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.

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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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Blue Cheese Stuffed Buffalo Chicken

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I grew up on my mother’s chicken cutlets. They are delicious, and warm, and go with just about anything as a side. Let’s be honest though, plain chicken cutlets can get boring if you have them too often. My husband loves buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese dressing. And I thought, why not combine the two? This recipe is simple enough to make on a week night and will easily spice up dinner. The spicy and crispy breading, warm and juicy chicken, cool and creamy blue cheese are a winning combination. I served this with a tomatoes baked with cheese. My husband liked this meal so much he made me promise I would make it again.

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Blue Cheese Stuffed Buffalo Chicken

Ingredients

Chicken breasts
2 egg whites, beaten
Crumbled blue cheese
Unsalted butter
Franks Red Hot (or your preferred buffalo sauce)
Bread crumbs (plain or seasoned work)
Vegetable oil

Melt about two tablespoons of butter in a small pot. Stir in about one cup of buffalo sauce. (usually I do this part by sight) Mix the buffalo sauce and breadcrumbs. Take the chicken breasts and slit a pocket into each breast, careful not to cut all the way through the breast, and stuff the pocket with blue cheese crumbles. Heat some vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet on medium. Dip the chicken breasts in the egg whites and then dredge though the breadcrumb mixture making sure to get a nice coat of breadcrumbs on the chicken breasts. Fry the breasts on medium heat until they are cooked through. Some cheese might spill out, but don’t worry… There will be plenty of flavor left.

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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Not Your Everyday Potatoes

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Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year. I look forward to Thanksgiving every fall. I love this time of year and I love that I know exactly what Thanksgiving will be like. We have so many traditions surrounding Thanksgiving. My mom hosts dinner at her house on Thursday. But when we bought our house, about 5 years ago, we started hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at our house on Friday. It’s so nice to be able to share this time with our families and invite everyone over to our house for a special occasion. Everyone is relaxed and happy, and we officially start the holiday season in style. I have some dishes that have become my staples for hosting Thanksgiving dinner, among them my roasted yellow pepper soup with serrano chile cream. My mom makes a fantastic turkey, so she brings the leftovers to my house, and I make a ham to add some variety.

Everyone knows that you have to have potatoes at Thanksgiving. My family isn’t big into sweet potatoes, and since starting this low-carb diet, when we cheat, we want to make it count. I decided to make gnocchi gratin with Gorgonzola dulce from the December issue of Bon Appetit. I have never made pasta from scratch and have definitely never made gnocchi. We all love cheese, and blue cheese is a crowd pleaser, so this recipe sounded like something that I really wanted to make. This required a little work, but was a relatively easy recipe for a first timer. The gnocchi turned out soft and tender. The sauce was creamy and flavorful. Everyone forgot about their diets! I will definitely be making this again.

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Not quite Julia Child

Remember the movie “Julie/Julia” that came out a while ago? Watching that movie with my mother made me want to rush back home, and start cooking. What happened? I never quite kept that motivation. My mom has “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” but I don’t. On Friday I got the motivation to tackle Beef Bourguignon. I looked up some recipes, and went for one that called for red wine, and seemed like a good “starter” recipe. What can go wrong with bacon, and wine?

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This was a good beginner recipe. The meat was tasty, and all you need is a nice, small slice of fresh crispy baguette to soak up the juices. My first attempt was a success. I am going to progress to the more difficult and fancier versions. Perhaps I’ll dive right into Julia Child’s recipe. I also want to try Ina Garten’s recipe. I’m not sure how hubby will feel about me spending lots of money on the ingredients (brandy and wine) if he doesn’t get to drink them. But I’m sure that he’ll enjoy the yummy beef bourguignon.

Приятного аппетита!