Saturday, January 30, 2010

Easy and Yummy 4 Can Soup

Mix 1 can each of:
cheddar cheese soup
cream of potato soup
cream of celery soup
cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup

2 cans milk,
1 can water
1 lb hamburger (browned)

add to taste:
Chives, pepper,

Put all ingredients in your crock pot.
go have fun for the day
come home to a warm meal!!

This also heated up quite nicely for leftovers for lunch time at work!!

I also recommend getting cheese crackers, (cheez-its, goldfish, etc) to put in it instead of the plain jane saltines.

Yummo and easy :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Molten Chocolate Cake

I do have custard cups! And aren't they adorable? Back when I was making the wedding registry at Crate & Barrel I came up with all sorts of random kitchen items that I suddenly could not live without. I'm glad I did, I never knew how handy these little guys would be...until today. Today, I used them to make delicious and quick Molten Chocolate Cakes and I didn't even have to leave the house.

You heard me, molten chocolate cake. I've tried this before, and it is never the same deliciousness of the restaurant version. Until now. I whipped these babies up in about 10 minutes and they only take 13 minutes to cook. This is a perfect dessert if you have unexpected guests for dessert because it takes so few ingredients and turns out delicious. I cut the recipe in half from the original only making enough for two and it worked out just fine. I did not remove them from the cups to serve on a plate but they would've dropped out easily if I had. I also served them later and they weren't really warm anymore. That probably was a mistake actually. Joey's chocolate center wasn't as gooey as it should have been. So next time, I will serve them right out of the oven.

Molten Chocolate Cake for 2 (from Tasty Kitchen)
* 2 pieces (squares) Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
* ¼ cups Butter
* ½ cups Powdered Sugar
* 1 whole Egg
* 1 whole Egg Yolks
* 3 tablespoons Flour

-Preheat oven to 425. Grease 2 small ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray, set aside
-In a medium microwave safe bowl add butter and baking chocolate(broken into 4 pieces). Melt butter for 1 minute, chocolate will not be melted.
-Whisk together melted butter and chocolate until the chocolate is melted
-Add powdered sugar and stir until combined
-Add Egg and additional egg yolk and whisk until combined
-Add flour and stir until combined
-Pour batter between prepared custard cups
-Bake 13-14 minutes until edges are firm but middle is still gooey
-Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice cream

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pot Roast

I was at Ralph's the other day looking for pasta and a yellow sign caught my eye. Beef was on sale! I am drawn to beef sales because a lot of the really great cuts are way too expensive for everyday cooking. So, I ran over to see what it was and saw it was boneless Chuck roast. I bought a 4 lb roast for myself saving $10! I'd figure out what to do with it when I got home.

At first I was thinking roast beef, but then I discovered that Chuck roast needs to be cooked long and slow to get tender and delicious. There were two primary methods of cooking the meat--braising or pot roasting. All the braising recipes were wine heavy and mushroom centric. So it turned out that it was Pot Roast. Pot Roast is delicious, but I've had trouble with it in the past.

So I turned to my Pioneer Woman Cookbook and lo and behold there was a recipe. And the ingredient list rounded out our dinner to a total cost of $16 with enough food for 6! Interestingly, the pioneer woman's recipe in her book is slightly different than the one online so I'll just re-write it here. I cannot tell you how incredibly easy this was to make! And, the best part? Joey loved it! The meat was as tender as could be and had a nice flavor that wasn't super over-powering.

You will never need another recipe for Pot Roast. Also, I suppose you could do this in the slow cooker but I can't pretend I know the timing. I used a 9-qt Le Creuset Dutch Oven. You could use a smaller size dutch oven but whatever you use make sure it is both stove and oven safe. Because I used such a gigantic pot, I needed twice the amount of beef stock the recipe called for. Below is the recipe I used for my huge pot.

Pot Roast
4 Cups Beef Stock
1 4-lb boneless beef chuck roast
7 carrots, well washed not peeled
2 yellow onions, peeled
1 lb new red potatoes, cut into quarters (or smaller) (actually I added these myself, Ree serves her pot roast with mashed potatoes)
Kosher salt
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 T olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 275
2. Heat your huge oven-safe pot over high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to cover the pan. You want the pan to be very hot
3. Cut the carrots into 2 inch chunks. Cut the onions in half cross-wise and cut off the ends. Heavily salt the meat with Kosher salt. I probably used a couple of handfuls, pressing it into the meat so it stuck.
4. Throw the onions into the very hot pot and brown for 1 minute per side (2 sides only). Remove the onions to plate. Add carrots to the hot pot and toss with oil for about 1 minute, remove to plate.
5. Sear the meat 1 minute per side (all 4 sides), remove to plate.
6. De-glaze the pan by pouring 1 cup of beef stock and scraping the bottom of the pan with your whisk. Whisk throughout until the brown bits are gone. Turn off the heat.
7. Add the meat to the pan. Surround with the carrots, onions and potatoes. Try to get the potatoes near the top of the pan (so they don't sit in the liquid). Pour the beef stock in until it reaches halfway up the meat (I needed about 3 cups for this).
8. Add the sprigs of thyme and rosemary to the pot. Try to get some in the liquid and some on the top.
9. Cover the pot and stick it in the oven for about 1 hour per pound. I cooked my 4lb roast for 4 hours. The meat is done when you stick a fork in it and it goes right in as though it were jello
10. Cut the meat against the grain and serve with potatoes and carrots and maybe a little of the juices poured on top.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Dubliner Cheese

You've all seen it in the store and passed it up. It's too expensive you tell yourself. What if I don't like it? And then one day, you fight yourself and give in.

You place it in the fridge because you can't use it for just anything. You save it for a special occasion. It sits there waiting patiently. Finally you dare to open it, you taste a little and are overwhelmed by the strong nutty taste. You vow to use the rest "in something." You put it back in its place in the fridge.

Soon you decide to make a new recipe for Mac & Cheese you read about in your new cookbook. You remember that Dubliner cheese you have in the fridge (and when you gave in you bought a 2 pound block at Costco, so you have plenty) and realize it is perfect. You sort through the other essentials already in your pantry. Dinner for free you think! And you thought it was an indulgence to buy the cheese in the first place.

The mac and cheese was great! I loved the step by step picture instructions in the book. It is possibly the first time I have made a successful roux. The Dubliner cheese actually may have not been the best choice by itself. Since the recipe calls for a whole pound of cheese, I'd go half and half with something a little milder and the Dubliner. The Dubliner also made it totally white so it doesn't look as good for you as when there is some color in there. The recipe calls for 2 heaping teaspoons of dry mustard, and I could taste the mustard. So I would reduce the mustard to maybe 1 and 1/2 t or less. It was a strong mustard flavor that kept hitting me throughout. I did not do the final baking stage, I served it right out of the pot and boy was it creamy! I would make this again following my suggestions above.

The Recipe

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Carne Asada Tacos

Flap meat is cheap. It was on sale the other day in small quantities so we bought a couple of pounds. Then came the challenge of figuring out what to do with it. We decided on Carne Asada tacos after much deliberation. To make the carne asada, we marinated the beef for a couple of hours and then fried it up in the pan. Grilling would probably also be delicious.

The Meat
Flap meat. Flap meat is from the same area of a cow that skirt steak and flank steak come from. Some people say it has a little more flavor than the flank steak. It is good when marinated and cooked quickly, and that is exactly what tacos are.

The Marinade
It took me a lot of effort of online searching to find just the thing for this meat. I wanted it to be perfect. And well, it wasn't perfect but it certainly was tasty. I finally decided on a recipe from Simply Recipes. And then I changed it a little to meet my needs. There was a lot of flavor after 3 hours of careful marinading.

The toppings
Tacos are just meat and corn flour without toppings. A classic street taco is meat, salsa, onions and cilantro. But throw in a little fun! We added Queso Fresca, avocado, and two types of salsa. At our grocery store there is a pretty extensive Hispanic foods section. I decided to pick up some of the canned salsas (not jarred) and it proved to be a worthy solution. The Ranchera salsa I picked up is spicy and smokey and just the right consistency for tacos.

2 poounds flap meat
4 cloves garlic
2 jalapenos
1 handful cilantro, stems and leaves
1 T coriander seeds
salt & pepper
2 limes
1 orange
2 T white vinegar
1/2 t sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
queso fresca
half onion
cilantro leaves
small tortillas (corn is the more traditional)

1. Juice the limes and oranges into the same bowl. Add sugar, salt and pepper, vinegar and olive oil. Crush the coriander seeds with a meat tenderizor and add to the mixture.
2. Cut off the jalapeno stems. In a food processor or mini chopper combine jalapenos (seeds and all), cilantro and garlic until finely chopped. Add to the juice mixture.
3. Cut meat into small cubes and place in a large ziploc bag. Pour the marinade over the meat. Zip the bag and move it around to coat all pieces. Place the bag in a shallow baking pan and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
4. Prepare the topping. Finely chop the onion and cilantro. Crumble the cheese and open the salsas. Leave the avocado for just before serving.
5. Heat a frying pan with a scant t vegetable oil. Add meat in batches and cook until medium rare. If too much liquid is in the pan, empty it between batches so you don't steam the meat. Keep neat warm until all has been cooked.
6. Set up a taco bar and serve warm.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Arugula

This month when my copy of Everyday Food graced my mailbox, I was drawn in by almost every recipe in the magazine. The cover looked like a fantastic lunch dish and I made it quickly to enjoy for the week. The problem with making lunch the night before (and cooking it) is that by the time you are done you don't really feel like tasting it, and so it is all a surprise the next day. The pasta looked great when it was all set and done and I was excited for the next day.

But, unfortunately, when I heated it up at the office I found that it was super bland. Perhaps my problem was that I am no good at "thickening the sauce" or maybe I didn't use the right olives. Either way it needed something and I had nothing.

That night, I went home and looked into my cabinet to determine what I could use to spice it up. The next morning I splashed a little rice vinegar into the mix--that did it. It gave it some flavor and made it work. The final time I ate it I added a little shredded cheese while heating it along with the vinegar--good idea! Perhaps a few cubes of cheese would be better...

2 pints grape tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 shallots, cut into 8ths
2 T fresh thyme leaves
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
8 ounces pasta of your choice (I used those spirals)
1/3 cup pitted olives (I used regular green olives with pimentos because I had them)
3 cups baby arugula or spinach
3T rice vinegar
Cubed Cheese (optional)

-Preheat Oven to 450, place tomatoes, garlic, shallots and thyme on a baking sheet. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes burst and shallots are browned about 20-25 minutes.
-Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente, reserve 1/4 C pasta water, drain, return pasta to pot
-Peel roasted garlic and mash. Add everything to the pasta pot except arugula.
-Cook over medium high until sauce has thickened (3 minutes)
-Let cool slightly, toss with arugula and vinegar

Note: If making ahead, toss with the arugula right before serving