Saturday, November 22, 2014

Slow Cooker Bell Pepper and Tortellini Soup

We’re getting to that fabulous point of fall when it’s finally cool enough out for oodles and oodles of soup.  I love Soup.  I’ll pretty much try any kind.  This combination of veggies and tortellini makes great lunches for my husband and I to take to work with us.  You can also add some Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes to spice it up if you’re feeling adventurous.   

Bell Pepper and Tortellini Soup

2 servings
5 minutes to prep
12 minutes to cook
·       1 ½ Cups Diced Yellow Bell Peppers
·       1 Cup Diced Onion
·       2 ½ Cups Frozen or Dried Tortellini
·       2/3 Cup Celery
·       1 Can of Northern Beans
·       4 Cups of Chicken Broth
·       3 Cloves Garlic Diced
·       1 ½ Cup Butternut Squash
·       1 tsp. Salt
·       4 Tsp. Parmesan Cheese 

Ready Slow Cooker, set heat to high.  Add onion, bell peppers, celery, beans, chicken broth, garlic, salt, and butternut squash.  

Cook on High for 4 hours.  Then add tortellini and cook for an additional half hour.

Serve with a sprinkle of the Parmesan Cheese on top.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Football Finger Foods!

It’s my husband’s favorite time of year.  No not fall or Thanksgiving... Football season.  That heart-breaking season for Philadelphia residents, where they get their hopes up at the beginning and begin to denounce players and coaches by week 12.  Every year I get to hear the cheering or screaming and look for new food to make.  This year I figure I’d try to share some of the food, which keeps me from going crazy this time of year.

The first recipe works with the Empanada dough I blogged about last spring.  This is an easy recipe that does take time to make, but you can either freeze the uncooked empanadas or serve all 20 or so of them.  I baked half and popped half in the freezer for next week’s Monday Night Football.  This is also an awesome way to use up leftover chicken.  

Chicken and Mushroom Empanadas

10 servings (2 empanadas a serving)
30 min to prep
20-25 minutes to bake

·       1 batch of Empanada Dough
·       2 cups of Mushrooms
·       2 Chicken Breasts (cooked)
·       ½ package of Taco Seasoning
·       1 cup of Mozzarella Cheese
·       2 Tsp. of Olive Oil
·       1 Egg

The Empanada dough should be resting in your refrigerator for an hour or two when you pull it out.  Begin to sauté the mushrooms in olive oil in a pan on the stovetop. Brown the mushrooms on both sides.  Don’t crowd them; spread them out over an even surface to brown.  They won’t brown if crowded.  

In a bowl add chicken, seasoning, cheese, and mushrooms together and mix.  Take out two cookie sheets and add a sheet of parchment paper to each.  Roll out small balls of Empanada dough; it should be about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.  There should be enough dough for twenty of them or so.  Take a rolling pin and roll out each dough ball and fill with a couple of Tsp. of filling.  Pinch the sides closed and add pastry to the cookie sheet.  After each pastry has been completed you have two options, to freeze them for later or to cook them all now.  I did half and half. To freeze them, simply put cookie sheet into freezer for 10 minutes or so.  Pull out and them pop pastries into a freezer bag, label and store for up to 3 months.

Or pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and break an egg into a small bowl and beat to create an egg wash.  With a small brush coat each pastry with egg wash.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned on top.

Wings are a main staple in almost any household during football season.  I’m told I don’t make them quite right because I prefer barbecue sauce to hot sauce.  However, this combination of a dry rub with barbecue sauce was incredibly good.  Let me know what your favorite wing flavor is in the comments.

Barbecue Chicken Wings

5 servings
10-15 minutes to prep
25-30 minutes to cook
·       10 Whole Wings
·       1 Cup BBQ Sauce (divided)
·       ½ tsp. Mustard Seed
·       ¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
·       ½ tsp. pepper
·       1 tsp. salt
·       1 tsp. Garlic powder
·       1 tsp. Paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Ready a cookie sheet.  I like to put foil down on mine.
Mix mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and paprika in a bowl.  

In a separate bowl add chicken wings.  Sprinkle spices on top or wings and mix thoroughly.  

Spread the wings out on the cookie sheet.  Spread ½ cup of barbecue sauce with a small brush evenly over the wings.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until brown on top and crispy on the edges.

After taking them out of the oven, evenly coat remaining ½ cup of barbecue sauce over the wings.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Spicy Honey Pork Tenderloin

Second post for this crazy week.  I work crazy hours because of my job.  This also only allows me to really have a sit down meal with my husband 2-3 times a week.  We always try to have a sit down meal with no screens and talk about our day or the last couple of days.  My husband Tom is a carnivore and enjoys dinners with meat more than vegetarian fare.  So I debuted this recipe to suit his tastes and it was a home run.   This is an easy recipe that he likes and can easily replicate when I’m not home to cook.   

Spicy Honey Pork Tenderloin

4 servings
2-3 hours to marinade
30 minutes to cook
·       1-2 lbs. Pork Tenderloin
·       2 Tsp. Honey
·       ¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
·       ¼ tsp. Pepper
·       ½ tsp. Salt
·       2 tsp. Garlic Powder
·       3 Tsp. Olive Oil

Mix honey, cayenne, pepper, salt, oil, and garlic powder in a small bowl.  

Ready pork in a plastic bag and add marinade.  Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 2-3 Hours.  

Preheat oven to 375 degree.  Put pork on a glass dish and roast for 25-30 minutes.  Until fat is crispy on top and edges are brown.  

Serve with a small salad or roasted veggies.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jewish Apple Cake

Last week was an insanely busy week involving sports photography, pouring rain, cold winds, and long hours.  Since I have more time and energy this week, I decided to post two entries.  Today, the first is a fabulous dessert that will warm anyone up this time of year.
This is hands down my favorite dessert of all time.  I remember being a small child and eating this at my Grandparents’ home.  My Oma would make this cake for special occasions or just for family get  togethers.  It’s so unbelievably good that it can work with almost any kind of meal or coffee break. 
Jewish Apple Cake is a dense moist cake filled with cinnamon and apples.  I was surprised to learn it’s called Jewish, not because of any kind of religious affiliation, but rather because it contains no dairy.  I could not find a Bundt pan in my home so instead made it with two smaller 5 by 9 inch pans.  I may now have to invest in a Bundt pan because of out delicious it turned out. It turned out to be so delicious that I'm definitely making it again this week.

Jewish Apple Cake

2 loaves
20 min Prep time
65 minutes to cook
·       3 Cups of Flour
·       2 Cups and 4 Tsp. of Granulated Sugar (divided)
·       4-5 Apples
·       3 tsp. Baking Powder
·       4 Eggs
·       1tsp. Salt
·       2 tsp. Cinnamon
·       1 Cup Vegetable Oil
·       ½ Cup Orange Juice
·       1Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease both 5 by 9 pans and set aside.  Peel, core, and thinly slice apples, then toss with cinnamon and 4 Tsp. of sugar.  

Mix flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Then mix all wet ingredients in another bowl.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, incorporating a cup or so at a time. Mix thoroughly until smooth.  

Pour a layer of batter in each of the 5 by 9 pans.  Add a layer of apples on top.  Then top off with more batter and top with the remaining apples. 

Bake for 60-65 minutes.

Or you can wait until it's browned on top.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Baked Salmon with Roasted Bok Choy

Salmon is a versatile and flavorful super-food that has gotten a lot of hype in the last few years.   It’s a great food that’s beneficial to a number of health concerns and provides a whopping 40 grams of protein per 4 oz. I love salmon, but I was a bit apprehensive to try making it a home.  This is an easy recipe to try out salmon for the first time at home.  I also added the Bok Choy to this for the added crunch and freshness for the dish. 

Brown Sugar and Garlic Baked Salmon

2 servings
5 minutes to prep
12 minutes to cook
·       6-8 oz. Salmon
·       2 Tsp. Brown Sugar
·       1 Tsp. Olive Oil
·       3 Garlic Cloves (crushed)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Ready a small baking dish.  Mix together the brown sugar, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl and mix together.  

Spread mixture evenly on top of the salmon.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or so.  Until the brown sugar bubbles up and the edges are crispy.  

Serve with veggies.

Roasted Bok Choy

2 servings
5 minutes to prep
6-8 minutes to cook
·       1 Head of Bok Choy
·       3 Tsp. Vegetable Oil
·       1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
·       2 tsp. Soy Sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together oil, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce.  

Ready a large baking dish.  Wash and cut Bok Choy off of stem, then evenly arrange in baking dish.  Use a brush and brush mixture evenly over the Boy Choy.  Making sure to get both the stems and leaves.  

Roast in the oven for 6-8 minutes until leaves are just starting to crisp along edges.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Finally we’re getting into fall. Cool weather, pumpkin flavored everything, sweaters, bon fires, and excellent fall veggies.  One of these veggies is Squash, which I am ridiculously in love with.  Squash is a wonderfully versatile vegetable that can be used at a main, side, or soup course.  Since I received a 3 lbs. Butternut Squash in our CSA delivery, I elected to try out soup with it.  

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

6 servings
10-15 minutes to prep
60 minutes to cook
·       1 Large Onion
·       1 Large 2-3 Lbs. Butternut Squash
·       3 Cloves of Garlic
·       4 Tsp. Olive Oil (divided)
·       1 Cup of Milk (you can substitute heavy cream)
·       3 Tsp. Maple Syrup
·       2 Tsp. Sea Salt
·       2 Cups of Chicken Broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Ready a large baking dish.  Chop Butternut Squash in half and scoop out seeds. Drizzle 2 Tsp. Olive Oil and the Maple Syrup on top.  Then sprinkle Sea Salt over each piece evenly and roast for 45-60 minutes.

After 30 minutes or so, begin to sauté onions in a Dutch Oven with remaining Olive Oil. Caramelize onions for 15-20 minutes.  Chop Garlic and add to the onions for the last 3-5 minutes to brown  When Squash is super tender, scoop out of shells and add to pot with onions.  

Add Milk and Chicken broth to mixture and puree.  

You may need to reheat it for another 5-10 minutes on the stovetop so it’s piping hot to serve.
Easy to serve with biscuits.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Braised Pork

Let’s talk about braising.  This may be my favorite way to cook meat.  Low and slow for a tender flavorful taste with each bite. You can easily accomplish braising in a slow cooker but I wanted to try it out in the oven.  I was surprised and excited by the deep flavor and the ease of cooking it this way.  You can create a large amount of food for a dinner party or a tailgate party with this.  
To braise, set your oven on a lower temperature, such as 300 degrees. Add liquid to the meat to slow cook.  Cover the dish with foil and leave it alone until fork tender.  Typically tougher meats, such as chuck roast or pork shoulder are excellent for braising. 

Braised Pork

10 servings
30 minutes to prep
90 -120 minutes to cook
·       1 Vidalia Onion
·       2-3 lbs. of Pork Shoulder
·       2 Cups of Cherry Tomatoes
·       1 tsp. Paprika
·       1 Tsp. Garlic powder
·       1 tsp. salt
·       1 tsp. pepper
·       2/3 Cup Flour
·       2 Tsp. Olive Oil
·       2 Cups of Water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Ready a large baking dish.  Chop up onion and spread on the bottom of the baking dish. Dredge pork shoulder slices in flour, coat evenly.  

Brown pork in a skillet with Olive oil.  

Spread out slices onto the baking dish with the onions.  Add tomatoes to baking dish. Even sprinkle garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and water.

Cover with Foil and braise in the oven for 90 to 120 minutes until fork tender.  Once fork tender, shred meat if desired.
Serve with mashed potatoes, dumplings, or noodles.