Wednesday, December 31, 2008

There's a beef wellington in the works...

Hello all! The holidays have kept me quite busy. Can anyone else identify?

This evening we are hosting friends for dinner, and I will do my best to impress with a kick-ass beef wellington. This is a dish i have often strayed from because it is known for being tough to get right. A particular story always comes to mind involving a chef that once came to my parents house to prepare his special beef wellington. As the story goes, chef took hours and hours and hours to make his specialty. To pass the time, he glugged down several bottles of wine and made a complete fool of himself. To this day, I am not sure if Chef Wino even actually finished preparing the meal.

At any rate, I'll provide a full recipe, and pictures tomorrow ( providing it doesn't take so long to make that I drink myself into oblivion...)

Happy New Years everyone! Be safe, and let's shove 2008 right on out the door.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mango and Hearts of Palm Salad

This salad was something I tried last night as I prepared a celebratory dinner for my husband who has recently found a new job. In times like these this is GREAT news! This salad kicked off our meal with a crisp and delightful flavor that was actually much more than I expected. You never know with a new recipe, and that's the beauty of it, right?


1 14oz can Hearts of Palm
1 Mango
1/4 of a chopped red onion
the juice of one lime
2 teaspoons bold and spicy mustard
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cups of baby spinach
Kosher Salt

Start by preparing the dressing. Whisk the lime juice, and mustard together, and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while still mixing. Set this aside.

Next, peel the skin off of your mango, and use a pairing knife to remove all of the flesh from the fruit's pit and cut it into bite size pieces. Then, open the can of hearts of palm and drain well. Cut each piece into 4 smaller bite size pieces. Mix mango chunks, hearts of palm, and onion with 3 tablespoons of dressing, and set aside while you prepare the spinach.

Start by placing about one cup of washed spinach onto each serving plate. Next, season with a bit of fresh cracked pepper, and kosher salt. Finally, divide your mango and hearts of palm mixture evenly over the 4 plates. Drizzle lightly with any remaining dressing, and serve immediately.

This is soooo good!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Peppermint Hot Chocolate


2 and 1/2 cups vanilla soy milk
2 and 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 candy canes
2 tablespoons of sugar
pinch of salt
whipped cream or Cool Whip

Makes two generous portions!

Tis the season! Tonight as John and I decorated our tree, we enjoyed a delicious glass of hot chocolate. Normally I would use milk, but as i am getting over a cold, I wanted to stay away from the dairy products. Feel free to use milk if you like, but the soy is delicious as well.

Start by heating the soy milk over medium low heat until just warm. Next add in the sugar, cocoa powder, salt and whisk well. Break one candy cane in half, and toss it into the warm liquid. Allow the hot chocolate to warm through a bit more, and serve once the candy cane is completely dissolved. If you see any lumps of chocolate, just whisk the mixture a bit more, and you should be lump free. Next, take a plastic bag and stick the second candy cane inside. Use a rolling pin, or even an aluminum can to crush the candy into bits. Finally, pour the hot chocolate into mugs, and top with whipped cream, and your crushed candy canes. Mmmm- Mmmm. You gotta love Christmas!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bolognese-Inspired Red Sauce

Hello my dears! I have been sick for the past few days, and also started a part-time gig as a barista at my local Starbucks. So, to keep your mouths watering this week, I present to you my wonderfully and culinarily talented husband. Here in his own words is a fantastic and rustic pasta dish. I hope you the meanwhile, I will be resting. Take it away babe...

Ok...So, I was going for a classic Bolognese when I started, but I realized I had no tomato paste. I subbed in a large can of regular tomato sauce and used whatever else I had on hand. I also experimented with cooking the pasta about halfway in salty water and finishing it in the sauce itself. The result was delicious, and pretty similar to a Bolognese, so I thought I'd contribute it to my wife's blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


1 medium onion, peeled
1 green bell pepper, seeded
3 medium carrots, skinned
3 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup kosher salt (use most in pasta water)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 26 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup half and half
1 pound Italian sausage
1 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 or 4 bay leaves
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 pound penne rigate pasta
1/3 cup parmesan, shredded

Roughly chop the onion, pepper, carrots and celery, and add these to the food processor along with the garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add the sausage (if you are using links, remove the skin) and using a wooden spoon or spatula, break it into small pieces. Once it is cooked most of the way through, add the chopped aromatic vegetables from the food processor, a pinch of the salt and all of the black and red pepper. Saute until soft. Then add all of the tomato sauce, half and half, red wine and chicken stock and bring up to medium heat. Add the Italian seasoning and bay leaves and simmer for about an hour, stirring frequently.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the rest of the salt and pasta, and then cook until VERY al dente, about 5 or 6 minutes depending on the brand. Bring the sauce up to a slow boil, drain the pasta (but don't rinse it!) and then add it to the sauce. Cook it the rest of the way - about 3 or 4 minutes - in the sauce, stirring constantly. It should absorb a lot of the liquid and a lot of the flavor of the sauce as it finishes cooking. I found cooking it this way accomplishes two things: it adds flavor to the pasta and thickness to the sauce so that it should stick very well to the pasta - like that Bolognese I wanted when I started cooking. Serve on plates, or a large platter if going for a family-style presentation, and garnish with the parmesan cheese. Enjoy!