Thursday, September 30, 2010
I can't believe I haven't posted anything since the middle of July-- and that was just pictures!! :/
It seems that adding yummy recipes and photos just continued to get pushed farther and farther towards the bottom of my to-do list.
I know I still haven't added the recipes to the last post, and I have so many photos and recipes to add from the summer, but since it is now Fall, I thought I would do a quick post on a few fall recipes and backtrack to the rest.
Because, let's face it, if I don't do these now, you won't be reading them until Christmas!
The first thing is applesauce... homemade, orchard picked applesauce... yum. And it couldn't be simpler! Seriously! Besides using an apple mill, which I inherited from my mother-in-law's grandma (?), all you need is a large pot, apples, cinnamon and sugar. Easy Peasy.
Well let's get started:
Step 1: Go to the apple orchard and pick some apples... Ok, I guess you can just go to the grocery store, but it won't be as fun! (Plus I think apples you pick yourself taste sooo much better)
We picked Wealthy, McIntosh and Cortland (all great baking and drying apples)
Step 2: Wash about 12 apples. Cut into quarters and cut out any bad spots.
Step 3: Add to a large stock pot (peels, seeds and all!) with an inch or two of water.
Step 4: Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer (covered) for two hours, or until all apples are falling apart and the sauce has thickened slightly.
Now comes the fun part!
Step 5: Place apple mill over a large glass bowl. Start ladling the apples into the food mill and use the wooden dowel to push the softened apples and juice through the tiny holes in the side. It is best to use a circular motion for this. Continue until all apples have been turned to sauce :)
Just look at how little is left behind! All those seeds and skin that were used to flavor the sauce and lend their nutrients have been reduced to next to nothing.
Step 5: Sweeten and Flavor. Depending on how sweet you like it you can adjust these amounts to your own tastes, but I add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon. These amounts just lend a touch of sweetness while still letting the apple flavor shine through.
Step 6: Put into jars and enjoy! This recipe made enough to fill two large jars (think spaghetti sauce size). We put one in the freezer and are still eating the other! In fact, I am enjoying a bowl right now :)
On to recipe #2: PIZZA!!!
Now I know there is nothing about pizza that screams Fall but hear me out. These little mini pizzas are made with simple ingredients that can always be kept on hand, whether in the fridge or the freezer. They are easier, faster and tastier than a bagel bite... and you use real cheese! :)
Oh right, why Fall? Well I don't know about you but, besides the wondrous weather change, Fall (to me) means adding just a few more things to my schedule. Wednesday morning bible study picks up, MOPs picks up, school starts and life gets a little hectic.
So what is a mother to feed her children/family when there just isn't any time to make anything else (either after school when the kids are famished or after a morning activity when the time because getting home and nap is short) ?
Yup, you got it, these pizzas.
Ok enough about the why, how about the how!
For these pizza's I started with a deli thin. I know you've seen them in the stores, buns that are 1/4 the thickness that they should be? They have much fewer calories and more whole grains than regular buns and bread. And who doesn't need help getting more whole grains into their children? Oh who am I kidding, who doesn't need help getting more whole grains into themselves??
So split open a deli thin (I used honey whole wheat) and toast in your toaster oven (or regular toaster).
Once toasted, place on a baking sheet and switch the toaster oven to broil (or turn on your broiler). Spread with a spoonful of spaghetti sauce, add some pepperoni and whatever other toppings you choose, and then top with cheese! I like to keep pepperoni and shredded cheese in my freezer. They thaw incredibly quickly and the pepperoni can even be put on these pizzas frozen.
Once topped, place under the broiler until the cheese melts. We had these for lunch today and they just hit the spot! Like I said earlier, they make a great quick lunch, but they are also the perfect size for an after school snack-- small enough not to ruin the dinner appetite but just enough to ward off those hunger pains for a few more hours:)
Now to leave you with a little cutie love :)
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Fresh roasted tomato and garlic spaghetti
Egg salad lettuce cups :)
Pretzel dogs... you can find the recipe here: A Dash of Sass
Chocolate pavlova... mmm ;)
Homemade pickles :)
Grilled veggies... hey I can do this recipe right now! 1) pick your favorite veggies... 2) cut about 1/2 inch thick... 3) drizzle with olive oil and your favorite seasoning... 4) grill until they have reached your desired doneness... (in the picture are summer squash, zucchini, red and yellow peppers and onions)
Carmelized onion, cheddar and bacon stuffed burgers...
Also to come:
-Greek Salad Bruschetta
-Cheddar Garlic Mashed Potatoes
-The best ever marinated, grilled salmon
-Marinated Flank Steak
So I found this recipe one day while I was doing my daily search of allrecipes.com. I immediately wished my cookie jar was already full of them so I knew it was a definite must-save recipe. So I saved it.
But that just wasn't good enough for me. I had to make them. So I put in a Dora tape, gave Mayce a snack and some apple juice and headed for my kitchen :)
To say these cookies are easy to make is a complete understatement. I am not a baker. But if you can read a recipe, you can make these cookies.
And I am proud to say that not even four days later, my cookie jar is empty- that's right- I have eaten pretty much every single one of them. And it won't be empty for long, as soon as I get more butter, I am making these little delights once again.
Magic Peanut Butter Middles
I took the advice of some of the reviewers and decreased the amount of sugar in the dough from 1/2 cup of each brown and white sugar to 1/3 cup of each- it is definitely sweet enough and the chocolate tastes much more rich without so much sugar in the dough. I also added 1 Tbl of milk as the very last step of the dough. Some of the reviewers said they had a problem with the dough being too crumbly and hard to wrap around the peanut butter so I think this helped moisten it up a bit.
The peanut butter mixture takes a little time to mix together. I finally gave up using a spoon after a few minutes of getting nowhere and just went in with my hands. Kneading it and letting the heat from your hands warm up the peanut butter a little really helped get the mixture together. It will look a lot like play-do when you are done with it.
I also took the time to divide both the chocolate batter and the peanut butter mixture into thirty balls before I started putting them together. This way I was sure not to waste any part of this delightful cookie. (Quick tip, form both mixtures into a log-like the chocolate mixture above- and cut it into three sections. Then cut each of those sections into half and make 5 balls out of each part.)
In the recipe, there isn't really a clear direction on how to wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter ball. I found that if you flatten one of your pre-measured chocolate balls into a disc, they are a cinch to wrap around the peanut butter.
I only needed to use two large jelly-roll pans to bake all thirty cookies. They do not spread as you bake them, so a lot of extra room is not needed.
Before you bake them, dip a small drinking glass into a bowl of sugar and flatten the cookies to about a 1/2 inch thick.
The recipe says to bake them for 7-9 minutes. I baked mine for the full 9 minutes. The tops of the cookies will still seem like they are not finished cooking but as long as the edges have set up, the tops will firm up as the cookies cool.
Pour yourself a large glass of milk and enjoy! Speaking from experience, these cookies make the perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just make sure you spend the rest of your day on the treadmill ;)
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Mix in large roasting pan:
6 cups chex (corn or rice)
6 cups plain cheerios
4-5 cups cheddar crackers (goldfish, whales, cheeze-its...)
2 cups wheat chex
1 bag goldfish pretzels
2 cups mixed nu
1.5 sticks butter
Add 2 Tbl. garlic salt, a little less than 1 Tbl. season salt and the same of onion powder, 1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and pour over dry ingredients, tossing until all are evenly coated.
Bake at 250 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
Here is Mayce enjoying a homemade strawberry popsicle that we made in my new Zoku frozen pops maker... I highly suggest getting one of these! I have only made one kind of popsicle so far but I am already addicted! I can't wait to make chocolate pudding pops, strawberry lemonade pops, rootbeer float bars... maybe even a mojito pop!! ;)
This is the Zoku pop maker, you just pop this little thing in the freezer, wait 24 hours, and then fill it with any kind of juice or blended fruit that you like! Wait 7-10 minutes and then just pop them out! It is amazing :)
2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Splash lemonade and limeade
Blend in blender until fully incorporated but still a bit chunky.
Pour into Zoku molds or into your own popsicle molds.
Lovely little pastries... mix together a few ingredients, bake them in a mini muffin pan, dip in butter and then in cinnamon sugar... tastes like an old-fashioned donut... mm mm good. You could probably even skip the butter step and just roll the hot muffins in the cinnamon sugar and it would still stick pretty well I bet. Find the recipe here!
Pasta Salad :)
Yes I know, pasta salad is simple. But that is what makes this salad so good. I like to make it with regular pasta or even with tortellini... perfect for picnics, potlucks or just lunch and dinner at home!
1 lb. pasta (cooked and semi-cooled)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 jar black olives, drained
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, diced
1/3 lb. thick cut pepperoni, diced
1 pkg Good Seasonings Italian dressing (prepared according to package directions)
Mix everything together, chill.
As for my excuses? Well, I really haven't been cooking! It is summer, so we try to grill as much as the weather and our schedules will allow. And once you post on steak or chicken, there isn't much left to add. And as far as our schedules go, Alex plays baseball or softball more nights than he is home (ok I might be exaggerating here a little, but it is my blog so I can do that right?) and how exciting is it to post on hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches??
So the following recipes/photos are from quite a while ago, but they stretch 2-3 weeks and incorporate a lot of the same ingredients- which helps during menu planning and keeps the costs low!
I hope you enjoy them and try a few!
Baked Chicken and Cheese Taquitos with Avocado-Mango Salsa
I could eat a big ol' bowl of this salsa with a spoon. It is so light and refreshing and amazing. And the taquitos aren't bad either. ;)
For the taquitos-
Saute 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces) in a non-stick pan sprayed with cooking spray with a few shakes of onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder and salt and pepper. Once fully cooked, place in a large glass bowl to cool slightly.
Heat 8-10 small tortillas wrapped in a towel in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until warm.
Divide the chicken amongst the tortillas and top with as much shredded cheddar cheese as you like. (The cheese is my fave part, especially when it oozes out the ends of the taquitos while baking and gets all crispy and chewy on the pan!)
Next, wrap the tortillas up tightly and place on a greased baking sheet. Then spray all the tops and sides with the cooking spray as well- this helps the tortillas get nice and crispy, as if they were fried!
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are at your desired crispness. You will want to watch the edges because they tend to brown the fastest and remember that the tortillas will crisp as they cool slightly.
I even tried adding some mango to a few of the taquitos before I baked them and I loved it! Alex wouldn't even try it so I don't have a second opinion but I thought it was delicious, like a Hawaiian pizza, sweet and salty :) And feel free to add your own favorite ingredients to the fillings... jalapenos, black beans, sauteed peppers and onions... the sky is the limit.
For the salsa- simple, simple, simple
Dice up 2 mangoes and two small (or one large avocado).
Mix with a splash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Sausage, Shrimp, and Tomato Kabobs (my own version of this Bon Appetit recipe)
I saw this magazine on the cover of Bon Appetit's June issue and knew right away I had to make them. Kabobs filled with plump, juicy shrimp, baby tomatoes, red onion and salty, savory andouille sausage are my idea of the perfect main dish. I mean, what else do you need?? ;)
The original recipe includes a smoky paprika glaze that you coat the skewers with while grilling them. However, I had my own idea of a glaze I thought would work perfectly for these. Kind of my (well originally my mothers- with a few of my own ingredients added) idea of a homemade barbecue sauce.
Take equal amounts of ketchup and brown sugar, mix well and then add a few dashes of onion powder and garlic powder. For this one recipe, I used about 3/4 cup of each the ketchup and the brown sugar. You can use a little less brown sugar than ketchup if you aren't a fan of super sweet barbecue sauces.
When you grill the kabobs, grease the grates of the grill before putting the kabobs on. Once you flip the kabobs, put the glaze on the cooked side. Then when you flip them again, the glaze on the first side will cook a bit and somewhat carmelize as you put the glaze on the other side. Then flip once more the cook the sauce on the second side and they are done!
BLTTA ;) Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Turkey and Avocado Sandwich
This sandwich is so good and so easy (which makes it even better!) There is no need for mayo because the avocado is so creamy! The amounts of ingredients really vary from person to person, I like a little less turkey and bacon on mine and a little more avocado but Alex prefers more meat- so make them how you like! Just toast a few slices of your favorite bread, layer on the ingredients and enjoy!
Oh, a little hint-- I have found that if you sprinkle the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper after cutting them, it really makes them taste 100% better.
The perfect summer salad... Mixed greens, Mango, Strawberries, Chicken and Raspberry Walnut vinaigrette. I could eat this for all three meals every single day during the summer (and I probably should! My clothes wouldn't be so tight!) You can put any variety of berries on top that you like- blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and don't forget the mango. I love the ataulfo mangoes because they are incredibly sweet and the large crates at Sam's Club last me weeks! (I also use them in the avocado-mango salsa and my favorite pork chops with mango salsa!) I also enjoy putting candied pecans on top for a special treat every once in a while.
Candied Pecans (I haven't actually tried this recipe, but since I eyeball mine whenever I make it I thought I would actually look a recipe up, I will try this and if it is no good I will find another one and repost) From Emeril Lagasse :
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring, until golden brown and toasted, 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a piece of waxed paper to cool.
Yield: 1/2 cup candied pecans
Sausage, Pepper and Onion Subs
Wow, I feel like simplicity has kind of been the theme of this post! This recipe is no different-- well I made my own french bread (which in the bread machine is still more simple than it sounds!) but you can definitely buy yours-- all you need is cooked sausage (like andoille, you find it near the hot dogs and bacon), a bell pepper or your choosing, an onion, some mozzerella cheese and a small amount of warmed up spaghetti sauce if you like dipping things as much as I do :)
Heat a large, non-stick skillet or med-high heat.
Cut the sausage into small, bite size pieces and the pepper and onion into thin strips.
Saute the sausage first until they begin to release some of their oils and then add the peppers and onions. This will allow the sausage to get warmed through and a little crispy while maintaining a little crunch in the veg.
Next, heat the broiler, slice the bread down the top (make sure you don't go all the way through), fill with as much sausage mixture as you wish, top with shredded mozzerella cheese and broil until browned and bubbly.
And finally! Turkey Pitas.
This recipe is also my mother's and I am pretty sure it was created by her in an attempt to satisfy her craving for a sandwich she used to eat while living on Maui, after she didn't live there anymore. (Right, mom?)
You know those quarter pound or half pound turkey breasts that you see all shrink wrapped by the deli meat section that you've always wondered what you'd do with? Well buy some up, because you are going to want to make these!
And you may also want to pick up some pitas, alfalfa sprouts and avocado-- if you want to make this dish, that it ;)
Just place the turkey in a covered baking dish and bake at 350 for about a half hour, you just want it to be warmed through.
Then mix 1/2 cup mayo with 1/2 cup ketchup and a Tbl. of honey. This thousand island type dressing brings the whole pita together.
Once the turkey is warmed, just slice and layer in the pita with a few slices of fresh avocado, some dressing and top with a nice bunch of sprouts. Mm-mmm.
AND... if you happen to have some turkey left over (which I usually plan on) you can make this spin on the D'Amico turkey, cherry pasta salad. (Also a recipe my mother tried-successfully- to replicate)
Dice up the turkey, cook some pasta (amount would depend on how much turkey you have), mix with some dried cherries, chopped smoked almonds and creamy, poppyseed dressing.
Great anytime of the day!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I had a good friend from Rochester write me today and ask if I could post on... let's see how she put it, "those tasty things we used to make around the campfire at your parents. It was like dough on a stick and then you cooked it over the fire and pulled it off and filled it with cheese and some kind of sauce..."
I just had to use her words because they perfectly describe this fantastic dish from my childhood.
They are called Dowel Picnic and my family has been making them for probably more than 15 years. Where they came from? I am not completely sure. What are they? Besides amazing, you mean?
Dowel picnic is a meal in a biscuit, and yet you don't even have to turn on the oven. (And according to my sister, making them in the oven doesn't even compare!) All you need for this summer favorite is a campfire, some thicker dowels (about 1.5 inches across), peanut butter, large raw buttermilk biscuits, shredded cheddar cheese, and leftover spaghetti meat sauce.
Sound confusing? Let me explain.
Once the fire has burnt down to mainly coals. Take the wooden dowel and a small amount of peanut butter and spread it thinly on one tip and down that side about 6 inches (this allows the biscuit to slide off easily).
Next, take one buttermilk biscuit, place the center directly on the tip of the dowel and slowly stretch it thinly down the peanut butter covered end. You will want to make sure you do this gently to avoid tears. Be careful to maintain the same thickness so the entire biscuit cooks evenly.
Then, cook it over the coals. You will want to use the rotisserie method and turn the biscuit quite frequently to prevent burning. Remember, you are cooking a biscuit here and not a hot dog. Simply charring the outside will not cut it. Another tip? The tip burns easily so make sure it isn't always pointing down into the fire.
Once the biscuit is completely cooked (takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on the heat of the coals) simply slide it directly off the dowel. Be careful, its hot!
Finally! Fill with cheese and warm spaghetti sauce and enjoy!!
The actual filling strategy has seemed to evolve over the years. At the beginning, we would alternate small amounts of cheese with small amounts of sauce in order to ensure getting some of each in every bite. Now we have figure out that if you cut it in half length-wise and just fill each half with cheese and then cover it with sauce, you a) get to enjoy it twice for the same amount of work and b) it takes a lot of the work out of the stuffing part of dowel picnic.
You can take your pick, if you want this to be a completely knife and fork free meal then just alternate fillings and there ya go! :)
Trust me, give this dish a try. You will most likely be making it 15 years from now.
If you don't have leftover spaghetti sauce, here is my mom's recipe:
Saute 1/2 cup diced onions and 1/2 cup diced celery in a small amount of butter until soft and translucent.
Add 1 lb. ground beef and cook until completely browned.
Add one jar of Prego (whichever flavor you prefer) and simmer for about 30 minutes.
(Correct me if any parts of this are wrong mom!)
Monday, June 7, 2010
So here we go... this is the start to a marathon of recipes!!
Jalapeno Poppers on the Grill
1/2 brick cream cheese (4 oz.), softened
1.5 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup real bacon bits
1. Cut jalapenos in half, length-wise, keeping stem end on.
2. Remove seeds. (These two steps are best done with gloves on. Be very careful not to touch your eyes or anywhere else with anything that has touched the jalapenos!)
2. Mix the remaining ingredients well.
3. Stuff into peppers.
4. Heat grill to med-high heat.
5. Place peppers directly on grill. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until peppers begin to soften.
6. Place tin foil on grill and move peppers to tin foil. Cook another 5-7 minutes with cover closed until filling is bubbly and completely melted.
Cook time depends on how spicy you want the peppers to remain. If you cook them shorter and they maintain a bit of crunch then they will be more spicy than if you cook them until they are completely cooked. This will allow them to be hardly spicy at all.
For easy removal from grill, slide entire piece of foil onto sheet pan.
These peppers are so delicious, serve them alongside any grilled meat or even on a hamburger for extra flare!
Turkey, Broccoli slaw, Poppyseed wraps
These lovely wraps I cannot take credit for. They are a recipe I learned from my mother in law and they are so delicious and so easy! All you need are your choice of wrap, deli turkey, broccoli slaw (can be bought at any grocery store in the produce section), provolone cheese if you wish, and poppyseed dressing.
Layer a few pieces of turkey and cheese down the center of the wrap. Top it with as much broccoli slaw as you like (Maybe about 3/4 cup per wrap, depending on how big the wrap is) and then drizzle about 1-2 Tbl. of dressing over the top. Wrap and enjoy!
These wraps are sweet, salty, crunchy and absolutely healthy! Can't go wrong :)
Clone of a Hardee's Cinnamon Raisin Biscuit
These little biscuits are like heaven and bring me right back to my childhood. One bite and I am back playing in the ball pit at the Hardee's in Rochester... sooo good :)
And simple! All you need is Bisquick mix, cinnamon, raisins, a little softened butter, milk and powdered sugar.
Follow the directions on the side of the box for their sweet biscuits (that would be used for strawberry shortcake), add 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup raisins for a whole recipe.
While they bake, mix about 1 Tbl. softened butter, 1 cup powdered sugar and enough milk to reach your desired thickness. Add the milk slowly, you will be surprised how little is needed!
When the biscuits are done in the oven, spoon the glaze right over and enjoy! They are perfect for breakfast, an addition to any brunch or even for a casual, comforting dessert.
These are sounding so yummy I am going to have to make them for breakfast tomorrow! :)
The Israeli Couscous photo I posted came from Giada on the Food Network. You can find the recipe here! It is so light and refreshing and perfect for either summer or fall! The apples and cranberries counteract the slightly sweet maple dressing by adding just the right amount of tartness. Add chicken or salmon directly to the salad and call it a meal! Or just serve it as a side :)
The infamous mango pork chops
If everything tasted as good as the amount of time and energy that went into them, these would take hours! And yet-- they take just minutes.
4 Pork chops... you choose the thickness, I like either thick or thin... depends on how much time you have to cook them.
2-3 mangos, peeled and diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
6 whole black peppercorns
1. Heat mango, vinegar, sugar and peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until mango is softened and sauce has reduced slightly.
2. Meanwhile, season pork chops and cook over medium high heat in a large non-stick pan. Cooking time will vary depending on thickness of the chop. Be careful not to overcook as pork dries out easily. You can also cook pork chops in a George Foreman grill- even easier!!
Enjoy the pork chops with as much or little of the mango sauce as you like! I like having a little bit in each bite :)
We are having these for dinner this week! I think they appear on my menu about once a month!
Muffuletta Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches.
These creative sandwiches came from one of my Cuisine at Home Magazines. I have added my own adjustments so the recipe isn't exactly how it is printed in the magazine. They are so flavorful! I have never eaten a real muffuletta sandwich so I guess I can't say how close to the real thing they taste but, either way, they taste gooood.
Makes 4 sandwiches.
For the vinaigrette-
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
black pepper and salt to taste (be careful with the salt, the rest of the ingredients are plenty salty!)
For the sandwiches-
4 Ciabatta buns, halved (you could also do a half loaf and then after the sandwiches are complete, cut the loaf into smaller portions)
4 large portobello caps
5 0z. hard salami, chopped
4 oz. provolone cheese, chopped
The original recipe called for 4 oz of pimento stuffed Spanish olives, chopped as well. If you like olives, add them! :)
1. Preheat boriler on low with oven rack 6-8 inches from the heating element.
2. Whisk together all ingredients for dressing.
3. Brush cut sides of buns with dressing and toast lightly under the broiler, about 4 minutes. Set tops aside.
4. Remove gills from mushroom caps with a spoon. Brush both sides of mushrooms with dressing. Place caps topside up on bottom buns. Broil on baking sheet, 4 minutes. Flip mushrooms over, broil two more minutes.
5. Combine salami, cheese and olives if you are using them. Divide into the mushroom caps. Return to oven and broil until cheese starts to melt and brown on top, about 5 minutes.
6. Cover mushrooms with top buns and cut in half.
These sandwiches are nice especially if you have people in your family who need to eat at different times. They are so quick to put together, you can make individual sandwiches at different times without too much work.
Well I think that is all of them!
Check back later this week for...
- BLTTA's (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Turkey, Avocado)
- Onions au gratin with parmesan and sherry
- Twice baked potatoes
- Grilled shrimp and sausage skewers
- Turkey Pitas
- Italian subs with sausage, peppers and onions
- Baked chicken and cheese taquitos
Happy Cooking!! :)
Sunday, May 16, 2010
we spent the entire weekend outside, and this mama is t.i.r.e.d.
So you get photos tonight, and recipes tomorrow... I promise!
Monday, May 10, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
On Monday we enjoyed a spin on the classic greek food: the gyro. Traditionally, this sandwich consists of a pita, thinly sliced seasoned lamb rotisserie, tomatoes, onions and a yogurt-based cucumber sauce called tzatziki. They are one of my favorite foods to treat myself to when I am in Rochester because there are two great restaurants that make them!
Making the actual lamb at home, however, is a little overwhelming to me. For one, I am not a fan of lamb prepared in any other way. And two, this lamb is ground, specially seasoned, put on a rotisserie and constantly shaved with a special tool as the outside cooks--making it crusty and brown on one side and nice and juicy on the other.
I saw Ina Garten make a marinated lamb kabob on Food Network and the marinade looked really yummy so I thought I would try it with chicken and make our own little chicken gyros instead. The only thing I did different from the recipe is to add a few cloves of chopped garlic.
I also couldn't find the really yummy, soft pitas so I used some Naan instead that I found at Trader Joes and it actually worked quite well. Just stick it on the grill with the kebabs for the last few minutes to toast up and warm each side!
I also made the tzatziki sauce from scratch for this meal and it was surprisingly simple! I have always wanted to try making it because I douse my gyros with it typically and it is so fresh and refreshing tasting! (I had tons leftover and I have been dipping my carrots and celery in it- fabulous!!) The base for the sauce is Greek yogurt which is basically plain yogurt that has been drained so it is really thick. You can find it at most stores but if, for some reason, you can't find it, just take plain yogurt, place it is a strainer lined with cheese cloth and let it sit in the fridge over night. All the liquid will drain out and you will be ready to go!
16 oz. Plain Greek yogurt
1/2 english cucumber, shredded with all liquid squeezed out
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 Tbl. red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic pasted (chop garlic, sprinkle with salt, use the flat part of your knife to grind the garlic against the cutting board making a paste)
1/2 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl (not metal) and chill for a few hours.
Serve with gyro, vegetables, warmed or toasted pita
Oh yeah, for a side we had my favorite Greek salad :)
On Tuesday, Alex came home from work early and we had a nice picnic outside! I had planned on him having practice this night, so I made my mom's chicken curry salad the day before so he could have dinner on his way to practice. Well, he ended up not having practice and I had dinner already prepared! :)
My mom has made this salad for a long time and it is always a summer staple. It is simple to prepare and so, so delicious. Filled with juicy chicken meat, sliced green grapes, raisins, celery and walnuts, this salad is dressed with a small amount of mayo, lemon juice and curry powder and eaten on yummy croissants. I also tried eating it on a wrap and it was equally delicious!
On Wednesday, we grilled :) We had simple steaks rubbed with our favorite Weber Grind and Grill Chicago Steak seasoning, grilled and then topped with a small piece of Black Truffle Butter. This butter can be a little expensive and I just had some left over from a different recipe. It is not necessary but adds a really luxurious taste to the steak :) For sides we had simple sauteed mushrooms seasoned with a little garlic salt and onion powder, asparagus on the grill and sliced red potatoes seasoned with rosemary, wrapped in tin foil and cooked on the grill.
I really love being able to grill in the summer because you can take a bunch of simple things that are easy to prepare and put them together making a really delicious seemingly non-simple dinner :) Pay attention later on for a quick idea for using up these leftover simple sides!
If you like french bread and you would like to know how to make it, pay close attention now... I have found the best recipe. I have made homemade french bread before and used a few different recipes and I won't look for new recipes anymore. This recipe makes two french baguettes and they are soft and chewy and sweet and salty and, well, amazing.
Looks amazing, right? ;) Let me tell you, this bread makes your home smell so warm and inviting. I am going to be making it every chance I get. (And what makes it even better is it costs less than a dollar to make!) Eat it plain with butter, slice it thinly and make it into crostini for dips or bruschetta, or use it to make your favorite sub sandwiches!
I did make a few changes to the recipe because some of the steps didn't really fit. My breadmaker's dough function mixes the dough, kneads the dough and than lets the dough rise. In the recipe, there is a step that directs you to place the dough in a bowl and let it rise before punching it down and rolling it out. I just skipped this step and went straight to punching it down and rolling it out.
I also used an entire egg for the egg wash instead of just an egg yolk (as the recipe calls for) and, after I applied the egg wash, I sprinkled the tops of the loaves with some regular old table salt. I think this salt adds like three levels of deliciousness to the finished product! I am not sure why but it really reminds me of bread that you would get at a pizzeria or something. It actually reminds me of the breadsticks I used to order at Sabarro in high school :)
Ok, enough about the bread. Although I could have eaten this bread alone and been happy, we did actually eat it with a meal :) I made a creamy tomato pasta that was quick and easy and incredibly delicious.
To start, I sauteed some pancetta (italian bacon- you could sub bacon if you like) in a small amount of olive oil with a large clove of chopped garlic. After the pancetta had started to crisp I added a few chopped mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes, add your favorite jar of spaghetti sauce and simmer for 5-10 minutes on low heat. Meanwhile, cook any cut of pasta (we used bow ties) until al dente.
After the sauce has simmered and the pasta has cooked, melt in half a container of marscapone cheese and stir until smooth. Mix sauce and pasta and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
The marscapone cheese adds a completely creamy mouth-feel to the sauce but doesn't make it taste any cheesier. It just makes the sauce feel like velvet and taste completely rich. The pancetta and mushrooms add enough meatiness that you don't miss having any ground beef or anything in the actual spaghetti sauce.
Finally! A quick recipe we had for breakfast on Saturday that used up some of our simple grilled sides from earlier in the week. Usually I try to plan enough for dinner so that Alex can take leftovers for lunch the next day. However, he decided to eat all the steak and dinnertime, leaving me with a bunch of leftover potatoes, mushrooms and asparagus.
Perfect ingredients to make a fritatta!!
A fritatta could be compared to either an omelet or a quiche. The only difference between these two things is you don't have to make several omelets and spend your whole morning flipping them at the stove and there is no crust.
To make this fritatta, I simply heated a tablespoon of butter in a medium non-stick frying pan and sauteed my leftover veggies until they were heated through. If you are starting from scratch, just saute any combination of vegetable (or even meats!) long enough to cook them. Meanwhile, beat 6 eggs with a tablespoon of cream (or milk) and a small amount of salt, pepper and hot sauce (if you like it). Once the veggies are warm, add the egg mixture.
With the pan or medium, medium-high heat, let the egg mixture cook on the bottom without stirring it. When you can see the eggs firming up on the sides, use a rubber spatula and lightly push away the eggs from the sides, letting the raw egg mixture run into the sides to cook.
Heat your broiler to low with the rack at the top of the oven. When the egg mixture looks almost completely done except for the middle, place the pan in the oven under the broiler. (I leave the oven door slightly open with the handle sticking out so that it is sure not to melt!)
Watch the fritatta closely becauce cooking times vary. When the egg mixture is firm, sprinkle the top with the cheese of your choice and return it to the oven to melt. Slice into wedges and serve :)
Wow, this was a long post... let me know if you try any of the recipes!! :)