Archive for the ‘Main Course’ Category

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A Great Sandwich

August 30, 2011

We’ve been watching a new show on the Food Network.  I know I’ve mentioned before that we watch some of their programs.  It’s been more or less been by default lately.  There aren’t a lot of family friendly shows out there that will entertain all of us, and let’s face their programing lately has left a lot to be desired.

We’ve watched the Next Food Network Star for a number of seasons, but we haven’t liked the winners, until now.  The show we started watching is the Sandwich King.  Now, granted there have only been 2 episodes, but it isn’t bad.  It isn’t great, but the concept is something I can get behind.  Remember my Panini press?  Plus, the guy is from Chicago.

The first episode was about Italian Beef sandwiches.  It’s a sandwich that is much loved in these parts and is cause for as much debate as pizza.  What I love about this sandwich is that, although it’s not as great as getting a beef sandwich from your favorite beef stand, it does come in a very close second.  If I had a commercial grade meat slicer tucked away somewhere, I would probably reevaluate my opinion.  Really it’s that good, plus the smells coming out of the kitchen are intense.

I’ve made Italian beef in the crock pot before, but I loved the braising of the meat.  It gave it a great crisp, plus the flavor of the jus was out of this world.

Oh, and did I mention that Meeshie loved the sandwich?  She’s on a kick lately that involves dissecting any sandwich she eats.  She has a plan, insides first and then maybe she’ll eat the bun.  I don’t like it, but I tolerate it.  This sandwich, though, was eaten in its entirety, and as presented.  I was more than happy.

Oh, and I would have made the Giardiniera, but I had a vat of it from one of our trips to Costco.  Next time.  We like it hot and sweet with cheese.  You can add cheese to the sandwich, such as provolone or mozzarella.

Italian Beef with Sweet Peppers

  • 1-3 1/2 lb Boneless Beef  Chuck Roast
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground Pepper, to taste
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 medium Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 T dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 t Crushed Red Pepper
  • 6 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C dry red Wine
  • 2-14 oz cans of Beef Broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Sweet Peppers:
  • 4 Green Bell Peppers, seeded and cut into strips
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 t Granulated Garlic
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground Pepper, to taste
  • 4 soft, hinged sub or hoagie rolls, 4 inches

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and position a rack in the middle position.

Liberally sprinkle the entire roast with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides until golden and caramelized; reduce the heat if the fat begins to smoke. Transfer the roast to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add in onions and saute, stirring occasionally until just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze  with the red wine and cook until the alcohol smell is diminished, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the beef broth and thyme, bring to a simmer. Adjust the seasoning of the jus. Place the roast back into the pot, with any accumulated juices, cover and place in the oven. Cook the roast, turning every 30 minutes, until very tender, 2 to 4 hours.

Transfer the roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Strain the jus through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and return back to the pot. If you feel there isn’t enough jus, add another can of beef broth and adjust the seasoning.  Bring to a simmer and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Once cooled a bit, pull the meat into smaller chunks and reserve for the sandwiches.

For the sweet peppers: Toss the pepper strips with the oil, granulated garlic and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring halfway through, until lighter in color and soft, about 20-30 minutes.

Simmer the jus until very flavorful and hot. Place some beef on a roll, then some sweet peppers and then some Homemade Hot Giardiniera. Take the whole sandwich and quickly dunk in hot jus.

Here’s the link to the original.

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Ribs

July 20, 2011

Since our trip to Memphis last summer, my husband has been obsessed with barbecue. He has made sauce and tried smoking ribs. When we were first married, he had a smoker. He even smoked a turkey in it one Thanksgiving, but he soon got rid of it. It was too much work and it took forever to smoke the bird.   Now, everywhere we go he looks at smokers, forgetting the work and the time he put into something that no one was impressed with. I suppose that if he had a better experience with that turkey we would still have that smoker, but that didn’t happen.

My husband has since been able to recreate as much as he can the taste of the best barbecue he ever had last summer. I say that because every meal we had in Memphis was awesome. My husband is a lover of ribs and Memphis has great ribs. Not tourist ribs, good local ribs. A few times we asked either a policeman or bartender where to have the best ribs.  Those are the people who know where the good food is. I look at it this way, when people from out of town come to visit, I don’t take them to Uno’s for pizza unless they ask.

In my husband’s quest for barbecue, he’s also been experimenting with sauce. I think he’s nailed it with this one. He was looking for one that doesn’t use ketchup and between the two of us, we found it.  This sauce is perfect for ribs.

We’ve been using a slightly different method to cook ribs that gives it more of a smoked flavor.  These ribs are so tender, you don’t even need to cut them with a knife.

Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 C Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 6 t  Sugar
  • 4 T  Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 t, Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 1/2 t, Dry Mustard
  • 1 1/2 t, Paprika
  • Juice from 1 Lemon
  • 1 t Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 T Honey
  • 2 T Balsamic Fig/Chili Vinegar

Combine all ingredients into a medium-sized pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 2 hours or until thick.

Apply to chicken, ribs or pork chops.  Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight glass container.

I found the recipe here.

Barbecue Ribs

  • One slab Pork Loin  Backribs

Preheat the grill.  Grill both sides of the ribs to achieve the desired grill color , about 6-7 minutes per side.  Remove the ribs from the grill and wrap in foil.  Turn off a portion of the burners and place the ribs on the coolest side of the grill.  Continue cooking for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours (we check at the 1 1/2 hour mark), keeping the grill temperature between 335 to 350 degrees.  Remove the ribs from the foil, add barbecue sauce and grill for an additional 3-5 minutes per side, until the sauce starts to caramelize.  Serve the ribs with your favorite sides.

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Citrus Garlic Shrimp

July 5, 2011

Yesterday was the 4th of July, and like you I had plans.  I had plans to barbecue.  Then I had plans to watch the fireworks in town.  We tailgate with our neighbors every year and enjoy the display.

My plans were altered slightly yesterday morning while I was watching the news.  They showed this wonderfully easy shrimp dish.  I knew I had to alter my plans to make it.  For some reason, though, the recipe wasn’t posted.  No worries, I knew I could recreate it.  I’m so glad I did.

This shrimp dish is so simple and quick.  Although, that is the beauty of shrimp.  It’s a quick meal.  The hardest part is prepping the shrimp, and I’ll admit that I purchased a pound bag of shrimp that was the easy peel.  Please don’t judge, I live in the midwest and sometimes it’s just easier to buy the raw frozen easy peel shrimp.

I love the color in this dish too.  The peppers really make it pop.  We had various other items with this dish yesterday, but this would be awesome on a bed of pasta, or some rice, or a large salad.

Citrus Garlic Shrimp

  • 1 lb Raw Shrimp, cleaned, deveined and peeled (I used a bag of 16/20)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Lime
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Red Onion, sliced and quartered
  • 1/2 each of Red, Yellow and Orange Peppers, sliced
  • Truffle Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep the shrimp and set aside.  Juice the lemon and lime and place in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper to the juice.  Place the shrimp, peppers and onion in a large bowl, with a lid, or use a large Ziploc bag.  Whisk the juice and oil mixture together and add to the shrimp mixture.  Marinate for one hour.  Do not marinate longer or the shrimp will start to cook.  Take a medium to large-sized foil pan, poke holes in the bottom and place on the grill 15 minutes before you are ready to cook the shrimp.  Add the shrimp to the hot pan and cook until the shrimp is done.  The shrimp will be done once it changes color from grey to pink.

Enjoy!

Next time, I’m adding some fresh basil!

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An Unusual Twist On An Old Favorite

April 21, 2011

I came across this recipe last week and knew I had to try it.  The unusual preparation really caught my attention. 

Let me also state that Meeshie is not a fan of mac and cheese unless it comes in the blue box.  That’s not only sad, but frustrating.  There are so many great mac and cheese recipes out there that I look at, wishing I could make them.  And I guess that I could, but that’s a lot of mac and cheese.

This recipe is unique because you boil the noodles in milk and you don’t make a roux.  Dont worry though, it’s still creamy and thick without the roux. 

The best part was, Meeshie enjoyed it.  She still insists the blue box is the best, but she ate this up!

Let me also point out that I used penne pasta because I didn’t have any elbow macaroni.  I also used two kinds of cheese, sharp cheddar and Dubliner Irish cheese.  I wanted to use up the Dubliner cheese that I had in the fridge so that’s why I used two cheeses.  And because I did that, I placed some cheddar cheese on top of the macaroni before putting it into the oven.  I also used a very small amount of bread crumbs and would probably skip them next time.

Oh, and did also mention this recipe is pretty easy?

Civil War Mac and Cheese

  • 4 C Milk
  • 2 C Elbow Macaroni
  • 4 T Butter
  • 2 C, packed, grated cheddar cheese
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 C Bread Crumbs
  • Salt, for the macaroni

Heat the milk and salt in a large saucepan until steamy. Stir in the dry macaroni and let the milk come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer.  Pay attention while the macaroni is cooking in the milk as the milk may foam up and boil over.  Cook the macaroni for about 15 minutes or until done, the macaroni will absorb most of the milk.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  As soon as the macaroni is done, remove from the pan and put inside a casserole dish.  In the used sauce pan, place the butter and stir in the grated cheese, pepper and nutmeg.  Once the cheese has melted, pour the sauce into the macaroni and milk mixture and stir to combine.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Serve with a salad or use this dish as a side instead of potatoes.

Here’s the original.

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A Weekday Pasta

April 5, 2011

Do you ever get in a pasta funk?  I do.  We love pasta, but sometimes I feel like I’m making the same dish all the time.  You know, like Wednesday is Prince spaghetti day.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to know the day of the week by what we are eating.  Sure, I like to plan meals ahead so I can adjust my trip to the grocery store, but I do like my variety too.

This is a great pasta dish using bowtie pasta.  It’s a perfect complement to the chicken pieces and the mushrooms.  I also like this dish because you’re only using one large skillet.  I’ve also made this dish and added about 1/2 C of half and half to the sauce. 

Quick, easy and hearty, what more could you ask for during the week?

Chicken with Bowties

  • 1 lb Mushrooms
  • 3 T Olive Oil
  • 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 Small Onion, diced
  • 1 lb Farfalle (Bowtie Pasta)
  • 1 C Red Wine
  • 1/2 C Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare the pasta according to directions.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T olive oil and add the chicken, salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken until browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan.  Add the remaining olive oil and the onion and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook until tender, stirring frequently.  Slowly add the wine and heat to boiling.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Add the chicken and cook for another 2 minutes or until chicken turns opaque.  Add parsley and parmesan and pasta.  Toss and serve.

 A perfect pairing with some crusty bread and some salad.

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Spanakopita

March 27, 2011

I love spanakopita.  I was introduced to this dish back in high school.  One of my good friend’s, at the time, mother made the best spanakopita.  The phyllo dough, spinach and dill really make this dish.  I don’t even mind that there’s feta in there.  It’s the perfect meatless meal.

I used to buy it from Trader Joe’s, and their version is pretty good, but now I don’t have to. 

I was able to make the filling a few days before assembly which made assembly a breeze.  This actually makes enough for two baking dishes.  I stick one in the freezer.  The other thing that I do is fold the phyllo in half to fit inside the dish therefore doubling each layer.  (There are about 24 sheets in a box.  I used 6 sheets for each layer which equaled 12.)  You can use butter instead of olive oil, but the oil is easier to work with on the dough.

Spanakopita

  • 1 pkg Phyllo Dough (#4)
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 lbs fresh Spinach, washed, trimmed and chopped
  • 8 Green Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 C Fresh Dill, chopped
  • 12 oz Feta Cheese, crumbled
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the filling:  Heat a large skillet and add olive oil.  Add the spinach and saute until wilted.  Remove from pan and place in a large bowl.  Add the green onion to the pan and saute for about 4 minutes.  Add the onion to the spinach along with the dill, cheese and eggs.  Combine well and add the salt and pepper.  Set aside to cool. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Unwrap the phyllo dough on a flat surface and cover with a damp towel.  Oil a baking dish.  Place half of the sheets in the bottom of the dish, brushing each sheet with olive oil as it is added.  Add the filling and then spread the remaining phyllo dough on top, again brushing each sheet with olive oil as it is added.  Cut into squares before baking and score the top in the shape of a triangle.  You can cut it into triangles if you wish to serve this as an appetizer, but if eaten as a meal I like to make them into squares.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

You can serve this hot or cold with your favorite salad.

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Twisted Grilled Cheese

March 24, 2011

I made these on my Panini, but it’s not mandatory. 

We love grilled cheese and I’m always looking for ways to enjoy it.  Remember the five cheese grilled cheese?

This sandwich is twisted because I used the spinach balls inside.  They were a perfect addition to the sandwich and easy to work with.  So simple, yet so good.  I love a meal like that.  I especially love it during Lent.  This is a perfect Friday meal served with a salad or your favorite soup.

Twisted Grilled Cheese

  • 2 slices of Sourdough bread
  • 1 slice Provolone Cheese
  • 2 -3 Spinach Balls
  • Marinara
  • Olive Oil

Preheat your Panini press.  Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the griddle.  (The parchment paper is for easy clean up.  Trust me.  This stuff rocks and prevents a hot mess.)

Assemble the sandwich by placing the provolone, spinach balls and a spoonful of marinara on one of the slices of sourdough.  Place the other piece of sourdough on top to make the sandwich.  Drizzle olive oil on top of the bread.  Place the sandwich, olive oil side down, on the griddle and drizzle additional olive oil on top of the sourdough.  Cover with additional parchment paper, pressing the Panini closed.  Cook for 5-6 minutes until cheese has melted.  Cut in half and serve warm.

Easy and delicious!

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Just a Side

March 15, 2011

I make this side every year for St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s a great way to serve cabbage, but I don’t limit this dish to once a year.  That’s because it’s a Polish noodle dish that has nothing really to do with St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s the bacon.  Bacon makes everything taste great.

Although the title of this post implies that this is a side dish, it’s more than that.  This can be served as a side but it is also a great main dish too.  Perfect for a potluck or a midweek meal.

I don’t really have a recipe for this one, kind of like my potato pancake recipe.  I more or less throw everything together and step back and enjoy.

Haluski

  • 1 Cabbage, cleaned and sliced thin
  • 1 Onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 1 lb Bacon, diced
  • 1 Bag of Noodles, I use No Yolk Extra Broad (8 oz)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

In a saute pan, saute the onion in butter or bacon grease for about 5 minutes.  Add the cabbage and continue to saute until wilted.  Set aside.  In a separate pan, saute the diced bacon until crispy.  Cook the noodles as directed.  Combine the bacon and grease to the cabbage mixture.  Add the cooked noodles, a sprinkle of salt and lots of pepper.  Stir to incorporate.  Place the mixture into a 9×13 pan and cook, covered, in a 350 degrees oven for about 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Something Expected

March 13, 2011

Every year, around St. Patrick’s Day, I make corned beef and invite my mom and my husband’s dad over for dinner.  They both are by themselves and I know that it’s not something they would make.  For a number of years, my friend Cathy has been kind enough to give me homemade irish soda bread.  My sweet Greek friend makes the best soda bread! 

I remember as a girl my mother boiling corned beef, this recipe is a far cry from that.  I made this on Friday for Saturday’s dinner.  I came home to the most wonderful smell in the kitchen.  It almost made me cry knowing I couldn’t even sample anything.  But it was totally worth the wait the next day. 

Corned Beef

  • 1-4lb Corned Beef Brisket
  • 1 t Garlic
  • 1 medium Onion, sliced
  • 4 Carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 3 Celery stalks, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 4 medium Red Potatoes
  • 1-12 oz bottle of Beer
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1/4 t Rosemary
  • 1/4 t Thyme

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Remove the brisket from the packaging and rinse.  Place the potatoes, celery, and carrots on the bottom of a deep 9×13 roasting pan.  Place the brisket, fat side down, on top of the veggies and place the onion on top of the brisket.  Sprinkle the garlic, rosemary and thyme on top of the brisket.  Add the beer, water and bay leaf.  Cover the pan with foil to form a good seal.  Bake for 3-4 hours, until fork tender. 

Remove from the oven.  Remove the brisket from the pan and refrigerate the pan and brisket over night.  Remove the visible fat from the brisket and juice and thinly slice the meat across the grain.  Return the sliced meat to the veggie mixture/juices and reheat covered until warmed through about 30-40 minutes.

Serve with mustard and horseradish, as well as your favorite rye bread, irish soda bread and cabbage. 

I have a great cabbage dish that I’ll be sharing later this week.  Think cabbage and bacon and noodles.

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A Near Miss, or Was It?

February 15, 2011

I found this recipe for a dish called baeckeoffe in a book a read recently.  I thought I would give it a try.

This is a type of stew that is usually made with pork, beef and lamb.  I must confess that I don’t like stew.  This version just had pork, which I like so I thought what the heck.  Leeks, pork and wine?  What could be better than that?  As it turns out, quite a few things.

Let me tell you that we didn’t like this dish and here’s why.  The gin.  The gin was a very strong flavor in this dish.  If you like gin, than give this a try.  It’s really simple to make.  I thought that if I made it again I would either cut down on the gin or omit it entirely and just add more white wine.  Good idea, except that my husband told me to never make this dish again.  This was, of course, while he was getting a second helping. 

Talk about mixed signals. 

I liked the tenderness of the meat.  I liked the tenderness of the potatoes.  I liked pairing it with some rustic bread and mustard.

I just didn’t like the strong flavor of the gin.

If I ever make this again, I would also season it more.  I used truffle salt at every layer, but I would use more of it.  The potatoes needed a slight boost in the flavor department.

Baeckeoffe

  • 3 Leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 C chopped carrots
  • 1 C chopped onion
  • 3 T minced parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 lb pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 3/4 C gin
  • 1 C white wine
  • 1 lb yellow potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine the leeks, carrots, onion, parsley, garlic, pork, gin and wine.  Cover and let marinate at least two hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and remove the pork from the fridge;  allow to come to room temperature while you slice the potatoes.  Lightly oil a 3.5 quart covered casserole, then layer half the potato slices on the bottom of the pot.  They can overlap slightly.  Season with salt and pepper, then, using a slotted spoon, remove the meat and vegetables from the marinade, reserving the marinade.  Layer them over the potatoes, and season with salt and pepper.  Cover the meat and vegetables with the rest of the potato slices, and season with salt and pepper.  Place the tomato slices over the top in a single layer.

Pour the reserved marinade over the whole thing, season with salt and pepper again, cover and bake for two hours, leaving the lid slightly off center to vent it.

Serve with bread and your favorite mustard.

The smell in the kitchen while this was in the oven was fantastic.  Seriously. 

We were so excited to give this a try.  We were also so disappointed when it didn’t turn out as we expected.  Has that ever happened to you?

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