Time Flies…

It probably seems as if I’ve abandoned my mission to share my culinary adventures with the World Wide Web, but alas, that’s not the case.  Honestly, I’ve just gotten swept away with life.  Basically, my world has been insanely busy.  I’m still cooking, of course.  Not quite as much as I was a few months ago, but I am, and I have a few dishes stockpiled to share with you all, and plan to continue working on more.  I hope my readers will continue to be patient with me, as a I working on updating the site with meals I’ve prepared over the past month, and I’ll do my best keep my updates frequent.  Thanks for tuning in!

Still living life...One Bite At A Time

Still living life...One Bite At A Time

COMING SOON:  COOKING FOR A CROWD!

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Fancy Schmancy Chicken Sammie

Okay, can you say inspiration?  I always seem to get food inspiration at the weirdest times, for instance, when I’m sick at home with the flu or even at 2a.m. when I can’t sleep a wink.  That being said, the idea for this sandwich came to me at the most obvious time possible, while grocery shopping at Costco.  I was perusing the imported cheese case, as I’m usually prone to do, when I found a very reasonably priced triple-creme French cheese by the name of le Delice de Bourgogne.  Between the cheese and a fresh loaf of rosemary olive oil bread, a plan formed and my excitement was honestly not to be contained.  All I needed was a few more ingredients, a killer sauce, and magic was around the corner.  I attended to the rest of my weekly errands with one goal in mind, and basically went on a food buying spree, grabbing anything and everything that peaked my curiosity.  I’m a total food geek and it was the most fun I’d had in a long time.  Plus, by the time I got home I knew exactly what I was making and even thought of a way to use a brand new gadget, courtesy of my brother.  This is one of those recipes that I’m going to have to insist that you try  because, yes, it’s really that good.

Ingredients

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Fresh Rosemary

Fresh Tarragon

Fresh Garlic

Maple Bacon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Butter

Flour

White Wine

Heavy Cream

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread (or any nice crusty bread)

le Delice de Bourgogne Cheese (or a nice triple-creme brie)

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Process

Yay!  Here’s the debut of my new gadget…a pilon, straight from Puerto Rico.  As I’ve mentioned before, my family is Puerto Rican and we really enjoy our heritage through food, so when my brother returned from a recent trip to the island with a handcrafted pilon, sort of a wooden mortar and pestle, I was thrilled.  My mom bought an almost identical one almost 10 years ago, and I’ve wanted my own for a long time.  Well, I’ve digressed much too far now, so first off, you should tear the leaves off of your tarragon and rosemary and remove the skin from the garlic.  Throw it all in your mortar and pestle with some salt and pepper.

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Now have some fun and crush it up as much as you can.  If you don’t have a mortar and pestle just coursely chop it all together.

004Set aside and begin prepping your chicken.  As usual, you want to clean off any excess fat and then you should split the breasts as demonstrated in my Cheesy Chicken Roll-Ups.

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Toss them all in a dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle on the herb and garlic mixture.

006Mix everything up and set aside to marinate well you work on the other components.  Now’s a good time to cook up your bacon.  In the past year, I’ve discovered that I really like to cook bacon in the toaster oven when I have the time.  The bacon doesn’t curl up and the scent doesn’t infiltrate your home so much.  So that’s what I did hear.  Depending on the thickness of the bacon, I usally cook it on 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, if the bacon is thinner, decrease the time.

008While the bacon cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and throw in your chicken.

012Sautee on both sides until nicely browned, add a couple tablespoons of butter, and sprinkle the whole thing with some flour.

014Toss everything around to work in the flour and allow it to cook out for a few minutes to lose the raw taste.  Once a bit of a roux has formed and cooked up, add a few ounces of a tasty white wine.

015Bring to boil and let the alcohol cook out.  This is important!  If you don’t give the alcohol a few minutes to cook out, the sauce will curdle in the next step.  Once it comes to a boil and simmers for a minute you can add in the cream.

017Stir to combine and allow to simmer so the sauce is thick enough to coat the chicken with a couple tablespoons leftover for drizzling.  While the sauce thickens, cut the bread into 2-3 inch wide pieces, spread each side with a healthy amount of the cheese, and layer bacon on both sides.

019Once the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is nice and thick, place one breast portion on the bread and drizzle with a little more sauce.

020To fancy it up a bit more, serve with a bistro salad of greens, dried fruit, and nuts and some roasted potatoes.  Now, please, please, please ENJOY the creamy, bacony goodness!

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Tastemaker Review: The Irish Awesomeness of Kerrygold

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Please forgive me loyal followers, please, please forgive me!  Yes, I know, I’ve been a terrible blogger lately, but let me just fill you in.  Two weeks ago, I was sick, very sick, out of work for two days sick, it sucked.  I tried to blog but just felt too gross to get anywhere.  And to be really honest, I was just too busy this past week.  I had to jump back into life after being out of commission for awhile.  And again, I did try to write this post a week ago, but I really wasn’t into it, and I didn’t want to write without giving it my all…I’m not here to produce sub-par content and wouldn’t want to short change those who I hope have come to expect more from me.  But, I’m back now and ready to get everything rolling once again.  Now, I’m not posting a recipe today, and I apologize if anyone has been waiting anxiously.  What I do have is a stellar product to clue you all in on.  Back around St. Paddy’s Day, my friends over at FoodBuzz sent me some buy one get one free coupons and great recipes from the Kerrygold company.  If you are not familiar with their products, you should definitely track some down.  Ironically, when I went shopping for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner, which was faboo by the way, I couldn’t find any Kerrygold products, so I didn’t get to use them for that meal.  A few weeks later, I went to a different grocery store and used the coupons to purchase their classic Dubliner cheese and an Aged Cheddar.

024While I truly enjoyed both cheeses, the Dubliner was really the stand out for me.  It almost has the texture of parmesan crossed with cheddar and is fantastic for grating over almost anything and dreamy as a snack.  It has a very distinctive, tangy yet nutty flavor that really is a party for your tastebuds.  It’s sophisticated on the palate, but not so much so that it’s overwhelming just sliced and eaten on a cracker.  Yeah, I’d really like some right now…but, I’m all out.  I think I’ll be using my second set of coupons pretty soon.  You really should check out Kerrygold’s website to learn more about their other cheeses and find out where you can pick some up.  If you’re a true cheese lover, a little effort will be worth it.  Go eat some cheese…NOW, and ENJOY!

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Crispy Honey-Lime Salmon

So, I’m gonna sort of piggy back posts here.  To go along with the panzanella salad I shared in my last post, I created a new salmon dish.  I know that a lot of people are bored with salmon and that it is actually becoming quite a controversial fish, but my husband and I love it.  In fact, I’ve even converted a few seafoodphobes with my blackened version(maybe I’ll post that one someday,too :)), and I find that I can always think of something new to do with it.  Although not naturally bland, I consider salmon my chicken of the sea…poached, broiled, baked, pan-fried, packed with flavor or simply seasoned, I can always find a tasty and satisfying method of preparation.  Now, usually, we want the sides to complement the protein, but the panzanella was really the focus of this meal and I wanted something with light flavor to accompany the tart, salty, cheesy salad.  Both the husband and I agreed that this had the perfect balance of zesty punch and mellow flavors to be yummy in its own right, without outshining the salad.  Hope you give it a try…

Ingredients

Salmon Fillets

Lime Zest

Fresh Garlic

Honey

Dijon Mustard

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Panko Bread Crumbs

Canola Oil

Process

Start by heating a large skillet, over medium-high heat, with just a drizzle of oil.  Then, lay your salmon onto a few paper towels to soak up any excess moisture and season each fillet with some salt and pepper.  Next, grab a dish and zest one lime into it, add honey, mustard, and finely minced garlic.

037Stir it all up, then grab another dish and load it up with an excess of panko.  Now you can set up your breading station.  I usually do this in order of what goes on the protein first and end up at the pan.  In this case, that’s fish, honey mustard mixture, panko, and hot pan.

038Dip each salmon fillet into the honey mustard to thoroughly coat both sides.

040Then dip each fillet into the panko and lightly coat all sides.

041Tip:  Add your fillets one at a time to the hot pan as you bread them.  The breading only takes a few seconds and you don’t need to dirty up another dish.

042Get all your fish into the pan and allow the first side to reach a deep golden brown before flipping.  The second side will cook faster, so keep an eye on it.  The fish is done when it feels firm to the touch and the meat just flakes.  On fillets this size, by the time both sides are equally golden the fish will be cooked through.

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Serve up with a wedge of lime and ENJOY!

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Rockin’ Roasted Tomato Panzanella Salad

A couple weeks ago, my local Asian/Produce market had a gorgeous crop of vine-ripened tomatoes, at the awesome and rare price of 99 cents a pound.  Me being the lifelong tomato-lover that I am, I just could not pass up such a deal.  I loaded up about 4 pounds and set off to brainstorm on how to use them up before they went bad.  Now, I’ve wanted to try panzanella salad for a few years now, but never thought my husband would be very receptive to the wet bread thing…until now.  He has tried many, many new things in the past few years, and I’ve learned to simply not tell him what I’m making when I think he might put up a fight.  So, this time ’round, I knew I was gonna go for it.  Only problem was it was late March and quite chilly here in Jersey.  A cold tomato and bread salad just didn’t seem quite appropriate.  After a little more thought, I decided to roast the tomatoes, toast up the bread, and serve it at room temp.  The result, I must say, was the best thing I’ve made in a long time (yes, DH agrees) and I’m so glad that we photographed so that I can share it with all of you….it’s a must try!  When it gets a little warmer I plan to develop a summer panzanella so keep a look out for that in the coming months.

Ingredients

Vine-Ripened Tomatoes

Ciabatta Bread (stale is okay)

Fresh Garlic

Fresh Lime Juice (plus a couple tbsps. of zest)

Fresh Lemon Juice

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Red Onion

Fresh Parsley

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese (can also use parmesan, asiago, romano, etc.)

Process

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees, then cube your bread.

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Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss in the oven.

030Then cut your tomatoes into medium wedges.

033Toss in a baking dish, grate some garlic over the top, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Then pop ’em into the oven.

034While your bread toasts and your tomatoes roast, you can prepare the dressing.  Squeeze the juice of one lemon and one lime into a bowl, drizzle in some olive oil whisking while you do so (to emulsify or homogenize the liquid).

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Thinly slice some onion and finely chop the parsley, toss in the vinaigrette and season the whole mess with plenty of salt and pepper.  Stir it up, taste it, sniff it, and continue to season until your tastebuds are all tingly.

047When your bread is golden brown and the tomatoes are soft, bubbly, and brown, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes.

0501Toss the tomatoes into the dressing, with most of their juices.

051Your bread should look like this:

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Now toss that in, too.  Use your vegetable peeler to shave up a heaping pile of cheese shards then add to the salad.

053Now use your mitts or grab some salad spoons and toss up the whole thing until everything is well-combined.

054Be careful not to over mix, you don’t want it to be squishy, you just want everything to be coated in dressing.  Now, serve it up with some protein, and ENJOY!

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Simply Sinful Shrimpy Mac ‘n’ Cheese

About a month ago, I had a terrible craving for mac ‘n’ cheese.  Recipes were floating around all over the food blog circuit and I kept seeing it on TV.  I just couldn’t seem to get away from it!  So I attempted to whip some together, after work one day, and failed…pretty miserably.  I was rushed and I think I just wanted it too badly.  What I got was a decent tasting pasta dish, but it was not mac ‘n’ cheese, it was not ooey gooey and awesome, it was a little dry and just okay.  My craving was not satisfied.  I tried again last week, and I hit a home run.  I still didn’t really plan ahead so I had to work with what I had on hand…a great mixture of three cheeses, some wine, and frozen shrimp.  This is not a traditional, homey mac ‘n’ cheese, it’s rather gourmet and definitely more for the foodie crowd, so mac ‘n’ cheese traditionalists should beware.  My hubby and I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to make another batch.

Ingredients

A few of your fave Cheeses (I used Rosey Goat, Cheddar, and Parm)

Short-Cut Pasta (like elbows, penne, etc. I used whole wheat)

Milk

Dijon Mustard

White Wine

All-Purpose Flour

Shrimp (Frozen or Fresh)

Onion

Garlic

Nutmeg

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Kosher Salt

Butter

Process

First, set a large pot of water to boil for your pasta.  Then sautee enough shrimp to suit your fancy, in a large heated skillet.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until just pink.

003While the shrimp cooks, preheat your broiler and finely chop the onion and garlic.  You can also start bringing a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.  When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente (still a little firm).

0041When the shrimp is cooked through, remove from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan, melt a couple tablespoons of butter and add the onions and garlic.

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Cook until softened and sprinkle in a couple tablespoons of flour.  Season with salt and pepper and mix well, until flour is smooth.

0081Allow the roux to cook out for a few minutes.  While it does so, shred up a heaping pile of cheese.

002At this point, your shrimp should be cool enough to handle, and you can cut them up into bite size pieces (you can also leave them whole, I just think this dish eats better with the shrimp in smaller pieces).

007When the roux has darkened just a tad in color and no longer tastes pasty, you can begin adding liquid.  I started by adding in the wine.

0111Stir rapidly until everything smooths out and allow to come to a boil.  The alcohol must be cooked out before you add the milk, or the sauce will curdle.

0122Then add milk until sauce reaches desired amount and consistency.  Remember you want enough to coat all of your pasta and a little extra.

013Season with salt and pepper, add a dijon mustard to taste, and just a touch of nutmeg, bring to a boil.

015Next stir in all but a few tablespoons of the cheese and continue stirring until melted and completely incorporated.

016At this point, you should check your pasta for doneness, strain it when it’s ready, and return it to the pot.  Then stir your shrimp into the cheese sauce.

0171Pour the sauce into the pot of pasta and gently stir until every noodle is coated (note how I’m using two different pastas, this is not technique my friends, this is lack of planning…still tastes good though).

0181Add more seasoning if necessary, transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and pop into the broiler.

0192Remove from the broiler when the top is brown and bubbly.

0201Serve it up and indulge in this cheesy delight.

0222ENJOY!

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Tastemaker Review: Recchiuti Confections

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You can not get more gourmet than Recchiuti.  My friends over at FoodBuzz have outdone themselves once again, providing me with another product that I love more and more every time I indulge.  Hailing from San Francisco, owner, entrepreneur, and true chocolatier, Michael Recchiuti has created a product unlike anything I’ve ever tasted, and I have reason to believe that the incredibly addictive Asphalt Jungle Mix from his Dragee line is only the tip of the iceberg.

0221An unbelievably satisfying snack of balanced salty sweet nuggets and chewy, melty, and crunchy textures, it meets every demand of the tastebuds with smooth panacea and elegance.  My favorite are the burnt caramel hazelnuts and almonds.  The burnt caramel itself is a signature of Recchiuti.  From the first taste of these nuts, I was intrigued.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on what made them so delightful, but  after a quick visit to Recchiuti.com, it all made sense.  That perfect balance of salty sweetness came from the alluring flavor of delicately burnt caramel mixing with gently roasted nuts.  I couldn’t ask for anything more in a chocolatey treat, but Recchiuti has lots more to offer and for such an upscale, high-quality product, the prices aren’t too bad either.  The Dragees run at only 12 dollars for a 6 ounce box.  In fact, I may even order one of their many other selections.  Who could resist such innovative flavors as Rose Caramel, Bergamot Tea, and Tarragon Grapefruit?  Not me that’s for sure!  And, don’t even get me started on how badly I want to try their brownies!  I’ll be sure to let you know if I do.

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