Monday, March 30, 2009

Eggplant Rolitini

This is a fabulous dish that's sort of like a pumped up version of Eggplant Parm. It starts off with fried slices of eggplant, but then it goes further when you roll it up and fill it with ricotta cheese. LOVE that.

2 fairly large eggplants
3 large eggs
2 tbs flour
bread crumbs
oil for frying
Marinara Sauce (or your favorite jarred sauce, or your own)
ricotta cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350F.
Peel eggplant and slice lengthwise into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Arrange slices on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for an hour so the salt will pull out all the bitter juice. Drain well, and pat dry with paper towels.
Mix together the eggs and the flour. Dip eggplant slices into egg mixture, then into bread crumbs. Saute on both sides in hot oil until golden. Place on paper towels to drain excess oil.
Pour a little marinara sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Place a dollop of ricotta cheese in the center of each eggplant slice. Top with a little mozzarella cheese. Roll up the eggplant so that the cheeses are in the center and then place it seam side down in the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Pour a little more marinara sauce on top and sprinkle with some more mozzarella and a little Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

I never cook eggplant without salting it first, just to get rid of the bitter juices. It really makes all the difference in the world. If you're worried about it tasting too salty, just give it a super quick rinse under some running water, but be sure to immediately pat it dry so it doesn't absorb too much water.
The amounts of the cheeses and the sauce aren't specific because it all depends on what you like. Do you like alot? Add alot!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Birthday!!!!!!

Ok, I know it's not Monday, but I decided to do the weekly recipe a little early. Why? Because it's Cooking With Joey's first birthday!!! Yes, believe it or don't, it's been one year since the very first recipe post!! Can you stand it? Time flies, doesn't it? Just one short year ago, Michael posted the very first recipe which was for Peanut Butter and Jelly. Since then, I've tried to cover many sides of the multifaceted art of cooking. And even though I've had to "throttle back" as Michael puts it, I'm still thinking and creating and coming up with new ideas for future posts. Soon I'll have more videos, more tips, more recipes and more creative ideas to share!
Oh, and btw, no birthday celebration would be complete without a cake, right? So, to celebrate my first year, of course I baked a delicious family favorite. I've posted the recipe for all to enjoy!
Big HUGE thanx to everyone who has supported me and contributed recipes! Seriously, I can't thank you enough! Who would've ever thunk that my little hobby would turn into such a fun project? It's really become quite the elaborate production! Hopefully it's as much fun for you as it is for me, and I hope I've inspired one or two of you to cook something and broaden your culinary horizons!!

Here's to many more years!


Much love,

Bonnie Butter Cake

This is a long time family favorite and comes to us from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. It's delicious and moist and the variations are limitless. This one was layered with a glossy lemony cream cheese icing. You can go with a rich fudge frosting or simply dust it with powdered sugar. It's also my "go to" cake whenever anyone requests a strawberry shortcake. Layer it with some whipped cream and fresh strawberries and you're good to go!

1 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 2 9" layer pans. Set aside. Mix sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Beat on high speed, scraping bowl occasionally, 5 minutes. Beat in flour, baking powder and salt alternately with milk on low speed. Pour into pan. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Cool completely before assembling with your choice of frosting.

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can bake it in any of several different cake pans. 2 9" layer pans, 3 8" layer pans, a 9x13 pan, a tube or Bundt pan, even muffin tins! Just be sure to adjust your baking time. Oblong pans will take about 10 minutes longer, smaller pans or muffin cups will take about 10 minutes less. You'll know that it's done if the top springs back when lightly tapped.
Oh, and on another important note, I recently read that a woman who is diabetic uses this recipe and swaps out the sugar for a sugar substitute and the recipe still works out fine!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spicy Baked French Fries

A few weeks ago, Aniell was visiting, and we decided to order cheese steaks for dinner. After we placed the order for delivery, we realized we didn't order any fries. So, instead of calling back to adjust the order, I decided to just make a quick batch. Aniell LOVED them. I think he ate more fries than cheese steak! I thought, wow, doesn't anyone ever MAKE fries anymore? Apparently not. All anyone ever does is buy a bag of frozen ones, and pop them in the oven. It's totally not the same! And seriously, does it really take that much longer to make them yourself???? Um, no. It doesn't. So, that settles it. If you've never made fries at home, you simply must. There's just no comparison!

4 large red potatoes
drizzle of vegetable oil
salt and pepper
any combination of spices:
garlic powder
chili powder
onion powder
cayenne pepper
old bay

Preheat oven to 400F.
Wash potatoes and dry them thoroughly. Cut potatoes into wedges, or French fries. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle`with oil. Sprinkle with as much and as many of your favorite spices as you like. Using your impeccably clean hands, gently toss until well coated with oil and spices and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning once about halfway through. Serve immediately.

If you like a much crispier potato, go ahead and leave them in the oven for a little while longer. Just be sure to keep an eye on them so as not to burn them.
You can bake them peeled or unpeeled. It's your call. I think they're more appetizing with the peels on. Just my preference.
To speed up the cooking process, place whole potatoes in the microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes, then cut into fries and proceed as directed.
Of course, you can also deep fry them, but that would require MUCH more oil instead of using just the little drizzle required for baking them.
For a different variation, omit the spices altogether and just bake them plain. Then when you remove them from the oven, sprinkle with kosher salt and a little vinegar.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Creamed Onions

 This little side dish is another piece of my childhood. Many people like it with a turkey dinner, but I like it just as much with roast beef, which is how my mother always served it. They're so tasty, especially if you have a little bit of gravy mingling with the cream sauce on your plate. I love that! Serve some mashed potatoes and a green veggie. Boom, there's your home cooked meal.
So there you have it. Perfect for a Sunday roast beef, special enough for Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
Try 'em! I think you'll be amazed at how tasty they are!!

1 jar or can (about 15 1/2 ounces) small white onions, (not pickled). drain, reserve 1 tbs liquid
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
pinch ground nutmeg
dry bread crumbs

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in flour until smooth. Place over low heat. Gradually add reserved onion liquid and milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions, salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Heat thoroughly. Transfer to a small casserole. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and place under the broiler until nicely browned on top.

For extra crunchy bread crumbs:
Throw some regular sandwich bread into a food processor and process until they're course crumbs. Add about 2 tbs olive oil and stir until well coated. Then place crumbs on a baking sheet and place in a 350F oven just until the crumbs begin to brown.

I've also heard of adding a splash of Sherry or a little mustard, but I've never tried either of them.
You can use fresh or frozen pearl onions instead of the canned or jarred onions. Just simmer them until tender in enough liquid to cover (plain water, or any kind of stock), then reserve a little of the simmering liquid.
 Add some Parmesan cheese to your bread crumbs for an extra flavorful top crust! Great then.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Roast Beef

My friends are always SO impressed whenever I cook a roast beef for them, but honestly, it's one of the easiest things you can make. There's nothing to it! It's really as easy as popping it in the oven and cooking it until it's done. Simple, right? This is how my mother taught me to make it, and I've never made it any other way. Give it a try! I know you'll love it.

3-4 lb boneless beef roast (rump roast or eye roast)
lots of mustard
lots of garlic salt
lots of pepper

Heat oven to 350F.
Place beef roast in a shallow casserole dish or roasting pan. Generously slather the entire roast with mustard. Top with generous amounts of garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in oven. Let it roast (uncovered) for about 20 minutes per pound. Remove from oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Slice and serve.

Whatever you do, don't cut it before you let it rest. All the juices will run out and you'll end up with a dry roast beast.
I like the beef to be slightly pink in the center. To test for doneness, just give it a press with your finger. It should be firm but give just a little. Not too squishy and not hard like a brick.
You can use any kind of mustard or combination of mustards. Just be sure to slather it on so it completely covers the whole roast.
I've also used onion salt or regular kosher salt instead of the garlic salt.
Oh and one other thing...I know this seems obvious, but I'll say it anyway...If you're not sure how many pounds of beef you have, simply weigh it or just look on the package. The weight is listed right on the butcher's label!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Reen's Slow and Easier Chicken Provençal

This yummy recipe was made for me by my sister Reen. She and Billy brought it to me recently when they stopped by for a visit. I'm SO grateful that she typed up the recipe for me, (despite having a finger injury).
Thanx Been!

Hey Joey-
This recipe is from my "Slow & Easy" cookbook, but I tweaked it a bit to make it "Slow & Easier." There's a little comma thing attached to the C in "Provençal," but all you need to know is that it is a soft C, as in "Sal", not a hard C, as in "Kal." Those French have a different word for everything.
Since, by shredding the chicken, I turned it more into a stew, I served it over pasta (rotelle) instead of as an entree.
It's not as complicated as it looks and, if you remove the chicken skin, it's low-fat too. Bon Appetit!

4 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (I used split breasts)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra as needed
1 medium onion, minced
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs. minced fresh thyme (which I used, because I had the thyme and the time)
1 tbs. minced fresh oregano (I used dry, because I didn't have fresh and didn't have the time)
1 tsp. Herbes de Provence (optional, but I recommend it)
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and minced (didn't use, but would have, if I had it)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbs. tomato paste
1 tbs. flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. grated zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup pitted nicoise olives (I didn't have the olives, so I used 1/2 cup capers instead and loved it that way. Olives, capers - salty, green, same thing)
1 tbs. minced fresh parsley (had it, used it, loved it)

1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbs oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until smoking (the chicken, not you). Brown half of chicken on both sides, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to large plate and repeat with remaining half.
2. Pour off all but 1 tbs of fat in pot, add onion , 1/4 tsp. salt and cover until softened, 5-7 min. Stir in garlic, thyme, oregano, Herbes de Provence, anchovy, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the wine, scraping up the browned bits, then slowly whisk in the broth until smooth. Stir in the tomatoes and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.
3. Nestle the chicken, along with accumulated juices, into the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 1 hour. (I did this part in a crock pot, put it on low for 4 hours, because, again, I didn't have the time.)
4. It says to transfer the chicken to a serving platter, but I pulled the chicken off the bones and shredded it. Tent loosely with foil while finishing the sauce. Skim off the fat from the liquid. Stir in 1 tsp. lemon zest, bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4-6 minutes. Discard bay leaves, stir in olives (capers) and shredded chicken, and let sit for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, toss with remaining 1/2 tsp. zest and parsley.

Tip from Joey:
If you choose dried herbs instead of fresh ones, just use half as much, since dried herbs are more potent. I'd highly recommend choosing fresh flat leaf parsley, though, instead of dried. There's just no comparison.