Friday, February 29, 2008

Turkey - It's Not Just For Thanksgiving

I had a turkey breast in the freezer that was supposed to be for a holiday meal, but purchased a whole turkey instead. I've never made only a turkey breast before - but for 2 people who usually like only the white meat, it makes sense. I was inspired by this recipe Provencal Turkey from Cooking Light, but made some changes. I served it with garlic mashed potatoes & corn & peas. I used up the leftovers by making hot turkey sandwiches and turkey noodle soup.

Provencal Turkey

1 (5-pound) whole turkey breast
1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence (I used 3 tbsp, some under the skin, some sprinkled on skin)
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used 1 tsp sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I used 1 tsp)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4 cloves)
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used the oil liberally under the skin and all over the turkey)
12 garlic cloves, unpeeled (if you don't make the stock, you don't need to add these)
2 cups Roasted Turkey Stock (recipe in link above, I omitted)
3/4 cup dry white wine (I omitted, I did add fat free chicken broth to the roaster pan & basted)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, quartered, peeled and placed in turkey cavity

Preheat oven to 400°. (I roasted on 375 for 2-2 hrs 15 min.)
Loosen skin from breast by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Combine herbes de Provence, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and minced garlic in a small bowl. (I added some olive oil to this mixture) Rub seasoning mixture under loosened skin. Rub turkey with olive oil. Place 12 garlic cloves in a roasting pan; place turkey on cloves. Bake at 400° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Let stand for 15 minutes. Discard turkey skin. Squeeze cloves to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins. Set aside.

Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour drippings from pan into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner. Drain drippings into a bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. (I skipped this step and below)

Place roasting pan over 2 burners on medium heat. Add pan drippings, Roasted Turkey Stock, white wine, and reserved garlic, scraping pan to loosen brown bits. Cook 10 minutes or until reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Serve with turkey.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 4 ounces turkey and 3 tablespoons jus)

How Cheesy!

I've made lasagna several times, with different recipes. Although it usually turns out very good tasting, it often falls apart. I let it rest a bit longer, and voila - it stayed in one piece! I sort of combined two different recipes from Allrecipes, "Deep Dish Lasagna" and "World's Best Lasagna". I'm only posting the ingredients/directions that I used from those recipes, and I did make some changes/substitutions from the original versions, trying to make it a little bit healthier.

Deep Dish Cheesy Lasagna

12 uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles
2/3 cups chopped onion
1 lb extra lean ground sirloin
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1.5 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
4/5 tbsp freshly chopped parsley, divided
2.5 tsp salt, divided
3/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 cup water
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 6.5 oz tomato sauce
1-2 6.5 oz cans tomato paste
16 oz part skim or fat free ricotta cheese
3 cups part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook ground beef, and add in onions and garlic till browned, drain. Return to pot, and stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, paste(you can just add one can and add more later to thicken), and water. Season with sugar, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, 2 tsp salt, pepper & parsley. Simmer covered for about 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook lasagna noodles about 8-10 minutes, or I will cook about a minute less than according to directions. Drain & rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 salt, egg, ricotta & 1/2 tbsp of parsley.

In a greased 9 x 13 baking dish, spread 1.5 cups of sauce, and layer 4 noodles and spread half of the ricotta mixture, 1 - 1.5 cups of sauce, 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat this layer again, and the last layer will be noodles, sauce & mozzarella cheese.

Bake covered in preheated oven for 25 minutes, remove foil, and bake 20-25 more minutes. Let lasagna cool 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Menu - Week of February 25th

Monday - Lasagna & Baby Lettuce & Spinach Salad

Tuesday - Roasted Herbed Turkey Breast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Corn & Peas

Wednesday - Same as Monday

Thursday - Asian Lettuce Wraps & Steamed Veggies

Friday - Broccoli & Cheddar Soup & Baby Lettuce & Spinach Salad

Saturday - eating out

Sunday - TBD ;)

Plus some hot turkey sandwiches for lunch - turkey meat with some warm gravy on whole wheat....and turkey whole wheat pitas w/a bit of light mayo, tomatoes, lettuce & onions, maybe a bit of cheddar cheese too!

Light My Fire ;)

I'm a little behind on my postings, but this is from Valentine's Day. I prepared a fondue - which is just perfect for a long, romantic Valenine's Day meal. I only did the peanut oil/main course fondue - I've never done a cheese one(but I plan to), and didn't prepare a chocolate/dessert one since I already had dessert - the yummy pb cheesecake brownies in my blog. You can include whatever combination of meat/seafood/veggies you like, and pair them with dipping sauces - either prepared or homemade. I got some inspiration from Gourmet Sleuth & Go Fondue web sites.

Romantic Fondue

Meat: chicken breast & beef tenderloin, cubed
Seafood: peeled/deveined uncooked shrimp
Vegetables: cherry tomatoes, green & red pepper, and red pepper (cut into chunks) & baby bella mushrooms (halved)

I served the fondue with Creamy Parmesan Orzo, in my blog under Pasta.

I marinated the chicken & beef in some garlic flavored olive oil, salt & pepper for 30 minutes. Soy sauce would be great too!

Dipping Sauces:

These are really rough estimates, I kind of added more/less of ingredients to taste, as well as how much we needed.

BBQ Sauce - I recommend Sweet Baby Ray's or Stubby's Mesquite ;)

Ginger Teriyaki - mix 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger(fresh if you have on hand)

Garlic Herb Butter - melt some butter, maybe 4 tablespoons, and stir in 1/4 tsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp Italian herbs, 1 tsp minced garlic

Honey Dijon Mustard - mix 1/2 cup dijon mustard & 3 tbsp honey

Hoisin Dipping Sauce -mix 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/2 cup hoisin sauce, 2 tablespoons ketchup & season with salt & pepper

Spicy Oriental Sauce - mix 2 tbs soy sauce, 1.5 tbs lemon juice, 1/2 tsp crushed red peppers, 1 clove garlic, 2 tsp sesame oil

Lemon Basil Olive Oil - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, dash of salt & pepper, 1/4 fresh chopped herbs(I had basil & parsley), 1 tbsp lemon juice

Fill a fondue pot with peanut oil (not to the top, a little more than half), then dump into a pot and heat on the stove till oil reaches 375 degrees. Remove from stove & carefully put back in fondue pot, and place on stand above the flame. I also added a tablespoon of Fondue Seasoning from The Melting Pot restaurant, but I'm sure you could always add your own faves - like garlic salt, onion powder, Italian seasoning, etc.

Spear your meat & veggies w/the fondue forks, and cook. Unfortunately, I didn't time it but it's less than 5 minutes - the veggies & shrimp cook the fastest.

And it's a fondue rule that if your food falls off the fork, you must kiss!

Friday, February 22, 2008

That's Amore!

There's no question about it - pizza is my all-time favorite food - I would eat it everyday if I could! Since moving to Michigan, I haven't been able to find a good authentic Italian/homemade style pizza. So I decided to try and make my own from scratch - and it was a success! I used the Basic Pizza Dough recipe from Cooking Light, and created my own sauce. You can have so many variations with the toppings, allowing you to make it more healthy. I'll definately be making this delivery dish, in.

I preheated my pizza stone on 500 degrees for 45 miutes, at the lowest rack in the oven, then prepared the dough. I turned down the heat to 450, and topped the pizza, and baked for approx. 12-15 minutes, oven times may vary. I used part skim mozzarella cheese, roma tomatoes, red onion, turkey pepperoni, baby bella mushrooms, green & red bell pepper & fresh parsley.

Basic Pizza Dough

2 teaspoons honey (I omitted, didn't have any)
1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces), divided
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used 1 teaspoonof garlic salt)
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons stone-ground yellow cornmeal
I added 1 tsp of olive oil to the mixture when adding the flour and salt.

Dissolve the honey and yeast in 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If the indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

Roll dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/4 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a rimless baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Lightly spray surface of dough with cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap. Place the dough in refrigerator for up to 30 minutes. Bake according to recipe directions.

Saucy! Pizza Sauce

1 5 oz tomato sauce
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp of each, or salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic paste or minced garlic

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
Makes enough for two large pizzas(or two of the above dough recipe), plus some leftover for other uses, such as a dipping sauce for the pizza, breadsticks, calzones, etc.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fill Me Up (Reese's) Buttercup....

After achieving a rare baking success with the Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownie in October, I decided to go for it and make this recipe from Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen, since the picture looked so amazing, and I've read many raves. And WOW - this is heavenly, there's not much else to say about it - peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate brownie and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups....go ahead, make it and I dare you to have just one piece!

Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

3/4 cup butter, very soft (not melted but softer than room temp)
1 cup sugar
1 TBS vanilla extract
2 large eggs1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
1 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder1/4 tsp salt

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl
4 oz cream cheese, softened1/2 cups creamy PB
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
5-6 Reese's peanut butter cups (regular size) cut into 6-8 pieces each

IMPORTANT: Do NOT omit the Reese's Peanut Butter cups. They take these brownies over the top and add the "Double" Peanut Butter taste the title tempts taste buds with

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8x8" square pan with foil and lightly coat with PAM cooking spray.
In a microwave safe bowl melt the two baking chocolate squares in 30 second intervals stirring after each interval until smooth and melted after stirring. Do not scorch! Remove from microwave and allow to come to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, Beat together butter and sugar until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time until blended. Add vanilla and melted chocolate. Mix to combine. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl and whisk together. Gradually stir dry ingredients into butter mixture. Do not over mix.

In separate mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, peanut butter sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat until just combined. Spread about 2/3 of chocolate brownie batter into prepared pan. Evenly drop 1/2 of cheesecake batter in dollops over brownie batter. Run a knife through both mixtures to slightly swirl.

Dollop remaining brownie batter and cheesecake batter over swirled mixture. Run knife through the brownie and cheesecake dollops (not all the way through the already swirled layer) to create a swirled pattern.

Bake for 40-45 minutes**, or until center is set and a toothpick inserted in the center has a few crumbs stuck to it. Do not over bake or they will harden, if under baked they will be too gooey. Every oven is different so watch and check these after about 35-40 minutes of baking to ensure proper doneness.

**After about 35-40 minutes of baking (with about 5-7 minutes of baking time left, you just need to eyeball it) gently place cut up Reese's cups over top of almost fully baked brownies. Finish baking until a toothpick inserted in the center has a few crumbs stuck to it. The Reese's PB cups will melt but hold their shape slightly. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting and serving.

NOTE: I have not baked the brownie recipe without the Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl and Reese's on top so I am not sure how the brownies themselves rate. Let's just say I may not find out as I am in love with the Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake recipe.

NOTE 2/13/08: I changed and added 5-7 minutes the baking time as a few people who have made the recipe indicated a longer bake time was needed than originally posted. The recipe listed above reflects those changes.All ovens are different so be sure to keep an eye on your brownies to prevent over baking. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs stuck to it.

Pollo Romano

I love Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network, and have seen this episode many times, and was on my to-cook list for a while. I wasn't disappointed! It was a great Italian dish - a departure from the traditional marinara or pasta dish I am used to making.

The roasted potatoes get crispy on the outside, but soft in the inside - and the onions - cippolini - are a new variety for me - turned sweet and mild when roasted. This dish can be prepared ahead of time, then reheated, and also tastes great the next day.

Roman-style Chicken
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Recipe Summary Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Yield: 6 servings User Rating: ****

4 skinless chicken breast halves, with ribs (I used 4 boneless/skinless breasts)
2 skinless chicken thighs, with bones (I omitted)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced (I used red & orange peppers)
3 ounces prosciutto, chopped (I used 2 ounces)
2 cloves garlic, chopped (I used 3, I looove garlic)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted diced tomatoes)
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (I used 1.5 teaspoons dried)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves (I used 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers (I omitted, don't really like them)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and prosciutto and cook until the peppers have browned and the prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

If serving immediately, add the capers and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve. If making ahead of time, transfer the chicken and sauce to a storage container, cool, and refrigerate. The next day, reheat the chicken to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the capers and the parsley and serve.

Potatoes and Onions
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Recipe Summary Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Yield: 4 to 6 servings
User Rating: ****

2 pounds new potatoes (white, red, or Yukon gold), scrubbed and halved
1 pound cippolini onions, peeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the potatoes and onions are golden brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Serve immediately or cool and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, reheating the next day in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Menu - Week of February 10th

The reason for my lack of blog entires has been because of my broken has now been replaced, so it's back to blogging, and hopefully my pictures will look better than before!

Monday - Roman Style Chicken and Potatoes w/ Cippolini Onions "Giada De Laurentiis

Tuesday - Chicken Fajita Quesdillas

Wednesday - Baked Ziti (on my blog under Italian or Pasta) & Salad

Thursday(Valentine's Day) - Meat & Veggie Fondue, Chocolate Fondue, Salad, Artisan Bread w/Herbed Olive Oil

Friday(meatless during Lent) - Take out Thai