Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 28, 2013 - More Steak!

Good morning, everyone!  I'm sorry for the late post, but it's been a long few days and I just finally have a few minutes to share our lovely meal with you all.  We do a lot of steak, I know.  And I'm running out of quirky fun titles for the menu, but who cares?  I mean, come on, it's steak!  So Stew's had some lovely NY Strips on sale this week and we took advantage!

Cocktail - Spiked Black Cherry Lemonade

I'm in love.  Jennifer hit a home run on this one, and it is so simple!  Pureed black cherries, bourbon, lemonade, and a splash of Polar Seltzer Black Cherry.  Sooooo smooth, so tart but sweet - the ideal summer cocktail!

Appetizer - Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pancetta, Dried Cherries, and Port Dressing

Smooth goat cheese, crisp lettuce, tangy cherries, crunchy bacon, and a port wine dressing?  How could you possibly go wrong with this recipe?  Well, let me tell you - you simply can't!

Entree - Cocoa Rubbed Steak with Whiskey-Bacon Sauce

Your taste buds will SING.  This was incredible.  The rub gave a nice flavor to the steak (which we grilled, by the way) and the sauce is soooo decadent.  The recipe calls for chicken broth, which I initially laughed at... I mean who would put chicken broth in a sauce meant for steak?  Well, joke is on me.  Because after thinking I knew better than Guy Fieri, I realized that I only had chicken broth in the house and not beef.  So, we followed the instructions, and it was simply fabulous.  We had it over some simple mashed potatoes with a side of garlic bread that John and Jenn brought back from their dinner the previous night at "Salut" in Hartford.  Decadent, delicious, I just gained five pounds in one meal.

Entree Wine - 2008 Portugal Callabriga Dao

Smoky and with great scents of licorice, tar, and tobacco, we were unsure of this one.  It's been sitting in the stockpile for a while, so we figured what the hell.  It was great!  It didn't need any sweet berries or anything, because it was pairing with the smoky goodness of the rub and the bacon-laced sauce.  Lovely wine!

Dessert - Salty Caramel Panna Cotta

Okay... this is what the dessert is SUPPOSED to look like.

This is what ours looked liked:

Epic fail on my end.  (Except for Jennifer's lovely garnishments.)  I don't know what I did wrong.  The caramel sauce was very dark and it immediately turned the custardy part of the panna cotta into a mocha looking thing.  And I don't think I let the ganache cool long enough because as soon as I poured in the panna cotta, it mixed together.  Taste - just ok.  Tasted like coffee, in my opinion.  However, Jennifer's sister likes to cook at her house on Sundays and follows our recipes, and hers is the picture above.  She said it was the best dessert ever.  Therefore, I'm going to say try this recipe, just if it turns out looking like the one in my picture - I'm sorry.

So there you go!  Another lovely steakhouse meal.  Next week, we celebrate Cinco de Mayo again, but we're going to change it up.  We could make it easy and do fish tacos again or something like that... but nope!  We're going to go a little outside the box, but keep all the fabulous flavors of the Cinco de Mayo intact.  Stay tuned!

Next Week - Cinco de Mayo 2.0 

Monday, April 22, 2013

We've Created A Second Blog!!!

Hey there, followers!
By popular demand, we've created a second blog for your enjoyment!
This blog is dedicated to all things random, but specifically to what we do with our Sunday leftovers, random weekday meals, some artsy stuff, and all things that we deem fun to write about.  Much less formal that our CS blog, and with no specific posting schedule, this is our fun way to be a little silly and have a lot of fun!  It's still in it's early stages, so bear with us!

April 21, 2013 - Tuna

Good Morning!!!  First and foremost, I'd like to welcome Australia to the group!  It's been over a year, but we finally got our first hit from that continent, so all that is left is Antarctica!  (I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.)
Anyways, let's talk food.  Stew's had some fabulous Tuna on sale this week, so we went looking for a nice and light meal bursting with flavors for this super fish.  We ended up finding lots of recipes that also included passion fruit, so we combined the two to make a tuna and passion fruit themed meal.  Enjoy!
Cocktail - Passion Fruit Sake-Tini
I love sake-tinis.  There is no doubt it is one of our favorites, and trust me, you'll continue to see them.  This was super easy.  Black and gold sake, vodka, passion fruit puree.  Delicious!
Appetizer - Avocado and Mango Salad with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette
Yes, it was as good as it looks!  This would also make a fabulous entrée meal with some grilled shrimp or calamari!  Also, it is simply easy to make.  You can find passion fruit puree in the regular frozen juice section of your grocery.  Welch's makes it.  The coriander in the dressing gives it a nice kick, and matches so nicely with the creaminess of the avocado and the crunch of the mango.
Entrée - Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime
Another fantastic dish!  And could it get any easier?  The longest thing to cook was the jasmine rice and the slicing of the avocados.  This sauce is a lot of fun.  It has a ton of cilantro, but we are cilantro fans, and the ginger and garlic really bring out great flavor.  The only word of warning is to watch the jalapeno.  We cut down to only one, and we found some bites to be rather spicy.  (But then we are such heat wimps.)  Overall, a great meal!
Entrée Wine - 2008 Guy Saget Pouilly-Fume
A perfect wine to go with this meal!  This medium-bodied white had a delicate, lively, and fruity nose with great notes of citrus.  On the palate, there were lots of white flowers, but a great acidity that matched the fish so well.  Great drinking white!
Dessert - Passion Fruit Mousse
It's so easy, you almost think you're doing something wrong.  And how can something so easy taste so delicious?  We literally just dumped the three ingredients in a bowl, brought out the egg beaters, and then put in the fridge until ready to eat.  The perfect balance of sweet with the exotic flavor of passion fruit and the creamy texture of a mousse.  We're already thinking of what other flavors we can try making this in!  Also - we're thinking this would be great in some sort of parfait with fruits.  Or... if you really want to have fun - what about a black cherry mousse with kirsch-soaked German chocolate cake???  (I know you just went "ooohhh.")
So there you go.  Quite possibly the easiest and fastest meal we've ever made.  However, it was not skimping on flavor and it was absolutely fantastic!
Next Week - More Steak

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Sadly, we've come across another occasion where it would seem inappropriate to talk about food and booze without addressing another national tragedy.
On April 15, 2013, two young cowards executed an act of terror during the Boston Marathon, resulting in the deaths of 3 people and severely injuring over 180.  This act not only rocked the city, but rocked a nation.  While we all may joke about those Red Sox and Patriot fans up north, Boston is still our back yard and a city that plays a significant and beautiful role in American history.  We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and the injuries sustained by those victims.
In the face of tragedy, there are always shining moments.  For us, specifically, the first responders which not only included professionals, but fellow runners, those standing on the sidelines, and those who offered their homes and their hearts for those affected.  I wrote on Facebook that day "I'm deeply horrified by what happened... But find slight comfort from the actions of not just first responders but people who simply were nearby and put themselves on the line to help others."  I wanted to share a response that a friend had, that I think sums up perfectly what most of us feel:  "Ordinary people become immediate 1st responders when something like this happens... I hope I will never have to do what they did, but if I do, I hope I can do it as well as they did."
So on April 19, the city of Boston pretty much came to a standstill in what was the largest manhunt in US history.  And in the end... we got the motherf%#&kers.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 14, 2013 - Chicken Breast

Good Morning, All!  I hope everyone had a LOVELY weekend, as J, J & I absolutely did.  Nothing super was on sale this week, so we figured that it would be fun to change it up a little, and go the simple old chicken breast.  I know chicken breast is pretty much a staple in every household, but we don't often cook it, because we try to bring you all more "exotic" or "gourmet" types of menus.  So we figured that we'd take the chicken breast and try to fancy it up into a fabulous meal that anyone could make at home... and I'd like to think we were very successful!

Cocktail - Sour Appletini

Easy.  Pucker vodka, freshly pureed apple juice, and a little splash of Polar Seltzer Granny Smith Apple.  I would like to point out the Pucker vodka - we've never tried it before.  For those who love flavored martinis - it's great.  There was no need to add any extra flavoring... it had a fantastic apple taste!

Appetizer - Phyllo Cups with Goat Cheese, Apples, and Candied Walnuts

Guilty as charged.  This was definitely a "use up what's in the fridge" type of appetizer.  We used those pre-shaped phyllo cups that you can find in your freezer section.  Then filled them with a fabulous mixture of crumbled goat cheese, diced apples, and crushed hot candied walnuts.  We then threw them under the broiler for a minute and served.  Lovely bites of goat cheese goodness.

Entrée - Rosemary Chicken Breasts with Brown Butter Balsamic Ravioli and Spinach Salad with Pancetta-Shallot Vinaigrette

Isn't it pretty???  This was a fantastic meal!  Bursting with flavor and lots of great textures!  And the best part is - you probably have everything in your fridge already!  (And start to finish... approximately 30 minutes... she wasn't lying.)  Let's break it down....


The balsamic gives it a nice caramelized taste.  Cook time was spot on.  However, the cracked garlic really didn't do much for flavor, so I suggest seasoning with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  (Can you ever have too much garlic?)  Also - as a personal preference, I always find chicken breast rather dry.  I think a little balsamic reduction drizzled over would be divine.  However - great way to cook chicken!


We used a plain four cheese ravioli, although I'm sure a wild mushroom one would have been fabulous as well.  This was sooo simple.  We were able to cook the ravioli in advance and let them sit in the colander while we did the chicken and browned the butter.  Yes, the ravioli kind of stick to each other.  Once you have them in the pan with the butter, they'll come apart - just be patient.  And the balsamic turns slightly syrupy after a few minutes - so delicious!  (FYI - serving size seems off.  We only used a 9oz package of ravioli, and that easily could have fed 4 grown adults with large appetites.)


Love this spinach!  (It seems like every week we love the new greens recipe.)  Once we took the chicken off the skillet, we added the pancetta, then the shallots, then made the dressing.  We moved the final dressing to a bowl, and right before serving, added the spinach, allowing it to slightly wilt, but not go overboard.  This led to a sweet and savory spinach dish with some crunch and texture!

So here's how you're going to do it.  Marinate the chicken.  Get the ravioli water boiling.  Add chicken to skillet around the same time you boil the ravioli.  Take ravioli out, drain, and put on skillet with brown butter.  Let that brown while you take chicken out of skillet and put in oven to keep warm.  Add the shallots, pancetta, etc to skillet that you had chicken in.  Once butter is browned, add ravioli and cook through.  Once ravioli is done - plate ravioli, plate chicken, add spinach to the dressing you just made and plate that as well.  Voila.

Entrée Wine - Cloud Break Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
Okay, I forgot to take a picture.  This is one of the house wines of a local liquor warehouse called Total Wine.  (www.totalwines.com)  It's a really cool place.  It's about the size of a Wal-Mart and sells all booze.  Wow.  Anyways... John and Jennifer picked this up and you'll never guess that it was a $5 bottle of wine!  (We don't always have to be snobs, guys, I promise.)  It was super rich and buttery, with a heavy oak taste, and lots of vanilla and apple.  You need to be a Chardonnay drinker to enjoy the oakiness of this wine.  (And good thing I love Chardonnay!)  If you haven't checked this place out, I seriously recommend.
Dessert - Champagne Parfaits with Pears and Blackberries
Please ignore my Stella glass.  It was the only glass I had that slightly resembled a parfait dish.  And ignore the smear on the top.  And ignore that I couldn't layer it beautifully like most other food bloggers would have done.  It was good, but not our favorite.  First off, the custard is kind of rich and heavy.  (And oops... I used semi-dry champagne - so it was very sweet... even with brut champagne, I'd recommend less sugar.)  The pears didn't poach enough for my taste, but they worked nicely with the blackberries.  Overall... it was good, just not a "wow" dessert.  It would have been simpler to use the custard to make a crème brulee and top it with the pears and the blackberries. 
So there you go - a lovely meal that can be made on any weeknight!  And a new fabulous way to cook chicken breasts!  Not sure what we'll be doing next week - stay tuned!
Next Week - Tuna

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 7, 2013 - Southern Small Plates

Let's talk about an amazing meal!  John had his nephew and some friends visiting from Holland this week, so we wanted to create a meal that was something they wouldn't find back at home.  So we went back down South this week and created a Southern BBQ style meal in a small plate format.  (And not to be fancy, really just because there were sooo many things we wanted to try!)  Everyone had a spectacular time, and I hope you all enjoy...
Cocktail - Hard Strawberry Lemonade
Juiced strawberries, Stew Leonard's diet Lemonade (we cheated, sue us), and vodka.  Perfect cocktail for the warm weather!!!
For Snacking - Fried Dill Pickles
Yes, we've made these before, but they are just so good we had to do them again!  A couple changes this time.  Instead of pickle spears, we cut up whole pickles into bite size pieces.  Once again, we just took the batter ingredients and mixed it all up in 1 bowl, dunked the pickles and then fried.  We tried using the deep fryer, but the pickles stuck to the basket and it didn't work.  We switched over to a non-stick skillet with canola oil - perfection! 
Round One - Fried Stuffed Potato Bites
So you hollow out mini potatoes.  Then you FRY the potato shells until nice and crispy.  Take the potato insides and blend with cheese, bacon, chives, sour cream - whatever you like - and put back in the fried shell.  We then put on the grill until it browned.  So delicious!
Round One - Grilled Shrimp with Honey Ginger Barbecue Sauce
Definitely a favorite of the evening.  We made the sauce last night, and when you smelled it, it smelled super spicy.  (So spicy that I considered tossing it and making something else.)  However, once brushed on grilled shrimp, it mellowed out considerably and had a sweet tangy flavor.  The only recommendation I may give is to add more ginger.  I added a solid amount of ginger to the sauce, but it didn't really come through as much as I would have liked in the finished product.
Round One Final Plate
Round Two - Bourbon and Brown Sugar Pulled Pork Empanadas
Okay, so this is simple.  You stuff some empanada shells with pulled pork and fry.  But let's now talk about pulled pork.  First off... a good pulled pork would technically use a pork shoulder or pork butt for the fat.  All I had in the freezer was pork tenderloin - but end result is still just as good.  Some people throw it in the crock pot with the sauce and let it go all day - bad idea.  The fat from the pork just mixes with the sauce and its kind of sloppy.  What I like to do is cook the pork in the crock pot in beef broth.  Then I remove the pork, shred it in a bowl, clean out the crock pot, and return the pork to it with the sauce.  I mix it up, and then let it cook another hour or so until I'm ready to use it.  This sauce, by the way, was dynamite.  My future go-to barbecue sauce!
Round Two - Chipotle-Cherry Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Here's the other favorite of the evening!  Fall off the bone goodness!  We used the same cooking method as before (2.5 hours at 275 degrees in the oven wrapped in foil.)  We lightly dry rubbed the ribs (see last year's BBQ post for that recipe), then added the above barbecue sauce, then wrapped in foil and baked.  (This was all done in advance and at this point transported from my place to John and Jenn's.)  Then before serving, we simply opened up the foil, brushed with more sauce, and broiled for about five minutes.  Delicious!  The sauce is sweet but with a nice kick at the end that is not too spicy.  Just fantastic!
Round Two - Grilled Corn with BBQ Butter
Please excuse the bad picture.  This one was super easy as well.  Butter was made in advance.  Corn isn't in season, so we picked up frozen corn, cut it into these small pieces, and then boiled for 5 minutes.  Then when almost ready to serve, we simply grilled them up, and rubbed them in the butter.  The butter does have a bit of heat to it (it's Bobby Flay, come on, now!) but it was crazy good!  (And you know what this butter will taste great with.... say it with me now... Steak Frites!!!)
Round Two - Macaroni and Cheese Cups
We cooked this mac and cheese recipe because of the crispy cheese crust that you can see in the second picture.  This crust was amazing!  The macaroni itself was a little dry, though.  Next time, we'll add more cream and add some gruyere to the cheese mixture.  But overall, a fantastic little dish!
Round Two Final Plate
Dessert - Apple Bread Pudding
Perfection on a plate.  Just delicious!  Follow the recipe exactly, do not make any changes - you will not be disappointed!
So there you go - a lovely Southern-style meal that was a home run with the table!  Definitely not part of our diet plan, but when we figure out next week's menu, we'll go light.  Side note - we figured out next week's menu.  It's not exactly light, but its not crazy.  We're going with the good old-fashioned chicken breast and making something that is gourmet and fabulous, but absolutely easy for weeknight cooking!
Next Week - Chicken Breast

Monday, April 1, 2013

March 31, 2013 - Duck Breast Salad

Good Morning, Culinary Sunday followers!!!  Hopefully everyone had a fantastic holiday weekend!  We had 54 hits yesterday alone, which may be an all-time one-day high for us, so I'm really excited to hear if anyone made anything in particular for Easter!  (Also... shout out to the hits from Kuwait... once again, assuming its the men and women serving our country, so thanks for all you do!)

We had a fabulous meal this week!  We wanted something light but full of flavor and decided to go the salad route to see if it could "fill" us for a dinner.  It was spectacular!

Cocktail - Strawberry-Basil Margarita

This cocktail was more a "cleaning out the fridge" type of cocktail.  We combined last week's strawberries with the extra basil in the fridge, added tequila, triple sec, and lime juice and blended with some crushed ice.  It was a delicious margarita!  And you don't taste the tequila, for those wimps out there.  :-)

Appetizer - Butternut Squash and Apple Soup


Delicious!  A warm, comfy, velvety soup with a great creamy texture and slight kick that sneaks up on you.  Just be careful when frying those walnuts.  Jenn had a little visit from the Norwalk FD when the smoke detector suddenly went off. 

Appetizer Soup - 2010 Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc
This fabulous French white is fermented in stainless steel giving it a great minerality but has some great roundness and depth.  You smell fresh flowers and grass, with crisp green apples and citrus on the palate.  The grassiness gives it almost a Sancerre taste.  This was a great wine, but we didn't realize the soup would have a spicy kick, so if we paired again, I would go with a Riesling for the soup.  Overall, lovely drinking white!
Entrée - Seared Duck Breast, Mixed Greens, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad with Diced Apples and Blackberry Vinaigrette
Isn't that a thing of beauty?!?!  This was incredible!  Let's break it down.  First, make the dressing in advance.  It's rather easy and it is finger-licking good!  This will go great on any salad!  When ready to eat, simply cook the duck (I'm thinking maybe add a little spice rub for a kick of extra flavor and depth), and then while it rests, combine all the greens and plate.  It's actually really easy.  The flavor was great, the crisp of the apples against the melting goat cheese with the succulent duck breast - divine!  You can definitely expect us to put more salads on the menu with the upcoming summer!
Entrée Wine - 2010 Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel
Okay, so in case you were every wondering what my "everyday drinking wine" is - here you go.  My fail safe is the Bogle vineyard line - normally their Petit Syrah.  (Soooo good!)  So when we decided on working with a Zinfandel for our meal, I figured what the heck - may as well give old faithful a try!  It did not disappoint!  It had bold and vibrant notes of blackberry and raspberry.  On the palate, the strong berries mixed with spice and what seemed like some tar or tobacco.  It had full-bodied but smooth tannins that resulted in a lingering and lush finish.  Delicious wine!
Dessert - Limoncello Cheesecake
I could eat this all day, every day.  The best cheesecake we have made - hands down.  (And I consider myself a cheesecake Queen, so this was hard for me to admit.)  Jennifer nailed this one!  The flavor was incredible, the texture was soft and creamy, but the best part - the biscotti bread crumbs.  Light years difference between that and regular graham crumbs.  And the best part was - she found a fantastic lemon biscotti that just worked so well.  If you can find it, you must use it:
So there you go!  Another delicious meal from start to finish!  And a salad to boot! 
Next week will be a lot of fun.  (And a step back from this healthy kick.)  John's nephew from Holland is visiting, so we're creating a menu just for him.  So what does Holland not have that he can experience here in the States?  How about my favorite (and based on the hits we get... your favorite, too) - Southern style BBQ???
Next Week - Southern Comfort Small Plates