Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bacon, Mushroom and Parmesan Frittata plus a welcome kitchen guest

So, I need something for breakfast that I can cook on the weekend and store in the fridge for the grab-and go kind of mornings we all have during the week.  The solution?  Frittata.  FRITTATA!!  A glorious Italian baked omelet thingy.  Yes, that's the technical term-- thingy.  Hey, it's the weekend!  Give me a break.  Food Scientists have to turn their brains off sometimes just like everyone else. 

Frittata is similar to quiche, but there is less cream and no crust.  But still completely delicious!  You can mix up the veggies however you wish.  You could even bake about 1 Tbsp of egg mixture in a mini muffin pan and serve them at room temp with sour cream as a protein-packed appetizer (those only need to bake about 15 minutes). 

Now, say hello to my little friend.  I found him crawling around on the windowsill.  He told me Spring is on the way.  Yay!

Now, a word about bacon.  I love it.  Do you?  Of course you do.  But-- do you like cooking it?  I don't.  I hate going through a dozen paper towels cooking it in the microwave or cleaning the entire kitchen after making it on the stove.  The solution-- your oven.  Yep!  Just line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil, put a layer of bacon slices on it, put the whole tray in a cold oven, turn the oven temp to 425 degrees, and WALK AWAY.  Leave it for 20 to 25 minutes, and viola!  Perfectly cooked bacon.  Remove the slices from the pan and let drain on a plate with paper towels.  If you like it a bit crispier, leave it in the oven for an extra 5 minutes.

Here's my recipe and how I put it together.

Bacon, Mushroom and Parmesan Frittata
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
4 lg. cremini mushrooms, cut in half and sliced thin
3 green onions, white and green parts sliced thin
1/4 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt, divided
5 Tbsp grated fresh Parmesan, divided (NOT the stuff in the green can)
5 whole large eggs, beaten
5 large egg whites, beaten (save the yolks for making homemade pudding-- coming soon)
1/4 cup half and half or milk
1/4 tsp black pepper
5 cherry tomatoes, sliced

1.  Place the russet potatoes in a microwave safe dish and cover with water.  Cover the container and microwave on high for 4 minutes.  Drain.  I used a glass bowl with a plate for a lid.  You could also substitute 1 to 1-1/2 cups of Ore-Ida Southern Style Hash Browns and thaw them out. Wink wink!

2.  Bake bacon according to directions listed above, slice into little bits.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a 9" x 13" nonstick pan with oil and set aside.

3.  Place about 1 Tbsp of drippings from the bacon pan in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add drained cooked potato, mushrooms, green onions, and thyme to pan with 1/2 tsp salt.  Saute about 10 to 12 minutes, or until potato is lightly brown and mushrooms are cooked through.  Remove from heat and cool.

4.  In a large bowl, whisk egg whites and eggs.  Add half and half, 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, black pepper and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt.  Stir well.

5.  When the potato mixture is cool, add it to the egg mixture and stir well.  Pour into prepared pan.  Dot the top with the tomato slices and sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbsp Parmesan.

6.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and the center is no longer jiggly.  Let stand 10 minutes.

7.  Slice and serve!  I ate a slice, then let the rest cool.  I removed them from the pan and put in a container between pieces of waxed paper.  Now all I have to do is zap a slice in the microwave for 30 seconds and I have breakfast all week!  It also freezes well-- just thaw overnight and zap in the morning.  Enjoy!

Meatloaf Muffins

Happy weekend to you!  I've really been in the mood for comfort food lately.  Thank goodness we are beginning to thaw here in the Treasure Valley!  We've even glimpsed the sun a few times lately.

Speaking of comfort food--- What comes to mind when you think of comfort food?  For me, its something savory and warm.  What could be more comforting than meatloaf?  Sometimes, 'comfort food' means 'long time to cook'.  Not with this recipe!  I bake my meatloaf in a muffin pan.  It takes less time to cook, yields individual servings that are easy to handle, and, well, they're just darn cute.  Plus, they freeze well-- just thaw in the fridge overnight and pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  Yum!

Speaking of muffins-- there is another blog out there called 'Do You Know The Muffin Pan'?  Its a great blog-- the blogger (Amy) cooks everything in a muffin pan.  EVERYTHING.  Check it out.  Its cool!

Here's the link:  Enjoy!

Now on to the recipe.  You'll notice this recipe is a bit sneaky.  I put tons of veggies in my meatloaf recipe.  TONS.  They make the meatloaf moist and give it great flavor.  Don't be afraid to mix it up- some people like onions with their meat loaf.  My hubby wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole if onions were in the recipe.  If you like onions, just replace half or all of the mushrooms with onions.  No biggie!

Meatloaf Muffins (6 servings, 2 muffins each)
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms (about an 8 oz. container, chopped fine)
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced (See note on garlic)
1 cup ketchup, divided (HEINZ)
1-1/2 lbs ground beef (93% lean at least)
1 cup finely crushed saltine crackers (about 20-- seasoned bread crumbs will do in a pinch)
1 Tbsp mustard (the regular yellow kind)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrrins is the best)
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 lg eggs
cooking spray

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms, carrots, dried oregano, and minced garlic.  Saute about 5 minutes to soften the veggies..  Cool.  They should look like this:

3.  Next, put the ground beef in the bottom of a HUGE bowl.  Add 1/2 cup ketchup, the veggie mixture, and the rest of the ingredients except the cooking spray.  Reserve the other 1/2 cup ketchup for later.  The bowl should look like this:

Ooooh, pretty!  Next, with clean hands or a clean wooden spoon, mix the ingredients in the bowl until they are completely mixed.  Don't overdo it or the meat will be tough.

4.  Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray.  I like to open the dishwasher, set the pan on the door, spray it, then close the door.  No messy cooking spray all other kitchen.  Ta da!  Divide the beef mixture among the 12 cups, then put about a tsp of ketchup on top.  Like this:

5.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes.  Find fork.  Eat.  Smile.  Make yummy noises, etc.

Note about garlic:  The minced stuff in jars is crap.  Don't use it.  Just don't.  It's gross.  Really-- just smell it and you'll know.  But there is some good stuff you can use if you're not the mincing-garlic-by-hand type of person.  It's called Garden Gourmet and you'll find it in the produce section of the grocery store.  Just put it in the freezer and the tube will last almost forever.  Seriously-- it tastes just like freshly minced garlic.  Yay!  The basil, cilantro, and other herbs by Garden Gourmet are also wonderful.

Note about beef: You want the beef used in this recipe to be super duper lean-- or all your muffin cups will be full of grease when you take it out of the oven.  That's icky.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shrimp Eggflower Soup

Looking for a new soup recipe that warms you up and comes together in no time?  Well, here it is!  This soup is PACKED with protein to keep you going and tastes like you just stepped into your favorite Asian bistro.  The recipe is based on the one from Cooking Light Magazine (January 2006).  I've been making this soup since 2006 and let me tell you-- it is YUMMY!  I've made a few modifications (duh!).

It's important to use raw shrimp in this recipe-- if you get the stuff out of the butchers block that's already been cooked, the shrimp may become rubbery in the soup.  Ick!

Shrimp Eggflower Soup (Cooking Light, Jan. 2006)
3/4 lbs medium shrimp, deveined and peeled
1 cup petite frozen peas (thawed)
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp cool water
4 cups (32 oz.) good chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth (I used the kirkland brand from Costco)
1 cup water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger (see tip at end of recipe)
1 tsp dark sesame oil
4 oz. (2 cups) sliced mushrooms (USE FRESH)
1 cup grated carrot
1 Tbsp white miso paste (optional)
2 lg eggs, beaten
4-6 green onions, sliced thin

1.  Prepare shrimp and place in a collander in the sink.  Put the peas on top and run under cool water until everything is thawed.

2.  Mix the corn starch and 2 Tbsp cool water in a small bowl.  Be sure there are no lumps.  Place this mixture in a medium soup pot (6 quart or so) and add stock, 1 cup water, soy sauce, ginger and sesame oil.  Bring to a boil. 

3.  Once the liquid in the pot is boiling, add the carrots and mushrooms.  Cook for 3 minutes, add shrimp and peas and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and tender.

4.  Remove from heat and stir in the miso paste, if using (see tip below).  While stirring, slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs.  The hot soup will cook the eggs into thin ribbons that will float throughout the broth giving it a thick, silky texture.

5.  Top with green onions and season to taste.  Because I used chicken stock instead of chicken broth, I added a little salt.  Just taste it and see if you need to.

Tip #1 Ginger:  Fresh ginger keeps for a very long time when frozen.  I just put the root in a plastic baggie and stick it in the freezer.  When I need it, I peel the part of the root I want to grate with a small knife, then just use a microplane to grate it while frozen.  When I have what I need, I just put the rest of the root back in the freezer.  The ginger 'snow' from the grater thaws quickly.

Tip #2 Miso Paste:  Miso paste is a fermented paste made from soybeans or buckwheat.  It has a salty/brothy flavor that accents this soup very well.  It can be found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores or CoOps.  If you can't find it, no worries.  Just don't try to use the powdered Miso Soup mix-- that stuff is way too salty.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ham and Bean Soup

This weekend, Tyson and his dad showed up with a garage door opener!  They worked hard all day Saturday installing it.  We had a good weekend together and it was nice having people to cook for.  On Sunday night, we had ham for dinner.  There was a lot left over, so I decided to make ham and bean soup.

The soup turned out really good!  I soaked the beans overnight and finished the soup at work this morning. It was lunch for the Pilot Plant crew.  They work so hard and I wanted them to know I appreciate them.

This soup smells heavenly while cooking.  I learned this method from my Grandmother.  She made ham and beans while we were there over Christmas.  So, heres my recipe/method adapted from Grandma Lucille.

Ham and Bean Soup
2 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 smoked ham hock (I used 1/2 smoked ham hock and leftover ham)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with jalepenos (or just regular diced tomatoes if you don't like it slightly spicy)

1.  Soak beans using slow method (in a pot with enough water to cover by a few inches overnight)  or using the quick method (in a pot with enough water to cover by a couple inches, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let stand covered for 1 hour).

2.  Drain soaked beans.  Put in a pot and add enough cool water to cover the beans by about an inch and a half.  Add the whole ham hock, onion, garlic and can of tomatoes.

3.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 4 hours, or until the beans are tender.

4.  Remove the ham hock and let cool on a cutting board.  Separate the meat from the fat and chop into bite size pieces.  Return to pot. (I also added chopped leftover ham from this weekend).

5.  Taste for seasoning.  You shouldn't need salt, but add pepper if you'd like.  Serve on a cold day to warm you up from the inside out.

Here's looking forward to spring!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

White Chili-- 2 ways!

I love this recipe.  I got it from a gal who has become a very good friend via Facebook.  LaRae is very kind, supportive, and has a huge heart!  I feel blessed to know her.  She won a chili cookoff with her version of white chili.  Its just delightful!  I had to make a few tweaks to make it my own (of course), thus, White Chili- 2 ways!

This recipe is great on the stovetop or in the crockpot.  I prefer to make mine in the crockpot as the meat turns out more tender.  Enjoy!

LaRae's White Chili with Hominy
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
1 can (15-1/2 oz) white hominy, drained
1 can (15 oz.) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth (I use low sodium)
2 cans (4 0z. each) chopped green chilies
1 tsp garlic salt (Lawry's is my favorite)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
1/3 cup half and half
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro

In a large saucepan, saute chicken and onion in vegetable oil until chicken is no longer pink.  Add the hominy, beans, broth, chilies and seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in the sour cream, half and half and 1 Tbsp cilantro.  Garnish individual bowls with the remaining cilantro. 
Yield: about 6 servings

Note: You could also use leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken for this dish.  Just saute the onion until it is tender, then add the cut up chicken meat and proceed as directed.

Josie's Pork White Chili
2 lbs boneless pork roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cans (15 oz. each) white kidney, cannellini or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) low sodium chicken broth
1 can (7 oz.) chopped green chilies
1 tsp garlic salt (Lawry's is my favorite)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp white pepper
1-2 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca (to thicken)
1 cup (8 oz.) light sour cream
1/3 cup half and half (I used fat free and it worked just fine)
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro

Place everything except the tapioca, dairy ingredients, and cilantro in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until the pork is fall-apart tender.  Turn slow cooker off, stir in tapioca and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.  Stir in dairy ingredients and cilantro.  Serve warm with taco chips and cheddar cheese.

**To make on the stovetop, follow LaRae's chili directions, but cook for 1 hour before adding the dairy ingredients.  Omit the tapioca thickener as you will not need it.

Wishing for Spring (Grilled Chicken and Fresh Lemonade)

Oh boy.  That Christmas Vacation was a doozy!  Here's a few pics of family at my parents house.

This is Aunt Marsha, Grandma Lucille, Mom (Laurie), my cousin Kristy and her daughter Cassie.  Lovely ladies!

This is Aunt Marsha with her pal, Butch.  She makes the coolest harnesses for this little guy!  She also made some harnesses for Ralfie and Tobie that make them look like little train engineers.  So cute!
Now that the Holidays are over, its time to get back to normal and look forward to Spring.  The weather lately has been very deceitful!  The sun shines, but it's still only 20 degrees outside.  Brrr!  Well, that brings us to the recipes. 

These recipes include an ingredient that always reminds me of sunshine-- both in the way it looks and the way it smells.  Can you guess what it is?  That's right!  Lemons!  Not only can you cook with lemons, but they come in handy around the house as well.  Use a small handful of kosher salt and half a lemon to scrub a wooden cutting board.  Put a quarter or so down the garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh.  Use it for 'secret messages' by writing on a piece of paper with lemon juice, letting it dry, then make the message appear by lightly warming the message over a candle (with adult supervision of course).

Fresh Lemonade
juice of 4 lemons (save those peels for the garbage disposal!  Just keep them in the freezer until you need one)
1 cup sugar (or splenda-- I used splenda)
2 quart pitcher

1.  Place sugar or splenda in the pitcher with about 2 cups of warm water.  Stir until sugar/ splenda dissolves.
2.  Stir in lemon juice.
3.  Fill pitcher with water to the 2 quart mark and stir well.
4.  Serve over plenty of ice and enjoy!

*You could also use a combination of citrus fruits-- try replacing one of the lemons with 2-3 clementines or use Meyer lemons instead of regular lemons for a sweeter citrus-ade.

And now on to the chicken.  This marinade is wonderful.  It really is!  The chicken comes out tender and juicy, even if it gets slightly overcooked.  My parents have a covered back porch and are lucky enough to be able to grill year round.  If you can't grill, the broiler in the oven works just fine. 

Garlic and Lemon Grilled Chicken
For every 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, combine in a small bowl with a whisk:
3T. olive oil
2T. water
1T. lemon juice (fresh is best but juice from those little plastic lemons will work)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

I like to put my chicken in a ziptop freezer bag, but my mom uses a plastic food storage container.  Either way, put the chicken in and pour the marinade over it.  Close the container and shake or tumble to distribute the marinade.

Chill 30 minutes, turning at least once.  Preheat grill or broiler to medium heat.  Drain chicken from the marinade and place on the grill or broiler pan.

Grill/broil for 12 minutes, turning every 4 minutes.  Let rest for 5 minutes before eating.

Hint/tip:  Mom likes to pound the chicken breasts slightly so they will cook evenly.  Chicken breast tenders will also work with this marinade, as will fish, pork, beef, etc.  Cooking times will vary.

Hope this post brought a bit of sunshine to your day!