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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mex-Tal Stuffed Shells

Does your family often argue over the dinner menu? The dish I have here today will cover the fight for both Mexican and Italian in one easy dish. I have always been afraid of trying to produce the perfect stuffed shell. Good thing for this recipe! The ooey-goodness of the melted cheeses and sauce cover any flaws that happen when you fill up the shells.

(See, you can't see that a shell was split in half while being stuffed!)

15 Jumbo Pasta Shells
1lb Ground Beef
1 (10 ounce) can Enchilada Sauce
8 oz Tomato Sauce
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
¼ teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dried Basil
¼ teaspoon Ground Cumin
½ cup Refried Black Beans
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne
1 cup shredded Italian Blend (or Mexican Blend) cheese

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat brown ground beef until no longer pink. Drain any excess fat. Stir in garlic, oregano, basil, and cumin. Stir in 1/2 can of the enchilada sauce. Stir in refried beans. Set aside.

3. Fill each cooked pasta shell with the beef mixture. Coat an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and pour the remaining can of enchilada sauce with can filled with water evenly over the bottom.

 Place each shell into the bottom of the dish. Pour the tomato sauce over the tops of the shells. Sprinkle with cayenne over top.

4. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. During the last few minutes of cooking, uncover and sprinkle the tops of the shells with Colby-jack cheese. 

Bake until the cheese has melted. Let rest 5 minutes before digging in.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Have you ever had one of those cravings that just will not let you be? Yep, me too. Which is why this week I made my hunny suffer through eating Stuffed Cabbage Rolls... which there really wasn't much suffering involved (he had seconds!). It is definitely not something I choose to eat often, only about once every 3 years or so. And don't get me wrong, I really DO like it, except when you live way out West, with limited amount of fresh produce. Peeling tight fitting cabbage leaves has never been one of my strong points in the kitchen.

Oh yes, that's a meaty sauce on TOP too!

1lb lean Ground Beef
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2 White Mushrooms, chopped
1 Carrot, shredded
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1 cup Cooked Brown Rice
3 tbsp Spicy Brown Mustard
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Ground Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Pepper Corns
1 head Green Cabbage (loose fitting leaves if possible)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Garlic, minced
1 cup Grape Tomatoes, diced
15oz can Tomato Sauce
1 tsp Oregano, dried
2 Bay Leaves
2 tsp Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

1) Start off by browning the beef with the mushrooms, red pepper, carrot and garlic in a large skillet. Drain well, but reserve the skillet.

2) In large bowl, whisk together the egg and mustard until creamy. Add in the meat mixture along with the rice, salt and pepper and stir to incorporate.

3) Preheat oven to 375. Generously spray casserole dish with Pam Olive Oil spray.

4) Fill large pot with water and cabbage head (little trick I learned) then place on stove over medium heat. Do not get the water boiling though! A little heat will help to loosen the tight fitting leaves. If you were lucky enough to have bought the right kind, just skip this. Gently pull off leaves, one at a time until you get 8 leaves. Now, raise the heat up a bit to a low simmer and let the leaves soak (a couple at a time) in the water until they are limp.

5) Using tongs, remove one leaf and let drain back into the pot (make sure to replace it by sliding a fresh leaf under the one already in the pot), then lay it out on a cutting board or any flat surface. Fill with 1/4-1/2 cup of meat mixture.
Gently roll up like a burrito, holding it together with a toothpick slid through the rib. Place, seam side down, in casserole. Continue until all leaves have been filled, reserving any meat mixture left over.

6) Return heat to skillet and add olive oil, garlic, tomato sauce, meat mixture and diced grape tomatoes, stir. Add in oregano, bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper and stir. Cook about 10 minutes on a simmer, stirring frequently so as not to burn the sauce.  Pour over top of the cabbage rolls. Cover casserole dish with tented foil and bake 40 minutes until bubbly.

7) Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan Cheese, serve.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chicken with Peach Bourbon Sauce

A couple of weeks ago, my hunny and I had a little trip to Bastrop, Tx to witness his granddaughter graduate. I tell myself that was the reason for going, but in reality it was the thought of a real grocery store, a Walmart, Target and of course Specs... the liquor warehouse. We also made a stop at this cute tourist trap that sold local peaches and pecans. We had been planning on stopping there for a while just had never gotten around to it.

I found this great little jar of Peach & Jalapeno preserves that I bought for my honey since he loves spicy foods. It was a flavor combination I thought would make a great sauce for grilling. Instead, I cooked it down into this wonderful baked chicken that fell apart when I used tongs to get it out of the pot. DELISH! I also used a Hot and Spicy pre bottled BBQ sauce to add to the kick. Unfortunately, the sugars in the preserves over powered the spicy. So if you want it hot, make sure to add some more peppers!

This serves 2-3 people. The original recipe I found calls for a lot more chicken than what I had so I cut it down.

6 boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs
1 tb Butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
3 tbsp Minced Garlic
1 cup Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon
6oz Bar B Que Sauce
4 oz Peach Preserves
1/2 cup Water
1 tbsp Worechestershire Sauce

Oven to 300

1) Melt butter with oil in heavy pot. Lay thighs in butter and let brown on both sides; remove to platter.

2) Add garlic to the pot and stir. Cook for about 2 minutes and add the bourbon. Stir, scaping the bottom for a couple of minutes to let the liquid reduce down. Pour in BBQ Sauce, peach preserves, water and worechestershire sauce, whisk to incorporate.

Return chicken to pot, draining juices off platter, cover and place in oven.

3) Bake 1 1/2 hours.

4) Serve with mashed potatoes or rice.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shrimp Arrabbiata ala Terri

I bet you all thought I had forgotten about you. You were mistaken. I have just been so busy working at the new Bistro that I barely see my computer much less my own kitchen! I have completely run out of my freezer foods I had stocked up. And with my current one day a week off I do not see it getting replaced anytime soon. But, never fear, I plan on cooking up at least one meal a week now and getting them posted for all to enjoy.

This recipe is a HUGE winner today with my hunny. Allergies prevent me from even tasting it due to the shrimp, but he does have a great pallet so you can take it from him that it is something that will be cooked often in our home. Its quick, easy and uses canned and dried foods most people already have in the kitchenns. The sauce is pretty versatile as long as you do not mind spicy foods. I'm betting it would go great with some Chorizo or Linguisa!

16 oz Angel Hair Pasta, dry
1 tsp Garlic Salt
16 oz Tomato Sauce
4 oz Tomato Paste
2 tsp Oregano, dried
2 tsp Basil, dried
1lb Shrimp, deviened and shelled
2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup White Onion, chopped
2 tsp Garlic, minced
2 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
Garnish Parsley Flakes 
Garnish Parmesan Cheese

1. Cook pasta to package directions, adding garlic salt and 1 tsp basil to water.

2. Meanwhile, in large skillet over med heat, add 1-2 tbsp oil and saute shrimp for 2 minutes each side. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.

3. In saucepan add tomato sauce and paste and stir in oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Heat to just simmer and remove from heat.

4. Meanwhile, in same skillet add 1 tb evoo and saute onions 3 minutes and add garlic, saute 1 minute then add the tomatoes and saute two minutes more. Pour in tomato sauce mixture and remove from heat.

5. To serve, place herbed pasta on plate, then shrimp, then sauce and top with parsley flakes and Parmesan cheese.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dark Chocolate Magic French Fudge

Some of you may have had grandmothers who simply cooked. Didn't matter if it was only a Sunday, not a holiday, just Sunday... they would produce a spread that would cover the kitchen table. Yeah, I remember those days and fondly dream of them from time to time. It was a special memory a lucky few of us have. Now a days there never seems to be enough time to get the family in one room for more than five minutes.

My own mother, God help her, is pretty scary in the kitchen. I think the cooking gene skipped her generation. Although she had held all the family recipes, it's not often when she can master one. So when she finally decided to go digital with them, I was lucky enough to get my hot little hands on one of the cherished books. Below is a simple recipe for fudge. Of course I had to tweak it a bit, but it came out fabulous! Even those out there who is terrified of being in the kitchen can figure this one out!

18oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (I used Dark Chocolate Chips)
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (I used generic, sorry grandma)
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
Pinch of Salt
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (This is my own flavor that works well with dark chocolate)
1/2 cup Chopped Nuts (I used walnuts)

1) In top of a double broiler (if you don't have one, stack 2 pots that sit evenly and add water in the lower pot), melt chocolate over hot water. Add milk, vanilla, salt, cayenne and nuts. Stir until smooth.

2) Turn into a waxed paper lined 8x8 square pan. Place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours to set. Cut into squares and store in an air tight container.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

As some of you know, I am allergic to many, many things. Potassium is among the long list... which means no bananas and no nuts. But one of my most treasured smells for a house to hold is homemade Banana Nut Bread. You can almost see the flavor tendrils weaving their way through every nook and cranny in the house.

My hunny also loves this smell and most definitely eating it. As you may remember, I posted a recipe last year featuring my bread with a nice homemade icing that was "TO-DIE-FOR"! I had some friends out here in the wild west try it out and felt the same way. It's one of those things I HAVE to make once or twice a year, regardless of the reactions I get.

This time around I made 2 loaves... one for him and one for me. Since nuts and bananas both have Potassium I chose to forgo the nuts and replace them with chocolate chunks. All I did was follow the original recipe (find it here) and instead of one loaf, I poured the batter into two loaf pans. On his, I added nuts and gently stirred them in. On mine I chopped up a chocolate bar (about 1 ounce) and gently stirred it in. The baked for the same amount of time in the old recipe for the small loaf.
Chocolate Chunks

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Italian Grilled Tomatoes

I learned this a few years ago while working at a grill down in Seabrook, Tx. The lady who taught me Gidget, is my inspiration for a lot of things in life. She is a strong survivor of brain cancer and still had the umpft to get up and make a big batch of stuffed grape leaves (she grew the grape leaves herself). Of course I had to change a few things... she grilled them and just sprinkled them with white vinegar. After I was done with them, we were selling a plate of them for 6.95.

You want to make about 1 tomato per person as an appetizer.

1 Tomato for each person
2 tbsp Olive or Sesame Oil
Mozzarella, shredded
Balsamic Vinegar

1) Heat large skillet on high with oil.

2) Slice tomatoes about 1/2" thick. They need to be thick so they do not get too mushy in the cooking process.

3) Lay slices in hot oil in skillet and cook for about 1-2 minutes. You want to get a good sear on one side. Flip over and quickly sprinkle with basil then cheese. Cover for about a minute, just long enough for the cheese to melt and quickly remove to a serving plate. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and serve.