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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bella Cucina Key Lime Spread

I recently visited the Bella Cucina store in the Highlands and purchased their key lime spread and a bag of Italian Pasta. There is a recipe for Key Lime Creme Brulee on the tag but I wanted to see how it would work with chicken.

I had some boneless, skinless breasts so I cooked the chicken in the oven, then finished it off on my stovetop grill pan. I spread a mixture of flour, cornstarch, butter and the key lime spread on the chicken both before and after the grill pan.

I let the chicken rest and absorb its key lime spread while I prepared the pasta.

After I cooked the pasta, I added items I had on hand in the refrigerator and pantry and came up with mascarpone cheese, shredded parmesan, olive oil, grape tomatoes, fresh lime zest, and fresh from the herb garden, lemon thyme

After I mixed everything together, I sliced the chicken and added it on top. This has a really fresh, bright taste thanks to the key lime spread, the thyme, and the lime zest. This turned out really well and since I'm writing it down, hopefully I'll remember how to make it!

Here's the finished product! The pasta is excellent, nice and hearty so a little goes a long way. I really want to make the creme brulee or maybe try making a key lime flan with the remainder of the spread. The Bella Cucina products are such fun to use. There's also a Blood Orange version of this spread that I'd like to try soon too.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

I've made these cookies a couple of times. They're very easy, very good and gluten free!
The recipe came from Paula Deen via the Food Network website.

They're the cookies on the left side of this platter full of goodies!

Magical Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter, crunchy is best
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet.

Combine all ingredients and stir well. Roll dough into balls the size of walnuts.

With a fork dipped in sugar, press a crisscross design on each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle tops with additional sugar if you like. Cool slightly before removing from pan. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Grouper with Tomato, Olive, Caper Sauce

I've been cooking a lot of fresh fish lately. This weekend I made pan-sauteed grouper with a sauce from Wolfgang Puck's 2005 cookbook, "Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy". A friend had given me a signed copy several years ago and I recently found this recipe. It would be good on any kind of fish, and would also be good mixed with pasta as a side dish. Here's the recipe for the sauce:

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
4 green onions
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
1 cup pitted green olives (I used Kalamata olives because that's what I had)
1/4 cup drained capers
3 cupes diced canned tomatoes
salt/pepper to season

Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium-high heat and add garlic. As soon as it starts to sizzle, add the green onions, jalapeno, olives and capers. As soon as it starts to sizzle, add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook down slightly, about 10-15 minutes.

For the fish, I just seasoned with salt and pepper, heated olive oil in a saute pan and cooked about 6 minutes on the first side, then about 3 minutes on the second side. I served brown rice on the side. As you can see, my husband and I both thought it was very good.

This was a light and healthy meal, quick and easy to prepare with lots and lots of good flavor.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chicken Caesar Salad

I've been making this salad a lot lately. And every time I make it, it is really good and is gone in no time. I got the chicken recipe from the magazine Cook's Illustrated. The crouton and dressing recipe came from the Pioneer Woman website. I like to add the chicken to the salad, then it's our entire meal for the evening.

The chicken is really simple and comes out great every time. Here's the recipe:

Pan Seared Chicken Breasts

(4) 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon all purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 275. Using fork, poke thickest part of each chicken breast about 6 times. Sprinkle each evenly with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place skinned side down in baking dish, cover tightly, bake until thickest part registers 145-150 degrees, approximately 35 minutes.

Remove from oven, pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, whisk butter, flour, butter, flour, cornstarch and pepper. Lightly brush top side with half the mixture. Brown for about 3 minutes, then flip, brush with remaining mixture, reduce heat, and cook until second side is browned.

Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

To make the rest of the salad, wash Romaine lettuce and grate parmesan cheese. Then make the croutons and the dressing.

To make the croutons, you'll need:
1/4 cup olive oil, 4 garlic cloves, and 2 cups of 3/4" bread cubes (from baguette)

I use my mini food processor for this part and it works great. Mince garlic cloves in processor and slowly pour in olive oil. Mix until the garlic releases its flavor into the oil, about 30 seconds. then, strain the garlic from the oil. Save the garlic for the dressing.

Pour the garlic infused olive oil over the croutons and toss until well coated. Brown the croutons in a hot skillet, tossing often so they don't burn, for about 5-7 minutes.

To make the dressing you'll need:
Half the garlic from above
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
freshly ground black pepper

Mix all together. That's it!

When you're ready to eat, put lettuce, sliced chicken, croutons and parmesan in large bowl. Toss with the dressing and enjoy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Planting Herbs

So happy it's finally time to plant my herbs for the season. Atlanta weather allows herbs to grow until well into late Fall. And how I love to be able to just go out the back door and get what I need for cooking my favorite recipes.
Yesterday I bought parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme...

and oregano, tarragon, basil and an arugula plant.

Arugula is not an herb but it looked good and I thought it would be fun to try it. I also found a version of sage called Pineapple Sage. I tasted a leaf and it had a really bright, fresh flavor. It will be awesome on fish or in pasta. Can't wait to use that one.

These two: Tarragon and Oregano. I love to make a cold tuna and pasta salad and add fresh tarragon. It is really delicious and brings a great taste to this great summertime lunch idea. The oregano gets used all summer long in salads and tomato and pasta recipes.
The basil seemed to be all gone at two places I shopped yesterday so I got this one at the Publix.

I'll be on the hunt for a couple more basil plants because I use this one a lot all summer, especially once fresh tomatoes come in. My husband loves the tomato, basil, mozzarella salad.

As a personal chef, this is one of my favorite times of the year because having all these fresh herbs gets my creative juices flowing, and excited about trying new recipes for myself and clients. Now, off to get these babies in their huge pots to begin their growing season. Yay!