Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bruschetta Chicken

Mmm... just the sound of it is good, isn't it? This was a creation I made this morning considering the very few groceries we have at the moment. We're going to Australia in less than a week so instead of re-stocking our fridge and pantry for just a week, we decided to get creative and give ourselves the challenge of using all the "odds & ends" that are left! It's turning out to SMELL delicious but like I said, I've only just put it on this morning and never made it before so I'll have to tell you tomorrow whether it's worth making or not! :D (judging by the smell and the fabulous ingredients, it'll be worth it so I'm going to tell you what I did anyways)

So here we go! I'm only cooking for two tonight so we didn't need many ingredients... judge yours accordingly! Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of your crock pot, just enough to make sure the chicken breasts don't stick. Lightly drizzle some balsamic vinegar with the olive oil. Salt and pepper!
Place the chicken breasts in and place 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon on top. If you just have cubes, those will work fine. Now, chop up 1 onion and place it all over the top of the chicken. These will really help season the meat. Let's spoon some bruschetta over the top of the onions. If you want to make your own bruschetta, all you'll need is some diced tomatoes, some basil, garlic, olive oil and some italian herbs.... mix it all together and there ya go! Spoon it on top! I used probably 8-10 heaping tablespoons worth.
Now let's add those baby carrots. We really want the carrots to soak in the juices of the tomatoey bruschetta... carrots take on other flavors so well.
Dicing your potatoes is an okay option if you'd rather, but I decided to scallop mine for pretty's sake. Then just layer them all on top!
Now mince your 2 garlic cloves and spread it over the potatoes. Lightly drizzle a little more oil all over and salt and pepper... done! I set mine for 8 hours on LOW.
Now when this is done and I serve it tonight, probably the only things that would make it EVEN BETTER would be to drizzle some freshly squeezed lemon juice over each serving and top with a little parmesan reggiano or grated romano cheese. (and pour yourself a nice glass of vino to go with it) ;) Like I said, I don't know whether this is going to taste great yet or not so stay tuned! But c'mon, read the ingredients... how could it not be good? :) I'll be sure to let you know shortly!

Oh and friends! In case you missed yesterday's SECOND post, head on over to learn how to comment and become a follower of Recitherapy!

LOVE YOU GUYS! Happy eating!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to ...

Hi friends... this will be a quick post just to show you how to comment and join this site. I've gotten a LOT of you saying, "I don't know how to become a follower of your blog and I can't figure out how to leave a comment!" Let me clear this up as well... you don't have to be a "follower" to leave a comment.

Let me show you! It's really simple.

Let's start with becoming a "follower." When you open Recitherapy, there's a bar over on the right hand side that has a bunch of people's photos right?
Well above all of those photos, there's a blue bar with white letters that says, "Join This Site." Click that!
It will take you to a page that says, "sign in with an existing account that you already have, ie google, yahoo, twitter, etc." If you have a google or yahoo mail account or you have a twitter account, just click on whichever button describes what you have, and sign in to the window that pops up... that will make you a member! If you don't have a google, yahoo, twitter, etc account, there's a little blue link that says "don't already have an existing account, create a new google account." Click it and follow the steps! All done! Now you're an official "follower!" :) Welcome.
Now let's talk about commenting. Down at the bottom of every post, there's a spot for commenting. If you find yourself wanting to say something about the recipe, or ask a question, whatever, click on the little colored text that says "0 comments" or "2 comments" whatever the case may be. When you put your mouse over it, the letters will turn a different color, letting you know that it's a clickable link that will take you to a text box that you can leave a comment in.
(see it? right next to "posted by sidney at...")
After you've clicked that, you'll see the white text box and then you'll see a "post comment" button. Once you've typed what you want, click it and it'll take you right back to Recitherapy and you'll see your post! Done! :) Easy!

Hope this helps you out, friends! Now that you know what you're doing, comment away at me! :) I'd love to hear from you!

Now head back over to today's REAL POST... Potato Soup! :)

Lots of love!

Sid 's Potato Soup

That's right! It's cold outside and I have too many potatoes... time to make soup! I woke up to an e-mail this morning asking if I had a fabulous Potato Soup recipe, and sure enough, I DO! So Kacey, here you go, friend! Enjoy and let me know how yours turns out! Now, this recipe might be slightly annoying for those of you who don't have a Vitamix or a food processor but using an electric mixer will work just fine. For those of you that DO have a Vitamix, rock on and we'll do the secret handshake later. ;) But really, it'll make you fall even MORE in love with your Vitamix if you haven't made soup in it yet.. just wait!

So depending on how many you're making soup for and if it's going to be your main course or not, judge your number of potatoes and your other ingredient amounts accordingly... this soup is good the second day but it's GREAT the first day. See if you can judge it just right so that there's no leftovers. I just made it for James and I as a starter to our full meal so I think I only used 3 large potatoes and minimal amounts of cheese, butter, cream, etc. (and we still had leftovers.. fail)

Here's what you'll need: (hopefully you have it all already... they're pretty basic ingredients, which is why i love this soup as an easy 'go to' option)

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled. (i actually like to leave some of the skin on every time i peel potatoes just because i think it makes for prettier photos so just ignore my poor peeling job.. it was purposeful) :)
  • Heavy Cream, Half & Half or Whole Milk... you could use skim but your soup will just be watery and totally lifelessly unexciting. just deal with the calorie thing in your mind, really.. get over it for the sake of great soup.
  • Salted Butter (room temperature is easier if you are not using a Vitamix or food processor)
  • White Cheddar Cheese... Cabot or Cracker Barrel are winners, they melt so beautifully.
  • Celery Stalks, leafy bits included!
  • Chicken Bouillon Cubes... not too many though, butter and white cheddar are salty already.
  • Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Black Pepper
  • Sea Salt (regular salt will do also but there's something so great about finding an occasional whole sea salt granule in your spoon of soup)

For the optional garnishing Basil Oil: (not photographed... apologies! also not necessary, this soup is great stand alone but it's easy and super super delicious)

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Here we go... Start boiling water for your potatoes. While that's getting hot, peel and chop your potatoes. Chop your cheese, butter and celery... (for those of you not using a food processor, finely chop your celery.. the smaller the pieces, the softer they'll get when you cook them and then they'll be easier to blend with your mixer) Throw the potatoes in the boiling water and let them boil until they're soft.
While these are boiling, let's make the basil oil. Puree the basil leaves and the oil in your Vitamix or blender until smooth. Simmer it in a small saucepan for 5-10 minutes, and stir it often so it doesn't burn anywhere. Then pour through a fine mesh strainer into a pretty little bowl. Basil oil done! In another pot, stir the butter, cheese, cream, garlic and chicken bouillon cubes until it's all nice, thick and blended. (if you're not using a Vitamix, add your celery pieces here as well and cook a bit longer until the celery starts to get soft) Add in your sea salt and pepper to taste.
Now your potatoes should be getting soft! Drain your potatoes and put them into your Vitamix! No need to let them get cool. Take your creamy mixture and pour it right into the Vitamix with the potatoes and add your celery! Blend away! I like mine smooth so I put it on the 'high' setting at about 2 or 3. Remember, your potatoes should still be piping hot from cooking and the Vitamix is whipping that stuff around so fast it's only adding to the heat, so don't worry about keeping that pot warm for reheating. You'll be able to serve it hot right out of the Vitamix. If you're not using a Vitamix, place the softened potatoes in the creamy mixture and start to mash the potatoes with a wooden spoon. Then get our your electric mixer and mix mix mix away... You should be able to get it to a smooth texture no problem now that your celery has had some time to cook. But don't worry if you still see a few chunks of whole celery in there, texture is good too! Now taste it and make sure it's seasoned enough for you... add salt and pepper accordingly then dish it out! Before serving, take a little spoon to your freshly made basil oil and drizzle it right in the center of each cup or bowl of soup. (notice i said a little spoon.. this stuff is potent so use it sparingly) If you must, top it with a little dollop of sour cream first, then the oil. :) And then pepper it for looks... really it makes it so much prettier. Garnish the side with the pretty, leafy tops of a celery stalk and you're done!
Not the most impressive of recipes today but it's a keeper! It's a good staple to have right? :) Cozy up tonight, turn on a good flick or break out that book you've been meaning to read and enjoy this delicious potato soup. You'll have a nice big smile on your face after every bite.

Keep the photos and questions coming, you guys! I LOVE getting them!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

I hope everyone had the best Thanksgiving weekend and was blessed (and stuffed) beyond! We had a fabulous time with all the family and finally drove home to Nashville yesterday... hence the couple of days that I wasn't blogging. ;) ANYWAYS, we're home now and I've got A LOT to fill you in on!

Two days ago my friend Brandy and I hosted a couple's kitchen shower for our dear friends Holly & Ben... what a BLAST! Naturally, I volunteered to bake all the sweets for the party... you know me. We decided on mini apple pies, that were oh, perfect, and chocolate truffle cheesecake. It may not have been the most appropriate "lite" dessert for the middle of the day but, I needed a dark chocolate-y colored dessert as an excuse to use my edible gold dusting powder. ;)
(so pretty right?)
After quite a few requests at the shower, I've decided to let you in on the BEST EVER chocolate cheesecake recipe. I've slowly adapted it over the years to make it my own, but the original, fabulous recipe is Hershey's... can't go wrong! Get ready, you will NOT be satisfied with just one piece! So let's dive into it...

What you'll need:

  • 3 packages regular cream cheese (8 oz. packages)
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup dark chocolate morsels
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 9 inch springform pan (if you don't have one, they're pretty inexpensive and most grocers carry them in the 'baking needs' aisle)

Chocolate Crumb Crust:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups vanilla wafer cookies (crushed)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup Hershey's cocoa (i prefer dark but regular works fine)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (salted or unsalted)
(vanilla wafers not photographed, my apologies)

So let's make the crumb crust first. Crush up your cookies, pour them into a medium sized bowl and mix with your cocoa, powdered sugar and melted butter. Then press it all into the bottom of your closed and locked springform.
 (yeah, i used a nut chopper! it worked perfectly and even told me when i reached 1 & 1/2 cups!)
 (don't be confused by this photo. all i did was transfer the crushed wafers into my 2 cup measuring cup, knowing that the wafers were 1 & 1/2 cup and all i needed was 1/2 cup of powdered sugar)
Okay, now that your crust is done, set it aside and preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Let's make the filling! Get out your bigger, microwave safe mixing bowl and pour in both cups of the chocolate morsels. Melt them! (word to the wise: you don't want to burn your chocolate, which is easy to do, so set the microwave to 30 seconds at a time, and stir after each time... you should go through 3 or 4 rounds of this)
Now add in the 3 blocks of cream cheese and the entire can of sweetened condensed milk. Blend with your electric mixer.
Now add in your eggs and blend it all together WELL. Add the vanilla extract and blend for the last time... that's it!
Now let's pour it into the prepared crumb pan.
(if you want to be totally crazy like me, just take a spoon to that stuff! oh man, who needs to bake it?)
Okay let's bake it.. if we must! ;) Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes. What you want to look for is when you slightly jiggle the pan, the center doesn't look too liquid-y. If the top starts to crack on the edges a little, that's okay too, not to worry! Now take it out and let cool for a good hour or two. Then refrigerate for a couple of hours before enjoying it. If you're reading this and flipping out because you made it a little last minute and people are coming over to your place in 3 hours, it's okay, it'll still taste great, breathe. Honestly, that's what I normally do. However the cream cheese does set really nicely if it has some time to cool in the fridge and then get room temperature again before you serve it.
(that's what it should look like outta the oven. the slight sinking in the center is normal so don't worry if yours is like that too)

The BEST way to enjoy this cheesecake, in my opinion, is by spreading an entire box of fresh raspberries all over the top and dusting with powdered sugar.
However, I did serve it just by itself for the shower and it was a hit... so whatever your fancy! Also be sure to brew a pot of coffee... you're gonna want it. :)
Hope you all make this and totally die over it! It's definitely an easy recipe with impressive, fancy results... I recommend it as the perfect holiday party table centerpiece!

Enjoy sweet friends, and I'll talk to you tomorrow!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! Grape Leaves

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope everyone has woken up to a home full of joy and thankfulness and is READY for the cooking, baking, praying, eating, laughing and cleaning up to begin! I for sure am and I'm so grateful I'm able to celebrate this beautiful holiday with my family... what a blessing!

Ok, so I know it's Thanksgiving and you're probably in your pj's wondering why you're still sitting at your computer when you have corn souffle and stuffing yet to cook... so I'm not going to keep you long! I'm going to give you the quick, part two installment of yesterday's post... how to make Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves! If you've been looking for a little something to spice up your holiday meals, I hope you'll give these a try, they're SO worth the work and they're oh so tasty! Here we go!

What you'll need:

  • 1 or 2 jars grape leaves in brine - 1 or 2 depending on how many people you're having for dinner. Each jar usually contains 30-40 leaves. We used 6 jars or something crazy like that so don't be overwhelmed with the photos. ;)
  • ground beef - the amount depends on how many jars of leaves you're using.. you'll probably need 2 pounds to start with.
  • uncooked white rice- 1 cup rice per pound of beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt- per pound of beef
  • 1 teaspoon pepper- per pound of beef
  • juice of 8-10 lemons
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, pounded
Now, these seem trickier than they are so don't get overwhelmed too soon! Let's walk through it step by step!

  • Mix together the ground beef with the uncooked white rice, salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands as to not leave any big bunches of salt or pepper in one place. Remember, the rule is one cup of rice to every one pound of meat. And 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper to every one pound of meat.
  • Take the grape leaves out of the jar and lay them in a colander in the sink.
  • Lay out paper towels in an open counter space area.
  • Carefully peel away one leaf at a time from the bunch and rinse the brine off.
  • Lay the leaf on the paper towels, veiny side up, unfolding all the pieces off of itself so that it lays flat nicely. (veiny side up so that when you stuff them and roll them, the pretty front of the leaf is showing)
  • Remove the stems.
  • Now roll a chunk of meat in your hand, about 1 & 1/2 inch long (depending on leaf size) and place at the base of the leaf.
  • Carefully, start to wrap the bottom, then fold in the left side, fold in the right side and continue rolling while gently pushing down to finish rolling the leaf around the meat.
  • Place in a stock pot, no water or seasoning. (yet!) :)
  • Continue rolling each grape leaf and laying in the bottom of the stock pot. Once you have just covered the bottom of the pot, one grape leaf deep, lightly salt and pepper that layer and start to pile the next ones on top of the others going in the other direction. This is to ensure that all the air and juices can get to each grape leaf!
  • Once you've reached the top of your pot or you've made what you think is enough, place an inverted plate on top of the grape leaves. (no lid, just the inverted plate)
  • Now take the pot over to the sink and fill the pot with water until you see the water just meet the plate. Cook on 'low' for about 2 hours, or until the water is mostly cooked down.
  • After this is done, remove the inverted plate with tongs or kitchen gloves (the plate will be piping hot).
  • Now pour the juice of the lemons and the pounded garlic all over the grape leaves, making sure to get it into all the spaces!
  • Continue to cook this on low, now with the lid partially on for about another 2 hours, or until the skin of the leaves is tender.
  • You're done! Serve by themselves, with hummus, or with anything and everything else on your Thanksgiving table!
If you need to see the first steps photos from yesterday's post, click here.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do! They are a tradition for us and and it's an authentic original recipe from Tata. I can promise you this... you won't find better grape leaves anywhere in the world! You can hold me to it. :)

Friends, let's go enjoy our families. Let's go enjoy our blessings of food, and comfort and laughter... let's go enjoy cooking!

Jesus, THANK YOU for all that you've given us... we are humbled, happy and so so grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, you guys and happy eating! xo

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hodge Podge . . . Thanksgiving

Well hello again, friends! Can you believe TOMORROW is Thanksgiving?! I actually can't! I feel like yesterday I was just rolling down the windows of my car so I could feel the sprinklers because it was so hot! Now all of the sudden there's rolls of Christmas tree wrapping paper everywhere and we're making food for 18 people! I totally love it. Thanksgiving is a VERRRRYYY close second favorite holiday to Christmas for me. It's joy-filled, it's family oriented, and best of all, it's a really good excuse to go haywire and make a ton of food!

Being that our family is Lebanese, we like to go a little non-traditional for Thanksgiving and make all sorts of strange goodies... meat pies, hummus, grape leaves, etc. Today I'm going to give you a look into what it's like to make grape leaves.. if you're not too overwhelmed, check back tomorrow morning and I'll give you the full recipe. We're still in the process of making them as I'm posting this so I can't give you ALL the full effect photos until then. By the way, tomorrow, I'll be blogging over at my sweet friend Jessi's blog, Naptime Diaries , so you'll have to check it out and show her some love! :) Thanks, Jessi for allowing me the privilege of writing to YOUR readers on YOUR blog, such an honor!

Also before I start showing you the grape leaves photos, I have to just show you some fun, interesting, good, bad and disturbing/ disappointing things I discovered via The Fresh Market... in hopes that you will and won't get sucked in to them in time for your family Thanksgiving meal tomorrow!
 TURKDUCKEN? Are you JOKING? People, there's GOT to be laws against something so seemingly gross SOMEWHERE in the world.... how are you supposed to enjoy the taste or consistency of ANY of them, not to mention be proud of serving something that LOOKS like that? Think I just threw up.
 Turkey or Christmas tree shaped butter... WIN! Why not? It'll add something fun and unusual to your holiday table! Well done here, TFM!
 Not cool. You guys know my whole "thing" is that cooking is therapeutic. How are you supposed to feel any kind of real satisfaction or spend any real time relaxing in the kitchen if all the work is done for you? It doesn't have to be hard or fast to chop your own vegetables.... take your time! Enjoy it! Don't buy them pre-chopped.. at least not for Thanksgiving. :)
 This idea is a win! Actually, I have a few photos of my own to share with you in agreement with this appetizer plate page. Why not make a fancy little cheese plate for your family and guests before you chow down on the whole meal? Just because it's not typical Thanksgiving food doesn't mean people won't enjoy it! It'll just add something a little "special" and fancy to your countertops! Here's what we like to do and will do tomorrow.
Buttered Roasted Fig toast, Mediterranean Cheddar, Feta, Boursin Goat cheese spread sprinkled w/ fresh herbs, Vermont White Cheddar, black olives, sea salt & olive oil crackers and a few chunks of almond dark chocolate!
 That baked brie looks pretty delicious... oddly enough, that's something I would buy pre-done from them and proudly serve for our Thanksgiving appetizers tomorrow! Maybe a little overpriced but, it is brie after all.

The Fresh Market, thanks (and no thanks) for enlightening us with really great things for the holiday season! Now on to the grape leaves process! A special thanks to Mom, Dad, Austin, Cass, Abbey, Andrew and James for all their hard work in this crazy undertaking! (and for allowing me to photograph you every five seconds) ;) These are a LOT of work... but they are SO worth it in the end. I'm so thankful Tata always took the time to make these and show us how to do them just like she did. What an inspiration she was and still is to all of us.... Jesus, we are SO THANKFUL for Tata... THANK YOU!
 Prepping the ground beef! Add uncooked white rice, salt and pepper.
 Paper towels laid out for drying and prepping to roll.
 Rinsing the leaves of the brine they soak in.
 Hot husband and cousins helping.
 That's only half full!
 Salt and pepper each layer.
 Mom and James rolling away!
 Really, seriously... nothing's hotter than a man in the kitchen.

Doesn't this look so fun!? (i know right, some of you are thinking, "lady are you serious? no. not fun.") It really is! Especially if you can get the whole family in on it like we did! Why not try something totally different this year and give it a crack? If you only buy one jar of grape leaves it's not that daunting.... we just did SIX jars... because we're crazy! So don't see these photos and think it's a monster of a project. It's really great fun and the taste will actually blow your mind.... more to come tomorrow over at Naptime Diaries so if you need a little Thanksgiving inspiration, come on over! :)

Love you guys! ENJOY this time of preparation and good smelling treats wafting from your oven!