Monday, February 28, 2011

Flank Steak with Sun-Dried Tomato & Parsley Pesto

I love the flavor of sun-dried tomatoes and wanted to try to use it in a pesto. I thought it would be perfect to pair with fresh herbs, served over steak. The pesto came out so good and the dish tasted really fresh. I served it with roasted fingerling potatoes and mushrooms.

Flank Steak with Sun-Dried Tomato & Parsley Pesto
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 servings
for the steak:
1 flank steak
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons steak seasonings
2 teaspoons water
for the pesto:
3 tablespoons sundried tomatoes
1 teaspoon sundried tomato oil from the jar
1 bunch parsley
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced

For the steak: combine all ingredients and whisk together to make marinade. Let steak marinate for at least 30 minutes on the counter. Heat grill pan to med hi heat. Cook flank steak 5 to 7 minutes per side depending on how you would like it cooked. I cooked mine for 7 minutes because it was pretty big and it came out medium. Once finished, let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing against the grain.

For the pesto: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended.

click here for a printable version of this recipe

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This past friday night I decided to take it easy and not go to Eric's show. It was the first show I've missed and even though I hated not being there, I'm glad I was able to rest up. I went to visit my brother's girlfriend, Cori, who was recovering from her wisdom teeth surgery. We were in rough shape, so we made the best of it by making cupcakes! After watching a few episodes of DC Cupcakes, we looked up a recipe and went to the store to pick up the ingredients!

We ended up making 48 cupcakes! and since we ran out of red food coloring, half of them were blue. We had so much fun playing with food coloring that we plan to make all kinds of different colored cupcakes in the future! The recipe was absolutely delicious, especially the cream cheese frosting, which was soooo rich. I wouldn't expect anything less from Paula Deen.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe by Paula Deen
photos by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Click here for a printable version of ths recipe

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bananas Foster Blondies and Another Award!!!

After a week of no cooking or baking, I woke up this morning ready to make something! The only problem was I had nothing! I've been bedridden all week and really haven't been able to eat much of anything, so I had to get creative with whatever we had. I saw the bunch of bananas on the table, slowly turning brown and had the great idea to make these blondies!

I was surprised that they actually came out good on the first try! And I'm happy I have something to share since I have run out of recipes I hadn't posted. I was also surprised to find that I was given another award last night! Montana from Slab2626 shared with me the One Lovely Blog Award and I am extremely honored! Her site is definitely "one lovely blog" and I recommend checking it out! It is beautiful and very easy to navigate through, she also has quite the collection delicious recipes and pictures!

Bananas Foster Blondies
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 18 blondies
for the blondies:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
for the bananas foster:
2 to 3 ripe bananas, sliced lengthwise (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 cup butter
1 shot of dark spiced rum

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

First start on the blondies. Melt the butter and mix with sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix all the other dry ingredients together and add the wet mixture. In a greased 9x13in pan, evenly spread out mixture.

In a skillet on medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and blend with butter. Add the bananas and sprinkle with cinnamon. Mix together and add the shot of rum. Stir and let the mixture simmer for 2 minutes. Mash the bananas with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes until it cools a bit and thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. With a tablespoon, drop mixture evenly over blondie batter. With a knife, swirl bananas foster mixture into blondie batter the same way you would if you were making marble brownies. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. 

There are a few instructions that come along with this award: 

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link, and thank them. 
2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers, whose blogs you admire.

3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

Thanks again Montana!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rosemary & Garlic Infused Dipping Oil

I love the idea of making your own infused olive oils so when I needed to use up some fresh rosemary, I thought this would be perfect. I was making my Roasted Sweet Potato & Chorizo Soup that day and wanted some toasty bread to go with it. So I toasted the bread with this olive oil and it came out so good and was ready in like 5 minutes. There are so many varieties you could come up with too. I just used whatever I had on hand.

Rosemary & Garlic Infused Dipping Oil
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 1 cup
1 cup your favorite olive oil
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
pinch red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

Remove rosemary from sprigs and finely chop. Mix rosemary with garlic on cutting board and sprinkle with a little salt. With you knife, begin to scrap your rosemary and garlic pile back and forth on the cutting board. The salt will act as an abrasive to help to mash up the garlic and rosemary. Pour olive oil in a measuring cup, add garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Whisk together and put in the microwave for 30 seconds. This is a speedy way to infuse all the flavors into the oil. It will be ready to use.  I poured my oil back into an empty olive oil bottle I had and placed it in the middle of my stove while I was cooking my soup so it would continue to be warm and infuse. Use your oil within 2-3 days. 

There are so many uses for this oil: you could marinate chicken, use it on roasted vegetables or potatoes, all kinds of breads, and as a sauce for pasta.

click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato & Chorizo Soup and an Award!

Here is another recipe that I made a couple weekends ago. I love sweet potatoes but the chorizo definitely gives this soup most of it's flavor. My brother stopped by a portuguese bakery and butcher shop and brought me back this wonderful smoky piece of chorizo along with rolls and pastries!!!! My Avo adds chorizo to most of her dishes and soups to add flavor and they are always delicious!

I also have some pretty exciting news! I was given the Stylish Blogger Award this past week from two amazing bloggers, Kim from Liv Life and Elyse from The Cultural Dish! I am entirely honored and can't wait to pass this award on!

Roasted Sweet Potato & Chorizo Soup
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 6 to 8 servings
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 shallots, quartered
2 cartons (32 oz each) chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
olive oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup sliced chorizo
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange sweet potatoes, garlic, and shallots on sheet. Toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until potatoes are fork tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.

In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add chorizo. Saute for 5 minutes or until juices render from sausage. Add roasted vegetables and stir. Add dry spices and brown sugar and stir. Pull fresh herbs away from their stems and add to pot. Stir and pour in chicken broth, bring to a small boil and let simmer on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. With a hand blender, puree soup until smooth. For a smoother soup, you might want to pass the soup through a strainer. Enjoy! :)

Now, there are a few instructions that come along with this award. 1) is to pass this award to 10 other bloggers and 2) is to list 7 things about me.

It was very hard to only pick 10 blogs....however here are a few that I have come to love and follow! ( In no particular order)

7 things about me...

1.) I cannot watch scary movies, I get wayyy to stressed out!
2.) Some of my favorite bands are Coldplay, Pink Floyd, and DMB.
3.) I have become obsessed with True Blood (for some reason this show doesn't scare me!)
4.) I drive a bright green (same color as my blog) Jeep Wrangler and will probably always drive one!
5.) I LOVE Audrey Hepburn and have photos of her all over our bedroom.
6.) I love to laugh which is one of the many reasons I married Eric, he makes me laugh everyday!
7.) I have a rather large collection of scarfs. 

Thanks again ladies!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Herb & Peach Glazed Chicken

This recipe is one of my favorites. At the end of last summer I had beautiful sage and rosemary plants growing in my herb garden and wanted to make something for dinner that would highlight these flavors. Especially the sage because I LOVE sage!  This is one of my favorites because it will literally take you only 30 minutes, has simple ingredients, the chicken is super tender, and its so easy to entertain with. I served it with jasmine rice.

I actually made this dish over a week ago. Those of you that have been following may have noticed I've been out of commission these past few days. I came down with an awful flu and haven't been able to get to the computer. I'm still not 100%, so I haven't been cooking (or eating :/) either. Luckily, I have a few dishes that I haven't posted yet that will allow me to post for the next few days!

Herb & Peach Glazed Chicken
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 servings
4 boneless chicken breasts, marinaded up to overnight in 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 jar peach preserves
2 shallots, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette, (1 cup for marinade, 1/4 cup for sauce)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat a baking pan with non-stick spray and place chicken and marinade in pan. Cover with foil and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in a skillet and heat over med-hi heat. Add shallots and saute until they become tender. About 2-4 minutes. Add peach preserves and balsamic vinaigrette and stir. Lower heat and simmer for about 3 minutes until blended. Add fresh herbs and continue to simmer on low heat covered. Once chicken is done, add them to skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve with rice or your favorite side! You could even add frozen peaches to the sauce. I've done so when I've had them on hand. They make it just a little more fancier!

click here for a printable version of this recipe

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Martini

Seeing that I recently added Godiva chocolate liqueur to my liquor cabinet, I thought it would only be appropriate to put it to another good use! PLUS, I thought a small celebration was in order for all the good that has come into my life the last few days.

To start off I am most thankful for my wonderful husband and for one of the best Valentine's Day we've shared. Eric sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers at work and made reservations to one of my favorite Italian restaurants! He really knows how to make me feel special!

Second...I am thrilled and honored that my Punch Drunk Love Cake made foodbuzz's Top 9 today! When I logged onto my blog early this morning and saw the GIANT jump in pageviews, I said to myself...something has happened. When I signed onto to foodbuzz, I yelled Eric's name so loud that I am sure I gave him a near heart attack. He rushed out of the shower with a bloody nose and hand full of tissues (...bad timing...:/) to see what I was yelling about! A sight that is somewhat funny now, not so much earlier today! You see, I haven't been blogging all that long, so this is pretty exciting for me! I was so upset the other day that my cake didn't come out the way I envisioned that I almost gave up on it completely and didn't post it. 

So CHEERS to the little things that bring us great joy!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Martini
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 2
2 oz vanilla vodka
3 oz chocolate liqueur
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, (about 5 or 6 whole) thawed
1 cup half & half

Puree thawed strawberries with their juices in a small food processor. Combine all ingredients in a shaker and pour into martini glasses. ! 

click here for a printable version of this recipe

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Punch Drunk Love Cake

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I thought it would be nice to celebrate with a decadent dessert. I chose to make a layered cake with raspberry cream, chocolate ganache, and a chocolate cake soaked in Godiva chocolate liqueur. I envisioned cutting the cake to make little individual heart-shaped pieces, however it was a complete failure, so instead, I simply sliced the cake and garnished it with chocolate shavings.

The cake itself tasted fabulous! Each layer tasted perfect which is a huge relief for me seeing I am typically not a baker.

Punch Drunk Love Cake
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 2 8" round cakes or 1 9"x13"  sheet cake
for the cake layer
1 box chocolate cake mix (I wouldn't go for super moist, just regular is fine because it is better for soaking)
ingredients for cake mix (eggs, oil, etc)
1 cup chocolate liqueur
for the raspberry cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2-8oz containers of mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus additional 3 heaping tablespoons for rasp.puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-12oz bag frozen raspberries
for the ganache
8oz of semi-sweet chocolate gallets
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream

The chocolate cake layer needs time to soak so I recommend making the chocolate cake the night before. Once cooled, remove from pan and transfer to baking sheets lined with wax paper. Even out layers with a serrated knife by carefully slicing a thin layer off the top. Drizzle chocolate liqueur over layer(s) and place in your refrigerator over night. The cake really only needs an hour to soak but the more time you give it the more flavor with come through. 

For the ganache, place gallets in a bowl with sugar and heat a the heavy cream on med heat until you see a few boiling bubbles. Immediately pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Stir with a whisk and set aside in fridge to cool for about 30 minutes. You want the ganache spreadable but not too loose.

Start the raspberry cream by making the cream the same way you would for my White Chocolate Almond Cream Cake. Set aside cream in the fridge. Drain the frozen raspberries, and puree them in a food processor with the powdered sugar. Feel free to add more or less sugar to your taste. Puree for 1 minute or until thoroughly blended. The seeds won't blend, you can strain them out if you wish. I left them because they really don't bother me. Gently fold raspberry puree in whipping cream and set aside.

Assemble the cake(s) by spreading out the raspberry cream and then topping with ganache. A cake spatula works wonderfully here because it allows you to evenly spread out the layers. Let cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Garnish with chocolate shavings and serve.  

Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day! :)

for a printable version of this recipe click here

Friday, February 11, 2011

Manly Meatloaf

When I think of a manly dinner, I think of meatloaf. When I think of manly ingredients, I think of beef, grill seasonings, smoked gouda, and BEER! All together this makes the ultimate meatloaf that any manly man would enjoy!

I got this idea from a Rachel Ray burger recipe. Meatloaf is my man's favorite, so when I saw the ingredients for her recipe, I immediately thought to turn this into a meatloaf! For a topping, I simply added our favorite BBQ sauce to the traditional tomato sauce. This recipe is a fun take on a traditional favorite, and it makes excellent sandwiches the next day!

Manly Meatloaf
recipe inspired by Rachel Ray's Smoky Beer Burgers
yields 4 to 6 servings
2 lbs meatloaf mix (ground beef,veal, & pork)
1 medium onion,
1/2 bottle of beer
3/4 lb of smoked gouda, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons grill seasonings
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 egg
1-15oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (your pick)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients above except BBQ & tomato sauce. Grate onion right into bowl to include all the juices. Mix well and mold into a loaf on the baking pan. In a smaller bowl, mix BBQ sauce with tomato sauce. Use 1/2 of the sauce to coat the top of the meatloaf. Bake for about 45 minutes. Warm the remainder of the sauce on the stove or in the microwave. Serve with the BBQ Tomato Sauce and Perfect Mashed Potatoes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sunday Dinner Oven Roasted Chicken Breasts

I can remember growing up and always having a nice Sunday dinner either at my Avo's house or at home. My Avo or my mom would make oven roasted chicken most of the time. I always looked forward to it! The chicken was so moist and full of flavor, and we always saved the juices to pour more flavor over what was on our plates. (Probably awful for you but I didn't care, and still don't!) When they cooked Sunday dinner, they would usually cook a whole chicken with potatoes, carrots, & onions, baked alongside in the pan. They too were full of flavor and nice and crispy. 

I use bone-in chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken. It's a lot easier, especially when it comes to serving, and well, truth be told I have never cooked a whole chicken! (secrets out!) The thought of it has overwhelmed me in the past, and Eric and I aren't going to eat a whole chicken. However it is something on my list to tackle sooner than later. 

I chose my Sweet Roasted Cauliflower & Brussell Sprouts as a side instead of potatoes to be healthier, mainly to make up for all the oily chicken juice I would be consuming.

Sunday Dinner Oven Roasted Chicken Breasts
Recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry., Original recipe by the Simoes Family
Yields 4 servings
4 chicken breasts on the bone
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons adobo seasonings
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup white wine, any kind, I've even used white zin before
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange chicken in baking dish. Drizzle breasts with olive oil and vinegar. Combine dry seasonings and sprinkle evenly over each one. Pour wine in the bottom of the pan (not over the chicken). Place 2 cubes on top of each chicken breast. Place bay leaves in dish on top of chicken. Cover pan with foil and cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes to brown the skins. Let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes under a foil tent before serving.

click here for a printable version of this recipe

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sweet Roasted Cauliflower & Brussell Sprouts

When I picked up the package of brussell sprouts at Trader Joe's this weekend I got the craziest look from Eric. A look that only suggests that I am clearly out my mind if I think I am going to cook those for dinner. "I'm not going to eat those!" came from my terrified husband, for he knew that sometime in the near future, he would be putting them into his mouth. Of-course, I am not in the business to torture my husband, I explained to him that they are very good for you and promised I would find a way for him to bear their taste. 

Last night we sat down and Eric ate a whopping 4 brussell sprouts! (I consider this a small victory!) I roasted them along with cauliflower, shallots, and dried cranberries in a sweet balsamic, brown sugar, and rosemary marinade. The vegetables were delicious! I think if I added bacon to the mix, he may have eaten just a few more!

Sweet Roasted Cauliflower & Brussell Sprouts
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 servings
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cups brussell sprouts, halved
2-3 large shallots, quartered
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped (dried is ok too)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add cauliflower, brussells, and shallots into a large mixing bowl. In a measuring cup, add oil, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, and brown sugar. You should have about a 1/2 cup of marinade. Mix together and microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. This will allow the sugar to melt and the flavors to blend. Pour over the vegetables and toss. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Turn vegetables and add dried cranberries. If you add the cranberries too soon, they get very hard. Continue to roast for another 10 to 15 minutes.  


click here for a printable version of this recipe

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baked Stuffed Chicken with a Sage, Butter, and Wine Sauce

After viewing our wedding pictures one day, I got myself in the mood for Baked Stuffed Chicken, which was one of our dinner choices at the wedding. (pretty traditional and cliche, but it makes most happy!) It was fabulous at our wedding - very moist, flavorful, and tender. I've never made a traditional baked stuffed chicken before for fear it would come out too dry or mushy. I'm glad I gave it a try, it came out great and I was very proud. To guarantee it didn't come out too dry, I pre-cooked the chicken in a frying pan (just to brown the sides) and I baked it covered in a pan with a little chicken stock on the bottom. To make sure it wasn't too bland, I took a whole wheat stuffing mix and added fresh apples, a shallot, and some dried cranberries.  The sauce came out great as well, and was super easy to whip up as the chicken was baking. I served it with my Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Baked Stuffed Chicken with a Sage, Butter, and Wine Sauce
recipe by Sabrina. W for eat.drink.and be merry
yields 4 servings
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, butterflied & pounded thin
1 pkg whole wheat stuffing mix
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup chicken broth, plus more to cook stuffing mix in (according to box or bag)
1 tablespoon butter
Sage, Butter, and Wine Sauce
1 shallot
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 tables spoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons flour

for the chicken,

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add shallot and diced apples.  Saute for 5 to 7 minutes.  Add chicken broth (according to package) and bring to a boil. Add stuffing mix, cover, and remove from heat. Add cranberries and set aside to cool down. Drizzle a frying pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat on med-hi. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken breasts. Top with  each with 1 heaping tablespoon of stuffing, roll up, and secure with toothpicks. Add to pan to lightly brown each side, about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking dish.  Pour chicken broth in bottom of pan (not over chicken). Cover with foil and bake in oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Once done, remove foil cover and brown at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest, covered for 5 minutes before slicing.

for the sauce,

In the same frying pan used for browning the chicken, add a drizzle of olive oil, bring to med-hi heat, and cook shallot until tender. Mix softened butter with flour and set aside. Add wine and scrap up shallots and other bits from the pan. Add chicken stock and spices, stir, and reduce for 5 minutes. Add butter and whisk it into sauce until it has thickened and is well blended. Pour over Baked Stuffed Chicken.

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Eric and I are huge fans of mashed potatoes! But we just like plain, creamy mashed potatoes - we do without the chive and garlic versions! Eric even prefers them without the skins. I like to leave them on.  It's easier, and you won't miss out on the vitamins and minerals found in them. In my opinion, I have found how to make the perfect mashed potatoes that compliment any home-style and hearty dinner. What makes them so creamy are 2 things: using Yukon Gold Potatoes & adding cream cheese. Other potatoes like red and russet are either too bland tasting or too starchy. I added cream cheese one day because I forgot to buy sour cream. That was the best mistake I've ever made! It really made a difference in the taste and texture!

Perfect Mashed Potatoes
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 to 6 servings
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup half & half or milk
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup cream cheese
salt & pepper

Wash and quarter potatoes, add to a pot of very salty water. Bring to a boil and simmer until fork tender. Drain water and put potatoes back in pot.  Add butter, cream cheese, milk or half & half, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash to desired consistency. I like mine well blended but chunky. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Baked Spicy & Smoky Sweet Potato Fries

If you haven't noticed, I LOVE sweet potatoes. So of course I prefer sweet potato fries over regular fries-hands down! They are a perfect side to a nice sandwich, burger, or grilled steak! The fries in this recipe aren't that spicy but it's really up to you how high you want to take the heat. I ate mine with a side of ketchup because that's what I had on hand but a nice sour cream or yogurt based dipping sauce would be great with these. I'll have to get back to you on that!

Baked Spicy & Smoky Sweet Potato Fries
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 servings
2 large sweet potatoes, cleaned with skins left on, and cut into wedges
1 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix all dry spices together.  Toss potatoes in a large bowl with olive oil.  Make sure to only use a teaspoon.  If you use too much, the potatoes will come out soggy. Sprinkle with dry rub and toss to make sure potatoes are evenly coated. Lay out on a baking sheet lined with foil or cooking spray. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Check on them half way through and stir. If the potatoes are getting too brown, spray with cooking spray.


for a printable version of this recipe click here

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Peppered Turkey Panini with Apples, Brie, & Peach Preserves

I love warm and toasty sandwiches, especially in the winter, so I decided to make this panini with some of my favorite ingredients. It was so easy to make and you don't have to have a panini maker. I used my cast iron grill pan and used my other cast iron pan to press it down.  It came out perfect and was ready in 10 minutes! I served it with my Baked Spicy & Smoky Sweet Potato Fries.

Peppered Turkey Panini's with Apples, Brie, & Peach Preserves
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 2 sandwiches
1 small loaf ciabatta bread
1/4 lb peppered turkey
1/2 of a green apple, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons peach preserves
4 1/2in strips of brie, from a wedge
olive oil

Spray your panini maker or grill pan with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Half ciabatta loaf and then slice each half lengthwise.  Lightly drizzle the outside of the tops and bottoms of the ciabatta bread.  Top each bottom half with 1 1/2 tablespoons peach preserves.  Top each sandwich evenly with turkey, then apple slices, then brie and ciabatta top. Carefully lay sandwiches in grill pan and press firmly with another heavy pan for 2 minutes or until nice grill marks form and cheese begins to melt.  Flip each sandwich and press again with pan for another 2 minutes. Remove and place on a cutting board.  Slice crosswise.! :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Grammy's Corn Chowder

Since I can remember, my Grammy's Corn Chowder has always been one of my favorites .  Every time I make it, I think of our visits. My Grammy is an excellent cook and I've learned a lot from her. This chowder does not have a heavy, creamy, broth; it is a lighter version, and all though there doesn't seem like there are many ingredients, it is full of flavor. It is perfect on a snowy day like today!

Grammy's Corn Chowder
recipe by JoAnn L. (Grammy)
photo by Sabrina W.
yields 6-8 servings
6 med-small red potatoes, chopped into small bite-sized pieces (I left the skins on)
2-15oz cans sweet whole  kernel corn (do not drain)
32 oz of chicken broth
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup half & half, brought to room temperature
2 pinches of sugar (depending on your taste, I like mine sweet)
3 tablespoons butter

Melt butter in large stove top pan.  Add the onions and celery and sprinkle them with salt. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, season them with salt and pepper. Stir and add chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until fork tender. Remove pot from heat and add the cans of corn, including the juice. (It is very important you use sweet corn, I tried using plain and it didn't have the flavor it should) Stir in the sugar and half and half. Return to med heat and allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes.  Season with more salt and pepper if desired.

click here for a printable version of this recipe

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mulled Wine

I knew as soon as I tried Mulled Wine a few weekends ago at the Salem Cross Inn, I would most definitely be trying to replicate it. After some research, and whatever I was able to find at the grocery store, I put together this recipe that is pretty close and super easy! You don't have to let it simmer all day or even for an hour.  My Mulled Wine was ready in 15 minutes and it was perfect for entertaining with, especially in January, and in Massachusetts, where the snow just keeps piling up! 

Mulled Wine
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 16 glasses
2-1.5 liter bottles sweet red wine 
( I used Sutter Home Sweet Red)
1 1/2 cup brandy
1 tablespoon whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks (plus more for serving)
zest of 1 orange
juice of 3 oranges

In a large stockpot, pour wine and brandy and heat on medium heat. Add zest, juice, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Stir and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Ladle into wine glasses and serve with a cinnamon stick.


  • You can add more orange juice if the drink seems to strong. Regular orange juice is just fine instead of fresh squeezed.  
  • To avoid ladling cloves into glasses, it might be easier to try putting them in a paper tea filter, or in some kind of strainer you may have, if not just keep an eye out for them. 
  • You can also use any kind of red wine.  I used Sutter Home's Sweet Red so I wouldn't have to bother with adding sugar and finding the right ratio. This wine is sweet enough on its own.

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