Thursday, May 2, 2013

Creamy Parm Grits

A creamy grits perfect for some creole spicy shrimp to be poured over it.

1 cup of grits, polenta etc
4 cups of water
1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of pepper
1 cup of freshly grated parm
1 cup of half and half (I use fat free)
Salt to taste

In a sauce pan, stir in the cup of grits with the water and salt over medium high heat till it comes to a boil.  Keep stirring for smooth grits.  Once it comes to a boil, turn heat down to medium low and keep it on a simmer covered for about 20 minutes.  Stirring frequently.  It should look thick as you stir it.  if still soupy, take cover off and cook for an additional 10 minutes till thick.  (depends on the grits, humidity etc)

Once it's thick, then add pepper, cheese and half and half. Stir through till melted and creamy.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and taste for salt.  (or even more pepper if you like)  I often have to grind a touch more salt to sharpen the flavor.

If you like polenta, you can at this point pour into greased muffin tins 1/3 full and cool in refrigerator till firm.  And then you have perfect discs of polenta in which you can reheat or saute till golden brown on both sides in hot olive oil.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The best basic bread dough

I found a "master" dough recipe that works for us in many different recipes such as loaf breads, rolls, pretzels, bagels etc.  It crusts beautifully with a simple milk wash or dipped in lye*.  The inside is soft but chewy.  And the flavor is delish.  Best of all, you can throw it in your bread machine or kitchen aid for ease.  Now my recipe calls for Lard which I pick up at the local butcher shop and is actually good for you.  The stuff in the little package isn't but will yield the same texture I described.  You can sub it out for oil or shortening but the results will not be the same.  And invest in an instant read thermometer.  It's so worth the $7 (target 2013 pricing) and invaluable in turning out a delicious bread.  In terms of flour, always use unbleached/unbromated flour to yield the best flavor and results in any type.  Bread flour is preferred but all purpose flour will suffice.

You will need

4 cups of bread flour
2 tsp of kosher or sea salt
2 tsp of sugar or honey
3 tsp of yeast (I always use a touch more but you can just put in a packet of yeast)
2 tbsp of lard
1 1/2 cup of warm water (110* on the instant read)

Place in the preferred order (This is my preferred order) and mix on lowest weight (ie one pound) and dough cycle.

In the kitchen aid, mix with a dough hook till formed into a dough ball and not sticking to the sides.  About 10 minutes on medium low.  Place in well oiled bowl and in an oven with the light on.  Till it has doubled in size.

Remove dough ball onto a lightly floured OR oil misted surface.  Roll out and then roll up into a cylinder for a long baguette style loaf.  Or folds in the sides of the cylinder and form into a loaf pan for a sandwich type bread.  Or for rolls, slice in 3 inch sections from the cylinder and shape into rolls.  In any of these, the cylinder shape will give it an excellent texture inside the bread.

Give it a final rise in it's final shape, brush with milk and bake in an 400* degrees F oven with a pan of water inside the oven to steam it a bit.  Bake until it reads 200* degrees F in the center.  This is the magical temperature to excellent bread that is neither underdone or overdone.  You can knock the bottom till hollow, look at the color of the crust whatever, but for me the instant read of 200* degrees F has yet to fail me.

*More on lye bagels and pretzels in the next blog post.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Layered chipotle turkey casserole

This is a hybrid of the Mexican Lasagna and casseroles.  It's tasty and warm with a gentle heat.  I fyou don't like spice, sub out the chipotle powder for chili powder of your choosing.  My kids eat this uup so it isn't truly spicy.  And if you do like spice, by all means sub out for a spicier pepper.  It's a versatile recipe as well.  I will note options below.

First part of the recipe is making the red sauce for the layering. 

1/4 cup of olive oil or oil of choice
1/4 cup of flour
1 can of tomato sauce
1/8 cup of chili powder
1/8 cup of chipotle powder
1 tsp of each, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin
1 cup of water or chicken stock. (if using stock, omit the salt and salt to taste after)

Juice of one half of a lime to finish sauce.

Warm up oil and add flour.  Make a roux by cooking it for about 3 minutes on medium.  Add rest of ingredients and stir with a whisk.  Bring to a gentle bubbling boil and reduce heat.  Let it simmer for 15 minutes or while the rest of the dish is being assembled.  When off the heat, add lime juice and stir through.

Chipotle Turkey Casserole

3-4 poblano peppers (you can use anaheim in it's place for less heat)
1 onion, chopped finely.
2 carrots, diced. (optional)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely.
1 pound of turkey
One tsp of each, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin powder
One tbsp of cilantro, coarsely chopped. (optional)
Use remaining lime

Package of flour or corn tortillas (if using corn, see note below)
Block of cream cheese cut up into chunks, (see note below)
Pound of favorite shredded cheese, (I used sharp cheddar and mexican melting cheese)
A cup of corn, cooked. (optional)
A cup of black beans, cooked. (optional)

Put oven rack as close to the boiler as possible.  On a cookie sheet, lay the peppers down and place under broiler on high.  Don't oil.  Leave it for 3-5 minutes till the skin blacken and blister.  Turn over.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes or similarly blackened and blistered.  Don't be alarmed, it will not taste burned, I promise.  And you really want it blackened.  Upon removing from oven, cluster the pepper together and wrap with foil tightly and lay a towel over it.  Leave it alone, it will steam up perfectly for you.  In about 10 minutes or more, unwrap and you should see it softened and very wrinkly.  Take off all the charred/shiny skin off.  Split open and remove all seeds and white membrane to lessen the heat. (leave on if you like heat).  Roughly chop and set aside.  Preheat oven now to 350.

In a large pan, saute onions and carrots in oil till softened.  About 5 minutes.  Add the now peeled/chopped charred peppers and garlic to the pan.  Cook an additional 5 minutes, add turkey.  Mash it all up so it's all mixed in as the turkey cooks.  Cook turkey till well done, about 10 minutes.  Add spices and cook an additional 5 minutes.  When off heat, add rest of lime.

In a oven safe pan, layer tortillas to cover bottom, coming up the sides a bit.  Ladle in a bit of red sauce to just cover, layer of meat, layer of cheese, layer of corn and layer chunks of cream cheese. Finish with a bit more red sauce before adding the next layer of tortillas.  To this layer do the same but use black beans instead of corn.  Keep layering till done.  On the top, add final layer of tortillas, rest of red sauce and sprinkling of cheese.  Bake in oven for 25 minutes in the 350 oven.  Serve with a tomato and avocado salad.


If using corn tortillas, cook them in a fry pan with no oil/grease on high on both sides for a minute or so.  This will melt the fat in the corn tortillas and make them pliable and delicious.  This is how corn tortillas should be used before any dish. 

My husband hates sour cream, so I used cream cheese.  I made a separate one with sour cream and it was delicious.  Feel free to choose. 

Optional stuff listed can be omitted (I have made it both with and without). 

I highly recommend a chipotle powder.  I have seen it in flakes and it isn't as good as the powder.  It resembles smoked paprika.  This isn't the brand I use, but to show what it should look like.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Flockherder's pie"

A friend of mine (Thanks Laura) come up with the title.  Its Shepherd's pie but made with ground turkey.  It's a well seasoned dish.

1 pound of ground turkey, all white meat
1 cup of chopped carrots
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp of Badia Complete Seasoning
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp tumeric powder
1 cup of chicken stock

1 dry packet of turkey gravy*
1/2 cup of water

Saute onions and carrots till tender.  About 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients up till the gravy.  Stir well, breaking up the meat in tiny pieces.  Let it come to a boil and turn down to medium and keep to a simmering boil.  Let the stock evaporate and meat is cooked through.  About 15 minutes.  Add gravy and water in a small bowl, mix well. Add to meat and turn up heat stirring well.  Let it cook 5 minutes.

3 russet potatoes, peeled left whole
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar
1 tbsp butter
Salt/ pepper to taste

Cover potatoes with water, bring to a boil and cook 30 minutes or till fork tender.  Remove, add in a bowl with rest of ingredients and blend till desired consistency.  Boiling whole will prevent them from waterlogged.

In a oven safe pan, add a layer of meat.  Then spoon the mashed potatoes on top.  Use a fork to 'scratch' grooves on top.  Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or till lightly browned.


*I had this leftover packet of turkey gravy packet that my mom left.  I was surprised that it was so tasty in this dish.   

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Crazy Bacon Crackers-lighter version

I saw these on Pioneer Woman's site recently and had to try them.  I looking to cut fat as much as I can without compromising flavors came up eith these.   Next will be to try turkey bacon.

Lower sodium thin bacon, sliced in half
Reduced fat club crackers
Favorite parmesan cheese, grated finely

Preheat oven 250*F

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or non stick foil.  Line up crackers sideby side.  Pour 1/2 tsp of parm on each cracker.  Take the bacon and wrap lengthwise loosely tucking under ends to cover completely the cracker.

Bake in oven 1 hour and half to 2 hours.  Then let completely cool.  And consume.  Yiu can insert a cookie cooling rack inside the cookie sheet to elevate the crackers but I hardly had grease from using half sliced of bacon.

Cuban inspired chicken fried steaks and milk gravy

Cubed sirloin steak
Worcheshire sauce
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp badia complete seasonings
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup of flour
Olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp of reserved flour mixture
1 cup of milk
1 tsp beef base

Open steaks and sprinkle both sides of each steak with worcheshire sauce. Set aside.  In a ramekin/small bowl place all the seasonings.  Stir.  Sprinkle spice mix on both sides a pinch.  You should have half remaining in which you can mix with the flour.  You can let steaks marinate up till a day or proceed to the next step.

Dredge each steak on both sides with the flour and shake off excess.  Let the floured steaks rest for 10 minutes fo t the flour to be moist.  Reserve 2 tbsp of the flour, discard the rest.

Select a fry pan that isn't 100% non stick.  Stainless works best, you want some stuck bits.  In a fry pan, cover bottom with olive oil and set heat on medium high.  When bubbly, quickly fry your steaks till golden on each side.  About 5 minutes per sides.  Refill pan if oil is absorbed.  When all done, add butter and reserved flour mixture.  Stir scraping up bits.  Cook for 2 or three minutes. Add beef base and  wth a whisk, stream in the milk whisking up all the yummy bits.  It will get thick, then remove from heat.  About 5 minutes.   Pour over steaks.  Serve with hearty black beans and rice.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Homemade sloppy joes

I am not a fan of sweet/savory foods, but this one won my heart.  I combined a bunch of recipes for Sloppy Joes and gave it a twist.  I served these on Hawaiin sanswich buns.  But this could have worked on any bread rolls if it's too sweet.

1 pound of cooked and drained hamburger/ground beef. *See note below
1 small onion, diced finely
1 rib of celery, diced finely
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced finely
1 cup of ketchup
2 tbsp of worcheshire sauce
2 thsp of teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp of cider vinegar
2 tbsp of brown sugar
1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp smoked spanish paprika
1/3 cup of water
Salt/Pepper to taste

Throw all in a crockpot, set it on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.  Serve over bread.  This is a "neater" sloppy joe, double everything except the meat if you want it really saucy.

*If your hamburger meat is the 93% fat free, you can throw it in with the with the rest of the ingredients without precooking and add an hour of cooking times.  I often do this to save the step of boiling and draining the fattier blends of hamburger meats.  If you do precook, I boil it for 25 minutes and drain since the fattier blends are more flavorful and cheaper.