Enjoy! Because life is too short to deprive the palate!


Orange Juice Chicken with Sweet Onions and Bell Peppers

Can someone explain to me where the first week of February went?! Or the last week of January for that matter?

I guess this is what our parent's always told us about growing older... I'm half expecting to wake up middle-aged and married tomorrow! Oy vey, and I remember when it took a lifetime to turn 16.

Here is where my head has been:

In two days I leave for Alaska to help my most fabulous Northern Californian friend, Rachel, move. This is a bittersweet event as I am so excited for such an adventure but sad that I will have to say goodbye to my best friend in the bay area. She's off to experience incredible things and while I am selfishly sad to see her go, I am so very happy for her new life and grateful that I get to be there to help set it all in motion. So come Wednesday, if you would, please send your luck and love to Rachel whom I greatly admire for having such strength to take control of her time and go forward with a wonderfully life-changing move. Love you lady :]

So in the spirit of time and grasping the most out of every minute, I present you with a sweetly simple yet fabulously flavorful weekday meal that won't break the bank either! Plus, even the clean-up is quick; this recipe requires only two pans (one if you use instant rice!), which means you can spend your time on the most important part: devouring every last delicious bite :]

For this recipe you will need a large sauté pan, a wooden spoon, and a saucepan to prepare the rice.

Orange Juice Chicken with Sweet Onions & Bell Peppers
  • 1 Cup Long Grain Rice, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 Boneless Chicken Filets,6 oz each, fresh or defrosted if previously frozen
    • Optional: Blanche up to 24 hours before with 1 tsp Salt and 1 tsp Sugar in a bowl of water, covered in the refrigerator.
  • 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 Sweet Vidalia Onion, cut into thin strips
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme, de-stemmed
  • 2 springs Fresh Rosemary, de-stemmed
  • 3/4 Cup Orange Juice
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
*Begin by preparing the rice according to package instructions. 
*In a large sauté pan heat the butter over medium high until melted. Sprinkle each side of the chicken filets with salt and pepper and add to pan, cooking approximately 3 minutes on each side. Add the fresh thyme and rosemary.
*Turn the heat to high, add the olive oil and toss in the onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Cook, shaking the pan frequently so that the vegetables sear evenly, about 4-5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper, and cayenne. 
*Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board, dice and return to pan.
*Next, add the orange juice, pouring over the chicken to completely coat all ingredients in the pan. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 2 minutes until chicken is tender yet cooked through. 

To Serve: Serve immediately, hot out of the pan over rice. Sprinkle in some extra heat with an added pinch of cayenne at the end or top with a dash of fresh cracked black pepper.

*Serves 2-3 and takes approximately 20 minutes start to finish* 

Wine Pairings: Chicken and onion dishes typically pair well with a crisp Chardonnay. I typically gravitate towards Red Wines but in an effort to expand my Vino horizons I have been experimenting with various whites lately. My mother turned me onto La Crema, which makes a lovely 2009 Vintage Sonoma Coast Chardonnay which subtly twists tones of toasted oak and butterscotch to produce a well-balanced round and nutty flavor. I much prefer an oaky Chardonnay to an acidic fruity palate and this bottle blends the notes perfectly. 

And there you have it; a healthy, no-hassle meal that lets you eat gourmet without the added fuss or expense. Try tossing in kalamata olives before adding the orange juice for an extra touch of color and flavor. 

Happy Chinese New Year to all my fellow Rabbits, it is our year! Happy Feasting Friends and expect my next blog to be coming at you from an ice cave in Alaska!

Enjoy :]

<3 Marea


Black Forest Ham & Three Cheese Cookies

This recipe comes to you directly from Martha Stewart's magical mind. I saw these delicious morsels while perusing her site and decided I had to make them asap. I typically tweak a recipe to fit my palate or make small adjustments depending on what I am pairing them with; but this recipe was nearly perfect. I simply switched up the cheeses to make use of the decadent selection I had hiding in my fridge and wah-lah! Deliciously delightful and not what you'd typically expect from a cookie. Plus the rosette design makes for a great companion to an appetizer spread or a savory snack for later. Martha designed this recipe to be thumbprint cookies; after piping them onto the baking sheet she made an indent with her thumb. After baking she then pressed small cubes of gruyere into the indents. I did this with one batch but also elected to make some without as the extra cheese made for a heavier cookie, and I didn't want my guests to fill up too quickly. Find Martha's exact Recipe here: Ham and Gruyere Thumbprints

For this recipe you will need a food processor or chopper, large saucepan, a large bowl, mixing spoons, a pastry bag (optional, you could cut the corner off a large ziploc instead), and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil.

Black Forest Ham & 3 Cheese Cookies

  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour, sifted
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Black Forest Ham, minced
  • 1 cup Cheese (I used Swiss, Gruyere, and Parmesan), finely blended
    • Plus extra cubes to press into the center, if you so chose
*Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. 

*Using a food processor or chopper, pulse the ham and cheeses separately until finely minced.

*In a large saucepan bring the butter, salt, and water to a rapid boil. Add the flour and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes. 

*Transfer to a large bowl and add 4 eggs, one at a time, until all are fully blended. Next stir in the pepper, ham, and cheese. 

*Spoon the batter into a pastry bag (or large ziploc) and pipe into rosettes onto a lined baking sheet. If you so choose, make a small imprint in the center with your thumb. 

*Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan at least once, until the cookies are a delicious golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately. If you are going to add the extra cubes of cheese, do so as soon as the cookies exit the oven. This will allow the cheese to melt into the thumbprint. 

Wine Pairings: I experimented with various cheeses and different drink pairings and I encourage you to do the same! White wines typically fair better with cheese pairings due to the fat content in the dairy, which can mute the characteristics in red wines. Chardonnay pairs quite well with the Gruyere or a mild cheddar. If you make this recipe using goat cheese (which is delicious!) try pairing it with a Sauvignon Blanc. If you use heavier cheeses such as a brie or camembert pick a sparkling wine or champagne. 

This was my first experience with a real live pastry bag and I must admit I fell in love just a little. I didn't realize how much fun I was missing using actual decorating tips. The rosette design definitely kicks up the elegance a notch and makes these cookies even more exciting to bake and eat. 

Enjoy :] 

<3 Marea

Linking up to The Friday Potluck @ Ekat's Kitchen


Baked Brie with Fig Jam in a Puff Pastry

Is it really January 12th already?? Where does the time go? 

I hope everyone has had a fabulous Holiday Season and are settling into 2011 with great ease and flair. I, for one, have not stopped moving for the past three weeks. Christmas was amazing; full of fantastic feasts, fabulous family and friends, and far too many perfect presents. We were all spoiled silly at my household. I then got to kick off the New Year with a city trip and several days showing off my new home, celebrating life and positivity with my wonderful friend Amber and her boyfriend Rob. The day they left I went straight to work, ringing in two back to back twelve hour days, before I packed up and headed out to play in the snow in Tahoe for the weekend with my new favorite friend Rachel. Have I mentioned how much I love snow?

 Home Monday night, work all day Tuesday, and that brings us to today; my first day of semi-relaxation (minus caring for my mother who just came out of the hospital and tackling piles of laundry! Whew.) More importantly, it is finally time for a blog post!

So there is my long winded explanation for my absence and my segue into the New Year. I don't know how you kitchen gods and goddesses find time for daily blogging while raising families, running households, or holding down careers! I admire you all. My New Year's resolution is definitely to find more time for my recipes. And since I am applying for my business license and getting my kitchen certified I do see this as a resolution at which I will most likely succeed! So cheers to you all and thank you for the continued support and positivity!

And now I present you with a very simple yet exceedingly mouthwatering appetizer: The Infamous Baked Brie. I was first introduced to this delicious dish by my friend Jackie in college and have been pulling it out for dinner parties ever since. Baked Brie is an exquisite starter and although it can be easily prepped and prepared, with a few finishing touches it will look nothing less than gourmet.

For this recipe you will need a parchment or tin-foil lined baking sheet, a knife, a pastry brush, and measuring cups.

Baked Brie with Fig Jam
  • 1 15oz Round of Brie Cheese
  • 1 Sheet Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
  • 1/2 cup Fig Jam, or Jelly of your choosing (I love Apricot and Raspberry!)
  • 1 egg, beaten + 1 tsp Water
  • 4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Raspberries
  • Crackers, for Serving
*Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. 

*Carefully slice the wax away from the top of the brie round. Trim the wax from the edges of the brie as well, but do not remove completely.

*Remove the thawed puff pastry dough and lay it out on a flat surface. Center the brie round on the dough and cut about 2 inches off the dough, so that the edges when folded will come up around the sides but not cover the top of the brie round.

*Using your knife cut thin strips from the edges of the excess puff pastry. If you do not have enough you can cut the strips from a second piece of dough. You need 8 in total. Set aside.  

*Wrap Place the brie round in the center of the remaining puff pastry sheet. Spread the top with a thick layer of jam. Pinch the puff pastry up around the edges of the baked brie as you would a pie crust. 

*Now layer the puff pastry strips, criss-crossing them over the top of the brie round in a lattice design. Brush the top and sides of the puff pastry with the egg wash using a pastry brush. 

*Place the brie on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, until the dough has reached a beautiful golden brown color. 

To Serve: Remove from the oven and place on serving dish. Garnish with the rosemary sprigs and raspberries and serve immediately with crackers. 
Wah-lah! A lovely start to a fancy meal!

This can be pre-prepared and frozen for an even quicker dinner party addition. Simply defrost and bake before your guest arrive.

This dish is also fabulous with fresh sliced pears, honey, and walnuts. Or you can make a savory brie using garlic and herbs. Have fun with it!

Happy New Year's Friends and Happy Feasting!



Linking up to Mangoes and Chutney's
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