thegingerchef

Recipes from My Kitchen

Toddlers are not reliable food critics.

My kid loves pizza.  I love pizza.  Who doesn’t?  So I saw a recipe for Pizza Pinwheels (it was on some facebook post I saw about “7 things you can make with Puff Pastry”).  Well the store was out of puff pastry (darn you, Super Bowl parties!) but I thought crescent rolls would be a good substitute (and I was not wrong).

I was so excited – “I’ll make these for dinner”, I thought; “My toddler will inhale these,” I thought.  Well, I thought wrong.  One bite and from across the kitchen I heard “Eeeew, these are dis-GUS-ting, where are the other things I like?”  Meaning “where’s the real pizza, instead of this cheap-o knockoff?”  Kid, you don’t like my pizza-experiment, then you get fish sticks.  Kid approved of the fish sticks.  Kid 1, Mom 0.

But, there is always a silver lining.  In this case, there are a few of them!  One being, they are less than 5 ingredients and about 15 minutes to make – great for a snack, an appetizer, or (in my case today) breakfast.  Two, pretty cost efficient to make (I had 2 of the 3 ingredients on hand).  And three, I loved them.  In fact, the picture I took (below) was after I inhaled about 4 of them (I couldn’t stop myself).  Since they were mine, all mine, I saved a few for lunch today…and promptly ate them for breakfast (in fact…I started eating them in the parking lot, as I walked into work; I’m terrible).  So even though my pint-sized food critic was not impressed (she dips her green beans in ketchup, can she really be trusted??), this recipe is a keeper.  And, bonus – they were only about 50 calories per pinwheel (by using the Pillsbury crescent sheets).

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Keep in mind, the recipe below used Puff Pastry – which definitely holds its shape better than the crescent rolls… So mine may look a little wonky, but don’t let that deter you, they were delicious.

http://www.purewow.com/recipes/7-Party-Appetizers-to-Make-with-Puff-Pastry

ITALIAN PINWHEELS

Roll out the puff pastry a little to flatten it. Spread ⅓ cup tomato paste all over the puff pastry. Layer 4 ounces sliced soppressata on top of the tomato paste, overlapping each piece a little. Sprinkle ½ cup grated pecorino cheese evenly over the entire surface. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the whole thing into a tight roll. Slice the roll into ½-inch-thick pieces. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400°F until golden brown, 11 to 13 minutes.

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Martha Stewart is Never Wrong

Soooo, here I am again!  I was asked – twice last week, believe it or not – whatever happened to my food blog.  Well, as most people can relate, life happened.  I still cook; I still find unusual, or re-imagined, or comforting recipes; and I still experiment on my friends with new recipes (not all of them are winners, for certain).  But usually I get so wrapped up in the cooking, enjoying the process, or teaching my chickadee how to measure and pour that I forget to take photos, or write down what worked and what didn’t.   I truly am living in the moment, and I’m very unapologetic for that 😊.  But then some nights, I make something so good that tomorrow’s leftovers are in jeopardy.  That is tonight.  I made a lasagna – which of course brings to mind lots of richness, and heavy sauces – perfect for a cold evening, so I intenionally made about half a batch to deter eating a gigantic pan all by my lonesome.  Cause, let’s be honest…girl can eat.

Anyway, I have saved and bookmarked about two thousand recipes (that’s a very conservative estimate), and a lot of those come from a tried-and-true favorite, Martha Stewart.  Years ago, I subscribed to her “Everyday Food” magazine (also available at most grocery store checkouts).  This is great for a beginner in the kitchen – the recipes are fairly simple, no real unusual ingredients.  But her “Living” magazine is more creative, the recipes are a little tougher, and can be very involved (yet delicious).  Both sources also culminate at her website – a great resource for any kitchen questions you might have (I reference it frequently; and in fairness, my other go-to resource is Food Network).  I also follow Martha on Facebook, and that’s where some random ideas live; it’s a virtual grab bag of culinary suggestions, and I love that they organize it by category:  10 one-pot meals, 25 shrimp recipes, 85 things you can do with chicken!  Be careful, you can lose yourself in there 😊 (www.marthastewart.com).

This randomness is how I found tonight’s recipe: Rich artichoke and mushroom lasagna.  I picked it because I had most of the ingredients on hand, and really, I can’t turn down anything with artichokes in it.  I made some slight changes – I didn’t roast the mushrooms (I tossed them in at the end with the mix in the skillet), I figured they’d bake in the dish just fine and I was not disappointed – great flavor without being mushy; I used regular lasagna noodles instead of no-boil.

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http://www.marthastewart.com/338978/rich-artichoke-and-mushroom-lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 cups drained canned artichoke hearts (two 13.75-ounce cans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 recipe Basic Bechamel Sauce
  • 8 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan (3 1/4 ounces)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in middle and upper third. Divide mushrooms between two rimmed baking sheets. Toss each with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender, 20 minutes, stirring mushrooms and rotating sheets halfway through. Let sheets cool on wire racks.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add artichokes and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Add lemon zest, chives, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 3 minutes. Transfer artichokes to a medium bowl.

  3. Spread 1 cup sauce in an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 2 noodles. Layer with half the artichokes, then 1 cup sauce and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Top with 2 more noodles, half the mushrooms, 1 cup sauce, and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat layering with remaining ingredients, reserving the last 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover lasagna loosely with foil and bake on top rack until sauce is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. (Place a rimmed baking sheet on middle rack to catch any drippings.) Remove lasagna from oven and heat broiler. Sprinkle with reserved Parmesan and broil until cheese is browned and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before slicing.

This is why I like cooking far more than baking.  Baking is so precise, and with cooking I can easily throw everything in a pot and forget about it.  With these types of recipes, feel free to tailor to your tastes and needs.  I didn’t roast the mushrooms, nor did I broil it (I was starving by then!).   But remember – good, quality recipes will always be delicious.  And if you need a good one, Martha Stewart is never a bad choice.

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So nice, I made it twice!

This will be a very short post.  That’s how easy this meal is.  And it was so crazy delicious (I had it for dinner lastnight) that I just had to make it again.  It took about 10 minutes, and was very filling.  You could probably even mix and match ingredients, but definitely try it as soon as you can!!  (The recipe came from my Eating Light magazine.)

20140329_113007Ingredients
Chorizo (any flavor, I used regular/sweet, and for one person I just used one link)
Shallot, finely chopped
Cherry tomatoes – quartered
Chickpeas (I used half a can for each meal)
Snow Peas, Chopped (This wasn’t part of the recipe, but I had them, and they not only made it colorful, but added a really delicious crunch)
Cooking Sherry
Parsley

 

Sautee the diced chorizo and shallot in a pan with a little oil.  I removed the casing from the sausage before adding it to the pan.  After the meat is browned, add in the tomatoes, chickpeas, and peas.  Continue cooking over medium heat until the tomatoes break down.  Add in the parsley and 2 Tbsp of the sherry, then remove from heat (continue stirring for a minute or two).  20140329_113840

 

That’s it!  It’s so delicious, crazy good, and very low incalories.

 

 

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Apps for a Night Out

So a week or two ago I went out with my friend Theresa, which meant I got to make some appetizers 🙂  Three cheers for new recipe night!  I didn’t have a lot of time, so I found a recipe (ok, two of them) that were pretty quick, required very few ingredients, and were pretty tasty.  The first is a date log – this would be great served with crackers, cheese, and fruit.  It’s great for an appetizer for a gathering – it’s a very rich dish, but so easy you won’t mind making it.  The second is a ricotta-type empanada.  A great cheese dish, rich, but not over the top.

Date Log (http://thekiwicook.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/date-pecan-log/)

I only made half of the recipe – but it was really easy.  You don’t have to toast the pecans, they smell good, but if you’re short on time.   Toast the chopped nuts in the oven until they’re fragrant – about 10 minutes.20140314_174916Mix together the chopped dates, sugar, honey, orange zest and juice in a pot on the stove. 20140314_175459 Bring the pot to a simmer, until it thickens, then add in the pecans.  Here’s where I went wrong (don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, but I am ready to throw out all of the wax paper I own – it does me no good).  20140314_180557When the mixture has thickened, add to a sheet of parchment paper (not wax paper – do as I say, not as I do!) and mold into a log shape.  Chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve (remove and bring to room temp when you’re ready).  Don’t use wax paper – the log is *very* sticky and you can’t peel the two apart.  Parchment would work so much better, I just didn’t have any.  This will be a sticky mess, but if you slice it with a sharp knife on a wooden board/solid surface, it will be worth it.20140314_181731

 

The cheese empanada (or Maltese Pastizzi http://mediterranealicious.com/2013/11/21/maltese-pastizzi-my-way/) was super easy to make – thaw out some puff pastry and roll it out.  Mix ricotta with an egg and some cheese, salt, pepper.   Cut out the puff pastry with a ring mold (i.e. an upside down cup), fill with a tablespoon of ricotta mix, and then seal up.  Brush with an egg (if you have one, but not needed), and then bake.  That’s it!!

 

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Being helpful in the kitchen

I love dishes that require tomatoes – and the fresher the better.  In the winter time, that’s not always possible (and really, the tomatoes you get at the grocery store aren’t really “fresh” – nothing beats home grown!!).  The other thing these dishes require are tomato paste.   It’s like hot dogs and buns – they sell hot dogs in 10 packs, and buns in 8 packs.   This makes no sense.  Tomato paste is the same way – you only need 1-2 Tbsp, but they only sell it in small cans.  What do you do with the rest?!?!?

One solution is to buy the tubes of tomato paste (I’ve talked about those before), but they can be a pain – the tubing is a type of metal, and doesn’t want to roll up (think toothpaste tube) very easily, so you lose out on a lot of the paste-y goodness.  So here’s the next best thing:  use your freezer.

A long time ago I bought silicon trays for super cheap (you can always find them after holidays; our local JoAnn Fabrics is always 40-70% off, I get great deals there!).   I load up the trays with the leftover paste (I even buy the big can!!).  Use a spatula to fill in the tray – it’s ok to be messy, you can clean up with the spatula when you’re done by dragging it over the top to clear off any excess.

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Freeze for a day or so, and when they’re good and solid little pats, pop them out of the silicon trays and put them in a ziploc.  Store in the freezer.  Easy as can be.  Each little heart-pat is about 1 Tbsp, so when you need one for a recipe, you grab one or two and toss in the pan.  It’s a great way to not waste your leftovers!!

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Brought to you by the letter E, for Easy.

I don’t always use my crockpot as much as I’d like to – it can make a ton of food, and I can only do leftovers so many times.  Tonight I did an oldie-but-goodie, because it’s still chilly out, and reading books with my baby girl was more important than being in the kitchen 🙂

You will read the ingredients, and question them.  Don’t.  Just do it, and enjoy the results!!

Ingredients:
Pork Roast (no other cut will do)
White Onion
Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix (1 packet)
Can of Coke (regular, NOT diet)

Here’s a tip – if you can find the crock pot liners, buy them!!  It will make clean-up (and your life) much easier.  They’re in with the Zip-Loc stuff, and all they are are crockpot shaped plastic bags – just line the inside with one and fill with your ingredients.  Cleanup is easy – just remove the bag and throw away.

Slice up a white onion and line the bottom of the crockpot.  Place the pork roast on top (there will be a big layer of fat – you can trim it if you want to, but leave some of it).  Pour the packet of soup mix over the roast, then pour a can of coke (12 oz) in and around the pork.  That’s it!!  Cover and cook on low – go to work and forget about it!  The cola gives the pork a sweet flavor, and breaks down the meat really well.

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*This is the pork, with the soup mix on it – pre-cooking

I decided pork just wasn’t enough for dinner, so I made a potato dish to go with it.  It was also easy, but I rushed it and it didn’t turn out quite like it should have.  But still delicious 😉  Slice a potato on a mandoline, about 1/8 – 1/4″ thick.   (The recipe called for both white and sweet, but I just used white.)  In an oven-proof skillet, brush butter on the bottom, and put on the stove on low heat.  Layer the potato slices in overlapping circles with each other to complete the bottom layer.  Season with salt, pepper, parsley.  Keep adding potatoes in layers, adding more butter and seasoning.  Crank the heat up to medium/high and cook for about 5 minutes (get a good set on the bottom layer).  Put the whole skillet in the oven (covered with foil) @400 for about 15 minutes.  Then remove the foil and cook @450 for another 15-20 minutes.    Here’s where mine flopped:  You should be able to scoop the potatoes out of the pan by loosening the bottom, and slide them onto the foil from earlier.   Then, you put a plate over the foil and invert – you should have a pretty looking potato-pie.  Mine fell apart, so I just scooped them onto a plate.  Same difference 🙂20140127_162722

For a topping, mix sour cream (or Greek yogurt!) with a little lemon juice, zest, fresh dill, salt, pepper, and chives.   Scoop a little topping onto the potatoes on your plate.  Gives them a great little zing 🙂

 

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