Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Philly Cheese Burgers

It is quite clear that summer is right around the corner and who isn't happy about that?! I get so excited for summer, for many reasons but one is for the great food that goes along with it. The fresh produce from the market, the fresh herbs from my mini-garden, and all of the wonderful grilling. We like to grill burgers but since I have already posted my standard burger recipe (see the Juicy Lucy) I am forced to try different variations. This is good for you the reader, and good for us the eaters. This recipe is inspired by the Philly Cheese steak. Take your basic burger and add caramelized onions and sauted peppers. Serve with a glass of lemonade and welcome summer!

Philly Cheese Burgers
1/4 lb hamburger patties (any way you like them)
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red or orange bell pepper
1 small yellow onion
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp. chicago steak seasoning
1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
slices of provolone cheese

Start pepper and onion topping a bit before grilling your burgers.
Slice and saute peppers and onions and add them to a large skillet with olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add seasonings and balsamic vinegar. Cook until peppers are tender but not soggy. Place peppers on top of a grilled burgers and add a slice of provolone cheese. Top with a toasted bun to melt cheese.
Inspired by Bobby Flay
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

Against my better judgment, I admit that I have purchased pancake mix in a box. The box can be so inviting..."Just add water"...or "Shake and pour for fabulous pancakes in minutes". They are right, you can mix up batter in minutes and have hot pancakes in a hurry. Luckily, most of us cover our pancakes in maple syrup so we do not even notice what these quick pancakes are missing. Next time you are making a special breakfast, my suggestions is that you forego your usual pancake recipe and try a batch of these homemade buttermilk pancakes. This recipe is just how you expect a pancake should taste. Soft and fluffy centers with a lightly crisped rim around the edge. What more is there to say? These pancakes are simply the best. (Sorry maple syrup, you are no longer needed at our table.)

Buttermilk Pancakes
From Martha Stewart
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. sugar
2 lg eggs
3 c. buttermilk
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
orange zest
butter or bacon grease (preferred) for greasing your griddle

Combine all dry ingredient in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat eggs and add buttermilk, melted butter and the zest of 1/2 an orange. Get your griddle hot (if you have an electric griddle set temp to 375 F). You do not want this batter to sit combined for too long, so right before you are ready to pour out your pancakes, combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until just combined - batter will be lumpy. Using a ladle, pour out pancakes on greased skillet. Do not flip until pancakes form bubbles. (I only flip my pancakes one time to keep them fluffy.)
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Creamy Penne & Mushrooms

We love trying new pasta dishes.  After making this creamy penne meal we decided it would have to be one of the Vossen house favorites from now on. It is such a basic recipe that I can see myself making adjustments here and there in the future to accommodate whatever foods I have on hand. This recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes but I made my own version which I like even better. I take a can of diced tomatoes and drain them; spread them out on a baking sheet; lightly drizzle them with olive oil and then bake them at 375 F for 30 minutes. These tomatoes are lighter than sun-dried and are like a little burst of candy in this dish.
Creamy Penne & Mushrooms
Recipe slightly changed from "Perfect Italian"
4 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbs. flour
1 c. heavy cream or half & half
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & chopped*
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
12 oz. penne
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
Start a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil for your pasta. Meanwhile, in a separate large sauce pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender. Add mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle flour over mushrooms. Stir for a minute more. Turn heat to low and add cream and nutmeg stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Add cooked pasta to the mushrooms sauce and mix with cheese and parsley - serve immediately.
*I used 14.5 oz diced canned tomatoes, drained, and placed on a baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love chicken tortilla soup!  This is a quick and easy soup that is just a little bit spicy but cooled off with wonderful toppings. I cut flour tortillas into strips and add them right before serving. They thicken the soup and turn into a soft noodle. To add contrast to the soft tortillas I top the soup with crunchy tortilla chips. I was especially excited to make this tonight because bought queso fresco for the first time. (I will be buying it again.) This mexican crumble cheese was smooth creamy. It was perfect for this soup and I am excited to try it on refried beans.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 c. shredded chicken (cooked)
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
2 large flour tortillas, cut in small strips
tortilla chips
sour cream
green onions
queso fresco or monterey jack cheese
Drizzle a little olive oil in a small soup pan. Add diced onion and garlic and season with salt & pepper. Stir over medium heat until translucent. Add crushed red pepper, tomatoes, chicken broth and chicken. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Immediately before serving, add tortilla strips and ladle soup into bowls. Top with crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, green onions and cheese.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I was picking up a coffee and pastry treat the other day and it hit me - I have completely forgotten about making coffee cake! When I was younger, we made coffee cake all of the time. My family took turns with others in our church to provide the "coffee and bars" (try saying that without a Minnesotan accent!) for after-church socializing. My mom would always try to come up with different coffee cake recipes to keep things interesting. My favorite was a sour cream coffee cake. While my mom made every coffee cake from scratch I am using Bisquick because it makes baking so quick and easy when time is of the essence. The sour cream makes this cake moist and the streusel topping gives it the crumble that you look for in a good coffee cake.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1 1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbs. butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla
Streusel (below)
Grease square 8x8 pan and set aside. Mix all ingredients except streusel in a medium bowl until batter is smooth. Spread half of the mixture in your prepared pan and sprinkle with 1/2 of the streusel mixture below. Spread the remaining half of the batter in the pan and top with remaining streusel. Bake  about 35 minutes at 350 F. Cool slightly before cutting.
5 Tbs. firm butter, sliced
1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
1/4. c. finely chopped pecans
4 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
pinch of ginger
pinch of cloves
Cut  butter with the remaining streusel ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Southern Fried Chicken

When I have a really good fried chicken dinner like we had tonight, I daydream that my grandmother is really Paula Deen and that every Sunday afternoon we enjoy her Southern comfort food. Luckily for our cholesterol levels, she is not. In reality, we do not actually eat this greasy of food every day, so when we splurge, we can really appreciate it. This recipe is Art Smith's and he knows how to make extra crispy chicken that is unbelievably moist. (Buttermilk is the key!) I love this chicken when it is hot out of the fry pan and when it is cold the next day.
Fried Chicken
3 1/2 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
vegetable oil for frying
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
In a large bowl, pour buttermilk over chicken and sprinkle with salt. Toss until chicken is well coated - cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat 1" of vegetable oil in a large deep skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 360 degrees. In a shallow dish, mix flour and seasonings. Using tongs, remove chicken from buttermilk and dip into flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and place in hot oil. Turn chicken occasionally until golden brown and cooked through. Chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 F. Drain chicken on paper towels.
Note: Smaller pieces of chicken work best for frying. When I made this, the larger chicken breasts and thighs needed additional baking at 375 (about 15 minutes) in the oven to get to the right temperature. This could have also been because my oil was a bit too hot.
Recipe from Art Smith, featured in April 2010 Food Network Magazine.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Good Meatloaf

Meatloaf became popular during the depression as an economical meal to feed your family and it has remained an American staple ever since. I know every family has their own spin on this comfort food and everyone probably thinks their mom makes it the best. My mom uses oatmeal or crushed saltines in her recipe but I like using bread crumbs. The beauty of making this meal is really almost anything works. You can be creative with what you use to flavor this dish. I used to bake this in a loaf pan but I have switched to forming it into a log shaped with my hands on a sheet pan since it is easier to cut and serve. This meat loaf is full of flavor and just plain good.
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 c. unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. Heinz 57 sauce
1 egg
1/4 c. ketchup (for topping)
Combine all ingredients (except ketchup) in a large bowl. Using your hands form mixture into a loaf and place on a baking sheet (or fill a loaf pan if you choose).Top with ketchup and bake at 375 F for 45-55 minutes.
Printable Recipe

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chocolate Fondue

This is less of a recipe and more of a great dessert idea for the next time you entertain. I love how simple melted chocolate and fruit can be for a wonderful dessert. If you have a fondue pot, you can take the dessert experience to a new level. I find that guests like to get involved and have fun with their food, and fondue is the perfect way for them to do this. As a host, the only work you have to do is preparing your fruit which makes for easy entertaining. If you do not have a fondue pot you can still melt chocolate in a small sauce pan and then serve immediately. Do you fondue? We do!
Dark Chocolate Fondue
2 c. good quality chocolate
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
Set fondue pot to low setting (I have an electric pot) and add all ingredients. Stir occasionally until melted. Serve with...well anything goes! My suggestions below:
Pound Cake

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Nothing says comfort like a warm serving of this delicious chicken pot pie. You take the basic ingredients of chicken noodle soup, add cream and flakey puff pastry and you have a mini masterpiece. I was so excited to work with puff pastry because I never had before. Just remember to take the frozen dough out 45 minutes before you need it so it is easy to work with. We made our pot pies in individual ramekins (you just feel so special when you have a personal serving made just for you) but you could also make this family style in a large casserole pan.
Chicken Pot Pie
2 chicken breasts
3 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 c.)
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 c.)
2 stalks of celery, chopped (about 1/4 c.)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. flour
3-4 Tbs. butter
2-14 oz cans chicken broth
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. rosemary
egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tbs. water)
17 oz box frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

Peel and chop all vegetables so they are all approximately the same size and set aside. Cube chicken breasts and cook in saute pan over medium heat with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Spoon cooked chicken into a bowl and add chopped vegetables into the pan. Add chicken broth to the vegetables and simmer for 15 minutes. In a small saute pan melt butter over medium heat. Add flour to the butter and cook for a minute or two stirring constantly. Add cream to the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Add flour/cream mixture to chicken broth and vegetables to thicken. Add cooked chicken, parsley and rosemary. Spoon finished mixture into baking dish so that it fills the dish leaving about a 1/4" of space from the top. Brush egg wash mixture of the top edge of the baking dish and then place the pastry sheet over
the top, pinching the sides closed. Make a small slit on the top of the pastry dough with a knife and bake at 375 F for 45 minutes.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Simple Grilled Cheese

I am sure you are questioning me right now. Grilled cheese Elizabeth? You are blogging about grilled cheese?  I know there is hardly anything interesting about grilled cheese. But the fact is, we all make these wonderfully simple sandwiches every now again. My husband would (sadly) eat these every week if he could. I do a few small touches to my grilled cheese to make it stand out above the rest. I start with sourdough bread - good quality sourdough. Then I use a mixture of cheeses - havarti which melts in your mouth, Swiss for a stringy quality and American for the taste we all love. Lastly I give the bread a kiss of garlic by lightly rubbing a clove over the bread for a unique grilled cheese experience.
Grilled Cheese
sourdough slices
havarti, sliced
Swiss cheese sliced
American cheese, sliced
fresh cracked pepper
garlic clove cut in half
Take each slice of bread and lightly rub the cut side of a garlic clove over one side. Next butter the garlic side and lightly sprinkle with black pepper. Set griddle pan to medium-low heat and place a slice of bread, buttered side down. Next layer the three different cheeses in amounts to your liking. Add the next slice of bread on top of the cheese (buttered side up). Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Grilled Chicken Salads

We broke a record yesterday with a high of 64 degrees, proving that spring has sprung in more ways then on our clocks. After a walk around our neighborhood, it was official...springs arrival was confirmed with the smell of charcoal and barbequing which was as thick as the fog we experienced last week. We put some chicken breasts in a bag to marinade, chopped up our favorite salad toppings and fired-up the grill for a light and delicious grilled chicken salad. We grilled extra chicken so that we could have a grilled chicken sandwich for the next day's lunch...yum-o!
Grilled Chicken Salad
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c. lemon juice
lemon zest
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Place all ingredients in a large ziploc bag and close. Toss bag around until chicken is well coated and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Grill chicken until internal temperature reaches 165 F on a meat thermometer.
Let rest for 5 minutes and then slice and serve on your favorite salad.
The salad we made tonight:
leafy green lettuce
craisins (my favorite salad topping)

green onions
feta cheese

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

Oh how I have missed blogging! The first couple of days I did not blog I felt a bit of relief since I gained more time in my evenings to get things accomplished. But there is something about staying in a routine that is so comforting to me. I wake - I think of food - I work - I think of food - I cook - We feast - I blog (Repeat).  This routine is pretty simple but it feels good to get back in the swing of things. This beef stroganoff was by far Ryan's favorite meal that I have made in a very long time. I have to agree with him. The earthy flavors of onions, mushrooms and beef are given the chance to truly develop after slow-cooking together and then at the end they are touched with a bit of sour cream for a surprise tang.

Beef Stroganoff
1 lb. stew meat

8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs. shallots, sliced
15 oz. can beef broth
1/2 tsp. steak seasoning
4 Tbs. flour
3/4 c. sour cream
egg noodles
Parmesean cheese (optional)
In a heavy casserole pan add stew meat, mushrooms, shallots, seasoning and broth. Bake covered at 350 for 90 minutes stirring occasionally. After cooking for 90 minutes, add flour and stir well. Place back in the oven and bake an additional 15 minutes. Next add sour cream and cook an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve over cooked pasta. Top with shredded parmesean.
Tip: This recipe could also be prepared in a crock pot.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To my faithful readers, I apologize for my lack of blogging. I am busy stirring up an exciting new food business. I am taking a two week break from posting so that I can get everything in order. Stay tuned for more exciting news to follow!!