Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Lunch

After a lovely morning of sitting on Sunset Blvd with one of the coolest gals in town drinking iced coffees I came home to raid my fridge for snack time.

White Wine from Trader Joes
Cucumber & Pearl Tomato Salad dressed with Merlot Sea Salt, cracked Black Pepper & Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Jalapeno Jack Cheese & Bacon Dip on Water Crackers

Saturday Afternoon Snack Spread with Sausage Balls of Death

On Saturday a bunch of people including some out of town guests came over for snacks after a round of golf.  As the hostess with the mostess I put out a grand spread.

What's on the table you ask?  Moving clockwise: Sausage cheese balls of death with two dipping sauces (BBQ & mayo/mustard) , pretzel thins, bacon cheese dip, crackers,  4 cheeses (cheddar, jack, Colby, jalapeno), sun dried tomato pesto, marcona almonds, green olives, black olives, green lantern dressing with veggies for dipping, cornichon pickles, meat platter (turkey, Parmesan crusted salami, french ham, hard salami)

Sausage Balls of Death
1 pound bulk sausage ( i like spicy!)
3 cups of biscuit mix
3 cups of shredded cheese ( I used a Mexican blend, but cheddar would be yummy too)
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon of red chile flakes

Mix all ingredients together with your hands until well combines.  Roll into balls about the size of a golf ball and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake about 20-30 minutes at 350 until nice and brown.  Turn once 1/2 way through cooking for even browning.   I got about 23 golf ball size Sausage Balls of Death.  The boys loved them and asked for more.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Quiche is good.  Quiche is better with bacon and lots of yummy veggies.  I tend to make quiche pretty regularly since it makes a good breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

Preheat Oven to 475 and get your pie pan greased up.  You can use store bought pastry, but making your own is cheaper, tastier and way more fun.

Basic Pastry:  1.5 cups of all purpose flour, 1 stick of cold butter in cubes, and a little bit of ice water.  Place the flour in the bowl of your food processor with the blade attachment.  Pulse to get rid of any clumps.  Cube up the cold butter and drop into processor.  Pulse about 3-5 times until it has a sandy appearance.  Add in ice water by the tablespoon full until you get a wet sand look to your dough.   Dump out the dough on to a floured work service, form into a disc and then roll out and place in your pie pan.  You can do this ahead of time and either freeze or refrigerate the dough.  I've gotten in the habit of keeping about 2 discs of pastry in the freezer.

You can add flavor to your pastry by adding black pepper or a little grated Parmesan cheese for savory dishes like quiche. 

Now that you've got your pie pan prepared your going to need to fill it with stuff.   Quiche is basically egg custard, cheese and some sort of veggie and or meat combo.

This time I filled mine with: Swiss cheese, crisp crumbled bacon, finely chopped broccoli and some baby squash.

Egg Custard:  4-5 eggs and about 1/3 cup of half and half or heavy cream with a dash of salt and pepper.  Don't use milk, it won't set up properly.  Heavy Cream is best.

In your food processor finely chop up about 1/2 cup broccoli.  This is the first layer in the pie.  Then sprinkle a little bit of cheese.  I then added 4 strips of bacon cooked crispy and broken into small pieces.  I topped the bacon off with thin slices of the baby squash.  The squash got a nice layer of about a 1/3 cup of shredded Swiss cheese.  Finally I poured in the egg custard and sprinkled a bit of pepper on top.

Pop the pie in the oven at 450 and then turn down the temp to 350 immediately.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until eggs are set and crust is browned.   Cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

I think this makes a wonderful dinner with a side salad.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Totally Awesome Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of my favorite summer foods.  If you give it a little extra attention it can be the best thing at the picnic.

I make mine in my wonderful food processor.  Just dump all the ingredients in and process until nice and creamy:  1 cup sour cream, 3/4 cup of mayo, juice of 1/2 a lemon, zest of one lemon, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 large palm full of chopped parsley*, 1 large palm full of fresh dill, 2 green onions, 2-4 cloves of garlic, dash of celery seed.   Taste and add salt.  If it's a little too thick add a bit more lemon juice.

*If you don't like parsley use cilantro, butter lettuce or romaine.  The goal is to add a nice fresh taste to the dressing.

In a large pot boil  1 lb of potatoes cut into bite size pieces.  Leave the skin on.  I recommend a mix of fingerlings and Peruvian purple potatoes.  Don't use russet, they are way too starchy.  Place 4-5 eggs depending on their size right along with the potatoes in the pot.  Liberally salt the water.   I like my potatoes to be a bit on the over done side.
While the potatoes and eggs are boiling chop up 3 celery stalks and a medium red onion.
Once the potatoes are cooled mix in with the veggies.  Give the hard boiled eggs a rough chop and them in as well.
Pour a liberal amount of the dressing over the potatoes.  Use more than you think you like as the starchy potatoes will soak up some of the dressing.  If you have any left over dressing it's great as a dip for cut up veggies.
I like to finish my salad with a sprinkling of Merlot sea salt.  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fried Chicken

The trick to great fried chicken in my humble opinion is an overnight bath in buttermilk.   Cut up a chicken or buy chicken pieces and soak over night in buttermilk.  I season my chicken with some cayenne pepper & salt and then place in a large resealable plastic bag.  Place the bag in a large bowl and then fill the bag with buttermilk.    I usually go for a full 24 hours but you can also do this in the morning.  Give it at least 8 hours to soak.
Drain the chicken and then get ready to add a nice and crispy outer jacket.  Coating the chicken is a bit of a process.  You want to set up an assembly line so that their is no cross contamination.  No one wants to get sick now do they?

The assembly line:  drained chicken, spice rub, wet works, dry mix, wire rack, frying pan, draining rack.

Spice Blend:  hot paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  Wet Works: 1 cup buttermilk and 2 eggs whisked together.  Dry Mix:  2 cups of flour in a resealable plastic bag.

Take a piece of drained chicken and rub with spice mix and then give it a bath in the wet works.  After it has a short bath drop it in the bag filled with flour.  You can place about 4 pieces of chicken in the bag at at time.  Shake the bag and then place the heavily coated chicken on the wire rack.

Fry the chicken in about 1 inch of melted Crisco or vegetable oil for 10 minutes on each side.  Drain on another wire rack set on top of a cookie sheet with some paper towels or brown paper bag to soak up the oil.

Burrito Pie

This is super easy and very man friendly.
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and grease a pie pan

One medium onion diced
One medium bell pepper diced
1 and 1/4 lbs ground beef - lean
1 small can tomato paste
1 small can diced green chilies
1 small can El Pato Tomato Sauce with Jalapeno
shredded Mexican cheese blend
flour tortillas
sour cream

Saute the ground beef and diced onions until meat has evenly browned.  Add in the diced bell pepper and cook until softened.  Pour in the tomato products and green chilies.  Mix well and let simmer until mixture has thickened.  This should take about 5-10 minutes.

Place one tortilla on the bottom of the pie pan.  Spoon out a layer of filling and sprinkle cheese on top.  Add another tortilla, more filling, more cheese.  Do one more layer and top with a final tortilla and cheese.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes until cheese is nice and melted and the side of the tortillas have crisped up just a little bit.

Let cool for 10 minutes cut into wedges and serve with sour cream and guacamole.

You can use any extra filling for soft tacos or nachos.  The filling freezes really well.  This recipe is a mix of what my Aunt Laura made when I was a kid and something I read from a Martha Stewart newsletter.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Blueberry Bars

Easy and Delicious
Preheat Oven to 375
Pastry Mix:
1.5 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry  Flour
1/2 Cup Almonds, Walnuts or Pecans
1 Cup Sugar
2 Sticks Butter
Zest of One Lemon
1 Large Egg
Place all ingredients except the egg in the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment and pulse to combine.  Add the egg.  Blend until well mixed.  Dough will be mealy.
Press 1/2 of the mix in a 16x9 greased pan.
3 cups frozen thawed blueberries (or use fresh), juice of one lemon, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon corn starch.  Mix the filling in a large bowl and then spread evenly in the pan.   Crumble the other half of the pasty on top and bake for about 45-60 minutes until top is nice and golden brown.   Cool before slicing.  I get about 12 big squares.
These bars are great for breakfast or for dessert with a little whipped cream on top.
You could make them a bit healthier by decreasing some of the sugar and using all whole wheat pastry flour.  I like the texture of mixing the whole wheat and all purpose.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lemon Bars

I attempted to emulate the wonderful world of Martha with this Lemon Bar Recipe.

I cheated, just a little bit.  I used jarred lemon curd from Trader Joe's.  It's delicious stuff that you should add to your pantry.  When making the bars I skewed slightly from the recipe and used a 16x9 pan and also lined it with a little parchment.   The parchment made sure they didn't stick.  I suggest using an extra egg white when making the meringue since I felt that the amount came out a little skimpy.