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Skillet Biscuits With Berries

Nate discovered this recipe in my latest issue of Food and Wine and immediately begged me to make it.  This recipe is as simple as forming quick little buttery biscuits and placing them atop bubbling berries and allowing the steam to cook the biscuits through.  The biscuits are finished by placing them under the broiler for five minutes.  It was every bit as delicious as pie and a million times more simple.  You could make this in a pinch for unexpected guests with whatever fruit you had on hand.

Grilled Avocado & Corn Salad, Spicy Game Hen, and Melty Creme Fraiche Leeks Over Grilled Toast

Nate leaves for New York in a few days, so I wanted to make sure his last home-cooked meals were memorable. This evening, We grilled a game hen rubbed with smokey paprika, chile powder, garlic powder, and salt.

I also found a recipe from Not Without Salt , for a grilled avocado and corn salad. The avocados sure looked pretty with those grill marks! Next time, I would up the heat from the jalapeños and grill the corn instead of sautéing it in butter; may be even adding a small amount of red onion and an acid (cider vinegar or lime juice).

My favorite part of the meal were the leeks from our garden. They were slowly sautéed in butter until melty (about a half hour) and then I swirled in creme fraiche, salt and pepper. We spooned this mixture atop thick slices of grilled olive oil-brushed toast. Yum!

Baked Spinach & Broccoli Pasta Casserole

Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks has amazing recipes and this one caught my eye. I wanted to concoct a pasta dish without having to make an extra trip to the store. I had everything that I needed for Heidi’s recipe although I embellished it a little. I added a bit of anchovy paste to the spinach, I threw in broccoli and reduced the amount of pasta, added fresh bread crumbs to the top, and I liberally sprinkled red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese to the entire mixture.

Baked Pasta Casserole Recipe

From 101 Cookbooks


extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound whole wheat pasta shells
sea salt
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups well-chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, lightly toasted
zest of 2 lemons
8 ounces mozzerella, shredded or torn into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter/oil a large casserole dish or baking pan – something roughly equivalent to 13×9-inch pan.

Boil the pasta in salted water per package instructions. Drain pasta, toss with a glug of olive oil. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Saute the onions with a couple pinches of salt for a few minutes (or if you want a bit more depth of flavor until caramelized). Stir in garlic. Stir in spinach. Cook for just about 20 seconds, until the spinach collapses a bit. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the almonds and 1/2 of the zest. Add to pasta and stir and stir – mixing extremely well, a minute or so.

Now sprinkle the bottom of baking dish with the rest of the zest. Add a layer of the pasta to the bottom of the baking pan, now sprinkle with some of the cheese, add more pasta, then more cheese. Finish with a layer of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and melty. Serve sprinkled with the remaining almonds.

Serves 8.

Pork Wellington

I love pork, but sometimes I forget about it when concocting a dinner plan. It is lean, flavorful, and deliciously juicy as long as it’s cooked well.

Nate and I were watching an Alton Brown episode and we were both eagerly inspired to try his “pork wellington” recipe. It certainly did not disappoint.

Because I “accidentally” consumed all of the dried apples prior to dinner time, I changed the filling to caramelized onion and garlic. It was perhaps even better than the apples would have been! I still wrapped the pork in thyme and prosciutto. The puff pastry encasing the pork was perfectly buttery with a hint of mustard flavor. Next time, I would make a dijon sauce to accompany the pork.

I also chose to make a side of roasted wedges of brussels sprouts (toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper and place in the oven while the pork is cooking). The sprouts were fantastic when coated with the pork and onion juices!

Pork Wellington by Alton Brown

1 whole egg
1 tablespoon water
1-ounce dried apple rings
1 whole pork tenderloin, approximately 1 pound
4 1/2 ounces thinly slice prosciutto ham
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed completely
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat to 400 degrees F.

Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl and set aside. Place the apple rings into the bowl of a mini food processor and process for 30 to 45 seconds or until they are the size of a medium dice. Set aside.

Trim the pork tenderloin of any excess fat and silver skin. Slice the tenderloin down the middle lengthwise, creating 2 separate pieces. Lay the tenderloin pieces next to each other head to tail, so when laid back together they are the same size at the ends.

Lay out a 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment paper on the counter and arrange the pieces of prosciutto in the center, overlapping them enough to create solid layer that is as long as the tenderloin. Top with a second piece of parchment, and using a rolling pin, roll over the prosciutto to help adhere the pieces to each other. Remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the prosciutto with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Set the tenderloin down the middle of the prosciutto.

Spread the dried apples in between the 2 pieces of tenderloin and push back together so the apples are held between them.
Using the parchment paper to assist, wrap the prosciutto around the tenderloin to completely enclose in a package.

Sprinkle the counter with flour and roll out the pastry to 12 by 14 inches. Spread the mustard thinly in the center of pastry and lay the prosciutto wrapped tenderloin in the center of the pastry on the mustard. Fold the puff pastry up and over the top of the tenderloin, then roll to completely enclose, brushing the edges of the pastry with the egg wash in order to seal. Turn the tenderloin over so the side of the tenderloin with the double thickness of pastry is underneath. Pinch the ends of the pastry to seal.

Brush the entire pastry with the egg wash. Place the tenderloin on a parchment lined half sheet pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees F.

Remove the tenderloin from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Mushroom Ravioli with Garlic & Thyme Cream Sauce

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last posted! So let’s get back into gear with a meal that’s earthy and totally comforting, albeit a bit tedious to prepare. If you love mushrooms, you’ll love making your own homemade ravioli. Once you get the general idea down, it is tons of fun to create your own variations. The possibilities are endless!

Liisa’s Mushroom Ravioli with Garlic & Thyme Cream Sauce


1 medium sweet onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
chopped prosciutto
approx. 1 lb button or crimini mushrooms, cut in halves or quarters
1 package of dried porcini mushrooms
as much fresh thyme as you would like
about ½ cup white wine (I used a dry Saugignon Blanc)
salt and pepper to taste
about 1 cup ricotta (use more or less, depending on if you want more creaminess or more pure mushroom flavor)
parmesan cheese to taste
wonton wrappers

For the sauce:
heavy cream
chicken bouillion
mushroom juices
pepper to taste


1. Pour hot water over the dried mushrooms and allow to sit for 15 minutes, then strain.

2. Begin by sauteing the onion in some olive oil. Once it begins to become translucent, you can add the chopped garlic and prosciutto. Follow this with the button or crimini mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms begin to release their liquid and have softened. During this time, you can throw in as much fresh thyme as you would like (dried is fine too).

3. Turn up the heat a bit and pour in the white wine. Allow most of the alcohol to burn off and the flavors to absorb. Add in the re-constituted porcini mushrooms. Taste for salt.

4. Strain the mushroom mixture over a large bowl to catch the drippings (reserve for later) and puree the mushrooms in a food processor.

5. Put the processed mushrooms in a large bowl and stir in as much ricotta and parmesan as you would like. Taste again for salt and pepper.

6. To prepare the ravioli, take one wonton square, moisten its edges with a little water (just use a clean finger to do this), place a small dollop of the mushroom filling in the middle, and cover with a second wonton square. Now you can press the wonton edges together so that they seal and fold them over again on themselves. Do this with the rest of the filling and lay the ravioli on a lightly floured surface or parchment paper, taking care not to overlap them.

7. In a small sauce pan, make your cream sauce. Pour in heavy cream, some chopped garlic, fresh thyme sprigs (these can be removed before serving), one chicken bouillion cube, and as much or as little of the mushroom drippings. Bring this to a boil and then simmer over low heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

8. While you prepare the sauce, get a pot of lightly salted water to a nice, gentle boil. Once the water is boiling, add as many ravioli as can fit in your pot without overcrowding them (the pot I used only did 4 at a time). The pasta is done when the edges are fully translucent. Do a taste test of the first one to get a better idea of cooking time if you need to. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked ravioli to a plate. Spoon cream sauce over and enjoy!!

Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

If you are a garlic lover, you cannot help but devour this chicken dish. Luscious and creamy roasted garlic, browned chicken pieces, and white wine make for some knockout flavors.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Cook’s Illustrated

Table salt
1 whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks) and trimmed of excess fat. [I just made 10 pieces, wings included - why waste?]
Ground black pepper
3 large heads garlic (about 8 ounces), outer papery skins removed, cloves separated and unpeeled
2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered pole to pole
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
¾ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve ¼-cup salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken pieces in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse chicken pieces under running water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken pieces with pepper.

2. Meanwhile, toss garlic and shallots with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in 9-inch pie plate; cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking pan once to toss contents after 15 minutes (foil can be left on during tossing). Uncover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until browned and fully tender, 10 minutes longer, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

3. Using kitchen twine, tie together thyme, rosemary, and bay; set aside. Heat remaining 1-teaspoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl to coat pan with oil. Brown chicken pieces skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate and discard fat; off heat, add vermouth, chicken broth, and herbs, scraping bottom of skillet with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Set skillet over medium heat, add garlic/shallot mixture to pan, then return chicken, skin-side up, to pan, nestling pieces on top of and between garlic cloves.

4. Place skillet in oven and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers about 160 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, increase heat to broil and broil to crisp skin, 3 to 5 minutes. Using potholders or oven mitts, remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to serving dish. Remove 10 to 12 garlic cloves to mesh sieve and reserve; using slotted spoon, scatter remaining garlic cloves and shallots around chicken and discard herbs. With rubber spatula push reserved garlic cloves through sieve and into bowl; discard skins. Add garlic paste to skillet. Bring liquid to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate garlic; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in butter; pour sauce into sauceboat and serve.