Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chicken Mac & Cheese Soup

4 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Bacon Fat
8 tbsp flour
1 Quart Chicken Stock
½ Gallon Milk
4 Cloves of Garlic – Smashed
4 Cups Cheddar Cheese
½ lb Pasta
1-2 Roasted Chicken Breasts – Shredded
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Paprika
2 tbsp Salt
* Garlic Croutons

In a large pot over med/high heat melt the butter and bacon fat.  Wisk in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add in chicken stock and milk.  Cook for about 5 minutes.

In a large pot with salted boiling water and garlic cloves, cook pasta for 6 minutes.  Drain and remove garlic cloves, smash garlic into a paste and add into the liquid mixture.

Add Cheese, cayenne, paprika and salt to liquid mixture.  Wisk until cheese is dissolved.  Add in chicken and pasta.  Stir to combine.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

* Slice a loaf of Garlic Ciabatta Bread in half and cut into about 1” cubes.  Mix with 6 tbsp EVOO, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder.  Pour out onto cookie sheet and bake in a 475 degree oven until golden brown.

** As with all soups the seasonings and ingredients are totally open to interpretation.  You could add broccoli and wine to this soup for a totally different texture and flavor.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

2 tbsp EVOO
1 ½ - 2 lbs Cubed or Shredded Beef
1 Med. Onion – diced into ¼ “ pieces
3 Carrots – Peeled and diced into ¼“ pieces
3 Ribs of Celery – diced into ¼“ pieces
4 oz Crimini Mushrooms – Sliced and diced into ¼“ pieces
6 Cloves of Garlic – smashed and ground into a paste
1 Green (or Red) Pepper – Seeded and diced into ¼“ pieces
1 Cup Green Beans – Cut into ¼” pieces
4 14.5 oz cans (or 2 cartons) of Beef Broth
1 Cup (Uncooked) Barley – Follow directions but add in 1 smashed garlic clove
* Various seasonings

Cook Barley according to the package and add in 1 smashed clove of garlic.

In a large pot or Dutch Oven over high heat add in the EVOO and then the Beef *.  May have to do in batches.  Stir occasionally until browned.  Remove beef from pot.

In same pot add onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic *.  Cook for about 8 minutes over med/high heat. Add in peppers, green beans, beef and beef broth and cook for about 5 minutes *.

Add in Barley and simmer for 5 minutes.  Adjust seasonings accordingly and then simmer another 10 minutes *.

* I make my own seasoning blend with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, thyme, rosemary.  But you can use your own seasonings to guide your own palate.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ginger Turkey Pot Stickers

1 Package Ground Turkey
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
½ Head Cabbage  - cut in ¼
1 Onion – Peeled - cut in ¼
1  Large Carrot – Peeled – cut in ¼ (or 1 cup pre shredded carrots)
1 tbsp Fresh Ground Ginger
2 tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Package Round Won Ton Wrappers
2 Scallions – finely chopped
1 tbsp Sesame Seeds

In a pan over med/high heat add the EVOO and Turkey.  Break the turkey up and brown it about 5 minutes.  Drain off any oil and set turkey aside.

In a food processor add cabbage, onion, carrot and shred to combine.  In a large bowl add the cabbage mixture, the ground turkey, ginger, soy sauce, cayenne pepper and brown sugar.  Mix well.  Taste to adjust seasonings accordingly.

Take the won tons and with a pastry brush or your finger, wet the outer edges with water.  Take about a teaspoon of the ground turkey mixture and place in the center of the won ton.  Fold the won ton in ½ and press the edges to firmly seal.

In a shallow pan bring about 2” of water to a simmer.  Salt like you would pasta.  Gently add in the won tons (in batches) and simmer about 1 minute on each side.

In another pan w/ 1 tbsp EVOO, on med/high heat, add in the won tons and brown on each side (about 1 minute each side).

Garnish with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.  For an added flavor add your favorite Asian dipping sauce.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fun Alcohol Tips

Champagne is a location, not a type of alcohol.  Champagne is in France and any "sparkling wine" made in that region is called Champagne.  Prosecco is a lot less expensive and has a little more sugar and many like it better than Champagne.

Scared to open Champagne because of the flying cork and the spilling?  Tilt the bottle to 2:00 and turn the cork towards you and bam!  Open bottle and no spill.  It's all about the angle.

Like Red Wine but sometimes a little pricey?  You can buy less expensive red wine but the trick is to decant.  It's all about the oxygen.  Open the red wine a few hours before you drink it and the oxygen getting into the wine will actually make it taste better.  Having a party?  Pre-pour the glasses of red wine in the morning and serve at night and the less expensive wine will taste so much better.

Also red wine is best when it's served just under room temperature.  So refrigerate red wine and then take it out and let it sit out 20 minutes before serving.

If you like martini's with olives but are a little slow to finish the drink before it gets warm, try freezing the olives and then add to the martini.  They act as little ice cubes to keep the drink cold while not watering it down.

If someone brings you white wine that is not cold, wrap it in damp paper towels and place it in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Viola, chilled white wine.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Roast Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells

1 Roast Chicken or 3 Chicken Breasts – Skin on, bone in.
  - Lemon slices under the skin and salt, pepper, onion & garlic powder, etc. on the skin.
1 Pkg Frozen Chopped Spinach – Thawed and drained
2 32 oz Ricotta Cheese – Room Temp and broken up.
2 Eggs – Room Temp – Beaten
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Salt
½ tbsp Pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
¼ tsp Nutmeg
2 8 oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – divided in half
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 12 oz boxes of Jumbo Shells
¼ cup Fresh Basil – Sliced thin
2 tbsp Butter
2 jars Tomato Sauce

You can either break down a store bought rotisserie chicken, roast your own (whole 350 for about 60 minutes) or roast chicken breasts (350 for about 30-35 minutes).  Shred chicken.

In a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, spinach, eggs, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg.  Stir to combine.  Add in the shredded mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and shredded chicken and taste to adjust seasoning if necessary.

In a large pot w/ boiling, salted water, add the shells.  Under cook the shells by 2-3 minutes.  My brand said to cook for 9 minutes so I cooked mine for 6-7 minutes.  You want to slightly undercook the shells because they will continue cooking in the oven and this way they will stay together and not fall apart.  Cool shells.

Fill the shells generously with the filling.  Take a buttered baking dish and coat the bottom with your tomato sauce.  I make my own but you can use 2 jars of your favorite brand.  Layer the shells in a single layer in the dish.  This recipe made 2 large baking dishes full.  Ass another layer of sauce over the shells (add as much or as less as you’d like).  Sprinkle basil over the shells.  Sprinkle over the 2nd half of the mozzarella cheese and dab bits of the butter over the shells.  Loosely cover the shells with aluminum foil, trying not to have the foil touch the cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes (take foil off for final 15 minutes to brown the top).  Let cool about 15 minutes before serving.  Enjoy.

* If making this in advance, after you cover in foil, put in fridge.  The day you’re going to serve, take out about ½ hour before you put in oven.  Also can freeze well, but just take out of freezer the day before and let thaw in fridge.