Comfort Foods and Indulgences

Roast Cornish Hen Provençal

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by Joseph Erdos

corishprovencalWith its classic Provençal flavors, this dish puts you in the heart of Provençe. Featuring herbes de Provençe, one of my favorite herb combinations, it's one of the easiest ways to bring the flavors of southern France into your kitchen. The Provençal herbs consist of a mixture of savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender. Provençal dishes are known for their earthy, rich flavors beginning with quality olive oil and fresh ingredients. Extra-virgin olive oil is perfect for this recipe for its fruity flavor, reminiscent of the sweet air of the Mediterranean coast. And fennel, the classic Provencal vegetable, lends its sweet aroma and licorice taste to brighten the dish.

If there ever was an easy one-pot meal, this recipe is it. It's as simple as spatchcocking a Cornish hen, marinating it in lemon juice and herbs, and then roasting it on a bed of garlic, onion, fennel, and red bell pepper. The spatchcocking technique is basically removing the back bone, breaking and removing the breast bone, cutting off the wing tips, and laying the bird flat. This method makes for all around browned skin and faster cooking time. As the hen roasts, the vegetables underneath soften, mellow, and meld with its drippings while the meat reaches succulent tenderness. This recipe can also be made with additional Cornish hens or chicken.

Coconut Milk-Nutella Swirl Bread

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by Cathy Pollak

Coconut-Milk-Nutella-Swirl-BreadSweet tooth anyone? This will get you through, but you'll need milk or black coffee and then you'll be in your own swirly heaven. You'll need someone to save you.

I literally sat around indulging in this while I finished a book I recently became obsessed with. I'm not usually a fiction reader but I found my self engrossed in this tale of love and loss and war and pain and well you know how those books are...I couldn't put it down until it was done. It sucked me right in. If you are looking for a good read during Spring Break at the beach or the pool, give it a try.

Anyway, I used coconut milk in this bread but you can use regular milk if you like. It was moist, yummy and sweet! The loaf is nice to look at with a glaze and more coconut on top, who wouldn't love this gorgeous thing...well...my husband...he dislikes coconut. Isn't that crazy?!!

Broccoli, Bacon and Cheese Pie

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by Cathy Pollak

Broccoli-Bacon-and-Cheese-PieI'm calling this a pie. Yes, it resembles a quiche, but I prefer to call it a pie. It seems more manly that way. Plus I wanted a more rustic looking version that does not require rolling anything out or having to make actual dough.

The crust here is cheese based, you just press it in the pan and it's ready to go...no skills required. While quiche is often served for just breakfast or brunch, this is definitely perfect for dinner too.

It's not eggy or flavorless. In fact it's bursting with all kinds of tastes and works great for leftovers. Enjoy this one over the weekend!

Gimme Some Sugar

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by Alison Wonderland Tucker

chivesI was methodically chopping chives into 1/4 inch batons to balance on top of the mini crabcakes I would soon serve. I was lost in thought about my 4 ½ year relationship that I had ended earlier that day. 4 ½ years. Sigh. I was thinking about the love and all the amazing moments we shared over that time. images (1)I have no regrets, only appreciation for the incredible man that Shannon is and an understanding that love sometimes changes into something else. I glanced down at the cutting board and realized I had cut enough chive batons to feed a sizeable army – which this crowd was not. I slid the greens into a bowl as one of the servers walked into the kitchen.

“Do you have sugar for the coffee and tea service?” the waiter asked the house manager of the apartment on the 33rd floor of the Ritz Carlton Residences where we were catering. The manager opened the ample pantry and started off-loading sweeteners to the side table. “We’ve got Splenda. We’ve got Equal. We’ve got Truvia. We’ve got Sweet and Low.”

A small herd of boxes – yellow, blue, green, and pink - collected on the table.

“We’ve got agave. We’ve got honey. We’ve got stevia. And we’ve got gluten free sugar.” We all stopped and looked at each other. “Gluten free sugar? Huh?” the waiter said. “I thought sugar WAS gluten free.” And he turned to me because, well, because I was the one in the chef jacket.

Simple Chicken Tenderloin Parmesan

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by Cathy Pollak

Chicken-Tenderloin-Parmesan-bakedWeeknight dinners can be daunting if you are working all day or chasing kids around after school. We have been in the middle of basketball season, which means, three nights a week it is chaos at dinnertime. Mostly because the kids are starving by the time they get home. 

Everyone here loves chicken Parmesan, but I don't really have time on a weeknight to pound out chicken breasts, make red sauce and shred several kinds of cheese. As a result, I have come up with an alternative, quick method everyone in my family really enjoys. The best part, I can literally throw this together after a basketball game and it's ready in no time.

The only thing I have to remember is take out a package of tenderloins from the freezer in the morning. I buy them in bulk at Costco.

Busy Mom's Mini King Cakes

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by Cathy Pollak

kingcakeEvery Mardi Gras, I have been wanting to make a King Cake for the kids.  I just never seem to have the extra time.  So when I came across an easy idea to make this happen, I went for it.

The King Cake is a dessert eaten all over the world in different forms and associated with the festivities of Mardi Gras, and it is no where more beloved than New Orleans.

It is normally a sweetened, yeasted bread stuffed with a cinnamon, cream cheese or praline filling and shaped into an oval ring.  It is then topped with white icing and sprinkled with yellow, green and purple sprinkles.  A small, plastic baby is then stuffed inside and whoever finds the trinket is declared the KING!

Anyways, this is the ultimate King Cake cheating recipe.  However, if you find yourself short on time, give this a whirl.  It surely tasted delicious!!

Hot Corn Dip

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by Cathy Pollak

corndipAre you looking for a little something to go with the Academy Awards? No, this dip does not emulate any of the films up for best picture. There are so many creative-Oscar food posts out there. However, if this was up for an award....OMG it would take home the trophy in every category. Yes...it is that good. It definitely falls into that "crack" dip category. This would have been amazing during football season.

Everyone's hineys will be firmly planted in front of this dip and the TV, no matter how boring the Oscars get. If you have this dip, you are set...no ball gown needed. It won't fit after you eat this dip anyway.

My favorite part of this dip is the heat that comes from the chipotle in adobo. It is the perfect amount of spice and flavor. It is what makes this dip so tasty. And addicting. It's perfecto.

Try it if you dare...but have lots of people around to share in the calorie load.

My Favorite Corn Muffins

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by James Moore

cornmuffinsCorn muffins are so versatile, but many can turn out dry and tasteless. The sour cream in this recipe keeps them moist and tender every time.

They’re perfect in the morning with some homemade jam, or serve them at dinner with Chili Con Carne or Chicken Tortilla Soup. To get the best corn flavor, I like to use Bob’s Red Mill Cornmeal. It comes in a variety of grinds. Fine will produce a tender muffin, while medium grind creates a bit more texture.

My Favorite Corn Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1 cup fine or medium-ground, whole-grain yellow cornmeal (4 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

Guilt-Free Chocolate Banana Muffins

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by Cathy Pollak

Noble-Pig-Guilt-Free-Chocolate-Banana-MuffinsWhat is a guilt-free muffin anyway? I guess that means something different to everyone. Let's face it, muffins do not usually equal health food, but there are ways to make them better for you. A healthier muffin to me means, a little protein and fiber, with a lot less cholesterol causing ingredients and lower in calories.

I am literally shocked at how good this muffin tastes with just a few little ingredient changes. There is no oil or butter in these muffins! And they are satisfying and sweet; dense, but in a good way. They are also completely moist, even after four days. 

I used my tips and tricks for the Best Banana Nut Muffin and applied them to this recipe. The two-cup method does work when it comes to creating a banana muffin you will love.

Consider it the perfect gateway snack in between meals, with a cup of black coffee of course.

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

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by Cathy Pollak

Meyer-Lemon-Coffee-CakeThere is nothing quite like the intoxicating smell of a bowlful of Meyer lemons. A cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, the Meyer lemons have a slightly orange skin, a very thin rind and a heavily perfumed flesh. I picked up over a dozen at the market this past week to make this Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake.

I never really see these lemons around until the holidays, even though they are in season late Fall through Spring. When they do come around, I grab as many as I can. They are one of my favorite fruits to work with.

If you have never had the pleasure of cooking with these types of lemons, I highly suggest picking them up on your next trip the market.

To have success with this recipe and for the rind to soften and sweeten sufficiently during baking, the lemons must be sliced to a nearly transparent thinness. If you have a sharp knife, you will be fine. I tried it with a mandoline but couldn't get the thinness I desired.

What a treat this cake is to eat. With two layers of Meyer lemons and a lovely batter surrounding them...not to mention the very thick streusel on top...it's breakfast heaven. The lemon flavor intensifies over time, so I highly suggest making it one day and serving the next morning.

 

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