rosemary sriracha chicken thighs, skillet corn
braised short ribs in tomato sauce, polenta
baked chipotle ranch chicken taquitos, black beans
vodka pasta, salad
pork tenderloin cooked in milk, mashed potatoes, green beans
Mongolian beef, white rice, broccoli
crispy chicken salad with avocado ranch

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Tomatoes
I have been making this appetizer for years. I think I made it for the first dinner party I ever hosted, which occurred back in 1999 while I was still in college. I had just moved into a downtown loft and I was so excited to have a few friends over for baked ziti. My love for entertaining hasn't waned and I have served these quite a few times over the years.  The tomatoes and basil were fresh from my mom's garden.  Sometimes I will through the bruschetta under the broiler for a minute or two before serving to melt the cheese a little, but they taste great warm or cold.  I have also added a splash of balsamic to add a little kick.
Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

1 large bunch of basil (about 1/8 pound), coarse stems discarded
½ pound mozzarella, chopped fine
2 tomatoes (½ pound total), seeded and chopped fine
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 baguette, cut diagonally into ½ inch slices
1 garlic clove, halved

Chop the basil fine and in a bowl stir it together with the mozzarella, the tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste, toss with half of the olive oil. Brush the baguette slices with the remaining olive oil and rub each with the garlic clove half. Lay the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil for 2 to 3 minutes, until just starting to brown. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the oiled sides of the toasts and serve.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Baked Penne with Corn, Zucchini and Basil

Baked Penne with Corn, Zucchini and Basil
I am always looking for new ways to prepare zucchini. It is so bountiful in the summer and one can only eat so much zucchini bread, I can even get tired of chocolate zucchini bread, though Miss F would disagree completely. This recipe is perfect for a dinner party. The casserole can be assembled in advance and then just baked once the guests arrived. Be sure to use fresh summer corn, it really makes a big difference.  This recipe is adapted from Williams-Sonoma.  It makes a huge pan, so cut the recipe in half and bake in an 8x8 for a usual dinner.
Baked Penne with Corn, Zucchini and Basil

Kosher salt, to taste
1 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kernels cut from 4 ears of corn
2 pounds zucchini, cut into half moons
½ yellow onion, diced
4 tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Boil the penne for 8 to 10 minutes, drain and run under cold water. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels, salt and pepper to taste and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, until just tender. Stir the corn in with the penne. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, then saute the zucchini for 5 to 7 minutes, until just tender. Stir the zucchini in with the penne. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, reduce heat to medium-low and saute the onion for 3 to 5 minutes, until translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and white wine, cook for 3 minutes more.

Stir the tomato sauce and basil into the penne, along with the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan. Pour the pasta mixture into a glass 9x13 dish. Top with the remaining parmesan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve warm.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shrimp Scampi Bites

Shrimp Scampi Bites
I love serving shrimp as an appetizer at parties. They cook up quickly and are usually a crowd pleaser. I decided to take traditional shrimp scampi and adapt it to make an appetizer. All that is really needed for the conversion is a toothpick inserted into each shrimp. I harvested fresh parsley from my mom's garden, her garden provided so much for my dinner party.  I peeled the shrimp, but left the tail on, but you could peel the entire shrimp if you prefer. 
Shrimp Scampi Bites

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup butter, melted
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
juice from one large lemon or two small lemons
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the shrimp in a single layer in a glass baking dish. Stir together the butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss the shrimp with the butter mixture. Bake for 5 minutes, remove from the oven, flip the shrimp and pour the lemon juice and half of the parsley over top. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes more, top with the remaining parsley and serve with toothpicks.
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