Sunday, March 31, 2013

Comfort in a Casserole


Ah, yes, another comfort food recipe.  I just can't help myself. I'm sure there are many chicken and rice casseroles out there.  You are probably asking yourself why you should try another one.  Well, let me try to sell you on this one.

I call it Confetti Casserole because all the veggies in this make it look like confetti.  This casserole is rich in flavor as it's loaded with chicken and rice, colorful veggies, and bacon (you knew that was coming) and shredded cheese. The crumb topping is a buttery panko and Ritz Crackers concoction.  The sauce is rich with chicken stock and white wine and...don't freak out...mayonnaise.  It give a richness to the dish that wows your mouth.  If you are afraid of mayonnaise or a mayo hater (I know some of those, but I still love them anyway), you can substitute sour cream or yogurt. It's okay.  Be who you are. 

Sounds comforting, huh.  Did I sell you?

CONFETTI CASSEROLE
2 C cooked rice
2 C cooked, shredded chicken
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 C frozen corn kernels
1 C frozen peas
1/2 lb bacon, cooked, drained and chopped
One 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
1/4 C butter
1/4 C flour
2 C chicken stock
1 C mayonnaise
1/2 C white wine (you can leave this out if you like)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 C shredded cheese (I used a combination of cheddar, pepper jack, Monterrey jack, and mozzarella)

FOR THE TOPPING:
1 sleeve Ritz Crackers (I used the garlic butter flavor)
1 C panko bread crumbs
1/4 C butter, melted

To make the filling, heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle in some olive oil and cook the onion, carrots, and celery until tender.  Add in the mushrooms and cook until they are tender and browned.  Add in the garlic, and then deglaze the pan with the white wine.  Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir.  Whisk in the chicken stock and cook until thickened and bubbly.  Whisk in the mayo and Worcestershire sauce and heat through.  Add the chicken, bacon, peas, corn, and rice and remove from heat.  Taste for salt and pepper and add them accordingly.

Grind the Ritz Crackers in a food processor or blender.  Mix the crackers, panko and butter together.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan.  Pour the chicken mixture into the pan.  Sprinkle the cheese all over the top. Sprinkle the cracker topping over the top of the cheese.  Bake about 15 minutes to melt the cheese and lightly brown the top.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Oops, I Did it Again


I seem to have a strange obsession with stuffing chicken with cheese.  I have done quite a few of them lately.  I just can't help myself.  Cutting into a juicy piece of chicken and have some gorgeous cheese oozing out makes me very very happy.  Just look at the cheese in that picture. Beautiful.  Makes you hungry, right?

The original dish was called Chicken Parmigiana,  named after the region in which is was created, Parma.  Who knows how it became Chicken Parmesan, but who cares!  Our American-Italian version is good.

And, again, I will get on my hands and knees and beg you to try to make homemade Marinara sauce.  Whether you use my recipe (under the Basics tab) or someone else's, it's so worth it.  It only takes a little prep time, a long cooking time, and many meals' worth of enjoyment.  Please try it just once.

I served this sexy dish with my Braised Leeks.  This was the first time I've ever cooked or eaten leeks, and I was pleasantly surprised with how good they were.  It's like a gentle melding of mild green onions and braised cabbage cooked in the richness of chicken stock and wine and finished with fresh lemon juice.  Darn tasty!

Thanks, Britney.



STUFFED CHICKEN PARMESAN
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin (YouTube a video on butterflying chicken)
Four 1/4 inch slices of mozzarella from an 8-ounce block
2 eggs
Splash of water
1 C flour
1 C Italian bread crumbs
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
Salt & pepper
2 C Marinara sauce, heated
1 lb spaghetti
Peanut oil for frying
Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Mix the flour, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper to taste together in a bowl.  Set aside.

Mix the eggs and the splash of water together and set aside.

Cook the spaghetti according to directions.

Stuff one slice of mozzarella into each chicken breast.  Close up each chicken breast with three toothpicks each, making sure no cheese shows through.  Freeze for about 30 minutes.

Preheat peanut oil to 350 degrees (medium high heat).  Dredge the chicken by rolling it around in the egg mixture, into the flour/bread crumb mixture, back into the egg mixture, and once again back into the flour/bread crumb mixture.  Fry them until they are golden brown and cooked through.  (You can put them in a 200 degree oven for about 15 minutes to make sure they are cooked through if they fry too fast.)

Serve them over the spaghetti with marinara sauce and shredded Mozzarella cheese.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chipotle Cheese Sauce



CHIPOTLE CHEESE SAUCE
1/4 C flour
1/4 C butter
2 C milk
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped
1 C cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a pot over medium high heat.  Whisk in the flour to combine.  Whisk in the milk and cook until bubbly and thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the chipotle and cheese until the cheese is melted.
Serve with tacos, enchiladas, empanadas.  The possibilities are endless.

Bang on a Budget


Sometimes I want fine dining, and then sometimes I want to have fine dining without the dollar signs.  I usually save big-ticket items at the grocery store for special occasions.   Not that I'm really on a budget, but I do try to be moderately frugal.  I want to eat like a queen but on my budget.

So I was craving beef wellington the other day.  Beef wellington is an expensive beef tenderloin covered with pate and a duxelle, which is a chopped mushroom and onion sautee, and covered with puff pastry.  I made this once for the whole family for Easter, and the tenderloin alone was $65.  I thought to myself, how can I satisfy my craving without gouging my wallet.  And I came up with this...a Poor Man's Wellington. Of course I had to switch it up a little and put my own spin on it.  So I made a meatloaf wellington (I love meatloaf) stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheese and covered with mushroom gravy.  It was so darn tasty that we ate it twice in one week!  My son was so amazed by this.  He said, "Wow, Mom, it's like a whole meal wrapped up in one, the meat, potatoes, and bread.  It's like a fancy Hot Pocket."  I served this with my Corn Casserole (under the Sides tab) which is like cornbread but a little creamier.

Call the butler.  Dinner is served.

POOR MAN'S WELLINGTON
FOR THE MEATLOAF:
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T minced dried onion
2 eggs
1/4 C ketchup
1/4 C milk
Salt & pepper to taste

FOR THE POTATOES:
2 lbs potatoes, diced
1/2 stick butter
1 T garlic powder
1/2 C cream
Salt & pepper to taste

FOR THE GRAVY:
One 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 C beef stock
1/4 C flour
1/2 stick butter
1/4 C red wine
2 cloves garlic, minced

FOR THE WELLINGTON:
1 package puffy pastry, thawed (in the freezer section of the grocery store)
1 C shredded cheddar cheese

To make the mashed potatoes, bring a pot of water to boil.  Boil the potatoes until they are tender.  Drain them and add all the remaining ingredients and potatoes in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat to desired consistency.

For the meatloaf, combine all of the meatloaf ingredients together in a bowl and divide into four portions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  The puff pastry comes two to a package. Roll them out a bit and cut each one in half.  Spread 1/4 of the mashed potatoes down the center of one puff pastry section.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese over the potatoes. Shape 1/4 of the meatloaf mixture into a rectangle and lay over the cheese.  Fold the puff pastry up around the meatloaf, making sure to seal all of the edges.  When all four are folded, turn them seam-side down onto a sheet pan.  Bake them for about 25-30 minutes or until the meatloaf is about 160 degrees (use a meat thermometer).  **You can brush melted butter on top of the pastry during the last five minutes or so to brown the pastry.

For the gravy, melt the butter in a small skillet.  Cook the mushrooms over medium high heat until they are browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Whisk in the flour to combine.  Whisk in the red wine.  Add in the garlic and beef stock.  Whisk continually until thickened and bubbly. Serve over the wellingtons.

Corny Cornbread


This moist, slightly sweet cornbread is easy to make and a crowd pleaser!

CORNY CORNBREAD
6 T melted butter
2 C cornmeal
1 C flour
3 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 C buttermilk
1/2 of a 14-ounce can creamed corn

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together.  Grease a 9 x 9 pan.  Pour the cornbread mix into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set in the middle.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meat Pies

Chicken Empanadas

I think most countries have their version of a meat pie.  Supposedly starting out in Greece, the meat pie has popped up all over the world. Italians stuff meats and cheeses into stromboli and calzones.  The British have their steak pies.  The French Canadians have a meat pie called a tourtiere.  They make meat pies in Egypt, Australia, Jamaica, and New Zealand.  They all have their own fillings and tastes, but it's a great concept.

And, of course, you know me, a Texas girl, I had to do a Tex-Mex version of this said meat pie.  When my husband ate these, he said it tasted like I stuffed a chicken enchilada inside the dough.  Oh, and the dough, I'm sure there's much debate on whether it's a bread-like dough or a pastry dough.  Mine is more bread like, slightly crispy from frying but tender and soft like bread.  I think they turned out darn tasty.  There is also a spicy, smokey Chipotle Cheese Sauce to go over the top.  And I served them with one of my childhood favorites, Homemade Black Beans (under the sides tab).  

Get out the Fry Daddy! 

 

CHICKEN EMPANADAS
FOR THE FILLING:
3 C cooked, shredded chicken
1 onion, chopped
One 4-ounce can green chilies
1/2 C chicken stock
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil

FOR THE DOUGH:
3 C flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 C milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 C shortening

CHIPOTLE CHEESE SAUCE:
1/4 C flour
1/4 C butter
2 C milk
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped
1 C cheddar cheese

1 C shredded pepper Jack cheese
Peanut oil for frying

Mix the dough ingredients together in a stand mixer.  Cover and let sit out for about an hour (don't refrigerate).

Meanwhile, to prepare the chicken filling, drizzle some olive oil in a large skillet and preheat to medium high heat.  Cook the onion until tender. Add in the green chilies, chicken, garlic, cumin, and chili powder and season with salt and pepper.  Stir for about a minute to coat.  Add in the chicken stock and cream cheese.  Reduce heat to medium and stir until the cream cheese is melted.

To assemble the empanadas, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness.  Divide into 8 equal squares.  Sprinkle some of the pepper Jack cheese in the center of the dough.  Spread about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the cheese.  Fold the dough over the filling.  Roll up or crimp the edges of the dough, trying to shape the empanadas into a half moon shape.  (It's okay if it doesn't work.  Mine were almost rectangles.)  

To cook the empanadas, preheat some peanut oil over medium high heat to 350 degrees.  Fry the empanadas two to three at a time until crispy and browned all over.  Keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until they are all cooked.

For the chipotle cheese sauce, melt the butter in a pot over medium high heat.  Whisk in the flour to combine.  Whisk in the milk and cook until bubbly and thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the chipotle and cheese until the cheese is melted.  Serve with the empanadas.

Black Pepper Parmesan Ciabatta



BLACK PEPPER PARMESAN CIABATTA

BIGA:
1/8 teaspoon highly active yeast
3/4 C water, 110-115 degrees
2 C flour
1/4 C whole wheat flour

DOUGH:
2 C bread flour
1 packet highly-active yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 C water, 110-115 degrees
Fermented biga
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1 T fresh cracked black pepper

At least 20 hours before making the dough, make the biga.  Put the water and yeast in a stand mixer and let it get foamy, about five minutes.  Stir in the flour and wheat flour.  Place this in a greased bowl that is at least three times the size of the biga.  Cover it and let it sit out on your counter overnight and until you're ready to make the dough.  It usually doesn't change or grow until you're closer to the 20 hours.

When it's time to make the dough, combine all the dough ingredients in a stand mixer and knead until combined.  This dough should be really "gloppy," which means it looks more like a thick batter than dough.  That's the way it's supposed to look.  If it doesn't look that way, add small amounts of warm water until it does.

Scrape the dough mess into a really large greased bowl.  Set a timer for 20 minutes.  At 20 minutes, scrape this mess out onto a really well-floured board.  Sprinkle flour over the top.  Turn it and fold it back onto itself and return it to the bowl.  Repeat this process three more times.  You'll be amazed at how this glop turns into a much drier dough.  After you turn it a fourth time, let it rest another 20 minutes.

After the last rest, divide the dough into two and shape it howver you like, slipper-like that's kind of elongated or round, whichever you prefer.  This is the time to let it proof in the oven in the manner I stated above.  Let it rest another 20 minutes.

Time to bake!  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Bake it anywhere between 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven.  It should be well browned on the outside and sound hollow when thumped.  Let cool before slicing (if you can!).

Black Beans


I remember, when I was a kid, going to a Mexican restaurant in Dallas with my mother and her friend.  They served these delicious black beans in a little copper pot with tortillas.  I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, but I can't.  I do remember, however, how much I loved their black beans.  I hope you will try my recipe and love them as much as I do.

BLACK BEANS
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
Olive oil
1 lb dried black beans (you can rinse and drain if you like)
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 Roma tomato, chopped
2 serrano peppers, chopped
2 T bacon grease
Salt & pepper to taste
Water

Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a crockpot.  Put the rest of the ingredients in the crockpot and cover with water.  Cook for about 8 hours, making sure to add water when necessary.

Braised Leeks


If you've never had leeks, you're in for a treat.  This was the first time I've ever cooked or eaten leeks, and I was very surprised at how much I love them!  They are kind of a cross between a mild green onion and mild cabbage flavor.  They were scrumptious.  Be brave!  Try something new.

BRAISED LEEKS
4 leeks
1/2 stick butter
3 T olive oil
1 C chicken stock
1 C white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Italian parsley, chopped
Juice and zest of one lemon
Salt & pepper

Trim the leeks by cutting the tough green parts off the top.  Then slice a slit lengthwise down the leek but not going through the end.  Turn to another side and cut another slit lengthwise again.  Soak them in water for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to make sure there is no grit in them.

Preheat a skillet to medium high heat.  Melt the butter and add in the olive oil.  Add the leeks in carefully in one layer.  Brown on both sides. Reduce heat to medium.  Add in wine and garlic.  Cook about 2 to 3 minutes to reduce the wine.  Add in the chicken stock.  Cover and cook about 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and continue cooking until most of the liquid is cooked out and the leeks are tender.  Put the leeks on a platter and squeeze the lemon juice over the top.  Garnish with parsley, lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Brownie & Strawberry Trifle


BROWNIE & STRAWBERRY TRIFLE

FOR THE BROWNIE:
1 C flour
1 C sugar
1/2 C cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 C vegetable oil
1/2 C water

FOR THE PUDDING:
1 C sugar
3 C milk
4 egg yolks
1 T butter
3/4 C flour

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM:
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C powdered sugar

Sliced strawberries

For the brownies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all the brownie ingredients together and spread in a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool.  Cut into squares.

For the pudding, whisk all ingredients together in a pot.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring continuously, until bubbling and thick. **Note:  If using a stainless steel or metal pan, use a wooden spoon to stir. Metal whisks in a metal pot will make your pudding turn green!

For the whipped cream, combine cream and powdered sugar in a stand mixer.  Beat this mixture until very stiff.

To assemble, layer some crumbled brownies in a glass or trifle bowl. Then layer the pudding, then strawberries, then whipped cream.  Repeat.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Corn Casserole


CORN CASSEROLE
1/4 stick butter
1/4 C flour
1 C chicken stock
1/2 C milk
1/2 C sour cream
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
2 eggs
1 1/2 C frozen corn kernels
2 serrano peppers, chopped
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 C french-fried onions
Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium high heat, melt butter.  Whisk in the flour and then pour in the chicken stock.  Cook and whisk until bubbly and thickened.  Mix the milk, chicken stock mixture, sour cream, eggs, serranos, and cornbread mix together in a bowl.  Stir in the corn kernels and the cheese and serranos.  Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour the corn mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle the french-fried onions over the top and cover with foil.
Bake 30 minutes or until set.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or until the onions are browned.

Ultimate Breakfast Casserole


Sometimes I just can't decide what to have for breakfast.  Do I want bacon or sausage?  Do I want biscuits and gravy? Scrambled or fried? Maybe some potatoes?  Well, today I couldn't decide, so I just did it all.  I see breakfast casseroles all the time, but I had never tried one until today. And, let me tell you, this one was so good.  So, like Jack in the Box who has a sandwich with everything, I decided to name this casserole "Ultimate" because it has everything, potatoes, bacon, sausage, eggs, cheese, biscuits and even gravy to go on top.  Indulgent, yes, but oh so tasty.

You deserve a hearty treat, especially if it's cold outside.



ULTIMATE BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
2 potatoes, diced
Peanut oil, for frying
1/2 tube breakfast sausage, like Jimmy Dean's
5 slices bacon, diced
7 eggs
1/4 C milk
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 recipe of Buttermilk Biscuits (will follow)
Salt and pepper to taste
Melted butter

FOR THE GRAVY:
The reserved bacon grease from cooking the bacon
1/4 C flour
2 C milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Partially fry the potatoes in the peanut oil until slightly browned.  Drain on a paper towel.

Cook the bacon and drain it on a paper towel, reserving the grease in the pan.  In another skillet, cook the sausage, crumbling as you go, until the sausage is done.  Mix the eggs and milk together and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Grease a 9 x 13 pan.  Lay the potatoes in the pan.  Sprinkle the sausage over the potatoes, followed by the bacon.  Pour the egg and milk mixture over the pan.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Lay biscuits on top of the casserole.  Bake about 25 minutes. Brush melted butter on the biscuits and bake an additional 5 minutes.

For the gravy, preheat the reserved bacon grease to medium high heat. Whisk in the flour.  Whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Cook and whisk until thickened and bubbly.


BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
4 C flour
2 T baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 C real butter, softened
2 C buttermilk
More flour for dusting
2 T melted butter

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda and butter in a mixer. Combine until the butter is pea sized.  Pour in the buttermilk and mix. Turn this mixture out onto a well-floured board.  Fold it over onto itself a few times, mixing in enough flour to be able to cut out biscuits.  Roll the dough out to a half inch thickness.  Using a glass, cut out circles.  You can keep working the dough in the flour and cutting more biscuits out until you run out of dough.

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Oh My, Tamale Pie!


I absolutely adore tamales.  Whoever thought of grinding up corn, making dough with it, filling it with meat, and rolling it up in a corn husk was a genius!  My husband and I really enjoy making homemade tamales, too.  It's a time-consuming process, but we line it 'em and crank 'em out. Our favorite tamale filling is chicken.  There are dozens of fillings, I'm sure.  But there is something special about the combination of masa, or corn dough, and a spicy chicken filling that makes me want to do cartwheels.  If you've never had one, it's something you need to add to your bucket list.

Since tamales are so time consuming, I wanted to give you an easier way to do them...a tamale pie.  It's the same recipe I would use to make tamales, but, instead of rolling them out, I layered it in a casserole pan.  It's still a little more of a difficult process since you have to steam it, but it's a lot less work than the traditional way.  And I think you'll be glad.  It's worth it.  And here's a note.  You will need two pans for this, a 9 x 13 pan to cook the pie in and another larger pan that the 9 x 13 pan fits in. The second pan is to hold water needed to steam the tamale dough.

Hey, all you cornhuskers, no overtime husking corn today.  You're safe...for now.

CHICKEN TAMALE PIE
3 C cooked, shredded chicken
1 onion, chopped
1 roasted, peeled and chopped poblano
4 cloves garlic, minced
One 4-ounce can green chilies
One 14-ounce can of El Pato tomato sauce (or just regular tomato sauce)
1 C hot chicken stock
1/4 C cilantro
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Olive oil

FOR THE DOUGH:
2 C masa harina
2 C chicken stock
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T cumin

GARNISHES:
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Jalapeno Ranch Sauce (recipe under my Sauces & Relishes tab)
Salsa

To make the chicken filling, drizzle some olive oil into a large skillet. Cook onions and poblanos over medium high heat until they are tender. Add in the remaining ingredients and heat through.  Don't cook out much of the liquid as it is needed to keep the filling and the dough moist. Season filling with salt and pepper.

Mix the masa harina and the remaining dough ingredients together.  It will be a paste-like form.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 glass casserole pan. Spread half of the dough in the bottom of the pan. Spread the chicken filling onto the dough.  Spread the other half of the dough onto the chicken filling.  You will need another pan that's large enough to put your 9 x 13 pan in and hold enough water to steam.  Put the steam pan in the oven and pour water in at least halfway up.  Place the 9 x 13 pan into the pan of water.  Cover the whole thing tightly with foil.  Cook 30-45 minutes or until dough is cooked but still moist.  Garnish with whatever toppings you like.

Jalapeno Ranch Sauce


JALAPENO RANCH SAUCE
1 C mayo
1/2 C buttermilk
1 C sour cream
1 packet Ranch dip mix
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1-3 T diced jalapeno slices (from a jar)
1 teaspoon lime juice

Mix all of the ingredients together in a blender or food processor.  Enjoy with tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas. Use it anywhere you want!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Potatoes with Chiles & Cheese




PAPAS CON CHILE CON QUESO (POTATOES WITH CHILES AND CHEESE)
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
2 serrano peppers, chopped
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for the top)
1/2 C monterrey jack cheese
1/2 C pepper jack cheese
1 C sour cream
1/2 stick butter
1 T garlic powder

Boil the potatoes and peppers until fork tender and drain.  Return them to the hot pot and gently mix in the remaining ingredients.  Put this mixture into a glass casserole pan and top with a little more shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until heated through and the cheese on top is melted and slightly browned.

Chickens One Day, Feathers the Next

Queso Fundido Stuffed Chicken & Papas Chile Con Queso

Tongue in cheek...a drop in the bucket...in a New York minute...a taste of your own medicine...chickens one day, feathers the next.  We sure do have a lot of interesting phrases to get our meaning across.  It's interesting how we use those phrases and the people we say them to know what they mean.  I really like "all bark and no bite."  I'm sure I've used that at least a hundred times in my life.

I have always been fascinated with literature.  When I was a teenager, I would read an entire novel in a weekend.  Some of my favorites as a kid were Robinson Crusoe and Anne Frank and Lord of the Flies (that's the really short list.  I could go on for days).  I was like a sponge, reading and absorbing as much as I could.  Nowadays, I just don't have as much time as I'd like to read.  Some of the greatest figure of speech quotes come from fiction, like "truth is stranger than fiction" or "we lie best when we lie to ourselves."  You get the picture.  Even Dr. Seuss books stick with us, as in, "I do not like green eggs and ham."  Books give us an escape, a look into different perspectives, sometimes hope, and always inspiration.

So what in the world does all of that have to do with the picture above? Nothing!  Ha ha.  Really, it has to do with inspiration.  I am greatly inspired by food, creating it, tasting it, the pure gratification of it when something I create is good.  I thought of the saying "chickens one day, feathers the next" for no apparent reason while cooking this dish.  But the dish itself came from me wanting to blend my affinity for party food.  So I thought I'd do a blend of Queso Fundido (a sausage and cheese mixture), with my husband's most requested dish, Chicken.  And Papas con Chile con Queso just means potatoes with chiles and cheese.  And there's a Jalapeno Ranch Sauce to boot.  My husband said the chicken tasted as if it was stuffed with an enchilada.  And the potatoes are creamy, cheesy, with a little hint of spice.  Yes, another Tex-Mex dish from me, but what else would you expect?  I think you'll like it.

So don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!  Get in the kitchen and cook!

QUESO FUNDIDO STUFFED CHICKEN

FOR THE CHORIZO:
2 Guajillo peppers
2 T white vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T bacon grease
2 T red onion, minced
1 T lime juice
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons red chili flake
1 T garlic powder
3/4 lb ground pork
1 roasted, peeled poblano, chopped

FOR THE QUESO:
2 C Asadero cheese, shredded
1 C Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 roasted, peeled poblano, chopped

FOR THE JALAPENO RANCH SAUCE:
1 C mayo
1/2 C buttermilk
1 C sour cream
1 packet Ranch dip mix
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1-3 T diced jalapeno slices (from a jar)
1 teaspoon lime juice


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C shredded pepper jack cheese
Toothpicks

To make the chorizo, boil the guajillo peppers for about 10 minutes or until soft.  Remove them from the water and blend all of the ingredients except the ground pork and poblanos.  Cook the ground pork, poblanos, and blended sauce in a skillet over medium high heat until browned and cooked through.  Remove this from the heat and stir in the cheeses until melted.  (You will have extra filling.  You can save half for later or put it in an oven-proof dish and bake it to eat with chips.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butterfly each chicken breast carefully so as not to cut all the way through.  If you don't know how to do this, you can find good videos of it on YouTube.  Put a few of tablespoons of the fundido filling (enough to fill, but not too much) in the middle of the chicken.  Secure with three toothpicks, making sure no filling is showing through.  Bake for 16 minutes on one side, and turn them over and cook an additional 12-15 minutes or until done, depending on the size of the chicken.  You can top them with the pepper jack cheese at this point and cook a couple more minutes to melt and brown the cheese.

Mix all of the Jalapeno Ranch Sauce ingredients together and serve it over the chicken.



PAPAS CON CHILE CON QUESO (POTATOES WITH CHILES AND CHEESE)
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
2 serrano peppers, chopped
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for the top)
1/2 C monterrey jack cheese
1/2 C pepper jack cheese
1 C sour cream
1/2 stick butter
1 T garlic powder

Boil the potatoes and peppers until fork tender and drain.  Return them to the hot pot and gently mix in the remaining ingredients.  Put this mixture into a glass casserole pan and top with a little more shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until heated through and the cheese on top is melted and slightly browned.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Comfort Food Italian Style


Here in the United States, there are many forms of comfort food.  It's a common household phrase that's known across the country.  But what if we lived somewhere else?  Do they have comfort food in other countries? (I'd love to hear what yours is, especially if you live in a different country than me!)

If I were Italian, I think I'd pick Baked Ziti with Meatballs as my comfort food.  It's pretty easy to put together, and very satisfying.  The key to this dish is twofold.  First, I truly believe that a homemade marinara sauce is important.  It is so much better than what you can find in a jar.  I know there are some great jarred sauces out there, but there is something abundantly satisfying about creating your own sauce.  When you taste it, it's instant gratification.  And it's not as hard as you would think.  There is a little chopping to do, then opening of some canned tomatoes, and then you let it sit on the stove.  Easy.  If you use my Basic Marinara sauce recipe, you'll find that an hour or two on the stove brings you around eight meal's worth of sauce.

The second key to this dish is homemade meatballs.  Again, I know there are some good frozen ones out there, but things are just so much better homemade.  I use ground pork for my meatballs because I like the flavor better.  But you can surely substitute ground beef or even Italian sausage for the meat.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am a fan of shortcut cooks because you are at least cooking.  So, if you're not into doing it all from scratch, do it your way.  I'm really good with that. And, that way, you could mix it up with different flavors or marinara.  You could even add some alfredo sauce to it if you want.  It's your dinner.  Enjoy it.

Mangia!

BAKED ZITI WITH MEATBALLS
FOR THE MARINARA:
3 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
6 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (San Marzano is preferable)
10-12 cloves of garlic (a whole bulb), minced
1 T beef bouillon
1 C red wine (any kind you like)
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped
1/4 C fresh Italian parsley, chopped
6 bay leaves
Red chili pepper flake, to taste
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

FOR THE MEATBALLS:
1 lb ground pork
1/4 C ricotta cheese
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1/4 C parsley
1/2 C Italian bread crumbs
Olive oil

FOR THE BAKE:
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
2-3 C Marinara sauce
1 C ricotta cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T fresh basil, chopped
1 lb ziti or penne pasta
2 C shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 C Parmesan cheese

For the marinara, heat a really big stock pot over medium heat.  Drizzle olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot.  Add in the onions, carrots, and celery.  Cook about 10 minutes or until tender.  Add in remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium low heat for at least an hour, longer if desired.  Remove all the bay leaves and blend.  I use an immersion blender, but you can blend it in batches in a blender.  Transfer with a ladle to plastic containers (I use the rectangle ones that lunchmeat comes in) and freeze the marinara.  I got 8 3-4 cup containers of sauce.

For the meatballs, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all of the ingredients except the olive oil together.  Roll them into about 20 meatballs, about 1 inch each.  Put the meatballs in a glass 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Drizzle some olive oil over the meatballs.  Bake them uncovered for about 30 minutes or until they are well browned and cooked through.

Cook the pasta according to directions and drain.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the onions until tender. Add in the marinara, the ricotta cheese and the garlic. Reduce heat to medium low and cook and simmer.  Remove from heat and add in the basil.  Mix in the cooked meatballs. (You can add a little more marinara here if the sauce doesn't cover the meatballs.)

To assemble the ziti, stir the sauce into the pasta.  Pour this into a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish.  Sprinkle on the mozzarella and parmesan cheese and bake about 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and browned.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Adventures


I did it.  I finally jumped out there and tried oysters.  I tried them raw which wasn't for me, baked which was really good, and fried.  Fried is the way to go for oysters.  Now, don't panic.  If you are afraid of trying oysters, it's okay.  Don't try them.  However, if you want to be bold and go out on a limb to try something new, this is a good start.  We only live once, and we should do as much and try as much as we can to get the most out of life.  (Tell me that when I say I won't go bungee jumping.)

My husband asked me to do something different, maybe a po' boy.  This is a truly a cajun dish, as it was born in Louisiana.  It is a hearty sandwich usually filled with some type of seafood and sometimes beef.  There are a few accounts as to the origin of the word, but I like the story that says that some workers striking against the restaurant they worked at were being fed sandwiches by the workers of the restaurant not on strike, supposedly calling the workers "poor boys."  And, if you don't know about the way people in Louisiana pronounce words, their accent changed the word to "po' boys."

Whatever the origin of the po' boy, I love them.  And now I love them with fried oysters.  Po' boys typically come with lettuce, tomato, pickles and a remoulade sauce, a spicy, creamy mixture that brings the sandwich together beautifully.

Get out on that limb and try some oysters.  You'll be swinging from the po' boy tree in an instant.

FRIED OYSTER PO' BOYS
2 T cajun seasoning (I like Emeril's Bam recipe)
16 oysters, shucked and rinsed (for 4 po' boys)
Buttermilk (to cover the oysters)
2 eggs
1 C flour
2 C panko bread crumbs
1 T cajun seasoning

REMOULADE:
1/4 C lemon juice
2 green onions
2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 T spicy brown mustard
1/4 C ketchup
2 C mayonnaise
1 T cayenne (or to taste)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Peanut oil for frying
4 hoagie rolls
Butter lettuce
Sliced tomatoes
Pickle slices

For the remoulade sauce, combine all remolaude ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

For the oysters, put them in a shallow bowl and pour the buttermilk in, enough to cover them.  Put the cajun seasoning in and stir.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Set up your dredging station.  Beat the two eggs together in a bowl with a splash of water.  Combine the flour and additional cajun seasoning in another bowl.  Add the panko to a third bowl.

Preheat the peanut oil in a large skillet to 350 degrees.  Dredge the oysters by dipping them in the egg mixture, into the flour mixture, back into the eggs, and then into the panko.  Fry the oysters until they are golden brown on all sides.

To assemble the sandwich, first split the hoagie rolls down the middle.  (I butter the insides and toast them, but that's up to you.)  Spread in some remoulade sauce, lay in the lettuce, pickles and tomatoes.  The oysters go on top.  Add more remoulade sauce to the top.

Little Dumplings


Gnocchi (pronounced nyokee) are delightful little bundles of joy.  They are little potato dumplings that are fabulous.  You can eat them with a simple sage and butter sauce, or you can use it instead of pasta with your favorite sauce.  The translation of gnocchi means "knot of wood" or "knuckle," which makes sense because they do kind of look like a knuckle.  I haven't yet attempted to make homemade gnocchi, but you can find some really good store-bought versions that are ready to cook and quick cooking.

For this version of gnocchi, I decided to use chicken and chicken sausage in a creamy garlic and Parmesan sauce. My husband loves gnocchi and always says, "I love these little doughy balls."  The chicken sausage I chose was filled with sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, but you should pick any flavor you like.  You could even substitute Italian sausage for the chicken sausage.  Change it up any way you like.  But this version is good, nice and creamy and cheesy.

Do the hokey pokey and eat some gnocchi.  Corny, I know, but I just had to do it.

CHICKEN & SAUSAGE GNOCCHI
1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb chicken sausage, cut into pieces
1/2 lb cooked, shredded chicken
2 16-ounce packages of gnocchi (sounds like a lot, but they don't go far)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
2 C heavy cream
1/4 C flour
1/4 C chicken stock
1/4 C butter
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1 C white wine
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil

Cook the gnocchi according to package directions.

Cook the onion in the olive oil over medium high heat until they are tender.  Add in the sausage and cook a few minutes. Add in the garlic and butter and wine.  Cook until the wine reduces.  Sprinkle the flour over the onions and butter and stir.  Add in the chicken stock and whisk. Add in the cream and cook until thickened and bubbly.  Add in the chicken, parsley and Parmesan cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.  Serve over the gnocchi.




Spicy Sweet Potato Fries


SPICY SWEET POTATO FRIES
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
1/4 C cornstarch (this makes them extra crispy)
1 T salt (I used 2, but I'm heavyhanded with salt)
1 T garlic powder
1 T paprika
1 T onion powder
1-3 teaspoons cayenne pepper (to taste)
Peanut oil, for frying

Mix the salt, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder and cayenne pepper together.  (You will end up with more of this mix than you will need.  Just save it in an air-tight container for later.)

Put the cornstarch in a large zipper bag.  Put the sweet potatoes in and seal the bag, leaving some air in.  Toss this around to coat.

Preheat the oil in a skillet to 350 degrees.  Fry the potatoes until browned and crispy.  Drain on a paper towel.  Put as much of the spice mixture as you want over them immediately after removing them to the drain plate so that the seasoning will stick.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Roasted White Asparagus, Mushrooms & Shallots


ROASTED WHITE ASPARAGUS, MUSHROOMS & SHALLOTS
1 lb white asparagus
One 8-ounce package of mushrooms, halved
2 shallots, sliced
Olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 T garlic powder
1 stick of butter, sliced
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Trim the ends off of the asparagus.  Lay the asparagus, mushrooms and shallots on a sheet pan.  Drizzle some olive oil over it, sprinkle on the garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper.  Using your hands, mix them around and put them back in a single layer.  Lay the butter slices all around.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, (depending on the thickness of the asparagus) stirring once, until the asparagus is fork tender.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the top.

Kings & Queens

Chicken a la Queen
Ever heard of Chicken a la King?  It's a creamy chicken and mushroom dish served over toast points or noodles.  Fit for a king, huh?  Well, what about the queen?  Doesn't she deserve a dish?  Hasn't she been a good queen?  I think she has.  Doesn't she work hard for her king and make him proud?  She absolutely does.  And she deserves a dish that resembles her, a little spicy, a little tangy, a little sweet.

So I got to thinking about what a queen would want to eat.  I pretended (in my head...not really) to be a queen and thought about what I would ask the chef to cook for me.  I would tell him, "I want some kind chicken with bacon and some cheese and some barbecue sauce and some jalapenos.  Fix me something wonderful."  (Too weird?  Welcome to Cindyland.)  I don't have a chef at my house.  That would be me, so I guess I would have to tell myself to cook it.  And I thought, that's it. Sounds good.

So I got off of my throne and took off my crown (I store it next to my superhero cape) and started creating.    I created a beautiful sweet and savory marinade for the chicken.  I covered the chicken with homemade Chipotle Barbecue Sauce, bacon, Monterrey Jack Cheese, and jalapenos. And I garnished it with green onions.  My kids loved it, minus the jalapenos, and ate seconds.  We couldn't stop ooohing and awwwing over it.  My poor husband, who was out of town, missed it all.  (I saved him one.)  And, while I was eating it, I did feel like a queen, missing her king.

Whether you're a king or a queen, go ahead and eat this chicken.  You know you want to.

CHICKEN A LA QUEEN
MARINADE:
2 T dijon mustard
1-3 teaspoons red chili flake (to your taste)
1 T onion powder
2 T lemon juice
2 T honey
2 T soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2-4 T brown sugar (to your taste)
1-2 C water (enough to cover the chicken)

FOR THE CHICKEN:
4 boneless chicken breasts
4 strips bacon, cut into thirds (thin sliced!  thick sliced takes too long to cook and your chicken will be overdone)
1 1/2 C Easy Chipotle Barbecue Sauce (under the Sauces & Relishes tab...you can use bottled, but try mine.  It's good)
Jarred jalapeno slices (as many as you want)
8 slices Monterrey Jack cheese (from an 8-ounce block, cut slices down the end)
Green onions, sliced, for garnish

For the marinade, mix all of the ingredients together except the water. Put the chicken in a zipper bag and add in enough water to cover the chicken.  Seal up the bag and mix it all around.  Marinate it overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lay the chicken breasts on a sheet pan. Brush the barbecue sauce all over the chicken.  Lay 2-3 pieces of bacon over each piece of chicken.  Bake it about 20-25 minutes or until the bacon is done.  Brush some more barbecue sauce over the top of the chicken and bacon.  Lay two slices of cheese over the bacon and top with jalapenos.  Bake an additional 5 minutes to melt and brown the chicken. Garnish with the green onions.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Superhero Southern Comfort


While my husband is out of town for work, I still have to cook for my children and I also cook for another family.  So no nights off for me!  It's okay, though.  I enjoy it.  For dinner yesterday I wanted more Southern comfort food.  So I grabbed my superhero cape and went in the kitchen to save the day.

Do you ever notice there are no superheros from the South?  Sure, Superman started out there, but he lives in Metropolis now.  Batman fights crime in Gotham City, Spiderman in New York.  I know there is an X Men hero named Rogue from Missippi but does she really fight crime in the South? 

I think we need our own Southern Superhero, maybe a cowboy with superpowers named the Belt Buckler.  He could ride around on his horse named Stomper and fight crime in small country towns. He would be stronger than an ox, his horse faster than a jackrabbit, and his lasso so quick he could catch a twister. He could stop those kids from painting graffiti on the water tower and tipping cows or rescue a cow stolen by the neighboring ranch.  And those teenagers getting ready to go muddin' in Farmer Brown's field better watch out.

And what would this Country Superhero eat, you ask?  He would eat Cheesy Chicken and Biscuits casserole, one filled with shredded chicken in a creamy sauce and topped with homemade Buttermilk Biscuits.  Good food for a hero tired from all his crime fighting.  And I think you'll like it too.

Do you own a superhero cape?

CHEESY CHICKEN & BISCUITS CASSEROLE
1 lb cooked shredded chicken
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C Italian parsley,  chopped
1/4 C flour
3 C chicken stock
2 C shredded Colby Jack cheese
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Olive oil
BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
4 C flour
2 T baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 C real butter, softened
2 C buttermilk
More flour for dusting
2 T melted butter

NOTE:  The biscuit recipe will make more than you need for the casserole.  I generally make the extra biscuits for the kids (and the hubby!).

For the biscuits, mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.  Get a board ready and generously coat it with flour.  Using your hands, mix in the butter until no large pieces remain.  Make a well or a dent in the center of the flour.  Pour in the buttermilk.  Knead it together with your hands.  This will be a gloppy mess, but don't worry.  That's what the floured board is for.  Turn the dough out onto the board.  Knead the dough and add in enough flour until the dough is a drier consistency and can be rolled out, folding it in on itself as you go.  When the dough is ready to be rolled, roll it out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Using a glass to cut out circles or a knife to make square biscuits, cut them out and put them on a sheet pan.  Gather up the scraps, knead them back together, and keep cutting out circles or squares until there's not enough dough left.  

Saute onions, celery, and garlic until they are tender.  Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and whisk.  Pour in the stock and whisk to combine.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add in the chicken and garlic and parsley and heat through. (It will be a little runny, but the biscuits soak up the sauce.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pour the chicken mixture into a 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top (save some cheese to sprinkle on the biscuits at the end if you like).  Lay the biscuits all over the top.  Cook about 25 minutes or until the biscuits start to brown.  Brush the melted butter mixture over the biscuits and your reserved cheese.  Bake an additional 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Elegant Easter Dinner


Easter, the epitome of spring, the "new" in new beginnings, the fresh start of hope and love.  Children hunting for Easter eggs, sharing a meal with family, powerful church services, memories with friends, the Easter bunny.  All things that remind me of Easter.

But there's one more thing special to me about Easter.  My amazing husband proposed to me on Easter.  I had planned a roast for dinner that year with all the wonderful side dishes to go with it.  As I got ready for the day, I realized that I needed to run the store for one more ingredient that I had left out (don't you hate that!). When I walked out into my living room, there it was, my proposal.  Now, the picture isn't the best one, but this is what I got.



On such a blessed day, I had been doubly blessed with my greatest gift (besides my children)...my soon-to-be husband.  And such a special day to propose!  After many tears of joy, I proceeded on with my day of cooking.  I was so excited and flustered by the prospect of getting married that I burned our dinner!  I had a double oven, and I adjusted the temperature on the wrong oven.  It was the first time I have ever burned dinner for my soon-to-be husband.  He was such a gracious man about it, though.  He ran out and bought all of the fixings for fajitas, and a great meal we had!  His mother was so pleased that he proposed to me on such a special occasion.  Now we have two anniversaries, and we celebrate them both.

So this year, to honor this very special day, I decided I would make a mouthwatering prime rib for my family, along with a beautiful Potato Galette, a perfect springlike Confetti Salad, some ridiculously large Popovers, and a decadent Strawberry & Meringue Napoleon.  I hope you enjoy your Easter as much as I did.

Happy anniversary, John!


HERB-CRUSTED PRIME RIB
One 4-5 lb bone-in prime rib
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
4 sage leaves
1 T dried minced onion
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 T paprika
1 T garlic powder
2 T salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 C water or beef stock
Olive oil

HORSERADISH CREAM:
1 1/2 C sour cream
Juice of half a lemon
2 T prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

FOR THE GRAVY:
2 C beef stock
1/4 C flour
1/4 C vegetable oil
Salt & pepper

A day before cooking the prime rib, put the roast on a rack in a pan. Liberally sprinkle salt all over the roast.  Allow to sit overnight uncovered to quickly dry the roast.

7 hours before cooking the roast, set the roast out on the counter covered to bring to room temperature.  Let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  After it comes up in temperature, preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Blend the fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, sage leaves, marjoram, dried minced onions, and parsley in a coffee grinder or food processor.  Put this mixture in a bowl and mix in the remaining herbs and seasonings.  Drizzle olive oil all over the roast and rub it in.  Sprinkle the seasoning all over the roast and rub in, making sure to coat the entire area of meat.  Place the meat back in a pan on a rack fat side up.  Pour the water or stock into the bottom of the pan.  Cover tightly with foil.  Using a meat thermometer, cook the meat until the desired temperature, 125 for rare, 135 for medium, and 145 for well done.  (I would suggest not cooking it to a full 145 degrees for well done since there is additional cooking time at a very high heat to sear the outside.  I would pull it out at 138-140 for well done.)  Remove from the oven.  Let it rest from 30 minutes to 1 hour.

To make the gravy, melt the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Whisk in the flour to combine, making sure there are no lumps. Whisk in the beef stock quickly to prevent lumps.  Cook and whisk until thickened and bubbly.

For the horseradish cream, at least an hour before serving the roast, mix all of the horseradish cream ingredients together and refrigerate.

After resting the roast at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  This is the time to sear the outside and cook off the fat.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the outside is very dark, on the verge of burnt but not quite.  Let it rest at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Serve the horseradish cream and gravy with the roast.



POTATO GALETTE
4 large baking potatoes
1 stick butter, melted
2 T dried parsley
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Slice potatoes very thin, preferably on a mandolin.  Generously grease a cast iron skillet (or other large skillet). Put down one layer of potatoes, covering the bottom, in the skillet.  Brush the tops with butter and sprinkle some parsley over them and season with salt and pepper.  Repeat with additional layers.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until fork tender.  Put a plate over the top of the skillet and invert the potatoes onto the plate.





CONFETTI SALAD
1 lb sugar snap peas
2 yellow squash, sliced thin longways (on a mandolin preferably)
2 zucchini, sliced thin longways (on a mandolin preferably)
2 green onions, sliced
1 1/2 C grape tomatoes, sliced in half longways
4-ounce package of feta, any flavor (I used herb & garlic)
2 C broccoli florets
1/2 C shelled sunflower seeds

FOR THE DRESSING:
1 1/2 C olive oil
3-4 T balsamic vinegar (to your taste)
Juice of one lemon
2 T fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 T dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar (more if you like)
Salt & pepper (to taste)

Combine all of the dressing ingredients together with a whisk.  Blanch the sugar snap peas by boiling them for 3-4 minutes and then transferring them to a bowl of ice water.  This shocks them to stop the cooking and keep the color.  Repeat this process with the broccoli.

Mix the blanched sugar snap peas, broccoli and the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate a few hours, stirring occasionally.




Popovers, also known as Yorkshire Pudding, are beautiful eggy little rolls that are hollow in the middle.  The ones in this picture were 4 inches tall in the center!  I have some really large popover pans.  But you can use a standard-size muffin tin.  You will just get more.  Enjoy!

POPOVERS
4 eggs
2 C flour
3 T butter
3 T vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 C beef stock
1 1/2 C milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease your popover pan or muffin tins liberally.  Mix all of the ingredients together.  Fill the tins 1/2 of the way full.  Bake for 40 minutes or until golden browned and they feel hard to the touch.  They soften up quickly out of the oven and will fall in the center when cooled.



STRAWBERRY & MERINGUE NAPOLEONS
FOR THE MERINGUE:
8 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 C sugar

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM:
4 C powdered sugar
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 T water

1 pint of strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 C strawberry jam, slightly heated in the microwave
Parchment paper (absolutely a must)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  To prepare the meringues, put the egg whites in a stand mixer.  Start beating on high.  When they are slightly frothy, add in the sugar slowly and the cream of tartar.  Whip this until there are very stiff peaks.  You'll know you're there when the meringue is sort of in a ball around the whisk.

Prepare two sheet pans by covering them with parchment paper.  I just cut them to fit the inside of the sheet pan.  Pipe out the meringue with a large star tip.  (Don't worry...if you don't have frosting bags, you can use a zipper bag with the corner snipped off or even just spread the meringue around.)  Pipe out 4-inch flat circles.  You should get 7-8 circles.  Bake for an hour to an hour and 10 minutes.  They should be crispy and browned. Let cool.

Next, cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add in the powdered sugar and beat.  Add in the water slowly until the frosting is the right consistency, stiff enough to pipe out and not runny.

To assemble the napoleons, take one meringue and spread or pipe the buttercream all over the top.  Next spread on the softened jam.  Then top that with sliced strawberries.  Repeat as many times as you like.  On the top, just use the buttercream and a whole strawberry for garnish.