Monthly Archives: November 2011

Stuffed Artichoke: a solution for leftover stuffing

What’s prickly on the outside, but tender and buttery on the inside? An artichoke, of course. Artichokes are one of my all-time favorite vegetables. And yes, I do end up dunking mine in a whole lot of butter most of the time, but on occasion I have turned these little flowers into a meal by stuffing them with what else…stuffing!

It’s the perfect solution to what to do with leftover stuffing, if you end up with any, that is. Once you have the stuffing cooked, just pry open your prepared artichoke and fill the leaves to the brim and bake it off. Pretty simple and a wholle lot of fun for the kids (and grown ups) to eat.

Shopping List:

4 medium-sized fresh artichokes, with stems and leaves trimmed

1 1/3 cups of leftover stuffing (click here for my Bacon Apple Stuffing)

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

Instructions:

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.After trimming the artichokes, pull the lower two or three layers of leaves out and down a bit so that you can shove in the stuffing. You’ll end up breaking a few of the leaves, but that’s okay. Just make sure they all stay attached or it will end up pretty messy.

the before picture, notice how the one on the right the leaves have been separated a bit.

3. With a small spoon nudge in about a tablespoon of stuffing on each leaf. Try to use about 1/3 of a cup of stuffing per artichoke. If you like cheese, a tablespoon of mozzarella over each is a nice touch too.

4. Once stuffed place them in a dutch oven (or a deep casserole dish) with about an inch of water at the bottom.

5. Then bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until leaves will be easy to pull.

Serves 4.

Bacon and Apple Stuffing

I’m not totally sure why stuffing is just reserved for Thanksgiving. I think people must perceive it as a dish that is either decadent or complicated. It certainly does not require an advanced degree, but it definitely can be an indulgence.

And, we love stuffing at our house. It’s such good stuff we gobble it up year-round. And because I’ve made both the boxed version and the scratch version, I’ve realized that it’s a lot simpler to just make a homemade one that I can improve upon with all my favorite herbs.

Shopping List:

4 cups of toasted bread torn (I used 4 dinner rolls and toasted them, but you can also use sliced bread that you’ve toasted)

1 onion, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

4 slices of bacon, chopped

1 granny smith apple, diced

1 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary (or sage if you prefer)

1/4 cup apple juice

Instructions:

1. In a large saute pan over medium heat cook the bacon until it is cooked, but not crispy yet. This will take about 5-7 minutes.

2. Do not drain the grease from the bacon, and just pop in your veggies and saute them for an additional 5 minutes, or until the onions are browned.

3. Take it off the heat and stir in seasoning.

4. Then spoon in the juice slowly, until it is absorbed into the bread, but don’t let the bread get mushy. Taste for seasonings and add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Serves: 4

Gingersnap Syrup

I know many people go crazy for the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks when it comes out in October, but to me it’s really the Gingerbread Latte that sparks my holiday spirit. I just can’t resist that rich spiciness that comes with the ginger and cinnamon concoction, and of course it’s really the caffeine that gets me going.

Somehow the flavors seem to fool my brain into thinking that I’m eating a gingerbread cookie. What’s not to love about the aroma of some warm spices filling your head to get you going in the morning.

So imagine my surprise and excitement when I was perusing a recent Vegetarian Times magazine and a recipe for Gingersnap Latte syrup popped up. Yay! Now I can make my own lattes, get in the spirit and save a few bucks in the process. Enjoy!

Shopping List:

1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 dash ground cloves (optional, I didn’t have any)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. In a small sauce pot combine the molasses, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves with 1 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.

2. Remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Cool and store in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

3. To make the latte, spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of the syrup into a mug, add 6 ounces of coffee or 2 shots of espresso and top with warmed milk and whipped cream if you like.

For a kids version, my kids (and I did too) really enjoyed the syrup mixed with some warm milk; we called it Gingerbread Milk.

Recipe from: Vegetarian Times

Simple Technique: Marinara Sauce

My first memories of cooking are with my Grandma.

We would walk into her home on Sunday, and the smell of garlic would fill your nostrils; it would make your mouth water the moment you entered the door. We would find her rolling out dough to make the Sicilian style pizza, and she would enlist my help.

It is only fitting that I post this recipe today since her 96th birthday would have been tomorrow. As I been delving into this adventure in food blogging I think of those recipes that remind me of her often. Thanks Grandma for tempting my palate.

The basics of any Italian, family meal is in the marinara sauce. There’s no need to buy that jarred stuff. Sauce is not a complex thing. It’s pretty simple, in fact. When you make your own you can control the flavor and the quality. And of course, when you make a batch it smells like love.

Shopping List:

3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

2 smashed garlic cloves

28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes in puree

29 oz. can of tomato puree

1 tablespoon Italian herbs

½ tsp. kosher salt

Instructions:

1. Place all ingredients in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer covered on low heat for 20-30 minutes for flavors to develop.

Makes 8 cups. Store in 2 cup portions in freezer safe zippered bags.

Stovetop Mac n’ Cheese Laced with Blue Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is one of those dishes that is super versatile.Yes. It is the hot entrée to revamp, but in my book a creamy mac n cheese doesn’t really need much to improve it, so this is just to mix it up a bit.

The awesome part is that once you get the recipe down it really is a super fast supper. The measurements and ingredients are totally easy to memorize . Equal parts milk and cheese, and then  equal parts butter and flour, a little salt and pepper is all it takes for the basic version. Amp it up with whatever else your heart desires, and you’ve got a simple side dish or a kid-friendly dinner in the time it takes to cook pasta. Oh yeah, of course then there’s no excuse to resort to the watery flourescent-orange colored standard in a box.

Shopping List:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup blue cheese

sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheddar and 2 tablespoon blue cheese

Instructions:

1. In a bring a medium sauce pot of water to a boil. Add 2 cups of dry pasta to the water. And cook it according to the directions.

2. In a separate medium sauce pot on medium-high heat add the butter and the garlic. Once the butter melts stir in the flour and let it cook for a minute until it is a thick paste and a light brown color.

3. Slowly add the milk to the pot and let it come to a simmer. It should be hot, but not boiling. Make sure to stir it few times during the 5 minutes this will take. At this stage remove the garlic.

4. Take the pot off the heat and gently stir in the cheeses and pepper until the mixture is smooth.

5. Right around this point your timer is probably going off to drain your noodles. Go ahead and do that and then pop them right in the pot with the cheese sauce. Stir it all to coat it evenly. Place it in a serving bowl and top with the remaining cheeses.

NOTE:  If you plan to make this ahead of time for a party, place it in a greased glass or ceramic baking dish and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When the time comes to reheat it, set the pan on the counter for half and hour. Cover it with tin foil. Bake at 300 degrees for about an hour or until warm through. Then you can top it with  extra cheese, or breadcrumbs if you’re one of those.

Candy Bar Cookies

If you haven’t noticed, I’m not much of a baker. I don’t really crave sweets like many people do. Sure, I like them and sometimes I certainly can’t resist a good creme brule.

But the reality is there is way to much Chemistry involved in baking for me. Since most of my cooking tends to be a creative outlet for me, I find baking way too rigid for my personality. As a result most of my baking recipes tend to be pretty simple and so I end up just  following a recipe.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling the creative energy every day, and some days I just want to follow directions. Life seems to be much simpler when you just follow directions.

So this is about as creative as I can get with baking because when I do try to invent new ones it just doesn’t turn out well. Here I’ve adapted the Toll House Cookie recipe and instead of chocolate chips, I cut up various snack-sized candy bars and tossed them in the dough. They turned out wonderfully chewy with a variety of tastes and textures to satisfy the palate. I would warn you that you should try to mix the milk duds into the dough more than I did because they tend to melt and ooze out the sides, or the centers, for that matter.

Shopping List:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

2 1/2 cups cut-up candy bars (I used all snack-sized bars: 4 Almond Joy; 4 boxes of Milk  Duds; 4 Reese’s Peanut Butter cups; 4 Snickers; 4 Twix; 4 Hershey Bars )

Instructions:

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

3. In a separate bowl beat the butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add the eggs and beat until combined well.

4. Gradually add in the flour mixture.

5. Stir in the chopped candy bars. (I used kitchen shears to just cut the bars right into the bowl, also try to make them bite-sized pieces.)

6. Drop by rounded tablespoons on to an ungreased baking sheet.

7. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes before moving them to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from: Nestle Toll House