August 18, 2014

Tapenade Sandwich

One of my favorite things to make (and nibble on) is tapenade.  I love the bold flavors and I enjoy that its not a heavy, calorie laden there are capers involved!  I may or may not eat capers right off a spoon...ahem!

This summer I was tinkering with a sandwich idea and came up with this delicious combination. The combo of a fantastic fresh baked loaf of French bread with this easy to make tapenade is a home run!  Make it as a sammie or as small bites.  Either way its delicious!  Click here for the recipe.

Check out my recipe for and find out how YOU can win $25,000.00 from Mezzetta in their "Make That Sandwich" Contest!!  I SO wish I could "play"!  Good Luck! 

August 9, 2014

Grilled Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon Bits

My husband has long been obsessed with Jalapeno Poppers.

Oh the stories I could tell you about where he has gone to get the ones he loves most!  He's kind-of a Jalapeno Popper Connoisseur....or something like that!

So I made him this version, on the grill and he ate them right up!

Me thinks that means they were be the judge.

Grilled Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon Bits
4 large jalapenos
4 oz cream cheese
3 TBS shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup of cooked bacon chunks (cut from a slab of bacon) or pancetta

Preheat your grill.

Slice you jalapenos open.  Just take the top 15% part of them off, enough to allow you to see the seeds and stems inside of each one. Hollow out each pepper with a small spoon or mellon baller.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, cream together your cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.  Fill each pepper with the cream cheese mixture.

Place the peppers directly on the grill, close it an allow them to sit undisturbed for 5-6 minutes.  Turn off the burner below the peppers, but leave one one and continue to cook them on indirect heat for another 15 minutes.  If they begin to char more than you might like, move them to the top rack of your grill and finish them there.  Remove from the grill, sprinkle with your bacon bits and serve.

Colleen's Notes: The filling to pepper ratio will depend on the size of your peppers.
The funny thing about jalapenos is that you either get some tame ones or some that feel like they are blowing your head off - so you never quite know what to expect...beware and enjoy!

August 7, 2014

Pecan Encrusted Chicken with Dijon Sauce

Don't you just love making a dish or dessert for someone and they love it?  The other day, I made soup for my 12 year old he took his first spoonful, he made a noise of such satisfaction then looked right up at me and said "Mom....Mom!  "This is SO good!"  Even my husband noticed the sound he made and it made him smile as well - and that...THAT right there is why I love to cook!

One day I was thinking about just what cookbook it was that made me fall in love with cooking and two books popped into my mind (that is if you don't count the Sesame Street Cookbook I received from Santa when I was 9 but THAT is another story).  I still have my first "real" cookbook.  The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook which I bought for myself when I was 18 or 19.  My dear "friend" is in pieces...literally! 40% of that giant book has completely fallen off of the spine.  I haven't touched it in years but I know that if I did, it would be like sliding on my oldest and most favorite pair of broken in jeans!  Sigh!

The cookbook that made me fall in love with both reading cookbooks cover to cover and the dream of opening a small food shop was The Silver Palate!  That book didn't have a single photo, just a few sketches but the LOVE of cooking for others enjoyment and cooking and entertaining in general jumped right off of its pages and into my soul!  I wasn't the only one because for its 25th anniversary, they released it again with photos and more.  I never did grab that one...just happy with my original I guess!

Do you have a favorite cookbook?  One that may have lit your spark when it comes to a love of cooking?

I decided to ask some of my foodie friends the same question and #CookbooksandCalphalon was born! Enjoy 17 food bloggers stories as well as the recipes that go along with them as we celebrate our love of cooking and the perfect pairing of Cookbooks & Calphalon!

This wouldn't be complete without a fun giveaway for you to can't cook without cookware and you can't use cookware unless you can cook...right?  So take a moment to enter our super fun Cookbooks & Calphalon Giveaway! 


Also, now through September 1st, Calphalon is celebrating couples!  From the first meal they create together in their new home to the meal they share on their 25th anniversary, couple cook up memories! The cookware they choose serves as the foundation for which these “Couples Cooking” memories are made.
Calphalon wants to recognize these #CouplesCooking moments by asking couples to share pictures of the meals they cook together for a chance to win $1,000 in Calphalon cookware!

Calphalon is inviting couples to post photos of the meals they prepare with their significant other on Calphalon’s Facebook page. To enter, couples will be asked to share why the dish is unique or special to them and use the hashtag #CouplesCooking. How fun is THAT??
Follow the #CookbooksandCalphalon fun on social media for great recipes, tips and more and good luck in BOTH giveaways!
My Pecan Encrusted Chicken with Creamy Dijon Sauce was inspired by a combination of two recipes found in the two books I mentioned above and every time I have made it since I was a teen...people just love it! It is unusual and delicious...simple yet special.   From an intimate 2 person dinner to feeding a mountain house full of 20 people, this chicken always pleases!  Serve it with some grilled or roasted asparagus and some roasted potatoes and you have yourself a memorable meal!  Enjoy!

Check out these fabulous recipes from some of my friends and discover the book that made them fall in love with cooking as well!  I found it interesting that we were split down the middle as far as baking recipes vs cooking recipes, in my experience one love one more than the other!

Tomato Jam – Healthy. Delicious.
Lemon Basil Chicken Thighs - Mind Over Batter
Homemade Spinach and Cheese Ravioli - Food Lust People Love
Spaghetti Parmesan - Food Ramblings

Cookie Dough Fudge Brownies – Sugar Dish Me
Plum and Pluot Galette - Fork Vs Spoon
Peanut Butter Squares - Kelly Bakes
Simple Apple Crisp – Real: The Kitchen and Beyond
Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake – The Redhead Baker
Beirut Tahini Swirls – Pastry Chef Online

Oat-chata – Healthy Slow Cooking

Pecan Encrusted Chicken with a Dijon Cream Sauce
4 good sized chicken breasts
Salt & pepper
8 TBS butter
3 TBS coarse-grained Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
10 oz finely chopped pecans
3 TBS Butter
1 TBS olive or grapeseed oil
2/3 cup sour cream
1 TBS coarse-grained Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper

Pound your chicken breasts a few times with a rummer mallet or rolling pin until it is even and thin, then season them with salt and pepper. Set aside.  Melt 8 TBS butter in a frying pan, whisk in the mustard and scatter 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves in.  Set your pecans out on a dish or paper plate and grab one piece of chicken, coat it in the mustard mixture, then immediately coat it in the pecans. Place on a baking sheet and repeat.

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees.  In a large frying pan,  melt 3 TBS butter, gently add in your chicken pieces (giving them enough space between one another to easily flip).  Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat, flip and cook for 2 minutes more.  Take chicken pieces out of the pan, and place them onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes or until done (depends on the thickness of your chicken).

Meanwhile deglaze your frying pan with the sour cream,1 TBS of mustard, salt and pepper.  Heat it just enough to warm it through.

Serve chicken over-top of the sauce or drizzle sauce over-top - whichever you prefer.

Colleen's Notes: I like to pound my chicken with a rubber mallet, which I have had for years for just that purpose.  I always place the chicken, one piece at a time in a baggie and bam...bam...bam!  Love it!
This chicken is incredible moist and tender if cooked correctly, pan frying it for a bit then finishing it in the oven at a low temperature makes it perfect!  Don't leave out the Thyme - that little bit goes a long way with flavor!  Also you may want to wash your hands in-between coating each chicken can get messy!

Enjoy & Good Luck!

I was not compensated to write this post, I just thought it would be fun to share both the story and the giveaway.  Lucky for me Page Street Publishing and Calphalon were both happy to offer up fun prizes!

August 6, 2014

10 Cheesecake Toppings

Every wonder just what you could do to that store-bought or homemade cheesecake to take it from good to great?  I've got 10 ideas for you over on one of the sites I contribute to, including a fresh, easy, delicious and impressive Blueberry Compote Topping!

10 Ways to Top a Store-bought or a Homemade Cheesecake!

What's your favorite cheesecake topping?


July 30, 2014

Grilled Jalapeno Honey Lime Shrimp

Shrimp!! I seriously think shrimp may be my favorite food! Bubba from Forrest Gump would have so loooved me!! I find that shrimp is so versatile and that depending on the time of year...I am inspired to use it in different ways..

As I visited the seafood department of my local Whole Foods Market during my last trip there, what popped out to me were their extra large shrimp.  They were stunning!  Actually in my opinion the selection and freshness of the fresh seafood at Whole Foods is amazing and it gives me so many ideas for summer grilling however that day I knew I had to grab some of those gorgeous shrimp and throw them on the that's just what I did!

Often I let my kids help plan meals when we shop.  I love to see what ideas they come up with, then have them go search for the components.  However the shrimp...this one was all me.  I love shrimp any time of year but during the grilling season, I feel I can really make it shine!  So "I" shared what it was I wanted to do with those babies with them and then had my minions shopping assistants kids, go and grab what I needed, which they always seem to enjoy doing.

I kept it simple.  We had a salad, shrimp, crusty bread (at my son's insistence...he loves nothing better than a gorgeous hunk of warm crusty bread) and some asparagus.  Since my kids are allergic to shellfish, they had a simple pasta that night.

Both my husband and I loved the shrimp (I may or may not have snatched a few more than he did)! I kept the grill heat low...often I like to char shrimp a bit but this time, I wanted the flavors of the sauce to shine.  Those babies were perfect, with just the right amount of heat (for us...we like it spicy) and sweetness!

What is your favorite way to enjoy shrimp?  I would LOVE to know...I am always looking for a new way to enjoy them! 

If you love shrimp as much as I are 6 of my favorite ways to enjoy it:

This incredible 10 Minute Garlic Shrimp has more flavor than you would expect from such a simple dish - its a friend and family favorite!

This is the first shrimp dish I ever made back when I was about 19 or so and to this day its wildly popular with everyone in my life, I never have a summer gathering without it - Spicy Grilled Shrimp

If my favorite food is shrimp...then my second favorite is bacon!  I can never get enough of Bacon Wrapped Shrimp (or chicken for that matter) - Bacon Wrapped BBQ Shrimp with Chipotle Mustard Glaze

This is such a fun appetizer and was a big hit both times I served it - Bloody Mary Shrimp & Avocado Dip

These are great for a fun nibble with a cocktails under the starts...a great date night dish!  Guacamole & Spicy Shrimp Tostadas

And if you want to drink your shrimp...well drink and dip your shrimp...My Ultimate Bloody Mary is for you!

This is the fourth in a six part series with Whole Foods Market, I was compensated to do this post however as always all opinions are my own.

Grilled Jalapeno Honey Lime Shrimp
1 pound of peeled shrimp (21/25 or larger), 
4 TBS grapeseed or olive oil
4 TBS honey
2 TBS lime juice
1 large jalapeno or 2 smaller ones
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS chopped cilantro 
Pinch of Kosher salt
A couple shakes of red pepper (Cayenne)

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, honey and lime juice and mix vigorously until combined.  Mince your jalapeno (decide if you want to add some of the stem and seeds for extra heat) and add it the mixture.  add in your garlic, cilantro, salt and red pepper as well, mix until combined.

Take 3 TBS of the mixture out of the bowl, cover and set aside.  Add your shrimp to the main bowl of the mixture and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes.  Tossing it occasionally.  Skewer your shrimp on oiled skewers, the cook a preheated grill over med-high heat 3-4 minutes per side or until done to your liking.  Remove from grill, brush with reserve marinade (whisk it just pioor to brushing) and serve.


July 28, 2014

OATrageous Oatmeals Debut and a Giveaway!

4 years ago in DC, at a food blogger conference, I met a very nice woman who was about to have her first cookbook come out.  I was so excited for her...and she is about to have her 4th cookbook released!  I am so excited for her and its so well deserved!

Kathy Hester is an authority on slow cooking as well as healthy eating.  She has a successful website; Healthy Slow Cooking as well as her first three books - Vegan Slow Cooking, The Great Vegan Bean Cookbook, The Vegan Slow Cooker and now she adds OATrageous Oatmeals!

Who doesn't love oatmeal...right?  In her new book, Kathy shares recipes using oatmeal for everything from drinks to dessert!

“If you thought oats were just for breakfast or cookies, prepare to be dazzled. Kathy Hester has taken the humble grain to new heights in this collection of savory and sweet oat recipes that include blackberry mojito refrigerator oats, steel-cut oat sausage crumbles, oat dosas with coconut chutney, and much more.”

 —Robin Robertson, bestselling author of Vegan Planet, Quick-Fix Vegan, One-Dish Vegan and many more

To kick things off in style for her OATsrageous Oatmeals launch, Kathy partnered with OXO to bring you a fun giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kathy also has another way for you to grab some goodies... be one of the first 100 people to email your OATrageous purchase receipt to it should include your full name and mailing address (for delivery purposes only) and you will receive a cool giveaway package with full sized items and coupons from some of her favorite brands worth over $25.0! After the first 100 Kathy has a special e-newsletter with recipes and ecoupons that she has gotten just for this promotion!

Curry Cashew Savory Granola
From OATrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester printed with permission of Page Street Publishing

Makes 2 cups (161 grams)
soy-free, gluten-free option*, oil-free option**

One of the reasons I love curry is that it blends spices used in desserts with savory and fiery flavors. Because of that, this granola straddles the line between savory and sweet. Try it as a delicious topping to the Indian-Spiced Tomato Soup (recipe on page 107) or a great change of pace to your normal morning yogurt.

2 tablespoons (14 g) ground flaxseed
mixed with 4 tablespoons (59 ml) warm
1 cup (92 g) rolled oats (*make sure oats are marked gluten-free)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil (**replace oil with 1 tablespoon [15 g] ground
flaxseed mixed with 2 tablespoons [30 ml] warm water in addition to the amount above)
1⁄3 cup (55 g) golden raisins
1⁄3 cup (26 g) finely shredded coconut
1⁄3 cup (43 g) minced cashews nuts
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄8 teaspoon ground mustard
salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 350F (177C) and either oil a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
Add all ingredients but the salt to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix well, then add salt to taste.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet and press thin. You should have one large, flat
piece about 1/4 to 1⁄8-inch thin. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges are browned and the
middle is no longer wet.

Let cool on cookie sheet and break it up into large or small chunks with your hands. Use to top
salads or plain yogurt, or just eat by the handful for a snack!