Thursday, March 31, 2011

Potatoes Au Gratin...with Gruyere'

If you are a parent, you may remember those days when your children SLOWLY phased out of the "terrible two's" into "brain damaged teenagers".  Somehow along the way, did you lose the idealistic views you held dear before you found out your first bundle of joy was on his or her way.  In the spirit of keeping it real, I did; ok, I admit it, I lied like a cheap rug to my youngest so I could use MY computer to blog.  Hello, my name is Katherine and I am a blogger. 

I have a mission.  Yeah, that's it, I have a mission, a duty if you will, to share with all of you the good stuff.  Seriously, the only reason you come here (which I am so VERY grateful), is because GOOD counts not calories or that little aggravation called cholesterol.

Even though I live up in the mountains in East Tennessee, I do subscribe to and even read on occasion Bon Appetit magazine.  Today I am sharing one awesome potato au gratin recipe. 


3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese

Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Place pie dish on rimmed baking sheet. Combine cream and garlic in small saucepan and bring to simmer over low heat. Cover and remove from heat.

Arrange 1/3 of potato rounds, slightly overlapping, in concentric circles in prepared pie dish; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour 1/4 cup garlic cream over. Repeat layering 2 more times with remaining potato, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic cream. Pour remaining garlic cream over, then 1/4 cup milk.

Sprinkle cheese over.

Bake gratin until golden on top and potatoes are very tender, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Let potato gratin rest 10 minutes before serving.

So in the end, one day, my children will become responsible adults and bless me with grandchildren and I will knowingly smile as I see them go through..whatever, who cares just pass the potatoes.
P.S.  Someone told me that when you cut the potatoes, the calories leak out.  The world is full of possibilities.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Death by Sloppy Joe!!!!

First,  thank all of you for your warm "Welcome Backs!" and emails.  I am trying to get back to routinely blogging.  All of your words mean so much; saying thank you lacks so much as far as how much your words and thoughts mean.

I can offer back by sharing this Sloppy Joe recipe.  It's dangerously good, wickedly addictive and will seduce you before you have a chance to reach for a napkin.  If you're laughing and thinking,"Yeah right, whatever.", I dare you! This is so worth it.

Start off with the sauce:

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped - if Vidalias are in season, use a Vidalia
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons McCormick's Mexican Chili Powder or ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon Chipotle Powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons molasses
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a high-sided skillet or large saucepan. Add the onions and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the ketchup and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.   Move to a cool burner and get busy with browning the meat.

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 pounds lean meat
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1Poblano Chile, diced
1/2 Jalapeno Pepper, minced
ALL of the Awesome BBQ Sauce Cooling on the Stove
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Brown ground meat, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Once ground meat is evenly browned, drain all excess fat and stir in remaining ingredients except for the parsley until thoroughly combined.  Lower heat to simmer and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Ok, this is what puts these Sloppy Joe's over the top!!

Toasted Garlic Buns:

1/2 stick butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed

Once BBQ sauce is removed from burner to cool, place butter in a small skillet over low heat along with smashed garlic.  The garlic will infuse the butter.  Keep the burner on the lowest heat possible.  Brush garlic flavored butter on buns and place the buns while the meat and sauce are simmering.  Place the buttered buns on a baking sheet.  Put the baking sheet with the buns under the oven broiler until the buns are slightly browned around the edges.

Now, let's put these babies together and munch.

Top toasted buns slices with some of the Sloppy Joe mixture, sprinkle with or parsley and top with cheddar, provolone or pepper jack cheese.

Remember, lots of napkins and lots of burping is totally acceptable!

I dare you!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Molten Lava Cake

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Why waste time telling you how decadent and good this molten lava cake is.  The picture says it all.   I do have to say this though, quick, easy, YUMMY!

2 sticks butter
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
6 large eggs
6 large egg yolks
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare 8 (6-ounce) ramekins with either butter, shortening or cooking spray and sprinkle each with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

In a saucepan combine butter, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, and chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth; stirring frequently.  Remove from burner and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, confectioners' sugar, eggs and yolks, vanilla extract and almond extract until creamy. Add melted chocolate to the batter and whisk together.

Pour into prepared ramekins.

Bake cakes until the top is stiff and cracked and the edges are dark, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake with a small paring knife then invert onto plates while warm.

I've learned there are two kinds of people in this world.   People that adore gooey chocolate and those that won't admit it.  Which one are you?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Quiche That Even a Real Man Will Eat

There's nothing like a quiche.  Think of all of the possibilities; the combinations of flavors and cheeses.  Besides all of the possibilities, quiches are quick and easy and just the ticket on a busy weeknight. The to put it over the top, I happened to catch Paula Deen making a quiche with a hash brown crust!  I am so there baby!

The homegirlz ask for this quiche all the time now and now I have a dirty little secret to share.  A.J. doesn't know it's a quiche, we told him it's a casserole.  You see, A.J.'s motto is, "Real men don't eat quiche".  They do now, but don't tell him...ignorance is bliss; at least in our house it is.

To get started, here's what you'll need:

*Remember, you can change out the sausage for crab meat, ham or whatever you're craving!

3 cups, shredded frozen hash browns, thawed and drained
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half-and-half
3 breakfast sausage patties, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup diced green onions
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Press the drained hash browns between paper towels to dry them as best as possible. In a 9-inch pie plate, toss the hash browns with the melted butter into the plate. Press them into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp.

While the hash brown crust is baking mix the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Once the hash brown crust is ready, pour the egg mixture in the crust and return it to the oven. 

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffy.

So much better and lighter than pie crust.  Give it a try!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Friday Fish LeConte

I received an autographed copy of Chef John Besh's cookbook, My New Orleans from ummm, umm a giveaway at another blog, yeah, that's it!  The cookbook is gorgeous and there are so many recipes of his I can't wait to try. 

The book is arranged by holidays, festivals and various celebrations in New Orleans throughout the year, which is a very cool and unique to organize a cookbook so it can be different. The arrangement makes it difficult for the home cook trying to find things and compare to make a decision on what to cook.

John Besh's "New Orleans" is quite different than mine...many of his ingredients are hard to come by or are very pricey for the average Jane like me who has to feed picky eaters in the blink of any eye.

On the rare occasion, which aren't so rare any more, when the homegirlz are both out on the same night, I can let loose and do my thang!  Did you know my oldest is part of the workforce now?  Yes, the one or two days (4 or 8 hour shifts) a week selling clothing at a popular retail chain make her feel like all she does is work, work, work...what a diva!

Ok, back to my thang...I made a loose facsimile of one of Chef John Besh's recipes and I mean to tell you it was eyes rolling in the back of your head good!

Let's wipe the drool off our chins and cook some fish!

1 cup AP flour
3 tablespoons Emeril's Essence or your favorite Cajun seasoning
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 Tilapia fillets - Trout or Orange Roughy would be amazing too
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
4 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms or any kind of mushroom you have on hand
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 lemon juiced
Couple dashes Louisiana Hot Sauce or Franks Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
1/2 cup mock Hollandaise sauce (recipe below)

Make the Hollandaise. 

1/2 cup mayo
Juice from half of a lemon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Couple dashed of hot sauce
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Whisk everything together...adjust with yellow mustard, cayenne and onion powder so the sauce has a slightly tart to popping taste (not spicy).  Do not substitute Dijon for yellow mustard.  I did that and it was terrible....use yellow mustard, trust me.  Leave the Hollandaise out on the counter, you want it to come up to room temperature. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Combine flour and two tablespoons of Cajun seasoning in a large flat dish.  Beat the egg and milk together in another dish.  Put the Panko bread crumbs and the third tablespoon (maybe a teaspoon more)
in a third dish.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and dredge through the seasoned flour, then the egg mixture and then through the  bread crumbs.

Cook the fish until golden brown on both sides, approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side then transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.  You may need to add a couple more drops of olive oil as you are cooking the fish.  The Panko does absorb the oil.

Once you have removed the fish from the skillet, drain off any excess oil and return skillet to the stove and reduce the heat to medium.  Add the butter and the mushrooms and allow to cook for 3 to four minutes, then add the shallots, pepper flakes and garlic.  Stir frequently and allow to cook about 3 to 5 minutes, until soft but not taking on any color.  Add the artichokes and the lemon juice and a little bit of salt and cook another 3 to five minutes but keep the artichoke hearts from breaking up.  Season with salt and pepper, then fold in the chives.

Warm plates in the microwave for about 35 seconds per plate (Yeah, I know, it's like we're fine dining in an upscale restaurant and we're just in my little kitchen).

Drizzle, ok slightly ladle the Hollandaise on the plate, then top it with a healthy serving of the artichoke and mushroom mixture.  Place the fish fillet on top and add some more artichokes and mushrooms on top of the fish.

Now giving up meat on Fridays during Lent ain't so bad after all!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chicken Fajita Tortilla Soup

There once was a girl that loved soup so much, she had to share it!

This is one easy and very quick soup to prepare and one you can feel good about eating and sharing with your family and friends.  Just don't tell them how easy this soup is to make.

YUM!!! Check out that picture; do I have your attention?

Here's what you need:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 to 2 pounds of chicken tenders or three boneless, skinless chicken breasts
       (cut into healthy size chunks)
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
1 (14 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (14 ounce) can low-sodium diced tomatoes
1 (32 ounce) box chicken broth
3 to 4 fajita size white tortilla or your favorite white tortilla chips
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 ripe avocado, (cut each half into quarters)
1 lime, juiced
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Place tortilla on a foil lined baking sheet.  Spray foil with non-stick cook spray.  Place three to four tortillas on the baking sheet, brush the tortillas with extra virgin olive oil one the side facing up.  Sprinkle some Emeril's Essence or your favorite Cajun seasoning over the tortillas.   Place tortillas in the oven for five minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, then break into chips and set aside.

Heat a large pot with extra virgin olive oil, over medium-high heat. Add chicken, once the chicken begins to brown after about 5 minutes, add coriander, thyme, salt and pepper, to taste, onions, bell pepper and jalapeno, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes and stock, simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, cut up the avocado and toss it in the lime juice so it won't turn brown and set aside.  Then place a handful of the tortillas chips into soup bowls.  Toss some of the cheddar cheese over the tortilla chips.  Now you're ready for the big finale'!  Ladle the piping hot soup over the cheese and the tortilla chips. Garnish with green onions cilantro and the avocados. 

You won't need to serve anything on the side, because this delicious soups is quite filling all by itself!