Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jeanie's Homemade Horseradish

My sister, Jeanie, gave me this recipe. I'm not sure where she got it, but like I always say, she's the one who brought it to me, so she's the one who gets the credit. If you're a fan of the regular jarred horseradish, then you MUST try this. It's SO much better! It's really simple to make too. Oh, and it's a great way to clear your sinuses!!!
Thanx My Jeanie!

1 large horseradish root
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tbs. sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tsp. salt

Wash horseradish root well and use a vegetable peeler to remove skin. Wash again. Your eyes will water, your nose will run. Cut horseradish root into small chunks and put into food procesor. Pulse to a fine mince. Add vinegar, sugar and salt. Store in refrigerator in tightly closed jar. Should keep for a few weeks.
Very serious stuff!

The amounts are just guidelines. It all depends on the size of the horseradish root. Usually they're sold in lengths of about 6 inches, which is what was used for this recipe. If you make a larger batch, or if you'd like it to be a little sweeter or a little more sour, simply adjust the amounts of sugar and vinegar accordingly.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Classic Beef Pot Roast

Nothing says 'Mom's home cooking' like a pot roast. It's the perfect comfort food! It satisfies the heartiest of appetites and it's an easy 'fix it and forget it' one-pot dinner.
This is, without a doubt, the best pot roast you'll ever have. I'm not even kidding. It's seriously one of the most delicious things I've cooked in a LONG time. It's fall-apart tender, it's insanely flavorful, and I can't even tell you how good it smells while it's cooking all afternoon. It's just that good. Oh, and if you're new to cooking, this is the recipe for you. If you can cut an onion and open a can of beef broth, you can totally make this!
True story!

a few glugs of olive oil
1 (3-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 cup dry red wine
4 or 5 thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14 oz can low sodium beef broth
splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 lb. bag baby carrots
2 lbs baby red potatoes, rinsed and cut into halves (or quarters)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch Oven or a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chuck roast with salt and pepper. Place the roast in the pot and cook it for 5 minutes on each side, so it becomes nice and brown. Remove roast from pot. Add onion; sauté 8 minutes or until tender.
Add the red wine, thyme sprigs, chopped garlic, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaf to pot; bring to a simmer. Return browned roast to pot. Cover and place in oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Add carrots and potatoes to pot. Baste vegetables with the beef juices. Cover again and bake an additional hour or until vegetables are tender. I like to remove the lid during the last half hour of cooking, just to brown the potatoes and carrots a little bit. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf from pan; discard. Shred meat with 2 forks. Make gravy with remaining juices or just serve roast with vegetables and pour a little of the juice over the top.

To make gravy:
Remove the meat and vegetables from the pot, leaving just the remaining beef juices. Make a slurry of flour and water then add to the juices and whisk until it thickens. I usually don't measure, but if I had to guess I'd say a tablespoon or two of flour to about a half cup water should do it. Oh, and btw, it's important to add the flour to COLD water before you add it to the pot. If you just add flour directly to the pot, it'll seize up into clumps, which is not very appealing at all.

When you're browning the roast in the pot, don't fuss with it. Just place it in the pot and leave it there for 5 minutes. Then do the same thing on the other side. If you fuss with it and keep turning it, it won't brown properly.
This works easily in a crock pot or slow cooker. Just brown the meat and saute the onions as directed, then throw everything into the crock pot and cook it on low for about 8 hours.
Feel free to add other ingredients such as your favorite root vegetables or your favorite variety of mushrooms.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Joey's Red Rice

Here's a meatless rice dish that can be served as a side dish or on its own as an entree. I just threw it together one day, not really following any recipe and it turned out to be really good! I thought, "I seriously need to write this down!" So, here it is. It's not really Italian, and it's not really Mexican, but it IS really DELICIOUS! It's simple and easy too!
Hope you like it!

2 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28oz) can whole tomatoes
1 cup white rice (I use Carolina long grain)
a little extra water

a few shakes of each of the following:
dried oregano
Cajun seasoning
ground cumin
old bay seasoning
kosher salt
black pepper
pinch of sugar

In a large skillet (with a tight fitting lid), place butter, oil, onions and garlic. Saute over medium heat until soft. Stir in seasonings. Continue to saute until the spices infuse into the oil. In the meantime, drain the tomatoes very well, reserving the juice. Chop the tomatoes up a bit and add to the skillet. Let them saute for a few minutes. Add 1 cup uncooked rice to the skillet and give it a good stir. Add enough water to the reserved tomato juice to equal 2 cups. Pour liquid into skillet. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir it halfway through making sure the rice isn't sticking to the bottom.

Vary the seasoning any way you like. Add some heat with any variety of diced chili or hot sauce. Add shredded cooked chicken or pork. There's really no wrong way to do it!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Orange Creamsicle Cake

As I began my search for a fabulous Orange Creamsicle cake, I discovered that many recipes start out with a cake mix and then add orange gelatin. This was NOT what I had in mind. I wanted something with the flavor of FRESH oranges, not something that was artificially "orange flavored". Know what I mean? Not only that, I wanted something with HUGE orange flavor. I wanted to be SLAMMED with intense orangeness at the very first bite. Basically, I wanted to eat an orange in the form of a cake.
Well, Ladies and Gentleman, here it is! Oh sure, it may look like your average yellow cake when you slice into it, but wait 'til you TASTE it! It's like a burst of sunshine on your taste buds! I'm not even kidding.

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c.) soft butter
2 tbs. grated orange zest (about one large navel orange)
3 eggs
1 tbs. pure vanilla extract
3 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. fresh orange juice, pulp may be included

Heat oven to 350F.
Cream together sugar, butter, and orange zest. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add alternately with orange juice to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with the dry mixture, beating well after each addition. Beat for 2 minutes. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9" cake pans, a 9x13 pan or even paper lined muffin tins for cupcakes. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. (When baking cupcakes, reduce your baking time to 10-15 minutes).

Simply add some grated orange zest or orange extract to regular Cream Cheese Frosting. I'd say maybe about 1 or 2 tsp of grated zest or about 1/2 tsp orange extract should do it. If you like more, add more!

The key to this cake is the orange zest. Yes, the juice adds great flavor, but the zest adds bigger flavor without adding any liquid. You could substitute orange extract (probably about 1 tsp) for the zest, but you wouldn't get that FRESH flavor that I mentioned.
Oh, and one other thing...YES, the amounts of the ingredients are correct. Usually one doesn't use so much baking powder, but trust me, it all works.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Chocolate Coconut Crunch Cookies

I know that I've previously mentioned this, but it's worth repeating. When I was growing up, my Dad always said: "When you go to someone's house, you should always ring the doorbell with your elbow." In other words, you should always bring something. (You'd use your elbow to ring the doorbell if your hands are full with whatever you're bringing to the party. Get it?) I guess this is why I never go to a party without making a yummy dessert or munchy food. As soon as I arrive at a party, I'll bring my contribution to the kitchen or place it on the table with the other desserts, then I'll go to mingle with the other guests. More times than not, one of the guests will see me and say "OMG what did you bring?!?!" True story! hehehe I love that.
When my friends, Jason and Dana, decided to have a party to celebrate their 20th Frieniversary, I knew I wanted to make something, but couldn't decide what to make. Then I discovered this Mrs. Fields recipe, from the I Love Chocolate cookbook. I had never tried it before, but like I always say "How hard can it be?" So, I gave it a whirl. They're simple to make and I was very pleased when they were a big hit at the party. I'm sure they'll be a hit at YOUR next party too!!!
Happy Frieniversary Jason and Dana!

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
2 cups coconut
12 oz chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups almonds; lightly salted
-dry roasted, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 300F.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Mix on low speed until blended. Add the flour mixture and mix just until blended; do not overmix. add the coconut, chocolate chips, and almonds and stir just until blended. Drop the dough by rounded tbsp 2″ apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Always use unsalted butter, especially when baking, unless a recipe specifically states otherwise.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pizza Dip

I don't know of anyone who doesn't like pizza. It's the perfect Friday Night food and it turns every gathering into a party. So why not turn it into a party dip?
It's SO simple to make. You just choose your pizza toppings, and then layer your ingredients. EASY! It's also REALLY quick to make, so it's the perfect go-to dip when you have unexpected guests. Try it!

6 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup jarred pizza sauce
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 chopped green onions
pepperoni slices

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine cream cheese, sour cream and oregano in bowl; stir until smooth. Spread evenly into 9-inch pie plate or quiche pan. Top with pizza sauce, shredded cheese, pepperoni slices and green onions. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with your favorite bread sticks or crackers.

Vary the toppings as much as you like! Add diced bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, sliced black olives, cooked sausage, diced pineapple, anything!