Sunday, August 23, 2009

Brie Cheese and Roast Beef Panini

When my mom and I visited one of our favorite restaurants for lunch, I decided to try the special of the day. A roast beef panini with brie cheese and caramelized onions on sourdough bread. After the first bite, I was in panini heaven. The tender beef, soft onions and melty brie cheese all harmonized in one truly amazing panini. As soon as I finished it I knew I had to make it for my husband. It's really an easy panini to make and results in a great and hearty lunch.

Adapted from one of my favorite restaurants

4 slices sourdough bread (for 2 sandwiches)
1 small onion, sliced
aprox. 1/2 circle brie cheese cut into think chunch and with the rind removed
thinly sliced roast beef
aprox. 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sugar
butter, softened

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add about 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add onions and a pinch of sugar. Cook for about 10-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are wilted and caramelized. Set aside.

Butter 1 side of each piece of bread, and on the other side add roast beef, caramelized onions and pieces of brie cheese. Add as much as you want to each sandwich. Top with other slice of bread, buttered side out.

Place each sandwich on a preheated panini maker, and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until the outside of the sandwich is golden brown. Remove, and using a serated knife cut sandiwich on an angle. Serve hot, and with horseradish if desired.

Zucchini Feta Casserole

This is by far one of my favorite summertime dishes. It's fresh, flavorful and filling! I always end up with way too many zucchinis from my garden, so this is a great recipe to make because it uses a whole zucchini. My inspiration was originally from a Cooking Light recipe, however I have altered it to my tastes quite a bit over the years, so I don't think it's much like the original! The reason I like this meal so much is because you can adapt it to suit your mood and tastes. Sometimes I add tomatoes, use different cheeses, or add in chopped chicken breast. I was also thinking that artichokes would be great in this, although I haven't tried that yet. In addition, it's a really quite a healthy recipe! Overall, this meal is the perfect summertime dinner.
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 14.5 oz. box Penne Pasta
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped and cooked (optional)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup (2 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, then zucchini, onion and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes or until onion is tender and opaque, and zucchini is wilted. Then add tomatoes (if desired) and cook for another 5 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. In a small bowl, whisk together chicken stock and flour until thoroughly combined, then add to vegetables. Cook for another minute or two, until sauce is thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine pasta, zucchini mixture, feta cheese, and cooked chicken (if desired) until combined. Pour into a 13x9 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over entire casserole and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.

Creamy Buttermilk Coleslaw

After my neighbor gave us a huge and beautiful head of cabbage from his garden, I had to figure out what to do with it while it was still at it's peak of freshness. I wanted to make Gołąbki, but my husband doesn't like it so much. So he suggested I make coleslaw, which was a great idea! It's one of his favorite side dishes and I had never made it before.

This was a great recipe. It was easy to follow and resulted in a crisp, creamy and flavorful side dish. I didn't think I liked coleslaw to be honest (that watery mush that comes in a plastic container? No thanks), but this was really good! I was surprised at how much I liked it.

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again after next years cabbage harvest!

Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles, Originally from Cooks Illustrated July 2002

CI note: If you are planning to serve the coleslaw immediately, rinse the salted cabbage in a large bowl of ice water, drain it in a colander, pick out any ice cubes, then pat the cabbage dry before dressing.

1 pound cabbage (about ½ medium head), red or green, shredded fine (6 cups)
table salt
1 medium carrot, shredded on box grater
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (I omitted as I didn't have any)
½ teaspoon cider vinegar (I used white vinegar which was fine)
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


Toss shredded cabbage and 1 teaspoon salt in colander or large mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Let stand until cabbage wilts, at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Rinse cabbage under cold running water. Press, but do not squeeze, to drain; pat dry with paper towels. Place wilted cabbage and carrot in large bowl.

Stir buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, shallot, parsley, vinegar, sugar, mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper together in small bowl. Pour dressing over cabbage and toss to combine; refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. (Coleslaw can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Saltimbocca alla Romana

This meal is one of me and my husband's favorites. It's quick, easy and a perfect weeknight dinner. It's a great departure from our "traditional" chicken or beef dinners which is always a welcome treat. All of the flavors work perfectly together, and you a left with a tender, flavorful and absolutely delicious meal.

Source: Williams-Sonoma Italian Cookbook, page 64

4 veal cutlets, about 5oz. each (I used 3)
8 thin slices prosciutto
16 fresh sage leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb spinach, stems removed and leaves well rinsed and chopped (I omitted)
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon

Place each veal cutlet between 2 pieces of parchement paper and set on a work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch. Remove the top sheet of paper and cut each cutlet in half. (I omitted these first steps because my cutlets were already very thin).Arrange a slice of prosciutto on each cutlet half, folding it to fit if necessary, and top the prosciutto with 2 sage leaves. Secure with toothpicks, threading them through the layers. Repeat with remaining cutlets.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute until softened but not browned, 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach and saute until the spinach is wilted and all of its rinsing water has evaporated, 5-7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm (I omitted the spinach portion of this meal, since my husband and I don't like it).

Just before serving, in a saute pan large enough to hold the veal in a single layer, melt the butter over medium heat until it foams. Add the veal, proscituto side down, and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 minute. Using a spatula, turn and cook on the second side until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice to the pan and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the veal on top of the spinach and remove the toothpicks, Sertve at once, placing 2 pieces of veal and a portion of the spinach on each individual plate and drizzling with the sauce.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart

This tart exudes summer. The freshness of the tomato and basil is balanced by the rich puff pastry shell and the goat cheese works perfectly with all the flavors described. In addition, the caramelized onions add a wonderful smoothness. This tart would be the perfect addition to any summer party. My husband and I both enjoyed this tart very much, and I will definitely be making it again!

Source: Ina Garten

1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (I used herbs de Provence instead)
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet) (I used plain goat cheese)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves


Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dill and Cheddar Cornbread

I had a bunch of beautiful fresh dill from the farmers market that proved to be too much for my batch of Dill Pickles (that's another post!), so I was looking for a way to use it before it went bad. Then I was watching Barefoot Contessa on TV and Ina was making this delicious looking cornbread along with some braised short ribs. I thought this would be the perfect thing to make with my fresh dill.

I really loved this cornbread. I'm a huge fan of dill and that along with the sharp cheddar and moist corn bread was a perfect combination in my book. However, I do feel obliged to mention that my husband just said it was "weird" I don't think he loved it as much as I did. I think that he was surprised with the flavor of the dill in such a traditional corn bread. Either way, I can assure you that if you like dill you will love this cornbread! A perfect addition to a Sunday dinner.

Source: Ina Garten

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1 cup minced fresh dill


Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar and the dill, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

I have had this recipe printed out for ages now, and last week I finally tried it.

This was a great, simple burger filled with lots of flavor! I didn't really change anything in the recipe, except that I topped the burger with some fresh basil from my garden, and instead of mushrooms I used caramelized onions! But perhaps my favorite thing about this recipe is that I have everything needed in my pantry, so if I am ever unsure of what to make for dinner, this works perfectly!

Source: Elly Says Opa

1 lb. ground chicken (I used breast meat)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I used more - probably about 3/4 cup)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup chopped flatleaf parsley (I omitted)
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed (I used 2)
1 shallot, finely diced
salt and pepper

1/2 cup pasta sauce
4 slices mozzarella or provolone (or 1/2 cup shredded)
sauteed mushrooms (optional) (I used caramelized onions instead)
4 buns (brushed with a little garlic butter, they are even better)


Lightly mix together all the ingredients for the burgers. Form into 4 patties. I like to make them about 30-40 minutes ahead of time, to let the flavors meld a little bit.

Preheat & spray the broiler with a little oil (or use the grill, or a pan). Broil the burgers for about 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and broil for 3 minutes. Top each chicken burger with 2 Tbsp. pasta sauce and a slice (or about 2T) of cheese. Place back under the broiler for 30-60 seconds, until cheese in melted and burger is cooked through. Top with mushrooms (or onions), if desired. Place the buns in the broiler for about 10 seconds, just until toasted.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cauliflower & Mozzarella Bake

I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for interesting looking food. When I have kids some day, I'm sure they will love their plates because I love serving food that is appealing and fun for the eyes.

That's why, when I was at the market last week, I had to have this purple cauliflower. Isn't it pretty?! It was too hard to resist! That being said, I really don't even like cauliflower. But I really haven't had it since I was a kid either, so I thought I'd give it a try.

This recipe was great a letting the cauliflower be the star. I really thought it was very good! The cheese was not overwhelming at all, it just added a nice smoothness to the cauliflower. And of course, you can use this recipe with whatever color cauliflower you want! All in all this was a great veggie side dish!

1 head cauliflower
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, sliced thin
Salt & pepper to taste
1/3 c. fine bread crumbs (I used Italian Style)
1/2 c. Panko (I added this)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. mozzarella cheese, grated


1. Cut off cauliflower flowerettes.

2. Steam until tender (approximately 20 minutes). (I don't have a steamer so I just boiled the flowerettes in a bit of water on the stovetop until they were tender.)

3. Meanwhile saute onions in oil until golden.

4. Pour in fine bread crumbs with the onions. Stir.

5. Layer cauliflower, cheese and onions in a baking dish.

6. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, and top that with Panko bread crumbs.

8. Place under broiler until cheese melts and top turns light brown.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Roast Pork Loin with Apricots

After my friend was talking about meal planning, I decided to dig out a few old cook books and try it for a week. This meal was perfect for the weeknight. I did all the prep the night before and then when it came time to cook dinner, all I had to do was put this in the oven and dinner was done in less then 30 minutes. The pork loin itself was incredibly flavorful on the inside and the outside which was great, and the apricots make for a beautiful presentation. This recipe was certainly a winner in our book!.

Source: Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom cookbook, page 106

1 boneless center cut pork loin, about 2 lbs.
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
leaves from 2 springs fresh rosemary
1 tsp. cumin seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
2 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
One day or at least 6 hours before cooking, stuff and season the pork loin. Use a thin boning knife to make an incision from each end that run the length of the loin through its center. The incision should be no wider then 1 inch. Stuff the dried apricots into the center, one at a time, until the incision is completely filled with apricots. Season pork liberally with the salt and pepper to taste. Rub with rosemary, cumin seeds and fennel seeds.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pork on a rack in a roasting pan and put it in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Cook until a thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers 135 degrees for medium-rare, about 25 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Slice the pork, about 1/2 inch thick in order to show off the center stuffing. Serve.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Blueberry Turnovers

With blueberries at their peak, I decided it was high time I made a baked good with them as the star! I've never made a turnover before, so this was a great way to use them.

This was a great and simple recipe. It's like a little hand held blueberry pie which is perfect for outdoor entertaining during the summer time. The only thing I wish was that the filling stayed inside the pastry better so there would be more of the filling. I tried everything to seal shut the edges, but to no avail. A little always bubbled through. But all in all this was a perfect little summer time dessert that was deliciously sweet with a flaky and buttery crust.

Source: Martha Stewart

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 to 8 tablespoons ice water

  • 2 cups mixed fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries (quartered lengthwise), and blackberries (halved if large) (I just used blueberries)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, about 4 teaspoons
  • Eggwash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
  • Sanding sugar or granulated sugar to garnish , optional

    Prepare dough: In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if necessary, add up to 4 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time). To help ensure a flaky crust, do not overprocess. (I don't use a food processor for my dough...I just do it in a bowl with a hand held pastry blender)

    Transfer half of the dough (still crumbly) onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form into a square 3/4 inch thick; wrap tightly in plastic. Repeat with the other half. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days).

    Prepare filling: In a medium bowl, toss together berries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice.

    Preheat the oven to 425. On a lightly floured surface, roll first disk out to an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut into six 4-inch squares. Spoon berry mixture into the center of each square. Brush 2 opposite sides of each square with egg wash and fold into triangles. Crimp edges to seal. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with second dough.

    Brush tops with eggwash. Sprinkle with sugar if desired and make a 1/2 inch incision to create a steam vent in the middle of each of triangle. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet pan halfway through.

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