Tuesday Dec 18, 2007

Super S'Mores!

My girls and I kicked the homemade marshmallows up a notch and made some Super S'Mores!  Got this idea from Two Fat Al's while doing a vanity search on my marshmallow post.

First we made a fresh graham cracker crust.  We pre-baked this like you would for a key lime or lemon meringue pie.

 

Then we prepared the homemade marshmallows.  Only difference is we added a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract to it.  We spread the marshmallow mixture into dish with the now cooled crust.

Let the marshmallows set for a while, about an hour.  Now we need to melt some chocolate, 2 bags of milk chocolate chips.  I guess my trusty double boiler got the boot when we got some new pots and pans a couple of years ago.  I improvised, and yes that reads Daddy's Cereal Bowl.

Once melted, we spread the chocolate over the semi-set marshmallows.

 

Cross section shot.  This is gonna be good!

 

And to top it off, some crumbled graham crackers!

 

Since I won't be partaking in these, I haven't put too much thought in how to get them out of the pan once the chocolate sets.  Hmmmm.... 

Update:  Wasn't that hard to get them out of the pan.  Scored the chocolate first, then cut slowly with a sharp knife.  I should have baked the crust at a higher temp as it "mostly" held together, but the girls said it was awesome.



Thursday Dec 13, 2007

Roasted Salsa Verde

 

This has got to be one of the best salsas I've ever tasted.  Adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe, you'll find that this goes well on almost anything.  From tortilla chips to chicken, eggs, and fish, everything is better with this awesome salsa.  This makes a large batch of salsa, if you'd like a smaller amount, simply divide the ingredients by two. Be warned though, you'll wish you made the larger batch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Tomatillos, husked
  • 2 large Sweet Onions (Maui, Walla Walla, whatever) - plain yellow onions will do as well
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 4 Jalapenos (deveined and seeded)
  • 2 Serrano Chiles
  • 2 Anaheim peppers (deveined and seeded)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves (about the head of one large bunch)
  • 2 limes, juiced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Spray a glass baking dish or cookie sheet (with sides) with a cooking spray (i.e. Pam)
  3. Slice up your Tomatillos, Onions, Peppers, Chiles and Garlic and place on tray
    • Tip: If you want this salsa to have a huge kick to it, don't devein or deseed the peppers and chiles.
  4. Cook for about 20 minutes
  5. Straight from the oven, put the roasted tomatillos, onions, peppers, chiles and garlic including the juices from cooking into a food processor  (or a large blender)
  6. Add Cilantro, Cumin, Salt, and Lime juice
  7. Blend everything together.  The smoother you like your salsa, the longer you should blend it for.  If you want it "chunky" then use your pulse setting.

Enjoy!  Next time I make this, I'm going to do the roasting on the grill for even more flavor.

 

Sunday Dec 09, 2007

Homemade Marshmallows

I watched Tyler Florence make his Hot Chocolate and Marshmallows the other day and thought I had to try to make them.  I'm glad I did because they were really fun to make! 

I'm normally not a "baker", not that this really qualifies as baking unless disolving sugar over low heat counts.  I didn't have my camera available during the making of them, so I'll share with you the fun part, the eating.  I've provided my changed recipe below including my notes.  Really the only changes I made was to use 3 egg whites (the eggs on the Food Network always look huge to me) and 3 Tbsp of gelatin, which equals 4 of the packets which is the complete one ounce box (I measured it out to be sure).

Cami with the finished product.  She was my helper.

 They cut up nicely.  My wife said I made them too big.  Right.

The verdict:

Recipe:

  • 1  1 ounce box (four packets) of Knox Gelatin
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 16 oz bag (2 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting pan and marshmallows
  • Butter, for greasing pan

Most importantly, you'll need a good mixer like a KitchenAid.  It's probably doable with a hand held mixer, but that would be a workout!

 In a medium sized saucepan soak the gelatin in the cold water. After the gelatin has softened, approximately 10 minutes, add the regular sugar and then gently dissolve over low heat, approximately 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. (Yes, let it cool )

In a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks and then fold in the sifted confectioners' sugar.  This means you stop the blender and use a spatula and keep folding the sugar into it.  It will take a little while and the end result will almost be taffy like.  And yes, you need to sift it otherwise you'll get big clumps.

While the mixer is on low, slowly pour in the cooled gelatin mixture. Increase the speed and beat until white and thick. The volume should double in size and should form between soft and firm peaks.  This took a lot longer than I thought, about 10 minutes or so on the KitchenAid's highest setting.  Probably because I didn't let the gelatin/sugar mixture cool down enough. 

Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with high sides with foil, grease slightly with butter, and coat with confectioners' sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture in and top with more sifted confectioners' sugar. Leave out overnight or for at least 3 hours to set. The marshmallow should be light and spongy when set.

Cut into squares and plop into a mug of hot chocolate (or better yet, straight into your mouth!)

Tuesday Dec 04, 2007

30 Minute Marsala

Yum!  This is so simple and delicious that there's no way anyone will believe that you made it in 1/2 hour.  This recipe was inspired from Elise at Simply Recipes.  I really think hers needs more sauce though! :)

Here's what you need:

  • 4 oz of Pancetta, or Salt Pork, or Bacon (with Pancetta being the most preferred)
  • 1 Sweet Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Shallot, Diced 
  • 2 pounds of chicken breasts, cut in strips (note, the best way is to use really thinly pounded chicken breasts but that takes too long!)
  • 1 cup of Marsala wine
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • Salt, pepper, garlic salt

Cut up the Pancetta (or Salt Pork as seen here or Bacon) into small cubes.  Cook in just a touch of olive oil until browned.

Add your chopped onions and diced shallots and a little salt.

Cook until translucent.  If you like mushrooms, add them now and toss for a few minutes.

Remove from pan.  Add a bit of olive oil to the pan.


Spinkle the chicken breast strips with garlic salt and pepper.  Working in batches, brown up the chicken strips.

After all the chicken is browned, your pan will look like this which is good!

Now deglaze the pan by pouring 1 cup of Marsala wine.  Be careful here because the pan is very hot, splatter is possible and so is flame.  Once the wine is in, scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom.



Bring the wine to a boil and add the heavy cream.  Bring this to a boil stirring constantly.  It should thicken up, if it doesn't then add a tablespoon or two of sour cream or a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch.  Once it starts to get thick, add some salt and pepper to taste.


Add back in the Onion, Shallot, Pancetta/Salt Pork/Bacon (whatever you chose) back to the pan and stir them into the sauce

Add the chicken back to the sauce. Coat in the sauce and also bring back up to serving temperature.


Enjoy!

Saturday Dec 01, 2007

Frittata 101

The S word of the day is scrumptious!

A few weeks ago I snapped a photo of some frittatas I made and wrote a quick post about it.  In the comments, Simon and Melanie asked for recipes. (Not to ignore their comments, Linda and Barb did make me laugh). 

While I'm happy to provide a "How To" on the Frittata front, I'm sorry that I have to disappoint  Mel.  See Mel is currently appliance challenged and is sans oven over in China.  (I'd go nuts!)  An oven is required to make a frittata properly, it's what separates it from the omelettes of the world.  Now it's possible that you could do the baking part on a stove using a good lid or even a double boiler of some sort but you'd have to be careful of direct heat at the bottom of the pan which will most likely result in the worst kind of eggs, burnt ones.

These are super simple to make.  You add what you like and you can get as creative as you want.  I usually make two or three different types due to different tastes in the family.

First start off with what I called the shared ingredients.  These things will go into each frittata, and it's kind of a free for all.  Add what you like.  In this mixture I have:

  • One large maui onion, diced
  • One green bell pepper, diced
  • One red bell pepper, diced
  • One Jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • One shallot
  • 6 strips of turkey bacon, crumbled
  • 2 turkey sausage links, sliced
  • 2 ham steaks, cubed

Any reason I used the above?  None for except I like them and I had them.

Cook that all up with a little bit of olive oil until the onions are just getting translucent.

I'm also going to make one with some mushrooms.  I'm the only fungus fan in the house, so I sauté these sliced baby portobello in a different pan.

 

While I'm waiting on the shared ingredients to finish, I'm going to get a little creative with my mushroom frittata.  I've thin sliced two medium yukon gold potatoes which I seasoned with some garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Into 450 F degree oven for about 15 minutes to get crispy.  This is going to be my "crust".

 

 

When the mushrooms are done, I transfer them to a bowl and then line that pan with my crispy potato thins. 

 

 

On top of that I add some of the shared ingredient mixture, and put back in the mushrooms. 

 

 

For your other frittatas, spray some non-stick cooking spray into oven safe pans and load up them up with your ingredients.  You actually want to turn the stove on now and get the pans up to temperature for the eggs.  I've got three going here, the "plain", mushroom, and a Hawaiian, which is basically just the shared ingredients with pineapple included.  Crushed works best if you have it, and if you are going to use canned, make sure you get the kind packed in juice not syrup.

 


 

Now to add the eggs.  This is about 30 eggs.  I used about 12 whole eggs and 18 egg whites.  Whip the eggs in a large bowl and add salt and pepper.  If you used whole eggs for all of them, the frittata would be super dense.  Using egg whites make the dish lighter, fluffier, and far lower in fat.   Note that I've also added some green/spring onions to the top.

As soon as the eggs start to bubble, it's time for the oven. 



Put your pans into a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  I have a convection oven, so your times may vary.   You'll know they are done because the eggs are firm and you can insert a fork and it comes out cleanly.

 

For the final step, top the frittata with cheese.  I've added a cheddar/colby mix to the mushroom potato frittata and some fresh shredded Parmesan to the Hawaiian.  The flavor of the Parmesan goes great with the sweetness of the pineapple and it creates a nice crispy top.  Back in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted the way you like it.

 

 

Remove from the oven, and let sit for a few minutes.  Remember the pans are extremely hot and will remain so for quite a while.  I forget this every time and I always grab one of the handles when I go to serve the dish.  Ouch.

 

 

Slice like a pie and enjoy.  Simple, economical, and delicious!   

 

Sunday Nov 18, 2007

Sunday Morning Frittatas

The perfect breakfast for a beautiful fall morning.  From the left Denver (minus shrooms), Portobello/Cheddar, Hawaiian.

 

Friday Sep 28, 2007

Hawaiian Meatloaf

 

Sam Choy is a world famous chef that specializes in flavors of the Hawaiian Islands.  In his book, Sam Choy's Island Flavors he has a recipe for a Hawaiian Meatloaf.  Recipezaar has published this recipe on its site (not sure if they are supposed to!).  Regardless, this is some pretty stellar loaf.

This recipe as written is pretty high in fat and carbs.  You can make it as is, or you can try my healthier version.  If you compare the two (or have read any of my past recipes), you'll see that I've about doubled the recipe and that I usually cook in large batches.  I do this for a couple of reasons:  1) I eat six meals a day for my fitness goals.  This helps me keep variety in my diet and allows high quality food to be available when I need it over the course of a few days.  This recipe would feed me for ten meals.  2) I have five kids.  If they happen to like what I make, that's a lot of mouths to feed!

Ingredients (Loaf)

  • 1 Large Maui Onion - Diced
  • 1 Cup of diced celery
  • 2 Lbs of 4% Fat Ground Beef
  • 2 Lbs of Ground Turkey Breast
  • 8 slices of Healthy Choice Turkey Ham
  • 1 Can (20 oz) of Crushed Pineapple in Juice (NOT SYRUP!)- Drained
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of minced ginger
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper - Eye ball it.  (Perhaps 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Salt, 1/2 pepper) 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to combine all the ingredients except the ham.  This is messy, but fun.  Kids love this kind of stuff, at least mine do.  Just make sure you get everything mixed together well.

Pack 1/2 of the mixture in a Large Loaf Pan

Layer the ham slices over the meat loaf

Pack on the rest of the meatloaf mixture on top of the ham. 

Put in oven and cook for 1 hour 15 minutes (There's still more to do, keep reading!)

Ingredients (Glaze)

  • 2 Tbsp of Cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp of Water 
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Orange zest (a few scrapes)
  • 1/2 Cup of Sherry (because I couldn't find Mirin, and Sherry has less sugar)
  • 1/2 Cup of Water
  • 2 Tbsp of Equal Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tsp of minced ginger

Directions (Glaze)

Mix Cornstarch and 4 Tbsp of water in a small bowl and set aside

Mix all other ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Once boiling add the cornstarch water mixture.  Stir until thickened and remove from heat

Final Prep

After meatloaf has cooked, remove from oven (keep oven on) and drain off any fat from the pan.

Apply about 1/2 the glaze to the top of the meat loaf.

Put meatloaf back in oven for 15 minutes

Serving

Let meat loaf stand for at least 10 minutes.

Cut into slices and plate

Spoon on remaining glaze

Enjoy!

 

Monday Sep 24, 2007

Chicken need not be boring

 

One of the things that I eat a lot of is chicken breasts.  The problem is they get boring.  Fast.

One of the things you can do with chicken breast is to make them into a roulade.  While a roulade can really be anything that you wrap around a filling of some sort (Hostess Ho Hos could be considered a roulade) typically they are some form of meat, usually poultry, wrapped around some tasty ingredients.  These can be very healthy, unhealthy, or somewhere in between.  If you are low carbing it, the following is right on target for you.  If you are watching the fat, skip the bacon or use a turkey bacon instead.

Ingredients

  • 8 Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Large tomatoes (or 6-8 Roma Tomatos) - Seeded and diced
  • 1/3 cup of diced shallots
  • 1 pound of bacon (cooked on the crispy side)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves (chopped) 
  • Garlic Salt

Cooking

Preheat oven to 425 F 

Cook the bacon so that it on the crispy side.  Drain on paper towels

Sauté the shallots in the bacon fat until soft - remove and set aside (Don't clean the pan yet!)

Chop or crumble up all the bacon 

In mixing bowl, toss the diced tomatoes, basil, shallots, bacon, and Parmesan cheese.  Add in some garlic salt and set aside.

Place chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound thin with the smooth side of a meat pounder.  The thinner the better IMHO.  If you want them really thin, horizontally slice the chicken breast first.  Repeat for the rest of the breasts.

Lay the chicken breast bone side up and place a few tablespoons of filling in the center.  Rolled up the chicken breast and hold closed with toothpicks.  Repeat.  There will be a considerable amount of "filling" left over.  We'll use that later.

Season the roulades with salt (or garlic salt) 

Brown each side of the roulades in bacon fat (Yikes!  You can omit this step and just let them cook in the oven)

Place on cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove toothpicks and plate the roulades topping with the remaining filling.

Serve with a side of your favorite tomato or Alfredo sauce.

Total prep/cook time:  About 1:15


 



Sunday Sep 23, 2007

Chinese Beef Rolls

What to do with a flank steak?  I was in the mood for something Asian and Google led me here.  Of course I'm going change up the recipe just a bit, I hope you enjoy my adaptation. 

To be honest making the rolls is a bit of a pain, but they are oh so good.  The meat should really marinade for 24 hours, so you need to plan ahead.

Ingredients List

Meat:

  • 1 large flank steak (get one with most the fat removed)

Marinade: 

  • 1/3 Cup of Soy Sauce (I prefer dark)
  • 1 Cup of Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp of minced ginger\* (or 1/4 cup grated ginger)
  • 2 tsp of crushed garlic\* ( or 3 cloves minced)
  • 1 Tbsp of Chili Garlic Sauce

\* Instead of crushing garlic and grating ginger, I buy the fresh pre-crushed/minced varieties you can find at your super market.  Just removes a little of the prep time.

Other:

  • 1/2 Cup of Toasted Sesame Seeds (I prefer to toast my own, but you can buy them pre-toasted)
  • 2 bunches of green onions, green part only.  Sliced in 1/2 the long way.
  • Hoisin Sauce

Directions

Combine all the marinade ingredients and whisk together.  Taste the sauce.  If it tastes like it needs more salt, add a bit more soy.  More kick, add a bit more chili garlic sauce or red pepper flakes.  Reserve a small amount (1/4 cup or so) for dipping sauce if desired (refrigerate).

Put flank steak in a 1 gallon zip lock bag and pour marinade over it.  Zip it, and toss it around to ensure good coverage.

Put in refrigerator and let marinate for 24 hours.  Toss the bag around a few times during this time to make sure all the meat is getting the marinade.

Cooking (Next Day)
  • Remove zip lock bag from refridgerator and let steak come to room temperature
  • Heat your grill up to high (about 600 or so degrees) - Broiler should also be fine if you lack a BBQ
  • Grill about 5 minutes on each side.  This will vary depending on the thickness of the flank steak you got.  To be sure use a meat thermometer and cook until medium rare (or to your liking)
  • Remove steak from grill.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then stick the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes to let it firm up.

Assembly:

With a sharp knife (dull knife, dull chef) slice the flank steak at an angle, against the grain about 1/4" thick.

(Depending on how tapered your flank steak is, the end pieces will probably be too short to use.  Consider them a treat for the cook!)

Your slices should look like this:

 

Smear hoisin sauce on the strip of beef

 

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Use the hand that you didn't use to smear on the hoisin sauce, otherwise the seeds will just be all stuck to your finger.

Place two of the green onion strips on lengthwise.  (After viewing these pictures, it would be a lot easier to roll the meat by making the onions shorter and placing the other direction.  You just won't get the coverage throughout the roll)

Starting at the end and carefully holding the green onions in place, roll up the steak.  Hold together with a toothpick.

 

Repeat until done. 

Serve with reserved marinade for dipping and an ice cold Tsingtao.
 


Thursday Aug 30, 2007

Macadamia Crusted Halibut

This turned out really good and was pretty simple to make.


 

This is really one of those season to taste things, but I'll try to recall exactly what I did.

Heat oven to 375 F. 

In a food processor, mince up 2-3 cloves of garlic

Add about 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of Macadamia nuts

Add about 1/2 cup of a grated Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano Cheese blend.

Pulse that all together so the nuts are chopped nicely.  This mixture should be pretty moist (due to the oil in the nuts), but by no means a paste.

From here you'll want to add some salt and perhaps some other spices until it meets your liking.  I probably used 1 to 2 tsp of Emeril's Essence.  Again, this is a taste thing, get it to your liking.

Cut about 1 pound of fresh Halibut into 3 or 4 pieces.  Rinse and pat fish dry.

Salt the fish (Don't forget it!)

Now comes the fun part.  You need to take the somewhat moist nut mixture and really press it on the fish.  Pack it on both sides.

In non-stick (or cast iron) pan that's at medium high heat, brown the nut mixture on the fish.  You shouldn't need any oil in the pan as there is plenty in the nuts.  When brown, carefully flip and repeat for the other side.  You have to be careful here so the crust stays on the fish.  In other words, don't crowd the pan as you'll need room to handle the spatula properly.  Bad angle means the crust is coming off.

Spray a cookie sheet with some non-stick spray and carefully transfer the fish from the pan to the cookie sheet.

Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes in the oven.

Serve and Enjoy!

As for the Grilled Asparagus, that's simple.  Drizzle some Olive oil over the stalks, get them all covered, dust with some kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and some onion powder.  Cook on grill over medium high heat until each side has some grill marks in them.  Doesn't take long and is the absolute best way to make asparagus. 

Future Fish

Since it hasn't even been packed yet, I'm wondering if it's even been caught yet.

Wednesday Aug 15, 2007

Spanish Rice

This is restaurant quality spanish/mexican rice.  Seriously good and good fiber (which means less carbs) if made with brown rice.


Ingredients:

1 Large Tomato - Diced (squeeze the guts out first)

1 Jalapeño - Diced (remove seeds for less heat)

1 Serrano - Diced

2 cloves of Garlic - Diced

2 Green onions - chopped (including the white parts)

1/4 Red Onion - Diced

1/2 Bell Pepper - Diced (You choose the color) 

1 TBSP Kosher Salt

1 TBSP Chili Powder

3  cups of cooked brown rice

Instructions:

Sauté all the veggies (and fruits if being picky) in a bit of olive oil.  Add the salt and chili powder.  Cook until red onion is translucent and cumin from the chili powder is fragrant.

Stir in the brown rice.  Cook over a high heat for a few minutes, allowing any liquid in the pan to evaporate/incorporate.  A bit of "fried" appearance to the rice only will add flavor.

Friday Aug 03, 2007

Mojo Sauce

Mojo is a marinade that typically has two things in common regardless of variation.  Citrus and Garlic.  Here's my variation on the theme which is more common with Mexican style cooking than with Cuban where you also find a lot of mojo.

You can make this and marinate almost any meat and it will turn out fantastic.  For chicken and beef, I like to cut into strips so the flavor goes everywhere.  Chicken breasts cut lengthwise into four strips is about the perfect size.  For beef, you could use a cut of top round cut into 1" strips against the grain.  Top round is usually labeled London Broil although it is really a cooking style not a cut of meat.  My favorite is shrimp.  You must however get raw, shell on for this to work right.  Find a larger shrimp (U12 is perfect) that is raw, but de-veined.  Open up the shells a bit so the mojo can get around the meat.  The skin of the shrimp will actually prevent most marinades from penetrating, but the slice from the where it was de-veined will allow the mojo goodness to penetrate.

1 Large bunch of Cilantro (Stems on or off if you like the flavor of the stems)

2 Oranges (Juiced)

3 Limes (Juiced)

5 cloves of garlic (If you don't have a good blender, chop these up)

1 Jalepeno (seeded if you want less heat)

2 Green Onions (Including the white part) 

1 Serrano (take the stem off)

Tbsp of Kosher Salt

A few grinds from the pepper grinder

1/2 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp of white vinegar

(Makes enough marinade for about 4 or 5 pounds of meat) 

Throw that all in a blender and blend up.  Taste and add more salt if desired.  Reserve a bit of the sauce for dipping, then throw your meats into a 1 gallon ziplock bag and pour in the marinade.  Toss bag around to ensure you get good coverage and let sit in fridge for up to two hours.

For the shrimp, cook with the shell on.  Put the shrimp through skewers.

Cook on hot grill (where you can hold your hand over for 2-3 seconds). 

Flip once they turn orange, then do the same for the other side. 

They are done when they are orange on both sides, don't overcook!  Serve with beer and the reserved Mojo for dipping. 

Your choice to serve with the shells on or not, they come off really easy and it's actually kind of fun and slows down the pace of the meal to have the diners do it themselves.

About

My name is Craig Bender aka ThinGuy. I'm a Principal Software Developer for Oracle's Virtual Desktop Engineering group.

I architect and evangelize the use of Oracle's Desktop technology including Sun Ray, Secure Global Desktop, and Oracle VDI.

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