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Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Homemade Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

img_3906This past summer I visited my parents in Southern New Jersey for a few days.  They are just over half an hour from Philadelphia – home of the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich.  I did have a great sandwich during my visit.  Upon my return to California I wanted to make it from scratch, not using the frozen minute steak product that I have used in the past.  After a quick search on the internet I discovered that the best meat to use is Rib Eye.  There is no going back!  Delicious.  The first two times I made it I completely forgot to take pictures of my sandwiches, so of course.. I had to make them again (and forgot again) and again.  I prefer them on a good crunchy French roll, but a Kaiser roll will do the job.

In order to slice the steaks paper thin, it really helps to freeze the steaks for 45 minutes before slicing them and having a nicely sharpened chefs knife will make it an easy process as well.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 rib eye steaks, freeze 45 minutes before slicing super thin against the grain
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sweet onion (like Maui or Walla Walla or other), sliced thinly
  • bell peppers (red, green, yellow as you desire) washed, stem and seeds removed, sliced thinly
  • mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
  • Provolone Cheese (2 slices per sandwich)
  • 4 crunchy French rolls, split in half and toasted

Instructions:

Freeze the steaks for 45 minutes to help the meat become a little stiffer and easier to slice paper thin.  I remove the bone first as well as large pieces of fat before slicing.  Using a nicely sharpened knife begin cutting each steak thinly at across the grain. You want it to be as thin as possible.

Season the steak with salt and pepper.

Slice your French rolls and toast them under the broiler.

In a large non stick skillet saute the thinly sliced onions in about 1 tablespoon of canola oil.  Season the onions with salt and pepper and cook over medium  high heat until the onions have softened and caramelized.  Remove the onions to a bowl and over with foil to keep warm.  Saute the peppers next, using the same skillet.  When the peppers are softened, remove them to a second bowl.  Next, saute the mushrooms in the same skillet until they are golden brown, adding more oil if necessary and seasoning with salt and pepper.  Remove to a bowl and cover with foil.

Heat the same skillet over High- medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon of canola oil.  Add a quarter of the shaved steak to the pan and cook for 1 minute.  Stir.  Cook an additional minute or two as you desire.  Mound the steak in one area of the skillet and top  with two slices of provolone cheese.  Allow the cheese to melt.  With a spatula, carefully lift the cheese topped steak and place on the toasted roll.

Repeat with remaining steak.

I like to have each person top their cheese steak sandwiches with sauteed onions, mushrooms, or peppers as desired.

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Mennonite Apple Crumble

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My mother sent me this recipe some time ago, but I never got around to trying it.  It is similar to Apple Crisp, but sweeter. My family loved this dessert.  It is especially good served warm with ice cream of whipped cream.  Best of all, it is really easy to prepare.  I think next time I will increase the apples to 7 or 8 granny smith apples from the 5 I used this time.

Here is the recipe:

Mennonite Apple Crumble

Serves 5  |  adapted from an old Mennonite Recipe Book

Crumble topping:

  • 3/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Apple filling:

  • 5-8 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions:

Melt the butter.  In a small bowl, combine the oatmeal, sugar, baking soda and stir.  Add the melted butter and stir into the oatmeal mixture.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt and stir to combine.  Add the apple pieces and stir to coat with the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Evenly spread the apple mixture in a greased baking dish (spray with Pam).  Top the apples with the oatmeal topping and gently press the crumble over the apples.

Bake at 375 F for 35 to 40 minutes.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Jambalaya

IMG_7625I have been wanting to make my own Jambalaya since my husband and I ate some in Las Vegas.  I turned to one of my favorite recipe sites for a good recipe: allrecipes.  I should have also read some of the reviews before following the recipe exactly – it was spicy!  My children were all at a music performance, so the only taste buds that were assaulted by flavor and heat were hubby’s and mine.  I did like the recipe though, but next time I will tone down the spice.  I reduced the amount of red pepper flakes and hot sauce by half in the recipe here – adjust to your liking.  I did use Sriracha so that may have been the culprit for it being too spicy.  The flavors of the recipe were good though.  Added shrimp would be nice too – I would cook them separately, and add them just before serving though, so they do not over cook.

Jambalaya

adapted from allrecipes.com (submitted by Terri)

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 Tbsp canola oil, divided use
1 Tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
12 oz andouille sausage, sliced into rounds on a slight bias
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, diced small
1 small green bell pepper, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp file powder
1 1/4 cups uncooked white rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Instructions

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to the skillet.  Add the andouille sausage and season with half of the Cajun or Creole seasoning.  Turn to brown.  Remove the sausage to a bowl.  Add the remaining cooking oil to the skillet and cook the diced chicken pieces with the remaining Cajun seasoning.  Once the chicken is slightly browned and cooked through for most part, remove wish a slotted spoon.

Use the same skillet and cook the celery, onion, and green pepper in the remaining oil.  When the onion is softened, add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant for about 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Return the sausage and chicken to the skillet.  Once it comes to a boil, cover with lid, reduce heat to low.  Continue cooking for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.  I turned off the heat after 25 minutes and left it covered for 15 more minutes to make sure the rice was completely cooked.

Serve hot.

NOTES: I reduced the red pepper flakes and hot sauce by half in this post, as you can easily add more heat to the dish, but you cannot take it away.  File powder is key and you should be able to find it in well stocked grocery stores.  It acts as a thickening agent.

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Hawaiian Potato Macaroni Salad

IMG_4921On our recent trip to Maui, we were fortunate enough to go to a Luau at the Grand Wailea Resort in Wailea.  Their luau was the best we have ever attended and the food was very good.  One offering on their buffet that I was skeptical about was their potato macaroni salad (Potato Mac for short).  How can you combine macaroni salad and potato salad and get away with that!? Isn’t that a crime?  Well, as it turns out, it is NOT a crime.  It was one of the items I most enjoyed.  I skipped the poi this time, I ate it last time and was unimpressed!  Anyway… on to the good stuff:  Hawaiian Potato Mac!  I immediately went online to find a reliable recipe.  I think I found one on allrecipes.  I did not have celery seed, so I omitted it.  Also I did not need 20 servings so I cut the recipe in half, increasing the eggs to 3 and kept the macaroni at 1 cup because in the original recipe there were more potatoes than macaroni, and at the luau it was mostly macaroni.. so here is my rendition of Hawaiian Potato Mac.

Hawaiian Potato Macaroni Salad

adapted from allrecipes

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup green peas, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 small SWEET onion, (like Vidalia or walla walla or maui)

Instructions:

Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring them to a boil, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and allow to sit for 10-12 minutes.  Immediately after that place the eggs in ice water. This will prevent the eggs from having a green ring around the yolk.  Chop the eggs into small dice.

Cover the potatoes with cold salted water and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to medium low to maintain a boil and cook them for about 15 minutes or until they are fork tender.  Drain them immediately and run cold water over them.  Chop the potatoes into small pieces once they are cooled.

Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions and drain them immediately also running cold water over them to stop the cooking process.

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, curry powder, celery seed, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.  Add the finely grated carrot, cooked peas and finely minced onion to the dressing.  Gently fold the mayonnaise dressing with the chopped eggs, cooled macaroni, and cooled potatoes.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

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Panera’s Mac and Cheese

I don’t know a bout you, but I love Panera!  I love their sandwiches, soups, and sides.  Their macaroni and cheese is quite outstanding and creamy.  After ordering the side recently I went home wanting to find a copycat recipe for the dish.. but I didn’t have to… as it turns out, Panera is quite willing to share the recipe with everyone.  I made it too – I did not have the exact cheeses – I used yellow American cheese instead of white American cheese, and it still turned out quite close to the one they sell.  They use shells in the recipe, but you could use any pasta you like. The surprising ingredient in the Panera recipe is a dash of Frank’s Hot Sauce.  It is very subtle though.

Here is a link to Panera’s Recipe.


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Fried Green Tomatoes

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Fried Green Tomatoes

I found some wonderful looking Heirloom green tomatoes in my local store today and had always had on my cooking bucket list to make them.  Yes, turn on the TV and watch “Fried Green Tomatoes” – in the interest of time (and preserving human life) I skipped the barbecue sauce!  I do not recommend making it anyway – it tasted funny (sorry bad line from the Cannibal who ate a clown joke)… I digress.  Fried Green Tomatoes, I discovered are NOT made with breadcrumbs! Nor are they dipped in egg first (so my good AL friend tells me – it is ALWAYS buttermilk and cornmeal), so I made them twice.  Once with breadcrumbs and once with cornmeal.  The cornmeal ones were much crisper and had a great flavor, but I have to say that the breadcrumb version was also quite edible – I don’t think the Fried Green Tomato police will knock on your door like they did mine (just don’t post it on FB!) hehe  Also for an even more authentic Southern flavor, fry in bacon grease.

Here is a picture of the beautiful Heirloom Tomatoes I found at my local market:

 

 

 

 

 

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 3 green tomatoes (or very firm red ones if you cannot find green ones), sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • a few dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning, optional
  • Vegetable oil (or bacon grease), for frying

Preparation:

Pour the buttermilk in one small bowl and add Tabasco Sauce to season it.  Pour the cornmeal into another shallow bowl and stir in Cajun seasoning if you like the extra kick of spice.

Dip the tomato slices first in the buttermilk and then roll in cornmeal.  Place on a paper plate.

Heat vegetable oil in a non stick skillet (1/8 inch deep) over medium high heat.  When the oil is heated carefully add the breaded tomato slices to the oil, being careful not to splatter yourself.  When the tomato slice is golden brown on the one side, flip them over carefully to fry the other side to a golden brown (about 2 minutes each side).  Remove the fried tomatoes to a paper towel lined plate and allow to cool a little.  Serve with sauce (I used Ranch, but maybe you know a better sauce that is traditional with friend green tomatoes.)  Enjoy.

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Chili

In my quest to find a new chili recipe I turned to the Food Network website.  I have to admit, I don’t like watching Guy Fieri- from the way he wears his hair, to his over the top loud obnoxious personality -to the way he pronounces his name “Fi-etti!”  I am sorry, is there a “t” in your name? He just isn’t my cup of tea, but if you love him that’s great.. he needs a fan base– and he is on TV and I am not…

But I digress!  I did however try his recipe for “Dragon’s Breath Chili” after I read the reviews.  The name (of the chili) is more intimidating than the taste and I made some changes.  I reduced the peppers and cayenne pepper for one thing, because I wanted my kids to have half a chance of eating it!  This is a good recipe with a bit of spice to grab you, but not overpowering.  I may have to change my opinion of Fi-etti yet (Nah, that’s not going to happen!)  But the guy can cook – I give him that much!  It is more involved than my regular chili recipe that I make.  I changed a few things from the cooking too… I first cooked the peppers and onions- removed them from the pot.  Browned the chuck pieces in batches so they would brown properly (if you follow the directions of the original you won’t get nice browned pieces), then cooked the ground beef and sausage together. Once cooked added the spices and then threw it all in the crock pot to cook.  Here is the link to the original recipe. For best flavor, plan ahead and make this a day in advance.  I would place this in the medium+ heat category.  My kids were able to eat it.

Dragon’s Breath Chili

adapted from Food Network (Guy Fieri)

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 Tbsp jalapeno, minced
2 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, chopped
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, chopped
2 yellow onions, diced
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 lbs boneless chuck, trimmed of most fat and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 lb ground beef, coarse grind
1 lb bulk Italian sausage

2 tsp dried minced onion
2 tsp granulated garlic
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
12 ounces lager beer
1 cup chicken stock
2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, drained, but not rinsed
2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained but not rinsed

Topping:
8 oz bacon, cooked and chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded Cheddar

Instructions:

Roasting peppers: I don’t think it is completely necessary, but it does add nice flavor.  How? You place the peppers on your gas burner grate above the flame (or over a barbecue) and turn it from time to time after the skin blisters and turns black.  Then while the peppers are still warm, place them in a paper bag and seal the bag to “steam” them. This loosens the skin and makes them easier to peel later.  I did this process the day before I made the chili.

Chop the peppers and onions.  Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat and melt the butter and heat 1 Tbsp canola oil.  Saute the onions and peppers (bell, chilis) until they are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.  Remove the pepper mixture and set aside.

Add 1 Tbsp of canola oil.  Season the chuck cubes with salt and pepper and brown them in batches in the stock pot.  Remove the browned pieces (set aside), and brown the next batches. (Julia Child was right, for proper browning, don’t crowd the meat).  After the chuck is browned, cook the ground beef and Italian sausage in the same pot.  Remove any drippings.  Add the seasonings (the long list of them- it is worth it).  Stir into the meat and cook for a minute or two. Add the tomato sauce, paste, beer, and chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Carefully pour the contents of your stock pot into your large crock pot.  Add the peppers and browned chuck beef.  Add the beans and stir everything together.   Turn the crock pot on to LOW setting.    Cover and cook on low for about 5 hours, stirring from time to time, or until the chuck beef is tender to the point of falling apart when you try to shred it with a fork.

To serve: top each serving with diced green onions, cheese and crisp bacon, if desired. Serve with cornbread or corn bread pudding.

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