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!