Wednesday, May 26, 2010


A couple of weekends ago (yes, I'm way behind thanks to baseball and my new obsession with learning to parler français) we celebrated Sous Chef earning his Masters and my Mother-in-law's birthday. Perfect excuses for a fabulous bottle of bubbly and decadent cupcakes.

Oh my, these cupcakes were good. The Strawberry Buttercream was amazing. It would be delicious on white cake, chocolate cake, maybe even on a rice cake. The cupcake part of the equation wasn't half bad either.

Congratulations to my hubby for all the hard work he put in to earn his degree. He managed to get it done while working full time and being completely present for his family. What a guy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Irish Trifle

Alex's third grade class recently wrapped up their social studies unit on Ireland. At the end of each unit a parent volunteer prepares a food from the region for the kids to sample. Lucky for them, Ireland's goodie was this trifle and not Corned Beef and Cabbage. Their teacher provided the recipe and I put it all together and delivered it to the classroom.

Irish Trifle

2 (12 oz) containers whipped topping, thawed
1 (5.9 oz) package vanilla instant pudding
1 angel food cake, cut into 1 inch pieces
Fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries)

Prepare pudding according to package directions.

Layer ingredients as follows from bottom of trifle bowl to top; 1/3 of whipped topping, 1/2 of cake, 1/2 of pudding, fruit, 1/3 whipped topping, cake, pudding, fruit, remaining whipped topping.

My trifle bowl wasn't tall enough to add the last layer of Cool Whip, so it was dolloped on the individual servings. From what I hear, the kids loved it. I know Alex did, he would like me to make it again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thai Green Curry Shrimp

I now know, amazing Thai food is possible at home. The ease and deliciousness of this dish will have me thinking twice about ordering take out. I look forward to having this again with chicken, tofu, or fish.

The recipe is from the June 2010 issue of Cuisine at Home. I made one small change, I could not find bamboo shoots, so I cut up a medium sized onion and cooked it with the red pepper. I guessed the texture would be a close match, but I'm not sure that I've ever had a bamboo shoot. I used 4 tablespoons of curry paste, I found the spice to be milder than expected. Next time I will spice things up a bit more!

Thai Green Curry Shrimp
Serves 4

1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz.)
4-5 T. Green Curry Paste
2 T. fish sauce
1 t. brown sugar
1 C. diced red bell pepper
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1 can bamboo shoots, drained (8 oz.)
1 C. frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 C. torn basil leaves
Jasmine rice
Lime wedges

Remove cream from the top of the coconut milk; heat over medium-high in a large sauté pan, stirring frequently until bubbles form on the surface, and it separates.

Add curry paste, stirring to combine. Cook until paste becomes very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Season with fish sauce and sugar; simmer 5 minutes.

Stir in bell pepper; cook until pepper begins to soften, 5 minutes. Add shrimp; cook until opaque and no longer pink, 3-4 minutes.

Add bamboo shoots, peas, and basil; cook just to heat shoots and peas through, 1 minute. Serve with Jasmine rice and lime wedges.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chili-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs with Espresso Barbecue Sauce

Sous Chef got a new grill for his birthday, since our old one was slightly rusted out and the whole inside of it caught on fire last time we used it. The popular choice for the inaugural dinner was ribs. We had our neighbors over and dined al fresco. It was a fun night with good food and friends.

This is my go-to ribs recipe. I always follow the cooking instructions, but sometimes change the spices in the rub and use plain barbecue sauce. On this particular night, I followed the recipe as written. The rub provides a nice level of heat and the espresso in the sauce has a nice flavor. We had baked sweet potatoes and cole slaw with dried cranberries on the side.

Sous Chef gives the grill two thumbs up, he's excited about the increased cooking space and the more precise heat control. I'm excited that he's done with school and he'll be home more often to cook with it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pan Seared Salmon with Spinach and Shiitake

I found this tasty recipe in The Best of Fine Cooking publication, Fresh & Quick. It is full of lovely recipes that are healthy and quick to prepare. Surely, I will prepare many more of the dishes and let you know how they turn out.

It is great to find new ways to prepare salmon. This recipe did not disappoint. It is a perfect weeknight dish, yet elegant enough for guests. The kids loved the fish, Alex had seconds. They were troopers and tried the mushrooms and spinach, but were not as impressed as the adults.

Pan Seared Salmon with Spinach and Shiitake
Serves 4

3 1/2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1/2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 C. heavy cream
1 t. chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 C. lightly packed baby spinach leaves
4 6 oz. boneless, skin-on Salmon fillets
3 T. fresh lemon juice

Heat 2 T. of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cream, thyme, 1 t. of salt, and 1/8 t. of pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. Transfer to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Clean the skillet and return it to the stove.

Heat the remaining 1 1/2 T. oil in the skillet over medium heat. Season the salmon fillets all over with salt and pepper. Arrange the salmon in the skillet, skin side up, in a single layer and cook, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, 7 to 9 minutes total. Transfer the salmon to a large plate.

Mix the lemon juice with 1 T. water, add to the skillet, and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until just thickened, about 30 seconds. Drizzle the pan juices over the salmon and serve with the warm shiitake mixture.