Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spinach & Artichoke Mac and Cheese

In my usual form I tend to take forever to get around to doing things. I saw this on Rachael Ray one day when I had the ol tube on and it caught my attention.  So months later I decided to give it a whirl for dinner one night and see if it really stands up on its own.  Link to Rachael Ray's Page

I attempted this with the intention of using what I had on the shelf for the most part so some of my quantities (as usual) are a little off from what is spec'd in the recipe. (once again, this is normal for me)

  • Salt
  • 1 pound semolina or whole wheat penne
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped artichokes, defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
  • Black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Italian Fontina cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top 

  • I had a couple peppers in the fridge I needed to use so I added 1/2 an orange pepper and 1/2 a green bell
  • I had a small jar of artichokes.  So I just used this rinsed them real good and chopped them up to replace the frozen artichokes I could not find
  • I already had regular penne pasta so I just used it instead of buying the whole wheat

  • Boil Pasta in salted water till done
  • With a medium pot over medium-low heat add the Olive Oil and butter.
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook till soft, 10 min or so.
  • Start Oven with Broiler and rack near the center of the oven.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high, whisk the flour into the pan, before this burns whisk in the wine, cooking for another minute or two, just long enough to burn off the alcohol. 
  • Whisk the milk into the pan and bring up to a slight boil. 
  • Add the nutmeg, spinach, artichokes, salt and pepper and simmer until it thickens and veggies are warmed through
  • . Add all but 1/2 cup of each of the cheeses
  •   Stir until melted and combined
  • Toss the sauce with the drained pasta
  • Add to baking dish (I used a 13x9 and it fit well)
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese on top
  • I added the sliced peppers here so they would roast and add some pizazz to the presentation
  • Broil until cheese is melted and the top is golden brown 30-40 minutes
Serve as either a side or as a meal of it's own - bon appetit

    Saturday, November 7, 2009

    Egg Roll Stir-fry

    So this one is one of the wife's favorites, so about once every month or two I have to make it.  It came about when we lived in Albuquerque and we had not found a good oriental place to eat.  Looking to come up with a stir-fry that was healthy and cheap and tasted good was the mission.  Having a love for fried egg-rolls, spring rolls or pretty much anything fried off an asian buffett the simplest answer was to take the guts out of the egg roll and put them on rice.

    Ingredients list was based off reading some recipes for egg rolls online that I just concocted together somehow.

    • Half small head of cabbage (about 1 1/3 pound) shredded
    • large can of stir-fry vegitables (28 oz is what we used this time) otherwise use below
      • 1/4 cup waterchestnut, canned
      • 1/4 cup bamboo shoots, canned
      • 2 cups bean sprouts
    • 2 cloves garlic - minced
    • 4 ea - green onion
    • 1 ea - anaheim or pablano chili pepper - minced
    • 7 shitake mushrooms or small package pre-sliced
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon corn starch
    • 1/4 cup sherry wine (we have the cooking variey we have always used for this)
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
    • 1/2 pound shrimp (more if you like)

    (sorry forgot the picture until after I had already dove in)

    1. Heat oil in wok over medium heat
    2. add garlic and pepper - saute to bring out areomatics (2-3 minutes)
    3. add mushrooms and sherry - cook till mushrooms are softened
    4. add cabbage and onion, cook down 5-10 minutes
    5. add can of vegitables - drained
    6. add shrimp and stir
    7. push everything up onto the sides of the wok exposing a well in the center
    8. spray center with some cooking spray - crack eggs into well and scramble till almost done
    9. mix up ingredients with egg
    10. add sauce over mixture
    11. turn off heat, stir and cover till served
    Serve over brown rice with salt, pepper, and soy sauce on side

    w/o rice it is roughly 290 calories a serving

    Friday, November 6, 2009


    So the Stella is going to take forever in the dark before we get to enjoy it. But the good news is we were inspired by another beer locally that we both really liked. A local restaurant is pouring a unique Belgian Saison using telecherry Black Pepper and we just had to try this at home. So after searching and finally finding the pepper and making another trip to Adventures in Homebrewing we fired up the stove and 22qt pot to meld some flavors.

    link to original recipe: recipe

    The only changes we made to the mix were as follows:
    Eliminate coriander and paradise seed in favor of 1oz of Telecherry Black Pepper (Crushed using a rolling pin and plased in muslin bag with Orange Peel)
    Addition of some lemon peel grated, then 1/2 lemon peel sliced and placed in bag
    We didn't have any Irish Moss on hand for the boil so this first batch isn't going to get it. I"m debating still if I want to add a little paradise seed and pepper in the secondary. I'll decide on that when the time comes.

    Starting SG = 1.052

    Link to Wikipedia explaining a little about Saison Beer

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Mexi-Healthy Stuffed Peppers

    Most of my cooking comes from a spark of interest in foods I find at farmers markets.  Foods I've either tried in one way or another, knowing if I look at them again in a different light that the taste may not be the same. Canned food vs fresh cooked food provides two very different footprints on your palette in many cases. So to clarify my cooking fashion, I find food I'd like to make or have interest in  then scour the web briefly for inspiration into what I'd like to make.

    Tonight's dinner was no exception. One of the local markets which we really enjoy shopping at was closing down for the rest of winter (this is normal) so I scuttled up there on the last night to get the deals I could and to help out the local business. In my trip I found two very lonely pablano peppers keeping themselves company in a basket.  By lonely I mean this kid from Texas was walking by as they were yelling and whistling at me in Spanish. So I kindly picked them both up as there are 2 in my household, and placed them in my basket.  In this trip I also acquired a bag of sweet peppers (the long kind not bells) for $0.50 so I couldn't turn that down either.  I'll reveal the rest of the shopping experience in adventure cliffs to come.

    So back to the peppers, I found the bag of sweets on the counter this morning starting to go bad, and knew that if my bargain was not going to go to waste it had to be used.  So this brought on tonight's dinner, that and the timing for me to cook for the wife was good tonight.

    I found a link for Stuffed Pablano Peppers on elly says opa!. Like I mentioned before I take these as inspiration. I'm not always the type to measure ingredients and just kind of throw things together. The wife hates this as the next time it may not turn out the same, but...thats me.

    So here is the recipe as I made it (approximately)

    2 large poblano peppers + a few sweet peppers
    little canola oil for skillet
    1 small onion - diced
    2 cloves garlic - minced
    2 links Italian chicken sausage - (I used one spicy and one regular from Whole Foods)
    1/2 cup salsa (I bought a garden salsa in one of those plastic containers)
    1 cup corn (I like corn and had a 1/2 ziploc full in the freezer I wanted to use up / 1 can would also work)
    3/4 tsp. ground cumin
    1 oz. manchego cheese, shredded (about 1/3 cup), divided
    (this is one of those cheeses you find in the imported vacuum packed hard cheese section I just bought the smallest one they had it was $6 or so and just used the whole thing, we like good cheese)

    • dice onion
    • mince garlic
    • shred cheese
    • Peppers - slice, wash, and deseed (I like to slice mine either by a t slit or on small sweets just slice along the side to expose a cavity (parallel to the pepper))
    • Preheat oven to 375-400 (most ovens are not accurate, I'll discuss this more later)
    • Figure out side dish and prep that too (I'm bad about prepping so this is less stressful

     1. in cast iron skillet over medium heat cook oil until warm then sweat the onions and garlic
     2. cut the casings off the sausage and add the sausage to skillet (cook till onion is translucent and sausage is browned)
     3. Add corn, salsa, and cumin stir and simmer over low heat to mix flavors
     4. stir in some of the cheese
     5. When ready spray a baking dish to avoid sticking, I like to use a corningware dish with a tight fitting lid so when there are leftovers I can just put it in the fridge and not have to transfer dishes
     6. Stuff peppers with the mixture and place in baking dish with mixture face up.
     7. Top with more cheese and bake for 30-45 minutes to soften peppers and melt cheese.

    Serve with Mexican rice and beans. Delicious!

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    And were back

    So we have gotten back on the homebrew bandwagon briefly, between moves between states, the local homebrew shops closing shortly after arriving in different locations, and lack of space, we have finally decided to try it again.  By we I mean I have done this several times before but the wife is new at it.  Thanks to the great knowlegeable staff at Adventures in Homebrewing we have gotten re-educated and supplied with ingrediants.

    Our first batch to take off with is a clone of Stella Artois.  A beer I fell in love with while living in Leuven Belgium and have since been disappointed with how it taste when it arrives in bottle form in America.  Our trip to Europe together in 2008 also led my wife to really like this amazing brew.  So it was a fairly simple choice of how to start this homebrew phenomonon.

    The recipe we used was one I found online searching through homebrew forums.

    I’ve made this twice and I swear its the closest thing I’ve ever had to a Stella Artois, so I felt it necessary to share. For all those stella fans.

  • 3 gal of distilled water

  • 1lbs Cara Pils

  • 6lbs Mutons extra light

  • Wyeast 2007

  • 3/4oz of Perle @ 7.8%

  • 1oz Saaz @ 3.0%

  • 1 Hallertau German @ 5%Steep cara @ 150F for 45 min, then remove Bring to a boil and add 3/4oz Perle and 1/4 Saaz -after 45 min add 1oz of Hallertua -after 40 additional minutes add 3/4 oz of Saaz for 5 minutes The key is the distilled water. One of the secrets to a pils is the PH, its very low. SO use the 3 gal of distilled in the boil, then after the boil top up with tap or spring water to about 5 1/4.
    Let the beer at 70F until the fermention takes off, then primary ferment at 50 for 7-10days and transfer to secondary Then lager at 32-40F for six weeks Let go to room temp for a couple of days bottle or keg and lager for 4-6 more weeks below 50F

  • So as the first batch is sitting..........we wait