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Baked Kale Chips

Kale is something that is relatively new to me.  I know that I've had it once before while visiting some family out of state, but aside from that, I don't think I've ever cooked with it.  After deciding that we'd be making fish for dinner on Friday, we knew we needed a side dish.  Joel immediately knew he wanted to try his hand at making kale chips.  Except, he went out for happy hour and left me to do it myself.  I googled "kale chips" and saw this Smitten Kitchen recipe.  I chose to use this one because Deb has never steered me in the wrong direction in the past!  These were such a great alternative to the chips part of "fish and chips"!

1 bunch (6 ounces) Kale
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Sea Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste (I added)
Garlic Powder, to taste (I added)

Rinse and dry the kale and remove the stems and tough ribs.  Cut into large pieces and place in a bowl.  Toss the kale with the oil and seasonings.  Arrange the kale leaves in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet (or 2).  Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until crisp.


Chicken with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce

When I saw this recipe show up from Pink Parsley, originally from July 2011 Bon Appetit, I flagged it with the hopes of making it soon.  I wasn't sure if it would be too heavy of a recipe to make for the summer, but I didn't want to pass up the chance to use garden fresh tomatoes, so I added it to the menu for this week.  And am I glad that I did!  Just like Josie mentioned, I also chose to serve this dish over a creamy polenta, which I made with goat cheese.  If you have an abundance of tomatoes from your garden, I highly recommend that you make this dish!

2 tablespoons Butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons Flour
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (I used chicken tenderloins)
2 teaspoons Olive Oil
2 cups Cherry Tomatoes (I used roma tomatoes from the garden, which I diced)
1 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons Fresh Basil, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Fresh Oregano, chopped 
1 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, garlic, dried oregano, and paprika.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, or as low as possible.  Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Measure the flour onto a plate.  Working with one chicken breast at a time, press both sides into the flour.  Shake gently to remove excess flour and repeat with the remaining chicken breast.  In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of oregano butter with the oil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium when the butter stops foaming.  Add the chicken into the skillet and sauté until browned on one side, about 4 minutes.  Flip the chicken and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (165-170 degrees on an instant read thermometer).  Transfer the chicken to an oven safe pan and keep warm while prepping the sauce.  Meanwhile, increase the heat to high and add tomatoes to the skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to char and burst, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining butter and balsamic vinegar.  Crush the tomatoes slightly to release their juices and continue stirring until the butter has melted.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen the browned bits.  Stir in the fresh oregano, basil, and parsley.  Remove the chicken from the oven and add any juices that may have accumulated.  Slice the chicken and top with the tomato sauce.


Grilled Peach and Avocado Salad

Wednesday was sailing night.  This week, rather than making something for me that Joel doesn't like, I decided to wait for him to come home so that we could eat together, even though it was late (9:30).  Because it was so late, I chose to make this salad which I found here at Baked Bree.  This salad was quite delicious and we absolutely loved it.  The dressing was so simple and thick.  It reminded me of a honey mustard sauce.  I would love to make it again as a dipping sauce to go along with chicken.

3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 tablespoons Honey
1 Garlic Clove, minced
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Olive Oil
3 cups Baby Arugula
1 cup Basil Leaves
1 cup Flat Leaf Parsley
4 Peaches
1 Avocado
1/2 cup Mozzarella Pearls

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Steam in the olive oil while whisking and set aside.  In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, basil, and parsley.  Add the mozzarella and put in the fridge.  Preheat your grill to medium heat.  Cut the peaches and avocado in half and remove the pits.  Brush the tops of each half with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.  Place the peaches and avocado flesh side down on the grill.  Grill for a few minutes so that the flesh has grill lines but the fruit is still on the firm side.  Slice the peaches and avocado and add to the salad bowl.  Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss lightly.  Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.


Baked Rosemary Potato Chips

We had BLTs for dinner tonight and I wanted to make a simple side to go with them.  French fries were the first thing to come to mind, but since we just had them last week, I decided to tweak that idea a bit and make them into chips instead.  I decided on this flavor combination because we had rosemary in our garden that we haven't used yet, so it was the perfect way to not let it go to waste.  Feel free to change up the flavor combination to suit your taste.

2 medium Potatoes
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 tablespoon Rosemary, chopped
Sprinkle of Mrs. Dash's Salt Free Garlic & Herb, optional

Using a mandolin (or a knife), thinly slice the potatoes.  Place the potato slices in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Toss to combine.  Line 2 cookie sheets with tinfoil and place the potato slices on the pan so that they do not overlap.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Flip the slices and bake for another 15 minutes, or until they become golden brown and slightly crispy.  Remove the potatoes from the oven and sprinkle with the garlic and herb spice, if desired.


My Brother's Wedding Cake


As I've mentioned a few times in the past, when my brother got engaged, he and his fiancé (now my sister-in-law...yay!) asked me if I would make their wedding cake.  After preparing for almost a year by taking the Wilton cake decorating classes (which I found very helpful!) and making cakes for anything I could, just for the practice, the big day finally arrived.  This past Saturday was their wedding day!  Despite the forecast calling for thunderstorms, the day could not have been more gorgeous!  The ceremony was beautiful and we had a blast at the reception.  There were approximately 115 guests, so to make enough slices to feed everybody, I made a 12 inch round and two 14 inch rounds.  The top tier, which was a 10 inch round, will be frozen and saved for their first anniversary.

*Edited on 8/14/12 to add: My brother texted me last night to say that he and my sister-in-law ate the top tier of their wedding cake for their first anniversary, and that it tasted just as good as it did one year ago! Woo! Success! 

For the extra 14-inch round in the back, I used a double batch of the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake, which I torted, filled with a cream cheese filling (purchased from a bake shop), and topped with homemade buttercream frosting (Wilton's recipe).

For the 3 tiers of wedding cake, I used 5 batches of Bridget's white cake from The Way The Cookie Crumbles.  I torted the three cakes, filled them with a raspberry filling (also purchased from a bake shop), topped with a thin layer of buttercream frosting, and covered in white fondant (Satin Ice vanilla).

2 1/4 cups Cake Flour (9 ounces)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons Whole Milk, at room temperature
6 Egg Whites, at room temperature (3/4 cup)
2 teaspoons Almond Extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons Sugar (11.35 ounces)
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
12 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened but still cool (1 1/2 sticks)

Pour the milk, egg whites, and extracts into a 2-cup glass measuring cup and whisk until blended.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt at slow speed.  Add the butter and continue beating at slow speed until the mixture resembles moist crumbs with no powdery streaks remaining.  Add all but 1/2 up of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.  Return the mixer to medium speed and beat for 20 seconds longer.  Divide the batter evenly between two 9-inch round pans that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Using a rubber spatula, spread the batter to the pan walls and smooth the tops.  Arrange the pans at least 3 inches from the one walls and 3 inches apart.  Bake at 350 degrees for 23-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cakes rest in the pans for 3 minutes.  Loosen from the sides of pans with a knife and invert onto wire racks.  Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.