Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Most Delicious Sandwich!


    Last night was an adventure in reinventing! I was looking for something I could make for dinner that wouldn't heat up the house, when I came across an idea for an open-face sandwich. I decided to put my own twist on it and set to work whipping up a batch of homemade ricotta (Cover it an let it rest on the counter for the day. The result is a tangy, warm cheese) to go on the sandwiches. Here's my Grilled Open-Face Sandwich:

Sourdough Bread (leftover from Sunday's dinner)- Lightly coat with Extra Virgin Olive Oil on one side and place oil side down on a hot grill.
Sirloin Steak- Cut into strips. Season with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, coarse salt and fresh-ground pepper; place on the grill until cooked through (about 3 minutes per side).
Zucchini (just plucked from the garden)- Trim off both ends and cut lengthwise into thick slices. Brush each side with Extra Virgin Olive Oil; sprinkle one side with coarse salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Grill 4 minutes per side.

  Assemble: Spread a generous amount of fresh ricotta on the oiled and toasted side of each slice of bread. Lay strips of steak across the top; top with a slice of zucchini. Serve immediately (I served it with boiled new potatoes that I seasoned with butter, salt, pepper and fresh Italian Parsley).

  I decided that for appearance sake, as well as ease in eating, I would slice the steak into one long slice for each sandwich instead of individual strips.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How To: Cook An Artichoke

  I realized the other day, that although I was taught how to cook artichokes in my early teens, it might not be something everyone is familiar with. So, here I am to help.

  The first trick is to pick artichokes that are a vibrant green color with leaves of similar size all the way around.
  Next, remove the stem with a very sharp knife and the bottom row of leaves. Cut the tips off the top of the artichoke as shown in the picture above. Rinse the artichoke very well under cold water, carefully pulling the center leaves apart as you do (this ensures the center of the artichoke cooks well).
  Fill a large pot, fitted with a steamer basket, with 4 inches of water; add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring water to boil over high heat.
  Place the artichoke in the steamer basket of the pot, cover with a lid and steam 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender.
  Serve with clarified butter or hollandaise.

Baked Eggs


  I came across this recipe a while back and filed it away in my brain under "recipes I want to try" (it's quite an extensive collection). I got the chance to try it last night and loved it! My husband's comment was "it's really good when I get a bite with lot's of bacon in it", so my guess is he wasn't as big a fan. I had a bit of a hard time deciding how long to cook them so the egg would be to my liking. What I decided was that they either needed to cook at 550 degrees on the top oven rack for 15 minutes or so, or on the middle rack under the broiler for 5-8 minutes. 
  Again, I thought they were absolutely delicious! Maybe a little too rich for breakfast, but perfect for dinner!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

102 New Uses For Kitchen Items


  I received an e-mail today with a link to 102 new uses for everyday kitchen items and thought I'd share. I've gotten through about half of them so far. One of my favorite suggestions is to remove the lid from your cooked rice, just after the cooking time has completed, place a clean dishcloth over the pan and replace the lid. This allows the cloth to absorb any excess moisture in the rice, leaving it fluffy instead of a sticky pile of mush.

Swedish Meatballs


  I have been trying out Swedish Meatball recipes in search of a recipe that's quick and delicious. I just found it! I used my cookie scoop to make the meatballs and simply dropped them right into the pan of butter. I would suggest cutting the salt in the meatballs to about 1/2 teaspoon, (they were quite salty) and I cut the allspice down to about 1/8 teaspoon. Also, I did not have the red currant jelly the recipe called for so I simply omitted it, but I think it would have given the sauce just the right amount of sweet, helping to cut some of the richness of the cream. I served the meatballs and sauce over white rice, but I'm sure brown rice would be tasty as well. 
  Delicious! ...and so quick and easy!

(Sorry I don't have pictures, I was time-crunched for a class I was teaching last night. Just goes to show how quick they were to prepare.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Breakfast Treat Sure To Disappear!


  If you've been following this blog for long, you know how much I love breakfast food. This recipe is for a treat I had long forgotten about, but recently remembered while having one of my sisters stay with us. I like to make these as a side to scrambled eggs so I can feel better about eating one (or two, or three) of them.

Vanishing Breakfast Rolls

1 container refrigerator biscuits
1 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
8 marshmallows

  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  Flatten each of the biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Roll marshmallows in melted butter, then cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place a marshmallow in the center of each biscuit; pull ends of dough up around the marshmallow and seal tight (if you don't seal it very well, the marshmallow will ooze out of the biscuit and you will lose the effect); do not get sugar on edges of biscuit or it will not seal.
  Place in oven and bake 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.

  I had a blast making these with my children over the weekend. Imagine their surprise when they bit into their biscuit to find the marshmallow had "vanished"!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Apple Zeppole & Serious Vanilla Ice Cream


  I was itchin' for a "family night" treat yesterday and decided to get ambitious and make this Apple Zeppole and Serious Vanilla Ice Cream. First I will say, both recipes are incredibly delicious. Just a few tips though, on the Zeppole:
-Use a tart apple like a golden delicious or granny smith; it will bring out the flavor of the apple more.
-I added some incredible Saigon Cinnamon my sister found me to the batter with delicious results. (If you ever have the chance to try Saigon Cinnamon, do! You know how cinnamon typical has that woodsy smell and taste until added to something? Saigon Cinnamon tastes sweet all on its own, and has a phenomenal smell. -She found it at her Costco...but she lives in San Antonio.)
-Keep the temperature of your oil closer to 300 degrees. These need to cook at a lower temperature, longer, so the insides are not gooey.
-I served the Zeppole dusted with powdered sugar along-side my ice cream, but I imagine the whipped cream would be tasty as well (especially if I used my Saigon Cinnamon).

  You're probably wondering just how in the world you're going to be able to afford to make the ice cream when vanilla beans average $11/bottle in the supermarket and you only get two beans, so I'm going to share my secret. About a month ago I decided I was tired of missing out on all those recipes calling for vanilla beans because I simply couldn't afford to buy them. Besides that, what if the recipe turned out awful? Then I'd just spent five bucks on a bean to throw it in the garbage! So, I got on Amazon and started looking around. To my utter amazement I was able to find packages of vanilla beans that averaged .41/bean (yes, you read that right)! Of course, how could I ever use a package of 54 beans (that's the size they came in to get that price) before they were no longer as fresh? I hit up my sis and the two of us split a package. Now, we're on this vanilla bean kick together and lovin' it!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dutch-Oven Potatoes


  One of my absolute favorite ways to cook is dutch-oven. I love the flavor the dutch-oven gives to food. Dutch-oven potatoes are a particular favorite in this house. I have a feet-less dutch-oven that is great for using in a conventional oven so, of course, I use it a lot. I don't follow a recipe when making dutch-oven potatoes, so I'm going to try to break it down for you.

Dutch-Oven Potatoes

4-6 medium potatoes, washed and sliced thin (Depending on the size of your dutch-oven. For this recipe I use an "8".)
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1/4 lb. bacon
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 c. milk
2 c. shredded cheese (or more if you like it really cheesy)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup 7Up

  Place dutch-oven over medium heat; add bacon and brown. Remove bacon from dutch-oven, leaving bacon fat in the pan; crumble bacon.
  Combine cream of mushroom soup and milk in a small bowl; add about 1/2-1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  Place a layer of potatoes (about 1/3 of the total slices) in bacon fat in the bottom of the dutch-oven. Cover with 1/3 of the onions, bacon and cream of mushroom soup mixture (in that order). Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over top. Repeat this process. Cover with final layer of potatoes, onions, bacon and cream of mushroom soup mixture. Pour 1/4 cup 7Up over the top. Cover dutch-oven with the lid.
   Bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes-1 hour, or until potatoes are tender. Alternatively place dutch-oven over 12 white-hot coals and place 14 white hot coals on top; bake 45 minutes-1 hour, or until potatoes are tender. Remove lid and cover with remaining 1 cup cheese; replace lid and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and beginning to bubble.

Note: Never wash a dutch-oven with soap. When a dutch-oven is well-seasoned you shouldn't have a problem with anything sticking. Once you put soap in it, it will have to be re-seasoned. Dutch-ovens have a fantastic quality of flavoring your food, without absorbing the flavor of the food. Simply wash your dutch-oven out with very hot water. Also, place a folded up paper towel in the lid to keep it ajar for storing.

Red Pear-Blackberry Crisp


  This recipe is one of my all-time favorites. I received the original recipe from a family friend many years ago, and it is my "go-to" for dutch-oven dinners and entertaining large groups because there's hardly any prep involved and the recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled (you get the idea). Plus, it's just plain delicious!

Fruit Crisp

6 c. fruit-peaches, pears, apples, assorted berries (I used red pears and blackberries for this one)
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (I leave it out when I make a crisp that has berries in it.)
3 tbsp. cornstarch

  Combine above ingredients and place in a casserole dish (or dutch-oven).

Combine the following and sprinkle over fruit:
1 c. brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted
1 c. flour
1 c. oats
1/2 tsp. salt
  Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour, or in dutch-oven with hot coals accordingly.

I am taking this to a dinner we were invited to, otherwise I would post pictures of it once it's baked.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


  I decided to try my hand at homemade hamburger buns today. I have now decided that if at all possible I will never purchase store-bought buns again. The crust was flaky with a chewy inside and the bun held up well with the burger and all the juicy toppings. The other fantastic thing about them is just how easy they were to make (no more difficult than any other kind of rolls or bread).
  These are a "must try".
Five of the dozen rolls this recipe makes. And, once again, the picture doesn't do them justice.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Quick Blurb


 I thought I'd do this quick post for those who have ever thought about participating in a co-op, but aren't sure how it works or how to get started. I participate in "Bountiful Baskets". I have always liked how smoothly it's run and how fresh the produce is. I personally have never purchased the bread, but my sister-in-law swears by it and loves that a slice is only one "point" on Weight Watchers. Here's the link to the website and here's a link to the information they have for new participants; they have drop-offs all across the country now (when I started there was only drop-offs in Utah).

  You'll notice there are two baskets side-by-side, both are yours for just $15 (plus $1.50 handling fee)! Here's what was included in today's basket:
2 lb. red grapes
1 1/3 lb. broccoli
1 1/2 lb. carrots
2 lb. nectarines
3/4 lb. head lettuce
1/2 lb. red chard
3 (4 1/2 lb. total weight) butternut squash
4 1/3 lb. canary melon (This is a new one for me. Looking forward to trying it)
3/4 lb. tomatoes
3 lb. bananas
2 lb. red pears

  My retail price estimate (if I were to wait and purchase each of these items only at their best possible sale price) was about $25. That's a $10 savings!
  If you have any additional questions about this co-op or co-ops in general, leave me a comment.