Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon Braised Short Ribs with Blue Cheese and Toasted Pine Nut Risotto

Our sister in law and her husband came over for dinner on Friday night with our cutest (and only!) nephew, Calvin III. I wanted to make something special since they have been so busy with the baby lately. How lucky was I to find short ribs at the local grocery store!!! I have been wanting to make short ribs after having a fantastic meal at Aerie restaurant at Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City. I found this recipe on and adapted it for a smaller group. I also conserved some wine. I couldn't justify using two whole bottles of wine. And using Mary Ellen's perfected risotto technique, I put together a few of my favorite things... cheese, nuts and 'shrooms.

Cabernet Sauvignon Braised Short Ribs
3 to 4 pounds meaty beef short ribs
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbps chopped fresh thyme
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 Tbps freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon
4 C beef stock
2 Tbsp corn starch

Arrange ribs in single layer in 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Mix rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper in small bowl; sprinkle all over ribs. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy wide ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add ribs to pot and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer ribs to large bowl. Pour off drippings from pot; discard. Add wine and stock to pot and bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Return ribs and any accumulated juices to pot; bring to boil. Cover; transfer to oven and braise until meat is very tender and almost falling off bones, about 2 hours.

Bring to simmer before continuing. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to large bowl; cover tightly to keep warm. Skim any fat from top of braising liquid. Boil liquid until reduced to 2 generous cups, about 20 minutes. Mix 2 tablespoons corn starch with 4 tablespoons COLD water with fork in small bowl until well blended. Whisk corn starch mixture into reduced braising liquid. Whisk over medium-high heat until sauce thickens very slightly, about 2 minutes.

Blue Cheese and Toasted Pine Nut Risotto
1 Tbsp butter 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 C arborio rice
1/4 c dry white wine
5 cups chicken broth, heated
1/4 C pine nuts, toasted
1/4 C Reduced Fat Blue Cheese Crumbles (I like Treasure Cove)
6-8 button mushrooms, roughly chopped
Heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan. Add shallots and garlic; stir until tender, about 2 minutes.

Add arborio rice and stir until coated. Add the white wine and stir until absorbed.

Add the chicken broth, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Add more broth only when all of the broth in the pan has been absorbed by the rice. This process of adding broth takes anywhere from 17 to 25 minutes. Taste as you go along so you don't over or under cook the rice.

When you add your final ladle of broth, add the blue cheese, mushrooms and pine nuts, and stir until broth is completely absorbed.

Serve immediately.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Thumbprint Cookies with Blueberry Lavender Preserves

Ready, Set... BAKE! Heather over at Heather Drive has planned a wonderful event to support our troops overseas. is a site that helps connect bakers with troops could use some cheering up in the form of baked goods. I was happy and excited to join Heather for Round 7 of this great program.

For the baking event, I made some thumbprint cookies, filled with organic preserves made in Honor, Michigan. I used Joella's coconut thumbprint cookie recipe and added some pecans.

Coconut Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with Blueberry Lavender Preserves
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 C finely chopped pecans
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
jam of your choice
In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda and salt. Whisk in the coconut and pecans.

Using a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another 30 seconds.

On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.

Form into a ball or disc and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Position rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and make a dent in each cookie using your thumb. My dough was a little crumbly so Matt had to reshape the cookies around his thumb in order for them to keep their shape. Bake them for 12 minutes in the preheated oven.

Remove from oven. You'll notice that the cookies have spread a bit. Depress the centers once again and fill cookies with jam of your choice. About 1 tsp fits into each depression comfortably.

Place the cookies back into the oven for 7 more minutes. If you like your cookies softer bake for 5 minutes.

I'm hopeful that Ssgt. Jennifer will really enjoy these cookies. They are REALLY good. After packing these up, I added a picture of Matt and I from the wedding and a note, letting her know where we're from and how much we appreciate her dedication.

Friday, April 3, 2009

New York Strip with Blue Cheese Sauce and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Our local market had a great deal on some fantastic looking New York Strip steaks. We bought a larger steak, trimmed it of all fat and made two perfect morsels of steak. We also bought some brussel sprouts from Meijer because I was craving them... note that I have never had brussel sprouts in my life. We roasted them and they were excellent! I can't wait for our local farmer's market to open for the summer so we can buy some locally made brussel sprouts!

But the real highlight of the dinner was the blue cheese sauce. This sauce was so simple, yet complemented the steak so well.

We pan seared the steak to the perfect medium-rare preparation that I love so much. After removing the steak from the skillet, I added some roughly sliced button mushrooms and sauteed until soft. Then I added 1/2 cup half and half and brought it up to temperature. Then I added 1/4 cup of Treasure Cove reduced fat blue cheese crumbles. The sauce needed just a moment to thicken before we poured it over the steak.

I can't say enough about the simplicity of this sauce. With the delicious steak and my new-found treasure in brussel sprouts, this was a hit. Matt couldn't stop raving about it between bites. We can't wait to make this one again!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Almond Crusted Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

What a healthy, yummy treat this was! I found this recipe in the April 2009 issue of Eating Well magazine. It called for pork tenderloin medallions which I bet would be equally tasty. Baking these strips kept them nice and healthy and the honey mustard sauce provided a complementary tangy zip.

1 eight oz. chicken breast, cut lengthwise and then into thin strips
1 C coarse dry breadcrumbs
1/2 C sliced almonds, crushed
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg white, beaten (or 1/4 C Egg Beaters)
1/4 C honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place breadcrumbs, almonds, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl and mix well.

Place egg white in another shallow bowl. Dip both sides of chicken pieces in eggs white, then evenly coat with almond mixture. Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and coat both sides with cooking spray.

Bake the chicken until golden brown and no longer pink in the center, 16 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the honey, soy sauce and mustard in a small bowl (I used too small of a bowl. I couldn’t break apart the mustard. Be sure to use a big enough bowl that the whisk can break apart the mustard).

Serve the chicken strips with the honey mustard sauce.

WW Points per serving (half the recipe): 6 Points