Thursday, December 11, 2008

Party Appetizer or Yummy Brunch: Sausage Balls

Mix together: 1 pound bulk HOT sausage:

2 cups Bisquick:

12 oz shredded cheddar cheese:

Mix together well. You probably have to use your hands. Even my stand mixer won't do this job.

Roll into 1" balls. You can now store these in the fridge for later baking if you like. (you can also freeze for a few weeks - just thaw before baking)

Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

A perfect appetizer or brunch entree. A Christmas morning tradition for us.

ratio: 1 pound bulk hot sausage to 12 oz shredded extra sharp cheddar to 2 cups Bisquick.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

101: Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

If you happen to have some leftover tortillas in your fridge, this is a great way to use them up. Also a great lower fat way to propel high fat dip into your mouth!

Preheat oven to 450.

Slice the tortillas into wedges. The pizza wheel is an excellent tool for this job.

Toss the tortillas in a big bowl with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. (Start with LESS then you think you need. It will normally be enough). I like to sprinkle on salt, paprika, garlic powder and fresh ground black pepper - but feel free to experiment.

Spread the tortillas on a baking tray, but only one chip deep. For this batch I had to do three trays. Bake for about ten minutes, but shake and turn them AT LEAST once during the ten minutes, and keep a very close eye on them in the last three minutes. Crispy and lightly browned is the goal, but there seems to be but 45 seconds between perfect and overdone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Leftover Steak Fajitas

Wait! You say ... someone who frequently talks about frugality has leftover steak? Well this steak was purchased in 2+ pound packages at under $2 pound, so YES - leftover cooked steak.

Slice the leftover cold steak into slices. Marinate in lime juice, cayenne or chili powder and garlic (fresh or powdered). Allow to marinate for at least a few hours.

Slice onions into thin slices, and cook at a high temperature until lightly browned. Add a bit of garlic (I just love those garlic ice cubes from Trader Joes!), and cook a minute or two longer. Remove from the pan.

Add the peppers (this half a pound of frozen bell pepper slices, thawed and drained), and cook until a bit of color is singed onto the edges. Remove them from the pan as well.

Bring the pan back to very hot, then sear the steak slices JUST BRIEFLY to warm and color.

Serve with refried beans or black beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole ... whatever you have on hand in your fridge and pantry. Serve with tortillas (if you like, warm them on your oven stone for a minute).

A very quick dinner from leftovers!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Some Turkey Leftover Ideas from the Archives

I live in a two person household, so it is rare I make a whole turkey. But I do have leftover chicken regularly, and the two are easily substituted for one another. In case you have a bit too much poultry this weekend, here are some ideas for using the leftovers:

Turkey Salad

Turkey & Corn Chowder

Nasi Goreng (fried rice)

Turkey with creamed spinach and artichokes

Lime-Jalapeno Turkey Wraps (just marinate shredded cooked meat in the limes and peppers overnight)

Buffalo Turkey Dip

Turkey Stock (freeze it for later if you don't care for soup this weekend)

Other ideas:

turkey quesadillas
turkey in white bean chili (add the turkey at the very end)
turkey on pizza

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Almost Homemade Pumpkin Pie

Another easy but much better than the original tip - (I stumbled upon this accidentally, when I had already mixed the pumpkin with spices around 10pm one night, and THEN discovered I had no evaporated milk):

When making pumpkin pie, follow the recipe on the can of pumpkin (not the canned pumpkin pie filling - I've never tried that). Replace the evaporated milk with half milk, half sour cream. Double the cinnamon. Add FRESH grated nutmeg. It really makes a difference!

Almost Homemade Stuffing

Here is how to make bagged stuffing taste really, really good:

Melt one stick of butter in a medium size pot (big enough for all of your stuffing - so if you are hosting 42 for dinner, you might need a large pot). Chop one onion and 3 stalks of celery into a medium dice. Cook these in the butter. Add fresh pepper and sage (fresh or dried). Then replace half the water (as per the bag) with a low sodium chicken broth (or homemade stock). Wala! Yummy stuffing.

If you need to then hold it hot in the oven: spoon it into a casserole dish but make sure NOT to smooth out the top. Dot with more butter, and pop it in. The top will get little crunchy bits.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is one of those old fashioned desserts that is also suprisingly good. Excellent for a showy dinner party, or for a Thanksgiving weekend brunch.

8 cups "good" bread - this was a mixture of old baguettes (I throw the ends in the freezer), and some leftover bread from take-out, which is a whole wheat bread:

5 eggs:
Add four cups of milk or some mixture of milk and cream (I used three cups milk, 1 cup cream), and 1 cup of brown sugar:

Add some grated nutmeg, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla:

Stir the liquid into the bread:

Pour into a 13 x 9 pan, and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes:

The top will be all puffed when you take it out:

Make a homemade cream anglaise sauce. WAIT who took this picture? Someone is daring to suggest I used melted french vanilla ice cream instead of cream anglaise sauce? Ok, so I did. I went and watched a movie while the bread pudding baked. Melted ice cream, if you look at the side, is often a custard. So melted ice cream is a very good fake for cream anglaise sauce. Don't tell anyone!!

Serve a square of bread pudding in a pool of cream anglaise, and with a dollop of whipped cream on top. (sorry for the dark picture - all the pictures with flash completely washed out the sauce)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Retro, easy comfort food: Tuna Melts!

Sometimes an easy hot sandwich just hits the spot, both in ease, budget and taste.

2 bagels or English Muffins, split and opened (if you hapen to score two asiago cheese bagels from the leftovers of a work meeting, all the better):

1 can of tuna, drained:

Mix in a squeeze each of mayo and relish (I do about half and half):

Divide between the four buns, and top with sliced cheese. (I used asiago and dubliner, but any cheddar, swiss, romano, parmesan or similar would be great):

I served mine with a leftover artichoke:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

pork, pineapple, peppers

Stir together in a crockpot:

2.5 pounds pork chops, seasoned with salt and pepper, seared for color, then cut into bite sized pieces

1 pound frozen pineapple, thawed (canned, in juice, would be fine too)

1 pound frozen pepper strips, thawed

2 large sweet onions, sliced into half moons

crushed garlic - 3-4 cloves, juice of two limes

1 can or two cups chicken broth or reconstitute bullion.

Starring diva ginger, with her back-up sisters, the pepperettes:
Cook for 6 - 8 hours in the crockpot on low. (about the time you start cooking rice, add some fresh ginger or some extra powdered ginger to the mixture to give it an extra kick)
Cook some sticky rice:
Serve by the ladleful, over rice:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

101: "Sticky" rice

Sticky rice, or jasmine rice, is extremely easy to make.

Into a small pot (one with a lid, preferably clear), add: 1 cup rice, 1.75 cups cold water. Swirl the pot a bit if you like, but DO NOT STIR.

Cover the pot and place on a burner set to medium heat. DO NOT STIR.

Bring the pot to a boil but (you guessed it) DO NOT STIR.

Allow to boil for a minute or two, and then turn the heat off. Do not lift the lid, do not peek, and DO NOT STIR.

After about twenty minutes your rice will be perfect!

For asian style dishes, use a spoon to place a scoop of sticky rice in a bowl or plate - but still do not stir.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baked Shrimp

I can't take credit for this ingenious recipe. It is only slighly adapted from my friend Kim's recipe. VERY, VERY good. The Southern resident ate his on a bit of quacamole in a tortilla this time around. And if you catch the loss leader sales on two pound bags of frozen shrimp, it won't even cost a small fortune to serve.

2 pounds shrimp - raw & peeled (these were from my freezer - I thawed and peeled them):

~ 1/2 cup olive oil
3 cajun seasoning
2 cloves of garlic, crushed, or a bit of garlice powder
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pinch cayenne
juice of 1 lemon or 3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

I didn't measure one thing for this recipe. Just splash it in a 13 x 9 pan:

Mix in the powdered spices and the shrimp. Allow to sit at least ten minutes. (Or a few hours in the fridge, if you're making this ahead for a dinner party)

Bake at 450 for about ten minutes. Shrimp will look pink when cooked:

Serve with a salad or vegetable and some bread to soak up the yummy sauce. (and if the hubby helps himself to guacamole and tortillas, that's fine too)