Thursday, February 28, 2008

Meatloaf Braciole

I haven't lived in very many places, I'm just on my second "place". New Orleans is unique in the fact that people for the most part had a set weekly dinner schedule. I don't mean they ate the same meal every Tuesday, etc.; and not every family had the same set schedule. Most people in New Orleans had Red Beans and Rice on Mondays. We didn't, we usually had what my mom called "quickie" meals; like hot dogs, hamburgers, soup and sanwhiches. In New Orleans and I don't know why, but Wednesday is typically Italian day for meals even in my home growing up and now that I have a home of my own. Most of the restaurants in New Orleans have a spaghetti and meatball or lasagne lunch or dinner special. This my easy way of making braciole with out the flank steak.

Braciole - In a medium bowl make a mixture using 1-1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs, 2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1 small onion finely chopped, 1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper and 3/4 cup milk. Blend ingredients to moisten. In a large bowl blend 1 lb. of lean ground beef, 1 lb. ground Italian sauage, salt, fresh cracked black pepper and 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs, 2 cloves of garlic minced, 1 egg and 3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Blend the ingredients, don't overwork the meat. This is the tricky part but very important. Place a sheet of waxed paper on a large baking sheet, dumonsp the meat from the bowl to the middle of baking sheet. Take another large piece of waxed paper and place on top of meat. Take another large baking sheet and place on top of second sheet of waxed paper. Press down on the top baking sheet to spread the meat out in a layer about 1/2 inch thick and approximately 6 inches by 12 inches. One you have pressed the meat out, put 6 slices of proscuitto di parma on the meat sheet, then spread a thin layer of the bread mixture on top and on top of that place 3 slices of provolone cheese. Now take the long side of the meat sheet, grab the waxed paper and use it to roll the meat into a log. Don't get the paper in between, use it to grip and roll the meat tightly. Place the log, seam side down in a large baking dish and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour. While braciole is baking, add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter to a pan. When butter has melted into the oil add 4 oz baby bella mushrooms to the pan butter. Saute mushrooms 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour to the pan and cook about 3 minutes to cook off flour. Stir 1 cup red wine into the flour and mushrooms, scrape up the pan drippings and break up any lumps. Reduce wine 1 minute, then stir in 1 cup beef broth and 2 tablesppons tomato paste. Stir to blen then add 1/2 tablespoons of dried oregano, salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Ten minutes before meat is done baste braciole with a couple of spoonfuls of sauce and continue cooking. When done, remove braciole from oven, let cool 5 minutes before slicing. Use remaining sauce to mix with cooked Gemelli pasta and serve.

Yum, Wednesdays aren't so bad afterall!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lo Mein

Today I'm in the mood for an Asian dish for dinner. You might remember in one of my previous posts, I mentioned it ain't easy finding good Asian food in a small town located in the foothills of the Smokies. Of course the home girlz will fuss. They like Lo Mein, they just don't like when I add mushrooms or sprouts to any dish - to them it's unnecessary and gross. To their dad and me, mushroom are always a welcomed treat. I guess we're unecessary and gross ~sigh~.

Lo Mein - First in a small bowl make your sauce, which is 3 tablespoons hoisin, 3 tablespoons Tamari (aged soy sauce - you can use regular soy sauce), 3 tablespoons water and 2 teaspoons hot sauce (don't use Tabasco). Blend with a wire whisk and set sauce aside. Cut into thin strips, about 2 to 3 inches long, one package of chicken breast fillets and 3 or 4 thin pork chops. Season with salt, black pepper and coriander and reserve. Boil one pound spaghetti in salted water. While spaghetti is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large non-stick pan or wok. Once oil is heated add 3 large eggs and scramble until just cooked and not runny. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 2 more tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan and add seasoned meat and stir fry for 4 to 5 minutes and remove from pan. Add one red or green bell pepper (or half of both - great color) cut into thin strips, 2 inches of fresh grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon dry ginger), 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 small can of drained water chestnuts, 4 oz. bella or shitake mushrooms, sliced, and 1 big handful of bean sprouts (optional). Stir fry veggies and seasonings for 3 to 4 minutes, add meat back to pan and blend together, then pour the drained cooked spaghetti on top of meat and veggies and blend together. Now add 3 green onions cut into thin strips about 2 inches long and scrambled eggs (break scrambled eggs into smaller pieces while tossing) and toss. Remove pan to a cool burner and pour sauce over everything and toss to coat everything with sauce and serve.

I bet when I take leftovers to work tomorrow for lunch, my lunch goes missing. ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jerk Chicken,Spicy Rice Cooker Rice & Dessert!

The weather here has been cold, overcast and damp. I have been trying to think of something to cook for Oscar night that would perk up the whole family and would also be quick. I came up with a spicy blend of flavors with a light and refreshing dessert with my family's favorite ingredient, chocolate!

Jerk Chicken - For jerk sauce, in a food processor combine 2 teaspoons ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper, 1 onion cut up, 5 cloves garlic, 2 harbinger peppers and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Puree until pretty smooth. Place one chicken cut up in a large glass dish (9 x 13) and pour 1 cup of lime juice over the chicken and half of the jerk sauce (your eyes will water when you do this), toss to coat all of the chicken pieces. Now pour the rest of the jerk sauce over it the top of the chicken and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove chicken from marinade and place the pieces skin side up, on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until cooked through.

Spicy Rice Cooker Rice - Into Rice cooker add 1-1/2 cups washed Jasmine rice, 1 packet of taco seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon chipotlte powder, one 4 oz. can green chilies and 3 cups chicken broth. Cook until rice cooker timer goes off and fluff with fork and serve.

Chocolate Pie - In a double boiler melt two 1 oz. squares of semi-sweet baker's chocolate, one 14 oz. can of condensed milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir constantly until mixture is smooth and thick. Gradually add 1/4 cup hot water, keep stirring to blend in water. Once all of the water is added, continue cooking and stirring for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (put wrap directly on top of chocolate mixture so a "skin" does not form) and refrigerate for one hour to chill. Once mixture is completely chilled fold in 1 cup of whipping cream whipped and pour into graham cracker pie shell. Chill for 4 hours and serve. Garnish with whipped cream or shaved chocolate.

Enjoy Oscar Night!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Smoky Mountain Spaghetti

My family loves pasta and this is a quick and easy meal and a nice change from traditional spaghetti.

Smoky Mountain Spaghetti - Cook 1 lb. of spaghetti or angel hair pasta to al dente in salted water. While you're waiting for the spaghetti water to come to a boil, heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Once oil is heated add 3 to 4 slices of bacon cubed. Crisp bacon and remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl lined with a paper towel to absorb excess grease. Leave just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot and add 1 lb. lean ground beef to pot and crumble it as it browns add salt and pepper to taste. Once the beef has browned, drain off any excess grease then add 1 onion chopped, 4 cloves garlic minced and blend into meat. Season the meat with salt and pepper, 2 to 3 teaspoons hot sauce, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 tablespoon of Lea & Perrins. Now add 1/2 cup beer to deglaze the pot. Cook 5 minutes more then stir in one 14 oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes and one 8 oz. can of tomato sauce and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Blend cooked spaghetti into meat sauce and adjust seasonings. Serve and garnish with grated cheddar or monterey jack cheese, bacon and chopped green onions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Red Beans and Rice N'Awlins Style Ya'll

Now I know ya'll thought this might be my first post, but I had to wait until a Monday when I had time to cook (actually a Sunday) this savory dish that is traditionally served on Mondays in N'Awlins. The story behind Red Beans and Rice being served on Mondays is back in the day, Monday was wash day. Dinner needed to be something that could cook all day on the stove and didn't need to be watched too closely. Also, beans and rice was an economical dish and after whooping it up for Sunday dinner, I guess people needed to be a bit more conservative in the beginning of the week but not economical on taste. This is a staple for our family even if are 600 and some odd miles from New Orleans. This is a keeper!

Red Beans and Rice - Soak 1 pound of red kidney beans overnight in cold water in a large bowl. This will greatly reduce the cooking time of the beans. Soaking will soften the beans. When you check the beans in the morning you will note they have plumped up, just add cold water to cover the beans until you are ready to start cooking. In a large heavy pot add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot brown off 1 lb. of smoked pork sausage, remove from pot and set aside. Add 1 more tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter, then add 1 onion chopped, 2 ribs celery chopped, 4 cloves garlic minced, and 1/2 lb. smoked cubed ham (optional). Saute approximately 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add smoked sausage and beans. Blend well with vegetables and cook 2-3 minutes. Add enough cold water to cover beans by approximately 2 inches and add 2 bay leaves and 2 teaspoons dried sweet basil. Bring to a rolling boil and allow to cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. Reduce heat to simmer and cook approximately 1 hour or until beans are tender. Stir occasionally, beans will settle at the bottom of the pot. Add 3 tablespoons chopped parsley and 2 green onions, chopped. Once beans are cooked season to taste with salt (very important do not add salt until beans are soft, adding salt before hand will make beans hard) and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Use a spoon and mash approximately 1/3 of the beans against the side of the pot to create a creamy gravy. Once the beans are tender and creamy, they are ready to be served over hot white rice. This is one of those dishes that tastes better if it is cooked a day ahead of time.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Coq Au Vin & Mashed Potatoes

I haven't posted in a couple of days because I haven't been cooking. My husband and I had dinner out to celebrate our wedding anniversay. We also have been enjoying a warm spell in the mountains which induced my husband to grill, so I've had a couple of nights off and I couldn't remember where the kichen was located.

Coq Au Vin is French I'm told, for Chicken cooked with wine. I haven't made this in quite some time and decided to give this old standby a another try.

Coq Au Vin - Use a 3 to 4 pound chicken cut up and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper chicken on both sides and set aside. Pour 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and fry 5 slices of pancetta (or bacon) diced in the oil until brown and crispy. Remove pancetta (or bacon) from pan and set aside. Place chicken in pot, a few pieces at a time and brown on both sides, remove from pot and set aside. Add 1 more tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to pot and add one onion sliced and 3/4 pack of baby carrots to the pot and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the onions have started to brown slightly, add 4 cloves of garlic minced and cook a minute or two and add 3/4 cup brandy, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper; let this cook for 5 minutes then add chicken and pancetta back to the pot. Now add 1 cup of chicken broth, 2 cups burgundy wine and 1-1/2 teaspoons dried tyme leaves and let this come up to a simmer. Once the pot comes to a good simmer, place tigh fitting lid on pot and place pot in a preheated 250 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove pot from oven to stove over medium heat and blend 1 tablespoon of room temperature butter and 1-1/2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour in a small bowl to make a doughy mixture - add this to stew and blend with a spoon and add about 8 ounces of pearl onions (fresh or frozen) and let simmer. Meanwhile place 1-1/2 tablespoons of butter to a saute pan and saute one container of fresh mushrooms until they turn golden brown, then add mushrooms to the stew. Serve hot with mashed potatoes.

Mashed Garlic Potatoes - Boil 3 pounds peeled potatoes in salted water (reserve 1/2 cup of water before draining potatoes). While potatoes are boiling, in a small pot place 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of minced garlic. The garlic will infuse the oil with the garlic flavor. Once the oil begins to bubble, remove pot from stove and set aside to cool. Place drained potatoes in a large bowl and strain the minced garlic from the pot and add to potatoes. Smash the potatoes with a hand masher, then add 2 tablespoons of flavored oil and 1/4 cup of potato water, salt and pepper. Blend everything and add oil and water as needed to get the right consistency.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Strips

Sometimes I feel like my real job starts when I walk through the door in the afternoon from the job I have that helps pay the bills. The county public schools have been closed since Tuesday afternoon due to "illness" and girlz are bored. It has been too cold and wet to go outside and work off their excess energy. Yesterday when I arrived home, they seriusly pounced on me. We had to make an emergency run to the mall. On the way home, I was thinking how tired I was, had a slight headache and really didn't feel like cooking. My youngest must have been reading my mind because she said she was in the mood for buffalo chicken, basically, she was in the mood for buffalo sauce to mix with ranch dressing. You're probably thinking right now that I let these girlz walk all over me. Maybe I do at times if it keeps peace. Anyway Kaitlin wanted to help and we nailed the buffalo sauce, here goes...

Buffalo Chicken Strips - Use one pack of chicken strips or slice up boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Note: This recipe works for wings too). Rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry with papertowels. Salt and pepper the strips and lightly dust them with all-purpose flour - do not use an eggwash. Using a high sided, heavy frying pan, gently place the strips in 300 to 325 degree peanut oil and fry until golden borwn. Be careful not to over crowd the pan so the oil temperature will not drop. Doing this in batches is fine. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from pan using tongs or a slotted spoon and place on a platter lined with papertowels to absorb the oil.

While the chicken is frying, melt one stick of butter (not margarine) over low heat in a 2 quart sauce pan. Once the butter is melted, add 8 ounces of Crystal Hot Sauce or Frank's Hot Sauce (do not use Tabasco), 1-1/2 tablespoons apple cidar vineager, 3/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, blend well and remove from heat so the sauce won't breakdown because of the butter. Taste the sauce and depending on your stamina, you may need to add a little more hot sause and/or a pinch more cayenne.

Once the chicken is fried and the sauce is complete, place the strips in a large bowl and pour the sauce over the chicken (you may want to reserve a ladle or two sauce for dipping). Toss the chicken to evenly coat with sauce. Place the coated strips on a baking sheet and put them in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 5 minutes to cook the sauce onto the chicken. Remove from oven and serve with a side of carrots, celery and your favorite bleu cheese or ranch dressing.

Note: Some bake or grill the chicken and this is fine. I find the sauce adheres better to fried chicken and we like the crunch that goes along with the taste.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Here's a cold weather warmer-upper! In this recipe, I'm using boneless, skinless chicken thighs to cut down on the grease and dark meat adds a bit more flavor. You can use chicken thighs or chicken legs with the skin on, but be sure to skim the excess grease from the top of the gumbo.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo - Using a large stock pot, brown 1 lb. sausage (andouille preferred, a good smoked pork sauage will work fine) and four boneless, skinless chicken thighs in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (about 15 minutes). Remove meat from pot and set aside. Add another tablespoon of vegetable oil and 3 tablespoons of flour to pot and stir continuously to make a roux. The roux is finished when it's just a little darker than the color of peanut butter. Next add 1 onion chopped, 1 green bellpepper chopped, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and one cup chopped celery. Fold the vegatables into the roux to coat them. At this point your kitchen is going to smell some good! Saute for about 3 minutes then add 3 large cloves of chopped garlic and finish sauteing for another 3 to four minutes being careful not to burn the garlic. Now add 1-1/2 quarts of chicken broth, 1-1/2 quarts of water to the pot and blend in well with the roux. Then add 1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins, 1 teaspoon cayenne, salt to taste, 2 bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil. When gumbo comes up to a boil, lower heat to simmer and add meat back in, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Skim off any excess grease from top of gumbo. Cook 4 cups of extra long grain white white. Spoon a serving of rice into a bowl and ladle gumbo over rice and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Smoky Mountain Ribs and Slaw

I'm learning that when you barbeque meat here in Appalachia, cole slaw is the natural accompaniment. Barbeque is on my top ten, but cole slaw is not on of my favs.

Smoky Mountain Ribs - Rinse and dry one slab of pork baby back ribs. In a bowl mix 3/4 cup paprika, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 pinch of cayenne, 1 tablespoon season salt, 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper 1 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoon onion powder. Thoroughly mix dry ingredients and rub into ribs, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 6 hours. Remove from refrigerator and let meat temperature come up a bit. Slice ribs into 2 to 3 rib sections and wrap in foil. Place wrapped meat on heated 250 degree grill (charcoal works best) over indirect heat for abut 2 hours, turn after 1 hour. After two hours, open foil packets, remove foil and liberally brush meat with your favorite barbeque sauce. Cook meat for about 30 minutes, turn and coat the other side and cook for another 30 minutes. Meat should separate from bone easily.

Cole Slaw - Shred one medium head of cabbage, two peeled carrots and one medium onion in food processor using the grater attachment. Empty shredded vegetables into a large bowl. In a medium sized bowl, combine 1/2 cup mayonaise, 1/4 cup yellow mustard, 3 tablespoons apple cider vineager, 1/3 cup granualted sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Wisk these ingredients together and pour over shredded vegetables. Toss dressing with shredded vegetables to thoroughly coat. Cover bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours. As an option, you can add 1-1/2 teaspoons of curry powder right before serving cole slaw.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Broiled Catfish

On our first Friday of Lent I was racking my brain on what to cook for dinner. My husband was on his way back home from New Orleans. He called me several times while he was making his 600 mile journey home and told me he had his fill of seafood. Great, just what I wanted hear. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work hoping to see something at the Seafood counter that would inspire me. I knew a shrimp dish was out and cod...gross; I don't even want to go there. The talapia looked dried out. The catfish filets were on sale and looked great so I bought four of them still not knowing what to do with them. When I pulled them out for dinner, here's what happened...

Broiled Catfish - Pre-heat the broiler, yes the broiler. Pat the filets dry on both sides. Brush each filet with extra virgin oilve oil and seaon each with a light coating of garlic powder, onion powder, coarse salt, lemon pepper and parika. Turn them over and do the same thing on the other side. Cut the top side of the filet in a diamond pattern, not all the way through, but about halfway through. This will help the filets to cook faster and evenly under the broiler. Put the filets on a foil lined cookie sheet sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Make sure the filets don't touch. Now drizzle each filet with a dry white wine and put them under the broiler for about 6-7 minutes (until the fish is moist and flakey). Remove from oven and drain the pan drippings to a medium size sauce pan. Tent the filets with foil and put them back on the turned off oven to stay warm. Now back to the pan drippings, heat them over medium heat, when the drippings start to bubble, wisk in 2 tablespoons of butter until smooth and silky, now add 1 tablespoon of flour and wish in until smooth and add 2 teaspoons of Frangelico and two green onions thinly sliced. Blend and lower heat to simmer and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, plate your fish and sppon your pan sauce over the fish.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ribeye with Penne Pasta

This is an easy and affordable dish that stretches out a couple of ribeye steaks if you are serving steak and pasta lovers.

Ribeyes with Penne Pasta - Season two ribeyes steaks with salt and pepper or McCormick's Montreal Grill Seasoning. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. When oil is heated, sear the steaks for about 3 minutes each side. Remove from pan set aside to cook. Add 2 more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the pan and saute a couple of handfuls of sliced baby bella mushrooms and one medium, thinly sliced red onion until the mushrooms start turning golden brown and the onion is translucent. Add salt and cracked black pepper to the pan while the veggies are sauteing. Then add four cloves of minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and saute for about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of red wine and saute for another minute to deglaze the pot. Stir in 1-28 oz. jar of your favorite red spaghetti or marinara sauce and 1 cup of beef broth. Cover pot and reduce to simmer.

While the sauce is simmering cook penne pasta in salted water until al dente and drain. Now, trim the fat from the ribeyes and cut into bite size pieces. The ribeye pieces should be rare in the center. Add the ribeye pieces and any juices to the sauce to finish cooking. When the pasta is cooked and drained, add to sauce and stir gently to blend.

Serve in bowls or plates and garnish with shaved parmesan.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

BBQ Shrimp

Since it's Ash Wednesday and since I'm a Catholic, I can't eat meat today. When I was living in New Orleans which is a a predominatly Catholic city, this was not a problem. Just about every eatery had a lenten seafood special on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during lent. Living in the Smokies which is in the middle of the "Bible Belt", retaurants are not aware of our lenten practices. I started racking my brain yesterday trying to think of something the cook for dinner tonight besides frozen square breaded fish. I remembered that shortly after Hurricane Katrina when we moved back to New Orleans (we lucked into an apartment in LaPlace, Louisiana instead of a FEMA trailer), Kaitlin and I were home alone one Friday night and decided to make BBQ Shrimp. Neither of us care for the traditional New Orleans BBQ Shrimp cooked in an oily butter sauce with the shells on. They are good but way too messy. We opted for trying to make a dish with the same wonderful taste but with a creamer sauce and no shells that could be served over rice, pasta or just soaked up with a piece of crunchy french bread. Here's what we came up with...

BBQ Shrimp - Peel 2 lbs. of large shrimp leaving the tail and last section near the tail entact and reserve the shells. Season the shrimp with either Emeril's Essence (receipe at bottom) or Zatarain's Creole Seasoning. Work the shrimp with your hands to coat evenly and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. In a large pot heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. In heated oil saute half of a small onion coarsely chopped and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Saute for a minute or two and then add reserved shrimp shells, 1 tablespoon of Essence or Creole seasoning, 1 bay leaf, two lemons peeled and squeezed, 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup Lea & Perrins, and 1/4 cup white wine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

After about 15 to 20 minutes strain stock into a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes until stock will become dark brown, thick and syrupy. This will make about 4 tablespoons of your BBQ base.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tablesppon of extra virgin olive oil and saute seasoned shrimp for a couple of minutes until they turn pink or opaque. Lower heat to medium and add 2 cups of heavy cream and the BBQ base. Blend well and let simmer for 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and remove shrimp to a serving bowl. Wisk 2 tablespoons of butter into the sauce and pour sauce over shrimp. We like to serve with a green salad on the side and lots of crunchy french bread for dipping.

Emeril Lagasse's Essence -2 1/2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano and 1 tablespoon dried thyme. I put this in an airtight container and keep it on hand.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chops and Taters Please

Pork chops like chicken are blank pallets. There are so many ways to prepare them. Chops are good go to dishes.

Pork Chops with Pan Gravy - Season four bone-in pork chops with grill seasoning (McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning) and pan fry over medium high heat in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for 3 minutes each side. Remove from pan to platter and loosely tent with foil. Lower heat just a bit and add 2 tablespoons of butter. When butter is melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes to make a light colored roux. You want to cook off the flour taste and let your roux brown just a little. Wisk in 1 cup of beef broth and blend well, then add 1/2 cup of water and blend (to thin). Add 1 tablespoon of Lea & Perrins, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoon of dried tyme and 1 teaspoon of sweet basil. Lower heat to simmer and return chops to the pan, coating with pan gravy. Let chops simmer until completely cooked - about 20 minutes.

Lazy Smashed Taters - Cut 3 lbs. cleaned russet potatoes into quarters without removing the skins. Boil potatoes in salted water until fork done. Drain in a collindar and return to pan. Season with salt, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 tablesoons butter, 4 oz. light sour cream, 4 oz. evaporated milk, 3 chopped green onions. Take your potato masher and mash into a chunky well blended mixture. Serve alone or topped with pan gravy.

Cheesy Corn on the Cob - Remove husks and silk from four ears of corn, wash and drain. Tear a sheet of aluminum foil big enough to wrap each ear of corn individually. Place an ear of corn on a peice of foil. Season with salt, garlic powder, parmeasan cheese and two pats of butter. Wrap corn in foil and seal tightly. Repeat with remaining ears of corn. Place on grill and cook until done or place the wrapped ears on a cookie sheet and bake in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sausage Jambalya

Happy Lundi Gras! For everyone far away from the Mardi Gras maddness of New Orleans, Lundi Gras means Fat Monday...the day before the BIG DAY - Mardi Gras. Maybe some of you are looking for Cajun dishes. I know there are multitudes of them out there from online recipes to actual cookbooks. Most Cajun recipes are basically the same and just about every cook has a variation.

Jambalya is Cajun for "one pot". This is a one pot dish.

Sausage Jambalya - Cut up 1 lb. of andouille sauage or smoked sausage (I like Smithfield's Smoked Pork Sausage) if you cannot get andouille. Brown sausage over medium-high heat in a large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil for about 15 minutes. Remove sausage and set aside and 1 more tablesppon of vegetable oil to pot along with 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and stir constantly to form a dark brown roux (about 7 minutes). Once roux is dark brown, add 1 medium onion finely chopped. Thoroughly mix the onion into the roux and cook until onion becomes soft. The roux will stop cooking once the vegetables are added. Then add 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 cup beef broth and 1-1/2 cups of water, 2 cups uncooked white rice. Stir pot well. When liquid comes to a boil, lower heat to simmer, cover pot and cook for 45 minutes. Uncover pot and stir. If there is still liquid in the pot, let the jambalya cook uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Happy Mardi Gras Ya'll!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Asian in the Mountains

Remember the movie "My Cousin Vinny"? Do you recall when Joe Pesce and Marissa Tome arrived in the small Alabama town and she questioned, "I wonder how's the Chinese"? Welcome to my world. So I have to bring the my version of Asian cuisine to us. Sesame is the theme today.

Sesame Wings - Separate and season two packages of chicken drumettes with salt, black pepper and garlic powder. VERY sparingly, drizzle a few drops of sesame oil on drummettes. Sesame oil is REALLY strong, you only want to use a couple of drops on each drummette. Place dummettes on a foil lined cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and send them to a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, turn after 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, baste each drummed with Hoisin sauce and cook for 10 more minutes, turn baste the other side and cook for another 10.

Fried Rice - Beat two large eggs with a wire whisk. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large, heavy, high sided pot, frying pan or wok. When oil is hot cook the eggs scrambled style, remove from pan and set aside. Add two more tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan and saute 1/2 a medium yellow onion, chopped, until almost soft and then add two cups of cooled cooked white rice. Keep folding rice with onions and let rice cook until it starts to brown a little, then add salt (go easy), black pepper, garlic powder to taste, 1/2 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice, a pinch of powdered ginger or grate a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger and drizzle a teaspoon of sesame oil. Stir to mix well. Now at this point you can add so many different ingredients, just depends on what you like...sliced shitakes, water chestnuts, sprouts, peas, shredded carrots...the list goes on. After you add whatever you might want to add, mix it well into the rice and then add soy sauce. I like to use Tamari, which is an aged and deep tasting soy sauce, but whatever kind you have, use that. Shake in about 2 to 3 tables spoons and mix into rice until all the grains have a light brown coating. You may have to add more to get all of the grains coated. Now add back in your scrambled eggs and 3 chopped green onions.

Mandarin Salad - Start with whatever washed greens you prefer, iceberg, romaine, spinach, bib. Garnish with chilled mandarin orange slices. Now this is the best part, the dressing! Use a glass measuring cup and mix the following ingredients with a wire whisk, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar), 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Dress your salad with this dressing right before you serve so your lettuce doesn't get soggy.

People will start coming to your house for Take-Out!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops & Pasta

My oldest daughter is a very picky eater. She could live off of pizza, chicken nuggets and tacos. I can get her attention with just about anything that contains cheese. She's been down with the flu since Wednesday and I think we've finally turned the corner because her appetite is starting to return. I decided to prepare one of her favorites.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops - Heat a large, heavy frying pan over medium-medium high heat with about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper four bone-in pork chops. In a bowl, mix one cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese. When the oil is thoroughly heated coat the chops with the dry mixture and fry until golden brown on both sides. About four minutes per side.

Garlic and Cheese Pasta - Boil your favorite pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan heat 3/4 of extra virgin olive oil and add 8 cloves of peeled, smashed garlic. Heat until garlic begins to turn golden brown. This will infuse the garlic flavor into the oil. Be careful not to burn garlic. Remove garlic from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside and reserve oil. Ladle 3 tablespoons of garlic oil into a large pot over medium high heat and brown four slices of pancetta or bacon cut into small pieces. Remove pancetta or bacon from pan and set aside. Saute 1/2 onion finely chopped in the oil. When the onion is almost translucent, add the cloves of garlic and smash them on side of the pot, cook one more minute. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and reduce. Lower heat to medium and add one cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan reggiano. Season with salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of fresh tyme, 1/4 teaspon of red pepper flakes. Reduce slightly. Add 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley. Add pacentta or bacon and cooked and drained pasta and blend sauce into the pasta.

Garlic Bread - Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice four piecess of French or Italian Bread and ladle the reaming garlic oil onto bread slices. Sprinkle parmsean cheese on top and cook in 400 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes until the edges of bread and parmsean are beginning to turn golden brown.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fun Super Bowl Stuff

Well it's Super Bowl time again (hope the Giants win) and the Home Girlz and I have been discussing and actually (hope the Giants win) agreeing on what we'll have to munch on for game time. My hubby won't be sharing this momentous occasion with us (hope the Giants win) because he feels the need to go to New Orleans to visit "his Mom and dem" - translation his Mom and them. The girlz and I (hope the Giants win) had a meeting and have found that it's quite a coincidence his spur of the moment visit just happens to conveniently be during... yes... Mardi Gras. Anyway we will probably be the only all girl house in East Tennessee enthusiastically watching the BIG GAME Sunday and by the way, we hope the Giants win!

Artichoke Dip - One day before the game, drain 2 cans of artichoke hearts (they can be whole, half or quartered) in a colander. Squeeze the artichokes with your hands to get out the excess liquid and to break them up. Do not use a food processer or knofe to cut up the artichokes as this will severely change the tastes of the dip! Once the artichokes are thoroughly drained, place them in a medium sized bowl and add 1 cup of mayonnaise, one pacekt of Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix (dry) and garlic powder to taste. Blend together with a fork, cover and chill over night in the fridge. Serve with Ritz crackers.

Buffalo Bites - Place into a bowl one package of chicken breasts strips cut into bite size pieces, season with salt and black pepper and toss in about 1/4 cup of hot sauce (I like Crystal or Frank's). Let them marinate for a few minutes until you get the batter together. Mix in a bowl with a wire wisk 1 to 1 1/2 cups (eye up how many chicken bites you have) of COMPLETE pancake mix with water - use table on the back of pancake mix box for water amount, add 1/4 of a cup of hot sauce, mix. You can add more hot sauce if you wish, but I PROMISE, this amount of hot sauce is really not very hot at all. Now, pour bout 1/2 cup of the pancake mix in a bowl by itself. Take your chicken bite, roll it in the pancake mix, dunk it in the batter and fry in hot oil until golden brown. The chicken will cook pretty quick since it's cut so small. Drain cooked chicken bites on paper towels, plate and serve with more hot sauce, ranch dressing and/or bleu cheese for dipping. You can even serve some celery and carrot sticks on the side.

Italian Waffle Fries - Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place one package of waffle fries in a bowl and drizzle some extra vigin olive oil and toss fries until they are all coated. Spread the fries in a single layer on a large cookie sheet and bake until they are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove fries from the oven and place in a heat safe bowl, season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and 1/2 cup of frshly grated parmesan cheese and serve. Note: National brand grated parmeasan cheese are very high in salt. If you prefer to use this, go easy on the salt when seasoning the fries.

Sinful Brownies - Mix one package of your favorite brownie mix per package directions and pour half of the mix into a 9 x 13 disposable foil pan; use a knife or back of spoon to spread out evenly. Then place three large chocolate candy bars (I like the Hershey's Symphony Toffee Bars) in a row on top of the brownie batter, add remaining brownie batter on top of candy bars and spread evenly. Bake in oven per package directions. Cool and cut into small squares. These are also great for bribing teenagers to do stuff around the house you don't feel like doing. Enjoy!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Spagehtti and Meatballs - The Big Cheat

A friend of mine leads a very hectic life, like most of us do these days and she doesn't like to cook very much. I made spaghetti and meatballs a week or two ago and had a lot leftover. The girlz think leftovers are kryptonite to their systems, unless there's leftover rice or orzo (which usually leads to a squabble and nothing you want to read about on this blog). I decided to take two servings to work for lunch the next day and give one to my friend. She was wowed. I was embarrassed because it wasn't like I cooked the sauce from scratch; I used a jar sauce and now she keeps asking me when am I going to cook spaghetti again.

The Big Cheat - Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat one egg in a small bowl. In a large bowl combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano, 1 tsp. sweet basil. Mix these together in a bowl with your hands then add in 1 lb. lean ground beef, 1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins and beaten egg. Fold all ingredients together. Blend well but do not work too much or the meatballs will be tough. Gently form into balls and place on a foil lined sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile pour two jars of Prego (I like roasted garlic) into a pot big enough to hold both jars plus the meatballs and heat on medium-low heat. When meatballs are done, lift with a slotted spoon from pan and let any grease drain and plop them in the pot with the sauce. Boil some angel hair pasta and dinner will be almost ready because we still need to make garlic bread. Melt about 1/2 a stick of butter in a small pan on LOW heat. When butter is almost melted add two cloves of crush garlic. Let it hang out while you're heating your sauce and boiling your pasta. Slice your bread and dip it flat-side down in the garlic butter sauce and put the bread under the broiler until slightly brown around the edges.

Mama Mia - what a cheat!