"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekly Menu Dec. 15th - Dec. 21st

Seared Shrimp served on a bed of Manchego Cheese Grits
Baby Greens Salad with a Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

"Make your own Pizza Night"
Chopped Salad with a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette

Lamb Ragu with Charred Onions and Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Shallots

Pan-seared Salmon with Herb Butter and Green Lentils
Asparagus with Sweet Red Peppers

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Shredded Radicchio and Kale Slaw, Sesame Vinaigrette

Chinese Vegetable Stir-Fry
Brown Rice with Green Onions

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Braised Wild Mushrooms and Red Wine Demi
Fingerling Potatoes with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Rosemary
Wedge Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Weekly Menu, Dec. 8th - Dec. 14th

Dinner at the Fosters'; Jamie's Birthday celebration! (She's 29, again)

Braised Lamb Shank Ragu
Manchego Cheese Grits
Roasted Root Vegetables

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas
Chopped Salad with Cumin-lime Vinaigrette

Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Mushroom Bolognese
Romaine Salad with a Creamy Garlic Dressing

Elizabeth's Holiday Performance, Dinner out

Seared Salmon on a Bed of Greens with Bacon and Red Onions
Kiawah Island Dressing

Steak and Martini Night

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Apple Blossom Cake

This is one of those wonderful recipes that takes me back to my childhood.  It's a fabulous cake my Grandmother used to make when we would visit.  It would make  their whole house smell of cinnamon, apples, and warm sugar.  She'd serve it still warm with vanilla ice cream, mmmm.  The last time I had this was 30 years ago, and just recently my Uncle found the recipe and passed it to me.  Thanks Uncle Bob, and thanks Grandma!

Softened butter for greasing the pan
3 C. Flour plus extra for dusting the pan
1 1/2 C. vegetable oil
2 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp.cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 C. peeled, cored Granny Smith apples, thickly sliced
1 C. chopped walnuts
1 C. raisins
Optional: vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9" bundt or tube pan.  Beat oil and sugar together with a mixer.  After about 5 minutes, add eggs and beat until mixture is creamy.

Sift together 3 cups of flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Stir into batter.  Add vanilla extract, apples, walnuts, and raisins.  Stir until combined.  Transfer the mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan before turning out.  Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream if desired.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vegetable, Pork, and Bean Chili

Olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced 1"
1 large onion, diced 1"
1 leek, cleaned well and white part sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, diced 1"
1# ground pork
1# mixed dried beans, picked over and soaked overnight
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 can diced mild green chiles
2 Tbsp. each chili powder, paprika, and cumin
1 Tbsp. each coriander, oregano,  & black pepper
3 zucchini squash, diced 1"
2 yellow squash, diced 1"
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
1 qt. chicken stock
3Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Optional- cayenne pepper, to taste 
Garnish- thinly sliced green onion, crumbed queso fresco (or shredded cheddar)

In a large stock pot heat 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering.  Add eggplant, sprinkle with a little salt and cook, stirring often for 15 minutes until eggplant is very soft.  Add onions, leeks, green pepper, and carrots and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic, stir and cook for an minute.
Add pork and all spices; with a wooden spoon stir as the meat browns, about 5-7 minutes.  Add tomato paste, stir, lower heat and cook for another 5-7 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and green chiles.  Add stock, stir and bring to a boil.  Immediately, reduce heat and cover.  Cook until beans are tender, about 45-50 minutes.  While stirring, slowly add flour to thicken chili, continue to cook for 10 minutes.  Add parsley, stir and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Spoon chili into bowls and top with sliced green onion and cheese, serve and Enjoy!

* this is much better if made a day or two in advance to let the favors marry.

Pear, Prosciutto & Ricotta Crostini

What a fantastic combination, very Italian and easy to make.  During the summer when I can get ahold of ripe peaches, I substitute for the pears.

Good extra-virgin olive oil
12 slices ciabatta bread
1 ripe Anjou pear, thinly sliced
12 oz. ricotta cheese
6 slices of prosciutto, torn into pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Honey for drizzling

Drizzle each slice of ciabatta with olive oil and grill to golden brown.  Spoon about 1 oz. of ricotta onto each slice of toast.  Sprinkle with pepper and drape a few slices over the ricotta on each.  Drizzle each with honey and top with 2 slices of pear.  Serve and Enjoy!

Lavash Pizzas with Arugula and Eggplant

 I've got to give credit to Kara Brooks of Still River  Cafe in Eastford, CT for this one.  It's great for a cocktail party of light dinner.

1 1/2# eggplant, peeled, cut into 1/2" cubes (about 3 cups)
1 tsp. sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided plus more for brushing
Freshly ground black pepper
4 8" squares soft whole wheat lavash
1 C. Small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 C. chopped green onions
1/2 C. Coarsely grated mozzarella
1/4 C. Finely grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
8 C. Arugula
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Toss eggplant with 1 tsp. salt in a mixing bowl.  Let sit between double layers of paper towels for 10 minutes.  Pat dry.  Return to bowl; toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, spread on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast in hot oven until soft and browned, about 15 minutes.

Brush oil on lavash; arrange on 2 more rimmed baking sheets.  Top with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, green onions, cheeses, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.  Toss arugula, 1 Tbsp. oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mound salad over pizzas.  Cut into serving pieces.  Enjoy!

Peas, Mint & Parmesan Crostini

This cocktail  party favorite is tremendous; it's delicious and easy to prepare.  This works with edamame or fresh favas if you prefer.

12 slices French baguette
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced in half
1 C. Frozen peas, thawed
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Garnish: shaved Parmesan cheese, torn mint leaves, and balsamic vinegar

Using half of the oil, drizzle each slice of baguette.  Grill bread and as you remove the slices from the heat rub with the cut side of the garlic clove.  Reserve.

Combine in a large bowl the peas and 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Mash with the back of a fork.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread about 1 Tbsp. of mixture on each toast.  Garnish with shaved Parmesan, torn mint leaf, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.  Serve and Enjoy!

Smoked Trout, Sour Cream, & Pickled Onion Crostini

This crostini is dynamite and works just as well with any smoked fish.  Easy to put together for that impromptu party and a crowd pleaser.

1/4 C. thinly sliced red onions
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 C. hot water
12 slices pumpernickel
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C. sour cream or creme fraiche
12 oz. smoked trout

Garnish: Dill sprigs

In a bowl combine onions, vinegar, sugar, salt, and hot water.  Let onions pickle for 30 minutes.  

Drizzle bread with oil and grill to golden brown.  Remove and cut each slice into quarters, reserve.  In a separate bowl, combine zest, cracked pepper, and sour cream.  Spoon cream mixture onto toasts.  Top each with about 1 oz. of fish and a few slices of the drained pickled onions.  Garnish with dill and Enjoy!

Crab, Chile & Mint Crostini

The Holidays are right around the corner and this time of year is prime time entertainment season.  With cocktail parties, Holiday parties and people just popping by, a couple of go to crostinis are a must to have in the arsenal.  This one is fantastic and couldn't be easier to put together.

12 slices sourdough bread
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8oz. jumbo lump crabmeat
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. finely chopped mint
1 stemmed, seeded jalapeño, minced
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Garnish- chiffonade (very thinly sliced) fresh mint leaves

Drizzle bread with oil and toast over hot grill.  cut each slice into quarters and reserve.

In a bowl gentle combine crabmeat, mayo, lime juice, mint, and jalapeño.  Be careful not to break up the crabmeat too much.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon about 1 Tbsp. of crab mixture onto each toast and garnish with chiffonade of mint.  Serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Standing Rack of Pork in a Goat Cheese and Dijon Crust

So, one of my golf buddies told me for his birthday he was preparing a standing rack of pork.  He wanted to know if I had any recipes or techniques to share.  It got me thinking and I remembered a preparation I did while working in California.  The below recipe was done using a rack of lamb and is scrumptious.  I figure what's good for the lamb, is good for the pig!

1 rack of pork
olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. parsley, minced
1tsp. fresh thyme, minced
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
8oz. Mild goat cheese at room temperature (use a French cheese, not middle eastern varieties as they are too strong in flavor)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  

In a small bowl combine the mustard, shallot, garlic, thyme, and parsley.  In another large bowl put the breadcrumbs.  

Season the pork with salt and pepper, over a very hot grill (or skillet) sear all sides brown.  Remove from heat and spread mustard mixture over pork, not the bones.  On the meat side of the rack spread the goat cheese.  Holding the rack by the bones dip into the bread crumbs and gently press crumbs onto all sides of the pork.  Wrap bones with aluminum foil (prevents burning), then place rack on a greased (Pam works best) sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and place into hot oven.  Cook until pork is 155 degrees internal (20-25 minutes per pound).  Remove and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.  Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Dec. 1st - Dec. 7th

Dinner out at Bistro 222 in Dearborn, MI

Standing Rack of Pork in a Goat Cheese and Dijon Crust
Green Beans with Pearl Onions and Wild Mushrooms
Oven Roast Potatoes with Thyme and Sea Salt

Fish Tacos with Fresh Pico de Gallo
Mexican Rice and Beans

Turkey Meatloaf
Brown Rice with Vegetables
Steamed Broccoli

Vegetable, Pork, and Bean Chili

Smorgasbord Night

Kona Ribeye Steaks
Sautéed Onions with Balsamic Glaze
Sweet Potato Frites with Aioli Mayo
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta