Friday, December 30, 2011

Winter White Cosmopolitans

New Year’s Eve is really the only holiday other than July 4th that is completely devoted to having a party and more often than not, that party has cocktails. I got this cocktail from Lisa on Christmas Day. She found it at Bonefish Grill. So really, this is not my recipe at all but it was totally worth sharing especially since New Year’s Eve is tomorrow night. If you are having or going to a New Year’s Eve Party, I definitely recommend whipping up a batch of these. They aren’t too sweet but are still completely festive for the end of the holiday season.

If you do make these, make sure you get the frozen bags of cranberries for garnish since it really adds that extra touch of holiday.

New Year’s Eve will be my last hoorah so-to-speak as I leave Monday night for London. I can’t wait to post all about my time abroad and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about it!
I hope you enjoy this drink and your own New Year’s Eve!
Winter White Cosmopolitans: 1 recipe
(Adapted from Bonefish Grill via Lisa)

1 ½ ounce Cranberry Vodka (Smirnoff or Stoli have good versions)
½ ounce Triple Sec
1 ounce White Cranberry juice
1 ounce fresh squeezed Lime juice
Three frozen cranberries per glass
Fill martini shaker with ice. Pour in vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, lime juice. Shake vigorously.
Pour in martini glass and drop in three frozen cranberries. Serve.
Enjoy! Happy New Year!
The College Cuisiner

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIAW #7: Christmas 2011 Part I

Isn’t it funny that even Christmas can be transformed by what is on your plate?
  Here's What I ate for Christmas:
We had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Day with the family.

Every Christmas Eve we spend the day with my mother’s immediate family and this year we made our own ravioli!

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “make your own ravioli? Her family is as crazy as she is!” Well, it was all my sister’s doing.

Mackenzie spent five hours making dough and the rest of us made the different fillings including Butternut Squash and Sage, Meat, Ricotta and Spinach, and Mushroom and Olive. 

We even had a sauce station with Vodka, Buerre Blanc, and Shrimp Alfredo Sauces.

It hindsight it would have been easier to make the ravioli ahead of time then have everyone make their own, but it was an experience.

And it was delicious.

For Christmas Day after church and opening presents, we had a lovely brunch:

Scrambled egg tortilla wraps with fresh dill, dill havarti cheese, smoked salmon, and red onion
Potatoes O’Brien with tomatoes, green onions, and currant balsamic reduction

Fresh fruit salad with strawberries, pineapple, and oranges
Mimosas with my own homemade cranberry syrup
Homemade Pumpkin Roll


Between meals we watched a couple episodes of the Downton Abbey series I got mom for Christmas. During the break we drank tea, mine from my new Tardis mug and munched on the most amazing homemade chocolate and lavender honey Madeleine cookies that our friend, Laetitia brought over for Christmas. If I die and go to cookie heaven, I would live in a house made out of these cookies and live on them for subsistence. I’m not exaggerating.
We finally made dinner for a delightful end to this year’s Christmas:

Lisa’s homemade Manicotti with chicken sausage (she gets us.)
Homemade Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad (Recipe below.)
Fresh Olive Bread

Winter White Martinis (recipe coming this week. Perfect for New Year’s!)

We were so blessed to have a beautiful Christmas with family and friends, it was a great send-off for me since I leave for London in less than a week. More on my freak out later.
As for this Kale Caesar Salad, I started making it last Christmas after seeing it on a rare viewing of the Rachel Ray Show where Christina Hendrick, from Mad Men showed her recipe for the salad. I immediately wanted to try it and I’m glad I did. This instantly became one of our favorites and sadly I don’t make it as often as I should. I love this and the dressing recipe is super easy and delicious. I hope you make it for a special occasion or just a Wednesday night when you are craving a delicious salad. Yes, Caesar dressing is a little on the decadent side but it is worth it. I usually add a little less anchovy paste than Christina, but it’s up to you. (P.s. I recommend a double recipe because you will want more for later.) And definitely use Kale, NOT lettuce, the Kale makes it and at least gives it a healthy factor.

Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad: About 6 side servings

Two heads of Kale
Your favorite Garlic croutons
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. anchovy paste
3 cloves Garlic, minced (adjust to your taste.)
½ cup Parmesan Cheese
1 egg and one yolk boiled for 45 seconds (to set the egg to limit bacteria, recommended.)
Dash of Worcestershire
Ground pepper
Kosher or sea salt (dash of oregano is good too.)
Extra Parmesan cheese to top

Wash and tear Kale and place in a large serving bowl.
Whisk lemon juice, anchovy paste, garlic, cheese, egg, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire in a small bowl. Mix dressing into the Kale. Serve the salad on plates and top with croutons and extra parmesan cheese.

Enjoy! Happy Wednesday!
The College Cuisiner
P.S. Thanks again to everyone who helped so much during my giveaway and congratulations again to Ellen @ Undercover Runner Eats who won the giveaway!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winner of the Cuisiner Giveaway!

As today is Christmas Eve, I thought I would leave you with a chronicle of my cookie-making party this week:
Usually I love making cookies just as much as I love eating them, especially with friends. This week my best childhood friend came over to bake some Christmas cookies! We made Peanut Butter Blossoms and Sugar cookies. Even though these aren’t my favorite, they were fun to make!

We split the supplies and used all of the antique cookie cutters we had between us. I couldn't find the rolling pin, so I used a glass.

Nicole gets so animated for cookie baking…

Don’t you love my Christmas Lion with the Santa hat? Totally my creation.

She only cut out a head for one of the cookies.

And she's eating it.

And it is delicious!

And now for the winner of my giveaway…. Thank you to everyone who helped me get 38 fans on Facebook! Special shout out to Carrie at Bakeaholic Mama who pulled way more than her fair share of the weight promoting my giveaway on her Facebook page. I originally said I would giveaway the gratin dish if I got to 100 friends, but I really appreciate everyone’s help with this so I am going to give it away anyways in the spirit of Christmas. You guys are awesome thank you. I’m still relatively new to the blogging world so have 40 fans of Facebook is huge for me, thanks again.
And the winner is…

Ellen @ Undercover Runner Eats
Congratulations! I’ll email you to send your prize! Thanks to everyone who entered!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!
The College Cuisiner

Friday, December 23, 2011

Small Town: Shrimp and Sweet Potato Grits

Earlier this week one of my readers commented that I ate pretty healthy for a college student. That’s because all I do in college is study and eat! If I was a “normal” college student then I probably would be eating pizza and ramen noodles like the rest of them. Luckily, when I was 12 out of boredom I learned how to cook. And with the frugal shopping habits I inherited from my mother and father, I can eat pretty well on a tight budget.
With that said, I love coming home to a full kitchen and a stocked fridge! I definitely get spoiled with my options. So with a rare day to myself, and leftover fresh sage, I decided to get a little creative. My mother always has frozen shrimp and after googling lots of recipes for sage shrimp and shrimp cornbread stuffing I thought this might work.
“Fancy” corn grits seems all the rage these days and with a bag of corn grits/polenta mix in my mom’s pantry, I thought I’d give it a try.

I didn’t feel like grilling the shrimp so I baked them in the oven instead. It was delicious with sautéed sweet potatoes over the grits. Aaron has bad memories of grits so he tried the shrimp and sweet potatoes without them.
The combination of the shrimp and sweet potatoes was so good that it could be served on top grits, with crusty French bread or on a green salad.
As always, this might seem like a strange combination but it is healthy and incredibly delicious. Add a little Southern flare to mix up the hearty dishes of the Holiday season! This is a great dish to impress company with your creativity!
Shrimp and Sweet Potato Grits: 2-3 Servings

2/3 cup corn grits
2 cups water
10-12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
10-15 sage leaves
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin slices
2 pieces of pancetta
Dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
Small tab of butter
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a frying pan heat a small amount of butter and 1 minced garlic clove.
Once heated, add sliced sweet potatoes to the pan and lightly sautéed.
Once sweet potatoes begin to brown, add enough white wine to cover them and simmer over low heat. Stir frequently, and add 5 sage leaves, chopped and salt and pepper to taste. Once liquid is completely absorbed, take off heat.
Meanwhile rub shrimp with a couple fresh sage leaves, cut pancetta into enough equal pieces to shrimp. Wrap one sliver of pancetta on each shrimp, placing shrimp on a cookie sheet.
In a small bowl, mix olive oil, salt, pepper, and remaining garlic. Drizzle mixture over shrimp and sprinkle with chopped sage.
Place shrimp in oven for 4-5 minutes or until shrimp is pink.
While shrimp is cooking, in a pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil with a sprinkle of salt. Once boiling, add grits and stir for 5 minutes or until grits are soft.
Take grits off heat, scoop into bowls, and serve equal amounts of sweet potatoes and cooked shrimp on top!
Enjoy this unique and tasty take on Shrimp and Grits!
The College Cuisiner
P.s. Today (December 23, 2011, is your last chance to enter my giveaway of a Le Creuset Gratin dish! Don’t forget to like the “Cuisiner” on Facebook! Thanks! I’ll announce to winner tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WIAW #6: Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto

With final exams finally over I am enjoying my small window of opportunity for a break. This week I actually got a book to read for fun! What a novel concept for a college student. Aaron and I needed a relaxing day so we went for lunch at a great little casual Café called Sophia’s on Market in Camp Hill, PA. We’ve been there before but only for breakfast. Their lunch was sooo good! After lunch we went to the library and I found a book after a 30 minute search. Then we came home and I attempted to make homemade caramels. They were very good but the recipe called for the temperature to be a little hotter than it should have been so we had hard caramels! After a nice dinner and a relaxing evening, it was just the break we needed!

Here’s What I Ate Wednesday!

Tea, splash of skim milk and sugar

Spring mix salad with coconut encrusted chicken breast, fresh pineapple, blueberries, and sugar pecans with poppy seed vinaigrette
 Piece of pita bread
Coca cola and lemon
Some caramel bits

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto
One roll

Glass of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
One Brix Medium Dark chocolate (made for wine pairings, yum!)

As for the risotto…
This isn’t the first time I’ve made or posted a risotto recipe, but I think this is probably my favorite. The Butternut Squash provides a delicious color and tanginess to the risotto that makes the whole dish taste richer and cheesier without being overly fattening. I love the combination of the squash and the sage together. This is based on a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens but, I added sautéed mushrooms for contrast so the dish would feel more like a full meal than a side. It worked.
This was so good we found ourselves fighting over the leftovers! With the squash, this risotto looks like a bright, creamy, cheesy dish that could easily be disguised as a Mac & Cheese rice dish to get the kids to eat their veggies! But you might have to figure out how to work in the sage for that! Plus it is great for your gluten-free guests!
No matter what, this is a crowd pleaser and deceptively filling. Perfect for colder days!
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto: about 4 dinner servings
(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

1 ½ cup Arborio Rice
5 cups Chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish)
1 cup dry white wine
1 package of frozen butternut squash (I used a 12 oz. package, some come in 10 oz.)
1 package of mushrooms (8 oz. package)
3-4 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 -3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan (vary for desired cheesiness)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper



In a large pan heat some olive oil and 1 clove minced garlic over medium heat. Add mushrooms and begin to brown. Add ½ cup white wine and salt and pepper. Sautéed and add 1 tbsp. chopped sage. Once mushrooms have absorbed all the liquid, take off heat and set aside in a separate bowl.
Meanwhile in a separate pan heat broth over low-medium heat and keep hot, not boiling.
In that same pan heat up more olive oil and begin to cook onions, soften not brown. Once onions are some and translucent, add rice, a little more olive oil, and brown together. Add wine and allow the rice to absorb it.
Add ½ cup broth at a time to rice, allowing the liquid to be absorbed. This will vary in time as the rice absorbs more liquid. Once all the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, add squash and sage with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Add mushrooms and ½ cup parmesan cheese, mix well.
Transfer to bowls and sprinkle with remaining parmesan, serve immediately.
Eat with optional rolls and white wine. (Or attempt to tell your children this is “Mac & Cheese Rice.)
The College Cuisiner

P.S. Only two days left before I announce the winner of my giveaway of a Le Creuset Gratin Dish. Don’t forget to like the “Cuisiner” on Facebook and comment on the giveaway post for your chance to win! We can get 64 more fans by then can’t we?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Small Town: Hot Chocolate and Homemade Chicken Nuggets

I'm finally done with the semester! Yay!

Now I have two whole weeks to plan and wrap my head around my upcoming semester abroad to London!

In the mean time, I am definitely looking forward to enjoy Christmas festivities for a little while longer. I already have two cookie-baking friend dates lined up for this week!

We came home Saturday to the decorated house all ready to go for our family’s Christmas Party on Sunday.

Every one piled into the same basement where we had Thanksgiving. We had a great time since this party usually doubles as my mom’s side of the extended family’s annual reunion as well.

Before we left, my friend Rachel gave me a Williams and Sonoma Hot Chocolate and Vanilla Marshmallow set. I was so excited because I’ve wanted this mix for a month. (I almost made it my giveaway…only 66 friends left by Friday. Doable right?)


It was delicious but next time I will use a fattier milk because while skim is good for most things, it just doesn’t cut it in cocoa. I love that the mix is just dark chocolate shavings and nothing else. Now that’s what I call Hot Chocolate!

I love the extra-large individually wrapped marshmallows. Yum.

Tomorrow I’m going to make my own mint whipped cream to go on top (I also got some 2% milk…it’s the holidays so it’s okay to indulge.)

Thank you Rachel, this was such a treat!!

As promised I want to share my homemade-oven baked chicken nuggets from last week.
They are just too good not to post. They are breaded and got really crispy even without any oil. These are definitely kid-friendly, just adjust the mustard to the pickiness of the child (or adult for that matter!) One large chicken breast can make about 15-20 bite-sized nuggets.

Homemade Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets: 15-20 nuggets


1 chicken breast, cut into small, thin slices or medallions (about 15-20 pieces)

¾-1 cup Italian bread crumbs

3-4 tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise

1 tsp. Dijon mustard



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl mix mustard, mayonnaise, and a little pepper well.

In another bowl add bread crumbs. (for shaking method, add bread crumbs to a large ziplock bag.)

Coat chicken pieces evenly in the wet mixture.

Lightly coat each piece in the bread crumbs and place on a lined baking sheet. (Shaking method: working in batches add coated chicken pieces to bag and shake until evenly coated. Retrieve chicken pieces from bag and place on a lined baking sheet.)

Put baking sheet in the oven for about 6-8 minutes until outside is crispy and the insdie is completely cooked.

Serve with or without sauce. Goes great with doctored Mac & Cheese!)

It’s not too late to enter my giveaway! Just go to the giveaway post, comment with what color gratin dish you would like and friend the Cuisiner on Facebook! Only 66 friends needed! Thank you!
Cuisiner Finals Sanity Playlist:
Up Against The Wall- Peter Bjorn and John
On No! I Tried- Right Away, Great Captain!
Save Your Scissors- City And Color
World Spins Madly On- The Weepies
Call Your Girlfriend- Robyn (Just because we can’t get it out of our heads.)

The College Cusinier