Friday, January 29, 2010

Long Boy Burgers

Long Boy Burgers. Have you ever heard of them? I hadn't. I happened across a recipe called "Long Boy Burgers" while flipping through my copy of Cook's Country. Very interested in new and different recipes, I read about the history of the Long Boy. In short, the Long Boy is a 1960's retro recipe that is much like an open-faced meatloaf sandwich, served atop a toasted sub roll or hot dog bun.

I knew I had to make this recipe for several reasons:
*We love meatloaf
*I wanted to use my brand new deli baskets and red checked liners
*it was quick, fun, easy and economical
*I had just made fresh homemade hot dog buns for my HBin5 group

Long Boy Cheeseburgers -adapted from Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 4 -8 **The Long Boys came out rather large. You could easily cut each Long Boy in half and have a very satisfying portion***(Be sure to spread the meat to the edges of rolls, or the bread will burn)
2 (6-inch) sub rolls split in half lengthwise
1-1/4 cups cornflakes, crushed
1/2 small onion, minced
1/3 cup whole or lowfat milk
6 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper
1-1/2 pounds 90 percent lean ground beef
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Toast Rolls - Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake rolls, cut side up, on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

2. Make Meat Mix - Combine cornflakes, onion, milk, 4 tablespoons ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, garlic powder, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Add meat and knead gently until well combined.

3. Bake Burgers - Top toasted rolls evenly with meat mixture, spreading meat to edges of rolls. Brush top of meat mixture evenly with remaining ketchup and bake until meat registers 160 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes. Top burgers with cheese and continue to bake until cheese melts, 3 to 4 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

Results/Notes: This recipe was unique and fun! The kids loved the deli baskets and checked liners. The burgers were much like an open-faced meatloaf sandwich. All in all, it was a cute idea that made for a fun dinner. I really loved this batch of HBin5 dough. The soft sandwich bread was delicious and the hot dog buns were easy to form and baked up well. The soft whole wheat dough is definitely a recipe that I will enjoy over and over in my kitchen.

I recently joined up with a new group, hosted by Michelle of Big Black Dog, to bake my way through the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook. Our challenge this time around was to make one recipe of Soft Whole Wheat dough, a great soft dough enriched with eggs. We were to make one loaf of Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, which I enjoyed with some peanut butter and jelly (my personal favorite). The bread was nice and soft and much more satisfying than that plain old white bread stuff.The other part of our challenge was to make either Hamburger Buns or Hot Dog Buns. Inspired by the Long Boy Burger, I chose the Hot Dog Buns and they worked perfectly in that recipe. Head on over the Michelle's site HERE on Feb 1st to check out any of the other bread bakers.

Have you ever heard of a Long Boy?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Southern-Style Baked Beans, Pioneer Style

At my house, baked beans are somewhat like a condiment. We love them so much that we top our baked potatoes with them, spread them on our garlic toast, put them on a burger, and more. Baked beans compliment so many things, but they go best with pulled pork, which is what we had last night.

I've tried a couple different recipes for baked beans over the years and they have all been good recipes. Last night I made Pioneer Woman's Southern-Style Baked Beans, which are topped with bacon and baked in the oven for 2 hours. They were outstanding! I served them along with Tyler's pulled pork, baked potatoes, and garlic toast. The baked beans were the best part of the meal. We loved them. The sauce was thick and tangy with pieces of onion and green pepper running throughout. The bacon formed a crispy coating worth fighting over. This will be our new "go to" recipe for baked beans.

Quick Southern-Style Baked Beans-adapted from Pioneer Woman
**Serves up to 18- recipe is easily halved
8 slices bacon, halved
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1/2 medium green pepper, cut into small dice
3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup distilled or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dry mustard or 2 tablespoons Dijon

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released about 1/4 cup drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Add onions and peppers to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans and remaining ingredients bring to a simmer. (If skillet is not large enough, add beans and heat to a simmer then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients). Pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by 9-inch (or similar size) ovenproof pan. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

I am submitting this recipe to Foodie Fans of the Pioneer Woman, which is a new group that hosts bimonthly roundups of Ree's recipes. This time around we are making salad and vegetable dishes. Head on over there to see what everyone else is cooking up!

A Presidential Visit & Lunch in My Hometown: Elyria, Ohio

Today the President of the United States paid a visit to my hometown Elyria, Ohio. This is big news if you're from a small town, just shy of 60,000 people. In it's heyday, Elyria was a booming and thriving city supported by auto and steel factories. When I was young, it seemed that everyone's Dad worked at Ford, GM or the steel plant. It was just a given. By the time I reached adulthood things had started to change. They were little changes at first, but things quickly got worse. Before you knew it, steel companies closed down, the Big 3 started having layoffs, automotive plants started closing, and businesses and people starting leaving town. Now the unemployment rate is at 10.9%, which is worse than last year.

I've been in Kentucky for about seven years now, but I love to go back home and visit my Dad and my best friends. It makes my heart so happy to cross over into that city line. The people are friendly and genuine and everybody pretty much knows everybody. But, after the excitement wears off, I start to look around and take notice. I take notice of the homes that are vacant, the factories that are boarded up and the businesses that are closed down. I look around and see how much the city has changed, and not for the best. I think about the people I know who are fighting to stay in their homes and having trouble finding jobs and it makes me sick to my stomach. I hate that this is happening in my hometown. I hate that it is happening all over America.

I am glad that Barack Obama chose Elyria as one of the cities on his "White House to Main Street" tour. It seems his visit has lifted the spirits of the city, helping everyone to think positively.

One thing everyone is talking about, is where President Obama had lunch. It seems he dined at Smitty's Place, which is a bar and grill just outside of the downtown area. It's just a neighborhood place where friends meet to indulge in the famous "Smitty burger". Some may even consider it to be a "dive" or a "hole in the wall". Just this past summer, our fifteen year high school reunion was held at Smitty's. Some of us would have preferred somewhere a little nicer, but we sucked it up and enjoyed our reunion outside on the patio at Smitty's. Not one of us would've thought that the President would ever dine at Smitty's, but today he did.
His 24-car motorcade pulled up outside of Smitty's this afternoon and the President dined on his very own Smitty burger, a thin hamburger patty with shredded lettuce, sliced pickles and a dressing somewhat like tartar sauce (delicious). The President's lunch set him back about $4.35. It seems he even bought lunch for some of the regulars.

My phone was ringing off the hook as my girlfriends called to tell me about this. We all laughed and chuckled, remembering just months ago when we stood in the very same spot doing shots with our graduating class.

Here is a picture of me (on the far right) with some friends inside Smitty's this summer.

Here's to my hometown and yours! Let's hope for a brighter tomorrow!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ina Garten's Broccoli & Bowties And Nigella's Cheesecake

I haven't been cooking a lot of new recipes this lately. Instead, I have been repeating some new favorites. A few weeks ago I made Copycat Broccoli Cheese Soup from Panera and it was so good that I have made it two more times since then. It has become one of my new favorite recipes. I have also made peanut butter and chocolate chip muffins twice, which is a recipe I got from Donna at My Tasty Treasures. Those muffins are super delicious and everyone loves them. Another favorite this month was Ina Garten's herb-marinated loin of pork, which I just made again last night. We loved Ina's version of pork tenderloin so much that it is our new "go to" recipe for pork tenderloin. I used Ina's biscuit recipe to top my ham pot pie and we loved the biscuits so much that I made them again for breakfast a couple days later.

On a roll with Ina's recipes, I decided to make her Broccoli and Bowties (recipe found here). It begins with four heads of broccoli which are cooked in boiling, salted water for 3 minutes and then added to 1/2 pound of cooked bowtie pasta. A sauce is made from butter, olive oil, minced garlic, and lemon zest and poured over the pasta. The pasta is topped with toasted pine nuts and Parmigiano-Regiano.

I think I had rather high expectations for this dish and although it was good, it wasn't great. I enjoyed the broccoli and pasta and loved the hint of the garlic and lemon, but I would rate this more along the lines of a solid three stars, possibly four stars. I guess they can't all be five-stars!

For dessert I broke out my new springform pan and made Nigella's cheesecake from Nigella Express. Nigella's cheesecake is a no bake recipe with a graham cracker crust. In her cookbook, she tops her cheesecake with cherries. We didn't have any cherries so I topped ours with chocolate sauce. The recipe went together in about 10 minutes and was super easy. After chilling in the refrigerator for a couple of hours it was ready to eat.

Nigella's cheesecake recipe can be found here, online at Food Network. The cheesecake filling is a combination of cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla folded into whipped cream. I tasted the cheesecake filling before adding it to the pan and found that it needed a little more sugar. I added about 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar to the filling. Nigella's instructions tell you to fold the whipped cream into the thick cream cheese mixture, which was almost next to impossible. Instead, I mixed the two in my Kitchenaid mixer and I think it worked out fine.

The cheesecake was light and creamy and we liked it, but it wasn't anything spectacular. The upside of this recipe is that it can be thrown together with very few ingredients and also very little time. Great if you need a dessert in a hurry and don't have time to run to the store.
I am submitting this cheesecake to I Heart Cooking Clubs. This week's theme is potluck, which means anything goes. Head on over to the to see what everyone else is cooking up this week.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pretzel Baguettes and Cheese of the Month: Red Dragon with Mustard Seeds and Ale

It's no secret that I love bread and cheese. I may have even shared my unnatural love for mustard a time or two. Imagine my surprise when I found this Red Dragon Mustard Seed and Ale Cheese for sale at my Whole Foods. There was only one wedge left and it had my name written all over it. As I stared at the cheese, admiring it's red casing and it's visual appeal, I started to daydream about all the ways I could use it. I must have been off in another world, which happens a lot by the way, because the cheesemonger was talking to me and I didn't hear him. He said "We have a pretzel baguette that goes great with that cheese." MAMA SAY WHAT?

Imagine my delight at the words he spoke! Pretzel baguette. That's genius, I thought to myself, as I squealed in delight running to the bread section. However, he also mentioned "if we have any left", which kinda of made my stomach sink a little. It must have been my lucky day because there were several pretzel baguettes sitting in the basket and I was in love with them. I picked up two baguettes at $1.99 each and went happily to see the cashier.
We know that pretzels pair well with mustard and we also know they pair well with cheese, but cheese with mustard - yum!

Results/Notes: This is a classic combination. Both the pretzel baguette and the mustard seed and ale cheese were wonderful. The baguette was just like a soft pretzel, but in loaf form; soft and chewy. The cheese is a tangy Welsh Cheddar, made from pasteurized milk, mixed with mustard seeds and ale. It is creamy and almost spreadable at room temperature. Besides pairing well with the pretzel baguette, this cheese would be a great addition to any sandwich that would otherwise call for mustard. I think it would also be great melted into Welsh Rarebit or even added into some homemade macaroni and cheese. This is a great combination for any Superbowl parties coming up. All in all, it was fairly inexpensive. The baguettes are only $1.99 each and my wedge of cheese was about $4. A somewhat healthy and unique snack for around $5. These two goodies get a definite "thumbs up" from me and I will seek them out each and every time I happen to get to Whole Foods.

If you don't happen to have a Whole Foods in your area, you can buy this cheese online at Amazon, here. More often than not, you can ask your cheesemonger for specific items and they will order them for you without the added shipping charges.

In case you would like to try your own pretzel baguette, there is a link to a recipe here. I haven't tried this recipe, but I would definitely like to.

This is the first in my series for Cheese of the Month. Each month I am going to try a new cheese and feature it alone or in a recipe.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ham Pot Pie

Well, we've all heard of chicken, turkey, or beef pot pie. But, have you ever heard of Ham Pot Pie? I happened across a recipe for ham pot pie and thought I would give it a try. I happened to have leftover ham from Christmas, which I had frozen and needed to use it up. I thought this recipe would give new life to that frozen ham so I was excited to get to work. My husband and daughter were skeptical. My husband kept saying that ham just didn't go into a pot pie. He insisted that it wouldn't work. I knew I had to win them over, so I decided to go with Ina Garten's biscuit topping instead of the pie crust the recipe called for. How can anyone resist perfectly golden buttery biscuits sitting atop a creamy filling?
Ham Filling for the Pot Pie:
1 cup potato, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1/3 cup melted margarine
1/2 cup a/p flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon salt
dash or two of pepper
4 cups of ham, cooked and chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F. Saute onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter for 10 minutes.Add flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well. Cook one minute stirring constantly. Combine broth and half and half. Gradually stir into vegetable mixture. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Stir in salt and pepper; add ham and stir well. Pour into shallow 2 quart casserole dish and top with biscuits. Bake 30-40 minutes until biscuits are cooked through and golden.
I topped my ham pot pie with Ina's biscuit recipe from Chicken Stew with Biscuits. It was just the right touch and her biscuits were delicious.

Recipe for Biscuits - adapted from Ina Garten/Food Network
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash (I brushed my biscuits with cream, not egg wash and it turned out great)

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter. (I didn't roll the dough out. I simply formed 12 biscuits by hand and laid them on top the pie).

Notes/Results: The biscuits really made this dish. The tops of the biscuits had the lightest crispness and the inside of the biscuit was fluffy and wonderful. I loved the little specks of parsley flakes going throughout the biscuits. The creamy filling had bubbled up over top the biscuits and was so comforting. I think it was a great way to use up frozen ham. My daughter didn't care for it, but she is extremely picky. My husband couldn't get past the fact that it was a ham pot pie, but he ate his fair share.

What do you think? Do you think you'd give a ham pot pie a try? Or, do you think pot pies should be saved for chicken, turkey and beef only?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Red Pepper Hummus and Spicy Whole Wheat Crackers

What do you think of when you think of exotic destinations? When I think exotic destinations, I think of places far away, mysterious and unique. There is no place more mysterious and unique to me than the Egyptian pyramids. Wouldn't you love to see those ancient wonders? Along the way you might stop at a bazaar and bargain for spices, gold, copper, perfumes, and Egyptian cotton. When your stomach started to grumble you might find a place to sit and enjoy some hummus with pita or flatbreads. It would be a pleasant and warm 70 degrees and there would be a perfect breeze.

Or, you could wake up in Kentucky where the weather is a crisp 29F. Your toddler is screaming for juice, you have a cold and you realize that dreams of exotic destinations will have to wait for another day.

This Red Pepper Hummus is my contribution to Exotic Destinations week over at I Heart Cooking Clubs. I served this with some homemade spicy whole wheat crackers, which I baked for my Healthy Bread in 5 group.
Red Pepper Hummus - adapted from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
1 - 14 oz. can chickpeas
1 - 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons garlic infused oil (I used 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 clove of minced garlic)
1 teaspoon lime juice (I used 1 tsp. lemon juice)
1 teaspoon paprika

Drain the chickpeas and peppers and put them into a food processor. (I used my blender with great results) Add the cream cheese, oil, lime juice, and paprika. Whiz to a hummus-like puree, and then add salt and perhaps more lime juice according to taste. Makes 2 cups

Notes/Results: While Nigella's addition of cream cheese is not authentic, it does make a very creamy hummus. The hummus was a beautiful orange color and paired very well with my spicy crackers. It was a little on the spicy side, although I'm not sure why and since I like spicy that is okay by me. Although I prefer traditional hummus, I am really enjoying Nigella's variation and would probably make it again if I had the ingredients on hand.

Head on over to I Heart Cooking Clubs to check out all the other exotic recipes this week.

As part of the Healthy Bread in 5, I also made the master recipe. A beautiful whole wheat boule, which will create some wonderful hummus sandwiches this week.

You can check out the HB in 5 group over on Michelle's site, Big Black Dog. We are going to be baking our way through the new HB in 5 book. This is our first group post, so there is still time to join along!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Yesterday I was searching RecipeZaar online and found they had listed their top 100 recipes in 2009. While browsing through, I found a recipe for Thin Crust Pizza Dough and another one for Homemade Pizza Sauce. I had very little ingredients around in the kitchen, but I did have everything I needed for both of these recipes. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?

The pizza dough came together quick and easy and only needed to rise one time for 20-30 minutes. In no time, my house smelled like a pizzeria. My daughter could hardly wait for the pizza to be finished.
As you can see, my picky eaters won out with their pepperoni pizza. I would've loved to do a spinach and artichoke pizza, but I was outnumbered. Maybe one day I can convince my husband and daughter that vegetables aren't evil. For now, I guess I'm lucky they eat tomato sauce.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup onion chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 - (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1- (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon fennel seed

In a large skillet, melt butter with the oil. Add the onion, celery and garlic and saute until soft and transparent. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and stir until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and bring to slow simmer. Simmer for 30-60 minutes (or not at all depending on your taste and time frame).

**MAKES 2 - 12" PIZZAS**
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour (may sub whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the all-purpose)
1 - (1/4 oz.) package active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/2 to 1 tablespoon olive oil
cornmeal for sprinkling

Mix a little sugar into the warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top. Wait for 10 minutes or until it gets all foamy. Pour into a large bowl. Add flour, salt, olive oil. Combine. Knead for 6-8 minutes until you have a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (add a bit more flour if you need to). Cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Lightly grease two 12-inch pizza pans. Sprinkle with a little bit of cornmeal. Divide dough in half. Place each half on a pizza pan and pat it with your fingers until it stretches over the whole pan. Try to make it thicker around the edge. If desired, pre-bake at 425 F for 10 minutes (I don't always do this). Then spread with pizza sauce and use the toppings of your choice. Bake at 425 F for 10-20 minutes longer or until bubbly and hot. Makes 2 12-inch pizzas.

Take a portion of dough, form into a ball, rub olive oil over it and place it in a freezer bag (the oil makes it easier to take out of the bag). When you want to make a pizza, take dough out of freezer and allow to thaw before using.

NOTES/RESULTS: I was really pleased at how well this pizza turned out. The thin crust pizza dough works well with whole wheat, which I love. The dough comes together very quick and I love that it only has to rise once for only 20-30 minutes! How can you beat that? In addition, the dough was pliable and easy to roll into a 12 inch circle. The crust is perfectly thin and gets a little crispy on the bottom when baked on the pizza stone. The thin crust pizza dough is a definite keeper! The pizza sauce smelled terrific and was pretty tasty. I'm not sure if it was my favorite, but it is a good solid recipe, especially if you don't have any on hand and need to throw some together quickly. It was a little on the thick side, but full of flavor. In fact, I may want my pizza sauce a little more mild so that the toppings have a chance to shine. All in all, I'm really glad that I tried both recipes. I will definitely be making the pizza dough for thin crust pizza again!

Monday, January 11, 2010

THROWDOWN: Giada vs Ina - Pork Tenderloin

It's time for another THROWDOWN here at Stirring the Pot!! This time around I tested two recipes for pork tenderloin.

The two recipes I chose were Giada's Roasted Pork Loin with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette (pictured above) and Ina Garten's Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork (pictured below). Both recipes are simple preparations with few ingredients and use a pork tenderloin around one pound each. There are a few things that set these two recipes apart. Giada's pork tenderloin is roasted and topped with a vinaigrette. Ina's is set in a marinade overnight and grilled.

AND THE WINNER IS ..............................................................................................


Here is the winning recipe.

HERB-MARINATED LOIN OF PORK -adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil, plus extra for brushing the grill
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
3 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but preferable overnight. (I marinated mine overnight)

When you're ready to cook, build a charcoal fire or heat a gas grill. (I cooked mine on a new grill pan over the stovetop). Brush the cooking grate with oil to prevent the pork from sticking. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the marinade but leave the herbs that cling to the meat. Sprinkle the tenderloins generously with salt and pepper. Grill the tenderloins, turning a few times to brown on all sides, for 15 - 25 minutes (depending on the heat of the coals) until the meat registers 137 degrees at the thickest part. Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2 inch thick slices. The thickest part of the tenderloin will be quite pink (it's just fine!) and the thinnest part will be well done. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm, or at room temperature with the juices that collect in the platter.

NOTES/RESULTS: This was my very first Ina Garten recipe and it was to die for!! Jeffrey is a lucky man! My husband and I declared it our "go to" recipe for pork tenderloin. Yes, it is that good! The marinade is a simple herb marinade with ingredients that are easy to find/and or usually in your pantry. The pork develops a wonderful crust on the outside that is simply filled with flavor. It was almost tender enough to cut with a fork. I am already craving it again and will be making it very soon. Giada's roasted pork was tender and the sauce was zesty. You can find the recipe by clicking on the purple link above. It was a good solid recipe, but it just couldn't compete with Ina's grilled herb-marinated pork tenderloin.

I finally received my power cord in the mail today and I was so thankful!! I knew I was going to miss my computer, but I was almost about to have some serious withdrawal. I'm looking forward to catching up on all your sites today and reading some great posts!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Panera

I get excited every time my Food Network Magazine arrives in the mail. I always turn to the Copy That section, where they always have a great copycat recipe. Through this section I have learned how to make those great soft pretzels that you get at the mall, wonderful frozen yogurt, and those fantastic Cheddar Bay Biscuits like they have at Red Lobster. This edition of Food Network magazine has the copycat recipe for Panera's Broccoli Cheddar soup, served in bread bowls. Needless to say, I ran to the store right away and bought the ingredients necessary to make this soup. You can find the recipe here on the Food Network.

This soup recipe is velveety smooth and sinfully delicious! I loved it so much that I am craving it again and will be making it very soon! Altogether, the recipe takes about 1 hour to make, but it is seriously good and very worth it. This is a must make if you are a broccoli cheese fan. I am submitting this to Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays.

All in all, we got about 5 inches of snow here in Kentucky. Five inches is a pretty big snowfall for this area. The schools are closed and even some stores in the mall closed early last night. The kids aren't used to this much snow and they just had a ball. Perfect evidence of a good time in the picture below.
Could the smile be any bigger?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Creamy Beef and Bean Enchiladas

Today started off like any other day, but it quickly went downhill. It all began with the power cord for my laptop breaking. Once my battery died, no more computer for me. That alone was enough to send me over the edge. (Yes, I confess to a temper problem). Then, my "potty trained" 3 year old, who hasn't had an accident in weeks chose today to pee on the couch (the new couch we're still paying for). Oh dear, today just wasn't going to be my day. Lo and behold, Kentucky is bracing for some kind of winter storm that has folks freaking out and flocking to groceries stores and gas stations to buy everything they can get their hands on. My friend called to tell me that I had better make the crazed trip to the store so that I could stock up on staples. Normally I don't pay attention to this kind of fearful behavior, but then I recalled how my day was going and thought better of it. I ended up sending my husband out to the store. He told me the store was so busy that there weren't even any grocery carts available. Good thing I sent him, I would've been pretty angry as I carried my groceries around in my hands.

Anyway, I made these enchiladas before Christmas. For the most part I am a recipe follower and rarely make up my own recipes in the kitchen. There are really only a few things I play around with and they are pasta and tex mex food. You really can't do too much to mess them up.

I was craving enchiladas, but didn't have any enchilada sauce, so I made my own. I never knew that enchilada sauce began by making a roux, did you? I used this recipe, found here, from Recipezaar. I added some spices like onion powder and cayenne to make it my own, but for the most part, followed the recipe. I'm happy I had the chance to make my own enchilada sauce, but it is just as good and probably cheaper to buy it from the store.

I have to share one of my new foodie finds with you. I am hooked on these handmade corn tortillas from LaTortilla Factory. They are the perfect mix of corn and wheat and I am addicted to them. They have added just enough wheat in the tortilla so that they are pliable, but the flavor of the corn still shines through. I find these at Fresh Market and since I don't get to go there too often, I usually buy 3 or 4 packs. What can I say, they keep well :D

Sometimes I make my enchiladas with shredded beef from a roast that cooked all day in the crockpot. On this particular day I needed to fill the craving as quick as possible, so I used lean ground beef.

Beef Filling for Enchiladas
1 lb or 1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 small onion, minced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can hot chili beans in chili gravy, not drained
1 -8 oz package of cream cheese, cut into cubes
1-2 tablespoons oil of choice to saute onion

Of course, you will also need:
enchilada sauce- about 2 to 2-1/2 cups
about 10 corn tortillas
shredded cheese and various other toppings for the enchiladas

I begin by sauteing a small minced onion in a large skillet. Add beef and cook until brown. I don't overcook it because it bakes in the oven for another 20-25 minutes. Once the beef is browned I throw in the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. We love those canned hot chili beans in the chili gravy so I add a can of the chili beans to the beef, chili gravy and all. The beans help stretch out the meat and the gravy helps keep everything moist. Once the beef and beans are mixed I throw in 8 ozs. of cream cheese, cut into cubes. Once the cheese has melted you can taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Sometimes I add some cayenne or hot sauce, sometimes I don't. It depends on who is over for dinner.

Add a little enchilada sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 casserole, about 1/2 cup. This beef and bean filling will be enough to make about 10 good sized enchiladas. Once the enchiladas are all formed, top them with enough enchilada sauce to cover the enchiladas. At this point, you can add any remaining beef and bean filling or simply top with shredded cheese. I usually use whatever cheese I have on hand. Monterey Jack is my favorite, but pepper-jack or even cheddar would be great. This particular time I used some chili-lime cheese that I just wanted to use up. Bake at 350F for about 15-25 minutes so that the cheese melts to your liking. Serves 5 easily. Leftovers are delicious.
Notes/Results: I wish I would've got a picture of the creamy interior on these enchiladas. I have made quite a few variations on enchiladas and this one is my personal favorite. The 8 ounces of cream cheese adds such a creamy consistency and really rounds out this recipe. I have been craving this ever since I made it a couple of weeks ago and intend on making it again soon. The recipe for enchilada sauce is okay, but nothing special. I will keep it on file for times when I don't have enchilada sauce on hand. If you don't happen to like beans, you can simply leave them out or take the opportunity to add some vegetables instead. This recipe pairs well with my favorite mexican rice, found here. I mentioned the rice in my best recipes of 2009 post. It really is very delicious and makes enough for a crowd. I serve these enchiladas and mexican rice for dinner parties and everyone loves them both. Creamy, rich, indulgent, comfort food that is one of my personal faves. They make great leftovers.

You might notice my absence from posting and commenting for awhile. My husband spliced the power cord for the computer back together, but it looks like it's only going to charge the battery once, maybe twice. Meanwhile, I guess I'll be doing whatever it was before I started blogging, which happens to be exactly one year ago today. My blog turned one year today!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Salisbury Steak and the Creamiest Macaroni and Cheese

Salisbury steak. If you haven't made it, then you should. It's comforting, easy, economical, SO RETRO, and it just might remind you of school lunch. What? You don't want to be reminded of school lunch? Well, I can't help but think of school lunch when I think of Salisbury Steak. I think they had it every week when I was in school, mostly on Thursdays. It was probably the only day I bought my lunch. Yes, I loved the Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes served up by the lunch ladies. It was hot and comforting and a welcome break from all the peanut butter sandwiches I ate for lunch the rest of the week. However, this homemade Salisbury Steak blows the school cafeteria out of the water. It is tender and flavorful and pairs well with peas and macaroni and cheese. Hearty and retro, it reminds me of the 70's and 80's.

Salisbury Steak-adapted from Recipezaar
1 - 10oz. can Campbell French onion soup (I used about 20 oz. of beef broth)
1 - 1/2 pounds ground beef (I used a lean ground round and it worked great)
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used panko)
1 egg
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup ketchup
1-3 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
1/4 cup water
*may need to make a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with water)
1-2 tablespoons olive, veg or canola oil to brown Salisbury steaks

In a large bowl, mix together 1/3 cup French onion soup, or 1/3 cup beef broth, with ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, salt and black pepper (be easy on the salt, the gravy tends to be salty). Shape into 6 oval patties. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown both sides of patties, in 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Remove patties and get ready to make the gravy in the same skillet (the patties will finish cooking later in the gravy).

Here is where I altered the instructions.

Once the patties are removed, you will begin making the gravy. I used ground round, so I didn't have much fat. It was only about 1 tablespoon, so I added the tablespoon of flour to the fat instead of trying to mix flour and broth/soup into a smooth mixture, which will never happen. I cooked the flour for a minute or two and then poured in the beef broth/or soup, whichever you chose to use. At this point, mix the ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard powder in a small bowl and pour it into the flour/broth mixture. Let it come to a simmer and thicken. My gravy didn't thicken too much, so I added a cornstarch slurry (one tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon of water). The cornstarch slurry did the trick perfectly and the gravy was thickened nicely. Once your gravy is where you want it, place the Salisbury steaks back in the pan, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. You want to cook the steaks all the way through and kinda of give them a quick braise so that they soften up a bit. If your steaks stick out of the gravy you can baste them periodically.

Notes/Results: Loved this Salisbury Steak. It is going to be a definite repeat in my kitchen based on the ease of the recipe and the flavor punch it delivers. At first I wasn't sure about the ketchup/tomato flavor added to the gravy, but it definitely added a sharpness and kicked the gravy up a bit. The original recipe calls for a base of french onion soup to make the gravy. I wanted to have a lot of gravy, so I doubled the liquid, instead of using 10 oz. of french onion, I used 20 oz. of beef broth. This is probably why I had to thicken my gravy with a cornstarch slurry later. Either way, the gravy was delicious and the steaks were tender. You could add mushrooms and onions along the way if you wish. This is a hearty, delicious, and comforting main dish recipe.

I recommend this very creamy macaroni and cheese as a side dish. Thanks to Natashya over at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies for sharing this recipe. It looked so good over at her site that I absolutely had to try it. This macaroni and cheese is a combination of one brick cream cheese, gruyere, and cheddar. With all that cheese, how can it not be delicious? My family adored this recipe. Thanks Natashya!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Roasted Garlic Bread and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

It was about a 5 hour drive up north to Ohio for Christmas. Let me go ahead and say right now that my husband does not care for my driving style and prefers to do all the driving himself. In fact, whenever we go anywhere he always drives. So, what was I to do while he drove us to Ohio and back? Well, the kids were busy watching cartoons in the backseat, my husband was listening to a book on headphones, so I took the time to read cookbooks in the passenger seat. My feelings were not hurt in the least. I much prefer reading cookbooks to driving cars.

I spent the majority of time reading a baking cookbook and found many bread recipes that I wanted to try. I found this recipe for Roasted Garlic Bread and decided that it would be the first one I would start on when we returned home.

Roasted Garlic Bread - adapted from Taste of Home Fall Baking Cookbook/Magazine
*Makes 2 loaves (10 slices each)
2 medium whole garlic bulbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 to 115)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 to 3 cups a/p flour (I used 2-1/2 and it was almost too much)
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage or 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
2 teaspoons minced fresh marjoram or 3/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (I used Romano because that's what I had)
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Remove papery outer skin from garlic (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut top off garlic bulbs; brush with oil. Wrap each bulb in heavy-duty foil. Bake at 425 for 30-35 minutes or until softened. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Squeeze softened garlic into a small bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt and 1 cup flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning once to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, add the sage, marjoram and rosemary to the reserved roasted garlic.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in x 8-in. rectangle. Spread garlic mixture to within 1/2 in of edges. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam and ends to seal.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place loaves seam side down on pan; tuck ends under. With a sharp knife, make several slashes across the top of each loaf. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks; brush with butter. (I topped mine with more Romano cheese)

Notes/Results: This bread was easy to make and my husband really liked it. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. I think I was a little burnt out on garlic when I ate it. (did I really just say that?) Maybe I wasn't in the mood for it that day. I didn't have all the fresh herbs, so I substituted an equal amount of dried Italian seasoning and it worked out great. I did like how it made two baguette sized loaves. Makes it nice if you want to eat one and give one away.

I saw these peanut butter chocolate chip muffins over on Donna's site, My Tasty Treasures. It was love at first sight! I had just enough peanut butter and half a bag of milk chocolate chips leftover from holiday baking. The recipe (found by clicking on the purple link above) makes 12 delicious and filling muffins that everyone gave a super big thumbs up! My daughter, my husband, my mom and me tore through them in just a couple of hours. They are very delicious and are probably my favorite muffin. They have already been requested again and are a keeper of a recipe. Thanks Donna!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Naan Pizza Bites

This is my 200th post! While up in Ohio for Christmas I was able to go shopping at a Trader Joe's, which is one of my favorite grocery stores. I really wish I had enough room for a cooler because there were so many things that I wanted to buy and bring home. I stocked up on wine because they have such good deals AND I live in a dry county that doesn't sell any alcohol. I bought some great salami with white wine, some gorgonzola crackers, and I also bought this delicious Naan Bread.I had been wanting to try Naan Bread, but never found it anywhere here in Kentucky. It's really a shame because the bread is thick, soft, fluffy and delicious.
Plus, it has a really cool shape to it and lends itself well to some delicious and speedy pizza.
By the time we got home, 5 hours later, I only had two pieces of naan bread left. I had Nigella's recipe for Naan Pizza in mind when I bought the bread, so I had to get to work right away before it was all gone.

This week over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are celebrating small plates. When I think of small plates I think of appetizers, or little bites, and these little pizza bites are perfect for grown ups and kiddos.

Naan Pizza Bites - adapted from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
1 naan, about 8" long
2 teaspoons tomato puree or other tomato sauce
1/2 cup drained mixed mushroom antipasto from a jar
1/2 cup roughly chopped fontina
3 fresh thyme stalks

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.

Top the pizza with toppings of your choice, starting with the tomato sauce, veggies or meat, and cheese. Lay thyme or other seasonings on top.

Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until pizza has reached the desired result.

Notes/Results: We loved it! The naan bread is very similar to pizza crust and makes a very quick pizza. I used Nigella's recipe as a guideline and create a simple cheese pizza for my daughter and a hot and spicy sausage pizza for my husband. I cut them into little pizza bites and they were gone in no time. The only problem was that we wanted more and we had no more naan bread left!! I guess I'm gonna have to learn how to make some naan bread because there is none to be found around here. If naan bread is sold in your local market, definitely whip this recipe up. It is a real keeper that is quick and easy! Even the kids will love it.

Head on over to I Heart Cooking Clubs to check out all the other small plates this week.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Carmine's Chicken Alla Romana -Best Recipe of 2009

Yesterday I declared Carmine's Chicken Alla Romano my very favorite recipe in 2009. It is definitely packed with flavor, especially if everything is made from scratch. There are a few recipes you need in order to make it, and they are listed below. It is a time consuming recipe, but is well worth the effort and results. In fact, I think I might make it today!

Listed below are the recipes you will need for the Chicken Alla Romana. You may want to prepare all but the spinach ahead of time to make the recipe easier.
Carmine's Breadcrumbs:
6 slices white bread, with crusts torn into large pieces (or 1-1/2 - 2 cups of breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
**Makes about 3 cups of breadcrumbs

Pulse bread in a food processor fitted with a metal blade (I use my blender), process the bread until it is coarsely ground. Add the cheese, garlic, parsley and oregano and pulse the mixture until the breadcrumbs are finely ground. Season the breadcrumbs to taste with salt and pepper and pulse the mixture just to mix in the seasonings. Use the breadcrumbs immediately or refrigerate them in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

Roasted Red Peppers:
4 large red bell peppers
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
10 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Char the peppers over a grill or gas flame or under a broiler until they are blackened on all sides (If broiling, place aluminum foil under the peppers or you will have a giant mess on your pan). Put the peppers in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it aside for about 45 minutes so that the peppers cool. Peel the skins off the peppers; they will slide right off with your fingertips. If you need to, scrape stubborn patches off with a small knife. It is not necessary to get every fleck of charred skin off the peppers.

Cut the peppers lengthwise through one side. Discard the stems, seeds, and ribs. Pat the peppers dry with paper towels. Spread the peppers open on a work surface. Season them lightly with salt and pepper. Rub the chopped garlic into both sides of the peppers. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and then sprinkle the basil and parsley over them. Stack the peppers on top of each other on a dish. Drizzle them with any remaining oil. Cover the dish and refrigerate the peppers overnight or for up to 4 days.

Spinach in Garlic and Oil
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
2 pounds fresh spinach, stems removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook it, stirring, for about 1 minute or until it is golden brown. Take care not to let the garlic burn. Add the spinach and, using a large fork to toss it in the oil, saute it for 2 to 3 minutes or until it starts to wilt. Cover the pan and cook it for 30 seconds. Remove the cover, stir the spinach, and season it to taste with salt and pepper. Stir it again. Transfer the spinach to a large bowl and serve it with the lemon halves as a garnish.
Chicken Alla Romana
5 large red potatoes, cut in half
1 Spanish onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 cups Carmine's Breadcrumbs (recipe provided above)
Five 2-ounce chicken cutlets
1/4 cup Dry White Wine (I use Marsala)
1-1/2 cups Chicken Stock (Carmine's has their own recipe here, but you can use your own)
1-1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons unslated butter
2 tablespoons chopped Roasted Red Peppers (recipe provided above)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Recipe Spinach in Garlic and Oil (recipe provided above)
3 to 4 slices Fresh Mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, onions, grated cheese, melted butter, rosemary, oregano, and parsley. Season the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Transfer them to a baking sheet and roast them for about 1-1/4 hours or until they are tender. Stir them occasionally during roasting. Set them aside. (They are the most delicious roasted potatoes on the planet).

Spread the flour on a large plate. Whisk the eggs in a shallow bowl. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet. One at a time, coat the chicken cutlets with flour, shaking off any excess. Dip them in the egg mixture and let any excess drip off. Coat them with breadcrumbs. Set them aside on a plate. (A great tip is to put the coated chicken back in the fridge for at least 10 minutes so that the coating dries out and ensures a crispier crust).

**Carmine's left out the part of the recipe where I assume they saute the chicken. I put some olive oil in a saute pan and sauteed the chicken until it was cooked through**

In a medium-sized saute pan, bring the wine to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook it for about 1 minute or until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the chicken stock and capers. Bring it to a boil and cook it for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and whisk in 3 tablespoons of the butter. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the red peppers and the remaining tablespoon of the butter. Add the lemon juice and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Keep it warm.

Place the sauteed/breaded chicken and roasted potatoes in a shallow baking pan. Spread the spinach in the bottom of another baking pan. Roast both pans for about 2 minutes or until the food is hot. Cover the chicken with the mozzarella and return the pan to the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Spread the spinach down the center of a large platter. Put the chicken on top of the spinach. Scatter the potatoes around the chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.