Monday, October 28, 2013

Biksemad

 What do you make when you've got a little bit of leftover steak, a couple of leftover potatoes, and it's not quite enough for dinner?  Well, if you're Danish you make Biksemad. I think in english it's called Hash, but I like the name Biksemad better. This is the dish my mom would make from leftover potatoes and roast. A lot of the time she'd cook a couple of extra potatoes, which just helped to stretch the meat out a little more. And when you top this with a fried egg, I can't think of a better way to eat leftovers and have them be a totally satisfying meal. I have to admit, I sometimes just boil an extra potato so that I can make this for lunch the next day or even for breakfast. One of the best things about this is that you can also use up bits and pieces of leftover veggies as well. I've made this with some leftover cauliflower, beans and also carrots. It's really good with a little leftover onion as well. The permutations are endless, just depends on how what you have and what you want to eat.
To start with, cut your leftover potatoes in slices and then halve them again.   Do the same thing with the leftover meat.   Keep them roughly equal in size.   

Heat a little oil and butter in a fry pan til hot, then add the potatoes, and let them cook til they brown up a little, then add the meat.    Season with a little salt and pepper at this point.  
 
 Let them cook together until the meat is heated and browned a little, and remove to a plate.    
  
You can then fry the egg in the same pan, or get another pan and fry your egg or two, til it's done to your liking.
 Place the egg on top of the meat and potato mixture, add some ketchup, if you like and enjoy.   Personally I like the egg to be over easy so that the luscious yolk dribbles over the potatoes and meat as I eat them.   
And it's that easy.   Now you have an idea for what to do with Sunday's leftover roast and potatoes.





Sunday, October 27, 2013

Marinara Sauce, my way

I'd never made Marinara Sauce til last weekend and now I'm wondering why not.  I googled Marinara Sauce recipes, looked them up in my cookbooks and realized that this was one of the simplest sauces to make and one I should, and I want to emphasize should, have in my repetoire. 
Marinara Sauce

I always knew Marinara Sauce was basically just tomato sauce amped up with some herbs, but kinda dismissed it as, oh, I don't know, not something I thought I should know how to make?   Really silly, but honestly, I thought it would be more difficult than it was.

One of the side benefits of this blog is that I have pushed the envelope, dared to try and fail and learned a lot more about cooking than I ever thought of learning or doing or...

Got sidetracked there, sorry.

  Marinara Sauce. 

1 26 oz. box of Pomi Strained Tomatoes  (the ones in the little box)
1 carrot, finely grated
1/4 onion, finely minced
1 garlic clove, crushed and finely minced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
2- 3 sprigs fresh oregano  (the oregano and thyme were from my garden, giggle)
1 tsp.dried marjoram
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes  (omit if you don't like them)
1/4 parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. sugar, to taste, if needed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat the olive oil and add the finely minced onion and grated carrot and let it cook for just a couple of minutes, long enough to turn the onion translucent and have it start to smell wonderful.   Add the garlic and stir it around for about 30 seconds, you just want it to start cooking a little.   Add the tomato and the fresh herbs, the marjoram, cheese and pepper flakes and stir it up.   Let it simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes or so and then taste.   If it's a little bitter add the sugar, but you may not need it.   I know parmesan cheese isn't the usual add but I thought it might add something to the sauce and I was right, it did.

Marinara Sauce



I served this in 'Spider/Critter I'd made out of bread dough  for Tapas and it was so good.

Marinara Sauce
The leftover sauce was added to a batch of my Home Made Spaghetti Sauce and that really amped it up as well. 
I'm keeping a box of the tomatoes in my pantry from now on, so the next time I want some Marinara sauce, I can just go ahead and make some. 
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Italian Style Hummus


I think I've said this before, but I love Hummus, and recently ran across a recipe in the newspaper by J.M Hirsch for an Italian-style Hummus.

You know what happened next.

Yup, I read it, realized I had all the basic ingredients here, and since I was going to my usual Friday night gathering I had to make it and take it.

So I did.
Italian Style Hummus

And tasted it as I was putting the recipe together, and changed a few things around just a tad, mostly for my own taste before serving it and it was well received.   Let me climb up on a soapbox here and say, that if you are trying out a new recipe and you taste it, and it's not quite to your taste, trust your taste buds, they know you, and don't be afraid of changing the recipe a little.  I've even been know to make something and take part of it aside to experiment on it.  And sometimes the experiments work and sometimes they don't.

My friends are so good about trying out new things, and passing comments on them.  


The basic recipe called for just 1/2 a cup of pine nuts, but I decided a whole cup worked better

Following is the recipe I followed, and in blue to the side, how I changed it up, cause I could and I did.

Italian-style hummus with diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed  ( I used Great Northern Beans)
3 cloves garlic, minced, divided ( 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced in the spread, and 1 clove in the topping)
1/2 cup pine nuts (1/4 cup in the hummus and another 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts for the topping, I buy the larger bags from Sam's Club)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon   (I used the zest from my own home grown Meyer Lemons)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary  (I used about a tablespoon or so of Rosemary from my plant)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra  (didn't really measure, but did use about 1/2 cup or so, and also about 1/3 water as the beans were too dry)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 large tomato, diced
Balsamic vinegar (whoops, forgot this, but used some olive oil instead)
In a food processor, combine the beans, half of the garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice, and 1 tablespoon of the rosemary (chop or mince the garlic and rosemary first, otherwise they don't break down as well). Process until chunky smooth.
With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the hummus reaches a smooth, silky texture. Taste, then season with salt and pepper, and set aside. (here is where I added some water, otherwise I think it would have been too oily if I had added more oil than the 1/2 cup I used). 
In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, the remaining 1 teaspoon of rosemary and the remaining garlic. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.
  I mixed up the tomatoes with the garlic and added some toasted pine nuts along with the minced rosemary and served them alongside the hummus.   And I have to add, this was so good used as a dip with some celery and carrots. 

And I made this all with my little 2 cup processor and an immersion blender.  I'm saving up for a real, live, 12 cup food processor.   But for now my method works just fine.


Italian Style Hummus

Italian Style Hummus

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Goodies and Ideas...


Chocolate 'Mice'

Let me begin by saying, I LOVE HALLOWEEN.

I love to dress up and become someone I'm not, love to come up with goodies, to make and eat.

And I just happen to think this time of the year is fun.   I guess I never grew up all the way, sigh.

So I thought I would share with you some of the goodies I've made in the past for Halloween.

After all, you can never have too many good great ideas.
For years I made 'Eyeball Stew'
'Eyeball' Stew

I love to make Bologna Cakes, and last year I had fun with one and made a Spider Cake.   And (says very modestly here) I won first prize at a local watering hole for it, and the Spider Eggs surrounding it. 
Spider Cake with Spider Eggs
Does that not look delightfully creepy and yet somehow tasty? 
Inside a Spider Cake

 And the layers are downright fun.
I love to make 'Eyeballs out of doughnut holes and serve them.
Eyeballs
 And little mice are always welcome at the table...
Chocolate Mice made with Maraschino Cherries

 The cast of characters...
Drained Maraschino Cherries with stems.  (just eat the ones without stems, no one will over know).
Hershey Kisses, I used the dark chocolate this time.
Melted semi-sweet chocolate and sliced almonds for ears completes the list.

 I used some prepared frosting tubes for eyes on the mice, as you can see.  I think the blue eyes were the freakiest, but red came close.   Just set them in the fridge to set up for an hour or so.   They also keep nicely in the fridge for a day or two, so you can do them ahead of the party.  Just don't do like I did and break all the ears off by accidentally bumping the platter.  Otherwise you have to serve Mutant Mice.
Chocolate 'mice' and Gummy Worms

 See the ones at the back, they are missing their ears.   I also took the leftover chocolate and mixed the remains of the almond together and spread it out on a piece of foil to make 'dirt', and that is what I placed the gummy worms on.

A girl just has to have fun, sometimes.

Bread Spider
 I formed the body out of one loaf of frozen bread dough, then cut the other loaf lengthwise into strips and molded the legs out of that loaf. 



 I then baked it and cut out a round in the middle, putting some marinara sauce in a bowl for dipping.   (BTW, the leftover marinara sauce was used in some spaghetti sauce a couple days later, I'll share the recipe later on this week.) 







Bread Spider and Marinara Sauce











Or do as one of my guests did for Tapas Night and make a totally luscious cheesecake with chocolate covered strawberry mice for decoration. 
Cheesecake with Chocolate Covered Strawberry "Mice"

Cheesecake with Chocolate Covered Strawberry "Mice"













There you have it, a couple of ideas for making some fun food and it wasn't all sweet stuff, just most of it.

Thanks for stopping by.  Please note that all photo's on here are mine and I'd appreciate a link back or an attribution if you use any of the content on here. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tapas Night for October

It was a dark and stormy night for Tapas again.

Well, not really, actually it was very nice out, we got a little rain earlier in the day and then it cleared right up.   I just wanted to use the first sentence to start off with because it is October, and gee, Halloween is right around the corner...

It is always fun to see what people make and bring.   This month we were a little on the sweet side, a lot of desserts were made and brought.

There were a couple of Sweet Potato/Pumpkin pies...
 These coconut-nut topped bars and by the way, the couple of pieces that were left over last night, tasted so good for breakfast.   (and I really don't eat sweets, but something about coconut and nuts, I'm helpless against).
 Turtles...
 Cookies and candy corn as befitting a Halloween party.
 One of our guests brought this incredible Cheesecake with chocolate dipped strawberry mice.   As you can see, one of the mice dived in, and got to the cheescake first...








.
I had to do a second closeup of the mice, they were incredible, and tasty.

And it tasted so good. 










I also contributed to the sweet fest, I made my own mice ...
Served them up with some gummy worms on some chocolate dirt.   
 I did do a little light decorating...
And we  had some savoury items too....
 Sliced meats, I was going to call them something else, but we are grownups here, and while kids might like gross names, we usually don't.  We just want to eat good food.  I served them with some sliced ciabatta rolls
 I had fun with bread dough and made a critter and served it with some Marinara Sauce I made.   And yes, I will share how to do both, later.
 Roberta made this Enchilada Casserole, and I am going to strong arm the recipe out of her, it is that good. 
 Tuna salad, and doesn't that look neat?   I missed who brought this, but I think it was Robin?
 Debbie made this pull apart Garlic Bread, YUM!!!!
 Gathana brought the chicken and they were so good, a little blue cheese dressing and OMG. 
 Look at this, Eyeballs.    Made with Mozzarella balls and olives, is this not a great idea?   I'm so adding this to my repetoire.   They tasted good too.
 Fish dips brought by Jon, one of the better dishes I've discovered living in the south.  Of course, being a Dane, I'm no stranger to smoked and preserved fish, so, giggle, I love it down here.
 Hummus brought by Harriet, with the cutest little curly chips, complemented each other very well.
I made a Spider Cake, and thought you might like to see the inside. 










There's the wrap up for this month, now to go and diet for the rest of the week....

Just kidding.   

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ham and Cheese Mini Muffins

I think I have a new go to recipe, at least one that lends itself to improvisation.   Which is one of the best kinds of recipes to have.

I made these Sweet Cheese Muffins for my entry in the Secret Recipe Club this month, and had to play around a little more with this recipe.    I wanted to add some chopped ham in  with the cheese and since I just happened to have some sweet ham in the fridge, it was a no brainer.   And guess what?  We got together with a bunch of friends on Sunday so I decided to try the ham idea on them.

The first time I made the muffins I used some Colby Jack Cheese I had already shredded and this time I used some Sharp Cheddar Cheese. 
 I like the Colby Jack Cheese better in this recipe but the muffins still got eaten.
I only added the ham to half of this recipe because I knew there were some vegetarians coming and I wanted to make sure they could also sample my offering.

Ham and Cheese Mini Muffins                Makes 24 mini muffins or 12 regular size muffins
4 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup Melted Butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Plain Greek Yoghurt
1/2 cup buttermilk   (you can use buttermilk powder here if you like for flavour, I tend to keep some on hand because I keep drinking the buttermilk I buy to cook with, and then I don't have any for cooking)
1 1/2 cups Grated Colby Jack Cheddar
1/2 cup Grated Colby Jack Cheddar Cheese (for topping the muffins)
1/2 cup (or more) finely diced ham

Mix the wet ingredients together and set aside.   Mix the dry ingredients together including the cheese and ham,

 then pour the wet ingredients over top and mix lightly.

 You want the dry ingredients to be just moistened.  Don't over mix.   Spoon the batter into either a regular muffin tin to make 12 muffins or into two mini muffin tins to make 24 mini muffins.


 Top each muffin with a sprinkle of the 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and place in a pre-heated 425 degree oven.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees, bake an additional 10 minutes or so until the tops are lightly browned and the cheese is melted.