Thursday, September 30, 2010

Crescent-Wrapped Stuffed Peppers

Ok, this isn't really a recipe, because it kind of depends on how many peppers you have. But here's a description about what to do:

Ground meat (beef, sausage, turkey, soy crumbles) - about 1 lb.
butter - about 2 Tbsp
all-purpose flour - about 2 Tbsp
milk - about 2 cups
dash of cayenne
cheddar cheese - about a cup, shredded
diced tomatoes, drained of liquid, optional
peppers - banana, sweet Aruba, bell, etc. Amount depends on size. I used 3 med-sized sweet Arubas
Crescent roll dough - 1 to 2 cans, depending on how many peppers you want to make

Brown the meat. Drain.

Make a cheese sauce - melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in all-purpose flour. Stir for a few minutes to cook out the flour taste. Add about 2 cups of milk. Whisk until thickened. Add a dash of cayenne pepper and shredded cheese; stir until well combined. You could add some diced, drained tomatoes here, too. Stir cheese sauce into meat.

Cut the tops off the peppers. Scoop out the seeds and membranes. Stuff the peppers with the meat/cheese sauce.

Wrap each pepper in unrolled crescent dough. Depending on the size of the pepper you may need a couple of crescent rolls for each pepper. I used 3 Aruba sweet peppers and 6 large crescent rolls.

Put wrapped peppers in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Cook according to the cooking instructions for the crescent rolls.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

green peppers stuffed with stuff

I was sort of pleased with myself when I managed to essentially make this entire dinner out of leftovers, except for the peppers themselves. The original recipe called for brown rice, and I substituted leftover orzo, and I had some leftover chicken sausage from making pizza, so yes. This was good and hearty.

Stuffed Green Peppers with Brown Rice, Italian Sausage, and Parmesan
(Makes 4 large stuffed green peppers, recipe created by Kalyn when her market had a great sale on peppers!)

1 C long-grain brown rice [I used about a cup and a half of leftover orzo; this would also work with quinoa or any other small-ish grain, I think]
4 large green bell peppers, bottom trimmed, cap end cut off and diced, and seeds removed
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
2 links turkey Sweet Italian Sausage (or other sausage of your choice. Use diced mushrooms instead of sausage for vegetarian version.) [the mushroom thing is a good idea, but the sausage really did taste kind of perfect in here]
1/2 tsp. ground fennel [I omitted]
1/2 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese [I omitted this too]

Cook rice according to package directions, or using a rice cooker. (Rice can be cooked ahead and used in this recipe later.)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Trim bottom of bell peppers so they have a flat surface to stand on. Cut off a fairly generous amount of the stem end of peppers, then remove seeds. Place hollowed-out peppers in a baking dish that you've sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil. (A dish that's close in size to the peppers will work best.)

Remove stem part from the pepper caps and trim off any white membrane, then dice pepper caps and the onion into fairly small dice. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet, then saute diced pepper and onion for 3-4 minutes, until they are starting to soften but aren't browned. Remove pepper-onion mixture to a bowl, add 1 tsp. more olive oil, then squeeze sausage out of the casing and cook until it's lightly browned, breaking apart with the back of the turner.

Put the onion-pepper mixture back into the pan with the sausage, add the dried spices, and saute 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors. Then add cooked rice and Parmesan cheese, season the mixture with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and cook just long enough to warm, about 1-2 minutes.

Stuff the filling mixture into the hollowed-out peppers, using a spoon to press the mixture down so it's tightly packed into the pepper shell. (A few years ago I stopped pre-cooking the peppers before stuffing, and now I prefer peppers that are stuffed raw.) If you have any extra filling, you can put it in a small ramekin and bake along with the peppers. Bake peppers for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and put a generous pinch of grated mozzarella on top of each pepper. Put peppers back into the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.

You can freeze leftover peppers for a month or two, although the frozen peppers will be a little softer in texture (but still very tasty.) I cut them in half top-to-bottom before freezing and freeze two halves in a small baking dish with a snap-on lid.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

farmgirl susan's pizza sauce

Since someone whose name rhymes with Shnulissa got us a pizza stone and a pizza peel as wedding presents, I have been obsessed with making pizza. We've done it three times in a week and a half, and note that there are no leftovers.

(Also, I finally discovered the secret of it not sticking to the peel before the transfer: so much cornmeal. Like, half an inch of cornmeal under the entire thing. It's a little wasteful and uses more cornmeal than I knew existed in this world, but it totally works and now I can gently slide the perfectly arranged pizza from the peel to the stone like I'm in a pizza movie.)

Anyway, here is a delicious recipe for tomato sauce, from Farmgirl Fare. She also has recipes for dough and a bunch of delicious-sounding topping combinations here.

But now, sauce:

Some good olive oil

- Fresh garlic, coarsely chopped with some nice salt and allowed to sit 10 minutes if possible (so the beneficial compounds have time to mix with the air and become more "available") [we somehow didn't have any and I used from the jar]

- Plenty of vine-ripened, garden fresh tomatoes (preferably heirloom & organically grown), cut into chunks (I use a serrated knife) ["plenty" to me became 6, of varying sad oldness]

- Fresh basil (at least twice as much as you think seems like the right amount--I measure fresh basil by the handful)

- Fresh oregano (more than you're about to put in) [I used the delicious new dried stuff from Kelly and it was great]

Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan, then add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not allow the garlic to brown. Add the tomatoes, basil, and oregano and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid cooks out. Cooking time will depend on the juiciness of the tomatoes. [this was less time than I thought]

When there is still some liquid left in the pan, carefully puree the sauce using a blender or immersion hand blender. Bring it back to a boil, and continue simmering until desired consistency. Let cool, then spread on pizza dough. (If you are like me and never remember to make the sauce ahead of time, you can transfer it into a heat proof bowl and stick it in the freezer for a while. Just don't spill it because it will immediate freeze to whatever it falls on and is practically impossible to clean up.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Flourless Chcolate Cake II

From: Allrecipes

Ok, here's the second of my two flourless chocolate desserts. This was super dense, dark, rich.... definitely slice tiny slices and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to cut the richness of the chocolate.

1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white sugar
18 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
6 eggs

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease one 9 or 10 inch round cake pan and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside.

3. Either in the top half of a double boiler or in a microwave oven melt the bittersweet chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the bowl of an electric mixer.

4. Cut the butter into pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, 1 piece at a time. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Have a pan larger than the cake pan ready, put the cake pan in the larger pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cake pan.

6. Bake cake in the water bath at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 45 minutes. The center will still look wet. Chill cake overnight in the pan. To unmold, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10 seconds and invert onto a serving plate.

Carnitas, slow cooker style

When I was pregnant with Katie and craving burritos every other day, we ate a lot of Chipotle for dinner. Gaby decided she did not want a kids' quesadilla, thank you very much, and would eat the same thing every time we went -- carnitas burrito, hold the beans, lettuce, and cheese. Every single time.
We don't eat Chipotle much these days, mostly because I don't crave burritos every other day. But when we do, she still gets the same thing. Every time.
A while back I came across a recipe for carnitas you could make in your slow cooker. I figured I'd give it a shot, and see if mine was as good as Chipotle's in the eyes of my very discerning 7 year old. Well, she ate two tacos that night, and patted her belly when she was done and said "that is really good meat, Mom." So I guess it passes the inspection.

The original recipe is here, but I didn't measure much of anything. Here's how I did it.

Put one 1 fresh ham (probably about 9 pounds) in slow cooker. Season with cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, cinnamon and garlic powder.
Throw a bunch of chipotle peppers into the crockpot. I used the kind in the can, and probably added 6 or so. It's a big roast. You could add more if you want spicy, I could hardly tell I'd used them in the final product.
On top of that, pour in one can of diced tomatoes (no salt added) and one cup of orange juice.
Cover and cook until the meat falls off the bone. For us that was about 9 hours.
Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, skim the gross amount of fat off the top. It'll be solidified, so it'll be easy. Then, shred all the pork. Pour some of the liquid from the crockpot (in my case, this has jelled because of the gelatin in the bones, so I just scooped it) on top of the meat. Heat in the microwave.

Make your tacos or burritos any way you like them. In Gaby's case, it's carintas, lettuce, cheese and olives.

This made enough meat for us to have dinner last night, and put away three more portions (in the freezer) for dinners later on.

Egg salad with lemon and capers

I think I've mentioned before that Ernie loves capers. I think he'd eat them right out of the jar if he thought about it -- and now that I've written this, he probably will.
I ran across a recipe the other day for egg salad with capers, and knew he'd love it for lunch. He did.
Again, this is my adaptation. And I didn't really measure anything, because that would involve getting measuring spoons out and sometimes I'm very, very lazy. You can find the original recipe here.

6 or 8 hardboiled eggs (we used 8, because that's what I had)
lemon juice
mayo (plain yogurt would work here, too)
salt
pepper
capers


Dice the hardboiled eggs, however you like them for egg salad. I like to smash the yolks a little bit. Put in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice and mayo. I used about 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and 3 Tbsp. mayo. Add mayo mixture to the eggs. Add about 2-3 Tbsp. capers (depending on how much you like them) and mix all together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chocolate Truffles

The first of two birthday desserts that I'm bringing into work tomorrow. Both of these desserts are gluten-free as well, as one of our new interns is gluten-intolerant and I wanted her to be able to join in the festivities. Here is the first recipe, from Simply Recipes


I rolled some in cocoa powder, some in toasted coconut, and some in chopped toffee bits. You could also roll them in chopped toasted nuts.


8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (high quality, 62% cacao or higher), well chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Method

1 In a small, heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer.

2 Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla, and allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth.

3 Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly (as it will melt from the heat of your hands) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.**

4 Roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts and serve, or place back in the refrigerator until needed.

** Note: I chilled my ganache in the fridge overnight, and it was too hard to roll into balls the next day. I had to leave it out to soften at room temp for about an hour before I could roll out balls. I also rolled the balls in the toppings right away and THEN put them back in the fridge to chill overnight again.

Makes 30-40 chocolate truffles.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

herb-crusted chicken with feta sauce

I stealthily copied this out of a cooking magazine in a bookstore, because who has two thumbs and is still trying to use up the ridiculous amount of leftover feta and refuses to pay $11.99 for one magazine? This girl!

The chicken is actually sort of an afterthought -- the sauce is the star of the show. We also put the sauce on orzo with lemon juice and chopped basil and green beans that I'd sauteed in the same pan as the chicken, with the leftover pieces of crust and olive oil.

Feta sauce:
Combine 1/2 t lemon rind, the juice from two lemons, 4 T olive oil, some chopped mint and black pepper (no salt for sure), and whisk together. Add 3.5 oz of feta (the recipe called for reduced fat; I just threw in a handful of what we had) and whisk again. It will be lumpy and thick, and that is fine and delicious.


Chicken:
Combine 2/3 c panko and 2 T Italian seasoning (I used oregano and rosemary) on a flat pie plate or dish. Sprinkle four chicken breast halves with salt and pepper and dredge.

Heat a few T of olive oil and cook the chicken for 5 minutes until brown on one side. Keep cooking/turning until they're done all the way through. Mine we so thick that I put the cover on for the end to make sure they were cooked through.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Peach Cobbler

Adapted from: Annie's Eats

We had a whole bunch of peaches from the CSA that needed to be used this weekend, and this was the recipe I chose. It can easily be doubled by using a 9x14 pan and increasing the cooking time for the peaches by 5 min and the cook time for the whole thing with the biscuits by an additional 5 minutes.

Ingredients:
For the filling:
3 lbs. ripe but firm peaches
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch

For the biscuit topping:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar, divided
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp plain whole milk yogurt (2% Greek yogurt worked fine)


Directions:
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 425° F. For the filling, peel the peaches and then cut each into 8 wedges, removing the pits as you go. Gently toss the peaches and sugar together in a large bowl and let stand for 30 minutes, tossing several times. Drain the peaches in a colander set over a bowl. Whisk together 1/4 cup of the drained juice with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Toss the peaches with the juice mixture and transfer to a 8-inch square glass baking dish (I used a round pie plate). Bake until peaches begin to bubble around the edges, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the biscuit topping. In the food processor, combine the flours, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse to combine. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to a medium bowl; add the yogurt and toss with a spatula until a cohesive dough is formed. (Be careful not to overmix.) Break the dough into 6 evenly sized but roughly shaped mounds and set aside.

After the peaches have baked 10 minutes, remove the peaches from the oven and place the dough mounds on top, spacing them at least 1/2-inch apart (they should not touch). Sprinkle each mound with the remaining sugar. Bake until the topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 16-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until warm, about 20 minutes; serve.

crustless roasted veggie quiche with feta

What do you do when you have 73 million tons of leftover roasted vegetables? Make three quiches, freeze them, and hope they turn out OK when they defrost. I have some weird bias against frozen leftovers (exacerbated by years of barely working or overcrowded freezers), but I'm really hoping the convenience of just being able to grab a pre-wrapped slice of this to take for lunch outweighs it.

Adapted from Gluten Free Goddess, who used cheddar instead of feta and had fresh tomatoes and herbs on hand.

2 cups roasted vegetables (mine were wedding leftovers, mostly consisting of zucchini, asparagus, onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and eggplant)
A handful of feta
Sprinkling of romano or Parmesan
4 organic free-range eggs, beaten
1/2 cup light cream (yup, I really used cream. it had better be good.)
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of Old Bay Seasoning
A pinch of dried basil and parsley (fresh probably would have been better but I was trying to be mindful of freezing)

Notes from here on are hers:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-inch glass pie plate.

Layer the roasted vegetables in the bottom of the pie plate and scatter the shredded cheese over the vegetables.

In a large 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup, or mixing bowl, use a fork to beat the eggs with the cream, and add a pinch of nutmeg. Pour the egg mixture all over the veggies and cheese, allowing it to seep in. (I lightly press down a bit with a thin silicone spatula to make sure the custard mixture sneaks in to all the nooks and crannies.)

Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake the pie in the center of a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, or until the center of the pie is set, and the edges are turning golden brown.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Ribs

Don't have a smoker but want to have tasty ribs? This way works pretty well.

from Alton Brown

2 full racks/slabs (about 4 1/2 pounds) baby back pork ribs
Kosher salt
6 tablespoons Rub Number Nine, recipe follows
1/2 cup orange juice (not fresh squeezed)
1/2 cup margarita mix
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place each rib rack on a sheet of extra-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil. (The foil should be 4 inches longer than the ribs on either end.) Season racks liberally with kosher salt and sprinkle each rack with 3 tablespoons of the rub. Turn the ribs, meat side down, and tightly seal each foil pouch. Place on a half sheet pan and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, heat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Combine the orange juice and margarita mix in a liquid measuring cup. Open 1 end of each pouch and evenly divide the liquid between the 2 pouches. Reseal the pouches and place the sheet pan in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the ribs from the oven, carefully open 1 end of each pouch and pour the braising liquid into a heatproof measuring cup. Reseal the pouches and place them and the measuring cup of liquid into the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
The fat in the braising liquid will have solidified on the top and can be removed at this time. Transfer the liquid to a small saucepan and add the honey, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, espresso powder and cayenne pepper. Whisk to combine. Set over medium high heat and reduce to a glaze, approximately 10 minutes.
Set a gas grill to medium-high and allow to heat for 10 minutes. Cut each slab in half and place them on the grill, flesh side down, close the lid and decrease the heat to medium. Leave alone for 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Flip and cook for 3 minutes on each side 1 more time or until each rib has a nice char. Remove the ribs from the grill to a cutting board. and cut into 2 rib portions, using kitchen shears. Add the ribs and half the glaze to a large serving bowl and toss to thoroughly coat. Serve the remaining glaze on the side.

Rub Number Nine:
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground thyme
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon allspice
(Ernie added onion powder and paprika to this. I don't have a clue how much, though)
Place all of the ingredients in an airtight container and shake to combine. Store for up to 3 months.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Chicke and artichokes in white wine sauce

I made this for dinner last week. It was super tasty, and easy to put together.

adapted from Annie's Eats

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. herbes de provence (or a combination of other dried herbs such as basil, parsley, oregano, thyme)
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (we used skinless thighs)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 (14 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup chicken broth
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine the flour, dried herbs, salt and pepper and stir with a fork to blend. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Using tongs, coat the chicken breast halves in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Remove the chicken to a plate; cover and keep warm.
Add the butter to the pan and warm until melted. Add the mushrooms and artichokes to the pan and cook until most of the liquid is released from the mushrooms and the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
In a liquid measuring cup, combine the white wine, chicken broth, and reserved tablespoon of flour; whisk until smooth. Add the mixture to the skillet, cooking until it is warm and slightly thickened. Return the chicken to the pan to warm through and cover with sauce. Serve the chicken with sauce spooned over the top, and garnish with grated Parmesan and fresh parsley as desired.