Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chicken Bowl

I have been obsessed with the Chicken Cantina Bowl from Taco Bell.  The ingredients are easy enough so I decided to make my own version!

Here are the ingredients I used-enough for 4 salads:

2 cups rice
1 can black beans drained but not rinsed
1 bag of lettuce
Spice - chipotle or another Mexican blend
2 chicken breast, grilled and sliced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 small can corn, drained
1/2 cup pico
Salsa ranch dressing

Options:  Sour cream and Guacamole

To begin, make the rice and let it cool completely.  Sprinkle the chipotle rub on the chicken.  If you do not have a blended spice like this you can make your own:  salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, chili powder, cumin.  Cook the chicken breast and let it rest while you assemble the salad.

To assemble the salad, put the rice on the bottom of the bowl, and cover with beans and corn.

Add a handful of lettuce, cheese, pico and sliced chicken.  Top with salsa ranch dressing and guacamole or sour cream if you like!

This dish is very versatile.  You can grill a steak and make a steak bowl.  You can make this with taco meat. You can add crumbled taco chips for a little crunch.  Add the ingredients that you like - the possibilities are endless!


Polenta Cakes with Meat Sauce

Sugu...............simply means meat sauce in Italian.  Better yet, it is even simple to make!  For this recipe I wanted to try something unusual, daring, different.  I decided to make polenta cakes and top it with a sausage meat sauce!

If you have never tried polenta I encourage you to do so!  Polenta is cornmeal cooked into a porridge, or fried, in this case.  If you like grits you will love polenta!

Make your polenta according to package directions.  I add butter, cream and Parmesan cheese to mine.  For this recipe you can either make it into a porridge or refrigerate it so that you can fry it later.  A few days ago I made beef short ribs over polenta.  Instead of throwing away the leftover polenta,  I decided to wrap it up and use for this meal!

Before frying your polenta cakes you need to start the sugu.  Here are the ingredients I used:

1 pound Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 can tomato sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons parsley, basil and oregano
2 tablespoons Olive oil for saute

To begin the sauce, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil.  Cook until translucent.

Add the sausage and brown.

Add the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes.  I was able to open a jar of tomato sauce that I canned this summer!

Add the spices and let it simmer until it thickens.  I let mine simmer for an hour.

As that simmers, it is time to fry the polenta cakes.  Take the log of polenta and cut it up.  Heat up a skillet with a little olive oil and pry your cakes.  That's it!

Assemble your polenta cakes on a plate and top with the meat sauce.  I added fresh parsley and Parmesan on the top.

Here you go:  simple, impressive and cheap! 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pignolatas - Honey Clusters

Visiting Nonna at Christmas time meant pignolatas (pin-u-la-tas).  I loved seeing the honey "tree" with the sprinkled candies on the top.  These holiday treats are easy to make.

Here are the ingredients:

2 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
Candy sprinkles
Oil for frying

Measure your flour in a bowl and make a depression in the middle.  Crack your eggs in a separate bowl and whisk until blended.  Pour the eggs into the depression in the flour.

Gently incorporate the flour into the eggs until a dough ball forms.  Take the dough ball and break apart into smaller sections, rolling each section out, like a snake.

In the meantime, heat the honey and sugar.

Cut the dough into 1/2 inch pieces and fry until golden brown.

When the balls are golden brown, remove from the oil and place in a bowl.  Gently toss the honey mixture with the fried balls.

When they are cool enough to handle, stack them on a plate and sprinkle with the candy.

This is an Italian classic.  It is easy to make and super cheap as well!  Just like Nonna used to make!


Steak - Sicilian Style!

I love going to Italian restaurants and ordering a steak (bistecca), smothered with a wonderful sauce.  The problem with this is that it can get expensive!  If you want a restaurant quality steak you can do it yourself for half the cost!

Here are the ingredients:

4 strip steaks (or whatever steak you like)
1 pound sliced mushrooms
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
The juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet.  I like to use my cast iron skillet for steak!  While that is heating up, salt and pepper your steak and dredge it in bread crumbs.

 Make sure your skillet is very hot.  Sear the steak, cooking to the temperature you desire.  I like a nice medium rare steak so I seared my steak for 3 minute on each side.  Be careful not to burn the bread crumbs.

When the steak is cooked to your liking remove it from the pan and let it rest.  Add the mushrooms to the same skillet and cook until softened.  Add salt, pepper and flour.  Stir the flour into the mushrooms. 

Slowly add the wine.  At this point the flour should bind with the liquid, making a thick roux.  Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring as you go.  When the sauce it to the desired thickness, add the lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the steak.  I sprinkled mine with a little fresh parsley and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  I served this with a simple pasta with butter, oil and garlic.  Here is the recipe for the pasta:


Monday, December 29, 2014

Malasadas - Portuguese Doughnuts

 My grandparents retired to the beautiful island of Hawaii.  I was so lucky to be able to visit them twice when I was younger.  While I was there I was always enamored with my Grandpa's kitchen.  He had huge industrial mixers to make breads and rolls.  He was always cooking.  I don't have many recipes of his but recently my mother gave me a few Hawaiian cookbooks that he used.  While paging through the book I discovered this!

I know that to most this old piece of paper might not mean much, but to me, this means the world.  I feel like I have a little piece of my grandfather. 

Malasadas are very popular in Hawaii.  Here is a list of the ingredients I used:

1 cup warm water
1 package yeast
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup mashed potato
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
6 cups flour

Oil to fry the doughnuts in
Cinnamon and sugar to roll the doughnuts

Ok, you probably read the ingredients and asked, "Mashed potato?"  I thought the same thing, but my Grandfather was a great cook and I followed his recipe - I wasn't disappointed!

To begin, I dissolved the yeast and the water.  To activate the yeast I added a teaspoon of the sugar to the yeast water.  You know it is activated when you start getting bubbles/foam in the water.  Once activated, I added the rest of the ingredients until a smooth dough formed.

I was expecting a stiff dough but it wasn't.   The dough moved freely.

Let the dough rise - about 2 hours.  When doubled in size, heat vegetable oil in a large sauce pan or fryer.  When the oil gets to 375 degrees, drop spoonfuls of dough into the hot oil. 

When the donuts are golden brown, remove them from the oil and roll in sugar.  I rolled mine in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

Trevor gave a big thumbs up!

If you haven't taken the time to gather your family recipes, I encourage you to do so.  You might not be interested right now and you might not ever be interested, but if you want them, you will have them.  Keep those handwritten gems.  That way, you will always have a piece of your loved one.


Zesty Sauce

This sauce is my go to sauce.  I make this all of the time!  It is super easy and goes well with fish and chicken.  Here are the ingredients:

4 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 12/ teaspoons of Sriracha

Blend all of the ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.  If you want a little more heat, add a little Sriracha.
Served here with grilled cod - yummy!


Friday, December 26, 2014

Beckys Shrimp Dip

I love this dip and you will too!  My good friend, Becky, whom I miss and love dearly, brought this to my home this summer.  It is super easy to assemble and the flavor is great!  Here are the ingredients:

1 can medium shrimp, drained and chopped
1 block of cream cheese
8 oz of Hellman's mayonnaise
2 green onions, diced
Dash of garlic powder

My addition:  1 tablespoon of Sriracha

Blend all of the ingredients together and refrigerate for a few hours.  If you want a little more kick, add a little more Sriracha!  This is yummy and easy!  Thanks Becky for being such a great cook and a better friend!  I love you!


Sausage Hash

Yummy!  I've discovered a new dish that is cheap, easy to make and very yummy!  Joe loves this new dish and asks for it all of the time.  After years of watching cooking shows and seeing "hash" I thought I would try for myself.  Here are the ingredients that I use in my hash:

1 package of beef smoked sausage, diced
3 slices of bacon, diced
1 onion, sliced
1 cob of corn
1 potato, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1/2 butternut squash, diced
Olive Oil

Prepare by getting your skillet very hot.  Add your oil.  Cook the bacon until crisp and remove from the skillet.

Add the potatoes (white and sweet).  Cook until soft.  Add the onions.  I like to get the edges of the potato and onions a little brown and crisp!

When the potatoes and onions are to your liking, add the sausage, squash and corn.  Continue to cook over medium heat until everything is heated through.  Season with salt and pepper.

 In the picture I did not remove the kernels from the corn.  Since making this, I have decided that I like to add the kernels instead of having the corn as a side.  If you want to get really creative, add a poached or sunny side up egg on top of the hash.  The runny yolk adds an extra bit of creaminess to the crisp potatoes!