Monday, December 26, 2011

Steak Panini w/a Chipotle Mayonnaise

Are you all tired of me yet? We had left over steak from our last night's raviolis. My parents bought us a Cuisinart Griddler as a Christmas present, with a waffle attachment. We thought we would try it out tonight. We went to the store and bought a loaf of sour dough bread and sliced it and decided to make a panini with the left over steak from last night. I whipped up some chipotle mayonnaise and bought a few other things and the panini we made was mm mm good. That Griddler was awesome! It worked perfectly and the absolute wonderful thing about it, is the fact that it is dishwasher safe..hubba hubba! But seriously, I hope you enjoy the sammy!

Leftover steak, sliced as thinly as possible
Fresh spinach, enough to cover bread
Red pepper, sliced
Tomato, sliced
Brie, spreadable cheese

Chipotle Mayonnaise:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp barbecue sauce
1 tsp Chipotle seasoning
1 tsp chili powder

Mix all seasonings together well.

For the sandwich, on one side of the bread, spread the brie cheese, and layer all ingredients. On the other side, spread the Chipotle mayonnaise. Put the sandwich together and put on the griddle.Grill until the cheese has been melted. The sandwich was fantastic.

"Steak Dinner" Ravioli's w/a Pomodoro Sauce

As those of you who have been following this little blog of mine may know, we began a Christmas tradition a few years back when my parents came to visit. We made homemade raviolis and so far every year we have continued with this tradition. Each year I try to come up with a different filling and a different sauce. This year, I got the bright idea to make a steak dinner inside my raviolis. Since there was going to be so much going on inside, I didn’t want a sauce that would over power so I made a simple Pomodoro sauce. Oh my word…pure heaven! I hope you all enjoy. I will say this as well…grant it the mess is a killer, you end up with flour glue over every inch of your kitchen, but if you ever get the chance to make homemade raviolis, do it! There is nothing like them!

Standard pasta dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 To make the pasta dough: In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to mix. Drizzle in 1 tablespoons of the olive oil and continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Sprinkle some flour on work surface, knead and fold the dough until elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes .

Pomodoro Sauce:

2 pkg crimini mushrooms, sliced
10 shallots, diced
3 elephant garlic bulbs, diced (you can use regular garlic, and I would estimate about 8 cloves)
25 Tomatoes, smashed, skin and seeds removed
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in olive oil)
3 tbsp thyme
3 tbsp oregano
3 tbsp basil
3 tbsp sage
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock (I didn’t have beef stock)
2 small cans, tomato paste

You can of course use canned tomatoes, but my hubby bought me a birthday present that I wanted to try out. He knows I am into canning and to make it easier on me, he bought me a Weston Roma Deluxe Electric Tomato Strainer, which is so going to help me when I start canning next year. We went through approximately 25 tomatoes in about 10 minutes. Last year, trying to blanch, peel and seed 25 tomatoes, would have taken me about 45 minutes.

Slice and dice all of your veggies.

In a dutch oven, heat up about 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté till translucent. Add the garlic and continue sautéing. Add all spices and mix thoroughly. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 – 7 minutes. Deglaze with the red wine. Add the chicken stock and the juice from your tomatoes.  Stir in your tomato paste and the sun-dried tomatoes. Bring up to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Let cook for about 6 – 8 hours. The sauce went from being watery to a thick rich beautiful sauce.

Filling for the Ravioli

1 chuck roast, marinaded
Standard Steak Marinade (click here for marinade)
2 ½ large onions, sliced
2 cups spinach, blanched
2 4oz containers of blue cheese

Marinade the chuck roast for about 2 hours prior to grilling. Grill on medium heat until the meat is medium well. You don’t want bloody meat for your raviolis. Bring in and let the meat rest so the juices will redistribute. While the meat is resting, in a cast iron skillet, heat up about 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add all of your sliced onions. Let sauté for about 45 minutes on medium heat, until they become a nice golden brown. This is known as caramelizing.

While the onions are sautéing, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add your spinach and let cook for about 2 – 3 minutes. Remove immediately and drain. When the onions have caramelized, in a food processor, add your onions and spinach and pulse until chopped finely. Pour out mixture into a large mixing bowl. Slice up your meat, add that to the food processor and pulse until well chopped as well. Add that to the onion, spinach mixture and mix until well blended. Fold in your two containers of blue cheese and mix until well blended. 
Looks a little gross, but I can tell you the taste was out of this world!

Now you can begin putting your raviolis together. Take some of your pasta dough and roll out until you get it to your desired thickness, and with a pizza cutter, make two pieces. We started out putting egg wash on both sides, but found it wasn't sticking well, so we ended up only egg washing one side. On the other side, with a small spoon add your mixture. Take the egg washed sided and cover your filling and with either a biscuit cutter or whatever other device you are using, cut your beautiful little raviolis! Enjoy everyone!!

My weapon of choice...biscuit cutters, you can choose whatever size you want.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blueberry Preserves Thumbprint Cookies

Well I hope you all are having a wonderful time spending it with your families! I know I am. I am wishing my parents and Dave's kids and dad could be here as well, but alas they are unable to be this year. So we are getting geared up for our annual Ravioli fest! This year is going to be an interesting one, with a "steak dinner" inside our little ravioli's. I know y'all must think I am nuts, but that is okay, I can't wait to try them. I will post the recipe tomorrow, along with pictures. But today is my desserts. I am getting ready to make some fudge, and before I do that, I wanted to use up some homemade preserves that I made this past summer. We went blueberry picking and I made some blueberry preserves. I added just a hint of cinnamon in the preserves and they are just sweet enough to be perfect! So I decided to whip up some of those cute little thumbprint cookies! Hope you all enjoy.

1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup white sugar
your favorite jelly or preserves (I used my homemade blueberry)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix thoroughly the butter, brown sugar, egg yolk and the vanilla. Work in the flour and salt until it becomes a dough consistency. Shape dough into 1 inch balls, I used a 1 inch ice cream scooper. In a small bowl, pour the white sugar. Dip the top into the sugar and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Press thumb deeply into the center of each cookie. Repeat. I was able to get about 24 cookies out of the dough.

Bake for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Fill the centers with your preserves. Return the cookies back into the oven and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cookies are slightly brown.

Immediately remove from baking sheet.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pork Loin w/Orange and Honey Sauce

Tonight was clean out the fridge night. My dear hubs bought me a fridge for my birthday present. Now some of you may think WHAT...a present...a fridge...but for those of you who know me that was the best present you could have ever given me. We are SLOWLY redoing our kitchen and the fridge was the next in line to go. So we are having to get rid of as much as we can so we can replace our old one tomorrow. It is very exciting times my friends!! Very exciting times!! Well tonight I pulled out a pork loin from the freezer and pulled a whole bunch of veggies from the fridge. I went for an oriental theme since what I pulled was a bunch of peppers, Brussels sprouts, and I even had oranges. So I hope you all enjoy!!

1 pork loin, seared
1 red onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 pkg mushrooms, diced
9 – 10 Brussels sprouts, halved
6 cloves garlic, sliced

5 cuties, juiced
½ cup Kikkoman Ponzu sauce
1 tbsp Oriental Hot chili sauce
1 tsp oriental hot mustard
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp pickled ginger, minced
3 dehydrated oranges, chopped finely

For the sauce, in a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. You can go easier on the “hot stuff” per your taste buds, but my family likes it on the spicy side. Mix to taste. If you find something is missing, add a bit more until you get it to the flavor you wish. Above is the exact measurements I used and we loved it! Sear the pork loin on all sides in a cast iron or a non-stick skillet and deglaze with about ½ cup chicken stock. Add all of the chopped veggies into the slow cooker and nestle the seared pork loin into the middle of the veggies. Pour the chicken stock over the pork and veggies and also your sauce. Set the crock pot to 6 hours.

Oranges, Meyers Lemons, Limes, Oh My!!

I actually saw this idea off another blog I follow and fell in love! I am a novice when it comes to canning, preserving, dehydrating, and follow a number of blogs religiously. I happened upon one blog that suggested dehydrating citrus (Food in Jars), and when drinking water, toss one in. As the citrus rehydrates, it releases a gentle flavor into your water. Well...I am hooked. Meyers lemons are my absolute favorite, and you can only get them certain times of the year. My local grocery store currently has them on sale for $0.39 a lb and I felt like I won the lottery! Now mind you I don't have a huge dehydrator, but I do have two of them. My weapon of choice is the Nesco American Harvest Snackmaster Encore Dehydrator and I have had it for about 3 years now. One of these days I may decide to upgrade, but for now I adore it. It has served me well and is just perfect when I go to dehydrate tomatoes, fruit, etc. So with my huge score of Meyers lemons, I set out to dehydrate. I also got lucky with Limes. A previous post showed my dear hubs making me a key lime pie for my birthday. The recipe called for 1 cup of fresh lime juice, well, he ended up getting 14 limes, and only used 3. I also had oranges to use up so let's get to work!

Just slice the citrus the same width apart. You want them to finish drying as close to the same time as possible. Lay them out on your drying sheet and voila! Instant dry fruit that you can throw into your water.

I have actually been using them in recipes and will be posting a recipe later on today if it turns out good!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Meatballs w/Veggies Pasta

Probably about two months ago, we went to this HUGE candy store that specializes in novelty candies as well as other items, and purchased a bag of squid ink pasta. We have been dying to use it in a recipe and last night figured, what the heck. Now my idea of what I was going to be making was completely different then what we ended up doing, but it was still yummy. My vision, was a garlic seafood dish, with clams, mussels and a lemon, wine butter sauce. What we ended up with, as you can see from the pictures, was a far cry from my original idea, but I didn't want to go to the grocery store. Call it laziness, call it being frugal, I ended up working with what I had in the fridge!

2 lbs ground beef
½ cup bread crumbs
3 cloves black garlic
2 eggs
3 cups fresh spinach, blanched and chopped
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tbsp crushed red peppers
1 pkg crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups kale, chopped
2 cups white wine
3 cups chicken stock
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp sage
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chipotle
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the fresh spinach and blanch for about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove and drain completely. Chop. For the meatballs, in a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, including the spinach and mix well. Make about 1 ½ inch balls and set aside. In a large Dutch oven, drizzle extra virgin olive oil and bring up to medium heat. Place the meatballs in the oven and brown on all sides, making sure not to overcrowd. Cook for about 2 – 3 minutes on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside. In the drippings, add the onions and sauté till translucent. Add the garlic and the peppers. Sauté for about 5 – 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking till mushrooms are soft. Add the butter and let melt. Deglaze with the wine and make sure all of the bits from the meatballs have been scraped off the bottom. Add the chicken stock and all of the spices. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the kale and drop the meatballs back into the mix and let simmer for about 10 more minutes making sure the meatballs have cooked all the way through. Right before serving, SLOWLY mix in the grated Parmesan cheese, a bit at a time making sure to stir in completely, or it will seize on you and form a big clump. Server over pasta!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Key Lime Pie

My dear hubs made me a Key Lime Pie for my birthday "cake" this year. Some of you who know me know that I am not a big dessert person, but he pretty much said, this year I have to eat a birthday cake! One of my all time favorite desserts is key lime pie. If I go into a restaurant that has it...I drool all over the menu, but never order it. *Shrug* dunno why, just don't. So he had the bright idea to make the pie, then force feed it to me tonight! Mind you...after seeing these pics...whose complaining! Tee Hee. Now he borrowed the recipe from Emeril Lagasse from the Food Network's website, so I have attached the link as well, I mean you gotta give prop's where prop's are due right! But...MMMMM...can't wait to dig in tonight!

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (Hubs used a preformed graham cracker crust)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter) melted
2 (14-ounce) cans condensed milk
1 cup key lime or regular lime juice
2 whole eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
Once chilled, combine the sour cream and powdered sugar and spread over the top of the pie using a spatula. Sprinkle the lime zest as a garnish on top of the sour cream and serve chilled.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with your hands. Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan, and bake until brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before filling. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. In a separate bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs. Whisk until well blended and place the filling in the cooled pie shell. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

I had Andouille Sausage...I had Shrimp...and I had pickled some Okra this past summer after a trip to the farmers market...what to make...what to make. I love gumbo, creole, jambalaya anything New Orleans. You can pretty much find recipes out there for different styles, different flavors, but however you choose to make it, the stew/soup/meal will turn out excellent.
In order to make it, I had to use two different stocks, shrimp and chicken. Dave and I have this motto, we never throw anything away. All of our veggie scraps and chicken scraps (the carcass) gets put into freezer bags and periodically we make homemade chicken stock. So I used our homemade chicken stock for this recipe. Also, we do the same thing with the lil shrimp carcasses. Whenever we have shrimps, and we peel them, we save the peels and freeze those as well. So while you are preparing your veggies, you can actually start making your shrimp stock for this recipe. It is pretty much ready in no time and add such flavor to the recipe! However, if you can't be bothered, you can definitely use store bought!

Stock Ingredients:
2 pounds medium shrimp, with shells
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white wine
3 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Gumbo Ingredients
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 large red onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups kale, chopped
1 cup pickled okra, sliced
6 tbsp butter
3 tbsp corn starch
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle
1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
Reserved Shrimp stock (About 4 – 5 cups)
1 cup white wine
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1 pound andouille sausage, cut in
1/2-inch pieces
Peeled, deveined shrimp
Plain cooked white rice, for serving

For the shrimp stock, peel and de-vein the shrimp and reserve the shells. Refrigerate the shrimp until needed. In a saucepan or stockpot, add all ingredients but the water. Slowly add the water until ingredients are covered. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Skim impurities (i.e., scum) from top of stock and simmer for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Strain stock and reserve.
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the sliced andouille sausage and just sauté until almost done. Remove from the heat. Add the shrimp and sauté until just slightly translucent. Again, remove from the heat. Add a touch more oil if needed. Add the onions and cook till translucent. Add the garlic, all peppers and garlic. Sauté for about 7 – 8 minutes. Add salt and dry seasonings and garlic and stir to combine, cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add about 2 tbsp of butter and let melt.

Deglaze the bottom of the pan with the wine and the chicken stock. Add the reserved chicken stock and the diced tomatoes. Add the kale to the mixture and let simmer. In a coffee cup, take the remaining 4 tbsp of butter and the corn starch and mash the butter and cornstarch together until well blended. Pour the mixture into the gumbo and make sure you stir completely. This will help thicken the broth slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oreo Peppermint Truffles

My colleagues and I are participating in a cookie swap this Friday Dec 16th. I started surfing online to see if there was anything I was interested in making since I am not a big cookie fan and thanks to Kraft Foods website, I found this absolutely gorgeous recipes. I did not make any changes to it, and included the link directly to the recipe. Grant it, I am not a food artist, so mine do not look EXACTLY like their beautiful picture, but I think I came darn close if I do say so myself. My hubs had to sample a couple and he gave me the mmm mmm two thumbs up, so they passed the taste test! These lil buggers are easy to do and just absolutely beautiful. I found Chinese to-go boxes at Michael's and I am putting the little truffles in the boxes for the ladies! I hope you all try these.

6 candy canes, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup), divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (16.6 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

Reserve 1 Tbsp. chopped candy. Mix remaining candy with cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well blended. Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 min. Dip balls in melted chocolate; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan. Sprinkle with reserved candy. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicken, Kale and Potato Soup

Hi my friends, man it has been a long time since we have chatted. Forgive me! I have just been so overwhelmed, between work and the holidays, I have been neglecting my cooking! Mind you, I have still been cooking, just not recipes worthy enough to share with you. This one, however, has changed my mind!

As with all my recipes, I found a base recipe and changed it to my liking. Dave helped me with this one and we just adored it! I hope you do as well!

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups leeks, sliced
4 scallions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lbs mushrooms, sliced
1 cup corn, frozen or roasted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup dry white wine 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided or homemade chicken stock (I used our homemade)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled white potato (about 1 lb)
3 cups loosely packed torn kale (about 5 ounces)
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 6 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have been sweated and cooked through. Spoon leek mixture into a large bowl. Place 1/3 cup flour in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Heat remaining oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken mixture; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add browned chicken to leek mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken mixture, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.
Add wine to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Combine 1 cup broth and 1 tablespoon flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add broth mixture, remaining 2 cups broth, water, and mustard to pan; bring to a boil. Stir in chicken mixture, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in potato and corn. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in kale; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
I put in just a touch of Parmesan cheese in my bowl when I served this and the taste was heavenly!