Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Q and A

Anonymous said...
Do you ever cook with Pesto? If so do you make your own or buy it? Where in the grocery store do you typically find it?

Well, Anonymous, I have to admit I don't cook often with pesto. I've had it on pizza (Thai Chicken) but that's about it. I have only made it once, using the following recipe from the March 2009 issue of Everyday Food. It was pretty good, but my kids didn't like it - it was a little hot - so I don't know how often it will be reappearing on our dinner table. The second recipe is one a friend sent me in a recipe exchange, although I've not yet tried it. I know you can purchase pesto, I'm guessing in the pasta aisle or possibly refrigerated near the cheeses. My readers will correct me if I'm wrong, so be sure to check back in the comments. Hope this helps!

Fettucine with parsely pesto and walnuts
coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 pound fettucine
2 cups packed fresh Parsley
1/4 cups walnuts, plus more chopped for serving
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1 garlic clove
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
5 ounces baby spinach

1. In a lrge pot of boiling salted water, cook past unil al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta, and return to pot.
2. In a food processor, puree parsley, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons water until a paste forms. With machine running, add oil in a thin stream; process until very smooth, about 1 minutes. Season pesto with salt and pepper.
3. To pasta in pot, add pesto, 1/4 cup pasta water, and spinach; toss to combine. This with pasta water as needed. Serves sprinkled with Parmesan and walnuts.

Homemade Pesto - from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts and/or pinenuts
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered (or about 1 tbs of canned garlic)
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper (to taste)

In a food processor or blender combine oil, nuts, basil, cheese, garlic, and salt. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth, stopping and scraping sides as necessary. Add pepper to taste. If you're not serving the pesto immediately, divide it into 3 portions. Place each potion in a small airtight container and chill for 1 to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Note. For 6 side-dish servings, cook 6 ounces dried pasta, such as farfalle, linguine, etc, according to package instructions. Toss with one portion (1/4 cup) of the pesto.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Have you Tried...

Pork riblets?
My brother introduced me to this not-so-fancy cut of meat a couple of years ago and I have to admit, it has become a favorite at our house. Because it's basically an end-cut, or by-product, of "real" ribs it's very inexpensive (I can usually get it for $.98-$1.49/ lb) yet I find that it generally has more meat per pound than its counterpart. I love to grill and then dredge the riblets in Cattlemen's Classic Barbecue Sauce. Adding grilled pinapple is a great side. No real recipe required either!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bacon Fried Rice

Whoa back! This recipe makes a ton so be ready to feed a crowd. (Or cut it in half and just feed your family.) I like to serve it along with eggs rolls for a complete meal.
Start with 4 cups cooked rice. (That's 2 cups uncooked rice.) I usually cook the rice at lunch time because the rice needs time to cool or else it will be all gummy and won't fry up very well.
Then fry up about 1 lb of bacon, be sure to reserve the drippings! Once your bacon is cooked crumble it up and put it in a large serving bowl. If you don't have bacon, chopped ham works well too, just use vegetable oil for frying.
Heat up a wok or a large, rimmed griddle to medium high heat. Using a little of the reserved bacon fat fry up 1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms and 6-8 sliced green onions. You can also use a can of mushrooms if you don't have fresh. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Set aside with bacon. Add 10 oz. pkg frozen peas and cook until tender and heated through. Add to mushrooms and onions. Next scramble 6 eggs until eggs are set. Remove to serving bowl.
Now comes the fun part. Using more of the reserved bacon drippings fry the rice. Stir it around until rice starts to separate and is heated through. Add soy sauce to taste. Add all the vegetables. Cook and stir until heated through. Serve hot.
For some reason I didn't get a picture of the finished product, but I think you know what fried rice looks like. Delicious!
Here's the recap:
Bacon Fried Rice
2 cups rice, uncooked
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled, reserve fat
6-8 green onions, sliced
1 C sliced mushrooms (or 1 can)
1-10 oz. package frozen peas
6 eggs, beaten
soy sauce
Cook rice according to package directions; Cool and set aside.
Using reserved bacon drippings fry onions, mushrooms and peas over medium-high heat. Set aside in a large serving bowl. Scramble eggs in reserved drippings. Add to veggies. Fry the rice in reserved drippings adding soy sauce to taste. Add cooked vegetables and heat through. Serve hot.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sausage Egg Rolls

Mmm...egg rolls. I have to admit I'm not really a fan of Chinese food. Egg rolls are an exception and they're fairly easy to make at home. Here I have 6 green onions, sliced, 3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped, 1 carrot, grated, and 1 can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped. I cut everything pretty small because it cooks quickly, fits in better and is less likely to break through the fragile wrap.
Then brown 1 lb pork sausage and drain.

Season with a little bit of salt and 1 tsp *Accent. Mix pork and veggies. Add one egg, lightly beaten, and stir it all together. It will look like this.

You will need 1 package of egg roll wraps. (If you don't know where to look for them I usually find them in the refrigerated section near the vegetables.)
Now preheat your deep fryer full of oil to 375 degrees. Since the egg rolls cook in batches I also like to line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and heat my oven to it's lowest temperature - 170 degrees - just so that I have a warm place to keep the cooked egg rolls while the others are frying.
Rolling the egg rolls is simple, although it can take a couple of tries to perfect the technique. My husband was nice enough to man the camera so I could use both hands to demonstrate. He first felt it necessary to take a candid of my derriere, which I have thoughtfully not posted...you're welcome.
Place the wrap on your work surface at an angle. Spoon about 2 Tbs of sausage filling corner to corner.
Fold the bottom corner up over the filling. Tuck wrap firmly around filling.Fold the side corners firmly against the end of the filling. It looks like an envelope.
Roll the egg roll once up onto the remaining corner.
Dip your finger in water and moisten the exposed flap.
Roll the egg roll over the flap to seal.
Place egg rolls, 3 or 4 at a time, seam-side down in the fryer basket. Cook until golden, turning if necessary. Remove egg rolls from fryer basket with tongs. Place on prepared baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Or if you have a warming drawer with your oven you can use that. Also, should you have a warming drawer...I hate you. Okay, maybe I'm just jealous.

Here's the recap:

Sausage Egg Rolls
1 lb pork sausage
6-8 green onions, sliced
3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Accent
1 pkg egg roll wraps (about 20)
hot oil for frying

Brown sausage and drain. Combine sausage, onions, celery, water chestnuts, carrot and egg. Stir in Accent and salt. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Spoon 2 Tbs filling into egg roll wrap and roll, burrito style. Place 3-4 egg rolls, seam side down in oil. Cook until golden. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

*Accent is monosodium glutemate (MSG.) This ingredient is optional.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Apricot Stuffed Pork with Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

This recipe came from Everyday Food. I had never tried Brussels sprouts but fell in love with them roasted in the oven. I love the flavor and the simplicity of this single-pan dinner.

1 pounds red new potatoes, thinly sliced
2 pints Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 Tbs olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
1/4 c dried apricots, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbs apricot jam
1 pork tenderloin (1 to 1 1/2 lbs)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.. On a large rimmed baking sheet toss together potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing once.

Meanwhile, combine apricots, shallot and jam in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Place pork on a work surface. Holding a chef's knife parallel to work surface, make a pocket by cutting lengthwise down center of tenderloin, stopping about 1/2 inch from other side (avoid cutting all the way through). Open, and stuff with apricot mixture. Spacing evenly, tie 3 to 4 pieces of kitchen twine around the pork to close the pocket. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove baking sheet from the oven when sprouts and potatoes have roasted 15 minutes. Toss and push to sides of baking sheet, then place pork in center. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of pork (avoiding stuffing) register 145 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving and slicing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Snickers Popcorn

This is super easy and fills a lot of cravings at the same time - sweet, salty, chocolate, nutty and so on. All you have to do is cut a Snickers bar into bite-size pieces. Then pop a bag of microwave popcorn - my personal favorite is Pop Secret Homestyle. When the popcorn is done pour it into a large bowl and stir in the Snickers pieces. (Repeat so that the rest of your family can have some.)