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Saturday, November 23, 2013

One meaty cupcake!


I know you are probably saying, "oh no, not another cupcake recipe....!"  Let me explain.  I really love using a large cupcake pan to make things because everything stays together nicely.  Plus, you have individual neat servings as opposed to cutting into a huge pan.  Let's face it, it just looks nice!

I began by lightly mixing a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground pork together.

Set that aside and cook 1/2 a Vidalia onion, chopped, 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped, and 4 slices of bacon, snipped with scissors.

When the onion and bacon are done, add to you mixture, along with about 2 handfuls of spinach, torn up, 1 packet of oatmeal (I used cinnamon flavor, but feel free to use whatever you would like), salt and pepper, fresh snipped parsley, and 2 eggs.  I purposely didn't add any other herbs because I didn't want too many flavors going on at the same time - the cinnamon, bacon, and onion were just right.  When you are combining all of this, try to mix as lightly as possible.  If you mash everything together, the meatloaf is going to come out dry and really dense.

Now it's time to build your individual meatloaf cups.  Start by filling the cup 1/2 full of your meat mixture.  Then add some cheese....any kind will do.  Then, add the rest of your meat.  Try to shape them like a cupcake.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.  While they are baking, there is a sauce you need to make that will go on top, before they finish cooking.  In a saucepan, mix 1/2 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 tbs mustard powder.  Cook over medium heat until everything is dissolved.  Take the meatloaf out and spoon a little sauce over each cupcake.  Back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Now it's time to whip up a quick batch of mashed potatoes (about 3-4 servings ought to do it) to frost your cupcakes.  Follow the package directions, and add garlic powder to taste.
When your cupcakes are done, let them sit for a minute to cool slightly.  Take a sandwich zip-lock bag and cut one of the bottom corners off.  Fill the bag with the mashed potatoes and pipe the potatoes on the tops.

 I cut one open so you could see how the inside looks.   I love how the cheese melts perfectly in the middle.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fish Chowder

Every time I go to Legal Seafood Restaurant, I always get the fish chowder.  I really love it and thought it might be good to try and make it myself.  My research came up with some interesting in particular, that I simply couldn't bring myself to make!  Have you ever heard of strong fish broth?  It involves boiling fish heads and bones!  Nope.  Sorry.  Can't do it!  I did find a pleasing alternative, though.  Clam juice!  Who knew?  The other interesting ingredient was the fish.  I learned that you can buy fish pieces, which turn out to be a variety of white fish, so the flavors are wonderful. 

Here is my list of ingredients:
about 2 tbs butter
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 slices of Panchetta, diced (or you could use 5-6 slices of bacon)
3 tbs flour
2 bottles of clam juice (8 oz each)
about 6 new potatoes, cut up
2 bay leaves
3-4 branches of fresh thyme (use twine to tie them together)
1 1/2 pounds of "fish pieces"
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup either whole milk, 1/2 and 1/2, cream (whichever you would like)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Begin by cooking the Panchetta.  When you have rendered the fat, add the onion and celery, along with the chopped garlic, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. 

Mix in the flour and pour in the clam juice, along with 2 cups of chicken broth.  Whisk until smooth, then add your potatoes and herbs.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.


Now is the time to add your fish.  It only takes about 10 minutes to cook.

At this point, I try to decide how much "soup" I need.  In this case, I added another 2 cups of chicken broth and some heavy cream.  I like my fish chowder to be a little on the rich side, but of course, you can make it as "healthy" as you would like!   If the chowder isn't thick enough, you can always add a little mixture of cornstarch and water.

Braised Lambchops with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, Fresh Rosemary and Garlic

I usually grill these lamb chops, but our weather was not cooperating, so I thought I might try to braise them.  Can I just say it was a great decision and very easy.  

I began by coating the chops with a little salt, pepper and flour.  

Pour a little olive oil in a hot pan and brown on both sides.

Add some fresh chopped rosemary and garlic, and carefully add a cup of beef broth and ½ cup of white wine, trying not to knock off the herbs!

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

The last ingredients to add are cut up artichoke hearts, of course, about a tablespoon of capers (if you have them), and some sliced mushrooms.  

l like the sauce a little bit thick, so I mixed a small amount of cornstarch with some water and slowly poured it into the pan juice, stirring constantly.  It will thicken pretty quickly, so be careful not to use too much.  If the sauce gets too thick, you can add a little more beef broth.

I roasted some butternut squash and cooked up a batch of rice pilaf, and dinner was served.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Simple and Curiously Delicious...Rice with Chicken, Sliced Almonds, and Cinnamon

This dinner is 100% flavors.  Do you know what I mean?  My kids ask me to make this every once in a while, and when I do, there are absolutely no leftovers!  Wait until you hear how simple it is to make!  Here's what you need:

Make 1 cup of your favorite rice (I used Basmati rice, following package directions)
1 package of boneless chicken thighs
roughly ¼ cup of slivered or sliced almonds
about 4 tbs of butter
cinnamon to taste
salt to taste

I begin by making my rice.   I always use chicken broth instead of water.  It gives so much more flavor.   

While the rice is cooking, I heat up a pan with a little butter.   When it is hot, I add the chicken thighs and cover.  After about 5 minutes, turn the chicken and cover.  Another 5 minutes is all you need.  Remove from the heat and shred, using two forks.  I like doing that as opposed to cutting the chicken into nice little cubes!  

Once all of the liquid is absorbed in the rice, add in your almonds and about a teaspoon of cinnamon. Add salt to taste, along with your butter.

Believe it or not, you are done!  All that's left is to roast your brussel sprouts.  Do this by cleaning them and cutting them in half.

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast at 4oo degrees for about 10 minutes.  Stir and continue to roast for another 10 minutes, or until they begin to get some brown tinges.

As soon as you take them out of the oven, grate some lemon zest over them and add a healthy handful of shredded Parmesan cheese, along with a little salt and pepper.

Perfection.....the flavors of the sprouts with the lemon and cheese is to die for!

This whole dinner took about 40 minutes to make.  As I said in the beginning, the ingredients are so simple, but the seasoning is what makes this dinner delicious!  I would love to know what you think....

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pasta with Pork Medallions, Bacon, Mushrooms and Spinach

Your favorite pasta
1 pork tenderloin
mushrooms - as many as you would like
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
spinach - as much as you would like

Sauce ingredients below

Cook your pasta first.  Drain, toss with a little olive oil so it won't stick together, and set aside.

Slice your pork tenderloin into medallions, and lightly pound to flatten them.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Dredge in flour and quickly cook in a hot pan with a small amount of olive oil.  Place on paper towels to drain.  Slice into strips and put aside.

Next, cook 2-3 slices of bacon, drain, then crumble and set aside.

In the same pan, sauté your onion.   When it is just about done, add in the chopped garlic and sliced mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes.  Return the sliced pork and bacon to the pan.  Add the spinach and turn off the heat.

Transfer this to your serving bowl, and use the pan to make your sauce.

½ cup half and half
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
2 tbs Dijon mustard
2 cup Parmesan Cheese
approximately 2 tbs sour cream

Over low heat, whisk the sauce until it is blended.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little crushed red pepper if you want some heat.  Fold the sauce in with all your ingredients.  Feel free to add a little more Parmesan cheese over the top.  The combination of pork, onion and bacon along with the delicious sauce makes this dish loaded with flavor.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Braised Chicken Thighs with mushrooms and spinach

I don't know about you, but the word "braised" just puts me in such a happy place when it comes to a dinner that hits the spot.  It's all about comfort.... tender and juicy meat in an amazing sauce...all done in short order and relatively easy.  So...if I have enticed you, read on.

I used a package of six boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  Pre-heat a pan over high heat.  Spray with a little vegetable oil spray and a little salt and pepper, and add your chicken.  Sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown.  Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, cook your sliced mushrooms with a little butter.   This should help de-glaze your pan.  Add a little salt and pepper and cook until they begin to turn brown.   Now, add about 2 tbs of balsamic vinegar, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Reduce the liquid by half.   At this point, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

If you are good at juggling, blanch about 5-10 garlic cloves, sliced, while everything else is going on!  When done, drain and add to your mushroom sauce.  Pour in about half of a box of chicken or beef broth.  Nestle your browned chicken thighs and bring to a simmer.  Add a bundle of fresh sage, rosemary and thyme that you have tied together with twine.  Turn off the heat and place in your oven for about 30-45 minutes.  Time to rest!

When your timer goes off, take the pan out, remove the chicken, and place the pan back on the stove over medium-high heat, reducing the liquid by about half.  If it doesn't thicken enough, feel free to add a little cornstarch mixed with water, but only add a little at a time, because it will cause it to thicken pretty quickly.  Taste your sauce to see if it needs salt and pepper.

Add your fresh spinach, maybe about two handfuls.  Feel free to add as much as you would like!  As soon as it has wilted, return the chicken to the sauce and stir.  You are finally ready to serve!

This chicken was so tender and juicy, and the flavors were delicious.  I made a batch of rice pilaf to help soak up the sauce.  Oh my.... so delicious!

Individual Spinach Lasagnas.....yum!

Ok, so this is maybe a repeat of my lasagna cupcakes, but I truly felt it was worth repeating, mostly because it was so darn easy, tastes unbelievable, and looks so cool!  I would soooo serve this to company in a heartbeat.

Just to remind are the simple ingredients:

Store-bought spinach ravioli (I plan on 3 per cupcake compartment)
Sweet Italian sausage (a package of 6)
Shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
Shredded Italian cheese blend
my easy sauce recipe 
Simmer 1 can of stewed tomatoes, 1 stick of butter and 1 medium Vidalia onion, roughly cut, for about 30 minutes.  When the onion is nice and tender, use a hand blender and puree.  Add salt and pepper to taste along with some Parmesan cheese and maybe a touch of water or chicken broth if it is too thick.

That's it!   Now, follow me....

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Get the sauce cooking on the stove.  At the same time, cook the ravioli, just until al dente.  They will finish cooking in the oven.  After draining off the water, season with a little onion powder, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese.  I also sprinkled with a little olive oil so they wouldn't stick together.   When you have a free hand, remove casings from the sausages and cook.  When done, drain the fat and add some fresh-cut parsley. 

When you have these three ingredients done, you are ready to start building.

Spray your large cupcake pan with vegetable oil.  Place a generous spoonful of sauce in each compartment.  Next, put 1 ravioli, followed by some shredded cheese, sausage, and sauce.  Repeat another layer, and end with a ravioli (so that each compartment has 3).  Spoon sauce on top and finish with some shredded cheese.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Let them stand for about 5 minutes before serving.  



 Now, time for the oven.  You will need to place either a cookie sheet or a little foil on the rack underneath to catch the excess liquid that always seems to escape during baking..... After 20 minutes, remove and let rest for about 5 minutes.  All you need now is a silicone spatula to scoop these lovely bundles of deliciousness out and onto a nice plate!

And here you go.....  I can't tell you in words just how amazing this looks and tastes!  You will just have to make it yourself and let me know!  Please feel free to substitute any ingredient to make it your own.