Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Grilling Sauce (for lack of a better name)

1 16oz can of Pineapple with juice
1 cup Brown sugar
1/2 cup Rum
1/2 tsp Dry mustard
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Hot sauce (Texas Pete, Tabasco, etc.) or more to taste
1/4 tsp Ground ginger
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Corn Starch

Blend all ingredients well. Pour into microwave safe pot and heat on high for 1 minute and stir. Repeat heating and stirring untill well thickened. IMHO it tastes nasty until the alcohol has boiled off, so don't dispair.

This mess worked great on pork spare ribs yesterday. Next time I will try in on a pork loin roast.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Even if I can't keep this blog updated.

You Are an Excellent Cook

You're a top cook, but you weren't born that way. It's taken a lot of practice, a lot of experimenting, and a lot of learning.
It's likely that you have what it takes to be a top chef, should you have the desire...
Are You A Good Cook?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Cheater’s Macaroni

I like to make things from scratch. I also have four kids who like to eat… NOW! So sometimes I cheat and start with something in a box or a bottle and improve on it. I add crème sherry and sautéed red peppers to bottled alfredo sauce. I use milk instead of water and add sour cream to boxed mashed potatoes.

And I use boxed macaroni and orange powder… ah, cheese, I mean. So, by request from Susie, here’s how I make salted library paste palatable to adults.

1 lb ground beef
2 boxes of “macaroni and cheese”, preferably with real cheese
1 cup milk
1 cup (about) of Velveeta, cubed

Brown the ground beef in a skillet with salt, garlic, onion powder, paprika, whatever, to taste. Drain and set aside. Put the pasta in boiling, salted water. Heat milk and Velveeta in microwave until Velveeta melts (about 5 minutes); stir until smooth and set aside. When the pasta is tender, drain and return to pot. Pour in the “cheese” powder and the melted Velveeta and stir until smooth. Add the ground beef, stir, and serve.

You can leave out the ground beef if you like, but reduce the amount of liquid unless you like runny macaroni.

Bonus Feature

I buy ground beef in large packages because it is cheaper; but then I have to freeze it to keep it from going bad. I hate cooking frozen ground beef, and I hate even more trying to get it to thaw just in time to use (I am just not that organized). So my solution is to buy a big package of ground beef and cook the whole thing at once, adding my favorite blend of salt, garlic, onion, and whatever other spice comes to hand that smells good. I also usually add some red or port wine – because I like it that way.

Then I drain it well and let it cool. I divide it into manageable lots – about 2 lbs – and put it in quart freezer bags and freeze it. When I need ground beef for a recipe like my cheater’s macaroni, I stick a package in the microwave until it crumbles and toss it in.

In fact with the macaroni, I just throw the frozen block in the boiling water with the pasta without using the microwave. When I drain the pasta, the beef is nice and hot and already mixed in!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mashed Redskin Potatoes

3 to 5 lbs redskin potatoes, washed and quartered
1tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp salt
¼ c butter
½ c cream

Boil the potatoes with the salt and garlic until soft. Drain. Put in mixing bowl with butter (I use about a half stick, but you can add more or less to your taste). Mix on low until butter is incorporated. Turn up to medium high speed and slowly add cream until the mix is smooth and, well… creamy.

Serve hot with extra butter.

For an extra good treat, spread the mix in a casserole dish and cover with parmesan cheese and broil uncovered until cheese browns.

Chicken with Winter Vegetables

Here’s a good one. I cooked it tonight and MDW, who never finishes her first serving, went back for seconds. I was 2 for 4 with the kids, but they have colds so I think I will do better next time. I think I may also try adding some different vegetables - just to mix things up. I served it alone this time, but I think it would go really well with my mashed redskin potatoes.

2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ c crème sherry
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cans of whole leaf spinach, drained
½ c melted butter
3lbs chicken breast
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Slice chicken across grain into ½ inch thick medallions.

Add first five ingredients in a large skillet and sauté until soft, adding water as needed. Add spinach to the mix and continue to cook until mixture is thickened and excess moisture is cooked off.

Pour melted butter into a 9x13 baking dish and layer in the chicken. Spread the vegetable mix over the chicken. Cover the top with the mozzarella.

Cook for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Turn oven up to broil and cook until cheese browns – 3 to 5 minutes.

Slice in dish and serve with a slotted spoon to allow liquid to remain in baking dish.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Beer Batter Pizza

2 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons honey
2 packet active dry yeast
8 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 can of beer

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Proof the yeast in a small mixing bowl by mixing with the water and honey.

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.

When the yeast is foamy, mix all ingredients into the flour bowl. When batter is thick turn out onto floured surface and kneed until the dough os smooth and elastic. return to floured bowl and allow it to rise for 45-60 minutes.

This dough will make two large or four medium pizzas.

Spaghetti sauce works great on pizza. I like to use provalone, motzarella, and parmesian cheese. Top as desired and cook 15 minutes until the cheese begins to brown.

Happy slicing!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Honey-Sherry Cream Taffy

Here is a fun one to do as a family - as long as your insurrance includes good dental coverage.

3 c Sugar
1 c Honey
1 c Whipping cream
1 c Creme Sherry
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Rum Flavoring

Cook all ingredients in a large pot over medium heat with a candy thermometer. Stir constantly to prevent burning on the bottom. Cook to 258 degrees (soft crack/hard ball). Remove from heat and color with food dye if desired.

Pour out onto a well buttered cookie sheet and allow to cool until you can stand to touch it with well buttered hands. Pull it into a rope and fold it in half. Twist and fold again. Repeat untill it is a creamy color and is cool. Cut or break into bitesize pieces and dust with powdered sugar to reduce sticking.

WARNING: Melted sugar causes HORRIBLE burns. Keep the kids away from the hot stuff.

Less dire warning: If you cook it too high you will get the raw materiel for lollipops and jolly ranchers, not taffy. If you don't cook it high enough you get caramel. It is impossible to pull either of these, but at least you can reheat the caramel and recover.

Happy pulling!

Honey-Rum Pulled Pork Roast

Thanks to Jen-jr for the inspiration to try this. It is by no means the same as her (delicious sounding) barbeque recipe, but at least it is in a crock pot. :) I will post an update tomorrow to let you know how it turns out.

5lb Pork Picnic roast
3/4 c Rum
1 c Honey
1 c Water
1 1/2 Tbsp Salt
2 Sweet Onions, diced
1 tsp Minced garlic
2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
3 Tbsp Malt vinegar

Cook all ingredients in a crock pot on low for 10 hours (overnight). Remove bone and shred meat with a fork. Cook another 4 hours on low. Serve on hamburger rolls.

We'll see.

UPDATE: Turned out GREAT! I added a half cup of brown sugar and a little more vinegar for the last 4 hours. Drained the shredded meat and served on buns with a drizzle of honey! It was a hit.

Happy shredding!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Roasted Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Wheeee! Something new! I tried something like this at lunch the other day and thought I would make my own version.

1 large butternut squash
2 large sweet potatoes
1 sweet onion
3 Tbsp butter
4 c chicken broth
½ c cream
1 Tbsp corn starch
ground nutmeg
ground cloves

Cut the squash lengthwise, remove seeds, and rub with olive oil.  Place cut side up on cookie sheet and bake at 400° for one hour.

Slice onions thinly and sauté with butter in skillet.  Add water as needed to prevent burning and continue to sauté until they caramelize.

Wash sweet potatoes and cook on high in microwave for 10 minutes or until soft.

Heat the broth over medium high heat.  Scoop the pulp from the squash and sweet potatoes and add to the broth.  Add the onions and bring to a low boil. Stirring constantly add cream. Scoop out 1c of liquid and mix the corn starch into it. Stir the mixture back into the soup. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir until most of the large chunks of squash and potato have disappeared and the soup has thickened. Remove from heat.

Use a blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Add nutmeg and ground cloves to taste. Serve hot.  This thick soup would be very good with hot crusty bread.

Happy squashing.