Caprese Pasta Salad

by Stacey on August 23rd, 2013

filed under Salad

 caprese pasta salad

Hello long lost friends! I am so sorry for falling off the face of the planet. Way to start blogging and immediately fall off the wagon. Ugh. Life has been…difficult of late. Now, don’t get me wrong–I’ve had some great times (trip to French Polynesia, anyone??), but I’ve also been stressed…and busy…and sick. But, I did not come here to complain, but rather to share a little something with you!

 Bora Bora

Life is tough, ain’t it??
I’m part of a cooking board and these ladies have become true friends! For several years, many of them have participated in recipe swaps hosted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking and I’ve always been a touch envious. I promised myself I would start participating once I started blogging…and you know how that went. This month’s theme was too yummy for me to pass up though. Plus, I thought that perhaps participating would give me a kick in the rear to get back with it! Just because I’ve been crazy does not mean I haven’t been cooking. :)

This month’s theme is Summer Salads, which I just happen to love! For my entry, I submitted my Roasted Vegetable and Orzo Salad that may just be the best summer food on Earth. I promise I will post it here at some point. I received Cookaholic Wife’s Caprese Pasta Salad. Nichole made this salad, despite protests from her husband. Luckily, my man loves summer salads (as long as they are sides!) just as much as I do.

I’ve made one other Caprese Pasta Salad but I wasn’t completely sold on it. I felt like flavor was lacking. I also learned that if you add the mozzarella when the pasta is hot–it will melt! Nichole’s version immediately appealed to me as it has balsamic vinegar, which is perhaps my favorite condiment. True to expectations, Nichole’s version was fantastic! I highly recommend this for your Labor Day cookout! Take advantage of summer’s glorious tomatoes and basil.

Caprese Pasta Salad
Slightly Adapted from Cookaholic Wife, originally from LaaLoosh
Serving size:  6

8 oz. rotini (whole wheat is great if you have it!)
1 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved
5 garlic cloves, chopped
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cubed
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. oregano
1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt. Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with olive oil.

Toss the tomatoes and garlic together on the baking sheet, drizzle with a bit of oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic, olive oil and oregano.

When the pasta is done, drain and add to a bowl. Pour the dressing over the pasta and mix. Add the tomatoes and garlic. Stir well to combine and refrigerate until chilled.

Add the mozzarella and basil, gently mix, and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.


This is a perfect representation of summer in a salad bowl!  Check out the rest of this month’s recipes made by other participants.  Thanks for hosting, Sarah!

WC-Recipe-Swap-badge-1

Browned Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

by Stacey on March 15th, 2013

filed under Cookies, Dessert

Browned Butter Mac Nut Cookies.jpg

 

I hardly ever make cookies.  Don’t get me wrong–I absolutely love them, but I just cannot afford to have them around the house.  Even when I make them and bring them to work, I eat about 27 of them (well, I’m exaggerating…a bit).  But, I have enormous self control around cookies when compared to The Boy.  He loves himself some cookies.  I mean Loves. Cookies.  And of all cookies, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut may be his favorites.  At least he told me that.  Once.  He may not remember.  I think I’ve made them for him once.  Winner of Worst-Wife-Award goes right here!

Anyway, I was wandering through Trader Joe’s with some friends while on girl’s weekend (we don’t have such brilliance as TJs in my state).  In the baking aisle, I came across a bag of white chocolate chips (actual white chocolate, not just white chips!) and chopped macadamia nuts.  It was fate!  I picked them both up and vowed to make The Boy some cookies.  I just needed an excuse.  :)

I finally got to make them and these were great!  I did not have a go-to recipe, so I checked with my friend Google, narrowed the options, and consulted with The Boy as to a recipe.  These did not disappoint.  The brown butter gave the cookies a rich, deep taste and seemed to cut through the sweetness of the white chips.  I WILL make these again.  And The Boy? He couldn’t help himself.

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Joy the Baker (adapted from Betty Crocker)

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup white chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small, stainless steal saucepan, melt the butter, swirling and stirring the butter until nicely browned bits appear in the bottom of the pan, 5-7 minutes. Be careful not to burn; it may be difficult to tell when the butter is browned due to the foam, but do the best you can. The butter should smell rich and nutty when properly browned. Once browned, remove pan from heat and poor into mixing bowl to allow to cool some. While cooling, measure out the dry ingredients and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the brown sugar to the slightly cooled butter. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add egg and beat for one minute more. Add milk and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.

Turn the mixer off, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the dry ingredients all at once. With either the stand mixer on low, incorporate the dry ingredients until just mixed in. Fold in the chopped nuts and white chocolate chips.

Scoop small balls onto a lined baking sheet. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until cookies are golden. Remove from oven and let rest of the baking sheet for 3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Tandoori Chicken and Slow-Cooker South Indian Lentil Stew

by Stacey on March 13th, 2013

filed under Chicken, Ethnic, Main Dish

Tandoori Chicken and Stew.jpg

My first experience with Indian food was my senior year of college.  Having grown up in a household that focused on traditionally European flavors, it was quite the shock at the time–and entirely too spicy for my “delicate” palate.  It was January and a period of the school year known as Interim.  As it was my senior year and as I had traveled both my sophomore and junior Interim periods, I stayed on campus and took a literature course entitled Food for Thought.  During the month, the class read three different books from different cultures and finished each experience with a trip to an ethnic restaurant.  The entire course wrapped with a Southern cooking lesson at the local culinary school.

The second book we read during the course was Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes by Shoba Narayan. I loved the way the author married the stories of her childhood with the foods of her native Southern India.  The narrative drew me in and held me captive with stories of an exotic (to me) culture.  Then came the actual food.  The entire class visited Taj India, perhaps the best Indian restaurant in our city.  The decor was fascinating, the descriptions interesting, and the food…different.  Needless to say, while I enjoyed the experience, the food was another matter.

It was not until three years later, on my then-fiancé’s birthday that I returned to Taj India and Indian food in general.  Turns out he and his family LOVE Indian food.  I, understandably, was quite nervous.  However, they walked me through it, coached me in ordering, and introduced me to approachable foods.  I. Fell. In. Love.  I really did.  I  love Indian food.  I crave it.  As we do not have a decent restaurant where we live, we almost always go to Taj when we visit The Boy’s parents.

Over the past year I’ve begun experimenting with Indian food in my own kitchen.  It has been an experience–with more trial and error than success.  I found that the quality of my spices made a huge difference and once I learned that lesson, dishes began to turn out better for me.  This meal was a winner in our book.  The Boy  and I both loved the flavors and textures.  While not too spicy, it still nailed some of the traditional Indian flavors.  If you enjoy Indian food, I highly recommend this meal.  We served the chicken on top of the stew, with Naan (Indian bread) for dipping.  A Mango Lassi would have perfected the meal.

Tandoori Chicken
Adapted from Savoring India by Julie Sahni

Serving Size: 4

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice or malt vinegar
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon peeled and grated or crushed ginger root
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Prick the flesh of the chicken all over with a fork. Then, using a sharp knife, cut slashes in the flesh to allow the marinade to penetrate. Place the chicken in a large plastic Zip Loc bag.

In a nonreactive bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves, black pepper and salt. Stir until well-mixed, then pour the mixture over the chicken, seal the bag, and rub it into the flesh. Refrigerate chicken for at least 8 hours or overnight, squishing the bag every so often to redistribute marinade. (Do not marinate for longer than 2 days.) Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.

To roast chicken, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place 1-2 wire racks on top; spray racks with oil. Remove thighs from the marinade, pressing to extract any excess. Place on wire racks (ensuring there is space between each thigh. Spray lightly with cooking spray, flip, and spray again. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until temperature registers 165 degrees. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

If grilling, preheat the grill to medium heat. Remove thighs from the marinade, pressing to extract any excess. Spray lightly with cooking spray, flip, and spray again. Place on well-oiled grates and grill until the thighs reach 165 degrees, turning several times (time will vary based on the intensity of the heat). Charring is good. Allow to rest for several minutes before serving.

Serve with sprigs of cilantro.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:  303 calories, 33 percent calories from fat, 45 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, .54 gram total fiber, 11 grams total fat, 124 milligrams cholesterol, 707 milligrams sodium.
Slow Cooker South Indian Lentil Stew
Adapted from Weight Watchers

Serving Size: 6 (1 cup per serving)

2 cup(s) dry red lentils
15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
10 ounces chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
4 cup(s) canned chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1 medium uncooked, onion(s), minced
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger root, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, minced

Rinse and pick through lentils. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray and combine all ingredients, except lemon juice and cilantro, in a slow cooker. Cook until thick and creamy and lentil are soft, about 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired; stir in lemon juice and cilantro.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:  6 Points Plus

 

Chateau St. Jean Fumé Blanc

by Stacey on March 11th, 2013

filed under Wine Review

Chateau St Jean.jpg

I picked this little beauty up from the clearance table at our local Fresh Market.  It was Valentine’s Day, perhaps my favorite day of the year for a visit to this store.  The line of men picking out flowers always makes me smile.  The Boy was sick on Valentine’s Day–he had the flu all week and our original plan for steak and a good bottle of red was out the window.  I had stopped at the store to figure out what else we could eat that night (it ended up being crab cakes over pasta with a Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce and Roasted Asparagus) and could not resist a bottle of clearance wine.

Now, I am normally wary of “Grocery Store Wine.”  I think I’ve already admitted that I am a wine snob (if not…Hi, my name is Stacey and I am a wine snob).  However, we were out of white wine at home and I was in the mood for a bottle (err, glass).  So, I whipped out my trusty phone and googled two of the wines on the table.  Turns out this 2010 Chateau St. Jean Fumé Blanc received 87 points from The Wine Advocate! Not too shabby–and I was sold.

We really enjoyed this wine–so much so that we went back and bought the rest of the remaining bottles.

Chateau St. Jean Fumé Blanc is grown in Sonoma County.  The 2010  is a light and crisp wine with light fruit flavors, specifically of lemon, apple, and peach–it was much less acidic than is normally expected from this varietal.  It paired very well with seafood.  According to the website:

“Soft aromas of apple blossom are enlivened with notes of fig and crisp citrus. Honey and white peach flavors complement the luscious mouthfeel, drawn out to a vibrant lemon-lime finish. This is an appealing, well-structured wine that’s enjoyable from first sip to last.”

The Fumé Blanc is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Viognier (all wines we typically do not care for, but work really well together!).  According to The Wine Buyer, the varietals remain separate and are only blended together to add complexity in the bottle.  Three-quarters of the wine is tank fermented and the rest was barrel aged in French and American oak in order to enrich the wine’s flavors and textures.

If you see a bottle, pick it up.  If you like a light and crisp wine, you won’t regret a Fumé Blanc.

 

French Press Coffee

by Stacey on January 28th, 2013

filed under Beverage, Breakfasts

french-press.jpg

I love coffee.  Correction.  I need coffee.  The smell, the taste, the warmth.  It satisfies my soul in the mornings.  I like drip; I love espresso; but I crave french press.  We typically save the french press for the weekends as it requires just a bit more attention than the drip coffee maker.  We savor a cup of coffee on the weekends and the french press provides a bit different texture and taste that is addicting.  As the beans are in contact with the press for a longer period of time, more of the oils from the beans end up in the brew.  Additionally, this coffee is a bit thicker tasting as there can be some sediment.

We are coffee snobs.  I can admit it.  There are very few places I will willing buy coffee and most breakfast places are sadly not up to snuff.  We love good quality coffee and buy from a local roaster whenever possible (shout out to Kaffeeklatsch!).  We grind the beans fresh every day with a burr grinder. (Side note:  If you don’t have one–I recommend investing in one.  A burr grinder provides a more even grind, allowing you to choose how coarse or fine you want your grounds.)  In order to help our beans last longer, we store opened bags in the freezer (there is conflicting recommendations on this, but it is the method we have come to accept).

We also prefer our coffee bold and strong–I like rich, dark, earthy flavors in my cup.  Floral, acidic, and mild flavors just aren’t as enjoyable to me.  I also like my coffee strong–grow hair on your chest strong.  One thing I like about the french press is that it is much easier to make your coffee to your liking.  The flavor of the bean is chosen when you buy your coffee–experiment if you haven’t and figure out what style you like!  But the strength of the coffee is determined based on the way you brew it.  The more beans and the longer it brews, the stronger the cup.  Therefore, experimentation is necessary to determine your preference.  The following is just the way we like it.  Use it as a starting point and adjust based on what you like and what you do not.

But as much as I love coffee, I cannot drink it black.  I wish I could, but I require a bit of half & half to balance the bitterness in the cup.  While The Boy will sometimes make fun of me for this, I have learned that this is okay.  I can enjoy coffee the way I like it–and take as much pleasure in it as I wish.  So whether you prefer your coffee weak or strong, bold or mild, black or white, I recommend you try a cup of french press–it may just change the way you relax on weekends.  

Coffee Grounds.jpg

French Press Coffee

Ingredients:
1 1/2 ounces (or 40g, give or take a few) coarsely ground coffee
Water

Equipment:
French Press
Wooden chopstick or spoon

Bring water to a boil.  Meanwhile, grind coffee and add to the french press.  When the coffee boils, slowly pour it over the grounds, stirring with the chopstick when one-third full to fully incorporate water.  Fill press to the top of the metal band.  Stir, replace the cover, and let brew for 4 minutes.  Very slowly, press the cover down, filtering the grounds out of the coffee.  Enjoy immediately.

 

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Toast

by Stacey on January 20th, 2013

filed under Breakfasts

Happy New Year!

2012 was a rough year in my household. Between sickness, surgery, and school on my part, a crazy work year for The Boy, major house renovations  and a health emergency for Whatley, we are glad to be done with 2012.

In our minds, 2013 can only be better! There is always hope for the New Year, always a longing to see what blessings will come forth over the next 12 months. We are looking forward to the experience and the celebrations that have yet to come!

On New Year’s Day, we celebrated the beginning of the year with one of my favorite breakfasts (or dinners!). Smokey sweet salmon paired with creamy and tangy goat cheese and topped with the salty bite of capers. Paired with a Mimosa, the celebration doesn’t get much better. Mmm…

For the mimosa, we used Korbel mini “California Champagne” we had left from the night before. With just the two of us, it is hard to finish a whole bottle of sparkling wine when we each just want a glass and Korbel was all we could find. It was a little too sweet for both of us. Korbel is a California sparkling wine made in the Champagne style. (Trivia: only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France may be called Champagne. Champagne requires a second fermentation in order to create carbonation.  There is a lot more that goes into creating true champagne, though!) Personally, I prefer Prosecco, the Italian version.

Now on to the food! My favorite smoked salmon comes from the Honey Smoked Fish Company (we purchase at Costco) and it is hot smoked, giving it the texture of cooked salmon. Cold smoked salmon has a raw texture, similar to sushi-grade salmon. As I am not a fan of this texture, hot it is!  Paired with goat cheese and salty capers, it really is a dream. I also like to drizzle each piece with a touch of (really good) quality olive oil—it gives it a silky texture.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Toast
Source:  An Original by A Glass a Day…

4 slices good quality bread (I’ve used Asiago, Sourdough, and Grain–pick what you love)
Soft Goat Cheese (such as Belle Chevre’s Original Spreadable Goat Cheese)
1/2 fillet smoked salmon
1/2-1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, dried, and chopped (to taste)
1-2 teaspoons GOOD QUALITY Olive Oil (optional)
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

Toast the bread, ensuring it doesn’t get too hard–you want just a touch of golden brown.  Spread goat cheese over bread and top with flaked salmon.  Sprinkle capers, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper over top.  Enjoy!

Serves 2 (2 slices per person)

 

Welcome to my corner of the world!

by Stacey on January 20th, 2013

filed under Uncategorized

Hello! My name is Stacey and welcome to A Glass a Day…!

We are new around these parts so I hope you will stay with me as we learn, grow, and share. I will be sharing my food, drinks, and life with you and I hope you will become engaged!

I just finished my Master’s degree (political science, if anyone is interested) and figured that now is as good a time as any to begin. While I may no longer be writing papers with a glass of wine in hand, I will be cooking with one!

I am currently in the process of losing weight and changing my lifestyle. I am down 20-something pounds and need to keep at it. I have introduced exercise–both toning and running–and have been working to modify my diet by cutting out unnecessary calories and fat, increasing vegetable intake, and eating healthier overall. However, that does not mean I have to cut out my wine (and beer…and cocktails…and coffee…) or flavor, it just means I have to plan. :)

So, I hope you enjoy this space. Please do not hesitate to leave me your thoughts, comments, questions, or requests!