Archive for April, 2011

Soba Noodle and Beef Stir Fry

Posted by: · Apr 30 2011 · Comments (2)

This dish is just as tasty as it is beautiful.  Full of fresh flavors with a fine balance of salt and sweet.


- 1.5 LB’s Beef Sirloin cut into ¼” slices

- 4 tablespoons plum sauce, available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores

- 2 tablespoons soy sauce

- ¼ cup chopped scallions

- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

- 5 carrots, shaved and julienned

- 8 ounces green beans, cleaned and ends trimmed

- 1.5 cups cabbage, roughly chopped

- 1 cup bean sprouts

- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

- 2 cloves minced garlic

- ¼ cup beef stock

- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce, available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores

- 1 tablespoon butter at room temperature

- 1 tablespoon flour

-10.5 ounce package buckwheat/soba noodles


Combine the beef, 2 tablespoons of the plum sauce, the soy sauce and the scallions in a bowl and cover. Marinate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package instruction.  Drain and toss with a touch of oil.

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large wok.  Add the carrots, green beans and cabbage.  Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in the ginger, garlic and bean sprouts.   Continue to cook for 2 minutes before adding the remaining 2 tablespoons of plum sauce, the beef stock and the sweet chili sauce.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer over low heat.  Mix the butter and flour together in a small bowl.  Whisk the flour/butter mixture into the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.

While the sauce is simmering, remove the meat from the refrigerator.  Heat a large sauté pan over medium- high heat and add the meat and the marinade.  Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Transfer the meat and the residual liquids in the pan to the wok. Fold the noodles into the wok as well. Increase the heat to medium-high heat and thoroughly toss the noodles with the sauce and the meat.  Spoon into bowls, top with some chopped scallions and serve.

Categories : Beef, Dinners, Pastas
Comments (2)

I took the picture of this dish the morning after preparation.  As I was re-heating it, my husband said, “nothing like shrimp dip for breakfast.”  This dip is wonderfully flavorful and so easy to prepare.  Serve with homemade chips to really impress your guests.



- ½ LB shrimp, shelled and deveined

- ½ teaspoon olive oil

- 2 cups cooked black beans

- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped

- ½ red onion, roughly chopped

- 1 jalapeno pepper, seed removed and roughly chopped

- 1 teaspoon salt

- Juice from half a lime

- 2 cups shredded Manchego cheese

- 1 cup sour cream


- 2 cups vegetable oil

- 10 whole wheat tortillas cut into pie shaped pieces

- Kosher salt

- 4 tablespoons cilantro

- Juice from ½ a lime


Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

In a medium sized sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp.  Stir frequently and cook until both sides of the shrimp are bright orange.  Remove the shrimp and roughly chop them.  Set aside.

Combine the beans, tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, salt and lime in a food processor.  Pulse for one minute then transfer the contents to a large bowl.  Fold in the cheese, sour cream and shrimp.  Pour the dip into an 8 x 8” casserole dish.  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

While the dip is baking make the chips.  Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Allow 5 minutes for the oil to heat to an appropriate frying temperature.  Carefully lower the tortilla pieces into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the chips from the oil.  Drain on a paper towel and season with a touch of salt, cilantro and lime juice.  Allow the chips to dry completely and serve along the dip.

Categories : Appetizers, Seafood
Comments (3)

By the time my husband and I got engaged our parents had still not met. We decided perhaps we should get them together.  After discussing a few meeting spots my father insisted we spend a weekend at his bird hunting club in southern Colorado.  The outdoors, hikes with dogs, late night chats by the fire- it seemed like a great idea.

Marc and Colby, my future in-laws, soon arrived in Colorado.  We quickly discovered that each party had appropriately named their meeting, “The Meet the Fockers Weekend.”  The impending question was which family would take home the title of “The Fockers?”

The weekend started off wonderfully.  The parents immediately hit it off.  The setting was spectacular and I was quite certain nothing could go wrong.  That was about the time that things swiftly went downhill.  The hunting dogs refused to hunt for anyone other than my dad and husband leaving Marc and I desperately trying to get in on the action.  Ellie the dog, our enthusiastic but horrible hunter, ran into the butt of Justin’s gun creating a huge gash on her forehead and forcing me to carry her back to the lodge as she wept like a baby.  Meanwhile, the moms were up to their own trouble. While hiking, my mom brushed up against an electric cow fence electrocuting herself to the point of losing bodily control.  She farted and out of embarrassment and inherent honesty she admitted her flatulence to my future-mother-in law. Stumbling to her feet from the shock that ripped through her body she said, “Oh my goodness, I think I just farted.”  They  immediately erupted into hysterical laughter and a friendship was born.   At night we ventured out to the only local restaurant.  We feasted on undercooked burgers and stale beer in the company of an over served county-western band and a group of fairly rowdy locals.  Not exactly the refined weekend I had imagined.  Despite the hiccups, we ended the weekend with a great story, two united families, many laughs and a clear winner of “The Fockers” crown.

The greatest gift from this weekend, however, was the friendship that spawned between the moms.   While we had brought them together, their similar qualities of kindness, humility and loyalty had made them pals.  When my mom fell ill with cancer years later and was hospitalized at MD Anderson in Houston, Colby came to visit.  The look on her face when Colby arrived was pure happiness.  Mom and Colby spent the afternoon alone – laughing, chatting and speaking to mom’s wishes for me if she should pass.  She wanted Colby to take care of me. From individually wrapping all my Christmas stalking presents like mom did, to letting me tell the same fond memories of my dad over and over to just being a good friend – Colby has no doubt taken care of me and I love her.  I know mom and dad are looking over me with ease and happiness knowing I have her.  Marc, my father-in-law, isn’t so bad either and turns out he is quite the hunter when the dogs cooperate.

So what does this story have to do with this meal?  Not much except that Colby cooked the ham and I needed a moment to reminisce.  Enjoy!

Serves 6



- I fresh loaf of whole grain bread, cut into ½” thick slices

- ½ LB Saint- Andre cheese cut into ¼” thick slices , can be bought at most grocery stores in the gourmet cheese section

- 8 slices honey baked ham

- Handful fresh spinach

- 1 tablespoon olive oil


- 10 ounces diced yellow cherry tomatoes (you can use red cherry tomatoes if yellow aren’t available)

- 1 shallot, diced

- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced

- 2 tablespoons brown sugar

-  ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar


Start with the chutney.  Combine the tomatoes, shallots, peppers, sugar, salt and vinegar in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer over low heat. Stir frequently until the ingredients thicken, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the ingredients to a bowl and refrigerate for 10 minutes before using.

Once the chutney is cooled, assemble the sandwiches.  One or two slices of ham, topped with a slice of cheese, a handful of spinach and a spoonful of the chutney.  Heat a grill pan over high heat.  Coat with the olive oil.  Place the sandwiches on the grill pan and cover.  Using a spatula flip the sandwiches over after 5 minutes, re-cover and continue to cook for 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Categories : Lunches, Pork, Sandwiches
Comments (7)

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

Posted by: · Apr 22 2011 · Comments (2)

These cookies are so good that I preemptively took Tylenol for the migraine that usually ensues  after I eat chocolate.  The migraine never came and the cookies, well let’s just say they were well worth the risk.

Makes 20 cookies


Chocolate Sauce

- 1 tablespoon butter

- 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

- ½ cup heavy whipping cream


- 2/3 cup shortening

- 2/3 cup peanut butter

- 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

- 1 cup tightly packed brown sugar

- 1 egg

- 1 teaspoon vanilla

- 1.5 cups all purpose flour

- 1.5 teaspoon baking powder


Pre-heat the oven to 375°.

Combine the flour and baking powder in a large bowl.

Combine the shortening and peanut butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fixed with a batter attachment.  Mix for one minute on medium speed.  Add the cream, sugar and vanilla and continue to mix until the egg is fully incorporated.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until you have a consistent dough.  Remove the bowl from the mixing stand and form the dough into silver dollar size balls.  Place the balls on a cookie sheet leaving 2 inches between each.  Gently press down on the balls with the back of a spatula until they reach ½” thickness.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 12 minutes.

While the cookies are baking make the chocolate sauce.  In a medium size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the chocolate and the cream and reduce the heat to low.  Stir until the chocolate is entirely melted and remove from the heat.

Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.  Cool for 2 minutes then use a slotted spoon to dip the cookies in the chocolate sauce, one by one.  Make sure to coat the top of the cookie with plenty of chocolate.  Remove from the chocolate sauce and allow residual chocolate to drip back into the pan.  Place the cookies on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.  Once all the cookies have been dipped in the chocolate sauce, transfer to the refrigerator to allow the chocolate sauce to harden.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve.

Categories : Desserts
Comments (2)

Veal and Orzo Meat Balls

Posted by: · Apr 21 2011 · Comments (0)

My initial name for this meal was, “Veal Balls.”  I quickly realized this name was not only unappetizing but also slightly obscene.  So I re-named it “Veal and Orzo Meat Balls.”  Much better.  Despite my earlier indiscretion, this dish is amazing!

Serves 4


- 1 12 ounce box orzo pasta

- 1 LB ground veal

- ¼ finely chopped parsley

- 2 eggs

- ½ cup grated parmesan

- 1.5 cups fresh bread crumbs from a French baguette

- 1 teaspoon salt

- 1 tablespoon truffle oil

- 2 tablespoons cream

- 2 tablespoon butter


Pre-heat the oven to 400°.

Cook the orzo according to the instructions on the box and drain.  Measure one cup of the cooked orzo and place in a large bowl along with the veal, parsley, eggs, parmesan, bread crumbs, salt and truffle oil.  Place the remaining orzo in a saucepan and toss with the cream and butter.  Cover the pan to keep warm.  Use clean hands to mix the contents of the bowl together. Form the mixture into gold ball size meatballs.  Place on a baking dish and transfer to the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes uncovered and remove from the oven.  Serve on top of the remaining orzo and enjoy!

Categories : Dinners, Pastas, Veal
Comments (0)

Grilled Mahi Mahi Sandwich with Rutabaga Chips

Posted by: · Apr 17 2011 · Comments (3)

Sometimes you just don’t need to overcomplicate a dish.  Give me a fresh piece of fish, some colorful vegetables and bacon and we have a meal.  This sandwich was pure bliss on this beautiful Chicago Sunday.  Full of flavor, crunch and just wonderfulness.

Serves 4


- 6 large rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1/8” slices

- 4 cups vegetable oil

- Kosher salt

- 2 LB’s Mahi Mahi fillets skin on, about 4 fillets

- Juice of half a lemon

- 7 ounces cooked Canadian bacon

- 1 large red onion, cut into 4’s

- 4 French rolls

- Handful fresh butter lettuce

- Light Mayonnaise


Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.   Once the oil is noticeably spitting, carefully lower a handful of rutabaga slices into the oil with a slotted spoon.  Cover with a grease screen and cook until browned and crispy, about 10 minutes per batch.  Once done, remove the chips with the slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel to drain.  Sprinkle with a touch of kosher salt and set aside on a cooling rack to dry.

While the chips are drying, heat your grill to medium heat.   Season the fish with a dash of salt and the lemon juice.   Thread the onion slices on a metal skewer.   Grill the fish for 5 minutes on each side or until opaque.  Concurrently grill the onions for 2 minutes per side, remove from the grill and skewer and place in a bowl for later.

Place the Canadian bacon on the grill and cook for 2 minutes per side or until grill marks appear on the meat.  While doing this quickly grill the buns on the grill until just slightly crunchy.  Remove the buns, the fish and the bacon.

Remove the skin from the fish and assemble one fillet on a bun, topped with a piece of the Canadian bacon, a few grilled onions, lettuce and mayonnaise.  Serve with a handful of chips and eat up!

Comments (3)

Three Cheese and Shiitake Mac

Posted by: · Apr 14 2011 · Comments (3)

This one definitely goes down in the books.  The mushrooms add a subtle smokiness combined with a slight sweetness from the bread crumbs.  Delectable!

Serves 6-8


- 14.5 ounce box macaroni

- 1 tablespoon olive oil

- 2 tablespoons butter

- 2 tablespoons flour

- 2 cups half and half

- 3 cups white cheddar cheese

- ¼ cup goat cheese

- ½ cup gorgonzola

- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms sliced and stem on

- 1.5 teaspoons salt

- 3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

- 1 cup fresh brioche bread crumbs


Pre-heat oven to 350°.

Cook the macaroni in a large pot according to the directions on the box and drain.  Return the macaroni to the pot and toss with the olive oil.

In a medium size saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the half and half and increase the heat to medium.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in the cheeses until fully melted and incorporated into the half and half.   Fold in the mushrooms, parsley and salt.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, mix and transfer to a 9x 13” casserole dish.  Spread the bread crumbs on top and place in the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crusty.  Cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Categories : Dinners, Pastas
Comments (3)

Pineapple Wrapped Skirt Steak with Cabbage Salad

Posted by: · Apr 12 2011 · Comments (0)

This meal was a fantastic treat.  Rather than tossing the pineapple skin in the trash, I decided to wrap it around the meat to make for a super juicy and flavorful meal.

Serves 4



- 1 LB skirt steak

- 1 pineapple

- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

- ½ teaspoon salt

- ½ cup roughly chopped thick cut pancetta


- 2 tablespoons olive oil

- 2 cups roughly chopped red cabbage

- 4 ounces water chestnuts

- 4 ounces baby corn

- 2 ounces bamboo shoots

- 1 cup chopped pineapple

- ¼ cup roughly chopped thick cut pancetta

- ½ teaspoon salt

- ¼ cup beef stock

- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce


Pre-heat the oven to 400°.

Cut the top and the base off the pineapple.  Make one ½” slight along the length of one side of the pineapple.  Start at the slit and cut the pineapple skin off in one large piece from the inner fruit.  You will have a piece of skin in the shape of a rectangle.  Reserve the interior fruit for the salad.  Lay the pineapple skin on a large baking dish with the prickly side facing down.   Place the meat lengthwise on top of and in the center of the skin.  Fold up any of the meat that is hanging over the end of the pineapple skin.  Season the meat with the salt and ginger and sprinkle the pancetta on top.  Pull the long edges of the pineapple skin around the meat and use cooking string to tightly secure the pineapple.  You will have something that resembles the shape and size of pork tenderloin.  Transfer the dish to the oven and cook for 15 minutes.  Use tongs to flip and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cut into 1” slices along the width of the pineapple and meat.  Drizzle each slice with the juices from the baking dish.

While the meat is cooking make the salad.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan.  Add the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes or until the bulk of the cabbage reduces by half.  Fold in the water chestnuts, baby corn, bamboo shoots, pineapple, pancetta and the remaining salt.  Continue to cook for 4 minutes.  Finally, add the stock and the hoisin sauce.  Stir thoroughly and let cook for 2 more minutes.

Serve the salad alongside the pineapple-meat slices and enjoy!   One note, I don’t suggest eating the pineapple skin, just the meat inside.

Categories : Beef, Dinners
Comments (0)

Seafood Skewers with Cheddar Stuffed Peppers

Posted by: · Apr 11 2011 · Comments (1)

Let grilling season commence!  I love skewers, but often find I am itching for a little more flavor. Here I added chesse stuffed sweet peppers for a welcome hint of creaminess.



- ¾ LB large shrimp, deveined and shelled

- ¾ LB scallops

- 2 tablespoons olive oil

- ¼ teaspoon salt

- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

-  Juice from one lime

Everything Else

- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

- 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

- 1/3 cup goat cheese

- 1 clove garlic, minced

- 1 pint mini sweet peppers

- ½ red onion, cut into 1” pieces

- 10 cremini mushrooms

- 10 tomatillos


Combine the ingredients listed under “marinade” in a large bowl, thoroughly coating the shrimp and scallops.  Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining cilantro, the cheeses and garlic in a medium sized bowl.  Cut a slit along the length of each pepper.  Clean out the seeds and stuff with a large spoonful of the cheese.  Close the peppers shut around the cheese.

Pre-heat the grill over medium heat.

Remove the seafood from the refrigerator.  Thread the shrimp, scallops, stuffed peppers, mushrooms, onion and tomatillos on large metal skewers.  Grill for 3 minutes, flip and continue to grill for three minutes.  Serve immediately.

Categories : Dinners, Seafood
Comments (1)

Edamame and Pistachio Salmon Salad

Posted by: · Apr 07 2011 · Comments (3)

I created this dish for dinner last night and I must say that I was quite pleased with myself.  The pistachios and edmamae go wonderfully with the salmon and make for a 20 minute meal with excellent texture and flavor.  Serve on couscous or on a toasted roll.

Serves 6


- 2 LB’s salmon fillets, about 3 fillets

- ½ cup pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped

- 1 cup edamame beans, shelled

- 2 teaspoons store bought fish sauce, can be found in the Asian section of most grocery store

- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

- ½ cup light mayonnaise

- Salt


Pre-heat oven to 400°.

Place the fish on a baking dish, skin side facing down.  Sprinkle each fillet with a dash of salt. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the fish is flakey.  Remove the fish from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Remove the skin from the fish and discard.  Place the fish in a large bowl and gently use a fork to pull the fish apart into medium size flakes.  Fold in the pistachios, edamame, fish sauce, rice vinegar and mayonnaise.  Season with salt to your desired taste.  Serve immediately or stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice, cover and refrigerate for later use.

Categories : Dinners, Lunches, Salads, Seafood
Comments (3)