Hasselback Potatoes

Simple really is better with this upgraded version of baked potatoes.  While the thin slices may be  intimidating,  it’s about the only step that requires a little more time.  Just slice, bake & top with breadcrumbs.

Ingredients (serves three)

3 medium sized russet potatoes
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
3 tbsp truffle oil
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. For each of the potatoes, make parallel quarter inch thick slits the entire length of the potato without slicing all of the way through.  Place potatoes on baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or aluminum foil.   Season with salt and pepper.

3. Melt half of the stick of butter and mix with 1 tbsp of truffle oil and 1 clove of minced garlic.  Pour mixture over each potato, ensuring it gets within each of the slices.

4. Place potatoes in the oven and cook for 30 – 40 minutes or until top of the potato is slightly crisp and middle is cooked through.

5. Melt remaining butter.  In a mixing bowl, combine butter, remaining truffle oil, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and remaining garlic.

6. Place breadcrumb mixture over the top of each potato and pat down slightly to get within each slice.

7.  Bake an additional 15 minutes or until tops are slightly browned.


Spicy Shrimp Saute

Add some spice to your night with this quicker than takeout meal.  Even better, the marinaded shrimp also are great on the grill when cooking for a crowd

1 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sambal oelek
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar or honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger (ground works too if you don’t have fresh)
1 tsp sesame oil
6 large shrimp
1 cup green beans
Olive oil

In a bowl, mix together the first 6 ingredients.  Add the shrimp and let marinade for at least 10-15 minutes prior to cooking.

Place a skillet over medium heat and warm the olive oil.  Once heated, add green beans and saute for 3-4 minutes (normally you’d want to blanch the green beans first but I was just too lazy and didn’t want to deal with any extra dishes to do!)

After 3-4 minutes,  remove the shrimp from the marinade and place them in the skillet. Cook for 1 -2 minutes on the first side until pink then flip and cook for another minute before adding the marinade to the skillet.  Continue cooking for another 2 minutes.  Remove and serve!

Noodles & Veggies in the BEST Peanut Sauce

For some reason I have never been able to pull off a good peanut sauce and it’s a shame because peanut sauce is one of my favorite things to have when I am out for Thai food.

Tonight was rainy, cold & gross so ordering in some Thai did seem like the thing to do but after a second thought I was determined to make it myself.

And I did!  Adding a little of this and a little of that, this time the peanut sauce turned out PERFECT.  And with plenty leftover, I am looking forward to enjoying it with a bunch of meals this week.

Hope you enjoy it just as much.

Noodles & Veggies in Peanut Sauce

Serving of your favorite noodles (whole wheat penne)
Choices of vegetables (steamed broccoli, water chestnuts, green peas)
Peanut Sauce

Cook noodles according to package directions until just add al dente.

If desired, saute vegetables in a pan with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp minced garlic.  Then add cooked pasta & 2 tbsp of the peanut sauce.  Stir so that everything is coated in the sauce and cook until warmed through.

You can also use precooked veggies (either leftover or in the microwave) and just pour the sauce over the noodles and vegetables.

Peanut Sauce

(makes 1 1/2 cups)

1 tsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sambal oelek (for spice, omit if you wish)
2 tbsp. peanut butter, natural if possible
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp Agave or Honey, if using natural peanut butter
Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Cornstarch (optional)

In a small saucepan heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and sambal oelek, if using.  Cook for 1 minute and add the peanut butter.  Stir for another 2 minutes until the peanut butter begins to melt.  Stir in coconut milk, water, soy sauce, agave (or honey), if using.  Cook over medium low heat, uncovered for 8 – 10 minutes, whisking ever. Taste and season with salt accordingly.  Whisk in the cayenne.  If using the cornstarch, add now and whisk in briskly.  Otherwise, let thicken by simmering over low heat until it reaches the desired consistency.

Comforting Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken

Freezing temperatures, biting winds and post holiday blues.  Although most people have just made their New Year’s resolutions, doesn’t it seem that these are the months when comfort food is needed most?

Comfort food usually conjures thoughts of macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and cheesecake, but on a cold Sunday evening in January there are few things more comforting than roasted chicken.

Perhaps to some people, roasting a whole chicken seems too complicated or just not worth it.  Well, this Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken disproves both of those thoughts and will turn even the most stubborn roast chicken doubters into believers.

Prep time  only takes 10 minutes.  From there the oven goes to work until you are ready to enjoy one the juiciest chicken dinners ever.  And while the lemon garlic flavors are divine, it is mild enough so you can use the leftover chicken all week long.  Quesadillas, soups, pizza.  You name it, with pre-cooked chicken quick meals are right at your fingertips.

Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken

Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken

serves 4

(Printable version)

1 6lb. Chicken, giblets removed and patted dry
2 large yellow onions, quartered
1 1/2 lemons, quartered
1 head garlic, top cut off plus 4 small cloves, mashed
1 bunch thyme (about 4 springs)
1/2 cup water
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place 1 of the quartered onions and 1 of the quartered lemons on the bottom of a roasting pan to create a bed for the chicken.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Place the bird on top of the bed, breast side up.  Liberally pour about 1/4 cup olive oil all over the bird and some inside the crevice.  Season the crevice of the bird with salt and pepper.  Remove skin slightly from breast meat so that you can rub olive oil and the 4 mashed garlic cloves under the skin.  Leave garlic cloves under the skin for roasting. Place half lemon, remaining onions, head of garlic (top sliced off) and thyme into the crevice. Sprinkle the bird generously with salt & pepper and finish with about a teaspoon of paprika. Pour water into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Cover the bird in foil and place in the oven on the middle rack.  Roast for 45 minutes and then remove the foil.  Continue to roast the chicken for approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes.  The temperature of the inner thigh should be 165 degrees F & the juices run clear.

Remove from the oven and place chicken on a cutting board.  Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

To make quick pan gravy:

Strain out all of the lemon quarters and most of the onions from the pan juices and pour remaining liquid into a small saucepan.   Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes or until reduced and thickened.  Season to taste and if desired whisk in a half tablespoon of Dijon mustard.

Also try: Quick & Simple Sides Dishes

Better For You Sweet Potato Mash

Peel and cube 2 large sweet potatoes.  Boil water in a medium saucepan.  Place sweet potato cubes in steamer basket and cook for about 10 – 15 minutes.  In a microwave safe bowl,  heat 1 3/4 cups skim milk, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg & 1/8 pepper for 1 minute 30 seconds.  Pour water out of saucepan, add the sweet potatoes and mash with a fork.  Pour in heated milk mixture and stir.  If you desire a smoother consistency, puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Add 2 teaspoons garlic and lightly saute for 1 minute.  Add 10 cups swiss chard, rinsed with the inner stem removed and sliced into 1 inch wide strips.  Season with salt and pepper and saute for 5-8 minutes or until wilted.

So how about you?  What is you comfort food?

Poached Fish with Pistou & Pommes Anna

Poached Fish w Pistou and Pommes Anna

People often ask me why I love to cook so much, what is it about being in the kitchen that keeps drawing me back in there.  Over the years I’ve come up with numerous explanations ranging from the emotional thrill I get from cooking to the more practical logic that I just love to eat.

Deep down though there is the fascination with creating something.  I don’t care what anyone else says, to me cooking is an art form and should be treated as such.   Of course I enjoy creating my works of art for others but most importantly, I do it for myself.

What I love about the dish below is how a few humble ingredients can, with a little love and attention, be transformed into the perfect French inspired meal.

I started with a beautiful fresh piece of fish, lemon sole to be exact.  Having an overflowing bounty of fresh basil thanks to all the rain this summer,  I decided the mild fish would be wonderful paired with a tangy pistou,  France’s version of pesto, full of fragrant garlic & basil.  And lastly, to continue with the French theme,  I rounded out the meal with Pommes Anna.  Simplicity at its finest,  I knew the crunchy crust of potatoes would lend the perfect contrast of textures to the poached fish.

Poached Fish with Pistou and Pommes Anna

Printable Version

For the Fish

1 lb. lemon sole (or other mild, white fish)
2 cups white wine (I used a bottle of Chardonnay that I had open already)
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp  butter

For the Pistou

1 1/2 cups basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil

For the Pommes Anna

1/2 lb. waxy potatoes, sliced thinly (I used about 8 medium sized red bliss potatoes)
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter

Since it will take the longest in the oven, begin by making the Pommes Anna.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Brush the bottom and sides of a round baking dish with butter.  Begin to layer the potato slices in a circle, starting in the middle and working your way outward.  Once one layer is complete, brush the top with more butter and season with salt and pepper.  Repeat with remaining potato slices, brushing butter and seasoning after every layer.  Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven.  After half hour, remove aluminum foil and continue to bake uncovered for an additional 30-45 minutes.

While the Pommes Anna is baking, prepare the pistou.  Place basil, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.  Pulse to blend on low speed a few times or until all of the ingredients are combined.  Set aside.

About 10 minutes before the Pommes Anna is done (it should be crispy on top) place fish in shallow baking dish.  Pour white wine and lemon juice over fish and then season with salt and pepper (fish should not be completely covered).  Place in oven and cook about 10 minutes or until fish is just firm and flaky.

Slice Pommes Anna in wedges and serve with fish and pistou.

Bon Appétit!