Monday, February 28, 2011

Pizza Friday: The Works

Pizza Friday has returned to A Taste of Home Cooking! I'm very excited about this because (1) I'd grown tired of spending so much money on takeout pizza and (2) because I love finding new pizza recipes to try.

To get back into the swing of things I kept it simple with an old favorite - The Works:

Unfortunately the pepperoni looked a little funny so I had to leave it off. This pizza usually involves pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onion, green pepper and olives. Delicious.

Question: What pizza toppings do you enjoy? Please leave me a comment so we can broaden our pizza horizons!
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ultimate Sriracha Burgers and Oven Fries

I love burgers. I could eat one a week and be perfectly happy. Besides being delicious, they're so versatile. You can switch up the meat from beef to chicken or something more exotic, the topping choices are endless and they're fun to eat. Come on, who doesn't like eating with their hands?

I've never cooked with Sriracha before, but I had a small bottle in the pantry for a recipe I still haven't gotten around to making, so when the Ultimate Sriracha Burger was raved about on my cooking board I thought I'd give it a shot.

Since I've never cooked with Sriracha (and therefore had no clue how mild or spicy it was), I should have listened to my gut and reduced the amount of Sriracha in the blue cheese sauce. I just can't handle spice the way I could before having Baby Girl. Otherwise, this was a perfect burger. You can never go wrong with bacon, and the caramelized onions added a nice sweetness. There was a good kick from the Sriracha, which I would have enjoyed more if the blue cheese had been able to come through, and I love peppery arugula and sliced tomato. The Swiss didn't melt enough, but that was my error.

Ultimate Sriracha Burger

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 TBS. soy sauce
5 TBS. Sriracha, divided
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 slices thick cut bacon
1 large sweet onion
3/4 cup blue cheese dressing
4 brioche buns
4 thick slices Swiss cheese
1 tomato, sliced
several handfuls of arugula

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, soy sauce, 2 1/2 TBS. of the Sriracha, and the pepper. Be careful not to overmix. Form the mixture into 4 patties, and set aside, on a parchment-lined plate, covered, in the refrigerator.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium high heat. In a medium frying pan over medium-low heat, cook the bacon, turning as necessary. While the bacon is cooking, peel and quarter the onions. Cut each section into 1/4-inch slices. Once the bacon is cooked through and slightly crispy, remove the slices from the pan, cut each in half crosswise, and drain onto paper towels, reserving the remaining bacon fat in the pan. Cook the sliced onions in the bacon fat over medium-low heat until they caramelize, 20 to 25 minutes.

Grill the burgers, turning once, 4 to 41/2 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer registers 130° to 135°F for medium-rare.

While the burgers are cooking, combine the blue cheese dressing with the remaining 2 1/2 TBS. Sriracha in a small bowl.

Lightly toast the buns on the grill during the last minute of cooking time. Spread the blue cheese mixture on both halves of each hamburger bun. Stack a burger patty, slice of Swiss cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, slice of tomato, and a small handful of arugula between each hamburger bun.

I served the burgers with oven fries. I've been searching for a good oven fry recipe for a long time and these were delicious (if not as evenly brown as I would have liked).

SP practically inhaled his burger and fought me over the last few fries. He's a very good sport when it comes to my cooking, especially when I'm trying a new recipe, but he definitely has his favorites and has no qualms about offering constructive criticism. The only issue he had was wishing I'd done a better job melting the cheese and keeping the caramelized onions warm.
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Friday, February 25, 2011

Cape Cod Chopped Salad

A friend recently posted a photo of Ina Garten's Cape Cod Chopped Salad on her Facebook page and I fell in love. Her photo is much better, but the takeaway message here is MAKE THIS SALAD. Seriously. It's delicious. Even SP, who isn't usually enthusiastic about salads, loved this salad.

Cape Cod Chopped Salad
Ina Garten

8 ounces thick-cut bacon
8 ounces baby arugula
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled

3 tablespoons good apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and lay the bacon slices on the rack. Roast the bacon for about 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, apple, walnuts, cranberries, and blue cheese.

For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, mustard, maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Chop the bacon in large pieces and add it to the salad. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to moisten. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss well. Serve immediately.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ham, Ranch Mac and Cheese, Roasted Broccoli

I love macaroni and cheese. What's not to like about creamy, cheesy pasta? My college actually had pretty good food and one of my favorite lunches was macaroni and cheese. I'd stalk the online menu for weeks looking for it to reappear and when it did I would savor each and every bite. It took me a long time to find the perfect recipe and then I found another that was slightly different, but also perfect.

But that doesn't mean I won't try other macaroni and cheese recipes. Sometimes you want something different and this recipe for Ranch Macaroni and Cheese sounded fun.

I served it with ham steaks and roasted broccoli topped with Pecorino. The Ranch dressing added a nice tang and even Baby Girl loved it. Since I prefer baked macaroni and cheese I put the pasta and sauce into a casserole dish and topped it with the crushed Ritz, then baked it for about 30 minutes.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

White Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce

I've been on a Mexican food kick lately. I love that most of the recipes are easy to make but still have great flavor. This recipe for White Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce was no exception.

I actually cooked the chicken and made the green chile sauce over the weekend so all I had to do was assemble the enchiladas and put them in the oven alongside the Mexican Sour Cream Rice, which I also made over the weekend to save time during the week.

The only thing I'd change next time is add some of the sauce to the chicken filling. They were a little dry and really needed the sauce to bring everything together.

White Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce

Cassie Craves

8-10 soft taco size flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 can chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 7-ounce can diced green chiles
Cilantro for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a skillet or saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, whisking until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Stir in sour cream and green chiles.

Mix together 1 cup of the cheese, 1 cup of the sauce and the chicken. Place an equal amount of the mixture into each tortilla, roll up and place seam side down into a 9 x 13-inch pan. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas; sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

And the winner is...

Drumroll please...

The winner of my first blog giveaway is CRS!

Congratulations!! Please email me within 48 hours to claim your prize. Make sure to include the name and email address you used to sign up with Giftcard Rescue so they can credit your account.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway. I can't wait to host my next one!
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Friday, February 18, 2011

First Giveaway!

My new Facebook page has reached 75 likes. Thank you to everyone who shared the page! In honor of this milestone, I'm hosting my very first blog giveaway.

Gift Card Rescue is an online marketplace for people to sell their unwanted gift cards for cash or for credits. Then, they sell these cards on the website for up to 30% off their face value.

Win It!

Gift Card Rescue is giving one lucky A Taste of Home Cooking reader a $50 credit to buy any gift card on their website!

Please leave a separate comment for each entry below.

Required Entry

* Head over to Gift Card Rescue and make an account. Leave a comment telling me you've created the account.
You’ll receive the $50 credit to the account you made.

Additional Entries

* "Like” A Taste of Home Cooking on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you've liked the page.
* “Like” Gift Card Rescue on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you've liked the page.
* Share A Taste of Home Cooking on your Facebook wall. Leave a comment telling me you've shared the page.
I was not compensated for this post, nor did I receive anything from Gift Card Rescue. I am not responsible for the winner receiving the credit. This giveaway will end on February 19, 2011 at midnight eastern time. Must be 18+ and a US resident. The winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
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Chicken Salad

I love chicken salad, especially since I discovered the beauty of fruit and nuts as add-ins. I love the sweetness from the fruit and the crunch from the nuts. I knew I'd found a new recipe to add to my growing chicken salad collection when I saw this recipe for Chicken Salad at Sing for Your Supper. It has two of my favorite fruits - grapes and pineapple - as well as almonds. I whipped up a batch this weekend to have for lunches during the week, but I was feeling hungry while I spent a marathon day in the kitchen so I made myself a sandwich. Delicious.

Chicken Salad
Modified from Sing for Your Supper

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 can pineapple chunks, each piece cut into quarters (crushed would be fine as well)
1 handful green grapes, sliced into halves
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 squirt lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the chicken breasts in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the tops. Boil on medium heat for approximately 30 minutes, until chicken is very tender. Remove the chicken and let cool.

Once the chicken is cool, shred the meat into small pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add in celery, pineapple, grapes and almonds.

In a small bowl, make the sauce. Stir together the mayonnaise, yogurt and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken mixture and stir until combined. Taste for seasoning.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shrimp and Grits

I wanted to make a special dinner on Saturday and I've had my eye on this recipe for Shrimp and Grits for awhile now.

It was an easy dish to make, which was great since I didn't fully commit to making dinner until after 5pm. I was able to cook the grits in the time it took for the shrimp to thaw, and the rest of the dish came together in no time. It was very tasty, but too rich, so I'm still on the hunt for the perfect shrimp and grits recipe.

Bar Americain's Shrimp and Grits
Modified from Bobby Flay's recipe

Grits (I used quick-cooking grits so I followed the directions on the package)
Salt and pepper
1 cup grated Cheddar
3 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Sauteed Shrimp:
1/2 pound bacon, cut into lardons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-lb large (21 to 24 count) shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the grits according to the package directions. I cooked mine in chicken broth for extra flavor. Once the grits are cooked, add the cheese and whisk until smooth; season with salt and pepper.

Place bacon in a medium pan over medium heat and cook until golden brown and crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan and place back on the heat. Add the olive oil and increase the heat to high. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, and add to the pan with the garlic. Saute until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove shrimp to a plate. Reserve the garlic oil to drizzle over the finished dish.

Put the grits on the plate and top with shrimp. Drizzle with some of the bacon-garlic oil (that the shrimp were sauteed in) and sprinkle with green onion.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meatloaf Muffins, Scalloped Potatoes and Green Beans

I'm sorry for all these horrible photos. I blame, in no particular order, rushing the take photos so we can eat, lack of natural light and unphotogenic food.

Meatloaf muffins are one of my favorite dinners to make because they're so simple yet so delicious.

I mixed meatloaf mix, some salsa, one beaten egg, and bread crumbs in a bowl, then put some of the mix into each cup of a greased muffin tin. I baked them, along with the potatoes, at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. The green beans were simply steamed and tossed with butter, salt and pepper.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Taste of Home Cooking is now on Facebook!

In an effort to keep myself more accountable with blogging, as well as reach a wider audience, I've started a Facebook page for this blog.

I would be delighted if all my readers, regulars and lurkers alike, would "like" my page. Once I reach 75 "likes" I will be hosting my very first giveaway! I'm very excited to do regular giveaways as my fan base grows, so please share the page with your friends and family.

Here is the link to the Facebook page.
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Chicken, Avocado and Tomato Quesadilla

I've been on a quesadilla kick lately. They're so easy to make and I can easily keep the ingredients on hand. I saw this recipe for Chicken, Avocago and Tomato Quesadillas over at Sing for Your Supper and was intrigued by the addition of BBQ sauce. Unfortunately my photo isn't nearly as pretty as her's:

And we couldn't taste the BBQ sauce on the chicken once it was inside the quesadilla. I used my new Griddler to grill the chicken, but maybe the outdoor grill would have been better. But no matter, these will definitely be on the regular rotation.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Recipe Swap - Brisket

This was my first experience with a recipe swap and I really enjoyed it. The subject for this swap was an easy weeknight meal - something that could be made in less than 30 minutes, or prepped quickly and thrown in the crockpot.

When I first saw the recipe I knew it would be perfect for Sunday dinner. I also knew I would need to make some modifications. For starters, my crockpot and I have a love/hate relationship, so I decided to cook this in my Le Creuset dutch oven. I was also worried about buying 4lbs of meat for just the two of us. And an entire bottle of red wine seemed like too much for our tastes. I found a similar recipe online (see below) and ended up blending the two together.

The brisket cooked for a few hours in the oven and the smells wafting through the house were intoxicating. We both cleaned our plates (Baby Girl loved the mashed potatoes, but I couldn't convince her to try the brisket), saying we were happy to try something different. Thanks, Laurie!!

Here is the original recipe I was given:
Laurie's Kitchen

2 large garlic cloves (chopped or whole)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, needles striped (sometimes I use dried)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (4 pound) beef brisket, first-cut
Coarsely ground black pepper
5 large carrots, cut in 3-inch chunks
5 celery stalks, cut in 3-inch chunks
1 large red onion, halved
1 Bottle dry red wine (more or less depending on what fits in your crock pot)
1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (dried is ok)
3 bay leaves (dried)
Beef or vegetable Broth (as needed to cover brisket if wine is not enough or if you are not a fan of a strong wine flavor)

Season both sides of the brisket with a fair amount of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Place a large pan over medium-high flame and coat with half of the olive oil. Put the brisket in the pan and sear to form a nice brown crust on both sides. Should only take a couple minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to your crock pot lay the vegetables,garlic and onions all around the brisket. Add the wine and tomatoes and beef broth if necessary; toss in the parsley, rosemary and bay leaves. Cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours until the beef is fork tender.

Remove the brisket to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes. Scoop the vegetables out of the roasting pan and onto a platter.

And here is the recipe I ended up making (the original is linked below):
Zinfandel-Braised Beef Brisket with Onions
The Kitchen Sink

2 cups zinfandel or other fruity dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 (2 1/2-pound) beef brisket, trimmed
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Cooking spray
4 medium sliced sweet onions
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 - 2-lb bag carrots, peeled and cut into (1/2-inch-thick) slices
4 celery stalks, cut into (1/2-inch-thick) slices
Chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 325°. Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring with a whisk.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; cook for 8 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan; cover and set aside.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, onion, sugar, and 1 teaspoon thyme to pan. Cook 20 minutes or until onions are tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, carrots, and celery; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place beef on top of onion mixture; pour wine mixture over beef. Cover and place in oven. Bake at 325° for 1 3/4 hours.

Remove dutch oven from oven and turn beef over. Place back in the oven for 45 minutes or until beef is tender. Remove beef from oven and cut across the grain into thin slices. Serve with onion mixture and sprinkle parsley on top.

I served the brisket over mashed potatoes with buttermilk biscuits on the side. I've never cooked a brisket before and according to the other ladies in the swap, this gave us all a chance to make something we wouldn't normally have made. I can't wait for the next one!
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fire Island Ziti

I got a free subscription to Taste of Home magazine and was pretty surprised to find some good recipes. This one for Fire Island Ziti has become a regular around our house because it's easy and delicious. I made a few changes to make it even simpler and doubled it so we have leftovers.

Fire Island Ziti
Modified from Taste of Home

1 15oz can diced tomatoes, juice reserved
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces uncooked ziti
2 broccoli crowns cut into florets
1 pound Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook ziti according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage in oil until no longer pink. Add pepper flakes; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in tomatoes with the juice and heat through.

Drain ziti mixture; toss with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.
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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

French Dip Sandwiches

I know these sandwiches aren't the most photogenic, but the recipe couldn't be easier and is delicious every single time. That's a big deal in our house these days, so these have made it on the menu twice in the last month. Yum!

French Dip Sandwiches
Very slightly modified from Rachael Ray

2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup dry sherry or brandy
2 cans beef broth
1 1/2 pounds deli sliced roast beef
salt and pepper
4 sandwich rolls, split
1/4 pound deli slice provolone cheese

In a large, shallow skillet over moderate heat, melt butter. Add shallots to butter and saute 2 minutes. Add flour to butter and shallot and cook a minute longer. Whisk in sherry (or brandy) and cook liquid out. Whisk in broth in a slow stream. Bring sauce to a bubble and allow to simmer over low heat until ready to serve sandwiches.

Pile meat loosely across your cutting board or a large work surface. Season meat with salt and black pepper. Add to sauce to heat through. Set out ramekins or small soup cups for dipping sauce.

Toast the rolls if you desire. Using a pair of kitchen tongs, pile meat onto rolls. Top with slices of provolone cheese and broil to melt the cheese. Set ramekins or cups with extra dipping sauce alongside the sandwiches.
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