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