Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garlic & Herb Cracker Spread

My weakness is crackers and whatever you can put on top of them.  My other weakness is cheese.  So feeding these two together - win-win for my tastebuds.  I used a product very similar to this to make mashed potatoes a few weeks ago.  It was kind of expensive.  I started thinking that I could make it much cheaper plus maybe healthier.  I mean, the base of it is the same as a cream cheese frosting.  I opted to use an organic Neufchatel cheese.  In it I used one of my favorite herbs - dill weed.  It adds so much flavor and it's kind of odd that I like it so much since I am not a fan of pickles.

Garlic & Herb Cracker Spread

1 - 8 oz Neufchatel cheese
4 tbsp butter

Let both come to room temperature and mix together completely.

Add in the following ~

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp dill weed
1/8 tsp basil
1/8 tsp marjoram
1/8 tsp thyme

Stir in spices to they are evenly spread out in the Neufchatel mixture.  Place in your serving container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pizza Hamburgers

And now the reveal as to why I needed the hamburger buns....the pizza burger!  I made a quick pizza sauce to use as the condiment of choice.  You can stuff it with pepperoni or Canadian bacon.  I chose a slice of pepperoni which doesn't show in the photo due to the fresh mozzarella cheese that is oozing out of the burger.

Pizza Hamburgers

1# ground beef
fresh mozzarella
pepperoni or Canadian bacon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pizza Sauce

1 - 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 - 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Put everything in a small saucepan and heat.  Super easy sauce.  Use it on the bun or on the side.

Shape the ground beef into patties.  Make an indent and add mozzarella cheese and pepperoni in the middle.  Cover the cheese and pepperoni completely and cook on the grill or in a pan.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hamburger Buns

Ah the smell of baking bread...it is one of those comfort smells especially with the Polar Vortex in summer.  I forgot to pick up hamburger buns at the grocery store so what better than making some myself.  I've made honey wheat buns before so I went for plain white buns this time.  

Hamburger Buns

1 cup warm water
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
3 tbsp sugar

Mix together and let sit for 10 minutes.  

In a large mixing bowl, combine -

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp sea salt

After 10 minutes, add in yeast mixture plus 2 tbsp melted butter and mix.  Put a dough hook on your mixture and completely combine the ingredients, scraping the sides of the bowl.  You can also use your dough setting on a bread machine.  Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until the dough is smooth.  Roll into a large ball and place in the mixing bowl that has a tablespoon of olive oil coating the sides.  Roll the dough over so all sides are covered in the olive oil.  Cover with a cloth towel and let rise until doubled.  
Turn out dough when doubled, and cut into 8 equal pieces.  Roll in your hands into 4" disks that are about 1/2" thick and place on a parchment lined baking pan.  Allow to rise again until doubled.  

Brush with an egg wash of 1 large egg and 1 tsp water mixed together.  Sprinkle on sesame seeds if you like.    Bake at 400° for about 15 minutes. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lemon & Herb Grilled Chicken

I've had a dried bunch of oregano on top of my canister set waiting for inspiration.  I bought some chicken breasts with no plans in mind so with the addition of a lemon, this is the recipe that I created...

Lemon & Herb Grilled Chicken

2 chicken breasts, pounded slightly to they are an even thickness
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

In a large plastic bag that seals, combine all the ingredients including the chicken and let it marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.  After an hour or so, remove the chicken from the bag and shake off the excess juice.  Place on a hot grill, turning one time and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°.  Grill the remaining lemon half for a couple minutes and spritz the top of the chicken breasts before serving.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sweet Peas & Parmesan Risotto

I've never claimed to have a green thumb.  I can grow herbs, berry bushes and apple trees.  Out of 12 sunflowers I planted, one came up.  I'm hoping this is more due to a late start rather than any actions on my part.  My peas looked healthy when I started them inside early.  RIP little plants that did not survive the transplant.  I started over and managed to get healthy plants that my crop equaled just enough for this recipe...1/2 cup.  It's a good thing I have a few farmers markets to choose from in the valley.

Sweet Peas & Parmesan Risotto

1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup fresh peas
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
1 tbsp butter

Bring the chicken stock to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the rice, reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pan and let cook until the stock has been absorbed (approximately 30 minutes).  Stir in Parmesan cheese , butter and peas and cook until the peas are done.  Add in the freshly ground pepper and taste to see if it needs salt.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Grilled Honey Butter Sweet Corn

Another grilling favorite of mine is sweet corn. It's so easy.  Just place in aluminum foil, season however you like, seal the seams of the foil and place on the grill to cook.  Clean up is even easier!

Grilled Honey Butter Sweet Corn

Honey butter ~

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp honey

Mix together.  Easy, right?

Rub the butter mixture on 3-6 ears of corn.  Place on top of heavy duty aluminum foil.  Sprinkle oregano and freshly ground pepper on top.  Wrap up the foil into a packet.  Place on indirect heat on the grill and cook for 15 minutes.  Careful opening the packet - it will be hot and there will be steam.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tuscan Brunch Potatoes

A great way to start off the weekend is with a wonderful brunch.  This potato and sausage dish has a Italian mix of seasonings that your taste buds will be cheering molto bene when you take your first bite.

Tuscan Brunch Potatoes

1/2" sweet Italian sausage, browned and drained
1# fingerling potatoes, boiled for 20 minutes and cooled
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a frying pan with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Cut the fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise and add to heated pan.  Brown and add in Italian sausage, onions and garlic.  Cook until sausage has warmed and the onions and garlic are cooked.  Stir in paprika, parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper.