Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top Chef: Texas

Who doesn't love a little Tom Colicchio?
Top Chef continues to be one of my favorite shows on television. Season nine features the most chef-testants in the series history, with 29 culinary experts competing for a spot out in a group of 16 to make their culinary journey through the Lonestar state.
A couple of weeks ago, I was sent a Top Chef essentials kit via Klout because they deem me “influential” about food. What’s Klout, you ask? Klout measures influence online. “Our friendships and professional connections have moved online, making influence measurable for the first time in history. When you recommend, share, and create content you impact others.” (via If you’re signed up for Klout, you become eligible for Perks based on various factors—what you’re influential about, where you live, etc. Pretty cool, huh?
My Top Chef essentials kit arrived in a big, orange box. How fun! Upon opening it, I found the How to Cook Like a Top Chef cookbook, a pair of orange and silver tongs, a free trial for Top Chef University and a coupon for a Healthy Choice frozen meal. In preparation for the Top Chef: Texas premier, I took a look at the cookbook last night and it’s so fun if you’re a Top Chef fan like I am! It has some of the recipes that have won various challenges, a look inside the person lives of the contestants and fun tips and tricks for when you’re in the kitchen. With Christmas coming up, it would be a great gift for the foodie in your life.

I’m looking forward to tuning into tonight’s show. Will you be watching?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wine Wednesday: Dearly Beloved Forever Red

This past weekend my parents were in town, so I treated them to their first Trader Joe's experience. As we got to the wine section, this fun bottle caught my eye. I try really hard not to be one of those people who picks out their wine based on the label, but this one was just too fun to pass up. Plus, it was the night of the Walking Dead premier so I figured it suited the evening just right.

This red is a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Carignane & Grenache and is very dark red in color. It has notes of cherry and blackberry, as the tasting notes indicate; however I did not catch the hints of oak as described. For a bottle under $10, I would recommend it for any of your upcoming Halloween parties or haunts. It has great flavors and a reasonable price and you can't go wrong with either. 

Vintage: 2009
Region: Mendocino County, California
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe's
Website (link to Trader Joe's site):

Monday, October 17, 2011

Foodie Find: Epicurious App

I'm always looking for new recipes--oftentimes it seems that the hubs and I get in a rut of what food we make on a regular basis. We're often on the go, so I need something that is quick and easy to access away from the computer. That's where the Epicurious app comes in handy. 

I love everything about this app--it's easy to navigate, has multiple search functionalities and you can even browse by seasonal  categories. Most recently, I had to make a birthday treat for work and was able to look through the "Fall Desserts" category and find something delicious and easy to make. Another plus on this app is the ability to add any recipe to your "Favorites" category or make a shopping list for the grocery store. 

If you haven't already done so, download the Epicurious app here for your mobile or tablet device. 

On the subject of apps, do you have a favorite to share? I'd love to hear what apps you're using that you couldn't live without!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Menu Plan: Week of October 16th

Another busy week is ahead of us! I'm slowly recovering from the whole kidney stone business and getting back into the swing of things. This week, we're fortunate enough to spend some time with the Orrs so there's not a lot of meals to be planned. Tonight the hubs made some of his fantastic mushroom risotto with a yummy filet. It was time he makes the risotto, I need to stay in the kitchen with him to take notes, but tonight I was stuck on the couch resting. While short, I still want to share, so here goes the weekly menu plan:

Sunday: Mushroom risotto with filet mignon
Monday: Fried green tomato BLTs
Tuesday: Jalapeno chicken sausage from Trader Joe's
Wednesday: Feta chicken with couscous
Thursday-Sunday: Fun times with the Orrs!

Have a great week!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Baby Greens with Warm Goat Cheese

I used to not like goat cheese. For some reason, it intimidated me. I'm not sure if it was because it was from a goat or if the flavor was just too strong, but there was something about it that scared me off. I think the trick to goat cheese is just to keep it simple. Since the flavor is so pungent, you want to make sure to serve it with either light ingredients or other bold flavors that can stand up against it.

My lovely mother-in-law was up to visit us a few weeks ago, and the hubs wanted to make her a meal that impressed. He was in charge of the main entree and left the appetizer and salad up to me. I wanted to serve something that was complimentary to his scallops and risotto, when I came across this warm goat cheese salad from Epicurious, I thought it was the perfect pairing. The warmth of the goat cheese is just delicious against the crisp of the baby greens and the tang of the vinaigrette.

Tip: When cutting the goat cheese, use dental floss. Simply wrap each end around your finger like you're going to floss your teeth, instead cutting the goat cheese with the string. This will give you the round pieces you'll want without the crumbling that you'll get when using a knife. 

Baby Greens with Warm Goat Cheese
adapted from Epicurious
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon water
2 (1/3-inch-thick) rounds soft mild goat cheese, cut from a cold log
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups mesclun (mixed baby salad greens; 1 oz)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Whisk together egg white and water. Dip cheese rounds in egg, letting excess drip off, then dredge in bread crumbs, pressing lightly to adhere. Chill 15 minutes.
Whisk together vinegar, salt, mustard, sugar, and a pinch of pepper in a small salad bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.
Heat remaining teaspoon oil in a small nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté cheese until golden, about 30 seconds per side. Remove skillet from heat.
Add greens to dressing and toss gently to coat. Serve salad topped with warm cheese and almonds.