Friday, October 30, 2009

Artichoke Dip (for non-mayonnaisers)

I love artichoke dip, but the only food I hate in this world is mayonnaise (it is nasty but I must admit it can enhance things sometimes). I played with a few until I found the perfect dip with minimal mayo! Its not very scientific, but I've gotten excellent reviews from friends-- and actually it's even better the next day with some crusty bread, YUM!

I found this recipe on the Food Network but tweaked it a bit and included my adjustments first:

First I doubled the recipe. I used a jar of artichoke hearts and quartered them instead of frozen artichokes. Oh, and after I cooked the spinach I spent a while making sure it was COMPLETELY drained because otherwise I think it would make it kind of soupy and gross otherwise (other people in the reviews complained it was soupy and I think that is why). Also I skipped the red pepper flakes, and used fresh crushed garlic instead of the powder. I topped with Parmesan which I really liked to do-- the more cheese the better, right?Oh and then I baked it on 375 somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes, not exactly sure (keep an eye on it, but long enough for cheese to look all delicious).


  • 1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach
  • 11/2 cups thawed, chopped frozen artichoke hearts (you can chop, but the chunks are the best part!)
  • 6 ounces good cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I probably used less, and only used it to cut the taste of the sour cream. I actually used low-fat too because I think its less offensive than the full fat stuff)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (I probably used like 3/4 c. instead, ha)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (omitted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (fresh crushed sub)


Boil spinach and artichokes in 1 cup of water until tender and drain. Discard liquid. Heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft. Stir in rest of ingredients and serve hot.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chicken Piccata (by the Barefoot Contessa)

In honor of my cute cousins coming to dinner tonight, I am making Chicken Piccata. Ambyr shared this recipe with me and it quickly became a favorite in our home. Enjoy.

Chicken Piccata

4 split (2 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 extra large eggs
1 1/2 seasoned (or plain) dried breadcrumbs
good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
sliced lemon, for serving (I don't do this...)
chopped fresh parsley, for serving (I do do this;)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound it out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper on a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the eggs and 1 tablespoon water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread-crumb mixtures.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add 2 chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the parchment paper covered sheet pan while you cook the rest of the chicken. Heat more olive oil in the saute pan and cook the second 2 chicken breasts. Place them on the same sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5-10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. On medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, white wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves. Serve one chicken breast on each plate, spoon on the sauce, and serve with sliced lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cooking/Baking tip

Read through your recipe once or twice before you begin to cook or bake. Sometimes recipes will say something like mix batter, making sure not to over mix. The cook or baker will stop at mix without reading on and then realize they may have over mixed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A lesson in compromise

The other night, while trying to come up with yet another last minute dinner idea, Ben decided that he wanted waffles for dinner, but I was craving something more along the lines of a caramelized onion quiche. While flipping through my [many] cookbooks for the perfect waffle recipe, we both definitely found what we were looking for, albeit was somewhat unusual.

Husband's review: To review this recipe is like being asked to review what you thought about toilets and indoor plumbing when you were potty training; I was skeptical at first but I eventually came to love the wonder of seeing that water disappear to Neverland, or wherever it goes (just ask Luke, he knows what I'm talking about). I was hungry and I wanted my sweet, buttery, sugar filled waffles, and I wasn't going to hear it any other way. But, due to my kindness (and the fact that Allyson can beat me up), I allowed my wife a savory alternative. However, when she said onions and waffles in the same sentence, and kept a straight face, I thought I was going to bed hungry (Heather, stop laughing, sometimes I DON'T eat everything in sight). This being the case, you could imagine my surprise when she busts out with the most appetizing waffle I've ever seen without whipped cream, sugar or maple syrup af any kind. So, with that in mind, I challenge all of you to slap Aunt Jamima out of the way, cool your Canadian maple loving tendencies, and hold on to your butts as you try these savory grids of goodness. You're gonna like the way it tastes, I guarantee it. But you don't have to take my word for it, because now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Now you have a friend in the waffle business. (4 points if you can name all 4 of the sources of the quotes used)

I guess I should say that to me, cooking is more than a necessity or even a hobby. Cooking is a passion, I'm even tempted to say that to me, cooking is life. I think I scare Ben a little every once in a while, when I suggest something out of the ordinary. So, on top of my passion for cooking, I love cookbooks. Although I'm rather picky about which cookbooks I buy, I have cookbooks for anything and everything, from all over the world. Yes, in fact, I actually read them in my spare time. I'll attribute this recipe to possibly one of my favorite cookbooks, Michael Bauer's "The Secrets of Success Cookbook; Signature Recipes and Insider Tips from San Francisco's Best Restaurants"

So without further ado, here's the long awaited recipe for caramelized onion waffles and lemon cream. The perfect combination of savory with a hint of tang and even the slightest kick. Something unexpected, but combines to create a perfect symphony of flavors.

Caramelized Onion Waffles and Lemon Cream
3 Tbsp butter
2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c chopped fresh mixed herbs (such as parsley, thyme, chives, tarragon, and chervil) [I used 1 1/2 Tbsp mixed dried herbs - parsley, thyme, and tarragon]
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c milk
2 eggs at room temperature
1/3 c melted butter
Vegetable oil for greasing
**optional, 1/4 pound thinly sliced smoked salmon or gravlax

- Melt the 3 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until golden and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

- In a large bowl, combine the flour, herbs, baking powder, pepper, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the caramelized onions. The batter should be thick and slightly lumpy.

- Heat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions and brush the grill lightly with vegetable oil. Cook the waffles until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Brush the grill with oil between each waffle. Serve, topped with lemon cream.

**Optional: Place a waffle in the center of each plate and drape salmon on the waffles around the edges. Drizzle with lemon cream.

Lemon Cream
1 c sour cream
1/4 c whole milk
Zest of one lemon
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

- Wisk the sour cream, milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use.