Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Strawberry Candy

Every summer when I was little my sister and I would help my Nana make these candies. We only made these in the summer, and we usually made them to bring to a party or a barbecue. I loved these little candies; they were so much fun to roll and shape, and our fingers would be dyed red from the sprinkles by the time we were finished making them.

These candies will rot your teeth right out of your face, they are pretty much nothing but sugar, more sugar and then some more sugar. These were always just a special treat for us, and I always looked forward to making them. After we were done shaping and rolling them we would pile them into a green pint container and they would look just like a little basket of strawberries.

These are most definitely a classic in my family, I've never seen them in any candy recipe books, and when I make them people are always intrigued by them.

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 large packages wild strawberry jello
7 oz sweetened shredded coconut
1 c finely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
red sprinkles
green sprinkles

Combine all ingredients, refrigerate at least an hour so that they mix is firm enough to shape.

After mixture is chilled scoop out tablespoon sized amount of mix and mold into strawberry shape.

Roll the strawberry, except for the top into red sprinkles, press top into green sprinkles to create the look of a stem.

Chill until ready to serve. Enjoy

Rating = So Good

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Paella Italiana | Michael Chiarello

I've been wanting to attempt paella for a long time now. On Friday I actually had the opportunity to sit down and watch some cooking shows that I had DVR'd over the past few weeks while I've been to busy to eat let alone cook. One show was Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello I really enjoy his show because he doesn't ham up to the camera, or have any weird facial ticks going on like some of the other food network celebrities. He seems genuinely down to earth, and really good at entertaining. I'm also uber jealous of his home in California and the endless manicured rows of grapevines extending throughout his property. I know he's married, but every time CB watches the show with me he says "are you sure he's not gay?" I admit, I've wondered that myself, but he's not.

This meal is so filling that on two occasions CB has been forced to stop after only two servings, and if you read this blog often, you know that CB is a three serving guy. This also makes a shit ton of food, so if you are entertaining, this would be a good option. I could also see this being a great Saturday or Sunday football snack in place of the oft thought of chili that seems to show up at football gatherings. Think of that, show up at your friends house with this and I bet the person who brought the onion dip will feel a leeetle bit jealous, unless of course it's this onion dip, and then you're all good.


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 2 pounds total
Finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces spicy dried Italian sausage, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices (I used chorizo)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3 1/2 teaspoons Spanish paprika, divided
2 tablespoons whole fresh oregano leaves
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
3 cups arborio rice
6 cups chicken stock
1 small can (12 ounces) peeled crushed tomatoes (or 1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded or quartered)
1 teaspoon saffron Pepperoncini, for serving

Remove the tenderloins (small muscle on the underside) from the chicken breasts. Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Cut all the chicken into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pot over high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add the chicken. Cook until well browned on 2 sides, turning once, 6 to 7 minutes total. Add the sausage to the pan. Cook for 10 seconds.

Season the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan, stir once then cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika and the oregano. Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet to cool.

Return the pan to high heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Pour the juices from the baking sheet into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the vegetables are soft, but not brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Raise the heat to high. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 2 teaspoons paprika. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice. Stir to evenly coat the grains with oil. Cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring it up to a simmer. Add the tomatoes and stir to incorporate. Sprinkle in the saffron. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Cook until the liquid comes back to a simmer. Cover and put the pan in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Return the chicken, sausage, and shrimp to the pan. Cover the pan again and put it back in the oven to cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until everything is warm.

Serve the paella warm with a bowl of pepperoncini on the side.

Rating = So Damn Good

Monday, July 23, 2007

Downeast Maine...

CB and I took a little trip to visit my Aunt J in Maine; way, way, way up there in Maine, like really far up there. She has an amazing house right on the rocky coast up past Bar Harbor. The first day we were there my aunt and I put on our muck boots during low tide and picked 9 pounds of mussels to steam up for dinner. There really are few things better than putting your hands into the salty water and working for your dinner. The mussels were so fresh and amazing, I don't know if I can ever eat them any other way from now on. Below is me showing off my bucket of mussels. I was just getting started at this point.
The next day we walked a half mile down to the lobster pound for a lobster and crab bake. All this for $15. The clams had been dug that morning by some of the local workers and were the sweetest I have ever tasted. This was essentially an all you can eat buffet, this was my first trip up to the buffet.
I never made it to my lobster or the whole crab (I had a few claws that I grabbed and ate), so the next day CB and I made this lobster and crab roll for lunch.


Meat from one lobster
Claw meat from one crab
2 ribs celery diced
1 tbs mayonnaise
salt and pepper
2 hot dog buns toasted

Combine first five ingredients until well blended. Stuff hot dog buns with mix and enjoy.

We had a great time up there, boating, hiking, picking mussels, and I can't wait to have the opportunity to do it again, and to hopefully see another sunset like this from her front porch.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Jerk Chicken with Grilled Banana and Red Onion Salsa | America's Test Kitchen

It was very hard for me to not yell "mother F'er this is some damn good chicken" when I had my first bite of this, but we had guests and that would have been a little too white trash for even me. This could quite possibly be the best grilled chicken I have ever had. Seriously, no joke.

I loved all the flavors of the rub/marinade and absolutely loved the grilled banana salsa that was made to go with it, as did HL, but it seems the fruit salsa was a little to girly for the men, who preferred to have their jerk chicken, sans fru fru salsa. Whatevs. I think when HL reads this post she will concur that the salsa was awesome.

1 bunch scallions, chopped
3 garlic cloves peeled
2 tsp ground all spice
1 tbs dried thyme
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp mild or robust molasses
2 habanero chiles, stemmed and halved (I used 1 1/2 jalapeno peppers instead because of my pussy lips)
1/4 c vegetable oil
3 lbs bone in skin on chicken thighs, legs or breasts (I used skinless boneless chicken breasts to cut down on fat, plus I'm not a big fan of eating chicken off the bone)

1 red onion, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds
3 bananas peeled and halved lengthwise
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp dark rum (optional)
lime wedges for serving

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Puree the scallions, garlic, allspice, thyme, salt, molasses, chiles, and oil in a food processor or blender until almost smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary. Wearing latex gloves (if using habaneros, not needed with jalapenos) and working with one piece of chicken at a time, slide your finger between the skin and the meat to loosen the skin and then rub 1 tbsp of the spice mixture under the skin of each piece and transfer the chicken to a gallon sized zipper lock bag. Pour the remaining spice mixture over the chicken, seal the bag, and use your hands to squeeze and turn the bag so that the chicken pieces are covered with the mixture. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

2. Remove the chicken from the bag and arrange it skin side down over the hot part of the grill and cook the chicken until well browned on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the cooler part of the grill, cover and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until very dark and the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees and the thighs register 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer, 15 to 22 minutes.

3. FOR THE SALSA: Meanwhile, brush both sides of the onion rounds and banana with the oil and sprinkle with the cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Grill the onion over the hottest part of the grill, covered until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the onion to the cooler part of the grill and place the bananas cut side down on the hottest part of the grill. Grill the bananas, covered, until browned in spots, about 2 minutes per side.

4. Transfer the onion and banana to a cutting board and cool slightly. Whisk the lime juice, mint, brown sugar and rum (if using) together in a medium bowl the sugar has dissolved. Roughly chop the onion and bananas, add them to the bowl, and toss to coat. Season the salsa with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the chicken with the lime wedges and salsa.

WHAT YOU CAN DO AHEAD OF TIME: The chicken can be prepared through step 1 and refrigerated for up to 36 hours. The salsa can be refrigerated in an airtight container for p to 2 days. Bring the salsa to room temperature before serving and adjust the consistency and seasoning with lime juice and rum (if using).

Rating = So God Damn Good

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

So, July is one of my three busiest months at work, the other two being October and March. Today marks the day that all hell breaks loose; essentially this means that between now and the beginning of August the posts with be scarce at best. I'm sorry, I love posting and cooking and bitching and squawking, and obviously you like to read about it because you keep coming back for more. But for the next three weeks please bear with me as I try to make some lettuce for my office so that I'm not soon laid off because all the little architects in the office don't have anything to draw. Boo Freaking Hoo.

So in the meantime, make this recipe for Green Pea, Prosciutto & Dill Potato Salad, I made it for a cookout we went to last night and I shit you not it was some of the best potato salad I have ever put into my cake hole, seriously, awesome. Try it.

I'll try to post as often as I can, so check back every once and a while over the next three weeks, I may have had a chance to throw something up on the blog.

Be well everyone.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Light Roasted Artichoke Dip | Cook's Illustrated

This is the first recipe from Cook's Illustrated that I can actually say I wasn't head over heals about. In all honesty, even though it was light, I thought it was too rich. I will make it again, but next time I think I will use only 3/4 of the suggested amount of mayonnaise that the recipe called for. When I was eating it, it had great flavor, but for me it was a little to rich, this may not be the case for other people, I'm just not that fond of mayonnaise, so take that for what it's worth. CB really liked it, and pretty much ate the whole thing, so whatever.

Recipe: Serves 10 to 12
(It is important that the cream cheese be at room temperature, otherwise it will not mix well or distribute evenly. Also, this dip is best served warm, so make sure it comes out of the oven just as your guests are starting to arrive. Serve with crackers, thin slices of baguette, or crostini. The dip can be prepared without the crumb topping and refrigerated, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. To bake, sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the dip, spray with vegetable oil, and bake, as directed in the recipe. You will not need to increase the baking time.)

2 (9 oz ) boxes frozen artichokes (do not thaw)
2 tsp olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
1 medium onion minced
2 medium garlic cloves minced
1 C reduced fat mayonnaise (I will use less next time)
1/2 C light cream cheese at room temperature
1 oz Parmesan cheese grated (about 1/2 C)
1 Tbsp juice from one lemon
1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
Pinch cayenne pepper

1 C fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
vegetable or olive oil spray

1. For the Dip: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 450. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Toss the artichokes with 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper until evenly coated, spread over the prepared baking sheet. Roast rotating the baking sheet from the front to the back halfway through, until the artichokes are browned at the edges, 20to 25 minutes. Let the artichokes cool and then chop coarse. Reduce the oven temperature to 400.

2. Meanwhile combine the onion, garlic, the remaining 1 tsp oil and 1/2 tsp salt in a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Cover and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape the onion mixture into a large bowl.

3. Add the mayonnaise, cream cheese, Parmesan, lemon juice and cayenne to the onion mixture and stir to combine, smearing any lumps of cream cheese against the side of the bowl to break them up. Gently fold in the chopped artichokes; season with salt and pepper to taste. Scrape the mixture into an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish.

4. For the topping: Toss the bread crumbs and Parmesan together in a medium bowl until combined, then sprinkled evenly over the top of the dip; spray the bread crumbs lightly with vegetable oil. Bake until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve Immediately.

Per 1/4 Cup Serving: Cal 140; Fat 8g; Sat Fat 3g; Chol 10mg; Carb 13g; Protien 5g; Fiber 3g; Sodium 630 mg.

Rating = Damn Good (It will be better for me next time I make it with less mayonnaise)