Sunday, February 28, 2010

Grilled Corn with a Twist

One of the things I miss during winter is fresh corn on the cob. I don't care too much to eat it straight off the cob, but there is a freshness that you cannot find in frozen or canned corn.

My favorite recipe for fresh corn is grilled corn.

Cover 4-6 ears of corn with butter and salt. Grill on each side until the corn has visible grill marks. Cut the corn off the cob, adding a little salt. Add 2-3 finely chopped jalapenos, 1 bunch of finely chopped cilantro. If the corn is incredibly dry, try adding a little butter. Grilled onions are another thing that can liven this dish up.

To make this into more of a salad, follow the same recipe to start. Add an avacado chopped and the juice of a lime. To add color and taste, you can add a chopped red bell pepper as well.

Salsa, salsa, salsa

I'm always afraid of what it is in salsa and was even more afraid of making it. I've experimented over the year and have some simple ways to make your own.

I always start with the same base.

12 roma tomatoes, removing seeds and dicing into small pieces.
1 white onion, finely diced
12-15 jalapenos, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
juice of 1-2 limes
salt to taste

Once you have the base, you can adjust with your own preferences. If you prefer more tomatoes, onions, japs, etc. add as desired.

Now the fun part.....

Any combo of your favorite salsa-esk veggies and fruits will work.

Cucumbers, remove seeds
Pineapple, chopped or crushed
Various peppers

Have fun and try a new salsa today!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

It's hard to write a recipe from memory, but I'm going to try.

Fill a large soup pot about 2/3 full of water and add 6 chicken thighs. Bring to a boil slowly on medium. While the chicken is cooking, make the noodles.

In a bowl, mix 1 cup flour, 1 egg, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 eggshell of milk. Using a little flour, roll the mix out as thin as you can. I use a pizza cutter to cut the noodles into strips and then into 1 inch segments. Make the size you would like keeping in mind that they do expand. Put noodles back in bowl until ready.

When the chicken is cooked all the way through, remove from the pot and set aside. The broth will need to be strained. I strain it using paper towels in a colander. Pour broth back into pot. If the pot is not at least half full, add water and salt to taste.

To the broth, add 2 cups of chopped carrots, 2 cups of choped celery, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped clove of garlic and 2 tbsp of Italian seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue to boil on medium until the vegetables are tender.

Take the skin and bones off of the chicken and chop or cube. Add chicken into pot after vegetables are tender.

Turn heat up to high until boiling and add noodles slowly making sure they do not stick together. Let boil until noodles start expand and float to top. Leave on simmer until noodles are fully cooked.

If the noodles absorb too much of your broth, add water as needed and always salt and pepper to taste.


Pepper Jack Cheesy Mac

I never knew that mac and cheese could taste so good. When I put the box away and started to cook it myself, I fell in love with it. Not only that, but I learned that it is truely comfort food. Much to my husbands disappointment, I have also learned that yes, mac and cheese can be a main course.

Here is a new recipe with a little kick:

2 cups dry elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded pepper jack
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 onion
2 garlic cloves

Cook pasta completely and drain. In small saute pan, cook chopped onion and garlic until starting to brown. Put back in the pan, adding in 1 1/2 cups of each of the cheeses, evaporated milk, onion and garlic mix and pepper. Stir until evenly mixed. Pour into a lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Cover with foil and bake on 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 additional minutes or until lightly browned.

Baked Rigatoni Lasagna

One of the reasons I love lasagna is the layer of ricotta cheese in the middle. But, I don't love the amount of time I spend on lasagna. So, here is my easy almost lasagna recipe.

Cook 2-3 cups of dry rigatoni, drain and return to pan. Add your favorite sauce, mushrooms, 2 cloves chopped garlic, a chopped onion, ground beef or choice of sausage, cooked spinach, shredded mozerella cheese. Of course all but the sauce are optional to taste.

With a mixer, whip together 1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, dash of salt and pepper, and a tbsp of Italian seasonings. If the ricotta mixture is really dry, add a splash of milk. Mixture should be thick but pour easily.

Fill an 9x13 baking dish with 1/2 of pasta mixture. Pour the whipped ricotta cheese mixture over the top of the pasta mix. Add the rest of the pasta mix on top of ricotta. Cover with shredded mozerella cheese.

Put foil over the pan and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes longer or until the cheese is bubbling.

Leftover factor:  Absolutely wonderful!

Crock Pot Pudding Cakes

Yes, you read that right. A fluffy, creamy treat baked in the crock pot. I must admit, that the original recipe is not my own. I did use a recipe from a magazine as a starter, but have made it my own with changing out some of the ingredients.

Here is the basic recipe:

3 eggs, separated
6 oz or 3/4 cup yogurt*
Grated peel and juice of one lemon**
3/4 cup sugar***
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 ripe bananas, sliced****
Whipped cream, optional

Grease the inside of a 3 to 4 quart slow cooker with butter. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. In another large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, yogurt, citrus zest and juice on medium for 1 minutes. Add the sugar, flour, salt and beat on medium until smooth. Working in 3 or 4 batches, gently fold in the beaten egg whites.

Put the banana slices in the bottom of the crock pot, then pour the batter over the fruit. Cover and cook on high until the cake is puffed, the top is set and the edges are browned, about 1 hour and 25 minutes. Turn off and let cool for 20 minutes, removing crock pot insert if possible.

Spoon into bowls, add whipped cream and extra fruit if desired.

*Original recipe calls for plain, non-fat yogurt. Any non-fat yogurt will work. Use flavors that will compliment your fruit choices.
**Use any citrus fruit.
***Sugar substitutes may be used. Most substitute packages will give sugar conversion for recipes.
****Use any fruit on the bottom. You may use canned fruit or fresh fruit.

The combinations I have used and really liked:

Orange, plain yogurt, crushed pineapple
Orange, strawberry yogurt, crushed pineapple
Lime, plain yogurt, chopped marischino cherries
Lemon, peach yogurt, peaches

Leftover factor:  Provided there are leftovers, pop it in the fridge and eat later. It has a great pudding consistancy.

Let me know if you come up with any combinations that you like.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Shredded Pork Burritos

Ahhh, yes the leftover pork roast must have a final resting place. So, turn it into a simple Mexican dish.

Combine the shredded pork, a little water and taco seasoning in a pan and cook until warm and browning. I simplify the process even more by using an already made bean dip to spread on my tortillas. Add shredded cheese to the tortilla and microwave for 30 seconds.

The thing that keeps it from being an ordinary burrito is that I added chopped cilantro. Then I add the shredded pork, wrap and eat. I add salsa and sour cream to the top of the burritos.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Baked Sausage and Meatball Ziti

When we go to Italian restaurants, we typically overspend for a dish that is slightly off from what we would really like to eat. That is the inspiration for my baked sausage and meatball ziti. It may sound difficult, but it takes about the same amount of time it would take to get my order in just about any restaurant.

Prepare ziti or your favorite past as you normally would to eat.

Start the sauce by cooking half an onion, three cloves shredded fresh garlic, sliced mushroom (if you like them) and sliced sausage of your choice. Once everything in the pain is starting to brown, add your favorite sauce. Simmer and add salt, pepper, Italian seasonings and the cooked pasta, setting aside once all mixed.

For the mini-meatballs, you will want to put one pound of ground beed, sausage or turkey in a bowl. Add finely chopped garlic, onions and mushrooms to the meat. You will want to add salt, pepper, a cup of bread crumbs, one egg and 1/8 cup of milk. Mix together and roll into small, nickle sized meatballs. Cook and brown the meatballs in a skillet until they are cooked through. If the pieces of mushroom are large enough, they will get crunchy when the meatball starts to brown.

Add the meatballs and two cups of shredded mozerella cheese to the pasta and sauce mix. Put in an oven safe dish and add more cheese to the top of the pasta. Bake at 375 until the cheese on top is hot and bubbling.

Leftover factor:  The entire dish can be fixed and baked the next day. This dish also freezes for a quick meal later on. If freezing, let defrost naturally.

Monday, February 1, 2010

BBQ Pork

As I stood looking at the leftover pork roast that was full of flavor, I wondered what I could make that my husband would love. My husband is a simple guy and should have been from the south. He's never turned down any BBQ. It's like pizza, it's all good even when it's bad.

I cut up the pork and cooked it a second time on the stove. I added worsterchire sauce and fresh cracked pepper to the pan and let it cook until it was browning a second time. Once it was hot, I added my favorite BBQ sauce. Add the amount of sauce that makes you happy.

Ok, I know how boring. It isn't the sandwich that makes the meal. It is the side dish. And, you can't have a BBQ sandwich without some fresh sweet potato fries.

For the best fries, sweet or regular, try the double frying method. Fry the first time in 325 degree oil until they are floating on the top of the oil. Remove and let cool. Once they are cool, turn the oil up to 400 degrees. Drop back in the fryer until nice and brown. Dark brown for sweet and golden brown for regular. Once removed, toss with a light dusting of salt. If you want to make the sweet potato fries interesting, dust with brown sugar.

Leftover factor:  We started with leftovers, but if the family doesn't empty the pan then you are set for sandwiches again or use in a hot dog bun for a fun lunch for kids.