Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Web Design

I needed to change my layout so badly, I've been messing with logos on and off for weeks, and I finally settled on a very simplistic page. Also, now that I've shrunk the side bars, my images can be huge. And that's all that really matters in the end, isn't it? Hopefully you find this layout way less blinding :)

Eat Well!

Copy Cat Recipe of Zuppa Toscana

This black Friday I had thoughts of being smashed in crowds, or having my eyes glued open while I stalked amazon.com for extreme deals that I just HAD to have. I thought I'd spend copious amounts of money on Christmas presents, or knife sets for myself, or buying DVDs that were only $5. Nope. Not this year. Instead, I woke up feeling ill, but next to an even ill-er husband. He had a terrible cold, and actually slept until 3 in the afternoon. Poor thing. I had to make do with my stomach bug. After a nap, however, I felt much better. But my poor husband was feeling terrible. He requested I make chicken noodle soup, and I told him that would be fine.

I left to go to the store, and as I was walking around, I realized I was just not in the mood for chicken noodle. Brandon loves the zuppa toscana at the Olive Garden. I know how many people despise the Olive Garden. It's not authentic, it's got boring food, it's not home made, whatever. I really don't care if they take this soup out of a can, I love it. It's spicy, it's got sausage, it's creamy, and there are potatoes in it. Oh, and cheese. Works for me, and definitely works for him too. So I decided to go for it. I knew the essentials of what was in the soup, and I looked up a few knock off recipes (love smart phones.). In all honesty, it's a very easy soup to make, and most of the recipes were very similar. Kale, cream, chicken broth, sausage, potatoes. It's not really much more than that. I added a lot of red pepper (he loves it spicy) and bacon. It was a perfect meld of flavors, and it made so much soup. It keeps very well. The creaminess of the broth and the softness of the potatoes was just lovely. My husband couldn't taste most things that day, but he said he certainly tasted the spice and the sausage :) The next day he could taste and he raved about it, but that just goes to show you, it's got some kick. So if you don't care for it being that spicy, just cut back on the red pepper, or use only sweet Italian sausage, with a little red pepper, instead of the mix of hot and sweet. I served it garnished with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a hunk of roasted garlic and olive oil bread.

Time from start to finish: about an hour


1 lb. mix Hot and Sweet Italian Sausage, out of the casing/ground
10 cups Chicken Broth (or bullion cubes with water)
1 head Kale, rinsed and chopped well
4 cloves Garlic, minced or grated
6 strips Bacon, cubed
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Vidalia Onion, chopped
1/4 cup of Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
3 large Russet Potatoes, sliced 1/4 of an inch thick
1 Tbsp Oil
3 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano for topping the soup

Put your oil in a large skillet and heat to medium. Cook your sausage with 1 Tbsp red pepper, salt and pepper until it's no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Transfer your sausage to a bowl and cover and refrigerate. In the same skillet, put in your bacon. If necessary, add another splash of oil to the pan. Once your bacon starts to render a little bit (about 2 minutes), add your onion. Saute until the onion is almost translucent, about 4 minutes. Once it is close to translucent, add your garlic and mix everything together for about 30 seconds. Your bacon won't be crispy. Transfer the mixture to a high stock pot*. Turn the pot on medium high heat and add in your stock, salt and pepper, and remaining red pepper. Let the mixture come to a boil, then add your potatoes. Let cook until your potatoes are almost fork tender, roughly 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium low and add in your kale and chilled sausage and half your parsley. Cook the soup for another 10 minutes and add the cream. Stir it in, and heat until the cream has just warmed through, and serve topped with remaining parsley and cheese.

*If you don't mind your soup being a little discolored, you could do this whole process in your pot that you'll be cooking your soup in. Sausage is very greasy, so you'll already have a little bit of grease in your soup. I just didn't want the whole soup greasy. But if you don't mind, go for it. All the more flavor!

Eat Well!


Oh it's back to reality I see. After my long (but never long enough) weekend of turkey, family, Christmas decorating, and caring for a sick husband, I am back at work (and the technology world!). This time of year is always so busy, and this is my first real session on a computer longer than a half hour or so, since before the break. That doesn't mean that I haven't cooked, however. I actually have a few recipes that I will be able to share with you this week.

I am hoping to start up my cookie baking in the next week or two, give or take, as well. So I'm on the hunt for cookie recipes! I'll be attempting to tackle several kinds that I've never made, so hopefully soon you can read about my trials and tribulations there, as well.

I do want to apologize in advance, however. When I first started this blog, I was writing nearly every day. Since the beginning of November, I have been swamped with other things going on. Catching up with friends, lots of family gatherings, and trying to keep up to date with this as well. I can only predict that I will continue the trend through December. So hopefully you can find it easy to be patient :) The holidays are always my busiest time of year, but I will do my best to post at least twice a week. I do have a feeling that I will be sharing a lot of pasta recipes, however! At our latest trek to Wegmans (our more high end grocery store), we recently discovered their pastas that are more or less unavailable at our local grocery store. So we purchased a few bags, and I'm feeling the need for it. It's almost winter! A lot of people love stew to keep warm. I like carbs :)

Along with pasta, I'm hoping to test out new cookies, like I mentioned, and I am having a serious desire to make my own Mozzarella in Carrozza. I've never made it, but I can't see HOW on earth it could not just be the best thing ever. I'm also planning on whipping up some wasabi smashed potatoes and some teriyaki chicken this week, too! So hopefully we'll have a bit of an adventure, and a tad bit of indulgence before the holiday season is over. Lord knows once January hits, I'll be back to my normal self, and most likely posting nothing but belt looseners. But for the month of December... hopefully I'll convince the husband to let me make a few treats out of the norm, but good for the soul.

I do hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving (if you're from the US! If not, a good weekend then!).

Eat Well!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cameron Estate Inn: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Back in July, my mother had her big 50th birthday. Instead of a huge party, we took her out for dinner to a place called the Cameron Estate Inn. It's nestled in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania and truly is a gem. Before we stopped over here, we had a picnic at a local winery. We probably shouldn't have eaten at all, because while the portions don't look over-the-top large, you basically had to roll all of us out of there. The one thing that I love about small places is that they don't spread themselves too thin. They have one, maybe two seasonal vegetables, one or two starches, and then you get your entree paired with it. I always tend to find that you're never disappointed by what you get. My entire family was absolutely raving about the potatoes that were paired with all of our entrees. They were so garlicky and buttery. We actually were begging the waitress to tell us what on earth they put in them, but to no alas. The biggest shocker was the Brussels sprouts. I genuinely never liked them. Ever. No matter how they were made, I'd shove them aside and turn my nose up at them. That's even including eating them with bacon, butter, you name it. However, I honestly have no idea what they did with these, but they were fantastic. I literally cleaned my entire plate. So, goes to show that a small bed and breakfast might only give you a few options, but here at Cameron Estate Inn, you're going to be pleased no matter what the side dish. So without further adieu, I'll show you some of the meals we ate, and give my take on them.

Cocoa Rubbed Lamb Chops
This was my 11 year old brother's meal. Champagne tastes, eh? Gotta love him. Being in central Pennsylvania has its perks. We are extremely close to Hershey, PA. Well, Cameron Estate Inn doesn't let their closeness go to waste. They use fresh Hershey cocoa in a rub for a gorgeous lamb chop. It tastes of chocolate and herbs, and is simply divine. The lamb is cooked to a perfect medium rare and is so incredibly juicy. They give you a very generous portion, as well. Even my mother who doesn't like lamb, thought it was amazing.

Petite Filet with Crab Cake
This was mine. I got to devour all of it, and I was so happy with every bite. They paired a tender filet of beef with a no-filler crab cake. My perfect kind of surf and turf. The filet was topped with a large mound of shallot butter, and the crab cake was topped with their signature rémoulade sauce. My favorite part was the very first bite of crab cake. I have had crab cakes in many restaurants; I am a gigantic fan. But I absolutely despise spending large amounts of money on crab cakes that have a ton of filler. If you're not familiar with crab cakes (they are very popular in the Chesapeake area, however I have friends in the mid-west that don't have access to them), jumbo lump crab meat can be pretty pricey. So some restaurants use bread crumbs, or other ingredients similar to 'fill' their crab cake. My ideal crab cake is just jumbo lump, a little seasoning, hint of lemon, and maybe a little egg or mayo to bind it all together. Go figure, my ideal crab cake is few and far between. However, here it was spectacular. I tasted no filler, just pure sweet crab and that fantastic rémoulade. I would go back simply for this crab cake.

Crème Brûlée
The dessert. A simple Crème brûlée. Truly delicious and gorgeous. I can always appreciate a good Crème brûlée. I seem to order it out more and more, and it's no wonder why. I love the crispy texture of the caramelized sugar, mixed in with the cool creamy custard. Cameron Estate Inn made theirs exactly on point. Very traditional, no frills. They just paired it with a little chocolate raspberry drizzle on the side, and it was a delightful, sweet end to a very lovely meal.

We will definitely be going back to try out more of their menu. If you're ever in central PA, I hope you have a desire to stop by and try them out. You won't be disappointed!

Eat Well!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lemon Parmigiana Pasta

My ultimate form of comfort food. Pasta. It's so filling and incredibly versatile. I can serve it with tons of cheese, tomato sauce, alfredo sauce, e olio, you name it, you got it. One of my favorite ways to have it, is just tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, basil, mushrooms and wine. It's so warm, hearty, and really explains why I love Italian food. It takes so little for such a great tasting meal. This is no different.

Growing up, my mom constantly would whip up pasta dishes on a whim. They always burst with flavor and she rarely spent more than 20-30 minutes on them. It's funny because most people think lasagna or baked ziti or manicotti is the most comforting form of Italian (or Americanized Italian) food. But for me it's something like this. Don't misunderstand me. Gnocchi and eggplant parm are actually my two favorite foods. And they are incredibly comforting. But a simple pasta takes so little time to make, with so little labor involved. That's pretty comforting to me. Hopefully some weeknight when you're feeling a nice warm bowl of pasta, you'll try this version! Enjoy!

Time from start to finish: 20-30 minutes

1/2 box Cavatappi pasta
1 Lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 cup Basil, cut into a chiffonade
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
2 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped thickly
3 cloves Garlic, minced or grated
1/2 medium Onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 cup Dry White Wine
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Butter
1-2 Tbsp Flour
Salt and Pepper to taste

Salt your pasta water. While you wait for your water to boil, melt one tablespoon of butter with the oil over medium heat. Once melted, add mushrooms and onion and saute until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Turn heat to medium high and add the wine. Bring to a boil then reduce to low. Add the crushed red pepper, garlic, chicken stock, flour, remainder of the butter, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper, 1/2 of the basil and all of the parsley. Cook at least 3-4 minutes, then add the pasta and the cheese. Toss and top with remainder of the basil. Serve with pesto topped crusty Italian bread and salad.

Eat Well!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

No Frills Steak Salad

Some week nights call for the easiest, quick meals. No crazy clean up, just good old fashioned simplicity. This is one of my favorite 20 minute meals. It is so crazy versatile that if you're in the mood to spruce it up, you can do it quite easily. But if you come home, exhausted, and needing to get dinner on the table fast - and still make it well balanced - you can leave it just as it is. I make mine Pittsburgh-style, meaning I put fries on top. Growing up, my dad would make this and he always did it that way, so I do too! This salad is really great with a creamy dressing. I love blue cheese dressing, or Parmesan peppercorn.  So get yourself a nice big bowl, a fork, and get ready to eat!
Time from start to finish: 20 minutes


1-2 packages Stir fry Steak
1 bag or head of Romaine Lettuce
1 package Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Red Onion, sliced thinly
1 bag Steak Fries*
1 Cucumber, diced
1-2 cups Cheddar, shredded
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1-2 Tbsp Chili Powder
Salt and Pepper

Drizzle 1 Tbsp of the oil over the steak. toss with the cajun seasoning and a little salt and pepper so the steak is coated. If using the fries, coat with the remaining oil, and the chili powder. Cook to instructions on the bag. Put everything else in a big salad bowl while the fries cook. When there is about 4 minutes left on the fries, heat a pan over medium high. Cook the steak, flipping with tongs, until cooked to medium - about 2 minutes. Top the salad with the steak and fries and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Eat Well,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lebanese Delight

Ok. so it's not all Lebanese. But I didn't think the title should say "Greek + Arabic + Lebanese = Love". People might mistake it for some crazy movie. But in all honesty, I have all three cuisines to thank for the fantastic meal we chowed down on tonight. It was partially inspired by a Lebanese shop, Shab's Pita Stroller, by our house, and partially inspired by a friend who gave me her grandmothers recipe for Arabic potato salad. Coincidentally, the friend who gave me the potato salad recipe is actually cousins to the owners of Shab's! So I'll just throw inspiration at the family in general :) This afternoon I was trying to think about what on earth I would make for dinner. I had planned the beginning of the week, but sorta didn't think as far ahead as Wednesday. Lucky me, because if I had - this meal wouldn't have been on our table tonight. It was an easy meal, but totally out of the norm for my typical dishes. The whole thing was an experience and recipe test. I made my first batch of home made tzatziki! I made the Arabic potato salad! I made chicken pitas! Alright, so the pitas aren't the most exciting thing ever, but truth be told - I wanted to remake one of my favorite meals that I get at Shab's (I wish they had a website, but here's the yelp link!). Whenever I go, I get the simple chicken pita stroller. Basically just grilled chicken cubes, tzatziki, lettuce, tomato and onion, all rolled up into an awesome pita. I had a little time to wait on the tzatziki sauce to come together in the fridge, so I marinated the chicken. I marinated it in lemon juice, garlic, zahtar (a middle eastern spice blend of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds), extra virgin olive oil, oregano and vinegar, and then grilled them so they were nice and brown with grill marks. Then we stuffed them into warmed pitas (make sure if you heat your pitas up, if they have pockets to open the pita before you warm it in the oven. If you don't, you might have a hard time opening them after!) with a big slather of the tzatziki sauce, parsley and tomatoes. Then on the side was the delicious potato salad!

So the real fun tonight was in making the tzatziki (and thinking I botched it!). I looked at a few recipes, and as I seem to do EVERY time I read one, I sorta just used it as a guideline. My husband actually was SO delighted with this sauce, it was the craziest thing I ever saw. My husband, Brandon, does not ever use copious amounts of condiments. And VERY rarely will he eat anything that looks even the slightest bit cream based or potentially mayo based, etc. So no ranch dressing, no blue cheese dressing, no mayo usually. And he doesn't care for dips, unless it's salsa. He's a tad crazy. But this tzatziki... the man blew me away. I had left it in the kitchen, and he actually asked me to bring it out so he could put more on his pita. He was basically slathering it all over everything. When you cook dinner, you take this as the biggest compliment there is (unless of course they're slathering something you DIDN'T make all over your food!!!). Like I said, I looked at a billion recipes, and I basically ignored so many rules that I read. And you know what? It was delicious. I didn't have a day to strain yogurt, so I bought Greek yogurt. I still read you should strain that - tough. I had an hour to get dinner on the table, and I threw the rulebook out. I don't doubt that you should follow the rules laid out by all of the fantastic grandmas everywhere, but in a pinch - this recipe will do. And that is putting it mildly. We were in love with it. A quick note though, it HAS to sit in the fridge at least an hour. It tasted weird when I did the quick taste test after mixing everything together. After the hour, it was pure bliss. The potato salad was absolutely delicious! Bright and lemony and was a perfect accompaniment to this meal!!! A home run all around with tonight's dinner!

Tzatziki Sauce
Time from start to finish: about 1 hour, give or take

1 16-ounce package Greek Yogurt
2 cloves Garlic
1 Hot House Cucumber - peeled, deseeded and chopped roughly
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 1 big Lemon
1 cup Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp fresh Dill

Pulse your cucumber, garlic, dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the food processor, until fully blended. Pour it into a thin sieve or strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid. I found this much easier than salting the cucumbers, waiting for the water to drain, etc. The liquid comes out much faster, but is pure water. Mix cucumber mixture into yogurt and top with more fresh dill. Allow to refrigerate 1 hour.

Arabic Potato Salad 
Time from start to finish: about 30 minutes

3-4 boiling Potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the potatoes in a salted pot, cover, bring to a boil. While the potatoes cook, make the dressing. Combine rest of ingredients (except parsley) and whisk until emulsified. When the potatoes are fork tender (anywhere from 10-20 minutes), drain, put back in hot pot and allow water to dissipate. Pour dressing over potatoes and top with fresh parsley. 

Hopefully you enjoy these recipes!

Eat Well!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken Francaise with Roasted Asparagus

This weekend, the husband and I went out to my grandparents house in Toms River, New Jersey (Yes. It's near the jersey shore). It was a quite a lovely visit. My grandparents are both Italian, and they very much prove that fact within 3 minutes of talking to them. Their favorite subject is food. My grandpa loves to rave about my grandmothers cooking, and my grandmother loves to talk about how little she likes most others cooking, but loves her own. In New Jersey, there are delis everywhere. Butchers ready to give you their own soppressata, prosciutto, or pancetta. It's a luxury that we don't have here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Needless to say, after our visit, all we wanted to do was make a soppressata, roasted red pepper and mozzarella sandwich (please pronounce that as "soop-re-sod and mootz a dell"), have home made "gravy", and eat copious amounts of Italian bread. But one recipe in particular was begging me to cook it at home. That was chicken francaise. My grandma made it the first night we were there, however she made hers with a pre-made sauce. This is absolutely unheard of for her, so we knew it had to be tasty. She used Victoria's Chicken Francese sauce. It was definitely delicious. She said she prefers to make her own, but at 4 dollars at her local grocery store, and making it as an entertainment dish, it pays for itself. When you figure in the wine, lemons, capers, etc. (not to mention the time you'll be spending away from your guests), it will definitely be over 4 dollars. But as with all jarred sauces, when I try them, I think of ways to make it better. This obviously runs in the family, because my grandma hardly just used a jar of sauce. She sauteed up some lemons, added fresh parsley, and had her cutlets already tasting like perfection. The sauce was really quite good. She served it to us with Italian bread, roasted potatoes and a fresh veggie medley. Not to mention, she was only away from us for all of 20 minutes. It really hit the spot.

Honestly though, I rarely like to use jarred sauces. I tend to find that when it comes to anything acidic, it just tastes...fake. I don't mean that it's not good, I just don't get the same brightness as you typically do when it's freshly made. My husband actually made that notice tonight, and I completely agree with him. That is not to say there's anything wrong with using them, I'd just rather make my own. So that's what I did! I paired it with roasted asparagus and roasted fingerling potatoes. I do hope that I'd make my grandma proud. After all, she rarely eats anything not made by herself :). Oh us crazy Italians. Enjoy!

Chicken Francaise
Time from start to finish: about 30 minutes

4 boneless, skinless Chicken Cutlets (or breasts) pounded to about 1/4 inch thickness
1/2 Lemon, sliced thinly
1 cup Chicken Stock
3 Tbsp Butter
About 1 cup Flour
2 tsps Capers
2 Eggs
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup dry White Wine (I used Chardonnay)
4 cloves Garlic, minced or grated
1 Shallot, diced finely
Chopped Parsley for garnish (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare your chicken. Trim it, use your meat tenderizer (or the bottom of a heavy glass, as I like to use!), and set it aside. Take your two eggs and beat them together in a shallow bowl. Make a little assembly line: chicken, a piece of foil with flour, salt and pepper mixed together, and then your egg wash. Over medium high heat, melt 1 Tbsp of butter into the 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. When your oil is hot, dip your chicken in the flour, then the egg, and then fry until golden on one side - about 2 minutes. Continue frying until the chicken is cooked the whole way through, another 2-3 minutes total . Repeat this in batches until your chicken is all cooked, and place on a paper towel lined dish. Cover with foil to keep warm. I actually cleaned my pan after this. I just didn't want my sauce looking brown from all the chicken browning. Lowering the pan to medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp butter into 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Once the butter is melted, add in the lemon slices. Cook on one side about a minute, flip, and cook the other side another minute. Add the garlic and shallot and cook about 30 seconds until tender. Add the wine, chicken stock, capers and the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter. I coated the butter in flour so it would thicken the sauce. Bring this up to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Taste before salting, as the capers are salty. Salt and pepper the sauce. Chop up your parsley if using. Once your sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add your chicken back to the sauce, add half of your parsley and stir and flip your chicken so it's got a nice coating. Serve it topped with the sauce, lemon slices and the remaining parsley. Eat right away.


Roasted Asparagus
Time from start to finish: About 30 minutes

1 bundle fresh Asparagus
1 Lemon, halved. One half sliced thinly, the other half for juicing
Salt and Pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take one asparagus spear and lightly bend it until it snaps. Discard the bottom and use the top with the spear as a measuring guide. Trim your asparagus to roughly the same length. Get a cookie sheet, and lay the lemon slices down. In a medium mixing bowl, put asparagus spears, salt, pepper, oil and squeeze the remaining half of lemon on top. Toss to coat, and lay in a line on the baking sheet, on top of the lemon slices. Roast about 20-25 minutes, until the asparagus is fork tender.

Eat Well!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bakefest Weekend!

This past weekend, my mama, the hubs and I had a mini bake-a-thon. It started with cranberry orange scones, and ended with pound cake. We had pizza, beer, and lots and lots of sugar. It couldn't have been a more fun day. The next day, we hand delivered treats to some of our favorite family members and friends, as sort of our way of doing trick or treat :) We surprised some friends, others knew we were coming, and we all in all just had a GREAT time.

I'm going away for the weekend, but I wanted to leave you with a few of the recipes we followed. Maybe you'll find yourself baking up a storm! We did little to no substitutions. The only one I can think where I changed anything up was the pumpkin whoopie pies. I added about 4 tsps pumpkin pie spice instead of all the spices that are called for :) Turned out divinely! Oh also, Brandon didn't dip the biscotti. Anyway, enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Scones - Ina Garten
Lemon Almond Biscotti - Giada De Laurentiis
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies -Martha Stewart

Have a safe and fun weekend, and EAT WELL!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Devilish Chicken

Brr. It was INSANELY cold today. This morning the hubs and I woke up and left for work around 6:30 am. Aside from looking like midnight outside, it felt like we were at the north pole. According to the weather channel, it was 27 degrees out. I swear they were lying. In case you are unaware, I live in Pennsylvania. If you're not from the states, that's right below New York :). It should NOT be 27 degrees. Sigh. Anyway, we trekked to work as always. The frost was all over the windshield, so we put the windows down and ran the windshield wipers. This is a common occurrence in the early winter months. We never know if it'll be frosty or not, and we certainly didn't expect it this morning. Good thing we live a block from work. Or else we'd actually have to warm up the car :(
So after the scramble in the frigid cold, I finally settled at my desk, got my heating pad out, and started to think about dinner. Monday evening I was flipping through food network and cooking channel. Rachael Ray was on and she was making what she called "Deviled Skillet Chicken". It looked quite tasty, aside from the fact that the top of the chicken looked a tad too smothered in mustard to me. The basis of this dish was browned chicken, with a large smear of dijon (mixed with red pepper and spices), and a sauce made from the pan drippings and wine. Pretty easy, and I figured I'd adapt it to my tastes. Last week I had a mess with dijon pork chops (BOO!), but I loved the sauce. So this sauce is pretty similar to that. It's a little healthier, though! As per the norm, I used boneless skinless breasts, and instead of smearing the top with a large dollop of mustard, I coated the chicken in it, and allowed it to be the sauce. It was fantastic! On her show, Rachael Ray paired it with a vinegar slaw and giardiniera. We bought hot pepper rings instead and had a salad. Surprisingly, the nice bite from the vinegar in the pickled peppers really did go well with the Dijon. I highly recommend having something vinegary. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Time from start to finish: About 15-20 minutes

2 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1/2 cup Dijon Mustard
1 big sprig Rosemary, chopped finely
2 cloves Garlic, minced or grated
2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 small onion, diced
1 cup Dry White Wine
1/2 - 1 cup Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Butter

Heat your olive oil and butter over medium high heat. Mix the mustard, red pepper, garlic and rosemary together. Salt and pepper your chicken, then slather with the mustard mixture. Brown your chicken on one side. Flip and add the onions. Once the other side is browned, add the wine and chicken stock and reduce the heat to medium to medium low. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.

Eat Well!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Photography Bliss

I know this is a food blog, but I have to say how much I love my new camera. I am in no way a great photographer. And I'm certainly no professional editor. However, jumping from my point and shoot to my DSLR has really got me into learning as much as I can about this fantastic hobby.

In high school, I took photography. I just messed around with it, and did the whole pinhole camera/black and white photography thing. It was a small class offered, and I really enjoyed it. When I got out of school, I sort of dropped the hobby because I started working full time and didn't have much money (what a shocker!). My then-boyfriend, now husband, and I got an apartment shortly after, and we still weren't exactly rolling in dough. I got my good point and shoot in 2008, and it started me getting back into photoshopping and editing. It wasn't until we got our engagement shots done (summer 09) that I really got hardcore back into it. There was something about seeing professional pictures of US that really just sparked my interest. It's sort of funny, since I tend to prefer to photograph nature and still life, not portraits (portraits of my cat don't count!). Anyway, I just want to post a few of my favorite photos and show why I love my new baby. Some are serious edits, and some (like the first) have practically zero editing, and are just the result of the camera being awesome, not me. In fact, most of it is the camera, haha. I'm working on getting into doing all manual shooting, but mostly everything on auto. It's a darn smart piece of machinery.

In case you are interested, it's a Canon Rebel XSI. A fantastic beginner DSLR. I highly recommend it :)

I love this because I literally spent a minute editing the lighting on this slightly. No tripod needed!

Honestly not much editing was done here either. The day was so gorgeous.

My attempt at a tri-photo of wind chimes
This was a huge edit. So you can probably see a lot of the flaws if you look close. But I'm still pretty proud of it!

This was actually with no tripod. See why I love my camera!

I know most of these are just blah photos to most, but I have to just say how much fun I'm having. So I think that's all that matters. I'm just using the kit lens, too. Someday when I get better, I'll invest in a few lesser expensive lenses :). It's just nice to have something really spark my interest. This blog in general has been a great stepping stone for me to get REALLY into cooking new recipes and working on my photography. So even if only a few people read it, it's great for me. And I've found so many great sites to read and draw inspiration from. So thank you all for that :). I've already picked 2 or 3 recipes from fellow bloggers sites! Check out the links to the right of my page, they're all fantastic writers. Highly recommend them!

Thanks for watching me post my mediocre photos!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage and Honey

So believe it or not, I had never actually had butternut squash. I've had practically every other kind of squash, but never butternut. It is literally EVERYWHERE this time of year, and finally I decided to make it. Why not? I'm so glad I did! It tasted completely different than I expected. I followed no recipe, I sorta just winged it, tasted, seasoned as I went. The result was pure sweet heaven. Contrary to my namesake, I don't generally like sweet savory side dishes (I KNOW, I KNOW.). The exception to this is candied yams on Thanksgiving. Also, apparently I also love sweet butternut squash. I'd be very interested in actually making my own butternut squash soup, or to use onions or leeks with them next time.

So first things first. In the case that you're a butternut squash novice, such as myself, make sure that when you cut your squash you cut it half lengthwise. There are seeds inside the bulbous bottom (technical term!), and you need to remove them. Also prepare to hate your life while you peel and cut it into cubes. At least I did. I see so many people roasting them whole and cutting them after (I wonder why...!?). You might want to try that, or just buy them pre-cut if you don't feel like messing with them. I never buy produce this way, though. I don't even buy pre-sliced mushrooms. I like to do the work myself, so I understand if you decide to tackle it on your own, without roasting it first! High five, we are in the same annoyed boat! But once that baby is peeled and the seeds are removed, and you've cut it in 1 inch cubes...the fun begins! Like I said, I didn't look at any recipes. I sort of picked through my pantry and went with what I assumed would work. The only thing I knew in advance was that people love brown sugar on the squash. And go figure, I didn't even add that until it was halfway done cooking and I tasted it to see what it needed. Low and behold, I didn't find the honey to be sweet enough, so I added the sugar. But the one thing I do know is that this was one tasty side dish! I served it alongside pork tenderloin. Enjoy!

Time from start to finish: About 1 hour

1 Butternut Squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes
1-2 Tbsp Honey
1-2 Tbsp Sage (I only had dried. I imagine fresh would be fantastic!)
2-3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lay squash on a cookie sheet and coat with rest of ingredients. Make sure the squash is laying flat, and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until fork tender.

Eat Well!