Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Creating My Own- Brisket Hash

I posted my breakfast potato recipe a while back. It's definitely one of my favorites because it's a recipe that's my own adaption of my father's idea and it just so happens to taste great, too. We had some leftover brisket from our recent party and I decided to try it out in the same method that I use for my breakfast potatoes. Kind of like a hash. Guess what? It's awesome.

I started by dicing up the brisket into large cubes and sauteed them in a hot 15" frying pan, sprayed with nonstick spray. Sauteed for a few minutes until they sweated a little grease and removed the meat from the pan. Added 2 small chopped onions, a chopped green pepper, and sauteed on med-high until slightly soft. Cut 4 red potatoes into a large dice and added to the pan. After a few minutes I turned the heat to low and covered the pan, tilting the lid to let the steam out. I let them go on low for about an hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so, and then added back the brisket cubes. 30 minutes later I topped it with American Cheese; another 15 minutes covered on low, and served.

Wow. This was amazing. Looked just as good as my breakfast potatoes, but darker. I was concerned that it would be too greasy, but the meat juices combined with the vegetables to make this awesome gravy. The brisket softened while cooking and the spices from it mixed throughout the dish. It was simply fantastic. Go me. :)

A Party is a Great Excuse for New Dishes! Marinated Veggies & Succotash Salad

We had a big party this past weekend and lucked out with great weather for March. We brought out the smoker and I had a blast deciding what to put out with it. I love putting together a party menu! I put an obsessive amount of thought, reading, and brainstorming before making a final decision. I even buy a few back up things to have on hand just in case. Love it!! This year I browsed through all my books, jotting down tasty things that went well for a group and could sit out for the whole party. We had people arriving over the course of the day and I like to try and have fresh food at various intervals to keep things interesting. Here are a few things that I tested out on my friends.

Roasted Marinated Vegetables- Kitchen Secrets
The picture in this cookbook has been luring me for years. It shows all of the different vegetables, looking grilled and delicious. I love love love grilled vegetables, but they're such a pain to make and this particular picture looks pretty intimidating. When I was browsing through and finally read the method I realized that the veggies were baked and not grilled! I decided to make a grilled veggie try instead of my usual crudite and see how it went over. The recipe calls for a pound of new potatoes and I found miniature potatoes at Trader Joe's that were adorable. I thought it would be a fun substitute to the dish. I also used zucchini, red & green peppers, squash, eggplant and red onion. I decided to hold off on adding the mushrooms until the next day but ended up forgetting them the next day.

Sidebar- I hate slicing onions!!! No matter what I do or what tricks I try I end up with sore eyes for the next hour. These particular onions were a doozy.

After everything was cut up, I put all of the vegetables on a disposable baking tray, wrapped with saran wrap, and placed in the fridge for the next day. About an hour or so before the party started I removed the veggies & transferred everything into two pans; leaving a single layer on each pan. Baked everything for 15 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Once it was ready, I drizzled the marinade over everything and left out to cool. The original recipe stated to cook the potatoes first but since they were mini I cooked them all together. They were a little underdone, so I threw them back in the oven for a few minutes and all was well. I transferred everything to two platters and served with slices of fresh mozzeralla.

The trays were beautiful and exactly what I was hoping for! The vegetables were delicious, with the exception of the eggplant which was a little tough for my taste. The balsamic in the marinade was such a nice touch and it was nice to have a veggie option that was outside of the box. My only complaint was that I didn't put the leftovers away early enough and had to throw them away after being out all day. I would make this again and again! I want to try it next as a side dish to a pasta or lasagna meal, which is one that I often have trouble pairing veggies with.

Succotash Salad- Smoke &Spice
I love the new trend to use edamame beans as a replacement for lima beans in succotash recipes. Such a great idea! I knew that I wanted this type of salad for one of my side dishes and picked this one because it seemed fresh & simple. The recipe calls for baby string beans and I had planned on using frozen haricot verts that I keep in the freezer. Unfortunately, I didn't have them. All I had was frozen or canned green beans so I went the frozen route. They didn't thaw to the texture that I wanted so I grabbed a new bag at the last minute. The salad didn't take long at all. I combined the corn, green beans, edamame and celery and put them in the fridge the night before. On the day of the party, I added the shallots & parsley and mixed it all up with the vinaigrette before serving. Asthetically, it was a boring salad. In the future I would add carrots or something colorful to the mix to keep it from being boring. Maybe serve in a lettuce cup? It tasted very good, although I felt that there was way too much oil in the dressing. There was quite a bit leftover and I found it to be delicious when I heated it up as a dinner side dish later in the week. I would make the succotash again, but slightly altered the next time.

Roasted Marinated Vegetables- Kitchen Secrets
1lb small new potatoes, quartered
2T olive oil
1T chopped fresh rosemary or 1tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1tsp salt
1 large sweet red pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into strips 1-inch wide
1 large sweet green pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into strips 1-inch wide
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch slices
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1-inch slices
2 small red onions, cut into slim wedges
8oz button mushrooms, stemmed & wiped clean
2 cloves garlic, minced
*For the marinade
3T balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, or lemon juice
1T olive oil
1T chopped parsley
2tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
2tsp Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, minced
1tsp finely grated lemon zest, optional
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450F. In a large shallow pan, toss potatoes with oil, rosemary, and salt. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in sweet peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Bake, uncovered, stirring frequently, until vegetables are lightly browned and tender- 35 to 45 minutes.
3. To prepare the marinade: In a small bowl, whish together vinegar, oil, parsley, thyme, mustard, garlic, lemon zest, salt & pepper until smooth. Pour marinade over vegetables in a roasting pan and stir gently but thoroughly to coat. Cool to room temperature. Makes 6 servings

Succotash Salad- Smoke Spice
8oz fresh thin young green beans, trimmed, and halved or thirded diagonal
2c cooked baby limas, butter beans, or shelled edamame, fresh or frozen
2c cooked corn kernels
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
2 large shallots, minced
2T minced fresh parsley
6T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
pinch or 2 of sugar
2T cider vinegar

1. Steam the beans over simmering water for a few brief minutes, just until tender. Run cold water over the beans to retain their bright green color and drain. Transfer the green beans, limas, corn, celery, shallots, & parsley to a large bowl.
2. Prepare the dressing, whisking together their ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss until completely combined, and chill covered for at least 1 hour. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Monday, March 14, 2011

London Broil II- AllRecipes.com

I have to start by saying that this might be the most boring title of any recipe that I've prepared so far.... I guess that I could have prepared London Broil I, but this one caught my eye first! London broil is a tempermental piece of meat. I grew up thinking that I hated steak until I was older and had steak prepared the right way. By "the right way", I mean medium to medium rare so it's tender, bloody, and delicious. The wrong way, which is how my mother always prepared it, was medium well to well done, little to no seasoning, and cut thickly on the grain. I have memories of spitting pieces of steak into my napkin simply because my jaw was too tired to keep chewing them. I remember the first time that I had london broil prepared properly and my amazement at how delicious it could be! After Shawn made a successful attempt on the grill, I was exited to have an affordable option for steak. I bought some on sale this week and in a measure to conserve time, energy, and propane I found a recipe with a broil option.

I scored the meat in a diamond pattern. They said to cut about 1/8 inch in but apparantly my knife is sharper than I realized and I cut in about 1/4-1/2 inch in some spots. I mixed up the marinade (halving the ingredients to accommodate the size of meat that I was cooking) and poured it into a plastic bag with the steak. Put it in the fridge to marinade until dinner.

Dinner was ready very quickly. I sauteed up some pierogies with onions, heated up leftover broccoli & cauliflower from the day before, and they were ready by the time that the steak was. I broiled it for 8 minutes on each side and it was cooked to a perfect medium with a cripsy crust. Looked beautiful! The end result..... well, I think that I need to marinade it longer next time. The flavor was good, but didn't shine through and the steak was pretty tough. Kind of a disappointment. I'll try again but marinade overnight to try and toughen up the meat and really bring out the flavor.

London Broil II- AllRecipes.com

Monday, March 7, 2011

Veal Stew with Tomatoes- How to Cook Everything

A few weeks ago, when I bought the short ribs, I also bought a few veal shoulder cube steaks as an alternative for dinner. I didn't realize at the time that veal cube steaks and veal steaks/ cutlets are not the same thing. I looked around and found an easy braising recipe that I thought would be a good way to ease into cooking this new cut of meat. The recipe says that it should be served with rice, noodles, or bread to soak up the sauces. I opted for egg noodles simply because I like egg noodles. Correction- I love egg noodles!

The meat defrosted easily overnight and was perfect for slicing and preparing the next day. I cut the steaks into 1 inch pieces and sauteed them in butter, in batches so they weren't crowded, until browned on all sides. Put them on a plate and wiped the pan clean. I sauteed the onions for about 5-10 minutes, until softened, and then added the garlic. Added a touch of salt, pepper, and white wine (I keep a cheap bottle in the fridge for cooking) and simmered for a minute.

The recipe specifies that you can use canned or fresh tomatoes, so I used canned tomatoes, rinsed thoroughly. I added them with the remaining spices, returned the veal to the skillet, and turned on low for about an hour. I was concerned that there wasn't enough liquid to properly braise the veal because I halved the recipe and the liquid covered only half of the meat. I stirred it every 20 minutes or so and cooked up the noodles right before serving. You could add olives at the end, but the step was optional and neither of us really care for olives, so I skipped that part.

The Verdict- The veal was absolutely fantastic! So amazingly tender. It was really, really good. I might try it with beef or chicken stock instead of wine next time to cut back on a light acidity from the wine and the tomatoes. As far as the noodles go, I hadn't had egg noodles in a while and forgot how much I absolutely love them. That being said, they didn't really do anything for the dish. I think that the stock exchange (he-he) and pairing the dish with some orzo risotto, cheesy grits, or a nice crusty bread would take this up a few more notches.

Veal Stew with Tomatoes- How to Cook Everything- Mark Bittman

3Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 1/2- 2lbs lean veal stew meat, cut into 1" chunks
1c diced onions
1tsp diced onions
1tsp minced garlic
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1c white wine, meat, or vegetable stock, or water
2c cored & chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; drain them first)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp minced fresh thyme or rosemary leaves or 1/2 tsp dried thyme or crumbled rosemary
1c good pitted black olives (optional)

Place a large skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil or butter. A minute late, when the butter foam subsides or the first wisps of smoke rise from the oil, brown the veal chunks, adding a few at a time, turning them to brown all over, and removing the pieces as they brown. Take your time and don't crowd the pan, or they will not brown properly.

Wipe out the pan, lower the heat to medium, add the remaining butter or oil, and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the salt, pepper, & wine, bring to a boil and let cook for 1 minute

Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme or rosemary, and bring to a simmer. Return the veal to the skillet, turn the heat to very low, cover and cook, stirring every now and then, until the veal is tender, 45 minutes or more. Add the olives, if you like. Taste and correct seasoning, if necessary, then serve with bread, rice, or noodles.

Spicy Crunchy Chickpeas- All You

I love a good snack!! Something about working in an office makes me ravenous on a daily basis around 3 or 4pm. I try to keep healthy snacks on hand in my desk to keep me on track and away from the candy. I have had this recipe for quite a while and was so intrigued to try it. I decided to put it all together and see how it came out before testing it out on others.

I started by rinsing a can of chickpeas and then dried them with some paper towels. I mixed the spices together with a tablespoon of olive oil, mixed it with the beans, and laid it all out on a sheet pan. Baked at 400 for 50 minutes, while shaking the pan every 10 minutes or so. Voila! When they came out of the oven they were crispy, but not crunchy. That comes after they cool. You definitely need to cool them for about 30 minutes before putting in a bowl or airtight container.

The Verdict! The next day they were crunchy and addictive. I would make this again and again, however I wouldn't use the same spice combination. I'm not a fan of cinnamon and it really shone through all of the other spices. I recently found another version that uses salt, pepper, and garam masala and I'm totally trying it. I love that it's a protein filled snack that's crunchy, salty, and costs about $2 to make a huge batch of it! It's totally on.

Spicy Crunchy Chickpeas- All You

2Tbsp olive oil
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp cumin
1tsp allspice
1tsp salt
1/2tsp pepper
2 15oz cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained, thoroughly patted dry

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, combine olive oil with spices; add chickpeas, and toss to coat thoroughly. Turn chickpeas out onto baking sheet and roast, stirring or shaking the baking sheet often, until chickpeas are browned and crunchy, 45- 50 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool before serving, stirring occasionally.

*You can toss in a generous pinch of cayenne or chili powder with the spices

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Salad- All You Magazine

I really wish my husband liked fish. He finally started eating some seafood, but would never order it or eat a whole dinners worth if I made it. Because I don't cook it often I am a little timid about new recipes. I finally figured out that I could easily prepare fish filets in the toaster oven to perfect temperature and am loving it! I can make salmon for me and chicken for Shawn without having to use a second saute pan. I also try to take advantages of night's alone to make things that he'd never eat.

Tonight I knew I'd be alone so I bought a salmon filet while shopping. I found a quick recipe using mostly things that I had in my fridge, including a cucumber and plain Greek yogurt that both needed to be used in the next few days. It was from my All You magazine and had everything that I was looking for. Easy, healthy, and featuring fish. Sold!

A few hours before dinner I sliced up the cucumber, mixed up the yogurt, garlic, and dill; and put it all in the fridge until later. After I put John to bed, I took out the salmon and sprinkled it with salt & pepper. I skipped the olive oil step and just sprayed some Pam on the toaster tray. The recipe featured a broil option, which my handy dandy toaster oven has so I warmed it up and put the salmon in for 15 minutes. I flipped it once about halfway through, and served it with the cucumber salad.

Very tasty and very easy. I debated for a while on what starch to serve with it and ended up just toasting some whole wheat Tuscan bread. What a nice simple meal! I love when salmon gets a nice crispy crust to it. The cucumbers were delicious and the dill sauce went so well with the fish. I could see it pairing well with a chicken breast, too, and will have to keep that in mind for when we're grilling this summer.

Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Salad- All You Magazine

2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
1/2 small clove garlic, minced
1tsp dried dill, or 1Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 lb salmon filet, cut into 4 pieces
1Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

1. In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, & dill and mix well. Cover & refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 6 hours
2. Preheat gas grill to medium high. Rub salmon with olive oil and sprikle with salt & pepper. Oil grill and cook salmon, skin side down, 4-5 minutes. Use a wide spatula to flip salmon; grill until just opaque, another 4- 5 minutes.
3. Season cucumber salad with salt & pepper and serve alongside salmon.

*Broiler preparation- preheat the broiler and place a rack about 6 minutes from the heat source. Broil the fish for about 15 minutes, flipping over once. It should be lightly browned on both sides and should flake with a fork.