Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A Roll By Any Other Name

We are in full Fall mode here in New England. Even though the trees haven't really started turning, morning temperatures are brisk making it REALLY hard to get out of bed. While everyone else is talking about pumpkin spice lattes (gross), I am all about the comfort food that doesn't really go well with 98 degree weather with 98% humidity. You know those recipes that require long periods on the stove or in the oven and are best eaten piping hot. Soups, stews, and the subject of this post, GOLABKI!or is it Golumpki? Halupki? Sarma? No matter what you call it, it is a stuffed cabbage roll and it is delicious! To makes things even better, I recently was informed that boiling the head of cabbage and peeling off the leaves one by one is no longer required. HALLELUJAH!!! All you need to do is freeze that head of cabbage solid and then let it defrost. The leaves peel right off and you don't have to burn your fingers. SWEET! You do still need to cut out the thick veins where necessary. This is a basic and relatively small batch recipe since the hubs turns his nose up at cabbage, but it still manages to turn out a couple dozen rolls (some were small - like cabbage dumplings). Hope you like it as much as I do.

Cabbage Rolls
1 small to medium sized cabbage

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 cup white rice, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
1 small onion chopped fine
2 tbl salt and pepper
2 tbl hopped fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot, grated (optional)

1 bottle tomato juice
6 slices good quality cooked bacon
2 cups apple juice (optional)
bay leaves (optional)

Freeze cabbage overnight and allow to thaw in a colander set in a bowl
When thawed, remove leaves cutting away and thick veins.
Dry and set aside

Mix the filling ingredients together until fully incorporated.
Place a few spoonfuls of filling mixture into the cabbage leaf and roll like a burrito (click here for a tutorial)

Once cabbage rolls are all rolled, coat the bottom of a deep roasting pan with tomato juice. Place half of the bacon on the bottom of the pan. Place cabbage rolls in the pan. Multiple layers are ok. Once all the rolls are in, add remaining bacon to the pan and pour apple juice and remaining tomato juice over the top to cover rolls. Add bay leaves if using. Cover tightly with foil or a lid and bake a 350F for 2-3 hours or until cabbage is tender. Serve with sour cream.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Bad Service, Good Cheesecake

So this weekend I made a cheesecake for some of the fellows who helped us move out new mattress into the house. We paid for "white glove service" from Bob's Discount furniture but were given the middle finger. So, after the delivery persons failed to do their job, we recruited some people to do it for them. As a token of thanks, I made the following cheesecake for them. I received nothing but positive reviews from them. I adapted the recipe slightly from the one posted on the website: lifeloveandsugar.com.

CINNAMON ROLL CHEESECAKE (adapted from www.lifeloveandsugar.com)

1 package Biscoff cookies, pulverized into crumbs
6 tbsp butter, melted

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon

CINNAMON FILLING (I only ended up using about 3/4 of this in the cheesecake)
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
5 tbsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup flour
12 tbsp butter, melted

2 tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4–5 tbsp milk

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine crust ingredients and mix well.
3. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
4. Bake crust for 10 minutes then remove and set aside.
5. Cover the outsides of the pan with aluminum foil and set aside.

1. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and flour until combined (Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter, which can cause cracks). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating slowly and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
4. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Beat on low speed until well combined. Set aside.
5. In another medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cinnamon and flour.
6. Stir in melted butter.
7. Break apart cinnamon mixture and sprinkle pieces over the bottom of the crust, about 1/4 of the cinnamon mixture.
8. Spread about 1/3 of the cheesecake filling over the cinnamon mixture.
9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 two more times, for a total of three layers of cinnamon and three layers of cheesecake filling.
10. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon mixture over top of cheesecake.
11. Place springform pan (covered with aluminum foil) inside another pan. Fill outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan.
8. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
9. Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in oven with door closed for 30 minutes.
10. Crack oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for about 5 minutes.
11. Remove cheesecake from oven and chill.

1. Combine cream cheese and butter and mix until smooth.
2. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
3. Add milk and mix until smooth.
4. Once cheesecake is cool and firm, remove from springform pan and place on serving plate. Cover with icing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Odds and Ends

So, I had a refrigerator full of partially eaten random things this weekend. Normally, I don't mind having a good selection of bits and pieces to choose from for snacking but the collection of random things was getting a bit out of control. I thought about it and came up with a way to use up about 75% of the stuff in one dish. Perfect. Not only did this recipe work. It was really freaking good. Not too spicy and HUGE quantities!

I used the remains of a whole chicken that I had roasted earlier in the week but you could skip the roasting part and just cook down a whole chicken and pick the meat or even buy a rotisserie chicken at the store and use that.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

1 whole chicken, roasted then simmered and picked clean (reserve simmering liquid)
1 Cup prepared Blue Cheese dressing (we used Wish Bone)
4 oz bleu cheese crumbles
1, 5 oz bottle Franks Red Hot
1 cup bread crumbs
2 TB olive oil

1 1/2 lb (dried) pasta - cooked (I cooked pasta in the reserved chicken cooking liquid)
4 oz smoked sharp cheddar, shredded
4 oz Gruyere Cheese, shredded
4 oz Gouda Cheese, shredded
16 oz velveeta cheese, cubed
1 pint half and half
S & P to taste

Preheat oven to 375F
In a large mixing bowl combine chicken, salad dressing, hot sauce and blue cheese. Stir to combine, set aside
In a zip lock bag, combine bread crumbs and oil. Shake until oil is distributed and bread crumbs are coasted, set aside.
Cook pasta until done and drain is a colander
While pasta is draining return pot to stove and combine half and half and cheeses over low heat, Stir until completely melted. Add cooked pasta and stir to combine.
Once combine pour pasta mixture into a baking dish, top with chicken mixture, and then top with breadcrumbs
Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Broil for a couple minutes to brown up crumbs, if desired.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Path of Least Resistance

I am not a new year resolution type of person because, quite frankly, I break resolutions almost as soon as I am done making them. Such a pointless waste of time. However, this year I did make a promise to myself to take more time for me, to put myself first for a change and, most importantly, to NOT apologize or feel guilty about it. And while I do love my time in front of the stove cooking up delicious things, I am doing it for ME now and nobody else. If the hubs wants baked goods to take to work, he can stop and pick some up on the way in unless I already made myself something, in which case the leftovers are fair game.

This recipe came about at the perfect time for me because it is a game changer where pizza is involved. I HATE making pizza at home because it is a lot of work and never comes out as good as take out. Even if you buy pre-made dough. Stretching that shit out is a total pain in the ass. Then regular home ovens aren't hot enough to give you that crust so what is the damn point? Yeah, you saved a few bucks but now your tired and cranky with a messy kitchen and a shitty pizza. Just stop. Please.

Try this instead. It is NOT, I repeat, NOT a traditional pizza recipe. What it IS, is a fantastic alternative to traditional pizza using a batter based crust that takes only a few minutes to make and won't trash your kitchen in the process. The batter has no leaveners but is not cakey or doughy. It is more like a soft bread dough. I personally prefer this cooled to room temperature because the crust firms up a bit and is more reminiscent of traditional pizza but is good either way. With this recipe in your arsenal, you will be able to crank out a decent pizza-esque dish at any time YOU have a hankering for pizza without trashing your kitchen!

Batter Crust Pizza (adapted from PlainChicken)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
Meat toppings of choice
Pre-cooked vegetable toppings of choice
1-1/2 cups pizza sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Spray a 15x10-inch rimmed, foil-lined, baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
Whisk together flour, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, pepper, eggs and milk.
Pour into prepared baking sheet. Top with your meat and vegetable toppings of choice.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven. Spread pizza sauce evenly over pizza and top with mozzarella cheese.
Return to oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

NOTE: Even with cooking spray, this pizza can be tough to get out of the pan. We recommend using foil to make things a tad easier

NOTE: if using vegetable toppings, saute or roast first to remove excess moisture and top pizza along with the meat toppings.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Oh, Deer!

So, my neighbor gifted me with 5 lbs of ground venison this Christmas. SCORE! I love game meats. Elk and caribou are my favorites followed by bison, moose, venison and antelope. I have tried alligator, bear, and kangaroo - wasn't too keen on those. Anyway, with the onset of colder weather, I decided to make some venison chopped steak for dinner. It was divine! Hubs is not big on game meat so I am happy to say the remaining 4 pounds are all MINE!

A couple of special steps were necessary for this recipe due to the natural leanness of venison. The first was to make a pomade to add fat to the meat. The second was using a good red wine to mellow out any gaminess in the meat. To accomplish this I mixed bread, wine, and a good amount of bacon fat into a paste and mixed that into the meat and let it sit overnight. I didn't originally intend to let it sit but life got in the way and I had to wait a day to cook this meal.

Chopped Venison Steak

1 lb ground venison
1-2 slices stale white bread (I used and old hot dog bun)
2-3 T good red wine (I used a cabernet)
3 T rendered bacon fat, softened to room temp
1 Tbs Penzey's Chicago Steak Seasoning
2-3 shakes worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp gravy master or kitchen bouquet
1 tsp dried shallots

1 - Mix bread, wine, and bacon fat into a paste (e.g. pomade)
2 - add pomade and remaining seasonings to meat mixture and incorporate into the ground venison thoroughly.
3 - Set aside or refrigerate overnight

4 - Oil and heat a cast iron skillet until hot
5 - Shape meat mixture into at least 4 hamburger steaks
6 - Add steaks to hot skillet and brown on each side
7 - Remove steaks from pan and set aside.
8 - Add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic to pan and quickly saute
9 - Deglaze pan with a splash of red wine
10 - Return steaks to skillet and add 1-2 cups beef broth (or water + bouillon cube)
11 - add the following seasoning to the skillet:

1 bay leaf
2 juniper berries
1 pinch of thyme

12 - reduce heat, cover and simmer until cooked through.
Thicken sauce with a slurry of cornstarch and water to make a gravy. Enjoy

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Day Late, Dollar Short

Atkins, South Beach, Keto all mean the same thing in my book - LOW CARB! I did the Atkins thing back when it was cool and I lost a TON of weight. Even managed to keep it off for a while BUT old habits die hard and eventually I gained it all back and then some. Now KETO is all the rage and to me it's all the same damn thing. I have been restricting my carb intake because I would like to lose weight but I am not killing myself over it. Pizza has always been the Achilles heel of these diets for me,,,, well that and pasta, and potatoes, and rice. OK I am the Carbo Queen! Anyway, I have been messing with low carb bread substitutes to try and make sticking to the low carb thing a little easier and I finally found something I think I like. I just made a pizza crust and I would not guess that is has cauliflower in it for one minute. The texture is bready and the flavor is not eggy!. It is a melding of cauliflower pizza crust recipe and fat head dough.Even my husband has proclaimed that it was something he could eat. That is really saying something, lol.

Low Carb Pizza Crust

1 1/2 C mozzarella Cheese, shredded
2T cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp ground psyllium husks and chia seeds
2 tsp prepared pesto
1 1/2C almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Cups chopped cauliflower (cauliflower rice), steamed and dried

preheat over to 425F

Place mozzarella and cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted and combined
While cheeses are melting, beat eggs with psyllium/chia seeds and pesto
In the bowl of a stand mixer place almond flour, baking soda, salt and prepared cauliflower.
When cheeses are melted add to stand mixer bowl and mix on medium speed
Add eggs
Continue mixing until fully combined. Add more almond flour if mixture seems to wet.

Oil a foil lined baking sheet. Turn out mixture onto baking sheet and press out to desired thickness for pizza or shape into buns. Bake until golden (approx 12-15 minutes)

For pizza, allow to cool after first bake then top with desired pizza topping and bake again at 425F for 10-15 minutes

NOTE: I had bought the psyllium husks in an attempt at another low carb bread recipe that I did not like at all. I believe the brand was NOW and I got it on amazon. It wasn't cheap so I am glad to have found a use for the leftovers. I simply add equal parts whole chia seeds and the ground psyllium husks in a coffee grinder and spin them to make a fine powder.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Holiday Overload

I never thought that these words would EVER cross my lips, but......I am so sick of food right now! I am thinking salad for the next three weeks, at least!