Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring where art thou?

It was 15 degrees outside this morning. fifteen. fucking. degrees. Seriously WTH!! Last I looked at my calendar it clearly said SPRING! So, why am I still freezing my ass off every morning. OK now that that is out of my system.....for now....I can say that this is the weather the sugar houses have been waiting for. You see, with this endless cold, they are behind schedule too. In order for the sap to flow, sugar maples need freezing nights and thawing days. Fortunately for those tree tappers, we have been eeking out temps of 40 or so during the day so they can now make up for lost time. Then one of my favorite food blogs, Foodie With Family, posted a recipe for Amish Maple sandwich cookies (a.k.a. whoopie pies). That and the bottle of maple whiskey that I bought on my last ski trip, and I had a maple trifecta on my hands. I had been DYING to bake something with that whiskey since I purchased it and so I decided to bring that Amish recipe to the dark side. Let me tell you it was SO worth it! Now the original cookie recipe called for rolling out the dough. When I made mine the dough was very sticky and there was no way I was going to try rolling it out. It would have been a disaster. So, I just dropped in on a foil lined baking sheet and it worked out just fine. He is how I did it:

Maple Whiskey Whoopie Pies (Adapted from Foodie With Family)

For the Cookies:
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon maple whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2¾ cup flour
For the Filling:
  • 1 cup softened butter 
  • 1 cups shortening
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff,
  • 1 teaspoons maple extract
  • 2 teaspoons maple whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350F

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream together shortening, butter and sugar. Slowly add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoon onto a foil lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a wet spoon. Bake approximatly 15 minutes until set. Allow to cool.

While the cookies are baking add the filling ingredients to a mixing bowl of your stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment until smooth.

When cookies are cooled, assemble with the filling.

I had tons of leftover filling so you can always divide it and experiment with other flavorings!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top O' The Morning To Ya!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day Everyone!
Hope you all have donned your green and have your traditional Irish meal planned. I, myself, have a lovely corned beef cooking away in the crock pot as we speak. When I get home from work I will roast up some potatoes, carrots and cabbage to go with it and dinner will be complete. I never really got into the whole boil everything to death part of corned beef and cabbage. Soft slimy cabbage and mushy carrots and potatoes are just so bleh when compared to the taste of roasted, or even sauteed veggies. But, to each his own. Today I am not giving you a recipe for corned beef and cabbage, there are plenty out there already. What I am going to do is sing praises for the newest addition to the sorely lacking culinary scene in my town. This past winter a new Irish pub, The Inishmor, opened in town and Hubs and I decided to try it Friday night in honor of St Patrick's Day weekend. This is the third or fourth bar/restaurant to occupy this space since we moved into town and actually the first time I ever walked into the place. I had checked out the previous occupants online and, well, their offerings did not tempt me in the least. Just the same ol', same ol'. When I check out the the Inishmor I saw offerings I had never seen before - Curry Fries!? And the Beer list! OMG! Finally some variety! I was ecstatic!  So we beat feet over there Friday night and had, without a doubt, the BEST Irish meal I have ever had. I had the special of Irish bangers and colcannon mashed potatoes. The sausage was very mild and served with a rich onion gravy that I swear was made with beer (but can't be certain). The potatoes were LOADED with spring vegetables, not just cabbage but kale and fresh peas, too. I thinks there may have been more greens than potatoes, which was a lovely change from what the other Irish themed places in the area serve. I washed it down with a couple of Mackenzie's Black Cherry Ciders - Double YUM!
Hubs had the chili cheese burger special which was made with an unusual, but tasty, sweet chili. It had a mild kick he said but I only tried a bite so I can't confirm. For the record we tease him unmercifully about his tender palate and say ketchup is his hot sauce so I doubt it had that much of a kick, lol. But when he sliced that burger in half I have to say it was cooked PERFECTLY! A nice pink medium, just like he asked. It was one damn good looking burger. I will be trying one on my next visit....I think! That depends on what the specials are! LOL!

Bottom line is that I am THRILLED that we finally have another quality dining option in town and I hope that they do well and stick around for a long time. If you are ever in this neck of the woods I highly recommend a visit! http://www.inishmorpub.com/


Monday, March 2, 2015

Chopped at Home Challenge - Entry #1

man, I wish they would let you enter more than 1 recipe for this contest. I have so many directions I could go! But, for this entry period this is what I went with. You had to include chicken breast, red peppers, greek yogurt and Sargento 6 Cheese Italian blend in you rrecipe. In hindsight I am thinking that I should have used honey yogurt in my recipe instead of plain. It would have tasted great and been more creative than the plain stuff. Oh well. No turning back now.

Cheesey Chicken Canneloni in Creamy Red Pepper Sauce


Canneloni Filling:
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, poached and shredded
1 small container ricotta cheese
1 Cup Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend cheese
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt

10 fresh pasta sheets (can substitute egg roll wrappers)

Sauce:
2 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1-5.3 oz container plain Greek yogurt
2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled
2-3 oz milk or cream (about half the yogurt container)
1 tsp salt

Additional 1 Cup Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend cheese

Mix canneloni filling ingredients together
Place 2-3 Tbs of the filling on edge of pasta sheet and roll to make canneloni
Meanwhile in a medium sauce pan, simmer garlic in oil over low heat until fragrant. Add yogurt, milk and red pepper and blend with an immersion blender (or transfer to a traditional blender) and blend until smooth. Bring to a low simmer. Once simmering remove from heat and place enough in a baking dish to coat the bottom. Add canneloni to the dish and cover with remaining sauce. Top with 1 cup Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend Cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. remove foil and bake 10 minutes more.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Impressing Myself

I have always had a fear of cooking Asian. It starts with knowing darn well that I will never get my pan as hot as it needs to be to get that classic stir fry taste. That, coupled with the long list of "non-standard" ingredients that end up costing a small fortune, (especially if you don't use them often), has always minimized my desire to recreate the cuisine at home despite my love of it. Well, the other day I found myself staring at the most gorgeous steaks in the meat case that I simply had to buy. They were labeled Kansas City Sirloin Strip (or something like that). I have no idea what the hell that is but the marbling of this meat reminded me of USDA prime! Because they were so thin I didn't want to put them on the grill. Instead, since I also had 3 pounds of red bell peppers, I decided this meat was destined for pepper steak. Oh yeah! I did some research, tweaked a few recipes and truly impressed myself with what I put together. I will admit that because I had to work late, I didn't cook this exactly as written, which is the best way. I just kind of threw it all together and hoped for the best. I was hungry, it was late, and I was in no mood for fussing! So sue me.

Chinese Take Out Style Pepper Steak

2 lbs beef steak - whatever cut you have that isn't too lean, sliced thin and across the grain
1/2 Tbs sesame oil
2Tbs Vegetable oil
3 Bell peppers rough chopped
1 large sweet onion, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
1/4 C Mirin

Marinade
1/3 C soy sauce
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1/2 C beef broth
1 Tbs cornstarch
few shakes black pepper

Combine marinade ingredients and mix well. Add beef and set aside to soak for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour

While beef is marinading, prep veggies

Heat vegetable and sesame oils in wok or sloped pan until hot. Add beef and quickly stir fry to brown. The beef does not need to be cooked through. Once browned, remove beef from pan and set aside.

Deglaze pan with Mirin and let cook down.

Add peppers, onions, garlic and ginger to pan and saute. When about half way cooked return beef to pan and continue to cook until veggies and beef are done. If more sauce is desired, add marinade to pan and cook until thickened.

Serve with rice.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Loving Those Leftovers

Husband still isn't feeling great. He feels a LOT better but has this god awful cough that keeps him (and me) up at night. He sounds terrible. Poor guy. To combat the cough he has been limiting his dairy intake. This is no easy task for him as he is a bonafide milk junkie. He finally broke down this week and started drinking it again. Since he was doing the dairy thing anyway, I decided to let him have some of the leftover port roast that I had transformed into Beef Stroganoff. He looked at it funny at first but as soon as he had a bite he was hooked. Even I will admit the stuff came out super good. But I had a great start with that delicious pot roast. Here is what I did:

Beef Stroganoff

1Tbs oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 small container mushrooms. (traditionally white mushrooms are used but I prefer Cremini, i.e. baby portobellas, they just have a richer flavor to me)
Leftover pot roast and reserved liquid
1/2 C beef broth + 1Tbs cornstarch, mixed
Sour cream
Cooked egg noodles

Heat oil in a large saute pan.
When hot add onions and mushrooms and saute over medium heat until softened
While veggies are cooking, separate out fatty pieces from the pot roast and shred the meat. You don't have to go too crazy, some large pieces are just fine
Add beef and pot roast liquid to the pan and let simmer until heated through. If needed, add additional beef broth. The mixture should be on the soupy side.
Add beef broth-cornstarch mixture a little at a time and stir until slightly thickened.
Remove from heat

Serve beef and veggies over egg noodles and top with a generous dollop of sour cream. Stir everything to combine before eating. YUM!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter Comforts

So, I have been craving pot roast for the last few days. I mean REALLY, REALLY craving it. But, since I just defrosted the freezers, I knew I didn't have any crock pot worthy cuts of beef on hand. Sorry, but prime rib will never see the inside of a slow cooker at my house. Anyway, the past few days hubs has been feeling terrible so I stopped at our local market for some meds and OJ for him. I know I have mentioned the fabulous meat department at my local market before. I tried to avoid it but I had to go look. There it was, the perfect chuck roast. It literally called out to me, beckoning me to bring it home so it could satisfy my cravings and bring me utter joy and happiness. I HAD to have it. I bought, prepared it and I have to say that it was one of my best roasts EVER! I am sure the decent wine I cooked it in was key. Here is the drill:

Pot Roast in the Slow Cooker

3lb chuck roast - not too fatty and not too lean
kosher salt
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1-2 Cups Cabernet - something drinkable (I used 14 hands)
1-2 tsp thyme
1-2 tsp rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 juniper berries

2 cups beef broth

Place oil in a large frying pan and heat until shimmery
While oil is heating, generously salt the roast on all sides
Once oil is hot place roast in pan and get a nice sear on all sides - even the edges. Be patient and let the meat brown.
Once meat is seared, remove from pan and transfer meat to the slow cooker
Deglaze with the wine scraping up and browned bits.
Add thyme, rosemary and bay leaves
Pour wine from pan over the roast in the slow cooker
Add beef broth to cover
Add juniper berries
Cook on low for 8 hours

Before serving skim fat from liquid and use the liquid for a delicious au jus!

Leftovers make great french dip sandwiches!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Feasting

Antipasto


Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

1 large container white button mushrooms
1 carrot, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 Tbs Butter
seasoned salt (to taste)
1/2 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 cup crab meat
2 cups bread crumbs (I mixed plain and Italian seasoned)
2 eggs
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 Parmesan cheese
4 Tbs Melted butter
Thinly sliced mozzarella

Rinse mushrooms, and remove stems. Slice off the bottom of each stem and finely chop the remainder. Set caps aside.
Place chopped stems, carrot, garlic, green onion, Italian seasoning and 2 Tbs butter in a pan and saute over medium heat until softened. salt to taste
In a separate large mixing bowl, place crab meat, bread crumbs, eggs, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Add saute mixture and stir until everything is combined and moist.
Place a large ball of stuffing mixture in each mushroom cap and arrange on the bottom of roasting pan. You may have stuffing left over - It's great in filet of sole. Once all the caps are filled, top with a slice of mozzarella and drizzle melted butter over them. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Serve warm.

Almond Joy Bars (Keeping this recipe a secret for now)

Death By Chocolate Ice Box Cake (Click Here for Recipe!)

Customized my KitchenAid (Way cool!!!)

Met Jeff Beukeboom! (EEEE!)