Archive for the ‘main_dishes’ Category

>For The Love Of Crab Stuffed Flounder

>I prefer to make everything from scratch and try, really try to buy things local and in season. As you know I don’t like anything that has been premixed or prepackaged and will avoid it at all costs if possible.

Now I’m not a total crazy; I buy organic pasta and canned tomatoes, Ghiardelli chocolate chips, things of that packaged nature. However I do have a full time job that, although is completely based in my home office, if often consumes many hours at night as well as my days.

So even though my mixer has a pasta attachment and I would PREFER to make pasta from scratch I have to find a balance; at least until I finish my Time Continuum Controller which will allow me to control how slow or fast time will move and when. Patent pending.

There simply isn’t enough time in a day and the fact that weekends are called weekENDS and not week beginnings, even though we technically consider Saturday the end and Sunday the beginning, (and why is one a compound word and the other two words), that simple fact makes those two days pass faster than the other five.

Boy did I get off track.

Food. I have a lot of things I want to learn how to make from scratch and I think it’s important to buy not only local but sustainable. Therefore I am very particular about when, where and what kind of fish I buy. I know, from homemade food to weekends to fish, yeah… ADD.

I haven’t had fish in a long time, not sure why, but it sounded really good. I just happened to see wild local caught flounder had been rounded up recently so I had some wrapped, thanked it for the sacrifice and married it with some crab. Trust me, the honeymoon was delicious!

Do a little research before you go shopping and you’ll be a better fish buyer before you can say “fishboy boots and cow fins”. If you haven’t looked at your local fish wrangler recently here’s a few tips

Fish farms may SEEM like a good idea and some are but it depends on the fish being raised. Most fillet fishes like salmon, catfish etc actually create more problems than solve. They are raised in large nets and in a single day can generate up to 65,000 lbs of waste. I would NOT want to be their garbage man. This waste falls to the bottom of the seabed floor where it can cause more damage and mess to the natural ecosystem of the water than 13 toddlers let loose in a Toys R Us; and like 13 toddlers this mung can create some nasty harmful bacteria.

Now, lets talk feeding these suckers. These fish farmers don’t just go to their local Pet Smart and buy 30,000 lbs of fish food. So where do they get it? They go catch it of course. Salmon are carnivores that eat, what else, fish. It takes three pounds of fish to grow one pound of farm raised salmon so that math is better left alone.

The good news is the FDA passed a law that requires fish to be labeled by how it’s grown, wild or farmed, and list the country of origin. You’re going to pay a lot more for flounder shipped in from Norway than those caught in Florida. Besides our fish have nice tans. Last time I checked Norway is flippin cold!

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Just for the record there is “dolphin fish” and “dolphin mammal” think Flipper. Dolphin fish is commonly known as Mahi Mahi, Very yummy and totally legal to eat, remember wild. The mammal however is a protected species world wide and illegal, as in go straight to jail, to hunt, sell or eat in all countries.

Lets get down to the hard core, hard as in shellfish. Shellfish has very little impact on the environment when raised in farms. They are quiet, don’t throw rowdy parties, make big old messes and usually just lay there and play nice with Mother Nature. How nice of them. So it’s ok if you buy farm raised shellfish, just look for that caught as close to home.

Ok so what’s fir dinner right, I mean that is what we are working towards.

I couldn’t remember the recipe I made once upon a time so I winged it and threw things together that sounded like they would jive.

I hope you enjoy and Let me know if you have your own variation of this.

 

Crab Stuffed Flounder

Ingredients

4 fresh flounder fillets
1 C. fresh or canned lump crab
4 Tbs butter
1/4 C. celery, finely chopped
1/4 C. green onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 C. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbs oregano, chopped
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 C. heavy cream
1 egg
1/2 C. fine bread crumbs (fresh bread run through a food processor works best)
2-3 Tbs melted butter
1/4 C. grated Parmesan, Romano or Dublin cheese.

Preparation

 
1. Dry fillets completely and lay flat on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

2. In a medium skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Add onion, garlic and celery and saute for 2 minutes.

3. In small bowl combine cream and egg, whip until mixed.

4. Add crab, breadcrumbs, herbs and lemon juice to pan. Remove pan from heat and slowly temper the cream and egg mixture so as not to scramble the egg. Combine well.

5. Spoon 1/4 of crab mixture onto the center of each fillet and starting with the small end of the fish, roll.

6. Place seem side down and baste fillets with melted butter. Dust with salt and pepper and bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

7. After 10 minutes sprinkle with cheese and cook additional 10 minutes or until flaky.

To Plate

Serve over a bed of buttered pasta, basmati rice or risoto. As pictured: basmati and brown grain rice mixed, complimented with wilted spinach salad.

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE

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>Pizza Anytime

>When was the last time you had pizza? Did you make it, buy it from a local pizza palace or was it frozen from a box?

I’m picky about pizza, really picky and I’m not picky, usually; unless we’re talking about “science food”; you know, fake food? Seriously, any food product that has more than 30 letters in it’s name is not food; and contrary to popular belief, pancakes do not come in a box or have 27 ingredients and for the record cheese is NOT EVER powdered.

Science food! Geesh!

Ok so maybe I am a little picky but only about the stuff that goes into my food and where is comes from, not so much as what it is as long as it’s all natural, real food. I’ll eat brussel sprouts and seaweed and be happy, Medicine Man….not so much.

Pizza however is one of those foods that just needs to taste good. The sauce need to be tangy, rich with the aroma and flavor of herbs with just a hint of salt. Dough should be light and airy, cooked to a golden sponge. The cheese should be gooey and melted into a pool of creamy heaven. Mmmmmmmm.

Thankfully we have this amazing born and bred family that run a pizza parlor near home and their food is so amazing. The sauce recipe has been handed down from generation to generation and is a closely guarded secret. Everything is cut up fresh each day, dough is made from scratch and perfectly hand tossed, and pies are cooked in fire ovens to perfection.

We’ve eaten there so much over the last four years the whole family knows us and treat us like part of their own. I just love going in and getting an authentic Italian double cheek kiss from Senore Raymondo when I see him.

Alas eating out is expensive and I just don’t have the time to stop down in the middle of the day to get WizKid and Me some lunch. Now that Medicine Man and I are experimenting with the whole “one car thing” I also don’t have the means to get there.

I love making bread so it made sense to just make our own. Why not? Dough is remarkably versatile and can be frozen for whenever you need it.

So that’s exactly what I did last weekend. Along with breakfast muffins, cookies, bread and sweet rolls I whipped up some pizza dough, divided it into six separate little balls, froze them individually and presto, fresh pizza whenever we want. In my house we all like something different so I made them single serving size.

The best part about pizza is it can be completely different each time, even dessert! It just may be a perfect food. I have no doubt when I get my new freezer I am going to have a lot of pizza dough on standby. Along with Swiss Buttercream courtesy of Rosie from “Sweetapolita“.It is the perfect solution for all the left over egg whites I have from making pastry cream, cream puffs etc. If you haven’t stopped over to see Rosie’s amazing creations you seriously need to. She is incredible!

WizKid is a meatsa-pizza kinda kid so I cooked up some bacon, sausage, cut up ham and pepperoni then bagged them all up for quick access whenever he wants. Thank goodness he’s young and has enough energy to power a small city or else he’d have arteries that flowed like sludge. I think that boy could eat a pound of bacon and not think twice about it. Medicine Man and myself on the other hand are more veggie admirers so I did the same for peppers, broccoli etc.

The very best part of making our own is it’s something we can all do together and have fun. Wiz even gets in and helps roll them out. It becomes a family affair and now any time is pizza time.
Come on let’s go put a pie in the oven.

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PIZZA DOUGH

Ingredients
8 2/3 C. bread flour
3 1/2 C. warm water
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
4 tsp salt
3 Tbs cornmeal
2 Tbs seasoned oil (see recipe below)
Preparation
1. Mix flour, water, yeast, salt and cornmeal in large mixing bowl and mix on low speed until incorporated.
2. Increase mixing speed to medium and mix an addition 2 or 3 minutes slowly adding the oil in four increments. 
3. Coat a bowl lightly with oil or cooking spray and scrap dough into bowl. Cover bowl and put in warm place for about one hour. 
4. After first hour remove dough and kneed for 30 seconds or stretch and fold.
5. Put dough back into proofing bowl for another 45 minutes. 
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide evenly. The size will depend on your preference for us. For individual pizzas cut into 9 ounce section. 
7. Roll each section into a ball and set refridgerator for 4-6 hours. Or wrap each in oiled plastic wrap and freeze for future use. To thaw let rest on counter for a couple of hours or in refridgerator over night. 
8. To roll and bake: heat over to 500 degrees – these babies need to cook on some serious high heat. Roll dough flat to about 3/8 inch thick for thin crust. Don’t try to force the dough. Give it a good roll and then let it sit for a few minutes to roll again. Allowing it to rests lets the dough relax and more pliable with each rest.
9. Transfer dough discs to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or cooking peal dusted with additional cornmeal. 
10. Using left over seasoned oil, lightly brush just the edges of the pizza trying to avoid dripping on pan. 
11. Top with your favorite seasoning and cook for about 12 minutes.

SAUCE

Ingredients

 2 14 oz cans of organic tomato sauce
1 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 small onion minced – really small
2 cloves garlic minced – even smaller
2 Tbs basil and oregano or italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Preparations

Combine all ingredients and let sit in fridge for several hours before use ( you can use it right away but letting it sit gives the ingredients a chance to mix and meld.

Store in air tight container in fridge or freeze.

Some freezing options. Measure out enough for pizza size of choice (or several so you have your choice) and place in ice cube trays or small muffin pans (perfect for personal pizza) and freeze. Once completely set, remove and store in freezer bags until ready to use.

I like to keep a bin in my fridge for my pizza dough and sauces so they are both readily available when the craving starts.

SEASONED OIL

Ingredients

1/2 – 3/4 C. olive oil
1 tsp dried basil or italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preparation

Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container or oil dispense. I keep this stuff on hand for pizza, pasta dishes you name it.

Feel free to play with the ingredients. I grow tons of fresh herbs and like to add these as well for a richer flavor.

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE

>Around The World Cheese Pasta

>Comfort Food

Quick what just came to mind? Tonight for me it was macaroni and cheese. It’s been FOREVER since I had macaroni and cheese. Warm, melted gooey goodness dripping off a fork.

Oh my!

Today was Monday and ugh what a Monday. Nothing in particular really MADE it an Ugh Monday; it just was. Therefore I wasn’t in the mood to cook. I mean really get down and deep in my kitchen kinda cooking you know what I mean?

I needed something quick and for me that means anything that can be prepped and cooked in an hour or so. When you cook everything from scratch, rarely do I find anything that takes me less than 30 mins. I tried, really I did but well, I haven’t been successful with that yet. I simply can not bring myself to buy pre-prepared food in a bag or a box or a little plastic container that says “Just pour”. I did that and I remember all too well where THAT landed me; Unhappy with food and downright miserable in my kitchen.

And I just don’t have the energy to talk about the ingredients in most of that stuff. Can you say “Mad Science!?” That’s a whole other story and you’re welcome to dive into the whole ugly business in my “Why Butter” page. For tonight I just wanted quick but comforting and sitting at my computer “macaroni and cheese” came to me like a warm blanket wrapping itself around me on a cold night.

Rummaged through the freezer and fridge and there on the shelf were the blocks of cheeses I bought on a whim a few weeks ago. Cheeses from Italy and France, Ireland and Switzerland, Holland and yes even Milwaukee Wisconsin.

I had my muse.

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I’ve always wanted to travel around the world and although I have yet to begin, I think tonight’s dinner comes close…kinda.

Okay, here’s the dealio. If you don’t have a smorgasbord of cheeses on hand or perhaps a little tight in the purse strings, no problem it’s just a very worldly version of your every day Mac & Cheese. Good old Cheddar works just find by itself. You really can’t go wrong (except maybe with some Longaberger, I don’t recommend it).

Mix up any of the cheeses you have and see what you create. Stop by and let me know if you find a perfectly ambrosia combination.

Around The World Cheese Pasta

Ingredients

3 C. Rotini, Penne or other bite size pasta; uncooked
1/2 C. Butter
1/4 C. All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Dry mustard
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 C. Milk
1 C. Heavy cream
1 C. Sharp cheddar cheese, grated.
1/2 C. Swiss cheese
1/2 C. Gruyere cheese
1/2 C. Dubliner cheese
1/4 C. Romano cheese
1/2 C. Panko bread crumbs
2 C. Broccoli florets quartered
1 1/2 C Fresh ham diced to about 1/2 inch

Preparations:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Grate all cheeses and set aside.

3. In small bowl, combine Romano and bread crumbs. Set aside.

4. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

5. Lightly butter a two quart casserole dish and spread the ham in a layer at the bottom of the dish.

6. In a second layer add the broccoli florets adding more if needed or desired.

7. In separate large sauce pan melt butter over low heat.

8. Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat.

9. Stir in milk and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute or until thickened.  remove from heat.

10. Stir in cheese until melted. The milk may be hot enough to melt the cheese on it’s own. If not add pot back to a low heat stove stirring constantly to avoid clumping or over cooking.

11. Drain macaroni and gently add into cheese sauce. Stir to combine completely.

12. Pour into casserole dish. Bake uncovered until bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE

>Rainbow Inspired Romano Pork Chops

>I had to go to Bethesda last week to touch base with the Mother Ship, the main office.
I don’t have to go very often, usually only about twice a year for a couple of days.

We have a fantastic crew and it’s always great seeing everyone. Not too mention, Bethesda is just a really cool town. It has this vibe, this energy, that gives the city a pulse. I’ve never been to New York but I imagine it to be like a mini New York; always something new to see; always awake and in motion.
There are incredible places to eat and the tulips are simply beautiful if we’re lucky enough to get there in the Spring when they’re blooming. I’m pretty such the Big Apple doesn’t have tulips.

The flight from Tampa is a straight shot if I fly into Washington Reagan Airport, which I always do. The other plus is the super cool DC METRO picks up at the airport and just happens to drop off in Bethesda right below the parking garage to my office.

Talk about convenient right?

Any-who, I flew up early Tuesday morning and caught the 7:45 flight home on Wednesday. It rained the second day of the trip, oh and just happened to be a whopping 22 degrees COLDER than the day before.

81 on Tuesday
49 on Wednesday

What is UP with THAT?!

The rail trip back to DCA was quiet and just as we approached the airport a massive full rainbow appeared that was brighter than any I had ever seen before. It was like a paintbrush had swiped the sky and left this dazzling ribbon of color to send me off.

I took my Nikon with me and snapped a few photos between trains and below are a couple of the good shots. These have been uploaded directly from my camera with absolutely no post-process altering. What you see is what I saw.

Pretty amazing huh? And did I say it was a complete arc?

But the show wasn’t over yet. As I stood on the platform snapping a few shots I noticed off to the right a second rainbow began to form.

If you look in this next shot off in the right corner you can just see the second one faintly. Like the Little Engine that Could it tried and tried but just as it got a little steam a huge rain cloud blew in and took them both away.

The twin bows were a fantastic send off and they stayed with me the next couple of days as I settled back into the routine of life and catching up on 53,737,219,486 emails and pending tasks. I think I’m making a dent in them though I got about ten done by Friday.

Not bad I think.

The best part of coming home, besides the waiting muscular arms of Medicine Man and kisses from WizKid, was returning to my therapy den; my kitchen, and I thought it would be great to make something colorful, being inspired as I was by the ribbons of colorful light that sent me home in style.

Took a recipe for some pork chops, modified it a bit and threw together some complimentary side dishes and voila, Rainbow Inspired Romano Pork Chops, with ham and garlic sauteed asparagus over a bed of buttered herb rotini.

Romano Crusted Pork Chops

adapted from original recipe by: sgrishka

Ingredients

2 1/2-inch thick Center-cut loin pork chops; (bone-in or boneless)
3/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. fresh or dried rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. fresh or dried thyme
1/2 C. Romano cheese; freshly grated
1/4 C. Swiss cheese; freshly grated
1 large Eggs
1 Tbs. Vegetable oil
1 C. Dried Panko bread crumbs
Olive oil; (for shallow frying)
4 cloves Garlic; peeled and chopped

Preparations:

1. Spread cheeses in a shallow dish. Beat eggs with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in another shallow dish. spread bread crumbs in a third shallow dish.

2. Dry pork chops thoroughly. Combine salt, pepper, sage, and thyme, and sprinkle generously over both sides of chops.

3. Dredge seasoned chops in Parmesan cheese, coating both sides completely. Then, dip both sides of chops in egg mixture, letting excess drip back into dish to ensure thin coating. Finally, dip both sides of chops in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs with fingers to form an even, cohesive coating.

4. Place breaded chops aside and let sit for 5 minutes.

5. Heat 1/4 cup of olive or cooking oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. To flavor oil; stir in garlic, and cook until lightly browned. Remove garlic and Increase heat to medium. When oil shimmers, add chops and fry 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy, or to an internal temperature between 150 and 160 degrees F.

6. Drain on rack set over baking sheet, then transfer to a warm serving platter. Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with parsley sprigs.

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE

>Apple and Drunk Shrimp Pasta

>The was a little excitement in the house yesterday. We had a special delivery of our long awaited little one. Just a precious dear thing, wrapped up in a little bundle ready for plenty of attention.

WHAT?? A BABY!!??? Are you crazy? I have three boys and am already 40.

No you silly it’s our iPad 2, white with 64g and Verizon 3G connect.

Do NOT freak me out like that again.

As you know (or at least you do now) I work at home for a medical software company. I’m sure if I look in my contract somewhere in tiny tiny small print it says multi-tasking is a must and all financial compensation relies on said function.

We are growing and growing fast and any given time of day I’m working on several things at once. I can’t complain, I work at home (yes I said that) and have six weeks of paid time off each year since I started. Plus it’s a pretty cool company to work for.

Happy herbs

I needed something to help me keep track of everything for work, the clients, meetings, you name it.

Through trial and error and some major crash and burns I’ve found a few programs and functions that have helped me along the way. One of them is a fantastic program called “NoteBook” by a company called Circus Ponies – you have to love that!

I wont get into how amazing this thing is and how its like having a document folder, paper notebook, voice memo recorder, to do list secretary all in one place. What I can tell you is it has revolutionized the way I work and helped me find more time to take on more tasks. Hmmmm did I just say that was a good thing?

Furthermore CircusPonies should be paying me royalties for as many people Ive turned on to this.

Hello Adam Developer are you listening?

Anyway a few months back I saw the Notebook developers were coming out with a full fledged iPad app of the program that would allow me to synch my notes between my MAC and iPad without losing any of the functions I love about the MAC version. That was stipulated of course on the fact I HAD both.

At that time I did not … Yet.

Did I mention it’s only for Apple products? I don’t think I did. Sorry PC’s.

I knew then and there I was going to get an iPad if only for this program but I wanted too wait until the new iPad was released and of course the Notebook app as well.

So I waited and waited and finally all the planets aligned (which translated means the Notebook app was published, the iPad was released and I had the money to pay for it). Put my order in wait two weeks and viola it arrived on my doorstep yesterday courtesy of the Boys in Blue. (FedEx) Or do they really wear a shade of dark purple? May an indigo or violet.

Not only did Notebook synch like a charm and work amazing but I found some super cool other apps that were not available on my iPhone. (yes I am a total Apple convert. More a MACaholic I think and no I don’t want therapy thank you)

For example the app I’m writing this entire blog post from with drop and drag photo integration – Blogsy. Just fun and easy to use although it’s pretty new and I’m finding has some quirks to work out. 

Then there is a web browser that looks, acts and feels just like Firefox – Terra

The most uber awesomest app so far (next to Notebook of course) – Air Display.

This unassuming little program turns my iPad into a separate monitor for my MAC where I can drop and drag programs running on my laptop back and forth between the two screens. Talk about genius! Sure the whole dual monitor thing has been around forever but to have it avail on the iPad where it’s not taking up so much desk space and has it’s own spectacular use to it – genius! Practical and genius!!

The whole house was giddy (as silly as it seems considering it’s only a piece of technology) with it’s ultimate total coolness in a cute sleek little thing.

So it called for a party. (of sorts – or perhaps just an excuse to eat something super creamy & buttery. But then I never need an excuse to do that).

Something about vodka pasta called to me….but I didn’t have vodka, and I wanted shrimp too. Digging through my pantry I found rum and vermouth and it gave me an idea. Consulted the shrimp – they were all in.

Party time!

Boy were they smashed!

I understand their excitement but I think they took it a little too far.

It was no use trying to sober the little party animals up, they were good and cooked!

And let me tell you… Sooo delicious 🙂

Drunk Shrimp Pasta



Ingredients:

6 oz linguine or pasta of choice
3/4 lb. peeled and deveined uncooked shrimp
4 medium tomatoes mini diced and juices reserved
OR
1 14oz can petite diced tomatoes (if you do not have the fresh herbs buy a can of Italian seasoned tomatoes)
1/8 cup fresh basil chopped
2 Tbs fresh sage chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
2 Tbs fresh oregano chopped
3-4 large garlic cloves chopped but not minced
4 Tbs real butter
3 Tbs vermouth
3 Tbs rum
3 Tbs heavy cream
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
3 basil leaves coarsely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparations:

1. Pour tomato, 1/3 of the garlic, parsley, sage, basil, oregano into a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let sit for a minimum of 20 minutes to infuse flavors.

2. Cook pasta to package directions. Drain and mix with 1-2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil to prevent sticking.

3. In a large skillet or Dutch oven melt 2 Tbs butter. Add shrimp and saute until just beginning to pink up.
4. Add onion and sauté for two minutes on medium heat or just until soft but not brown. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

5. Add tomato mixture and cook 7 minutes until reduced slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Pour in rum and vermouth and cook another 5-7 minutes until aroma of alcohol subsides and incorporates into sauce.

7. Add remaining butter and cream. Cook until thickened about 3-5 minutes.

8. Combine sauce and pasta, mix well. Serve.

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE
 

>I Now Pronounce You Chicken And Pig

>We had chicken last night for dinner.

We had it again tonight.

I’m not normally one to make the same protein two nights in a row but I had extra chicken thawed from last night and all the laws of the chicken universe decreed I had to cook it.

But how? Last night we had this incredible chicken smothered in artichoke, leek, onion and lemon sauce over organic rotini pasta. Don’t worry that recipe will be forthcoming.

Tonight had to be something quite different; well as different as chicken can get from itself. I wasn’t in the mood for Mexican or Chinese; no bar-b-que, fried..hmmm.
I scanned through my trusty go-to-for-quick-idea site BigOven.com but in 170,000 nothing jumped out and said “ME ME MAKE ME!!”.

Sigh.

I decided to let it go and just let inspiration do what it wanted.

We had to eat right?

I pulled myself up into the kitchen and two steps past the dogs bowls I saw beautiful, glorious strip of bacon wrapping themselves around petite chicken breast and knew I had my base. A perfect marriage!

After that it was easy. Maybe it was something I had seen once in a magazine or perhaps someone named Jamie, Rachael or Paula had cooked it up on TV. Perhaps it was just a suppressed memory. Then maybe, just maybe there’s a brain cell in my head wearing a little white apron, sitting in the lotus pose (imagine the Buddha) channeling the ideas from chef’s long past.

No I didn’t sleep well last night thank you for asking.

Regardless of what was responsible for dinner I soon had asparagus, green onions, fresh parsley, tarragon and oregano layering themselves onto a perfect bed of butter and saffron rice. Yes, I actually tapped into my precious, heavily guarded, minincule supply of saffron.

When it was all done I had something amazing. A symphony of flavor that even Medicine Man and Wiz Kid sang to. (Not literally).

And yes, someday I will live in a house with white walls, lots of natural light and eventually figure out how to use this rock star camera that I’m treating as if it was a cheap point and shoot.

For now…let’s eat.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breast With Asparagus Over Rice

Ingredients:

1 cup basmati rice cooked to package directions
2 large chicken breasts cut in half (about the size of your palm)
8 slices regular bacon
12-15 asparagus – tops only cut to about 4 inches
1 small onion minced
2 green onions sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp Each, thyme, tarragon, parsley – use fresh if available but dry will work
1/4 cup fresh parmesean cheese – grated
2 Tbs unsalted real butter
salt & pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add minced onion and garlic. Cook approximately 2-3 minutes until soft.

Add chicken, season with salt, pepper and spices. Brown on all sides on medium heat about until almost completely cooked through – about 10 minutes.

Remove from pan onto cutting board or prep counter.

Place 3-4 asparagus spears on top of flattest part of chicken, lengthwise, then wrap chicken with two slices of uncooked bacon.

Set wrapped chicken onto oven sheet and bake until bacon is cooked through but not crispy. About 15 minutes.

To plate:

Add 1/2 cup rice to center of dish. Top with chicken, grated cheese and green onions.

Enjoy!

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE

>Mama’s Magical Shepherd Pie

>Recently we hopped on a broomstick…er I mean in the car and spent a few days at Universal Studios in Orlando. Our goal – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Now we love Disney, we sing Disney on the hilltops but when it comes to this little section of “Islands of Adventure”….. Universal out-Disneyed Disney. It’s nothing short of magically delicious…oh wrong magic man.

The Butter Beer alone is worth the admission fee..although I admit that would make for some pretty pricey thirst therapy. Seriously my sweet wonderous Butter Beer – you could just be worth it.

Even the NAME has Butter in it. It must be the most perfect beverage ever created.
I’m starting to think it was made just for me. All that hypnotizing creamy-soda-ish-root-beer-ish-butter-carmelly-topped-liquid-gold-with-foamy-whipped-creamy-spell-casting-instant-addiction-bliss. It simply must have been made for me, right?

Butter Beer…just thinking about it I want to jump in the car sprinkle it with pixie due (I know wrong park but I don’t care) and make that little Infiniti fly me right to the gate of that wondrous place. Let’s see 73 minutes….traffic is light…yes I could make it back home for bed.

Oh sorry…where was I..

RIGHT Harry Potter.

If the Butter Beer isn’t enough to satisfy, and trust me it is.. then the Fantastic Voyage ride inside Hogwarts castle is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. It’s beyond imagination..except well somebody or somebodies did imagine it because it exists so scratch that. I think you get tge point. Trust me this is a ride you actually WANT to get stuck waiting and hour in line fir. The queue itself is enchanting.

Anyway after shopping for all the necessities any budding young wizard needs, wand, magic robe, owl, chocolate frogs and completely disgusting jelly beans, …we stopped in at “The Three Broomsticks” for some very witchy-wizardly food and Medicine Man summoned up some Shepherd’s Pie.

It was delightful!

Of course I knew what was coming next…..wait for it…..

“Honey you need to make this.”

See told you it was coming.

So always ready to pounce on any foodie interest Medicine Man even raises his eyebrows at, back at home I set out to find a good Irish shepherd’s pie recipe and found one on BigOven.com (my one stop recipe shop).

Being my mother’s daughter of course I couldn’t leave it alone. I added a little of my own magic and
Bibbidy…bobbidy..boo! (or is that A-la-peanut-butter-sandwhiches!?)…VIOLA!

Mama’s Magical Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

2 lb. Ground beef, lean

1 C. Onion; diced

1 C. Carrots; diced

1 C. Green beans

1 C. Corn; fresh or frozen

2 Garlic cloves; minced

Salt; to taste

Pepper; to taste

1/2 tsp paprika

8 oz Beef broth

2 Tbs Butter; mixed with

2 Tbs Flour

5 medium Potatoes; cooked and mashed
3-4 Tbs Butter
1 1/2 Tbs Herbs de Province
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heavy whipping cream (added to potatoes to desired creaminess – usually 2-3 Tbs)


Preparation

Peel and dice potatoes into approximately 1″ cubes. Rinse with cold water. Cover potatoes with cold water and cook in microwave or in boiling water on stove for 15 minutes.

Cook ground beef in frying pan until brown with a little salt, pepper and fresh parsley if on hand.

Add onion, carrots, green beans, garlic, salt, pepper and paprika. (you can add corn into the mixture as I did or as a separate layer between the mashed potatoes and beef mixture).

Lower heat and cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are wilted.

Add beef broth, bring to a boil.
Stir in enough of the butter/flour roux to make a thick gravy to bind the filling.

Pour into large shallow baking pan and cool. The filling should be about 1-1/2 inches deep.

Drain potatoes and add butter, salt, pepper, herbs de province & cream. Mash well.

Cover the meat mixture in the pan with the corn if not mixed in already and then top with the hot mashed potatoes.

Smooth potatoes evenly, brush surface with butter. Bake at 325 F for 35-40 minutes.

Serve and indulge!

Now Medicine Man is not a leftover man. He rarely ever is willing to dip into the fridge for something cooked, wrapped up and left to get cold only to be reheated another day.

I must say however, and shhhhh don’t mention it to him because I don’t think he’s noticed, ever since I’ve started cooking “real” food again he has been going for those leftovers more and more.

However one thing he never does is take leftovers to work……until Shepherds Pie. Not only did he take the rest of the first batch to work but he’s requested I make it specifically so he can take the rest to with him.

Now THAT is nothing short of magical!

All we need is the Butter Beer.

CLICK TO PRINT RECIPE