I used Elise's recipe for Pâte Brisée All Butter Crust for Sweet and Savory Pies. I then researched for a plum filling and found one from Gourmet. It looked really simple:
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I used Elise's recipe for Pâte Brisée All Butter Crust for Sweet and Savory Pies. I then researched for a plum filling and found one from Gourmet. It looked really simple:
Now we do eat 7 days a week. Meals prepared by moi with the occasional Subway sandwich or pizza thrown in on any given Friday when I just need a break from the kitchen. Our weekday meals are usually quick and easy. Once a week we will have a pasta dish with varying accompaniments, veggies, beans, seafood, etc. We usually have chicken at least once a week too. I try to plan out all my meals for the week on Sunday so I’m not going crazy trying to decide what to have for dinner every night.
We are a grilling family. We grill year round. Snow, sleet, rain, hail, oh well not so much hail, but we do use our grill 12 months out of the year. I cannot count the number of times John has had to brush the snow off the grill before he heats it up. Sometimes the weather will dictate what we eat. Last week when a heat wave came through we ate lots of salads and cold sandwiches, fruits and what little warm food we could tolerate was cooked on the grill. We also have a smoker, John’s favorite toy of 2007. There is nothing like the taste of meat cooked on the smoker. I love that smoker. Because of it; I have one less thing I have to tend too. I only have to worry about sides and desserts when there’s a hunk-o-meat smoking away.
So the grilled pork with mushroom sauce is a typical weeknight dinner. I brined the pork the day before (always brine you pork, you will never eat un-brined pork again I swear) When I got home from work I started the mushroom sauce, John grilled, I made some the sauce and some rice and fresh greenbeans from the garden and dinner was on the table in less than a half hour.
Grilled Pork with Mushroom Sauce
6 pieces of boneless pork loin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 10oz package of portabella mushrooms, sliced thick
Salt & pepper
I brine my pork. It’s super easy to do and all you have to remember is to get it in the brine about 24 hours before you want to eat it. I used about a ½ gallon of cold water, ½ cup of kosher salt, ¼ cup sugar and 1 cup of boiling water. Mixed it all up and but the pork in the water and let them sit in the fridge overnight. This is just a simple brine, you can get all elaborate and add all sorts of spices and twigs and berries, but most of the time I use a simple one like this.
While John was grilling the pork I started on the sauce. In a large pan I cooked the mushrooms in the little olive oil. As soon as they started to look like they were cooked about half way through I added in some white wine. No measurements here, I just poured it in until it just covered the mushrooms. I added in some fresh thyme and some salt & pepper. I let it simmered about 5 minutes and then poured it over my perfectly grilled pork. That brined pork was so moist and juicy.
So here is an example of a weeknight dinner at my house. What did ya think I was gonna show ya Chef Boyardee? Tsk, tsk.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I have a few more adjustments to make before I declare the redecorating offically done. Let me know what you think? How do you like the lighter, brighter me??
Special thanks to my blogging mentor Krysta @ Evil Chef Mom for putting up with a day full of email from me. Thanks for all your help girl!
Monday, July 28, 2008
I was apprehensive at first. Would my kids eat a burger with brown sugar, ginger, garlic and soy in it? Could I get them to even try the cucumber carrot slaw?? Raw veggies on a burger without a drop of ketchup or mustard in sight?
Sunday, July 27, 2008
One note – lasagna is not very photogenic. I tried to get a shot of just a piece of it on a plate, and no luck. It just looks like a gooey mess….a gooey mess that tastes fantastic that is.
This is my lasagna recipe. People really seem to like it. My husband adores it. I’m sure you have a favorite too….this is his.
1 package lasagna noodles (I like Barilla or Ronzoni)
2 pounds ground beef or turkey or a mixture of both.
1 large onion, chopped
Large container whole milk ricotta cheese
Pecorino Romano cheese
Fresh chopped parsley
Fresh chopped basil
Garlic, chopped – to taste. I use 5 – 6 cloves. We are garlic fiends. You can use less.
Sauce – I usually make my own sauce, but in a pinch jarred will do. You will probably end up using about 1 ½ - 2 jars.
I start my lasagna the way I start many dishes, by cooking up some onions and garlic in some good olive oil. I do a fairly large chop on the onions and then cook them in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, just until they are translucent.
Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until they are very, very al dente. DO NOT OVER COOK YER NOODLES! You will end up with very mushy lasagna if you do. I have often been tempted to try Ina Gartens method of just pouring very hot water over the noodles and letting them sit for 15 minutes, but I haven’t tried it yet.
In a large skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil, cook the onions until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic in for just a minute or so. Add the ground beef or turkey, or both and cook until meat is no longer pink inside. I usually take a colander and drain the mixture at this point. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine the ricotta, 2 eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, and the herbs. Mix gently. I don’t measure any of the herbs. I just chop them up and kind of go with what looks good to me. Set aside.
I kind of make an assembly station for my lasagna making.
I line up, in this order…..the lasagna noodles, a 9x13 inch pan or a 10x15 inch pan. I just found the larger lasagna pan. I had been looking for one for years and I picked it up for $6.99! Bargain. Anyway, back to the line up. The noodles, the pan, then the sauce, the cheese mixture and finally the meat mixture. I start by putting a little sauce in the bottom of the pan. This prevents the noodles from sticking. Put down one layer of noodles, then spread on the ricotta mixture, a layer of mozzarella cheese, and on just one layer, I cover the surface with some Provolone cheese, and then some sauce. Repeat layers. I usually get 2 layers from one box. End with a sprinkling of mozzarella.
Cover with aluminum foil and heat in a 350-degree oven for 30 – 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. I give the foil a shot of cooking spray so it won’t stick. Place a cookie sheet under it in case of spills and bubble over! I remove the foil at the last 15 of cooking so the edges get nice and crunchy…the best part! Let sit for 15 minutes before cutting.
I usually serve this with a big salad and some garlic bread.
When Food Network was first on the air I got hooked on a show of theirs that highlighted all different kinds of cooks and recipes. I can't for the life of me remember what the name of the show was, but it had a female host with a very enchanting voice. This recipe for Pina Colada Pie came from that show all those years ago.
This is the perfect summer dessert because:
1) It's a no bake dessert.
2) It's like eating a frozen Pina Colada.
3) It's cool, refreshing, fruity and creamy all at the same time.
You can make it days in advance and just pop it out of the freezer about 20 minutes before you want to serve it.
Oh I almost forgot #4!
4) It's super easy and quick to make.
Pina Colada Pie
4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
½ cup pineapple juice
½ cup shredded coconut
3 cups whipped topping, divided
½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 large graham cracker crust* (see note below)
Combine cream cheese, milk & pineapple juice and beat until thoroughly mixed. Fold in coconut, crushed pineapple, & 1½ cups of the whipped topping. Pour mixture into pie shell. Freeze until firm. Top with remaining Cool Whip.
If desired garnish with toasted coconut, chocolate shavings or nuts. Return to freezer for at least 8 hours. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.
Tip: Buy the large can of crushed pineapples and you can use the juice from the can. Just squeeze and squeeze and you should get that 1/2 cup.
Keebler now makes a larger graham cracker crust pie shell (9oz). This recipe makes enough to fill a large 9 inch pie shell, if using a smaller store bought pie shell, you will have more than enough to fill the pie shell – you can freeze remaining filling in a container for a treat later!!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
What's nice about this recipe is that it looks like a bundt cake and you can slice it like a bundt cake, and take as much or as little as you want. Personalized slices. I made this as an extra dessert for one of Jesse's birthday parties and it went faster than the regular birthday cake. Kids love it.
Chocolate Rice Krispie Cake
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (3/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 bag (10 ½ ounces) mini marshmallows
6 cups chocolate rice krispies (we found chocolate/vanilla krispies at the store)
1 cup salted dry roasted peanuts (I substituted mini chips for nuts)
1 cup M&M mini baking bits (I substituted regular sized M&M's)
Spray a 10 – 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl heat chocolate and butter in microwave on high for 1 min, stirring once during heating. Remove from microwave and stir until melted and smooth. Add marshmallows to mixture. Heat in microwave on high 1 min longer until melted and mixture is smooth.
Add cereal, peanuts. Stir until coated and well combined. Add mini bits (these are added last so the mixture won’t melt them) Put in bundt pan pressing mixture down with fingertips. Let stand 1 hr, in warm weather put in fridge to set.
Loosen with knife or metal spatula to unmold. I just run my frosting spatula all around the edges and it pops right out. Invert to plate, cut in slices to serve. Store in covered container at room temp up to 3 days.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I could really use some. First we had a heatwave for a week, now it's been pouring, and I do mean pouring buckets for 2 days. Yesterday at about 4pm it got so dark out that it looked like it was midnight. The skies opened up and there was just a sheet of water pouring from the sky. Thunder boomed so loud it shook the house. I thought it was going to crack open the roof and scoop us all up into the clouds. I love thunderstorms but this was damn scary.
Last night the storms continued but in a good way. A slow trickle of rain, thunder off in the distance, the flash of lightening across the sky. It cooled everything down and just the sound of it falling put us all in a melancholy mood for the evening. The electronics were unplugged and we all curled up with a good book and just sat in silence, reading and listening to the rain fall.
Jesse said to me "I hope we loose power".
"Why?" I asked
"Cause then we could light candles and lamps and play board games, it's cool"
I have to agree with him. It is cool when it happens. It kind of makes us all just take a step back from our hectic lives, detach from the electronic devices that sometimes rule our worlds and just enjoy each other. Enjoy being together. We break out a board game and all huddle around the big table in the living room and laugh and talk and just be.
It's storming again tonight, so I need to get off this computer until it passes. I kind of hope the lights go out now too.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
We have been in the middle of a heat wave for 6 days now. 6 hot and humid days. Living in the Ocean State has its perks, and it’s drawbacks. The humidity here can really drag you down. It makes it hard to breathe, hard to see and hard to enjoy the outdoors. For almost a week now we have been waiting until after sundown to go outside to water or pick veggies. This recipe was thrown together, and I do mean thrown together in about 10 minutes. It’s a nice cool and refreshing side dish.
Cannelli Bean Salad
2 cans of cannelli beans sometimes called Great Northern White Beans (I used one can of regular and one can of small white beans- Goya brand)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
½ can small black olives, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh basil, chopped
In a mason jar mix:
3 parts olive oil to 1 part fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Shake it up, pour over beans, mix gently.
This dish tastes best if left to “soak” for a few hours, or overnight preferably.
My husband looked at this last photo and said I look like....and I quote "a coked up disco queen". Nice. Thank you hun, that's an esteem builder for sure.
1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding mix
¾ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup water
Combine all 5 ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 for 30 - 35 mins or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool 10 mins and invert on wire rack to cool completely.
3 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
½ cup butter softened
½ cup shortening
¾ to 1 cup sugar (I use ¾ cup and it's just perfect)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a small saucepan combine flour & milk until smooth. Bring to a boil, cook & stir 2 mins or until sauce is thickened. Let cool slightly. In mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening, sugar & vanilla, about 2 minutes. Beat in milk mixture until sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes).
Split cake into two horizontal layers. Spread filling over the bottom layer, cover with top layer. Refrigerate until cream is firm. Cut into serving size pieces. Store in an air tight container.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Clam cakes have been consumed in Rhode Island since the turn of the century. Most Rhode Islanders had their first clam cakes at the Rocky Point Chowder House in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Here's a really old post card of the Shore Dinner Hall.
The Chowder House was right outside the Rocky Point Amusement Park and once you finished up with the rides, you either went and ate at the Shore Dinner Hall (a huge banquet house that hosted clambakes and boils and sat 1000 people) or you went to the smaller Chowder House and got clam cakes and chowder, cause the best way to eat a clam cake is to dip it in your chowder. While the amusement park and dinner hall are now gone, the Chowder House is still making clam cakes as they did throughout the 20th century. My Gram made clam cakes too and they were pretty close to the Chowder House ones, but she didn't have the amusement park to go along with them.
You really have to have the clam cake mix to make these. I'm telling you it's worth your while to get some. If you really want to make them, you can get the mix right from Drum Rock here. I know they sound disgusting but they are scrumptious. After John took his first bite of one, he was hooked. You will be too.
I have to show you my favorite plant of this season (well technically it's an herb, but it's really not edible, so I'm calling it a plant). My Ornamental Oregano. Just look at it, isn't it pretty?
When I walked into the nursery last month I was immediately drawn to this plant. There was a large plant in the middle of the greenhouse and it dragged me in from 10 feet away. Those chartreuse leaves, the pinkish tinges on the petals, the delicate way it arches and bends, like dozens of little bells on a vine. I love this plant. I love watching it change, and grow. I love the way the light catches each leaf, the dark green veins, the tiny purple trumpeted flowers it produces.
Stuffies are everywhere in Rhode Island. You can find them at the local VFW halls, backyard cookouts, local clambakes and, of course, just about every restaurant in the area. There are probably as many recipes for stuffies as they are clams in the ocean. They are all similar, and most contain the same basic ingredients. The difference comes in the amount of other ingredients that embellish the bread and quahog. My Gram always made awesome stuffies. I can remember sitting at her kitchen table, cutting up dozens and dozens of quahogs with the kitchen shears. I wish I had written her recipe down. Lost forever.
If you’re a good New Englander, you go out and you dig for your own quahogs. If you are slacker like me, you go to the local fish market and buy the shells ($1 for 15 – bargain!) and you buy the quahogs already minced in clam juice. Now don’t go thinking I have never quahoged in my life. When I was younger I went with my Pa. He had a quahog rake and a bushel basket with an inner tube around the outside. The official tools of a Rhode Island quahoger. You float the basket while you dig. I’m sure I did more playing than digging back then.
In the 70’s wherever there was a patio or porch, there was a calm shell ashtray. If you were lucky enough it was hand painted! I can remember painting clamshells in school to bring home for Mother’s or Father’s Day gifts and I’m sure kids that went to camp found out that clam shells would be part of their craft making projects. They are literally everywhere out here. In the coastal towns even their driveways are made out of crushed shells. I kid you not.
So since it was over 90 degrees today, I decide it was the perfect night to heat up the oven and make some stuffies! I also decided it was the perfect night to fry up clamcakes (that's the next post) cause I really wanted to spend a half hour cleaning the grease splatter off my black stove.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Evan declared them...."pizzery good"
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 egg, separated
1 tube (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls
In a bowl combine the pepperoni, cheese (I ran out of mozzarella, so I use 1/2 cheddar), oregano and egg yolk. I added in some fresh chopped parsley too. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until foamy; set aside. Separate the crescent dough into four rectangles; seal perforations.
Spread the pepperoni mixture over each rectangle to within a 1/4 inch of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with the short side, pinch seams to seal. Cut into 6 slices. I couldn't get 6 slices out of these, I got 5 at the most.
Place cut side down on greased baking sheet (I used parchment). Brush tops with egg white. Bake at 375 for 12 - 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Over the weekend we bought another storage shed...this one just to hold the long handled tools that seems to be taking up too much room in the regular shed. John had to dig a bit to get the ground level. Look what he found in just a few feet of dirt:
An old pull tab to a soda can. I asked the kids what it was, they had no idea. I told them "this is how we used to open up soda cans".
Some Singer sewing needles. I had to knock the dirt outta the container.
A really rusty fishing reel. It was practically crunchy!
Three love nuts! One with the meat still in it! What a find! If you are unfamiliar with the love nut story you can catchup here:Love Nut Story.
All that stuff in just a few feet of dirt. Kinda makes me wanna go dig up some more of the yard to see what I can find.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
A mess of green beans. John says that is the technical term for the amount of green beans we pick "a mess". It's kinda like a bushel or a peck. Green beans are picked in messes, or so he says.
So when I have a mess of beans like I do now, this is how I cook them.
Quick and Easy Mess o' Beans
1 mess o' beans
2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 shallots, thinly sliced
In a hot saute pan combine all ingredients. Cover and let them steam for a few minutes, but don't walk away for long. You need to keep checking on them and stirring so they don't burn. Once they seems steamed enough - probably about 5 - 8 minutes, take the cover off so they can start to brown up a wee bit. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
These beans stay nice and crunchy, if you don't like crunchy beans and you prefer the mushy beans, you have no right eating fresh vegetables so just go grab yourself a can and leave the rest of the beans to us veggie lovers.
I boiled some quartered potatoes and pulled them out of the water as soon as I could slide a knife easily into them. While the potatoes were cooking I salted and peppered the thighs, put them in a hot pan and cooked them until they were golden brown on each side then set them aside. I took out my half sheet pan, placed the thighs and potatoes with a package of mushroom cut in half, 4 onions quartered, 6 cloves of garlic thinly sliced, some fresh thyme and rosemary, coated everything in some olive oil, tossed it all up with my hands (yeah it's messy but your hands are the easiest way to mix this stuff up) and put it in a 375 degree oven for an hour.
That's what it looked like before it went into the oven.
This was so delicious and super easy. The chicken and potatoes got all golden and crunchy and my kitchen smelled like an Italian bistro, not that I have ever smelled an actual bistro, but if I had the chance to smell one, I'm pretty sure it would smell like my kitchen did this afternoon.
I had picked a mess of beans from the garden this morning, so we had green beans as our veggies. Quick and easy green bean recipe to follow.
Each child (and there were lots of 'em) started off making their own personalized party bag. There were all sorts of stickers and letters for them to use. Everyone had a pretty stylin' bag.
Then they moved on to the sand art table. See all the pretty colored sands?? Well fast-forward about a half hour and all those pretty sand containers were a mish mass of colors!
John somehow landed the job of clam cake maker. He still doesn't know how it happened, but one minute he was at the grill with Tom drinking a beer and the next he was frying up batter!
Next it was time for more food. Round 2 - burgers and dogs with a bunch of toppings.
Then the games began. Tom & Celeste always have fun games and tons of prizes for everyone involved. There was plate spinning, a popcorn race, pin the tail on the monkey, land a ball in a fishbowl (yup live fish), tin can bowling, and there was the obstacle course. Oh did that have us all laughing.
There was a dunk tank and a water slide, both hugely popular with the kids....well the dunk tank was pretty popular with the adults too.
My neighbors know how to throw a party.