Steak Fajitas.

Fajitas are delicious. There is no doubt about that. Last week we got a lot of snow and a friend came over for a night of food, wine and basketball. We decided to make steak fajitas. When it came down to it, I realized I had never made fajitas before. How hard could it be though, right? It wasn’t at all. We cooked a flank steak in my cast iron skillet. It was not lacking in flavor or juice.

We used corn tortillas, sauteed peppers and onions, cilantro, mexican cheese and sliced avocados. It was beyond delicious. The juicy steak made the entire fajita. We cooked the flank steak for about 8 minutes on each side and then cut it in thin slices. Put as much of the toppings as you want in each fajita and DEVOUR!

Dinner Party.

I love cooking for people. But I also love experiencing other peoples dishes. Since I recently moved into a new place, I decided to have a few friends over for dinner. Instead of me cooking everything I decided to have everyone bring an appetizer and we could “graze” on different dishes instead of just one. We had a great mix of dishes: veggies and hummus, spinach artichoke soup, meatballs and tomato bruschetta. We were not lacking in flavor. My mom’s friend even brought over a couple of bottles of wine that she and her husband make themselves! It was a delicious red and made the dinner even better. It was such a great night of food and conversation.

If you’re having people over for dinner and don’t want to make an entire meal on your own, I would definitely recommend having your guests bring over their own appetizer.

Williams & Graham

A new speakeasy made its way to the Highlands in Denver, and I tried it our for the first time last night. Obviously they aren’t illegally selling alcohol, but they’re definitely hiding….

Williams & Graham isn’t what it seems when you walk in. When walking in the front door you find yourself in a small room with bookshelves as the surrounding walls. Now, don’t be confused, you’re in the right place. When it’s your turn to be sat, a secret passage is open. One of the bookshelves is a door and opens up to a dimly lit bar with an old “flapper” feel. The bar is behind the bookcase. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is. It’s like a scene from “Clue” or “Murder, She Wrote”. Only you’ll be met by vintage cocktails and a classy atmosphere on the other side. Their menu consists of vintage cocktails and most are broken down into liquor type.

Williams & Graham is a great place to hang out with friends and enjoy cocktails. I loved everything from the bookcase, cocktails, atmosphere and the bearded bartenders. I recommend this speakeasy to anyone. Plus, if you’re trying to hide, it’s the perfect place.

Smashed Potatoes.

Here’s a new take on potatoes. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I have to give all the credit to Giada de Larentiis.

This could be another take on “fried” potatoes or another take on mashed potatoes. I decided to go with the mashed potato take by adding sour cream, chives and bacon bits on top. All you have to do is boil small red potatoes or small yukon gold potatoes. Once they are done let them cool. With the palm of your hand, smash the potatoes so they’re still intact, but flat instead of round. Saute both sides in butter (or olive oil) to your liking (I like mine crisp). Once done you can eat them as is or add any topping(s). That’s all there is to it, folks. Simple and delicious!

Yes, it’s raw fish.

I love going out for sushi. It’s fun to switch up dinner and order different rolls or sashimi and eat with chopsticks. I have never tried to make sushi rolls, but have always wanted to. For Christmas my brother gave me a sushi set. He even included a grocery store gift card so I could buy the ingredients. What a guy!

I was a bit nervous at first, but making rolls really isn’t to difficult. The only part you really need to worry about is making the rice sticky enough. This was definitely tedious, but is well worth it in order to make the rice the right texture. I decided to go with an easy, traditional roll the first time around in case I completely botched it. I used seaweed, rice, salmon, tuna, cucumbers and avocados. Click here to learn how to make sticky rice.

This was the first time my dad had tried sushi. He psyched himself out thinking about eating raw fish, but he liked the rolls overall. I’m sure he will give it another go around!

If you have never tried to make sushi I would recommend giving it a try. It’s not as hard as you would think. My next task is to figure out how to make rolls with the rice on the outside of the roll and the seaweed inside.

What you need to make sushi: Rolling Mat, Chopstick Set, Serving Dish (all from Crate&Barrel)

(Christmas) German Apple Pancakes

Merry Christmas!

A breakfast treat for you all! German Apple Pancakes are baked instead of flipped. They’re sweet, savory and filling. There is nothing like baked apples.

German Apple Pancakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Maple syrup (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, combine the beaten eggs, milk, flour, and vanilla, and whisk until just blended, being careful to not overmix. Set the batter aside to rest at least 20 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a heavy ovenproof 12-inch skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat. Add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are soft and lightly golden around the edges, about 6 minutes.

Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the apples are caramelized and very soft, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir to melt.

Working very quickly, pour the batter evenly over the top of the apples. Using oven mitts or pot holders, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the pancake is golden brown and puffed, about 15 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when you see the edges of the pancake puff up over the top of the pan–this is supposed to happen!

Using oven mitts or pot holders, remove the skillet from the oven and serve the pancake immediately, sprinkled with sifted confectioners’ sugar or drizzled with maple syrup, as desired.

Drunken Pears with Goat Cheese

Merry Christmas Eve to everyone!

Tonight I made an appetizer for our Christmas Eve party. I got the idea from Pinterest and made it my own. It’s quick, simple and easy. I hope you enjoy!

Drunken Pears w/Goat Cheese

Pears
1 Package of Goat Cheese
1/4 cup Pecans
2 cups (or more) White Wine

Roll the goat cheese into several balls about 1 inch in diameter.
Roll the goat cheese balls in the chopped pecans.
Using garnish toothpicks, skewer one pear slice (after they’ve been soaking in wine) and then one goat cheese ball at a time, then place on a serving platter.

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Linzer Cookies with Spiced Jam

Last week I received the greatest gift of all time: a Kitchen Aid Mixer!

I work with a woman who went to culinary school. She was a pastry chef and makes the most wonderful baked goods! She always tells me what a “champ” her mixer is because of all the baking she puts it through. Since her mixer seemed to be getting”tired”, she decided it was time to get a new mixer… This is good news for me. The “champ” was given to her by her parents when she graduated culinary school, so naturally she has a special attachment to it. She wanted to give it to someone who loved to cook and would use it will…. Ahem, ME!

I am now the proud owner of “The Champ”. And so far, it has been the most amazing kitchen appliance I own; However, I recently purchased a set of Le Creuset cookware! All I can say is I am making beef short ribs in my French oven tomorrow night… Stay tuned.

Thanks to the Kitchen Aid Mixer (drumroll please) I give you Linzer Cookies with Spiced Jam! I promise, you will love them… and they’re pretty, too.

Linzer Cookies with Spiced Jam

INGREDIENTS

  1. 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 3 large egg yolks
  4. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  5. 1 1/4 cups hazelnuts with skin
  6. 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  7. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  9. Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  10. 3/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves
  11. 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds, ground in a spice grinder
  12. 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  1. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the granulated sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add the egg yolks and lemon zest and beat until smooth. In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts with the bread flour and process until the nuts are finely ground. Add the cinnamon and cloves and pulse to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and beat on low speed until smooth. Pat the dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working in batches if necessary, roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Using a 2-inch round cutter, stamp out cookies as close together as possible. Using a small decorative cookie cutter, stamp out the centers of half of the cookies. Transfer the whole cookies to 1 prepared baking sheet and the cut-out cookies to another.
  3. Bake the cookies in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheets. Meanwhile, refrigerate the scraps until chilled, then reroll, stamp out more cookies and bake.
  4. Dust the tops of the cut-out cookies with confectioners’ sugar. In a small bowl, whisk the raspberry preserves with the ground anise and coriander. Spoon the preserves onto the whole cookies, cover with the sugar-dusted cookies and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The cookies can be kept in an airtight container for 5 days or frozen for 1 month. Redust with confectioners’ sugar.
 
 

Pierre Michel Organic French Bakery

I have found the best French bakery ever! Well, at least the best outside of France.

Pierre Michel French Bakery is tucked away in Highlands Ranch. Actually, it’s in a large shopping center, but you have to be looking very closely in order to find this gem. Serving breakfast and lunch, the counter is displayed with beautiful pastry’s and fresh made bread.

Every morning they make chocolate croissants, butter croissants, cinnamon roll croissants, quiche,  French baguettes, French toast with fresh fruit, and croc’monsieur. For lunch they serve sandwiches and salads. This isn’t an ordinary sandwich. Everything is fresh cut, the bread is made fresh everyday and the sandwiches are so big you will find yourself staring trying to figure out how you’re going to down the thing.

There is nothing finer than French cooking and Pierre Michel will validate my statement.

To view their menus, click here.