Monday, September 28, 2009

German Potato Salad

Tonight's menu was an ode to Oktoberfest: Pork Chops With Apple Gravy, Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon, and German Potato Salad. The potato salad recipe was inspired by one in an issue of Cook's Illustrated. There was a lot of acid in this menu—vinegar in the pork chops and potato salad and lemon juice in the Brussels sprouts—but the combination was just right. The other main ingredient was our favorite pork—you can't have too much bacon. Enjoy!

German Potato Salad
1 1/2 lb. small red potatoes, cut into uniform cubes
6 thick-sliced bacon slices, chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar (apple cider would be good as well)
1 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard

1. Cook potatoes in water to cover until fork tender. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, and drain potatoes.
2. Cook bacon in a large skillet until browned and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from pan; drain on paper towels.
3. Sauté onion in hot bacon drippings until tender. Stir in sugar, vinegar, and reserved 1/2 cup cooking water; cook, stirring to loosen browned particles on bottom of skillet, until liquid reduces to about 1 cup. Remove from heat, and stir in mustard. Add potatoes and bacon to skillet; toss to coat.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chicken-and-Sausage Jambalaya

Last week I was flipping through my recipe box and came across a jambalaya recipe from an old friend and his mother-in-law. I had completely forgotten about the recipe (it's probably been eight years since I've made it), but I remembered it being yummy. When I made it last night, I put my own stamp on it. I think you'll like this recipe—it is a little spicy without being overwhelmingly so. It would be great to serve at a ballgame, take to a sick friend, or freeze in small portions to pull out on a busy weeknight. There's a lot of chopping involved, but the flavor profile (I mean taste) is completely worth it. We had this with roasted garlic bread. Enjoy!

Chicken-and-Sausage Jambalaya
3 onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 to 2 Tbsp. Creole seasoning (taste to make sure the flavor is right)
1 lb. sausage (Italian or andouille), casings removed
3 cups rice
5 to 6 cups chicken stock
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup pureed tomatoes
2 lb. shredded cooked chicken

1, Sauté onions and next 3 ingredients in hot oil, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften (about 15 minutes). Stir in garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Add in sausage, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is cooked. Stir in Creole seasoning. Stir in rice, and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and next 2 ingredients.
2. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring often, until rice is done (about 20 minutes). Stir in shredded chicken, and cook 5 more minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Caramelized Pear Pie

Pears taste like fall to me, so I decided a pie with pears was in order for dessert. While thinking about the method, I remembered that Andy thought the apples in last week's Streusel-Topped Apple Pie were too firm (they were just right to me). My solution for this pie was to sauté sliced pears in butter and brown sugar to soften them before adding them to the piecrust. The lovely star cutouts on top are complements of Andy. Maybe a job in food styling is in his future!

Caramelized Pear Pie
1/2 cup butter
5 Bosc pears, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 cup brandy
2 recipes Pastry Dough
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add in sliced pears, brown sugar, and next 3 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until pears begin to soften. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in brandy. Return to heat, and cook stirring occasionally, 10 more minutes.
2. Roll out 1 recipe Pastry Dough, and place in pie plate. Spoon in pear mixture. Roll out remaining Pastry Dough, and place over top of pear mixture. Crimp edges to seal. Use cookie cutters or cut slits in the top with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape.
3. Bake at 425° for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicken Souvlaki

My friend Katie turned me on to this Skillet Chicken Souvlaki recipe from the August issue of Cooking Light, and I used it as a springboard for tonight's dinner. For side dishes, we had a salad dressed with a red-wine vinaigrette dressing and Homemade Pita Chips, my latest foray into fried bread which is very popular at our house. This dinner came together very quickly—perfect for a weeknight.

Chicken Souvlaki
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 lb. chicken cutlets, sliced into strips
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
Salt and pepper
Pita bread
Tzaziki Sauce

1. Sauté onion and bell pepper in hot oil for 5 minutes. Add in chicken strips, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until done. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Stir in oregano, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
2. Spoon chicken mixture into pita bread halves; top with Tzaziki Sauce.

Tzaziki Sauce:
1 (7-oz.) container Greek yogurt
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and diced
1 tsp. lemon zest
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. dillweed
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Stir together all ingredients.

Homemade Pita Chips
Peanut oil
Pita bread, cut into triangles and split
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat peanut oil in a Dutch oven; fry pita bread, in batches, in hot oil until golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Greek Salad
1 small head green leaf lettuce, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
Crumbled feta
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives

1. Combine lettuce and next 2 ingredients in a bowl.
2. In a small bowl, combine red wine vinegar and next 4 ingredients until combined. Pour over lettuce mixture, tossing gently.
3. Divide salad among plates, and sprinkle with feta and olives.

Streusel-Topped Apple Pie

It happens every year at this time—as soon as apples and pears come into season, I start craving fall comfort foods. It's hard to beat apple pie, especially served with ice cream, and I'm always trying new ways to make it. This is my latest version. For the piecrust, I followed pastry dough recipe I use for fried pies. It's super-simple because you can mix the butter into the flour mixture with your hands, no pastry blender or food processor required. (I included a little bit of apple pie spice in the crust so the cinnamon flavor continues throughout every bite.) A streusel top is so easy and who doesn't like brown sugar, oatmeal, and butter all mixed together? One more thing, I'm too lazy to peel the apples—how easy is that? Enjoy!

Streusel-Topped Apple Pie
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. apple pie spice
6 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes and chilled
1/4 cup ice water
2 Granny Smith apples, cut in half, cored, and thinly sliced
2 McIntosh apples, cut in half, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. apple pie spice
Pinch of salt
Vanilla ice cream

1. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Use hands to incorporate butter into flour mixture. Stir in ice water. Shape dough into a disk; cover with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour.
2. Combine apple slices, 1/2 cup sugar, apple pie spice, and pinch of salt in a large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes; drain, if needed.
3. Roll out dough and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Spoon apple mixture into piecrust. Top with Streusel.
4. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed

1. Combine oatmeal and next 3 ingredients. Gradually incorporate butter into mixture.

Chicken and Dumplings

Tonight the 3Cs and their parents came for dinner. I decided to make some good old-fashioned comfort food: Chicken and Dumplings. I recently bought a Cook's Illustrated that focuses on soups and stews (two of my favorite things). I don't subscribe to this magazine, but I love the detective-like approach they take with their recipes. I've only made a few recipes from CI and have been pleased with the results. I followed the recipe for Chicken and Dumplings pretty closely. My changes were using chicken stock (Kitchen Basics brand) instead of chicken broth, substituting an additional 3/4 cup chicken stock for the same amount of sherry, and omitting the English peas and chopped parsley. Next time I make it, I plan use the sherry and to pre-bake the dumplings a bit before adding them to the stew. The taste-testers at dinner thought this was a keeper!

Chicken and Dumplings
5 cups chicken stock
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 Tbsp. butter
4 carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sherry or chicken stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder (this isn't a typo)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1. Bring stock to a boil in Dutch oven; add in chicken breasts. Return to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is just cooked. Place chicken on a cutting board, and cool for 30 minutes. Pour stock into another bowl. Once cool, shred chicken in the mixer with the paddle attachment or use 2 forks.
2. Melt butter in same Dutch oven. Add in carrots and onion, and sauté for 10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Add in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Stir in 6 Tbsp. flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in sherry, scraping bottom of pan. Gradually stir in reserved stock,shredded chicken, cream and next 4 ingredients. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring often, 20 minutes.
3. Stir together 2 cups flour and next 3 ingredients.
4. Discard bay leaves and increase heat to medium. Use a small scoop to drop dumplings into stew; cook until dumplings have doubled in size.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

Here's the latest variation with my basic cookie recipe. This makes about 6 dozen cookies. Rather than bake them all today, I froze balls of cookie dough on a baking sheet and then placed the frozen cookie dough balls in a zip-top bag. Anytime we want a a little something sweet, we can take out the number of cookie dough balls of the freezer, place them on a baking sheet, and bake for 11 minutes (I think it will take a little longer than normal because the batter is frozen.) This may be a new cottage industry for me—much better than TollHouse from the grocery store! I love this flavor combination, but next time I will add toasted almonds—it'll be even better.

Chocolate-Cherry Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 bag semisweet chocolate morsels
1 bag dried cherries, chopped

1. Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until creamy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Gradually add to butter mixture; beat until combined. Stir in chocolate morsels and chopped cherries.
3. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Greek-Style Tilapia, take 2

I first posted this recipe back in March. Tonight we had it again and I changed up some things. Both versions are good, but the balsamic vinegar I added tonight gave the fish a great depth that it didn't have before. Give it a try!

Greek-Style Tilapia
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
Greek seasoning
1 lb. tilapia fillets
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Black pepper to taste

1. Sauté shallot and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet 1 minute. Sprinkle tilapia fillets with Greek seasoning. Place fish in skillet. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until fish becomes opaque. Sprinkle with oregano. Stir in tomatoes, olives, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.

Oven-Baked Pancakes With Blueberries and Peaches

I'm always looking for special Saturday morning breakfast options. Today I came across a recipe for oven-baked pancakes in Barefoot Contessa: Back to the Basics. Of course, I put my own twist on it and what I made looks nothing like the picture in the cookbook, but it was still pretty and, most importantly, tasted yummy. I don't have 6-inch individual ramekins, so I improvised with my jumbo muffin pan. The result was a cross between a pancake and a muffin. You can use any combination of fruit; the original recipe called for 1 cup each of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. I had some blueberries that I froze earlier in the summer and the last of my 2009 peaches, so that's what I chose. The original called for room-temperature fruit, but I thought it would be even better if the fruit was warm like the pancakes and maple syrup. (I heated the fruit in the microwave at 50% for about 4 minutes.) This would be great option for a brunch because you can make several at one time. Definitely give it a try!

Oven-Baked Pancakes With Blueberries and Peaches
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled peaches
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. butter, cut into pats
Maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Combine blueberries, peaches, and sugar in a bowl, and set aside.
3. Beat eggs with a mixer until blended. Gradually beat in melted butter and next 5 ingredients until mixture is smooth.
4. Place a pat of butter in the bottom of a jumbo muffin pan. Place pan in oven for 3 minutes or until butter completely melts and begins to turn golden. Remove from oven. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.
5. Bake at 425° for 12 to 14 minutes or until puffed and golden.
6. While the pancakes bake, heat the blueberry mixture in the microwave at 50% power, stirring in 2-minute intervals. Serve warm pancakes with fruit and maple syrup.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Caramelized Peaches With Rum

I had a few end-of-the-season peaches to use, so for dessert I made a take on bananas foster. I cut the peaches into chunky slices, cooked them in a caramel-rum sauce, and served them over vanilla ice cream. The rum intensifies the buttery caramel. This decadent dessert is quite elegant, but it's so simple! Definitely try it.

Caramelized Peaches With Rum
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 peaches, peeled and cut into thick slices
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup light rum
Vanilla ice cream

1. Melt butter in skillet; stir in brown sugar. Cook until mixture is combined. Stir in peaches, allspice, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and stir in rum. Turn heat back on, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Spoon peaches and caramel-rum sauce over vanilla ice cream.

Blue Cheese Grits

Andy told me a few months ago that beef tenderloin is his love language. Last week, Publix had beef tenderloin on sale, so I bought two filets. This has been a crazy week at work (we had to work today, in fact) and there has been minimal cooking going on at our house. I decided to grill the filets for dinner tonight to make up for the grab-and-growl week we've had. Blue cheese is a favorite of ours, so I made Blue Cheese Grits to complement the steak. We also had Stuffed Tomatoes. To get the most flavorful, creamy grits, I cook them with equal amounts of chicken stock and milk. Enjoy!

Blue Cheese Grits
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk (you can also use cream)
1 cup grits
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. butter

1. Bring chicken stock and milk to a boil in a saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Stir in blue cheese, salt, pepper, and butter.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pasta With Bacon, Zucchini, and Tomatoes

I decided to make something with pasta and bacon for dinner tonight, but I wasn't exactly sure what. After finding a couple of recipes on the Food Network Web site, I decided to make a sauce with tomatoes and a little cream. (Cream makes everything better!) A quick trip to the grocery store helped me fine-tune my plan. The dish I came up with came together really quickly and tasted great. I told Andy that it had a nice flavor profile; he replied, "Does that mean it tastes good? Yeah, it does." Success!

Pasta With Bacon, Zucchini, and Tomatoes
8 slices bacon, chopped
2 shallots, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 zucchini, cut into cubes
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 to 3/4 cup cream
1 tsp. herbes de provence
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked ziti pasta

1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until done. Drain and set aside. Discard drippings in Dutch oven. Add shallots and zucchini; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in tomatoes and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in cream, herbes de provence, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in pasta and bacon. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

A couple of Saturdays ago, I made Sticky Buns with puff pastry dough. Andy told me he liked them, but that he really loved the cinnamon rolls I used to make with frozen biscuits. I had completely forgotten about those! (This blog is good for me—it gives me a reference point for the things I make. Because I love to try new recipes, I always forget about the old ones.) This weekend we were at the beach and I decided to bring back the Cinnamon Roll Muffins. (This is probably not the best name for this recipe, but it's all I can come up with right now.) This recipe is a variation of one from the September 2006 issue of SL. My variation came about, in part, because I didn't read the original recipe carefully enough and then when I decided to make it on Sunday, I didn't have a copy to reference and it has been at least a couple of years since I've made it. This recipe is super easy; however the steps may seem intimidating, so I took step-by-step photos to help. You'll definitely want this to become part of your breakfast repertoire!

Cinnamon Roll Muffins
1 bag frozen Southern-style biscuits
1/2 cup butter, softened
Brown sugar
Dried cranberries
Vegetable cooking spray
Orange Juice Glaze

1. Place frozen biscuits in three rows on a lightly floured surface. Let stand 20 minutes or until thawed.
2. Once thawed, press biscuits together to create a rectangle.
3. Spread butter over top of biscuits; sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the top. Sprinkle with dried cranberries.
4. Roll up, starting with 1 long side, to create a log. Slice log into 12 slices (cut off ends and discard).
5. Place slices in lightly greased muffin cups.
6. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Remove from muffin pans, and drizzle with glaze, if desired. Serve warm.

Orange Juice Glaze:
Powdered sugar
Orange zest
Orange juice

1. Pour desired amount of powdered sugar in a bowl. Stir in zest and juice, starting with 1 tsp. juice, until you create a glaze.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies

As part of Mel's birthday present, I made her cookies. I based the recipe off my basic oatmeal cookie recipe, but omitted the oats and increased the flour a bit. Mel and I prefer tender cookies and these were just right. I made two kinds by splitting the batter in half and adding the two flavor combos. (This recipe makes about six dozen cookies.) The birthday flavors: Chocolate-Peanut Butter (halved Reese's Cup Miniatures) and White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut (from our trip to Hawaii). Enjoy!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 bag Reese's Cup Miniatures, halved
1 bag white chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts may be substituted.

1. Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until creamy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add in vanilla.
2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Divide batter in half. Stir in Reese's Cup halves into half of batter. Stir white chocolate morsels and macadamia nuts into other half of batter.
3. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until done.