Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Caesar Salad Dressing, home made

One of the things I love about visiting my family is the great food.  But even if I didn't belong to such great cooks, I'd still like to visit with them, I can honestly say I like them all as people, not just family.

The food's just a wonderful bonus.

And learning how to make my own Caesar dressing, well, all I can is WOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
Sorry, I get excited when garlic comes into the equation.

 The main ingredients.

Mayonnaise, garlic and Anchovy paste.

And yes, I know this isn't the 'traditional' way of doing it, but, it tastes good.
 Squeeze some mayo into a bowl, I didn't measure exactly, but about 1/2 cup.
Squeeze in about 1 tablespoon of anchovy paste.
Then get out your microplane and add some garlic.
I used two cloves, which was almost too much. 
Let me just say, I made us safe from vampires for about a 6 block radius.   They were very strong.
 Grate in some Parmesan cheese, about 2 oz. worth.  I didn't measure real well.
Add a squitch of Dijon Mustard, I used a full grain one, if you need to be exact, about a 1/2 teaspoonful, and a couple of shakes of Worcestershire sauce.

 Stir it all together, add some lemon juice, I used a cube of frozen lemon juice I had in the freezer.  Just mooshed it in there.
Then I got out the pepper, added a couple of grinds, then I tasted the dressing.   Added about 1/4 cup of sour cream, the garlic was a tad strong.  But, I decided that it needed something more so...

I added more pepper and some more cheese.
 Made some croutons out of some herbed rolls, and threw that on top of some chopped up Romaine lettuce.

To make this gluten free, just substitute a gluten free crouton. 
 Tossed it around a little.  Then I added some shaved Parmesan to the top. 
And proceeded to eat the whole bowlful.  Well, a lot of it.  I did share.

And it was so good.  I'm thinking of doing a repeat tonight.

Also please check out this link  Top 100 Best Potato Fritters and vote for me if like.  My entry is #38 .

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sundried Tomato Jack Spread

I always wonder if I should come up with more exciting names for some of my recipes, but then decide that I should just call it what it is.  And this is a Sundried Tomato Jack Spread.  
So there.
Sun Dried Tomato Jack Spread

I went to NPA last night and as is my wont, I made a little something to bring along.   I've discovered that if I keep Cream Cheese in the fridge, I've always got a base for spread or dip or just to eat, spread on a cracker.

Oh wait, umm, that's not a recipe.

But this is.

Recipe:  Sun Dried Tomato Jack Spread

8 oz. package Cream Cheese
3 oz. shredded Bruschetta Cheese (I used the one by Sargento) or Pepper Jack Cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup. minced sun dried tomatoes in oil.
1 tsp. chopped garlic scapes

Mush it all together and put in the fridge for an hour or so for the flavours to get acquainted.  Serve with a good cracker.   I use my handy, dandy, trusty gloves for this. 

  Prettied up with some Thai Basil from my garden, I love Thai Basil.
It can really help food look a little more, ummm,

And it tastes good too.

Serve with a good cracker.  These were Sesame Water Crackers and they were a little on the wimpy side.
But the dip/spread sure tasted good.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Quick Pickled Peppers and Cukes

One of the dishes I had thought about making for Tapas last week were these, Roasted Peppers with Balsamic Vinegar, but I just didn't get my act together in time to make them.   So, I had these wonderful peppers lounging around in the fridge and I did want to use them, somehow, somewhere.   Especially since I'd gotten them, on sale.

Have you seen the price of peppers lately?  I don't know about your area, but they're pretty pricy down here.

So, I'm sitting, looking at them, and also looking at these hothouse cukes I'd gotten.   AKA English Cucumbers.   I was thinking of Agurk Salat, but didn't have any dill, then I put two and two together, well, cukes and peppers together and thought "quick pickle".

So I cut part of each pepper up, only used about a quarter of each one,
  and half of a cucumber.
Heated up 1/2 cup of Rice Vinegar, added 2 tablespoons of sugar to it, tasted it, then added 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, about 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, tasted it again, and added about a teaspoon of soy sauce.   I liked that mixture and poured it over the finely cut strips of pepper and cucumber.
Quick pickle peppers and cukes

Quick pickle peppers and cukes

They sat in the fridge for a few hours, I wanted them to get well acquainted.

Blind dates aren't always fun.
And I served them for Tapas, alongside a plate of sliced peppers.
Quick pickle peppers and cukes

Well, not all the pickled peppers were eaten so I had some on a sandwich the next day.  And since I'm a Dane, I had to see how they tasted on Leverpostej. (Liver Paste).  
And guess what, they were pretty darn good.  And I think they looked pretty too.
smørrebrød med leverpostej

smørrebrød med leverpostej
I do love my smørrebrød.  
smørrebrød med leverpostej
I just couldn't decide which picture looked the most mouthwatering.
And the beets were a gift from a friend.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate them.  Especially when I can eat them like this.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rosemary Cheese Crisps

I love cheese.

The end.

I guess that's not quite enough for a blog post, is it?

So, let me expand on the subject.
I've been known to scrape that nice browned crispy cheese bit off of the pan after making a grilled cheese sandwich and eat it.  You know the bit I mean, it oozes out of the side of the sandwich and glues itself to the pan.  I love the browned cheese on top of a baked Mac and Cheese Casserole, heck, I've even 'fried' cheese in a pan, and it was good.
I like cheese.
 I've been dying to try making some crisp cheese crackers, or crisps if you prefer that nomenclature.
While looking at all the great dishes that were made for the Secret Recipe Club offerings this week, I started  drooling over a Stromboli recipe that In the galley had made and then my eye was caught (and it didn't hurt a bit) by a post called Zesty Parmesan Crisps with Pine Nuts.
I immediately bookmarked the recipe, then shamelessly copied it onto a new post here, but realized I was going to have to make it my own, as the Swallowtail Caterpillars had helped themselves to my parsley and there was none left.
I had some Asiago cheese in the fridge as well as some Parmigiano, so I grated them both up, grabbed some Pine Nuts that were trying to hide in the pantry, went outside and snipped some fresh rosemary.   And since it's Tapas Night this week, it meant I had a perfect opportunity to make them, and share.  It also meant I didn't eat them all by myself.  Which is a good thing, cause they're kinda more'ish. 

1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup Asiago
1/2 Cup Bruschetta Jack (a cheese from Sargento)
1/2 cup Pine Nuts
1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon flour (I think you could use rice flour or cornstarch to make this gluten free)

Freshly ground black pepper or cayenne for more heat.
2 Tablespoons parsley (mine was eaten by the swallowtail caterpillars so I didn't get any in there)

Heat oven to 400 deg.  Put the rack in the middle.  Get out one or two baking sheets and line them with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat or a teflon parchment sheet.  I have both, so I used both kinds, thanks to two of my siblings who gifted me them.  

Sorry, here's the rest of the directions.

Mix the cheeses, pine nuts, herbs and flour together.  Then go ahead and grind some fresh black pepper into it.  Toss, stir, mix it up.

Get your 1 tablespoon scoop out or just use a tablespoon, and scoop out a generous spoonful of the cheese mixture, place it on the baking sheet lined pan, mound it up a little.

See what happens when you don't tuck them in?

Tuck in the stray bits of cheese that are trying to escape, then flatten it just a little.  Space the mounds every three inches or so, these will spread out somewhat while baking.

Toss or mix the mixture in between baking each sheet, you want the flour to stay distributed.
Bake for about 6 minutes, until nice and golden.   Don't get distracted doing something else cause these can burn easily.   
Take out of oven, and if you do like I did, put the second pan into the oven.  Let the first pan sit for a minute or two, this helps the crisp to firm up a little, then transfer them over to a baking rack to cool completely.

Try not to sample too many of them, you do want to leave some for your guests.   This made just over three dozen.  That I counted, and that was umm, after sampling a few. 
Place them in a covered container, separate the layers with some wax paper.  They'll keep for up to three days.  You can also freeze them for a great quick treat.   (Yeah right, like that's going to happen around here) .

I think these would be so totally awesome at a cocktail party, where you don't want more than a nibble or two.  

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tapas Night for September

We had a lighter than normal turnout last night for Tapas, but I'm told that there was a major college football game on and all I can say is this:

 "Hope your team won."

I made a couple of dishes, you know I did.  I had fun.

But before I show you mine, let me show you theirs:

Now this is football food.   Grilled sausages on a home made baguette, with grilled onions and cheese.

Quiche and there wasn't a crumb left...   And it was so good.  I think it's time for me to pull out my recipe for quiche and make one.   Just as soon as the temp outside dips a little more.
These little cucumber bites were so tasty.  A little hit of heat, a big hit of flavour.    I did sample one or three of them.
I think the picture says it all.   But it tasted so good.  I'm not real fond of basil, just a hint will do it, but when you layer it on mozzarella and fresh tomatoes on top of arugala, sigh. 

Chicken and Rice is one of those staple southern dishes, and everyone has their own twist on it.  But this one was so good, Steve used some blackened seasoning on it, and it added a nice pinch of heat.
I have to say, if my mom could see me now.  I had some of this broccoli and cauliflower salad and well, let me just say this, "Look Mom, I'm eating my veggies."  
And then there was this broccoli casserole, and it was good as well. 
"See Mom, I'm even eating the cooked veggies these days"

I grew up on a farm, and along with raising pigs, we also had a market garden, and sold veggies.  And, umm, I had trouble with eating a lot of them.   I loved fresh corn, as in, pick it, shuck it, and eat it right there, no cooking. 
And green beans were good, so long as they were raw, same went for most of the vegetables, come to think of it. 
I now eat cooked vegetables, sorry TMI?

Let me continue with some more of the dishes that were brought and enjoyed last night.

I love Blue Corn chips and Guacamole, well, it's one of my personal favourites.   And this was so good.

I made a few things as well. 

 I put out some Ciabatta Rolls, as well as some fresh pepper strips, along with a plate of crackers and goat cheese.  They are there behind the peppers, Almondina Crackers with goat cheese.  You have to try that combination.  So good.  One of my sisters introduced me to it.  And I shamelessly copied her.
 Not so appetizing looking, I know, but a good Black Olive Tapenade is a great thing to have in your repertoire, so quick and easy to make in a hurry. 
I also made a Quick Pickle with some of the peppers and a cucumber.   I'll tell you all about it in another post.

 I tried my hand at the Crockpot Pork Tenderloin my sister made a couple of months back.  Mine was nowhere as good as hers was.  I totally overcooked it, but then again, my crockpot is a no-name brand, and it should have stayed in the store. I've scorched and burned and overcooked my last meal in it.  sigh.

 I also made some Rosemary Cheese Crisps, and I'll be sharing the recipe with you in a couple of days.

All I can say about them is this, my guests were lucky I restrained myself and they were actually able to sample them. 

And as I said, there was a smaller than usual turnout last night, but the desserts were sure good, and they disappeared in short order.
 A yummy Apple crisp.
 And of course there was the Santa Toothpick holder and his pineapple.   And you thought I'd missed it. HAH!
A really awesome pound cake with a crunchy citrussy sugar topping.  There was also some Vanilla Ice cream that was supposed to be for the pound cake, but ended up being multi-purpose and eaten with both the pound cake and the apple crisp.

And there you have it, another month gone and another bad day at the scale.  Just kidding.  
Boat Club is coming up in a couple of weeks and I'm working on a couple of ideas for it already.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Cheese Enchiladas, Tijuana Tilly style

I was looking at the menu plan for the week and saw that I'd written down Cheese Enchiladas for our meal today.
And then I started reminiscing, to myself, silently, about the restaurant that we used to go to when I was first married.  I loved going there, we went there for special occasions and I always ordered the same thing.
Cheese Enchiladas, with rice and beans of course.   I loved their enchiladas, and mourned deeply when the restaurant closed and then torn down and an Olive Garden was built there.  Tijuana Tilly's will always be my favourite Mexican restaurant, sigh.  They've been gone for a very long time.  But I made do and got to know and love a couple of other restaurants along the way. 

Then I moved.

And I now live in a place where I have to drive either 30 miles one way or 25 miles the other way to be able to eat Mexican food.

I make it myself now. 

Now that you've read this far, and thank you for doing so,I thought I'd share how I make my version of Cheese Enchiladas, Tijuana Tilly style.

To start with, you need cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.  OK, maybe not that much, but get out the grater and start shredding.   I like a mixture of Colby Jack Cheese and Monterey Jack cheese, and luckily for me, I can get it already mixed, all I need to do is shred it.   I bet you can get it the same way too.  Just kidding here.  But you can use the cheese that's already shredded, if you like.  I think it tastes best when you shred it yourself, but...

After shredding the cheese, divide it in half and add about 1/2 cup drained sliced black olives to half the cheese mixture along with a finely diced shallot, or 1/4 cup diced onion.   Either one will do.  I just happened to have a single, solitary shallot left from when I made the Caramelized Shallots for the tart a week or so ago.

Now for the fun part.    Assembling the enchiladas.  I usually warm the flour tortillas just a little, it makes them easier to roll up.

Get a good handful of cheese, place it on the flour tortilla and then either roll it up or make a burrito style roll up.  Which means folding the end over the cheese, then folding in the sides and rolling it the rest of the way.  I like doing it like that, cause I hate the cheese escaping out of the ends of the tortilla.  Place the rolled tortilla seam side down in a greased
baking pan, then proceed with the rest of the cheese and tortillas.  Pour some hot enchilada sauce over
top,and sprinkle with a little more cheese if you like, and put in the microwave for about 6 minutes at 70% power.  Or until the cheese has melted.   I've baked these in an oven in the past, but really don't like how the tortillas get gummy. 

Serve with some Refried Beans and Mexican Rice.  

And serve the leftover beans rolled in a flour tortilla for breakfast.   Along with a little cheese, browned in a pan.  So good. 

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