Constant Growing Amazement Cooks!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pear, Walnut and Bleu Cheese Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing from Norstrom's Cafe

I love, love, love this salad from Nordstrom's Grill.  I got this recipe from Creative Culinary- and she added a maple twist- but for Bon Appetit last night, I used the regular Nordstrom's dressing.  Instead of candying my own nuts, I bought them already done.

Pear, Walnut and Bleu Cheese Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing from Nordstrom’s Café
 from (picture credit also)
    For the Maple Candied Walnuts or Pecans:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves

  • For Maple Dijon Vinaigrette:
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • pepper to taste

  • For Nordstrom's Champagne Vinaigrette:
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup Champagne wine vinegar (I used Golden wine vinegar because I had it)
  • 1 1/2 cups salad oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  • For the Salad:
  • mixed greens, 4-6 cups
  • 2 pears, chopped (toss with some lemon juice to keep them from discoloring if necessary)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion rings, halved
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Blue Cheese (or Gorgonzola)
  • 2/3 cup Maple Candied Walnuts or Pecans (in a pinch or watching sugar intake, just toast some nuts), roughly chopped
  • Pear slices for garnish
    To Make Candied Walnuts:
  1. Melt the butter in a pan
  2. Mix in the maple syrup and pepper
  3. Add the pecans and toss to coat
  4. Cook on medium low heat about 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes. Watch carefully so they don't burn.
  5. Turn out on aluminum foil and let cool for 5 minutes; break apart if necessary.
  6. To Make Either Dressing:
  7. Mix all ingredients in bowl using wire whisk.
  8. To Plate the Salad:
  9. Place greens on individual plates. Sprinkle chopped pears, nuts and cheese on top of salad greens.Garnish with pear slices and drizzle dressing over salad.

Mini Beef Wellington

I made these Beef Wellingtons for the first time last night for Bon Appetit.  I forgot to take pictures - this one and the recipe is from Tip Hero.  Make sure you cut your filet mignon small enough that the puff pastry fits around it and seals nicely.  So delicious.

Serves 2 generously

You’ll Need
– Two 2 ½-to-3-inch-tall pieces beef tenderloin (filet mignon), about ¾ pound
– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 6 ounces finely-chopped baby bella mushrooms
– 1/3 cup finely-chopped sweet onion
– 1 large clove garlic, minced
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
– Freshly-ground pepper, to taste
– ¼ cup dry sherry
– 1 large sprig fresh thyme
– 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
– 1 sheet (1/2 box) puff pastry
– 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
– Egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 tablespoon milk)

How To
  1. Heat a stainless steel pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat until just starting to smoke.
  2. Rub the meat generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Once the pan is very hot, sear the two filets very briefly on each side. You don’t want to cook the interior of the meat at this point, so it shouldn’t be more than a minute or two per side. Remove the filets from the pan and place on a plate in the freezer while you make the filling.
  4. Let the pan cool slightly and turn the heat down to medium. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic to the pan, and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms release all their water and the onion is translucent.
  5. Add the sherry and thyme. Cook until the sherry evaporates. Taste for salt and pepper, and season as necessary.
  6. Remove from the heat and refrigerate until cold, then stir in the chopped parsley.
  7. Roll out one puff pastry piece and cut in half, so you have two rectangular strips of dough.
  8. Remove the steaks from the freezer and brush with the Dijon mustard on both sides.
  9. Put a quarter of the mushroom mixture in the middle of one piece of the puff pastry. Top with one steak, then add a quarter more of the mushrooms. Repeat with the other steak, puff pastry piece and mushrooms.
  10. Fold the long sides of the pastry over the steak, tucking in and tightly sealing all the edges so the juice doesn’t escape. Wrapping it all in plastic wrap can help!
  11. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a sheet pan. While the oven preheats, put the wrapped beef in the freezer.
  12. Once the oven is hot, remove the beef from the freezer and put on the lined sheet pan. Coat with the egg wash.
  13. Bake for 25 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the middle of the steak reads 135 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (medium-rare) and the pastry is a deep golden brown.
  14. Cut in half so you can see the intersection of steak, pastry and mushrooms, and serve.
Expert Tips
  • Make the puff pastry easier to work with by keeping it cold. That’s why this recipe calls for chilling the meat and filling in between steps!
  • The pan needs to be very hot in step 3 because it’s the key to searing the meat and subsequently adding flavor. If the pan isn’t hot, the meat either won’t brown, or it will take too long to brown and the middle will start to cook.
  • You can make this recipe ahead of time by following it up to step 9, then freezing until ready to bake. When you’re ready to cook, just put it in the oven directly from the freezer without thawing, and cook until the interior temperature of the meat is 135 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (for medium rare), which may take longer than the 25 minutes.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mac and Cheese Spaghetti Squash

Believe it or not, I've never cooked spaghetti squash before but I've pinned some great recipes and started trying some.  I LOVED this recipe.  Feel free to add bacon or broccoli or peas or whatever buzzes you!

Mac and Cheese Spaghetti Squash

3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cube butter (1/4 cup)
salt & pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/2 shredded cheese, blends are great
2 Tbsp. softened cream cheese
1/2 spaghetti squash, cleaned and cooked
(see below)

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Put a few inches of water in the bottom of a small casserole dish and turn the cleaned squash upside down and microwave about 10 minutes.  Turn upside down carefully (it will be hot) and shred with a fork going with the grain-.sideways  Turn out into a greased casserole dish.
 Set aside.
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together butter, flour and salt & pepper. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Cook and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in  cheeses until melted and smooth.

Mix with the spaghetti squash and put in hot oven till all is hot and bubbly.  So good!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sweet Potato Noodles with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

I love going through my pins on Pinterest- and selecting a new recipe to try.  I have a million pins (exaggeration) of sweet potato recipes- but this one had WITH SAGE BROWN BUTTER SAUCE!  I would eat grasshoppers with a brown butter sauce so I knew this recipe would satisfy.  And it did!  I had to slice the sweet potatoes with the long side of a grater.  It worked okay.  What is nice about this recipe is that it is a change from "sweet."  I will definitely make this again!  (and if nothing else, the new word "inspiralized" was so inspiring I had to try it!)

Sweet Potato Noodles with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
from (author: Krista)

  • 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 sweet potatoes, inspiralized
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of red onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh sage, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup parmesan reggiano
  • 5 strips of bacon, diced and cooked crispy
  • ½ cup of pecans, chopped
  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, add diced bacon and saute until crispy {about 4-5 minutes} Remove from pan, set aside.
  2. Heat a large saute pan to medium high heat, add 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil to pan. Next add in sweet potato noodles.
  3. Saute until soft, but still somewhat crisp, stirring on and off. About 5-8 minutes.
  4. In a small saute pan heated to medium high heat, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and red onion. Saute until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add butter to pan and melt, reduce heat to medium and cook butter for 3-5 minutes stirring the entire time until butter turns a golden brown color.
  6. Add sage, nutmeg, and parmesan. Stir until cheese just melted. Remove sauce from the heat.
  7. Toss cooked sweet potato noodles, sage brown butter sauce, bacon, and pecans.
  8. Serve!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mexican Wedding Cookies

A month or so ago, we were invited to dinner  at someone's house.  Finally last week I took them a thank-you- chips and homemade salsa and a Mud Pie spoon.  The other day, Barb, returned my bowl (it was not to be returned) filled with Mexican Wedding Cookies!  We keep thanking back and forth.  Now I have to think of something to put back in the bowl to thank her!!!!

I had forgotten how much I like these cookies!

Mexican Wedding Cookies

1 cup of softened butter
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4-1/2 cup extra powdered sugar for rolling cookies

Directions: (Preheat oven to 350 degrees)
Cream butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla together until fluffy.  Add the flour slowly and when all combined add the finely chopped pecans.  Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and bake for 12-14 minutes until the bottoms are lightly golden brown.  Cool on a rack for several minutes and then roll the cooked cookies into the extra 1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie Comfort

I have been obsessed with these:
  While I was down and out with my broken back, I watched a heck of a lot of cooking shows- one  host was making apple slab pie with a cutout crust.  I LOVED it and have been dreaming of cutouts.  I decided  they would be perfect for a chicken pot pie...and they were!

I didn't have potatoes today (I used them all yesterday making pomme frites with andoulouse dipping sauce) but filled the pie with frozen corn, peas and carrots and also broccoli and cauliflower.  My hubby, of course, immediately suspicious, picked out all the cauliflower (I've tried to pass them off as potatoes before...) and I also used rotisserie chicken.

Chicken Pot Pie Comfort


  • 2 cups diced peeled potatoes (not this time!) 
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas and carrots
  • 1/2 bag frozen broccoli and cauliflower
  • 1/2 bag frozen corn                          
  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion or leeks 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. basil                          
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3-4 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 (14.1 ounces) refrigerated pie pastry

I sautéed sliced leeks (because I had them and was trying to use them up) in a cube of butter until they were nice and caramelized.  To that I added the flour, thyme and basil, s and p.  I then added the milk and chicken broth, and added the frozen vegetable that I pre-cooked in the microwave (and drained.)  Normally I would use potatoes but I love it either way.  I cut some pre-made crust the same size as the bottom of my dish- filled it up with the chicken and veggies and then went topping crazy with the cutouts.  So much fun!  I brushed the leaves with beaten egg before baking it all at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. 

Chicken, Leek and Brie Pie

I've been wanting to play a little with puff pastry...and found this recipe that I had tabbed on Pinterest.  I used diced rotisserie chicken and it worked.  However, I think the recipe lacked a little surprise....and I've decided that next time I'll add some diced tart apples to the chicken mixture or some apple butter. Or cranberries.  It was fun to make and would be a good appetizer or to accompany fall soup.

Chicken, Leek and Brie Pie

2 large square sheets puff pastry
  • 1 oz (25g) butter
  • 1 leek thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 14 oz (400g) skinless chicken breast diced into 1 inch cubes
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 3.5 oz (100g) brie thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup parsley chopped (I used dry)
  • 1 free-range egg lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • Instructions
    1. Thaw pastry on bench and heat oven to 390 (200C) and line a cookie tray with parchment paper.
    2. In a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter and cook down the garlic and leek for around 8 minutes until soft. Add chicken and cook through.
    3. Add the wine and stock to the saucepan and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Season with salty and pepper.
    4. In a small bowl mix together the cornflour and water to create a paste. Add this to the chicken mixture along with the chopped parsley. Mix through and remove from heat.
    5. Take the first sheet of the puff pastry and place on a cutting board. Leaving a 1 ½ inch boarder around all sides make about 8 evenly spaced slits along the width of the pastry sheet.
    6. Place the second sheet on the cookie tray and spoon the chicken mixture into the center. Spread the mixture out, leaving a 1 ½ inch boarder. Place the slices of brie on top. With a pastry brush (or your finger), brush some of the beaten egg around this boarder. Place the first sheet on top of the second, press down the boarder with your fingers and brush the egg over the top of the pie. Sprinkle parsley on top.
    7. Cook for around 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

    recipe by: