Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beef Tips and Gravy

Beef Tips and Gravy

1 1/2-2 lbs Beef Tips
canola oil
2 onions, cut in half and then sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
3 tomatoes, sliced into wedges (pealed if desired)
3 cups water
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2-1 teaspoon roasted red chili paste, depending on how spicy you like it (Thai Kitchen has a really good one, found in the Asian Isle of the grocery store)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Saute sliced onions and peppers in canola oil until soft and just beginning to caramelize.
Pat Beef dry with paper towels and roll lightly in flour to coat, tap off excess. Add the beef tips to the pan and saute until lightly browned on all sides. Add water, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, mustard, roasted red chili paste, tomatoes, garlic and fresh ground black pepper. Gently scrap the bottom of your pan with your wooden spoon to deglaze it, breaking up all of those wonderful brown crispies.  Cook covered on simmering medium-low heat for approximately one and a half-two hours, stirring occasionally, being careful to not let all the water boil out. Add more water if necessary.

The sauce will thicken as it cooks, thanks to the flour you rolled your beef in.  Serve over rice, noodles or mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Angel Hair with Cherry Tomatoes, Bacon and Green Onions

One of my most favorite things about summer time is the wonderful bounty I get to reap the benefits of from my parents amazing vegetable garden.  There really isn't much better then vegetable's that come straight out of the dirt and go directly into your kitchen.  This evening at dinner I found myself the proud owner of big, beautiful green onions.

Oh how I love green onions!  I can eat them any way... raw dipped in salt, scrambled in eggs, sliced into large sections and sauteed with stir fries,  grilled, I could go on and on.  So, when I say proud owner- I mean it!

As much as I love onions, I HATE canned tomatoes- that is unless they are canned by my mom or they are high quality San Marzano's.  But my dad told me about this product he stumbled across at Marc's.  They are Italian cherry tomatoes canned in their own sauce by the company Rienzi.  Both him and my mom have raved about how good they were, so the last time I was at Marc's I snagged some up.  They are also available in Picante style, so be watchful- they will be much spicier!  Delicious, but a bit of a different taste.

So tonight I was thinking pasta.  A simple homemade sauce made from these beautiful green onions, I'd give the tomatoes a whirl, a little garlic, herbs from my garden and some bacon for good measure. The outcome was wonderful!  The tomatoes tasted very fresh and are very plump and juicy- not at all what you would expect from these canned little guys.  I will most certainly be buying them again.  A definite new pantry staple.  Yum! Thanks Mom and Dad for the recommendation!

Capellini with Cherry Tomatoes, Bacon and Green Onions
Half a box Capellini Pasta (Angel Hair), cooked al dente (7-8 minutes)
4 strips Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, cooked and set to drain on paper towels, chopped
2-4 green onions (depending on size), both green and white parts chopped
half yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets 
2 garlic cloves, minced
a nice bunch fresh herbs; Basil, Italian Parsley, and Oregano, Chiffonade (cut into long thin strips)
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Saute the yellow onion in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the green onion and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, but still colorful.  Carefully pour in the tomatoes, with the sauce and add the broccoli.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the fresh herbs, reserving some basil for garnish.  Cover and let simmer about 10 minutes.  Add bacon, toss with pasta and top each serving with the reserved basil and fresh  parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

Here is another question from my side bar
"How do I pick out a good cantaloupe?"

Great question!  It is one of those fruits that is hidden underneath a hard shell.  making it a little difficult to tell ripeness.  But it is actually easier to determine then you would think.  All you need is your nose!  A cantaloupe gives off an unmistakable sweet smell when it is ripe.  Basically it should smell just as you would like it to taste!  Look for the stem end (the part of the cantaloupe that was attached to the stem) and give it a sniff.  This is the spot that will be super sweet smelling when ripe.  There is one problem when using this method though... if the fruit has been refrigerated during storage (like they are many times in a grocery store) they won't smell as strongly.  The sniff method will always work at an outdoor farmer's market, or street-side stand though.

So when at a grocery store, use the following methods in addition to sniffing to help you choose.

Cantaloupe's will also be very heavy for their size when ripe and should give a little bit at the blossom end (the end opposite to the stem).  But the entire cantaloupe should not be soft, that is a sign of it being over ripe.  Another thing you want to look at is the outer skin that is visible underneath the netting.  A ripe cantaloupe will have an orange, rosy glow to it.  If it is still a bit greenish, then it isn't quite ready.

the skin of a ripe cantaloupe

If you happen to buy your cantaloupe slightly unripe, no fear.  Just leave it out on your counter and it will ripen up in a few days.  Happy eating!

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite ways to eat cantaloupe, wrapped in Prosciutto.  Yummm!

Prosciutto Wrapped Cantaloupe
1 ripe cantaloupe (This recipe is also delicious with Honeydew Melon as well)
very thinly sliced Prosciutto 
fresh mint
balsamic vinegar

Cut your melon in half, scoop out the seeds and peel off rind.  Slice your melon into bite-sized chunks.  Wrap a piece of prosciutto around the middle of the cantaloupe and drizzle very lightly with the balsamic vinegar.  Remember, a little goes a long way,  so just a bit is all you need.  garnish with baby mint leaves and serve.  Delicious! 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shish Kabab, Creamy Cucumber Salad and Berry Cheesecake Parfaits

Last night I got together with Bonnie and Dawn for our monthly cooking night.  We were all in the mood for something on the lighter side, and something that was nice and summery.  Bonnie suggested shish kabab, which to me is one of those perfect summer dishes.  Yum!  I decided to bring a Creamy Cucumber Salad.  It was one of my suggestions on the side bar (keep those coming guys!  I love it!), plus it is an old family favorite.  This salad always graced our dinner table throughout the summer while the cucumbers were fat and bountiful in the garden.  My mom never really used a recipe, just adding ingredients a little at a time until the flavor was just right.  I added some measurements, but please do as my mom does- you will know when it is the right flavor!  Dawn chose to bring a dessert, and her Berry Cheesecake Parfaits were a HUGE hit!  They were a very simple dessert to create, involving no cooking just the use of a hand mixer.  We all agreed we will be making this recipe throughout the summer!  Sooooo good!

Shish Kabab
Any meat or seafoods of your choice (we used chicken and shrimp), cut into one-inch chunks
Assortment of vegetables (last night we used tri-color bell peppers, onions and mushrooms, which are classic choices. But try using zuchini/yellow squash, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, or whatever looks good at the market that day.  You really can't go wrong!), cut into one-inch chunks
salt and pepper
Italian dressing

If you use wooden skewers, it is best to soak them in water for about 15-30 minutes before use because they can splinter and burn.

Marinate your meat/seafood in the Italian dressing for about 30 minutes. Thread the meats/seafoods and veggies onto the skewers, alternating. Top with additional Italian dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Grill kabobs directly over heat source for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning 1/4 rotation every 2 to 3 minutes, or until the meat and/or fish is cooked throughout. You want a nice pretty char.

Creamy Cucumber Salad
3 English Cucumbers (you can use regular cucumbers, but you will want to peel off the skin), very thinly sliced (I love to use my mandolin for this, but not necessary)
Salt and pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
finely chopped fresh dill, flat leaf parsley or fresh chives (any or a combo of the three)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
a half a pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced

In a colander set over a bowl, toss the cucumbers with 2 teaspoons salt. Let drain for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. This will help to break down the cucumbers to remove excess moisture, and will also tenderize the cucumbers.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. These measurements are pretty good, but honestly my mom always taught me this recipe by adding ingredients a little at a time until you get the taste you are looking for. She never used an actual recipe. So if you like it a little less sweet, then don't add as much sugar, etc. When you get the flavor you like, add the drained cucumbers, onion, fresh herbs and toss. Season with fresh ground black pepper.

Berry Cheesecake Parfaits
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) Jell-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
1-1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping, divided
24 Nilla Wafers, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cups mixed blueberries and sliced fresh strawberries

Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Add dry pudding mix; mix well. Whisk in 1 cup Cool Whip.

Layer half each of wafers, berries and pudding mixture in 8 parfait glasses. Repeat layers.

Top with remaining Cool Whip.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fridays, Feasting With Friends- Featuring Jaime Kanengeiser

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin'Home Cooking'

Jaime Kanengeiser

I am excited to introduce you to the beautiful "other half" of my last featured person, Jason Kanengeiser.  Today it's Jaime's turn, his lovely wife.  First before anything else I want to congratulate Jamie and Jason on the birth of their daughter, Dylan, who was brought into this world at 9:03 on Wednesday morning.  Oh she is so beautiful!  I am so proud of you Jaime.  Scott and I are going to the hospital this evening to meet her and I couldn't be more excited!  Is there anything better then babies?  Nah, I don't think so either.
Baby Dylan

Jaime is such a wonderful person, and I would wish each of you the chance to meet her.  This girl is full of joy, has a great positive outlook on life and always has something silly to say.  If you are a newcomer to a party, she is the one you want to sit next to at dinner for you will feel right at home in a matter of minutes.  Being that the two of us were both married into the same family, it has given us a little bond that I love to pieces.  She is my partner in crime at family outings and always makes the day so much more fun when she is a part of it.   Not to mention she is a fabulous cook!  Oh how I love going to dinner at her house- you know it is going to be good.  So for today's segment of Friday's, Feasting with Friends I am happy to present to you, Jaime Kanengeiser.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
I love to make a big pasta dinner.

How about your least favorite thing to cook?
Eggs- I make the world's worst fried eggs.

What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
I love Red, and would really like to try The B- spot

Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
I guess it would depend on the guest list Classic Rock for most friends...but a certain cousin and I share the of a certain boy band :)

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
I have a weakness for rich butter drenched crab or lobster.

What are you currently reading?
I teach pre-school and have a 5 year old, so basically anything by Dr. Seuss.

What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
Not much of a gadget girl, but my microplane comes in handy.

Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Chicken Romano, pasta, and meatballs.

What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
I love having my family around me

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
My Grandma Frankino's pizza recipe- and yes, Emily and I love to make it!

Top 3 Movies of all time?
Vision Quest
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory- the original
The Hangover

What was your happiest moment in life?
Becoming a Mom

Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Giant Eagle

What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
I love to make a meal of my favorite appetizers.

Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
Seeing the caring and nurturing person that my daughter is becoming. I feel like Jason and I must be doing something right :)

Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
I would like to try more vegetarian dishes.

One word that best describes you is: Talkative

Veggie and Ranch Pizza (a cold appetizer)

2 rolls Pillsbury Crescent Dough
8 oz Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp. Sour Cream
1 packet Dry Ranch Dressing Mix
1 each Red and Green Bell peppers
1 bunch scallions
1 can sliced black olives
any other veggies you like
2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese

Roll tubes of crescent dough flat, sealing perforations
bake as directed, allow to cool

Mix room temperature cream cheese, sour cream , and Ranch dressing, spread evenly on cooled crescent crust

Chop veggies and cover cream cheese mixture evenly.

Top with shredded Cheddar.

Cut in 2x2 squares and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Captain Morgan BBQ Sauce

Caryn, TD and their handsome son Cassidy

While in Cambridge, MA I lived across the courtyard from a wonderful couple, Teradon (TD) and Caryn.  They became fast friends, welcoming me into their group, inviting me places and including me on all sorts of fun times.  As much as I am happy to be back home amongst family, I miss my East Coast friends so very much.  Thank goodness for the internet, making it easy to keep in touch!

TD is always playing around in the kitchen and sent me this awesome recipe he created for a Captain Morgan BBQ sauce.  I am so excited to give it a try.  The flavors sound perfect for summer.  Looks like I am going to be sending Scott out to pick up a new propane tank this weekend....

Captain Morgan BBQ Sauce
makes a little less than 750ml

30 oz Tomato sauce
½ C Captain Morgan’s
¾ C Cider vinegar
¼ C Dark Brown Sugar
¼ C Dark Molasses
1 T Honey
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
1 T Onion Powder
2 t Paprika (1 regular and 1 smoked)
1 t Chili Powder
1 t Lemon Pepper Powder
1 t Liquid Smoke
½ t Fresh Ground Black Pepper
½ t Garlic Powder

Simmer to reduce. Great on Hamburgers.  I use this as my base for my Jack Daniels sauce as well. Switch out the Captain with the Jack Daniels and then add a shot of JD when you go to bottle it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Calling All Suggestions!!!

Hi everyone! I know things have been a little lax here lately, and for that I apologize. I am in the midst of my second trimester and still dealing with heaps of nausea.  Not fun!  And the worst thing, aside from feeling plain yucky, food doesn't have as much interest as it used to. Makes me so sad!  Things are getting better and food is definitely sounding more appetizing so I am staying hopeful.  So please bare with me!  I have lots of ideas and exciting things planned for the near future.  Soon, very soon!

I also am interested in hearing what all of you would like to read about.  Do you have any good ideas for my posts, types of recipes you want to read about, do you want me to review more cookbooks or restaurants.... tell me about it!  There is a new fancy box on the right hand side (just under my picture) that has a spot for you to enter in your suggestions.  You will also be able to read suggestions of others. Sound like fun?  I think so.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chicken Souvlaki-Pita's with Cucumber Raita and Short-cut Strawberry Shortcakes

Over the holiday weekend my dear friend Tera and her husband Brian were visiting from Michigan and we were lucky enough to have them over for lunch.  I wanted to do something light, since it was pretty hot.  And also something that I wouldn't be cooking the whole time they were here- I wanted to visit and have fun with my company too!!  Sandwiches are an easy choice, but can be slightly boring- aha!  How about Chicken Souvlaki's?!  A Souvlaki is the Greek version of a kebab- meat that is threaded onto a skewer and then grilled.  They can be eaten off the skewers or put into a pita as a sandwich.  I decided to go with the later.  They are traditionally served with sliced onion, tomato and lettuce and then garnished with a sauce, like a Tzatziki.  I loooooooooove tzatziki, but garlic has been a little hit or miss with my nausea these days so I opted for the Indian version, called a Raita.  It is also a cucumber sauce, but made with mint instead of garlic. It ended up being a wonderful accompaniment for the Souvlaki-Pita's.  Plus the mint was lovely for the summer.  A perfect substitution for a nauseated pregnant girl *grin*.

I wanted to keep things as simple as possible so I did the old favorite for marinading chicken.... oil-based salad dressing.  If you haven't done this, hurry up!  It makes the chicken super tender and full of flavor.  I generally use Italian Dressing for this, but to add a bit of a different flavor, this time I opted for an Olive Oil based Honey Dijon Mustard Dressing.  Add a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper and you are good to go.  Let it sit in the refrigerator for a least an hour to marinate.  Meanwhile soak your bamboo skewers for about 30 minutes in water to prevent burning.  When ready to grill, remove the chicken from the fridge and thread onto the soaked skewers.  Grill or broil until cooked through.  Serve with all the fixings and let people add what they would like.  Finished product- delicious!!!

Chicken Souvlaki-Pita
(serves 4)
4 Marinated Chicken breasts, chunked, skewered and grilled/broiled
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, chopped
Romaine lettuce, chopped
Red Onion, sliced
Cucumber Raita (recipe follows)
Flat Bread Pita, warmed on the grill

Assemble all of the yummy fixings onto the warmed flatbread pita's.  Be sure to load on the Cucumber Raita- it tastes best when it is dripping through your fingers!  Enjoy

Cucumber Raita
2 hot house cucumbers (English), peeled, seeded and thinly sliced (lightly salt and allow to drain for at least 15 minutes to pull out the extra moisture)
2 cups Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon cumin

Stir together all of the ingredients, adding the cucumber last. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

For dessert, Tera and Brain made a yummy Strawberry Shortcake.  This is a great dessert to have in your back pocket.  It is simple to assemble and quite inexpensive when strawberries are in season.  

Short Cut Strawberry Shortcake
Premade shortcake rounds
fresh strawberries, sliced
strawberry glaze
whipped cream

Place a dollop of strawberry glaze into the center of the premade shortcake rounds.  Top with sliced fresh strawberries and a generous amount of whipped cream.  Serve immediately.  

It was so wonderful having Tera and Brian in town.  I could easily get used to it!  We will miss you guys- hurry back!


Related Posts with Thumbnails