Friday, November 30, 2012

Jerk Chicken Stew in a Crock Pot


Jerk... Anything you can make with Jerk spices is just FUN to say.  And of course, Jerk Chicken is a classic from the islands "mon".

So, slip on a little Bob Marley tune and let's combine the Jamaican classic with the workin' (wo)man's friend...the crock pot.

But first a word about Jerk Spices/Rub.  I am using a store bought dry spice mix.  I went for convenience in place of traditional.  This recipe was inspired from a more traditional and complete post from fellow blogger, "Taste For Adventure".  If you follow the blue lettered link to that post, you will see a very detailed how to post on making your own traditional Jerk wet rub.

 I also suspect that the traditional recipe of Taste for Adventure would be more spiced than what I was willing to serve to my hard working wife with the inconvenient day job.  This soup is spiced, but not so spiced that my more delicate wife's pallet was scorched.  By using a dry mix I was more able to control the heat.  He was also using raw chicken and making the soup in about an hour.

And I also got to use a bottle of my Home Town Brew's Christmas offering, Kansas City's own Boulevard Nut Cracker Ale in the recipe.  Jerk, Beer and Bob Marley!



I was having one of those days and decided I needed to make dinner in the morning or we were eating out of the freezer. So, break out the crock pot...

Here's what I did...


Jerk Chicken Stew
in a Crock Pot


Ingredients
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Bottle Beer, I used Boulevard Nut Cracker, the heavier the better.
  • 1/4 Cup Vinegar
  • 4 TBS Butter
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped, but Large pieces
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 TBS Flour
  • 4 Ribs Celery, Sliced
  • 4 Medium Carrots, Sliced
  • 3 Medium Sweet Potatoes, Chopped, but large chunks
  • 2 Leg/Thigh Quarters From a Rotisserie Chicken, meat removed and chopped into large chunks
  • 4 TBS Jerk Spice mix
Cooking Directions
  1. Fire up the Crock Pot. I was doing an 8 hour cook session, so I set the machine on Low. If I was doing a 4 hour cook, I would set on High.
  2. Add the Chicken Stock, Beer and Vinegar.
  3. Meanwhile, Over medium high heat, in a heavy skillet, melt the butter.
  4. Add the Onion chunks and saute for 5 minutes, until the onion has softened and become translucent.
  5. After 5 minutes, add the garlic and saute another minute.
  6. Add the Flour to the butter/onion mixture to make a thickening roux. Stir continuously for 3 minutes.
  7. Transfer the onion/roux to the crock pot liquid, stir.
  8. Add the Carrots and Celery and stir.
  9. Add the sweet potatoes and stir.
  10. Cover and leave for 8 hours.
  11. 1 Hour before serving, remove the chicken meat from the bones, dice into chunks and roll the chicken through the jerk spices to coat.
  12. Add this to the crock pot, stir. Cover and allow to simmer for another hour.
  13. Serve HOT and Enjoy!
I used the white meat to make my favorite Chicken Salad to serve as a wrap sandwich to go with the stew...

My favorite Chicken Salad

Recipe by Dave Scott

Prep time: 10 Minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 Cups Diced Rotisserie Chicken
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Sweet Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Grapes (same size as onion)
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Granny Smith Apple (same size as onion)
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Sweet Gherkin Pickles (same size as onion)
  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 TSP Minced Cilantro
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix well and serve!
Makes a GREAT sandwich or wrap!

What could be easier and tastier?

*************************************************************************

So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Recipes for Soup, Chili or Chowder" (Now more than 52 and still growing)

Soup from Scratch is one of the great kitchen joys.  The house smells amazing and the soup warms to the bone.  From broth to chowder, vegetarian to loaded up chili... Even a great idea for a party (love the Potato Soup Bar idea).  Come take a look, sure to have something you might like to try.  All recipes have been tested and WORK!
*************************************************************************

So, I am pleased to add this as one of my growing list of "52 Uses For a Rotisserie Chicken"  (Now close to 100!)

MUCH more than a chicken sandwich.  From Scratch Pizza to Chinese Take Out recipes, Lots of Soups and Chili... Appetizers to Main Courses (Still can't find a dessert, but I am looking).  More than enough ideas for that store bought bird to shine with just a little extra work.  All recipes have been tested and WORK!


*************************************************************************

So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of "52 Ways to Cook SLOW COOKER-CROCK POT Easy Recipes"!!!

From meat dishes (Like an AMAZING Root Beer Pulled Pork that will feed a small army), to kitchen staples (FREE Gallon of Chicken Stock anyone?) to a slew of Soup and Stew recipes, these are the dishes that will change the way you cook.  Start in the morning, set and forget and dinner is on the table... Easy Peasy indeed!!!

****************************PINTEREST**************************

Come and find me on Pinterest... Any of my "52 Ways to cook" Boards are worth following.  If you like this post, please take a second and "Pin" this to your own boards... Better yet, if you are part of a foodie group board please take a second and add this post to your group pins... best way to show your Love!

And BTW, if you are not yet part of a group board, drop me an email at Contact@eRecipeCards.com and request to be added to my group board... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! (be sure to include your pinterest ID when you write)  Once you are added, any pins you add will be seen by 10s of THOUSANDS of followers of the board (and growing daily).

Rules, only 2... 
  1. In order to join you need to start following the group board as well as at least one of my boards.
  2. And you must ONLY pin original sources, posts from food related bloggers only.  If you are a blogger, this is a great way to have thousands of potential readers see your work,  If you are a fan of bloggers, a great way to share your favorites...
    Come and be a part of ... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! on Pinterest

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cheesy Kale Puff Pastry Pinwheels


An Appetizer...

A Snack...

A Sandwich (works great as a Soup and Sandwich Partner)...

Eat a bunch, it's a lunch!

And it really is about as easy as it gets.  Puff pastry, cheese, a few Walnuts and a quicky creamed spinach and you have a nice little Appetizer/Snack/Sandwich/Lunch/Soup partner!


Here's what I did...


Cheesy Kale Puff Pastry Pinwheels


Ingredients
  • 1 bunch Kale, Minced no bigger than dime size, hard center rib removed
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 2 TBS Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1/4 Cup small Walnut pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Smoked Gruyere Cheese, grated (save a bit to sprinkle on the top of each pinwheel)
  • 1 Sheet Puff Pastry
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Heat a medium size frying pan over high heat. Add the oil and Kale. Saute until the kale has wilted completely, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cream and stir to mix. Add the walnuts, and both cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  5. Place the sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a roughly 12x12-inch square, lifting and turning as you go to ensure it's not sticking. Then spread the Kale/cheese mixture in an even layer.
  6. Roll the puff pastry like a jelly roll and pinch to seal at the seam. Cut the roll into approximately 20 1/2-inch slices and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Sprinkle a bit of the grated Gruyere cheese on the top of each
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the pinwheels are golden brown.

I like a good soup as much (maybe more) than the next guy.  But i also like to have a little something extra (sandwich) to go along with the soup.

Like these!  Cheesy, nutty, the illusion of health with the kale superfood (ignore all the cheese and cream, it's healthy!  But, of course, best of all is the taste.  Earthy walnut and kale taste, Nutty cheese from the Parmesan, the smoked flavor added to the gruyere, the buttery flaky texture of the puff pastry and you have a real treat.

Perfect as...


An Appetizer...

A Snack...

A Sandwich (works great as a Soup and Sandwich Partner)...

Eat a bunch, it's a lunch!

And it really is about as easy as it gets.  Puff pastry, cheese, a few Walnuts and a quicky creamed spinach and you have a nice little Appetizer/Snack/Sandwich/Lunch/Soup partner!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Zuppa Toscana... Tuscan Soup Better than the Olive Garden Version - 53 Crock Pot Easy Recipes


One of the great mysteries in my life... Why are there always LONG lines waiting for tables at the Olive Garden Restaurants?

Ah well, at the least the place does provide inspiration for serving up something special.  And this soup is special, instantly became one of my very favorites.  This is an Italian Sausage based Potato soup, LOADED up with so much, it might qualify as a stew.  And shredded up bits of Kale added at the end of the cook provides vibrant colors for a beautiful presentation while adding a hearty healthy "Superfood" to the pot!


I saw this soup posted on the "Jamie Cooks it Up" Blog (click the blue letters to see her version... probably a little more authentic to the Olive Garden version).  I did a little Internet search and found several slightly different versions.

But primarily, as I said, this is a Sausage soup... So be sure to get some top quality Italian seasoned sausage.  Thin sliced potatoes add bulk and the base is chicken stock, thickened with cream.

i am not sure where the line is drawn between a soup and a stew.  Usually in a stew the thin sliced potatoes would be chunkier and the sausage would be sliced thicker with a casing.  So I will not try to say STEW, but I made a big change in all of the copy cat recipes of the Olive Garden soup and cut the liquid in half.

Personal tastes and all that... I was in the mood for a hearty filling stew like soup.  If the word wasn't taken, I would call it a stoop... Half Stew, Half Soup...

I also adapted to make this in a crock pot, although there is a bit of slicing and dicing cooking that takes place in the last 10 minutes before it is ready to serve.  One more big addition to my adaptation is a quarter cup of shredded Parmesan Reggiano Cheese.

But I digress....


Here's what I did...


Zuppa Toscana... Tuscan Soup


Ingredients
  • 1 Pound Italian Sausage
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion, Diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 TBS Flour
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 4 Small Russet Potatoes, Sliced thin
  • 2 Cups Kale, Remove the hard center rib, Chopped small pieces with a few large to fish out for a garnish on the top as you serve a bowl
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Reggiano Cheese
  • 4 stalks Green onions, sliced, white and green parts for garnish
  • 4 Slices Thick Cut Bacon, diced for garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Set your Crock Pot on Low for an 8-10 hour cook time, High for a 4-5 hour cook time.
  2. In a large frying pan, brown but do not over cook a pound of Italian Sausage, combined with the Red Pepper Flakes. All you want to do is render out the fat. The sausage will cook all day, so do not cook until well done.
  3. Remove the sausage from the pan and add the onion to the HOT pork fat rendered from the sausage. Saute until the onions are soft and are turning translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and saute for one more minute.  Add the Flour to make a thickening roux.  Stir continuously for 5 minutes.
  5. Move the sausage, Onion mixture to the crock pot. Add the Chicken stock and Heavy Cream and stir to mix.
  6. Add the Potatoes, stir to mix and cover and heat for 4 hours (on high) or 8 hours (on low).
  7. One hour before you are to serve, Chop the kale and add to the crock pot, just on top, do not mix. This will wilt and steam the kale, retaining it's bite! Recover
  8. 10 minutes before serving, add the cheese and now stir to combine everything. Heat until the cheese has melted.
  9. Serve up a big heaping hearty bowl. garnish with Bacon and Green Onions...
  10. Serve HOT and ENJOY!
This is a DELICIOUS, very filling soup.

Love all of the colors and the heartiness of the mix

Come back tomorrow and I will tell you of the little sandwiches I served with this (Kale and cheese Pinwheels) that were very easy and paired perfectly!

*************************************************************************

So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Recipes for Soup, Chili or Chowder" (Now more than 52 and still growing)

Soup from Scratch is one of the great kitchen joys.  The house smells amazing and the soup warms to the bone.  From broth to chowder, vegetarian to loaded up chili... Even a great idea for a party (love the Potato Soup Bar idea).  Come take a look, sure to have something you might like to try.  All recipes have been tested and WORK!

*************************************************************************

So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Authentic Italian Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop. The world's most popular cuisine, authentic, natural, organic, Farm to Table... the Italians started, perfected or embraced it before it became a fad. This page is a guide to Italian Cooking... For the home cook!  So, Cin Cin (toast) and Buon Appetito (Enjoy your Meal) to you all and let's Cook authentic Italian!

*************************************************************************

So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of "52 Ways to Cook SLOW COOKER-CROCK POT Easy Recipes"!!!

From meat dishes (Like an AMAZING Root Beer Pulled Pork that will feed a small army), to kitchen staples (FREE Gallon of Chicken Stock anyone?) to a slew of Soup and Stew recipes, these are the dishes that will change the way you cook.  Start in the morning, set and forget and dinner is on the table... Easy Peasy indeed!!!

****************************PINTEREST**************************

Come and find me on Pinterest... Any of my "52 Ways to cook" Boards are worth following.  If you like this post, please take a second and "Pin" this to your own boards... Better yet, if you are part of a foodie group board please take a second and add this post to your group pins... best way to show your Love!

And BTW, if you are not yet part of a group board, drop me an email at Contact@eRecipeCards.com and request to be added to my group board... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! (be sure to include your pinterest ID when you write)  Once you are added, any pins you add will be seen by 10s of THOUSANDS of followers of the board (and growing daily).

Rules, only 2... 
  1. In order to join you need to start following the group board as well as at least one of my boards.
  2. And you must ONLY pin original sources, posts from food related bloggers only.  If you are a blogger, this is a great way to have thousands of potential readers see your work,  If you are a fan of bloggers, a great way to share your favorites...
    Come and be a part of ... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! on Pinterest

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bloomin' Toasted Cheese and Rotisserie Chicken -Single Serve


I have seen versions of this idea floating around Pinterest for awhile now.

This is probably a technique as opposed to a recipe as just about any type of sandwich or bread dip can be adapted to this idea.

Most recently I saw this on the exPress O Blog (a Little Bit of Everything).  Diana's blog is indeed, as advertised, a little bit of everything, crafts, home styles and RECIPES... like this one.

If you follow the link (Blue Letters, or click on the photo to the right, it links to her blog post), you will see her Bloomin Gooey Cheese Bread, as well as links to other bloggers with different takes on this idea...  Like a mushroom or different style onion loaf.

The actual idea for this uses a loaf of store bought bread (NOT sliced).  It is a LARGE loaf appetizer, designed to be a pull apart bread for something social (like a party!  I think that is a great party idea and I certainly have it filed away for the future.

BUT, I was after something a little different.

I wanted something new for a serving of Soup and Sandwich...

Just last night I had made a really good Zuppa Tuscana (a sort of potato and Italian Sausage soup...I'll do that recipe tomorrow).  I made a pinwheel sandwich for that (probably will do that recipe the day after).

I had a BIG bowl of leftover soup (that was better the second day), but did not make extra pinwheels.

SO, I decided a much smaller version of Diana's party appetizer would look dramatic and work well with this soup that needed no dipping bread.  Just a sandwich to pair with the soup (almost a stew, but we will talk about that tomorrow).

So, I baked up a batch of my favorite buns.

One LARGE bun that I will be slicing into sandwich worthy bread (oh boy, chicken salad for lunch!).

A couple of Buns for an egg and onion sandwich.

And a couple to make this EASY and SPECTACULAR and yummy sandwich.

Kind of a combination of a chicken and cheese sandwich and one of those pretty Bloomin Onions from Outback Steakhouse.

Here's what I did...

And it's all in the technique, so photo essay to follow...

First, I removed a breast from a store bought, Fully Cooked, Fully Seasoned Rotisserie Chicken.  then I sliced it as thin as possible.  Sharp knife is a must, or use a bread knife.


Next I took my fresh made hamburger bun.  I try to make all of my own bread, but there is no reason this would not work for a store bought bun.  Again, with that SHARP knife I started making slices about 3/4 of an inch apart, both up and down and side to side...

Be careful to only slice within a half inch of the bottom... DO NOT SLICE ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE BUN


Next I started stuffing...

I had the Chicken
I also had some shredded Smoked Gruyere Cheese that worked AMAZING!
I also poured 2 TBS of melted Butter in between the spreading bread cubes.

Wrap this in aluminum foil and bake sealed for 20 minutes (350 preheated oven).

After 20 minutes, open the foil and return to the oven for 10 minutes more so the bread toasts.


This worked GREAT!  Of course the taste was terrific... Chicken, and smokey cheese makes a terrific toasted cheese sandwich.  It was small enough to serve as a sandwich and just take bites from.


Or, as Diana did in her post, works great as a pull apart grab and snack dish.

Now I am thinking this with a nice Tomato Soup so I can toss the pieces in as chicken and cheese croutons. Now that sounds good!
So, here it is. One of my new all time favorite sandwich displays!  FILLED with flavors, and just plain DELICIOUS!

It really does all come together quickly... The first one took a few minutes to figure out, but the second took only a couple of minutes to assemble   the rest is all oven work.  . Even easier if you use one of my beloved Store Bought, Pre-cooked, Pre-seasoned Rotisserie Chicken.

******************************************************

This recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Uses For a Rotisserie Chicken"  (Now close to 100!)...I am so confused... $5.49 for a fully cooked, fully seasoned Oven Roasted, Rotisserie Chicken. Yet shop in the raw meat department and most raw chickens are at best $8 each and usually far closer to $10. Anyone have an answer??? Me either. So, I can either rail against the machine, or learn to embrace the beauty that is the $5 chicken! In this pin are recipes I have made, and recommend. MORE than 52 (I just can't stop)..
You get the idea.  From Scratch Pizza to Chinese Take Out recipes, Lots of Soups and Chili... Appetizers to Main Courses (Still can't find a dessert, but I am looking).  More than enough ideas for that store nought bird to shine with just a little extra work

*************************************************************************

So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Appetizers Recipes"!!!

From Dips and Salsas to everyone's favorite, Deviled Eggs; Appetizers will set the mood for something special. And make enough different ones and you have a Tapas Meal!

Links include Dips (Take a Look at the WORLD's BEST Guacamole recipe (and world's easiest to make), Salsas, Grilled Bites, Watermelon Art, and of course something with a spectacular presentation and taste... Take a look, something to match any occasion...

****************************PINTEREST**************************

Come and find me on Pinterest... Any of my "52 Ways to cook" Boards are worth following.  If you like this post, please take a second and "Pin" this to your own boards... Better yet, if you are part of a foodie group board please take a second and add this post to your group pins... best way to show your Love!

And BTW, if you are not yet part of a group board, drop me an email at Contact@eRecipeCards.com and request to be added to my group board... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! (be sure to include your pinterest ID when you write)  Once you are added, any pins you add will be seen by 10s of THOUSANDS of followers of the board (and growing daily).

Rules, only 2... 


  • In order to join you need to start following the group board as well as at least one of my boards.

  • And you must ONLY pin original sources, posts from food related bloggers only.  If you are a blogger, this is a great way to have thousands of potential readers see your work,  If you are a fan of bloggers, a great way to share your favorites...
    Come and be a part of ... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! on Pinterest
  • Monday, November 26, 2012

    Rotisserie Chicken Ranch Pasta Dinner - 10 MINUTES



    Here's a nice little snappy alternative to the more common pasta and red sauce.

    Best of all, this literally is finished in about 10 minutes... Just as long as it takes to prepare the pasta.  And of course, made extra fast with the use of a Rotisserie Chicken.  I have three pots used in the recipe, but if you are not in as much of a hurry, this can easily be a one pot meal.


    OK, Here's what I did...

     Rotisserie Chicken Ranch Pasta Dinner



    Ingredients
    • 1 Box Mafalde Pasta (about any dry pasta shape will work. The ones that have lots of ridges hold the cheese sauce better)
    • 1 TBS Butter
    • 1 TBS Flour
    • 1 Package dry Ranch dressing seasoning mix
    • 2 Cups Half and Half
    • 1 Cup Shredded Swiss Cheese (any good melting cheese will work, I like the taste of the Swiss mixed with the ranch flavors)
    • 2 Cups Meat from a Rotisserie chicken (I used a Leg/thigh Quarter and got plenty of meat)
    • 4 Slices Bacon, Chopped for Garnish
    Cooking Directions
    1. Cook the Pasta according to the directions on the box. I always cook for one minute less than suggested for a nice al dente texture.
    2. While that is cooking, Fry the bacon.
    3. While that is frying, in a medium/large pot, heat the butter over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir for one minute.
    4. Slowly add the Half and Half, and stir until heated.
    5. Add the cheese... Again, Stir until melted.
    6. Add the Dressing mix, and continue to stir.
    7. By now, the pasta should be done, drain and add to the sauce.
    8. Add the chicken, stir to combine!
    9. Garnish with the bacon...
    10. Serve HOT and ENJOY!

    ******************************************************

    This recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Uses For a Rotisserie Chicken"  (Now close to 100!)...I am so confused... $5.49 for a fully cooked, fully seasoned Oven Roasted, Rotisserie Chicken. Yet shop in the raw meat department and most raw chickens are at best $8 each and usually far closer to $10. Anyone have an answer??? Me either. So, I can either rail against the machine, or learn to embrace the beauty that is the $5 chicken! In this pin are recipes I have made, and recommend. MORE than 52 (I just can't stop)..
    You get the idea.  From Scratch Pizza to Chinese Take Out recipes, Lots of Soups and Chili... Appetizers to Main Courses (Still can't find a dessert, but I am looking).  More than enough ideas for that store nought bird to shine with just a little extra work

    ***********************PINTEREST*********************

    Come and find me on Pinterest... Any of my "52 Ways to cook" Boards are worth following.  If you like this post, please take a second and "Pin" this to your own boards... Better yet, if you are part of a foodie group board please take a second and add this post to your group pins... best way to show your Love!

    And BTW, if you are not yet part of a group board, drop me an email at Contact@eRecipeCards.com and request to be added to my group board... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! (be sure to include your pinterest ID when you write)  Once you are added, any pins you add will be seen by 10s of THOUSANDS of followers of the board (and growing daily).

    Rules, only 2... 
    1. In order to join you need to start following the group board as well as at least one of my boards.
    2. And you must ONLY pin original sources, posts from food related bloggers only.  If you are a blogger, this is a great way to have thousands of potential readers see your work,  If you are a fan of bloggers, a great way to share your favorites...
      Come and be a part of ... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! on Pinterest

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    REALLY ROCKY Rocky Road Brownies with Chipotle Chile Pepper Spice (just a tiny bit)



    Extra Fudgie, Extra Gooey, toasted pecans and beautiful slightly toasted marshmallows and the colored rock chocolate chips make a fun presentation and an amazing tasty brownie.


    Oh! NutsHow about those fancy pretty colored rocks that are actually Chocolate Chips... OK, here's that fair use and warning the good folks of the US Gov't have asked (ordered) bloggers to do.  I got the nuts FREE!!!  BWAHAHAHA FREE I SAY!  Yeap, the truly very good folks at the OH NUTS company contacted me and offered a few pounds of their nuts.  And Oh Boy, did OH NUTS ever come through for me.  I spent a few minutes navigating around their mail order site.  It was very easy to follow and amazing in the amount of products they carry.  Not just nuts (including the very rare unsalted cashews that didn't last long enough in my pantry to make it to any recipes.  Talk about good eats!), anyway, not just nuts, but dried fruits, chocolates, granola, candy and even specialty ice cream.  Take a minute and look over their site.  Very reasonable prices, easy to navigate site and a tremendous selection of bulk and gift items.


    And the keep these little gems in stock!


    Sure, you can get the taste by following the recipe with "normal" boring chocolate chips at the end instead of chocolate rocks...  But come on, how can you resist serving ROCKY Rocky Road Brownies???   Look at em!  They have real (looking) rocks in the rocky road!


    I measure the success of a dessert two ways... First, would kids eat em.  Of course they would!


    Second, from my youth and the competitive world of Baptist Church basement potluck dinners, who can bring a dish that goes home empty is always remembered.  Although, truth to be told, whoever takes a dish home that is barely touched is not only remembered, but discussed, not always in a Christian manor... but I digress.


    If you pop a plate of these bad boys down in front of the congregation, along side the other 10 plates of brownies and these are gone first.  You can rule the church basement with these...


    Here's what I did...


    1 cup semi-sweet Chocolate chips
    2 sticks Butter
    1 cup light brown Sugar
    1/2 cup granulated Sugar
    2 tsp Vanilla
    2 tsp instant Coffee crystals
    3 large Eggs
    1 1/4 cup unsweetned Cocoa Powder
    1 tsp Baking Powder
    Double Pinch of Salt

    1/4 tsp (yes, only 1/4) Chipotle Chile Pepper Spice


    1/2 cup Mini Marshmallows (or large MM cut into 8 pieces to make 1/2 cup)
    1/2 cup Pecans

    1/2 cup Rocky Chocolate Chips
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    • Melt 4 tablespoons Butter and all the Chocolate Chips in microwave using 15 second bursts, stir in between zaps
    • In your Kitchenaid, mix, cream the remaining butter with the two sugars.  Add the Vanilla, coffee, eggs, chipotle powder and the cooled melted butter/chocolate mix.
    • After all the wet ingredients are combined, slowly add the flour and cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
    • Spread the batter in a 9X9 greased baking dish.
    • Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick can be inserted and removed without anything sticking.
    • Add the toppings
    • Return to the oven for 5 minutes, until the marshmallows begin to toast!
    Allow to cool completely before cutting.

    First note, I always undercook my brownies.  I only cooked mine for 30 minutes, but I like eating mine with a fork. They come out more fudgie than cakey.

    Second, two ingredients you might be surprised about... Coffee in your brownies is a WONDERFUL thing.  Just a bit, especially the instant, will make the chocolate more pronounced.  Really, it works!

    But the surprise may be the chipotle powder in the mix.  Competitive chili cookers have known for years that to add a bit of chocolate to the chili gives it just enough of a hint of ... something to make yours stand out.  Same with chipotle powder spice in your chocolate.  Just a tiny amount, just enough to make yours stand out and that extra little tang at the end.  Trust me, NO ONE will think your brownies taste like peppers, but there will be that hint of something extra!

    Holidays are coming.  Presentation desserts are coming.  Consider looking over the OH NUTS company website and seeing if there is anything fun that gives you an idea.


    ...

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

    Kefta - a Meatball Tajine with Tomato and Eggs



    Show of hands... Who knows what a Tagine (or Tajine) is???




    Here's a hint... more than a dish... more than a dish (the hint is I named it twice).


    Anyone... Anyone... Katie, not you... Anyone else???


    Me either.  Until a couple days ago, when Katie from Thyme for Cooking, the Blog posted a version of this recipe.  Katie has a wonderful blog.  She is a transplanted American, living in France and restoring a French Country home.  Updates on the progress of the restoration, difficulties or challenges (depends on the perspective) of shopping in a different culture, but also wonderful "real" food recipes.  It is always a treat to stop in and visit.


    And last week was no exception. Katie posted this recipe (well, a version of it) for a Tagine, cooked in a Tagine.  That's right, a tagine is a recipe, as well as a name for dish that the recipe is made in.


    Katie has a beautiful Moroccan Tagine... I have the Kansas version... Corningware...




    And who knew?  I had this dish in my basement.  Bought at a garage sale for a dollar.  I bought it for it's presentation possibilities.  Maybe roast a chicken in it.  I can carry a half dozen cupcakes to the neighbors in it.  I had no idea it has a rich history.  Dating back centuries, an authentic North African (Morocco, Algeris, think Rick's Cafe in Casablanca) tagine (or tajine) is a heavy clay glazed cooking vessel.  It consists of two parts: a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides, and a large cone or dome-shaped cover that rests inside the base during cooking. The cover is so designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. With the cover removed, the base can be taken to the table for serving.


    More importantly for me, this dish is also especially useful for low and slow cooking.  Designed to retain all moisture, it is perfect for oven or stove top cooking of less expensive cuts of meat.  You'll be seeing lots more of my Tajine in the future!


    As to this recipe, a little research found that it is called a KEFTA.  A spiced meatball recipe, served with cooked tomatoes and eggs poached in the juices from the dish.  My version is true to the spirit, true to the look, but I used spices I had in my pantry, so the spices were more Cajun than Moroccan.


    Katie cooks with milder spices than I do.  If you want to see her version, her adaptation for the cookbook, "The Food of Morocco", click HERE.  My meatballs are quite a bit different from hers.  Also, I decided to brown my meatballs instead of cooking them 100% in the Tajine.  I wanted to get some of the rendered fat from the meat out before adding to the stew.  I also added 2 cups of my marinara sauce (I made several batches back when tomatoes where in season and froze them in 2 cup bags).  This is one of those 30 minute meals.  For just a second, I pondered serving this over a pasta, turning Moroccan into Italian.  But, decided against that.  It's my first time, decided to be as gentle as possible to the spirit of the dish.


    Here's what I did...


    For the meatballs...


    1 lb Ground Beef
    2 Eggs
    1 cup diced sweet Onion
    2 TBS "Big Easy in a Jar" (my Cajun Spice mix, a commercial brand can be substituted)
    4 TBS fresh chopped Parsley
    1/4 cup Bread Crumbs


    Mix well and form into meatballs @the size of golf balls.


    For the Tomatoes and Sauce...


    2 cups Marinara Sauce
    1 can Tex-Mex spiced diced Tomatoes (@14 oz)
    1 TBS Sugar
    1 TBS Cinnamon
    2 TBS "Big Easy in a Jar" (my Cajun Spice mix, a commercial brand can be substituted)
    1 Sweet Onion, medium dice
    1 TBS Olive Oil


    For the Eggs...


    4 Eggs
    Fresh ground Pepper to taste


    Spice Mixes I Love!Here's my usual note about my spice mixes.  I make up a batch of 3 favorites every couple of months.  If there is one hint I can pass on to others, it would be to make your own spice mixes.  Mine are all low salt (I am old and fat, I don't need the salt.  But those of you that are young and spry, you don;t need as much salt as you are ingesting).  But, equally important, the fresh spices taste so much richer than the dated little jars in your drawer.  Making them in bulk means they are always around, perfect to add to a cooked egg, season some bread or just to goose up a hamburger.  Of course, commercial brands are available and easily substituted in this recipe, but do look at the salt content in those.  If salt is the number one ingredient... run from em.


    If you want to see the formulas I use, click the photo of the spices.


    OK, off my soap box and back to the stove...


    To cook...

    • Add the oil to the Tajine.
    • Heat over medium flame (or burner unit if you are cursed (as I am( with an electric oven)
    • Add the Onion and cook until tender
    • Add the tomatoes, marinara sauce and spices
    • Simmer covered for 15 minutes
    • While that is simmering, Mix and form the meatballs.  Brown them and then add to the Tomatoes and sauce
    • Space them evenly in the tajine and again cover and simmer for 10 minutes to finish cooking the meat
    • Move the meatballs around to form 4 pockets of sauce.  I had so many meatballs I needed to stack them.
    • Drop an egg in each spot, cover and allow them to poach in the sauce.  Takes about 5 minutes
    • Pepper to taste
    Spoon onto a plate with a nice helping of the tomatoes, a couple of the eggs and 3 or 4 meatballs!











    Thanks Katie... I now LOVE my Tajine too!
    ...

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