Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Guest Chef, Mary

Our father Gene/Grandfather was such a good cook that his wife Mary didn't have to bother. After his passing a few years ago she found a new interest in cooking and this has spurred her to try some new recipes. Here is a dish we both cooked together on my last visit.

She was looking for a dish to make for guests and maybe one of those easy standards you could just throw together. We found this recipe in a the William Sonoma cookbook, Pasta: food made fast, and we both thought it was a keeper. It is rich, look at how much cream, and very easy and most important; delicious. We added some leftover chicken and thought some chopped parsley would have been a good finish.

I tried a lower fat version of the recipe substituting the cream with Trader Joe's Fat Free Half and Half with an equally yummy result though admittedly not as rich. I also added chicken and some lightly sauteed zucchini slices. I also picked up some Dolce Gorgonzola from Whole Paycheck. This was stronger than the Cambozola; I'd use either next time. This is one of those you-can-fuddle-with-all-you-want recipes.

Creamy Penne with Walnuts

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 oz. Gorgonzola, dolce (Mary used Cambazola)
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1 lb penne pasta

Melt Butter in large skillet, add cheese and melt. Add cream, simmer 3 minutes but do not boil. Sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and walnuts.
Drain cooked pasta reserving some cooking water. Add pasta to sauce, stir. If sauce needs thinning use reserved cooking water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Mary has appeared on this site before when I shamefully used her as my own personal sous-chef.

Easy to print pdf of recipe

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sound the trumpets, unfurl the banners

Our 2007 winner of the PBE Pullet Surprise is, Sylvie at Soul Fusion Kitchen and her version of Doro Wat a spicy Ethiopian chicken dish. Sylvie, an accomplished cook and award winning BBQ'er, stepped out of her comfort zone and tried a new recipe. She gave us a step by step presentation of the recipe she created. She also added links back to the PBE site and our logo. It's all about the marketing.

Thanks Sylvie, our design team will be sending you the official award winner's logo to be placed any where you'd like, your blog, stationery, t-shirt, side of your car, or the trash if you'd rather.

We are honored to mention the following entrants:

New to PBE is Kathy Maister and she has an interesting site for new cooks, Her entry is a step by step video for roasting a chicken. Very inventive video that she manages without sound. Do take a look whether you are a new or more 'seasoned' cook.

Also another new foodie friend's entry was from Mele Cotte and it was very filling as she included an entire menu. She was also gracious to include a link back to PBE and our logo. Her Lemon Pepper, & Thyme Chicken Breast entry looked yummy and even supplied a review a friend A Day in the Life. And as Bush Babee says, "she put her foot in it!"

I had to go beg ACME Instant Food for a post but it's about a fun filled evening that includes rum so why not. Ed was the cook for this post and there are lots of photos and a commentary of the event by Kevin. The Jamaican Jerk Chicken makes you yearn for your own Caribbean Dinner if you can't make it to the island. I suggest becoming a regular reader of ACME if you like humor sprinkled over your food.

Thanks to our contestants. Even though we only had four entries we hope to have another challenge in the future.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

weekend dog blogging

it's been a while since i posted a picture of my pups for sweetnicks' weekend dog blogging, so i thought i'd dig something up. here's max (l) and multy (r) chillin' on the couch:

multy & max

this was actually taken quite a while ago. right now, the furry little beasts are in no fit state for pictures...they need a haircut. they actually look like miniature english sheepdogs!

anyway, happy weekend dog blogging and don't foreget to check out sweetnicks for the roundup!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Notice to Pullet Surprise entrants

Thanks for the entries. We are busy celebrating the sale of our own Doodle's house so declaring a winner could take a day or two. Never fear we have our crack web team, located deep in the PBE dungeon, designing the prize as we speak and as soon as the judges sober up we'll tabulate their votes. We'll post the winner real soon, or sooner than later.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ciao, bella: guest chef Teri

In January we attended a birthday celebration for some dear friends. It was hosted by the younger daughter and son-in-law but both daughters were involved in the planning.

The two birthday people and family will be off for a Tuscan vacation in the spring so the theme was Italian. I was really taken by one of the side dishes and asked the cook to be a guest chef here on PBE.

Here is Teri's amazing menu and sorry if I left anything out. It was abbodanza!

Pasta with breadcrumbs
Eggplant fritters w/yogurt lime sauce
Tortellini kebabs
Arugula salad
Marinated Italian sausage with peppers, olives and cheese.
Sweet and Sour Onions

Sweet and Sour Onions

2 Bags of frozen pearl onions (I like to get some of the liquid out of the onions first in a big skillet)

In a separate pot to reduce
4 Tbsp of butter
5 Tbsp of sugar
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp of champagne vinegar
salt and pepper

Melt butter and sugar together to dissolve sugar. Add vinegars. Salt and pepper to taste. Let this all reduce down to a syrup like consistency and poor over hot onions in skillet. Let flavors marry in the skillet for 20 mins on low to medium heat.
Can be made ahead of time for you dinner party!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


cornbread has been mocking me recently. no, seriously. i tried to make some corn muffins last weekend, which were a resounding flop. note to self: do not attempt to bake with soy milk ever again. ever. thus shamed, i turned to uncle alton. he has let me down before in the cornbread department, though. apparently, ab likes his cornbread straight up, no sugar. hurriedly preparing for a tailgate one saturday, i pounded out the recipe and was disappointed to bite into a dry, not-sweet-at-all, corn-flavored brick. ugh. not to be daunted, i armed myself with 1/2 cup sugar and i tried again.

ab's recipe with my tweak goes a little something like this: turn on your oven to 450 and stick in your cast iron skillet. mix 1 1/2 cups cornmeal with 1 1/4 cups milk and let rest for about 15 minutes to let the cornmeal soak up the milk. in another bowl, mix together 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar [my addition, with humble apologies to ab], 1 tablespoon of baking powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. after the cornmeal is good and soaked, beat in 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 2 large eggs then stir in the flour mixture. take out your piping hot skillet, throw in 1 tablespoon of butter and swirl around to coat. immediately pour the batter in the skillet and stick back in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is nice and browned and a toothpick comes out clean. when it comes out, invert the cornbread onto a plate, then back onto a cutting board and cut into slices.


not too bad. a little grainy, a little dry. but you know you're eating cornbread. next time, i think i'll use a little less cornmeal and a little more flour.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Valentine and...

an entry to a fellow blogger over at Talk of Tomatoes who is having a COTM ~ aka Centerpiece of the Month. Great idea because a centerpiece usually sets the stage. Go check out the many entries

My entry for the month of February ala Valentines greetings.

The Chocolate truffle are a somewhat tedious as well as quite messy version of the Alton Brown recipe posted below.

Chocolate Truffles
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside.

Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the brandy. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own pie pan and set aside.
In the meantime, place the 8 ounces of chocolate into a medium mixing bowl which is sitting on top of a heating pad lined bowl, with the heating pad set to medium. Depending on the heating pad, you may need to adjust the heat up or down. Stirring the chocolate occasionally, test the temperature of the chocolate and continue heating until it reaches 90 to 92 degrees F; do not allow the chocolate to go above 94 degrees F. If you do, the coating will not have a nice snap to it when you bite into the chocolate. Once you have reached the optimal temperature, adjust the heat to maintain it.
Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves, if desired.
Dip an ice cream scoop into the chocolate and turn upside down to remove excess chocolate. Place truffles 1 at time into the scoop and roll around until coated. Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Truffles are best when served at room temperature.

Yield: 30 to 35 truffles

I coated my truffles in cocoa powder, ground pistachio nuts and coconut flakes....all very tasty

Sunday, February 11, 2007


i got some kale in the crop share this week and i was thinking of making momma moon's white beans, ham and kale for dinner this weekend. i started looking up recipes and kinda got sidetracked. here's what i ended up with:

white bean & sausage italian soup

i guess it's a minestrone, as there are tomatoes in it. here's what ended up going in the pot:

32 oz chicken broth and about half again as much water
1 lb sweet italian sausage (the trader joe's house brand is rad)
2 cans cannelini beans
1 onion, chopped
a few carrots chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
can crushed tomatoes with juice
small can of tomato sauce
a few handfuls of torn up kale

i browned the sausage links first, then put them aside to cool and slice up. i added a little olive oil to the sausage fat in the pot and then cooked the onions, celery, carrots, thyme and salt for about 6 - 8 minutes, until onion got soft and was just starting to take on a little color. then i deglazed the bottom of the pan with some of the chicken broth and added the rest of the liquid. then i added two cans of beans (drained), the tomatoes/sauce and the sliced sausage and let it simmer about 15 minutes. i added the kale and simmered about 15 more. served with some grated parmesan on top and sourdough bread to dip. proclaimed "delicious" by my long-suffering husband.

to try next time: deglaze the pan with some pinot grigio. add more broth. add some macaroni.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Just a gentle reminder:

Where's the chicken!

Enter now. Deadline Monday, February 12, 2004

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tortilla Soup revisited for a Super Day!

Alanna over at A Veggie Venture
has come up with a terrific idea to free us all of that February frigid feeling. For Super Bowl Sunday I was asked to do an instant replay of the tortilla soup. I heartily agreed cause this is easy and tasty.

My love for Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes is well known, I had some leftover chicken breast that I diced up and some of that mean green sauce that Sister moon posted. I chopped up a small onion, added the chicken once the onion was sauted, poured the mean green sauce over the chicken and added a half a container box of low sodium chicken broth.Let that simmer for a bit and added my can of fire roasted tomatoes, added the remainder of the chicken broth and let simmer for about half hour. A can of white hominy, rinsed it well and added that to the pot. Now remember the mean green sauce already has a lot of seasoning so extra is not need. Taste as you go.Once the hominy is heated thru it tends to thinken the soup, so I added another box of chicken broth. Finished it off with tortilla strips lots of em as husband says, slices of avacado, a squeeze or three of a lime and some fresh cilantro.I had made corn muffins earlier and added a can of chopped green chiles to the batter.Find the similar recipe here at the Muir Glen site. Try it if you like spice, adjust it if you don't.

What better way to celebrate the vistory of the Colts!!!

Monday, February 05, 2007

It's World Nutella Day!!!

World Nutella Day. Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Shelley from At Home in Rome solemnly declare February 6th "World Nutella Day" - a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella. Make your favorite dish or experiment with a new one! Posts are welcome through February 6th, 2007 - the round-up will be made on February 7. Complete details are available here

Here is what y'all need to know about one of my favorite food items. I make this easy kinda dessert...sounds odd but it is tasty. Kinda hard to take a snap of melting ice cream, not that good of a photo person or not that good at thinking ahead or both. I did this during the SUPER BOWL so was somewhat distracted - but oh so happy the Colts WON!!!

But here ya go: Pineapple - Vanilla Ice Cream - Nutella Drizzle

Pour off the juice from a can of sliced pineapple, heat the syrup and add about a 1/4 cup of brown sugar. While that is cooking down, heat the pineapple slices in a skillet with a bit of butter. No this is not low calorie whatsoever. Put the pineapple in the cooked down syrup to coat the pieces, then transfer to your serving dish put a scoop or two of ice cream, I used vanilla, drizzle your nutella over that, add a squirt of whipped cream and a crushed walnut. Voila!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tequila cool is that

foodie blogger friend Nic over at Baking Sheet posted this recipe awhile can take this to the bank, they are luscious! Not at all alcholly tasting at all. Yes there is a hint of tequila, so no don't be making these for your kiddies birthday gatherings.

I did not have the suggested green sprinkles so I used finely chopped pistachio nuts. I also used 1% milk instead of soy milk.

So there ya have it, a tried and true taste tested yummy dessert for maybe a SuperBowl gathering GO COLTS!!!

Go look at the photo Nic posted, cause I'm sure hers is so much better than mine had I remembered to take one.
Think I will post a Super Bowl menu that I need to plan today cause my sweet husband invited some folks over......stay tuna'd.
And please don't forget PBE's Pullet Surprise