Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

If you haven't been to Plain Chicken's blog, you have to go; she always has such great recipes, and this is one of them.  Biz and I made this along with yesterday's sirloin steak, and it was good!  I hadn't had gnocchi in years, and it was great covered in cheese (but what isn't?).  The original recipe called for Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese, but I used Parmesan because I'm cheap; it also called for Gruyere, but I used Swiss (for the same reason).  I didn't know any substitutions for Fontina, so I went with it.

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

1 pound gnocchi
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup shredded Swiss
1/4 cup shredded Fontina
1 tsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain and place gnocchi in a single layer in a 1-1/2 qt. shallow baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. 

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Whisk in flour until it thickens and bubbles; then whisk in milk and Dijon. 
Continue to whisk mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. 

Combine Swiss and Fontina cheeses.  Add by the handful to the milk mixture, stirring until melted before adding the next handful.  Once all cheese is melted, add basil, salt and pepper. 

Pour sauce over gnocchi, and sprinkle with Parmesan over the top.  Bake gnocchi until they puff and cheese is golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes.  Let gnocchi rest for 5 minutes before serving. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Bars

Happy Halloween!  These pumpkin bars should really be called pumpkin cake because they have a cake-like consistency and you have to eat them with a fork instead of just picking them up.  I can safely say that the best part of this dessert is the icing.  After you eat some of the icing, maybe you can join me at the gym so we can run some of it off.  I tried to make up for it somewhat by using whole wheat flour and substituting half of the vegetable oil for applesauce.

These are delicious, and they don't have any weird ingredients that you have to search for.  They're a perfect treat for Halloween or Thanksgiving.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (or 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce)
1 (15oz) can pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 stick butter, softened
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Using an electric mixer at medium speed, cream together eggs, pumpkin, oil/applesauce, and sugar.  In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture on low speed or by hand-stirring until smooth.  Spread the batter into a greased 10x13-inch baking pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Let cool completely before frosting. 

While bars are cooling, combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add the sugar and mix at a low speed until combined.  Stir in the vanilla and mix again.  Spread onto cooled pumpkin bars. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak in a faux soul searching session...

and back to normal.
Happy 100th post! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sirloin Steak

Before I talk about the steak, I just want to say that I haven't been posting anything because my computer has been kaput for the past couple of weeks.  Biz told me today, though, that the necessary parts have been ordered, and we should be good to go by the end of this week.  My only computer has been my one at work, so I haven't been able to upload pictures of anything (Bizzuck has been handling Teak Dog Tuesday from his phone).  Anyway, I'll be back in action soon.  (And believe me--I have good stuff to post.)

Okay, the steak--I made this for Bizzuck a few weeks ago, and it was really good and so easy to do!  I don't really know anything about grilling, and I was in charge of cooking the steak, so I used this recipe from Alton Brown, and it would be hard to mess it up!  I got a one pound steak trimmed nicely; although the recipe just called for salt and pepper, I used Montreal Steak Seasoning.  It was cooked perfectly for medium doneness, so adjust the times up or down for the doneness you like.  Enjoy!

Sirloin Steak

1 (1 to 1 1/4) lb sirloin steak
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper (or steak seasoning) to taste

Preheat oven on broiler setting.  Brush steak with oil and seasoning.  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and place on the bottom rack as a drip pan.  Place another rack in the position right above this, and put the steak directly on the rack.  Cook steak in this position for 5 minutes; flip steak, and cook for another 5 minutes.  Move rack with steak to top position in oven, moving rack with foil and drippings just underneath, and cook for 3 minutes.  Flip one last time and cook for another 3 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let rest for 3-5 minutes. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak had a fun Saturday running around with his friend Kate.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

I liked this dish because a) it was tasty, b) it didn't require a lot of my attention, and c) I used a little bit out of my pantry and freezer that had been taking up space for a while.  The chicken was really tender.  To use up more pantry items, I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans, but it really would have been better with pasta and some crusty bread.  My inspiration was the Pioneer Woman; I changed it up a little bit, though.  She used thighs instead of chicken breast because she too was cleaning out her freezer.  Make it work for you!  

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 (14 oz) can diced or whole tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
Fresh herbs- basil, parsley, rosemary (I only had dried- 1/4 tsp basil)

Preheat oven to 400.  Heat Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add olive oil.  Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and brown in olive oil for 3 minutes per side.  Remove chicken from pan.  Pour in wine, scraping the bottom of the pan.  Cook for 1 minute.  Pour in tomatoes with their juice, stirring to combine.  Bring sauce to a boil, and then turn off heat.  Add fresh herbs, garlic, and chicken breasts.  Put lid on pot and cook in oven for 1 hour.  Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with pasta, Parmesan cheese, and bread. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jalapeno Cheese Oysters

We love jalapenos and cheese, so Biz and I thought these were fantastic.  (Thank you, Jay, for introducing us to these!)  You have some freedom with these too; you can use whatever cheeses you like, or you can chop up the jalapenos if you don't want a whole slice on each oyster.  I guess if you really wanted to go the Tex-Mex route, you could skip the cracker and serve on tortilla chips.  Again, we had already baked the oysters in their shell so they would be open enough to shuck, but if you're able to get the shells open without the help of heat, you might want to bake them for longer in the oven when they have cheese on top.

Jalapeno Cheese Oysters

1 dozen oysters, shucked
1/2 cup shredded cheese (we used Cheddar and mozzarella, but you can use whatever you like)
12 jalapeno slices
Crackers for serving

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease small baking dish, and place oysters on the bottom.  Sprinkle oysters with cheese, and top with one jalapeno slice each.  Bake for 6 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Serve with crackers or tortilla chips. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

We were out of town this weekend, so after spending a weekend with his grandparents, Teak was very happy to sleep on his own couch again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oysters Parmesan

This is a great oyster recipe.  I baked these twice, whether I was supposed to or not--once to get the shell to open to shuck them, and the second time to melt the cheese and mix together all the flavors; it certainly didn't hurt them.  I was later told that I didn't have to scoop them up on a cracker--that I could have just eaten them with a fork--so it works either way.  Again, we steamed them in the shells in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 so that we could shuck them, and then we went from there.  There are very few measurements in this recipe, so you can make it however you like.

Oysters Parmesan

1 dozen oysters
Parmesan cheese
Creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's or something similar)
1/4 cup white wine

Grease bottom of small baking dish, and sprinkle breadcrumbs on the bottom.  Season shucked oysters with creole seasoning, and place on breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese and more breadcrumbs.  In bottom of dish, pour white wine until it soaks up breadcrumbs; you may not need the entire 1/4 cup.  Bake in oven at 400 for 6 minutes. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak had a very busy weekend, so he took a cozy nap on Bizzuck's lap on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday night, though, he was ready to play with his new bone.

By the way, HAPPY BIRHTDAY, ERICA!  Love you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Roasted Oysters

Consider this Oyster Week on I Hope You're Hungry.  Bizzuck and I had more oysters than we knew what to do with over the weekend, and somehow all of our oyster-eating friends weren't available last night.  We tried them many different ways, and now you get the benefit! 

Normally when we roast oysters, the first thing Biz does is build a very hot fire.  He has a special metal table that he puts over the fire, and then he'll shovel a few dozen oysters in their shells onto the table.  From there, he covers the oysters with sheets of wet burlap, and then sprays the burlap with more water.  After a few minutes, the oyster shells have steamed open, so you can remove the wet burlap to a bucket, shovel the steamed oysters onto a table, and start shucking away.  Like I said, that's normally the way we do it, but of course I didn't take a picture of this when we did it on Saturday.

Sunday was a different story.  We did everything in the oven yesterday; shucking was too difficult without some kind of heat helping us out.  To fix that, we loaded up a baking sheet with as many oysters as possible and loaded them in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  From there, shuck them (pop them open by sticking a knife in the opening and prying the two sides apart), scrape the oyster onto a cracker, and put a dab of hot sauce on there. 

They're slimy creatures but very tasty!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apple Cream Cheese Muffins

These muffins are amazing.  I can't tell you enough how delicious they are.  They're surprisingly light, and they'd be incredible with a spread of cream cheese. 

The recipe calls for one cup of diced apple, and that was just one apple for me.  It also calls for a half stick of butter, which I used, but next time I make them, I might substitute applesauce for the butter; it would enhance the apple flavor and still give the moisture.  You can usually substitute applesauce for oil in baking recipes, so I'm sure it would work the same way in this one.  It calls for half a cup of bran cereal, and I just used my Special K; I don't think that's technically bran cereal, but it's my favorite cereal, and it turned out great.  If you want a fancier topping, I'm sure they'd be wonderful with a streusel topping, but the plain old cinnamon and sugar combination was perfect for us.  The recipe yields 16 muffins.

(Side note about cinnamon/sugar: my mom tells me frequently how amazed she is at everything I cook because I was SUCH a picky eater as a kid.  For years, she tells me, I wouldn't eat anything if it wasn't covered in cinnamon or cheese.  My tastes have developed since then, but my love for things topped with cinnamon or cheese has remained.)

You have to make these muffins soon.  They go perfectly with the wonderful fall weather we've been having, and they make your house smell amazing while they're baking!

Apple Cream Cheese Muffins

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup bran cereal

1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and cream cheese.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each one.  Add milk and vanilla to other wet ingredients and mix.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring until just incorporated.  Fold in apples and cereal. 

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full with muffin batter.  Combine cinnamon and sugar for topping, and sprinkle over batter.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes in muffin tin before removing from pan to cool on a rack.