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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Atlantica Parmesan and Asiago Crab Dip



This recipe has been in my to-try for the party for several months.  I collect recipes during the year then try them in the fall and come up with a final party menu by the end of November.  Over the years we've made many different crab dips.  You might think that we just love to test crabmeat recipes.  Hmmm.  Guilty as charged :-)


We made this for our dinner party for our football friends.  Everyone loved it.  Then, we took the leftovers to our friends Andy and Mary Kay's.  Again, everyone loved it.  But, it just isn't quite as good as the crab dip I've made before.  And, since I make a couple hundred mini crabcakes for the party, everyone gets a good dose of crabmeat there.  I made half a recipe and this served 10 for appetizers.


Atlantica Parmesan and Asiago Crab Dip


Ingredients:
16 oz crab meat
16 oz cream cheese
1 c mayonnaise
1 1/2 c finely grated parmesan
1 1/2 c finely grated asiago cheese (I used gruyere)
1 c sour cream
2 heads of garlic, roasted
2 large handfuls of cooked fresh spinach




Directions:


Whip the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise.  Blend in the spinach. Stir in the garlic, parmesan and asiago.  Mix well. The recipe calls for baking this at 400 until it's hot and bubbly.  I also served it cold - after it'd been baked once.  Both were very good.

adapted from Where and What in the World

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Time



Connie and I are absolutely in the minority on Black Friday.  We don't even attempt to go to the grocery store.  Neither of us has the shopping gene.  And, we particularly don't have the crowded shopping gene.  My favorite trips to the store involve a list and a plan and a no lines.  Well, unless there's a rack of cookbooks.  Then, you'll find me browsing.  But, you knew that :-)

On Thanksgiving, we were lucky to be able to go to my brother and sister-in-laws.  Talk about extended family.  My niece and nephew, my mom, my sister-in-law's sister and folks.  My niece's husband and stepdaughter and his grandparents. Plus, my sister-in-law's cousin and his wife and their daughter and her mom and brother.  Nineteen of us total.  We are indeed thankful to be part of such a wonderful family! 

While the turkeys were on sale, I bought one so we'd have leftovers.  The day after Thanksgiving is when we roast our own turkey.  Last year, I pretty much followed Alton Brown's recipe.  This year I combined his, what a friend told me about Pam Anderson's, my brother's and my own.  Actually, my intent wasn't to even blog about the turkey since I'd blogged about Alton's recipe last year.  But, this turkey was the best yet so more than anything I want to get the instructions written down before I forget a bit of them. 

Kate's Turkey with Thanks to Alton et al

Ingredients:

for the brine:
1 gallon vegetable stock (we just add Penzey's stock base to the other ingredients when we heat them)
1 c kosher salt
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 T black peppercorns
1 T allspice berries
1 T candied ginger
1 lemon, thinly sliced


for the aromatics and base:
1 red apple, quartered
1 onion, quartered
2 large sprigs rosemary
2 large sprigs sage
8 ribs celery
8 whole carrots

for the baste:
16 oz can jellied cranberry sauce
4 oz can orange juice concentrate
1 c red wine
1 stick butter

Directions:

The night before you're going to roast the turkey, it's time to brine it.  Put the brine ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Cover with water. 



Simmer until the salt has pretty much dissolved.  I've found it never dissolves totally.  Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.  Add the brine ingredients to a large stockpot and fill it halfway with water.  Add the thawed turkey breast side down then add water to assure the turkey is fully submerged. 



Allow the turkey to soak in the brine for 8-16 hours.

Preheat your oven to 500.  Prepare the roasting pan.  Lay the carrots and celery in the bottom of the pan - two ribs of celery then two carrots... 



Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it well with cool water.  Place the turkey breast side down on the carrots and celery.  Stuff the onion, apple, sage and rosemary in the cavity.  Rub the turkey with butter or canola oil.  Place the roasting pan in the oven.  Roast the turkey for 30 minutes then reduce the heat to 350.  If the skin gets too dark, you can cover it with foil.  Roast another two hours breast side down. 

When you put the turkey in the oven, start your basting sauce.  Put all of the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and stir to combine as the butter and cranberry sauce melt.  Baste the turkey once or twice while it's cooking skin-side down.

After two and a half hours, flip the turkey breast side up.  (nb:  we've found a pair of oven mitts works wonderfully for this.)  Baste it well.  Roast for another hour and a half to two hours, basting regularly.  Again, if the skin gets too dark, you can tent it with foil.

Alton's recipe calls for removing the turkey from the oven when it reaches 161 degrees.  Mine hit 175 at four hours - which is when I checked it... 

Allow the turkey to rest for 15-20 minutes while you make the gravy.  Use some of the drippings with the fat to start the gravy the skim the fat from more drippings to add to the gravy.  I also add about 1/2- 1 cup of water. 

We found that the carrots used as a base and the onions stuffed in the turkey made for some fantastic eating.  We didn't try the apple or celery. 


 adapted from Alton Brown, Pam Anderson and John Marvel

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Open-faced Roquefort Burger



CVS, H.H. Gregg, Menards, Sams Club, Kroger.  Calcium carbonate for George food (aka cat food) Check.  Freezer shopping.  Check.  Ingredients for George food.  Check.  Weird shopping list (full flavor molasses, parsnips, cheesecloth, apples, cucumber, red wine vinegar - see what I mean!) Check.  All done in two and a half hours.  Home at 8:30.  Blast.  Never thought about dinner.  Well, that's ok, I have the ingredients for cat food and his food has hamburger in it.  We can always steal a pound and run to the grocery on Thanksgiving.  Found out tonight that they're open until 3pm on Thanksgiving.  There must be a LOT of people who forget things and have to run out to the store.  Hopefully, I'm not one of them.  Ok, let's get out the new burger cookbook.  It's called Burgers and is by Paul Gayler.  We've had another burger from this cookbook and loved it.  So, start reading the beef recipes and every one sounds wonderful.  The tipping point was that I wanted an open-faced burger and I had kumatoes to use up (remember the tomatoes that are brown/black and remind me of the black brandwines?)  The open-faced roquefort burger was it.  The recipe called for half an onion, chopped.  I didn't want to waste half an onion so into a skillet with a bit of olive went the second half.  Then, on the voyage to get to the mayonnaise, I saw half an onion I'd wrapped up from Monday evening.  Into the skillet it went also.  The burger needed to be served on bread of some sort.  We had some antique muffins or some oatnut bread.  Well, if the muffins were toasted they'd be fine.  Yes, they were.  The recipe actually called for chilling the butter/cheese mixture.  Hey, when it's 9pm and you're just now fixing dinner chilling butter and cheese for a couple of hours is NOT an option.  Finally, the burgers were on the grill, the candles on the dining room table were lit, the onions were sauteed, the tomatoes were sliced, the mayo for the muffins was gussied up and we were ready to go. 

What did we think?  Five out of five.  I'll make these again any day.  The combination of the butter and blue cheese in the middle of a perfectly seasoned burger from the recipe plus the mayo mixture I dreamed up was just awesome.  If you're a tomato-holic like I am, these kumatoes are like a bit of summer on your plate.  They're not inexpensive but are worth every penny.  We find ours at Trader Joes.

Open-faced Roquefort Burger
serves 2

Ingredients:


for the burger:
1 lb ground beef (we used 80% lean)
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 T butter, softened
2 T blue cheese
1 T snipped fresh chives

for serving:
2 T mayonnaise
1 T blue cheese
2-3 t capers
1/2 t white truffle oil
pinch black truffle salt
2 small tomatoes, sliced into four slices each
1 large sweet onion, thinly slice
1 T olive oil
1 english muffin, split and toasted

Directions:

Mix the ground beef, egg yolk, diced onion, dijon mustard, Worcestershire and garlic together.  Separate the mixture into four patties. 



Mix the butter, blue cheese and chives together.  Form into two disks.  Place a disk on each of two patties. 



Use the other two patties as lids.  Seal the edges well.

Saute the onion in the olive oil until it's caramelized.

Mix the mayonnaise and blue cheese together well.  Add in the capers, truffle oil and truffle salt.  Set aside.

Grill the burgers.  We found about four minutes per side on direct heat on the grill was fine.  As the burgers are about done, toast the muffins. 

To serve, slather the muffins with the caper mayonnaise.  Top each muffin with a burger.  Then top each burger with tomato slices then sauteed onions. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Irish Pancakes



It's Secret Recipe Club time again!  And, I was assigned a gem of a blog.  Josie's Kitchen.  Josie oozes enthusiasm for life and is a delight to read.  Most months I print a dozen recipes and debate what I'm going to try.  This time, I found MY recipe in a few minutes.  Irish Pancakes.  Something I've never had.  You see, when I've been to Ireland, I've focused on oatmeal or a traditional Irish breakfast. 


Let's talk for a moment about a traditional Irish breakfast.  It's unlike anything you've ever had.  Josie has a perfect description of one on her blog.  Here's a link to her blog about their trip to Ireland:  Irish breakfast.  The closest thing I've found here in the states is a restaurant on Cape Cod that we frequent that has real Irish breakfasts.  I'm feeling stuffed just thinking about one!!


I've been to Ireland twice and have loved the food.  My favorite was something that I couldn't find the second trip - a salad sandwich.  It's a mixture of cucumbers, tomato and mayo on bread.  Unfortunately, I think the food in Ireland has become too global and some of the old standby's have gone by the wayside. 


So, back to the Irish Pancakes.  It's funny about how we all have preconceived notions.  Pancake.  To an American it means a light fluffy syrup delivery system.  This recipe called for drizzling each plate with lemon juice then sprinkling it with powdered sugar.  THEN, you put the pancake on top.  Ok, so  I did that.  Grudgingly since pancake means shagbark hickory syrup to me.  The pancakes were more like crepes.  And they were oh, so very good.  Thank you Josie!  It's been a delight getting to know you :-)






Irish Pancakes


Ingredients:


1 c flour
4 eggs
1 T sugar
1 c milk
2-3 T butter
powdered sugar
lemon juice


Directions:


Pour the flour into a medium bowl.  Make a well in the center.  Crack each egg into a small bowl then pour it into the well.  (nb:  that way if you do get shell in the egg you don't have to fish through the flour...)  Whisk the eggs and flour together.  Add the sugar and whisk it in.  Slowly add the milk, whisking after each addition.  Once the batter is nice and smooth, put it aside for an hour to rest. 

Prepare your plates.  Drizzle each with lemon juice then sprinkle with powdered sugar.  I took half a lemon and gently squeezed once around the plate then used about 2 t of powdered sugar per plate.



Heat a medium skillet.  Put in about 1/2 t of butter.  When it's sizzling, you're ready to cook your first pancake.  I used a regular ladle to pour the batter in.  It should cover the bottom of the skillet. 



I used medium heat and the first side took five minutes.  The second side took two minutes. 



When both sides are nice and brown, slide the pancake onto a prepared plate.  Now, doesn't that photo make you want to run in your kitchen and make some of these! 

Here are the other recipes in this week's Secret Recipe club reveal.  If you'd like to visit SRC, I've included a link up in the first line of this blog.  It's a lot of fun to participate in.  Each month we're assigned a blog.  Actually, there are so many of us that we're divided into four groups and each group has a Monday.  So, on our Monday at 7:00 am we reveal the recipe we've made from our assigned blog. 


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lasagna



I am so far behind on posting some of the wonderful dishes we've tried.  Then, we went and had a dinner party and tried a bunch of new dishes.  And, all of them were wonderful.  That's on top of the party food testing I did last weekend at Donna and Phil's.  And, the new dishes I tried last week.  And, the 30 or so recipes I've got on the list to blog about.  And, the new recipes I've got on the menu to try this week.  How to choose knowing there just isn't enough time to blog about everything and get my house ready for the Girls Night Out Crew on December 2nd.  Oh, and work so I can afford to buy the food and have a house to cook in!  Well, the long and short of it is that this recipe was so good that you need to hear about it.

Many years ago when Connie and I first met, we bought Colts tickets.  That's still before their glory days.  And, well before their total meltdown this year.  Nonetheless, we love our Colts.  Now, we were lucky enough to be seated by some really wonderful folks.  When the new stadium was built, all of us requested to be seated together again.  Two of our game neighbors - Brenda and Janet - became really good friends.  And over the years their good friends - Roy and Nancy, who live across the street from them - have become good friends of ours also.  Long story short, the four of them came over for dinner.  We'd plotted and planned this over a burger and beer at the Lockerbie Pub after a game.  Nobody in the group is very picky so I could have as much fun as I wanted with the menu.   Then, I read Fine Cooking and couldn't get the lasagna with homemade noodles out of my head.  Ditto the gingerbread trifle.  The menu was set!

Let's start with the total menu:

Atlantica parmesan and asiago crab dip
Lasagna with homemade lasagna noodles
Casa d'Angelo salad
Ciabatta rolls with compound herb butter
Gingerbread brandy trifle

What did we think?  I've made homemade pasta for years.  Connie bought me a pasta roller set for my Kitchen Aid years ago.  And, I've used the heck out of it.  The cutters are set for linguine and spaghetti.  It never occurred to me to make lasagna with the dough.  Until I read the article in the Dec, 2011 Fine Cooking.  Eureka!  That sounds great and easy.  And, none of these guys would care that I was covered with flour and the kitchen was a mell of a hess.  Everyone was most intrigued by the process of making the dough and putting it through the roller.  The biggest question was when do you know it's ready?  My answer was pretty vague - it just feels right.  It has to have the right smoothness and elasticity.  And, it shouldn't be tacky.  The recipe in Fine Cooking was a bit different from the one that came with the roller and cutter set.  Fine Cooking called for starting with 2 1/2 c of flour and adding more as you knead it.  My Kitchen Aid book called for 3 1/2 c.  I started with 3 cups and added more as I put the dough through the rollers.  The FC recipe also called for five layers of pasta.  I'm certain I didn't roll it as thin as I should have because I wound up with enough pasta for three layers.  And, only two would fit in the 9x13 pan I had out.  None of that really mattered.  The lasagna was wonderful.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it with store-bought noodles again.  The sauce was super easy to make and was perfect with all the cheeses.  All in all it was a total success!

Lasagna

For the pasta:

3 c all purpose flour
4 large eggs
1/2 t salt


For the sauce:

2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, smashed
2 - 28 oz cans whole plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T kosher salt
6 large basil leaves, torn by hand into 1/2" pieces

To assemble the lasagna:

1 lb sausage, browned and drained
2 c whole milk ricotta (I used skim)
2 1/2 c shredded mozzarella
2 c grated fresh fontina
1 c grated fresh Parmesan Reggiano
3/4 c grated fresh Parmesan Reggiano


Directions:

About two and a half hours before you plan to serve the lasagna, you need to start the sauce.  First you saute the garlic cloves in the olive oil using a large saucepan.  The recipe calls for removing the garlic.  I used finely minced cloves and left it in.  In my world there's rarely a thing known as too much garlic.  Then, dump the tomatoes, crushed red pepper and salt in.  I crushed the tomatoes as I poured them in.  The recipe doesn't call for doing that.  Simmer the sauce for 45 minutes.  Once the tomatoes have really broken down, whisk the sauce vigorously.  Tear the basil and add it.  Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. 

Next, you need to get the cheeses ready for the assembly.  Grate the mozzarella (or cheat and buy it already grated like I did...)   Grate the fontina and the Parmesan.  Combine all three cheeses in a bowl.  Grate the other 3/4 c of Parmesan and set it aside for topping. 

Next it's time to make the pasta.  Using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, put your flour, eggs and salt in the mixing bowl.  Use the flat beater and beat for 30 seconds on speed 2.  Switch out the flat beater for the dough hook and beat the dough for an additional two minutes.  Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it by hand for 1-2 minutes.  Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes before rolling it out.   Divide the dough into quarters to roll it.  You'll want your strips to be about 1/6" thick when you're done.  Lay the rolled dough strips on a floured surface - preferably parchment paper or your kitchen counter.  Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta for about 30 seconds.  Drain the pasta in a colander and put under cold running water. 

To assemble the lasagna.  Put the ricotta in a large mixing bowl and pour the tomato sauce over it.  Mix it well.  Put about a half cup of sauce in the bottom of your lasagna pan.  You want it to just coat the pan.  Lay a layer of pasta over the sauce.  Trim the ends to fit. 

Sprinkle half the sausage over the pasta, followed by half of the cheese mixture then half of the sauce.  Add the 2nd layer of pasta.  Repeat the sausage, cheese and sauce.  Top with the 3/4 c grated Parmesan.  Bake for an hour at 350.  Allow the lasagna to sit for 20 minutes prior to serving it. 

adapted from Fine Cooking and the Kitchen Aide pasta cookbook

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hot Chicken Salad and Warm Mushroom Salad



Friday night was shopping night.  I know.  What an exciting date, huh?  Actually, truth be told, Connie and I just like being around each other.  So, grocery shopping is a fine date for us.  We're having company for dinner on Saturday so we had to get the provisions for that.  And, while we were doing that it made sense to buy a turkey on sale ($13.71 for a 26 pound turkey!!) along with green beans and broccoli for Thanksgiving at my brother's house and the groceries we'll need for the dishes we're taking to our friends Mary Kay and Andy's one evening next week.  A couple of evenings we'll be having something from the freezer since I need to get it cleaned out to make room for party food.  So, we needed some things for the sides those evenings. 

As usual, when I was at Sam's I picked up a rotisserie chicken.  $4.99 for a huge chicken that will make eight servings without the least bit of stretching.  A couple of weeks ago I made hot browns with a rotisserie chicken then we had the leftovers for lunches.  Hopefully, I'll get that post done this coming week.  We had a snafu with getting photos off the camera so I've had to stick to posting dishes whose photos were taken with the point and shoot. 

It was a bit chilly and I didn't want a huge production so I thought about a hot chicken salad.  Now, my mom makes a mean hot chicken salad.  But, my favorite of all time is from the Gooseberry Patch Taste of Autumn cookbook.  We first made it in December, 2006 and rated it a four star (out of five.)  Since then I've probably made it at least annually.  And, every time we ummm and ahhh over it.  This time I had some cheddar cheese that needed to be used up.  The recipe calls for topping the salad with shredded swiss cheese and potato chips.  I didn't have any potato chips.  But, I did have Cheezits.  Perfect substitution.  In fact, I liked it so well that I noted on the recipe to make it that way in the future!

So, as an aside here... When I try a recipe I write down the date and rating on the page in the cookbook.  I also write notes about substitutions or what I'd do differently next time.  The only thing I've not done is write a note in the front of each cookbook telling me where I got it.  This one was in a lovely gift shop somewhere.  I remember buying it and would recognize the shop but I have NO clue where said shop was... I also keep a log book of recipes I've tried from cookbooks.  That way I can find them in my collection.

While I was fixing the chicken salad, Connie was putting away groceries.  He brought up a box of mushrooms that needed to be used.  We were also running out of room between the turkey and a rack of lamb ribs that I'd taken out of the freezer to be smoked today and grilled with some bourbon barbecue sauce tomorrow..  What better way to have the mushrooms take up less room than to slice and saute them?  Once that got started, my mind wandered to a wonderful warm mushroom salad I'd made years ago.  Unfortunately, I've been scanning in my recipes and they're a mell of a hess.  I couldn't find the recipe.  So, I guessed.  Connie inhaled the salad so I must've guessed well :-)

Hot Chicken Salad
4 servings

Ingredients:
2 c cooked chicken, diced
2 c celery, diced
8 oz can diced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 c toasted pecans, chopped
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 t celery salt
2 T lemon juice
2 t dried onion
1 c shredded cheddar or swiss cheese
crushed Cheezits or potato chips

Directions:

Mix everything but the cheese and crunchy topping together. 






Spray an 8x8 casserole dish with cooking spray.  Spread the chicken salad in the casserole.  Top it with the shredded cheese and Cheezits or potato chips.  Bake it at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until it's bubbling. 

Warm Mushroom Salad

Ingredients:

16 oz box white button mushrooms, sliced
1 T olive oil
fresh baby spinach - about a cup per person
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
1/2 t celery salt
1/4 t garlic
1/4 t celery seed
1/4-1/2 c finely grated Gruyere or Parmesan or Romano

Directions:

Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil.  They'll go from dry to very moist to dry again.  You want them to get to the second dry stage and actually start to brown a bit. 



Mound spinach on each salad plate.  Mix the salad dressing:  evoo, vinegar, celery salt, garlic and celery seed.  While the mushrooms are still very hot, divide them among the salad plates.  Drizzle with salad dressing and top with a tablespoon or two of grated cheese.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011



It's apple season!  I love being able to get fresh apples.  Not the almost crispy ones they sell in the stores in June, the ones that are truly crisp and juicy and you just know they were picked that day.  Yum!  Not far from our home there's a place called Lilly Orchard.  Now, when I was a kid it was really an orchard.  Then, an exclusive private school bought the land and built, yup, a school.  They kept the apple store though I'm not certain where they get all of the apples.  We stopped there on the way home from a funeral.  I had every intention of making a waldorf salad.


Then, as usual, fate intervened.  My celery was at work so a waldorf salad was out of the question.  Just that day I'd seen a salad on Annie's Eats.  It had apples in it.  But, it didn't sound like something I wanted to make right then.  But, MomChef's pasta sauce was going to be quick and I needed a quick salad that used apples.  And, I had all the ingredients. There you go.  Fate.


What did we think?  Well, you'll get the idea if I tell you we made the same salad again the next night.  And, if I'd had more apples we'd have made it a third time.  YUM!  I changed out Annie's feta cheese for blue cheese.  We love both but I wanted blue...  The almonds were so good that Connie's asked if I can make them just for snacking.  And, the best thing - Connie's not a huge fan of fruit but he loved this.  If you'd like to see the original salad, here's a link to the recipe on Annie's site.  While you're there, I hope you'll wander around and get some more wonderful ideas like I do.

Harvest Apple Salad

Ingredients:



For the dressing:

¼ c finely minced sweet onion

3 T red wine vinegar (I was out of cider which the original recipe called for)

3 T white wine or champagne vinegar

2 T sesame seeds

Pinch of paprika

2 T sugar

½ c extra virgin olive oil



For the almonds:

2 T unsalted butter

¾ c sliced or slivered almonds

1 T sugar



For the salad:

10 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed and dried

2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced

4 oz. crumbled blue cheese

Directions:

Whisk all the dressing ingredients except for the oil together. 



Pour the oil in in a steady stream, whisking as you pour. 



For the almonds, heat the butter in a small skillet.  When it's melted, add the almonds.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the almonds have browned nicely.  Sprinkle the sugar over the almonds and stir, stir, stir.  When you've got a nice caramel glaze on the almonds, remove them from the heat and put them on a plate to cool. 





To put the salads together, mound some spinach on each salad plate.   Top it with sliced apples. 



Then, drizzle some dressing over the salads. 



Top them with the crumbled blue cheese and the almonds.

adapted from Annie's Eats





Monday, November 14, 2011

Mom Chef's Pasta Sauce



My friend the MomChef is a master at finding wonderful recipes.  I really don't want to count the number of recipes I have to try.  Nor do I want to know the number that are from her blog.  If I've not said it before, here it is:  I could pretty much just cook from her blog.  It's that good.  The other day, she posted this incredibly easy recipe.  It reminded me of two things. 


First was when I was in my early twenties and lived in Fort Wayne, IN.  I was recently divorced and was working three jobs to make ends meet.  They still didn't meet very well so I was VERY frugal when it came to my grocery bill.  One of the things I did was sign up for some club where we tested products.  One of the products I was sent was Kraft Spaghetti Dinner.  Now, most of us bloggers are folks who try to cook everything from scratch.  Even now, though, there are times that a box mix is a wonderful thing. 


So, I received the box mix of spaghetti and the instructions said to combine the sauce mix with a can of tomato paste and a couple of cans of water.  Viola - number two!  The barbecue sauce my father used to make.  The base was tomato paste and water.  He died when I was 21 so I never really had the opportunity to learn a lot of his cooking secrets.  I'd remembered opening the can of tomato paste but couldn't put the rest of it together until I received that box mix. 


Now, Christiane's sauce had less than a can of tomato sauce in the paste.  It also had no red wine.  Red sauce in my house has red wine in it.  The box mix uses a whole can of tomato paste.  And, I really hate all those frozen blobs of tomato paste.  You know where this is going, don't you???  Yup, I made Christiane's sauce and doctored it up with some red wine.  Fine.  A lot of red wine.  I'd opened a bottle thinking that even though Connie didn't feel wonderful, he'd want a glass.  Nope.  No wine for hubby.  More for the spaghetti sauce.  I also had some mushrooms that needed to be used up.  So, into the sauce they went...


What did we think?  I munched on leftovers for breakfast.  We shared the rest of the leftovers for lunch the next day.  This was super easy and super flavorful. 

Christiane's Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

9 oz pasta (the original recipe called for fresh linguine, I used dried farfallini)
1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
6 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 T garlic, minced
1 t dried oregano
1 t Italian seasoning
1/4 t salt
4 oz can tomato paste
1 1/2 c red wine (cabernet is great)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 c finely grated romano cheese (more for serving)
1 T fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Start the water for the pasta.  In a large skillet, saute the onion with a little oil.  Add the ground beef and brown and drain it.  Add the garlic, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt, tomato paste, wine and tomatoes.  Simmer for about 15 minutes.  While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta.  Before serving the sauce, toss in the 1/2  cheese and stir well.  Serve topped with chopped parsley and more grated cheese.

adapted from MomChef, originally from Cooking Light 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chickpea Flatbread with Parsley Olive Salad



This recipe has been in my Try NOW pile for a couple of weeks.  It's just been awaiting the right time to make it.  Sunday morning felt like the right time. 


Saturday evening we went to Civic Theatre to see Amadeus.  Connie said he knew I wanted to leave asap the third time I put my head on his shoulder.  I did NOT like the play.  Not that it was poorly acted or that the set was bad.  I just didn't like the play.  We came home at intermission and curled up in our chairs and read the paper.  Well, confession here.  I read the paperS.  I'm a couple of weeks behind.  Sunday morning I got up really early and signed on to the office computer and got a lot done.  As in enough that I didn't feel like I had to go to the office for a couple of hours before the Colts game.  All of the sudden, I had time to make the chickpea flatbread. 


I really had no idea what to expect with this.   So, what did we think?  Amazing.  I loved the way the flavors played together.  Connie would've given this a five instead of a four (on a scale of one to five) if it'd had less "green stuff on top."  I thought the amount of said green stuff was perfect and gave it a five.   The only downside is the prep time.  You need to leave the batter sitting for half an hour then bake it for an equal amount of time.   So, this isn't something you decide to whip up for lunch...  But, it's worth every minute of the time!

Now, before we get to the salad, I've got to show you some of my favorite photos from a bit ago.  My good friend, Joe, who's the grand poobah of our producers group, came into town to visit.  My colleague Grant, from Greencastle, and his associate, Josh, joined Joe and Connie and me at St. Elmos for dinner.  If you've never heard of St. Elmo's, it's THE place to go for steak in Indy.  They're world renowned for their shrimp cocktail.  It's usually wicked hot but this time I didn't even break a sweat.  Usually, the sweat is dripping down my brow.  Here's Joe and Grant and me:


But, that's not the fun part.  Here's the fun part:


That's one of the THREE boxes of goodies I took home.  One had spinach and potatoes and the other half of my steak.  The other two had bones.  Dog bones.  Annie was in her element:






Poor Doggie Woggie.  Has to have good doggly manners and wait until she's given the bone.  It's just like when we get home from the office in the evening.  A doggie is expected to SIT in the back seat until her human releases her from the car.  She's now made it through three of the five bones.  Happy Doggie!




Chickpea Flatbread with Parsley Olive Salad


Ingredients:

For the Flatbread:


1 1/4 cups hummus (about a 10-ounce container)

Generous pinch of ground cumin

Generous pinch of dried rosemary

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


For the Salad:

1 cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 T lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

First, you need to make the batter and let it sit for half an hour.  Combine the hummus, cumin, rosemary



and 1/2 c hot water.  Then, whisk in one tablespoon of olive oil followed by the flour. 



While the batter is resting, preheat your oven to 450 and make your salad.  Combine the parsley, green pepper, green onions and kalamata olives. 



Toss that with at tablespoon each of olive oil and lemon juice.

When the batter has been resting for about 20 of its 30 minutes, start heating a 12" cast iron skillet on the stovetop - that's assuming you've got an electric stove and not a gas stove that'll actually heat quickly.  At any rate, you want the cast iron skillet to be pretty screaming hot.  At 30 minutes, you're going to put the last tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet, pour in the batter and schmear it around to level it then pop the whole thing in the oven.  The oil will pop and spatter so be very careful.  The recipe said to cook this for 30 minutes then put shards of the flatbread on the plates.  Mine cut into lovely quarters. 



And, one edge was overcooked but that's because I've got a lousy oven.

 

adapted from Foodtv.com

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tuscan Beans with Tuna



Do you ever get all the ingredients assembled for a recipe THEN read the instructions.  I know.  We're not supposed to do that.  We're supposed to read the ENTIRE recipe first.  Then, assemble the ingredients in their mis en place.  Unfortunately, my life doesn't always work that way.  Particularly when a recipe is for lunch.  I receive the magazine and read some of the articles.  As I go, I scan the recipes and tear out the pages for those I want to try.  I used to save all of my cooking magazines and had a lovely notebook listing all the recipes I wanted to try.  Then, the magazines took over.  Try they filled a 4' long, six shelf high metal shelving unit.  UGH.  Tiime to start clipping.  I now have boxes of clipped recipes.  They're stored in envelopes with titles like Try Soon or Later.  Why I even keep the Later ones, I don't know.  I'll never get to them.  They're merely taking up room.  And, even if I implement the scanning system I'd like to use, they'll never get scanned in much less named and uploaded.  Good grief, my photos are lucky to be put in named folders.  Wasn't all of this technology supposed to help?  Yes, I guess it really does.  At the office we've got an imaging system.  I now have 62 directories where I can store info.  And, store it I do.  It's nice because in the Financial Planning directory I've got sub-directories and can now pull up articles for reference easily.  Before they languished in a file drawer never to be seen again.  Now, I actually use them.  And, I've set up a virtual recipe index that's very similar.  The problem is that I'm getting so many recipes to try in that that I can't keep up.  If I could talk Lizzy from That Skinny Chick can Bake and Christiane from Taking on Magazines one Recipe at a Time from posting so many good recipes, a good part of my problem would go away.  But, alas, both of them are wonderful cooks and tend to post things I really want to try.  Now, I've got to start organizing those files too.  Vegetables no longer works.  Individual names do.  Eggs.  Way too broad.  We're into omelets, frittatas, sandwiches, deviled, casseroles, etc.  LOL - did I ever get off on a rant there...  All because I didn't read the whole recipe!

It turns out that these beans are actually supposed to be heated with the kale.  Hmmm.  I can do a lot of cooking at the office but I don't have a burner.  Therefore, this became a cold salad - just as I'd originally envisioned it when I read the recipe.  What did we think?  On a scale of 1-5 it was a high 4.  And, on a 1-5 scale of having good for my eyes ingredients, it hit one out of the ballpark.  I should probably have this weekly.  (Molly, you can tell Don to attach this recipe to his list - lol.)  Kale is a nutritional powerhouse but it needs to be prepared properly.  In this case, I used the huge leaves from our plants in the garden.  They were carefully washed, spun dry then VERY finely sliced.  The original recipe called for sage which I neglected to bring from home.  And, since I had appointments right after lunch, I left the garlic out and just used some Italian dressing.

Tuscan Beans with Tuna

Ingredients:
1 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
3/4 pound kale, stems and ribs discarded, large leaves sliced very finely
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3 inner stalks celery, thinly sliced (with some leaves)1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives

1 jar chopped roasted red peppers

1 can tuna packed in water, not drained
1 can tuna packed in olive oil, not drained
Italian dressing to taste

Directions:

Toss everything in a large bowl.  (nota bene:  much easier than the original instructions that involved sauteeing the beans in olive oil and adding in the kale...  If you'd like to go through all that hassle, please see the original recipe on foodtv.)


adapted from foodtv.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Longwood Gardens

Last but certainly not least.  Do you do that too?  Rank your favorite places you saw and favorite things you did while you were on vacation?  If this wasn't our favorite, it was very, very close.  I'm going to let the photos do the talking here:


 Thousands of hyacinth bulbs going in.  Can you see this in the spring???

 This is a whispering bench.  Let's just say it's a lot of fun to use!






 Gotta turn your heads to the side here...  These are mums - on huge frames.

 My sweetie puts his fingers in the water.  And this is one of, oh about two or three dozen water features.  Yup, we could make a WHOLE album out of the water photos!
 Staircase railing.  I wish mine were as interesting.
 Some kind of national mum show was going on.  There were dozens of fascinating mums.
 How many of you have seen greenhouses so large they have room for lawns?  I didn't think so.

 Ok, turn your head to the side - right side that is.  Now, see the blue sliver?  That's Connie checking out another water feature.  But, he's almost hidden under the plants.









Now, wasn't that amazing?  The greenhouses cover acres.  And the gardens themselves.  We barely scratched the surface.  Can't wait to go back when flowers are blooming.  This place is totally incredibleLongwood Gardens.