Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
artichoke dip, brown sugar balsamic ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, honey rolls, raspberry cheesecake
rosemary sriracha chicken, skillet corn
spring salmon, salad
penne alla vecchia bettola
crab imperial, broccoli
French bread pizzas
pork Florentine, mom's rosemary roasted potatoes

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Enchiladas and Mexican Rice

I am making enchiladas for my Bunco group tomorrow night, but made enough for tonight's dinner as well. The recipe is really flavorful and pretty easy to prepare, it's always great when you can make things in advance. Everything for tomorrow night is ready, even the three cups worth of lime juice for the margaritas. Thank goodness I have a juicer! I also made homemade salsa, the recipe is supposed to mock Pappasito's, but it isn't quite it. I will post that tomorrow.






Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Cream Sauce

3 c. chopped cooked chicken
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 (8oz) container sour cream
1 c. mont. jack cheese, shredded
1 onion, chopped
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
24 (6 in.) corn tortillas
1 c. colby jack, shredded
sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 2 13x9x2 baking dishes. In a large bowl, combine chicken and next 8 ingredients. Microwave tortillas for 45 seconds in batches of 8. Spoon 2 tbsps of mixture down the center of each tortilla, fold around filling and place, seam side down, in prepared baking dishes.

Spoon Tomatillo Cream Sauce evenly over enchiladas. Sprinkly with shredded cheese. Bake 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with sliced green onions.

Tomatillo Cream Sauce

1 (28oz) can tomatillos, drained
1 (14.5oz) can chicken broth
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 tsps cumin
2 tsps chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. heavy whipping cream

In a large skillet, combine tomatillos, broth, chilies, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend mixture until smooth (I just leave it on the stove and use my immersion blender). Stir in cream and cook 2 minutes on low to thicken.

Mexican Rice

1 cup rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/3 cup carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup tomato sauce

Prepare rice with 2 cups water per package directions. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and carrots, saute until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add corn and peas, saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and tomato sauce to pan, stir to combine. Serve.
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Monday, March 30, 2009

Tres Leches

Tres Leches is C's favorite dessert. I don't quite get the appeal, it is essentially soggy cake, but he seems to love it. The key to getting it extra soggy is to poke a bunch of holes in the cake with a skewer while the cake is still warm, then pour the three milks over top. C also says it gets better the longer it sits, more sogginess I guess.









Tres Leches Cake

6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk topping:
1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

Frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually with the mixer running and peak to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, 30 minutes.

To make the milk topping: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend on high speed. Whisking works as well and doesn't dirty your blender

Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, prick the cake with a skewer several times and pour the cream mixture over it. Let sit and cool to room temperature.

Whip the cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Top the cake with the whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Brunch + Ice Cream Cake


A week ago I made an ice cream cake for dinner with Neon. Neon had wanted ice cream cake for her 30th birthday dinner, but had a hard time finding a restaurant to serve it. Neon wasn't able to make dinner that night, so I had to save it for today. I had some friends over for brunch, serving baked eggs with artichokes and sweet potato, carrot and potato pancakes. You cannot ever go wrong with fried potato!

I baked the eggs for 10 minutes and they were still soft for some, so I might increase the time to 12 to 15 minutes.

No pics of the ice cream cake, but it was super easy. I crushed a sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies, layered that at the bottom of a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap. I coveredthe crushed cookies with a layer of chocolate syrup and then scooped softened ice cream over the top. I sprinkled the top of the cake with crushed Godiva peppermints. Easy! And it freezes at least two weeks in advance~

Baked Eggs with Artichoke and Parmesan

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
8 canned artichoke heart quarters, drained well, patted dry
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Rub butter onto bottom and sides of two 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups, dividing equally. Sprinkle with herbs, dividing equally. Place 4 artichoke pieces in each dish. Crack 1 egg into each dish, being careful not to break yolk. Sprinkle eggs with salt, pepper, and cheese. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake until eggs are softly set and cheese is golden, about 9 minutes. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato, Potato and Carrot Pancakes

1 lb potatoes (one sweet and two russet)
3 carrots
2 tbsp minced green onion tops
1 tbsp flour
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Peel potatoes and carrots. Shred potatoes and carrots in the food processor.Wrap shredded potatoes and carrots in several thicknesses of paper towels and squeeze to drain moisture. Combine all ingredients except oil and mix well. Heat oil in a lrge skillet over medium heat. Drop potato mixture into skillet by spoonfuls and flatten to form thin pancakes. Cook until browned on bottom (about 5 minutes), turn and cook other side until tender (about 5 more minutes). Cook in two batches if necessary (allowed for 2 batches in cooking time above).

Serve immediately while hot. Makes about 12 pancakes.
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Pork Roast with Root Vegetables

One of my first ever dinner parties was just with a few people and I made pork roast with root vegetables. The recipe called for cardamom in the rub and I remember being FLOORed at the cost of it. The recipe was so-so, but for the price of the cardamom and the effort with the mortart and pestle to make the rub, it wasn't quite worth it. I have never made it since.

I do often make a much simpler version nowadays. I used to always sear off the roast before cooking it, but I recently read in Gourmet that searing the meat doesn't really seal in more juices that not searing, so I skip the step usually. This recipe also works well in the crockpot, adding beef or chicken stock or white wine.

Pork Roast with Root Vegetables

1-2 pound pork roast
1 sweet potato, cut into 2" pieces
4-8 new potatoes, cut into 2" pieces
4-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place all the vegetables in a dutch oven, toss with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Place a bay leaf in the center. Rub the roast with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on top of the vegetables. Roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until pork reach 160 degrees. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing, keep the vegetables warm in the oven.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spinach Fettucine Alfredo

I still have yet to master the perfect Alfredo sauce. I gave it another attempt tonight, it was tasty, but not as thick and creamy as I would prefer it to be. If anyone has any tips, I would love to hear them! The spinach worked very nicely in the pasta, my only issue was that it remained in clumps when I tried to incorporate it all together. I served two grilled chicken breasts along with the pasta. I also made some garlic bread, C picked off the garlic and whined for some garlic salt...sigh.






Spinach Fettucine Alfredo

12 ounces fettucine
10 ounces frozen spinach
1 stick of butter
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup parmesan, plus more for sprinkling

Cook fettuccine in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. Cook spinach in 1/2 cup boiling water, drain.

Meanwhile, bring cream and butter to a simmer in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, adding 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add fettuccine, spinach, 1/4 cup reserved water, and cheese to sauce and toss. Add more cooking water if necessary.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Faux Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Parmesan Asparagus

I love fried chicken. Love it. I grew up on fried chicken made with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, I know it is strange, but it is so yummy to me. These are the same breadcrumbs that make Pork Things so fantastic. I hate the way fried chicken makes the house smell. That greasy smell lingers for days and it is a total pain to deal with all that oil. For faux fried chicken, I make it Shake n Bake style.

Asparagus was 99 cents a pound at the grocery today, so that was the side item of choice. Later in the week I am making Alfredo sauce, so I had some parmesan to sprinkle on top. It was tasty.

The mashed potatoes are standard: warm the cream, add some butter, mash with a hand masher. C like the skins on and a more rustic mashed potato, I prefer whipped, but his choice won out tonight because I didn't feel like peeling potatoes.

Faux Fried Chicken


6 chicken thighs (any piece will do)
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375. Trim the fat and skins off the chicken pieces. Toss the breadcrumbs and butter in a big Ziploc bag. Add in the chicken pieces and shake to coat. Place the chicken in a greased 11x13 pan. Spoon extra breadcrumbs onto the chicken pieces, reserving 3 tablespoons. Bake for 45 minutes, turning half way through and spooning the remaining breadcrumbs on top.

Parmesan Asparagus

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt
pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the asparagus and olive oil in a ziploc bag to coat. Spread over a roasting pan in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender (the time will vary depending on the thickness of your asparagus. After the asparagus are removed from the oven, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pepper Steak


I have never made this before, but I was craving something over rice and the beef was on sale at Kroger....so I tried it. I really liked it, C was not as much of a fan. The only tomatoes he will eat are from a can of Rotel mixed with queso, he deubbed it as "too tomato-y".

I might try it again with just red and green peppers, maybe some onions.






Pepper Steak

1 pound beef round or lean chuck, excess fat trimmed
1/4 cup soy sauce, reduced sodium
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup water
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained

Cut beef across the grain into thin strips, about 1/8-inch thick. In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger. Add beef. Toss and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok. Add beef and cook, stirring constantly, over high heat until browned. Check meat for tenderness. If meat is still tough, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes longer over low heat. Turn heat up and add vegetables. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but still crisp, about 10 minutes.

Mix cornstarch with water; add to skillet. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened. Add tomatoes and heat through.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Slow baked salmon, truffle mashed potatoes, French green beans

I had the most amazing wedding menu:

Butternut squash ravioli, black trumpet mushrooms, sage brown butter

Sweet pea soup, vegetables, croutons

Steamed shrimp salad, avocado, mushroom, tomato-champagne vinaigrette

Slow baked salmon, truffle mashed potatoes, French green beans

Grilled New York strip steak, gingered mushroom, soy caramel sauce

Wedding Cake

All dishes (minus the cake) were Jean-Georges' creations and everything was amazing. I recently found many of his recipes online, including the salmon. The original dish that I enjoyed at the long gone Bank had brussel sprouts instead. I decided to recreate it for a friend for dinner this evening. Only no fresh truffles here, I had to sub in truffle oil. The first picture is from my wedding, the second is from this evening. I have no clue how he got the emulsion so thick.

Slow Baked Salmon with Truffled Mashed Potatoes
Executive Chef Jean George Vongerichten, Jo Jo and Vong, Manhattan

Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
2 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
3 tbls. Butter
3/4 cup Milk (I used half and half)
1/2 lb. Truffle (chopped) (I used truffle oil)

Method: Boil the potatoes in salted water to cover, until soft. Remove, peel and pass through a ricer. Bring milk to a boil. Return potatoes to the pot over very low heat and stir in the butter and the milk until smooth and creamy. Season with truffle, salt and pepper as necessary. Keep warm.

Truffle Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tbls. Truffle Juice
1 1/2 tbls. Truffle Paste
1/2 tbls. Sherry Vinegar
1/2 cup Grapeseed Oil
1 tbls. Lemon Juice
1 tbls. Boiling Water
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Method: Mix all ingredients except oil in blender. Blend well then drizzle in oil and season with salt and pepper.

To Serve:
4- 6 oz. Salmon Steak (skin on)
2 Brussels Sprout (sliced and blanched)
4 tbls. Chive (chopped)
1 tbls. Butter
Cracked Black Pepper
Coarse Salt

Method: Smear a baking dish with the butter and place the salmon, skin side up, on the butter. Let sit while you pre heat the oven to 275 degrees F. Put the salmon in the oven and set the timer for 12 minutes. Check the salmon after 12 minutes, the skin should peel off easily, it should flake, and an instant read thermometer should display about 120 degrees. Lift skin and scrape off the gray fatty matter on the skin side. Sprinkle with some coarse salt and cracked black pepper. Place a portion of mashed potatoes on a plate. Top with a piece of salmon. Drizzle truffle vinaigrette all around the plate and garnish with Brussels sprouts and minced chives.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Crockpot Chicken a la Real Simple

This month's Real Simple had an interesting chicken slow cooker recipe. I was supposed to be cooking for a friend tonight, but I got called to the refinery at the last minute and I was totally unsure when I would be home. Slow cookery is perfect for this sort of thing, since the cook time can range several hours.

The recipe looks interesting, I had to sub out onions for leeks and dried tarragon for fresh. It was overall pretty bland. My main issues were the fact that the peas made the broth cold after adding them, which didn't bode well for stirring in the cream (or half and half). I don't think 3 to 5 minutes in a SLOW cooker will really be able to cook frozen peas and warm cream. I returned all the potatoes and thighs back into the crockpot to try to warm everything back up. I am still unsure how the four potatoes actually thicken the sauce, it just made for mashed up potato pieces in the broth instead of a thick sauce I was hoping for.

Let's hope the Ginger Glazed Ribs recipe from this month's mag is a bigger success.

Chicken with Tarragon
Serves 4

1 ½ pounds baby new potatoes, about 16
8 skinless chicken thighs
½ onion, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt
1 10-ounce package of frozen peas
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon

Place the potatoes on the bottom of a slow cooker. Add the chicken, onion, wine and salt.

Cook covered, until the chicken and potatoes are tender, on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 7 hours.

Transfer the chicken and all but four of the potatoes to plates. Using a fork, smash remaining potatoes into the cooking liquid to thicken. Add the peas and cream and cook just until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon over chicken and sprinkle with tarragon.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pulled Pork Sandwiches & Sweet Potato Fries

A friend emailed me this week looking for my pulled pork recipe, turns out I don't really have one. I just throw the ingredients of barbecue sauce in a crock pot with pork. If I am making it for a crowd, I use a pork shoulder, but when it is just C and I, I use a pork roast.

I have never attempted sweet potato fries before, but they look so tasty! Next time I won't bother breaking out the mandoline, the potatoes were too strong to be sliced easily with it. They turned out great and were super simple.

Pulled Pork
(use double or even triple if using a pork shoulder)

2 lb pork roast
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp mustard
several dashes hot sauce
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed

Mix all ingredients in the crock pot, cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Shred pork 30 minutes before serving. Return shredded pork and sauce to crock pot. Serve on toasted rolls with sliced pickles.

Sweet Potato Fries
serves 4-6

1 - 1 1/2 lb sweet potatoes
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (preferably the easy release kind).

Peal the sweet potatoes. Cut into strips that are about 1/2 inch wide on each side.

Place the sweet potatoes into a sealable plastic bag. Add oil, salt, and paprika. Seal the bag and shake well to thoroughly coat the fries. Spread the potatoes out onto the baking sheet in a single layer.

Cook for 25 minutes, turning halfway. Transfer immediately to a paper towel lined plate and serve warm.
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Monday, March 9, 2009

Finally trying Fried Rice


I have twice learned how to make fried rice in cooking classes, once in Thailand at Bai Pai and once here in Houston at Sur La Table. So why haven't I made it yet? Probably because I don't really like fried rice. Growing up, I hated any kind of rice. It was only once I discovered short grain rice and sushi rice that I learned to enjoy eating it. I would rather save the calories and fat by eating plain rice. Today is finally the day to try to make it at home. I sort of combined both recipes to taste.

I also had boneless pork chops defrosted. My favorite thing to make with these is "Pork Things", so dubbed by my as a kid. Pork Things are breaded thinly sliced pork chops served with ketchup for dipping. I decided to make an Asian sesame marinade for the pork and grill them. I slice the two pork chops into thin 'pork things' and marinated them for about 45 minutes. Then I grilled until cooked through, which doesn take long.

Fried Rice with Peas
(serves 2)

1 cup white rice
2 cups cold water
kosher salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Cook rice in a pot with a tight fitting lid, salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat a large non stick skillet (or wok, which I don't have). When it is hot, pour in the sesame oil. Add the ginger and garlicc and stir fry for one minute. Stir in the peas and cook for two minutes. Pour in the egg and stir fry until cooked, two minutes. Add the rice to the pan and stir fry together to break up any rice clumps. Add the soy sauce and stir. Serve.

Asian Sesame Pork Marinade

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced

Combine all ingredients and marinate pork for at least 30 minutes.
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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Short Ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I first made this dish back in January for a girls' dinner I hosted. The same scenario played out then as it did this week, it was cold (cold for Houston, aka 55 degrees) so I decided to make short ribs for the dinner party. Once the weekend rolled around, it was sunny and warm...just like today.

The recipe is from my favorite magazine, Cooks Illustrated. The recipe calls for boneless short ribs since they produce so much less fat than bone in. The even better part is that Costco has boneless short ribs.

The mashed potatoes are sort of my own mish mash (ha!) of mashed potatoes I like.

Short Ribs

3 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs , trimmed of excess fat (see note and technique below)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions , peeled and sliced thin from pole to pole (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 medium garlic cloves , peeled
2 cups red wine (see note)
1 cup beef broth
4 large carrots , peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin

Instructions
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until smoking. Add half of beef and cook, without moving, until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn beef and continue to cook on second side until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes longer, reducing heat if fat begins to smoke. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and meat.

2. Reduce heat to medium, add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. (If onions begin to darken too quickly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to pan.) Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it browns on sides and bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high, add wine and simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth, carrots, thyme, and bay leaf. Add beef and any accumulated juices to pot; cover and bring to simmer. Transfer pot to oven and cook, using tongs to turn meat twice during cooking, until fork slips easily in and out of meat, 2 to 2½ hours.

3. Place water in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top; let stand at least 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer meat and carrots to serving platter and tent with foil. Strain cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator or bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Allow liquid to settle about 5 minutes and strain off fat. Return cooking liquid to Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture; season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over meat and serve.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 large russet potatoes
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup half and half or cream
4 tablespoons of butter

Peel (or don't peel) and cut potatoes into 1 inches pieces. Boil potatoes until fork tender. While potatoes are boiling, heat cream, butter and garlic in a small saucepan. Drain potatoes and add the warm cream mixture. Hand mash or whip potatoes until they reach desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Minestrone Soup


I adapted this recipe from an Olive Garden copycat recipe. How random is that? I changed quite a bit of it, but it was a good basic start for minestrone soup. This is one of the few foods I will eat with beans in it. I bet if I tried other foods with beans in them, I would probably like them, but I am certainly not going to venture there. My only complaint with it is that the zucchini loses its center. Next time I am going to try throwing it in at the end with the spinach and the pasta. I made this with garlic bread made with fresh garlic. Of course C prefers garlic salt...sigh...at least he didn't comment about getting a meatless meal!

Minestrone

Ingredients
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced white onion (about 1 small onion)
1/4 cup chopped zucchini
1/4 cup chopped green beans
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
2 cups vegetable broth (Swanson is good *note: Do not use chicken broth!*)
1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can great northern beans, drained
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup carrot, julienned or shredded
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups water
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
1 to 2 cups small shell pasta

Directions
1. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.
2. Saute onion, garlic, green beans, and zucchini in the oil for 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent.
3. Add vegetable broth to pot, plus drained tomatoes, beans, carrot, water, and spices.
4. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency.
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Chicken Pot Pie


C's favorite dish that I make is Chicken Pot Pie. He's had a rough week, so with that and the cool front that blew in over the weekend, I decided to make it on Monday night. I pulled a lot of the recipe from Ina Garten and adapted it to make it easier and to suit my tastes more. I don't always use the egg wash, it really isn't super necessary.

Over the years of making this, I have found that canned broth works much better than homemade stock, which is too fatty with all the fat that is in there. I also get lazy and don't cut the puff pastry into a round, plus that leaves more yummy puff pastry for eating!

Chicken Pot Pie

½ cup butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup flour
1 pint of cream (or half and half)
1 ½ cans of chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
¾ lb chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 russet potato, cut into bite sized pieces
10 oz package of mixed frozen vegetables
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 375. Boil potatoes in a small saucepan for 10 minutes. Melt ½ cup butter in a Dutch oven with the garlic and shallot. After the shallot has softened, whisk in the flour a ¼ cup at a time (you may not need all of the flour). When completely mixed in, add the cream, whisking more to incorporate into the roux. Add 1 ½ cans of chicken broth. Continue whisking; add the bay leaf, the parsley, the tarragon, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and chicken, let cook for 10-15 minutes on the stovetop to cook the chicken and thicken the sauce, stirring the whole time. Add the package of frozen mixed veggies (I use the peas, carrots, corn, green beans and lima beans mixture) and stir to incorporate. Pour entire mixture into a large, round casserole or soufflé dish. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry and cut a circle a bit larger than the soufflé dish. Place the pastry on overtop of the dish and crimp the edges, make sure to make a couple of slits in the top to let air out. Brush with an egg wash. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until the mixture starts to bubble and the pastry looks golden brown. Place a cookie sheet under the casserole to catch overflow and make it easier to remove the pot pie.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Guacamole

There are two requirments for when I eat homemade guacamole:

1. I must drink a Coke with it
2. The chips have to be El Milagro

I hated guacamole as a child, never sure why. My mom used to eat it all the time, using the Kempton's recipe. That was my basis for my first stab at guacamole, but over the years I have adapted it to more suit my tastes. The original had mayonnaise in it, which mom states was to stretch it. Here, I can get nice avocadoes year round, so I don't really need to stretch it. I always use the avocadoes from Costco, they are always tasty, unlike the hit or miss grocery store ones.

I used hot sauce in this batch because I didn't have any fresh peppers. They grow in my backyard, but there wasn't one back there today that was fit for consumption. The guacamole is never as pretty of a color with the hot sauce mixed in, but it does stay greener for longer because of the vinegar in the hot sauce.

Guacamole

5 avocadoes
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
juice from one lime
3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on their size
1/2 of a small onion
jalepeno or several dashes of hot sauce

Peel and mash the avocado. Squeeze the juice of the lime over it and add the hot sauce if using it. Chop the garlic, onion and pepper in the mini food processor. Stir that into the guacamole and salt liberally (El Milagro chips are unsalted). Stir in the tomatoes and serve.
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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Crawfish Bisque

We had a wonderful Crawfish boil yesterday at Finley's G-Ma's. Jack outdid himself with the tasiest and spiciest crawfish, it was a great first taste for the crawfish season! Even better, he sent me home with a gallon bag full of crawfish tails. I spent the morning peeling them for Crawfish Bisque. I used the recipe from the Chronicle from Pappadeaux, but after 30 minutes of simmering, I realized that something was not quite right. I made a quick blonde roux and added it to the bisque, perfect! I also didn't have any brandy on hand, so I used sherry instead. If it is good enough for Turtle Soup, it is good enough for bisque. I also didn't add any spices except a bay leaf, since the crawfish I had were already spiced just right.

Pappadeaux Crawfish Bisque

3 lb Crawfish
1/2 c Green bell pepper
2 oz Olive Oil
1 tb Tomato Paste
1 ts Paprika
3 c Whipping Cream
1/8 ts Cayenne Pepper
1/2 c Chopped Tomato
1/2 c Chopped onion
2 qt Water
2 oz Brandy; (4 Tbl)
1. Boil crawfish in a large pot of water. Drain & cool until crawfish can be handled easily, remove tail & save shells. Refriderate tail meat.

2. Heat oil in large sauce pan or Dutch oven. Add crawfish shells, paprika & cayenne. Saute 5 minutes. Add water & bring to boil. Reduce heat & simmer 30 minutes.

3. Strain liquid into another pan. Crush shells to remove remaining liquid & add that liquid. Discard shells.

4. Return to heat and add onion, bell pepper, tomato paste, cream & tomato. Simmer 1 hour, stirring frequently. Add brandy and crawfish tail meat. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Servings: 8
Source: Houston Chronicle

Blonde Roux - 1/4 cup butter, melt over medium heat. Whisk in 1/3 cup flour and keep whicking until all flour is incorporated. I add this about halfway through the hour simmering.
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Monster Cookies

I first tasted these fantastic cookies on a very sad weekend. My best friend's mother had passed away and I was in San Antonio to be with her. While we were out finding appropriate funeral attire, Heather's cousin was home baking. When we returned, I tasted the best cookie. Who would have ever guessed a 6'5" man would be a fantastic baker?

These cookies are always comforting and everyone always raves over them. The only thing is that you really need a stand mixer to mix them because the batter gets so stuff. This last batch I made was with double the chocolate chips because I had no M&Ms on hand, just as tasty, just not as colorful.

Monster Cookies

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs
4 ½ cups oatmeal (not instant)
1 ½ cups peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup M&Ms
1/8 tablespoon vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
raisins (optional)

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips and M&Ms. Stir in chocolate chips and M&Ms. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
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