Monday, January 19, 2009

Sausage and Onions wth Garlic & Herb Risotto

Finally I cooked! It seems like forever that I cut and chopped and was able to spend a long time in the kitchen cooking. I love to cook. I don't really like to bake but cooking is my thing.

When I was in the grocery store the other day I got some Italian sausage from the butcher and saw a box of risotto (with dry herbs and stuff) and thought "I bet I could add stuff to my risotto to make it a bit healthier without preservatives (which I am sure were in the packet). So I got a box of "real" risotto (the kind that takes forever to cook) and went on my way.

I was sitting watching Food Network yesterday and Guy Fierri (I think that is his name) was making a pasta sauce that had sausage and ribs in it and it looked great so I decided to do some of what he did. Not sure I would ever use ribs in a pasta sauce but I bet the flavors were awesome.

I didn't have any peppers, which would have been great with the sausage, but I did have plenty of onions and lots of cans of organic canned tomatoes. I knew I could make it work. I did have to run out and get some garlic as I realized I was all out!

I paired the meal with a nice Caesar salad and it was fantastic. Dan asked were I got the recipe and when I told him I made it up he told me I should probably write it down! Sweet guy he is.

Garlic & Herb Risotto
Box of Risotto
3-5 garlic cloves chopped
olive oil
Parmesan cheese

In bottom of pan heat some olive oil and add the garlic to saute it. Add the amount of water that is recommended on he risotto box and then add some basil and the risotto. Bring to a boil and add the Parmesan cheese and follow the directions on the box for cooking. I added a bit more Parmesan cheese at the end of cooking and stirred it.

Sausage & garlic & onions
4 Italian sausage (I used hot but my dish was hot) try sweet if you don't like spicy
2 onions
5-8 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes (with basil is great if plain add basil)
white wine
salt and pepper to taste

cook sausage in a bit of olive oil until done. Take them out of the pan and add the onions and garlic. (I actually ended up cutting up another onion for mine as this was only 1 onion and did not seem like enough.) (that is my $1.48 Santuko knife I got at Target on Friday!)

Saute the onions and garlic until they are done. In the meantime cut the sausage into pieces. When onions and garlic are done add some white wine to deglaze the pan and then add the sausage back in. Add the entire can of tomatoes and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. Mine was not watery at all and was somewhat thick.
Place on top of the risotto add a salad and Mangia!

With a homemade meal like this and a holiday the next day Life is Good!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dos and Don'ts & Some Bargain Hunting

I have not really cooked much this weekend. Friday night Dan went out so I ate a peanut butter and fluff sandwich with a few low fat tortilla chips and salsa. Turns out I am allergic to this salsa! I had it a few weeks ago with some Puerto Rican food that a friend gave us and broke out in an itchy rash. We blamed the Puerto Rican food! NOT! I got the same rash and severe itchiness on Friday night after my 10 chips with salsa. It is Ortega and I am going to call and see what "spices" and "other ingredients" mean. Not sure what it could be but it took a Zyrtec and 2 Benadryls to calm it down. On the plus side I slept well (2 Benadryls will do that to you).

Last night Dan cooked steaks on the grill and they were awesome. It has been a while since we had a good steak as last week they went up in flames and the week before we were out at Kiawah and did not bring the handy dandy Montreal Steak seasoning that we like so much. We had a baked potato on the side and it was a good meal.

I am cooking something yummy tonight so I will be here tomorrow to tell you all about it and include loads of pictures.

On Friday I was at Target and they have a lot of their kitchen stuff for 75% to 90% off. I got lots of handy little kitchen tools that I didn't have for $0.64 to $0.98 that were normally $5-$10. Felt like I got a good deal on stuff I would like to have but wouldn't pay full price for. I also got a Hello Kitty popcorn popper (the kind I had when I was a kid) and the kids loved watching it pop the popcorn. And I love fresh popped popcorn.

I am sitting here laughing because I was on facebook and it showed that a friend was tagged in a picture. I went to look at the album and it had a bunch of pictures of people at a black tie event called "Black and White Ball" that was held just recently. As I am scanning the pictures there is a picture of 2 girls and in the background is an attractive woman all dressed up in her cocktail dress and she has a HUGE tattoo on her arm. There is also a picture with this woman in it where she is posing with others and you can see this HUGE tattoo. I am sorry it looks ridiculous. I have nothing against tattoos. Go ahead and get them to your hearts desire but you have to know if you have a tattoo that spans the entire top half of your arm that some day it will come back to haunt you! I am saying this is a haunting moment for this woman. See below and I hope you get as big a kick out of it as I did. I am keeping this for my daughter when she goes off to college to show that in that drunken moment when she thinks it is funny and cool to get the tattoo like all her friends, some day down the road it will not be funny and cool.

Now since tattoos were not popular when I was in college I am thankful and Life is Good for me since I can show my daughter that since I didn't get any she should not either (and if she does get one it should be in a very discreet place so that no one will see it when she gets a job and goes out in the real world!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Food Photography

I really have nothing to say about cooking today. Last night I baked a whole chicken and made oven fried potatoes. I was smart and put it in the oven before picking the kids up and set the timer so that it would start cooking while we were gone and be done by 5:45. When we got home at 4:40 the house smelled great and I had much less pressure on myself to get things started. It was great and everyone loved it.

I don't have pictures but I did get my camera battery back and will be back in business and trying to improve my food photo skills. Good luck to me. So in honor of me trying to become a better food photographer I will be checking out some websites that help you. Wish me luck!

Now I doubt I will get this creative but the idea is cool.

Look for future photos like this from me. With the fresh herbs and wine glass in the background. Because really, what good is a nice bowl of pasta without a nice glass of red wine?

I am already learning and it is all free at this website so click here if you want to read about it or watch videos on it. And when my photography is looking great and the food tastes divine you know that Life is Good!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sort of Sheperds Pie

My husband found his way to my blog yesterday. It must have been the self promotion on my facebook status that gave away the address and said I was back up and running. He gave me some constructive criticism and told me the food pictures do not do my food justice (I think that is a compliment!). So I will try to do better with pictures in the coming year but today no picture as I am waiting on my battery to be mailed to me. Hoping it gets here today. I have not tried to hide my blog from him but when I have taken pictures of our food in the past he certainly has looked at me strangely. Now I think he gets it!
Yesterday I was on the phone with a friend and she was talking about crockpots. I love my crockpot. I would put it right up there in my top 3 appliances with my food processor and bread machine (oh and my Kitchen Aid mixer). Food is so easy. I also love the cookbook Fix it and Forget it. I happened to be trying to clean out my recipe cabinet and get rid of recipes I had printed off the Internet that I would not make again, get rid of a cook book or 2 (didn't happen). And there looking at me was Fix it and Forget it and my friend telling me about crockpot macaroni and cheeses (which by the way is yummo!).
I looked in the freezer and had some ground venison and frozen corn and of some potatoes in my vegetable bowl. So I decided on Shepard's pie or something like it.

Crockpot Layered Sheppard's Pie - Adapted from Fix It and Forget It

6 potatoes -sliced thin (perfect from the food processor)
1.5-2 pounds ground meat - cooked
Frozen or canned corn
Frozen or canned peas (I did not have any so only used corn)
half an onion (I went light on the onion because my kids pick them out!)
1/4 cup beef broth (or water)
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Spray the Crockpot with Pam. In layers ad
1. Potatoes 1/4
2. onion 1/2
sprinkle salt and pepper on layers
3. corn
4. potatoes 1/4
5. corn or peas if you want to add them
6. potatoes 1/4
7 onion 1/2
sprinkle salt and pepper
8. potatoes 1/4 and add beef broth or water
9. ground meat
10. cream of mushroom soup (spread this over the top so it is not a big blob)

Turn Crockpot on low and bake for 5-6 hours (or however long you would like). I put this in at 10 am and did not eat until 5:30 and it was perfect. I sprinkled cheese on it for the kids and they loved it too. And I think Dan ate a hearty helping when he got home after 9:00!

In the cold winter months with a Crockpot of hearty food and an appreciative family Life is Good!
Since my camera battery is dead here are a few pictures of us from our recent trip to Kiawah.

Dan and Lucy riding bikes on Kiawah

Me and Cambridge riding bikes on Kiawah

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Soup for a Cold Winter's Night - Potato Leek Soup

I have to admit...I love soup. I love soup for dinner as it is hearty and can be low calorie and healthy. When I go to the grocery store I am always looking at vegetables wondering, can I make a soup with those? I buy vegetables I have no idea what to do with but when they are organic and on special I have a hard time resisting. Enter the bouquet of leeks I bought the other day. I have never had leek soup but thought it sounded good. I had seen a Knorr package for leek soup so I knew that I could throw something with it.
Now mind you I picked up ingredients before I looked at a recipe to get the basics. I did take a peek at the Knorrs package yesterday when I was running in to get a few items and saw that you could add potatoes. So that is where I started. I came home and googled leek potato soup and came up with 2 from the Food Network, Alton Brown (whom I really like) and Emeril (who I can tolerate). I chose the Emeril recipe for my basics as I had nearly every ingredient in the list (Yeah for me!!!)
I knew my kids wouldn't eat it so they got a piece of ham from the slice that I used and some veggies and a quesadilla. Now don't get me wrong. I am all about the family eating the same meal but I will not force the kids to eat something that I know they will not enjoy. You gotta give Lucy credit though as she is a soup lover and eats from the soup bar at school every day but this was "not to her liking." (Kind of like the day I went to school and ate lunch with her and she got the she-crab soup, I was shocked, and tasted it and told me "it's too crabby!" give the girl credit for trying). Just so you know I do not normally make 2 meals but this was one that I was sure they would not eat. Oh and just so you know it is not a pretty soup. It is actually very blah looking and looks something like liquidy paste but it tastes way better.

photo from here it is not my photo and here is credit for where I got it (I did not have all that stuff on top but the soup looks the same)

Potato Leek Soup (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

3 Leeks
dash thyme
olive oil
ham, sliced into small pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream - I used fat free half and half!
2 tablespoons snipped chives - for top I forgot these and had them in my herb garden

Cut the white part of the leeks in half, length wise and rinse well under cold running water to get out any sand and dirt. Slice thinly crosswise and set aside.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, put a little olive oil and the ham (you can do bacon here as Emeril does in his recipe but I used ham) and add the ham. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the ham is warm. Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes (I added a bit more olive oil as the ham did not have fat in it and needed a little help). Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken stock, potatoes, salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are falling apart and the soup is very flavorful.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender (my blender is still broken and this made my food processor hard to open - FYI). Stir in the cream (or fat free half and half - I promise the benefits without the fat and guilt!) and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve immediately.

I actually had the soup made about a half hour before we were to eat and let it sit and them put it back on low right before we were going to eat and added the cream. (Don't add the cream until you are ready to eat it). We had a nice slice of hearty bread with this and that was dinner.

Now if my camera battery wasn't dead and I had not left my charger at the house on Kiawah last week life would be divine and you would be looking at a picture of my divine soup that I made last night. But instead you have to look at a stock photo and hope that my charger gets here today or tomorrow!

With a warm bowl of soup on a cold night and your family gathered around the dinner table talking about their day Life is indeed Good! Enjoy

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dinner on the Cheap - My Mixed Up Stromboli

Happy New Year! I can not believe it has been nearly 3 months since I blogged here. Life has gotten so busy with school and travel (7-day Disney Cruise, a week on Kiawah Island, SC) the holidays and now getting back in the groove. However, I am back. I promise to come here everyday and give you a recipe or food tip.

Yesterday afternoon I was looking through the refrigerator, freezer and pantry and trying to figure out what I could make without going to the grocery store. My daughter is currently obsessed with garlic bread (homemade). So I decided to use this as the start. I grabbed the ingredients to make a loaf of bread and put them in the bread machine on the dough cycle and set that going. I then found a nearly empty package of pepperoni (one of children's favorite proteins!) and some chicken breasts and frozen spinach and a few kinds of cheese. I was trying NOT to cook pasta as we had it at least 2 or 3 times last week (it is mine and my daughters favorite meal).

I came up with an idea based on a Stromboli and it came out really good. I actually made one side with no spinach as I knew the kids would not eat it if it was in there! And if I do say so myself it looks good and tasted great and is also great for leftovers.

Mixed up Stromboli

3 chicken breasts cooked and cubed

pepperoni slices

mozzarella cheese (provolone or cheddar work well too!)

frozen spinach (defrosted and drained) - as much or little as you like

bread dough (homemade or from the grocery store)

roll out dough into rectangle and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle a bit of garlic salt over the dough (optional). add the ingredients in any order that you like. From the long end, roll like a jelly roll and pinch the ends together and place the seam on the bottom of a cookie sheet. (I used a Silpat so it would not stick). Bake at 350 about 30-45 minutes (until it is brown on top and bread looks done). Let sit about 5 minutes when it is done and cut into slices. I served this with a Caesar salad and everyone loved it. Again, one half had more pepperoni and one half had the spinach so you can put whatever you want and mix it up for different tastes in your family.

With a mixed up easy dinner like this like is most definitely good!

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