Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Trio of Tasty Tidbits

Mini Florentine Cups, Cheddar Ham Cups and Chicken Taco Cups
(My 100th post)

Hors d’oeuvre. According to the dictionary (which I had to use to check on my spelling)  “out of the ordinary, apart from the main work, a relish or more elaborate preparation served before the first course of a meal.”
I also found this definition, which I love: “a small bit of appetizing food, as spicy meat, fish, cheese, or a preparation of chopped or creamed foods, often served on crackers or small pieces of toast, for eating at cocktail parties or other gatherings where drinks are served with no other food.”  I love how in this official definition they mention specifically where to eat hors d’oeuvres – at a cocktail party or gathering where drinks are served. Don’t let that scare you away from eating them any old night of the week. They make a great casual dinner, with or without drinks.

The recipes below come from two cookbooks I recently purchased: “Kraft Philadelphia Cheesecakes and More” and “Taste of Home Most Requested Recipes.” I tweaked them each a tiny bit. Isn’t it fun that each hors d’oeuvre used something different for its ‘cup’? The spinach cup uses turkey, which I thought would never work, but it is outstanding! These were probably my favorite of the three and I love that they are carb free. They reheated beautifully and made an excellent cold lunch the next day.

The cheddar ham hors d’oeuvre uses a biscuit for its cup, so you know how good those are. Tender, cheesy, a bit chewy. These were my son’s favorites – a great after school snack the next day. These also reheated beautifully.

The chicken taco uses a wonton wrapper for its cup – you can find wontons in the produce department of larger grocery stores. Super easy and super fun to use. They were really crisp and chewy. These could be garnished with black olives, jalapenos, green onions or even more cheese. Really, really fun! We all loved these!

Mini Florentine Cups (makes 24)
1  9 ounce package frozen chopped spinach-thawed, and well drained
½ Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 Cup low-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel cheese)
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
24 slices Oscar Mayer Deli Style Shaved Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

Allow the spinach to thaw for a while and then run hot water over it through a wire sieve. When all the icy parts are thawed, squeeze every drop of water out of it. Using a fork, mix together all the ingredients (except turkey). This takes some elbow grease, but be persistent. Arrange the turkey carefully in ungreased mini muffin tins. Divide the cheese mixture evenly between the ‘turkey cups’ – I resorted to using my hands because the mixture was way too stubborn for spoons. Bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Cheddar Ham Cups (makes 2 ½ dozen)
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
5 ounces thinly sliced deli ham, finely diced
3 slices bacon, diced and fried until crisp
½ Cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tube refrigerated flaky biscuits (10.2 ounces)

Cut each biscuit into thirds and press each tiny section into ungreased mini muffin tins, using your fingers and thumbs to press them up the sides. Mix the remaining ingredients and divide evenly between the biscuit cups. One important note: if you are using a nonstick pan, these will come out like a dream. I don’t recommend an aluminum pan because the cups won’t come out nicely. (I know this from experience!) Bake 9-11 minutes in a 450 degree oven. Allow to rest in the pan for a few minutes before removing.

Chicken Taco Cups (makes about 36)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
1 small onion, diced
2 C red salsa
2 C shredded cheddar cheese
36 wonton wrappers
Stir the chicken cubes and taco seasoning until well blended. Cook chicken until juices run clear- about 5 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken to food processor and process until finely chopped.  In a bowl, combine chicken, salsa, onion, and cheese.

Press wontons in greased mini muffin tins and bake for 5 minutes at 375 degrees or until lightly browned. (Peek in the oven and make sure the wontons don’t fall in on themselves – you want them to remain wide open.)

Remove from oven and fill with chicken mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes or until warmed through. Garnish as desired.
I think all three of these would be great served not only as hors d’oeuvres or as a light dinner but at a breakfast buffet or with a salad luncheon. The Cheddar Ham Cups and the Chicken Taco Cups both froze and reheated perfectly. Enjoy these! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Basic Onion Pie

On my other blog (did you know I write another blog called Food Talk? There’s a link to it on the right side bar here.) I have been writing about how much I love asparagus, which is true. I made a very pretty asparagus soufflé, an asparagus tart (a la Martha Stewart). I have roasted and steamed asparagus. I have served it cold, warm, hot and everything in between. I eat it with or without Parmesan cheese or vinaigrette. We are turning green around here…… is there such a thing as too much asparagus?

Anyway, my other very favorite vegetable is the humble onion. I will eat sautéed onions with anything. Anything at all. Omelets, burgers, pizza, salad, chicken……. Anything at all.

I suppose if you’ve been cooking for any amount of time at all you already have this recipe. I make it a lot because it’s easy, cheap, delicious, and a great way to eat one of my favorite vegetables – onions.
Today I used both Vidalia onions and a few shallots. I did not have Saltine crackers, so I substituted Club crackers . I think Saltines are better.

Add ins include: a can of green chilies, roasted red peppers, dried tomatoes (the ones that come in a jar with oil), other veggies sautéed along with the onions. Today, I kept it completely simple – onions, cracker crust, eggs, milk and cheese.

Here’s what you need:
4 C Vidalia onions – chopped or sliced
¼ C butter – divided
1 C crushed Saltine crackers
4 eggs, well beaten
1 C milk (today I used skim and it was fine)
6 ounces cheddar cheese (you really don’t need more than that)
Salt, pepper, other seasonings to taste

Chop onions and sautee in 2 T butter until desired tenderness is achieved. Melt remaining 2 T butter in regular size pie plate. Sprinkle cracker crumbs over melted butter.

Scatter onions over cracker ‘crust.’ Whisk eggs and milk together and pour over onions. Sprinkle cheese over egg mixture.

Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  A standard at my house.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spice Rack Challenge: Coriander

I had a hard time with this one. (I guess that’s why it’s called a ‘challenge’ eh?) Searched around through my many cookbooks and all over the internet. Almost landed on a coriander bread from Betty Crocker. It has coriander, ginger, cinnamon and orange zest: my kind of flavors.

 I also considered a coriander seasoned grilled chicken breast with a mango-orange salsa – doesn’t that sound fresh tasting?

I haven’t used bulgur in my cooking in a few years, so this Coriander Tabbouleh Salad was just the ticket. Thanks to my friend, Sue, who passed this recipe on to me! Now I need all your best bulgur recipes so I can get to the bottom of the bag of bulgur in my pantry!

Place 1 Cup bulgur in a bowl with ¼ C olive oil. Pour over 2 C boiling water, cover and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes. (This was the recommended method, but you could always follow the directions on the package and add the olive oil to the dressing….. )

In the meantime, whisk ¼ C lemon juice, 1 T coriander, 1 T fresh grated or minced ginger root, 1 t dried mint, salt and pepper to taste.

When bulgur is tender, add dressing and 1 English cucumber (seeded), 1 C chopped green onion, and 1 C fresh parsley.

Couldn’t be easier! Very lemony and satisfying. 

I have another favorite salad recipe here on the blog that used coriander 
(one of my first blog posts…. )
Now that I have made this tabbouleh, I can say that the couscous salad needs lots  more coriander!

Just a random photo of the meal my teenage sons made on Mother’s Day: hamburgers on the grill with sharp white cheddar cheese, fresh steamed green beans and these wonderful roasted smashed potatoes. Thanks boys! Mom loves you!

Also, an update on the rhubarb situation (please ignore the weeds - it has been cold and rainy for weeks up here.... weeding must be done on bright sunny warm days if I'm involved). Any rhubarb recipes out there?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cinco de Mayo - Chocolate Flan

Ok, it’s not Cinco de Mayo! But I did actually make and serve this on May 5 – just getting around to writing about it now. Besides, who needs a Mexican holiday to eat really great, authentic Mexican food? Not me. I’m not even sure Cinco de Mayo is such a big deal in Mexico. We Americans are just looking for another way to celebrate our neighbors to the south. If you want to see how much we love all things Mexican at our house, start clicking:

                Pork Enchiladas in Green Salsa 
(caution: controversial raw meat photos!)

                Mrs. K’s Famous Mexican Casserole
(ridiculously easy)

                Creamy Southwest Chicken Soup
(my daughter in college has made this a few times- I love that she is becoming such a great cook! She texted me today to tell me that she made a penne pasta with apple chicken sausage, broccoli, Granny Smith apples and a Gouda Cheese sauce. I mean, come on!)

                Cheesy Green Enchiladas
(a recipe from Vegetarian Times Magazine. I really must explore that publication more.)

                Chicken Queso Burger 
(one of my first blog posts)

                Yucatan Meals 
(photos from our recent trip to the Yucatan Peninsula)

Picture this:
I am peacefully going through my twitter one afternoon, catching up on tweets and randomly looking around. (I am @LivingCB in case you're interested.....)

I come across a tweet from @finecooking which says “Impossible Chocolate Flan – the BEST dessert for Cinco de Mayo (and fun to make too).”

I read the recipe and decide I must make it right then. RIGHT then.

I send my son to the store with a short grocery list.

I dig in and within the hour I have created this beautiful, beautiful thing!

Unfortunately, I had to wait until the next day to taste it…… and I ate ½ of the entire flan. Tim was out of town and the kids were uninterested…. I think it’s the texture of flan that people either love or hate.
Me - I’m a lover.

Please see Fine Cooking for the complete recipe. (I did not use the Cajeta – no time to drive to the big grocery store for a specialty product- I was in a panic to get this baby in the oven!)

Gather ingredients according to recipe.

Make the cake layer. Make the flan layer and gently pour it over the cake. Set the entire thing in a hot water bath.

Kinda ugly bottom, but just wait till tomorrow! 
Run a hot knife around the edge of the pan. Gently coax the dessert out onto a plate.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Buckwheat Pancakes

Until about a month ago, I had never used buckwheat flour. Now it is my new favorite thing. These buckwheat pancakes are out of this world and according to what I have read on the internet, pretty healthy for you compared to regular flour pancakes. Try them and let me know what you think.

I want you to send me all your buckwheat recipes please! I purchased a huge amount of it and I have to ‘get through it!’ Can you help?

I also need some new rhubarb recipes…. Here is the rhubarb patch right under my deck…. It gets monster size in about 1 month and all I ever make is pie. pie. pie. pie….. something new this year would be great. Can you help?

Rhubarb Cam - April 4

Rhubarb Cam - April 12

Rhubarb Cam - April 15

Rhubarb Cam - April 25

Rhubarb Cam - April 30. This one has a cute little dog in it! 

Third request: anyone out there use ground coriander in anything? Coriander is my May Spice Rack Challenge and I feel a little stumped…. Came across a Coriander Bread that looks interesting and also a Coriander Chicken…. I think I can do better though. Can you help?

Here’s what you need:
Vegetable oil for the pan
¾ C buckwheat flour
¾ C all-purpose flour
3 T sugar
½ t salt
1 t baking soda
3 T melted butter
1 egg
2 C butter milk (as you can see, I use powdered buttermilk. The result is great and the convenience is unbeatable – no need to run-to-the-grocery-store-for-one-item. The only change in method is that you add the dry buttermilk to the dry ingredients and 2 C water to the wet ingredients.)

Here’s what you do:
Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside. You can see the powdered buttermilk in the photo. Whish the wet ingredients together and pour slowly to dry mixture. Do not overmix!

Fry gently in a small amount of vegetable oil. Today we had our pancakes with bananas and syrup. Really great way to start the day! 

(printable recipe)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lemon Chicken

This is Ina Garten’s recipe – I got it directly from Food Network. It is an example of what a great sense of taste she has. Sometimes she uses too much butter for my taste, but here she has hit the mark of perfection! Not too lemony either, which I think sometimes her stuff can be.

Here’s what you need:
¼ C olive oil
2 T minced garlic
1/3 C dry white wine
1 T lemon zest
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ t dried oregano
½ t dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless chicken breasts, bones removed (you can be like me and teach yourself how to debone a breast by watching on youtube…. It’s not difficult and the lucky result is those wonderful bones which make the best broth.)
1 lemon

Here’s what you do:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Warm oil in small pan, add garlic and cook for only one minute – don’t let the garlic get brown at all. Add the wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme and salt. Pour into a 9 X 13 baking dish.

Place chicken skin side up in the pan and brush with olive oil. Season liberally with cracked black pepper. Nestle in some lemon wedges.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is done. You can crisp the skin by placing under the broiler for just a minute or so, if you watch it closely!

Cover pan with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 full minutes. Very easy and very, very good. Thanks to Ina Garten!