Friday, February 27, 2015

#9 - Sweet Cornbread

hadn't been to the grocery store yet and didn't feel much like going, so I needed to pull something together for dinner from what I already had in the kitchen.  We had some leftover brisket, tri-tip and pulled pork from our new favorite barbecue place, Leadbelly’s and I didn't want that to go to waste.  I threw a bunch of stuff (black beans, onions, fire roasted tomatoes, chili beans, spices, fire roasted frozen corn, and the meat) in a pot and voila… Leadbelly Chili!  There won’t be a recipe post for that one being that it was just a grab and dump kind of thing!  I AM posting the recipe I used for the cornbread I made to go with it.  Here ya go:


Sweet Cornbread

Makes 1 - 9x13 pan

Ingredients:

4 eggs, whites and yolks seperated
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a medium-size bowl, combine egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and melted butter and stir.
Mix in cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt - stirring to incorporate, but do not over mix.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold them into the batter.
Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check with a toothpick to make sure it is cooked through.

(Recipe #9 of 52)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

#8 - Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese

 Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE CHEESE! Really! If I could get away with it, I’d eat cheese and bread (and maybe a little fruit) everyday! The other day I was at Sam’s Club looking for a little cheese to take to the beach for our usual picnic spread… I know, sounds crazy because you can’t just buy a “little” cheese at Sam’s.  Listen, Sam’s has a pretty good cheese section!  So what if you end up with a GIANT brick of Havarti!  I ended up with a $13 giant brick of Ballyshannon - a creamy, white Irish cheddar.

My almost 2 pound block of cheese!

Our beach picnic spread.
That was some good cheese!  As we were eating it I kept thinking how great it would be in mac & cheese!  So a couple of days later, Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese was born!

Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

8 ounces elbow macaroni
5 slices Applewood smoked Bacon, cooked & diced
2 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Ballyshannon Irish Cheddar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.  In large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni according to package instructions; drain well and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  
4. Heat milk, thyme and garlic in a small saucepan, but don't let it boil. 
5. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat, add the Gruyère, cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and bacon and stir well. Place the mixture in a buttered 9x13 baking dish.
6. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the breadcrumbs and parsley, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.


PS.  I’m still working on that brick of cheese!! I've used it in several other things since! Tonight we put it in the Potato-Leek soup we had for dinner… YUM!!

(Recipe #8 of 52)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

#7 Sautéed Chicken with Sage Brown Butter

I needed something to serve with the Asparagus Soufflé and this chicken paired nicely with it.  As usual, I changed a few things in the recipe, but it was still simple and very flavorful. The sage brown butter sauce... so good!!


Sautéed Chicken with Sage Brown Butter
Adapted from myrecipes.com.

Yield: 4 servings


Ingredients:

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
2 sage sprigs
1 tablespoon minced shallots (I didn’t have shallots, so I used onion)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Fresh sage leaves (optional)


Instructions:

1. Place each breast half between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness (I used thin-cut breasts instead and skipped this step). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; melt 2 tbsp. butter. Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in flour. Add chicken to pan; sauté for 4-5 minutes. add another 2 tbsp. butter before flipping the chicken and cook another 5 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan.
3. Add 3 tablespoons butter and sage sprigs to pan; cook over medium heat until butter browns. Discard sage. Add shallots and thyme; cook for 30 seconds. Add lemon juice; cook for 30 seconds. Serve with chicken. Garnish with sage leaves, if desired.


(#7 of 52)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

#6 - Asparagus Soufflé

Well, I did it.  I made my first soufflé.  I’m not gonna lie, I was kind of nervous.  I got even more nervous when The Hubs informed me that his mom made soufflé all the time.  Yikes… those are big shoes to fill!

I was surprised to find out that there are some fancy words used in making soufflé.  There’s béchamel, a white sauce made from a butter and flour (a roux  in fancy talk) and milk. Béchamel is known as “the mother sauce” of classic French cuisine.  There’s also a bain marie (pronounced: bah-marie).  It’s basically a hot-water bath and it’s used to create a gentle and uniform heat around the soufflé as it bakes. (Head hurting yet?  Don’t let the big words scare ya!).
 
Béchamel

Bain marie
There are several steps involved in making a soufflé.  It’s rare that I follow a recipe exactly as it’s written, but I didn't want to stray too far with this one.  The only changes I made from the original recipe was that I used lemon thyme because that’s what I had just planted in my herb garden, and I forgot to pick up some shallots so I used yellow onion instead.  The recipe called for sprinkling the extra breadcrumbs on top of the soufflé.  I did, but I don’t know if I’d do it that way again. I also realized that I didn't have 6 8-ounce ramekins and had to use 3 16-ounce ramekins.  That meant adjusting the cooking time, also known as winging it.  I think it turned out just fine. The soufflé didn't puff up as much as I thought it would (might have had something to do with my egg whites or the ramekins), but it tasted fantastic! My mom is bringing some ramekins on her next visit so I see more soufflé in my future!


Asparagus Soufflé
·         Prep time: 10 minutes
·         Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
·         Yield: Makes 6 individual soufflés.

Ingredients
·         1 lb asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
·         Salt
·         1/4 cup chopped shallots (onion works too)
·         1 clove garlic, chopped
·         1 teaspoon fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme), chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
·         4 Tbsp unsalted butter
·         1/2 cup finely ground dry bread crumbs
·         3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
·         1 1/4 cup whole milk
·         1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         Pinch dry ground mustard
·         Pinch ground cumin
·         Freshly ground black pepper
·         1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese 
·         3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
·         5 egg whites
·         6 8-ounce ramekins

Directions
1 Bring salted water to a boil (1 teaspoon of salt for every quart of water) and blanch asparagus for 2 minutes . Drain. Rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Set aside to cool.
2 Melt 1 Tbsp butter in saucepan on medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme. Cook gently until soft, but do not let brown. About 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3 Purée asparagus and shallot mixture in blender. You’ll need 1 1/4 cups of purée for the soufflés.
4 Butter your ramekins and coat well with the bread crumbs, reserving any leftover bread crumbs.
5 Over medium-low heat, melt 3 Tbsp butter in a medium sized saucepan. Whisk in the flour into the butter, continue to stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Do not let brown. Gradually add the milk to the mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the nutmeg, cumin, mustard, and fresh ground black pepper. Lower the heat to low and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (This is your “béchamel”.)
6 After 15 minutes, remove the béchamel from the heat and stir in the cheese. Combine the béchamel and the asparagus mixture in a large mixing bowl. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings. The soufflé base should be well-seasoned. Stir in the egg yolks until well combined.
At this point you can make ahead the soufflé mixture. Refrigerate to store for up to two days. Return to room temperature before proceeding.
7 Preheat oven to 400°F.
8 Prepare a water bath (a bain marie). You’ll need a 9x12 baking dish with at least 2 inch sides and some boiling water.
9 Next, add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and using a mixer, beat the egg whites to firm but soft peaks. (Make sure there are no traces of egg yolk or shell in your egg whites before starting.) Do not over-beat or you’ll get stiff peaks that are dry, somewhat reminiscent of styrofoam.
10 Using a rubber spatula, fold in one quarter of the egg whites into the asparagus mixture, then the remaining three-quarters. Use a light touch to keep from deflating the egg whites.
11 Fill ramekins with the mixture up to a quarter-inch from the top. Place the ramekins in the bain marie baking dish and put the baking dish on the middle rack in the oven. Pour boiling water into the baking dish around the ramekins until the water comes up halfway the sides of the ramekins. 
11 Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for about 15 minutes more, until puffed up and golden brown. Don't open the oven door until the soufflé is just about done, or it may fall.


You can serve the soufflés immediately.  If you are going to serve them later, let the soufflés sit in the bain marie for 15 minutes. Then run a sharp knife around the edges and invert the individual soufflés to a buttered baking sheet. Cool to room temperature, wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before re-heating. Heat oven to 400°F and bake the soufflés on a buttered baking sheet, not in ramekins, for 7-8 minutes, and serve.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

(#6 of 52)

Meanwhile...

Meanwhile, over on my OTHER blog




Friday, February 6, 2015

#5 - Sun Dried Tomato-Basil Cream Chicken

What can I say other than, “I love this chicken!!”?  Seriously, I’m kinda patting myself on the back for coming up with this one!  It’s super easy and SUPER delicious!

If you can’t find thin sliced chicken breasts, you can just pound out a few regular breasts (the junior higher inside me just giggle while I typed that… hee, hee).  I had to go to two different stores to find sun dried tomatoes.  They are usually with the canned tomatoes.  Sometimes you can find them dried and you just let them sit in some hot water to plump ‘em back up.


I served this with buttered penne rigate pasta and a tossed salad.  It would also be fantastic with garlic mashed red potatoes!  I had a beautiful, soft loaf of Italian bread to go with it, but I forgot about it... I see some sort of French toast in my future!  Anyway, eat up and let me know how you like it!






Sun Dried Tomato-Basil Cream Chicken

Serves: 4
Total time: 30 minutes


Ingredients:

¼ cup milk
½ cup dry bread crumbs
1 pound thin sliced skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons butter
½ tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces sun dried tomatoes, julienned
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
½ cup parmesan; shaved
boursin cheese spread, garlic & herbs flavored
teaspoon Pepper

Instructions:

Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Place milk and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls.  Dip chicken in milk, and then coat with crumbs.
Melt ½ of the butter in skillet with garlic. Add chicken and cook about 5 min.  Add remaining butter flip chicken and cook another 5-8 min or until chicken is cooked.  Remove and set aside.
Add broth to skillet bring to boil over medium heat.  Stir in cream and sun dried tomatoes; boil and stir for 1 min.
Reduce heat, add parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons boursin cheese, basil and pepper; cook and stir until heated through.
Add the chicken back into the sauce.
Serve chicken covered in sauce and topped with 1 scoop of remaining boursin cheese.


(Recipe 5 of 52)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

# 4 - Green Goddess Salad

Last month, I had lunch with my son at the Jazz Kitchen (Downtown Disney).  I had their Green Goddess Salad and have been dreaming of it ever since…


...romaine hearts, Granny Smith apples, cherry tomatoes, apple-wood smoked bacon, toasted pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, Green Goddess dressing… it was oh, so good!!  I just had to try making it at home!


I wanted to make sure my guys would still feel like they were having a “meal” and not just a salad, so I added some chicken to it, but it’s just a good without. Oh, and the anchovies… I didn't have any and refused to get any, so I made my dressing without.  I may have also "over dressed" our salad.  Add the dressing a little bit at a time until you've achieved desired coverage (the recipe makes more than enough).
  

Green Goddess Salad
(Serves 4)
Ingredients:
3-4 romaine hearts, washed and chopped
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
½ cup pumpkin seeds
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Green Goddess Dressing
1-2 Chicken breasts, cooked and sliced (optional)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until everything is evenly coated with dressing.  Serve immediately.

Basil Green Goddess Dressing
from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Ingredients:
1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons anchovy paste (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients except the sour cream in a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy and smooth. Add the sour cream and pulse just until blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes about 2 cups.
(Recipe 4 of 52)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

#3 - CROCKPOT BRAISED BEEF RAGU WITH POLENTA

Cream of wheat. Grits. Polenta. I love it all! Warm and creamy, the definition of comfort food!  So of course I would be all over a recipe that involves one of my favorites!

If you’ve never had polenta, it’s like cream of wheat but it’s made with cornmeal. Water, salt, cornmeal and a little bit of butter… easy peasy! Some people prefer a firm polenta “cake” which you’ll get by pouring the cooked polenta into a pan and letting it sit. I’ll eat it just about any way! When we go to Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria (my guys’ favorite pizzeria), I always order a side of creamy polenta (with a little marinara sauce).  They eat pizza and I eat polenta! Mmmm….. Enough about me, you’re here for the recipe!
  
It sounds fancier and like you spent all day slaving over the stove if you leave off the “crockpot” part... braised beef ragu with polenta.  It’s up to you.  I do have to give the crock its props though, because it smells delicious while the beef is slow-cooking to perfection and I barely work up a sweat in the prep.  That’s my kind of recipe, simple!

Have I mentioned how seriously yummy it was yet? Really! While I was eating it I kept thinking, “I actually made this”!  I was also thinking, “Take it easy, you don’t have to eat the whole pot”!  The Hubs and my son that didn’t leave me yet for higher learning ate heartily too.  “Mmmm, good,” and “Thanks Mom,” were the reviews given.  I served it with a salad and warm bread.  The ragu was even tastier the next day.  Ladies and gentlemen, this one is DEFINITELY a keeper!

Manga!  I'm off to find the next recipe….



CROCKPOT BRAISED BEEF RAGU WITH POLENTA
Adapted from: Pinch of Yum
Serves: 10

INGREDIENTS
For the Braised Beef Ragu
·         2 tablespoons olive oil
·         3 lbs. beef rump roast or round roast
·         half a yellow or white onion, minced
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes
·         ½ cup red wine
·         3 tablespoons tomato paste
·         1 teaspoon basil
·         1 teaspoon oregano
·         2 bay leaves
·         2 teaspoons salt
·         black pepper to taste

For the Polenta
·         6 cups water
·         1-2 teaspoons salt
·         1¾ cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
·         3 tablespoons butter
·         ¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
1.    Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the roast and fry on each side for about 5 minutes, turning until the whole exterior is golden brown. If you’re short on time you can skip this step, but searing the meat really keeps the yummy flavor in!

2.    Place all remaining ingredients with the beef in a crockpot or slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the beef falls apart easily when pulled at with two forks. I put the beef in a pyrex pan to shred it into pieces.  Then add it back to the crockpot and give it a good stir.  I pulled the bay leaves out at this point – nobody likes to chomp down on a bay leaf, well I don’t!

3.    For the polenta, bring salted water to a boil. Slowly add the cornmeal, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. The polenta will start to thicken quickly. Continue whisking or stirring for 2-3 minutes before removing from heat. Stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the parmesan now if you’re using it, but why wouldn’t you?  For solid and chewy polenta, pour into a rectangular dish, let cool for 15-20 minutes, and cut into pieces. For softer, creamy polenta (so good), serve immediately topped with a big ol’ scoop of beef ragu.  Sprinkle on some parmesan or chopped parsley if you want.

Recipe #3 of 52