Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yes, I'm still alive :) Season your steaks! Check out this marinade that you'll love :)

I should have put a vacation reply message on my blog to let you all know that I'd be back!  June is probably the craziest month of the year for us wedding professionals and I haven't had one moment to breathe!  Or cook for that matter!  And definitely no time to blog.  But, my hubby's schedule is starting to regulate a bit now and though I'm still just a crazy- we've gotta eat :-)  So, I've been cooking again....well, I've been grilling again I should say.  I love SUMMER!  Easy grilling recipes, easy clean-up and lots of Bells Oberon to accompany all that easy cooking and easy eating.

One of the things I'm most known for in my family is the way I season meats, specifically steak.  I have a very strong opinion regarding meats and poultry---seasoning enhances the flavor, so don't be shy. I cannot stand a steak that just has a dash of salt and 2 sprinkles of pepper.  Bleh!  I don't mean cover the meats flavor, but I do mean bring out the natural flavors. I had the best steak when I was in Italy and both times I visited I tried to taste the steak to get a sense of what was on it.  I'm not sure I've even come close to what they did, it was perfection, but I'm close! :) I know you'll love the flavor as well.  The following recipe is what I use for steak, but it can be used on chicken and in a burger mix as well.  I usually triple or quadruple the recipe and make a little squeeze bottle of this mixture and use it for a few weeks as we're grilling all of our favorites.  I've marinated chicken wings in a big ol' batch of this as well and they are soooo good!  But honestly, this will be the best steak you've ever eaten.  From Skirt Steak to Ribeye to a will love it. 

On a side note, when you buy your Porterhouse, Ribeye or T-bone steaks have the butcher cut the steak in the cooler in half horizontally, making it a thin steak.  Much cheaper and it really takes on marinades and seasoning so much better.  It's how the Italians do it and I've never liked steak more than when it's a thin cut.  And, 2 steaks can now feed a family of 4!  Can't beat that.

Housepitalities Steak Marinade

-1 teaspoon Salt
-1/2 teaspoon Pepper
-1 teaspoon Herbs d'Provence or italian herb mixture
-1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
-1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
-2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
-1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
-1 large Garlic clove- grated
-1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary
-1 tablespoon Olive Oil

It's simple!  Mix all of this in a bowl and rub into steak or poultry.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes at room temp or marinate poultry for 2-3 hours.  Grill to desired temp.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Live Lettuce Caesar Salad with Crunchy Shallots

It's Friday night and you'd think I'd be relaxing and trying to gear up for the 3 weddings I have this weekend!  But, alas, the guilt of not blogging lately is getting to me!  I have a few excuses.... #1 I went on vacation to visit my mom for 6 days and laid by a pool drinking Skinny Girl Margaritas for 5 of the 6 days.  There was no cooking what so ever on that vacay.  None. 

Excuse #2 is that my hubby, my best friend in the whole world, the person I live to cook for- is on a HORRIBLE schedule right now that almost always has us spending dinner time apart.  :(   We are missing each other terribly and I think he is missing my cooking even more!  I am missing my cooking as well, but cooking for one just isn't as fun.  My creative juices just aren't flowing without my muse. ;)  But, today I did make a huge batch of my Christmas Pasta (yes, in May) with peas and chicken and vodka sauce.  I wanted to have something normal for him to eat while I'm working all weekend.  I'm afraid the cop diet may take over so I want to make sure he is eating right. 

Anyway, I digress.  I try really hard to cook when he has days off and I made an amazing take on a Caesar salad the other day that I just had to share.  It's quick and easy and has a few twists that will turn this classic on it's ear.   First- I used Live Organic Lettuce, which usually comes in a plastic box like container and still has it's roots attached.  It's so buttery, soft and crunchy all at the same time.  It reminds me of picking lettuce from my grandparents garden growing up, and you REALLY can tell the difference.  It's like eating a salad that Mother Nature made for you.  Corny?  Try it, then tell me that you didn't think the exact same thing when you took your first bite.

Secondly, I made homemade garlic croutons with a garlic bulb ciabatta that I bought at the bakery.  But, any ciabatta or crusty, day old bread will do.  It was super easy to make croutons and they are crunchy with a little soft texture in the center, unlike the ones you get in the store.  Intoxicating-ly good!  And, the most irresistible addition-- I made crunchy shallots to top it with.  Seriously, this salad was, well, OFF the hook! :)  Can't wait to make it again.  Next time I may add shrimp or chicken or maybe even some skirt steak. 

Housepitalities Live Lettuce Caesar Salad

  • 1 head of Organic Live Lettuce
  • 1 loaf of Garlic Bulb Ciabatta
  • 2 large Shallots
  • 2 tablespoons of Flour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Your favorite high quality, creamy Caesar Dressing

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut ciabatta loaf into large-bite-size pieces and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Roast for 10 minutes, turn pieces and roast for another 8-10 minutes until golden brown.  Slice shallots into rings and toss into the flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in pan and fry shallots for about 3-5 minutes on medium heat until browned and crispy.  Remove and let them drain on paper towel.  Cut and wash lettuce and place in a large salad bowl.  Toss with croutons and a few tablespoons of your favorite Caesar dressing.  Top with crispy shallots.



Garlic Bulb Ciabatta Croutons

Housepitalities Live Lettuce Caesar Salad w. Crunchy Shallots

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Manly Mike's Chicken Tortilla Soup

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone :)  Manly Mike is back with his super authentic Tortilla Soup recipe.  Unfortunately, the 5th of May falls on a Friday this year and my duties on Friday during wedding season do not include cooking!  So, I'm gonna try and whip this up on Sunday and drink a corona to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a few days late AND celebrate my impending trip to Dallas to visit my mom.  I'm probably going to get my fill of Mexican fare while I'm there....BUT!  I cannot get enough Mexican food, so I'll consider it a warm up/apperitivo :)

Manly Mike's Chicken Tortilla Soup

My favorite cuisine is definitely Mexican, not the kind you’d find at Taco Bell or even a slightly better chain like a Chipotle or a Baja Fresh.  I’m always looking for the authentic stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, a crispy taco with lettuce and tomato is fine, but if I can find a tacos al pastor (pork) with wrapped in a double soft corn tortilla topped with just chopped onions, cilantro, and a touch of lime, I’m in heaven.  I was spoiled with two work trips to a city in central Mexico, San Louis Potosí, far from the tourists on the coasts.  I stayed in the Holiday Inn Express, which had a restaurant – I was not expecting much, but everything I had was awesome.  My favorite dish in my two weeks there was the tortilla soup that I tried on a whim because I had a $25 food per diem and I was trying to get to that limit.  When I came back, I tried to find one like it, but nothing I found was remotely close, so I went about trying to recreate it.  I found a general one in a cookbook and added a few things, tinkered here and there and this finalized recipe is very close to that original. 

·         6 cups chicken broth (I just use bouillon cubes, tastes the same to me at 1/4 of the price)
·         1 medium onion, finely chopped
·         1 ½ pounds of chicken, thigh or breast, cut into ½ -inch cubes
·         Juice of two limes
·         6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
·         Dried pepper paste (I used this in my chili recipe and it is perfect here.  Take two dried and de-seeded chile peppers, I used one chipotle and one ancho, and quickly toast both sides on a screaming hot pan until they blister.  Plunge into about a cup of water for about 15 minutes to hydrate.  In a food processor, completely blend the peppers in the water.)
·         ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
·         1 can, hominy
·         olive oil
·         salt and pepper

·         1 avocado, cut into 1/2 –inch cubes
·         8 oz of crumbly Mexican style cheese, such as queso fresco, cut into ½-inch cubes (this cheese won’t melt in the soup)
·         Tortilla strips (I make mine fresh by cutting corn tortillas into strips and quickly frying them to a light golden brown, and adding salt right when you take them out of the oil)
·         Sour cream

·         In a large saucepan, heat about 2 Tbls of olive oil over medium-high heat, stir in the onion until it just starts to sweat, then throw in the garlic.  Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 7 minutes or so.  Increase the heat, push the vegetables to the side, add about another 1 Tbls of olive oil and toss in the chicken, stirring until golden (about 5-7 minutes).  Add the dried pepper paste (you might want to add about half at first to make sure the soup is not two spicy, adding more to your taste later).  Then stir in the chicken broth and hominy.  Lower heat to simmer for about 15 minutes and skim off any foam.  Stir in half of the cilantro and all of the lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
·         Place avocado cubes, cheese cubes, and a small amount of tortilla strips in a bowl.  Ladle soup over, adding more tortilla strips and fresh cilantro on the top.  Add a dollop of sour cream and sit back and relax with my favorite Mexican beer, Negra Modelo.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Open Faced Tuna and Caper Sammy's

Wow!  I've really been slacking with the blogging lately :(  Sorry....but you know when you just don't feel up to cooking and your job takes over?  Well, it's been that kind of month.  Even those of us who love to cook sometimes feel un-inspired or want to eat out every night of the week! ;)  You can't blame me, can you?  We all need a break sometimes.

But!  I'm back.  With an easy spring time lunch that you'll love.  Well, that you'll love if you love a good tuna sammy!  If you hate tuna, this post isn't for you.  I love open faced sandwiches and I love this tuna and caper sandwich on toasted multi-grain bread with oooey-gooey melted gruyere.  The capers give it a salty flavor that replaces traditional pickle relish or pickle juice that your grandma probably puts in her tuna salad.  And the crunchy wheat bread gives it great texture against the creamy cheese and tart tuna salad.

Yum!  You have to try this one out on a rainy spring day with some warm soup.  You'll love it! :)

Housepitalities Open Faced Tuna and Caper Sammy's
(serves 4)

-1 can of HIGH QUALITY Tuna (filet) in water
-2 tablespoons Capers & 1 teaspoon Caper juice from the jar
-Half of a Red Onion, finely diced
-2 tablespoons Mayo
-1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-4 large slices of Multi-Grain Bread
-1/2 cup freshly grated Gruyere Cheese

Toast slices of bread on low broil with a little drizzle of olive oil. Drain tuna of all water and add Capers, Caper juice, Onion, Mayo and seasonings.  Mix well and slather on pre-toasted bread.  Top with Gruyere and broil for about 3 minutes or so, or until cheese is melted.  I like to spread a little bit of grainy mustard on top of mine, but that's optional ;)

ENJOY!  Happy spring.....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Segment on Channel 7 WXYZ

Here are some shots of my easter segment on WXYZ this morning/Sunday.  Also, the recipes for the Deviled Eggs are listed below as well.

Happy Easter!


Classic Deviled Eggs
12 large eggs
Ice water
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper
Paprika, for dusting

In a large pot, arrange the eggs in a single layer and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and remove from the heat; let stand for 10 minutes. Drain, then cover the eggs with ice water. Let stand until cool to the touch.
Peel the eggs, halve lengthwise and scoop the yolks into a medium bowl, reserving the egg whites. Mash the yolks with the mayonnaise, mustard and cayenne; season with salt and black pepper. Spoon the yolk mixture into the egg white halves and dust with paprika.

Bacon and Chive Deviled Eggs
12 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 slices of cooked crumbled bacon
2 tablespoons finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
Salt & Pepper – to taste
paprika for garnish (optional)

In a large pot, arrange the eggs in a single layer and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and remove from the heat; let stand for 10 minutes. Drain, then cover the eggs with ice water. Let stand until cool to the touch.
Cut peeled eggs in half length wise and place yolks in a mixing bowl, set the whites aside. Mash the yolks with the back of a fork and add mayonnaise, crumbled bacon, cheddar, dijon and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon or pipe the filling back into egg white and sprinkle with paprika.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Deviled Eggs with Curry
12 large hard-boiled eggs, shelled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced green onion or chives
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
In a large pot, arrange the eggs in a single layer and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and remove from the heat; let stand for 10 minutes. Drain, then cover the eggs with ice water. Let stand until cool to the touch
Cut hard-boiled eggs lengthwise in half. Scoop yolks into medium bowl. Mash yolks with fork. Add mayonnaise, minced green onion and curry powder; mix well. Season yolk mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Divide filling among egg halves, mounding slightly. Arrange eggs on platter. Sprinkle with minced parsley.  Serve cold.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese

I made pulled pork sandwiches tonight and they were so DELISH.  Stuffed a tenderloin with about 15 garlic cloves, seasoned it just right and let it bathe in 2 cups of some incredible sauce in the crock pot for about 6-8 hours while I did laundry and caught up with my DVR.  This actually isn't a recipe for that pulled pork, but that pulled pork made me think of another recipe I've had on standby for a while.  Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese....yummy! You guys are gonna love this.  After eating tonight I was trying figure out what to blog about and I instantly thought of the creamy, spicy take on mac and cheese that I made a few weeks ago.  It made me wish I had whipped up a batch today to go with the super yummy bbq, it would have been the perfect pairing. Oh well, I'll think of it the next time around.

BUT!  Now, you've got the secret to this perfect pairing.  While you're letting that pork tenderloin bathe away, you can whip up this decadent, flavor packed mac and cheese that will turn your thoughts of mac and cheese upside down.  This isn't for your kids, unless of course they like a little kick---and I do mean little kick---it's really not that spicy, but it's spicy enough to scratch that itch for a spicy craving.  Whip this up for your spouse on a Sunday afternoon or take this to the next pot luck at work.  I'm not kidding, people will applaud you.  My husband LOVED this version of mac and cheese and has already asked me to make it again.  I'm sort of obsessed with cheese and more so with spicy, peppery cheeses.  Always looking for a new use, new interpretation, new recipe that can highlight these under-used cheeses.  This came about on a snowy day when all I had was an over sized block of Pepper Jack and some lonely pasta that had been staring at me in the cupboard.  Look at what can happen when your desperate, hungry and trapped. ;)

OH!  And, don't be intimidated by the cheese sauce.  It's a simple recipe of 2x2x2x2.  2 cups half and half, 2 cups Pepper Jack Cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour.  SUPER SIMPLE.

-1 pound or 1 box of Cavatappi, Penne or ridged pasta
-2 cups of Pepper Jack Cheese, freshly shredded if possible
-2 cups of Half and Half
-2 tablespoons Butter
-2 tablespoons Flour
-1/2 cup of bread crumbs
-Salt and Pepper

Directions: (serves 4)
Boil the pasta in salted water for about 10-12 minutes until al-dente.  In a separate saute' pan, melt the butter and add the flour, whisking till combined.  Add the half and half and simmer on medium-high (be patient) and let it come to a rapid boil, stirring often so it doesn't burn. Once boiling, remove from heat and stir in the cheese slowly and season with salt and pepper.  Toast the bread crumbs in a pan on low or even warm them in the microwave to get them to temp...about 1 minute.

Drain the pasta and add the cheese sauce to the pasta.  Mix well and serve in large pasta bowls.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and some fresh herbs and voila!  So good.

Top this with chicken and you would have another week night meal :). Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Manly Mike's Spinach Pie

Hey everyone!  Manly Mike is back ;)  This time with a Greek Favorite....and as you know, I'm a Greek gal and I love my Greek food.  Mike, however, is not Greek at all, so when he announced that he was bringing Spinach Pie as his contribution to our NYE dinner, I thought "wow, now that takes some guts to bring Spinach Pie to a Greek girls house".  I actually didn't just think it, I said it out loud to Mike, and I think his exact words in response were "well, Jen, you've got a point". :)  But, it was too late!  He was committed and I have to say he looked nervous upon serving it.  But, it was tasty and flaky and golden brown and the party goers loved it.  This thing was so gorgeous we took like 40 paparazzi pics of it when it made it's debut from the oven.  But again, not only was it gorgeous, it was truly tasty.  Mom!  This is not a Greek Spinach Pie, it's a different interpretation, but it's very reminiscent of the Greek version and has it's own personality.  Greek folks, just ignore the cottage cheese and cream cheese. It'll be alright, breathe deeply into a paper bag and try this recipe Manly Mike's will love the American twist.

It should be said that the blog owner does not agree with any of the forthcoming statements about any Food Network stars as listed in Mike's blog post.  I personally aspire to be the most conceited chef on the Food Network and would love to travel around the country schooling people on their signature dishes.  It would be a dream come true. Thank you. ;-)

Manly Mike's Spinach Pie

Spring is on the way, which means the family Easter party is right around the corner.  Are you tired of the same ole’ same ole’ family dishes?  Do you wish that Aunt Gertrude would bring something other than her green bean casserole?  Maybe Uncle Joe’s baked beans, a long family staple, are getting boring?  Grandma’s cheesy potatoes are…wait scratch that…cheesy potatoes are always welcome.  Are you continually insulted that your family only asks you to bring the pop and maybe a bottle of wine because they have no faith in your cooking abilities?  Well, have I got a dish for you!

It is a personal dish, and if I’ve learned one thing from the Food Channel, it’s that audiences like a good connection with the host, blogger, etc.  I, for one, get extremely bored at this point.  I could care less if Aarti Party’s mom used to make her this curry whenever she skinned her knee, or if Paula Dean tells a story about how she used to rub butter on her kids’ chests to fight their colds. I have no interest in hearing Bobby Flay explain how he went from the scrawny geek in high school to the most conceited chef on television (he has a whole show devoted to how he can cook your signature dish better than you).  And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ve terribly misread my audience.

Wow, I got off the subject and I’m two paragraphs in and I still have said what this dish is – it is my Dad’s spinach pie…wait, wait, don’t click the back button just yet, stay with me. I know spinach isn’t for everyone, but the irony bitter taste is sautéed right out, and in it’s place is a lot of creamy goodness with a satisfying crunch of the phyllo dough.  And I know I just explained that I tend to get bored when chef's or bloggers start reminiscing about childhood food memories, but my sister and I always looked forward to Christmas, because that was the time that my Dad would make this dish and it holds lots of great memories for me.  Ok, there, I've done it.  I've connected with you. Anyway, I’ve helped him in the past, but this past year, I finally gave it go on my own. 

This isn’t the traditional spinach pie that you would find in a Greektown restaurant, as our blog’s Greek hostess pointed out.  I’m ok with that and so was she, and the difference is the cottage and cream cheeses added to the filling.  It’s not that complex, but there is a little labor involved with the phyllo dough, but it is all worth in the end.

1 frozen package of phyllo dough (defrost according to the directions)
1 lb of fresh spinach, cleaned of thick stems
8 oz. feta cheese
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. cottage cheese
1 small/medium chopped onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tbl fresh dill (or ½ Tbl of dried dill) – add more if you like dill, which I do
1 Tbl dried basil
1 stick of melted butter (or ¾ stick of butter with olive oil added)

1.      Saute the onion until it just starts to turn brown, add the garlic.  Set aside.
2.      Wilt the spinach by adding a little water the pan, cover on low heat).  As soon as it is wilted, drain the water.
3.      In a separate bowl, stir together the three cheese, onion mixture, and spinach.  The heat of the spinach and onion helps the cheese blend together.  No salt is necessary as the feta has enough of it.
4.      Stir in the dill and basil to taste.
5.      Prepare the phyllo:
a.       Find a pan that fits the phyllo.
b.      Use a baster brush to butter the bottom of the pan, then add one phyllo leaf at a time, buttering each on lightly.
c.       Use about half the phyllo leaves for the bottom (usually around 12 or so)
d.      Add the spinach mixture and spread evenly
e.       Add the second layer of phyllo continuing to butter after each leaf. 
f.       Gently cut the phyllo into serving size squares using a sharp knife, going almost through the bottom layer, it won’t hurt if you go all the way through)

6. Cover and bake at about 325 degrees for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook another 15 minutes.  You want the top layer to brown, but not dry out.  I had to use the broiler for the last 3-4 minutes.

This will be a great Easter dish. Christos Anesti :)  Enjoy! -Jen

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Oven Roasted Peel and Eat Shrimp

You're either in the seafood camp or you're not.  But, if you're in, you're usually ALL the way in.  I love seafood, in fact, it's a passion.  If I could eat seafood day and night, I would.  Shrimp happens to be one of my favorites, and peel and eat are at the top of the shrimp preparation category for sure.  A good shrimp cocktail reminds me of my dad.  He had me standing over a sink at a very young age (probably too young) learning how to peel, clean and devein shrimp.  It's actually one of my first cooking memories, freezing cold hands, a little pairing knife and giant plastic bag filled with huge, un-cooked shrimp.  And, with all of the prep work and care that goes into them, how could you NOT enjoy them?  I have definitely learned that eating is much more pleasurable when you've put your heart and hands into the cooking.

My baby sister (not-so-baby, 18 years of age) was deathly allergic to shrimp her whole life, which runs in the family, though it skipped my other sister and I.  I say "was allergic" because she recently had an allergy test done and the doc informed her that she had out-grown her food allergy of shell fish!  HALLELUJAH.  I can't tell you how awkward it is when the whole family is chowing down on crab legs and shrimp on Christmas and she's listening to the "oohs and ahh's" with absolutely no understanding of what all the fuss is about and no chance of even being able to taste it.  I was so excited to hear this news, and hear about how she's been running all over town eating all the shell fish she can get her hands on, that I had to make a celebratory dinner for her which included a home-made shrimp cocktail.  She loved it, though I thought it was hilarious that she had no idea how to peel or eat them! ;)

This shrimp cocktail is different because it's oven roasted as opposed to poached, much easier and has a deeper flavor.  I roast the shrimp with fresh lemon juice, fresh lemon zest and kosher salt and a little pepper.  That's it!  Simple, and doesn't cover the flavor of the shrimp.  It will take you longer to clean the little buggers than it will to cook them, but you could certainly buy the shrimp that already comes cleaned and deveined- if you're rich of course!  LOL.  Make sure the SHELL IS LEFT ON. 

This is a great weekend treat, or even a party platter must have!  Enjoy :)

Housepitalities Oven Roasted Shrimp Cocktail (Serves 4)

-1.5 lbs of Shrimp (usually the 21-30 count work out well in regards to size)
-2 Lemons
-Kosher Salt
-Freshly Ground Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375.  De-vein and clean the shrimp, leaving the shell on.  Slice down the back of the shrimp to do this, and clean the vein, rinse.  Place on baking sheet.  

Zest one lemon over the shrimp and squeeze the juice of the lemon over the shrimp.  Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Roast 4 minutes on each side, a total of 8-9 minutes.

Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.   Serve with lemon wedges, and I like to serve it with cocktail sauce which I make with 1/2 cup chili sauce or ketchup and freshly grated horseradish, about 1-2 tablespoons.  YUM!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wild Irish Bardstown Rose

I'm bed ridden today, but had to post something for St. Patty's Day :)  I was in Kentucky last year, at an Irish Pub (for the life of me, I can't remember the name of the Irish Pub) and had this cocktail, and it was delish.   So good, that I of course grilled/innocently flirted ;) with the bartender for the recipe. I wrote it down on a napkin and carried it around for about 6 months until I put it on the roster for this blog.  It has been patiently awaiting it's debut in a drawer in my office.  It even had a stain from that same cocktail in the corner of the napkin!  Completely different than your average Irish Rose Cocktail.  The Gingerale (Irish Rose is usually made with soda) and the Pomegranate (usually made with Grenadine) gave it a rich taste, something about it was really unique.   Better than any green beer you'll ever have!  I promise.  And now that my college days are long behind me, I like to celebrate in a more sophisticated way.  Call me old, but, stained green teeth and feeling like a floatation device till March 20th (at least) just doesn't sound as appealing as it used to. Haha! :)

I love this recipe because my Grandfather (Wilbur, my mom's father) lived on Bardstown Road in Kentucky and this drink is called the Wild Irish Bardstown Rose.  It's not green, but it's good!

Give it a shot, stop at the liquor store and grab the ingredients on your way home tonight.  I hope you've got some corned beef and cabbage waiting in the crock pot for ya!  This will be a great pairing.

Wild Irish Bardstown Rose
2 oz Irish Whiskey
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Pomegranate Juice
2 oz Gingerale
Combine, shake and serve over ice.

Happy St. Patty's Day :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Risotto with Brown Butter Artichokes

If anything in the kitchen is defined as a "labor of love", I would say that Risotto would perfectly fit that description.  But, I'm here to tell you that though it seems intimidating, it couldn't be easier.  It's incredibly satisfying and can be made with a million different accompaniments.  I made this batch with lots of Parmesan and and topped it with brown butter artichokes.   It was warm, creamy and ever so decadent!  Once you learn how to make Risotto, plain old rice will just never do the trick.

Housepitalities Risotto with Brown Butter Artichokes


  • 4 cups low-sodium Chicken Stock
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted Butter
  • medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, grated into the white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 1 cup dry White Wine, such as Pinot Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3-4 grinds of freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, and another 1/2 cup for garnish
  • 1 can Artichoke Hearts in water or 2 cups frozen Artichoke Hearts

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and keep warm over low heat.
  2. In a separate medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion  and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until it is well coated with the butter and starts to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine/garlic and simmer gently until all the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Ladle 1/2 cup of the warm broth into the rice mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is absorbed. Repeat, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time, until the rice is cooked through but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes total.  You should add a ladle of liquid about every 3-4 minutes.  It should be al-dente, but not too much of a bite.  If it's still tough when you only have 2-3 ladles left, put a lid on the rice to let it absorb the liquid a little slower, allowing the rice to cook through.
  4. In a separate saute' pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter on very low heat, allowing it to turn brown slowly.  When it is brown, but not burnt, add the artichokes (drain well) and saute' on medium-low for about 10 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Add the remaining butter and the salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Stir to incorporate. Serve immediately, topping with additional Parmesan and Artichokes.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Perfect Roast Chicken

Well, wedding season is around the corner and things have really picked up for me!  Phew.  It's March and I'm already exhausted. :)  I'll be slowing down to 1 or 2 posts a week, which is the norm for a blog like mine, but I wish I could post everyday!

This recipe is an essential in my house, and one I've been attempting for years.  Well, let me re-phrase that statement....  The crispy skin of this roast chicken is actually what I've been trying to perfect all this time.  And thank goodness that the last few times I've made this kitchen classic it's been positively perfect.  Juicy, flavorful and crispy as ever. The skin is slathered with honey and sprinkled with salt and it is oh so delicious....the holy grail of chicken skin. AND, the veggies are to die for!  Follow my simple steps and you will LOVE this Roast's a "one pot wonder" without a doubt!  Now that I've got all of the elements just right I just had to pass it on. :)

Housepitalities Perfect Roast Chicken with Caramelized Vegetables
  • 2-3lb Whole Chicken
  • 3 tablespoons Honey
  • 3/4 tablespoon Salt
  • 4-5 grinds of freshly ground Pepper
  • 5 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 bag of Baby Carrots
  • 10-12 Baby Yukon Potatoes or Red Skin Potatoes
  • 1 large White Onion (or any onion you have around)
  • 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the chicken and take out the bag o' "guts" ;) inside of the cavity of the chicken.This step is important- DRY the chicken thoroughly, every inch of it, inside and out. Do not add oil, do not add butter, do not "pass go" ;).

Heat the honey in the microwave for about 30 seconds and with a pastry brush "paint" the skin of the chicken with the honey.  Then simply sprinkle the salt over the chicken (top and bottom, turn it over as well).  Sprinkle the salt almost as though it's raining salt. Tuck the wings and legs underneath the chicken. A few grinds of the pepper mill and that's all you need to do to the chicken to have the most perfect, crispy brown chicken.  Place it in the center of the roasting pan.

In a large mixing bowl place the carrots, the potatoes, the onion (roughly chopped) and the garlic cloves (whole but smashed with the back side of a knife).  Add the olive oil, lemon juice and a few grinds of the pepper mill and a few pinches of salt.  Mix with your hands and surround the chicken with the mixture.  I like to take a bit more honey and drizzle it over the veggies and potatoes when you add them to the pan because it helps caramelize the veggies, but this step is optional.

Roast on the center rack of the oven, un-covered for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Juices should run clear, if they don't you need another 15 minutes or so.  Let it rest for about 10 minutes, carve and enjoy!  The veggies will be caramelized and some of the onions will get charred, but just pick around them.  It's part of the process. ;)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

True North Vodka

I've been blogging a ton of recipe's lately and I realized I'm leaving out the "Fantastic Finds" category!  Well, here's a very Fantastic Find for you Michiganders.  I am a HUGE fan of keeping it local.  As a business owner I can completely understand the plight of the small business owner and do everything I can to buy local whenever possible, and that does not exclude nor is limited to- cocktails :)

I did a t.v. segment a year or so ago and featured a local spirit- True North Vodka from Grand Traverse Distillery.  I guess the owner of the distillery was visiting the area and just happened to catch my segment, what are the odds?  Anyway, he rang me up and told me how pleased he was with the segment and thanked me for featuring his award winning vodka.  We exchanged a few emails and the next thing I knew a HUGE box was at my doorstep filled with extra large, and I mean EXTRA LARGE bottles of True North Vodka.  They included a bottle of their signature vodka, their cherry vodka (of course) and even a bottle of their potato vodka which was a new twist on a classic way of distilling vodka.  Very potent! ;)

Long story short, I threw a party which featured this vodka with a few signature cocktails and it was a hit!  I like cocktails and all, but it would have taken me years to get through these gigantic vodka vessels! :)  But, we emptied the bottles and then it's the only vodka I have in the house and I will continue to stay loyal and local.  It would make a great hostess gift as well.  An added bonus- the bottles are gorgeous as well, very pretty! 

Run out and get a bottle or two :)  Click here for more info!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Citrus-Shallot Marinade

Need a quick and easy side dish?  I love asparagus!  It's good with just about every type of protein- fish, beef, chicken, seafood.  AND, it's almost always in season.  You can always find a good bunch of asparagus at the market.  This side dish came about because I had some asparagus I HAD to use, a few shallots and a big bowl of lemons that were gorgeous and sitting on my counter winking at me and voila!  Quick and easy side dish.

This version is so tasty and will amp up that typical pan sauteed version you're used to.

Housepitalities Roasted Asparagus with Citrus-Shallot Marinade

-1 bunch of Asparagus
-The juice of 1 Lemon
-1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
-1 small Shallot
-1 Garlic Clove
-Salt and Pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Trim the ends (about 1 inch) off the Asparagus, rinse under cold water and spread out on a baking sheet.  In a small mixing bowl add the juice of 1 Lemon, Olive Oil and a few grinds of Salt and Pepper.  Dice the Shallot (finely) and add to the bowl.  Grate the Garlic into the bowl as well.  Mix well and pour over the Asparagus and toss lightly until all of the Asparagus are covered.  Let sit for about 15 minutes.

Bake for 12-15 minutes and serve!  Gorgeous, flavorful and light!  You will love the citrus flavor and the caramelized shallots give it a really complex twist.

Enjoy :) 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nutella Wontons

Remember all the stuff I said about not being a baker?  Well, I lied! ;)  I have one more addition to your Valentines Day meal.  Nutella Wontons.  I could just end the post right here.  Enough said.  But, I'll do you the favor of explaining further ;).   I cannot take credit for this idea what so ever, this is a Giada De Laurentis recipe that I only tweaked, and boy am I glad I tried these.  Made them this afternoon after wanting to try them for about a year.  It was a nice afternoon treat and early Valentines Day surprise for the hubby.  He said "waking up from a Sunday afternoon nap to the smell of warm Nutella isn't half's hard work being married to you, but somebody's gotta do it":) 

Anyway, these are easy, unique and ever so fantastic.  Crispy wontons with creamy, gooey Nutella and any fruit you want to add.  Or none at all!  I have to say that this recipe had me at Nutella, but I added banana's and I made a quick raspberry sauce by blending frozen raspberries and a a little Splenda in the blender and warming it for a few minutes in a sauce pan.  Which put them OVER THE TOP, such a good combo with the rich Nutella, plus I love desserts that you dip into things.  Makes it much for fun!  You could add strawberries or mango or even more hazelnuts.  If you're not familiar with Nutella, it's a chocolate spread made with hazelnuts that is the European equivalent to Peanut Butter.  Boy am I glad it's become so popular recently and the world can share in my love affair with Nutella!

Giada made these by frying them in oil and I baked them instead......much lower in fat and just as crispy and good.  A little less stressful to make as well.  Anytime frying something in hot oil is in the equation we up the ante on the difficulty level.  And I always want to take it easy on you cooks out there. ;)  If you have kids, they will love these!  My mom always used to make a special Valentines Day dinner for us when we were kids and these would be the perfect dessert for a couples dinner OR a family meal.

Nutella Wontons
  • 16 wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • Banana sliced into skinny rounds 


Spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray. Place 1 wonton wrapper on the work surface. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with egg. You may have large wonton wrappers like I did, so you may have to cut some of the wrapper to make it closer to a 3.5 x 3.5 size wrapper.  Spoon 1 cup of Nutella into a large ziplock baggie and push it all into one corner of the bag, snip a tiny bit of the bag at the corner, making a home-made pastry bag.  A VERY small snip so it doesn't coming pouring out. 

Place about 3/4 tablespoon Nutella into the center of the wrapper and place the banana on top of the Nutella.  Fold over the wrapper over, into a triangle shape and seal with a bit more of the egg wash.  Lay on baking sheet.   Repeat this process.  I only made 8 of them, 16 would have been way too much for us, so just cut the recipe in half if you're making this for two.  Making it for the whole family?  Make all 16!  They'll go fast :)

Bake on 350 for 4 minutes on each side.  They'll be golden and crispy.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and wait a few minutes before serving, they'll be hot!

Oh and here's an adaptation of the recipe from the Tasty Kitchen which has lots of great pics for a visual on the assembly.  BUT SKIP the step of frying them in oil!  Click here.

Happy Valentines Day!   Run out and get the ingredients, you'll thank me for it! 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Beet Mine" :)

If you're anything like my hubby and I, you avoid going out to dinner on Valentines Day like the Plague :) Pre-fix menu's, reservations that aren't really reservations- more like a "call-ahead" and little cut-out, pink hearts EVERY WHERE.   Don't get me wrong every once in a while we'll venture out  to a great little spot on Valentines day, but we much prefer to order in or cook up a great little romantic meal at home.  We light a few candles, un-cork some great wine, put on our favorite cd and a share the tasks of making a killer meal, served in our own dining room.  For us, this is a little slice of heaven.

We're still working on the menu for our big meal on Monday, but I gave Charlie a sneak peek last week of the Valentine inspired salad that I'll be serving and he loved it.  I mean loved it!  So, since it passed the hubby test, I thought I'd pass it on.  Everyone is going to have their own idea of what they'd like to serve as the main entree' for their romantic dinner.  But, this will be the PERFECT salad to serve along side the fish, steak or pasta that you're planning to whip up.  And, this will be no shocker, it's simple and easy!  Beets have a bad rap, if you haven't tried them since 1989, give them another try.  Your mature palette will appreciate them much more than when you were a kid.

I don't usually do themed dishes, but the deep red color and earthy flavor of the beets will be the perfect accent to your love day meal.  Plus you'll love the tart, quick dressing and how it pairs with the creamy goat cheese and crunchy pine-nuts.  YUMMMM.

Housepitalities "Beet Mine" Salad ;)

-3 cups of Mixed Greens (pre-washed salad, organic preferred)
-3 tablespoons Pine Nuts
-1 can Sliced Beets (organic preferred, not pickled)
***you could certainly use fresh beets and blanch them, peel them etc. but this is easier! :)
-1/4 cup Goat Cheese
-1 1/2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
-1 tablespoon Olive Oil
-Salt & Pepper

Lay the beets in stacks on your cutting board and cut into quarters.  Place the greens in a large bowl and add the beets and crumbled goat cheese to the salad greens.  Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan (no oil) on low-medium heat, tossing often until golden and toasty.  Add the pine nuts to the salad greens.  Toss with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a few dashes of salt and pepper and voila!  Serve immediately.