Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chinese Chicken with Green Beans


Our favorite Chinese restaurant makes wonderful chicken with green beans. It's spicy and flavorful and one of the few times Husband will eat fresh green beans. I decided to find a recipe and give something similar a shot at home.

It required a leisurely stop at the Asian section of the grocery store.


I have been looking for an excuse to buy some Hoisin sauce anyway. That red bottle in back, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, is hot indeed! 1 1/2 teaspoons of this goes a long way.

Ingredients:
6 ounces Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, very thinly sliced ⅛-inch thick
7 ½ tsp Soy Sauce
¾ tsp Asian Spice Blend, recipe follows
¼ cup Chopped Cooked Shrimp
½ cup Hot Water
¼ cup Vegetable Oil
½ pound Green Beans, stem ends trimmed, cut into 3-inch lengths
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
¼ cup Roughly Chopped Cashews
2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 ½ tsp Sriracha Sauce
¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:
In a bowl, combine the chicken, 4 ½ teaspoons of the soy sauce, and Asian spice blend. Toss to coat and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the shrimp and water. Let sit for 15 minutes. Drain and roughly chop. In a large wok or saute pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the beans and shallow fry until wrinkled, stirring, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 10 seconds.

Add the chicken and stirring constantly, cook until brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chopped shrimp, greens beans, cashews, hoisin, remaining 3 teaspoons of soy sauce, Sriracha sauce, and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat, and cook for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and serve immediately over rice.

Asian  Spice Blend

1 tsp 5-spice Powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground Pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

This recipe was adapted from Food Network

Lots of flavor here and spicy without being overpowering. This recipe was a nice amount for the two of us.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Italian Sausage Lasanga






Lasagna is one of my absolute favorite foods. I have also been making it for a very long time. I have changed a few things over the years, but never really deviated much from my first ever recipe.

Ingredients:

(for the sauce)
1 pound  Italian Sausage (I used 1/2 lb Hot Italian sausage and 1/2 lb Turkey Sausage)
1 medium Onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 1/2 cups Chopped Fresh Mushrooms
2 Clove Garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Oregano
1 can (16 oz.) Whole Tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes-see my note)
1 can (15 oz.) Tomato Sauce
12 Uncooked Lasagna Noodles (see my note)
—————————-
(for the cheese mixture)
1 Carton (16 Oz.) Ricotta Or Cottage Cheese
¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 ½ tsp Dried Oregano Leaves
—————————-
(for the top)
2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (8 Ounce Package)
¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


Directions:

Make the sauce- Cook sausage, onion, mushrooms and garlic in a large stockpot, stirring occasionally, until sausage is brown, drain. Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley, sugar, basil, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Use clean kitchen shears to snip the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally, reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 45 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles as directed on package (don’t overcook), drain. Mix ricotta cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon parsley and oregano. Spread 1 cup of the sauce mixture in an ungreased rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Top with 4 noodles overlapping slightly.

Spread 1 cup of the cheese mixture over noodles, spread with 1 cup sauce, sprinkle with ⅔ cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat with 4 noodles, the remaining cheese mixture, 1 cup of the sauce mixture and ⅔ cup of the mozzarella cheese. Top with remaining noodles and sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and ¼ cup Parmesan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

*My best pans of lasagna have started with fresh tomatoes in place of both the canned whole tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Nothing wrong with lasagna made that way; I make it all the time in the winter when fresh garden tomatoes are not available. But you cannot beat the fresh taste.  It certainly takes a bit more time and effort to cook down the fresh tomatoes, but the final taste is worth every minute. 
I have come full circle with cooking the noodles. I started by cooking them fully; then started not boiling them at all and simply letting them cook in the lasagna. The lasagna sets up beautifully that way but I always ended up with some unacceptably crunchy pasta on top.
My method now is to boil them for just a few minutes; basically enough so they are flexible, but certainly not fully cooked. The crunchy on top is eliminated and the pasta gains the wonderful flavors of the sauce and cheese as they cook.
This recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker. The mushrooms were not part of the original but have been a part of my recipe since day one. 



Normally with a recipe this large I would cut down the recipe for the two of us. Not with Lasagna. The pan gets separated into individual portions for terrific lunches or quick weekday dinners.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meatloaf and Butternut Squash


This time of the year you don't have to look far to find someone with a garden overflowing with squash. A patient brought in a bunch of butternut squash and I grabbed one of the smaller ones for the two of us. One of my coworkers mentioned serving hers with meatloaf and that sounded like a perfect fall meal.



Squash is so easy to prepare and baked in the oven along with the meatloaf. I cut it in half the long way and scooped out the seeds and stringy stuff. I rubbed the meat of the squash with olive oil so it didn't dry out, sprinkled it with kosher salt and put it in a casserole dish with a little water. It baked in the oven covered at 400 degrees for a little over an hour. It was falling-apart tender and very easy to scoop out of the shell. I then mixed in butter and brown sugar. Very tasty.



My meatloaf tends to look like giant meatball instead of a loaf. But I don't think that's a bad thing; it stays juicy and doesn't dry out that way.
My recipe is very basic.

Meatloaf

1 pound of hamburger-I use lean
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
About 1/3 cup of bread crumbs-I used seasoned
1 egg
1 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
Fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to taste

Mix well with hands and form into a loaf (or a ball :) ) and place in a loaf pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.

I think ketchup is delicious on meatloaf. It was a very good meal.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pizza for the football game


We always have pizza for Vikings games. It's a great tradition at our house and lately I do homemade more often than not.
After years of experimenting I finally found a crust recipe that I love. It is flavorful and tender, yet you can still pick it up to eat it.

American style Pizza Crust by Wolfgang Puck

Ingredients:

Untitled Ingredient
1 Package Active Dry Or Fresh Yeast
1 tsp. Honey
1 cup Warm Water (105º F To 115º F)
3 cups All-Purpose Flour (Use Good Quality All-Purpose Or A Bread Flour)
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for brushing

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in ¼ cup of the warm water.

2. In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and the remaining ¾ cup of water and mix on low speed until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. (When ready, the dough will stretch as it is lightly pulled.)

4. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500º F.

5. Divide the dough into 2 balls. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

6. To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour, place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface, and start to stretch the dough. Press down on the center, spreading the dough into an 8-inch circle, with outer border a little thicker than the inner circle. If you find this difficult to do, use a small rolling pin to roll out the dough. Lightly brush the inner circle of the dough with oil and arrange the toppings of your choice over the inner circle.

7. Using a lightly floured baker’s peel or a rimless flat baking tray, slide the pizza onto the baking stone and bake until the pizza crust is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remember that the oven is very hot and be careful as you place the pizza into and out of the oven. Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter or very sharp knife. Serve immediately

*My note: Through trial and error we have found the best way to get the pizza on the heated pizza stone is to use tin foil. Prepare the pizza on the foil and then slide pizza and foil onto the heated stone. The dough going directly on the hot stone makes all the difference in how it cooks. No more soggy crusts! A cookie sheet can be helpful with this process; especially to pull the pizza out of the the oven. Just slide the cookie sheet under the foil.

The above recipe makes a pizza for each of us. Personal pizzas, if you will. I like my pizza traditional: crust, sauce, topping, cheese in that order bottom up. Husband likes to put cheese down on the sauce and then a bit more cheese on top of everything. He likes a lot of meat; I like a bit of meat and more veggies. So now we each our own pizza made the way we want. I eat half for the game and usually half later in the day.
The picture above is my pizza. It looks huge, but it is really only a little bigger than the "personal pizzas" you see offered at restaurants. For topping I have turkey sausage and a few pepperoni, red onions, portabella mushrooms, black olives, a pizza cheese mix and some fresh mozzarella.
It was delicious.
Now if the Vikings can just figure themselves out this season.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chili


The weather is getting cooler and chili is a great fall meal. I had actually never made traditional red chili from scratch. We like spicy foods so I wanted to find a recipe with a little kick.

Ingredients:

1 ½ Lbs (750 G) Lean Ground Beef
2 Onions, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
2 Stalks Celery, chopped
1 large Red Bell Pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp (25 ml) Chili Powder
1 ½ tsp (7 ml) Dried Oregano Leaves
1 ½ tsp (7 ml) Ground Cumin
½ tsp (2 ml) Hot Pepper Flakes Or To Taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 drops of hot sauce
1 can (28 oz/796 ml) Tomatoes, including juice, chopped
1 cup (250 ml) Reduced-Sodium Beef Broth
1 can (19 oz/540 ml) Pinto Or Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup (50 ml) Chopped Fresh Parsley Or Cilantro

Directions:

1. In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, cook beef over medium-high heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon, for about 7 minutes or until no longer pink. Place in strainer and drain fat. Return beef to pan.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions, garlic, celery, red pepper, chili powder, oregano, cumin, hot pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and hot sauce; cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.

3. Stir in tomatoes with juice and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

4. Add beans and parsley; cover and simmer for 10 minutes more.

I added the cayenne pepper and hot sauce and substituted red pepper for the green. I had a huge tomato that needed to be used so instead of the can of tomatoes I used fresh. I really like all the fresh vegetables in this recipe.
It was excellent, very flavorful with a little heat but not overwhelming. Good sized recipe so we get leftovers later in the week. I am betting it will taste even better in a few days.
I made some cornbread muffins go with the chili. Betty Crocker gets the credit for the muffins

Recipe found on cookstr.com

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stuffed chicken breast


Husband and I were talking about food and he happened to mention bug bag chicken. Yes, that's right.....bug bag chicken. How wonderful does that sound????
Actually it's delicious. I made this Martha Stewart recipe years ago and it was a staple at our house for quite a while. For whatever reason it fell out of the rotation.
The "bug bag" chicken reference should be explained. The mushroom, onion and herb mixture stuffed under the skin looks a bit like the bug bags that like to inhabit flowering trees.  Disgusting things and that is where the comparison ends.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, peeled and minced
1 pound White Button Mushrooms, finely chopped
Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper To Taste
¼ cup Dry White Wine
1 cup Finely Chopped Parsley
2 Whole Boneless Chicken Breasts, split

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add garlic and shallot; saute, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms; cook, stirring, until mushrooms release their juices, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add white wine, and continue cooking until liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the parsley. 2. Pull skin back from one chicken breast, keeping skin attached at one end. Season with salt and pepper. Mound ⅓ cup mushroom filling on breast; pull skin back over filling. Tuck ends under breast, forming a ball. Secure with toothpicks. Repeat with remaining chicken and filling. 3. Place stuffed breasts in a roasting pan, keeping them close together but not touching. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over top. Transfer to oven; roast until skin is golden brown and chicken has cooked through, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven, and serve.

It is a quick, easy and tasty recipe. I have never been able to find boneless skin-on chicken breast so I make it with boned. The idea of trying to de-bone and have an intact piece of meat left doesn't fill me with confidence.  I served it with cauliflower with white sauce.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Red Cabbage and Cauliflower Salad


This salad was also served at our get-together the other night. The recipe has been in the family for a while. I did add the Balsamic vinegar as it seems to be a common ingredient in red cabbage coleslaw.  The sour cream was also added as I always use a combination of salad dressing and sour cream in coleslaw.

Ingredients:

1/2 head red cabbage
1/2 head cauliflower
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 slices bacon-fried until crisp
1 cup salad dressing ( I used Miracle Whip light )
1 TBSP Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Finely chop cabbage and cauliflower and layer in a large bowl. Fry bacon and layer chopped bacon and onion over cabbage mixture. Mix salad dressing, vinegar, sour cream and salt and pepper and layer over top of salad. Refrigerate at least one hour and toss salad before serving.
This is a big recipe and makes a lot of salad. Luckily we didn't have a lot left over as it was quite popular. It held up very well and was still good the next day; the red cabbage and cauliflower were still crunchy. The picture above was some I enjoyed for lunch the next day. Very pretty salad!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spinach Cashew spread


We had Husband's family over last night to get together and break in our new deck. It is always nice to have a couple appetizers to start the festivities. We served chips and salsa; which is easy and appealing to most, but I wanted one more item. This recipe has been sitting in my "to-try" file for a while and I had spinach to use up.

 Ingredients:

1 cup Fresh Baby Spinach, rinsed, with water still clinging lightly to the leaves (about 1 cup, tightly packed)
½ cup Whole Roasted, unsalted cashews
1 Clove Garlic, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. Sour Cream
1 ounce Cream Cheese
1 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
⅛ tsp. Salt
Black Pepper, to taste (optional)

Directions:

Combine the spinach, cashews, and garlic in the bowl of a small food processor or mini-chop and process for about 15 seconds, or until finely chopped and pulverized. Stop the machine and scrape the sides once about halfway through.

Add the remaining ingredients and process an additional 30 seconds, or until creamy, scraping halfway through to incorporate all the ingredients evenly.
Use immediately, or chill and serve. Keep refrigerated.

It's very fresh tasting with all that spinach and a pretty green color. It came together in minutes in my easy chopper and tasted great after being refrigerated for a couple hours.