Showing posts with label Cooper's Hawk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooper's Hawk. Show all posts

Friday, January 14, 2011

Julie's Favorite Salad

Okay, I can't help it. I had to post this picture.

Kitka, one of our two cats, is determined to open the door to the room where we keep her food.

She's hanging on the doorknob in this shot. Can't believe I timed it and got the picture! I swear, if she had opposable thumbs we would be in trouble. Her sister, Violet, is much more sedate than this little critter.

She's constantly trying to get in there and I can just about hear her calling - Mom, I'm hungry!!!

When your family is hungry, it's always great to have a go-to. I particularly like to go out, but when that's not possible, I love trying to recreate favorite dishes at home.

I like salad as a meal. So does my husband. We both tend to order Cobb Salads, or Garbage Salads, or Capaccio, or a restaurant's specialty salad, etc. when we go out. Carpaccio... mmm... but that's a post for another day.

There's a standout salad that sits head and shoulders above all we've tried. It's the Barbecue Ranch Chopped Chicken Salad from our favorite restaurant, Cooper's Hawk. I have no doubt that one of the reasons this restaurant is our favorite is because of that fresh and delicious salad. And also because of its amazing (truly, truly amazing) lobster bisque. But I digress with yet another topic for another day!

The Barbecue Ranch Chopped Chicken Salad we order is so good that we've tried to reproduce it at home. We haven't succeeded completely, but every single attempt has been worth the effort!

Last week my husband said, "You should blog about this!"
So here I am.

The *real* Cooper's Hawk salad has black beans, corn, onion strings, and cucumber in addition to what I'm about to describe below. I don't particularly care for cukes in my salad, so I left them out. And I didn't have any black beans or corn.

But the salad we created was wonderful! No question about it. We tried adding French's fried onions to take the place of the onion strings, but -- eh -- going forward I wouldn't bother. The crispy fried onions competed with the actual salad. When Cooper's Hawk puts theirs together, their onion strings are fresh, soft, and warm.

Julie's Easy Barbecue Ranch Chopped Chicken Salad

Feeds 4

1 bag Fresh Express American blend, contents chopped into small pieces
1 cup of chopped cilantro
1 or 2 (we used 2) avocados, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing (I use homemade Hidden Valley Ranch but you could also use Shel's)
3 Tbsp (give or take) your favorite BBQ sauce
Chopped chicken (I used leftovers)
1/2 cup (or more) shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)

At the restaurant, the salad is a beautiful thing. At home -- well, it tastes good. We like to put all the ingredients (except for the onions) in a Tupperware bowl with a lid and then shake it up so that everything gets evenly coated with Ranch and BBQ sauce. You may want to adjust those quantities up or down as your tastes dictate.

The version pictured here is one without chicken (for our veggie daughter). Everyone else had finished eating before we remembered to take a picture! LOL

The cilantro is what makes this dish, IMHO. I hope you try it. I bet you'll love it!!

Stay tuned. I'll be announcing the winner of the Quick Reader Contest later today - both here and on my personal blog! Thanks for all your great entries. Love hearing which characters you like (or hate) best!

Mmm... I have a taste for some of that salad right now. And since I have all the ingredients here at home... you know what I'll be doing!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guess who's Guesting? Me!

Twas the day after Christmas and whaddya know?
Guests for this blog day were all a no-show!

Can't say that I blame them, they've used up their zest,
Presents are opened, it's now time to rest!

* * *
Okay, lame poem... but you get the idea.
Today is the day after Christmas, which means it's either a quiet day at home or a crazed trip back to the stores for returning unwanted items and snatching up great deals.

Here's where I would usually include a recipe. But.... I'm not planning to cook today. Are you?

Instead I might open a nice bottle of wine. But before I do, since I'm the official guest here today, I'm going to talk just a little bit about my new book, Buffalo West Wing, which comes out January 4, 2011.

With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can't afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a "no-wing" situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.

I'm very excited about this new adventure. If you've read Eggsecutive Orders, you know Ollie made a pretty big decision regarding her love life in that one. This one picks up over a year later, when her heart has settled down and she decides she doesn't have time for a relationship (uh-huh, heh heh).

I just love throwing challenges at Ollie! She somehow always works through them, although she occasionally fights back and tells me "No way!"

Anyway, I digress.

I have a huge box of beautiful Buffalo West Wing bookmarks just waiting for good homes. I would love to send you some -- with one small catch. If you'd like bookmarks for yourself and to pass out to friends, check my blog here for guidelines. Happy as anything to send them to you!

I've already had a slew of requests for bookmarks via a random "free bot" that notified the world... and I'm sitting home, now that Christmas is complete, the family fed and pampered (me too!) addressing a bunch of envelopes to send these bookmarks out.

As I do, I'm sipping a nice red wine.... Which brings me to my topic today.

I am not a wine connoisseur. Ooh, no. But, after many years of suffering through vinegary vintages because I just didn't know better, I've finally gotten to the point where I truly believe life is too short to drink bad wine. Now I'm eager to learn how to tell the difference!

Note, I didn't say cheap wine. There are some wonderful wines out there under $15 per bottle.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I joined the wine club at our local winery/restaurant - Cooper's Hawk. Fabulous decision. Every month we try a new wine - and every month we receive a newsletter explaining the new wine, how it was made and what it's best enjoyed with. (PS - just added --For Christmas my husband surprised me with reservations for the next "Study in Reds" at Cooper's Hawk and the girls got us a red wine mini-aerator and red wine glasses. How fun!)

I guess everybody knows where I've been leaning lately, huh? My husband and I even went a step further and created our "Wine Spreadsheet of Fun."

My husband is an accountant, which means we live by spreadsheets. Our trip to Europe was plotted on a spreadsheet. Every trip to Disney is on a spreadsheet. I kid you not. But you know what? It works marvelously well and we're now using one to chart the wines we try, how much we pay, and then we include a few notes about our impressions.

Two recent red standouts are the Nebbiola Barbera from Cooper's Hawk (2010) and the Chianti from DaVinci (2008). Wow.

Although I like a good Gewurztraminer from time to time, my husband and I usually prefer smooth reds, especially those that are full-flavored, good aroma, with no bite. We recently received a gift certificate to a local wine store, and we had so much fun picking out choices from France, Italy, Argentina and even a few domestics.

I tend toward Merlot, my husband toward Cabernet Sauvignon. But we both enjoy a good Malbec and we're happy to try something new.

On this lovely day after Christmas, I'd like to ask you for something... recommendations for our next wine shopping trip!

So... let me know... what wines do you like best?


Don't forget to stop by my blog for bookmarks...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Caprese Flatbread

Helen K. suggested our next Secret Ingredient and because she did, Helen has won a $25 gift of chocolate from Fannie May Chocolates (mmm... my favorite!).

But... we here at Mystery Lovers Kitchen were so excited about *another* ingredient, submitted by our good friend and grill-guy, Dave, that we've been inspired to try something new. Stay tuned and we may have some surprises in store in the coming months. Thanks, Dave!

Helen - feel free to contact me at JulieHyzy(at)gmail(dot)com. Otherwise, I'll be in touch soon.

The fun part of this is that Helen suggested so many ingredients that I'm sure she doesn't even know which one it is! We'll reveal our Secret Ingredient during our next Iron Chef week. (Hint - late February.)

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog...

For my birthday a couple of months back, my family and I went out to one of our favorite local restaurants, Cooper's Hawk, which is also a wonderful winery. I love the place - good energy, fabulous service, consistently great food.

They had recently added some new flatbreads to the appetizer menu and we opted to try the Caprese version. Heck, we all love Caprese salads, so why not?

Was it fabulous? Oh, yes. My vegetarian daughter loved it most of all, and we've ordered it again and again...

But what to do between visits? I decided to try to make a Caprese Flatbread at home.

First of all, remember that you can change/adjust/eliminate/add any ingredients to suit your tastes. Feel free to build on this basic recipe. It's fun.


1 pkg frozen bread dough. (These usually come in packs of three. I defrost
one at a time, and then cut the loaf in thirds. One-third of a loaf makes a good-sized flatbread)

Fresh tomatoes, sliced

Fresh Mozzarella, sliced

Fresh basil leaves, chopped

Fresh garlic cloves, crushed and minced

Purple onion, sliced in to super-slim half-rounds

Olive oil

Parmesan cheese

Italian salad dressing

Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Knead, then roll out the 1/3 chunk of defrosted frozen bread dough. The last photo is of two 1/3 chunks, rolled out. The rolling can get a little bit frustrating because the dough really, really wants to stay in chunk form. But it eventually behaves. I intended to make nice, straight rectangles -- I wanted them to look just like the ones at Coopers Hawk -- as you can see, the shapes turned out more like paramecium =) I could have cut off the edges, but why? This was for my family and the more flatbread, the better.

Spray a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan with non-stick cooking spray and transfer the rolled-out dough onto the sheet. Combine olive oil (about 2 - 3 TBSP) with minced garlic. Brush the dough with it. Bake until the flattened bread begins to brown. Bubbles may form during baking, and you can just pop them with the sharp end of a knife or a fork. My bread took about 20 minutes to brown, but I would suggest you leave it in just a little bit longer.

Once it's nicely browned, bring it topside on your stove, and decide if you think it needs more olive oil/garlic. We love garlic, so we usually add a bit more. Add sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, onions and top with chopped basil leaves. Once it's all arranged and looks pretty, drizzle a little Italian salad dressing and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Return the flatbread to the oven and bake until edges start to crisp. In these photos, I didn't leave them in quite long enough and the edges are still a little
soft. They tasted great, but we discovered that we prefer them just a little bit more crispy.

As I mentioned, you can add any ingredients you prefer. Other cheeses, other herbs. I bet this would be fabulous with roasted peppers. Hope you have fun eggsperimenting!

(Sorry, couldn't resist throwing in a plug for Eggsecutive Orders! LOL)