Ying Yang gazpacho

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Friday night we had a small dinner party with friends, and I wanted to make a delicious, filling meal that was not too heavy. I settled on making a chopped salad, gazpacho 2 ways, green beans, and filet of sole in a butter sauce. I decided to make a yellow tomato gazpacho soup and a traditional red tomato gazpacho. When I served them, I put them together in the same bowl, and my friends named it ying yang gazpacho. The pickiest of eaters even ate a bowl of this gazpacho. I think that this will become a summer time staple. The soups have great complimentary tastes and textures. They are easy to make, and are a nice change from having salad.

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Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

2 pints yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 Valencia orange, peeled and pith removed
1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove
3/4 cups olive oil
1/4 cups red wine vinegar
1/4 Tsp hot sauce, or to taste

Working in batches, purée ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with salt, whisk, and chill, covered, for one hour. Whisk before serving.

Traditional Gazpacho

4-6 ripe red tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cups olive oil

Working in batches, purée ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with salt, whisk, and chill, covered, for one hour. Whisk before serving.

Both soups can be served with croutons and some chopped chives.

Cajun Chicken Fettucine Alfredo

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It’s a Friday night, my husband was coming home from 3 days away from home, and my oldest son has soccer practice in the evening. I needed a dinner that could be made ahead, that would knock my husband’s socks off, and that the kids would want to eat as well. Fettuccine Alfredo is my favorite pasta, and I have a recipe for homemade sauce. But I wanted to try something with a twist and found a recipe for Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. This recipe is easy to make and so delicious. The sauce is creamy and flavorful. The chicken has a great flavor and is tender. My boys ate it up and even asked for seconds. My husband said this definitely goes on the list of food I should make again.

Ingredients

4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 ¼ lbs.)
1 ½ Tbs. Cajun blackening spice
2 Tbs. butter, divided
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 C (1/2 pint) grape tomatoes, halved
¼ C. dry white wine (or chicken broth)
1 ½ C. heavy cream
1 ½ C. good quality, freshly grated Italian cheeses (I used Asiago)
4 oz. herbed goat cheese, crumbled
1 tsp. kosher salt (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (or more, to taste)
1 pound cooked fettuccini

Cook fettuccini “al-dente” according to package directions, stirring often. Drain, and rinse with hot tap water, to keep pasta from sticking. Drain again.

Chicken

Rinse chicken breast in cool water, and pat dry. Pound each chicken breast flat with a flat meat mallet or rolling pin, between two sheets of plastic wrap. Set flattened breasts on a clean plate. Sprinkle a heavy amount of blackening spice on both sides of each chicken breast, pressing to adhere. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 1 Tbs. of the butter, and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, until butter begins to brown. Place chicken in the pan, and sear on one side, until it is very brown, about 3 minutes. Flip chicken and sear the other side until very brown, about another 1 ½ minutes. Work in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Place browned chicken onto a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. Remove chicken from the oven and thinly slice against the grain; set aside.

Sauce

If the skillet looks dry, add a bit more olive oil. Re-heat the skillet over medium heat. Pour in the dry white wine into the skillet to deglaze the pan—whisk all of the delicious brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan and sauté to soften and lightly caramelize, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour the heavy cream to the pan with the tomato mixture, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the salt, pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Continue to stir the cream mixture while it simmers for 3-4 minutes. The cream will reduce slightly. Remove from heat. Add the grated cheeses, and goat cheese to the cream sauce. Stir constantly until all the cheese has melted, and sauce is smooth. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings. Pour the fettuccine onto the sauce, and top with the sliced chicken. Toss the pasta and chicken into the sauce with tongs, until well combined. Turn tossed pasta into a large serving bowl.

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Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

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Football season is over. My weekends full of cooking and baking for a house full of people are done. Every weekend was an excuse to bake something sinful, make a tasty dip, or try a different version of chili. Things have slowed down, and now I have had a chance to take a breather. I decided to bake something and looked through my refrigerator and pantry. I decided to make a Cream Cheese Coffee Cake. As a child I loved the Entenmann’s cheese coffee cake and thought this would be a homemade version of this.

The cream cheese layer in the middle keeps this cake from being too sweet. My little Munchkin would eat two pieces at a time, saying “yummy cake”. I think that’s a good endorsement for this cake. It’s great for desserts or with coffee in the morning. This cake will definitely be making more appearances in our kitchen.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

For the filling:
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

For the streusel topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease/flour or spray a 9 x 13 cake pan. Set aside.

Make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla on medium-low speed until creamy. Set aside for the filling. (If you have 1 bowl and paddle, you will need to put this mixture in a separate bowl, and wash them to use to make the cake batter)

Make the cake batter: In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-low speed. Add eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract. Slowly pour in the flour mixture alternating with the sour cream until it is all combined.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared cake pan with a spatula. Spread the cream cheese filling evenly on top. Top with remaining cake batter and smooth with a spatula. Using a butter knife, gently swirl in the batter.

Make the topping: Add the sugar, flour and chilled butter in a small bowl. Stir using a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the streusel on top of cake batter.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

Two delicious ways to use Buttermilk

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Buttermilk.
I know my Russian Jewish grandparents used to love drinking buttermilk. But I never knew what to do with buttermilk. I didn’t really like the taste of it, and so I never thought about having it in the house. Now, through school, my five year old discovered a love of pancakes. I know, isn’t that the way that it always is? They’ll try new foods when they aren’t home, but you can’t get them to eat something new ever. Well, I decided to take advantage of his new love of pancakes, and to have him help me make pancakes from scratch. And I found a great recipe for buttermilk pancakes. Now on the weekends, when the mood strikes, we get into the kitchen, and together we whip up a batch of buttermilk pancakes that everyone can enjoy.

But now I always have buttermilk, and I hate for it to go to waste. So I needed to find another use for the buttermilk. I decided to try to make a Cinammon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake. It was delicious! And since I always have these simple ingredients on hand, it’s a good cake recipe to have in my repertoire. My husband even loved it, and he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. He liked the favors and that it wasn’t too rich and sweet. The cake was also approved by my kiddo. So definitely a recipe I’ll be repeating.

Buttermilk Pancakes
1cup all-purpose flour
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Vegetable oil for brushing griddle

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, egg, and buttermilk until smooth.

Heat a griddle or a large heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot enough to make drops of water scatter over its surface, the brush with oil. Working in batches and using a1/4 cup measure filled halfway, pour batter onto griddle and cook, turning over once, until golden, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to a heatproof plate and keep warm. Serve with maple syrup and butter.

Cinammon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake
Cinammon Streusel Swirl
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground Cinammon
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Buttermilk Pound Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulate sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest
1 cup buttermilk

Garnish
Powdered sugar

Position rack in the center of oven and preheat to oven to 325 degrees. Grease the inside of a 10″ bundt pan. Dust the pan with flour and shake out the excess.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt breaking up any of the larger pieces of the brown sugar for the streusel swirl. Add the melted butter and stir until blended and crumbly.

Sift together the flours baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter at a medium speed until very creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat at medium-high speed until well blended and light, about 4 mins. At medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract and orange zest. At low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions and mixing just until well combined.

Scrape 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the batter. Scrape the remaining batter on top and smooth it into an even layer.

Bake the cake for 65 to 75 min, until a cake tester inserte into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 mins. Invert the cake not the rack and let cook completely. Dust the cake lightly with powdered sugar right before serving.

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Salmon Wrapped Poached Eggs

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My husband was working from home, I dropped our 5 year old at school, and just put the baby down for a nap when I got a text “I’m hungry”. It was late morning, perfect time for brunch. And with no kids around, an adult brunch, with food for an adult palette. Eggs make everyone happy, and with a little patience, poached eggs are quickly becoming my favorite type of eggs. I decided to make salmon wrapped poached eggs. The buttery texture of the eggs, the salty smoked salmon, and the creamy sauce… What a combination! This definitely satisfied my husband’s hunger, and is a great alternative to eggs Benedict. I sent my husband back to the basement to work happy and with a full belly. I will definitely be making this the next time we have guests for brunch.

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Salmon wrapped Poached Eggs

Ingredients
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup EVOO
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 ripe avocados
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 english muffins, split and lightly toasted
4 teaspoons distiller white vinegar
16 large eggs
1 lb thinly sliced smoked salmon

Make sauce
Whisk together sour cream and lemon juice. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Stir in chives, salt, and pepper to taste.

Prepare brioches for serving
Soak onion in cold water for 10 minutes. Then drain and pat dry.
Halve and peel avocados and cut crosswise into thin slices, then sprinkle with lemon juice. Put 2 english muffin halves on each plate, top with avocado and onion slices.

Poach eggs
Bring water to a simmer in a pot. Add vinegar, and be careful to make sure that the water remains at a simmer and doesn’t begin to boil. Break the eggs gently into a cup, one egg at a time and slowly lower the eggs into the simmering water. Cook each egg about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon take the eggs out and place on paper towels to drain.

Wrap each egg in a slice of salmon. Out a wrapped egg in too of each English muffin half and drizzle sauce over salmon.

Tuna Casserole for kids… And adults

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It’s a Monday, and after a weekend of entertaining the kids and running around, I just wanted to throw together an easy dinner that would please everyone. This is not low-carb friendly, but sometimes convenience wins out. So I decided to make my tuna casserole. Growing up I never had tuna casserole. In fact I don’t think that I’ve ever tasted the traditional tuna casserole that’s made with Campbell’s mushroom soup. I saw this recipe that called for jarred alfredo sauce but I have an easy Alfredo recipe, so I substituted my own homemade Alfredo sauce.

My little 5 year old kiddo loved being in the kitchen and helping to make this dinner. He knew all the different ingredients. This is not a complicated recipe to put together. My kiddo helped me with every step, tasting all the different ingredients. He was very excited to try the casserole. To add a little “adult” twist, I added crispy shallots to the top. My kiddo was eating them too, so maybe it wasn’t just for adults.

TUNA CASSEROLE

Pasta (I like rotini or farfalle)
Package of frozen peas
2 cans tuna
Breadcrumbs

Alfredo Sauce

1stick of unstated butter
2 tbsp of cream cheese
3/4 – 1 cup of Parmesan cheese
Pint heavy cream
Garlic powder (to taste)

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the cream, cream cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Stir frequently to keep the sauce from burning or boiling over. Make sure that the cheese melts thoroughly. Season with garlic powder to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350. Boil the pasta according to the directions on the box. Stir the Alfredo sauce into pasta. Add the tuna and the peas, sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs. Put the casserole in the oven until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 10-15 mins.

Crispy Shallots

1 1/2 cups oil (olive or vegetable)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
5-6 shallots sliced into thin rings

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook for 30-40 mins, until the are a rich golden brown. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well, and cool on paper towels.

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Boston Marathon Chili tastes good in New York too

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Football season is over, and I have to admit that I miss my Sundays. I’m missing sitting by the fire with my boys, watching our teams play, and eating chili. There was a comfort knowing that every Sunday we were having chili, and would have a relaxing day(albeit sometimes stressful if our teams were losing). Our house was always open for anyone who wanted to join us. The more the merrier! I was not a “football widow” and took pride in making the typical football food and didn’t want to miss a minute of the game.

But now the season is over, no more Super Bowl to plan a menu for (Go Giants!), but the weather is still cold (let’s pretend that we had a real winter in NY, ok?). So I decided to start trying out different chili recipes. Maybe there is something else I can make to shake things up a bit during the football season. My regular chili uses ground beef, and I thought that it might be nice to try a chili that uses chunks of beef, and I found this recipe for Boston Marathon Chili.

This is is a delicious, filling, flavor filled chili. And my husband said it was even better the next day. The pork rib meat is a little drier than the beef, so I think that next time I’m going to try making this with just beef. The meat was tender, and absorbed the flavor of the chili really well. This isn’t exactly a chili that is easy to eat with chips, but my husband was determined. I think that this recipe I’ll keep for those football Sundays when we know we are having company for the game.

For dessert, I needed something simple, and sweet, and something that would be a good snack for the game. I’m not going to take credit for creating this snack, and I don’t know a better way to describe them than chocolate pretzel hugs. They are addictive! You’ve been warned… You can’t have just one.

Ingredients
Hershey’s Hugs (you can use kisses if you prefer, but I love the hugs for this snack)
Snyders pretzel snaps
M&M’s

Preheat the oven to 175. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and spread pretzel snaps out flat in one layer. Remove hugs from foil wrappers, and place one hug on the center of each pretzel. Place the cookie sheet into the oven for 5-6 mins. Immediately after removing the tray from the oven, push one M&M into the center of each hug. Place the tray into the fridge to allow the chocolate to harden.

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