Archive for February, 2013

Quick kitchen tip: roasted peppers and onions

peppersI’m always looking for ways to cut cooking times while still making meals flavorful. I’ve found one way to do that is to double up on ingredients when I’m making meals.

 

Last week I roasted a whole pan of yellow and red peppers and onions for fajitas on one night. With the leftovers I pureed the peppers into a shrimp dish the following night and still had some for rice too.

 

Here’s a few ways you could go through a pan of roasted peppers during the week:

  • Puree them into spaghetti sauce
  • Chop up to use in quesadillas
  • Add into omelets
  • Mix into casseroles
  • Toss in with pasta dishes

You get the idea!

 

Easy roasting: Cut 4-5 red and yellow peppers into strips along with 2 medium-sized white onions. Place all of the slivered veggies into a plastic bag and add in 1 tbsp. olive oil (I used garlic olive oil). Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt. Shake the bag to coat the veggies with the oil. Pour onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil. Roast at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or until the ends just begin to get crisped.

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Moroccan rice

Moroccan riceYup, I cracked my tangine yesterday. And yes, it was my first time using it. Sigh. A tangine is a traditional Moroccan cooking dish that has a cone top that helps slow cook and steam the food inside. Well, I’m still working out the kinks with how exactly you cook using it. But for now my good ‘ol dutch oven seems to do the trick.

I tweaked my favorite Mexican rice recipe to capture the flavors of Morocco for the dish I served with shrimp.

 

Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes + 15 minutes cooking

Servings: 4-6

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups rice

1/4 cup oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup yellow and/or red pepper, chopped

1/2 small onion

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp. tumeric

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (or regular)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 pinch of cinnamon (opt.)

Fresh cilantro and parsley

2 tbsp. golden raisins

Fresh lemon wedges

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed dutch oven, bring the oil up to medium-high heat.
  3. Rinse the rice in water to remove excess starch and then add it to the hot oil.
  4. Heat the rice for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden.
  5. Meanwhile, in a blender, place the tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and pepper and pulse until pureed.
  6. Add the tomato mixture to the golden rice and cook for 4 minutes or until the color of the tomato deepens.
  7. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  8. Cover and bake for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  9. Add in the raisins, if using.

 

Kids’ reactions: This dish was a winner. My tween even took the leftovers to school for lunch. I made a wrap for my teen with some of the rice, avocado slices, deli turkey, and Sriracha sauce.

 

 

 

 

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Moroccan shrimp

Whoops. I guess I'll need to return my tangine.

Whoops. I guess I’ll need to return my tangine.

For my birthday, my hubby surprised me with a Moroccan tangine. It’s a baking dish with a high, cone-shaped lid (not pictured) that traps the cooking liquid and infuses the food inside with the flavor.

 

Yeah, I managed to crack it the first time I tried cooking with it. (In my defense, it didn’t come with any seasoning or cooking instructions.) Well, I’m now researching how to season and cook the right way with the tangine. But I still had all of my ingredients ready to go so I made this Moroccan shrimp dish in a skillet, instead of a tangine. I used a recipe I found on The Food Republic as a base and then tweaked it to mirror the flavors of a dish a Moroccan friend of mine made for me years ago.

 

 

Recipe

I plate the shrimp with purple kale, just cuz

I plated the shrimp with purple kale, just cuz

 

Prep time: 20 minutes + 20 minutes cooking

Servings: 4-5

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, tails and shells removed

2 tbsp. oil (I used grapeseed)

1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes

1 raw tomato, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. tumeric

1 tsp. smoked paprika (or regular) + more for sprinkling

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. parsley, chopped

2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp. chicken broth

1 lemon, sliced

 

Directions:

  1. Puree the tomatoes, tumeric, paprika, and garlic in a blender.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed skillet (no idea yet if this would also work in a tangine), bring the oil to medium-high heat.
  3. Add the tomato mixture to the hot oil and cook until the tomato color begins to darken (from bright orange to red), about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp into the tomato mixture and sprinkle with cumin, cayenne, white pepper, and fresh herbs. Cook for 3 minutes or until shrimp just begins to turn pink.
  5. Place the lemon slices on top of the shrimp. Pour over the chicken broth, then cover the skillet.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes until the shrimp is heated through and tender.
  7. Add additional spices, if necessary (I like to add more smoked paprika and cayenne).
  8. Serve over plain rice or Moroccan rice (recipe coming tomorrow).

 

Kids’ reactions: Thumbs up and clean plates all around. I would definitely make this again EXCEPT Mr. Squid seems to be having bad reactions to shrimp lately so I’m not sure whether we’ll have to cut out shrimp for awhile or altogether:(.

 

 

 

 

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Beef gorgonzola sliders

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 4.54.49 PMSliders just beg for flavor-bathed ingredients don’t they? I paired thinly sliced beef with a gorgonzola cream sauce for a quick dinner.

 

I can find razor-thin beef at our local grocery store (thank you Heinen’s), but you can also cut it by hand or break out the food processor. I put on the slicing disk in my Cuisinart and run the meat through twice. If beef isn’t your thing, this works really well with meaty portobello mushrooms too.

 

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4-6

 

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced beef

1/2 medium white onion, sliced thin

8-10 slider buns

 

Have on hand

Arugula (or spinach or go without the greens)

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Vinegar (White Balsamic is my current fav)

soy sauce

Olive oil

 

Gorgonzola cream sauce

1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese

1/2 cup half and half (or cream)

Pepper and salt to taste

 

Directions

  1. Toast the slider buns on a medium-high, heavy-bottomed skillet, working in batches.
  2. Add 2 tsps. olive oil to the heated pan, followed by the onions. Cook the onions until just soft.
  3. Remove the onions from the pan and add 2 more tsps. olive oil, then half of the beef.
  4. Sprinkle liberally with onion and garlic powder and cook through. You might also add a dash of soy sauce and white balsamic vinegar.
  5. Remove the first batch of beef from the pan and cook the second batch.
  6. To plate the sliders, add the beef first topped with sauteed onions, gorgonzola cream sauce, and then the arugula.

 

Super easy gorgonzola sauce directions

You can make as much or as little of the cream sauce as you want. The extras make for an amazing dip for roasted potatoes. The key is a 50/50 ratio gorgonzola to cream. Simply heat the half and half or cream in a small saucepan until it comes to a medium high heat. Add the gorgonzola and whisk until melted, remove from heat. No extra seasoning needed, although a little pepper and cayenne powder perks up the flavor. That’s it!

 

Kids’ reactions:

I only added the gorgonzola sauce to my teen’s sliders’; she gave these mini sandwiches two thumbs up. For my two younger kids I offered the sauce in a small bowl for dipping in their sliders. The dip trick worked for my younger kid, my tween didn’t care for the gorgonzola sauce¬† but liked the sliders.

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Mini chocolate raspberry cake cups

Chocolate cake shotsLately, I’ve noticed little cake desserts popping up from tavern-themed restaurants to Italian restaurants. I like it. They’re akin to a deconstructed cake–all the flavor, much less work.

 

This weekend I made my own version using cake leftover from my daughter’s birthday party cupcakes.

 

Note: I found mini Irish coffee mugs at Bed, Bath & Beyond, $19.99 for a set of eight. (Use a $5 off coupon and they’re just $15.)

 

Recipe

Servings: 8

 

Ingredients:

Cake: 2 cups cooked chocolate cake (it doesn’t need to be pretty you’ll be making it into chunks anyway)

Warmed Raspberry sauce or raspberry jam

Chocolate custard

Whipped cream

 

Chocolate custard ingredients:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 tbsp. butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 3/4 cups milk

3 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. cocoa

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract (opt.)

1 tsp. Black onyx or Espresso powder (opt.)

 

Chocolate custard directions:

  1. In a medium-sized sauce pan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter then stir in the sugar.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the milk.
  3. Stir the milk mixture into the melted chocolate and add in the cocoa, salt, and Espresso powder.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stir frequently until it thickens.
  5. Take the pan off the hat and stir in the extracts. Spread the butter over the top of the thickened chocolate to avoid developing a skin.
  6. Cool the chocolate custard.

 

To assemble the mini chocolate raspberry cups:

  1. Press about a tablespoon of chocolate cake into the bottom of the cup.
  2. Pour about 1/2 tablespoon raspberry sauce over the cake.
  3. Spoon a tablespoon of chocolate custard in next.
  4. Repeat cake, sauce, custard and finish off with cake.
  5. Add a dollop of whipped cream on top.
  6. Dust with cocoa powder or an extra drizzle of raspberry sauce.
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Family fondue night

Grab your skewer stick, it's fondue time!

Grab your skewer stick, it’s fondue time!

Fondue makes for the perfect family dinner.

 

My kids chopped up all of the veggie and fixins’ while I made the cheese sauce. Normally, I’m not a bleu cheese fan, but gorgonzola melts so beautifully that I added it into the cheese mix along with Swiss, fontina, and sharp cheddar.

I decided on two fondues–one for dinner, one for dessert.

Surprisingly the favorite dipping food for both? Fresh, torn baguette pieces. With the chocolate fondue my kids quickly ditched the marshmallows for the baguettes. I’d suggest trying the same with your crew.

 

Recipe

Cheese Fondue

(I based mine off Martha Stewart’s version)

Ready to start eating!

Ready to start eating!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups cheese (I mixed 1 1/2 cups cheddar and mixed in fontina, gorgonzola, and Swiss for the rest)

2 tbsp. flour

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 1/3 cups liquid (Martha suggests white wine, I used a combination of white grape juice, water, chicken broth and a hint of white Balsamic vinegar)

2 tsps. lemon juice

garlic

olive oil

Serve with carrots, snap peas, baguette pieces, bell pepper strips, sausage pieces, and whatever else you can find

 

Directions

Mix the shredded cheeses with flour, white pepper and cayenne.

In a sauce pan, bring the liquid to medium-low heat (not hot!). Gradually add in the cheese a little at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition.

Once the cheese is melted, remove the pan from the burner and stir in the lemon juice. Pour into a fondue pot, if you’re using one.

Chocolate fondue

Chocolate Fondue

Ingredients

1/2 cup chocolate chips (Ghirardelli are the best)

1/2-3/4 cup half and half (or heavy cream)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Pinch of salt

Serve with baguette pieces, pretzels, fresh fruit

 

Directions

I put all of the ingredients into our mini crockpot while we were eating dinner. When it was time for dessert, the chocolate fondue was ready.

 

 

 

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