Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Creme Brulee (my version)

My tween has been asking me for weeks to make Creme Brulee. I wonder if this homegirl is turning into a foodie. How many twelve year olds ask repeatedly for their mom to make Creme Brulee. Don't most kids just want a McFlurrie? Finally, I remembered and honored her persistent request

Creme Brulee -

Heat 2 cups of heavy cream in a pot over medium low heat just until it starts to bubble. Make sure it does not come to a boil.

In a medium bowl, mix together 5 egg yolks and 1/3 cup white granulated sugar until smooth. Then add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon Grand Marinier and blend.

Once the creme begins to bubble, slowly pour into the bowl with the egg mixture.

Spoon mixture into ungreased ramekins (should be enough for 4, but mine made 5) and place filled ramekins into a 9x13 baking pan. Fill baking pan halfway up the side of the ramekins with hot tap water and place pan in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until custard is set.

Remove pan from oven and remove ramekins from pan and let cool for 30 minutes. Then place ramekins in the refrigerator, covered for at least 1 to 2 hours to chill.

When ready to serve, let the ramekins sit out for about 15 minutes and then spoon a thin even layer of white granulated sugar over the top of the custard. Flame the sugar with a kitchen torch (or place under the oven broiler) until sugar caramelizes and serve.

Creme Brulee...keeping tweens and their moms close!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Homegirlz Favorite Spicy Chicken Drummettes

I think the homegirlz have figured out that I'm serious about a lighter menu since the weather is getting warmer. The oldest won't eat anything that has "stuff" in it, especially green stuff or chunky stuff. The tween is a "little" more adventurous. She eats salad, but only with Italian dressing. Neither of them care for fish, but will tolerate catfish only if it's fried. I could go on, but I think you get the drift. The homegirlz have come up with a way to help me. They are leaving a list on the fridge of what they want me to cook and what days they want me to cook their requests. Their transparent reasoning is they feel like they can start helping me more. Meanwhile, laundry is not getting folded, their rooms...well, I won't even go there.

I went along with chicken drummettes since the tween was concocting the ingredients. It was actually reeeeallly good! Don't be fooled, these drummettes were not as spicy as you would think once you read and see the method.

Homegirlz Favorite Spicy Chicken Drummettes -

Wash and papertowel dry about 1-1/2 lbs. chicken drumettes and place in a shallow 9x13 baking pan.

In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons seasoning salt, 1-1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, 1-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, 2 tablespoons lemon pepper. Reserve about 1/4 of the dry spice mixutre.

Sprinkle the seasoning over the drummettes to coat evenly, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Whisk together 2 eggs, 1/3 cup milk, 3 tablespoons hot sauce, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Pour 2 cups all-purpose flour in a shallow dish and mix in the reserved dry spice mix.

Heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or deep pot. If using a pot, put about 2 inches of oil in the pot. Heat oil to 350 degrees.

Dredge chicken wings into the egg mixture then into the flour.

Place wings 3 to 4 at a time into the hot oil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through and golden brown.

Remove to a paper towel lined platter and serve.

Teen Homegirl

Tween Homegirl

The homegirlz devoured the first batch. Isn't a picture worth a thousand words?

But wait, the homegirlz thought of everything! They each have their own dipping sauce! One note: these are individual servings...remember? they live and eat alone! lol)

Teen Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons sour cream, 1/4 teaspoons horseradish. 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 pinch of cayenne, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Tween Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons Original Ranch Dressing, 2 teaspoons Louisiana Hot Sauce. Mix together in a small bowl.

I'd love to hear which dipping sauce is a favorite. You have to pick one!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Balsamic Chicken Seared Salad

I love Spring, everything is fresh and crisp, the weather is warming up a bit. The homegirlz are outside more doing their thing which is great because I don't have to hear the bickering. Along with the warmer weather, appetites around here are waning and we prefer lighter evening meals. Balsamic vinegar is one of my favorites and I tried to slip in this salad everywhere I could. But first, don't hate me because I used Iceburg lettuce for this salad. To the foodies, it probably would be better as a spinach salad. I love spinach, but I don't care for fresh spinach salads. So before you scoff at my lettuce choice, embrace the method and use the greens that float your boat.

Balsamic Chicken Seared Salad - Wash whatever greens you desire for your salad base.

Use 2 chicken breast cutlets per person, coat in 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and 1 teaspoon McCormick's Montreal Grill Seasoning and set aside.

Finely chop 3 tablespoons read onion and set aside.

Chop 2 green onions. Chop two strips of center cut bacon, brown and set aside.

Toss lettuce with a handful of baby bella mushrooms and chopped green onions.

Saute red onions in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard.

Add 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.

Stream in about 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, whisking continuously to emulsify the oil into the vinegar/mustard mixture.

Add in the sauteed onions. your dressing is done, set aside. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken cutlets for about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Cut chicken into thin strips. Add dressing to lettuce and toss to thoroughly coat, add bacon pieces and toss again.

Top salad with sliced chicken and feel good that we didn't do pasta with a heavy cream sauce and that you won't have to do extra Pilates tonight to work off dinner.

Don't you feel healthier just looking at this?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Crawfish Fettuccine

I understand some of you may turn your up noses at crawfish but where I come from it's "crawfish and pasta". The reason I have this cooking blog to share with you the things that make their way to my table. Does it taste good? Oh yeah! This is real simple, you have to make to make it tonight!
One note - This method is for about 8 people. You can easily cut it in half.
Crawfish Fettuccine -

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. I know, this looks like five, but my tween was helping and she got skimpy, look at the one on the top to the right.

Saute 2 lbs. of crawfish tails with fat in the butter for about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of cayenne and salt. Add 2 shallots finely chopped or 1/2 a red onion finely chopped, 2 cloves of minced garlic and continue sauteing for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of Lea & Perrins, 2 tablespoons Crystal Hot sauce, juice from 1 lemon and 1-1/2 cups heavy cream.

Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes - until sauce thickens.

Add 1 lb of fettuccine cooked al dente to crawfish sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano and 1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese.

Garnish with chopped green onions.

How can you resist something that looks this yummy?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Manicotti (Great for Picky Eaters)

I know what you are going to say by just scrolling through the pictures, before reading this post. Hmm, this looks like the previous post with the enchiladas. You would probably be close to right. I'll explain my dinner time dilemma. I live with my husband, one tween and one teen. The cute and hunky hubby is not a picky eater but the other two humans are. Every now and then I get away with sneaking in some green things, mushrooms and goat cheese but I have to be REEEAL calculating. This week I'm trying to go easy on the homegirlz since they are have TCAP tests at school all week and I want them to eat what I cook and not scrape it into their napkin and tell me they're full and then fifteen minutes later they're into all the junk food they can find. In fact, my teen and pickiest eater I have EVER seen, thoroughly interrogated me about the ingredients. Spinach - nope, that white chunky cheese stuff (ricotta) - nope, mushrooms - nope, chunky tomato pieces - nope (I had my fingers crossed behind my back), any green stuff of any kind - nope (fingers crossed again). She elected to eat dinner with us and cleaned her plate. I should have gambled and added the shrooms...
This is very easy and your picky and non-picky eaters will love it!
Manicotti -

Boil manicotti shells for 7 minutes, remove from pot with slotted spoon and set aside to cool on wax paper.

While the pasta is cooking, grate about 1/2 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese 1/2 cup of Romano cheese and set aside.

Brown 1 lb. ground sirloin, add 2 cloves minced garlic, salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon basil and 2 tablespoons parsley.

Once meat is browned, drain any accumulated fat and then add 3 to 4 tablespoons of marinara sauce to meat to moisten it up just a bit.

Spoon some marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 oven safe pan; just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

Carefully spoon meat in shells and place in baking dish.

Spoon more marinara sauce over the top of the shells (just a thin layer) and sprinkle Parmesan and Romano cheeses evenly over the shells.

Add an even layer of shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1-1/2 cups). Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Let stand for about 5 minutes to set. Can you not wait to cut into this?

Look at the melted cheese. Ok, Im outta here!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Enchilada Casserole

This is a keeper! I have prepared Enchilada Casserole a few times and I finally have it tweaked to where it's even good enough to have the leftovers fro breakfast. Ok, that sounds gross but I do know people who to that and I'm not one of them; I promise!
Enchilada Casserole -
Chop half of one onion.
2 lbs. flat iron steak - yum!

Slice flat iron steak into thin bite sized pieces.

Brown onion and steak over moderate heat, add salt and black pepper to season.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Finely chop two chipolte peppers (smoked jalapenos), add to pan with meat and onions and blend thoroughly.

In an oven safe 9x13 pan, spoon about 1/3 of enchilada sauce (19 oz. can) in bottom of pan.

Layer flour tortillas over enchilada sauce (it's perfectly ok to munch on only one tortilla at this time).

Spoon about half of the meat over the tortillas.

Repeat with another 1/3 of the enchilada sauce.

Repeat with another layer of the flour tortillas, remainder of meat and enchilada sauce.

Spoon about half of a 16 oz. jar of chunky salsa and sprinkle with cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese.

Loosely cover with foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for thirty minutes.

Let the casserole stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Now relax with a glass of wine and enjoy!