It’s Easy Being Cheesy!

20140407-205623.jpgSweet Dreams Are Made Of Cheese…And Who Am I To Diss A Brie?
So this dream combines cheese and pork. Two good things. And to make it healthy we’ve got some of Popeye’s favorite- Spinach! Let’s get it started. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Coat a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Take some thick (I used 1 ½” thick) pork chops (bone-in or boneless) and lay them out on a cutting board. Cut a pocket in each chop with a sharp knife, leaving three sides intact. Stuff each chop with some spinach that has been torn into bite size pieces.

20140407-205726.jpgThen stuff each chop with some slices of Smoked Gouda Cheese.

20140407-205915.jpgThis is a great cheese for this recipe, not only because of the flavor it imparts, but it also melts but doesn’t run away. Make the chops easier to handle by using wooden toothpicks or skewers to keep the pockets closed.

20140407-210017.jpgCrush or grind some leftover croutons or use seasoned bread crumbs, whichever you have available at the moment.

20140407-210155.jpgCoat each of the chops with mustard of your choice, I used a sweet and spicy mustard. This helps the crumbs to stick.

20140407-210240.jpgRoll each mustard coated stuffed chop in the crumbs to coat and arrange in prepared 9×13 pan.

20140407-210719.jpgSpray each chop lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle on some of your favorite seasoning salt. I used “Slap Ya Mama” Cajun Seasoning. Bake for about 45 minutes until brown and crispy and internal temperature of pork has reached 150°F.

20140407-210841.jpgAllow to rest for a few minutes and enjoy.

20140407-210939.jpgTip: If you want extra juicy and flavorful pork, brine the chops for 6-8 hours before stuffing. You will be glad you did!
Cook. Eat. Repeat!

Advertisements

Brussel Kraut & Sprout Kraut

I have always been one of “those” peple who enjoyed eating smelly foods. I love things like Blue Cheese, Anchovies, Yogurt, Kimchee, Blind Robins, Limburger Cheese, Kombucha, and Sauerkraut. The smellier the better. Recently you may have heard the hype involving the health benefits of Fermented Foods. What are Fermented Foods? Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. Fermented foods have also been shown to preserve nutrients in food and break the food down to a more digestible form.
People all over the world have been eating Fermented Foods for years, from Sauerkraut in Germany to Kimchee in Korea and everywhere in between. Sadly, with the advances in technology and food preparation, these time-honored traditional foods have been largely lost in our society.
But I’m bringing sexy back!

20140407-200051.jpgFermented Foods taste great and really grow on you! So here are 2 different, simple, and tasty variations on 1 old Fermented Food Standby (Sauerkraut). It is with great pleasure that I introduce you now to “Brussel Kraut” and “Sprout Kraut.”
They are both easy to make, good for you, and they both smell! All you need is just a little patience! If the great Axl Rose were to make some of this stuff he would say:
“Make it slow, It’ll work itself out fine
All you need is just a little patience
Salt and time, make it slow
And it will come together fine
All you need is just a little patience”

20140407-200956.jpg

20140407-201011.jpg

20140407-201023.jpg

20140407-201049.jpg

20140407-201033.jpg

20140407-201101.jpg

20140407-201119.jpg

20140407-201130.jpg

20140407-201202.jpgHA HA HA. Anyway, try these on for size. You’ll be glad you did.
Brussel Kraut
Get yourself a clean glass jar with a sealable lid, sanitized of course!
Tear off any discolored loose outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts.
Cut the bottom stem end off of them and cut them in half from top to bottom.
Lay the cut side down and cut into strips, about 1/8” thick.
Separate the slices into shreds. You will need 4 Cups for this recipe.
Put shreds in mixing bowl and add salt. With clean or sanitary gloved hands, massage the salt into the shreds thoroughly, until the volume of the shreds is reduced by almost ½.
Layer the shredded Brussels Sprouts into the jar, a quarter of the shreds at a time. Place some of the crushed garlic on top, then sprinkle with some of the crushed red pepper, black pepper, and celery seeds. Repeat this process until all of the ingredients are in the jar, lightly packing the shreds down after each addition.
Add enough filtered water to cover the shreds. There should be about 1” between the top of the cabbage and the rim of the jar.
Loosely cover the jar.
Store at room temperature out of direct light for 7 days, or until the kraut begins to bubble (ferment).
Inspect the Kraut every day, pressing the kraut down into the juice. Remove any off colored cabbage that may appear. Smell it every day. If it smells clean but sour it’ll be good. If it smells bad or rotten it probably won’t end well. After a week or whenever you’ve reached the desired level of sourness, seal the jar, transfer to the refrigerator and continue to age for 3 to 4 weeks before eating.

20140407-201544.jpg

20140407-201606.jpg

20140407-201554.jpgSprout Kraut
Rinse bean sprouts well and place in clean, sanitized jar with sealable lid.
Top with smashed Garlic.
Combine Filtered Water and Kosher Salt and stir until salt is dissolved.
Pour this salt water in the jar to cover the bean sprouts.
Cover jar tightly and keep at room temperature, out of direct light for about 5 days.
Inspect the “sprout kraut” every day, pressing the kraut down into the juice. Remove any off colored sprouts that may appear. Smell it every day. If it smells clean but sour it’ll be good. If it smells bad or rotten it probably won’t end well. After a week or whenever you’ve reached the desired level of sourness, seal the jar, transfer to the refrigerator and continue to age for 3 to 4 weeks before eating. Try either of these on your favorite Hot Dog, Rueben, Pizza, Sausage, Hamburger, Pierogies, Roasted Pork, with Apples as a slaw…..Ribs, Halupkis, Haluski….
Its all good!

Texas Sheet Cake

20140407-190126.jpgI’ve heard that everything in Texas is bigger. Based on my visits to the Lone Star State, I’d say some things are, some aren’t. Chili is big in Texas. BBQ is big in Texas. Trucks are big in Texas. Snow skiing isn’t big in Texas. Water polo isn’t big in Texas. So let’s get right to it. Texas Sheet Cake. Chocolate + Big Cake = Always Good! Now let me preface this by saying “There are no rules to cooking”. I say that a lot. Every family has its own versions of this timeless classic southern recipe handed down from generation to generation. Some have cinnamon. Some don’t. Some have chopped pecans or walnuts in the icing. Some have smooth chocolate icing. I’ve even heard of some recipes where the water is replaced by Coca-Cola. “Whatever is clever.” I say that a lot too!. At the end of the day it all comes down to Big Chocolate Cake!
So here is my latest trip down the Chocolate Boulevard, courtesy of my Mom and great Grandmother.
In large bowl mix together 2 Cups Flour, 2 cups Granulated White Sugar and 1 teaspoon Salt

20140407-190552.jpgSet Aside. In medium saucepan combine 1 Cup Butter, 1 Cup Coca-Cola, and 3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder.

20140407-190838.jpgBring to a boil.

20140407-191113.jpgRemove from heat and pour over dry ingredients.

20140407-191213.jpgMix until smooth.

20140407-191258.jpgIn separate bowl whisk together 2 Eggs, ½ Cup Buttermilk, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract and 1 teaspoon Baking Soda.

20140407-191410.jpgAdd this mixture into the chocolate mixture and stir.

20140407-191715.jpgAdd 1 teaspoon cinnamon and stir until smooth.

20140407-191845.jpgPour into greased 13X9, 11X15, 10X15 or similar sized baking pan.

20140407-191943.jpgBake in preheated 350° F oven 25-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
While cake is baking make the icing.
Put ½ Cup Butter, 3Tablespoons Cocoa Powder, and 6 Tablespoons Half and Half in sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until butter melts.

20140407-192233.jpgRemove from heat and add 1 box (16oz.) Powdered Sugar, and 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract.

20140407-192326.jpgBeat until smooth.
Stir in 1 cup chopped pecans.

20140407-192416.jpg

20140407-192625.jpgStir to combine. Pour warm icing over hot cake letting the warmth of the cake help to spread the icing from edge to edge. Cool completely before cutting and serving.
Big. Chocolate. Cake.

20140407-192833.jpgDid you know that the melting point of cocoa butter is just below normal human body temperature? – – This is why chocolate literally “melts in your mouth”!

Bacon Makes Everything Better!

Bacon Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

20140406-182752.jpgBacon really does make everything better. These easy to make, chewy cookies are all the proof one needs. Bacon gives these cookies a touch of savory smoky flavor and a little crunch.
Cook some bacon until it is crispy. Pour off the bacon grease and save it for some other special treat. When bacon is cool crumble into small pieces.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In large mixing bowl, cream the butter,

20140406-183111.jpgSugars and Eggs until well combined, about 2 minutes.

20140406-183248.jpgAdd the Flour, Baking Soda, Vanilla, Kosher Salt, and Cinnamon,

20140406-183403.jpgAnd mix until just combined. Add the Oats, Bacon, and Chocolate Chips,

20140406-183821.jpg
And mix until just combined.

20140406-184016.jpgDrop or scoop the dough, about 2 tablespoons each, into ball shapes on ungreased parchment paper lined baking trays. Leave 2 inches between cookies for spreading.

20140406-184156.jpgBake the cookies in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until they are lightly brown on the edges but still soft in the middle. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking pan before you try and move them.

20140406-184252.jpgCook. Eat. Repeat! #cookiesforbreakfast

DIY Salad Dressings

Here are three totally random dressings that perk up any green salad. Super easy. Good for you. So tasty. Don’t buy that crap in a bottle on the grocery store shelf. Make your own. You will be glad you did.
Coconut Red Chili Vinaigrettecoco rec chili vin

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 ORANGES, JUICED AND ZESTED

2/3 CUP COCONUT MILK

2 CUPS SALAD OIL

1 TEASPOON SESAME OIL

2 TABLESPOONS RICE WINE VINEGAR

1/8 TEASPOON GROUND BLACK PEPPER

3 TABLESPOONS VIETNAM CHILI GARLIC SAUCE (SAMBAL OELEK)

KOSHER SALT TO TASTE

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

PLACE ALL INGREDIENTS EXCEPT CHILI GARLIC SAUCE AND SALT IN BOWL AND BLEND WITH STICK BLENDER (OR PLACE IN BLENDER) UNTIL SMOOTH AND EMULSIFIED.  STIR IN CHILI GARLIC SAUCE.  ADD SALT TO TASTE.

Steve-O’s Chimmi Churri Vinaigrettechimmi vin

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 ½ CUPS OLIVE OIL

¾ CUP CIDER VINEGAR

6 TEASPOONS CHOPPED FRESH GARLIC

1 TEASPOON CRUSHED RED PEPPER FLAKES

¾ CUP FRESH CILANTRO LEAVES, CHOPPED

2 TABLESPOONS DRIED OREGANO

3 GREEN ONIONS, MINCED

¾ CUP FRESH PARSLEY LEAVES, CHOPPED

½ TEASPOON GROUND BLACK PEPPER

3 TABLESPOONS SUGAR

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

PLACE ALL INGREDIENTS EXCEPT SALT IN BOWL AND BLEND WITH STICK BLENDER (OR PLACE IN BLENDER) UNTIL SMOOTH AND EMULSIFIED.  ADD SALT TO TASTE.

Mojito Time Vinaigrettemojito time vin

WHAT YOU NEED:

½ CUP WHITE BALSAMIC VINEGAR

½ CUP LIME JUICE

ZEST FROM 2 LIMES

4 TABLESPOONS FRESH MINT LEAVES, CHOPPED

4 TABLESPOONS HONEY

½ TEASPOON GROUND BLACK PEPPER

1 ½ CUPS OLIVE OIL

2 TABLESPOONS FRESH THYME LEAVES, CHOPPED

KOSHER SALT TO TASTE

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

PLACE ALL INGREDIENTS EXCEPT SALT IN A BOWL AND BLEND WITH STICK BLENDER (OR PLACE IN BLENDER) UNTIL SMOOTH AND EMULSIFIED.  ADD SALT TO TASTE.

Super Granola

20140331-110038.jpgSo I was watching some show on television the other day, I can’t remember what it was so it must have been high quality programming. Anyway, before I stray too far off the path, there was some supermodel babbling on and on about eating healthy. Ding! Caught my attention. She mentioned something about some granola that she made with Quinoa. Sounded interesting. I’m a big Quinoa fan so I devised myself a plan to make some granola, with Quinoa, one of them most prevalent “Superfoods” out there right now.
Why is Quinoa so good for you? I knew someone would ask! Quinoa qualifies as a “Superfood” for several reasons, but its most glaring property is the fact that it is a complete protein. That means that it has all 9 of the essential amino acids, in correct proportions, that your body needs in its diet to function at its best. Some other examples of complete proteins are meats, cheese, fish, poultry, eggs, yogurt, milk. Quinoa is even more valuable to Vegans because most other complete proteins are derived from animals. Quinoa is a plant. I used some rolled oats, rather than quick oats, mainly because I like the texture and size of the rolled oats better than quick oats. See how large the grains are?
I also tossed in some Buckwheat groats. Buckwheat groats are the grain or kernel of the Buckwheat plant. Now relax, Buckwheat is Gluten Free. Actually it is not even related to wheat at all. It is a completely different plant, and the groats give a nice crunch in this recipe.
Next I opted for some Chia seeds. Chia seeds are very healthy as well and are most often seen in smoothies, energy bars, breakfast cereals, or mixed in with yogurt.
These 4 ingredients, The Quinoa,

20140331-111003.jpgRolled Oats,

20140331-111613.jpgBuckwheat groats,

20140331-111739.jpg and Chia seeds,

20140331-112150.jpgcombine to form the base of my Super Granola. Or Grainola. Or Quinola. Whatever.
So I move on to some more familiar ingredients, but also keeping with the healthy theme. I used some sliced raw Almonds,

20140331-112351.jpgraw Pumpkin seeds,

20140331-112537.jpgraw Sunflower seeds,

20140331-112703.jpgraw Walnuts,

20140331-112844.jpgshredded Coconut,

20140331-113129.jpgCinnamon,

20140331-113306.jpgpure Maple syrup,

20140331-113453.jpgCoconut oil,

20140331-113626.jpgdried Cranberries,

20140331-113751.jpgand dried Blueberries.

20140331-113853.jpgOk pay attention because there might be a quiz afterwards. This is a pretty easy process though, so I expect all of you to ace said quiz!
The first thing you need to do is mix the Quinoa, Oats, Buckwheat and Chia seeds in a large bowl and stir to combine.
Add the Almonds, Pumpkin seeds, Walnuts, Sunflower seeds, Coconut and Cinnamon and stir again to mix.
Add the melted Coconut oil and Maple syrup and stir gently to coat the entire mixture.
Pour the mixture onto baking pan lined with parchment paper.

20140331-114159.jpgSmooth out the mixture into an even layer.

20140331-114329.jpgBake in 225° F oven for 60 minutes.

20140331-114546.jpgRemove from oven and sprinkle dried Blueberries and dried Cranberries over top. Allow to cool completely.

20140331-115240.jpg
Break it into pieces or it crumbles pretty easily as well.. Store in airtight container and enjoy!

20140331-115556.jpg

Culinary Terms From All Over

20140322-161025.jpgWhether you’re looking at a menu at some authentic restaurant, or opening a cookbook to try a new recipe that you’ve been dreaming about, culinary terms can be intimidating. Here is a list of worldly cooking methods, ingredients and some other common culinary terms that will help you solve your next culinary mystery.

A LA CARTE:
Items on a menu that are priced and ordered separately.
AL DENTE:
Italian for “to the bite”. This term is used to describe the proper texture of cooked pasta. Should be firm with just a small amount of bite, but not crunchy in the middle.
BABA GHANOUJ:
A spread or dip made mostly of roasted eggplant. Usually has olive oil and other herbs and spices.
BOUQUET GARNI:
A bundle of herbs usually tied together and added to a dish during cooking to impart flavor. Its is always removed before serving.
BRULE:
Sugar that has been flamed and burned with a torch to the point of caramelization.
BURRATA:
Fresh soft Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream.
CHIPOTLE PEPPERS:

20140322-161358.jpgA jalapeno pepper that has been smoked. YUMM!
CONFIT: Pronounced “con-fee”. A French cooking method where foods are cooked slowly while submerged in oil or fat.
CRÈME FRAICHE:
French condiment similar to the American sour cream, but thicker and more fattening.
EN CROUTE:
Food that is wrapped in pastry dough then baked.
FALAFEL:
Middle Eastern food made from ground chickpeas. It is formed into balls or patties and then deep fried.
FLAN:
A baked custard made with eggs, cream, and vanilla. May contain gelatin. Usually served as a dessert.
FROMAGE:
Say Cheese!
GAZPACHO:
A tomato based vegetable soup, served cold.
GNOCCHI:

20140322-161606.jpgItalian pasta like dumplings made typically from potatoes, flour, and ricotta cheese.
KIMCHI:
Pronounced “Kim-Chee”. Spicy Korean condiment made from fermented cabbage and vegetables.
MIREPOIX:

20140322-161733.jpgMixture of chopped onions, celery, and carrots. Sautéed as a base for many soups and sauces.
ORZO:
Rice shaped pasta.
PESTO:

20140322-161843.jpgUncooked sauce or condiment made from fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
ROUX:
Pronounced “Roo”. Combination of fat(usually butter) and flour cooked together and added to sauces and soups as a thickener.
SAFFRON:
Extremely expensive spice made from the stigmas of a crocus flower. Each crocus produces only 3 stigmas which are hand picked and dried. It takes 14,000 of these stigmas to produce 1 ounce of saffron.
UMAMI:
one of the five basic tastes, the other 4 being (sweet, salty, bitter, and sour). Often defined as “savory with a long lasting mouthwatering sensation”.
Cook. Eat. Repeat.

Any questions???