Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Delightful 24 Carrot Gold Chili

Chili 2
Spring is in full swing and the days are gradually moving us towards the ‘molten lava’ temperatures.  Fortunately, we had some less than Spring like weather, making way for some of my favorites from Fall and Winter, or any other overcast laden, off beat day!  This chili is great for those who need somewhere to throw in some hidden nutrients, vitamins and minerals.  The chili itself isn’t heavy at all and the secret ingredient blends right in with all the other delicious goodies. In case you’re wondering about the name, it’s because there are carrots, grated and nestled about  this chili, simmered with the beef and onions into ambiguity.  Carrots lend their natural sweetness and earthy bluster to the other veggies already in tow.  Recipes like this are great for children and adults alike who sometimes fall short of their recommended daily allowances. Besides, it can be our little secret!  Additionally, the beef may be substituted with lean turkey or omitted altogether for vegetarian fare.
1 1/2 lbs. ground round, chuck or lean turkey
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
2 carrots grated
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/4 c. chili powder
1 1/2 c. diced tomato
2  tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. sambal oelek
1 15 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can vegetarian beans with juices
In a medium heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, brown beef with onion, carrots and garlic.  SPST.  Use a potato masher to break beef down into small morsels.  Once browned, drain off excess fat reduce heat to medium and add chili powder, tomatoes, brown sugar, tomato paste, fish sauce and sambal oelek. Stir and  simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, then stir in beans.  SPST.  Simmer until beans are heated through, about 10 minutes.   Serve with crackers or rice if desired.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Avocado Cumin Deviled Eggs! The Revised Edition

 Wondering what else to do with the Avocado-Cumin Mayonnaise recipe I shared in the last publication Creamy Avocado-Cumin Mayonnaise?  Spruce up your plain deviled eggs with the addition of this mayo and watch your family's smiling faces.  My 5 year old Bronwyn, happens to love deviled eggs, and she also loved these.  I took this as a great sign, in all her persnickity ways.  This being the child that I have bickered with for putting the mustard on her hotdog before adding the ketchup, or cutting her sandwiches into rectangles, as opposed to triangles.  Further still, we have had tiffs about placing her beverages into a blue, when she feels like orange plastic cups that day, not to mention giving her 10 grapes instead of 8, YEAH! We all have our little nuances though.  I am just glad that I can put a check mark on the 'GO MOM' side of the board.   Thank God for those small miracles and a glass of wine every now and then!
Just follow your favorite deviled egg recipe substituting in this mayo.  For this particular above recipe, I omitted the relish and the mustard for my more savory flavor profile tasters.  I also have a version with the relish and mustard, whichs lends the element of sweet/tart. Bronwyn liked both, but preferred the ones with relish.
Garnish with a cilantro leaf and a dot of Sriracha, according to taste.*

*Just in case this is your first time, here is my complete recipe!
12 large eggs
1 ripe avocado, mashed with a fork
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. sweet pickle relish
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. cumin
dash of Sriracha, according to taste
cilantro leaves and Sriracha for garnish, optional
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)

Place eggs in medium pot with tightly fitting lid and fill with lightly salted COLD water until just covered.
Over medium high heat UNCOVERED, bring up to a boil, then cover with lid and REMOVE from heat source.
Let stand for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, drain and peel eggs under cool running water.
Halve each egg and gently press on sides to remove yolk into a medium bowl.
Add mashed avocado, mayonnaise, relish, mustard, cumin and Sriracha and blend with a fork until almost smooth. SPST
Pipe or spoon into egg halves liberally and garnish with a cilantro leaf and a dot of Sriracha.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Makes 24, but feel free to half the recipe if desired, not that you would want to though!!:)

Chicken Cordon Bleu Roulades

I did some brainstorming  just before Mother's Day for some new appetizer ideas and came up with these deliciously fantastic and satisfying rolls consisting of all the components of the classic original, with first references making it's appearance in the U.S in the late 60's, by way of the New York Times.  I received very positive feedback from all my tasters.  I can be my harshest critic sometimes, especially according to my sister Hollie, and I really loved the creation.  Store bought prep ingredients speed this recipe along full steam and they may be prepared ahead of time!  I cut these roulades in half on a diagonal before serving for appetizer portions. This recipe is not hard to execute, but does require a little commitment.  The end result is more than worth it!
1 lb. oven roasted chicken breast, lunch slice variety
1 pkg. real mozzarella and provolone cheese sticks (12 in the package found in cheese section)
1 9 oz. pkg. Canadian bacon slices
1/2 c. seasoned flour
1 1/2 c. seasoned Italian bread crumbs
egg wash
Wooden Skewers for securing and easy handling
oil for frying
Assembly:  Place a slice of chicken breast on work surface and center a piece of Canadian bacon atop.
Place the cheese stick at one side and roll everything together, securing each with a skewer.  Secure just past the point, do not thread all the way up, it will inhibit frying later.
Once all roulades have been assembled, place in freezer for 1 to 2 hours.  This will help roulades keep their shape during deep frying process.
When ready, heat about 3 inches of oil to 375*F.
Using a sifter, shake seasoned flour over all sides of roulades.
Dip in egg wash.
Using a large resealable bag, pour in seasoned bread crumbs and shake to coat, tapping off excess.
Once all have been coated, deep fry in batches until golden and cheese just begins to show signs of exiting ends, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch of 3-4.
Drain on paper towels.
Let cool slightly before removing the skewer and cutting in half on diagonal for serving. 
Arrange on leafy greens for a dynamic presentation if desired. 
Serve with desired sauce or as is.  Makes 24.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Broccoli and Cheese Mini Turnovers

Well folks, broccoli is in season and will be for a while yet, so why not have a little fun with it right?  There's always a party when cheese gets involved, not to mention flaky biscuits and bread crumbs.  This recipe combines several ready-to-go store bought ingredients into a hand held and tasty treat that can be enjoyed as is or with a favorite dipping sauce.  Good quality flaky canned biscuits are the vessel in which the other morsels are hidden.  Store bought cubed cheese and fresh cut and steamed broccoli floret pieces are a great pair and easy even on the picky eaters.
 I prepared these turnovers as one of the appetizers to our Mother's Day dinner on the 12th.  The Menu included a fabulous Smithfield ham, which I baked, crispy fried chicken, seasoned and simmered green beans, homemade baked macaroni and cheese, homemade potato salad and rolls. This is pretty much the standard Southern Comfort spread for our big family get togethers, with the appetizers being interchangeable. 
The second appetizer was Chicken Cordon Bleu Roll-Ups, which will be shared within my next several publications. This recipe may be prepared ahead of time and baked when needed.  I like this recipe because you can make as little or as many as you desire without a hassle!
20 can variety flaky style biscuits
1 8 oz. pkg. cubed cheese of choice
2 cups fresh steamed broccoli florets, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
seasoned bread crumbs
egg wash
Preheat oven to 350*F. 
Toss broccoli with onion and garlic powder and SPST.
 On a surface sprinkled with a scant amount of bread crumbs, roll out each biscuit until it's about 3-4 inches across and place 2 cubes of cheese and 2 pieces of broccoli in center, and fold over. 
Seal edges with a fork and place on un-greased baking sheet.
Once all have been prepared, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with bread crumbs. SPST.
Bake until golden and cheese starts to ooze, about 5 minutes. 
Makes Serves 10-2 portion servings.
Serve with ranch dressing, Sweet chili sauce or preferred dipping sauce.

Creamy Avocado-Cumin Mayonnaise

This wonderful avocado infused mayo is the springboard for several fun and easy recipes to come. I Initially came up with it as a spread for a crunchy chicken sandwich, loaded with crisp and bright  green leaf lettuce, Roma tomatoes and thinly sliced red onion.  The simplicity and deliciousness of this mayo is unbelievable and the healthy benefits of the avocado, enhance it's flavor profile 10 fold.  Avocadoes or '"alligator pears" are rich in mono-unsaturated fats, which tend to be of the heart healthy variety.  They contain a gaggle of B vitamins, protein, potassium,Vitamin K, minerals essential for the building blocks of cells and for an overall positive contribution to the body human.  There is only a small amount of actual mayonnaise in this recipe, and regular or reduced fat may be used.  This is an amazing swap out for the saturated fat that the egg yolks would normally bring to the table. As a mayonnaise lover, I never missed a beat as per taste and I definitely didn't miss the cholesterol!
1 ripe avocado, removed from skin, de-seeded and mashed
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2-3 drops Sriracha
With a fork in a small bowl, blend and mash avocado and mayonnaise until a smooth or desired consistency is reached.  Stir in cumin and Sriracha to taste and SPST. Transfer to Makes about 5 oz.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mothers Days Year Round!

This publication is a throwback from a Halloween piece I did for my children and nephew for a smashing adolescent dinner party, complete with large plastic rats, cob webs galore, huge leaf-stuffed spiders, as well as tiny ones, orange and black balloons, skeletons and ghosts yard decor.   I mentioned the dish, but I had not yet shared the preparation.  The pizza cups were fun and ghoulish with the adddition of green food coloring added to the store bought package of dough.
 The portions are bite sized, as I used a mini muffin baking pan.    Each cup is topped with a dollop of your favorite sauce, 1 slice pepperoni, and one square of sliced mozzarella cheese.  The finished product is garnished with grated parmesan cheese upon plating.  The children really enjoyed the dish long with their Swamp Punch (Green Sorbet with Lemon Lime Soda with plastic eyeballs), Critter Cakes ( Chocolate Cupcakes with Tri-ColorToasted Coconut), Witches Skin and Graveyard Bones (Sour Cream and Onion Chips and Pretzels),  Werewolves  Legs ( Crispy Chicken Drumsticks) and Zombie Eyeballs (Tangy Meatballs).  The adults attending enjoyed the menu as well.
 Occasions like this make my ideas and creations my rewards of sorts, gratifying because of my kids' satisfaction. Their smiles are like badges of courage, which shine like tiny beacons of hope and, beckoning me to keep pushing for better dishes for entertainng and keeping their attention, as well as for my adult tasters and menus.  When the kiddies big beautiful eyes light up the room anticipationg the next surprise and those joyous squeals of delight resonate throughout the house, it drowns out everything that may have went wrong during the course of that day, gives me a little more energy and bestows a feeling within my heart that I am doing something right in this world, and it's always worth it and keeps me going... Everyday is Mother's Day when you are committed to your children's happiness and knowing that we have the most loyal and biggest fans, comparable to the status of celebrities, waiting to see our faces when they wake up, and before the go to bed!  Being a Mom Really Rocks!  Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Blackberry and Rosemary Scented Lamb Chops w/ Brown Butter Gnocchi and Sweet and Sour Chard

This recipe's photo fell victim to my camera yet again, which is recently not performing up to par.  I am proud though, of the outcome of my creations, so I will share anyway. Alternately, I really love the vintage plate by Wood and Sons of England.  Win! Win!  Lamb chops are the star of this meal, with the addition of baby chard grown in my herb garden and gnocchi, with flecks of herbs from my garden as well.  The marinade was an experiement of sorts with blackberry cider, which I originally  used for a wonderful demi sauce for seared pork chops in another publication.  When I try new and different products, ingredients and/or seasonings, I like to manifest as many ideas possible, some are decidedly slightly better than others, but  delicious none the less. 
These lamb chops are marinated in a mix of cider, garlic, fish sauce and fresh rosemary.  My family is somewhat divided when it comes to lamb, some really like the taste, like my nephew Rob and his mom, my sister Terry.  My sisters Hollie and Gayle, not so much.  Hollie did however, enjoy like this version, much better than the last Lamb recipe I prepared, which the family overall said they would eat again.  Personal preference is of course at one's discretion, but if you appreciate lamb, you may appreciate this dish and share with family and friends!
6 to 8 lamb chops, about 1 1/2 lbs.
1 c. blackberry cider
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, rough chopped
olive oil for drizzling
Bring cider and remaining ingredients, except rosemary, up to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in rosemary. Allow marinade to cool completely.  Drizzle lamb chops with olive oil and place in large resealable bag or shallow baking dish.  Pour marinade over chops and press out excess air and seal if using a bag, turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap if using a dish.   Refrigerate for desired time of marination.
When ready, pour off marinade and pat chops dry.  SPST
Sear over medium high heat in saute pan drizzled or sprayed with olive oil,until nicely caramelized on both sides, about 2 minutes per side and finish in the oven at 350* F, until internal temp reaches 160*F for medium, about 10 minutes
You may grill as desired also, adding a sultry smokiness to the flavor profile.
Serves 3-4.
Brown Butter Gnocchi w/ Fresh Herbs
500 g. potato gnocchi
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tbsp. real butter
1 tbsp. fresh, mixed herbs like basil, parsley and oregano
olive oil for drizzling
Add gnocchi to boiling salted water and remove once water starts to boil again and gnocchi floats.
Meanwhile, melt buter in large saute pan over medium high heat until butter browns and add onion and garlic.  Saute for about one minute or until fragrant, add gnocchi.   Cook for about 1 additional minute and remove from heat. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with herbs in pan. 
Serves 4-6.