Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pimento Cheese

My friend Ron is a pimento cheese lover.  I'm happy to say when I made this one for him he said it was the BEST.  It is a recipe from the restaurant, "The Penguin" in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I tweaked it slightly with fresh garlic.
  • ½ lb. sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • ½ lb. mild Cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • ½ lb. pepper-jack cheese, finely grated
  • ½ C. pimentos, chopped
  • 2/3 C. mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ C. green onions, finely chopped
  • ½ t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 T. Crystal hot sauce
  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix until the pimentos and green onions are well incorporated into the cheese
  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving
Tips and Tricks:
  • I buy the cheeses that are finely grated in the bag.  (2 C. grated is ½ lb. of cheese)
  • This pimento cheese can be served with crackers or used to make Grilled Pimento cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Balsamic Onions

This is my lady, the Barefoot Contessa's recipe with just a minor tweak.  They are delicious with a steak or a burger.  I usually double the recipe when I make them so I have them to put on sandwiches for the next week!

  • 3 red onions
  • ¼ C. olive oil
  • ¼ C. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ t. sugar
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Slice onions in half and then into ¼ inch slices
  3. Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl
  4. Pour into a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake for 30 minutes or until caramelized 
Tips and Tricks:
  • These are great served on a burger.
  • A mandolin is a great tool to slice the onions.
  • Line the cookie sheets with foil!  Those suckers like to stick in every little nook on the pan.  Clean up is MUCH easier if you just have to peel the foil away.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baked Crab Rangoon

This is a favorite at Chinese restaurants.  (Well, FRIED crab rangoon, not baked)  It is a easy to make recipe and it makes a great presentation.  I got the recipe from a blog I follow called "Tracey's Culinary Adventures".  She posts a new recipe everyday.  I can't do that and work a full-time job, but I get inspiration where I can.
  • 2 T. sour cream
  • 1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ t. ground ginger
  • ½ T. soy sauce
  • ½ t. sugar
  • ½ C. crab meat, drained
  • Wonton wrappers
  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, combine each ingredient in order, folding in the crab meat last
  3. Using a mini muffin pan, place a wonton wrapper in each and scoop a ½ inch scoop of crab meat mixture into each
  4. Wet your fingertips with some water and gently pinch the tops of each wonton wrapper closed
  5. Spray the tops of the wonton wrappers with some nonstick cooking spray
  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and crisp
Tips and Tricks:
  • I serve these with a Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce.  Follow my link to get the recipe.
  • This makes about 24 crab rangoon.
  • I use light sour cream and reduced fat cream cheese.
  • I use a kitchen shears to cut the green onions instead of knife.  It’s easier to get them the size you want!

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

We are big fans of a restaurant, La Thai, in uptown New Orleans.  They garnish many of their dishes with a sweet chili sauce that I do believe I could bathe in and be happy.  It makes everything taste even better!  This is my quick fix take on that sauce.  I researched several recipes and this is what I came up with.
  • ½ T. Sriracha HOT chili sauce
  • ¼ C. rice wine vinegar
  • ¾ C. water
  • ½ C. sugar
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 2 T. water
  1. In a small pot, combine the first six ingredients and heat on medium-high heat, until it comes to a boil
  2. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes
  3. In a small bowl or cup add the cornstarch, then the water and whisk until the cornstarch dissolves
  4. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot and whisk together for 2 minutes until the mixture thickens
  5. Can be served warm or put in the refrigerator and served cold
Tips and Tricks:
  • This makes about 1 C. of sauce.  It can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks.
  • I served this sauce with the Baked Crab Rangoon appetizer I make.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I had this dip at my friend's birthday party and I couldn't get enough of it.  It is really easy to make and you can leave it in the crock-pot and forget about it.  I love easy appetizers.  
  • 4 (12.5 oz.) cans of cooked chicken breast, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8 oz.) sour cream
  • 1 envelope of Ranch seasoning
  • 1 (12 oz.) bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 lb. (4 C.) Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a crock-pot and heat on the low setting
  2. Allow to heat for at least one hour before serving
Tips and Tricks:
  • I serve this dip with Pretzel Crisps and celery sticks.  They are strong enough to hold up to the consistency of this dip
  • I use reduced fat cream cheese.
  • If you like blue cheese, add about 1 C. of blue cheese and 3 C. of Mozzarella to give this dip some added zest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Au Gratin Potatoes

These are so good!  It's not something I make often, but my family is happy when I do.  I've had the recipe for years and I have no idea where I got it. 
  • 2 T. butter
  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 1 C. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 C. whole milk
  1. Slice the potatoes and the onions into ¼ inch slices
  2. In a heavy bottomed pot place the following ingredients in the pot in order
  3. Dot 1 T. butter, ½ of the potatoes, ½ of the onions, ½ T. flour, ½ t. of salt, ½ t. of Creole seasoning, and ½ C. of cheese
  4. Repeat the steps on line 3
  5. Pour the milk over the mixture
  6. Place the covered pot over medium-high heat until the milk begins to bubble
  7. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes
  8. Remove the cover and cook until the sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes
  9. Serve hot
Tips and Tricks:
  • A mandolin is a great tool when slicing the potatoes and onions.
  • Red potatoes can be used instead of Yukon Gold, but they usually need to cook a little longer.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Grilled Asparagus

This is a Sunny Anderson recipe.  Easy and delicious.  It makes a nice side dish.
·        2 lbs. of fresh asparagus
·        1 lemon, zested and juiced
·        ¼ C. balsamic vinegar
·        1 T. sugar
·        2 T. olive oil
·        1 t. kosher salt
·        ½ t. black pepper

1.      Prepare asparagus by snapping each one until the tough end snaps off
2.      In a small simmering pot, place sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vinegar over medium-low heat and allow to cook until it turns syrupy, about 10 minutes
3.      In a grilling pan, grill the asparagus, that has been tossed with the olive oil, about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, flip the asparagus and continue to grill until they start to brown
4.      Sprinkle with salt and pepper
5.      Drizzle the sauce over the asparagus and serve

Tips and Tricks:
·        You can steam the asparagus and serve with the same sauce.  It is good both ways.
·        Sam’s sells a 2 lb. bag of fresh asparagus that works great for this recipe.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Braised Red Cabbage

We went to Oktoberfest this year and we were disappointed in most of food we ate, but not with the "red cabbage".  I set out to find a recipe that gets just the right bite.  This is the one we like.  It is a Guy Fieri recipe, tweaked.
  • 1 head of red cabbage
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
  • ½ T. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • ½ T. kosher salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1 t. ground allspice
  • 1/3 C. red wine
  • 1/3 C. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ C dark brown sugar
  1. Cut the cabbage in half and then into ¼ in. slices
  2. Rinse the cabbage in a strainer
  3. In a large Dutch oven, heat the butter on medium heat and add the onions and saute until tender
  4. Add the cabbage, apples, salt, pepper, and Tony’s
  5. Cook covered until the cabbage starts to wilt, about 15 minutes
  6. Remove the cover and add the red wine, vinegar, and brown sugar
  7. Cook for 10 minutes with the cover on
  8. Remove the cover and allow the liquid to reduce by half or more
  9. Serve cabbage with a slotted spoon to drain excess liquid
 Tips and Tricks:
  • If you don’t have allspice, you can substitute ½ t. ground cinnamon, ¼ t. ground cloves, and ¼ t. ground nutmeg,
  • When cutting the cabbage, be sure to cut out the hard, white heart of the cabbage.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

This is another favorite of Gab's.  I have combined recipes from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), Alton Brown, and Giada de Laurentis.  The "paste" can be used on a whole turkey or a turkey breast.
  • 7 lb. turkey breast
  • 2 T. softened butter
  • 2 T. herbs de Provence
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
  • 1 C. white wine
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Make a paste with the butter, herbs, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice
  3. Carefully run your fingers under the skin of the turkey to make pockets to spread the paste
  4. Put most under the skin, but spread a little bit on the outside of the bird
  5. Place the thickest part of the breast, up in the roasting pan
  6. Pour the wine in the bottom of the pan
  7. Bake for 1 ½ hours with the cover on
  8. Uncover and bake for an additional ½ hour
  9. Remove from the oven and check to see that the internal temperature is 165 degrees, if it IS, remove the turkey breast from the pan, place on a platter, and cover with foil.  If it is NOT, return to the oven and cook in 15 minute intervals until it is.
  10. Allow the breast to rest for a ½ hour before carving
Tips and Tricks:
  • I use brine when I roast a turkey or turkey breast.  Follow my link for the recipe.
  • I use a covered roasting pan to roast the turkey breast.  If you don’t have one, simply cover a pan with foil for the first 1 ½ hours.
  • Try serving the breast in chunks instead of slices.  Remove the entire side of the breast, and cut into 1 inch chunks.  The turkey doesn’t dry out, when you serve it this way.

Turkey Brine

If you haven't used a brine for your holiday turkey, I highly recommend it.  It keeps the meat juicy. 
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 2 C. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lb. dark brown sugar
  • 2 C. of kosher salt
  • 2 qts. (8 C.) vegetable stock
  • 8 lb. bag of ice
  1. Boil the gallon of water and vinegar in a large pot
  2. Add the salt and sugar and stir until the salt dissolves
  3. Add the vegetable stock and stir
  4. Cover and allow the brine to come to room temperature
  5. Place 1/2 of the bag of ice in the brine
  6. Place the turkey in a ice chest and pour the brine over the turkey
  7. Cover with the remaining ice
  8. Allow the bird to sit in the covered ice chest for 12 hours
Tips and Tricks:
  • The turkey should have ice in the brine the whole time.  Add additional ice if necessary.
  • Rinse the turkey well before preparing to cook it.  All the salt from the brine needs to be washed away.  Allow cool water to pass through the cavity of the bird and use your hands to rub down the outside of the bird while the water is running over it.
  • I cut this recipe in half when I cook just a turkey breast.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Italian Sandwich

I like the BMT at Subway, but I thought I could make it better myself.  I was CORRECT, this is better.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

  • ¼ lb.  Genoa salami, sliced thin
  • ¼ lb. pepperoni, sliced
  • ¼ lb. smoked turkey, sliced
  • ¼ lb. sliced provolone cheese
  • Fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 can of black olives, sliced
  • banana peppers, sliced and pickled
  • 2 red onions, sliced thin
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1 loaf of French bread
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Sauté the onions with olive oil in a skillet on medium-low heat until caramelized about 15 minutes
  3. Cut the French bread in half and generously pour the balsamic vinaigrette on both sides of the bread
  4. Layer the meats on one side starting with the salami then the pepperoni, turkey, and cheese
  5. Place the meats and cheese side of the bread in the oven until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes
  6. On the other side of the bread, place the spinach, black olives, and banana peppers
  7. Remove the bread with the meats from the oven and cover with the smothered onions
  8. Close the halves together and cut into individual servings
Tips and Tricks:
  • You can substitute any meats you like for this sandwich.  It is great combination of flavors.
  • Heating the meats and cheese in the oven is my preference.  It tastes so much better than eating it cold.
  • I make my own balsamic vinaigrette.  You can too!  Click on the link in the ingredients list.