Monday, September 29, 2014

Garlic Parmesan Filet Mignon

In the final dinner of "Dips, Dinners and Desserts", this one is a really special night dish.  Not one that you would do on a school night, but for one of those special occasions.  

It calls for Filet Mignon, but we used small Beef Tenderloin Medallions, to keep it budget friendly. Honestly though, I think any good cut of meat would do, as it's all about the preparation and Dijon combination with the Parmesan and garlic ending.

**I baked off some hash brown patties and let the steaks rest on the cooked hash browns.  It gave it a fun steakhouse effect without your typical baked potato and the juices from the steaks flavored the hash browns beautifully.

Garlic Parmesan Filet Mignon
Courtesy of Traeger

2-4 Filet Mignons (we used small Beef Tenderloin Medallions instead)
Garlic Salt
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard for each filet
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced

Turn grill on high.  While the grill is heating up, season the filets with salt, pepper and garlic salt. In a separate bowl, mix the minced garlic and Parmesan and combine.

When the grill reaches temperature, place filets on the grill and cook for 4 minutes on each side. (Keep on longer if you like them less pink and more well done).  After 8 minutes total (or until they are done to your liking), spread the filets with the Dijon mustard sauce and dip in the minced garlic and Parmesan cheese mixture and place back on the grill for another 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Pull from grill and let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

One Year Ago:  Sunday Night Pot Roast

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blue Cheese and Carmelized Shallot Dip

Today was an absolutely glorious weather day.  Crisp, cool and sunny.  I decided it would be a great day for my husband and I to get out of the house and enjoy some great outdoors.  We ventured out towards Rocky Mountain National Park to a charming little town called Allenspark. 

We came upon this amazing stream that had incredible little falls.  Being a Pisces, I can never get enough water.   It was really fun hiking around the creek.

As this is the final dip in "Dips, Dinners and Desserts", I have saved the best for last.  I so love this dip that our family turned me on to.  I could eat it by the spoonful!

Blue Cheese and Carmelized Shallot Dip
Courtesy of Epicurious

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups thinly sliced shallots (3-4 medium sized shallots)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese, room temperature

Heat oil in heavy medium saute pan over medium-low heat.  Add shallots.

Cover and cook until shallots are deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool.

Whisk together mayonnaise and sour cream in medium bowl to blend. Add blue cheese.

Using rubber spatula, mash mixture until smooth.  (I used my emersion blender) Stir in caramelized shallots.  Season dip to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover dip and refrigerate until flavors blend, at least 2 hours.

(Can be made 2 days ahead.  Keep refrigerated.)  Serve dip chilled with cut vegetables or kettle potato chips.

One Year Ago:  Sour Cream and Chicken Enchiladas

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Bars

Halloween season is upon us and that means one thing...Reese's Peanut Butter Cups galore!!! 

I cannot get enough of those little bites of heaven.  I freeze them for that added crisp, chilled goodness.  I also have to freeze them so they are out of sight and out of mind (that's the plan anyway).
I saw Trisha Yearwood make these bars a few weeks ago.  Since I am not the biggest fan of butterscotch, I changed them to add chocolate chips instead.  WOW!!!  A Reese's Peanut Butter BAR!!  Let's just say these did not last long in our house.

Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Bars
Adapted from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
6 ounces butterscotch chips (about 1 cup) (I added chocolate chips instead)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons milk


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish with butter or non-stick baking spray.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and 1/2 cup of the peanut butter. Add the egg and vanilla. Sift the flour with the baking soda and the salt. Mix the oatmeal into the flour and stir the flour into the creamed mixture. Spread the batter in the baking pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the batter and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned around the edges.

Whisk together the confectioners' sugar, milk and the remaining 1/4 cup of the peanut butter until smooth, then spread the glaze evenly over the warm bars. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rosemary Lemon Grilled Shrimp with Marinated Tomato and Polenta Stacks

I know that I am getting old and showing my age when my children are gone for the evening and instead of getting all dressed up and hitting a night on the town with my husband, we would rather get into our comfy clothes, open a nice bottle of Zinfandel and make a gourmet meal at home.

I never thought we would be one of those couples (you know, like our parents).  I have to say though, I would take it over any other date night at a restaurant.  There's just nothing like being in the comforts of your own home and creating a new meal together.

This one was supposed to be Traeger recipe, but I was too lazy to go out and get bacon that I forgot, so it morphed into a completely different dish.  Then, I decided it needed a little color, so I made marinated tomatoes.  As I was working on the two pieces of the meal, I took it one step further and added the stacked element.  Now my husband has never been a fan of polenta, but he is hooked now. All the flavors melded together so beautifully.  Can't wait for our next date night!!!

Rosemary Lemon Grilled Shrimp with Marinated Tomato and Polenta Stacks
Dedicated To Date Nights

For the Marinated Tomatoes: 
1 pint red grape tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon jarred pesto
1 clove garlic, pressed
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Halve the tomatoes and add them to a gallon plastic zippered storage bag.  Add the olive oil, vinegar, parsley, pesto, garlic, salt and pepper.  Seal the bag well and give a little shake to get all the flavoring around the tomatoes.  Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

While the tomatoes are marinating....

For the shrimp:
1 pound cleaned large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails off
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Rinse shrimp well under cold running water and dry thoroughly on paper towels and set aside.

Make the shrimp marinade.  In a large bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary.  Add the shrimp and coat well.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the polenta, I just purchased the pre-made tube of prepared polenta and cut it into half inch slices. Heat saute pan to medium heat with a teaspoon of olive oil.  Add polenta slices and sear until fully warmed through and golden brown on each side.

For the shrimp, heat a grill pan to medium-high heat and let it get very hot.  Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side, until fully cooked and pink.

When ready to plate, place one slice of the cooked polenta, add a small spoonful of marinated tomatoes and repeat.  Top with a little crumbled gorgonzola cheese.  Place the grilled shrimp and remaining tomatoes around the polenta stack.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Baked Fontina Cheese Dip

It is the official week of the beginning of fall and it has definitely been showing around here.  The leaves are turning their beautiful colors and there is a crispness in the air each morning...and then it goes back to 85 degrees.  Well, at least it feels like fall for a few hours each day.

This charming little farm is near our old house and my husband called me as he was driving by it the other morning to let me know that the pumpkins were out and so wonderfully displayed.  Thankfully I had my camera with me and was able to catch this great shot.  

For those cool nights, here is a warm cheese dip to take the chill off.  I will give you one warning, be careful when you are taking it out of the oven.  The olive oil and cheese are bubbly and popping and I gained a new grease burn from it (which I of course proudly shared with the chef at my cooking class).

Baked Fontina
Courtesy of Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa)

1-1/2 pounds Italian Fontina cheese, rind removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 crusty French baguette

Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat.

Distribute the cubes of Fontina evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan.  Drizzle on the olive oil.  Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil.  Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for about 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.

Serve the baked Fontina family style, right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread.

** This recipe makes a large batch and is very rich, so I cut the recipe in half when I made it for our small family.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blueberry Dump Cake-Cobbler-Crisp

I was in a Food Network "Chopped" Tournament.  I arrived very tardy, since I had to work late and I didn't know the "secret basket ingredients" and everyone else was already in the middle of preparing their meals.  My heart was racing trying to figure out what to make, on what was now an even more abbreviated time frame.  I told myself not to panic and pull it together. 

I ran to my refrigerator and started putting together a roasted pork tenderloin with creamy mustard sauce (one of my go-to dishes).  Then, I find out that the secret basket is a wedding theme meal and one of my opposing chefs brought her wedding gown to present her meals in...really???

So, I thought to make my dish look beautiful, I would serve the dinner on my white wedding china.  Ted Allen, the host, then announces "When the four nuns arrive to judge, you have two minutes to plate your dish for presentation".  I can't find my china anywhere, because my mom has them spread out in every room of our house, making it look like model home.  My blood pressure goes into overdrive and I really start to panic because now I have nothing to put my dish on and I am going to lose the competition.  I then hear my daughter, "'s 5:45, you need to wake up".  

Oh thank God, my Chopped Tournament dilemma was only a dream, but so real.  One of those dreams where you are trying to wake up from a heavy REM sleep fog and you can't catch your breath.

Clearly I have way too much on my mind right now, planning the end of season school volleyball banquet, which I am in charge of this year.  I have been speaking with restaurants, caterers, planning table settings, decorations and even figuring what color napkins and ribbons to wrap the silverware in.  Yes, too much going on in my brain!!

Well, this dessert will definitely get you the winning votes in any culinary championship.  You can call it a dump cake, cobbler, crisp, or you can just call it, oh so sweet deliciousness!

Blueberry Dump Cake
Dedicated To Dreams

(2) 14 ounce bags frozen blueberries (kept frozen)
grated zest of one lemon
1 (13 ounce) jar Stonewall Kitchen Wild Maine Blueberry Jam (or whichever brand you can find)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 box Butter Flavor Yellow Cake Mix
1 stick butter, cold
2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with non-stick spray.

Gently stir frozen blueberries, lemon zest, blueberry jam and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Pour into prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle the dry cake mix all over the blueberry mixture so it is well covered. Cut cold butter into thin slices and place all over cake mix.  Sprinkle sugar all over butter pieces and cake mix.

Bake for approximately 45-60 minutes, until blueberries are bubbling and the crust is a light golden brown.

Serve cake warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping...(or better yet, serve with both)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sauteed Chicken with Olives and Roasted Mushrooms with Garlic & Thyme

During our weekend visit with Steve and Leslie while the guys went golfing, Leslie and I had the pleasure of attending Sur La Table's Cooking School in Boulder.  I signed us up for their class of "Fast & Fabulous Chicken Dishes".  I feel that we can never get enough opportunities to keep learning and soaring in whatever we enjoy doing, be it our careers or hobbies.

Our chef/instructor was fabulous.  I loved her humor, personality and candor.  She told amazing stories and captured our attention at every moment. We even exchanged grease burn stories and showed our battle scars on our arms and hands...I felt like such an accomplished chef.

I worked hard for those cooking scars and there was this unspoken respect.  Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a little - but a girl can dream, right?  Back to the cooking part...we made four different chicken dishes and this one rocked it.  I loved all the flavors and it was so easy for a weeknight dish, yet impressive enough that you could serve to guests.

Sauteed Chicken with Olives
Courtesy of Sur La Table

2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
4 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
1 medium garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons minced thyme
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
2 Tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Place a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat and add 1 Tablespoon of the oil.
* Chef's Tip:  Dry the chicken really, really, really well before you put it in hot pan.
When the oil is shimmering, generously season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken to the pan, presentation side down first and cook until brown, about 3 minutes.  Turn the chicken and cook on the other side, about 2 minutes longer.  Transfer the chicken to a plate, reserving the skillet.

Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil to the skillet.  When the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Return the chicken to the skillet, presentation side up.  Add the broth, bring to a boil then reduce the heat until simmering and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Stir in the olives.

Place the sauteed chicken onto warmed serving plates. Spoon olive mixture over the top, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

* These mushrooms are super delicious and go with everything!!

Roasted Mushrooms with Garlic & Thyme

16 mushrooms (white button or baby bella), cleaned and dried well
3 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped very finely
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
5 Tablespoons Panko Japanese breadcrumbs
1-1/2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt 
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly fry the mushrooms, cap-side down, in hot oil for 2-3 minutes.

Arrange the mushrooms in a 9x13 cooking dish with the stalks facing upwards.

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, garlic, thyme, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Spoon a little of the garlic butter mixture on to each mushroom, then lightly press the breadcrumbs on top.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or golden around the mushroom cap.