Bourbon Pecan Chicken

Here is another winner from allrecipes.com.  Chicken cutlets, covered with a luscious pecan crust to seal in the juices, accompanied by a bourbon sauce.  Ohhhh YUM!

Bourbon Pecan Chicken

Ingredients:

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast
halves
1/4 cup clarified butter, melted
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 2/3 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut
into small cubes
1/2 cup sliced green onions
Directions:
1. Stir together the pecans, bread crumbs, and 2 tablespoons of clarified butter. Spread the mixture out on a plate. Press the chicken breasts into the mixture to coat on both sides. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the coated chicken breasts in the pan, and fry on both sides until nicely browned and chicken meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes per side.
2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the Dijon mustard, brown sugar, bourbon, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, then remove from the burner, and whisk in the 3/4 cup of unsalted butter one piece at a time (I omitted the butter to eliminate extra fat and whisked in a teaspoon of corn starch with water to thicken sauce).
3. Arrange the chicken breasts on a large serving plate. Pour the sauce over the chicken, and sprinkle with green onion.

Source:  Allrecipes.com

Mixed Green Salad with Quinoa, Cranberries and Toasted Almonds

This is a wonderful salad with a homemade dressing.  Homemade dressings are so very good and they take only minutes.   Why buy store-bought dressing when you can have homemade in minutes and it tastes so much better!

Quinoa, Pomegranate, Almond and Feta Salad

(makes about 4 servings)

  • ¼ cup white, black or red quinoa, rinsed thoroughly and drained in a sieve
  • ½ cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cups greens – either all spinach, a mix of spring baby greens, or a combination of the two (I used combo)
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion (optional)
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded (about 1 cup) (I could not find pomegranate and substituted dried cranberries)

The vinaigrette:

  • 3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I chose a lemon-infused olive oil)
  • 1 extra-full Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse quinoa in several bowls of fresh water, using a fine sieve to contain the little seeds. Bring ½ cup lightly-salted water to a boil, add quinoa, reduce heat and simmer with the lid on for 12 minutes. Allow pot to sit, undisturbed for another 4 minutes. Remove lid and fluff the quinoa. Allow to cool.

In the meantime, toast almonds on a baking sheet in a pre-heated 350°F oven until fragrant and lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.  *Almonds can also be toasted stove top for approximately 5 minutes – watch closely and stir until nicely browned.

Whisk up the vinaigrette’s ingredients and allow the flavors to blend.

To a large bowl, add the greens, feta, onion (if using), quinoa, cranberries and toasted almonds. Toss with the dressing and serve immediately

Source:  Cooking-Spre.com

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who can resist chocolate chip cookies?!  I have tried many different chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years and this is by far the best.  They are appropriately named as “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies”. 
 
The important question is “Can you eat only one”?
 
The recipe is below or can be found here.
 
Best Chocolate Chip Cookies  
 
Prep Time: 20 MinutesCook Time: 10 Minutes Ready In: 1 HourServings: 24

“Crisp edges, chewy middles.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned

Grilled Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

This was a taste treat and very easy to make! To keep asparagus fresh in the fridge, store it upright, in about an inch or two of water.

Ingredients:

  • Asparagus, bottoms trimmed
  • Prosciutto
  • Olive Oil

After asparagus has been washed and trimmed coat with Olive Oil, wrap each asparagus with a slice of prosciutto. 

Place on the grill for approximately 2-3 minutes a side until tender crisp.

Mmmmmm …. Enjoy!

Beef Barley Soup – It’s Snowing and It’s Cold Out There!

It’s a snowy day in Northeast Ohio with more snow predicted over the weekend.  I have a confession; I detest, despise, and dislike winter immensely!  It wasn’t always that way.  Growing up in Vermont I can remember spending the entire day outside sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or skiing.  I’d come in from the cold to thaw out, my cheeks rosy, my mother would have some hot chocolate for me to warm me up and homemade cookies.  My feet would be so cold I could barely feel my toes, but still I spent the entire day outside having fun!  The sun was shining and the snow sparkled like diamonds covering the pine trees.  The most beautiful sight to behold was when I was skiing, riding the chairlift to the top of the mountain, where at the top all the trees were covered in snow and glistening in the sun, truly creating a winter wonderland.  It was breathtakingly beautiful! 

When did my disdain for winter materialize?  Hmmmm …. Many, many years later.  I lived in Syracuse, New York for 12 years.  Syracuse is synonymous with snow and lots of it!  As I was looking out at the snow falling this morning I was reminded of the biggest snow storm of my life – the Blizzard of 1993 in Syracuse, NY.  I was working that day and because of the projected storm we were let out of work early.  It took me over 4 hours to get home when normally it would take 20 minutes!  Snow was coming down so fast that the road crews could not keep up with it and as I was driving the snow was literally up to the window of my car.  It was pure white out conditions and as I think back now I had to be crazy to even attempt to get home!  I made it home safely, frazzled and stressed to the max.  I collapsed on the couch and put on some relaxing music and sat there for quite a while thankful to be home and safe!  That snow storm produced 42.9 inches of snow within 48 hours and Syracuse was dubbed “Snow King” in the newspaper headlines!  Winters were difficult in Syracuse, with icy roads, lots of snow and not a lot of sunshine.

Despite my dislike of winter I ended up moving to Northeast Ohio and winters are still hard to take!  We don’t get much snow, just enough to make driving slippery at times.  But the hardest part of living in Northeast Ohio is the lack of sunshine during the winter.  We can go days and sometimes weeks without seeing the sun and then wake up one morning to a bright blue sky and sunshine and feel so thankful for the sun!  What a difference the sun can make in our attitudes and outlook – everything is brighter and even the cold is bearable!

As much as I dislike winter I have found some redeeming things I love about winter!  I love sitting by the fireplace, looking at the fire, toasty and warm.  I love snuggling on the couch with a soft blanket.  I love the fresh fallen snow on the trees – it is so beautiful!  I love looking at icicles hanging from the houses.  I love winter because it makes me appreciate Spring and Summer so much more!  I love watching the dogs (my boyz) run and play in the snow.  I love seeing the bright red of cardinals at the bird feeders against the white backdrop of snow.  I love making snowballs and snow people.  Yes, snow people …. not just snowmen.  I love finally seeing sunshine and feeling its warmth.  I love the contrast of the bright blue sky against the white snow.  I love staying in on a weekend when it’s snowing and making a big batch of soup.   So … maybe I don’t quite dislike winter as much as I thought!

If you’re living in a cold climate this is a wonderful hearty soup to make that will warm you down to your toes!  Enjoy and stay warm!

Below are the ingredients I use – I usually adjust the measurements for the beef, broth, water and carrots upwards to make a larger quantity so that I can freeze the soup as well as enjoy it the day I make it!  Ahhh … the soup that keeps on giving!  What more could you want!

Instead of using canned stock I make this soup with homemade beef stock.  I have also made it with canned beef stock and it is good that way as well.

Homemade Beef Stock:

Ingredients

  • 2 -4 lbs beef, bones
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 leeks, white part only,sliced
  • 4 -6 carrots, scraped and sliced
  • 2 -3 celery ribs, washed and chopped
  • 1 bunch chopped parsley stems
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • thyme, to taste
  • rosemary, to taste
  • 3 quarts water

Directions

Roast the beef bones at 350° Fahrenheit for 40 minutes.

Saute the onions, carrots, and celery in a little oil until they are all turning brown.

Combine all remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat for at least 6 hours

After 3 hours, taste and adjust seasonings if desired.

Continue cooking on low heat, if desired – the longer you cook, the stronger the flavor will be.

Strain stock. Allow to cool, and skim off any fat

Ingredients for Beef Barley Soup:

  •  1 package mushrooms
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced beef round, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 cans (13 3/4 oz. each) reduced sodium beef broth (or homemade beef stock would be best!)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf marjoram
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup barley

Directions:

Sauté onion and garlic in large pot over medium-low heat until tender but not browned, 5 minutes.  Increase heat.  Add beef, brown on all sides.

Add beef stock, water, carrot, celery, marjoram, pepper and bay leaf.  Bring to boiling, lower heat, cover and simmer 1-2 hours.  Add barley and sliced mushrooms and continue to cook 20 minutes until barley is tender.

Mix a couple of tablespoons cornstarch in with water to form a paste and add, stirring to the soup to thicken.  Add more of this mixture as necessary to desired consistency.

Serve and enjoy!

Spicy Thai Shrimp on Rice Noodles and Shredded Lettuce

I love Thai food and this Spicy Thai Shrimp recipe is awesome!  This is one recipe that I have made several times.  If you like a bit more spice, increase the hot chili sauce to 2 tablespoons.  I did this by accident and I loved it, but it was too spicy for Tim.  He ate it but he kept saying WOW … this is spicy, my lips are burning!  I don’t know, maybe he got more of the hotness in his serving … I loved it extra spicy, and aparently so did he because he ate it all!  The blend of spices in the sauce just can’t be beat!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound Rice Stick Noodles
  • Hot Water

Thai Sauce with Shrimp:

  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 2 tablespoons Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Hot Chili Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1 teaspoon Curry Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Peanut or Canola Oil
  • 2 -3 Green Onions – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
  • Prepared Thai Sauce
  • 1 pound Shrimp

Garnish:

  • 1 Carrot – shredded
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro chopped
  • 1/3 cup Peanuts

Shredded Lettuce

  • 1 Head Iceberg Lettuce or Romaine Lettuce

Directions

Spicy Thai Shrimp on Rice Noodles

  1. Take out equipment and ingredients.
  2. Place noodles in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over noodles. Let stand until soft, approx 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  3. Soften peanut butter in a small microwave safe bowl for 10 seconds. Whisk in lime juice, sweet Thai chili sauce, hot chili sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth and curry powder.
  4. Just before dinner:
  5. Heat oil in a large nonstick fry pan at high heat. Finely chop onion adding to pan as you cut.
  6. Add garlic to pan. Add prepared sauce. Add shrimp and stir until heated through.
  7. When timer rings, rinse noodles and place directly over lettuce. Serve shrimp mixture over noodles. Coarsely shred carrot over top of bowls. Top with fresh cilantro and peanuts.

Shredded Lettuce

  1. Shred lettuce directly into salad spinner. Rinse and spin dry.
  2. Arrange lettuce in the bottom of serving bowls.

California Cheese Torte

Yummy!  I love this cheese Torte!  I’ve been making this for years over the holidays.  It’s pretty, it’s festive, and mostly importantly it’s incredibly good – what more could you want?

Ingredients

    • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese ( can use reduced fat)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 8 ounces goat cheese
    • 2 teaspoons thyme
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½ – 1 Cup pesto sauce to cover
    • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
    • additional red peppers, strips ( garnish)

 Directions

  1. Line a one-quart dish with plastic wrap.
  2. Place the garlic and cheeses in a food processor, and process.
  3. Add oil and thyme, and process again until well combined.
  4. Spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture in the dish.
  5. Then spread the pesto over the cheese.
  6. Spread another 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the pesto.
  7. Next, layer with the chopped red peppers.
  8. Finish with the final layer of cheese.
  9. Cover and chill at least 2 hrs.
  10. When ready to serve, unmold onto serving plate and garnish with additional red pepper strips, and fresh herbs (thyme or basil) if desired.
  11. Serve with crackers or raw veggies.