Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Did It!

I finally made a bread bowl that didn't look like a triangular hockey puck.  I've been making rolls using the master recipe for 5 minute bread quite a bit lately.  I noticed that the rolls rise quite a bit in the oven. I decided to try bread bowls the last time I made pot roast.  I made a half recipe and divided it into fourths.  I know that 8 ounces seems like a huge amount of bread, but you do hollow them out before you put the soup in.  The insides make croutons.  I just followed the shaping and baking instructions that I do for large loaves and rolls.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Steak and French Fries

My husband is a very adventurous eater.  He loves sweet potatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, beans, and is always willing to try new things.  One of his best eating traits is that he is not a food separatist.   In fact, he encourages throwing everything together in one pot or piling it as high as it can go on one plate.  We had a variation of this steak dish at a wedding a little over 2 years ago.  My husband loved it! I wasn't sure how I would feel about my fries being on top of the steak, but then I realized that whenever I get prime rib or a cut of beef that has a sauce on top, I end up dipping my fries in the au jus or sauce anyway.  The only unusual ingredient in this is demi-glace.  I looked into making it once, and it is a 2 day process.  It seems a little bit excessive when you only need one cup of it.  You can also buy demi-glace at Williams-Sonoma and good meat markets, but it may cost up to $30.  I found envelopes of powdered beef demi-glace at a local market.  They cost about $1.75 and make one cup.  I buy the Wagner's brand and have used it in quite a few recipes.  I am not usually a fan of powdered mixes, but this one gets the job done. 

Steak and French Fries
2 1-inch thick sirloin steaks 6 -8 ounces each
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 oz package sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1 envelope Wagner's beef demi-glace
1 cup water
1/2 bag shoestring french fries

1) One hour before you begin cooking, set out the steaks and pour the Worcestershire sauce over them. 
2) Preheat the oven to 450.  Bake the fries according to package directions.  Add salt right after they come out of the oven.
3) While the oven is preheating for the fries, heat oil in a stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steak seasoning generously on both sides of the steaks.
4) Cook the steaks for 5 -7 minutes on each side, or until a thermometer registers just below where you want your steaks.  I like my steaks just above medium, so I cook them just above medium rare.
5) Set the steaks on a clean cutting board and cover loosely with foil for 10 minutes.
6) Cook the mushrooms over medium heat for about 5 - 7 minutes in the drippings from the steak.  Add more oil or butter if necessary.
7) Combine the demi-glace and water and bring to a boil.
8) Place the steak on a plate, top with mushrooms, demi glace, and fries.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Usually Meatless Monday at our house means a lot of veggies and beans.   It is usually a night where I know I'll get the most fights and strange looks from the kids because they are trying new things or trying old favorites paired with new things.  Every once in a while, I like to make something I know my kids will love. The mashed potato stuffed shells were an attempt at this, but my daughter was in a picky mood that night, so it flopped with her.  This time, I made something that was guaranteed not to flop: cheese pizza.  What made this meal great was that I used 2 cloves of minced garlic and olive oil instead of tomato sauce.  I cut the pizza into long strips, instead of slices, so they looked like bread sticks. Our side dish was fresh fruit.  The kids did great with the meal. I took pictures, but deleted them from the camera before I uploaded them.  The pizza dough recipe I use makes 3 balls of dough, so I froze the other 2 balls to use later.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rye Bread

My husband and I both love rye bread.  When we go to a deli with good rye bread, we usually order our sandwiches on rye.  Whenever I brought a loaf home, it would disappear pretty fast.  Rye bread was my son's first table food.  I think you understand, we love rye bread.  I noticed that deli breads were really starting to get expensive.  The only way I was buying rye was by the half loaf, and we usually ended up eating it within a day or two of me bringing it home.  Once I learned how to make edible and somewhat pretty loaves of white and wheat bread, I decided that it was time to learn about rye bread. It is definitely not the hands-off, throw everything into the bowl at once bread that I'm used to making.  I spent an evening looking at recipes on the King Arthur Flour website.  Some of the recipes looked good, others looked a little bit scary.  One had sauerkraut in it.  The recipe claimed that you couldn't taste the kraut.  The reviews begged to differ.  I crossed that recipe off the list without trying it!  I came across the recipe for sandwich rye bread.  Most of the ingredients looked relatively normal.  I knew that the mashed potato flakes would be fine because I used them in my whole wheat bread. The pickle juice seemed a little bit odd, but I went ahead with the recipe. The pickle juice helped enhance the flavor of the rye.  My husband didn't know it was in there until I told him.  Now we save our pickle jars so that we can make rye bread.  I wouldn't recommend trying this recipe without a mixer.  It takes quite a bit of work to develop the gluten with rye flour.  The Publix I go to only had light rye, so that is what I used.  Even though this recipe required more hands on time than other recipes, it was still a very easy recipe for me.  Just follow the directions and you will be fine.  It makes a great BLT, tuna sandwich, and grilled cheese!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Something Different

Meatless Monday at our house usually means something involving black beans or eggplant.  This time I decided to do something different and focused on mashed potatoes.  I used some jumbo shell pasta and stuffed them with mashed potatoes and spinach.  They turned out great.  I ended up leaving spinach out of some of the shells because not everyone in my house likes it. I made way too many potatoes, so the recipe is just an estimate of how much you will need.  Our side dishes were fresh fruit and vegetarian baked beans. 

Mashed Potato Shells

2/3 box jumbo shells, cooked and cooled
2 lbs potatoes, boiled and mashed
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and sqeezed
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese

1) Mix the sour cream, butter, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and parmesan cheese with the mashed potatoes, mixing until well blended.  Add the spinach.
2) Fill each shell with the potato mixture and place into a greased, glass 9 x 13 inch dish.
3) Top with cheese.
4) Bake at 300 for 20 minutes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall in Florida

Garden Sunshine Peppers
I moved to Florida in 1988, so I've spent the majority of my life without a real "fall."  I've seen the leaves change in other areas, even in northern parts of Florida.  I always thought I was missing out on something. It wasn't until last year that I felt blessed to live somewhere that stays so mild in the fall and winter.  Last year I discovered fall gardening.  I prefer it to spring and summer gardening because it is cool enough to grow cabbages, broccoli, kale, lettuce, and carrots, but warm enough to grow eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. In east central Florida, we have about 9 months of gardening.  June, July, and August are pretty horrible months to try and grow anything other than flowers, eggplant and warm weather spinach.  This summer was so hot, even my eggplant stopped producing. We've been blessed with some very cool mornings in the last month, which means my broccoli and cabbages are growing like crazy.  The days have still been in the low to mid 80s, allowing my eggplant and tomatoes to start blooming. My garden sunshine peppers are producing like crazy right now. My onion sets are almost ready for transplanting.  The only thing that doesn't like the weather is the Malabar spinach.  The cooler nights are starting take their toll. It looks like I am going to run out of room in my garden this year.  I guess that means it's time to buy some good containers and dirt.  I still need to plant lettuce, radishes, carrots, and another round of beans.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

I didn't grow up eating eggplant, but for some reason I really love it.  One of my favorite ways to prepare it is by making eggplant parmesan.  I really like to use eggplant from the garden for this, but my plants are just now starting to bloom, so I had to buy one from the store.  I highly recommend salting your eggplant for an hour before cooking.  It makes a big difference!  This recipe serves 2 people, but is easily doubled.

Eggplant Parmesan
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 - 3/4 inch circles
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
2 cups of pasta sauce
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup or more shredded mozzarella cheese

1) Salt the eggplant to get rid of the bitter juices for one hour.  Rinse eggplant in cool water to get rid of salt and bitter juice.
2) Take 3 shallow bowls and place flour in one, the beaten egg in the second, and the bread crumbs in the third.
3) Add olive oil to a heavy skillet and heat over medium heat
4) Dip eggplant into flour, shake off any excess, then into egg, and finally into bread crumbs. 
5) Add to skillet and fry for 3 - 5 minutes per side.
6) Place fried eggplant in a large baking pan and top with Parmesan cheese, pasta sauce, and mozzarella cheese.
7) Preheat broiler to high.
8) Broil 2 - 4 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.
9) Serve with bread :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Family Favorite

This recipe came from my Uncle Jim.  He was talking about it the last time he was in Florida and it sounded wonderful, so I decided to try it. I wrote the recipe down on a post-it over a year ago and managed to lose the post-it shortly after I made it the first time.  The recipe ends up being a little bit different every time I make it. The original recipe did not call for the mushrooms or tomatoes, but my husband loves mushrooms and I love roasted campari tomatoes, so I added them.  I usually use red potatoes and cut them into quarters, but Publix had a bag of small multi-colored potatoes on sale.  They were pretty small, so I didn't cut them.  The purple potatoes are great in this recipe.  The leftovers are great with eggs, as a breakfast casserole, or thrown into chicken broth and turned into a quick soup. If you don't like spicy food, make this with mild sausage and leave out the red pepper flakes. This recipe will easily serve 4 people.

Roasted Sausage and Potatoes
1 package hot italian sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
2 bell peppers, cut into one inch pieces
1 small onion, cut into large chunks
1 small package of mushrooms, cut in half
6 campari tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 425
2) In a large bowl, combine the sausage, potatoes, peppers, and onions.  Add the olive oil, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and stir to coat the sausage mixture.
3) Pour the mixture onto a large baking pan and spread it out to make a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
4) Stir and add the mushrooms.  Bake an additional 15 - 25 minutes, or until sausage is completely cooked and the potatoes are starting to get crispy.
5) Add the tomatoes and cook 5 minutes longer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Favorite Salad Dressing

I started making my own salad dressing about a year ago.  I was tired of the long ingredient lists, high fructose corn syrup, and salad dressing companies that liked to remove fat and add sugar.  I remembered my mom making quite a bit of our salad dressing when I was growing up, so I asked her for some recipes.  One of the recipes she passed along to me was for honey mustard dressing.  This dressing was a hit from the first time I made it. We put this dressing on everything now.  It is really good with broccoli.  I like it more than broccoli with ranch dressing.  One of my favorite ways to enjoy this dressing is on a salad with apples and cheddar cheese.  If you aren't doing a meatless meal, add some bacon or chicken to the salad.

This dressing also makes a wonderful honey dijon vinaigrette if you leave out the mayonnaise.  Just make sure that you have a really large jar to put this in.  I like to use an old spaghetti sauce jar.  A pint jar isn't quite big enough.  I have made one change to this recipe.  It originally called for one teaspoon of onion, but I was out of onion one day and added one clove of fresh, minced garlic.  I really liked it with the garlic, so I decided to start using it in the recipe.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise  (If you want to make a vinaigrette, leave out the mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup honey
pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 cup neutral tasting oil

Mix all ingredients, except for oil until smooth.  Slowly whisk in oil until it is combined with the other ingredients.  Shake well before serving.