Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sweet Potato Corned Beef Hash

Freaking YUM! So easy to make too! I could not wait to get home from work to make this. All day I sat at my computer with visions of sweet potatoes! I took yesterdays leftover corned beef and trimmed off the icky gobs of fat from it and diced it up into nice chunks. Then I peeled and diced up a sweet potato. Raw sweet potatoes are a pain to chop - kind of like butternut squash! I actually tore a callous off in the process. Husband though that was quite funny - "You cook so much you get callouses! Ha ha ha"! Yeah, he's a laugh riot sometimes. SO ANYWAY - I put the diced potato into a saute pan with a couple of table spoons of olive oil and got that cooking while I sliced up a medium sized red onion. I added the onion to the pan along with some chopped garlic and a little salt and pepper and let it saute, giving it a stir every now and then. I didn't want to move it around too much because I wanted to give everything time to crisp up a bit. When the potatoes were almost done I added the corned beef and continued cooking in same fashion. After a few minutes everything was cooked though and nicely browned. I sat down and feasted on the meal that had been on my mind all day. Life is good!

And for your viewing pleasure, a picture of my Daisy doggie because I'll be darned if she isn't just about the cutest thing EVER!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Goodness Gracious do I love the stuff! I don't know why I don't make it more often! Probably because it only goes on sale in March, LOL! Every time St. Patrick 's Day rolls around I start trolling the grocery store flyer's for the best price on flat-cut corned beef brisket. Then off I go and buy at least two of the biggest they have in the case. I have to have leftovers for hash! I always make my corned beef in the crockpot and about half way through I throw carrots and potatoes in. Never the cabbage though. In my opinion cabbage should never be boiled unless you are making soup or stuffed cabbage leaves. I like to chop my cabbage and saute it in a pan with butter, garlic and cracked black pepper. After it has wilted a little bit I add a ladle or two full of the corned beef cooking liquid and let it simmer until the liquid cooks away. It's delicious. The cabbage has that corned beef seasoned taste but still retains a little crunch, not much but it certainly isn't wilted, soggy and sad like it would be if boiled away to nothing in the crockpot. I recently came across a recipe that used cabbage but, instead of buying a whole head of cabbage and chopping it yourself, the recipe used bagged coleslaw mix. GENIUS! Yes, it may be a little less economical but so much quicker and easier, especially for me since I am the only one in my house that eats cabbage. I can cook up a single portion for myself and use the rest later in soups, salads, or whatever. No muss, no fuss. I like that!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dinner for My King!

So yesterday was one of those days where I was inspired to cook. I knew it had to be chicken because we have been eating so much beef lately the mere thought of it had us running away. I knew I had a bunch of good stuff to work with but when I have so many ingredients at my disposal I get a little nervous. It's very easy to have too much of a good thing and sometimes simple really is better. Good thing I have my friend S.S. to bounce ideas off of. If she thought something sounded wack I know damn well she would tell me. My dinner for my king was (drum roll please)......

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes over Pesto Risotto.

For the chicken

I butterflied and pounded two chicken breasts flat. Then in a small bowl I mixed a small roll of herbed goat cheese (I forget the brand but it's a common grocery store variety) with about 6 rough chopped, oil-packed, sun dried tomatoes. I divided the cheese mixture between the two chicken breasts and rolled the breasts up tightly, folding in the tops and bottoms to minimize leakage. Then I wrapped each bundle with 2-3 sheets of thinly sliced prosciutto and secured everything in place with toothpicks. I baked this in a preheated 350 degree oven. I did turn the oven up to 400 for the last 5 minutes of cook time. I cooked it for about a half hour (as long as it too to make the risotto).

For the Risotto

Let me say right off the bat that YES I CHEATED WITH MY RISOTTO! I don't care that it's not "true" risotto. It was freaking delicious.

I heated two cans of chicken broth in a small sauce pan. In a second pan I sauteed 1 cup of arborio rice in butter until the broth was well heated. (I would have added a little white wine but I didn't have any in the house). Once everything was nice and hot I added 1 ladle full of broth to the rice and stirred. I continued to stir and add broth by the ladle full as needed until the rice was just about done. Once the broth was all used up, I felt the rice still need a little more liquid and rather than open another can of broth that I wouldn't use up I added a little half and half instead as well as an ounce or two of cream cheese (cheating, I know). Once the cheese was all melted in I added a handful of grated Parmesan cheese and a generous couple of tablespoons of prepared pesto sauce and mixed it all in. By the time the rice was finished the chicken was too. I served this all with some nondescript green giant boxed veggies and dinner was served. Husband really enjoyed it, especially the rice, which was an accomplishment after my first risotto disaster, LOL!

Monday, November 15, 2010

It ain't me, babe.

No, no, no It ain't me babe. I was not selected to be one of the 25 lucky participants in the Iron Foodie challenge. Sigh. :( I have to admit it does leave me feeling a tad defeated. Granted the competition was stiff but, I can't help but wonder what the selection criteria were. My blog may not be the visually outstanding. I am no computer programming genius and it would be a far stretch to even call myself an amateur but, I do my best to stumble through. My cooking may not be the fanciest or cutting edge but, it's what honest hard working people eat and I pour my heart and soul into creating satisfying dishes that all the picky eaters in my family will enjoy. That is not an easy task, I assure you! I suppose I am just being a bit of a sore loser but still, it's no fun not being allowed to join in the reindeer games. Just ask Rudolph!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Naner Bread

I have used the same banana bread recipe for years and haven't had any complaints with it. Since I got home from work a little early yesterday I tried a new one that I had found online. This recipe had so many great reviews that I had to give it a whirl....soon....while the bananas on my counter were still recognizable as bananas. The recipe seemed pretty standard except for the addition of cream cheese but as I was making it I realized that there were no spices in the bread batter. No cinnamon, no nutmeg, none of the standards. There was cinnamon in the topping but that was it. So, I couldn't help but to add a little cinnamon to the batter, not much but some. All that aside, I have to say this bread was fantastic. The cream cheese definitely added something to the texture of the bread and the streusel topping gave it a nice crunch and almost candied taste. No surprise there though, that's what streusel is supposed to do. My only complaint is that the topping had a tendency to crack and crumble and fall off when slicing the bread. When I make this in the future, and I will make it again, I think I will make it either as mini-loaves or muffins. The texture was certainly soft enough to pass for a muffin. The recipe definitely deserved the accolades it received.

Crispy Cinnamon Streusel Banana Nut Cream Cheese Bread


3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas ( about 4 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.
Beat butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until creamy.
Add sugar, gradually, and beat until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until blended.
Gradually add flour and next three ingredients to butter mixture, beating at low until just blended.
Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla.
Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8x4 loaf pans.
Batter will be thick.
For streusel: Stir together 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon.
Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter in pans.
Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Bread may be shielded with aluminum foil that last 15 minutes to prevent excessive browning of streusel.
Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes.
Remove from pans and cool 30 more minutes before slicing.
For perfect slices, cut with a serrated or electric knife after cooling.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Welcome Home Dinner Ideas

So hubby has been away on a work trip and I am trying to think of something super special to make him as a welcome home dinner. I am really pulling my hair out over this one for a couple reasons. First - He is coming back mid-week so I will be at work all day, meaning that whatever I make has to be relatively simple and/or quick. Chances are I will only have an hour or two to pull it all together. Second - hubby is a man of simple tastes. Bless his heart. I could slave for hours in the kitchen making something complicated and fussy and he would be just as happy, if not happier, with a large pepperoni pizza from our neighbohood pizza joint. He would never say this and would still be appreciative of my efforts but I would still know. So what is a devoted wife to do??? Make homemade pizza?? That I could do but the dough would take too long. Maybe I could do a no knead dough the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight?? Would that work? Guess I will have to read up. Otherwise maybe roast beef and scalloped potatoes?? Fried chicken? Chicken Parmesan?? Could I pull a sauce together in an hour? I think I could. Meatloaf, although a favorite of his, seem a little too easy. Feel free to chime in with ideas.

UPDATE: I made cubesteaks in the crockpot so that hubby could come home to the smell of dinner cooking in case he got home before me. They were good but not my best. The flavor was there but the steaks ended up being overcooked. Should have set the pot to low and not high. I am still mastering the crockpot.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What's the Deal with Cupcakes?

Seriously! I just don't get it. Am I the only one on the planet who thinks that cupcakes freaking suck? I must be seeing as how there are entire TV shows dedicated to them. When I see cupcakes all I think is elementary school party. Of course, you can't even have those anymore on account of the teachers get blamed for all the fat little kids out there. Therefore, it's their job to monitor what they eat to keep them thin while the administrators cut PE from the cirriculum. (I could go on for days about that shit. It's infuriating) But I digress, I realize the benefits of cupcakes in a party situation; they are pre-portioned and easy to eat in hand BUT cupcakes are tedious to make, a pain to transport, and quite frankly, not all that good when compared to a big ol' slab of cake! Just my preference. I'm not saying I never make them. In fact I have a recipe or two that people like so much that they threaten my life if I dare show up to a party without them. Since they are people I care deeply about, I make them without hesitation but, I'll be honest, it's a pain in the ass and I would rather just make a damn cake. None of that piece meal frosting and decorating. I don't have time for that shit. Sorry! Rant over. I'll step off of my soapbox now and get on with my little life. You can't make me like cupcakes though.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Iron Foodie Challange - I'm in!

Iron Foodie 2010 | Here's Why that will be me:
MarxFoods.com -- Fine Bulk Foods The Foodie BlogRoll

This should be interesting should I be selected to participate. Foodie blog roll is hosting an "Iron Foodie" Competition and I am trying to get selected to participate. Only 25 people will be awarded that opportunity. I think it will be a really cool way to get my creative grey matter working overtime. I love to cook and come up with new and delicious things to serve those I love but I admit, sometimes I feel like I am treading water so to speak. This contest would really get me to think beyond what is expected to come out of my kitchen. I really hope I get to participate. Here is how it works. If selected, I will receive a box with 8 secret ingredients. I am required to use 3 of the 8 ingredients to create a signature dish. The other 5 ingredients are an extra. I am not sure if using more than three equals extra credit but I suppose that will be explained later. To qualify for selection I must answer the following questions:

Why do you want to compete in this challenge?

See above! I want to be challenged creatively in the kitchen to break away from my everyday routine.

Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?

OMG! The Swedish Chef for sure! Mort, Mort, Mort! I'll even bring my shot gun to help him get the pancakes off of the ceiling. Seriously, I loved the Muppet Show growing up and he was one of my favorite characters. I am not afraid to admit I have Season 2 on DVD and I watch it! Besides, you shouldn't take anything, including cooking, too seriously. You only live once so try to find fun in everything you do.

What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?

Anything chocolate. Both my parents are chocoholics and so I got a double dose of the chocolate loving gene. Thankfully, my husband isn't a big sweets eater so I usually get to help him finish dessert.

Sum your childhood up in one meal.

Roast Eye Round of Beef with spaetzle and corn. This was my favorite dinner growing up as a child. I have many fond childhood memories of my mother making this and me helping her. I was always in charge of fishing out the spaetzle when it was cooked and stirring the gravy. We always had corn because that was pretty much the only vegetable my mom could get me to eat other than salad, which is funny because now I love most vegetables.

The one mainstream food you can’t stand?
Seafood in general. I just don't like it. The fishy taste, the mushy texture. Blech. I love fishing though. Go figure.

So That's that. Keep your fingers crossed that I get selected! There's a lot of competition and in the end, "there can be only one"! LOL!

Turkey Day Primer and Fun with Leftovers!

My stepson is in town to visit. It's a treat to see him since he lives all the way in Florida. He's entering the service in a week so it is the last time we are going to see him for quite a while. Since he won't be home for the holidays I decided to get all the kids over on Sunday for a Thanksgiving dinner. I already had a turkey breast in the freezer so it seemed almost karmic. We had roast turkey, stuffing, glazed carrots, broccoli casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and green bean casserole. I think that's everything. It was a lot of food and considering I only have 1 oven rack, I don't feel bad about tooting my own horn for pulling it all together in about three hours! My only criticism, the broccoli was a tad undercooked. Oh, well. Now I'll be sure to get it right for the actual Thanksgiving holiday, LOL!

The following Monday was Hubby's birthday so I used up the leftover corn and mashed potatoes for his birthday porterhouse steak dinner, which we enjoyed with my family despite him being sick. Tuesday he was REALLY sick. So sick that I felt compelled to work at home in case he decided he needed to go to the emergency room or something. My car is in the shop so I wanted to make sure there was a vehicle for him should he need it. Since I was home and he was all doped up on cold medicine I took it upon myself to use up those remaining Sunday leftovers and make something that also is good for a cold. Not being in a soup mood I decided on Turkey stew with dumplings. Here's what I did:

First I put the leftover turkey carcass in a crock pot with a bunch of chicken broth and got that simmering. Several hours later, when it was falling apart, I fished out all of the meat and bones and dumped them into a colander set inside a bowl to cool. While the meat was cooling I sauteed some chopped garlic, celery and onions with some butter in a large stock pot. Once the vegetables had softened I added the liquid from the crock pot. By this time the turkey meat was cool enough to handle so I picked through it and added the meat pieces to the stock pot and let everything simmer. I seasoned the pot with a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and sage. Then I added the vegetables I had leftover from Sunday. Basically all I had left at this point was green bean casserole and glazed carrots. Both of them went in along with the leftover turkey gravy. Once that heated up. I added a good amount of half and half, turned everything off and went for a jog. Hubby was still out cold and it was too early to go any further. When I got home from jogging Hubby was up and feeling a tad better - not 100% but not worse. A very good sign. I asked if wanted to eat and when I told him what was cooking he was very interested. So I went back into the kitchen and turned the heat back on and got things going again. Before the pot got really hot I spooned out some of the liquid and thickened it with flour. Once the pot started to bubble I poured it in to thicken the stock. I then made a quick dumpling dough using bisquick and milk, which I dropped on top of the stew by the spoonful. Then on went the lid and I let it all simmer for about 15 minutes until the dumplings were cooked through. I purposely used my stockpot with the glass lid so I could see what was going on inside without lifting the lid. As we all know, peeking is a big no-no when it comes to dumplings. The end result was delicious and hubby ate an entire bowl. Hopefully it will help cure his ills!