Cook Like a Champion bio picture
  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: July 2012

Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese Crostini

Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese Crostini
I love when tomatoes come into season. The farmer’s markets here explode with all the bright colors of fresh tomatoes, making it almost impossible to resist buying them. I always dread the days when summer ends and these gorgeous tomatoes are no longer available. That’s why I’m not wasting any time eating as many tomatoes as I can before the season ends. Our neighbors recently had a crab picking (like I’ve said before, we really have the best neighbors), and I wanted to take something light and fresh as an appetizer. The crostini were the perfect way to showcase the tomatoes without being too filling.

The idea for these crostini came from a pizza recipe that Eric and I regularly make during summer (and one that I seriously need to share with you guys). It uses roasted tomatoes, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll eat a few while making the rest of the pizza. I love the way roasting brings out the sweetness from the tomatoes, while also concentrating their flavor. I’ve seen similar methods for preserving tomatoes (tomato confit), and I can think of so many things these tomatoes would be good in/on. I had a pretty specific idea in mind when I made these. Since the crab picking was outside, I wanted to make something that didn’t need to be refrigerated and that would be easy and refreshing to eat. Crostini are a natural choice because the flavor combinations are practically limitless, and you don’t need a plate or utensils in order to eat them. I chose goat cheese because of its mild flavor, easy spreadability and the fact that goat cheese and tomatoes just seem made for one another. The result – an appetizer that epitomizes the simplicity and freshness of summer dining – was insanely delicious, especially considering the small amount of time and prep that went into it.

Not a fan of tomatoes? Goat cheese and roasted peppers make wonderful crostini, too.

Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese Crostini

Get the recipe »


Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Coffee Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Have you ever had a day where nothing really sounds good for dinner? This doesn’t happen often around here, especially when we’ve planned out the week’s menu. Occasionally, though, I’m just lacking inspiration. On days like that, I’ll peruse Pinterest, food photo sites or my Google Reader in hopes that something will pop out at me. After striking out in all of those places, I saw this recipe pop up in my Facebook news feed. I had all the ingredients on hand, like it was meant to be. I love when things work out like that.

This is an ideal summer recipe. There’s minimal prep, just a few ingredients, and it cooks quickly on the grill. The tenderloin is rubbed in a mixture of coffee, brown sugar and chili powder, giving it an earthy, smoky and slightly sweet flavor. Being the coffee lovers we are, Eric and I love anything with coffee in (or on) it, but I think even non-coffee drinkers will appreciate the flavor the coffee beans add to this dish. The rub gives the pork a wonderful crust and helps keep the moisture inside. I knew this had been perfectly cooked when we sliced into it and saw just how tender and juicy it was. We served this with grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes, but next time I’ll swap the roasted potatoes for grits or polenta.

Get the recipe »


Cherry Amaretto Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Cherry Amaretto Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
I’m officially crazy for cherries. After picking up three pounds at Trader Joe’s recently, I’ve found so many recipes to use them in. This was my first time working with fresh cherries, and I had no idea what a mess I would make while pitting them. With results as delicious as this, I’d say my stained fingers and counter were well worth it. I’ve read that straws work for pitting cherries, but I didn’t want to take any chances and picked up a cherry pitter instead. It reduced the mess some and was very effective.

The first recipe I had in mind before I even bought these cherries was ice cream, specifically something similar to Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. That is, hands down, one of my favorite ice cream flavors, and I knew I had to recreate it. This ice cream is another simple one, no eggs needed. The milk and cream are first infused with the cherries, then the whole mixture is blended, turning the ice cream a beautiful pink color. Additional cherries are added for texture and flavor, and the whole thing is finished with chocolate chips. The amaretto adds a delicate almond flavor and also prevents the ice cream from freezing too hard, which is especially useful when the ice cream is made without eggs. It’s been forever since I’ve had Cherry Garcia, but I think this recipe comes pretty close.

Cherry Amaretto Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Get the recipe »


Pan-Seared Filets Mignons with Roasted Garlic Compound Butter

Pan Seared Filet Mignon with Roasted Garlic Compound Butter

Eric and I recently celebrated our five year anniversary. That day, he summed up our time together like this, “5 years, 4 states, 3 animals, 2 crazy people and 1 perfect little Clara!” We didn’t have big plans to celebrate, mostly because Clara is too small to go to a nice restaurant with us and we were headed to the beach with friends. What should’ve been less than four hours in the car turned into six and involved me getting into the backseat to pump a bottle for Clara because we were stuck on a bridge and couldn’t even pull off somewhere for her to eat. What can I say? Parenthood isn’t always glamorous, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing about that day. To illustrate just how desperate we were to stop, we both got excited when we found a Sonic and ended up having fast food on our anniversary. All we could do was laugh at the hilarity of the situation. To make up for our lack of a fancy anniversary meal, we made steaks. Not just steaks – bacon wrapped filets mignons topped with roasted garlic compound butter.

This whole meal had been floating around in my head since last month when I attended a webinar with someone I’m sure you all know – Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman. The topic was butter, specifically the new Land O’Lakes Butter with Olive Oil and Sea Salt. She shared some of her favorite recipes with us, and since I was planning to test out this butter on top of steaks, I called in and asked her how she likes to cook her steaks. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always preferred pan-seared steaks to grilled ones and was happy to find out she feels the same. After the webinar, I was so excited to finally get this idea out of my head and into my stomach. I wanted to try the butter on its own before adding anything to it, and it was so delicious that I seriously could have licked the wrapper. It was really that good, with just the right amount of salt, a rich flavor and an ultra creamy texture. I knew I wouldn’t need to add much to it to make a compound butter that would really shine. Since it’s hard to beat garlic and butter, I ran with that and came up with a simple but flavorful compound butter that went perfectly with our steaks and baked potatoes.

This dinner was the meal to end all meals. There aren’t many ways to make filets mignons any more awesome than it already it is. In fact, I can only think of two and we did both of them in this recipe. First, wrap the filets in bacon. Second, top them with a delicious compound butter. Done and done. To cook the steaks, we seared them in our cast iron skillet before finishing them in the oven. This gave the outside a nice crust while the inside remained buttery smooth. I used both roasted and raw garlic in the compound butter, which gave it a sweet, mellow flavor with just a bit of punch. The butter was already perfectly salted, and I added fresh parsley and black pepper to finish it off.


Eric’s rare steak, snapped with my iPhone.

Get the recipe »


Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream
July, as many of you know, is National Ice Cream Month. I don’t know about you, but I love anything that celebrates ice cream because it’s my favorite dessert. It’s no wonder people love ice cream – with all the flavors, toppings and sauces, the varieties are practically endless. I’ve got some delicious recipes lined up for this month!

Homemade ice cream isn’t difficult, and this recipe is a great example of that. It has four ingredients, three of which I almost always have on hand. It’s been my experience in the past that ice creams as simple as this one don’t end up tasting as luxurious as their custard-based counterparts, but I’m happy to report I didn’t have that problem with this one. Eric loves the raspberry-chocolate combination the way I love strawberry and chocolate, so I knew this one would be a big hit with him. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would like it. Don’t be deceived by the color of this ice cream. I know it looks one hundred percent chocolate, but the raspberry flavor really comes through. It’s reminiscent of a chocolate raspberry truffle – rich, creamy and decadent. Since I am one of those people that likes texture in my ice cream, I added some mini-chocolate chips. This is totally optional, but who’s going to complain over more chocolate? If you haven’t jumped on the homemade ice cream bandwagon, this is the perfect recipe to get you started.

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

Get the recipe »