Monday, January 31, 2011

Super Food Day 2

I am stuck, I do not know which recipe I should share with you today, do I give wings or do I give you the dip that everyone asks me for the recipe for, or do I give you something else all together. I think that I will give you the dip. Trust me on this one, if you serve this buy extra crackers this will be a hit, you may even want to double the recipe if you are going to be having lots of people over. The best thing about this recipe is that it is super simple and can be served warm or cold!

Jalapeno Artichoke Dip

1 can on artichoke hearts, drained
1 tablespoon of mayo
1 8 oz. package of fat free cream cheese
1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of pickled jalapeno slices, drained (adjust for your desired heat level)
1 Package of BIG wheat thins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients in a food processor pulse until mostly smooth but with some chunks of artichokes. To get larger chunks, place everything but artichoke hearts in processor, blend then add artichokes and pulse until desired consistency is reached. Place mix in oven proof dish bake for 30 minutes, serve or chill and then serve with wheat thins.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

7 Days of Super Food!

It is that time of year and while I could care less about the teams playing, I still love having friends over and sharing great food and fun while watching football and maybe even more importantly for me this year great new commercials. So in honor of the Super Bowl I am doing my first annual super food countdown to game day. Each day for the next seven day enjoy a great recipe that will be sure to score a touchdown with guests at your game day party. Today's recipe is a a spicy red pepper hummus. This is super easy to make and the level of heat can easily be adjusted to suit your taste buds.

Spicy Red Pepper Hummus

 3 cups of canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons of Tahini
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry
2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons of cayenne pepper
a dash of paprika

Place all ingredients but olive oil in food processor, turn on and add olive oil until mixture is smooth. Serve with pita chips, slices of cucumber, cheery tomatoes, and baby carrots.

Breakfast Muffins

One of my favorite things to cook up for breakfast is a breakfast muffin. This is a great brunch food and the possibilities are endless for what you can put in. All you need is a package of  Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and your favorite breakfast items. In my house this is scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take a muffin pan and spray some Pam into the tin. Unroll your dough and place a square in each muffin base so that the largest part of the dough is in the bottom of the tin. Top with some bacon, eggs, and cheese then fold the rest of the dough over the ingredients so that all the filling is covered with dough. Place in the oven for about 18 to 20 minutes and serve. I tend to serve these with my version of these Homefries. Hope that you find your family's favorite breakfast muffin.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rena's Spring Frittata

So this is much more of a spring recipe, but with the winter weather wearing on me, I am really in the mood for some food that brings the warmer weather and fresh flavors of spring to mind. This recipe is from my "sister" Rena who has made this for me a few times and after begging for the recipe this has become a favorite in our house. This frittata is great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a quick snack. Give it a try and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Rena's Spring Frittata:

6 eggs, scrabbled

1 cup fontina cheese - shredded

1 lb small potatoes sliced thinly

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 bunch of chopped asparagus

1 1 1/2 cups chopped ham

in fry pan cook potatoes and onion on medium/low for 45-60 minutes or till tender, turn up heat to brown for 5-10 minutes - remove potatoes from pan and set aside. Saute asparagus and ham for 5 minutes, add the potatoes mixtures to the pan. In a bowl beat eggs and fold in the cheese - now pour over the potato /asparagus mixture in fry pan and let set for 7-10 minutes, then finish it in the oven at 350 for 5-10 min.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Go Bears!

Yea! Da Bears are in the playoffs and let me tell you that means that it is party time at my house. Guests are coming over and what better way to root for my team then by serving a traditional (well as close as I can get it) Chicago Dog? Now if it was the Super Bowl I would be dropping the cash and having Vienna Beef and having them "cater" for me with the real thing. But for those of you who can't get the real thing or have never tried the Windy City Classic Dog, here is a great way to get the flavors.

Chicago Dog's
A traditional dog is

Poppy Seed Buns
Celery Salt
Plochman's Yellow Mustard
Sport Peppers
Bright Green Relish
Skinless Hot Dogs
Dill Pickle Slice
Diced Onions
Tomato Slices

Most of these items are hard to find outside of the Chicago Land Area however with a few modifications you can enjoy the flavors of the dog still. By substituting dill relish for the bright green, and jalapeno slices for the sport peppers you get almost the same hot dog. Next time your favorite Chicago sports team is playing give the Chicago Dog a try.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

We recently hit a place in Hampton called Six, while I thought that it had great food, I was not impressed with their Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. I thought that theirs had no flavor and was really plain. I was determined to make my own and make it taste like something other than just pasta with a bland cheese sauce. Here is what I came up with....

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

1 pound of butternut squash
3 tablespoons of fresh thyme
2 shallots, diced
1/8 cup of olive oil
1 cup of chicken broth
1/4 cup of bread crumbs
2 1/2 cups of good cheddar cheese (I used Black Diamond)
3 sage leaves, diced
1 box of elbow macaroni

Roast squash at 400 degrees for 30 minutes with olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper, and shallots. Remove squash from oven and let cool, but keep the oven on. When squash has cooled put squash into a food processor, add chicken broth and cheese and puree. Cook pasta according to directions on package and drain. In a casserole dish mix cheesy squash and pasta. In a small skillet take a little bit of olive oil or butter and add sage cook until the sage is crispy and fried. Top mac and cheese with bread crumbs and sage oil or butter. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake the mac and cheese for 30 minutes. Serve with ham or chicken and enjoy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pasta Fagioli or Spaghetti O's

So my friend Christy makes up this great looking pasta fagioli to feed her large family all the time. I had watched her make it a few times and without a recipe to guide me I wound up creating something totally different. My pasta fagioli came out looking like "grown up or really good spaghetti o's" according to John (my six year old). While mine tasted good, it definitely was not pasta fagioli. So here is my recipe and Christy's, decide if you want some really good spaghetti o's or if you want to try the real thing. Hope you enjoy....

Christy's Pasta Fagioli -

11 cups beef stock

2lb ground beef
3 tsp oregano
1 ½ cups chopped onions
2 ½ tsp pepper
1 ¾ cup shredded carrots
5 tsp parsley
1 cup chopped celery
1 ½ tsp tobacco
3 - 15oz.cans stewed tomatoes
6 cups spaghetti sauce
1 – 15oz can red kidney beans
1 – 15oz can white beans
1 tbsp Italian seasons
1 ½ cups fagioli pasta

Brown ground beef, and onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes. Simmer about 10 min.
Put all other ingredients in, except pasta. Simmer until veggies are tender.
Add Pasta cook until done. Enjoy!

Kirsten's Really Good Spaghetti O's

1 pound of ground beef
28 oz of canned diced tomatoes
1/2 onion diced
24 oz of marinara sauce
32 oz of beef broth
4 tablespoons of Italian seasonings
1 box of ditalini
1 can of great northern beans

Brown meat and onion together in a large pot, season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, cook until browned. Add rest of ingredients and cook on low until pasta is done. Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Everybody Needs A Neighbor Like Mine

As I mentioned in a earlier post one of my neighbors gave me a large amount of lobster stock, since she provided one of the main ingredients of that meal, I thought it only right to share some of the Lobster and Corn Chowder that I made with her and her family. Well in return, I got a bowl filled with Chicken and Dumplings. It is so nice to be able to take a night off kitchen duty and enjoy the fruits of someone Else's labor, especially when it is good food that is fitting for the weather. So a huge thanks to Renee, the best neighbor anyone could ask for!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Playing with My Food (not really just recipes)

I tried a great recipe for chicken cacciatore the other night. I played just a bit with it, but I have found that Giada knows her stuff. Check out the great recipe here.

I also was given a lovely gift from my neighbor, about 8 plus cups of lobster stock, I had no idea what to make and had narrowed it down to three different recipes, one for Lobster Risotto, Braised Salmon, and Lobster and Corn Chowder. I chose to go with the chowder as on a cold and rainy night what sounds better that some warm soup?

Here is how I modified the recipe.......
The ingredients called for in this recipe are
3 live hard-shell lobsters (1 1/4 pounds each) I did not need these as I had stock and bought some langostino meat to use instead of the lobster meat. This was cheaper and added the same flavor.

3 medium ears yellow or bi-color corn I used two cans of sweet corn instead

4 ounces slab (unsliced) bacon, rind removed and cut into 1/3-inch dice I just used 1 teaspoon of bacon fat instead. I have found that when bacon is used to this degree it can take over the flavors of the other ingredients

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion (10 ounces) cut into 3/4-inch dices

2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold, Prince Edward Island, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice

1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or up to 2 cups if desired)

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

I added 1/2 cup of diced celery, 1 teaspoon of sherry and 1 tablespoon of flour and used them to add flavor and get a thicker chowder. The sherry I added when the onions and celery where almost done cooking in the bacon fat and butter, I then added the flour and potatoes. I love the way this turned out and would make it again.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cheese Tasting

So As I mentioned I had a small gathering for New Year's and we decided to have the food be wine and cheese pairings. For each wine we had two cheeses. For the pairing ideas I must give a shout out to one of the places that I miss most in San Diego and one of the best cheese shops that I have ever been to Venissimo. If you are in the area it is worth a stop or if you are looking for a special cheese, check them out, they ship!

So here are the cheeses that we tried along with various wines....

We started with the reds.. The first batch was some Stilton and P'tite Basque with a Bordeaux. None of were fans of the wine, but the flavors of the wine definitely brought out the flavors of the cheese.
Next up where two cheddar cheeses, one a black diamond and the other the reserve from Trader Joe's, these where paired with a red blend, Menage a Trois, and stout. All of us preferred the Trader Joe's cheese over the Cabot, and thought that the stout was a better pairing than wine.

Our next cheeses where a manchego and Iberico that we drank with a Spainish Sauvignon Blanc. This was a great pairing and all of us loved the cheese and wine combination especially the manchego with the wine. This was a pairing that I would highly recommend.

Next up where two Stilons one with Cranberries and the other with Apricots, these where paired with a Riesling and most of this cheese and wine was finished off. The next pairing was a honey goat cheese and a cranberry goat cheese served with a moscato d'asti, we had Bug Juice, which is one of our favorite varieties of this wine.

This lead us up to about 11:30 and at that time we were ready to start drinking some champagne. We made up some smoked salmon on crustinis and some caviar on potato chips and also served some St. Andre cheese and another Triple Cream cheese, this one a Brie. At this point of the night we were all enjoying the good time we were having and all loved the way the wine complimented the cheese and food selections.

I hope that your New Year's was as good as ours and that the next time you entertain think about hosting a small cheese and wine pairing party.

Happy New Year!

Champagne and Food Pairings

So, I said I would write about some of my favorite thing to serve with Champagne and here is the shortlist....

Strawberries - the flavor of the fruit reacts great and tend to enhance the flavor of the Champagne

Triple Cream Cheeses - I adore the flavor combination of a good brie, St. Andre or other French triple cream cheese with champagne. I don't know what it is about this combination but all I can say is yum, and more please.

Smoked Salmon - I have no idea what it is about smoked salmon served with cream cheese, capers, and red onion that does it for me, but this has got to be one of the absolute best things to eat while drinking champagne.

Caviar - In my opinion this is the only thing that tops smokes salmon with champagne. A super easy way to serve this is by using kettle cooked potato chips, putting a dab of creme fresh on there, topping with some caviar and sprinkling chopped chives on top. This to my is a decadent and lovely way to enjoy bubbly.

Now as for the Champagnes well it really depends on what you like, my absolute favorite is Dom Perigion, after that is Veuve Cliccquot, followed by Domain Carnaros. 

I hope that you get a chance to serve some of these great food and Champagne pairings. If you did not try one for your new year's eve party why not share something special with your loved one on Valentine's Day, or have a nice in home date night.