Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Keilbasa Swiss Chard Stew Recipe



We are really enjoying all of the new vegetables we are receiving in our CSA share every week from the farm (in this post).  With all of the vegetables we are receiving now, I wanted to find a way to preserve some of them for the winter months.  I found this soup recipe that I figured would freeze well and give us a few meals out in the future. 

This stew is hearty and delicious with a mashed potato base.  It will be perfect for the cold winter months, not that I am wishing away summer.  Keep this recipe in your back pocket for the future, or make it now on a cooler night with your fresh Swiss Chard and save it for the chilly winter nights. 



Kielbasa Swish Chard Stew
Serves 8

6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup butter
8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 ½ pounds Swiss Chard, rinsed, dried and chopped
2/3 pound kielbasa sausage, sliced into ½ inch pieces

Place the potatoes into a large soup pot, over medium heat.  Add butter and water, and bring to a boil.  Cook the potatoes until fork tender.  Reserve the liquid and mash the potatoes in the pan until smooth.  Return the potato water to the pot and stir in the salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer the potato mixture for 20 minutes.

Next, stir in the fresh swish chard and sausage.  Simmer for another 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Tips:
1)      If you don’t have Swiss Chard, you could use kale or spinach
2)      For this recipe, I used turkey kielbasa.  It was an excellent, low fat, low calorie alternative with all the flavor you would expect from a regular kielbasa. 
3)       We froze this soup to have a hearty, healthy meal option for the winter months. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mongolian Chicken Recipe


My dad goes crazy for spicy food.  Every time we go out to dinner he is always willing to try new foods with a kick of heat!  He loves to push the limit with the level of heat that he can endure.  I am always willing to give a small taste to whatever he orders, but most of the time I learn my tolerance is {very} much lower than his.

One spicy dish my father has ordered in the past is Mongolian Beef.  This dish has a delicious tangy, spicy sauce coating the meat that my entire family loves.  I came across a simple Mongolian sauce recipe while reading Cooking Light magazine.  The recipe called to use beef, which we have done in the past, but all I had in the house tonight was chicken breast.  So I tried it as a substitute and it worked out perfectly! Don’t you just love when that happens?!?!


Mongolian Chicken Recipe
Serves 4

 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic  
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
4 chicken breasts, cut into large bite sized pieces 
8 medium green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces

First, combine the soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, dry sherry, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, chili paste, and salt in a medium sized bowl until smooth.

Next, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the minced ginger, minced garlic, and chicken into the skillet and cook the chicken through, about 9 minutes depending on the thickness.  Once the chicken is fully cooked through, add the green onion pieces and saut√© for 30 seconds. Add the sauce mixture into the skillet and cook for 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly.

Serve with rice, cous cous or over rice noodles.  Enjoy!

Tips:
1)      If you don’t have peanut oil, use vegetable or canola oil instead
2)      Want to make this with steak instead?  Use 1 pound sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain.  Saut√© for 2 minutes or until beef is browned in the oil, ginger, garlic mixture.  Then add in the green onions and sauce as directed above.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Seasoned Pretzels Recipe


These seasoned pretzels are perfect for a beach vacation, football party, midnight snack, or honestly for an anytime treat.  My cousins from Pennsylvania introduced my family to this recipe.  They have the best sourdough pretzels in Pennsylvania that we can't get in MA, and everytime we go to visit we always leave with a few bags to treasure. 




Seasoned Pretzels Recipe

1 box large sourdough pretzels
1/2 cup oil
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch
garlic salt
lemon pepper
cayenne pepper

Whisk all of the spices with the oil in a large bowl.  Break the pretzels into the bowl and toss to coat all of the pretzels with the spiced oil.  Spread the pretzels in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350o for 5 minutes.  Stir and place back in the oven at 210o for 5 minutes.  Stir, turn off the oven and place the pretzels back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Enjoy with an ice cold beverage!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beer Dip Recipe



I cannot believe I have never come across this recipe before at a party or in my recipe searches.  It is so easy and a HUGE crowd pleaser.  Our families got together for Father’s Day and I wanted to try a new recipe for the party.  What better dish to bring to a Father’s Day party than one that involves beer?  The beer taste is distinctive, yet subtle, and complemented by the cheeses and ranch spices nicely.  It only took minutes to whip up this dip in my trusty kitchen aid, but definitely gave a punch of bold layered flavors.


I definitely recommend this dip for the next party you are attending or hosting.  Serve it with pretzels, carrots, or celery sticks. 

Beer Dip Recipe
Recipe from Allrecipes

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 package ranch dressing mix
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup beer (I used Guinness)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, dressing mix and cayenne.  Stir in Cheddar cheese and then slowly incorporate the beer into the mixture. 

Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible to allow all of the flavors to meld together! 

Enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tortellini Salad Recipe


I love summer BBQ's! How can you not love them, gathering with family and friends, eating lots of good food off of the grill, laughing, being outside and making memories.  This past weekend, my parents hosted a pool party at their house.  The weather was perfect, the pool was refreshing and there was lots of wiffle ball played.   Overall, it was a great day.   



I knew my father, a.k.a. the grill master, would be cooking up some great BBQ food on the grill, so I thought I would make a tortellini salad to accompany his food.  This salad is so easy to put together and only has a few ingredients {4 to be exact}.  You could add lots of other summer veggies to this recipe and make it your own, so please think of this as a starting point.

Tortellini Salad Recipe

2 bags of frozen tortellini
1/2 English cucumber, cut into bit size pieces
4 ounces of pepperoni, cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups of ranch dressing

Cook the tortellini according to the package.  Drain and run cold water over to help the cooling process. 

In a large bowl, mix your cooled tortellini, cucumber, pepperoni and ranch dressing.  Depending on how much dressing the pasta absorbs, you might want to add more upon serving.  Use your own judgment and preference when adding the dressing.

Tips:
1)      This is definitely a party sized portion.  You can make this with only one bag of tortellini and then can cut back on the cucumber, pepperoni and dressing. 
2)      If you don’t have English cucumber, then use a regular one.  Just make sure to peel it and remove the seeds during preparation.
3)      Feel free to add any of your favorite vegetables; tomato, pepper, snap peas, etc. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Slow-Cooker Pork with Noodles


As I have mentioned before, I love my slow-cooker!   When the smell of a delicious home cooked meal greets you at the front door after a long day of work, you know a relaxing night is ahead of you with no meal prep.  When I found this pork with noodles recipe in my Food Network magazine ( May 2011 edition), I couldn’t wait to try it. 




The slow-cooked pork shreds apart so easily, while still remaining moist and tender.  The Asian inspired broth perfectly flavors the meat and noodles, while the crunchy bok choy adds a nice texture.  This meal sounds complex, but it only took 20 minutes of prep time, then the slow-cooker does the rest of the work for you! 


What are some of your favorite slow-cooker recipes?


Slow-Cooker Pork with Noodles

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
2 piece star anise
Salt
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 head bok choy, ,roughly chopped
3 ½ ounces dried rice vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, star anise and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker. Add the pork, then cover and cook on low 8 hours.

Add the bock choy to the slow cooker; cover and cook about 20 more minutes.  Next, add the noodles to the slow cooker, making sure they are submerged in the broth.  Cover and cook another 10 minutes. 

Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred the meat. Divide the pork, bok choy and noodles among bowls, then ladle in some of the broth. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

Tips:
1)      When I made this, I didn’t have star anise (to be honest, I have no clue where to even buy this!), so I just skipped this ingredient and it came out wonderfully.
2)      I forgot to get fresh ginger at the grocery store, so I used 1 ½ teaspoons of dried ground ginger.
3)      This recipe made so much that we froze another meal for later! 
4)   Don't let my photos above fool you.  This is definitely a dish that requires a fork!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

CSA - Community Supported Agriculture


This summer, my husband and I decided to buy a CSA share at a local farm.  When you buy a Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, share you receive a basket of fresh, locally grown {possibly organic} fruit and vegetables each week.  Some CSA’s even include farm fresh meats and eggs. 


The prices are very reasonable for all of the fresh produce you receive on a weekly basis, and it made sense for us and our budget.  There are lots of other advantages for us than just the price.  The CSA we joined is 100% organic, locally grown and family run.  The produce is super fresh, full of flavor and beneficial vitamins.  Through joining the CSA, we have met new people from our community and experimented with many different vegetables in our everyday cooking.


The veggies in these photos are all from our CSA.  Aren’t they beautiful?!?! I am in love with these sunburst yellow squash.  They are so cute and adorable.  Some of the other goodies we have received in our basket are beets, kale, lettuce, turnip, sugar snap peas, zucchini, green onions, radish, cabbage, baby greens, swish chard, bok choy, and strawberries!  There are still lots more amazing seasonal vegetables to come. 


The family that runs our CSA prints off a weekly newsletter for the farm.  It provides lots of fun information about the progress of the farm, a list of everything in our baskets, a featured veggie of the week and a recipe.  I look forward to sharing some new vegetable recipes with you all and showing some more beautiful photos of our veggies through the fall!

If you have any questions about the CSA, just post a comment or email me! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Monkey Bread Recipe

  
 Hello everyone! It has been a while and I apologize for that.  Our home computer just crashed and we had to get it repaired.  Of course through all of the computer shenanigans, I was cooking and baking up a storm to keep up the blog.  Fingers crossed we don’t have any additional computer glitches in the future!

Ok, enough of that computer talk and onto the main attraction; Monkey Bread!  Wow is this stuff good.  My college friend just had her first child and we all got together for breakfast at her house.  I made monkey bread and it was a huge hit.  The buttery caramel sauce coated around each soft, chewy, cinnamon dough bite is what we all dream of waking up to in the morning....or at least I do! 




This bread is not only delicious, but lots of fun to eat.  My girlfriends and I just sat around the plate talking, watching the baby and pulling off one piece of bread at a time.  Who doesn’t love finger foods!

Monkey Bread Recipe
Makes 1 bread

1 dough (I used my pizza dough recipe)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9-10 inch tube (bundt) pan. 

In a bowl, mix white sugar and cinnamon together.  Take your dough and pull off walnut sized pieces.  Roll each piece into the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Once each dough piece is coated, place into your greased bundt pan.  Continue to layer your bread until you have gone through all of the dough.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat.  Bring it to a boil for 1 minute to melt the sugar completely.  Pour the butter mixture over the layered dough.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a plate.

Pull it apart and enjoy!

Tips:

1)      Feel free to add walnuts, pecans, raisins, crasins, etc.  It would be delicious with these
added treats.  Just make sure to layer this in with the dough as you are stacking up your
bread. 
2)      Next time I make this, I am thinking about also making a chocolate dipping sauce to
accompany the soft chewy bread bites!
3)      If you don’t feel like making the dough, you can also use the premade doughs, or cans
of refrigerated biscuits (like Pillsbury)    
4)        I am thinking that if I put the cinnamon/sugar combo in a plastic bag and put the dough pieces in there, it might eliminate the rolling process and save a bit of time. 

P.S.  Don’t you love my friend’s plate!!!  So pretty!
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