Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blue Cheese Chips

One of the many reasons I love having Tapas Night is that I get to try making new recipes.   And sometimes I'm not so sure about a recipe so I will make a tried and true recipe and then sneak add the new one onto the table when no one is watching. 

Naw, I just like trying new stuff.    And have no qualms about trying something and sharing it with a couple or three dozen of my friends.  

That was the case this past weekend.   I made a batch of Racetrack Chicken Casserole, sans casserole, and served it with some flour tortillas so people could make their own 'chicken taco wrap'.   I also tried a new recipe.  giggle

Kettle Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Sauce.   And they were OMG GOOD!!!!   OK, so if you don't like Blue Cheese, you would not have liked them.  But I love Blue Cheese and Sharp Cheddar Cheese and onions anyway.   I found the recipe here at Will Cook For Smiles.  

1/4 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Stock (I used skim milk in place of the stock, I think it would have been better with stock, but I didn't have any veggie stock made and I wanted this to be vegetarian friendly)
 6 oz.  2 % White Sharp Cheddar, shredded  (I could not find a white one, so I used what I could get here which was a yellow cheddar)
1/4 cup Blue Cheese crumbs (I had a lovely Danablu cheese in the freezer that I used, but it was almost too strong)
1 bag, 8.5 oz Kettle Chips, if you can get the rippled ones, great, but I used the regular just plain salted
2 chopped green onions, white and green parts
2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbs, for topping.

Mix together the cream, stock, blue cheese and cheddar cheese together over low heat until the cheese has melted.   Set aside. 

Turn broiler element on in your oven.
Place one layer of chips on an oven safe dish and then pour half the cheese sauce over the chips, put another layer of chips on top of them, and top with the remaining cheese sauce.   Sprinkle with the reserved blue cheese crumbles and place under broiler, just until the cheese melts.   Take out of oven and sprinkle the green onions on top and serve immediately.   

This was very good, and in fact I like the sauce so much, I think I'll make some up and serve it with some baked potatoes sometime.


Hmmmm,  I think I have the theme for a party, we'll do baked potatoes, and serve them with lots of toppings.    Gotta wait til cooler weather comes again, but I will remember this idea.


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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Curry Chicken and Rice

A long time ago, in a country far away, a little girl tasted this dish for the first time and loved it.

Curry Chicken and Rice
Sorry, couldn't resist this.   But, it's true.

Many years ago my older sister had a neighbor who taught her how to make this dish, and I'm sure many others as well, but this is the one my sister taught my mother to make.   And it turned out to be one of those dishes that was surprisingly portable in the era before crock pots, and one that we all liked.   I remember having this at a picnic once, the pot had been wrapped in a quilt and placed in the trunk of the car.   When we got to our picnic spot, it was still hot and yummy.   Nowadays, we'd stick it in a crock pot and bring it along, but there weren't such niceties 30 + years ago.

 In the intervening years my sisters have gone on to make many other Indian dishes, but I've stuck with this particular one.   It's the one I make when I'm going to be alone for a few days, it's my go-to curry dish, and one that one of my dogs absolutely loved.  Yes, she did, and the hotter the better.   And how do I know this?  Well, one night many years ago, I was all alone and made up some Curry for dinner.    My dog came over and was sniffing at me, and pointedly not begging.   So I let her have a taste.  I already knew she loved Chile Verde (and I only gave her a bite or two) and she liked spicy food.   So I gave her a taste of the chicken, thinking gee, she'll spit it out and then I can eat the rest of this in peace.   No such luck, Mauli ate her bite of chicken, and then begged for more.  So we ate Curry Chicken and Rice together.  Luckily there were no after effects, other than I had to share.  From then on, every time I made it, she and I would eat our curry together.  She passed away this spring at the age of 15 1/2, which I consider a venerable age for a large dog. 

I brought this to a potluck awhile back, and it all got eaten.   It's really easy, only a few ingredients and it tastes wonderful.    You can make it as hot as you like or as mild.   Personally, I'm all for hot, but you know that, if you've read any of this blog before.     I usually only make Curry Chicken and Rice when I'm alone, mainly cause I'm the only one in the household who eats it.  

For the Curry Chicken and Rice you need onions, chicken, curry powder, some ghee if you have it, or just some olive oil and butter.
Start by cutting the onions in half, and then slicing them again.  I like them cut like this, but you can also make them into rings.







Set aside for a few minutes until you can have a chance to wipe your eyes and stop the tears.   (Just kidding).   Of course this is absolutely fantastic with Vidalia or other sweet onions as well. 

Put a heavy pot on the stove and place some butter and olive oil into it.   The olive oil will keep the butter from burning at a higher temp.   If you have some ghee made, you can skip the olive oil, if you like.   Ghee is clarified butter, and can withstand a higher heat than regular butter can.   It's the milk solids in the butter that turn brown and can become bitter and taste burnt.
Curry Chicken and Rice Dump the sliced onions in the pot, and cook until just translucent or a little beyond.  I do like a bit that bit of caramelization and the sweetness that the onions produce.

Add the chicken pieces and brown them a little.  You do want them to have a nice brown on them, but don't want them too dark.     Add about a tablespoon of curry powder, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground salt and stir together.   At this point I put a lid on the pot, and let it cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for about an hour.   Check the chicken, and taste a little of the onion, at this point you can add more curry powder and correct the seasonings.    I usually add more curry powder and salt here.   The chicken should be nice and tender now.   The onion will have cooked down to the point that you may not really see it, but it adds a wonderful sweetness which offsets the curry.

Curry Chicken and RiceMeasure out your rice, add it to the pot with enough water to cook it, taking into account that there is some liquid already in the pot.   Cover it and let it cook for another 20 minutes or so.   Take the lid off, give it a stir and if there is still some liquid, leave the lid off for a few minutes, and let it cook off.   Go ahead and taste again at this point, sometimes you need a little more salt and curry, OK, so I always add more curry.  Stir it at this point, just in case some of the chicken has stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Serve and enjoy. 

yield: 4 Servingsprint recipe

Curry Chicken and Rice

prep time: 30 MINScook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 hours and 30 mins

INGREDIENTS:


  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, or package of chicken already cut up.
  • 3-4 onions, cut into slices (I like onions and wouldn't use less than 2 in this recipe)
  • 1/4 cup butter or ghee and olive oil for browning
  • 1 cup uncooked rice (I like Uncle Ben's Converted Rice, it holds up well).
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-2 tsp Curry powder to taste, mixture of hot and mild
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt

INSTRUCTIONS:


  1. Heat olive oil and butter and place the sliced onions in the pan, stir until the onion starts to cook a little, add the chicken, and brown it. Turn down the heat, place a lid on the pot and let it simmer for about an hour. Add rice and sufficient water to cook the rice and cover the pot, let cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Taste to correct seasoning, adding more curry or salt if needed.  Serve and enjoy.
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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tapas for May

We had our monthly Tapas Night last night and despite it being the Memorial Day weekend, we still had a few people come and the food offerings were all over the place.   Which is the fun part of Tapas night, seeing what people make and bring.  

And my camera malfunctioned, OK, so it was the person operating the camera and I managed to take a couple of pictures that were so blurry I had trouble making out what it was I took the original picture of.   One of which was a potato salad which had a nice little bite to it courtesy of some Cholula sauce.   I just love it when I get great ideas like that.   The salad was presented in a beautiful wooden bowl, but as I said, I have no idea how, but the picture was BLURRY.  I know, it was all the camera's fault, not the operator.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

 Black Bean Dip and Chips.   Very good.  And as you can see on the plate, I got pictures after several people had already sampled this dip, and yes, I was one of them.
 Fruit, and gotta say there was not much left at the end of the night.


Stuffed Jalapeno's and they were very good and disappeared rapidly.    I did manage to snag and taste one before they all were eaten.
 This is the Racetrack Casserole (Chicken Tortilla Casserole) dish I made a while ago and we decided it would be great as Chicken Taco fillings and we were right. 




To the left is the Blue Cheese Chips I made and I will share the recipe later on.  You know I have to try at least one new recipe per gathering. 
 A coleslaw with kidney beans, and it was very good.   A little different, but that's the fun part of having Tapas night, we get to try new stuff.
 I had made some Rye Bread earlier in the week and had some really good Pickled Herring in the fridge so, gee, the Danish side of me came out.   I still have a few pieces of herring left and some of the bread.   I see a nice cold glass of Aquavit and a Carlsburg beer for lunch along with the herring. giggle
 Haricot Verts with Black Sesame seeds.  I had a couple of servings of this.  And Harriet was generous enough to share the recipe.   So, I'll share it here.  She parcooked the beans, then added some Tahini paste, a little chile oil along with some sesame seed oil, and the black sesame seeds.  And topped it with some toasted almonds.   I am so going to make this for myself. 
 Couscous Salad filled with tomatoes, and Feta and Kalamata olives and other great stuff.   I do love Salads like this.
 A quinoa salad on one side and some chicken salad on the other side.   Very nice, and I don't know who brought this dish.  








Below some smoked fish dip and you would not believe how good it tasted on the home made rye bread.
 Can't forget dessert, some awesome brownies were brought and enjoyed.
 Cookies are always popular.
This was a Lemon bread pudding made with some sourdough bread and some gluten free bread and topped with raspberry sauce.  Yummy.












I have to say, with the variety of foods brought, if you couldn't find something to eat, it was your problem, just kidding.  

I love having Tapas Night, I get to visit with people, manage to meet new people every month and I get to make fun foods.   It's just a win/win/win situation.  


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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Charamel Cokolat Cheesecake Bites

I do need to make a disclaimer here, right off of the bat, or would that be the tip of the spoon?  

I attend a weekly gathering of ladies called NPA.    I just started joining them at the weekly gatherings last year, but once a year they do a fundraiser for a local organization.   This year the organization is Refuge House, a safe house for women and children.   And this was their 12th anniversary as well. 

As you may have gathered by now, I like to cook, and make stuff for other people to eat.  Well, this fundraiser  was a good excuse to make something new.   And the name of this new recipe, was suggested by one of the other ladies, she had ordered a Caramel Chocolate cheesecake for dessert and mispronounced the name.   

I took the name she'd said and ran with it.

 Not too far, just far enough.

 And if you get offended easily, you might not want to look at the pictures at the end of this post.  Just warning you.   It is just slightly risque'.  Sorta...

And here's my take on it, the name that is.

I knew I wanted a chocolate crust, so I took a package of chocolate wafers I just happened to have in the cupboard and crushed them up in my food processor.

I had decided to line a tart pan with the chocolate crumbs and then put a prepared cheesecake in the middle and cut it into slices and serve them that way.  Well, I also wanted to get some caramel in there as well, so I made  some homemade caramel  and drizzled it onto the chocolate crust and put them into the fridge to set up.  I had actually made two pans, luckily.   And I say that because I just had to taste test them and see how they would slice up.   Well, I took the small round one out of the fridge, put some cheesecake filling in there and sliced it.  Well, kinda sliced it.

The caramel I'd drizzled across the crust had set up so hard I couldn't hardly cut it.  And it kinda crumbled all over the place, but that was OK, cause I fixed it.   I took the caramel off of the other crust, and then added some vanilla wafers and butter to the crust and put them into foil cupcake liners.

 I did put a vanilla wafer in the bottom of the liner first and then put the chocolate around them.   Put then into the fridge and let them set up.

I then took some of the lovely, hardened caramel I'd just made and decided to make a caramel sauce out of it.    I did taste test it.  And it turned out very good, but there was enough left to drizzle on top of the cheesecakes, I didn't eat it all.   I'm just not a chocolate person, but caramel, well, gee, ummm, I have  really hard time saying no to that.

I poured about 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk into the top of a double boiler, added another 1/4 cup or so of heavy cream and then plunked in a heaping spoonful of the homemade caramel.   Just over a half cup, I think.   Heated it slowly until the caramel melted into the milks' and then poured it into a pitcher and let it cool.   I have to say OMG!!!!!!  it is so good.   I see a big caramel sundae in my immediate future, sorry, got side tracked there.   









                Alert. the next picture shows the fully decorated cheesecakes.  











I drizzled a little of the sauce onto the top of the cheesecakes and then decorated them with these.

And I made these by heating 2 tablespoons heavy cream in the microwave and then adding two squares of semi sweet chocolate and let the chocolate melt in the cream.   Let it sit for a little to set up a little, this is a ganache after all, and then put it into a piping bag and made these guys.   I let them sit in the freezer for a few hours while the rest of the cheesecake got put together. 






And there you have it.   We raised a nice bit of cash for people who need it and had fun doing it.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stuffed Jalapeno's

Everyone has one, and this is mine.   My fall back, go to, can't think of what else to make potluck dish.   

I actually had this recipe on my other blog, but I'm slowly (very slowly) turning that blog into my photo blog so I wanted to get this recipe over here and share it again.  Besides which my Jalapeno bush has a few jalapeno's on it and my mind keeps thinking of all the great eating ahead.  All I can say about that is, the pressure is on for my little plant.
Just don't tell it, OK?
 
Stuffed Jalapeno's are easy to prepare, pretty to look at, and yummy to eat. 

Here goes;

Start with some nice fresh jalapeno's, give them a bath. 
See the pretty red ones mixed in with the green ones.  









You then need to cut them in two, length wise and remove the seeds and membranes.  And please, please, please remember to use a glove.   I keep one on my left hand as I am right handed, and this means I can handle the jalapeno's without fear of getting jalapeno juice on my hand and from there to the eyes or other sensitive places.












Pile them up in a pan;










Now prepare the filling;
Cooked sausage and cream cheese

Smoosh them together, (check out the glove, more about it later),
Stuff the peppers, then add a slice of cheese on top,  and put them in the oven.
Pull them out after a half hour or so and enjoy;

Here's the full recipe:


Stuffed Jalapeno's

1-2 8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 to 1.5 lb. Sausage, fried ( I use a good flavoured sausage, you can amp it up by using a hot sausage if you like)
Jalapeno's (15 - 20 or ...)  And if I can find some that are red along with the green, I get them.  Makes for a pretty presentation. 
Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese  for topping.  Use whatever kind you like, or do as I do and use Colby Jack cheese.  But only for those people who have trouble deciding which one they want.  
1 pair disposable gloves.

Start by putting on a pair of disposable gloves, or at least one glove, the one you will be handling the jalapeno's with. I usually just glove my left hand because I'm right handed. Trust me on this, you won't be sorry. Jalapeno's can be downright spiteful and nasty if you happen to rub a sensitive part of yourself if you haven't protected your hand from the jalapeno juice.  I know I just repeated myself, but it bears repeating, repeatedly.  Did that make sense? 

Cut Jalapeno's in half and remove seeds and the membrane inside. Set aside.
Fry the sausage up, breaking it up a little, drain and set aside to cool.
Dump the cream cheese into a bowl and then put the cooled sausage on top and smoosh it all together. (I've found that if I use the other glove for this, it makes for a quicker cleanup. And no messy fingers. )
Fill the jalapeno's with about a tablespoon or so of the cream cheese/sausage mixture and place in a baking pan. When they are all filled, add a piece of cheese on top and put it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at about 325 deg. Take them out of the oven, put on a serving dish and put them on the table. I would advise standing back at this point, as they tend to disappear.   You can also par cook the jalapeno's for a couple of minutes in the microwave, just means you don't need to put them in the oven for as long.  And in the summer, that's a good thing.

Best part of this, if you end up with more filling than jalapeno's (it has been known to happen), just stick it in the freezer and use up the next time. Same goes with jalapeno's, you can stick them in the freezer after prep and use them up later on. Or just throw the leftover jalapeno's into some other dish you need some heat in.

There are no exact measurements, roughly one pound sausage to 2 packages cream cheese to about 15 or 20 jalapeno's, I think. I usually figure on about 2-3 per person, but that can vary as well.
Most important of all, enjoy.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chicken Jalapeno Rollups

OK, found it.

The recipe I wanted to make for Taste and Create this month.   And guess what?  Yup it has Jalapeno's in it.  Really, this month should be dedicated to Tex Mex/Mexican inspired food.

Nah, I just like spicy foods.


I was asked to join a group of bloggers called Taste and Create awhile back.  Min assigns us each a blog, and we are tasked to make a recipe from that blog, and blog about it.   This month I got No Reason Needed, and got lost in her blog, really, I went from one recipe to another and finally found 'The Recipe' to make. Chicken Jalapeno Rollups 

Chicken Jalapeno Rollups
But she does have a bunch more recipes that I want to check out.   And when I do, I'll tell you all about them.  
 
  I also attend a weekly get together with a lovely group of ladies and we talk, and nosh and generally enjoy ourselves.   One of the things we do each week is bring a little something to nibble on.  This could be as simple as chips and dip, although Hummus in various forms are always a big hit.  But I wanted to try this recipe and TA DA, I had the perfect venue for it.     So I made a double batch, thinking that I could share it later on, but there were very few leftovers.   Someone called them downright more'ish and I think they were right.  

First off, I think this is the first time I've ever purchased Pillsbury Crescent roll dough.  Really, it is.  I much prefer to make my own stuff from scratch.  Well, with the exception of beans, never have gotten the hang of cooking beans without that little hard center.

So here it is.   I had some leftover cooked chicken breast in the freezer from making some Pepper Jack Enchilada's earlier in the week, and decided that they would be perfect for this.  And I always have Jalapeno's on hand, either frozen or 'en escabeche', just cause you never know when you'll need some.   Wait a minute, I had all this stuff in my fridge and freezer with the exception of the Crescent dough, cool, I was prepared.

Chicken Jalapeno Rollups

4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (very important, trust me on this)
1/2 cup chopped, cooked chicken
2-3 tablespoons minced jalapeno's  (from a jar)(I also added in two or three pieces of the pickled carrot that came with my jalapeno's en escabeche)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped green onions (I used two onions)
1 can Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough

Mix together all the ingredients other than the dough.
Chicken Jalapeno Rollups



Chicken Jalapeno Rollups
Then unroll the dough, and pinch together the serrations a little.  I found this was a lot easier to roll out when I actually separated the pieces a little.   You can see where I cut it.

Divide the filling into two equal parts, then divide again, if doubling the recipe like I did.  Just makes it a little easier to get even amounts of filling onto the dough.
Chicken Jalapeno Rollups
 Look at the little bits of carrot in there, don't they look pretty?   Sorry, couldn't resist a closeup of the filling on the dough.
Spread out the filling a little and then roll them up, lengthwise.
Chicken Jalapeno Rollups


And I did not get a picture of the next process, but I cut each log in half and then in half again, and finally in half again.   This gave me 16 pieces from each of the two pieces of dough that were in the can.  Which if you count them, means you get 32 pieces from each recipe.
Chicken Jalapeno Rollups
Ready to bake.   I love to use parchment paper for baking things like this, so much easier to clean up later on.    And the next time I make these, I will actually refrigerate the logs for a little while to firm up the filling a little, I think it would make it easier to cut and also eliminate the slightly drunken look that these unbaked bits of goodies got.    Just saying...

And before I forget, you need to bake these in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.   Never hurts to pull one out a little early and taste test either, I mean you do want to make sure they're done, doncha?


Chicken Jalapeno Rollups

Chicken Jalapeno Rollups

 I will make something like this again, but you know I was thinking, some nice smoked salmon, a little cream cheese, some dill, might make for a very tasty bite.

And you know if I make them that way, you'll hear about it.  

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Æbleflæsk (apples and onions cooked with bacon)

Æbleflæsk (Apple with Pork)
Æbleflæsk (Apple with Pork)
Looks good enough to eat.   (and it disappeared minutes later)
I'm going back to my Danish roots again. Mainly because I managed to score some really awesome bacon the other day, and had some apples that needed to be eaten or cooked or something. And I also had some lovely Vidalia onions in the cupboard/pantry and being Danish they all added up to one dish, Æbleflæsk.



Danes are known for eating well.   Not much was wasted on a farm, and housewives often put together what they had on hand for a meal.   Rye Bread was, and is, a staple, and there are many open face sandwiches which have Rye Bread as a base.    I made another dish awhile back which employed cabbage and bacon (Brunkål med Flæsk) on top of a slice of Rye Bread,  and this dish is just as good, but in a slightly different way.

Only four ingredients, but totally sublime together. And served on a nice piece of Rye Bread, heaven.
Don't discount the combination, the apples and onions carmelize together and with the smokiness of bacon, become totally sweet. I have to say I add onion to my Æbleflæsk, I really don't know how traditional this is, but I love onions and apples cooked together and when you add pork, especially good bacon, it's out of this world.
Start by frying up a couple slices of good, meaty bacon, you really don't need more than a couple or three slices per person.

While they are frying, cut up an onion into slices. I usually just cut the onion in half lengthwise and then slice it from there. Set aside, and wash, core and slice an apple.
Note to self:  Take stickers off apples before photo session.
Apples and onions, oh my.   Yum.

Remove the cooked bacon from the pan, set aside. Drain most of the bacon fat from the pan and reserve it for another use. Next add the apple and onions and let them cook together over low heat, until they soften, then turn the heat up a little, and finish cooking.
Apples, onions and bacon in the pan.

I like my apples and onions to get some color to them. I also like the bacon cooked together with the apple and onion   Add the reserved bacon back into the pan, and cook for a few more minutes. Serve on a piece of good rye bread, the denser the better. This is a sandwich which is meant to be served open faced and eaten with a knife and fork.
Looks good enough to eat.   (and it disappeared minutes later)

Go ahead and try this, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. The smoky flavor of the bacon enhances the caramelized apples and onion and  puts this over the top.  


yield: 2 servingsprint recipe

Æbleflæsk (apples and onions cooked with bacon)

prep time: 5 MINScook time:  15 MINStotal time: 20 mins
Only three ingredients make up this dish. Usually served hot on a piece of rye bread, this makes for a satisfying lunch or light dinner, or just because.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • 1-2 sweet onions
  • 4-6 slices of meaty bacon

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Start by frying up the bacon. 
  2. While they are frying, cut up an onion into slices. I usually just cut the onion in half lengthwise and then slice it from there. Set aside, and wash, core and slice the apples. 
  3.  Remove the cooked bacon from the pan, set aside. Drain most of the bacon fat from the pan and reserve it for another use. 
  4. Next add the apple and onions and let them cook together over low heat, until they soften, then turn the heat up a little, and finish cooking. 
  5. Add the reserved bacon back into the pan, and cook for a few more minutes. Serve on a piece of good rye bread, the denser the better. This is a sandwich which is meant to be served open faced and eaten with a knife and fork. 
  6. * You can also make this vegetarian by omitting the bacon and cooking the onion and apple in some olive oil. Not only would it be meat free, it would also be a lot more heart healthy. I've done it like this many times. And apart from the tsp. of olive oil, it's also pretty fat free. Onions and apples aren't high in calories, and their health benefits prepared with olive oil, well, let's put it this way, it's all good for you that way.
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