Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Date Night--March 25, 2015

I know it's late.  I know I didn't post last week.  I will say about last week that we had a very nice date night...filet mignon, potatoes, green beans and chocolate chip cheesecake bars.  It was delicious.  I couldn't post picture or recipes because some were being tested for an upcoming anniversary dinner that I'm planning.  I couldn't give away any of my secret plans, now could I.

This week, at the end of a very busy day, I've prepared what I hope is an excellent meal.  I took lots (I mean LOTS) of pics during prep.

Here goes...


Manhattans.  You might think we'd get tired of them, but it hasn't happened yet.


Bruschetta Pull Apart Bread

I totally mad the up but it sounds real doesn't it.

Check out the pics and then I'll try to explain.

This is what it looks like before it gets wrapped in foil and baked.
You can see from this angle that the bread is sliced on a diagonal in both directions.  The cuts don't go all the way through, the "pull apart" aspect.

 I made a version of this last week and Josh called it the best bruschetta he'd ever had.  Mostly, I think, because the tomatoes didn't fall all over him.  I changed this up a little.  I hope it passes muster.


Sausage, Pepper, Onion, Spinach, Pasta bake

I made this one up too.  Inspired by many recipes, but based on what I had and desired.  I will show you the pictures and confess that I built this entirely backwards. Classically you saute the aromatics (onion, garlic, seasoning first) then add the other vegetables, then the meat.

Hot Turkey Sausage. 

Red and Green Bell Peppers

2 onions 

Ronzoni Smart Taste Penne.  Cooked 3 minutes shy of al-dente because it will cook more as it bakes.

Frozen, chopped spinach cooked and well drained (squeezed all the water out)

Veggies all mixed in.  The colors or the Italian flag.

Stir in the cooked pasta

Add 4 cups of homemade tomato sauce and tiny balls of mozzarella.  YUM!

Transferred to a baking dish and topped with more cheese.

With this ooey gooey cheese pasta, I am serving a cool and crisp Cucumber salad.

To these thinly sliced cucumbers I added a large shallot sliced and a simple vinaigrette.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Date Night--Wednesday, March 11, 2015

First off...Spring has Sprung!!!  I opened windows (okay window) today.  I'm ignoring the little patch of snow that is still on my deck.

Now to Date Night.  Actually happening on Wednesday!  Happened with a plan.  Mostly.  Some things got ad libbed and altered as the day progressed. 

So I'll start at the beginning. Of the evening that is.  I made dessert first.  :-)

Cocktails and Appetizers

Josh and I had discussed Martinis and I liked that idea.  A lot actually.  And then I went outside.  And the sun was shining and it was, dare I say it, actually a little warm.  I found myself wanting something with St. elderflower liqueur.

Well that is what the webber-net is for, isn't it?  Quick search yielded an Elderflower Gin Fizz.  Exactly what I was looking forward.  Done and done!

To pair with it?  I bought this very fancy goat cheese-crandberry-port terrine looking thing at the market today.  I also bought a new varietal of apple out of France (how fancy).  It's called Tentation.  I already had some yummy dried figs and crackers with cranberries and hazelnuts in them.  Some combination of all of that will pair nicely with our drinks.  At least I hope so.

Main Course

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken (or Slow Cooker Italian Lemon Chicken---I found it both ways)

  1. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 3-4 Large boneless, skinless Chicken breasts, cut into 3rds
  3. 1/4 cup butter
  4. 1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing/seasoning mix
  5. 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  6. 1/2 cup chicken broth
  7. salt and pepper

  1. Rinse the chicken pieces with water, and then lightly coat them in the flour. Set aside.
  2. Plug in crock pot and turn setting to Low heat.
  3. Heat 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add half of the flour-coated chicken pieces. (You don’t want to over-crowd the pan, so you’ll cook the chicken in two batches) Season with salt and pepper. Cook chicken for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown,on each side.
  4. (You’re not cooking the chicken all the way, just getting a golden-brown crust)
  5. Remove chicken from skillet and place in crock pot.
  6. Add the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter in skillet, and cook the remaining flour-coated chicken pieces on each side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove chicken from skillet and place in crock pot.
  7. Sprinkle the Italian dressing/seasoning mix evenly over the chicken. Pour the lemon juice and chicken broth over the tops. Cover with lid, and cook on low heat for 3 hours.
  8. Either serve chicken pieces whole or shredded, with the lemon sauce/broth. Enjoy!

Instead of 1/4 c butter I used 2 T of light butter and 1.5 T of EVOO.

Side Dish(es)

We had rice the last two nights.  And pasta on Sunday.  It had to be potatoes tonight, right?

Garlic Roasted Potatoes with Cilantro and Lemon

2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds small red skin potatoes, quartered
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees and prepare baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil coated in cooking spray.
  2. Combine garlic and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.
  3. Place quartered potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle garlic oil over them. Toss to coat the potatoes.
  4. Arrange potatoes on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown; toss halfway through cook time. Remove from oven and place into serving dish.
  6. Combine reserved garlic, Cilantro, and lemon rind. Sprinkle mixture evenly over potatoes. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

I wasn't really in a cilantro place so I'm using thyme.  I wanted broccoli to represent at the green veggie, but the garlic oil and the gremalata for the potatoes sounded so yummy, that I've tossed in couple small heads of broccoli.  They will roast in the high heat together and be very comfortable.


Lemon Bars. Now I've made lemon bars before.  I've even made WW lemon bars before.  And these are that, but so SO SOOO much better than my previous recipe.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided use
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided use
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
    1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, allowing the foil to extend over the rim by 2 inches. Spray the foil with nonstick spray.
    2. To make the crust:
    3. In a small bowl, whisk together ⅔ cup of the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt until well blended; then set it aside. In another small bowl, beat together the eggs and egg white. Take 1 tablespoon of the egg mixture and place it in a cup, then stir in the water. Set aside both egg mixtures.
    4. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter in a medium bowl until creamy. Add ¼ cup of the granulated sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the egg-water mixture. Add the flour mixture and beat until blended. (The dough will be crumbly.)
    5. Press the dough mixture evenly onto the bottom and ¼-inch up the sides of the foil-lined pan. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
    6. Make the filling while the crust bakes: in a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ⅓ cup flour and ¾ cup granulated sugar. Whisk in the remaining egg mixture until blended. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk until well blended.
    7. Remove the crust from the oven and place on a rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Pour the lemon mixture over the hot crust. Bake until the filling is set, 20 to 25 minutes.
    8. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
    9. When ready to serve, sprinkle the chilled bars with confectioners' sugar. Use the foil to lift the slab of bars from the pan. Cut into 16 even squares.

I know from previous experience, that one is just not enough.  And there is a strawberry too.  I think Amaretto would pair nicely with this.

So this is what's cooking in my kitchen.  How 'bout yours?

happy cooking