Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 4: Becky's Panini

I wasn't sure exactly what a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich is.  I wasn't sure if it could include other things besides cheese and I wasn't sure what to do with just a grilled cheese sandwich so I took the liberty of adding other ingredients to my gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.

I was inspired by the Chicken Bellagio meal at the Cheesecake Factory.  I just love this dish and I had hoped that the flavors would translate well into a panini.  It kind of worked :)

Bellagio Panini

Havarti Cheese
Thin slices of tomato
Olive Oil
Roasted Garlic Bread

Pound the chicken so that it's very flat.  Cook the chicken in a little olive oil.  Meanwhile layer the sandwich.  Spread the pesto on both of the insides of the bread.  Layer the other ingredients however you would like.  I used 2 pieces of cheese but it may be better with 3.  I used 1 slice of proscuitto and I think it needed 2.  It definitely needed more than 6 arugula leaves and you probably could leave it out!  I would also not use roasted garlic bread, a plain bread would be better.  The  roasted garlic bread overpowered the other flavors.  Put the sandwich in a George Foreman grill or panini maker.  Cook until the outside is golden brown.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Week 4: Gourmet Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

Julie ate an amazing toasted cheese sandwich three years ago, and I have been thinking about it ever since she told me about it.  I decided to use MDSBWFC as an excuse to try out this (and some other) fantastic toasted cheese sandwich ideas.

Week 3: Chevy's Sweet Corn Tamalitos

There is a Tex-Mex restaurant in Champaign that Julie and I used to enjoy called Chevy's.  Many of their meals came with a small helping of sweet corn tamalitos, and both Julie and I immediately thought of it when Marcie said the week three of MDSBWFC would be corn.  I used a recipe from which uses a 12 oz bag of corn.  My recipe below is scaled up to a 1 lb bag, because that's how God intended frozen vegetables to be sold.  If I made this again, I might finish it off uncovered for 8-10 minutes in the oven. to give it a little crust and get rid of any excess water.

Chevy's Sweet Corn Tamalitos

6.5 Tbsp softened butter
1/3 cup masa harina or flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 lb + 1/2 lb corn kernels
2/3 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup water
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp milk
salt as desired

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Then blend 1/2 lb corn kernels with water.  Add to butter/sugar mixer and beat until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.

Pour dough into a 9x9 and tightly cover with aluminum foil.  Suspend over boiling water (I wedged it into my wide stockpot) for about an hour.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week 3: Marcie's Sweet Corn Risotto with Wild Rice and Prosciutto

I found the idea for this recipe in the August 2011 issue of Midwest Living magazine, but had to change a few things because grocery stores in Sun Prairie don't carry pancetta.  The flavor of the completed dish was good, but the sweet corn flavor got a little lost amidst the chardonnay and prosciutto flavors.  The sweet corn added a nice little juicy burst of texture to the creamy Arborio and chewy wild rice textures.  Ben enjoyed this too (of course he did, it has prosciutto) but Amelia did not care for corn mixed with her rice.  Oh, and I decided I can't make risotto again unless Ben is home to help watch the girls.  Megan wasn't content to play in the kitchen, and I kept having to run after her to make sure she wasn't getting into trouble (or that Amelia wasn't dragging her around by the leg, like I caught her doing once during the cooking last night.)

Sweet Corn Risotto with Wild Rice and Prosciutto
(serves 4)

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 oz prosciutto, chopped
1/4 large onion, finely chopped
5/8 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
14 oz chicken broth
2 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed
1 cup cooked wild rice (1/4 cup uncooked wild rice, cooked in 3/4 cup water for about an hour)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp black pepper
snipped parsley for garnish
freshly shaved parmesan cheese for garnish

1. In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add prosciutto, cook and stir for 8 minutes, or until nicely browned.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the prosciutto from the skillet and drain on paper towels.  Add the onion to the drippings in the skillet, cook and stir until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add Arborio rice to onion in skillet; cook and stir over medium heat until rice is slightly browned, about 4 minutes.  Add half of the prosciutto, white wine and red pepper.

3. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the skillet, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding chicken broth in 1/2 cup increments, cooking and stirring until all chicken broth has been absorbed (about 20 minutes).

4. Stir in corn, cooked wild rice, 1/4 cup cheese, butter pieces and black pepper.  Cook on low for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Cheese should be melted.

5. Top with remaining prosciutto, chopped parsley, and shaved parmesan to serve.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Week 3: Becky-Potato, Green Bean and Corn Salad

Well, Sometimes Becky managed to get week 3 in quite spontaneously!  We had no corn (the corn we were given had worms in all the ears so we had to throw them out) and I had no plans to go to the grocery store but then I had no bread and we ran out of diapers.  So at the very last minute (as Brian was starting the grill) I ran to the store and got some sweet corn (because I won't buy any frozen corn besides Trader Joe's).

This recipe turned out quite delicious!  Brian wasn't so much of a fan because he says that he likes green beans, corn and potatoes on their own so mixed together with too much lemon ruined the 3 foods he likes.  He also said he couldn't enjoy the corn with all the other ingredients.  To that I say pshaw!

I found this recipe (and several other good sounding corn recipes like scrambled eggs with corn) at The Kitchen.

Potato, Green Bean and Corn Salad
1 lb red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 lb green beans, cut into bite size pieces (I used frozen but fresh probably would have been better)
3 ears of corn on the cob (I used 2 so maybe that was why Brian didn't taste enough corn)
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp lemon (perhaps you could leave this out all together-I probably put in 2 tbsps)
3 oz. feta or goat cheese
salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes in water until the potatoes are fork tender.  Cook green beans until they are al dente.  Cook the corn however you would like (I microwaved it on high for 4-5 minutes in the husks). After the corn cools a little, cut the kernels off the cob.  Combine potatoes, corn and green beans in a serving bowl.  Chop the parsley and chives and add to the bowl.

Melt the butter in a small skillet or pot over medium heat.  Let it melt, swirling every once in a while.  Let it cook until the butter darkens and begins to smell nutty, swirling occasionally.  As soon as it darkens, take if off the heat!!! (I burned my first brown butter and had to start again).  Whisk in lemon and salt and pepper if desired.  Pour over potatoes, green beans and corn.  Add cheese.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 3: Corn

Marcie picked our theme for week 3, and it is corn.  Fun corn fact: corn is the second most cultivated crop in the world, after wheat.  That wasn't really very much fun, so here's another one: one acre of corn can yield about 11 million kernels.

If you want to participate, just send me your recipe for a corn related dish and a picture of the finished product by Thursday.  Also, if you want to be a regular participant or suggest a theme, just say so in the comments!

Week 2: Marcie's Rosemary Vanilla Chicken

We all really liked this recipe, the girls included, but we didn't think it tasted much like vanilla.  As it was cooking, it smelled deliciously vanilla-y, but the vanilla flavor in the final dish was subtle.  Actually, it's hard to describe exactly what the flavor of the end product was - not rosemary, not vanilla, not chardonnay, just yummy.

Vanilla Rosemary Chicken
serves 4

5 boneless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 large handfuls baby carrots, finely chopped
1 cup chicken broth
cup chardonnay
1/2 vanilla bean (seeds scraped out, then finely dice the shell)
2 sprigs of rosemary, needles peeled off

Pour the oil in a large skillet, turn heat to high.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken.  Cook until chicken is golden brown on all sides, turning frequently.  Once chicken is browned, remove from skillet.

Add onion and carrots to the juice in the skillet.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened.

Add chicken broth, wine, rosemary, vanilla bean seeds and diced vanilla bean shell to the skillet, stirring until combined.  Place chicken on top of the mixture.  Cover skillet tightly, turn heat to medium-low, and simmer for 45 minutes until chicken is tender.  Remove cover, and let juices thicken until a sauce forms.

Serve over rice.

Week 1: Marcie's Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Isn't it funny that we all chose to make a salad with quinoa?  Maybe we'll have to do quinoa again sometime, but this time say it can't be used in a salad.

I modified a recipe from allrecipes, and I think mine sounds a lot better.  :)  Ben and I both liked this salad.  I made his with mozzarella cheese and without tomatoes, but I think the feta cheese is what really makes this dish so tasty.  The girls didn't get to try any quinoa, because we were running so late that day that they were in bed before this was ready.  I'm curious what they would think of it.  Next time, I may add more quinoa, or plan on serving some bread with it.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Serves 2 as a main course salad

1 cup water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1 large cooked chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 roasted red pepper (I used one from a jar)
2 oz feta cheese crumbles
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil

Combine the water, bouillon cube and garlic in a small pot and heat to boiling.  Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer for 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, combine lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

In a salad bowl, combine quinoa, chicken, red pepper, feta, tomatoes and herbs.  Drizzle with the balsamic dressing and toss to combine.  Serve warm or cold.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week 2: David - Vanilla Pad See Ew

Both Julie and I immediately thought of using the vanilla to flavor beef for MDSBWFC: Vanilla.  I trialed some different flavorings with hamburgers, which resulted in some of the strangest burgers ever.  The two major ideas we had were to braise some beef with a vanilla bean in the braising liquid and to make a beef noodle dish. We decided to make a Pad See Ew which ended up having a delectable salty, sweet, spicy, rich flavor.

Vanilla Pad See Ew

14 oz wide rice noodles
2 eggs
3 Tbsp soy sauce + 3 Tbsp water
1.5 lb sirloin
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 fresh red chilies, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb snow peas

1 Tbsp soy sauce (always use low sodium!)
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 dried red chilies, reconstituted and finely chopped (I use Japones)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp water

4 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Marinate beef in marinade for at least 4 hours.

Stir fry beef, garlic, chilies, bell peppers, mushrooms, and snow peas in batches and place to the side.  Make sure the garlic and chilies are evenly distributed.

Cook rice noodles in boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes.  Meanwhile, scramble the eggs in wok.  Add soy sauce/water mixture and 2 Tbsp oil to eggs, then dump in rice noodles.  Fry until noodles have absorbed all the liquid (add more water if noodles are too chewy).  Add meat and vegetables and mix well.  Add sauce and cook until bubbling.  Remove from heat and serve.

Week 1: David

I went in a similar direction as Becky, making a quinoa oriented salad.  Julie and I thought up four different styles: Southwestern (chorizo, corn, black beans, red bell peppers, garlic), Italian (spinach, red bell pepper, bacon, parmesan), Indian (mushroom, cashew, raisins, mint, ginger, and garlic), and Thanksgiving (Italian sausage,  mushrooms, craisins, and thyme).  While the Southwestern had the most potential, it didn't work well as a salad because the elements were too separate from each other... perhaps a little bit of sauce would have tied everything together.  In any event, we had a lot of fun trying four different quinoa salads with so many ingredients.  Only rarely have I appreciated having such a large cutting board before:

Ultimately, I chose the Thanksgiving themed salad as my submissions for MDSBWFC: Quinoa.  Recipe follows picture.

Thanksgiving Quinoa Salad

12 oz dry quinoa
1 1/4 pounds sweet Italian sausage
1/2 pounds baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup craisins
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme

Cook quinoa.  Chop sausage and fry it, draining fat.  Fry mushrooms until nicely seared.  Toast craisins.  Combine sausage, mushrooms, craisins, and thyme and cook for a couple minutes.  Stir sausage mixture into quinoa.  To serve, line a small glass with waxed paper, fill with quinoa salad, and invert.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Week 1-Becky: Chicken with Quinoa and Vegetables

Well I guess the "Sometimes  Becky" will be the first one to post the quinoa challenge photo and recipe.  I  didn't get the challenge done in the deadline but I made it for dinner tonight  at it was yummy!  It's by far the best quinoa dish I've made.  There are some changes I would make to the following  recipe but not too many.  I got the recipe from AllRecipes and made just a few changes.

Chicken with  Quinoa and Vegetables
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
4  tbsp olive oil
3 green onions (calls for 2 garlic scapes but I couldn't find those), chopped
6 cloves of garlic (needs more-couldn't taste the garlic)
1 small onion,chopped
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 zucchini, diced
1 tomato, diced (need more unless it is a large tomato)
4  handfuls of fresh baby spinach
4  ounces crumbled feta cheese
8 fresh basil leaves, sliced (need a lot more-couldn't taste it at all)
1-2 tbsp lime juice
1/8  cup pine nuts, toasted

Put the quinoa and chicken broth in  a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes (or  maybe a little longer-the quinoa had a little bit of a crunch still).

Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a large skillet.  Cook the green onions, garlic and onions until the onion is translucent.  Add the chicken and cook  until the chicken is still a little pink (I cooked it through).  Remove the meat  mixture and set aside.  Put the remaining 2 tbsp oil in the skillet and add the zucchini, tomatoes and spinach.  Cook until zucchini is tender-5 to 8 minutes.  Return chicken to the skillet and sprinkle with feta cheese, basil leaves and lime juice.  Cook until the chicken is done.  Serve over quinoa and top with pine  nuts.

This was quite tasty but a little salty-probably just from the feta cheese.  Not sure how to fix that.  My kids ate a few pieces of chicken but wouldn't eat the quinoa  or anything  else.  I diced the zucchini very small and couldn't taste it so it's a nice way to get more veggies in a dish!  Natalie and Noah wanted me to take pictures of their food as welll so here are their plates.