Monday, December 29, 2008

I'll Be Back!

It's been a crazy month and I promise I will be back in full force with the new year! I am so excited to continue to share my recipes and love for food with you all out there. I have received so many amazing emails and comments and am so touched by all of you who enjoy my food!

It is especially nice to hear from all of my former restaurant customers who were so loyal to my place. I really do appreciate the nice words and I miss all of you, too! My restaurant was such a big part of my life and this first year without it has been extremely hard for me....but I am now throwing my efforts and talent into Avesta Cuisine the catering company and so far it has been a great success! It is so nice to share my food with others....I cannot imagine living life without that being a big part of my everyday. So whether it is through my blog, cooking for friends and family or cooking for my customers, I do hope you all know what satisfaction I get from being able to cook for you all!

Thank you for all the support in my first year of blogging. I am excited to take this blog to the next level and make it even better....any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated! I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season and wish you all the happiest of New Year's Eve and Day and let that happiness continue throughout 2009!

I was lucky enough to get a very nice Christmas gift from my husband...the Canon EOS I am even more excited to share the pictures of my food that I will be able to take with my new awesome camera. And to all of you out there asking...yes...the Gourmet Mac n Cheese recipe and pictures will be coming in January!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mini Chicken Cordon Bleu

Mini Chicken Cordon Bleu Bites

Hello...I'm back! If you read my blog on a regular know that I am a professional caterer so at, my reader, will benefit from some of my catering recipes so that you can throw your own party and make professional style catered food that is not that difficult but will wow your guests. And if you read my blog on a regular basis and have visited my company website you will also know that I just mini items. I love one bite finger foods that keep guests from getting messy and allows them to mingle and have a cocktail in the other hand! :)

So since I've been busy with all my holiday parties...I am going to try to post some easy holiday recipes for you in the next couple weeks that I've been busy serving up to my customers. I hope this makes up for my MIA status and I promise I will be more consistent now that most of my 16-18 hour work days are least for now! :) My first appetizer recipe is Mini Chicken Cordon Bleu Bites. These are so good and I promise....sooooo easy! This would make a great New Year's Eve party appetizer! Let me know how they turn out for you!!!!
Mini Chicken Cordon Bleu
12-20 chicken breast tenderloins
4 pieces of Swiss cheese (cut evenly into small squares)
4 pieces of ham (cut evenly into slices that fit along the chicken tenderloin)
12-20 sturdy toothpicks (try to find thicker ones so that they hold the chicken together)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Egg Wash
2 eggs whisked with 2 tablespoons water
Flour Mixture
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Panko Crumbs
2 cups Panko crumbs (if you can't find these you can make your own by putting dried out crustless white bread in a food processor or you can use any other bread crumb that you prefer)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Honey Mustard
(you can also buy your favorite store bought brand if you'd like)
1/2 Cup Dijon Mustard
1/2 Cup Yellow Mustard
2 tablespoons Mayo
1/4 cup honey
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

I love using chicken breast tenderloins rather than breasts because they don't dry out like breasts do. They stay moist and tender and they're already cut to the perfect size!

Once you've layered the chicken with the ham and Swiss cheese, put a drop of the honey mustard on top of the Swiss cheese before rolling up your cordon bleu. I start wrapping from the larger end then I secure the small end with a sturdy toothpick.

To make an egg wash simply whisk 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons water

I use one pan and put the flour and Panko crumbs side by side (less dirty dishes this way!)

After you've rolled up all your chicken, first roll in the flour mixture then dip in the egg wash and finally roll in the Panko crumbs. Lay the mini cordon bleu on a oil sprayed pan, lightly spray the tops of the cordon bleus and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the Panko crumbs are nice and golden brown and the chicken is fully cooked. This is also why I love using the tenderloins rather than the breasts, they cook pretty fast!

Serve the chicken cordon bleu on a platter with honey mustard dipping sauce. I also like to sprinkle the tops with some paprika for some added color! This is also a good app to serve on festive platters since they do not have a lot of color going on in them so break out your holiday tableware. I love serving these on an all red platter with just a little parsley as garnish...they really pop this way!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Andes Chocolate Chip Cookies

That's not mold...that's the green minty goodness of Andes Mints.

I don't know about you but I ADORE Andes Mints. I don't know if there is anything better that comes in that small of a package! I don't know why I love them so much (besides the fact that they are delicious!)...but I do know that if I get Andes Mints after a meal at a restaurant I am so happy! I love putting one in my mouth and just letting it melt...there really is no better experience than that....well maybe...but it's pretty close! :)

I had my servers give them to customers with their checks for awhile at my restaurant but that only lasted about six months. I think between me and my after dinner mints bill became quite that was the end of the Andes Mints at Avesta Eclectic Cuisine! I try to not have them in the house either because again...I eat them all! But when it comes to holiday season...they're in a bowl everyday around our house! I feel like I can pop one of those babies in my mouth everyday...all day...all month long and not worry about it!'s the holidays for goodness sake!

So a few weeks ago I found Andes Mints chips in my local grocery store. I almost died! I was so excited and when I looked at the back of the package they had a recipe for cookies on it. I also heard from a few friends that the recipe was really good....sooooo...I decided to make them! All I can say is now I have a new love....those cookies are not only damn good...they are addictive! And I figure they freshen your breath so after a nice garlicky's good to eat one...right?!?!
The recipe is so easy because it's basically one step...then add the mints and bake! So Easy!

It was hard not eating all those yummy Andes baking chips!
Looks like chocolate chip cookie dough...right?
But it's so much more than just a chocolate chip cookie! (not that I don't love chocolate chip cookies...but this cookie is special!)

So here's the recipe for those oh so yummy cookies from the Andes company themselves!
(if you can't find the Andes chips just buy the Andes Mints and either pulse them in a food processor or chop them up with a sharp knife. I did that long ago with a brownie recipe and it worked out great!

Andes Crème de Menthe Chunk Cookies
Servings: 4 Dozen
Preheat oven to 350

• 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
• 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
• 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 1 package (10 oz) Andes® Creme de Menthe Baking Chips or Andes® After Dinner Mints, coarsely chopped
• 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

Blend butter, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and eggs until mixed.
Stir in baking chips or chopped candy and then flour.
Chill at least one hour in refrigerator.

Measure out approximately 1 ounce of dough.
Raise oven rack one level above middle and baking on non-stick cookie sheets.
Bake at 350-degrees for approximately 8-10 minutes.
Cool on pans for two minutes before removing.

They turned out just perfect....don't you think?

Make some for your holiday party....or office...make them for gifts....make them for the teachers at school....just make them....and you will be loved by all!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

For the love of Gnocchi!

Basil & Garlic about good stuff!!!!

There is a pasta called gnocchi (pronounced nee-okee) that my son has fallen in love with lately. I have made it from scratch and have bought it ready made in the store and it's good both ways! takes a lot of effort to make homemade pasta so if you don't have time or know-how...just buy some good stuff at the store! Anyways...gnocchi is a pasta that is made with potatoes....and seriously...what is better than that?!?! If you haven't tried so now!!! It's even delicious with no sauce at all! It's hard not to eat it all right after it's boiled and drained!

Boil the Gnocchi just until it is soft and it will rise to the top when it's ready!

Once your garlic and basil are sauteed, toss in the gnocchi and coat the pasta with the sauce.
Let the gnocchi soak up some of the sauce and allow the gnocchi "to brown" a bit in the olive oil and butter. Toss on medium-high heat for about one minute.

Olive Oil Sauce for Gnocchi
1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
3-4 cloves finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup reserved pasta water (to add if you want a "saucier" sauce)

Saute the garlic in the butter and olive oil until the garlic is soft. Add the basil leaves and saute with the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the drained Gnocchi and toss with the basil and garlic sauce. If you want more liquid, add a little of the pasta water that you reserved. Once pasta is coated, serve on a platter with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

6 potatoes, peeled, quartered
2-3 tablespoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour

Boil the potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Rice potatoes with a ricer and place on cookie sheets to cool. Let potatoes completely dry out.
Bring large stew pot of salted water to a boil.

Once the potatoes are dry, put them in a large bowl and mix in the eggs. Gradually but quickly stir in the flour.

Place the dough on a work surface and divide into 6 pieces. Adding flour as necessary, roll each piece of dough into a rope 1/2 inch wide. Slice ropes into 1/2-inch pieces. Drop gnocchi into boiling water, in batches. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes; they should rise to the surface when fully cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain slightly before combining in your favorite recipe.

Serve the gnocchi with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top.

We usually eat this as a meal but it's also a great side dish to grilled chicken or shrimp!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lamb Pilaf

Lamb Pilaf

Tired of turkey and leftovers but don't have the energy to cook up a feast well....I love one dish meals and here's one that's easy and got some ethnic flavors that will not disappoint! If you don't like lamb, you can substitute ground beef or turkey but like I always say...if you don't like the taste of lamb there's two reasons:

1) Whoever made it doesn't know how to cook lamb.
2) You didn't get good quality lamb meat.

So I urge you to give lamb a try. This recipe is especially good to ease into eating lamb because it calls for ground lamb so it's a lot harder to mess up the meat!

Lamb Pilaf
1 pound ground lamb
1 onion (diced)
2 tomatoes (diced)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (red hot) pepper
1/2 teaspoon all spice
2 teaspoons salt
sprinkle of black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 cups cooked white rice (should be warm)
2 pieces flatbread, lavash or tortillas (baked in the oven till crisp and cut into triangular pieces)

Make sure to get good ground lamb.

Dice the tomatoes and onions about the same size.

Saute the onions in the olive oil until soft then add the tomatoes, garlic, ground lamb and all the spices.

Saute on medium heat until the tomatoes break down and the meat is cooked.

Your mixture should be a bit "saucy." If it is dry, add 1/2 cup water to your mixture.

Add cooked rice to your meat mixture and fold together. Turn heat down to low and continue to fold mixture together. Once fully together, leave the pan on the burner but turn the heat off and cover to heat through. Leave covered on stove for 10-15 minutes.

I love serving this rice with crispy pita, lavash or tortilla chips.

The rice soaks up all that moisture and flavor from your meat mixture.

If you like your food a little spicier (like I do) sprinkle the top of your rice with more ground cayenne (red hot) pepper before serving.

Make sure to scoop up the rice with the chips!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Southern Comfort with an Asian Twist

Not your typical fried chicken and mashed potatoes!

I was in the mood for some fried chicken but this wasn't Southern was Asian flavors that inspired my meal! I'm gonna show you how I made some real good comfort food into a modern meal by adding Asian flavors. This is such a great way to switch things up a bit when you're tired of the same old fried chicken and mashed potatoes!

For the flour mixture, combine 1 teaspoon black pepper with 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1-2 tablespoons seasoned salt with 2 cups flour.
Panko crumbs are a light, buttery bread crumb mixture used in many Asian recipes! If you haven't cooked with these before, you must try them! Season the Panko crumbs (about 2 cups) with 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice. If you don't have Chinese five spice you can add 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground cloves and 1 teaspoon salt.
Perfectly seasoned flour and Panko crumbs will make your chicken flavorful and delicious!

Have your flour mixture followed by your egg wash then finally your Panko crumbs all in a row for your fried chicken assembly line.

1st dredge chicken in flour mixture.
Then dip in egg wash. Egg wash is 2 eggs whisked with a couple tablespoons of water.
And finally coat in Panko crumbs.
Make sure to press Panko crumbs down to stick to chicken.
Then shake off any excess crumbs.

Place chicken in a oil sprayed pan and top each piece of chicken with a small pat of butter.
Here's your Asian Baked Fried Chicken! Nice, golden skin and crunchy Panko crumbs. It takes about 45-55 minutes at 375 degrees in the oven to get this chicken to perfection.
Don't serve this Asian inspired fried chicken with just plain old mashed potatoes...make some wasabi mash potatoes! These are so good with this chicken! You can buy wasabi powder in almost any grocery store these days.

Mix a little of the wasabi powder (about 1 tablespoon) with 3-4 tablespoons water...making a paste. Mix well and let it sit for a few minutes to absorb and as the mixture sits, it will get stronger.

Mix the wasabi paste into your favorite garlic mash potato recipe. Your potatoes will have a slight green tint to them and just a slight wasabi bite. freakin' good!

I also added some Asian flavors to the broccolini I served with my potatoes and chicken.

I grilled the broccolini on my grill pan drizzled with a little olive oil then added a couple tablespoons of my sweet and spicy Asian sauce to them right before they were done grilling.

For my sweet n spicy Asian sauce recipe go to:

The final product is some good old comfort food with a little kick! Talk about good stuff!