Sunday, June 30, 2013

Marinated Mushrooms & Artichokes


MARINATED MUSHROOMS & ARTICHOKES
One 8-ounce package mushrooms, quartered
One 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/2 C olive oil
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 3.5-ounce jar capers undrained
2 T red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, capers, salt and pepper, and red wine vinegar together.  Stir in the mushrooms and artichokes.  Cover and let marinate in the fridge overnight.

Giardiniera (Spicy Pickled Vegetables)


Traditional versions of Giardiniera use oil in their pickling process. However, I just wanted the spicy and pickled flavor to shine through without the greasiness of oil.  And it is a several-day process since you have to brine the veggies for 24 hours before starting the pickling process. It pickles in a day or two, but the longer it sits the better it gets!  This is great by itself of on sandwiches or antipasto platters.

GIARDINIERA
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 carrots, sliced
4-8 serrano peppers, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, sliced
One 8-ounce jar pepperoncini peppers, drained
1/4 C salt
1 T oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 T dill seed
1 T mustard seed
1 C red wine vinegar
2 C white vinegar
1 C water

To brine the veggies, dissolve the salt in a large bowl of warm water. When it is dissolved, add the veggies in.  Cover it and put it in the fridge overnight.  After 24 hours, drain and rinse the veggies.

Mix the spices, seasonings, vinegar and water together in a bowl.  Add in the veggies.  Cover and let it sit in the fridge until you are ready to eat it.

Bocconcini (Marinated Mozzarella Balls)


My daughter and I absolutely adore Bocconcini, which is Mozzarella balls marinated in garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.  When we've bought them at the store, we have always fought over them.  I wanted to make my own so we could have an endless supply of them.  The recipe uses fresh Mozzarella, the kind packed in a watery liquid.  I actually found a package of fresh Mozzarella pearls, which is what you see in the pitcure. If you can't find the Mozzarella pearls, just buy the big ball of cheese and cube it.

BOCCONCINI
One 8-ounce package Mozzarella pearls (or an 8-ounce ball, cubed)
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

Remove the cheeze from the liquid and discard the liquid.  In a bowl, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the cheese.  Add in the basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.  Stir to coat. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours.  It will keep three or four days.  You may need to let it sit out on the counter to warm up the oil if it gets too thick.

I've Got the Blues


I have recently become a huge fan of Gorgonzola cheese.  The restaurant I work at put a new salad on the menu which includes Gorgonzola cheese, and it is divine.  It is an Italian blue cheese named after the town in Italy. It is a quite salty and pungent blue cheese, but it is rich and tangy and delectable.  I wanted to make a sauce with it and pair it with chicken and Proscuitto ham and mushrooms.  And it was good.

Now, I'll give you a warning about this recipe.  Proscuitto ham is salty and so is Gorgonzola.  I wouldn't salt the chicken or the sauce until you taste it.  There is plenty of salt in the ham and the cheese to season the whole dish.

Now, I know a lot of people aren't fans of blue cheese.  I guess you could substitute another creamy-type cheese, such as brie or camembert or even Boursin.  But, if you are a fan, Gorgonzola is perfect for a beautiful, creamy sauce.

Do you ever get the "blues"?

GORGONZOLA CHICKEN
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 ounces sliced Proscuitto
Black pepper
Garlic powder
One 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
1/2 C white wine
2 T butter
5 ounces Gorgonzola crumbles
1 shallot
2 T sour cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Italian parlsey, chopped
1 C heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Season the chicken on both sides with black pepper and garlic powder.  Lay them on a sheet pan and cook for about 16 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and lay the Proscuitto slices on top, tucking them under if necessary.  Return to the oven and cook an additional 12-14 minutes or until the chicken is done and the Proscuitto is slightly crispy.

Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil into a skillet and melt in the butter. Cook the shallot and mushrooms until tender.  Deglaze the pan with the wine and reduce the liquid.  Add in the garlic, cream, lemon juice, sour cream, and Gorgonzola.  Turn the heat down to low and cook and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened.  Serve the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the Italian parsley.

Mom's Mashed Potatoes


This, obviously, is my mom's recipe.  I think most people use milk in their mashed potatoes, but she uses heavy cream.  They are amazing!  I added roasted garlic and shredded cheese to mine.

MOM'S MASHED POTATOES
4 to 6 large baking potatoes, diced (I leave the peel on)
1 bulb Roasted Garlic, cloves squeezed out and skins discarded
1/2 stick butter
1/2 C to 3/4 C heavy cream
1 C shredded cheese (I used Cheddar)
Salt & pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until they are tender and drain.  I use a mixer to mash my potatoes.  I put the butter into the mixing bowl and then the potatoes on top.  I use a whisk attachment and slightly whisk the potatoes to combine the butter.  Then I add in the remaining ingredients and mix until creamy and still slightly lumpy.

If you are mashing by hand, put the butter into the pot you cooked the potatoes in and add the potatoes back on top.  Add in the remaining ingredients and mash to your desired consistency.

For the Meatloaf Fans


Okay.  So either you are a meatloaf fan or you aren't.  I don't think I've met anyone who is on the fence about meatloaf.  A lot of people refer to it as "mystery meat," especially when served in cafeterias.  My husband and I are fans of meatloaf, but my kids aren't.  However, they do eat this meatloaf and love it.

Well, there's no mystery here.  I used ground beef and ground pork and, of course, thick-sliced bacon on top.  And this one is moist and flavorful, especially with a sweet and spicy glaze on top.  I used Cholua for the spicy part.  If you're not familiar with Cholua, it is a hot sauce that comes from Mexico.  If you can't find Cholua, use your favorite hot sauce.  And this is an easy meal to put together.  The cooking time is long, but the end result is worth the wait.

How do you feel about meatloaf?

BACON-TOPPED MEATLOAF WITH A SWEET & SPICY GLAZE
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1/2 lb thick-sliced bacon, each strip cut in half
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 C Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 C milk
1 T Worcestershire sauce
One 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 T paprika
2 teaspoons thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
1 C shredded cheese, any flavor (I used cheddar)

FOR THE GLAZE:
1 C ketchup
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T dijon mustard
1 T Cholua hot sauce (I used Chili & Garlic flavor)
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all the meatloaf ingredients (except the bacon)  together in a bowl.  Shape it into an oval shape onto a sheet pan.  Lay the strips of bacon over the top of the meatloaf.  Bake the meatloaf for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the glaze ingredients together in a bowl.  After the meatloaf cooks for 30 minutes, brush the glaze all over the top of the meatloaf.  Bake an additional 30 minutes or until the meat is done all the way through.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Surprising Myself



Do you ever go into the kitchen to cook dinner and expect good results, but then you are totally surprised when it turns out fabulous?  Sure, dinner is great at my house a lot, but every now and then I get a wow moment in the kitchen.  That's what happened when I made Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. 

Up until the other night, I had only made Alfredo sauce once many years ago when I was an average cook.  It really didn't turn out well.  I was young and unfamiliar with cooking with cream and making cream sauces.  I'm not sure why I hadn't tried it again, especially since I think I am a much better cook with 20 plus years of cooking experience.  And I have known the components, but I just never got around to making it. But I finally made it, and it amazed me and my husband.  My husband loved it so much he started running around the house waving his arms around and cheering as if the Cowboys won the Superbowl.  Okay, he really didn't do that.

But, seriously, the chicken was great, but the thick, creamy, cheesy sauce was fantastic!  (Scroll back up and look at that decadent sauce in the picture!)  I don't think I've ever had Alfredo sauce in a restaurant that I liked better.  And it's easy too.  No, it's not low fat, but we all deserve a splurge now and then, right?

Go ahead, grab some butter and heavy cream.  You deserve it.

CHICKEN FETTUCINE ALFREDO
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Garlic powder
Seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
Black pepper
1 lb fettucine noodles
2 C heavy cream
1 stick butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese (a small bag)

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Season both sides of each chicken breast with garlic powder, black pepper, and some seasoned salt.  Lay them on a sheet pan.  Cook them for about 16 minutes.  Then flip them over and cook an additional 12-14 minutes or until done.  Let them rest about 10 minutes, covered, before dicing.

In a saucepot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the cream and garlic.  Cook and whisk until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese, whisking until the cheese is completely melted.  Serve the sauce over the pasta with the chicken on top.  Garnish with chopped Italian parsley if desired.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Not Really Japanese


Ever use panko breadcrumbs before?  It's something relatively new to me.  If you're unfamiliar, panko breadcrumbs are a Japanese form of the same breadcrumbs that we use, only a little lighter and fry up a little crispier.  Traditional American breading is usually in the form of flour, cornmeal, or the canned stuffed labeled Italian breadcrumbs.  And, if you've never tried them, it is a delightful way to get a really crispy crust but without all the greasiness of traditional flour-battered food.  The panko breadcrumbs don't absorb the oil when frying, so the crisp you get is rather amazing.

So I set out to make a baked chicken that was tender, juicy and crispy all at the same time.  And cheesy, of course!  Although the honey mustard cream sauce isn't low fat and cheese in the crust doesn't help that either, at least it's not fried.  You've gotta give it to me for that one.  I tried.  And I think you'll love it.  All the crispy flavor you'd expect from fried chicken but no grease.  And the kids loved it.  Even your pickiest eater will enjoy this chicken.  And, while this isn't a Japanese dish, it's a great find that we can adopt from our friends way east of here.

Do you prefer flour batter or cornmeal batter?  And are you willing to panko?

PANKO CHEDDAR CHICKEN
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C mayonnaise
2 C panko breadcrumbs
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 T honey
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

FOR THE SAUCE:
1/4 C butter
1/4 C flour
2 C heavy cream
2 T yellow mustard
2 T honey
2 T dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion powder, honey, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper together in a bowl.  Mix the panko breadcrumbs and cheddar cheese together in another bowl.  Dredge the chicken in the mayonnaise mixture and then into the panko mixture, pressing down on all sides to coat.  Place the chicken on a sheet pan.  Cook for about 16 minutes on one side.  Flip them over and cook for an additional 12-14 minutes on the other side or until well browned and done through.

For the honey mustard cream sauce, melt the butter in a pot over medium high heat.  Whisk in the flour to combine and cook for about a minute.  Whisk in the cream and the remaining sauce ingredients.  Whisk and stir and cook until the sauce is thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat and serve over the chicken.  Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley if desired.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Warm Bean Salad


WARM BEAN SALAD
1 onion, chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve the bacon grease)
1/2 C white vinegar
3/4 C sugar
2 T flour
One 14-ounce can navy beans
One 14-ounce can pinto beans
One 12-ounce package frozen green beans
One 14-ounce can garbanzo beans
1 1/2 C chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste

In a stock pot, cook the onion in the reserved bacon grease until tender. Add in the flour and whisk.  Add in the chicken stock and whisk.  Add in all of the drained beans and the vinegar and sugar.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to desired consistency.  Remove from heat and stir in the bacon.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Braised Artichokes


BRAISED ARTICHOKES
4 whole artichokes
1/2 C white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
3 C chicken stock
3 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
3 T chopped Italian parsley

To prepare the artichokes, cut off the tops.  Then peel off the tough, green outer leaves.  Using a paring knife, trim the tough parts off of the stems. You need to peel off enough of the outer leaves to get to the tender yellow leaves.  Cut the artichokes in half.  Scrape out the fuzzy choke in the center and remove the purple tough leaves.  (I left few in for color in the picture, but they are inedible.)

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Brown the artichokes for a couple of minutes on each side.  Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook a couple of minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium. Add in the chicken stock and garlic. Cook until the artichokes are tender and the liquid is reduced, about 10 minutes.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.  Remove from heat and squeeze the lemon juice over the artichokes.  Garnish with the parsley.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Perfect French Fries


My husband found this method from a website called The Art of Doing Stuff.  Here's a link to their recipe, The Art of Doing Stuff.  It is only slightly adapted here.  We used peanut oil on ours (they didn't specify) and we didn't dry the fries after boiling.  We just spread them out on a sheet lined with paper towels and stuck them in the fridge.  And this is kind of a lengthy process, but well worth the time.

PERFECT CRISPY FRENCH FRIES
6-8 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into fries
Peanut oil
Salt

Put the potatoes in a pot of heavily salted water.  The salt draws out the moisture.  Plus we found there was no need to salt them after cooking since they were perfectly salted.  Turn the pot on high and bring to a boil. When the first few big bubbles show up in the water, turn them off and drain them.  Lay them on a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  Put them in the fridge and leave them there until they are cooled.

Put the peanut oil in a deep fryer or a large pot and bring the oil up to 325 degrees.  Fry the potatoes until they are crusty but not browned.  Remove them to a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  Put them in the fridge again and cool.

Bring the oil to 385 degrees.  Fry the potatoes for a few minutes or until they are golden brown.  Remove from heat and drain.

Try them with my Chipotle Ranch Ketchup!

Not Really French at All...or Is It?


Ever heard of a French Dip Sandwich?  It's a beefy cheesy sandwich served with au jus, which means with juice.  It's like a beef broth to dip the sandwich in.   If you Google the history of the French dip sandwich, you'll find that it's actually an American dish.  The controversy comes in when two different LA restaurants claim to have invented it, Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet and Phillipe the Original.  Phillipe happened to be French.  Both claim to have invented the sandwich.

But I find that the more interesting story is that a policeman came into a restaurant looking for a beef sandwich.  The cook accidentally dropped the sandwich into a pan of au jus. The policeman, being very hungry and not wanting to get the cook in trouble, said he'd take the sandwich anyway.  The policeman loved it, and, thus, a beefy star was born.

No matter who invented it, the sandwich is really good.  This is the first time I've ever made this sandwich with a roast.  In the past, I've only made the sandwich with deli roast beef and dipped it in beef stock.  But I decided to go out on a limb and make a chuck roast in the crockpot and then shred it.  I also made a slightly spicy Horseradish and Garlic Aioli, which is a fancy way of saying mayonnaise.  Let me tell you, these sandwiches were to die for.  The meat was fall-apart tender. The aioli was the perfect companion to the roast.  My husband and kids loved it all.  If you've got some beef-loving fans in your house, this recipe should make them happy.

Time to get your beef on!

FRENCH DIP SANDWICHES
One 4 lb chuck roast
1 onion, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
4 C beef stock
3 T whole peppercorns
1 C red wine
2 T Worcestershire sauce
Olive oil
Sandwich rolls
Horseradish & Garlic Aioli (to follow)
Smoky Provolone or Swiss cheese slices
1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
3 T butter
Pinch sugar

Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a crockpot.  Add in the onion, garlic, roast, beef stock, peppercorns, wine, and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the meat falls apart.

When the meat is tender, remove it from the crockpot and cover with foil.  Strain the cooking liquid and reserve the liquid for the au jus.  Shred the meat.

For the caramelized onions and peppers, melt the butter in a skillet or a pot with a lid.  Add in the peppers, onions, pinch of sugar, and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the lid and cook on high for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, or until the peppers and onions are caramelized.

Preheat the broiler.  Spread some of the Horseradish & Garlic Aioli into the sandwich buns.  Add in some of the shredded meat, onions and peppers, and top with cheese slices.  Place the sandwiches in a casserole pan and broil only long enough to melt the cheese.  Serve the sandwiches with dipping bowls of the au jus.


This is a great homemade mayo that goes great on sandwiches, pot roasts, or even prime rib.

HORSERADISH & GARLIC AIOLI (MAYONNAISE)
2 egg yolks
2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
3 T prepared horseradish
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
1 T white vinegar
1 C vegetable oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor except the vegetable oil.  While the machine is running, very very slowly stream in the oil.  This takes a little time, but it won't work if you pour the oil too fast.  This keeps for about a week in the fridge.

Pinterest Problem

Dear Fans:

I am experiencing some issues with Pinterest.  Some glitch has caused my pins to go to my web page but not necessarily to the exact recipe you are looking for.  I have contacted Pinterest and am awaiting help with this issue.

In the meantime, all of my recipes are listed in the index on the left-hand side of the page, so you can find what you are looking for there.  I'm sorry for any inconvenience this causes you.  If you have any questions for me, click on the email button above the index.  I answer all comments and all emails I get very quickly.

Thank you for your interest in my website and for following me!  I wouldn't be able to do this without you!

Cindy

Jalapeno Popper Mushrooms


JALAPENO POPPER MUSHROOMS
Two 8-ounce packages mushrooms, stems removed
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1 T garlic powder
About 1 lb bacon (thin sliced...thick will take forever to cook)
2-3 T jarred jalapeno slices
Toothpicks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  If your mushrooms are large, cut the bacon in halves.  If they are small, cut the bacon into thirds.  You may or may not have enough bacon for the last few mushrooms.  Just cook them without it.

In a food processor, add all the ingredients except the mushrooms and bacon.  Pulse until combined.  Fill the filling into the mushroom caps. Wrap each mushroom with the bacon and secure through the sides with a toothpick.  Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the bacon is crispy.  Some of the filling may leak out, but that's okay too.  It's great to eat with a spoon!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Horseradish & Garlic Aioli (Mayonnaise)


This is a great homemade mayo that goes great on sandwiches, pot roasts, or even prime rib.

HORSERADISH & GARLIC AIOLI (MAYONNAISE)
2 egg yolks
2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
3 T prepared horseradish
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
1 T white vinegar
1 C vegetable oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor except the vegetable oil.  While the machine is running, very very slowly stream in the oil.  This takes a little time, but it won't work if you pour the oil too fast.  This keeps for about a week in the fridge.

Chipotle Ranch Ketchup


Yes, I did combine Ranch and ketchup.  Just try it.  You know you want to!

CHIPOTLE RANCH KETCHUP
2 C ketchup
1-2 T chipotle powder
1 packet Ranch dip mix
3 T prepared Ranch dressing

Combine the ingredients together with a whisk.  Serve with fries, on burgers, or even on scrambled eggs!

Fougasse


Fougasse is a leaf-shaped bread that originates in Provence France.  Here's my version loaded with sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and parsley.  If you're a breadmaker, give this one a try.  It's hearty and beautiful.

FOUGASSE
3 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast (a little more than half of a packet)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 T olive oil
3/4 to 1 C water, 110 to 115 degrees
4 ounces sliced black olives
4 ounces sliced sun-dried tomatoes in oil, well drained
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
2 T butter, melted

Put the yeast, sugar, and 3/4 C water in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Let it sit about five minutes until foamy.  Add in the remaining ingredients (except the butter) and knead until it forms a ball.  If the dough is not sticky, add in the remaining 1/4 C water.  Scrape the sticky ball into a large greased bowl.  Let it rise for about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours until tripled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured board.  Flour the top side and then roll it out into about a 15-inch oval shape.  Cut slits in the dough (see picture above) and separate the openings.  Cover and let it rise about 30 more minutes or until it's roughly the size you want it, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches tall.  Preheat the oven to 375 and bake for about 30 minutes or until done through and browned.  Remove from the oven and brush the 2 T butter all over the top and sides.  Cover with foil and let it rest at least 30 minutes.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tomatoes on Tile Roofs


Ever wonder where sun-dried tomatoes came from?  Well, I did, so I looked it up.  Before refrigeration and ways to preserve food, the Italians would dry fresh tomatoes on top of their tile roofs so they would have tomatoes in the wintertime when fresh wasn't available.  For some reason, I found this pretty interesting.  Can you imagine walking through an old neighborhood in Italy and seeing tons of tomatoes on roofs?  I did, and it was quite a humorous image that I conjured up in my head.  You'd think the birds would come and eat them before they were dry.

Anyway, I love sun-dried tomatoes.  They are a bit tart and slightly sweet. If you've never had them, they look like large red raisins.  They come either dry or packed in oil.  They really give a punch of flavor to whatever you put them in.  I love the combination of tomatoes and basil, so I made a pasta with chicken and a sun-dried tomato basil cream sauce.  It's a little decadent, but it's so good it's worth it.

While I go on the roof to dry tomatoes, check out this recipe.

CHICKEN & SUN-DRIED TOMATO BASIL PASTA
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C white wine
2 C heavy cream
1/2 C chicken stock
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
One 8-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil, well drained
2 T flour
3 T butter
Salt & pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 lb angel hair pasta

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Preheat a large skillet or dutch oven to medium high heat.  Drizzle in some olive oil and add in the butter.  Cook the chicken for about 3 minutes or until it's cooked through.  Remove to a plate.  Add the onion to the skillet and cook until tender.  Add in the tomatoes and garlic. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook until most of the liquid is gone. Add in the chicken stock and again cook until most of the liquid is gone. Add in the flour and whisk around to combine.  Add in the cream and whisk to combine.  Cook until thickened and bubbly.  Season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and the chicken.

Serve the sauce over the pasta and garnish with the Parmesan cheese.

Ox Eyes


This is a breakfast known as Ox Eyes or "Eggs in Hell."  It's a Tex-Mex dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce.  I made mine for two people and served it with refried beans, bacon, cheese, and a crispy tostada.  If it's a little too spicy for breakfast, try it for dinner!

OX EYES
4 eggs
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 a small onion, chopped
6 slices bacon, cooked and drained
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1 T cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tostadas
1 C refried beans, warm
Shredded cheese
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Drizzle some olive oil in a small skillet.  Cook the onions and jalapenos over medium heat until tender.  Add in the tomato sauce, garlic, and season with salt and pepper.  Carefully crack in the eggs to prevent them from breaking.  Cover and cook 3-4 minutes or until the yolk is at the desired doneness. Remove from heat.

Place the tostadas on plate.  Spoon some beans onto each tostada.  Layer the bacon on the beans.  Spoon out the eggs (two each) and lay them on top of the bacon.  Spoon the tomato sauce over the eggs.  Garnish with the cheese and cilantro.

Bacon-Wrapped New Potatoes


BACON-WRAPPED NEW POTATOES
3 lbs red potatoes (halve the large ones)
1 lb bacon, each piece cut into three strips
1 packet Ranch dip mix
Olive oil
Toothpicks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes and the Ranch.  Toss them around with your hands to coat.  Wrap each potato with a strip of bacon.  Secure with toothpicks.  Put them on a sheet pan in a single layer.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the bacon is crisp.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Walk on the Savory Side


I have made it no secret on this blog that I don't eat sweets. Seriously.  I know it's strange, but I just don't crave sweets at all.  I do crave salty and savory things.  I have worked in a restaurant/bakery for almost three years, and I have tasted almost none of the desserts.  And we have a lot of desserts ranging from cakes, cheesecakes, pies, bars, and cookies. Sure, I've taken a quick taste of something here and there just to make sure it was good, but I've never eaten a piece of dessert there.  I have eaten a lot of bacon there and deli meat.  I've also eaten a lot of salads there.  No, I don't just eat bacon.  And don't ask my coworkers about that either.

Last night I made a lovely Chicken Piccata for dinner.  I love cooking with tart lemons and briny capers.  The chicken was moist and tender and the sauce was amazing.  Truly amazing.  Some chicken stock, fresh lemon juice, butter, and capers made for a not so filling yet truly satisfying dinner.  If you can find chicken breasts cutlets, which are thinner chicken breasts, use that.  But, if you can't, you can butterfly 4 chicken breasts into 8 chicken breasts.  Google butterflying chicken breasts or cutting breasts into cutlets if this doesn't make sense.  And, if you love lemons and capers, this dish is for you.

Are you sweet or savory?

CHICKEN PICCATA
8 chicken breast cutlets or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 T butter
Olive oil
2 C chicken stock
One 4-ounce jar capers, drained
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 C white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
About 2 C flour
Seasoned salt (to taste)
Garlic powder (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)

If using the 4 chicken breasts, you need to butterfly the breasts all the way through so that you have 8 thin chicken breasts instead of four.  Mix the flour with some seasoned salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.  Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour and shake off the excess.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add in the 3 T butter and drizzle in some olive oil.  When the pan is hot, cook the chicken in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce.  Add in the chicken stock, capers, garlic, and the juice of one lemon.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.  Return the chicken to the pan and cover the pan.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and reduced by half.  Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.  Serve the sauce over the chicken.

Green Bean & Asparagus Casserole


GREEN BEAN & ASPARAGUS CASSEROLE
12 ounces fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 T butter
Olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
3 C heavy cream
1 T Worcestershire
One 2.8-ounce can of french-fried onions
3 T flour
Salt & pepper

Blanch the green beans and asparagus in boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Drain and reserve.

Preheat a large skillet to medium high heat.  Melt the butter in the skillet and drizzle in some olive oil.  Cook the mushrooms and shallot until tender.  Remember not to salt mushrooms until they are browned. Otherwise you will have gray mushrooms.  When the mushrooms and shallot are tender, sprinkle in the flour and whisk it around to coat the mushrooms.  Cook for about a minute.  Add in the cream and whisk to combine.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add in the Worcestershire sauce and taste for salt and pepper.  Cook until the cream is thickened and bubbly and reduced.  Remove from heat and stir in the green beans and asparagus.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put the green bean mixture in an 8 x 8 casserole pan.  Sprinkle the french-fried onions over the top and cover with foil.  Cook for about 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue cooking another 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pumped Up Dad's Day


I've made it no secret in my posts that I adore my husband.  He amazes me every day with his kindness, his humor, his respect, and his love for me.  He is my best friend.  He is a wonderful father.  He is truly a great man.  He is kind, considerate, affectionate, always the life of the party, and my rock.  I feel that, since he treats me so wonderfully, I must treat him exactly the same way.

So, in honor of this amazing man, I thought I'd make him an amazing feast for Father's Day.  Full of some of his favorite things, it was a feast fit for a king, my king.  And what would this king like to eat, you ask?  Well, I'll surely tell you.  I made an amazingly tender pork tenderloin (yes, it was really tender) in the crockpot with a brown sugar and chipotle reduction.  He also got Cheese, Mustard & Beer Bread, a cheesy, mustardy, yeasty bread that was delicious.  For a starter, he got some out-of-this-world Clams Casino and a kicked up version of Chile con Queso con Carne, which is a crazy queso with sausage dip.  Nothing but the best.  And I know there's no salads, no veggies, no chick food here.  These are men we're cooking for, and they want man food.  And they should get it on their day.  Veggies can be mandatory the other 364 days of the year.

Happy Father's Day, John.

BROWN SUGAR CHIPOTLE PORK TENDERLOIN
One 3-lb pork tenderloin
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
1 C brown sugar
1 T onion powder
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
1 T dijon mustard
3/4 C ketchup
2 C water
1 T lime juice

FOR THE REDUCTION:
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C ketchup
Reserved cooking liquid
Salt & pepper to taste

Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of the crockpot.  Add in the onions, the garlic, the 1 C brown sugar, onion powder, chipotles, dijon, water, lime juice and 3/4 C ketchup.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until the pork is tender.  Transfer the pork to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Pour the reserved cooking liquid into a pot.  Add in the 1/2 C brown sugar, 1/2 C ketchup and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium.  Cook and whisk occasionally until the sauce has reduced by half.  Slice the tenderloin and serve the sauce over it.


CHILE CON QUESO CON CARNE (CHEESE DIP WITH SAUSAGE)
One 16-ounce carton sour cream
One 8-ounce block Velveeta, cubed
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, cubed
1 C shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack, but use what you like)
Half a pound of breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled (like Jimmy Dean)
1/2 C green onions, chopped
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T onion powder
1 T garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 T chipotle powder
2 poblanos
1 can Rotel

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  To roast the poblanos, place the peppers on a sheet pan.  Cook the peppers in the oven, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven.  When they are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off, cut off the stem, and scrape out the seeds.  Chop the poblanos.

You can mix all of the ingredients together and cook in a crockpot, stirring occasionally, until everything is melted and combined, which will take some time but is an easier process.  The second option is to microwave in a large bowl for 2-3 minutes at a time, stirring in between. Serve with tortilla chips.


This is great-tasting yeasty bread.  If you love mustard, cheese, and beer, this one's for you.  This is my version as adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

CHEESE MUSTARD BEER BREAD
FOR THE BREAD:
4 T butter
1/4 + 1/3 C dark beer
2 3/4 C flour
1 T sugar
1 packet highly active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

FOR THE FILLING:
3 T butter
1 T spicy brown mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce, to taste (I used Cholua)
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 C shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack, but use what you like)

To start the bread, place the yeast, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Heat the 1/4 C beer and the 4 T butter in a small saucepan. Whisk until the butter has melted.  Let it cool slightly.  Whisk in the remaining beer.  Add the beer mixture to the mixer and combine.  Add in the eggs and knead until it forms into a ball.  Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover.  Let it rise for about an hour or until doubled.

Meanwhile, make the filling.  Melt the 3 T butter in a small pot.  Remove from heat and stir in the Worcestershire, brown mustard and hot sauce. In another bowl, combine the mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix the cheese around in the spice mixture.

Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.  After the bread has rested for an hour, turn the dough out onto a well-floured board.  Roll the dough out into roughly a 20 x 12 inch rectangle.  Spread the butter/mustard mixture all over the top of the dough, all the way to the edges.  Cut the dough carefully with a serrated knife into five even strips along the 12 inch side, meaning you should have five 12 x 4 inch strips.  Now cut each strip into 2 x 4 inch squares.  It's okay if it's not perfect.  You will be overlapping them and the next rise will hide imperfections.

To assemble the bread, set the loaf pan onto one short end.  Sprinkle a section of dough with the cheese mixture and lay it in the end of the pan touching the counter.  Repeat with dough sections and cheese, overlapping the sections in the pan, until the last pieces which should have no cheese on the outer edge.  Think of it as laying playing cards in the pan and stacking them.  If you don't seem to have enough dough to get to the end, turn the pan back right-side up and gently shake the pan to loosen the stacks up.  The next rise will fill in the gaps.  Cover and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes or until it grows over the top of the pan. (If this process isn't clear, click on the words "Smitten Kitchen" above.  She has detailed pictures of the process.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes or until it is puffed and browned.  Let it cool for about five minutes before turning it out.  Eat this bread while it is hot or warm so that the cheese is still soft.


A truly special occasion dish sure to please anyone who loves clams.  My favorite part?  The pancetta.  I love bacon.

CLAMS CASINO
1 lb littleneck clams
1/4 lb pancetta, diced
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 T lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
2 T butter
2 C rock salt
Olive oil

Soak the clams in cold water for about 30 minutes.  Discard any that don't close when gently tapped.  Put the clams in a pot and boil for about 5 minutes or until they are all opened.  Discard any that don't open.  Let them cool slightly.

Separate the clam shells in half and scoop out the clam meat.  Chop the clams.  Spread the rock salt out on a sheet pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, cook the pancetta until crispy. Remove from the pan and drain.  Add the butter to the same skillet and add the shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat until translucent.  Add in the wine and deglaze the pan.  Cook until most of the liquid is gone.  Remove from the heat and stir in the pancetta, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, lemon juice and clams.

Spoon the filling into the clam shells.  Drizzle them with olive oil.  Cook them for about 5 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt and the filling is hot.

Chile con Queso con Carne


CHILE CON QUESO CON CARNE (CHEESE DIP WITH SAUSAGE)
One 16-ounce carton sour cream
One 8-ounce block Velveeta, cubed
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, cubed
1 C shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack, but use what you like)
Half a pound of breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled (like Jimmy Dean)
1/2 C green onions, chopped
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T onion powder
1 T garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 T chipotle powder
2 poblanos
1 can Rotel

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  To roast the poblanos, place the peppers on a sheet pan.  Cook the peppers in the oven, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven.  When they are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off, cut off the stem, and scrape out the seeds.  Chop the poblanos.

You can mix all of the ingredients together and cook in a crockpot, stirring occasionally, until everything is melted and combined, which will take some time but is an easier process.  The second option is to microwave in a large bowl for 2-3 minutes at a time, stirring in between. Serve with tortilla chips.

Cheese, Mustard & Beer Bread


This is great-tasting yeasty bread.  If you love mustard, cheese, and beer, this one's for you.  This is my version as adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

CHEESE MUSTARD BEER BREAD
FOR THE BREAD:
4 T butter
1/4 + 1/3 C dark beer
2 3/4 C flour
1 T sugar
1 packet highly active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

FOR THE FILLING:
3 T butter
1 T spicy brown mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce, to taste (I used Cholua)
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 C shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack, but use what you like)

To start the bread, place the yeast, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Heat the 1/4 C beer and the 4 T butter in a small saucepan. Whisk until the butter has melted.  Let it cool slightly.  Whisk in the remaining beer.  Add the beer mixture to the mixer and combine.  Add in the eggs and knead until it forms into a ball.  Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover.  Let it rise for about an hour or until doubled.

Meanwhile, make the filling.  Melt the 3 T butter in a small pot.  Remove from heat and stir in the Worcestershire, brown mustard and hot sauce. In another bowl, combine the mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix the cheese around in the spice mixture.

Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.  After the bread has rested for an hour, turn the dough out onto a well-floured board.  Roll the dough out into roughly a 20 x 12 inch rectangle.  Spread the butter/mustard mixture all over the top of the dough, all the way to the edges.  Cut the dough carefully with a serrated knife into five even strips along the 12 inch side, meaning you should have five 12 x 4 inch strips.  Now cut each strip into 2 x 4 inch squares.  It's okay if it's not perfect.  You will be overlapping them and the next rise will hide imperfections.

To assemble the bread, set the loaf pan onto one short end.  Sprinkle a section of dough with the cheese mixture and lay it in the end of the pan touching the counter.  Repeat with dough sections and cheese, overlapping the sections in the pan, until the last pieces which should have no cheese on the outer edge.  Think of it as laying playing cards in the pan and stacking them.  If you don't seem to have enough dough to get to the end, turn the pan back right-side up and gently shake the pan to loosen the stacks up.  The next rise will fill in the gaps.  Cover and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes or until it grows over the top of the pan. (If this process isn't clear, click on the words "Smitten Kitchen" above.  She has detailed pictures of the process.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes or until it is puffed and browned.  Let it cool for about five minutes before turning it out.  Eat this bread while it is hot or warm so that the cheese is still soft.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Clams Casino


A truly special occasion dish sure to please anyone who loves clams.  My favorite part?  The pancetta.  I love bacon.

CLAMS CASINO
1 lb littleneck clams
1/4 lb pancetta, diced
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 T lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
2 T butter
2 C rock salt
Olive oil

Soak the clams in cold water for about 30 minutes.  Discard any that don't close when gently tapped.  Put the clams in a pot and boil for about 5 minutes or until they are all opened.  Discard any that don't open.  Let them cool slightly.

Separate the clam shells in half and scoop out the clam meat.  Chop the clams.  Spread the rock salt out on a sheet pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, cook the pancetta until crispy. Remove from the pan and drain.  Add the butter to the same skillet and add the shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat until translucent.  Add in the wine and deglaze the pan.  Cook until most of the liquid is gone.  Remove from the heat and stir in the pancetta, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, lemon juice and clams.

Spoon the filling into the clam shells.  Drizzle them with olive oil.  Cook them for about 5 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt and the filling is hot.

Summer Soup


Who says you can't eat soup in the summer?  Not me!  My husband is a huge fan of Asian food, and I wanted to create something light yet hearty for dinner.  I came across some rice noodles on the Asian section of the grocery store, which are something we'd never eaten boiled.  I've flash fried them before for lettuce wraps.  It's a pretty cool thing to watch.  You throw some rice noodles in hot oil, and they grow really fast, kind of like watching those black snake fireworks grow.  Remember those, the little black circles that you set on fire and an ash snake grew?  Yeah, it's kind of like that.

My husband loves Ramen, which I very rarely eat, so I wanted to give him his pasta fix without the Ramen.  I thought I'd give these rice noodles a try.  I had ground pork on hand, so why not throw some meatballs into the soup.  And it was really good.  It was hearty, yet light.  The broth was to die for, and the meatballs were perfect.  Now, you don't have to keep the parts separate like I did in the picture.  That's just me trying to be all fancified.  So, if you're craving Asian but want to keep it light, this is the way to go.  And a lot of the ingredients here I have listed as optional or to taste.  Add in as much or as little of each as you want.  Just taste it and keep adding until it's too your liking.  I tend to oversalt things, so I left it up to you to get the seasonings just the way you like it.

Can you eat soup with chopsticks?

ASIAN MEATBALL RICE NOODLE SOUP
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
1 lb ground pork
2 green onions
A few drops of fish sauce (optional)
2 T soy sauce
A few drops of oyster sauce (optional)
1 T garlic powder
Red chili flakes (to taste)
A few drops of sesame oil
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
Olive oil

FOR THE SOUP:
8 C chicken stock
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 ounce package of dried exotic mushrooms (or 4 ounces white mushrooms, sliced)
Soy sauce (to taste)
A few drops of sesame oil
Red chili flake, to taste
1 T chopped cilantro
Rice wine vinegar (to taste)
1 head of bok choy, stems removed and chopped
One 8-ounce package of dried rice noodles (reserve a bit to deep fry for garnish if desired)

Sliced green onions, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all of the meatball ingredients except the olive oil together.  Shape into half-inch meatballs.  Place them in a casserole pan and drizzle with some olive oil.  Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the meatballs are done.

If using the dried mushrooms, rehydrate them in hot water for about 30 minutes.  Drain and rough chop them.

If using the reserved rice noodles as a fried garnish, heat some vegetable oil in a shallow skillet to very hot.  Throw in the rice noodles and cook for a few seconds until they are well expanded and crispy.  Drain.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add in the carrots and garlic.  Cook until the carrots are almost tender. Add in the mushrooms (either the rehydrated or white mushrooms), a few drops of sesame oil, soy sauce to taste, rice wine vinegar to taste, the chile flake to taste, and the bok choy. Add in the noodles and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until they are tender.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.  Stir the meatballs in and serve, garnishing with the green onions and crispy rice noodles.