Friday, January 31, 2014

Spicy Whiskey BBQ Sliders

I have my own odd food prejudices that I believe always apply even thought my husband delights in pointing out every time I enjoy one of those taboo foods.  One of those issues is with BBQ sauce.  Now I know there are a multitude of varieties of BBQ but I just kind of have an innate dislike of them.  If I am to eat BBQ, the sauce must be tomato based and a little sweet and a little spicy.  I really did like these sliders.  I took a BBQ sauce I "enjoy" and the addition of the whiskey was really great.  These weren't hard and they are great as dinner or party snacks. 

2 pounds Ground Meat (beef, Bison, Turkey)
Salt And Pepper
4 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Large Onion, Diced
1/2 cup Whiskey
1 cup Barbecue Sauce
1/4 cup Jarred Jalapeno Slices (more To Taste)

12 whole Slider Buns Or Dinner Rolls, Split

Form the meat into 12 (or so) miniature patties and salt and pepper them on both sides. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the patties until just about done in the middle, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the patties from the skillet and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of grease, then return the skillet to the stove.

Throw the diced onions in the skillet and stir to cook, about 3 minutes. Pour in whiskey (be careful if you're cooking over an open flame; turn it off momentarily to be extra careful) and stir. Allow the whiskey to reduce by half, about 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in jalapenos and the barbecue sauce.

Reduce the heat to low and place the patties in the barbecue sauce, turning to coat. Allow the patties to simmer in the sauce until everything's hot and bubbly.

Place the patties on individual buns and be sure to spoon extra sauce (with the jalapenos!) over the top of each one before topping with the other half of the bun.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cheesecake Cookies

Ok, I didn't pick the dessert this time, my husband did.  I don't like a recipe that starts with a box of anything.  The fact it said half a box was annoying too.  I doubled the recipe so I used the whole thing.  I also melted some currant jelly to fill some of the cookies rather than make them all caramel.  Despite my distrust of the box and my somewhat indifferent attitude towards sweets, I liked these.  The rest of the family, who do not share my prejudice, loved them. 

1/2 a Box of White Cake Mix
1 Egg
4 oz. Cream Cheese
2 tbsp. Melted Butter
1 Cup Caramel Sauce
1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs

A cupcake pan

In a medium bowl mix together the Cake mix, melted butter, egg & cream cheese.  use a spoon to really smear it and blend it well into a dough-like consistency!
Scoop some batter into a cupcake pan .about 1/4 the way up the sides…
Bake them at 350 for about 15 minutes, just until they’re firm.
While they’re warm, indent them with something smaller than they are to form a cookie cup…
Let them cool and then rub some water (or melted butter) lightly around the rim of the cookie cup and dip it into some Graham Cracker Crumbs

I made my caramel sauce:
In a saucepan, cover an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk with water. Simmer for 3 (I did mine 4)  hours, adding water as necessary to keep the can submerged in the water

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chicken Tinga Tacos

This recipe took some time but it was oven time so inactive time.  It was a nice take on a chicken soft taco.  It had some heat, but not too much.  If you have kids or diners that are really sensitive to spicy, you could half or eliminate the chipotle, but the sauce won't be nearly as good.  On a personal note, I think I am now half way through my back log of posts, and am feeling extra good/lazy so another short post :)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds trimmed, skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 canned chipotles in adobo, coarsely chopped
1 cup chicken broth
24 corn tortillas
2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled  (I used feta)

Sliced scallions and chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and pour off the fat in the skillet.

2. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet along with the onion. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned and softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the chipotles and the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, 20 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and let cool for 15 minutes. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Bake the chicken uncovered in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes, until the meat is tender and the sauce is very thick and darkened around the edges. Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven for about 10 minutes.

4. Remove the chicken from the sauce and shred the meat; discard the bones. Return the chicken meat to the sauce. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of chicken onto each tortilla and sprinkle with the crumbled cheese. Garnish the chicken tacos with the scallions and chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Make Ahead The tinga can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated gently.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Grilled Salmon

Ok here is a place you will really see the slacking. :)  We liked it and it was easy.  Company worthy? No.  But just because it wasn't an OMG doesn't mean write it off.  It was a snap to make and I thickly sliced some zucchini and broiled it right along with the salmon and the meat and veg was done at the same time.  I did use the thinner wild salmon and we like our veggies crisp if any of those don't apply to you, that would alter the cooking times.   I think I got it from and you can feel free to grill the salmon like the recipe says, but I recommend following my instructions I added at the end.  Easier and faster clean up that way.
Grilled Salmon

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
lemon pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
salt to taste
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Season salmon fillets with lemon pepper, garlic powder, and salt.

2. In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and vegetable oil until sugar is dissolved. Place fish in a large resalable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture, seal, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

3. Preheat grill for medium heat.

4. Lightly oil grill grate. Place salmon on the preheated grill, and discard marinade. Cook salmon for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.*
*(I broiled mine on high for 4-5 minutes on a parchment (or foil)  lined baking sheet with the zucchini cooking right along side the salmon.  You can do any veggie you like.  I also had steamed rice with it.

see easy cooking and cleaning

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Beer Cheese Soup

I got a craving for beer cheese soup.  I know I have had it in the past, but can't for the life of my remember where.  (or much about the soup itself for that matter)  So to the internet (insert your own batman music here).  I found this recipe and thought I would give it a go.  I have put off the post for so long, my recollection of the dish is vague.  Perhaps that is the best way to judge a dish, does it stay with you?  Well I do remember liking it, and I believe the rest of the family did too.

3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups of your favorite beer (I find that lighter wheat beers work best)
1 cup half and half
4 ounces sharp white cheddar, freshly grated
4 ounces extra sharp yellow cheddar, freshly grated
4 ounces colby jack, freshly grated
fresh herbs (I like cilantro) for garnish
salt and pepper to season if needed


Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add chopped bacon. Fry until crispy and fat is rendered, them remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. Reduce heat to low and add onions, peppers and garlic, stirring to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are translucent, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high and add in butter. Once sizzling, which in flour and cook for 3-4 minutes until flour is nutty and golden. Add in beer and stirring constantly, cook for 5 minutes so they alcohol cooks out and the mixture thickens a bit.

Add in half and half, then reduce heat to low and gradually add cheese while stirring. Stir until smooth, then fold in bacon and serve immediately. Garnish fresh chopped herbs over top

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lemon Loaf Cake

I am not a huge sweets person.  I do enjoy a sugary treat now and then, but savory is what I crave.  There are certain flavors of dessert that do strongly tempt me: Salted Caramel, Coconut, and Lemon!  Oh lemon just might be the biggest temptation of all.  (Lemon and Key lime that is;)  So when I saw this drool worthy pin for drenched lemon loaf cake, I knew that was a sweet I had to make.  It was worth every minute of work and calorie consumed.  That was just my opinion, my husband liked it even more!  Considering that I am a idiot when it comes to baking, and that I pulled it off, I think it is safe to assume that it was easy to make:)  I have a bit of a confession.  Check out that lovely picture of my lemon loaf cake over there to the right.  Check out the bottom of the post to see what it really looked like if you saw it from the other end :)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt or sour cream
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest or 2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan (I use Wilton’s Cake Release). Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter and flour the entire pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1 cup of the sugar, eggs, lemon zest or extract, and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, whisking to combine (I did this in 2-3 additions). Use a rubber spatula to fold the vegetable oil into the batter until it’s fully incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester stuck in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, combine the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it and placing it on a baking rack over a sheet pan. Use a cake tester, wooden skewer, or toothpick to carefully pierce holes throughout the cake (I used a toothpick so the holes wouldn’t be too obvious, but a skewer might have made deeper holes in the cake, allowing more syrup to get through). While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice, whisking to form a smooth glaze. Pour over the cake. Slice and serve with fresh berries, whipped cream, or ice cream.


Yes we dug in to it as soon as it was glazed and forgot all about the picture
but thankfully we only nibbled from one end ;)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Arugula & Chicken Sausage Bread Pudding

While I can't say anyone was wowed by the dish, it wasn't bad, and it seems like it would be pretty healthy and waistline friendly.  I love savory bread puddings, but I would switch up the fillings next time and see if it was the ingredients or perhaps it is just the lack of egg yolks:).  This recipe is worth doing just to learn the basic savory bread pudding technique because it is a great way to use up a bunch of cooked meat or veggies and because it makes a great (and easy) breakfast.

4 large egg whites
4 large eggs
1 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup sliced fresh basil
4 cups whole-grain bread, crusts removed if desired, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1/2 pound, 4-6 slices)
5 cups chopped arugula, wilted (see Tip)
3/4 cup chopped artichoke hearts, frozen (thawed) or canned

1 cup diced cooked chicken sausage, (5 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an 11-by-7-inch glass baking dish or a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.

2. To prepare custard: Whisk egg whites, eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Add mustard, salt, pepper and basil: whisk to combine.

3. Toss bread, arugula, artichokes and sausage in a large bowl. Add the custard and toss well to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and push down to compact. Cover with foil.

4. Bake until the custard has set, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and continue baking until the pudding is puffed and golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Beef Stew with Port and Porcini

So this was the next dinner I made for my family that's visiting.  It was a cold weekend and  I thought something like a stew cooked for a long time in the oven sounded like just the thing to make.  It was more laborious than I would ordinarily do (that is if I wasn't craving something or having guests:) but I wanted something nice for my parents.  It was a good stew.  Even the people who didn't like mushrooms were pleased with the dish.  I think for most people, this would be a special occasion kind of dish because of the time and the bit of work involved, but stew is not an "impressive" meal despite how tasty it might be, so this dish may fall in to a small niche for most, but don't et that dissuade you from trying it.  I served it with noodles but I would have preferred mashed potatoes to put it over.

3 pounds beef chuck roast, fat trimmed, meat cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 thyme sprigs, plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 cup pure olive oil
1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (1/2 cup)
1 cup ruby port
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

1. In a large bowl, toss the beef chuck with the onions, garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, pure olive oil and 1 cup of the red wine; season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

2. Drain the meat. Transfer the meat to a paper towel–lined plate and pat dry; reserve the onion mixture separately.

3. In a medium heatproof bowl, cover the dried porcini with the port. Microwave at high power for 1 minute, until the porcini are softened; let cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the porcini to a food processor. Add the tomato paste and half of the porcini soaking liquid and process until smooth. Reserve the remaining porcini soaking liquid.

4. In a large, heavy casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderately high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved onion mixture and the celery and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion-bacon mixture to a bowl.

5. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the casserole. Dust the meat with flour, shaking off any excess. Add half of the meat to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to the bowl with the onion-bacon mixture. Lower the heat to moderate and brown the remaining meat.

6. Return all of the meat and the onion mixture to the casserole and stir until sizzling. Add the porcini paste and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the carrots and sliced shiitake caps. Add the stock, the remaining red wine and the remaining porcini soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, about 2 hours. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

7. Uncover the stew and cook over moderate heat until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the parsley and 2 teaspoons of chopped thyme, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Make Ahead The stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Black Bean Soup with Sherry

I decided to try this soup because ti was cold out and my parents ere coming in town and I knew black beans are always a crowdpleaser.  I have made black beans many times, but never a black bean soup.  This was good and fast and liked by everyone.  I am really slacking on the blog and phoning it in when I actually work on it, but I have a plan.  I am deciding on new parameters on posting.  Until now, I was posting ever night.  (you know to keep on track with not repeating etc...)  I think now I will post only one or two a week.  So until I know just what the heck I'm doing and I have caught up with the unfinished posts, expect me to be a slacker and mostly just have a recipe:).  And I totally forgot to take a picture, but I think it doesn't tax the imagination too much to imagine a bowl of black bean soup ;).

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
Two 15-1/2-oz. cans black beans, including liquid
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1/4 cup dry sherry, preferably fino
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy-duty pot over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, purée the chicken broth with one can of black beans and bean liquid in a blender.

Add the cumin and oregano to the pot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in the black bean purée and the remaining whole beans with their liquid; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and simmer, stirring frequently, until the flavors are melded, about 10 minutes. Stir in the sherry and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Green Salad with Chorizo Chips

This salad is a wonderful side or main dish.  The chorizo chips are a great change up from croutons or bacon bits.  The Spanish flavors are delicious! It is, like all salads, super fast, and despite the sausage, not too fattening :)

Green Salad with Chorizo Chips

6 ounces dry chorizo, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
4 large radishes, thinly sliced
3/4 cup Spanish green olives, sliced
4 ounces mesclun

2 heads baby Bibb lettuce, leaves torn

1. Line a large microwave-safe plate with paper towels. Arrange half of the chorizo slices on the plate and cover with a paper towel. Microwave at high power for 1 minute; the fat should be rendered and the chorizo slightly browned. If it is not yet browned, cover and microwave at 20-second intervals until done. Transfer the cooked chorizo to a plate to cool; it will crisp as it cools. Repeat with the remaining chorizo.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar and the shallots with the olive oil and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the celery, radishes, olives, mesclun and Bibb lettuce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the chorizo chips and serve right away.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lamb Tagine with Chestnuts, Saffron and Pomegranate Seeds

My darling husband chose a lamb tagine tonight. It was great. I did have some trouble with the chestnuts; I assumed they were peeled and they weren't. Yeah, big pain in the butt!  I also have issues with the woody parts of pomegranate arils, but despite that, it was wonderful. My husband liked it at first, but with every bite, he grew more and more enamored with the dish.   If you haven't tried Moroccan food, you just have to!  Put it on your menu right now, I'll wait, go on, do it. :). Moroccan food does have a lot going on flavor wise, but it's magical how all the pungent, salty, sweet flavors just work.  Now that I have built it up, I'm going to add a but...  But, since I have set your expectations so high, it can't meet them right?  And, but, you also need to be mindful of how our minds deal with new flavors. New flavors are interpreted often as bad. An unexpected boon from doing all these new recipes was that we are training our brains to have new mean new and new and unexpected is enjoyable at least because of its novelty even if it isn't something we love.   So, if you are someone who doesn't love trying new things, this will most certainly be a challenge for you, but keep on trying it. I promise you it is so worth it in the end. 

Lamb Tagine with Chestnuts, Saffron and Pomegranate Seeds

2 tablespoons ghee or 1 tablespoon olive oil plus a pat of butter
2  onions finely chopped 
4  garlic clove finely chopped
thumb size piece of fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped or shredded
pinch of saffron threads
1 to 2 cinnamon sticks 
2 pounds of lean lamb from the shoulder or leg cut into bite-size pieces 
8 ounces peeled chestnuts 
1 to 2 tablespoons dark runny honey 
seeds of one pomegranate pith removed
leaves from small bunch of fresh mint, chopped
leaves from small bunch of cilantro, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper 
crusty bread or plain buttery couscous to serve

Heat the ghee in a tagine or heavy based are casserole dish.  Stir the onions garlic and ginger and sauté until they begin the color add the saffron and cinnamon sticks.  Toss in the lamb, pour enough water to almost cover the meat and bring it to a boil.  reduce heat and cover with a lid and simmer gently for about one hour 
Add the chestnuts and stir in the honey cover  again and cook gently for 30  minutes, until the meat is very tender season to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper and then toss in some of the pomegranate seeds mint and cilantro.

Scatter remaining pomegranate seeds, mint and cilantro over the lamb serve with crusty bread or plain buttery couscous

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mushroom Asiago Chicken

Another Pinterest recipe. This recipe is very good and pretty simple to make. I strongly suggest you choose your wine carefully and pick a pretty good one. The flavor of the wine strongly represented in the final dish.  The chicken was tender and juicy. I am still calling in fixable because I want to play with it. It is missing something that is just keeping it short of stellar. My husband thinks it should be green and somewhat herby. Scallions was his final vote for what to add. I think adding some scallions at the end  would be very nice. 

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (about 2 large)
2 cups mushrooms, cut in half
1 clove garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup seasoned flour
2 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4-1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
seasoned flour:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tri-Color latkes

I used the latke recipe on the blog, so no recipe tonight, just an admonishment to switch out some of your potatoes (or any time you can for that matter) for the healthier versions of  it like the sweet potato.  I tried this because I had a bunch of different potatoes (sweet, purple sweet and Yukon golds) and was determined to not orthodox them go to waste. We all do love a good latke (which in a moment of what could only be madness, I induced my daughter to eat them by calling them Hanukkah fries and has now stuck:) so latkes were what we decided to make with all these odds and ends. Now raw, these guys looked awesome and kind of like coleslaw. 
Unfortunately they didn't look as cool once all golden brown from cooking. We topped them with an over medium egg because a runny yolk makes almost anything better. 

The end result?  These were the best latkes we have ever had!  They didn't taste totally like a sweet potato, but they were infinitely richer in flavor than just plain ole white potato.