Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A few of my favorite things.

Hello friends,

Happy 2012! I have no excuses but to apologize for my absence during the semester from Hell. Although I have not posted in a number of months, no need to fret. I have still been cooking up a storm. I just have not taken pictures, or blogged, or done anything remotely to document it. But, I am back with a string of my Mom's old recipes and three new cookbooks from Christmas. Also, a schedule that is not quite so jam packed.

So while my camera charges and my mind buzzes with new recipes, I have listed a few of my favorite recipes from the last few months. Armed with a new lettuce spinner, fondue pot, and avocado peeler, I can tell 2012 is going to be a good year.

1. Oatmeal Nutella Cookies- I brought these to a party earlier in the fall and they were a BIG hit. By BIG hit, I mean that I ate the majority of them. I guess other people liked them too.

What ya need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup Nutella

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup quick cooking oats

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

What ya do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.

Using a mixer, cream butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add in white and brown sugar and cream until light and fluffy. About 3-4 minutes.

With mixer on low speed, add in the egg and vanilla. Then add the Nutella. Mix until well incorporated.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Increase speed to medium and mix until well combined.

Refrigerate dough for about 20- 30 minutes.

Scoop dough using cookie scoop, and spread about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 7-9 minutes, or 6-7 minutes if dough was not refrigerated.

2. Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

What ya need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)

2 cups heavy cream

3 lemons

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound dried fusilli pasta

½ pound baby arugula (or 2 bunches of regular arugula, stems removed and leaves cut into thirds)

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

What ya do:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 60 seconds, then add the cream, the zest and juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta and cook al dente according to the directions about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and return to pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes until the pasta has absorbed most of the sauce. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl and add the Arugula, Parmesan and tomatoes. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4 –inch thick crosswise and add a few slices to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste and serve hot.

3. Our Sweet Cate’s Favorite Chicken Piccata (Okay, my Mom wrote this...)

What ya need:

4 split (2 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 extra-large eggs

1 ½ cups seasoned dried bread crumbs

Good olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

Lemon halves reserved

½ cup dry white wine

Sliced lemon, for serving

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

What ya do:

Preheat oven to 400. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound it out to ¼-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2teaspoon pepper on a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the eggs and 1 tablespoon water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in flour, shake off excess, and then dip in the egg and bread-crumb mixtures.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan while you cook the rest of the chicken. Heat more olive oil in the sauté pan and cook the second 2 chicken breast. Place them on the same sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the sauté pan with a dry paper towel. On medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, white wine, the reserved lemon halves, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves. Serve one chicken breast on each plate, spoon on the sauce, and serve with sliced lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Bon appetito.

4. White Wine Cake

(This is the best thing you will ever eat in your life)

What ya need:


1 box yellow cake mix (without pudding)

3.4 oz. Instant vanilla pudding mix

3/4-cup water

3/4-cup oil

1/2-cup wine (Gallo Rhine wine or any white wine)

4 eggs

1/4-cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

Pecan pieces (optional)

What ya do:

Mix everything together with mixer. If pecans are used, stir them in last. Cook at 325 degrees for 1 hour in a greased and floured tube pan.

What ya need:


3/4-stick butter

3/4 cup white sugar.

1/4 cup wine

What ya do:

Boil and pour over cake immediately after it's taken from the oven. Let stand for an hour or more. Turn over onto cake plate.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

5. Quinoa Lettuce Wraps (original recipe)

What ya need:

1/2 dry quinoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup yellow tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion
1 avocado
6-8 Lettuce leaves (Boston, Escarole, or Romaine)
1 TBL olive oil
1 TBL lemon juice
Salt and Peppa

What ya do:

Combine water and quinoa in a pot. Heat until boiling, and then cover and let simmer for 15 minutes (or until water is absorbed). Meanwhile, chop up onion, tomatoes, and avocado.

Once quinoa has absorbed all water, turn off heat and add chopped vegetables to quinoa. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Add to quinoa and mix well. Spoon quinoa mixture onto lettuce leaf wrap, and enjoy!

Happy 2012 everyone, happy eating!

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