Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Seafood alfredo with mini bowtie

Heather made this with "lobster" and mushrooms. The mini bowtie was a change from the norm. There were 4 happy plates when we were done with this dish.

Tilapia Audobon

This is a Tilapia fillet seasoned with salt, pepper, and a spicy cajun seasoning. Then the fillet is dipped in an eggwash and coated with bread crumbs. I quickly sauteed the fillet and finished it on a rack in the oven. Then I sauteed mushrooms. When they were almost ready, artichokes were added and heated through. The mixture was placed on the finished fillet and Heather topped them with hollandaise. I served it all over a bed of brown rice. This was originally served with catfish at Sister's in Jackson.

Burritos al chili con carne

OK, I made that name up. How do you take a $.33 burrito and make it even more spectacular? Add $1.29 worth of Kelly's Chili with beans. Duh! This was Heather's easy lunch. It was very good. And guess what!?!?!?! Kelly's is now coming in a pull top can! God is gracious.

Chicken Piccata with mini bowtie pasta

This was quick and easy. The sauce was a bit too thin even after I used a cornstarch slurry. I used mini farfelle. It was interesting, but I won't use it again. I steamed some broccoli to add a little color and to make Tanner miserable.


Heather made biscuits and perfectly cooked eggs. This time the bacon wasn't rancid.

Chicken Natalie

Heather added chipotle powder and used brown rice this time. It was nice.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Vegetable Soup"

I have been jonesing for some of Heather's spicy vegetable soup since it has been very cold in the evenings. She took beef stew meat and chopped it into smaller, bite size portions. Then she added a can of rotel, her remaining brown sauce, corn, lima beans, mushrooms, and other secret ingredients. She made some infamous Jiffy corn muffins and the meal was on. Of course Tanner took an hour and a half to eat, but this is some fine, soul warming goodness.

"Carnitas" with tomatillo sauce and maux choux

This was the very definition of winging it. I had some country style boneless pork ribs and zero ideas about what to do. I LOVE carnitas so attempted this in the crockpot. I added a can of rotel, lime, cumin, and some other spices. The tomatillo sauce can be found in our cookbook. The maux choux is basically sauteed onion, peppers, and jalapenos then tossed with sweet corn. It wasn't as good as I have done in the past, but the leftovers were better for some reason.

Eye-of-round with mushroom sauce, creamed potatoes, and fordham hook lima beans

Heather found a great looking eye-of-round while we were shopping. But how do you best prepare a beautiful roast that has zero fat. Zilch, nada, negative. Do you roast it wet and slow? Dry and fast? Mimi called Aunt Sheryl and suggested roasting it as hot as your oven will go with minimal seasoning coating it. Slice it thin and you will win. This is what I did. Heather made a brown sauce. The mother of all the mother sauces. She added it to the pan drippings and sauteed mushrooms. It was a hit. The potatoes were, well, potatoes. The lima beans were large and a bit bland. Overall, it was pretty good and the leftovers made a great sandwich.

Cresent wrapped brie

To peel the rind or to eat it. That is the question. It is a good question too, because there is no wrong answer. We peeled the rind from the brie. It leaked, but I like to think it wasn't because we peeled it. This was much better than I expected.

Macadamia nut truffle cups

This is the basic recipe:
There was a bit of substitution going on. Not because of me trying to tweak this award winning recipe, but because we didn't have everything we thought we had. These are tasty little treats and will be served for an upcoming event.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Black Bean soup for lunch

Heather whipped this up. It had quite a bit of jalapeno, but wasn't hot. It just had the flavor. Top notch impromptu soup. She had made some falafel that I had to take to the garbage because it smelled so bad.

Bacon egg and cheese

I got up early and wanted to experiment with my biscuit recipe. I added cake flour and a little extra baking powder to see if I could get them lighter. They were, but they were crumbly. I need to work on that next. I made some pepper bacon, fried an egg, and loaded it up with shredded sharp cheddar. It was HORRIBLE. I had to spit it out. The bacon was bad. I cooked the egg in the bacon drippings and it was bad. I was quite dissapointed. Not everything turns out like you would like....

Mary Mahoney's gumbo

James Billingsley picked up some Mary Mahoney's gumbo while he was on the coast visiting his family. He was kind enough to share. I made some white rice and heated up some crusty bread. It was good. Mimi was jealous.

Seafood pasta

Heather ran out of fettuccine so she used gemelli. It was quite tasty. I suggested she make it this way from now on.

Osso Bucco

This was the last of the supply. With Tony's closed, we will have to seek a different source. Suggestions?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Roasted Venison with chipotle sweet potatoes and wilted spinach

It was nice. I don't like sweet sauces for meat that much, but this was more tang and sweet.
I made a slightly modified version of the sweet potatoes by using jarred chipotle powder, and the results were not as good, but acceptable. I sauteed red onion and roasted garlic in olive oil until the onion was soft. Then I put a whole bag of spinach in, covered, and walked away. I topped it with a little boursin I had in the fridge. It might have been the highlight of the meal, except the Vina Borgia was nice and spicy.

Killing Germans

I was a little obsessed about finishing "Medal of Honor - World at War". The last few battles are intense. It required much concentration.

"It is Saturday at 1 and we haven't eaten yet" lunch

I made some frozen burritos. They weren't quite doing the job so I poured some rotel cheese dip over them. Cheap, easy, decent. Good Saturday lunch.


'nuff said....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

HOT WINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is what Tanner said when he saw what we were having. Heather had to use butter instead of margarine, but there was only a little separation. They weren't overly hot like they have been in the past.

Tempura shrimp with stir fry vegetables

Heather had gotten some tempura shrimp from the grocery and they looked tasty. There were only 10 so I made some clean the fridge out stir fry. There was cabbage, jalapeno, zucchini, cucumber, shrooms, onion, and some seasonings. We used the dipping sauce that came with the shrimp. For such a simple meal, this was good.

Rob's last day

Rob is going to back to school. He starts at Mississippi College on Monday. I wish him luck, but wish we still had him. Everyone in the department brought various goodies. Tom Faust even made cookies. The highlight of course were Gina's sausage balls. I made tea biscuits with butter and strawberry preserves Anne made.

Swedish Meatballs II

This is another recipe from the current edition of Cooks Illustrated. This has a crispy outside, but a juicy, tender inside. The nutmeg and allspice give it a unique flavor. Serve over egg noodles and chow. All of us cleaned our plates. It is not that much work, but takes a while. It will change your mind about meatballs. It is very similar to AB's recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/swedish-meatballs-recipe/index.html

Monday, January 5, 2009

Butternut Squash with pasta

This is a recipe from the current edition of Cooks Illustrated. http://www.cooksillustrated.com Let me get this out now. I don't like squash. I know that is a very myopic viewpoint, but when I think of squash, I think of the overcooked yellow mush from my youth. I try it occasionally. If it is on the plate of "mixed vegetables" I will eat it, even if I don't like it. Sometimes that is necessary to remind oneself of why they don't like it. I also want to point out that saying "I don't like squash" is like saying "I don't like sandwiches." There are sooooo many different varieties of squash that it is not fair to sum it all up in one word. This was my first attempt at butternut squash. This is bacon fried crisp and some sage leaves crisped in the pan drippings. Then you brown the cubed squash. Then next step is adding onion and seasonings. Steam it for a minute in chicken stock and let it reduce. Toss the mixture with penne, add lemon and Parmesan. Serve it up and try it. It wasn't "Wow! I can't wait to have it again!", but it was edible. OK, it was better than edible, but I won't be serving it up again soon. Whatever that means.....

The "Perfect Pot Roast"

This if from Linda Larsen. It is in our family cookbook. I wondered if the trouble for the "gravy" was worth it. The answer is yes. I boiled a few new potatoes and reheated leftover blackeyed peas. This is a dish I will make again for a family gathering.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Maple Syrup test

I was reading my Feb Cooks Illustrated and got to the maple syrup reviews. I honestly have never had "Real" maple syrup that I know of. Aunt Jemima and Log Cabin were the staples of my youth. I realize they are all corn syrup, but it worked for me. CI recommended Maple Grove Farms Grade A amber. It wasn't cheap. Almost $8 for a 12oz bottle. To test, I made some pepper bacon and a pot of coffee. Then I screwed around with my pancake recipe to make them lighter. In the end I made them a little raw. I still need to tweak that. I digress; on to the tasting. I think the big pancakes were not the ideal vehicle to taste the syrups. The "earthiness" of the maple was overwhelmed by the pancake. It is much thinner than the corn syrup varieties and when tasted straight up, it is very powerful. Heather had the same thoughts about the flavors being hidden in the big pancakes. I guess after 18 years together we have similar thoughts about a lot of things.
I think I will reserve the Maple Grove Farms syrup for something more worthy. Maybe some cookies that can highlight the flavors better. Suggestions?

Osso Bucco

We are running low on Heather's staple dish. I have to find an alternate source. She used the new Spanish saffron Boppa gave her for Christmas in the risotto. This time she pureed the vegetables before braising. I think I like it that way better. It is an additional step and more dishes to clean, but I don't groove on taking a big bite out of a dead carrot.

Salad with grilled chicken

We had some lettuce and I had some time so I made lunch. I seasoned a boneless chicken breast with garlic salt and some other random things I found and grilled it on the grill pan. I tore and washed the romain, then sliced some cucumbers and roasted red bell peppers. I topped it with some boursin that was leftover from the steaks. I made a red wine vinaigrette and we ate.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hot tamale night

What do you do when you find out Tony's closed and you fall into a dark place in your life where you don't feel like cooking? That is easy, you break out the Kelly's Chili with Beans. Heather saw the state I was in and immediately knew how to break my funk. She got out the Hormel tamales and Kelly's "Manna from Heaven" Chili. She added some chopped onion and lots of cheese. It baked until I couldn't take the wait any longer. It served its purpose. I am now able to think more clearly about how to work around our recent loss. It will be more of a challenge to use what we can scrounge from the local Kroger, but sometimes adversity teaches us lessons we would not experience otherwise.

"What are we going to do now?"

I had a terrifying phone call last night. Lisa Smith called to break the news that Tony's is closed. Our favorite meat market is gone. I am at a loss for words. I spent hours last night trying to find an alternate source for those wonderful selections Scott always had. The rumor mill has already started that Scott is relocating to the soon to open Piggly Wiggly in Saltillo, but will he have the same selection even if the rumor is true? We are planning a trip to Memphis next weekend and will try a few markets up there, but we can't do that very often. There is always Fresh Market in Jackson while we are down there, but the last time we were there they didn't have tasso or short ribs. I am going to try the Sysco route and maybe some contacts I have with some other food service sources to get some osso bucco direct, but those are just wisps of hope.

Farewell Scott, you will be missed. (I just hope not for long)....

Somewhat Traditioal New Year's Day Dinner

I have to say "somewhat traditional" because we didn't have greens or cabbage per se. The closest thing I had was Brussel sprouts. I called it close enough. Plus, I think I like them better. So we had the really traditional black eyed peas cooked all day long with onion and smoked hog jowl. I had mine with some Sirachi garlic chili sauce. I fried up the rest of the smoked hog jowl until it was indiscernible from bacon. We had some pork chops in the fridge so I pounded them out and made a thinner, almost wiener schnitzel chop. I had leftover drop biscuits so I went with those instead of making cornbread. Please forgive my laziness. Tanner and Chance both ate all of theirs and then had some cheesecake.

Drop biscuits

Heather got me this cast iron drop biscuit pan for Christmas. The first batch on Christmas morning stuck to the "preseasoned" pan. After a thorough cleaning and real round of seasoning, the biscuits popped right out. I used Alton Brown's biscuit recipe with a slight modification. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/southern-biscuits-recipe/index.html You really must use a pastry cutter to get everything just right before the fats have time to cool. I overcooked them just a bit, but I am learning to use the pan. I cut some Boar's Head cheddar and let it melt over the hot biscuit half. Two eggs, over medium and breakfast was served.
Mimi got me a subscription to Cook's Illustrated. The first issue of my own has a new technique for French Omelets. You will see the results soon. Hopefully.....