Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chicken Bouillabaisse (Garlicky Chicken Stew)

Abe got Jimi a Play Station 3 for Christmas this year and was very excited to start streaming movies through it.  We used to watch movies all the time when we were dating, but once little kids came into the picture, suddenly we... ok, I mean I.... was too tired to go out to the movie rental place to stand there for 30 minutes, trying to remember the movie I had wanted to see back 5 months ago.  Then, by the time we get it back home, I'm ready for bed.  Hey, you try getting up with 2 babies every night for the last 2+ years.  I used to be more exciting, I swear.

So, Netflix members, we now are.  I was excited to choose the first movie.... Julie and Julia.  A movie about... surprise.... a food blogger and how she cooked her way through Julia Child's iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook.  We both really liked the movie.  And it put us in a French cooking kind of mood, something I don't cook very often at all.

While I don't have a Julia Child cookbook, my mother did just get me an Ina Garten cookbook.  She's well-versed in French cooking, so I thought it close enough.

I know the title can seem overwhelming and way too fancy/hard/snooty/uppity/you-chose-the-adjective.  But it wasn't.  It did take a bit of time to slow cook, so make sure you set aside about 2 hours.  Perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon.

The ingredients have a few things that might not be in your pantry (do you have a pantry?  Man, I'd love a walk in pantry....).  I, personally, never heard of Pernod.  It's a licorice flavored liquor that's hard to come by- any licorice liquor will do; I used arak, an Arabic spirit, but ouzo will do too.  If you don't have any of these, or don't want to, white wine will do.

Saffron can be found in most grocery stores in the spice section.  It's a bit pricey, but it lasts a long time and adds a delicate flavor to the dish.

Now, onto the rouille.   This stuff is so damn good.  Don't skip this part of the recipe, thinking it's too hard.  It's not, but it does take a slow hand (you older folk will remember the song I'm referring too and the younger ones can google it).  And when I say slow, I mean, slooooooow.  After getting the all of the ingredients in the food processor and you're ready to add the olive oil, make sure you have a few minutes to spend on it.  Turn the processor on and add a few drops of the oil and watch it emulsify.  Add a very,very thin stream of oil into the processor until it's all in.  If you did it slow enough, you have a mayo-like sauce.  If you didn't, it still tastes freakishly good and can be used in the recipe.   I like the leftover sauce on sandwiches.  Yum.

So, make this recipe and then brag to your friends how you're a French chef.  Even if you are like me and can't correctly pronounce the dish.


Chicken Bouillabaisse
Serves 3-4

1 (4 to 5-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces (or any combo of chicken pieces on the bone)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Olive oil
1 large head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups good chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons Pernod  (or any licorice-flavored spirit or white wine)
1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
Rouille, for serving, recipe follows

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season it generously with salt, pepper, and the rosemary. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces in batches until nicely browned all over, about 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, saffron, fennel seeds, tomato puree, chicken stock, white wine, Pernod, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper to the pot. Stir and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the garlic is very tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Carefully pour the sauce into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree until smooth. Return the sauce to the Dutch oven and add the sliced potatoes and browned chicken pieces with their juices. Stir carefully.

Cover the pot and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is done. Check the seasonings and serve hot in shallow bowls with big dollops of Rouille and slices of crusty bread.


4 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup good olive oil

Place the garlic and salt on a cutting board and mince together. Transfer the mixture to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, saffron, and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth.

With the machine running, pour the olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube to make a thick mayonnaise emulsion. Transfer the rouille to a serving bowl and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yield: 1 cup

                        Bouillabaisse Soup

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Streusel Muffins

What better thing to do on a cold post-Christmas day, but make muffins?  You know Adam's game.  He was pushing his chair up to the chopping block as soon as I asked "Do you want to bake muffins?"  That boy is going to be a chef by the time he's grown.

I wanted to make something with apples, so I adapted 2 recipes I got off of the net to make this apple strussel muffin. 

Adam loved eating the raw strussel topping while we baked so much that he muttered "Mmmm, yummy" with each fistful.  Only in childhood can you eat raw butter and sugar without guilt.

It's made with 1/2 white flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour.  I use a white whole wheat that is lighter than the average whole wheat.  If you're not interested in using whole wheat, you can just replace it with white flour.

Don't overfill the muffin tin, as the muffins will all meld together to make one massive streusel-topped apple muffin mess.  On the other hand, that might not be a terrible problem to have.....


Cinnamon Apple Streusel Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup natural applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (I used Granny Smith)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Sprinkle with the steusel mixture (see recipe below).  Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.

Streusel Topping

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened  
Mix ingredients well together, either with a pastry cutter, fork or even you hand.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thumbprint Cookies

I'm doing Christmas cookies for the first time this year.  I hadn't planned on doing it, but I got seduced by the cookie article in my Food Network magazine.  Damn.  Now I'm doing 3 types (well, 2 for sure.. not sure if I will have time to make the third one).  On top of cooking Christmas dinner.   With a toddler and infant in tow. 

Yeah, I'm a wee bit crazy.  But I was seduced, so I can't be blamed.

The dough for this one was pretty crumbly.  Not sure if it was supposed to be like that, but it still worked.  It just was a bit messier than I had expected.  The cookies came out well.  They are tiny, so you can enjoy a few without feeling too guilty.  I used apricot preserves and "superfruit" jam because that's what I had on hand.  Any jam or jelly would do just fine.


Thumbprint Cookies
Makes 72 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, softened (1 and 1/2 sticks)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Jelly, jam or preserves, any fruit flavors
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.  In a large bowl, cream sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.  In two batches, add flour mixture until just combined.  Knead a few times by hand to bring the dough together.

Roll teaspoons of the dough into balls and place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Make an indentation in the center of each ball with your thumb or small measuring spoon.  Fill each indentation with 1/8 teaspoon of jam.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are golden, 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.  Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Olive Oil Muffins

Today, the windchill is -1, so it's a stay-inside-make-muffins kind of day.  I was tired of making the typical banana muffins that Adam and I make, so I searched for a new recipe while drinking my morning coffee. 

Oh, and the one I found is delicious.  It's so delicious, in fact, that I suspect it's closer to a cupcake.  But, it being called a muffin makes me feel better about eating 2 (or 3) of them, so muffin it is!

Now, I know what you're thinking.  Olive oil muffin being that tasty?  And with balsamic vinegar??  Did I lose my mind?  I'll admit, the name of the recipe isn't the most appealing.  But I assure you, make them and you will not be a skeptic anymore.  Come back and let me know how wrong you were initially!

I didn't add the toasted almonds because Adam is being tested for a tree nut allergy.  So, I replaced them with raisins.  But if he passes the test, then I'm adding them the next time. 

I got the recipe from  Picture is mine.


Olive Oil Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Powdered sugar, for sifting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.

Blend together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer beat the sugar, eggs, and zests in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vinegar and milk. Gradually beat in the oil.

Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Crush the almonds with your hands as you add them to the batter and stir until mixed. Fill the muffin tin almost to the top of the paper liners. Bake until golden on top and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins onto a platter and let cool for 5 more minutes. Sift powdered sugar over the muffins and serve.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken

No exciting story behind this one (you know, as opposed to my other exciting food blog stories..... snicker).  I needed to feed the crew and after Abe being out of the country for business for 2 weeks, I had not a lot in the fridge.  But I needed a slow cooker recipe to make the boys happy, so off I went to search.  And this is what I came up with.  And good lordy, is it easy.

Abe loved it.  Like, really loved it.  I was almost embarrassed about how good he claimed it tasted and for the glowing looks I was getting during dinner because I kept thinking that I probably should tell him it's the cream cheese he was falling in love with, not my cooking ability.  But hey, pleased as punch was I.

Jimi on the other hand did not like the black beans and I am pretty sure he freaked himself out over seeing tomatoes in the dish (HATES tomatoes).  Even when told it was just salsa, which he loves very much, he still had a "I see tomatoes in my food!" look on his face.  He did say the chicken part (you know, the only thing left) tasted good.  Abe declared how wrong he was and promptly snatched up Jimi's plate and finished his portion of chicken for him. 

Did I mention Abe really liked it?

The only thing I didn't like about the recipe was that not all of the cream cheese melted into the dish, so clumps were visible.  I think that was because I didn't give the cheese enough time to melt before feeding the hungry ones.  I'd give it a good 1/2 hour on high to melt.  It didn't affect the taste, just the appearance.

I got the recipe from   I served it over rice, but it looks like it would be good over egg noodles too.


Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts(can be frozen)
15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
15-ounce can corn, drained
16-ounce salsa
8-ounce cream cheese

Add chicken to slow cooker and cover with black beans, corn and salsa.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours until chicken is cooked.  Place cream cheese on top and cook an additional 30 minutes.  Serve.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Eggnog Latte Cupcakes

 I was invited to a ladies brunch and white elephant exchange (love those!) with a group of good friends.   We were equally excited for the chance to all hang out sans kids and laugh, as well as the yummy foods that were going to be served.  And then there were the mimosas.....

I decided to bring a cupcake and set out to find a new recipe.  I decided to check out a site called The Cupcake Project, a website that was created by a woman who decided to make cupcakes for a friend's wedding, even though she didn't know how to bake.  She spent a 9 months making a new cupcake every week for them to try and then decide on 3 for their wedding.  She's gone on to do 2 more weddings and now is doing a charity project.  So, she's got a lot of cupcake recipes, needless to say.

My heart raced a bit when I saw the recipe for the Eggnog Latte cupcake.  The host of the party the host of our Monday morning Smelly Boys play dates.  Our routine is to rotate who brings the Starbucks lattes and Nancy loves her Eggnog Latte.  So, what could be more fitting?

I think they were delicious.  Abe had several of my leftovers.  The cupcake has a distinct eggnog flavor and the frosting is different than the average, but very scrumptious.   It probably not for kids with the amount of coffee in the frosting, so reserve it for your favorite adult people.

Coffee extract is something you can order online, but I made my own.  I made a VERY strong coffee and simmered it in a pot for 30 minutes.  Cool and refrigerate until use.  It's recommended to do at least the day before.  You probably could also take instant coffee and add a little bit of water as a substitute too.

Recipe and photo are from


Eggnog Latte Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups eggnog
1/4 cup dark rum

Preheat oven to 350°F. and line twenty-four 1/2-cup muffin cups with paper liners.

Into a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy and beat in vanilla.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and with mixer on low speed beat in eggnog and rum until just combined.

Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating until just combined after each addition.


1 cup chilled whipping cream
8 oz mascarpone
2 teaspoon coffee extract
1/4 cup ground coffee
2 to 3 cups confectioner's sugar (depending upon how thick you prefer frosting)

Whip up whipping cream in mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Fold in mascarpone, coffee extract, and coffee grinds. Then while mixing over low speed, slowly add the confectioner's sugar one cup at a time, being careful not to over whip frosting.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Strawberry-Banana Muffins

When you're a stay at home mom of a toddler, you end up baking a lot of muffins.  Well, at least I do.  It's a way to break up the day and give the little guy something fun to do with Mama.  He loves to push his chair up and help me stir the ingredients.  Here's a picture of him in action....

Usually I'm trying to use up old bananas, but today I realized our uber-large carton of Costco strawberries were going bad already.  There's something about being at Costco for too long that makes their ginormous container suddenly seem average size.  Until you get it home and you realize it's the size of your first apartment's bathroom.  Anyway, I digress.

So, off I went to search for a new muffin recipe for the two of us and came across a basic and healthy one.  We both loved it.  I'm thinking this would be a good candidate for a little sweet streusel topping next time.  Mmmmm.

It calls for whole wheat flour, which I know not everyone likes for their baked goods.  I use it because Adam is none the wiser right now.  I use a white whole wheat flour that uses a lighter whole wheat that has a more delicate flavor.  Don't get me wrong, it ain't no white flour.  But it's a big improvement on the standard whole wheat.  If you're not keen on the whole wheat, you can always use 1/2 whole wheat/white flour.  Or just use all white flour.  I won't judge.
I got this recipe from


Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins
Makes 12

2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 bananas, mashed
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen unsweetened

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 12 large muffin cups, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, oil, brown sugar, vanilla and bananas. Combine the flour, baking soda and cinnamon; Stir into the banana mixture until moistened. Stir in the strawberries until evenly distributed. Spoon batter into muffin cups until completely filled.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when pressed lightly. Cool before removing from the muffin tins.