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Happy Sunday friends. It’s a lazy day here. But I did get to cook a little bit!

Tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper. What does that equal? A super simple and delicious tomato sauce. Heat olive oil and butter. Brown some garlic, add a can of tomatoes. Simmer, crush, season, done. That’s it.

Simple Tomato Sauce

  • 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add can of tomatoes and let cook for around 8 minutes. Using a fork or other utensil, crush the tomatoes and let cook down for another 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste

A few other things: Feel free to use crushed tomatoes, but I like using the whole ones; crushing them is fun! I also added around a teaspoon of red pepper flakes because I like everything spicy!

This sauce can really be turned into anything you like: add more garlic, add some fresh herbs, add cream, whatever your little heart desires.

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To go along with our coconut shrimp appetizer last weekend, we decided to attempt a seafood risotto. I love making risottos, and this risotto turned out great. I love how creamy it gets, with no cream or cheese or anything; it’s like magic! It was still delicious left over as well: more flavor and creaminess.

We used shrimp and bay scallops, both frozen, but you could use any type of seafood you like: scallops, clams, lobster, squid. And a squeeze of lemon right on top is necessary.

Seafood Risotto

About an hour, serves 4-6

  • 6 cups seafood stock
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped shallots or onion (I used shallots and yellow onion)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb peeled raw shrimp
  • 3/4 lb bay scallops
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, zested

Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep warm on stovetop. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat and saute shallots until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add the can of stewed tomatoes and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add Italian seasoning and stir to combine.

Add the heated stock about 1/2 cup at a time and left absorb into the rice; keep the rice moving so it doesn’t burn or stick. Continue to add stock until the rice is tender: taste testing is necessary! This will probably take around 30 minutes.

Heat the remaining olive oil in another pan and add shrimp, scallops and garlic. Cook together until opaque. Mix seafood and lemon zest into the rice. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Adapted from Epicurious

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Savory & sweet. Crispy & delicious. That pretty much sums up this coconut shrimp. While I was in Charlottesville this weekend, we did a ton of cooking as always. While Cainon was in the Virgin Islands for part of his holiday he had coconut shrimp and raved about how good it was.

Thus, cooking adventure #1 for the weekend: make coconut shrimp. We ended up using a spicier jerk seasoning in the flour mixture and sweetened coconut for a sweet and spicy nice balance. We both stood at the stove coating the shrimp, frying, and eating. They were just too delicious to wait!

Coconut Shrimp

  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, tails on
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp Caribbean jerk seasoning
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
  • 3/4 cup coconut (I used sweetened, but feel free to use unsweetened)
  • Canola oil for frying

Heat about an inch of oil and a deep frying pan. I kept my oil around medium heat on the burner. Mix flour and jerk seasoning together on a small plate. Crack and scramble eggs in another bowl or deep plate. Mix bread crumbs and coconut together on a third plate.

Coat each shrimp and flour, egg and then crumb and coconut mixture; be sure to press the coconut onto the shrimp to make sure it sticks! Drop the shrimp into the oil and cook until golden. It should only take 2-3 minutes on both sides. Make sure not to crowd the pan or the oil temp will go down and they won’t crisp up as nicely. Enjoy!

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chicken stroganoff

Happy Friday the 13th friends! Yesterday for lunch (and then for dinner as leftovers), I made chicken stroganoff. I got this recipe inspiration simply from the fact that I absolutely loooove beef stroganoff: the classic stuff with sour cream and egg noodles. It seriously is just so comforting and delicious. When I make beef stroganoff, I sometimes ending up using some ground turkey to lighten it up a bit. But this time I decided to go even “healthier” with chicken and yogurt to replace the sour cream.

If I were to make this again, I think I would have to go with the sour cream. The yogurt just didn’t add the same creaminess and tang that sour cream does. I did enjoy the fact that there were lots of vegetables in this dish, with the addition of onions and green pepper, when I would traditionally would just use mushrooms.

Chicken Stroganoff

Time: about an hour, serves 4-6

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and saute onions until tender. Add green pepper, mushrooms, 1/a tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and continue cooking until mushrooms release their liquid. Remove veggies and place in a colander; reserving the liquid in a bowl underneath.

Return pan to heat and add the other tbsp of olive oil. Season the chicken with the remaining salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in batches until cooked through. Remove from pan and add to the vegetable bowl.

Turn burner on high and add wine, chicken broth, and the reserved vegetable liquid to the pan to deglaze. Make sure to scrape all of the good bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and whisk in the BBQ sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, and hot sauce. Let reduce by about half. Reduce heat and whisk in yogurt or sour cream making sure to not let it boil. Return vegetables and chicken to the pan to heat through. Serve over rice or pasta.

Adapted from Real Simple.

For those that have MLK Day off, I was doing a little reading into the holiday, and learned that it’s a Day of Service.  Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing for others?’ ”

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that all of our holidays actually have meaning. Monday should provide a chance to make a change, however big or small. For some ideas on how to make a change visit the MLK Day site.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend!

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2012. I decided to start the morning off with some bacon and eggs a little differently than I usually have them. I baked them in cute little ramekins!

Of course while I was cooking breakfast, I had a cup of coffee with a little Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss Vanilla creamer. I don’t like my coffee with too much cream or sugar, but this adds just the right amount of both, without that fake taste that I usually get from creamers or flavored syrups. It also doesn’t hurt that there are only four ingredients on the label: milk, cream, sugar, and the vanilla flavoring. I’m a big fan.

So, back to breakfast.

Baked Bacon and Eggs
2 servings

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 2 oz white cheddar, cubed
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 375. Fry two slices of bacon and cut up into small pieces. Butter two ramekins and place 1/4 of the bacon and a few cubes of cheese in the bottom of each ramekin.

Carefully crack two eggs in each ramekin and add 1/2 tbsp of cream to each one. Season each with salt and pepper and sprinkle the rest of the cheese and bacon on top of the eggs.

Place ramekins in oven for 10 minutes or until whites start to set. Change oven setting to broil and finish cooking the eggs for another 5 minutes. You may want to vary the cooking times depending on how runny you like your eggs. Serve with some toast to dip in the yolks and enjoy!

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I hope everyone’s holiday is going well. I have a two day work week this week and then a three day weekend for the new year! Woohoo! We had family come up to visit after Christmas this year. I decided to make some cinnamon rolls the night before so they would be easy to pop in the oven in the morning.

I used a recipe from Alton Brown; I can always trust him for some good food. This method is a little more difficult than the Pillsbury cans of cinnamon rolls, but so worth it. They were delicious.

Cinnamon Rolls
Dough:

  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 package rapid rise (instant dry) yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbps melted butter, for brushing on dough

Icing:

  • 1/4 cup softened cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a stand mixer, wisk together eggs, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add 2 cups flour along with yeast and salt, wisk to combine. Replace wisk with dough hook, add another cup of flour and knead on low for 5 minutes. Check dough and it should be soft and moist but not sticky. I ended up using another cup of flour to get my dough right. Knead for another 5 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 30 seconds. Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it, cover the top of the dough with oil as well. Cover and let rise for around 2 hours. I used a damp paper towel and a dish towel on top of that.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt filling in a separate bowl. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and shape dough into a rectangle, with the longest side closest to you. Using a rolling pin, roll into a large 18×12-inch rectangle, i just estimated. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving about a 1/2 inch at the top edge. Spread filling mixture out over the dough, leaving that top edge clear. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the dough tightly and pinch the seam to seal the dough. Reshape as needed to make the roll even. Using a serrated knife, make 12 even cuts, about 1 1/2 inches each. Arrange in the baking dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

When ready to bake in the morning, place the rolls in a cold oven, don’t turn it on! Fill a pan with boiling water and place it below the rolls in the oven. Close the oven and let rise for around 30 minutes. Remove both pans from the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

When heated, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Mix cream cheese and milk on medium speed with a mixer. Add powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Spread over hot rolls and enjoy!

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During the holiday season I always look forward to a steaming glass of Glühwein. A traditional German mulled wine, Glühwein is always a treat for me. While spending time family on Christmas, while outside caroling with friends, or watching Twelfth Night in Regent’s Park open air theatre (the first place I had Glühwein), who doesn’t enjoy warmth, wine, & spices?! Yes please.

I have made Glühwein lots of different ways, most often with orange, cinnamon, whole cloves, and sugar. I decided to take a slightly different approach this time around. As I usually don’t like my wines overly sweet in general, I decided to cut the added sweetness for this recipe.

Instead of sugar, I used honey, and in place of the orange juice and peel, I used a little bit of apple cider we had in the fridge. And for easy measuring I used a white wine glass.

Glühwein or Mulled Wine

  • 1 wine glass of water
  • 1/2 wine glass apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 bottle red wine (I think I ended up using less since I was pouring it out of one of those huge bottles and didn’t want to use all of it)

Bring water, cider, honey, cinnamon and cloves to a simmer in a sauce pot on the stove. I let it reduce and simmer together for around 15 minutes.

Turn the heat to low and add the bottle of wine. Let it heat up until steaming. Don’t let the mixture boil; we want to keep all of that wonderful alcohol! When hot, remove from heat and place a cover on the pot. Let flavors meld together for another hour. I’ll admit, I didn’t actually do this, it tastes pretty good right away! Enjoy!

Happy Boxing Day!

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