November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Dessert: Chocolate Cream Pie

 Has everyone recovered from the Thanksgiving feast yet?  Well, then it's time to share a dessert that I made twice during the last week!  The first time was for Thanksgiving and then again to share with friends Friday night.

I am a big chocoholic, so it's no surprise that when I'm asked to bring a dessert that I go searching for something rich and chocolatey... and in this case it's not so bad when it comes to the calorie count since it's from Cooking Light!  Huge Bonus!

I did cheat slightly and bought a pre-made graham cracker crust, but made the rest of it as the recipe directed.  The filling is so rich and chocolatey no one guessed it was a low-calorie treat!   I had My Youngest help me make the filling and this is a great recipe to get the kids into the kitchen to help out.

 The filling is a rich, home-made pudding and is so easy to do that I can see playing around with other flavor possibilities... possibly a bit of orange or raspberry liquer instead of the vanilla.  Just a hint of something else to intrigue your family and friends.

It's so simple to make... about 20 minutes and it's in the fridge chilling until it's time to serve!  You can find the recipe at My Recipes (HERE).

Now, with Hanukkah starting Wednesday night, I have to get busy and make some latkes and other yummy treats!  It's so early this year and it's making me feel like I've already fallen behind!

Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.
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November 27, 2010

Broccoli-Cauliflower Gratin

 I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends this past week.  We enjoyed a fantastic meal with the family that happened to be in New Jersey for the holiday.

I didn't host this year, but was happy to make a couple of dishes to contribute to the meal.  We wanted to add another veggie side dish to the meal, at least to give the appearance of healthy food on the table.  Of course, I went one step further by making it cheesey based on a recipe I found at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. Susan's description and photos of the dish made it clear this would be a perfect side dish for our Thanksgiving dinner.


This is a perfect dish for sharing at a holiday meal or a potluck.  I changed the cheese to fontina because that is what I had on hand and also thought that the mild flavor would appeal to more people.

I especially loved the crunch of the bread crumbs, which I subbed with Panko bread crumbs... they stay so perfectly crunchy.  The added texture makes this dish a big winner.  Of course, how can you go wrong with a cheese sauce drizzled over veggies?  Seriously, you could get any picky eater to try this one!



Here's the recipe with my changes noted in bold.
  

Broccoli-Cauliflower Gratin
adapted from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy - originally adapted from Barefoot in Paris

Ingredients:
1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
2-3 cups of broccoli florets 
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Fontina cheese, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs 

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Cook the broccoli and cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.

3.  Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Fontina, and the Parmesan.

4.  Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained broccoli and cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Fontina and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.
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November 23, 2010

Chefs On Call at ShopRite

 Thanksgiving is nearly here... can you believe it?  I really can't understand how it snuck up on me like this.  I'm not hosting, which is probably a good thing because having a holiday like this sneak up on you when you are hosting is not a good thing.

I do know what I am bringing to share at our families Thanksgiving feast and will share those dishes with you after they are made and photographed.  What fun would sharing them be if there were no pictures to look at as well?

We all have stories or have witnessed holiday catastrophes in the making when it comes to the big meal.  Wouldn't it be nice to have someone  you could call to save you from culinary ruin the day of the big meal?  ShopRite has a perfect culinary resource for all of your questions - Chefs on Call!

Chefs from their culinary kitchens throughout the region will be available to help everyone from the beginner just dipping their toes (so-to-speak) into cooking a big meal to those experienced home cooks who just have a question answered to ensure a fabulous meal will be served.

All you have to do is call 1-800-ShopRite (1-800-746-7748)  on Wednesday, November 24th between 12 to 7 p.m. or Thursday, November 25th between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you provide your email address when you call, you will also receive special holiday dessert ideas perfect for those with diabetes.

It's nice to know that as you prepare the big family meal you have a resource that you can rely on for those culinary questions that may come up over the next couple of days!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! 


Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.

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November 21, 2010

Banana Snacking Cake (or is it really Banana Bread?)


I've made many different banana bread recipes over the last few years... there was Browned Butter Banana Bread, Orangey Banana Bread, Raspberry Banana Bread, The Cooking Light "Mom's" Banana Bread, Strawberry Banana Bread... just to name a few!  You would think I'd stop trying new recipes by now... but, that's where you are wrong!

I found a recipe in a recent issue of Cooking Light that I just had to try.  It was called Banana Snacking Cake (click on the link for the recipe name for the recipe), and since I always have brown bananas hanging around I figured I'd put it to the test.  The recipe was very simple to put together and baked up beautifully.
The cake stayed nice and moist even a few days later.  I had My Oldest who happens to be the banana bread connoisseur try it.  He thoroughly enjoyed it and even asked that I make it again with some other add-ins... maybe blueberries next time... or even chocolate chips.  I think this recipe will lend itself well to variation.


While this was a tasty recipe, calling it cake could be debatable.  It's baked in a square pan so yes, it looks like  a cake, but it really tastes like another solid banana bread recipe.  Truly it makes no difference what you call it because it is a moist, delicious cake.

I guess this will be my current go-to recipe for using those brown bananas that gather on my counter each week... at least until I find the next banana bread that I need to sample!

Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.
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November 16, 2010

Cooking by Intuition: Pasta in Pink Sauce

 We've had to change our schedule for eating dinner these days.  With a change in the length of sports pratices, eating when we get finished is really not an option now.  So, early dinners it is!  I've put the crockpot into use again and will be trying another new recipe tomorrow that I hope to share soon.  But, for tonight I took my inspiration from an article I read in the newest issue of Food & Wine.

To be honest, I have thought about canceling my subscription to F&W because I really don't cook from the recipes in the magazine.  Of course, this issue has caused me to look at those recipes and information in F&W and the other food magazines I get in a new way.  There is an article in which the author declares he is a recipe addict.  Yep, prior to this article he defined his cooking by the number of recipes he had prepared.  The interesting point of the article though is how he came to realize that intuitive cooking is what all of these recipes and cookbooks are there to help you gain the confidence to do!

I adore cookbooks, and by the collection I have in my bookcase that's no secret.  I also love reading recipes and even making them for my family.  What I think has gotten lost in my love of these things is that I am a pretty confident home cook and I am also pretty good at most cooking techniques.  Yes, there are many that I still would like to learn and incorporate into my repertoire... but, in the meantime, I've got enough to work with on a daily basis.

This is just the inspiration I needed.  Quick and simple meals made at home before rushing off to a practice are the order of the day here.  So, tonight I decided to pull together a pasta in a pink sauce... and (yikes!) work without a net (aka: recipe), so to speak.

I had a pretty good idea of what ingredients would work for the flavor I was wanting for this dish.  I wanted some protein added  so that it would be a complete meal - some thinly sliced chicken was sautéed as the first step in this dish - after it was done I pulled it out of the skillet and set it aside.  Next, I drained a can of diced tomatoes and added that to the skillet, along with some minced garlic.  To incorporate some additional flavor I added some white wine and a bit of chicken broth.  After bringing all of that to a boil, it was time to add some heavy cream.  To thicken the sauce up a bit, I added some freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.  Once all of that was incorporated together, the chicken was added back into the skillet.  Lastly, the cooked and drained pasta was added and tossed with the light pink sauce.

 Dinner was a big success with all but My Oldest.  He's going through a picky thing right now... and typically is only happy with fish, spinach and potatoes.  While those are all healthy choices, we simply can't eat that for dinner every night.

So, lesson learned... pull out ingredients and build a dish based on what you know.  I know I didn't share exact measurements, but then again when cooking this way you don't always measure as you go.  That is the way My Grandma and My Mom cooked most of our meals and testing by taste is the best way to ensure you've added everything you need.

Dinner may turn out to be something wonderful and you don't need to cook from a recipe every night to do that either!

Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.
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November 11, 2010

Kid's Choice: Cheesy Sausage Potatoes

 Every once in awhile, I look in the fridge to see what's there and then start talking out loud about what we should have for dinner.  This often results in My Boys giving their opinions - not always agreeing with my thoughts - on what they think we should have... and, every once in awhile I let them help figure out the meal.

I've read over and over that allowing kids to help in the meal planning or preparation will encourage them to try different things.  While they are really pretty good about eating whatever we have for dinner, sometimes they just aren't thrilled with what we might serve on a given night.  So, giving them a chance once or twice a week to request something empowers them to feel like they have a choice - within reason, of course.

Recently, I just didn't have a lot of ideas off the top of my head when I found Italian sausage links and potatoes in the fridge.  We were really "over" pasta that week and needed something different with dinner.  So, with both boys by my side we did a Google search for recipes with potatoes and sausage in them.  Don't you just love the power to search for things like that?  Anytime My Boys have a question I can't answer right away, they always suggest we go Google it.

So, after checking out a few different options in the search results, we ended up choosing a recipe from Allrecipes - Cheesy Sausage Potatoes.   How can you go wrong with the three basic ingredients of sausage, potatoes and cheese?  I read through the reviews and adjusted a bit based on what others had suggested and My Oldest really loved this recipe!  My Youngest was not so impressed, but then he's not a huge potato fan unless they are mashed.

The only additional change I would make would be to add a couple more links of sausage.  I only had 3 links, so it was not quite a pound as the recipe stated.  It was quick and easy to prepare and will be a dish we'll have again.

Cheesy Sausage Potatoes
Adapted from Allrecipes

 
Ingredients
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound bulk pork sausage (I used about 1/2 pound of Italian sausage - definitely use more with that many potatoes)
1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese

Directions
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, crumble sausage into a large skillet; add onion. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain if necessary.

Drain potatoes; arrange in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over potatoes, then drizzle with butter. Add sausage mixture and stir gently. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.
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November 8, 2010

My Day at the Culinary Institute of America

I got up early on Saturday morning and took a drive up to Hyde Park, New York.  Why?  It just happens to be the home of the Culinary Institute of America and My Husband had given me a gift certificate to take a class there.  After a lot of deliberation, I finally settled on taking the Flavors of Asia class.

When I arrived, it was still pretty chilly outside so walking into the building and being greeted by a table of coffee and tea to warm up was a wonderful welcome.  While we were waiting to be called to our kitchens, we had a bit of excitement.  The fire alarms went off!  It seems this is not an unusual occurrence since the system is so sensitive and things to get burnt in the kitchens.  Once the fire department gave us the all-clear, we were allowed to go inside and begin our day in the kitchen.  Seems they are used to visiting the campus as they come armed with empty Tupperware, just in case there is some food that needs “saving”.

Our kitchen was set-up with the ingredients for each country we would be making recipes from that day – Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and China.  While each group was preparing their portion of the menu, we were encouraged to walk around and see what else was going on at the other stations.

The Chef Instructor and student chefs were very helpful and gave hints and tips throughout the day.  I loved how he suggested making the pork dumplings by cupping the dumpling in your hand.  You then fill it and squeeze it a little to make it look almost like a pouch.  We topped them with sliced shrimp and they were one of my favorite recipes of the day.


He also said that he prefers to create his own ground pork and he does it the “old fashioined” way, 2 knives!  After he started chopping the meat, he gave me a chance to try it as well.  It looks easier than it is – working with two knives and chopping like crazy.  I wasn’t as fast as he was but enjoyed the chance to try it.

The class gave me so many helpful tips that I can’t begin to share them all here.  I plan to incorporate some of the ideas into my cooking and experiment more with Asian cooking.  I came home with a copy of the CIA cookbook, The Flavors of Asia, which will be a nice launching pad for playing in the kitchen.

If you ever have a chance to take a class at one of their campuses, I would definitely recommend it.  After you prepare the food, you sit down to enjoy quite a feast with the other cooking enthusiasts there that day. 

I came away from the class with a thirst for learning even more, and am searching for some more local cooking courses I can take until I get another fabulous gift to go back to the C.I.A.


Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.
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November 1, 2010

Life as I Know it: Blogging Out Hunger & Doing Some Good

 Last Saturday morning, we got up and spent some time helping the Interfaith Food Pantry in our area.  We've done it before and it was a fantastic opportunity for us to show our boys that they can help other people by doing something and getting involved.  We sorted food for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday - which we were told they already have 700 families in need of a holiday meal since they began taking requests at the beginning of October.

Helping people get the food they need for their families is something I can truly get behind.  For those of you who have been visiting here for awhile you may remember about 2 years ago I participated in the Blogging Out Hunger campaign which was the spearheaded by Deb Smith of Jersey Biters in an effort to help the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.  

Once again, bloggers across New Jersey are coming together to raise awareness of the problem of hunger.  The economy is still struggling to recover and families are having a hard time finding the money to put meals on the table each day.  You might be asking yourself... What can I do to help?

Well, it's very simple.  When you are shopping at your local grocery store and checking out you'll see donation slips similar to those in the image below titled "Check Out Hunger".  You can donate by adding as little as $1 to your grocery bill.

 You can also donate by going to website and donating directly to Check Out Hunger.

When you stop to think about it, many of us have the privilege of coming home to a warm house and a full refrigerator every day.  If we can fill our own refrigerator, why can't we share a bit of what we have with those who are struggling?  No child should have go to hungry at dinner time.

This time of year the supermarkets have their donation slips hanging near the check out so as your eyes wander over to see which celebrity is on the cover of the whatever magazine is displayed... let them wander over to the Check Out Hunger slips and pull one off to add to your grocery bill.

Be sure to visit Jersey Biters to see the complete list of bloggers who are participating in the Check Out Hunger campaign.

Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.
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