Saturday, July 2, 2011

Random Pictures

While on my recent mini vacay to Nashville, my camera gave me a warning that I only had available space for 4 pictures. While I was frantically erasing photos, I discovered a bunch of food photos I was pretty sure I hadn't written about.

Banana Pudding
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) container cool whip, thawed
4 bananas, sliced
1 package vanilla wafers

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in condensed milk, pudding mix, cold milk and vanilla until smooth. (Be careful. Beating milk can be messy.) Fold in 1/2 of the cool whip.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 inch dish with vanilla wafers. Arrange sliced bananas evenly over wafers. Spread with pudding mixture. Top with remaining whipped topping. Chill. For a little something extra, toast some coconut and sprinkle it on top.

Brad really likes Stromboli, so I make it for him periodically. My recipe isn't very exact, but I will share it anyway.


1 premade pizza crust, rolled into a thin rectangle (I buy the kind in the tube)

Thinly sliced deli ham (I buy the presliced in a tupperware package at Aldi)

Salami (8 slices)

Pepperoni (about 20 slices)

Provolone cheese (about 6 slices)

1 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1 teaspoon oregano

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 egg yolk, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 F, and spray a large cookie sheet with Pam or the like.

Pat out the pizza dough. I put mine on top of one of those flimsy disposable cutting boards (that I don't dispose of until they break), and spread out the dough so it covers most all of the cutting board.

Evenly place two rows of the the provolone cheese on top of the dough, leaving the top end empty.

On top of the provolone and the empty space, layer 8 slices of salami. There should be an uncovered layer of provolone at the bottom, and a layer of salami with no provolone underneath.

Evenly layer ham over entire square, then evenly place pepperoni slices on top of ham.

Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Mix garlic powder, oregano, parsley and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture over cheese.

Roll the stromboli like a jelly roll, beginning at the side with the provolone. Seal the dough together as best as you can. Place roll, seam side down, on a greased cookie sheet. Brush with beaten egg yolk.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to sit 5 minutes before slicing.
Mongolian Beef

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons white sugar

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 pound beef flank steak, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon peanut oil

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Whisk together soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, sugar, garlic and red pepper flakes. Add sliced flank steak and refrigerate 1-8 hours.

Heat peanut oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high to high heat. Add green onions and cook for about 10 seconds before adding beef. (Try to leave as much of the marinade out of the pan as possible. If too much of the marinade is present, you will end up boiling the meat, which isn't nearly as tasty as browning it.) Cook and stir beef for about 5 minutes, or until it is no longer pink and is beginning to brown.

Serve over rice.

Whoopie Pies

1 egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup marshmallow creme or fluff

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 large cookie sheets and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In the measuring cup, mix together buttermilk and vanilla. In a large bowl, beat eggs and vegetable oil. Gradually add sugar until well mixed and pale yellow in color. Continue mixing and begin adding dry ingredients and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Drop tablespoon sized batter onto the cookie sheets, and bake. The cookies will spread out a lot, so leave plenty of room. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until tops spring back when touched. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool on wire racks.

In a medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.

When cookies are cool, spread filling on the flat side of one cookie. Press the flat side of a second cookie into the filling to make a sandwich.

You don't need to refrigerate these, but I would recommend it if you aren't going to serve them right away. The bottom cookie got really soggy after about a day, but they were a HUGE hit when I made them for work.

Hamburger Pie (From Kraft Magazine)

1 pound ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 cup frozen corn

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons steak sauce

1/2 cup hot water

2 cups baking mix (Jiffy/Bisquick/ Cheap off brand Aldi variety)

1 cup colby jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Brown ground beef and onions in a large skillet. Drain grease. Stir in corn, ketchup and steak sauce. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine hot water and baking mix. Stir until dough forms, and shape into a ball. Place on a lightly floured surface. Knead 5 times, or until smooth and no longer sticky. Roll into a 12 inch circle (It does not need to be a perfect circle), and transfer dough to a greased cookie sheet or pizza pan. Spoon meat mixture into the center of the dough, and spread to about 2 inches from the edge. Fold edges over meat mixture, leaving the center uncovered.

Bake 20 minutes in preheated oven. Top center with cheese and return to oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Slice into triangles, like pizza.

Curry Chicken Salad with Fruit

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cooked, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1 golden delicious apple, peeled, cored, and diced

1/3 cup golden raisins (if you desire, which I generally don't)

1/3 cup seedless green grapes, halved (I think I used red in the picture, though)

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

3/4 cup mayonnaise (though I use 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup mayo)

In a small bowl, mix together pepper, curry powder and mayo.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, celery, green onions, apple, raisins, grapes and pecans. Toss with curry mixture. Serve on croissant or a bed of lettuce.

This is waffles, bacon, and hash brown casserole. The hash brown casserole recipe is archived to the left.

This is Death by Chocolate, and the recipe is archived to the left.

This is Pork Chops and Pierogies. Guess what? The recipe is archived to the left.

This is fruit salsa. I need to check on the status of this recipe.

These are goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped with bacon.

This is artichoke dip. I will provide the recipe at a later date. (Read: when I find it)

I don't remember what this is called, but I will look it up and let you know.

These are crab bites. They are divine.

I will finish typing in these recipes later. I have been working on this entry for like a week, now, and I just want to push "post," so I am going to do so.

Carne Asada Tacos

Carne Asada Tacos
2 pounds flank or skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat
Olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
16 corn tortillas
Shredded lettuce
Chopped white onion
Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, juiced
1 orange, juiced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Pico de Gallo:
4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
1 Serrano chile, minced
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

To make marinade, place garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, salt and pepper into a food processor. Chop until ingredients are finely chopped and paste-like.

Place mixture in a storage container large enough to hold the beef. Add the lime and orange juices, vinegar and oil to the mixture and mix well. Place beef in container and marinate for 1-8 hours. (6-8 hours is ideal. After 8 hours, the citrus juices begin to break down the fibers in the meat, but it takes several hours for the flavors to really develop with the meat.)

To make Pico de Gallo, combine all ingredients. Toss thoroughly. Prepare at least 30 minutes before eating.

Brush the grates of an outdoor grill with olive oil (or spray with nonstick cooking spray BEFORE starting the fire). If using a gas grill, heat to medium-high. Remove beef from marinade. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Grill 7-10 minutes per side, depending on heat of grill and thickness of meat, until medium rare. Place steak on a cutting board and allow to rest 5 minutes.

Place the corn tortillas on the grill. Warm for about 30 seconds per side, until warm and pliable.

Thinly slice the beef at a diagonal across the grain. Place beef down the center of a corn tortilla. Top with lettuce, onion, cheese and Pico de Gallo. (I also added sour cream, because I love sour cream.)

I served this with a Rice-a-Roni rice pouch. The rice was nothing to write home about, but the meat was really delicious.

Lemon and Basil

I bought a Basil plant at Trader Joe's because it was the same price as a bunch of fresh basil at the grocery store, and it regenerates. I figured even if I killed it quickly, which was likely, it would cost no more than if I had only bought enough for one recipe. I have managed to keep it alive for close to a month now, so I have been trying to incorporate lots of basil into our meals.

Grilled Chesapeake Bay Prawns with Lemon Horseradish Sauce (from the Penzey's spice catalog)

2 pounds jumbo prawns, in the shells or shelled and deveined

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Chesapeake Bay Seasoning

1 cup tomato ketchup

1 small lemon, juiced and zested

2 heaping tablespoons prepared horseradish

4 shakes Tobasco sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt (preferably kosher or sea)

ground pepper

In a medium bowl, combine all sauce ingredients. Add more horseradish to taste, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium high. Just before grilling, toss shrimp in oil and sprinkle with Chesapeake Bay Seasoning. Place shrimp on the grade directly over the heat and grill for 6-7 minutes, turning once, until all parts of the shrimp are the same opaque color. Serve immediately.

Some notes: As we all know, I am both a resident of a rural community, and cheap. Fresh jumbo prawns are unavailable, and frozen ones are not guaranteed. I ended up using medium sized shrimp because that is what I could find. Because they would fall through the grates of a grill, I threaded the shrimp on skewers and grilled that way. The shrimp are juicier if you grill them with the shells on, but the flavor of the seasoning is much stronger if you sprinkle it directly on the flesh. Also, Chesapeake Bay Seasoning is a Penzey's Spice, ( which is where I get all of my spices, but it is pretty equivalent to Old Bay seasoning, which is available at nearly all grocery stores.

Lemon-Basil Potatoes

16 baby new potatoes, halved

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh is always better!)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (preferably fresh)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Place the potatoes, chicken stock, lemon, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Drain potatoes and place in a serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Add lemon zest and basil. Toss well.

I served this with fresh sugar snap peas, steamed in a Ziploc steamer bag and tossed with butter and salt and pepper.

Best. New. Recipe. EVER.

I have been trying new recipes the last few weeks. I am trying to expand my repertoire during the summer when I have time to test new recipes so when school starts I have already tested them out. This chicken recipe was a little work, but it is soo good. The sweetness of the apricots combined with the saltiness of the goat cheese combined with the crunchiness of the Panko was like a little party in my mouth.

Goat Cheese, Apricot, and Sage-Stuffed Chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (This is how chicken is standardly sold - in half breast portions)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup Panko crumbs or other toasted coarse bread crumbs
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth

Soak dried apricots in very hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and slice apricots into 1/4 inch pieces.

In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sweat them out for 5 minutes. If they begin to brown, turn down the heat. You don't want them to brown. Turn the heat down to medium and add garlic. Add sage and salt and pepper and continue to cook until the onions are translucent. Add apricots and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Thoroughly mix in goat cheese and set aside.

Using any method that works for you, (I use my marble rolling pin, though I think they make a specific kitchen utensil for the purpose) pound chicken breasts until they are about 1/4 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread 1/4 cup of the apricot cheese mixture down the center of each chicken breast. Fold the short ends in, then roll one long side up to the other side. Tie the ends with string or stick them with toothpicks to secure. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture and then in the Panko.

In an ovenproof saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat. Place the chicken in the pan and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Then, put the entire pan in the oven and bake until the chicken is golden and firm when pressed, 10 - 15 minutes, depending on how thin you get the chicken.

USING AN OVEN MITT OR POTHOLDERS remove the pan from the oven. If you have an oven mitt or potholder with a slit in it, put it over the handle of the saucepan after removing to remind yourself that it is HOT! Otherwise, you will burn yourself like I did, and it will be painful.

Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a plate. Remove string or toothpicks from chicken. Loosely cover the plate with foil. Place the pan over medium high heat and deglaze with wine. Boil until reduced, about 2 minutes, and then add the chicken stock. Boil until reduced by half, 3-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, and melt 1 tablespoon butter into the mixture. Drizzle chicken breasts with sauce before serving.

Gnocchi with Sage Butter Sauce
24 ounces (give or take a little) potato gnocchi (I bought mine at Aldi, but you can usually get it in the pasta aisle and/or frozen pasta section of a decent grocery store)
1/4 cup butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried sage (I used 1 tablespoon fresh sage, because I had it)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, and cook until they float to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes; drain.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook until the garlic has softened and is beginning to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the sage and salt for a few seconds, then add the cooked gnocchi. Toss gently with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and the pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese to serve.

I also made fresh green beans, which I steamed in a Ziploc steamer bag. I drizzled the sauce from the chicken recipe over the green beans, as well. Brad and I thought it was great. He took the leftovers in his lunch, and he said the chicken reheated pretty well.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I love to bake, and while I could, at times, eat everything I bake, I really shouldn't. It works out okay, though, because no one normal turns down baked goods, so I can always bring them to work or send them to work with Brad. I usually send him treats every other week or so, but that dries up in April and May because of end of the year craziness. Now that it is summer, though, I don't go to work, so he gets all of the treats.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies
3 1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup white sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, beat butter, shortening and sugars with an electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. In a small bowl, combine salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and flour. Beat into wet ingredients until just incorporated. Stir in oats and pecans.

Drop tablespoon sized balls onto greased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Store dough in refrigerator while cookies are baking. If the dough gets too warm, the cookies will spread out too much when baking. Cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Brad has nostalgic memories of oatmeal cookies his grandma made, but unfortunately, no one seems to have the recipe. These were my most recent attempt to recreate them. He says they have too much oatmeal. (My last attempt didn't have enough oats...) I found these to be really delicious. They are really crunchy, though, and the recipe makes A TON! (like 7 dozen)

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze (by Giada from
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15 oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat until just combined. Stir in reserved dry ingredients.

Drop two tablespoons of dough per cookie 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spread glaze over cooled cookies. Allow to harden for about 2 hours before storing in an airtight container.

Brad thought these were too tart. I thought they were really good, but not so good that I'd go buy ricotta to make them. I had an open container I needed to use up, and this was a nice alternative to my usual efforts to use up ricotta - generally calzones.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Girls Night Dinner

Last night, a girlfriend came over for dinner. We had chicken tetrazzini, salad, and garlic cheese bread with peach cake for dessert.
My friend and I both thought the chicken tetrazzini was very delicious. Today, I reheated some leftovers for lunch, and Brad asked me if I liked it. I told him I thought it was really good. He said if he ordered it a restaurant, he'd be disappointed. I was crestfallen. I worked so hard on it, and I thought it was sooo good. Then I took a bite. It is DELICIOUS right out of the oven. It looses a lot in the storage/ reheating process. The pasta absorbs a lot of the liquid and the flavors, and the breadcrumb topping gets soggy. Brad described it as a casserole with cream of mushroom soup in it, and, after trying it reheated, I don't disagree.

... so I highly recommend this recipe IF you are going to be able to eat it all in the first sitting. The recipe makes a FULL 13x9 inch pan, so unless you are feeding a family of seven, or have teen aged sons, cutting the recipe in half is probably a good idea.

Chicken Tetrazzini
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups grated Italian Cheese Blend
12 ounces linguine
3/4 cup frozen peas1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (if desired, which I usually don't)
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs

Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish. Set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a deep large skillet. Combine 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and sprinkle over chicken breasts. Place in hot pan until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool slightly. When cool, shred chicken or cut into bite sized pieces, and place in a large bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to the same pan. Add mushrooms, and saute over medium high heat until the mushrooms release their juices and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute until until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the entire mixture into the bowl with the chicken.

Melt the final 3 tablespoons of butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk together. It will be clumpy. Whisk in the milk. Add cream, broth, nutmeg, and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to high until the mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir often. Add Italian cheese and stir.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add linguine, peas, sauce, and parsley to the bowl with the mushrooms mixture and the chicken. Toss until the pasta is coated and the mixture is well blended.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Stir together the Parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the pasta. Bake, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

For dessert, we had peach cake. We ate it warm, with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Peach Cake
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 medium peaches, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 13x9 inch pan. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture alternating with the buttermilk, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in the peaches by hand. Pour the batter into the pan. In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the batter. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

The Camera Went AWOL

I had just finished slaving over a hot stove and grill. I had plated my delicious meal of Asian Chicken, Rice Noodles with Sesame Peanut Sauce and Honey Cashew Green Beans. I had found and open corner of counter top where I could take the photo. The only thing missing... was the camera. We couldn't find it. Grr.

Grilled Asian Chicken
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound chicken (I use boneless skinless chicken breast for just about everything, but you could really use any part of the chicken, with or without bones)

Whisk together all ingredients (except chicken - which is not whiskable, so I am not sure why I even felt the need to clarify that point). Add chicken, and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Cook chicken on a grill (medium heat if using a gas grill) until center is no longer pink, and juices run clear.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce
8 ounces spaghetti shaped noodles (I used rice noodles, but spaghetti or linguine would also work well)
2 tablespoons white onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon rice wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

In most grocery stores, in the fresh spice area, you can buy a tube of fresh ginger paste. This is generally what I get, because working with fresh ginger can sometimes be frustrating. For this recipe, though, I just threw the onion, garlic and fresh ginger in the food processor, and it chopped them all very nicely.

Heat sesame oil (which can be found in the "Asian" section of most grocery stores (even here in T-Roy) over medium heat (6 on my electric stove) until smoky. Add ginger, garlic, onions and red pepper flakes and cook until the onions become translucent and then brown. Be patient. A higher temperature will burn the ginger and garlic. Stir frequently. This process takes about 8 minutes.

Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar and brown sugar. Reduce heat to medium low (4 on my electric stove) and gently stir until the peanut butter melts. Continue to cook sauce, stirring frequently, on low (2 on my electric stove) while preparing the noodles.

Prepare the noodles. If you are using a semolina based pasta (spaghetti, for instance) you will need to boil the noodles. For rice noodles, you generally pour boiling water over them and allow them to soak. Either way, do it. Drain the noodles and stir the peanut sauce into them. The noodles are great warm or cold.

Cashew Green Beans
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cashews

Steam the green beans. I am personally a huge advocate (I think they should hire me to be a spokesperson) of the Ziploc Steamer Bags. You just prepare your veggies (trim and rinse) and place them in the bag. Zip it up and microwave for the amount of time listed on the bag for that particular veggie. I like my veggies crisp, so I ALWAYS reduce the cook time for 1/2 bag by about 30% regardless of how full the bag is. You can always add more time. You can not bring life back into limp broccoli, or in this case, green beans. You want them to remain crisp, because they are going to get a second cook.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add honey and stir together. Toss cooked green beans in mixture, and saute for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle cashews on top, and serve.

This dish is sweet. The honey tastes like honey, but it is perfect with the spice of the chicken and the richness of the noodles.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Fondue Feast!

Last night the Cataldos enjoyed a delicious fondue feast with friends. I intended to take photos, but we were all starving and so the desire to eat eclipsed my mind and I totally forgot about pictures until we had already devoured the cheese course and were in the process of gorging ourselves on coq au vin.

We began with a traditional Swiss fondue.

Traditional Swiss Fondue
3 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 ounce cherry liqueur
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Dippers (various types of bread, green apples)

Mix cheese, flour and garlic in a bowl. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat wine and lemon juice for until lightly boiling. Add half of the cheese and stir constantly until melted. Add the remaining cheese, and stir until melted. Stir in cherry liqueur. Add pepper and nutmeg and gently stir. Pour into a fondue pot and keep melty over low heat.

We continued with a coq au vin

Coq Au Vin
3 3/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups burgundy
3/4 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped carrot
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground pepper

Dippers, cubed (here's what I used...)
Chicken Breast
Sirloin marinated in Teriyaki marinade
Beef tenderloin
Vegetables (red potatoes, button mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash)

My fondue pot isn't small, but it isn't terribly large either. It also uses Sterno as its heat source, and we learned last time we had fondue night that the broth doesn't stay as hot as desired once the cooking begins. This time I put all of the ingredients in a crock pot. It definitely worked better, but it still had trouble keeping the broth as hot as we wanted. Regardless of the apparatus used, thread meat onto fondue fork and cook in pot until it reaches desired doneness. It does not take long at all for fish and seafood (2-3 minutes-ish), but chicken takes a bit longer (5 minutes-ish). Once cooked, dip meat and veggies into desired sauces.

Cocktail Sauce (Good for fish and shrimp - though I don't think anyone used it.)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
hot pepper sauce to taste

Whisk ingredients together until blended. Cover and chill until serving.

Creamy Curry Sauce (This goes great with seafood and chicken, and we LOVE it, though it does have a bit of a kick)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup mango chutney (Major Grey's is great - AND you can get it at Kroger)
2 teaspoons minced red onion
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients together. Mix well. Cover and chill until serving, at least 2 hours.

Horseradish Sauce (This is really tasty with beef - but we didn't eat much of it)
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 green onions, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together. Mix well. Cover and chill until serving.

Green Goddess (Goes well with vegetables and is so good I consider it a food group)
3/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup FINELY chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup FINELY chopped green onions
2 tablespoons minced white onion

Combine all ingredients together. Mix well. Cover and chill until serving.

Teriyaki Sauce (Goes well with anything. Especially delicious mixed with Gorgonzola Sauce)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
5 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup cold water

Mix all ingredients but cornstarch and 1/4 cup water together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir cornstarch into 1/4 cup water. When mixture boils, stir in cornstarch and water. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. Serve warm, or refrigerate until serving.

Gorgonzola Sauce (LOVE this one!)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon cherry brandy
1 tablespoon milk

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Finally, we ended with a milk chocolate raspberry fondue for dessert.

Milk Chocolate Raspberry Fondue
12 ounces milk chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons frangelico (raspberry liquor)

Dippers (what I used...)
Fresh strawberries, bananas, and pineapple
Rice Krispies Treats
Pound cake
Cheesecake bites

Combine chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring well each time, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in Frangelico. Transfer to fondue pot to keep warm.

A fun time was had by all!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our First "I Have Time To Cook" Dinner

Everyone who knows me knows I'm not a dumb girl, but if you *really* know me, you know I am technology stupid. I just missed the technology generation in both directions.

The kids just a little bit younger than me have no recollection of life before computers. We got our first computer when I was a sophomore in high school. Any time I needed to type anything in middle school, I did it at my dad's office. As a freshmen, I hand wrote my assignment and then my mom typed it. As a sophomore, though, the assignments got longer and the procrastination got fiercer, and my mom was no longer willing to type my assignments. So she bought a computer. I remember it was close to $1500, but it included Windows 95, which was brand spankin' new at the time. I could muddle my way through typing and spell checking an essay, but that was the extent of my abilities. If anything went wrong, I had to call in reinforcements.

The "kids" a little bit older than me managed to get through college and find jobs before computers infiltrated every aspect of life, so when computers were foisted on them, everyone learned together.

Me, though, I am in that generation where it is assumed that at some point I learned all about technology. The truth of the matter is, though, I still have a Walkman (one of those personal listening devices that requires 2 AA batteries and plays TAPES), my television has a tube in it, I have a collection of VHS movies I am not willing to part with but am too cheap to replace on DVD, and whenever anything electronic stops working properly, I unplug it, do a dance to the technology gods, plug it back in and hope for the best.

I mention all of this because it just took me 20 solid minutes to find the picture of tonight's dinner that I just uploaded onto my computer. (I bet you can't guess how many hours it took me how to figure out how to transfer pictures from my digital camera to my computer...)

One of the few aspects of summer that I love is that we eat well. I have time to plan, shop for, and prepare delicious meals that involve more prep work, cooking time or dishes than I am willing to dedicate during the school year.

Tonight, we had macadamia nut encrusted Mahi Mahi with a tropical fruit sauce over coconut rice. I was going to make sesame stir fried asparagus, as well, but it turns out my asparagus crossed the line from edible to gelatinous about 3 days ago. Instead, we had frozen green beans. It turned out okay, as the green beans were microwavable, which means they were cooked in a dishwasher safe dish, as opposed to the asparagus, which would have dirtied three additional dishes, plus measuring spoons.

Macadamia Nut Encrusted Mahi Mahi
1/2 cup crushed macadamia nuts
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
4 mahi mahi fillets

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shallots, diced
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup pineapple, cubed
1/2 cup papaya, cubed
1/2 cup mango, cubed
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon corn starch in 1/4 cup fruit juice
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix bread crumbs and macadamia nuts. (I crushed my mac nuts in the food processor)

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.

Dip fish in egg and then in macadamia nut mixture (coat both sides) and saute in a skillet until brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove fish from skillet and place in baking dish. Set aside for about 10 minutes.

Add shallots to skillet and cook until translucent. (It took me about 20 seconds. No kidding.)

Stir in chicken broth, fruit, coconut and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer on medium-high heat for 15 minutes. At this point, put the fish in the oven for 15 minutes.

Fresh papaya is not something easily obtained in Lincoln County, MO, so I used fresh mango, but for the pineapple and papaya I used a jar of tropical fruit. I measured out 1 cup total of the tropical fruit (I think what I used had pineapple, papaya and passion fruit), as well as 1 mango. I used the juice from the canned fruit as my liquid for the cornstarch. It also adds a little sweetness to the sauce.

Mix the cornstarch into the liquid of your choice (fruit juice or water), and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer until fish is cooked through. (Test with a fork if unsure... it should all be the same shade of white.)

Place fish on a bed of rice and spoon fruit sauce on top.

Coconut Rice
2 cups water
2 cups white rice (Jasmine if you can get it - see aforementioned note about Lincoln County)
1 tablespoon butter
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon sugar

Bring water, rice, and butter to a boil over medium high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until liquid is absorbed into rice, about 15 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and sugar. Continue to cook until coconut milk is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

*Note* The sauce never quite tasted right to me in the pan. I kept thinking it needed something. It did need something. The fish. The fish WITH the sauce was divine.

Enjoy! We certainly did.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What is wrong with my spacing?

So, two posts ago, there are spaces I didn't want and in the last post, there aren't spaces I did want. Grr.

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

1 (19.5) oz box brownie mix

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 can chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, beat brownie mix, melted butter, cream cheese, and egg until well blended. The dough will be thick and sticky.

In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and peanut butter until well mixed.

Drop 1 tablespoon balls of dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. (The recipe says it should make 24 cookies, but I usually get more than that.) Press 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture into the center of the chocolate dough.

Bake at 350F for 10 - 14 minutes or until edges are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Cool at least 30 minutes on cooling rack.

Spread a thin layer of frosting over peanut butter portion of each cooled cookie.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Alert the Media... I cooked TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW!

A never ending, let's call it a challenge, in my marriage is scheduling. Neither Brad nor I work what anyone would consider a "9-5" job. Mine is closer than his though. I am required to be at school from 7:00 - 2:30, so I can run errands or make appointments in the afternoon, but in reality, I work, conservatively, about 80 hours per week when school is in session. Brad doesn't have to bring any work home, but he works from 3 am - 1 pm, Saturday - Tuesday, and frankly, that's not normal. Now, I'm hungry all of the time, but I like to eat dinner around 5:30. Unfortunately, though, I don't usually get home from work until roughly 5. And then, I have been going to water aerobics at 5, so I don't get home and changed until nearly 6:30. (If any students are reading this, I began the last sentence with "and" for rhetorical effect.) Brad goes to bed at 7, and rightfully so, does not want to eat dinner after he goes to bed, because that would be strange, and under the previously mentioned schedule, dinner won't be ready until 7:30 or 8. As a result, we eat a lot of grilled cheese. And frozen pizza. I try really hard to cook on nights that Brad doesn't have to go to bed before sunset, and yesterday and today, I actually succeeded in that effort. Yesterday for supper, we had pasta with an asiago cream sauce, salad, and bread sticks from Aldi (which are actually pretty good). Here is a photo of the salad, which contained romaine lettuce, cucumbers, provel cheese, (a local mixture of American, Swiss and Provolone cheeses... not really sure who thought that was a good idea. Brad hates it, but that's because he's from out of town) and homemade croutons. We are out of my favorite store bought dressing, Zia's, so I had Ranch, and Brad had Raspberry Vinaigrette. I know you are interested in our salad dressing choices, and that is why I share this information with you. Here is a picture of the Asiago Pasta and the Aldi breadsticks. They have the same consistency and basic flavor of crescent rolls in a tube, but overall, I would say worth the $1.84 investment.
Here is a photo of the ingredients that comprise tonight's fajitas.

... and here is a photo of the beef... right out of the skillet... see the steam!

And the final product - a tortilla sprinkled (loaded) with colby jack cheese, beef, sauteed onions, and a dollop (or two) of sour cream.

Beef Fajita Marinade

1 pound beef, thinly sliced 1/4 cup lime juice 1/3 cup water 2 tablespoons olive oil 4 cloves garlic, crushed 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper In a large resealable plastic bag, or sealable container, mix together the lime juice, water, olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, salt, and liquid smoke flavoring. Stir in cayenne and black pepper. Place meat in the marinade, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

I use cheap flat beef. I am not sure what the cut is, but it is at Costco between the brisket and the chunks of eye of round. It looks like a giant lean steak. After marinating it overnight, I saute it in a very hot skillet with a little olive oil until it is cooked throughout. I also saute some onions and green peppers (separately, because I'm allergic to green peppers, but you could do them together). Then, I wrap them up and eat them. You can add whatever other fajita like ingredients you so desire, but really, if I have melted cheese and sour cream, I am a happy girl.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

We Found the Cord! (Actually, I bought a new one...)

Sopapilla Pie

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls

3/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup honey

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Beat the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth.

Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape each piece into 9x13 inch rectangles. (I have found that it works better to just flatten two triangles together in my hands, and then piece the four smaller rectangles together in the pan/ on top of the cream cheese.)

Press one piece into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough. Stir together 3/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Dot the mixture over the top of the cheesecake.

Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown and the center doesn't jiggle when you shake the pan a bit, between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on your oven.

Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares.

There is absolutely NOTHING HEALTHY about this. It is sugar on top of fat on top of fat on top of sugar on top of fat on top of sugar. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend it every week, but it is SOOOO good. Take it to a church pot luck. Nobody cares about calories on a buffet.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Stir Fry!

We lost the cord that lets us upload pictures from our digital camera to the computer, which is very sad for us. I have been remiss in updating my new recipes because I was looking for the cord and wanted to add pictures, but then I discovered I have a much wider viewership than I thought, and if I am not the only one using my blog for recipes, I would like to share my delicious new recipes, with or without pictures.

Because I am such a good wife, (laugh here!) I made my husband some stir fry so he wouldn't have to eat chili for the fifth meal in a row.

I did not try it, but it looked good, and Brad said it was yummy.

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
3 cups broccoli florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch strips
1/4 cup sliced green onions
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon chile paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth

Trim the broccoli, and cut into bite sized pieces. I only like the tree part, so I trim broccoli really high. Then, steam it. There are several ways to do this. My favorite way to steam veggies is using the new-ish Ziploc steamer bags. You can also put the broccoli in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, cover, and cook for about 5 five minutes. If you don't own a steamer, I highly recommend the steamer bags. I DO OWN a steamer, and I still use the Ziploc steamer bags.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the chicken, green onions, and garlic until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Stir the hoisin sauce, chile paste, and soy sauce into the skillet. Season with ginger, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir in the chicken stock and simmer about 2 minutes. Mix in the steamed broccoli until coated with the sauce mixture.

Serve over rice.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year's Day

The tradition of having my family over for soup on New Year's Day is still going strong, but thankfully, my mother has not continued her tradition of getting a speeding ticket in Moscow Mills, as she did the first New Year's she came out here for soup. This year, I made 5 soups, which we all decided was OVERKILL! However, 4 of them were delicious, and while I liked the other one pretty well, my grandma kept telling me how it was not her favorite, so I think I stopped liking it because of her influence. I also made 3 breads and two desserts. No pictures, because I am lazy, but delicious recipes...

Crab and Havarti Bisque with Dill
3 tablespoons butter
3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 ribs of celery, diced
3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
4 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups of lobster stock (if, like me, you cannot find this... I think vegetable broth is the best alternative)
1 cup sherry
1 pound crab meat
8 slices, or 1/2 pound, Havarti cheese
3 teaspoons dry mustard
2 cups heavy cream
6 dashes Worcestershire sauce
6 dashes Tabasco sauce
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Saute, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, stock, and sherry. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and simmer for 35-40 more minutes.

Remove from heat. Add the cheese and mustard. Let the cheese melt into the soup. Puree soup in the pot using a hand blender or working in batches with a regular blender until smooth. Return soup to stove. Add the crab, cream, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, dill, salt and pepper, and stir thoroughly.

Makes 10-12 servings.

Country Split Pea Soup with Bacon
3 tablespoons butter
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
8 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound dried green split peas
10 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
5 dashes Tabasco sauce
12 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a 6-8 quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the split peas and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 1 hour, or until the split peas are soft and tender.

Remove from the stove. Add the sherry and Tabasco sauce. Puree the soup in the pot using a hand blender or working in batches with a regular blender until smooth. Add the bacon. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Both of these were DE-licious. I also made Beef Stew, (the recipe is already catalogued on this cite) Mushroom Soup, which I am not going to type out because it isn't as good as the others, and Potato Soup, which I can only explain how to make, but have never written down a recipe.

As far as bread, I made Parmesan garlic bread out of an Italian loaf, Corn Bread (the recipe is also already catalogued on this cite) and Beer bread.

Beer Bread
1 (12 fluid ounce can or bottle) beer
3 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons sugar

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and flour. Add beer and continue to mix. Batter will be sticky. Pour into a 9 x 5 inch greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees ) for 50 for 60 minutes. The top will be crunchy, but the insides will be soft. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.

For dessert, I made carrot cake and apple pie. The apple pie is already catalogued on this cite, but here's the carrot cake recipe. (It is divine!)

Carrot Cake

4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup apple sauce
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots

1 cup pecans and 1 cup raisins (optional)

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3-4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan or 3 eight inch round pans.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, apple sauce, pineapple, white and brown sugar and 3 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans and raisins, if you are adding them. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes for 9 x 13 inch pan or 25 minutes for 8 inch round pans, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add sugar, and beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy and of the desired sweetness and consistency.
Frost the cooled cake. For a 9x13 inch cake, spread frosting on top. For 8 inch round cakes, place one layer of the cake on a cake platter or plate. Spread 1/3 of the icing on top of the layer. Place a second layer on top of the first iced layer. Spread 1/3 of the icing on top of this layer. Place the final layer on top. Spread the remaining 1/3 of the icing on top of the final layer. Refrigerate any leftovers.