Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cilantro-Pepper-Corona Chicken, Oven Fries with Cilantro Cream, and Corn on the Cob

Tonight was one of those nights where I had a few ideas and just starting putting things together as the ideas came to me. I didn't have any recipes, just a bunch of fresh ingredients and some creative ideas on how to pull them all together. The result was a great dinner for a weeknight, and one that will go on my list of things to definitely make again!

Cilantro-Pepper-Corona Chicken


  • 1 pound of chicken trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 large jalapeno, chopped with seeds
  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Cumin, chili powder, and salt
  • 1/2 cup Corona
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime


  • Mix chicken with the cilantro, spices, and half of the beer. Set in the fridge for about an hour
  • Make a foil packet and mix the marinated chicken with the peppers, onion, garlic, lime juice, and the rest of the beer
  • Wrap it up and cook it on the grill for about 20 minutes. That's it!!


Oven Fries with Cilantro Cream

  • Chop 1 baking potato into slices
  • Toss with olive oil, salt, cumin, and chili powder
  • Bake on 400 for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through

Cilantro Cream:

  • Mix 1/2 cup sour cream with a handful of chopped cilantro. Chill.

The cilantro cream was the perfect dipping sauce for the spicy fries. The cream was even good on the chicken.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Chicken Piccata and Green Beans with Bacon and Caramelized Shallots

I've never made or eaten chicken piccata before! It was one of the dishes we served at our wedding but at that time I was still a vegetarian. I found a recipe by Giada on the food network website and decided to try it tonight. My parents came over for dinner too so it was fun to try out something new.

Chicken Piccata
I followed the recipe as far as what to do, however I never measure anything - I go by how it looks and tastes. I know I used more broth than the recipe called for and the extra sauce was great over rice. Here is the original recipe.


  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half (I used 3 breasts)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used a little less)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (ended up being the juice from one lemon)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (I used a whole can - 14.5 oz)
  • 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed (I used a little less)
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped


  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
  • In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter with 5 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. (the original recipe had me cooking half of the chicken at a time, but my pan was big enough to do all of it at once)
  • Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Add salt and pepper if needed.
  • Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter.
  • Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.
Jon and I really, really liked this so we'll definitely make it again. It was so easy, too! I spent about 15-20 minutes prepping and 15 minutes cooking.


Green Beans with Bacon and Caramelized Shallots
I found a recipe for green beans on allrecipes.com. My only change was to use 3 slices of chopped bacon instead of pancetta. They were very yummy...bacon fat makes everything better!


  • 1 1/5 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
  • 3 oz coarsely chopped pancetta (I used 3 slices of chopped bacon)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper (I didn't use any - it didn't need it at all)


  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and boil 3 to 4 minutes until just tender. Drain beans and immediately plunge into ice water. Allow to sit in ice water until cold, then drain well, and set aside.
  • Cook pancetta (bacon) in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy, then set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium, stir shallots into the pancetta (bacon) fat, and cook gently until the shallots have turned dark golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Place pancetta (bacon) and green beans in skillet; toss and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. (I didn't do this)


This whole dinner was so good but also so easy. I'm looking forward to making the chicken again. I'll make the beans again too, but not anytime soon because they aren't exactly the healthiest way to eat green beans!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Baked Catfish with Mashed Cauliflower, Garlic Sauteed Artichokes, Roasted Asparagus...and Some Baked Tofu

I don't like seafood. I've tried every different type there is - all different types of fish, crab, shrimp, scallops, lobster. You name it, I've tried it, and I haven't liked any of it. It's not that they are fishy, but they all have a distinct seafood taste that I just don't like. However Jon was in the mood for fish and he thought I might like catfish since it is a fresh water fish. I agreed to try it. Just in case I didn't like it, I made some baked tofu for myself (that's why I have a vegetarian tag on this post).

I got 2 small catfish filets. Jon made a breading mixture from breadcrumbs, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder. We dipped each on in egg, breadcrumbs, then baked for about 15 minutes.

Surprisingly, I ate it. It was very mild and not too flaky, but still light, and didn't have that seafood flavor most other fishes do. Jon really liked it, so I think this is something we could make again.

Mashed Cauliflower
I've always wanted to try this and was very happy with the results!

- Steam 1 head of chopped cauliflower in water for about 20 minutes, or until very tender
- Drain and press all water out. You want to be sure there isn't any extra water.
- In a large pot or bowl, add 2 oz cream cheese and 1/2 cup heavy cream (I'm sure you could use light as well). I also added salt.
- Using a hand mixer, food processor, or blender, mash the cauliflower to your desired consistency.
- Jon topped it with some parsley. I wish I would have remembered that I had chives in the fridge - they would have been perfect on top.

Garlic Sauteed Artichokes
I love artichoke dip but wanted to branch out a bit with how I eat artichokes. Unfortunately this didn't do it for either of us. Even after 40 minutes of steaming, they were still a little chewy in the middle.
Here is the recipe I used. I had to use more water than this recipe called for.

Baked Tofu
I love tofu any way that you can cook it. Tonight I sliced one piece of tofu off the block and pressed it for a few hours (wrap in paper towels, put on a plate with something heavy on top to press all of the water out). Then I breaded it just like we did the fish and baked it for 10-15 minutes. I topped it with some of my
tomato bruschetta topping.


Except for the cream cheese and heavy cream, this was the healthiest meal I think I've ever posted in my blog! The best part about tonight is that we were in the kitchen together - another Saturday night date night in our own kitchen. I'm really starting to prefer these nights over nights out at fancy restaurants!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak with Roasted Veggies and Rice

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak with Roasted Veggies and Rice

We had some flank steak in the freezer leftover from when we made the bracciole. Jon made up another great marinade today.

The Marinade -
- a little bit of soy
- about 1/4 cup teriyaki
- a little bit of sesame oil
- a few cloves of garlic
- onion powder
- wasabi powder
- dried cilantro
- red pepper flakes
- just a touch of celery salt

The marinade was a bit sweet so it caramelized when Jon grilled it. And yes, he made perfect grill marks again. I'd definitely use this marinade again.

Veggies - tonight I did roasted broccoli and red peppers. I tossed fresh broccoli with olive oil, a few cloves of chopped garlic, a tiny bit of chopped onion, and soy sauce. I roasted it on 375 for about 10 minutes and then I added some sliced red pepper and roasted it for another 5 minutes. The flavor was perfect with the steak marinade.

White rice finished out the meal. It could have used some sort of sauce. If we cooked the steak in the house I would have deglazed the pan to make a sauce, but I couldn't think of what to do since we were grilling (and I was starving and just wanted to eat). Any ideas?

Next time I'll also make some edamame to go along with it.

Tonight's Wine - A 2003 Flora Springs Trilogy
This wine was on sale for $29 from $60. We enjoyed it, but both agree that it was not a $29, yet alone a $60, bottle. I'd pay $15-$18 for this one. It was surprisingly light, bigger than a pinot noir, not overwhelming, and had a fair amount of crust or sediment. I'd recommend it, but only if
it was in a lower price range.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


It has been pouring rain for days so we had to cancel our plans to grill - we'll be doing that on Thursday instead. We both had busy days so I chose to make calzones with store-bought pizza dough. They were actually pretty good! Jon wasn't crazy about his but I think that's because I put spinach and ricotta in it (at his request), however he doesn't like ricotta...
Here is what I did:

- Saute onions, garlic, and spinach in a pan; add any spices you like. I added red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil.
- In a large bowl, mix the spinach mixture with ricotta and mozzarella cheese and a little bit of sauce.
- Roll the pizza dough out flat. I then cut it into 2 pieces (I probably could have gotten 3-4 smaller calzones out of it)
- Put about 1 cup of the mixture in the front center of the dough. Fold the back of the dough over the mixture, and bring the sides in; press seams tightly closed. I need some practice in making them look pretty!
- Bake according to the directions on your pizza dough; I did 25 minutes on 375. I served them with a side of pizza sauce for dipping.

I'll make these again, but next time I'll make them a little smaller and will try to make my own dough.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Creamy Mac-n-Cheese

I was craving a creamier version of my mac n cheese to go with dinner tonight, so I experimented with a few things. It worked! This was the creamiest (note, not the healthiest) mac-n-cheese I've ever made. Jon also liked it more than my usual recipe. I served it with my buffalo chicken strips.

- 1/2 pound elbow noodles
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2 oz cream cheese
- 2 cups total of shredded cheeses; I used cheddar, parmesan, asiago, and pecorino romano
- 1/4 tsp each cayenne and red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp flour
- salt
Cooking it..
- While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a pot; add onions and garlic and saute for 2-3 min. Add flour, stir
- Add milk and 1 cup of the cream slowly. Add softened cream cheese. Also add the cayenne and red pepper flakes.
- Cooking, stirring frequently, until it is lightly bubbling
- Turn heat down to low and slowly add cheeses, stirring constantly. This will turn into a smooth and creamy sauce.
- Pour cooked noodles into the sauce and stir, coating every noodle. Add salt if needed.
- I like to bake the mac n cheese a bit so I transferred everything to a baking dish and poured the rest of the heavy cream over it. It baked on 350 for about 10-15 minutes.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Appetizer - Spinach and Cheese Phyllo Cups

Last week I made vegetable beggar's purses and had a bunch of leftover phyllo dough. I had some extra time before dinner tonight so I tried out a new appetizer. I made this up as I went along and it was delicious!!! OK, not the healthiest, but still very good.

Here is what I did -

- Saute about 1 cup of spinach; add in 1/4 of a chopped shallot and 2 cloves of garlic; set aside to cool (I threw it in the fridge for a few minutes)
- Mix about 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella with 1-2 tbsb mayo; set aside
- Cook 3-4 slices bacon; crumble and set aside
- To prep the phyllo cups: spray a muffin tin (6 cup tin) with cooking spray. Cut 26 squares of phyllo dough, about 4 inch squares. Lay one square on a cutting board and brush with melted butter. Top with another square, brush with butter. Continue until you have 4 layers. Put the dough into the muffin tin making sure to press the dough all the way down. Some will stick up at the top. Continue until you have made all 6 cups.
- Put a spoonful of the spinach mixture into each tin. Top with a spoonful of the mozzarella/mayo mixture. Finally, top with some crumbled bacon.
- Bake on 350 for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.


Date Night in Our Kitchen.... Filet Mignon with a Red Wine Sauce, Celery Root, and Sauteed Spinach

Saturday night is usually our date night, and tonight we had our date in our own kitchen. Jon suggested getting some nice wine and cooking something new and different. That works for me!

So what to make? My good friend and business partner went to an event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia a few months ago, and afterwards, the chef shared his recipes with her. Recipes from the Four Seasons kitchen for date night sounded perfect! I don't have links to the original recipes since they are in an email, so I'll note where I made any changes.

The menu:
Homemade Bruschetta followed by Filet Mignon with a Red Wine-Garlic Sauce accompanied by Celery Root and Sauteed Spinach

My bruschetta recipe can be found
here, except tonight I used tomatoes and basil from my garden. The spinach was sauteed for 2 min in 1 tsp of olive oil. The other recipes are below.

We had so much fun and enjoyed some good wine in the process. Tonight Jon chose a 2004 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon. We had this wine on our anniversary a few months ago and absolutely love it. It's around $50 a bottle and has great depth and flavor.


Filet Mignon

  • The recipe called for prime aged sirloin steak; we used filet mignon instead
  • Heat an oven-proof saute pan until oil is smoking
  • Sear beef for 4 minutes on both sides (to rare). If you want it cooked longer, put it in a 425 degree oven for 3 minutes per additional temperature (3 min for medium rare, 6 min for medium, etc.)
  • Put beef on a plate to rest (keep covered)
  • To prepare the sauce - add 1 chopped shallot and 1 clove of garlic to the pan in which steak was cooked, scraping the caramelized meat bits on bottom of the pan to incorporate into the mixture.
  • Deglaze with 12 oz red wine (recipe called for Barolo, we used a dry Merlot), and simmer uncovered until reduced by 90%
  • Add drippings from the steak plate and whisk in 2 oz of softened butter. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Plate it - put one steak on each plate and pour sauce over top. Jon also drizzled some steak around the edges of our plates.


Celery Root

We had both never had celery root but have been wanting to try it. Here is what it looks like when you buy it and then after you peel it -

The original recipe was for a Celery Root Carbonara, but we didn't have or want prosciutto, so I skipped that step.

  • Peel and finely julienne the celery root. If you do this beforehand, keep the celery root covered in water so it does not turn brown.
  • In a saucepan on medium heat, saute prosciutto in 1 tsp oil until crisp (we didn't do this)
  • Add 2 cloves finely chopped garlic and saute (we used 3 cloves)
  • Deglaze with 4 oz white wine and reduce until pan is almost dry
  • Stir in celery root and 1 tsp fresh thyme (we used drid thyme). Let wilt for 3 minutes.
  • Add 4 oz heavy cream and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


The steak was perfect and we loved the sauce. It was really easy to make, too. Next time I'd add a touch more garlic. The celery root was interesting....I think it would have been better if I grated it or used much smaller pieces. The celery root itself was a bit bitter, however the flavor of the thyme went perfectly with the red wine sauce.

Dinner was followed by enjoying the rest of the wine on our deck and then a game of Scrabble (I finally won a game). Even though we had to clean up our mess, I think we had more fun cooking at home together than we've had at restaurants we've visited recently. A perfect date night!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jon's Night to Cook - Mexican Chicken Casserole

Our dinner plans were cancelled so Jon decided to cook for me. He usually does great meats on the grill with his homemade marinades, his signature roast beef with homemade gravy, meatballs, kick-ass chili, or his amazing scalloped potatoes. But tonight I requested Mexican, and he found inspiration in a recipe online for Mexican Chicken Casserole. He changed it up a bit...


  • 3/4 of a pound of trimmed chicken breast
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 4 oz can of chopped green chiles
  • 1 chopped jalapeno (not in the original recipe)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 red and green pepper, chopped (not in the original recipe)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (original recipe called for evaporated skim milk)
  • 1 cup total shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 5 oz enchilada sauce
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 2 tbsb olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Handful of tortilla chips, crushed
  • Spices (of course!): chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper
Cooking it

  • Combine broth, half of the chiles, and half of the jalapenos in a large skillet; bring to a boil; add the chicken, reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is done turning the chicken once. Remove the chicken reserving the liquid, and shred chicken with two forks
  • In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the rest of the chiles, jalapenos, red, and green peppers. Saute three minutes or until tender.
  • Add the reserved cooking liquid, cream, Monterey jack cheese, cream cheese, and enchilada sauce; stir well. Add the spices.
  • Stir in the chicken and cook for 2 minutes; remove from the heat.
  • Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Layer with 2 tortillas and some of the chicken mixture. Repeat until you have three layers. Top with cheddar cheese and crushed chips.
  • Bake on 350 for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand for 10 minutes.
This meal was really good!! (although my pictures haven't been great recently - they are all coming out really blurry. I need to play with my camera settings) It had great texture and the changes Jon made really made the dish. I can't imagine it without the spices or extra peppers. It had heat, but not too much at all. It was creamy, flavorful, and just delicious! We had it with some Mexican rice - just the Goya Yellow Rice that comes in a box (that was my contribution:). After dinner Jon said it felt so good to cook - he's been so busy so it has been a while. Thanks honey!!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Braciole with Vegetable Beggar's Purses; Risotto Balls with Grilled Tomato Aioli

Finally, a weekend without plans? Woo hoo, lots of time to spend cooking! And even better, my sister was home for the weekend and since we both love to cook, we decided to do it together (even if she got here an hour into the cooking :) Love ya, chickie!

I made risotto for dinner on Friday night with the purpose of making risotto balls for my sister on Saturday, so my menu revolved around the risotto balls. I was in the mood for some sort of beef, so after flipping through a cookbook while shopping that morning, we decided on Braciole. I tweaked this recipe by Giada.

For veggies, I wanted to saute vegetables in Italian spices, but took it a step further by making vegetable beggar's purses out of them. This is the recipe I tweaked.

Finally, I needed a new dipping sauce for my risotto balls, but still wanted to go with some sort of garlic aioli like the last one I made. I thought about adding tomatoes, and verified that my ideas would work by looking at a recipe by Bobby Flay for Roasted Garlic-Tomato Aioli.

Here is what I did for each item -


  • 1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 c Italian style bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 c each freshly grated Parmesan and Pecorino-Romano cheeses
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper
  • Kitchen twine


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Place steak on a large cutting board, cover with plastic wrap, and pound thin
  • In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheeses, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Spread bread crumb mixture evenly on the steak
  • Roll steak tightly. Make sure you are rolling it longways; when it's done cooking you want to be slicing it across the grain
  • Once rolled, tie it closed with kitchen twine. I tied it tightly in 5 places
  • Heat 2 tbsb olive oil in a large pan. Sear steak on each side until cooked. This took about 6 minutes
  • Add wine and bring to a boil
  • Add tomatoes
  • At this point you should be able to put the pan in the oven on 350, however my steak was so large that I decided to transfer it and all the juices to a large baking dish. Cover loosely with foil. Cook for 90 min, basting with the liquid every 30 min.
  • Once done, let it rest for a few minutes before removing the twine and slicing.

Here are some pictures of the raw rolled steak, the finished steak, and how it looked once sliced. SO good!!! I'd make it again, but next time I'd add some other flavors to the bread crumb mixture. I'd also use a thicker sauce along with the canned tomatoes.

Vegetable Beggar's Purses

Ingredients for 4 purses:

  • 2 cups chopped fresh vegetables. I used yellow squash, zucchini, red onion, carrots, celery, shiitake mushrooms, the white sections of bok choy (I know, not Italian but I had some in the fridge to use up) and 1 clove of garlic.
  • Olive oil
  • Oregano, salt, pepper
  • 2 tbsb freshly chopped parsley
  • 8 sheets of phyllo dough cut in half to give you 16 pieces (about 8x6 inches each)
  • Kitchen twine
  • Chives


  • Saute vegetables in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 15 minutes; add salt, pepper, and oregano (this step can be done a day or so in advance)
  • Lay one piece of phyllo dough on a cutting board, brush with oil. Top with another piece on an angle, brush with oil, and sprinkle with some parsley, salt, and pepper. Top with 2 more pieces of dough, brushing each one with oil.
  • Put a spoon full of the vegetable mixture in the center of the dough.
  • Pull sides up and twist to make a little purse. Tie closed with kitchen twine, brush with oil, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.
  • Once all of the purses have been assembled, place them on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake on 350 for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Once done, remove the kitchen twine and tie with chives.

Since I sliced my thumb earlier in the day, I gave Jon the task of tying the purses with the chives. He didn't see why it was necessary, but aren't they pretty? I loved these - what a creative way to serve vegetables. There are endless possibilities to what you can put inside of these. I have some dough left so I'll probably do some experimenting this week.

Finally, my risotto balls with a grilled tomato aioli. My risotto ball recipe can be found here.

Grilled Tomato Aioli


  • 4 small tomatoes, grilled, then skins and seeds removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tbsp lime juice


  • Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Chill.
  • That's it!

The color was a bit funky (pink?), but the taste was great!!

We cooked for three and a half hours and washed dishes about 5 times in the process, but the food was worth it! Everything got rave reviews so I'm sure I'll be making each dish again!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Chicken Parm

Crispy, garlicky, chicken parm. Baked, not fried. Here's my recipe...

- 2-3 chicken breasts; I like to use thin sliced breasts
- olive oil
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
- Tomato sauce

- Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic, saute for 1-2 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic
- Mix breadcrumbs with Parmesan cheese on a large plate
- Dip each piece of chicken in the oil/garlic mixture, and then dip into the breadcrumbs to coat
- Put the chicken in a baking dish coated with cooking spray
- Bake on 400 for about 15 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked
- Top with some mozzarella cheese and sauce and return to the oven. I like to turn the broiler on for a few minutes.

The chicken gets nice and crispy, and I especially love the crispy bits of breading and cheese that end up on the bottom of the dish. I served it with some thin spaghetti and sauce (just jar sauce - no time to make my own tonight, although I want to try to perfect a sauce sometime soon). It's not the best picture, but it tasted great!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Potato, Artichoke, and Red Pepper Gratin

I was in search of a new side to try today to go along with the barbecued ribs my parents were making. I found a recipe for Potato and Artichoke Gratin on epicurious.com, but of course I decided to add things, take some things out, and change some of the amounts. In the end it was an amazing side (note - not the healthiest!) and I'd definitely make it again. The changes I made added color and texture and really helped the recipe.

Here is my version:


- 4 russet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (keep in water until you are ready to assemble the casserole)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 sm onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped (my mom suggested something for color, so I chose red peppers)
- 2 cans artichokes, drained and halved
- 1.5 cups half and half
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp butter

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees; butter a 13x9x2 baking dish
- Melt butter in a saute pan; add onions and garlic and cook for 3-5 min
- Spread the butter/onion/garlic mixture in the bottom your baking dish
- Make your first layer:
- Spread half of the potatoes out in a single layer over the onions
- Sprinkle with half of the cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and red peppers
- Top with half of the artichokes in a single layer and a little more cheese
- Repeat with a second layer
- Pour the half-and-half and heavy whipping cream over the entire casserole
- Bake on 400 degrees for 1 hour; let sit for 5-10 minutes so it sets

These potatoes were soooo good! I'm very glad I made the changes that I did. I'd make this dish again, but would use a little less half-and-half and a little more cheese. I wish Jon was home tonight to taste this one!

Restaurant Review: The Mansion Inn

Another Saturday, another restaurant. I love that we try to do this every weekend!

We have wanted to try The Mansion Inn in New Hope, PA for a while, so we decided to make reservations well in advance for August 4. We didn't realize when we made them that we'd be going on the 15th anniversary of the day we first met. I love the memories...Jon was a 20 year old partying frat boy and I was a 17 year old who had just graduated from an all-girls private Catholic prep high school getting my first taste of college life. The weekend I met him I told my friend that he was the man I was going to marry. It happened, not for 11 years, but I always knew that it would.

The Mansion Inn has a beautiful outdoor garden. We had planned on having a drink there before dinner but since it was about 94 degrees with 90% humidity, we went to the bar at Marsha Brown's. Their list of wines by the glass, while overpriced, offers a lot of variety.

We walked next door to the Mansion Inn and wished it wasn't so hot so we could eat outside. They have tables on the front porch which would be great for people watching. We were seated in the parlor - a large room with very high ceilings, low lighting, light jazz music playing, and elegant, Victorian, decor. Not our style, but it was still a beautiful room. The tables were very close, but were arranged in a way where you still had privacy. Even when the room became full, it was still very quiet. Great spot for a romantic dinner!

Most of the appetizers on the menu were seafood so I was happy to hear that they had an Italian meat and cheese board as one of their specials. It was a nice sized appetizer to share - 2 pieces each of 4 kinds of meat, and 2 pieces each of 3 cheeses plus a large pile of a really good blue cheese. It also came with a small bowl of olives which we didn't touch.

Salads - I'm not crazy about the salad choices at The Mansion, but that's because I don't like fruit, nuts, or anything sweet in my salad (they have a poached pear salad with zinfandel vinaigrette and a goat cheese salad with chocolate hazelnut dressing). I asked for a regular green salad but they couldn't do it because they don't have many types of dressing, so I ended up ordering the Cesar and it was ok, but Caesar salad isn't my favorite thing. They DO have a Caprese salad, but that would have been too much after the meat and cheese plate.

Entrees - I ordered the filet and Jon chose the swordfish. I was very happy with my filet - cooked perfectly and it melted in my mouth. It came with horseradish whipped potatoes (they went overboard on the horseradish), sauteed spinach (excellent), and onion frizzles. Jon's fish was good except for the citrus sauce on it (he also doesn't like fruity stuff in his food). Also, the crab risotto was very, very dry - not anything close to the risotto that I make! Overall dinner was good. Nothing really stood out, but I didn't have any complaints except for my potatoes and Jon's risotto.

Dessert - I never order dessert, but as soon as I saw Creme Brulee on the menu I changed my mind! It was probably one of the best Creme Brulees I've every had. Jon's molten chocolate cake was excellent - rich and not too sweet with a hot, creamy chocolate center. My tea, much unlike last week, was very hot and came in a miniature teapot so I could actually have a full cup and more if I so desired.

Service - our server and all of the other staff were wonderful. They were very quiet, attentive, and sincere.

Overall our dining experience was pleasant and we left mostly satisfied - I'd give it a B. However it wasn't a restaurant that had us dying to go back. There are so many fine-dining restaurants in this area and they all have SO much potential, but still, to this day, Earl's Prime is the ONLY one that has really impressed us. The other restaurants only need to make very small changes to become exceptional, and it's a little disappointing that they get away with charging the prices they do for being "almost" very good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Beef with Bok Choy, Garlic, and Red Peppers

This meal can be prepped and cooked in 25 minutes total - great for a quick dinner after a busy day!


  • 1 pound steak sliced into thin strips (if you have time, marinate it for an hour in soy sauce and Worcestershire)
  • 1/2 bunch of bok choy, washed thoroughly and cut into 1 inch pieces (white and green parts)
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 of an onion, chopped or sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • a few tablespoons of soy sauce and Worcestershire
  • a few shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 1 package dry gravy mixed with 1 cup of cold water
  • noodles or rice - whatever you prefer

  • Start to cook the steak in a large skillet or wok; when it's about halfway cooked, drain the fat
  • Add the soy sauce, Worcestershire, garlic, onions, red pepper flakes, red peppers, and the hard white sections of the bok choy.
  • Add the gravy, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add the leafy green pieces of the bok choy
  • Let simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Serve over rice or noodles.
We served this over cellophane noodles tonight and we both weren't too fond of them...they were a bit slimy and I felt a bit like I was on the show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (but I'm a bit weird with funky textures). If anyone knows of a better way of cooking the noodles other than the "soak in boiling water" method the package suggested, please let me know! The steak and veggies were great and next time I'd serve them over rice.

Update: Click here for an updated version of this recipe