Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Meatloaf w/ Tangy Pepper Jelly Glaze

This recipe is full of complimentary flavors and colors, while also being high in vitamins, minerals, and iron.   This is also great for people who don't feel the need to have gravy with their meatloaves at least not all the time anyway.  Meatloaf has been an affordable mainstay to the American family surfacing here in and around the Great Depression, as a great way to stretch your proteins, especially with a larger family. Various grains and cereals such as oats and rice were used in doing so, which were more prevalent.  Meatloaf has  European origins, traditionally in Germany and Belgium, with references made to it as early as the 5th century, in Roman books of cookery.
There is no right or wrong way Per Se to prepare a meatloaf and it can be made as casual or as upscale as you want.  Many meat loaf recipes call for a tri-fecta of meats like beef, veal, and pork, but lamb, venison and organ meats are also included in some cultures.   Because of availability, I generally opt for beef and pork or beef and ground turkey.  Careful though when choosing ground turkey and chicken, as some suppliers grind the skin as well, making a protein as fatty as if not more so than traditional 75/25 ground beef.  The cooking process will undoubtedly render the loaf of much of it's excess fat, but sometimes it's better and neater to be safe than sorry.
Today's recipe is one of many varieties of the meatloaves I make sans brown, tomato or onion gravy!  This is also a meatloaf that I prepare without eggs.  Breadcrumbs serve as the binding agent, so I can shave off about 200 calories and 10  grams of fat, without missing out or skimming on taste. Green and red peppers, spinach, onions and  garlic make up the powerhouse of antioxidant and vitamin rich produce, that serves as flavor builders and part of your "5 a day's" and served alongside your favorite starch and steamed, blanched or baked veggies, makes for a meal good enough for a special Sunday dinner.  This recipe is also good to help utilize the red pepper jelly called for in some of my other blog entries, and cut down on condiment waste.
2 lbs. ground beef, preferably round or chuck
1 lb. ground pork
1 tomato and chicken soft cube
1 beef soft cube
1 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 c. mini or regular red peppers, chopped
1/4 c. green pepper, chopped
2 c. chopped fresh spinach
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4. c. good quality ketchup
2 tbsp. medium chunky salsa
1/4 c. Parmigiano Reggiano
1 c. fresh bread crumbs
2 tbsp. good quality ketchup
1 tbsp. hot pepper jelly
1/2 tsp. Tamari
Preheat oven to 375*F.
In a large bowl, add beef and pork. Grate in bouillon, stir and let stand for about 10 minutes for flavors to
Microwave or saute until softened onions, garlic, celery seed and peppers drizzled with olive oil and a scant amount of SPST.  Set aside to cool slightly before mixing with other ingredients.
Add remaining wet and dry ingredients to beef mixture and combine well without overworking the meat.  SPST.
Shape into elongated oval  and put in suitable sized loaf pan or baking dish.  Bake until juices run clear and the internal temperature is 170 degrees, about 40 minutes, carefully pouring off excess fat and discarding.
Combine glaze ingredients and paint onto loaf in two batches during last 5-10 minutes of cooking.
You may microwave the hot pepper jelly briefly to aide in blending process.
Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
Serves 8-10.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Green Bean Casserole, Revisited

Looking for a fast and wonderful side dish popular around the board and fancied up on taste, then this recipe fits the bill.  Instead of traditional green bean casserole, which has almost lost some of it's seemingly traditional and festive nostalgia, at least in my opinion and is usually either highly revered or religiously abhorred,  try some variations you may enjoy!
  The popularity of this dish is one of circumstance.  In  1955, Campbell Soup Co. wanted to create a dish that was affordable and of on hand pantry ingredients, which included mushroom soup and canned green beans.  After that, this dish has been a go-to especially during Thanksgiving and major holidays like Christmas.
 For myself, using the can variety of cream of mushroom, adds an exorbitant  level of sodium that can be avoided  simply by making the cream of mushroom from scratch, following the basic premise of a bechamel after the mushrooms have been lightly sauteed  and simmered in butter.  Flour and milk soon follow and the thickened sauce is one to rival that of any Michelin starred restaurant or bistro.  Fresh green beans are fabulous, making sure you remove the stringy and fibrous parts before blanching.  These two simple steps will bring your green casserole back to the forefront and high in flavor, not sodium!!  If time is of the essesence, try my version of a green bean saute, mimicking the flavor components and just a tad flashier than the oven baked version!
Green Bean and Mushroom Saute w/ Red Miso and Garlic
1 lb. fresh green beans, stringy fibers removed and trimmed
4 oz. sliced button mushrooms
1 clove garlic, pressed or fnely minced
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. Red Miso
Splash Sherry
Splash seasoned rice vinegar
French fried onions for garnish
olive oil for drizzling
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, drizzle with olive oil  and melt butter.
When tiny bubbles form, add mushrooms and saute for about 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Add garlic and green beans and toss.  Saute about 4 more minutes until green beans are tender crisp and stir in Miso.
Add sherry and vinegar to de-glaze pan and toss to coat.
Garnish with french fried onions.
Serves 6 to 8.

The picture shown is of my original recipe Green Bean Saute w/ Red Miso and Garlic featured with another recipe called "Everything Gravy", posted in September.  The revamped recipe is the same with the addition of sauteed mushrooms and french fried onions, creating the green bean casserole effect.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hoisin Baked Country Style Ribs

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There are more ways to prepare ribs than just smoked or with a traditional bbq sauce.  I like to mix and match sauces from different cuisines that complement Southern American  dishes and flavors.  The sauce in particular that I chose for this recipe is hoisin sauce.
Hoisin is sometimes referred to as Chinese BBQ sauce and is made from a soybean paste, starch of some type and some spices that vary by recipe. The name is translated to literally mean "Seafood Sauce". It is  generally thick and somewhat creamy sauce, thinned with water or oil if desired, that may be used for marinades, bastes, and  dipping sauce, especially for Pho, a Vietnamese noodle bowl with slivers of tender beef .  This recipe is virtually maintenance free, other than some last minute basting , and goes well with rice or your favorite starchy grain.
The following picture is borrowed because I had a long evening this particular day and neglected to log a photo.  The color is accurate and the portion size of the country style ribs is accurate in comparison to my actual recipe. The link will take you to the recipe on another site, which is amazing.
4 lbs. country style bone in ribs
2 stalks celery, cut into thirds
1 large onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/2 c. hoisin sauce, mixed with about 1/4 c. broth or water
pinch of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 300*F.
Spread veggies in bottom of cooking vessel and lay ribs atop.  SPST
Spoon about 1 tbsp. atop each rib and cover tightly with foil.
Bake until tender, about 2 hours.
Pour off excess fat and coat ribs with remaining sauce.
Bake an additional 20 minutes with foil tented loosely until ribs are glazed over.
Serves 6 to 8.

Fiesta Stuffed Mushrooms w/ Chardonnay Dipping Sauce

This recipe is a quick and easy way to add a little spark to any menu or gathering.  It's just in time for the holidays and the wonderful dipping sauce can be made with the wine you plan to serve for the occasion.  The ingredients can be grouped as decidedly Latin inspired with the incorporation of the bollio roll, in conjunction with the peppers and jack cheese.  These puppies keep well at room temperature and re-heat well also.  For a vegetarian fare, simply omit the sausage and add a pinch of sage, maybe even a pinch of cumin, for a well rounded Latin effect.  Boca crumbles may be added instead if you prefer for texture variance.  This recipe makes 14-16 stuffed mushrooms or 6 to 7, 2 'shroom appetizer servings.
1 lb. baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed
1/3 lb. good quality sage sausage
1 small shallot, small dice
2 tbsp. mini peppers, various colors
pinch celery seeds
1/2 bollio roll, crumbled roughly
2 tbsp. butter
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, plus more for broiling
Preheat Broiler.
Brown sausage over medium high heat.  Add shallot, peppers, celery seed and bollio.  Cook for about 2 minutes and stir in cheese and remove from heat.
Divide stuffing equally among mushrooms, depending of course on size of the mushroom.
Sprinkle a scant amount of cheese atop each mushroom and broil on bottom rack until cheese melts and mushroom is heated through, about 5 minutes.
Chardonnay Dipping Sauce:
2 tbsp. red pepper jelly
2 tbsp. tamari
2 tbsp. Chardonnay
In small saucepan, bring up to a boil, stirring constantly and continuing a rolling simmer until alcohol is cooked off, about 4 minutes and reduced by about 1 tbsp.
Remove from heat.
Makes about 1/4 cup.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Frenched Teriyaki Chicken Drummettes

I saw the technique for these drummettes in a cookbook from the early 90's called "What's Cooking". It is a wonderful and informative book, with lots of exercises and terms of proper French cooking, as well as tons of ideas and to spark your interest and creativity. The sauce of course is at your discretion. I happen to be partial to the Teriyaki wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, so when thinking of a great snack wing, they instinctively popped into my mind. "B Dubs" as my friends and I called it substantiated much of our free time, during and after college, when we were not working, and was the hub of our social lives while attending Bridgewater College and living in Harrisonburg, also the home of James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite. I can only imagine how many gallons of big Bud Lights and pounds of wings of various sauces and degrees of heat. Lest I fail to mention, it had the longest and most stocked bar in town. Alas, I digress. I have only been to Buffalo Wild Wings maybe twice in the past 10 years. Thanks for the memories. Anywho, back to the recipe, feel free to toss in the sauce of choice, since the overall effect will be gained from the unique and fabulous way in which the drummettes will be fashioned. This style reminds me of the Frenched bone of a lamb chop or bone-in rib roast of beef or pork. The technique is worthy of a place even at a formal social or dinner party, as the guests' fingers will be virtually free from the sometimes problematic sauce if one is wearing their best digs. There is less waste when consuming this drummette also and one won't have to feel as though they've reverted to the days of a caveman or primate!! The fun of the wing will remain, but you probably won't go back to eating wings at home the same, this way is just too darn cute and fun and your friends will think you've taken a cooking class!!
 2 lbs. chicken drummettes
salted water
seasoned flour
oil for fryng
Teriyaki or your favorite sauce for wings
 With a sharp knife, par the skin and meat away from the bone starting at the smallest end of the drummette, scraping the bone clean,coaxing it down to the meatiest side, pulling the meat and skin over the rounded end to form a sort of meaty base. It should look like an inverted, miniature version of a candy apple of sorts. 
 Soak in salted water for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until ready to prepare. Preheat cooking oil to 375*F. Drain and rinse chicken thoroughly in colander or strainer. 
Toss chicken pieces in seasoned flour, shaking off excess and frying in batches until crispy and golden, about 3-5 minutes, drain on paper towels.
 Once all chicken has been cooked, in a large bowl, toss in Teriyaki until desired wetness is achieved. Plate and serve. 
 Makes about 30 drummettes, portion size for appetizers being 3 per person.
NOTE:  These wings do not have to be dredged in flour before frying and they will be just as enjoyable.  I prepared them both ways and never missed out on overall appearance or flavor!!!
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Swamp Punch!!

This quick and fun drink recipe is from the archives of our Halloween escapades!  The kids, my sister Hollie and I went trick or treating, then returned home for a small Halloween dinner party.  The kids had a blast visiting the ornate and elaborate decorations and scenes set up on Broad Street and the  homes on both sides, near the high school in Altavista.
 I came up with a hauntingly fun and entertaining menu, souped up with macabre names for finger foods and appetizers for overall effect and spooky genius of Halloween.  They had everything from Werewolves Loins (fried chicken drumsticks) to Critter Cakes (chocolate cupcakes with multi-toned toasted coconut) to witches' skin (sour cream and onion chips), graveyard bones (pretzel stix), ghoulish pizza bites (mini pizza cups with green dough) and Swamp Punch, which recipe follows.  I will be posting the rest of the menu shortly, but for now I hope this one makes you smile, like the kids and I did.  This punch is sure to liven up any occasion, or at least make for an interesting conversation starter!
1 3 liter lemon lime soda, chilled
1 quart lime sorbet
1 pkg. plastic eye balls
Large serving bowl
Place half the contents of the sorbet into serving bowl.
Pour soda atop.  you may need to break down the sorbet faster by using a potato masher!
 We had a great time as a rag doll, Bronwyn, a rock and roll princess, me, a witch, Genesis, and an action figure, Braelyn!

Serves plenty!

Chocolate Eclair-Gone Bananas, Sweets to the Sweet!

The following recipe is inspired by a recipe of my sister Brenda.  She has been making a Chocolate Eclair recipe our family loves for years and years.  Brenda's recipe involves whole graham cracker squares, vanilla pudding, whipped cream and chocolate, organized in a layered fashion with the cream in the middle and spiked with a touch of cinnamon.  The preparation is minimal, and the results are deliciously wonderful.  Her recipe crossed my mind one day, and I started out constructing  it myself, with some prompting from my niece Laura.  The components are similar to that of a banana pudding to a degree, and I happened to have 3 bananas that were still firm, but the peels had turned brown from refrigeration.  I thought it would be nice to incorporate them into her recipe, for an original take of my own.  I hope you enjoy this super simple, simply delicious rendition of a Chocolate Eclair-Gone Bananas!
2 pkg. cinnamon graham crackers, pulverized or smashed into crumbs, leaving a slight variation in texture
2 boxes french vanilla instant pudding, prepared using 3 cups of milk, instead of 4.
1 8 oz. container whipped topping
3 medium bananas, sliced
1 regular sized container chocolate frosting
In an 8x11x2 baking dish, spread 1 c. of graham crumbs.
In a medium bowl, fold pudding and whipped topping together, just until blended.
Fold in bananas.
Add Cream mixture to baking dish atop crumbs.  Add remaining crumbs to top of cream, spreading carefully as not disrupt layering effect.
Heat frosting in water bath in container, just until it becomes pour-able  about 3 minutes, and pour evenly atop the crumbs, spreading as evenly as possible.  Use a rubber spatula or a fork to add texture and design to the frosting as it comes back to room temperature.  Let stand for several minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight until serving.

Use a moistened knife to create serving lines, and a deep spoon to plate.
Makes 12 or more servings.