Fontina Artichoke Poppers

1lb Fontina Cheese grated, but almost any melting cheese could be substituted
1/2 cup chopped Artichoke hearts
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup spinach chopped and drained
2/3 cup Mayo
1 Tbls granulated garlic
Juice from 1 lemon
A couple of pinches of Salt and a grind of Pepper

Mix everything together and refrigerate over night. The next day remove from the fridge form into inch diameter balls. I used a disher (small ice-cream scoop) it make it super easy. Once you have all the balls formed put into the freezer to harden for a couple of hours.
Cooking:
In a heavy pot put in 3 inches of oil and heat over med-high heat until 350-375 degrees. Beat 3 eggs in a shallow dish cover the popper in the egg wash and then move to the breading (recipe follows) let sit for a couple of minutes and repeat (I like a double coating of breading). Move in batches to the oil and fry until golden brown and delious. Serve with a sweet Thai chili sauce.

Makes 24 poppers.

Breading
3 large eggs
1/2 lbs of Panko Bread crumbs
2 tbls Paprika
1 tbls ground pepper
1 tbls chyeane pepper

Thai Chili Sauce
1 tbls Sambal
1/4 cup Corn Syrup
1 tbls sugar
1 tbls Rice vinegar
Mix and serve.

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Chile-Lime Lettuce Wraps


4 lbs Boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts.
1/4 cup of cooking oil. I recommend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but really any would be OK.
2 tbls Hot chili powder
Juice and zest from two limes
1 head of butter lettuce

Remove and trim the excess fat from the chicken. Place chicken in a non-reactive bowl (read glass or stainless steel) add chili powder, lime zest/juice, and oil. Let set for minimum of 2 hours, but overnight would be better.

Remove chicken lightly salt both sides and then grill on medium high heat. The outside grill or if it is snowing outside a cast iron grill pan works wonders. ūüėČ

While the chicken is grilling prep your toppings.

For toppings I used
Cilantro
Green Onions
Limes
Tomatoes
Cotija cheese (a dry crumbly cheese similar to pressed ricotta and is incredible)
Sliced Habaneros or Jalapenos
Sour cream with lime juice and chili powder added to it.

Once the chicken is cooked and has rested for 10 minutes slice, place in the lettuce leaves, add toppings, wrap, and enjoy.

This would of course make an awesome salad. Yummy, cheap and not nearly at bad for you as most my recipes. ūüôā

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Smok’n Good Texas Brisket

AKA Why you want to be my friend. ūüôā

I have been working on a brisket recipe ever since my brother returned from his Texas mission.  This was by far my best.

Like many of my recipes it is very little on ingredients but heavy on time and technique.  This was was on my grill/smoker for 10 hours, and it was worth every second. :D.

Texas Style Brisket

1 10lb brisket (A brisket has two pieces a “point” and a “flat” I like to cook them together)
1 lb of Kosher salt (don’t worry you won’t use it all)
1/2 cup ground Pepper
1/3 cup granulated garlic
1 cup Apple Cider vinegar
1 cup Brown sugar
2 tbls dry mustard
1 tbls red pepper flakes
2 cups water

The night before the big day remove the meat from the package and rinse.  Add the pepper, the garlic and a cup of salt to a bowl and mix well, then take the mixture and cover the meat.  Take remaining salt and coat well.  Place on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let sit over night.

On the morning of the big day 10 to 12 hours before dinner time.  Start the charcoal in a chimney and start soaking wood chunks.  While the coals are getting to temp take the meet and rinse, and dry well.  Lightly salt and add a dusting of pepper.  Place in the smoker and smoke for 6 hours between 200 and 225 degrees.  After being on the smoke for the 6 hours place in a foil tray add the water, sugar, vinegar, mustard, and the pepper flakes. Cover with tinfoil and continue the cooking process at 200 degrees for the remaining 4 to 6 hours until the meat will tear apart easily. Slice against the grain and serve.

Optional BBQ Sauce

1 cup Ketchup
1/3 cup mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

After removing the meat from the foil tray. Take any liquid and cooking chunks and remove to a pan. Add the ketchup, mustard and the vinegar bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and blend.
 

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Gnocchi

These incredible potato-pasta-pillows are one of the fondest food memories that I have from my mission. ¬†Every missionary in Italy (that I met anyway) remembered their first Gnocchi experience, and they all went something like this… “I kept eating them until I was full and then a half an hour later I thought my stomach was ripping open.” ¬†You see these light little pillows of goodness expand greatly with water (at least that is what I was told)

This is a great home made pasta recipe for beginners. ¬†It doesn’t require a lot of extra tools to make, a flat surface and a fork is all you need. Although I do recommend a good bench knife and a potato ricer. You can pick up both of these for less than $20 from a local kitchen supply store. ¬†Also, it is a fairly forgiving recipe and loves simple easy sauces. Seriously, my favorite ways to eat these is to grab a handful (6 to 8) right from the freezer drop them into boiling water. Then remove to a bowl that has a little cream and some Gorgonzola stir around until the cheese is melted and enjoy. Another similar idea is a little garlic a little butter and grated Parmigiana Reggiano. Literally a 10 minute meal.

Gnoochi

1 lb russet potatoes peeled
2/3 cup of flour it may take more or less than this it just depends on the water in the potatoes
1 egg
optional 3 cloves of garlic

Start by boiling your potatoes just like you would for mashed potatoes.  I boil several cloves of garlic along with the potatoes and mash them in as well, but that is entirely optional.  Remove from the water and set aside to cool.  While the potatoes cool make a volcano out of the flour. Once the potatoes have cooled to the point that you can handle them mash them and add it to the flour add the eggs and start gently mixing it all together

Once it is kneaded well it should be soft, but dry to the touch.  After it has come together divide it up into working sized pieces. Then use your hands to roll it into 3/4 inch ropes.  Once you have the ropes shaped cut them into 1 inch pieces. Then roll the individual pieces on the back of a fork to create ridges to catch sauce.

To cook bring pot of salted water to a boil place the gnoochi in the water and when they float pull them out of the water with slotted spoon, or better yet a spider.

Sauce, Plate, and Enjoy!

PS I completely realize that most of the recipes that I put on this blog go against the current food trends of “fast, easy and delish,” and I do so unapologetically.¬† However, this one really is easy and fast.¬† In less than a half hour you can have fresh made pasta on the table, and in the freezer for easy meals later on.¬† Give this one a try, seriously.

Pasta Bolgnese

To help with your New Years Weight Loss Resolution. < wink, wink ;) >

There is a little know fact in America. That is that pasta needs to be matched to the sauce. For this sauce choose a big hearty noodle like rigatoni or penne rigate.

This is my favorite dishes in the whole world. It is also one of the simplest as far as ingredients and methods.  The trade off is that it is a fairly time intensive process.  There are no shortcuts, and each step is critical to the end product.

Pasta Bolgnese

2 cups Mirequoix
1/2 stick Butter (I know you think Italian you think Olive Oil, but you would be wrong.)
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground  beef
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can tomatoe sauce
1/2 can tomatoe paste

These brown bits on the bottom of the pan is the fond (foundation) of this recipe. They should be there at the end of each ingredient step until you add the tomatoes.

Start by melting the butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter stops foaming and starts browning add the Mirepoix along with two pinches of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper.  Cook on the same heat until fond (brown bits of goodness on the bottom of the pan) forms the more the better so keep scraping the bottom of the pan.  Fond is the key to this dish and each ingredient is added only after fond starts to form from the previous ingredient.

Add the meat and repeat the process until things are sticking to the bottom of the pan again. Add the milk repeat. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until very dry and everything is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and scrap the bottom of the pan thoroughly to get all the fond into the sauce add the sauce and paste. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 4 hours. Taste add salt as needed.

Also it can be a messy recipe. Be sure to have a lid loosely covering the pot to help catch some of the splashes.

Cook the pasta just short of Al Denne drain add back to the pot along with one cup per pound of pasta and allow pasta to finish cooking in the sauce. Don’t for get to stir or you will have a mess on the bottom of the pan. Plate add more sauce on top and go crazy with the Parmigiano Reggiono

Yes I know this is a long complicated process, but trust me it is soooo worth it.

PS I read some where that people pay more attention to picture captions than anything else. Was that true??

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Sausage Sage Stuffing

Once again this is not stuffing as stuffing is evil. It is a dressing because it is cooked outside of the bird.

Sausage Sage Stuffing

2 cups Mirepoix (2 parts onion 1 part carrot 1 part celery and 3 cloves of garlic per whole onion)
1/2 stick of butter (usually I use more, but I didn’t this year)
1 cup whole milk
2-3 cups turkey stock. (chicken stock could also be used)
3 Tbls Fennel seeds
4 Tbls rubbed Sage
1 lb mild Italian sausage
2 lbs dried bread pieces
Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper

Toast bread crumbs on one side in a 500 degree oven. Be very careful they will go from golden brown and delicious to black and awful in the blink of the eye. Remove from oven and add to big mixing bowl.

In a dry pan over medium heat toast the fennel seeds until you start to smell licorice. Add the butter and the Mirepoix to the pan. Add sage along with a large pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper. Saute until onions are translucent. Add contents to the mixing bowl with the bread pieces.

In the same pan add sausage, cook until brown, and add to bowl. I like big pieces of sausage in the stuffing, that is my preference make it how you want. ūüôā

Add milk mix then start adding the stock remember that the stuffing will get softer as it sits and I don’t like it mushy. So generally the bigger pieces of my stuffing have a little bit of at crunch at this point. After you put it the refrigerator over night it will be perfect. Do a final taste test and add any additional salt and pepper as needed.

Place on the the second shelve in a 425 oven for 20 to 30 minutes uncovered. I like a crunchy top if you like it moister then by all means bake covered with tin foil for the same amount of time.

PS Yes, some people believe that this needs apple, I am not one of those people. If you are go ahead.

Cream-Cheese Frosting

There is no picture because I am cleaning my desk at my office and I just need to get this recipe documented.:D

This is the frosting that they use here at work and it is soooo good. Obliviously it made quite a bit of frosting so I will need to rework the portions and make cinnamon rolls.

6 lbs cream cheese
3 lbs margarine
Cream until light then add
.375 lbs evaporated milk
Mix, scrape, repeat.
12lb powdered sugar
Mix, scrape, repeat.

Turkey Day Is Coming

How do I know? Because I start gathering ingredients for my Habanero-Cranberry Relish. Yes this does use a Habanero, but it is not as spicy as you would think. There is a lot of sugar and that really counteracts the heat. I would put the heat level about with Pace medium salsa, your experience may vary.

Habanero -Cranberry Relish

2 bags of fresh cranberries. Washed, sorted and chopped. I use a food processor it makes the job so much easier, and, well, I’m lazy.
Zest and juice from 1 medium orange
1 medium (baseball size) red onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon grated garlic
2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 Pickled Habanero chopped finely (more if you like it hotter)
1/2 cup Maple syrup
1/2 Brown sugar (approximately)
Let it sit a day and come back, taste, add salt, and fine tune the flavors.

For the record this is a best guess recipe. I have been making this for the better part of 10 years and the whole process is done by smell. When it is right there is a perfect harmony of orange, ginger and maple smell.

PS My favorite part of this is for sandwiches after the big day. This and Mayo will make your leftover Turkey sandwich heavenly. ūüėÄ

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Soup For Me!!

As I mentioned a couple of days ago my sister-in-law sent me this recipe via Twitter. I knew right away that it was a recipe for me. I am copying the recipe from the author’s blog with permission. I have made some minor changes but the heart of the meal is hers.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Topped with Bacon and Gorgonzola

Recipe via http://inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com/
1 butternut squash, quartered and cleaned
1 large sweet potato, peeled and halved
2 garlic cloves
2 small onions, halved
1 granny smith apple, quartered
1 shallot, halved
1 tsp dried sage
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 to 6 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream (this is my addition I thought it needed a little dairy)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 425¬į
Brush veggies with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Roast veggies until fork tender. You should do it in batches. Put the squash and potatoes in for 15 minutes and then add the apples garlic and onions that way every thing finishes at the same time.
Squash will easily remove from peel.
In a few batches, puree veggies in food processor until smooth. I used a fork to soften added 4 cups of broth then used my stick blender to puree adding more liquid as I went to get the consistency I wanted.
Add puree to large pot and stir in chicken broth until you reach a consistency you like ( I used about 6 cups of broth).
Stir in sage and cayenne.
Simmer for at least 30 minutes……or if you’re like me, maybe you like your soup to simmer all afternoon.

Top with crumbled bacon and gorgonzola cheese to make it soup nirvana..

PS There was some discussion about the pictures for this post. My wife really dislikes the top picture. I kinda like it. What do you think.

Whole Wheat Bread-sticks with Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

My fabulous sister-in-law sent me a recipe via Twitter a couple of weeks ago.  I knew I had to try it and I knew that I needed to do some thing special for it.  I figured what goes better with soup than homemade chicken stock and bread-sticks.

I threw everything together and baked the sticks so that they would be ready for prime time on Sunday.

Whole Wheat Bread-sticks with Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper.

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons of yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 3/4 cups Bread Flour
1 tablespoon salt

Mix butter yeast sugar and water together in mixing bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes to bloom. Add flour and mix with a bread hook for 30 minutes. Dough should be very sticky, if not add a little bit of water and mix more. Remove from bowl and place on a sheet pan with oiled parchment paper. Let rise for 45 minutes and cut into golf ball sized balls. Using the “Playdough” method* roll into bread-sticks let proof 15 minutes or more depending how soft you like your bread sticks. Paint with melted butter, add sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Bake at 425 until brown (about 15 minutes). Enjoy.

* The Playdough method is what we all used as kids when we played with playdough to make snakes worms etc. Take the ball start in the center and rolling back and forth with your palms work outward.