December 30, 2008

Some things are just meant to be...

So I have been obsessing over getting a Kitchen Aid mixer for some time. For those of you who follow my blog, I usually blame not having one for some recipes not working right and the one thing standing in the way of me becoming the next Barefoot Contessa. Or for anyone knows what I am most excited when it comes to the wedding is:

  1. Marrying Steve...I am truly the luckiest girl in the world to have him as my fiance and soon to be husband :)
  2. Changing my last name to a nice, 6 letter one, rather than 13 that no one can pronounce
  3. Getting a Kitchen Aid mixer

I originally wanted the Grass Green color exclusive to Williams Sonoma. However, the more I thought about it, I would rather have someone use a 20% off coupon at BB&B if they wanted to buy it for us. So, I registered for the green apple color at BB&B back in August. For Christmas, my very generous parents gave us money as a gift. I asked Steve if I could get my Green Apple Kitchen Aid at BB&B, he said "yes", so we went on the 26th to go get it at the store. Well, as fate would have it, they don't have that color in the store, it would take 2 weeks to come in and to top it off, were on back order till who knows when. I left the store fairly bummed and we just thought, there had to be a reason that didn't work out.

Today at lunch, I had to run to the mall for a few things and I popped into Williams Sonoma to check out some gadgets I wanted to add to our registry. I am walking past the clearance tables and lo and behold, like a gift from god, sat the Green Grass Kitchen Aid I longed for back in August. I thought to myself, "Something has to be wrong with it, it doesn't have attachments or is scratched." It was on clearance for $199!!!! Even cheaper than with a coupon at BB&B!!! I didn't see a box for it and left the store. I texted Steve, and he responded, "Just buy it". And this is just another reason I am marrying him!!!

So, I went back and bought my glorious Green Grass Kitchen Aid mixer for a heck of a deal! It is perfect, came in the box with all the attachments. The clerk said they are discontinuing certain colors, so are marking them down...different colors nearly every I suggest checking it out if you want one!

Oh, and if anyone has any recipes that are perfect for a Kitchen Aid mixer, feel free to pass them along! :)

December 29, 2008

Mini Beef Wellingtons

This is a delicious recipe we got at our cooking class. So yummy...I could eat these all the time! Slightly time-consuming, but you can make them ahead of time and leave them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. This was another "fan favorite" at our "Merry Little Cocktail" party!

1 pound beef tenderloin, cut into 2" cubes
1 cup mushroom cream sauce
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 package Boursin cheese (we used garlic and herb flavored)
oil for sauteing
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk for egg wash

  1. Pre-heat large saute pan over medium high heat.
  2. Season beef with your favorite seasonings
  3. Place 2 tablespoons of oil in the saute pan and swirl to coat
  4. Place beef in the pan and sear for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side
  5. Remove from pan and cool completely
  6. Roll puff pastry out to about 1/8" of thickness and cut into 16 3-4" squares, depending on the size of beef; dough must be able to wrap completely around the meat and mushrooms
  7. Place 1 teaspoon mushroom mix in the center of each square, then 1/2 tsp of the Boursin cheese, and top with a piece of seared beef.
  8. Brush the edges of the square with egg wash, and fold around the beef, mushroom sauce and cheese. Seal the edges as best as you can.
  9. Brush the bottom and the top with egg wash.
  10. Place the Wellingtons seam side down on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.
  11. Refrigerate the Wellingtons for at least 15-30 minutes to allow the pastry to get cool.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
  13. Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 10-15 minutes
  14. Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve warm

Madeira - Mushroom Cream Sauce

This is a great sauce we used in our mini beef Wellington's, but could be great as a sauce for chicken, pork or beef or even as a lasagna layer! I love mushrooms so I would love to just eat a bowl of this plain. :)

1 pound mixed sliced mushrooms (use any kind you like), brushed clean of dirt, minced
1/2 red onion, small dice (we used shallots)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Madeira or Marsala (Steve discovered dry Vermouth is an acceptable substitute, so we used that since we had it and Marsala is pricey)
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch each of nutmeg, cayenne pepper and white pepper
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste (just a few drops)
4-6 tablespoons whole unsalted butter, melted

  1. Pre-heat a saute pan over high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until you cannot hold your hand within an inch of the pan surface for 5 seconds
  2. Toss mushrooms and onion together with the butter in a large bowl
  3. Add mushrooms to pan and shake pan only briefly to create an even layer; let mushrooms brown - DO NOT STIR THEM OR MOVE THEM AROUND for at least 1-2 minutes or until they are golden brown on the first side; then shake or stir with a wooden spoon to brown both sides.
  4. Add wine and shake pan to distribute evenly; scrape bottom of pan to remove all brown bits and cook until the wine is cooked off; (at this point, continue cooking mushrooms until all liquid has evaporated; this may take quite a while if the mushrooms were high in moisture)
  5. Add cream to pan and scrape again; bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes; season with salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg to taste, then add a few drops of lemon juice.
  6. Finish with an additional splash of wine if desire

"Upgraded" Pigs in a Blanket

We learned how to make this in our Mirepoix Retro Cocktails and Appetizers class. I love the classic version, but this "upgraded" version is pretty phenomenal. We got rave reviews on them at our "Merry Little Cocktail" party, so I thought it would be blog-worthy. A little more labor-intensive than the little smokies, but well worth it!

6-8 good quality sausages (we used Aidell's Chicken sausage Portabella Mushroom and Roasted Garlic and Artichoke)
1 box puff pastry dough, thawed at room temperature
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons milk

  1. Cut sausages in half length-wise, then half again so you have quartered sausages, length wise.
  2. Next, cut each quarter into 3 pieces
  3. If the sausage is raw, saute in a large saute pan over medium high heat, with just a little bit of oil, until almost cooked through; about 5-7 minutes. Cool completely.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  5. Place a piece of parchment paper on a small sheet tray and put the Dijon mustard on the parchment (spread out, but not too thin); roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown; cool completely.
  6. Spread out thawed puff pastry and cut into strips smaller than the piece of sausage and just long enough to wrap around the sausages once.
  7. Thoroughly mix together the egg whites and mustard; mix the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of milk
  8. Brush the inside of each piece of puff pastry dough with the mustard, place a piece of sausage inside and wrap it snugly
  9. Brush the outside with the egg yolk mixture for all "pigs in a blanket"
  10. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and puffed

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail and Cocktail Sauce with a kick!

I love seafood. I also love shrimp cocktail at a party. However, sometimes I have found that some of the pre-done trays kind of leave the shrimp a little rubbery, so when my idol, The Barefoot Contessa, did shrimp in the oven on her show, I was intrigued! I was also delighted with the recipe was in my Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics cookbook!

This is so easy and it saves the hassle of dealing with boiling the shrimp tastes soooo yummy!

For the shrimp

2 pounds shrimp (12 to 15 count shrimp, I got ours at Costco...already de-veined! Woo hoo!)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and de-vein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them in one layer. Toss them around to make sure they are covered with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

For the cocktail sauce

1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Combine together and refrigerate before serving.

Bay Scallop Gratins

I have been really looking at my Barefoot cookbooks a lot lately, and came across this one and it sounded right up our alley. Steve and I had a low-key Christmas at home, so we decided to make a nice dinner for ourselves. I love scallops and Steve loves prosciutto and this recipe is a nice combination of them both.

I think the topping would have come out a bit better if a) I would have used individual gratin dishes like the recipe calls for instead if a glass 8x8 dish, b) if I would have broiled them the entire time to get a much crustier top and c) if I had a Kitchen Aid mixer to blend it :). I didn't take a picture, because mine did not look at all like the Barefoot's. Tasted good, but not so appealing to look at. So, here is the photo from the Food Network website.

Makes 3 gratins

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (very important)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Pernod (French liquor, with a licorice smell)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
3 tablespoons dry white wine (something you would drink with dinner)
1 pound fresh bay scallops

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place 3 6" round gratin dishes on a sheet pan.

To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, the shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, Pernod, salt and pepper until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil slowly, as though making a mayonnaise, until combined. Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.

Preheat broiler if its separate from your oven.

Place 1 Tablespoon of wine in the bottom of each gratin dish.

Pat the scallops down with a paper towel so they are dry and distribute them among the 3 dishes. If you could only find sea scallops (which are larger than bay scallops), cut them into quarters before placing them in the dish.

Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the top is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. If you want the top crustier, place under the broiler for 2 minutes until browned. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley.

Turkey Meat Loaf

This is one of my most favorite, cold weather, comfort food dishes. This was the first recipe I tried when I got my first Barefoot Contessa cookbook last Christmas and have made it a few times since with rave reviews every time. WARNING - this recipe as is makes the biggest meatloaf you have ever seen. Barefoot says it serves 8-10 and my guess it could serve a small army. I cut it in half recently, and it was still big, but what we didn't eat, we froze and it was still very yummy reheated.

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dry)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast (I told you it was the biggest meatloaf you have ever seen)
1 1/2 cups plain, dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium saute pan, on medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme until the onions are translucent, but not browned (appx. 15 minutes). Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs and onion mixture in a large bowl (might need your bath tub if you make a 5 pound loaf). Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees and the meatloaf is cooked through.

A helpful hint, if you place a pan of hot water in the oven as the loaf is cooking, it will prevent the ketchup from cracking.

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

I have made this recipe a few times from my Barefoot Contessa cookbook and love them. They are a great side dish with turkey meatloaf. The recipe as is serves 6-8, which is a ton. I have cut it down and it is still delicious...even as a leftover!

3 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes and 1 Tablespoon of salt in a 4 qt. sauce pan with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer covered for 25-35 minutes, until the potatoes are completely tender, drain.

In a small sauce pan, heat the half and half and butter.

Put the potatoes into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix them for a few seconds on low speed to break them up
**Note: I do not have stand mixer, so I just used a potato masher for this part**

Slowly add 3/4 of the the hot cream and butter to the potatoes, mixing on the lowest speed. The last 1/4 of the cream and butter should be folded in by hand.

Then fold in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, remaining salt and pepper; taste for seasoning and serve immediately.


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