Friday, August 29, 2008

Broccoli Gratin

The latest addition of the Everyday Food Magazine published by Martha Stewart featured broccoli. I enjoy eating broccoli but sometimes a little cheese helps it down the hatch! When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. It was simple to prepare. It called for only 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, but coming from someone who professes to LOVE cheese I needed to add a little extra! This was a perfect side dish and a great way to use broccoli that is headed towards its last viable days in your fridge. Enjoy!

Serves 6
3 slices white sandwich bread (I used about 1.5 cups of Panko breadcrumbs instead)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk (I used 2 cups whole milk and 1 cup skim)
2 heads broccoli (about 2 pounds total), florets finely chopped, stalks peeled and finely chopped
1 cup shredded white cheddar (4 ounces) (I added about 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in upper third. In a food processor, pulse bread and 1 tablespoon oil until large crumbs form; season with salt and pepper (I melted a tablespoon of butter and mixed in the Panko, this saved me from having to get out the food processor). Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Whisk in flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil; add broccoli. Reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 cup cheese (plus the Parmesan).

Transfer mixture to a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish; top with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese. Bake until breadcrumbs are golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

And here's a picture of my tired sous chef...long day in the kitchen buddy??

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers Butterflied Chicken

This week's Barefoot Bloggers challenge was Butterflied Chicken chosen by Stefany of Proceed With Caution. Being someone who doesn't love to touch raw chicken (although I get by) I wasn't necessarily excited about "deboning" a chicken. My husband, however, saw this challenge as a reward. He was pretty excited to get his hands on the little bird and cut away. The noise of the scissors and the bones was enough for me, I went outside to wash the cars!

Ina's marinade was perfect. The strong hints of rosemary and lemon complimented the chicken perfectly. We decided to season a few bone in chicken breasts and cook them along with the whole chicken. We've had our share of chicken this week...3 night's of left overs and even some chicken salad at lunch. I think we're done for awhile, but will definitely use this marinade again...perhaps not on an entire deboned and butterflied chicken, that was a little more work than a weeknight can handle! I will note we used a slightly larger chicken (as that was all the store had) and it took about 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour to cook on the grill.

We served our chicken with mashed potatoes and a side of green beans with shallots and bacon.

Here's our simple bean recipe. Anyone will eat beans covered in bacon!
Cook 4 pieces of bacon in a large frying pan on medium heat. Once finished remove bacon and crumble. Add two diced shallots to bacon grease (if there's a lot drain some so the shallots are not swimming). Cook until soften. Add blanched green beans to shallots and return bacon to pan. Cook until warmed through.

Coming tomorrow, Broccoli Gratin.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beef and Broccoli

Tonight's dinner was beef and broccoli from the Weight Watchers Take Out Tonight cookbook. Several months ago we did Weight Watchers and both had good results. We've stopped "counting points" per say but like to still throw in a WW meal every now and then. This cookbook is full of fan favorites. The beef and broccoli comes together quite quickly and tastes a lot like the Chinese Food restaurant version, although a lot healthier. We served ours over brown rice.

3/4 lb beef top round, trimmed of fat and cut into thin strips
2 T cornstarch
1/2 cup low sodium beef broth
2 T oyster sauce
2 T honey
2 T reduced sodium soy sauce
1 T dry sherry
1 lb broccoli cut into florets (4 cups)
2 t canola oil
1 T minced peeled fresh ginger (we used pickled ginger because that was all we had on hand)
3 garlic cloves mined

1. Combine beef with 1 T cornstarch; toss well to coat and set aside. Combine the remaining 1 T cornstarch, broth, oyster sauce, honey, soy sauce, and sherry in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add the broccoli and cook until crisp tender; 3-4 minutes, drain. (We transferred the broccoli to a cold water bath to retain its green color).

3. Heat a nonstick wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Swirl in the oil, then add the beef. Stir-fry until just cooked through, 3-4 minutes; transfer to a plate.

4. Add the ginger and garlic to the wok and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Add the beef and broccoli and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Serve with brown rice and enjoy! This was the first time we've made this recipe but because of its ease and great result we'll add it to the dinner rotation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Tonight's dinner was a quick, easy buffalo chicken salad courtesy of Rachael Ray. I like Rachael's recipes, but never find them to be truly 30 minute always take me MUCH longer. Anyway, this recipe is true to its 30 minutes. The chicken gets a quick saute in butter and olive oil, who doesn't love butter? It's then tossed with buffalo sauce, we used Franks Red Hot. The salad is romaine, shredded carrots and chopped celery in ranch dressing. It calls for crumbled blue cheese, but I forgot to buy was still good without! I highly recommend this salad for a quick meal. You can find the recipe HERE.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Barefoot Thursdays

This week's Barefoot Bloggers challenge was Panzanella from the Ina Garten Parties Cookbook chosen by Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen. Being married to an Italian man I had to look up exactly what Panzanella meant...check it out HERE. At first I was a little nervous about this recipe because I don't like raw tomatoes (I know, I know) but I was surprised at how much I liked this salad. Ina hit the mark with this one! The dressing was just right, not too over powering and the fresh veggies (tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onion and basil) tasted great with the toasted bread. We did make one omission, we left out the capers. Being a carb lover I had to include a photo of my favorite part.....
And yes, I ate the veggies too! Thanks Melissa, for choosing such a great summer time recipe. We will be making this one again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kid Friendly Meal

I'm a little late in posting this meal, but last week we made one of my favorites, Mac N Cheese and served it along side Oven Fried Chicken. This meal reminds me of one of those all you can eat buffets! Mac N Cheese has always been one of my favorite comfort meals and I usually make my mother's recipe but am always up for trying new things. I've made the Barefoot Contessa version several times, but this one comes from Tyler Florence.
I liked this recipe because it called for heating the milk with onion, cloves, garlic, bay leaves, mustard and thyme. That really smelled great on my stove! I will be adding this version to my recipe box. You can find the recipe HERE.

We choose to make the Barefoot Contessa Oven Fried Chicken (recipe HERE) to serve along side the mac n cheese. I am always making Ina Garten meals, however, this recipe was not one of my favorites. The chicken looks beautiful, however it was lacking in the flavor department. The breading was flavorful, and the chicken moist, but overall I found it to be a bit bland. This was our first attempt at oven fried chicken so perhaps next time we'll season the chicken (under the skin) prior to cooking.
We did enjoy this meal like we were kids! Something about fried chicken and macaroni and cheese....just makes you smile!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Real Barbecue

Tonight we had Kansas City Barbecued Spare Ribs, Red Beans and Rice, and local grown corn. A true barbecue! It was finger licking good. Of course a thunderstorm rolled in right when it was time to fire up the grill, so we started the ribs in the oven and finished them, post storm, out on the grill. They turned out great. The rice was a new recipe for us and it was also delicious. Will definitely make that again.

The rib recipe comes from the Weber's Big Book of Grilling. Follow these directions to make Kansas City style Spare Ribs:

For the rub:
2 T kosher salt
2 T mild or hot Hungarian paprika (we used regular)
1.5 T cumin
1 T dried oregano
2 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t ground allspice
1/2 t ground cinnamon

2 to 3 slabs meaty pork spareribs (6 to 7 lbs trimmed of excess fat).

To make the rub, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Coat the ribs with rub and place in a large, resealable plastic bag. Press air out and seal tightly. Place in a bowl and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.

For the Sauce:
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 T finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup ketchup
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T granulated sugar
2 T cider vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t dry mustard
fresh ground black pepper

To make the sauce in a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and saute the celery and onion until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, including pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside. Pour some of the sauce in a small bowl to use for basing the ribs.

Allow the ribs to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling. Grill, rib side down (we started in a 350 degree oven for 1.5 hours then moved to the grill), over indirect medium heat until the meat is very tender and has pulled back from the ends of the bones, 1.5 to 2 hours.
During the last 20 minutes of grilling time, baste frequently with the small bowl of sauce. Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Reheat remaining sauce and serve on the side with the ribs.

The Red Beans and Rice comes from the Southern Living Secrets of the South's Best Barbecue (the website is here).

2 t olive oil
6 oz smoked turkey sausage
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1 t minced garlic
1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
1.2 t dried thyme
1/2 t ground red pepper (we used cayenne)
3 bay leaves
2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained
2 (14 oz) cans beef broth
1 1/2 cups seeded chopped tomato
3 T sliced green onions

Coat a dutch oven with cooking spray; add oil. Place over medium high heat until hot. Add sausage, onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add rice and next 3 ingredients; saute 30 seconds. Stir in beans and beef broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove and discard bay leaves. Serve topped with tomato and green onions.