Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Roasted Shrimp & Orzo - Ina Garten

***Succulent shrimp...citrusy lemon...flavorful feta cheese...fresh cucumber...parsley straight from the garden....These are just a few of the ingredients that are combined to form this scrumptious dish!

This dinner is sure to please your family.  It's packed with serious flavor...each bite just pops in your mouth.  It comes together beautifully, with an array of different colors going on.  I guess you could say it's a delight to both the tongue and eyes!  Haha.

I really love the addition of orzo in this...I think it's the perfect pasta to pair with the other ingredients.  If you don't have orzo onhand, I could definitely see other kinds like penne or rotini working just fine, too.

Bon Appetit!***

Roasted Shrimp & Orzo
Source:  Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa at Home

Kosher salt
Good olive oil
3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
3/4 pound good feta cheese, large diced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!

Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Country Hashed Browns - Ina Garten

***Ina Garten never lets me down...Her recipes never disappoint and consistently deliver in the flavor department.  Case in point - Her "Country Hashed Browns."  One thing that I adore about the weekend is making a yummy homemade breakfast.  After watching Ina prepare this dish recently on her TV show, I knew that it was going to make an appearance in my kitchen soon.

I decided to surprise Brad with a delicious brunch this morning...And we were both thrilled with how it turned out.  I served these hashed browns with fresh scrambled eggs, juicy peaches from Chilton county, and plump blueberries from the farmer's market.  It was the perfect blend of fresh fruitiness and hearty yumminess!  We didn't want the meal to end!

After a brunch like that, you know the day ahead will be fabulous!

Bon Appetit!***

Country Hashed Browns
Source:  Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and 1/2-inch diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts
1/2 pound smoked ham slices, 1/2-inch diced

Melt the butter in a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan. Add the potatoes, onions, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally with a flat spatula, until the potatoes are evenly browned and cooked through. (Allow the potatoes to cook for 5 minutes before turning.) Turn off the heat and add the parsley, scallions and ham. Reheat on top of the stove or over a hot charcoal grill.

Cook's Note: Use any leftover potatoes in Potato Basil Frittata (see recipe) for lunch.

You can peel and dice the potatoes early and keep them in the refrigerator in a bowl of cold water. Drain them and dry them well with paper towels before frying.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Blueberry Crumble Pie - Williams-Sonoma

***First of all, I hope that you all had a fantastic 4th of July celebration yesterday...Hopefully it was filled with great food, time spent with family and friends, and a beautiful fireworks show to top it off.

This past Saturday, Brad and I scored some amazing fresh blueberries at the Pepper Place Saturday Market.  I splurged on a huge pail of them...I'll be busy baking up blueberry goodness for a while!

One of the first things that I wanted to make was a blueberry pie, and I came across this scrumptious-looking recipe in Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking cookbook.   I have a hard time passing by any dessert with a crumbly, cinnamony topping.

This pie was w.o.n.d.e.r.f.u.l....The filling wasn't overly sweet, but the crumbly topping added just the right amount of sweetness.  The cinnamon and brown sugar really send the flavors over-the-top.  And the fresh blueberries...well, they are clearly the star, here!  Use the freshest blueberries that you can get your hands on...they make all the difference in the world.

Brad and I took this pie to our 4th of July celebration yesterday, and it was a hit.  Make this for your family, and you're sure to be a hit too!

Bon Appetit!***

Blueberry Crumble Pie
Source:  Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Baking, by Cathy Burgett, Elinor Klivans & Lou Seibert Pappas (Oxmoor House, 2003).


1 recipe Basic Pie Dough (see recipe below)
3/4 cup plus 5 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
5 cups blueberries

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

Roll out the dough and transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Refrigerate until firm. Line the chilled piecrust with a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fill with dried beans, uncooked rice or pie weights. Bake until the crust dries out, about 15 minutes; to check, lift an edge of the foil. Carefully remove the weights and foil. Reduce the heat to 350°F. Continue to bake until the crust is lightly browned on the edges and dry-looking on the bottom, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the crust to a wire rack.

Increase the heat to 375°F.

In a large bowl, stir together the 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp. of the cinnamon and the salt. Scatter the butter pieces on top and toss with a fork or your fingers to coat with the flour mixture. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, work the ingredients together until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Set the topping aside.

In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, the remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon and 4 Tbs. of the flour. Stir gently to coat the blueberries evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbs. flour and the 1 Tbs. granulated sugar over the bottom of the prebaked crust. Pour the filling into the crust, spreading it evenly.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the blueberry filling. Bake the pie until the topping is golden brown and the blueberry filling just begins to bubble, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature. The pie is best served the day it is baked. Makes one 9-inch pie.

Basic Pie Dough

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 Tbs. very cold water

To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.

To make the dough in a stand mixer, fit the mixer with the flat beater, and stir together the flour, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix on low speed just until the dough pulls together.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. (Although many dough recipes call for chilling the dough at this point, this dough should be rolled out immediately for the best results.) Lightly flour the work surface, then flatten the disk with 6 to 8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Makes enough dough for one 9-inch single-crust pie or one 10-inch galette.

To make a double-crust pie: Double the recipe, cut the dough in half and pat each half into a round, flat disk. Roll out one disk into a 12-inch round as directed and line the pan or dish. Press any scraps trimmed from the first round into the bottom of the second disk. Roll out the second dough disk into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make a lattice top: Double the recipe, cut the dough in half and pat one half into a round, flat disk. Roll out the disk into a 12-inch round as directed and line the pan or dish. Trim the edge of the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press any scraps trimmed from the first round into the bottom of the remaining dough half. Pat the dough into a rectangle and roll out into a rectangular shape about 1/8 inch thick. Trim to cut out a 14-by-11-inch rectangle and refrigerate until ready to use.

Nut Dough Variation: Add 2 Tbs. ground toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts to the flour mixture and proceed as directed.

Make-Ahead Tip: Pie dough may be made ahead and frozen for up to 2 months. To freeze, place the dough round on a 12-inch cardboard circle and wrap it well with plastic wrap. Alternatively, use the round to line a pie pan or dish, flute the edge and wrap well.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Pie & Tart, by Carolyn Beth Weil (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cheesy Squash & Tomato Casserole + Farmer's Market!

***Brad and I had such a great day today.  We started it off by visiting our local farmer's market - Pepper Place Saturday Market.  It was SUCH a fun experience...The produce popped with color and all looked absolutely delicious.  There were so many fantastic much variety and so much to choose from!  Plus, I think it's extremely important to support our local farmers.  It's just impossible to beat produce that is THAT fresh and grown locally. 

Here are a few photos from the day...I had a blast taking pics!:

The very first thing that I bought were some gorgeous red Slocomb tomatoes.  For those of you not familiar with a little place called Slocomb, AL...Well, they grow the very finest tomatoes you'll ever put in your mouth.  There's even a Slocomb Tomato Festival to celebrate the harvest!

The second thing that I purchased was some yummy yellow squash...Brad's favorite!  This Cheesy Squash & Tomato Casserole was the first result of today's adventure (the second dish is baking in the oven right now...stay tuned for that recipe later!).  And I have to say...WOW!  The flavors of the fresh tomatoes and squash were simply fabulous.  The freshness of them, combined with the cheese was just perfection.  I made a few changes to Paula Deen's original recipe, which I've included below.

Bon Appetit...And please go support your local farmers!***

Cheesy Squash & Tomato Casserole
Source:  Adapted from Paula Deen's Cheesy Squash Casserole


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, diced 
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (Pulse 3 slices white bread in a food processor until you have small crumbs)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the squash and butter until soft. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the mozzarella and mayonnaise. Add the fresh tomatoes and stir until well combined.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Place in the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chicken Piccata - Ina Garten

***Chicken Piccata has always been one of my favorite classic chicken dishes.  When prepared perfectly, it becomes a symphony of lemony goodness!  Ina Garten is without a doubt one of my favorite Food Network personalities, and she does it again with this dish.  Plus, most of us can get bored with cooking chicken all the time...I know I do!  So, this dinner is a great way to spice things up a bit.

One of the things that I love most about this recipe is how the chicken is prepared.  First, it's seared to a golden brown on both sides in a skillet, and then it finishes cooking in the oven.  This ensures that the outside of the chicken is crunchy, while the inside is juicy...Perfect!

The one thing that I changed in Ina's recipe is the addition of a tablespoon or two of capers.  Chicken Piccata just isn't Chicken Piccata without capers, if you ask me!  Be sure to taste the sauce before serving...It's really easy to let the flavors get out of control with this dish...Lemons, capers, and wine are all strong flavors, and you don't want it to be too over-powering. 

Bon Appetit!***

Chicken Piccata
Source:  Ina Garten; Barefoot Contessa


2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.