficult though to come up with a yummy dinner that is easy to make just enough for one person without having way too much leftover. But, a warm, savory sandwich is perfect on a cool night and you can easily control your portions so that you aren't left with way too much after you enjoy.

I found this recipe from Martha Stewart a couple weeks ago and I've been dying to try it but I knew the hubs wouldn't be much of a fan, therefore tonight was the perfect opportunity! I absolutely love french toast and I absolutely love BLT's, so to me, this was a match made in heaven! I altered Martha's recipe a little since I consider myself really great at making both BLT's and french toast and also since I was cooking for just me. Below is my version as well as a link to Martha's version in case you'd like to compare and contrast. I know it sounds a little funky, but seriously, give it a shot! SO delish!

P.S. The yummy little green nuggets in the background of the photo above are homemade bread and butter pickles made by my mama. It's my grandmother's recipe and if I ever get the recipe then maybe one day I'll share with you!

Savory French Toast BLT

2-3 slices thick cut bacon
about 1/4 to 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2 eggs
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp butter
2 slices crusty bread
a couple lettuce leaves
2 slices tomato
mayonnaise, optional

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon to pan and just enough maple syrup to lightly coat (you don't need much maple syrup at all, just basically enough to swirl in the pan). Cook bacon until just crisp, about 5 minutes, turning half way through.

Meanwhile, combine eggs, cream, chives, and salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Add bread and soak each side. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. Add bread and cook until golden and crisp around the edges, about 3 minutes on each side, flipping once.

Assemble sandwich with a very light layer of mayonnaise (optional), lettuce, tomato, bacon, and sprinkle any leftover chives on top. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Supper: Lamb and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

It's been a long and eventful day and I very much wish that I was having this for my Sunday supper but the hubs and I have taken on the task of painting our living room so tonight we are throwing some baked potatoes and a london broil in the oven because it's easy and frankly, I'm tired. Not that london broil and baked potatoes are bad, I absolutely love them both. But it's not quite the same as a Lamb and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie and all the love that goes into it.

My parents often made Shepherd's Pie growing up. I think it was to use up leftover potatoes, or so I would guess. Their version always included ground beef and corn. It was good, but until I found this recipe, I had no idea how good Shepherd's Pie could be! Obviously this version isn't quite as economical as the version my parents made, but it's totally worth the extra coin. The lamb is so tender afte simmering in the liquid and I like to add extra mushrooms because I think every bite should be the perfect bite and here, the perfect bite consists of a piece of lamb, a mushroom, and a little mashed potatoes. So if you're looking to spice up and old classic, definitely give this dish a shot. I can guarantee that you'll discover a new favorite!

Lamb and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

2lb shoulder blade lamb chops, trimmed of fat and bone, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1lb assorted mushrooms, stems removed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 tbsp all purpose flour
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large shallots, minced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 cups beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
about 1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
1/3 cup whole milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and allspice. Add lamb and toss to coat evenly. In a large frying pan, over medium high heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add lamb and saute until well browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add remaining 1 tbsp olive oil to pan. Add shallots and garlic and stir over medium heat for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and bay leaf and saute until well browned, about 6 minutes.

Return lamb to frying pan, stir in stock and tomato paste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until juices thicken about 2 minutes. Transfer filling to a 9 inch pie or baking dish.

Meanwhile, make the mashed potato topping. Put potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover. Salt water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover partially and cook, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are fork tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add milk, butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and season to taste with pepper. Mash well with a potato masher. Stir in half the chives. Spoon the potatoes on top of the lamb mixture to cover it completely.

Bake pie until it is heated through and potatoes just begin to brown on top, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining chives and serve. Makes about 4 servings.

A couple modern housewife tips:
1. For the lamb, I told my butcher what I was making and they suggested I use lamb stew meat which was perfect because it was already cut into about 1 1/2 inch chunks so I basically just had to cut each chunk in half.
2. For mushrooms I usually choose 3 out of the following: oyster (I always use oyster because they are delish!!), shitake, portobello, cremini, or the typical white button mushrooms (the button mushrooms are a good option for this dish because they hold up well when being cooked for so long- they don't get mushy, like a softer mushroom could).

recipe adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook: The Essential Recipe Collection for Today's Home Cook

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

And since today is my birthday, I thought I'd give a little gift to all of you! I've been asked many times for pics of the farmhouse so here are a few images to share with you on a day that is meant for having fun, enjoying those around you, and presents!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's All About the Sauce: Lasagna with Homeade Bolognese

I may have said this before, once or twice, but I love spending a cool Sunday cooking away in my warm kitchen. The last time my mama came to visit, she brought down some tomatoes from her garden. We didn't get to use them right away so we froze them so I could use them later on. Later on happened to be this past Sunday for a delish Sunday supper at the farmhouse.

Now, it's not hard to make your own sauce but perfecting can be tough. I do feel though, that it's important for every modern housewife to have a great tomato sauce recipe and to be able to make it well. I stumbled upon this recipe a couple years ago and have made it a few times but I've found that it is best with lasagna. It's ok with spaghetti but for some reason, when I use it in lasagna it's so much better. I think it could be adapted to be great with spaghetti with the addition of some fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, and oregano.

A couple quick tips for making great bolognese:
1. Mix up your meat! I use ground beef and ground pork and the pork really adds a little something extra to the flavor.
2. Simma down now! The longer you simmer the better. This recipe calls for simmering for 1 hour but I use that as a minimum. I simmered almost 2 hours this time around which was perfect.
3. I've found a lot of recipes that use sugar, which I think the sweetness is a definite must, but what I like about this recipe is that instead of sugar it calls for carrots and red onion which gives it sweetness without that sugary sweet flavor.


3 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/3 lb ground beef
1/4 lb ground pork
2 cups canned peeled whole tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add beef and pork and cook stirring occasionally until meat is browned, 15-20 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1/4 cup water. Season w/ salt and pepper. Cook covered over low heat, stirring occasionally for a minimum of one hour.


1/2 box of lasagna noodles (about 10 noodles)
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs lightly beaten
fresh herbs such as parsley and basil, about 1 tbsp

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain and toss with a little olive oil to help separate noodles. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 3 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, parmesan, eggs, and fresh herbs. Spray 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cover bottom of baking dish with a thin layer of the bolognese. Layer 3 to 4 of the noodles over the sauce, slightly overlapping. Spread half of cheese mixture over noodles and cover with about half of the remaining sauce. Repeat layers. Cover last layer with remaining noodles and remaining bolognese. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is lightly golden brown. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

Bolognese recipe adapted from Martha

Sunday, November 7, 2010

From San Francisco to Jersey: Cioppino

It's been 5 years since I've lived in the Northeast and the last week with thick frost on my car each morning has taken some getting used to, to say the least. This weekend I was craving something warm and cozy and a San Francisco classic seemed to be just that. We wanted to make something delicious, but not too heavy so when Cioppino came to mind, it sounded perfect.

I've been wanting to make Cioppino for a while now but it is a bit expensive depending on which types of fish you use. Since my mama was here and it was a Saturday night we decided to go all out and try to stay as true to form to the San Fran style as possible, therefore we included crab, scallops, halibut, shrimp, and clams. I am so happy we went for it because it was sooooo yummy! I have to say it may be the best meal I've ever made!

If you've never heard of it, Cioppinno is a type of fish stew. It includes an assortment of fish and is in a tomato based broth. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, you can cut out the crab which will save a good chunk of money (the crab we got was around $15 a pound) and you will still have plenty of hearty fish to enjoy. To round out the meal serve with fresh bread such as sourdough.

Cioppino: San Francisco Style Seafood Stew

4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 28oz can whole plum tomatoes, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 lb crab legs (thawed if frozen)
18 small clams, such as little necks, scrubbed
1lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
3/4lb sea scallops, tough muscle removed (asked your fish monger if you aren't sure where to find the tough muscle)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While stew is simmering, hack crab leg through shell into 2 to 3 inch pieces with a large heavy knife. Add crab pieces and clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened clams to a bowl with tongs or slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes). Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil. Serve immediately in large soup bowls.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet 2002, found at epicurious

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Little Taste...

of whats to come tomorrow. My mom is visiting and we had a delish San Francisco inspired dinner tonight.  Promise to post the recipe tomorrow.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday Supper: Italian Style Pot Roast

I have to admit- I've been feeling a bit like I've cheated you. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. I was young and naive in the world of Pretty in Pork. You may recall, if you've been here since the beginning, that my very first post was regarding pot roast. It was a delicious pot roast, but I'll be honest, it was a bit of a cop out being that I used a jar of basting liquid instead of making it from scratch. So alas, I've decided to redeem myself, and redeem myself did I ever! I will go ahead and toot my own horn and tell you that I made the most delicious pot roast for a lovely Sunday supper at the farmhouse this past weekend. It was the perfect slow cooked meal on an even more perfect fall Sunday.

Now, please don't judge this dish by the ingredients. It calls for golden raisins and pine nuts- I know, weird right? Or so I thought. I don't typically eat raisins. It's not that I don't like them, its just that it makes me feel like I'm 4 years old and in Kindergarten again (which I guess, once in a while, isn't a bad thing). And pine nuts- well I've only heard of them in pesto sauce, which I don't particularly love. So, needless to say, I was a little hesitant. But, like me, don't let the raisins and pine nuts fool you. It seems strange to say, but the raisins give the slightest bit of sweetness to the cooking liquid and ultimately to the meat and I promise you, it's so good! And the pine nuts cook till they are a bit soft so the texture is actually a nice un-crunchy compliment to the rest of the dish. All in all, the dish was absolutely to die for. This pot roast is definitely going down in my "It's Sunday and I feel like a yummy, hearty, slow-cooked, cozy comfort food" book.

Italian Style Pot Roast

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 3lb chuck roast
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, finely minced
1 carrot, peeled and finely minced
1 stalk celery, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped, liquid reserved
2 cups red wine
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter with olive oil in a dutch oven over high heat. Season the roast with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, until browned. Transfer meat to a plate. Discard all but 2 tbsp of the oil from the pot. Add onion, carrot, celery and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in garlic. Add tomatoes and reserved juices and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add meat, raisins, and pine nuts to pot, cover and bake for 2 hours until meat is tender, turning pot every 30 minutes or so to ensure even cooking.

Remove meat from oven and skim away and discard any of the fat that has risen to the top. Cook the liquid over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until thickened. Transfer meat to a cutting board and cut into thin slices. Arrange on a warm serving platter and spoon sauce over top.

Modern Housewife tips:
1. I added 1 8oz package of mushrooms. I let them cook about 2 to 3 minutes before adding the tomatoes.
2. This recipe calls for finely mincing the veggies but I love all of these veggies and think next time I'll try chopping them into larger bits so that I get more of the taste of the veggies with each bite.
3. I served the post roast along with garlic mashed potatoes which I threw together about 15 minutes before I took the roast out of the oven.
4. The chuck roast was good and I think is the classic meat for pot roasts but next time I might try a leaner cut of beef such as a top round roast. The chuck tended to be more fatty than I like.

Recipe Adapted from The Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cookbook

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Having Fun with Furniture (but don't worry- food is still my first love!)

ALERT: I'm about to veer away from the world of food for just a moment because I HAVE to tell you about my latest project. But, if you embrace your modern housewife role as I do then hopefully you'll find this inspiring.

Now that I'm a homeowner, I have a new found urge to do anything and everything I can myself. Assuming that all works out favorably, I'm finding that we can save lots of money and I actually found it to be a fun, productive way to spend a Sunday. My latest pride and joy is my first attempt at furniture refinishing.

We were in desperate need of a dresser and I figured, rather than paying almost $1000 for a new beautifully crafted dresser, I'd give a shot at updating one that wasn't quite as beautiful. I found this used dresser for $150 at a consignment store in Princeton.

The green drawers and reddish hued stain wasn't exactly cutting it so I took a trip to Home Depot, picked up an electric sander and some stain, and spent the following Sunday afternoon in the garage hard at work. I have to say, I'm pretty darn proud of the finished product and am excited to find my next project!

My most favorite part are the super cute mix and match crystal knobs I found at Anthropologie. Unfortunately, its hard to see in the photo but they are all different shapes and add a cute, quirkiness factor to the dresser that fits our little farmhouse so perfectly.

Thanks for baring with me and allowing me to share a new found love with you. Be back soon with a yummy, perfect Sunday supper recipe.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall at the Farmhouse: Savory Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding

As usual, I am never happy to see the weekend come and go, but I have to say I am particularly sad to see this weekend go. I had such a great weekend at the farmhouse! An old friend of mine, the original Jersey girl, came down with her hubby on Saturday night and we had a great night catching up over wine and some yummy food. I'll admit, I'm paying for it a little today, hence the photo of the Phat Lady to you're right (which may actually be the absolute best hangover cure known to man) but it was all worth it, as it usually is! I haven't seen my Jersey girl in quite some time, but we picked up right where we left off. There was plenty of laughter, even some touching moments, and it made me really happy to be an east coast resident again.

My girl is vegetarian and as you already know, I love fall vegetables, so I took the challenge of cooking for a vegetarian as the perfect opportunity to make a savory bread pudding. I love love love sweet bread pudding and have wanted to make it before, but for some reason I thought it was going to be much harder. I stumbled upon this recipe for butternut squash and cheddar bread pudding and so I figured I had to go for it. It sounded absolutely perfect for the occasion- delicious seasonal Jersey fresh squash and hearty enough to make a meal for my favorite all veggie loving friend. And, I was completely wrong, it wasn't hard at all! It took some work but nothing a modern housewife like yourself can't handle! 

Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding

1 large butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 6 cups)
3 tbsps olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
7 large eggs
2 1/4 cups half and half
6 tbsp dry white wine
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 day old baguette (do not remove crust), cut into 1 inch cubes (about 10 cups)
1 cup chopped shallots (about 4 large)
2 bunches kale (I actually used spinach which was a great choice!!)
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash with 1 tbsp oil on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt; bake until squash is tender, turning occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add half and half, wine, mustard, and 1 1/2 tsps salt; whisk to blend. Add baguette pieces and fold gently into egg mixture. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add shallots and saute until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add kale (or spinach), cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover and stir until kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Using slotted spoon, transfer half of bread from egg mixture to prepared baking dish, arranging to cover most of dish. Spoon half of kale over bread. Spoon half of squash over bread and kale; sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, squash, and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread pudding. 

Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, bake uncovered until custard is set and bread feels springy to touch, about 20 minutes longer. Preheat broiler; broil until cheese browns slightly, about 2 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.  

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit November 2009

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall at the Farmhouse: Cornbread Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Roasted Root Vegetables

I have to tell you that I had the most fabulous weekend! My mama came down to visit for the weekend while the hubs was away on business. We did a whole bunch of antiquing and went to a whole lot of thrift stores. I even stumbled upon a gorgeous vintage faux fur leopard print double breasted coat- something I've been pining for, for at least the last year or two- all thanks to the mama! I gotta tell you, the girl knows how to shop when it comes to re-sale shopping! I can remember being a kid and hating when she dragged me to every garage sale and every antique shop. Funny thing is- the tables have turned! I dragged her to every antique, resale, or thrift store I could find this weekend. And we had the most fun along the way!

Maybe the best moment of the weekend (it's tough to choose because there were so many great moments!) was when we made a fabulous fall dinner at the farmhouse together. We chopped, cooked, chatted, drank plenty of wine, and even had The Golden Girls playing in the background. I don't think it gets any better! The weather was cool, crisp, and sunny and I was craving Fall flavors so we searched for a yummy fall recipe. We stumbled upon this dish on my Epicurious app on the ever trusty iphone and it was just what the doctor ordered.

Chicken isn't my favorite protein, but I love Cornish hens. They have more dark meat and are slightly richer in flavor, but still so much like chicken. I absolutely die for cornbread and stuffing so when this recipe called for cornbread stuffing- put a fork in me! I was done!! Nothing says fall like apples, cornbread, and stuffing! As for the roasted root veggies- it's nothing special, but when fall and winter come around, I can't wait to smell carrots, potatoes, parsnips, squash, and rutabaga roasting away in the oven. So as the cooler weather draws near and your craving the tastes of fall, give this menu a shot. It'll make your evening cozy and comforting, even if it ain't that cold out!

Cornbread Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

3 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups diced, peeled, cored Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples
2 tsps chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups 1/2 inch cubes cornbread (about 11 ounces)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 tbsps fresh apple cider or fresh apple juice

Game hens:
4 Cornish game hens, rinsed and patted dry
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
2 tsps coarse kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
4 bacon slices, each halved crosswise

For stuffing:
Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and celery. Saute until beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add apples, saute until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Mix in sage, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Transfer to a large bowl. Let stand until almost cool, about 10 minutes.

Mix cornbread into vegetables. Add egg and toss to blend. Mix in cheese, then enough apple cider by tablespoonfuls to form stuffing that is moist but not wet.

Game hens:
Sprinkle cavity of each hen lightly with salt and pepper. Pack 1 cup stuffing into each (place any leftover stuffing into buttered ramekins and cover with foil). Skewer cavities closed with toothpicks. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together to hold shape. Mix sage, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture over hens.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Place 2 hens in skillet. Saute until brown, turning often with wooden spoons, about 10 minutes. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet, breast side up. Repeat with remaining hens. Drape 2 bacon strip halves over breast of each hen. Using kitchen string, tie bacon strips in place. (Place any ramekins of stuffing on baking sheet with hens.)

Place hens in oven. Roast until cooked through and juices run clear when thigh is pierced, about 45 minutes. Cut string off hens. Transfer hens to plates and serve- about 1 hen per guest depending on size.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Any selection of root vegetables such as the following:

Peel and chop into large chunks. Mix with enough olive oil to coat. Toss with your favorite herbs. This time around I tossed with some Emeril's Essence and some fresh sage which we had leftover from the game hens. Roast in pre-heated oven at 375-400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are tender but not mushy.

Modern Housewife Tips:
1. Typically you would serve 1 hen per guest, but depending on your side dish and size of the hen, one hen for every two people could work. The mama and I shared one and it was just enough for the two of us.
2. This recipe calls for apple cider to mix with the stuffing to make it moist. I followed the recipe and found that the stuffing was a bit on the sweet side between the cornbread and the apple cider. Next time I'll try using chicken broth. I think the cornbread adds enough sweetness that it will be much more balanced if cut with a little bit of saltiness.
3. The recipe calls for bacon to be draped over the hens before you put in the oven. We weren't really feeling the bacon so I topped each hen with about a half a tbsp of butter- just enough to brown the skin and also give it a bit more flavor.

Recipe adapted from Bon Apetit, October 2008 by Bruce Aidells

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Super Simple Sides: Mmmmmmmmacaroni Salad

A little less than a month ago my brother married his long time gf, to which I say- It's about damn time!! No, but honestly, I've been waiting for them to finally make it official for what feels like forever! I love his now wife and am so glad that she is now a part of my extended family, officially. The wedding was on a Friday and by Sunday I felt I'd allowed enough time for us to all become a family and decided to ask my new sister-in-law's mom, Bette (don't you dare call her Betty!) for her uber delicious and super simple macaroni salad recipe. With summer winding down, I figured I only had a limited amount of time to get the recipe and take full advantage of owning it before it no longer seemed seasonally appropriate.

There is nothin' like a good old homestyle macaroni salad and this recipe is just that. It's nothing fancy, which is exactly the reason it's so delicious. From this point forward, I vow to never again eat macaroni salad that doesn't have peas, tuna and celery in it- cuz mac salad without it just ain't right!

Bette's (Don't you dare call her Betty!) Macaroni Salad

1lb macaroni
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
1 28oz can peas
1 can tuna
about 1 cup mayonnaise, more to taste if needed
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 tbsp celery salt
1/2 to 1 tbsp paprika

Cook macaroni according to directions on package. Drain and let cool a little. Add to a large bowl and mix with remaining ingredients. Adjust mayonnaise and seasonings as needed. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bette Durocher

Friday, September 17, 2010

Date Night In New Home Style: Liberty Duck Breast with Bread Salad

It's official! The hubs and I are all moved into the farmhouse. We are still getting acquainted with the area but we love love love our house! I'm getting quite comfortable in my new kitchen and to celebrate our new adventure, we enjoyed our first date night in dinner a few weeks ago. You all know my love affair with duck so what better to make for our first farmhouse dinner than a delicious duck recipe from our Cakebread Cellars Cookbook. 

This is a dish I've made once before and it only took that one time to fall head over heels for bread salad. The duck is delicious in this dish because it isn't smothered in sauce. It's merely seasoned with salt and pepper and pan seared. The highlight for me is definitely the bread salad. You get a little sweetness from the apples and dried cranberries, a little crunchiness from the perfectly toasted bread, and just the right amount of savory from the duck fat. Overall, it is the perfect marriage of sweet and savory.

This is a very special meal that is one to impress so get out of your sweats and into something a little more romantic, like this...

and enjoy a beautiful night in with the one you love.

Liberty Duck Breast with Dried Cranberry-Apple Bread Salad

2 (6-8 ounce) duck breasts
2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups crust less sweet french bread crumbs
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1 1/2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup chicken stock

Score the skin on the duck breasts and set aside. 

Combine wine and cranberries in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes until berries are plump and moist. 

While berries are sitting, heat the 1/2 cup olive oil in a large nonstick saucepan over high heat. Add the bread and toss to coat evenly. Cook for 5 minutes until lightly browned on all sides, tossing occasionally to prevent burning. Transfer to a large bowl.

Drain cranberries over a small saucepan to catch the wine. Set berries aside. Return wine to a boil over high heat. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until reduced to about 1/4 cup. 

Add cranberries, pecans, parsley and thyme to bowl with the bread. 

Season duck with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil over high heat. Add the duck, skin side down. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 6 to 7 minutes until golden brown. Turn and cook on other side for 3 to 4 minutes until firm. Transfer the duck to a plate and drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Return to high heat. Add apples and cook 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Add to the bread mixture. 

Return skillet to high heat and add the stock. Pour any duck juices that collect on the plate into the skillet. Bring to a boil and scrape the sides and bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of duck or apple. Cook on a rapid simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until thick. Add to bread salad and toss to mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut the duck breasts into thin slices. Place a spoonful of the bread salad on the center of the plate. Arrange the sliced duck over the bread salad, spoon a small amount of the reduced wine around the plate and serve.  

Recipe adapted from The Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cookbook
Rory Beca dress from Shopbop

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Great American Road Trip Round 2: In A Nutshell

I'm baaaaaaaack! I have to apologize for my very long absence. This summer has been, hmmmmm, let's just say it's been interesting. I've officially travelled just about 8000 miles this summer by car. I've made it across the country twice along with a couple of mini trips between the North Country and southern New York. Unfortunately I didn't have much time to document my second cross country trip while on the road so I thought I'd give you a little recap of our drive through the northern states, which by the way are so beautiful!

First stop: Bend, Oregon

Yummy food (and beer) at Deschutes Brewery:

warm soft pretzel with cheesy stone ground mustard sauce

Next Stop: Sun Valley, Idaho

Smoked Trout Benedict at The Kneadery

Up Next: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The food highlight of our trip: dinner at Gun Barrel Steak and Game

Venison Bratwurst

Mesquite Grilled Elk Chops (SO damn good!!)

And Finally: The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park

Our little Rira enjoying the view in Wyoming.

Now, I know what your thinking, we had to make it all the way to Jersey and this only goes through Wyoming. Well, we ended up spending so much time enjoying these beautiful spots that we basically had to book it home after this. All in all it was a great trip and an amazing summer. I'm happy to be in our new home and already have some great recipes up my sleeve with photos of the meal in action to boot! So I'll be seeing you very soon with a delicious recipe made and photographed by yours truly of our first romantical date night in, in our new home.