Monday, November 26, 2007

Back in the kitchen!

It's been a couple of weeks, but now that my interviews are over (I'm an assistant principal now!) and our Thanksgiving trip to Charlotte has passed (congrats Mrs. Helen Miller!) I can get back to cooking. After our weekend of binge eating, Chad and I said we would eat healthy this week so I made a salad tonight with scallops. It was totally delicious. I could eat this every night.

Spinach Salad with Scallops and Shallot-Balsamic Viniagrette

1 package fresh spinach
5 pieces of bacon
1/2 lb. sea scallops
1 small shallot, minced
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
goat cheese

Divide the spinach between big individual salad bowls (we had 2 huge servings for dinner, plus one leftover portion for lunch). Fry the bacon until crispy, and reserve 1-2 tablespoons of fat. Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper, and sear on both sides in the bacon fat. Make sure you have a big pan so the scallops aren't crowded...if there are too many they will steam rather than sear. Remove the scallops and cover to keep warm. Add one tablespoon olive oil and saute the shallots for 3 minutes.

In a bowl, mix the mustard and balsamic. Stream in the olive oil. Add the warm shallots.

Top spinach with dressing, goat cheese, craisins, crumbled bacon and dressing, then toss. Add scallops and enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Apricot-Ginger Chicken Salad

This is my absolute favorite chicken salad...and it's courtesy of my mom of course! I made this for my friend Daniela's baby shower last January and it was a huge hit. Tonight Chad and I had it with a broccoli cheese soup mix. Quick and easy dinner!

Apricot-Ginger Chicken Salad

1/2 cup fat free plain yogurt
3 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 oz. dried apricots, chopped
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup celery

Whisk together yogurt, preserves, ginger, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Add apricots, chicken, celery and chopped nuts if desired. Let chill and serve on favorite roll. This is great on a croissant, and can be prepared on the bread the night before and left to chill overnight.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

Chad is going to be home late tonight, and I knew I wouldn't be able to wait to eat until he got home, so I decided to make a salad to hold me over. I had a recipe for a blue cheese vinaigrette that I tried and it was horrible! So I searched online (my favorite recipe source!) and found this on It was tangy and creamy...a perfect blue cheese. I really need to make more homemade salad dressings.

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

2 1/2 ounces blue cheese
3 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mash blue cheese and buttermilk together with a fork. Stir in sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and garlic powder until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The "Ultimate" Beef Stew

I haven't had my camera in over a week because I left it in Tallahassee when Chad and I went up to watch the Seminoles play, so I didn't get to update with all my cooking last week. Kelli and Pat came to visit this past weekend to go with us to see Rascal Flatts, and she brought it back to now I can post this week's recipes!

Fall has finally hit Tampa, which means the temp has gone below 85. It was actually a little chilly this weekend and Chad requested beef stew. I searched online for a recipe, and found one from Tyler Florence that looked pretty good. After reading the reviews, I modified it a bit to come up with this. Although I think it is still a bit too hot to eat stew (we had to turn the air down while we were eating it because we got so hot!), this was DELICIOUS! We both just loved it, and I will definitely make it again this winter.

Beef Stew

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces (this cut is also called chuck shoulder pot roast and chuck roast boneless)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups good quality dry red wine (I used Yellow Tail Shiraz)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 bay leaves
4 cups cups beef stock
9 small red potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
7 tablespoons brown gravy mix, mixed with water to make a thick slurry
2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
1 pound baby bella mushrooms, cut in 1/2
1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh

Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.

While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.

Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all the browned bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, potatoes, carrots, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 hours add gravy mix, pearl onions and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper and remove the bay leaves.

Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits

These are so easy and taste just like the Red Lobster biscuits. They were a great compliment to the stew.

Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits

2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350. Mix Bisquick, milk and cheese together, and drop by the spoonful on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Mix butter and garlic, and brush over the top of the biscuits.