Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bacon and Jalapeno-Wrapped Shrimp with Cheese Dipping Sauce

Bacon, shrimp, jalapeños, and cheese.  What's not to love?  

This was one of Claire Robinson's five ingredient recipes, and I made it the day after I saw the episode.  We finished these off in no time.  It's a little time consuming, but not at all difficult.  You won't be disappointed by the results.  

Bacon and Jalapeño-Wrapped Shrimp with Cheese Dipping Sauce

8 thin slices bacon
8 roasted jalapeños, sliced in half and seeded
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
3/4 cup cream

Preheat oven to 400.  Cut each piece of bacon in half and place them on a baking sheet.  Bake until half cooked, 4-5 minutes.  Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle.  

Hold one strip of the roasted jalapeño in the belly of each shrimp, and wrap it with a half piece of bacon.  Secure with a toothpick and season with pepper to taste.  Repeat with the remaining shrimp.  Arrange the shrimp on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake until shrimp are just cooked, about 10 minutes.  

Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce by adding the cheese and cream to a glass bowl.  Put the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water.  Slowly stir until the cheese is melted into the cream and is fully blended.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Italian Sausage Pasta

This was so tasty!  I'd never cooked with Italian sausage before now, but it had a sweeter flavor than what I was used to (even though I got the hot Italian sausage).  I think this was the closest I've ever gotten to a 30 minute meal.  It made a lot for just the two of us, so I can tell you that it was still great reheated for lunch.  I'll make this again.

Italian Sausage Pasta

1 lb penne pasta
1 lb hot or sweet Italian sausage, removed from its casing
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 (14oz) cans diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup reserved pasta water
Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta in boiling water for 8-10 minutes and drain. 

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat.  Cook sausage and pepper flakes until sausage is evenly browned.  Stir in onion and garlic, and cook until onion is tender.  Stir in tomatoes, and cook for 8-10 minutes.  Stir in pasta and cup of pasta water, and heat through.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Another video edition of Teak Dog Tuesday!  He was retrieving a duck on his first hunt last November.  He's awesome.

However, I'm not, and I still don't know how to make the video fit within the width of the blog.  Click on the link for full effect.


Also, this was my Valentine's Day present (complete with a card from Teak).  Next to the roses was a container of Subway white chocoloate macadamia nut cookies--my favorite!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shortcut King Cake

Were you intrigued by the king cake, but you know you can't devote that much time to it?  I have the perfect solution for you. 

This is delicious, fast, and so easy to make.  Instead of just the cinnamon filling in the other king cake, this one is filled with cream cheese and pecans.  You'll love it.

Shortcut King Cake

2 cans crescent rolls

2/3 cujp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
8 oz softened cream cheese
cinnamon sugar
chopped pecans

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Colored sugar (purple, green and gold)

Place crescent roll triangles on a cookie sheet, forming an oval, with the triangle tips pointing out.  Flatten the triangle ends just enough for them to touch.  Mix sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla, and spread mixture into dough.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and chopped pecans.  Fold triangle points over to cover the filling.  Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes. 

To make the icing, mix the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, and drizzle over the warm cake.  Sprinkle with colored sugar.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

King Cake!

It's Mardi Gras season!  Growing up in Louisiana, I couldn't wait for king cakes and parades every year, but now that I'm in Georgia, people don't know or care much about Mardi Gras.  It's sad, but I refuse to stop celebrating.

If you're not lucky enough to live in Louisiana or be there for Mardi Gras, you can still celebrate by making your own king cake.  It's a lot of work (be prepared to devote about 5.5 hours from start to finish), but it's completely worth the effort.  This recipe makes two large king cakes; for a split second, I thought about cutting the recipe in half and only making one, but then I decided that if I were going through all the trouble, I might as well make both of them.  The cake also freezes well, if it gets that far.  Each of us took one cake to work, and there were no leftovers.

Before you make the cake, you'll need to make a trip to Michael's or Hobby Lobby for colored sugar (who knew they'd have such a supply at a craft store?) and tiny plastic babies (with the baby shower things).  After the cake has been baked, you'll slip a little plastic baby inside from the bottom to hide in the cake.  When you cut the cake, whoever gets the piece with the baby has good luck and has to supply the next king cake! 

Just another note on the process of making the king cake: you will need a rolling pin or some other instrument to roll out the dough.  I, however, do not have a rollilg pin, so I had to get creative.  If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you can do what I did.  Use a wine bottle!  It was very effective.

Yes, I drink Yellow Tail.  Don't judge me.

(Friends, if you're coming to the wedding this summer and would like to give us a wedding present, we'd like a rolling pin.  Thank you.)

Happy Mardi Gras!

King Cake

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided
2/3 cup skim evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 tsp salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
4 eggs
1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
2 Tbsp grated orange rind
6 cups flour

In a saucepan, melt 1 stick butter, evaporated milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt.  Cool to lukewarm.  In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 Tbsp sugar, yeast, and water.  Let stand until foaming, about 5-10 minutes.  Beat eggs into yeast, then add milk mixture and rinds.  Stir in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, reserving 1 cup to flour kneading surface.  Knead dough until smooth, about 5-10 minutes.  Place in large mixing bowl greased with 1 Tbsp butter, turning dough once to grease top; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1.5-2 hours.

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted, divided

For filling, mix sugars and cinnamon.  Set aside.

1 cup sugar (1/3 cup each of purple, green, and gold)
1 eggs, beaten
2 (3/4") plastic babies

When dough has doubled, punch down and divide in half.  On a floured surface, roll half into a 15"x30" rectangle.  Brush with half of melted butter and cut into three lengthwise strips.  Sprinkle half of sugar mixture on strips, leaving a 1-inch lengthwise strip free for sealing.  Fold each strip lengthwise toward the center, sealing the seam.  You will now have 3 (30 inch) strips with the sugar mixture enclosed in each.  Braid the three strips and make a circle by joining ends.  Repeat with the other half of dough. 

Place each cake on a baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Brush each with egg and sprinkle top with colored sugars, alternating colors.  Preheat oven to 350.  Bake 20 minutes.  Remove from pan immediately so sugar will nto harden.  While still warm, place 1 plastic baby in each from underneath.

To freeze, wrap cooled cake tightly in plastic.  Before serving, remove plastic and thaw. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

He was mid-yawn, but I like how he looks really happy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Grilled Chicken and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

This was so good!  This recipe was in the latest Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine.  We're always looking for macaroni and cheese recipes, and we love grilled chicken, so this seemed like the perfect way to join the two.  This recipe can serve up to 6 people, but if you're cooking for a smaller crowd, go ahead and make the whole thing; it was great when I reheated it for lunch the next day.

I couldn't ever get the sauce to thicken, even though I cooked it for long enough, so once it was in the casserole dish, I baked it at 350 for about 15 minutes before putting it under the broiler for a few minutes.  The only thing I'd change next time, for appearance's sake only, would be to use penne instead of macaroni; it would taste the same but probably look a little more "grown up."  I love Rachael's recipes, but I can never get them done in 30 minutes.  If you are good, you can get this done on quickly; if you're like me, it's more of an hour-long meal. 

Grilled Chicken and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

6 slices smoky bacon
1 lb pasta--penne or macaroni
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
4 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 rounded tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Nutmeg, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 375.  Arrange the bacon on a slotted broiler pan or on a rack placed over a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes.  Chop and reserve.  Switch on the broiler, and position the rack in the center of the oven.

Bring a pot of water to a boil; salt it, add the pasta, and cook to package directions.  Drain and return to the pot. 

While the pasta is working, heat a grill pan or griddle over medium-high heat.  Drizzle the chicken with olive oil to coat lightly, then season evenly with the paprika, salt, and pepper.  Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.  Transfer to a cutting board and thinly slice pieces. 

While the chicken cooks, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until light golden and very soft, 15-20 minutes.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute.  Whisk in the chicken stock, then the milk.  Bring to a boil and cook, whisking, until the sauce is thick, 3-4 minutes.  Add the thyme and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Stir in the cheeses until melted. 

Add the chicken, bacon, and sauce to the pasta and transfer to a 9"x13" casserole dish.  If the dish needs to be thickened, bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Otherwise, broil until bubbling and browned, about 5 minutes. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Buck was out of town ALL weekend, which means that Teak was pretty distraught.  When they were reunited Sunday night, all was right in the world again.  Teak honestly didn't get further away from him than this.  It was so sweet!

We just found out that his tumor was benign!  YAY!!  Thank you for your kind thoughts! :)