Life’s Too Short to Not be Irish!

Since I had to celebrate St Patricks Day early with my family I took this as an opportunity to share what we had for dinner in case you needed some ideas!  Even people who aren’t Irish pretend they are on St Patricks day!  Before you go out drinking eat some of these delicious dishes to sop up that alcohol!

St Patricks Day Menu –

Pea & Cheddar Salad

Ginger & Honey Glazed Carrots

Irish Flag Potatoes

Corned Beef & Cabbage

Guinness Lamb Stew

Baileys Cake

I will give a short description of each the item since most of the recipes were pretty darn simple and don’t require much explanation.

Pea & Cheddar Salad – 1 Bag of Frozen peas, 1 package of cheddar cubed, about 1 cup mayo, 1 cup sour cream, splash of mayo, salt/pepper/onion powder.  Mix together and chill overnight.

Ginger & Honey Glazed Carrots – melt butter in a saute pan and add carrots stirring frequently.  Add desired amount of honey and a few shakes of ground ginger.  Saute until caramelized.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Irish Flag Potatoes – Sweet Potatoes – Regular Mashed Potatoes – Champ Potatoes

Boil and mash sweet potatoes, add a little bit of butter, salt & pepper.  I added a layer of marshmallows in the middle since that’s how my family likes them.  The white layer of potatoes is just regular mashed potatoes.  I added sour cream, butter, white pepper and salt.  For the green potatoes I sauteed cabbage and chopped up chives and green food coloring.

Corned Beef & Cabbage – I cooked about 9lbs of corned beef in a roaster all day long.  I added the cabbage about 2 hours before serving so that it didnt get too soggy.  I served it with Champagne Shallot Mustard and Horseradish.

Guinness Lamb Strew – My brother made this dish with my assistance.  He wanted to make it just like the one he ate in Boston.  It was just carrots, onion, celery, garlic sauteed in butter.  About 3 lbs of lamb, 1 bottle of guinness, beef stock, rosemary, salt & pepper.  We served it over the mashed potatoes instead of adding cubed potatoes to the stew. Barley was also added per his preference.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.

The Therapy of Sausage Making

I was hesitant to even post about this.  What I really wanted to do was crawl into bed and find comfort in watching Biggest Loser on my DVR while eating a massive bowl of ice cream.  I felt I had to just suck it up and post this. Without posting it tonight I feel the raw emotion that brought me to even make sausage tonight, would be lost.

I had a bad day.  A really really bad day.  One of those days where the work on your desk grows and suddenly your help starts to shrink.  Every time one thing got finished, a new one appeared.  Sometimes even before things finished there was something new.  I literally had to run away from someone today too!  Even better – I continuously yelled “No! Go away!” No joke, stop laughing.

A few hours into my day I decided I had to find something that would make me happy and just make that my focal point.  What makes me happier than anything? Sausage.  I didn’t want to just eat sausage, I wanted to make sausage.  I had bought a pork shoulder and everything on Sunday with the hopes of making my sausages, but I have a huge habit of trying to fit too much into one day. Maybe if this wasn’t a habit of mine, I may not have had such a rough day? Hmm.

Once I had this idea in my head I tried to let everything roll off my shoulders the best I could and just work quickly so I can high tail it out of there and just make my delightful porky packages.  There came a point after 5:00pm came and went that I had to decide how long can I keep doing this and keep feeling miserable?  All I can think of is “What if I get home and I am just too tired to cook”, this just couldn’t be an option.  The only chance I get to really clear my mind is when I get to cook.  I decided around 5:30 that I had to just surrender and back away.

I went next door to the catering building I work in and picked up some brisket trimmings that the manager had kindly let me take off his hands.  We have been experimenting with what we can do with brisket trimmings instead of just throwing them away.  I was able to grab a small bag of it to cut up along with my pork shoulder I bought Sunday.  I zoomed home excited that my plan might get me out of my funk.  I stepped inside, and didn’t even last minutes until I burst into tears.  Letting go of the woes of the day.  After my pity party, off to sausage I went.  Time to be a big girl and make some sausages!

I apologize that I do not have a recipe to go with this.  Sausage isn’t one of those things that always requires a recipe.  It’s one of those wacky things that whatever you have on hand is just fine.  Well, I guess to and extent.  It’s more of a method than a recipe, and im sorry to those of you who hate people who say that.  It’s true though! All you need for sausage is:

  • Cubed Meat – Mainly pork but beef can be mixed in.  Chicken if you’re a communist.
  • Fat – Pork belly (PIGGY TUMMY) or in my case I used brisket fat
  • Seasonings – No need to fuss here if mixing spices isn’t you’re thing.  I used a pre-made rub for beef.
  • Binder – I usually used water, but I used beer today for extra flavor.

My little begger

And thats it!  Pretty simple.  The key to making sure your sausage comes out right is to assure everything is ice cold!  If you do not follow this step, your sausage will come out with a mealy texture that isn’t a very appealing mouth-feel.  The flavor will probably be good still, but the texture will be off.  To assure things stay cold I will put whatever meat im not using into the freezer.  As I cut up my brisket fat, I kept the shoulder in the freezer.  When I was cutting up my shoulder, I put the brisket fat back into the freezer.  I know they say you shouldn’t re-freeze meat, but this isn’t staying in until it completely freezes. This is just to assure its staying very cold.

Once all your meat is cubed up.  Run it through your meat grinder with the plate that has the biggest holes first.  Mine only has 2 sizes so once it runs through the first one, go to the next size.   Season up your meat however you’d like.  Patty a small bit and cook it up to assure you like the flavor.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  When you like the flavor add your binder until its squishy but not watery.   When you got the grind size you want, and the flavors you like then its time to stuff.  If that’s what you want to do that is.  At this point you can just use it as bulk sausage for pastas, sauces or even make sausage burgers.  I cased mine in natural hog casings.  I attached my sausage stuffer and went at it.

The only annoying issue with stuffing in hog casings is finding holes.  It definitely makes my relaxing zen moment of sausage making back into a rage filled tizzy.  As sausage started bursting out of tiny holes I took a deep breath and either cut it off there, or just did a twist and kept trudging on.  Don’t cry over burst sausages people.  I will admit there were many times where i almost ripped off the sausage and almost called it quits, but I didn’t.  This was happy time darn it!  I did finish my sausage and I was very happy I did.  I do plan on smoking it tomorrow if I get the opportunity.

Mission accomplished.

I hope tomorrow is a better day.  If it isn’t then..

I’m gonna have more sausage than I know what to do with…

Green Bean Saute – My Quest to Eat Healthier

As I have mentioned in older posts, I have joined Weight Watchers and 10 lbs later I am still going strong!  I feel that in the past I have failed at weight lost because I get bored with the same old food and I end up going back to my old bad-for-me favorites.  I have been trying to make new flavorful dishes nearly every night to keep from the dreaded ‘diet boredom’.  I realized quickly a salad at every meal was not going to work out for me.  One of the main ideas Weight Watchers tries to implement is to eat veggies and fruits all day long! By giving them a zero point value it seems like the most logical thing to eat!  I decided one night that I was going to let myself finally have some pasta.  I did not want to have the usual dinner salad I have when I eat Italian food so this is the side dish I came up with.  It has become one of my favorite go-to zero point side dishes!

Green Bean Saute

  • 1 bag of fresh green beans (i used steamable kind)
  • 1/2 container of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, fully drained
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • Italian Seasonings
  • Cooking Spray (or olive oil if you aren’t too concerned about the “points”)

Heat a saute pan on high, spray with cooking spray (i used a balsamic flavored olive oil spray), add mushrooms and bell pepper and saute until peppers start to get soft.  Since I used a steamable bag of green beans I microwaved them for half the recommended time and then added them to the pan once the mushrooms/peppers were cooked through.  Add diced tomatoes and Italian Seasonings (I used oregano, basil, salt and pepper).  Mix well and serve with your dinner!  I enjoyed mine with breaded Tyson chicken patty and whole grain rotini and toasty garlic wheat bread!

Also! Check out this super awesome T-Shirt my dood got for me.  Look closely..it’s not just any gun…

ITS A SUPER CULINARY GUN OF AWESOME.

That is all.  See you all later this week when I reveal more Halloween Party Treats!

Sesame Ginger Soba Noodles – Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program

Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program – Marzetti Simply Dressed

Hooray! My first item I was lucky enough to try out for the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program!  I had the opportunity to choose which Marzetti Simply Dressed item I would like to try out.  I will admit this was a tough call! They had so many delicious choices but Sesame Ginger definitely won.  I first had to think of what recipe I would like to create; appetizer, salad, wrap??  I decided to go a whole different route and make an all out dinner!  I was a bit concerned because I have made dishes with salad dressings before (c’mon, we have all cheated and used salad dressing to make pasta salad..admit it!) and they always have that weird tang that screams “Yes – I confess, I used salad dressing!”  I will admit I was absolutely pleased with how my dish turned out.  So much so that I also turned it into an appetizer too!

My inspiration for my dish was actually from a dish I made in school as one of my final projects.  The flavor was so unbelievably powerful yet not overwhelming and I have craved it ever since, this was about 3 years ago!  My challenge for recreating this dish was to bring down the ingredient list a bit and try to replace it with the salad dressing.  This is what I came up with;

Sesame Ginger Soba Noodles with Tofu Skewers

  • 1 jar Marzetti Simply Dressed Sesame Ginger
  • 1 package extra firm tofu
  • 1 zucchini, cut into small discs
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into small discs
  • 1 package soba noodles
  • 1 bunch of scallions, greens diced up thin, white part cut into chunks
  • 1 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • Sesame seeds, toasted
  • Optional Garnish – carrot, red pepper, pea pods cut into thin julienne

First, cube up the tofu carefully to not tear and marinate in 1/2 of the jar of Sesame Ginger Dressing for at least 3 hours (the longer the better).  Soak a few wooden skewers and cut in half for smaller skewers.  To assemble skewers, string on a cube of tofu, red pepper, scallion (white portion), tofu, yellow squash.  Set aside.

Prepare soba noodles according to directions on package.  Rinse to cool and set aside.

To make sauce – Heat up 1 cup of vegetable oil until hot but not bubbling.  Add cayenne and red pepper flakes to sort of ”deep fry” seasonings to bring out an intense flavor.  Add brown sugar and mix well to melt.  Remove from heat.  In a mixing bowl add remaining half of Sesame Ginger Dressing, soy sauce, green parts of scallions, rice wine vinegar, and toasted sesame seeds.  Once oil mixture cools a bit, whisk into soy sauce mixture.

On a grill or griddle sear off tofu skewers.  Make sure to grease up your grill beforehand so tofu doesn’t stick.  I used non-stick spray.  Cook until vegetables have a nice char.  Be sure to keep brushing the Sesame Ginger Dressing on each turn of the skewer.

Toss soba noodles in prepared dressing mixture.  Coat noodles well.  With a fork spin the noodles to form a ‘nest’.  Place in the middle of a plate.  Top the noodles with the optional garnish (also tossed in dressing mixture) and top the garnish with a skewer or two.  Feel free to drizzle the irresistible dressing on top!

I just bought ceramic spoons so I felt this was a great time to use them! So I also turned it into an appetizer

Thank you Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program for letting me have the opportunity to work with Marzetti Simply Dressed!

 

National Pierogi Day > Christmas?

Okay okay…Maybe it’s not as great as Christmas but its pretty darn close..(I like presents n such…).

I tend to ONLY reserve pierogi making for Christmas dinner because they are such a pain in the butt.  However, someone at work managed to sneak into a conversation that Saturday October 8th was National Pierogi Day, and knew that I had my own recipe.  Since i’m a sucker for flattery – I offered to celebrate this holiday by making pierogis for the office I work at.  Which, im sure some of you know is a catering company..which is definitely intimidating to cook for!  Then again, when you have such a rock solid pierogi recipe like I do, what is there to worry about? *Brushes off shoulders* I got this.

In a past post I shared how important my Grandma was that passed away a few summers ago.  She would make pierogi every holiday, but only in small batches because they are so time consuming.  I was so jealous that everyone just loved these pierogi, I craved the attention she got for them.  In time, my grandma got bad arthritis and wanted to pass on the tradition to someone else.  I was ready and willing to be her pierogi apprentice!  I was only a kid, but I was eager to know the secrets.  She gave me a little drinking glass with Christmas decorations around it and told me –

“Danielle…This makes the perfect pierogi”. 

I still have that cup she gave me and I still use it to this day to make my pierogi.  If that glass broke I would be lost!  I did have help making pierogi this time around, and I did not force my pierogi pal to use my nostalgic cup for fear of the odd looks I would get.  I already fully confess I have OCD – but Im still in denial about being neurotic.

 

Perfect Pierogi Dough –

  • 4 cups sifted flour
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup lukewarm water (may need more, more need less, add slowly)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more..if youre like me..)
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

Make a well in the middle of the flour just as you would make any Italian pasta dough.  Add salt.  Beat eggs with butter and add to flour well, add sour cream to the well also.  Pull in flour from the sides to start to combine flour, egg, butter, sour cream.  When the dough starts to crumble add the water until it forms a nice dough.  Dough should be soft and plyable.  It should not feel as smooth and dense as an Italian dough, it should be slightly tacky and I hesitate to use this term because Im sure only ill understand what I mean by it but it should feel “pillowy”..are you with me? Haha.  I know the sour cream seems like an odd addition, but ill explain! When I used to make pierogi with my grandma she would tell me to seal every pierogi I have to add flour and water to the edges for a perfect closure.  As I grew older I figured this step really stinks.  I found out that adding sour cream to the dough makes them close..plain and simple..just pinch shut and voila!  Im sure Grandma is turning over in her grave knowing I changed something.  Sorry!

As for the filling – this is when you can just get creative.  I am sorry, I love you all – however…I cannot share my filling recipe! It’s been in my family for some time and I plan to be a rich and famous super pierogi maker. Dont ruin my dreams.  I did fill half the pierogi with my Bigos filling though! It was absolutely delicious! I will share though that if you do feel like making potato cheese ones (my secret recipe) do not make the potatoes like you would mashed potatoes by adding any liquid what-so-ever.  Leave the poatoes thick and fairly plain, dont fuss with them too much! Potato + Cheese + Onion = Happy.

I swear I can eat this stuff by the gallons with just a spoon.

The one annoying thing about pierogi dough is when it rolls out you have to work quickly.  It tends to shrink in.  This does also means you’re arms will hate you the next morning.  Roll the dough out fairly thin, about 1/8 inch thick.  Theres two ways to do this.  The way I was taught is to roll the dough out pretty big, place a small dollop of filling and fold over an edge of dough and press it out with a nostalgic Christmas cup!  The other way is like making ravioli, stamp out circles to the desired size, add filling and then close.  I find that stamping out the dough first makes it harder to close them if you overloaded them accidently.  I find that making a large rolled out dough, folding, and then stamping is easier for me.  You can make about 4-5 pierogi in one set of rolled dough.  The good thing about this dough is you can reuse it and reuse it until its gone, no waste!

I place my pinched pierogi onto a cookie sheet and freeze them in bags of a dozen.  I usually do not cook pierogi the same day, this is usually something I make way in advance.  By the end of making pierogi, I do NOT feel like eating them!  If you feel like cooking them immediately, by all means do it! They do freeze very well though!  Another pierogi tip – When you boil the pierogi have a cooling rack ready.  Scoop the finished pierogi out (when they float, they are done) and set on the cooling rack to dry.  If you skip this step, they get tacky and stick together.  When they have cooled and are no longer ‘slimy’ add to a casserole dish.  Cut bacon into small lardons and saute until half cooked.  Pour the bacon over the top of the pierogi and bake at 350º for about a half hour.  The bacon fat will render down the pierogi which absolutely makes them PERFECT!  The edges get crispy and delicious.  I never pan fry my pierogi even though that tends to be a favored method.  Give it a try 😉

My finished Pierogi I brought to work.  The left is Bigos Pierogi topped with Smoked Sausage and the right is Potato Cheese topped with bacon.  They did not last long!

BIGO-M-G

Bigos – The Wikipedia Definition

Bigos (Polish pronunciation: [ˈbiɡɔs]), known as a Hunter’s Stew, is a traditional meat stew typical of Polish, Lithuanian, and Belarusian cuisines, considered to be the Polish national dish.[1][2][3]

There is no single recipe for a savoury stew of cabbage and meat, as recipes vary considerably from region to region and from family to family. Typical ingredients include white cabbage, sauerkraut (kapusta kiszona in Polish), various cuts of meat and sausages, often whole or puréed tomatoes, honey and mushrooms. The meats may include pork (often smoked), ham, bacon, beef, veal, sausage, and, as bigos is considered a real hunters’ stew, venison or other game; leftover cuts find their way into the pot as well. It may be seasoned with pepper, caraway, juniper berries, bay leaf, marjoram, pimento, dried or smoked plums and other ingredients.

Bigos – Danielle’s Definition.

A combination of sauerkraut and an entire farm.  Brings of an aroma so intoxicating it makes you weak in the knees, makes your brow sweat a bit, bite your lip in anticipation, makes you feel . . . oh wait. . . this is a family site…  Bigos is the most incredible dish I have ever discovered in polish cuisine.  There’s no one way to make it but any way its done, the smell is just cruel to someone who just started Weight Watchers.

So why did I make this if it would be the one thing that would sabotage my diet?  Pierogi.  Saturday is National Pierogi Day people!! It MUST be celebrated!  I usually stick to potato and cheese filled pierogi but then I had this crazy epiphany.  What if I stuck this glorious stew into a pierogi? Clearly its genius.  I have made sauerkraut pierogi and its just so/so.  Bigos filled pierogi comes from the heavens.

As I stated before, there is not one way to make bigos.  It’s meant to be a ‘left over’ stew.  Utilize whatever you have on hand!  I wanted this bigos to be absolutely perfect so I made sure to pick what I wanted in mine.  This is what I used:

PIGGY TUMMY!

Bigos – Makes 1 large stockpot

  • 1lb bacon
  • 1/2 lb salted piggy tummy
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 1 lb polish sausage, casing removed
  • 1 lb smoked polish sausage, cut into small cubes
  • 5 onions, chopped fine (i used a food processor, I cheat)
  • 2 cups chopped prunes (or dates, figs, whatever you like)
  • 1 bottle red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
  • 3 bags sauerkraut, drained, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, juice and all
  • Rice Wine Vinegar (totally optional)

Method:

This is one of those easy things that once everything is in the pot, you can let it be..for many hours!  To avoid having to utilize any other oils, I started with bacon first.  Cut your bacon into small lardons and saute in the bottom of whatever pot you are using.  Once bacon is cooked and fat is rendered, remove bacon, add pork belly.  Keep removing meat once it’s seared on the outside, but not fully cooked inside.  Keep using the juices/oils from the meat to cook the next batch. Once all meat is seared and set aside, add onion and saute until translucent.  Add meat back into the pot and cover in red wine.  Let this cook down until most of the wine is cooked out.  Add sauerkraut, prunes, tomatoes, and water.  Cover this and cook for roughly 5 hours.  Sample and adjust seasonings.  I added a touch of rice wine vinegar just because the flavor was a little flat.  There was no need to add salt but I did end up using a touch of pepper and some ham base for some smokey flavor.  I took a few photos during cooking, the unfortunate part is that bigos is by no means an attractive dish.  It tastes unbelievably sexy, however, its more like “I love you for your personality, not your looks” sort of thing.  So here’s some photos of the glorious, delicious, amazing, bigos. . .

Just like most stews, soups, sauces – bigos tastes way better the following day.  It lets the flavors really meld and get really happy!  By all means enjoy a trough full the day you make it, however, save some for the following day to enjoy too!  Check back tomorrow when I stuff the infamous bigos into pierogis!

 

 

Cheater Pot Pie

I am usually not one to mess with short cuts.  I either go all convenience (on long days at work) or all from scratch.  I definitely do not follow the Rachel Ray method of cooking!  However…I had come down with some sort of flu type thing and I gave in.  I was craving pot pie, but I was not craving the work that is involved.  I had left over turkey in the fridge because I am a firm believer in having Thanksgiving multiple times a year.  I had frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer, fat free half and half in the fridge (yes folks, its also a lighter version!) all that was missing was the best part – the crust.  This is where the ultimate lazy part came in.  I went and bought a bag of pillsbury frozen biscuits.  I do not regret the decision I made – It was delicious.  Would I make this recipe again? If i was feeling lazy, absolutely!

Cheater Pot Pie –

  • 1 quart fat free half & half (any cream would do really)
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 small onion diced
  • about 1 lb cooked turkey or any meat you prefer
  • Small amount of olive oil to saute onion
  • dry tarragon – this is a potent herb, I love it in pot pie, use your own discretion
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Hot Sauce, to taste (Do not fear this!!! I do not like spicy but I put hot sauce in all my cream dishes, it does something magical)
  • Chicken Base (optional, i always have it on hand)
  • White Wine (about 1/2 cup)
  • Corn Starch and water mixture – about 2 tablespoons cornstarch and just enough water until starch becomes a liquid

Cook biscuits according to instructions on package.

Saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add mixed vegetables and toss around until they thaw a bit.  Add white wine and let it cook down  a bit.  Add half and half, turkey, chicken base, tarragon, salt, pepper, hot sauce.  Let that come to a light simmer.  Add cornstarch mixture until you reach your desired consistency.  Pour into a bowl and top with a biscuit.  Absolutely delicious, cheaters pot pie.  Better than the pre-made crap..easier than the from scratch non-sense!

 

UFC Party – A flavorful punch in the mouth

I am a sucker for a themed dinner party.  It all started out as a joke, but then it just snowballed.  I was thinking of ideas for 24×24 and thought it would be a good idea to do a practice round of what I would do for a themed party.  My boyfriend and I are fans of the UFC.  Very un-ladylike I know.  We invited some pals over for our special dinner party and started brain storming.  I am a huge nerd when it comes to these types of parties, so maybe It got a little out of hand but it was fun none-the-less.

Here is a little side story just to explain a tid-bit of why I have been gone lately.  I was headed to the grocery store, list in hand, totally thrilled about the UFC party the next day.  I was about a quarter of a mile away to the grocery store sitting at a red light, when I got seriously rear ended.  A 16 year old girl slammed into me at 30mph when I was at a dead stop.  I was fine, my car was not.  I have spent weeks trying to battle with the insurance company, get a new car, dr visits for my neck and back.  All is well now, I have a new car, my back pain is improving and yes people…I still had my dinner party!

My poor car.

Okay side story over, back on track! I was very proud of my final menu.  If you are not aware of UFC, its ultimate fighter championship, so keep that in mind while reading my menu –

Knuckle Sandwiches – Crispy Chicken Sliders with Chipotle Mayo

Black & Bleu Beef Croistini – Beef Tenderloin Topped with a Bleu Cheese Mousse

Fried Cauliflower ‘Ears’ – Fried Cauliflower accompanied by Dill dipping sauce

Tap-Out Tater Tots – Crispy tater tots with sriracha ketchup

Dont Punch in the Nut-ella Rice Krispy Treats – Rice Krispy Treats blended with Nutella dipped in Chocolate Topped with Hazelnuts

Knuckle Sandwiches

  • 1/2 lb Chicken Breast pounded thin and cut into slider size
  • 1 cup buttermilk mixed with buffalo sauce
  • flour for coating
  • oil for frying
  • small tomato slices
  • small lettuce slices
  • mayonnaise
  • canned chipotles
  • Hawaiian Rolls
  1. Heat up oil for frying.  In the mean time, dip each chicken piece into buttermilk/buffalo sauce and then into flour.  Coat very well with flour.
  2. Fry each chicken piece until golden brown, set on paper towels to sop up excess oil.
  3. In a food processor combine mayo and chipotle peppers.  If desired, thin out with some cream.
  4. Build each sandwich on a sweet hawaiian roll top with tomato and lettuce, serve with chipotle mayo.

Fried Cauliflower Ears

1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup water

Dill Dip

  • Mayo
  • Sour Cream
  • Dill
  • Heavy Cream
  • Salt & Pepper

Combine all ingredients for batter, toss cauliflower until coated.  Fry in small batches.

Combine all ingredients for dip. Enjoy! (warning, very addicting!)

Dont Punch in the Nut-ella Rice Krispy Treats

  • 1 Box rice krispy cereal
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 1 jar nutella
  • 1/2 lb melted chocolate
  • Crushed hazelnuts for garnish

Microwave marshmallows, nutella, and butter.  In a big enough mixing bowl, dump entire box of cereal.  Once marshmallows and butter are melted completely, combine with rice krispys.  In cookie sheet with high sides, lay down wax paper.  Press in rice krispy mixture and let cool and harden over night.  The next day either use cookie cutters for desired shape or cut into cubes (pictured).  Dip each cube into melted chocolate and top with crushed hazelnuts.

The party was an absolute hit and I cannot wait for my next themed party.  I will steer clear of teenage girls on the road this time too.

Spinach Stuffed Portabello

I have confessed to some of my fellow bloggers about my recent ever so tragic decision – Piggy Tummy is going on a diet.  I had this initial fear that if I posted healthy foods, I would lose followers.  I figured the foodie blog world was all about cheesy, gooey, chocolatey, rich, artery clogging glory.  As I started collecting more fans and reading more blogs I have noticed I was all wrong!  Many of you post healthy food, some of you strictly healthy food.  I don’t plan on depriving myself and having it lead to failure (again…) I just wanted to assure that healthy food posts doesn’t mean loss of readers.  Now that my mind has been put at ease about that – I feel more confident sharing my new healthy concoctions!

My first goal for my diet was to add more vegetables.  I have never had an issue eating my vegetables, I do love them!  I just felt I was eating more wasted calorie items when I could have been filling up on vegetables.  My first goal was to have at least one meal a day that was vegetarian.  I will gladly admit that today all three meals were vegetarian! And yes…I am still alive.  I had been dreaming of this recipe for well over a week now.  When I worked all day, I thought of it – when I got home and was making dinner, I thought of it – as I got ready for bed, I thought of it.  It was time to bring this recipe to life!  I love portabello mushrooms, especially as a meat replacement.  It’s so meaty and packed with flavor that I knew it would be an excellent main dish component.  I knew I wanted to fill the mushroom, and not just make a burger out of it, or dice it into a pasta.  My idea was to stuff it with creamy spinach and bake it in the oven.  This is how it went down… (let’s hope I remember..this was a make-as-you-go kind of thing)

Spinach Stuffed Portabello

  • 4 nice sized portabello mushrooms, insides scraped out
  • 2 packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of extra water (was cheaper then fresh, best I could do right now!)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 small carrots, minced
  • 1/2 cup fat free half & half
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup reduced fat ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • dill, 1 tablespoon
  • nutmeg, dash
  • garlic powder, 1 tablespoon
  • salt & pepper to taste

Topping

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

First, scrape out the insides of the mushrooms.  Make it extra spacious for the deliciousness it is about to be filled with.  Using a spoon makes it extra easy!

Next, in a high sided skillet add olive oil, onion, garlic, and carrot.  Saute just until softened.  Add seasonings and spinach, mix until well combined.  Add cream and let reduce.  Once reduced add 2% milk.  Simmer until the mixture starts to thicken.  It will not be super thick as using heavy cream or whole milk but the spinach will start to sop it up.  Once it starts thickening a bit and comes to a simmer, add ricotta until it turns to a liquid.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Since I have been doing well on my diet, and sticking to being absolutely behaved, I decided to treat myself to buttery toasty bread crumbs as my topping.  I know, I spoil myself!  I added just a small bit of butter to a skillet, added bread crumbs and a touch of Parmesan cheese.  I toasted them up until lightly browned.  Lightly olive oil a baking sheet and place cleaned out portabellos on the pan.  Stuff each mushroom evenly and top with crumbs.

Bake in the oven at 350º until the mushroom has clearly started to shrink in size and has started to turn a dark brown.  I believe mine cooked around 30 minutes.

To serve alongside with my mushrooms I sauteed fresh green beans with button mushrooms and canned stewed tomatoes.  I didn’t want a tomato sauce with the portabello because I didn’t want to take anything away from the creaminess of the filling.  The stewed tomatoes were an excellent addition without being overpowering to the main dish.  I have to tell you, this dish was absolutely mind blowing.  It was so creamy, so filling, and packed with so much flavor – I did not feel slighted in the least.  This is one of those recipes that will go in my “forever vault of deliciousness”.  I know the recipe doesn’t seem super unique, considering it’s a common item brought as a miniature size to most parties.  I have never thought to have it as a main dish, but I am so glad I did!

Try it, love it, lose weight!  I have lost 7 so far, any of you enjoying a diet too?

Lighten Up! Skrimps & Corms

I don’t know about you, but I will admit that sometimes I put way too much thought into what I want to make for dinner.  There are times where I will think about it days or even weeks in advance.  I get a flavor profile stuck in my head and can’t wait to try it out.  This entire week I have been wanting to make a dish that incorporates shrimp and fennel.  I have been craving shrimp lately, but I didn’t want a usual dish.  Scampi was out, didn’t want a heavy Alfredo, garlic is too cliche. . .  I decided I wanted to make a refreshing cold shrimp salad.  That is when fennel popped into my head.  I even googled “shrimp and fennel” to make sure I wasn’t the only one wishing to do this combo.  Surely enough, i’m not the only one, so the plan was on!

Shrimp and Fennel Salad (SKRIMPS!)

  • 1 lb 16-20 sized shrimp, uncooked, peeled, grilled
  • Ancho chile powder
  • Paprika
  • Sea Salt & Pepper
  • Thyme, ground
  • Fennel Seed, ground
  • Mustard Sauce (mustard mixed with a vinegar base and spices, I used Duce’s Wild, a sauce from Sweet Baby Rays)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard

I grilled up my shrimps on wooden skewers with a mix of paprika, ancho powder, ground thyme,ground fennel seed, fresh pepper, sea salt and a vinegar mustard sauce.  I also tossed big cuts of fennel on the grill to roast off until soft, but still have a slight crunch to it.  After cooling, I mixed up plain Greek yogurt with dry mustard, ancho chili powder, salt and pepper to taste, and finish off with fresh dill.  I am a sucker for freshly baked bread, so I got a Tuscan baguette from the store, cut into thick slices and toasted lightly on the grill.

I let this mixture sit in the fridge overnight to let the flavors blend together.  I spent my day wondering what would go well as a side.  I remembered this amazing simple side dish I had at Texas De Brazil.  It was a creamy blend of red seedless grapes and gorgonzola cheese crumbles.  I was unsure of what the creamy was, but I ended up using Greek yogurt to assure my meal stayed light.

Grape & Gorgonzola Salad

  • 1 bag red seedless grapes
  • 1 small container of gorgonzola crumbles
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • dash of salt and pepper

Mix well. Enjoy Often.

To tie the whole dish together, I decided to go with a corn cobbettes.  It’s simple, it’s tasty, and it certainly adds a pretty bright color to my plate.  This meal was so refreshing and certainly didn’t disappoint.  I was concerned my boyfriend wouldn’t like the grape salad but sure enough he finished it all – and asked for more! (which…remembering back,I don’t think I gave it to him…sorry Alex…love you!)