Doing what we do best... dining

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The glory that is cheesecake

I LOVE cheesecake. All types of cheesecake. When I was growing up, I thought it sounded weird. I mean, I liked cheese.... and I liked cake.... but cheese+cake? No thanks. It was probably high school before I discovered the glory that is cheesecake. Brian, on the other hand, grew up eating cheesecake. Both his mother and father love it - so he tried it and loved it pretty early on.

We've (Brian) has made many cheesecakes since we've been together. Vanilla, dark chocolate, key lime, etc... He's used the very richest fillings (cream cheese & sour cream) to the lighter, fluffier (Ricotta) styles. They are all great. Toppings have ranged from melted chocolate to pureed fruit. Yum.

Obviously, this isn't one of our healthier posts... but I warned you in advance.

This particular recipe was what he made for Mother's Day this year.

Lemon Cheesecake with Key Lime Whipped Cream

You'll need:

2 cups graham crackers crumbs
1 stick butter (melt)

2 -8oz. bricks cream cheese (room temp)
15oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
4 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream

First, preheat oven 325. Mix graham cracker crumbs & melted butter together. Press into the bottom of a spring-form pan. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove & set aside.

Next, combine cream cheese & ricotta. Mix until smooth. We use a Kitchen Aid mixer for this and the following steps.
Add all remaining ingredients, beat until smooth.

Put the spring form pan onto a backing sheet. Pour about an inch of water onto the baking sheet. This will prevent the cake from cracking. Pour mixture on top of crust. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until cake is firm.

While it's cooling - onto the Key Lime Whipped Cream:

You'll need:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup key lime juice

Pour all together & mix. Beat until peaks are formed. We used the Kitchen Aid again, but a hand mixer works fine too.

Try NOT having a piece every day when you have it in the house. Then tell me how you did it, if successful. I FAILED. Enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Because it's better without mayo...

You MUST try this slaw. Brian & I are not huge fans of traditional coleslaw. I've had some I like - but for the most part, yuck. Not a fan of mayo - and Miracle Whip is just odd on cabbage. Brian created this recipe several months back. He made BBQ pulled pork for sandwiches and wanted a tasty, healthy alternative to mayonnaise based coleslaw. This is it. It's bright, full of flavor and is best a day or two after it's made.

Spicy Apple Slaw

You'll need:

1 large head cabbage - use your favorite. This time, we used Napa
2-4 jalapeños (how spicy do you want it?)
1 apple - Granny Smith go very well, but again, use your favorite
2-3 carrots
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon tarragon

First, shred the cabbage. Give the jalapeños and apple a very small dice. Shred the carrots (we use a potato pealer). Put all in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, oil and spices. Whisk together. Pour over the slaw mixture and give it a good toss. Cover, refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours and enjoy!

Sounds easy enough right? It's the PERFECT spring side dish. Bold and refreshing flavors and versatile enough to go with almost anything.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Our first (real) date

Brian & I met at the Cat's Eye Saloon in Athens. Sometime around April of 2005. He had recently graduated from OU and was still in Athens - bartending there several nights per week. I had just moved back to Athens, selling houses and positive that I'd be single forever. I mean, come on... I was 26 and moving back to a college town. I figured there wasn't enough wrinkle cream and/or work out videos to let me pass for an undergrad, therefore - screwed. Athens is not exactly a hub of the young professionals single scene. I digress...

Anyway, I reconnected with an old friend who met me out at Cat's Eye one evening. I remember seeing this short guy strolling through the bar with a swagger and confidence that appealed to me. Not enough to give me courage to ask him out.... but still quite appealing. Instead, I started finding reasons to have a drink at Cat's Eye on the most random nights.... until I figured out his schedule. That made it much simpler. I'm not a crazy stalker or anything... just a bit shy and hoping he'd make the first move. I mean, how many nights can one girl find reasons to go drinking?!? Finally --- after my close encounter with alcoholism (just kidding, Mom) --- he asked me out.

He invited me to his place for dinner & wine. I was supposed to bring a side dish. EPIC FAILURE. I attempted to make some sort of cheesy potatoes. It didn't go so well. I burnt the hell out of it. It ended up in the garbage. Now what?? Dinner in just a few hours... no side dish. I did what any girl in my position would do. Stopped by Kroger, picked up a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream, slapped on some lipstick and headed to Brian's house. Where I deliberately didn't bring up the side dish drama. And God bless him; he never asked.

The following recipe is what he cooked for our dinner that night. Three years and several months later, the same dish was served at our wedding.
I never knew food could be so personal or evoke such a great feeling. It is so every time we cook this (like tonight!)

Feta Stuffed Chicken

You'll need:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts (however many people you're serving, that's how many you need - this recipe based on 2 large ones)
8 oz. of Feta cheese
Diced onions - about half of one
Fresh chopped garlic - we use a ton, use your judgement
Fresh chopped basil - 5-10 leaves
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup white wine
Olive oil
1 tablespoons of butter

The process:

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix the cheese, half of the onions, half of garlic and most of the basil in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Wrap the chicken in plastic wrap and pound very thin with a meat tenderizer. Meat should be about .5 to .75 inch thick.
Place the chicken in a lightly oiled baking dish. On one side of the chicken, place 4-5 heaping tablespoons of the cheese mixture. The amount you add depends on the size of the chicken breasts. Fold the other side of the chicken over the mixture. You don't need to pin it down in any way... the feta mixture will act as a "glue" to keep it together.

Atop the chicken, place the additional basil onion and garlic. Also add the wine and butter to the top of the chicken and to the bottom of the pan, to keep the chicken moist.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Baste the chicken in the wine & butter sauce every 10-15 minutes.

Serve with a green veggie (or Cherry Garcia ice cream...) and enjoy!!!

A simple side

Until I started dating Brian, I'd never eaten a brussel sprout. And I wasn't too amped to try them. Now, we eat them at least once per week. If you like cabbage, you'll like sprouts. And this simple recipe will make you love them even more.

Simply Shredded Brussel Sprouts

You'll need:
Approx. 1 pound of brussel sprouts
Diced onion
Fresh chopped garlic
Approx. 1 cup white wine (use what you drink - we typically use chardonnay)
juice from 1 lemon
fresh cracked pepper
sea salt

First - shred the brussel sprouts. You can use a food processor or by hand.
Sauté the onions on med-high heat in about 1/4 cup of the wine. Give it about 3 minutes. Then toss in the garlic. Give that about a minute - just long enough to let the kitchen fill up with that delightful smell.

Next, add the shredded sprouts, the remainder of the wine and the lemon juice. Turn down the heat to medium and let it dance around the pan for a while. About 20 minutes - just long enough for the sprouts to get a little tender and soak up that glorious flavor.

Lastly, give it a hit of fresh cracked pepper and some sea salt, to taste. It's quick, simple, delicious and healthy. YUM.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Our maiden voyage

I don't really know how to start a food blog. My cooking skills are limited, at best, and Brian doesn't use traditional recipes. So this should be interesting.... here goes.

Since we first started dating, Brian has enjoyed cooking. And he's quite good at it. Through the 4-ish years we dated and the year that we've been married, what we eat has changed at bit. Moving away from processed, packaged foods and more into healthier, tastier treats. It is a recipe Brian created with influence from one of our favorite restaurants.
Roasted Butternut Squash & Carrot Pita Pizzas
You'll need:
4-6 pitas
Medium size butternut squash
carrots - trimmed
fresh mushrooms (use your favorite)onion
shredded cheese (we use part skim mozzarella usually)
First - roast the squash and the carrots in a 350 degree oven. Drizzle both with just a bit of olive oil and salt. The squash takes about 30-40 minutes. The carrots take about 20.

In a baking dish, roast some diced onion and mushrooms. Just a bit of olive oil and salt again. Give them about 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Mash the meat of the squash and the carrots together in a bowl.
Next - spread a generous layer of the squash mixture on top of each pita. Next, add some of the onions & mushrooms. Finish it off with about a palm full of your cheese of choice.

On a baking sheet, pop them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. Just long enough for everything to get hot and the cheese to melt. Once out of the oven, cut into pieces and enjoy!

Important disclaimer: I am NOT a food photographer. These look quite tasty, despite what my (lack of) photographic skills may communicate.

We love food. We love eating healthy, delicious foods. And we love each other. We're excited to share some of what we love with you.