Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Turkey Pot Pie

So on my quest to use up ALL of the Thanksgiving leftovers, I took one of our favorite classics, chicken pie, and swapped in the turkey. This is a delicious recipe. If you want to make it ahead, just make the filling and refrigerate, making the topping the night of dinner and then baking.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees

Filling Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced Carrots
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Cups No Salt Added Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2 Cups Shredded Cooked Turkey
1 Cup Frozen Peas

Topping Ingredients:
3 Cups Herb Seasoned Stuffing Crumbs
3 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1 Cup No Salt Added Chicken Broth

Preparation Instructions:
1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or until tender. If the onions appear to be cooking too fast, reduce the heat to medium low. Stir periodically.
2. Add the flour to the pan; stir. Allow the flour to "cook" with the onion and carrots for 2 minutes.
3. SLOWLY add the broth to the pan while stirring. You want to do this slowly in order to avoid lumps.
4. Add the milk to the pan. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the turkey and peas to the pan. Stir to combine and allow to heat through.
6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the topping ingredients and stir to combine.
7. Place the filling into a 9x9 baking dish that is at least 3 inches deep. Top with you stuffing mix.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
9. Serve while hot.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pork Fried Rice

Any time you have a large family gathering, the leftovers can seem to never end. One key to getting through all the extra food is to morph them into something totally different. Since we love Asian food, it is our go-to. I created this pork fried rice after watching some very close friends make their traditional fried rice at Hmong gatherings. This recipe is easy and uses ingredients you already have in your cabinets.

3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup White Rice
1 Cup Chicken Broth, no salt added
1 Cup Water
3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Canola Oil
3/4 Cup Carrots, finely diced
1/2 Cup Onion, chopped
1 Large Garlic Clove, sliced
5 Button Mushrooms, quartered
2 Cups Cooked Ham, cubed
1 Cup Frozen Peas
5 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Teriyaki Sauce
2 Eggs

1. In a large saucepan, melt 1 Tablespoon butter. Pour 1 cup uncooked white rice into the butter and sautee for 1 minutes. Add the chicken broth and water. Stir. Bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. When all liquid is gone, turn heat off and leave covered until needed for sautee.
***While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of your ingredients.***
2. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter with 3 Tablespoons canola oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the carrots and onion. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until the carrots are tender. Stir occassionally.
3. Add the sliced garlic and sautee for 2 minutes.
4. Add mushrooms and ham to the pan and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.
5. Add frozen peas, prepared rice, soy and teriyaki sauces. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.
6. While the rice heats and marinates the flavors in the pan, scramble the 2 eggs in another pan in 1 teaspoon canola oil.
7. Add the scrambled egg to the rice mixture. Stir and serve.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lighter-than-Air Waffles

I love good, homemade waffles; however, until yesterday I only had a thin waffle iron and I love the deep nooks in a belgian style. So now that I have a "real" waffle maker, it was time to get into the kitchen and make some fluffy goodness. I have tried several versions of my recipe and this morning it was finally perfect. The batter is very light and the waffle comes out crisp on the outside (if you set your maker to the darker setting) and airy on the inside. Even my husband said "These are really light and moist!" If you are worried about a heavy feeling after breakfast, don't worry about it with these because they are so light that you do not feel the bloated feeling at all. These would be a great recipe to have for a holiday brunch.

1 1/3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 teaspoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Melted Butter (4 Tablespoons)
1 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
2 Eggs, Separated into Yolks and Whites

1. Preheat your waffle iron to the setting you prefer. I like a darker, crisp waffle so I go on the darker setting. Lightly spray with non-stick cooking oil.
Whisking Egg Whites 
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.
3. In large measuring cup, combing melter butter, milk, vanilla, and egg yolks.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until fluffy and stiff. This step is crucial for getting a light waffle!

5. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir to remove lumps.
 6. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the flour mixture. Make sure to FOLD into the waffle batter in order to not deflate the air from the egg whites.

7. Fill your waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's instructions.
8. Serve hot with your choice of toppings---syrup, butter, whipped cream, fruit.

Note: The extra batter can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several days.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Better-than-Pie Cooked Apples

I LOVE COOKED APPLES! The tender fruit with the rich syrup glaze paired with a warm, flaky biscuit is one of my favorite foods of all time. While I normally serve these with biscuits, I can see them as an indulgent topping for pancakes, french toast, or even as a filling for an apple pie cinnamon roll.....hmmmmm, I see all sorts of recipes to come! The best thing about this recipe is that it is very minimal in ingredients but huge on return!

1 Large Granny Smith Apple
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

1. Peel and decore a large granny smith apple. Slice the apple into 1/4 inch slices.
2. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat.
3. Add the sliced apples to the pan.
4. Add the sugars, salt, and cinnamon to the pot.
5. Gently stir to coat all the apples.
6. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer. Gently stirring occasionally.
7. Allow to cook for 20 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and serve!

Note: This recipe makes 2 servings. To increase the serving size, for every additional apple increase the other ingredients by half (except salt)---2 apples = 4 1/2 Tablespoons butter, 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar, pinch of Salt, 3/8 teaspoon Cinnamon.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cornbread Stuffed Chicken

Last Saturday night, my husband and I went out for a date to our favorite brewery. The great thing about this place is that the food is just as outstanding as the tap. I decided to finally try the stuffed chicken breast and man was I hooked! I immediately told my husband that we would be recreating the recipe at home. So tonight was the night. I made my cornbread earlier in the week so that it would be ready to use and then it was complete in under an hour, sides and all. I also made a quick mushroom pan gravy for dipping (not pictured).

Preheat Oven Temperature: 375 degrees

4 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Cornbread, crumbled
1/2 Small Yellow Onion, chopped (2 Tablespoons)
1 Small Garlic Clove, minced
3 Strips Bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
1 Cup Baby Spinach, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine cornbread, onion, garlic, bacon, spinach, salt and pepper.
2. Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in the bacon drippings.
3. Add butter/bacon oil mixture to the cornbread mixture. Stir to combine.
4. Using a small knife, make a small incision in the chicken breast without going all the way through. In order to do this, turn the breast onto its' side with the fattest part facing up; gently slice through the breast from top to bottom without opening up the pocket too much. I also used my finger to slightly stretch the cavity.
5. Using your hand, place approximately 1/2 cup of stuffing into each breast.
6. Wrap the meat around the stuffing and secure with a toothpick.
7. Place the stuffed chicken on baking sheet lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover with foil.
8. Bake at 375 degrees covered for 30 minutes.
9. Remove the foil and cook for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.
10. Serve with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy.

QuickMushroom Gravy:
Scrape the pan drippings from the baking sheet into a small skillet. Add 3 Tablespoons of butter and sauté on medium low with 1 Tablespoon chopped onion and 3 sliced baby portobello mushrooms. After 3 minutes, add 1/2 Tablespoon flour. Stir and allow to cook for 1 minute. Slowly add 1/4 cup whole milk while stirring in order to incorporate and prevent lumps. Slowly add 1/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Add salt (1/8 teaspoon) and pepper (dash) to taste.

Note: Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, the cooking time may be less. Begin checking your chicken after 20  minutes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yellow Country Cornbread

Ok. If you are from the South or have ever visited, you know there is good cornbread, bad cornbread, and GREAT cornbread. This cornbread falls into the GREAT category. Although it is simple at it roots, it is the perfect base for your heart's desire. If you want Mexican-style, throw in some chopped peppers, cheddar, and kernel corn. However, I just love this classic. I sometimes make it as muffins for brunch or entertaining and always get rave reviews. Tonight this was simply as a deliciously moist bread and the leftovers will be used for a different recipe later this week --- you will have to come back to see what it morphs into. With this recipe in your pocket, you will NEVER say you don't have enough time to make a quick bread.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 425 degrees

1 1/3 Cup Self-Rising Yellow Corn Meal (Tenda-Bake brand)
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
3/4 Cup Whole Milk
1 Egg, beaten

1. Spray a 6x8 glass baking dish with non-stick spray. You need to use a glass baking dish to ensure browning of the bottom.
2. In a large measuring cup (4 cup), combine the corn meal and sugar.
3. Add the oil, milk, and egg to the corn meal mixture and stir well to combine.
4. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to thicken. Do not disturb it during this time.
5. Pour into your prepared dish and place in the preheated oven.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BBQ Pork Cheese Fries

This recipe comes from one of our favorite indulgences at a local restaurant, BBQ Cheese Fries. When we were looking for a great alternative for using up some leftover pork, this is what happened. Sometimes the best ideas do come out of sheer necessity. Do not judge until you have tried! Serve them with a side of ketchup, sour cream, or extra barbecue sauce. Your taste buds will thank you! This recipe would also be great for parties and gatherings.

4 cups Frozen French Fries
2 cups Pulled Pork
3 Tablespoons Carolina Style BBQ Sauce
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1. Prepare your fries as directed by the package but make sure to get them extra crispy. I used a deep fryer and cooked until golden brown.
2. While the fries are cooking, place the pork and sauce in a skillet over medium low heat and cover with a lid. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Allow the meat to warm for 7-10 minutes. This step is necessary to remove extra moisture from the meat. I have tried making the recipe without doing this and they were soggy. Also, I used the Bullseye brand sauce and found it worked great.
3. Once the fries are finished cooking, remove to a paper towel and allow to drain.
4. In a glass baking dish, place the crisp fries on the bottom layer followed by the pork and then topped with the cheddar cheese, adding extra cheese if you like.
5. Place the baking dish into a 350 degree preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the dish in case your oven cooks hotter than mine, but this allows the cheese to melt and the dish to be warm throughout.
6. Remove from the oven and serve. This is a fork and knife type meal, not a finger food....these are serious fries after all!  I served mine with sour cream and ketchup options for dipping.

Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork

This is a variation of my Spicy Shredded Beef recipe with the use of a 8 pound pork shoulder. Normally I would do the Beer Butt BBQ with this cut of meat, but we wanted to mix it up. The great thing about this recipe is that the sauce is thin enough to just serve as a moisture for the meat and additional sauces of choice can be added. I also love the versatility of this recipe; with this one recipe my family was able to eat wraps, sandwiches, and, probably the best way, as pulled pork cheese fries! Another bonus is that this was a slow cooker recipe.

8 Pound Pork Shoulder
12 ounces Chipotle in Adobo
24 ounces Water
1 Large Yellow onion, quartered
2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons Salt
4 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire

1. Place the pork shoulder into the slow cooker fat side up.
2. Top with the chipotles in adobo sauce.
3. Without pouring over the top of the pork, so as to not disturb the chipotles, add the water, onion, salt, vinegar, and worcestershire to the cooker.
4. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set to LOW.
Note: I have a lid that latches onto the cooker and this helped to keep the moisture inside.
5. Cook for a minimum of 12 hours before removing from the pot.
6. To shred the meat, place on a baking sheet and shred with 2 forks.
7. Place the meat in a large, sealable bowl. Add 4-5 large ladles of juice from the slow cooker to the meat. Toss to combine.
8. Serve with your favorite sauce, on a sandwich, in a wrap, etc. The options are endless.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Give-Me-More Meatball Lasagna

I will be honest, lasagna is normally like a "four letter word" in my house. I am not a big fan and my husband definitely is not. However, last weekend we decided to try something new and create a meatball lasagna. The compromise was made by him getting to have meatballs and I got to add the spinach. The result was nothing short of AMAZING! The leftovers were wonderful and it got better even a couple days later. The great thing about this meal is that you can assemble it ahead of time, cover and store in the refrigerator and then bake off on the night of the meal.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees

4 Cups Marinara Sauce
4 Cups Entertaining Meatballs , cut in half
15 ounces Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
9 ounces Frozen Spinach, thawed and drained
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
8 Lasagna Noodles
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1. Heat a large pot of water on the stove over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Drizzle in vegetable oil (optional). Cook the lasagna noodles for 4 minutes and then remove to a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Lay a new sheet of wax paper between each layer to prevent sticking while cooling.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, and egg. Make sure the spinach is completely drained of water; I like to place the spinach into a kitchen towel and then twist to ensure all moisture is removed, in order to avoid a soggy filling.

3. Arrange all of your layering ingredients close to your 9x9 baking dish. I like to cut the noodles in half (horizontal) to make them fit in my dish better.

Image of the layering in progress
4. Place a small amount (1 Tablespoon) of marinara sacuse in the bottom of the baking dish followed by a layer of noodles (2 whole noodles or 4 halves), 1/3 each of the ricotta mixture, meatballs, sauce, noodles...... I like to only sprinkle parmesan on every-other layer, which means layer 2 and on top.

5. After the 3rd layer, top with the remaining 2 noodles, sauce, and a layer of cheese.
Ready to go in the oven (minus foil)

6. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, gently remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the top is bubbly.

7. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Image of the Layers
1. Make sure to cover loosely. If you allow the foil to touch, the cheese will pull off when the foil is removed.
2. With using a 9x9 pan, I used 2 whole noodles on each layer, cut them in half across the middle, and then placed to fill the space.

Entertaining Meatballs

Homemade meatballs are a staple in my home. I normally make large batches and then freeze the leftovers in a freezer bag for use with quick meals such as meatball subs or spaghetti and meatballs. This is the basic meatball recipe and can be used for a variety of dishes, as well as easy entertaining with barbecue sauce or sweet and sour sauce in a slow cooker. These particular meatballs were used in my meatball lasagna.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees

1/2 Pound 80/20 Ground Beef
1/2 Pound 93/7 Ground Beef
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
1 Small Yellow Onion, Finely Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Milk
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 Cup Plain Bread Crumbs

Pre-cooked Meatballs
1. Combine all ingredients, minus bread crumbs in a large bowl. Using your hands, yes you have to get messy, thoroughly mix the ingredients.
2. Add the breadcrumbs, a little at a time, until it comes together in a ball. Depending on the meat, you may need a little more or a little less.
3. Pinch off small portions of the mixture and roll into quarter sized balls. Place the meatballs on a non-greased cookie sheet, leaving space between each one.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.

Note: Since I was adding mine to a sauce, I did not let them brown. If you are serving them without sauce, you may need to extend the cooking time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Better-Than-Jarred Marinara

My husband loves when the garden is bountiful and tomatoes are overflowing because he knows that homemade marinara sauce is on its way. Although I will admit that there are a few times when in a time crunch that I will use a store bought marinara, but whenever possible, it is homemade for me. Part of the reason is because one of my fondest memories from childhood is helping my mother can her homemade sauce. The process was a day filled with standing by the stove, cleaning jars, and then preserving the fruits of our labor for the year to come. While I have not done the large scale process in years, because I prefer to preserve just tomatoes and then have them ready for whatever I need, I still love to make sauce from scratch. I know, I know. You are saying, "But I don't have time..." Well, the truth of the matter is that the process is pretty set it and forget it at its core. Once you have a taste of a homemade sauce, I think you will agree that it is worth the effort.

Note: This recipe makes approximately 4 cups of sauce.

29 ounces Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1 Small Yellow Onion, Chopped
1 Clove Garlic, Chopped
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
3 Tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil

1. In a large sautee pan with lid, sautee onion and garlic in vegetable oil for 7 minutes over medium heat.
2. Add the salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning, and parsley to the pan and stir for 1 minutes. This allows the seasonings time to toast and infuse the oil.
3. Add the canned tomatoes and break apart with your spoon. You are not looking for a smooth mixture right now; you just want to start breaking the tomatoes down. If you are looking for a perfectly smooth texture, you should puree the tomatoes in a blender before adding them to the pan.
4. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
5. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer.
6. Continue to simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours stirring occassionally. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Italian Braised Chicken Thighs

I have to admit, chicken thighs are not my favorite cut of meat; however, my husband happens to prefer them because of their richer tasted. So when I was looking for a midweek meal, I turned to my refrigerator and then got creative. Because of the high fat content, braising is the perfect combination for chicken thighs. I served the dish with my easy buttered potatoes and sautéed spinach, I think it would be great over some buttered noodles. My husband also pointed out that this would work well for campfire cooking in a dutch oven.

1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil
2 Pieces Thick Sliced Bacon, cut into small chunks
4 Skin-On Chicken Thighs
2 Small Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, sliced
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Pinch of Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Sherry
1 Tablespoon Chicken Broth
1 Tomato, diced
Parsley for Topping

1. In a dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat vegetable oil over medium heat.
2. Add the diced bacon and sauté until crisp.
3. Remove the bacon from the pan and allow to rest on a paper towel.
4. Pat the skin of the chicken dry with a paper towel and then lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in the pot and allow to cook for 7 minutes in the bacon renderings.
5. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate.
6. Add the onion and garlic to the oil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
7. Season the pot with the red pepper, Italian Seasoning, black pepper, and salt. Stir and allow the spices to bloom in the oil for 2 minutes.
8. Add the tomato and sugar to the pot; stir to combine.
9. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up.
10. Slowly pour the sherry and chicken broth into the pan without pouring on top of the chicken. The liquid level should come about halfway up the sides of the chicken. You do not want too much liquid or you will boil and not braise the meat.
11. Cover and allow to cook on medium low for 1 hour 30 minutes, checking periodically to ensure adequate moisture.
12. Remove the lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
13. Plate the meat, covering with the sauce. Top with the reserved bacon and chopped parsley.

Quick Beef Chili

I am a sucker for really good homemade chili. Not the kind you eat with a spoon, but the chili you put on hotdogs, burgers, fries, etc. The beefy mixture that makes so many quick and easy dinners just a little more special. This is a version of my go to homemade chili.

1 Pound Ground Chuck
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
2 Small Garlic Cloves or 1 Large Clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Dried Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
3 Tablespoons Ketchup
1 Tablespoon Spicy Brown Mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
1 Tablespoon Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

1. Brown your meat with the chopped onion and minced garlic over medium heat for 10 minutes. During the cooking, make sure to use a spoon to continually break down the meat. We are looking for very small clumps of meat for the chili.
2. Add the spices to the pan --- salt, dried mustard, black pepper, cayenne, chili powder --- and cook for 2 minutes while stirring.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
4. Reduce the heat to low.
5. Cover and simmer for 1 hour (minimum). The longer you let it go (up to 1 hour 30 minutes) the better; just make sure to check it periodically and stir.
6. Serve atop hotdogs and burgers or with cheese fries or a baked potato.

Note: Leftover chili freezes very well in a freezer safe container.