Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rosemary Cheese Crisps

I love cheese.

The end.

I guess that's not quite enough for a blog post, is it?

So, let me expand on the subject.
I've been known to scrape that nice browned crispy cheese bit off of the pan after making a grilled cheese sandwich and eat it.  You know the bit I mean, it oozes out of the side of the sandwich and glues itself to the pan.  I love the browned cheese on top of a baked Mac and Cheese Casserole, heck, I've even 'fried' cheese in a pan, and it was good.
I like cheese.
 I've been dying to try making some crisp cheese crackers, or crisps if you prefer that nomenclature.
While looking at all the great dishes that were made for the Secret Recipe Club offerings this week, I started  drooling over a Stromboli recipe that In the galley had made and then my eye was caught (and it didn't hurt a bit) by a post called Zesty Parmesan Crisps with Pine Nuts.
I immediately bookmarked the recipe, then shamelessly copied it onto a new post here, but realized I was going to have to make it my own, as the Swallowtail Caterpillars had helped themselves to my parsley and there was none left.
I had some Asiago cheese in the fridge as well as some Parmigiano, so I grated them both up, grabbed some Pine Nuts that were trying to hide in the pantry, went outside and snipped some fresh rosemary.   And since it's Tapas Night this week, it meant I had a perfect opportunity to make them, and share.  It also meant I didn't eat them all by myself.  Which is a good thing, cause they're kinda more'ish. 

1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup Asiago
1/2 Cup Bruschetta Jack (a cheese from Sargento)
1/2 cup Pine Nuts
1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon flour (I think you could use rice flour or cornstarch to make this gluten free)

Freshly ground black pepper or cayenne for more heat.
2 Tablespoons parsley (mine was eaten by the swallowtail caterpillars so I didn't get any in there)

Heat oven to 400 deg.  Put the rack in the middle.  Get out one or two baking sheets and line them with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat or a teflon parchment sheet.  I have both, so I used both kinds, thanks to two of my siblings who gifted me them.  

Sorry, here's the rest of the directions.

Mix the cheeses, pine nuts, herbs and flour together.  Then go ahead and grind some fresh black pepper into it.  Toss, stir, mix it up.

Get your 1 tablespoon scoop out or just use a tablespoon, and scoop out a generous spoonful of the cheese mixture, place it on the baking sheet lined pan, mound it up a little.

See what happens when you don't tuck them in?

Tuck in the stray bits of cheese that are trying to escape, then flatten it just a little.  Space the mounds every three inches or so, these will spread out somewhat while baking.

Toss or mix the mixture in between baking each sheet, you want the flour to stay distributed.
Bake for about 6 minutes, until nice and golden.   Don't get distracted doing something else cause these can burn easily.   
Take out of oven, and if you do like I did, put the second pan into the oven.  Let the first pan sit for a minute or two, this helps the crisp to firm up a little, then transfer them over to a baking rack to cool completely.

Try not to sample too many of them, you do want to leave some for your guests.   This made just over three dozen.  That I counted, and that was umm, after sampling a few. 
Place them in a covered container, separate the layers with some wax paper.  They'll keep for up to three days.  You can also freeze them for a great quick treat.   (Yeah right, like that's going to happen around here) .

I think these would be so totally awesome at a cocktail party, where you don't want more than a nibble or two.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tapas Night for September

We had a lighter than normal turnout last night for Tapas, but I'm told that there was a major college football game on and all I can say is this:

 "Hope your team won."

I made a couple of dishes, you know I did.  I had fun.

But before I show you mine, let me show you theirs:

Now this is football food.   Grilled sausages on a home made baguette, with grilled onions and cheese.

Quiche and there wasn't a crumb left...   And it was so good.  I think it's time for me to pull out my recipe for quiche and make one.   Just as soon as the temp outside dips a little more.
These little cucumber bites were so tasty.  A little hit of heat, a big hit of flavour.    I did sample one or three of them.
I think the picture says it all.   But it tasted so good.  I'm not real fond of basil, just a hint will do it, but when you layer it on mozzarella and fresh tomatoes on top of arugala, sigh. 

Chicken and Rice is one of those staple southern dishes, and everyone has their own twist on it.  But this one was so good, Steve used some blackened seasoning on it, and it added a nice pinch of heat.
I have to say, if my mom could see me now.  I had some of this broccoli and cauliflower salad and well, let me just say this, "Look Mom, I'm eating my veggies."  
And then there was this broccoli casserole, and it was good as well. 
"See Mom, I'm even eating the cooked veggies these days"

I grew up on a farm, and along with raising pigs, we also had a market garden, and sold veggies.  And, umm, I had trouble with eating a lot of them.   I loved fresh corn, as in, pick it, shuck it, and eat it right there, no cooking. 
And green beans were good, so long as they were raw, same went for most of the vegetables, come to think of it. 
I now eat cooked vegetables, sorry TMI?

Let me continue with some more of the dishes that were brought and enjoyed last night.

I love Blue Corn chips and Guacamole, well, it's one of my personal favourites.   And this was so good.

I made a few things as well. 

 I put out some Ciabatta Rolls, as well as some fresh pepper strips, along with a plate of crackers and goat cheese.  They are there behind the peppers, Almondina Crackers with goat cheese.  You have to try that combination.  So good.  One of my sisters introduced me to it.  And I shamelessly copied her.
 Not so appetizing looking, I know, but a good Black Olive Tapenade is a great thing to have in your repertoire, so quick and easy to make in a hurry. 
I also made a Quick Pickle with some of the peppers and a cucumber.   I'll tell you all about it in another post.

 I tried my hand at the Crockpot Pork Tenderloin my sister made a couple of months back.  Mine was nowhere as good as hers was.  I totally overcooked it, but then again, my crockpot is a no-name brand, and it should have stayed in the store. I've scorched and burned and overcooked my last meal in it.  sigh.

 I also made some Rosemary Cheese Crisps, and I'll be sharing the recipe with you in a couple of days.

All I can say about them is this, my guests were lucky I restrained myself and they were actually able to sample them. 

And as I said, there was a smaller than usual turnout last night, but the desserts were sure good, and they disappeared in short order.
 A yummy Apple crisp.
 And of course there was the Santa Toothpick holder and his pineapple.   And you thought I'd missed it. HAH!
A really awesome pound cake with a crunchy citrussy sugar topping.  There was also some Vanilla Ice cream that was supposed to be for the pound cake, but ended up being multi-purpose and eaten with both the pound cake and the apple crisp.

And there you have it, another month gone and another bad day at the scale.  Just kidding.  
Boat Club is coming up in a couple of weeks and I'm working on a couple of ideas for it already.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cheese Enchiladas, Tijuana Tilly style

I was looking at the menu plan for the week and saw that I'd written down Cheese Enchiladas for our meal today.
And then I started reminiscing, to myself, silently, about the restaurant that we used to go to when I was first married.  I loved going there, we went there for special occasions and I always ordered the same thing.
Cheese Enchiladas, with rice and beans of course.   I loved their enchiladas, and mourned deeply when the restaurant closed and then torn down and an Olive Garden was built there.  Tijuana Tilly's will always be my favourite Mexican restaurant, sigh.  They've been gone for a very long time.  But I made do and got to know and love a couple of other restaurants along the way. 

Then I moved.

And I now live in a place where I have to drive either 30 miles one way or 25 miles the other way to be able to eat Mexican food.

I make it myself now. 

Now that you've read this far, and thank you for doing so,I thought I'd share how I make my version of Cheese Enchiladas, Tijuana Tilly style.

To start with, you need cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.  OK, maybe not that much, but get out the grater and start shredding.   I like a mixture of Colby Jack Cheese and Monterey Jack cheese, and luckily for me, I can get it already mixed, all I need to do is shred it.   I bet you can get it the same way too.  Just kidding here.  But you can use the cheese that's already shredded, if you like.  I think it tastes best when you shred it yourself, but...

After shredding the cheese, divide it in half and add about 1/2 cup drained sliced black olives to half the cheese mixture along with a finely diced shallot, or 1/4 cup diced onion.   Either one will do.  I just happened to have a single, solitary shallot left from when I made the Caramelized Shallots for the tart a week or so ago.

Now for the fun part.    Assembling the enchiladas.  I usually warm the flour tortillas just a little, it makes them easier to roll up.

Get a good handful of cheese, place it on the flour tortilla and then either roll it up or make a burrito style roll up.  Which means folding the end over the cheese, then folding in the sides and rolling it the rest of the way.  I like doing it like that, cause I hate the cheese escaping out of the ends of the tortilla.  Place the rolled tortilla seam side down in a greased
baking pan, then proceed with the rest of the cheese and tortillas.  Pour some hot enchilada sauce over
top,and sprinkle with a little more cheese if you like, and put in the microwave for about 6 minutes at 70% power.  Or until the cheese has melted.   I've baked these in an oven in the past, but really don't like how the tortillas get gummy. 

Serve with some Refried Beans and Mexican Rice.  

And serve the leftover beans rolled in a flour tortilla for breakfast.   Along with a little cheese, browned in a pan.  So good. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Denver Omelette, Sid's way

I have no idea why I've been craving a Denver Omelette lately.  I'm really not particularly fond of them, but I wanted one today.  It used to be one of my sister's favourite omelettes, that she would order all the time at a restaurant we used to go to called the Totem Restaurant.  Which no longer exists, sigh.   I even worked there for a very brief period of time.   And when I find the recipe for the 'best ever' bran muffins we used to make there, I'll share it. 
It's somewhere in one of my recipe files, you know the old fashioned ones, printed on paper, usually handwritten in faded ink on a scrap of paper. 

But for today, I just made the Denver omelette the way I remember it served there. 
Well, mostly like it.

I added some lovely baby Bella Mushrooms, and the last of the garlic scapes from my pot, and a sprinkling of chives. 

Cause, I'm the cook and I can do it my way, so there.

For two people:

4 eggs, separated, with the whites whisked together
1 slice bacon diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 slices ham diced
5 mushrooms diced
1-2 oz. cheese ( I prefer Colby Jack)

Basically I just diced up equal amounts of green pepper, onions, ham and mushrooms.  
I then diced up one slice of bacon and let that cook for a few minutes,
then added the veggies and ham.  Cooked that for a couple of minutes,

 See you can tell it's cooking away there, cause of the steam on the camera lens.

set it aside while I whisked two egg whites, then folded in the yolks.  This was per person, I'm not coordinated enough to do 4 eggs at once.

  If you do this, you get a lighter, fluffier omelette.   

Poured them into a well buttered pan, added the veggie/ham mixture,
put a lid on it for a couple of minutes, then turned it over and added some cheese,
folded it and served with some scapes and chives.
 And another sprinkling of cheese.  

And yes, I know I used the same picture twice in one post.
I thought it deserved a second look.
And it was good.  I think my sister would have approved.   

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Healthy Corn Dip

Since  I was going to NPA this week, I thought I would try making this Healthy Corn Dip.  I was originally going to make it for my Secret Recipe Club offering, but life and time got in the way and I just didn't get it done.  But it looked good.  I got the original recipe here at This Mama Cooks.

I used one of the frozen jalapeno's I always have on hand for the jalapeno in this dish.  It was a little, ummm. spicy, so if you're not a fan of 'hot' food, back off on the jalapeno.   I also used some of the fresh garlic 'scapes' I've been growing instead of the green onions, they added a nice touch.  

1 tablespoon EVOO
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper (I used a green bell as they were less than a third the cost of the red peppers)
1/2 cup chopped garlic 'scapes'
1 whole chopped frozen jalapeno
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
2/3 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
opt: salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet heat the olive oil and add the corn over a medium heat, stirring until it starts to brown just a little.  Add the onion and peppers stir until tender, about 6-7 minutes. 
You want the onion just starting to get translucent.
Add the garlic scapes, mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese,

stirring until it's all heated and bubbly and the cheese has melted into the corn.   You can season with a little salt and pepper at this point if you like.

I served it with some corn chips, but there were some pita chips there as well, and it tasted good with them as well.
I will be making this again.

I didn't 'stage' it really well, as I was running out of time, as usual, and wanted to get it done so we could leave.   I think this could also be baked with a nice sprinkle of cheese on top, but really, it was just so good as is.