February 28, 2006

Fettuccine to the Rescue

This is a favorite dish around my house, actually it is the most loved meal of all. I came up with this dish while experimenting in my kitchen while I was in college. I wanted my own Alfredo sauce that I came up with myself. After many meals of fettuccine, I finally have the ultimate perfect sauce.

This sauce is rich- but is totally worth it. If you on a diet, don't even try to count the calories and fat in this meal. But, to me food is meant to be enjoyed not ignored.

Salmon Fettuccine

4 tbs. butter
2 ½ c. heavy cream (the best your can find)
½ c. grated Parmesanan cheese, plus extra for garnish (the best you can find)
Salt and pepper
½ tsp Oregano
1 tb Parsley, plus extra to garnish
1/2 tsp basil
1 package of the best fettuccine you have available
2 -3 salmon filets
½ c. dry white wine

In a skillet run 1 tsp. of olive oil around pan. Place salmon in skillet and pour wine over it and add salt and pepper to preference. Cook salmon thoroughly (till fish turns white all the way through and wine has cooked down.) Flake off the salmon pieces and place in separate bowl away from heat.

Cook fettuccine to recommended directions. Be sure to add ½ tsp olive oil and ½ tsp salt in water before adding the noodles.

Alfredo Sauce:
In a medium saucepan melt butter, add cream and cheese. Bring sauce to a boil, constantly stirring. Add all seasoning, tasting to see if there needs to be more salt added. When the mixture thickens to your liking add flaked salmon and toss lightly.

Drain noodles and place in a large casserole dish. Pour sauce mixture over noodles and toss lightly together. Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Take out and garnish top of dish with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

February 27, 2006

When Life Gives you Taters...Make a Casserole

Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
5 ½ c. mashed potatoes
½ c. milk
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 c. sour cream
2 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¾ c. shredded cheddar cheese
½ c. cooked and crumbled bacon (about 12 slices)

Place first seven ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high until potatoes are smooth and creamy. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and bacon.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. For faster preparation start with instant or refrigerated mashed potatoes.

February 24, 2006

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Cherry Cobbler

10 oz water
1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
1lb fresh sweet cherries, seeds removed
1/4 cup sugar or to taste

4 oz plain flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 1/2 oz whipping cream

In large saucepan, stir together water and corn starch. Add cherries and sugar and bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until mixture thickens and become clear. Transfer fruit mixture to a shallow 1–1 1/2 quart baking dish.

To make topping
Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add cream to the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until the mixture begins to hold together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead about 10 times or until a smooth dough forms (avoid over-kneading). Roll or pat out to a 1/2 inch thick circle. Place on top of fruit mixture. If preferred, topping can be cut with a biscuit cutter into 6 biscuits. Brush topping with milk or cream and sprinkle very lightly with sugar.

Bake at 350f for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is browned and fruit is bubbling. Cool slightly before serving

February 23, 2006

Mystery of the Meatloaf

Meatloaf. As a kid I couldn't stand the stuff. Everyone would rave about my mother's meatloaf, family, friends and neighbors. Me, not so much. It always reminded me of canned meat, you know like Spam. I guess it was the shape of it.

Mom would always place a slice of it on my brothers and my plates, I was always the last to finish my food. Yes, I had to finish my plate, or there was no leaving the table at our house.

I'm married and older now, but I will admit I'm still not a huge meatloaf fan and nor is my husband (thank goodness). But I do make this recipe once in awhile...

Home Sweet Meatloaf

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
2 tbs. dark brown sugar
1 lb. ground beef
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced tomato with sweet onions
1 c. plain bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
½ tsp. ground sage
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. Italian seasonings
1 tsp. parsley, plus extra to garnish with
2 eggs lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line shallow baking pan with aluminum foil; spray foil with cooking spray. Set aside. Mix tomato sauce and sugar in small bowl; set aside.

Combine meat, diced tomatoes, bread crumbs, seasonings, and eggs; shape into a loaf in prepared pan.

Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven; pour tomato sauce mixture over meat loaf. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until meat loaf is no longer pink in center (160°F). Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into 6 slices to serve, garnish with parsley.

February 22, 2006

Pancetta with Penne

I enjoy any type of pasta that is quick and easy to throw together for a dinner and this dish is perfect for those times that you want to make a home cooked meal, but don't have much time to spare. There is a little preparation before hand, but it can be cooked in no time if everything is diced and ready-to-go.

This taste-bud tingling recipes has a special kick to it by using one of my favorite seasonings, Pancetta. If you haven't used this seasonings before I have included a description of it below the recipe.

Serve this for dinner with a house salad and toasted french bread and you've got a complete meal.

Parmesan Chicken Penne
serves 4

8 oz. boneless chicken breast sliced in strips
4 tbs. medium Diced Onion
10-15 oz. Diced Tomatoes or 1/2 c. medium diced tomatoes
2 tbs. Butter
4 Cloves Roasted Garlic
1/2 tsp. Italian seasonings
3 tbs. Diced Bacon or *Pancetta (See below)
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
7 tbs. Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 leaves Chopped Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Flour for dredging Chicken
16 oz. penne pasta dry
2 oz. butter for frying

Dredge chicken strips in flour and fry in drawn butter in a medium skillet until fully cooked. Add onions, tomatoes, bacon, garlic and basil. Simmer using medium heat for approximately 2 minutes. Add heavy cream, butter, cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta to blend together and serve.

*(Pancetta is pork belly that has been salted, spiced and dried for about 3 months; it is often rolled up like a large sausage. It is usually used as a flavoring for dishes, added to sauces, stuffings, etc. In Italy, there are numerous recipes called "all'amatriciana," meaning "with pancetta." It is often found as an ingredient in pastas, on pizzas, etc. I love the flavor of pancetta. Store Pancetta well wrapped, and it can be kept for more than 3 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer. )

February 21, 2006

Chicken Cacciatore for Everyone

This is a easy slow cooked meal that your families will love. It's made easy by sticking it in your slow cooker before you leave for work and when you arrive home your meal is ready to go.

Slow Cooked Chicken Cacciatore
serves 4-6
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 med Onions peeled sliced
3 lb chicken cut up and boned
2 cloves Garlic minced
1 can crushed tomatoes 16 oz
1 can tomato sauce 8 oz
1 tsp salt
2 green peppers chopped
1 lb spaghetti dry cooked to your preference
1/4 ts pepper
1 1/2 ts dried oregano, crushed
1/2 ts dried basil crushed
1 bay leaf
1/4 c dry white wine

Place onions in slow cooker. On top of onions place chicken pieces, garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, herbs and wine. Cover pot. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Remove bay leaf. Serve chicken with its sauce over spaghetti.

February 17, 2006

A Good-bye Pie for Josh

This pie was made for a dear co-worker that is moving on to greener pastures to Illinois. I made it for him yesterday for his last day at work. Josh goodluck and stay in touch with us.

Baked Cherry Pie

2 cans of the best prepared cherry pie filling
1 whole nutmeg grated or 2 tsp. of nutmeg spice
1 stick of butter, cut up
2 tlbs. of sugar in the raw

Make a double crust pie, along with a few cut out leaves.

Place first crust in a 9 inch pie plate, pour cherry pie filling on top. Sprinkle the filling with the nutmeg and the sugar (add more sugar if you like really sweet cherry pie. Cut up the stick of butter and place slices randomly on top of the filling.

Place second crust over the filling and pinch the edges of both crust all around the pie. Make four slits on top of the crust and makes whatever fancy edges you wish around the crust. Cut out two-three leaves out of the crust and place on top of the crust.

Baste an egg wash (1 egg and 1 tlbs of water beaten) on top of the crust. Coat very well and then sprinkle top crust with raw sugar.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until top is nicely golden brown and juices are bubbling out the top slits.

Scones to the Rescue

This delightful recipes comes from Farmgirl (great blog, take a look). I made these this weekend and they were a huge hit around the house and they are so easy to whip up.

Farmgirl's Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones
Makes 8 large scones

2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese, softened in microwave 15-30 seconds (you want it very soft)
4 scallions (green onions), green & white parts, chopped
1 cup half&half or whole milk
1 egg

Optional Egg glaze:
Beat well with a fork:1 egg & 2 Tbsp. milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine 2-1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add cheeses & toss gently with a fork until combined. Add scallions & toss gently with a fork until combined.

Beat half & half (or milk) with egg and gently fold into dry ingredients, mixing lightly until a soft dough forms. Add up to 1/2 cup additional flour if the dough is too sticky.

On a floured surface, gently pat dough into a circle approximately 1-inch thick. The key to tender scones is to handle the dough with a light touch and as little as possible. With a sharp knife (I use a large serrated knife dipped in flour) cut the circle into 8 wedges and place them on a greased baking sheet. (I use a commercial grade half-size sheet pan.).

Brush tops and sides of scones with egg glaze if desired, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, or cool completely and refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container.

February 16, 2006

Squashing it Around

I love squash whether it's summer or fall squash. I grow a ton of it in my garden and freeze it so I can have it to cook with all year round.

Butternut squash is easily found in supermarkets. Beige colored and shaped like a vase, it's more watery and tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes. It has a bulbous end and pale, creamy skin, with a choice, fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor. It weighs from 2 to 5 pounds. The oranger the color, the riper, drier and sweeter the squash.

Winter squash matures on the vine and develops an inedible, thick, hard rind and tough seeds. Because this rind makes most squash difficult to peel, it's easier to cook the unpeeled squash, and then scoop out the cooked flesh. Wash the exterior of the squash just before using. The seeds are scooped out before or after cooking.

To cut in half, grasp the squash firmly and use a sharp knife to slice through to the center. Then flip and cut the other side until the squash falls open. Remove and discard the seeds.

To bake a whole (1 to 11/2 pound) winter squash, pierce the rind with a fork and bake in a 350-degree oven 45 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing with a fork.

Boil or steam quarters or rings 25 minutes or until tender.

To microwave, place halves or quarters, cut side down, in a shallow dish; add 1/4 cup water. Cover tightly and microwave on HIGH 6 minutes per pound.

All varieties are great for puréeing, roasting and baking. Once squash is cooked and mashed, it can be used in soups, main dishes, vegetable side dishes, even breads, muffins, custards and pies.

Boil or mash winter squash just as you would potatoes. Or add peeled squash cubes to your favorite soups, stews, beans, gratins and vegetable ragouts.

Dress any cooked winter squash with butter and herbs, a cream sauce, cheese sauce, maple syrup and nuts, marinara sauce or stewed fruit.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 tbs. butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth
½ c. honey
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 tsp. pepper

In large pot, melt butter, stir in onions and garlic. Cook and stir until browned (5 minutes). Stir in carrots and celery and cook until tender (5 minutes.) Stir in potatoes, squash, chicken broth, honey, and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Place mixture into a food processor and mix till smooth. Return pureed soup to pot and season with salt and pepper.

February 15, 2006

The Devil Has the Eggs

Delicious Deviled Eggs

6 hard cooked eggs
¼ c. mayo
½ tsp. parsley
½ tsp. mustard
¼ tsp. season salt

Slice eggs and remove yolks. Mash yolks with a fork and add ingredients and stir well. Spoon back into egg and sprinkle with paprika.

February 14, 2006

Let's Hear it for the Tarts

Need an easy and quick finger food for an upcoming luncheon or party? These tarts are the perfect fit. Made straight from my own kitchen..

Cheesy Onion Tarts
¾ c. ap flour
¼ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter cut up
2 tbsp. water

1 egg beaten
½ c. cream
½ c. cheddar cheese
3 scallions
½ tsp. salt

Making dough: Strain flour and salt and then cut butter into flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Stir in water to form a ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes., Roll out dough and stamp out 12 circles and line with shallow muffin pan.

Filling: Whish together, egg, cream, cheese, scallions, salt and cayenne. Pour filling into tart shells and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Use ready made pie dough to whip up these wonderful tarts in a snap.

February 13, 2006

Easy Does it Lasagna

Oh So Good Lasagna

1 lb. ground beef
3 cloves of garlic- minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. sweet basil
1 tsp. Oregano
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
4 (6 oz.) cans water
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz box lasagna

Meat Sauce:
In large skillet, brown ground beef. Add garlic, onion, seasonings, tomato paste and water. Simmer fro about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Cheese Sauce:
Mix together 2 (12 oz) small curd cottage cheese, 1 tsp. Parsley and 2 eggs. Grate 1 lb. Mozzarella cheese to top it with.

Lightly grease a large dish and spoon in enough meat sauce to cover bottom of a casserole dish. Top with lasagna; spread with meat sauce, sprinkle with cheese and repeat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.

February 9, 2006

A Great Start to the Morning

As I promised here is the pancake recipe. This is my grandmother's original recipe and these flapjacks are great. To me nothing says morning like good old homemade pancakes. Many people think that the out-of-the-box pancakes are easier, but this recipe is as easy as it gets (for all you always on the go mothers.)

Pancakes by Grandma Pat

2 c. ap flour
1 tsp. salt
5 tsp. baking powder
3 T. sugar
2 eggs
2 C. milk
1/3 C. oil

Sift dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and milk well. Pour in shortening. Add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until smooth.

Keep a small amount of oil in the skillet, before pouring pancake mixture. This makes a lot of pancakes, you can freeze what you don’t use and have them for another day.

I also like to add things like fresh fruit or chocolate chips every once in awhile.

February 7, 2006

Favorite Cooking Memories I

I am starting a new series to the blog. Each month I plan to share a favorite cooking memory of mine since I was a child. We all have special memories that come to mind when we think back about the first time we ever cooked with our mothers or even our spouses. I hope you enjoy some of mine own personal memories.

My First Breakfast in Bed
The first time I tried to make my parents breakfast in bed, boy was that a disaster, although at the time I didn’t think so. I was around 10 and I thought it would be fun to make my parents pancakes. Not out of the box pancakes, homemade ones just like I had watched my mother make a dozen times.

Needless to say when your 10 years old you think you can do anything, and I was no exception. As a youngster I was very determined and independent, which I’m sure my husband would still say that I am… I remember serving my parents these blackened flat pancakes that I had slathered with butter and drenched with syrup. I also made toast and eggs, which turned out ok. Seriously, they did! I remember watching my dad try the first piece as I was standing there grinning ear to ear, knowing that my flap jacks were going to be a hit.

The first bite dad turned to mom and said “Wow, these have a unique taste.”

“That’s the bacon grease I cooked them in,” I replied.

“Bacon grease,” dad asked.

“Well mom always puts in oil in the pan to cook with, so I thought that bacon grease would give it a different taste, I know how much you love bacon daddy,” I said.

“You’re right honey, these pancakes are very unique and you did such a great job,” dad said smiling.

Wow what I must have put my parents through that day. They ate all of their breakfast that morning. God love ‘em…

I don’t have children yet, but I know someday I’ll have a couple of kids that will probably cook my husband and me breakfast and I will be placed in the same place as I put my parents all those years ago. I hope that I can make them feel as proud and honored as they made me feel the day I served them breakfast in bed.

Check back tomorrow for these wonderful homemade pancakes from my mother.

February 3, 2006

Ginger and Bourbon Take the Cake

Ginger is one of my favorite spices to use everyday. Many don't realize it can be used for much more than just pumpkin pie and spice breads, plus the spice also plays a role in our health.

Ginger helps with motion sickness, indigestion and even appetite loss. Ginger has a spicy, peppery taste and aroma, and gives a sense of warmth when consumed. The spice is used fresh in Chinese and Indian meat and fish dishes, vegetables, beans, curries and stews. In Western cultures, it is used mostly as spice to flavor sweet preparations such as gingerbread, cookies, cakes, pies and pudding, and also to season some chicken dishes and meat stews.

You can purchase fresh ginger at most every grocery store. It can be stored for months in your refrigerator. I always freeze ginger root wrapped in plastic wrap and then placed in a freezer bag. With the spice frozen it makes it easy to grate it for any recipe.

This is a recipe I got from the Thanksgiving Edition of Martha Stewart's Magazine. This makes a wonderful main dessert piece at a special dinner. The cake is very rich and the sauce just tops off the delicious flavorings...

Chocolate-Ginger Cake with Bourbon Sauce

½ C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
½ C. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
½ C. molasses
¾ C. packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
¼ C. whole milk
2 tsp. finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 C. ap flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
Bourbon Sauce recipe follows

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch Bundt pan. Dust with cocoa powder, and tap out excess, set aside. Put butter, molasses, brown sugar, ¼ C. water in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter has melted. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Add eggs, milk, grated ginger to molasses mixture; whisk to combine. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and cinnamon into a medium bowl.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until just combined (There should be lumps remaining.) Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until a cake tester comes out clean when placed in the middle of cake, about 30 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Invert cake and unmold onto a cake stand or a large serving platter. Using a spoon drizzle the warm bourbon sauce over the cake in a back and forth motion. Serve immediately.

Bourbon Sauce
Makes 1 1/2 C.

½ C. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1 C. packed dark-brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla
¼ C. good-quality bourbon

Put butter, egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture registers 165 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.

Remove bowl of sauce and let set for 15 minutes. Drizzle the sauce in a back and forth motion around the cake.

February 1, 2006

Throw That Roll

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart, they go perfect with fish, pork, or beef.

Sour Cream-Thyme Rolls

½ C. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus 2 tbs. melted
¼ oz. active dry yeast
1 C. warm water
2 tbs. sugar
2 C. cake flour
2 C. ap flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 tbs. thyme
1 ½ C. sour cream

Stir yeast water and sugar and let stand until foamy (5 minutes). Stir until yeast dissolves.

Whisk together flours and salt in large bowl. Using a pastry blender cut butter until in resembles coarse meal. Stir in yeast. Stir in sour cream and thyme until combined.

Spoon into muffin tins. Cover with buttered plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Preheat over 400 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Then brush with butter and bake for another 17 minutes.