Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time to Break Out the Slow Cooker

On the first chilly day we had I was ready to break out my slow cooker.  I started my fall cooking off with Stuffed Green Peppers.  They were really good, but depending on taste, I would cut back on some of the ketchup used in the mixture and the topping.  They were so good with a side of garlic mashed potatoes!  Enjoy!
6 green bell peppers
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup ketchup
1 cup cornflakes
1 tbs chili powder

2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs mustard powder
1 tbs red wine vinegar

Prepare Peppers: cut off tops, remove seeds, and discard.  Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Add peppers and cook about 5 minutes.  Remove from pot and set aside.

Combine ground beef, onion, eggs, ketchup, cornflakes, and chili powder in a large bowl.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Spoon meat mixture into peppers and place upright in a 5 qt or larger slow cooker.

Prepare Sauce: combine ketchup, tomato paste, brown sugar, mustard powder, and vinegar in a small bowl.  Pour over peppers.

Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours, or until beef if cooked through.

Can't Take Credit

Whenever my boyfriend, Skirell, offers to make dinner I generally get kicked out of the kitchen.  I think I may have a tendency to try to take over things...I am working on it.  This time I got to make dessert!  He handed me the recipe and the ingredients for me to make, while he took care of dinner.  We had Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops, Goody Girl Championship Potatoes, Apple Sauce (I need it anytime I eat pork), and Apple Crisp for dessert.  Everything turned out amazing, especially the potatoes!  Enjoy!
Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops, Goody Girl Championship Potatoes, and Apple Sauce

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick) center cut pork loin chops ( about 10-12 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tbs olive oil
Lemon wedges for serving

Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Goody Girl Championship Potatoes
1 package dry form crab boil
3 lbs red potatoes
1 lb thick cut bacon, diced
1 cup diced red onion
1 tbs minced garlic
1/4 lb butter, at room temperature
1/4 lb finely shredded cheddar
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup sour cream

Fill a 6-quart pot 2/3 full of water; add the crab boil and mix until blended. Cut the potatoes in half and slice into 3/8-inch thick pieces. (This can be done ahead of time; cover the potatoes with ice water until ready to cook.) Add the potatoes to the pot. Bring water to a boil and cook the potatoes until fork-tender.
While the potatoes are cooking: in a medium saute pan on medium heat, cook bacon until crispy; remove and drain on a paper towel. Add red onion to bacon grease; cook until caramelized. Just before onions are done, add garlic and cook until lightly brown.
In a bowl, place butter, 1/2 the cheese, 1/2 the bacon bits, 1/2 the green onions, the cooked red onions and garlic, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, and sour cream; mix together thoroughly.  Strain potatoes and add to bowl; let stand for a few minutes or until cheese starts to melt . Fold ingredients together, trying not to break up the potatoes excessively. Top with remaining cheese, bacon, and green onions.
Check seasonings and adjust to taste.

Apple Crisp

5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped small
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tbs all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs lemon juice

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs chilled butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  For the filling: mix all ingredients together.  Place in 7-8 ounce ramekins(I just used a casserole dish).  For the topping: mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  Blend the butter into the mixture until it forms pea size lumps.  Stir in pecans and sprinkle over filling.  Bake crisps for 35-40 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Polish Spaghetti, or Roman Spaghetti?

  Ever since us kids were little, our first request when visiting my grandparents in Detroit was to have Polish spaghetti.  For years it has been our favorite, and it still is, but we were recently told there is no such thing as Polish spaghetti.  Apparently, someone (or one of us kids) started calling it that and it just kind of stuck.  I am pretty sure all of my cousins did the same thing, feel free to correct me if you guys didn't.  Polish spaghetti, to us, was pretty much just a tomato sauce with tomatoes my grandma canned herself from her garden.  It was simple and we all loved it, but maybe it was more of the feeling of being at grandma and grandpa's that made special. 
    I have a new cookbook called The Kitchen Bible, and it is the best.  There are so many pictures, which are a necessity for me when it comes to cook books.  If you are looking for a new cookbook with things you haven't tried, but still things that are your favorites, this is a good one to try.  Tonight I tried a new recipe from it called 'Spaghetti- Roman Style'.  It was a spiced up version of Polish spaghetti and something I will definitely make again.  It is quick and has a little kick to it, depending on how much crushed red pepper you use.  Enjoy your Roman (Polish) spaghetti!
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
6 oz pancetta, cut into thin strips
3/4 cup dry wine (I used Chardonnay)
one 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
salt and crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring for 3 minutes, or until softened.  Add the pancetta and continue cooking, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the pancetta is lightly browned.

Add the wine and cook about 5 minutes, or until it evaporates by half.  Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, reduce the heat to low, and simmer briskly for 15 minutes, or until thickened.  Season with salt and red pepper flakes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Stir in the spaghetti, and cook according to the package instructions, or until al dente.  Drain well.  Add to the sauce and stir well.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.  Serve hot, with additional cheese passed on the side.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bacon Makes Everything Better

I bought a Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine a year ago because of the picture of the mac and cheese on the cover.  It may have taken me a year, but I finally made it.  It was so good and easy!  Perfect fall weather food!  Enjoy!

Emeril's Three Cheese Baked Macaroni
Coarse Salt
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
3 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
3 large eggs
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar (6 oz)
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (2 oz)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (1 oz)

1.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni 6 minutes (it will be undercooked).  Drain.  Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium and add bacon.  Cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.  With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon mixture to a medium bowl.  Add macaroni and stir to combine.  

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and evaporated milk.  Add 1/2 tsp salt, cayenne nutmeg, and cheeses; mix well.  Add macaroni mixture and stir well to combine.  Transfer to a 8" or 9" square baking dish or 2 quart gratin dish.  With a spoon, gently spread mixture to form an even layer.  Bake just until sauce is bubbling at edges, 12 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 4-6.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's About Time!

I have not blogged in so long!  This summer has been a crazy one with the theatre, taking Michael to college at University of Michigan, and enjoying our time together.  We had a bbq the week before Michael left, and I tried out two new salads and my favorite taco dip.  Enjoy!

Watermelon Feta Salad
Whisk one part white wine vinegar with three parts olive oil, and salt & pepper.  Toss with baby arugula, red onion slices, watermelon cubes, crumbled feta, nicoise (or kalamata) olives, and fresh oregano.  It is such a refreshing salad!

Family Pasta Salad
1 package (16 oz) uncooked elbow pasta
1 package (8 oz) mild cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 small carrot grated
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 container (8 oz) plain fat-free yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to package.  Place frozen peas in a small colander and rinse under cold water to thaw; drain.  Place pasta in a large bowl, add cheese cubes, peas, celery, onion, and carrot.  Mix gently.  Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, salt & pepper.  Stir into pasta mixture.  Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.  *I also added diced green peppers!

Taco Dip

This is pretty much my staple item to bring to any gathering.  By the end of any party, the plate is clean. 

1 packages cream cheese (softened)
1 jar Pace Picante Salsa Medium
1 lg green pepper
1 tomato
1 bag Mexican shredded cheese

 Mix cream cheese and salsa until mixture is light and fluffy.  Spread mixture on platter and cover with diced green pepper, diced tomato, and shredded cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips or vegetables.

I will be much better about posting my fall recipes!  It is my favorite season and I have some new cookbooks!