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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sunday on the Deck

After a successful day of golf (did I mention breaking 100) it was time to just relax. The warm early evening called for eating on the deck. While I searched the pantry and frig for a "toss together dinner" that would go well with a good bottle of red wine, my husband put together the outdoor table and mom enjoyed her Manhattan.

First Course: Chopped Salad. Thinly sliced iceberg lettuce was mixed with onion, broccoli tops, celery, green and red bell peppers and tossed with a dressing of olive oil, pinot grigio vinegar and a variety of fried herbs. The salad was served with crusty bread and a garlic olive oil dip.

Entree: Penne with Arrabbita Sauce. Rustichella d'abruzzo's penne and arrabbita sauce really kick up an ordinary plate of pasta with red sauce! It was a small jar of sauce so a cup of Lucini marinara was added.

Wine: 2007 Passalacqua Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel from the Bevil Heirloom Vineyard. It was excellent. We have enjoyed Passalacqua Zinfandel many times before, but as we read the label on this particular bottle we were informed that we were drinking a a "collectible" Zinfandel,.... with a production of only 280 cases. Oh well we don't know enough about wine to know if we drank it too early, but then we are not into wine collection, just wine enjoyment.

An additional note about our wine enjoyment....we do use an aerator on our wine. I will talk more about those wine toys in another entry.

I will be on vacation for a while and have no "substitute blogger" but if you are craving sweets check out a new blog "Scrumptious Swirls," created by one of my followers above. I have enjoyed her products...unique,beautiful,tasty!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Chicken Marsala

My golf buddy wanted specifics when it comes to making Chicken Marsala for her husband, who is also a golf buddy. Did I mention golf? Speaking of golf, I broke 100 yesterday! I shot a 43 on the front nine and 50 on the back nine...I had 4 pars and numerous wasn't a really tough course but it is golf which means anything can happen. Ok, now that I have bragged, back to the chicken that I prepared two days prior to breaking 100.

First Course: "Our Bender Tomatoes." This is the salad which I have offered previously...tomatoes, onion and blue cheese in a balsamic vinaigrette. My version does not compare with the restaurant's signature salad (they have a talent for the best tomatoes all year) but it is a tasty salad to be enjoyed with crusty bread.

Entree: Chicken Marsala. In my initial blog I indicated that this blog would not be about specific recipes but more about ideas and adaptations of recipes.But since my "friend" seemed desperate for details I will try to be helpful.

Pound chicken breasts and dust with flour. Set aside. In a skillet heat a teaspoon of olive oil and a pat of butter. Over medium heat saute shallots and thinly sliced garlic. When slightly brown remove shallots and garlic and set aside. Add a bit more olive oil and a smaller pat of butter and brown the mushrooms. This time I used crimini and shitake (one package of each). I add a small amount of Marsala to the mushrooms as they brown. Remove and set aside. Again add a small amount of olive oil and butter to the skillet and brown the thin chicken breasts. Remove breasts and set aside. Add to the skillet a cup of chicken broth and a half cup of Marsala and reduce.I also add chicken demi glace for a richer flavor. Season with fresh ground black pepper. As the broth reduces return the chicken breasts, mushrooms, shallots and garlic to the skillet until warm. If the liquid is too thick add more Marsala.

Side: Asparagus. The large (I prefer very thin asparagus) asparagus was tossed with olive oil and roasted.

Wine: 2008 Hook and Ladder Pinot Noir. (A phone call earlier in the day from Marcus at Hook and Ladder informed us that this particular wine had just received a 90 rating. He was offering a special order...personal marketing...nice touch)


Next: The dinner enjoyed to celebrate breaking 100!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tuna Pasta Salad

A dinner for just mom and me and the thought of comfort food was in the air! I gave her choices - a cold tuna pasta salad, a tuna noodle casserole (which meant I was even willing to use canned soup in her honor) or broiled white fish. She chose the cold pasta salad, saving me from opening a "can of cream soup."

Tuna Pasta Salad:
Putting my own twist on the salad I used three-cheese torts. The cooked torts were combined with the cooked peas, tuna (bagged in water), scallions, part mayo with olive oil and a tablespoon of Miracle Whip (for her.), and seasoned with a dash of salt and fresh ground pepper. The mixture was topped with cherry tomatoes.

Beverage: One Manhattan for the mom and bottled water for the cook.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Mom's Day Luncheon

Not knowing the exact number who "might drop by," makes preparation a little difficult, but I planned so that 20 could have a sampling and 10 could have plenty. I also made dishes that could be saved for a later Sunday snack or another lunch or dinner.

Four generations and both of our mom's made the day special. And a gift from my sister, a baby blanket for the newest little family members who visit. Her card carried the quote "the simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate is called a grandparent."

The offerings:
Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese:
This dish was adapted from the May 2008 issue of Food and Wine. It recommended using a rotisserie chicken, which I purchased from local grocer. White wine vinegar was mixed with mayo (I used the lower fat mayo with olive oil)and then blue cheese was folded in. This was added to shredded/diced chicken, celery, green and red grapes and seasoned with ground black pepper. I also added scallions and eliminated the sunflower seeds knowing that one of the guests cannot eat nuts.The salad was served with slices of crusty bread and mini buns.

Smoked Salmon Bite Wraps: I was looking for a way to easily serve a favorite dish of smoked salmon,capers, purple onion and cream cheese. Tortillas were spread with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon, a few salad greens, the onion and capers, and then rolled and cut into fours.

Greek Salad: The usual ingredients, cucumber, onion, red and green peppers were sliced thinly with the mandolin. These were layered along with cherry tomatoes cut in half, black and green olives and feta cheese. The dressing was olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and fresh and dried oregano, minced garlic and ground black pepper.

Cheese Platter: The platter included brie, cheddar and goat cheese served with Pecan, rosemary and raisin crisps (my favorite Raincoast Crisps) and standard crackers. Sliced pepperoni was included.

Guests Dishes: Three Bean Salad, A Fresh Fruit Platter, and Angel Food Cake and Strawberries. I typically do not accept offers from guests to "bring something," but not knowing how many would "stop by," I accepted the offer for some family favorites. The offerings were a nice compliment to the other dishes.

Beverages: Bloody Marys, Hook and Ladder Chardonnay, soda, coffee and bottled water.

It ended up that we had eight adults and three little ones so there was plenty of food left. A variety of the items were wrapped up for a brother-in-law who was unable to attend but has reminded all that "Fathers Day is June 20!" Others took home a variety of fruit and the Angel Food Cake and Strawberries.

Later that evening I added salad greens to the left over Greek Salad and three of us enjoyed it for dinner. The day after we enjoyed Chicken Salad Croissants, Three Bean Salad, and fresh fruit for dessert.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Reduced Balsamic Coated Salmon

And more salmon...but so healthy. We certainly prefer wild salmon purchased the same day, but I do keep a bag of frozen salmon on hand for those days I cannot make it to the grocer. For this dish I did use the salmon from the bag.

Entree: Reduced Balsamic Coated Salmon. I had reduced the balsamic vinegar previously and preserved it. The balsamic was combined with a little olive oil. The salmon was coated on one side and placed on a hot grill pan, using the one side cooking method. The balsamic produced a crispy glaze.

Sides: Sliced Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella. Slices of tomato and mozzarella were alternated, seasoned with pepper and basil leaves and a splash of olive oil.
Peas. Just frozen peas.

Dessert: Raspberry Sorbet with Fresh Blueberries and Raspberries. Our local grocer has started carrying the individual servings of sorbet. They are an ideal size to split as a light dessert and top with a favorite fresh fruit.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sandwich and Soup

And before we talk food, let us remember May 4 1970, lest we ever forget....Kent State University.

Some evenings collide with busy schedules and what is quicker than soup and sandwich, but these can still be creative and tasty.

Soup: Roasted Red Pepper Soup in a box (soup in a box is acceptable but not wine). Sherry was added to the soup while it was heating.

Sandwich: Three cheese with tomato and arugula on multi wheat. Shaved Parmesan was combined with Swiss and cheddar cheese. A small amount of butter was added to the skillet and the sandwiches were browned on each side. The arugula and tomato were added.

Side: A dill pickle.

Beverage: Bottled Fiji. I know!! As my daughter reminds me, bottled water is not very eco friendly. (I could have lied and said we just had a glass of water.)