Monday, January 15, 2018

Chick-Fil-a Knockoff Sandwiches

This is the second time I have made this sandwich.  I found an online recipe and am making adjustments each time because, though it's good and has characteristics that resemeble Chick-fil-A, it's not an exact replica. I made these for the playoff weekend football games on Sunday when Chick-fil-A is normally closed.  I will say though, it's tasty and darn close enough that I will continue to make them.  

I bought 2 Large Boneless Chicken Breasts for $1.99 a pound and it netted 10 filets, so overall, not bad at about $.35 each for the chicken.

Recipe to come.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Baked Cheesy Stuffed Paccheri

I made this recipe up.  I wanted to make a different presentation than what I have done in the past.  I used to get large penne pasta from World Market in Lousiana and loved them, but they stopped carrying them.  I was in a World Markets in NC and found Paccheri that can worked just as well, so I'm back in business! 

Recipe to come soon!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Mini Baked Crab and Corn Dip Cups

I better put this in here before I forget what I did!!  I bought 8oz of Fresh Crab Meat and a 1 package of Wonton Wrappers and that was enough to inspire me to make up this finger food which was served during the Wild Card NFL games.  I made 24 cups and had enough filling to make an additional 8-10.  

Peel and cook in boiling water 2 Ears of Fresh Corn for 2 minutes and quickly rinse in cold water.  Remove corn from cob.  Place in bowl. 

Beat 3 oz Cream Cheese with 1/2 Cup Sour Cream.  Beat in 1 Egg.  Mix in 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese.  I used fresh, already grated Parmesan but you can kicked it up if you want to grate your own.  Add Salt & Pepper to taste and 1/2 tsp Thyme, 1/4 tsp Paprika.  Stir in Corn and 8 oz Crab, lump is best but don't get claw meat  

Preheat oven to 375.  Melt 2 Tbl Butter.  Using a Cooking Spray, lightly coat the cups of a mini 24 cup pan.  Using a biscuit cutter, cut 24 Wontons in rounds.  Add a wonton to each cup and butter the inside with melted butter.  Add filling until just slightly below the top of the cup, these will rise a little.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the filling looks set and the cups are browned.  Serve at once.  

NOTE: You can add either sauteed Minced Shallots or thinly sliced Scallions to the mixture for additional flavor.  I opted to go without but next time I will add one of them.  The crab flavor is more prominent without these flavors.  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Linguine Carbonara

We had 2 snow days which has extented our New Year Holiday and left me motivated to try some new dishes! I figured Pasta Carbonara is perfect dish for a cold winter night.  

This one was pictured in Williams-Sonoma's Christmas catalog and caught my eye.  They used to print the recipes within the pages but now you have to go online and their test kitchen posts all of their ideas in their recipe section.  I had to do a bit of hunting but finally located the one I was looking for.

They used a fat spaghetti shape and I used Linguine.  I think both are suitable.  I read all the time about adding reserved pasta water to dishes but this is the first time I actually did it.  My family competely loved this dish and I can still imagine the delicious flavors, even now, so needless to say, this recipe is a keeper!  

I served it with a simple salad but you can pair this with all manner of things, a Grilled Veal or Pork Chop, Ribs, Boneless Chicken Breast, Italian Sausage, Cheese Toast, even Seared Scallops, but you get the idea, it's versatile! I can even invision adding Orange Zest to this dish for a new dimension.

This makes 4 servings and in my household more like 3 because 1 person, whom we shall not name, ate 2 of them!  Cut 6 Slices of Thick Smoked Bacon Crosswise into 1/2" Lardons.  (NOTE: Lardons are my new favorite Bacon shape!)  

In a preheated skillet, cook Bacon, stirring often, until crispy.  In the meantime, get a pot of water boiling for pasta and ready 2 Cloves of Garlic in the garlic press.  In a bowl, beat 2 Eggs and add 3/4 Cups Parmesan Cheese.  Mince 1 Tbl Fresh Parsley.  Once you remove the cooked bacon, press the garlic into the bacon fat and cook til fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and add to the dish with the bacon.  

When ready, cook 12 Oz Pasta til al dente and reserve about 1/2 Cup of Pasta Water.  Strain pasta and return to the pot.  Add the Egg and Parmesan Cheese mixture.  Toss to coat until cheese is melted.  Add pasta water as needed to create a sauce that just coats the pasta.  Top with the Bacon, Garlic and place in Pasta Serving Platter.  Serve onto pasta plates, grate additional Parmesan to order and top with parsley and freshly ground salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Scratch Made Green Bean Bake

My sister, D, served green bean bake on Christmas.  Truth be told, after leaving home I never once made this dish nor had a hankering for it, nor have I ever even bought French's Crispy Fried Onions.   It was never my favorite dish when my mother made it, but when I saw my sister's version, it looked different from what I recalled and it definitely smelled better.  When it was served, it was the first thing I tasted and it was awesome.

I asked her about it and she said they made it from scratch.  Hers didn't have mushrooms and I couldn't find a recipe that omitted them.  I got in my head how I would make a quick sauce but came across recipes with cheese and really all manner of twists depending on what direction the recipe went.  With that, I called her to find out what she did.  There wasn't cheese in hers but there were some other ingredients that gave the dish flavor and though she didn't have mushrooms, she thought she would add them next time.

This is my made up version of scratch made green bean bake.  String 12 oz Green Geans and blanche for 1 minute, rinse in cold water when done.  Butter a casserole dish.  Remove stem and clean and dice 6 oz Baby Bellla Mushrooms.  Slice thinly 1 Medium Shallot.   I made my sauce in a low sided pot, large enough for everything before pouring it into the casserole dish. Heat a pot over medium heat.  Add 1 Tbl Olive Oil and 1 Tbl Butter.  Add shallots and mushroom and sautee for 3 minutes til tender.  Dust with 2 Tbl Flour and stir.  Add 2 Tbl Sherry.  Let the alcohol evaporate, about 1 minute.  Add 3/4 Cups Chicken Broth and cook for about 5 minutes, letting the sauce thicken without allowing it too boil, but it should bubble gently.  Add 2 tsp Worchestershire Sauce, I like Lea and Perrins.  Add 1/3 Cup Half and Half.  Let cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the beans and stir to coat and pour into prepared casserole dish.  Top with French's Crispy Fried Onions.  

Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 25 minutes until bubbling.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

I have a growing teen and though my husband and I had a serving each, our teen ate the rest.  So this can serve 4 but next time I plan to double the recipe.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Salty Pretzel Crust Cheesecake with Homemade Caramel Sauce

I had a hankering for a pretzel crust instead of the usual Graham Craker Crust.  Then I decided a caramel sauce would make a nice sauce instead of a berry sauce.  I'm bring this to my sister D's for Christmas dessert tonight.  Recipe and photos to come.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

From Valerie's Kitchen - Leek and Bacon Flatbread

I caught an episode of Valerie's Kitchen and she made a simple flatbread for a party.  The ingredients sounded very good together and the results were amazing!  I normally make my own dough but I found a 1 Pound Ball of Fresh Whole Wheat Dough at the store on sale for $1 (normally $2.99), so I couldn't pass it up. It made two flatbreads.  

When we ski in Park City, we eat at a restaurant called the Silve Star Cafe.  They sell something like this at lunch for around $12 and I've had it many times.  I never thought to make my own but now I will. 

Either make your favorite dough and let proof or remove store bought dough from the refriegerator and place in an olive oiled bowl to proof - coat the dough lightly with oil.  Cover with wrap and place in a warm location.  It should take a least an hour rise and should double in size. 

In the meantime, remove the roots from 2 Medium Leeks.  Slice them thinnly until you get to the tougher dark green portion.  To an 8 oz containter of Creme Fraiche add Freshly Ground Nutmeg to season.  Saute the Leeks til tender.  Cut 6 Slices of thick Bacon into lardons (1/2" cuts along the short dimension) and sautee until crispy.  Grate 4 oz Gruyere Cheese.  

For the Flatbread.  Preheat over to 425.  Cut dough ball in half and roll it thinnly keeping its oblong shape.  I like to use a pastry cloth dusted with flour to keep it from sticking.  Take a large sheet pan and turn it over.  Place the dough on the pan diagonally. Top with 1/2 of the Creme Fraiche.  Add 1/2 of the Grated Gruyere.  Add desired amount of leeks and bacon.  Grind Salt and Pepper to taste.  Bake in oven until the crust is golden and cheese browned slightly.  Remove from oven and drizzle with good quality Olive Oil.  

For Vegetarian, change up the toppings to suit your diet.

(Depending on what type you make, you can add things like Freshly Grated Parmesan, Red Pepper Flakes, Dried Oregano, Fresh Basil, etc).  Let rest for a few minutes and cut  diagonally as pictured.  Serve at once!

New Orleans Barbeque Shrimp on Baked Lemon Risotto Rounds

 Recipe to come!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Turkey Vegetable Soup

I've never done this before; traditionally we make Tetrazzini with our leftover turkey but this turned out delicious and made just over 3 quarts of soup - enough to have now for a few meals and also to freeze for a meal later. 

In a very large pot, over medium heat, add 2 TBL Olive Oil and sweat 1 Medium Sliced Onion and 2 Stalks of Celery, rinsed with the ends cut off and cut into 1" lengths.  Break or cut Turkey Carcass (hopefully with some meat left on it) into 3 or 4 peices.  Add the pieces to the pot.  Add Approximately 3 Quarts Chicken Broth until covered.  I topped with water so I didn't have to open another quart of broth.  Simmer with the lid off for around 35-45 minutes.  Strain the broth into a smaller pot.  Let the turkey cool so you can handle it and remove all the turkey from the bones and place in the broth.  Disgard everything else.  

You can freeze some or all at this point and you will finish it when you are ready to eat.  It was cold out, so placed my pot on my porch in order to cool quickly and to remove some of the fat, then froze some of the soup for a later meal. 

If having now (and when you thaw to use), simmer pot of Broth and Turkey.  Add 3/4 Cup Basmati Rice for 2 quarts of soup and let it cook in the broth til almost done.  In the meantime, rinse, remove ends and cut 1/2 lb Fresh Green Beans into 1" lengths and add these to the pot.   Peel and cut 2 Large Carrots to a 1/4" dice and add these to the pot.  Add 1 Cup of Frozen Peas to the pot.  Season with Salt and Pepper.  Really you can add what you want in the quantities you prefer.  

Once the vegetables are done serve with a Salad and Warm Crusty Bread or a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fresh Pumpkin Cupcakes

I love baking with fresh pumpkin.  Though I've only done it once, I prefer it to canned pumpkin.  The color is just gorgeous.  After buying souped-up Candy Apples at the NC State Fair, I decided to make cupcakes this weekend and decorate them in a variety of ways.  

Yesterday, I removed seeds and peeled the skin away from the pumpkin using a sharp knife
and then cut the flesh into large chunks.  I steamed the Pumpkin for about 10-15 minutes til tender and then once cooled, pressed the chucks through my ricer.  If you don't own a ricer, you can always mash.  This made enough for 24 Cupcakes, I froze 2 cups for a Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie, and still have enough to make cookies or pancakes.  A medium Pumpkin netted about 5 Cups for Pumpkin and cost $3 at a farmers stall.

Preheat oven to 375. 

In a mixing bowl, add 2 Sticks Butter (Room Temperature).  Add 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Pumpkin, 1 tsp Vanilla, and 1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar.  Mix until smooth.  

To a bowl add 2 3/4 Cups Flour (NOTE: this will vary depending on how wet the batter is and how humid it is), 1 Tbl Baking Powder, 3/4 tsp Salt and 2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice.   Stir with a wire whip to combine.  Measure out 3/4 Cup Milk.  Add flour and milk to pumpkin mixture, alternating, flour and milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  

In a separate bowl, beat 3 Eggs until combined, add 1 1/2 Cups Sugar and mix on high until light ribbons and fold into batter.   

Ready muffin tins with foil liners.  Using a scoop, fill tin 2/3 full.  Place in hot oven and immediately reduce oven to 350.  Bake for 20-22 minutes.

Let cool before icing.

For Meringue Icing.  Set up double boiler using a bowl that will fit into a pot of simmering water.  To the bowl add, 3 Egg Whites, 1/2 Cup Cold Water, 1 tsp Cream of Tartar, and  1 TBL Sugar.  Place bowl into the pot and using a hand mixer, beat on high for about 15 minutes til whites "cook" by warming and hold their peak when you remove the beaters.  Once firm peaks are formed, remove bowl from the pot and place in an ice bath to chill.  Beat every few minutes until cool.  

Fill a pastry bag fitted with the desired tip and frost the cooled cupcakes.   Top as desired.  I used a variety of small candy as well as toffee peices and sprinkles.