Archive | March, 2010

Asparagus

25 Mar

Well, here you go, Christy! I have two basic recipes and one fancier version of this that all are pretty awesome. I meant to post these recipes yesterday, but I have been traveling and am currently out of the country! Crazy, right?! Also, because I am out and about and I am just so super smart, there won’t be any photos of these recipes….definitely brought the camera, but not the cord to upload the pictures. Whoopsie.

Anyways, I like my asparagus plain and simple–either boiled or roasted. I prefer boiling it and then melting a little butter on top with some salt and pepper because its a little faster than roasting. If you roast it, the asparagus becomes a little crispy and takes on a nutty flavor. Both ways are equally delicious and really easy. There’s also an extended version of the roasted asparagus with some added goodness. Sorry this post is so short, but, life with a stranger anxious 1 year old and no Gordon to help has proved to be time consuming. More to come later!

Asparagus (I)
yield: 4 small portions

Ingredients:
1 lb. asparagus
2 tablespoons butter
salt
pepper

Directions:
Wash asparagus under cool water and snap the ends off. Place prepared asparagus into large shallow pan with just enough water to cover. Top with lid and bring water to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and uncover. Cook 5-7 minutes or until crisp tender. Drain. Place cooked asparagus back into same pan and toss with butter, salt and pepper until completely coated. Serve immediately.

Asparagus (II)
yield: 4 small portions

Ingredients:
1 lb. asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt
pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash asparagus under cool water and snap ends off. Pat dry and place on baking sheet. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake 10 minutes and toss. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes more. Remove and serve.

Extended yummy ‘fancier’ version:
So, follow the recipe for roasted asparagus AND THEN, 2 minutes before they are done, remove from the oven and sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Return to oven for the remaining 2 minutes and then remove. Serve these little babies warm. These asparagus are nutty, cheesy and lemony! A delicious and different take on asparagus!

Cheesy Mini Puffs—aka party in your mouth!

23 Mar
First of all, I got a fun little comment/question about asparagus from a girl named Christy!
Dear Christy (and any other person who has a question about asparagus)–
Your blog post is coming! I am thinking about a few recipes to fiddle with tomorrow and then you should have your answer in Wednesday or Friday’s post! Thank you so much for asking! I’m really excited to (hopefully) give you a few culinary answers and new recipes!
Sincerly,
Lo
Ok, now, lets talk about some fabulous food, shall we?!

Move over garlic bread! There’s a new kid in town! Holy hannah, do I love my carbs…. especially when you add in lots of cheese and the occasional garlic flavor. Whip up some spaghetti or baked ziti (which is what we had tonight) and dinner is in the bag! These mini puffs are really really easy to make. I took this amazing garlic cheesy biscuit recipe which I got from my brother-in-law and adapted it to make these. (And, PS–that garlic cheesy biscuit recipe is a knock off from those Red Lobster biscuits! AND, its written below too! You are welcome my friends! I promise you will be thanking me later)


Now, I suppose you’re thinking its more work to make mini versions of something that was once bigger, but let me explain myself. Yes, it is easier to just do the drop biscuit thing and be done with it, but my favorite part of anything cheesy is the crispy cheese on the edges or on the bottom. So, this afternoon I did some simple calculations is my head:
“If I make smaller ones and add more cheese……
(I think you see where this is going)
…..there is more surface area to make more crispy cheesy heavenly goodness!!! Eureka!”
Genius, right?!
Haha…..anyways, these are awesome and delicious and perfectly sized for my tofu loving daughter. (The whole tofu thing is a new discovery/development that transpired today….we’re doing further investigating….)
Your next spaghetti/lasagna/manicotti/cannelloni/alfredo night, whip these up and see what you think! You might just give up on garlic bread altogether! No promises.
Garlic Cheesy Biscuits (Red Lobster knock-off)
yield: 8 medium sized biscuits
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (*see recipe tips)
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt (*see recipe tips)
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease large baking sheet. In large bowl, mix all dry ingredients to combine. Cut cold butter into flour mixture until course/corse (sp?…lost my brain). Stir in grated cheese and all milk. Mix until all ingredients are moist and flour is absorbed. Drop by large spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet. This should make around 8 good sized biscuits. Bake 12-15 minutes or until bottoms are browned and tops are starting to brown. Cool 5 minutes and remove from baking sheet. Serve warm.
For the Cheesy Mini Puffs
yield: 20 minis
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (*see recipe tips)
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt (*see recipe tips)
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease mini muffin tin. In large bowl, mix all dry ingredients to combine. Cut cold butter into flour mixture until course/corse (sp?…lost my brain). Stir in grated cheese and all milk. Mix until all ingredients are moist and flour is absorbed. Using small cookie scoop, drop dough into prepared muffin tin. You should get close to 20 mini cheese puffs. Bake 8-10 minutes or until sides are browned and tops are starting to brown. Cool 5 minutes and remove from tins. Serve warm.
Recips TIPS:
-**You can use garlic powder in place of the garlic salt, however, you will want to increase the salt to 1-1 1/2 teaspoons.

Letcho

20 Mar
So, I’m writing this post en route to Boise! How cool is that? Technology is awesome. Where would we be without laptops, cell phones and internet? I don’t want to think about it……..Anyways……….



This dinner probably doesn’t look like much, but when my Mom told us we were having Letcho for dinner, we went crazy for it. For me to say that my siblings and I LOVE this stuff would be an understatement. It brings us back to being kids and trading our vegetables at the dinner table.


“I’ll trade my mushrooms for your green peppers”

OR

“I’ll trade your 2 pieces of meat for the rest of my rice”


etc. etc.


Surprisingly, my parents didn’t care too much that we did this. In retrospect, I guess it’s not that big of a deal. Speaking of my parents, this meal has a lot of significance for them. Maybe not a whole lot of significance, but significance none the less. This is the meal that my Opa (thats Grandpa in german) made for my Dad the first time my Mom brought him home to meet the parents back in the day when they were dating! Funny part of this story is that my Opa purposely used the spiciest sausage he could find to ‘see how much of a man’ my Dad was. It apparently didn’t scare him off because soon after they were engaged! 30+ years and 6 kids later, we all still eat and crave letcho. Its just plain ol’ good, simple Hungarian food.


This whole meal doesn’t take a lot of prep work, just some chopping of the vegetables and meat. Then after that, you sauté it all, add the rice and cook it in tomato or vegetable juice. *Side note: My Mom always made this with tomato juice, but I have found that if you make it with some vegetable juice (like V8) it adds more nutrition and tastes exactly the same. So really, its up to you. Also, if you wanted to try brown rice, go for it! I’ve never tried making this with brown rice, but it should work just fine–it just might take a little longer to cook. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post for the recipe tips! They will help you not burn your food or have to scrub your pot! Enjoy and you’re welcome.




Letcho

yield: 6 servings


Ingredients:


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 cup mushrooms, washed and sliced

2 pre cooked sausages, slices (I used pepperoni, but you can use your favorite kind of sausage)

2 cups long grain rice

4 1/2 cups vegetable juice or tomato juice

salt

pepper



Directions:

1. Preheat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Pretend there’s a photo of that here.


2. Take your chopped onions and peppers and throw them into the pot. Saute 5-ish minutes.


3. Cut your mushrooms and sausage up and throw those into the pot too.


It’ll look something like this.


4. Add in the rice and stir it around until its moist.


5. Add in the vegetable juice, salt and pepper and stir.


Make sure you cover it up! This is the brand of pots and pans I have and I love love love them. Look here and here for these pots and pans! Reduce heat to medium and lightly simmer for 30-45 minutes until the juice has been absorbed and the rice is soft. Look below for a great tip!

This is what it should look like once its all done!



Recipe TIPS:

-You should stir the rice every 5-10 minutes to prevent sticking and burning! It also helps things cook evenly.

-Also, in the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir the pot and turn the burner off leaving the lid on. This will loosen up any stuck rice on the bottom of the pot as well as finish cooking the rice completely.

St. Patrick’s Day Recipe: Minty Squares!! YUM!

18 Mar

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m certainly not Irish, but my husband is! (By the way, I did kiss him today because he was Irish…..no need to wear the t-shirt!) We don’t really celebrate this ‘holiday’ with the typical corned beef and cabbage, but I knew lots of you out there would be, so I just HAD to make something green, even if it this recipe is getting to you a little late!
[Speaking of recipes…… back in my single days, I had this wonderful friend and roommate who made these utterly delicious Irish soda bread biscuits that were seriously to die for. I was going to share that recipe with you today, EXCEPT……my friend LOST(!!!gasp!!!) the recipe! I couldn’t believe it. On her behalf, I’m sorry. Maybe next year when she finds it again……tear.]

Ok, so I know these aren’t squares but they really are supposed to be! Here’s the deal: I have lost my beautiful 8×8 pyrex glass pan which I love dearly. I’m not sure if I brought someone food in it or if it got lost between one of the four (thats right 4!) moves. ANYWAYS, for this recipe, you’re really supposed to use a 8×8 dish and cut out little squares….not take up your whole afternoon making teeny tiny bite-sized minis (although they are pretty darn cute if I do say so myself.)

This recipe is a family favorite and is so simple to do! I grew up making and eating these. Don’t know where this recipe originated, but I copied it (TWICE) directly out of my mom’s recipe box before I moved away to college. Its like a nanaimo bar, except minty (and if you don’t know what a nanaimo bar is, go find yourself a canadian to explain it to you.) I love mint and chocolate together! Who am I kidding–I love anything and chocolate together. I am addicted to food after all. Anyways, these dessert bars are made up of three layers: a chocolaty cookie graham cracker type later, a minty creamy GREEN layer, and a chocolate layer. You just mix 1 layer up at a time letting it chill in the fridge in between. So simple and so good! Try them out for a belated St. Patrick’s Day treat!
PS–I haven’t met anyone who DIDN’T like these.
Minty Squares
Yield: at least 16 servings
for the 1st layer
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Generously grease 8×8 square baking dish (like my beloved pyrex……rest in peace where ever you are little buddy). You could also line the dish with waxed paper. In large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut and nuts. Set aside. In small pot, boil butter, sugar and cocoa for 30 seconds while stirring. Temper egg into cocoa mixture by first pouring some of the hot mixture into the egg while stirring and then pouring that mixture into the rest of the pot while stirring. Once egg is tempered, pour entire contents of pot into dry ingredients. Stir until everything is combined and moist. Press firmly into prepared dish set in fridge and make 2nd layer.
for the 2nd layer:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 cups powdered sugar
green food coloring
Whip all ingredients together until smooth. Pour onto first layer and smooth evenly. Refrigerate. Make 3rd layer.
for 3rd layer:
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
Microwave chocolate with butter until completely melted and smooth. Spread over second layer evenly. Refrigerate until completely set. Cut into squares.
Recipe TIPS:
-I have found that it is best to wait at least 30 minutes in between making the 2nd and 3rd layer because it is very difficult to spread thick melted chocolate onto the minty cream layer when it hasn’t firmed up enough. The two layers seem to mix together instead of being two distinct layers.
-If you want things to go quickly, put your pan into the freezer in between layers so it hardens faster, although beware! The chocolate layer won’t cut too easily/prettily. If you’re going for looks, use a sharp knife and store in the fridge/on the counter until the chocolate has set.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

15 Mar

Breakfast food at its finest! I love pancakes. Love love love pancakes. Not exactly sure what it is about pancakes that makes me want to change into sweat pants and curl up with a blanket….all I know is its a good feeling to have and its a good smell to have in your house. My one year old LOVES pancakes too. Its one of the only things she’ll eat in the morning. Same with my husband. Weird…..I guess that’s what happens when we’re all related!
Anyways, I forgo the butter on mine and hers, but don’t let that stop you from slathering it on your stack of pancakes. Apparently, its delicious. Growing up, we never put butter on our pancakes or waffles (not that we ate waffles regularly or anything) so its completely up to you (and your doctor) whether or not to do the butter thing. My husband needs butter, syrup and powdered sugar to make his pancakes edible. Peanut butter and syrup is quite tasty too!
And now, a word about the whole wheat thing: you can substitute all whole wheat flour, half whole wheat half all-purpose or all all-purpose flour. It’s completely up to you. I did half and half because I like the chewiness the whole wheat flour adds and the smooth texture from the all-purpose. Its a good blend. But, like I said before, its completely your choice. Also, buttermilk is a delicious low fat inexpensive dairy product that adds great flavor and keeps the pancakes moist. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, just use regular milk with a splash of white vinegar. I love me some pancakes.
Now, in my opinion, non-stick griddles and skillets work the best for pancake making. I use a pan just like this and its wonderful! A griddle would be just as good…..maybe even better because you can do multiple pancakes at once! And, its always good to have a nice big spatula to help with the flipping part. Happy eating!

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Yield: 12 small pancakes
Ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk (or do the milk & vinegar substitution discussed above)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions:
1. Preheat non-stick griddle or non-stick skillet to medium heat.
2. In large bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg and oil together until well mixed. Gently stir in dry ingredients until combined. Batter will be thick!
3. Lightly grease hot griddle with butter. Using a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measure, pour batter onto hot surface, spreading into a thin circle. Cook until bottom has browned and bubbles start appearing on top of the surface, 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook 30 more seconds. Remove and serve immediately OR store in a warm oven.

Creamy ‘Green Curry’ Soup

12 Mar

Can you guess what is in this soup? If you’re thinking along the lines of everything that goes into a traditional green curry, you are WRONG. Yes, I used curry powder, but its split peas that makes this soup green! Crazy, right? Well, let me tell you how un-crazy and delicious this soup is. It is so so so so so good. It’s creamy in taste and texture thanks to the blended peas and other veggies as well as the cream! The taste is very pleasant and not too strong. Some times when curry is involved I think strong flavors, but this is the opposite. I purposely added less so it wouldn’t be so overpowering. Its obvious that the curry powder is there, but it won’t blow you away. Its just a lovely soup that takes you out of the ordinary rut.
My 1 year old loved it as well as my husband. Actually, after asking what he thought of it, Gordon started his sentence like this : “I don’t like soups like this….(me in my head:”WHAT?” I was in utter shock and disbelief that he could not like this soup-I started having a nervous breakdown which was slowly leading to heart failure when he said)….usually, but this one is delicious!” Maybe that was a total over exaggeration on my part, but it did give me quite the little scare.
Moral of the story: make this and love it. The end.
PS- Did I mention its healthy too?! Just looking out for your well being! You’re welcome.
Creamy ‘Green Curry’ Soup
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup green split peas (you know, the dried kind that are really inexpensive!)
2 chicken bouillon cubes (I used Knorr)
6 cups hot water
salt & pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon curry powder (plain yellow curry powder….not spicy)
1/2 cup cream (You can use milk too, but why?!)
Directions:
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add in onion and sauté 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and carrots. Cook another 5 minutes. Stir in split peas until they are coated in remaining olive oil and residual juices from vegetables. Add in all remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat and lightly simmer until peas are very soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once peas have softened completely, remove bay leaf and blend with immersion blender, blender or food processor. Stir in cream and keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

Chicken Paprikash

11 Mar

To me, this is heaven on a plate. Chicken Paprikash is a Hungarian dish that my mom made a lot when I was a kid. I am part Hungarian, part German and part Romanian, so we ate a lot of ethnic food in my house….probably because it was better for us and it was a heck of a lot cheaper than eating out! I come from a large family and we usually only ate out maybe twice a year if we were lucky. Let me tell you why this is amazing to me: we practically ate home cooked meals every day-meaning my Mom cooked dinner every evening! Nothing processed, nothing pre-done. Incredible! And she had 6 kids no less! I have 1 and its tough!

Anyways, this dish is like a Hungarian version of chicken cacciatore……sort of. Its a tangy tomato sauce with onions, peppers, mushrooms and chicken overtop rice, pasta or nookedly–small homemade dumplings. I used bone-in chicken thighs and removed the skin and any excess fat to make it a little more figure friendly. Thats how my mom did it, so thats how I do it. Thats probably the hardest and most time consuming part of the recipe…..and skinning chicken really isn’t difficult AT ALL. You’ll have to chop some veggies and do some stirring, but other then that its easy breezy! I like to use a pretty deep skillet (like this) but a pot will work well, too! Try something new and interesting today!
Chicken Paprikash
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika (not smoked, not spicy…just the plain stuff)
1-1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, skinned (4-6 pieces)
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used organic)
1/4 cup water
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh diced tomatoes (preferably sweet ones–I used cherry tomatoes)
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
lots of salt
pepper
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
Directions:
1. In deep skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add in onion and sautee 2 minutes.
2. Stir in paprika and cook 2 more minutes ensuring it doesn’t burn! Careful!
3. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken pieces into pan to brown each side (about 3 minutes per side)
4. Add in fresh and canned tomatoes, green peppers, salt and pepper. Lightly simmer (covered) over medium-low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour stirring and turning chicken occasionally.
5. In the last 15 minutes of cooking add in mushrooms.
6. In small bowl, stir sour cream and flour together until smooth. In the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, remove chicken and stir in sour cream mixture to thicken sauce. Stir chicken back in to reheat. Once thoroughly heated through, serve hot over rice, pasta or nookedly.
Recipe TIPS
-Once you add your paprika into the cooking onions, watch it carefully! It can burn easily!
-If you don’t have canned tomatoes but you have fresh (or vice versa) you can easily substitute them for each other.
– This recipe needs lots of salt. Keep salting as you go, little by little. Before you serve it, do a taste test just to make sure its still good. After the sour cream is added, it tends to need a little more salt and pepper.