Monday, January 31, 2011

Salmon over Arugula with Potato Rockefeller

After having Kumpir at my friend’s house this weekend, it awakened my dream of owning an eatery. Eatery, not restaurant, because it’s modeled after the eateries in Europe, where you don’t sit down, but stand to eat, or grab and eat on the go. My eatery is called Spuds and features potatoes with gourmet toppings. A complete meal on a baked potato or toppings for mashed potatoes in a cone to eat on the go!

So, get ready for a spud-tastic journey,…ummmm,…so, get ready for a potato-licious journey…well, okay...I’m still working on the potato pun and the journey that’s going to delight your taste buds. There's a lot of potato ideas in the pipeline, so stay tuned.

Here’s my first one: Potato Rockefeller.

2 large red skinned potatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh watercress leaves
½ frozen spinach, defrosted and water squeezed out
3 Tbsp chopped green onions
1 celery rib, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp butter
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
3 Tbsp parmesan cheese (save 1 Tbsp for topping)
Arugula salad

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Clean potatoes, cut in half and pierce holes with a fork. Bake for 40 minutes. Scoop a little hole from the center of the potato. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine watercress, spinach, green onions, celery and garlic. Over med-high heat, melt butter in a pan, add watercress/spinach mixture. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Return to mixing bowl and mix in bacon, 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into potatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake until tops are golden, about 10 minutes.

Toss arugula salad with remaining parmesan cheese and vinaigrette dressing. Top with grilled salmon and serve with the Potato Rockefeller.

Kumpir: Turkish Stuffed Potato

My Turkish friend invited us over for dinner and we had Kumpir, Turkish stuffed potatoes. Traditional Turkish toppings include cheese, sliced, hotdogs in tomato sauce, chopped pickles, chopped olives, corn, peas, mayo, ketchup and mustard. I was a little hesitant about pickles and mayo on my potato, but after I tried it, I was a believer!

Check out Mr. Kumpir's website and all the different variations:

Kumpir with all the fixins

Available toppings
Bake saran-wrapped potato in microwave for 10 minutes, or bake in aluminum foil for 45 minutes. Cook until a fork easily pierces the potato. When the potatoes are ready, mash in a dollop of butter. Add the toppings of your choice.

Afiyet olsun!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pineapple Carrot Cake

1 cup of flour
2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ shredded carrot
4 oz of crushed pineapple
½ cup oil
2 eggs
½ cup chopped walnuts
Zest of one lemon

Store bought cream cheese frosting (I cheated!)

Grease and lightly flour a 8 x 8 dish; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix in carrots, pineapple, oil and eggs. Mix until combine. Fold in nuts. Pour batter into pan.

Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick is inserted in center of cake and comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

When cake is completely cool, frost with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with lemon zest.

Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to eat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Garlic Ginger Udon Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
Few dashes of hot pepper flakes
Udon noodles, found in an Asian market
1 chicken breast, cut in thin slices
1/3 red bell peppers, julienned
1 large carrot, sliced
1-2 celery sticks, sliced
1 small onion, sliced

For the sauce, combine the first five ingredients in a small sauce pan; bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and let simmer; set on back burner.

In large pot, boil Udon noodles until soft (follow directions on package).

In a wok over high heat, add about 1 Tbsp of sauce and chicken. Sauté until cooked. Remove from pan and set chicken aside. Add vegetables and another tablespoon of sauce. Sauté until tender. Add chicken back to pan; toss and set aside.

Once noodles are cooked, drain and add to chicken and vegetables. Drizzle with remaining sauce and toss everything together.

Start your meal with a small bowl of miso soup, then serve stir fry and noodles in a bowl.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Swiss Cheeseburger on a Kaiser Roll

Just a juicy burger with Swiss cheese!
2 Kaiser rolls with sesame seeds, halved
1/2 - 3/4 lb ground beef (80/20)
Swiss cheese slices
Red leaf lettuce
Red onion rings
Roma tomato slices
Grey Poupon mustard

Heat grill to medium heat. Shape beef into two patties. Season with a few dashes of Worchester sauce and grill seasoning. Make the patty thinner in the middle and thicker around the edges so when you grill them, they don’t cook into a mound. Cook about 5 minutes per side for medium. Flip burgers once; add cheese and cook until melted. Add split Kaiser rolls to grill to toast.

Spread mayo and mustard on toasted roll halves. Top bottom bun with patty and cheese. Add toppings of choice: lettuce, onion and tomatoes. Serve with chips, fries or pickle wedges.

Helpful tips for making a great burger:

1) Don’t over mix the meat, it will become tough.
2) Pressing down on the burger while grilling, presses out all the juices.
3) For a moist burger, use ground beef that is 80-85% meat and 15-20% fat.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grilled Salmon over Garlic Spinach and Cheesy Twice Baked Potato

2 salmon filets, boneless with skin
Zesty Italian Dressing
1 large russet potato, cleaned
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped chives
1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 garlic clove, minced

Marinate fish filets in Italian dressing for 30+ minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pierce potato with fork. Bake for 1 hour. Cut in half and carefully scoop insides out, do not puncture the skin. In a small bowl, mix potato insides, cheese, butter, chives, salt and pepper. Fill potato skins with mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for another 15 minutes. Broil for last 5 minutes.

Grill fish over high heat, skin side down for about 9 minutes, flip and remove skin; grill for an additional 4-5 minutes, until fish is cooked all the way through and flakes easily.
In a small frying pan, heat EVOO over med-high heat sauté spinach with garlic until spinach is wilted.

Plate with spinach, top with salmon and serve with potato.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mexican Posole: Chicken and Hominy Soup

My mom and Larry are in town and that means ... GOOD EATIN'!
Larry whipped up a batch of this soup for dinner ... delicious! 

5 chicken thighs, bone and skin on
3 poblano chilies, roasted, seeded and peeled
1 jalapeno, roasted, seeded and peeled
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
5 New Mexico dried red chilies
2 cans of hominy
Juice from ½ lime

Fill a large pot with approx 32 oz of water, covering chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is fork tender and cooked through.

Over high heat on the grill, or under the broiler, blacken poblano and jalapeno peppers until skin chars and blisters, turning frequently. Remove from grill and place in paper bag for about 15 minutes, allowing peppers to steam. Remove from bag and peel skin and seed. Chop half of the peppers; set the other half aside.

In a sauce pan, combine diced tomatoes, onion and garlic. Cook until soft. In a small bowl, soften dried chilies in warm water for about 15 minutes. Puree chilies with water in blender; strain. Discard pulp and seeds. Add tomato mixture to blender and combine. Add half of roasted peppers into the blender too.

Remove chicken from pot. Remove skin and bones; dice meat. Drain and rinse hominy.

Into the pot of broth, mix in tomato and chili mixture, hominy, chopped peppers and chicken; bring to a boil. Turn heat low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with warm tortillas or top with crushed tortilla chips. Garnish with onions, cilantro, radishes, lime wedges or sour cream.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baked Ziti

8 oz ziti pasta
½ lb spicy Italian pork
½ cup cottage cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
1 egg
Black pepper
1 jar of chunky tomato spaghetti sauce

Boil pasta for 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine cheeses, spinach, egg and pepper.

In a frying pan over med-high heat, cook pork. Add a few tablespoons for spaghetti sauce; mix.

In a 9 x 9 casserole dish, layer spaghetti sauce, pasta, pork, cheese/spinach mix, pasta and top with spaghetti sauce and extra mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

Peanut Chicken with Vegetable Stir Fry

2 chicken breasts
1-2 Tbsp chopped peanuts

Peanut Sauce:
4 Tbsp peanut butter
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp vinegar
A few dashes of red pepper flakes

Stir Fry:
¼ green cabbage, sliced
1 large carrot, peel off ribbons
½ leek, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sesame oil

1 cup white balsamic long grained rice
2 cups coconut water

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients for sauce. Marinate chicken for at least 30 minutes. Same some sauce for drizzling. Over med-high heat, grill chicken until no longer pink in the middle, about 10 minutes on each side.

In a rice cooker, cook rice and coconut water. Cook until done.

In a wok, heat sesame oil over high heat. Using a potato peeler, peel the carrot skins and then shave off ribbons of carrot. Add cabbage, carrots, leeks and garlic; sauté until tender.

Serve vegetables over rice and top with sliced grilled chicken. Drizzle with peanut sauce and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in Mushroom Gravy

This is a Czech dish that my mom used to make for us growing up. In Czech, it’s called Holubky. As I researched it on-line, it seems that it’s usually made with tomato sauce. My mom always made it with a brown gravy, so I am too. I can’t remember exactly what my mom made the filling with so I’m trying it this way. My official taste tester (a.k.a. my husband) definitely approved!

1 head of green cabbage, leave leaves removed

1 lb ground beef
½ yellow onion, finely chopped
1 baby Bella mushroom, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
A few dashes of Worchester sauce

Mushroom Gravy:
1 packet of brown gravy
¼ cup dried mushrooms (my grandma picks these wild mushrooms in the Czech forest, cuts them, dries them and then mails them to me)

In a large pot of boiling water, add the cabbage leaves and cook for about 3-4 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the filling. Fill each cabbage leaf with the beef filling, roll and put in a 9 x 9 casserole dish, seam side down. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until meat is cooked all the way through.

In a small sauce pan over high heat, add one cup of water and dried mushrooms. Turn heat to low and let mushroom simmer for 15 minutes. Wisk in gravy mix, and follow directions on packet.

Serve cabbage rolls on rice. Spoon gravy over dish.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Steak, Spinach & Swiss Grilled Sandwich

Using the left-overs from our grilled petite loin the other night,
we made these grilled sandwiches for a quick & easy dinner.

10 slices of grilled petite loin, left-overs
4 sourdough bread slices
Fresh baby spinach
4 slices of Swiss cheese

3 Tbsp mayo
2 tsp sun dried tomatoes
1 small clove of garlic
1 tsp fresh Italian parsley

Heat up your George Forman grill or use a pan on the stove top.

Start by pureeing all ingredients for sauce in a blender. Spread on bread. Add layered steak, spinach and cheese. Butter outside bread slices. Press in the grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted and brown.

Cut sandwich in half and serve with your favorite salad or soup.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Grilled Petite Top Loin with Garlic Parmesan Potato

This prepackaged meat is tasty and easy to cook.
I decided to make this potato similar to garlic bread, but using potato instead. It was simple and tasted great.

2 lbs of petite top loin, pre-marinated (pre-marinated packaged beef found in meat department)
1 large Russell potato
½ - 1 tsp margarine
Garlic powder
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut potato in half, pierce with fork. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the potato. Brush with margarine, sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper; cover surface with cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

Heat grill to medium high. Grill steak, turning to brown all sides. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reads 135 degrees. Let rest before slicing.

Plate sliced steak and potato together. Serve with your favorite salad.

Chicken Fajita Enchiladas

Enjoy best of both worlds with this Mexican combo – fajitas and enchiladas in one!

1 precooked chicken (found in the deli section)
½ red bell pepper, sliced
½ green bell pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp chopped canned tomatoes seasoned with jalapenos
10 corn tortillas
1 can of red enchilada sauce
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream

Take precooked chicken, remove all the meat, chop into bite sized pieces or shred; set aside.

In a medium pan, sauté peppers, onion and garlic in a little EVOO. Add canned tomatoes. Once veggies are almost tender, remove pan from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for one minute, to soften. In a large casserole dish, add a shallow layer of enchilada sauce. Dip both sides of tortilla in sauce, fill with veggies and chicken, roll and place seam side down in casserole dish. Repeat.

Pour the rest of sauce over rolled enchiladas - just to cover, enchiladas should not be doused in the sauce. Top with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with rice or salad and top with sour cream and salsa.

Spinach Dip

This is a super easy and delicious dip that I love to make for parties.
Don't forget to add the water chestnuts and green onions, they really make the recipe fantastic!

1 package of Knorr’s vegetable recipe mix (found in the soup isle)
1 package (10 oz) baby spinach, chopped
16 oz sour cream
1 cup mayo
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onion sprigs, finely chopped (save a few for garnish)
2 sourdough bread bowls (one for the "bowl" and the other cut up to dip)

Combine all ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for 2+ hours (okay to make the night before too). Scoop dip into a hollowed out sourdough bread bowl.

Garnish with extra green onions.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jambalaya 2

1 large chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
2 chicken garlic sausages, cut into bite sized pieces
½ lb large shrimp, cooked and tails removed
1 small green bell pepper, sliced
½ onion, sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup of rice
2 cups of canned diced tomatoes, with juices
1/2 cup of chicken broth
Crushed red pepper flakes

In a rice cooker, add rice, diced tomatoes, chicken broth and a drizzle of EVOO. Cook until done.

In a large sauce pan over med-high heat, sauté chicken in a little EVOO. Add peppers, onion, garlic and sausage. Sauté until chicken is almost cooked all the way through. When rice is done, add it to the pan and mix together with other ingredients. Add a couple dashes of red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Stir in shrimp until they are heated through.

Serve in a shallow bowl and accompany with cornbread.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Baked Chicken, Stuffing and Corn

4 servings

4 chicken breasts
1 box of Stove Top stuffing
1 ½ cup of hot water
1 can of mushroom soup
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
½ yellow onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 can of corn
Sea Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, add stuffing and mix with water. Set aside.

In a medium frying pan, sauté carrots, celery, onion, garlic and parsley until veggies are tender. Add veggies to bowl with stuffing; mix well.

In a casserole dish, lay chicken across bottom; season with salt and pepper. Cover with mushroom soup and top with stuffing. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. Bake uncover for the last 5 minutes to allow stuffing to get crispy.

Serve chicken and stuffing with a side of corn.

Broccoli Potato Soup

1/2 onions, chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 potatoes, diced
1 large broccoli head, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
½ sour cream
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a large pot over med-high heat, combine onions, broth, potatoes, and broccoli and cook until vegetables are tender.

Puree mixture in a blender until creamy. Add most of sour cream, saving a spoonful. Puree again until blended together.

Swirl a dollop of sour cream into the soup and serve.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Clam Chowder in Sourdough Bread Bowls

2 strips of smoked apple wood bacon, diced
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup water
1 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 ribs of celery
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 Tbsp butter
2 (6 ounce) can minced clams (1 drained, save the juice of one)
2 small sourdough bread bowls

In a frying pan over med-high heat, cook diced bacon until crispy. Add onions, celery, thyme, rosemary and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in water and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.

Pour in half-and-half and butter. Drain clams, reserving clam liquid from one can; stir clams and 1/2 of the clam liquid into the soup. Cook until heated through. Do not allow to boil.

Cut tops off bread and scoop out insides. Be careful not to puncture bottom or sides of bowl.

Serve chowder in bread bowls and season with Tabasco and more pepper, if desired.

Grilled Halibut with Crab Fettuccine

2 halibut filets
Juice from ½ a lemon
1 tsp fresh parsley, minced
Freshly cracked pepper
½ cup of imitation crab, chopped
1 ½ cup of Cream Sauce (pre jarred from the store)
1 Tbsp red bell pepper, minced
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Marinate halibut in lemon juice, a drizzle of EVOO, parsley, salt and pepper for about 30 minutes.

Grill halibut over medium high heat, about 10 minutes, flipping half way through.

Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain. Over the stove top in the same pot used to boil pasta, add cream sauce and crab. Heat crab all the way through. Add pasta and toss.

Serve halibut with pasta. Sprinkle pasta with parmesan and red bell pepper.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Zucchini Fritters

3 medium zucchini
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/2 egg, beaten (only use half of one egg, unless too dry then add more)
½ tsp fresh parsley, minced
½ tsp fresh rosemary, minced
½ tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Grate zucchini into a medium mixing bowl. Press moisture out of grated zucchini by squeezing between paper towels.

In a medium bowl, combine grated zucchini with the next 10 ingredients. If the mixture is too wet, add more bread crumbs. If the mixture is too dry, add the rest of the egg. Shape mixture into patties.

In a large skillet, heat EVOO over medium heat. Cook patties 3 to 4 minutes per side, until crispy and browned.

Serve with ranch, marinara sauce or left-over crab salad from the Crab Cucumber Cup recipe.

Crab Cucumber Cups

Sticking with my festive red and green theme, I made these tasty little guys for a friend’s New Year’s Eve party.

Makes about 10

English cucumber, cut in 1 inch slices
1/2 cup crabmeat, chopped
zest from 1 lime
Juice from ½ lime
1 green onion stalk, sliced fine
½ medium red bell pepper, finely diced
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
Salt & Pepper, to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients (except cucumbers), drizzle with EVOO and mix well. Set aside.

Scoop out centers of cucumber slices using a melon baller, creating little cups. Season cups with salt. Fill each cup with crab mixture.

Enjoy bringing in the new year with these tasty and beautiful little guys!

Brick Pressed Cornish Game Hen

My stepdad made this dish for us during one of their last visits. My husband and I spoke about this delicious dish often, so I thought we'd try it ourselves. Cooking the hen under a brick creates a nice, crispy skin, while the meat stays juicy and moist.

Salmon with Sun Dried Tomato Rice Pilaf

Around Christmas time, I like to cook with ingredients that are red and green. This is how I was inspired to make this rice pilaf.

2 salmon filets
Lemon pepper seasoning
1 cup of white, long grained basmati rice
2 cups of water
3 Tbsp dried mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 green onion stalk, chopped
1 Tbsp of red pepper and artichoke bruschetta, jarred
Juice from ½ a lemon
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
Sea salt

In a rice cooker, add rice, water, a drizzle of EVOO and mushrooms. Cook until almost done and then mix in sun dried tomatoes, green onions and bruschetta. When finished, season with salt, to taste.

In a medium sauté pan, heat EVOO over med-high heat. Season salmon with lemon pepper seasoning and salt. Skin side down, cook salmon for about 5 minutes. Flip fish, turn heat to low, remove skin from other side and drizzle with lemon juice. Cover and cook for a few more minutes, until fish is no longer pink in the middle and flakes easily. Remove from pan.

Add zucchini slices to the same pan and turn heat to high. Sauté zucchini until tender, about 2-3 minutes.

Make a little bed of zucchini slices and top with salmon. Serve with rice.

Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Mash and Green Beans

2-4 thin, boneless pork chops
1 large sweet potato
3 tsp butter
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
2 large garlic cloves, minced, split
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1-2 handfuls of fresh green beans, ends trimmed
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
½ onion, sliced

Peel and cube sweet potato. Steam potato until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain water from pot. In the same pot over medium heat, add cream, butter and one garlic clove. Stir until butter melts, allowing garlic to cook a little. Remove from heat. Add sweet potatoes and mash together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium frying pan, heat EVOO over medium high heat. Season pork with salt, pepper and sprinkle with half of lemon zest. Sear pork, browning both sides. Turn down heat, sprinkle with lemon juice and cook until no longer pink in the middle. Cooking time depends on thickness of chops. Remove pork from pan and sauté onion, scrapping up bits of pork.

In another frying pan over high heat, sauté one garlic in EVOO. Add green beans. Toss in EVOO and garlic. Sprinkle with the rest of lemon zest. Cover and cook until beans are soft to your liking.

Pate pork with sweet potato mash and green beans. Top with sautéed onions.