Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sweet and Crispy Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Grilled Corn on the Cob

Tonight was my first time cooking on the grill this season! We won't talk about how I wasn't paying attention when I was cooking my chicken on some maple planks and accidentally started it on fire *gasp*. I guess next time I will make sure to not leave it unattended and keep a closer eye on the temperature. grrrrr! It all worked out in the end anyways and I got a good laugh out of it.

I had some really good looking tomatoes in the fridge and decided that I should roast them up! They turned out amazing!! Roasted tomatoes are super sweet and delicious on their own, but when you add Panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese to the mix it is out of this world!

Sweet and Crispy Oven Roasted Tomatoes
  • 5 roma tomatoes (be sure to pick nice firm tomatoes), sliced in half and seeds removed
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • 10 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
  • shaved parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Not only does this help with texture, but it also makes a little well for the panko and parmesan.

Drizzle the tomatoes with a little olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper and a little Italian seasoning (you don't need to measure it, just give it a little dusting).

Roast the tomatoes in the oven for 10 minutes. While the tomatoes are roasting, add the panko to a small dish with two tablespoons of olive oil and stir to combine. Top each tomato half with one tablespoon of the panko mixture, return the pan to the oven and roast for an additional 10 minutes.

Now you can give them each a little pinch of parmesan cheese and stick them back in the oven for about 2 minutes to let the cheese melt.

Now let's talk about corn on the cob for a second. I know that a lot of people boil it on the stove, but I have always cooked my corn this way and it comes out really good! This is in no way a "recipe", but I thought I'd share.

Soak the corn on the cob in a sink of cold water for a minimum of one hour. You MUST do this. If you don't your corn will start on fire and that would not be a good thing! After the corn has soaked you can put it on the grill over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Occasionally give it a turn on the grill, but it is essentially zero maintenance.

The outside will look pretty charred, but the corn on the inside is perfectly beautiful and is steaming away in there! If you aren't sure if it is done you can just poke at it with your fingertip (carefully of course) and see if it feels like it has softened up. Once it is done, take it off the grill and let it cool down in the husks for a few minutes. You don't want to burn yourself while you peel them off. I usually just take a nice sharp knife and cut both end of the corn off and the husk can easily come right off with little effort. This also leaves a nice smooth surface to stick the corn holders in the ends of the corn. Now just give it a little butter, salt and pepper and enjoy!

I served these with some BBQ chicken. No recipe for this chicken, it was just store bought BBQ sauce with some added minced garlic. I seared both sides for 2 minutes and then cooked it over a very low heat on the grill for about 35 minutes.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Herbed Ricotta Bruschetta

Thursday nights in my house are made for relaxing and watching tv. Yep, that's right I admit to being a full on couch potato on Thursday nights. It truly is my guilty pleasure. I wanted to have a snack for tonight so I started looking through some cookbooks to see what I could find that would be quick and easy.

I was having a little difficulty coming up with a recipe that didn't have any special ingredients that would send me rushing out to the store.

I finally came up with a super easy recipe from Ina Garten's cookbook: How Easy is That?

This entire recipe took about 2 minutes to make the dip and then just a few more minutes to toast up the bread for the bruschetta.

  • 1 loaf french baguette, sliced on a slight angle
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese ( I used part skim)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chives, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dill, minced
  • 3 scallions, minced
  • 1 clove garlic
Mix the ricotta with all the herbs, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Slice the bread, brush with a little olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast in a 450 degree oven until lightly toasted. Rub the toast with the garlic and then top with the ricotta mixture.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grilled Flank Steak with Tapenade and Oven Roasted Potatoes

The weather is finally starting to warm up in Upstate NY!!! I was super psyched to use my grill for the first time today. I had everything ready to go and then went outside and realized that the propane tank was empty!!!! grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Talk about a fail on my part. Doesn't this happen basically every.single.year the first time I try to grill? Will I ever learn? I guess not. Luckily for me I have my nifty little indoor grill that came to the rescue.

I found a variation of this recipe in the May 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine. I always find a few recipes worth making in every issue. This was such an incredible meal for a nice warm spring day. It was delicious hot and just as good cold! Make sure to visit your butcher for a good quality flank steak and you will not be disappointed!

Grilled Flank Steak with Tapenade and Oven Roasted Potatoes

  • 1 pound flank steak
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (I bought them already pitted to save me some work!)
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary, pulled off the stem
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • fresh parsley
Preheat grill on high heat.

In a food processor pulse the olives, shallot, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the juice of half of the lemon. Season lightly with salt and pepper. The olives already have plenty of salt in them so go easy.

Using a fork pierce the entire surface of the flank steak and then season it with salt and pepper.

Spread 1 tablespoon of the olive tapenade over the steak and allow it to marinate for at least 10 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the rest of the olive mixture with the parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice from the other half of the lemon. You can drizzle this mixture over the steak after it is cooked.

Place the steak on the grill and cook for 7 minutes on each side. This will give you a medium rare steak. I actually cooked mine slightly longer on each side (maybe an additional minute each) to bring it to medium (160 degrees).

Allow the steak to rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing. This is VERY important. If you don't let it rest you will have a dry piece of meat. Slice the meat against the grain into strips. I served mine over the basic greens and drizzled the tapenade over the top of the steak.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

  • 1 pound small red skin potatoes
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, pulled of the stems and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup red onion, cut into a large dice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Cut the potatoes in half (or quarters if they are bigger potatoes) and place in a large ziplock bag. Add the olive oil, chopped rosemary, onions, garlic, parsley and tomatoes to the bag. You can prepare this in the morning and keep it in the refrigerator so all you have to do later is throw it on a pan, season with the salt and pepper and bake it.

Bake the potatoes for 10 minutes and then flip them on the pan. Continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through and lightly golden.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Brunch

Easter didn't turn out to be everything I had hoped for this year. Bryan and I spent 5 hours in the hospital emergency room with our daughter instead of enjoying time with the family. Thankfully I had planned ahead and made a few casseroles the night before and Easter brunch went off without a hitch. I have made french toast casserole a few times in the past on Easter, but this year I went with Paula Dean's recipe because it just looked too good to resist! I am SO happy that I made it!!! What a treat it was! Definitely not something I'll be making on a regular basis (I did just lose 16 pounds of baby weight!), but it is certainly something I will make again in the future on special occasions.

Our Easter Brunch menu:

French Toast Casserole



Bagels & Cream Cheese

(see those lovely jalapeno and cheddar bagels?! they were amazing!)

Other menu items not pictured were: Banana Bread, maple sausage, honey ham and deviled eggs.

Here is the recipe for Paula Dean's French Toast Casserole:

  • 1 loaf french bread
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • a dash of salt
  • praline topping (see below)
Slice the french bread into 20 slices that are approximately 1 inch each. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish and arrange the bread in two overlapping rows (I actually used a slightly larger pan and made three rows for mine).

In a large bowl, combine eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Whisk until it is well blended.

Pour the egg mixture over the bread slices and spoon some of the egg in between any overlapping slices so everything is coated. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Make the praline topping.

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
I stuck the butter in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds just to take the chill out of it. You do not want to melt it!!

Roughly chop the pecans

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a spoon, making sure it is blended well. Use a plastic spatula and spread the praline topping over the entire casserole.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the topping is bubbly and the french toast puffs up!

Paula says to serve this with maple syrup, but it was plenty sweet on its own!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Veggie Frittata

I *love* frittatas! They are so quick and easy, not to mention that you can change out the ingredients to whatever you happen to be in the mood for. It really is a versatile food because you can eat it hot, cold or room temperature and serve it for basically any meal of the day. Can you tell that I'm a fan? ;)

Veggie Frittata

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 a green bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
  • 4 scallions, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons basil and roasted garlic Chavrie Goat Cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Slice the peppers and chop the scallions. If you prefer to use different veggies, go for it! This is just what I happened to be in the mood for. If you like mushrooms, add them! If you want tomatoes, throw some in! Add what you like and don't over think it.

Whisk the eggs and add all the spices. Set aside.

Heat a non stick and oven proof skillet over a medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of butter. Please, please, please make sure your skillet is oven proof! You don't want to make that mistake. If you have a plastic handle then it is unlikely to be ovenproof. You will not like the smell of melting plastic wafting through your house.

Once the butter is melted, add the peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes. They don't have to be cooked all the way, we just want to give them a head start. When the peppers are close to done, add the scallions and cook for another minute.

Pour the egg mixture over the top of the veggies.

This is where the goat cheese comes into play.

Break up little pieces of the goat cheese in your fingers and dot it all over the top of the frittata. You can use as much or as little as you want.

Cook the frittata for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Do not stir your eggs or touch them in any way! :) I know it is hard not to, but leave them alone and let the base of your frittata take shape. You will notice that it will start to slightly pull away from the sides around the 4 minute mark. You can gently peek with a rubber spatula to see how the bottom looks. It should be a golden brown color. The top will still have some raw egg, but it won't be a lot. This is when you want to put it in the oven to let the top cook up.

Bake the frittata for 10-12 minutes or until there is no longer any uncooked egg remaining on top. Serve hot or cold! You can even serve it with a little sour cream (even fat free sour cream tastes great with it).

Slide it out of the pan and onto a serving plate

Cut into wedges and serve hot or cold! You can even serve it with a little sour cream (even fat free sour cream tastes great with it).