Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What's for Dinner? Bleu Cheese Gnocchi

Here is a standby dish that is helpful for one of those days
when you've spent the day doing other things and hadn't
even thought about what to fix for dinner:  
Bleu Cheese Gnocchi with Spinach.
Anyone can work wonders with one of these in the pantry. 
This Gnocchi comes vacuummed-packed and is not refrigerated.
There are different brands and I have seen them at WalMart
as well as World Market.  They have a pretty long shelf
life which makes them a great item to keep in the pantry.
Once cooked, they are delicious tossed with fresh tomatoes, basil, and
olive oil or any other favorite sauce of your's.
I am making this gnocchi with bleu cheese and spinach.
I began by bringing a large pot of water to boiling.
I cook these packaged gnocchi the same as I do freshly made gnocchi:
I pour all gnocchi into the boiling water and they sink to the bottom.
Each piece of gnocchi will rise to the top when it is fully cooked.
While the gnocchi are in the boiling water, I spread the sour cream into
the bottom of the baking dish, then grate the parmesan evenly over that.
Once all the gnocchi have risen to the top, I add all the fresh baby
spinach, give it a quick stir, then immediately drain into a collander.
The gnocchi and wilted spinach is then added to the baking dish
on top of the sour cream/parmesan mixture...
 ...then stirred to fully combine.  The bleu cheese is now
crumbled over the top.  Tonight I used a a Stilton bleu cheese
because that is what I had in my refrigerator but any favorite bleu
cheese will work just fine.  The baking dish is now placed under the boiler
until hot and the bleu cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
This dish is very rich, very filling, and very delicious!
Bleu Cheese Gnocchi
Adapted/Converted from BBC Good Food Mag./October 2004
Serves 4
1 lb. gnocchi
one ready-bag of baby spinach
3 1/2 oz. sour cream
4 tablespoons grated parmesan
soft bleu cheese, crumbled
Cook the gnocchi in a pot of boiling water according to package directions.  They are done when they rise and float on the top of the water.  When all have risen to the top, plunge the spinach into the same water, then immediately drain through a colander and shake off any excess water.
Put the sour cream in a small baking dish with the grated parmesan cheese. Add the hot, drained gnocchi and spinach and give everything a good stir.  Crumble the bleu cheese over and season with ground pepper.
Slide the dish under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Serve immediately.
I will be joining
Rattlebridge Farm's Foodie Friday
Thank you for visiting!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Wishes!

I have been having a good time changing photos
using the Waterlogue app on my iPad.
Here is a Waterlogued photo of me with a dozen red
roses I received from my sweetie for Valentine's Day today!
(He knows I love flowers!!)
Here's wishing all of you a Happy Heart's Day
and may your day be overflowing with all things pink and red!
Happy Valentine's!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Queen's Valentine's Dinner

Each year, a Valentine's Queen is elected in my sorority
chapter.  She is a gal who gives of herself her friendship,
is supportive, and is a gal we can look up to and see
a smiling face.  She is a true sorority sister in every way.
She gets to wear our chapter's coveted Queen's Crown...
...and a Queen's Valentine's Dinner is given in her honor.
Her dinner was given at a sorority sister's home the other night.
The sister hostess set a lovely table made the dinner. She asked me
to make the dessert.  Days prior, I asked our Queen what
her favorite dessert was.  She responded with "cupcakes".
The dinner was going to be a plated-sit down dinner so I opted for
Creme Brulee with dinner and Cupcakes saved for later in the evening.
The red and pink cupcakes rested beautifully on the piano while we ate dinner.
The Valentine's dinner began with festive salads plated
on the table when the sorority sisters arrived.
We each sat down with our choice of red or white wine
to a delicious entree of chicken, roasted potatoes, and green beans.
I made Creme Brulee in shallow ramekins garnished with
raspberries, mint, and a flourless-chocolate cake heart
cut-out and drizzled with chocolate.
Here is the evening's actual dinner menu:
Mixed Green Salad w/Beet-Infused Goat Cheese Hearts
Chicken Parmesan w/Marinara Sauce, Avocados, and Mozzarella Cheese
Roasted Red Potatoes
Steamed Haricots Verts
Creme Brulee w/Flourless Chocolate Cake Heart Garnish
Rose-Piped Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
The dinner was delicious!
After a lively dinner, we settled into the livingroom, each exchanged
Valentines, then ate the cupcakes - leaving four for the
Queen to take home to her family.
It was a fun evening and one we all look forward to every year.
I hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for visiting!
I will be joining
Susan's Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursdays.
Feel free to go on over and check out all the tablescapes linked there.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Honey Lavender Ice Cream

I love how in the movie It's Complicated, Meryl Streep confesses that
when she can't sleep at night she makes Lavender Ice Cream.
I can SO relate.  Lavender Ice Cream, when you make it, has the
wonderful aroma of lavender as it steeps in the cream.  When you eat it,
Lavender Ice Cream has its distinct flavor of lavender and
the richness of the cream.  It is just lovely to eat and
a little bit of heaven in my book! 
 I have tried many variations of Lavender Ice Cream.
A really good one is this Honey Lavender Ice Cream which is
sweetened by honey not granulated sugar. 
The honey gives it another added flavor dimension. 
I have made different variations using different milks
with different fat contents. I just really like this one.
It's just pure decadence!
Be sure to use dried lavender used for culinary uses which
insures no pesticides have been used on the lavender.
Some grocery stores sell it as well as gourmet specialty stores.
I'm sure you can find it on the internet as well.
My jar of Culinary Lavender came from
 Nicole's Market & Cafe in South Pasadena.
Although it does require a counter top ice cream maker,
it is not difficult to make, and once put into a container like this
and stashed into the freezer, it is a special sexy treat waiting in
the freezer for any quiet but sexy evening in front of a fire. 
Perfect for lovers (or just yourself!) in the month of February!
Here is how it is made:
Honey Lavender Ice Cream
Recipe source: Gourmet Mag / Sept. 2003
Makes apx. 1 quart.

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup mild honey
2 tablespoons dried edible lavender flowers
2 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
Special equipment: a candy or instand-read thermometer; an ice cream maker

Bring cream, half-and-half, honey, and lavender just to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, then remove pan from heat. Let steep, covered, 30 minutes.

Pour cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard lavender. Return mixture to cleaned saucepan and heat over moderate heat until hot. Whisk together eggs and salt in a lage bowl, then add 1 cup hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Pour into remaining hot cream mixture in saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat back of spoon and registers 170 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit on thermometer, about 5 minutes (do not let boil).

Pour custard through sieve into cleaned bowl and cool completely, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours.  Freeze custard in ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

Cook's notes:
To cool custard quickly after straining, set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir until chilled. Custard can chill up to 1 day before freezing.

Enjoy and thank you for stopping by!
This week I will again be joining
Rattlebridge Farm's Foodie Friday


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