Monday, August 31, 2009

Risotto Fake Out

I love risotto! It is so creamy, so cheesy and so decadent. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. However, having a little monkey running around means I do not have 45 minutes to stand at the stove and stir rice. It's just not happening.

I have seen Rachael Ray make her broken spaghetti risotto a million times and thought about making it, but just never got around to it. I finally decided to try it for myself last week and it was a hit with the family. The husband and little monkey-boy loved it! And it is SO much faster than regular risotto.

You pretty much use the same method as the real thing, but you use broken spaghetti pieces instead of rice. This has become my go-to quick meal. You can add pretty much any meat to it and it's dinner!

We were in such a hurry to eat that I only took a picture of it in the pot. No time for plating and pictures this time. ;)

Click here for Rachael's recipe.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Twist on the Originals

I got this idea when reading about chicken parm burgers on A Taste of Home Cooking. They looked mouthwatering. But, I didn't have ground chicken. I did, however, have some more ground beef in the freezer. I got to thinking about other Italian specialties and I thought of meatballs. I love them, but the hubby can do without them. As I've mentioned before, he prefers meat sauce on his pasta instead of meatballs with sauce. But I really wanted to try making meatballs into a burger, topping with marinara sauce and cheese and see what he thought. If nothing else, it would be something completely different from the every day burger and fries.

It more than met my expectations! T even liked it and went back for seconds.

Meatball Burgers
Source: Me, but I used this recipe as a jumping off point

1 lb. ground beef
1 c. Italian style breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 c. asiago cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Mix all ingredients and form into burgers. Place in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up. Grill until done to your preference. ;) Top with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Toast some buns on the grill right before you take the burgers off and brush with garlic butter.

*Here's a tip about grilling the burgers: Don't flip them until they form a good crust. Otherwise they fall apart kind of easy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Easiest Potatoes. Ever.

No muss. No fuss. No real clean up!

Dice your potatoes. Dice some bell pepper. Sprinkle with grill seasoning. Dot with butter. Wrap in foil. Throw on the grill. 25 minutes later: perfect potatoes!!!

Everything on the foil, ready to go on the grill:

Off the grill. Look at all that steaming goodness!

These were honestly some of the best potatoes I've ever had! I will be doing this a lot from now on!

Our potatoes were served with a garlic and peppercorn pork tenderloin from Smithfield (I think) that I grilled along with the potato packet:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Chili-Wannabe

You know those nights you look in the freezer and pantry and try to come up with something new and different? This was one of those nights. :)

It's kind of a beef, bean & salsa casserole. T said this reminded him of chili. I guess it isn't that much different, just not the typical way I make it; you know tomato sauce and the like.

It turned out really well. I even ate the leftovers which is a big deal if you know me. I'm just not a fan of eating the same thing over and over. I also got the chance to use some of my yummy jalapeno peppers as a topping. I try not to mix the hot peppers into whatever we are eating since I'm afraid it might not sit well on a one year old's tummy. These look red and green because I left them on the vine a little long and they started turning red. They were plenty hot though!!

Salsa Chili Casserole
Source: Me

1 lb. ground beef
1 19 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
1 10 oz. box frozen corn in butter sauce
1 c. salsa (click here for my recipe)
1 c. shredded cheese blend
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tbsp. cumin
1/2 tbsp. ground mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef and drain. Add back to the pan and add beans, corn and spices. Make sure the spices are combined, then add salsa. Dump everything into a casserole dish and cover with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted; about 7 minutes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Some Like It Hot!

I love hot peppers, but I don't discriminate. I also like mild ones like the good old bell's. Here are
some of the peppers my garden produced this year; cayenne, jalapeno and bell.

Quick Appetizer

You know those nights when you get home from being gone all day and the last thing you want to do is fix dinner? Last night was one of those nights for me. I didn't even want to think about what we were going to have, much less fix a full on dinner. Thankfully, my husband doesn't mind eating light and since Logan still eats toddler pre-packaged foods sometimes, it's no big deal. So, last night we had a light dinner of these quick and easy appetizers. Logan actually LOVED them!

Parmesan Basil Pinwheels
Source: I've seen these numerous places, but can't remember a specific person to credit.

2 cans crescent rolls
1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 tbsp. dried basil
pinch of salt

Unroll each can of crescent rolls and pinch the seams together. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Spread mixture on crescent rolls and roll into a large log. Cut into 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces. Bake according the crescent roll package.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Potato Shrimp Cakes with Spicy Sriracha Aioli

Let me tell you, there isn't much on TV these days if you haven't noticed. Therefore, I watch a lot of the Food Network. Today I was watching "Guy's Big Bite" which is not one of my favorites, but like I said, there was nothing on TV. I only continued watching because he was making sweet potato shrimp cakes. I hate sweet potatoes, but I figured there was no reason I couldn't watch and then just use regular, yummy, white potatoes. I liked his recipe ok, but decided to search the web for bloggers who had posted about similar recipes and how they turned out. You really can't base a recipe on a food network chef. I mean, they cook for a living. I want to know how regular people's dishes turn out.
I found a great recipe to use as inspiration and then took one great idea from Guy: marinating the shrimp before adding them to the cake mixture. Below is my recipe:

Potato Shrimp Cakes
Source: Me, with inspiration from Heart and Hearth

2 cups shrimp, raw and chopped
3/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. worchestire sauce
1/2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
3 medium potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
2 medium glaric cloves, pressed
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. jalepeno, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp. cilantro, minced

Mix soy sauce, worchestire, honey, sesame oil and shrimp. Let sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

After prepping all other ingredients, mix together. Drain shrimp from marinade and add the shrimp to the rest of the ingredients. Create flat patties and pan fry in vegetable oil.

Spicy Sriracha Aioli
Source: Me

1/4 cup mayonaise
1 tbsp sriracha hot chili sauce
1 tsp lime juice

Whisk together all ingredients.

If you aren't familiar with Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce this is what it looks like and it can be found even at your local Walmart. Even in Alabama. ;)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oh My Neme Neme

If you have a child, or maybe if you just like cartoons, you may have see Phineas and Ferb.
Here's a picture if you need a visual:
We love it at our house. Logan likes it and they make up the funniest songs. One of which is "My Neme, Neme," a song about the evil guy's nemesis. I wish I knew the name of the tune so you could sing it in your head like I am now. Oh well. If you are completely lost now, don't worry. I'm about to bring it all full circle. ;)

I started thinking of that song because I am posting about my recent nemesis in the kitchen: caramelized onions. I don't know why I am obsessed with making them, but I just can't seem to get it right. No matter how "low and slow" I cook them, they still get crispy!! And they are supposed to be soft, and brown and sweet.

Here is a breakdown of what happens when I attempt them:

Onions in the pan with olive oil over medium heat.

After 5 minutes, still looking good.

After 5 more minutes, starting to get brown. Turned the heat down to medium low.

After 20 minutes total they are brown and crispy, not brown and soft.
They still tasted good, but just not what I was going for. I would love any suggestions!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dinner By Accident

One of Logan's favorite past times these days is to open all the drawers in the kitchen and pull out all my recipes and cook books. While cleaning up his mess for the 3rd time yesterday, I came across a Rachael Ray cookbook with tabs for recipes I wanted to try. Of course I had never gotten around to any of them, so I decided I would make one for dinner. One look at the pasta carbonara and I was sold. I've made it once before using Tyler Florence's recipe and it was ok, but I wanted to try it again with a different recipe.

As for the protein part of the meal, chicken won the toss up and I decided to blacken it with a blackening recipe I recently saw on my friend Dela's website. She used it on fish, as was my initial plan, but I figured it would be good on chicken too. It was FANTASTIC! Thank you Dela! I will be using this any time blackening is required from now on. It was a little spicy for Logan, so he had some smoked sausage I threw on the grill with the chicken.

Blackened Chicken Carbonara:

Pasta Carbonara

Source: Rachael Ray, my changes/additions in italics

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound pasta, such as spaghetti or rigatoni
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan)
1/4 pound pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped (I used regular bacon)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped (I found I was out [gasp!] and so I minced some onion and used it instead)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used water because I was even out of chicken stock which is my usual substitute for wine)
2 large egg yolks
Freshly grated Romano cheese
Handful of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (Omitted)

1. Put a large saucepot of water on to boil. Add a liberal amount of salt and the pasta. Cook to al dente, about 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta. Brown pancetta 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add wine and stir up all the pan drippings.

3. In a separate bowl, beat yolks, then add 1 large ladleful (about 1/2 cup) of the pasta cooking water. This tempers the eggs and keeps them from scrambling when added to the pasta.

4. Drain pasta well and add it directly to the skillet with pancetta and oil. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss rapidly to coat the pasta without cooking the egg. Remove pan from heat and add a big handful of cheese, lots of pepper, and a little salt. Continue to toss and turn the pasta until it soaks up egg mixture and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley and extra grated Romano.

Blackening Recipe
Soure: Dela from Not Your Mama's Southern Cooking

2 teaspoons ground paprika
4 teaspoons dried leaf thyme (I used basil because I was out of thyme and I love basil!)
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to your taste
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I omitted because I didn't have any)

I actually doubled this and had plenty left over to use later!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blueberries Again!

My little chef in training!

Here's some breaking news for most of you. This is actually the first internet announcement. You are getting the info before Facebook or my mommy blog. We are putting our house on the market in the next few weeks. I will probably go into more detail regarding the reasons on my other blog, but suffice it to say we have simply decided to downsize.
Therefore, I am cleaning out the freezer, slowly but surely; hence blueberries again. We only had a few left so I decided to use them up by making a blueberry cobbler. I used the same recipe as the southern apple cobbler I previously posted, but substituted blueberries and omitted the cinnamon and brown sugar. It was delicious! I love the thick crust on this cobbler! I encourage you to try this recipe with your favorite fruit!