Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chicken Parmigiana

I've been looking for very simple dishes that I can keep on the bland side ingredient wise but still have a nice flavor to them so that I can eat them and my husband doesn't get bored.

With my sister coming over last night for a night of girl talk and scrabble, the pressure was on! She was going to make me eat! So I put together a simple Chicken Parmigiana that was both mild enough for me to eat and flavorful enough that everyone enjoyed it!

(and sorry about the picture quality. I didn't realize how blurry it was till I downloaded it!)

Chicken Parmigiana

Ingredients:
3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups flour
3 eggs beaten (with a little water added)
1 1/2 cups fine bread crumbs or panko (with 1/4 cup grated parmesian added if you wish)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups shredded mozzerella or cheese blend
Italian herbs/parsley (optional)
1 Quart Home Canned Tomatoes (1 can diced plus 1 can stewed of storebought)
1 shallot
1 small yellow onion
1 can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
2 tbs tomato paste
Italian seasoning (optional)

1 lb spaghetti noodles

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Pour oil in pan and heat to medium high heat. Dip chicken breasts in egg, then flour, then egg again, then breadcrumbs. Place in heated oil and brown both sides (about 4 minutes each).

While chicken is browning, chop onion and shallot and place in blender with tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Pulse till tomatoes are not in chuncks and mixture is blended.

Place browned chicken in 9 x 13 casserole dish. Pour tomatoe sauce over it and spread cheese over top of chicken breasts. BAke for about 30 minutes till cheese is golden and bubbly and chicken is cooked through.

While chicken is in oven, cook pasta in salted boiling water till tender. Serve chicken with sauce over pasta.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homemade BUTTER!

A friend of mine (Nikki) and I braved making butter. It looked so simple. How hard could it be?

Homemade Butter
Ingredients:
Cream (heavy whipping cream or whipping cream...we tried both) (1 pint makes about 1 1/2 sticks)
salt (optional)

Directions:
Use a KA Mixer with paddle attachment and set on medium high setting for about 15-20 minutes. The cream will get frothy, then almost look whipped..this part of the process takes the longest...then in the last 2-3 minutes it will clump up and turn yellow as the buttermilk sloshes around the bottom. This last part happens amazingly fast and within a few seconds you have a yellow ball of butter rolling around.

Take the butter out and run it under cold water while kneading out any extra buttermilk. At this point add your salt and knead into the butter. Place in wax paper or tupperware.

You will get about a 1/2 cup of buttermilk out of it that can be used in biscuits etc.

I am amazed at how easy this was. Is it cost effective..probably not. We figured up the price and its cheaper to buy it in the store. HOWEVER, if you want to go organic and/or local, and price isn't an issue, than you can buy cream locally and its a little cheaper than buying butter locally from what I've seen. I think its worth knowing how to do it and a good idea for flavored butters for parties/gifts etc. Everyone should try it and it gives you an appreciation for how are foods we take for granted are produced and how much work it would take to do this the old fashioned way...I can't even imagine churning butter!

Monday, January 25, 2010

MENU MONDAY!

Before I get into the Menu Monday, let's talk briefly about my scatterbrainedness. I came on to post Menu Monday like a good girl...ON MONDAY. Yet I never finished nor published the post. How nice of me right? So here it is WEDNESDAY and my blog has sat here neglected with FOUR (count them FOUR) posts in half stages of completion.

I really have not been that bad. I've made things..really! (Haven't eaten them, but I've made them!) So here we go.

Sunday: For Brunch- Avocado Breakfast sammies
Dinner- Rosemary Onion Tomato Foccacia, Grilled chicken, Fried Potatoes

Monday: Homemade Butter!
Chopped Steak, Corn on the Cob, and Banana Pudding

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Chicken Parmigiana (maybe)

Thursday: Turkey Burgers

Friday: Probably some kind of Soup...maybe homemade chicken noodle since we are now expecting SNOW!

Rosemary, Onion, Tomato Foccacia

This recipe was adapted from the book "Making Fresh Bread" by Love Food (an imprint of Paragon Books) that was given to me by my friend Rachel.

It is a lovely recipe that is simple and was a big hit with the guys at work. My darling husband was not too fond of it since he doesn't like cooked tomato on bread and it did send my allergies into overdrive (not sure if it was the yeast or the rosemary) but it had a nice crisp crust, fluffy inside, and light aromatic flavor.
Oh how I longed to eat more of this lovely bread. (sigh).

Rosemary, Onion, Tomato Foccacia Bread

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbs dried rosemary
6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 fresh tomotoes, sliced and then halved
One onion sliced into rings
1 tsp sea salt

Directions:
Sift flour and salt together into bowl. Add yeast and most of rosemary (save some for sprinkling). Make a well in the middle and pour in 4 tbs of oil. Mix Quickly. Place in KAmixer turn on low using paddle and slowly mix in water. Dough will be crumbly. Turn onto dusted board and knead for 2 minutes.

Place ball into oiled bowl. Cover with plastic or a damp warm towel and set in a warm spot for 2 hours to rise. Brush a cookie sheet with oil. Turn out the dough onto the floured board and punch down. Knead for 1 minute. Put the dough onto cookie sheet and spread flat and even. Cover with plastic or damp warm towel and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 475. Whisk remaining oil with a little water. Dip your fingers in it and press into dough to dimple it. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary. Cover with tomatoes and onion rings.

Reduce the oven to 425 and bake the foccacia for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool and serve warm.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Southern Fried Chicken

I have never been able to do Fried Chicken. It was the one thing on my Southern Girl passport that was not checked off and it bugged me greatly. My grandma was a helluva chicken fryer. My Momma has made some mean fried chicken too, but I mostly remember my grandma's fried chicken thighs and biscuits. She would always have those around it seemed. So it has been one of my great disappointments that I couldn't fry chicken.

I finally conquered it. Thanks to a little obscure tip I pulled out of a SouthernLiving magazine in the Dr.'s office. (See something good DID come out of those copays!) And Yes, I'm one of those that swipes pages and magazines out of the waiting room...but rest assured, its only if there's a damn good recipe in it.

Southern Fried Chicken

Ingredients:
Buttermilk
One Whole Cut up Chicken with skin and bones
3 cups flour in a bag with salt and pepper
Oil

Directions:
Rinse and dry chicken pieces. Place in a large bowl and cover completely with buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in refridgerator for atleast 2 hours but up to overnight (8-12 hours).
Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil to about 275-350 degrees in large skillet. You want about 1/4-1/2 inche of oil in pan.
Take two pieces of chicken at a time and place in flour bag and shake until chicken is coated. Place pieces in hot oil and cook about 5 minutes on each side until Crispy and golden brown. Place pieces on a baking sheet (one with sides) and repeat until all pieces have been cooked.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes to finish cooking chicken.

This gives you perfectly crispy fried chicken that is cooked all the way through and tender and juicy. For real southern flair serve it up with Paula's Cheesy Garlic Grits. Pure Southern Heaven.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Simple Chicken Alfredo

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking Book. I needed a simple quick recipe for chicken and I really wanted a creamy pasta. With a little modification, this was perfect for what I had on hand.

Simple Chicken Alfredo
Ingredients:
Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts
8 tbs butter (one stick)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded/grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb fettucine or angel hair noodles (any noodles will work really)

Directions:
Grill chicken (I use George Foreman Grill). Cook pasta in salted water till tender. In a sauce pan, melt butter. Add cream and stir. Season with Salt and Pepper. Add cheese and stir. As sauce gets thick with the melting cheese (one-two minutes) add drained noodles and toss gently until all noodles are coated. Serve with chicken breast or cut up the chicken into chuncks and mix in with noodles.

So easy, simple and delicious.

Beef Stew and Buttermilk Biscuits!

My Momma makes the BEST Beef Stew and biscuits. This was probably one of my top 5 dishes growing up. I've tried several beef stew recipes and many of them include tomato/barbeque base broths which I find pretty much disgusting. I've come across a few that I like well enough but nothing beats the way my momma does it.

I was so desperate for some of her beef stew that I decided to give it another shot. This time, I came pretty darn close and I was so proud.

Beef Stew

Ingredients:
1 lb stew beef
flour
1/4 cup or so of oil
1 diced yellow onion
1 stick celery
2 fat carrots, peeled and coined
2 tbs chopped garlic
3-4 tbs butter
3 cups chicken broth (you can do 4 broth, 4 water if you prefer)
5 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 small/medium potatoes peeled/diced

Directions:
Roll beef chuncks in flour and brown in hot oil, drain oil and place beef in large stock pot. Saute the onion and garlic in butter. After onions start to look translucent, add carrots and cook for about a minute. Add celergy and cook maybe a minute more. Pour into stock pot.

Add broth and water and potatoes to stock pot. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are cooked through. If broth is too soupy, take about 2 cups out and whisk some flour into it (1/8 of a cup) and re-added to pot...the flour will thicken the broth. Salt and pepper to taste and serve over warm buttermilk biscuits.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:
5 cups of flour
/4 cup crisco
2 cups buttermilk

Directions:
Use pastry cutter to mix crisco into flour. Add buttermilk and cut in with pastry cutter. Once it starts getting to be a sticky dough, I like to use my hands. If its TOO sticky you can add a bit more flour. Turn dough out on a floured surface and roll out and use a biscuit cutter if you wish. For "cathead biscuits" just form large balls in your hand and then press down. This is how momma made them. These biscuits are thick and perfect for "sopping up" the gravy. If you want a FLUFFY buttermilk biscuit you have to add yeast to the dough to get the airy rise.

Turkey Patty Melts

In my quest to not only eat healthier but to eat things less likely to send me scurrying for an EPI pen, I've entered the realm of using lots of ground turkey.

Rather than just substitute I'm looking for things that can be flavorful and preferable as ground turkey, so I decided to try my hand at turkey burgers, but not JUST turkey burgers, Turkey Patty Melts.

Turkey Patty Melts

Ingredients:
Block cheese (your choice, I used Chedder and Monterey Jack) cut into slices
1 onion
1 lb turkey
salt and pepper
1 egg
3/4 cup bread crumbs
8 pieces of bread
mayo/mustard
1/2 stick of butter (healthy what?)

Directions:
In large bowl mix, 1/2 of the onion (finely chopped), salt and pepper, egg and bread crumbs. Pat into four burger patties and grill on a George Foreman grill or grill pan.
While patties are cooking, melt 1-2 tbs butter in pan and caramelize the other 1/2 of the onion cut into rings.
Place mayo/mustard on bread, add cheese slices on both sides, top with onions and turkey patties. Melt the rest of the butter (1 tbs per sandwich) and grill sandwich till cheese is melted and bread is golden brown and crisp.

DELICIOUS! Okay, so despite the use of turkey, the butter kind of makes it not so healthy but its all in proportion people and I love my butter!

Three Lonely Vendors

Visit my newest Examiner article. This trip is what sparked off the cabbage soup and sweet potato sticks!

Momma's Southern Goulash

Goulash is derived from a Hungarian word for Cattle Stockman- Gulyas. In food circles, it can mean a variety of things but is basically a soup or stew made up of vegetables, beef and onions.

Growing up, Goulash was a comfort close to my heart that was a simple thick hearty version of spaghetti in essence. Its basic. It's simple and its cheesy gooey deliciousness brings me home no matter where I am, but only if my momma makes it!

Bless her heart she did! So here is the recipe (finally, I know you have been waiting on it!)

Momma's Southern Goulash

Ingredients:
1/2 box of elbow macaroni noodles (cooked al dente)
1 Jar of home canned tomatoes (or 1 can of diced and 1 can of stewed store bought)
1/2 block KRAFT American Cheese
One Onion
1/2 green pepper
salt, pepper
2 tbs butter
2 tbs garlic
1 lb ground beef

Directions:
Brown beef. Run tomatoes in blender or food processor to course chop them (don't want runny sauce but do not want chunks).
Chop fine pepper, onion and garlic and saute in the butter. Pour tomatoes in and simmer. Add browned beef and noodles. Cook till noodles are tender. Add shredded cheese. When cheese is melted, serve warm!

BTW: Using a cast iron pan only makes it better!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Sticks

Another Farmer's Market FIND: Sweet Potatoes! I love these little suckers and they are so good for you! One of my co-workers calls them "veggies on steroids" because of how many vitamins they give you.

As a southern girl, I'm all about adding butter, sugar and cinnamon to my sweet potatoes whether it be baked, fried, casseroled or sweet potato pie. To mix it up a bit though I thought I would try a healtheir version. These came out truly wonderful and the flavor was still sweet but delicate.

Sweet Potato Sticks

Ingredients:
Sweet Potatoes
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
Peel two large sweet potatoes, cut off ends and cut in half (not lengthwise). Julienne potatoes and lay flat on baking pan. Brush with olive oil and gently salt and pepper them. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Flip them over and bake for about 15 minutes more. (longer if you want them crispy).

Cabbage Soup

A trip to the farmer's market this weekend, yielded up some tasty January veggies: cabbage (only slightly damaged by the cold), sweet potatoes, asparagus (imported), pears and apples!

So on a rainy, foggy January day a bowl of soup is always in order.

Cabbage Soup

Ingredients:
4tbs butter
1 1/2 onions, diced
2 tbs chopped garlic
4 cups chicken broth (2 cans)
2 cups water
2 large carrots, coined
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
One head of cabbage, diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Directions: In stock pan, saute onions and garlic in butter. When onions are translucent, add in chicken broth and water. Add carrots and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add in cabbage. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This would pair well with spiced sausage but since I can't eat that, we just had it plain. Steve complained about the lack of meat so I don't think we will become vegetarians any time soon! LOL
Shown above with Sweet Potato Sticks

LowFat Applebutter Cake

I'm going to count this as a failure, but not one of mine. I made the cake to the recipe's instructions and it came out as a nice cake. The taste is very bland. (Low fat right? I should have expected this). There is NO SUGAR in this recipe, AT ALL. I greatly questioned this when making it, however, I used HOMEMADE Cinnamon Applebutter (which I will post a recipe for this coming fall when I make more). My applebutter is very flavorful and sweet so I thought "okay, maybe it will be okay."

WRONG. You can taste a hint of the apple butter flavor but thats it. Just a hint. This cake is very bland. However, I always post my failures and winners and to me this was bland but to someone out there who may be diabetic or prefer lightly flavored food, it may be a fantastic answer to their prayers. (yea, okay.)

To this Southern girl, it was a perfect desecration of two cups of perfectly good applebutter! LOL My girl Tonya is dropping by later to pick up the cake. Maybe she will comment on her families opinion of it!


Low Fat Applebutter Cake
Ingredients:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
pinch of baking powder
2 cups apple butter
2 egg whites
2 cups finely chopped apples (I used two large apples)

Directions:
Combine the dry ingredients and stir. Add the apple butter and egg whites and mix well. Fold in the apple pieces.

Pour into greased bundt pan and bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Cool.

Menu Monday

Well folks, I'm actually feeling much better this week and was able to cook this weekend! YAY! So tonight I'm going to blitz the blog with recipes for:
Momma's Southern Ghoulash
Turkey Patty Melts
Cabbage Soup
Sweet Potato Sticks
LowFat Applebutter Cake

and a few new articles for The Examiner! (Okay, that's my goal, I don't know if I can squeeze all that in!)

As I sit here on my lunch break eating yummy leftovers, I realized I needed to come up with a menu for this week! I haven't thought too much about it because I'm waiting on the allergist appt tomorrow to give me some answers to the bizarness that has been my life in the past few weeks. However, I think I can manage a few dishes. I most likely will NOT be trying anything to drastically new this week until the allergy panels come back but I am planning on doing some simple baking.

This weeks dinner Menu:

Beefstew with buttermilk biscuits
Chicken and Asparagus Fettucine
Lasagna
Turkey Meatloaf
Chicken Parmiagiana
Burgers and pasta salad

Baking Adventures:
Homemade Bread
Cookies

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stuffed Pork chops

Pork chops were on sale this week! So like the good Eastern European girl I am, I am going to stuff them with bread and fat and have a wonderful meal.
For the stuffing;
If you choose, you may certainly use a pre made stuffing.
I had some beautifully stale sourdough bread in my fridge just begging to be made into stuffing. So I cubed it up and put it in a cake pan with some olive oil and a handful of herbs and salt and pepper and into the oven it went to toast up all yummy-like. As soon as I could smell it upstairs I came-a-running and poured some chicken stock over the top of it to soften up the pieces. Why, you ask, put it in the oven to toast up then? Because Brown = Flavor.
Then, to your pork chops. Butterfly those bad boys. Meaning what? You ask. Slice their thickness in half, but not all the way through. So they open up like butterfly wings and you have a nice pocket for which to put that tasty stuffing.
Pack the stuffing in tightly. You don't want it to fall out when they are baking. Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 155 degrees and then let them sit for 10 minutes for the carryover cooking to happen (the temp should be at 160 in the end).

It's waffle time, it's waffle time. Won't you have some waffles of mine!


I love me some sour cream waffles. Light and fluffy and oh so delicious. I searched high and low for this recipe and finally found it in my Joy of Cooking book. It is so perfect.
1 Cup cake flour, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Beat in a separate bowl until light
3 egg YOLKS (don't toss your whites!)
2 cups sour cream
Combine your wet and your dry ingredients with a few swift strokes.
Beat until stiff, but not dry:
3 egg WHITES
Then fold the whites into the batter.
Pour onto your waffle griddle and thank me later.

I added some blueberries to some waffles too for a fun tasty twist.

Minestrone Soup from Stephanie

Sorry it has been a while. I meant to help Krista out while her lungs were on the fritz. But here we go. I made a phenomenal (if I do say so myself) minestrone soup.
Here's what you need:
Stock
Carrots
Onion
Green beans
Kidney beans
Crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (I hate tomato chunks, but do what you like)
Tomato paste
Garlic
Dried rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme (or the italian seasoning mix in your cupboard)
Parmesan cheese rind
1 lb box of pasta of your choice

I had some chicken stock and a ham bone, so I made broth with the bone and combined the two.
There it is simmering away. Then I had to let it sit in my tundra of a garage to chill for a day or so. This way, I can scrape the fat off the top and the flavors have a chance to get cozy and wonderful together. Keep in mind, you can use stock in a box too. Don't be scared away!






Dice up your veggies and pop them into the pot. Please for the love of all that is holy, drain your beans and rinse them under fast running water until they stop "sudsing." If you don't, then I claim no
responsibility for the gas that will ensue. That thick sodium packed liquid your beans are packed in will throw your gut for a very unpleasant and uncomfortable night. Just sayin'.
Pour in your crushed tomatoes (I had made some tomato sauce
the other day and just used my leftovers) and your tomato paste and herbs.
Cut up your parmesan rind into a few big chunks (yes, you can leave it out and use a few tablespoons of grated parm) and plop that in your pot too. And finally, a box of pasta. I had shells. Let your pasta cook till al dente and then top with a sprinkle of more parmesan and Serve!








Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Southern Momma to the Rescue!

I'm feeling better. Thoughts of food no longer makes me want to hurl. Smells no longer waft pass my nose passing me by like the much needed oxygen. I no longer fear to leave a room without an inhaler in my pocket and the sight of pork does not send me cowering in a closet with an EPI pen clutched to my breast.

To top it off my Momma came out of yonder Mountains and made me her Southern Ghoulash! SQUEEEEE. Elbow macaroni dripping with cheesy tomato goodness. I hovered over a bowl like a dog over a bone, shoveling spoonfulls into my mouth like I hadn't eaten in a week. (oh wait, that's right, I haven't!-9 lbs lost in less than 5 days, I think I'll be fine even if I left my dignity at the front door.) I think I may have even licked the bowl when Mom and Dad weren't looking! (I did manage to stop at one bowl though because I knew my poor stomach would make me pay later after introducing food back into it).

She even left me fresh carrot salad for breakfast and a dozen farm fresh eggs ( I see baking in my weekend future).

So dear brave souls who have patiently waited for my medical comeback, the blog is on the mend and this weekend I will even post a recipe to Momma's Southern Ghoulash (as I paid close attention while she made it-but don't be surpised as I'm still guessing since she doesn't measure a darn thing in true southern momma fashion!).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu Monday: Sick Edition

I won't bore you with my continued suffering that I'm thinking is something far greater than a food allergy attack. For now, please note that my blog hiatus is not because I wish it to be.

I did make a cake this weekend and it was beautiful..but my smell and tastes are so off that I threw the entire thing in the trash because it smelled like an orange creamcicle which made me want to gag.

I have no idea how I will feel the rest of this week but I do know I am excited my sister is coming tonight and I'm going to have her help me make Easy Chicken Pot Pie.

I'm hoping I feel better this week and I really want to try Beth's Crockpot Lasagna!

Other than that folks, its going to be a fly by what I think I can stomach kind of week. Bear with me please. I promise when I'm mended I will indulge in a cooking orgy. Rumor has it Stephanie is planning one this weekend as well!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mild Turkey Spaghetti

So we all know my current nightmare of recovering from a food allergy that took a turn for the worst right? Right. Well just to catch you up, two days after the ER visit I was still suffering from the spreading rash, coughing, feeling tight in the chest and numb lips, so I left work and hotfooted it to the Dr. where I was treated to breathing treatments and a diagnosis of 70% lung capacity due to swelling in the airways. So now I'm on a steroid inhaler in addition to the regular steroids, xanax (to keep me calm and my lung tissue relaxed), an emergency inhaler, benedryl, and if all else fails an EPI pen just in case. Back to being a science experiment and this time its not for infertility.

So, I'm afraid to eat ANYTHING until I go to the allergist or atleast get the allergy blood panel back from my regular doctor. Even chicken noodle soup is a scary thought because of the high sodium and MSG content. So what does that mean for my precious foodie blog and demanding southern palate? Experimentation in a mild lighter fair. Turkey Spaghetti hit the spot and after a few helpings over the past two days, no severe threats to my current situation so its all good!

For those who have allergies or just trying to lighten up your fair to drop some of the holiday weight, I hope this recipe will help you out.

Mild Turkey Spaghetti
Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey Browned and crumbled
1 lb turkey sausage (mild) browned and crumbled
3 cans of diced tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 chopped onion
1 tbs crushed garlic
1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 lb spaghetti noodles
Shredded cheddar/mozzerella blend cheese to top (optional)

Directions:
After browning turkey and turkey sausage in pan move to large stock pot, melt 2-3 tbs butter in drippings (if any) of skillet and saute onion and garlic till onion is translucent. Pour onion/garlic mixture into stock pot with turkey. Add remaining ingredients (except noodles) and simmer for about an hour. Meanwhile cook noodles. When noodles are al dente drain them and add desired amount (depending whether you like a dryer spaghetti or a soupier spaghetti) to sauce pot and let them continue to cook in sauce until they are tender. Serve hot topped with finely shredded cheese. YUM.

Zucchini Almond Biscotti

I wanted a nice Southern Biscotti while the inlaws were in so I tried my hand at creating a soothing blend between a scrumptious zucchini bread and a flavorful almond biscotti. It turned out pretty well. Biscotti simply means twice baked so I started with a basic Zucchini bread recipe that is tried and true, but flavored it up with some slivered almonds and almond extract. Then cut it in slices and placed on parchment and rebaked on a low temp to remove the moisture. I think it got a little too done but it paired excellently with coffee. Enjoy! I think this would be perfect in the summer too with fresh zuchini to enjoy on a Saturday morning overlooking the garden with a cup of coffee. YUM!

Zucchini Almond Bread

Ingredients:
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cups flour (self rising)
2tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 c. slivered almonds

Directions:
Beat together eggs, sugar, oil, zucchini. Slowly add in dry ingredients. Finish with your extracts and then fold in almonds. Bake in 13 x 9 greased pan for 1 hour at 350.

When it has cooled, turn loaf out and cut into biscotti strips. Place strips on parchment paper in oven at 200. Cook each side for about an hour to slowly remove moisture but do not burn. Keep an eye on them, you may choose to lower the heat or the cooking times if you like them a little less crispy on the inside.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just Desserts

I DVR'd a lifetime movie awhile back and just got around to watching it.

Synopsis: a Very young Lauren Holly teams up with an Italian pastry chef from the Bronx with attitude to enter the Golden Whisk contest for the "cooking channel." Can we say spin off of Food Network's Challenge? Ofcourse they fall in love, beat the enemy (a poser french chef who is really an American), yadda yadda yadda.

You can see the plot a mile away but it was still a cute movie. I'm obsessed with cooking movies. Anything to do with cooking, I want to watch it. They rarely give you any hints but I love watching people cook and seeing what dishes I may want to try. One of these days I will try my hand at pastry. Until then, I will enjoy the Food Network Challenges and movies about pastry.

If you happen to catch this movie though, its worth turning on while you fold laundry and dream about what you will cook next.

Examiner Article

Just a quick note to let you know that I have started writing articles for Examiner.com about the Piedmont Traid Farmer's Market. My first one is now published. The examiner site is one that pays per hit of the article so I hope you will all check out my articles over there! Thanks!

Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Risotto

Unfortunately, this will be the last pork recipe to grace the pages of my blog. This is the recipe that sent my mild allergy to my beloved piggy meat over the edge and landed me in the Emergency Room last night. It is indeed a sad day for my cooking adventures as I have a deep and abiding love affair for all things bacon and sausage. To show how greatly this love affair is: I have approximately 50 lbs of pork meat in my freezer: pork roasts, pork tenderloins, homemade sausage, bratwurst, wild hog slabs. People buy sections of cow? I buy Pig like that too! Maybe I'll have a giveaway contest on my blog for Pork! LOL

Anyway, I will not regale you with the details of my horrific allergic reaction as it will detract further from my new recipe (that I will never get to make again). Maybe I will remember this recipe more fondly then it actually warrants but what can I say, its the last pork I shall ever eat. ::cries a bit::

Go forth into the sweet kitchen yonder dear piggy meat.

Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Risotto

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 tbs butter
2 tbs oil
2 tbs crushed garlic
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups white wine
5 links Sweet Italian Sausage
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and diced
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 cup shredded romano
3/4 cup mozzerella
1/4 cup chopped fresh italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat stock in sauce pan on stove. (bring to boil and then lower to simmer). Pierce sausage and place in heated oil to sear outsides. Add about 1/2 inch of water (do this AWAY from burner as adding water to hot oil/grease can make it pop and splatter causing a fire expecially if you are using a gas stove). Simmer sausages, turning occasionally until almost done. Remove and coin sausage links.

The water should have cooked out of the pan leaving oily sausage drippings. To this add your butter, onion, garlic and peppers. Cook until tender. Add the rice and cook until coated well. Begin adding chicken stock about a half cup at a time. Wait until liquid is absorbed and add more. About half way through the chicken stock, add your white wine. When liquid is absorbed continue with chicken stock.

When you are down to the last of the chicken stock use the empty saute pan to reheat your sausage coins and brown them off. I add my parsley in here so it sautes (will turn black though so if you want the rich green color add it to the rice or at the very end). (you can also use dried if you are going to add it to the rice or as garnish).

When rice is done and creamy, add your cheeses and top with sausage coins.

Serve immediately.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Menu Monday: Best of Intentions

Well, I had this grand plan that I was going to come home, fight with my treadmill (aka workout), fix a fabulous dinner of Italian Sausage and Pepper Risotto, blog and sip coffee in front of the TV after a nice hot shower.

WRONG. My darling husband has caught the flu bug or some nasty germcritter and was pitifully crawling out the door to go sleep through class. Bless his heart. Ofcourse he asked me to venture back out into the frigid night to get him more medicine and chicken noodle soup. *sigh* So off I went, to Walmart (aka HELL ON EARTH in the guise of a Retail Store). I stood in the massive isles staring around me trying to decide what on earth I was going to buy without my menu plan for the week. I'm supposed to be preparing fabulous healthy dishes, not stocking up on sodium laden canned soup! Campbell's is what he wants, so campbell's is what he gets. I am of the firm belief that everyone should get what they want when they are sick and the good Lord knows, my husband shoveled enough Campbell's soup down my throat a few months back.

So this week is going to be off kilter. I'm not sure what I bought exactly but $75.00 later, here I am with a general working idea. Discounting the Campbell's soup tonight, I'm going to attempt this menu:

Sausage and Red Pepper Risotto with Champagne
Spinach and Ham Quiche
Ground Turkey Meatloaf
Whole Wheat Bread
Healthy Nut/fruit muffins (a little vague but I'll have to see what I am in the mood for on the day I decide to bake)!


We shall see how it goes. I'm sure there will be other items but not necessarily blog worthy. (Really, how many times do you want to see a salad?) For now, I will leave you with a future taste of these recipes to come and the image of me sneaking up on my treadmill (it tends to kick my butt).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Red Wine Risotto

My In-laws left earlier today, but the weekend was filled with family, children, laughs and lots of food. Whenever I have people over I tend to experiment on them as there are people to eat all the food I make. If you want to be a guinea pig, give me a call. *wink*

My FIL and I share a joy of wine. To dress up the traditional New Years fare of Seasoned Greens and Black Eyed Peas (representing Cash and coin), Pork (representing Renewal and success), I added a Red Wine Risotto.

Or as everyone else called it: Purple Rice. So the kids wouldn't eat it and my SIL tried "choking" it down because she didn't want to hurt my feelings, my husband and future BIL just picked on me about it though Josh (future BIL) did admit to me later that it wasn't that bad (ofcourse this was out of earshot of my husband and SIL..LOL). It really was enjoyable IF YOU LIKE WINE. It is very tangy and holds that merlot taste. I quite liked it and FIL went back for seconds so I consider it a success, jeers and all. Afterall, it could not have been that bad since it got gone VERY quickly. So quickly in fact that I didn't have time to snap a picture of it. (Just use your imagination, it really did look like purple rice).

Red Wine Risotto
Slightly adapted from Jane Price's Appetizers

Ingredients:
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 stick butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbs crushes/finely chopped garlic
1 tbs dried thyme (I would add 2 but I ran out)
1 cup risotto rice
2 cups Merlot (or dry Red wine)
1 cup grated parmesan

Directions:
Heat chicken stock on stove. After bringing to boil, put on low simmer.

In a skillet, melt butter and add onion and garlic. Saute until tender but not browned. Add thyme and rice. Stir until all are coated.

Add half the red wine and cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add half cup of chicken stock, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Repeat with another 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Add the remaining Red Wine and stir until absorbed. Repeat with two more additions of chicken stock. Once rice is tender and creamy add Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.