Monday, May 30, 2011

A nice way to end the long weekend

We went from having our furnaces on overnight to possibly needing to turn the ac units on with a pending tornado watch.  Since I was awakened by a storm at 5:30 complete with hail, I cooked swiss steak in the crock pot just to be on the safe side with the weather.  I concocted a new veggie side dish to accompany it ~

Green beans with pears & bacon

10 oz green beans, cooked, drained
2-3 slices bacon, diced, cooked
1 large D'Anjou pear, peeled, sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp raspberry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Cook green beans (the microwave in the bag ones work and taste great).  Cook bacon slices.  I like to cut them up before cooking into small slices.  I also put in an additional slice because I like to nibble.

In bottom of large sautè pan, melt butter and add brown sugar and raspberry vinegar.  Add in slices of pears and cook about halfway so they maintain some crispness.

Add in green beans and bacon until warm and then season to taste.

Servings: 6

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I love long weekends ~

Don't misunderstand, I truly love my job but long weekends rock.  I've gotten my project list completed and I've had time to create in the cave and have another day to go.

Tonight I grilled a filet mignon and had this tomato dish as a side ~

It is one tomato, peeled and sliced in 1/4" slices.  A light splash of extra virgin olive oil on top with a dash of salt.  Then I added some slivers of Kammerude cheese which is a delightful garlic & basil gouda.  I zapped it for 20 seconds and added a cooked & crumbled slice of bacon and some fresh chopped oregano.
Now it's time to relax with my new favorite adult beverage ~ my version of a mimosa Michele style.  Orange juice is not my friend so I made 2 substitutions...not bad on a 2 ingredient drink.  I used an Italian raspberry sparkletini spumante and mixed it with peach juice.  Very refreshing and relaxing.

Peach caramel rolls

The picture gets star billing today because it deserved it.  So sweet and tender and the peach topping with it's juices that delicately blended into the just didn't want to have just one.  I didn't.  Now I'll have to work out to burn off the calories...perhaps, after a nap.

Peach caramel rolls

1/2 cup butter melted
1 1/3 cup brown sugar firmly packed
2 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp cream
1 cup peaches, peeled and diced (frozen work great)
1 loaf sweet bread dough, thawed
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Thaw bread dough so it's workable to make a rectange of about 10 x 13".  Spread out and sprinkle 3 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon on dough and roll up (the 13" way).  Let sit while you work on the caramel sauce.

Melt butter.  Add in brown sugar, corn syrup and cream.  Mix together and add in peaches.  Cook for a few minutes and the put at the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan.

Cut dough.  I cut in half, in half again and then half for the final time so you end up with 8 equal slices.

Put down in your baking pan & spread out evenly.  Let rise again for an hour or to when the dough has risen to the height of the pan.

Bake until a nice golden brown.

Carefully turn over pan onto a aluminum foil lined baking sheet.  Be careful...the peaches might have caused the sauce to become looser than other caramel rolls you've made because they release juice while baking.

Serve warm.

Servings: 8

Bake at 325°F for 20 minutes

Saturday, May 28, 2011

So easy and I just had to share

It finally stopped raining long enough to grill so I took full advantage of it despite the wind gusting up to 20 mph.  I wanted a fun side for chicken so I cut sweet potatoes into 1/2" slices, drizzled olive oil on top and added some salt and pepper and grilled them on top of aluminum foil on the top rack for about 30 minutes.  I had the grill on high so I could keep it going in the wind.  I brushed on raspberry chipotle salsa when they were almost done cooking,

So good!

Artesian cheese is the ultimate!

The trick is finding a way to do it justice.  The latest cheese to find a home in my refrigerator is Pepperori & Marinara cheese.  It's excellent on it's own but what kind of cooking blog would it be if I left it in it's original state?  Look at the thin lines of flavor ~

Sour Dough Cheese Bread

1 loaf round sour dough bread

1/2 cup butter melted
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano

6 ounces pepperoni & marinara cheese cut into thin slices

1. Melt butter and mix in garlic powder and oregano.

2. Cut sour dough bread into 1" squares by making slices all in one direction and then all the other direction.  Do not cut below 1/2" from the bottom.

3. Place cheese slices in each of the cuts.

4. Pour butter mixture over top.

5. Wrap in foil and bake covered for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chocolate & peanut butter - oh yeah

Well after yesterday's rapture failure, I was still in the mood for chocolate so off to the cave and I found Nutella and peanut butter chips in the pantry.  Seemed like a match made in me, it does taste pretty darn good.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar firmly packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup Nutella
1 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup peanut butter chips

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add in egg.  Stir in Nutella and vanilla.  Add in dry ingredients.  Once completely mixed, stir in peanut butter chips.

Bake on parchment lined cookie sheets.

Servings: 46

Bake at 325°F for 10-12 minutes

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rapture homemade pizza

A diet just won't matter if the world ends today so I treated myself and made a homemade pizza.  So I threw some Stones in the cd player and started cooking.

Pizza sauce

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 medium onion finely chopped
1 tbsp extra light virgin olive oil
1 6 oz tomato paste
1 15 oz tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
4 oz water
1 tbsp Italian seasonings ~ crush between your hands and sprinkle into the sauce
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in sauce pan and add in garlic and onion and cook until tender.  Add in tomato paste and water.  Add in tomatoes and spices.  You can also mix in 1/4 cup of your favorite red wine.  Let cook for about a half hour for all the spices to blend into the sauce.

Servings: 2

I used half of the sauce and froze the other half for a future pizza...if there is a future beyond today.

The dough is very easy to make.

1 package dry yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

Mix together sugar, yeast and add warm water.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Put flour and salt into a medium sized bowl.  Add in water mixture and stir or mix by using your hands and turn out onto a floured flat surface.  Knead for 3 minutes and roll out onto a pizza pan.  Leave a lip for your sauce.  Use a fork and poke holes all over the dough surface.  Bake for 5 minutes in a 325 degree oven.  Remove from oven, add sauce and your favorite toppings.  I used a combination of pepperoni and Canadian bacon and topped with fresh mozzarella with oregano sprinkled on top.  Bake until the crust is a nice golden brown.

Now I'm wondering if I should continue my evils ways and go back into the woman cave and create some rapture chocolate treat...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

73 degrees and sunshine

Naturally rain is in the forecast for the weekend so tonight I grilled.  Bacon-wrapped chicken breasts, corn on the cob and these ~

Grilling Potatoes

4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 medium onion, peeled and chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
dash oregano
dash cayenne pepper
1/2 shot favorite whiskey or beer

1. Take a 12" piece of aluminum foil and place shiny side down.  Layer sliced potatoes and splash on some of your favorite whiskey or beer.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, oregano and cayenne.

2. Wrap the foil up into a package and steam bake on the grill or in your oven.

Servings: 4

This time I used baby red potatoes.  And the best part of grilling, besides it tasting good, is the easy clean up!

This is the before picture.  For some unknown reason I cannot upload the after shot.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The almost full moon must be shining down in my favor

I was almost scared to head back into the cave to make dinner after the weekend but it was so worth the trip.  I had 2 ripe pears and a bottle of real maple syrup from Vermont calling out to me so this is what I created ~

Cinnamon 'n pear pancakes

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
2 large pears, peeled, cored, and diced

1. Mix together all dry ingredients.  Whisk in buttermilk, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Add in pears.  Let sit 10 minutes before cooking on a lightly oiled pan.

Servings: 14

I served it with a chicken apple sausage.  Good combinations all around.
Hopefully you're enjoying nice weather and good food too!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Have you ever had one of those weekends...

Where you come to the realization that you should have just ordered in a large pizza or chinese food with enough leftovers that you don't have to cook for the entire weekend?  I did.  The only things that worked out well was a hot dog and a peanut butter sandwich (not together naturally).

I tried to create a new bread recipe on Saturday made with dehydrated blueberries.  As usual, I put my bread maker on the dough setting and threw in ingredients that I thought would work well together.  The end result was a dough that looked like the mafia had offed a smurf or the girl from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory had exploded in the machine.  That slightly dampened my spirits but I forged on with a roast in the crock pot today.  Another failure.  It's so tough that even my cat turned up his nose at it. 

Oh well, here's a recipe that I know works for you to make ~

Drunk turkey sausage

2 rings turkey sausage, casings removed
1 28 ounce bottle of ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 bottle beer, room temperature

1. In a medium saucepan, heat ketchup, brown sugar and beer until sugar is dissolved.

2. Slice turkey sausage into 1 1/2 inch pieces.

3. Cook in crock pot over medium heat for 3 hours.

Hopefully this coming week will be better in the woman cave.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Planting done!

I am not a gardener...I stand by that and I'll say it often.  I can grow trees and bushes.  I have some lilac bushes that are reaching power line heights to prove it.  Tonight I planted an apple tree and blueberry, raspberry and blackberry plants.  Hopefully the person that I hire to mow doesn't take them out in the 2nd week like the guy I had last year.  They managed to take out a cat cement statute on my deck too.  This is why they are not returning. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

French bread

Proust had his madeleines; I am devastated by the scent of yeast bread rising.  ~Bert Greene
I'm not sure why I'm in a carb frame of mind lately.  Maybe it's just because I brought the bread maker up from storage in the basement and I'm too lazy to take it back down. 

4  cups bread flour
2 tsp sea salt
2 1/4 tsp quick rising active dry yeast
1 tsp  honey
1 tsp extra light virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup warm water

1. Put all ingredients together into your bread machine and put on dough setting.

2. When the cycle has completed,  roll out and put on greased jelly roll pan stretched out.

3. Put knife cuts 1/4" deep every inch and let rest for a half hour.

4. Brush butter on top when it's done baking.

Bake for 30 minutes at 325°F

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Another beautiful day

And I hope the weather forecasters are wrong and it won't rain for the next 4 days.  To celebrate the sunshine, I did plant 2 blueberry plants and some seeds for watermelon, squash and sunflowers.  We'll see if I should stick to herbs.  I also grilled some ribs for a short while.  I had started them in the crock pot this morning.

The seasonings in this recipe are enough for 2 pounds of ribs.  Adjust accordingly.

6 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper freshly ground
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp oregano
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
2 pounds ribs, cut into individual ribs (I kept them in 4-6 rib portions this time)

1. Mix all the spices in a large zipper bag.  Add in ribs and shake.  Let sit for at least an hour to overnight.

2. Place ribs in a crock pot on high heat for 1 hour.

3. Mix together honey and raspberry vinegar in a saucepan and heat until runny.  Pour over ribs and turn down heat to low for at least 2 hours.

Here's what they looked like out on the grill ~

Easy morning sausage & biscuits n' gravy bake

1 pound breakfast sausage, cooked
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk, 2% works fine
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans country style or buttermilk biscuits

1. Brown sausage.  When cooked, stir in flour until the sausage is coated.  Gradually stir in milk.  Let thicken and season to taste.

2. Line a greased casserole dish with biscuits, making sure all the seams are pressed together.  Ladle sausage mixture on top.

3. Bake until the biscuits turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle your favorite cheese on top.  I used a shredded marble jack.

Servings: 8

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Oven Temperature: 350°F

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sausage & Cheese Phyllo Packets

The sun is shining and it finally looks like Spring outside.  Here's a recipe that I made to use up the other half pound of hot Italian sausage from the other day.

1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, browned and excess fat drained off
16 sheets phyllo pastry sheets defrosted according to package directions
6 tbsp butter melted
1/2 cup Cranberry & chipotle cheese

1. Cook Italian sausage and let cool so you can handle without burning your fingers.  Cut sheets of phyllo dough in half and keep under a damp towel so they do not dry out.  Take 2 sheets of phyllo dough at a time and brush on melted butter, repeat until you have 4 sheets per packet.  Put 1-2 tbsp cooked sausage and an equal amount of cheese in the middle of the bottom edge of dough. 

Wrap up by folding up into a triangle corner and keep repeating until you are at the top of the sheet, all the sausage and cheese should be contained in the packet.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush top with melted butter.  Continue until all of the sausage has been used up.

2. Bake until a light golden color.

Servings: 8
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Oven Temperature: 325°F

I'm heading back outside now to enjoy the nice weather while it lasts.  Have a good evening ~

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Honey Bread

The snow still lingers around the edges of the lawn so it was a perfect day to bake a loaf of bread and make the house smell absolutely wonderful.

Honey Bread

2  cups bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp  sugar
1 1/2 tsp quick rising active dry yeast
2 tsp extra virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp honey
3/4 cup warm water

1. This is the procedure for using a bread machine on the dough setting.  Put in all the dry ingredients.  Add in olive oil, honey and then warm water.  Let machine run the dough cycle.

2. Remove dough from machine, roll and stretch out and place on greased pan.

3. Let rise for 1 hour. 
Cut in grooves 1/4" deep and approximately 1" apart.

4. Place in oven for 25 minutes.  Remove and brush with butter or honey butter and place back in oven for another 5 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F

Sunday morning breakfast muffins

I just discovered hot Italian sausage a few years ago and have been creating recipes to use it whenever I can.  Since the weather is keeping me indoors once again, I put Stones Voodoo Lounge in my cd player and mixed up a batch of these ~

Italian Sausage & Cheese Muffins

1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, browned and excess fat drained off
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter melted
1 cup milk
1 large egg slightly beaten
3/4 cup cheddar cheese shredded

1. Mix together dry ingredients.  Gradually add in milk, butter and egg.  Add in cooled Italian sausage and cheese.

2. Grease standard or large muffin pans and fill each cup 2/3 cup.

3. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from cups.

Servings: 12

Oven Temperature: 350°F 

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.