Saturday, February 27, 2010

A recipe swap I am participating in.

So I am going to link some of my recipes to this site for a recipe swap, and if any of you would like to do the same, feel free.  Just click the button below!

Over-used Recipes Swap

Linguini Alfredo with Chicken and Veggies

So here is another pasta creation Jeff and I made with a twist on the classic Fettuccine Alfredo. It takes some multitasking, but it sure is worth it in the end! If you're not a fan of veggies, or have kids who won't eat them, here is a way to cover them in alfredo sauce and get those in your diet.  Also, as usual, I used whole wheat linguine.

Linguine Alfredo with Chicken and Veggies

1 whole boneless skinless chicken breast
1 lb whole wheat linguine noodles
1 c broccoli florets
1 c packed fresh spinach
1/2 c mushrooms
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 c milk
1/2 c Parmesan cheese

Grill or saute chicken with a bit of olive oil.  Before cooking, season to your taste (I used seasoned salt, pepper, and a bit of Cajun seasoning).   Set chicken aside once fully cooked.  Cook pasta to pkg directions.  While pasta is cooking, start sauce by melting butter in a saucepan or skillet. Add mushrooms to saute.  Add flour to mushrooms and butter, and stir to coat and create roux.  Add milk, and whisk together til it thickens over medium heat. Add parmesan cheese and stir til well combined and smooth. Add spinach and stir, it will wilt into sauce (probably want to switch to a spoon for this, it might get caught in the tines of the whisk).  Simnmer while you wait for pasta to finish cooking, and steam the broccoli til bright green, then drain.  Drain pasta, and in a large bowl combine pasta, broccoli, chicken, and sauce (you'll have to toss it together).  Serve with salad, or garlic bread or just by itself.

*NOTE:  when steaming veggies, you'll need some time of strainer or steamer basket, and only about an inch to a half inch of water.  Place veggies in basket, place basket in a pot with the water in the bottom, then place over high heat.  Usually only takes 5-10 minutes til the broccoli is bright green.  Don't overcook it because it starts to loose its vitamins and things, and doesn't taste good.  Should be about the color of bright green grass.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Egg Rolls

Another Chinese thing that Jeff's family has done for awhile.  Probably not authentic, but they sure are tasty!  I won't venture to say that I make the wrappers from scratch, because I don't.  They're still a winner though, and one recipe makes A LOT!

Egg Rolls

1 pkg egg roll wrappers, any brand.  need to be about a 4 inch square
1 pkg coleslaw mix, or shredded cabbage and carrots in equivalent volume
1 lb ground pork, or pork sausage
1 pk rice vermicelli (in the Asian section of the grocery store) 
small bowl of water
vegetable oil for frying

Soak vermicelli in cold water til flexible (these are sold dry and you don't cook this kind of noodle.  it generally takes about half an hour to be soft enough).  While soaking noodles, brown and break up sausage into small pieces, drain off fat.  Once noodles are ready, drain them and cut them into one inch pieces.  Add coleslaw mix and sausage, and stir to combine.  Lay a wrapper down on a cutting board, with a spoon, put some of the filling in the center, then fold the edges together, corner to center, kind of like a burrito.  Use the water to dab the edges to seal it closed, and one at a time, fold corner into the center over the filling, and then roll the last corner around the outside.  I hope that makes sense.

Fry them in either a deep fryer or in a skillet with a good amount of oil in it.  Outside should be golden.  Serve with sweet and sour sauce our soy sauce.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ham and Vegetable Fried Rice

Part 2 of the Chinese Series...Fried Rice!  Jeff makes this most of the time, but for some reason I can never get him to post stuff on here.  So here we go.    Most measurements with this aren't exact because it depends on how much rice you have.   This is actually traditionally made in China with leftover rice from whatever you made the night before from dinner.  So you use pretty much whatever veggies you have in the house along with some ham or spam and some eggs.  So this is just one version, but you can make it with whatever you like.

Right this is Jeff I type in red when I edit blog posts.
First it must be understood that cooking Chinese food unlike most baked goods is more art than science and so the exact quantities don't matter.  And this is how Chinese people do it outside the restaurant (and sometimes inside the restaurant world).

Ham Fried Rice

2 c steamed rice  Whenever you cook rice cook 3 cups.  It doesn't matter if you'll eat it or not, because Fried rice works better with leftover rice.
1/2 c diced ham or spam Carmel doesn't like SPAM, and I don't measure.
2 eggs, scrambled and cooked  I cook my eggs separately, I've seen great Chinese chiefs fry rice then move it all to the side cook the eggs in the same wok and mix it together.  But seriously unless you have lots of practice your eggs stick to your wok and you have little burned particles of egg in you rice. Yuck!  So I just scramble them in a frying pan and throw the results in at the end.
1/2 c we don't measure carrots we count them 2 carrots. chopped carrots, celery, or broccoli (or all 3)
1/2 c frozen peas Um... unfreezed them before putting them in a frying pan
1/2 c chopped onion half onion, whole, whatever you like
1 tbsp minced garlic do I do this? don't remember....
soy sauce
olive oil

Get everything minced chopped, whatever before you cook because once you're started you won't have time to go chop something else.  Rice sticks to woks.  To mitigate this it's best to let your rice dry out a bit.  Fried rice is best with last night's leftovers anyway.  I also like to add a little oil to the rice and stir it around this will help too.  But in the end realize the rice will stick, let it and don't scrape it out of the pan.  Burned rice is Yuck.  Having that burned rice stuck to your wok is really doing you a favor.

Heat wok over high heat, and add oil to heat.  If you can get your wok hot enough you'll have to stir often. Add vegetables and cook til tender.  If ham came in the can or is cold add it with the vegetables. Add ham, eggs, and rice, eggs last. Stir well to combine and to keep rice from sticking.  Add soy sauce, stir again, and then serve.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sesame Chicken

And so begins the series of Chinese recipes my husband (and sometimes I) cook.  We tried this once on a whim and it was delicious, but we have yet to do it again in order to take pictures and post here.  So I am going to post the recipe and add the pictures the next time we make this tasty dish (I know, I say that, but I mean it this time).

Sesame Chicken

We don't measure this
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, depending on size and how many you are feeding
1/2 c cornstarch, plus
2-3 drops sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 c chicken broth or stock
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c white or rice vinegar
1/4 c white sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Cut chicken breasts into small bite sized pieces.  Dredge in  1/2 cup cornstarch, then fry in wok (If you fry it in a wok you'll burn it, unless your deep-frying) or frying pan in a tablespoon or two of vegetable or olive oil.

Measure this: In a small saucepan, combine sesame oil, chicken broth, soy sauce, cornstarch and ginger.  Whisk over medium heat, til cornstarch causes it to thicken.  Toss sauce and chicken pieces together in the wok or frying pan, then serve over rice, with veggies.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Who doesnt love apple pie?

So I wanted to learn how to make homemade pie purely because my mom has made homemade pie since I can remember, therefore creating a "pie snob" as I call it. I never had store-bought pie growing up, except at gatherings outside of my parents' house--Mom never outsourced the pie making, she always did it herself. It was usually apple, because that's what she liked, and it was my Dad's favorite, and we all grew to love homemade apple pie. Mom sometimes added cranberries for holidays, and sometimes just did it plain. Here is the fantastic recipe she (and now I) use. (warning, this one is a bit long, but its worth it)

Homemade Apple Pie

2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c cold shortening
3 tsp cold butter
6 tbsp ICE COLD water, plus 1 tbsp if needed

Sift or whisk together dry ingredients. Add shortening and butter and GENTLY cut in with pastry blender. Add water, and with a fork lightly mix til dry ingredients and butter form a ball. DO NOT OVER MIX. form into disk, kind of like a large hockey puck. Divide disk in half, shape each half into a disk, and wrap each tightly with plastic wrap, then refrigerate at least 2 hours. I usually do this a day ahead and refrigerate 24 hours.

The next day, on a floured board, roll out each disk to a 9 inch diameter round. It should be pretty thin. Lay one crust into pie dish and trim edges with paring knife. DO NOT USE SCRAPS TO RE ROLL--THIS OVER HANDLES THE CRUST AND MAKES IT TOUGH. After trimming the edges, I take the scraps and lay them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and bake for about 8 minutes. The second crust will be the top of the pie.

**NOTE**The secret to a great pie crust is handling it as little as possible. The second secret is to use COLD ingredients--cold butter, cold shortening and cold water. Make sure once you add your butter and shortening, you are very careful and dont cut it in too much, and when adding water, don't over mix. Only mix long enough for the ingredients to come together. If it's too crumbly, add a tbsp of water and mix again, but just til it forms the ball. This creates the nice flaky texture you want once its baked.


6 large granny smith apples
3/4 c sugar (I actually use brown sugar, and only about 3-4 tbsp, up to 1/4 c)
2-3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Slice and peel apples (I use one of those nifty peeler/corer/slicer things, but Mom likes thicker slices, so you can also hand-cut them). Toss sliced apples with lemon juice, and then stir in sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt.

Fill prepared pie dish with filling, and then lay top crust over the filling. Cut slits in top crust to vent, and then add small pieces of butter to the top to keep pie moist. Bake pie for 30 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce temp to 350 and bake another 30 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream on top, or like my family does with thin slices of extra sharp cheddar cheese melted on top.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

For my Honey

This is one of Jeff's favorite breakfasts, and I don't make it very often because its not the healthiest thing we could eat. Occasionally I make it for him on weekends, and I did this morning as a valentines treat (and I just happened to have the ingredients for it). We both enjoy it, and I am by no means trying to downplay it at all, its just not something people should eat more than a few times a year, haha. A country classic, and definitely tasty--try it out for yourself!

Biscuits and Gravy

2 c all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
7 tbsp cold butter, sliced, plus 3 tbsp
3/4 c cold milk

1 lb pork sausage, any flavor (I used sage)
1-2 tbsp flour
2 c milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch paprika

Preheat oven to 45o degrees. In 13x9 cake pan, place 3 tbsp butter, and melt while oven preheats. Mix dry ingredients for biscuits together, add butter, and cut in with pastry blender or 2 forks. Add milk, and use fork to combine to make dough. Use hands to knead gently til combined completely (not long, should be only about a minute). Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness, cut with biscuit cutter or round glass. Place biscuits in melted butter in pan, bake for 12 minutes.

While biscuits are baking, brown sausage in non stick skillet. When completely cooked, add flour and stir to coat sausage. Add milk, and stir til thickened; add more milk if too thick. Add spices.

Split biscuits in half, and pour gravy over top, enjoy! Might want to add some fruit or something to make you feel better about eating the smothered biscuits...haha.

Friday, February 12, 2010

BBQ Meatballs

From my mother in law, or more specifically, the ad she found in the paper on Sunday, here is a recipe for BBQ meatballs. The recipe came from the company that makes frozen meatballs, so I am going to have to create my own recipe for that here, and I hope you enjoy! You could do this in the crockpot too, but you would have to either use frozen meatballs from the store, or make them ahead and bake them first, then add to the sauce in the crock pot.

p.s. I am so sorry for not posting recently, I havent really had any inspiration lately and I need some more ideas. So it will be a bit slow in the next little bit. thanks for your patience with me!

BBQ Meatballs

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork (or sausage)
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 c oatmeal or breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 c finely chopped or grated onion (or onion powder)
salt, pepper
1 12 oz jar of grape or current jelly
1 c Famous Dave's BBQ sauce

Combine meats, W. sauce, oatmeal, spices, and egg with hands til well mixed. Form into meatballs, bake for 15 to 2o minutes in a 13x9 baking dish. Meanwhile, blend jelly and bbq sauce in saucepan with whisk, over low heat. Add sauce to meatballs, bake another 15 minutes. If using crockpot, remove meatballs from oven and add to preheated crockpot. Add sauce, combine, to coat well. Set crock pot to LOW setting, so it barely simmers.

Cathy serves this with warm garlic toast, but you could also do this meatball sub style on a hoagie roll, or with rice or something, or of course on its own for a party snack (I think that's the purpose, it was in the Superbowl Sunday paper).

--You dont have to use Famous Dave's BBQ sauce, but we like it anyway, and that's what the recipe uses. You could go buy pre-made frozen meatballs and I wont be offended, but this is what I would do.

--Preheating your crockpot is very important in this. I am pretty sure I mentioned why in the clam chowder recipe, but I will go over it again here. If you add hot food to a cold crockpot, it shocks the ceramic and it can crack from the shock. make sure you set your crockpot to the low setting right about when you put the meatballs in the oven, so when you transfer its already had time to heat up properly. The opposite applies for cold food and a hot crockpot--never add cold food to a hot crockpot, because it can crack it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Amie's Chocolatey Delight

Okay, so my fantastic friend Amie made this dessert today with her mom and she was so nice to provide me something to post today. I am very open to contributions from friends and readers, so if you have something you would like to share, please let me know. Amie, you're amazing! Hope you all enjoy her dessert creation, it sounds delicious to me!

Amie's Chocolatey Delight

1 package Puff Pasty Sheets
1 egg or 1/4 milk for baking
1 large package Jell-O Instant Chocolate Pudding (make according to directions)
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 package ripe strawberries
sugar/Splenda for strawberries (optional)
powdered sugar
bittersweet chocolate melted

Defrost puff pastry sheets, approximately 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Once thawed cut pastry into 3 long pieces and cut those into 3 again. You should have 9 squares from each sheet. Place the squares on a foil lined baking sheet and brush with egg or milk, and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool to room temperature.
Make pudding according to directions and set aside. Whip heavy cream until fluffy. Fold cream into pudding until combined and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, allowing pudding to become cold and set well.
Wash and prepare strawberries. Cut into 4 pieces lengthwise. Sprinkle with sugar or Splenda to sweeten (optional), and set aside.
Take each puff pastry square and cut around the seam, to make a top and a bottom piece. Place on cutting board or baking sheet to fill.
Fill each square with approximately 1 heaped spoonful (I used a soup spoon) of chocolate pudding and cream mixture. Place 2-3 pieces of strawberry in each. Add a little dollop chocolate mixture to hold pastry lid on. Once all are filled, dust with powdered sugar.
Melt the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave. Spoon the chocolate into a Ziploc bag and gather at the corner. Remove as much air as you can from the bag and twist the chocolate down into the corner. (This is a makeshift pastry bag, with very little cleanup!) Cut the tip off of the corner and drizzle across the top of each. (Make sure to cut a small hole or you'll get a big glob of chocolate instead of just a drizzle!)
Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
Makes 18.

**Note** she mentioned also you could of course use sugar free pudding to reduce the carb content of this. sounds tasty, no?