Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper, and Fennel

A few weeks ago, Aldi had some whole wheat gnocchi at the store, so we picked up a few packages.  This week while we were looking to eat healthy we were also looking to use up ingredients already in the house.  So D found this recipe.

First, someone needs to tell Cooking Light to stop promoting Gerhard's sausage or at least say they have some exclusivity to it. I have never seen it in Kroger or Publix, and it is just getting ridiculous.  So that was the first substitution.  We ended up buying Johnsonville Italian Style with Cheese Chicken Sausage Split Rope (at Kroger)...which made the calories higher, but not by much.

So the taste was very good.  There was no cream, but there seemed to be a creamy texture.

I would have again.

We had with Broccoli in Creamy Parmesan Sauce.  D said to next time have it with a salad though...less bowls.

Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper, and Fennel

Photo by ALB

Vary the flavor by using a different cheese, such as pecorino Romano.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi (such as Vigo)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces basil, pine nut, and chicken sausage (such as Gerhard's), casing removed and sliced
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the gnocchi in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Keep gnocchi warm.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove sausage from skillet using a slotted spoon.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add fennel, bell pepper, and onion to pan; cook 13 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, gnocchi, cheese, black pepper, and reserved cooking liquid to pan; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in parsley.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 342; Fat: 11.5 g;  Sat fat: 4.3 g; Mono fat: 4.7 g; Poly fat: 1.6 g; Protein: 15.9 g; Carbohydrate: 45.4 g;  Fiber: 2.9 g; Cholesterol: 50 mg; Iron: 1.1 mg; Sodium: 829 mg; Calcium: 155 mg

Cooking Light, APRIL 2008


A long time ago, Danny the bartender at Twains before it was a brewpub, told me about posole.  He said it was a stew, and pretty good. Along the way, I found recipes for it, but since didn't know what hominy was, it was always something I was a bit intimidated by.  Finally I had hominy, and got over that issue, but still never had posole.

D was looking for recipes and came across this one. Seeing as we had a ham hock in our freezer, we decided to try it.

I know posole is supposed to be a stew, but his came out thicker.  And that was fine, because really it just looked like chili, and that's not a bad thing.

Anyway, it didn't taste like chili.  It tasted like thick stew (duh!).  It was really good. I'm glad D didn't add the other can of hominy.  We both really liked.

*Hominy-  Now that was odd.  Kroger had 1 30 oz can of Hominy from a brand I never heard of (canned in Mexico) and 2 15 oz cans of Kroger Hominy.  So we wiped out the store with those 3 cans.  Even though we ended up not using 1 of the Kroger cans, you definitely could taste the difference between the 2 brands.  I would go with the 30 oz can if I can ever find the can of the brand I can't remember.

We would have this again.

Red Posole

Photo by ALB

Serves 8
Adapted from Homesick Texan

1 pound of dried posole or two 29 oz. cans of hominy, drained (Used 1 30oz can and 1 15 oz can...plenty)
1 pound of pork shoulder, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of lard, bacon grease, corn or canola oil (used Pam)
8 cups of water (can substitute part with beer or chicken broth for more flavor)- used beer and chicken broth
1 smoked ham hock
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano (can substitute regular oregano)-used regular
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
9 New Mexico chiles, stems and seeds removed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime

For serving:
One avocado sliced,
One lime cut into wedges
1 cup of cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup of diced onion
Tortillas and tortilla chips
(used macaroni and cheddar cheese)

If using dried hominy, soak the hominy a gallon of water for at least eight hours until it’s doubled in size. (just use canned!)

In a large pot, heat up the lard (Pam) and cook the onion for 10 minutes. Add the pork and brown on each side for a couple of minutes. Throw in the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Pour the water into the pot and add the ham hock, oregano, cumin, ground cloves and ancho-chile powder. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer.

Meanwhile, take your New Mexican chiles and cook on high in a dry cast-iron skillet until the pop, a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat, add water to the skillet and let the chiles soak until hydrated, about half an hour.

Drain the chile-soaking liquid, and place the chiles in a blender. Add one cup of water and blend on high until a smooth puree has formed. Stir the chile puree into the soup pot.

After a couple of hours, add the hominy to the pot along with the juice of one lime and the chopped cilantro. At this point, adjust your spices and add salt to the pot. Continue to cook on low for a couple more hours.

Pour into bowls and serve with diced onions, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, avocado slices and tortillas or tortilla chips.

Camembert Mashed Potatoes

A few years ago, D made these mashed potatoes.  They were quite good.  The Camembert was not overwhelming, but you could definitely taste it was there. Over the years, we have said we would have them again, but there is something hard about putting a really nice cheese into mashed potatoes (or I'm just cheap).

Anwyay, Kroger had Camembert marked down, so I picked up a wheel.  And we decided to have these.  They still taste like I remember.

We halved the recipe, since it was just the 2 of us.

Camembert Mashed Potatoes

Photo by ALB

The buttery taste and creamy texture of Camembert cheese glorifies these potatoes. Camembert is similar in flavor and texture to Brie, which makes a fine substitute. The rind is easiest to remove if the cheese is well chilled.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup)

1 1/2 (8-ounce) rounds Camembert cheese
11 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato (about 4 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh chives (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Cut cheese into 6 wedges. Carefully remove rind from cheese; discard rind. Chop cheese; let stand at room temperature while potato cooks.

Place potato in a large Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 12 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander; return potato to pan. Add cheese, milk, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper; mash with a potato masher until smooth. Garnish with chives and additional pepper, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 198; Fat: 4.4 g; Sat fat: 2.8 g; Mono fat: 1.3 g; Poly fat: 0.1 g; Protein: 7.9 g; Carbohydrate: 30.7 g; Fiber: 2 g; Cholesterol: 13 mg; Iron: 1.5 mg; Sodium: 310 mg; Calcium: 82 mg

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

Monday, January 4, 2016

Black Pepper New York Strip Steaks with Horseradish Sauce

I don't think it is any secret that I love steak.  We had planned on having filets for Christmas and Ribyeyes for New Year's Eve.  Stuff happened and we ended up moving everything to 12/31 and 1/2.
I found this recipe on the Weber Page.  I showed D.  He was all for it.  Using another cut of meat was not going to kill us.

D made everything.  There was plenty of sauce...much more than 4 servings.  The steak was delicious. You should make this.

We had with Camembert Mashed Potatoes.

Black Pepper New York Strip Steaks with Horseradish Sauce

Photo by ALB

From Weber's Charcoal Grilling™ by Jamie Purviance

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Grilling time: 6 to 8 minutes

3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 New York strip steaks, 10 to 12 ounces each and about 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl mix the sauce ingredients.

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat (450° to 550°F).

Lightly brush the steaks on both sides with the oil, and then smear the mustard on both sides. Season them evenly with the salt and pepper. Allow the steaks to stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before grilling.

Brush the cooking grate clean. To make crosshatch marks, lay the steaks on the cooking grate over direct high heat as if they were the small hands of a clock pointing to ten o’clock. Close the lid. After two minutes, lift the steaks with tongs and rotate them so they point to two o’clock. Close the lid and let them sear for another minute or two. Flip each steak and continue to cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes for medium-rare doneness. Remove from the grill and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve the steaks warm with the sauce on the side.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Caramel Cream Cake

I made this cake for Christmas. Unbeknownst to me, my father went to Sam's Club and bought an Italian Cream Cake. Now (despite not having a picture), the Sam's Club cake was a lot prettier. However, the tastes depend on the person.

The Sam's Club cake was very sweet. So only a small piece was needed. The Homemade Cake...A big piece was fine. There's the comparison.

As for the Caramel Cream Cake in general, I'm on the fence about it. I didn't find it overly sweet. I'm not sure what the "pecan pie filling" was about. The cake was fine, but it was a little tedious to have to break out another bowl, and a hand mixer to beat the egg whites for the batter. Thankfully, I had read the instructions for each part beforehand, so I knew to use my big mixer and the hand mixer. But if I had only had one, and not the other...this recipe wasn't going to happen.

The other thing...growing up, I was not a fan of cake. I liked frosting, so usually, I cut around the cake, and just ate the frosting. I found myself doing it with both cakes.

And Saturday, I told D that this was a cake that could sit in my house, while not feeling tempted. Oddly, I think he agreed because I ended up throwing the cake out on Sunday (yes, over a week after Christmas) because it had mold on it.

So, it was good, but not worth the effort, especially if your dad is going to buy a cake from Sam's Club that you can just eat the frosting off of.  And I have no idea what I'm going to do with 2.5 sticks of shortening.

Caramel Cream Cake

Photo by ALB

This three-layer butter cake has a pecan-pie filling in between the cake layers, a rich cream cheese frosting, and a topping of sweet coconut and chopped pecans. It's a great dessert for holiday entertaining.

Yield: Makes 12 servings

1 cup finely chopped sweetened flaked coconut
Pecan Pie Cake Batter (see below)
Pecan Pie Filling (see below)
Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted Garnishes: raspberries, fresh mint sprig

1. Stir 1 cup finely chopped coconut into Pecan Pie Cake Batter; spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans.

2. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

3. Spread Pecan Pie Filling between layers. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top and sides with toasted pecans and toasted coconut. Garnish, if desired.

Pecan Pie Cake Batter

Yield: Makes about 6 cups

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

1. Beat 1/2 cup butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well until blended. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

2. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in pecans.

3. Beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form; fold one-third of egg whites into batter. Gently fold in remaining beaten egg whites just until blended. Use immediately.

Pecan Pie Filling

Yield: Makes about 3 cups

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a heavy 3-qt. saucepan until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and vanilla. Place a sheet of wax paper directly on surface of mixture to prevent a film from forming, and chill 4 hours.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: Makes about 3 cups

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended; stir in vanilla.

Southern Living, DECEMBER 2006