Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chicken Parm Salad Subs and Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks

Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks by Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman)

  • 12 ounces, weight Pasta, Cooked Al Dente
  • Reserved Pasta Water, If Needed
  • 3 ounces, weight Chopped Pancetta
  • 3 whole Leeks, Sliced Thin
  • ½ cups Dry White Wine
  • ½ cups Heavy Cream
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
  • Parmesan Cheese, Shaved

Cook pasta and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. (no picture for this step)

Saute chopped pancetta until fat is rendered and it starts to brown. Add sliced leeks and cook for 8 minutes. Pour in wine, then cook an additional 1-2 minutes, until reduced.  By the way folks, this is my favorite part, if you could only smell the combination of the pancetta and the's so amazing!!!

Reduce heat to low, then pour in cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in Parmesan shavings. Toss in pasta, adding a little pasta water to thin as needed. 

Serve with Parmesan shavings over the top—delicious!

Chicken Parm Salad Subs by Rachel Ray


        • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
      • 1 cup packed basil leaves
      • A handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
      • A handful fresh mint leaves
      • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
      • Kosher salt
      • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
      • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and sliced lengthwise into thin strips
      • 1 small red onion or 1/2 medium onion, very thinly sliced or chopped
      • 1 rotisserie chicken
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 4 sesame sub rolls, split
    • Olive oil and herb potato chips, for serving


I had to roast my own chicken because we were at the grocery store early in the morning and they hadn't put them out yet so I just went ahead and bought an uncooked roaster and roasted it myself.

Combine vegetable stock with herbs in food processor. Turn processor on and stream in the extra-virgin olive oil. Finely chop the garlic then mash into a paste with some salt using the flat side of your knife. Transfer basil dressing to a salad bowl and stir in the garlic paste along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add the tomatoes, and onions.   Remove the skin from the chicken and chop or shred into bite-size pieces to yield about 4 cups. Add the chicken to the salad bowl and season with black pepper. Toss the salad and adjust seasonings. Fill sub rolls with the chicken salad and serve with a few olive oil chips alongside.  I didn't take a lot of pictures during this segment just because I get going, my hands get soiled and next thing you know, I'm onto the next step.

The pasta dish ended up being my favorite.  I'm not crazy about pesto and I wasn't thinking when I had read the title of the chicken parm salad recipe but "pesto" just didn't seem to jump out at me until I started to gather the ingredients.  Don liked the subs and that's all that matters.  Though I am proud to say that the three herbs in the recipe, were  pulled from my very own garden! :)  I'm so glad I'm not spending money on herbs anymore, at least for the most part.  As I stated earlier, I had to end up roasting my own chicken, otherwise making these two recipes should not have taken me as long as it did.  I didn't mind though, it's always therapeutic for me to spend time in the kitchen.  ~isavortheweekend

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Salmon with Fennel and Mexican Mango Cake

Salmon with Fennel
1999, Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All rights reserved

- 1 (3 pound) fresh salmon
- 2-3 cups sliced yellow onions, 1/4-inch thick (3 pounds)
- 2-3 cups sliced fennel bulbs, 1/4-inch thick (3 pounds)
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fennel fronds
- 1 orange, zested
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Sauté the onions and fennel in the olive oil for 10 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

This is my zester.  The best zester in my opinion.  I got it several years ago through Pampered Chef.

Add the thyme leaves, fennel fronds, orange zest, orange juice, salt, and pepper and sauté for 5 more minutes, until the onions and fennel are tender. Taste for salt and pepper.

Lay the salmon, skin side down, on a cutting board and sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper.  Spread the fennel filling over half of the salmon.  Pull the other half up and over the filling, enclosing it. Tie the salmon every 2 inches with kitchen string to secure the stuffing.  Cook's note:  I didn't do this next part with the string because I realized at the last minute that I didn't have any.

Instead, I just went ahead and placed the fennel and onion mixture on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper after it had been put in the oven for 5 minutes to heat, yea, I know that's weird and I don't know why she has you do this but I just obey.

Carefully transfer the salmon to the hot sheet pan, smother some of the fennel and onion mixture over the top.  Bake it for exactly 30 minutes (10 minutes for each 1-inch of thickness). Do not over bake!  Allow to cool slightly, then remove the strings. To serve, cut into thick slices with a very sharp knife. This salmon is delicious hot or at room temperature.  Note: If you're making this in advance, be sure to cool the filling before stuffing the salmon. Refrigerate until ready to roast.

I haven't made this recipe in probably over a year possibly two.  I think I made it too much  that we just got tired of it.  The hiatus has been long enough as we were both in the mood for it and it did not let us down.  I served it with plain cous-cous because the sauce from the salmon gives it a great flavor.  

Mexican Mango Cake

Recipe courtesy Marcela Valladolid

-  1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
-  3 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
-  1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-  1/2 teaspoon salt
-  6 large eggs
-  2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-  2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
-  2/3 cup buttermilk

Cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally butter and flour a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer beat the 1 1/2 cups of butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, beating well after each addition. In batches, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. 

Bake until the cake is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan.

Invert the cake onto a cake plate or platter. (Cook’s Note: The cake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.)


2 cups chopped fresh or frozen and thawed mango 
2 tablespoons water, plus extra as needed
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus extra if needed
4-8 ounces of cream cheese
2 tbsps. tequila (yea, like I would have that but it is optional)
Edible flowers as garnish, optional) 

Blend until smooth and thick, adding extra water, if needed. Taste and adjust the sweetness with extra sugar, if needed.

Spoon the mango topping evenly over the top of the cake and decorate with edible flowers, if desired.  Cut into slices and serve.

Mango's are quickly becoming a popular food item but I remember at one point in time the only place I ever saw a Mango was in Juarez, Mexico, decades ago.  My mom would often take us there to visit our Aunt Augustina (the best in aunt in all the world!).  So a trip to Juarez for us meant, taking a city line bus to downtown El Paso, TX and then walking and literally crossing the bridge that led into Juarez.  Once there we caught a Juarez city line bus that would take us to the community where my aunt lived, just up the hill.  My aunt would welcome us with open arms and then what seemed to be endless hours, she and my mom would talk, and talk and talk.  We most likely ate lunch there but the biggest treat was to have a Mango just by itself, sticky, sweet slippery little bugers!!  They have a taste all their own so everytime I eat one, it takes me back to my aunt's home.  Seems like the markets are carrying Mangos more and more these days.  I haven't had one in so long so when I saw Marcela make it on her show (Mexican Made Easy) this morning, I just had to make it.  It seemed really easy.  What a good reason to have Mango (besides in a Taco Bell Mango/Strawberry Frustista :)  mmmmm!!!)  The batter reminded me so much of the batter in the coffee cake I made a month or so ago and yes, I had to sift once again but realized that sifting does indeed make a total difference.  The batter is so smooth and silky and when you bite into the cake it is so thick yet soft.  Don loved this and I'm thrilled I made and just may go get me another piece (a small one) after I'm done with this entry.  ~isavortheweekend

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Coffee Break

3-4 heaping tsp. of your favorite Maxwell House International Cafe (Mocha - Latte's my favorite)  |  1 1/2 cups hot water

Combine both ingredients, if you get the "Latte" kind, you can here it "sizzle" ~ it literally sounds like frying eggs but don't worry, it doesn't taste at all like frying eggs.  Anyways, the reason it does that is because it's making the foamy froth on top.   M-m-m-m-mm- this is the way I relax, after a hard days work or spending all day cooking in the kitchen :)  isavortheweekend

Fresh Tomato Salsa

INGREDIENTS:  2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lbs.), stems removed, finely diced.  |  1/2 red onion, finely diced  |  1 jalapeno chili pepper, stems, rib, seeds removed, finely diced  | Juice of one lime |  1/2 cup chopped cilantro  |  Cumin to taste| Salt and pepper to taste

Start with chopping up 2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes.  Prepare the jalepenos peppers.  Be very careful while handling these hot peppers.  If you can, avoid touching them with your hands.  Use a fork to cut up the chilies over a small plate, or use a paper towel to protect your hands.  Wash your hand thoroughly with soap and hot wather after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours.  Combine all of the ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Taste.  If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato.  Add cumin for added taste.  Let set for at least an hour for the flavors to combine (or as some chefs say, "marry").

I made this recipe back in May along with my "Carnitas" recipe but when I posted it, i realized that I didn't take any pictures of the salsa so, I made sure that this time I wouldn't forget.  I cooked Carnitas along with a Mexican feast for my boy who loves Mexican food and who will be headed back to Iraq to finish his tour of duty over there.  This Salsa goes great with the Carnitas and I'm glad I was able to take pictures of it this time.  Below you will see a plethora (well really only three) of pictures that I took.  It is such a beautiful dish I couldn't help it.  ~isavortheweekend

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Watching My Herb Garden Grow

"Herb Row"
L or R:  German Thyme, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, Rosemary and new members of the family, Parsley and Mint at the end on the right.  Basil and Oregano below.

    Basil ~ "Aussie Sweetie"

    Oregano Greek
I'm proud of my herb garden.  I'm thrilled that I can go a couple steps outside my kitchen and grab whichever herb my recipe asks for.  I'm not very successful at growing plants or flowers but for some reason, the good Lord has bestowed upon me his blessing to grow these beautiful, tasty, flavorful herbs.  Even in this scorching hot summer heat that we're having, they are still flourishing!!  I don't understand, I won't ask questions I'm just thrilled that I'm not killing them hence the smile on my face. ~isavortheweekend

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pork Chops

Buttered Pork Chops w/ Lemon Pepper and Rosemary.  Buttered Yukon potatoes and Harvard Sweet and Sour Beets.

Pork Chops  
3 pork chops - any kind/size
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbsp. Trader Joe's lemon pepper seasoning
1 tbsp. kosher Salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
(small plastic bowl contains the seasonings already mixed)

Mix the rosemary, lemon pepper and salt together.  Trim fat off of pork chops.  Rub spice mix on both sides of pork chops.  Melt butter in large frying pan.

Add pork chops to hot melted butter in pan.  Cook 10-15 minutes on both sides or until done.

Buttered Potatoes
2 lbs. yellow yukon potatoes
3 tbsps. unsalted butter, softened
Salt and pepper

Cut potatoes in quarters.  Boil potatoes in two quart pot filled with water, sprinkle with 2 tsps. salt.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until fork tender but not mushy.  

When the potatoes are ready, drain water.  Place potatoes in a serving bowl, add 2-3 tbsps. butter,  season with salt and pepper and gently mix being careful not to tear the potatoes (like I did).

Sweet and Sour Harvard Beets
1 10 oz. jar Sweet and Sour Harvard Beets
Pour beets in a small saucepan.  Stir for about 5 minutes until well heated

This was a pretty quick meal to make.  You know me, I don't want to spend all evening in the kitchen, especially after a hard days work.  I enjoy a good pork chop every now and then but when you serve them with buttered potatoes, mmmm-mmmm.  Regarding the beets, well I wanted something really quick so I just pulled the jar off the shelf and thought, "hmmmm, this's quick and easy".  All I did was dump the whole jar into a microwaveable bowl and heated it for 2 minutes.  Although I do love these kind of beets, I'm still not sure how well they go with my pork chops and potatoes but I guess when you're hungry....anything sounds good.  I was also thrilled to use my new seasoning, my Lemon Pepper seasoning by Trader Joe'.  I bought it on my trip to Short Pump shopping mall just outside of Richmond, VA a few weeks ago and needed a good reason to use it so what better than Pork Chops?   Anyway, this meal ended up being a very satisfying meal, hubby and I both enjoyed it.  

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

by Ina Garten
3 pounds small red potatoes ( I used all Yukon gold today) | Kosher salt | 1 cup good mayonnaise | 1/3 cup buttermilk, milk, or white wine | 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard | 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill | freshly ground black pepper | 1/2 cup medium-diced celery | 1/2 cup small-diced red onion
Place potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt in a large pot of water.  Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife.  Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander wit the potatoes over the empty pot off the heat and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel.  Leave the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but firm.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon and and whole-grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarter or halves, depending on their size (I cut them before I boiled because I didn't follow directions :\ ).  Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl and pour enough dressing over the to moisten.  (As the salad sits, you may need to add more dressing.)  Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Had a small cookout by the pool this 4th of July.  I wanted to make a potato salad and this was the best one I found since I had all of the ingredients.  I'm not big on potato salad but I am slowly beginning to tolerate it.  I'm really liking the way dill goes with potato salad.  

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