Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grandpa's Mac and Cheese


My Grandpa Tude has one dish that he makes that everyone in the family fights over.  I'll admit that he's the best at making this dish.  I remember always going back to get seconds and even thirds when we got together and he made his infamous homemade Mac and Cheese.

Now that I'm making this recipe, I find that maybe I'll blend some other cheeses.  I feel that since I've moved, I think sharper cheeses in this would be better.  I think it may be more of a location thing.  This is still a good recipe to base from in making your own Macaroni and Cheese.  This is the best way to get yourself away from those wretched boxed macaroni and cheese dinners.  You'll never want those again.

I do apologize as the instructions aren't very technical in this recipe.  I will tell you how to make this the way it was told to me.  I do add some ground mustard to give it more zip though.  I feel it's important to do this.  My mother came up with the idea to add it and it tastes better.  I wonder if my grandpa added this and just didn't tell us he did for his recipe.

Grandpa Tude's Macaroni and Cheese

Ziti Macaroni from Italy (Penne and similar pastas work fine as well)
2 Lbs. Longhorn Colby, cut in 1 1/2 squares (Shullsburg has been the best brand so far)
1 Tbsp Salt
Milk, warmed in a pan (2% works best)

Fill casserole dish a little over 1/3 with uncooked macaroni and pour into boiling water.  Cook until very al dente (not cooked all the way through, sticks "to the tooth") or about 6 minutes for most brands.  Don't cook for longer since you want the noodle to soak up the flavors from the milk and cheese.  Drain macaroni quickly and immediately cool with cold water.  I use an ice water bath in another bowl and dunk the strainer of macaroni in there. This stops the cooking process to help the macaroni stay al dente for the milk and cheese.  Pour half the macaroni into a large casserole dish (I use a glass 13"x9" cake pan for this).  Add pieces of cheese to the point the macaroni is almost completely covered.  Add remaining macaroni and cheese, leaving enough room for casserole to bubble.  Pour salt on top.  Add some ground mustard to taste now if you choose to do so.  Almost cover with milk.  I warmed about 4 cups of milk and added until it looked good.  Put in microwave OR a 350 degree f oven to heat milk and cheese to a bubbly stage.  In the microwave, it takes about 12 minutes or so.  For the oven it takes about 30 minutes or so.  When "bubbly", stir to mix cheese.  Put in 350 degree f oven for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees f and cook for another 10-20 minutes or until brown around the edges.

Grape Jelly Meatballs, a Recipe that Lasts


My Great Aunt Joan is a wonderful cook.  I haven't seen her very much throughout my life, but every time I've seen her, she makes me feel special.  One time I got stuck in a snowstorm with my mother on a trip to Chicago.  We had planned to go shopping and check out the town.  The conditions were the worst we had seen in years.  Luckily part of the way there, we were able to stay with my Great Aunt Joan and Great Uncle Larry in a moment's notice.  It was incredibly nice of them.  We arrived to their place very late at night.  They greeted us with the best pork chops I've ever had in my life!  My mother and I stayed the night.  We never made it to Chicago but made it home the next day.  I come from a family of excellent cooks.  None of us have taken it upon ourselves to become professional chefs but the qualities are definitely there.

If you're doing a double take on the title grape jelly meatballs, don't be taken aback.  These are awesome appetizers to bring to parties.  Most people don't like the sound of them but they are probably the best kind of meatballs I've ever had.  The closest comparison for those who never had these, they are very similar to sweet and sour meatballs.  I plan to pass this recipe down to the next generation as it is a keeper.  Thanks Aunt Joan!

Aunt Joan's Grape Jelly Meatballs

Meatballs:

1 1/2 Lbs. Ground Beef
2 Eggs
1 tsp Garlic Salt
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together and form 1" balls.  Brown all sides, making sure they're cooked all the way through the middle.

Add to a mixed heated saucepan of:

10 oz Grape Jelly
12 oz Chili Sauce

Serve Hot and Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup, A Nice Way to Bring Us into Fall


One day last year, my husband came home from work all wide eyed and bushy tailed.  He said he had eaten several bowls of soup at work and asked me if I had ever had Butternut Squash soup before.  I hadn't.  He surprised me with a container of it that he brought home for me.  I could tell he didn't want to share it but thought maybe it would get me to make it.  This recipe comes from his boss who I must have to say is an excellent cook.  I tried the soup and it was delicious.

Later on, my husband pestered his boss enough to get this wonderful recipe.  It is a little spicy from the cayenne.  We also add more butternut squash (taking from 2 squashes) than what it says. In that case, I sometimes double the seasonings.  Butternut squash can be a pain to deal with so I suggest having a very sharp serated knife to cut through it all.  It's ok to cut any stem off too to help.  Also if you're unfamiliar with a leek, you just need to get rid of the dark green part and the hairy end.  Then you need to slice it down the middle lengthwise.  Be sure to wash out any sand and dirt from the layers as this is common.  It's ok to add more garlic if you like garlic like we do.  Soups aren't too picky.  Also if you have a soup blender, it's much easier to use that than to dump all the ingredients in another blender.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

3 Lbs Butternut Squash, halved and seeds scooped out
2 Tbs Butter
1 Medium Onion, sliced
1 Leek, washed and chopped
2 Cloves Garlic
2 Potatoes, quartered
2x 49.5 oz Cans Chicken Stock
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/8 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Ginger
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 Cup Sherry
1 Cup Half and Half
1/2 Cup Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees f.  Pour a thin layer of water in a baking dish.  Place squash halves cut side down and bake 40-50 minutes.  Cool slightly, remove peel and set aside.  Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add onion, leek and garlic and saute for a few minutes until tender.  Pour chicken broth into the pot.  Add potatoes and bring to a boil.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until soft.  Add the squash and mash with potatoes until chunks are small.  Puree in a blender and return to the pot.  Season the soup with cayenne, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, salt and pepper, then stir in the sherry and half and half.  Heat through, but do not boil.  Ladle into bowls and dollop with sour cream.

If you need to substitute the chicken stock with chicken broth, you can do so.  I would just add a spoonful of chicken soup base then.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream to Cool You Down!




This past weekend, my husband and I thought it would be good to bust out our ice cream maker attachment to our stand mixer.  It was hot outside and there were lots of garage sales to go to.  I was able to find some locally grown strawberries from one of the nice grocery stores nearby.  Strawberries like that are hard to come by!  They have so much flavor and are very sweet.  It's too bad that most of the strawberries you get today are mostly flavorless.  I'm not a big fan of strawberry ice cream, but I thought the local berries were just the right tartness.  I got the ideas of the recipe from two other recipes.  I got the strawberry cheesecake ice cream recipe from fakeginger.com on her blog and then the graham cracker crumbles part from Melissa Symington's blueberry cheesecake recipe on allrecipes.com (minus the cinnamon part.  Here's my mash-up on these two recipes:

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream


2 egg yolks2 cups heavy cream1/3 cups sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 cup strawberries (diced)2 ounces cream cheese (cut into small pieces)


Crust:

  • 1 1/8 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix graham crackers crumbs, tablespoon of sugar and butter in a medium size bowl.  Spread over cookie sheet and bake at 350 f degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool and set aside.


Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat cream and sugar until sugar dissolves and cream is almost boiling. Pour a small amount of the mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour eggs into the cream while you continue to whisk the entire thing. Cook at low heat until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Chill in refrigerator.

Once chilled, freeze in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. About 10-15 minutes in, add strawberries and cream cheese and graham cracker crumbles. Store in airtight container in the freezer.  Ice cream will harden.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fresh Fruit Pizza



The weather is getting even warmer now and there are many parties going on.  Graduation is coming up for many and some don't know what to make.  Fruit Pizza is simple, sweet and just so gosh darn good!  People have asked me the recipe numerous times and they just die from how simple it is to make.  If you're like me and don't care for cake as much, then you're in for a real treat.  I took the Pillsbury recipe but just didn't add the orange marmalade.  It's fantastic without the marmalade.  I have tried several ways of making the cookie crust by using other brands, homemade recipes, etc.  I still think getting the refrigerated cookie dough from Pillsbury is the best. Here's what I do...


FRUIT PIZZA


1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Seasonal fruits of your choice prepared

Roll out cookie dough (yes it has to be the pillsbury kind, because I haven't had much luck with other kinds) into about a 12 inch circle. Bake at 350 degrees F for 16-20 minutes. Let cookie crust cool down. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well mixed and easily spreadable. Spread cream cheese mix on top of cookie crusts. Add on your favorite fruit toppings. In this case I used kiwis, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and diced fresh peaches (mango works well too). You want to use what fruit is best in season and go by the more flavorful and tart fruits. Some people put on about 1/2 cup of apple jelly or orange marmalade. I like to let the fruit speak for itself so I leave that out.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cheesy Bacon Potato Soup to Die For!



I know, I know what you're thinking.  Spring is here and you want some lighter foods to chow down on.  We have a few favorites that we like to have year round.  One of my husband's favorite foods is potato soup.  I'm not much of a soup person but I felt it was time to make something for the love of my life that he really enjoys.  I like potato soup but this time I wanted to make it my own and possibly better.  I didn't follow a recipe and just threw it all together.  I have three words for you on this recipe: OH MY GOD!!!!  This recipe is incredible! I honestly have never had a better potato soup before.  I cooked this up in the crock pot and let it stew all day while I was gone at work.  It's ok if you go above the 8 hour mark on cooking everything.  You want to add all your dairy products in the end to avoid separation.  You want the cheese to melt in nicely rather than chunk up in there.  I suggest getting a mild to medium sharp cheese.  The sharp cheeses tend to turn into large wads.  However, if you're like me and got the shredded cheese from Aldi's, the sharp cheese just melts fine.  I think Aldi's cheeses tend to be quite mild.


CHEESY BACON POTATO SOUP


4 c. potatoes, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
49.5 oz chicken broth (found in large cans)
1 tsp. chicken soup base
1 package of bacon, chopped
1/4 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. milk
2 c. cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)


Combine potatoes, onions, green onions, celery, garlic, chicken broth and soup base in a large crock pot.  Mix well and set on low.  Cook for 8 hours.  Fry up bacon to a hard crisp all the way through.  You want to overcook the bacon as it tastes a lot better in soup and doesn't turn rubbery.  Keep crock pot on low heat and add the rest of your ingredients.  Only heat up until the temperature you like your soup at and serve hot.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chicken Roulade, Let's Keep on Rolling!



I am a sucker for cream cheese.  If you're trying to find a simple elegant way of making dinner, this recipe is sure to impress!  It looks a lot fancier than your normal chicken dinner.  I used turkey bacon for this since I really like the flavor and it's healthier for you.  I'm sure it's good with regular bacon too.




CHICKEN ROULADE


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons dried chives
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, butterflied
4 slices turkey bacon
2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, chives, and garlic. Divide the mixture into 4 balls.
Place 1 cream cheese ball in the center of each butterflied chicken breast half. Fold the chicken over the cream cheese, wrap with a slice of turkey bacon, and secure with toothpicks. Arrange the chicken in a baking dish. Pour the butter over the chicken.
Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bacon is crisp and the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.


Recipe taken from (but added more garlic to) Eireann on allrecipes.com

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Banana Bread that Beats the Rest!



Everyone claims that they have the best banana bread recipe.  Many of the ones I try of other people end up incredibly bland, too dry, not sweet enough, too moist, tastes stale when it is fresh, etc.  It thoroughly upsets me when people claim to have the best recipe for banana bread when they have made it for me and it tastes awful.  Some people do make some ok recipes, some make good banana bread.  I have a recipe that comes from my grandma.  I'm sure she probably got it from her mother.  Her recipe was awesome.  But it wasn't until I added in vanilla to make this recipe stellar.  Vanilla makes almost anything baked taste better, right?  Beware, this recipe makes your house smell absolutely phenomenal!  Here's what I do.


BANANA BREAD

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 bananas (2 large is fine if in a pinch)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, then add bananas and vanilla. Mix in baking soda and salt to evenly distribute. Lastly, add flour and mix. Pour batter in greased bread pan and let stand 20 minutes. You can cover with a towel if needed. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. BAKING TIMES VARY FROM OVEN TO OVEN, CHECK AT 50 MINUTE MARK!
 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cinnamon Beignets with Chocolate Sauce, a Sweet Treat!



Another recipe I made for Mardi Gras were Beignets.  I didn't have the right ingredients for the famed King Cake but I did have what I needed for Beignets.  I had never made these before.  They say beignets are much like a French Doughnut.  I'll admit they were a little work and the original recipe needed some help. The dough was way too dry so I added water as needed. I added some spices to the powdered sugar mix and then I really felt like these needed help from a sauce of some type.  Chocolate is good on almost anything sweet.  These are really sweet tasting so if it's too much, then I would add sea salt on top.  I made up my own chocolate sauce too since the recipes all called for cocoa powder.  Guess what, I don't have cocoa powder either! It's good that I have a nice chocolate bar stash for these times.


Beignets

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon yeast
  • 1/8 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting
  • 1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Cloves

  • Pour 1/4 cup room temperature water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand for about 5 minutes to dissolve.

  • Combine the shortening, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over the shortening mixture and then stir in the evaporated milk. Wait for the mixture to cool down until it is lukewarm. Then, add the yeast and water mixture and beaten eggs.

  • Slowly mix in the flour until the dough forms a ball. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Working with a small portion (a little larger than a baseball) at a time, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut the rolled out dough into strips 2 to 3-inches wide, then cut again in the opposite direction and at an angle, making diamond shapes.

  • Heat your oil for frying in a deep and wide, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat to 360 degree F (180 degrees C).

  • Slide dough slowly into the oil to avoid splattering and deep fry until they puff up and are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully remove onto a rack with paper towels underneath and allow to cool until you can handle them. Place in a clean paper bag with confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and shake gently until covered generously or, use a sifter to dust the beignets with powdered sugar.


Quick and Easy Chocolate Sauce

3 Tbsp. Nutella Spread
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Milk
2 squares of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate (from large bar)
1 tsp. Butter

On low medium heat, mix and melt all ingredients into small saucepan.  Add more milk if needed for thinner consistency.  Drizzle over Beignets or anything you can think of.  Would be good on cakes and ice creams.


Original Beignets recipe from PREGOCOOK on www.allrecipes.com
Chocolate Sauce recipe made by me!

Shrimp Po' Boys



For Fat Tuesday this year, I had decided to make shrimp po' boys.  I don't normally celebrate Mardi Gras but I thought it would be a great reason to bring in more different recipes into the house.  I was missing a lot of ingredients this time but I improvised quite a bit.  I had to because I can never turn down shrimp!  To be honest, I couldn't tell you all the things I have done differently but the sandwiches were good.  I know I made more of a beer batter and added some hot sauce to the mix and much of the same ingredients listed here.  I did it that way since we didn't have any panko bread crumbs.  I was missing some lettuce and tomatoes so that's why you don't see them here.  The recipe I found for these is highly rated.  For what I didn't have, it was pretty good and I think it would be even better following the original recipe.  I got my bread from a local sub shop and I toasted the insides using olive oil.


SHRIMP PO' BOYS

  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 4 French rolls, split and hinged
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups Kikkoman Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  •  
  • Remoulade sauce:
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Kikkoman Ponzu Lime

  • Combine butter and garlic, spread on rolls and toast in the oven until brown. Heat oil in a 2 quart saucepan until 360 degrees. Mix creole seasoning and flour. Dredge shrimp in flour then egg; roll in panko. Fry shrimp in batches until golden brown. Spread remoulade sauce on all 4 rolls. Top with shrimp, followed by shredded lettuce.

  • Remoulade sauce: Mix mayo, horseradish, pickle relish, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, and ponzu in a bowl.

Shrimp Po' Boys Recipe from Kikkoman on www.allrecipes.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

Caramel Corn for Everyone!



Most people think of negative things when they think back to when they were in junior high.  Emotions were high back then and we still had a lot of growing to do.  I had a lot of fun when I was in junior high.  I made new friends and had some time to play before I had to start work to help out the family.  Summers were the best because we all could ride our bikes around town to see all the different places.  We also enjoyed going to each other's homes and play flashlight tag.  I sure miss those days!  One class I had in junior high was a home economics class.  We learned to cook and sew, among other things.  I already knew how to cook some of the things we learned.  I felt that there wasn't much to take from the class as I known how to do my own laundry since I was 6.  I was so wrong about that.  All of us students had gotten a cookbook out of the class that had some easy recipes in it.  One of those recipes was for caramel corn that you could make in the microwave.  Just about every time I've made this caramel corn recipe for someone, they either ask me to make them a lot for the next time or they ask for the recipe.  This is an old go to recipe that I will forever keep in my own personal cook book!


CARAMEL CORN

2/3 cup popcorn
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Pop popcorn in an air popper. Pick out old maids (optional, but desired) and put in a large microwave-safe clean paper bag. That means no staples in it. You can acquire these at any grocery store.

Combine in a quart size glass bowl the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Microwave 1 1/2 min. Stir. Microwave 1 1/2 min. again. Stir. Add baking soda and vanilla. Pour mix over popcorn. Close bag and shake. Microwave 1 1/2 min. Shake. Microwave 1 1/2 min. Shake. Spread out on tray to cool. This would be another good way to find those old maids to pick out. Store in air tight container if it can even last that long!

I've tried this recipe with both light and dark brown sugars. Both are very good. If you have an old microwave like we do, you can adjust cooking times to be longer. If you don't, then it can be a little too chewy. It still tastes pretty good then.

This recipe came about from my junior high home economics class.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese Sauce For That Someone Special



Ok I'm sorry the picture didn't turn out as well.  My husband and I were in a hurry to eat such an excellent dinner I made for Valentine's Day this year.  I think I cut the tenderloin a little early so some of the juices ran on the plate.  It was still pretty juicy and cooked perfectly.  That red stuff isn't really blood like most people think.  I cooked this tenderloin to medium rare.  That's the only way to have steak!  In another post on here I mentioned I hate blue cheese.  I still do for the most part.  There are some ways I will eat blue cheese and enjoy it.  The most common way is if there is steak involved.  I'm super picky with how blue cheese tastes.  Well, I'm super picky with most flavors anyway.  That's what I get when I'm a super taster.  I can taste and smell things others can't.  I can tell if the milk will turn sour the next day.  I think this blue cheese sauce is one of the most phenomenal sauces ever!!!  It's even great if you stick it on potatoes or bread.  I had a croissant that I didn't really like (sorry mom!) and I put this sauce on it.  I think that croissant needed more butter in the batter or something.  When I put the blue cheese sauce on it, the croissant tasted so good!  I got these recipes from my mother in law.  She made this for Christmas for 2 years in a row now.  For those of you who don't know, Filet Mignon is another name for Tenderloin.  I have found a lot of people don't know that.  You learn something new everyday!




Fillet of Beef


  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) fillet of beef, trimmed and tied
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Place the beef on a sheet pan and pat the outside dry with a paper towel. Spread the butter on with your hands. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for exactly 22 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium-rare.
Remove the beef from the oven, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Remove the strings and slice the fillet thickly.
Note: Be sure your oven is very clean or the high temperature will cause it to smoke.

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) on Food Network http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/fillet-of-beef-recipe/index.html


Gorgonzola Sauce
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola (not creamy or "dolce")
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Directions

Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then continue to boil rapidly for 45 to 50 minutes, until thickened like a white sauce, stirring occasionally.
Off the heat, add the Gorgonzola, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk rapidly until the cheeses melt and serve warm. If you must reheat, warm the sauce over low heat until melted, then whisk vigorously until the sauce comes together.

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) on Food Network 

Blue Cheese and Honey Topped Crackers


I'm not a big fan of blue cheese.  I think blue cheese can be too funky for my tastebuds.  However, I used to be strictly against blue cheese.  That was until I had some at a Steak House restaurant.  I still don't like most blue cheese's, but now I have opened a taste for some of it.  For today, I have found a great way to eat some blue cheese.  My husband and I went to a grocery store where they had us try blue cheese samples on crackers.  I noticed mine had honey on top.  I found that the honey was a great way to cut that funk you get from blue cheese.  I had gotten this blue cheese for another recipe but didn't get it all used up.  I thought it would be a good idea to find another way to eat this blue cheese.  This recipe is so simple, you don't really have to transform any ingredients.  Some of the best recipes don't use a whole lot of ingredients and don't need to be messed around with a lot.  This recipe is just a good idea for a snack, especially if you find yourself not knowing what kind of snack to make in a pinch for guests.  I wasn't going to mention this one but I was so excited to find a way to get me to eat blue cheese other than with steak.  Enjoy!


BLUE CHEESE HONEY TOPPED CRACKERS


Ritz Crackers
Blue Cheese
Honey


This recipe is so easy that anybody can do it.  You put your desired amount of cheese on the cracker and then add a dab of honey to each.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Brie En Croute to Entertain



Paula Deen is one of my most favorite chefs on the Food Network Channel.  She's very funny and every recipe I've made of hers is top notch.  My husband and I had found this recipe in her cookbook one night and decided to give it a try.  Brie is a very nice cheese. It melts in the perfect way.  We like to get rid of the white rind as we don't like it's bitter taste.  It makes a big difference.  We changed her recipe a little bit because we like this with a lot of nuts.  I added very thin slices of granny smith apples to this during our last Christmas.  They turned out phenomenal.  These are a special thing we make but you could pretty much make this for any time.  They don't take that long.




BRIE EN CROUTE


1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted and unfolded
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 small wheel of brie cheese (8 oz)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
crackers (ritz or whatever you like)
1 thinly slice granny smith apple


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add in walnuts and saute about 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Stir in cinnamon and coat nuts well.  Cut skin off of brie (optional but I recommend it due to the bitter taste of it). Place brie in middle of puff pastry on a greased cookie sheet.  Pour nut mix on top of brie.  Add the brown sugar on top of nut mix.  Close up the pastry and tie with kitchen twine.  Brush with beaten egg.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Slice pieces of brie en croute and serve on crackers and top with apples.


The original recipe is from Paula Deen's "Kitchen Classics" cookbook.  I modified it because I felt it needed more of the nut mix.  If you want to follow what she did, do half the butter, nuts, cinnamon and brown sugar.  She also didn't tell me to use an apple.  That is optional.  She didn't say remove the skin but I feel it is necessary.  It's ok if you don't get every last speck of it off, but rather get most of it off.  I just used my handy chef's knife to do this.  If you can't find brie, I know that gruyere cheese would be good for this as well.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nacho Cheese Dip



What kind of cheese is not yours?  Nacho Cheese!  I came a discovery all by accident.  I was hungry for breakfast burritos one morning and I wanted to do them with a cheese sauce.  I was thinking like those sauces different places put on their breakfast burritos, sandwiches and even breakfast pizza.  Much to my dismay, I couldn't find the recipe I was looking for.  I then searched cheese sauce and came across Chef John's video online.  It's a generic cheese sauce recipe that I happened to have changed a few things.  Kudos to John for teaching me the basics on this sauce!  I know I could have just tried doing something with Velveeta, but that wouldn't taste right.  Then I thought maybe using a canned cheese soup but I don't have any at home.  I took the long way and got a very pleasant reward.


NACHO CHEESE DIP


1/4 C Butter
1/8 C Flour
1 C Cold Milk
Pinch of Nutmeg
1/4-1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt or to taste
6 oz. Cheddar Cheese


Make a roux by first cooking the Butter in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat.  Wait until Butter starts foaming, making sure not to brown it.  Add Flour and whisk.  Cook for 3-5 minutes for a blonde roux.  Keep whisking and add in half of the cold milk. Whisk until evenly distributed.  Add in the rest of the cold milk and whisk.  Add spices and reduce to simmer, heating for about 7 minutes or until desired thickness is achieved.  Take off heat and add cheese in 3 parts while whisking it in each time.  You may want to put pan back on heat just to make things hot again after everything is mixed well together.  Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!


Original recipe came from John at http://www.bethecook.com/recipes/Cheddar-Cheese-Sauce
I changed the cooking times, added salt, added cayenne and extra cheese while cutting the original recipe by half.


If anyone knows how to make that breakfast sauce, please let me know.  The closest thing to what I'm talking about is the stuff that McDonald's will use on their bacon egg and cheese bagels and their breakfast burritos.