Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kicked Up Chex Mix


It seems everyone has their own recipe for Chex mix, or maybe you follow the recipe on the box. We like ours on the spicy side, here is how I make it!

The recipe is pretty standard I just add some additional spice. It makes a great New Years Eve snack and the spiciness will keep you awake!

1 cube unsalted butter or margarine
4 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons seasoned salt (We use Lawry's)
1 tsp ground celery seed
1 tsp garlic powder
2 to 3 teaspoons red pepper sauce (we use twice this amount)
3 cups Corn Chex® cereal
3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup pretzels
1 cup bite-size cheese crackers (we omitted this)
Cholula Spice Mix (as much as you like)

Heat oven to 250°F

In a large bowl, melt your butter, add in all the additional ingredients (except the Chex Mix and Pretzels) and mix well.

Add the Chex mix and Pretzels and stir stir stir until well coated (at this point you can taste for your level of spice tolerance and add more if you wish, just stir a bunch more)

Place on a non stick baking sheet

Bake uncovered 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Let cool and store in airtight container.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Salsbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy


We were scheduled to get together with our dear friends, and I was planning on making this comfort food meal. Unfortunately, hubbies School project got in the way, so we had to take a rain check. I had already purchased all the ingredients so I decided to make it the next day.

It is based on a Rachael Ray recipe, we doubled the recipe so we would have leftovers!

I served it with Mashed Potatoes Dunkin Style!

2 1/4 pounds ground beef sirloin
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend (recommended: Montreal Seasoning by McCormick
salt and pepper to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons
12 crimini mushrooms or button mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups beef stock

Combine meat, Worcestershire, onion and steak seasoning or salt and pepper. Form 4 large, oval patties, 1-inch thick.

Preheat large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and add the meat patties to a hot pan.

Cook meat 6 minutes on each side until meat is evenly caramelized on the outside and juices run clear. Remove meat and cover with loose tin foil to keep warm.

Add 1 more turn of the pan extra-virgin olive oil and butter to the pan, then the mushrooms. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and saute mushrooms until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the flour to the pan and cook 2 minutes more. Whisk in stock and thicken 1 minute.

Serve the Steak with the Mushroom Gravy!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Open Faced Smoked Turkey Sandwich


We love to smoke protein in this house, courtesy of our Traeger Smoker. We finally decided it was time to smoke a Turkey.

WOW, I must say it was the most delicious Turkey I have ever eaten, a hint of smoke and it was sooo juicy and moist. The open faced sammy was delicious as well!

4 slices white bread (the only bread for a turkey sandwich)
sliced turkey breast or dark meat
homemade or store bought cranberry sauce
leftover turkey gravy
leftover mashed potatoes

Assemble as you please, and enjoy every bit of it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twice Baked Potato's




I enjoy twice baked potatoes, but my husband isn't thrilled with the ones I make. We were watching Cooks Country and they made some which looked delicious, and the method they used, made total sense! I made them last weekend and they were a hit! Two thumbs up from the Hubster!

There are a few steps to this recipe, but it is worth it!

Large Russet Bakers (as many people as you are feeding plus one extra)
salt and pepper
1 container Boursin Cheese
1 stick butter
1/2 cup half and half (I used whole milk, worked fine)
1 large bunch of chives chopped
2 tbl chopped garlic
Diced bacon (optional but I had some so I added it in)

Scrub your potatoes and prick with a fork
Microwave them on high for 20-25 minutes, turning half way thru

Cut off the top 1/4 of the potato, set that aside

Scoop out the insides into a bowl, leaving an inch of the potato intact all the way around. Peel your extra potato and add that to the bowl as well

Brush with 2 tbl melted butter, inside and out, sprinkle with salt

Cook at 475 for 15 minutes until crispy

In the meantime mix 1/2 of your Boursin cheese and the 1/2 cup of half and half, mix them until well incorporated

Now saute your garlic in 3 tbl butter until fragrant and slightly browned but not burnt

Add the garlic and butter to the potato mixture, as well as the chopped chives, salt and pepper to taste, they need a good bit of salt.

Now mound the potato mixture into the jackets, sprinkle on extra boursin and place back into the 475 degree oven for another 10-15 minutes until bubbly!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Beer Cheese Soup Extrordinaire


I haven't made a beer cheese soup in a long time and decided it was cold enough to warrant making one. I looked up a few recipes for a general idea and decided to make mine extra special by adding bacon and some vegetables. Bacon makes everything better! I served with fresh baked bread.

It turned out to be creamy, a bit spicy and really tasty!

1 cup carrots chopped
1 cup diced celery
2 peeled and diced russet potatoes
1 yellow onion chopped
1 large container of chicken stock and one can (I used a combo of chicken and beef as that is what I had)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can diced green chili's
16 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used Tillamook)
1 12oz can beer, I used a nice amber ale
2 tsp flour
1 lb bacon, diced

Place your diced bacon into your soup pot and cook until crisp, remove and set aside

Drain most of the bacon grease, add your carrot, celery and onion and cook until the onion is translucent. Add your chicken stock, dry mustard, Tabasco, Cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, green chili's and beer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Taste for spiciness and salt and pepper, add as needed.

In the meantime sprinkle your cheese with the flour mixture and coat well.

Add your cheese, mixing until well incorporated and thickened. Depending on the thickness of the soup and your taste, you can add a roux to thicken it more. Check again for taste and add more of anything you like, i.e. Cayenne, salt, pepper, etc.

Serve sprinkled with bacon on top!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes


These pancakes were soo tasty with a hint of cinnamon and the finely diced apples inside, perfect for a cold winter morning! We had them with eggs and sausage! Delicious!

Buttermilk Pancake recipe of your choice. We've written about this before. We use a pint of buttermilk and mix in dry Krusteaz buttermilk mix to reach the desired consistency. We prefer it on the thin side. By using buttermilk instead of water (what the dry mix actually calls for) you get a fluffier and VERY tender cake. This is one of the very few items we prefer to use a mix for.

2 to 3 tsp tsp cinnamon or to taste
1 small (~6oz) apple, skinned, cored and diced into very (~1/8')small cubes (we used golden decilcious)

microwave the apples with 1 tsp of sugar mixed in for 1 minute

Add the cinnamon and the apples to your pancake mix. Cook as you normally would on a 350deg non-stick griddle or pan.

Side note on griddles. We researched and then searched for a recommended brand (on-line reviews). We found it for $50 -- it was horrible and sticky from day one. Buy a cheap one for <$20. They last just as long and have superior non-stick qualities. Keep an eye on your Macy's fliers and occasionally you'll see them for <$10.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Apple Turnovers


It was a blustery cold and snowy day and I had been wanting to make Apple Turnovers for my hubby. He is not much of a sweet eating guy, but he does love apple turnovers and strudels.

I like to add Craisins and a bit of Ginger, I think it really perks up the flavor! I had only 1 puff pastry sheet, so if you have two, double this.

2 tablespoons orange juice
2 small peeled, cored and diced apples, I used Granny Smith (as soon as you are done dicing mix them in a bowl with the lemon juice)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons dried cherries or craisins
3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top (I used the Splenda Sugar Blend which equates to about 2 tablespoons. I did use real sugar to sprinkle on the top
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground Ginger
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Add the orange juice to the bowl with the apples and lemon juice. Add the cherries/craisins, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt.
Flour a board and lightly roll each sheet of puff pastry to a 12 by 12-inch square. Cut each sheet into 4 smaller squares.

Brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and neatly place about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture on half of the square. Fold the pastry diagonally over the apple mixture and seal by pressing the edges with a fork.

Transfer to a non stick sheet pan. Brush the top with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, make 2 small slits, and bake for 20 minutes, until browned and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Enchilada Casserole




I was trying to come up with something new for dinner, and decided to make Enchiladas but put them together like a Lasagna. My husband loved it and I actually managed to make a reasonable amount for a change.

Instead of my usual 9X13 pan, I made it in a 9X9 pan! It is a quick and tasty meal!

p.s. scroll to the bottom and you can see something rare, SNOW! We never get snow in Portland!

1.5 lbs hamburger or ground chuck (I used chuck)
1/2 onion diced
3 small cans of Enchilada sauce (2 red 1 green)
package of 12 Corn Tortillas
Shredded cheese (I used a mix of Cheddar and Monterey Jack)
1/4 red bell pepper diced
1 tbl minced garlic
1 small can sliced olives
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Place your burger in a non stick pan and cook about half way thru, add in your garlic,red bell pepper, onion and spices (you can add them to taste, we like things spicy)

Mix your three cans of Enchilada sauce together in a separate bowl

When your hamburger is no longer pink, you are ready to assemble

Cut your stack of corn tortillas in half, grease your casserole

Place enough sauce to coat the bottom of your casserole, arrange the tortillas with the cut edge towards the outside of the dish, add as many as you need to cover the bottom of the dish

Add half your hamburger, then a layer of cheese and half the olives, spoon on enough sauce to cover the cheese

Add another layer of tortillas, the remaining meat, cheese, remaining olives, and enough sauce to coat the last layer.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until bubbly

Serve with Sour Cream and Cilantro!



Friday, December 12, 2008

Pecan Pie My Way


Pecan pie is one of my absolute favorite pies, however the store bought ones with the layer of brown goo and few pecans is not my idea of a Pecan Pie. I like a solid layer of pecans (toasted please) and have a special ingredient which takes it over the top! I made two, one for Thanksgiving and one for me!

Everyone who tasted this pie said it was the BEST Pecan Pie they ever tasted!

This recipe makes one pie
1 frozen Deep Dish pie shell (or you can make your own)
5 tbl unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups toasted pecans
1/2 to 3/4 of a Kahlua mini
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 eggs lightly beaten

Pre-cook your shell after putting some holes in it via a fork (for however long the package says)

Set your oven at 350 degrees after your are done with the pie shell

In a medium saucepan combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrups, and salt

Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the nuts, vanilla and Kahlua liquor.

Let sit for 5 minutes or so, you will then temper the eggs (put some of the hot liquid into the eggs and stir stir stir).

Then whisk the beaten eggs into the hot liquid until well incorporated.

Pour the filling into the pie crust (which you will have on a baking sheet)

Bake on the lower rack in the oven until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose about 40 to 45 minutes. If the edges start getting dark put aluminum foil on the edges only.
Let cool slightly and serve

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Mother In Laws Cauliflower

I had never heard of doing this to a head of Cauliflower until I met my mother-in-law, more of a mother actually, she has helped raise me since I was a wee lass of 15 years old!

It is a delicious side dish, and I made it the other day in her honor! Try it, I guarantee you will love it!




1 head of Cauliflower
Miracle Whip
Minced Onion
Grated Cheddar or whatever kind of cheese you like

Wash the head of cauliflower, remove leaves, and get as much of the core out as possible, pat dry

Spread generously with Miracle Whip, add the minced onion and cheese

Cover with wax paper until it cups under the head of cauliflower

Cook in microwave on high for 7 minutes per pound

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lemon Chicken with Pasta


We love Citrus in our family and we had several lemons to use up, so we decided to make a nice Lemon Chicken over Linguini Noodles.


It was delicious and fresh tasting from the lemon!

1 box Linguini Noodles
1 lemon, juiced (you can use the zest for extra taste and decoration, zest before juicing)
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 package of Fettuchini Sauce (we like Knorr brand)
salt and pepper to taste
nutmeg, just a shake or two
Parmesan

Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil, add a generous amount of salt.

In a non stick saucepan, add 1 tsp olive oil, and sautee the chunks of chicken until lightly browned and cooked thru. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same saucepan as you cooked the chicken, prepare the Fettuchini sauce as directed. I added a bit of white wine and some lemon juice. The sauce will be a bit thin from adding the extra liquid.

Add your Cheese and stir the sauce until it thickens up, taste for seasonings and add as needed, add your nutmeg. Add your chicken back in, along with any juices rendered.

When the sauce is ready, pour your cooked and drained pasta in, saving back a bit of pasta water to thin the sauce with if needed.

Mix the past sauce and the pasta well and serve.

Add a bit of additional Parmesan on top and lemon zest if desired

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Autumn Tapas, Cheesy Grit Style


My husband had Cheesy Grits while at school in Atlanta and I was dying to have them at home. We looked at several recipes and winged it! We had the grits for breakfast on the weekend, YUMMY!
I re-created the leftovers into cute little appetizer tapas!

2 cups water
1/2 cup Quaker or Aunt Jemima Enriched Hominy Quick Grits, uncooked*
4 oz. Pasteurized process cheese spread, cubed
Dash of garlic powder (optional)
Paprika

Bring water to a boil; slowly stir in grits.

Reduce heat; simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally.

Add cheese and garlic powder; continue cooking until cheese is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour into a greased 9X9 casserole, let set up and cut into cute shapes!

**I put a very small amount of cheese on each and used my blow torch to give them some color**

Minced Ham and Scrambled Eggs with Boursin



I had a fair amount of leftover Ham from Thanksgiving and have been looking for ways to use it up. My husband worked from home today, so I made him a special treat! With the addition of the Boursin Cheese, it took it way over the top!

1 serving
2 large eggs
2 tbl heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
minced ham
1 tsp butter
Boursin Cheese
Fresh Chives, chopped finely

Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the cream salt and pepper and half the chives, whip until well incorporated

Heat your non stick pan to medium/medium high, add the butter and let it melt, add you eggs and quickly stir them around, add the ham and remove from the heat.

Add some Boursin and continue to move the eggs around. I find the carryover cooking will finish the eggs and let them remain moist.

Add more Boursin and chives and serve.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Spinach Dip


I am a firm believer that everyone has their own way of making Spinach Dip. I like mine with extra spinach, somehow it feels healthier that way. During the holidays I sprinkle on some Craisins for a festive feel and a little bite of sour! YUM!
  • 1.5 Boxes Frozen, Chopped Spinach (thawed, squeeze the excess water out)
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream (I use fat free)
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise (I use low fat)
  • Knorr Leek Soup Mix
  • Craisins
Combine all the above ingredients.
Hollow out a Sourdough Cannonball and place the dip inside.
Cut up the leftover sourdough pieces and an additional Sourdough Baguette.

It is best served after it has sat in the refrigerator for several hours.

Beef Pho - Pho Bo

My husband and I are Pho lovers, we eat Pho at least once or twice a month.  I have always wanted to try making it at home, but it seem...