Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Week 7: NJ Crumb Cake, Reuben Dip and Yellow Squash Casserole

The Patriots barely beats the Jets this week in overtime, 26-29.  The win moved the Patriots into the leading spot in their division, but with a 4-3 record, that isn’t exactly worth writing home about.  Like the spoiled Patriots fan I am, I could not believe that the Pats blew another lead in the fourth quarter.  What the hell is going on?  While it is nice to WIN a close one (Not our MO this season,)  it would also be nice to not have a series of life threatening heart attacks every time the Patriots enter the fourth quarter of a game. 

Thanks to Gostkowski, the Pats tied it up with a FG in the remaining second of the game and then took the lead with another FG 4 minutes into OT.  As most of you know a TD would have won the game, but in OT, the other team gets a chance to respond to a FG.  The win came when Ninkovich, (who totally deserves a superhero name this season, I am working on it,) knocked the ball out of Sanchez’s hands and recovered the fumble.  

At this point, I was ecstatic because I dislike Mark Sanchez and I despise Sexy Rexy.  Crushing them into submission would have been better, but I will take a simple win any day.  The only thing that could have made me happier would be if I thought the end of the Sanchez vs. Tebow debate had finally arrived.  Personally, I don’t “like” either of them.  But if I had to choose, it would be Tebow any day.  At least I would have something good to look at. 

We started the day with some New Jersey Crumb Cake.  (For all the deep thinkers out there, I will help you out - They play in NJ.)  I have made a Coffee Cake before, but I think I like this better.  It’s incredibly simple to make, so take note of this recipe and whip it out to impress people next time you have company over for breakfast.  

New Jersey Crumb Cake

½ Cup Butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
¾ Cup Milk
2 Cups Flour
2 tsps Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla
½ Cup Butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Biscuit Mix
2 tsps Cinnamon

1. Cream Butter and Sugar in a large mixing bowl.  
2. In a separate bowl, beat together Milk and Eggs.  Add to Butter/Sugar mix.
3. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Slowly beat into wet ingredients. Stir in Vanilla and pour into a greased 9x13 Pan.
4. In a mixing bowl, cut Butter into Sugar, Biscuit Mix and Cinnamon.  Sprinkle over batter and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  

Rather than make Reuben Sandwiches for the game, Dan and I had a Reuben Dip.  Same stuff, just warmer and messier.  Making an entire batch for just the two of us was a mistake though. We could only eat about a ¼ of it, but what a good ¼ it was.

Baked Reuben Dip

⅔  Lb Corned Beef, thinly sliced
¾ Cup Light Cream Cheese
¾ Cup Shredded Swiss Cheese
¾ Cup Sauerkraut, drained
¼ Cup Light Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons Ketchup
3 Tablespoons Spicy Brown Mustard
Salt and Pepper, to taste  
Marble Rye, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
2. Spread in a lightly greased baking dish and cook for 30 minutes.
3. Serve with Marble Rye.

We also had a Yellow Squash Casserole with dinner.  Yellow Squash are native to NJ and I had been wanting to try this Food Network recipe for quite awhile.  It ended up being well worth the wait. If it is just the two of you, halve the recipe.  I think I am going to break this out again for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  

Yellow Squash Casserole

3 Yellow Squash, Chopped
1 Zucchini, Chopped
2 Carrots, Chopped
¼ Cup Unsalted Butter
½ Large Onion, Chopped
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1 ¼ Cup Ritz Crackers, Crushed
½ Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
2 Eggs, Lightly Beaten
Salt and Pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and butter an 8x8 Baking Dish.
2. Placed chopped Squash, Zucchini and Carrots in a saucepan.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to Medium and cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
3. Meanwhile, warm 3 Tbsp of butter in a medium skillet over Medium Low Heat.  Stir in Onion and cook until soft and translucent, approximately 8 minutes. Set onions aside and wipe down skillet.  Add the remaining butter and cook the cracker crumbs briefly until golden.  Set aside.
4. Drain the squash, mashing the vegetables just a bit.  Spoon into a mixing bowl with ¾ Cup Cracker Crumbs, Cheese, splash of Tabasco, and Onions.  Season with Salt and Pepper.  Stir in Eggs and spoon into the baking dish.  Top with remaining crackers and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 6: Seattle Dogs, Salmon Cakes and Applesauce Pudding

The Patriots lost to Seattle this week 23-24.  Hernandez returned to the game this week with a strong showing and the reliable Wes Welker had 10 catches for 138 yards.  Brady went 36 for 58 (yes... 58!) and 395 yards with 2 TD’s, but that was overshadowed by 2 Interceptions and a number of both overthrown and dropped passes. 

The surprise of the game was Seattle’s Rookie QB, Russell Wilson.  Wilson went 16 for 27 for 293 yards and 3 TDs, two of which came in the last 2 minutes of the game.  All in all, the game was entertaining to watch, even if it was heartbreaking in the end.  The Patriots are now 3-3, having lost 3 games by 3 points or less.  

Seattle is known for quite a few foods.  As I am allergic to shellfish, we chose to highlight Salmon, Apples and what locals refer to as “Seattle Dogs.”  For those native to MA, you know that after spending a night at the bars if you want street food you get a Sausage with Peppers and Onions.  The Seattle Dog is Washington’s version.  It is a hot dog put a on a Cream Cheese smeared bun and topped with Onions and Brown Mustard. I knew Dan and I wouldn’t want a bunch of hot dogs before dinner, so we made mini versions instead.

Mini Seattle Dogs

1 Tube Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Cocktail Franks
1 Large White Onion, Thinly Sliced
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Ounces Cream Cheese
Brown Mustard

1. In a large Saute Pan over Medium Heat, melt Butter and add Onion.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized.  Chop into pieces and set aside.
2. Spread out ½ tube of Crescent Rolls. Using a rolling pin, flatten to equal thickness.  Spread ½ of Cream Cheese over the flattened rolls.  Cut into 1”x3” Strips.  One at a time, place a small amount of chopped onions on one end of the strip, top with cocktail frank and roll up.  Place seam side down on a baking pan. Repeat until all Franks or Crescent Rolls are used.
3. Cook at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with Brown Mustard.

For the main course we made Salmon Cakes with Dill Sauce.  Based this recipe on one by Ina Garten of the Food Network.  I had made these before and thought they could use a few changes.  Ina instructs us to cook the veggies before mixing them in with the Salmon, but I prefer the veggies raw, it gives the cakes some texture.  I also replace the bread crumbs with Panko for the same reason.  You can find the original recipe here:

Salmon Cakes

1 Lb Salmon
½ Cup Green Onion, chopped
⅔ Cup Celery, Diced
⅔ Cup Red Bell Pepper, Diced
¼ Cup Dried Parsley
¼ tsp Tabasco Sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 ½ tsp Old Bay
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Mayonnaise
2 tsps Dijon Mustard
2 Large Eggs, beaten
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Cook Salmon for 20 minutes or until just cooked.  Set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl combine Celery, Bell Pepper, Parsley, Hot Sauce, Worcestershire, Old Bay, Panko, Mayo, Dijon, Eggs, Salmon, Salt and Pepper.  Mix together and let sit in refrigerator for 2 hours to marry flavors.
3. In a large pan over Medium/Medium High heat, melt 2 Tbsps of Butter with 2 Tbsp Olive Oil.  In batches of 2 or 3, form Patties, dust in flour and cook 2-3 minutes per side.  Place on paper towels to drain.  Serve warm. 

We capped the night with Applesauce Bread Pudding from Edible Seattle.  This was my first Bread Pudding and I was quite happy with the results.

Applesauce Pudding

4 Tbsp Butter, softened
6 Slices Sandwich Bread
1 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
⅓ Cup Raisins
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
⅓ Cup Brown Sugar (8 Tbsps)
2 Eggs
2 ½ Cups Whole Milk
½ tsp Vanilla
¼ tsp Salt

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Butter an 8x8” Pan and Butter the bread on one side.
2. Arrange half of the buttered Bread, butter side up, in one layer that evenly covers the bottom of the pan, cutting the bread as needed.
3. In a small bowl, mix together Applesauce, Raisins, Cinnamon and 2 Tbsps Brown Sugar. Spread over the Bread in pan.  Cover with second layer of Bread.
4. Whisk Eggs and Milk together.  Add Vanilla, Salt and remaining Brown Sugar, whisking until combined.  Pour over the bread. Let sit for a few minutes so the bread will soak up the Milk Mix.  Bake for 50-55 minutes.  Let cool to set before serving. 

Happy Cooking!

Week 5: Rocky Mountain Stew and Avalanche Bark

What a game! I don’t know anyone who wasn’t excited to see the most recent Brady vs. Manning rematch.  Despite team loyalties, you have to admit that these are two of the top quarterbacks in the game today.  And as usual, they did their best to put on a great show. 

I was nervous going into the game.  If you have previously read any of my blog posts, you must know that I consider Tom Brady to be the best quarterback in the league. What you may not know is that I consider both Peyton and his brother Eli to be right behind Tom in that category.  That being said, I was nervous because Denver’s defense kicks serious ass and ours... well, ours doesn’t.  I think we might have the worst secondary in the whole league.  I know people say it all the time, but I haven’t seen any facts to defend that statement.   I would confirm it by looking it up, but it’s one of those “I don’t really want to know” situations.

Anyway, the Patriots played a great game to beat the Broncos 31-21.  The Patriots set a franchise record with 35 first downs, with Brady going 23 for 31 for 223 yards.  Props to the Patriots defense who caused 3 Bronco fumbles and to Wes Welker who had 13 catches for 103 yards.

To honor the Broncos we made Rocky Mountain Stew and Avalanche Bark.  The Rocky Mountain Stew didn’t look as appetizing as I was hoping but was surprisingly delicious.  I usually make my beef stew with Tomato Juice or V8, but Dan enjoyed this version calling it the “beefiest” beef stew we have made yet.  I got the original recipe off of AllRecipes, but made a few adjustments before posting.  First, I don’t believe in making any soup or stew with water when you could just as easily up the flavor by using chicken or beef broth, so I switched out the water for chicken broth. Also, Dan and I don’t like pearl onions.  Even when we make Creamed Peas, we use regular onions.  I replaced the Pearl Onions with ½ a chopped white onion, added to the beef at the beginning rather than at the end.  You can find the original recipe here:

Rocky Mountain Stew

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Lbs Sirloin Tips, Cubed
4 ⅔ Cups Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp Salt
1 tsp Lemon Juice
¼ tsp Paprika
I Clove Minced Garlic
1 tsp White Sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Bay Leaf
4 Potatoes, Cubed
6 Carrots, Chopped
½ Large White Onion, Minced
½  Cup Flour
5 Ounces Frozen Baby Peas, Thawed

1. In a large pot over Medium Heat, warm oil and brown Sirloin Tips and Onion.  Pour 1 Cup of Broth over the meat and drippings and stir, cooking for 2 minutes until a gravy forms.  Stir in 3 Cups Broth, Salt, Lemon Juice, Paprika, Garlic, Sugar, Worcestershire and Bay leave.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 - 2 ½ Hours.
2. Stir in Potatoes and Carrots, simmering for 20 minutes or until tender.
3. In a small bowl, combine Flour with remaining Broth.  Stir into stew and cook until stew thickens. Add Peas 5 minutes before serving. 

For Dessert we made Avalanche Bark.  The following is a copycat recipe from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  This is SUPER rich, so I would suggest cutting it into small pieces.

Avalanche Bark

½ Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
3 ½ Cups White Chocolate Chips
2 Cups Rice Krispies
1 Cup Mini Marshmallows
½ Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.

1. In a double boiler over medium heat, melt White Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter, stirring constantly.  Set aside to cool.
2. Stir in Rice Krispies and set aside until mixture is room temperature.
3. Fold in Marshmallows and Chocolate Chips. Do not overstir.  
4. Smooth into a greased or wax paper lined 9x13 pan.  Smooth out the top with wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until hard.  Cut into small pieces and allow to sit for a few minutes to soften. 

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Week 4: Caprese Bites, Buffalo Wings and Kielbasa Sauerkraut Balls

What a second half!  Looks like the return of the refs was good luck for Bill Belichick, who now has 194 career wins, moving him into 8th place in that category. 

The Patriots snapped their losing streak this week, absolutely killing the Buffalo Bills in a 52-28 blowout.  The first half, and even the beginning of the third quarter, had me biting my nails as Buffalo and New England went back and forth with Buffalo amassing a 14 point lead with 11 minutes to go in the Third Quarter. Then all hell broke loose.  And by Hell, I mean Tom Brady.   The Patriots scored 6 TD’s in a row and 45 points total in the second half, the most in franchise history.   Brady went 22-46 for 320 yards, Ridley had 2 TD’s, Welker had 9 catches for 129 yards and Gronkowski chipped in with 5 catches for 104 yards.  Add to that the defensive plays of Ninkovich and Devin McCourty, who had 2 interceptions, and the Patriots were almost unstoppable in the second half. 

Rather than having a Margherita Pizza like we did last time we played Buffalo, we used most of the same ingredients to have little Caprese Bites.  

Caprese Bites

24 Cherry Tomatoes, washed and halved
8 Basil Leaves, cut into thirds
14 Cubes Fresh Mozzarella
Kens Italian Dressing (Or Olive Oil)
Balsamic Vinegar

1. For each toothpick, slide on one half cherry tomato, ⅓ leaf basil, 1 cube Mozzarella and the second half of the tomato.  
2. When all the ingredients have been used, drizzle first with Kens Italian Dressing then lightly drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Serve immediately or let sit in refrigerator until ready to eat.
We used this Baked Buffalo Wing Recipe last time we played, but we loved it so much we made it again.  

Baked Buffalo Wings

¾ Cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Cayenne
½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ teaspoon Salt
20 Chicken Wings
½ Cup melted Butter
½ Cup Hot Pepper Sauce (such as Frank's RedHot®)

1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly grease with cooking spray. Mix the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt in a large ziploc bag and mix. Add the chicken wings, seal, and toss until well coated. Place the wings onto the prepared baking sheet, and place into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Whisk together the melted butter and hot sauce in a small bowl. Dip the wings into the butter mixture, and place back on the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes. Turn the wings over halfway during cooking so they cook evenly.

I got this recipe for Kielbasa Sauerkraut Balls from my friend Lillian Russo.  Lillian writes her own blog, My Recipe Journey, which can be found here:

Kielbasa Sauerkraut Balls

1 Pkg Hillshire Farms Kielbasa, diced
½ Large Onion, minced
1 Can Sauerkraut, rinsed and chopped
1 8oz Pkg Cream Cheese, softened
2 Cups Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1 Large Egg, beaten
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
Yellow Mustard

1. In a large skillet, cook Onions and Kielbasa in 1 Tbsp Oil until onions are soft. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Combine Kielbasa and Onion mixture with Sauerkraut, Cream Cheese and Cayenne Pepper.  Mix well and chill for 2 hours in refrigerator.
3. Once chilled, roll mixture into 1” balls.  Dip into Egg then Breadcrumbs.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 and serve with Yellow Mustard. 

Happy Cooking!

Week 3: A Chicken Box and Berger Cookies

What a doozy.   We lost, but I am still proud of the team.  This was probably the most physical game the Patriots will have to play all year, and they gave as good as they got.

Let me start by saying my heart goes out to Baltimore’s Torrey Smith, whose younger brother passed away not 24 hours before the game in a motorcycle accident. Torrey played a fantastic game in honor of his brother, notching 2 TD’s and 127 yards.  Tom Brady passed Joe Montana on the career yardage list to take spot number 12, but it wasn’t enough to complete with Baltimore’s total of 503 offensive yards.

The game was a shit show from the start.  Baltimore and New England set a new record by amassing 12 penalties in the first quarter alone.  The replacement refs must go.  Belichick himself was quite upset with the refs and could be seen grabbing the arm of one after the game to continue yelling.  That’s gonna cost him..... 

For tonight’s game, we made our own version of Baltimore's Chicken Box.  An everyday Chicken Box consists of 6 Chicken Wings, Fries and is served with Hot Sauce.  Drink it down with a Half and Half, (Half Iced Tea, half Lemonade, known to us Northerners as an Arnold Palmer ) and you have a complete meal.  

Fried Chicken

1 Whole Chicken Cut Up
2 Quarts Water
2 Cups Salt
2 Cups Buttermilk
1 Tbsp Tabasco
3 Cups Flour
2 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Cayenne
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Dried Basil
Oil for Frying

1. In a large bowl, combine Salt and Water. Soak Chicken Pieces for 3-4 Hours.  
2. Drain and rinse chicken.  Place in a bowl.  Combine Buttermilk and Tabasco, pour over chicken.  Let sit at least 1 hour.
3. Heat oil to 375.
4. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  One at a time remove chicken pieces from Buttermilk mixture, shaking off excess buttermilk, and roll in the seasoned flour. Place 2-3 pieces in the oil at once and cook 7 minutes for Drumsticks, 12-14 for breasts.  Let drain on paper towels after removing. 

For the French Fries I cut them and let them sit in salt water for about 2 hours, then drained and dried them.  I tossed them with a mix of Old Bay, Pepper and Basil before tossing them into the oil.

For dessert we made Baltimore’s famous Berger Cookies. These are a cake like cookie almost like NY’s Black and White’s.  I got the recipe straight from King Arthur Flour’s site and did not make any adjustments.  While the cookies were good, I don’t want to lie, mine were ugly.  (I am sadly, not a baker.)  For that reason, the picture below is not mine. :(  I was too embarassed.  It is the picture that came with the recipe.  Enjoy!

Berger Cookies

1 Cup Unsalted Butter
1 ½  tsps Salt
2 tsps Vanilla Extract
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 ½ Cups Sugar
3 large Eggs
4 ½ Cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Milk
Rich Chocolate Icing
3 ½ Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
4 oz Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
2 Tbsps Light Corn Syrup
4 Tbsps Unsalted Butter
1 ½ Cups Heavy Cream

1. Preheat oven  to 450.
2. Cream together Butter, Salt, Vanilla and Baking Powder in a large bowl.  Beat in Sugar, then Eggs, one at a time.
3. Add Flour to the wet ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.
4. Drop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets in 1 ½” circles.  Flatten with knife or bottom of a pint glass.
5. Bake for 11 minutes.  Cool on pan for 5 minutes then transfer to rack.
6. Place the chocolate chips, baking chocolate, corn syrup, butter, and cream into a large microwave-safe bowl, or into a large saucepan. Heat the mixture till it’s very hot; the cream will start to form bubbles. Remove from the heat, and stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature; this will take at least a couple of hours, so plan accordingly. When completely cool, beat with an electric mixer for 6 to 7 minutes, until the icing lightens in color just a bit, and thickens just slightly.
7. Spread each cookie with 3 Tbsp Icing. 

Happy Cooking!