Wednesday, May 31, 2017

We're Jammin'

I have to say that this is my new favorite condiment. I first had it on a burger in New Haven after I went to see a play with my friends. I wasn't sure what to expect but was too hungry to care. I order sliders with this onion jam and some other stuff on them and I was blown away by how great it tasted. So, I decided to try and make it myself. I think I have come up with a pretty good interpretation. My favorite way to have this is on a burger with bacon and blue cheese. It is freaking delicious. So get ready to jam out with this stuff! You won't be sorry.

Sweet Onion Jam

2 sweet onions, sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
2 Tbs bacon grease
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 C brown sugar
1/3 cup white wine (dry)
1/4 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 Cup red wine vinegar

Saute onions in bacon grease over low heat until soft and golden
Add salt, pepper and herb and continue to saute until herbs soften
Add remaining ingredients and simmer low until liquid has evaporated and mixture becomes thick and sticky. Be careful not to burn it - keep stirring, especially towards the end.
Remove bay leaves.
Let cool and store in clean jar in refrigerator.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Holiday Things

This weekend was Memorial Day so we had our annual get-together. With the sketchy weather turn out was disappointing. It will probably be the last time we do something like this since we have so much food leftover it seems like a waste of our time and money. Don't get me wrong, we had fun but it's a lot of work hosting a party. Next time we will go to somebody else's party, lol. For this party I concocted a sweet and sour crab dip that I developed based on how I like to eat crab rangoon at those Chinese buffets. I like them with sweet and sour sauce. At first people were scared of it because it looked strange but once they tried it they were gobbling it up. I served it with wheat thins but fried wontons would be good or just use it to make actual crab rangoons.

Sweet and Sour Seafood Dip
1 can crab meat
1 can tiny shrimp
1 block cream cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs sugar
3-4 green onions, chopped fine
1 bottle prepared sweet and sour sauce (I used LaChoy brand)

Place all the ingredients except the sweet and sour sauce in a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat together until combined. Place in a bowl or if your feeling fancy mold it into a shape on a plate. Pour sweet and sour sauce over the mixture and serve with crackers.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Stuff It!

My husbands' granddaughter had her first birthday last week. As usual, I was asked to make something. Stuffed mushrooms were requested. I was then told that if I made my crab stuffed mushrooms I would have to make another variety because someone had an allergy. yeah, guess what I am NOT making! I said I would make my pizza stuffed mushrooms and originally decided I would make the traditional pepperoni and a supreme version (pepperoni, sausage, peppers and onions). Well, when it cam time to make them I decided the pepperoni ones were enough and they were a hell of a lot easier to make than the supreme version. That left me with the leftover ingredients to deal with. I made stuffed peppers for dinner out of it. The husband whined about how he didn't like stuffed peppers. He has no idea how close he came to getting shanked with a fork. When all was said and done he said they were the best stuffed peppers he had ever had. Go figure! This stuffing would seriously taste good in anything. Stuff it into mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, you name it. He actually put some of the leftover stuffing in an omelet the next morning and it was pretty killer. So, go crazy with it.

Erika's Stuffing for Anything
1 pound bulk Italian Sausage
5-6 cloves garlic, crushed (we like garlic and go heavy with it)
1 small onion, diced
1 zucchini, grated
1 small can tomato sauce
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
salt, to taste

Brown sausage with the onions and garlic until cooked through. Add zucchini and pepperoni and continue to saute until zucchini is soft. Add remaining ingredients and stir until everything is evenly distributed and mixed together. Stuff filling inside of anything!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Friday Wine Day

So, lately I find myself in the habit of cooking with wine on Fridays. This allows me to justifiably imbibe because we can't let the wine go bad now that the bottle is open! HA! Works for me. Anyway, last Friday was a particularly gloomy and raw day so I thought it would be the perfect time to make this Braised Oxtail Ragu recipe that I saw on The Cozy Apron [HERE]. I had a bunch of oxtails (or maybe they were shank slices?? whatever they were they were just fine in this recipe) from the hind quarter we bought and that recipe looked like a darned good way to use them. I followed the recipe as written and it was super good over polenta and over egg noodles. So warm and hearty and comforting. This one will definitely be made again!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cold Weather Win

So, yesterday was Blizzard Day. That's right a foot of snow followed by sleet and freezing rain. Everything outside is coated in ice. As a full time work-at-home employee, snow days no longer mean anything to me. It is business as usual here. BUT, in preparation for the event, I decided to try one of the recipes in the new pressure cooker cookbook that my mother gave to me. I was a tad reluctant to try it because it used soda. I always figured the end result would be overly sweet. But I decided what the hell, lets give it a shot. I had all the ingredients I needed in the house and, really, how bad could it be? I have to say this was by far one of the best hunks of meat I have ever cooked. I could not believe how good it was....and not sweet at all! I urge you to try it. Me, I think I am going to explore this cooking with soda idea a little more!

Cola Beef Roast with Sweet Onion Au Jus (adapted from Miss Vickie's Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes)

4 Tbs Butter
2 sweet onions sliced
1 boneless beef roast (I used a spoon roast)
1 can cola (not diet)
1/4 Cup soy sauce
1 and 1/2 packets dry onion soup/dip mix
1 Tbs garlic powder

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker and add sliced onion. Saute a bit until onions begin to soften.
Add roast and remaining ingredients.
Cook in pressure cooker for 1 hour (my cooker is very basic and has no adjustments for pressure or temperature, only a timer)
Allow to decompress naturally. When pressure drops open lid a serve with pot juices. You can thicken juices to a gravy if desired.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

All for Me

The hubs underwent back surgery on Monday to replace some bulging discs that were causing nerve pain. He has been in the hospital all week and hopefully will come home tomorrow. I have been spending my days at the hospital keeping him company while trying to get a little work done on my laptop. Nights are spent at home. There is no way in hell I am staying there all night getting no sleep. Because I am by myself I get to cook spicy food, which is nice. Last night I adapted a recipe for stuffed poblanos that I found HERE on finecooking.com. True to form, I adapted the recipe to suit my needs and tastes The end product was quite tasty and wasn't nearly as spicy as I thought it would be. My husband might have even been able to handle it!

Chicken Stuffed Poblanos

2 large poblano chiles 
1/2 container of cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 can Rotel
1/2 medium white onion, chopped 
2 large cloves garlic, chopped  
1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled 
2 tsp. ground cumin  
Generous pinch ground cinnamon 
Kosher salt  
1 Tbs. olive oil 
2 cups shredded cooked chicken  
1-1/2 cups cooked brown or white rice (I used cooked Farro) 
1 cup corn kernels
2 cups grated Cheddar
2 Cups salsa verde
1/4 Cup half and half

Roast and peel poblano peppers. Make a slit down the side and remove seeds and core. Leave stem intact
Purée the tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a food processor. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the purée and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture looks thick and pulpy, 8 to 11 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the chicken, rotel, corn and rice, and then 1 cup of the cheese. Season to taste with salt. Divide the filling among the peppers, wrapping the sides of the peppers up and around the filling, some of which will still be exposed.
Combine salsa verde and half and half and pour onto the bottom of a baking dish. Add peppers and top them with additional cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is hot. Spoon pan sauce over peppers before serving

Friday, February 24, 2017

Talking Turkey

Lent is just around the corner, and while I have never been a practicing Catholic, I figured it is as good a time as any to try and make some lifestyle changes. HA! How many times have I said that on this blog! LOL! Seriously though, the last doctor appointment I had I was shocked to see the number on the scale. I knew I had been gaining weight but never dreamed that it was that much. Something has to change because I am not happy about my weight and the affect it could have on my health. I was thinking of doing the Atkins route for Lent since that worked for me in the past but I know that once you introduce carbs back in it's really hard to maintain the weight loss. Then I thought about 21-Day fix since that offers a wider array of food choices. The only think I don't like is that you are not supposed to have cream in your coffee. I like cream in my coffee and, even though it is a small thing, it is one of the few things that I don't want to give up. It is part of my morning ritual and I enjoy it. If it makes me happy, I am keeping it. So, what I figured I would do is try to meld the two. I will use 21-day fix to guide my portion sizes and allotments and try to trim carbs wherever possible and opt for whole grains over any white carbs. I am gradually easing into this program and trying new things. This week I tried cottage cheese for the first time. It wasn't horrible but I found it to be surprisingly salty. I wasn't expecting that and have to admit it wasn't my favorite. I think I will be sticking to plain Greek yogurt to go with my frozen berries. I also made this turkey meatloaf last night. Again, it is not completely healthy because I used stove top stuffing in it but it is far healthier than the beef meatloaf I usually make. When I told the Hubs I was making turkey meatloaf he made his usual "face". (EAT IT OR DIE!) When I said I was making Farro to go with it you would have thought I ripped one of his toenails out. However, once he tried it he changed his tune and really enjoyed it.

Erika's Turkey Meatloaf

1.3 pounds ground turkey
1 Tbs butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 medium cremini (small portobellos) mushrooms, chopped fine
1 box stove top stuffing mix (chicken)
2 eggs
1/2 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 C ketchup
1 Tbs dijon mustard
pinch of salt/pepper

Preheat oven to 350F

In a frying pan, saute mushrooms, onions and garlic in the butter until mushrooms are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Let cool
When mushroom mixture has cooled, place in a large mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients. Mix until thoroughly combined

Place meat mixture in a roasting pan and shape into a log. OPTIONAL - coat outside of loaf with a thin layer of ketchup. Bake for 1 hour. Let stand before serving

Farro with Roasted Vegetables 

1 cup cooked Farro
3 plum tomatoes, sliced thick
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium zucchini, cubed
2 Tbs + olive oil (i used a lemon infused olive oil)
Splash (2-3 Tbs) balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
1-2 Tbs garlic powder
1-2 Tbs onion powder (granulated)

Preheat over to 425F
Place veggies in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt, onion and garlic powders. Toss with oil and vinegar to coat. Roast for 20 minutes. When veggies are soft, transfer veggies and pan liquids into a bowl with the cooked farro. Toss to combine. OPTIONAL - you could add some grated Parmesan cheese to the bowl if you would like. This is how my hubs likes to eat it.