Chocolate Syrup

Have a few minutes? Why not try this simple chocolate syrup?

Bubble bubble

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Chocolate Syrup

1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Water
2 heaping tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Place all ingredients into a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Whisk constantly and bring to a boil.
Allow to boil for 2 minutes then pour mixture into a container and place into the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Guys, that’s quicker than running to the store!

Perfect! Who wants some? #wishingforhorses

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Tarragon Chicken (Garden Series)

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I love my herb garden! Every year I look forward to the convenience of simply waddling out to the yard and plucking the start of something delicious.

Tarragon chicken

The Boneless skinless chicken breast (BSCB), a cooks delight or worst nightmare? For much of my cooking life they’ve been a disappointment. Rubbery and dry. Gross. Happily, I think I’ve cracked the code.

Tarragon Chicken

2-4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons Olive Oli
Salt and Peper
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons Fresh Tarragon Leaves
1/4 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Heavy Cream

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Rub on the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a saute pan to medium high and add the butter.
Place the chicken in the pan. Allow the breast to brown for a few minutes then place the lid on the pan to cover.
Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes.
Flip the breast to the other side and place the lid back on the pan.
Allow to cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Check the temperature in the center of the thickest part of the meat with a digital thermometer. It should read 160-165 degrees.
If not, place the lid back on the pan and allow the chicken to cook for 3-5 minutes more.
Check the temp again.
When cooked, wrap the chicken in foil and set aside to rest while you get on with the sauce.
Whisk the white wine into the (now) browned butter and chicken drippings in the pan. Reduce by half; about 5 minutes.
Add the tarragon leaves and then whisk in the cream.
Reduce the sauce until slightly thickened.
Add back in the chicken and turn to coat in the sauce.
Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.

Juli’s Sangria

Juli's Sangria

I mentioned a while ago that we got a subscription to Julibox. It’s been so much fun! Once a month we receive the fixings to make a new seasonal cocktail dreamed up my their genius mixologists.
Last month we tried cocktails that were mixed with wine. This one I sipped and was astonished to note it tastes very like Sangria, but fancier! Let’s get mixing.

Juli’s Sangria

In a shaker full of ice add:
3/4 oz. fresh Orange Juice
1 oz. or the juice of half a Lemon
1 3/4 oz. Licor 43
2 oz. Cabernet Sauvignon (the cheap kind)
3/4 oz. Brandy
Shake until very cold
Serve in a coupe glass or wine glass

If you’re making a large amount for a party, up the measurements from ounces to cups. Combine and refrigerate.

Valentine’s Dinner

Valentine's dinner

There’s nothing more romantic, (and dare I say it? Sexy.) than making your Valentine a lovely, juicy steak dinner. With all the traditional sides, of course!
Let’s break the meal down by what to get started on first.

Compound Butter
This can be made days ahead.

1 stick (1/2 cup) Unsalted Butter (room temp)
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
pinch of Salt & Pepper
Place the butter out on the counter to soften for about 2 hours.
Mix the butter, herbs, salt and pepper together.
Scoop the butter into little balls and refrigerate until dinner time.

Roast Potatoes
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

1-2 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Cut the potatoes into about a 2 inch dice. Leave the skins on, they give great flavor.
Drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle a good amount of salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes in the oil until well covered and place in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with a silicone mat or parchment. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes.

After 30 minutes, go in and toss the potatoes around with a spatula then spread into a single layer again.
They should be golden and crisp on the outside and cooked and soft on the inside.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Just before you remove the potatoes, start on your steak.

Perfect Steak for Two
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

1 12oz. (Large) Boneless Ribeye Steak
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Generous amount of Salt and Pepper.

Leave the meat out of the refrigerator (covered) and allow it to come up to room temp.
You never want to put a cold piece of meat in a hot pan as the cooking times will be off.

Preheat a large oven safe frying pan (I use my cast iron fry pan) over high heat on the stove top.
The pan should be dry, don’t add any oil.
Brush the olive oil on both sides of the steak and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Place the steak into the hot pan and saute` for 3 minutes on each side, or until you have a nicely browned “crust”.
Place the frying pan with the steak into your preheated oven and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes for medium rare.
Take the pan out of the oven and set the steak aside to rest under foil for 10 minutes.

Brandy Pan Sauce
1/2 cup Brandy or Cognac
1 tablespoon butter (cold)
There should be enough residual heat in the pan to make the sauce with out heating it over the stove. If not, place your frying pan with the meat drippings over medium heat on the stove top.
Add the brandy and whisk for about 2 minutes so the lovely browned bits reduce to a sauce.
Add the butter and whisk to slightly thicken.

There’s not much sauce there but, it’s packed with flavor!

To serve the steak, carve against the grain into 1/2 inch slices. Spoon the pan sauce, and place a pat of your Compound Butter (see above) on the steak.

While your steak rests and after you’ve made your pan sauce…..

Petit Pois with Mint
Sounds fancy until you realize it’s baby peas. I won’t tell if you don’t!

1/2 package (6oz.) frozen Petite Baby Peas
4 tablespoons Butter
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped Fresh Mint.

Chop the mint and set aside.
In a microwave safe bowl add the butter, peas, salt and pepper. You don’t really want another dirty pan to clean do you?
Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time.
Add the fresh mint to the peas and stir to combine.

That right there is LOVE! If they don’t swoon over this meal, and you too, maybe you ought to see other people!

Fleur de Lys

fleur de Lys 2

Very refreshing and all together lovely beverage for a warm night or, a romantic celebration.

Fleur de Lys
4-6 oz Champagne or Prosecco
In a cocktail shaker combine:
Ice (half full)
2 1/2 oz. Pear Brandy or (Pear Cognac, if you can find it)
2 teaspoons Granulated Sugar
Juice of 1 large Lemon
Shake well for a minute to allow the sugar to dissolve some.

Divide the lemon mixture between two champagne coupes, top the rest of the glass with champagne.
Garnish with a lemon twist or a sliver of fresh pear.

Tortilla Crusted Swai

tortilla swai2 2014

Hmmm, what do I do with those mostly empty bags of tortilla chips left over from the big game(s) last weekend?

Tortilla Crusted Swai

1 cup Flour
2 Eggs
4 cups crushed Tortilla Chips
4 Swai fillets, or other firm white fish
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Cumin
Cilantro & Lime, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the flour, eggs and crushed tortilla chips into three separate dishes.

Pat dry your fish fillets and coat the fish in the flour then shake most of it off so you have a very thin coating.
Next, dip the fish into the egg, again shake most of the egg off.
Finally, coat the fish in the tortilla crumbs. Continue with the rest of the fish.

Lay your coated fish fillets onto a greased sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, chili powder and cumin and olive oil.
Place in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the fish feels firm to the touch.

Serve with cilantro and lime wedges for spritzing over the fish.

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb

grilled lamb

We discovered our gas grill was broken just before we went to grill our lamb. Thankfully, we had our standby charcoal kettle grill. You know, it turned out so nice, I’m going to recommend you try the recipe over charcoal if you can.

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb

1 2-4 lb. Boneless Leg of Lamb
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Spiced Rub Mixture
2 tablespoons Pomegranate Seeds & Fresh Cilantro Leaves (For garnish)

Check out how to butterfly your leg of lamb here:

Or if you’d like, ask your butcher to do it for you.

After you’ve butterflied your meat, turn it over so the fat/skin side is up. Score the fat deeply (about 1/2 an inch) using a crisscross pattern.
Rub the meat all over (fat & meat sides) with the olive oil and sprinkle on the spiced rub mixture. Allow the meat to sit covered in plastic on a sheet tray at room temp for up to and hour.

For the Rub Mixture:
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper
Mix all the spices and herbs together in a small bowl and set aside until time to use.

Heat your grill (charcoal or gas) until it is very hot. About 500-600 degrees F. I usually hold my hand about 12 inches above the coals, and if I can’t keep it there for more than a moment, I figure that’s “very hot”. If you’d like a more precise measurement try a surface grill thermometer.

Place your lamb fat side down onto the grill and cover with the lid. Cook the meat for 5-7 minutes, then flip it over and cover with the lid again. Cook on the second side for 5-7 minutes.

With a probe thermometer test the temperature in the thickest part of the meat. The temp should read about 130 F for medium rare. If you’d like your meat better cooked or if the reading doesn’t reach 130, place the meat back on the grill for about 2-4 more minutes on each side.

Allow the meat to rest covered in foil for at least 10 minutes before carving into thin strips and serving.