Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stuffed Pepper Soup

I debated at first calling this soup since I ended up serving it over mashed potatoes, but technically, it is a soup. I searched all over the internet for recipes and could only find ones that had sugar or brown sugar in them. I do not understand this ingredient at all. Sugar? Stuffed pepper soup? No thanks. I know how to make stuffed peppers - so the soup can't be much different than that.

So, here we go. This is my own recipe. Is it good? Well, let's just say, none of it went to waste!

Most of the recipes make enough soup to feed an army. This recipe makes about 5-6 quarts.

2 bell peppers, diced
1 pound lean ground meat
1 quart of chicken stock or beef broth (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 quart of tomato juice
3/4 cup tomato paste
1 shallot, diced
1/3 cup of brown rice, uncooked
olive oil

Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot. Add the diced shallot and ground beef and cook until the meat is browned. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the stock/broth, tomato juice, and tomato paste. Simmer until the tomato paste has been incorporated into the soup.

Add the diced bell peppers and simmer about 10 minutes. Add the uncooked brown rice and simmer until the rice is tender, approximately 30-40 minutes. The rice will thicken the soup and you can continue to simmer the soup until it's thick enough for your liking. I made mine pretty thick since I was going to spoon it over mashed potatoes.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

PW's Bolognase Sauce

Another rave for a recipe from Pioneer Woman. Actually, this is a recipe created by her friend, Pastor Ryan, but it was posted on her site.

I took this photo with my cell phone so it doesn't really show all of the yummy goodness. PW has a ton of pictures on her site. This was really easy to make and the flavor was outstanding! This is definitely going on my regular rotation!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fettuccine Alfredo

This recipe is not for the faint of heart, literally! It's rich, creamy, cheesy, and decadent. But - if you want fettucine alfredo, this is how it has to be done. No skimping here!

1 lb fettuccine
1/2 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 cups light cream or half and half
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon pepper
pinch of salt

Cook the fettuccine pasta according to package directions.

Melt the butter in a skillet and lightly saute the garlic. Do not brown the garlic. Add the cream/half and half mixture and bring to a simmer. Add the cheese and allow to melt. Add salt and pepper. Mix with the cooked (and drained) pasta.

I also topped mine with a grilled chicken breast. It was perfect!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dungeness Crab

When we lived in Philly, Josh's love for seafood was born. One of our friends introduced us to a little place called The Clam Tavern. It's such a great place. It's hidden away so well in a little neighborhood in Clifton Heights and has that quaint "crab shack" feel. Don't let the looks fool you though, the food is amazing! The steaks are juicy and tender and the seafood is fresh. Plus, on Wednesday nights, it's all-you-can-eat Dungeness Crab.

We just don't have a restaurant like that here in Pittsburgh. It's really sad. It's even more sad that to get semi-decent seafood, you have to dress up and pay an arm and a leg to get small portions and bad service.

What we do have is Wholey's Fish Market. What Wholey's doesn't have 99% of the time is Dungeness Crab....but they had it last Saturday. My heart nearly stopped. I bought 4 of 'em. Believe me, that was more than enough for the 2 of us.

Dungeness Crab
4 Dungeness Crabs
1 bottle of beer Old Bay Seasoning lemon wedges melted butter
Fill a large stock pot about 3/4 of the way full with water. Add the beer and several tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning. Bring the water to a boil.
Add the crabs
Boil for approximately 20 minutes.
Remove crabs from pot and clean.

What I did was:
Cut the crabs in half - right down the middle.
Remove the upper and lower shells, gills, and "mustard" (this is the yellow-green stuff inside the cavity of the crab.)

Once the crabs are cleaned - place into a large bowl and sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning.
Serve with lemon wedges and melted butter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Skillet Corn Bread

Homemade cornbread is so easy! Plus you can adjust it to how you like it...sweeter..not as's up to you. I flipped the cornbread over before taking this shot.

2 cups cornmeal (I used Masa Harina)

1/2 cup A/P flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tsp. salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk

1 small can of corn or creamed corn

Preheat oven and cast iron skillet to 400°F. Pour 1/4 cup oil into skillet when hot. Once the oil has coated the pan, pour out the excess oil.

Put all dry ingredients into a bowl.

Mix all wet ingredients together and then very gently stir into the dry. Don't be concerned with lumps. DO NOT overmix.

Pour immediately into very hot skillet. Then place back into oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fried Calamari - Yes, you can do it!

Don't you just love fried calamari? It seems so you can only get it in a restaurant and pay $10 for a small appetizer plate of it. Well...let me tell you, this stuff is cheap. I only paid $4 for a pound of 'tubes and tentacles'. Mmm....I just love the tentacles. They are so crispy.

Ingredients & Instructions
1 pound of fresh squid
1 cup of all purpose flour
5-6 tablespoons of creole seasoning
lemon wedges
vegetable oil (for frying)

Cut the squid tubes into rings. Cut off any cartilage that may be on the tentacles.
Mix the flour, salt, pepper, and creole seasoning.
Toss the squid into the flour mix and shake off excess.
Heat the oil to about 325 degrees.
Fry the squid for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool on a paper towel-lined plate.
Squeeze a bit of lemon on top of the calamari.
Serve with marinara sauce.

Ok. Stop panicking! Yes...this is what it looks like right out of the container. Think of the first time you ever handled raw chicken. Gross, right? But now, it's no big deal.

The tubes are whole and the tentacles are separated from the tube. Some of my tentacles had some cartilage attached to them and I just cut that off and got rid of it. Just slice up the tubes so you have little rings.

Toss the rings and tentacles in the flour mixture and fry. That's it! Just like frying veggies!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Homemade Pierogies

I love homemade pierogies. Unfortunately, I don't get them very often and came to the harsh reality that if I want them, I have to make them myself. It's really not hard at all, but it's rather time-consuming. It definitely helps to have a curious husband who wants to help out.

1 large egg
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup milk
1 cup water
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
5 pounds (about 10 medium) baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 ounces cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup) grated
6 ounces cream cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk egg. Add sour cream, and whisk until smooth. Add milk and water, and whisk until combined. Slowly add about 3 cups flour, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and work in about 1 cup flour as you knead. Use a plastic scraper to lift dough as it will stick to the counter before flour is worked in. Continue kneading for 8 to 10 minutes, working in another 1/2 cup flour. The dough should be elastic in texture and no longer sticky. Be careful not to add too much flour, as this will toughen dough. Place dough in a lightly floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rest while you prepare filling.

Make the filling: Place potatoes in a large pot, and cover with cold water. Add salt. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender. Drain and mash with a potato masher. Add 8 tablespoons melted butter and the cheeses, and continue to mash until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a glass or a cookie cutter measuring 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out as many circles as possible. Gather dough scraps together, roll them out again, and continue cutting.
Lay a dry, clean towel on work surface; set aside. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each dough circle. Holding a circle in your hand, fold dough over filling, and pinch the edges, forming a well-sealed crescent; transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Continue this process until all dough circles are filled.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Place pierogi in boiling water in batches. They will sink to the bottom of the pot and then rise to the top. Once they rise, let them cook for about a minute more. Meanwhile, In a small saucepan, cook remaining butter over medium-high heat until nut-brown in color, about 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and drizzle butter onto a serving platter, leaving any burned sediment behind. Remove pierogi from pot, and transfer to platter to prevent sticking. Serve immediately.

Now, I have a 2" biscuit cutter...which makes petite pierogies. This was not my intention at first, but they are perfectly bite-sized. I would recommend a 3" cutter for 'normal' sized pierogies.

Since they are so small, I used a teaspoon to measure the filling and then formed it into balls. Just fold the dough in half and seal with a fork.

Here they are in all their cuteness...ready for the freezer. I freeze them like this and then transfer them to a freezer bag when they are frozen through.

Josh had the brilliant idea to add some bacon that we had leftover from breakfast to the potato-cheese filling. Let me say, oh my god! What a great idea! With a little sour cream they were similar to stuffed potato skins. Yum!

I'm a reasonable gal, and I'll share my pieroghies with you...on one come to my house to eat them. They're like the Holy Grail...they can't cross the 'seal' ( doorway).

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

This was another appetizer I made for the NYE party. I think I could eat the entire bowl of it!

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
1 (8 ounce) package of 1/3 fat cream cheese
1/2 cup of sour cream (fat free)
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 box of frozen, chopped spinach (defrosted and towel-dried)
1 cup of mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and transfer to an 8x8 casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I then transferred it to a small crock pot to keep warm.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Dip

I made this as one of our New Year's Eve Party appetizers and it was a huge hit! This is my recipe and I added a bit more hot sauce than the usual recipe.

2 (10 ounce) cans chicken
2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
1 cup hot sauce (I use Frank's)
1 cup ranch dressing
2 cups cheddar cheese
2 loaves baguette
Drain canned chicken and put in medium sauce pan.
Add hot sauce and cook on medium until heated throughout. My personal favorite is Frank's hot sauce.
Add cream cheese and stir until blended thoroughly.
Add ranch dressing and mix.
Add 1-1/2 cups of cheddar cheese and heat for a few minutes until mixed and melted.
Pour the dip into the crock pot and sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on the top. Keep heated on low.
I serve on baguette that has been sliced and toasted. However, it is also tasty on corn chips or celery sticks.