Monday, July 29, 2013

My Homemade Meatsauce

For many years, I've been working on making a rich and hearty meatsauce.  I wanted to create a sauce worthy of my Italian heritage and I think this is the one. It's combination of best techniques I've picked up along my meatsauce journey, studying recipes and adding elements that really seem to add to the depth of flavor found in old world cooking. (Even if that's just a figment of my imagination, ha!)


This recipe isn't rocket science, it's really pretty simple. The only thing that's hard about it is time.  It's one of those things that takes a while to develop and the flavor that develops in that length of time, is unparallelled.

 I know in our busy schedules hovering over the stove top is luxury we don't often have, but I promise it's worth the time. (You don't have to hover really, you can get it going and just check it periodically.)

Try preparing this on a lazy Sunday afternoon. By the evening you'll have a meal your family won't soon forget.

Let's get started.


Begin by sauteing your onions and carrots.  Don't bother chopping the onions, I just use a bag of frozen chopped.  So much easier and you can't taste the difference.

Once those are cooked down a bit, add ground meat and sausage. If you want this to be leaner you can use turkey sausage.  I do sometimes.


Make a well in the center, to make room to brown the short ribs. 


Once the ribs are nice and brown remove from pot briefly and add tomato paste.  Because I never use a whole can, even the small one, I find it's very convenient to use these tubes and just refrigerate the tube for the next time.


 Add garlic to the tomato paste and let it simmer a bit. Once you can smell the garlic, you've probably cooked it long enough.

Not it's time to put the short ribs back and empty all those cans of sauce and pureed tomatoes.Get that all stirred together and add spices.



Next add the milk and season with salt and pepper.


I think one of the things that is hard for some people to figure out is how much salt and pepper to add.  While most people, myself included, leave amounts off. I wanted to kind of explain what my process looks like. I generally start by just covering the top surface of the pot with salt and pepper like this.

While I realize you can't see the salt, I pretty much covered it like the pepper you see here. I'm very much a tasting cook.  I keep a small bowl by my pot to add sauce to and taste from that bowl to see how the flavors are coming together.

Now the hard part is done.  Just turn the pot down to low and go about your business.  If you need to, set an alarm to remind you to check it occasionally.  The longer you can cook this the better.  Your house is going to smell so wonderful.

As you can tell, this is a huge pot. I think it's 7 quarts. Obviously you can cut this recipe in half, but it freezes very well, so I generally go large and freeze a large container or use the rest for my Better than Lasanga Casserole, or both.

 Given the time invested in making this sauce, I want make sure I get several meals from this.


Leslie's Authentic Itailian Meatsauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large clove garlic
1 large onion, about 2 cups
1 cup finely chopped carrot
4 pieces of beef short ribs
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 lbs ground meat, or meatballs
3 oz tomato paste
1 to 2 cups red or white wine
2 24 oz can puree tomato
1 24 oz can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
1 tablespoon Parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper

Directions:

Saute onions and carrots in oil with short ribs until onions are translucent. Next add ground italian sausage and brown slightly. If you want to use link sausage, you can wait to add when the sauce is all in the pot and just let them cook while the sauce cooks.  Toward the end you can remove them with tongs and slice and return to pot.

Add ground meat. When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make a well. Add tomato paste and let it heat.

Add garlic and stir to combine.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add red wine. Stir together.

Add canned tomatoes.

Combine rest of ingredients and stir.

Finally, pour in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours—however long you have.

If adding meatballs instead, cook for a while and then add meatballs, Bring to a slow simmer, cover partially and cook for 2 1/2 hours stirring bottom often.

Serve over all types of pasta, or in lasagna.

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Chicken Lime Fajita Quesadillas

This is a great marinade recipe worthy of eating as fajitas if you would like, but my teenagers really love quesadillas.

Sometimes, I'll grill these ahead of time and just reheat the chicken in individual quesadilla servings.


Grilled Chicken Lime Fajita Quesadillas

1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
about 1 tsp Chipotle seasoning, Ms Dash
Arizona Dreaming seasoning, Penzey's Seasonings
5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
Zest from 1/2 the lime
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large strips
Dash Ground cumin
Salt
Garlic powder

1 tablespoon butter per quesadilla
Flour or corn tortillas
Cheese, shredded, Colby Jack, Pepper jack or Chipolte cheddar are all good choices.


If using chicken breasts trim into strips and place in glass dish. Juice lime on top chicken and add olive oil. Begin coating one side and then the other with seasonings. Allow this to marinate at least an hour.  While I'm heating the grill, I like to take the chicken out of the fridge and let it start to get to room temperature.

Grill chicken for about 4-5 minutes per side on medium high.  Pull off grill and cover with foil.  Let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes.

If making quesadillas or fajitas right away, thinly slice chicken. Otherwise, once cooled, refrigerate until ready to use.

To make quesadillas, heat butter in pan and add tortilla. I like to douse one tortilla in butter and then remove to a plate butter side up and place the other tortilla in the pan. This way I don't have to add more butter to the pan when I flip it over.

Add cheese and chicken to tortilla and top with more cheese and another tortilla. Once the bottom seems nice and hot, flip over the quesadilla with a large spatula.

Continue heating until brown and bubbly, slice and serve.

Better Than Lasgana: An Italian Casserole

I've been making this casserole for many years.  It's an adaptation of a casserole my Mother-in-Law contributed to a Mardi Gras Krewe cookbook.  It has been kind of a "loose" recipe, not really using exact measurements.  I've tried to get the measurements down here. Sometimes, I add alittle more of one thing or another depending on how it looks. Either way, it does seem to always come out delicious. 
 
Most of the time now, instead of using can or jarred sauce, I've been using my Authentic Slow Cooked Italian Meatsauce. Mmmm, mmm, mmm talk about good!
 


Better than Lasagna  

1 lb ground beef
1 lb italian sausage
10 oz noodles, gluten free
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
2 28 oz cans of tomato sauce or 10 cups of Homemade Meatsauce
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
salt
pepper
8-10 oz grated Mozzarella cheese

Make meat sauce. I actually think you need a little more than 56 oz, but I can't remember I always try to error on the side of having too much sauce. )In the end, about 10 cups of meatsauce seems right.  If I end up with extra sauce, some times I use it to make pita pizzas.

Boil and drain noodles according to package directions. Feel free to use gluten free. 

Combine with cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese and about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese in large bowl.  Season with salt, pepper, basil and parsley. (Fresh is best, but dried will do.)
 

Spray a large casserole dish with olive oil. I use a 9x9 most of the time, but having a generous dish like an 9 x 13 is probably advisable.  

Cover the bottom with sauce, then layer noodle mixture on top, then another layer of sauce.  Finish with mozzarella cheese and a little more Parmesan and parsley to the top. 

Bake at 350 until brown on top about 30 minutes. (Or I often do 475 for 20 minutes, if I'm in a hurry.)

Like I said I use a a deep dish 9x9 pan most of the time now and that works out nicely with almost 10 cups of my homemade sauce I either prepare before hand or I pull out of the freezer.  You can also use two smaller dishes and have one to freeze or share.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gluten Free Carmelitas


I admired Carmelita recipes on Pinterest for quite a while before I tried my hand at making them gluten free.  I generally have found cookies made with substitute flours to leave me feeling like I'm eating something weird.  So when I got the idea to use my own tried and true dough,  Ultimate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, I was pretty hopeful I was on to something good.


I think by all accounts they are quite the decadent bar cookie.

You have a couple options for making them.  If you have a crowd to feed, I'd double the recipe like shown in the photos and use a 9 x 13 pan. Otherwise, you can use an 8x8 or an 9x9.

I have also prepared the recipe just as instructed below in a 9 x13 pan when I'm making it just for our family.  It's not as rich or thick.  If you cut your dough in half once it's prepared you can genreally cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of cookie dough only one or two extra tablespoons "borrowed" from the other half. Don't be concerned if it looks too thin, it will rise as it bakes.

Begin by making the cookie dough. And then spread in the bottom of your chosen dish lined with parchment.


Please note that the photo above is a doubled recipe in the 9x13 pan.

I have made this without lining a pan when I used a piece of stoneware and they came out fine, but it is nice to be able to lift the bars out with the parchment, once they are completely cooled and cut them into squares. I have also lifted them out of the pan partially cooled and placed it directly on a cooling rack.  Eliminating the hot glass dish, speeds the process.

While the bottom layer of cookie cooks, prepare your caramel.

Unwrap the caramels and place in small saucepan with whole milk and cook on low heat until melted through and smooth.

After about 10 minutes, pull out the pan and top with chocolate chips and then caramel sauce.


Crumble remaining dough on top and bake for 10-15 more minutes depending on your pan size.

Remove from oven when nice and brown.


You may be tempted to eat these before they cool.  I know. It smells amazing, but it will be better if you  wait.  It will be sweet gooey mess.  Tasty, but really too rich and gooey to enjoy thoroughly.

Cut into squares and serve. You wont' regret the wait. :)

Ingredients
  • 14 oz caramel squares, unwrapped
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions:

Combine sugar, brown sugar, and coconut oil in a large bowl. Beat until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and baking soda: mix well. Add peanut butter and mix. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and nuts if desired.

Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8x8" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  If you are using a smaller dish, or doubled recipe,you may need a little longer

While it bakes, combine caramels and milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. 

Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. 

Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

If you're pinched for time, you can cool the pan in the fridge after it's been out of the oven a while. All of that thick layer of caramel takes a very long time to cool completely. They should be stored and served at room temperature.

***To make a 9x13" version like shown, simply double the amounts.  Can be made with recipe amounts shown above but will result in a thinner cookie bar.

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Deep Dish Oatmeal Chocolate Chip ala Mode

I made this early on in my gluten free journey. I was looking for a gluten free dessert to serve to company.  I decided to take my go to Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and make it something even more special.

They will never knew they were eating gluten free and they loved it.

But it's so good, I often don't wait until company comes over to make this. :)

Deep Dish Oatmeal Cookie ala Mode

Ingredients

dough from Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gluten Free
4″ ramekins
Vanilla Ice Cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 375° F. Fill ramekins 1/2″ deep with raw cookie dough. The recipe will make enough to fill 8 ramekins. Place ramekins on sheet pan and put in middle rack of oven.



Bake 15-18 minutes, or until top starts to turn golden brown.

Remove from oven and carefully handle the hot ramekins. To serve, place each ramekin on a small plate. Top with a scoop of ice cream.


Just a note, when I say 4" ramekin, rim to rim is nearly 4", but the inside is around 3" so I don't technically know if this is a 4" ramekin or not.

The Best Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie


The very first thing I needed to master when I went gluten free was chocolate chip cookies. After many tries at strange flour combinations, I finally decided to go back to our favorite type of chocolate chip cookie, oatmeal chocolate chip. I just had to figure out how to make them without any flour.

This is recipe is the most perfect rendition of that pursuit. A nice soft, chewy cookie with lots of peanut butter.  They even stay soft after a few days in an airtight container, but I bet they won't be around long at your house either.

In an effort to make them even healthier, I use coconut oil instead of butter.  I've discovered I really like using coconut oil in baking, because not only does it have many health benefits, it behaves almost like shortening. If you haven't used coconut oil before this is a great place to start. You can use butter, but trust me on this one.

It does look a little different when you "cream" your sugars with coconut oil.


 Once you add the eggs, vanilla and baking soda it looks more like a normal cookie batter.


Next add your peanut butter, flax seed, chocolate chips and lastly oatmeal. Mix until well combined.

I like to use a cookie scoop to place my cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet.


You can see from this photo that I now use dark chocolate chips.  Chocolate heaven I tell you!

This is what they look like right out of the oven.


If you are a fan of a crunchier cookie, just bake until they get a bit darker than what you see here.

The Best Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, or softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanut butter, crunchy or creamy
1/4 cup flax seed meal
6 oz chocolate chips
2 3/4 cups rolled oats

Directions
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, brown sugar, and melted coconut oil in a large bowl. Beat until combined and kind of creamy. It will be much more grainy in consistency than you are used to with butter. Add eggs, vanilla, and baking soda, mix well. Add peanut butter and flax seed meal and mix. Stir in chocolate chips and then the oats.

Place dough by heaping teaspoons, or a medium cookie scoop onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden on the edges.

Makes approximately 48 cookies. Try not to eat them all in one day.

Because most of my family prefer all cookies hot, I generally make 2 sheets of cookies and then save the rest of the dough in the fridge for about a week. Then I make one more tray and they disappear in a flash. :)

Not only do I think these cookies are gluten free perfection, even those who could care less about gluten think these cookies are pretty darn amazing. I recently made "regular" chocolate chip cookies and my husband thought they tasted funny.

The recipe easily adapts to more glamorous desserts like Deep Dish Cookie ala Mode or Caramelitas.  These recipes definitely give you more amazing gluten free dessert options.



You know you want to Pin it! Here's another chance! ;)

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Spicy Mexican Corn Chowder

I love a good corn chowder. I have several recipes saved in my recipe app.  In fact, I shared this one last week and as much as I love that recipe, I wanted something hardier with a nice kick.

So, I came up with this one.  It's fairly low fat because I skipped heavy cream and bacon. But it's just as rich in flavor and it's got some heat!


Here are the basic ingredients.  This is always such a fun shot.  All fresh and lovely. ;)


I began by sauteing some red onion in coconut oil.  You could use olive oil, if you'd prefer.

Look at that pot closely, because I had to make a switcher-roo later the soup just kept growning!


Once they were almost translucent like the photo, I added in the peppers and garlic.


Once those cook a bit, add chicken broth and diced chicken.  I think I've mentioned this before, but I love to use split chicken breasts for my soups.  I slice off the meatiest part off of the rib to make boneless chicken breasts and then boil down the remaining meat attached to the bone to make stock and cooked chicken for soup.  Very economical and a great way to get at least two meals out of 4 breasts.


This large measuring cup shows how much meat was de-boned from 4 split chicken breasts, even after I basically "fileted' it. (Obviously, you can make as much broth as you like.  I just season the boiling water with Original Ms Dash and salt.)

Add this to the pot along with the zucchini and chipolte pepper, cumin and cook for a few minutes. Notice the big pot change.  This recipe definitely makes enough for freezing.


Shuck and cut corn from cob.  I was working on that while all the other ingredients were cooking.

Add all the corn cut off the cob except 2 cups to the pot.

If you are using frozen corn, I have found that it either cooks down faster or just creates more "juice".  I ended up needing to add 2 more cups of corn to get the thick, chunky consistency I wanted.  You could alternatively reduce the milk to one cup in the next step or reduce the broth.

Milk the corn husks into bowl with reserved corn.  To milk a corn cob, you simple run the back of a knife over the cob and collect the milk that is released.


After you've milked the corn, add 2 cups whole milk and 2 tablespoons cornstarch to the bowl and puree with immersion blender or transfer to blender.


Once this mixture is nice and smooth, add to simmering pot of corn.  This will thicken the soup rather quickly.  This step is used in lue of a roux that would be made with flour, to avoid gluten.


Cook down for a few minutes and check spices. I decided to add some more Southwest Chipolte seasoning from Ms. Dash. It's quite spicy and a great blend of southwest flavors.

Finish by adding 1 cup of shredded Pepper jack and 1 cup of Colby jack cheeses and chopped cilantro.  Stir until melted and serve. Top with extra cheese and cilantro if you would like.  Tortillas are good too. :)


Spicy Mexican Corn Chowder

Ingredients

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium red onion
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 jalepeno chopped, use seeds according to spice level desired. I used about a 1/4
3-4 cloves garlic
3 cups chicken broth
2 1/2 cups chicken breast, chopped
6 ears of corn shucked, about 6 cups (see note if using frozen)
1/2 cup salsa verde, roasted green salsa
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 small zucchini, chopped
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon Southwest Chipolte blend, Ms. Dash
salt to taste, at least 2 teaspoons
1 cup pepper jack cheese, grated
1 cup Colby jack cheese, grated


In large pot, saute red onions in coconut oil.  Once they were almost translucent add peppers and garlic.  Cook down for 3-4 minutes.

Add chicken broth and diced chicken on medium high. Once simmering, add zucchini and seasonings, including salsa verde.

After 2-3 minutes add 4 cups of cut corn to the pot.

 Reserve 2 cups in a large bowl or measuring cup. To the measuring cup add 2 cups whole milk, and 3 tablespoons corn starch.  Add immersion blender to bowl and blend until smooth. (Our transfer contents to a blender.)

Add pureed corn and cornstarch to simmering pot and the Southwest Chipolte seasoning. The  chowder will begin to thicken rather quickly.  If it becomes too thick, you can add more stock.

After about 5 minutes on medium low, add cheese and cilantro. Stir until melted and serve immediately.

NOTE:  If using frozen corn, you will likely need to increase the amount of corn by about 2 cups.  Alternatively, you could reduce the amount of broth and or milk.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

The Best Steak Fajitas

My family loves Mexican food.  But over the past few years, we've been pretty disappointed with the steak fajitas at our local Mexican joints.

After many disappointing dinning experiences, I set myself on a mission to make the best steak fajitas at home on our grill. And I can say with some confidence, based on my family and guests reactions, these are pretty darn good and rival some of the best steak fajitas we've had.

This recipe is an adaptation of one from Alton Brown.  If you are familiar with his old cooking shows, you know he's pretty methodical.

A great steak fajitas start with a marinade.  I also learned that having the right cut of meat is almost as important.  My favorite cut for fajitas is the flat iron. It is the most tender and downright tastiest cut there is for fajitas. Not gristle, very little fatty tissue.


These are the ingredients I combine with the steak in a zip lock bag and let it marinade all day.  If the particular steak I've purchased is a little on the thick side I cut it in half.  This makes it easier for me to grill to the desired medium without overcooking the thinner parts at the ends.


As soon as I start the grill, I drain the marinade into a skillet and add sliced onions and bell peppers.


Here are the four pieces of the flat iron on the grill. Notice the foil packets on the top? I try to remember to heat the tortillas here while the steaks are cooking.

Once the steaks appear cooked to our liking, I remove them to a plate and let them rest before slicing.


Honestly, this is a little rarer than I like, but not to worry.  I just toss the sliced steak into the skillet with the onions and peppers and let it cook down just a minute or two.  Actually, this just enhances the flavor so if you aren't sure, always err on the side of rare and let it simmer with the onions and peppers.

If you don't know what different cooking temperatures, well, medium, rare feel like I just go by this tip. I must not have checked this particular piece very good enough.


The Best Steak Fajitas

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
4 green onions, coarsely chopped
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or 1 tablespoon Agave Nectar
2 pounds flat iron, cut into 2 equal pieces
Enough Chipotle seasoning to lightly cover one side of the steak

Directions:

Combine oil, soy sauce, green onions, garlic, lime juice, red pepper fl, cumin, and sugar and whisk together. In a large heavy duty, zip top bag, put pieces of skirt steak and pour in marinade. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Allow steak to marinate for 1 to 8 hours in refrigerator.

Remove steak from bag and reserve marinade for cooking onion mix in a skillet.

Preheat gas grill on high.

Cook using a cast iron skillet on grill or inside on cook top. Start cooking before placing the meat on preheated grill. Add marinade from beef to pan.

Lower grill heat to medium high and grill approximately 5 to 7 minutes on each side for skirt steaks between 1 and 1-½ pounds each. When the meat is cooked to your liking, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes, covering with foil.

After the resting period, remove meat from foil, reserving juices. Slice thinly across the grain of the meat and diagonally into finger-length strips. Return to platter and toss with juice. Serve with grilled peppers and onions, if desired.

If you'd like, you can add the steak to your pan of onions.  My family doesn't eat the onions and peppers so unless we have company or the meat came out too rare to our liking, I just serve separately.

Leslie's BBQ Chicken Rub


This week is Grill Week at Menu Plan Monday.  Be sure to check out the other great grillin' recipes and tips I am featuring this week here

Any piece of chicken will yield great results with this rub.  Flavorful and juicy every time. I promise.

The pieces above are split chicken breasts that have been filleted from their bone and cut in half diagonally to make fairly even pieces.  I create a stock with the bones and left over meat to use for soups.  You'd be surprised how much meat will come off of 4 split breasts even after I cut off the meatiest part for boneless breasts. An extremely economical way to make your own boneless chicken breast!

Leslie's BBQ Chicken Rub

3 tsp. salt, kosher salt is best
2 tsp. smoked paprika 
2 good dashes cayenne pepper 
1 tsp. onion powder 
1 tsp. thyme 
1 tsp. chili powder
3 pinches lemon peel
1/2 tsp. garlic powder 
1/2 tsp. black pepper 
1 large roasting chicken , cut up 

Cut up chicken and place in dish lined with saran wrap or in a zip lock bag.  Cover with rub and marinate as long as you have, but at least 3 hours is best.

Remove chicken from fridge 30 minutes before ready to grill to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat gas grill on high for 10 to 15 minutes.  Turn down to medium high and sear pieces of chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes a side is usually good for boneless breasts.


If cooking chicken with bones, then after searing on both sides, turn grill down to low (just a little higher on the side with the thighs), and cook for 15 minutes and turn.  Cook for another 10 minutes and turn.  Cook for another 5 minutes or until a thermometer reading says it's done at 165 degrees.

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Healthy Corn Chowder


I'm not sure I've expressed my love for soup enough here yet.  But I love soup, especially for lunches.

Given that I'm gluten free, sandwiches are not usually on my lunch menu.

I often make a large pot of soup and freeze about two portions per container.  This gives me a wide variety of soup options for my lunches. 

I also tend to take advantage of the fact that I wouldn't be feeding the soups to those in my family that have aversions to a wide variety of vegetables.

This recipe is very light and fresh tasting, which lends itself well to a summertime soup.  Preparing it in the summer also give you the opportunity to use the best and freshest corn and vegetables, but quality frozen corn works just as well.

I most often used split breasts for my soups.  It's very economical to filet the breasts from the bone and save the breast for other dishes where I need boneless chicken breasts. I simply take a knife and cut near the bone, removeing a large portion of the breast. Then I add the meaty bone lefovert to make chicken stock and cooked chicken.  You'd be surprised how much meat is left attached to the bone. Plenty enough to use in a soup.

After you've got your chicken and stock you're ready to go.

Ingredients

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup peppers, red, green or yellow
2 sprig fresh thyme
2 sprig rosemary chopped
2 bay leaf
10 cups chicken stock
12 small red potatoes, diced
5 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast
2 chopped zucchini
12 whole mushrooms-stems removed, optional
Six to seven ears of fresh corn
OR
4 cups frozen corn
2 can creamed corn
4 to 6 pieces of bacon, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Use chicken breast bones and remainder chicken from split chicken breast, about 4 large breasts bone pieces.

Boil chicken bones in seasoned water with Mrs Dash. Remove and de-bone chicken and dice. Place in fridge broth to skim fat.

Saute onion, celery, carrots and peppers.


Reheat broth in pot and add dice potatoes and cook in broth with added seasonings.

If using fresh corn, shuck corn and corn from cob and milk the corn. (To milk the corn, run the back side of a knife along the cob, and collect the milky corn that comes off into the pot or in a measuring cup.


Add corn and cook for 5 minutes.

Then use hand held mixer, immersion blender, to puree some of the corn and potatoes right in the pot.  If you don't have one of these just add several cups to a blender and then return to pot.

Add chicken, zucchini, mushrooms if desired, and cook till done.  Top each serving with bacon if desired.


All of the freshness of the vegetables are so wonderful, you hardly miss the cream, butter and flour other recipes use.

Shepherd's Pie



I have loved Shepherd's Pie since I was a teenager. I had my first taste of this comfort food while I was visiting my best childhood friend in London.  Yes, I was lucky enough to taste the real deal! My  friend moved overseas the year before and for my thirteenth birthday my parents sent me to visit her, all by myself.  It was a marvelous, memory filled trip, one my teenagers are really tired of hearing about. ;)

Anyway, it was and is a delicious dish and I've been making it for many years.

You start with your mashed potato topping.  Peel and cut up the potatoes and let them boil until done.

While the potatoes are cooking brown the ground beef and lamb, with onions, celery and carrots. (That french miropaux mix I mentioned a while back makes it so easy.)


Once that is browned, add a clove of garlic.  Be sure to season well with salt and pepper.


My little secret ingredient is 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.  This one that comes in a tube is super handy. I just keep a tube in my fridge for many recipes. Also throw in 2 teaspoons of Thyme.

Make a gravy for the filling with beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and cornstarch. Let simmer while you finish the mashed potatoes.

Once the potatoes are soft, I use my Kitchenaid mixer to mash the potatoes briefly and then add, butter, milk, and cream cheese.  Of course, season with salt and pepper.

Add the meat filling to a dish, buttered if necessary.  Top with mashed potatoes and finish with mozzarella cheese.

My helper and daughter Emily finished the dish for me while I ran an errand, hence the lack of photos of the previous parts.


Bake in 425 oven for 15-20 minutes.  Yours probably won't come out this brown.  Emily turned the oven off, but left it in to keep it warm.  She didn't realize it would continue to brown.  But we didn't mind we actually like our cheese nice and brown.


This was the first time I used the combination of beef and lamb.  It was very good and will definitely do it again.  The lamb seemed to lend a little sweetness to the dish.


Shepherd's Pie

For the Meat Filling:

1    tablespoon coconut oil
1    pound ground beef
1    pound ground lamb
1   cup frozen French Miropaux mix or equivalent of onion, celery and carrots, chopped
2    teaspoons thyme (fresh or dried)
2    tablespoons tomato paste
1    cup beef stock or broth
2    teaspoons Worcestershire,
1    tablespoon cornstarch, in a slurry of water
1    cup frozen peas
1    teaspoon sweet paprika

For the Mashed Potatoes

2 1/2 -3 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes
5   tablespoons Butter
1/2 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
1/4 cup Half-and-Half or whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions:

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl.

While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef and/or lamb with the onion, celery and carrots.

Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. If you are using lamb and the pan is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings.

Next add the thyme and the tomato paste, which gives the meat filling a richer flavor. After this is all  mixed together add the peas.

Finish the meat filling by making a gravy with beef stock, worcestshire and paprika.  Once the stock is boiling add slurry of cornstarch and water. Let simmer on low until potatoes are finished.

When the potatoes are soft, slightly mash the potatoes. I use a paddle attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine cream cheese, butter and milk into the potatoes and whip until potatoes are almost smooth.

Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly.

Top potatoes with grated mozzarella cheese from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned, about 15-20 minutes.