Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sunday Dinner: Peach Sauce and Risotto.

So these things don't really go together, but Jenna requested the risotto and Bryan saw this peach sauce on Man Vs. Food the other day, so what the heck!

I happen to have a risotto recipe in one of the Giada De Laurentiis cookbooks I have.  It's one of those recipes that once you make the basic form, you can literally add anything to it and it only gets better.  While risotto takes a little time to make, it really is easy.  Here's the recipe I used.  I kept the add-ons simple and just used some fresh herbs.

Giada's basic Risotto:
4 cups chicken broth
3 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parm
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Few sage leaves, or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand

In a medium saucepan,bring the broth to a simmer. Cover and keep hot over low heat. In a large saucepan melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium. Add onion and sauté until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, 3 min. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and still until almost completely absorbed, 2 min. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the net, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parm cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter and salt and better.  As mentioned I also stirred is a bunch of fresh cut herbs at this point.  Fab!
The chicken was slightly trickier because they don't give an exact recipe on Man Vs. Food. So, by watching closely and using some general knowledge of making BBQ sauce, I winged it.  Here's the general recipe, but please note that I am NOT a measurer.  A little of this and a little of that, is my cooking method.  Then add a little more until it tastes right.  This sauce is fabulous.  I would be great for wings or pork chops.  And as an added bonus, it tastes great as a salsa with tortilla chips!

Coat a bone-in cut up chicken with olive oil, paprika, thyme and salt and pepper. The amounts aren't important,just make sure you have enough salt to flavor the chicken.  It will be a bright reddish-orange mixture.  Grill on medium high until juices run clear.

Peach Sauce:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 small cans tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. molasses
1Tbsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large cans of peaches in syrup
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. thyme
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large skillet or heavy pot soften onion celery and bell pepper in olive oil over medium heat.  Season with thyme, salt and pepper.  Add tomato sauce, brown sugar, molasses and Worcestershire sauce.  Taste. (It should taste a bit like BBQ sauce.   Like it sweeter?  Add more brown sugar.  Like it more tangy?  Add more Worcestershire or a splash of extra vinegar.) Season with salt and pepper. Let sauce bubble for a couple minutes over medium heat.

With a food processor, blender or immersion blender puree the sauce.  Add can of peaches, with syrup and puree again.  Pour back in pot.

Add bay leaves and simmer for 5 minutes.  Taste and season.  Serve over chicken!

Dessert was one of those afterthoughts that came about with whatever we had in the house at the time.  After a quick internet search, we came up with Fruit Nachos! 

Here's how we made them!

Fruit Nachos:
2 cups fresh or frozen fruit, thawed and chopped
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tub whipped topping, like Cool Whip
1 individual serving of yogurt, any flavor is fine
chocolate (white, milk or dark)
flour tortillas
melted butter
2 more Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

For the fruit topping:
Mix fruit and sugar.  Allow to macerate.

For the whipped topping:
Mix whipped topping and yogurt.  Add honey to taste.

For the chips:
Cut each tortilla into 8 equal sections.  Mix butte with cinnamon and sugar.  Spread butter mixture over tortillas on both sides.  Place in a single layer on cookie sheets and bake at 400° until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Place chips on a platter, top with yogurt mixture and fruit.  Shave chocolate over the top.  Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sunday Dinner, Thailand.

Even though my sissy was reluctant about eating curry, the fam took a trip to Thailand.  Although we did have a big shopping trip in the spice aisle for things like tumeric and fish sauce... it was worth it!  Another fabulous weekend din din.

Here's the recipes:

Fish Curry (We added noodles and it could have used a bowl)

Asian Cabbage Slaw (Great for a picnic)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Dinner, Panini-Fest.

Another round of Sunday Dinner in the books.  And while the traditional Easter meal involves ham and most likely cheesy potatoes, today's grub at the Betker household was paninis!
Served rustic-style...
My sister has a recipe book devoted to only panins that was looking pretty, but feeling unused sitting on the kitchen counter. So we each picked a sammy and then we made them all!  Of course we made multiples and everyone got a taste of everything.  And to balance all the carbs found in ciabatta bread, a romaine salad with mandarin oranges, almonds and poppyseed dressing.  Wash it all down with some Sauvignon Blanc, and everything works out perfectly. :)
Italian Tuna with Avocado, Mozzarella and Artichokes
Here's a list of the sandwiches we made:
  • Ham, Brie and Apple (Everyone's Favorite)
  • BBQ Chicken with Blue Cheese and Celery
  • Goat Cheese with Cherry Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar
  • Italian Tuna with Avocado, Mozzarella and Artichokes
  • Goat Cheese and Raspberry Sauce
  • Turkey with Blue Cheese and Cranberry-Orange Relish
Left: Turkey with Blue Cheese and Cranberry-Orange Relish
Right: Ham, Brie and Apple

Friday, April 6, 2012

Planning the Garden.

The garden has been tilled (thanks to Bryan) and I can't wait to start planting in it.  Now that we've moved into April ,some early cool season crops are ready.  For example, it won't be long before I plant some kohlrabi, cabbage and onions.

I always like to plan my garden to take in account companion planting and space before putting anything in the ground.  Golden Harvest Organics puts out a great website on companion planting with an itemized list plant by plant. 

This year, I'm using a website tool that is new to me, which helps gardeners plan their gardens right from the start!  It's from Smart Gardener, Inc. and even has a calendar feature that keeps you on track with planting and upkeep schedules throughout the season.  You enter your zip code and it can tell you which plants will work best in your area.  It does take a few minutes to get started, but I think it will come in handy especially early in the season. 

I moved things around just a bit for even spacing, but here's what my virtual garden turned out looking like:
I'm so excited to get started I can hardly wait!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

DIY Fashion, The Pleated Wrap Skirt

My attempt at making my own clothes has begun.  I made this skirt a few months ago and today it made its on-air debut. 

I'll be honest, this probably wasn't the best choice for a beginner, but with a little help from Mom it turned out great.  The pleats take some patience but are so worth it... I think.

I'm so loving all the blogs of designers that post how-to's.  I'm completely taking advantage of their great skills in explaining and pattern making.  The best part is that you can alter many of then for shorter or longer lengths to custom design them for your own look. Here's the link to the blog that inspired my outfit today!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Dinner, Carnitas.

My brother-in-law said he felt like we were sitting in Mexico while eating this week's Sunday Dinner. The rest of us agreed.

I've made this recipe once before, a long time ago, and I don't know why I don't do it more often. Carnitas.

The recipe for these pork tacos is from a Martha Stewart publication, Everyday Food. It's a great monthly magazine that is ALWAYS stocked with great recipes. We supplemented with a Paula Dean Southwestern Salad that was so refreshing.

It's always a good thing when a recipe includes avocado. And in this case... Both the salad and the main dish have some!

Here's our recipes this week: