Egg Rolls

Matt and Gray spent last week at church camp.  They both had a terrific time, but Gray bluntly stated Saturday morning that the “food was terrible” and he’d “lost his love for food”.  As a self-professed foodie, I wasn’t about to let that happen, so I asked (knowing this is one of his all-time favorite dishes) if Shrimp Fried Rice would help, but with Saturday night being “Puttin’ on the Dog”, I had to come up with something I’d never made before to serve alongside.

When I was a teen, a younger couple with a new baby moved to our small town knowing no one.  The father was a chemist at GE, and my dad kind of coached and mentored him at work.  the family started coming over on Saturdays to hang out or have dinner, and before I knew it, they simply became part of our family.   I have wonderful memories of elaborate stir-fry dishes made with Russ and Cathy, and I remember one night when my mom even made homemade egg rolls.  I thought we were something.

So Saturday night, I too decided to try my hand at homemade egg rolls.  This, I tell you, was no easy feat given that I’d fallen while running that morning, tore open my knee, scraped the palms of both hands, and hurt all over.  But my child no longer loved food, so I pressed on; however, I did employ Matt for frying.

  • 12 egg roll wraps
  • 12-1 lb ground pork (or chicken or beef)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 14 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 (16 ounce) bag shredded cabbage and carrot coleslaw mix (about 3/4 of the bag)
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten with
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • oil (for frying)

Directions:

Brown pork with ginger and garlic in pan; drain any grease.  Mix salt, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Add to pork and mix well.  In large bowl combine cabbage mix and green onions.  Pour hot meat over vegetables and stir well. Let cool slightly.  Lay wrap in front of you so that it looks like a diamond.  Place 3 tablespoons pork filling in center of egg roll wrapper.  Fold bottom point up over filling and roll once.  Fold in right and left points.  Brush beaten egg on top point.  Finish rolling.  Set aside and repeat with remaining filling.  Heat 2-3 inches oil in large frying pan to very hot (350ºF).  Fry a few egg rolls in pan at a time, 2-3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve with sweet and sour sauce, plum sauce, hoisin sauce or jalapeño pepper jelly.

I have to say that they were delicious!  Of course, I couldn’t stop there; I had to make something special for dessert.  Given he doesn’t have the same affinity for peanut butter as I do, I decided to make a turtle cake.  I just used my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe, a couple of cans of caramel frosting (did I mention that my hands are all scraped up?), some chopped turtle candies for between the layers, and a drizzling of chocolate ganache on top to produce this masterpiece.

Gray was happy and once again excited about food, and I was happy that my boy was happy……and both my guys were back home.

Chicken Saltimbocca

This recipe comes from my favorite cookbook and was among one of the first ‘dog’ meals I made for Matt many, many years ago.  I didn’t realize it was one of his favorites and that it’s on his ‘this is on the menu if we ever open a restaurant’ list.  I just decided to make it because we hadn’t had it in ages, and it sounded good to me.

Chicken Saltimbocca

  • 1 10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 chicken cutlets, pounded to flatten evenly
  • 6 paper-thin slices prosciutto
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Squeeze the frozen spinach to remove the excess water.  In a small bowl, toss the spinach with 1 tablespoon oil to coat and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Place chicken on a work surface. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Lay 1 slice prosciutto atop each cutlet.  Arrange an even layer of spinach on top and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Beginning at the short tapered end, roll up each cutlet as for a jelly roll and secure with a toothpick.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining oil over a high flame.  Add the chicken rolls and cook just until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Add the broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 4 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to 6 plates and set aside.  Increase the heat to high and cook the sauce until reduced to about 2/3 cup.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Of course, no ‘dog’ meal would be complete without a gooey, disgusting dessert.  Say hello to the Oreo White Chocolate Cookie Pie.  To die for!

  • 1 unbaked 9″ deep-dish pie shell
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Oreo crumbs
  • 8 quartered Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 325° F. Beat the eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Add in the flour, Oreo crumbs, brown sugar, white sugar and vanilla. Beat in butter until combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Put mixture into pie shell and even the mixture out in the shell. Put the quartered Oreo cookies on top of the pie and push them in about halfway. Bake for 60 minutes.

Of course, it wasn’t gooey enough on its own so I topped it with ice cream (chocolate) and hot fudge.  As my dad always says, “If I’m going to eat the devil, I might as well drink his broth.”

Frittata

Lately we’ve absolutely been inundated with fresh eggs, and I’m not at all complaining.  There’s a girl in Gray’s class that supplies everyone in the class, including the teacher, with a full carton of eggs every single time you return an empty carton.  Plus the folks up the road have chickens, they just went out-of-town, and she gave me a dozen plus everyday we’re collecting 4 eggs while they are gone.  Until last night, I had three dozen in the refrigerator.

Probably every other week, especially on a night when I bake fresh bread, we have a frittata.  I discovered this recipe years ago when I purchased my favorite cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 ounces asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tomato, seeded, diced
  • Salt
  • 3 ounces Fontina, diced

Directions

Preheat the broiler. Whisk the eggs, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside. Heat the oil and butter in a 9 1/2-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomato and a pinch of salt and saute 2 minutes longer. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture and cook for a few minutes until the eggs start to set. Sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the frittata is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 minutes. Place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until the top is set and golden brown on top, about 5 minutes. Let the frittata stand 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from skillet and slide the frittata onto a plate.

 

I quickly learned two things about frittatas — first, you really don’t need a recipe and second, you can put anything in one.  Really, ANYTHING.  Some of our favorite combinations are spinach, mushroom and Swiss; Brussels sprouts, bacon, and Fontina; roasted vegetables and Parmesan; ham, broccoli, and cheddar; even leftover chicken and rice!  You can also adjust the number of eggs you need based on the amount of stuff you have and the size of the pan you are using.  Most important, I start it on the stove just to get the edges set and then finish it in the oven on 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Sadly, these photos don’t at all do justice to how tasty this thing was — fluffy, rich, and flavorful.  If you’ve not gotten on the frittata bandwagon, then it’s high time you do…..especially if you have farm fresh eggs close at hand.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

“I miss having a garden,” I recently said to my father-in-law. “I thought you hated the garden,” he replied. I went on to explain that I have a love/hate relationship with having a garden. I love walking out at about 4:00 in the afternoon to see what is fresh and deciding what I can use for dinner that night. I hate the fact that a garden refuses to follow my schedule. I can’t tell you how many nights — after I’ve gotten up at 4:30 to run so I can volunteer at school until 2:30 and then come home and work while Gray does homework, then make dinner, and while I am trying to clean up, Matt brings in 2 buckets full of purple-hull peas to be shelled, washed, blanched, bagged, and then frozen. That doesn’t fit my schedule at 7:30 at night after a long day. But yet somehow I still miss the first part of the whole garden thing.

Toward the end of every July, Gray and I visit my parents for a week. We grace them with our presence so that they can spoil us with lots of fun, good food, oh and my birthday party. More on that last thing next week.  A bonus for visiting this time of year is that the garden is really coming on. So a few weeks ago, I traveled back to Tennessee from Indiana with a backseat full of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and squash (plus homemade blackberry jelly). Gray quickly demolished the cucumbers, and I slowly worked on the other items, making my grilled cheese with tomatoes and having plenty of BLT’s. I made zucchini bread, grilled squash, and I still had quite a bit of stuff left. Produce from a parent’s garden is like gold — you should never let it go to waste, so Saturday night I put the remaining tomatoes, zucchini, and squash to yummy use.

First, I made homemade marinara sauce using this recipe.

marinara 2016

Next, I chunked up zucchini, squash, and onion; placed them on a cookie sheet; drizzled them with olive oil; seasoned them with sea salt; and roasted them at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

zucchini squash mom and dads garden

After the vegetables were done, I cooked rigatoni pasta to al dente, then mixed it with about half the sauce, the roasted vegetables, a ball of diced fresh mozzarella, placed all of it in a casserole dish, topped it all with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and then baked it at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

roasted veggie pasta

Yum!

roasted veggie pasta 2

And sadly now the produce from my parent’s garden is gone……. Hey Mom and Dad, didn’t you say you felt like coming to Tennessee this weekend?

Chicken Thighs with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

It’s been a while since we’ve had a true ‘dog’ meal.  This was the last one I made — nearly a month ago.  It was right before we were getting ready to leave for North Carolina, and I knew we would spend the next two and a half weeks eating every meal out.  And while it was fun, all that eating out, I was ready to come back home — and back to my kitchen where I knew what was really going into my food.

After being home just a couple of days, Matt turned around and headed back to North Carolina.  While I’ve been in the kitchen, it has been mostly for baking.  I’m looking forward to preparing and eating this weekend’s ‘dog’ meal….but in the meantime, below are the recipes from our last adventure.  All of these recipes were new to us (a Puttin’ on the Dog requirement), and I have to say I hit a home run with this meal.  Matt put it on his ‘this will go on my menu if I ever open a restaurant’ list.  That’s a big compliment.

Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce from damndelicious.net

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup Julienne sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 t. dried thyme
  • 1/4 t. dried oregano
  • 1/4 t. dried basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side; set aside.  Melt remaining tablespoon butter (I skipped this part and actually drained a bit of the grease out of the skillet) in the skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, heavy cream, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, thyme, oregano and basil.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet.  Place in the oven and roast until completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes.  Serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil.

Rice with Mushroom and Asparagus from primaverakitchen.com

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups mushroom, diced
  • 1 cup asparagus (cut the spears on a diagonal into 2 inch pieces)
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 t. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 T. feta cheese

In a medium-sized skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add mushrooms. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. Don’t cover the skillet or you will steam the mushrooms instead of sauté them.  Add asparagus. Cook and stir about 3 to 4 minutes or until tender-crisp.  Add the rice, salt and pepper. Stir to coat the rice with the mushroom and asparagus.  (My rice had gotten a bit sticky, so I added just a touch of chicken stock here to loosen everything up a little.)  Cook for about 2-3 minutes.  Garnish with fresh parsley and feta cheese before serving.

chicken thighs with sundried tomato cream sauce

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie from the firstyearblog.com

  • 1 package Oreos
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 container Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 & 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped

Process the Oreos in a food processor until they become fine crumbs.  In a large bowl, combine the crushed Oreos with the melted butter. Press this mixture evenly into a 10 inch pie pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Place in fridge until ready to use.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the cool whip and stir with a spatula until mixed. Spread this mixture on the crust and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Place chocolate chips in a medium heat-proof bowl.  In a small pot over low heat, heat the heavy cream until just before boiling.  Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate chips. Allow the mixture to stand for 1-2 minutes.  Use a spatula to stir the mixture until smooth.  Allow the ganache to cool a bit before adding it to the top of the pie.  Top with chopped peanut butter cups.  Refrigerate the pie for 1-2 hours before cutting and serving.

pb cup pie

(I might have gotten a bit carried away with the peanut butter cups.)

Braised Brisket with Mushrooms

To say my friend Bonnie’s husband Paul loves meat is an understatement.  His philosophy is that no meal is complete without a lot of meat, so I’m guessing they don’t do “Meatless Mondays” in their house.

I just had lunch with Bonnie, and of course, the conversation eventually turned to food.  We talked about how our Pinterest pages are mostly consumed with recipes, and she had the same problem I now have — making something from Pinterest, loving it, and then not being able to find the recipe.  So, she gave me a great tip on how to better organize all my ‘already made’ recipes.

She mentioned that she liked following my blog (Which I consider a huge compliment.  After all, I thought only my mom read this thing.), but she did remind me that she doesn’t bake much — that’s because both her sister and her friend Anita keep her well supplied with desserts, but she loves to cook and experiment.  And then there’s Paul with his love of meat.  I told her about this brisket recipe, and she requested that I share it soon.  So, this one’s for Bonnie:

 

Braised Brisket with Mushrooms

Braised Brisket with Mushrooms from Mel’s Kitchen

  • 2-3 pounds brisket roast, fat trimmed to 1/4-inch
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T. packed brown sugar
  • 3 T. AP flour
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t. balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Pat the brisket dry with paper towels and cut it in half crosswise into two roasts. Season each roast with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium or medium-high heat until rippling and hot. Brown the brisket on both sides, working with one roast at a time, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.  Repeat with the second roast.
  3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pan. Add the mushrooms and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the onions and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the flour, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broths and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 6-7 minutes.
  4. Place the brisket back in the pan and place the lid on top.  Bake the roasts in the preheated oven until very tender, 4 1/2 to 5 hours. Remove the dish from the oven and let it cool, covered, for 30 minutes to 1 hour, flipping the roasts and recovering the dish halfway through cooling.
  5. Transfer the roasts to a cutting board and trim any extra fat off, if the roasts are excessively fatty. Strain the sauce from the pan through a fine mesh strainer into a fat separator; reserving the mushrooms. Let the liquid settle and then pour into a microwave-safe bowl, leaving the fat behind. Stir in the vinegar and microwave the sauce for about a minute. If the sauce is too thick, thin with chicken or beef broth. Slice or shred the brisket roasts and place on a serving platter with the reserved mushrooms. Pour the warmed sauce over the meat. Serve immediately.

Ina Garten’s Oven-Roasted Vegetables

  • 2 small fennel bulbs, tops removed
  • 1 lb small potato
  • 13 cup olive oil
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 lb French string beans
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends removed, cut diagonally into 3-inch pieces
  • 14 cup fresh parmesan cheese
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the fennel bulbs into 6 wedges each, cutting through the core to keep the wedges intact. Place on a sheet pan. Cut the potatoes in half length-wise and place them on the pan with the fennel. Drizzle the olive oil on the vegetables, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss with your hands.
  3. Roast the vegetables for 25 – 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, tossing once while cooking. Toss the string beans and asparagus with the roasted vegetables and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and roast for another minute or two until the cheese melts.

Paula Deen’s Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

  • 1 1/4 cups Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. dried parsley flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the biscuit mix and cheese in a small bowl. Add the water and stir just until combined. The dough will be slightly moist. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the biscuits are firm and beginning to brown.
  3. While the biscuits are baking, make the garlic butter. In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic powder, salt, and parsley flakes. Mix well. As soon as you bring the biscuits from the oven, brush them with the garlic butter using a pastry brush.

Creamy Mexican Chicken Skillet

There are all kinds of foods I could live without — pizza, burgers, french fries, and Chinese among them, but ask me to give up Mexican food and you’d have a mutiny on your hands.  It used to be that I only thought about eating Mexican food out, but over the last few years, I’ve taken to trying to cook as many recipes as possible.  Mexican food makes a great weeknight meal.  It’s quick, and many times requires few pots and pans.  This recipe is no exception — a skillet for the chicken, a pan for the rice, a cutting board, a knife, two service spoons, three bowls, and three forks.  Clean up took no time at all.

Creamy Mexican Chicken Skillet from Sweet C’s Designs

Creamy Chicken Mexican Skillet

  • 3 chicken breasts, diced into 1″ cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 8 oz can diced tomatoes with green chili
  • 1 jar green chile sauce
  • ½ package cacique oaxhaca
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pan, heat 1 tsp of olive oil on medium high heat until shimmery. Brown the chicken, about 10 minutes. Then add onion and pepper, brown another 8 minutes. Add green chili sauce and cheese. Stir well to incorporate cheese, and let the cheese melt fully.

I served it over Cilantro Lime Rice.

  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

Cook the rice according to the package directions.  When ready, simply stir in lime juice and cilantro.

Super yummy one bowl weeknight meal.