Saturday, October 31, 2009

Still Tasty?

Have you ever wondered how long your favorite foods are safe to eat or what is the best way to store them? Of course you have, we all wonder. We think we know, we use our common sense but do we really know what we're doing?
Did you ever think that food was still ok to eat as long as there wasn't any visible signs of freezer fur?
I once caught my brother heating a can of pork and beans in the can over the stove. Why dirty a pot. Is this safe? He thought it was.
Is it ok to eat the left over pizza your teenagers forgot to refrigerate last night?
What kind of friend and responsible food blogger would I be if I didn't point you in the right direction to answer all these questions?
Click your mouse over to Still Tasty and put this in your favorites. Still Tasty is a very informative and well put together site that answers a lot of questions about just about any category of food you can imagine. I have spent a lot of time at this site and have learned a lot.
They don't know me and I don't know them; a friend emailed this link to me and I felt it was important to share.
Hey...Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Polenta D'Italia

Polenta has intrigued me for some time. I didn't know if I would care for it and I especially didn't know if my picky eaters would enjoy polenta. This version of polenta which is loosely adapted from a Giada DeLaurentis recipe was a winner at our house.

1 pound instant polenta (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan

Make the polenta according to package instructions. Just before the polenta is finished thickening, add the cream, cheese, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour the polenta onto a greased, rimmed baking sheet. Set aside to cool and firm up, about 30 minutes.

Use a 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter and cut the polenta into round shapes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Place the polenta rounds in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side. While the polenta is browning heat up your favorite marinara sauce.

Place polenta slices on a platter and ladle with your heated marinara sauce and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

A very stunning and easy to prepare side dish!

I'm really slammed at work and I am hoping to be around this evening to visit all of your blogs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chicken Sauce Piquante

I've mentioned many times that Chef John Folse's book, The Evolution of Cajun and Creole Cuisine is my favorite cookbook and often my "go to" when I am looking for something special to cook for my family. Marguerite from Cajun Delights posted this recipe of John Folse's which I had seen many times in my big yellow cookbook. Marguerite inspired me ton finally give this a try.
This is a classic Cajun chicken dish perfect for this time of year. It's hardy and chocked full of flavor. The ingredients are readily available no matter where you live. So come with me and be an honorary Cajun for a meal!

Season one whole cut up chicken thoroughly with Cajun seasoning and sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce.
Cover and marinate in fridge, for 1 hour.

In heavy dutch oven, heat 1/2 cup of vegetable or canola oil over medium heat and saute seasoned chicken until golden brown. (about 10 minutes on each side) Remove from oil and set aside.
Add 1/2 cup of flour to the pot, using a wire whisk, and stir continuously until a medium brown roux is reached. Add one 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, slowly, and continue to stir for 5 minutes, until sauce is a rich reddish brown color. Add a little water, if needed.

Add 1 cup of chopped onions, 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers, 1/2 cup chopped celery, and 1-1/2 tablespoons of minced garlic and saute and stir for about 3 minutes. Add one 16 ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes and one 10 ounce can of Rotel tomatoes, 2-1/2 cups of chicken stock (and 1 cup of water if the sauce seems too thick). Stir until well blended and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add chicken, 1 teaspoon of salt, a few shakes of cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1/2 cup of sliced green onions and 1/2 cup of chopped parsley and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Your house is going to smell some good yeah!
Serve over steamy white rice and make sure you have plenty of crunchy French bread on hand for sopping up every last drop.
As Marguerite says, "Oh cest bon, cher! Le Bon Manger!"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chocolate Bread Pudding

When I was a kid, my grandmother made bread pudding every Thanksgiving and Christmas. My job was to cream the butter and sugar by hand. I hated, it, really hated it. Creaming the butter and sugar was hard work and it made my arm hurt. My grandmother's whiskey sauce for her bread pudding was amazing! Her bread pudding was phenomenal according to the family bread pudding experts, but her whiskey sauce did it for me! As my grandmother got older, her whiskey sauce got stronger. I had to have my serving of bread pudding with her wonderful whiskey sauce even if it made my eyes water just a bit.
Since my grandmother isn't around anymore, bread pudding isn't something I crave or ever attempted to make until I saw Paula Deen make this heavenly Chocolate Bread Pudding!
This bread pudding is light and will satisfy your chocolate craving.
1 loaf French cut into cubes
3 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Kahlua or coffee flavored liqueur
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Place the bread cubes in the baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, and Kahlua.

In another bowl, combine the granulated and brown sugars with the cocoa powder and mix well. Add this to the milk mixture and whisk to combine.

Add the vanilla and almond extracts and the cinnamon to the beaten eggs. Combine the egg mixture with the milk mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes; let stand, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed most of the milk mixture. Bake the pudding for 1 hour, or until set; a knife inserted into the center of the pudding should come out clean. Serving the pudding warm, or refrigerate it and serve chilled.

Serve it warm or cold, with whipped cream or a dessert sauce. You will definitely want to add this to your holiday dessert list.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Curry Chicken Drummettes

I had a rather large pack of chicken drummettes in the freezer that were begging to be cooked. I was going to make my standard buffalo wings which is always a sure bet during football season with A.J. and the girlz. Instead, I took a walk on the wild side and shook things up a bit cooking with curry powder for the very first time.
These drummette came out better than I could have hoped for and I am a definite believer in curry powder. So if you have any recipes I need to try with curry, send them my way, because I'm addicted!

Rinse about 3lbs. of chicken drummettes with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place them in a bowl, season well with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil. Toss the drummettes with your hands to evenly coat them with the seasoning and olive oil. Then place the drummettes in a baking dish and spread them out. Bake them at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until the skin gets brown and crispy.

While the drummettes are baking, melt one stick of butter and combine with 1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 1/4 cup of honey.

Whisk to blend. Season with salt to taste.

When the drummettes are done, place them in a large bowl and pour the butter/curry mixture over the top. Toss to thoroughly coat each one. Place the drummettes on a baking sheet and return them to the oven for 5 to 7 minutes.

Garnish with sliced green onion. I forgot to get a picture of these plattered up.

These were a huge hit and so were the New Orleans Saints last Sunday over the New York Giants...sorry Eli! Look out Miami!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Parmesan Eggplant Fries

Since the girls have gotten a little older and are flitting in and out spending the night with friends, going to football games, movies and such, A.J. and I have a lot more time to spend with each other. We enjoy leisurely evenings which include cocktails and a late dinners. We're lucky if we sit down to eat by 9:00 PM on a Friday or Saturday evenings. A.J. likes to munch on an appetizer while I'm finishing up the main meal.
Parmesan Eggplant Fries are his number one request and he was appalled last Saturday night when he asked if I had this on my blog and a I told him, "Ummm, I don't think these were ever posted."
To back up a little, his brother stalks my blog and calls on Saturdays to see what I'm cooking. When A.J. reports, his brother asks if I am putting it on my blog. Yes, Gerrard, you have been outed! Gerrard is an outstanding cook, he and I can go on forever talking about recipes. Gerrard was out host last Thanksgiving . I'm hoping we can get the time off to go back to New Orleans for Thanksgiving this year. Click on the Thanksgiving link and don't be too jealous when you see a Cajun Thanksgiving.

Ok back to the eggplant, this is so quick and easy and sinfully have to make these tonight!

Heat up vegetable or canola oil to 375 degrees. Peel one eggplant and slice in to spears about the size shown above.

Dip the spears into an eggwash and the dredge through Italian style bread crumbs. Carefully place the breaded spears into the heated oil. These will fry pretty quick.

When the spears begin to brown as show, turn and fry a couple of minutes longer then remove them from the skillet to a paper towel lined platter.

Generously sprinkle the spears with grated parmesan cheese and serve with a side of your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.

This and a nice glass of your favorite dry red wine, and dinner....who needs dinner?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Best Beef Stroganoff - Evah!

This is one of those dishes that when you sit down and place the first forkful in your mouth, while your eyes are rolling around in back of your head, you wonder why you don't make this more often.
Many of you may have your favorite Beef Stroganoff recipe, but let me offer this one as the best ever! Just about all of the ingredients can be found in your pantry and this is a plus in my book since we all have such busy lives. Aside from the simplicity of this dish, the consensus of opinion from my husband, the homegirlz, my mom, several friends, and co-workers is this Beef Stroganoff ricks and is the best they have ever tasted.

Rough chop 3 to 4 cloves of garlic and place in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Add enough extra-virgin olive oil to create a paste. Add one sprig of fresh rosemary and one fresh spring of fresh thyme, chopped to the past and stir to combine.

Place about 2 to 2-1/2 lbs. of bottom round steak in a baking dish and slather on the garlic/herb paste. Bake on a pre-heated 300 degree oven for 2 hours. You want to cook this low and slow to tenderize the round steak. Look above and see how beautiful the beef turns out from the oven and talk about a wonder aroma wafting through your home!
Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes and slice into thin strips against the grain.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil tot he skillet. Add one 8 ounce package of sliced baby bella mushrooms and one 8 ounce package of sliced button mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes until golden brown.
Add 2 shallots finely chopped and 2 cloves of minced garlic and stir to combine. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 3 minutes and remove pan from heat. Carefully add 1/4 cup of dry sherry and deglaze the pan. Return the pan to heat and add 2 cups of heavy cream. Lower heat and simmer until reduced by half. Turn off heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard and 1/2 cup of sour cream. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add the sliced beef to the skillet to warm.

Cook and drain 1 pound of your favorite curly pasta or you can use egg noodles. After the pasta is drain, place in a bowl and toss in 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter while the pasta is still hot.

Spoon pasta on a plate, top with a generous ladle full stroganoff sauce and beef. Garnish with sliced fresh parsley and green onions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Muffalettas and Moonlighting

I am extremely honored and flattered that my friend, Dave, from My Year on the Grill has asked me to guest blog while he and his wife are vacationing in my hometown, New Orleans.

He asked me to post about a New Orleans favorite, Muffalettas. If you have ever enjoyed one then you will know what I am talking about. If you've haven't wrapped your chops around one yet, you don't have to visit New Orleans (although I highly recommend it) to enjoy a Muffaletta. Click the link and visit Dave's wonderful blog and learn how you can enjoy my all time favorite sammich!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper and Parmesan Biscuits

We definitely like eating heartier and more filling meals when the weather starts cooling down a bit. In between soccer games and working at home in the evenings, I have been able to get a little cooking and baking done. These are "drop" biscuits, easier than rolled ones to make. They are packed full of deliciousness and are the most requested item in my repertoire. They are fantastic with soups and Italian dishes.

Makes 6 biscuits

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne
Pinch black pepper
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chips
1/3 cup finely chopped roasted red bell peppers
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Siplat .

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, black pepper and mix well. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal. Add roasted peppers, cheese and the milk and stir the mixture until it just forms a dough. Drop the dough in 6 mounds, about 2 inches apart onto the baking sheet. Bake until they are golden, 15 to 18 minutes.
Bring one the cold weather!!!