Friday, October 30, 2009

Comfort Food...

Joining Suzy from Kitchen Bouquet for another Flashback Friday!

I'm flashing back all the way to when I was a kid and my grandma made the best macaroni and cheese. She baked it and put little bits of red peppers in and we picked that out, but it had a bread crumb topping and wasn't too cheesy, just the way we liked it and it was so good. She used American cheese and I'm not sure what else. Then I went to college and found out about Kraft Mac and Cheese in the blue box for 17 cents a box because my roommate put us on a budget. Spent all the food money on clothes shopping. We ate a lot of mac and cheese that year, but we dressed really nicely!  but then again I like school food, hospital food and airplane food. Even the ravioli in the can, so I'm not so discriminating when it comes to comfort food. I never did get her mac and cheese down right, I still like Kraft in the box, and every once in a while I'll make mac and cheese from scratch. I love mac n cheese any which way! Reminds me of my grandma and that's a great flashback for me!

I've made Alton Brown's stovetop recipe. We like it! Even the time I overcooked it and the eggs sort of scrambled. I love mac and cheese any which way! When you make it the right way, it's creamy and rich and just really good comfort food!

Stovetop Mac-n-Cheese
Source: Alton Brown, Good Eats - Food Network
Printable Recipe

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Soup's on...

Finally we're getting cooler Autumn weather here in New York. It's actually a good time for soup! and this one is sure to warm your tummy!  You can make it as spicy or mild as you like! Nothing like craving something and having MOST of the ingredients on hand. It was a gorgeous, finally somewhat cold, Sunday afternoon. Perfect for soup. Perfect because we all manage to be home for dinner together on Sundays! Not so perfect because my style of cooking is to assume you know th erecipe, only to find the main ingredient was forgotten on the grocery list!

Oldest kid in the family, the one who drives, he came to the rescue, although under duress, a little begging and a bribe. There were football games on TV when I came to my realization I was missing the chicken! but I was already knee deep into soup prep and going nowhere! Not in my lovely sweats and beat up crocs I wear when it's a lazy cooking marathon Sunday! So off he goes, armed with cash, a shopping list with explicit instructions and my car keys!  and back he comes with everything on the list. Perfect. Almost.

Where I thought specifically said PLAIN Grilled Chicken Strips from Trader Joe's, in the refrigerator section by the fresh meats, somehow came home as the Grilled Teriyaki Chicken from Trader Joe's that I usually buy for salads! Also excellent but Creamy Teriyaki Chicken Tortilla Soup somehow didn't have the same ring to it. So back he went and since there was no Plain Grilled Chicken, he brought the Chipotle-Lime Grilled Chicken. Oldest kid, smart boy, took two cooking classes in High School, great sub, this was perfect! Added just the right amount of smoky heat! If you can't get Chipotle-Lime Grilled Chicken anywhere, then just add a little bit of ground Chipotle chilies or some Chipotle in Adobo. Not in the original recipe but a really delicious mistake! The corn CHIPS instead of the fresh corn tortilla's, also a great taste. and he made it home for the last quarter!

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Source: Marilyn (DanaIN) - Gardenweb Cooking Forum
Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion; chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 corn tortillas (regular or fried)
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes with chilies
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried  oregano
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 fresh lime
1 cup diced, seeded Roma tomatoes or 1 cup salsa
Sour cream for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Slice or break tortillas into small pieces and add to onions and garlic; sauté until they are soft. Add tomatoes, broth and spices and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; allow to cool for 5 minutes. Puree soup base in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth, return soup to pot. (I used an immersion blender)

Add chicken, corn and cream and return to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Reduce heat to medium-low and sprinkle in cheese and cilantro; stir to melt cheese. Add lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream.

NOTES : I didn't use turmeric or cilantro. and I used Chipotle-Lime Grilled pre-cooked chicken from Trader Joe's. Gave the soup a nice smoky heat! I used an immersion blender, pureed the soup really well, added the chicken and shredded that, too, with the immersion blender. Came out fantastic! Topped with chopped tomatoes, sour cream, crushed up tortilla chips and some shredded cheese.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mosaic Monday! When life gives you lemons...

When life gives you lemons... then make some Lemon Mousse! Martha Stewart came out with another cookbook recently. So far I've been pretty successful with her recipes. That's saying as lot. This one is from her new book, Martha Stewart's Dinners at Home. I really like this latest one, I've bookmarked a few to try. Starting with the Lemon Mousse!

Joining in with Mary at the Little Red House for Mosaic Monday! Check out the Little Red House to see all the talented folks who post their beautiful mosaics!

Lemon Mousse
Source: Martha Stewart's Dinners at Home
Printable Recipe

4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 cup heavy cream, well chilled

Using a wooden spoon, stir the eggs, sugar and lemon juice together in a saucepan over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes. Stir constantly and when it starts to thicken somewhat, raise the heat to medium and continue stirring until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about five minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a metal bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly on the surface, and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

Whisk the heavy cream in a metal bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture, cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. You can make this up to 2 days ahead.

 My notes: I needed about 4 lemons for this. I mixed two regular lemons with two Meyer Lemons. I topped the kid's mousse with granola, and our's with raspberries!

If you love lemons, then you might want to try Lemon Custard Cakes from Martha Stewart. They are also fantastic!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mosaic Monday - Ziti again!

Joining in with Mary at the Little Red House for Mosaic Monday! Check out the Little Red House to see all the talented folks who post their beautiful mosaics!

This mosaic has been Hockneyized from Big Huge Labs.

Ziti ready for the oven...

Hot and bubbling, ready to eat...

You can find the recipe for the Baked Ziti by clicking here!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flashback Friday - Chicken Marsala!

Time for another Flashback Friday with Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet! Visit Suzy and see all the other flashbacks that are linked up to Flashback Friday. Join in with your own flashback!

This time we're having Chicken Marsala! Recipe by Tyler Florence. Very easy, so good, and you can mess around with it and it still comes out amazing! I use no butter, all olive oil and half the time I forget to pick up the Prosciutto. Still comes out fantastic.

Chicken Marsala
recipe by Tyler Florence, Food Network
Printable Recipe

4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces Prosciutto, thinly sliced
8 ounces cremini or porcini mushrooms, stemmed and halved
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly.

Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. When the oil is nice and hot, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once – do this in batches if the pieces don't fit comfortably in the pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.

Lower the heat to medium and add the Prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, sauté for 1 minute to render out some of the fat. Now, add the mushrooms and sauté until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

My notes - I used boneless, skinless thin-sliced chicken cutlets. I didn't use butter or Prosciutto. I finely chopped up a little shallot and threw it in with the mushrooms. Add more Marsala and Chicken Stock to make extra sauce.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What a crock...

A crockpot, that is! French Dip Sandwiches in the crockpot.

This sandwich is a favorite with my family. Really hearty and really easy. If you don't have a crockpot, just use a heavy dutch oven and braise it in the oven at about 300 degrees F for more than a few hours! I still can't bring myself to trust the crockpot when I'm not home, so I usually make this on a really lazy Sunday when we'll be home. Yesterday was one of those days. The weather is finally cooling off. It's been Autumn on the calendar but the temps have been slow to catch up here on Long Island. This is a perfect recipe for a cool, lazy afternoon. Your house will smell so good! I served it with a salad and a side of braised Baby Yukon potatoes and there you have a great dinner that takes no time at all. Well actually it was 6 hours in the crockpot, but almost no effort.  No effort, my favorite kind of recipe.

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches
Source: Ginger St. Thomas (Gardenweb Recipe Exchange)
Printable Recipe

2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoons dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 lb boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed
8 French or sourdough rolls, split

Combine water, soy sauce, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and garlic in a slow cooker, stirring until well blended. Place roast in the crock pot and cover.

Cook on high for 5-6 hours or until beef is tender. Remove meat from broth and shred with a fork. Serve beef on rolls. Pour broth in small bowls for dipping.

It's really good topped with cheese, sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers or whatever you like. My new favorite is roasted red onions and Jarlsberg!

The potatoes...
I didn't have any fingerlings so I subbed a pound and a half of Baby Yukon Golds.  Used a little less water. These were great. and if you happen to leave them on the stove a little too long, you get a nice caramelized bottom layer that was really good. I also used a little less butter.

Braised Fingerling Potato Coins

Source: Gourmet, October 2008
recipe by Melissa Roberts
Printable Recipe

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, peeled if desired
2 cups water
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into bits
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

an adjustable-blade slicer

Cut a round of parchment paper to fit just inside a 12-inch heavy skillet and butter one side.

Slice potatoes 1/8 inch thick with slicer. Arrange in skillet. Add water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Dot top with butter. Cover potatoes with parchment, buttered side down, and briskly simmer until tender and most of liquid has evaporated, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mosaic Monday - Brownies

Joining in with Mary at the Little Red House for Mosaic Monday! Check out the Little Red House to see all the talented folks who post their beautiful mosaics!

So yesterday Miss Picky wanted to make some brownies. Never one to say no to chocolate or no to an afternoon of baking with my daughter, we went the box route. Ghirardelli Walnut Brownies. They are amazing. Chewy, Fudgy and dense.

Plenty of times I use a "from scratch" recipe that came from the Gardenweb Cooking Forum that is really fantastic, it's fudgy, rich and extremely decadent. But in a pinch, these are so good. Even Miss Picky who hates nuts in HER brownies loved them! I wasn't about to pick them out, even for her!

Miss Picky wanted to make round brownie bites, instead we ended up using a mini crumb cake pan and halfway through realized we'd need a second box or these would be some pretty flat brownies. We ended up with some HUGE brownies. Not a problem with a tall glass of ice cold milk.

Who could wait for the milk? I had to have a big bite of one. Someone has to be the taste tester! Can't serve them if they stink. They didn't. Not at all. Not one bit.

Didn't this time, but next time we'll try it with chocolate ganache on top! To top it with chocolate ganache, let the brownies cool completely. Microwave a 1/4 cup of heavy cream in 30 second bursts (high power) until hot. Mix in 1/2 cup chocolate chips, and stir until it's melted and smooth. Spread ganache over the cooled brownies and chill until set. Or if you can't wait, eat them warm!


If I was going to bake brownies from scratch, so far it would have to be these brownies, very decadent as the name suggests. Fudgy, chewy and dense. and really good straight from the freezer! Even when I over bake them, and that is usual, they are still so good. but I am always willing to try another recipe, who could turn down a good, chewy brownie?

Decadent Brownies
Source: Ann (Gardenweb)
Printable Recipe

Ann's original recipe added a shot of espresso. I omitted that. She also toasts the nuts. I didn't bother because I usually burn them :) I also tend to over bake but they are still excellent. I adapted the recipe a bit to fit my lack of focus when it comes to baking and following directions! I mix the vanilla in with the eggs and pour the chocolate mixture into that bowl.

1 cup butter
20 ounces of good bittersweet chocolate
1-1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 cup flour
vanilla to taste (I used about a teaspoon or so)
1 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F.

Line a 13 X 9 inch pan with foil or parchment paper and grease with butter.

Melt the butter and sugar together over medium heat until the butter and sugar have melted and the mixture is smooth, not gritty from the sugar. Add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Continuing stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Mix the eggs and vanilla together in a big bowl and then add the chocolate mixture and stir until very well combined.

Stir in the flour and salt and mix. Stir in the nuts if you're using them and pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes.

The brownies should be set in the middle. I bake them until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Don't over bake. Place in the freezer. When cold, remove and cut into squares, whatever size you like. Wrap each square in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Autumn - Time for Soup!

It's October. I still have the a/c on, but that's another story! All around blogville there's pages and pages of soup! It was a gorgeous day today, not exactly soup weather when you have hot flashes but why ruin it for the rest of the family. So I cranked up the a/c until we were chilled, and made a huge pot of Split Pea Soup the way my Grandma taught me. With HOT DOGS!

Split Pea Soup with Hot Dogs
Source: Grandma
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 -2 lbs of flanken (short ribs)
1 (1 lb) bag of dried split peas (more if you want it really thick!)
2 ribs of celery
1 bay leaf
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded carrots
Small onion, diced fine (or cut it in quarters and pick it out after!)
Water or chicken stock
Ditalini or any small pasta

Place flanken (short ribs) in a soup pot, add water to cover or chicken stock, about 12 cups. Bring to a boil and add the dried split peas. Chop one small onion fine, add to pot, add a small rib of celery, some shredded carrots, and a bay leaf.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for a long time at least 2 -3 hours until the peas are mush. Simmering longer is better. Remove celery and bay leaf and ham bone, cut up any shreds of meat that are in the soup or clinging to the bones and return to the soup. Add salt if needed and pepper to taste.

Slice up a few hot dogs (I use Hebrew National, good flavor!) and throw them in after about an hour or so of simmering. You can also use corned beef. If you use the corned beef, don't add the hot dogs! Throw in a couple handfuls of ditalini and simmer until the pasta is soft.

To serve remove the flanken from the pot, serve that separate from the soup. You can also cut it in small pieces and return the meat to the pot.

By the next day, if the soup is too thick, add water or stock. Freezes really well. You can make it vegetarian using vegetable stock, no meat, and you can also omit the flanken and the hot dogs and throw in a ham bone. My grandma never used ham. She never made it vegetarian either. Basic recipe you can put in whatever you like, some people use potatoes instead of the pasta. If you don't like it really thick use less split peas.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mosaic Monday - APPLES!

Joining in with Mary at the Little Red House for another Mosaic Monday! Check out the Little Red House to all the talented folks who post their beautiful mosaics!

This week it's beginning to look like fall, at least somewhere! We're starting here on Long Island, not soon enough for me. I love the cool weather! Can't wait need a jacket!

Nothing says Autumn to me more than apples. I'm a little, maybe a lot, baking challenged but baking apples has never been a problem. You can't screw it up too much! One time I used chocolate covered toffee bits by mistake. A little gross, but not inedible. Overcooking? Call it dehydrated apples! I'm always on the lookout for baked apple recipe. My grandma made them using No-Cal Black Cherry soda, sprinkled with cinnamon, simple and really good.

This one is a really great Baked Apple recipe. So good. It's saucy so I didn't bother making the Caramel Sauce, but it would have been over the top delicious. I also didn't have any cream in the house. Next time for sure!

Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce
recipe by Emily Luchetti - Four-Star Desserts
Source: Saveur Magazine October 2009
Serves: 6
Printable Recipe

1⁄4 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
1⁄4 cup maple syrup (I used Grade B)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 firm Fuji apples, stemmed and cored
Ice cream, for serving

1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
1⁄2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons dark rum

Make the baked apples: Heat oven to 325°. Combine sugar, syrup, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Cut 1⁄4" from bottom of apples so that they sit flat; transfer apples to a 9" x 13" baking pan. Fill hollow cores with reserved sugar–syrup mixture. Cover apples with foil; bake until tender, about 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce: Heat sugar and 1⁄2 cup water in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, until amber colored and a candy thermometer inserted into syrup reads 330˚, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat; let cool slightly. Add cream (caramel will bubble up slightly). Stir in raisins and rum; set aside. Serve apples with caramel sauce and ice cream.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flashback Friday - Pom Salad

Joining Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet for another Flashback Friday!

Flashing back to a really great salad I had made a while back, one of the last posts of my original blog, There's No Thyme to Cook. I deleted that blog because of one little misclick. Is that a word? It is now. and it's out there in Blog Limboland, can't get it back, can't use the name, so now There's Always Thyme to Cook and this salad is so worth repeating!

POM Chopstick Salad with Pomegranate-Black Sesame Vinaigrette
Source: Conversations with a Cupcake
Serves 2
Printable Recipe

For the Salad:
3 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup oranges, peeled & diced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Optional: 1/2 cup grilled chicken, diced

Toss all ingredients together in a salad bowl. Coat with Vinaigrette.

For the Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup Pomegranate Juice
1/2 clove fresh garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds
salt & pepper to taste.

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour over Salad.

I added in some thinly slice red bell peppers, shredded carrots and shredded red cabbage.
Back to top