Monday, February 28, 2011

Broccoli and Tater Casserole

ok, I know I already posted a Tater Tot Casserole recipe, but who says we can't have more than one? Everyone loves tater tots, right? I promise you'll love this one too! And it's great for the cooking novice because you seriously need NO cooking experience. You just mix everything together in a bowl, bake it in a casserole dish, and boom... dinner's ready! And can we talk about the crunchy topping? What's not to love? Serve it up alongside some grilled chicken or maybe some broiled fish and you're good to go. You could also add diced cooked chicken to it and serve it with a nice crispy green salad. OH! You could even add some diced ham to it and serve it as a nice hearty breakfast with a couple fried eggs on top. Sounds good to me!
Try it!

32 oz tater tots
2 crowns of broccoli florets, roughly chopped
1 onion, grated
8 oz sour cream
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 soup can of milk

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 stick of butter
2 cups corn flakes, coarsely crushed

Heat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, stir together everything except the butter and corn flakes.
Place in a buttered casserole dish.
Melt butter. Stir together with corn flakes.
Top casserole with buttered corn flakes.
Bake 45 minutes.

You can easily vary this recipe as much as you like. Add anything! Carrots, mushrooms, celery, asparagus, add Swiss cheese instead of cheddar, seriously, any of the above will work.
If you'd like to make it a vegetarian dish, just add a different kind of soup instead of cream of chicken, such as cream of mushroom or cream of celery.

This just in!
I made this for my friend Abbe and we decided to add all kinds of things to it! Of course we started with the usual tater tots and broccoli, but then we added chicken, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and peas, we added half cheddar and half monterey jack cheese, and we used Special K cereal instead of the corn flakes. I par cooked everything before mixing it all into the casserole, just to make sure everything would be cooked through. A. MAY. ZING!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Barb's Tomato Soup

Many of my friends ask me for diet friendly or low fat recipes. I know that lots of people choose losing weight as their new year's resolution, so whenever I hear of a diet friendly recipe, I like to pass it along.
  This recipe, however, is absolutely NOT one of those recipes. Your new year's resolution will simply just have to wait until after you've tried this recipe! I got it from my friend Kathleen who got it from her Mother in Law, Barb. It's rich and warm and delicious and comforting and worth the splurge! I'm certainly not saying that you should have this for dinner every night of the week. But everything is fine in moderation, right? Actually, I can sort of picture it as being the perfect first course of an elegant ladies' lunch. A little cup of this soup with a fresh crisp salad and maybe a delicious quiche..... sounds like heaven for brunch, don't you think? It's simple to make too!
Thanx again, Kath! And Thanx Barb!

1 can Campbell's tomato soup
2 soup cans worth of half-n-half
1 can Del Monte stewed tomatoes (original recipe)
1 soup can worth of whipping cream
1/2 stick of butter
2 large, very ripe tomatoes (preferably peeled), diced
S&P to taste

Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot. On moderately high heat, bring to a gentle boil, stirring often to avoid burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once gently boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for two hours on a low heat. Stirring often. You want the tomatoes to all be soft and the soup to reduce and thicken.

Tips from Kathleen:
Refrigerates and reheats well, so make PLENTY! (I often make a double batch and we eat it for several meals.) You will LOVE IT! It is incredibly rich and NOT a diet-friendly meal, but worth every slurp! LOL! I serve it with green salad, crusty French or sourdough bread and chardonnay. The crusty bread is important because it is FANTASTIC when dipped in the soup!!!!

From Joey:
I'm sure you could cut the fat a little by using regular milk instead of half and half.
To learn how to peel your tomatoes, just watch my video How To Peel a Tomato.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Joey's Pork Teriyaki Stew

I'm still in the mood for some old timey stews that you make in a cast iron dutch oven. I guess it's the time of year and the cold weather. There's just something wonderful about that warm aroma wafting through the house when you have a pot of something in the oven. It makes everything cozy and warm, don't you think?
 As much as I love a good beef stew recipe, I figured a pork stew would be a nice change of pace. And the sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes add an extra dimension of flavor that carries on the sweet and savory theme. It's comforting and homey without being too over the top in any direction. I REALLY think you'll like it!

2 lbs boneless pork, cut into cubes
salt and pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
a few glugs vegetable oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 can (8oz) pineapple chunks in juice
1 cup water
1/2 cup of your favorite teriyaki sauce (plus more)
a splash of soy sauce
1 lb fresh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" chunks
1 lb baby carrots
2 chopped scallions
cooked rice

Cut pork into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper.
Coat pork in mixture of flour and ginger.
Heat oil in Dutch oven; brown pork on all sides in hot oil.
Remove to a plate.
Add diced onion and saute until slightly caramelized.
Drain pineapple; reserve juice.
Add pineapple juice, water, teriyaki sauce, and a splash of soy sauce to the pot.
Add sweet potatoes and carrots along with the pork and any accumulated juices.
Cover. Place in oven for 1 hour, or until pork and sweet potatoes are tender.
Stir in pineapple; cook only until heated through.
Serve over rice. Top with chopped scallions, and a little extra drizzle of teriyaki sauce.

I used boneless ribs and then just cut them into cubes. They were AMAZINGLY tender. I'm sure you can use whichever cut of pork you like.
You can easily make this on the stove top. Just cover and let it simmer over a low heat until the pork and sweet potatoes are tender.
If you'd like it to be a little more saucy, simply double the sauce ingredients.

And one other note....
When you heat the oil in the dutch oven, make sure it's hot before you add the pork, but not TOO hot. You really don't want the oil to ignite into a flash grease fire causing smoke to billow through your apartment which will cause the building fire alarm to sound and then you'll have to explain everything to the fire department, several policemen and also the 911 dispatcher......
I'm just sayin'.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes

 When I first discovered molten lava cake, I wondered about it's origin. It seemed to me that this might have been the result of a happy baking accident. So I did a little reading. Lo and behold, I was right! Apparently, once upon a time, a French chef removed a chocolate sponge cake from the oven before it was finished baking. The taste and texture were good, so he went with it! How fun is that? It's also called a fondant pudding, but "lava cake" just sounds so much more decadent to me. Just the thought of warm chocolate 'lava' pouring out of the center of an individual serving sized cake sends me to chocolate heaven!
 I found several recipes, but this one wins. I found it on another website called Famous French Desserts, and it seemed the most authentic to me. Btw, the tips that follow the recipe are also from the same website. (you know I always give credit where it's due!)
 The recipe is deceptively easy to make, and I guarantee you'll impress the hell out of your special someone if you serve this for dessert after a romantic meal! How about adding some candles and fresh berries?

6 oz. Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate (or use your favorite 70% dark chocolate bar)
6 oz. Butter (diced, room temperature)
3 Eggs
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
Butter for Ramekins

Preheat oven to 350°F
Melt chocolate on low flame in double boiler or in microwave.
Stir in diced butter, until it melts.
In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar, until it starts to whiten.
Stir in melted chocolate and then the flour.
Butter 4 individual ramekins, and pour in chocolate batter.
Bake for about 15 minutes.
Tip ramekins upside down onto dessert plates and serve.

Tips from FFDs website:
You can definitely prepare your chocolate lava cake recipe ahead of time, and then bake 10 minutes before serving. In terms of buttering the ramekins: butter the bottoms first, and then butter the sides, wiping from the bottom up to the top. It helps the chocolate to rise even more. In terms of baking time… well, it depends on how runny you want it! I like it with a super-liquid-oozing center. For this, you want the top to be cooked through, but the center to be liquid. You can check with a toothpick after 10 minutes of baking.
If you don't like liquid-center chocolate desserts, just cook for a little longer, and you will have an incredibly moist chocolate cake. So, either way, you can't go wrong! You can, if you want, serve your chocolate lava cake recipe with a Crème Anglaise (English Cream) or a Coulis aux Framboises (Raspberry Sauce).

Btw, for the Creme Anglaise, which is basically just a vanilla sauce, Ina Garten suggests just buying a pint of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream and let it sit out on the counter until it melts down to almost liquid. And there you have it! The perfect vanilla sauce! And just as Ina always says, "How easy is that?"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

White Pizza Dip

  I first heard of this dip when Neil and Lea came over for dinner. Neil mentioned that his Mom, Mary Beth, makes the best white pizza dip and immediately my ears perked up. What? White Pizza Dip???  I want the recipe!!!  And of course, being the fellow foodie that she is, Mary Beth was happy to send it to me, along with a little note.  This is clearly one of those "How can this not be good?" recipes, and it's really simple to make. Perfect for your next big party event or even just while you're home having a family movie night. 
Thanx Mary Beth!!  And thanx, Neil, for mentioning it in the first place!!!!
Hi Joey,
Neil asked me to send this to you. I can’t take credit for the white pizza dip. It comes right from Lipton – on their Savory Garlic and Herb soup mix.
It is a family favorite. Megan isn’t allowed to go to any of the high school pregame dinners without it. It’s the team’s most requested munchie.
I usually make it without the pepperoni, and I’ve also served it with the bread slices soft, and also toasted. It depends on how much prep time I have.
 ~ Mary Beth

1 envelope Lipton Savory Herb with Garlic soup mix
1 container (16oz) sour cream
1 cup (8oz) ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped pepperoni (optional)
1 loaf Italian or French bread, sliced

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In shallow 1-quart casserole, combine soup mix, sour cream, ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, if using.
Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.
Bake uncovered, 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with bread.

The picture isn't mine, but it's so nice I just had to use it!
I hope no one minds!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shrimp and Cheese Plate

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie. It's super easy to make and it's always a big hit. I'm sure there are probably many versions of it floating around, but this is my favorite. Our good friend (and practically family member), Roz, got this recipe from her cousin Susan, and she was kind enough to make for us at our last big get together. Needless to say, everyone loved it! It's also really convenient because you can make it in advance, and just keep it chilled until the big game, or the big party, or the big movie night, or whatever big event you and your guests will be celebrating! If you've never tried it, you simply must!!! Thanx Roz! And thanx Susan!!

1 lg. and 1 small pkg. cream cheese (8 oz and 3 oz)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 small onion, grated or finely minced
1 dash garlic
1 small can shrimp
1 bottle of chili sauce

Using a mixer, blend all ingredients except shrimp and chili sauce. Spread evenly in shallow dish. Pour chili sauce on top.  Drain and soak the shrimp in ice water.  Drain and place on top.  Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Serve with your favorite crackers.
If you plan to make it in advance, blend and plate the cheese mixture but don't top it with the chili sauce and shrimp until you're ready to serve it. It'll stay fresher.
You can easily substitute lump crab meat for the shrimp. Just be sure there are no shells.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Beer and Cheese Pretzel Dip

 This is my version of a popular recipe I found online. My original thought was to make a dip for pretzels. You have onion dip for the bowl of potato chips, and so I figured we needed a dip for the bowl of pretzels. Am I right? I do love the really thin ones, but the larger pretzel rods seemed to be calling me for this particular dip. But then I talked to my brother Denny, and also to my friend Donna Marie, and they both suggested that it should be served with SOFT pretzels instead. Hmm...not a bad idea!  After all, I do love to serve Spinach Dip with broken up soft pretzels! Still, there's just something about that pretzel rod CRUNCH that I'm loving with this dip.
Well, whichever pretzels you choose to serve, I'm sure you're party guests will love it. Make it ahead and serve it for your next sports party or tailgate event! As Jerry described it, 'it's addicting!!!"
Try it!

16 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (1 oz) packet Ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup beer
Pinch of Kosher salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor with a metal blade and process until smooth.
Drink the rest of the beer.
Cover and place in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
Serve with pretzel rods, or your favorite kind of pretzels.

If you don't have a food processor, you can just bring everything to room temperature and mix it together with a mixer. The dip won't be smooth,  but it'll still be yummy.
Use any kind of beer you like. Usually, when using beer in a recipe, it's better to choose a heartier dark beer or stout.
I think the flavor is quite good as it is, but if you want to pump it up even further, feel free to add finely chopped green onions and/or fresh minced garlic.
Can be made well in advance, even up to several days before your event. Just keep it tightly covered in the fridge.