Saturday, October 26, 2013

Beef Roulades Stuffed w/ Parsnips and Mushrooms, Creamed Mixed Baby Greens w/ Sharp White Cheddar and Parmesan

Beef and Spinach are well matched in this dish.  The beef is marinated briefly in Worcestershire, sherry and garlic.  Earthy parsnips and mushrooms and fresh thyme provide the filling for these thinly sliced pieces of bottom round, individually tied, seared and finished in the oven.  The creamy greens are further enhanced by a combination of baby green and red chard and bok choy.  The cheeses are rich and delicious and make this take on creamed spinach a cut above the rest.   Further, the roulades may be braised in a herbed tomato sauce until super tender and serve with rice or pasta for another wonderful and delicious meal!
1 pkg. Beef Bottom Round, extra thin about 1 1/4 lbs or 6 slices
2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. sherry
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
7 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
1/2 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into strips, about 2 inches or less
3 sprigs fresh thyme
butcher's twine
olive oil for drizzling
Creamed Mixed Baby Greens w/ Sharp White Cheddar and Parmesan:
2 13 oz. bags mixed baby greens, like chard, spinach and bok choy
2 tbsp. butter, plus 2 tsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tbsp. chopped onion
3 tbsp. AP flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Scant grating of fresh nutmeg, optional
olive oil for drizzling
Place Worcestershire, sherry and garlic in shallow bowl and add meat. turning to coat.   Marinate while you prep veggies.
Saute mushrooms, parsnips and thyme drizzled with olive oil over medium high heat.  After several minutes, SPST and cook until the veggies have softened slightly and given up most of their moisture, about 8 -10 minutes.  Remove stems.  Set aside to cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 350*F.
Divide mushroom mixture among slices of beef that have been drained and patted dry, roll and tie off at each end to secure .
Quickly and lightly sear roulades on all sides and transfer to baking vessel to finish in oven.
Bake until internal temperature is 145*F, about 10 minutes.  Let rest before slicing roulades.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt butter and add tsp. olive oil and cook garlic and onions over medium heat, stirring often.  Add greens and cook further until wilted, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle in flour and cook additional minute.  Add milk and cook until thickened, several more minutes.
Grate in nutmeg if desired.
Stir in cheeses until melted, adding more milk as needed for desired creaminess.
Divide greens among plates and top with sliced roulades or serve a la carte with your choice of protein.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Serves 4 to 6.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Easiest Thai Chicken, Broccoli and Mostaccioli

This recipe is a quicker and easier version of one I created about a year ago, and has made appearances by request by loyal family fans! The original recipe required an extensive marination time for chicken cutlets, and a heinous amount of cilantro. This is a time and budget friendly rendition, using canned white meat chicken.  Broccoli adds precious vitamins and minerals and a burst of vibrant color.  Coconut milk adds depth and some creaminess without adding cheese.   The pasta is full of flavor and helps absorb the complex and wonderful flavor profiles that is Asian cuisine.   A well rounded full meal is all in one dish.  The taste is delicious and ready in no time!!
3 5 oz. cans white meat chicken chunks, drained
1 lb. box Mostaccioli, Penne or Penne Rigate
1 lb. fresh or frozen broccoli
4 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced, divided
2 tbsp.grated onion
1 tbsp. sambal oelek or to taste
1 tbsp. lemongrass paste
4 tbsp. fish sauce, divided or to taste
1 tbsp. cilantro leaves
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
sesame oil for drizzling
In a small bowl, combine chicken, one clove garlic, 2 tbsp. fish sauce and cilantro. Fold to coat chicken and set aside.
Prepare pasta according to box instructions, removing from salted water when al dente.
Meanwhile prepare the broccoli to tender crisp, by steaming or blanching in pasta water.
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt butter and add remaning garlic and onion.  Cook until fragrant , about 1 minute and add sambal oelek and lemongrass paste, stirring constantly.
Add coconut milk and remaining fish sauce, bring up to a boil.
Add drained pasta and broccoli.  Cook for several minutes until liquid is absorbed and fold in chicken.  Remove heat and let sit until chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes.  Drizzle with sesame oil if desired before serving.  Makes 8-10 servings.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Marinated Pork Loin Stuffed w/ Mixed Baby Greens!

This recipe was a joy to prepare because I was able to practice my Butcher's Knot skills.  It was my first time for this particular tying method and it was surprisingly fun and rather easy to execute.  I pulled out my trusty smoker and let it do the rest for a hassle free and rewarding Friday evening dinner and Saturday sandwiches.  I may play around with finding the perfect stuffer next time, but it's hard to beat the nutritional element provided by the  baby red and green chard, bok choy and spinach, and keeps the loin on the low carb and lower fat side of enjoyment!  The pork is marinated in a simple and tasty blend of hot pepper paste, brown sugar, seasoned rice vinegar and garlic for a sultry and flavor packed and glazed over appearance.  I served this dish with Homemade Southern Style Potato Salad.   The family received the recipe very well as did I, however being the ever perfectionist, I can't wait to try yet another loin and another flavor profile to find the absolute best results to share with everyone!
1 3 lb. boneless pork loin
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. hot pepper paste
2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
9 oz. mixed baby greens
1 tbsp. salt free seasoning
olive oil for drizzling
Place pork loin on flat work surface and cut top third across loin, but not all the way through, about 1/2 inch shy of other side.
Flip the loin and do the same thing from the opposite side.  This should open the loin almost like a folding book to be evenly flattened further using plastic wrap and a rolling pin.
Combine marinade ingredients and paint the loin on both sides.  marinate for at least 1 hour.
When ready, toss greens with salt free seasoning, olive oil and SPST.
SPST loin and spread greens atop loin and start rolling from one end tucking as go, and ending with the open end facing down.  Secure loin with desired tying technique, I used the Butcher's Knot.
Drizzle loin with olive oil and place on smoker or in oven, baking until internal temperature reaches 145*F.  Let rest for about 10 minutes before cutting.  Serves 8-12.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ecureuil In Confit

Fall is here and so is hunting for certain wildlife and game.  I have personally been hunting only once, and when the hunting party told me that it was a 'quiet' affair, let's just say I decided I was in the wrong arena lol, Anywho, My brother in law Jackie went squirrel hunting last week and knowing my passion for amassing experience in as many aspects of cooking as possible, offered me the spoils of his trip. Ecureuil is the French word for squirrel.   I had not tried squirrel since I was a girl, and it was always accompanied by gravy and/or biscuits. I wanted to step outside of the Southern American box and go for something a little more elegant, possibly even upscale.  With a bit of thought I decided these guys could definitely benefit from the Confit method.
Confit is a French term for cooking something completely submerged in oil, at a very low temperature for an extended period of time.  The traditional oil medium is goose or duck fat,depending on what part of France you are from, some use olive oil.   It was one of the first means of preservation before refrigeration. Confit items, when stored in it's oil, in an airtight container and darkness could potentially last for months.  Alas, thanks to modern technology, we won't push the boundaries of our existence without warrant.
The above recipe was extremely well received by the family, with promise of more hunting in the very near future.  I myself was very pleased and could not remember if squirrel meat ever tasted this magnificent in the past.  This recipe requires a bit of commitment, but the results will speak volumes.
These squirrels were soaked in a salted water solution in the fridge at least 24 hours prior to the marination process.  This gets rid of all the wild and gamey taste.
3 ecureuils, about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. each, well cleaned
1/4 c. red wine, (I used a 2008 Shiraz)
1/4 c. Sherry cooking wine
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. freshly ground allspice, (I used a Mortar and Pestle)
2 tbsp. bacon or other pork fat
1 bay leaf
Olive oil, enough to completely cover protein
Combine ingredients in a bowl.  Place ecureuils in a large resealable bag and pour in marinade and toss to coat.  Press out excess air and marinate in the fridge for about 12 hours or overnight.
After marination, cut each into 4 pieces, lengthwise, then crosswise and brush off excess marinade. SPST.
Preheat oven to 230*F.  (I used my smoker and a thermometer with probe to monitor oil temperature.)
Sear over medium high heat on both sides in pork fat, in small batches, about 3 minute per side. Add bay leaf to pan during searing process.
Transfer to large, heavy bottomed vessel or Dutch/French oven until all has been seared, including bay leaf.
Cover protein completely with olive oil and cook until very tender, about 4-5 hours.  Remove from oil and drain on paper towels before plating and serving.  Serves 6.
The above recipe is served with Garlic, Chive and Turmeric Tinted Mashed Potatoes and Sweet and Spicy Glazed Carrots.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

No Fuss Focaccia!!!!

This is an easy way to dress up your breads for any meal and a great way to utilize frozen 1 lb. loaves, which I keep on hand at home for a variety of purposes.  Focaccia is an Italian flatbread, slathered in olive oil and topped with herbs, veggies, meats and cheeses, then baked.  The frozen loaf saves some prep work as it can be thawed early in the day, before your intended affair.  The thawed dough is then stretched by hand to create the rippled texture to hold the goodies like olive oil, kosher salt and bacon crumbles. Focaccia  is typically scored or indented with a blunt object like the butt of a knife or other utensil, to aid in the release of air during baking, as not to rise too high and not be considered a flat bread. 
1 lb. frozen loaf, such as Rhodes, thawed
1/4 c. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 slices cooked bacon,crumbled
Place smashed cloves in olive oil to impart flavor.  Let steep until ready to use, then remove garlic.
Once dough is thawed, Preheat oven to 350*F.
stretch with fingers to create the grooves and until it is the approximate size of the baking sheet, about 11 x 9. 
Paint both sides with olive oil and sprinkle top with bacon crumbles and SPST.
Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. 
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Ghostly Tumbleweed Treats!

This recipe is an installment of my Halloween fanfare and excitement.  I enjoy creating and sharing fun and tasty treats with festive themes and names, especially around this time of year.  The ingredients are simple and all the flavor bases are covered sweet, salty, chocolaty, chewy and crunchy.  I had a surplus of items that needed a purpose and  I came up with a victory for Team Sweets!  I got a good amount of positive feedback from these puppies and my youngest daughter Bronwyn really liked them.  Omit the Halloween themed decorations and name and this recipe will fit into any other time of year or function just fine!
6 c. thin pretzel sticks
4 c. miniature marshmallows
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. chocolate chips
3 tbsp. margarine
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Melt butter in large vessel over medium heat.
Once small bubbles start to form, add marshmallows.
Once melted, add remaining ingredients in a folding fashion to coat and distribute evenly.
Working quickly, form into balls about the size of a golf ball.
Place on baking sheet to set.
Refrigerate or place in freezer for about 5 minutes to set completely.
Makes 24 treats.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mixed Vegetable Casserole w/ Parmesan and Ricotta Cheeses

This is a simple and easy recipe I came up with to turn ordinary frozen mixed vegetables into an extraordinary side dish, perfect for your next gathering or the up and coming Holidays.  The ingredients together have a wonderful flavor profile, without taking away from the veggie aspect with copious amounts of cheese.  Smaller families can halve the recipe for an anytime side dish, but it  tastes fantastic the next day!   Delicious and nutritious and may be a great way to get kids, even  the big ones, to eat their vegetables!
2 lbs. frozen mixed vegetables
2 15 oz. cans French style green beans, drained
4 tbsp. butter, plus a drizzle of olive oil
3 tbsp.  AP flour
1  soft chicken bouillon cube (optional)
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
4 oz.  Ricotta cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 c. garlic bread bread crumbs
  SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
  olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 375*F.
Microwave mixed veggies on high for 5 minutes,drain.
Add green beans to mixed veggies.
In a sauce pan, melt butter, bouillon and drizzle in olive oil over medium high heat.
Once small bubbles start to form, whisk in flour.
Cook for about 1 minute and remove from heat.
Whisk in milk and return to heat.
Cook until thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
Stir in cheeses and onion powder.
Temper eggs and add to cheese sauce. SPST. The sauce will be thick and this is o.k.
Fold veggies and cheese sauce together and pour into sprayed or greased baking dish.
Top with bread crumbs.
Cover tightly with foil and bake until set and fork inserted comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
Remove foil and bake until topping is crisp and golden, about 5 more minutes.
Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving, makes 12-16 servings.