Monday, June 27, 2011


I love to bake, and while I could, at times, eat everything I bake, I really shouldn't. It works out okay, though, because no one normal turns down baked goods, so I can always bring them to work or send them to work with Brad. I usually send him treats every other week or so, but that dries up in April and May because of end of the year craziness. Now that it is summer, though, I don't go to work, so he gets all of the treats.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies
3 1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup white sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, beat butter, shortening and sugars with an electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. In a small bowl, combine salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and flour. Beat into wet ingredients until just incorporated. Stir in oats and pecans.

Drop tablespoon sized balls onto greased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Store dough in refrigerator while cookies are baking. If the dough gets too warm, the cookies will spread out too much when baking. Cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Brad has nostalgic memories of oatmeal cookies his grandma made, but unfortunately, no one seems to have the recipe. These were my most recent attempt to recreate them. He says they have too much oatmeal. (My last attempt didn't have enough oats...) I found these to be really delicious. They are really crunchy, though, and the recipe makes A TON! (like 7 dozen)

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze (by Giada from
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15 oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat until just combined. Stir in reserved dry ingredients.

Drop two tablespoons of dough per cookie 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spread glaze over cooled cookies. Allow to harden for about 2 hours before storing in an airtight container.

Brad thought these were too tart. I thought they were really good, but not so good that I'd go buy ricotta to make them. I had an open container I needed to use up, and this was a nice alternative to my usual efforts to use up ricotta - generally calzones.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Girls Night Dinner

Last night, a girlfriend came over for dinner. We had chicken tetrazzini, salad, and garlic cheese bread with peach cake for dessert.
My friend and I both thought the chicken tetrazzini was very delicious. Today, I reheated some leftovers for lunch, and Brad asked me if I liked it. I told him I thought it was really good. He said if he ordered it a restaurant, he'd be disappointed. I was crestfallen. I worked so hard on it, and I thought it was sooo good. Then I took a bite. It is DELICIOUS right out of the oven. It looses a lot in the storage/ reheating process. The pasta absorbs a lot of the liquid and the flavors, and the breadcrumb topping gets soggy. Brad described it as a casserole with cream of mushroom soup in it, and, after trying it reheated, I don't disagree.

... so I highly recommend this recipe IF you are going to be able to eat it all in the first sitting. The recipe makes a FULL 13x9 inch pan, so unless you are feeding a family of seven, or have teen aged sons, cutting the recipe in half is probably a good idea.

Chicken Tetrazzini
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups grated Italian Cheese Blend
12 ounces linguine
3/4 cup frozen peas1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (if desired, which I usually don't)
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs

Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish. Set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a deep large skillet. Combine 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and sprinkle over chicken breasts. Place in hot pan until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool slightly. When cool, shred chicken or cut into bite sized pieces, and place in a large bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to the same pan. Add mushrooms, and saute over medium high heat until the mushrooms release their juices and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute until until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the entire mixture into the bowl with the chicken.

Melt the final 3 tablespoons of butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk together. It will be clumpy. Whisk in the milk. Add cream, broth, nutmeg, and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to high until the mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir often. Add Italian cheese and stir.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add linguine, peas, sauce, and parsley to the bowl with the mushrooms mixture and the chicken. Toss until the pasta is coated and the mixture is well blended.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Stir together the Parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the pasta. Bake, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

For dessert, we had peach cake. We ate it warm, with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Peach Cake
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 medium peaches, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 13x9 inch pan. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture alternating with the buttermilk, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in the peaches by hand. Pour the batter into the pan. In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the batter. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

The Camera Went AWOL

I had just finished slaving over a hot stove and grill. I had plated my delicious meal of Asian Chicken, Rice Noodles with Sesame Peanut Sauce and Honey Cashew Green Beans. I had found and open corner of counter top where I could take the photo. The only thing missing... was the camera. We couldn't find it. Grr.

Grilled Asian Chicken
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound chicken (I use boneless skinless chicken breast for just about everything, but you could really use any part of the chicken, with or without bones)

Whisk together all ingredients (except chicken - which is not whiskable, so I am not sure why I even felt the need to clarify that point). Add chicken, and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Cook chicken on a grill (medium heat if using a gas grill) until center is no longer pink, and juices run clear.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce
8 ounces spaghetti shaped noodles (I used rice noodles, but spaghetti or linguine would also work well)
2 tablespoons white onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon rice wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

In most grocery stores, in the fresh spice area, you can buy a tube of fresh ginger paste. This is generally what I get, because working with fresh ginger can sometimes be frustrating. For this recipe, though, I just threw the onion, garlic and fresh ginger in the food processor, and it chopped them all very nicely.

Heat sesame oil (which can be found in the "Asian" section of most grocery stores (even here in T-Roy) over medium heat (6 on my electric stove) until smoky. Add ginger, garlic, onions and red pepper flakes and cook until the onions become translucent and then brown. Be patient. A higher temperature will burn the ginger and garlic. Stir frequently. This process takes about 8 minutes.

Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar and brown sugar. Reduce heat to medium low (4 on my electric stove) and gently stir until the peanut butter melts. Continue to cook sauce, stirring frequently, on low (2 on my electric stove) while preparing the noodles.

Prepare the noodles. If you are using a semolina based pasta (spaghetti, for instance) you will need to boil the noodles. For rice noodles, you generally pour boiling water over them and allow them to soak. Either way, do it. Drain the noodles and stir the peanut sauce into them. The noodles are great warm or cold.

Cashew Green Beans
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cashews

Steam the green beans. I am personally a huge advocate (I think they should hire me to be a spokesperson) of the Ziploc Steamer Bags. You just prepare your veggies (trim and rinse) and place them in the bag. Zip it up and microwave for the amount of time listed on the bag for that particular veggie. I like my veggies crisp, so I ALWAYS reduce the cook time for 1/2 bag by about 30% regardless of how full the bag is. You can always add more time. You can not bring life back into limp broccoli, or in this case, green beans. You want them to remain crisp, because they are going to get a second cook.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add honey and stir together. Toss cooked green beans in mixture, and saute for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle cashews on top, and serve.

This dish is sweet. The honey tastes like honey, but it is perfect with the spice of the chicken and the richness of the noodles.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Fondue Feast!

Last night the Cataldos enjoyed a delicious fondue feast with friends. I intended to take photos, but we were all starving and so the desire to eat eclipsed my mind and I totally forgot about pictures until we had already devoured the cheese course and were in the process of gorging ourselves on coq au vin.

We began with a traditional Swiss fondue.

Traditional Swiss Fondue
3 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 ounce cherry liqueur
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Dippers (various types of bread, green apples)

Mix cheese, flour and garlic in a bowl. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat wine and lemon juice for until lightly boiling. Add half of the cheese and stir constantly until melted. Add the remaining cheese, and stir until melted. Stir in cherry liqueur. Add pepper and nutmeg and gently stir. Pour into a fondue pot and keep melty over low heat.

We continued with a coq au vin

Coq Au Vin
3 3/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups burgundy
3/4 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped carrot
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground pepper

Dippers, cubed (here's what I used...)
Chicken Breast
Sirloin marinated in Teriyaki marinade
Beef tenderloin
Vegetables (red potatoes, button mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash)

My fondue pot isn't small, but it isn't terribly large either. It also uses Sterno as its heat source, and we learned last time we had fondue night that the broth doesn't stay as hot as desired once the cooking begins. This time I put all of the ingredients in a crock pot. It definitely worked better, but it still had trouble keeping the broth as hot as we wanted. Regardless of the apparatus used, thread meat onto fondue fork and cook in pot until it reaches desired doneness. It does not take long at all for fish and seafood (2-3 minutes-ish), but chicken takes a bit longer (5 minutes-ish). Once cooked, dip meat and veggies into desired sauces.

Cocktail Sauce (Good for fish and shrimp - though I don't think anyone used it.)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
hot pepper sauce to taste

Whisk ingredients together until blended. Cover and chill until serving.

Creamy Curry Sauce (This goes great with seafood and chicken, and we LOVE it, though it does have a bit of a kick)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup mango chutney (Major Grey's is great - AND you can get it at Kroger)
2 teaspoons minced red onion
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients together. Mix well. Cover and chill until serving, at least 2 hours.

Horseradish Sauce (This is really tasty with beef - but we didn't eat much of it)
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 green onions, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together. Mix well. Cover and chill until serving.

Green Goddess (Goes well with vegetables and is so good I consider it a food group)
3/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup FINELY chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup FINELY chopped green onions
2 tablespoons minced white onion

Combine all ingredients together. Mix well. Cover and chill until serving.

Teriyaki Sauce (Goes well with anything. Especially delicious mixed with Gorgonzola Sauce)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
5 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup cold water

Mix all ingredients but cornstarch and 1/4 cup water together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir cornstarch into 1/4 cup water. When mixture boils, stir in cornstarch and water. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. Serve warm, or refrigerate until serving.

Gorgonzola Sauce (LOVE this one!)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon cherry brandy
1 tablespoon milk

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Finally, we ended with a milk chocolate raspberry fondue for dessert.

Milk Chocolate Raspberry Fondue
12 ounces milk chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons frangelico (raspberry liquor)

Dippers (what I used...)
Fresh strawberries, bananas, and pineapple
Rice Krispies Treats
Pound cake
Cheesecake bites

Combine chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring well each time, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in Frangelico. Transfer to fondue pot to keep warm.

A fun time was had by all!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our First "I Have Time To Cook" Dinner

Everyone who knows me knows I'm not a dumb girl, but if you *really* know me, you know I am technology stupid. I just missed the technology generation in both directions.

The kids just a little bit younger than me have no recollection of life before computers. We got our first computer when I was a sophomore in high school. Any time I needed to type anything in middle school, I did it at my dad's office. As a freshmen, I hand wrote my assignment and then my mom typed it. As a sophomore, though, the assignments got longer and the procrastination got fiercer, and my mom was no longer willing to type my assignments. So she bought a computer. I remember it was close to $1500, but it included Windows 95, which was brand spankin' new at the time. I could muddle my way through typing and spell checking an essay, but that was the extent of my abilities. If anything went wrong, I had to call in reinforcements.

The "kids" a little bit older than me managed to get through college and find jobs before computers infiltrated every aspect of life, so when computers were foisted on them, everyone learned together.

Me, though, I am in that generation where it is assumed that at some point I learned all about technology. The truth of the matter is, though, I still have a Walkman (one of those personal listening devices that requires 2 AA batteries and plays TAPES), my television has a tube in it, I have a collection of VHS movies I am not willing to part with but am too cheap to replace on DVD, and whenever anything electronic stops working properly, I unplug it, do a dance to the technology gods, plug it back in and hope for the best.

I mention all of this because it just took me 20 solid minutes to find the picture of tonight's dinner that I just uploaded onto my computer. (I bet you can't guess how many hours it took me how to figure out how to transfer pictures from my digital camera to my computer...)

One of the few aspects of summer that I love is that we eat well. I have time to plan, shop for, and prepare delicious meals that involve more prep work, cooking time or dishes than I am willing to dedicate during the school year.

Tonight, we had macadamia nut encrusted Mahi Mahi with a tropical fruit sauce over coconut rice. I was going to make sesame stir fried asparagus, as well, but it turns out my asparagus crossed the line from edible to gelatinous about 3 days ago. Instead, we had frozen green beans. It turned out okay, as the green beans were microwavable, which means they were cooked in a dishwasher safe dish, as opposed to the asparagus, which would have dirtied three additional dishes, plus measuring spoons.

Macadamia Nut Encrusted Mahi Mahi
1/2 cup crushed macadamia nuts
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
4 mahi mahi fillets

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shallots, diced
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup pineapple, cubed
1/2 cup papaya, cubed
1/2 cup mango, cubed
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon corn starch in 1/4 cup fruit juice
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix bread crumbs and macadamia nuts. (I crushed my mac nuts in the food processor)

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.

Dip fish in egg and then in macadamia nut mixture (coat both sides) and saute in a skillet until brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove fish from skillet and place in baking dish. Set aside for about 10 minutes.

Add shallots to skillet and cook until translucent. (It took me about 20 seconds. No kidding.)

Stir in chicken broth, fruit, coconut and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer on medium-high heat for 15 minutes. At this point, put the fish in the oven for 15 minutes.

Fresh papaya is not something easily obtained in Lincoln County, MO, so I used fresh mango, but for the pineapple and papaya I used a jar of tropical fruit. I measured out 1 cup total of the tropical fruit (I think what I used had pineapple, papaya and passion fruit), as well as 1 mango. I used the juice from the canned fruit as my liquid for the cornstarch. It also adds a little sweetness to the sauce.

Mix the cornstarch into the liquid of your choice (fruit juice or water), and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer until fish is cooked through. (Test with a fork if unsure... it should all be the same shade of white.)

Place fish on a bed of rice and spoon fruit sauce on top.

Coconut Rice
2 cups water
2 cups white rice (Jasmine if you can get it - see aforementioned note about Lincoln County)
1 tablespoon butter
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon sugar

Bring water, rice, and butter to a boil over medium high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until liquid is absorbed into rice, about 15 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and sugar. Continue to cook until coconut milk is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

*Note* The sauce never quite tasted right to me in the pan. I kept thinking it needed something. It did need something. The fish. The fish WITH the sauce was divine.

Enjoy! We certainly did.