Saturday, December 29, 2007

Stove, Glorious Stove!

It's in! We need to pull it again to cut the countertop so we can slide it back in further, but it's operational (and was almost 12 hours before our party last night, so my husband didn't have to die). It's a GE Cafe model, and so far I love it. I haven't done too much with it yet, but I'm so happy to have no more electric stove in my life.

Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus Spears

Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus Spears

1 bunch fresh asparagus spears, with ends trimmed
sliced prosciutto
olive oil

Wrap sliced prosciutto (I cut each slice into 1/2s or 1/3s) around center of each asparagus spear. Line up on cookie sheet and drizzle tops of asparagus with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Good hot or at room temperature.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

fresh brussels sprouts
olive oil
kosher salt

Cut sprouts in half lengthwise. Toss with olive oil and kosher salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes (when tender and just starting to caramelize).

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I finally have this JUST the way I want it, after tinkering with it shamelessly.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce, plus some extra for cooking chicken
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
1 1/2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar
Crumbled blue cheese

Melt butter in skillet and add some Frank's Red Hot (eyeball it; you know what wing sauce looks like). Cook chicken breasts in mixture and let cool. Shred with a fork. Put all ingredients except blue cheese into crockpot. Set crockpot on lowest setting. Stir often to combine ingredients and keep dip from scorching. Have a bowl of crumbled blue cheese on the side for people to add as they wish. Serve with blue corn chips and/or celery sticks.

Accidental Punch

Well, as it got later last night, we decided to spike the punch. I wanted to document what we did, because it was GOOD.

1 2-liter bottle of Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash soda
2 cups orange juice
6 oz. Lemoncello (liquor)
1 bottle of Zardetto Brut Prosecco

Serves...a few :-)

Baked Reuben Dip

Baked Reuben Dip

1 (appx. 16 oz) can of sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed dry
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound deli corned beef
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
1 cup sour cream

Place sauerkraut, onion and corned beef in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Combine the mixture with remaining ingredients in a 1-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with rye cocktail squares.

Serves 10

Recipe from The Bread of Life: A Cookbook for Body and Soul by Episcopal Church Women

Cowboy Caviar

I found this recipe in Annie's cookbook and made some adaptations. It was a HUGE hit at our party :-) --edited 1/12/08, reducing oil by 1/4 cup and adding 1/4 cup vinegar--

Cowboy Caviar

1 1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil (I used Canola Oil)
1-3 jalapenos, seeded and minced (I use 3)
3 red bell (sweet) peppers, diced
3 yellow bell (sweet) peppers, diced
2 cans white shoe-peg corn, drained
2 cans black-eyed peas, drained
2 cans pinto beans, drained
1 small onion, diced

Bring vinegar to a boil. Remove from heat and add oil, sugar and minced jalapenos. Cool dressing mixture. Mix together remaining ingredients. Pour dressing mixture over vegetable/bean mixture and marinate overnight. Strain off marinade before serving (this is important or the dish will seem soggy and oily). Store leftovers in the refrigerator; keeps well for up to two weeks. Serve with Scoops tortilla chips.

Holiday Party Menu

We had our 3rd annual holiday party/open house last night. I enjoy throwing this so much! I always overcook, and several people bring food with them, too. Somehow, nearly all of it gets eaten. This year's menu:

  • Cider Baked Ham with Mini-Croissants
  • Shrimp Cocktail (thanks Stacie)
  • Baked Reuben Dip with Rye Bread for dipping
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip with Blue Corn Chips
  • Cowboy Caviar with Tortilla Scoops
  • Hummus with Pita Chips(thanks Becky)
  • Taco Dip (thanks Caroline)
  • Mini Meatballs and Cocktail Franks in Homemade BBQ Sauce (thanks Becky)
  • Biscuit-wrapped Mini Franks (thanks Angela)
  • Fresh Pico De Gallo, Guacamole and Blue Corn Chips (thanks Angela)
  • Pickled Eggs (thanks Kate)
  • Veggie Tray
  • Chocolate Raspberry Yule Log (thanks Jon's parents)
  • Trifle (thanks Karen)
  • Assorted Cookies (thanks Kate and Becky)
  • Cream Puffs
  • Punch in a Pinch (and we made up a new spiked recipe during the party that is oh-so-good)
  • Wine and Beer

Wow that was a lot of food. Amazingly, there are nearly no leftovers. I'd say we had 25-30 guests throughout the evening. It's great to see everyone, even though I always feel like I don't get to visit with everyone individually as much as I would like!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Me and my Big Mouth(tm)...

I have a teeny, tiny (OK, maybe medium-sized) food processor. It takes I don't know how many rounds to pulse/chop/shred/slice/etc whatever I'm processor-ing. So, in the midst of my stove fit (and the fact that I'm currently being overcome by gas fumes in my kitchen as my husband installs a new stove), I asked Jon to bring home the biggest food processor he could find. He said locate it, he'd bring it home. I checked everywhere online that had some local brick-and-mortar store Jon could go to and buy the item, and I have learned some things. The largest food processor I could find was a 14-cup model. I don't use a food processor often enough to justify spending $200-300 on a new one, even though when I use it, it's always for a large job (or big mess, as the case may be). So, the hunt was on. This is what I found. The Hamilton Beach 14-cup Big Mouth Food Processor. Jon picked it up at WalMart for $49.88 (My sweet, errand-running husband picked it up where it was available in our local area, which was The Evil Empire. For anti-WalMart-ers, it's available at other retailers, too.) I'm hoping it's worth the price, because as I said before, I couldn't justify dropping what it would cost to buy a KitchenAid stand mixer! More later! I am doing what I can to fill the time it's taking for Jon to finish installing my new stove. That will be another post. See what you have to look forward to?!?!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wishing you all the magic of the season...

Herbed Salmon & Rice Pilaf Bake

I made this a long time ago, straight from an Allrecipes recipe for Baked Salmon. I wasn't too impressed, and thought the recipe was a good idea, but somewhat bland. I always meant to doctor it up, but never got around to it. Well, tonight was the night, and I made some changes to the recipe. Jon and I really like how it turned out!

Herbed Salmon & Rice Pilaf Bake

1 cup wild rice pilaf (I use Par Excellence Garden Harvest from Costco)
1/2 package fresh matchstick carrots (appx. 6 oz)
2 1/2 cups water
1 pound salmon filet
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon dried dill weed
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon ground mustard
1 Tablespoon lemon pepper
Salt (as desired)
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a saucepan bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add rice and carrots. Stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a large pan, add enough water (or wine, if you wish) to just wet the bottom of the baking dish. Lay the salmon fillet in the pan, pink side up. Brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Place cooked rice mixture around the outside of the fish. Sprinkle the lemon juice and wine over the fish and rice.

In a small bowl, combine the dill weed, rosemary, basil, mustard, lemon pepper and sprinkle over the fish and rice (please note, if you like less spices, don't use all the dried spice mixture; we like a lot of spices in our food). Cover with aluminum foil (if desired).

Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the salmon is tender and flaky.

***Also, this certainly would all but destroy the health-conscious factor of the dish, but adds to the flavor...put a thin pat of butter on each piece of fish and atop the rice before baking.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Venison Chops with Mushroom Gravy

This is a crockpot meal and requires little prep. Beef (round steak, flank steak or possibly even chunks of stew meat) could very easily be substituted if you don't have/like venison.

Venison Chops with Mushroom Gravy

8 butterflied venison chops
1/2 cup red wine (I used Beaujolais)
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 large sliced onion
1 pkg. sliced mushrooms

Coat inside of crockpot with cooking spray or olive oil. Pour in 1/4 cup of the wine. Coat both sides of 4 chops with wine and arrange on bottom of crock. Salt and pepper meat. Layer half each of the mushroom and onion slices on top of meat. Spoon 1 can of mushroom soup on top of meat and vegetables. Repeat with remaining meat, wine, salt, pepper, veggies and soup. Cook on low setting for at least 6 hours.

Holiday Coin Cookies

This is a good, easy holiday cookie. They're similar to shortbread.

Holiday Coins

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
2 tbsp. red decorator’s sugar

In small bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In medium-size bowl, beat butter until creamy, 1 minute. Beat in sugar until fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in yolks and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until dough comes together. Divide dough into quarters.

Roll each quarter of dough into a 6-inch log, 1 inch thick. On cutting board, spread pecans in rectangle, 7x5 inches. Roll 2 of the logs in pecans to evenly coat. Wrap each log in waxed paper; refrigerate. Repeat with red sugar and remaining 2 dough logs. Refrigerate for 2 hours (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap logs. Cut each into appx. 16 slices, about ¼ inch thick. Transfer to UNgreased baking sheet.

Bake cookies in 350 degree oven for about 14 minutes or until just golden around edges. Remove cookies from sheet to wire rack; let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe from Family Circle. Yields: 6 dozen cookies. Melissa Saville Murray.


St. Francis Punch

64 oz. cranberry juice (100% juice, not cocktail), chilled
64 oz. apple juice, chilled
64 oz. club soda, chilled
12 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
64 oz. cold water

Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl. Serve immediately. (note: I do not add any water)
Yields: 30-35 servings.

Taken from “The Bread of Life: A Cookbook for Body and Soul” – a collection of recipes from the women of the Episcopal Church

“Ordination” Punch

1 (14 oz.) can pineapple juice, chilled
1 (6 oz.) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
¾ cup sugar
2 ¼ cups water
1 quart strawberry ice cream, softened
2 liter bottle ginger ale, chilled

Combine pineapple juice, lemonade concentrate, sugar, and water in a punch bowl; mix well. Add ice cream and stir until blended. Stir in ginger ale and serve immediately. Yields: 25 servings.

Taken from “The Bread of Life: A Cookbook for Body and Soul” – a collection of recipes from the women of the Episcopal Church

Punch for Cheaters...or Punch in a Pinch

I made this once last year in a pinch, and everyone loved it and kept asking for the 'recipe'. This goes to show that presentation just might be everything, lol!

2-liter bottles of Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash (seasonal), chilled
Orange Juice
Limes and/or Limes, sliced
Cranberries, fresh

Pour OJ into a jello-ring mold (I have one from Tupperware) or a bundt pan. Arrange lime/lemon slices in the OJ ring, and sprinkle cranberries around the ring. Freeze.

Pour Sierra Mist into punch bowl, and float the OJ ice ring.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pico De Gallo

This is also from Pioneer Woman's website. I can't help myself, but this is just 'it'. I've tried to make pico and fresh salsa for years, and it was never quite right. This recipe finally gets the ratio of tomatoes to jalapeno to onion jussssst right, in my opinion. When I make this I have to quadruple the recipe, at the very least. I'm not kidding. It turns people into pigs. Pico-eating pigs. I hope you have enough chips. I have even made this and used it to marinate leftover grilled flank steak overnight. Then the next day, I sear the leftover marinated steak in a cast iron skillet, just long enough to heat it up, and make steak fajitas with portabello mushrooms, mushrooms, onions and red/yellow/orange bell peppers, sauteeing the vegetables in olive oil and Sal con Chile y Limon before heating the steak. YUM!

Pico De Gallo

5 Roma tomatoes (firm, not soft)
1/2 large or 1 small onion
3 jalapeno peppers
1 bunch cilantro
2-3 limes
Kosher Salt
*These quantities are approximate

Dice tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos. (I quarter my tomatoes lengthwise, then scrape the seeds and tomato goo out with a paring knife. I also remove the seeds and white membrane from inside the jalapenos.) Mince cilantro. Toss together in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice over chopped vegetables, add cilantro, toss again. Add salt to taste. Toss again.
***To make wonderful guacamole, just add some of this pico to mashed avocado.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Pioneer Woman's Pasta Primavera

You should make this. I don't know what else to tell you other than that...just make it...and eat it, or make it and bring me your leftovers. I didn't even fiddle around with the recipe. It's just good...and makes a lot, so it's good, quick company food (provided your guests won't ostracize you for depriving them of meat...only some of mine would, hehe). It can go totally vegetarian if you substitute vegetable broth/stock for the chicken broth used in the recipe.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Favorite International Foods online stores...

Often I have to order ingredients to stock my pantry, or take a trip to Pittsburgh. These are some sites I've found that may make finding some elusive items a little bit easier!

I stumbled across this website in Rachel Ray's magazine...

La Tienda

They have Spanish foods and serving/dinnerware. I have never ordered from them, but intend to soon.

Another one I haven't tried, but they seem to have a good selection.

Import Food

They have lots of Thai and Oriental cooking staples, at good prices. I have ordered from this website numerous times (even some of their fresh produce). Their customer service is good, and they have a great selection of basics for Thai cooking!

Soft Molasses Cookies

These are a great addition to anyone's holiday baking arsenal.

Soft Molasses Cookies (King Arthur Flour Recipe)

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 c molasses
1/3 c dark rum
5 tbsps butter
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 c king arthur unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp ginger

Step #1 Whisk together the flour, spices, salt & baking soda, & set aside.
Step #2 In a large bowl, beat together the butter & sugar, then beat in the molasses.
Step #3 Add the dry ingredients alternately with the rum.
Step #4 Using a cookie or muffin scoop, scoop out round balls of dough somewhere in size between a ping-pong ball & a golf ball, & place the balls on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
Step #5 Bake the cookies in a preheated 375°F oven for 11 to 12 mins, until they crack on top but haven't yet browned around the edges.