Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why I Am NOT a Iron Chef....

Sometimes you see a idea by an accomplished chef and think to yourself "That looks easy! I can do that!" Then the reality sets in when you are trying to hold things together with toothpicks. This was the case with Michael Simons' zucchini wrapped salmon. Firstly I am didn't have a mandolin. I am afraid I am going to chop my fingers off.  I used a potato peeler as the site suggested. You can check out the full recipe on I also used what I had on hand. I don't keep anchovies on hand. I ended up baking my salmon because I thought the time of 3 minutes per side was a little low.

I peeled out the zucchini slices, slathered each piece of salmon with Dijon mustard and dill, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I laid out the zucchini slices and then put the salmon flesh side down onto the  zucchini. Here was the hard part. I had trouble inverting the salmon once it was in the frying pan. I tried tooth picking the salmon with little success. I browned each piece for 3-5 minutes a side. I basted each of them again with the Dijon sauce before putting into the oven. I baked at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. The salmon should be springy to the touch.

Along with the salmon I made quick cooking polenta. Be careful! Polenta really sticks to your skin and could give you a good burn! The key is to keep stirring and add your cheese and seasoning along with some butter at the end.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Two Alternatives to French Fries for the Fourth

Serving french fries with hamburgers or sandwiches can become boring. Over the last few weeks I made two different alternatives to plain old fries, fried pickles, and fried zucchini. You can make the zucininni fries baked or fried but I highly recommend frying the pickles. They use very little oil and are done in a flash.

Southern Fried Pickles

plain flour
I will be jarring my own pickles in about a month or so. In the meantime, for this recipe I used store bought hamburger pickles. The breading is seasoned flour with a touch of breading magic or you could use any type of Cajun seasoning.

3 cups flour divided
2 TBSP Cajun seasoning (like Zatarans Creole)
1 egg beaten with 1/2 cup milk
2 inches vegetable oil for frying
salt and pepper
a slotted spoon for draining, a table spoon (for flipping) is helpful.

step 2 into the eggs 
It is good to use the one clean hand, one dirty hand method here and with all frying. That way you have one hand clean to remove items from the pan with the clean hand. I also use paper plates for fast clean up. Divide the flour among two plates and add seasoning to one of the plates of flour. Preheat the oil on low heat in a frying pan.
Firstly add the pickles to the plate without the seasoning. This will help the egg and seasoned flour sick butter. Next dip the pickles in the seasoned batter and set aside until you have about 10-12 pickles ready to go.
 The oil will begin to ripple at the bottom when ready. Add about 10-12 pickles at a time. I used about half of the jar.
I also used a spoon to flip the pickles over after 2-
step 3 into the seasoned flour 

 3 minutes of cooking time per side. They were then moved to paper towels and drained.  As they come out of the oil, season with Kosher salt and some pepper. They go perfectly with ranch dressing and hamburgers.

step 4 frying the pickles
These are sure to be a hit in your house!

Zucchini Fries

These can be baked in a 375 degree oven by spraying the pan and the tops and the cookie sheet with Pam and baking for 30 minutes(flipping half way through) Or you can use the oil method with about 1/2 cup oil in a medium sauce pan. That is the method I used for these Zucchini fries.

4 large zucchini cut into planks and then fry sized pieces
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 cup All purpose flour divided
salt and pepper
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk combined

Begin by heating the veggie oil in a medium sauce pan. Add 1 cup of the flour with the Panko and regular
bread crumbs. You will be using the same breading method above. Have one plate with a cup of regular flour where the zucchini goes first. Then dip into the egg and milk mixture and then into the bread crumbs.
Fry for 3-4 minutes per side and drain on a paper bag or paper towels. Season with salt as soon as you remove them from the oil.
Your family will love them!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Semi-Homemade Chili Cheese Potatoes

One thing I used to love about Wendy's was their chili cheese potato. I have school Monday through Thursday so time is of the essence. While I was at school I had my husband put some large potatoes in the oven at 375 degrees for about a hour. He rubbed them in oil and they were flipped over once during heating. They were each stabbed with a knife to check to see if they were done. I had a can of vegetarian Hormel Chili I had accidentally bought and added some browned ground beef to it along with cheese and sour cream.


To open up the potato cut a cross into it and push the long ends together. For added zest add jalapenos.

This was a really filling meal even though it's 80 degrees out!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

AArti's Pistachio Pops Revised

I found these pistachio pops on the foodnetwork site last year and found them to be too rich and calorie laden. I replaced some of the sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream with non fat sweetened condensed milk and skim milk. I used a smidgen of heavy cream. The Earl Grey tea makes this adult popsicle very refreshing. My kids even like it!  These are a nice snack for those hot summer days to come.

Pistachio Pops

1 12oz. can fat free sweetened condensed milk
4 oz heavy cream
12 oz. fat free skim milk
4 Earl Grey tea bags snipped
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 cup crushed pistachios
2 plastic ice popsicle containers

In a sauce pan add the condensed milk and skim milk. Bring to a simmer. Snip the ends off of four Earl Grey tea bags and pour into the milk. Turn off the heat and let steep for 30 minutes.

Next place a siv over a bowl and pour the tea infused milk over the siv. Use a spoon to push the milk through the tea grounds. Next add the heavy cream and half of the chopped pistachios. Stir and pour into the molds. Garnish with the remaining pistachios and put the sticks in.

Stick in the freezer for 12 hours. Run under cold water to release from the molds. You may also need to run a sharp knife inside the container. Enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review of Cobb Salad Pizza

I got this one in my in box from today and it was on my plate for dinner tonight, Cobb Salad Pizza. I changed a few things in the recipe but it still came out delicious! On top of that, I got my greens in too!

My grocery store has pre-made pizza dough in the frozen section. All I had to do was let it thaw and sit on the counter for an hour. I dusted my baking sheet with some corn meal and olive oil. On top of that I pressed out the dough which I had stretched out with my hand. I tried my best to pinch together any holes.

I baked it per the package directions at 425 degrees. I pulled the crust out of the oven after 8 minutes and added 1/4 c. blue cheese which I sprinkled all over the crust. The crust was removed from the oven after 2 more minutes and left to cool.

I used my indoor grill to grill 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts that I seasoned with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, I made the salad which they said to use mixed greens but I used regular lettuce. It also
had grape tomatoes, a whole avocado diced, and 1/4 red onion diced.

The dressing was made with 1/4 cup olive oil 1 TBSP vinegar, 1 TBSP Dijon mustard, and 1/4 cup oil, a pinch of salt, and pepper.  To that I added 1/4 cup Oscar Meyer fresh bacon bits. I first tossed the chicken in it that I cut on the diagonal and then mixed it with the salad. The salad was then placed upon the crust and served immediately. All in all, I loved the taste and will make this again.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crock Pot Pork Carnita Corn Tacos

About a week ago I purchased this huge pork shoulder (picnic style) and ended up with three pretty big roasts. Today I threw one of those pork roasts into the crock pot and ended up making pork carnitas. Usually carnitas are a variation of different types of pork but I used what could be considered a pork shoulder. The pork itself was about 2 lbs. I seasoned it with sea salt and Cumin and add it with a little water in a crock pot. I added two chopped potatoes to it. You could also add veggies such as green beans.  It cooked all day for 8 hours on high.

I then removed the roast and pulled it apart with two forks. I  seasoned with two TBSP of taco seasoning and about 1/2 tsp. Adobo. On the stove, in a small amount of oil, I fried the corn tortillas on each side to warm them up and then drained them on paper towels. I served mine with my home made jalapenos, some pinto beans, and chicken rice.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Party Day: Hostess Cake, Pulled Pork, Mom's Baked Beans and Baby Twice Baked Potatoes...

I did all of the prep yesterday for my party today and everything is heating up right now. Another thing I made yesterday was a Hostess Cupcake cake. It is semi homemade and I used a regular frosting rather than going the ganache route.
Hostess Cake

4  eggs beaten
1 Devils food cake box
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
You can bake these in two 9" rounds but I opted for two long 9x13 pans. Combine all the ingredients and mix until smooth. I divided the batter into two greased pans and baked for about 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick beginning at 25 minutes. The cake is done when it pulls away from the side of the pan and the toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool. You will be stacking these cakes so decide which looks better and you want for the top.

The filling

2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 tsp of water

Make dutch oven by using a sauce pan with water filled half way up and brought to a simmer. Add a glass or metal bowl and make sure the water is not touching the bowl. Add the sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, and water. With a hand mixer blend until stiff peaks form (around 7 minutes) Because you are tempering the egg whites, they are safe to eat. Cool down and reserve 1/4 cup for the signature swirl.

Just in case, here is the ganche frosting recipe.

Ganache Frosting
1 1/2 lbs chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP lt. corn syrup
1/4 cup butter diced

Use the same double boiler method as for the filling. Be sure stir as it heats. You do not want to burn the chocolate. Once again, make sure the bowl does not come in direct contact with the water. Let cool and pour over the cakes, top with

As I said before, I used a canned frosting but you can make the signature chocolate ganache frosting by melting down chocolate chips and milk. Make the signature loops on the top of the frosting and enjoy!

This is one of my favorite summer dishes my Mom makes and it will be the hit of your cookout!

Mom's Baked Beans

3 large cans of Bush's baked original beans
1 8oz. can of pineapple tidbits drained
1 cup molasses
2 TBSP yellow mustard

Add all of the above ingredients and bake in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours. Stir periodically during baking. Serve hot or cold. The thicken up in the oven and can be made a day ahead of time.

These potatoes can be made the day before. See yesterdays' blog

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pulled Pork, Twice Baked Baby Potatoes, and Hostess Cake Prep

Tomorrow I am throwing a small party to celebrate my graduation and that of my daughter from 8th grade. I went through a number of menu ideas. At first it was going to be the old Wisconsin fare, brats, and hamburgers. Then I came across this in my store's clearance section, a full picnic pork shoulder. I decided on  pulled pork two ways: one with a garlic butter sauce and the other old fashioned BBQ'd. I am making it today and will reheat it tomorrow. I will also be making a cucumber salad and my Mom will bring baked beans.
 At a dollar a lb. I couldn't go wrong. The only downside is that it has a bone. I should have saved myself some time and asked the butcher to carve it for me.  I was able to use a small sharp knife to make two small roasts. I used the bone with the remaining meat and some of the other pieces of pork for the pulled pork. The pork went into a crock pot with a 1/2 cup of water, garlic, and salt and pepper.
Next I started the twice baked potatoes. On a roasting pan, I put 3 lbs of small new potatoes and slathered them with olive oil. I placed them in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes flipping them after 15 minutes. I also gave them a dash of kosher salt.

I let them cool down and scooped out the insides with a table spoon. It is helpful to cup the potato half in one hand and scoop out with the other hand. Leave enough potato so you don't wreck the skin on the potato.
To the potatoes I added 1/4 cup heavy cream, on half of a package of Oscar Meyer fresh bacon bits, 1/2 cup shredded cheese, 1/4 cup sour cream, and salt and pepper. I used a hand mixer to blend the potatoes and seasoned them with salt and pepper. The mix is then returned to the potato skins using a tea spoon. Each was topped off with more cheese. Tomorrow, I will put them into the oven and bake them at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Or until they are warmed.

The final piece to this puzzle is the cake. I found a semi-homemade recipe for a cake I have been wanting to try for a long time, the Hostess cupcake cake. I made two 9x13 sized cakes but you can make them in the round form also. I also decided to go with regular chocolate frosting rather than the chocolate ganash topping I did give it the signature filling and swirls though. I will post that recipe tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Salisbury Steak and Mushroom Gravy

I don't know where summer is in Wisconsin? On colder days I like comfort food like Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes. The gravy is stick to your ribs and just what you need on a day like this.

Salisbury Steak

1 1/2 lbs ground chuck
8 crushed saltine crackers
2-4 TBSP Milk
salt and pepper

Mushroom Gravy Gravy
8-10 mushrooms sliced
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
2 cups beef stock
salt and pepper
dash of Thyme

Crush up the crackers and and add to the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper and add the milk. Blend with your hands until well combined. Shape into oblong patties or the size of your choice. Make sure they are all uniform in size so they cook at the same time. Add patties to a large frying pan and brown on both sides. This should take about 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Do not drain out the fat!
Add the mushrooms to the pan and brown. Add the butter and flour on top of the mushrooms and brown the flour until a pale brown. Pour in the stock and
use a whisk until there are no more lumps. Return the patties back to the pan and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes or until the patties are cooked through. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why Buy Take Out? Make Your Own Egg Foo Young

I try to plan my meals on what I have on hand. This week I had a bunch of bok choy and bean sprouts. I decided to make egg foo young. Much like stir fried rice, egg foo young is a hog podge of whatever you have on hand at the time. Think of it like little meat omelets. I added pork this time but you can easily used any meat or even shrimp. I cheated a bit on the gravy and used a store bought one but again, you can make your own with some stock and flour if you wish. These come together very simply.

Egg Foo Young (makes 10 or more patties)

8 eggs beaten
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup bok choy diced
1 small can of bamboo shoots(optional)
2 TBSP flour
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 boneless pork chops or the protein of your choice diced
1/4 cup oil divided
a large non stick skillet

In a frying pan with the oil saute the veggies for 3-5 minutes until they are softened. Remove from the pan and set aside. Next stir fry the meat for about 6-10 minutes for the pork. Use 2 TBSP flour and mix into the pork. To that add the soy sauce. It almost makes a paste.  Remove the pork from the pan and cool. Beat the eggs and slowly mix in the veggies and pork.

Ladle the egg foo young into the frying pan and make sure to do no more than three at a time. They will have to be flipped after a few minutes and this will happen to you:
Also make sure the meat is evenly distributed. You will have to move quick because once the meat sets into the egg, it will tear the egg foo young.

Move to a paper plate with paper towel to drain. Serve over rice with your favorite gravy.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Salsa Verde Enchiladas

A few weeks ago for my final Spanish class we had a Fiesta. That is where we each bring in a dish to pass. I made chicken mole' tortas but never got around to making the tomatillo salsa that was supposed to go on top. Flash forward to this week and the tomatillo were discovered in my fridge and still in good shape. I had the idea for these salsa verde chicken enchiladas.
Salsa Verde

1 1/2 tomatilo quartered and husked
1 small onion quartered
1 jalapeno seeded
1/2 green pepper
1 tsp. roasted garlic
oil (2 TBSPS)
1/2 cup water added gradually

On a baking sheet place the tomatilos, onion, jalapeno, and oil. Season with salt.  Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees until the tomatilos are softened. Place in a blender or food processor on pulse and gradually add the water. Make sure the middle part is off the lid of your blender lid and place a clean towel over it to catch splashes. I left my salsa a bit chunky. Reserve for the enchiladas. Also makes a great dip.

The Enchiladas

8 flour tortilla shells
the salsa Verde divided into three portions
2 chicken breasts shredded
3/4 pkg of  cream cheese softened
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Set the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a Pyrex 9x13 baking dish by spreading 1/3 of the salsa on the bottom. Next take the chicken breasts and shred them with two forks.(I boiled mine in water for about 25 minutes) Mix with the cream cheese and another 1/3 of the salsa. Put 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken into each tortilla and roll from the short end to end inside the baking dish. Use the remaining salsa to top the tortillas and sprinkle with the cheese. I used a spoon to spread out the salsa. Bake for 25-30 minutes  or until the cheese has melted. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and rice.

Childhood Memories of Shrimp Subgum

When I was a child I grew up on Milwaukee's South side around Mitchell Street. My Mom would take me as a treat to this Chinese restaurant that I fell in love with and still crave the food 30 plus years later. One of my favorites was their shrimp subgum. It's a collection of veggies like bok choy and sugar snap peas. I tried to recreate the flavors I remember with this easy to prepare dish. The only downside was, I forgot the snap peas and green pepper and had to buy them at my local organic store. The peppers were $4.00/lb which is crazy!

Shrimp Subgum

2 stalks bok choy diced
1/2 pound shrimp (deveined and uncooked)
1 egg white
pepper and salt
1/2 lb sugar snap peas
2 TBSP flour
1 small onion diced
1 small green pepper diced
1 can of fancy La Choy veggies
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup sherry or white wine
white rice for serving
soy sauce
Note: I used flour as my thickening agent instead of corn starch
This recipe is great because you can throw any veggies you have on hand. It was cheaper when I priced it out to use the canned mixed veggies. The bok choy gives it a crunch along with the green pepper. Heat oil in a wok or a large frying pan and add the onion and green pepper. Fry for about 3-5 minutes stirring. Add the flour and brown with the oil and veggies. The veggies should still be crisp. The flour should be browned for a minute or two. It is acting like a roux.
Defrost the shrimp in a bowl of cold water and remove the shells. Toss the shrimp in the egg white and salt and pepper and into the pan.  Add the broth (wine) and then the snap peas. Flip the shrimp which will turn opaque and pink when done. Serve over rice with your favorite Chow Mein noodles.