Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Recipes

It is hard to believe that Easter is already here.  It throws me off when it is so early.  We still have snow on the ground!  That could mess with Easter egg hunts around the Midwest.  Regardless of the not-so-Eastery-weather, I am looking forward to spending the holiday with loved ones. 

I will be trying out some new recipes this year but there will definitely be some old standbys.  Here are some of my favorite recipes that might be great for your Easter celebration!               


Smoked Salmon Breakfast – Easy to put together, and great for a crowd
Best Ever Blueberry Muffins – The name says it all

Easter Meal

Deviled Eggs with Goat Cheese and Herbs – You can use up your colored eggs!

Onion Jam – Great on pork tenderloin, steak, or ham


Lemon Cream Pie – This is what we are having

Lemon Trifle – So springy and light!

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies – Carrots, bunnies, Easter, they all go together
Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lemon Cream Pie

Perfect Pairing:  Easter
I absolutely adore lemon desserts, especially lemon pie.  It always reminds me of my sweet grandpa who always said that was his favorite.  Every time I make this pie someone in my family comments on how much grandpa would love it.

This version of lemon pie does not have a meringue topping.  Instead, on top of the standard lemon filling it has a layer of lemon flavored cream cheese and is topped off with whipped cream or whipped topping.  It is so good. 

There is a fair amount of sugar and egg yolk involved in this recipe.  Needless to say, it will not filed under, “healthy”.   It is more of a celebration type of dessert.  I made this last year for Easter and it was the perfect ending for our family meal.  I am hoping to make it again this year.  I may also repeat these deviled eggs with goat cheese and herbs as an appetizer.  They are just so springy!
This post also gives me a chance to rave about my favorite pressed pie crust recipe.  The crust is made right in the pie plate (nothing to roll out) and it is the best pie crust I have ever had.  My tomato pie (sounds weird, but it is crazy good) post gives step by step instructions with pictures on how to make the crust.

I hope you all have a blessed holiday spent with loved ones celebrating the resurrection of our Savior!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead… 1 Peter 1:3

Friday, March 22, 2013

Slow Cooker Asian Balsamic Beef Roast

Perfect Pairing:  Butternut Squash Risotto

There is something oddly satisfying about using a slow cooker.  It is like I fooled someone into doing my job while I go about my life. 
This recipe is so easy and hands-off.  Oh, it is also really delicious.  Be sure to use the “cheap” balsamic vinegar you buy at the grocery store and not the 20-year-aged stuff you bought as an impulse purchase at the third, er, fourth winery on a Napa winery tour.  The good stuff can’t be appreciated in this dish.  Save that for roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic drizzle.  Yum.   Actually, that could be a good side dish for this recipe.


I found that butternut squash risotto is the perfect accompaniment to this recipe.  They are both just a little sweet and the sauce tastes great with the risotto.  The meat is also great leftover and is awesome as a topper for a baked potato. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp

Perfect Pairing:  Babich Sauvignon Blanc
The first time I heard of lemon pasta I was not so sure I would like it, it just seemed a little strange.  Turns out, I love it.  So many pasta dishes are heavy and rich but Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp is light and delicious.  It is also really quick to throw together.

I used meyer lemons which are a bit sweeter and less acidic, but I think regular lemons would work well.  If you use regular lemons you may want to use less and add more to taste.  The citrus flavored pasta pairs really well with the roasted shrimp.  Roasting is my favorite way to prepare shrimp.  I first wrote about it in my recipe for quinoa with roasted shrimp, asparagus, and goat cheese.

This dish is finished off with freshly grated parmesan and fresh herbs.  You could use whatever you have on hand but I really liked the combination of tarragon, basil, and parsley.

My favorite variety of white wine is Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  It is crisp, dry, and refreshing.  It always seems to have a hint of grapefruit.  I know wine summaries have some pretty crazy descriptions that to most people are completely undetectable, but I really can pick out the grapefruit. 
I ran across Babich Sauvignon Blanc at my local grocery store and it has been my go-to white wine ever since.  It is a great deal for under $15.  It is perfect in the sauce of this dish and served alongside.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Overnight Muesli

Perfect Pairing:  Favorite toppings
I used to do a lot of international travel with my job and became a bit of a hotel breakfast buffet connoisseur.   The European buffets especially intrigued me.  Broiled tomatoes for breakfast?  I can get on board.  Blood sausage?  Never.  They always had a large selection of deli meat and cheese with hard rolls and butter.  That was pretty standard.  The buffets usually had muesli as well.  I was a huge fan of that dish. 

According to Wikipedia, Muesli is "a popular breakfast meal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts.  It was developed by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital.  It is available in a packaged dry form, ready made, or it can be made fresh."  I guess that is why it is often called Bircher Muesli.  Thank you Wikipedia!  I often wondered that.

I always assumed muesli was filled with cream (and maybe it is at the hotels), but I realized I could make my own version with very little fat and it still tasted like it was doused with rich cream.  Rolled oats are soaked overnight in fresh orange juice and water.  The next morning I add a grated granny smith apple and fat free Greek yogurt.  The yogurt is what makes it creamy and rich.   I love making muesli at the beginning of the week and enjoying it all week for breakfast.  It is a super healthy breakfast that is also very filling.  It is a refreshing change from hot oatmeal, if that is your standard.
You can top off muesli with a variety of toppings like berries, coconut, pecans, walnuts, almonds, honey, peaches, bananas, raisins, etc.  My favorite combination is berries, honey, sliced almonds, and dried cranberries. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats

Perfect Pairing:  St. Patrick’s Day
Old fashioned rice krispy treats are hard to beat, but sometimes I cannot leave well enough alone.  My recipe is made with browned butter and a pinch of salt, but everything else is pretty much the same as the traditional recipe.  Oh, I also added mini chocolate chips to the top because how could that hurt? 

Browning the butter before adding it to the marshmallows gives the treats a nutty and rich flavor.  It is subtle, but you can definitely tell the difference.  I love this version.  Brown butter does magical things to simple recipes.  One of my all-time favorite appetizers is manchego with brown butter honey sauce.  Yum.
So you may have noticed the rice krispy treats are green.  That was on purpose, not a kitchen experiment gone wrong.  I wanted to do something festive for St. Patrick’s Day.  Last year I made green edamame hummus, which was a hit at the St. Paddy’s party I attended.  Of course, you can always leave the food coloring out or change it up for a different event.
I will be celebrating with family again this St. Patrick’s Day, but I don’t think we will be as lucky as last year with the weather.  I will never forget that day.  Not only did we have a great time but it was 80+ degrees in Chicago and the trees were budding.  This year….. not so much.  Oh well, we know spring is coming!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Turkey Meatball Sandwiches

Perfect Pairing:  Hollowed out bread

Dude food.   That is what I think of when I think about meatball sandwiches.  They are quite manly.  Oh, I also think of Joey Tribbiani on Friends.  He had a thing for meatball sandwiches.  I would love to cook for Joey.  I think he would like anything I put in front of him. 
Even though I made these for my cousin, who is definitely a dude, I did have to girly-up the sandwiches a little bit.  I don’t think he noticed.  I substituted lean ground turkey for beef, or whatever they use in normal meatballs.  In addition, I used a small amount of hot Italian pork sausage.  It added a ton of flavor without much added fat.
I made my own sauce with just a few ingredients, but you could easily substitute your favorite store bought sauce. 

When I was putting the sandwiches together I realized it was a lot of bread.  I made the bread “skinny” by tearing out the soft insides to save on calories.  Thank you Potbelly’s for the idea!  You really don’t miss the extra bread and it makes the sandwich easier to handle.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chicken Tikka Masala

Perfect Pairing:  Tandoori Rice and Naan
A few years ago I went on a girl’s trip with some friends to Washington, D.C. to visit our mutual friend, Ashley.  We spent our days seeing the sights and visiting monuments, and had a fantastic time.  One of the nights we got all gussied up and went to a very hip restaurant for dinner that turned into a club.  It was probably too hip for me.  I remember thinking the other patrons looked like the cast of Gossip Girl.  Anyway, the cuisine was Asian and Indian fusion and the food was outstanding.

Ashley happened to know the owner of the restaurant.  This will come as no surprise if you know Ashley. To know her is to love her, she is full of personality, spunk, and style.  In fact, she just started her own styling business and I have absolutely no doubt that she is going to be a huge success.  Check out her charming website at  Since she could pull some strings at the restaurant she ordered us some dishes that were not even on the menu.  One of those was Butter Chicken.  Oh, my goodness.  I was expecting chicken dripping in a garlic butter sauce, but it was a spicy tomato based sauce and I was in love. 

After that trip I did some research on butter chicken and realized it is very similar (if not the same thing) as chicken tikka masala, which is a very popular Indian dish.  I have made a few versions of tikka masala and they were good, but this one was definitely the best.  I think what really made the difference in this version was the chicken preparation.  It is spiced, then dipped in greek yogurt, and cooked under the broiler.  I have never considered doing this before and was a little dubious.  It was amazing!  The chicken was moist from the yogurt and had the perfect amount of charred flavor. 

Oddly enough, there is no butter in the recipe and the entire dish is light and healthy.  I served it with Tandoori Rice (made with brown rice) and store bought naan.  It was even great leftover. 

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