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!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Presto Pasta Nights and Spaghetti Tacos

This may be the silliest entry I have ever written, and I am writing this for Presto Pasta Nights. This is a weekly event that has a different host for each event. This week’s event is being held by Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast.

I have two small boys who love to watch TV. One of the shows they watch is ICarly, a show about kids who have their own web show. It is actually quite funny and I will watch the odd episode or two with my kids. Anyway, I digress, sort of. On ICarly, the older brother is often shown cooking. One of the dinners he seems to cook quite often – or I just keep seeing the same episode over and over – is spaghetti tacos. The boys have seen those tacos and wanted me to try to make them. So I did. The boys, however, had a problem eating the tacos and they quickly reverted to regular spaghetti. A couple of nights later, I was watching my neighbor's kids and the little boy was so excited because I could make Spaghetti Tacos. He loved them - in fact he kept saying "Too good" the whole time he was eating. I am thinking that his mom will soon be making Spaghetti Tacos for him.

It is really quite easy; just make your favorite spaghetti. My sauce recipe comes from our babysitter, who is a fabulous cook. I know because I see her food and smell it all the time! She tells me that this recipe comes from an Italian cook she knows.

Spaghetti Sauce, compliments of my babysitter

2 lbs hamburger – sausage would be good here too, or a combination of both.
4 cans tomato paste
2 cups of water for each can of tomato paste
Finely grated parmesan cheese
Basil
Oregano
Olive oil
Garlic
Sugar

She gave me no measurements. I cooked the meat, drained it added olive oil and garlic to the pan – I used a 4-6 quart stockpot – cooked the garlic for 2-3 minutes and added the meat back. Add the tomato paste and water, combine. Add other herbs, sugar, and salt and pepper to pot and simmer for 1 hour. Add cheese, combine to melt. Cook for another 15-20 minutes and serve with your favorite pasta.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Taste and Create - Stir Fried Shrimp with Ginger and Scallion

For this month’s Taste and Create, an event hosted by Nicole from For the Love of Food, I was paired up with Christine from Kit’s Chow. Her blog is filled with tasty and interesting recipes. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by, please do; and tell her I said “hi!” Anyway, in her description, she said that her blog is bits of her life stir-fried together. I liked that, so I chose a recipe this month that called for my handy, dandy wok.

While most of her recipes are South Beach Diet friendly, a lot of them have an oriental flair. Christine cooks a lot with rice, vegetables, and eggs. Not knowing much about the South Beach diet, I have found her blog to be interesting and informative. One entry I found very interesting, was the one about pigs’ trotters. I wanted to make that, but I didn’t get up the gumption, nor did I have access to the vinegar required for the recipe. If I find the vinegar, I just might have to give the pigs’ trotters a go.

Anyway, I decided after careful inspection of Christine’s blog, to make her Stir Fried Shrimp with Ginger and Scallion. While I did make one teeny, weeny mistake, I think the shrimp turned out pretty well. My mistake was to peel the shrimp – it is something I just do without thinking. Peeling them caused them to be more salty than they would have been otherwise. The only other thing that was different was that I had to use powdered ginger vs. fresh ginger. Cooking the shrimp in the wok is one of my favorite ways to prepare shrimp. The quick cooking, the high heat, the oil, and the corn starch all added to the flavor and texture of the shrimp.

I love doing Taste and Create – it gives me the opportunity to look at someone else’s blog and to try different recipes. I have already bookmarked a couple of other recipes from Kit’s Chow to try.

Below is the recipe straight from Christine’s blog: try it and enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 lb of shrimps
A large nob of ginger, thinly-sliced and cut into shreds
2 pieces of green onions, cut into shreds
1/4 cup of thin soy sauce
PepperSesame oil
2 tablespoons of coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons of cornstarch or tapioca starch
Oil

Method:
Clean the shrimps by rubbing it with the coarse salt. Rinse salt off.
Marinate the shrimps with sesame oil, pepper and cornstarch
Heat the wok and add the oil. Swirl it around the pan and add the ginger and scallions. Stir fry a bit.

Add the shrimps and stir fry. You may need to add a bit more oil.
Pour the soy sauce over the shrimps and stir everything together until shrimps are cooked through.
Dish up and serve.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fall and Winter Soups - Entry Two - Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Spinach

Ok, this is the second of my soup entries. I used to go hang out at Baldo’s, an Italian restaurant my friend worked at near my old apartment in St. Louis. Every time I went there I would always order the tortellini soup, with tortellini floating around in a lovely clear broth. There was nothing better than that soup on a cold winter’s night.

This recipe is a modification or combination of two tortellini soup recipes that I found a few years ago. It is so simple to make and so tasty – if you want some spice, just add cayenne or red pepper flakes.

Soup is always a very comforting food that warms from the inside when it is frosty and chilly on the outside. I love to eat soup, especially in the winter, but I have been known to make them in the summer.

I was looking through one of my cookbooks earlier this evening, and I have found a few really interesting soups to make. I think my next soup recipe is either going to be a roasted tomato soup or a soba noodle soup.

A quick easy soup that can be a meal. This will take the chill off any winter day.

Tortelinni Soup with Sausage and Spinach

1 lb. mild Italian Sausage
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb cheese tortellini
1 bag fresh spinach
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3 quarts beef stock
Parmesan cheese

Slice sausage and render in stock pot. When sausage is near to finishing, add garlic, thyme and fennel. Drain grease from pan, deglaze with beef stock. Bring stock to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add tortellini to pot and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Serve immediately and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

French Toast for the Boys

Tuesday was Veteran's Day and we were lucky to be off as a family. I decided to make French Toast for the boys. Making them reminded me about making them for my grandparents when I was a kid. I beat the eggs, added cinnamon and milk. I then proceeded to make french toast for the three of us. It was really good, but I used too much egg and had some left over.

My grandma wanted me to scramble the rest and eat them - just to let you know that, while french toast tastes very good with the dash of cinnamon, it doesn't translate very well to plain scrambled eggs. I guess I learned my lesson as I had nary a drop of egg mixture left when I made them for my family this week.

Making the french toast for them reminded them about breakfast for dinner. My boys love breakfast at dinnertime, so Friday, I made scrambled eggs - no cinnamon - and hash browns with sausage. That was okay, they said, but next time, they want blue cornmeal pancakes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cube Steak with Gravy and Noodles

As I have stated before, we get a side of beef each year. With it comes many different cuts of beef. We love the steaks and roasts, but are sometimes wondering what we should do with some of our cuts. Cube steak is one of those cuts. I know that you can make Country Fried Steak, but I like to try somewhat healthier alternatives. For dinner tonight, I decided to make Cube Steak and Gravy.

I just bought a 5 quart Le Creuset Braiser and decided to try it out with my cube steaks. I sautéed my steaks in olive oil, removed them from the pan, added garlic and onion, and sautéed that. After the onions and garlic were sautéed; I deglazed my pan with red wine. To the onions and garlic, I added beef stock and steak seasoning, some roux to thicken my gravy.

While my dinner was cooking, a lovely aroma filled the house. There are some things I really love about cold weather – one of them being the comfort food that I always love to make.

Cube Steaks with Gravy and Noodles

3 lb cube steak cut into about 2 in pieces.
Salt and pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion chopped
2 tsp steak seasoning
1 -2 jars – 6 oz sliced mushrooms, or fresh. Whichever you prefer. I used jarred because I had them in my pantry.
1 quart beef stock
½ to 1 cup red wine
Olive oil – two turns of the pan
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 large sprig rosemary, minced
1 lb noodles – your choice. I used Gemelli and my kids loved their shape!
1 handful parsley chopped

Season steaks with salt and pepper. Heat up pan with olive oil to medium high, brown steaks in pan. Remove meat and sauté onions and garlic until softened. Deglaze pan with red wine. Add beef stock and steak seasoning, bring to a slow boil. While bringing to a boil make a light brown roux with butter and flour mixture. Add to hot liquid and stir until starts to thicken. Put steaks back into pan with mushrooms and reduce heat to a simmer. Add rosemary and simmer for 30 minutes

About 10 minutes before steaks are ready, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add 1 ½ tbsp butter to hot noodles and stir to combine.

Add parsley to steak and gravy mixture, stir. To serve put noodles on bottom of plate, add steak and gravy and serve.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall and Winter Soups - Entry One - Garlic Black Bean and Sausage Soup

While I just love summer, there are some things about fall and winter that I truly love. Summer vegetables are great – tomatoes on the vine, cucumbers, fresh salads; those can’t be beat. Fall and winter though, are the time for soups, stews, chilies, and comfort foods. On the first somewhat chilly night, I decided to make a hearty, easy as pie soup for dinner called Garlic, Black Bean, and Sausage Soup. It is hearty enough to be a meal in itself.

The flavors of this soup have a Cuban influence. The sausage is enhanced by the fennel and the garlic gives it the extra umph that makes it a great soup. The tomatoes add a freshness and the sour cream smoothes everything and brings the flavors together. I garnished the soup with green onions even though it doesn't call for it in the recipe. They added a nice fresh flavor that goes well with the tomatoes.

Garlic, Black Bean, and Sausage Soup

12 oz bulk mild Italian sausage
1 ½ cups chopped onion
10 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp fennel seed, crushed
2 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 ½ ounce can beef broth or stock
Dash ground red pepper – optional
¼ cup sour cream
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp snipped fresh oregano

In a large saucepan cook sausage, onion, garlic, and fennel seed over medium high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until sausage is thoroughly cooked. Drain well.

Stir in the black beans and beef broth. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, if desired, stir the red pepper into the sour cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, stir the tomatoes and oregano into soup; heat through. Top each serving with sour cream mixture.

This recipe is easy, tasty, and marvelous. While it tastes great the first night, try doubling it so that there are leftovers – they taste great too!

This will hopefully be the first of many soup entries for the winter season. I would love to hear some ideas for soups as well. Send me your links for soups that you like to cook! I will put them on my blog!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pasta Presto Night - Steak Pasta with Gorgonzola and Spinach

My weeks seem to get busier and busier. I don’t know where the time goes, but go it does. I have been trying to make food ahead as I don’t have time every night of the week to cook. I don’t mind ordering out occasionally, but I don’t want to get into that habit.

For this week's Pasta Presto, I decided to showcase a new pasta I created. Presto Pasta Night is a weekly event that has a different host each week. This week Pasta Presto Night is being hosted by Presto Pasta Nights.

Last weekend, we cooked quite a bit. Hubby grilled arm steak – from our side of beef, hamburgers, and backbone, which are actually large pork chops. He ate the pork, we all ate the burgers, and I turned the arm steak into a very tasty pasta dish.

I really enjoy looking in my fridge and creating something new to my family and me. I saw the steak, knew I had to do something with it; I also remembered the gorgonzola cheese I had purchases recently on the Hill. The spinach I saw confirmed what I was going to make; Steak pasta with gorgonzola and spinach.

It was actually very easy. I based my dinner off a recipe I sometimes make called Linguini with Butter, Pecorino, Arugula and Black Pepper. In this recipe the sauce was made in the same bowl the pasta was served in. I did the same thing. I warmed the bowl, melted my butter, added salt and pepper, and then put in the pasta, cheese, steak and spinach. I mixed everything up and served. It was an easy, very tasty dish that I will make again soon.

Pasta with Steak, Spinach, and Gorgonzola Cheese

2 ¼ lb. arm steaks grilled rare with sea salt and pepper and sliced thin
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 lb gorgonzola cheese crumbled
½ stick butter melted
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2-3 large handfuls fresh spinach
1 lb pasta – your choice
2 ladles pasta water

Cook pasta per package directions, making sure to add salt to the boiling water. Meanwhile, slice steak in short thin strips and reheat in 2 tablespoons olive oil until heated through. Set aside. Warm a serving bowl, add melted butter, salt and pepper. When pasta is finished add to bowl along with cheese, spinach, and steak. Stir to combine. Serve immediately.