Category Archives: Side Dish

Chicken with Pancetta and Olives


(Do you like the water bottles in the background? They’re waiting to be recycled. I get the best light next to my sink, lol.)

This was THE BEST chicken I have ever made, at least as far as bone-in, skin-in, roast chicken is concerned. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe (except for only making 1/2), so I will just direct you to the original recipe here: Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives, from Gourmet Jan 09 issue. There are some much better photos there as well. We were so hungry by the time I was ready to take pictures that I must admit I just took a few quick snap shots! We ate some of the chicken and removed the rest of it from the bones to reserve for other uses this weekend.

With it, I served the suggested Polenta with Franklin’s Teleme, again from Gourmet Jan 09. We used the recommended tip of subbing a combination of mascarpone and parmesan, since our local grocery store does not carry Franklin’s Teleme. I thought I didn’t like polenta, but apparently I was wrong. Definitely not the healthiest recipe, but SO GOOD!

I also served some steamed broccoli. I highly recommend this recipe!



A 51 minute meal.


Today I decided to try something new: I wanted to see how fast I could make an interesting, somewhat balanced dinner. Tonight my husband had rehearsal until 5:00, I was teaching lessons at home until 5:00, and we were both going to have to leave for a board meeting by 6:45. Although I know that’s plenty of time to whip up something for dinner (and eat it), on days like this I typically resort to a frozen pizza or even just snacking and then stopping for a bite to eat on the way home from the meeting (at about 9:00 pm).

Today’s solution: bite the bullet and just COOK. I figured if I didn’t finish in time it wouldn’t be the end of the world. As you can see, I started at 4:43. When I say I “started,” I mean I hadn’t done anything yet. This time includes preheating the oven, prepping all the veggies, etc., and also plating the food and setting the table! I really loved the combination of flavors. They reminded me of summer! I think it was the mint and lime.


Spice-Rubbed Turkey Cutlets with Roasted Carrots and Minted Couscous
(adapted from Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2009); I made it to serve 2 *Note: original recipe calls for roasting turkey breasts with the carrots, but I wanted to speed up the process. I used cutlets instead.


  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into 2 inch lengths
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound turkey breast cutlets (very thinly sliced)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinammon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice


  • Preheat oven to 350. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss carrots, garlic, and 1-2 teaspoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast 35 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Sprinkle turkey cutlets with cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray and heat to medium. Cook turkey cutlets until cooked through, a few minutes on each side.
  • In a small bowl, mix yogurt, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin; season with salt and pepper. Serve on the side.

Minted Couscous¬†(again, from Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2009. This recipe is listed “as is.” It serves 4. I halved it to make 2 servings.


  • 1 cup couscous
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, torn (*I did not use the full amount because I was afraid the mint would overpower. It turned out to be much better than I thought it would be! I’m glad I took a chance. I would add the full amount next time.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


  • In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in couscous; season with salt and pepper. Cover and, off heat, let steam in the pan, 5 minutes.
  • Add scallions, mint, oil, and lime juice; fluff couscous with a fork.


Granted, our board meeting was canceled because of bad weather, but I decided to use the opportunity to see if I really could make an interesting, healthy dinner on a busy weeknight. Added bonus: more time to update the blog. ūüôā



Happy New Year! First I would like to thank our family and friends who came over for New Year’s Eve dinner. We’re so glad you were able to join us! We couldn’t have asked for a better evening…hopefully you all had a great time too. ūüôā

I posted my menu a few days ago, but now I’m able to give you some more details and photos! We’ll start with a photo of our table. Linens are from Christmas Tree Hill (LOVE them). Napkin folding is courtesy of my ever-so-talented husband!

We started the evening with a cocktail, served with the cocktail nuts in my last blog post: Apricot Fizz


3 tablespoons chilled apricot nectar or peach papaya mango juice *I used apricot nectar
1/2 cup chilled Prosecco
lime slices for garnish


Pour the apricot nectar in a champagne flute and top with Prosecco. Garnish with lime slices if desired.


The first course was Fallen Goat Cheese Souffles on Wilted Spinach (courtesy of Emeril via Food Network website)


  • 3 tablespoons plus 5 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups¬†milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 ounces goat¬†cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon¬†salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large egg whites
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  • Wilted Spinach, recipe follows
  • Directions

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter 6 (3/4 cup/6-ounce) ramekins with 4 teaspoons of the butter. Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and use to dust the bottoms and sides of each ramekin. Set inside a roasting pan large enough to hold the cups without touching. Lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon of the butter and set aside.

    In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens slightly and forms a light roux, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk, and bring to a boil. Simmer, whisking, until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the cheese, tarragon, salt, and pepper, and stir to incorporate.

    In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks just form. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the yolks in 3 additions. Divide among the prepared custard cups and fill the roasting pan with warm water to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake without opening the oven door until slightly puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Let rest uncovered for 30 minutes. Run a thin, sharp knife around the edges of the ramekins to release the souffles. (Note: souffles can be covered at this point in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.) *I refrigerated for a few hours. It worked very well!

    Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Bake the souffles until puffed and heated through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven.

    Add the dried cherries and pine nuts to the spinach and stir to combine. Divide the wilted spinach mixture among 6 salad plates. Arrange 1 souffle on each plate and serve.
    Wilted Spinach

    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
    • 18 ounces baby spinach, tough stems removed, well rinsed and spun dry
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

    Heat butter in a wide 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until foam subsides, add garlic and balsamic vinegar and cook for 30 seconds. Then cook spinach, stirring, until just wilted but still and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

    Some photos for you of removing the souffles from the ramekins:

    Step 1: Pray ūüôā

    Step 2: Place souffle in palm of hand

    Step 3: Carefully place souffle on baking sheet for later

    These were definitely a hit! They weren’t quick and easy by any means, but they were totally worth it.


    With the first course, we served a French Sauvignon Blanc:

    Next up: main course! We served a Pork Tenderloin En Croute¬†with Pear and Parsnip Puree¬†(again, both Emeril from Food Network’s website.)

    Pork Tenderloin En Croute


    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup minced shallots
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and finely chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon¬†salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
    • 2 (1 1/2 pound)¬†pork tenderloins
    • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
    • 1 tablespoon¬†vegetable oil
    • 1 sheet prepared puff¬†pastry, thawed if frozen
    • 1/4 cup Creole mustard or any whole-grain mustard *I used Creloe
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons of water to make an egg wash
    • Haricots Verts, recipe follows *We omitted these because, frankly, I forgot to buy them!


    To make the mushroom stuffing, in a large, heavy skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are wilted and begin to caramelize, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring to deglaze the pan and until the liquid has almost all evaporated and the mixture is tight, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat. Let cool completely before using.

    Season the pork tenderloins with the Essence. *I actually sliced the tenderloin into 8 smaller pieces and decided to make individual servings.

    Heat the oil in a skillet or Dutch oven large enough to hold the tenderloins over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins and reduce the heat to medium. Sear evenly on all sides and cook, turning frequently. Remove pork from the pan and cool for 10 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease. Set aside.

    On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 12 by 18-inch rectangle. Place the pork tenderloins on 1/2 of the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Evenly coat the tenderloins on all sides with the mustard.

    Pack the cooled mushroom mixture around the pork tenderloins. Brush a 1/2-inch border of egg wash on the pastry around the meat. Gently pull the remaining pastry over the meat to completely enclose, and press gently to seal. With a small knife cut away the excess pastry to make an even border and crimp the pastry edges with a fork dipped in flour. Make a small slit in the top of the pastry for steam to vent.

    Carefully transfer the tenderloin to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the pastry evenly with egg wash. *At this point, I put them in the fridge for about an hour before baking because we weren’t quite ready for them yet.¬†Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake until golden brown and an instant read thermometer reaches 140 degrees F, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minute before serving.

    Slice the pork tenderloin and serve with the Haricots Verts.

    Essence (Emeril’s Creole¬†Seasoning)

    2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    2 tablespoons salt
    2 tablespoons garlic powder
    1 tablespoon black pepper
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
    1 tablespoon dried thyme

    Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
    Yield: about 2/3 cup

    Recipe from “New New Orleans Cooking”, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

    Haricots Verts

    1 tablespoon butter
    1 teaspoon chopped garlic
    2 small shallots, thinly sliced
    1 pound haricots vertss
    1 lemon, juiced and zested
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram

    In a saute pan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and shallots and saute until the shallots begin to soften. Add the haricot vert, lemon juice and zest and cook until crisp-tender ‚Äď about 3 minutes. Add the marjoram and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

    Pear and Parsnip Puree


    • 1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and chopped
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 tablespoon¬†light¬†brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 4 ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch piece
    • 2 tablespoons nut-flavored liqueur
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon¬†salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper


    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

    In a baking dish, combine the parsnips, 2 tablespoons of the butter, the brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the parsnips are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and uncover.

    In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the pears and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the liqueur and tilt the pan to ignite the contents. (Alternately, remove from the heat, light with a match, and return to the heat.) *Couldn’t get mine to ingite. Sigh.¬†Cook while flaming for 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.

    In a skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan, until the butter is golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Add the browned butter, baked parsnips and their cooking liquid to the food processor. Puree on high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sour cream, salt, and pepper and process until smooth. Serve immediately or cover to keep warm until ready to serve.


    These turned out very well… rave reviews from our guests. ūüôā I am fully aware that it looks a bit like a mummy head. Stop laughing. Ok, you can laugh, I’m laughing too.


    With the main course, we served a French red:

    Finally… dessert! Grand Marnier Creme Brulee with Chocolate Ginger Shards¬†(again, you guessed it: Emeril, Food Network website.)

    Gotta make a mini brulee to test it first!

    Super yummy and indulgent

    Ingredients *I quadrupled this recipe because there were 8 of us.

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/4 vanilla bean, split in 1/2 lengthwise and seeds scraped out and reserved
    • Very small pinch¬†salt
    • 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
    • 1 teaspoon orange zest
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 2 mint sprigs, for garnish
    • Chocolate-Ginger Shards, recipe follows


    Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

    In a small saucepan, combine the cream, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the vanilla bean pod and reserved seeds, and salt and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside. Remove and discard the vanilla bean pods. Stir in the Grand Marnier and orange zest.

    In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks and 2 teaspoons of the sugar and whisk until frothy and the sugar is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Divide between 2 (6-ounce) ramekins. Place in a small roasting pan or baking dish and fill with enough water to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custards are just set and still tremble slightly in the center, 35 to 40 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.

    Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the top of each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Place under the broiler and broil until sugar melts and caramelizes, 1 to 2 minutes, watching closely to avoid burning and turning the custards as they cook. (Alternatively, use a kitchen blow torch to caramelize the sugar.)

    Stick the sharp ends of the shards down into each custard, garnish with mint, and serve immediately.

    Chocolate Ginger Shards: 

    1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped

    Line a small baking sheet with foil and chill. 

    In the top of a double boiler, or in a small metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the ginger and spoon onto the center of the baking sheet. Spread with a rubber spatula into a rough rectangle and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of ginger, pressing lightly to help adhere.

    Chill until firm, about 30 minutes, then break into triangle-shaped pieces (shards).

    Yield: garnish for 2 brulees


    With dessert we served a Sauternes:

    At midnight, of course, a champagne toast! We watched the ball drop on TV, raised our glasses, and kissed a little. ūüôā


    Overall, it was the best New Year’s Eve I can remember in a long time! Happy 2009!!

    Indian night!

    I love Indian food. I hardly ever get the chance to eat it because I really don’t like any of the Indian restaurants around here… but I really do love it. I was a bit intimidated to try any recipes at home, but then some recipes appeared in the May 08 issue of Cooking Light. Yippee!

    The menu was:
    Appetizer – Indian-Spiced Roasted Nuts
    Entree – Grilled Tandoori Chicken
    Side – Green Beans and Potatoes in Chunky Tomato Sauce

    Indian-Spiced Roasted Nuts
    1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons honey
    1 teaspoon canola oil
    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
     Dash of freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup blanched almonds (I just used raw almonds because I could only find slivered blanched.)
    1/4 cup cashews
    1/4 cup hazelnuts
    (Note: I used all unsalted nuts)

    1. Preheat oven to 350¬į.
    2. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds; stir until blended. Add nuts to sugar mixture; toss to coat. (I actually had to throw the nuts plus mixture back into the microwave to get the coating melted enough to…well, coat! I guess I didn’t work fast enough.) ūüôā
    3. Spread nuts evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350¬į for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

    [Have I mentioned that I LOVE MY NEW CAMERA!??! I’m still figuring out how to use it, and I need better lighting, but holy cow it’s a lot better than my old one!]
    Grilled Tandoori Chicken
    (Serves 8 as listed here…I actually cut down by 4 to serve 2. It worked just fine!)
    2 teaspoons canola oil
    4 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
    2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
    2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided
    2 teaspoons garam masala
    1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    1 teaspoon ground red pepper
    2 cups coarsely chopped onion
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
    2¬†teaspoons¬†finely chopped seeded serrano pepper (Note: these things are HOT! Don’t get it under your nail. Ow.)
    8 garlic cloves, crushed
    2 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt, divided
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
    2 teaspoons salt, divided
    16 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
     Cooking spray

    1. Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and red pepper to pan; cook 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Remove from pan; cool.
    2. Place onion, ginger, serrano pepper, and garlic in a food processor; process until smooth. Add spice mixture, 1/2 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons juice, and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt to onion mixture; process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Cut 3 shallow slits in each chicken thigh. Add chicken to bag, and seal. Toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. (OOPS, I forgot I need 8 hours; therefore, mine marinated for 1-2 hours. It just wasn’t quite as flavorful, but it was still ok!)
    3. Prepare grill.
    4. Combine remaining 2 cups yogurt, 2 tablespoons juice, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well. Cover mixture, and chill.
    5. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 7 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with yogurt mixture.

    Green Beans and Potatoes in Chunky Tomato Sauce
    (Again, serves 8 as listed here, but I pared it down to 2 servings with no problem.)

    1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 1/2 cups diced red potato
    1/2 cup chopped celery
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/4 pounds green beans, trimmed
    1/4 cup water
    1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    3/4 pound plum tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (I forgot to peel them, and they were fine.)
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

    1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add potato, celery, salt, and beans; sauté 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup water; cover and cook 5 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Add cilantro and tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 4 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Stir in peppers.

    Macro setting rocks. I can’t decide between the close-up of my potato or my green bean. Thus, you get both. ūüôā

    Nothing says “I love you” like some goat cheese.

    Seriously, I had no idea how in love my husband was with goat cheese until I made this dinner. ūüôā Note to self for future meals…

    So here is Valentine’s Day 2008 in a nutshell.¬† Well, not really in a nutshell, although there was some nutmeg in the ravioli… Sorry. Couldn’t help it!

    So this year’s menu was taken from the Jan/Feb 08 Everyday Food (¬† It included:

    appetizer: Pear and Proscuitto “Carpaccio” with a Balsamic¬†Vinegar Reduction
    dinner: Goat Cheese Ravioli with Parlsey Sauce and Lemony Swiss Chard
    dessert: Sparkling Lemon and Raspberry Prosecco Floats

    Here is a pic of the menu (for V day I like to get all formal and make little’s a bit fuzzy. So are all these pics, come to think of it. I need a better camera and some better lighting!)


    Ok, so the appetizer (which we actually ended up eating with our meal for some reason) was so good!¬† Word to the wise, however: when reducing balsamic vinegar, don’t let it go for too long! ewwwwwwwwww. The first batch I made ended up burning and getting all hard. Blech. After round 2 with the balsamic vinegar, though, it was all good.¬† For those of you wondering, “carpaccio” is in quotes because it’s usually super thinly sliced raw beef, or some such meat. Proscuitto does not need to be cooked anyway, and is actually super thinly sliced cured (I think) ham.

    Pear and Proscuitto “Carpaccio”
    Serves 2
    Prep time: 10 min; Total time: 10 min

    1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    1 red Bartlett pear, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
    2 ounces very thinly sliced proscuitto
    ground pepper

    1. In a small saucepan, bring vingar to a boil; cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 2 T, about 5 min.
    2. Divide the pear slices between 2 plates, arranging them in a circular pattern; top with prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic syrup as desired, and season wtih pepper.

    Here it is, with a festive V Day plate (that I bought at Target in Feb 07) :


    Our next course was the goat cheese ravioli.¬† I used the recommended wanton wrappers instead of making my own pasta, although the thought had crossed my mind. I wanted to be as quick as possible, since I had to work on V Day.¬† This was a hit with both of us!¬† Not that tend to¬†I make things more than once ;), but this is on that theoretical list that *might* get made again…


    Goat-Cheese Ravioli with Parsley Sauce


    • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese
    • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    • 1 small garlic clove, crushed through a garlic press
    • Pinch of ground nutmeg
    • Coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 12 square wonton wrappers (3 1/2 inch)
    • Parsley Sauce


    1. In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together goat cheese, ricotta, garlic, and nutmeg until smooth; season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
    2. Assemble ravioli: Arrange 6 wrappers on a work surface, keeping remaining wrappers covered with a damp papper towel.
    3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; reduce to a bare simmer. Drop ravioli into water, one at a time, stirring them gently to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, 5 to 7 minutes. (Cooking time is the same for frozen ravioli.)
    4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ravioli to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and arrange in a single layer to drain briefly. Divide between two plates; drizzle with parsley sauce, and serve immediately.

    For Parsley Sauce:

    In a small bowl, stir together 2 T of finely chopped fresh parsley, 2 T olive oil, 1 T grated Parmesan, and 1 t water; season with salt and pepper. (This reminded us of pesto! Mmm.)

    The side I served with the ravioli was lemony swiss chard (they didn’t have any fresh-looking red swiss chard, which I think may have been the point for V Day… but green it was!)

    Lemony Swiss Chard


    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 bunch Swiss chard (about 3/4 pound), stalks cut into 1-inch pieces and leaves roughly torn (keep separate)
    • Coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


    1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chard stalks, and cook, tossing until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add as many chard leaves to skillet as will fit, adding more as room becomes available; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until stalks are tender, 4 to 6 minutes more.
    2. Drain and discard any liquid from chard in skillet; stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

    Please excuse the pic quality…and I decided to “paint” on a balsamic syrup heart, which looked great at first… and not so great by the time I got the camera functioning.¬† Oops!


    For dessert (maybe my favorite part because I just love champagne so much!), we had these floats.  Prosecco is actually an Italian sparkling wine, very similar to Champagne.


    Sparkling Sorbet Floats


    • 1/2 cup raspberry sorbet, slightly softened
    • 1/2 cup lemon sorbet, slightly softened
    • 1/2 cup chilled white sparkling wine, such as Prosecco
    • 1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh mint leaves


    1. Place two small glass bowls in the freezer until chilled, at least 5 minutes. Dividing evenly, scoop raspberry and lemon sorbet into chilled bowls. Pour sparkling wine over sorbet, and garnish with mint; serve immediately.

    A particularly fuzzy pic of the desserts (in margarita glasses, because I thought it would be cute ūüôā¬† )


    …and finally, a pic of our table. (Yes, one of the taper candles is crooked, and yes, this bothers me! Oh well… ūüôā¬†¬† ) We had a lovely evening together at home!¬† To everyone who hates V Day, I say to try making it about spending quality time with the one you love.¬† Admittedly, the commercialized aspect of it can make going out crazy, depending on where you live and where you’re trying to go… but we always look forward to another excuse to celebrate the love we share with each other. ūüôā (Ok, I’m off my soap box now!)


    Romantic date night at home!

    Tonight was a Saturday date night at home. Yay! There is nothing better than enjoying a¬†special dinner at home with my husband… we can sit and talk as long as we want without feeling like someone else needs our table, we can make the food however we want it, and especially just enjoy each other’s company. Why tonight? Well…why the heck not? ūüôā Plus, we had some prime filet in the freezer that we wante to use.

    Tonight’s menu: Filet Mignon with Mushroom Madeira Sauce Flambeed with Brandy, Smashed Sweet Potatoes, and Grilled Baby Eggplant. For dessert: Mocha-Chip Meringues.

    So, I started with dessert: Mocha-Chip Meringues (recipe from the Jan/Feb 2008 Everyday Food¬†¬†for details). Someday I’ll know how to insert a link. Maybe. ūüôā

    Quick little tribute to my awesome KA mixer… although a hand mixer would have made it easier to identify when the meringue’s hard peaks had formed…

    Cookies on their baking sheet:

    …and finally some close-ups of finished meringues. They didn’t get quite as airy as I would have liked, but they’re still pretty darn tasty! Next time I think I’ll beat them a little longer, and maybe cook them a minute or 2 more.


    For the steak, I made a reduction sauce combining a Wolfgang Puck recipe for Madeira Sauce that I found on the Food Network website with a dish we get at one of our fav restaurants (

    1 package sliced baby portabella mushrooms (enough for 2 servings)
    2 tablespoon olive oil
    1 cup Madeira wine (this is a dessert wine found by the Sherry, Marsala, etc.)
    2 tablespoons minced shallots
    1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
    1 cup veal stock (I used beef stock)
    3 tablespoons butter
    Salt and pepper
    2 filets (4-6 oz. each)
    1/2 cup brandy

    Start reduction sauce: In a saucepan, bring Madeira, shallots, and thyme to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until only 1/3 cup remains. Add the stock; continue to reduce, over medium heat, until slightly thickened. I mixed about 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water at this point and whisked it into the sauce, to aid in thickening. Meanwhile, saute mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil until softened. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a pan.  Add filets, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and pan sear for 4 min. for medium doneness. Turn, season the other side, and pan sear for another 4 min. (again for medium, or to desired doneness.) Remove Madeira reduction from heat, and whisk in 2 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour reduction sauce into mushrooms and heat through. Pour reduction sauce over filet. In hot pan, add 1/2 cup brandy and light to flambee. Burn off as much alochol as desired. Serve steak with sauce and mushrooms.

    Heehee, playing with fire is fun ūüėČ
    Do you love how I’m smiling at the camera like I don’t even realize I have a flaming pan? HAHA. Also note the incredible mess on my counters in the background. Fancy date night at home as a price… ūüėČ

    For sides I peeled and cubed a very large sweet potato, covered with water in a pot, added some salt, covered, and simmered until fork tender. I drained the water out of the pot, then added some milk (well, ok, it was half and half, because I had some and was feeling indulgent!), a pat of butter, and about a tablespoon of light brown sugar. I used a hand masher and smashed so there were still some chunks of potato.

    The baby eggplant was sliced lenghthwise in thin slices, then grilled on my grill pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme to tie the flavor in with the steak.  The sweet potatoes and baby eggplant got their own plate, since the steak was so saucy.

    The dinner was accompanied with a Red Zinfandel made with organic grapes. Mmm. ūüôā

    Thanksgiving 07, Part I

    So the cooking festivities began last night with a spontaneous trip to Williams Sonoma for a food scale (which I’ve been wanting for about a year and a half now…woooooooo!) and the making of Cranberry Ginger Relish.¬†¬† Recipe from Everyday Food, November 2007 issue.

    Serves 8

    • 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
    • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar


    1. In a large saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, ginger, and 2 tablespoons water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until most of the cranberries have popped, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in vinegar.
    2. Remove relish from heat. Let cool to room temperature, and serve (or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days).

    It came out really well. Here’s a pic of my cranberries, bubbling away!