Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mini Roast Beef Sandwiches with Green Chile Mayo

About 8 years ago, I went to a bunko party for the first time at a friend's home just down the street. We'd just bought our first house, and I jumped at the chance to meet some other moms in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I didn't join the bunko league after that night because the conversation around the tables were all subjects I didn't care to participate in (and that's all I'm going to say about that).

We'd all brought finger food to share, and the hostess made these awesome little sandwiches. I told her I had to have the recipe. She said they were really easy...and told me on the spot how to make them. I didn't even write it all down until much later. Every time I make these and take 'em to a party, they are scarfed down.

If you want, you can use real mayo in these sandwiches instead of Miracle Whip. Don't hold it against me if you're not a Miracle Whip family like we are. We are not fans of real mayo, sorry! I won't hold it against you either :-) I also don't see why you couldn't use turkey or ham if roast beef isn't your beef. (Okay, that was bad, wasn't it?)

Roll up your sleeves, and let's get to work!

Mini Roast Beef Sandwiches with Green Chili Mayo

2 cans (8 count each) refrigerated biscuits
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 pound deli style roast beef
2 cups shredded monterrey jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (or whatever your can of biscuits says). Combine the seasoned bread crumbs and dried parsley in a shallow bowl.

Take the biscuits out of the cans, and arrange on a large baking sheet. Use a pastry brush and coat the top of each biscuit with the melted butter, and then dip into the breadcrumbs.

Place back down on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining biscuits.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until the tops are a nice golden brown.

Set aside until they are cool enough to handle, and then split each biscuit in half. Leave the oven on...you'll see why in a minute :-)

In a small bowl, combine the chopped green chilies and Miracle Whip/mayo.

Now, let's set up our work station. Lay out the roast beef, cheese, biscuits, and green chile mayo. We're going do this assembly line style.

Place the bottom half of a biscuit on your work surface. Top with one slice of roast beef. I usually tear it into pieces so it fits nicely on the biscuit. Spoon on two teaspoons of the mayo, and then some monterrey jack cheese.

I know you may want to put more of the mayo on, but don't. We're going to put these back in the oven, and if you put too much mayo on, it leaks out of the sandwich and makes a bit of a mess.

Repeat with the remaining biscuits, roast beef, green chile mayo, and cheese. Put these little guys back in the oven (still at 375 degrees) for about 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is all melted and gooey.

Cap the sandwiches with the biscuit tops, add a toothpick to secure, and serve.

These should disappear in a snap. They're perfect for a Super Bowl Party, school luncheon, block party, or poker night for your hubbys. Enjoy!

God Bless your table tonight!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cheesy Green Chili Cornbread

This recipe is really a combination of a couple of cornbread recipes. I love cornbread, especially with a little honey and butter. I like this particular cornbread as a side dish with Uncle Dave's Chili. The cheese and green chilies make it a little bit different, and special.
The secret to great cornbread is to make it in a cast iron skillet. It it superb at conducting the oven's heat evenly, and a bit of butter and shortening ensure a crisp, golden brown crumb (a secret I learned from my dear Aunt Mary who is a fabulous Southern cook). It is also fabulous for whacking your hubby on the head (okay, just kidding...don't do that, it would really hurt!)

If you feel so inspired and run out and buy a cast iron skillet to make this cornbread, kuddos to you! Just be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions for seasoning your new skillet, or your first batch of cornbread will stick like glue. We sure don't want that to happen, do we?
This ain't your mama's cornbread folks...so get your apron on and let's get baking.

Cheesy Green Chili Cornbread

2 boxes (8 1/2 ounces each) Jiffy Cornbread mix
1 small can (8 ounces) cream style corn
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
2/3 cup sour cream (regular or light is best)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and put your cast iron skillet in the oven to heat up. Along with greasing the skillet, preheating it will help your cornbread attain a nice golden crust. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, a 8x8 or 8x9 baking pan will be fine. Just grease it first with some butter or non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the 2 boxes of cornbread mix, the cream style corn, green chilies, and sour cream.
Then add the egg, milk, and cheese. I didn't put the cheese until after this pic, and then forgot to take another one. Sorry, I was in a hurry.
Now, remove your skillet from the oven, and be sure to use a couple of oven mitts, these babies are heavy. Drop in the butter and shortening, allowing it to melt in the hot skillet, and swirl it around to coat the bottom evenly. The shortening keeps the cornbread from sticking, and the butter adds flavor.
Then pour in the cornbread batter, and smooth the top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, and the top is a deep golden brown.

Cut into wedges and serve warm. David said this was the best batch yet :-)
God bless your table tonight!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Uncle Dave's Chili

I never had chili growing up...it wasn't something my mother ever made. By the time I got to college, I'd had it a handful of times, and I was in love with it. A thick stew-like dish garnished with jalapenos, cheese, and sour cream...right up my alley. I went on a retreat my sophomore year, and we would spend the nights at one of my friend's houses. His mom worked full time, but she would make dinner and leave it in the kitchen for us before going to bed. What a saintly woman she was! She made chili for us, and it was the best I'd ever had. I made it my mission right then and there to find a good chili recipe.

This recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 people, we can usually have 3 meals off one batch. You can cut it in half if you want a smaller batch. I don't like a lot of beans in my chili, so you can use 4 cans of beans if you want to--I only use 2. I can't make chili with a lot of heat (because of the kids) so if you want, add some hot sauce or whatever will give your chili some kick.

After I got married, I found out one of David's uncles is a pretty darn good cook. Uncle Dave (yes...seriously!) had a mean chili recipe that my MIL would make from time to time. I got the recipe from her, and stuck to it faithfully for years. Only in the last 2 years have I tweaked it to my liking. You know me...I'm a tweaker, and a firm believer that a little red wine in a dish never hurt anybody.

So here it is, Uncle Dave's Chili with my little twist :-).

Uncle Dave's Chili

2 pounds ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
4 cans (10 3/4 ounces) tomato soup (I use Campbell's "Healthy Request")
2 cans (16 ounces) light red kidney beans
4 tablespoons chili powder
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 cup red wine (to your taste)
Cheddar cheese, sour cream and jalapenos for garnish (if desired)

Open up your cans of beans, rinse well under cold running water, and drain. Set aside.

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, brown the beef and onions together until the meat is no longer pink, drain off fat.

I think the easiest way to do this is to drain the meat in a large, fine mesh colander. Here's mine in action. I drain it in the sink first, and then set the colander over a large bowl for about 10 minutes. You'll see a decent amount of fat in the bowl afterwards.

I decided to use my crock pot to simmer the chili this time. Pour the beans and tomato soup into the pot...

Add the meat mixture...

And give everything a good stir.

In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, flour, salt, cumin, garlic powder, and water. Add that to the pot (or crock pot) and stir again. I forgot to take a picture after this step, but it doesn't look any different than the picture above. It will look fairly thick, but resist the temptation to add more water...as it simmers, it loosen up and become more soup-like.

Now, taste your chili. Do you want more heat, more cumin, more salt? Season to your liking...I'm no expert here. Add the red wine (and sneak a sip out of the bottle), give everything one last stir, put a lid on, and let the chili simmer for 45 minutes. Because I put mine in the crock pot, mine simmered for about 3 hours (I didn't start it until about 3:00PM)

Serve hot, and garnish with cheddar cheese, sour cream and some sliced jalapenos, if desired. I made some Cheesy Green Chile Cornbread to go with our chili, and yes...I'll post that recipe next!

God bless your table tonight!

Thanksgiving Recipes?

Alright, I have a confession to make. I will not be posting any Thanksgiving recipes. I've made pecan and pumpkin pies, homemade rolls, from-scratch mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc. The only thing I've never cooked before is a turkey. And the reason why I'm not posting any of these recipes...?

Well, every year, we go out of town for Thanksgiving. Yes, every year. My husband's family and my family live just minutes away from each other in Dallas. So we go there every year. I don't know when we'll stop doing this, probably until my sister-in-law is tired of cooking for such a big crowd and getting up at the crack of dawn to roast a 20+ pound turkey. (She actually doesn't get up early, but she is a real gem for having turkey day at her house year after year). Or maybe when our kids are grown, married, and bringing their own families to our house.

At some point, I will post some holiday related recipes. But nothing huge...just some of our favorite things to nosh on. Our kids love pigs in a blanket, and I always make sugar cookies. Last year, we started a new tradition of watching The Polar Express and having hot cocoa on Christmas Eve. We stay put for Christmas, but I don't make a big ham or turkey, since the kids don't eat that much, and David and I might get stuck with leftovers for days.

I plan to post some great recipes for appetizers and desserts, and just a few main dishes or sides. So bear with me...there are great things to come!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Homemade Hummus

Huma-what? I know you're asking...what is hummus? Hummus is a Middle Eastern chickpea dip. It is made by blending hummus, tahini, olive oil, and a couple of other ingredients together. I had never heard of hummus or tasted it until 11 years ago when we were having a birthday party for David and a friend brought some. It is traditionally served with pita bread, but I've seen it served alongside chips, veggies, crackers, or used as a spread in sandwiches and wraps.

I came home today after getting Christina from preschool and starting digging around in the pantry for lunch, because I was starving. I saw the 2 cans of chickpeas I'd bought before the Hurricane Ike hit. I didn't make hummus liked I'd planned because we didn't have power for 15 days. Then I found some chips and celery too... hummus was sounding better and better!

This is a cinch to make, but you really need a food processor to make it properly. You can use a blender or immersion blender if you don't mind your hummus a bit chunky. I like my hummus perfectly smooth.

Canned chickpeas can be found in same aisle as all the other beans (kidney, black, pinto, etc), and tahini can be found on the ethnic aisle. Tahini is essentially ground sesame seeds. I don't know why the container says, "Biladi." If your container says just "Tahini," you should be fine.

You will need to stir it very, very well before using as it settles (like a can of paint).

Homemade Hummus

2 cans (15.5 ounces each) chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (bottled lemon juice is fine)
1/4 cup tahini (stirred very well)
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
kosher salt to taste
olive oil for serving (optional)
paprika for serving (optional)

Open your cans of chickpeas, and drain 1/4 cup of the liquid into a measuring cup. I know, I overdid it a little here. Sorry...happens. Set aside the liquid.

Now dump the chickpeas into a colander placed in the sink, drain off the rest of the canning liquid, and rinse them under cold running water. Shake off any excess water.

Put the chickpeas in the food processor and process them for about a minute.

Honestly, you can put everything in except for the olive oil and paprika and just let it go, but my food processor will leak if I put straight liquid in it. So I process my chickpeas first to reduce the leaking issue.
Then add the lemon juice and garlic, and process that for a minute.

The last things to go in are the tahini, salt, and cayenne pepper. If you like hummus with a kick, feel free to add more cayenne.

Process the hummus until nice and smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings. I added a bit more salt and lemon juice to this particular batch. And yes, that little path in the hummus was me sampling. I promise my finger was clean... :-)
Whatever you do, don't add more garlic unless you really want to. I've found the garlic taste becomes very pronounced after a day or two in the fridge. I'd rather have an aftertaste of tahini and lemon juice instead of a real garlicky flavor. The hummus should be nice and thick, but spreadable, with a consistency similar to refried beans (sorry, only think I could think of!).
Serve with pita bread, chips, celery, or anything else you desire.
I ate my hummus today with some celery sticks and these awesome rice chips.

Don't run away because they have seaweed in them...they taste mainly like rice. You can find them in the whole foods aisle of the grocery store. They make a sea salt variety too...you have to try them!
If you want to be very traditional, make a well in the hummus, pour in a little olive oil, and sprinkle with the paprika. Again, totally optional, but I did it so you could see the way is is usually served. The little blue ramekin would hold enough for 2 people, but I was so hungry by now, I ate it all myself. (Excuse me while I lick my fingers).

God Bless your table tonight!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

BBQ Shrimp

This is a fun dish to make 'cause it's got a little attitude to it. I know the title is BBQ Shrimp, but it's really more of a Cajun style shrimp you bake in the oven. The original recipe calls for 1/2 a stick of butter for every 6 shrimp, but you can get away with less. I've cut it back to 2 tablespoons, and it works just fine. Of course, 1/2 a stick would probably be even better...but don't tell on me.

I check the grocery ads and buy the really big shrimp (13/15 per pound) when they go on sale for about $7 a pound. It's still a splurge, but I promise it's worth it. Big, succulent shrimp baked with butter, hot sauce, garlic...need I go on? You won't be sorry, I promise!

Barbecued Shrimp

1 pound very large shrimp (13/15 count per pound)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon hot sauce (Tabasco, Franks, etc,)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed (see pics below)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
Pinch of dried rosemary (I had fresh growing in the back yard, so I used some)
Lemon wedges for serving

Peel and devein the shrimp. If you need help, here's a little tutorial:

As I peel the shrimp, I throw the shells into an empty plastic grocery bag, and when I'm finished, that bag goes immediately to the trash can outside. If you don't toss it outside, your house will start to smell like shrimp (and it's not the great smell of shrimp cooking okay?).

Now, arrange the shrimp in a small, shallow baking dish.

I'm going to show you another one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.

This garlic press crushes cloves of garlic into itty bitty pieces. I like using it because I can crush a few cloves quickly without having to use a knife. None of my kids ever complain about biting into a piece of garlic because the bits are so small. All you have to do is put a peeled clove of garlic into the little "pocket,"

and squeeze the handle until the garlic comes out of the other side.

In a small, microwave safe bowl, combine the butter, hot sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary (probably about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh if you're using it).

Nuke on high for about 45 second to 1 minute or until the butter has melted and the mixture has just started to boil. I know...I put the hot sauce in a shot glass...it has measurement lines on it...if you want to shoot some before refilling it for this dish, go right ahead. (I personally cannot down shot glasses of hot sauce, although I know people in college who did for fun).

Pour the tasty concoction over the shrimp, and turn them so they're all nice and coated.

Pop 'em into the oven, at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes, and then crank up the broiler and broil them for 2-3 minutes. Watch them carefully, you don't want to overcook these little babies! You can use slightly smaller shrimp; if you do, adjust your cooking times accordingly.

Squeeze some lemon over the top and serve immediately. I don't even put these out on another plate, I just serve them right in the baking dish. Now go grab some crusty bread and make sure you mop up all the juices left over in the pan after you've devoured the shrimp. Trust me, I know you will!

God bless your table tonight!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bacon and Cheese Chicken Bake

Bacon. I love bacon. Unfortunately, my hips do not. I have hips wide enough to cut someone in half if they walk too close to me. But I have four cute kids now, so the hips are here to stay. This means being moderate in my consumption of one of my favorite eats...bacon. I just love it. I have it in sandwiches, salads, wrapped around my Apricot Pork Tenderloin, in a breakfast sandwich. I could go on and on.

But let's get to it. This is an easy dinner to make and it should appeal to everyone in your family. It's essentially chicken baked with a honey mustard sauce, and topped with bacon and cheese. YUM!!! If your kids shriek at the sight of mushrooms, you can leave them out. I kept them in because I keep hoping my kids will like them some day.

Bacon and Cheese Chicken Bake

1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used five)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of paprika
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 strips of bacon, partially cooked
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced

Combine the mustard, honey, 1 tablespoon of oil, and the lemon juice in small bowl. Measure out 1/2 of the marinade into a large, resealable bag. Add the chicken and squish it around to coat it evenly. Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Reserve the rest of the marinade in the fridge for later.

When you're ready, drain the chicken and discard the marinade. You could save it and use it as part of the sauce, but you MUST cook it at a rolling boil for 5 minutes to kill any bacteria. Season both sides of the chicken with the salt, pepper, and paprika.
In a large skillet heated over medium heat, brown the chicken on both sides (about 4-5 minutes per side) in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Arrange in a greased 9x13 baking pan. At this point, I like to sprinkle the chicken with a little more paprika.

The easiest, quickest way to partially cook bacon is to nuke it in the microwave for a few minutes. I just lay the bacon out on a paper towel covered plate, cover it with another paper towel, and cook it on "high" for about 3 minutes (for 5-6 bacon strips).

In the same skillet, saute the mushrooms with the 2 tablespoons of butter until tender.
Spread the reserved marinade over the chicken, top with the mushrooms, and then the cheeses.

Arrange the bacon in a "cross" over the chicken.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is done. If you have a meat thermometer now (good for you!), it should read 170. Honestly, I just poke the chicken, if it feels firm, and not squishy, it's done.

Garnish with the parsley and green onions, or if your kids complain, just sprinkle it on your plate and the hubby's so he'll be impressed :-).

If you love bacon, be sure to make this for your crew. God Bless your table tonight!