Sunday, February 27, 2011

An Economical Yet Elegant Oscar Night Dinner

Our oceans rivers and streams provide us with so much nourishment,lets treat them with respect
     It’s a red carpet night at out house and it has nothing to do with the Oscar ceremony on television. We are preparing mussels in garlic white wine lemon butter sauce and serving it over homemade pasta. We saw some beautiful mussels in the market today and decided to put the regularly scheduled meal on hold. This afternoon I quickly prepared pasta dough that I rolled out just before dinner. It  cooked in minutes and provided the perfect complement to the fresh mussels. This simple and economical dish was truly an elegant feast for two. I donned my fanciest pajamas poured, a glass of wine, served our red carpet meal and settled in to watch, at least part of the Oscars.
Cook with wines you'd actually enjoy drinking, They don't have to be expensive
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 large shallot (minced)
Red pepper flake
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pot herbs
1 ½ cups white wine (a good bottle found on sale) 
1.25 Lbs Mussels 
Homemade pasta (flour egg oil water) 

Making pasta is easy and delicious
Add butter and oil to the pan
Lightly sauté the garlic and shallot
Add the white wine and lemon juice
Bring to a boil
Add the cleaned scrubbed mussels.
add pot herbs pepper & salt
(Make sure mussels are closed before cooking and review mussel safety)
(if they won’t close prior to cooking toss then out and don’t eat them)
Cover and let the cook/steam till all are open (about 5 minutes or so)
(If any mussels don't open throw away)
Fresh pasta cooks quickly and tastes terrific
Serve over fresh pasta and use plenty of wine garlic lemon butter sauce
Serve with crusty bread to mop up the leftover sauce
Total under $11.00 for this Oscar night feast
  red carpet comfort food
TIP OF THE DAY: If you see an ingredient that inspires you use it. Don’t waste what you have on hand but if possible put it on hold. The butternut squash risotto I had planned will easily keep till another day

Monday, February 14, 2011

Epic Valentinapalooza Cincinnati Chili Lasagna

      We all know that true Valentines gifts are not about how much money is spent or how extravagant the evening might be. If you asked most people, feeling cared for and cherished on Valentines Day tops their wish list. To show John how much I love him I have developed a twist on the classic Cincinnati Chili recipe. I’ve taken this special dish and turned it into a delicious lasagna. I hope it will remind him of his hometown and how grateful I am for his love in my life. The people we love are a product of all their history and experiences. When a piece of John’s history is this delicious I can’t help but want to share it with him on this special Day.
Preparing the ingredients
       One of the first things you learn about Cincinnatians is the love they have for their food traditions. When one asks a local for advice on what to do in town the answer will invariably be a list of the most amazing places to eat. These ice cream parlors, grocery shops, bakeries and butcher shops are described with pride and affection and are as much a part of their history as Riverfront stadium. A million memories of family, friends and growing up are tied to each one. When you see the smiles on their faces and the light in their eyes as they share these recollections you instantly understand who they are. It is the connection we all have to food memories and feelings and nowhere have I found it to be more evident than in Cincinnati.
Chocolate helps make this dish oh so perfect for Valentine's Day

     It was there I was first introduced to the glories of the delectable Cincinnati Chili. This is not the earthy sturdy Chili of Texas or New Mexico whose flavors fed the west. The Western Chili has a refined sophisticated Northern sister who has traveled the world picking up ingredients as souvenirs, hints of exotic flavors is so tantalizingly different that your palette is at once surprised and intrigued and you must have more.
I prepared homemade pasta try it once and you will always want to prepare it yourself  
 Cincinnati Chili Lasagna
½-3/4          Onion (diced)             
1/2 lb            Ground beef  
½ lb              Ground pork     
3/4 Tbs        Chili powder
2-4                Cloves garlic      
1/2 tsp          Allspice
3/4 tsp         Cinnamon
1/2 tsp          Cumin
1/4 tsp          Cayenne
1 ½ tsp          Salt
1/4 oz            Chocolate  (1-2 Tbs)       
½-3/4 Tbs   Cider vinegar
1/4 cup         Water
1 24 oz can   Tomato diced   
½-3/4 tbs    Worcestershire sauce
1                      Bay leaf
This chili smells as good as it tastes

I sauté the onion beef till just about done
Add garlic & chili powder 
(I grated the garlic on a garlic grater)

Add allspice cumin cayenne pepper, salt, chocolate
Tomatoes, cider vinegar &
Worcestershire sauce

I add a bay leaf (remove before serving)
Simmer for about an hour

Begin the lasagna process by layering a small bit of the chili on the bottom of the dish
Lay out the cooked pasta sheets
Ladle chili evenly over pasta
Sprinkle finely grated cheddar on top
Lay next layer of cooked pasta sheets
Ladle more chili on top
Sprinkle more cheddar on top
Continue till done
Top with cheddar
Bake at 350 degrees till bubbly and hot
Ready to pop in the oven

Serve with grated cheddar
Diced onion and even red beans if you wish.
Happy Valentine's Day from home to yours.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Summer Staycation

            "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
                                                           -- Albert Camus

     It is mid February and most of the country is covered in snow with frigid temperatures and biting winds that make the idea of a beach day almost inconceivable. The long gray days of winter can begin to wear on a soul when spring seems so far away. Most of us can not escape to a tropical island until spring comes along so I thought I'd serve up a little summer vacation in tonight's post.

     I took a ride to the ocean the other day and as I watched the seagulls soaring and the puppy dogs at play in the waves, I wished I could share this summer moment with those who are feeling the weight of an abominable snow season. How could I convey the spirit of such a day and remind my friends that summer will be here soon with flowers and vegetables blooming in the garden and a pitcher of lemonade to be sipped on the porch. 
Beginning to cook the veggies
     My solution is of course to provide you with a summer beach picnic in the midst of the depths of winter. So get out those Beach Boy records, lay a blanket on the floor make some lemonade and enjoy a taste of summer on a winter night.

I  sometimes use these. They are terrific
Crab Cakes 
½ onion
½ yellow pepper
½ red pepper
¼ -1/2 tsp hot sauce
½ Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp old bay
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
cook till soft
cool completely

When the veggies are cool 
2 eggs
¼ cup mayo
½ cup panko bread crumbs
½ lb flaked crab
They look good so far
Blend the cooked (cooled) mixture with the eggs mayo and crab
Form into cakes
Pan fry in butter and oil
Total Under $7.00 
not bad for a summer vacation.
Crab Cakes transport ~ a dinner by the sea
I served the crab cakes with
a diced red onion and tomato salad
tossed in a blood orange vinaigrette 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Comfort Food For A Stormy Snow Day

For most of the country today is a day to stay indoors, put on your warmest comfiest clothes, select a few good movies and prepare this one pan turkey chili. This delicious adaptable recipe will accommodate just about whatever you have on hand. I suggest you make a big pot of it and enjoy the warm feeling it will give you throughout the stormy days ahead.
In my large pan
I added 1 Tbs olive oil
I sauté a large onion
A red Pepper 
A yellow pepper

1-2 Tomatoes
Several garlic cloves (to taste~we like garlic)
Parsley and raw garlic (minced combo I have on hand)
Some leftover roasted garlic cloves
I seasoned the mixture with salt, pepper, cumin, mixed herbs

When all the ingredients are cooked
I added
Cooked black beans ~about 15 oz. (If using a can I rinse them thoroughly)
Leftover turkey breast ( I had roasted the breast earlier and used the leftovers for this dish)
I served this delicious mixture on tortillas with avocado and salsa on top.
Use the above recipe as a guideline and adapt it to use what you have on hand. 
You could add jalapeños
Use chicken or pork instead of turkey
Use pinto beans if you have them on hand
Green chilies are a fantastic addition to this dish.
Use your imagination to create a snow day comfort food feast.
Stay indoor and safe while enjoying a fast easy hearty meal.