Posted by: literallydelicious | June 18, 2012

Brats with Balsamic Onions and Peppers

I usually make this with sweet Italian sausage links, but either way it’s wonderful — and incredibly messy. The original recipe called for brat buns, but I fix them on some kind of rolls I pick up in Reasor’s bakery section. They’re got a bit of crustiness to them, so they don’t fall apart as badly from the sauce as the regular soft breads do.

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BRATS WITH BALSAMIC ONIONS AND PEPPERS

4 brats or Italian sausage links, uncooked

1/3 cup water

2 teaspoons oil

2 large red and/or yellow peppers, sliced thinly

2 large sweet red or white onions, sliced thinly

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

hot dog buns, brat buns or crusty loaves

1. Brown sausages on both sides in a large skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and add water. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes (temperature: 160 degrees). Remove from pan and keep warm.

2. In same pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions, and stir until tender. Add brown sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Cook five minutes longer, coating veggies.

3. Serve each sausage on roll; top with veggies.

Posted by: literallydelicious | June 1, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings

My mother and grandmothers all made this dish — real, rolled-out dumplings, not the fake biscuity kind. I’ve tried more times than I count to make them, but they always turned out doughy or tough.

The other day I thought I’d give it one more shot, and success! They are incredible! Of course you have to make your own chicken stock, but that’s so easy.

I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems like these dumplings would freeze really well if you make up them up through to cooking part. And stock freezes really well. Imagine having both in the freezer when you have a comfort-food day.

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CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

1 5-6 pound chicken

salt

water

optional: diced onion, carrot and celery *

2 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting and rolling

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 egg

1/2 cup chicken stock

1. Cut chicken into large pieces and place in a large stockpot. Add salt and veggies*, plus enough water to cover by several inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer until the meat falls off the bones. Remove the chicken and let cool. Strain the stock and discard the veggies.

2. For dumplings, combine flour and salt in a volcano shape. Make a well in the middle and add the egg. Gradually stir in half of the reserved stock, mixing in the rest of the flour. Continue stirring stock into the flour until the dough is the consistency of pie dough. (I don’t make pie dough, so I just have to kind of guess at this. The dough is sticky and elastic-y.)

3. Put the dough on a floured surface. Knead in additional flour to make a stiff dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for fifteen minutes.

4. When the chicken is cooled, separate the meat from the bones and tear it into shreds or small pieces and set aside.

5. Put more flour on the counter and roll the dough into a 16″ square more or less. You want it fairly thin, and you especially want it to be the same thickness so it cooks at the same rate. Cut into small pieces — Mom always did roughly 1×2″ rectangles, so I do, too. Dust with flour; place on a rack floured side down and dust the tops with flour. Set aside to dry for one hour. (This is when I think you could freeze them.)

6. Bring the broth to a boil. Drop the dumplings in, return to a boil, then cover and turn to a slow simmer for ten minutes. Remove the lid, return the shredded chicken and simmer until the dumplings are tender.

* Most stock recipes I see call for the veggies, and I’ve made it both with and without. Maybe my palate isn’t sophisticated  enough, but I can’t tell enough of a difference to make it worth cooking and tossing the vegetables.

Posted by: literallydelicious | May 29, 2012

Bowtie Pasta Salad

I love pasta. Add cheese, and I’m a happy camper. Add fresh mozzarella, and I couldn’t be any happier.

This is a great salad that can be served warm or cold. You can change ingredients to suit your own tastes. Don’t know how long it lasts — we had it for dinner one night and lunch the next day, and scraped the bowl clean.

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BOWTIE PASTA SALAD

1 12-0unce box bowtie pasta, cooked and drained

1 12-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts

3 roasted red peppers, roughly chopped

4 ounces salami, cubed (I get the thickest chunk they can cut at the deli — it’s the perfect amount)

1 package mozzarella pearls (baby balls of fresh mozzarella)

kalamata olives, pitted and halved

grape tomatoes

1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

1. Drain the artichoke hearts, reserving the liquid. If necessary, add olive oil to make 1/2 cup.

2. In a large bowl, mix the veggies and the mozzarella.

3. Add balsamic, salt and pepper to artichoke liquid. Shake well, then toss with the salad.

Posted by: literallydelicious | May 27, 2012

Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna

This dish started out as eggplant rollantini — where you lightly bread and fry thin slices of eggplant, then fill them with cheese, roll them up, and top with tomato sauce before baking. Eggplant doesn’t seem to be particularly popular in my little town, since the ones I find are always so puny. No way I was going to get anything bigger than a pencil rolled inside these scrawny slices, so I decided to do a lasagna instead. It was delicious!! In fact, the leftovers are heating in the oven for tonight’s dinner as I write this.

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EGGPLANT AND ZUCCHINI LASAGNA

SAUCE:

1/2 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

olive oil

2 cans (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon sugar

dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper to taste

LASAGNA:

4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella

1 package (8 ounce) softened and cubed cream cheese *

1-2 large zucchini, peeled and sliced

olive oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

dry bread crumbs

grated Parmesan cheese

1. Peel and thinly slice the eggplant (cross- or lengthwise). Place in a colander; sprinkle with salt and toss. Let stand 30 minutes; rinse and drain.

2. For the sauce: satue onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Combine mozzarella and cream cheese in a bowl; mix well.

4. In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil; saute zucchini until tender-crisp. Remove.

5. Place eggs in one shallow bowl and bread crumbs in another. (Pie plates work great for this.) Dip eggplant slices in eggs, then crumbs. Fry in hot oil until golden brown on either side. Drain on paper towels.

6. To assemble: cover the bottom of baking dish with sauce. (The original recipe called for a 9×13 baking pan, but I used one that’s about 5×9.) Layer 1/2 the eggplant slices.Top with 1/2 zucchini slices. Dollop with 1/2 cheese mixture. Reserve 1 1/2 cups sauce. Layer remaining eggplant, zucchini and cheese, then top with sauce.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with fresh Parm if you want. (But come on, all that mozzarella and cream cheese?)

* If your cream cheese takes too long to soften, cube it, then stick it in the microwave, low temp, 10-20 seconds until soft.

Posted by: literallydelicious | December 22, 2011

Clean as You Go

Being organizationally challenged, I read a lot of magazine articles on how to bring order to — and keep it in — your life. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read that in the kitchen, you should clean as you cook. The meat splatters, wipe up the grease right away. Sauce bubbles over, clean it. Done with that dish? Wash it now.

Sister #1 subscribes to this style. Her kitchen is only slightly less clean immediately after serving dinner for 15 than it is any other time. Once when we were over there, BIL was mashing potatoes. He set the masher down to do something else, and in the moments he was gone, she’d rinsed it and put it in the dishwasher. He had to retrieve it to finish the potatoes.

Did I mention Sister #1 is slightly OCD?

Need I mention that I’m absolutely, positively not?

I can dirty every dish in the kitchen fixing one meal — and I often do. (I don’t do the dishes — that’s my husband’s forte.) I don’t try to use everything. It just turns out that way. This pan is too small; that cutting board had raw meat on it; this knife isn’t sharp enough; that bowl can’t go in the oven; etc, etc. Our kitchen looks like a hurricane blew through by the time I’m done.

As long as DH cleans up after me, I don’t think that’s going to change.

Posted by: literallydelicious | December 19, 2011

Blackberry Cheese Spread

A few weeks ago, I attended the one party I’m allowing this Christmas season. The company was wonderful, we had a great time, and the food was delicious. One of my favorite dishes there was also one of the simplest. I couldn’t resist including it a few nights later when we put up our tree. (A week later, and the decorating’s still not done. I did my share. But since someone doesn’t let me climb ladders — just because I had a knee replacement and have no sense of balance — the top part is still bare but for lights. So someone needs to get busy, or I’m climbing anyway.)

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Blackberry Cheese Spread

1 block cream cheese, slightly softened

seedless blackberry jam

crackers

1. Spoon out however much jam you want and zap pretty quickly in the microwave. You want it softened, but not melted.

2. Place cream cheese on a serving dish; top with blackberry jelly.

3. Serve with crackers.

Posted by: literallydelicious | December 12, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Fudge

I don’t make fudge often. My BIL is pretty darn good at it, and it’s not generally a big favorite of mine. But when I read this recipe for fudge with cherries, I had to try it. I love cherries. When they’re fresh for a piddling couple months here in Oklahoma, Bob and I can spend our whole grocery budget on them. When we can’t get them fresh, dried or frozen works, too.

I made some changes on the recipe (I usually do). It called for dark chocolate chips, which I think is just a total waste of good chocolate. I also added nuts. If candy’s worth making, it’s worth adding pecans or walnuts, right? The original said to stir the mixture until the marshmallows were completely melted, and I’d rather have a bit of substance left to them. And next time I make it, I’m going to add cherry extract just to ramp up the cherry flavor a bit.

All in all, though, a recipe worth the time. I’d show you a picture, but we ate it all before I thought about the camera.

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Chocolate Cherry Fudge

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 5-ounce can evaporated milk

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1 10-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 ounces dried cherries, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 teaspoon cherry extract (can use vanilla instead)

1. Line an 8″ square baking pan with foil. (I used a foil pan instead, turned it upside down in Step 3, the fudge fell out and I threw the pan away.)

2. In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter and salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat.

3. Stir in marshmallows, chocolate chips, dried cherries, extract and nuts. Pour into baking pan and refrigerate until firm. Remove from pan using the foil edges and cut into squares.

Posted by: literallydelicious | December 8, 2011

Truffles

My friend Margaret at http://fantasycrapshoot.blogspot.com is a master candy maker. I’m not. I love the good stuff like she makes, but fudge is more my speed. So you know upfront, any candy recipe you see on this site is easy.

I’m also not great at presentation. I may start out making perfect little round shapes or whatever, but by the time I get near the end, everything’s bigger and wonkier. These truffles are no exception. Note before I make them again: buy a candy scooper thing to control the portions.

While I love the beautiful stuff like Mags does, for my kitchen, taste is enough.

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Truffles

1/2 cup heavy cream

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

6 tablespoons unslated butter cut into small pieces

2 teaspoons vanilla extra

for optional coatings: chopped pecans, cocoa powder, toasted coconut

1. In a double boiler bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat; add chocolate, butter and vanilla and stir until completely melted.

2. Pour mixture into a shallow bowl. Cool, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

3. Line a pan with waxed or parchment paper. Form truffle mixture into small balls. Roll or dip in coating, then place on pan. Cover and refrigerate.

Posted by: literallydelicious | December 5, 2011

Garlic Puree and Garlic Flavored Oil

We love garlic around here. For years my mantra was, “You can never have too much garlic,” until the first time I made pesto and more than doubled the number of cloves called for. Uh, yeah, you can definitely have too much.

I found this recipe on the Internet and sent Bob off to the grocery store to buy, among other things, “lots of garlic.” He came home with about nine large heads, and I went to work. The soaking/cooking process takes away most of the garlic’s bite and leaves the incredible creamy flavor. As a bonus, you have the leftover cooking oil which adds a delicate garlic taste to whatever you cook in it.

The puree is incredible on crackers and stirred into soups or sauces, but it’s best on thick slices of toasted French bread fresh from the oven with the edges crispy and the centers buttery gold. Yumm!!

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Garlic Puree and Garlic Flavored Oil

4 cups water

4-5 heads garlic (separate the cloves but don’t peel them)

1 cup or so vegetable oil

1/2-1 cup virgin olive oil

1. Bring water to boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat, toss in the garlic cloves and let set for about an hour. Drain the water and peel the cloves. Be sure to cut off the hard little end. (After peeling dozens of these, I’ve decided it’s easier to peel from the hard end. Trim that, then strip away the skin toward the pointy top end.)

2. Put the garlic in a saucepan and add enough vegetable and olive oils to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting you have and simmer it until the garlic is tender, 45 minutes to an hour. (Our stove is electric, and even at the lowest setting, it gets to hot, so I have to move the pan half off the burner about every 10-15 minutes, then put it back on for the same time. You don’t want anything more than a very gentle simmer.)

3. Remove from heat and let cool at least 15 minutes. Drain the oil into a canning jar or other lidded container. Run the garlic through a food processor or chopper until very smooth and creamy. Transfer the garlic to a lidded containeer. (A half-pint canning jar is about the right size for this number of cloves.) Store both puree and oil in the refrigerator.

Posted by: literallydelicious | December 2, 2011

Slow-Cooker Turkey Breast

We always have Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at my sister’s house, where my brother-in-law takes great pride — rightly so — doing most of the cooking. (She’s a great cleaner. Perfect match.) But, just in case, I always have the stuff for a small Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at home. (Just in case = the year we were iced in on Christmas day with nothing in the house but frozen dinners and stale crackers.)

I’m not a big fan of turkey. To be so popular for our two biggest holidays, you’d think it would be more foolproof, but nope. I’ve eaten more dry, overcooked turkey in my life than any fifty people should have. (Not BIL’s – he smoked his this year and it was fabulous.) So when I found a no-fuss recipe for slow-cooked turkey that was guaranteed moist and tender, first I went dizzy at the thought of having my oven free for other stuff. Then I made plans to try it.

It was . . . uh, gee, does “incredible” sound over the top? Bob and I agreed it was the best turkey I ever fixed. No pictures, because it’s not a “pretty” dish, but beauty’s only skin deep, right? Literally, in this case.

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Slow-Cooker Turkey Breast

turkey breast, thawed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter

one onion, rough chopped

1/2 – 1 stick butter

chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

1. With a sharp knife, remove the skin from the entire carcass and slice into palm-sized slabs. Also, if the breast has ribs and back attached, cut those off. *

2. Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add turkey skin in batches and fry until golden brown. Drain the skin pieces. Let the entire pan and the oil/butter/fond cool, then refrigerate  for making gravy later.

3. Line slow-cooker with a disposable liner. Add turkey breast, meat side down. Add a few inches of chicken broth to the crock.

4. Slice the butter into large pats and sprinkle over turkey. Do the same with the onion. (If your husband doesn’t eat the crispy skin, chop it roughly and toss it in, too.)

5. Season; cover and cook on high 4-5 hours, on low 6-7 hours (depending on size of breast).

6. To make gravy, heat the skillet and its contents over medium heat. When hot, stir in 1/4 cup flour; let bubble, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the fond. Add 2 cups or so of turkey or chicken broth, and cook until thickened, stirring often. Serve with warm turkey.

* If you want to make your own turkey broth, toss the ribs and back into a large stockpot, cover with water; add a couple chopped carrots, a chopped onion and a few ribs of sliced celery; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a couple hours. Drain and discard the solids.

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