Thursday, July 31, 2008

Play Time Over


So I am back from Vacation. I had a great visit with my friend in Virginia but was ready to come home. I am sure that it did not have ANYTHING to do with the fact that she has 4 children between the ages of 1 and 8. Not that I don't adore them, but at one point I looked at her smiled and said. "You know, this time next year I will be sending my youngest off to college." I can't repeat her reply here, but use your imagination. I am sure you will be close.



My computer, after spending a week in the hospital with a bill to reflect that (I know Franco, you can build me a new one) is finally up and running again. Sigh of relief. Though I have a love/hate relationship with it...I missed my "stuff" I not only was not able to get to my files and pictures to properly write this blog. I found that I am very dependent on the computer in my day to day cooking. I swear, I cooked before I had one but for the life of me I cannot figure out how. Cookbooks you say? How Archaic!

But I promised you something tasty when the world was right again. (OK, well perhaps just back to my twisted norm) and I am here to deliver.

This is a take on a Rachel Ray recipe that I have made several times. You may have noticed pictures of it on the edges of other dishes I have made for you but I have never actually posted this particular recipe and I am not sure why because it is really VERY good and pretty healthy as long as you use the cheese judiciously. Her original recipe was a meatless dish. I have done that as a side dish and it was very good: but, for a main dish, I like to add cooked shredded chicken.

Don't be afraid of the Pablano Peppers once the seeds are removed they are not hot at all. If you are still timid you could just as easily use Bell Peppers instead. Feel free to spice this up with more (or less if you like) Jalapeno.

Charred Chili Relleno
4 large poblano peppers
3 cups frozen corn kernels
2tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained well
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano,
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lime zested and juiced
1 cup shredded Cheese (I used a cheddar-jack blend)
1 cup cooked shredded chicken (optional)
Place poblanos under broiler or on hot grill and char (turning over half way through) about 15 minutes.

Defrost frozen corn and dry by spreading out on clean kitchen towel. Heat 2 tablespoons light oil in a skillet over high heat. When the oil smokes or ripples add corn, onion, jalapenos and toss until the vegetables char at edges and onions are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and add in garlic, fire roasted tomatoes and season with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken (if using) Cook another minute or 2 then turn pan off.

Sprinkle the lime juice and zest over the corn mixture.

Split the charred peppers open but not in half with small sharp knife then scoop out the seeds with a small spoon. Place peppers in a shallow baking dish and stuff each split pepper until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Trifles and Tribulations


About a year ago I made a lovely Trifle to take to a dinner party. Unfortunately, there was a horrible food tragedy enroute to the party and the Trifle ended up on the floor board of my car. I decided then and there that I would never again make a Trifle unless I would be serving it at the same location that it was made.
Just a few facts about Trifles- They are Top heavy. They are Bulky and I don't know anyone who has space for them in their refrigerator. The make a HUGE mess when spilled in your car!

However, a few months ago I got a package from my Mother that changed my life forever! Ok, maybe I am exageratting just a little but I was VERY excited when I found inside the most AWSOME Trifle bowl ever! The pedestal and bowl actually separate and if that isn't enough to make me jump up and down and clap it has lid too! I know, I know, I get WAY too excited about this kind of stuff but let me tell you when you put the time (and money) into making a beautiful dish and instead of getting to present your lovely concoction to the hostess and bask in the praise of OHH's and AHH's and MMM's you have to show up to a dinner party empty handed and spend the next week cleaning custard and whipped cream out of your car (and on every hot day for the rest of the summer you realize you can"t REALLY get whipped cream and custard of carpet), well ....

Now let me start by saying that no one needs a recipe for a trifle. You have cake layers custard or pudding layers whipped cream layers and you can have fruit and/or jelly layers. You can moisten/flavor your cake layers with juice or liquers if you please. So, go crazy, use your imagination! It will be yummy and beautiful!

I have made two trifles in the last couple of weeks. The first was a Peach Melba trifle (similar to the one that haunted me every hot day until I traded my car in last week) and a Blueberry Delight Trifle which only became a trifle when I put it in a trifle bowl. I usually make this in two layers in a 9x13 pan. So if you don't have a trifle bowl you can make it like that and trust me it will tastes EXACTLY the same!


Peach Melba Trifle

4 peaches peeled and cut into slices
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 pint of fresh raspberries
4TBS Water
1 1/2 cups seedless raspberry jam
1-16oz pound cake cut into 1/2 in slices
1 large pkg instant french vanilla pudding prepared as directed except replace 1/4 cup of milk with 1/4 cup of Grand Marnier .
1-16 oz container of whipped topping (thawed)

Place layer of pound cake in bottom of trifle bowl. Mix 2 tbs water with Grand Marnier and brush onto pound cake with pastry brush.
Spread 1/2 of jam mixture onto cake, Spoon 1/2 of pudding mixture on top and a layer of peaches and raspberries Repeatlayers arranging fruit in a pretty pattern (I tossed in a few blueberries) Chill for 1 hour
NOTES: You can replace the Grand Marnier with apple juice or orange juice to moisten the cake and make the pudding as directed on package.


Blueberry Delight

1 pkg Cream Cheese,room temp
16oz container whipped topping thawed
1 cup powdered sugar
2 (Bar type) Angelfood Cakes
2 10z can Blueberry Pie filling

For ease of cutting place the angel food cake in the freezer for a couple of hours (not required but you will thank me). With electric mixer mix Cream Cheese and powdered Sugar. Fold in Whipped topping and mix just until incorporated (don't over beat). Slice cake into 1inch slices and place 1/3 into trifle bowl. Spread 1/3 of the mixture over cake, Spread 1/3 pie filling on top Repeat for 3 layers. Chill for 1 hour.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Thai Thai Again

Today's post was inspired by my abundance of Basil which is definitely a good thing because I LOVE basil!

I was looking for a recipe that called for a healthy amount of basil because the more you harvest your basil the better it grows and in case you didn't catch it before, I LOVE basil! Like I mentioned in a previous post, if you don't regularly snip it off it will begin to flower and then will go to seed and it's down hill from there. It will also get tall and lanky which you don't want either.

I found this recipe on Recipezaar and it is SUPER simple and very very tasty. I am excited to share this recipe with you because with the exception of just a few basic ingredients you can change just about anything in this recipe to suit your taste or ingredients you have on hand and honestly I don't think you could make it taste anything but wonderful. This goes together in minutes and I am not exaggerating one bit. It has taken me this long to post this for you because I made it 4 times before I managed to get pictures of it (which by the way do not even begin to do the flavor justice). It gets gobbled up THAT fast!

I am going to Post the recipe for you as it was written and then I will tell you all of the variations that you can make though I strongly encourage you try anything that sounds good to you.

Thai Chicken Fried Rice with Basil - Kao Pad Krapao


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Thai red chili peppers
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces*
2 cups cold cooked rice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1/3 cup Thai holy basil (regular basil ok)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

In a wok or large skillet, stir-fry garlic in oil until golden; then add chilies and chicken and stir-fry until chicken is cooked.
Add rice, sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce, and stir-fry, mixing gently.
When well mixed, add shallots, basil leaves and cilantro; cook another minute or so, and serve.
If you desire, serve with lime wedges, chile sauce, fish sauce, or soy sauce at the table.

The variations are nearly endless. First of all, I used quite a bit more basil than this recipe called for probably more like 1 cup. I also cut my chicken into a very small dice (1/4 inch). If you do this when the chicken breasts are still partially frozen it is quick and easy. I prefer Tamari (over regular soy sauce)which is a strong dark soy sauce, but becareful because it has a bit more of a salty flavor you may want to adjust the amout.

I have replaced the chicken with ground beef. I have replaced the thai chilli peppers with 1 TBS of red chilli flakes. I have made it without any peppers at all (for my wimpy daughter) and I have made it without the cilantro (it was fine but I would recomend using it because it adds another layer of flavor). Using ground chicken or ground turkey would make this dish come together even faster.

For the pictures I put it into Endive leaves and that makes for a nice presentation and would make a great Hors d'oeuvre. My friend Savanna suggested using it in a lettuce wrap either with or without the rice (which I am going to try soon). I think it would also be great in a fresh spring roll (maybe even bulked up with a bit of shredded nappa cabbage).

My point is, make this however you like.Just make it. I promise, you won't be sorry!