Thursday, February 26, 2009

Weeknight BBQ Bonanza!



I've been thinking, the humble crockpot deserves a better reputation than it has. Nothing beats a crock pot when it comes to the flavor and texture of slow-cooked meats in savory sauce. Fantastic! And on those nights I have to work till 7pm, nothing beats coming home hungry to a nice, hot dinner, ready for eating. :)

This chicken recipe is embarrassingly easy, yet one of the most popular dishes in my home. It's a slam-dunk every single time.

DINNER MENU:
Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Fiesta Slaw





CROCKPOT BBQ PULLED CHICKEN

2-4 boneless chicken or turkey breasts
1 jar of your favorite BBQ sauce (or make your own - simple recipe below!)

Season meat with a little salt and pepper. Throw it in the crocpot. Pour BBQ sauce all over the top. Turn it on low. Go to work and fuggedaboudit. (But then remember it after 6-10 hours)

When you are ready to eat, do this:

1. Turn off crock pot. Take two forks, and pull the meat apart into nice juicy strands. Stir it up to evenly distribute the sauce.

2. Prick a few washed and dried yams with a fork, throw 'em in the microwave and cook on high for 6-10 minutes. Check them half way through. When a fork is inserted easily, they are done.

3. While the potatoes are microwaving, make the coleslaw:

FIESTA SLAW



Ingredients

For the dressing:

2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
20 grinds fresh black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:
A big bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix
(or 1 small green and a ½ a red head of cabbage, shredded by you)
1 (15-ounce) can corn kernels, drained
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed, dried, and finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, washed, dried, and thinly sliced into rounds


Directions

Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
Keep refrigerated and covered until ready to use.

HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCE

2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar (OR molasses OR honey OR real maple syrup)
5-10 grinds fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard or mustard powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or lime or OJ)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and pour over chicken in crockpot.

TO PLATE THE DINNER:

You can have the pulled chicken on hamburger buns for a slammin' sandwhich, but I really love to pile the meat on top of the split, baked yam. It makes a nice-looking boat on the plate. :)
Pile a mound of slaw on the side.

Eat it up. Smile. :)
Bring leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Smile again. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back from the Beach!

I'm back!

As you can see, I was at the beach all week on vacation...(don't I look refreshed and rested? Don't I look shockingly similar to Bettie Page? OK OK you win, that is Bettie Page. ;-))

Now that I'm sunned and satisfied, I will be back with some new recipes and pics to go with it.

In the meantime, if there is any dish you are craving or a recipe you are seeking, leave a comment and I will do my best to accomodate!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Red Velvet Black & White Cookies (aka Half Moon Cookies)




Where I was born, we call them Half Moon Cookies. I prefer the poetry of that name better, but most of the world refers to these cookies as Black & Whites, so I listed both names.

I wanted to make a special cookie for Valentine's Day, so I tried a red velvet variation. Red velvet is a Southern American cake that includes buttermilk and a bit of cocoa powder, and these cookies follow suit. They are rich, creamy, satisfying and so pretty to bite into! You will see in the pics, I made a batch with red food coloring and one batch without, just to see what would happen. Same taste, different look. Though far from health food, if they are baked with extra amounts of love, they will classify as FlapperFood for a special occasion. ;-)

RED VELVET HALF MOON COOKIES

Makes 10 large cookies

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

For Vanilla Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
1 Teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Chocolate Glaze

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease and flour the pan well so the cookies don’t stick. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Using a mixer (or wooden spoon & elbow grease), beat 5 Tablespoons of butter with the granulated sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, food coloring and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk until smooth.

Place 1/4-cup scoops of batter 2 inches apart of the prepared baking sheet, spread the batter out with a butter knife, so they’re not completely flat but uniform and round. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.

Make the glazes:

In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of corn syrup and 2 tablespoons hot water, until smooth. That’s your vanilla glaze.

In a separate bowl, melt the butter and the chocolate in a microwave for about 1 minute. Add the corn syrup and stir until smooth. That’s your chocolate glaze!

Once the cookies are cooled, face them all bottom side up of a clean surface. Spread half of the cookie with vanilla glaze and the other half with chocolate glaze. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to set.

Eat. Share. Lick fingers. Smile. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yummy Meatloaf from Tyler's Dad




I've made meatloaf a bazillion times, but somehow it's always just missed the mark of my flapper heart -- think bleak and boring...

...UNTIL I found Tyler's recipe.

I should have known Tyler Florence, chef extraordinaire from the Food Network, would present a recipe that would not only be scrumptious, but something I'd even consider preparing for guests. The tomato relish in and on this loaf is the snack magic element!

A word about Tyler's cooking style (aka, flapperosophy): He has a genius way of designing base flavor layers to all his dishes. The end products are always arresting, complex, delightful: they make me stop multi-tasking and just EAT. I always really EXPERIENCE and enjoy his recipe in zen-like bliss.

Onto the meat loaf: A truly sublime and lovely little loaf. I saw him prepare this dish on his show "Tyler's Ultimate" on the Food Network. I flapperfied it by using ground turkey (instead of pork & beef), whole grain bread slices, non-dairy milk, and turkey bacon, but that's totally your choice.

Pair it with my Sage Roasted Winter Veggies and a nice cold Guiness, and you are ready for a comfy winter night of nesting.

And while you're at it, have another Guiness with a snap of dark chocolate for dessert :))



YUMMY MEAT LOAF FROM TYLER'S DAD


INGREDIENTS:

Tomato Relish:
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and finely diced (or 3 roasted red peppers from a jar, chopped)
2 tomatoes, halved, seeded, and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 (12-ounce) bottle ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Meat loaf:
4 slices whole grain bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks by hand
1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
2 pounds of ground turkey
2 eggs
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 bacon slices (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

MAKE RELISH:
Coat a skillet with a 2-count of oil and place over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and bay leaves for a few minutes to create a base flavor. Throw in the red peppers and cook them for a couple of minutes to soften. Now add the tomatoes; adding them at this point lets them hold their shape and prevents them from disintegrating. Stir in the parsley, ketchup, and Worcestershire; season with salt and pepper. Simmer the relish for 5 minutes to pull all the flavors together. Remove it from the heat; you should have about 4 cups of relish.

MAKE MEAT LOAF:
Place the torn bread in a bowl and add the milk to just barely cover, swish the bread around in the milk and let it sit while you get the rest of the ingredients for the meat loaf together.

This is where you get your hands dirty! In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and pork with 1 1/2 cups of the tomato relish, the eggs, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Squeeeeeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the soaked bread to the meat mixture.

[Tip: You can test the loaf by frying or microwaving a small "hamburger" patty of the meatloaf until cooked; the patty should hold together but still have a soft consistency. Taste the patty for seasoning.]

Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Transfer the meat mixture to the center of the cookie sheet and form into a log about 9 inches long and about 4 inches wide. OR you can pile the loaf into a lightly oiled loaf pan. Coat the top of the meatloaf with another 1/2 cup of the tomato relish. Lay the turkey bacon across the top lengthwise.

Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the bacon is crisp and the meatloaf firm. Rotate the meat loaf while it's baking every now and then to insure that the bacon browns evenly. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it cool 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with the remaining tomato relish on the side. Unbelievably moist!

Eat. Smile. Sip your beer. Feel the snack love. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pasta with Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage



I have recently fallen in love with the herb fresh sage. It seems everytime I go to the grocery store, I pick up a package of the pretty leaves. They make just about every dish you can think of taste very special and elegant. And yummy. Flappery. :)

So I had some sage, sausage and squash along with a late night at work. This is what I came up with. You can have this ready in a half hour if you are a speedy veggie chopper. I adapted this recipe from some classic versions out there, and I flapperfied it by using whole grain pasta and turkey sausage instead of pork sausage and white pasta.

A few simple but high quality ingredients make fancy, happy, flapper food: fresh herbs, a good parmiggiano reggiano, and white wine that you would enjoy drinking out of a glass (not that bottled cooking wine!) Enjoy!

(Pics coming soon, bear with me--I just moved and have to find my USB port!!)

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 tablespoons
1 pound sweet Italian turkey or chicken, removed from casing
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
6-8 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1-2 cups of diced winter squash (pumpkin, butternut or acorn squash works nicely)
1/2 cup soy creamer or half and half
1 pinch cinnamon
2 pinches ground nutmeg
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound whole grain pasta (penne rigate is nice!), cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating
Pumpernickel or whole grain bread, as an accompaniment

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the squash in it. Remove from pan to a dish. Add a little more oil if pan is dry, and add sausage to pan, browning and breaking up with a wooden spoon. Remove from pan and pile on top of the squash in the dish.

2. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

3. Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and squash, stirring until liquid comes to a bubble. Smash half the squash with a potato masher and keep some of it in dice shape. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

4. Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and a couple sage leaves. Pretty!

5. Serve pasta with pumpernickel or whole grain bread and a nice salad of arugula, thinly sliced pear or apple, and red onion. Drizzle salad with a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Eat. Smile.

6. Enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day and smile again. ;-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pig in a Blanket (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)





Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
(aka "Golabki", pronounced "Go-WUMP-kee")


My mom made these Polish cabbage rolls growing up all the time, and they are the ultimate comfort food. They are best with mashed taters with lots of butter and either corn, carrots or peas (because you have to have a nice little veggie like that to smush into the mashed potatoes on the plate :-))

Keep in mind this is no "30-minute meal" but that isn't always a bad thing. I love to make these on a lazy Sunday afternoon while the music's playing in the background and I've got time to enjoy every fun little step of the preparation process. You can make these in a crockpot or in your oven, up to you. The reward of this labor of love is sheer deliciousness, and a big old WOW from your family and friends at the table. This is the ultimate cozy supper food!

INGREDIENTS:

1 large head of green cabbage (savoy cabbage is the easiest to roll and the little ripples look very pretty)
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 c. white or brown rice (not quick-cooking or instant)
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp. thyme
pepper to taste
1 meduim can (app. 12 oz) tomato paste
1 large can (28 oz) ground or pureed tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

Fill a stock pot (big enough to fit the whole head of cabbage) with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the cabbage. Bring the water to a boil and, as the leaves become tender (but not cooked), remove the leaves from the head of cabbage layer by layer (you can remove the head from the pot each time you perform this task. Return the cabbage for the next layer or two and so forth). Reserve the outermost, damaged leaves for lining the cooking pot. The largest leaves can be cut in half down the middle.

Combine the beef, rice, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl (don't bother with a spoon - just use your hands.) Line a crockpot or casserole with the outermost leaves. Lay the tender leaves on the counter one at a time a fill with 1-3 tablespoons of mixture, depending on the size of the cabbage leaf. Starting from one long end, roll the leaf, tucking in the sides as you go. Layer the rolls on top of one another in the crockpot or baking dish. With a whisk, combine the tomato paste and puree with a little water. Add thyme. Pour the tomatoes over the rolls. Cook on low in the crockpot or 7 hours, or bake in a covered baking dish and place it in a 250-degree oven for three to four hours.

Serve with mashed buttered potatoes, carrots/corn or peas, and pumpernickel bread with lots of room temperature butter. (No other way!)

 
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