Sunday, December 04, 2005
The weather here in Tampa this first weekend in December was absolutely beautiful with 75+ degree sunny days and with working 45+ hours a week, finding quality shortcuts in the kitchen is what I strive very hard to do. I have to confess that I did purchase frozen bread dough which I have found to be a very viable replacement for the homemade version and works wonderfully for stromboli's!
After a good refrigerator thaw and a good rise, I flour the board and give the dough a good stretching. I even use a rolling pin make it even. I then begin with a thin layer of marinara, then ham and finally the cheese. I leave a margin of empty dough opposite from the side I start rolling. After it's rolled, I pinch the seams closed and seal up the ends. It's then placed seamed side down seam side down on a greased backing pan. Be sure put a few steam vents slits on the top. It's then baked for about 25-30 minutes in a well pre-heated 375 degree oven until golden brown. Don't be upset if it leaks a little. I find that that it adds to the character and taste of the stromboli.
The variations you can use for the ingredients are as many as the your imagination and taste buds can conjure.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
The sauce that is left on the bottom is so delicious that I will freeze it or use it for something else. I had made roasted chicken the next night and we used it to pour over the rice.
I was going to take the pork out of the pot to plate them and snap some pictures. However, I decided to just snap the picture as they were. This shows you exactly what they looked like when I took them off the stove. I usually serve this with plain white rice and a vegetable. It would also work well with potatoes.
Some Notes on the Recipe:
Pork - If I need to sear one at a time, I reserve them on a plate to trap any of the flavorful juices that escape. Boneless chicken breast work well too.
Oil - I use a blend of Olive/Canola oil.
Wine - You can certainly use red wine in a pinch. The white I use is generally on the dryer side and don't hesitate to use less if desired. You can certainly substitute chicken or beef stock.
Salsa - I like using Pace Picante Sauce because it is nice and chunky. Picante means hot in Spanish but we use the mild version. I also like using Cha chi's Mango Salsa. Using a "sweeter" salsa/picante sauce is a preferential taste, which I think adds another layer of flavor to this dish. You can substitute sugar for the Splenda.
Here's the recipe:
Smothered Pork Chops - Picante Style
2 Boneless Pork chops
2 Tbsp Cooking oil, more if needed
2/3 Cup White Wine
1 1/2 Cups Pace Picante
2 Packs of Splenda
Place salsa in small mixing bowl, add splenda. Mix well and set aside.
Heat oil over medium-high heat. Quickly sear/brown pork chops on both sides, one at a time if necessary. Remove from pot.
Being very careful as this will splatter, slowly pour wine into the pot and deglaze. Allow alcohol to evaporate. Place pork chops back into pot including any juices that escaped. They may overlap if needed.
Spoon all the salsa/picante sauce over chops. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover loosley. Cook 20 minutes, less if pork is thinner, longer if thicker.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
We were invited to play cards that upcoming weekend and I thought what a perfect excuse, like I needed one, to give this a try. Personally, I loved it. Because it contains artichoke hearts, I think some people shyed away from it. But the lemon zest does give it a nice fresh flavor. However, next time I think I will use a little less as it can be so strong.
I doubled the recipe as I wanted some left over since it is very low-carb! Although it pairs very well with a good dipping chip, cracker and even torn bread, I wanted to keep within the low-carb range and took one of my carb chopper tortillia's and made it into a wrap. I like to cut them into slices, as shown in the picture on the right. It makes them easier to eat and it also makes a great appeitzer for guests.
And like any good dip, it thought it got better after 2 days in the refrigerator.
There recipe follows, and here is the link which also contains a recipe for crispy pitas, which for some reason they didn't do in the show. I guess they ran out of time. Enjoy!
Spinach, Artichoke and Bacon Dip
from Party Line with Dan & Steve
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
10 bacon strips, fried until crisp and crumbled
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Crispy Pitas, recipe followsHeat the vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium low heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot softens and the garlic begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the spinach in a colander and squeeze out all of the excess water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the artichoke hearts, crumbled bacon, cooked garlic and shallot, lemon zest, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mix well with a rubber spatula, and transfer to a decorative bowl. Allow to sit for 30 minutes before serving so the flavors can blend. Serve with crispy pitas.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Click Here for the link to the recipe:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.
Yield: 24 bars.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Notes on the recipe:
Once you start prepping, it's very easy to make a few of these at a time, I just use the regular oven instead of the toaster oven.
Chopped fresh Basil and other fresh herbs work well if available.
Rule of Thumb For This Recipe: Any ingredient that contains a lot of moisture will soak into the wrap causing it to become very soggy and limp.
The picture shown above was made with cheddar and monterey jack cheeses.
Mini Low-Carb Pizza
1 Low-Carb Tortilla
1/4 cup of grated cheese, mozzarella, cheddar and monterey jack work best.
1 plum/roma tomato sliced (Roasted Peppers work well too)
First, bake/broil the tortilla wrap on a piece of aluminum foil as to remove a fair amount of the moisture until it starts to turn lightly brown. The ends will begin to curl up. My method is 5 mins. on one side and then I flip it and 5 mins. on the second side. If you skip this step, the pizza will turn out very soft and limp.
While the wrap is baking, I slice the tomato, lay them out on paper towel and sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt to draw out excess water. This will prevent the pizza from becoming soggy.
Next, if I grate the cheese(s) if necessary. Buying pre-shredded cheese saves time but it's not as fresh.
When the wrap is finished baking, remove it from the oven and I spread the cheese on top and then the tomato slices, sprinkle it with any of the following: oregano, italian seasoning, garlic powder or fresh herbs. It then gets put it back in the oven for about 3-5 mins until the cheese is melted and the ends of the wrap start to turn golden brown.
Remove from oven, let stand 1 minute and enjoy! I usually get the pizza cutter out and cut it into 8 slices.
Tomatoes sliced, salted and on two paper towels. After they've sat for a few minutes, I take a third paper towel and press down on them from the top. It's amazing how much water tomatoes contain. I tend to use plum or roma tomatoes as they contain less water and are meatier. I leave them on top when I put them on the pizza as it lets the water evaporate instead of being trapped under the cheese.
Monteray Jack and Chedder cheese freshly grated and ready to go! It's amazing how expensive cheese can be. I usually try and buy it whole and grate it myself. You just can't compare to it being freshly grated. I generally use a combination of either these two and/or mozzerella. I've even used regular American, Swiss, Asiago or Fontina. I've even grated parmesian reggiano or locatelli when I have them.
Friday, October 07, 2005
First and foremost... there are NO advertisements!! Can't say enough about that! Ok.. one more time... NO ADVERTISEMENTS!
Christpher Kimball's editorial usually brings a warm smile to my face as he shares the current happenings of the season.
The next couple of pages are filled with Notes From Readers and Quick Tips. Can I tell you how much I learn from these pages? Ok I will... the facts, tips, advice, experiences that are published are practical ideas that one can incorporate into every day kitchen life.
The remaing pages are filled with recipes, recipe make-overs, improvements and tests, equipment testing results, step-by-step instructions as well techniques and "Cook's extra" which allows you to key in codes that are valid for a certain period of time. An expiration date is listed.
A smile always appears on my face when it arrives in the mail. I know it's going to bring me together with a delicious cup of coffee or tea. Maybe I should do that more often... guess it's time to subscribe to it's sister magazine... Cook's Country....
Thursday, October 06, 2005
What had initially caught my eye that it is a "natural" peanut butter. Since we've moved to Tampa I have been unable to find Crazy Richard's Peanut Butter which only ingredient is Peanuts. There are similar products out on the market, but the texture and taste just isn't the same. I do have a jar of "low-carb" peanut butter that serves in a pinch, but it isn't my favorite.
The second item that grabbed my attention is that it is fortified with Flaxseed and Flaxseed oil.
This is the first product on the market that I've seen, without going into a health food store, that contains Flaxseed! Three Cheers to The Peanut Snack Company for this wonderful and healthy product.
It came in two-pack of one pound jars each and it cost $4.64, which I thought was a great price!
Here's the breakdown and check their website out for additional information:
Serving Size: about 2 tbsp (35g/1.23oz)
Serving Per container: about 13
Fat Calories: 98
Total Fat: 11 G 19%
Sat. Fat 2g 9%
Omega-3 4.1g 8%
Omega-6 1.2g 1%
Cholest. 0 mg
Total Carbs: 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%
Protein: 10g 26%
Folic Acid: 58%
Vitamin E: 5%
Ingredients: Roasted Peanuts, Egg Whites, Wheat Germ, Flaxseed, Flax Oil, Honey, Salt
All Ingredients Proudly Grown in the U.S.A.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
It's fiber is used to produce Linen.
It's oil is often called Linseed Oil.
It's origins go as far back to ancient Egypt as flax seeds and cloth have been found in tombs.
Homer mentions it in the Odyssey.
I first found found flaxseed meal in a local natural food store. I purchased it because it is low in carbs. Check out my entry on Low Carb Pizza Dough.
From UC Berkley Wellness Center / Wellness Guide to Dietary Supplements
Claims, Benefits: Prevents heart disease and cancer.
Bottom Line: Flaxseed oil is heart-healthy because it contains alpha-linolenic acid. Flaxseed itself (ground or whole) also contains lignans, which may have antioxidant actions and may help protect against certain cancers, though this is
far from certain. Skip flaxseed supplements, though.
The following comes from Shirley's Wellness Cafe:
"The human body cannot function properly without two polyunsaturated fats - linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid. These fatty acids, which are found in Flaxseed Oil are truly to normal cell structure and body function."Flax Council of Canada -
Both brown and golden flax seeds have plenty of lignans and dietary fibre, and both contain more than 50 per cent alpha-linolenic acid. This is an omega-3 fat which offers you health and heart fitness.
Kookie KutterIts high content of alpha linolenic acids has made the ancient flax seed become our modern miracle food. Alpha linolenic acid is a type of omega 3 fatty acid, similar to those found in fish such as salmon. Benefits of flax seed as shown in many studies include lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the Bad cholesterol) levels. Other benefits show that flax seed may also help lower blood triglyceride (Also Read: How to lower Triglycerides?) and blood pressure. It may also keep platelets from becoming sticky therefore reducing the chance of a heart attack.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Pumpkin Struesel Muffins
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
6 ounces cream cheese, cut into 24 small chunks
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg and set aside.
Place pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs, milk and oil. Add flour mixture and stir until moistened and combined. Line two 12 inch muffin tins with paper liners and fill half full. Place once cream cheese chunk in center of batter in each muffin cup and top with remaining batter.
Bake 20-25 minutes.
yield: 24 muffins
Saturday, August 20, 2005
The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which oil begins to decompose and it is during that process that it begins to give off fumes or smoke. This will affect the flavor of the food. Use an instant read or candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Successful frying relies on the right temperatures.
Oils like Canola, Peanut, Vegetable and Sunflower have fairly high smoking points and are best for deep frying. The refining process of an oil also increases it smoke point.
If you don't have a thermometer handy, CookingVillage.com offered this explanation:
Alternatively, oil can be tested by dropping a cube of white bread into the hot oil. If it browns uniformly in 60 seconds, the temperature is 350 to 365F; 40 seconds, the temperature is about 365 to 382F; 20 seconds, the temperature is about 382 to 390F.It was found in their "Tiptionary" section
Extra virgin olive oil that is cold pressed will have a very low smoking point at approximatley 200°F. It has Great Flavor and I tend to use it more for salad dressings and mixing. Check out The World's Healthiest Foods - WHFoods.org, as this is some good information on olive oil and smoke points.
Companies are always coming with new types of oils as noted in the earlier entry I posted on Olivio Premium Spread who also produce an olive-canola oil mix. This provides you with some of the great taste and benefits of olive oil while raising the smoke point by adding canola.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Recipe Based On: Reverse Engineering. Tyler Florence has a great recipe that's become my staple. It has always produced very nice pizza dough, so I went with what I knew worked.
Pizza Dough - Tyler Florence
From Food Network.com
Show: Food 911
Episode: Pizza Party
Yield: 3 Pizza Crusts
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups 00 flour, plus more for dusting
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium; stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough by squeezing a small amount together: if it's crumbly, add more water; if it's sticky, add more flour - 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix until the dough gathers into a ball, this should take about 5 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times; kneading until it's smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot (i.e. over a gas pilot light) until doubled in size, about 1 hour. This is a good time to stick a pizza stone in the oven and preheat them to 500 degrees F.
Once the dough is domed and spongy, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll and stretch the dough into a cylinder and divide into 3 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes so it will be easier to roll out.
Roll or pat out a piece of dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Dust a pizza paddle with flour and slide it under the pizza dough. Brush the crust with a thin layer of olive oil, and top with your favorite flavors. Slide the pizza onto the hot stone in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Lowered Carb Recipe - First Try:
What I Did: Substitute the 3 cups of flour with:
1 1/2 cups of White Flour
1 cup Soy Flour
1/2 cup Flaxseed Meal
This is a close-up of the dough after rising and right before I started to roll some out. I only used about a one-third of it and put the rest in the freezer. We'll see how it holds up in a week or two.
When Mixing: It ended up taking one and 3/4 cups of flour.
Results: The dough rose very nicely. It was easy to work with, rolled out cleanly and baked very well making some very tasty cheese and spinach calzones.
Bottom Line: An excellent pizza dough and definitley a much healthier dough than an all white flour dough but I still want to decrease the amount of white flour.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
The first picture shows a side-by-side comparison showing what the sheet looks like when it comes out as spaghetti. As the pasta is cut, it is floured well to prevent sticking and put into containers headed for the freezer. I place the pasta in the containers as I'd want them come apart in boling water; gently laid on top of each other so that they come apart easily with no clumping or sticking. Lots O'Flour!! The third picture shows plain fettuccini getting ready for freezing. Before being run through the cutters, we cut the sheets of pasta into "normal" eating lengths. You don't want to handle them to much after they've been cut. You also can hang pasta to dry. When completely dry, you can safely store pasta without having to be refrigerated or frozen. I personally don't prefer this method because when they are dried, they are extremely delicate and can break easily.
When getting ready to cook the pasta, I ONLY take the pasta out of the freezer a minute before going into the boiling water. If you allow them to defrost, the water will combine with the flour and give you a gelatenous mess
I've kept pasta frozen, sealed very well, for up to 8 months and still tasted great. Although, it never lasts that long in the freezer.!
I guess I should do a "Making Pasta - Part IV" in the future when I have the digital camera around and it's cooked and dressed with gravy! Dee as well as others who cook with me in the kitchen often say that is like a "therapy" session for them. So if anyone in the Tampa Bay area needs some "therapy", give me a buzz!
Monday, August 08, 2005
We usually have some type of fresh pasta dish on pasta making day. One of the greatest pleasures is deciding what kinda of sauce we are going to have that night for dinner since it is such a treat to have fresh pasta as it is oh so delicious!
Sunday, August 07, 2005
First I steamed the green beans until just tender and then ran them under cold water and drained and set aside.
Next, using my biggest frying pan, filling it about 3/4" of water and bring it up to a boil, I stirred in about 5 tablespoons of some Kraft Carb Well BBQ sauce and some fresh ground pepper. I placed the chicken in the bubbly BBQ Sauce mixture and flipped them after 3-4 minutes for another 3-5 mins. I placed them on a paper towel lined plate and blotted them dry, cooled and then cut into strips, about 1/4"-1/2" wide.
With low-carb wraps (Mission Carb Balance Soft Taco Size Tortillas), then smeared some low-fat sour cream (I made a blend of sour cream and BBQ sauce for mine) and then staggered the chicken and string beans, wrapped it tightly and cut it in half!
This is another versatile recipe where the ingredients are interchangeable, pork or beef for the chicken, any vegetable you want for the string beans although I would be sure cut them in thin strips/julienned. Lastly use whatever sauces and condiments you desire! You could also marinate the string beans too!
I attempted twice to calculate the nutrition information in a program that I have and it crashed twice. I do remember the calories being around 262 each with 8g Net Carbs. NOT to shabby in my book!! I was asked if we could have more of these at our lunch and dinner table! Absolutely!
P.S. - If anyone knows of a good "freeware" nutrition calculator, please let me know!
Saturday, August 06, 2005
The top picture shows just about 4 cups of sifted flour. I usually just sift it right onto the cutting board. I started with 4 cups since this was a batch of spinach pasta.
In the middle picture I made a well in the flour and cracked 4 eggs and a added a pinch of salt. It's at this step that you can just use all egg yolks and a tablespoon or two of water. You'll get a much richer pasta. You can also use 2 eggs and 3 egg yolks. You get the idea. Next, with a fork I start beating the eggs but being careful not to break the flour ring as the egg will come pouring out.
I then start adding the spinach puree and continue beating the egg mixture. Additionally I start taking on more flour from about the rim an keep going until it gets too think for the fork. I then switch to my hands and finish until the dough is formed. It is needed for about 5 minutes and it should continue to take on more flour the more you kneed. It is then either put under a bowl or wrapped up in plastic and let to rest for at least 30 minutes.
I will make all my dough first. This particular day we made two batches each of plain and spinach. And that pretty much concludes the first part! This last picture shows all tools that we used!
On television, Mary Ann Espisito from Ciao Italia! as well as Lidia are always doing something interesting with homemade pasta dough! They are my teachers. Making homemade pasta is fun and we have such a good time, especially if a bottle of wine is involved!
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Our Blueberry Bush, West Chester, PA - Taken August 3, 2005.
Check out Blueberry.org for everything you wanted to know. Be sure click on the Nutrition tab, I was amazed how many vitamins and minerals they contain!
We had a nice crop this year!!
I'm really going to miss this blueberry bush when we move to Tampa!
Monday, August 01, 2005
Also on my Tivo Top Ten List, the recent episode of "Truck Stop Classics" on America's Test Kitchen, featured a Chicken Fried Steak recipe I've been wanting to make ever since I watched it. In this episode, the lovely Julia demonstrates how to make some of the best chicken fried steak I've ever had.
The steak is tender with a great crispy crust and the homemade gravy is equally as delicious and the two pair very well in this classic southern dish.
There are a few steps involved and you can probably still catch this episode in repeat as of this writing, as it's worth watching. Coconut cream pie, which looked amazing, finishes off the show.
This recipe is currently availabe on America's Test Kitchen website. They do require you to register, free of charge, to view the recipes of the current season. The printed recipe from the website provides great instructions.
It has definitly found a place in my recipe repertoire. I'm already planning on making this for our friends, Steve & Brent, as this is something I think they will really enjoy! That tells you just how good it was since I want to serve this to our friends for dinner!
I was bummed I didn't haven't the digital camera handy when I made it tonight for dinner as it got very high marks at the dinner table! (I was even making yummy noises) Next Time!
Thank You, America's Test Kitchen, for giving us a great way to make some really good down-home Chicken Fried Steak!! Definitly was worth the effort!
Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - Made this again for dinner for Stevie and Dee... here's the pic!