Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rested Rosemary

Many a Saturday morning coffee with Ericka ends with a leisurely stroll through Sur La Table.

Prior to one of the more recent Sur La Table excursions with Ericka, I had just received a case of POM Wonderful, 100% Pomegranate Juice in the mail. While browsing through the store a book stopped me in my tracks.


I LOVE tequila.

My favorite tequila is Sauza Hornitos Reposado. (just typing that makes me think "mmmmmm")

Look at that curvy sexy bottle with the agave catcus at the top....

A quick thumb through, in the middle of the book on page 56... a tequila cocktail that calls for pomegranate juice! And it wasn't a Margarita!

Not that I don't LOVE Pomegranate Margaritas! I absolutely DO love them. But, I already made one. Remember?

It was a sign. I had to buy that book!

Unfortunately, I think that was the weekend that I ended up with H1N1. UGH!

I didn't have it bad, but that cough hung on for about 3 weeks. Feeling yucky, not really into the alcohol, know what I mean?

But last week, I finally started feeling more myself. Plus I had purchased some rosemary for the Roasted Rosemary Butternut Squash Penne. I finally decided.

It was time!

Rested Rosemary

1 fresh rosemary sprig
1/2 oz agave nectar
1 1/2 oz reposado tequila
2 oz pomegranate juice

Pull 10 - 12 needles from the bottom of the rosemary sprig and put them in a cocktail shaker. Add agave nectar, tequila and pomegranate juice and muddle.

Fill cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into high ball glass with fresh ice. Garnish with the rosemary sprig.


(yeah... time for a new bottle of tequila!)


I really enjoyed this drink. Jon and I both thought the rosemary was very subtle.

I think next time I'd muddle more rosemary needles with agave nectar and let them rest for awhile to add a little more rosemary flavor. Oh yes... there will be a next time!

This drinks rocks!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Roasted Rosemary Butternut Squash Penne

So I LOVE Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli.

I really wanted to try to make it at home, but dough scares me. And I really don't see me making ravioli of any kind. Ok... once in a while I think I might want to try... but then it seems completely overwhelming and I forget about it.

So instead of ravioli, I decided to turn it inside out, make a Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce for Penne. Maybe that would taste kinda like the ravioli?


Roasted Rosemary Butternut Squash Penne
1 pound penne, cooked according to direction on box
1 recipe Garlicky Rosemary Squash (click the link or recipe follows)
1 - 2 C chicken stock
1/2 C cream
8 oz snap peas
freshly grated nutmeg
handful of chopped walnuts

Toast walnuts in a dry pan and set aside.

Put about half of the Garlicky Rosemary Squash in a large sauce pan. Add about a cup of chicken stock and blend with stick blender, until smooth. Add cream and blend again. If sauce is too thick, add more chicken stock until you get the consistency you want.

Grate in a little nutmeg.

Add remaining Garlicky Rosemary Squash and snap peas to sauce and stir gently. I like really crunchy snap peas, so I just added them to the sauce raw and kept it warm while cooking the penne. If you like your snap peas a little less crunchy, you could steam them before adding them to the sauce.

When the penne is cooked, toss it with the sauce until well mixed.

Sprinkle with toasted walnuts and serve!

Garlicky Rosemary Squash
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled & cubed
2 TBLS fresh rosemary, minced
2 TBLS olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add squash and toss to coat.

Move to a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan and toss gently. Bake, uncovered, at 400 F for 50-55 minutes or until squash is just tender.


So while the Garlicky Rosemary Squash is in the oven, toast the walnuts and set them aside.

Put half of the Garlicky Rosemary Squash in a saucepan.


Add about a cup of the chicken stock and blend.


Blend in the cream

If you want it a little thinner, add more chicken stock and blend.

Stir in the remaining butternut squash

And the snap peas

Oh yeah... almost forgot the nutmeg...

Mix that up... and toss it with the cooked, drained penne.


Sprinkle with toasted walnuts...

I thought this had a nice fall feel to it and would go perfectly with Chicken Apple Sausage.

So I browned up a package of these.


I thought this dinner totally rocked! My family however, was completely under-whelmed.

I didn't expect Jon or Bobby to like it at all. So I wasn't really surprised there. But I kinda thought Tawny and Lilly would like it. But they were totally nonplussed.

But... our friend Andrew happened to stop by after dinner and Jon offered up the leftovers. There were a lot and I knew I couldn't eat them all, so I was pretty happy when he accepted.

He brought them home to Erin and the kids, and they said they enjoyed it! Yay!

Even though I liked it, I probably wouldn't make it again. If I lived closer to my mom, I'd make a much smaller batch and invite her to lunch.

All in all... I was pleased with the outcome! If your family likes squash... this is a keeper!!


Now on a totally separate note, I was lucky enough to receive this Over the Top award from Heather over at girlichef. Thanks Heather!!

I have to answer a few questions...with one word only... that's harder than you think!!


1. Where is your cell phone? desk
2. Your hair? ugh
3. Your mother? awesome
4. Your father? wicked cool (but deceased) he needed more words =)
5. Your favorite food? Mexican
6. Your dream last night? forgotten
7. Your favorite drink? margarita
8. Your dream/goal? patience
9. What room are you in? office
10. Your hobby? cooking
11. Your fear? falling
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
13. Where were you last night? home
14. Something that you aren't? sticky
15. Muffins? sure
16. Wish list items? long
17. Where did you grow up? Wakefield
18. Last thing you did? read
19. What are you wearing? boots
20. Your TV? dusty
21. Your pets? sleeping (probably)
22. Friends? few
23. Your life? cool
24. Your mood? pleasant
25. Missing someone? yup
26. Vehicle? New!!!
27. Something you're not wearing? mustache
28. Your favorite store? Penzey's

Now I'm passing this along to Cathy, Cheryl, Angel in the Kitchen, Denise and Gypsy Girl Gourmet.

Check out their blogs! They're Over the Top!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Have you tried this stuff??? OMG!! It's so good!

The first time I had it, a co-worker brought in some his daughter made for the Super Bowl (YAY Steelers!). It was awesome, just cold out of the fridge.

The next time I had it was at the first official BakeSpace Cookover. Karen picked recipes from BakeSpacers who couldn't attend and we made them to share. One of the recipes she picked was Joy's Buffalo Chicken Dip. Yum!! This time I got to have it warm. *drool*

We often have friends over to watch the Steelers play on Sunday afternoons. Last week it was a 1pm game. I prefer the 4pm games, because then I have more prep time. Anyway... 1pm game means things I can make ahead... or things that don't take much time. Buffalo Chicken Dip definitely doesn't take much time (hey... you could easily make it ahead too!)

Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 C cooked, shredded chicken
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 C blue cheese dressing
3/4 C pepper sauce, such as Franks Red Hot®
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla chips or celery sticks(for you low carbers!)

Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and blue cheese dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm.

Mix in the shredded cheese and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low until hot and bubbly.

Serve with tortilla chips and/or celery sticks.

This is good hot, warm, room temperature or cold!


Yup... my friend the Rotisserie Chicken.

(I always eat the wings while I pull all the meat off of these!)

Heat the shredded chicken and hot sauce in a skillet.

Add cream cheese and blue cheese dressing.

Stir in cheddar.

Into the mini crock pot... and it's game time!!
(or at least snack time!)

Even though everyone was totally groovin' on this, there was a lot leftover.
(Tawny even filled a hotdog bun with dip and some chips and had a Buffalo Chicken Dip Chip Dog)
It makes a really big batch.

What to do with the leftovers? Hmmmm.... Buffalo Chicken Dip Pizza? That might work, right?

I grabbed a couple of Boboli Pizza crusts on my way home the next day.

Spread the dip over them

Bake in a 450F oven until heated through and golden.

Not too bad...

Not bad at all...

How about with some pepperoni?

Careful... it just looks like a regular pepperoni pizza...

But Buffalo Chicken Cheesy and pretty darned good!

While Jon really liked the dip... he was not a big fan of the pizza. But in general, he's really not a pizza fan anyway.

Tawny and Lilly however, really loved it!

Although, Tawny had plans for another Buffalo Chicken Dip Chip Dog, so she would have been happy if the leftovers had remained left over a little longer.

This is definitely a keeper and is super insanely fast and easy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shredded Thai Chicken Salad

And another oldie, from the Pillsbury Best Ever Chicken July 2009 magazine.

A quickie with Rotisserie Chicken.


Shredded Thai Chicken Salad
2 C shredded rotisserie chicken
1 C julienne carrots (match-stick cut)
1 C broccoli slaw mix
1 large green onion chopped
2 TBLS creamy peanut butter
2 TBLS rice vinegar
1 TBLS vegetable oil
1 TBLS honey
4 tsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp red pepper sauce
fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, toss all of the salad ingredients together.

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Just before serving, drizzle over salad and toss until evenly coated.

Garnish with cilantro and peanuts.

How easy is that??

So... a quick stop at the store for a rotisserie chicken.

Yup... I bought two... it was an exceptionally easy dinner week for me!

Shred that beautiful meat.

Toss the salad ingredients together.

Whisk together dressing ingredients.

Toss the salad with the dressing.


Garnish with cilantro (and peanuts, but I just thought of them while typing this out... maybe while we were eating it too... the original recipe didn't call for them but I thought they'd be really nice!)

It probably took me longer to type this than it did to actually make it!


Wicked fast and easy... Wicked Tasty!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Yup... still on a bit of a soup kick.

Last week was unseasonably cold. The Perry High Homecoming Game was also last week... in the rain... and below 40F! (Perry killed.... 31-0... YAY!)

I thought after a cold soggy night of cheering in the rain, Tawny would like some nice warm soup.

She used to LOVE the Broccoli Cheese Soup at Panera. After the game I excitedly let her know that I had just made some Broccoli Cheese Soup... just like she loves from Panera.

She had no recollection of ever having it!! UGH! I swear, she really did like it! I took her there a few times and she always ordered it and raved about it.

Did my soup spark her memory? NO! But she did like it! Whew!


Broccoli Cheese Soup (a copycat to Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup)
2 TBLS butter, melted
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 C melted butter
1/2 C flour
4 C half-and-half
4 C chicken stock (or veggie stock for vegetarian version)
1 pound roasted broccoli (you can use raw)
2 cup carrots, julienned
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
16 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese

Saute onion in 2 TBLS butter. Set aside.

Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half. Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Puree with stick blender. Turn heat to low and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

Garnish with Croutons.


Saute your onions... and set them aside.

Make a roux with the butter and flour.

Stirring constantly, slowly add half & half.

Whisk in chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add Roasted Broccoli (I made extra earlier in the week)

And Julienned Carrots (please ignore my less than stellar knife skills!)

And onions to the soup.


Simmer 20-25 minutes, until veggies are tender.

So while that was simmering, I made some croutons.

I picked up a loaf of Olive Oil bread from the bakery at the grocery store.

Cut it into cubes and tossed it with Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle.

Then I toasted them in a pan with a little olive oil.


Ok... veggies are tender... (and steamy)

Time to blend!

Blend until there are no chunks left.

Time to add the cheese!

Stir until the cheese is all melted.

Grate in a little nutmeg and stir that in.

Soup's on!

I love the golden color with the little flecks of green and orange and brown.

This is a wicked thick, rich soup. And even though I prefer brothy soups, I really enjoyed this soup. Tawny loves creamy soups and really liked this one.

Perfect soup for a damp chilly night!

Have a great weekend!