"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Well-cooked birds always make for great entrees in traditional holiday feasts.  We were recently invited to a dinner at a friend's house where grilled quail was served.  It was delicious!  He told us that he got the recipe from the Field and Stream website.  When Kent and I talked about it later, he remembered several other friends talking about a great quail recipe they had found on the Garden and Gun website.  I wanted to share both of these recipes with you before Christmas!  My Dad always sends us home with quail that he shoots when he goes hunting.  I can't wait to try one of these recipes in the next few weeks!

"The Perfect Grilled Quail" - from Field and Stream
(They got this recipe from Chris and Idie Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham)
6 6-ounce semi-boneless whole quail*
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
kosher salt
black pepper

Clip and discard the last two segments of both wing tips on the quail. Rinse the quail under cold running water and pat dry. Place the quail in a large glass bowl with the olive oil, garlic, thyme, sage, and parsley. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hour or up to overnight.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (350-400 degrees) Remove quail from the refrigerator and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Remove the quail from the marinade and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place quail on the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cook through (like most small birds, you do NOT want to overcook). Remove the quail from the grill and set aside to keep warm until ready to serve.

* Field and Stream note:  We cooked our birds bone-in, which Hastings says makes the meat even more flavorful. Add a minute or two to cook time. As you may have surmised, the dinner was excellent. In fact, I’ll take quail over any game bird.

Braised Quail with Leeks, Dates, and Cider - from Garden and Gun

by Chef Hugh Acheson
4 quail, gutted and cleaned
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 squash-ball-size yellow onions, peeled and halved
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium leeks, whites and pale greens only, cleaned and diced to ½ inch (about 2 cups)
½ cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates (about 6 dates)
Bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, and bay leaf (4 sprigs each fresh thyme and flat-leaf parsley, and 1 fresh bay leaf, tied together with kitchen twine)
1 cup hard apple cider
1 cup chicken stock

Rinse quail under cool running water, dry on paper towels, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Stuff half an onion into the body cavity of each bird, and truss it by tying together the drumsticks with kitchen twine. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil to just below smoking. Gently add all the quail, and crisp on each breast side, about 2 minutes per side, and then brown the back as well. Remove the quail from the pot and set aside.

Using the same pot, lower heat to medium, add the leeks, and cook until the leeks begin to soften (stirring frequently), about 5 minutes. Add the chopped dates, the bouquet garni, and the cider. Cook the cider down for about 3 minutes, and add the chicken stock and the quail. Let the liquid come almost to a boil, cover, and turn the heat down so the cooking liquid is barely simmering, cooking until quail are done, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove quail and reduce cooking liquid until slightly thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon liquid over the quail before serving.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Magic City Post

I was excited to find out yesterday that my blog was linked to on the Magic City Post in one of their articles about Christmas food blogs in the Birmingham area.  To see their post, click here.
Photo from UAB.edu

Friday, December 17, 2010

Big Soft Ginger Cookies - from Sally and Dory

Sally used to make these cookies in college, and my friend, Dory, in Birmingham makes some that are very similar.  Kent loves when I make these cookies because the whole house smells good!  Cooking these is definitely a good way to get your house smelling like Christmas!

Big Soft Ginger Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses.  Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.  Shape dough into walnut-sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Place the cookies two inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spicy Crackers - from Sarah L.

Sarah brought these crackers to a party recently, and they were so good!  They made the perfect appetizer.  They would be great for the holidays or any time of year - and they are super quick.  You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.  Some of the guys mentioned these would be great with raw or baked oysters, also.  These crackers looked great on the table.  We definitely devoured them!

Spicy Crackers
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 ranch dressing seasoning packet
2 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs crushed red pepper seasoning
1 box saltines

Mix the first 4 ingredients.  Then pour the mixture over a whole box of saltine crackers in a big zip lock bag and mix it around to coat the crackers. They are better the next day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oreo Balls - from Julie B.

I saw this recipe on Julie's blog and had to share it!  Kent and I are definitely planning to try these soon.  Julie says, "Be warned you cannot eat just one!"

Picture from Julie's blog - don't these look AMAZING?!
 Oreo Balls
1 package of Oreos
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese (softened)
1 package of white chocolate chips
1 small package of milk chocolate chips

Crush the Oreos until they are finely powdered. I put mine in the chopper or food processor.

Mix the cookie crumbs with the softened cream cheese. Form into the desired size balls. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow for hardening.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave just until it gets melted.

Dip the Oreo balls into the white chocolate to cover. Place on a sheet of waxed paper on a cookie sheet.

Melt small amount of milk chocolate chips and drizzle on top. I use a ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole in the corner to drizzle.

Refrigerate. Once they harden you can package them into containers, but it is best to keep them refrigerated.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Bark Recipe - from Katie N's blog

Last year, I posted a peppermint bark recipe that I love - and it's SUPER easy!  My friend, Katie, posted a fun chocolate bark recipe on her blog this week with great step-by-step pictures and directions.  Check out her recipe at Katie Bird Calling.  It looks delicious and so professional!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Praline Pecans - from Dory

I have always LOVED praline pecans.  Dory gave us this recipe last year at Covenant's Christmas Countdown.  She says to use a candy thermometer to make sure the candy reaches the right temperature or it won't turn out right.

Praline Pecans
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon rum extract
3 cups pecan halves

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugars, water, honey, and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; do not stir.  Cook over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees (soft-ball stage).  Remove from heat; add extracts.  Cool to lukewarm without stirring.

Beat with a mixer for 2-3 minutes or until creamy.  Stir in pecans until coated.  Turn onto waxed paper (mixture will be sticky); separate large clumps.  Cool for several hours or until dry and sugary.  Store in an airtight container. 

Yield: 3 cups

Monday, November 29, 2010


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Kent and I went to my aunt's house in west Alabama for a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving lunch!  Then we spent the rest of the weekend in Montgomery watching the Iron Bowl and eating more food with friends and family.  I've also done quite a bit of Christmas shopping!  Jack spent the holiday playing with his cousin, Ace, and jumping in my parents' pool.  He got an early Christmas present (a Barbour coat) so I thought I would post a picture of him showing it off! 
I know I've been taking a break from posting recipes over the last couple weeks, but I'm about it jump back into it with some great holiday recipes before Christmas.  Last year, I only posted holiday recipes during the month of December, so I've used up many of my holiday favorites (see those recipes here).  My friend, Dory, agreed to let me post a few of her recipes that we used for our women's church Christmas dinner, Christmas Countdown, last year.  If you have any special holiday recipes that you would like to share, please e-mail them to me at recipesfromnewlyweds@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

I wanted to post this recipe immediately following my last post on eggs benedict.  One of my favorite spins on eggs benedict involves replacing the fillet used in the previous post with a fried green tomato - trust me, it's amazing!  I've used this recipe by Paula Deen before, and I was not disappointed!  Of course, fried green tomatoes also make a wonderful side dish all on their own or can be substituted for traditional tomatoes in a BLT.

Fried Green Tomatoes
3 or 4 large firm green tomatoes
2 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for deep-frying
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups self-rising flour

Slice the tomatoes 1/4-inch thick. Lay them out in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle with salt. Place the tomato slices in a colander and allow time for the salt to pull the water out of the tomatoes, approximately 30 minutes. In a skillet, heat the oil for deep-frying over medium high heat. Dip the tomatoes into buttermilk, then dredge them in flour. Deep-fry until golden brown. Keep warm.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eggs Benedict

I saw Emeril make this recipe on the Food Network  last year and had to try it.  It was wonderful!  Kent and I both love eggs benedict, and this recipe was fantastic.  My mom used to make eggs benedict for me when I was in high school, but I had never tried making it before.  I think it turned out well.  If you are worried about poaching the eggs, you can always just fry them - with the Hollandaise sauce, they will still taste the same.  Enjoy!

Eggs Benedict
4 English muffins, split in 1/2
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
4 (6-ounce) beef fillets, split in 1/2
Essence, recipe follows
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
Pinch cayenne pepper
8 eggs, individually cracked into a cup
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Creole mustard or other whole-grain mustard
1/2 pound butter, melted and warm
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley leaves

Preheat a griddle or large skillet. Brush the muffins with the butter. Place the muffins on the hot griddle and pan-fry for 2 minutes on each side. Remove the muffins from the griddle and set aside. Using a sharp knife, split the fillets in half, horizontally.

Season the fillets with Essence. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the fillets for 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Remove the fillets from the pan and set aside.

In a large skillet, combine the water and vinegar. Season the water with salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Slide 4 of the eggs into the water. When the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the eggs are set, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Watch carefully and remove the eggs when the yolks are still soft, and drain on a paper-lined plate. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Return the water to a boil and repeat the process with the remaining eggs.

Hollandaise sauce:  In a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water over medium heat, whisk the egg yolks with the lemon juice, water, mustard, and parsley. Season with salt and cayenne. Whisk the mixture until pale yellow and slightly thick. Be careful not to let the bowl touch the water. Remove the bowl from the pot and, while whisking vigorously, gradually add the butter, little by little, until all is incorporated. Season, to taste, with salt and cayenne.

To assemble, place the steaks on the English muffins. Top the steaks with the poached eggs. Spoon the Hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Garnish the eggs with parsley.
Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blueberry Coffee Cake

I meant to post this recipe months ago after we first made it to take for breakfast to Sunday School.  This is a great breakfast item to take somewhere since its all in one casserole dish.  It was a big hit with our Sunday School class!

Blueberry Coffee Cake
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3-5 tsp. milk

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13x9 inch pan. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon peel. Using pastry blender or fork, cut in butter. Add milk, eggs and vanilla. Stir well. Pour 3/4 batter into greased pan. Top with blueberries. Spoon remaining batter over blueberries. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool 30 minutes. In small bowl , blend icing ingredients. Drizzle over warm cake.
(Recipe from About.com)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Kent and I are in a wonderful Supper Club group full of couples from our Sunday School class.  We go out to eat once a month then go to someone's house for dessert.  We always have such a great time!  Our group keeps growing, and now we have 10 couples!  Last week we went to eat at a great Italian restaurant in Hoover at Patton Creak called Cafe Lazio.  There were 16 or so of us there last week.  As we got ready to pay the bill, the server walked up and told us that the man at the table behind us had already paid for all of our dinners!  It took us a few minutes to process what she said.  We didn't know what to do, so finally we decided to send a representative over to ask the man about his gift.  He told us that he just thought we looked like a nice group of people and wanted to do something for us!  We were blown away by his generosity.  He refused to give us his name, and we're still trying to figure out who he is.  We all went to thank him, and he was so humble.  He asked us about our group and we told him that we were from Covenant Presbyterian Church.  He said that he and his wife were in town on business and were looking somewhere to go to church on Sunday.  Kent and I were out of town on Sunday, so I'm not sure if he went to Covenant or not.  We really enjoyed talking with him and will never forget that experience.  What a generous man!

We don't have a current picture from supper club with the whole group - this one was taken earlier in the year.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wine Wednesday - Campogrande Orvieto Classico

It has been a while since my last Wine Wednesday posting!  But, I recently tried Campogrande Orvieto Classico 2007 and had to share about it.  We actually bought this wine at Whole Foods over a year ago.  It has just been sitting in our wine cabinet for a while.  I got it out when I needed to add a little white wine to something I was cooking.  We tend to prefer red wines and rarely even open white wines.  Since I was cooking with it, I thought it would be nice to have with dinner.  This has quickly become one of my favorite white wines.  Many white wines are either to buttery or too crisp tasting to me.  This one is so light and fruity - not at all overpowering.  It goes well with seafood, light courses, vegetables, and many Mediterranean dishes.  Like one of my favorite red wines, Chianti, Orvieto is also made in Tuscany and Umbria.  Italians are not traditionally known for their white wines, but wine critics, like Kevin Zraly, believes that Italians are trying to become better known for some of their white wines.  The designation of "classico" that describes some Chianti, Orvieto, and other wines denotes that the wine is produced in a region where that type of wine has traditionally been produced.  Not all wines produced in Italy are eligible for the "classico" distinction.  Orvieto, traditionally grown between Florence and Rome is sometimes called "the Pope's wine" as it was commonly drunk by Popes in the early 20th Century.  To learn more about Orvieto, visit this website.  Campogrande Orvieto Classico can be purchased for $12-15 in some retail locations or on-line.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crispy Asparagus

This is the other wonderful recipe that I have tried from my new The Greeks Have a Recipe for It cookbook.  I can't wait to try others!  I made this dish because I love asparagus but always cook it the same way.  It made a great side to the stuffed eggplant that I posted last time.  I will definitely be making this often!

Crispy Asparagus
3 lbs. asparagus
1 tbsp. grated Kefaloteri cheese*
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
3 tbsp. dry white wine
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and trim off tough ends of asparagus stalks.  Dip stalks first in flour, then in egg beaten with wine and then into bread crumbs, that been combined with cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Saute in oil for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.  More grated cheese may be sprinkled on top when serving.  

*I used Parmesan.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stuffed Eggplant

I'm making a switch from some of the German recipes that I've been posting to a few recipes from the Greek cookbook that I mentioned a few weeks ago.  Kent and I went to the Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Birmingham with our friends, Caroline and Franklin, in September.  I bought the church's cookbook, The Greeks Have a Recipe for It.  I've been wanting to try some of the recipes and chose two to try recently.  They were both wonderful!  I love eating eggplant, but it can take a long time to cook.  Since the eggplant is sauteed in this recipe, it doesn't take as long to cook as it might in other recipes.  It's also nice that this recipe uses ground chuck instead of more expensive ground lamb like many Greek recipes.  This meal is great to cook for two any night of the week, but guests will also love it since it's a little fancy!

Stuffed Eggplant
2 long, medium sized eggplant
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. ground chuck
2 tbsp. tomato sauce
 3 tsp. parsley
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup grated Kasseri cheese*
Salt and ppepper to taste

Wash eggplant and cut in half lengthwisee.  Scoop out pulp and set aside.  Reserve shell.  Saute onion and garlic in oil until golden (add the garlic after the onion has cooked a few minutes so that the garlic with not begin to burn).  Add meat and continue to cook until brown.  Add tomato sauce, parsley, water, pulp from eggplant, salt and pepper and cook 15 minutes longer, or until most of thee liquid is absorbed.  Remove from stove and fill eggplant shells with meat mixture.  Place in casserole and sprinkle each shell with cheese.  Add water, about 1 cup, to casserole and bake in 350 degrees until shell of eggplant in soft.

*I used Parmesan cheese, which is similar to Kasseri.  Kasseri could probably be found at Greek or Mediterranean grocery stores.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beer Bratwursts

This is definitely a guy food!  But, many of the girls at Oktoberfest were surprised how much they like bratwursts.  I assumed they would be cooked just like hotdogs, but Kent did a lot of research to find out the best method.  This is the method he used for the party, and I have to say that were pretty good!

6 fresh bratwursts (not precooked) from the butcher (use a fork to poke holes in the casing so that they can absorb the beer)
3 onions, sliced
Beer - any kind will do
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons butter
6 hotdog buns from the bakery

Pour beer into a pot - enough to cover the bratwursts.  Add the onions, butter, red pepper flakes, and bratwursts.  Bring the pot to a boil.  Turn it down and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Take out the bratwursts, but leave the onions in the pot to continue simmering and to allow the sauce to reduce.  Grill the bratwursts on medium heat for 10 minutes.  Serve the bratwursts on buns using the onions for a topping.  No condiments are necessary, but mustard can be used.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

German Chocolate Cupcakes

This is the Martha Stewart recipe for German Chocolate Cupcakes that I used for the Oktoberfest Party.  I actually made them into minicupcakes and didn't split them like it shows in the picture here.  This recipe makes 24 large cupcakes or about 48 mini cupcakes.  The cupcakes were very moist and the icing was amazing!  This would be a great recipe for the fall and winter.  Enjoy!

Photo from MarthStewart.com
German Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted, plus more for tins
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush standard muffin tins with butter; dust with cake flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together cake flour, baking soda, and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in chocolate until combined.

Divide batter evenly among prepared cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes. Run a small offset spatula or knife around the edges to loosen; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

To finish, use a serrated knife (and a gentle sawing motion) to split cupcakes in half horizontally. Spread a heaping tablespoon of frosting on top of each bottom half; replace top halves. Spread more frosting on top of each cupcake. Serve immediately.

Coconut-Pecan Frosting
3 large egg yolks
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and brought to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups (7 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Combine egg yolks, evaporated milk, and brown sugar in a saucepan. Add butter, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick, about 10 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Stir in vanilla, salt, coconut, and pecans. Let cool completely. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before using.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


This weekend, Kent and I invited lots of our friends over to celebrate Oktoberfest.  We'd been wanting to host a big party since we moved into our house.  We thought we'd take a cue from our last name and go with a German theme!  It was such a great time!  We had homemade pretzels, bratwursts and onions cooked in beer, hot potato salad, German chocolate cupcakes (yes, I know they aren't actually German) - and, of course, German beer!  I've already posted the pretzel recipe, but I'll be posting a few of the other recipes this week along with pictures from the event.  I think this might become an annual party!

Photo: Funthemepartyideas.org

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip - from Kate M.B.

I got this wonderful recipe from my friend, Kate M.B. (I have two friends named Kate B who have submitted recipes to the blog and three friends named Katie who follow the blog and frequently leave comments or submit recipes!)  I was so excited to see this Kate yesterday and meet her brand new baby boy!!  He's so precious and slept the whole time I help him!  Kate made this dip from a Junior League Cookbook last fall when she hosted Supper Club at her house.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about it and finally asked her for the recipe.  I can't wait to try it next time we have friends over for dinner.

Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers

Soften cream cheese in a mixing bowl.  Add mayo, Swiss cheese, and green onions - mix well.  Transfer to a baking dish.  Top with bacon and crackers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with crackers.  (Kate uses Carr's wheat crackers and says this is a great Fall and Winter recipe.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Honey Chicken Tenders

Kent found this recipe that is modeled after a recipe used at Cracker Barrel.  We had never tried the chicken fingers at the restaurant before, but the on-line reviews were really good.  So, tonight we gave it a try!  I was very pleased with the results.  I love eating chicken but get tired of the go-to casseroles and marinades.  They were sweet and tangy - so different from anything else I've tried. 

Honey Chicken Tenders
1 lb chicken tenders
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons honey


Mix dressing, lime juice and honey.  Pour over chicken tenders.  Marinate for 1 hour.  Cook tenders in a non stick pan or grill until golden in color, but not dry.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kentucky Derby Pie

Sally put this recipe in a Shutterfly cookbook that she made for me for my birthday a few years ago.  I love the cookbook because it has pictures in it that she took of all of our friends throughout college, and it contains a lot of great recipes!  I made this one for supper club last week.  After going to La Paz for dinner, everyone headed to our house for dessert.  I was nervous about making something new when we were having people over, but it turned out really well (though a little runny since I didn't let it cool enough).  With these ingredients, you know it has to be good...

At City Grocery with great friends senior year - one of my favorite pictures from the cookbook

Kentucky Derby Pie
1 9" pie frozen pie shell
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp Kentucky bourbon
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips

Allow the pie crust to defrost - this will take about an hour.  Put the shell into a dish making sure to pinch the edges on top of the dish so that the shell does not sink back into the dish during cooking.  Place the pie crust into the oven and allow it to cook partially, for about 10-15 minutes.  The pie crust should begin to harden but not turn golden yet. 

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add beaten eggs, flour, salt, and bourbon.  Then add chocolate chips and pecans.  Stir well and pour into the partially cooked pie shell.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Allow it to set up about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend in Review

Kent and I got to participate in two great Birmingham food events this weekend!  For the last week, some area restaurants have been participating in "Birmingham Restaurant Week."  These restaurants offer prix fixe menus for either $10, $20, or $30.  It gives you a great chance to try new restaurants or new dishes from your favorite restaurants.  We decided to try a new (to us) place on Friday night - The Silvertron Cafe in the Forest Park neighborhood.  They were offering a three course menu with several options for each course.  We both loved our dinners and were glad to be able to try dishes that were not offered on their regular menu.  In fact, we loved it so much that we went back the next night with Kent's parents, who had also heard great things about the restaurant, to try different menu items!  On the first night, Kent decided to try the "beer dinner" along with his courses.  With each course, they brought out half of a recommended beer that had been paired with each menu item.  Each one was really different and unique!  They have great selections of wine, beer, mixed drinks as well as desserts - we highly recommend the white chocolate bread pudding!

On Saturday we went with Caroline and Franklin to the 38th Annual Greek Food Festival downtown hosted by the Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church.  There was a long line to get in when we got there, but it was definitely worth the wait.  There were about 10 different entree choices being made on site and several great dessert choices.  I was also excited to get to buy a cookbook put together by members of the congregation.  Hopefully, I'll be able to add some new Greek recipes to the blog soon!  It was fun getting to listen to the festive music and tour the inside of the beautiful cathedral.  I can't wait to go back next year!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday's Tips - Coffee

Bialletti Moka Express
Kent and I are both big coffee drinkers.  In fact, I started drinking a coffee/milk/sugar mixture as a small child with my father on Sunday mornings.  When Kent and I first got married, we had a standard drip coffee maker.  It took up a lot of counter space and didn't produce the best tasting coffee.  So we soon got a Bialetti Moka Express stovetop coffee maker.  I love using it to make lattes.  I got an inexpensive milk frother, but it takes a lot of time since you need to heat up the milk in a kettle before frothing it.

French Press Mug
For a regular cup of coffee, we've found that a french press works best.  Kent had been talking about getting one for a while, so his sister gave him a french press coffee mug for Christmas last year.  It's great because you can make a cup of coffee in it and then store extra grinds underneath the mug to make two more cups of coffee in the mug later in the day.  Since then, we've also gotten a 10 cup french press to replace our drip coffee maker.  We use it all the time!  

French Press

We like to buy whole bean coffee from O'Henry's and World Market (or Dunkin' Donuts original blend from the grocery store) and grind it there since we don't have a grinder at home.  I bought an inexpensive blade grinder in college, but it couldn't grind the beans into a uniform size and eventually broke.  For more even grinding, burr grinders are definitely better, though more expensive.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Buttery Soft Pretzels

Photo courtesy of allrecipes.com
I had been thinking about trying to make homemade pretzels and found this great recipe on allrecipes.com.  I made it this weekend when Kent and I were watching some football games.  It made a great snack!  I had only worked with yeast one other time, but it wasn't difficult at all.  These are so fun to make and taste even better than ones you can buy at the mall or ballpark!

Buttery Soft Pretzels
Ingredients used to make the dough:
4 teaspoons active dry yeast (you can buy packages on the baking isle)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Ingredients used for cooking the pretzels:
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes.  (I kneaded it on a baking mat but was not able to use every bit of the flour - they still turned out great!) Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.

When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. (Make a U shape and then cross the ends of the rope.) Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt. (I brushed each pretzel with melted butter before I salted them - yum!)

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes

Since our trip to Oxford this summer, I haven't been able to stop thinking about the amazing oatmeal pancakes that I had at Big Bad Breakfast on our last day.  So... I finally found a great recipe and decided to make them this week.  We love having breakfast for dinner, so we gave these a try for dinner one night this week.  They would be great for a big weekend breakfast, too!

Heart Healthy Oatmeal Pancakes
From:  Stella's Kitchen (This is a great blog with tons of wonderful recipes!)


1 cup fat free milk (or water)*
3/4 cup oatmeal (uncooked, quick or regular oats)
3/4 cup oatmeal flour (see below how to make oatmeal flour - easy!)
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
4 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground

Try these modifications:
Blueberry pancakes: Add ¼ c blueberries (fresh or thawed) to recipe and omit cinnamon
Oat-Nut pancakes: Add 1 ½ tbsp diced pecans, walnuts, or almonds to recipe.
Whole Grain pancakes: Replace quick oats with hot multigrain cereal. Prepare as directed.
High protein pancakes: Add 1-2 scoops vanilla protein to batter, increase water.

Heat milk (or water) until hot, stir in oats and set aside. Beat egg whites into a stiff foam with hand mixer or blender and reserve. Mix remaining dry ingredients together and stir in oatmeal/milk mixture. Fold in egg whites until mixture is well blended. . Spray pan with nonstick spray and cook pancakes until browned on both sides.

*Depending on how long you've let the oats sit, you may need to add a little extra water to the batter to thin it out. It will still be thicker than regular pancake batter.

How to make oatmeal flour:
To make your own oat flour, just put a cup or two of oatmeal in a regular household blender (or food processor if you happen to have one) and blend it on high. Whir until the flakes turn into the consistency of flour.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fish Tacos

Kent and I wanted to try making something new when we were at the beach with his family for Labor Day.  So, when our night to cook came along, we made these delicious fish tacos.  I have never been a huge fan of fish, but these were amazing!  And the slaw is great too - not overly mayonnaisey.  We were able to get fresh Mahi Mahi, which worked well for the recipe.  If you cannot find Mahi Mahi, other types of fish - like Snapper - will work as well.  The jalapeno, lime, and cilantro give the whole dish a wonderful southwestern flavor.  We will definitely be making these again soon!

Fish Tacos
2 lb Mahi Mahi
Tortillas (soft or hard shell)

1 jalapeƱo finely chopped
1 lime (juiced)
¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

4 cups shredded cabbage
3 tbsp minced red onion
3 tbsp green onion, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
3 tbsp mayo
3 tbsp sour cream
2 tsp lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced

Cut the fish into one inch cubes and place in a bowl.  Mix all of the marinade ingredients together.  Pour the marinade over the fish.  Allow the fish to marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all of the slaw ingredients together in a large bowl. 

After the fish has finished marinating, pan fry it in a skillet with a small amount of vegetable oil on medium-high.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the fish is cooked through (opaque in the center).

To serve, have guests fill their shells with the fish and top it off with the slaw.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

And the cookbook goes to....

the Halls!  Kent helped me to use excel to create a spread sheet and randomly pick a winner.  So congratulations to the Halls on their new cookbook, Mmmm Casseroles!  Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing.  I hope to have more in the future.

Sorry for the delay in posting the winner.  Kent and I just returned from a relaxing Labor Day weekend at the beach with his family.  New recipes to come this week...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

Kent and I made these on Sunday morning to take to Sunday School since we signed up to bring breakfast.  They were really good and had a different taste than other savory breakfast rolls that I've had in the past.  Judging by the name, I'm sure that you can tell they aren't the healthiest breakfast choice... but they're worth the extra calories!  I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman.  She has an amazing blog about her life - it includes information about gardening, farming, cooking, and so much more.  She has even published her own cookbook.  Click here to go to her website.  And, don't forget to enter to win a cookbook in my first ever giveaway!  See the previous post for details!

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits
2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
¾ teaspoons Salt
¼ cups Vegetable Shortening (crisco, Etc)
10 Tablespoons Milk (whole Milk Is Best)
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 whole Egg
10 slices Thick Cut Bacon, Fried And Crumbled
1 cup Finely Diced Onion
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preparation Instructions:
Cook and chop bacon.  Saute onions until light brown.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in shortening until all combined.

Combine milk, oil, and egg in a separate bowl. Whisk together. 

Combine flour mixture, milk mixture, bacon, onions, and cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Stir gently until all combined.  Be careful not to over mix!

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes on 375 degrees until golden Remove from pan and serve warm.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

100th Post!!! ...and the first cookbook giveaway!!

This is my 100th blog post since starting Recipes from Newlyweds last August. I have had so much fun collecting and sharing recipes. Writing the blog has given me a great excuse to try new recipes and keeps me motivated not to just fall back into the same old things!

I truly appreciate all of you who have sent recipes for me to post on my blog! I have loved trying them! When I started the blog last year, I wanted to create a way that I could trade recipes with friends who were trying fun, new things in their kitchens - so please keep them coming! You can e-mail them to me at recipesfromnewlyweds@gmail.com.

I'm hoping to have a few updates, like having an easy-access recipe index. Until then, the label cloud and search bar to the right can help you find past recipes by keywords or ingredients. If you haven't been following from the beginning, please go back and check out the older recipes. I occasionally go back and update recipes as I remake them and have new ideas. If you've made any of the recipes, I would love to get your thoughts and ideas about them in the comments section (I love comments!).

To celebrate my 100th post, I'm having my first giveaway! I hope that I will be able to have more in the future and have been talking with some folks about getting some promotional copies of really great cookbooks! The cookbook that I will be giving away this week is called, Mmmm Casseroles. In talking with some of you before, I know we’ve said that good nightly dinners can be difficult to find. So this cookbook features great casseroles and other one-dish meals, like stews and savory cobblers. Each person is allowed two entries in the giveaway. You can enter by leaving a comment on this post and by becoming a follower of the blog. If you are already a follower and would like two entries, let me know in your comment. Having more followers means that I will probably be able to get more companies to give us promotional cookbooks in the future! Please enter before Friday, September 3rd at 8:00 am. I will then be using a website to randomly pick a winner and will ship the cookbook. I hope you will all be part of my first giveaway!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thelma's Cake - from Melissa

This is a recipe for a wonderful chocolate chip bundt cake. It is so yummy and really easy to make! The hardest part is definitely grating the chocolate - but it's worth it! Melissa and Ryan have brought it to several family functions (it's one of his family's recipes). But, I finally got the chance to make it for get-together with friends a few weeks ago. It's super moist and great for any time of the year!

Thelma's Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 box vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 German Chocolate bar (grated)
1/2 bag chocolate chips

Mix the first 5 ingredients well. Then fold in chocolate (grated and chips). Cook in a well greased bundt pan at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until well done. Sprinkle with powdered sugar after cooking, if desired.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball - from BLC

My friend, BLC, mentioned this wonderful appetizer several times. I finally got the chance to taste it... and oh my goodness!!! It is amazing! I'm so glad she shared the recipe!

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball
1 pkg. (8oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. brown sugar
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Graham Crackers or Teddy Grahams

Combine cream cheese, butter, & vanilla until creamy. Add in sugars and mix until blended. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. But the mixture into the fridge to cool for a little bit. Then form it into a ball. Serve with Graham Crackers or Teddy Grahams.

*BLC is such a sweet friend and so much fun! Click on the link if you'd like to see her super stylish blog, The Company She Keeps. She originally got this recipe from her friend, Hopsy. Visit Hopsy's fun blog at Monograms and Manicures.*

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday's Tips - Grilled Chicken

Whenever I feel like it's time to start eating healthier, I always go straight to grilled chicken. But, I know it can get tiring to eat the same grilled chicken every time. Kent and I have a few different ways that we marinate chicken. We usually salt and pepper two chicken breasts and place them in a ziplock bag along with some seasoning to marinate for about 30 minutes before cooking. The chicken can be grilled on an outdoor grill, grilled on an indoor grill pan, or simply cooked in a skillet. These are some of our favorite ways to marinate chicken that we've found so far. Please feel free to share if you have any ideas! I'm always looking for new ways to cook chicken!

Lemon and Thyme Chicken
Just squeeze one lemon over the salted and peppered chicken in the ziplock bag. Then put several teaspoons of thyme leaves into the bag (either fresh or dried). Make sure to evenly distribute the thyme. Then put the chicken back in the refrigerator until it's time to grill. Be careful not to leave the chicken too long after you've put lemon juice on it - the acids in the lemon juice can start to precook the chicken! (A variation of this marinade would be to use rosemary in place of the thyme.)

Mexican Beer Chicken
Squeeze the juice of one lime over the salted and peppered chicken in a ziplock bag. Add several teaspoons of cilantro and and several teaspoons of taco or fajita seasoning to the bag and distribute evenly. Then add a few splashes of beer. Let the chicken sit for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

You could always use a premade seasoning, like Dales, or create a similar marinade by combining Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cheesecake - from Kate W. B.

Kate brought this wonderful cheesecake to our graduation cookout last weekend. This is a great recipe because you don't have to bake the cheesecake in a waterbath like some cheesecake recipes - and it still has the great cheesecake texture! She brought cut strawberries to top off her cake - yum!
*If you want to hear more from Kate, check out her fun blog, "Bookworm to Bombshell.*

You need two 9-inch graham cracker crusts(Keebler).

3 packages (8oz.) cream cheese
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Whip cream cheese(softened), adding sugar. Beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time while beating. Add vanilla. Pour into pie shells. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

1 pint sour cream (16oz.)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Whip sour cream. Mix in sugar and vanilla. Pour over baked pies. Bake for 5 minutes at 500 degrees. Cool and enjoy! Refrigerate.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Southwestern Pasta Salad

This weekend Kent and I hosted a cookout for the folks that I graduated with from graduate school this summer. Sheree brought this amazing Southwestern Pasta Salad (recipe from allrecipes.com). It's a perfect side dish for summer cookouts and would make a great lunch with added grilled chicken. I will definitely be making this soon!

Southwestern Pasta Salad
1/2 (16 ounce) package rotini pasta
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups whole kernel corn
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup chopped roma (plum) tomatoes

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2. In a large bowl combine oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt and garlic. Stir in pasta and set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in corn, beans, green pepper, red pepper and 1/2 of the cilantro leaves. Spoon onto a platter and garnish with tomatoes and remaining cilantro. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cream Cheese Mints

I made these mints for a baby shower this weekend. I found the recipe in Southern Lady Magazine a few months ago and had been waiting for a good excuse to make them! They tasted so great and are really easy to make - no cooking required!

Cream Cheese Mints
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil*
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 -2 drops of food coloring (optional)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, shortening, and peppermint oil with a mixer until smooth. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until well combined. (Dough will be soft and elastic.) Add in food coloring, if desired. Roll dough into small balls, and place each ball on prepared baking sheet. Press fork into each ball to flatten. Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap, and chill mints overnight.

*I didn't have peppermint oil, so I used 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract instead.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cookbook Sale!!!

I found this wonderful website the other day called, One Kings Lane. They have different home goods on sale each day. They have great things for decorating, serving, and traveling. Each day they release new items from a company/designer for sale. Each sale last 72 hours, but they always have different sales going on at the same time. One of the sales going on right now is for Random House Publishing. They have cookbooks from great chefs and writers (like Mark Bittman, Ina Garten, and Julia Child) on sale for up to 70% off. If you're looking for a new interesting cookbook, you should definitely give this website a look... but hurry!! The sale ends Monday!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon Fillets

This is a great quick and easy salmon dish. Sometimes I feel like fish can be a difficult menu item to tackle. But, this recipe is super simple and can be made any night of the week. It is plated in the picture with an orzo salad. The recipe for the salad can be found here. Both recipes are from Food Network chef, Robin Miller.

Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon Fillets
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 (5-ounce) salmon fillets
Salt and ground black pepper
Cooking spray

In an oiled shallow baking dish, combine lemon juice, Dijon, honey, and lemon zest. Stir together. Season both sides of salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place in the baking dish. Flip salmon to coat in glaze.

Bake immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake 10 minutes or until fish is fork-tender.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf

I have never actually had a turkey meatloaf. But two of my friends have mentioned cooking one in the last week. So, I thought I would look at a few recipes for ideas. I plan on making it soon! Garland recommended this recipe from Giade de Laurentiis:

Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sundried Tomatoes
Vegetable cooking spray
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped garlic and herb-marinated sun-dried tomatoes (usually in the produce department near the fresh tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic, minced, optional
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, if using, eggs, milk, feta, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat.

Carefully pack the meat mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Put on a serving platter and serve.

*For a more traditional turkey meatloaf, Sally recommends this recipe from Ina Garten:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sirloin Steak with Tomato Caper Sauce

I recently posted a pork recipe with a tomato caper sauce. This recipe has a lighter flavor and is great if you don't like pork. Kent made this for me when were dating, and we decided to try it again recently. It was great!

Pan-seared Sirloin Steak
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 boneless shell sirloin steaks (top butt) or whole flap meat steaks, each about 1 pound and 1 1/4 inches thick (I used one large boneless sirloin, and it worked perfectly.)
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Meanwhile, season both sides of steaks with salt and pepper. Place steaks in skillet; cook without moving steaks until well browned, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip steaks; reduce heat to medium. Cook until well browned on second side and internal temperature registers 125 degrees (or medium rare). This should take about 6 minutes.
2. Transfer steaks to large plate and tent loosely with foil; let rest until internal temperature registers 130 degrees for medium-rare or 135 degrees for medium, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare pan sauce.
3. Using a sharp knife, slice steak about 1/4 inch thick against grain on bias, arrange on platter or on individual plates, and spoon sauce over steak. Serve immediately.

Tomato Caper Pan Sauce
1 medium shallot, minced
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 medium tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper

After transferring steaks to large plate, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from now-empty skillet. Return skillet to low heat and add shallot; cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over shallot; cook, stirring constantly, until combined, about 1 minutes. Add wine and increase heat to medium-high; simmer rapidly, scraping up browned bits on pan bottom, until liquid is reduced to glaze, about 30 seconds; add broth and simmer until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 4 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium; add capers, tomatoes, and any meat juices, and cook until the flavors are blended, about 1 minute. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper; spoon sauce over sliced steak.
(Recipe from America's Test Kitchen)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Anniversary Celebration!

I apologize for the recent lack in posting. Things have been busy around here! Monday was our two year wedding anniversary!

We went to Oxford two weekends ago to celebrate the occasion. Since we spent most of the weekend eating at our favorite restaurants, I decided to share some of our experiences and recommendations.

Weekend in review....

Friday night we had a wonderful meal at City Grocery on the Square. I had the lobster and tamale dish, and it was amazing! Kent had the New York Strip and loved it as well. I've mentioned this restaurant in my blog before (you may remember the famous Shrimp and Grits!). I talked about the wonderful chef and owner, John Currence. After dinner Friday night, we went upstairs to the bar. John walked by, and I asked if I could have my picture made with him. He was so generous and talked with us for a while.

Saturday morning we went to Bottletree Bakery. Bottletree was my favorite place to go for breakfast all through college. I had really missed the onion parmesan bagel!

We went to Two Stick for lunch and had great sushi! Then we spent the afternoon shopping on the Square. For dinner we headed to Snackbar, one of John Currence's newer restaurants. Snackbar features French food and is especially known for its raw oysters and local foods. We had the oysters as an appetizer. I had to try the amazing French onion soup and had the steak sandwich with parmesan and parsley fries for my entree. Kent had the lobster cake sliders. I would certainly recommend trying Snackbar - everything I had was wonderful! We wanted to head back to the Square for the evening, so we stopped by Waltz for dessert and drinks.

On Sunday we visited First Presbyterian in Oxford where we had gone to church during college. We went to Old Venice for lunch and then went to the pool at our hotel for the afternoon. On Sunday night we decided to grab some dinner and go to Rowan Oak (Faulkner's home) to eat on the grounds. Then we went to the Grove and joined the crowd to watch the 4th of July fireworks!

Before leaving Oxford on Monday we went to another John Currence restaurant, Big Bad Breakfast. I had the oatmeal pancakes, and they were so great! I've got to try to find a good recipe for oatmeal pancakes. They taste similar to flour pancakes but have more flavor and a denser consistency. We had a wonderful weekend in Oxford! I can't wait to go back!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Open-faced Tian Sandwich

I got the idea for this recipe from a sandwich cookbook (Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book), but I changed some of the ingredients and preparation instructions to give it more flavor and make it easier to cook properly. I first made a tian when I was studying abroad in Arles, France. We stayed at a cooking school and studied the local foods and recipes of Provence. Making a tian can be very time-consuming, but yields a wonderful result! A tian, similar to a casserole, is both the name of the dish used for baking and the food inside the dish. The dish is usually a large rectangular earthenware dish - the food is a layered vegetable gratin (see picture). So, to make this sandwich, I layered the vegetables on slices of sourdough bread and then baked the bread and vegetables in a tian in the oven. I loved how it turned out - the flavors were amazing! I will definitely be making this again, even though it took several hours to put together! This is a great summer sandwich!

Open-faced Tian Sandwich
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, cut in half through the root and sliced into 1/8 inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1-2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/8 inch-thick rounds
2 crookneck yellow squashes, sliced into 1/8 inch-thick rounds (don't use the skinny parts)
2 or 3 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/8 inch-thick rounds
4 tablespoons of your favorite tapenade or pesto
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
4-6 slices of fresh sour dough bread
Freshly grated Parmesean

In a small skillet, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the onions, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes. When the onions begin to turn color, add a splash or so of water to deglaze the bottom of the pan and prevent them from burning. Continue cooking over medium heat about 20 minutes more, until the oinons are very soft and evenly caramelized. Stir in the sherry, and remove from heat.

As the onions are cooking, heat a small skilled over medium high heat. Place the peppers, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Saute these ingredients for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until they are soft and tender.

Add the caramelized onions to the peppers, stir in 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and remove from heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush the bottom of a large baking dish (stoneware or glass will work best) with a little olive oil. Spread the tapenade or pesto evenly over the bread slices. Place them close together in the baking dish. Distribute the onion and pepper mixture over each slice.

At one end of the bread, place a round of yellow squash over the onion and pepper mixture. Then, place a tomato slice next to the squash, overlapping it about an inch. Follow the same procedure with a slice of the zucchini. Continue layering these ingredients until you reach the end of the bread slice - include as many vegetable pieces on each slice as possible!

Brush the vegetables with the remaining olive oil. Distribute the garlic, thyme leaves, and remaining salt over the vegetables. Cover the baking dish with foil and cook for one hour. Remove the foil and cook for 30 minutes more. The vegetables should be wrinkled and lightly browned - the salt pulls the liquid out of the vegetables so they will flatten out some on the bread. The longer you cook this dish, the better the flavors become! As soon as you take the dish out of the oven, sprinkle with Parmesan so that it melts. Serve warm. These sandwiches will easily reheat in the oven to make great leftovers!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kent's Famous Potato Salad

Okay, so maybe it's not famous - but it is really good! I wanted to post this in case anyone was looking for a good dish to take to a Fourth of July cookout this weekend. This recipe is my favorite potato salad and perfect as a side dish for a summer dinner.

Kent's Famous Potato Salad
2-3 lbs. red potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/3 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon grated black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/2 pound bacon, chopped and cooked (if you chop it before you cook it, it will be crispier)

Cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Put the potatoes in cold water in a stock pot. Heat the water until it boils. Continue to cook the potatoes until they are tender but not squishy. Then drain the potatoes. Let them stand until they cool.

Mix all of the other ingredients to make the dressing. Add the potatoes to the dressing and stir. Refrigerate the potato salad until serving.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

This is one of the first layer cakes that I ever made. It's a great one to start with if you've never made a layer cake before because the frosting isn't too difficult to make. Some chocolate cakes use a boiled icing (I once almost set my kitchen on fire making boiled icing!). This recipe comes from Easy Cakes and is really yummy!

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake
Cake Ingredients:
3 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
a good pinch of salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup sunflower oil
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus extra to decorate (or you can use shaved chocolate for a more elegant look)

Frosting Ingredients:
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup milk (whole milk works best for baking but 2% will work if you have it!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the cake, sift the flour, cocoa, salt, and sugar into a large bowl, and make a hollow in the center. Pour the oil, beaten eggs, milk, and vanilla into the hollow in the dry ingredients - mix gradually with a wooden spoon. Add the chocolate chips and stir well. Divide the mixture between the 3 prepared pans (use 3 pans that are each 8 or 9 inches in diameter - grease the bottoms and line with parchment paper).

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, the carefully invert onto a wire rack and let cook completely.

Meanwhile, to make the frosting, put the soft butter in a bowl and use a wooden spoon or electric mixer to beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the confections' sugar, cocoa, milk, and vanilla to make a thick, smooth frosting.

When the cakes are completely cold, use the frosting to layer them. Spread about one-sixth of the frosting on the top of one cake. Gently set a second cake on top and spread with another one-sixth of the frosting. Top with the last cake, then coat the top and sides with the rest of the frosting. Decorate with extra chocolate chips.

Store in an airtight container and eat within 4 days.
(Image from MarthaStewart.com)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Berry Trifle

This is great summer-time dessert! The fresh berries and lemon curd give the dish a refreshing taste. Next time I might even try adding some mint leaves. It calls for a store-bought poundcake, but if you have time you can make your own. I used this pound cake recipe in my trifle. If you prefer, you could certainly use lady fingers or angel food cake in place of the pound cake.

Berry Trifle
by: Tyler Florence
Berries -
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into thick slices
2 pint raspberries
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Lemon Cream -
1 pint whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (11-ounce) jar lemon curd
1 cup store bought pound cake, slices 1/2-inch thick

Place the berries into a large bowl and sprinkle with half of the lemon juice. Lightly toss.
Combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch and remaining lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook just until the berries begin to break down and give up their juices, about 3 minutes. Take the berries off the heat and let cool; the mixture should thicken up as is cools.
In a clean bowl, whip the cream with the powdered sugar and the vanilla to soft peaks. Put the lemon curd into a second bowl and stir in a little of the whipped cream to loosen it. Then fold in the rest of the cream.
To assemble the trifle, spoon a layer of the lemon cream into a large glass bowl. Add a layer of pound cake, breaking the slices into pieces that fit. Then soak the cake with a layer of berries and their juices. Keep going to make 3 or 4 more layers, depending on the size of the bowl, finishing with a layer of lemon cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce

This recipe may seem a little complicated, but it actually did not take very long to prepare. Kent and I love Mediterranean food but usually end up sticking to the same flavors. We had not cooked with fennel much before and really loved the way this dish turned out! The leftovers were great! We used 6 smaller pork chops instead of 4 large ones and cooked them for less time.

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce
(From Giada de Laurentiis)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 boneless (2-inch-thick) pork chops (about 2 pounds total)
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning meat
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning meat
2 fennel bulbs with fronds, thinly sliced (about 8 ounces or 2 cups)
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/3 cup
1/2 cup white wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/2 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons capers

In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.
Add the fennel, shallots, and 1/3 cup parsley to the pan and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the pork back into the pan, nestling the chops between the fennel and tomatoes so they are mostly submerged in the pan juices. Cook until the fennel is tender and the pork is done, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Place the pork on a serving dish. To finish the sauce, add the lemon zest, remaining 1/3 cup parsley, capers, and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon over the pork chops and serve immediately.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Garlic and Herb Tomatoes

Kent and I did a lot of cooking this weekend - so be on the lookout for some new recipes this week! My tomato plants have been doing really well (with the exception of the plant that Jack tore in half when he got scared because my watering bucket broke and shattered all over the back porch!). So I wanted to use all of the tomatoes I picked while they were good. This recipe from Ina Garten is really simple and tastes very fresh. It could be served as a side or as an appetizer.

Garlic and Herb Tomatoes
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 pints cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan large enough to hold all the tomatoes in one layer. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to loose their firm round shape. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped basil and parsley and serve hot or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Twice Baked Potatoes

I have always loved twice baked potatoes! I've used these ingredients to make twice baked potatoes in the past, but usually end up changing the amounts around a little bit to get the right consistency. Sometimes I add buttermilk or heavy cream if I have it. I have also used the same ingredients (doubled) to make a casserole. You can always add a little extra flavor by adding seasoning or an herb (like dill or rosemary) and a different cheese (like Parmesan). If you use small potatoes and half them, they could make great appetizers!

Twice Baked Potatoes
4 large russet potatoes, each about 3/4 pound each, scrubbed and dried
2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1 scallion, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the potatoes directly on the rack in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Pierce each potato in a couple spots with a fork and continue to bake until tender, about 30 minutes more. Remove potatoes from the oven, and turn the heat down to 375 degrees F.

Hold the potato with an oven-mit or towel, trim off the top of the potatoes to make a canoe-like shape. Carefully scoop out most of the potato into a bowl. Take care to leave enough potato in the skin so the shells stay together. Mash the potato lightly with fork along with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the butter and sour cream. Stir in the scallion and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Season the skins with salt and pepper. Refill the shells with the potato mixture mounding it slightly. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the potato filling.

Set the potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Note 6/27 - I made this as a casserole last week. The flavors were great, but I had forgotten that the potatoes can be really difficult to mash. You may want to consider using a food processor if you want really smooth potatoes!
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