Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kitchen Tip: Pepperoni on Pizza

If your like my family our favorite part of pepperoni pizza is the extra crispy pieces. Whenever we order pizza its a fight for those slices that have the extra crispy one on them. Cook's Country magazine talked about how to make those extra crispy pepperoni's on homemade pizza and it's worked well for us. Now every piece of homemade pizza has several pieces of the much loved pepperoni and an added bonus doing this removes some of the fat from the pepperoni. It's simple and takes just a minute to do this.
Place a doubled paper towel on a plate. Add pepperoni to the paper towel to cover the plate or as many pieces as you think you will need. Add another doubled paper towel to the top. Place in microwave for about 1 minute. Now you can use the pepperoni on your pizza and it's minus some of the fat and already started to crisp up.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cobb Salad Sandwiches

I think these are all the rage right now. Everyone seems to be talking about these. I should have posted this months ago and been the one to introduce them. I love Cobb salad. A few years ago you wouldn't have been able to talk me into trying one because I didn't like egg or blue cheese. Amazing how your tastes change as you get older. I've done sandwich as a chopped dish served inside of a pita which makes a fun dish to serve at a potluck or a party. The possibilities are really endless. I won't give exact amounts as each person will make it different so this is just a rough guideline to build you a really delicious sandwich that has flavors that blend together wonderfully.

bread (in the picture I used Harmon's roasted garlic bread but any bread will do)
lettuce (I prefer romaine but iceburg or even spinach works)
tomato, sliced
bacon (turkey or real doesn't matter)
avocado, sliced
deli turkey (I get the Boar's Head peppered but even leftover turkey from Thanksgiving works)
slice of cheddar cheese (only because dh thinks a sandwich isn't a sandwich without cheese)
one half a hard boiled egg, chopped
Roquefort dressing or if you don't like blue cheese Ranch dressing

Layer the sandwich in the order listed or however your heart desires. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vegetable Pasta Salad

This dish turned out to be a huge hit with everyone in the family. It was simple and easy and will be perfect during the summer with farm fresh vegetables. The recipe called for napa cabbage and a purple cabbage and I didn't have either on hand so I used a bag of coleslaw mix that had been sitting in the fridge for a week. I can't wait to try it with Napa cabbage but the coleslaw mix was a great substitute. I left the bean sprouts out since I hate bean sprouts. This dish is going to be a regular in this house.

Vegetable Pasta Salad
Kristen at Coloring Outside the Lines

1 package linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled (I used the Smart Choice noodles in a yellow box)
1/2 head sliced Napa cabbage, or more to taste ( I used 3/4 of a bag of coleslaw mix)
1/2 head sliced purple cabbage, or more to taste
1/2 bag baby spinach, or more to taste
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 bag bean sprouts (or a generous handful) (DID NOT USE)
1 bunch cilantro
4+ green onions, sliced,
1 can cashews, lightly toasted in skillet

Dressing Ingredients:

1 whole lime, juiced
8 Tbsp. olive oil
8 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/3 c. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated (MUST be fresh)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 - 2 fresh jalapenos, chopped
chopped cilantro

Mix salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients and pour over salad right before serving.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Homemade Butter

I try to buy organic dairy goods when I can but the price on organic butter is really high so I started thinking about making my own. I found a great cookbook titled The Home Creamery which has recipes for all kinds of dairy items you can make at home. I've been playing with making all of the items in the book. So back to my quest of serving organic dairy goods and I've discovered that our local grocery store marks down organic heavy whipping cream Sunday nights to between 25 cents and $1 which makes for some really cheap organic dairy items. Yes this means I have to use the whipping cream right away but for organic butter, buttermilk, sour cream, ricotta cheese, and others its a steal of a deal. Homemade butter is the first of these items I've made that I'm featuring here. It's really easy to make and honestly now I have a hard time using store bought butter.

Homemade Butter
The Home Creamery

4 cups (2 pints) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

For best results your cream should be about 60 degrees F when you begin. If it's too warm, your butter will be soft and won't keep well; if it's too cold, your butter will never form.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle, process the cream until it turns to fine, solid pieces. It will go through several processes to get to this point, from frothy to soft whipped cream to coarse whipped cream to solid bits, and the color will change from off white to pale yellow. This can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.

Let the butter stand about 5 minutes. The liquid, called buttermilk, will separate from the butter during this time. Set a fine meshed sieve over a medium bowl. Scrape the butter mixture into the strainer and let the buttermilk strain. Strain the buttermilk again through a fine meshed sieve and save for another use if desired.

Transfer the butter to a colander and knead it with a wooden spoon, potato masher, or two forks to remove excess water and blend granules. Pour off the water occasionally, and continue kneading until most of the water has been removed and the butter becomes firmer. This will take about 10 minutes. Mix in salt; this will help retard spoilage as well as add flavor. Keep working until the butter is dense and creamy and all liquid has been worked out, about 10 minutes.

You can form the butter into any shape you wish at this stage: You can make it a simple block or press it into ramekins or molds. When your done wrap the butter in wax paper and keep it in the refrigerator.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Peach Glazed Ham

I made this for Easter Sunday. Ham is a tradition in our house on Easter. We usually buy the spiral cut ham and use the sticky glaze that sort of just runs off the ham when applied so I was very interested in this recipe from Cooks Country. The original recipe called for Peach Schnapps which we didn't have on hand so I just left it out.

Peach Glazed Ham
Cooks Country April/May 2010

1 (7 to 10 lb) spiral sliced bone in ham
1 (12 oz) jar peach perserves
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Remove ham from packaging and discard plastic disk covering bone. Place ham in oven bag. Tie closed and cut 4 (2 inch) slits in top of bag. Transfer bagged ham to large roasting pan and let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Bake ham until internal temperature registers 100 degrees, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, bring peach preserves, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until mixture is very thick and reduced to 1/3 cup, about 45 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter.

Combine remaining brown sugar and cayenne pepper with the dry mustard in a small bowl. Remove ham from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Cut open oven bag and roll back. Using a pastry brush, paint ham with glaze. Carefully press sugar mixture onto exterior of ham with hands. Return to oven and bake until dark brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Transfer ham to cutting board, loosely tent with foil, and rest 15 minutes.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grilled Ham and Cheese

I love a little local diner called The Burger Stop. It's a cute little place done in a 50's theme and they have old car shows throughout the summer. However my favorite thing about this place is the grilled ham and cheese sandwich they have. Its the perfect blend of flavors and is just plain good. However driving over and dropping $25 every time I get a craving for this sandwich gets to be expensive and a time killer. So I've worked on making it on my own and think I've finally perfected it.

Grilled Ham and Cheese

2 slices bread, I prefer wheat or sourdough but white works too
1 tablespoon mayo, I use Best Foods but you could probably sub whatever you have or like
2 teaspoons honey mustard
2 slices of tomato
4 pickles slices
about a palm's worth of shredded lettuce
butter, to spread on the bread
about 3 ounces deli ham, I get my deli meat shaved so you may need more or less depending on how you get your meat sliced
2 slices deli cheddar cheese, I also like using horseradish cheddar
garlic salt

To assemble and cook:
Butter one side of each piece of bread and sprinkle with garlic salt.
Place butter side down on griddle or nonstick frying pan, heated over medium heat.
Add one slice cheese, ham, pickles, tomato, lettuce, and remaining slice of cheese.
On the other slice of bread butter and sprinkle one side with garlic salt. Mix together mayo and mustard. Spread the other side of the bread with the mayo/mustard mixture and place the mayo/mustard side down on the cheese.
Cook on one side until golden brown then gently flip over and cook until cheese is melted and the other side is golden brown.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

I know Norah and family have still been recuperating and I finally made something! I shared the photo with Norah and she requested that I post it to her blog. I did have to have the forethought to make this meal. It does require a little bit of time. I enjoyed it thoroughly but I'm biased towards sugary things.

Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin
**reciped adapted from America's Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010**

3/4 cup maple syrup(I used grade A dark amber, just NOT pancake syrup)
1/4 cup light or mild molasses
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground red pepper
1/4 cup constarch
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 pounds pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard(I had grey poupon)

1. Ajdust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Set a wire rack over a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and set aside.(Side story: I never understood this step and I once skipped it in another recipe and learned my lesson. I think I threw the pan away.)

2. Combine 1/2 cup of the maple syrup, molasses, cinnamon and ground red pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk the cornstarch, sugar, black pepper and salt together and spread into a shallow dish.

3. Pat tenderloin dry with paper towels and then roll in cornstarch mixture until evenly coated on all sides. Heat oil in a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Carefully lay tenderloin (if it doesn't fit into your skillet, cut tenderloin in half before rolling in cornstarch mixture) in the skillet and cook until well browned on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer pork to the prepared baking sheet.

4. Pour off any excess fat from the skillet and return to medium heat. Add the syrup mixture to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until the mixture has reduced to 1/2 cup, 2 to 4 minutes. Measure out and reserve 2 tablespoons of glaze.

5. Brush tenderloin with 2 tablespoons of the reduced glaze. Bake until thickest part of the meat registers 135 degrees on a thermometer, about 30 minutes. Brush tenderloin with another 2 tablespoons of reduced glaze. Bake until thermometer registers 145 degrees, about another 10 to 15 minutes. Pull from oven.

6. Brush tenderloin with remaining reduce glaze and let rest, uncovered, until thermometer registers 150 degrees, about 10 minutes. 

7. While the tenderloin rests, stir the remaing 1/4 cup syrup, reserved 2 tablespoons of reduced glaze and mustard in a small dish. Cut tenderloin into 1/4 inch  thick slices and drizzle with syrup-mustard sauce.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Cheese Straws

I first posted these way back when I first started my blog. I loved them then and I still love them. I thought they deserved to be bumped up and I new picture given to them since I first posted them. I can't even begin to explain how much these cheese straws are loved in our house. We serve them with everything and sometimes we just make them to snack on. They are perfect gifts although they are fragile.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry(1/2 box), thawed on counter for 10 minutes
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Adjust two oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place puff pastry on sheet of parchment and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place another sheet of parchment over cheese and, using rolling pin, press cheese into dough by gently rolling pin back and forth. Without removing parchment, carefully flip dough over, cheese side down. Remove top layer of parchment and sprinkle pastry with remaining cheese, salt, and pepper. Cover pastry with parchment and continue to roll out, if necessary, to form 10 1/2-inch square.

2. Remove top sheet of parchment and, using sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into fourteen 3/4-inch-wide strips. Holding each end, gently twist strips of dough in opposite direction and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing strips about 1 inch apart.

3. Bake immediately, until fully puffed and golden brown, about 10 minutes, reversing positions of baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through baking time. Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

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