Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If you like to dip...

...here is a yummy one. We like it with veggies, crackers, chips, and pita bread.

16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup mild salsa
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I always add more lime juice)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a food processor (I just use a good blender). Process until smooth. If desired, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

YUM!! I love it and I hope you will, too!

By way of introduction, and at Emily's suggestion, I'm Anna. Emily and I are friends here in Phoenix. She went to high school with my sister, I went to school with her sisters, and I was thrilled when she moved into the area! I have two daughters ages 4 and 2 1/2. My husband is in law enforcement and has a schedule that is not conducive to traditional meal-times. Four days a week we have "dinner" at lunch time so that we can have "dinner" together before he goes to work. I mention this as part of my disclaimer: my recipes may not fall in the "gourmet" category, most days there just isn't time, but I hope they will be enjoyed!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

Roasted Duck with Port Wine Bing Cherry Sauce

2 large ducks
Duck "Stuffing": oranges, celery, carrots and fresh parsley
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 15-ounce cans of pitted Bing cherries
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup of port wine
Essence of orange rind

I remember when Emily CC made this for gourmet group and I loved it! My attempt is a more simplified version than Emily's stellar performance (for those of you who kept the recipes) and here are my "learning moments". First, roasting the ducks caused several fire alarms. I knew that there would be a lot of fat rendering in the cooking process but OMG and little Theo was "trying" to take a nap during the process…what a nightmare! Learn from me, you will need two shallow cooking pans on the rack below to fully catch all of the fat sprays that result from cooking this meat at such a high temperature. By "stuffing" the ducks with 1/2 an orange, a stalk of celery and a carrot with a small handful of parsley, the duck remained very moist and tender. I let them rest for a good 15 minutes before carving and placing on a serving tray with some fresh parsley as garnish and then I drizzled the cherries and sauce over with a side dish for extra servings (let's just say my "dry" crowd lapped up my yummy wine sauce). I finished it with a few shavings of orange rind with a micro plane…

To accompany this I had a baby spinach salad with pomegranate, pear and goat cheese and I made a yummy creamy balsamic dressing using a raspberry syrup to sweeten it - delish. I also made sweet potatoes but I also sautéed a few apples and blended them with a dab of butter, brown sugar, a dash of cloves and enough apple cider to give it a good consistency. You can see my fruit theme throughout the meal, which I think made it lighter than a typical Christmas meal, which was necessary for the desert: dark chocolate cake with a raspberry-bourbon filling and homemade chocolate frosting (but I will save that for another post).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Emily's Crock Pot Chili Verde

In a moment of desperation Monday morning, I thought I'd try a little experiment for dinner. Not really gourmet, but who doesn't love an easy recipe?

2-3 lbs pork tenderloin
1 15 oz. can green enchilada sauce (I like the vegetarian ones because the pork kind can have icky meat in them)
1 4 oz can diced green chiles
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 t cumin, or to taste
2 t chili powder, or to taste
salt to taste (sometimes it doesn't need any, though)

Throw all ingredients in slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours. Remove pork tenderloin and shred. Mix back in. I thickened it a bit with a can of refried beans, so the juices didn't run out of our burritos as much (and it lasts longer :) ).

This Chili Verde can be used as filling for a burrito or with Huevos Rancheros. I like it with cheese and sour cream in a burrito.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My favorite appetizers

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Honey
Giada De Laurentiis

36 slices (1/2-inch thick) baguette bread, about 1 loaf
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces Gorgonzola, sliced
3 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange the sliced baguette on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. I always get my bread too crunchy, so it’s more like a crouton than a toasted appetizer. But, once it’s golden, I feel like it’s too crispy. Any suggestions?

Arrange the cheese on the toasts and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Drizzle the toasts with honey. Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.

Cream Cheese grapes
Susan Stewart Rich

3 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 T finely chopped crystallized ginger
15-20 seedless grapes
½ c almonds, toasted and finely chopped

Blend cheese and ginger with an electric mixer. Stir grapes into cheese. Roll grapes in almonds. Place grapes on waxed paper-lined plate and chill until firm.
Since not all of us are/were in the Boston Gourmet Group, I thought I’d include this one from Susan. I make it whenever I want to impress.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

hors d'oeuvres help

Could some of you share some favorite appetizer ideas? I'm tired of mine and I need to host my book club next week.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Basil Chicken Hash

Barefoot Contessa

This recipe takes some time and planning, but everyone in my family loves it (even Asher who hates bell peppers).

2 whole (4 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
16 basil leaves
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 red onions, chopped
2 red bell peppers, sliced in 1/2 lengthways, and cut in strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Sour cream, Cheddar and sliced lemons, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving 1 side attached. Place 4 basil leaves under the skin of each chicken breast. Pull the skin over as much of the meat as possible so the chicken won't dry out. With your hands, rub each piece with olive oil and sprinkle very generously with salt and pepper. Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned and the chicken is just cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into large dice and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 200 degrees F.
The last time I made this, I didn’t have skin and bone on chicken breasts, so I baked my boneless, skinless chicken breasts prepared the same way as above but without the basil. Then, I chopped the basil and added it in at the very end. I think it's just as good.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes, and drain. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, dice them into 1/4-inch cubes.

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan, over medium-low heat. Working in batches, add the potatoes in a single layer and fry them for 5 to 7 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through. Place the cooked potatoes on a baking sheet, and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the next batch.

In a separate saute pan, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until caramelized. Add the red peppers and saute on high heat for 2 minutes, until the edges of the peppers are seared.
I start sautéing the onions while the potatoes cooks, so they’re on the back burner for more like 30 minutes to make the onions really sweet.

Lower the heat, add the garlic, thyme, paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the tomato paste. Add the chicken cubes to the onion/pepper mixture, and heat through. Add the potatoes, and place on a serving platter. Drizzle some sour cream over the hash, and serve with grated Cheddar and lemon wedges.
I’ve never added the sour cream, cheddar or lemon. I think it’s delicious as is.