Thursday, June 30, 2011

Something for entertaining this holiday weekend ~

This got rave reviews at work this week ~

Chili Cheese Ball

1 8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups marble jack cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ancho chile pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp green chili peppers, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts or pecans, finely chopped
2 dashes hot sauce

Mix together softened cream cheese and marble jack cheese.  Add in all of the spices, peppers and hot sauce.  Shape into a ball shape in bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigeratel for 2 hours.  Remove and roll in chopped peanuts or pecans.

Return to refrigerator.  Remove 15 minutes before serving.

Have a safe holiday weekend!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Movie inspired dinner

Ever since I watched the movie Seems Like Old Times with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase, I have been obsessed with a meal they served ~ Chicken Pepperoni.  I have bought countless chicken cookbooks in search of the recipe and finally started trying to make it on my own about 5 years ago.  I have no idea if I got it similiar or not but finally this is the effort that I'm keeping a recipe on.

Chicken Pepperoni

3 tbsp extra light virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 28 ounce crushed tomatoes
3 ounces tomato paste
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup wine
3 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
2 pounds Chicken breasts -- boned and skinned
2 cups  V8 juice
3 ounces pepperoni
3 ounces mushrooms, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste

Sautè garlic and onions in olive oil.  Add in tomato paste, V8 and crushed tomatoes with spices and honey.

Add in your favorite wine and let simmer.

Lightly sautè pepperoni.  Drain on paper towels.  Brown chicken breast strips lightly seasoned with pepper.

Add pepperoni and chicken to sauce and let simmer until ready to serve.

I served it on linguine but any pasta will work fine.  Add freshly grated Parmesan on top.

Servings: 8

Off to find inspiration from the movies.  Have a good evening.

Italian Herb Bread

Another rainy afternoon so it was a good day to revive the bread maker.  I'm trying to create a new meal for dinner so I made this bread to compliment it~

Italian Herb Bread

3 cups bread flour
2 1/2 tsp bread machine active dry yeast
1/4 cup milk powder
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp basil
1 1/4 cup water, lukewarm

Put all of the ingredients into a bread machine and select white bread cycle, light or just put on dough selection and bake in a regular loaf pan.  Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.

Edited to add ~ this makes an awesome grilled cheese sandwich.

For adults only icing ~

Today's first recipe is for a Mascarpone Baileys Caramel icing.

3/4 cup whipping cream
4 oz Mascarpone
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp Baileys with Caramel

Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form.  Add in Mascarpone and powdered sugar.  Add in Baileys and ice your favorite cake.  Makes enough for 24+ cupcakes.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Homemade Calzones

This falls into the comfort food category.  I considered ordering one the other night (which I should have instead of the Chinese food) but opted to wait until I could make my own and I'm glad that I did.

I used the rapture crust and sauce recipes from in May ~ 

Divide the crust into 4 portions.  Let rise and then roll out into round circles on a floured surface.  I braised a chicken breast with just salt and pepper, cut up 2 oz prosciutto, sliced baby button mushrooms, used fresh mozzeralla and 2 tablespoons of the pizza sauce in each bottom half of the calzone circle.  Fold over top and crimp edges with your fingers.  Take one egg and stir until mixed and brush over dough or you can use olive oil.

Bake at 350°F for a half hour and enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dear Chinese Restaurant,

We've had a long, tumultuous relationship.  I forgave you for hiring the delivery driver without a license or insurance and kept him employed after he hit a friends car and it was reported to you that he lacked these essential things to drive. 

I forgave you for sending my food out with a 1 1/2" washer in it and your disbelief that it wasn't my fault (I was leery of what you might have done to the replacement beef lo mein). 

I cannot forgive food poisoning.  It was a stressful evening with trying to get my Tivo hooked up with the cable company here and no success.  This thing is going to cost a small fortune to hook up I can tell.  But I opted to order food in.  We ended our relationship at 2:30 this morning.  I could call you and let you know but I'm sure you would think it's my fault and this time you're right.  It is because I gave you so many chances.  This does give me the opportunity to learn how to cook Chinese food on my own so I thank you for that.

To put the past behind me, I did cook tonight.  Something easy and it's what I should have done last night.

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

1 1/2 cups  flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2  tbsp sugar
4 tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 cup blueberries

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  In another bowl, mix together the butter, ricotta cheese, orange juice, milk and lemon extract.  Gradually add liquid mixture to dry ingredients.  Add in blueberries.

Heat oiled griddle to medium heat and ladle a small amount of batter to desired size.

Servings: 20

So easy and I have some for lunch tomorrow and have added to my supply of I need a quick dinner from the freezer to microwave.

Farewell my Chinese delivery.  When it was good, it was really good.  But when it was bad, it was really bad.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's raining, it's pouring...

And it was close to I'm not cooking but calling in for delivery.  Very close.  I was thinking calzone with spicy chicken and prosciotto.  Then I thought that sounds like something I want to create in my own kitchen.  I also remembered the last time I ordered from this restaurant that I ended up making uncomplimentary comments about it on Twitter (not naming them, I'm not a paid critic). 

Seriously.  If you advertise a dessert as a homemade chocolate turtle tort make sure it is homemade, not a Sandra Lee semi-homemade disaster.  It turned out to be a graham cracker crust, check aisle three, chopped pecans, aisle three also.  Torte, aka mousse mix, how convenient same grocery aisle and let's grab some caramel ice cream topping, Hershey's syrup and Cool Whip in aisle seven.  They could have gone to Sam's Club and gotten something as equally "homemade". 

So I went into the kitchen and popped in a .38 Special cd since the Avenged Sevenfold case was empty and made this soup ~

Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup

1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk, 2% works fine
4 medium potatoes, diced
2 cups ham, cubed
1 1/2 cups Pepper Jack cheese, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Heat broth and milk.  Add in potatoes and cook until almost tender.  Add in ham and cook for another 10 minutes.  Add in cheese and stir until melted.  Add in paprika, salt and pepper.

Servings: 8

I would have taken a picture but who hasn't seen potato soup?  I suppose I could have garnished it with a sprig of parlsey.  I didn't.  Next time.  Especially the calzone that I want to try making. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In honor of national peanut butter cookie day

I did go back into the woman cave and baked these to share ~

Peanut butter & chocolate chip cookies

1/2 cup  butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup quick-cooking oats

Cream together butter, shortening, peanut butter and sugars.  Add in eggs and vanilla.  Mix in flour, baking soda and salt.   Gradually add in oats and chocolate chips.

Scoop or spoon drop onto parchment lined baking sheets.

Watch carefully - these like to burn.

Servings: 72

Oven Temperature: 320°F

Maybe I should make this picture into a jigsaw puzzle. 


So good

I love food pampering.  And even more, I love when I have leftovers to take for lunches to work.  My favorite thing to love is my dishwasher because it will be running in a few minutes after my breakfast and lunch dishes fill it.

Pasta e Fagioli

2 tbsp extra light virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 medium onion finely chopped
3 oz pancetta
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz Cannellini beans
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
2 cups Ditalini, cooked
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese freshly grated

Heat olive oil in bottom of large saucepan.  Add in garlic, onion and pancetta and cook until soft.  Add in chicken broth and cannelli.

Cook pasta.  As that is cooking add in spices and tomatoes to broth mixture.

Drain pasta and add to broth.  Do  not rinse.

Let sit in sauce for a few minutes before serving.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan.

Servings: 6

One of my favorite things to do is smash garlic with my chef's knife and then mincing.  Onions not so much since they normally dry out my eyes.  This recipe let me have fun and the aroma of both in the kitchen are worth the dry eyes.
Back to the kitchen to fill the dishwasher.  I cannot make another entree but maybe some bread or a dessert...

Sunday morning treat

Another rainy morning.  I thought a nice fruit salad would be a great way to brighten it up and have a fun breakfast.

Couscous Fruit Salad

3/4 cup couscous
3/4 cup  blueberries(fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup  peaches, peeled and diced (fresh or frozen)
4 oz mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon extract

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Add in couscous, remove from the burner and cover for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and let cool.  In a large mixing bowl, whip cream and add in mascarpone cheese, lemon extract and powdered sugar.  Stir in couscous.  Gently fold in peaches and blueberries.

It's a little taste of summer.  You remember it was those 2 days that happened last week before it turned back into early spring again...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Comfort food

Everyone needs to turn to their favorite comfort food occasionally.  I've been fighting off coming down with a cold for the last few days so I decided to treat myself.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can Cream of chicken soup
2 medium chicken breasts, cooked
1/2 stalk celery cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup carrots peeled and diced
1/2 cup green beans, cooked, drained
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 deep dish pie crust, baked

Cook chicken broth and can of Cream of chicken soup until thickened.  Add in chicken and vegetables.

Pour carefully into baked pie crust.

Cover with mashed potatoes.  You can pipe it on for a fancier look or just use it like a icing.

Servings: 8

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Oven Temperature: 325°F

I even have to laugh at the picture.  I couldn't find my normal piping tips so I improvised using my cookie press. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grillin' time

It was indoor grilling due to the fact it's 92 degrees out and I'm out of propane.  I've finally fully restocked my refrigerator so here's my first attempt at grilled pineapple ~

So about those was the only small cookie cutter that I could find to cut a hole in the middle.  Honest!  I will buy a real pineapple cutter soon.  I did find some other weird utensils that I've picked up over the years and as soon as I have my website up and running I'll hold a contest for name that mystery product.  I won't have a contest to figure out why I've held on to it for so long because even I don't know the answers.

I did make a light dipping sauce for the pineapple and the peaches that will be next ~

1 cup vanilla yogurt (low-fat or regular)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp honey

As Ina Garten would say ~ how easy is that?  Oh, the pineapple slices are 1/4" thick and they were grilled until heated through on each side.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Just a quickie ~

Even though trying to make ingredients come together in my kitchen is like a episode of Chopped (which is one of my favorite cooking shows), I did manage to come up with a dessert.

The bottom is just a plain biscuit that was dunked in a cinnamon & sugar mixture and baked in a muffin tin.  The next layer is strawberry sauce.  Nothing too special until you get to the top ~

Mascarpone topping ~

1 - 8 oz container of mascarpone
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup strawberries

Just mix together and top away.

It turned out to be not such a nice way to end the long weekend.

The food portion of the weekend was excellent it was the weather that appeared after my last blog that wasn't as pleasant.  About 9 p.m. that night, my area was hit by 90-100 mph winds that took down trees and took out the power.  Scary times in the basement and I was in the dark trying to see out the window while texting a friend on the west coast as to what was happening. 
Unfortunately, I was in an area in town that the electricity was out for 36 hours.  It was one of those kept thinking "oh, the power will be back soon".  That just didn't happen.  I did get to spend some quality time with my sump pump though. 
I did restock the contents of my refrigerator and freezer somewhat but have been frustrated at every attempt to create something new this weekend.  I do have an easy recipe to share from my cookbook.

Very Berry Sauce
This is a great dessert or pancake topping,

1 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup blueberries(fresh or frozen)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional but I like a little kick)
1/4 cup vodka

Mix all ingredients together in sauce pan,  Add sugar to taste,  Cook until reduced.

I am thankful that I still have a house without a tree on it, great neighbors, an understanding boss and a friend that doesn't realize that the texts during the storm helped me remain calm.  Or maybe he does.  I have lots of ideas for recipes and promise I'll be back up in top cooking form and with the right combination of grocery supplies within the next few days.