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Archive for June, 2010

Dale Argentina!

Ole, ole, ole, ole, ole, ole, ola

Ole, ole, ole, cada dia te quiero mas

Soy de Argentina

Es un sentimiento que no puedo parar

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Clean Hair

After his daily hair washing in the kitchen sink

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One great tradition that my church has is to provide meals for families with brand new babies.  It’s an excellent idea because, as I’ve learned firsthand, families with newborns do not have two hands or two minutes to throw together a real meal.  They end up eating takeout or frozen pizza … unless their lovely mother and sister stocked their freezer full of food.  It also gives people a chance to meet the new little one and has the side perk of allowing you into other people’s kitchens in a sense.

Nate & I received a delicious meal chock full of salad! which made us both super happy and pecan-crusted chicken.  The chicken was great and stayed in my mind so that when I was thumbing through an old magazine and came across this recipe I wondered why I’d never turned it down in the first place.  The pecan-crusting is quite different in that this one rests on sweeter notes to the chicken recipe’s hotter notes.  But both are great (and this ones a cinch to put together) and I’ve since deemed the pecan as the new walnut of my kitchen.

Pecan-Crusted Skirt Steak
Originally from finecooking.com
Serves 4

1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1-1/2 lb. skirt steak, trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup pecan pieces
2 Tbs. cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 tsp. honey
1-1/2 tsp. roughly chopped fresh rosemary

Position an oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease the foil with the oil. If necessary, cut the steak crosswise into pieces 8 to 10 inches long. Arrange the steak on the baking sheet in a single layer and season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Put the pecans, butter, honey, rosemary, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a food processor and pulse until well combined and the pecans are finely chopped.

Broil the steak until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip it and broil until it’s cooked nearly to your liking, about 3 minutes more for medium rare. Spread the pecan mixture over the steak, patting the mixture with the back of a spoon to help it adhere. Continue broiling until the pecan coating is toasted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Set the steak aside to rest for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice the steak against the grain and transfer to plates. If the pecan coating falls off the steak as you’re slicing it, spoon it over the top.

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Garage Sale

I am now a member of an elite group who has now had this classic “life Americana” experience: doing a garage sale.  A bout of dramatic and disappointing rain turned this into a two weekend event, which included

1 big haul of all our stuff to Jarrett and Catherine’s house
1 pricing party complete with hotdogs, chocolate milkshakes, sweat, and 2 grumpy, overtired babies
2 complete set-ups at 6am and 7am
1 mad-dash-desperate flinging of all items into the garage style tear down (I learned the Knoxes have really nice, helpful neighbors)
1 hot, we’re over this and everything’s going to the Salvation Army tear down
1 grumpy husband when the World Cup Argentina game couldn’t be accessed
Countless $1 bills and quarters in my pockets
1 lemonade stand with 2 adorable 3-year-old sales personnel
Too many bagels, Farmer’s Market donuts, brownies, and muffins
1 drenched outfit
1 v-neck sunburn

Lessons:

Keep a garage sale at your own house or very close to your own house
Probably an experience best shared only with close friends

Verdict:
Personal takeaway – $110 and a clutter-free apartment

Which means that working is a far more lucrative and less tiring endeavor.  However, experiencing one of my friend Em’s favorite summer activities together … and a cinnamon sugar donut from the Oak Park Farmer’s market made the experience worth it.

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Tiramisu Pizza

My pictures don’t do it justice.  This is one of those recipes you’re just going to need to trust and try.  How to make a flat, two-layered, khaki-colored thing look delectable?  Well, my camera skills haven’t figured that out yet.  But it is.  Delectable.

I expected Nate to be disappointed because when he thinks pizza, he thinks gooey cheese, saucy spots, saltiness.  And yet, he though, “Delectable.”

If you’re into coffee and you’re into pizza, try it out.  I found it’s a good balance of sweet, but not overly sweet … which is probably why it went over well with Nate.  Although if the crust is crispy enough, almost anything will.  It’s got a nice, pure flavor of sweetened coffee and cream without too much else to confuse it.  It’s got simplicity going for it.  And that makes it delectable.

Tiramisu Pizza
Taken from foodnetwork.com, recipe from the kitchen of Piece Pizza in Chicago
6-8 servings

12 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar (I added a bit more)
1/4 cup brewed espresso, cooled, plus more as needed (I actually used a bit less, being afraid that my mascarpone would become too runny on the pizza)
1 prebaked pizza shell (and please read this as a homemade pizza shell because anything else would be atrocious)
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a food processor, whip the mascarpone cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. Add espresso, process until mixture is creamy and spreadable. Add a bit more espresso if mixture is too stiff.

Spread the tiramisu filling over baked pizza shell. Create a dappled effect by first dusting the cheese liberally with cocoa powder, followed by a very light dusting.

Place on a baking sheet in the oven just until slightly warmed.

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I know you’ve probably seen a few salads similar to this on my site.  It’s not the first time I’ve combined shrimp and salad, shrimp and orzo, or orzo and salad.  (Whether I ever remembered to post these recipes on the blog is altogether different so I guess it’s possible you’ve seen far fewer of these combinations than I have.)  Clearly I’m attracted to this basic mash-up.

So when the thermometer goes above 80 degrees and trolling for new dinner ideas, a refreshing salad for dinner just screams, “Make me!”  And this one passed the muster of “different enough from what we had recently …” because of those beautiful, fuschia radish wedges.  Radishes are not a part of my regular vegetable line-up.  I guess mostly because I forget about them.  But every once in a while that peppery kick wrapped in such a pretty-colored package calls to me.  Cut off the tips, a sprinkle of kosher salt and mmmh I’m good to go.

Radishes don’t work this way for my husband, but I’ll tell you what does.  Olives.  Kalamata olives.  Or any olive other than the plain black ones.  Olives always find their way off of my cutting board and into his mouth before they reach the salad.

This salad has nice flavor, it’s not overly complicated to make, and it’s filling enough without being carb top-heavy.  And if you ignore the demand for boatloads of olive oil and about twice as much dressing as you really need, it’s actually quite healthy.

Spinach-Orzo Salad with Shrimp
Originally from foodnetwork.com
Serves 4

Kosher salt
1/2 cup orzo
4 cups spinach, thinly sliced
10 medium radishes, quartered
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1/4 cup pitted oil-cured olives, chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the broiler. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and shake dry.

Meanwhile, toss the spinach, radishes, cucumber, onion, olives, mint, parsley and 1/3 cup each lemon juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the orzo and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the shrimp with the remaining 2 tablespoons each lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl. Arrange on a foil-lined broiler pan and broil until slightly pink, 1 to 2 minutes. (I added a pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground lemon pepper to mine.)  Turn and broil until just cooked through, 2 to 3 more minutes.

Divide the salad among plates. Top with the shrimp, sprinkle with the feta and season with pepper.

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Always trying to mix up the burger scene.  It’s summer, there are lots of burgers around, burgers are simple but burgers can be … dull.  So I’m generally up for trying a twist on the traditional burger.

This particular twist, Chicken Parmesan Burgers, gets a middling rating in my book.  Perhaps if I was ecstatic about Chicken Parmesan to begin with I would have been more gung-ho about this.  But I’ve always found Chicken Parmesan to be somewhat dull.  So why did I make this recipe?  I liked the idea of fresh mozzarella and radicchio being incorporated.

In the end, they were good but they were nothing fantastic.  If I made them again I’d skip the radicchio.  We decided it was too tough of a lettuce to work well on a burger.  The texture overwhelmed the ground chicken and mozzarella.  I’d make some fresh marinara because the store-bought is well, store-bought tasting.  Additionally the breading seemed almost unnecessary as it didn’t shine through when topped with sauce and a bun.  So I guess what I’m saying is I’d change almost everything about this recipe.

And yet, these burgers were perfectly fine to eat.  They just weren’t over-the-top good.  So my guess is that if you like Chicken Parmesan, you’d like these burgers.  And if you don’t, I’d recommend skipping these for a delicious burger with blue cheese, bacon, guacamole, caramelized onions, gouda or anything else sumptuous enough on top.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
10 1/2-inch-thick slices French bread (4 inches in diameter); 8 slices toasted, 2 slices (crust removed) diced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons minced fresh basil, divided, plus 12 large basil leaves
3/4 cup purchased refrigerated marinara sauce
12 ounces ground chicken (white meat)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
4 large radicchio leaves

Blend diced bread and Parmesan in processor to fine crumbs. Transfer to pie dish; mix in 2 tablespoons minced basil.

Mix marinara and 2 tablespoons basil in small saucepan. Transfer 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce to large bowl. Add chicken, 1/2 tablespoon oil, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with pepper; blend. Shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties; coat with crumbs. Heat sauce over low heat.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until bottoms are crusty, 4 minutes. Turn patties over; top with cheese. Cook 3 minutes. Cover; cook until cooked through and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

Assemble burgers with bread, radicchio, basil leaves, and warm marinara.

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