Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Devils on Horseback with a Kick

Happy Halloween!

Mr. T came in from the garden with a couple handfuls of jalapeños.  He wandered around the kitchen trying to decide what to do with them....then it came to him, "What would Big Dude do?"  Mr. T has taken to following Larry's blog, Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings.  Larry is a fun guy who likes to cook and likes to travel.  Pay him a visit if you haven't already....

Mr. T reached in the refrigerator and pulled out the bacon and a container of dates.  He then began to seed the dates, sliver the jalapeño, and cut the bacon slices in half.  He then stuffed each date with a sliver of jalapeno and then wrapped the bacon around the date.  He used a toothpick to secure the bacon and placed each "bite" into a baking dish.  The little devils were baked in the oven at 425 degrees F.

I have been in the Czech Republic, Germany, and France since the 15th but I will be home late today with great foods to share!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Capellini with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce

Have you ever cooked with sweet vermouth?  I hadn't until now.  In fact, didn't even know that there was such a thing as sweet vermouth....I have always used dry vermouth and I guess I never looked past the label on the bottle that I was picking up.  That said, I knew I had to make this just to try sweet vermouth...

First, sweet does not mean sugary sweet.  The vermouth smoothed the edge off of the canned tomatoes...if that makes sense, and gave a richness to the sauce.   It was a very nice meal...very quick....very easy.

I found the recipe on Epicurious, while looking for something else.  Isn't that always the case?  I would be very careful with the recipe's heat recommendations.  Shrimp cook quickly and garlic burns quickly...voice of, I suggest a medium heat, not medium-high...  Each stove is a little different so use your best judgement when cooking the shrimp and garlic....

Capellini with Shrimp 
and Creamy Tomato Sauce
Gourmet, April 2008

3 Tbsp olive oil
a lb peeled large shrimp
3 large garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup sweet (red) vermouth
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 lb capellini (angel-hair pasta)

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook shrimp and garlic with oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes total.  Stir in vermouth and tomatoes, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet.  Add cream and briskly simmer until sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute.  Stir in lemon juice.

Meanwhile, cook capellini in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.  (If necessary, thin the sauce with some of the pasta water.)

Serve immediately topped with shrimp and sauce.


I love pasta and I love shrimp...this was a hit!   The leftovers were great too!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not Your Mother's Meatloaf, Revisted

There are recipes that are just worth repeating.  When you think about it, those recipes are just like a good book, you don't "use it up".  Books and recipes are always worth repeating and there is just as much enjoyment the second time as there was the first time!

That is the way I feel about this particular meatloaf recipe.  It took me a long time to find a meatloaf recipe that I enjoyed.  I steered away from meatloaf for many years as I thought that my mom's Lipton soup concoction was the only way to prepare it....that recipe never appealed to me.
You can read about that, here.

Not Your Mother's Meatloaf!
Inspired by Wives with Knives and the Tasting Table

2 Tbsp extra virgin  olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic,  crushed
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp chili powder
Salt and freshly ground black  pepper
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
2 eggs
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/8 tsp hot sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
4 slices of bacon

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a medium skillet set over medium heat, heat the oil and cook the onion and garlic until soft, 5to 7 minutes.  Stir in the ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp chili powder, and 1/2 tsp  dry mustard.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, cooked onion and ketchup mixture, eggs, and thyme.  Add the panko and milk and mix well.

Lightly grease a loaf pan or baking sheet with 1 Tbsp melted butter.

Make the glaze.  In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the ketchup chili powder, Worcestershire Sauce, hot sauce, brown sugar and any butter remaining after lightly greasing the pan.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Form the meat mixture into a log and place it on the baking sheet or in the loaf  pan.  Lightly coat the top with some glaze.  Lay the bacon slices across the loaf lengthwise with the pieces touching each other.

Place in the oven and bake until the meat is firm, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending upon the oven.  I tested it with the meat thermometer. The last 15 minutes of baking spread half of the glaze over the top of the bacon and increase the oven temperature to 375° F.   Remove from the oven and set aside to cool just a little before slicing.  Serve with the remaining glaze.


Monday, October 22, 2012

World's Best Mac and Cheese

It is Secret Recipe Club time!  You remember, it's where participating bloggers are assigned a blog with the challenge of identifying a recipe, preparing it and then posting on a designated day.  I was really excited to be assigned Alli 'n Sons!  She uses the descriptor:  Motherhood, Baking and Boys with a Side of cute!  How she does everything being "up to her armpits" with two busy young men, I don't know.  Three cheers for Alli!!!

While chocolate is a popular ingredient on Alli 'n Sons, I couldn't take my eyes from the World's Best Mac and Cheese!  Who cares that, like Alli, I could not find Beecher's artisan cheeses? Alli said she was able to substitute with brands in her area and felt great about the results so I decided that I would do the same.  I think it is the touch of chipotle chili powder that sends this over the top...along with white cheddar...and Gruyere...both favorites of mine.

World's Best Mac and Cheese
adapted from Beecher's Mac and Cheese and Alli 'n Sons

Serves 4

Preheat oven: 350° F.
Butter an 8" casserole dish for four

Beecher's Flagship Cheese Sauce 
(Makes about four cups)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
14 ounces semi-hard cheese, such as Beecher's Flagship, grated (about 3 1/2 cups)
2 ounces semi-soft cheese, such as Beecher's Just Jack
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour.  Continue whisking and cooking for two minutes.  Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.  Cook until the sauce thickens about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from the heat.  Add the cheese, salt, chili powder and garlic powder.  Stir until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about three minutes.  Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to three days.
NOTE:  A single batch of sauce makes enough for a double recipe of macaroni and cheese.

6 ounces penne pasta

2 cups Beecher's Flagship Sauce
1 ounce cheddar, grated (1/4 cup)
1 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder

Cook the penne two minutes less than package directions.  (It finishes in the oven.)  Rinse the pasta in cold water and set aside.

Combine cooked pasta and 2 cups Flagship Sauce in a medium bowl and mix carefully but thoroughly.  Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with the cheeses and then the chili powder.  Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Let sit for five minutes before serving.

Note:  If the recipe is doubled, use a 9 X 13 inch pan and bake for 30 minutes.


Mr. T and I loved this Mac and Cheese.  Since my daughter lives in Seattle, I am going to pay them a visit the next time I am there.... When I make this again, I think I will order the cheese on-line, just for fun!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

When I go to a Mexican restaurant, I always seem to order chicken enchiladas with green sauce.  They are my favorite.  I usually make them after the holidays to use up leftover turkey.  It has become a traditional meal around here.

I saw a recipe the other day for enchiladas with green sauce but using hamburger just didn't sound as good to me.  So, I decided to switch out the hamburger for chicken..what appealed to me in the original recipe were the roasted tomatillos and jalapenos that were in the sauce....of course, there has to be a bit of a Rick Bayless influence...he is the best!

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
adapted from Fine Cooking and Rick Bayless

1 lb tomatillos (about 12 medium), husked and rinsed
3 jalapenos, stemmed and halved lengthwise (seeded, if you like)
1 medium white onion, cut into large chunks
3 garlic cloves
2/3 cup chopped cilantro, divided
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 Mexican creme, creme fraiche or heavy whipping cream
About 2 cups of coarsely shredded cooked chicken, grilled, roasted, or rotisserie
2/3 cup shredded Mexican melting cheese (quesadilla, asadero, or any similar), Monterey Jack, or mild cheddar
12 corn tortillas

Make the sauce
Roast the tomatillos, sliced onion, peeled garlic and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a hot broiler until the tomatillos are soft and blotchy black on one side, 4-5 minutes.  Turn everything over and roast the other side.  Remove and reduce the oven temperature to 350° F.

Scrape the tomatillo mixture into a blender, along with 1/2 cup cilantro.  Process to a smooth puree.  Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in a medium-large pot over medium high heat. When the oil is hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle, add the puree all at once.  Stir constantly for several minutes until darker and thicker.  Add the broth and the crema, reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  (You want a soupy consistency.)  Taste and season with salt.

Put the chicken in a bowl and stir in 1/2-3/4 cup of the sauce mixture into it.

Finishing the enchiladas
Smear about 1 cup sauce over the bottom of the large casserole dish.  Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet (or 2) and lightly brush or spray both sides of the tortillas with oil  Bake just to warm them through and soften, about 3 minutes.  Stack the tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Working quickly so the tortillas remain warm and pliable, roll a portion of the chicken and a bit of shredded cheese up in each tortilla, then line them up in the baking dish.  Pour the remaining sauce, evenly, over the enchiladas and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Bake until the enchiladas are heated through, about 15 minutes.  Garnish with onion rings and remaining cilantro.



I am participating in Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tequila Lime Chicken

While cruising through my favorite blogs, I spotted a recipe that sounded really great....maybe it was the hot weather and the thought of a frosty margarita came to mind, maybe it was the hot weather and a margarita over with ice came to mind...either way, I knew I was making this chicken!

Mari from Once Upon a Plate posted this recipe and commented about the wonderful flavors and tender chicken.  The original recipe belongs to Ina Garten and was adapted by Mari.  She said that she has prepared the meal at least three times!  With that, I was sold...if it is on the rotation, it has to be good!  Like Mari, I had boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand so that is what I used.

Tequila Lime Chicken
adapted from Mari at Once Upon a Plate

Serves 6

  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 split boneless, skinless chicken breasts


Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate overnight. (The citrus will begin the cooking process so I would suggest not marinating them any longer than overnight.)
Heat a grill with coals and brush the rack with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and grill them for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from the grill to a plate. Cover tightly and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.


The next time I prepare this recipe I will make some Mexican Rice and Pot Beans to accompany it!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Contingency Plan: Upside Down Apple Pie

 Everybody needs a contingency plan.  I knew that I was going to need one when I set out to make the Spiced Apple Pie.  As I mentioned in the earlier post, making pies is not something that I ever rush to do.  My pie crusts have had more fatal accidents than I care to mention.  Anytime something is fatal, it is best to avoid it!

But, being brave, I set out on the Crazy Cooking Challenge...I was going to make an Apple Pie....and, I had a contingency plan.

I knew when I saw the recipe for Upside Down Apple Pie at Cathy's blog, Noble Pig, that all would be well.  I would either have two yummy pies to eat or one accident and one yummy upside down pie to eat.  Success was in my future!

Upside Down Apple Pie

6 Tbsp butter, melted & divided
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, or halves
2 refrigerated pie crusts
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored & cut into 1/2" slices

Preheat oven:  375° F.

Coat a pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. Coat the paper with cooking spray also.  (A regular pie plate works well here as there is not a lot of hangover for sealing the two crusts together when refrigerated pie crusts are used.) 

In a small bowl combine 4 Tbsp of melted butter, brown sugar and pecans. Mix well and spread evenly over the bottom of the pie plate, on top of the parchment. Place one of the crusts in the pie plate, pressing it firmly against the nut mixture and up the sides of the plate. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and the remaining 2 Tbsp of melted butter. Mix well. Add the apples in and toss gently to coat. Spoon into the pie crust.

Place the second crust over the apple mixture. Trim and fold the edges together to seal and cut some slits in the top of the crust for venting. (All pies, even upside down ones need just a little sugar sprinkled  on sure to brush the crust with some milk first.)

Bake 1 hour or until crust is golden brown. Be certain to place your pie plate on a baking sheet to catch any drips from the pie.  (There will be drips!)

Let the pie cool for 5 minutes and then place a plate that is larger than the pie on top of it and flip it over. Use oven gloves as it will still be hot. Remove the pie plate and gently lift the paper. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.


This was an absolutely wonderful pie!!  The caramel and nuts on the bottom/top had a little crunch and made it seem as though you were eating one of those large, heavenly cinnamon rolls that you get when you take a trip to the beach.  You know the kind...the ones you do not eat very often because you know that you would be eating two days worth of calories!!  Yep, those kind...  Well, this could be the substitute..still the wonderful flavor plus the bonus of apples!!  

What a contingency plan!!

I am participating in Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Banana Blueberry Muffins

Sometimes we are in the mood for a that isn't too sweet, one that says "cozy with a cup of tea"!  These muffins fit the bill....they are moist and perfect for enjoying with a cup of hot tea.

I saw the recipe on Monique's blog, La Table De Nana.  She always posts such lovely pictures and scrumptious recipes.  Reading her blog is a real treat.  If you have not visited her, do take a moment to do so, you won't be disappointed.

Monique's muffins were made with bananas and raspberries....they sounded oh so delicious!   I knew I was going to make them right away as I did have a couple of bananas in need of attention and while I didn't have raspberries, I had blueberries....

Banana Blueberry Muffins

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe mashed bananas or 2 mashed and 3/4-1 cup blueberries
a pinch of salt
2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Cream butter and sugar until light; add pinch of salt; eggs one at a time and then the mashed bananas.
In batches add the flour that you have sifted with the baking soda.
Gently fold in the blueberries.
Bake at 350° F for about 30 minutes. 


What could be more simple?   Muffins for tea in no time at all!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Spiced Apple PIe

And the challenge is:  APPLE PIE....I could only shutter at the thought.  You see, I don't make pies. Well, that's not true.  I don't make pies that involve two crusts...or involve rolling out dough that will go into a pie plate.  Hmmmm....guess I was right the first time.  I don't really make pies.

You can only imagine the knot in my stomach at the thought of this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge:  Apple Pie!  It is as though Tina, at Mom's Crazy Cooking, and the brainchild of this event, jumped inside my head to see what I really avoided cooking...and then she made a list...geeez...she has a list....

Okay, a pie it is.  Apple it is.  A contingency plan, there is!  Armed with my rolling pin, my recipe from 1994, when I last made an apple pie, and Dorie Greenspan's, Baking From My Home to Yours, along with positive comments about baking an apple pie from Monique at La Table De Nana, I marched into the kitchen.

Well, apples, I needed friend had given me a handy dandy apple pealer, slicer and corer that would be perfect for the job....

I read everything that Dorie shared about pie dough to-dos and not-to-dos.....why haven't I read this section before?  Oh, I don't make pies, that is why...

I follow directions really well.  I actually made the dough, rolled the dough, and got it into the pie plate without a disaster!  Thank you, Dorie.....  It all came together and after a sprinkling of raw sugar was ready to pop into the oven.  I was such a happy camper!!

I also followed Dorie's recommendation and sprinkled 2 teaspoons of graham cracker crumbs on the bottom of the crust before adding the apple mixture.  The crumbs will absorb some of the liquid preventing the crust from becoming soggy.  I also rolled the dough out between two pieces of wax paper using the mat diagrams for size.

Spiced Apple Pie
adapted from Bon Appetit, November 1994

Serves 8

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1///4 tsp mace
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
5 Tbsp (about) ice water

3 pounds tart green apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp sugar (I used 1 tsp raw sugar on the top)
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar (I only had dark brown sugar so that is what I used.)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp milk

For the crust
Combine flour, sugar, salt and mace in processor.  Using on/off turns, cut in chilled butter and vegetable shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Gradually blend in enough water by tablespoons to form moist clumps.  Gather dough into ball.  Divide dough into 2 pieces.  Flatten each into disk.  Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.  (Can be prepared 3 days ahead.  Keep refrigerated.  Soften dough slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

For filling
Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400° F.  In large bowl, toss apples with 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon peel, mace, cloves and allspice.

Roll  1 dough disk on lightly floured surface to 12-inch-diameter round.  Transfer to 9-inch-diameter deep dish glass pie plate.  Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch.  Brush edge of crust light with water.  Transfer apple mixture to crust, mounding in the center.  Roll out second dough disk to 12-inch-diameter round.  Place atop apples.   Trim dough overhang to 1 inch:  reserve scraps.  Fold top crust edge under bottom crust edge, pressing to seal.  Crimp edge decoratively.  Cut several slits in crust to allow steam to escape.  Brush crust with milk; sprinkle with 1 tsp sugar (or raw sugar).

Place pie on baking sheet.  Bake until crust is golden brown and juices bubble, covering crust edges with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour 10 minutes.  Transfer pie to rack and cool.


The pie was delicious!!  I am no longer intimated by pie crust!  Yippee....  I shared the pie with some neighbors as I couldn't see Mr. T and me eating the whole thing.  I got a call back from both friends to let me know it was a keeper!!  Mr. T told me it was the best apple pie he had is the spices....Mmmmm....

I love the spiciness of this pie and the flaky crust....I know I said it but I must repeat:  This was a delicious apple pie!!  You will want to make a Spiced Apple Pie....and soon!!


I am participating in the Crazy Cooking Challenge hosted by Tina at Mom's Crazy Cooking.  You may enjoy participating....Tina has a way of knowing your cooking secrets...avoidances....but, that, in part, is what the challenge is about...overcoming those cooking fears but most importantly, preparing a theme based recipe along with fellow-bloggers...enjoying the challenge and sharing the successes and rich recipes that are found!  Take a look at what's cookin'!

I am also sharing at On the Menu Monday hosted by Yvonne at Stone Gable.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Three Bean Bake

 Last week was one busy week.  Thank goodness I am not working...I don't know how I would have fit everything in if I had been...additionally, I was to make a side dish for a church function that would be attended by about one hundred people!  Two of us decided that we would make a baked bean recipe that had been recommended by a friend. She said it was a regular dish prepared for church functions when she lived in Louisiana.

I noticed the vinegar and brown sugar and thought Southern BBQ....must be good!  And, they were!  I wasn't used to sweetened baked beans and thought about making a little sugar adjustment.  That is as far as it went....I thought about it.  When I got to preparing the dish, I totally forgot to do it!!   They were perfect....sweet but not overly sweet for me.  The beans got rave reviews!!

You must be thinking that doesn't make sense....well, to try out the recipe before the event, I made a pot of the beans the week before and thought that they were too sweet.  I made my plans for adjusting and totally forgot to do it!  (I prepared three batches of beans at the same time...three pots, to be certain that there would be enough.) What I did differently was in the preparation.  I let the sauce simmer longer than thickened up nicely, not certain how that would effect the final out come, but they were fine, not too sweet.  Any ideas how it could have made a difference?

Three Bean Bake

4-5 slices bacon, chopped
3 Tbsp bacon drippings from above.
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed (about 1/2 tsp)
3 medium onions, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 - 28 oz can pork & beans(undrained)
1 - 15 oz can cannelini beans (undrained)
1 - 15 oz can black beans (undrained)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup catsup
1 Tbsp prepared mustard

Cook bacon in a large pot.  Remove bacon and drain on paper towels.  Saute onions and garlic in drippings until onions are transparent.

Add remaining ingredients plus the crumbled bacon and pour in 1 1/2 quart casserole or use the same pot.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

If you like a different mixture of bean types, then use what you like; just don't drain them.


It was hard for me not to drain the cannelini and black beans as I always drain canned beans.  I followed the recipe (draining just a smidge....couldn't help myself.)  They were quite a hit.

I made them the day before I needed them allowing the flavors to meld.  I then reheated the beans and placed them in a crock pot to take to the church.  Perfect!!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and Foodie Friday hosted by Diane at Simple Living.