Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Sorry about the break from TDT last week.

The picture below is of Teak on Sunday being cute and domestic with us.  This is definitely a break from today's Teak.  Earlier today, our next-door neighbors called Buck at work, saying that they heard Teak crying in different way from usual (sad that he has a regular cry!).  They looked outside and saw that Teak got his head stuck in the kennel gate.  He was trying to escape and got stuck!  Thankfully, they rescued him.  He's safeow. and sound and lying on the recliner right now.

But I can't help but wonder... Teak Dog, where were you going to go?  That made me so sad.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Corn Chowder with Jalapenos and Bacon

This was another recipe we enjoyed from the Homesick Texan Cookbook.  I'm sure it's wonderful  with fresh corn, but we made it out of season with canned sweet corn--still very good.   Maybe you can enjoy this on a cold night, assuming you have cold weather in your neck of the woods.  We, apparently, don't.

Corn Chowder with Jalapenos and Bacon

8 pickled jalapeno slices, diced
4 slices bacon, dliced
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cups corn kernels, frozen or fresh (about 3 cobs shucked)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro and tortilla chips, for serving

In a large skillet, saute the bacon on medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from skillet.  In the skillet with bacon grease, add the diced onion and jalapeno on medium for about 5 minutes.  Add the corn and cook for 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. 

Turn off the heat, and pour the cooked corn mixture into a food processor or blender.  Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and blend on high until a smooth puree has formed. 

Pour pureed corn into a large pot.  Add the remaining chicken broth, cumin, nutmeg, cayenne, cilantro, cooked bacon, and lime juice.  Bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the milk, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve either warm or cold with a cilantro garnish or tortilla chips.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meatballs a la Pizzaiola

Have you recently watched one of Giada's shows on the Food Network?  She always looks beautiful, and she always makes food that sounds so delicious.  One thing that doesn't sound so great to us, however, is her pronunciation of Italian words.  Let's be honest.  It's annoying.  I have her cookware and her food processor from Target, but I roll my eyes when I hear her say mozzarella.  Or, if you hear Buck imitate her, MOZZZAREELLLLLLA.  She's a wee bit ridiculous.

Anyway, we made these very good meatballs with some pasta (PASta) and a side of marinara sauce.  You could do these as a hearty appetizer or with spaghetti. (spaGHEtti)  Next time, I'd either bake them on a rack over a baking sheet (so some of the fat will drip out) or just pan fry them entirely (so they will develop a good crust).  The half and half that I did wasn't strong.  I also used 1 1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes, and they were just a little spicy; you can adjust the seasoning to your liking.

During our Italian lesson with Giada, we learned that the title of this dish means that they're meatballs with all the flavors from a pizzeria: sundried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, not to mention the little cube of mozzarella in the middle.  They didn't especially taste pizza-flavored to us, but they were very good either way.  The recipe below makes a whopping 3 dozen meatballs, so cut the recipe to make it suit your needs.

Meatballs a la Pizzaiola

Cooking spray
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained (5 or 6)
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds 20-percent fat ground beef
1 pound ground pork
6 ounces smoked mozzarella, cut into 36 (1/2-inch) cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cups marinara sauce, warmed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside. In a food processor, pulse together the shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and salt. Process until blended. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef and pork and, using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Form the mixture into 36 equal-size meatballs (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter).  Insert 1 cube smoked mozzarella cheese into the center of each meatball and form the meat around it, completely enclosing the cheese.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat half the oil over medium heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining oil and meatballs.  Place the browned meatballs onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes for medium doneness. Set aside to cool slightly, and serve with warm marinara sauce

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak fell asleep with his tongue out, and it was precious.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vienna Sugar Cookies

This is an old recipe from the Fort Worth newspaper.  Apparently several readers wrote in that these cookies helped curb morning sickness during pregnancy.  I made these cookies for a sweet friend who will have a baby this summer, but I can assure you that these are still delicious even if you're not pregnant.  Enjoy!

Vienna Sugar Cookies

1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (98-103 degrees F)
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.  In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy.  Gradually add flour, blending well.  Add yeast mixture; blend well.  Refrigerate dough until chilled.

Put sugar on a large piece of wax paper.  Pinch off pieces of chilled dough the size of small walnuts and shape into balls.  Working with one ball of dough at a time, press ball flat into sugar until dough is thin.  Keep flipping dough over and pressing it into sugar, until it is the size of a flat doughnut.  Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until very lightly browned.  Transfer to racks to cool.  Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Turkey Vegetable Soup

My mom tells me that this originated as a Weight Watchers recipe, so if you have a certain new year's resolution to keep, this soup will keep you in line.  She jazzed it up with the onion, celery, and Cajun seasoning, which departed from the original recipe, but those additions only made it better.  (Half a teaspoon of Cajun seasoning doesn't sound like much, but it adds a considerable kick to this big pot of soup.  Remember that you can always add more seasoning, but you can't take it out once it's in.  Start small.) 

My mom also told me for probably about a year how good this soup was, but I was wholeheartedly not interested.  For whatever reason, nothing about it sounded appealing. 

I was so wrong.

This really is very good and satisfying.  You can make it with ground turkey or lean ground beef; you won't be able to taste the difference.  It's a hearty soup, so feel free to add more broth if you don't want it to be so thick.  This warm, healthy soup is perfect for cold, rainy evenings.  A warm bowl of soup has the power to lift your spirits besides raising your body temperature.  Try it once, and you'll see how very good it is.

Turkey Vegetable Soup

1 lb ground turkey (or lean ground beef)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1 (12oz) can V8 juice
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can original Rotel tomatoes
1 can Veg-All (liquid drained)
1 (14oz) can chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Tony Chachere's Seasoning (or other Cajun seasoning)

Brown turkey, celery, and green onions slowly in a pot sprayed with cooking spray.  Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute.  Add the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Serve warm with cornbread.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Here's handsome Teak, sitting in front of our Christmas tree. 

No, somehow I haven't taken it down yet. 

Yes, I'm going to get on that ASAP.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Migas--Georgia Style

I lived in Texas for two glorious years before moving to Georgia, but unforunately I wasn't lucky enough or in-the-know enough to order a plate of migas for breakfast while living there. 

Don't know about migas?  I didn't either.  Here are some good explanations from the Homesick Texan or Pioneer Woman, but I can tell you, too: it's a tasty breakfast dish with eggs designed to use up stale tortillas.  The recipe below is another one I adapted from the Homesick Texan cookbook.

Both explanations above note that the eggs are not scrambled; you wait for the eggs to set on the bottom and then do some gentle folding.  However, my folding turned into scrambling, but I don't think the end result suffered.  The stale tortillas (you can use fresh ones, too) are cut into strips and fried, and in the original dish, they're stirred into the eggs while they're cooking, which softens their texture.  Well, if I'm going to the trouble to fry something (I had the baking soda box next to the skillet--one grease fire is enough for me, thank you very much), I want it to be crunchy, so I made the tortilla strips a bed for the eggs to sit on.  I only used a few tablespoons of canola oil, and the strips were nice and crispy in just a minute or two.  If you don't want to fry the tortilla strips, I'm sure you could bake them or even just use tortilla chips. 

The finished product was completely delicious.  We had this as our first meal of 2012, and we were both very happy and satisfied.  Try this on your next lazy weekend morning; you won't regret it. 

Migas--Georgia Style

Oil, for frying
2 tortillas, cut into strips
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
10 pickled jalapeno slices
4 eggs
Splash of milk
1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp cumin
3-4 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup (2oz) grated Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack cheese
Salsa, for serving

In a large skillet, preferably a cast-iron skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium high heat.  Place tortilla strips into skillet, cooking until crisp, turning once.  Remove tortilla strips with a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Drain the oil from the skillet, leaving 2 tablespoons, and turn down the heat to medium.  Add the onions and jalapenos to the skillet, cooking while occasionally stirring until the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes.  While this is cooking, whisk the eggs in a bowl with the milk, salt, pepper, cumin, and cilantro.

After the onions and jalapenos are cooked, add the garlic to the skillet and cook for 30 more seconds.  Add the egg mixture.  Gently stir the eggs; when almost done, sprinkle cheese on top of eggs, and let the eggs sit until the cheese has melted.

Place tortilla strips on a plate, and serve eggs on top.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with salsa. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Homesick Texan Salsa

I was so excited when my sister gave me this Homesick Texan Cookbook for Christmas!  I already like the Homesick Texan blog, so I knew the cookbook was going to be great.  I started marking recipes immediately.

This salsa took just a couple of minutes to throw together, and we really liked it.  We had it on our nachos, with our eggs, and on and on.  It makes 3 1/2 cups though, which is a huge amount of salsa (even for us, and we eat a good bit of it), so you might want to cut the recipe in half.  Her recipe notes that it keeps for a week in the refrigerator. 

Homesick Texan Salsa

1 (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/4 to 1/2 cup pickled jalapeno slices
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt, to taste

Place all ingredients except the salt into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings and add salt to taste.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Check out those mallards.  Way to go, Buck and Teak!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gratin Potatoes

This recipe is quick, easy, and absolutely delicious.  It takes no time to throw together--just a little while to bake.  It's decadent (just like anything with whipping cream), and it's delightful.  This is a family favorite for us!

Gratin Potatoes

3 large baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 qt whipping cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper

Layer potato slices in a buttered 9"x13" baking dish.  Combine other ingredients, and pour mixture over potatoes. 

Bake at 400 for 50 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and mixture is bubbly and golden.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas Bark

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a wonderful 2011, and I hope 2012 will bring even more blessings. 

I probably should have posted this Christmas Bark recipe last week, but I was having too much fun with my family to worry about that.  Besides, Christmas isn't the only time of year you can make this.  If you're sticking to your new year's resolutions to be healthier, just bookmark this recipe until you've changed your mind a bit.  It's worth it.

Christmas Bark

1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 (12oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Place crackers in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet with sides. Melt butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. After it comes to a bubble, cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour butter-sugar mixture over the crackers. Spread evenly. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate morsels. When they start to melt, spread evenly over entire layer of crackers.  Sprinkle chopped pecans on top; refrigerate 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and crack into pieces.