Monthly Archives: December 2010

Why Thursday’s the Best Day!

Let me preface this post by saying the following; I am a girl.

(please disregard the fact that my father is wearing a robe in the background and you can see some of his thigh)

Yes, I cuss a lot, I’m not overly emotional, and I think more like a boy than I do like a girl….but I am indeed a girl.

See! I can hold flowers and wear pretty dresses and look DARN good doing it.
This is kind of an old picture, but I swear I’ve worn dresses recently. Recently = Christmas day.

I know what you’re thinking. “Jackie. I am aware you are a girl. Get to the point. This is stupid.”
Okay, fine! I like girly shows.
I don’t care that any man within ear shot of The Millionaire Matchmaker wants to run for the hills!
Anything that involves a “housewife” of some kind, I’m in! (except if said housewife is from Atlanta…who’s with me?)
Do I get to watch a woman get a make over? Or try on wedding dresses? Or get in a fight on national television with another woman? I’ll watch it weekly.
I don’t care if it rots my brain. I paid good money to educate that brain with a college degree and I will do with it what I want!
One day of the week will always be girls night. Girls night meaning, Sarah walks over from next door, we make yummy snacks, drink yummy wine, and kill about 967 brain cells watching an hour of a girly show. Currently the show is Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And let me just say one thing; Kelsey Grammar’s ex wife is a crazy person and I hate her with every fiber of my being.

Uggggghhhhhhh….

Anyway, I realized I had no recipes for appetizers so I figured I should post a recipe I made a few weeks ago.

Chevre Stuffed Figs

Ingredients:

About 10 figs
4 oz chevre (goats cheese)
1 package (about 10 slices) prosciutto

Take your figgys out of the fridge and take a picture of them.

Perfect.
Slice the stems off the tops of the figs. Then slice them in half vertically.

I love how surprisingly bright figs are on the inside. So pretty.

Take a little pinch (about 1/2 a tsp) of chevre and push it into the fig halves.

Rip the prosciutto slices into thirds. You only need enough to wrap around the fig once or twice.

Carefully wrap the thin prosciutto around the cheesified figs.

Place figs, cheese side up, on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until they are slightly browned and juicy looking.

Consume while watching a show that makes you dumber.

Tonight is the night that the ol’ boyfriend and I join forces and agree on a show we both love. Top Chef All Stars. I’ve always liked Top Chef, but I’m pretty sure this season is my favorite so far. I’m sure we’ll make something delicious and I’ll talk about it either tonight or tomorrow, so stay tuned!

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Dangerous Cheese Sauce

For Christmas, my brother and his new fiancee, Sarah (yay for the new title Sarah! :)) got me this.

I didn’t think it was anything special at first. Besides the fact that it was my favorite color and the thickest cookbook I own. But, once I opened this puppy up I realized it is a fantastic book! I literally just read this for about an hour on Christmas day. It has a cocktail section, meal plans for every season (including vegetarian and non-vegetarian meal plans), and it has Chinese food AND curries AND French recipes AND every kind of quiche you can think of.
So, tonight was the night I declared I would create my first meal out of this book!

I looked through the book carefully. I wanted to choose wisely. I also didn’t want to spend too much money at the grocery store since Christmas just ended and my brothers/dads/grandmas birthdays are next month. Obviously any type of seafood or steak was out of the question, and as of lately I’ve sort of O.D.ed on poultry.
I decided on this.

Hola delicious sounding recipe!
Let’s do this.

Ingredients:
9 corn tortillas
3 large poblano peppers
2 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 can (16 oz) diced tomatoes
2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Turn your oven on broil and put your oven rack all the way to the top
Cut the tops and bottoms off of your poblano peppers and seed them. Lay them flat, skin side up, on a cookie sheet. Broil your peppers until the skin is charred and black.
Throw them in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. This steams them so that the skin is a little easier to peel off.

When they’re cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. It should come off really easily.

Cut into 1/4 of an inch thick strips. Set aside.

Now set your oven to 400 degrees.
Cut your corn tortillas into tortilla chips.

Spread them out evenly on two cookie sheets. Put one sheet on the top rack of the oven, and the other on the bottom. Cook for 15 minutes switching the cookie sheets half way through. Set aside to cool.

Chop up your onion and mince your garlic. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the diced tomatoes and poblano strips.

Stir it up. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, remove from heat, and set aside. (this involves a lot of setting aside…I kind of ran out of “side” room.)

Now, here comes the dangerous part. The cheese sauce. It’s dangerously delicious. Melt your butter in a small sauce pan, then whisk in your flour. Cook for 2 minutes and then slowly whisk in the whole milk.

Simmer for 2 more minutes until it thickens up. Remove from the heat and add 2 cups of the grated cheddar cheese.

Sharp, delicious, creamy, cheesy sauce…

I dare you to make this cheese sauce without dragging your finger along the bottom of the sauce pan and licking your hand clean. Clean, I tell you!

Time to assemble your gratin!
In a shallow buttered baking dish throw in half of your tortilla chips, then the tomato and onion mixture, then the rest of your chips, followed by the cheese sauce, and finally sprinkle the rest of the cheddar cheese on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

I made extra tortilla chips while this was baking. I just put some more on a cookie sheet and baked them below my gratin. I served it was said extra tortilla chips and a dollop of plain yogurt.

Oh, and my old friend Tapatio. This was really good, but I think it would have been better with some taco meat. So, you go make it with taco meat and tell me how it turns out!

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The Good Beats

I found a video of a dancing Santa while surfing the interweb today. The song that was featured in the video was so contagious that I felt like I should share it on the good ol’ blog!

Also, I really enjoy this
Buke and Gass Tiny Desk Concert

You gotsta give this more than a couple seconds of a chance, it gets better as it goes along.

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Chicken Catch-My-Tory

Jon was starving tonight.

Crazy starving.

First thing’s first! Take those chicken thighs from Costco out of the freezer to defrost!
While waiting, poor yourself a fancy looking bubbly water in a wine glass. Add a lemon and feel totally sophisticated.

Ah, yes. Enjoy that bubbly water. Mmmm delicious bubbly water….

ON TO THE COOKING!

Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs
2 Tbs butter
4 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup flour
2 bell peppers (cut into strips)
5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 large onion (cut into strips)
1 carton of chopped mushrooms
1 cup of dry white wine
1 (28oz) can whole tomatoes
1 Tbs tumeric
1 Tbs dried thyme
handful of parsley
parmesean

Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Lay out your chicken on a large surface and season with salt and pepa. Season REAL good. Get it? Salt and pepa…
Okay, I’m old.

Get out your dutch oven and place on the stove over medium high heat. Add olive oil and butter until butter is melted.

Lightly dredge the chicken in flour and place skin side down in the hot pot. Only do 4 chicken thighs at a time so you don’t over crowd the pot. Do it in 2 batches.


Brown the chicken on both sides and set it on a plate once browned.
Discard half of the oil in the pan. Add onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook for one minute, and then add the chopped mushrooms.

Cook for another minute. Season with tumeric and thyme. Add your cup of white wine. Take a swig straight out of the bottle and put the rest back in the fridge. Yes, that last step is necessary.
Now add your can of tomatoes. I used whole ones that I squished up with my hands before I added it to the pot, but that’s just because I love Trader Joe’s whole canned romas. Feel free to buy pre-chopped tomatoes.

Give it a little stir and bring to a boil. Place the chicken back in the pot, so that they aren’t fully submerged in the liquid, with the skin side up.

Put the lid on it, and place in the oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove the lid and cook for 15 more minutes.

Once it’s done baking, remove from oven.

Remove the chicken, and set aside.

Remove the veggies, and set aside.

See this broth that’s left behind? Put this over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until it has reduced a bit. It’s going to make an awesome sauce.

Cook up any kind of noodles you like. I chose egg noodles because they are incredibly cheap and we alway seem to have a never ending supply in our pantry. Put some chicken and veggies on top of your chosen pasta. Top with sauce, some chopped parsley and a little bit of parmesean.

Oh. My. God.
So good.
Don’t worry. I didn’t eat all of this. I got a little carried away when I was plating it up. Jon called it “Olive Garden portions”.

Thank you Pioneer Woman for creating such a wonderfully easy and equally tasty recipe. Don’t know who the Pioneer Woman is? I suggest you check it out ASAP.
The Pioneer Woman

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Split Peas Come Pre-Split?

This is a serious question my Dad asked me when I told him I made the best split pea soup I had ever had. He asked, “How long did it take you to split all those peas?”

I said, “….what? No time. They’re in the bulk foods section. I just poured pre-split peas into a bag.”

“Split peas come pre-split?”

Oh Dad. Seriously, one of these days I’m going to teach him a thing or two about what his kitchen is for.

If those of you out there in the cyber world didn’t know that split peas came pre-split, well I’ve come baring good news! They come pre-split!! You can now make split pea soup literally any time you want without the tedious chore of splitting all those peas!!

When I told a few of my friends I made split pea soup from scratch, I was surprised by some of the faces they gave me. “Meh, I don’t really like split pea soup”

One friend even asked if I put ham in my split pea soup.
I said, “Of course!! What kind of split pea soup doesn’t have ham in it??”
Apparently his Mom makes split pea soup with no ham and it’s pretty gross.

I’m here to to prove you wrong about what you may think about split pea soup.
Yes, it’s green.
Yes, it resembles slime.
No, it’s not pretty like the minestrone soup I made.
But just try it. You’ll like it. Jon said it was the best thing I’ve ever made. EVER!

Pre-Split Peas Soup

Ingredients:
1 ham hock (2-3 lbs)
3 quarts of water
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
4 bay leaves
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of sugar
3 yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
Minced red onion and balsamic vinegar, for garnish

Place your ham hock in a large stock pot and cover with 3 quarts of water (12 cups, for those of you who didn’t know there are 4 cups in a quart. I didn’t.) Toss your bay leaves in there and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the ham is falling off the bone.

Toast your caraway seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, until they are fragrant and browned. (caraway seeds are what make rye bread taste like rye bread. I kept having flash backs to a reuben while I was eating this soup.) Set them aside. After your 2 hours are up, remove ham from stock pot and place on a cutting board to cool.

When ham is cool enough to handle, tear pieces of ham into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Just throw the bone away. Add your pre-split peas and caraway seeds to the stock pot, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes.

While your peas and simmering away, add olive oil to a large skillet over high heat. Once oil is hot and shimmering add onions, carrots and celery to the very hot skillet.

Stir frequently and saute for 5 minutes until vegetables begin to brown. Reduce heat to low and add your butter, garlic and pinch of sugar. Cook vegetables, stirring frequently, for 35 minutes until deeply browned. Like this.

Once split peas are done cooking, add your vegetables, ham, and potatoes to the soup.

Cook until potatoes are tender and the broth is starting to thicken up, about 20 minutes. Season with ground black pepper.

Once you serve yourself up a bowl, drizzle your vinegar on top and add a few of the minced red onions.


Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! We had a ton of soup for just the two of us, but I’m pretty sure we ate all of it sooner or later.
Make it.
Love it.
Pre-split pea it UP!

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Christmas Tree Professional

I always, always put the lights on the Christmas tree.
Since the age of about 10, I was in charge of wrapping lights around the branches of the tree.
This year was no different. Not only did I aid in putting the lights on my parent’s tree, I also put the lights on Jon and mine’s first tree.

TA DA! Our first tree!
We just put it up last night, although I totally would have jumped the gun and put it up a week ago if everyone in my life didn’t talk me out of it.
When I was done putting the lights on the tree we ended up having half a string too much when I got to the top.
I was just going to stuff the extra up Santa’s “hole”, but Jon said we should just wrap it around him.
This Santa IS a Wizard Santa, so glowing is a usual occurrence for him. He’s a wizard!

Behold! Wizard Santa!!!
Then we broke out the ornaments.
The only ornaments we have are ones my Mama gave me from when I was a little kid.
Jon laughed at them as we were putting them up, deeming half of them creepy.
Here are the top 2 he thought were creepy:

Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz. I can see where he’s coming from. He’s always kind of creeped me out.

Little Wooden Girl. I don’t think she’s that creepy.
You want to know who I think is creepy?

Meet the creepiest nutcracker I have ever seen.

I seeeeee youuuu!!

Then, after a couple hours of decorating it was time for dinner! My cousin Krisanna actually told me to make this recipe, and this is my second attempt at making it.
It’s super easy and really good. I just made a couple small changes.

Chevre and Kabocha Squash Penne

Ingredients:
Half of a kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 small red onion, chopped
10 button mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs fresh sage, chopped
2 cloves garlic
4 oz chevre (goats cheese)
1 lb penne pasta

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange your cubes of squash and red onion on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes or until squash is fork tender.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt and add noodles. Cook according to directions. Save one cup of pasta water.

Strain and transfer noodles into a large bowl.

Get out a sautee pan and put over medium high heat. Drizzle pan with olive oil and sautee mushrooms and garlic for about 3 minutes. Dump mushrooms, roasted vegetables, and chopped sage into the bowl with the pasta.

Add chevre and pasta water and mix until cheese is melted and everything is incorporated.
Top with a little bit of parmesan and serve!

Like my Christmas table cloth?
Yeah. I thought you’d like that…

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