Monday, November 21, 2011

Planet Hollywood's LA Lasagna

So my dear friend Heather went to Disney this summer. Apparently she had this dish while down there and was super excited to find the recipe online. Only problem is she isn't much for cooking so I told her I would make it for her. I should have read the recipe first! LOL! it is pretty labor intensive! Plus it calls for 9x7 pasta sheets! Where the hell do you get those??? I solved this problem by fusing two egg roll wrappers together and thankfully it worked out perfectly. I also used the tempura batter recipe from my Joy of Cooking since they did not bother to provide one here. I also made a backup traditional lasagna just in case this turned out to be a epic failure. I am happy to say it was not and it really was quite delicious. I did use a jarred 3 cheese alfredo sauce but used the leftover bolognese instead of jarred marinara as the recipe calls for. I didn't really understand why it would instruct you to use jarred sauce after you just made a delicious bolognese. Silly.

Planet Hollywood LA Lasagna

Bolognese Sauce and Stuffing:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/3 lbs. Italian sausage
1 1/3 lbs. ground beef
4 oz. diced red pepper
4 oz. diced red onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 - 16 oz. jar tomato sauce
1 - 12 oz. can tomato puree
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
4 oz. grated parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
Italian seasoning
Coarse black pepper
bread crumbs

Saute onions, peppers, garlic in olive oil, add meats and brown ensuring all meat is broken up finely. Drain off all grease. Add tomato puree, tomato sauce, black pepper and salt. Simmer 10 minutes, add parmesan cheese and simmer 10 minutes longer. Cool mixture in refrigerator at least 2 hours. After cooling add in bread crumbs, (just enough to bind), a pinch of salt, Italian seasoning (to taste) and black pepper. Refrigerate for a half hour.

LA Cheese Stuffing:
1 1/2 lbs. Ricotta cheese
4 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together until well combined and refrigerate.

How To Make the LA Lasagna:
5 - 9x7 cooked pasta sheets
5 cups prepared tempura batter
2 1/2 cups bread crumbs
egg wash (1 egg and 1/4 cup of water)
LA cheese stuffing
Bolognese mixture
10 oz. of your favorite marinara sauce
40 oz. of 4-Cheese Sauce (store bought)
Fresh basil, chopped

Layout pasta sheets and scoop one fifth of Bolognese mixture onto pasta sheets spreading evenly leaving a 1 inch lip on top, then spread one fifth of the cheese mixture on top of the meat mixture in the same manner. Brush the top edge of pasta sheet with egg wash and tightly roll lasagna up and seal. Repeat with other four sheets. Refrigerate until cold.

Take one roll and dip in tempura batter and then roll in the bread crumbs until completely coated. Dip each end back into the batter and seal with more bread crumbs.

Fry in hot oil at 350F for approximately 8 minutes. Carefully remove from oil and place on a cutting board. Slice off both ends of roll and discard.
Cut the roll in half and cut each piece on the bias. Ladle 2 oz. of warmed marinara sauce in the bottom of a large soup bowl. Place lasagna pieces in center of bowl. Top with 8 oz. of warmed 4-Cheese Sauce and garnish with fresh basil.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Maine Event

So this past weekend was the Hood New England Dairy Cookoff and I am sad to report that I am not $10,000 or even $500 richer. I did not make the finals but I did have a wonderful time participating in the event. The fact that I even made the semi-finals was an accomplishment as it was reported that there were over 1,000 recipes entered. Even though I did not advance to the finals, I recieved a lot of compliments on my soup. One of the judges even came up to my cooking station afterwards and told me she thought my recipe was "brilliant". WOW! That right there is worth $10,000! Lorraine, our hostess, was very sweet and welcoming and the culinary school instructors and their students that were helping us were all lots of fun. Amanda, my helper, was awesome and help calmed my nerves thoughout the cooking process. I couldn't have gotten that soup in the bowls without her. This being my first ever cooking competition I have to admit my hands were shaking! I am already thinking about recipes to develop and enter in next years contest as I had so much fun doing this and I can't wait to do it again (if I qualify). The best part of the entire experience, however, is that I got to spend a beautiful weekend in Maine with my wonderful husband.

My cooking station:

Goofing away the pre-cooking jitters!

Me, TFWO (totally f'ing wigging out) and getting my station set to cook.

Getting my cook on! Many thanks to my helper Amanda who is standing behind me!

Presentation counts!

Team Soup!

Monday, October 31, 2011


I apologize for the lack of posts lately. Really, I do! I'm so jealous of all those other food bloggers out there with the time, money and energy to cook fabulous things every day, photograph them and come up with witty and interesting things to write about them. I guess I am just NOT one of those people. Between my job, volunteer work, and dogs, lately it seems like there is barely time for me to brush my teeth these days. It's not that I haven't been cooking, I just haven't had the time or the desire to document what I have made. For the record it's been soup mostly. I have been on a soup kick. My latest beef noodle came out great. Secret - I cooked the beef in a crock pot with the vegetables. I left the veggies rough cut. When the meat was done I pureed the veggies into the stock with an immersion blender. Then I shredded the beef and put it back in the pot with some mini shells. The resulting soup was rich and on the thicker side and just downright delicious. Next weekend is the big cookoff so I hope to have lots of pictures and stories to post.

Monday, October 10, 2011


This morning I got an email notifying me that I was selected to be a semifinalist in the HOOD New England Dairy Cookoff! I can't freaking believe it! I was selelcted for the soup/chowder catergory. Thing is I don't temember whoich recipe I submitted! LMAO! I think it was my roasted butternut squash and salami soup but I can't be positive. I sure hope they tell me! LOL! Anyway I am super excitied and wicked nervous! I have never EVER done anything like this before! Thank goodness the recipe is fairly simple and idiot proof! The cookoff is November 6 in Portland, ME. Wish me luck.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Football Feeding Frenzy!

With football season in full swing this Sunday turned into a major food fest at our house. Well, actually my brothers house but that is besides the point! LOL! Since it was such a beautiful warm day we started everything off with a nice jaunt around the area on the bikes. Ahhh so relaxing and a great way to build up the appetite! Once we were thoroughly famished back home we went for our food fest. It consisted of several chips and dips (veggie dip, hummus, homemade corn and chipotle salsas and nacho cheese and chipotle sausage dip), calzones, steaks and chicken wings. It was pure gluttony and man was it good. The newest recipe was the chipotle sausage dip. Our local market has a fantastic meat counter and they always have unannounced sales so I feel compelled to check it out every time I go in. This past weekend they had a mystery sale on house made chipotle sausage. This was something new and, being a huge fan of their Italian sausage, I felt compelled to try it. Then the gears started to turn as to how I would prepare it. I came up with this recipe and, yes, I realize it is a tad Sandra Lee-ish with the use of canned soup but I have to say it was delicious and went perfectly with beer and football and all of the other things we had going on. I did have a few beers in me when I put it together but I think I remember how I made it. LOL!

Warm Nacho Cheese and Chipotle Sausage Dip

2 cans Campbell's Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
1 8 oz container soft cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 pound chipotle sausage, crumbled and browned
1-2 cans milk

Mix soup, cheeses and sausage in a large sauce pan over low heat. Add milk to desired consistency. Stir frequently until well mixed and warmed through. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

I honestly can't remember if I put the sour cream in or not when I made this but I know I fully intended to so I included it in the recipe. I will have to check my brothers refrigerator and see if I actually did. LOL! Regardless, hubby LOVED this stuff and so did I! The nacho soup is rather hard to find though and I think I came across it at Walmart. I definitely will be going back to get more so I can make this again and again. Hopefully the market will continue to make the chipotle sausage or will make it on request. They may. Small town life is cool like that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Meatloaf Monday

Yesterday I was let off of the hook when it came to dinner. Hubby made a request! Sunday evening he asked if we could have meatloaf for dinner Monday. Absolutely! I even had ground beef in the refrigerator begging to be used up. It also gave me all day to contemplate what kind on meatloaf I wanted to make. I love playing around with meatloaf recipes. No matter what it usually comes out ok. It really is difficult to wreck a meatloaf so bad that a little ketchup couldn't resurrect it, LOL! Since I still had bacon on the brain from my Bacon Jam I decided to make this meatloaf a twist on one of my favorite burger combinations: mushroom, onion and swiss - with bacon! I didn't have any bacon thawed so I used a little bacon fat to add flavor to the meat. I think cooked chopped bacon would have been better and shouldn't have been so lazy but now I know not to take short cuts next time around. This recipe makes a gigantic meatloaf and can easily feed 4-5 hungry people.

Meatloaf (V.2) mushroom, onion and swiss - with bacon!

4-5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
3 pounds ground beef (more or less)
1 box chicken stuffing
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 C swiss cheese, shredded or chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 eggs
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1-2tsp black pepper
1/2 C ketchup

Mix everything except ketchup together in a large bowl until well incorporated
transfer mix to a roasting pan and shape into a log
brush with ketchup and bake 350 for 1 hr.

Husband said this was his favorite meatloaf yet so I will definately be making this again. The use of prepared ingredients also add to the ease of preparation which is great on a busy weeknight. You could easily adapt this to make it from scratch too.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

We're Jammin'

So this weekend I decided to try a new recipe out since I was planning on going to a big breakfast party Sunday morning. I had read about the recipe on the Foodie with Family website and Evil Chef Mom website. Both sites were raving about it and, in my opinion, anything with bacon in it can't be bad, so I gave it a shot. The recipe in question, you ask?? Why it's BACON JAM! A sweet and smokey concoction that tastes great on toast or on a spoon! I think it might even be good on ice cream but I cannot attest to that personally! LOL! Anyway, here is how you make it!

Bacon Jam (Adapted from Foodie with Family)

3 pounds bacon
4 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
8 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife or a pan and peeled
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups very strong brewed black coffee
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cut the bacon slices into one inch strips. Add the bacon to a Dutch oven or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until the bacon is browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings into a heat-proof jar with a tight-fitting lid.*

Add the onions and garlic. Stir well and reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook for about 8 minutes, or until the onions are mostly translucent.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir well.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and boil hard for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, stir the browned bacon.

Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally to make sure things aren’t sticking, adding a little water if it seems to be drying out. When the onions are meltingly soft and the liquid is thick and syrupy, remove the dutch oven from the heat and let cool.

Transfer the jam to a food processor that has been fitted with a blade and process until it is a spreadable consistency.

Store in a container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Can be served cold, room temperature or warmed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Garden Pickin' for my Chicken

My tomatoes have finally decided to let themselves go and ripen! it's about friggen time! Seriously, I can feel the chill in the air at night and I know that frost will be upon us sooner than later. I spent last week on vacation and was thrilled to come home to ripened tomatoes. Hubby had his first garden tomato sandwich of the year (he was so very happy!) and I finally go to do some cooking with them. This time around it was my first attempt and chicken cacciatore. I know it's hard to believe that I have never made this before but it was never one of my favorites due to the green peppers that are usually in it. I like green peppers but prefer them raw. My motivation for this dish was the fact that I had EVERYTHING I needed on hand so it seemed that fate was guiding me to make this dish. I used red peppers instead on green and boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of cut up fryer pieces. I know using pieces probably would have lended more flavor to the dish and is more authentic but I have to say going this route really showcased the fresh tomatoes. It was delicious. I am so happy we have leftovers! Here is the general method I used. As usual, all measurements are relative since I am a throw it in and taste as you go kind of cook!

Erika's Chicken Breast Cacciatore

2 Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, filleted into 2-3 thin cutlets each
Flour for dredging
3-4 Tbs oil, for frying
1 C white wine
1/2 large Vidalia Onion
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
2-3 medium to large tomatoes, cored and rough chopped
4-5 baby portobella mushrooms, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Once chicken is filleted, dredge in flour and fry in oil in a deep pan until browned on both sides. Fry in batches if need be. Remove chicken and reserve on plate. If chicken is not completely cooked through it is OK it will be returned to the pan later.

Deglaze pan with wine, scraping off and bits from the bottom of the pan,

Add onion and peppers to pan and saute until almost cooked through.

Add mushrooms, garlic and tomatoes. Continue cooking until tomatoes begin to break down.

Return chicken pieces to pot and cover. Allow to simmer over medium-low heat for 10-20 minutes. Add water if sauce appears too thick (Use pasta cooking liquid if available).

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over pasta with generous amounts of Parmesan and/or Romano Cheese.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In a Pickle

What I mean is, I am being overrun by cucumbers! I have already made three batches of refrigerator pickles and if I eat any more I just may turn into one. Who would have thought the darn things would be so prolific in my little garden. Now, I am not going to offer you a recipe for pickles today since I have been using the commercial pickling mixes that my mom gave me (thanks mom!). She gave me two different brands of dill pickle seasoning mixes and both were delicious. What I will give you today is a recipe for a cucumber salad that I have been eating since I was a kid and has always been one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. It really is a delicious treat on a hot summer day and goes nicely with grilled meats and corn on the cob. Again, I apologize for the lack of precise measurements here!

Cucumber Salad

2-3 cucumbers sliced thinly. (I recommend using a food processor, mandolin or box grater for this. Peel or not is up to you)
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
2-3 Tbs white vinegar
1-2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp dill
salt and pepper to taste
1/2-3/4 C sour cream (optional)

Mix it all together and let sit for a few hours to let flavors meld. Serve chilled. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Completely Baked

So this weekend was the annual BAAC rodeo, rally and adoption event. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year and we really depend on it to generate revenue that we donate towards the veterinary bills of abused and neglected animals all over the country. You can check us out at In addition to working the kitchen for the event I also volunteered to make stuff for a bake sale. Since I didn't get a lot of others volunteering to make stuff at first I made a LOT of stuff. I should have known better though because our group ALWAYS manages to pull it together and they did not disappoint. Right before the event all sorts of things were being brought to the table (Thanks guys!). I made a variety of things, mostly cookies and cupcakes (5 batches each). But I also made mini cheesecakes and zucchini bread. I had a hard time getting the bread out of the house because it's hubby's favorite thing in the whole wide world. But I assured him that I would make more now that the garden is producing zucchini as fast as we can eat them. I use Paula Deen's recipe, which is a fantastic one for sure.

Zucchini Bread ala Paula Deen

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

Yes, the recipe uses a LOT of sugar but it's good. Trust me on this. I always leave the nuts out; I just don't care for them in sweet breads, but I have been toying with the idea of adding a streusel topping to the loaves. That can't not be good, right? If I ever get around to trying it I will let you know how it came out but for now I am completely baked out.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Luau Weekend

So this weekend a dear friend of mine held a suprise luau birthday party for a mutual friend of ours. Her actual birthday is in October but we can never seem to surprise her so SS decided the only way to do it was to have it so early she would never suspect anything. It worked! LOL! Now, I LOVE a good party so, of course I offered to help with the cooking. I made three items - Sweet and Sour Kielbasa, Sriracha Crab Rangoon Dip and Pineapple Upside Down Carrot Cake. The latter two recipes I found on the Foodie with Family blog and they sounded perfect for such an occasion.

Sweet and Sour Kielbasa
For this recipe I pulled in ingredients from a bunch of recipes I viewed online. I was very pleased with the results although if I make this again I will skim the fat before serving. Even after I thickened the sauce it would separate and looked pretty gross. The taste, however, was quite yummy. I didn't really measure and just tasted as I went so I am approximating everything here.

3 rings kielbasa
1 C brown sugar
1 C ketchup
1 large can pineapple chunks in juice
2 Tbs onion powder
1/4 C molasses
1/4 C cider vinegar

Cut kielbasa and place in crock pot

Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan and heat over stove until sugar is dissolved.

Pour sauce over Kielbasa and cook on high for 6-8 hours.

Skim fat, Thicken with cornstarch and water if desired.

Sriracha Crab Rangoon Dip
I REALLY liked this dip and will definately be making it again! If you don't want to buy sesame oil special you could omit it without really hurting the recipe. Add more sriracha if you want it spicier. For a crowd I thought the kick was perfect. I served the dip with wide chow mein noodles but it was also quite good with tortilla chips!

1 (8 ounce) brick cream cheese, brought to room temperature
1 tablespoon Sriracha
6 ounces drained, flaked crab meat
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
4 green onions, green part only, minced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Use a wooden spoon or stand mixer to beat together the softened cream cheese and Sriracha until it is an even color.

Stir the crab meat, soy sauce, garlic, green onions and sesame oil into the cream cheese mixture

Chill, tightly covered, until served.

Pineapple Upside Down Carrot Cake

I am still on the fence as to whether I liked this cake or not. It was good but, I don't know, it wasn't what I expected. I am thinking a good spike of rum might have helped it tremendously or a drizzle of caramel sauce. The texture and was good and it was very moist. I just think maybe a little more sweetness would have helped. The pineapple and sugar on top wasn't as sweet as I was anticipating it to be.

Ingredients for cake batter:
1 pound finely grated then chopped carrots (see notes)
4 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
finely grated zest of one orange
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves

Ingredients for pineapple caramel layer:
4 tablespoons of butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained of juice and squeezed lightly to remove more juice

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To prepare the Pineapple Caramel Layer:
Spray a bundt pan (or six individual sized bundt pans) with non-stick cooking spray.

Break off pieces of the softened butter and dot the bottom of the pan evenly. (If using mini bundt pans, divide the butter evenly between them.)

Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the butter. (Again, if using the individual bundt pans, divide the sugar evenly between the pans.)

Evenly distribute the pineapple over the sugar.

To prepare the Carrot Cake batter:
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated and brown sugar, oil, vanilla extract and orange zest.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all the spices in a large mixing bowl.

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir together with a wooden spoon until there are no more pockets of dry ingredients.

Add the carrots all at once and fold into the batter.

Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pan(s). The batter should rise no higher than 2/3 of the way up the pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes for mini-bundt pans or 60-70 minutes for a regular bundt pan, or until a straw inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (If using mini pans, test each cake.)

Let the cake rest in the pan(s) for five minutes before turning onto a serving platter.

The party was a HUGE success and SS did an awesome job with he organizing and decorating. Everybody had a wonderful time and we all gained about 20 pounds. LOL!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lesson Learned

Yesterday was just and epic sucky day from beginning to end. It isn't that anything particularly bad happened. I was just tired. I mean really, REALLY tired. Tired to the point where I just didn't give a shit about anything and all I could think about was getting my ass home and back to bed. Somehow before that could happen I had to get dinner on the table. UGH! That meant casserole. That meant the easiest casserole I could think of. Now, I don't make a lot of casseroles so I am on a learning curve with them (still). All I knew is that there was no way in hell I was going to do anything more than throw a bunch of stuff in a casserole dish, turn the oven timer on and do absolutely nothing until the oven went DING! The end result of my exercise in minimalism turned out quite tasty but took a hell of a lot longer to cook than expected. In the future I now know that I should bring the cooking liquid to a boil prior to mixing it in the casserole and baking it. That would cut the cooking time in half and keep the kitchen from becoming an inferno because the oven has been on for two hours. Instant rice might be a good idea too. Lesson Learned.

Erika's Too Tired to Cook (or do anything else)Casserole

1 1/2 C long grained white rice
2 medium sized broccoli crowns, chopped
1-2 C chopped cooked ham
1 C shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 can cheddar cheese soup
3 C chicken broth
1 Tbs chopped garlic

Put rice, cheese, ham and broccoli in a casserole dish.
In a separate bowl wisk together broth, soup, and garlic. Stir into casserole dish. Cover and bake 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until rice is cooked. Add more broth if necessary. salt snd pepper to taste

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I have a sudden urge to eat baked beans and brown bread!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beat-a da Heat-a Fajitas!

So, last week we had out first official heat wave here in New England. Although you'd be hard pressed to believe that after the damp and chilly weekend we just had. I am talking near 100 degree days with oppressive humidity. It sucked! But I still managed to get out a nice dinner without having to slave in front of a hot stove for too long. FAJITAS! I had actually forgotten how easy and how tasty these could be, it had been so long since I last had them. Plus the cool toppings made for a refreshing yet hearty meal on such a hot day. Here is how it went...First I started with a fairly thick London Broil. Yes, I know, normally fajitas are made with flank steak or skirt steak and when those cuts go on sale for $1.99 per pound I assure you I will use them. Here and now, I had London Broil so that is what I used. I marinaded the steak overnight in a bottled salsa verde. When it came time for dinner I took the steak out of the marinade and rubbed it with some adobo seasoning (Penzey's - good stuff!)and let it sit while I prepped the veggies. The vegetables were simply sliced red bell peppers and vidalia onions and some chopped garlic. All that got put into a large skillet with a little oil and the remaining marinade from the steak. I quickly cooked that over high heat while husband threw the steak on the grill. The veggies were cooked until crisp tender and the steak to a medium-rare. The steak, once cooked, was sliced as thinly as possible and transferred to a platter. After a quick toss with some freshly chopped cilantro the veggies joined the steak and dinner was ready to serve. We used small flour tortillas, fresh salsa, sour cream, guacamole and shedded cheddar cheese to build our fajitas and we ate until we were about to burst. Both husband and I really enjoyed this meal and the thinly sliced London broil worked just fine in place of flank or skirt steak. Give it a try. You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Summer Classic

POTATO SALAD! Mmmm, i love it! i try not to make it too often because I really have no self discipline when it comes to potatoes and will eat them until I burst! Yesterday I finally got around to making a batch. I had to, really, as the potatoes were starting to grow in my cupboard. So I boiled them the night before and when I got home from work today all I had to do was peel and chop them. Easy Peasy but sticky, LOL! This recipe is a favorite of mine and most people who try it really dig it. I came up with it in college when a friend of mine and I decided to have a cookout but had no idea how to make potato salad. So we called up everyone we knew and asked them how they made theirs. We had a pretty long list of ingredients by the time we were done! Then we went to our respective kitchens to see what on the list was in our cupboards and refrigerators since, as starving college students, we weren't going to buy anything special. This was the end product and I have been making it ever since. Normally I dislike recipes that are product specific but for this one you really do need the right pickles or it just won't taste right. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

Erika and Liz's Dilly Potato Salad

5 pounds of potatoes, boiled peeled and diced
1/2 C chopped sweet onion
2-3 Claussen Kosher Dill pickles, chopped
2-3 Tbs pickle juice
1-2C mayo
Salt to taste (Don't be shy)
Generous shake of black pepper
handful of fresh dill, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until incorporated, Chill before serving.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Trouble with Teriyaki

So, last nights dinner was great, I mean super duper great. What made it that way was, in part, due to the fact that we kept it very simple. Both Husband and I still hadn't fully recovered from the holiday weekend debauchery and, quite frankly, we were tired (for the record he was crabby AND tired). As luck would have it, the steak I intended to cook Friday was still marinading in the refrigerator. I had marinaded it in a bottled teriyaki sauce. Now, I love teriyaki but it's really hard to find a version that works for me. I did find a recipe many years ago but neglected to note which cookbook it came from and have yet to find it again. Same goes for bottled stuff - I can't seem find one I really like. Most of the time it's just too salty whether I buy it from a bottle or make it from scratch! The marinade I used this time around was part old bottled stuff that I didn't particularly like all that much and part new bottled stuff that I hadn't tried yet. Together they were da bomb! The old stuff wasn't sweet enough and a tad too salty. I have a feeling the new stuff was very sweet because it was REALLY thick when I poured it into the bowl with the steak. I haven't tried it by itself to confirm that though. I now wonder if it would be too sweet by itself and whether I need to keep buying both brands to mix up the teriyaki sauce of my desires. LOL! Hey I'll do it if I have to!!!! Anyway, after four days in the teriyaki bath, the steak (flank steak, btw) grilled up to sweet, flavor-filled perfection. To accompany the steak we also grilled up some zucchini - again very simple - just butter, garlic, sliced zucchini and salt in a foil packet and finished the meal with a standard boxed rice that I added some sliced carrots to. Everything worked together beautifully and was quick and easy to make. Even Mr. Crankypants was pleased!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

I can't believe it's finally here! The official start of summer! Hooray! But before the festivities begin I would like to tip my hat and say a sincere thank you to all who have served or are serving to protect our great nation. THANK YOU!

Now, on to the food. In addition to all the parades, husband and I intend to go to a few cookouts. Since I would never dream of attending a party empty handed it is essential for me to prepare a dish that doesn't require refrigeration and can handle a trip in the saddlebags (weather permitting, of course!). This is one of my "go to" recipes for summer parties since it is relatively easy to make, goes well with grilled anything and contains ingredients most everyone likes. PLUS the components of the salad are large so anything someone doesn't like can easily be eaten around.

Erika's Tortellini Salad

2 packages frozen cheese tortellini, cooked, drained and cooled
1 can whole black olives (or hit the supermarket olive bar for some of the fancy ones)
1 stick pepperoni, cut into chunks
2 roasted red peppers, chopped rough
1 container grape/cherry tomatoes, halved (or chopped fresh tomato or chopped sun dried in oil)
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered (NOT marinated)
1 pound mozzarella cheese, cubed
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

Prepare one package of good Seasons Italian dressing using BALSAMIC vinegar
Add 2-3 heaping teaspoons of sugar and mix together

Put all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl, prepare dressing and pour over salad. Toss gently to coat. Let sit 1 hour before serving.

That's it! So simple yet delicious! Enjoy, be safe and have a great weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Easiest Thing Ever!

So I bought corn on the cob last week, stuck it in the veggie drawer of my refrigerator and promptly forgot all about it. I discovered it while getting the celery for my Italian wedding soup. DAMMIT! I hate wasting food and what I saw through the bag was not pretty. But to be sure, I peeled back the husk and the corn underneath looked pretty good. The mess I saw at first glance was in actuality the corn silk turning into ICK. So, I shucked the corn and quickly cooked it lest I forget about it again. Next it was off into the cupboards to see what I could do with all this corn. To my delight I had lots of good canned stuff that I promptly used to create a pretty awesome corn and black bean salad/salsa! The only thing I had to go out and get was a lime. Hooray! Here is how I put it together.

Corn and black bean salad/salsa

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (Hunt's brand)
1 can black beans with cumin and chili spices (Kuner's brand)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, diced
1/2 white onion diced small
5 ears of corn, cooked and kernels cut from the cob
Juice of 1 lime
salt to taste
1/4 c chopped cilantro (I keep my extra in the freezer)

Basically you just mix everything together and let sit to meld the flavors. The only can I drained was the beans. I drained them but didn't rinse them to keep the seasonings in. You could certainly drain the tomatoes too for a drier salad/salsa. If you are not a big fan of heat you can also leave out one of the chipotles to tone it down a bit. This mixture did have a pretty good kick. I really liked it but it was a tad too much for my husband's tender palate.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Did It Again!

I created a great dish, on the fly, not really paying attention, and now I can't quite remember how I did it! LOL! I mean, I know what I put in it but proportions - forget it. Oh well I'll do my best to explain it to you! The recipe in question - Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs". Yes, Yes, I realize this is not an "authentic" recipe but so what - It's delicious and was perfect for warming up my poor husband who got soaked at work and was chilled to the bone. Did I mention it has been raining non-stop for a freaking week here with no end in sight! I love New England! Anyway, I was all out of ground beef but I knew I had ground turkey in the freezer. I figured this would be a good way to clear out some freezer space in anticipation of summers bounty! What I didn't realize was that it was a 3 pound package of ground turkey. Needless to say, I made a LOT of meatballs! LOL! But I don't think it's really possible to have too many meatballs! So ahead I went. Here is my recipe (I think) or at least as close to it as I can recall, LOL!

Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs

For the Meatballs:
3 Lbs ground turkey
1/2T ground mustard
1/2T ground sage
1T Bell's poultry seasoning
1T salt
5oz garlic flavor Philadelphia Cooking Creme
3 eggs
1-1 2/2 Cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 C romano cheese
2-3T parsley
1T onion powder

For the soup
1 medium onion chopped fine
3 carrots chopped fine
2 stalks celery chopped fine
1/2C chopped frozen spinach
4-6C chicken stock
2-3T chicken boullion paste (I use this in place of salt)
1T parsley
1T dill
small pasta of your choice

Mix all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl until fully combined and roll into balls. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400F for about 30 minutes or so. If meatballs aren't completely cooked don't sweat it, they will finish cooking in the soup. While the meatballs are baking, saute carrots onion and celery in 2-3T olive oil in a large sauce pot until vegetables are soft. Add stock, meatballs and remaining ingedients EXCEPT the pasta. Let simmer, covered for 30 minutes or so. Add appropriate amount of pasta - don't overdo it or it will suck up all of your broth. Allow to simmer, covered until pasta is cooked. Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Fiery Pasta Salad

Well, much to my chagrin, I never did get my asparagus fix. :( Instead I was running around shopping for clothes for my husband to wear to his sisters wedding this weekend. The bright side was that I bought myself an awesome new hat for the beach! Now if only the sun would come out! LOL! Seven days of rain in the forecast - WHAT THE HELL!! I should have bought a new umbrella, then we would have sun! LOL! What I did manage to whip up, however, was a tasty pasta salad. Originally, this salad was going to be a hot and creamy side dish for the RWOP recipe contest but, quite frankly, I am really sick of cream cheese at this point and, with summer coming, my tastes are steering towards the lighter side of things. Therefore, I ditched the cream cheese and came up with this recipe instead, which we ate warm but was also just as good right out of the refrigerator the next day. As ususal, I didn't measure anything so the measurements provided below are relative estimates. If you would like to recreate this just keep tasting as you go and you'll be fine. I ended up getting a little heavy handed with the red pepper flakes so this turned out quite spicy but I though it went really well with the grilled steak we had with it. Husband, who it a little more sensitive to spicey flavors,thought it was a little hot but good nonetheless.

Fiery Italian Pasta Salad

1 pound cooked pasta (I used farfalle)
1/2 C shopped frozen spinach
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
2Tbs olive oil
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
6-8 sundried tomatoes, packed in oil, chopped
2-3T red pesto with sundried tomatoes (I buy this jarred at ocen state job lot)
1T good seasonings italian dressing seasoning
1-2T red wine vinegar
1/4C romano cheese
few shakes crushed red pepper flakes

I sauted the spinach in the oil and garlic in a sauce pan until everything was cooked and heated through, then I added the rest of the ingredients except the romano cheese and red pepper flakes. Once it was all stirred to gether I poured it over the hot pasta and tossed it all together. Then, in went the cheese and red pepper and it was tossed again one more time before serving.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ode to Spring!

I do believe the threat of frost has finally passed and I finally went out and bought my vegetable starts for the garden. Of course, I bought WAY to many since our local five and dime only sells 6-packs. That's OK though as Mom just informed me she is now in an all out war with the moles that devastated her first round of vegetable plantings. All my extras will be heading to her house later this month. My brother also went and planted a HUGE garden too so it looks like we will be flush with fresh veggies this summer. THIS IS A GOOD THING! I can't wait for those plants to start producing! I am already chomping at the bit for those fresh summer flavors and have compiled an arsenal of recipes for all the tomatoes, zucchini and peppers I am anticipating! I forsee lots of grilling and dining al fresco in the months to come! And salads! Oh, how I long for fresh veggies for my salads! Right now it's vidalia onion and asparagus time but husband SWEARS he doesn't like asparagus. We will just see about that! I'll bet if I shave it into some orzo and dress it with a nice vinagrette and some pecorino he will gobble it up like there is no tomorrow! He will be out friday night so, if all else fails, that might be my asparagus night. Just me, my asparagus and some cheesy kung fu movies on DVD. AHHH! Life is good!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cinco De Mayo Celebration!

This weekend is the annual B.A.A.C. Cinco De Mayo party! Yahoo! Seriously, what could be better than bikes, beer, and really good tex-mex food! This is my favorite event and the event that started the organization so it holds a special place in my heart. Therefore, you get 2 recipes with this post! Both are party favorites! Hopefully, I'll have some photos to show you soon too since I am planning on making both this week for the party along with a few other things if time permits!

Spinach Enchiladas in Cilantro Cream Sauce

2 cup(s) of Chopped spinach, cooked or thawed and drained
•1 tbsp. of chopped garlic, or to your tastes
•1/4 cup(s) of chopped onion
•1/2 cup(s) of chopped mushrooms
•1 can chopped green chilies, 2Tbs reserved
•1 chopped serrano pepper
•1/2 cup(s) of breadcrumbs
•1 tbsp. of chili powder
•1 egg
•3 ounce(s) of Philadelphia cream cheese
•1 cup(s) of cheddar cheese, divided
•1 cup(s) of pepper jack cheese, divided
•10 corn tortillas
•1 cup(s) of cream or evaporated milk
•1/2 cup(s) of chopped fresh cilantro
•1/2 cup(s) of green salsa
•1 tsp. of salt

1.Saute spinach, garlic, green chilies, serrano pepper onions, mushrooms and garlic until onions begin to turn tranluscent
2.While vegetables are cooking, lightly fry tortillas in a hot, oiled pan to soften.
3.In a seperate bowl, mix bread crumbs, cream cheese, chili powder, egg and 1/2 cup cheddar and pepper jack cheeses
4.Add vegetables to bowl and stir until combined
5.In a blender or food processor blend the remaining green chilies, cream, salt, green salsa and cilantro to make the sauce a small amount of sauce in a 9x9 pan and lightly coat the bottom
7.Place a spoon full of filling in each tortilla and roll.
8.placed rolled tortillas in pan and pour remaining sauce over them
9.sprinkle with remaining cheddar and pepper jack cheese
10.Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Tamale Pie

Slow roast one whole pork shoulder. Double wrap shoulder in foil and roast at 225-250 for 12 to 15 hours. Be sure it is in a fairly deep pan as it will release a lot of juices. I generally throw it in the oven in the late morning and let it roast all day and all night. Let cool and separate meat.

For the crust:
2 C Maseca corn flour
2/3 C vegetable shortning (or lard)
2 C warm water (some times I will add some of the juices from the pork to add flavor)

Combine ingredients in an electric mixer and blend until smooth and "fluffy". Use half of the dough to line bottom and side of a casserole dish. It took me three batches of this to have enough for a big banquet pan.

For the sauce:
1 can diced green chilies
4 serrano chilies, chopped fine
about 6 (depending on size) cubanelle peppers, chopped
1 generous Tbs chopped garlic
1 medium to large onion chopped
1 jar chili sauce
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
1 large can petit cut diced tomatoes

Saute peppers, onion and garlic in a large pan until softened and onions begin to turn translucent. Add tomatoes, chili sauce and chili powder and stir until sauce is thick and hot.

If you have room in your pan you can stir the meat into the sauce and put it all in the masa lined casserole dish otherwise put a layer of meat on the bottom of the dish and pour the sauce over the top. Top with the remaining masa and bake (350-400) for 1-2 hours until heated through and crust begins to brown. Top with cheddar cheese and bake 15 minutes more or until melted and bubbly! Serve hot with sour cream and guac!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dessert Time!

This recipe is so versatile! Once you make the base of sweetened cream cheese the sky is the limit as far as flavor combinations. Just about any candy bar, cheesecake or ice cream flavor combination could be adapted to this recipe. Have fun trying different mix-ins, extracts and liquors to come up with your own favorite combinations. If you can't find spring roll wrappers, egg roll wrappers or wonton skins are perfectly acceptable substitutes. This was my first time working with spring roll wrappers and they were great to work with so don't be intimidated by them!

Dessert Spring Rolls

4 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/2 cup(s) of powdered sugar
1/2 cup(s) of Peanut Butter
1/2 cup(s) of chocolate chips
4 cup(s) of vegetable oil for frying
2 cup(s) of warm water
1 package spring roll wrappers (can sub eggroll wrappers or wonton skins)

1.In electric mixer, mix cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter until combined.
2.Stir in chocolate chips
3.Dip spring roll wrapper in warm water to soften
4.Place 1-2Tbs of filling mixture into spring roll wrapper and roll egg roll style on a damp towel. Be sure to pull wrapper tight around filling to remove any air pockets.
5.Deep fry spring rolls in hot oil (about 350 degrees) until crisp
6.Allow to drain and serve with ice cream, flavored syrup, whipped cream, etc.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2 Submissions in 1 week! Will Miracles Ever Cease?

Call it an Easter miracle but I actually was able to get two recipes in to RWOP this week. I do have to admit though, the second submission was SUPER easy and took all of 5 minutes. A five minute video still takes about an hour to edit and convert though so you can understand why I try to keep them short - 10 minute time rule not withstanding! LOL!

For this recipe I took my inspiration from a mid-western regional specialty burger - The Jucy (or Juicy) Lucy. I was actually watching a Food Network show with my husband one night and this particular item was being showcased, which gave me the idea to give it a Philly twist for the contest. Then when I was in the store and saw a gadget for making stuffed cheeseburgers - well let's just say it was like a sign from the heavens that this was the time to do this. So here you have it - my southwestern adaptation of the Jucy Lucy using Philly Santa Fe blend cooking creme that I affectionately call the "Juicy Lupe"!

1 pound(s) of lean ground beef
4 tbsp. of Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Santa Fe Blend
1/2 cup(s) of Masa Harina
4 slices pepper jack cheese
2 slices red onion
2 slices tomato
2 large lettuce leaves
2 tbsp. of salsa or taco sauce
2 burger buns

1.If you do not have the luxury of using a stuffed burger press gadget, divide beef into four equal portions
2.Place each portioned beef between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll into a thin patty
3.Place 2 Tbs of cooking creme in the center of one patty and place second patty on top. Pinch edges to seal.
4.Repeat with remaining patties
5.dredge burgers in masa harina
6.Place burgers in a non stick skillet and cook over LOW HEAT, turning once, until done. Use a lid to ensure thorough cooking
7.Place pepper jack cheese on burgers and cook with lid until melted
8.remove burgers from skillet and place on buns. Top with lettuce, tomato, onion and salsa/taco sauce
9.Let sit before biting into burgers as filling will be hot. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Soup is Good Food!

Well, I lucked out with the shitty weather that we have been having lately. These damp cold days were perfect for making this soup that I wanted to submit to RWOP and this week I finally got it done. I was exhausted and you can see that I am wearing PJs in my video but at that point in the day I really didn't care and just wanted to get this thing done. The soup came out great so that's the most important thing, right!

This is another "Necessity is the Mother of Invention" recipe of mine. When I first came up with it I had intended to make the soup with bacon. As it turned out, I was all out of bacon so I substituted salami instead. I am happy to say the results were fantastic and I hope that you agree.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Salami Soup

•1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
•3 tbsp. of butter
•2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
•2-3 Cups cream
•1 medium onion, diced
•6 slices hard salami
•2 cup(s) of chicken broth - use more or less depending on the desired consistency


1.Butter each half of the squash and layer salami slices on top and in cavity of squash
2.Place on baking sheet and roast at 350-400 degrees until squash is easily pierced with a fork
3. While squash is roasting, sauté onions and garlic in butter until softened
4. Add chicken stock to onions and simmer gently
5.When squash is cooked set aside roasted salami slices, pour excess butter into a sauce pan
6. Rough chop roast salami slices and set aside
7.Scrape squash out of skin and add to sauce pan
8.Add cream and chopped salami to pan and puree with an immersion blender. Add more or less stock and creme until soup is desired consistency.
9.salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Week was Weak

Weak in the fact that I didn't get any contest submissions in. I mean I really wracked my brain to come up with something good and then when it came time to get it done I had to work late so - No Dice! Oh well. I have a few ideas for this week so let's see how things go and what I have for time and maybe I can make up for it whith a double submission. Don't hold your breath!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thoughts of Summer

So, we had a new impromptu challenge over at RWOP. One that did NOT involve cream cheese which is kind of nice. We were given three ingredients and told to come up with something. I don't think anybody wins anything other than an honorable mention and bragging rights but, what the hell, I love a challenge. What was really great about this little task was that it removed the creative block I was having with my side dish recipe idea. Seriously, between last season and the cooking creme contest, we have creamed every freaking vegetable out there! Rice, potatoes and pasta have all been creamed to death too! So, I am happy to say I now have a decent recipe idea that I will try and execute for dinner tonight. In the meantime here is what I came up with for the current, non-cream cheese, challenge. I had to use a frozen vegetable, lemons or limes and spaghetti in my recipe. I intitally thought I might try going the lime route with a thai or latin inspired dish but decided to stay in my comfort zone for now. Since I am dying for summer to come so I can get to my picnics on the beach I came up with this pasta salad recipe. What's great about this recipe is that you won't give anyone food poisoning with it if it gets a little warm!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad


1 pound Spaghetti, dried
1/2 cup Fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup good olive oil
4 tsp. salt, divided
2 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 cup Fresh Dill, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley chopped
1 cup(s) Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
1/2cup kalamata olives, seeded
1/2 cup Sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
3/4 pound good feta cheese, diced


1. Break spaghetti in half and cook in a pot of well salted water until al dente
2. While pasta is cooking whisk tpgether lemon juice, 1/2 C olive oil, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
3. Drain pasta and pour dressing over it while still hot. Toss to combine
4. Add spinach, onions, olives, tomatoes, parsley, dill, cucumber and remaining salt and pepper and toss to combine
5. Gently stir in feta cheese.
6. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature to allow flavors to meld or refrigerate over night.
7. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve at room temperature

Photo coming soon!

Monday, April 11, 2011

And We're Off!

So, last week I managed to get a submission in to season 2 of RWoP. While I have to say it wasn't my favorite recipe (I really am not a fan of sweet peas), it sure looked good on the plate. I also did a real crappy job talking on camera with a lot of stammering and stuttering. You could tell that I was out of practice. But between work, gym, volunteering and everything else I have going an there are no do-overs when it comes to this stuff. I get one shot - that's it! As it was, I stayed up way past my bed time getting the stupid thing converted, edited and submitted. All in all, it wasn't the worst thing I ever sent in to them and I have confidence it will get better as I go along. It certainly did last time. I am a little jealous of the people who are retired or don't have to work full time and have all day to work on their submissions. But then again, I am far from perfect and I think all my errors make my videos a heck of a lot more realistic. But that's just my opinion. If nothing else the errors sure add to the comedy! LOL!

Springtime Sweet Pea Crostini

1 baguette, sliced
4 ounce(s) of PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese
1 tsp. of lemon zest
1 tbsp. of lemon juice
1 1/2 cup(s) of sweet peas, blanched
1 tbsp. of salt or to taste
4 tbsp. of olive oil
2 tbsp. of fresh parsley
6 slices baked ham
6 slices cheese, american, cheddar, swiss
2 tbsp. of fresh herbs (Formal presentation only)
1 cup(s) of edible flower blossoms (Formal presentation only)

1. brush baguette slices with olive oil and bake in 350-400 degree oven until toasted

2. add cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, sweet peas, parsley and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse to combine

3. Chop ham and cheese slices or cut into shapes with a small cookie cutter and set aside

4. Spread cream cheese mixture on toasted baguette sliced and top with ham and cheese

5. For a more formal presentation garnish crostini with fresh herbs and edible flower blossoms.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Using up Leftovers and Putting a Twist on a Classic!

As I previously posted, I cooked a massive Prime Rib last week - well, massive for two people, anyway. We did a fairly good job using up the leftovers too but I still had some left that I absolutely had to use. So, since we had been enjoying those cheesesteak sandwiches so much and yesterdays weather being damp and cold begged for the preparation of comfort food, I decided to put a twist on a classic dish. My Creation - waaait for it - Baked Macaroni and Cheese-Steak! This proved to be a very successful dinner that satisfied our grumbling bellies and took the chill off of an otherwise miserable day. Husband was quite pleased with the dish and must have complimented it at least a dozen time during the meal. I just love it when he enjoys my cooking like that. He is such a dear sweet man!

So here is how it went down in the kitchen!

First, I cooked a pound of macaroni noodles in salted water - easy enough! When they were al dente, I dumped them in a colander and returned the pot to the stove with about 2 Tbs of butter and a small diced onion. While the onions were caramelizing I broke out the food processor and got busy grating a boat load of cheese. The mixture included (all measurements are approximate) 2 Cups mild yellow cheddar, 1 Cup sharp white cheddar, 1 Cup asiago, 1 cup mozzarella, 1 cup monteray jack and about 2 cups diced Velveeta. I did not grate the Velveeta because it gets all gummed up and nasty in my food processor. I also considered adding cream cheese and using this recipe as a contest submission for Season 2 of Real Women of Philadelphia but decided that I had enough cheese in there already. Besides, now I have a reason to make it again! LOL!

Once the onions were a nice golden color, I added a couple of tablespoons of flour to the pot to make a roux. I stirred this and let it cook until just starting to brown. Then I added about 1 cup heavy cream and 1-2 cups milk. I reduced the heat a bit and let this warm gradually. While that was warming I quickly sliced the leftover prime rib into thin strips and set it aside.

After the meat was cut up, I added all that cheese into the warming milk and stirred it all together until all the cheeses were nicely incorporated. I turned the heat off and poured the pasta and sliced meat in and mixed everything to combine.

Once I had it all mixed together, everything was transferred into a greased casserole dish and put into a 400 degree oven for about a half hour. The resulting casserole was delicious and I hope it reheats well. I did notice it took on a slight grainy texture as it cooled but it wasn't enough to keep me from thoroughly enjoying the dish. I guess I will let you know tomorrow because tonight is leftover night and I am sure Hubby and I will be trading elbows to get at this stuff, LOL!

UPDATE: This dish reheated just fine. In fact, I think it tasted even better the next day! YUM YUM YUM!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Well I'll Be Damned!

So, today starts the submission period for the second season of the Real Women of Philadelphia cooking contest. I participated in this contest to a degree last season and in some follow up contests featuring the new cooking cream product. I have to admit I was a little disenchanted with the whole thing because it seemed to me that the contest was more of a popularity/ass-kissing contest than an actual recipe contest. I thought some of the winning recipes were lame and lacked creativity and/or originality. But then, maybe I am just a total bitch - I have been told this before, LOL! I did see forum posts from others expressing the same feelings though, so I don't think it's just me in this case. Anyway, since I am not the type of person who pretends to be something she is not for any reason and, because I am not afraid to say that something that looks like a turd looks like a turd, I wasn't going to bother entering any recipes this time around....until I saw this.....

If you scroll all the way to the bottom - there it is - one of MY recipes! HOLY SHIT! They actually liked something I submitted! (That casserole is really good btw). Well, you could just knock me over with a feather!

So, now I am thinking that maybe I will give Round 2 a whirl. At least this time they are calling our submittals auditions rather than recipe contest entries. I still refuse to pretend to be all sunshine and rainbows all the time and I'll still admit when something looks like a turd or smells like shit (I will concede to using G-rated terminology though, LOL). LOL! I honestly don't think I stand a chance because, really - a gun slinging, biker with an attitude and a potty mouth does not fit the mold for this contest! But hey, it's called "REAL WOMEN of Philadelphia" and, not for nothing - I think a little dose of "REAL" is just what this contest needs. So, fuck it - here I go - wait until they get a load of me. LOL!

In the meantime, stay tuned for more cream cheese concoctions and wish me luck! Now, I just need to find the time to get all this cooking, taping and video editing done, LOL! That's really the hardest part!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back in the Saddle!

So after my nearly two month long hiatus, I am back with renewed spirit and vigor and ready to take on my kitchen and show it no mercy! I am armed with a trove of new recipes and, with the temperatures trying to rise, anticipate an onslaught of occasions for which to try them. My first big foray back into the kitchen occurred Tuesday with a very special dinner for my very special man. On the menu - Caprese salad, Roast Prime Rib of Beef, sweet corn in butter sauce, broccoli with cheese sauce and mashed potatoes. Since I have already discussed most of these recipes on here, this post will focus on the backbone of this feast - Prime Rib. Oh, such a glorious cut of meat! I had my local butcher cut this one special for me and it was worth every penny. My only downfall was the inaccuracy of my meat thermometer which caused it to be a bit overcooked but certainly not ruined. Since the roast was enormous, you can expect several follow up posts where I use up all of the leftovers. There is no way a single morsel of this roast will go to waste.

To prepare the roast I simply rubbed it all over with English Prime Rib Rub from Penzey's. If you have never shopped Penzey's for herbs and spices, I highly recommend you do so. This rub is fantastic and creates a nice flavorful crust on the roast as it cooks.

I roasted the meat at 350 until my meat thermometer erroneously read 140 degrees. I removed the roast from the oven and let it rest while I set the table and put out all of the side dishes. Then I called in my DH to to the honor of carving. I think it took all the strength he could muster to not just lean over and take a bite right out of it! LOL!

Once the roast was carved we sat down and thoroughly enjoyed our little exercise in gluttoney. It was a perfect meal and we both enjoyed it tremendously.

For my first round of leftovers I made us cheesesteaks by caramelizing some sliced onions in butter and adding the thinly sliced leftover prime rib. Once everything was heated through I piled it on rolls that I had toasted with garlic butter and added a couple slices of American cheese. Yes, I realize the cheese part wasn't authentic but hubby didn't complain and made grunting sounds of joy as he eagerly scarfed it down. It was gone so fast I didn't even get a chance to take a picture of it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Game Feast - Munich Haus - Chicopee, MA

This Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the last game feast of the year at Munich Haus in Chicopee, MA. I can assure you this will become a yearly pilgrimage for me from this point on. This was one enjoyable exercise in gluttony! The game meats included carving stations of kangaroo, bison, venison and bear along with rabbit stew, fried alligator, game stew, smoked bear sausage, alligator-chicken sausage and game sausage. Sides included red cabbage, roasted potatoes, cucumber salad, spaetzle and rye bread. There were cheese and crackers and other small appetizers too but I didn't bother with those - bring on the meat! For $45, this was a great deal as all the carving station meats were high quality and all of the food was FABULOUS!

The buffet

Carving Stations

First Plate

Second Plate

Save room for dessert!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Taking a break

Well, I have some personal shit to deal with so I probably won't be updating this blog for a while. Just in case anybody actually reads this. LOL!

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Last Recipe

For the philly cooking creme contest, that is! I had intended on submitting three recipes this week but life being what it is only permitted me enough free time to submit one. It was a good one though! I didn't even have to go out and buy much to make it since most of the ingredients I generally keep on hand. Hope you like it! The winners will be announced some time this week so I am keeping my fingers crossed. I sure could use the cash prize!

Black Bean Green Chili Casserole

1-2 pound(s) of chopped pork tenderloin (can sub ground pork, beef or turkey)
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1 tbsp. of chopped garlic
1 can black beans with cumin and chili spices (Kuner's)
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (RoTel)
1 cup(s) of salsa verde
3 large flour tortillas
10 ounce(s) of philadelphia cooking creme, santa fe blend
2 cup(s) of cheddar cheese, shredded

1. saute meat, onions and garlic until browned, drain if necessary
2. add beans, tomatoes and salsa verde to pan, stir and heat through
3. Transfer meat mixture to casserole dish
4. spread cooking creme on half of each tortilla, fold tortilla in half and cut into quarters
5. layer tortilla quarters on top of casserole to cover
6. top casserole with cheddar cheese
7. bake at 350 for 45 minutes
serve hot and enjoy.

Casserole will be soupy so have plenty of extra tortillas on hand for sopping up the liquid! Delicious!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Original Cooking Creme Submission 2

Well, the philly cooking creme is finally available in stores around here, which gives me the ability to make even more submissions to the cooking creme contest and to play around more with my ingredients. The drawback! I have TONS of leftovers in my fridge! Husband and I can only eat so much! LOL! This week was exhausting so I decided to keep things simple with a quick and easy bean dip recipe. As soon as I was done making it, husband stole the bowl and headed to the living room to watch football with a bag of tortilla chips. I guess it's safe to say he liked it! LOL!

Easy Cheesy Bean Dip

10 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Cooking Creme, original flavor
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 can refried beans
1 cup(s) of prepared salsa
1 cup(s) of shredded mexican cheese blend

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan or microwave safe bowl
Gradually heat on low heat until hot, stirring frequently
Garnish with cooking creme, shredded cheese and/or chopped green onion (optional)
Serve with tortilla chips

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Original Cooking Creme Submission 1

So this week the original cooking creme is being featured. This is the only unflavored variety and, therefore you can use it in both sweet and savory dishes. A lot of people seem to be going with sweet but with spring in my sights and an ever bulging waistline I have decided to stick with savory. Of course, this fried appetizer isn't going to help me win the battle of the bulge! LOL!

Ham and Cheese Croquettes with Creamy Dipping Sauce

6 tbsp. of mirepoix (sauteed carrots, onion and celery, chopped very fine)
2 cup(s) of mashed potatoes, cold
1/2 cup(s) of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup(s) of ham, chopped
10 ounce(s) of cooking creme, original flavor
2 eggs
2 cup(s) of seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp. of chives
1 tsp. of parsley
1 cup(s) of chicken broth
1 pinch of salt and pepper to taste
4 cup(s) of oil for frying

Combine mirepoix, mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese, ham, 1 egg and 3 Tbs cooking creme in a medium sized bowl and stir to combine.

refrigerate mixture to firm it up, if needed

in a small bowl beat remaining egg and spread bread crumbs on a plate

when potato mixture is firm shape into balls, dip each potato ball in egg and roll in bread crumbs to coat.

Heat cooking oil and deep fry croquettes until golden brown. let drain on a paper towel lined plate.

In a small sauce pan combine remaining cooking creme, chives, parsley and chicken broth. Let simmer on low heat stirring frequently until thickened to a dipping consistency - about 15-20 minutes

Serve croquettes with warm dipping sauce. ENJOY!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Garlic Flavor Cooking Creme Recipe

Well, between a giant snowstorm and a ton of bad news getting dropped on me like a safe, I only found the time and motivation to make one submission to the Philadelphia Cooking Creme contest this week. I have to say that this is my favorite flavor so far, but then I am a garlic junkie so that really comes as no surprise. I am a little disappointed that the other recipe I had in my head never came to fruition but I still have the creme so I can always make it later. Still, I think it would have been a knockout. Maybe I will try to adapt the idea for the Santa Fe variety. We shall see. In any event, the one recipe I did make was quite tasty although I was not entirely happy with how my pie crust turned out. I did everything I was supposed to do keep it from getting soggy but it still came out that way. Oh well, it still tasted good! That's the important thing. Anyway, i now present to you my recipe for Roasted vegetable Pie featuring Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Savory Garlic Flavor:

Roasted Vegetable Pie

1 pie crust
3 tomatoes, sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
1 sweet onion, sliced
3 tbsp. of olive oil
2 tsp. of salt
1 egg, beaten
10 ounce(s) of savory garlic flavor cooking creme
1 cup(s) of shredded mozzarella cheese

1. line a deep pie pan with pie crust, cover with foil and prebake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. let cool after baking
2. Line a parchment lined baking sheet with sliced tomatoes, onion, and zucchini.
3. Drizzle vegetables with oil, season with salt and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool.
4. combine egg and cooking creme in a bowl, mix thoroughly.
5. Layer roasted vegetables in pie crust and top with cooking creme mixture
6. top pie with shredded mozzarella cheese
7. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Increase temperature to 400 degrees for last 10 minutes to brown top.
let stand 10-20 minutes before serving


Friday, January 7, 2011

Cooking Creme Submission Number 2!

I have to tell you, I am really learning to LOVE this cooking creme stuff that Philly is putting out. Although I have only experimented with one flavor so far, it's pretty darn delicious! Yesterday I sent in my second and final recipe submission for the Italian Herb and Cheese flavor and I could not be happier with the way the dish turned out. I made my stuffed london broil and tweaked the stuffing recipe using the cooking creme. This stuffing was the best EVER! Once this product hits the shelves I highly recommend giving this a try. The stuffing would be delicious inside just about any cut of meat - seriously!!!

Stuffed london Broil featuring Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Italian Herb and Cheese flavor.

1 Thick cut london broil, butterflied and pounded
10 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Italian cheese and herb flavor
3/4 cup(s) of Fontina Cheese (can susbstitute Mozzarella)
4 Oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 slices hard salami, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 green onions, chopped, green and white parts
1/4 cup(s) of chopped frozen spinach, tharwed and squeezed of excess liquid
1/2 cup(s) of unseasoned panko bread crumbs


1. Open butterflied london broil and pound on both sides to tenderize

2. In a seperate bowl combine remaining ingredients to make stuffing

3. spread stuffing on london broil leaving a 1 inch edge on one side

4. roll london broil, jelly roll style, towards edge with no stuffing

5. once rolled, tie london broil with cooking twine to secure filling

6. place on a rack set in a roasting pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes

7. Remove london broil from oven, tent with foil and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes

8. remove cooking twine and cut into rounds to serve.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year to you!

Well, another year has come and gone - where does the time go! I have to say 2010 wasn't a bad year for me. Certainly better than 2009. I am hoping this upward trend continues, not only for me but for others I know who had a pretty shitty 2010. There are more people on that list than I care to admit. With the start of 2011 also came the start of the recipe submissions for the Philadelphia Cooking Creme recipe contest. After some initial struggling, I finally got my first submission in (YAY). This was a very quick and impromptu concoction, but I have to say, it was delicious. Even my husband who swears up and down that he hates spinach had to admit that it was "pretty f-ing good"! He is so eloquent. No wonder I love him so. LOL!

Spinach and Sopressata Crostini

3 tbsp. of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 loaf crusty bread
10 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Italian Cheese and Herb Flavor
10 ounce(s) of chopped spinach, thawed and drained of excess liquid
1/4 cup(s) of roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup(s) of Hot Sopressata, chopped (can substitute pepperoni, salami or other cured sausage)

Combine olive oil and chopped garlic
slice bread into rounds
brush rounds with garlic and oil mixture and toast lightly under broiler
spread cooking cream onto toasted bread rounds
top cooking creme with a layer of chopped spinach
top spinach layer with a layer of roasted red peppers
top roasted red peppers with chopped sopressata
arrange crostini on a tray and serve