Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dad's Birthday Dinner - Lots of Delicious Food!

My sister came home this weekend so we could celebrate our dad's birthday. We decided to cook and celebrate at my house.


To start: Corn Chowder, With or Without Crab, and With or Without Jalapeno Cream

Dinner: Filet Mignon with a Garlic-Shallot-Red Wine Sauce, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with a Parmesan Crisp, and Roasted Asparagus

Dessert: Homemade Chocolate Cake

Corn Chowder
My dad loves soup so I decided to start with soup instead of salad. I read through several corn chowder recipes just to get ideas, and then made up my own. It was the BEST soup I have ever made. Everyone loved it and my mom even commented that it was restaurant quality. I got some crab meat to stir into each bowl (instead of cooking it in the soup since we all don't like crab). I also made a jalapeno cream that a few of us drizzled on top for some heat and extra flavor. I had a hard time getting a clear picture, but you can still see how colorful it was.

Ingredients (for six servings)

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 stick butter plus 2 tbsp butter mixed with 1 tbsp flour
  • Cumin and cayenne, about 1/4-1/2 tsp each
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen corn and 1 14-oz can creamed corn
  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • Heat 1/2 stick butter in a soup pot. Add onions, green and red peppers, and celery. Saute about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add corn, creamed corn, broth, cream, and spices. Bring to a boil
  • Whisk in the butter-flour mixture and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, mix crab into each bowl if desired. Top with some jalapeno cream.

Jalapeno Cream

I found this recipe on as part of a roasted pepper soup recipe. I thought the cream would go nicely with the corn chowder and it did!


  • 3 fresh serrano chilies or jalapeños, seeded and chopped fine (I used 2 jalapenos)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt (I didn't use the salt)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (I used a little less than 1/2 cup sour cream)


  • In a blender blend together the chilies, the garlic paste, and the créme fraîche until the mixture is combined well.
  • Force the mixture through a fine sieve set over a small bowl (to remove the seeds)
  • The serrano cream may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and brought to room temperature before serving.
I have some cream leftover and I may mix it into my cream cheese chicken sauce tonight.



Jon cooked the filet the same way we did several weeks ago. We used Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon for the wine sauce.

Potatoes...I love potatoes. I never cook them because Jon doesn't like them! How can you not like potatoes? Anyway, tonight my sister and I made roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

  • Roast garlic by chopping off the top, drizzling with olive oil, wrapping in tin foil, and cooking in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. When done, mash each clove with a knife or spoon.
  • Cook potatoes in water until tender; we made about 3 pounds. Drain and move to a large mixing bowl or keep in the pot.
  • Start to mash the potatoes with your hand mixer; turn speed up and slowly add in 1/2 stick of butter, 1 cup of whole milk, 1-2 tbsp salt, and the roasted garlic. For creamier potatoes, use more milk or add in some heavy cream.

Parmesan Crisps

I topped each serving of potatoes with a parmesan crisp.

  • Mix 1 cup of parmesan cheese with 1 tsp flour.
  • Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray, and then cover with parchment paper.
  • Spoon some of the flour-cheese mixture on the paper, leaving about 2 inches between each spoonful. Press into a flat shape.
  • Bake on 400 for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely on the sheet.
  • These can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container using wax paper to separate the layers.

These little crisps looked nice on the plate and tasted great too. I'd make them for a salad as well.

Asparagus - we tossed the asparagus in a baking pan with olive oil, salt, and ground black pepper. About 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven is perfect.


I made a centerpiece for the table with branches and leaves I found in our front yard. Um...actually I cut a few branches off Jon's favorite shrub. It was so pretty with the floating candles and low lighting -


About an hour after dinner we enjoyed a chocolate cake that my sister made from scratch. Good thing she likes to bake because I probably would have bought a dessert :) As I've said before, I'm not a baker!! I hate measuring everything so precisely and not being able to play with the recipes. My sister made a delicious cake that was the perfect ending to a great birthday dinner for our dad. And after dinner we all sat down to watch the Red Sox-Cleveland game. Unfortunately the Red Sox ended up losing, but watching baseball with our dad is something we always enjoy!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Lemon-Dill Chicken - My Creation

I had some leftover fresh dill from the yogurt-dill dip I made last weekend so I decided to use it with chicken for dinner tonight. The results were great and Jon really loved this one. I'll be putting it on the list of things to make again.


  • 1 pound thinly sliced chicken breasts, or regular breasts pounded thin
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Cooking it..

  • Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 3 tbsp butter and the olive oil in a large saute pan.
  • Dredge chicken in flour, shake off excess, and put in the hot pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown (longer for thicker breasts). Remove to a dish and keep covered.
  • Add garlic and shallots to the pan and stir, scraping up the brown bits from the chicken.
  • Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and dill. Bring to a simmer.
  • Return chicken to the pan and cook on medium for 5 minutes.
  • Remove chicken again and keep warm.
  • Add butter to the pan and whisk until creamy. Pour sauce over the chicken.

I think I may try adding just a touch of light cream at the end next time for a different texture, but even with just the butter this sauce was very creamy.

I served the chicken with rice and roasted asparagus. Tonight I used salt, pepper, 3 cloves minced garlic, and olive oil on the asparagus.