Thursday, January 31, 2013

Savory Cracker Snack

If you are looking for one more snack to add to your party menu, give this a try. I made it for Christmas and it was well received by everyone - salty, savory, crunchy, and light enough to have a few handfuls without ruining your appetite for all of the other yummy appetizers or dinner.

Savory Cracker Snack

  • 1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp dried dill weed (or to your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or to your taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 box or bag oyster crackers
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine first 5 ingredients and mix well. Stir in oyster crackers mix to coat. Pour crackers onto a large cookie sheet.
  • Bake 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
  • Cool and add to a covered container.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Caramelized Onion, Gruyere, and Bacon Spread

Mmm, you had me at bacon. And Gruyere. And caramelized onions.

Three of my favorite ingredients in one recipe? Yes, please.

I first saw this one on Pinterest, pinned from the site My Recipes. Once I looked at it, I discovered it was a Cooking Light recipe from November 2011. I made some changes to the recipe that definitely changed it to "not cooking light" status, but if you want to lighten it up, check out the original recipe.

I served this on Christmas and it was such a hit. I have said it before, but caramelized onions and Gruyere work so well together. They are one of those perfect flavor combinations in my book. This spread was so creamy, had the ideal balance of salty-savory and sweet, and was just a little bit too easy to eat. I served it with some toasted baguette slices.

Caramelized Onion, Gruyere, and Bacon Spread
Adapted From: My Recipes

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 white or yellow onions, chopped
  • Approximately 4 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1/3 c mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Sliced baguette for serving (sprayed with olive oil and toasted for 5-6 minutes in the oven)
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions; cook approximately 20 minutes until they turn a deep, golden brown. Be careful not to fry or burn them - you want them to caramelize.
  • Transfer onions to a bowl, and add 3 oz of the cheese, half of the chives, and the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
  • Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake on 425 for 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
  • Top with the remaining chives and serve immediately.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bolognese Sauce

It's recipe swap time again! This Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swap featured recipes from Celebrity Chefs. I submitted this Chicken Pot Pie recipe by Martha Stewart, and was given this Ina Garten recipe for Bolognese Sauce shared by Dawn at Simple Gourmet Cooking.

Jon usually cooks when we are going to have "meatsauce," so I was excited to give this a try. Just from reading the recipe I knew it would be a lot different than his. Fancier, if you will.

I made the recipe exactly as it was shared, except for the amount of time it cooked. This is a weeknight (quick) bolognese, but since I made it on a Sunday, I let it simmer for about 45 minutes in addition to the cooking time required by the recipe. However, it's really nice to know that this is a great sauce recipe that could be made in just 30-40 minutes, if needed.

I really liked this - it was hearty and tasted like something that had cooked and simmered all day. The one change I'd made next time is that I would not add the remaining 1/4 c of wine at the end. I could still taste a lot of the wine as it didn't really have time to cook off. But other than that, I loved everything about the recipe, even the use of cream! I never would have thought to add cream to a tomato sauce unless I was making a pink sauce.

Dawn, thanks for sharing this one!

Bolognese Sauce
Source: Simple Gourmet Cooking

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1¼ cups dry red wine, divided
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried pasta, such as shells
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat into the pan and cook until no longer pink and starting to brown, 5-7 minutes, breaking up the meat.
  • Stir in the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add 1 cup of the wine to the pan and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. I had time, so I let it simmer for an additional 45 minutes over low heat.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, finish the sauce. Stir in the nutmeg, basil, cream, and remaining ¼ cup wine. Simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.
  • When the pasta is cooked and drained, toss with the warm sauce and grated Parmesan until well coated. Serve with additional Parmesan if desired.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas

Last week I had planned on making a salad with buffalo chicken and blue cheese. But that day, it ended up being very cold and windy, and I just wasn't feeling like eating a salad. I wanted something heartier, but still with the buffalo flavor since it had been on my mind for 2 days.

I sat in the parking lot of the supermarket searching for a quick and easy recipe, and came across this one for Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas on the blog I Will Not Eat Oysters. Quesadillas... hmm. That's not usually the type of thing I make for dinner, maybe lunch. But they sounded so good, and I figured we could still have a side salad with them, so I ran in and bought some blue cheese and tortilla shells and decided to give them a shot.

Now these are easy, but they do require 4 different pans to prep and cook them... Jon wasn't too happy with the dishes that night. BUT - this IS the kind of recipe that can be prepped in advance. Make the sauce, dipping sauce, and cook/shred the chicken the night before, and you have a really quick and easy meal to throw together on a weeknight.

I didn't tell Jon what I was making until I put a quesadilla on his plate and said "try it." After eating it and liking it, he admitted that if I would have told him we were having Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas, he would have been wary of them. I'm glad he did, because I really liked them and look forward to making them again, either for a quick dinner or a fun appetizer at a party!

I made several changes, so my adaptation is below.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas
Source: Adapted from I Will Not Eat Oysters

For Buffalo Chicken:
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups hot sauce (like Frank's RedHot)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced thinly - I really don't think these were necessary in the quesadillas. I would have rather had celery sticks on the side.
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded - I poached my chicken and then shredded it.
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

For Quesadillas:
  • 6 tortilla shells (medium size)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, jack cheese, marbled cheddar, or your favorite kind
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • A large nonstick pan

For Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce:
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1/3 c blue cheese, crumbled
  • Make the hot sauce: In a small sauce pot over med heat, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add the flour and mix with the butter. Cook, stirring, for about a minute to cook out the flour taste. Add the hot sauce and vinegar, and let the sauce heat but not boil for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside, or store in an air tight container in the fridge.
  • The dipping sauce: In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and blue cheese crumbles. Cover and store in the fridge.
  • The chicken mixture: Heat the olive oil in a skillet or large pan on med-high heat and add the celery, if you are using it. Sweat until celery is slightly soft and darker in color. Add the shredded chicken and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to med-low and add the buffalo sauce. Cook together, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
  • Make the quesadillas: Place a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add the tortilla and cook for 20-30 seconds per side. Add chicken to one half of it, top with shredded cheese and then blue cheese. Fold the empty side of the shell over to "close" it. Let cook until crispy and slightly browned, and then flip to cook the other side.
  • Slice and serve with the blue cheese dipping sauce.

Monday, January 7, 2013

French Onion Pasta

I made this recipe about 2 months ago - I'm a bit behind on blogging! Luckily I made some notes so I wouldn't forget what I did!

A while back, I pinned a recipe for French Onion Pasta found on the blog Stephanie Cooks. I took a few things from that recipe, and a few ideas from this French Onion Braised Chicken, and pulled together a quick and tasty pasta dish.

It was really good - tasted like French Onion Soup with some pasta! I think adding shredded chicken and even some spinach would make this a complete meal.

  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Approximately 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 envelope of Lipton onion soup mix
  • 1/3 c brandy
  • 1 c beef stock
  • 1/4 c light cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 c penne pasta, cooked
  • Chopped parsley
  • Shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese

  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large, oven-safe saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sugar. Stir almost constantly until they turn a rich, golden brown color, being careful to keep the heat low enough so they do not fry or burn. At the end, add the dried thyme. This will take about 20-25 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and soup mix; stir.
  • Turn the heat up a bit and add the brandy, stirring to scrape up any brown bits.
  • At this point, turn the broiler on in your oven.
  • Add the broth and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the cream and a handful of cheese, stirring until the cheese has completely melted.
  • Add the pasta and parsley, stir. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Top with cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese has melted.