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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Use It or Lose It - Fried Ravioli

This was made completely from scratch. Feel free to take shortcuts. ;)

My leftovers:
-Cooked ground turkey mixed with tomato sauce and cheddar cheese
-1/3 cup of cream cheese
-A few wrinkly old potatoes

I have been craving fried ravioli for quite some time. I researched the art of making pasta dough; generally, you would use eggs for this. I only had 1 egg and I needed that for egg wash, so I left the eggs out. This is how the vegans do it. Act like you're making Italian bread dough, but leave out the yeast. Place in an airtight container and rest for 30 minutes. It's that simple.
To make the filling, I made mashed potatoes and mixed them in with the cream cheese and meat mix.
To make a proper fried ravioli, you really need breadcrumbs. I didn't have bread...hell, I didn't even have crackers. I started to worry....then I found my Matzo. Matzo can be breadcrumbs, with a little love.
A good ravioli warrants a nice chunky tomato sauce. In the food processor, I combined: 1 can tomato paste, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 cup water, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp dehydrated onion, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp black pepper. I pulsed this until it was nice and chunky, then cooked for 30 minutes.
Rolling out the dough is a little difficult, it won't want to stay flat. Just keep rolling and be sure your surface is sufficiently floured. Use egg wash to stick them together. I don't have a crimper or a stamp or anything, so I cut squares with a knife and pressed with a fork.
To be safe, I froze the raviolis for 30 minutes, coated with egg wash and breadcrumbs, and froze for another 30. You don't have to, but this will guarantee no fall-apart.
Fry in an inch of oil for 2-3 mins on each side and drain on paper towels.

...Sorry these instructions are a little vague, but this took like 3 hours. Which is why I encourage you to take shortcuts if you can. There are many detailed recipes out there; this post is more of an inspiration for those leftovers you don't know what to do with.

ABC = Always Be Creative. :)
(Also, I am temporarily without a camera. These were taken on my Nintendo DS, hence the funky look. Thanks for reading. This dish was a lot of work and a whole lot of fun.)

Monday, April 22, 2013

French Bread Pizza

Mostly, I want to use this as an opportunity to explore the difference between Italian bread and French bread. I've made several pizzas on Italian, and called it French bread pizza; tonight, I decided to make authentic French bread for the job.
There are subtle differences between Italian and French bread:

-Italian bread is formed into a medium-fat loaf, while French bread is rolled into a long stick.
-Italian bread is made with olive oil, French bread contains no fat.

With these things in mind, here's my French bread pizza recipe. For more detailed breadmaking instructions, see Italian bread.

1/2 cup water between 85-105 degrees
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
Your favorite pizza sauce and cheese

Stir yeast and sugar into warm water, allow to proof. In a bowl, combine flour and salt, add yeast mixture. Stir to combine and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for 7-10 minutes. Place dough into a lightly greased bowl and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Once dough has risen, punch it down and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. On a clean smooth surface, spread dough out into a flat rectangle, about 10"x18". Roll dough up tightly to form a long loaf. Using a sharp knife, score the dough diagonally 2-3 inches apart. Place loaf on a cookie sheet prepared with a sprinkling of cornmeal. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450. Spritz loaf with water, and place it in the oven. Spritz again every 4-5 minutes until the loaf is done; it will take on a rich brown color and sound hollow when tapped.
Once bread is cool, slice it into 4 slices as shown, first vertically down the middle then each half horizontally. Prepare your oven's broiler. Add sauce and cheese to your bread slices and broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned to your liking.
E N J O Y. :D

BBQ Cups with Tater Tots & Slaw

It's a fun twist on BBQ with 2 sides. To make the pork, I followed my Country Ribs recipe with shorter cooking times.

First, make the slaw. My slaw is very simple: 4 cups chopped cabbage, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp tarragon vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Combine these ingredients and allow to chill while you make the meat and potatoes.
To make the BBQ pork and the baked potatoes, cut 2 medium sized pork chops into bite sized pieces and massage with a spice rub. Cook the pork uncovered in the oven at 350 for 1 hour, along with 2 potatoes (washed, fork poked, and rubbed with olive oil and salt). 
Pull the pork and potatoes out of the oven. Toss pork with barbecue sauce of your choice and set aside. Once potatoes have cooled, slice in half longways and scoop out the innards. 
Combine the innards with 1/4 cup flour, 1 egg, 1 Tbsp minced onion, and 1 tsp salt. Pinch bite-sized chunks of potato mixture and carefully roll in flour to coat. Set floured potato balls on a wax-papered plate or cookie sheet, and pop them into the freezer for 30 minutes. 
To make BBQ cups, fill emptied potato shells with barbecued pork and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350. 
To make tater tots, heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil to frying temperature. Fry potato balls for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. The finished product will be light and pillowy. For a crunchier exterior, coat with bread crumbs.
Top BBQ cups and tater tots with BBQ sauce and serve with slaw. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pretty Pretty Pink Cupcakes!

So I saw an article which, facetiously or not, stated that cupcakes are sexist and representative of selfishness and isolation.
You can read the article here, but be warned, this article has very naughty language!
This made me sad. So, naturally I wanted to rebel. What could be girlier than lemon cupcakes with pink frosting spiked with white zinfandel? ;) xoxo

The Cupcakes: (from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, except I used lemon extract in place of vanilla and melted vanilla ice cream in place of milk.)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup melted vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp lemon extract
1 egg

The Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Crisco
4-5 drops red food coloring
1 cup white zinfandel

To make the cupcakes, prepare a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 375.
Combine cake ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and light, 2-3 minutes. Fill cupcake liners halfway with batter and bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, combine Crisco with powdered sugar. Add white zinfandel 1 Tbsp at a time and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Take the remaining wine and drink it.


Use It or Lose It - Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake, the name literally translates to "Things you like, fried". A traditional okonomiyaki is made with eggs, cabbage, flour, broth, and desired additions.
A few days ago, I tried to make a stuffed cabbage casserole. The result was mostly rice with some ham and cabbage. It wasn't very good, so I put it in the fridge.
This is my main leftover ingredient. I decided on okonomiyaki because of the cabbage. I chopped the cabbage that was already in the dish, and went from there. Since flour is typically used as a binder, I decided the sticky cold brown rice would do just as well.

My Okonomiyaki
(makes 12 pancakes)

2 cups leftover brown rice
2 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 cup chopped ham or cooked bacon
6 eggs

Ingredients of choice, prepared to fold into batter
(this can be ANYTHING. I used mushrooms, onions, garlic, and extra ham.)
Butter for frying

1/2 cup mayonnaise, in a pastry/ziplock bag
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce, or Heinz 57 sauce in a pastry/ziplock bag

Combine the first 4 ingredients, and fold in your additional ingredients. It should have the consistency of thick pancake batter. If it's too thick, add a little water.
Preheat a skillet to medium heat. For each pancake, melt 1/4 tbsp of butter in the pan and add 1/2 cup of batter. Don't make them too big, they will fall apart. Also, don't cover them. The moisture needs to evaporate, or else it will get soggy. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip.

If you are making okonomiyaki in bulk, prepare a greased cookie sheet and store your finished pancakes in a 200 degree oven while you work.

Snip a small hole in your sauce bags and pipe the mayonnaise and sauce onto the finished cake in any design you choose.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Vegetarian Scotch Egg, Deconstructed

...For me, deconstructed usually means whatever I was trying to make fell apart. The lesson here? When your food falls apart, never fear! Just tell people the dish is deconstructed. They'll think you did it on purpose. ;)
The mashed potatoes used to make this are seasoned the same way I season turkey sausage.

4 hard or soft boiled eggs
2 cups mashed potatoes
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Oil for frying
Soy sauce (for garnish)

To make the faux-sausage, combine ingredients 2-7.
I had every intention of coating the eggs in the mashed potatoes, then rolling in breadcrumbs and deep-frying. They came together okay but the bread crumb coating came off during frying. So, I salvaged the fried bits with a small strainer and removed the mashed potato from the egg. I piped the potato onto the plate, sliced the egg, and garnished with the fried bits and some soy sauce.
To quote my mother, "Mmmm...Fried crunchy bits!".
The result tastes amazing, just like a Scotch egg! So, feel free to do with this blog what you will. You can make this with meat instead, you can try to find a way to keep the coating on, or you can do what I did and just take the whole thing apart!

Monday, April 15, 2013

3 Courses with a Foreman Grill

I recently became reacquainted with my George Foreman grill. It's pretty handy, especially since grilling outdoors is nearly impossible in a 3rd floor apartment. Whether you're in a dorm or just feel like mixing things up, here are some different things you can do with a Foreman grill.

Cottage Fries
2 medium sized potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat the grill. Wash potatoes and slice each potato into 8-10 round slices, not including the ends. I don't peel mine and I discard the small round ends, but you can peel if you want to. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Assemble in a single layer and cook for 30-45 minutes. You may need to turn them halfway through.

Mixed Grill w/ Onions
Okay, so hot dogs and ham is hardly a 'mixed grill'. You can use any meats you like. Toss some sliced onions with olive oil, salt, and pepper and throw them in next to your meat. The result is beautiful grilled onions that require almost no effort. 

Cinnamon Sticks (yes, from a Foreman grill!)
1 cup flour + more for kneading
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup warm water (90-105)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp melted butter
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3-4 Tbsp water

To make dough:
In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. In a separate container, combine water, sugar, and yeast. Allow yeast to proof. Add yeast mixture and oil to flour mixture. Combine until ingredients hold. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 7-10 minutes adding flour as needed. This dough WILL be sticky, just knead quickly. Place dough in a well oiled bowl and allow to rise covered in a warm place for 1 hour.
For more detailed breadmaking instructions, see Italian Bread.
Once dough has risen, punch it down. Let it rest for a few minutes while you preheat the grill. Once the grill is hot, spray it with cooking spray and add the dough:

When it's done, after about 5-7 minutes, it should look like this:
Remove the loaf from the grill and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top to coat. Cut the loaf into sticks. To make the icing, combine the melted butter, powdered sugar, and water in a bowl. Whisk with a fork until smooth. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Use or Lose - Beet Green Minestrone and Baked Cauliflower

This week's leftovers inspired me to go Italian. These two dishes can easily be made 100% vegetarian/vegan by swapping vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

                                                       The Leftovers:
Chicken stock - I made a bunch in bulk
Some marinara that I made in a coffee cup
Stale bread
Most of a head of cauliflower
Beet greens from some beets that hubby pickled

The plan:
Definitely a soup, with the chicken broth and the marinara mixed in for color and flavor. Stale bread becomes bread crumbs so easily; tear it up and bake at 250 for 30 minutes or so, then crumble. I don't want to mess with the cauliflower too much, I like the taste. Beet greens can be treated like just about any other green, so don't throw them away!

Lentil Minestrone with Beet Greens

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped

4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1 large bunch of beet greens
1 cup dry lentils
4oz dry pasta

Heat oil in a large pot. Cook onions and garlic over low heat until just soft. Add the stock, water, tomatoes, and marinara sauce. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
Meanwhile, prepare the greens. You want to do this carefully; stem and grit are not pleasant things to bite into!
Start by cutting away the hard stems.

Then, wash the leaves thoroughly.

Shake the water out and cut the leaves into small pieces, I use kitchen shears.

Add the chopped greens to the pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 45-60 minutes.
Next, add lentils and pasta. Adjust cooking times per package directions; example, if the lentils take 35 minutes and the pasta takes 8 minutes, add the pasta after the lentils have cooked for 27 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Baked Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 Tbsp melted butter, optional

Preheat oven to 400. Cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces and put the pieces in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the top and season with salt and pepper. Top with a layer of breadcrumbs, and drizzle butter over breadcrumbs if you like. Bake for 30 minutes.

These two dishes compliment each other nicely for a light lunch. Don't forget the bread and wine! :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vegetarian Patty Melt

The patty melt is right up there in my top 10 favorite sandwiches ever. Even without the meat, you can make a delicious patty melt style sandwich to satisfy your craving.

Vegetarian Patty Melt (Or, an awesome grilled cheese hack)

1/3 cup sliced onion
1 Tbsp butter
A pinch of brown sugar
2 slices of your favorite bread
1 Tbsp butter, divided
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 oz provolone cheese (or your favorite melty white cheese)

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a pan. Cook onions with brown sugar until the onions are soft. Assemble sandwich with mayo, onions, and cheese. Cook sandwich like a grilled cheese using remaining butter.
It's like a patty melt with *slightly* less guilt. ;)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Black Forest Fix

Every once in a while, I get a very specific craving. This time it was black forest cake. I didn't want to make a huge cake, or go shopping. Using what I had on hand, I made it work. :)

Black Forest Cake Fix
(makes 1 layer)

Cake: (from Better Homes and Gardens new cookbook 10th edition, c 1993)

1 cup flour 
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg


1 can cherry pie filling OR
1 jar maraschino cherries + 1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 tub Cool Whip OR
3 cups powdered sugar + 1/2 cup shortening + 1/4 tsp salt + water as needed

To make cake, preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8" cake pan.
In a bowl, combine cake ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, 2 minutes or so. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
If you are using the maraschino cherries, pour them into a nonstick saucepan, undrained. Reserve 7 cherries to decorate the cake with. Stir in the cornstarch and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
If you're making the frosting, combine the sugar, shortening, and salt in a bowl. Combine ingredients with beaters turned OFF. 1 Tbsp at a time, add water. Beat with electric mixer until fluffy, adding water as needed.

Once the cake cools, slice it in half horizontally. Spread a good amount of cherry filling onto the bottom layer, then put the cake back together. Frost the cake and garnish with chocolate shavings, extra cake crumbs, OR...
Sprinkle a little cocoa powder over the top of the cake. Using your finger, swirl the powder into the  frosting. It will have a marbled effect.
Arrange the cherries on top of the cake. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chicken Quesadillas

If you haven't noticed, I love bread and cheese. The classic quesadilla is easy to make and requires very few ingredients. You can make restaurant style quesadillas at home by following a few simple steps.

Chicken Quesadillas (serves 4)

1 lb chicken breast
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
8 small or 4 medium flour or corn tortillas
2 Tbsp butter (divided)
1 cup of your favorite shredded cheese
Quesadilla sauce, recipe follows

First, boil your chicken breast with a crushed garlic clove and 1 tsp salt for 35-40 minutes. Allow chicken to cool, then shred it.
Preheat oven to 400 and prepare a large baking dish.
Heat a small skillet. For each quesadilla, melt 1/4 Tbsp of butter in the hot pan. Add a tortilla. Pile on 1/8 cup shredded chicken and 1/8 cup cheese, followed by a generous spoonful of special sauce. Fold over. Cook for 30 seconds on each side, then transfer to the prepared baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve with your favorite toppings; sour cream, guacamole, salsa, extra special sauce, anything you like.

Special quesadilla sauce:

This sauce is a very close clone to the sauce on Taco Bell's quesadillas. Enjoy. :)

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp brine from a jar of jalapenos
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp garlic salt

Stir until combined and try not to eat the whole thing like pudding.