Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blue Cheese Buffalo Wings

I can't believe it's almost Superbowl time again!  Mike and I are having a few friends over to watch the game Sunday so this week I've been trying to think up a menu. I'm careful not to get too creative - I mean, the staples are pretty vital: wings, beer, and anything you can scoop up with a tortilla chip.

I love making homemade wings in the oven, but I'm worried i'm getting a bit too predictable with my Asian Sticky Wings (who am I kidding, i'll probably make some of those too.. ugh, so good).  This year, I'm going with the Superbowl Superfood: Buffalo Wings.   The sauce is inspired by my favorite Wild Wing Cafe sauce, the Red Hot and Blue, which is a buffalo sauce with blue cheese mixed right in.  I did learn during this process that blue cheese is very hard to melt, so I just left it chunky in the sauce and it all came together in the oven!

* 2 lbs chicken wings (I buy the wings that are already divided into two parts)
* 3 tbsp. butter
* 1/2 c. hot sauce (I like Frank's)
* 2 tbsp. blue cheese crumbles
* cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 450.  Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Arrange the wings on the tray and spray the tops lightly with cooking spray as well.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, to prepare the sauce, melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add hot sauce to the butter and stir until well combined.  Add the blue cheese to the sauce and set aside.  After 20 minutes, remove wings from the oven and increase the oven temperature to broil.   Spoon the sauce over the wings and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until nicely browned (the time will vary based on your oven, I find my broiler doesn't heat quite as quickly as others - just keep an eye on the wings so they don't burn).  Serve with ranch. Go team!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Turkey Meatballs

Well, here we are on January 27th and I'm finally delivering one of those healthy recipes I promised! Sure, I can make grilled chicken and veggies with the best of them, but this is one of the first recipes I made that was both light on calories and super hearty; I promise you won't even miss the beef!

I wasn't sure the meatballs would work with the 99% fat free turkey, but the ricotta cheese and egg helps keep the turkey moist and flavorful.  Serve these up with a little whole wheat spaghetti and you're all set!

Ingredients (serves 4):
* 1 (20 oz.) package 99% lean ground turkey
* 1/3 c. part skim ricotta cheese
* 1/3 c. italian seasoned bread crumbs
* 1/3 c. parmesan cheese
* 1 egg
* 2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped
* cooking spray

* 1 (28 oz) can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 1 (15 oz) tomato sauce with Italian herbs (I prefer Contadina brand)
* 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare the tomato sauce by adding olive oil to a pot (you'll need one with a lid) and heat over medium high.  Add onions to pan and sauté until the onions are soft (about 8 minutes, stirring often).  Add garlic to onion mixture and sauté for 1 minute or so.  Add remaining ingredients (if you prefer a smooth sauce, add all ingredients except bay leaf, simmer for a few minutes, then blend with an immersion blender; add bay leaf after blended).  Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray).  To prepare the meatballs, combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Using your hands, work the meat mixture until ingredients are well incorporated, being careful not to overwork it.  Form into meatballs and place on baking sheet.  Spray the tops of the meatballs lightly with cooking spray and transfer to the oven; bake for 20 minutes.  After twenty minutes, carefully transfer the meatballs to the simmering sauce.  Cover the pot and let the meatballs simmer until cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Serve over pasta.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Birthday Swag

I'm not going to lie, I'm a huge fan of my own birthday.  I just love an opportunity to put on a sparkly dress (whether there's a reason or not), drink champagne, eat cake, more cake, and yes...I love presents.   

I just have to share some of the amazing swag I received for the big 2-7.  If you're in need of a gift for the hostess, foodie friend, or even the grilled cheese lover in your life, look no further!

(Clockwise from top left)
Grilled Cheese and Soup Plates...I can't even explain my excitement over these.  Mostly because I love eating my grilled cheese and soup under the covers on the couch - the divots hold your bowl perfectly! 

Kate Spade Tidbit Plates... I adore tidbit plates, and my dear friend Stephanie knows I only have holiday themed plates in my collection!  These plates really make a table setting pop for a little splash of color.

Cupcake teaspoons...Do I need to explain? Baking is just so much more charming when you have fancy accessories on your side.

Molecular Gastronomy Kit...This kit allows you to get super-fancy with your food, just like they do on Top Chef!  Balsamic caviar pearls anyone?  Champagne foam? Don't mind if I do.

Vino-2-Go ...Tumblers with a wine glass INSIDE!  Tailgating and picnics may have reached a whole new level.

Cocktails of the Ritz Carlton Paris...Is there anything more elegant then a Ritz Carlton?  I'm see a themed party in my future..

Monday, January 21, 2013

Birthday Recap

I hope your weekend was as fabulous as mine!  I spent the last few days welcoming myself into my official late-twenties.  It’s important to start each year with a bang, right?

On my actual birthday, Mike took me to dinner at the Chop House.  I enjoyed a perfect, mid-rare filet mignon, topped with béarnaise sauce and a side of onion rings (sorry Weight Watchers, I’ll be back later this week).  I was so jazzed about the steak I didn’t think to take a pic until the very last bite!  

I rounded out the meal with a slice of New York cheesecake.  Unfortunately, I had to school Mike in the rules of fine dining…When the waitress asks if you would like two glasses of complimentary champagne to celebrate your recent engagement, are you really going to take a pause to think about it? Honestly, what would Emily Post say..

Year after year, I claim the Azalea Pre-Festival party is actually my birthday party and invite my friends to celebrate with me.  I even bring Sleeping Booty and provide an open bar!  I’m the best, right? 

My charming fiance, Mike, and I

All the ladies at Pre-Festival party
Saturday night my sister took me to one of my favorite “lady restaurants”, Cameo 1900.  I call it a lady restaurant because Mike refuses to eat at Tapas restaurants (“you mean all the food is on small plates?”…let’s just say he ordered the Cowboy Ribeye at the Chop House), so I have to go with my girlfriends.  

Burger Sliders with Goat Cheese & Onion Marmalade

Filet Mignon with Butternut Squash Risotto

Fried Pickles

By Sunday I was ready for some rest, relaxation, and water…but what’s a girl to do when she discovers Las Olas has $3 red sangria Sundays?  Maybe will power will come in my 28th year..

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shrimp Spring Rolls

As much as I hate to admit my own cliche, Mike and I have been on a healthy diet since New Years day.  I'm not going to lie, I do not enjoy minding my meals or counting calories.   I like butter...and bread; the sweet luxury of putting dressing directly on my salad (come on, dipping your fork in it is just not the same). But alas, we've got a wedding coming up and it's time to shape up!

I'm still working out some kinks in a few lightened up recipes, but one easy option i've come up with is Shrimp Spring Rolls. These are great for a party because you can make them in advance, let them chill, then slice them right before you're ready to serve.  I eat these for a light lunch or snack as well.

Spring Rolls:
* spring roll wrappers (as many as you would like to make)
* 2 shrimp per roll, cooked and peeled, tails removed (I usually buy cocktail shrimp)
* romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
* carrots, thinly sliced (I usually grab these from the salad bar)
* 1 tsp. cilantro, chopped, per roll
* 2 tbsp. cellophane noodles per roll

Peanut Dipping Sauce
* 1 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
* 1/4 c. hoisin sauce
* 1/2 c. teriyaki sauce

To prepare the sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork or whisk; set aside.   Prepare cellophane noodles according to package directions.  Add some warm water to a shallow dish or bowl and place the spring roll wrapper in the water for 10 seconds or so until it is soft.  Remove the spring roll wrapper and lay it on a plate.  Fill the wrapper with shrimp, lettuce, carrots, cilantro, and cellophane noodles.  Fold in two ends of the wrapper, then roll the opposite ends in, being careful not to tear the wrapper.  Place the rolls seam side down on a plate and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Slice spring rolls at an angle and serve with Peanut Dipping Sauce.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Longing for Venice

Tonight I'm enjoying a true Venetian treat- a delicious, dry Chianti with a bowl of crispy potato chips.   No really, this is authentic.

A few years ago, my best friend, Magen, and I traveled through Italy and Greece together and had the absolute time of our lives.  It was an unforgettable trip- the food, the sun, beautiful islands and historical architecture.

As I was flipping through my Food Network Magazine this month, I noticed a Keurig ad that featured a photo of the Piazzo St. Marco in Venice (also known as St. Mark's Square).   The photo in the ad was taken at almost the exact same spot as my picture below, it was so beautiful!

Magen and I spent our days in Venice roaming around the Rialto market, touring the Cathedrals, eating our fill of gelato, and enjoying leisurely lunches of pizza and wine.  We tried, of course, to experience all Venice had to offer (most of which we did), but every night of that trip we ended up in St. Mark's square.

St. Mark's square is a magical place - a vast, open space surrounded by shops and restaurants, which at night transforms into an outdoor concert hall of sorts.  The most amazing thing is that each restaurant sets up their own orchestra, almost as if it's a battle of classical music.  One orchestra will play, then turn their lights of so another can begin; there isn't a bad seat to be had in the entire square.   To please the American's, they play the Sound of Music, Moon River, and many other classics. 

While the orchestra plays, of course you have to have a glass of wine or two - Chianti for us (when in Venice!), and the waiters bring small bites, usually a bowl of olives and some crispy potato chips.  I'm not sure a potato chip has ever tasted as lovely as those chips in St. Mark's square.

Here's to Venezia, Piazzo St. Marco, a good Chianti and a crispy chip!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Panko Crunch Shrimp Linguine

Sometimes a girl just needs a night to make herself a fancy dinner at home (or is that just me?).  Last night, Mike was otherwise occupied and as I was scrambling to make a plan for my Friday evening, I decided I could use a little fancy time at home.  By fancy, of course I mean wearing sweatpants while eating a girly dinner, enjoying a nice Malbec, and grabbing a chick flick at Redbox - my kind of Friday!

Mike is unfortunately allergic to some seafood, and even if he isn't allergic to it, he doesn't really care for it (I love him even if he has a monogamous relationship with meat and potatoes!), so when I'm making dinner for just myself, I love making seafood.

This shrimp dish is easy to prepare and is similar to a Shrimp Scampi.  The best part is, many of these ingredients are things I always have on hand, so after work I just had to pick up some shrimp, lemon, and parsley.  I love the crunch of the panko crumbs mixed with the pasta and serve it with a little lemon wedge for extra flavor.

Ingredients (serves 2, easily halved if you're having fancy friday like me):
* 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (I left the tails on, but you can remove them if you prefer)
* 1 c. panko bread crumbs
* 4 tbsp. butter, divided
* 1 tbsp. olive oil
* 3 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped divided
* 1 lemon
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 c. dry white wine (I used leftover champagne I had in the fridge, but chardonnay also works)
* 1/2 lb. linguine
* 1/4 c. parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425. First, prepare the breadcrumb mixture by melting 2 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the panko and stir well coat.  Remove from heat, and add 1 tbsp. of the parsley, and the zest of half the lemon.  Spray a cookie sheet or casserole dish with cooking spray and arrange shrimp in a single layer.  Top with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing down lightly so it will stick to the shrimp.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the shrimp is cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to package directions.  In a medium sauté pan, melt remaining 2 tbsp. butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute or so.  Add the white wine and juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Bring the sauce to a boil and let it reduce while the pasta is cooking, stirring often. When the pasta is done, remove the sauce from heat, add the pasta to the pan and stir well to combine. Add 1 tbsp. parsley and parmesan cheese.  To serve, top with shrimp, sprinkle nay extra panko crumbs from the pan over the pasta, garnish with remaining parsley and lemon wedge.  Enjoy!