Friday, March 14, 2014

Easter Table 2014

Easter Table
I know Easter is not until April 20th
but
I started putting together my Easter table

We do not eat at this table, 
so I am able to decorate it for the season! 

So far it's looking pretty cute

I love the "tutu" bunny
I got her at Pier One
along with the 
cute bunny/carrot salt shaker
 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rachael Ray's Chicken & Green Bean Casserole

Chicken and Green Bean Casserole with Fried Shallots



Chicken and Green Bean Casserole without topping



 Last year at Thanksgiving,
 I attempted to make 
Green Bean Casserole 
from scratch 
I made several mistakes:
  1. Attempting to try a new recipe on Thanksgiving Day
  2. Not allowing enough time to cook it  i.e. getting stressed, too many people in the kitchen ( need I say more? )
  3. Using way more fresh green beans than I had sauce for - result, a very crunchy and dry casserole.  
It did not make a very good impression
 

Needless to say,  I knew I needed to try it again before our next Thanksgiving as I really like the idea of using fresh green beans and making my own creamy mushroom sauce.
  
I turned on the Food Network last weekend, and Rachael Ray was preparing this dish.   This is a perfect dish to prepare now since it has chicken in it; it's like a full meal.  

This is really amazing.  First of all, it has Boursin Cheese.  One of my favorites. 

Since I was doing it all from scratch, I even made my own onion rings.  If you have the time, it's so worth it... as Rach would say "YUM-O!"  

This is definitely my "go to" Green Bean Casserole recipe (without the chicken) for Thanksgiving!
 
 
Chicken and Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed & cut into thirds
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 TBSPs butter
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Pepper
  • 2 TBSPs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 TBSPs flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock or poaching liquid (if you poach your chicken)
  • 1 cup cream or half-and-half
  • 1 wheel Boursin or other garlic and herb cheese (5.4 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 lbs cooked, pulled chicken either poaches or store bough rotisserie
  • For Fried Onions (store bought are fine as well to save time)
    • Frying oil
    • 1 small to med onion, very thinly sliced ( I used 3-4 shallots)
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1 cup flour aggressively seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika
Directions
  •  Bring a few inches of water to a low boil in a skillet.  Add salt and the green beans.  Cook 3-4 minutes until tender-crisp; drain
  • Heat the EVOO & butter in a large, deep skillet over medium to medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms & lightly brown them, 7-8 minutes.  Add the shallots & garlic, season with salt, pepper & thyme.  Stir for 2-3 minutes more; add the flour, stir in for a minute, then add the wine. 
  • Stir in the stock and thicken. Add the boursin cheese, green beans and chicken & thicken a bit
  • Transfer into a casserole dish.  Bake at 375 degrees until bubbly about 45-60 minutes.  Top with the homemade or store-bought fried onions.
  • For homemade fried onions:
    • heat frying oil to 365 degrees F in a countertop fryer or
    • 2-3 inches of oil in a deep, medium pot over medium to medium hight heat
    • Separate the onions into rings and soak in the buttermilk
    • Toss a few rings at a time into the flour & fry until crips
    • Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining onions.

NOTE: I fried the shallots first before preparing the casserole.   Also, I think next time I will use half-and-half instead of cream.  The Boursin cheese is pretty rich.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Temptress - Stout Beer Chili

Lakewood Brewing Co Temptress Chili

Chili Pot
Bowl of Temptress Stout Chili



This chili recipe is adapted from my dad's chili recipe
About 3 years ago, I had him show me how he made his chili
Back then I used whatever beer was in the house (miller lite)
I think I even used bud light lime once 

Over time, I've tweaked it into something of my own
He hasn't tried it yet, but I think this is the recipe to share with him 

Now.. here in Texas.. a good chili recipe is GOLDEN
Not many are likely to share if you're competitive
But the whole purpose of this blog is for me to share my recipes with the masses
So I can't possibly keep this to myself
So, if you make it and you like it and you enter it into a chili cook-off
and you win.. 
just cut me in! (JK)

Sandi & Pat's Stout Beer Chili
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 lb stew meat
  • 1 1/2 lb ground chuck
  • 2 white onions, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (optional - I just think it looks pretty)
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 3-4 jalapeno peppers, whole
  • 1 1/2 - 2 bottles of Imperial Stout (I used Lakewood Brewing co. Temptress)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder (I use gerbhardt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup  masa harina (corn flour, found in the mexican food section)
DIRECTIONS
  • Dice the stew meat into smaller, bite size pieces (remove any fat) - Salt and pepper the meat
  • In a large pot, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium high heat, brown the stew meat; once browned; remove from pan and set to the side
  • Turn the heat down to medium, place the ground chuck (salt/pepper) and diced onions in the pot; once the meat is browned, drain the excess fat.
  • Return the stew meat to the pot; add all the green, red and poblano chopped peppers.  
  • Now, depending on how hot you like  your chili, add the number of jalapenos (whole not chopped).  You'll be tasting it alot, so if it gets too hot, just remove them.
  • Add the beer.... now the beer I used is very strong- but I used it all.  It tastes really strong at first, but I promise as it cooks, the flavor of the beer gets better
  • Add the seasonings - chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and cayenne pepper)
  • Stir together well, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer on low for a hour and a half to 2 hours; stirring and tasting about every 15 minutes or so. You want the stew meat to be tender before serving. Also, you might want to remove the jalapenos if it's too spicy, or you may want to add.   If the chili becomes dry, add more beer (or you can add water)
  • About 15 minutes before serving, in a small bowl, mix the masa harina with 1/2 cup of water.  Stir together with a fork.  Dump the masa into the chili.  Stir it in.  Taste and add additional seasoning if needed.  You can also add more masa if you want it thicker or to add more corn flavor.   Let it simmer another 15 minutes... then serve.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Italian Drunken Noodles

As with most of the recipes I post lately, I found this one on Pinterest
I used to clip recipes out of magazines, now I just go see if it's online
if so, I pin it to my recipe board

Pinterest ROCKS...

This latest recipe originated from the cozy apron blog

What caught my eye on this recipe was the pappardelle pasta
I've been wanting to cook with them for a long time
Just had not really found a recipe

Besides,  I use italian sausage in all my italian dishes that call for meat
Also, I love the brightness of onions, red, orange & yellow bell peppers
Finally, who doesn't love cooking with wine?


Pappardelle Pasta


Drunken Noodles with Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onions
Drunken Noodles
(recipe from the cozy kitchen)

INGREDIENTS
  • 8 ounces Pappardelle noodles, uncooked
  • olive oil
  • 4 spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed (I had mild italian sausage that I seasoned with cayenne pepper)
  • 1 1/2 teasp salt
  • 1 teasp italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teasp cracked black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press, or minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine (preferably dry, like chardonnay)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tablesp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided use
DIRECTIONS
  • Place a large, heavy bottom pan or braising pot over medium-high heat
  • Add 2 tablesp olive oil, once the oil is hot, crumble the italian sausage into the pan in small chunks (you want to keep the sausage fairly chunky); allow it to brown in the oil for a few moments on each side; once it's browned, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon, place into a small bowl
  • Add the sliced onion to the pan with the sausage drippings; allow it to carmelize & become golden for roughly 5 minutes or so, stirring to keep it from burning (add a touch more olive oil if necessary)
  • Add the salt, italian seasoning, & cracked black pepper - stir to combine
  • Add in the bell peppers & allow those to saute with the onion about 2 minutes until slightly tender and golden
  • Add the garlic, once its aromatic (just takes less than a minute), add the white wine and allow to reduce for a couple minutes until almost completely reduced
  • Add in the diced tomatoes in their juice
  • Return the italian sausage to the pan
  • Gently fold to combine all ingredients
  • Allow to simmer for about 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors, then turn the heat off
  • To finish the sauce, drizzle in about 2-3 good tablesp of olive oil to create a silky reach flavor
  • Add in the chopped parsley and half of the basil, stir
  • keep warm while preparing the noodles
  • Prepare the noodles according to the package instructions (I actually did this step after I browned the sausage)
  • Drain the noodles very well, add them directly into the sauce, using tongs to gently toss and combine them with the sauce; check seasoning for salt or pepper
  • To server, add equal portions of the "drunken" noodles to bowls, garnish with remaining basil.   You can even top off with shaved parmesan, if desired
  • Add an extra drizzle of olive oil 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Zabars - Kate Spade Tote Bag


Kate Spade Tote Bag

Last month, I was reading this article
about Zabar's

I've only been to New York once
back in 1998 for one evening

So, I've never been to Zabar's
but I know it's a place I want to go to when I do 
visit New York someday

So, of course, I simply had to order this 

The bagels are amazing.  I ate one the next day, then put the rest in the freezer.
I still have one left.

I took the Chocolate Babka to a winery with a friend.
It was lovely with red wine and conversation
 
I am not a coffee drinker, but my son loves it

My 11 year old niece and I shared the NY cookie - so awesome!

The tote is too cute for school...
I love carrying a piece of New York with me to the market

This was so fun that I ordered one for my bestie in North Carolina!!!  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Using Chalkboard Labels

A while back I shared with you my

I decided to take the "suga" shaker theme
&
continue it throughout my kitchen



Chalkboard Labels from World Market


I've seen on the cooking shows how everyone has clever bottles to store their oils.

I'm sure it to hide the product name but still it's cute none the less

I bought the veg oil and olive oil bottles
at Target in the bath section for 12.99

The labels were like at World Market for 3.99
I just use a gold marker that I got to write on wine glasses

The vanilla bottle was bought at Ross for 1.99
I made my own vanilla about 2 years ago

I've been doing so every since! 

I've started using these labels on all containers in my kitchen
(flour, suga, dawg biskits, etc)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Test Kitchen - Cooking with Local Dallas Beers

Woke up Sunday morning with that slight chill in the air that represents Fall
I've been over the heat and humidity now since August
So much so that I put out my Halloween decorations Labor Day weekend
in hopes of nudging that cool air along

That chill in the air makes me want to cook soups, stews and chili's
I hesitated thinking that maybe it's not quite that cool yet
but remember we're doing all we can to nudge that cool air in 

Beer Chili sounded really good to me!

craft beers and local breweries are all the rage right now

(All who know me  KNOW I'm more of a wine girl with little interest in the better beers)
  
Lately, I've gotten adventurous and starting trying out different beers
(other than miller lite or michelob ultra)

My new favorite is Blood and Honey by Revolver.

Temptress Beer Chili - Punkel Pumpkin Cake - Blood & Honey Jalapeno Cheese Muffins

So, I actually did a little research

I knew I wanted to make
chili, jalapeno muffins and a pumpkin cake

I needed to determine what type of beers would go best in each
and then...
find the local beer that would be perfect

One of my favorite sites right now is

She not only provides the "411" on all things beer
but uses beer in very interesting ways in recipes

I learned quickly that I've been using the wrong beer in my chili
miller lite just won't do

It's needs to be STOUT
Boy, is the Lakewood Brewing Co's Temptress
the BEST beer for chili

I made the chili from scratch. I will provide the recipe in a post later in the week

I love jalapeno corn bread with cheese

I was at Sissy's Southern Kitchen for dinner a couple of weeks ago
The jalapeno cornbread muffins were amazing
They were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside

I tried my own version using Revolver's Blood & Honey
I admit that I cheated and used a box mix
I cooked them in melted butter so they were crunchy and fluffy like Sissy's
but
 they came out very sweet
next time I will make them from scratch
I have all Fall/Winter to perfect them



Blood & Honey Jalapeno Cheese Muffins

The pumpkin cake is also from a box
Pillsbury  has been making seasonal cake mixes lately

I cannot help it, I see something new in the store, I have to try it once

This is a perfect test kitchen tool
I wasn't sure which pumpkin ale I was going to try
Decided to go with Lakewood Brewing Co's Punkel
as I already had them on my list for the chili

I substituted the 1 cup of water with the beer
I also tried something I had read on The Beeroness site
cooking the beer down to an extract

I poured the rest of the bottle of Punkel into a pan
I let it boil down into a syrup

I mixed 2 cups powdered sugar to about 1/2 cup of milk
then added the beer extract
I'm not going to lie
It was VERY strong.. but the sweetness of the icing calmed it down



Punkel Pumpkin Cake


Monday, September 9, 2013

DIY - Canvas Art Part 2

I have 2 nieces! 

One turned 9 back in July 
She came to stay with me
&
 we had fun with paint
(This is all inspired by Pinterest

Well, my other niece is turning 11 next week
so she came to stay with me this weekend

We went to Hobby Lobby
She picked out the size canvas she liked
(I love the 2 pack)


Abby's Musical Painting

Abby's Stained Glass

Aunt Sandi's "breathe" with pearls

Aunt Sandi's "ode to Kate Spade"

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fresh Flowers


I love fresh flowers! When I was young, I thought girls only got flowers from boys! 
Then, as I got older, flowers were something you received on special occasions. ( birthdays, anniversaries, Valentines Day, childbirth, etc)

One day, I just decided that I am not going to wait to receive flowers! I am going to buy my own! It was very liberating for some reason! 

Back in the late 90's, I started buying gladiolas for my breakfast room table. They were so tall and dramatic. 

 Now, I just buy these sweet simple flowers. I got these at Whole Foods. I usually just pick up whatever catches my eye, is seasonal, and fits my budget at the time. Sometimes just some simple white roses or hydrangeas.  I picked these as they remind me of the last days of summer!



I just place them in little nooks around the house!
They make me smile ! 

Do you have fresh flowers in your home? 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Nachos

Fried Wonton Chips with Parmesan Cheese

Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Nacho
Terelli's is one of my favorite restaurants
here in Dallas

They have these amazing

They make homemade pizza chips
&
you get to choose your own toppings

I've been dying to make these at home
but I did not want to try to make
my own homemade pizza chips

 I decided to try wonton wrappers
I tried baking them first, but it just was not crunchy enough

I do not like to fry food, but
I really wanted a "chip" for my italian nachos
Once I fried them in canola oil,
I think the angels started singing
These are delicious

There isn't really a fancy recipe for this
Just buy a package of wonton wrappers
(usually in the produce section of most grocery stores by the tofu)

Fill the bottom of a skillet with canola oil, heat on medium high
Cut the wonton wrappers into triangles
Once the oil is hot, place them in the skillet 
(do not overcrowd)
Cook until just slightly golden and crispy
Drain them on a paper towel
Sprinkle with grated fresh Parmesan Cheese
(taste if you want)

Then add the toppings of your choice:
(pepperoni, prociutto, pancetta, bacon, meatball, salami, shrimp, anchovies, artichokes, roasted garlic, capers, sundried tomatoes, onions, mushrooms,spinach, jalapenos, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, ricotta, feta, goat cheese, basil, parsley, pine nuts, etc)

Broil for about 2-3 minutes - watch closely
You just want the cheese you choose to melt!

Next time, I'm going to add proscuitto and roasted garlic

What are your favorite italian toppings?