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Here we are- recipes 7 & 8!  This makes up for my miss/fail in May and April, right?  No pictures in this write up either, as both the blogs I got these recipes from have way better photos then I could have taken, and I was too busy cooking up a storm to pick up my camera!  These recipes served as a great Birthday Dinner with family and friends on a Saturday night.  Sure I spent a good portion in the kitchen with the Tikka Masala, but sitting down at the table to hear their sounds of enjoyment made it worth it.

First the easy one- Cheese Straws.  I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and knew I had to make it while I was home with time on my hands and people who were happy to eat what I was making.

Wow this recipe was easy.  Grate some cheese, cut up some butter, throw it in a food processor and you’re in action.  The hardest part was cutting up the straws.  I used a knife at first, but wasn’t pleased with the results- so I pulled out my Mom’s pastry cutter, or maybe it was a ravioli cutter, and the process was much much easier.  As she explains these will/can break- don’t let it discourage you- people like mini ones too because then it doesn’t feel like what they’re eating is so bad.  They took a little longer in the oven than stated in the recipe- so be ready for that.  I doubled the recipe and a good thing too, because as a Jew you don’t have enough unless there are leftovers- and there were a few left.  Phew.

These were a huge hit.  Like, seriously huge.  People couldn’t believe that I had made them, and that I was cooking dinner too.  But they are that easy!  Finish reading this post and go make some.

On to the main course.  This recipe is easy, really it is, but it does take some prep.  Again, I doubled (kind of) the recipe (I didn’t double the rice, that’s a lot of rice Pastor Ryan!)  First, here’s the link on Pioneer Woman’s site.

The chicken was a piece of cake- coat it in yogurt and stick it under a broiler- beautiful.  I had never used his method of the cooling rack on a pan- but it worked brilliantly.  I wasn’t afraid of the chicken being undercooked since I’d be tossing it in a hot sauce later, so don’t be a wuss and overcook it- dry chicken is no good!  It will sit for a few minutes anyway, and cook during that time.

Now the hard part.  Get your cutting board and knife ready.  I chopped the onion, I garlic pressed the garlic (leaving the skin on, who knew, this has changed my cooking life), I chopped some cilantro, I chopped some hot pepper, I chopped some ginger and I waited to put it all together.  I used two pans since I didn’t have one big enough to accomodate double this saucy recipe- that made things a little harder since I was guessing on splitting the ingredients between the two (they weren’t evenly split).  Luckily my Mom had some old Indian spices, including Tumeric for the rice, so I didn’t have to search NH for any, or make my own.  Because of their age, I wasn’t as exact in the measurements.

Overall- this is a lot of prep, to stir and let sit a deliciously smelling sauce.  Seriously, your whole house will smell great and people will ooh and ahh over it.

And then it was done, and it was darker than Pastor Ryan’s, so I was a little worried.  People loved it, I mean LOVED it.  They kept going on and on about it.  I didn’t love it.  I think over spicing this to make up for the age of the spice mixture meant a lot more cumin than I like (I don’t like any).  I kind of thought people were just being nice with their praise- but they seem to love Cumin, thank God.  I will make this again, it was delicious besides the Cumin and the rice was great too (and easy even if you don’t have a rice cooker).  I will use less of the spices next time.  I was kind of disappointed that my color was so much darker, but it also meant this didn’t taste overly creamy or oily like some Tikka Masala from a restaurant can.

So, give it a whirl if you’re feeling adventurous.  It is a crowd pleaser, and pretty easy to make for a large dinner party.

I stress ate my way through April and May, so not a lot of great cooking was going on.

Moving on…

June!

This weekend was good for trying new things without a recipe.

Saturday night I defrosted some shrimp from Whole Foods I had gotten weeks ago and never used, and was determined to cook them.  I’m a little scared of cooking seafood, and shrimp too- I need shrimp to be just right for me to enjoy them.  Just right.

I tossed these little suckers in some Drew’s Italian Dressing and threw ’em on the Gridle that Matt was searing a nice peice of meat on.  They cooked up quickly, and I “patting self on back” took them off in perfect time.  I ate them up greedily with some steamed snap peas and fresh bread with olive tapenade.  YUM.  I will definitely be making shrimp again, and have a recipe I’d like to try out for them!

Tonight, we wanted something light and I needed to pick some basil (so the plants keep prospering!) and had bought a pack of mixed heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s so a quick trip to the store yielded a ball of mozzerella and away we went!  I chopped up the tomatoes, mozzerella and basil, tossed it all with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar added S&P and it was done.  So easy, and so delightful.  A delicious summer treat, that could only have been made better if they were homegrown tomatoes, someday!

So we’re off and running here again with my resolution- I’ve got a week in NH coming up and some cooking should get done!

Heirloom Tomato SaladOh yeah, I made some cookies too- I’ve made this recipe before- second one on the page- so yummy and chocolatey!

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After my success with roasted red peppers earlier in the week, I was excited to have them again.  My Mom mentioned having made this recipe over the weekend and how delicious it was, so she sent it over.

YUM.  It is a lovely, easy, great tasting meal that is healthy too!  Basically, Peppers, Onions, Chicken and Tomatoes.  Can’t go wrong, right?

Matt roasted the red peppers and did a great job.

The real secret is letting this sit and stew for a while so the vegetables get nice and stewed and the chicken stays moist while soaking up all the flavors.

Here’s the recipe:

Delizie di Pollo con Peporoni (Chicken Morsels with Peppers)

Serves 4

4 large yellow bell peppers

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts cut in to bite-sized pieces

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup olive oil

1 onion chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons finely minced garlic

2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips, juices reserved.

Roast the peppers- there are a lot of ways to do this.  So far I’ve just been putting them on a pan in the oven for 20-30 minutes cut up.  I want to try whole next.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.  Warm the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat.  Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, if using (I used it it really helps make the dish I think), the garlic, the bell peppers and the tomato strips and their juices.  Simmer until the chicken in tender, 20-25 minutes.

The tomatoes I had weren’t great, so I can’t wait to try this again with really ripe and fresh tomatoes.

Kate brought some Trader Joe’s polenta to go with it, we sliced it and threw it in the oven for a few minutes- it was perfect!

This will definitely be a recipe I’ll make again.

Morsels

I knew I’d make up for my failing in January by cooking extra in February, and I did!  This is my 7th new recipe of the month, and it feels great!

We had some friends over for a post Bar Exam celebration on Wednesday night so I decided it would be a great time to open up the cookbook and choose a new recipe.  I pulled out my Whole Foods Cookbook since I knew I could shop there Wednesday afternoon.  First I wanted to try a Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken, but there were two goat cheese lovers and two goat cheese haters (I’m a lover, I can’t get enough of the stuff) so that was nixed.  I turned the page and found this recipe and knew it would be easy and yummy.  Luckily Matt is a recent cilantro convert so we had all Lovers in the bunch.

Whole Foods had great looking shrimp so I picked it up fresh, otherwise I probably would have used frozen.  I’ll be honest, I could tell the difference from when I’ve had both.  This shrimp was very pure and fresh tasting.

Basically for this recipe you do minimal chopping, the green onions and halving the cilantro and let the blender do the work.  The paste came out perfectly.  I layered it over the shrimp and stuck it in the fridge.  While I marinated I threw some Trader Joe’s fingerling potatoes in the oven with EVOO, S&P.  It was great to have the time to let them just roast.

After an hour the shrimp went in the pan, I ended up turning up the heat to high because it wasn’t cooking fast enough on Med-High- I think all the paste slowed down the heating process.

I plattered it all with the avocado, tomatoes and cilantro on top.  They were a great compliment to the shrimp and tasted great all paired together.  The one thing lacking was heat.  Next time I would leave the jalapeno seeds in, and might even throw another one in to the blender.  I also left out the cumin since I’m not a fan and swapped in cayenne – I couldn’t even taste the cayenne.

This recipe was so easy, it will definitely be a staple going forward- especially when I can get to Whole Foods at lunch for their great fresh ingredients!

Serves 6 (I served 4 with 1.5 pounds of larger shrimp)

Ingredients

1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
1/3 cup sliced or whole almonds
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
6 green onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and halved
2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 small avocado, thinly sliced
6 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Method

Set aside 6 sprigs of cilantro for garnish. Put remaining cilantro, almonds, 2 tablespoons of the oil, cumin, green onions, garlic, jalapeños, and 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute.

Arrange shrimp in a wide, shallow dish and spread cilantro paste over them. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and salt, and stir a few more times to scrape up any browned bits.

Transfer shrimp to a platter and garnish with reserved cilantro, avocados, and tomatoes.  (You really shouldn’t leave those out, they all pair really nicely together)

YUM

So last night I decided to just open to a page in my Gourmet cookbook and cook whatever it was.  The recipe below is what it opened to and I was excited!  I had never made biscuits before and ones with cheddar and scallion sounded great.  I also love using ground turkey for all kinds of things so I was looking forward to trying out a new way of cooking it.

I checked out the recipe online today and saw a lot of mixed reviews, so I got a litte scared.  I’m glad I read them though because I got a couple of good ideas for substitutions.  First, the recipe:

yield: Makes 8 servings

active time: 40 min

total time: 1 3/4 hr (includes making biscuits)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 lb ground turkey (not labeled “all breast meat”)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (28- to 32-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Tabasco, or to taste
  • Cheddar buttermilk biscuits

Preparation

Heat oil in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add turkey and sauté, stirring occasionally and breaking up large lumps with a wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.

Purée tomatoes with juice, ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco in a blender until smooth. Add to turkey and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve turkey sloppy joes on split Cheddar buttermilk biscuits.

yield: Makes 8 biscuits

active time: 15 min

total time: 40 min

These drop biscuits are as tender as they are easy; since the dough isn’t rolled out, there’s no chance of overworking it.
var recipeIntroText = “These drop biscuits are as tender as they are easy; since the dough isn’t rolled out, there’s no chance of overworking it. <p>\r\nThis recipe is an accompaniment for <epi:recipeLink id\”230464\”>Turkey Sloppy Joes on Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits</epi:recipeLink>.”;

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal (preferably stone-ground; not coarse)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups well-shaken buttermilk

Preparation

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Butter 1 large baking sheet.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheeses and scallions with a wooden spoon, then add buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Drop dough in 8 equal mounds about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool to warm, about 10 minutes, then cut in half horizontally.

Cooks’ notes: You can use 2 small baking sheets instead of 1 large. Bake biscuits in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking. Biscuits can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat in a preheated 350°F oven 10 minutes.

So- what did I do?

I used a can of tomato paste, and I used pureed tomatoes instead of whole so I didn’t have to use the blender.  I just poured all the ingredients in to a medium bowl and stirred together.

I sprinkled in some cayenne pepper and some chili spice without cumin so the turkey had a kick to it which was nice.  I will say that the turkey isn’t packed with flavor- that probably has to do with me not using any dark meat and the overwhelming amount of tomatoes in this recipe.  However, it worked well because the Cheddar Biscuits were nice and flavorful.
The biscuits were so easy to make, I was surprised and I will definitely be making them again.

This recipe does take a little while to make, but I think it is a great easy weekly recipe and it would work well for kids and families in general.  We’ll be having it for dinner tomorrow night too and freezing the rest!

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