Friday, June 4, 2010

Panna Cotta

When we were cruising down the Seine River in Paris, we had a fancy French lunch and dessert. The main course was nothing to crow about, but the dessert was heavenly. Sam wasn't overly fond of it, so I ate mine and then his too. Then, when we were in Florence, again, lunch came with the tour. The main course was a bean lasagna... leave it to the Italians to come up with something amazing. And the dessert was another version of the heavenly French treat. I have been wondering ever since what that amazing stuff was. Last night, I thought, that it was somewhat custard-like. So I looked up custard on "all recipes" And this came up, with the description of "a delicious Italian dessert". I had to try it. I fed it to the Topherbugs when they came today, and we unanimously declared it a winner. Now here is your challenge: Make something that tastes as amazing but for less than the 400 calories that this beauty clocks in at a 1/2 cup serving!

Edited 6/26/2010: So, we made this for dessert several nights ago and substituted half and half for all of the cream.  I had never tried it with straight cream, but it was DIVINE with the half and half.  My mom said she couldn't really tell the difference.  So, you could save yourself a couple calories and make it with half and half instead.  All I'm going to add is that you must try it... it is so delicious.

1/3 c. Skim Milk
1 (.25 oz) Envelope Unflavored Gelatin
2 1/2 c. Heavy Cream (Consider substituting in some half and half for some of the cream)
1/2 c. White Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1. Pour milk into a small bowl, and stir in the gelatin powder. Set aside.

2. In a saucepan, stir together the heavy cream and sugar, and set over medium heat. Bring to a full boil, watching carefully, (and stirring frequently) as the cream will quickly rise to the top of the pan. Pour the gelatin and milk into the cream, stirring until completely dissolved. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

3. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and pour into six or seven individual ramekin dishes. (About 1/2 c. in each dish)

4. Cool the ramekins uncovered at room temperature. When cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight before serving.

For Topping:

You could do just berries, a chocolate sauce, or canned or fresh fruit, however, my preference for the topping is this:

1 sm. bag frozen mixed berries, thawed
1/4 of a danish dessert (this is like jell-o but doesn't set as stiff as jell-o...and it tastes better, I find mine at WinCo)
1/4 c. juice

1. Cook and mash the berries in saucepan, bring to a boil.

2. In a separate bowl, dissolve the danish dessert powder in cold juice.

3. Add to boiling berries and cook 1 min. Cool and spoon over chilled panna cotta

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chicken Salad Sandwich

I am a little bit picky about my food (which is odd considering I grew up with my Mother's cooking...). There are certain things I do not like and refuse to eat. For example: I don't like anything fruity on meat. That just seems so gross to me. I know that makes me uncultured, but oh well.

But, I will make a few exceptions. This recipe is one of them.

I've been looking for a good chicken salad recipe for a long time and looked everywhere on-line, asked family etc., but didn't really find anything that seemed right to me. So I just combined a bunch of the ingredients from various recipes and made up my own!  And I must say, even with chicken and apple chunks, it's pretty darn good. :)

What you'll need:
3 c. cubed chicken, I used canned, drained chicken here, about 20 oz.
3/4 c. mayo
1 T. mustard
1 stalk celery, diced
3 green onions, sliced small
2 hard boiled eggs, diced
1/2 apple, diced
1/4 c. pickle relish (I used dill sandwich slices and diced them)
1/2 t. parsley
croissants or sliced bread

Almond slices (my hubby doesn't like nuts)
grapes (apples was pushing it for me...more fruit just didn't work for me)
craisins ( I would've put these in, but I didn't have any)

This comes together pretty quick. Drain the chicken and mix with the mayo and mustard. Once combined, add the celery, onions, egg, apple, relish and seasonings. Fold together.

Serve on croissants with lettuce and tomato or just plain. Enjoy!

For those of you who can never remember how to hard boil an egg (like me!): place your eggs in a small pot and cover them with water and turn them to med-high heat. Once they come to a boil, boil them for 6 minutes. Rinse with cold water and peel the shell off.

Monday, May 31, 2010

BLT Chicken Pasta Salad - 2 ways

I got this recipe from my Aunt Linda years ago and now that it's getting hotter, I'm feeling like salad every night.  But it's nice to change things up with a different salad on occasion, and I really like this one.  It can be eaten warm or cold... I prefer it a bit warm, on a bed of lettuce, but it's just as good cold.  It's amazing what the cider vinegar does to the dressing... this salad really makes you think of a BLT Chicken sandwich.  Plus, it's super easy and fast to whip up.

*Dacia's Variation* Everyone loves this salad, but I don't love the flavor that the BBQ sauce ads. So I did some digging and found another dressing and tried it and it was so good! So, see below for a variation on the dressing if you aren't into BBQ sauce. Just know that if you do that dressing, you will need to make about 14-15 oz. of noodles instead of just 8 oz.

Serves 6-8
Recipe Source: Aunt Linda

2/3 c mayonnaise
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. BBQ sauce
3 tsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. pepper

12 oz. cooked, skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut up into bite size pieces
8 oz. bow tie pasta
4-8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 large tomato, chopped (or 1 small package cherry tomatoes)
3 cups lettuce, torn into bite size pieces

1. Cook pasta until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain well.

2.Combine dressing ingredients, whisking well to combine.

3.Combine chicken, crumbled bacon, and pasta together in a large bowl. Add dressing and coat well.

4. Fold in tomatoes and lettuce. In the alternative, layer the lettuce on your plate and top with noodle mixture, and then cherry tomatoes.

Dressing Variation:
1 c. plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup ranch dressing
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 - 1 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. mustard

1. Combine all ingredients and whisk well.

2. Follow the rest of the steps/ingredients as listed above.