Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chicken Tamale Pie

With only 5 days until our much looked forward to yearly vacation to Mexico it's not surprising that I just start to crave Mexican flavors.

Now this recipe is far from anything we really eat while we are in Mexico but it is sure is good so it fit the bill.

And talk about easy; a box of jiffy corn bread mixed with a can of creamed corn and topped with rotisserie chicken (boxes and cans rarely fit into our meal preparation but this week we are just trying to get to the end of the week so a little help is excepted.) Super simple and super tasty as well.

We topped i with some sliced avocado, chopped cilantro and Mexican crema served with a quickly prepared green salad. And now we have dinner for at least two if not three nights.

It makes a great mid week, one dish meal.

Recipe from Cooking Light: Chicken Tamale Casserole
·        1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
·        1/3 cup fat-free milk
Click to see savings·        1/4 cup egg substitute
·        1 teaspoon ground cumin
·        1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
·        1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
·        1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
·        1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
·        Cooking spray
·        1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
·        2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
Click to see savi·        1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
Click to see savingsPreparation
1.      1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2.      2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3.      3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.
Risë Minton, Smyrna, GA, Cooking Light

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gutsy Cooks Club: Cheesy Roasted Garlic White Sauce Pizza with Ham and Leeks

Pizza for the most part I can take it or leave it ...not something I crave personally. Unlike G who for the most part would choose pizza every day of the week if he could.

So when I choose to "gutsy up" the recipe choice for Cheesy Pancakes with Ham & Leeks from this weeks' Gutsy Cooks Club choices and turn it into pizza it was a shock to both of us.But if pizza tasted like this all of the time I'd probably crave it on the level G does.The original recipe for the pancakes sounded fine but it just wasn't getting me running to the kitchen to make it. But I know I love ham, leeks & gruyere cheese so transferring them to a pizza was much more appealing to me for whatever reason.

I knew if I was going to make his into a pizza I'd need to find a recipe for a white pizza sauce and Food Network and Emeril came to my rescue with his recipe for Roasted Garlic White Sauce. Which was the perfect bed for the leeks and ham flavor.

I started with the leeks although we haven't cooked a ton with leeks my extensive reading of recipes and cooking techniques led me to know cleaning leeks was the important step in preparing leeks.

I started by slicing them in half lenghtwise and the cutting them into 1" pieces and soaking them in cold water and then draining and spraying them with more cold water.

Next I boiled the leeks and then drained them again.

I moved onto roasting the garlic for the roasted garlic white sauce, I went the easy route and used Trader Joes peeled garlic and drizzled them with olive oil and wrapped them in foil and put them in a 450 degree oven for 25 minutes.

I started the sauce by gathering the other needed ingredients.

I simmered the milk until bubbles formed then removed from heat.

I melted the butter added flour and then the warmed milk creating rhe sauce. 

Next I removed sauce from heat and added the roasted garlic using the immulsion blender to make rhe sauce smooth.

Next I started with my dough. I used Trader Joes refridgerated fresh dough as I had some on hand hand but I definitely struggled with getting shaped this time around.

Once I had it to a somewhat exceptable shape I transferred it to our tried and true Pampered Chef pizza stone.

 I've had it almost 15 years and it shows but its still one of our favorite kitchen utensils.I parbaked the dough first for about 12 minutes.

Then I spread the roasted garlic white sauce first...

then a layer of gruyere and monterey jack cheese..

followed by the leeks and Canadian Bacon...

And another layer of cheese. After all it has the word cheesy in its title.

Finally I added the fresh spinach before putting the pizza into a pre-heated 450 degree oven.

The pizza was fantastic. The combo of leeks, ham, spinach and gruyere were perfect. Basically whether if these flavors were together in a crepe, a pasta, a sandwich or like ours in a pizza they'd be wonderful.

This pizza was very reminisent of a pizza from our one of our fav local pizzerarias Katie Downs and their great white pizza which also has a roasted garlic white sauce but chicken & spinach instead.

We served with one of most frequently drank everyday wines, Columbia Crest a 2010 Pinot Gris. Which was perfect paired with the pizza.
I LOVED it, G liked it alot.

Here's the link to the original recipe for the Cheesy pancakes with ham & links.

Here's the link for the Roasted Garlic White Pizza sauce from Food Network.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Double Jack Irish Stew with Boxty Cakes

Although it's only 2 days away from spring the dismal weather, dampness and cold outside make it feel we are still far from this upcoming season known for renewal. So given that it was St. Patrick's Day and comfort food was still called for this Double Jack Irish Stew with Boxty Cakes  that we watched Guy Fieri make last weekend on his show Guy's Big Bite seemed like a perfect weekend recipe.

It starts with a marinade comprised of Guinness, Jack Daniels and Apple Jack, hence Double Jack stew. Yeah, about two hours into making the recipe I made that connection. Evidently I was a little slow this weekend. I also realized about 2 hours in that this was not a quick recipe either. We essentially started making it after lunch around 3:30 and we didn't end up eating until 9 p.m. so plan accordingly but trust me it's worth it in the end.

Marinade Ingredients

We got the marinade made, cubed our Flat Iron steak

and got the marinating process going.

After marinating in the fridge for over an hour. G drained the meat and patted it dry for searing.

Stew ingredients

While G worked on that I pulled together the ingredients for the stew.

It immediately looked and smelled fantastic in the pot.

After this the stew cooked stovetop for 2 hours while G & I got nostalgic and watched the original Arthur movie starring Dudley Moore. The 17th was exactly 1 month that my father passed and this was his favorite movie that my sister and I must of watched over 100 times with him on his old school beta machine in the 80's. We came to the realization this weekend that we are truly missing and still hurting from our loss and comfort and ways to feel close to him are still needed.

Finally, after lots of laughs and getting to share this movie that G had never seen before it was time to start the boxty cakes. Neither of us had ever heard of a boxty cakes, which is a tradition Irish potato pancake evidently made with mashed potatoes and cauliflower and shredded potatoes soaked in milk and chicken broth. The potato mash gets combined with a flour mixture.

At first they are pretty firm.

Then you add the shredded potato with milk & broth and they are more like a batter.

You spread them in a pan with oil...

cooking them until brown and the edges and then give them a flip.

The final additions go into the stew; apple cider vinegar, heavy cream, buttermilk and butter to give it a bit of richness and wonderful flavor.

Guy's directions call to lay the potato cake on the plate

and then place stew and try to wrap the boxty over it.

I wasn't fully successful in my attempts to wrap the stew but I tried.
 The stew was excellent. Full of flavor and veggies. We were slightly disappointed that it was 9:00 by the time we were ready to serve it and our appetites by that time regardless of how hungry just wouldn't allow us to eat as much as we might of liked to.

Luckily there is a ton left for additional servings the next few days. We will definitely make this stew again it's dinner party worthy even given the unique flavor of the marinade, cider vinegar and buttermilk bring to it.
The boxty cake is pretty tasty too. The combo of flavor really make it a special dish.

Recipes from Guy Fieri on Food Network linked:

Double Jack Stew link
Boxty Cakes link

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thai Curry Chicken Noodle Soup

We have a pretty serious infatuation with both curry and Thai soups around here. The first meal G tried to "woo" me with was Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Curry Soup) and it is our fav still to this day . When I came across this recipe for a Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup from the Sweethome blog I knew we needed to give it a try.

Sadly it's very winter like around these parts still. It has snowed 2 times in the last two weeks, not very typical for the Pacific Northwest but it is what is! And what it has been is... COLD. Soup was in order to warm us up.

I started by pulling everything together.

I decided this was a perfect opportunity to use the new Le Creuset French Oven that we won from being one of the top 5 finalists in the Johnsonville Chili Cook off. ( Bummed we didn't win first place but very excited to have made the top 5.)

I was also excited to have an opportunity to use our Kaffir lime leaves that I had froze last time. They aren't easy to find around here so when we do we freeze what we don't use for future use.

Since this was a mid-week, school night I went the rotisserie chicken route. I first shredded some chicken.

I then started with some cream from the coconut milk, cilantro stems and the curry paste. YES, I went heavy on the curry paste. Can't be spicy enough for me.

Then I focused on some of the flavors that I love about Thai food and the freshness they bring to any dish.

The soup came together incredibly easy and looked fantastic from the start.

It was spicy, comforting and overall fantastic. We loved the addition of the noodles. Although we heed this warning: use far less rice noodles than the recipe calls for. We used a package and they totally absorbed the liquid of the soup. We added more chicken stock and all was fine, especially since I had already went far too heavy on the curry paste the extra chicken broth really helped cool it down a bit.

Super Good Stuff. This will become a "frequent flyer" at our dinner table without a doubt.

Recipe from Sweethome:

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

This Recipe is part of the One Pot Wonders Recipes from Michael Smith Menu

Two 14 oz (398 mL) cans of premium coconut milk
1 heaping tablespoon (15 mL) of Thai curry paste
Roots of 1 bunch of cilantro, rinsed well
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 cups (500 mL) of chicken broth
1 carrot, shredded
4 or 5 lime leaves
2 stalks of lemon grass, halved lengthwise, woody leaves removed
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of fish sauce
Zest and juice of 2 limes
A small knob of frozen ginger
A handful of bean sprouts
One 8 oz (225 g) package of rice noodles
Leaves of 1 bunch of cilantro, rinsed well
2 or 3 green onions, thinly sliced
A sprinkle or two of salt or soy sauce
1. Scoop the thick coconut cream from the top of just one of the cans into a large stockpot set over a medium-high heat. Melt the cream, add the curry paste and stir for a few minutes until they begin to sizzle.
2. Add the cilantro roots and chicken and sauté until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the coconut juice from the first can and all the contents of the second can along with the chicken broth, carrot, lime leaves, lemon grass, fish sauce and lime zest and juice. Grate the frozen ginger into the broth with a Microplane grater or standard box grater. Simmer for 20 minutes or so.
4. Stir in the bean sprouts. Add the rice noodles, gently pushing them beneath the surface of the broth. Turn off the heat and let stand until the noodles soften, about 5 minutes. Rice noodles don’t need to simmer like pasta to cook; they simply need to rehydrate in the hot liquid.
5. Stir in most of the cilantro leaves. Remove the lemon grass stalks. Taste and season with a touch more salt (or soy sauce) as needed. Ladle into large bowls and garnish with the green onions and remaining cilantro leaves.
Serves 4