Thursday, June 28, 2012

Piece Montee or Croquembouche

 My hubby and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this week. While I was at my son's t-ball game, he surprised me by cooking an amazing meal while we were at the field. It was one of the best meals ever! Spinach salad, bacon-wrapped filet, baby asparagus tips, and baby bella mushrooms sauted with butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. Not to forget the bottle of wine and cannolis we had for dessert! I had every intention of making him an extravagant dessert but by the time I got off work, ran errands, and went to t-ball, it just didn't happen. So I promised him I had something up my sleeve and made this the following day.

 Many of you are probably wondering what Croqeumbouche even means! "A croqembouche is a French cake, a kind of piece montee often served at weddings, baptisms, and first communions. It is typically a high cone of profiteroles (pate choux filled with pastry cream) and usually decorated with threads of caramel. The name come from the French words croque en bouche meaning 'crunch (or munch) in (the) mouth'. It brought back many memories of culinary school and made me remember just how much fun it is playing with caramelized sugar. The caramelized sugar acted as glue so that I could make my masterpiece as tall as I wanted. Then I swirled some caramelized sugar around the entire piece as well as made some sugar spirals. Sugar can be a lot of fun to play with but you must use extreme caution as you could burn yourself very easily.

 So here it first Croquembouche.
 Happy Anniversary Honey!!!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicken Caesar Salad

We received the biggest most beautiful head of romaine lettuce in our farm share box last week! I couldn't wait to make something with it!  What better than a Caesar salad?!?!

Often times, when we visit our friends in Chicago, they will make us the most amazing Caesar salad so I called them up to get the recipe!  Some of you may be grossed out by the fact that it has a raw egg in it, but if you can overcome that, you will just love it! I could eat this salad every day! We also grilled some chicken breasts to slice up and put on top of the salad. It was a meal in itself and oh so good!

Chicken Caesar Salad
Source: J. Barnett

3 or more cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. olive oil

1 whole egg (or you can use Egg Beaters)
1/8 t. salt
fresh ground pepper
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
3 squirts of Worcestershire sauce
2/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil and minced garlic. Let garlic soak in the olive oil while you prepare remaining ingredients.

In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and parmesan cheese. Whisk together until well combined.

Wash and dry romaine lettuce. Chop or tear into large, bite size pieces. Toss romaine with the oil/garlic mixture; then pour on the egg/cheese mixture and toss until well combined.  Optional: Add grilled chicken on top!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Copycat Chicken Sandwiches

Chick-Fil-A is a favorite fast food chain of mine. Unfortunately the closest one is 36 miles away in Toledo, OH!  I tried this copycat recipe the other day and it made some wonderful chicken sandwiches.   Nice and crispy on the outside...but still juicy on the inside. Mmmm-Mmmm!!!  If I was given a blind taste test I would definitely be able to tell the original Chick-Fil-A from this sandwich but non-the-less, it was great!

"EAT MOR CHIKIN" as the Chick-Fil-A cows would say! And have a good night!

Chick-Fil-A Copycat Chicken Sandwiches
Source: From Away

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and ground pepper
1 t. paprika
Peanut oil, for frying
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. whole-wheat flour
1 T. dry milk
1 T. powdered sugar
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. dry mustard
1 sour pickle, cut into eight slices
4 soft hamburger buns, split
3 T. unsalted butter, softened

1. Cut the chicken breast in half horizontally, to make 4 thin pieces. Place each piece between heavy plastic, and pound to 1/8 thick with a mallet of skillet. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika.

2.  In a shallow baking dish, whisk together egg, milk, and 2 tablespoons water. In another baking dish, whisk together both types of flour, dry milk, powdered sugar, baking soda, dry mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat about two inches of peanut oil to 325 degrees in a heavy-bottomed pot or cast iron skillet. While oil heats, slice pickle, and set aside.

3.  Working in batches, dip chicken in the egg mixture, turning to coat, then dredge in flour mixture and shake off any excess. Fry the chicken in hot oil, using a candy thermometer to monitor oil temperature, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

4.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread the cut side of the buns with some butter, and lightly toast in the skillet, buttered-side down. To assemble sandwiches, spread grilled buns with more butter, dip 2 pickle slices in jarred pickle juice to moisten and place on the bottom bun. Top with a piece of fried chicken and the bun top.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

CSA Update

I am just LOVING our veggie box that we get from our CSA (community share agriculture)!!! I'm so glad my neighbor asked us to split a share with them.  Even with 1/2 a share, we have more than enough veggies to last us for the week and there's always something new in it for us to try.

Here's last week's box. We received Sugar Ann snap peas, asparagus (a fave of mine!), swiss chard, kale, butterhead lettuce, and some fresh parsley.

Today's box was overflowing! We received a huge, gorgeous head of romaine lettuce, some Ruby red leaf lettuce, swiss chard, napa cabbage, Korridor kohlrabi, peas, garlic, onions and onion blossoms.

Wondering what Korridor kohlrabi is? I know I was clueless!  It is something like a turnip, but grows above the ground.  The leaves are similar to kale and quite edible; the round bulb holds sweet and crisp flesh under a couple of layers of fibrous skin.  Once the bulb is peeled and cut in slices, it was quite delicious dipped in a little ranch dressing! I hope we get more later this summer because I really liked it!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Avocado Egg Salad

I love avocados so it's no surprise that I loved these sandwiches! Avocado egg salad sandwiches - what a great idea! It even comes from the Skinny Taste blog which has healthier recipes on it. Just toast a couple slices of bread, spoon on some avocado egg salad and enjoy a scrumptious lunch!

I hope everyone has been enjoying the summer-like weather we've been having lately! The kids and I have been enjoying lots of picnics out under our big shade tree for lunch. It's great to get some fresh air while we grab a bite to eat. Have a wonderful week!

Avocado Egg Salad
Source: Skinny Taste

4 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
4 hard boiled egg whites, chopped (discard the rest)
1 medium avocado, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 T. light mayonnaise
1 T. fat free plain yogurt
1/2 T. finely chopped chives
2 t. red wine vinegar
1/2 t. Kosher salt
pinch freshly ground pepper

Combine the egg yolks with the avocado, light mayo, yogurt, chives, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mash with a fork. Combine with egg whites and adjust salt as needed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I'm a huge fan of lettuce wraps. I think P.F. Chang's have THE best lettuce wraps but unfortunately there isn't one close to where I live.  I saw this yummy recipe on my friend, K's blog and wanted to eat it off the computer screen! This is a quick meal to throw together and turned out to be delicious!!! Give it a try!

Asian Lettuce Wraps
Source: Hanging By A Thread

1 lb. ground meat (beef, turkey, pork, or chicken)
Boston Bib or butter lettuce leaves
1 T. cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 T. soy sauce
1/3 c. hoisin sauce
2 t. minced pickled ginger
1 T. rice wine vinegar
Asian chile pepper sauce (optional)
1 (8oz.) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 t. dark sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground meat in 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, sesame seed oil and cooked meat; continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito.