Thursday, March 7, 2013

Caesar Salad

2 tablespoons mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 whole lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 loaf crusty French or Italian bread
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 head of romaine lettuce

In a blender or food processor mix the mustard, vinegar, worchestershire sauce, garlic and lemon juice together for several seconds until the garlic has broken down.

With the blender on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  Scrape down the sides and add the parmesan cheese.  Pulse a few times until completely blended.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cube the bread into 1 inch cubes and put on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, garlic powder, and salt and toss around until each bread cube is coated.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

After washing the romaine, chop into 1 inch strips.

To put the salad together, drizzle some of the dressing along the sides of the salad bowl.  Put in the lettuce and drizzle a little over the top.  Toss together with two spoons until everything is evenly coated.  If lettuce is too dry add some more dressing.  The last thing you want to do though is overdress your salad, so add a little at time.  Now toss in the croutons and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.  Serve and enjoy!

*Justine's Tip*- store leftover dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator! It only gets better!

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Chocolate Souffle for Two

Souffles are usually thought to be very difficult things to master.  This souffle is so easy and completely full proof!  It also makes a small batch so you don't need to make such a huge amount!

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using 1 tablespoon of butter, grease two 8 ounce ramekins.  I didn't have 8-ounce ramekins so I used one 16 ounce ramekin.  Either works fine.  Coat the ramekins with cocoa powder and tap the excess out.

In a large microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of butter in 30 second bursts, stirring in between each burst.  Continue microwaving until melted and smooth.  Stir in the vanilla.

Separate the eggs next.  Do this by cracking your egg and putting the yolks into each half of the egg shell while the whites drip into a bowl below.  Then put your yolks into the mixture that was just microwaved.

In a clean bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar just until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture.  Do not mix roughly as you will deflate the egg whites.  Spoon into the ramekins.  You can cover this with plastic and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

Bake for 20 minutes or 30 if using the 16 ounce ramekin.  If coming directly from the refrigerator bake for 5 minutes more than the usual time.

Serve and enjoy!

*Justine's Tip*- When baking try to leave the oven door as closed as possible.  Opening it up a lot releases a lot of heat which will make your baked good cook unevenly. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pasta with Vodka Sauce

One of the simplest, quickest, and most delicious sauces is Vodka Sauce.  Most of the ingredients you probably have in your kitchen already!

4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons butter
3 oz pancetta
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vodka
1 35 ounce can plum tomatoes
1/4 cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 pound short cut pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Putting a lid on it will help it boil faster.  Once it boils, toss in a few tablespoons of salt.  Pour in the pasta.  I used mezzi rigatoni but any short cut is perfectly fine. Follow the box for how long to cook for.  Once cooked, strain the water off and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat up the butter.  Finely chop the garlic and put it into the butter.  Stir around for 2 minutes to heat the garlic, but not brown it.  Chop up the pancetta and put it into the garlic and butter along with the crushed red pepper flakes.  Continue to move all of the ingredients around the pan so nothing burns.

After the pancetta has begun to brown, which should take about 4-5 minutes, pour in the vodka and scrape everything off the bottom of the pan with your spoon.

Allow the alcohol to cook out of the mixture for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile put the tomatoes in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour this into the pan.  Allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Now you can pour in the cream and parmesan cheese.  Cook everything together for another 5 minutes.

Add in your pasta and toss together for another 1-2 minutes until the sauce completely coats the pasta.  Serve hot and enjoy!

*Justine's Tip*- Cook your pasta 1-2 minutes less than the packaged directions and finish cooking it in your sauce. Pin It Now!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cheesecake Brownie Hearts

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought it would be a great idea to make brownies in heart shaped pans.  They sell them in almost any grocery or party store.  I even saw them in a drug store the other day.  I found the silicone ones which are great for easy removal, but a metal one will work just as well.  If you can't find them then a regular muffin tin works just as well or a brownie pan.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetend cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake topping:
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Well grease whatever pan you are using, especially if it is a metal pan.

In one bowl mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Beat in one egg at a time until fully combined.  Carefully beat in the flour, cocoa powder and salt until combined.

This batter made about 12 hearts, which would be the equivalent of 12 muffin tins or one 9 x 9 in baking dish.  Distribute batter evenly between every muffin cup.

In a separate bowl beat together the cream cheese, egg, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Drop about a tablespoon onto each muffin cup.  Using a knife, swirl the cream cheese into the brownie.

Bake for 19-21 minutes or until cheesecake sets up on top.  Cool for an hour.  Gently remove from pan.  Serve and enjoy!

*Justine's Tip*- after greasing your pan, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes.  This creates a barrier so the food will not stick!

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Breakfast Potatoes

4 russet potatoes
1 bell pepper
2 yellow onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Put the potatoes into a pot of water that has been seasoned with salt.  Allow to cook on high heat for 15 minutes.

Finely chop the peppers and thinnly slice the onions.  Saute in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil.  Cook until soft. Should take as long as it takes for the potatoes to cook.

Once the potatoes are finished cooking, take them out of the water and slice into thin pieces or make small dices.  Put another tablespoon of oil with the vegetables and toss in all of the potatoes. Toss with a little salt and pepper. Press down so that everything is in an even layer in the pan.  Allow to brown for 5-7 minutes.  Then flip over small sections of the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes on the other side.  Serve and enjoy!

*Justine's Tip*- Save leftover potatoes and mix with lightly beaten eggs.  Brown everything in a skillet until the eggs are fully cooked! Pin It Now!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mini Frittatas

6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup frozen spinach
1 yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup goat cheese
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heavily grease 8 muffin tins.

Finely chop the onion and bell pepper.  Saute in the vegetable oil over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and soft.

After microwaving the frozen spinach, squeeze out all of the water.  Beat the eggs and milk together until light and fluffy.  Add the onions, peppers, and spinach and mix together until everything is evenly distributed.

Pour mixture into each muffin tin.  Top each with a few crumbles of goat cheese.  Bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes or until they puff up and are lightly brown.  Allow to cool for 2 minutes.  Run a butter knife around the edges and gently lift out.  Serve and enjoy!

*Justine's Tip- Freeze your muffin tins after they have been greased to further aid in removal of the eggs.  Freezing it allows the oil or butter to become solid and therefore form a hard barrier. Pin It Now!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Raspberry Syrup

1 1/2 cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup water
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl until well combined.  Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg, and melted butter.  Mix until smooth.

Heat a griddle over medium heat and lightly grease it with cooking spray or oil.  Pour pancake batter using 1/4 measurement in the pan.  Top each with about a tablespoon of chocolate chips.  Brown on both sides.  It should take 2-3 minutes per side.

For the syrup, mix together the cornstarch and sugar in a sauce pan.  Pour in the water and raspberries.  Whisk over high heat for 5 minutes until sauce thickens.  Serve warm with pancakes and enjoy!

*Justine's Tip: Make a mini pancake in your pan first to test how hot your pan is.  This way you don't waste much pancake batter with burnt pancakes!

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chicken and Avocado BLT

Note: 1 Sandwich
2 slices of any crusty bread (I used my Olive Oil and Rosemary Bread)
1/4 cup shredded chicken (about 1/2 chicken breast)
1/4 of an avocado
2 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/8 cup mixed greens
2 tomato slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a foil lined baking sheet place your bacon slices.  Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on how crispy you like your bacon.  

You can either buy pre-cooked chicken, but I just grilled mine in a pan for 7 minutes on each side with a little salt and pepper.  

Cut a quarter of an avocado into small cubes.  Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the bread.  Top with the mixed greens, tomato, chicken, and avocado.  Once the bacon is ready, pat off with paper towels to absorb grease and put on top of avocado.  Serve and enjoy!

*Justine's Tip*- When freezing bacon, don't freeze it in the package.  Lay it out on a baking sheet in a single layer, cover with aluminum foil, and freeze until hard.  Once all of the bacon is frozen, remove from the sheet and place in a zip top bag.  Now you can take 1 or 2 pieces out at a time without having the trouble of separating them!

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Tortellini in Brodo

One of the quickest, easiest, and most delicious soups I have ever tried.  My brother had this in a restaurant and I immediately fell in love with it!

1 8 oz package cheese or beef tortellini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon parsley

Chop up the onion and crush the garlic clove.  Heat the bottom of a sauce pan or stock pot with the oil over medium heat.  Toss in the onion and the garlic clove.  Saute until the onions become soft and the garlic clove turns light brown.  This should take about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the chicken broth and boil for 10 minutes.

Once boiled, remove the garlic clove.  You can also strain out the onions if you don't like the texture of them by running it through a strainer.

Keeping the broth on high heat, stir in the tortellini.  Allow to boil according to packaged directions.  My tortellini took about 5 minutes.  Once cooked, toss in the parsley, stir, and enjoy!

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sun dried Tomato, Goat Cheese, and Chicken Sandwich

Note: Makes 1 Sandwich
1 chicken breast
2 tablespoons goat cheese
2 tablespoon sun dried tomato pesto (recipe follows)
1 kaiser roll
mixed greens

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto:
1 4 oz jar sun dried tomatoes in oil
1 garlic clove
4 basil leaves

Drain the oil out of the sun dried tomatoes and put in a food processor or blender.  Take 3 to 4 tablespoons of the oil and marinade your chicken breast in it.  With the tomatoes, toss in the garlic clove, basil leaves, and a pinch of salt.  Blend or process until smooth.  Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the oil and blend until smooth.

*Note: If you don't have a blender or food processor, chop of all of the ingredients very finely and mix with some of the oil for a chunkier spread.

Let the chicken marinade for about a half hour.  Once it is done marinading, heat a skillet on medium heat.  Grill the chicken for 6-7 minutes on one side and cook 4-5 minutes on the other side.

While the chicken is cooking, toast your roll in a toaster or in the oven until lightly golden.  Spread the bottom and top of the roll with the sun dried tomato pesto and place the goat cheese on the bottom roll.  Once the chicken is done cooking, place it on the goat cheese.  Top with mixed greens and enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons parsley

Peel the cucumbers so that no skin is left.  You can find seedless cucumbers that come in a tight plastic covering.  The skin on these cucumbers is very thin and can be left on.  Slice into very thin pieces.  A mandolin can be used, but I prefer just a knife.  Put all of the slices in a bowl and toss with the salt.  Allow this to sit for a half hour to pull out the moisture in the cucumber.  Pour away the excess liquid after a half hour.

Whisk together the olive oil and red wine vinegar and pour over the cucumbers.  Toss together and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Chill for a half hour.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Olive Oil Rosemary Bread

1/2 tablespoon dry yeast
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 cup oilive oil
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6 rosemary sprigs
3 cups flour

Mix yeast, water water, and sugar together in a large bowl.  Set aside for 5 minutes or until it becomes foamy.

Stir in the olive oil, salt, herbs, garlic powder, and 1 cup of flour into yeast mixture.  Gradually mix in the next 2 cups of flour.  Knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Place in oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.  Let rise for 1 hour.

Shape into a loaf on a greased or foil lined cookie sheet.  Allow to rise again for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the top with olive oil and rosemary.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until top becomes brown.  Let cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Crispy Mushrooms with Basil Aioli

1 package white button mushrooms (about 20-25 mushrooms)
2 cups bread crumbs
5 rosemary sprigs
2 eggs
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Gently wipe off mushrooms with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl until completely beaten.

In a large plate or bowl toss the bread crumbs, paprika, garlic powder, lemon zest, salt, and cornstarch.

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray.  Gently toss the mushrooms in the beaten eggs.  Then toss in the breadcrumb mixture until completely coated.  Lay on the foil lined baking sheet.  Spray lightly with more cooking spray.  Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

While the mushrooms are baking, in a blender mix together the mayo, lemon juice, basil, and olive oil until completely smooth.  Season with salt to taste.

Serve aioli on the side of the mushrooms.  Enjoy!

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Chocolate and Potato Chip Shortbread

2 sticks butter
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon water
2 cups chocolate chips, melted
2 cups potato chips, crushed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Once butter and sugar are creamy, add the vanilla and beat for a few seconds.  Slow sprinkle in the flour and water. 

Take a 1 gallon zip top bag and put all of the dough inside.  Use a rolling pin or your hands to spread the dough to fit the entire bag

Chill for 2 hours in the bag.

One dough is done chilling, cut open the bag and cut the dough into 16 squares.  Cut each square into 2 triangles diagonally.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Allow cookies to completely cool before dipping.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 seconds intervals, stirring in between every 30 seconds.

In a large plastic bag, crush all of the potato chips using a rolling pin.

Dip half of the cookie into the chocolate.  I only did half of the top section, but you can do the entire half of the cookie.

Place on a lined baking sheet and sprinkle potato chips over the top of the chocolate covered section.

Serve and enjoy!

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Raspberry Linzer Tarts

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cup ground almonds
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Then beat in the almonds and cinnamon until it becomes a stiff dough.

Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll 1/2 of the dough into a sheet that is 1/8 inch thick.  With a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut as many circles as you can.  Knead the leftover scraps and roll out again.  Cut more circles until the 1/2 of dough is finished.

Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the other half of dough but cut the center out with a 1/2 inch cookie cutter.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Cool for at least 20 minutes.

Spread the flat side of the solid circles with raspberry jam and lay the cutout cookie over the top and slightly press down.  Serve and enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups blackberry jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Cream together butter, peanut butter, white and brown sugars.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir dry mixture into butter mixture in 3 stages, mixing between each one.  Put batter in refrigerator for 1 hour

Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 minute.  Using a melon baller or a teaspoon, place an indentation in the middle of each cookie.  Fill it with 1 teaspoon of blackberry jam.  Bake for another 5-7 minutes or until cookies brown and jam sets.

Serve and enjoy!

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