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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Beef Lo Mein


I love Beef Lo Mein at Chinese Restaurants and wondered how easy it would be to make at home, turns out pretty darn easy!  The prep work is the most time consuming, the actual cooking is pretty quick.

I found a recipe on Pinterest and hubby took over and made it for me.  The conclusion; better than any Restaurant!  I skipped the mung beans and bamboo shoots because I don't like them!  We also doubled the recipe!

Ingredients

4 oz. flank steak
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon soy sauce, plus 1 tablespoon (divided)
1 teaspoon oil, plus more for cooking
8 oz. fresh lo mein egg noodles or regular white noodles
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 cups of mung bean sprouts (we skipped this)
1 medium carrot julienned
1/2 small red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced winter bamboo shoots (we skipped this)
2/3 cup snow peas
1 scallion, julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar

Slice the beef into thin 2-3 inch strips and mix well in a bowl with corn starch, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and oil. Set aside.

If using white noodles, boil them in about 2 quarts of water, rinse in cold water and drain. If using lo mein egg noodles, you can skip this step. If you can't get lo mein or other fresh noodles at your Asian grocer, fresh or dried linguini pasta will do also.

Cut your veggies and have them all ready for cooking. Heat the wok until smoking slightly and add a couple tablespoons oil to coat the wok and sear the beef. Take the beef out of the pan and set aside.

Add the garlic and all the vegetables to the pan except the dark green parts of the scallion and the snow peas. Stir-fry on high heat for a minute and add the wine in a circle around the perimeter of the wok.


Add the noodles and beef back to the pan and mix well from the bottom up for about 30 seconds. Then cover the wok for one minute. Remove cover and add the remaining tablespoon of regular soy sauce, the dark soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar, bean sprouts and snow peas.

Mix well and stir-fry for another minute, or until any remaining liquid has evaporated. Plate and serve!

I love our cast iron WOK, it gets hot and holds the heat well.  It is Coleman brand!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cherry Sour Cream Pound Cake



It was Father's Day and I had a pint of fresh Oregon Red Cherries and decided to make a Pound Cake. I found a recipe for Sour Cream Pound Cake and added my Cherries. 

Pitting the Cherries takes time and is a pain in the rear but worth it.  This turned out to be a delicious cake.  My Husband who is not a sweet eater, loved it!

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups of pitted cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.

Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated.

Sift the baking soda and flour together. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating in each egg 1 at a time.

Add vanilla and cherries, fold in

Pour the mixture into a greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  (This cake took almost 90 minutes to cook, probably because of the added moisture from the Cherries)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shrimp and Grits

I found Wild Shrimp on sale at my local New Seasons and decided to make Shrimp and Grits.  It has been quite some time since I made it. I paired it with sauteed Rainbow Chard (in butter and tons of garlic, topped with Balsamic Vinegar).

It was a memorable meal, YUM!



1 pound of Shrimp (Wild Preferred) peeled/de-veined
2 Tbl of Butter
3 cloves of garlic chopped finely
1 slice of bacon diced

4 cups water
Salt and pepper
1 cup stone-ground grits
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions
Bring water to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Add grits and cook until water is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese.

Rinse shrimp and pat dry. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; drain. In grease, add garlic and cook for several minutes, add shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink. 

Spoon grits into a serving bowl. Add shrimp on top. Serve immediately.





Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken (I poached 2 breasts)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 10 soft taco sized flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
CILANTRO LIME CREAM
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup green taco sauce (mild)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, lime juice, honey, chili powder, and garlic and mix to coat.
  3. Lay out your tortillas, and divide chicken evenly on the center of each tortilla. Top each one with cheese.
  4. Roll each tortilla tightly, leaving the ends open, and place them on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray or olive oil.
  5. Spray the tops of the taquitos and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, then serve with Cilantro Lime Cream.
CILANTRO LIME CREAM
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and pulse until smooth.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ham, Egg and Cheese Strata


I made a large Strata a few years ago when my brother was in town and it was well loved by everyone. I decided it was time I gave it another whirl. It is easy and I am letting it sit overnight and then I will just pop it in the oven tomorrow, pair with some fresh fruit and I am done!

Super easy breakfast if you are having friends over or even for Christmas Morning!

You can mix and match the meats and cheeses to your liking and to make it even more healthful you can use fake egg product.

1 loaf french bread
12 eggs
1/2 cup half and half, (or you can use 2.5 cups whole milk and skip the half and half)
2 cups whole milk
1 ham steak cubed
1 Jalapeno, diced small (optional)
3 cups Shredded cheese of your choice I used a cheddar jack mixture
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp dried or fresh chives
1 red bell pepper cubed
bunch of green onions chopped

You will need a 9X13 pan, greased and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

cut the bread into thick slices and butter each slice, then cube, place into greased pan, continue until the bottom of the 9X13 baking dish is completely covered and then some

Sprinkle your ham, onions, red bell pepper over the bread

Sprinkle on a half of your cheese

In a bowl, break your 12 eggs and add your milk and heavy cream and spices and beat until well incorporated. Pour over the bread mixture it should come to the top edge of the bread/ham/cheese.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until your knife comes out clean, place the remaining cheese on and remove from oven. Let sit for 5 minutes or so and the cheese will melt and the strata will firm up.

(or do as I did and after combined leave in the fridge overnight and cook at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or a knife comes out clean)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Popovers


I am a fiend for Popovers and my husband who is my weekend Chef/Slave makes super gourmet breakfasts for me on the weekends.

He finally broke down and purchased a Popover Pan, what a difference it makes, they are huge and really puff up.  We used to use a cupcake pan, but it is worth the money to get a Popover Pan even though we don't normally buy single use kitchen tools!

Ingredients

3 tablespoons melted butter, divided (hubby used melted Coconut Oil)
2 eggs
1 cup milk, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave (should be lukewarm to warm)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
(We like to fill them with fresh Strawberries or Homemade Strawberry jam!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a pastry brush, coat 8 muffin cups with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter (we used melted Coconut Oil) and put the tin in the oven for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the eggs in a blender until light yellow. (we just used a bowl and whipped them very well)

Add the warmed milk and blend. Add the flour, salt and remaining melted butter (we used Coconut Oil) and blend until smooth.

Pour the batter into the warmed muffin tin and return it to the oven to bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Note: I found 35 minutes was too long and they were a little dark, next time we will do 30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Milk Chocolate, Heath Bar Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting


I have a dear friend and I make him a birthday cake for his birthday every year. Each year I try to outdo the previous year.  For his 2014 cake, I decided it would be 4 layers, and  a Golf themed cake.  He is an avid golfer.  This particular cake was made with Milk Chocolate Cake Mix, 9 Heath Bars, nearly a jar of Caramel and tons of Whipped Cream Frosting.

I start with Boxed Cake Mix, and I don't care what anyone says, it is pretty hard to taste the difference.  My Aunt made hundreds of wedding cakes and used a box mix on every one of them. Instead of the water I use Coffee, it amps up the Chocolate flavor.

If you want your cakes to be nice and flat and not dome up, you need to do two things, cook it at 325 degrees or less and cook it longer.  Also, you need some Bake Even Strips, you wet them and put them around the cake pans and the moisture in the strips helps keep your pan cooler and it will cook more evenly!

I baked the cakes the day before assembling and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight

Ingredients for a 4 layer cake

2 Boxes Milk Chocolate Cake Mix
9 Heath Bars crushed
1 quart Heavy Whipping Cream
1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream

Notes: 

1. Golf accessories were bought at a craft store
2. I also purchased a special tip for my piping bag that makes grass
3. You will need Whipped Cream Stabilizer which you can buy at a cake or craft store

Make your cakes the day before, I used 2 nine inch cake pans.

First thing you need to do is carefully cut each cake in half, they have a special tool or you can use a large bread knife.

Get your base on the presentation platter or plate.  You may need to trim a bit off the tops to make them flat

Make your frosting, use a very cold bowl and beaters.  Read the instructions on the Whipped Cream Stabilizer to find out how much of that and how much sugar to use.  It calls for Powdered Sugar but I used regular and it worked just fine.

In between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd layers, I used frosting and sprinkled on the crushed Heath Bars.

Prior to frosting the 3rd layer, use a chop stick and place holes in the cake all the way to the bottom, then gently drizzle the caramel into those holes, they will fill right up, keep drizzling until they are full.

Place your layer of icing on top of the holes and place the top or 4th layer.

Frost the entire cake as you wish.

I saved back some frosting which I mixed with green gel food color to make the grass and a star tip for the edge around the bottom.



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cauliflower Rice



My husband is a carb hater, he orders Hamburgers with no bun on a salad, weird to me but I am a lover of carbs, no sweet tooth here,  just a love of cheese and carbs of all kinds.

To say the least I was skeptical of him making "Cauliflower Rice", which did not sound good at all.  I have to say it turned out delicious it reminded me of Couscous with Olive Oil and Garlic.  So delicious, I am definitely up for that again!

1/2 to 3/4 of a head of Cauliflower, leaves and stems removed
1 tbs oil, (we used Avocado)
1 tbs butter
1-2 cloves garlic diced small
1/4 onion diced small
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place your pieces of Cauliflower into a food processor and process till it looks about the size of grains of rice.

Place your oil and butter into a sauce pan and saute those onions and garlic till translucent.

Add the Better Than Bouillon salt and pepper and your Cauliflower Rice to the pan ans saute until slightly toasty looking and fragrant.

Enough to serve 2-3 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Samoas (Girl Scout Cookie)


I had a package of Samoas (Girl Scout Cookies) on my counter and I had been trying to think of a way to use them up in a creative way.  I thought about my Sister In Law (Mary's) Peanut Butter Cheesecake which I adore and thought they would go well together.

I did not want a big hassle so I threw together some ingredients I had in the fridge and pantry and got to it.  It turned out amazingly well, the dog got to lick the bowl and she actually growled at me when I took the bowl away which has NEVER happened before, that's how much she loved it.  My hubby was pretty smitten as well!

1 package cream cheese
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar depending on your tastes
1/2 cup whipping cream (I used fat free half and half)
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Peanut Butter or a little less
6 to 8 Samoas finely chopped or ran thru a food processor, keep 1/3 aside for the top

Mix everything except the chopped Samoas together with a mixer till fluffy and combined, fold in chopped Samoas,

Pour into 6 Ramekins

Refrigerate for 30 minutes and top with remaining Samoa crumbs

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

El Pollo Chicken (The Crazy Chicken)



One of my husbands friends makes this delicious chicken and was kind enough to share the recipe with us so we could try it.  It is quite tasty and will be a fantastic addition to our diner rotation.

We let the chicken marinade for 24 hours and cooked it low and slow on the BBQ.  We used Chicken Thighs as suggested and it was delicious!

Ingredients:

6 ounces pineapple juice 
2 tablespoons lime juice 
1 tablespoon white vinegar 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled 
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper 
1/4 teaspoon mild chili pepper, remove stem and seeds from chiles, finely minced (Anaheim or California) 
8 drops yellow food coloring (but accurate) (optional) 
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
4 lbs frying chicken, cut up (we used thighs)
Optional:  1/8 teaspoon cumin 
Note: Some recipes call for juice from 1 orange & 1/2 lemon

After Marinade

Sprinkle with sea salt, Mexican Chile powder or paprika  before grilling – adds color & some flavor

Directions:

1. Marinate chicken in zip-lock bag over-night.

2. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade to baste while cooking, making sure the chicken cooks on both sides minutes AFTER basting the final time to avoid food poisoning.  

3. Grill over indirect heat, turning 4 times, 12 minutes each time.  Must reach 165 degree internal temperature.  Slow and indirect is best, but avoid over cooking and drying out meat.  

Serve with your favorite tortillas, rice, borracho beans and salsa.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Spanakopita Pie

Hubby bought his lunch at work (rarely happens) and they happened to have Greek Food that day, he brought home a square of the Chef's Spanakopita, which was done in a layered pie style instead of the triangles Hubby normally makes.

It was quite good and he asked the Chef for the recipe.  He happily complied and we tweaked it to our tastes and it is quite delicious!  The two pounds of Spinach sounds like a lot and it is a huge amount of Spinach.  It cooks down eventually but you cannot get it all in one pan.  Hubby microwaved it for 2 minutes and it cooked down enough to fit in our largest sautee pan.



1 large yellow or white onion
4-6 cloves of fresh garlic finely minced
2T fresh dill chopped finely
2T fresh basil chopped finely
2T fresh oregano chopped finely
2lb of fresh baby spinach (I know it sounds like a lot, but it will cook down)
½lb of Greek feta cheese
3 eggs beaten
fresh lemon juice to taste
2T olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of Kalamata Olives, pitted
Salt and pepper to taste, *be careful when adding salt, the feta can be quite salty on its own.


Pre heat oven to 375 *

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan, and sauté the onions at medium high heat till translucent about 4 minutes.

Next add garlic, and the Dill, Basil, Oregano and Olives, stir frequently for a minute, and add spinach. Allow spinach to wilt and cook stirring occasionally till the liquid has evaporated about 8-10 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool.

Once the spinach is cool enough to handle, place on a cutting board and run a knife through it a few times (or use kitchen shears which is what I did)

Put in into a bowl and add the Eggs and crumbled Feta Cheese, mix well, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.


Take a 12” baking dish, coat it generously with melted butter using a pastry brush, and begin layering the phyllo into the pan one sheet at a time, making sure to butter each sheet. Use about half of the phyllo to form the bottom layer.

Spread the spinach mixture evenly throughout the bottom of the pan.

Use the rest of the phyllo sheets to finish the top layer and bake in the middle rack for about 45 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Allow spanakopita to cool slightly before cutting it, it can also be enjoyed room temperature.

Soba and Sesame Noodles with Veggies Cheater Style


I love Soba Noodles and Sesame Chicken, but I was feeling kind of lazy so I decided to do it the cheater way and buy the Sesame Noodles from New Seasons, marinate my own chicken and saute some Zuchinni to give a bonus of veggies.

1 package pre-made Sesame Noodles (New Seasons normally has them or you can make your own). Here is a nice recipe
2 Zuchinni sliced in half then sliced into coins
1 bunch of green onions, sliced thinly
2 chicken breasts

Combine the following ingredients;
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced (reserve remaining for topping the meal)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Add your chicken breasts and marinate for 4 hours to overnight, the longer you marinate the more flavorful the meat will be.

Remove meat from marinade, pat dry and grill on your BBQ or a grill pan till done, let rest and cut into bite sized chunks.

While your breasts are resting, quickly saute the Zucchini in a non stick pan with a little oil, don't overcook you want them to still have some bite.

Mix the pre-made noodles, chicken chunks and zucchini together, top with sesame seeds and sliced scallions.

If the mixture is a bit dry, mix some peanut butter with water and/or hoisin sauce until hot and very liquid and pour into your mixture.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beef Stock/Broth


My husband smoked a gorgeous Prime Rib last weekend, and I saved the bones to make stock.  I have never actually made Beef Stock before so I checked out the Interwebs and found a recipe by Emeril Lagasse that looked like a good start. I changed it a bit to suit my needs and it is indeed the best tasting Beef Brother I have ever sampled!

I cannot wait to make some Beef and Barley Soup when the weather cools down.

Ingredients

Beef bones, sawed into 2-inch pieces
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups red wine
20 peppercorns
5 garlic cloves, peeled
5 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
Water

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the bones on a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour (I used my Cast Iron Skillet

Remove from the oven and brush with the tomato paste. Lay the vegetables over the bones. Return to the oven and roast for 30 minutes.

Place the pan on the stove and deglaze with the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned particles. Put this mixture in a large stock pot.

Add the peppercorns, garlic, and herbs. Season with salt. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 8 hours up to overnight.

Strain the liquid and discard bones, place in a large bowl, refrigerate overnight.

The next day skim off any fat that has risen to the surface. .

Use immediately or freeze for later use.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Breakfast Pigs in a Blanket (Sausage in Crepes)


 
I was watching one of my favorite Food Network Shows, The Sandwich King, and he made this recipe.  I immediately knew I would ask my husband to make it for me the following weekend.  I cook during the week and hubby is my weekend Chef.  I love Pigs In a Blanket and this looked delicious!

I used Chicken Breakfast Sausage to make it a bit healthier.  It is served with an Apple, Blueberry Chutney which hubby made with his own spin.  It was very tasty and will be on our weekend breakfast rotation!

For the Crepes

3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons melted butter
1 large pinch salt

Breakfast Sausages of your choice
Mascarpone Cheese
2 Apples, we used Honeycrisp
Chutney
4 TBL Butter
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
1/4 cup water
3 TBL Sugar
2 cups diced Apples
handful of Blueberries
2 TBL Orange Juice
Cook the above ingredients till softened

For the crepe: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth. Add the flour in parts, then slowly add the milk, sugar, melted butter and salt. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the batter to a 12-inch nonstick skillet and cook crepe on one side for 2 to 3 minutes before flipping. Repeat for the remaining batter.

For the sausage: Heat an oiled cast-iron pan over medium heat and brown the sausage on all sides until cooked through, about 8 minutes, then remove and reserve. 

For the sandwich build: Lay out the warm crepes and place a sausage in the center, add a dollop of Mascarpone on top and roll like a pig in a blanket. Place some apple compote on top.



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Kung Pao Chicken Redux

Our quest for the best Kung Pao Chicken continues, my husband on occasion makes it. Each time he tweaks it a  bit to try to find the Nirvana we are looking for.  This was close, the fried Chili's make all the difference.




1.25 -1.5 pounds chicken (we used 1/2 boneless skinless breast portions and 1/2 boneless skinless thighs, rinse and remove large fat pieces) Cube into about 1/2" squares
2 teaspoons corn starch
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons Shao Xing (if you cant find Shao Xing ask for Shao Sing it's cooking rice wine -- same product)
3 tablespoons peanut oil
10 dried red chilies (whole)
5 dried red chilies coarsely chopped
5 green onions (sliced)
1/3 white onion diced largely
2 tablespoons garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoons ginger (1 tsp grated, one chopped finely)
2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoon light soy sauce
5 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil (the dark stuff)
3 tablespoon chicken stock
3 tablespoons Oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 generous handful roasted peanuts 
Mix the chicken, cornstarch, water, soy sauce, and rice wine in a plastic bag and let marinate for 10-20 minutes

Heat the oil in a pan until hot, then ad the red chilies and sichuan peppercorns and fry until fragrant, about a minute -- they will smoke and blacken, turn often, watch carefully and remove the peppers from the oil immediately once it looks like they start to burn (if you eat these, and I DO, they have a WONDERFUL peanutty flavor)

Let the oil get back to near smoking hot, add the chicken and saute for a minute or so per side, turning often to get a good sear

Add the white part of the green onions, the white onion, garlic and ginger.

Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chicken stock, oyster sauce, sugar and corn starch and cook until the chicken is cooked and the sauce thickens, a couple of minutes.

Serve with rice, garnished with the peanuts and the green part of the green onions.