Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu Empanadas

3 pounds poached or roasted chicken breasts, diced or shredded
1 pound of Black Forest ham, thinly sliced and chopped
16 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small bunch of scallions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon black pepper
50 empanada wrappers (I prefer Goya brand)

Mix all ingredients (but wrappers) in a large bowl and adjust seasonings to taste. (I omitted salt, given the saltiness of the ham.) Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in the center of a wrapper. Wet the edge of the wrapper before folding it in half and sealing it with a fork or empanada press. Freeze. Brush with melted butter, egg, or olive oil and sprinkle with salt before baking at 375 for 30 minutes or until brown.

Makes 50.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sausage Empanadas with Cilantro Lime Sour Cream

Cilantro Lime Sour Cream:

1 cup sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, packed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions: In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and chill.

Sausage Empanadas:

16 ounces spicy hot breakfast sausage
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
½ cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, finely chopped
2 (14-ounce) packages frozen empanada/turnover discs (dough) 5-inches diameter, thawed * See Note Below
1 egg, beaten
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Directions: Over medium heat, crumble sausage into a large heavy skillet. Add onion and cook, breaking up sausage, with back of a wooden spoon, into small pieces. Cook until sausage is brown and onions are soft. Drain fat from pan. Add garlic, tomato sauce, cumin, oregano, pepper flakes, raisins and olives. Cook about 2-3 minutes, continuing to break sausage into small pieces. Cool slightly. Place dough/circle on flat surface; add about 2 tablespoons sausage mixture down center of each circle. Fold dough in half, forming a half circle. Slightly moisten dough edges and tightly seal dough by crimping edges with moist finger tips. (Could be prepared to this point 5 to 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.) Spray shallow baking sheets with nonstick vegetable spray or line with parchment paper. Place empanadas on prepared baking sheets. Prick each empanada top, several times, with a fork to allow steam to escape during baking. Lightly brush tops with beaten egg. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with Cilantro Lime Cream. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Yield: 16 Empanadas

*I omitted the raisins and olives

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stuffed Shells with Chicken, Arugula and a Creamy Alfredo Sauce

2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 TBS olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups Arugula
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works well)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

4 TBS butter
1 clove garlic minced
2 TBS all purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 TBS chopped fresh chives
1 cup plus 3 TBS grated parmesan
1 cup grape tomato halved
italian parsley for garnish

large jumbo pasta shells (conchiglioni)

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13" baking dish and set aside

Bring a large pot of water to a boil add the pasta and cook for approximately 9 minutes until al dente. Drain and rinse under color water being careful not to break the shells. Set aside.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. In a large bowl mix together the ricotta and Parmesan. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and cook one minute, being careful not to brown it. Stir in the arugula until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped chicken and still well. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add chicken mixture to cheese mixture and stir carefully . Stuff each shell with approximately 1/2 cup of the cheese filling and place in prepared baking dish.

For the sauce, heat the butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant but not brown. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the cream and milk and whisk until mixture begins to thicken and bubble. Remove from the heat and add the chives, 1 cup parmesan, cherry tomatoes and gently stir. Pour sauce over the shells and sprinkle with remaining 3 TBS of parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes until sauce is bubbling and cheese is golden brown. Sprinkle with parsley.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thai-Style Chicken with Basil

3 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed - divided
5 medium garlic cloves, peeled
9 green or red thai chiles, stemmed 0r 3 serranos or 1 medium jalapeno (I used 3/4 of a medium jalapeno to decrease spiciness)
3 Tbsp. fish sauce, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in to 2" pieces
5 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1 1/3 cup)
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Red pepper flakes for serving, if desired

1. Process 1 1/2 cups basil leaves, garlic and chiles in food processor until finely chopped, 6-10 one second pulses, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once during processing. Transfer 1 1/2 Tbsp. basil mixture to small bowl and stir in 1 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar and sugar; set aside. Transfer remaining basil mixture to 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet. Do not wash food processor bowl.

2. Pulse chicken and 1 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce in food processor until meat is chopped into approximate 1/4-inch pieces, six to eight 1-second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl and refrigerate 15 minutes.

3. Stir shallots and oil into basil mixture in skillet. Heat over medium-low heat (mixture should start to sizzle after about 1 1/2 mins.; if it doesn't, adjust heat accordingly), stirring constantly, until garlic and shallots are golden brown, 5-8 minutes.

4. Add chicken, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring and breaking up chicken with potato masher or rubber spatula, until only traces of pink remain, 2-4 minutes. Add reserved basil-fish sauce mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly until chicken is no longer pink, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining cup basil leaves and cook, stirring constantly, until basil is wilted, 30-60 seconds. Serve immediately, passing extra fish sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes and vinegar to add as desired.

Serve with steamed rice and vegetables, if desired.

To freeze:

Complete all steps through step #3. Place cooked basil-shallot mixture in freezer bag and add uncooked chicken and freeze. Freeze reserved basil-fish sauce separately.

To cook from frozen:

Cut sauce out of bag prior to thawing. Thaw chicken mixture in refrigerator. Place in warmed non-stick skillet and follow instructions in step #4.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wild Salmon with Mustard Glaze

For the Salmon:
6 pieces of salmon fillets with skin on (6-8 ounces)
1 TBS olive oil or melted butter
coarse salt and pepper

For the Glaze:

4 tsps toasted yellow mustard seeds
3/4 cup mayo (I used a bit less)
1/3 cup grainy mustard
1 TBS chopped fresh dill
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper

Run your fingers over the meat side of the salmon and pull out any bones you feel. Rinse the salmon under cold running water and then blot dry with paper towels. Brush the skin side of the fish with oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Prepare the glaze in a non reactive mixing bowl whisking together all ingredients. Spoon the glaze evenly over the salmon and wrap in foil. At this point I double wrapped in foil and froze.

To Cook from Frozen: Do not thaw. Pull out of freezer and remove one layer of foil. Pierce the other foil a few times with a fork on both sides. Grill on medium hot for around 15 minutes turning one time. Center should be opaque when done.

If you were doing this recipe with out freezing you would now set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium heat. When ready to cook brush and oil the grill grate. Spoon glaze over evenly. Cover and grill about 12 to 15 minutes, the skin will become crisp.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cajun Cool Cheeseburgers

From Cooking Light

4 1/2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
4 1/2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup + 1/8 cup dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons paprika
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons ground red pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground round
1/2 pound ground turkey
6 whole wheat hamburger buns
1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup green onion tops, cut into 2-inch julienned strips

Prepare grill.

Combine cheeses; set aside.

Combine breadcrumbs and next 5 ingredients. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions; shape into a 1/2-inch thick patty. Remove the center of each patty and stuff with cheese mixture; replace meat removed until it hides the cheese.

Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 to 7 minutes on each side. Place buns, cut side down, on grill rack; grill 1 minute or until toasted. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun; top each serving with 1/4 cup lettuce, 3 tablespoons onions, and top half of bun.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 burger)

Calories: 463 (33% from fat); Fat 17g (sat 7g, mono 5.6g, poly 2.6g); Protein 33.1g, Carb 43.1g; Fiber 2.1g; Chol 82mg; Iron 5.2mg; Sodium 956mg; Calc 194mg

*NOTE: The original recipe called for the cheese to be placed on top of the burgers while grilling. Instead, I used a generous tablespoon of both feta and blue cheese (2 tablespoons total) to stuff the burgers. If you wanted an extra-cheesy treat, you could stuff the burgers with 2 tablespoons of the cheese and use the remaining cheese to top the burgers while grilling.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tangerine Teriyaki Pork Chops

6 pork chops
3 strips tangerine strips
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup tangerine juice
1/4 cup Asian sesame oil
2 Cloves garlic minced
2 slices fresh ginger (1/4 inch thick), crushed with the side of a knife
2 whole star anise
1/2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp water
1 TBS lightly toasted sesame seeds for garnish
2 scallions, green part only, finely chopped for garnish

Combine the soy sauce, sugar, tangerine juice, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and star anise in a non reactive mixing bowl and whisk. Pour the marinade over the chops and let marinate refrigerated for 1-2 hours. (or if freezing in a bag). Preheat your grill for high. Strain the marinade into a saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil over high heat. Briskly simmer, uncovered until syrupy about 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk in dissolved cornstarch and boil until thickened, about 30 seconds.
When ready to cook, brush and oil the grate well. Grill about 6 minutes a side. Baste the pork chops with the glaze as it cooks. Transfer to plates and spoon the remaining glaze over the chops. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and green scallions. Serve asap. (I poured some of the basting liquid into a separate bowl for the grill master and saved the rest to glaze the chops).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pesto-Stuffed Pork Chops

5 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
3 Tbsp. prepared basil pesto (I made my own version)
1 1/2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
6 pork loin chops or boneless pork loin chops, cut 1 1/4 inches thick

1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/3 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/3 tsp. dried thyme, crushed

1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1. For filling, stir together cheese, pesto and nuts. Set aside. Trim fat from meat. Make a pocket in each chop by cutting horizontally from the fat side almost to the bone or the opposite side. Divide filling among pockets in chops. If necessary, secure opening with wooden toothpick.

2. For rub, in a small bowl combine black pepper, salt, oregano, garlic, red pepper and thyme. Rub evenly onto all sides of meat. Place chops on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until done (160 degrees) and juices run clear. Brush vinegar onto chops during last 5 minutes of baking. Before serving, discard toothpicks.

If desired, you may also grill.

Frozen directions:

Stuff pork chops as described in recipe. Wrap and freeze individually.

Lay flat on to thaw in refrigerator 24-48 hrs. Once thawed, apply rub and cook as described, brushing on balsamic vinegar during last 5 minutes.

Chicken Empanadas

Makes 12 empanadas

Filling ingredients:
3 cups cooked shredded chicken breasts
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced
1-2 cloves garlic
3 green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons minced cilantro
2 teaspoons chili powder
4 oz. canned green chilies
salt and pepper, to taste
12 empanada discs (I prefer the frozen 5-inch Goya “discos,” which come 10/pack and have plastic sheets separating each disk. They thaw in an hour at room temperature.)
egg/olive oil wash, kosher salt

Mix all filling ingredients in a large bowl, adjusting seasoning as necessary. Remove one disc and wet the edge with a bit of water. Using approximately ¼ cup filling per empanada, place filling in center of thawed disc dough and fold over, pressing and sealing edges together with the tines of a fork (or using a plastic empanada press - available at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, which makes the process much easier!) Continue wetting/ filling/sealing the empanadas, placing on a baking sheet before flash freezing. (Tip: to fit more empanadas on the baking sheet, instead of laying them flat, stand the empanadas side-by-side, using the plastic wrappers from the package of discs to keep them from sticking to each other.) Once frozen, the empanadas can be removed from the baking sheet and placed in a freezer bag for easy storage.

To prepare:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place frozen empanadas on cookie sheet, brushing with egg wash or olive oil. (The egg wash will give you a nicer brown color, but the olive oil adds more flavor.) Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Serve with salsa or sour cream.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tequila-Glazed Chicken Thighs

*If you would rather not use tequila, you can substitute 1/3 cup pineapple juice. Start the grilling over direct heat to get good grill marks and charred bits, and then move to indirect heat to gently finish the cooking. 

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
6 bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), skinned
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup tequila
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons grated lime rind
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Cooking spray

Preheat grill to medium-high heat using both burners. After preheating turn the left burner off (leave the right burner on).

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; rub evenly over chicken.

Bring the pineapple juice, tequila, and honey to a boil in a small saucepan; cook until reduced to 3/4 cup (about 10 minutes).

Combine cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl, and stir well. Add cornstarch mixture to juice mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat, and stir in lime rind, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and red pepper.

Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray over right burner (direct heat). Cover and grill for 5 minutes on each side, basting occasionally with juice mixture. Move the chicken to grill rack over left burner (indirect heat). Cover and grill an additional 5 minutes on each side or until done, basting occasionally.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 thigh).

calories, 241; fat 7g (sat. 2.1 g, mono 2.8g, poly 1.7g); protein, 18g; carb, 17.2g; fiber, 0.4g; chol, 64mg; iron, 1.2mg; sodium 374mg; calc 19mg

from Cooking Light, June 2011 issue

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grilled Herb Shrimp with Mango Salsa

Herb Shrimp:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, small-diced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 lbs shrimp; peeled, tail-on, deveined

Combine garlic, onion, parsley, basil, mustards, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add the shrimp and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temp or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Prepare grill and skewer the shrimp. Grill shrimp for 1 min 30 seconds each side or until done. Serve with Mango Salsa (recipe follows).

Mango Salsa:
2 tbls olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
2 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 ripe mangos; peeled, seeded, and small-diced
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tsp minced fresh mint leaves

Saute olive oil and onions in large saute pan over medium-low heat for 10 minutes until onions are translucent. Add ginger and garlic, cook for 1 more minute. Add the mangos; reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Add the orange juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and jalapeno; cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add the mint. Serve warm, at room temp, or chilled.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mom's Beef Teriyaki

2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 salad oil
2TBS ginger root minced
2 TBS molasses
2 tsp dry mustard
6 cloves minced garlic

Combine with 2 pounds flank steak and marinate at least one day.

Soak skewers in water for 20 minutes and then skewer the meat.
Grill and enjoy!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sesame-Pork Fajitas

1 package pork tenderloins (2 tenderloins)
4 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 moo shu shells
Cooking spray
1/4-1/2 cup hoisin sauce

Trim fat off pork and cut into strips. Combine pork and next 5 ingredients in large ziplock baggie; seal and shake well to coat pork. Marinate in fridge for 20 minutes. Warm moo shu shells according to package directions. Coat a medium nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add pork mixture and stir fry 5 minutes or until done. Divide pork mixture evenly among shells. Drizzle hoisin over pork mixture and roll up.

To Freeze: Prepare pork in marinade and freeze. Have moo shu shells and hoisin on hand for serving day.

To Serve: Thaw pork mixture. Following remaining recipe directions.

Baked Ziti

from Cooks Illustrated

NOTE: The test kitchen prefers heavy cream, but whole milk can be substituted by increasing the cornstarch to 2 teaspoons and increasing the cooking time in step 3 by 1 to 2 minutes. Either whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella can be used, but avoid preshredded cheese, as it does not melt well. Do not use nonfat cottage cheese, it will break down when baked.

1 pound whole-milk or 1 percent cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 pound ziti or other short, tubular pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

(1) Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the cottage cheese, eggs and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese together in a medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander (do not wash the pot).

(2) Meanwhile, heat the oil and garlic in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup of the basil and the sugar, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

(3) Stir the cornstarch into the cream in a small bowl; transfer the mixture to the now-empty pot set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup of the tomato/oregano/basil/sugar sauce, and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add the pasta and stir to coat throughly with sauce.

(4) Transfer the pasta mixture to a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and spread the remaining tomato/oregano/basil/sugar sauce evenly over the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over the top. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

(5) Remove the foil and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Let cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Siamese Chicken Curry with Broccoli and Peanuts

Béchamel Sauce: (I doubled)
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1 cup of half and half

2 cups broccoli flowerets
2 TBS corn oil
1 ounce green Thai Curry
1/4 tsp
2 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp garlic (I use a bit more)
1 1/2 pound chicken breast
4 TBS soy sauce
OPT: 1/2 tsp sriraja (Thai hot sauce) or tabasco
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
Hot cooked rice or lo mein noodles

Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir over low heat for several minutes. Add the half and half all at once and stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens and bubbles. Set aside. If not using immediately, cover flush with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

Blanch the broccoli for 1 minute in boiling salted water. Drain and set aside. Have assembled the rest of the ingredients for the curry.

In a large skillet, heat the corn oil. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute over low heat to blend. Turn the heat to medium high and add the chicken, salt, sugar, and garlic. Stir fry the chicken until the sugar begins to caramelize, increasing the heat if necessary.

Immediately add the soy sauce and continue to stir fry until the liquid has almost evaporated and the chicken is cooked through. Blend in the reserved Béchamel sauce. Add additional milk if the mixture seems to thick, 2TBS at a time. When the sauce is smooth add the broccoli and quickly heat through. (I don't heat the broccoli through for freezing). Taste and add the additional hot sauce if desired. Stir in the peanuts and serve at once over rice or noodles.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken Spiedies

1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus
   1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 breasts), trimmed
6 (6-inch) submarine rolls, split partially open lengthwise, or 6 large slices Italian bread

Combine the oil, garlic, basil, oregano, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes in a large bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the oil mixture to a separate bowl and whisk in the mayonnaise, vinegar, and lemon juice; refrigerate until ready to serve. (The sauces can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days.)

Prick the chicken breasts all over with a fork, cut them into 1 1/4-inch chunks, and transfer to the bowl with the remaining oil mixture. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread the chunks onto six 12-inch skewers. Grill on high, turning frequently, until lightly charred and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rolls, remove the skewers, and drizzle with the mayonnaise mixture. Serve.

Frozen Preparation:
Defrost chicken in refrigerator. Thread onto bamboo skewers which have been soaked in water for 20 minutes prior to using. Grill as directed above. Serve as directed above. To prepare sauce, defrost and whisk in 3 tablespoons mayonnaise.

Flank Steak Stuffed with Spinach, Provolone, & Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

1 (2lb) flank steak
1 (12oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, rinsed, drained, & patted dry
5 tbls olive oil
1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 c)
1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbls fresh thyme, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz thinly sliced Provolone cheese
3 oz baby spinach (about 2 c)

Lay steak on large plate and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, puree peppers, 2 tbls oil, Parmesan, shallot, garlic, thyme, and 1/8 tsp salt in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

Slice chilled steak in half horizontally to within 1/2 inch of edge and open like a book. Pat steak dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

Layer provolone over steak, leaving 1" border around edges, then cover with spinach. Spoon roasted red pepper mixture evenly over spinach. Roll steak up tightly and tie. Brush steak with additional 1 tbls oil.

To Store/To Freeze: Wrap steak tightly with plastic wrap for up to 24 hours or freeze. Thaw 24 hours before cooking day.

To Serve: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450. Brush steak with additional 1 tbls oil and transfer to wire rack set over foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until registers 120 degrees, about 45-50 minutes, rotating steak and brushing with 1 tbls oil halfway through cooking. Transfer to carving board, tent with foil, and let rest about 10 minutes. Remove twine and slice steak crosswise.

*Note: I only used about half the amount of red pepper pesto called for- it makes a ton and can be a little over-powering.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Creamy Pasta Sauce with Fresh Herbs

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 TBS sweet butter
1/2 tsp salt (I used half that)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup grated imported parmesan cheese
1 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (I used a combo of basil, mint, chives, watercress Italian parsley)
1 pound angel hair pasta

Combine the cream, butter, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne in a heavy saucepan and simmer for at least 15 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened.

Whisk in the parmesan and herbs and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve immediately.

For the freezer version I simmered just a tad less as you will have to reheat it and I didn't want it to thick. Place in freezer bag to freeze. I would recommend cutting it out of the bag frozen when you are ready to thaw it. That way you wont loose sauce:)

2 cups of sauce is enough for 1 pound of pasta.
This recipe is from the Silver Palate Cookbook

Monday, March 28, 2011

Penne with Vodka Sauce/Simple Tomato Sauce (Giada De Laurentiis)


  • 1 quart Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, blended until smooth
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound penne


Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.

Simple Tomato Sauce:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

4 to 6 basil leaves

2 dried bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to round out the flavor.

Pour half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and then pour 1 to 2 cup portions into plastic freezer bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Yield: 6 cups

Beef and Cheese Empanadas

(From Cook's Illustrated)


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 pinches ground cloves
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound 85 percent lean ground chuck
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large egg , beaten, or olive oil (for brushing on tops of empanadas)
  • 1 package empanada wrappers (10/package)


  1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, and cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the beef and cook, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

  2. Stir in the broth, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the mixture is moist but not wet, about 8 minutes. (I had to drain it a bit.) Off the heat, stir in the sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour. Stir in the cheese and continue to chill until needed, up to 3 days.

  3. Working with the first batch of dough rounds, take one at a time, rim edge with water, and fill with 2-3 tablespoons of filling. Fold in half, seal, and crimp the edges of the empanadas using a fork. Arrange them on a fresh, parchment-lined baking sheet. Wrap the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making a second batch of empanadas.

  4. To Store: Make sure each baking sheet is covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. (After the empanadas are completely frozen, about 8 hours, they can be transferred to a zipper-lock bag to save space in the freezer. Transfer back to a parchment-lined baking sheet before baking.)

  5. To Serve: Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Unwrap the empanadas and brush with the egg or oil. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating the trays halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Pork Chops with Blueberry BBQ Sauce

For the sauce:
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons water or lemon juice

For the pork chops:
4 pork chops (6 to 8 ounces each)
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush grill grate with oil.

Saute shallots and jalapeno in oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until soft, about 2 minutes. Add blueberries, vinegar, brown sugar, Dijon, garlic powder, and salt; simmer until sauce thickens, 2-3 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor; pulse until pureed. Return sauce to pan over medium heat. Stir in water; simmer sauce 1-2 minutes more, stirring often. Remove sauce from heat; set aside.

Season pork with salt and pepper. Grill pork, covered, over direct heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 155 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Brush sauce over pork as it cooks. Remove pork from grill and tent with foil; let rest 5 minutes.

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Shrimp

If you don't like spicy food, start with only 2 teaspoons chile paste. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little water--it should be the consistency of unwhipped cream.

Peanut Sauce:

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2-2/3 cup water
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-4 teaspoons chile paste with garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Cooking spray
1/2 tsp. salt


8 cups cooked thick udon noodles or linguine (16 ounces uncooked)
2 small red bell peppers, cut into julienne strips
1 1/2 cup chopped seeded cucumber
1/2 cup diagonally cut green onions
6 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
4 tablespoons cilantro leaves
6 lime wedges (optional)


To prepare sauce, combine the ingredients and stir with a whisk.

To prepare the shrimp, toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté in nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat for 3 minutes on each side or until done.

To prepare pasta, combine peanut sauce, shrimp, noodles, bell pepper, cucumber, and onions in a large bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thai Shrimp and Lemongrass Soup

2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 ounce lemongrass
2 packages cellophane noodles (2 ounces each)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/4 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp sesame oil
3TBS soy sauce
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 TBS nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1/2 tsp sriraja (Thai hot sauce) or Tabasco
3 TBS rice wine or dry sherry
1 TBS cornstarch
3 TBS water
1/2 pound small mushrooms quartered
2 TBS fermented black beans, rinsed
1/2 pound peeled shrimp, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup scallions sliced
2 tsp lime juice

Simmer the stock with the lemongrass in a covered saucepan for 1/2 hour. Meanwhile, soak the noodles in water to cover for 20-30 minutes, then drain and if desired cut into 2" pieces. Set aside. To the stock, add the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce,, red pepper flakes, nam pla, sriraja and rice wine. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Strain off the solids. Combine the cornstarch and water. Bring the soup to a boil and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and add the noodles and simmer 5 minutes (can be made ahead at this point). Add the mushrooms, black beans, shrimp, and scallions. Return to a boil and cook 1 minute. Remove the soup from the heat, stir in the lime juice and serve.

Makes 2 1/2 quarts

(Lemongrass infuses much of Thai cooking giving a lemony edge to soups. Dried lemongrass must be soaked first or cooked in a liquid and then strained.)

Freezer version: Thaw the stock, mushroom mixture and bring to a boil on top of the stove add the soaked noodles and coarsely chopped shrimp for 5 minutes. When shrimp is cooked at the lime juice and serve:)

From The Frog Commissary Cookbook

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping

1.5 lbs boneless chicken breasts or 4 c. shredded cooked chicken
4 tbls butter
1/2 c. flour
2 c. chicken stock
1.5 c. whole milk
3 tbls sherry
couple drops lemon juice, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
3 pinches ground nutmeg
2 tbls butter
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced 1/4" thick
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/4" thick
3/4 c. frozen peas, thawed
3 tbls fresh parsley
Frozen buttermilk or southern-style biscuits

Cook and shred chicken breasts to make 4 cups. Melt 4 tbls butter in large saucepan over med-low heat. Add 1/2 c. flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add 2 c. chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Increase heat to medium, slowly whisk in 1.5 c. whole milk, bring just to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken and sherry and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and nutmeg.

In separate skillet, melt 2 tbls butter over med-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring often until barely tender, for about 5 minutes. Stir the veggies into the creamed chicken mixture along with the peas and parsley. Pour the chicken & veggie mixture into a greased 9x13 pan (or two 8x8). Place frozen biscuits on top of chicken mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees until hot and bubbly and biscuits are lightly browned (about 25-35 minutes).

To Freeze: Prepare according to above directions but do not bake. Package frozen biscuits in separate baggie to be placed on top of chicken mixture just before baking (biscuits should remain frozen).

Serving Day: Thaw chicken mixture 24 hours in fridge. Do not thaw biscuits. Remove foil and plastic wrap and place frozen biscuits on top. Bake according to above directions.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients; toss lightly to mix well. With teaspoon or melon ball scoop, shape mixture into small balls (makes approximately 30 3/4-inch balls).

Pour enough vegetable oil into the bottom of a skillet to lightly coat the skillet. Brown meatballs in the oil over medium-high heat. Remove and drain.

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (28 ounces) Furmano's Crushed tomatoes (preferably with basil, if you can find it)
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf (remove after cooking)
1 cup Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Stir. Add meatballs. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, one and a half hours, stirring occasionally.