Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Perfect Pairing

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There are not many nights during the summer when my hubby and I can just grill out and enjoy the weather.  Our summers always seem to fill up quick with Cubs games, road trips, and weddings.  That is why tonight with how gorgeous it is outside we decided to take advantage of the weather.

Now we are the first to admit we love our wine.  We took our honeymoon to Napa and Sonoma Valley and cannot wait to return.  My hubby once said to me a great quote, ” You should not need a special occasion to open a bottle of great wine, opening it IS the occasion”.  And i could not agree more, this is why of course we needed a good bottle of wine to go with our dinner tonight.  So I sent the hubby downstairs to pick from our “special” wines, since honestly he is so much better at picking then me.  He came up with with a bottle that I was so excited to see.  I could not believe I forgot we still had a bottle of Carlisle 2007 Russian River Valley Zinfandel.  Now I know what most of you are thinking “Ew gross a Zinfandel”, but this is not the kind your grandmother drinks.  This is a bold, mature red that can stand out to the main star of dinner, a perfectly grilled filet mignon.

So the hubby decided that he wanted to grill us filet mignon after being inspired by Masterchef last night.  Yes I know, I know, that may have just embarassed him, but honestly living in this house it is either food shows or sports most nights.  The recipe is his own melding of several different methods, which is just incredible.

Mr. B’s Fantastic Filet

2 10 ounce filet mignon

3 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons coarse grey salt

3 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Preheat grill or start charcoal chimney.  Combine all ingredients except the filet and stir well.  Rub each filet with the mixture and ensure even coated.  Leave the steaks at room temperature for 30 minutes with to let the rub distribute.  Once the grill is ready, sear each side over direct heat for 3-4 minutes.***  Then move to indirect heat for 5 more minutes.  Let steak rest for 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute and enjoy!!

 

***The times are for medium rare-medium steaks.  Cook more or less for desired doneness.

 

Mint Chocolate Chip Oreo Blizzard Ice Cream

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So the ice cream maker I have gotten has made my mind swirl with so many different flavors.  This is exactly what happen with this ice cream flavor.  I had some extra chocolate chips in the fridge from making an earlier ice cream recipe, love mint, and was craving the blizzard oreos we had purchased a day earlier at target.  To say the least, this was an amazing combination!  It was so good, this is definitely going in the rotation of ice creams this summer.  If you love mint and chocolate this will definitely be your new go to recipe. Enjoy!

 

Mint Chocolate Chip Oreo Blizzard Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 package of Oreo (blizzard flavor is what I used) crushed
  • 1/2 cup  semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and peppermint extract until the sugar has dissolved. Color to your liking with the green food coloring.
  2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Fold in the chocolate chips and crushed Oreos. Spoon into the appropriate freezer containers and let set for at least 4 hours.

 

Mexican Pizza

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I remember when I wanted something sinful as a child my mom would take me to Taco Bell and get me a mexican pizza and an order of cinnamon twists.  The pizzas were crunchy and cheesy, but had a delicious creamy bean layer.  Boy how my tastes have changed.  Now do not get me wrong, I would still love to have one of those mexican pizzas, but part of me is afraid every good memory I have of them would be wiped out.  Well to say the least I was craving a taco bell run, but instead I decided to not make a run for the border.  These were perfect for my hubby and I, since we could each make our own variations.  Both of us started with the same base of meat and beans, but the second topping was a free for all as you can tell by the picture.  My hubby loves his olives and I love my tomatoes, which made it so great for us to each have our own.  So everyone go crazy with the toppings and make this pizza your own memory, just like I did.

 

Mexican Pizza

adapted from For the Love of Cooking

Ground Beef Mixture:
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb of lean ground beef
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • grey salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 4 oz can of diced fire roasted green chiles
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and break the meat into crumbles. Add the onion as well as the seasonings then cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the green chiles then stir until well combined. Set aside.
Other Ingredients:
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Black Refried Beans
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salsa
  • Tomato, diced
  • Avocado, diced
  • Green onions, diced
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Sour Cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat. Layer a flour tortilla with refried beans then place on baking sheet; add a bit of the beef mixture then top with another tortilla.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes; remove from oven and spoon a bit of salsa on top of the top tortilla then top with cheese. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and top with the toppings of your choice from the list above. Serve with more salsa and sour cream. Enjoy.

 

Italian Beef Sandwiches

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I am one who absolutely loves crusty bread for a sandwich, and let me tell you this one was a winner.  Now do not get me wrong I have been making this recipe for a few years now and love it, but recently have made several changes to it.  I may be biased, but it is amazing now!  Believe me you cannot go wrong with this recipe.  Especially if you like reinventing leftovers this recipe is for you.  There are so many things to do with the leftover meat such as quesadillas, loaded baked potatoes, or even the flautas that I posted earlier with leftover pork instead.

 

Italian Beef Sandwiches

3 lb roast (I used chuck roast since it was on sale)

1 jar of whole peperoncinis

8 oz fresh mushrooms sliced

2 cups low sodium beef broth

3 Tbs dried minced onion

1 Tbs garlic powder

6 slices provolone cheese

1 french baguette loaf

 

Place ingredients through garlic powder in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  When done cooking place in refrigerator overnight so that all the fat can separate.  When ready to eat, skim all the fat off the top and shred the meat.  Place meat back in slow cooker and cook on low for 2 hours.  Cut french baguette into the sandwich size desired and place provolone cheese on each.  Place under broiler on high for 2-3 minutes until browned and bubbly.  Put the meat on each sandwich and place some of the au jus in a cup for dipping.  Freeze all leftovers after completely cooking to enjoy at a later date.

 

 

Calzone for Two

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After a fun weekend of traveling to Chicago for a Cubs game, I was trying to think of something simple to make for dinner.  I had a craving for pizza, but did not want take out or frozen, but also did not feel like making homemade dough.  Then it hit me, a calzone would be great!  I remember being a little girl, shopping with my mother and begging her to stop at Sbarro.  I absolutely loved their spinach calzone and a garlic knot.  What if i could combine the calzone and garlic knot?   That is exactly what I set out to do.  My hubby’s favorite toppings are pepperoni and sausage so I decided to use that for a filling.  I used a refrigerated pizza dough and spread it out to a really thin layer.  It worked wonderful to stuff with the fillings I chose.  The outcome was a delicious, cheesy, and comforting dinner.

 

Calzone for Two

1/2 lb of Italian Sausage

1/2 package of turkey pepperoni

8 oz can of mushrooms

1 1/2 cups of mozzarella blend cheese

3 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

1 tube refrigerated pizza dough

2 Tbs cornmeal

1 jar tomato sauce with basil

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Brown the sausage and drain.  Roll out the dough very thin.  Spray non stick cooking spray on a cooking sheet and dust with cornmeal.  Place the dough on the baking sheet.  Layer the cheese, sausage, cheese, and pepperoni until all is used up.  Place 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the filling.  Fold the dough over on itself.  Crimp the edges closed with a fork.  Spray the top with non stick cooking spray and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.  Bake for 14-16 minutes.  Split the remaining tomato sauce between two ramekins and warm in the microwave for 1 minute.  Cut and enjoy!!

 

Enchiladas

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So please excuse the picture it is messy, but truth be told that is what happens when you have a whole lot of cheesy goodness on your hands.  Enchiladas are one of our favorite Mexican dishes when made properly.  For me there are two aspects of an enchilada which can make or break them, the sauce and the filling.  I am definitely a veggie lover, but there is something about a spicy meat filling.  The sauce needs to have spicy flavor with a sweet undertone.  I have found the perfect sauce in my opinion for this, Frontera Grill’s enchilada sauce.  It is the perfect sauce for any type of meat or veggie filling.  I have tried it with beef, chicken, shrimp, and black beans.  All were phenomenal!

Beef Enchiladas

1 jar of Frontera enchilada sauce (or your favorite sauce)

6 flour tortillas

3/4 lb lean ground beef

1/4 cup corn kernels

1/2 cup black beans

1/2 cup crumbled queso fesco

1 cup shredded colby jack cheese

1 small can of olives

2 roma tomatoes diced

1/8 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Brown beef in skillet over medium heat and drain.  Mix 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce, corn, black beans, beef and crumbled queso together.  Brush the tortillas on both sides with the olive oil and bake in oven for 3 minutes.  Turn oven up to 400 degrees.  Put 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.  Fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup of the mixture and place seam side down in the pan.  Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce, colby jack, diced tomatoes, and olives.  Place foil over the pan and bake in a preheat oven for 20 minutes.  Take foil off and continue to bake 8 minutes.  Top with salsa, guacamole, lettuce, or any of your favorite toppings.

 

Stuffed Baby Bellas

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I am from “The Region” in Indiana, and if you know anything about us region rats we have certain places that we all relate to a type of food.  If you are looking for stuffed mushroom caps, chances are you are going to go to Tiebel’s.  Now it is true I am partial to the coffee shop with their relish tray, mushroom caps, and perch.  I have no idea where to get the type of pan they use to cook the mushroom caps, but I hope to some day find one.  I tried to recreate the texture, flavor, and smell of the mushroom caps, and I think I achieved it.  I used a muffin tin to simulate the type of pan which is used, since each mushroom is cooked in a separate chamber.  The cheese blend and meat mixture were almost spot on.  The hubby enjoyed them  very much.  These are definitely going to be an appetizer in our house more regularly.

 

Stuffed Baby Bella Caps

1 package of baby bella caps

1/4 pound of lean ground sirloin

1/8 cup of breadcrumbs (I used homemade)

1/2 Tbs worchestershire sauce

1 Tbs of minced garlic

2 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

2 dashes of hot sauce

1/4 tsp of grey or sea salt

pinch of black pepper

1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brown meat over medium heat in a small skillet.  While browning the meat, use the spatula to break the meat into small crumbles.  Do not drain the meat.  Add the remaining ingredients up to the colby jack cheese to pan and continue cooking for 2 minutes.  remove from the heat.  Clean the mushroom with a tea towel and take the stems out carefully.  Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray.  Place a cap in each well.  Take a heaping teaspoon of the mixture and put in each of the caps.  Make sure to press down the mixture, so that it is flush with the top of the cap.  Sprinkle the cheese over each mushroom cap.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Take the mushroom out of each well and place on platter.  Enjoy!!

 

Buffalo Wings

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Last year for Christmas my Baba (grandmother) bought us one of the coolest deep fryers ever.  Yes it is true, I refer to appliances, gadgets, and food items as “cool”.  As soon as we saw what she had bought us I knew what my first endeavor had to be, chicken wings.  But, not just any chicken wings, instead ones that mimic the breading as well as the sauce for Hooters.  I am a huge fan of their buffalo shrimp and my hubby’s favorite are the drumettes.  I have tried many iterations and finally have perfected the at home chicken wing.  It is all in the dredge and frying time.  Believe me it is an exact science, and if you follow the recipe you will have foolproof crispy wings every time.   They have just the right amount of spice and sweet that will leave you wanting to make this recipe over and over.

Buffalo Wings

2 lbs of chicken drummettes

3 cups all purpose flour

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp smoke paprika

1/2 tsp grey or sea salt

pinch of black pepper

Peanut oil for frying

 

Mix flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Place drummettes in bowl and work around so each is dredged with the flour mixture.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for 90 minutes (no more, no less).  Take drummettes out of the refrigerator and heat the oil in either a dutch oven or deep fryer to 350 degrees.  Once oil is up to temperature, depending on the size of the fryer vessel you may or may not want to work in batches.  Each batch should fry for exactly 13 minutes.  Then either lift the fryer basket or retrieve the wings with a bamboo spider to drain excess oil.  Toss in buffalo wing sauce (recipe below) and enjoy crispy delicious wings!

Buffalo Wing Sauce

2 Tbs of minced garlic

1 cup of buffalo wing hot sauce (my favorite is Frank’s buffalo wing hot sauce)

1/2 stick margarine

1/8-1/4 of splenda depending on heat preference

1 tsp worchestershire sauce

pinch of grey or sea salt

pinch of black pepper

 

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer sauce for 5 minutes, then reduce to low.  Toss wings in sauce.


 

 

Thin Mint Mini Cheesecakes

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I think everyone remembers as a child the mini cheesecakes with fruit on top of them.  But, then we grow up and realize the glob of fruit on top of the cheesecakes are pie filling.   I was so deflated when I realized it was not real fruit.  Do not get me wrong though, I am sure plenty of people put real fruit on top that was just not my experience.  Then one day while over at my in-laws, my mother-in-law made Oreo mini cheesecakes and told me there were so many variations on the recipe.  As soon as she said thin mints my ears perked up.  I mean who was not a girl scout and had to sell those delicious cookies.  It not being girl scout cookie season and all, I pondered how I was going to make these.  Then I remembered a friend of mine told me that Keebler makes cookies similar to thin mints and samoas.  I went and found them and they were almost identical just smaller.  These cookies worked great as the base for the cheesecakes.  I also put a  pan filled with water on the bottom shelf of the oven to help prevent the cheesecake from cracking.  The recipe is a melding of several recipes, so make it your own as well!

Thin Mint Mini Cheesecakes

12 Thin Mint cookies or other store brand

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (one small container)

16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips melted

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

1/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 275 degrees and place a pan with water in the lowest rack of the oven. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment beat the cream cheese, yogurt, and melted chocolate on 3-4 speed for 2 minutes.  Add sugar and the pinch of salt, mixing for 1 more minute.  Add peppermint extract, beating for 30 seconds.  Put one egg in at a time, until both are incorporated.  Use an ice cream scoop and divide evenly between the 12 liners.  There will be a small amount left in the bowl.  Smooth the op of each cheesecake before putting in the oven.  Bake in oven for 25 minutes, rotating half way through.  Chill in refrigerator overnight. Enjoy!

 

Homemade Hamburger Buns

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I am always that person running frantically through the bakery section wondering should I get ciabatta, kaiser, or onion rolls for grilling out tonight.  I always end up getting 2 different kinds and then try to figure out what to do with the ones I do not use.  Believe me there are only so many breadcrumbs one person needs!  Then when I was looking through several blogs last weekend I noticed a common theme, homemade hamburger buns.  I thought how perfect! I can make my own buns and not worry about looking like a crazy woman running through the bakery section anymore.  Let me tell you, I was so surprised when I made these.  I could not believe the wonderful consistency and crust on each of the buns.  I also loved baking them on my Silpat, which made them easy to remove and cool.  Last night we really wanted pork burgers and I thought what a perfect time to try out my homemade buns.  They were truly amazing toasted on the grill.  My hubby and I ate all of the bun which we rarely do, since most are so dense.  My next endeavor will be hot dog buns, since these were so delicious!

In other exciting news, my hubby started making me a light box for the blog last night:)  It is definitely a work in progress as we decide the best lighting and also what the best backgrounds.  But, I am so excited that he made it for me and that he is supporting me so much in my blogging.  Look for the pictures to begin evolving since we both taking an active role in the photographing.

 

Homemade Hamburger Buns

from  Annie’s Eats

3 tbsp. warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. instant yeast
2½ tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2½ tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

For topping:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
Sesame seeds

Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated.  Mix in the butter.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes.  The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts.  Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart.  Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.

Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.