Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sausage And Eggplant-Stuffed Shells In A Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

I had some lovely baby eggplant from my Front Porch Pickings basket, and while I would have loved some baba ganoush, I knew I would be the only one happy about that. I dug this out of my to try file; it was from Emeril and I got it off the food network site. It was a little work, mostly because of the chopping, but I think it was totally worth it!  I don't care for sausage, the boys don't care for eggplant, but we all devoured it. Even the baby girl ate well and that is impressive. It is totally rich, so all you can eat is about 2 shells, and I did tweak the recipe a bit based on how much eggplant I had, but it makes way more than 1/2 a box of pasta worth of shells.  If I had used the full amount of sausage and eggplant, I would have used an entire box of shell easy, but I would have needed a larger pan, or made it in two batches.  I really like this, and think I would be good without the sausage and more eggplant, or mushrooms in place of the sausage, or with veggie sausage.

Sausage And Eggplant-Stuffed Shells In A Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce
2 Tbl olive oil
1/2 Lb sweet Italian sausage (original amount 3/4 Lb) casings removed
2 Cup chopped onion
1 large eggplant cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I had almost 4 cups but the original recipe said about 7 cups cups)
1 1/2 Tsp salt
3/4 Tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbl minced garlic
1/2 Cup ricotta or mascarpone cheese
10 oz Frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry (but the original recipe said 12 ounces fresh spinach blanched, squeezed dry, and chopped (abo
1 Cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 Tsp sugar (oops I forgot this)
1/2 (12-ounce) package jumbo pasta shells (about 18 shells) (I NEEDED WAY MORE!)
2 Cup Italian crushed tomatoes
3 Cup heavy cream
1/4 Cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
4 ounces coarsely grated fontina cheese

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high
heat and saute the sausage until golden brown, stirring to break up the
pieces, about 6 minutes. Add half of the onions and the eggplant, season
with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and cook for
4 to 6 minutes, or until the vegetables are lightly caramelized and very
soft. Add 1 tablespoon garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the
heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
In a large saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over
medium high heat and saute the remaining chopped onions until
translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of garlic and
cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, remaining
3/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper and
cook for 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook until the sauce is
reduced in volume by about 1/3, about 20 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells
until just al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold
running water. Pat shells dry. Stuff the pasta shells with the sausage-
eggplant mixture and place in the prepared casserole dish
When the eggplant mixture has cooled to room temperature, stir in the
ricotta or mascarpone cheese, spinach, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and
sugar. Stir to combine well.
Lightly grease a deep 9 by 13-inch casserole or lasagna pan and set
Add the basil to the sauce and pour the sauce over the shells in the
casserole. Sprinkle with the fontina cheese and the remaining Parmesan.
Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue baking until the sauce is lightly browned
in spots and bubbly around the edges, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand
for 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Boozy Slow Cooker French Dips

On the way back from dropping my boy and his friend at my MIL, we went through my pins on Pinterest, and my husband picked several recipes; this was one of them.  I did make some changes to the original recipe. Mostly because the jus left in the crockpot, while a good start, wasn't very flavorful. First i strained out the onions to use in the sandwich. After I removed the fat from the jus with a separator, I pot it in a pot and boiled it to reduce. I also added about a teaspoon of 'Better than Bouillon' mushroom base. Then when I took it off the heat, I added a splash more whiskey so it would still taste 'boozy'

Boozy Slow-Cooker French Dips

2 Lb beef roast
3 Tbl dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 beer of your choice  (we had Yuengling)
1 large yellow onion sliced
2 Tbl whiskey (I used Maker’s Mark)
2 Clove garlic smashed
1 Cup beef stock
2 french baguettes sliced in half and cut into sandwich-size
1 tsp better than bouillon mushroom base
Provolone Cheese

1. Sprinkle your roast with salt and pepper, then lightly rub the
mustard into the meat on all sides.
2. Place roast in a crock pot. Add beer, onions, whiskey, garlic, and
beef stock to the crock pot (just pour the liquids right over the roast!)
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
3. Pull roast out of crock pot and let it rest on a cutting board. While
meat is resting, pour the rest of the crockpot through a strainer.  Set the onions aside and skim off the fat from the liquid. (I used a fat separator)  Add the mushroom base to the liquid and boil until reduced a bit.
4. Shred the roast beef and pile it between two baguette halves. Add onions as you like
Ladle up a cup of reduced liquid to dip each sandwich in.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Salmon with Pea-Wasabi Purée and Yuzu

Well this was very good, but as it required some online shopping for special ingredients and me begging sushi restaurants for the salmon roe I couldn't find in the grocery store, I'm betting most of you aren't going to want to try it because of that.  The smoked salmon and roe do make it a very fishy dish too, however, it was really great if you like that kind of thing. It is an Eric Ripert dish, and it looks more like artwork than food!  I used lime zest since I couldn't find fresh Yuzu, but I ordered the juice. I also couldn't find fresh chervil, so I used 3 parts parsley and 1 part tarragon.  We were split on whether this was a 4.5 or a 5. I decided that because of the issue acquiring ingredients, I'm going with the lower score.

Salmon with Pea-Wasabi Puree and Yuzu
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon wasabi paste
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 tablespoon yuzu juice (see Note)
1 teaspoon finely grated yuzu zest or lime zest
Pinch of piment d’Espelette
Eight 3-ounce skinless wild Alaskan salmon fillets
4 ounces salmon roe (6 tablespoons)
2 ounces smoked salmon, diced (2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons finely diced celery
2 teaspoons finely chopped chervil 
In a medium saucepan of boiling water, cook the peas until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender. Add the wasabi paste and 6 tablespoons of water and puree until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper. Strain the wasabi pea puree through a fine sieve; discard the solids. Transfer the wasabi pea puree to a small bowl, cover and keep warm.
In the same saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Whisk in the yuzu juice, yuzu zest and piment d’Espelette. Season with salt and white pepper and keep warm.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels. In a large skillet, bring 1 cup of lightly salted water to a boil. Season the salmon with salt and white pepper. Place the salmon fillets in the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer just until the fish is warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Drain the fish on the prepared baking sheet.
Spoon the wasabi pea puree onto plates and top with the salmon fillets. Drizzle the yuzu emulsion over the salmon and garnish with the salmon roe, smoked salmon, celery and chervil. Serve immediately.
Notes If fresh yuzu isn’t available, look for bottled yuzu juice at Japanese markets. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Eggplant Veggie Burgers

I saw an eggplant burger on 'The Best Thing I Ever Ate' and thought it sounded like a great idea. They gave you an idea if what was in it, but not the recipe. I decided for meatless Monday, I would take a stab at it. The result?  Tasty and fixable, but the "patty" was more like a paste and didn't stay together.  Even the boy, who is not a fan if eggplant, thought it tasty. His recommendation, which I think is brilliant, was to add some smokiness.  I think next time, I would mix in a drop or two if liquid smoke, but this time he added some smoked salt. I would also add garlic next time. What I'm not sure of is how to get it to retain its shape: more bread crumbs in the patty, breading the patty, more cheese in the patty (maybe even a cheese coating?) or possibly deep frying:)?  So while this tasted good, it is still a "fixable" recipe.

Eggplant Veggie Burger

2 good size eggplants diced about 6 cups
2 scallion slice
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of veggie broth
1 1/2 Cup cheddar cheese shredded (1 c cheese inside burger 1/2 for topping)
1/4 cup parsley
1 cup bread crumbs
Salt & Pepper
Sriracha Mayonnaise
Hamburger Buns
Cook eggplants on medium-high in the oil (oh and season the eggplant with salt) until mostly soft (about 8 minutes) add the stock scrape pan and cover and cook another 5-10 minutes (until the eggplant is totally cooked through) remove cover add the scallions cook until until the scallions have softened and the liquid has all evaporated.  Put the eggplant/scallion mixture in to a food processor along with 1 cup of the cheese, parsley and bread crumbs. Process until a thick paste.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add some more breadcrumbs if it seems too wet.  Shape into patties (I used an egg ring) on wax paper and chill to set.  Pan fry them in butter until outside is browned and the inside is warm.  Serve with sriracha mayo and tomatoes on buns

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Green Pea Soup

My daughter, looking over my shoulder as I try to decided tonight's dinner, sees green pea soup, and declares that's what she wants.  Ok then.   I really enjoyed it, and if you omit the optional creme fraiche, and cooked the leeks in oil, it would be vegan.   One thing to note, my beloved immersion blender failed me!  It didn't make the smooth purée I wanted and it flung a good portion all over the place.  Next time I will use the blender and make another dish to insure less soup flinging and a better consistency.  Also, I didn't read the recipe correctly at first and had dumped in the salt and 2 cups of low sodium broth before I realized that the store bought stuff needed to he diluted and as a result it was on the salty side. All in all a solid 4!  Maybe even a bit higher...  I'm not feeling great today and that might cloud my perception but I'm sticking with the 4, for now:)

Green Pea Soup
1 Tbl unsalted butter
1 medium leek root trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
2 Tsp kosher salt plus more as needed
2 1/2 Cup homemade vegetable broth or 1 cup low sodium store-bought vegetable broth mixed with 1 1/2 cups water
1/8 Tsp freshly ground black pepper plus more as needed
3 Cup shelled fresh peas (from about 2 1/2 -pounds of peas in their pods) or 1 (16 -ounce) package frozen peas, thawed
1/4 Cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 Tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice plus more as needed
Crème fraîche for serving (optional)

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add
the leek, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and a pinch of pepper and cook,
stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
Add the broth, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and measured pepper and
bring to a boil. Add the peas and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat
to medium low and simmer until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint leaves, and stir to combine.
Let sit uncovered until the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.
Using a blender, pure the soup in batches until smooth, removing the
small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space
with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the lid
from popping off). Transfer the soup to a clean saucepan (if serving
warm) or a heatproof bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season
with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. If serving warm,
reheat over low heat. If serving cold, let cool to room temperature,
cover, then refrigerate until cold. Top each serving with a dollop of
crme frache, if desired.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chicken Gyro

Well, I have found myself going to the grocery almost every day!  And, while I seem to spend more with that plan of attack, I waste less. Tonight's dinner is a perfect case in point. I had bought plain, full fat yogurt for the lassi I plan on making, but it only came in a huge portion. I used it for last night's shawarma, tonight's gyro and still have enough to make my lassi once the mango is perfectly ripe.   We liked tonight's dinner, but we all agreed it was only a 3.5.  To be fair, we all did think most people we know would rate it higher, but that was our impression.  It was pretty easy to make.  The only issue we had was that the chicken exuded a lot of liquid when cooking and it took longer to brown than we expected.  We also added shredded lettuce to the dish.  I found this on pinterest, and I'm not sure if the site it is from is a blogger or not, so I am erring on the side of caution and treating it like it is from a blogger and providing the link, rather than the recipe.

Chicken Gyros
Tzatziki sauce:
plain Greek yogurt
minced garlic
white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
For the chicken:
lemon juice
red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
plain Greek yogurt
dried oregano
Salt and pepper
chicken breasts
ITo assemble:
Pita bread
Fresh tomatoes
Red onion

Recipe and directions here

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Braised Lamb Shawarma

Don't let the length of the recipe daunt you!  It was less of a process than it appears, and even if it was difficult, it was pretty much worth it.  If I were to make any criticism of it at all was that the reduced braising liquid was still pretty runny and the sandwich was a huge dripping mess.  Correction a huge, dripping, tasty mess.  My husband wanted something crunchy in the sandwich, but that didn't stop him from having 2 ;).  We all agreed it was a solid 4 stars.  The only possibly difficult ingredient to procure is the pomegranate molasses.  If you can't find it locally, you can get it on line but I made my own.  I had made it for a Lebanese fried fish ages ago, and finished it off tonight in this Shawarma.  The tahini sauce was wonderful and I am looking forward to having it on my sandwich at lunch tomorrow.

Braised Lamb Shawarma

For the lamb
4 bone-in lamb shoulder chops (about 10 -oz. each)
1 Tbs. vegetable oil more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 -1/2 cups dry white wine or water
1 Tbs. ground cumin
4 medium cloves garlic smashed and peeled
1 large carrot cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
1 medium white onion peeled and cut into 8 wedges
2 Tbs. pomegranate molasses
1 -1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Oz (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter
For the tahini sauce
2 medium cloves garlic minced
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 Cup tahini
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
For the pickled cabbage
1 -1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Cup thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1/4 -small cabbage)
1/2 Tsp pomegranate molasses
1 Tbs. sherry vinegar more as needed
1/4 Tsp granulated sugar more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For assembly
Six 9-inch flatbreads such as yufka, markouk (folded in half),
Braise the lamb
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350F.
Pat the lamb chops dry. Heat the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet
over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the lamb chops,
flipping once, until well browned on both sides, about 4 minutes total
per batch (add more oil for the second batch, if necessary). Season with
salt and pepper and transfer to a 9x13-inch roasting pan.
Add 1 cup of the wine to the skillet and bring to a simmer, scraping the
skillet with a wooden spatula to loosen any browned bits. Pour the wine
over the chops. Sprinkle with the cumin, then add the garlic, carrot,
onion, and the remaining 1/2 cup of wine. The liquid should come halfway
up the chops; if necessary, add water. Cover the pan with a double
thickness of aluminum foil and braise in the oven until the meat is fork-
tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Make the tahini sauce
Meanwhile, combine the garlic and lemon juice in a medium bowl; let sit
for 5minutes. Whisk in the yogurt, tahini, olive oil, and 3/4 tsp. salt
until smooth. Add 1 to 2 Tbs. water if necessary to achieve a thick yet
pourable consistency.

Make the pickled cabbage
Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the cabbage and
cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove
from the heat and stir in the pomegranate molasses, vinegar, and sugar.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, more vinegar, or sugar.
Finish the lamb
Transfer the lamb chops to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil to
keep warm. Strain the contents of the roasting pan through a medium-mesh
sieve into a medium bowl (you should have about 2 cups liquid); discard
the solids. Freeze the liquid until the fat rises to the surface, about
15 minutes, then skim it off and discard it. (Alternatively, use a fat
separator.) Transfer the liquid to a 3-quart saucepan. Boil over medium-
high heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, use your fingers to break the lamb into small chunks,
discarding the fat and bones.
Whisk the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and butter into the
braising liquid. Add the lamb and gently toss to coat. Season to taste
with salt and pepper.
Assemble the shawarma
If you're using store-bought flatbreads (or if you made them ahead),
warm the flatbreads in a 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over
medium heat. Arrange on a clean work surface. Divide the lamb among the
flatbreads, spreading it in a strip about 1 inch from the near edge. Top
the lamb with a few tablespoons of the cabbage and sauce. Roll the
shawarma up tightly, pulling back on the edge of the bread after folding
it over the filling and tucking the filling under with your fingertips,
to create a slender, burrito-like wrap. Rest the shawarma on their seam
side to keep them closed.
Heat the 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the
shawarma seam side down until browned and crisp on that side (do not
flip), about 3 minutes. Serve.
Make Ahead Tips
The sauce may be made up to 2 days ahead; refrigerate and return to room
temperature before using.
The cabbage may be made up to 2 days ahead; refrigerate and return to
room temperature before using.
The lamb may be made up to 2 days ahead; refrigerate and gently reheat
before using.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Grilled Salmon with Dill Pickle Butter

I love salmon and pickles, but this one was just 3 stars.  I think the butter had possibility; I think it needed more pickles and some more mustard or some sort of flavoring.  I kept wanting to put more on my fish because I didn't taste anything but salmon and butter.  The bites that had a lot of pickle in it were better.  Still, I can think of at least a dozen truly tasty incarnations of the wild salmon I bought, all better use of my dollars spent on the fish.  Keep in mind it gets 3 stars only because salmon is inherently tasty and the combination of it with the pickle was somewhat novel.

Grilled Salmon with Dill Pickle Butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup finely diced dill pickles
1 teaspoon minced tarragon
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Four 6-ounce salmon fillets, with skin
Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing
  1. Light a grill. In a small bowl, blend the butter with the diced pickles, tarragon and mustard and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Rub the salmon with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, skin side down, until the skin is lightly charred and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a metal spatula, turn the fillets and grill until barely done in the center, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the salmon to plates. Top with the dill pickle butter and serve.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Classic Chicken Teriyaki

Tonight's sauce was really yummy!  It was much better than any store bought teriyaki, and while it took a bit of time, almost zero work. (and that was for the sauce and it can be made ahead)  I have chicken issues too and I loved it!  My husband said it was hard to give it a fair rating.  He believed that, since last night's dinner was so good, we would be unfairly rating this lower than it deserved.  I wasn't really worried, it was still a 4.5!  I had some peppers, carrots and I bought some mushrooms to have a quick stir fry of veggies instead of a salad.  We also added scallions, which I think were great on it. 

Classic Chicken Teriyaki

1 Cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/3 Cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 Cup sugar
2 Tbl mirin
2 Tbl sake
Four 6-ounce skinless boneless chicken breasts, lightly pounded
Freshly ground pepper
2 Tbl canola oil
2 large Italian frying peppers cut into 1/2-inch strips (I couldn't find so I used cubanelles)
Steamed short-grain rice for serving
Scallions, thinly sliced for serving
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken stock with the soy sauce,
sugar, mirin and sake and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to
dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until the
teriyaki sauce is reduced to 1/2 cup and syrupy, about 20 minutes. 
2. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large
nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chicken and cook
over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned all over and
cooked through, 8 to 9 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let
stand for 5 minutes. 
3. Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and heat
until shimmering. Add the pepper strips and cook over high heat,
stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender and lightly charred, about 3
minutes. Transfer the peppers to plates. Slice the chicken breasts
crosswise and transfer to the plates. Drizzle the teriyaki sauce over
the chicken and serve with rice.  (and scallions:)

Make Ahead
The teriyaki sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kale Pesto Pasta

For meatless Monday, I wanted to try this recipe from Field To Feast: Celebrating Florida Farmers. Chefs and Artisans.  I had kale from my Front Porch Pickings basket and, while I adore kale, my son just sees another green he isn't overly fond of.  That being said, he knew that this dish had kale in it and still ate 2 HUGE plates of it!  That isn't just surprising, it is un-freakin real!  Even the 3 year old, who hates all things green so much she breaks her green goldfish crackers rather than be made to eat them, ate a bit of it before switching to plain pasta.  That almost qualifies as a miracle in this house. It could even easily be made vegan; just leave out the parm.  I can't believe I am going to say this since I LOVE cheese, but I think it tasted good even before the addition of the cheese and wouldn't suffer much, if at all, taste wise with out the cheese.  It was a very thick paste before the addition of the pasta water, and I used the full cup. While this recipe called for lacinato kale, I used the green I got in the basket. Kale is so good for you, I'm so happy I found a way my kids like it!  I love the pesto so much, I am looking for other ways to utilize it!  Pizza?  Twice baked potatoes or sauce for roasted potatoes. Etc...   4.5 stars!!

Kale Pesto Pasta

1 Large bunch of Kale (about 1/2 pound) center stems discarded and roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon Coarse salt (plus more to taste)
1 Pound Spaghetti
1/2 Cup unsalted, roasted almonds
1 Garlic Clove (I used 2) (I put mine through a press)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish) 
Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste

1)  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, make a bowl of water and ice and set aside
2)  Add the kale and the tbsp. of salt to the boiling water and let the kale cook for about 7 minutes and it is tender and wilted.  Remove the kale with tongs or skimmer to the ice bath.  Put the pasta in the water you cooked the kale in and cook according to package.
3)  While the pasta cooks, put the almonds in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Put the kale in paper towels and squeeze to get the water off the leaves.  Add the kale and garlic to bowl of the food processor and process until everything is finely chopped.  With the processor running, slowly add the oil until it forms a thick paste.
4)  Transfer the pesto to a large bowl and mix in the Parmesan.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.  When the pasta is done, drain (don't for get to save the cup of cooking water) and add to the bowl with the pesto. Mix and coat the pasta with the pesto adding the cooking water as needed to make the right consistency of sauce.  Season with salt and pepper and garnish with more parm.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Peanut Butter Boston Cream Pie

For Father's Day, I wanted to make something I knew my husband would love, a repeat recipe! LOL So, that meant I had to try my hand at baking again.  His favorites are peanut butter and chocolate, so when I saw this on Happy Valley Chow's link party, I knew I had to make it.  It is from the site Baking a Moment.  Now a baker, I am not.  I make a mean sauce, and can cook meals, but breads, cakes, anything that requires a batter or a dough, I am like a fish out of water.  Now I think it came out pretty good, but it didn't look half as good (or most likely taste as wonderful) as the original poster's pie.  That is all on me, but even with my floundering, the end result was good.  The PB pastry cream, outta sight!  The Granache was perfect too, but my genoise was a little dry and I mangled it on the cutting but again, those pesky batters are my nemesis.  Perhaps if I was a huge fan of sweet, I would try to master it, but I will take a salty dish over a sweet one every time.  The rest of my family, all who have a sweet tooth, suffer;).

Peanut Butter Boston Cream Pie

For the Peanut Butter Pastry Cream:
granulated sugar
all-purpose flour
kosher salt
egg yolks
smooth peanut butter
vanilla extract
For the Genoise:
unsalted butter
vanilla extract
cake flour
granulated sugar
For the Ganache:
milk chocolate
semisweet chocolate
heavy cream

Recipe and directions here

Friday, June 14, 2013

Soy-Sriracha Pork Loin

I couldn't find where I got this recipe from, so I can't provide a link, and I'm kind of glad because it was pretty bad!!  I knew it was going to have problems. (Tenderloin in a crockpot is not the best way to cook that piece of meat!). However, I was blinded by the word Sriracha!  I added a lot more brown sugar in the reduction stage, but it was still really spicy. I think it could be better with some fresh ginger, and the sauce tweaked. I also would use a cheaper cut if meat that would add some fat and flavor to the sauce.  I want to say one star, but I will round up and give it 2.

Soy-Sriracha Pork Loin

1 Tbl chopped garlic
1/2 Tbl brown sugar
1/4 Cup soy sauce
1/3 Cup sriracha
1/2 Cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 Tsp honey
2 Tbl chopped green onions
1 Lb  1 lb of pork loin (I cut a two -pounder in half)
rub pork loin with garlic and brown sugar. (I mixed these together first)
add soy sauce, honey, green onion, and sriracha to a sauce pan.  mix
together and heat on medium until warm.
place pork loin fat side down in slow cooker.  pour soy-sriracha
mixture over the meat.  .  cook on low for
6-7 hours.
gently remove meat from slow cooker, at this point it should fall apart
pretty easily.
strain braising liquid and reduce in a sauce pan (approximately half
it's volume).  add honey or a little more brown sugar if you want your
sauce a bit sweeter.
pour sauce over pork.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bay Scallop Pan Roast & Roasted Spaghetti Squash withParmigiano-Reggiano

I need to clean up the food I have accumulated.  I buy frozen, scallops in this instance, on sale and forget about them.  I need to make a serious attack on the freezer!  So, I pulled this Bay Scallop Pan Roast out of the to try file.  I also had a Spaghetti Squash from Front Porch Pickings I should use as I am getting another one Friday!   My darling husband offered to cook, and I totally took him up on it as I was tired from a long hot day of ropes course and ziplines at Zoomair!  I had put the squash in earlier, so dinner came together pretty quickly too.  I like that about this squash recipe; it is nice that the roasting can be done way in advance if necessary since the strands get warmed up in the sauteed shallots.  The scallops were pretty awesome too!  I was thinking 4 mushrooms were going to be too few, but they gave it flavor without overpowering the scallops.  A solid 4 all way around.

Bay Scallop Pan Roast

3 Tbl unsalted butter
1/2 Cup fresh bread crumbs preferably from brioche
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 1/2 Lb bay scallops
4 large white mushrooms thinly sliced
1 large shallot thinly sliced
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1/4 Cup water
1 Tbl chopped parsley
1. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the bread
crumbs, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat,
stirring, until the crumbs are golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes.
Scrape the crumbs onto a plate.
2. Wipe out the skillet. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add 1
tablespoon of the butter and let it melt. Add the scallops, season with
salt and pepper and brown over high heat, about 2 minutes total.
Transfer the scallops to a large, shallow dish.
3. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Add the
mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until
their liquid is almost evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the shallot and
cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and
cook for 30 seconds. Add the water and simmer for 1 minute.
4. Return the scallops and any accumulated juices to the skillet and
season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the
parsley. Spoon the scallops and mushrooms onto plates, sprinkle with the
bread crumbs and serve.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash With Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 large spaghetti squash (about 5 pounds)
4 Tbl olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves finely chopped
1 medium shallot finely chopped
3/4 Cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano -cheese, plus extra for serving
Heat the oven to 400F and arrange a rack in the middle. Cut the squash
in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Brush the flesh with 2
tablespoons of the oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place
the squash halves cut-side up on a baking sheet and roast until fork
tender, about 50 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven and let sit at room temperature until
cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Scrape the flesh with a fork to
make long strands; set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium
heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and shallot,
season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened and lightly browned,
  about 3 minutes.
Add the reserved squash, toss with tongs to coat thoroughly, and cook
until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the
cheese a handful at a time while tossing the squash to evenly coat.
Serve with freshly ground black pepper and extra cheese.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Salami Provolone Burger

I was feeling kind of lazy, and I had 4 hamburger buns I needed to use, so I decided on burgers.  (only to notice a tiny spot of mold right before cooking and requiring me to make a trip to the store last minute :/)  Feeling extra lazy, I decided to try this Publix Apron Meal.  Now I think the Apron meals aren't bad, but I am rarely wowed by them, so I don't often cook them.  However they are really fast, easy and if you get the recipe they are demonstrating, all your ingredients are in one place when shopping.  This recipe was super fast and easy, even for a burger.  The only change I made was I cooked the cheese and salami on the burgers, on the grill a minute or two rather than just let them sit and melt.  I also used my homemade ranch and added a lot of freshly ground black pepper.  Over all it gets a 3.5  We all said we really liked it, and usually I think that would have merited a higher rating, but we have had some dang good burgers :)

Salami Provolone Burger

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 teaspoon salt-free garlic/herb seasoning
4 slices provolone cheese (3 oz)
8 slices Deli hard salami (2 oz)
1/3 cup sweet pepper bruschetta topping (or roasted, marinated red peppers, chopped which is what I used)
2 tablespoons chopped black olives
8 teaspoons creamy peppercorn dressing, divided
4 Bakery French (or regular) hamburger buns   
Preheat grill pan (or grill). Form meat into four patties; sprinkle with seasoning (wash hands). Place patties in grill pan (or on grill); grill 3–4 minutes on each side or until meat is 160°F.
Top each patty with 1 slice cheese and 2 slices salami; let stand to melt cheese. Combine bruschetta topping and olives.
Spread 2 teaspoons peppercorn dressing on inside of buns. Place patties on bottom halves of buns; top each with 2 tablespoons olive mixture. Assemble burgers and serve.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Alsatian Pizza

I was making a slew of different pizzas for the family tonight.  And while most of them were made before, I did have one new one, this Alsatian Pizza.  I liked it much more than I thought I would.  I didn't make it exactly like the original recipe.  If you are interested in seeing that, follow the link, but I made it the way I typed it out here. 

Alsatian Pizza
1 Lb pizza dough
1 Tbl plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Cup fromage blanc or fresh ricotta
1 Tbl all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 Lb thickly sliced smoky bacon cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium onion thinly sliced

1. Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat it to 500
2. Roll out dough in to a large thin circle
3. In a food processor, pulse the fromage blanc until smooth. Add the
flour, crme frache and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season
with salt and pepper and process until smooth.~
4. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until the fat
is rendered, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and cook just until softened,
  about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
5. Remove the stone from the oven, put the dough on the hot stone.  Spread the fromage blanc mixture over the  rounds to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle with the bacon and onion.
6. Bake at 500 for 6-7 minutes or until dough is browned a bit and the cheese is melted and bubbly

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Machaca Chicken Tacos

The Chicken After Shredding
As you may have guessed, I have been on a bit of a break when it comes to the blog.  School just ended, we have been out and about and family has been in town so I have been either eating out or repeating:).   This one is kind of a repeat of the enchilada chicken, but it was a total improv with ingredients I had on hand.  I offer it up as an easy way to clean up ingredients and have a tasty meal that requires very little work.  I know it seems to go against sound cooking by skipping the sauté but it really works!  This one made a lot more sauce than the original recipe and you could use the remaining sauce as a base for tomorrow's meal of soup.

Machaca Chicken (Padoma)
2 Chicken Breast
2 Green Pepper, Chopped
1 Small Red Chili Pepper, Chopped
1 Large Onion, Chopped
26 Ounce Chopped Tomatoes
3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
Ground Black Pepper
Dried Oregano
Dried Cumin
Dried Cilantro

I didn't measure the dry herbs, but I think they were about 1/2-1 tbsp.

Throw all of the ingredients in to a pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat
to low and cook, uncovered for 2 hours.  Remove chicken from pot.  Use
an immersion blender to puree.  Turn up the heat and reduce the liquid
in the pot to a sauce like consistency.  Adjust seasoning
Serve in tortillas with sour cream, cilantro etc...

The Chicken Mixed with Sauce

The Leftover Sauce that can become soup

Monday, June 3, 2013

Ravioli In Mushroom-Walnut Cream Sauce

I found this recipe in the to try file and it looked good, and was quick and easy. Perfect for meatless Monday. Now that mushrooms aren't a veto ingredient for my son, I was totally psyched to have this.  I searched for the source of this recipe, and i found it on the olive garden website. This wasn't where I got it from, but it read identical. While this wasn't an omg dish, I totally dug the heavy mushroom content.  I said 3.5. The boy, who still doesn't like mushrooms, said 2.5. My husband started out at rating it a 3, but when I saw him scraping his plate to get the last if the sauce, he agreed it was a 3.5.  I'm fully aware that my love and lack of mushrooms skewed me in favor of this dish. I made sure to stir the mushroom/walnut mixture. I was afraid it would burn the nuts. I think next time, I would start the mushrooms for a bit before I add the walnuts.  And the dish felt like it needed salt, until the end where it seemed all the parm was lurking, so I guess it really is a 3.
Changes??  I made it with tortellini. :)  Next time, add some garlic, splash of wine in addition to starting the walnuts later:).

Ravioli In Mushroom-Walnut Cream Sauce
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
12 Oz fresh mushrooms sliced
¼ Cup walnuts chopped
1 -½ cups heavy whipping cream
¼ Tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 -½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 Lb ravioli (or tortellini) cooked -according to package directions
Optional Garnish: fresh chopped parsley

Cook ravioli according to package instructions.
Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saut mushrooms and
walnuts until mushrooms are golden brown. Add heavy cream and stir
frequently for 5 minutes until sauce has slightly thickened. When cream
stops simmering, turn heat to warm. Add pepper and Parmesan cheese; stir
until sauce is smooth. Do not boil.
Drain pasta and place on a serving plate. Pour sauce over pasta. Garnish
with parsley if desired. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

I asked the boy what he would like for dinner, even repeats, he said Shrimp Scampi!  I said, I have no desire to peel all those shrimp!  He suggested burgers next; I didn't have many 'to try' burgers I was really interested in. Perhaps it was dinner last night at Holligans, a local place famous for its wings, or perhaps it was a vague memory of a Bobby Flay buffalo burger, or perhaps I just had a craving, but I decided on Buffalo chicken burgers. I read several recipes (ok read dozens of recipes), and after consulting with the hubby, we decided on this method. We kind of made it up as we went along, and each step had some debate. (The main one I'm thinking of was I wanted some minced celery in the patty. Yes, I lost that argument ;). We liked the end result, and it was remarkably similar to a wing, but it wasn't a wow meal. The boy said 4, I said 3, hubby said 3.5, so 3.5 it averages out to. The muenster cheese, which we added because we thought we needed some sort of melty cheese, was totally superfluous. Next time, we'd leave it off.  For me, the thing I am happiest to add to the repertoire is the ranch dressing. I'm not a huge ranch fan, but I did dig this one, and it helped use up some of the buttermilk hanging out in the fridge. 

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

1 Lb  Ground chicken 
1/4 cup Buffalo  wing sauce plus more for drizzling
1 scallion, minced 
salt, fresh ground pepper, &  granulated garlic to taste (I think we used 1/2 tsp, 1/4 tsp, 1/4 tsp respectively but didn't measure.)
1.5 Ounce blue cheese, crumbled 
1/2  cup to Panko breadcrumbs
4 slices Munster cheese
Ranch dressing (recipe follows)
Shredded coleslaw 
4 hamburger buns

Mix slaw with ranch dressing. (Do this to your liking. We don't like too much dressing). Mix together chicken through the Panko  form the mixture in to patties. (It was pretty sticky). Brush some of the "drizzling" buffalo sauce over the patties. (Watch for cross contamination. Don't use the sauce that had the brush that touched raw chicken on anything else). Cook until done. (Ours took 5-7 minutes a side). We then used a clean brush to add a bit of buffalo sauce to the patty.Meanwhile, toast the buns.   We then topped them with the muenster and closed grill to let them melt.  Put a bit of ranch on the bottom bun, top with patty, then the coleslaw, then drizzle with the wing sauce to taste. 

Homemade Ranch Dressing

1 clove (to 2 Cloves) Garlic
Salt To Taste
1/4 cup Italian Flat-leaf Parsley
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives
1 cup (Real) Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Sour Cream
Buttermilk (as Needed To Desired Consistency)
White Vinegar (optional, To Taste)
Worcestershire Sauce, To Taste (optional)
Fresh Dill (optional, To Taste)
Cayenne Pepper (optional, To Taste)
Paprika (optional, To Taste)
Fresh Oregano (optional, To Taste)
Tabasco (optional, To Taste)

 (I didn't add any of the optional ingredients and I only added a little bit of the buttermilk.  Why?  Well I thought there was a lot going on with the burger and wanted as simple a ranch dressing I could get, and I thought that thicker would work better on the burger.  I will thin it with more buttermilk when I use it as salad dressing tomorrow)

Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about an 1/8 to ¼ teaspoons of salt on it and mash it into a paste with a fork. Chop the parsley, chives and any of the optional herbs very finely and add to the garlic.
In a bowl combine all ingredients, adding other optional ingredients as you wish, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, thin with milk or buttermilk if desired.
(Don’t overdo the garlic or you’ll be up all night, emailing me about your heartburn.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Coffee Coffeecake

About a million years ago, I made this espresso coffeecake from cooking light.  It was from an article of theirs called 'One Bowl Cakes', and we loved it.  Fast forward to the present, and I find myself wanting a piece of it, but the recipe was lost in one of our many moves.  A quick search of Cooking Light found this recipe under their 'myrecipes' tab.  Is it identical?  I don't think so.  It used more than one bowl for one thing, but as to the actual ingredients, I have no clue.  It isn't like your typical crumbly coffee cake in texture. It is more spongy, but still pretty tasty.

Coffee Coffeecake
1/3 Cup granulated sugar
4 1/2 Tsp instant espresso or 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/8 Tsp salt
1 Cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 1/2 Tbl stick margarine or butter melted
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
Cooking spray
2 Tbl finely chopped walnuts
2 Tsp 1% low-fat milk
1 Tsp instant espresso or 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1/3 Cup sifted powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine first 3 ingredients; set aside.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife.
Combine flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and
salt in a large bowl. Combine yogurt, margarine, vanilla, and egg; add
to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Spread half of cake batter into an 8-inch square cake pan coated with
cooking spray, and sprinkle with half of espresso mixture. Top with
remaining batter, spreading to cover; sprinkle with remaining espresso
mixture. Swirl batters together using a knife, and sprinkle with walnuts.
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until cake springs back when touched
lightly in center. Cool on a wire rack.
 Combine milk and 1 teaspoon espresso, stirring until coffee granules
dissolve, and stir in the powdered sugar. Drizzle espresso glaze over