Monday, June 2, 2008

New Blog...

I just wanted to update everyone with our new family blog. With so many things going on in our lives that aren't related to Cooking, I decided to start a generic family blog for Ben and I. I kept a link to this blog there, but check out Staffordville for all the latest happenings with us!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A date night out at the theater!

Ben gave me tickets to see CATS for our first anniversary and Christmas this year. We thought about going somewhere really nice for dinner, but I'd hate to be rushed or late to one of my favorite. So we decided to make a fancy extra special dinner at home. I made NY Strips with Cabernet Sauce, Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Marscapone, Balsamic Browned-Butter Asparagus and Chocolate dipped Strawberries for dessert. The steak recipe calls for Filet Mignon, but Ben found NY Strips that looked really good, so I used them in stead. This was the first time I've ever made Risotto or used dried mushrooms. This recipe was actually in Cooking Light's Best of 20 Years Issued (Sept 2007) as the best rice dish...I can believe it!

We had a wonderful night...the show was fantastic, even Ben liked it. I dressed the part with my leapord print pencil skirt and fur trimmed's so fun! I included a picture of us before the show. This was definitely a fancy date night and the food was just as good as anything we could have paid for in a restaurant, but tons cheaper too!

Filet Mignon with Cabernet Sauce (Cooking Light)

Cooking spray
4 (4-ounce) filet mignon steaks
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup cabernet sauvignon
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons butter

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of steaks evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add steaks to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan. Add shallots to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in vinegar and soy sauce, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates, stirring constantly. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, wine, and broth; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 11 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter. Serve with steaks.

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Marscapone (Cooking Light)

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 ounce)
1 (14-ounce) can less-sodium beef broth
Cooking spray
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine 1 1/2 cups boiling water and mushrooms; let stand 10 minutes or until soft. Drain through a colander over a bowl. Reserve 1 1/4 cups soaking liquid; chop mushrooms.

Bring reserved soaking liquid and broth to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep broth mixture warm over low heat.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add rice, shallots, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine; cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes).
Add 1 cup broth mixture to rice mixture; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Add mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano and mascarpone cheeses, thyme, salt, and pepper; stir gently just until cheeses melt. Serve warm.

Balsamic Browned-Butter Asparagus (Cooking Light)

4 pounds fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup butter
4 teaspoons lite soy sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus.

Arrange asparagus evenly on a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat.

Bake asparagus at 400° for 15 minutes or just until tender.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes or until butter is lightly browned. Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over asparagus, tossing to coat. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dinner Tonight!

I love this section of Cooking Light. They are always really quick and easy without a ton of ingredients. This month featured Tilapia. All three menu's looked amazing, but this one looked exceptionally good. The fish is pan-seared and a warm citrus vinaigrette is made to drizzle on top of the fish. For quick sides I made coucous and Lemony Asparagus.

Pan-Seared Tilapia with Citrus Vinaigrette (Cooking Light)

Cooking spray
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle fish evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add 2 fillets to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining fillets.

Add white wine to pan; cook 30 seconds or until liquid almost evaporates. Combine shallots and remaining ingredients, stirring well with a whisk; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add shallot mixture to pan; sauté 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Place 1 fillet on each of 4 plates; top each serving with about 3 tablespoons sauce.

4 servings

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 215(31% from fat); FAT 7.4g (sat 1.6g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 34.5g; CHOLESTEROL 85mg; CALCIUM 24mg; SODIUM 357mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 1.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 2.9g

A Little Old....A Little New

This wasn't really a New Year's Resolution, but with the New Year I wanted to start trying some new ingredients in my recipes and cooking. There are so many recipes I probably skip over just because I'm not familiar with the ingredient. So already I've already added Cardamom, Unprocessed Bran, Butternut Squash and Leeks to my list. Sunday evening (my big cooking day) I used turnips and Gruyère cheese as my something new ingredients. I saw a recipe for Turnip-Gruyère Gratin in the new Cooking Light and it caught my eye, which is unusual since it didn't have a picture. I'm a very visual person and typically only make recipes with pictures...hence my love of photographing food! I also decided to try a new Meatloaf recipe made with oatmeal rather than breadcrumbs.

The turnips were quite tasty. They sort of taste like a cross between and potato and onion. The gratin also has potatoes and the dish turned out a little like scalloped potatoes. The meatloaf was very good and worthy of the 5 stars the reviewers gave it on Cooking Light. After reading the reviews I decided to use 2 whole eggs rather than 2 egg whites to keep the loaf together. Also, I didn't have enough ketchup, so I used bbq sauce too. I have a loaf pan and used it, but the recipe uses a roasting pan instead. Next time, I'll shape into a loaf and use the pan, which will help reduce the fat that collects on top. I also steamed fresh broccolini then pan roasted it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper.

Home-Style Meat Loaf (Cooking Light)

3/4 cup ketchup, divided
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup minced fresh onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 1/2 pounds ground round
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine 1/2 cup ketchup, oats, and next 6 ingredients (oats through egg whites) in a large bowl. Add meat; stir just until blended. Shape meat mixture into an 8 x 4-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Brush 1/4 cup ketchup over meat loaf. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

6 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 242(28% from fat); FAT 7.5g (sat 2.6g,mono 3.1g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 27.2g; CHOLESTEROL 70mg; CALCIUM 21mg; SODIUM 527mg; FIBER 1.4g; IRON 3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.5g

Turnip-Gruyère Gratin (Cooking Light)

1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Cooking spray
1 cup fat-free milk, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
3 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425°.

Place turnips in a large saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add potatoes to pan, and simmer for 8 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Drain. Sprinkle turnips and potatoes evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and arrange slices in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine 1/4 cup milk, flour, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme in a medium saucepan, and stir with a whisk until well blended. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup milk, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook over medium heat for 7 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and add Gruyère cheese, stirring until smooth. Pour cheese mixture over turnip and potato slices, and toss gently.
Combine seasoned breadcrumbs and butter; sprinkle over turnip mixture. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

6 servings

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 166(24% from fat); FAT 4.5g (sat 2.6g,mono 1.2g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 6.1g; CHOLESTEROL 13mg; CALCIUM 189mg; SODIUM 372mg; FIBER 2.9g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 25.8g

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside...

There is nothing like a hot thick soup to warm you up on a Snow Day. Today for lunch, I made Golden Winter Soup...the feature of this month's Cooking Light. Besides cutting up the butternut squash, which was quite a challenge, it couldn't be easier. This soup is very very filling and makes 8 servings...perfect for our lunches next week. The recipe includes french-guyere toasts. I also saw a salad in Cooking Light, but was pretty labor intensive as a side salad. So I bought mixed spinach salad, dried cranberries, walnuts, shallots and a raspberry-walnut vinegarette. My only change to the soup was using fat-free half and half. Next time I'll probably use a low-fat to give it more flavor, but I really don't think you need the full-fat half and half.

Golden Winter Soup (Cooking Light)

2 tablespoons butter
5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium)
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
12 ounces baguette, cut into 16 slices
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
3 tablespoons chopped chives
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Preheat broiler.

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Stir in half-and-half. Cover and keep warm.

Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil bread slices 2 minutes or until golden. Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with about 1 teaspoon chives. Serve 2 bread slices with each serving. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Snow Day...Baking Day!

There is nothing I love more on a Snow Day than being trapped inside with no where to go and baking and cooking all day. While this wasn't exactly the winter storm the weather channel was predicting, I still used it a good day to clear my schedule and cook all day. For breakfast I made another recipe from my new Weight Watchers Complete Cookbook...Jumbo Bran Muffins. A muffin with a cup of hot chocolate was the perfect thing to start our lazy day off with. I didn't have a jumbo muffin pan, so I made 12 regular size muffins instead. These muffins were pretty good...very filling with all the bran and whole wheat flour...3 points each. They are quite dense. I used cranberries instead of golden raisins, but either will work. The unprocessed bran can be found on the baking aisle beside the flour.

Jumbo Bran Muffins

2 tablespoons + 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups unprocessed bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup fat-free buttermilk
2/3 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray non-stick muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with foil or paper liners.

To make the crumb topping, in a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour and the brown sugar. With a pastry blender, cut into the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the walnuts.

In a large bowl, combine the bran, whole wheat flour, the remaining 1/4 cup all purpose flour, the baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, with an electric mixture on medium speed, beat the egg, egg whites, sugar and molasses until blended. Gradually beat in the buttermilk. Gradually add the bran mixture, mixing on low speed until just blended. Stir in the raisins.

Spoon the batter into muffin cups, fill each about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with the crumb topping. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Cook in the pan for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Real Christmas Gift!

For 4 years now I have made homemade truffles and given them out at Christmas gifts to family and friends. I think the first year I made one batch...this past Christmas I made approximately 175 truffles. Many people have asked me for the recipe because they simply can not get enough of here it is! This is my basic recipe..make sure good quality chocolate such as Ghiradelli. After I roll the truffles, I dip them in chocolate and drizzle them with colored chocolate. I use Wilton's Candy Melts to dip them, which you can get at Michaels. Don't worry this isn't a replacement for your Christmas gifts from us...I still plan on making them each Christmas and I might experiment with an assortment of truffle flavors! ENJOY!

Chocolate Espresso Truffles

2 pound semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened cocoa

Coarsely chop both chocolates and set aside. Heat the cream and instant coffee in a large saucepan, stirring to blend. When bubbles start to form along the edge of the pan, remove from heat. Scatter the chocolate over the cream, stirring gently until melted. Set aside for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the liqueur and vanilla. Stir gently, just until evenly blended. Scrape the chocolate into a shallow bowl. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or up to 1 week. Using a teaspoon or a melon baller, scoop up enough chocolate to make balls 1 inch in diameter. Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll the balls in the cocoa, shaking off the excess, then transfer to wax paper until ready to serve. Best when served at room temperature.

Yield: Makes about 4 dozen truffles

CALORIES 70(71% from fat); FAT 6g (sat 3g); PROTEIN 1mg; CHOLESTEROL 7mg; CALCIUM 7mg; SODIUM 3mg; FIBER 1g; CARBOHYDRATE 7g; IRON 1mg