Welcome to One Little Corner of the World. I share with you new recipes, some family recipes, and the antics of my kids. Enjoy reading!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer Party by the Pool

We had our friends over for a pool party on Sunday. The weather was very warm and the sun was shining. It was a perfect day for hanging out outside and in the pool with friends.

The menu consisted of old favorites and one new item that we had never prepared. Trying to stay with food items that were in season, we started with a horseradish dip and chips. One of our friends brought a sweet pepper salsa and cream cheese – it was very good and every drop was eaten. One of my other friends brought a frozen drink that was just so refreshing. It had Hawaiian punch, 7-up, Crown Royal, and I can’t remember what else. I like trying different drinks.

Hubby had major grill duty. I bought 15 pounds of wings that had to be grilled along with 11 ears of corn. I bought so many wings that the grill was still working after most people were done with dinner. Oh well, we have plenty of leftovers; good thing my husband, kids and I like wings.

As I said earlier, I really tried to keep up with the summer foods, so I chose corn, wings – a great food anytime, tomatoes and mozzarella, and pasta with pesto – made with fresh basil from my garden. Dinner was great, but hanging out with family and friends was better. I love it when everything works out and the evening is a success.

The corn was our one new dish to try. My husband was a little nervous grilling with the husks still attached and wasn’t sure how the butter would make the corn taste. It turned out great, and we will be making this dish again and again.

Cuban Corn; courtesy Food Network – Good Deal with Dave Lieberman.

9 ears corn – I used 11
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 stick butter – melted
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup queso fresco – freshly grated. I couldn’t find. I used Romano cheese.
1 bunch cilantro, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 limes cut into wedges

Soak corn in husks for 1-2 hours. I didn’t and corn turned out very well. Carefully pull back husks leaving them attached at the base and remove the silk.

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, paprika, and chili powder, and season will with salt and pepper. Using a pastry brush, brush the ears of corn with the mixture and place on the grill.

Be careful to leave the husks off the hottest part of the grill rack so that they do not start to burn. Grill corn on all sides until well marked and tender – about 10-12 minutes.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Tomatoes and Mozzarella

I used the same recipe as a previous post, but instead of slicing my mozzarella, I found these really cute balls of cheese and chose to use these with cherry tomatoes. Again the basil came from my front porch garden. This has to be one of my favorite summer dishes. I just love how the flavors blend together. I am eating the leftovers from that today for lunch.

Grilled Chicken Wings

Again, this is a tried and true recipe from my archives. My husband and I love to go to Fast Eddie’s in Alton and this is our version of Fast Eddie’s Hot Chick on a Stick. We have found the secret to this dish is baking the wings in a 300-330 degree oven for about 20 minutes with the seasoning on it before it goes on the grill. This ensures that the chicken remains tender and moist.

Noodles with Pesto Sauce

Pesto is my oldest son’s favorite sauce – he is six and has b
een eating pesto since he was about three. This sauce is my go to sauce all year round. I will make it plain, with chicken, shrimp, cold with tomatoes and feta, and I have used it in Chicken parm instead of the marinara sauce. It is such an easy sauce to make and the flavors are always fresh. This time when I made pesto, I used one more garlic clove than the original recipe called for. I think it really added to the flavor.

P.S. I don't want to forget to mention that my brother-in-law stopped by to say hi to everyone. He really made the evening complete.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Challenge Week Three: Summertime Chicken Pasta Salad

For my third week of this challenge, I decided to make a chicken salad again. I decided this because my friend, who came for lunch today, said she liked my chicken salad that I made last time she was here. Not wanting to make the same thing again, I looked in my fridge to see what ingredients I had. Seeing that I had grilled chicken thighs, tomatoes, peppers, olives, parsley, and dill, I decided to try a fresh chicken pasta salad.

With Rachel’s fresh fruit, we had a very healthy, light, tasty lunch. The pasta salad was fresh, yet light with a little tang from the lemony dressing and a little bite from the peppers. The neat thing about this dish is that you can basically clean out your fridge with it. Thinking about it later, one could put asparagus, feta cheese, cucumbers, black olives, or anything that comes to mind. The only change I would make is to add more dressing. The pasta soaked up all the dressing, leaving a great flavor, but also leaving the salad a little dry.

½ pound vermicelli – broken into thirds
3 grilled chicken thighs or 2 grilled chicken breasts separated with a fork*
1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper julienned
1 tomato diced
1 cup sliced green or black olives
1/3 cup parsley chopped
Kosher salt and pepper

Cook vermicelli per package directions – split into thirds prior to cooking. Rinse under cold water to cool off pasta. To pasta add chicken, pepper, tomato, olives, and parsley. Stir to combine. Add dressing – recipe follows – combine and chill for 1 hour to let flavors blend. Serves 4.

Dressing

Juice of one lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 scant teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup dill
½ tsp salt – more if needed
1 tsp pepper – more or less if needed
¾ cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in bowl. With a wire whisk,
whisk in oil slowly to combine.

*Chicken was grilled with olive oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Taste and Create - Roasted Potatoes with Shrimp and Prosciutto

Each month For the Love of Food hosts the event, Taste and Create. It is a fun event that I look forward to each month. This month I was paired with Dolores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. Dolores hails from California – a state I would love to visit. Anyway, I had a lot of fun looking through her blog – there were so many choices! I finally selected Shrimp Roasted with Potatoes and Prosciutto. I think what I really liked about making the dish was that it only used one pan for baking, making for easy clean up. It was so good. My oldest ate two or three helpings, while my youngest really liked the shrimp and potatoes, not the prosciutto so much.

I love a good shrimp recipe and we will most definitely be eating this one again. I used baby Yukon Gold potatoes; I find them to be my go to potato. The prosciutto comes from Volpi's on the Hill in Saint Louis. I really like using local ingredients whenever I can. I would have used my own parsley, but for whatever reason, it won’t grow. My basil and rosemary grow, but I digress. I have often roasted shrimp with salt and pepper and olive oil, but I have never added lemon zest when I roast. It added a very nice summery flavor. I just love roasted shrimp and this is a great addition to my roasted shrimp recipe file.


Shrimp Roasted with Potatoes & Prosciutto
Fine Cooking Magazine, January 2008
1-1/2 lb. yellow or red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1-1/2 lb. large shrimp (21 to 25 per lb.), peeled and deveined
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and put a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Heat the oven to 500°F.In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with 3 Tbs. of the oil and the salt and cayenne. Carefully spread the potatoes in a single layer on the preheated baking sheet. Roast, loosening and turning the potatoes with a metal spatula after 15 minutes, until tender and golden, 20 to 25 minutes total.
Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. In a medium bowl, toss them with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, the lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and 2 to 3 grinds of pepper.Stir the prosciutto and garlic into the potatoes and continue to roast for another 5 minutes. Push the potatoes to one side of the pan and add the shrimp to the empty side. Spread in a single layer and roast until the shrimp curl and are just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley, stir everything together, and serve immediately.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cooking Challenge Week 2 - Mexican Lasagna

For this week’s challenge, I decided to make Mexican Lasagna Rolls. Using only those ingredients I had on hand, off I went on my culinary journey. Looking through my pantry and fridge, I found green chilies, black beans, tomato sauce, salsa – we have, like 12 different kinds, noodles, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, adobo sauce, and chorizo sausage. I got the idea watching a cooking show where Giada made Italian lasagna rolls. I liked the idea and decided to try my own version.

I liked the recipe I made, but I will have to change it a little for the next time. My husband liked it, but he suggested that next time, I might try refried beans. I fully intended to put fresh cilantro in the dish – I have some too – but, my kids were either whining or changing to get in the pool, and hubby was trying to teach a lesson to my oldest, hence the whining.

Ok, like I said, Hubby liked it, but thought it need a little tweaking; the kids, not so much. Me? Well, I don’t think I rolled the lasagna rolls correctly. I just put a dollop on the end and rolled. I feel that there was more pasta than filling. The flavor, however, was very good. Next time I will remember the cilantro; the freshness will really do something for the lasagna. I think I might also add cream cheese in place of the ricotta in traditional lasagna.

On Tuesday I went to the Hill with my friend, Robin. I bought some stuffed olives with gorgonzola – totally splendiferous. I decided to take a picture of them in a martini glass minus the martini. Needless to say, there are no more olives left. I have to go back to the Hill for more.

Mexican Lasagna

1 lb. Chorizo sausage
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can green chilies
8 oz tomato sauce
1 tsp adobo seasoning
½ cup cheddar cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese
2 cups salsa – your choice
1/2 cup tortilla crumbs - located where bread crumbs are in the grocery store.
1 lb lasagna noodles cooked per package directions.

Brown sausage, remove from pan and drain. Sausage will be greasy. Cook garlic in same pan, set aside. While sausage is cooking, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain on sheet pan with cooling rack – lay lasagna flat. In large bowl add beans and slightly mash with fork. Add garlic, green chilies, tomato sauce, and Adobo seasoning. Mix together. In a 9 x 13 pan, pour ¼ cup salsa on bottom. Spread each lasagna noodle with the sausage and bean mixture and roll up. Place each lasagna roll in the pan. When pan is full cover with rest of salsa, add cheese and tortilla crumbs, and cover with aluminum foil. Cook in oven until cheese melts and mixture is bubbling. Remove foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is browned. Let lasagna cool for 5 minutes and serve with sour cream.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Blue Cornmeal, a Cookbook, and Family Memories

I thought a lot about my granddad tonight. I made pancakes for dinner. pancakes always conjure up memories for me. Below is an excerpt from a narrative I wrote while working on my Masters.

Saturday and Sunday mornings, Granddad was in charge of the kitchen. On Saturday he would make homemade buckwheat pancakes from scratch. Every Saturday he would get out a large chipped bowl for mixing the batter. Grandma would always remind me that the bowl was one of the few gifts from their wedding they still had. He would painstakingly measure out each ingredient for the pancakes, cleaning up after each thing was added to the batter. Granddad always talked about how buckwheat pancakes were so much better for a person than traditional pancakes. “They stick to your ribs,” he would tell me. Each pancake covered the plate and was at least two inches thick. Add butter and syrup to that and I was hard pressed to eat two. Every Saturday I heard the same thing, “Why do I slave to make these damn pancakes if you are going to only eat two,” he would bark.

“Make them smaller and she might eat more, Elmer,” my grandmother would always reply.

“Harrumph,” he would growl; and every Saturday I would eat two huge buckwheat pancakes. He really didn’t care how much I ate.

I didn’t make buckwheat pancakes, but I don’t think that matters. It is the sense of family togetherness that counts. I always think about my granddad buzzing around the kitchen cooking and showing us in a million ways how much he loved us. To me that is the power of food. It brings back memories of family and people who are gone, but not forgotten. We are, however, making new memories, new good times, and new stories around the dinner table.

About the pancakes. Tonight I made Blue Corn Flapjacks for the boys and Hubby. The recipe called for blue cornmeal that my friend brought me from Mexico. She summers in Utah and on the way home; they always stop in Mexico and bring spices and such back home. Dot and her husband used to be my next door neighbors and they have become members of the family. Not only has she brought me neat ingredients from her travels, but she also bought me a really interesting cookbook written by these two ladies who own a restaurant called, Hell’s Backbone Grill located in Boulder, Utah. This cookbook has not only interesting recipes, but there are neat stories as well. The pictures are fabulous – I can’t wait to go there someday.

I was a little worried about the pancakes because they were “blue” Sometimes my kids are a little picky about their food. This time we had a winner. The flapjacks were terrific. They had a different texture from traditional pancakes – they were almost smoother, for lack of a better word. While they weren’t blue, they did have a hint of blue color in them. Strange since the batter had a definite blue cast to it. Blue cornmeal, made from Blue corn or Hopi corn, is different from regular cornmeal in the texture – blue cornmeal has a hearty, fine texture. It is somewhat sweet in taste, so things made with blue cornmeal instead of yellow or white usually taste sweeter. The boys are happy because there are leftovers so they can have some in the morning.

Blue Corn Flapjacks, courtesy; With a Measure of Grace by Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle with Lavinia Spalding

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup blue cornmeal
4 eggs
3 cups milk
½ cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
More oil for greasing griddle

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal.

In another bowl, lightly mix eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine well.

Preheat griddle to medium-hot. A drop of water will dance over the griddle when it is ready. Grease by spreading 2 tbsp oil on it and spread around with a folded paper towel. Keep the towel around to use for the next batch of cakes.

Pour from a pitcher or use a ladle to make standard round cakes. Turn cakes when edges are set and small bubbles form and pop on the surface.

The batter will keep in the fridge for two days.

Pork Steak and Potatoes

Tonight I made one of our favorite potato dishes: Fingerling potatoes with Aioli. They are totally to die for. We had them with pork steaks, and fresh sautéed spinach with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

The recipe for the aioli comes from Ina Garten. I made it on a whim one night for my husband, thinking garlic, lemons, and olive oil are three of my favorite ingredients. When they are paired together, look out. I didn’t prepare the potatoes the way Ina did in her recipe. I chose to roast mine in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. They are the potatoes my family loves and looks forward to when I make them.

I really love the color of the aioli. The yellow from the egg yolks pairs well with the red of the saffron and green of the green onions. This aioli has a fresh lemony garlic taste that is very refreshing and a wonderful change from just serving plain potatoes.

Roasted Potatoes
2 lbs fingerling potatoes
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Minced garlic

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Clean potatoes and quarter. Place in microwaveable bowl and microwave for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave add oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. I didn’t put measurements because, while I like a lot of seasoning on my potatoes, someone else may not. Season how you like. Place potatoes on sprayed sheet pan and cook for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Serve with aioli.

While pork steaks aren’t my favorite, they are my husband and kids’ favorite food. In fact we are making them two weeks in a row to test a theory. Usually I season the pork steaks with salt and pepper, and hubby grills them until they are almost done, then puts them in a roaster with BBQ sauce and slow cooks them at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours. He swears that the pork steaks taste better cooked in the roaster versus the crock pot or open roaster that we have used in the past.

The roaster in question is an old Wagner Ware roaster/dutch oven that was given to me by my grandmother about five years ago. I remember all the Thanksgiving turkeys cooked in that roaster along with many roasts, ham loaf – that is a wonderful dinner, and other meats. Up until the past two years, I didn’t use the roaster because it didn’t fit in the oven. My old oven was a Jenn-Air – because of the downdraft, the oven is much smaller than regular ovens. Anyway all the meat I cook in the roaster comes out very tender and flavorful. I know my grandma would be glad that we are getting so much enjoyment out of it.

In fact my husband is so impressed by this roaster that we are taking it with us to Ohio next month when we visit my family and cook pork steaks for them. This is something my other grandmother looks forward to each year. She is 97 years old this year – we don’t want to disappoint her; every time we talk to her she tells us how much she is looking forward to not only seeing us, but also to eating Hubby’s pork steak.

What I love most about a meal like this is that the family eats together and enjoys not only the meal, but the company. Pork steak is one of my kids’ favorite meals and when they know we are making them, they talk about it quite a bit because they are excited. I will always remember pork steak as my not only my husband’s favorite food, but also the one thing he truly enjoys making.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Light Summer Dinner

It seems that often I put pasta dishes and meat dishes on my blog. Tonight, I decided to cook a much lighter dinner, one that while I often cook, I never thought about putting on my blog. Although I don’t use fresh asparagus all the time, the preparation of the fish is something my family likes. It is easy to prepare and is quite tasty. Along with the fish and asparagus I served asiago cheese bread.

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, and my kids are starting to like it too. Trying to get kids to eat vegetables is sometimes a very difficult thing to do. Tonight wasn’t so bad. There was some grumbling, but the kids finally managed to eat some of the asparagus.

Oven Baked Tilapia

4 fresh Tilapia filets
Olive oil
Fresh thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Minced garlic
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Place fish filets on sheet pan and drizzle olive oil over fish. Season with thyme, salt, pepper, lemon, and garlic. Cook in oven 10 minutes or until done. Cooking time depends on size and thickness of filets. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Asparagus

1 bunch fresh asparagus.
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Minced garlic
About 1/2 to 1 cup white wine
Juice of one half lemon

Clean asparagus. Heat large skillet, add olive oil, asparagus, and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add wine and salt and pepper. Bring wine to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Reduce wine by 1/3. Add salt, pepper, and lemon. Serve immediately.

While dinner was easy to cook, it was quite tasty and very light and healthy. The thyme and lemon gave the fish a very fresh summery taste. Tilapia is such a nice white fish with a mild flavor. It takes other flavors very well. Adding the wine to the asparagus didn't cause the vegetable to become limp. It only added another layer of flavor to my side dish. Just like the fish, the lemon added that summery taste to the asparagus as well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cooking Challenge - Week One

For my cooking challenge this week I got my inspiration from. Elle's New England Kitchen She made Beef Stroganoff, one of my favorite dishes. I had some leftover chicken and decided to try Chicken Stroganoff. I really liked the idea of the one pot dish since it is summer and I don’t want to heat up the kitchen too much, but then I saw a recipe for parmesan popovers and just had to heat the oven and make those – more about that later.

Anyway, in keeping with the summer theme, I chose my ingredients carefully. I wanted the stroganoff to have a light, clean, summery taste. With that in mind, I chose tarragon not only because it pairs well with chicken, but also because my babysitter has it in her garden. Lemon was also tops on my list because it adds a bright cheery, summery flavor to any dish. Garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley rounded out my herbs and spices.

I was a little hesitant to put in sour cream until I talked to a friend of mine who said that the sour cream in traditional stroganoff gave it a somewhat tangy taste, so I decided to keep it in. Thoughts for replacements were mascarpone or fresh mozzarella – thank goodness; that would have been waay too much liquid.

The flavor of the stroganoff turned out well, I thought; however, I think – no, I know, I used too much liquid. It turned out a little soupy. For the ingredient list, I will put a reduced amount of chicken stock.

Chicken Stroganoff

2 chicken breasts
2 chicken thighs
6 tbsp olive oil - divided
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
3 cloves garlic – chopped fine
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
1 ½ cup white wine – your choice
1 quart chicken stock – I used more; this is a guess, you might have to adjust
1 lb short pasta – your choice
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp fresh tarragon – chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Juice of one lemon
Kosher salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat chicken in 1/2 olive oil and Italian seasoning. (I mix together in a bowl.) Put chicken on a cookie sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and let chicken cool - tear apart with a fork and set aside.

Heat oil in electric or large skillet. Cook garlic and pepper for 1-2 minutes until soft. Add wine and let reduce by half. Add chicken and let cook on medium low heat for 3-4 minutes. Add chicken stock, bring to boil and add pasta – let cook until pasta is al dente. Stir in flour to thicken sauce – oil has been added earlier. Add lemon juice, tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes and serve.

The popovers smelled great – my husband came home and was excited about trying them. Unfortunately, they weren’t what we thought they would be. I think I followed the recipe correctly; however, a mistake is not something I haven’t made before. I will try them again, but may just a different recipe. My kids seemed to like them, so all was not lost. The biggest problem is that the aroma didn’t match the taste at all – such a big disappointment. Dinner was good – it always is when you eat with family.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Three Cheese Risotto

Risotto is an Italian rice dish that is made by gently sautéing rice in olive oil and onions, then gradually adding stock to it. The dish is very creamy, yet the rice retains its texture and is al dente. For the first time, I made risotto. I chose a cheese risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, and Romano cheeses. It seemed to me to be the easiest to start with. While my kids weren’t crazy about it, both my husband and I liked it.

I prepped everything in advance, so that I could stir without tying to pour or measure. For some reason, I was slightly intimidated by risotto; I thought that it would be more difficult to make than it was. Granted, I made a very basic recipe – I will be increasing the level of difficulty the next time I make a risotto. I pulled some recipes and will be looking for more. Following is the recipe that I used for my risotto dish. The only thing I did differently from the recipe was that I slowly added the stock to the rice, onions, garlic, and olive oil. I also added more than one tablespoon of olive oil; I added about two tablespoons. All other steps were the same

Three Cheese Risotto – recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
Salt and white pepper
6 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 pound Arborio rice
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup grated Romaino cheese
1/4 cup grated Asigo cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives

In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until the onions are slightly soft. Add the stock and garlic. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 6 minutes. Add the rice and simmer for 18 minutes, stirring constantly, or until the mixture is creamy and bubbly. Add the butter, cream, cheese and chives. Reseason with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes and serve immediately.