Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken Meatball and Kale Soup

One of the things that I make the same way is meatballs. Whether it is beef, pork or chicken, they all have the same ingredients; Parmesan cheese, egg, breadcrumbs, spinach and garlic. I have found these are the tastiest and yummiest meatballs. I wanted to make a soup again, and I have a new found addiction to kale so I kinda made this up as I went along. I used our homemade chicken/veggie stock to make up the broth, but you can of course use boxed if that is all you have available. Either way, what you will end up with is a fantastically yummy soup!

Chicken meatballs

2 lbs ground chicken
½ cup bread crumbs
1 egg
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup cooked spinach, drained completely
2 tbsp minced garlic

2 heads flowering Kale, washed and chopped
1 pkg crimini mushrooms, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic
8 cups chicken stock, homemade or carton
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp sea salt (you may want to add more if you like a lot of salt)

Prep the vegetables and put them in a crock-pot. For the meatballs in a large mixing bowl, add the ground chicken, bread crumbs, egg, cheese, spinach and garlic. Mix thoroughly. Roll out about 1 to 1 ½ inch meatballs and place in the crock-pot. Pour the chicken stock over the veggies and meatballs. Add the thyme and sea salt. Set to high for 7 hrs.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crock-pot Enchiladas

I had a little mishap with my crock-pot and...well...we just want go there :(. But I will say, I got a brand spanking new one, Woot - A - Woot! Since my brand new little toy came into the house, I have been trying to come up with ideas for dinners. I have been using some ideas from my friends over at Crock-Pot Ladies to find some yummy recipes, as well as just making things up on the fly. I also have this tendency to keep my thinking inside the box when it comes to crock-pots...soups, stews, pot roasts. But you know, there is a whole un-tapped world out there of yummy dishes you can make in the crock-pot. I mean who would have thunk, enchiladas, whole enchiladas...anyhow I digress. These came out excellent. The tortillas were just a little chewy and although you didn't have the burnt cheese (you get that from baking), they were still just as yummy! I actually cooked my chicken to make these, but to save even more time, since you don't have to cook the veggies, you could use any leftover meat you have!

3 lbs ground lean chicken

3 tbsp chili con carne spice (I got this from Penzeys)
¼ cup chicken stock
10 yellow and orange mini peppers, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small can of black beans, rinsed
1 ½ jars of salsa
1 small can enchilada sauce
1 small package of Mexican cheese mix
1 pkg queso fresco
10 – 12 tortillas

In a skillet, brown the ground chicken. Add the chili con carne spice and the chicken stock and simmer till cooked. While the chicken is browning, prepare the vegetables. The onions and peppers should be cut rather small. You will be adding those in raw. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the peppers, onions, beans (that you have rinsed) and the chicken. Stir well.

In your crockpot, pour in some of the salsa on the bottom and make sure the bottom is covered with a thin layer. Start building your enchiladas. Take one tortilla and fill it with about 1/3 cup of the filling. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp of the cheese mix on top of the filling. Fold the sides in first, then start rolling the tortilla until you have a nice little package. Place seam side down into the crock-pot. Repeat and layer until you have created a 1st layer. Pour a thin layer of salsa over the bottom layer of enchiladas. Begin assembling your second layer, filling and cheese. I could only get 2 layers in my crock-pot and I had a little bit of filling left over. On the top, pour salsa and enchilada sauce over just enough to cover the enchiladas and top with some of the cheese mix and the queso fresco. Cook on the high setting for 4 hours.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Baked Pork Chops with Pickled Seckel Pears

Using the pickled seckel pears, we decided to bake some pork chops for dinner tonight. This was such an easy  and quick dinner. We started out by searing the porkchops on our griddle, instead of starting up our grill. We just placed the ingredients into a baking dish, made some quinoa with spinach and voila, a tasty and healthy meal for dinner!

4 boneless porkchops
5 pickled seckel pears, with juice
1 tbsp brown sugar

Sear the porkchops on a griddle at high heat. In a baking dish, lay the porkchops out. Pour the juice of the pears over the porkchops and lay the pears next to the chops. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the porkchops. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes.

Refrigerated Pickled Seckel Pears

In my Internet surfing journeys, I found a beautiful recipe for refrigerated pickled seckel pears. Now I personally have never had a seckel pear, but upon further tasting (had to try one before I pickled them), found they were very sweet. They are so cute, and tiny and very versatile. The recipe I found came from the blog Learn to Preserve however, I altered the recipe just a bit to make it my own. I hope you enjoy it.

1 1/2 pounds Seckel pears (about 13)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
1 tsp black peppercorns (or mixed peppercorns such as pink, green, white and/or black)
3 cinnamon stick
8 star anise
1 tsp whole cloves
Rind of 1 orange, sliced

Wash pears well and set aside. In a sauce pan, combine the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugars, then reduce to a low heat; just enough to keep it warm while you finish prepping the pears.  Prick a dozen holes in each pear, so their skins won't crack or burst in the hot brine. No need to make it perfect. Just rotate the pear while quickly poking holes in the surface of the pear, here & there, with a toothpick or skewer. Add all of the pears to the hot brine at once. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the pears seem soft when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove the pan of pickled pears from the heat and let them cool. Once cool, gently spoon the pears into a jar and then carefully pour the brine over the top of them. Place a lid on the jar and store it in the refrigerator, for up to one month.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ham and Bean Soup

When the hubs and I made our New Years day pulled pork, we had all of that beautiful juice that we couldn't use since with pulled pork, it has to be dry (except for the barbecue sauce). We decided at that point that we were going to save the juice for a ham and bean soup in the future. We also had ham hocks from the collard greens we made so those were vacuumed and saved as well. Today was the day to make our soup!! We started last night because the beans we used were dried, as well as the ham stock since we needed to let that simmer for a bit, but the end result was fantastic!

1 pk Goya 16 Bean Soup mix
1 small pre-cooked ham, cubed
6 stalks celery, diced
5 carrots, diced
Ham stock
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp pepper

For the ham stock, we had a ham hock and the juice from our root beer pulled pork recipe. We put some veggies, old ham pieces, the ham hock, the juice and enough water to cover everything and let simmer for about 4 hours. We put in the fridge over night to let the fat come to the top so we could skim it and remove. Pre-soak the beans overnight for 24 hours in cold water. In the crock-pot add the beans, celery, carrots and cubed ham. 

Add enough stock to cover all ingredients. Add the seasonings. Cook on high for 8 hours (since the beans are dried). This was excellent!

Our take on Chicken Kiev

The hubs wanted to make dinner last night, so he did the main dish and I helped prepare the sides. I made a roasted tomato dressing to top the chicken along with Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and shallots in a cream sauce. The dinner was superb. Hope you enjoy our take on Chicken Kiev

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, in olive oil (but drained)
1 pk fresh basil leaves
1 pk feta cheese
2 eggs
Panko bread crumbs

2 containers, cherry tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
1 small container mascarpone cheese
Sea salt
Black pepper

To prepare the chicken, slice from one side to the other, right down the middle. You do not want to go all the way through…but you want to stop about ¾ of the way through the chicken breast. The hubs decided to roll the chicken in egg and breadcrumbs before stuffing them, because he was not going to tie them up. So roll the chicken in egg, then coat with the breadcrumbs. For the stuffing, gently pry open the chicken halves, and lay the basil and spinach, top with the sun dried tomatoes, then top with the feta cheese. Preheat the oven to 415, and lay the chicken breasts on either a cooking sheet with sides or a baking dish. Cook for about 25 minutes or until a thermometer reads the appropriate temperature for chicken (170degrees).

For the dressing, put the tomatoes on a cooking sheet along with the peeled garlic cloves. Coat in about 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add some sea salt and black pepper. Cook in a 425 degree oven for about 30 – 45 minutes. Put the tomatoes, garlic and all of those wonderful juices into a blender and puree. Add the container of mascarpone cheese and continue blending until it is all incorporated.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chicken Broccoli Pasta

I had some broccoli and peppers I had to use up so went on a mission to see what I had in the freezer and the fridge for dinner two nights ago. Yes...I took me this long to post. Sorry..... The freezer had one small package of chicken breasts and one small package of turkey breast tenderloins, so I used both...who said you had to have the same meat in a dish. I also pulled my standards, shallots and garlic and pulled a container of our homemade chicken stock and voila! Hope you all enjoy!

2 lbs of chicken breast or turkey tenderloin, cubed
10 mini red peppers, sliced
1 elephant garlic clove, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 broccolis, chopped
3 cups homemade chicken stock
½ cup champagne (or white wine)
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp sage
1 tsp crushed red peppers
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coarse ground pepper
1 6-8 oz package of feta cheese
1 lb pasta

Prepare all of your vegetables and cube your chicken. 

In a Dutch oven, heat up 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Brown the chicken breast or the turkey tenderloin, to the point of it being almost done. 

Remove from heat. In the same pan, add the shallots and cook till tender. Add the garlic and the red peppers and continue sauteing for about 7 minutes. Deglaze the bottom of the pan with the champagne. We used champagne, because we still had a bit left over from New Years Eve. Add the chicken stock and all of the spices. Bring up to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes.  In a pasta pot, bring water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to package directions. In the last 5 minutes, add the broccoli. When the pasta is al dente, using a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta and the broccoli to the chicken mixture. Mix thoroughly. Stir in the feta cheese. Serve, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Play on Chicken Cacciatore

Many of you are familiar with the old fashioned way of making chicken cacciatore. The hubs and I are trying to use up veggies and food from our pantry so we decided to use some of our yummy tomato, orange jam with basil and saffron. Also, I am pretty sure no self respecting Italian would EVER admit this, but instead of using pasta, we had a spaghetti squash that we needed to use up, so we served this yummy recipe over squash instead of pasta! Grandpa please forgive me!!!

6 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 leek, sliced
4 ribs celery, chopped
9 mini peppers, red/orange/yellow, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 blood oranges, juiced
1/2 cup wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 32oz cans of petite diced tomatoes
1 tbsp sage
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste

Prepare all of your vegetables (I always think of Ann Burell on the Food Network, mis en place people!!)

My beautiful blood oranges w/ 1 wanna be. Hims looked like he was a bit young when they picked him!
My beautiful blood oranges w/ 1 wanna be. Hims looked like he was a bit young when they picked him! Have your hubs grill the chicken (not completely) just charred on both sides. Bring in and let rest. Then slice in strips. In a large Dutch oven, add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Bring up to medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and saute till translucent. Add the celery and red peppers and cook for about 7 minutes or until soft. Add the mushrooms. Cook for about 7 more minutes. Use the juice from the blood oranges to deglaze the pan. Add the wine and the chicken stock and all of the spices, including the tomato paste, the diced tomatoes, and the tomato jam. Bring up to a boil, and then reduce to a low boil and let cook for about 20 minutes. Once you hit the 20 minute mark, add the chicken into the sauce to cook all the way through. Let simmer for about 10 more minutes. Serve over spaghetti squash or pasta!

Tomato Orange Jam with Basil and Saffron

The hubs and I are on a mission to use stuff from our pantry along with fresh veggies and meat. This past summer I made this excellent Jam from a preserve cookbook my mom gave me. I mentioned it in my pineapple and mint post and I used it again. I got this recipe from 250 Home Preserving Favorites and we both fell in love with this recipe. You can use it on pork, chicken or what I did. I will be posting a play on chicken cacciatore using this jam. I hope you all enjoy it. If you aren't big on canning, I am sure you can just pair the recipe down and actually make enough for one or two servings. 

2 cups sweet onions, thinly sliced
¾ cup shallots, finely chopped
¼ cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups Roma tomatoes, finely chopped, peeled and seeded
1 tbsp orange rind, finely grated
¾ cup oranges, chopped and peeled
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ tsp saffron threads
2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
12 tsp dried oregano
1 pkg powdered pectin
4 cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar

In a Dutch oven, combine onions, shallots and water. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until very soft. Stir in garlic; cook for a couple more minutes stirring often. Stir in tomatoes, orange rind, oranges and lemon juice. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently, uncovered for about 15 minutes. Make sure you stir often to prevent it from burning on the bottom of the pan. Stir in saffron, basil and oregano and continue to boil gently for about 5 minutes. Stir in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring often. Stir in both sugars and return to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle into sterilized jars to within ½ inch of rim. Wipe rims and apply prepared lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes. Transfer jars to a towel lined surface and let rest at room temperature until set.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Southwestern BBQ Pork Enchiladas

Even though it is January 4th, we still have some of the pulled pork left from our New Years Dinner. Since I am  utterly tired of eating it the same old way, I decided to spice it up a bit and made up this recipe for Southwestern BBQ Pork Enchiladas. they were quite tasty! I also had quite a few veggies that we needed to use up in the fridge so this was the perfect opportunity to use up some of them and mix it into the enchiladas. I also wanted to get in on a challenge to use up what was in my fridge/pantry and create a meal without having to buy anything from the store. My father calls these pastishes! Hope you enjoy!

3 cups Root Beer Pulled Pork
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 elephant garlic bulb, chopped (about 8 cloves of regular garlic)
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 mini red pepper, chopped
1 mini yellow pepper, chopped
1 mini orange pepper, chopped
10 crimini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup barbecue sauce (I used a "joke" sauce called Blazing Rectum, it was just yummy)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
5 Flat Out Flat breads

Chop all of your vegetables into approximately the same size pieces.

In a deep saute pan, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic till it is translucent and tender. add all of the peppers and saute for about 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 - 7 more minutes. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock. Stir in the pulled pork and just bring up to temperature. Add the barbecue sauce and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take one of the flat breads and spoon about 2 spoonfuls of the mixture into the middle of the flat bread and about 1 - 2 tbsp of the cheddar cheese. Roll the flat bread up and put seam side down into a baking dish. Repeat until all of your flat breads have been used. Top the enchiladas with the remaining cheddar cheese and mozzarella and pour a bit more of the barbecue sauce over them. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Pineapple Mint Jelly

I wish I had posted this when I had actually made it, but I didn't. I had made this when I had some leftover pineapple juice after a recipe, to be honest I can't remember what recipe, but that is neither here nor there. I also was in the hey day of my garden and had mint growing out the ying yang!! I am somewhat of a novice canner. I just love trying new recipes and this pineapple mint is excellent on toast...which is the picture on the left. BUT, it would also be doubly excellent on pork or chicken if you roasted it in the oven!!! I hope you all enjoy this recipe. I found it in 250 Home Preserving Favorites.

4 cups pineapple juice
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 pkg powdered pectin
4 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

In a large pot, combine pineapple juice and 1 cup of the chopped mint leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 5 minutes. Strain over a bowl, squeezing leaves; reserve liquid and discard the leaves. Measure 3 3/4 cups of liquid; pour into a clean pot. Stir in the lemon juice. Stir in the pectin until dissolved. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugar in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Stir in the 2 tbsp finely chopped mint. Stir for 5 - 8 minutes to prevent floating mint. Ladle quickly into sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch of rim; wipe rims. Apply prepared lids and rings; tighten just until fingertip tight. Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Transfer jars to a towel-lined suface and let rest at room temperature until set.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bread Pudding

As in my previous post for my pulled pork, this was the final course in my menu for New Years Day. Since I have never made or even tasted bread pudding (the hubs asked me to make it) I had to find a recipe. I decided on Paula Deen's recipe on the food network, yet I made a few changes to it just to make it my own. It is also my understanding, you can actually switch it up and instead of using Italian bread, use cinnamon bread etc. So, this recipe, is a truly flexible in the ingredients, to a point. 

2 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp cinnamon (1 tbsp reserved)

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan. Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and cream in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes. 

In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans. 

Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. 

Remove from oven. In a sauce pan, mix the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla and stir over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. We served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! I have to say, this was quite yummy!

Pulled Pork

Hubs and I made such a yummy Southern meal yesterday for New Years Day. I am originally from Florida, and although most won't consider that Southern, more of a melting pot of people from the North/South...I still consider myself a southerner! I have been just craving good southern food lately, and since one NY Day tradition is to serve Black Eyed Peas, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to appease my craving. My menu was pulled pork, greens w/ham hocks, homemade corn bread and black eyed peas. For dessert I made a bread pudding which I will be posting in a few.

The pulled pork was a very simple recipe, using my  Crock-pot, which I ultimately ended up breaking and will have to get a new one...hmph...As I was pulling my pork out, the lid slipped from my hand and actually broke the ceramic pot. But I is my recipe and it was simple and very tasty!

1 Pork Shoulder Butt, about 4 - 5 lbs (some use pork loin, but when you compare the price per pound, plus the fact that the Butt was on sale, I decided to go with this one!)
1/2 onion, sliced
1 12 oz bottle of root beer and a 1/2 of another bottle
Your favorite barbecue sauce (I used Budweiser's tangy barbecue sauce).

In a large cast iron skillet sear the pork on all sides.

Put the roast into your  Crock-pot  and poke holes in the top. Add the onions. Pour the root beer over the roast and set the Crock-pot  for about 8 hours. The pork will create its own juice, plus the root beer. We actually removed the pork from the pot, strained the juice and will be using the stock to make bean soup (but that is for another recipe). On a plate, begin shredding the pork. Add the shredded pork back into the crock-pot and pour  your barbecue sauce over it. MM MM good!