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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.



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Homemade Toffee with Chocolate, Almonds and Sea Salt


I have been into making candy this holiday season. I made it last year as well but this year I feel like I really know what I am doing.  The recipe I follow was so vague, I decided to make it step by step with photos so you can easily follow the directions and not be left wondering like I was.

I made mine two different ways, the 1st time I put half the crushed almonds in the mixture, did the chocolate then sprinkled the remaining nuts on top.  The second time I put all the crushed almonds in the mixture, did dark chocolate, then added sea salt on top.  Both were excellent.

You don't really need a candy thermometer either, you can use an instant read and just check every few minutes or wing it and use your judgement and call it good when it turns a nice nutty brown.

2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 package (11-1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips or dark chocolate
1 cup finely chopped almonds, toasted (I used Smokehouse Almonds)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
Sea Salt (optional)

Directions:

1. Line the bottom and sides of a 15-in. x 10 in. x 1-in. pan with foil, Silpat or use a non stick pan.

2. In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add the sugar, water, Vanilla and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 290° (soft-crack stage).  It will look like this at the beginning.  The entire process will take about 12-15 minutes.


It will turn whiteish in color and bubble, stir occasionally and test the temperature if you wish.


As it gets closer to the 295 degrees, it will start turning brownish


Be sure and have your nuts at the ready, this consistency is about right, before you take it off the heat, add your nuts and stir, stir, stir till they are well incorporated.  Optionally you can put in half and then save the rest for the top of the chocolate.



3. Pour into prepared pan. Cool for 4 minutes



Sprinkle with chocolate chips; let stand for 3 minutes. Spread melted chocolate evenly over candy.  It may act like it is not going to spread, but keep spreading it around and it will continue to melt naturally.


Sprinkle with almonds; (either use the other half if you chose not to mix it all in or you can use Sea Salt which is what I did on the below batch).  (press down lightly). Cool until chocolate is firm. Break into bite-size pieces. Store in airtight containers.  I use Ziplock bags.


Final Product, two different kinds of Toffee. One with Smokehouse Almonds, Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt, the other with Smokehouse Almonds, Milk Chocolate, topped with more Smokehouse Almonds.






Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Garlicky and Buttery Shrimp



I scored some Wild Shrimp at New Seasons the other day and was looking for a recipe which baked the Shrimp.  I knew I wanted to use Lemon and lots of Garlic.  I ended up using this recipe from the Pioneer Woman.  It was OK but next time I want to really punch up the flavor of the Lemon, so I will add some zest to the butter.

  • 1 pounds Raw Shrimp, Deveined, and peeled
  • 1 sticks Cold Unsalted Butter Cut Into Pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Peeled
  • 1/8 cup Fresh Parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 whole Lemon, Juiced
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse frozen shrimp to separate, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.

In the bowl of a food processor, add cold butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, parsley, and red pepper. Pulse until combined. Sprinkle cold butter crumbles over the shrimp.

Bake until shrimp is opaque and butter is hot and bubbly.

Serve with hot crusty bread. Peel and eat the shrimp, then dip the bread into the butter in the bottom of the pan.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower



I love roasting vegetables and I had not done Cauliflower for a long time.  I had a head in my fridge and decided to look up some recipes for roasting them.  I found one on All Recipes and decided to change it up a bit.  I turned out quite well, next time I will forgo the garlic, it burned and stayed on the pan.  The end result was nutty and delicious.

 3 tablespoons olive oil
 1 large head cauliflower, separated into florets
 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 salt and black pepper to taste
 Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp onion powder
Scant bit of red pepper flakes

I actually put all the ingredients (except the lemon and Parmesan) into a Ziplock and let it sit overnight. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees 

Grease a large casserole dish or sheet pan

Pour Cauliflower into the prepared casserole dish, and season with salt and pepper to taste

Bake for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through 

Top with Parmesan cheese, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown

Squeeze the lemon on top of the roasted Cauliflower and serve

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chicken Fried Steak


It is no secret I love Chicken Fried Steak, every breakfast place we go, I try it and I am nearly ALWAYS disappointed.  I got a wild thought and bought some cube steaks and my Husband who is the very talented weekend breakfast chef at our house, said he would make it for me.

We checked out a few recipes online and this one looked promising.  It was soo tasty!  Instead of making the gravy with the drippings, we used Southeastern Mills Old Fashioned Peppered Gravy Mix (much less fat and calories)

Two key things we learned, if you buy cube steaks you need to pound them a bit thinner and coating the steak and letting it sit about 10 minutes prior to frying really helps the coating stick.

4 quarter-pound cube steaks (pre-tenderized) or round steaks
A sprinkling of salt for pre-salting the meat
2 cups of flour for breading
2 teaspoons Kosher salt for breading
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
Canola oil, rice bran oil, or other high smoke point oil or fat for frying

1 If you are using round steak instead of the pre-tenderized cube steak, you will need to pound the steaks thin or they will be way too chewy. (Already tenderized cube steaks can also use some meat mallet attention to get more thin.) Place each steak between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, rubber mallet, rolling pin, or empty wine bottle, beat the steak until it is very thin, less than 1/4-inch. As you beat the steak, you will want to turn over often, and spread out the plastic wrap which tends to wrinkle as you work.

2 Sprinkle a little salt over the meat. Preheat the oven to 170°F.  In the oven put a wire rack over a baking sheet. This will keep the finished steaks warm until you have all 4 cooked

3 Prepare two wide, shallow dishes such as a Pyrex casserole dish. In the first  whisk together the eggs and milk. In the second, whisk together the flour, salt, cayenne, and garlic powder. Working one at a time, dredge a steak into the flour. Using the heel of your hand, press the flour into both sides of the steak. Lift up the steak, shake off the excess flour and dip the steak into the egg wash, coating it on both sides.  Lift the steak out of the egg wash, shake off the excess egg wash, and then dredge the steak again in the flour. Again, press the flour into the steak on both sides. Set aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining steaks.

4 Pour enough oil in a large frying to cover the bottom by 1/4-inch. Heat the oil to 350°F or when you drop a little flour into the oil it sizzles. If the oil doesn't sizzle it isn't ready, if it burns, the oil is too hot, reduce the heat. Working one at a time, lay a flour-egg-coated steak into the hot oil. Gently shake the pan a little to wash a little hot oil on the top of the steak. Or you can use a metal spoon to spoon some of the oil over the steak. This sets the coating. Fry until you see the edges of the steak turn golden brown, about two minutes. Carefully turn the steak over in the pan, and fry for two more minutes. Once both sides of the steak are golden brown, tip the steak up with a metal spatula to drain the excess oil. Remove it from the pan and place if on the wire rack in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining steaks.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread

My Sister and fellow Food Blogger, Mary Beth gave me this recipe and I was eager to try it!

I finally remembered to buy Flaky Biscuits and gave it a whirl last night, goodness is it tasty and easy!

 It would be a great add to a Holiday Dinner, no changes necessary except perhaps add some herbs such as Chives, Parsley or an Italian Blend.




1 Can Flaky Grands
1/2 Stick Butter
3 Cloves Minced Garlic
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan Cheese
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the cold butter in a bunt pan and let melt in the oven. While the butter melts quarter the grands and place into a bowl. Sprinkle on the garlic and Parmesan  cheese toss with the grands, when the butter has melted pull out the pan.

Put the grands into the prepared pan then sprinkle over any reaming garlic and cheese in the bowl over the grands. 

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Turn out onto a serving plate.




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Potato and Leek Soup


If you know me, you know I love to make soup, I love the process of making the broth from scratch and hand crafting soup.  My Mother In Law who has Celiacs Disease cannot eat Wheat, so I enjoy making soup she can consume.  I try to make her soup every two weeks or so, and this time I decided to try something a bit lighter.

I started with Alton Brown's recipe and tweaked it quite a bit actually.  It was smooth and delicious.  My husband likes more of  a Thick Soup or in the words of Rachael Ray, Stoup!  He thought it was good but needed more substance.  Mom and I loved it just as it was.



  • 1 pound leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed, approximately 4 to 5 medium
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Heavy pinch kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 14 ounces, approximately 3 to 4 Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced small
  •  2-3 quarts chicken broth, homemade if possible
  • 1 fat free half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  • 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese

    Slice the leeks.

    In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Add the potatoes and the broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.

    Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the half and half , white pepper and cheese. (I broke my immersion blender, so I ladled it into my Blend Tec blender and pureed it, be very careful doing it that way)

    Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, or chill and serve cold.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    John's Special Hot Cereal


    I was never a fan of Hot Cereal for breakfast, that is until my Husband started making it for me after we were married.  I love his version of hot cereal it is full of yummies and so good for you!

    Here is how he makes it so delicious!  I think part of why it is so good is he uses Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain Cereal.

    1/4 cup Udi's Cranberry Granola (or any kind would work)
    3 1/4 water
    1/4 cup raisins
    1/4 cup blueberries fresh or frozen
    1/8 cup dried strawberry slices (you can omit)
    pinch of salt
    butter and brown sugar for topping the cereal

    Make the cereal according to the package directions, adding in all ingredients, cook for suggested time.  If you are using fresh blueberries save them back and put them in right at the end of the cooking time.