Monday, April 29, 2013

Savory, Sweet and Sassy

I'm having too much fun cooking, thank goodness it's legal. I keep reading recipes from my internet friends that go on my list of "to do's" and lately I've become enchanted (well maybe obsessed- you know how I get) with the savory and sweet combo. About a week ago I made sriracha and brown sugar bacon which was to die for, really!! I will post that little wowser another time, but tonight I want to share this weekend's sweet/savory successes. And I have to thank Helene for her Authentic Deli Mac, and Carol for sharing her Individual Meat Loaves with Sassy Sauce. Both to die for, and both super easy and quick. Let's get started with the meatloaf.

Carol's Individual Meat Loaves in Jumbo Muffin Cups
The beauty of this recipe is that it's quicker than cooking a whole meatloaf and it's portion controlled. The other beauty is the sassy sauce that acompanies it. Oh my, the combination of flavors will just about knock you off your feet. And did I say it's easy? Oh yeah, I did.

Makes 4 servings

3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup fat free half and half (milk was in the original recipe)
1 large egg
1 jalapeno pepper chopped small
1 tsp Worstershire sauce
2 T dehydrated mince onion
salt and pepper
1 pound hamburger (I used the leanest I could find)
2 mozzarella sticks sliced into 12 pieces

1/4 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
3 T yellow mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 T Brown Sugar Splenda Blend (or 3 T brown sugar)

I started by making my own bread crumbs in my spice mill.

In large bowl combine all ingredients except the meat and cheese.

Now add the meat and combine. And pre heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Divide your meat mixture into 4 portions and spritz your muffin tin with cooking spray and get ready to stuff these gigunda meat balls with the cheese chunks. I first thought 2 per loaf would work, but came to the realization I could sneak another one in there. The more cheese the better, agreed?

Close the meat mixture up and place in prepared muffin tin.

Set the meat loaves aside while you make the yummy sauce. This will be quick. In medium size bowl combine all ingredients.

Now spoon some of this deliciousness over your mini meat loaves and bake in oven for 30 minutes.

While these are cooking, warm extra sauce on your stove top on low. You're going to want to pour a little more on top of these babies when they are done. Doesn't this look good?

Let's make the macaroni now. Simple, simple. And the perfect accompaniment to this meatloaf.

Helene's Authentic Deli Mac
This is a (no longer) secret family recipe from a New York deli, sure to bring on the old taste bud memories

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used Dreamfield's low carb)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (Helene uses white vinegar, I didn't have any)
1/2 cup Splenda no calorie (regular sugar works of course)
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/2 T celery salt (I didn't have any so left it out, cant wait to get some for the next time I make this)
1-1/2 gobs of low fat mayo (Helene's terminology, it works)

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Heat vinegar and sugar on stove top until sugar dissolves. Pour vinegar/sugar mixture over cooked macaroni and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about a half hour to let the sweet/savory flavor combo sink in. Now add the rest of the ingredients and toss. Don't you want to dive in? I did.

Yes I did. I dove in a few times before I made this beautiful little plate for myself.

Simply fabulous ladies. As always, thanks for your help in the kitchen.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stuffed Again

My internet cooking buddies have been into stuffing everything lately (from veggies to meat) with all things decadent, so I decided to hop on the bandwagon and make some Panko coated meatballs stuffed with mozzaralla cheese and bacon. After I made Didi's mozzarella stuffed meatloaf I had some string cheese left over and decided that was a good starting point. By the way I got Didi's recipe off her blog Dishin With Didi (on my blog roll to the right of this post). Check it out, you will be happy you did. I had ground chicken, about 1/2 cup of Rotel tomatoes and 2 slices of cooked bacon in my fridge and figured that was a good starting point. Of course you can use ground beef or turkey, I know this recipe will be delish no matter what you use.

Panko Coated Meatballs Stuffed with Cheese and Bacon
Makes 12 meatballs

1 pound ground chicken
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 large egg
1/2 cup Rotel tomatoes
3/4 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic grated
2 tsp dehydrated onion flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 strips of mozzarella string cheese, cut into 12 pieces
2 slices cooked bacon chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Cooking spray

In large bowl combine fresh bread crumbs, egg, Rotel, oregano garlic onion flakes, salt and pepper.

Now add the ground chicken and combine.

At this point I took an ice cream scoop and portioned out 12 meatballs.

Place the soon to be meatballs in your clean hands, make small indentations and add 1 piece of mozzarella cheese and a piece or two of bacon to each meatball. (Sorry for the blurry picure)

Close the meatball packages up and set aside while you combine the Panko and parmesan cheese and spritz a baking sheet with cooking spray. This would be a good time to pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Roll meatballs in Panko/Parm mixture and place on baking sheet.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes and your meatballs are ready. Don't be surprised if some of the cheese wants to escape. Don't these look good?

I enjoyed these ooey gooey decadent little bites of heaven with even MORE CHEESE! Yes, I heated up some salsa con queso and placed the meatballs on top. Verrrry satisfying.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Buttermilk Peach Cobbler

Last night after the atrocious bombing incident at the Boston Marathon I wanted to keep abreast of new developments, but was too antsy to sit in front of the tv. So I put on news radio and decided to keep myself busy in the kitchen. My friend Diane Smith recently made a Blackberry Buttermilk Cobbler which has been in the back of my mind since I got the first glimpse of her delicious-looking pictures. And, for the first time in many years I had buttermilk in my fridge. So the plan was set, I'd make a cobbler. Comfort food. Just what this emotionally, shell shocked lady needed. Naturally I didn't have any blackberries but I did have a bag of frozen peaches in the freezer and decided I could work with those. Diane gave her cobbler a citrus undertone and since I was using peaches, I thought a hint of almond would work nicely in mine. Here's my recipe:

Buttermilk Peach Cobbler
Inspired by Diane Smith
Serves 6

2-1/2 cups frozen sliced peaches
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of self rising flour- I made my own: combine 1 cup AP flour, 1-1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups Splenda no calorie sweetener
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. In small saucepan melt butter and set aside. Remove peaches from freezer and set those aside too.

They only partially defrosted, but it didn't seem to matter. If you have self rising flour, measure out 1 cup and set that aside. I made my own and mixed it with 1 cup of the Splenda.

To the Splenda flour mixture add buttermilk, half the melted butter and both extracts and whisk until combined.

In baking dish (spritzed with cooking spray) add the batter. I used my favorite soufflet dish that's about 40 years old. Top the batter with the peaches and top the peaches with the rest of the Splenda (1/4 cup).

Now drizzle the rest of the butter on top. It looks very rich, I know.

This baby is ready to go into your pre-heated oven. Bake for 1 hour, allow to cool a bit and serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or even just plain cream the way my dad used to like it.

This is one creamy, crunchy, fruity dessert that I really enjoyed. It was the perfect food solution for a very stressful day. Thanks Diane, what an inspiration you are!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More Hot Stuff- Oven Fried Onion Rings

When you're watching your weight and reluctantly going through last years spring/summer clothes and come across a recipe that absolutely makes your mouth water, you either abandon your diet, cry, or stop reading immediately, right? Not so when you have a friend like Melissa Sperka who's one of the best (southern) cooking bloggers I know, not to mention a contributor to the Dash section of Parade on line. Pretty good credentials I'd say. So when she posted her "Firecracker Onion Rings" earlier in the week I was thrilled that they were baked and not fried. Properly baking anything that is normally fried is an art that I have been working on for many years and I must admit, it isn't easy. But when you get it right, you've got to share it with the world, which is what I have to do with these perfectly seasoned, crunchy, delectable onion rings. Let's make her recipe with a few minor changes that happened along the way:

Melissa's Firecracker Onion Rings
Serves 4

1 large sweet onion
1-1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
1 T Frank's Hot Sauce
1 T Sriracha Sauce
3-1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs beaten
1-1/2 cups self rising flour- I can't find find self rising flour in my regular market so with some help from the internet, I made my own- I took 1-1/2 cups AP flour, 2-1/4 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt and mixed them together and voila! self rising flour
3 cups Panko bread crumbs- again I had to make an alteration- I only had 2 cups of  Panko so I added 1 cup of yellow corn meal (it worked like a dream)
3 T canola oil

Peel your onion and slice into 1/4 inch strips and separate into rings. Set aside for a minute.

In large plastic bag mix buttermilk, both hot sauces and 1 tsp of Old Bay. Now add the onions.

Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes and turn occasionally, to be sure the onions soak up the delicious liquid on all sides.

Pre heat oven to 450 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and spritz liberally with cooking spray. When onions have had their 30 minute bath drain the rings and take 1 cup of the buttermilk liquid and set aside. Discard the rest of the liquid. Place marinated onion rings in large bowl.

We're now going to now set up a dipping station of flour, egg and and panko. To the reserved buttermilk add 2 eggs and whisk.

In a separate bowl place the self rising flour and add 1 tsp Old Bay and black pepper.

And now get another bowl for the Panko/corn meal mixture. To that add 1/2 tsp Old Bay and salt. Add the canola oil and toss with your clean fingertips to combine.

First dip the rings into the seasoned flour.

It was here that I had to recharge my camera, so maybe we're all lucky there are no more step by step pictures to view for a while. Now dip floured rings into egg/buttermilk mixture and then the Panko mix. Place on prepared baking sheets. Melissa had a great tip: place some of the smaller rings inside the larger ones to get more mileage/space out of your baking pan.

Bake 15 minutes and carefully turn rings over. Bake another 12-15 minutes and serve with a dip or two (or three) of your choice. I served these with a ranch, sriracha mayo, and just plain salsa. All delish. And by the way Melissa, thank you so much for the perfect measurements. Just the right amount of flour, egg and Panko. Perfection!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hot Stuff

I'm loving the frozen Tai Pei Potstickers I bought a few weeks ago. I've even come up with (what I think) is a pretty authentic Asian soup that features them and will satisfy your craving for hot, sour, sweet and salty. And it's a snap to make. It took me less than thirty minutes and there's nothing fancy in here- everything you need can be found in your local market if they have an international aisle. Here's the recipe, I really think you're going to like it.

Asian Chicken Broth with Pot Stickers and Veggies
Serves 4

2 14.5 oz cans low fat/low sodium chicken broth
1 14.5 oz can water
Zest of one lime
1 clove garlic grated
1 T fresh ginger grated
3 T fish sauce
2 T Splenda no calorie sweetener
2 Serrano chilis cut in rings
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Juice of one lime
3 oz mushrooms sliced
8 Tai Pei potstickers
3 oz snow peas
1 scallion sliced thin (for garnish)

Ready to cook? Let's get started. Zest your lime and grate your garlic and ginger.

In medium large soup pot add lime zest, garlic and ginger. Now pour in the broth and water and on medium hight heat on stove top, bring this liquid to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes. While the broth is getting ever-so aromatic, get the rest of your veggies prepped.

Are you smelling that deliciousness yet? You should be. What you want to do now is strain the lime, garlic and ginger out of the soup, so the broth is pristine.

Pour the clear broth back into your soup pot and add the Splenda, chilis, mushrooms, fish sauce, salt and lime juice. Cook on low, covered for 7 minutes. Now add the potstickers and cook (covered) another 5 minutes. Time to add the sno peas and cook 2 minutes more. Tada! Soup is ready.

I garnished with thinly sliced scallions, but I think if you have cilantro on hand that would be great. I actually think both would work and it wouldn't be over-kill at all.