Entertaining Tips & Tricks
Our Favorite Recipes
Wedding Planning Guides
Entertaining Tips & Tricks
Our Favorite Recipes
Wedding Planning Guides
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
½ cup finely diced yellow onion
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
½ cup parmesan cheese
6 ounces whole milk mozzarella, shredded or sliced
In a small saucepan, bring the four cups of chicken broth to a simmer over medium heat.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt together the butter and olive oil. Add garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper, and sauté over medium low heat until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the Arborio rice, coating it in the butter and oil, and cooking until the rice becomes opaque.
Deglaze the pan with white wine, stirring constantly until the wine has completely evaporated. At this point, you will start to slowly add the broth, one ladle (about 3/4 of a cup), at a time. Turn the burner down so that the rice is at a very low simmer, stirring frequently. Once the first ladle of broth has evaporated, add another. It will typically take 20-25 minutes to cook the rice, and you may not need all 4 cups of broth. After about 4 ladles full, taste the rice to check for doneness. Once the rice is cooked to your desired doneness, stir in the parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat your broiler on high. Top the rice with mozzarella and place it until the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starts to brown.
I like to serve it with a Tomato Basil Relish, with is really not a recipe, but more a mix together to taste. Chopped fresh tomato, a little garlic, either microplaned or granulated powder, olive oil, minced fresh basil, oregano, parsley, whatever fresh herbs I have, and a pinch of salt and pepper. If you like olives (not my personal favorite) they or capers would do well in this relish as well.
If you haven’t added gnocchi to your shopping list, you should. It is a great alternative to either pasta or potatoes because well, it’s both. Gnocchi is essentially a potato pasta, it is pretty simple to make, you likely have all the ingredients in your house – russet potatoes, egg, flour, and salt, and it is even easier to buy. If you are feeling adventuresome, I used this recipe from Fine Cooking. There are even some cauliflower options out there, the one from Trader Joe’s has a cult following, though I will be honest, it wasn’t my favorite. I have even seen some sweet potato gnocchi recipes, and that may be my next experiment. For this dinner however, I used some homemade gluten-free gnocchi that I had frozen, but a package from your favorite grocery will do equally well.
Serves: 2 as a Main Course, 4 as a Side
1 lb gnocchi
2 tbsps butter
2 tbsps olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach, washed
4-5 Campari tomatoes, halved, then quartered*
2 tbsps basil pesto
½ cup half and half
4 oz fontina cheese (any Italian semi-hard cheese would work well here)
*about handful of cherry tomatoes halved would work equally well here
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium low heat. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add spinach and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally as the spinach wilts and the tomatoes slightly breakdown.
Cook the gnocchi according to the package direction. In most cases, once the gnocchi float it is done. Using a spider or a large slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the sauté pan. Add the pesto, half and half, and fontina, and toss the mixture over medium heat. As the cheese melts, it will cause the sauce to tighten and coat the gnocchi. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Beef & Bean Enchilada Bake
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes while assembling remaining ingredients. For some recipes, if you want a thicker sauce, add 1 tbsp of cornstarch to mixture with the seasonings.
To Assemble in a 9x9 Baking Dish:
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling around the edges.
Yield: 8-10 servings, enough for 2 lbs pasta⠀
6 tbsps butter⠀
2 tbsps olive oil⠀
1 large onion, diced⠀
2 stalks celery, diced⠀
2 carrots, peeled and diced⠀
1 lb ground sirloin (90/10)⠀
1/2 lb mild Italian sausage⠀
2 cups milk (2% or whole)⠀
2 cups white wine⠀
2 - 15 oz cans tomato sauce ⠀
1 - 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes ⠀
1 tbsp Italian seasoning⠀
1 tsp dried basil ⠀
Salt and pepper to taste ⠀
Melt butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onion, celery, and carrots, and cook for 6-8 minutes, then add ground beef and sausage. Stirring frequently, brown the meats, breaking them up into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
Once meat is cooked through, add the milk. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently as the milk reduces. Once the milk has completely evaporated, add the white wine. Continue boiling until wine has reduced by half. ⠀
Add tomatoes and seasoning and turn the heat down to low and cover. Allow to slowly simmer for 2-3 hours. ⠀
I personally like this sauce with a thicker pasta like fettuccine. Cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with a couple tablespoons butter in the cooking pot. Add sauce to coat over medium low heat. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve with plenty of Parmesan cheese. ⠀
I realize that a month ago, the idea that you would be making your own bread might be unthinkable. And let’s be honest, there is a whole lot about what is going on right now that feels more like a Hollywood movie script than real life.
But here we are. Practicing social distancing and hoping for the best. I grew up making bread. My mom made pizza dough, yeast rolls, homemade cinnamon rolls . . . so yeast has never been scary for me. My husband would tell you I am a transplanted northerner, and for the longest time, biscuits were more intimidating to me than homemade bread.
I went to the grocery store yesterday, and while it is back to being closer than normal than what it was two weeks ago, if you are only trying to go every couple of weeks like us, then making your own bread is the best option. And here’s the secret, once you master the technique, it is really not that hard. I am going to take you step by step through the process. It takes about 4 hours, but it is mostly unattended, an easy afternoon activity while you are binging on Netflix. Can we talk about Tiger King . . .
Step By Step
Old Fashioned White Bread ⠀
1 loaf ⠀
1 tbsp or packet active dry yeast⠀
1/4 cup white sugar⠀
1/2 cup warm water (this should be warm not hot)⠀
1/2 cup milk⠀
4 tbsps softened butter⠀
3 cups all-purpose flour⠀
2 tsps kosher salt ⠀
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow to sit for 10 minutes (you are confirming that the yeast is alive before adding the remaining ingredients).
Once the yeast is proofed, it will have grown and will look kind of foamy, like the top of a café au late, add the remaining ingredients. Using the dough hook attachment, yes that piece you may have never used before, and on low speed, start mixing the down. You want the dough to knead for about 15 minutes, I set a timer. At first it may not come together, but give it a few minutes and a dough ball will form.
After 15 minutes, put the dough in a greased bowl (you can use a little olive oil or cooking spray), and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Place in a warm place in your kitchen. You can create a warm place by microwaving a mug of water until boiling, then adding the bowl of covered dough to the microwave. Allow to rise for 1 hour. ⠀⠀
After 1 hour, punch the dough down and knead on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes. To shape the loaf, pat it out to an 8x8 square, then fold it in thirds like a letter. Then take the two sides and pinch together to make a fat cylinder. Place the dough seam side down in a large, greased loaf pan. Mine is a Pyrex 4.5”x8.5” loaf pan. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes covered back in its warm place. ⠀
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes, until the outside is golden brown and the loaf makes a hollow sound when tapped. ⠀
Remove from the pan onto a rack to cool. ⠀
Chances are that if you are married, in a relationship, or even not in a relationship, you are aware that Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Now, I'll be honest, I think Valentine's Day is solidly in the Hallmark holiday column, but even still, I will be joining the huddled masses in the greeting card aisle looking for the perfect card for Mr. Type A.
What we won't be doing, is heading out to dinner this weekend. If you have ever worked in food and beverage, you know that there are certain dates that restaurants are best avoided, and Valentine's Day ranks right up there after Mother's Day and Easter Sunday.
Instead, I'll be cooking a nice but easy dinner for two at home. And while I'll still have to do some dishes, I can do them with a glass of red wine in my hand, and probably for less than half the cost of a similar meal out, especially when you take that bottle of cab into account.
Seared & Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Aioli
Fingerling Potatoes Frites with Parmesan & Thyme
Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Purchased) or Chocolate Crème Brulee
Seared & Roasted Beef Tenderloin
In my opinion, everyone should have a few basic, really good, really easy recipes in their arsenal, and as far as I am concerned, this seared and roasted beef tenderloin is one of those.
What you'll need:
1 cast iron or heavy-duty sauté pan
Vegetable Oil (some recipes call for olive oil, but I prefer vegetable because it has a higher smoke point)
Salt & Pepper
2 - chateaubriand cut beef tenderloin steak (about 12 ounces each)*
*Chateaubriand refers to the cut and can be found at your better butcher shops and meat counters. I always buy mine at my local The Fresh Market.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pat beef dry with paper towels. Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Season both sides of steaks liberally with seasoning.
Heat skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to pan and heat until it begins to shimmer.
Add steaks to pan and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, until a nice sear forms.
Remove filets to a roasted pan. Place in oven and roast to desired doneness.
2" Beef Tenderloin - 400 degrees
8-10 Minutes - Rare
12-14 Minutes - Medium Rare
16-18 Minutes - Medium
20 - 22 Minutes - Medium Well
After steaks are cooked to desired doneness (we like ours differently, so I start Mr. Type A's and then add mine once enough time as elapsed). Remove from the oven and tent with foil for 10 minutes before serving.
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I like either Hellmann's or Duke's)
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish (this will likely be in the refrigerated section at the grocery)
1 large clove garlic, microplaned*
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
*If you don't have a microplane, I highly recommend for garlic and citrus zest, not to mention cheese, but you can alternatively mince the garlic very fine with a chef's knife and add the salt to act as an abrasive and make a thick paste.
Fingerling Potatoes Frites
1 pound fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces shaved parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry potatoes, then slice in quarter lengthwise so they look like thick-cut fries. Toss with oil and kosher salt.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Once tender and crisp, remove from oven and top with freshly ground pepper, parmesan, and fresh thyme.
1 pound fresh asparagus
kosher salt & black pepper
Trim asparagus. The easiest way to know where to cut the woody ends is to take a stalk between your hands and bend. The stalk will break where it needs to be trimmed. Place on a parchment lines baking sheet. Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 6-8 minutes for thinner asparagus and 10-12 for thicker.
Because both Mr. Type A and my youngest are gluten-free, we do a lot of gluten-free desserts, either items that are inherently gluten-free, or recipes that I have tweaked to make them gluten-free. And since this meal is fairly heavy, I think Chocolate Covered Strawberries make the perfect dessert. Unless you love playing with chocolate, I would just buy a half dozen and call it a day. If instead you are looking to make something wonderful, we made Ina Garten's Chocolate Crème Brulee at Christmas and it was a huge hit. The only change I made was to substitute bourbon for the coffee liquor. Her recipe can be found here.