Friday, December 28, 2012

The Rogue Creamery Cheese Shop

Yup, I've been here 4 times in the past 6 years and it never gets old! On our trips to Oregon to visit the family, it's tradition. This year my daddy in law came with us, and he was definitely pleased!

The Rogue Creamery is locally owned and has been in business since 1933. Not only do they offer a full line of award winning local cheese, but they also have local wine and beer, and specialty foods from around the world ( like the yummy duck rilletes we got for the evening cocktail party!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sausage Pear and Gorgonzola Tart

My beautiful mother in law found an awesome recipe for a similar tart in Prevention magazine. Since my daddy in law loves pears, we thought we would make it for him on Christmas day! We devoured it!

It's definitely not the cleanest recipe, but it can certainly be modified for a healthier alternative. We decided to keep the recipe "dirty" and enjoy ourselves on Christmas day- nothing wrong with that:)

Here is the recipe, right from prevention Magazine- we used gorgonzola instead of Gruyere and made it larger by using a deeper pan (more meat too lol).

Heat oven to 400°F. Fit store-bought piecrust into 9" square or round tart pan and, following package directions, bake until lightly golden.
Remove 7 oz Italian poultry sausage from casing and cook with 1 small chopped onion in medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
Spread in prepared crust. Halve 3 firm-ripe pears lengthwise, core, and slice lengthwise (1/8" thick). Arrange on top of sausage. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyere.
Bake until pears are tender, about 25 minutes.
Serves 8.
NUTRITION (per serving) 247 cal, 9 g pro, 26 g carb, 3 g fiber, 13 g fat, 5 g sat fat, 335 mg sodium

Read more:
To make this leaner, use lean lean turkey or chicken sausage.
Make a whole wheat pie crust instead of the prepared dough we used. We were just saving some time for more holiday fun with the family.

Use a leaner cheese, just as light swiss of a bit of goat cheese.

We put a pretty nice dent into this tart-YUM!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stock your Freezer 102: Chicken Tamale Pie

Have you decided to stock your freezer yet? Maybe you just want to make a large batch of something to take some to a sick friend or neighbor. Whatever the case may be, you should definitely try this Chicken Tamale Pie recipe. Tired of chicken? try making it with ground turkey or beef. Again, all the kinks have been worked out (especially with the crust recipe!) so go ahead and challenge youself to stock up for the cold winter months.

Chicken Tamale Pie

For the Filling:4 lbs. chicken breast
1 quart chicken stock/broth for poaching
¼ cup finely chopped garlic, divided
¼ cup olive oil, divided
3 small zucchini or yellow squash, diced (about 6 cups)
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 orange bell peppers, diced
4 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. chipotle chili pepper
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
10-oz. bags corn

For the crust:5 cups yellow corn meal
3 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. baking powder
7 eggs plus 1 white
3 ½ cups milk
1 stick butter, melted

1. Place chicken and stock/broth in a large pot. Bring to a simmer (small bubbles form) ; reduce heat and poach for about 25 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Remove from liquid and set on large pan to cool. Reserve poaching liquid for another use. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, chop into bite size pieces. This step can be done a day ahead of time.

2. Set up a large pot (like the one you just used for the chicken)  and a large skillet on the stove. The large pot will be a place for adding your ingredients, once they are browned in the skillet. Cooking the vegetables in small batches allows them enough space in the skillet to brown.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the large skillet over medium high heat. Cook  squash, along with 1 tablespoon or so of the garlic, for 5- 8 minutes until browned. Transfer mixture to the large pot and continue cooking with remaining oil, garlic and vegetables (cook green and yellow peppers in separate batches).

4. Once all cooked vegetables are in the large pot. Add the 4 cans of tomato puree, the cilantro and the spices to the pot. Simmer until just heated through. Do not add the corn (unless you have space in your pot). My pot was filled to capacity.

5. Prepare cornbread batter. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a another large bowl. Stir together until smooth.

6. Build the tamale pies! Divide chicken among 4 lasagna pans. I use the foils pans for easy clean up. Next divide sauce between the pans, spreading for even distribution. Sprinkle corn over top (if you did not add it to sauce in earlier step). Finally, divide cornbread batter over top and use a small spatula to evenly spread batter over filling. Don’t worry if you can’t cover the entire pie.

7. To freeze, cover with foil paper and then “cater” wrap with plastic. This means to keep food sealed until time of use. To do this, pull a long piece of plastic wrap onto work surface (out of box) and place plan atop. Bring wrap up and around pan (on both sides) to completely seal. Repeat process to cover any gaps.
8. To eat right away, bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and internal temperature of
filling is 160F.

Feel free to top with a slice of jack cheese or a dollop of light sour cream (or both!)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stock your Freezer 101: Italian Wedding Soup

Large batch cooking is a great way to stock the freezer for the upcoming chilly winter months. Yes, the amounts listed below may be intimidating, but if you take it one step at a time, and stay organized (plan ahead) you can make this large batch in a timely manner, without spending the entire day in the kitchen. I made this batch for a client in less 2 hours (actually, 1 .5 hours!). I actually already spent time working out the ratios, even before testing the recipe, so you make sure this recipe works (my client will pleased). And you can’t just take any ol’ on line recipe and multiple by 4 to make a large batch like this one; it just does not work!
Here are some tips for easing into the process:
·         Get your shopping done the day before; this will help break up the tasks.
·         Clear some space in your refrigerator (and freezer), so that you are not scrambling when the time comes
·         Makes sure you have all you pots and pans ready to go. You don’t need excessively large pots for this since you are making it in the steps addressed below. One large pasta pot will suffice. The last 4 quarts of broth are not added until after you thaw and reheat your soups; this saves space when cooking and when storing (and cooling).
·         Use a food processor to chop your garlic (if using fresh) and the parsley.
·         Have you freezer containers washed and ready to go. I purchased 4 GladWare® containers (you can get them right at the grocery store), in a bright red holiday color, for my client.
·         Have fun with it and don’t stress; it’s ok if it takes you more than 1.5 hours, after all, I am a trained chef and thrive on being speedy!!!

Lay your non-perishables on your kitchen table; this way, you wont take up prescious space in your kitchen!

Italian Wedding Soup

Makes 16 quarts
For the Meatballs:¼ cup finely chopped garlic
2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 lbs. lean ground pork (or half Italian sausage)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup plain bread crumbs
½  cup finely chopped fresh parsley
4 eggs, beaten
For the Soup16 oz cups acini di pepe pasta, alphabet or stars
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
4 large carrots, thinly sliced
 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
8 quarts low sodium chicken broth, divided
20 oz. baby spinach (2 bags)

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Combine ingredients for meatballs in a large bowl. Mix well and use a small cookie dough scoop (or scant tablespoon) to shape meatballs. Place meatballs on 4 foil lined pans coated with cooking spray. Bake 2 batches at a time, depending on oven size, for about 20 minutes, until internal temperature is 160˚F. If you don’t have a digital thermometer, you should definitely invest in one. We have two, they are Taylor® 9842 certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF®). Remove from oven and cool slightly. Divide into 4 56-oz freezer safe containers such as GladWare®.

2. Cook pasta in a large pot of water until just tender, based on package directions. Drain in colander, return to pot and add 2 quarts stock (to help cool), along with salt and pepper. This base will be slightly salty and peppery but will be diluted when the remaining stock is added later in the process. Once cool, divided among the 4 containers. Place in refrigerator to begin chilling process. This will help drop the temperature while the remainder of the ingredients are prepared.
3. Next, place 1 quart of broth,  carrots and celery in a large pot. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.  If you were making a small batch of this soup, you could sauté the carrots and celery; for the large batch process, this makes for an easier step. Once vegetables are tender, heat over low and add spinach, 1 bag at a time, until wilted. Cool slightly.
4. Divide vegetable mixture among the containers. Use 1 quart of stock to top off the containers, until most of the ingredients are submerged. Adding the stock at room temperature also helps the cooling process. When working with large batches, cooling the food as quickly as possible is really important.
5. Return containers to refrigerator, uncovered, and cool for another hour, until temperature reaches about 70˚F. Next, cover and transfer to freezer.
6. When you are ready for some delicious soup, plan ahead and remove from freezer a day ahead of time. When reheating, add the additional stock, 1 quart per batch, until internal temperature reaches 160˚F.
7. If you like eggs swirled into your wedding soup, then beat together 2-3 eggs per batch of soup. Stir them in, once soup is hot, in a slow stream, until cooked and strands form. Serve with additional parmesan cheese if desired.

Ready for the freezer!
Yum! Homemade soup on a chilly evening:)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gluten-Free Power Bars

All Good Things Gluten-Free Power Bars

 Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 30 minutes Cool Time: 10 minutes
2 cups walnuts
1 ¼ cups dried apricots
¾ cup cherries
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup flaxseed meal
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 300F.

 Place walnuts, apricots and cherries in a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined.
Coat an 11X7 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Press mixture evenly into pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into desired size or about 16 squares. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then cut again.

These are are super nutrient dense and make a great on the go snack or treat!
I packed these for the hubby this morning for his trip to Albany:)