Monday, August 30, 2010

Date Bran Muffins with Honey & Brown Sugar

Ingredients: 1 cup wheat bran, 1 cup buttermilk*, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup brown sugar (+ 2 tablespoons for later), 2 eggs, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 cup chopped dates, 1 large banana,  1/2 cup nuts**

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees and line a dozen muffin tins with paper liners.

Microwave the banana  on high for about 90 seconds and mash with a fork.  In a large bowl combine all the other ingredients and mix well.  Add in the banana.  Sprinkle extra 2 tablespoons of brown sugar on top of the muffins to create a nice golden sugary crust. 

*You can substitue the buttermilk for plain milk or soymilk.
** I suggest walnuts, but feel free to add in some almonds or chopped pecans.

One more note:   You can go Vegan on these by omitting the honey in favor of molasses and using egg substitute.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Ingredients: 8 beef short ribs, 2 large carrots, 1 large onion, 6 cloves of garlic, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 cup beef stock, 1 can tomato sauce, oregano, onion granules, sun dried tomato flakes, red chile powder, salt & pepper.

Season each beef rib generously with salt & pepper. Then in a large sauce pan sear the beef ribs meat side down in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Transfer ribs to a plate.

In the same sauce pan add in diced carrot, onion and garlic.  Cook until onion becomes translucent.  Do not burn the garlic.  De-glaze the pan with a little red wine or stock.

In a large slow cooker combine the seasonings, diced tomatoes, beef stock, tomato sauce and the veggies.  Stir to combine.  Add in all the short ribs.

Cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve the short ribs over buttered egg noodles with some roasted veggies on the side.  

Roasted Broccoli: Preheat Oven to 425.  Lay out broccoli in an even layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with salt, pepper and any other seasoning of your choice.   Roasted broccoli is also great with the addition of a little lemon zest and chile flakes.

Rugelach Pastries

These little pastries/cookies are fantastic, but not for those who are watching their diets.

Pastry Dough:  8 ounces cream cheese (1 brick), 2 sticks of butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 cups all purpose flour.

Cream the butter and cream cheese together.  Add the sugar & vanilla.  Blend in the flour until it just comes together.  This will be really sticky dough.  Form the dough into a large round on a very well floured surface.  Divide into four equal portions.  Wrap each one in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for AT LEAST ONE HOUR.  If you do not do this you won't be able to form the pastries.

Fillings:  I like a very traditional apricot jam topped with a brown sugar and walnut mixture.  Nuttella is also awesome.  You can also add in raisins or any other jam combo you can think of.

Take one of your chilled dough balls and roll it out into an 8-9 inch round.  Spread a thin layer (about 2 tablespoons) of jam or Nutella  all over.  Top gooey layer with some nuts or sugar and nut mixture.  Then cut the round into quarters and then cut each quarter in half.  Now you should have long triangles.  Roll the triangles up from base to tip.  Place on a parchment paper lined cookies sheet.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350.  Bake the cookies for about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.

I like mine with coffee.  He likes his with a glass of cold milk.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Pork Tenderloin

I love mashed potatoes and am always trying to find new things to throw in them.  Tonight I added in goat cheese, chopped green onion, chopped parsley, a little half 'n half and salt & pepper.

To get extra creamy mashed potatoes the trick is to always use red or gold, never russet, and simmer them a little longer than you think.  Cutting them into smaller pieces will decrease the cooking time.  I always salt my cooking water pretty heavily as well.

For the pork tenderloin: Preheat oven to 400.  Heat up a cast iron skillet with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Season the tenderloin liberally with salt & pepper.

 Sear all the juices in by cooking on the stove top each side about 3 minutes.  Tenderloins don't really have "sides" so I turn it about 3 times until the outer surface is nicely caramelized.  Pop it in the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the tenderloin.  Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.

I also served steamed broccoli (it's the only vegetable he really likes) with a little bit of butter, Parmesan cheese and red chile flakes.

All of the leftovers went into a container for an easy homemade TV dinner.

This entire meal cooked up in about 40 minutes.
Happy Eating!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lamb Tikka Masala Burgers

Build a better burger.   For this round of burgers I went with an Indian theme. 

Ingredients:  1/2 lb lean ground beef*; 1/2 lb ground lamb; minced garlic; chopped scallions; chopped parsley;  Mango Chutney; tumeric; garlic granules; onion granules; tikka masala; salt & pepper.

*I think you get a better texture by mixing the beef and the lamb.  You could use some ground turkey or even some mashed up chickpeas if you wanted a healthier alternative.

Mix all the ingredients together and form into patties.

I pan fried mine on the stove top and served them on toasted buns with a little dollop of mango chutney and a side of corn on the cob.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beef Brisket in the Crock Pot

How to make man food:  Buy a big piece of Brisket and put it in the crock pot!

 Cut up 1 lb of baby potatoes, 1 lbs of carrots, 1 lb of onions and season with salt and pepper.  Put in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Crush up a couple cloves of garlic and toss those in too.

Take your nice big Brisket and rub it down with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt & pepper.   Lay the Brisket over the veggies and pour over the top 1/2 a beer and couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce.

Cook on low for 8 hours and the meat will be falling apart.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Filet Mignon with Baby Broccoli and Seared Belgian Endive

It's important to feed the ones you love the food they like to eat.  In my case that means steak.  Good steak.  While at the store this afternoon I came across some lovely Filet Mignon Steaks.  I like to cook mine in a cast iron skillet and finish them off in the oven.

Step One:  Pamper your steaks.  Give them a pat down with some salt & pepper, fresh chopped rosemary and chopped garlic.  Place them in a plastic bag and add in 4 tablespoons of good olive oil and a splash of Worcestershire sauce & soy sauce.   Let them mellow out in the fridge for about 3-4 hours and then let sit out for about 15 minutes before cooking.
Step Two:  Sear all sides in a cast iron pan over medium heat.  I usually go for about 3 minutes each side.
Step Three: Place in a 475 degree oven for 3-6 minutes to finish them off.  I like mine medium rare so they go in for about 3 minutes.
Step Four: Let your steaks rest.  Set them on a cutting board and cover them with foil.  Leave them alone for about 10 minutes.  If you cut into them too soon all the juices will run out.

For the Endive:  While your steaks are resting cut them length wise and sear (over medium heat) flat side down in the same pan your cooked the steaks in.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

For the Baby Broccoli: Steam until tender and season with red chile flakes, salt & pepper.  If you want it extra tasty add a little butter.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Banana Bread

Ingredients: 4 large ripe banana's, 1 & 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 stick of room temperature butter, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 large eggs, 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, 1/3 chopped dark chocolate, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon on granulated sugar.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.

Place the banana's in a microwave safe bowl and microwave about 4 minutes until nice and gooey.   In a separate bowl whisk together the flour & baking soda. 

Cream the butter with the banana's.  Add in the sugar and combine.  Add in the vanilla extract.  Slowly mix in the flour.  Once batter is well combined (it will be super sticky and gooey) mix in the walnuts and chocolate pieces.  Use a scraper to get it all into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top.

Bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.  Cool completely on a wire wrack before slicing.

Fully Loaded Split Pea Soup

Last night while going through the fridge and pantry I realized that I had everything to make split pea soup in the crock pot.   Letting the slow cooker bubble away while I am at the office is the easiest way to make dinner.

Ingredients: 3 cups dried split peas, 3 carrots diced, 3 celery stocks diced, 1 large white onion diced, 2 red or white potatoes finely chopped, 1 ham steak cubed, 3 cups veggie stock, 3 cups of water, salt & pepper, 1 teaspoon celery seed, 1 teaspoon garlic powder & 1 teaspoon onion powder.

Place everything in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  If it's a little too thick add a little water.  If it's a little too thin take the lid off and cook on low for an additional 20 minutes so that some of the excess water evaporates.

I like mine with grilled cheese.  Edam on Sourdough.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Caramelized Peaches over Vanilla Ice Cream

Peaches are bountiful right now and cheap.  Since I had one left over I decided that it needed to be caramelized in brown sugar and poured over vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients: 1 large firm peach, 3 large tablespoons of brown sugar, pat of butter, dash of cinnamon, teaspoon of vanilla extract & 2 big scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Slice up the fruit and remove the skin.

 Place 3 large tablespoons of brown sugar in a non stick pan.  Add a pat of butter and sprinkle on a little cinnamon.  Turn the burner to medium and let the sugar and butter liquefy before stirring.  Add in the vanilla extract and then the peaches.

Let the peaches simmer in the brown sugar sauce until nice and caramelized.  This should take about 5 minutes.  You want to make sure the peaches are nice and tender.  Divide sauce and fruit between 2 big bowls of ice cream.  

Chicken Parmesan

Last week at some point I made Chicken Parmesan for dinner.  It was easy, tasty and if you are bored with chicken breasts this is something  you should give a try.

Ingredients: Boneless & Skinless Chicken Breasts,  Parmesan Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Bread Crumbs, Tomato Sauce (I used TJ's brand), eggs, flour, olive oil, salt & pepper.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking dish.  Pour a little sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Set up your assembly line.

Raw Chicken > plate of flour> plate with Parmesan cheese > egg wash in a pan> seasoned bread crumbs on plate > frying pan

Season the raw chicken with a little salt & pepper.  Move them through your assembly line to get a nice thick coat of deliciousness.  Fry each chicken breast in a little bit of olive oil using a non stick pan until the outside crust is nice and brown.  Approx 2-3 minutes per side.

Place the fried chicken in the baking pan and pour over the top the tomato sauce of your choice.  Lay a slice of Mozzarella cheese on top of each chicken breast.  Bake at 350 uncovered for about 25 minutes until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked through.  Spoon some extra sauce from the baking dish over the top and serve hot.

Butter Makes Everything Better

On Saturday I had a few people over for dinner.  We had salmon steaks, creamy mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and corn off the cob.
I make ridiculously good corn.  Although, I think you should just eat it and not really pay attention to all the butter in it.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Shuck 6 ears of corn and lay in a 16x9 baking pan.  Smear a 1/4 stick of butter the top of the corn and then sprinkle liberally with salt, cracked black pepper and cajun seasoning.  Turn the butter side down and smear another 1/4 of a stick of butter on the other side.  Add lot's more seasoning.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 60-75 minutes.  Cut the corn off the cobs and toss the corn in any melted butter and seasoning mix at the bottom of the pan.  Serve warm.

This also makes a delicious cold salad with the addition of a little olive oil, fresh lime juice,  diced red onion and crumbled  cojita cheese.

*Substitution note:  If you don't like butter please don't use margarine.  Margarine is gross.  If you need to go lower calorie or want dairy free just use a pastry brush to coat the corn in olive oil. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fresh & Easy Fig Bars Reviewed

My morning tea consisted of my usual pot of Irish Breakfast Tea along with a new addition of Fresh & Easy Fig Bars.
I love figs and fig bars.  Once I realized that the world had more to offer than Fig Newton's I've been on a bit of quest to find the perfect fig cookie.  I usually shy away from anything that contains high fructose corn syrup which eliminates most mass produced bars.  My usually favorite is Newman's Own.  Although the Fresh & Easy bars are pretty damn delicious.

They are small, full of fruit and have a nice crumb texture.  The filling is not overly sweet and has a nice rounded raisin flavor which I think pairs nicely with a strong cup of tea. 

Fresh and Easy Fig Bars have a very non scary ingredient list.  The top two ingredients are enriched wheat flour and fig puree followed by cane syrup.  If they could somehow ditch the whey powder and corn flour I'd be an even bigger fan.  I don't see any reason why these delicious little treats couldn't be elevated to vegan status making them available to all.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Max Makes Soap!

I've been cooking up soap in my kitchen for a while now when I'm not wrangling dinner.   Please check out my new boutique soap line when you get a chance.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Decandant One Bowl Double Chocolate Cakes

At about 4 pm today I had a massive chocolate craving and decided to come home and make little chocolate cupcakes.  Easy and delicious.

Preheat oven to 350 and place cupcake liners in pan.  This recipe yields about 12 big cupcakes.

1 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of white granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk (buttermilk, whole or 2%)
1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract
1.5 cups of white flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and baking soda
pinch of sugar
3/4 cups of dutch cocoa
1/2 cup plus a little extra of chocolate chips.  I used dark, but that's just me.

Bring the butter to room temp or just stick it in the microwave.  Dump all the sugar in the bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until nice and creamy.  Add in the vanilla extract, milk, sour cream and the egg.  Beat a bit more until sort of smooth.  With a sifter over the bowl dump in the flour, cocoa, salt, baby soda and baking powder.  Mix the dry ingredients in with a wooden spoon.  Last but not least mix in the chocolate chips.

Fill the cups all the way up and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool slightly and enjoy.

T-Bone Steak

Saturday I was walking around the market trying to find something different for dinner and I came across two wonderful t-bone steaks. 

 I rubbed the steaks down with cracked black pepper, sea salt and crushed garlic.  Then I liberally massaged olive oil into the meat and set it aside to come to room temperature before cooking in a cast iron pan.

These steaks were only about 3/4 of an inch thick so I went with 3 minutes and 30 seconds on each side for a nice rare - to medium rare steak.

The trick to a good steak in a pan is to use cast iron, preheat the pan on medium high heat and don't move the steak around once it's in the pan.  Set the timer and wait to turn.  If you mess with it you won't get nice carmelized pan marks.

I served my steak with baby broccoli and mushroom risotto.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chile Colorado

I am a huge fan of all types of Mexican and Southwest Cuisine.   Here is my version of Chile Colorado

  • 3.5 lbs of beef chuck cubed into about 1 inch chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of galic
  • 8-10 New Mexico Dried Chile Peppers
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can spicy tomato sauce
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of water
  • cumin
  • salt & pepper
Chop up the onion into a fine dice and mix with the cubed beef.  Place in the crock of slow cooker.  Add in a few cloves of smashed and diced garlic, 1/2 tablespoon of cumin and some salt & pepper.  Cook on low 8 hrs.

Meanwhile prepare the chile sauce:  Clean each dried chile by cutting off the stem, removing the seeds and rinsing under water.  Place them in a sauce pan with enough water to cover.  Bring to a simmer turn off the heat and cover.  Let set for 45 minutes to soften.  Drain them and place in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Add about 1/4-1/2 cups of water and puree.  Strain the chile sauce to remove any skin or excess debris.

Once the meat is done strain off some of the excess liquid in the pot.  Add the chile sauce, tomato sauce and beef broth.  Cook on high for about an hour uncovered so the sauce can thicken.

I serve mine in a shallow bowl with warm tortilla's, fresh guacamole and sour cream.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Asian Inspired Crock Pot Pork

I generally am not a fan of Asian food, but Mr. Man is and I thought I'd give it a go.  Pork shoulder was on sale at the market on Saturday which cooks up beautifully in a crock pot.

Asian Inspired Pork Shoulder
One pork shoulder roast cut into 1 inch cubes
4 tablespoons Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon Mirin, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, juice of 1 tangerine or 1/2 an orange, 1 spoonful of apricot jam, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoons chile powder, 1 teaspoon garlic granules, 1 teaspoon of onion granules and 1 teaspoon hot paprika

Mix the cubed pork shoulder with all other ingredients and place in a greased slow cooker crock.  Cook on low for 8-10 hrs.

Once the pork was done I put about 1 cup of the broth from the crock pot into a sauce pan and reduced to about 1/3 of it's volume.

Veggies:  Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Red Bell Pepper sauteed in a little vegetable oil  seasoned with diced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.

I served the pork cubes over rice with the veggies on the side and then drizzled the reduced sauce over everything.

Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce

Late last week the fridge was looking a little empty and I needed to throw together some dinner.  Using what was left in the fridge and pantry I came up with Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce served over toast with a side of bacon.

In a small casserole with a lid combine 1 small can of tomato sauce with one small can of spicy Mexican tomato sauce.  Gently break eggs into sauce and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Toast up some nice crusty break.  I suggest a nice ciabatta.  Use what you have on hand though.  English muffins, sourdough, even tortilla's would work nicely.  Place the cooked eggs and some sauce over the bread and serve with a side of bacon.  When I made the eggs I made steamed artichokes as well because that's what I had left in the crisper bin.  

Chef Salad

Hearty Chef Salad for a Summer Supper

What I like in my chef Salad:
Butter Lettuce and Raddicio
Diced Cucumbers
Thinly Sliced Radishes
Halved Pearl Tomatoes
Diced Red Bell Peppers
Cubed Dill Harvarti Cheese
Cubed Crock Pot Chicken
Deviled Eggs

When making a large salad for dinner I like to first dress my greens with salt & pepper and toss with salad dressing.  This time I used a store bought Italian dressing.   I placed dressed greens on the bottom of a shallow bowl and then placed the rest of the ingredients in rows.  The best part of this salad is the deviled eggs.  I always make a few extra for snacking later in the evening.

Deviled Eggs:  Slice boiled eggs in half length wise and remove the yolks.  Break up the yolks in a bowl and add mayo to achieve the consistency you like.  I spice mine up with: salt & black pepper, turmeric & celery seed.  Spoon the yolks into a plastic bag and cut off the corner to use as a piping bag.  Be generous when filling the eggs.  Sprinkle the tops of the filled eggs with hot paprika.

Crock Pot Chicken

Making a whole chicken in a crock pot is simple, tasty and cheap.   I like to prepare my chicken in the evening and put the crock with the lid on in the fridge overnight.  Sitting over night allows all  the flavors to deepen and makes it super easy to just turn it on in the morning insuring that I have dinner when I get home from work.

One whole chicken in a crock pot can make several wonderful dishes.  I usually serve the breast meat for dinner the day I cook it with some steamed veggies and mashed potatoes.  Left over chicken gets turned into chicken salad, cubed chicken gets tossed on a green salad, shredded chicken for tacos & quesadilla's,or used as a base for a hearty chicken soup.

Whole chicken prep:  Wash and pat dry your whole chicken.  Stuff with a lemon or a chopped up onion.  Rub down with spices.
Max's Chicken Rub:  1 tablespoon coarse sea salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon onion granules, 1 teaspoon garlic granules, 1 tablespoon hot paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper,  1 tablespoon ground Ancho Chile's and 1 teaspoon celery seed.

Coat the chicken in the spice mixture inside and out and place in a greased slow cooker crock.  Place crock in fridge over night.   In the morning  place crock in cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.   The chicken will be juicy and falling off the bone.