Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fresh Basil Pesto

I admit it... I am a pesto fanatic... I can't imagine anything better than a freshly made pesto... I had it in restaurants for so many years, never realizing how easy it is to make at home. It's simple and you can put it on everything... burgers, bread, pasta, vegetables.... the possibilities are endless!

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh flat leaf (Italian parsley)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (Romano works too)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (I substitute walnuts when I don't have pine nuts... just toast them up in a small skillet on top of the stove. Your nose will let you know when they are done! You can also use pecans for a different taste!)
4 garlic gloves, peeled and roughly chopped (use fresh - not that jarred stuff)
1/4 teaspoon salt (I only cook with kosher salt)
1/2 cup of good quality olive oil

Put all ingredients except olive oil into food processor. Pulse until ingredients are combined and starting to break down. While processor is on, drizzle olive oil in through top and combine until pesto is smooth.

It's that EASY! And the best pesto you will ever eat outside of a really great restaurant. It puts that store bought stuff to shame! You'll never buy it again once you've made this and realize how easy it is!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Herbed Creamy Pasta with Mushrooms

2 Tbsp butter
1 cup mushrooms (brown or white)
rosemary (I use a Pampered Chef dry version, but fresh would be good)
garlic salt (although fresh garlic would probably be better)
8 ounces of linquini or pasta of your choice
3/4 cup cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (not that stuff in the can, but the real grated kind from the deli section)

Saute mushrooms in butter with salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary. Meanwhile boil pasta until al dente. Once mushrooms are browned, add cream and nutmeg... cook for a couple of minutes until slighty thickened. Add pasta and toss to coat, add parmesan cheese, stir and serve.

You can also add peas to this or shredded carrots. Just be sure they get cooked. You could also add some roasted chicken to make it a complete meal on its own.

Amaretto Salmon

This is one of my absolute favorite dishes.

One salmon filet (however much you need to feed your group)
salt and pepper
dijon mustard
Italian bread crumbs (I use the ones in the blue cannister that you buy on the flour aisle)
1/2 stick butter
1 shot of amaretto liquor

Wash and pat dry your salmon, place on a foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, spread on a thin layer of dijon mustard. Follow with a thin layer of bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes or until just shy of done.  When the salmon is almost done, turn the oven to broil, move the rack and pan up and cook for about 5 minutes or until it is nicely browned. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat and add the shot of amaretto. Remove fish from oven. Remove to plate. The skin should stick to the foil. Cover with butter sauce and serve!! It's delicious!

Great left over on top of a salad. Good stuff!

Relay for Life 2009

Cyndi Lauper and Punky Brewster

Every year our family participates in Relay for Life. We lost our dad on November 17, 2007 to prostate cancer. Not a day goes by I don't miss him...

And that is the ONLY reason you'd ever see me in this outfit! My daughter and I participated in the 80's celebrity contest. Between all the participants we raised over $500 for the American Cancer Society. Our team raised almost $12,000 altogether.

Hope for a Cure... at least in my daughter's lifetime.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Chicken Marsala Casserole

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, diced
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Marsala
2 cups water
1 cup long-grain converted rice or orzo
2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced (You could use rotisserie chicken and it would add lots of extra flavor!)
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350˚.
In a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms and shallot in the butter until tender.
Sprinkle with the flour and stir. Add milk and Marsala, and cook over medium heat until thickened. Add the water. (Yes, it seems weird to add the water, but you need it for the rice/orzo.) Sprinkle the rice or orzo evenly over the bottom of a 13 x 9" pan. (Spray with Pam first!) Add the chicken, and top all with mushroom gravy mixture. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 35 minutes until bubbly. Remove foil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer. Serves 4 (or more if you use more chicken).

Amaretto Chicken

We had this tonight... pretty good over rice, but I think I'd like it even better over linquine or egg noodles. But I am just a pasta freak... what can I say?

SERVES 3 -4 (Depending on how much you pig out!)

1/4 cup butter
3-4 boneless chicken breast halves (I used thighs because we like dark meat)
3 green onions, diced
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh tarragon (I left this out because I didn't have any)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded gruyere, cheese
1/2 cup amaretto liqueur
1/4 cup capers

Melt 1/4 cup of the butter in large skillet over med high heat.
Brown chicken in butter quickly, remove to a baking pan.
Add the green onion and mushrooms with the garlic and tarragon. (If you used chicken breast you may need to add some more butter in order to brown the vegetables.)
Pour this over the chicken.
Heat the cream, cheese and amaretto in the pan, whisking rapidly.
Stir in capers then pour the sauce over the chicken.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.