Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cuban Picillo Sandwiches (Less than 20 minutes)

Last night, we made these sandwiches for dinner. We thought they would be fun to eat while we watched The Simpson's Movie. I also made some baked sweet potato fries. The sandwiches are supposed to be made with ground pork but I couldn't find any at my grocery store. They had ground lamb and ground veal but no ground plain pork. They also had bulk Italian sausage and other types of bulk sausage which are of course, ground pork. But, they have other spices in them. Anyway, I substituted ground turkey for the ground pork. I'm sure that the ground pork would taste even better. Hopefully, the next time I make these sandwiches, I'll be able to find the ground pork. My plan is to use half ground turkey and half ground pork (they'll be slightly healthier!). Also, the original recipe called for raisins. Neither MTH nor myself like raisins so we left them out. If you like raisins, then you may want to try them. You add 1/2 cup golden raisins with the spices and the tomatoes.

Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2005

1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives
8 (1 1/2-ounce) whole wheat hamburger buns

Cook onion, garlic, and pork in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain and return mixture to pan. Stir in next 5 ingredients (through tomatoes). Reduce heat, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in olives. Toast the needed buns. Spread about 2/3 cup picadillo mixture on bottom half of each bun; cover with top half of bun.

We had leftovers which I'm sure will taste even better on Monday.

Yankee Pot Roast (About 2 1/2 hours)

Last weekend, the grocery store had chuck roasts half off. So, I decided to buy one along with some parsnips, carrots and potatoes. I knew the basic idea of how to make a pot roast and what I would need to do it but I still had to look up a recipe for some added instructions. Here's what I did.

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, October 2007

1 teaspoon canola oil
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled parsnip (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups (1-inch-thick) slices carrot (about 8 ounces)
2 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled baking potato (about 1 pound)

Preheat oven to 300°.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef to pan, browning on all sides (about 8 minutes). Remove from pan. Add a little more oil. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until beginning to brown. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat; add spices through bay leaves. Return roast to pan; bring to a simmer.

Cover and bake at 300° for 1 1/2 hours. Stir in parsnips and carrots. Bake, covered, 1 hour. Stir in potato; cover and bake 30 minutes or until roast and vegetables are very tender. Discard bay leaves.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Beef and Veggie Potpie (About 45 minutes)

I made this one a few weeks back. Again, I got the idea from the daily emails. But, as per usual, I didn't follow the recipe word for word. Here's what I made:

olive oil
3/4 pound ground sirloin
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
dried thyme, to taste
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
7 oz fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain. Wipe drippings from pan with a paper towel. Heat more olive oil in pan. Add zucchini and next 5 ingredients (through garlic); sauté 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Return beef to pan. Stir in wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and broth. Bring to a boil; cook 3 minutes. Combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; stir with a fork to get rid of the lumps. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Bake a batch of homemade or canned biscuits while the beef mixture is cooking. Serve the beef mixture over one or two biscuits. It's an all in one meal with your meat and vegetable!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Christmas French Toast (About 20 minutes)

We had lots and lots of bread that had been sliced up for our Christmas Eve dinner. So, I decided to take a page from Alton Brown's book and leave it out overnight so that we could make perfect French toast. The batter was simple:

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix thoroughly.

Add a dot of butter to a preheated frying pan. Place the bread into the batter for a few seconds, flip and repeat. Place in the frying pan and brown on both sides.

I like a little sugar or jam. My Mom had brought some of her homemade strawberry and blueberry jams. Some people put syrup on it instead.

It was the best homemade French toast I've ever had. Using stale bread is the key! The day after Christmas we had some challah bread left over. It makes awesome French toast as well.

New Years Day Meal

I tried to be traditional with our meal on New Years. You know, black eyed peas for luck and collard greens for money. Well, collard greens were a bit much for just me and MTH. So, I made wilted spinach with garlic instead. But, we did make the black eyed peas straight from the dried beans. And, we broiled a flat iron steak using a Mexican rub from my friend MAT (the one that lives in SF, formerly MAK). We thoroughly enjoyed making the meal together and then eating it together.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Bean Soup (15 minutes prep with 30 minutes simmering)

This recipe is officially called "North Woods Bean Soup". It's adapted from a recipe in the January 2002 issue of Cooking Light. I've put my changes in italics. This soup took me only about 15 minutes of actual hands on preparation. The rest was just simmering. I was really impressed because I was able to go work out, come home and start the soup, take my shower and then presto - dinner was served!

1 cup baby carrots, halved
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
7 ounces turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
dried oregano, marjoram and thyme, to taste
black pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste

2 (15.8-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
smooth kale

Heat a large saucepan coated with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and kielbasa; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes. Add the broth, dried spices, peppers, and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Place 2 cups of the soup in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to pan. Simmer an additional 5 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Add the kale, stirring until kale wilts.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Almost Whole Wheat Pita Bread (About 9 1/2 hours with rising)

I found this recipe in the Washington Post on Sunday and decided I wanted to have homemade pita bread to go with store bought hummus (I'll make that from scratch when I get a food processor one day). The recipe said that it could be made with whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. I've found that breads made only with whole wheat are very heavy so I decided to try it out with half whole wheat and half bread flour. I thought the bread flour would make a better pita as well - more gluten. That's what makes your bread chewy. Also, I didn't feel like baking these on Sunday night when I made the dough so I set them to rise in the refrigerator and baked them the next morning. Here's my recipe adapted from "The Arab Table" by May S. Bsisu.

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
2 3/4 cups bread flour,plus extra for kneading
2 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil

Combine yeast, 1 cup of the warm water and sugar in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Set aside until mixture is foamy and doubled in size, about 10 minutes.

Sift flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Using your stand mixer and the dough hook, mix ingredients until dough pulls away form sides of the bowl, forming a ball.

Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Sprinkling as little flour on the dough and your hands as possible, knead the dough -- push, fold and turn -- about five minutes, until dough is smooth, elastic and doesn't stick to your fingers.

Coat a large bowl with remaining olive oil and place dough inside, turning to coat with the oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and set in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, lightly dust a baking sheet and a kitchen towel with flour.

Punch dough and transfer to a floured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Divide dough into equal pieces (depends on the size pita you want), roll each one into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Working with 1 ball of dough at a time, flatten gently, using a rolling pin or your hands. Roll dough out until about ¼-inch thick. Lay loaves on floured towel, sprinkle flour on top, cover with a second towel, and let rest about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Preheat pizza stone* 10 minutes before ready to bake.
Arrange as many loaves as you can on pizza stone, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake until they puff up, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool; repeat.

Can be frozen in plastic zip bag and thawed in refrigerator. Reheat at 300 degrees for 10 minutes.

* If you don't have a pizza stone, a cookie sheet should be fine instead but I would definitely preheat it just like the pizza stone.