Friday, October 28, 2011

Beefy Cajun Mac

I came across this recipe recently and found out this is the pre-game meal of choice of Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints.  The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans got on the bandwagon very quickly fashioned this recipe and added it to their tailgate menu on game day Sundays.

This once ordinary throwback from the 70's is now supercharged and comes together in a snap.  You will get two thumbs up for sure from your athletes who need to carb-load before a big game.

Beefy Cajun Mac

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup chopped andouille
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 tablespoon flour
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeños
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (plus extra for topping)
3/4 cup uncooked macaroni or pasta of your choice, cooked and drained

Melt the butter in a hot skillet, add andouille and sauté.

Once the andouille is crispy, add ground beef. Break up the ground beef, and cook until the beef is done all the way through.

Stir in flour until smooth.

Add heavy cream...

...and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer until mixture thickens.

Add tomatoes, jalapeños, salt, pepper and cheese. Cook until cheese is melted, stirring slowly (about 2 minutes

Mix the cheese sauce with the cooked pasta, and place into a well-greased oven safe dish.

Top with a layer of shredded cheddar and bake for 7 minutes or more at 375 degrees, until dish is heated through and cheese is golden brown.

After eating this pre-game favorite, last Sunday Drew Brees threw 31 for 35 and don't forget he threw more touchdown passes in one game than he threw incomplete passes (5 touchdowns, 4 incompletes). Doesn't your mind just race wondering what you can accomplish?

Have a beautiful weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Corn Chowder

I don't know how the weather is in your neck of the woods, but here in East Tennessee, it's cold and rainy, downright miserable.  I should be curled up with a good book or a good movie!

Did I ever tell you that when I first met my husband the only "vegetable" he would eat was corn?  Well A.J. now knows corn is not a vegetable, plus he has many new favorite real vegetables.  I now know if I serve ANYTHING with the word "corn" in it, he's the first one at the table when dinner is ready.  So from here on out, every recipe, be it salad or brownies is going to be called "corn" something or other...nah, that's just plain boring.

Well, let me tell you that this soup is anything but boring!

4 strips hickory smoked bacon
1 tablespoon butter

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
3 Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and diced
6 ears of fresh corn cut from the cob or 2lbs. frozen kernel corn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne (optional)
1/4 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cook the bacon in a large stock pot until crisp.  Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a paper towel lined plate and reserve.  Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pot and add one tablespoon of butter to the pot, lower the heat to medium and add the onion and saute until translucent then add the garlic and saute 1 more minute.. Dust the vegetables with flour and stir to coat everything well.  Cook the flour off for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure nothing sticks and burns on the bottom of the pot.

Whisk in the stock one cup at a time and bring to a boil.

Add the potatoes, bring to a boil.  Boil for about 5 minutes, until the potatoes soften and are almost to the point of breaking down.  The broken-down potatoes will give the soup body and a smooth texture and the potatoes that remain in tact with the the soup a little something-something.

Add the cream to the soup, gently stir to blend.  Once the soup begins to bubble, lower the heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes; enough time for the corn to soften up a bit.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and a little splash of extra virgin olive oil and maybe even a little dash of cayenne.

 Ladle a generous helping of this hearty chowder into a bowl and garnish with the sharp cheddar cheese and the reserved bacon.

Does anyone know who got kicked off "Dancing with the Stars" this week?  Wait, don't tell me, I want to be surprised!

Stay warm, dry and well-fed!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Geauxing to the Grill with Chicken and a White Barbecue Sauce

This is so crazy to even think of; it quite might make your stomach turn.  The intrigue and the curiosity will undoubtedly make you try this.  Seriously, you won't be able to help yourself!  This is what happened to me me when I saw it on Down Home with the Neelys.

My tailgaters said this was the best grilled chicken ever!

White Barbecue Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk all the barbecue sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. when it's time to use, reserve about 3/4 cup to serve on the side.

You can use a whole chicken cut up or I used a pack  (5 each , thighs and 11 each drumettes) of bone-in, skin-on thighs and drumettes.  Season the chicken to your liking.  I used Lawry's season salt, lemon pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high.  Spray the grates with non-stick cooking spray. 

Place the chicken skin side down starting in the center of the grill. Sear about 5 to 7 minutes each side to get some nice grill marks and begin browning the skin. 

I have hot spots on my grill because SOMEONE needs to buy a new burner and I don't own a Big Green Egg.  Be careful to keep the chicken away from an area you know flames up higher than other areas because the chicken skin is very fatty and will cause the grill to flame up and you will have crispy blackened chicken in an instant.

If you have two burners on your grill turn one off and move the chicken to the side of the grill where the burner is turned off.  Brush the chicken with the barbecue sauce.  You will continue grilling the chicken over indirect heat.  Leave the other burner on medium to medium-low.  Turn about every 10 minutes and brush with the barbecue sauce. 

Once the juices run clear, which should take about 30 to 35 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter.

Don't forget to serve with sauce on the side!

Monday, October 10, 2011

This Ain't Ya Mama's Green Bean Casserole

Thanksgiving is creeping up on us ever so quietly.  Some of you real organized people out there already have your menu planned, the table set and the giblets gibletting.  Sorry to say, not me. I am tweaking and primping. 

A couple of years ago, I showed you a N'Awlins style Thanksgiving and passed a comment to the effect that I thought it might just be against the law not to serve green bean casserole on Thanksgiving.  I've been a rebel because I've never, ever served it at my table.   The whole cream of mushroom soup grossed me out.   It's so salty, and tastes blech!

I found a way to make a way better green bean casserole and I'm sharing it with you early in case you want to try it out and surprise your gift the the new green bean Casserole on the block!

Rinse and drain 1 lb. of haricot verts (fresh, French style green beans).

Add the greens beans to a pot of boiling, generously salted water.  Once the water returns to a boil, cook the beans for 2 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon or colander to drain;  remove the beans from the boiling water and immediately immerse them in an ice bath to stop them from cooking.  This beans will be tender but crispy when you serve them.  So much better than the limp beans in a can.  Once the beans have cooled, drain and set them aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.

Once the butter begins to bubble, add in 1lb. of sliced mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of chopped, fresh thyme leaves.  Either button mushrooms or baby bellas will work nicely.  Saute the mushrooms until they begin to turn golden brown.  Don't move them around too much.  After the mushrooms have been cooking for about 5 minutes, add in 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and saute along with the mushrooms.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Once the mushrooms have browned, add 2 tablespoons of flour to the skillet and thoroughly blend in with the mushrooms and oil.  Stir frequently and allow the flour to cook for about 2 minutes to get rid the pasty flavor.

 Lower heat to medium and slowly add 3/4 cup chicken broth and thoroughly combine.

Add 3/4 cup heavy cream.  Gently stir to combine.  Allow the mixture to come to a low boil, lower heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. 

Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the skillet from the heat and fold in 1 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese until cheese is melted.

Toss in the green beans until they are completely covered with the creamy mushroom mixture.  Turn the green beans into a buttered, oven-safe casserole dish.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of French fried onions, 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1/2 cup Panko crumbs.  Stir in 4 tablespoons of melted butter.

Pour the topping over the green beans.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 30 minutes.  check the casserole after 20 minutes.  if top is sufficiently browned, cover with foil and continue baking for the remaining 10 minutes.

I'm seeing so many Thanksgiving law-abiding cooks out there this holiday season.

Happy early Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mediterrean Broiled Fish

You wouldn't believe all of the crazy stuff going on, well if you've been hanging around here long enough, you probably would.  We are in the middle of an amazing soccer season!  The girls' team is undefeated and my oldest Lauren (below, white jersey, #16) was made Captain this summer.  Come to think of it, in the power rankings for the NCAA, LSU is #1 and in the NFL power rankings, the Saints are #2.  Since I have two girls on the team I'm doing twice the "mom" volunteer stuff.  This past week, since having carpal tunnel surgery, my chopping hand is getting it's strength back to be able to chop.

Guess what else? She will be inducted into the National Honor Society tomorrow night.

Sooooooo, I needed to cook some brain food.  I mean what if she figures out, you know, that I'm not the shiniest penny?  Between you and me, I think she already knows...

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Season two hearty, white fish filets with salt and a smidge of cayenne on each side.  I used Tilapia filets.  Sprinkle the filets liberally with soy sauce.  If you have it, use the good stuff, the Tamari.  Let them sit out for a few minutes and let all of the flavors mingle.

I would not recommend using anything other than cast iron for this recipe.  Add two tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to a cast iron skillet and heat over medium.  Make sure the skillet is heat through before adding the fish.  Carefully add the fish and  cook for 4 minutes. 

Carefully turn the filets and cook on the other side for 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat momentarily.

Sprinkler a 1/4 cup white wine over the filets and add the following to each:  A few small pats of butter, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped chives, 2 teaspoons of capers, 1 tablespoon of sliced Kalamata olives.

Finish off with 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Place the skillet in the oven for 10 minutes on the middle rack and then run the skillet under the broiler until the fish is golden brown.

This and a nice salad, a glass of wine, This was eyes roll in the back of your head good! 

Just one more food porn shot.  I have to make this again and soon!