Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fowl Weather

So yeah, we haven't seen the sun here in days. It's been damp and cold and just generally sucky. BUT That didn't stop me from making my latest creation - it came out fantabulous! Husband is STILL praising it. It was (drum roll, please). Italian Chicken Lasagna with Creamy Pesto Sauce. Woo Hoo, it was so good. It was inspired by my need to use up the cheeses and other whatnot that I brought home on my last NYC trip. This consisted of ricotta, marscapone, Proscuitto de san daniele, pana gradano, pesto, and marinated sun dried tomatoes. Here is how it went down:

First, I poached 2 chicken breast in water (reserve that poaching liquid!). When they were cooled, I gave them a rough chop into bite sized pieces. The chicken got mixed with chopped, fresh spinach and chopped, marinated sun dried tomatoes. To put it over the top I chopped up some Proscuitto de san Daniele and mixed that in there too! Yeah baby!

For the cheese layer I mixed some high quality ricotta, marscapone and pana grandano along with some Italian seasoning.

Then the sauce, first I melted about a half stick of butter and added 3 cloves of sliced garlic and let them meld together over low heat. To that I added some flour to make a roux and let that cook a bit to get rid of the raw flour taste. Then, I added my container of quality pesto sauce, some milk and some half and half (because the milk was 1%) and raised the heat to thicken it all up.

To assemble it all, I spooned some sauce on the bottom of the pan and topped it with a fresh lasagna sheet. Then, I spread a good thick layer of the ricotta mixture on that, which I topped with some shredded Mozzarella. Then came another pasta sheet followed by the meat mixture. That also got covered with some of the sauce and some shredded Mozzarella. Finally, the last pasta sheet went on with some more sauce and Mozzarella and pana grandano. I baked the whole thing at 350F for about an hour and let it sit a good 15 minutes before serving. It was absolutely delicious and the leftovers were even better!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Things to Try this Fall

So rather than post all the turkey recipes I have used this week (It takes a long time for 2 people to eat a Turkey, lol). I have decided to post a few recipes that I saw online and want to try (and won't pin to pinterest properly, lol) It's pretty obvious that I didn't take the pictures, lol. They look delicious and share worthy so I hope you try them as well if they appeal to you too!

Cast Iron Blistered Brussel Sprouts

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon hot water1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper $1/2 cup torn fresh mint leaves

Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Trim Brussels sprouts, and cut in half lengthwise. Add canola oil to skillet, and tilt skillet to evenly coat bottom. Place Brussels sprouts, cut side down, in a single layer in skillet. Cook, without stirring, 4 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle with kosher salt; stir and cook 2 more minutes. Stir together honey and hot water. Stir minced garlic, soy sauce, dried crushed red pepper, and honey mixture into Brussels sprouts. Stir in mint leaves, and serve immediately.

Charred Peppers with Feta Dipping Sauce 

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 green onion, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste 1 (8-oz.) package assorted mini sweet peppers
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Whisk together feta cheese, yogurt, minced green onion, mint, 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use. Toss mini sweet peppers with 1 Tbsp. oil; sprinkle with desired amount of salt. Cook peppers in hot skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, 8 minutes or until charred and slightly wilted. Transfer peppers to a plate; drizzle with 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice. Serve with feta mixture.

Crispy Sweet Potato-Green Onion Cakes 

4 medium-size sweet potatoes (about 2 1/4 lb.)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour
2 red jalapeƱo peppers, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided
1/4 cup canola oil
Lime wedges

1. Pierce 1 sweet potato several times with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate; cover with damp paper towels. Microwave at HIGH 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel potato, and place in a medium bowl; mash with a fork. Peel remaining sweet potatoes, and grate, using the large holes of a box grater. Stir grated potatoes into mashed potato. Gently stir in eggs, next 3 ingredients, and 1/4 cup green onions just until combined.

2. Pour oil into a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, and heat over medium heat to 350°. Carefully drop mixture by tablespoonfuls, in batches, into hot oil, pressing lightly to flatten. Cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Place drained sweet potato cakes on a wire rack over an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Keep warm in a 200° oven up to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup green onions just before serving. Serve with lime wedges.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dining Out!

Hubs and I like to have "date night" on Friday evenings. It's really fun for us since we are so busy during the week sometimes it feels like we don't really see each other. We try to pick a different restaurant each week depending on what we are in the mood for and how far we feel like traveling. There aren't a lot of choices in our little home town so we try to branch out if we aren't completely exhausted. A few weeks ago we went to an old favorite, Angellino's in Mansfield. I love this place and was surprised it wasn't busier on a Friday night considering the quality of the food and the generous portions. I guess people are happy going to Crapplebee's down the street - whatever! I had Angellino's Milanese with broccoli over angel hair. So delicious. I get this dish every time because it is so good. It took me a couple of days to eat it all but nothing went to waste. So good!
Angellino's Milanese with Broccoli

the next new place I tried was a breakfast joint in Waterford called When Pig's Fly Cafe. It was a haul from my house but I planned on doing some shopping in that area so it was a good way to start the day. What drew me to the place was that they make their own corned beef hash. I love a good corned beef hash but that stuff in a can is DOGFOOD in my opinion. So gross. I am always so disappointed when I see it on breakfast menus and find out that it is canned. I ordered the Irish Omelet which was eggs, corned beef hash and Swiss cheese and a side of homefries.  It came with toast and I ordered Rye. I have to say I really liked this little cafe. The omelet was fantastic and there were some cinnamon scones on the counter that looked REALLY good! I also like that the coffee was self serve. No waiting for the waitress or having them continuously interrupting you for a "warm up".
Irish Omelet, Homefries and Rye Toast

Monday, October 6, 2014

Leftover Takeover

So,  the last weekend of September we decided to have a cookout and invite over our friends. It was a gorgeous day and there were tons of things going on all over the state. When that happens, you can never really accurately gauge how many people will actually show up. We always plan for 100% turn out and that never happens but we feel better when we are prepared and know there will be plenty of food for everyone. In this instance, we were completely overwhelmed with leftovers. Thankfully, some we could freeze and we got people to bring a good chunk of what we couldn't home with them; but we were still left with lots of chicken and shrimp. So I said, I will use up all those leftovers by making a BIG pot of jambalaya. I knew I had a ham steak in the freezer and I could pick up killer andouille sausage and all of the veggies I needed at the farm. BAM! Problem solved, leftovers consumed. Well, let me tell you, once it was all made, I had MORE leftovers than I started with! LOL! I probably had 8 pounds of the stuff! I had my parents come and help me eat some, I ate it for a few days (Hubs thought it was too spicy - the big sissy), thankfully I was hitting the Flea Markets with my bestie and her son eats like a horse so I probably sent a good 5 pounds of it home with her. I am now, thankfully, down to 1 container full! YAY! So, despite the short takeover, nearly all of the BBQ leftovers have been used and have not gone to waste!

Jamming Jambalaya (adapted from Emeril's recipe)

1 bag medium sized cocktail shrimp, thawed
4 chicken breast halves, diced
1 large ham steak, diced
1-2 tablespoon Creole seasoning, I use Tony Charchere's
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chopped onion
2 chopped green bell pepper
4 -5 stalks chopped celery
5 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped tomato
1/2 C white wine
1 can diced tomato with juice
3 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
4 cup rice
8 cups chicken stock
8 Andouille sausage, sliced
Salt and pepper

In a VERY large saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, 3 minutes.  Add garlic, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire, sausage, chicken, ham and hot sauces. Saute until meats are mostly cooked. Deglaze bottom of pot with wine, let simmer. Add canned tomatoes, chicken stock and rice. Stir. Lower heat to a simmer and place lid. Let cook low until rice is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in shrimp just before serving and let heat through.

Way Too Much Leftover Jambalaya!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Picnic With Willie

This weekend the hubs and I were privileged to see Willie Nelson in concert. WILLIE NELSON WILLIE NELSON! I never get tired of yelling it! LOL! Not only is he just an all around cool guy, but, at 81 years old, the man can still rock the house. I never considered myself to be a huge fan of his but I sure as hell am now. This was hands down one of the BEST concerts I have been to. Everything about it was spectacular, the crowds, the venue and the food. Well, there was one douchebag security guard/cop with a shitty attitude but there ALWAYS seems to be one no matter where you go. The concert was held at a campground in Webster, Mass called Indian Ranch. I don't know why I have never been here before as it is close to home and just a really cool place. The concert area actually has a picnic area with grills and you can bring in coolers and cook up food right there! How cool is that! Many people bring up campers and RVs and catch the show and stay the night - great idea especially if you plan to drink a few cocktails. For a small place they book some really big name acts too. I really can't wait to go back! This was the last weekend for this years concert season so I will have to wait until next year but I can't wait to see what they have lined up. Anyway on to the food! For this concert I packed us a nice picnic lunch that consisted of Pressed sandwiches and tortellini salad and chocolate chip cookies. YUM! I Even remembered to take a picture before I finished my sandwich! LOL!

Pressed Picnic Sandwiches
1 Loaf Ciabatta bread
1/2 Cup pesto sauce
2-3 oz goat cheese
Fresh spinach leaves
3-4 grilled, thin chicken cutlets
2-3 roasted red peppers
1/2 cup sun dried tomato spread (Click Here for recipe)

Cut Ciabatta in half and spread 1 side with pesto and the other side with the sun dried tomato spread, Layer remaining ingredients on one half of the bread and top with remaining half of the bread. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Place a heavy book or other object on the sandwich while refrigerating. The next morning cut into individual sandwiched and enjoy!

Here I am before the show hanging with my new friend, Not Willie Nelson. LOL! I told you the crowd was great!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monster Chicken

This is not only what I call this recipe but also describes the bird the breasts must have come off of when I made it last night! Seriously! One HALF of the breast was enough to feed Hubs and I WITH LEFTOVERS! Crazy what they are doing to these poor birds! Frankenfood at it's finest if you ask me. Honestly, I don't know how I feel about it but we ate it and enjoyed it nonetheless. This recipe came from my Ex-MIL and everybody that tries it loves it. It is super simple to make and comes out juicy and delicious every time so give it a go and feed it to some friends.

Chicken Cutlets with Muenster Cheese (a.k.a.Monster Chicken)

1-2 chicken breasts, thinly filleted - No Joke - fillet them as thin as you can
2-3 eggs lightly beaten
2 Cups seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 Cups Parmesan or Romano cheese
Frying oil (I use peanut)
1/4-1/2 lb deli sliced muenster cheese
1 can chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400F
Heat frying oil in a wide shallow pan to 350F

Place beaten eggs in a wide, shallow bowl
Soak fillets in egg mixture and toss them to coat - you can work in batches if you have a lot of fillets.
In a separate shallow dish, mix bread crumbs and Parmesan/Romano cheese
Remove a fillet from the egg mixture and dredge in breadcrumb mixture to coat evenly and place in hot oil to fry - repeat until pan is full. Turn fillets once to brown on both sides.
Once browned on both sides remove fillets and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Once all of the chicken is cooked, arrange cooked cutlets in a single layer in a baking pan/casserole dish - you need something with a little depth.
Pour chicken broth over the cutlets. You do not want to completely submerge them but want all of them to be sitting in as much broth as possible
Top cutlets with muenster cheese (you can substitute mozzarella) and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and broth is bubbling

Serve Hot! YUM!

I traditionally serve this with angel hair pasta as the broth makes a nice light sauce for the thin pasta. The leftovers make fabulous sandwiches.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Summer Bounty

Man, am I wiped out today. Last night was a late one but it had to happen. There was no way I could, in good conscience, let all those beautiful tomatoes and tomatillos of mine rot on the counter. So, even though it was a school night, I stayed up late for a hot and sweaty canning marathon. While I am quite pleased with myself today, I have to admit for all the work it takes to can veggies, I sure thought I would end up with more! LOL! Canning really isn't all that difficult it is just a tad time consuming and HOT! Even on a cool evening that big pot of boiling water really heats up a room (or 2). But now I have lots of tomato puree, enchilada sauce and salsa verde to get me though the winter without having to use any chemical laden canned stuff. yay me! If my house were bigger I'd invest in a big-ass freezer and forgo the canning process altogether but unless I hit Lotto that won't be happening anytime soon, which means my little deep freezer is reserved for meats only!