Friday, March 8, 2013

To Tahini or Not to Tahini

I love hummus....but some of them out there just seem a little d r y.  So I decided to try something I saw somewhere...yea, I have NO idea where I saw this, but it stuck in my head.  Typically only weird stuff sticks...not important things such as where my keys are, what day of the week is it...umm...what month?

Anyway....I saw this recipe for an eggplant dip that reminded me of hummus.  So, I started off with these ingredients.... Tahini, hence the post title!  I didn't have any and it was raining outside....really raining.  I didn't miss it, but try it if you have some and let me know how it tastes!!

So...I cut up the eggplant into cubes and roasted them in the oven....with the garlic!

Yea, I agree....roasted the garlic was the a great idea.  If I'm roasting anything that's going to have garlic in it/on it, it goes into the oven WITH it.  It's a no brainer, right?


I drained the beans, then put them in my mini food processor and "whizzed" them.

Then I put the roasted eggplant and garlic into the processor with the lemon juice and parsley and "whizzed" them..
Add the two together..........and VOILA!!!
I'm telling you, the eggplant made all the difference in the world!  It made it so much more silky....moist and full of flavor.  As much as I enjoy hummus, I'd take a tablespoon of this over a gallon of hummus.  Of course, then I'd go into the kitchen and make some more!

I hope you try it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Carrabas Chicken Bryan

I tend to eat a bit on the "low carb" side of things.  I LOVE bread....but it doesn't love me back.  I've tried to ignore that, but sometimes I give in.

When life is busy and I don't have time to cook something up and I'm in the mood for something delicious while sticking to my low carb intentions, I go to Carrabas.....yes, their bread is a m a z i n g, but I can give up the bread knowing everything else in my meal will be awesome!  What do I get???  The chicken trio!  And MY favorite of the three is.........drum roll, please........Chicken Bryan!!! 
I love it for many reasons...but mostly because it has GOAT CHEESE on it!  I've searched far and wide for a good recipe and I found one that is close......but not quite right, so I altered it a bit.
I started by dicing up half of a pretty large shallot and three garlic cloves.
Then I melted two tablespoons of butter and sauteed the shallots and garlic. 
Then I added 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of white wine (I used a chardonnay).  I let that simmer until it was reduced by about 80%.   Then I added about  tablespoons of butter and turned off the heat.  The butter adds a silkiness to the sauce...if you continue to cook it, the milk solids will dissapate and it won't be as silky.  It will still taste delish though!  ;o)
Meanwhile I drizzled olive oil........screeeeeeeeeeeeeech...........wait....I didn't really use olive oil.  This recipe calls for some sundried tomatoes...mine are soaked in olive oil....and yes, I used that oil.  Why not?  It's packed with flavor!  Oh, and I've saved it for future tomato-ey recipes!

Now where were we?  Oh....I drizzed some of the oil onto the chicken breasts, along with salt and pepper....
I got my grill pan (thanks, Shelby) nice and hot, then I seared both sides to get those nice grill marks!
Then I turned down the heat, added a little white wine, covered the pan with a lid and let it finish cooking.  This added a little extra flavor, while keeping the meat moist.
Meanwhile, I was working on the toppings..........chopped basil, chopped sundried tomatoes and......GOAT CHEESE SLICES!!!!!
Once the chicken breasts were done, I put them on the plate and put the goat cheese slices on the top so they could begin to soften....topped that with the sundried tomatoes and the chopped basil, then poured over the sauce.........voila!
It really was delicious that I wish I had waited and made it for my Valentine's Day dinner!!!  Because Valentine's Day is such a special day to me for many reasons, I eat only my favorite things on that day!   I guess I'd better go now....I need to find something else to have tomorrow. 
Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I've Been Again..... Bennigans!!  This recipe is an old throwback to my younger days when I worked at Bennigans!  I have to say that it was one of my most favorite jobs!  I was a waitress and it was the first of the Bennigan's/Chili's/Applebee's type of restaurant....and every day at 5 pm the line of people wanting to get in was wrapped around the restaurant!  The wait staff had to wear hats...and I had such a great time making and finding fun hats to wear.  Oh....sorry.....back to the recipe!

They had two versions....Smothered Steak and Smothered Chicken.  Both meats were grilled, topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions, then covered in cheese and baked to bubbling perfection.  It was one of my favorite things on our menu!  I've seen a few recipes on the internet...most call for bacon...and I can assure you there was no bacon in these smothered dishes.  This is the closest I've come to what I used to order almost every time I went in....that is, if I didn't order the nachos!!!

I had several chicken breasts that I'd bought at Harris Teeter (TIP:  They are ALWAYS $1.99 a pound in the butcher's case...always).  I sliced them into cutlets...
....sprinkled them with salt and pepper, then I put them into a hot grill pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  I cooked them long enough to get nice grill marks.
Then I set them aside in separate baking dishes and melted some butter in the pan and added diced shallots and mushrooms...
I sauteed them long enough to soften them, then added some Madeira wine...
...and let the alcohol cook off until it thick and bubbly...
...then I spooned them over the chicken......
....and topped it with Muenster cheese, which is mild, smooth and melts beautifully!
Then I put them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes....just long enough to melt the cheese and get the buttery sauce bubbling around the edges.

It was delicious, served with roasted asparagus.....and a Vidal Blanc.  Thanks for the memories, Bennigan's.....we miss you around these parts!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup....with Roasted Garlic!!!

It's one of my favorite things about the month of used to be my birthday, but that was a long time ago.  Now it's those bright red fruit you find on the vegetable aisle....tomatoes!

When I was young my Dad grew at least 10 vines and my Mom made canned tomato sauces, tomato juice with them.  Me?  I liked the ones Dad called the "Big Boy".....that was the name of the tomato.  One slice would fit on a slice of bread to ensure a taste in every bite!  Tomato....mayonnaise......bread......yumm!  If I wasn't in a hurry to taste it, I'd add lettuce and sometimes bacon!  Mom liked her "open face" slice of bread toasted with a slice of cheese and a slice of tomato........then cooked bacon once it was done.  I need one of those....

But as the vines started slowing down production, we knew fall was around the corner and the first taste of fall was...................Momma's Tomato Soup!

I still make it now and then, although not as often as I'd like....but then I don't grow tomatoes anymore either....another story!  But while I was at Harris Teeter the other day, I noticed huge bags of tomatoes on the clearance rack.  There wasn't a thing wrong with them.....just more ripe than the others, so I thought.......soup!!!

I brought them all home and sliced them (I don't bother with skinning them, but you can)....drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on a baking sheet to bake at 375 degrees until them just start to brown. 
This time I decided to add a head of garlic to the pan....I just drizzled some olive oil over it and wrapped it in some aluminum foil and set it in the corner!
Once the tomatoes were done l let them cool just a bit before putting them into the blender and squeezed the garlic out of the head.
I added them to the tomatoes in the blender.....
Wanna see?
Then whrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.........easy peasy!
Next make sure you taste the soup.....depending on the tomatoes, you may need a little sugar or a little tame the acidity.  Mine needed cream.......
And then you eat it.........well, not before making it look pretty and taking lots and lots of pictures.  OK, only four........
......and then I ate it..............
Next year I'm growing tomaotes...........

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dangling the Carrot.....

I've always loved them......I've heard your skin will actually turn orange if you eat too many of them, but I don't know that to be true.  I even think it has a name....carotenosis!  No, really!  Now that I'm on the Weight Watchers diet, I eat a lot of them.

The other day I saw a picture of some roasted carrots on Pinterest and I knew I had to have them!  I read the recipe, closed the browser and this is what happened.

I washed and trimmed the fresh carrots (Harris Teeter has the young ones....with the tops still on, which keeps them fresher!).

In a separate bowl I mixed fresh garlic (3 cloves...or so), fresh thyme leaves ( least 1 tablespoon..maybe more), lemon zest (half a juice!), olive oil and dijon mustard (I prefer the good stuff...Maille...about 1.5 tablespoons!).
Now it's time to get your hands dirty!  Dirty?  Ain't nothin' dirty about anything with garlic in it...and mustard...and herbs....nothin'!  Slap that stuff on top of the carrots.....
...and toss!
Then bake them at 400 degrees until they are baked golden brown....about 20 minutes.  Fresh chopped parsley.....voila!


Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Cabbage Roasted with Garlic/Olive Oil
These danged carrots!!!

Nice glass of Chardonnay.....your choice!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

WINE-ing and DINE-ing.....

We recently made a trip up to the cabin for a special open house at Chateau Morrissette....our fave place to go when up there! 
We had a wonderful time....they had an amazing spread of foods made with their wines....we also enjoyed trying out some of their newest wines.

The we headed over to the restaurant to relax, enjoy the views and to enjoy some of their amazing appetizers.  We typically grap a bottle or two of wine, some crackers and cheeses, then hang out on the veranda at the winery and sip, enjoying the views.
The dining at the restaurant is wonderful....and the wine is only slightly higher than buying it at the winery!  And the food is ahhhhhhh...mazing ( pics....we were busy eating!)  I promise to get pics the next time we're up there!

Inside the restaurant is beautiful....

If the weather isn't so nice outside, the options for eating inside are awesome!  You can sit at a high top and have a glass of wine with some appetizers, or melt in to the sofa in front of a blazing fire!  There is also a huge dining room where they have all kids of great events, along with more intimate, cozy rooms that are beautiful!

There is also a beautiful terrace with the most beautiful view....but it was a bit windy the day were were there!

We were pretty stuffed, so we headed back to the cabin....we decided to have a pretty light dinner later on.....chicken with mango salso and baked zucchini and squash with red peppers and garlic.

We started off by making the salsa....we diced mango and green onions.  Then we added tomatoes, cilantro, and chili powder...

Meanwhile, we had a couple of bottles of Our Dog Blue chillin' in the freezer, the perfect pairing for our dinner!

Melinda was busy with our side dish, which was layered zucchini, squash, garlic and red peppers, salted and peppered and roasted in the oven.

Meanwhile, I grilled the chicken on my new grill pan.  They had been marinated in garlic, lime zest, salt, pepper and olive oil.

It was quite a colorful meal, but after a day of tastings (wine AND food), we needed something light.  It was the perfect way to end a perfect day in the Virginia mountains...with my two best friends!!

The only bad part was having to leave.....