Friday, April 29, 2011

Strawberry Bellini

This GOC's first and probably last drink. I'm not a mixologist, and traditionally just a red wine kind of girl but for easter I wanted something different. So I grabbed some strawberries and a bottle of Prosecco. Typically, Bellini's, created in Venice, are made with a peach puree and sparkling white white, usually Prosecco. Well peaches aren't in season yet, and it's the beginning of strawberry season so guess what.... I used strawberries! Oh and ignore my daughter in the background, she was helping me get supper made at the time.

What You Need:

1 pint of strawberries
1 bottle of Prosecco

What To Do:

Mash most of the strawberries up, save a few to garnish your glass if you like. Place a spoonful or two of the mashed up strawberries in the bottle of a champaign glass and slowly fill with processo. Make a slice in the strawberry and fix it the rim.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham

Who has leftover ham from Easter? I do! Well not from Easter exactly. I made a ham the week before, but we still had leftover ham. It's one of those things where there is always leftovers and it's some times hard to find out what to do with them. My dad's favorite, besides ham salad, is Au gratin potatoes and ham casserole. Casserole? Yeah I guess it could be called that. Basically it's a nice thick cheese sauce that covers and intermingles with sliced potatoes and some chopped up ham. I was actually surprised when my picky 2 year old decided to try it. Really though, is there anything that doesn't taste good covered in cheese? This version is lightened up as it uses 2% milk, instead of cream and only a few ounces of cheese. I also use thyme when I make this dish. I love the way it pairs with potatoes. So yummy!

What You Need:

1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (about 3)
1lb left over ham, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 c flour
2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
3 ounces cheddar cheese
3 ounces Gruyère cheese
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Wash and slice the potatoes into 1/8 inch slices. Place in a bowl of cold water to help remove some of the starch while you make the sauce.
In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the milk, flour, garlic powder, thyme, and some salt and pepper. Place over medium high heat and stir or whisk often until it thickens. Usually once it starts to boil it's super thick and thats what you want. Turn off the heat and stir in only 2 ounces of cheddar and 2 ounces of Gruyère until melted.
Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Drain all the water from the potatoes and place half of them in the bottom of the dish. They don't need to be in any fancy design or anything, just make sure they are all separated from one another. Then add in the ham, and cover with about 1/2 the cheese sauce. Layer on the rest of the potatoes, again any way you want is fine.

Top with the remaining cheese sauce, cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes. After those 30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and continue baking for another 30 minutes. The cheese on top will be browned and everything will be nice and bubbly.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cheese Steak Sliders

Think of a cross between a cheeseburger and a cheese steak sammie, wrapped up in a tiny package and you get cheese steak sliders. Seasoned ground beef, cooked on the grill then covered with provolone cheese and sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms. They are the perfect little package. Great for appetizers or even as a main dish, you're sure to love them!

What You Need:

2 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, finely minced
2 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper

What To Do:
Combine the ground beef with the seasoning and make into 12 equal patties. Set aside.

What You Need:

1 tsp veg oil
1 tsp butter
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2lb mushroom, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 lb of provolone cheese
12 slider rolls

What To Do:

In a sautee pan over medium heat, melt the butter together with the veg oil. Add in the onions, peppers and mushroom, stirring often. After a few minutes, add in the garlic, salt and pepper. Continue cooking while you cook your sliders. Heat your grill, grill pan or fry pan over high heat. If using a pan, add a bit of oil to help prevent sticking, and start cooking your sliders. Cook about 3 minutes on the first side, flip and turn the heat to medium. Continue cooking until almost done, placing the cheese on to melt for the last minute of cooking.  Place on the slider buns and top each with some of the sauteed onion and peppers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pear Tarte Tatin

Traditionally, this dessert is made with apples, but I didn't have any, so pears it was! Tarte Tatin was made famous by the Tartin sisters who always served it in their restaurant. I have been wanting to try and make this for the longest time. I've seen it done on cooking shows, but it always looked so difficult. That was until I tried it. It's actually pretty easy. Just 4 ingredients and a little bit of time is all you need. Please keep in the mind though, that you are working with hot sugar and there is the potential to really burn yourself. Caution with this dish is very important.

What You Need:

1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
Aprox. 5 large apples or pears, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
1 sheet of puff pastry dough

What To Do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, or other oven safe pan, that is about 10-12 inches across, melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in the sugar and then arrange the apples or pears in a spiral shape. Turn the heat to high and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sugar starts to thick and the fruit gives off it's juices. With a sharp knife or fork, very carefully flip the fruit over and cook for another 5 minutes. Roll out the puff pastry to the size of your pan and cut it into a circle. Carefully lay the pastry dough over the top, tucking the edges down over the fruit. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for several minutes, before inverting onto a serving plate. Please make sure to let this cool because when you flip it there is always the possibility of the juices splattering on you. You want to serve it warm but there is a big difference between hot, and warm. A dollop of vanilla icecream on top goes really well too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Creamy Potato Soup

Spring time is all about rainy days, and what is better on a rainy day that a nice hot bowl or soup? How about a creamy potato soup? I used homemade veggie stock, a bit of milk and a ton of flavor from a left over ham bone. Want to keep this strictly for the veggie lovers in your life? Just leave out the ham bone and ham all together. You can even leave out the milk and cheeses, it just won't be a "cream" soup anymore. There is still plenty of flavor hanging around from the veggie stock. If you like a thick potato soup like my family does, the secret is to stir in potato flakes at the end. They are an awesome thickening agent for this soup.

What You Need:

3 large russet poatoes, washed and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
4 cup veggie stock
2 cup water
2 cup milk
1 tsp thyme
1 or 2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
ham bone
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
potato flakes
sliced scallions for garnish

What To Do:

If using the ham bone, place it in a pot and add in the veggie stock and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the bone to cool and transfer the broth to a heat safe bowl. Return the pot back to the stove and add in the oil. Add in the potatoes, carrot, onion, celery and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until they start to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Pour in the stock you set aside, along with the thyme and bay leave. Remove whatever ham is left on the bone and add that into the pot as well. Bring to a boil, then reduce to just barely a simmer. Cook like this for 1 hour. Turn the heat back up to medium and stir in the milk and slowly stir in the both the cheeses. Once it starts to bubble again, turn the heat back to low and slowly stir in as much potato flakes as you desire. Make sure you give the potato flakes a chance to work, they won't thicken it as quickly as flour would. Serve with a bit of cheddar cheese and scallions on top.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Maple Glazed Pork Chops

Yes, yet another pork chop recipe. There will be a lot of them this year so I hope you like pork, I have a freezer full! This one is a little different. Maple syrup, garlic and ginger make a thick, delicious glaze that coats the chops.  It's a quick and easy recipe and the glaze tastes really good over sweet potatoes too. You can do this with any kind of pork chop, I have bone in chops that are about 1/2 thick. They cook up pretty quickly, but you can use the thicker cut chops, or even the boneless loin chops, just make sure to adjust your cooking times accordingly.

What You Need:

4 pork chops
1/2 cup maple syrup, the real kind, not pancake syrup
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Season the chops with salt and pepper and sear the first side in a non stick skillet over medium-high heat. If you are using the super thin chops, cook both sides first and remove to a plate while making the glaze. Otherwise, when you go to flip your chops over, add in the garlic and ginger and pour the maple syrup over the top. Let reduce for about five minutes or until the maple syrup is really thick and bubbly. You'll end up with about half of the syrup left. Remove the chops to a plate, and pour the glaze over the top.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sausage and White Bean Ragu

Super quick, easy and filling, this recipe can be adaptive to feed a large crowd, or just you and a friend. Creamy white kidney beans (cannellini) pair well with diced tomatoes and fennel sausage. It makes an easy dinner to have before rushing out the door, or getting home later then expected. I always have these ingredients on hand and if you have a stocked pantry, you probably do too. The only you might have to buy is sausage, unless you make your own like me. I probably have at least 10 lbs of sausage in my freezer! I love to serve this over creamy polenta because it sucks in all the juicy sauce from the ragu.

What You Need:

1 lb fennel sausage links (about 4 links), casings removed
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, diced
1lb can of white kidney beans

What To Do:

In a sautee pan, over high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up as you go. Cooking over the high heat will let the sausage caramelize and turn brown. Once the sausage is cooked most of the way, add in the onion and garlic and cook for a couple minutes before adding in the tomatoes and kidney beans. Cook another two minutes or so, or until everything is hot. Sever over polenta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top if you desire.
Tip: Need a meatless version? Just leave out the sausage! Sautee the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil, add in the beans and tomatoes and serve the same way!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

This week I seem to be emptying my back log of the things I cooked over the winter. Comfort foods always top that list. What nice about these last few recipes I've posted is that they are perfect for spring time too. Where I live, it really doesn't get very warm until the end of May. In fact, we're still getting snow on the ground this time of year. It's winter's way of reminding me that I still can't make any concrete plans of getting down off the mountain. It was 55 one day last week and the next we were sprinkled with a couple inches of snow. This time of year is still perfect for warm, filling foods like chicken pot pie. A nice creamy gravy surrounds chicken breast and lots of veggies. I like to top mine off with a biscuit dough, but pie crust works just as well.

What You Need:

1lb chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 large russet potato, cut into small cubes
1 c frozen corn
1 c frozen peas
1/2 lb frozen pearl onions (1/2 a bag)
1 or 2 carrots, diced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs butter
1/4 c flour
3-4 cup chicken stock
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
Pie Crust or your fav Biscuit recipe

What To Do:

In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted whisk in the flour and let it cook for a minute or two to get rid of the raw flour taste. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock to prevent lumps. Turn the heat to high and bring it up to a boil, stirring often. Just as soon as you see the first bubbles form, turn off your heat. If the sauce is to thick for your liking, add in a bit more stock. Stir the chicken breast into the gravy along with the thyme, sage, and some salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Pour the chicken and gravy over the top and stir everything together to combine. Portion the pot pie into ramekins or into a 13x9 pan, covering with either pie crust or biscuit dough. Make sure to cut slits in the top of the pie crust. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
Note: I sprinkled some spices on top of my biscuit dough before baking.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Winter Stew

I know that spring is here, but with spring comes chilly rainy days which are perfect for stew. I call this winter stew because it uses the bounty of the winter harvest. Potatoes, winter squash, onions and beef are main ingredients of this rich stew. Using a slow cooker to make this dish will keep your meat tender, moist and infuse it with all the flavors that surround it.

What You Need:

2-3 lb chuck roast, cut into 1 or 2 inch cubes
1 lb small potatoes, I like to use red in my stew
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb baby carrots
1 large onion, cut into chunks OR a bag of frozen pearl onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
1 carton, approx 4 cups beef stock
1/4 c flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1 or 2 bay leaves

What To Do:

In the bottom of the slow cooker, whisk together the flour and the wine. Stir in the stock, thyme, minced garlic and bay leaves. Add in the rest of the ingredients, in the order listed, starting with the beef and ending with onion. Turn the heat to low and cook for 8 hours. The flour will thicken the stew as it cooks.
Just a note: I only use the top half the squash for this recipes, but if you have one on the small side, feel free to use it all.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pocket Pies

With berries soon to be in season, pocket pies are a delicious way to use some of them up. Sure you can buy them at your grocery stores for around a dollar a piece but the ones I’ve seen hardly contain any fruit. In fact, most of the time it’s a sweet, jelly like substance. Homemade pocket pies are very easy, can be frozen after they’re cooked, and you control the quality of the ingredients. That’s what home cooking is all about, providing better foods for your family. They are not necessarily lower in fat or calories, but they are not full of preservatives and chemicals. 

What You Need:

You’re favorite pie crust recipe, perhaps GOC's perfect pie crust..
Peach Pie Filling
You’re favorite fruit pie filling. The last time I made these, peaches were in season. All I did was dice them, added in a sprinkle of cinnamon and some cornstarch. The cornstarch is VERY important. It allows the juice from the fruit to thicken and not explode out of the pies when you cook them.
Oil for frying
Egg wash made from one egg and a splash of milk or water
A glaze made of powdered sugar and some vanilla or lemon juice

What To Do:

Roll your pie dough out to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut out large circles using a biscuit cutter, glass etc. You want a decent sized circle. Place a tablespoon or two of filling into the center of each one. Make sure not to overfill the dough so they don’t explode while cooking. Brush the outer edges of your dough with the egg wash and fold it in half to enclose the filling, sealing it with your fingers or a fork. Carefully place two or three at a time into preheated 350 degree oil and fry for about 5 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Remove to paper toweling to cool for another 5 minutes before drizzling the glaze over the top. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tex-Mex Pork Wraps

I took an old recipe from here, one of my favorite, revamped it and create an entirely new dish. Marinated and grilled pork loin, is sliced thin and piled in some lettuce cups with a little pico de gallo, some shredded cheese and even a touch of sour cream. It is a flavor packed and doesn't lack in any department, it is sure to become a new favorite of yours too.

What You Need:

2-3lb pork loin, butterflied
salt and pepper
1/4 c olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, sliced
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 tsp cumin
handful of cilantro, chopped
1/4 c tequila
head of Boston or bib lettuce
shredded cheese, pico de gallo and
sour cream for topping

What To Do:

After butterflying the pork loin, season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the oil, garlic, jalapeño, zest and lime juice, cumin, cilantro and tequila. Pour it into a zip top and add in the pork loin. Seal, pressing out as much air as possible and massaging the marinade into the pork loin. Place in a bowl or on a plate and into the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
Heat your grill on high, once is nice and hot, remove the pork from the marinade and grill 7ish minutes on the first side, flip and finishing cooking on the other side 5-10 depending on how thick your pork loin is. Use a meat thermometer to check if your not sure. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing it thin. Place a couple slices in to a lettuce leaf, top with pico de gallo, shredded cheese and sour cream.You can sevre it with those tasty refried beans from the other week too. Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pork and Cabbage Stir Fry

Keep with my new healthy eating habit, I decided to make yet another stir fry. Stir fry is usually a pretty healthy supper as long as it isn't covered in high sugar, high fat sauces. This one uses some ground pork and has a ton of warming spices. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and some heat from a bit of cayenne, combine with the pork and veggies to make a wonderful stir fry. You can serve this over rice if you want, but keep in mind that the rice adds more carbs and calories to the tally. I left the "sauce" this creates very liquidy, but if you like it thick to coat the veggies then whisk a tablespoon or cornstarch in with the soy or sherry.

What You Need:

1lb ground pork
1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
1 tbs fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp almond oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1 small head of cabbage
1 large carrot, julienned
1 bell pepper, julienned
1/2 lb sugar snap peas
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c sherry

What To Do:

Heat a wok over high heat. Crumble the ground pork into the wok and let brown before starting to stir it. Add in the garlic, ginger and all the spices, stirring well to combine. Once the pork is mostly cooked, remove it to a bowl or plate, leaving any fat behind. Pour off most of the fat, leaving about a tsp behind. Add in the cabbage, carrots and bell pepper, cook stirring often for a good 5 minutes so that the cabbage starts to wilt and all the veggies become soft. Stir in the soy and sherry and cook for another minute or two, then add in the snap peas and add back in the pork. Stir and cook for another minute or until everything is heated through.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Coconut Shrimp

Shrimp is by far my favorite kind of seafood. I love it every way I've ever had it by one of my favorites is coconut shrimp. Sort of sweet, crunch, and just all around good, I bake mine to keep it more on the healthy side. It's pretty easy to make with just a handful of ingredients, that makes it a favorite in my house. I'm sure that once you give it a try it will become a favorite in your house too.

What You Need:

1 lb shrimp
2 egg white
1 c corn flakes
1/4 c panko bread crumbs
1/2 c coconut
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper  

What To Do:

Whip the egg whites together with some salt and pepper, and the garlic powder. You want them nice and frothy. In a food processor, place the corn flakes, panko and coconut and pulse it a few times until you have a nice crumbly coating. Coat the shrimp in the egg whites, and then into your crumb mixture, pressing it onto the shrimp so that it sticks. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and into a preheat 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. 
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