Thursday, April 29, 2010

Broiled Tomato Sandwiches #58

One of my favorite meals in the whole world is the tomato soup and tomato mozzarella and basil sandwich at Panera. The Neely's tomato soup is pretty close.  Tonight I'm going to try the make the sandwich side.  

The case:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 slices bread, lightly toasted

1.  Preheat oven to broil.
2.  In a shallow bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Marinate the tomatoes in the mixture, stirring occasionally.
3.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, parsley, oregano, black pepper and 4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese. Spread mixture on each slice of toasted bread.
 4.  Place marinated tomatoes on 2 slices and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
5.  Place on a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes, or until cheese turns golden brown. Serve immediately, open faced or closed.
The ruling:
These were SOOOO good!!!  I will make these regularly.  And I forgot to marinate the tomatoes, which I know would have made it better.  I added basil to the mayonnaise mixture, and put fresh mozzarella and bacon on the sandwiches with the tomatoes.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blue Cheese Burgers #57

To be honest I don't really like blue cheese.  I've had it stuffed in a steak before and loved it, so I though this might be good.  It had a high rating on and I was in a mood to try something different. 

The case:
3 pounds lean ground beef
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
12 French rolls or hamburger buns

1.  In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, blue cheese, chives, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, salt, and mustard. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
2.  Preheat grill for high heat. Gently form the burger mixture into about 12 patties.
3.  Oil the grill grate. Grill patties 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Serve on rolls.

The ruling:
These definitely need more salt, but overall a decent burger.  

Lemon Supreme Cake

This is Michael's favorite dessert I make.  If you like lemon, you'll love this!

1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
1 (3 ounce) package lemon flavored gelatin mix
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3/4 cup apricot nectar
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix, gelatin, lemon extract, apricot nectar, eggs and oil. Mix to combine, then beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Pour batter into a 10 inch tube pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
While cake is baking, make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and confectioners sugar; stir until smooth. Remove cake from oven, and with cake still in pan, pour glaze over top of hot cake, tipping pan to allow excess glaze to run down sides of pan. Allow cake to cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Parmesan Garlic Bread #56

My favorite side dish and/or starter in the whole world has to be bread- especially garlic, cheesy bread.  I love trying new recipes for garlic bread.  No matter what, it's always good!

The case:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, halved lengthwise

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
2.  In a small bowl, mix butter, garlic salt, rosemary, basil, thyme, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.
3.  Spread each half of the French bread with equal portions of the butter mixture. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
4.  Place bread halves, crusts down, on a medium baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned.
The ruling:
This bread is pretty salty, but I like salty (unfortunately)  so I really liked it.  It isn't quite the best I've ever had, but good enough to make again.

Potatoes au Gratin #55

Cheese and potatoes.  Those two words together make my heart sing.  I've been wanting to try this ever since I found out about The Pioneer Woman.  This was one of the first recipes I printed off her site.  The only problem is, typically scalloped potatoes and I don't get along.  I can never get them to cook enough, and I like my potatoes thoroughly done.  Usually I used (gasp) canned potatoes.  Hopefully this will turn out!

The case:

4 whole Russet Potatoes, Scrubbed Clean
2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
1-½ cup Heavy Cream
½ cups Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Flour
4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Freshly Grated

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Smear softened butter all over the bottom of a baking dish.
3.  Slice potatoes (thin but not too thin), then cut slices into fourths.
4.  In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
5  Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes.
6. Repeat this two more times, ending with the cream mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
7.  Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbling.
8.  Add grated cheese to the top of the potatoes and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

The ruling:
I couldn't help myself- I added cheese to the bottom two layers after pouring over the heavy cream mixture.  Isn't that the point of au Gratin potatoes?

Well, all I havta say is YUM YUM YUM!!!!  These were tender and delicious and so quick to make!  This is a new go-to recipe!  The only thing I'll change is to add a little more cheese on the bottom two layers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is a cleaning out the cabinet meal, but it is also one of my favorite meals.  I got the original recipe from my Aunt Laureen, but its very easy to add to.  I've made it with ingredients such as cilantro, enchilada sauce, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and corn. 

- 8 oz Velveeta
- 1 can cream of mushroom
- 2-3 cups shredded chicken
- 1 can Rotel
- 1 can of chili or black beans
- 1 cup chicken broth

Add all ingredients to a pot.  Combine on medium heat, stirring for about 20 minutes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sauteed Apples #54

 I love these apples at Cracker Barrel.  I'm making these for a cookout, but only serving them if they turn out good.

The case:
1/4 cup butter
4 large tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add apples. Cook, stirring constantly, until apples are almost tender, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Dissolve cornstarch in water; add to skillet. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve warm.

The ruling:
Per others' reviews, I added one teaspoon of vanilla and more cinnamon to these.  I love them- so good and tender.  They are just as delicious as any I've had.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Salmon with Lemon, Capers, and Rosemary #53

This is Giada De Laurentiis's recipe.  It is very highly rated, can't wait to try it!

The case:
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
8 lemon slices (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
4 teaspoons capers
4 pieces of aluminum foil

1.  Brush top and bottom of salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
2.  Place each piece of seasoned salmon on a piece of foil large enough to fold over and seal. Top the each piece of salmon with 2 lemon slices, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of capers. Wrap up salmon tightly in the foil packets.
3.  Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Place the foil packets on the hot grill and cook for 10 minutes for a 1-inch thick piece of salmon. Serve in the foil packets.
The ruling:
I baked this at 400 for 17 minutes.  This was very good!  I will make this again.

Creamed Spinach #52

One of my favorite dishes at restaurants is creamed spinach.  Calhouns in Knoxville has the best!  This is one of the dishes I really want to learn to make.  This recipe came from

The case:

3 (10 ounce) bags clean fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced white onion
6 slices shredded provolone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted, stirring constantly. 2.  Remove from the skillet and drain in a colander. Try to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
3.  Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.
4.  Add the spinach and stir in the heavy cream.
5.  Sprinkle in the provolone cheese and stir to melt and coat the spinach. Once the provolone has melted, stir in the Parmesan cheese and continue to cook and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
The ruling:
This was FABULOUS, FABULOUS, FABULOUS!!!!  I will be making this regularly now!  Michael and I ate every bite of it!   I didn't use the onion, but instead added onion powder.  I also used fat free half and half instead of heavy cream.  It was perfect.  I can't imagine finding a recipe that is any better.

Tomato Pesto Pizza #50 and Baked Potato Pizza #51

My friends and I recently had a pizza recipe party.  These are the two pizzas I made.  By the way this was one of my favorite parties ever.  It is amazing all the "pizzas" you can make. 

Pioneer Woman's Tomato Pesto Pizza
The case:

1 whole Recipe Of Your Favorite Pizza Dough (homemade Or Store-bought Is Just Fine, Too)
1 jar Prepared Pesto (or look at my homemade recipe below- it's amazing!)
Kosher Salt To Taste
Fresh Mozzarella
Roma Tomatoes
Fresh Parmesan Cheese

1.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  (Adjust for your pizza crust)
2.  Press the pizza dough into a sheet pan (you can also use a pizza stone or grill).   PREHEAT stone if using it!
3.  Smear the pesto over the pizza dough and sprinkle some kosher salt over it.
4.   Slice the mozzarella thin enough to cover the pizza thoroughly.
5.  Next, lay thin slices of Roma tomatoes over the mozzarella.
6.  Grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over the entire pizza.
7.  Bake the pizza according to the crust directions.

Pesto Recipe:

· 3 cups fresh basil
· 1 cup pine nuts
· 2 cloves garlic
· ¼ cup grated Parmesan (I use more)
· 1 cup olive oil
· Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put first four ingredients into food processor. Pulse until chopped.
2. While food processor is on, slowly pour in olive oil until desired consistency. Taste and add additional ingredients as desired.
3. Mix in salt and pepper to taste.

Baked Potato Pizza
The case:

1 can (11 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated thin pizza crust
6 slices (1 oz each) provolone cheese
2 cups cubed unpeeled baked potato (about 1 large)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ranch dressing and seasoning mix (from 1-oz milk recipe package)
8 strips crisply cooked bacon, chopped
1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/4 cup sliced green onions (4 medium), if desired

Sour cream, if desired- Or I tried it with ranch dressing which was fabulous! 

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray or grease 15x10-inch or larger dark or nonstick cookie sheet. Unroll dough on cookie sheet; starting at center, press dough into 15x10-inch rectangle.
2. Arrange provolone cheese slices on dough. In medium bowl, mix potato, olive oil and ranch dressing mix. Spoon evenly over cheese. Sprinkle with bacon and Cheddar cheese.
3. Bake 13 to 16 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with onions. Serve with sour cream.

The rulings:
I have to admit both of these were extremely good.  I love, love, love homemade pesto, so I'm always trying to find new recipes to actually use with it. (Two of my favorites are left over shredded roast beef, toasted French bread, and Muenster cheese with pesto or just the baguettes with pesto and then Muenster cheese toasted- YUM)  Anyways, I've already made the pesto pizza three times.

Here is what I learned from making both.  I just used the Pillsbury refrigerated crusts.  The crusts worked better for me to bake them for about 7 minutes before.  Then, add the topics and bake more.  I baked the potato pizza (the 2nd time) longer and cut the potatoes smaller.  They tasted much more "done" that time.  Then, on the tomato basil pizza, I broiled it some at the end to brown the cheese.  I had never used fresh mozzarella, and I just can't tell you how delicious it is.  I will use to whenever possible from now on!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spicy Pulled Pork #49

Let's be honest, Michael is the pork cooker around here.  When I asked him to stop by our local butcher store and pick me up a pork shoulder, he even commented, "Are you trying to outdo me?"  I am going to try this recipe in the oven this time because I want to do it all by myself, but in the future, I'm definitely going to let him put it in his smoker to see the difference.  This is another recipe from The Pioneer Woman's cookbook.  Michael had delicious, smoked brisket tacos last week at an upscale restaurant in Nashville.  I've been trying to think of a way to make a different type of tacos ever since then.  I just happened to be flipping through Pioneer Woman's cookbook and remembered these!  I'm going to try them two ways: one with salsa, lime juice, cilantro, and sour cream wrapped in a tortilla and the other with BBQ sauce on a bun.

The case:
4 pounds (up To 7 Pounds) Pork Shoulder
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Salt
Pepper To Taste
3 cloves (to 4 Cloves) Garlic
1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons (to 3 Tablespoons) White Wine Vinegar
¼ cups Brown Sugar
1 whole Onion
Lime Wedges

Preparation Instructions
1.  Rinse and pat dry the pork shoulder.
2.  To begin, just throw the dried oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar and brown sugar into a food processor or blender. (I happen to love brown sugar in my cooking, but you can decrease or omit it if you like.)
3.  Cut one onion into quarters and put it in the food processor with the spices. Blend mixture until totally combined and then pour it over the pork shoulder.
4. Now rub it into every nook and cranny of the meat, tucking it under folds an in crevices. Let no stone go unturned. Then place the pork into a roasting pan or Dutch oven and add a couple of cups of water.
5. Cover tightly and roast pork at 300ยบ for several hours, turning once every hour.
6. When it is fork tender crank up the heat, remove the lid, and roast it, skin side up for another 15 to 20 minutes to get the skin crispy. When it’s done let it rest for 15 minutes before shredding. 7.  Shred the pork shoulder (two forks work well). When it’s all shredded be sure to pour the juices all over the meat. Serve with warm tortillas, lime wedges, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, tomatillo salsa …
The fixings:
All put together:

The ruling:
Where to begin.... I'll start with what Michael said, "This is so many familiar flavors mixed in a new way, and it is so delicious."  He said this was one of his favorite things I've ever made, and that this was something he would expect to get at a Bobby Flay restaurant.  I don't think I even need to say more.  If you like Southwest cuisine- try this!

Chili's Queso Dip

This is one of the "Top Secret Copycat" versions of chili's queso.  It's not quite as good, but when you're having a craving and don't live near a Chili's, it really hits the spot.  I use a little less spice than it calls for, and the juice from a whole lime.  This is also excellent if you substitute cream cheese for the Velveeta.

16 ounces Velveeta cheese
1 (15 ounce) can Hormel no-bean chili
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1. Cut the Velveeta into cubes.
2. Combine the cheese with the remaining ingredients in medium sauce pan over medium heat.
3. Stir frequently until cheese melts then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minute.
4. Serve with hot tortilla chips for dipping.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup #48

I am the queen of making soups, especially chicken soups.  I love watching Tyler Florence's show "Tyler's Ultimate", but I don't think I've ever made any of his recipes.  I used to get this chicken tortilla soup at a Mexican restaurant in Knoxville that was mostly broth.  I don't know how it contained so much flavor,  but it was so good.  The flavor was strong but not too strong.  It's hard to explain.  Every time I got a bad cold not only was it soup for my soul, but it also helped unstop me.  Okay, enough about that, my point is I'm trying to find a soup that compares with it.  Now this still has a lot of ingredients, but the picture looks more "brothy" so I decided to try it.

The case:
-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-2 medium white onions, diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
-3 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
-1 quart chicken stock, recipe follows
-Salt and freshly ground black pepper
-Canola oil, for pan-frying
-8 corn tortillas, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
-1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
-2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and diced
-1 cup shredded Jack cheese, optional
-1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
-1 lime, cut in wedges, for serving

1. Place a stockpot over medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
2. Add the onions, garlic, jalapenos, and tomatoes; cook, stirring for 15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked down and pulpy. Pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat 1-inch of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. When the oil begins to smoke, add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until they are crisp on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and sprinkle with salt while they are still hot.
4. Ladle the hot soup into 4 soup bowls and put a pile of shredded chicken on top of each. Top with the diced avocado and fried tortilla strips (and cheese if using). Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

The ruling:
This soup was DELICIOUS!!!  But I didn't really follow the recipe.  Here is what I did:
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
-  1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 5 cans chicken broth
- 2 Tablespoons jalapenos
- 1 onion (next time I'll use half)
- Juice of one lime
- 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Shredded chicken
- Tortilla chips
- Monterey jack cheese
- Sliced avocado
- Sour cream

1.  Place a stockpot over medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, jalapenos, and tomatoes; cook, stirring for 15 minutes.
2.  Pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes.
3.  During the last 5 minutes add lime juice, cilantro,  salt, cayenne, and cumin.
4.  Ladle the hot soup into 4 soup bowls and put a pile of shredded chicken on top of each.
5.  Top with desired garnishes.