Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's For Dinner? Sample Menu 2

I sit down every Sunday and plan the meals out for the upcoming week. I check to see what I have and then write on my grocery list things that need to be bought to make the meals complete. Makes my Monday morning shopping trip a breeze. Krystal came up with a great idea - why don't we switch off every Sunday and post our menu's for the week? Awesome. Great inspiration and organization!

I even bought myself this little baby here at Color Me Sassy on Etsy to help me keep things straight - and to keep the kids from asking me "WHAT'S FOR DINNER?" So... what's for dinner in the Vietti house this week?
Sunday: Turkey Minon, mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts (roasted not fried)
Tuesday: Burritos using my Crock Pot Chicken & Salsa recipe
Wednesday: Pizza Pasta and green salad
Friday: Enchiladas using the leftovers from my Crock Pot Chicken & Salsa recipe
Saturday: Homemade Pizza and green salad

Happy first week of December everyone:)

Tortilla Soup

This is one of my cheats - and it's a good un'
Tortilla Soup
Bear Creek Tortilla Dry Soup Mix
1 can black beans
1 can corn
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
Bring 8 cups of water to a rolling boil. Whisk in soup mix. Add black beans and corn. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Put the soup in individual serving bowls and add sour cream and shredded cheese. Serve with tortilla chips!
You could also add shredded chicken
*Make this 'diet' by using non-fat sour cream and reduced fat cheese

Crock Pot Chicken & Salsa Delite!

I am planning my weekly menu and just perused the site to see whether or not I've posted my "go to" mexican chicken. I did post it - but under a weird Title here so I am reposting it where it can easily be found...

This recipe is my go to for mexican. I am sure you all have this recipe - but it's so good - it's worth mentioning. I got this recipe from my friend Jen - who made it every single Sunday. She'd put everything in the crock - go to church and when they got home they were ready to eat!

Crock Pot Chicken & Salsa Delite!
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (as many as you need)
Salsa (not fresh - I use Pace)
Sour cream

Add all ingredients in your crock pot. I don't use measurements because I just eyeball it - and I really like sour cream. *Just make sure the chicken is mostly covered in the 'sauce' and you'll be fine.
Cook on low for 5 hours. When it's done, shred the chicken and serve. We use this in everything! Burritos, tacos, on nachos, on taco salad - the possibilities are endless!!

*Make this 'diet' by using non-fat sour cream and reduced fat cheese

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms

Another leftover idea:

Stuffed Mushrooms
Leftover stuffing (Fennel - Sausage Stuffing)
28 large (2 1/2-inch-diameter) white mushrooms, stemmed

Stuff the mushrooms with your leftover stuffing.
Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until heated through.

Bacon Cheddar Potato Pancakes

If you are anything like me - you have a TON of Thanksgiving leftovers. Let's brainstorm together about what to do with them!!
This morning I made:

Bacon Cheddar Potato Pancakes
Leftover Mashed Potatoes (Delish Potatoes)
Crumbled Bacon or Cubed Ham
Shredded cheddar

Saute bacon, ham and onions. Combine them with your leftover mashed potatoes and shredded cheese. Pat them into a pancake shape. Cook them just like pancakes until they are golden on both sides. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

As I have mentioned previously, my friend Jenny and I are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for our families together. She is doing the turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and apple pie.

I am doing sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, stuffing and rolls. I have posted all the recipes I will be making this holiday (below) and I would love to hear what you are making too!!

Megan's Favorite Rolls

Megan’s Favorite Rolls
4 t yeast
½ c melted shortening (cooled)
1 ½ c warm water
1 ½ t salt
3 eggs
4 ½ c flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Add all other ingredients. Stir and let rise 2 hours. Split in half. Roll out on floured surface in a circle. Brush with butter. Cut into 12 slices. Roll up from the end. Let rise 1 more hour.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes – until just golden on top.*shortening – room temp – I’ll microwave it for about 30 seconds right when I start – it’ll be cooled by the time you are ready for it.

Michael Symon's Brussels Sprouts

Michael Symon’s Fried Brussels Sprouts with walnuts and capers
Canola Oil, for deep-frying
1 garlic clove, minced
4 salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed, filleted and minced
1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the bias
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
2 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, and patted dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pour enough oil into a medium pot so that the oil comes 3 inches up the sides. Heat the oil to 300°F. *Or skip to roast them.
While the oil is heating, whisk together the garlic, anchovies, serrano, red wine vinegar, honey, scallions, walnuts, and extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl large enough to toss all the Brussels sprouts. Keep the bowl near the stovetop.
Working in batches, deep-fry the Brussels sprouts until the edges begin to curl and brown, about 3 minutes. To the last batch, add the parsley and capers (stand back, the capers will pop and sputter!). Give the contents of the pot a stir. When the color of the parsley, more saturated shade of green, about 1/2 - 1 minute, remove the contents of the pot with a skimmer and place directly into the bowl of dressing. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I made this and although we really liked the dressing – the Brussels sprouts were just too greasy. I am going to make this for Thanksgiving dinner – but I am going to opt for roasting them instead of deep frying them.
*Ina Garten Roasted Brussels Sprouts says to drizzle with EVOO, salt & pepper and roast them at 400 for 35 – 40 minutes.
** Be careful not to over roast these – Michael Symon said if you roast them too long they become bitter.

Decadent Mashed Potatoes

*Can make ahead of time – 1 or 2 days ahead!

Decadent Mashed Potatoes
5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
¾ cups Butter
1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened*
½ cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper
Preparation Instructions
Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.
Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.
Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.
Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.
Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

Ruth's Chris Special Sweet Potato Casserole – Chef Pat Gallagher of Ruth's Chris in Metairie
*The dish can be prepared days in advanced and then served with as little as 10 minutes of oven time before tabling.

Boil in skins 30 minutes then shock them with ice to stop the cooking. Let them cool for about an hour then peel and mash themMakes 12 servings
1 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup flour 1 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred) 1/3 stick butter, melted Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.

Sweet Potato Mixture
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes 1 cup sugar ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 eggs, well beaten 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
8x8 pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a medium-size casserole dish with butter.
Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a large mixing bowl in the order listed. Beat thoroughly with a hand mixer 4 minutes to increase the fluffiness of the sweet potato mixture.
Pour mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. (At this point, dish can be covered and refrigerated.)
After baked off. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture and return to oven for 10 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.
The brown sugar and pecan crust should be slightly browned and crunchy.

Fennel - Sausage Stuffing

Fennel-Sausage Stuffing – Food Network Magazine
In a large deep skillet, saute 1/2 pound crumbled sweet Italian sausage in 6 tablespoons butter for 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and add 1 diced fennel bulb, 1 diced onion, and 1 tablespoon each chopped sage and thyme; cook 5 minutes, then add 1 diced peeled apple and cook 2 minutes.
Pour in 2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth. Simmer until step 5.
In a large bowl, mix 2 eggs and 1/4 cup chopped parsley.
Add to the bowl 16 cups toasted white bread cubes and the hot broth mixture.
6. Gently toss the stuffing, then spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dot the top with butter or turkey pan drippings, cover and bake 30 minutes at 350. Uncover and bake until golden, 20 more minutes

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ingredient Substitutions

I was in the middle of making a recipe today and realized I was out of something. CRAP! So, I ran upstairs to look for a substitution online. I found THIS. It is an entire comprehensive list of ingredient substitutions from I copied and pasted it into word and printed it for use in my kitchen for everyday. Most of it is stuff we all have in our pantries. Hope it helps you too!

Thanksgiving Help

As we are both far away from home, my girlfriend and I are making Thanksgiving Dinner - the whole kit and kaboodle for our 2 families this year. We came up with the menu, did the shopping and are now feeling the excitement/anxiety of this huge Holiday Traditional Meal right around the corner - but feeling like we can't do anything about it because it is still a few days away!!

So - since I am the proactive gal I am - I got online this morning to find guidance from others who are far wiser than I am. Here is what I've come up with -

1. The Pioneer Woman rocks. I don't get over to her site very often, but I knew she'd have great advice on this holiday feast. I was not disappointed. I found her "Thanksgiving Cooking Schedule" very helpful.

2. I also cruised over to My Kitchen Cafe and found the coolest thing!! She did an entire week worth of posts called Thanksgiving 101 lots of great recipes and tips there too!

3. There is an amazingly comprehensive article here on What's Cooking America about How to Plan a Stress Free Thanksgiving Dinner keep scrolling down on this one - tons and tons of tips!
If you've come across another book/article/site that has helped you - please comment:)
Happy Cooking!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What's for Dinner? Sample Menu

Monday: Black Bean and Salsa Chicken, Salad and homemade Tortilla chips

Tuesday: Beef Stew (365 Days of Crockpot version), Rolls, and Salad

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Sandwiches, homemade fries

Thursday: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Turkey and ALL the fixings!

Friday: Eat out

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday: Round 2 of Turkey day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Recipe Review

I watched Oprah several months ago - he had Cat Cora, Curtis Stone and Tyler Florence as guests - they all shared 5(?) of their easy, delicious go to dinners.

This was one of Tyler Florences. Crispy Chicken Drumsticks with Ranch Dressing. Sounds good enough right? AND coming from one of the greatest chef's around - a chef that loves doing things the 'Ultimate' way and is always cooking comfort food - I thought this was a home run!

I wanted to make something special for my hubs tonight and Chicken Drumsticks sounded like a 'manly meal' to me. Uh. Not so much. Super disappointed.

If you watched the same Oprah episode that I did, I highly recommend you DO NOT TRY this recipe UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. Ewwwww...

Luckily the cheesy garlic bread and the 3 cheese rice I made were outstanding and saved the day!!
Crispy Chicken Drumsticks with Ranch Dressing – Tyler Florence
8 chicken legs
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder

Preheat the oven to 350° and place a roasting tray in the oven to heat up.Wash chicken legs under cold running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels, then toss in olive oil. In a large ziplock bag, combine seasonings and panko bread crumbs. Drop the drumsticks into the bag, and shake around to coat evenly.

Remove hot tray from oven and drizzle with a little olive oil—it will shimmer and smoke a little, as the tray should be nice and hot. Using tongs, place each drumstick on the tray, and place back in the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden and chicken is cooked through.
*First of all - 350 degrees is noooooot hot enough. 30 minutes is noooooot long enough. This is the second time I have gone out on a culinary limb and tried something besides boneless, skinless chicken breasts and neither time I have I been even remotely tempted to make either recipe again.
Word to the wise (and to the not so wise such as myself) if you are used to boneless, skinless, chicken breasts - don't ruin your taste for them by eating the 'parts' yuck!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baked Camembert Pasta

I bought Novembers issue of Food Network magazine - I am making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time this year and I need ideas!! But I came across this recipe from Jamie Olivers latest cookbook featured in the issue.
People meet Camembert. Cam, meet the people.

This is what he looks like straight out of the oven - mmmmmmmm...
Baked Camembert Pasta
8 oz. Camembert cheese
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper
4 oz parmesan cheese
1 lb rigatoni (or whatev)
6 cups/6 oz. fresh spinach leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open the box of cheese and unwrap it. Place it back in the wooden container. Score a circle into the top of the skin, then lift it off and discard. Peel and finely slice the garlic (I used minced from the jar). Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalk. Lay the garlic slices on top of the cheese, sprinkle with pepper and drizzel with EVOO. Scatter the rosemary leaves on top and gently pat with your fingers to coat them in oil.
Cook your pasta per directions on package. Add spinach in the last 10 seconds. Drain pasta and spinach - reserve some of the cooking water just in case. Add pasta and spinach back to pot. Drizzle with a couple of good lugs of EVOO and add the grated parm. If the sauce is too thick for you, add a splash of the reserved cooking water to thin it out a bit. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove cheese from the oven. Divide the pasta among your serving bowl. Either drizzle the melted camembert on top or pop the box of cheese on the table and let everyone help themselves to a lovely, gooey spoonful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Feeding America

Please take some time and send a free e-greeting card to your family and friends. For EACH e-greeting card you send, 10 meals are donated to Feeding America. Feeding America is an amazing cause dedicated to domestic hunger relief. They network with food banks and other charities local and national to help fight hunger in our neighborhoods. All YOU have to do is click HERE. Kraft foods is donating the monetary amount equal to 10 meals to Feeding America for EVERY single person you send one of their e-greeting cards to. Please drop your loved ones a few lines and help those that need help. It is the time to be thankful for what we have, lets help those less fortunate. God Bless you all! Meals for hungry kids, adults, seniors, maybe even our family or friends are just a click away! CLICK HERE TO HELP!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ode To Fontina

I have posted about Pizza Night before - if you haven't checked that post - do it - one of the best and definitely the fastest dough recipe you will ever find! Thanks again Jacqui!

Also - thanks to the comment from Tonya on my Baked Pasta with Sausage post thanks to you, our pizza night turned out extra delish!
She told me to try Fontina cheese on my pizza next time - and I did. It was so freakin' delicious! You know the pizza commercials where the cheese stretches from the pizza to the freshly cut slice 12" above it? That's gotta be Fontina. It's a really mild cheese, that absorbs the flavors around it and the melt factor is truly amazing!

Go ahead try it - you will thank me:) or actually - you'll thank Tonya!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baked Apples

I love apple pie - it is my favorite dessert - hands down. But - to make an apple pie properly takes a lot of time. So, I opted for baked apples tonight. I went with simple flavors and just winged it - they sure hit the spot!

Baked Apples
Brown Sugar

Cut a well into your apples (just like you are carving the top of a pumpkin off) then use your knife to dig a bit to get the seeds out - sounds more time consuming than it acutally is. Set your apples in a shallow baking dish. Put a scoopful of brown sugar down the well and then a pat of butter on top of the brown sugar. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes - until the apples are nice and tender. Serve with French Vanilla ice cream!

Egg Salad Sammies

I have no idea why I am craving eggs so much lately - but I am. Maybe my body needs more protein? Anyway...

I made these sandwiches for lunch today - yumma.

Egg Salad Sammies
6 eggs
1/3 c mayo
1/4 c red onion, diced
2 t mustard (I like dijon)
1 T minced dill
Kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Put eggs in sauce pan and cover with cool tap water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Drain then fill the stock pot with cold water and ice to stop the cooking process. Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes. Peel - I have found that the easiest way to peel a hard boiled egg is to tap the small pointed end to break the shell then break the shell off under running water. Use an egg slicer or a food processor but make sure you don't break up the eggs too much. Combine all other ingredients and serve on good bread.

*Make this a 'diet' food by using reduced fat or low fat mayo - and remember that eggs are an eggcellent source of protien!

Turkey Minon

This isn't a recipe - but it is one of my favorite fast proteins. Turkey Minon. I get them at Costco - every once in a while they will put them on special - 6 Minons for $4 - you can't beat that!!

Just put them on your grill (still frozen) for 8 minutes per side. Then roll them on their sides to crisp up the bacon. Super delish...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spicy Spinach Dip

This dip is super easy to make and is very yummy. You can make this in the crockpot or right on the stove and it takes only 3 easy steps.

1 16oz block Velveeta
1 8oz block cream cheese
1 can Rotel HOT tomatoes
1 10oz bag frozen spinach

Step 1: Melt the cheeses together. I've found cutting them in to one inch squares makes them melt faster.
Step 2: Add Rotel to the melted cheese.
Step 3: Add frozen spinach to the mixture and heat until the spinach is warmed through. (You want to make sure the spinach is still frozen when you add it but also make sure that there is not a ton of ice on the spinach. Too much ice will make your dip too runny. )

That's it!! You can serve with tortilla chips or my hubby and I like to eat it with a cut up loaf of french bread. Mmmmm......

Hot Artichoke Dip

I made my mother in laws Hot Artichoke Dip again - mmmmm delicious... see all that ooey gooeyness?
I only made 1/2 a batch today - but if you are making it for a crowd - def make the full recipe - I promise this will be the first thing gone!
If there are ever leftovers - we put them in our omeletts (sp?) Super delish...

You can check out the original posting with the recipe here

Monday, November 9, 2009

Baked Pasta with Sausage

I made this super delish recipe tonight for dinner. After eating his first helping - my husband announced "alright...this is my new favorite dinner" - that is saying a lot since at first glance, I thought it was just another take on lasagna - b/c let's face it - most Italian food is made up of the same basic ingredients (same with Mexican food now that I think of it...)
Anyway - I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's site and it tastes just like eating at Romano's Macaroni Grill - or your fav Italian place...
AND you can give yourself a big ol' pat on the back for sneaking in all that spinach! I just read about how spinach is a "documented Super Food" it goes on to say that "with most Super Foods, there are one or two nutrients in particular that push an individual food to best in category. With spinach, the list is so long and impressive that the wide range of individual nutrients coupled with the unmatched synergy of those nutrients make it a top Super Food."
The fact that all 3 of my kiddos macked this down, spinach and all, was most excellent (am I chanelling Bill & Ted? TOTALLY!)
You can make this in a 9"x13" casserole or you can split it into 2 8"x8" pans (one of my favorite tricks) serve one tonight, and keep the other in the freezer for up to three months. To freeze, prepare the dish up until you stick it in the oven; let cool completely before covering tightly with plastic wrap and put in the freezer. If you freeze this dish, do not thaw before baking (awesome!) Remove plastic wrap, and cover with foil. Cook until heated through, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Remove foil, then top with cheeses and bake 20 - 30 minutes at 400.

Baked Pasta with Sausage
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (if you are lazy like me - I use the prepared minced garlic in a jar - which would be 2 t)
1/4 cup vodka (I eliminated this)
28 oz diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 lb rigatoni (or whatever you have on hand - I like rigatoni or penne because the sauce fills up the inside of the pasta and sticks to the ribbing on the outside of the pasta)
10 oz fresh baby spinach
12 oz ground sausage (Martha uses pre cooked thickly sliced chicken sausage - you know me - I just use what's around!)
6 ounces fontina cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (I rarely salt my pasta - it seems that most of the time salt is naturally added with other components - and as a last resort - you can always add more salt per your preference - but I am giving you the Martha recipe... mostly). Put it in your biggest, deepest skillet without any oil over medium heat. If your sausage isn't precooked, take it out of the casings, break it up and cook it until no longer pink. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat; add vodka (if desired). Return to heat; cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute (this step is only necessary if you use vodka - like I said - I didn't and it turned out great!)
Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Before you drain the pasta - Add spinach, and cook just until wilted. Then drain and return contents to pot.
Add tomato & sausage mixture, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Put into your choice of casserole(s) dishes. Top with grated Fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

*You can substitute Mozzerella for Fontina. I have never used Fontina cheese before and can I just say that I am an instant fan. It costs about $5 for 6 oz. but so does fresh mozz. Fontina is very mild - but it melts like that is it's purpose in life. It gets all melty and gooey and lovely. Big fan.

**Also - you can substitute milk for heavy cream. I used heavy cream in this recipe - but it's not something I usually have on hand. I've got it stuck in my head that I can't keep anything dairy in my fridge unless it will serve a specific purpose in the next couple of days. I have realized that just isn't true! I bought heavy cream 2 weeks ago - and the expiration date on the bottle is the end of December. I have also realized that this is true with a few other items - like shredded parmesan cheese - which I will go into more detail in my next post... stay tuned!

Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo & Shrimp Pasta

This isn't exactly a recipe - more of an idea for dinner. Last night dinner kinda snuck up on me (this whole day light savings thing has got me all crazy). I hadn't defrosted anything - or had the slightest idea what I was going to make and everyone was starving...

So - I got in the freezer, fridge and pantry and came up with this... dinner was on the table in less than 15 minutes!

Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo & Shrimp Pasta
Shrimp - I use the pre-cooked, frozen for convenience
1 jar of your favorite alfredo sauce
sun dried tomatoes (pureed) *
artichoke hearts*
1/2 c toasted pine nuts*
Pasta (whatever you have on hand)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the pasta per directions on the package. Use a very small amount of EVOO to cook the shrimp. If you are using frozen (like I do) once they thaw out - you'll need to drain them (b/c of all the water that cooks off) then stick 'em back in the pan and season (if desired). Add in the alfredo and pureed tomatoes (I just eyeballed it - one big heaping scoop of tomatoes). Cook on med-low until the sauce is warm.
Drain pasta. Put pasta back in your stock pot and add shrimp mixture. I cut up the artichoke hearts pretty small and sprinkled the plate with toasted pine nuts. (Artichoke hearts not in the picture - this was my sons plate and he doesn't like them).

If you haven't toasted pine nuts before - don't be intimiated (b/c I was - how crazy is that?) get your smallest skillet - throw in a handful or pinenuts and cook on low until they are toasted (brown). The only real thing to keep in mind is that you want a dry skillet - no butter or oil please!

It was really good! Not bad for a last minute dinner!

Lots of tips/tricks on this one:)
*I have talked about my love affair with Costco before - but I am going to gush again. I buy a big ol' jar of Sun Dried Tomatos (in oil) - when I get home, I seperate the jar into dinner sized portions. I have a couple of containers of whole SDT and I puree the rest. Then, I always have that little 'gourmet' addition right on hand.
I also buy Kirkland Pesto sauce - and divide it into dinner sized portions to freeze as well - another 'gourmet' go to.
I buy a HUGE jar of artichoke hearts (marinated in oil) from Costco as well - you don't need to freeze these - they keep in the fridge for 2 years! I know crazy hu? I have also bought a big jar and split it with another family or 2.
Last one (for this post!) Pine Nuts. They are delicious. I buy a bag at Costco - and keep them in the freezer. You don't even have to defrost them - love that trick.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Beer Battered Halibut

I have tried several times over the years to deep fry various foods. ALL of those attempts have resulted in horrendous failure. I am not one to give up though - and I really wanted to make fish and chips at home - so I invested $2 in a candy thermometer to help me get the precise temperature. That was the ticket!

Then, I went online and found this awesome recipe on Allrecipes - and made a few adjustments...

Beer Battered Halibut
*6 - 8 Halibut steaks (you want to cut them down so they are about 2" wide)
2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
3 eggs
3/4 cup beer (can substitute beef or chicken stock)
1 1/2 cups milk
4 cups flour + more for dredging
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Mix in beer. Use your hand mixer to blend well - you don't want any lumps. Season with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
In an deep fryer or a heavy saucepan, heat oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Dredge fillets in egg mix (to help the batter stick). Coat fish in batter, and fry in hot oil. I had about an inch of oil in my dutch oven (waaay safer) and I just flippped them over after about 3 minutes a side - you'll be able to see that they've browned.

When you pull them out of the oil - set them on a brown paper bag (or paper towels) to de-grease them a bit)

This batter was so amazing. Your natural tendency may be to put on a really thick layer of batter - but resist! Just give it a nice thin coat and they'll turn out perfect!
*about 1 1/2 lbs - you can substitute any white fleshed fish

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mary's Salsa

This is also for you cuz! My sister in law (I just mentioned her Mother, Eleanor) is also a fantastic cook - this is her salsa recipe...

Mary's Salsa
4 c diced tomatoes (off the vine or in a can)
11 oz corn
15 oz black beans
12 oz diced green chilies
4 oz black olives
1/2 c EVOO
1/8 c balsamic vinegar
4 limes juiced
1/2 bunch cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and voila! I add diced cucumber and green onions too!

Eleanor's Black Beans

My cousin is looking for good mexican sides - I haven't posted this recipe yet - but I am telling you that these are the best beans you will have in your life. I got the recipe from my super gourmet faux Mother In Law (faux b/c she is my sister in laws Mother - but we claim each other as blood!)

Eleanor’s Black Beans
2 cans black beans
2 slices thick cut bacon, hopped
1 small red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 ½ T ground cumin
2 t sherry wine vinegar
1/2 - 1 can of chicken stock
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Heat oil in saucepan. Add bacon and cook over med heat until starting to brown. Add onion, celery and pepper. Reduce heat and continue cooking about 10 minutes. Add beans, cumin, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and simmer 20 minutes. Add chicken stock if too thick. The chicken stock cooks down and gets absorbed by the beans - so I start with 1/2 a can and go from there.
*I eliminated the jalapeno b/c my kids were eating with us - and I didn't have sherry wine vinegar, so I used rice wine vinegar. I have also used red wine vinegar too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Avocado and Pistachio Crusted Halibut

My hubs called me last night and said that he'd be home late. I made mac n' cheese for the kids, got them bathed and in bed before hubs walked in the door. I put candles on the table, got out our nice dinnerware and glasses and we had a little romantic evening - at home - with this wonderful, light, devine meal. So much fun to do that every once in a while:)

I was so in love with this dinner at a restraunt called the "Ore Housee" that I decided to recreate something to pay homage to this luxurious dinner - and it turned out delish.

Avocado and Pistachio crusted Halibut with Balsamic butter sauce (Ore House wanna be)
4 Halibut steaks
1 ½ c crushed pistachios
1/2 c avocado (mashed)
2 T Flour
1/2 t Ground Pepper

Combine the avocado, flour and pepper together. Coat the top of the halibut steak evenly - in a nice light layer. I love things to be ‘over the top’ BUT you need to remember how delicate fish is – don’t put it on too thickly. Crush your pistachios pretty fine (I used my hubs coffee grinder) and add a thin layer of the pistachios on top of the avocado layer.

Put the EVOO in your baking dish and bake at 375°F oven for 15-20 minutes (until the fish is bright white and flakes easily).

Balsamic Butter Sauce
In a small sauce pan, add 3T butter at medium temp. Brown butter, 2 to 3 minutes, stir in ¼ c balsamic and simmer 1 to 2 minutes to reduce by half. Pour the brown butter on individual serving dishes and top with the Halibut.

*I served this with steamed asparagus - oh man.


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