Sunday, December 4, 2016

Palmiers, French Puff Pastry Hearts

Palmiers On A Plate
If you are short on time and need an impressive dessert; these French Palmiers are for you. A palmier is a French pastry that is shaped like a palm leaf or butterfly. It is flaky and crispy with a caramelized sugar exterior. In this recipe puff pastry is the star. Once defrosted it is rolled out on a bed of powdered sugar, then dusted with white and brown sugar, crushed walnuts , cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. The two ends are loosely rolled up until they meet together in the middle, sliced and then baked. It’s that easy…..Any of your favorite combinations of sugars, nuts, chocolates, and fruit jams can be used. Next time I will try a shaved chocolate, nut and raspberry jam combination.

Sliced Palmiers ready to go into the oven
A savory version would be wonderful as well. The tighter you roll the pastry the smaller your Palmier will be. Delicious dunked in tea or coffee. We all need a few quick and easy dessert recipes up our sleeves, you never know when you will have that impromptu visit.

**Tip** Puff pastry is a home cooks secret weapon. For convenience sakes I try and keep a box or two in my freezer at all times.

This recipe had been slightly adapted from Budget Bytes.com.

yield: Approx 20print recipe

Palmiers, French Puff Pastry Hearts

prep time: 20 MINScook time: total time: 20 mins
Palmiers are flaky and crispy with a caramelized sugar exterior. Quick and easy to prepare, guaranteed to impress.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed( I used Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, (place in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°, Line baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silpat.
  2. Unfold puff pastry and place on top of the powdered sugar and smooth roll out pastry. With a rolling pin gently roll to a 13 x 13 inch square. Generously sprinkle the top with the brown and white sugars and walnuts. Drizzle with honey. Press mixture lightly into pastry with rolling pin. Roll the sides of the square towards each other until they meet in the middle. The tighter you roll the pastry the smaller your Palmier will be. The looser you roll the larger.
  3. Cut dough into 3/8 slices, set on baking sheet, cover pan in cling wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until crisp and golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes, turning halfway. Allow palmiers to rest on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chestnut Mushroom Soup

Chestnut Mushroom Soup
Some of my best memories have to do with the weeks leading up to Christmas. These are cherished times spent with family and friends; and food is always front and center. It is these simple but extraordinary moments that we will keep in our hearts forever.

Chestnut Mushroom soup is elegant and delicious enough for these special times. In this recipe; cremini and shiitake mushrooms are paired with chestnuts that I purchased from Trader Joe’s that were already cooked and peeled. Everything was simmered together with the typical mirepoix and fresh thyme, and then pureed at the end. My husband remarked that while he enjoys my other creamy concoctions, this one was one of the best. Quite a compliment coming from him. Hope you give this soup a try. Happy Holidays!

Fun fact***Did you know that chestnuts are low in fat and have no cholesterol? Also they are the only nut with a serious amount of vitamin C. They also have a sweet, delicate, earthy like flavor which would make them taste wonderful in sweets too.

Chopped chestnuts, mushrooms, garlic and thyme
This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine.com. Chef Michael Tusk. 

yield: 4 to 6print recipe

Chestnut Mushroom Soup

prep time: 20 MINScook time: 55 MINStotal time: 75 mins
Chestnut Mushroom soup with fresh thyme is elegant and delicious; perfect for the holidays!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3.5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • ½ medium onion, chopped small
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 packs peeled and cooked chestnuts (Trader Joe’s)(chopped)
  • 8 sprigs thyme, tied into a bouquet (bakers string) plus a little extra for garnish
  • 1 ½ quarts chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper as you go

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Set aside 2 cremini and 2 shiitake mushrooms, (they will be your garnish later).
  2. Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy soup pot. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. De glaze with wine, remove from pot when liquid evaporates. Set aside.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon oil, then onion, celery and carrot. Sauté until veggies are tender about 10 minutes or so. Add garlic, stir constantly for 1 minute.
  4. Add back in mushrooms, thyme, broth and chestnuts. Let simmer about 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (chestnuts will be easy to break apart). Taste, season with salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Remove from heat, and discard thyme bouquet, let sit about 10 minutes. Now add the cream.
  6. In the meantime, slice the remaining mushrooms; and in a small skillet add remaining olive oil and mushrooms. Sauté until crisp and golden brown. Set aside.
  7. Next you can puree or use an immersion blender. If you like a smooth soup use a blender or food processor. I like to use the immersion blender because it leaves the soup a little chunky.
  8. To serve; ladle soup into bowls and top with crispy mushrooms and a few fresh thyme leaves, enjoy!
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash, The Holidays Are Here!

Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash
Even though I complain about these busy days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, they are my favorite. The smells, the decorations, the music, the sappy holiday movies; everything. Also, people seem to be more caring and forgiving, if only we could be like this every day. Yesterday we went out and purchased our Christmas tree. It was fun driving home with the windows down and a tree tied to the roof of the car. A rain storm blew through last night completing the perfect day.

Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti squash is healthy and delicious. If you have never tried spaghetti squash before you are in for a real treat. First the squash is cut in half, the seeds removed and then baked upside down in an half inch of water until completely tender. The squash flesh is raked with a fork to create noodles. Next chicken tenders are rolled in an egg wash and panko topping then sautéed in olive oil. The chicken is transferred to a baking dish with marinara sauce and topped with a thin slice of mozzarella cheese, and then baked for another 10 to 15 minutes. To serve top spaghetti squash with marinara and chicken tenders, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays!


yield: 4 to 6print recipe

Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti squash

prep time: 25 MINScook time: 55 MINStotal time: 80 mins
Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti squash is a healthy twist on a classic Italian favorite. If you have never tried spaghetti squash before you are in for a real treat.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium organic spaghetti squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 jar marinara (I use about 3/4 of a jar, your preference to add more)
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, season to taste
  • 1 hand-full fresh basil, torn for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Rinse outside of squash, pat dry. Cut into half and scoop out seeds. Place cut side down into a large baking dish filled with 1/2 inch water. Bake until tender 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Rake flesh with a fork to create noodles.
  3. In the meantime, in a shallow dish beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. In another shallow dish or plate add the panko. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken and then dip the tenders on both sides with the egg mixture, then dredge both sides into the panko crumb, pressing lightly.
  4. In a large skillet on medium to medium-high heat add oil, when oil is hot add the chicken and cook on both sides until browned about 3 to 5 minutes. (Depending on size)
  5. In a large baking sheet add marinara, then top with chicken and mozzarella. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted and marinara is lightly bubbling.
  6. To serve, place spaghetti squash down first, then chicken, a sprinkling of Parmesan and basil. Enjoy!
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Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Swoodles

Thanksgiving Swoodles, Sweet Potato Noodles
Thanksgiving is just days away. If you are looking for a holiday dish with a healthy twist? Look no further, I have one for you. In this recipe the sweet potatoes are first spiralized, then the “swoodles” are lightly roasted with olive oil and fresh sage. When removed from the oven the potatoes are lightly drizzled with maple syrup, and garnished with roasted pecans, crumbled goat cheese and fresh parsley. The sharpness of the goat cheese pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the potatoes and the saltiness of the pecans.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Spiralizing Sweet Potatoes
This recipe has been slightly adapted from Doctor Oz.com. For exact recipe, click on the link.



yield: 7 to 8print recipe

Thanksgiving Swoodles

prep time: 25 MINScook time: 25 MINStotal time: 50 mins
Here is a delicious and healthy spin on a classic Thanksgiving staple. Sweet potato noodles sweetened with maple syrup and topped with goat cheese and pecans.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and spiralized
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup, depends on your preference
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup goat cheese crumbled, I used 1/2 cup
  • 2/3 cup roasted and salted pecans, I used 1/2 cup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parlsey, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Gently toss spiralized sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and sage. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. (baking sheet will be very full) This method will help steam the potatoes.
  3. Roast for approx. 12 to 15 minutes. Remove foil, stir noodles around. Then roast for another 10 to 15 minutes. (I did not roast as long as original recipe)
  4. Remove baking sheet from oven and transfer swoodles to serving platter, Drizzle with maple syrup and then then sprinkle with goat cheese, pecans, and parsley leaves. Enjoy!
  5. *Note****Be gentle with noodles as they can break apart fairly easy when transferring to serving plate.
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto and Pine Nuts

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto and Pine Nuts
Deciding which Thanksgiving sides to serve with the turkey each year can be a bit challenging. What makes this decision so tough for many of us is that we want to serve recipes that are somewhat traditional, but at the same time healthy and delicious. Oven space is also a big part of the consideration. This is where a slow cooker and the stove top come into play.

Brussels sprouts on the stalk
For one of my side dishes this year I decided to prepare Brussels sprouts. One of the benefits of this dish is that it can prepared on the stove top, leaving the busy oven to its own devices. Some of the prep could be done beforehand, like shredding the little sprouts, leaving me with about 10 to 12 minutes actual cook time, a winner on this very busy day in my book.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto and Pine Nuts
Brussels sprouts are one of those versatile veggies that can dress up a holiday meal. They can be roasted, fried, shredded and sautéed. High heat is what serves them best. Once caramelized you can taste their sweet earthiness. Pair them with prosciutto and pine nuts and you have a very special side dish.

yield: 6 to 8print recipe

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto and Pine Nuts

prep time: 15 MINScook time: 10 MINStotal time: 25 mins
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Make your holiday meal special with sautéed Brussels sprouts, crispy prosciutto bits and pine nuts.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 to 5 slices of prosciutto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful pine nuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large skillet cook prosciutto slices until crispy on both sides, remove from heat and set aside. When cool cut into ribbons.
  2. Add olive oil and sauté Brussels sprouts, on medium-high heat for about 4-6 minutes until crisp tender. Add 1/4 cup water and cook until evaporated another 2 minutes or so. Add garlic and stir continuously for 1 minute.
  3. Stir-in prosciutto and sprinkle in pine nuts, ready to serve.
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Ciabatta and Sausage Dressing

Ciabatta and Sausage Stuffing
In my family the celebration of Thanksgiving has always been centered around family, friends and a table full of food. Growing up it was a time when my grandmother (Mimi) made her famous apple and pumpkin pies. Her pie crust was legendary and the left over bits and pieces would be baked separately with a little sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon. There would be a turkey, a ham and my grandmothers goulash. Mimi always made the best dressing too and it was always baked in a separate dish on the side. There was a large table for the adults and a couple of card tables for us kids. We were a loud and boisterous group.

I still yearn for the recipes of my childhood. Mimi never wrote a recipe down, and when asked it was; “always just a little of this and a little of that”, nothing was ever measured. In that spirit every year I fixate on a certain dish. This year it is the dressing, it’s the one dish that I make that is never quite right. Too soggy, too much bread, too spicy, not enough herbs, you get the picture. Which leads me to this recipe……

The recipe I used is straight forward and simple, the way Mimi cooked and baked, right from the heart. This rustic dressing is from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, CA. It is this holiday and restaurant that Mr. Keller and his staff volunteer and serve a Thanksgiving feast to the local veterans and their families. Crusty ciabatta bread holds up wonderfully with the fresh herbs, the trinity of onions, carrots and celery and the sweet sausage.

Some years ago I realized that there is no such thing as a perfect meal. What I perceived as a child was what I saw and felt being around a close knit family that loved being together. It is this tradition that will keep our family happy and optimistic in this year, this holiday. Take care!


yield: 6 to 8print recipe

Ciabatta and Sausage Stuffing

prep time: 25 MINScook time: 30 MINStotal time: 55 mins
Crusty ciabatta bread holds up wonderfully with fresh herbs, the trinity of onions, carrots and celery and the sweet sausage to make a rustic holiday dressing.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 pound of sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch coins
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 small onion, diced about 1/4 pieces
  • 2 cups turkey broth
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 12 ounce-loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook sausage, breaking up meat into pieces with a large wooden spoon, until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer sausage into a large bowl, set aside.
  3. Add remaining butter to skillet and sauté carrots, celery and onions until tender about 5 to 8 minutes, transfer to sausage bowl. Add stock, oil, parsley, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper. Stir together. Now add bread, toss to combine.
  4. Spread mixture into a 9" by 13" baking dish. Bake until golden brown about 30 to 35 minutes.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

French Country Cooking, A Cookbook and Comté, Ham and Walnut Feuilleté

French Country Cooking, A Cookbook
France has always seemed magical to me. The Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral towers and the Louvre Museum are all popular attractions. I can imagine myself sitting in an outdoor café sipping a latte and nibbling on a freshly made croissant or enjoying a simple herb omelet with a glass of white wine for dinner. Everyone around me would have a lovely accent and the streets would be full of tourist. The architecture of the buildings are beautiful and ornate and you can see remnants of history everywhere. A truly romantic place that I have always wanted to explore.

French Country Cooking” a cookbook by Mimi Thorisson is a beautiful collection of French classic and “grandma style” recipes. The cover is gorgeous; front and back, there is a ribbon page marker and the photography is spot on. There is a generosity to her writing and her stories are very compelling. Mimi’s story began with the purchase a 100 year old home with an exciting history. The building first started out as a wine making chateau, then became a hotel and restaurant and now a home. After some renovations they opened a month long summer pop-up restaurant. Mimi also writes a popular blog, Manger where she writes about her life and shares recipes from the Médoc region of France.

Comté, Ham and Walnut Feuilleté
The first recipe I prepared was the Comté, Ham and Walnut Feuilleté. Feuilleté is a puff pastry with a sweet or savory filling. In this case the filling was a simple béchamel, with pan-fried shallots, walnuts, ham and cheese. The pastry was brushed lightly with 2 kinds of mustard and the ingredients are layered and then baked. This is a classic French  combination that looks quite impressive and taste wonderful. I had this recipe prepped and ready to go in the oven in about 20 minutes which goes to show that not all French cooking is difficult, in fact quite the opposite. The recipes in this cookbook, “French Country Cooking” are for all levels of cooks and would make an excellent gift.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."