Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Quick and easy, baked Parmesan-crusted Red Snapper with lemon beurre blanc, extra creamy mashed potatoes and bacon-sautéed green beans is a delicious treat for any weekday meal. 

Rather than using the standard method for battering; I smeared some dijon mustard and lemon juice over salt and peppered fish, then coated in a grated Parmesan, panko and bread crumb mixture. Set to bake at 425 for around 20-25 mins and the fish was tender and moist on the inside and crunchy-crispy on the outside.

For the bacon green beans, I blanched them in the same pot of water I used for the potatoes- cooked the potatoes for around 10 mins then added the trimmed green beans for  last  5-6 mins. Melted some saved bacon grease in a medium-hot pan and then added the green beans and some chopped onion and sautéed until tender, seasoning along the way. 

For the mashed potatoes, once strained, I added them back in the same pot (used to boil them in) with like 3Tbs melted butter, salt, pepper and about 1/2cup heavy cream mixed with 2Tbs milk and mashed them until chunky-smooth. 

Lastly, the beurre blanc started out like they all do: sautéed shallots in white wine and white wine vinegar until tender and liquid almost totally evaporated, then slowly whisked in cold cubes of butter on low heat until smooth and creamy- then, rather than strain it (as the French like to do), I pureed the sauce with the hunky shallot until smooth. 

Yum! Tell me that doesn't sound delicious! Adapted from one of my fav meals at a local seafood joint and duplicated to the best of my ability. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

From Left to Right: Barley Risotto with chorizo, roasted sweet potato and sauteed collard greens, Blackberry-Jalapeno pork tenderloin, Smoked salmon and herbed cream cheese cucumber canapes
Wow, it's been waay too long since my last post. Update: I am still catering and doing the personal chef gig in Vail Valley Colorado and love it. I was recently published in the Vail Daily for my company. Check out the article here:
http://www.vaildaily.com/news/20598016-113/caterers-focus-twist-on-comfort-foods

Stay tuned, more blog updates coming soon. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

LIFE of a CATERER

I am so excited to actually be the owner of my own catering business. Being an organizer-type personality, this is the perfect business for me, because if you're not organized, you'd be in trouble! Along with being organized, comes being able to work most efficiently given the time schedule - which usually involves cooking for several different parties at once. The best way, I've found, is researching time-saving techniques to both help keep your costs low and save you time and effort in the kitchen.

Below, are a few prime examples of money and time-saving techniques I was able to utilize last week:

Chilli Empanadas -
This recipe came together in a flash, utilizing Bisquick boxed dough. I am not usually a baker - as I seem to always mess something up: didn't bloom the yeast properly, set the oven temp too high, added too much or not enough flour, etc. But with this recipe, all I had to do was: follow the directions on the box, roll out the dough, cut into rounds, make my own delicious filling, stuff each one, seal with the prongs of a fork and bake. They turned out pretty good-looking and tasted even better!

Next time, I may even see if I can incorporate seasonings or fresh herbs when rolling out the dough. And may roll them a little thinner, for a crispier empanada. These empanadas make a a great 2-3 bite, finger food that can easily be passed at a party. Pair them with an avocado-ranch dipping sauce and you're set! 


As mentioned previously, I am not a baker, so when my clients asked for Chocolate Molten Cakes I had two choices: either buy them pre-made (costco had some...) or improvise and save some money.  I am not one to give up on a challenge, especially if I have extra time, so I checked on ol', trusty Pinterest for some cheat ideas...And they came through!

I found an ingenious idea to use plain, boxed Devils Food Cake Mix and make cupcakes. Once the cakes were done and cooled, remove them from the cupcake pan (which Id sprayed with oil instead of using cupcake liners), remove the tops (which had skewed during baking), and dig out the insides with a small melon baller. I then, used bakers semi sweet chocolate and heavy cream to make a simple ganache (melted chocolate and warmed cream); to this, I added a touch of cinnamon and vanilla to make it more personalized. I then added the ganache into the center of each cupcake. and Voilla! Delicious, decadent, EASY Chocolate Molten Cakes! - Heat in oven until warm and serve with vanilla bean ice cream!


Caprese Salad w Balsamic -This dish was easy to prepare, fun to shop for and the final product turned out really pretty. Costco-bought, fresh Roma tomatoes, pre-sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, good olive oil, sea salt, ground black pepper, and a splash of really good aged balsamic vinegar.

I tried to slice the tomatoes the same thickness as the mozzarella so that it looked more uniform in the final presentation. I then did a chiffonade of the basil and sprinkled it on top. Assembled so that it was alternating tomato, mozzarella, I then sprinkled with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Yum!

White Chocolate, Raspberry Cheesecake Bars -For these, I actually decided to try my hand at some real baking! I was able to make the cheesecake process a little simpler, by making them into bars in a pan rather than having to use a spring-mold pan and a water bath.  I got a box of Graham cracker crumbs and mixed equal amounts of crumbs to melted butter. Then spread that into the bottom of a baking dish, and pressed with my hands until had formed a crust. This got a sprinkling of salt and brown sugar before being baked until golden. Next, eggs, cream cheese and sugar were mixed together with a dash of vanilla and added to the cooled cookie crumb crust. For a special touch, after adding the cream cheese batter to the pan, I pushed in singular raspberries about an inch apart, right into the batter, before proceeding to bake. 
The finished product was covered in a drizzle of white chocolate ganache (melted white chocolate squares with cream), then sliced into squares, and piled onto a plate. Delicious!

Roasted Root Veggies - w thyme, butternut squash, carrots and beets.  The hardest part about this dish was cleaning, baking and peeling the beets. They are bright purple in color and will easily stain anything they come into contact with. So I had to cook them seperately otherwise all of the veggies would have come out a spooky purple color.

The easiest way I've learned to cook beets is: cut of the tops and bottom stems, place into a large baking pan, fill with water until the beets are completely submerged, cover with foil and place into a preheated 400 degree F oven for about 45mins-1hr. After which, you should be able to peel the beets really easily (after they've cooled, and using gloves so your hands aren't all purple) and be able to slice them into good chunks. I then toss them in olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and ground black pepper.

For the butternut squash and carrots, I simply peeled the outside of the carrots, and cubed the butternut squash, tossed both with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Then, spread them out onto a sheet pan and roasted them (about 20-30 mins) until tender (easily poked with a fork).





Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Sample Menus are ONLINE

Check them out. 

Offering Catering and Personal Chef Services in Vail Valley, Colorado. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

NEW! PERSONAL CHEF SERVICES! CHEF LAUREN MCELROY! NEW!

I'll Cook!

TexMex Buffet for Private PartyMy passion is FOOD and I love to share my passion with as many as possible.

Events of any size: single meals, family dinners, corporate events, weddings and everything in between.

My specialty is designing Customizable Menus:
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Personal food preferences
  • Freshness / seasonality
  • Food allergies
  • Or simply using up those leftover ingredients in your pantry 
    I'm here to help!

SERVICES:
    Roasted peppers and garlic for salsa
  • Family-style breakfasts, lunch and/or dinners
  • Weekly meals - including personal meal planning, shopping and clean up
  • Corporate meals - boxed lunch or family-style hot/cold platters
  • Private parties - rehearsal dinners, showers, receptions, retreats, reunions, apres, cocktail parties, etc. - I can even help you plan!
  • Open Houses
  • Drop-off delivery
  • Tell me what you need, and I'll work with you to attain it!

MENUS:
My Recipe Index.can give you some ideas or, let me know what you had in mind and we can build the ultimate, satisfactory meal, appetizer or event of any cuisine, restrictions, additions, etc.

Homemade Baked Ziti 


AREAS OF SERVICE:
Vail, Beaver Creek, Eagle-Vail, Avon, Edwards, Minturn, Wolcott, Eagle, Gypsum - Colorado
Contact me for other areas of service.

Veggie platters 




CONTACT:
Chef Lauren McElroy
214-206-7865

laurenmc123@gmail.com

http://newamericanfoods.com/pages/chef.html

 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Been in Dallas the last 4 months... 

My next few POSTS are some of the food I enjoyed, cooked, inhaled;
:: drool ::
As well as whatever else was interesting.


best banana cream pie        sashimi and kale 
 R+D Kitchen, Dallas 
(left) banana cream pie with chocolate chip and graham cracker crust.
topped with caramel sauce, butter toffee sprinkles and whipped cream! (right) fresh and tasty white sashimi with crsip kale salad YUM


 Hillstone, Dallas 
the cheese burger. awesome! 
Crispy romaine, juicy tomatoes, pickles, gooey cheddar, cooked medium and served with the best shoestring french fries ever!


uncooked tomatoes and onionsoven roasted tomatoes I made it:
Oven roasted tomatoes 
(left) cooked
(right uncooked)
grape tomatoes, fresh slivered garlic, Italian herbs, lemon slices, evoo

Served this over grilled wahoo
and corn on the cob
cheese steak seasoned fries 
Uncle Uber's, Deep Ellum

(above) Shaved rib eye hoagie with provo instead of blue cheese, lettuce, and tomato, served with habanero ranch and seasoned, hand cut french fries. YUMMY

Tex Mex Goulash  I made it:
Tex-Mex goulash 
(right) 
extra lean ground turkey, seasoned with a delicious blend of Mex spices, roasted poblanos, corn, tomatoes, and onion served over brown rice. -- dairyfree - lowfat -
dallas tx beer local buzz  Local Buzz, Aloft Hotel bar 
(left) Four Corners' Local Buzz honey-rye golden ale. Brewed in Dallas, TX
  2-door Rols Royce,  Nick & Sams, Dallas  This sweet 'thang pulled in behind us - 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith. sick!


Monkey King Spicy Beef Noodle Soup 
  Monkey King Noodle Co, Deep Ellum  Spicy beef noodle soup with hand-pulled noodles, cilantro, slow-braised beef chunks and a perfectly spiced beef broth. byob. 



Tex Mex Goulash Scramble   I made it:
Tex-Mex goulash Scramble 
(right) left over Tex Mex goulash, 2 scrambled eggs, avocado, salsa. Yum. -- dairyfree - lowfat -








MORE
POSTS
COMING



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Workout & Healthy Eating

Today's post is all about eating well and staying active

Something that I, myself need to remember! I've noticed I have a way more productive day if I get up and do some form of physical activity in the morning before I begin my day - the checklists get checked, I'm more motivated to chop up all those veggies for a quality stir fry or salad, and, overall I feel accomplished and more positive.
Some examples include: a morning walk, bike ride, jog, walk the dog, kayak, swim, weights, yoga or pilates class, etc.

So, remember, next time you find yourself feeling unmotivated and/or down in the dumps, set that alarm, get out, n' get active! Here are a few recipes for my favorite go-to smoothies and salads...

green_strawberry smoothie

My basic recipe for Morning or Post Workout Protein SMOOTHIES -


  • Blend 1 scoop of your fav protein powder with 1 frozen banana, 2 Tb flax seeds, a small handful of spinach, and about 3/4 cup almond milk, add your choice of fruit:
Tropical Blast- about 10 blueberries, 3 chunks of pineapple, a slice of green apple
or
Strawberry Sunrise- 4 frozen sliced peaches, about 3/4 cup frozen strawberries, splash of OJ.

Or your favorite combo - just make sure it fits in the blender! 

Blend everything until smooth and drink it before it gets warm!


Greek Chicken Salad

SALADS: 

I love a quality, chopped, veggie-filled salad. And when you're motivated, its fun to throw in all of your favorite veggies (or those you have on hand) into a big bowl with some yummy (low cal) dressing. 

  • I start with a combination of butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce and/or spinach, chopped bite-size. 
  • Next comes the veggies, which usually include all or some of the following: grape tomatoes, yellow onion, feta cheese, cucumbers, hearts of palm, red bell peppers, raddichio, carrots, mushrooms, deli turkey or grilled chicken, kalamata olives (these act as my salt component), broccoli or cauliflower, etc.
  • As for the dressing, be sure you read the nutrition label to see the serving size as well as how many calories, sodium and fat are in each serving before u pile it on.
  • Top with loads of fresh, black pepper and voila! Yum!
Veggie-Chopped Salad

In conclusion,

If you can manage to get a little activity 2-4 times a week and indulge in your favorite veggies and fruits, you should notice your mood and confidence levels perk right up!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

To Do in Key West

Cuban coffee: Coffee con Leche - a stronger flavored coffee bean brewed and served with milk. This is super yummy, much better than your usual latte. Found the best one at Cuban Coffee Queen.

Cuban/ Caribbean fare: had some delicious Shrimp in Red Sauce with Black Beans & Rice - tender shrimp cooked in a tomato based sauce with capers, garlic and cilantro, served over a bed of basmati rice with vegan black beans and a salad of pickled beets, lettuce and purple cabbage. This delicious meal was at Paseo Restaurant - a quirky order out place with only a few tables and chairs. Soo good! Only open till 7pm.

Old Skool breakfast, lunch & dinner from Key West's oldest restaurant. Don't be fooled by the exterior of this place that looks like a white shed with fenced area next to it; inside, is great food and a lot of history along with a super cute outside patio. Breakfast: Crab Cake over Eggs and Spinach with roasted potatoes special. Also tried their coconut bread and potato cakes, also on special. Pepe's Cafe circa 1907 - they also make their own bottled hot sauce.

Great public beach hangout with sectioned off swim area, beverages and delicious food! We had the Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Pico de Gallo. Delicious and fresh; toes in the sand; downing it all with a local Florida Keys Lager. I didn't get the name of this place, but it's located at the end of Simonton st, near the Hyatt - faces sunset island. 

Happy Hour at the Hyatt. Sliders with plantain chips and tangy slaw - Half price appetizers; you don't have to be staying there to eat there! Generally, from 4-6pm most places have a happy hour which boasts 1/2 price drinks and eats; check them all out!

Two Friends Restaurant and Bar - Special: Key Lime Pie (Filling) Smeared Strawberry French Toast!

Pressed Cuban with the freshest, tastiest squeezed juice - I had a mix of half OJ/ half grapefruit at Panini Panini off Duval. LOVED this juice!!

Old Fort turned Garden - free with optional donation. Beautiful, on the water, history and foliage all in one, West Mortello Fort is near Higgs Beach.

Hard to tell, but this is a pic of a giant, wild iguana munching on leaves. Found this guy off a wetland/mangrove nature trail - right off the bike path.

Got to witness this rehabilitated sea turtle being returned to the ocean after it almost died from eating plastic. At Higg's Beach.

Great locals hangout/ kind of a treck from downtown- on Stock Island is a bar called Hoggfish Grill. Great happy hour specials, great locally caught Hoggfish, and other fresh/local seafood.

Other great finds include: The hot sauce place where you can test various hot sauces, bbq sauce and marinades before purchasing (20 tastes later and some heartburn n I got these 2 delicious sauces).
There are great museums featuring buried treasures, aquariums, a history of sea turtles and butterflies. 
Pick up an art gallery guide and check out some talented local flare or do some shopping- there are a ton of cute island-wear shops from fancy to cover ups as well as island-styled furniture and home goods.
Also, the Key Lime shop that let's you sample some really tasty Key lime flavored treats - my favs were the mints, taffy and cookies - or you can get it frozen, dipped in chocolate, on a stick!


And of course, not to be missed, the SUNSETS!

In conclusion: there is more to do in Key West than visit Duval Street and booze it up. Get on a bike and explore to find your own hidden gems! 



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