Monday, October 2, 2017

Seasonal Flavor

Here it is. The obligatory Fall pumpkin spice recipe. Like I have said before, I have nothing against pumpkin spice anything but the hoopla it generates, I find ridiculous. Regardless, I am not above indulging in the flavor of the season. This was an experimental recipe and it seemed to generate lots of compliments so I hope you like it too.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Scones (Adapted from www.inspiredtaste.net)
Scones
2-3C all-purpose flour
1/3 cup  brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon molasses 

3 tablespoons half and half or cream
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 bag cinnamon chips

Simple Sugar Glaze 
1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
1 to 2 tablespoons half and half or cream

Pumpkin Spice Glaze 
1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 to 2 tablespoons half and half or cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 400F
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 Cups flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together until blended. 
Cut the butter into small cubes then scatter over the flour mixture. Use two knives or a pastry cutter to “cut” the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few pea-sized bits of butter, about 5 minutes. (You could also use a food processor for this – if using, add flour mixture to the bowl of a food processor, add the cold butter cubes. Then pulse three to four times).
In a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, molasses, half and half, egg, sour cream, and vanilla extract until blended.
Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour and butter mixture until a soft dough forms. Add additional flour, 1/2 Cup at a time, if dough is too wet. Add cinnamon chips. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Knead three to four times until it comes together.  
Pat the dough into a circle (a rolling pin can be used here). Cut the circle into even sized triangles (I got 10). 
Place scones onto a parchment lined baking sheet then bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.   Use a fork to drizzle with glazes (recipe below).
Glazes 
For the simple sugar glaze, add the sugar to a medium bowl then add one tablespoon of half and half in increment stirring in between until desired consistency is achieved. . Stir then judge the consistency. If when you pick a spoon up and out of the glaze it slowly drizzles back into the glaze, it is fine. If it is too thick, add a little more half and half (a little goes a long way, here). If it is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.
In another bowl, make the pumpkin spice glaze. Combine the sugar, pumpkin puree, spices then add one tablespoon of half and half. Stir and check consistency. Adjust the same way as you would the simple glaze. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

South of the Border

So, the Hubs and I just got back from a most fantastic, week long stay in sunny Cabo San Lucas. OMG, was it the BEST! I love Mexico and Cabo did not disappoint. We relaxed, we drank, we ate, we surprised my husband by having his family meet us there. It was one of the best vacations ever! Last night he was craving brownies and, not having any store shit in the house, I decided to make some from scratch using the bar of Mexican dark chocolate that I brought home. I think this will be my go to recipe for brownies from now on. They were so incredibly good. The brand of chocolate was Maria Tepoztlan in the black box (dark). Now, if you read online reviews of this product you will see people have a lot of strong opinions about it. I ate some of it straight up and, at first, I didn't care for it very much but it kind of grew on me. I went back for more. Love it or hate it, it made a damn fine brownie.  The chocolate bar is not divided into squares like regular bakers chocolate so I did my best to approximate the amount I used. My base recipe was an old recipe that made over 3 dozen brownies. I halved it because I do not need that many brownies in my house. So, that is why my measurements are kind of odd. Regardless, these things were out of this world. I highly recommend that you try them.



Mexican Chocolate Brownies

1 1/2 sticks butter
2-3 ounces Mexican Dark Chocolate
1 1/8 Cup flour, sifted
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 2/3 C sugar
2 heaping Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tbs espresso powder
1/4 C vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat over to 325F and grease a 9"x9" baking dish

Over low heat melt butter and Mexican chocolate in a small sauce pan. Set aside to cool

Sift flour and salt onto a plate and set aside

In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs until foamy. Whisk in sugar and then cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Whisk in vanilla and espresso powder. slowly add flour mixture and cocoa powder and whisk to combine

Pour batter into baking dish and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Brownies should still be gooey in the center.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Waste Not, Want Not

The Hubs and I have a vacation coming up (YAY!). So in preparation, I am trying to use up things in my refrigerator that just won't keep while we are gone. One of those things is a package of linguica sausage that we have had in there for what seems like forever. I had originally wanted to make enchiladas out of it but, being pressed for time, I decided to go the casserole route. Hubs kept asking me what was for dinner and all I could say was, "Something cheesy". I honestly had no idea what I was going to do. I quickly browsed the pantry and grabbed some things I thought would work well together and started at it. I am happy to report it came out really well. We practically ate the entire thing! I have no idea what to call it though since it was a strange combination of Portuguese and Tex Mex flavors. All I can say is it was damn tasty.

Chicken And Linguica Casserole

1 large chicken breast, poached and chopped (reserve cooking liquid)
2 Linguica sausage patties, chopped
1/2 large onion, diced
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs Adobo seasoning
1 can Rotel
1/2 can nacho cheese soup
1 can red enchilada sauce
10 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat over to 350F
In a large frying pan add oil and linguica sausage and fry until sausage begins to crisp. Add oinions and continue frying until softened. Add chopped chicken and Rotel and saute and 3 or 4 minutes. Add nacho cheese soup and stir to incorporate. Add reserved chicken poaching liquid if needed to ensure full blending of the soup with the other ingredients. Remove from heat.

Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with a thin layer of enchilada sauce. Cover sauce with a layer of corn tortillas. Add half of the chicken mixture for the next layer. Top mixture with another layer of tortillas. Add a think layer of enchilada sauce and top with 1 Cup shredded Cheddar Cheese. Repeat layers 1 more time to use up remaining ingredients.

Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes-1 hour until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Let stand before serving.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tastes of Summer

It has been a very harrowing week. We are in the process of moving (YUCK) and it has pretty much overwhelmed us. Then this week we lost a very dear friend when a careless and impaired teenager plowed into him while he was on his motorcycle. He was rear-ended and never saw it coming. He didn't stand a chance. We said our good byes to him in the ICU on Monday and yesterday he was taken off life support. He was such a good person and are hearts are heavy that he was taken from us so tragically. Needless to say, we haven't had much for an appetite lately but we try to keep moving forward and stay busy lest we dwell on our loss. I came up with this recipe as a way to use up some farm share vegetables as well as some veal cutlets that my mother gave me. It was pretty tasty. I made my own pesto using basil, garlic scapes, parmesan cheese, and walnuts but if all you have is store bought, by all means use it. Splurge for a good brand though. This meal is real easy to make and is done in just a few minutes. It's great when time is of the essence or if you just don't feel like expending a lot of energy but still want a tasty something to eat.

Veal Caprese

1 Cup Prepared Pesto
5-6 small veal cutlets
1 tomato, sliced
6-7 slices of fresh mozzarella

Pound cutlets with a meat mallet to tenderize
Marinade veal in pesto sauce for 2 hours or overnight.
Turn on oven broiler and let heat up
On stove heat up and over proof pan.
When pan is hot, place veal cutlets in a single layer
Top cutlets with tomato slices, and cheese
Place pan under broiler until cheese is melted and begins to brown. By this time the veal should be cooked through. Serve with pasta or zoodles.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

We're Jammin'

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

Sweet Onion Jam

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

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Holiday Things

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

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

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Stuff It!

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Friday Wine Day

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cold Weather Win

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

All for Me

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

Chicken Stuffed Poblanos

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

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Talking Turkey

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

Erika's Turkey Meatloaf

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

Preheat oven to 350F

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

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

Farro with Roasted Vegetables 

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

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


Monday, February 13, 2017

Old School

In the summer time I love to hit the outdoor flea markets in search of ancient treasures. I have to admit that over the years I have found some really cool and interesting things. I still regret not buying the victorian olive pitter I saw. When I went back the following weekend the vendor had sold it. Even he regretted letting it go. It was really cool. Vintage pyrex and cut glass servingware are always on my radar, as well as good, old cast iron. I just love that stuff! I must say that over the years I have collected some nice pieces but it seems that they are becoming harder to find....cheaply that is. Sometimes I shake my head when I go to the flea and see the prices that some people are asking. This is a flea market not antiques road show! Oh and that show flea market flip. I laugh so hard! I used to live near the Elephants Trunk and I can tell you those vendors never let their stuff go that cheaply. You know it's all for TV! But back on point. The other thing I always look for are vintage cookbooks. Especially the old church fundraiser types. They are easy to spot because they are usually small booklets. This past summer I scored a whole stack of them for like $3. What a steal. The ones with dates in them range from 1936 to 1949. Now, I will admit some of the recipes were a little strange to me like Pork Cake (whaaat???) and Tuna Fish, Pineapple and Banana Salad. But there are some real winners in there too. Especially, the desserts and muffins. Huckleberry pancakes is on my list of things to try and soon as I find a source for huckleberries. I don't think I have ever seen them for sale here in the northeast. I winder if I could get them a whole foods for $80/lb (haha). If you are really lucky there will be some handwritten favorites written in the back or notes made in the margin identifying favorite recipes or good modifications. Yesterday, I was perusing one of those old books. It was not dated but was published by the Sumner Volunteer Fire Department in Sumner, Maine. The recipe was for something called Coffee Squares. Sounds good right! I had all the ingredients on hand so I decided to give it a go. I did make a couple of modifications. The recipe called for margarine (I told you it was a vintage recipe). I opted to use half butter and half crisco. I also added a teaspoon of espresso powder to up the coffee flavor and I added a teaspoon of butter vanilla flavoring since I used crisco. Rather than rewrite the recipe I took a picture of it. The notes in the margin are mine.


The resulting dessert was something between a cake and a brownie and it was delicious. I used slivered almonds for the nuts because that is what I had on hand, but really anything would work. Next time I might try toasted hazelnuts but walnuts or pecans would also go well. I also recommend lining your pan with parchment. I greased mine but it was still tough getting these babies out.


Friday, February 3, 2017

A Taste Of Philly

Philadelphia may be famous for cheese steaks but that is not the only sandwich this city is known for. They also make a serious roast pork sandwich! Personally, I think the Philly style roast pork Italian is far better than ANY cheese steak. There is certainly no shortage of BAD cheese steaks in that city but the pork always is a hit. The 2 most popular locales for the roast Pork Italian are DiNic's in the Reading Market right downtown and Tony Luke's in South Philly. On a recent trip through the Philly Airport I was greeted with a Tony Luke right there in the Terminal. Damned if I didn't get sandwiches on may way out and on my way back! So yesterday, as I was staring in my deep freezer looking for inspiration for something different for dinner, I happened upon a pork roast WAY in the back. The light went on! I was going to recreate those sandwiches I love so much. After a little research, I realized I wouldn't be able to do it exactly the way they do. It takes them 3 days to to it right! They season the pork the first day, slow roast it the second, and serve it the third. For me, it was a 1 day event. As a result, my pork wasn't quite as flavorful (it was still damn good) and it could not be sliced like they do in the sandwich shop. In order for that you need to chill the meat, then slice it, and reheat it in it's juices. SO, my pork was more pulled in texture. Still delicious! Also essentisl for this sandwich are a good, sharp provolone and a GOOD crusty roll. Do NOT use any pre-bagged bread aisle rolls. Go to the bakery and get the good bread. It need to be sturdy enough to hold this sandwich together. I took a 30 minute drive to hit the Italian market for the good bread and cheese. They also have pre made broccoli rabe (rapini) which also made my life a hell of a lot easier. If you don't have access to prepared broccoli rabe and have to make it yourself I highly recommend Lidia Bastianich's recipe. You can find it here.

Philly Style Roast Pork

1 Pork Rib Roast
1 head garlic, separate and peel cloves
2 Tbs fresh rosemary
2 Tbs parsley
1 Tbs salt
2 tsp black pepper
4 Tbs olive oil
2 Cups white wine

Pre heat over to 275

Debone and butterfly rib roast, remove fat cap
Add garlic, herbs and olive oil to a food processor and chop until fine.
Rub herb and garlic mixture all over pork roast
Roll and tie pork roast

At this point you can place the roast into the refrigerator overnight to really let the seasoning permeate the meat

OR

Place roast into a baking pan and add white wine, also add the bones and some of the fat that was trimmed away.
Cover tightly with foil and roast for 5-6 hours.

Once roasted, Ideally you should let if cool and refrigerate overnight. This will allow the meat to rest and reabsorb its juices. It will also become sliceable.

OR

Let cool until you are able to handle the meat without burning yourself. Slice into thick pieces, the meat will crumble. Place meat back into pan with juices for a few minutes while you prepare the sandwiches.

Assemble Sandwiches

For the sandwiches, slice open rolls and add a layer of sharp provolone. Add the porck pieces, top with warm broccoli rabe, pour a couple spoonfuls of the pork juices over the sandwich (Do not skip this step). Devour!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's OK to be Blue

It is OK to be Blue.....CHEESE! I never used to like blue cheese but all of a sudden I find I can't get enough of it. Funny how tastes change over time. Whenever the hubs and I go out to eat these days blue cheese is always my salad dressing of choice. I even ask for blue cheese dressing on my Cobb Salad, which (if made correctly) already comes with blue cheese! I can't seem to get enough of it!  I have also always noticed how much better restaurant blue cheese dressing is compared to anything you can buy in the store. Of the store brands, I like Wish Bone blue cheese dressing the best but it still doesn't compare to making it yourself. This way you can really load it with cheese. Here is my recipe for blue cheese dressing. I won't claim it is the BEST ever, but it's pretty darn tasty!

Erika's Blue Cheese Dressing
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/3 Cup half and half
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp cayanne pepper
7 oz blue cheese, crumbled. (adjust to your level of cheesiness!)

Mix all indredients except blue cheese until smooth. Stir in blue cheese crumbles.

Yields about 1 qt of dressing

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sausage Memories

When I was in High School, there was a little restaurant down the street from my school that served the best breakfast sausage I have ever had. They were big, thin patties and lots of paprika and pepper in them. They were a little orangish from all the spice. To this day I have yet to find any that rivaled theirs. The place was called Clown Galley and it was creepy as fuck with all the clown paintings and statues and shit but, hands down, best breakfast in town.  The place is long gone and is now a chinese restaurant but I still long for that breakfast sausage. I have been using a spice blend from Penzey's for the past few years and it is good but today I decided to try making my own. Here is my mix:

Basic Breakfast Sausage

2 pounds ground pork
1/4 C (loose) brown sugar
1Tbs kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp bells poultry seasoning
2 tsp hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground sage

Mix well and fry. I did a quick test by nuking a little bit of the mix. I totally overcooked it but it tasted pretty good. I am sure I will be tweaking this the more I use it but it's nice to have a base recipe to work with!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Sausage, Cheese, and Mushrooms

Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday. Ours was nice albeit smaller than in years past. Everybody seemed to be broke as hell this year. Let's hope things start looking up this new year. One of the new recipes I tried this year was a sausage stuffed mushroom recipe. As usual, I had way more filling than I could fit in the caps so I came up with this recipe as a means to use up all the leftover filling. I have to say it came our great. Both hubby and I really enjoyed the end product served with rice and leftover Christmas vegetables (I had green beans and he had corn).

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts Stuffed With Sausage Mushrooms and Cheese
 
 NOTE: The filling recipe was used to stuff 2 packages of mini portabella mushroon caps (Fill caps and bake at 350F for 20 minutes) with the leftover filling sufficient to stuff 2 chicken breasts.

For the Filling
2/3 brick cream cheese
1/2 pound sausage (I used Jone's Brand)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 Cup portabella mushroom stems, chopped
1/4 Cup white wine
2-3 dashes worcestershire sauce
1/4 Cup romano cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp black pepper

Brown sausage in a skillet, breaking into small pieces, until cooked through. Drain and place sausage in a bowl to cool.
Return skillet to stove and saute mushrooms, leeks and garlic over low heat until soft. Add worcestershire sauce
Deglaze with white wine and let wine cook away
When wine has evaporated, transfer vegetables to bowl with sausage and let cool.
Once cooled, stir in cheeses, egg, and black pepper until fully incorporated.

For the Chicken
2 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
1 rasher of sliced bacon

Butterfly each chicken breast and pound until a uniform 1/4 inch thickness
Spread filling mixture on chicken breasts leaving 1/4 inch allowance along one edge.
Roll chicken breasts towards the edge with the allowance to keep filling from squishing out
Carefully wrap the rolled breast with strips of bacon to keep them from unrolling. Secure with toothpick where needed

Place bacon wrapped chicken breasts on a rack in a roasting pan and bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes.
When chicken is almost done, turn on broiler and broil until bacon is crisp. Turn bundles over and continue to broil the underside until bacon is crisp. Let stand a few minutes before serving.