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Christine’s orignal recipes

Homemade cheese crackers

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, so I thought I’d share this with you. While I was cleaning out my refrigerator the other day, I saw some smoked gouda left over from last month’s party.  I was getting ready to throw it away but I checked it out and smelled it.  It was still ok.  So I decided to use the pie crust in my freezer (God knows how long it’s been there!) and experiment with the cheese.  I got lucky with this one!

Cheese crackers2   - Copyright Christine Sternfels

Ingredients:  1 box Pie crust dough (2 crusts) and 2 tbsp finely shredded cheese (I used smoked gouda).  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Use a standard cookie sheet to bake with.  Spray it with butter flavored cooking spray (or you can use parchment paper to line it with).

Cheese crackers   - Copyright Christine SternfelsCheese crackers3   - Copyright Christine SternfelsUnroll the pie crust dough and lay it on a flat surface.  Using a pizza cutter, I sliced it in 1.5 X 3.5 strips.  Carefully place the cut pieces on the cookie sheet,  it’s ok if the sides touch.  Sprinkle the cheese then place it in the oven.  Bake on the bottom rack for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Take it out of the oven when done and transfer the strips onto a wire cooling rack.  If you want to try it while it’s warm (which is what I did cause I couldn’t wait and it just smelled so good), just make sure to give it at least a couple of minutes to cool down.

Enjoy!  I was thinking next time, I should try sprinkling cinnamon and sugar!

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Lazy French Toast

Why “Lazy”?  It’s usually how I feel the next day after a party the night before.  While grabbing milk for my coffee and wondering what to eat and feed this hangover, I found leftover baguette from last night’s wine extravaganza.  There was about a loaf and a half left (I used it to accompany my spinach dip last night).  You can also use french bread.

Ingredients:  1 to 2 loaves baguette.  3 eggs.  1/3 cup milk.  2 pinches salt.  1 stick melted butter.  1 tsp. vanilla.  2 tbsp. cinnamon  (Quantity on the following depends on how much you want) – Craisins or raisins, sliced almonds and maple syrup.

Prep:  I used a 9X13 pan.  Melted the butter and spread it on the bottom and sides of the pan, then chilled the pan in the refrigerator while I sliced the bread 1/2 inch thick and set that aside.  In a bowl, beat the eggs then add the milk, salt, vanilla and 1 tbsp. cinnamon.  Get the pan out of the refrigerator and assemble.  In a honeycomb pattern (see picture) place the sliced bread in the pan.  Pour the egg mix evenly over the bread.  Sprinkle craisins (or raisins) and sliced almonds in desired amount.  Sprinkle 1 tbsp. cinnamon over everything.

Cook: Set oven to 400 degrees, pre-heat.  Place pan in the center (Center of the rack, set in the middle).  Cooking time 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve:  As soon as you take the pan out of the oven, drizzle maple syrup in desired amount then serve.  My family is casual when it comes to eating so I just put the pan on the table for everyone to serve themselves.  I also leave out the cinnamon and maple syrup – the husband usually likes to add more of that stuff.

Enjoy!


Chicken with asparagus in wine & butter

I love cooking with wine.  Most of it makes it in the pan.  Here’s another dish, great for entertaining or just dinner.  This took me about 20 minutes to make and five seconds to eat.  You can make a healthier version by grilling, but we’re talking spring in the Pacific Northwest people.  It’s in the 40′s out there!  For today, we are pan searing indoors.

Ingredients: 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, thawed.  2  cups white wine (I used pino grigio, but any white wine will work, even riesling). 4 tbsp butter.  1 tbsp olive oil.  1 bundle or about 1 lb. asparagus.  About 1 tsp salt.  About 1 tsp pepper.

Wash the asparagus, cut the bottom off.  To know how much to cut off, take the end of the asparagus between your thumb and forefinger and bend until it breaks.  Discard the bottoms and cut asparagus in half, place in a dish where you can soak it in 1/2 cup of wine.

Cut up chicken in strips.  Size and shape is up to you.  The smaller the pieces, the quicker it cooks.  Set heat to medium high.  Place chicken and 1 & 1/2 cups wine in pan and cover.  It should start boiling in about 5 minutes.  Mix it around and add salt and pepper.  I don’t measure.  I use rock salt and peppercorn and crank the grinder over the pan to sprinkle some on the chicken.  So 1 tsp. of each may not be enough, or too much.  Use your best judgement according to your taste and health requirements.

Mix, then cover for another 2 minutes.  Chicken should be cooked by now and wine should be almost gone (if the pan is dry and the chicken is not yet cooked, add another cup of wine for the chicken to cook in).

Increase heat to high.  Add the butter, olive oil and asparagus (with the wine it soaked in).  Mix around and cover for about 2 minutes.  Take lid off.  Sauté to mix flavors around and burn off the wine while charring parts of the chicken and asparagus (takes less than 5 minutes).  That’s it.  Plate, serve and manja!

I’ve used this as an appetizer, but I’ve also used it as a main dish with some pasta, pesto and marinara.  Either way, everyone enjoyed it.


Turkey Sliders

If you’re like me, when someone says “Turkey” I immediately think thanksgiving or too healthy to be delicious.

Well… I just found a way to make Turkey more appealing in flavor, while still keeping it somewhat healthy.  These are great for lunch or dinner and best for entertaining.  Another bonus… Kids love to make it and “gobble” it up.  Okay, enough with the puns… here we go!  We have three types of Sauces.  Italian, Asian and Mexican turkey sliders.

Serving Size: 16 sliders

Bread:  Use Ciabatta or dinner rolls, not exceeding 2.5 inches in diameter or on all sides.

Meat Patties: 2.5 lbs. lean ground turkey.  1 tsp. kosher salt.  1 tbsp. magi seasoning.  1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce.  1 tsp. parsley (chopped or flakes) and 1 tsp. cilantro (chopped or flakes).

Preparation & Cooking:  Mix all together (Make sure meat is thawed).    After thoroughly mixing all together, roll into 1.5 inch balls.  Flatten to 3.5 diameter patties.  Use a skillet or frying pan to cook.  Heat should be set to medium high.  Drizzle a tsp. of olive oil and cook your patties.  Set aside patties on a plate and keep the frying pan going.  We’ll need the pan and grease for the sauce.

Sauce:  Using frying pan and grease from cooking the patties, turn the heat up to high.  Mix in 1 tbsp. crushed garlic and brown.  After garlic is brown, add 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and mix for 10 seconds, then see below for following steps:

For Italian turkey sliders in a bowl, put together 2 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese.  3 tbsp. mayonnaise.  3 tbsp. Caesar salad dressing.  3 tbsp. Ranch dressing.  1 tsp. freshly crushed peppers.  Mix all ingredients.  Pour the sauce from the frying pan over this and continue to mix.    Spread on both top and bottom insides of bread.  Layer: Bottom bread, turkey patty, 1 slice tomato, basil leaf, top bread.  Serve with freshly tossed salad.  Enjoy with a glass of Syrah!

For Asian turkey sliders using the same frying pan after the garlic is browned and the balsamic vinegar mixed in, put 8 to 10 cups shredded cabbage (You can buy a coleslaw mix at the store and use that).  Add 1 tsp. sesame oil and 1 tsp. magi seasoning.  Mix all together until the cabbage is more than half-cooked.  Use 2 tbsp. or a scoop to put on your patty before placing the top bun.  Serve with some mini lumpia.  Enjoy with cranberry vodka tonic!

For Mexican turkey sliders using the same frying pan after the garlic is browned and the balsamic vinegar mixed in, thinly slice gold (yellow) sweet onions.  Brown it, add a tsp. of cumin and put on your patty, then place some spicy jalapeno potato chips before placing the top bun.  Serve with some tortilla chips, salsa and pico de gallo.  Enjoy with cold cerveza!  


Roasted Chicken with Chili and Corn bread

Sometimes you want to get creative but have no time to do everything from scratch.  I have several “semi home-made” methods with store-bought roasted chicken.  Here’s what I did with it today.

My daughter and I would play “Top Chef” at home.  She would pull ingredients from the refrigerator and the pantry, then I have 30 minutes to come up with a meal… not just a dish, but a whole meal.

Unlike Top Chef, my ingredients are pretty normal.  I don’t normally have eel, black licorice or exotic mushrooms around the kitchen.  Today, she pulled these ingredients, along with some left overs from the roasted chicken we had the other day.

For those who don’t know my food blogging style, I am not as detailed as a real food blogger.  I just slap things together most of the time but feel free to ask me anything if you need more detail.  The ingredients are, corn bread mix, 2 cans of chili, 2 tbsp steak sauce, 4 tbsp bbq sauce, Baja mix veggies and roasted chicken (I normally get the herb flavored roast, but you can choose any type that will go with the sides).  Let’s get started!

  1. Cook the corn bread following the package instructions, but add 1 cup of the Baja mix veggies for every 7 oz bag of corn bread mix.
  2. Follow heating instructions of chili, adding the steak sauce and bbq sauce – depending on how you like your chili, adjust the amounts of steak sauce and bbq sauce you add.
  3. Heat up your roasted chicken in the oven, microwave or pan.
  4. Plate it up.

My favorite was how the corn bread turned out.  That was a pleasant surprise and that I was done plating under 30 minutes!  Have fun with it if you try this!  Happy cooking.

For this recipe,


Moist & Tender Chicken Ranch BBQ

Flaming Chicken1 whole chicken (Large).  Cut it up in 10 – 12 pieces.  Marinade Sauce: 1 cup Ranch dressing  and 1 cup Italian dressing (Do not use fat-free dressing).  2 TBSP sea or kosher salt.  2 TBSP garlic powder.  2 TBSP onion powder.  2 TBSP Paprika.  2 TBSP Mesquite seasoning liquid smoke.

In a pot, put all ingredients of marinade sauce and use a hand egg beater to mix well.  Piece by piece, dip chicken piece and massage in the sauce mixture until all pieces are well coated.  Now put all the chicken in the same pot and cook on medium heat for 45 minutes, covered.

Use smoking hickory chips on top of your charcoal right before placing the chicken on the grill.   Best results if charcoal is about 5 inches away from grill and if grill has a cover.  Make sure the grill’s air vents are closed before placing the chicken.  Immediately cover your grill and keep closed for at least 8 minutes.  Manage your flames to ensure you don’t burn your food.  Bring the pot you cooked in with you so you can use the juices to brush on while you BBQ or dip the chicken in there every time you turn it.  Best with the chunky & moist corn breadand a spinach salad with tomatoes and a raspberry vinaigrette dressing topped with glazed walnuts and candied cranberries.  Enjoy!


Curry Potatoes with Garlic Pita

This dish is not only easy to make, but is also a party favorite!

Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: Less than an hour!

Ingredients for Curry Potatoes: 1 can coconut milk (approx 13.5 fl oz), 1/2 stick of unsalted butter (1 whole is better, but not if you’re watching your weight), 2 lbs. red potatoes (cut each potato into 8 pcs, leave skin on), 1 bunch spinach (cut stems off and then into 3 strips), 4 stems of fresh thyme (each stem about 5 inches), 1 cup chicken broth, 4 cubes curry paste (See samples of curry paste below).  You can choose the spice level.  I usually get the mild one and offer spices to my guests to add the extra kick.  Medium is also safe.

Now let’s cook!  Wash everything (Potatoes, spinach & thyme… not the butter).  Set heat on medium high, use any kind of pan that will hold your ingredients.  Start with the butter and thyme.  Once butter is melted and the thyme has been swished around in it for a minute, add the potatoes.  Mix it around on high to coat the potato, then pour in the chicken broth.  Your kitchen should start smelling good.  Cover for 5 minutes, leaving it on high.  Make sure it does not burn, adjust your heat down to medium if needed or slide the pot back and forth over the heat while keeping it covered.  We are trying to infuse the flavor of the stock into the potato.  Next, add the coconut milk.  Every time you add a new ingredient, mix everything around.  If the thyme leaves have fallen off by now, carefully pull the stem out of the pot, if not then it’s ok to wait till the end.   Cover for 5 minutes, leaving it on high.  Next, add the 4 cubes of curry paste.  They usually come with 8 cubes.  Scatter the 4 cubes in the pot and push it under the sauce.  Cover and leave on medium for 15 minutes stirring every now and then.  Now add the spinach, stir then cover and leave on medium for 5 minutes.  Let it simmer for an additional 20 minutes on low.  Best served hot off the stove.  Make sure all curry paste cubes have dissolved and stir very well to ensure good distribution of flavor.

Garlic Pita Recipe
Ingredients: A pinch of sea salt, Pita bread (5 pcs of the 7″ rounds), 1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin is best), 3 cloves of garlic (freshly peeled, not the bottled kind) and 5 big leaves of fresh basil.

Let us begin!  You can do this while cooking your curry.  Crush garlic (a good way to get your aggression out) and put in a small bowl.  Add the pinch of salt and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Mix around.  Now fold the basil in half and cut off the its spine and stem, then slice it up into little strips (no thicker than 2 pennies).  Add basil to the bowl, mix it around ad let it sit for a few minutes.  Then spread it on the pita using a spoon or marinade brush or even with your hands.  Pre-heat oven to 325 once you set your stove to low for your curry to simmer. On a cookie sheet, place the greased pita and let sit while the oven is pre-heating for 10 minutes then cook it in the oven, middle rack for 10 minutes.  To serve, cut into 8 pieces (like little slices of pizza).

You can pour the curry in a bowl and place it on a bigger plate so you can spread the pita slices on the plate for easy dipping access.  Enjoy!

PS… I will not be held responsible, if your friends start to frequent your house for this app…. just a warning!


Caprese Skewers

Serving size
24 skewers

Ingredients
24 Mozzarella balls.  24 Grape tomatoes.  Basil leaves.  (Optional) Traditional Basil Pesto Sauce & Spread.

Tools
Bamboo skewers (Can be found in most groceries, at least 4 – 5 inches in length with a knot on one end.  You can use long toothpicks or regular 6 inch skewer sticks) and sauce brush.

To make
Take a skewer and stick one mozzarella ball, followed by a basil leaf (poke on one end of leaf, one tomato, the other end of the same basil leaf and a mozzarella ball.  Lightly salt with sea salt.  (See picture)

OPTIONAL:  If you do not use a basil leaf, brush with the pesto sauce (Enough that all surface is coated) and no need to salt.   Plate, serve and enjoy.  Best served cold.  You can prepare during your party or before your guests arrive.

Have balsamic & olive oil on the side.  This is so easy to make!  Great with my Garlic Cheese Bread and Bad Salad!


Filipino Pork Lumpia

Lumpia are pastries of Chinese origin similar to fresh popiah or fried spring rolls popular in Indonesia and the Philippines. The term lumpia derives from Hokkien lunpia (traditional Chinese: 潤餅; pinyin: rùnbǐng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: jūn-piáⁿ, lūn-piáⁿ), which is an alternate term for popiah. The recipe, both fried and fresh versions, was brought by the Chinese immigrants from the Fujian province of China to Southeast Asia and became popular where they settled in Indonesia and the Philippines.

In the Netherlands and Flanders, it is spelled loempia which is the old Indonesian spelling for lumpia and has also become the generic name for “spring roll” in Dutch. A variant is the Vietnamese lumpia, wrapped in a thinner piece of pastry, in a size close to a spring roll though, the wrapping closes the ends off completely, which is typical for lumpia.  Taken directly from Wikipedia.

There are many ways to make lumpia.  You can get creative and use other meats, even fruits!  This is one of the easiest way I make mine.  Enjoy!

Makes 60 lumpias

Ingredients:  5 cloves garlic (crush).  1 whole yellow onion (dice).  1 pound ground pork.  3 tbsp. olive oil.  3 tbsp Magi seasoning.  1/2 cup oyster sauce.  2 cups Mung Bean Sprouts.  6 cups peas and carrots (About 32 oz).  1 tsp. black pepper. 2 packs Lumpia wrapper (I use Menlo 8X8 wrapper – see picture below).

How to cook the filling:  On high heat, use a frying pan and add oil.  Brown crushed garlic and diced onions.  Once browned, add pork and sauté until cooked.  Add Magi seasoning while sautéing.  On medium heat, add peas and carrots.  Mix every now and then while adding the oyster sauce, then cover for 5 minutes.  On low heat, add bean sprouts and black pepper.  Cover for 10 minutes.

Once the filling is cooked, either let it cool down completely before wrapping or  refrigerate for one day – which is what I do because the wrapper does not tear as easily.  If you wrap it the same day, drain the liquids from the filling first, then refrigerate for about an hour.

To wrap, follow the instructions on the back of Menlo’s packaging.  To cook, fry in 2 inches of oil at 375 degrees until golden brown.  For dipping sauce, the most popular in the United states is the Thai sweet chili sauce.  A true Filipino lumpia sauce (Called sawsawan) is made with vinegar, soy sauce, crushed black pepper and crushed garlic.  I use 1/4 cup soy sauce, 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 tsp crushed black pepper.  Eat over steamed rice with adobo (CLICK HERE to check out my pork adobo recipe!)

Enjoy your meal… don’t forget to say grace.


Refreshing Salsa Chicken Salad

Ingredients:  2 cups Chicken strips (1/2 X 2 inch – Baked, grilled, fried or roasted chicken breast), 1 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 cup chopped yellow onion, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 1 lime, 1 romaine lettuce, 2 cups crushed tortilla chips (Not finely crushed) and ranch dressing.  In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, onions and cilantro.  Squeeze the lime over the mix and add 2 pinches of kosher salt.  Mix and set the salsa aside.  Cut up the lettuce in 1/2 inch strips, wash to clean and put in a bigger bowl.  Put in 1/4 cup ranch dressing (Depending on the size of the lettuce you may need less or more.  But use enough to coat the lettuce lightly).  Add the chicken strips and drizzle a bit more ranch to very lightly coat the chicken.  Add the salsa, and mix everything together.  Before serving, add the crushed tortilla chips and mix/toss.  Serve and enjoy!  This goes great with the garlic cheese bread.

The picture shown is a variation of this recipe.  The ranch dressing was blended with pico de gallo instead and was served without the tortilla chips because of this no carb diet I’m on.  I bought an 8 ounce tub and slowly added the ranch dressing (about 1/2 a cup).  I used a whole roasted lemon pepper chicken, de boned and cubed the meat.  I cut 2 whole romaine lettuce in 1 inch strips.  Cut up a lemon into 8 wedges.  I put all the ingredients in its own bowl and set up the assembly line.  Took less than 10 minutes to prepare, made 10 servings.


Easy Oriental Noodle Recipe

Picture by CJ Sternfels

This took me 20 minutes to prepare, using left over grilled steak.  Servings 6-8

Inspired by the Filipino dish called Pancit lomein (I think I spelled that right).  Oriental style noodles are packaged in balls and usually come 12 to a pack.  Each is about 3 inches in diameter uncooked.  Follow the instructions on the package on how to cook the noodles.  I just boiled some water, drop 6 noodle balls in there, kept it in for 3-5 minutes and placed the cooked noodles in the strainer.  I used two forks to spread them out a bit.  Still in the strainer, I put about two tbsp Maggi seasoning, 1 tbsp garlic powder and 1 tbsp sesame oil and mixed it around.  Because the noodles are still hot, it sucks in the flavors.  Set aside uncovered.

If you don’t have cooked meat, you can stir fry some chicken pieces.  I’ve used de-boned and skinned thighs and used 4 to 5 thawed and fully defrosted thighs.  Slice it in stir fry size (1/2 x 1/2 X 1 inch).  Heat 1 tbsp. sesame oil on high.  Sauté 3 cloves (crushed) of garlic. 3 chives chopped (in 1/4 inch pieces) with the chicken for 3-5 minutes or until meat is cooked and browned.   Flavor with 2 tbsp oyster sauce.  Then mix in 3 bunches of bokchoy or one small Chinese cabbage (Cut in 1 inch strips) and stir for a minute.  You can use any meat and add more vegetables.  This recipe is very forgiving.  While sautéing the meat and vegetables, slowly add the noodles in until all are in the wok or pan.  Add Maggi as needed, scoop some up in a bowl and enjoy!

If you have cooked meat, prepare the same way, just takes less time to cook.


Sausage in Raspberry Vinaigrette Sauce

Servings: 6.  Prep time 15 minutes.

Ingredients: 10 smoked sausage links (Regular hot dog size).  1 pound broccoli florets.  1/4 cup raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing.  1/2 cup water.

Cut sausage diagonally, each link into 4 pieces.  Boil in water covered on high for 10 minutes, or until water is reduced.  Add salad dressing, cover on high for 2 minutes.  Add broccoli (Cut and washed clean) florets, mix and cover for 2-3 minutes.  Cooking on high the entire time.

The time to cook depends on the intensity of your heat.  Ensure sausage is fully cooked and slightly browned before adding the broccoli.  Broccoli should be half-cooked.  Serve and enjoy!


Pop’s Fried Chicken

Inspired by the Filipino fried chicken, goes great with banana ketchup!

Serving: 2-4

1 Game hen, cut in half.  Thawed, washed and patted dry.  In a ziplock bag (One with a seal and big enough to fit your meat), squeeze 1/2 small lime, 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp. sea salt, 4 tbsp. soy sauce, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. cummin, 1 tsp. garlic powder.  Place meat in the bag of marinade and massage for a minute.  Place in the freezer for 20 minutes before cooking.

Cook in a skillet.  Set heat to medium high, place meat skin up with marinade in the skillet, cover for 10 minutes.  Take lid off, turn the pieces around, cover for another 10 minutes.  Take lid off (keep it off) and put heat on high.  Pan starts to dry and have some oil from the marinade.  Feel free to add a bit more oil if you have to.  Just enough to pan sear until cooked inside and the skin is a combination of gold and brown.

Great with a spinach and tomato salad with sesame ginger dressing and some steamed rice.

Enjoy!


Chicken Chutney Pita

Quick and easy.  Makes 6 servings. 5 minutes to prepare.

3 Breast Patties.
3 pieces Pita bread.
1 tomato
3 TBSP chutney
3 TBSP mayonnaise.

I purchased the cooked chicken breast at Wal-mart, but I’m sure it’s available at any grocery store in the frozen food section.  The Deshi chutney can be found in the Asian section by the Indian food, I got mine at a mediterranean grocery store.  There are several kinds of chutney, this is the green one (Coriander).  Hot is good, it gives a bit of a kick.  Pita you can get at the bread or frozen food section as well.

Heat up the chicken according to the product instruction.  While I had the 3 patties in the microwave for 3 minutes, I was heating up the pita bread on my non stick skillet, stove on high at 30 seconds each side.  Slice the tomatoes thinly.  In a bowl, mix mayo and chutney.

Spread the mayo and chutney mix on each pita bread.  Cut the pita and chicken patties in half.  On one half of the pita, place a layer of tomatoes, 2 half patties, then top it with another half pita, cut it in the middle and serve.

You can add cucumbers and lettuce if you want.  That’s it!  Easy to make and great for entertaining.


Pan-Seared Garlic Salmon and Butter Garlic Spinach & Mushroom

Pan-seared Salmon

Ingredients:  2 lbs salmon (defrosted, cut into 4 pcs).  10 cloves garlic, crushed.  1/2 stick butter.  8 oz sliced white mushrooms.  10 oz ready to eat spinach.  1 lemon.  1 tsp salt.  1 tsp basil.  1 tsp parsley.  1 tsp olive oil.

With the stove on medium, drizzle olive oil in your frying pan and place the salmon with the skin face down.  Squeeze the entire lemon, then sprinkle the salt and basil on all pieces,  cover for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, place a 2 qt sauce pan on the stove set on high.  Drizzle some olive oil and half of the crushed garlic, saute for 2 minutes then place the mushrooms and mix enough to coat most of the mushrooms with oil and garlic.  Cover for 2 minutes, then mix again and add 2-3 pinches of salt for flavor.  Now add the spinach (stuff it all in there) and cover for 2-3 minutes.

Back to the frying pan, sprinkle the remaining crushed garlic on all salmon pieces then flip it so now the skin is facing up.  Set the stove on high, cover for 1-2 minutes.  Flip the fish again and press down on pan, leave uncovered for 2 minutes.

Back to the sauce pan.  Take the cover off, place over the sink and drain the liquid created by the mushrooms and spinach.  Create a hole in the center and place the butter until it melts.  Mix and add a couple more pinches of salt.  Now serve by placing the salmon on a bed of spinach and mushrooms.  Drizzle the parsley over the food…. Enjoy!

Keep in mind that stove heat may vary.  If the time I used to cook is not enough to cook your food, adjust accordingly.


Empanadas

The Philippines has such a variety of foods, but the ones I favor most are those influenced by Spanish cuisine.  This is one of them.  I remember watching my mom make these when I was my daughter’s age.  While CJ and I were making them yesterday, memories came rushing back and it felt good.  I felt like a child again, but this time I was the mom cooking with my daughter.

An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries of Latin America and the south of Europe. The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanada is made by folding a dough or bread patty around the stuffing. The stuffing can consist of a variety of meats, cheese, huitlacoche, vegetables or fruits among others.  CLICK HERE to read more from Wikipedia.

I normally sauté  ground pork with raisins or olives for the filling.  This recipe is the “American Empanada”.  I used pre cooked Tyson chicken breast patties.  I cut each in half, placed it on the rolled dough, folded, sealed and cooked.  It’s like having your fried chicken and roll all in one.  The dough was pretty easy to make.

Ingredients:  3 cups all-purpose flour.  1 teaspoon salt.  1/4 cup lard, cut into small pieces.  1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces.  2 eggs, lightly beaten with 1/2 cup water.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Work in the lard and butter, using your fingers. Work the egg mixture into the dough and knead until smooth. Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

While waiting, grab your yoga mat and do 100 sit ups and push ups.  If you’re too tired or lazy, grab a drink and the remote control and channel surf or watch Oprah.  Ok… now we’re ready to cook!

Take the pre-cooked chicken patties and cut in half.  Take the dough and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, then place it on a floured surface and roll in 6 inch rounds.  Place the half patty on one side of each round (with the straight side facing the center – see picture),  fold it in half, and press the edges together. Crimp the edges of the pastry with a fork to seal.

In a deep-fryer or large skillet, heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Fry in batches until golden brown (About 4-5 minutes in the deep fryer). Drain on paper towels before serving.  Serve these chicken empanadas with dipping sauce like Bbq sauce, catsup or honey mustard.  Or you can eat it commando (naked – the empanada, not you).

Making honey mustard is so easy. The ingredients are 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (Optional). Mix and refrigerate. You can play with the measurements as we all have different preference, some like more honey, some don’t add the lemon juice.

Before serving, you can cut it in half so you don’t get yelled at for double dipping!  So take a piece, dip, open mouth and take a big bite of crunchy, juicy goodness.  Then run five miles so you can have more.  Enjoy!


Mini Philly

What happens when you’re stuck at home, snowed in, starving and there’s nothing in the fridge because you’ve been procrastinating going to the grocery?  You check out the freezer!

So what happens if all you have is a bag of Brown & Serve French Bread Sticks, a pound of beef chuck and a bag of shredded four cheese blend that you forgot about?  You make Mini Phillies!  Thank goodness I stock up on those grill mate marinade spices, now I shall create some yummyness.

I boiled the pound of beef chuck just enough to be able to cut it up in thin slices, added half the packet of spices (Peppercorn & Garlic) in the pot with just enough water to make sure your meat is under water.  After a few minutes I took the meat out, cut it in half and put it back in for another three to five minutes before I sliced it thinly and set it to the side.  Turn the broiler on.

Get a skillet or frying pan out, set stove on high heat.  Add enough olive oil to sauté thinly sliced onions ( about 1/2 of a medium-sized yellow onion) and beef.  Add the onions when the oil is super hot, then once it’s golden brown, add the beef.  Sauté for a minute, add the rest of the grill mates packet and mix to coat all the meat with it.  Add a tsp. of balsamic vinegar, mix all of it around for a minute or two and set aside.

Place the bread sticks open-faced on a cookie sheet.  Put some beef on the bread and top it with cheese.  Broil it till the cheese melts and that’s it… fold the bread and chow down after letting it cool down a bit so you don’t burn yourself.

I don’t know how many servings this makes because it all depends on how much beef and cheese you put on your bread.  I was able to use the whole bag of bread (8 pcs).  It’s a pretty friendly recipe, just have fun with it.  To serve for appetizers, cut in half diagonally, sprinkle freshly chopped parsley before serving.  Enjoy!


Cab Sauv Swirls


This took me 30 minutes to make, using left over wine from a gathering before the holidays. Had we been home for Christmas it would have probably been consumed by now.  Servings 6-8 if served as a dish. 18-24 if served as an appetizer.

What you’ll need are a package of oriental style noodles, 1 stick of butter, 3 cloves of garlic thinly sliced lengthwise (not chopped or crushed), 4 defrosted medium-sized skinned and boned chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes, 2 tbsp seasoning (looks like soy sauce and can be purchased at all Asian stores and most groceries in the Asian aisle), 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (normally used as lumpia or crab rangoon dip and can be purchased at all Asian stores and most groceries in the Asian aisle) and 2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon.

LET’S COOK!

Start with the noodles. Oriental style noodles are packaged in balls and usually come 12 to a pack. Each is about 3 inches in diameter uncooked. Boil 6 to 8 cups of water, drop 6 noodle balls in there, kept it in for 2 to 3 minutes then transfer the noodles to a strainer.  Remember, you will be adding the noodles to the rest of the ingredients later, so cooking it a little less than al dente is ok.  Using cooking shears (Or you can use any scissors, make sure it is clean enough to cut food with), I cut each clump of noodles twice (Once horizontally, once vertically) before I transfered it.  Use caution, don’t burn your hands!  Once the noodles were in the strainer, I ran it under cold water while loosening them, then I set it to the side.  In a frying pan on medium high heat, put these ingredients in this order: Wine, butter, chicken and garlic. Cover until the butter is completely melted. Mix every couple of minutes. While not mixing, keep it covered. Once the chicken is cooked, put the heat on high then add the seasoning and sweet chili sauce. Keep uncovered and stir once in a while. Once all the liquid has been reduced and the meat is starting to sizzle in the butter oil, add the noodles and mix well. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan for 5 minutes. Stir before serving.  It will look like a mess but honey, I promise you it is a delicious mess!

LET’S EAT!

If this dish is for dinner, simply serve in a bowl.  Using a fork, swirl the noodles and serve.  If you’re serving it as an appetizer, use those little disposable bamboo forks you can find in culinary stores or most groceries in the baking aisle.  Using the bamboo fork, swirl the noodles while in the pan and serve it on a small dish or a banan leaf square.  You can also serve it in a take-out Chinese food box and swirl it with chopsticks.  Just have fun with swirling it, but most of all, enjoy eating it!


Egg sandwiches

So it is the day after Easter and you have a dozen or so of hard-boiled eggs in your fridge.  Here’s an easy recipe for egg sandwiches.

One dozen eggs 
1/4 cup French fried onions
1/4 cup Ranch dressing
1 tbsp Mayo
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tbsp cilantro flakes
1/8 cup crispy bacon optional

Peel eggs, mash and mix everything.  Bacon is optional,  You can add the ingredients a little at a time to reach desired texture.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Serve in a bowl with pita, Hawaiian rolls, sliced bread, wheat crackers or torn tortilla wraps on th side or simply make egg sandwiches and serve.  You can even chop lettuce and add a cup on the side before serving.  Enjoy!


20 minute T-bone steak

Ok, so it’s steak night! I’m so excited, since all I’ve been eating are cucumbers and boiled chicken breasts for two weeks. Anyway, I found a great mix of seasoning to have that grilled taste without cooking outside or using rubs or oils!

Here we go…
2.5 ponds T-bone steak, washed. 1 tbsp salt (mixture of kosher and sea), 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp cilantro flakes, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp ground pepper. Rub on the steak like you were a masseuse! Now we’re ready to cook!

Put stove on high, use a frying pan with a lid. Once the pan is hot (I started heating it up before I washed my beef), put your steak in the pan and cover. You will see the smoke circulating in there, which is fine. Do not put any oil, it’s not needed. I use a non stick pan.

I kept it on each side (pan always covered) for 3-4 minutes heat on high then another 2 minutes on each side on medium. Depending how you like your steak will determine how long you keep it in there, you be the judge.

Because of my diet, I thinly sliced the meat and immediately wrapped it in fresh baby spinach, held it with a toothpick to warm the spinach for a minute, then ate it. Mmmmm it was good. But you don’t need to do it that way. You can chop it up and make soft tacos by piling it up on a tortilla lined with freshly chopped romaine hearts, a squeeze of lime then top it off with fresh salsa! If you go this route, might I suggest a chilled cerveza be within reach.

Enjoy!


Bacon Clam Chowder

This is incredibly easy to make but once you try it… you won’t believe how “gourmet” it tastes like! 

Servings – 8 to 10 bowls

Ingredients: 1 whole yellow onion (diced),  a dozen stems of fresh thyme (about 5 inches long per stem) 1 pound regular breakfast bacon, in 1/2 inch slices (the fatter the better and hardwood smoke flavor is recommended, not the maple bacon), 2 – 10 oz cans of baby clams, 8 cups milk, 1 large russet potato (peeled, washed and cut in 1/2 inch cubes) and 1 packet of the Bear Creek clam chowder soup mix.  Pictures of the brands I used are below.

Ok… let’s cook!  I used a 6 quart pot.  For me, the container doesn’t matter as long as your ingredients fit.  Heat on high, pot hot, start with the bacon and thyme.  Stir around every now and then until some grease comes out of the bacon, then throw in the onions and stir every now and then till the sides of the onions are brown and the bacon is almost crispy.  Lower heat to medium, throw in the potatoes, mix around till all potatoes are coated in the bacon/onion/thyme mixture.  Cover for about 3 minutes, then stir and cover for another 3 minutes.  Gauge when to stir and uncover since stove top heat differs.  Just don’t let it burn.  Now throw in the clams and its juice, stir well.  Set the heat back to high while stirring for a couple of minutes. While still on high, add 3 cups of milk, stir… then add the 4 cups of water, stir and cover on high untill it boils.  Once it boils, add in the soup mix.  Stir well, lower heat to medium low then cover for 3 minutes.  Stir again making sure the bottom is not burning or clumping is not happening, use a whisk.  Cover on low and let it simmer for 20 minutes, then set aside. 

The brand I used is Southern Mills and can be found at your local grocer.  Now to make the biscuits, simply buy this mix and follow directions.  I use ice-cold water to mix with my batter for best results, the biscuits come out perfect…  soft inside and flaky outside.  Also, instead of 6, I make 12 small biscuits with this mix, it’s perfect for dipping! 

I melted 1/3 of a stick of butter in a small bowl and dipped the top of cooked biscuit, placed it back on the cookie sheet and back in the oven for an extra 2 minutes while the oven is still on. 

 Now enjoy a warm cup of chowder and freshly baked cheddar biscuits.  It is the perfect comfort food for a cold and lazy day!  One day I will try to make fish and chips to go along with this.


Garlic mashed potatoes and home-made gravy for your Thanksgiving turkey

There’s nothing like home-made gravy from turkey drippings, slathered on garlic mashed potatoes.  It’s easier than you think… here we go!

Makes  8-10 servings

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

You will need:  1 Cheese cloth, 8 cloves garlic peeled & sightly pressed, 1 stick real butter, 3 pounds red potatoes, 1/2 cup of cream or half & half, 2 chicken bullions and 2 tbsp chopped parsley.
 
In the cheesecloth, wrap the garlic.  Bundle it up, creating a pouch, twist and place inside the turkey before putting your stuffing in.  Once the Turkey is cooked, pull out the pouch with the garlic in it.  Take the garlic out and mash on a plate using a fork.  Melt 1 stick butter and brown the mashed garlic on high heat, set aside. 
 
 
If you’re making this without a turkey, simply press the garlic and boil it with the potatoes.  Skip the part about browning it in the butter. 

Boil 4 cups of water in a 4 qt pot, add chicken bullion and mix to dissolve.  Cut your potatoes in quarters, put it in the pot and add more water to cover potatoes.  Boil covered for 10-15 minutes (may vary).  Once cooked, strain for 2-3  minutes.

Then put in a bowl for mashing.  Leave some clumps for texture.  Add the butter and garlic and mix with a spatula, add the cream or half and half, then the parsley.  Mashed potatoes are ready to be covered in gravy now!    

Home Made Gravy

You will need:  Cooking oil, flour, turkey drippings, black pepper and salt to taste.

After roasting your turkey, use the drippings to make gravy.  The stuff that settles at the bottom of the pan is what makes it delicious, so make sure you get some of that when pouring the turkey drippings into a bowl. 

In a skillet (on medium high heat), use 4 tbsp cooking oil or the oil from your turkey drippings.  Add half a cup of white flour, stir using a whisk in a circular motion for about 10-15 seconds.  Add in 3 cups of drippings (half a cup at a time) and continue to whisk until the all the clumps are gone.  Add salt and pepper to taste, although salt may not be needed if you seasoned your turkey well.  Cook on high and cover for at least 3 minutes, whisk and set aside.  The gravy will get thicker if you let it stand for about 5 minutes.  If you want thicker gravy, simply add more flour 2 tbsp at a time while continuing to whisk on medium heat.     

That’s all there is to it!  Enjoy your Holiday.  Here are links to other recipes for Thanksgiving

  • Perfect Roast Turkey by the Barefoot Contessa
  • Chunky & Moist Corn Bread
  • Bad Salad


  • Turkey Meatloaf

     Ingredients:

    • 6 oz French’s original French fried onions
    • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
    • 2 tbsp. Cumin
    • 2 tbsp. Magi seasoning
    • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 cup minced garlic
    • 1/2 cup relish
    • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 2.5 pounds lean ground turkey 

     

    Directions

    1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    2. In a large bowl, mix everything thoroughly.  Roll into a 4 inch log and place on a cookie sheet or transfer the mixture to a 5×9 inch loaf pan.
    3. Bake covered in the preheated oven 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C), and continue baking uncovered 15 minutes, to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).Serve and enjoy with a glass (or bottle) of Merlot! 

    Sides suggested: Garlic Mashed potato & veggies or Spanish rice and cranberry preserve.

    Servings: 12


    Smoked & Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms

    stuffedmushroomIngredients:  40 Large white mushrooms.    5 cloves garlic.  1 stick butter.  5 stalks chives.  Salt & pepper.  Cheddar cheese.  Prep:  Soak mushrooms in cold water while pulling off its base or stem.  Put stems in a bowl.  Set the mushroom head upside down on an ungreased cookie sheet that will fit 40 large mushrooms  (Approx 14X20).  Melt butter in the microwave at full power for 1 minute.  In a food processor or chopper, finely chop the mushroom stem, garlic and chives.  Add the melted butter until the consistency is like mashed potato.  Place in a bowl and add 1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese (Mild or sharp).  Mix all together then start stuffing the mushroom until the mix is all gone.  Place some hickory smoking chips in your grill right before you put the cookie sheet on the grill.  Close lid to smoke for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your coal’s heat intensity.  To know if it is done, mushroom will have a smooth glazed look on the body.  Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley before serving.


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