I am what many would call a "Foodie" - amateurs who simply love food and/or drink for consumption, study, preparation and news.
Now the statement above should make it clear that I do not have any formal training when it comes to food preparation. I have, however, been told that I am a pretty good cook and I hope you enjoy reading this column as much as I enjoy writing it.
Follow me on twitter @Cooks_CornerLCP
Pasta is one of my favorite foods. It’s great with sauces, cheese, vegetables or just a little garlic and olive oil; it’s also something I can get all of my kids to eat. This next recipe for baked ziti comes from the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond and is very similar to lasagna without all of the fuss.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 pound ground beef (may substitute turkey)
1 pound Italian sausage (may substitute turkey)
2 14.5-ounce cans tomato sauce or marinara sauce
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes with juice
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or your favorite herbs)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ziti (I used mostaccioli)
1½ pounds mozzarella, grated (about 3 cups)
1 15-ounce tub whole-milk ricotta (may substitute low fat)
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for sprinkling (I used a handful of fresh spinach, chopped)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large casserole or lasagna dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Heat the olive oil (if using ground turkey you may want to use 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil) in a pot over medium heat and add the garlic and onions and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook until browned. (I like to season the ground meat with salt and pepper for another layer of flavor here.) Drain off most of the fat, leaving a bit behind for moisture. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and some salt and pepper. (I just used a jar and a half of marinara sauce, about 3 pounds or 36 ounces.) Stir, bring to a simmer and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes and remove from heat to cool.
While the meat sauce I cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add some salt and the pasta cooking until not quite al dente.
While the pasta and meat sauce are cooking, in a bowl, mix together 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, the ricotta, Parmesan, parsley (spinach), eggs and some salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times trying not to mix completely.
When the pasta is done, drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down, then pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to lightly combine (there should still be large lumps). Add 3 to 4 cups of the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.
Add half of the coated pasta to the prepared dish, spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top and top with half the remaining mozzarella. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta and the remaining sauce and mozzarella. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before sprinkling with chopped parsley (spinach) to serve.
This recipe is very forgiving. Try adding some sautéed mushrooms or another vegetable to it and make it your own.
Valentine’s Day is this weekend and that screams chocolate to me.. cake to be exact. It’s no secret in my house that I love chocolate cake with chocolate, chocolate (cake and frosting) being my favorite. But that may soon change thanks to Taste of Home’s Triple Layer Brownie Cake.
Triple Layer Brownie Cake
1½ cups butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 cups sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (see helpful hint)
3 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar, optional
2 milk chocolate candy bars, shaved (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line three 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper, spray with non-stick spray (or grease and flour the pans) and set aside.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, flour and salt.
Pour the mixture into the pans and bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting, melt chocolate in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Gradually stir in cream and sugar if desired, until well blended. Heat to a gentle boil; boil and stir for 1 minute, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until mixture reaches a pudding-like consistency, stirring a few times.
Once the “pudding” is ready, beat until soft peaks form and immediately spread between layers and over the top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with the shaved chocolate and refrigerate until ready to serve.
One reader suggested using milk chocolate instead of semisweet for the frosting to avoid adding sugar to the frosting.
This next recipe is one my mother-in-law Helena used to make during the holidays. She called them Dolly Madison bars, but whatever the name, call them delicious. With chocolate chips, coconut, evaporated milk and more, you can’t go wrong.
7 layer cookie bar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted (salted or unsalted)
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped (walnuts also work, but I prefer my bars nut free)
1 cup shredded coconut (see helpful hints)
1 (12-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Melt the butter and pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Pour the graham cracker crumbs over butter and pat down to form an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans and coconut in the order listed, sprinkling in an even layer. For the final layer, drizzle the can of sweetened condensed milk over the entire dish.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is nice and golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
When adding the coconut and evaporated milk, try to keep a thinner layer around the edges to keep them from burning. I used already prepared graham cracker crumbs but found myself just short of the 1½ cups, so I added ¼ cup quick cooking oats to the crust and they turned out great.
I’m always ready to try new recipes, but I don’t always have all of the ingredients called for in the dish so I improvise as best I can. Last week Wednesday, I came upon this recipe from Taste of Home Cooking. It called for red potatoes, but russet worked just fine, a few other tweaks and it was ready to go. Just five (okay, I used seven) ingredients and 30 minutes in the oven and it’s ready for the table.
6 to 8 medium unpeeled red potatoes, sliced
½ cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon dried oregano (I used 1 teaspoon oregano and 1 teaspoon of basil)
1 garlic clove, minced (I used 2)
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt (my addition)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Place the sliced potatoes in an ungreased 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Mix together the butter, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pour over potatoes. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring every 10 minutes.
This recipe is very forgiving. If you don’t have red potatoes, use whatever you have on hand. My family is not a big fan of the skin on potatoes, so I peeled them first; if you don’t like oregano, use an herb you do like.
The Packers are out of the running for the Super Bowl, but the game will go on and you’ll need snacks. This next recipe is a combined Taste of Home-Pampered Chef recipe and is sure to please both the males and females at your next get together.
Chicken Club Brunch Ring
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1½ teaspoons finely chopped onion
1¾ cups cubed cooked chicken breast (cut into ½ inch cubes)
2 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese, divided
2 8-ounce tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
2 plum tomatoes
2 cups shredded lettuce
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Unroll the crescent dough, separate into 16 triangles and arranged on an ungreased 12-inch-round pizza pan, forming a ring with the pointed ends facing the outer edge of the pan and the wide ends overlapping.
In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, parsley, mustard and onion. Stir in the chicken, bacon and ¾ cup of the cheese. Spoon the chicken mixture over the wide ends and fold the points over the filling, tucking under the wide ends (filling will be visible). Chop half of a tomato and set aside. Slice the remaining tomatoes and place over the exposed filling and tuck under the dough, on either end.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes and place the lettuce and chopped tomato in the center of the ring.
For a lighter version use low fat crescent rolls and cream cheese. Works great with turkey too.
It’s a New Year and resolutions are in full swing and my two youngest kids have (officially) decided to jump on the New Year’s resolution wagon. Now while my son Sebastian has been eating pretty healthy for a while now, his “baby” sister Milena has decided to join him. This next recipe was reposted by my sister Ana on Facebook and will kick off the healthy menu. This is a cabbage loving family, so I’m hoping it will quickly become a side dish staple. It comes from Daisy Egnisaban.
Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steak
1 head of green cabbage, approximately about 2 pounds, cut into 1-inch thick slices
1½ tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
Feshly ground black pepper
Non-stick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray a baking sheet with the non-stick cooking spray.
Pull off the outer leaf of the cabbage and discard. Cut the cabbage from top to bottom (bottom being root) into 1-inch thick slices and rub both sides of cabbage with the smashed garlic then using a brush, evenly spread the olive oil over both sides of the cabbage slices and finish by sprinkling each side with a bit of kosher salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.
Roast on the middle rack for 30 minutes, carefully flip and roast for an additional 30 minutes until edges are brown and crispy. Serve hot and enjoy.
If you’re not hopping on the healthy New Year bandwagon, try sprinkling some crispy bacon over the cooked cabbage for a tasty treat.
My youngest daughter Milena has been on a cooking adventure while on winter break. As I write this at 8:19 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, she’s trying to convince her dad or me to run to the store for ingredients were missing for a Paula Deen cake she’s been begging to make for some time now. And while her dad and I aren’t running to the store again this evening, it’s one I’ll be making on Friday. It reminds me of summer, and right about now as the forecast calls for more snow and colder temps, I could use a taste of summer - Happy New Year!
Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake
1 15-ounce package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
1 18.25-ounce box white cake mix
1 3-ounce box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
4 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup water
Strawberry cream cheese frosting
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened (but still firm)
1 10-ounce package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed (see helpful hint)
½ teaspoon strawberry extract (I omitted this)
7 cups confectioners’ sugar
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Puree the thawed strawberries and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin then add the pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
For the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Beat in ¼ cup of the strawberry puree and the strawberry extract (if using). Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.
Spread the frosting between the layers and on top and sides of cake and garnish with sliced fresh strawberries if desired.
The frosting recipe only calls for ¼ cup of frozen strawberries in syrup, so save the rest for smoothies or an ice cream topping
Ree Drummond is fast becoming one of my favorite Food Network stars. Her recipes are generally pretty basic, taste great, and usually are great for a budget. These next two recipes (yes two) can be made with ingredients you may already have on hand. They are also pretty timely with the upcoming holidays as they can easily be pulled out for those expected friends or family dropping in. Word of warning, while both recipes are easy to make, you will need to plan ahead as cooking and set times can take up to two hours. For a step by step video, visit foodnetwork.com and search Ree Drummond recipes.
1 sleeve country club-style crackers
cup grated Parmesan (for savory), or bacon (for sweet)
1 pound thinly sliced bacon, slices cut in half
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Lay the crackers face up on a large wire baking rack over a foil-lined (for easier clean-up) baking sheet. A broiler pan will also work. Scoop about 1 teaspoon of the grated Parmesan onto each cracker and carefully wrap the cheese covered crackers with one slice of bacon (remember the bacon slices should be cut in half) completely covering the crackers. The bacon should fit snugly around the cracker, but not be pulled too tightly because the bacon will shrink while cooking.
Place the bacon-wrapped crackers back onto the rack and (patience now), bake for about 2 hours. Serve immediately or at room temperature. May be frozen and reheated; just five minutes at 375 F.
Quick and easy peppermint fudge
Cooking spray, for foil
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Peppermint hard candies, crushed, but not pulverized, for topping (a great use for extra candy canes)
Line an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray.
In a double boiler over low heat, combine the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk and stir until melted and smooth. Here is where Ree (we’re on a first name basis don’t you know) and I differ. Once the chocolate has melted she pours the chocolate into the prepared pan, spreading it out to the edges then sprinkles the crushed candy over the top before refrigerating for two hours. I mix the peppermint pieces into the fudge before spreading it out and refrigerating. I also sprinkle the pieces over the top, but adding it to the mixture ensures that there is a peppermint bit in every bite.
Once the fudge is done, just lift the foil out of the pan, peel off the fudge and cut into small squares.
For the appetizer, Ree suggests trying brown sugar or blue cheese instead of Parmesan. While I thought the brown sugar wrap would be the favorite at home, the Parmesan was the clear winner.
For the fudge, try substituting some nuts, marshmallows or your favorite flavor extract for variety.
Last week I told you about my youngest daughter Milena making dinner and dessert for us after taking a foods class with Mrs. Barbee at school. The section they were studying was fruits and vegetables and she had a slew of recipes she wanted to try, including the appetizer below. I have to say, everything she made was delicious, so thanks again Mrs. Barabee.
This next recipe is easy to prepare and can be made in no time at all. It’s also great to have on hand for all of that holiday company stopping buy in the next few weeks.
Veggie pizza appetizer
1 package crescent rolls or seamless dough sheet (not the pizza crust)
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon dill weed (I used 1 teaspoon)
½ teaspoon garlic salt or season salt (minced fresh garlic may be substituted with a shake or two of salt. It adds a bit of bite to the spread)
6 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoon milk or cream
Veggie options (pick & choose)
2 tablespoon chopped onions
½ cup cauliflower, quartered
½ cup small broccoli florets
½ cup carrots, grated or chopped
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
½ cup green, red or yellow peppers, chopped
½ cup sliced black olives, (nope)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Open the package of crescent rolls and unroll onto a small, ungreased jellyroll pan pressing the dough into the ends to cover the pan. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, blend together the cream cheese, dill weed, garlic, mayonnaise and milk until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust and sprinkle with veggies. Serve immediately or chill 1 to 2 hours before serving.
I found that the spread actually makes enough for two sheets of pizza or instead use two packages of crescent rolls in an ungreased 15-by-10-1-inch pan and bake as directed above.
The other day, I received a grocery list, via text, from my youngest daughter Milena. She’s been taking food and nutrition classes with Lori Barbee (or Mrs. Barbee as she calls her) at Arrowhead and couldn’t wait to try out some of the recipes at home. The list included everything from yeast and cream cheese, to Jell-O, peppers and veggies. But who was I to argue, she was planning on making dinner with dessert. I love dessert so I’m starting with that. It’s quick and easy to make and would be a festive, colorful addition to your holiday table.
Strawberry pretzel salad
2 cups crushed pretzels
¾ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed (Cool Whip or another brand)
2 3-ounce packages strawberry flavored gelatin (Milena used a 6-ounce package)
2 cups boiling water
2 10-ounce packages frozen strawberries (do not thaw)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
While the oven is heating, prepare the crust by stirring together the crushed pretzels, melted butter and sugar. Mix well and press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-by-13- inch baking dish. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until set; set aside and cool.
While the crust is cooling prepare the middle by creaming together the cream cheese and sugar. Fold the mixture into the whipped topping and if the crust is cool, spread the mixture onto the cooled crust. See helpful hint.
For the topping, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water, take off the heat and stir in the still frozen strawberries and allow to set briefly. When the mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread over the cream cheese layer and refrigerate until set.
Make sure that when you spread the cream cheese layer over the crust, you cover the entire crust without leaving air pockets in the corners to avoid the topping from seeping into the cream cheese layer.
Not a fan of strawberries, raspberry Jell-O and frozen raspberries work just as well.
My aunt, Titi Teresa, (yes titi or tia is Spanish for aunt so I am repeating, but that’s what we call her) is a phenomenal cooks, and she makes a wonderful turkey. While I know it’s too late for you for this Thanksgiving, you may want to add it to your Christmas or New Year’s table – it will be one of the best turkeys you’ve ever tasted.
Titi Teresa’s turkey
2 packets Durkee Grill Creations Marinade Mix, Italian herb (Durkee is made by Tone's)
3 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Italian Medley Seasoning Blend, salt free
3 to 4 teaspoons Goya Adobo all-purpose seasoning, with pepper (found in the Spanish aisle at your local grocery store)
2 to 3 packets Sazon Goya, with coriander and annatto
4 tablespoons vinegar (I was out of white vinegar so I used apple vinegar)
4 tablespoons oil (I used a 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil)
Salt and pepper to taste (I used one teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper)
1 stick of butter, room temperature, (optional)
1 15 to 20-22 pound turkey
Reynolds oven bags
Make sure to start this a day ahead so that flavors get a chance to marinate into the turkey.
Mix together the first seven ingredients to make a soupy paste (do not include the butter here). The mixture should be a bit salty, it’s a big bird. Once the ingredients are mixed together slather the paste all over the turkey, making sure to get some under the skin and into the cavity of the bird. If using the butter, divide it in half and slather each half stick under the skin, over each breast.
Once the turkey is ready, prepare the oven bag according to package directions (who knew), and place the turkey in the bag. Close the bag and let the turkey marinate overnight in the refrigerator (may be done up to two days ahead). Do NOT cut slits into the bag until just before you’re ready to bake the turkey. When you’re ready to cook the bird, take it out of the fridge and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour before you place it in the oven. Again, follow the baking directions on the box of the oven bags. Because you’re baking the turkey in a bag, the cooking time is actually reduced.
If you don’t want to use the cooking bags, just marinate the turkey a day or two before ready to bake and follow the baking instructions that come with the turkey. Note that you will have to baste the bird every half hour or so without the bag.
Buy local, eat local: Oconomowoc winter farmers market in full swing: Autumn Salad with Pears & Gorgonzola & Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie
I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the 2013 Oconomowoc winter farmers market on Sunday, Nov. 10 in the Oconomowoc Landscape Supply and Garden Center greenhouses, N68W37850 Highway K, Oconomowoc. The market runs the second and fourth Sunday of each month from November through April.
This is the fourth year for the market which has grown from the 12 original vendors to nearly three dozen. In that time more than 15,000 people have attended the market which offers everything from organic produce, free range poultry and brown eggs to candies, salsas, Greek pastries, pickles, butters and so much more… even dog treats, black Spanish radishes and purple potatoes (which make for some interesting mashed potatoes for the holidays).
The winter market was the brainchild of Lisa Geason-Bauer of Greener Oconomowoc who co-chairs this event with Katie Miller, Oconomowoc Chamber of Commerce. Ken Rizzo, who’s been working with Lisa for years at Greener Oconomowoc, states that this is the third largest indoor farmers market in Wisconsin.
While perusing the market I came across a bevy of local, fresh ingredients, all grown or produced within a 150 mile radius of the market. This next recipe is one that combines many of the products that can be found at the market. It’s also very healthy which should satisfy some of my readers searching for healthier options over the holiday season.
Autumn Salad with Pears and Gorgonzola
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
Pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small ripe pears, peeled and diced (may substitute apples)
¼ cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
8 ounces mixed micro greens (baby spinach, arugula, radicchio, etc.)
1 ounce (about 20 halves) pecans
For the dressing: Pour the vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper and sugar into a blender and slowly pour in the olive oil until well blended.
In a salad bowl, combine micro greens, pears, gorgonzola cheese and pecans. When ready to serve, add the vinaigrette and toss well. Serve immediately.
This next recipe is one Lisa sent over for pumpkin pie. She says many of the vendors at the market carry sugar pumpkins.
Old fashioned pumpkin pie
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon of lemon zest
2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
2 cups of pumpkin pulp purée from a sugar pumpkin* or from canned pumpkin purée
1½ cup heavy cream or 1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk
Your favorite pie crust recipe
*To make pumpkin purée from a sugar pumpkin start with a small-medium sugar pumpkin, cut out the stem and scrape out the insides and discard, saving the seeds of course. Cut the pumpkin in half and lay cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with silpat or aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees F until fork tender, about 60 to 90 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and scoop out the pulp. (Alternatively you can cut the pumpkin into sections and steam in a saucepan with a couple inches of water at the bottom, until soft.) If you want the pulp to be extra smooth, put it through a food mill.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In large bowl, mix the sugars, salt, and spices, and lemon zest. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl then stir in the pumpkin purée. Stir in cream and whisk all together until well incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Note that the pumpkin pie will come out of the oven all puffed up (from the leavening of the eggs), and will deflate as it cools.
Serve with whipped cream and enjoy.
For a quick and easy lunch, try wrapping the salad in tortillas for a healthy treat. If you’re short on time for the holidays, frozen pie crusts work wonders. For a list of vendors or more information on the Oconomowoc winter farmers market, visit oconomowoc.org and click on the calendar tab.
I’m a sucker for comfort food, but then again who isn’t at this time of year. While I wouldn’t suggest it on a regular basis, a little indulgence every now and then is needed. This next recipe would make a great addition to your holiday table and is a great alternative to mashed potatoes.
1 can cream of chicken soup (may substitute mushroom)
1 pint sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (a Colby or Mexican blend would also work)
½ cup butter, melted and divided (I know)
2 pounds, thawed hash browns (use your favorite type, O’Brien, southern, plain)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups cornflakes, crushed into crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with a nonstick spray and set aside.
In a large pot, heat soup and sour cream together until the sour cream melts and the soup has thinned out then stir in ¼ cup* of the melted butter and shredded cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Mix in the potatoes and onion then spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Top with the crushed corn flakes and the rest of the melted butter and bake for one hour.
For a lower fat version, try low fat soup, sour cream and cheese. I also omitted the ¼ cup of melted butter in the mixture.
If you don’t want to dirty that extra pan, just mix all of the ingredients together minus the bread crumbs and ¼ cup butter and pour into the baking dish without heating. Then top with the crushed corn flakes and remaining butter and bake.
October is a fickle month for those of us in Wisconsin. It can be sunny and warm one day and blistery and cold the next. Unfortunately, this year, we’ve had more of the latter with overcast days, chilly nights and wet, dark mornings thanks to a delayed daylight savings again this year - so bring on the comfort food, soup included. This next recipe is an Olive Garden copycat from Jane Bare for one of its popular bottomless soup entrées, but best of all, it’s a Crock Pot recipe so it will be ready when you get home.
Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana
1 pound Italian sausage (links or ground, I used Johnsonville spicy Italian links)
2 large russet baking potatoes, sliced in half, and then cut into ¼ inch slices
1 large onion, chopped (I used medium)
¼ cup bacon bits (optional, I didn’t have any so I skipped this item)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 3)
2 cups kale or Swiss chard, chopped (I used kale)
16 ounce can chicken broth (I didn’t have any so I used 4chicken flavored bouillon cubes)
1 quart water (I used 3 cups water and 1 cup white wine.. shhh)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper as needed
Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink, then place the cooked sausage, chicken broth, water, garlic, potatoes and onion in the slow cooker on high for 3 to 4 hours until potatoes are cooked and soft. (If you want it ready when you get home from work, just turn the slow cooker to low and it will be ready in 7 to 8 hours.)
Once the soup is done, turn the slow cooker off (or to low), add the kale and return the lid for 5 minutes. Then add the whipping cream and serve with some crusty bread or a green salad.
To add a bit of texture to this dish, mash some of the potatoes a bit.
My co-worker Sharon Milway’s husband Doug does not like beans in his chili, so Sharon’s always on the lookout for a good chili recipe without beans. In steps New York Jets center Nick Mangold on a Good Morning America tailgating segment with a bean-less chili recipe and voila, it’s a hit. And since she knows I’m always on the lookout for a good recipe, she was gracious enough to bring some in for me to sample.. It was delicious; in fact, one of the best chilies I’ve ever tasted. A new recipe, just in time for the Packes-Bears game Monday night.
Nick Mangold's C.B.C. (Chorizo Bacon Chili)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 strips of thick-cut bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound Mexican chorizo sausage, casings removed
2 pounds ground sirloin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
6 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
2 serrano peppers, finely chopped (Sharon used jalapeno)
4 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons coriander (Sharon used oregano)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups beef stock
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
Your favorite chili toppings
Drizzle oil into cast-iron pot over medium to medium-high heat, add the bacon, let brown then remove and set aside for later, leaving drippings in the pot. Add the onion to the drippings and cook slightly before adding the chorizo, making sure to crumble it with a spatula as it cooks. When the chorizo is almost done, add in the ground sirloin, salt, black pepper and garlic.
Once everything is cooked, add in the peppers, celery and corn, letting them sweat for a couple of minutes, before adding all the spices, stirring to combine.
Add the beef stock, scraping up any bits off the bottom before adding the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Add the bacon and stir to combine. Bring up to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for at least 15 to 20 minutes (the longer the simmer the better).
Garnish with your favorite chili toppings and a good helping of hot sauce if desired.
If you like beans in your chili, just add a can of kidney, red , pinto or black to the dish right after you add the tomato sauce.
Ground sirloin is a lot leaner than ground beef, so if using ground beef, make sure to drain the meat before adding the peppers, celery and corn.
I’m convinced… Facebook can be fattening. When I opened it up Thursday morning the first thing I saw was a recipe share from my friend Cathy Gilbertson with the picture of a fresh apple cake that other than tasting delicious, was also quick and easy to make. If fall had a flavor, this would be it.
Fresh Apple Cake
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cup sugar
3 cups flour (for a moister cake reduce to 2½ cups)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt (my addition)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
3 cups peeled and chopped apples
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup evaporated milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease a 9-by-13 inch pan and set aside. Combine the oil, sugar and eggs, then stir in the flour and baking soda. Once combined, add the vanilla, pecans and apples. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it out (it’s rather thick). Bake for 45 to 50 minutes and let cool for 2 hours.
For the frosting (which is amazing and I have to admit may be better than the cake), boil all of the ingredients in a small saucepan for about 2 minutes, then set the pan in a bowl filled with ice water. Once the mixture has cooled, beat the icing to spreading consistency and spread over the top of the cake.
I prepared the frosting ahead of time and set it aside. When it was time to frost the cake, I placed the frosting in the freezer for two minues and then beat it before spreading it on the cake.
For another layer of flavor, sprinkle the cake with cinnamon sugar before baking.
What can I say; I am a carnivore at heart and I make no apologies. If I see a vegetarian recipe, the first thought that usually goes through my head is ‘what kind of meat can I add to that?’ Chicken, beef, pork, goat or lamb, I love them all.. sorry doc.
This next recipe is one I found on Yahoo! Shine. It comes from Fabio Viviani (the chef, not the model) and combines pork tenderloin and bacon. How can I go wrong? For Fabio’s video version of this recipe click here to see how it’s done.
Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey (I used equal parts honey and balsamic vinegar)
2 tablespoons minced-to-a-paste garlic (about 4 large cloves)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (see helpful hints)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 pork tenderloin (2 to 4 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 to 12 slices thick-cut bacon
Olive oil, as needed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place a sheet or two of plastic wrap on a work surface. Stir together the vinegar and honey for the glaze and set aside.
Stir together the garlic, oregano and thyme (I used a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic with the salt and pepper before adding the herbs to the mixture. I also added about two tablespoons of basil and fresh parsley to the mix). Rub the tenderloin with the garlic-herb mixture, and season it with salt and pepper (if you haven’t added the salt and pepper to the garlic mixture).
Place the tenderloin at the end of the plastic wrap that is closest to you and in front of the tenderloin, on the plastic wrap, slightly overlap the bacon slices the length of the tenderloin. Roll the tenderloin over the bacon, using the plastic wrap to help you roll the bacon over the tenderloin. Trim the ends as needed to make a neat package and discard the plastic wrap.
Heat a large sauté pan over high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil, heating until it starts to ripple. Place the bacon-wrapped tenderloin, seam-side down, in the pan and sear until the bacon is browned, about 2 minutes per side.
Once sides are seared, transfer the tenderloin to a roasting or shallow-sided sheet pan, and coat it thoroughly with the glaze.
Roast the tenderloin until the internal temperature reaches 135 to 145 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let the tenderloin rest for 5 to 10 minutes (do not skip resting the meat), then using a sharp slicing knife, cut the tenderloin into slices about ½- to 1-inch thick. Serve immediately with your favorite starch, vegetables or a big green salad.
These culinary tips come from Fabio himself. Cover the prep surface with plastic wrap before starting this recipe to make it easier to wrap the pork in bacon and for an easier cleanup.
For even deeper flavor, use dry herbs for the rub (I did), and refrigerate the rubbed tenderloin to marinate it for a few hours.
Be sure to sear the seamed side of the tenderloin first to minimize curling of the bacon and to help keep the bacon in place.
I’ve been writing a lot about chicken lately, but it’s a staple that we generally have in the freezer so I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it. My son, Sebastian, and husband, Tom, have also been on a protein rich workout routine so it’s seems like it’s always meat (beef), meat (pork) and more meat (chicken), and sometimes fish. Whatever it is they’re doing, it seems to be working so the protein rich recipe hunt continues. This next recipe is one I found at tasteofhome.com. It was delicious, but the best thing... just pop it in the slow cooker and walk away. You’ll be rewarded with a tender, falling off the bone dish that is sure to please. As for the “boys,” they loved it.
Sweet ‘n’ tangy chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 broiler/fryer chicken (3 pounds), cut up, skin removed (do not substitute boneless or it will completely fall apart)
2/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used 3)
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I used ¼)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water
Combine the onion and garlic, place it in the slow cooker and place the chicken on top of the mixture.
In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, chili powder, lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper and pepper sauce and pour it over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat is tender. Remove the chicken to a serving platter to keep warm.
Skim the fat from cooking juices and transfer to a small saucepan (see helpful hint), bringing the liquid to a boil. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and water until smooth and gradually stir into the pan. Bring to a boil, and cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with chicken.
No need to dirty another pan, I just added the cornstarch and water mixture to the slow cooker about 15 minutes before the chicken was done and the sauce turned out perfectly.
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