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!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sugar Coated Pecans

Ok, so I know that I haven’t posted in a while. I have problems when it comes to the end of the year. I have finals, Christmas, kids, and all the things that go with it. I did do a little – and I mean little – holiday cooking. I hope everyone has had a great holiday and will have a great new year!!

One of the things that I made was Sugar Coated Pecans. They were delicious. I got the recipe from one of the teachers at school. She brought some, and I really liked them. I have since given the recipe to some of my friends who have now made them for their families.

Sugar Coated Pecans

1 tbsp egg white
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon – I used more
2 cups Pecan halves

In a bowl, beat egg white until foamy. Add pecans and toss until well coated. Combine sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over pecans. Toss to coat.

Spread in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wax paper. Yield 3 cups. Makes a great gift!

Until next entry – and I do have some more – have a great day!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Easy Peasy Pork and Gravy

Have you ever been to the store and seen specials on meat? You know, buy five packages of meat for 20.00. I did that a couple of weeks ago. I bought two packages of pork steaks, one whole chicken, and two packages of small pork chops. I haven’t used the chicken yet, but Hubby made pork steaks – my littlest is ecstatic, and I decided to make something new with the pork chops.

Since I had mashed potatoes and stuffing left from Thanksgiving, I wanted to make something with gravy so that I could eat the rest of the Thanksgiving food, and this was what I came up with.

Pork Chops with Gravy – easy peasy dinner

8 small boneless pork chops
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large sprig rosemary, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup white wine
2 tsp Italian seasoning
½ to ¾ stick butter
Flour to make roux
1 quart chicken stock

Salt and pepper the pork chops. Heat oil in pan and sauté pork chops, browning on both sides. Remove from pan. Add more oil and sauté garlic and shallots until soft. Deglaze with white wine and add Italian seasoning and rosemary.

While pork is sautéing, make a roux in a skillet, set aside until garlic and shallots are cooked. After pan has been deglazed and seasoning has been added, add chicken stock and bring to a low boil. Add roux to pan and whisk until it has combined with the liquid. Add pork back to pan and cook over low heat until sauce thickens, and pork is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with potatoes

Dinner was great! The pork was tender, and the gravy was light and creamy. If you want really creamy gravy, just add a dollop of cream to finish off the gravy. I know that the picture doesn't do this dish justice. I did change the recipe from the original way I made it. I think making the roux separately will make the gravy thicker. I assumed that the olive oil was enough fat and only added flour to thicken.

Have a great evening! Be back soon with more recipes. Hope you are all having a great holiday season.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Friday - My kind of Shopping

Black Friday – a day that one goes shopping for deals and steals. Fighting with the crowds and traffic. I just couldn’t get into that this year. Instead, my sister-in-law, her sister and I decided to go shopping at Soulard Market in St. Louis.
One of my favorite places there is the spice market. They have all kinds of spices and coffees and teas - just wonderful smells. It is a great place to go. I just love it. We had a very nice time; it wasn’t crowded, and we got lots of fresh produce at terrific prices! I hope you all had a great holiday weekend and a great rest of the year.

Be back soon with new posts!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Julia Child, Dinner, and Friends

Saturday night, four friends got together with their spouses to celebrate Julia Child. A dinner menu was put together, copies of the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking were handed out, and shopping commenced. The plan was for each couple to bring one or two dishes. Our hosts only had to prepare one dish, since they so graciously allowed the rest of us to trash their kitchen cooking the rest of the meal.

After watching the movie Julie and Julia, we thought it would be great fun to cook a dinner using only Julia Child recipes. Sounds easy, right? Wrong!! While the meal turned out great, there were a few fumbles and retakes along the way.

To start with, I couldn’t properly copy a recipe to save my life. Since I was the only one with the actual cookbook, I said that I would be happy to get everyone a copy of their recipes. The only one I got right was the beef recipe – I found it on the internet. The rest of them weren’t so easy. My sister-in-law was responsible for French Onion Soup and a cheesecake tart. I sent her the Onion Soup – I found it on the internet too. Anyway, I had to copy the rest of the recipes – I did that (or I thought I did) and I passed them out. Sister in Law was the first to call saying that she got my email – and the same recipe copied. Great, just great. Now she can cook the onion soup, twice. Off to the copy machine to correct my mistake. I dropped it off with her, only to remember that I never copied the crust recipe – it is on a different page. I fixed that and felt great. Now I could get on with my recipes. Not so fast. One of my other friends called to tell me that I never copied the caramel sauce recipe – it was on a different page too. I really need to learn how to read her cookbook. Ok, so I fixed that and off I went to cook my recipes.

So, I am at home getting ready to start on my recipes. I was making Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence (Chicken sautéed with herbs and garlic, egg yolk and butter sauce) and Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal (Scalloped potatoes with onions tomatoes, anchovies, herbs and garlic). I decided to double check the beginning of the potato section to see if I needed to peel the potatoes or not. I learned that there are two kinds of potatoes – I already knew that, but for some bizarre reason I decided to buy bakers; I never buy them! Ask my husband. It has been two years since we have had baked potatoes for dinner. Guess what? I bought the wrong potatoes – I needed boilers, you know Yukons – that is what I always buy. Oh, well, Hubby will be eating bakers for the next couple of days…weeks…whatever. I bought new potatoes and started cooking.

My sister in law had questions about the crust, so I ran over there to show her the cookbook. She was cooking the soup, onions actually – for the second time. She burned the first batch and had to start over. It wasn’t until she referred to the recipe that she realized she forgot to buy the beef broth – that wouldn’t be noticed! We got that little mess taken care of, and started on the crust for the Tart au Fromage Frais (Cream Cheese Tart). That worked like a charm! There was lots of nervousness about the crust, but it went off without a hitch. Great work!

On Saturday afternoon, I checked my Facebook page and saw that one of my Julia partners posted “Caramel Sauce, take two.” I asked her what happened and she said that the sauce turned grainy, so she had to start over. She was making Pommes Normande En Belle Vue (Applesauce caramel mold). The sauce worked out the second time, and the rest of her dessert went well.

We all decided that we now know why Julie cussed a lot as she was cooking her way through the cookbook; we would be too. It isn’t an easy book to follow. I have to say though; I really like some of Julia’s descriptions. The words she chose cracked me up.

Dinner started with Soupe A L’oignon (French onion soup), which I have to say, has to be the best FOS I have ever eaten. My husband doesn’t even like onion soup, and he devoured his bowl. I even get to make it at home just for us! I am excited about that.

After the soup we moved on to the main part of the meal. Our hosts made Boeuf Borguignon (beef stew in red wine with bacon, onions and mushrooms). Funny thing though; when going to buy the rump roast, our host was told that they aren’t called rump roasts anymore – that term is soo 60’s! Ha – of course it is a 60’s term; it’s a Julia Child cookbook! Funny stuff. There were no problems with the beef dish – smelled great and tasted even better. The meat was tender and the sauce was fabulous.

I made Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence (Chicken sautéed with herbs and garlic, egg yolk and butter sauce). while it was very good, I think I screwed it up – or the cookbook was wrong. The recipe called for white wine and lemon juice – I put in mine and also the lemon juice for the asparagus! The sauce was lemony, but good! We ended up having grilled asparagus, since for some strange reason there was no lemon juice for the Asperges Au Naturel with Beurre au Citron (boiled asparagus – hot or cold with lemon butter sauce).

I also made Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal (Scalloped potatoes with onions tomatoes, anchovies, herbs and garlic). There were no snafoos with that dish except that I bought the wrong potatoes – Hubby will be eating bakers for a while. The potatoes had a mild Mediterranean flavor – the anchovies, tomatoes, and onions really blended well with the potatoes.

The desserts, I thought, were very good. I was very impressed with the Tart au Fromage Frais (Cream Cheese tart) – the crust was very well done. Never having eaten a cheesecake with a pie type crust before, I had mixed feelings about it. I thought it was a good combination; though, and it worked well together. My sister in law made a sauce for the tart that added, not only color, but also a brightness to the dish.

The Pommes Normande En Belle Vue (Applesauce caramel mold) had a tart crisp flavor that my husband really liked. In fact he liked both of them very much. The caramel sauce had to be cooked twice, as the first batch turned back to granules. The end result, complete with whipped cream was a great end to a perfect dinner.

We had plenty of drinks too. Not only did everyone bring wine to have with dinner, our host opened the bar and made some amazing drinks like Mai Thais and Margaritas. Everything was just so much fun! I am looking forward to the next get together.

Dinner was a great time, and we plan on doing a group meal again. We probably won’t do a Julia dinner, but it was a neat experience to try it once. I will make the onion soup again and maybe some of the other menu items. I think the best part of the meal was just sitting around the table, talking, laughing, and just enjoying the company.

Taste and Create - Swimming Pasta

Ok, so I am late once again with Taste and Create. I got all caught up with the Julia dinner this past weekend – post to come in a bit – and Thanksgiving which is tomorrow! Tonight’s dinner was my Taste and Create, a pasta dish I found on my partner, Sweet and Savory’s blog. She has tons of yummy looking treats. Head over there and snoop around. She won’t mind!

Anyway, I made her swimming spaghetti, and it was a hit at our house. I did make a couple of changes, but I will note those. Try this on a busy night – it was a snap to make!

1 can of whole tomatoes (I used crushed) – 28 oz can
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
¼ tsp salt
Dash pepper
1 box of medium thickness spaghetti (I used fettuccini)
Shredded mozzarella cheese (I had Provel)
Shredded Parmesan
Sugar – I didn’t use any as I had San Marzano tomatoes, which are already sweet
2 cloves minced garlic – I added this
1 cup red wine

Cook pasta as directed on box. If you use whole tomatoes, I suggest whizzing them in the food processor or taking a knife to them so you are dealing with smaller pieces.

Sauté garlic in olive oil until softened. Add spices and deglaze with wine. Add tomatoes bring to a low boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Another add-on to this dish would be broccoli or zucchini or even green beans. That would add some color to the dish as well as taste.

Have a great holiday – Julia dinner to be posted next!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken Dinner - Part Three of Three (Chicken Casserole)

One of the first meals I made for Hubby before we were married was this chicken dish. I remember my mom making it and always saying that it was great for company. A tasty filling meal that required very little effort. I guess Hubby liked it. He married me and he still eats my cooking!

This is one of the easiest chicken dishes. I am going to give the basic recipe here, but you can add or change the recipe however your tastes go.

Chicken Dinner Casserole

4-5 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup white wine
2 14 oz cans cream of chicken soup
2 14 oz cans cream of mushroom soup
1 slice Swiss cheese for every chicken breast
Stuffing croutons

Place chicken breasts in casserole dish. Pour wine over chicken. Place one piece of cheese on each breast. Combine soups in a separate bowl and pour over chicken mixture. Pour stuffing on top of chicken mixture. Cover with foil and place in preheated 350 degree oven for one hour. Remove foil for last 15-20 minutes of cooking to brown the top. Remove from oven – check chicken for doneness. Allow to sit for five minutes and serve.

This time, though, I dredged the chicken in seasoned flour (salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasonings) and sautéed to brown the chicken before cooking in the oven. I thought that was a nice touch, if you have the time.

My next entry will showcase a Julia Child dinner my friends and I are making. Should be fun and interesting! See ya soon!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chicken Dinner - Part Two of Three (Italian Wedding Soup)

For the second of my chicken dishes, I chose another Ina recipe. I love Italian Wedding Soup, and she has a recipe for a relatively healthy soup. I of course couldn’t find chicken sausage, so I had to use a less healthy pork sausage.

I made this for one of my friends, who came to dinner with her host daughter from Russia. The boys were excited to meet someone from another country – and they asked her so many questions, they were able to get their language belt loop for scouts. She taught them 39 new words in Russian, along with the alphabet and numbers. They learned some differences between our schooling and theirs. They also played Wii with her, which she really seemed to enjoy.

Dinner turned out really well. I loved that the meatballs were baked, not cooked in oil. I used chicken stock that I made from scratch – the easiest stock to make – and I think that really helped the soup come to life. I think I made the meatballs a little big, but that was fine. I do think next time, though that I will really try to make them bite size.

Substituting pork sausage for chicken sausage didn’t affect the soup at all. The dill and spinach added a touch of freshness that makes all dishes sparkle. I have to say here that I love spinach in soup; I don’t know why, I just do. It adds a layer of flavor that oftentimes totally completes a dish.

My friends loved dinner. I paired the soup with garlic cheese biscuits – ala Red Lobster style. I didn’t have any cheddar cheese, so I substituted sliced Colby jack. Turned out great. Those are my favorite biscuits. In fact, those are the only biscuits that I make well.

Next post is part three of the chicken dinners. Quick question that is totally off topic. We grilled shrimp tonight that I marinated in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, parsley, lime zest and fresh squeezed lime juice. While I thought it was really good, I also thought it was missing something. Any ideas? I thought about the smoky flavors of cumin, but wanted some suggestions. Thanks! Talk to you all soon!!

Chicken Dinner - Part One of Three (Chicken Bouillabaisse)

Chicken is one of the most versatile meats. I have three entries that all use chicken and use it differently. Tonight’s chicken is a Barefoot Contessa recipe. I love to watch her show – she uses simple ingredients and always has outstanding results.

I have made bouillabaisse before; with seafood of course, but never a chicken bouillabaisse. After watching her make it twice, I decided to try it. I try to not make any changes in a recipe the first time I make it, but I did make a couple of changes. First I skinned the chicken. I just can’t stomach the skin unless it is fried chicken. Second I had problems with the Rouille. For some reason, it came out very, very soupy. I made aioli from this recipe instead, and that was great.

I think this dish would turn out very well made with boneless chicken instead of bone in, making it easier to eat. Overall, I really enjoyed the flavor combinations. The Pernod and saffron add a new level of flavor and richness. While I really like saffron, I thought the pernod was a bit strong, but if you want that rich flavor without spending the 30.00 for Pernod, you can substitute Ouzo, which is much less expensive. I have to say, I just loved the aioli with the chicken. That added a creaminess and blended so well with the tomatoes and garlic.
If you want to try something different, try Ina’s Chicken Bouillabaisse with her aioli recipe. It’s a twist on bouillabaisse and chicken! Next post – Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pork Burgers and a New Pasta Recipe

I know I haven’t posted to my blog lately. I have been busy with school and the boys. It seems that when it rains, it pours. Between the work at school, and the boys’ activities, I don’t have time to do much extra stuff.

Today though, I tried a new recipe and made up a recipe. Some friends of mine love to cook and introduced me to an author named Nigel Slater. He has written several cookbooks, one of which I own – Kitchen Diaries, A year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater.

Slater takes you on a journey through his cooking, shopping and pantry with recipes ranging from the very simple to much more complex recipes. I thoroughly enjoy reading not only his recipes, but also the inspiration and reasons for creating them.

Pork Burgers with Lime Leaves and Cilantro

4 scallions
4 red hot chili peppers and their seeds
4 medium garlic cloves
The stalks and leaves from a small bunch of cilantro
A thumb sized lump of ginger
6 lime leaves
4 oz pancetta
1 ½ lbs ground pork
Vegetable oil or peanut oil for frying

Chop the scallions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro and finely grate ginger. Roll up and finely shred the lime leaves – they should be as fine as you can get them – then put the lot in a food processor and process until all in finely chopped wand well mixed. Scrape the paste out into a large bowl. Cut up the pancetta, then put it into the processor and process it to a coarse mush. Now add it, with the spice paste, to the ground pork. Mix everything together – I like to do this with my hands – grinding in some salt and black pepper as you go. Set aside in the fridge for about half an hour for the flavors to mingle.

Squash the seasoned pork into about 12 small balls, then flatten them into patties. Pour a little oil into a heavy, shallow pan, just enough to cover the bottom. When it is hot, add half the meatballs and let them cook for several minutes over a high heat, turning them halfway through, till t hey are cooked in the middle and nicely brown and stickily, sensuously glossy on the outside. Enough for 4 with rice and salad

See what I mean? His writing is almost sensual. The way he talks about food, it is almost another guest in the room. If you get a chance, look for one of his books. I thought the burgers were very good. I really liked the freshness of the lime leaves and cilantro. That is a flavor combination that I am really beginning to like. I do think I overcooked them a bit. Since I am not used to cooking pork on the stove; Hubby usually grills or I cook in the oven.

My second recipe is my own creation. I confess, I really like Lipton Noodles and Sauce. I don’t like the idea of artificial flavors, though. Anyway, tonight I tried to make my own noodles and sauce. I am putting the ingredients down, but I have no exact measurements.

My pasta turned out really good – I was impressed, if I do say so myself. I must confess though, I got the idea from Melissa D’Arabian from The Next Food Network Star. She cooked a similar orzo dish. The stock and cheese made a nice little sauce for the pasta – it was an easy one dish meal that could very easily be adapted for any taste profile that one might want.

Orzo Pasta with Sauce

Chicken stock
Tri color orzo pasta
1 clove garlic – peeled
Chives – fresh or dried
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook orzo in chicken stock – I used about a quart. Only drain off excess – there should still be liquid in pan, I just drained off a little stock from the top. Remove garlic clove, add chives, salt pepper, and cheese. Stir to combine, check seasonings and serve.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cupcakes with Beer and Cheese? Who Knew?

For this month’s Taste and Create, I was paired with Stef from The Cupcake Project. Since I am not a baker, I spent a lot of time looking through her cupcake concoctions. I finally settled on the Beer Cheese cupcakes with Bacon Cheddar Cream Cheese Frosting. I liked the idea of a beer cheese cupcake. One of my favorite soups is Beer Cheese Soup with Bacon, so it was an easy decision for me to make.

The cupcakes weren’t hard to make; the boys helped me some, and when they were done, they just had to dig in. The oldest ate four, while my youngest ate two plus a bite. They seemed to like them better with no frosting on them. I think part of the reason for that is that the pumpkin muffins I make don’t have frosting on them.

I really think the concept was interesting – my husband’s favorite ingredient, beer, with my favorite ingredients, cheese and bacon all wrapped up into one tasty moist morsel. These cupcakes have to be the moistest cupcakes I have ever tasted; the beer must add that special touch. I also really liked the brown sugar instead of the always present white sugar. I agree with the kids; I liked them better without the frosting, but that is because I don’t have a real big sweet tooth, and the frosting was a little sweet for my taste, but it looked very good, like frosting with little surprises hidden inside.

Beer Cheese Cupcakes with Bacon Cheddar Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup beer
1 stick, plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup grated cheddar
2 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the beer and the butter, chopped into 1-inch chunks, in a large sauce pan, and heat to melt the butter. Add cheddar. Remove from heat, and whisk in the sugar. In a bowl, whisk the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, then add to the beer mixture. Sift together the flour and baking soda, and fold into the batter. Pour into cupcake wrappers and bake for 25 minutes, or until inserted cake tester comes out clean.
Makes 18 cupcakes.

Bacon Cheddar Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

1 8oz package cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup grated cheddar
1 cup bacon bits (I made my own, drained it, ran it through the food processor and drained it again)

Make sure cream cheese and butter are room temperature and beat them until creamy. Add grated cheddar. Slowly mix in powdered sugar. Stir in bacon bits.
If you want to try something different, try these cupcakes – they are a different take on an old classic.

Chicken Pasta Salad and a Picture

Before I get to my recipe, I just wanted to post this picture of my youngest helping in teh kitchen. He loves to help me cook and has a blast adding flavor to any dish we create! On to my chicken post.

I like to eat healthy at lunch at school, but I am tired of cottage cheese and tomatoes. I had some chicken breasts in the freezer, so I thawed them, marinated them, and roasted them in the oven. I also decided to try whole wheat pasta too. Not bad, I actually liked it!

I just finished up my pasta salad this week and I must say that I enjoyed every bite

Chicken Pasta Salad Marinade

1 sprig fresh rosemary
½ shallot chopped
2 small cloves garlic minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup scant white wine vinegar or less
Olive oil to emulsify

Combine all ingredients except olive oil. Drizzle oil in and whisk together to make an emulsion. Pour ½ over raw chicken to marinate. Set rest aside. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, longer if you have time.

Roast marinated chicken in 425 degree oven until just done and still moist.

Chicken Pasta Salad

2 chicken breasts marinated and cooked (see above)
½ lb whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained and cooled
1 small can artichokes, chopped
5 peppadew peppers, chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
7 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 large spoonfuls mayonnaise
Rest of marinade
Salt and pepper to taste

After chicken and pasta have cooled a bit, slice chicken thinly and combine with pasta. Add rest of ingredients except for mayo, mustard, and marinade. After mixture is combined, stir in wet ingredients and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This is also my entry for this week's Presto Pasta Nights, an event created by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast, and hosted this week by Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once. Go over and check her blog out!
My next post will be this month's Taste and Create event - I have been paired with a cupcake blogger. Wait and see what I post!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gringo Chicken Tortilla Soup

Some nights you want an easy recipe for a home cooked meal and fast. I am really liking my Gringo Salsa recipes – this is the second one I have posted about, but the third one I have made.

I found Gringo Salsa one day while shopping on the Hill in St. Louis. I was at Di Gregorio’s, one of the major Italian markets on the Hill. Anyway, on Saturdays, they sometimes have tastings, and I was lucky enough to try Gringo Meatloaf one time. Meatloaf isn’t one of my favorite meals, but this meatloaf and the one I blogged about recently I really liked.

Back to dinner – tonight I made Gringo Chicken Tortilla Soup. Not only was it an easy recipe, Tortilla Soup is one of my favorite soups in the whole wide world. My friend, Dottie, makes the best Tortilla Soup in the world. This recipe, though, is really easy; not as good as Dottie’s, but pretty good nonetheless. When I make this again, I will add green onions and tomatoes, for a fresher taste. The cheese really smoothes out the flavors, and the spice of the salsa really adds a kick to the soup. if you don’t have Gringo Salsa in your area – it is a local product, any black bean and corn salsa should be fine.

Gringo Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 cup cooked chicken cubed – I think shredded would be better
1 jar of Gringo Black Bean and Corn Salsa
1 lb Velveeta cubed
2- 15 oz. cans chicken broth – I used stock
1 15 oz. can corn – drained

Stir broth, chicken, salsa, and corn together, simmer 10 minutes. Add cubed Velveeta, stir and simmer until melted. Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream, if desired. For variation – add cooked rice.

Have a great evening! Check out this link for information on Gringo Salsa!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sauteed Chicken with Pan Sauce

I bought some chicken at the store and wanted to cook it a different way. I usually roast in the oven with salt, pepper, olive oil, and whatever seasoning I want. This time, I decided to sauté it and make a pan sauce to go with the chicken. It made for a good entrée. I served it with some buttered garlic noodles. My kids thought the chicken was wonderful! I can’t wait to make it again for them. I added Dijon to the mix – it added a fresh little zing to the sauce that enhanced the flavor of the chicken. Enjoy!

Sautéed Chicken with Pan Sauce

3 chicken breasts
3 chicken thighs
Flour for dredging
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine or chicken stock/broth
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp butter
1/3 cup parsley chopped

Pound chicken with meat mallet until about ¼ inch thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Season the flour with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, coating chicken.

Put 2 tbsp of oil in a large heated skillet – medium high heat. When oil is heated place chicken -in skillet, in two batches if necessary. Don’t crowd the chicken in the skillet. Cook until chicken is no longer pink and cooked through. Remove from pan – set aside on serving platter.

Put rest of oil in pan and sauté garlic and shallots until softened. Deglaze with wine, cook down a bit. Add butter and Dijon, stir to combine. Add parsley, stir gently to combine. Drizzle sauce over chicken, serve.

This dish is really versatile. Instead of shallots and garlic, one can use mushrooms, capers, sun-dried tomatoes; anything that works.

Next entry is a soup that uses my favorite gringo salsa! Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cubed Steak Stroganoff

For this week’s Presto Pasta, I decided to make my version of Beef Stroganoff. It is a pretty easy dish, that has a little kick to it. I am always looking for ways to use the beef we have in the freezer. For tonight’s dinner, I chose cubed steak – why? Because I don’t want country fried steak and I have around 7 packages of cubed steak in the freezer.

Cubed Steak Stroganoff

1 lb. cube steak diced
2 tbsp olive oil plus two turns of the pan
1 ½ tbsp steak seasoning plus 1 ½ tsp
Flour for dredging
Salt and pepper to season the flour
Olive oil – 2 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole shallot, minced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 cup red wine
A scant 1 quart beef stock
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Marinate steak in a shallow dish with olive oil and 2 tbsp steak seasoning for 30 minutes. Dredge steak in flour and sauté in olive oil until browned. Remove from pan. While meat is cooking, cook noodles according to package directions. Sauté garlic, mushrooms, and onions until softened. Deglaze pan with red wine, let reduce by 1/3. Add beef stock, bring to a slow boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add meat and noodles to pan. Stir to combine. Add Dijon, sour cream, and cheese. Combine. Top with parsley, stir and serve. Yummy!
This week's Presto Pasta roundup is being hosted by Joanna from Eats Well with Others. Check out the round up this weekend!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meal Planning for the Week

I try to plan my meals, so that I am not running to the store every day. Some weeks it works, some weeks it doesn’t. This week I am trying something new for me. I have planned out each day’s menu – almost, and am going to try to cook five dinners without going to the store for extra ingredients.

On Sunday, I made several items in preparation for the week. I had been craving chicken and noodles, so I made homemade chicken stock, used the chicken and made chicken and noodles. I also made Cold Tuna Noodle Pasta Salad – an old family favorite. My little one helped peel the eggs for the salad – he likes to help in the kitchen.

Chicken Stock – I often double the recipe so I have quite a bit on hand.

1 whole chicken, skinned and cut into parts – I don’t skin the wings (I am lazy)
4 cloves garlic
3 celery stalks cut into large chunks
2 carrots cut into large chunks
1 onion chopped into quarters or 1 leek chopped in large pieces.
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs rosemary, thyme and sage
Salt and peppercorns
Place all ingredients in a large pot with a lid and fill enough to cover chicken and other ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer with lid partially on for 2 ½ to 3 hours.

Remove chicken to a pan and strain liquid. Let stock cool overnight, remove any excess fat that has floated to top of container. Place stock in containers that are freezer safe and freeze for up to three months.

Separate chicken from bones and use in a variety of dishes.

Keeping in the made from scratch mood, I also made homemade bread – see previous post – which filled the house with that wonderful yeasty smell that for some reason, always reminds me of winter. I took some of my bread to a neighbor, whose son told her that I was the best cook. That made my day.

Chicken and Noodles

Shredded chicken from whole chicken – 3-4 cups
2 quarts chicken stock
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 lb pasta – your choice
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper
¾ cup Parmesan cheese shredded

Bring stock to a low boil. Add poultry seasoning While stock is heating up, make a blonde roux with the butter and flour. Melt butter and add flour to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes to cook flour taste out of the roux. When stock boils, slowly add roux and whisk into mixture. Stock should start to thicken. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add chicken to thickening stock and warm through. Season with salt and pepper

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions, leaving pasta al dente. After pasta is cooked, add to chicken mixture, stir in parsley, and pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of chicken and noodles and heat in 400 degree oven until cheese is melted and browned. Let stand for about 5 minutes and serve with warm bread and salad. Makes a great meal!`

Monday was a leftover kind of night. Hubby worked late and we had leftover White Castle –that’s right, White Castle. My oldest went with his dad to watch the Rams lose at the football game, and they brought home White Castle. I will admit that I do like the chicken ring sandwiches every once in a while. We also had leftover noodles from Saturday’s dinner and I made a green bean casserole, just because.

Tuesday, Hubby is cooking ribs that we bought from the local fire department – that is our dinner, along with grilled corn and potatoes. He is using a dry rub we bought in Memphis from the Rendezvous restaurant we ate at a couple of years ago on a trip to Memphis. They are famous for their dry rub ribs. We are not making dry rub ribs, but we are putting the rub on the ribs, grilling them for a while and letting them finish off in a low temp oven soaked in bbq sauce. Hubby loves bbq sauce.

Wednesday we had linguini with clam sauce, garlic bread, and spinach. This is one of my favorite meals – I just love the combination of pasta and seafood. Sometimes I add shrimp or crabmeat. Today I am adding crabmeat to the pasta.

Linguini with Clam Sauce

2-3 tbsp olive oil
4 anchovy filets
1 tsp basil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, diced small
1 ½ cup white wine
2 cans clam in juice – not drained
1 cup crab meat
Salt and pepper
1 pound linguini cooked according to package directions
1 scoop pasta water
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
3 cups chopped fresh spinach

Bring pasta water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Lower heat to medium and sauté anchovy filets until they melt into oil. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and basil. Heat for 2 – 3 minutes. Don’t burn garlic. Deglaze pan with white wine; bring to boil and reduce heat. Cook down by 1/3. Add clams and crab with juice. Warm through. Add one scoop pasta water, cooked pasta, parsley, and spinach. Cover and allow steam to cook spinach. Stir to combine and serve with garlic bread and salad or vegetable for a great dinner!

Thursday will be leftover day. Since the boys have football practice at 6:00, it is hard to have a hot meal ready before 8:15 or so. I have tried since school started to have enough food in the house to have a meal of leftovers.

I don’t know about Friday yet as I don’t know exactly what our plans are.

I am also trying to use ingredients that are already in the house. The ribs, for instance, have been in the freezer for a while – thank goodness for the food saver! The clams, chicken, tuna, and ingredients for the bread are always on hand.

Enjoy the recipes! I am going to try this again next week! See ya!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Family Recipes and Homemade Bread

Again, I don’t have a specific recipe for this month’s Family Recipes. I do however have another story about food and family. Family Recipes is an event that is hosted this month by HoneyB over at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch.

As a child, we would go to Toledo almost every Sunday for dinner with my dad’s parents. Grandma was the best cook. I have no idea how she would do it, but she could walk around her kitchen one time – it seemed – and have dinner ready on the table. I walk around the kitchen one time, and I still don’t know what to make for dinner. Anyway, I used to love to watch and help her cook. This month I decided to make homemade bread. I love to make bread as it reminds me of happy times with my family. It also gives me new memories with my boys - they love butter bread.

One of my fondest memories of my childhood was the homemade bread Grandma used to make. It was always warm, fluffy, yeasty, and just the most wonderful tasting bread I ever ate. She always made it for us.

When I was about 13, I tried to recreate the bread that my grandma used to make. I also tried to do all on my own. I kicked my family out of the kitchen for the day and sat down with the Betty Furness cookbook that my mom had on top of the fridge. I do have to add that this cookbook was not written for beginners, so that is my excuse for the story that follows. Had the cookbook had more specific instructions, my bread would have turned out great. I just ordered the cookbook from Amazon – I will have to update on the recipe when I get it. it is supposed to ship within the next day or so.

Back to the story. I gathered my ingredients and started cooking. The recipe called for lukewarm milk. Not knowing what lukewarm really was, I went and asked my dad – wrong choice. He said that the milk would be fine if I just let it set out for about 15 minutes. Yeast doesn’t really rise very well in cold milk.

The recipe called for, I think, 12 cups of flour. I was making bread for an army. I ran out and asked my parents to get me some more flour. They quickly figured out what I was doing, walked into the kitchen, and totally wigged out. The kitchen was a disaster area. There was flour and wet bread dough everywhere. I even managed to get some on the ceiling. Needless to say my mom wasn’t too terribly impressed with me.

We got more flour and tried to fix the recipe, to no avail. Mom decided to put the dough in a paper bag and set it beside the garbage after she learned about the cold milk. Hours – and I mean about 3-4, the bread rose – really! I screamed for my mom and showed her the risen dough. I was so excited. The dough rose!

Mom decided to try and make the bread. Rescuing it from the near garbage, she kneaded and kneaded working her cooking magic on the bread. It didn’t rise too much the second time, but we baked anyway. We ended up with three small loaves of very tasty, very, very heavy bread. It was suggested that the army might want in on my secret so they could use the bread as bombs. Did I say that it was heavy? Dense too. I have never had bread so dense since – it really was good, and it stayed with you for quite a while.

While I don’t have a ton of recipes that my mom used to make, I do vividly remember the bread incident. To this day, the smell of freshly made bread reminds me not only of my grandma baking away in her house, but also of my mom trying to rescue a 13-year-old’s bread mishap.

Ok, here is the recipe - and I was right, pretty close - it calls for 13 cups.

White Bread - Straight dough method From the Betty Furness Cookbook

Tin or aluminium bread pans......Preheat oven to 375 F.

2 cakes quick-acting yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
5 tbsp sugar
4 cups lukewarm milk
5 tsp salt
About 13 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
5 tsp shortening

Place lukewarm milk in bowl in which you expect to mix dough. To the milk, add the remaining sugar and salt. Add dissolved yeast to milk mixture. Next, add all but 1 cup of the flour and the shortening. Start mixing with a spoon, but as the four and liquid become blended, you will need to finish the mixing with your hand Add remaining cup of flour, but only if needed. Bread dough that is too stiff never makes quite such good bread.

When all ingredients have been mixed, and the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl, turn dough out on lightly floured board.

Knead until dough becomes elastic and does not stick to board. Place in greased bowl, cover, allow to rise until double in bulk, then punch down. Allow to rise a second time until double in bulk. Remove dough from bowl, punch down and cut into four equalized loaves. Recipe makes approximately 4 1 1/2 lb. loaves. Shape and allow to stand 20 minutes. Then flatten out each loaf and again reshape.

Place in greased pans. Allow to rise until double in bulk, or until imprint does not disappear when pressed with a finger. Just before placing in oven, sprinkle a little cold water over raised dough. Bake. Remove from pans as soon as baked. Cool on wire cake rack.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pesto for the Winter

I went to the local farmer’s market the other day before football practice and bought all the basil I could find. My friend’s mother gave me more basil and away I went. I made three big batches of pesto for this winter – I spent a total of 3.00 on pesto. Buying basil in the winter almost bankrupts me, but since my oldest loves pesto, I always buy it. Now, with my stash in the freezer, I am ready!

I made the pesto and put it in a zip lock bag. I then used the Foodsaver to vacuum seal it. It should stay fresh for a while. Here is the recipe I used.

Pesto Sauce from Food Network

5 big handfuls basil leaves (about 2 hefty bunches)
1/2 cup pine nuts or 3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Kosher salt
About 20 grinds freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients with 1/2 cup of the oil in a blender and blend. Gradually drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of oil until pesto is thick and smooth.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Sunday, September 13, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends gave me a recipe for “Melt in Your Mouth Meatloaf.” I finally got a chance to try it. It is very easy to prepare, and I love any recipe that utilizes my crock pot.

Here is the recipe from Allrecipes.com

Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 5 Hrs 15 Min
Ready In: 5 Hrs 30 Min
Yields: 6 servings

2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. allegro marinade (or to taste) I used liquid smoke - a suggestion from my friend. It worked out really well.

1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well (mixture will be moist.) Shape into a round loaf; place in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, marinade or liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon over the meat loaf. Cook 15 minutes longer or until heated through. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Ok, so I served the meatloaf to the boys, and man, did they eat. They loved it!!! Like my friend’s daughter, they cleaned their plate. My little one said that I need to make the meatloaf for dinner tomorrow. Little did the little guy know, that was the plan – I made a double batch!

I also made roasted potatoes with garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil and fresh green beans.

I loved the flavors – it had an Italian twist; I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Sage is also a favorite seasoning of mine; I could taste a hint of it in the meatloaf – now I have another use for it besides the holidays!! Anyway, this is a great main course to serve. If your crock pot cooks quickly like mine does, it might cook a little faster than the recipe says.

School tomorrow! Have a great evening! Talk to you soon.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Zucchini Cookies, er Muffins I mean.

So, I was all ready to make zucchini cookies from a recipe that one of my high school friends sent me. I gathered my ingredients, and started measuring the shortening……as I was measuring I noticed that it expired in 2008 – not a good thing. I scrapped that idea and started looking for a recipe for my zucchini that my boys could eat for breakfast. My blog dashboard was pulled up and I noticed that Honey B over at The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch had baked chocolate banana zucchini muffins – I was saved!!! Go over to Honey B’s blog! She has tons of neat recipes and giveaways!!

I started gathering ingredients…..now I was out of cardamom!!! I quick facebooked Honey B and she said that cinnamon should be a good substitute. Great I was saved….until I grabbed my cinnamon and saw that it was empty. No worries, I had another jar in the pantry.

Hubby walked in and I told him what I was making – he thought the combination of bananas, chocolate, and zucchini didn’t sound good; until he tried them. They were great! The boys ate two each and we have breakfast for a few days. Since they are so moist they should last – I am keeping them in an airtight container to ensure their freshness. What follows is Honey B’s adaptation from the original at Allrecipes.

Chocolate Banana Zucchini Muffins

3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 mashed bananas
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or line two 12 cup muffin tins.In a large bowl beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar, oil and banana. Add the cocoa, vanilla, zucchini and stir well.

Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Mix until just moist. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins filling 2/3 of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool.

Back again soon with more recipes! I have meat thawing for meatloaf and a chicken dish. See ya soon!!

Paul Mineo's and Friends

I went, with my friends the other night, to a restaurant owned by Paul Mineo. When I was in college, I used to work for him at a restaurant named Willoughby’s. I gained about seven pounds working there – I loved the food. I was so excited to hear at the end of the school year last year that he had opened another restaurant in Westport Plaza. My in-laws dine there quite often and had recommended it to Hubby and me. I didn’t get up there in time to see Paul, though. He passed away from cancer during the summer. Going to his restaurant was bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I was so impressed by what he and his wife created – it was so grown up, elegant and wonderful, on the other hand, I was saddened by the loss of someone I had really respected and disappointed that I didn’t get to tell him how nice I thought his restaurant was.

Every few months, my friends and I go out to eat at a restaurant that one of us picks out. We started doing this a couple of years ago, and it has become an evening that I look forward to each time. We all get along very well - it is just so nice to be able to have friends who accept you for who you are no matter what.

Paul Mineo’s Trattoria is an Italian restaurant that serves Southern Sicilian Cuisine. While it is more formal than Willoughby’s was, there is still an air of casualness about the place. It is comfortable yet elegant. We had, I think, the best time at Paul Mineo’s. It was by far the best food and service of all the restaurants we have gone to as a group. In my opinion, the only restaurant that comes close is Sidney Street Café.

For starters we all tried an appetizer, I ordered the lobster ravioli; and my friends ordered calamari fritti; eggplant parmigiano; and Carciofini Alla Lea, which is artichoke hearts prosciutto and cream cheese – yum! We sampled each other’s apps and they were all very good. I have to say that I was surprised by the eggplant. I have never been a huge fan, but the eggplant was very good – I am going to have to make some. The calamari was perfectly cooked, and the marinara was a perfect compliment, not too spicy, not too bland. Heather thought the lobster ravioli was the best – she loved the cream sauce with the sherry and saffron. We also each had a salad and then it was on to the main course!

My friends ordered Bucatini Ala Arabiata, a spicy tomato sauce with capers and mushrooms; Linguini Mare Monti, seafood pasta with mushrooms in a garlic butter white wine sauce; and Chicken Spiendini. I have since talked to one of my dinner companions, and she did the same thing I did – she took her leftovers to school, just like I did. I usually give my leftovers to my husband – not this time! The seafood pasta had lots of meat and the sauce was light and flavorful, allowing the seafood to be the star, the mushrooms added a freshness that always adds to a dish. The only down side to the entrees would have to be the bucatini – it was a bit spicy for my friend. She really liked the flavor, but for her it was too much heat. While I didn’t get to try everybody’s dish, they all looked great.

Dessert was a complete surprise – we were treated to a sampling of three of Paul Mineo’s desserts; cheesecake, a cannoli, and tiramisu. Since I am a big fan of cheesecake, that was the best for me. The tiramisu and the cannoli were also very good, but I just can’t pass up cheesecake.

Christoff, our waiter, was fabulous – he is in our picture. The service was probably the highlight of our meal. We really enjoy a waiter who tries to make our dining experience something special. He paid attention to us, without suffocating us, and just did what he could to ensure that our dinner an event. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants a special night out without totally breaking the bank. They also cater almost any event one might want; from wine events to wedding receptions, they can make any event a total celebration.