Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Taco Ring

This will be my contribution to Super Bowl Sunday. Stephen had a college roommate whose mom introduced us to this glorious food. We ate WAY too much of this in college but we still love it!
I don't eat cheese so Stephen sprinkles his on top after it bakes. The cheese could go in with the filling if you prefer.

The Taco Ring

1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 envelope taco seasoning (less, if desired)
2 crescent roll cans (8 oz. each)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Taco fixings (optional): lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, etc.

Brown ground beef or turkey; drain fat. Season with taco seasoning according to envelope directions. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 16 triangles. Arrange triangles on a pizza stone or greased cookie sheet with short sides of triangles toward center, overlapping into wreath shape and leaving a round opening in center. On a pizza stone, this could make an inner and outer ring. You may also make two rows on a cookie sheet instead (tips still overlapping). Lightly press short sides of dough to flatten slightly. Evenly distribute the taco meat along the widest part tips of the dough. If desired, sprinkle shredded cheese over the meat (cheese may also be served on the side after baking instead). Pull end points of triangles over filling and tuck under dough to form ring. (Filling will be visible. Bake according to package directions (11-13 minutes). Cut into 16 pieces and serve with taco fixings on the side. Serves 2-4 people as a meal or more as an appetizer/snack.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A New (but old) Favorite Chili Recipe

Stephen and I don't like beans - except the green ones. Therefore, finding a chili recipe we like is a little challenging (or we just leave out the beans).

Flashback several years: one of our piano professors in college used to have all of us over for a Christmas party every year and she made VERY YUMMY chili that was made with steak and NO BEANS and served over rice. We enjoyed it very much, but sadly it was forgotten for several years post-college.

Thankfully I had the sense at the time to ask her for the recipe and I rediscovered this recipe a few months ago. Boy, am I glad I did.

The first time I made it, I used venison instead of beef. It was delightful. This week, I made it with beef. Still delightful. It has a little kick which I think I will back down on next time, but we enjoyed it very much.

Plan ahead - it needs to be made the night before or the morning of so it can sit in the fridge awhile.

Joanie's Chili
3 ½ lbs. top round, cut into ½-inch cubes
5 Tbsp oil
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp oregano
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cups beef broth
1 can (1 lb, 13 oz) whole tomatoes
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1-2 Tbsp yellow cornmeal

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot. When hot, add the meat all at once. Sear it, turning constantly until all pieces are lightly browned (3-4 minutes). Transfer meat to bowl. Add remaining oil to pot, add onion & garlic, sauté until onion is wilted, not brown. Stir in chili powder, oregano, cumin and crushed red pepper. Mix well to completely coat onions.

Add broth, tomatoes & juice, tomato paste, salt & sugar. Break up tomatoes with back of a spoon. Put the meat back into the pot, cover and simmer for one hour. Uncover and simmer for 40-50 minutes until meat is very tender.

Cool, cover & refrigerate overnight. To serve, bring slowly to a boil, simmer until heated through. If very liquidy, don’t cover pot; if of good consistency, heat covered. When hot, thicken if necessary by adding cornmeal 1 Tbsp at a time. Serve with rice. Offer red pepper flakes for those who want a little more spice in their lives!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cajun Chicken Strips

This was a yummy meal my mom made when we were growing up. It was from an old Quick Cooking (Taste of Home)magazine. It has a little kick, but not enough to turn Stephen off to it (he's not a spicy food guy). Last night, I served it with rice and corn, but there is a great Corn Bread Casserole recipe that goes well with it also. By the way, does anyone have a great sweet corn bread recipe? Let me know :)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-in. strips
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Italian parsley and chili peppers, optional

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first six ingredients. Add chicken, half at a time, and shake to coat. In a large skillet, cook chicken in butter for 8-10 minutes or until the juices run clear. Garnish with parsley and peppers if desired. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Like, I've mentioned before, I love to try new recipes. I know we have success when my husband asks me to make something again - I LOVE that feeling :) This is one of those successes and it is super easy. It comes from Mary Hunt and her Everyday Cheapskate e-newsletter (a daily e-mail I love to read - great ideas for saving money). The best part about this recipe is it doesn't require many ingredients and I always have these things on hand. NOTE: I used a George Foreman grill when it was really cold outside and that worked perfect!

Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 medium cooking apples (peeled and cut into thin slices)
1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Heat coals or gas grill. Place chicken breast halves between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound chicken to 1/8-inch thickness. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Coat apple slices with sugar mixture. Divide apple slices among chicken breast halves. Fold chicken around apples; secure with toothpicks.Place chicken 4 to 6 inches from medium heat, cover and grill for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once, until juice is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Remove chicken from grill, remove toothpicks. Mix apple cider and cornstarch in 1-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Spoon over chicken and serve. Servings: 8.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pork...It's What's For Dinner

The three of us that eat "real food" in the house all love to eat pork. This is our favorite basic recipe. It came from one of my favorite shows, America's Test Kitchen, which airs on PBS. The recipe is actually for pork tenderloins, but I usually use pork chops and it turns out great! And it is super easy :) We're having this for dinner tonight with rice and corn. I better start cooking.

Pan-Seared Oven-Roasted Pork Tenderloins - Serves 4

2 pork tenderloins , (12 to 16 ounces each), trimmed of fat and silver skin
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle tenderloins evenly with salt and pepper; rub seasoning into meat. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Place both tenderloins in skillet; cook until well browned, 3 minutes. Using tongs, rotate tenderloins 1/4 turn; cook until well browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat until all sides are browned. Transfer tenderloins to rimmed baking sheet and place in oven; roast until internal temperature registers 135 to 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 10 to 16 minutes.

2. Transfer tenderloins to cutting board and tent loosely with foil; let rest until internal temperature registers 145 to 150 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes. Cut tenderloins crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, arrange on platter or individual plates; serve immediately.