Beef Wellington

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I decided to go all out for Valentine’s Day for my fiance. I found filet on sale at my local grocery store, so I bought a couple. I decided to go beyond grilled filet and make this recipe that I’ve been drooling over in my Google Reader. Thanks to Annie’s Eats for this simpler version of Beef Wellington.

Beef Wellington
Source: Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

  • 2 (6-oz.) thickly cut filet mignons
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. minced shallots
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 8-10 oz. button mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 2 ½ tbsp. dry white wine
  • 1-2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (enough for two 7-inch squares)
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tsp. water for egg wash

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Season both sides of each filet with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the filets and sear for 1 minute on each side for medium-rare. (I ended up doing 4 minutes on each side for medium well) Transfer to a plate to cool completely.
  3. While the filets cool, prepare the mushroom duxelles. Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and reduce the heat to medium; cook, stirring, until all the liquid had evaporated and the mushrooms begin to caramelize, about 12 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring to deglaze the pan, until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and let cool before using.
  4. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut into two 7-inch squares. Spread up to half of the mushroom duxelles on top of each filet. Place each filet, mushroom side down, in the center of a puff pastry square. Using a pastry brush, paint the inside edges of the puff pastry with the egg wash. Fold the pastry over the filet as though wrapping a package and press the edges to seal. Place the packages seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. (I didn’t wrap it around the bottom of the filet b/c I thought it would result in soggy puff pastry.) Brush the egg wash over the tops and sides of each package and bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Rosemary Garlic Chicken and Glazed Carrots

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I got these recipes in an email from Real Simple magazine. When I saw them, I thought they looked very healthy and tasty, so I saved the recipes and made them! The chicken was very flavorful and I think it would be wonderful in a salad, too! The carrots tasted very good and were the PERFECT compliment to the chicken!

Rosemary Garlic Chicken
Source: Real Simple

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions:

  1.  Using a rolling pin, pound the chicken between 2 sheets of wax paper until they are of uniform thickness.
  2. Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers and the garlic browns. (Don’t burn the garlic.) Add the chicken breasts and cook until golden, 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
  3. Add the salt, pepper, vinegar, chicken broth, and rosemary. (When you add vinegar, face away from the pan, otherwise, the vinegar will clear your sinus, seriously!)
  4. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 3 minutes longer or until the chicken is fork-tender. Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Increase heat to high and boil the sauce until thickened or syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter and pour the sauce over the chicken.

Yield: 4 servings

POINTS*: 5

Glazed Carrots
Source: Real Simple

Ingredients:

  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch sticks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Place the carrots in a large skillet. Dot with the butter and sprinkle with the sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  2. Add enough cold water to come halfway up the sides of the carrots. Simmer, partially covered, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 20 minutes. (If the carrots are done before this point, transfer them to a bowl, increase heat to high, and cook the liquid, uncovered, until reduced. Return the carrots to the pan and toss.)

Yield: Makes 6 servings
POINTS*: 1

Spicy Meatballs & Spaghetti

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Here’s another recipe from Ellie Krieger, out of the book, The Food You Crave. This was REALLY good. We ended up saving the leftover meatballs and sauce to make whole wheat meatball poboys another night. In fact, I found the sauce to be way better as leftovers, since the flavors developed more!

Spicy Meatballs and Spaghetti
Source: Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, liquid included
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced canned chipotle chiles en adobo and sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

For the meatballs:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 1 slice fresh whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, pulsed into crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup finely grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 box (16 ounces) whole-wheat spaghetti

Directions

  • Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil for pasta.

For the sauce:

  • In a 4-quart saucepan heat the oil over medium heat.
  • Saute the onions until translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Add tomato paste, tomatoes, chipotles, oregano, rosemary, and salt. Bring all the ingredients to a low boil, reduce heat and cook for approximately 15 minutes, until liquid has evaporated slightly.
    Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • While sauce is cooking, make meatballs.

Meatball Directions:

  • Preheat the broiler. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine the turkey with all other ingredients in a large work bowl.
  • Form into 2 1/2 -inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Broil for 10 minutes, or until browned and almost entirely cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, remove rosemary sprig from sauce and add fresh basil. Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and cook additional 10 minutes, or until sauce has slightly thickened and meatballs have
    absorbed some of the sauce.
  • While the meatballs are cooking, cook the
    whole-wheat spaghetti according to package directions.
  • Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and meatballs, toss and heat through over medium heat. Divide evenly among 4 pasta bowls and garnish with parsley and 1 tablespoon grated
    Parmesan.

Yield: 6 servings (1 serving equals about 1 1/3 cups pasta and sauce, plus 2 meatballs

POINTS*: 7

Crispy Oven Fried Fish Fillets

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My fiance decided to surprise me with a healthy meal one night and cooked this wonderful fish recipe that he found online. I LOVED the way this fish came out, and I hope he wants to make it again sometime soon!!

Crispy Oven Fried Fish Fillets
Source: Campbell’s

Ingredients

  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 lb. firm white fish fillet, cut into 4 pieces (he used Louisiana catfish)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Pepperidge Farm® Zesty Italian Croutons, crushed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray.
  2. Dip fish into milk. Coat with flour and then dip in milk. Coat with crushed croutons.
  3. Place fish on baking sheet. Spray fish with vegetable cooking spray. Bake for 10 min. or until fish is done. Serve with tartar sauce.

Garlic Fries

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This was a side dish to the oven fried chicken, and another Ellie recipe. OMG…these were fabulous! A little tedious to cut the potatoes into sticks, but wow, super super good!!

Garlic Fries
Source: Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 large baking potatoes, 12 ounces each
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Heat the garlic and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Strain the garlic from the oil with a small mesh strainer. Set both garlic and oil aside.
  3. Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks. In a large bowl, toss the oil, potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the potatoes onto it in a single layer. Bake until golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.
  4. Remove potatoes from the tray with a metal spatula. Toss with parsley, reserved garlic, and additional salt, to taste. Serve immediately.

Oven Fried Chicken

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My fiance and I are currently changing our lifestyle around to less eating out and more healthy cooking. I recently made this chicken from Food Network’s website that encouraged me to buy Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave”.

This chicken was pretty darn tasty!! :) Here’s the recipe!

Oven Fried Chicken
Source: Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 1/2 sleeve (about 20) whole-grain salted crackers, pulsed in a food processor until fine (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 1/2 cups corn cereal flakes, pulsed in a food processor to fine crumbs (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup lowfat, plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 medium sized skinless chicken breasts and 4 skinless chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry (about 3 1/2 pounds chicken)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil.
  2. Combine the crackers and corn cereal crumbs, sesame seeds, cayenne, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Reserve.
  3. In a large bowl, combine egg whites, yogurt, Dijon mustard, and salt. Add the chicken pieces and coat thoroughly with the yogurt mixture.
  4. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces in the cracker mixture, packing crumbs onto chicken. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet and spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
  5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife.

Cuccidati (Italian Fig Cookies)

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(Yeah, those are Christmas sprinkles. I was too lazy to go get regular nonpareils!!)

These are my ultimate childhood memory. I love these cookies more than words can say, and I heavily depended on one bakery to give me these cookies 364 days/year.  The other day, March 19, I could depend on a St. Joseph’s altar for these tasty treats. My dad is half Sicilian, so of course, he got me stuck on italian cookies early on.

I decided around Christmas to look up this recipe, because I wanted a challenge in baking. If it didn’t work out, I still had my trusty Italian bakery. If it did, though, there would definitely be a mini-baking victory in order! Let’s just say  there’s a mini-baking victory in order! These cookies came out JUST like the ones I know to love!

Cuccidati
Source: Gourmet through Epicurious

Ingredients

For filling

  • 1 cup packed soft dried Mission figs (8 oz), hard tips discarded
  • 3/4 cup raisins (3 3/4 oz)
  • 3/4 cup mild honey
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (used Meyer Lemon zest)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (for next time, this will be omitted.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds (4 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (3 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped
    **For the nuts, I toasted and food processed them into a powder, since I never noticed nuts in cuccidati filling before.**

For pastry dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange or lemon zest

For icing
(didn’t use this for the recipe. The cuccidati that I’ve eaten have only had nonpareils on them.)

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • Garnish: multicolored nonpareils

Directions:

Make filling:

  • Pulse figs and raisins (and nuts) in a food processor until finely chopped, then stir together with remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

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Look at those pretty dried figs.

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Fig filling. Mmm…

Make dough:

  • Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and zest and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms. Halve dough and gather each half into a ball, then flatten each half into a rough 6- by 4-inch rectangle between sheets of plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 8 hours.

Form cookies:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Roll out 1 rectangle of dough (keep remaining dough chilled) into a 15- by 14-inch rectangle on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Trim to a 13- by 10-inch rectangle (chill trimmings), then cut into 4 (10- by 3 1/4-inch) strips. Arrange 1/3 cup filling in a 1-inch-wide log lengthwise down center of each strip, then fold sides of each strip up over filling to enclose it, pinching edges together to seal. Turn rolls seam-sides down and press gently to flatten seams. Cut logs crosswise with a floured knife into 1 1/2-inch-wide slices and arrange 1/2 inch apart on buttered large baking sheets. Make more cookies in same manner with remaining chilled dough, trimmings (reroll once), and filling.

**Just a note. This dough becomes very sticky when room temperature. So roll this dough out as quickly as possible. I did this between wax paper sheets, flipping the dough often. **

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Adding fillingimg_7277
Rolling dough
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Slicing cookies

  • Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until golden around edges, 16 to 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool until warm, about 10 minutes. Make icing while cookies bake.
  • Whisk together confectioners sugar, vanilla, and enough orange juice to make a pourable icing.
  • Brush icing on warm cookies and decorate with nonpareils (if using), then cool completely.

Notes:

• Filling can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered.

• Dough can be chilled, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, up to 3 days.

• Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

I’m submitting this post to this month’s Tasty Tools events from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures! Go check out her blog for other fun challenges!!

Foodie Christmas Presents!!

This Christmas, I decided to give a bunch of homemade presents. I love the thought of gifting something that is homemade. It feels more personal, and who hates food?

For some family members, I gave spice baskets with homemade vanilla extract and sugar. For the extract, I found very reasonably priced bottles (that you didn’t have to buy in bulk or pay a TON for shipping, since they were glass) at American Spice Company, and I simply used mason jars for the vanilla sugar. To give it a cuter touch, I purchased label sheets at Office Depot and designed the labels for them myself. Check them out!

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I also made some homemade peppermint bark to put in the baskets. This is very simple…just place some parchment on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in melted semi-sweet or milk chocolate. Pour melted white chocolate on top (and swirl a little, if you’d like). Then, before the chocolate hardens, sprinkle crushed candy canes on top. Once everything hardens, break the bark off into large chunks and place in bags.

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I thought that my family would enjoy some spice mixes, and I decided to give them our favorites from Penzeys: Northwood seasoning and BBQ 3000.

As for our coworkers, I baked sugar cookies using this recipe. I would say this book is a definite read for anyone who is interested in learning to decorate cookies! I adapted it to add almond extract, in addition to the vanilla extract and lemon rind called for in the recipe. It gave the cookies more of a sugar cookie flavor and less of a butter cookie flavor. This was the first homemade sugar cookie recipe that my fiance loved too! I FINALLY ended the search for the perfect recipe! :)

This recipe barely spread, allowing the cookies to keep their great crisp shape. It also rolled VERY easily. I never had a sticking problem, which is something I experienced with some previous recipes.

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To show how well they hold their shape, the cookies on the left are not cooked, while the ones on right are cooked.

I also made candy bark coated pretzels with Christmas M&Ms on top. This was a SUPER easy recipe. Just melt candy melts or bark, spoon into the middle of the store bought pretzels (laid out on wax or parchment paper) and top with 3 M&M’s.
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Last, but not least, I made the infamous Oreo Truffles. To make more, I used 1/2 tsp. as a measuring tool for how big the truffles should be. These made a more decent sized truffle, and I made about 80 with the recipe this time.

Then, I put each treat in holiday cellophane bags, as pictured.

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These went in cute little holiday take-out boxes that I found at Michael’s for $1 each. I absolutely love how these all came out! They were also well-received, so I’m definitely going to keep making edible gifts for future holidays!
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Chocolate Shot Cookies

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The What’s Cooking board recently had a Holiday Treat recipe exchange. Thanks so much to Tara from Smells Like Home for organizing this!! I submitted the cranberry white chocolate pistachio biscotti I recently made, and received this interesting recipe for Chocolate Shot cookies.

The original submitter, The Milkman’s Wife of Milk & Honey mentioned that while these cookies don’t seem like much, they are amazing. I was really surprised! These are thin little cookies with a nice crunch and taste to them. You can’t even tell there is oatmeal in them!!

Chocolate Shot Cookies
Source: The Milkman’s Wife’s mom, Nadine M.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup uncooked oatmeal (rolled oats or quick oats – whichever you prefer)
  • Chocolate sprinkles for rolling

Directions:

  1. With electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar, beating until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  2. Stir together the flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beat until combined. Stir in oatmeal and mix well. Chill dough for a half hour. Shape dough into log and roll in chocolate sprinkles. (so that when you slice the cookies you have a border of chocolate sprinkles around the edges of every cookie)
  3. Slice cookies about ¼ inch thick and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

DIY Recipe Cards

Recently, I forked out the ever famous Gocco machine to make our wedding invitations. Since the What’s Cooking board had a holiday gift exchange, I thought it would be fun to Gocco recipe cards for my Elfster. She said she likes cupcakes, so I Gocco’ed these recipe cards on Stardreams Opal paper with red ink for the holidays. I hope she enjoys them as much as I enjoyed making them!! Her name is blurred out since she hasn’t gotten her package yet!

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I love my Gocco. If only they didn’t discontinue the machine and supplies. :( Sadly after my wedding fun, I’ll be selling my Gocco. I can’t compete with rising prices of screens, bulbs and ink, unfortunately.