Monday, November 22, 2010

Love crock-pot cooking :)

We eat French Dip Sandwiches A LOT in the Fall and Winter. I usually just buy sliced roast beef at the deli counter and heat it in beef broth that I've seasoned up. Yesterday, I decided I wanted French Dip for dinner... but I wanted a "fancier" version, so I threw a chuck roast in the crock pot with all sorts of goodies!

I used a 3 lb Chuck Roast with 1 can of low sodium beef broth, several cloves of garlic (maybe 6?), a couple of bay leaves, peppercorns, dried oregano and rosemary.

After throwing everything into the crock pot- I decided to add a few pepperonici as well. Cook on low for about 8 hours.

I hollowed out a few slices for French Bread- we like extra room for the meat :) Toast in the oven for a few minutes.

After all the meat was shredded, I put it back in the crock pot to heat through in the broth.

We like a couple of slices of melted cheese on ours- I used Provolone.

Serve with a bowl of the broth for dipping. I also served mine with roasted Broccolette and a few chips. Perfectly delicious- and pretty simple too :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Champagne and Shrimp...instant love!

I was home visiting my parents last week, and my mom made Champagne Shrimp for dinner. I had heard her talk about it several times before, but had never made it myself. One bite and I knew...I was in love. The sauce is rich, almost like a bisque- and it's actually really easy to make!

The recipe calls for mushrooms, but my mom doesn't "do" mushrooms, so I left them out just like she did. I also used Whole Wheat Thin Spaghetti, but think I like it best with Penne.

Since I didn't use the mushrooms, I started by heating the shrimp in the Champagne (use a dry Champagne...not a sweet one) along with 1/4 tsp of Kosher Salt.

While waiting for the Champagne to come to a boil, chop your shallots and tomatoes. I used 1 whole shallot and 2 good sized Roma Tomatoes.

Once liquid is boiling, remove the shrimp and set aside. Add the shallots and tomatoes and cook until liquid is reduced by half...about 8 minutes.

As liquid is reducing-  season with salt, pepper and parsley. I had to use dried because that is all I had on hand. When my large spice jars get low- I always transfer the little bits left into baby food jars. They take up a lot less space!!

Stir in the heavy cream and continue boiling until the sauce starts to thicken. This only took a couple of minutes. I chose to add my pasta to the sauce to soak it up, instead of pouring it over the top. Add the shrimp in at this time as well to heat through.

Top with a sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan Cheese and enjoy the indulgence. Restaurant quality at home = perfect!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A labor of love.

I saw these posted several times last year, and instead of looking for a tutorial, I decided to wing it. BAD IDEA! These were a lot of work, but in the end, totally worth it! I present to you...Oreo Turkeys.

The key players...Oreos, Candy Corn, Whoppers, Mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and melted chocolate to act as "glue".

Be smarter than I was...unwrap and have all candy ready BEFORE melting your chocolate for assembly.

 I made a total of 14 Turkeys- which used 3/4 pkg of Oreos, and almost a full bag of candy corn!!

Use your melted chocolate "glue" to apply a peanut butter cup to the very edge on the front of each cookie- widest side down. Glue a Whopper to the top of that.

If you use Double Stuff Oreos, you can pipe frosting in between the cookies and stick the Candy Corn in. Again, I took the difficult way and used regular I pulled mine apart and piped more chocolate glue inside. Put in 5 pieces of Candy Corn as the Turkey's tail and re-attach the other cookie with more of the glue.

Using more of your chocolate "glue" make a small puddle of chocolate on another Oreo and stand your decorated Oreo on top of it. This is where it becomes very important that you put your peanut butter cup on the VERY edge of your Oreo. At this time, I added on two Candy Corn "wings" and another cut piece of Candy Corn as the "beak".

Finally, after spending so much time making these, I couldn't just put a dab of frosting on for the eyes. I was unable to find candy button I used regular craft wiggly eyes :) Yes- please remove before eating! However, I did "glue" them on with melted white chocolate, so the rest of the turkey is still totally edible.

These are my finished Turkeys! Now bad for my first attempt...but I won't attempt another project like this again without having a tutorial to follow!! Lesson learned :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

I don't just love garlic bread, I adore it!

I love garlic bread, no matter how you serve it...and I love find new ways to serve it even more!! I read a few different recipes and decided to go with the parts I liked from each of them. Success!!

In a bowl, mix 1/2 stick of softened butter, 2 TBS of mayo (I use light), 1/4 fresh grated parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup each of shredded mozzarella and cheddar. Add in a pinch of dried basil and  1/2 tsp of garlic powder. Mix until well blended.

Spread on a loaf of french bread, coating both sides evenly.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes...or until cheese starts to bubble.

Serve hot- oh so good....if only it were good for you!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An experiment, because my Dad LOVES Sugar Cookies!

I saw a blog on Allrecipes the other day detailing Homemade Lofthouse Cookies. Lofthouse Cookies are the frosted sugar cookies with sprinkles you buy in the little plastic boxes at the grocery store, Target, Wal-Mart...etc. They are ridiculously soft and very tasty. I saw the recipe, and decided to give it a try.

The star ingredients! The recipe is on the bake of the Jiffy Baking Mix...and to get the authentic taste, don't make any substitutions. I don't normally cook with Crisco...but it was perfect in these cookies! The only place I have found the Baking Mix is at Wal-Mart...near the Bisquick. About $2 a box.

Using a hand mixture, blend the ingredients just until well incorporated. This makes more of a "batter" than a "dough". 

I used a large Star Tip and my pastry bag to pipe the batter onto my cookie sheet. I made these a second time as well just spooning the mixture on. Both ways worked great, but piping gives them a beautiful shape.

Top with your favorite Decorator or Buttercream frosting. Light, fluffy and crazy soft. I can see making these a little too often :)

Note: I got 18 normal sized cookies from this written, if you made 36 cookies like the recipe calls for, they would be smaller than an Oreo.

I love it when a plan emerges!

Sometimes I get sucked into buying something I don't have plans for, because the deal is too good to pass up. Last week, my grocery store had a crazy good deal on I bought two packages. We like mushrooms, but I had no idea what I was going to do with these. We ended up having dinner out on Friday and Saturday, so they really needed to find a use on Sunday. I decided to make a big pot of soup for a cool Fall day. I went with Very Easy Mushroom Barley Soup!

First, dump all the mushrooms into a large pot and brown them in a bit of olive oil. I grated my garlic into the mushrooms while they cooked.

Chopped up a couple large carrots and a few ribs of celery. I love using the heart of the celery and the good!

One onion...finely chopped.

I used Pearled Barley from my favorite store, The Calico Bean Market.

I like to stir the Barley in with the veggies and toast a minute before adding the stock.

My hubby is a meat lover, so I added a bit of light Turkey Kielbasa. 

Add in your chicken broth and seasonings. Let simmer until Barley is tender...mine took about 45 minutes.

One beautiful bowl of deliciousness!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Liked it, but didn't Love it.

Sometimes, a recipe looks better than it tastes. Unfortunately, that was the case with one of my recent meals. I found the recipe for Smoky Southwest Chicken and Wild Rice Soup on Allrecipes. Good, not Great.

The recipe called for canned carrots, which was strange because it uses fresh celery and why not throw in fresh carrots? I did. I cooked my veggies in the olive oil for a few minutes before adding my chicken broth. It also called for cream of chicken soup...which I don't usually buy, so I used a little extra chicken broth and some corn starch.

I used homemade chicken broth (4 cups) and fresh shredded chicken. Heavy cream, canned chipotle in adobo instead of a pinch of chipotle powder, chili powder, cumin, pepperjack, cilantro, and 1 cup wild rice (minus the spice packet) .

Throw in everything but the cream, wild rice, cilantro and pepperjack - cook until the vegetables are soft. I checked for seasoning at this point and added black pepper, salt and some jalapeno powder. I mixed 1 TBS of corn starch with a little chicken broth and added that to the pot along with the wild rice. Stir in the heavy cream and pepperjack. Heat until thickened. Last- stir in the chopped cilantro.

 I topped mine with a little more shredded cheese and a couple cilantro leaves. I guess I didn't get much smoky flavor from this, and I would have liked a LOT more spice. As far as Chicken and Wild Rice Soup goes, that is about what it tasted like, plain Chicken and Wild Rice. I'll keep searching for new ways to actually make mine Smoky with Southwestern flavors :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Every once in a while, I really love a hot dog!

Halloween means all sorts of goodies that are not "good" for I decided it was a good day to have a not so healthy dinner too :) I don't know about you, but every once in a while, I crave a really good hot dog! And I just have to eat fries with my hot dog, but I did bake those :) For this hot dog fix, I chose to make Pretzel Dogs.

Start by proofing your yeast with sugar in warm water.

Add in salt and about half of the flour. Continue adding flour until dough is no longer may not need it all. Knead dough until smooth. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Knead again and let rise again for about 1 hour.

After dough has doubled in size, roll out into a rectangle on an oiled surface. Cut dough into strips...I used my pizza cutter.

Wrap around your hotdogs making sure to seal both ends....I used yummy Hebrew National hot dogs :)

I only did one package of hot dogs, so I made the rest into pretzel nuggets. Drop into the water bath and cook for 30 seconds. Place on a lined or oiled baking sheet and brush with egg. Sprinkle with salt...I only salted what we would eat the same day. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-18 minutes. The nuggets took less time.

Finished dogs and nuggets...

And dinner with my homemade oven fries...a happy dinner for Halloween :)

October 29th- the day my love proposed :)

Friday was the 6-year anniversary of the day my husband proposed :) I decided I was going to make him a special dinner to celebrate...and then we ordered pizza! I did make him the dinner I had planned on Saturday, trying 2 new recipes!

The first was Mexican Pesto served on top of seared Tuna steaks. To go with the Tuna, I made a Hominy and Cheese Casserole, and a side of roasted radishes. It was delicious!!

To make the pesto you need: pumpkin seeds, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, a serrano chili and either Cotija or Parmesan Cheese.

I grate my garlic into the food processor so you don't bite into a chunk of raw garlic. Add all ingredients and blend until smooth. I only used about 3 TBS of olive oil instead of the 6 called for in the recipe.

The finished pesto- refrigerate until ready to serve. Any unused portion also freezes well!

On to the hominy! I had never had hominy before until I started exploring different cuisines. My husband really likes hominy, so I thought this was worth a try. The recipe calls for low-fat cream cheese and cheddar, but this is what I had on hand.

Cook the onion and garlic until soft. Then, add the green chilies.

Stir in the cream cheese until melted. I only made half the recipe because I wasn't sure we would like it.

Finally, add the hominy and mix well.

I opted to put the cheddar on top instead of mixing it in. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.


While that baked, I did a quick sear on my tuna. I seasoned simply with salt and pepper so the flavor of the pesto would be the star.

The finished dish...all delicious and going into my regular rotation!!