Friday, July 25, 2008

Whip It Up Week 3 - An Asian Adventure!

I was in the mood for something different this week, and a package of ground pork spoke to me when I was in the grocery store the other day. Then I remembered there were two recipes over on Shawnda's blog that I had been wanting to try, and both of them used ground pork. Pork fried rice and potstickers it was!

Both recipes were very tasty and easy to follow. The fried rice was very easy to make. The potstickers involved more steps in terms of preparation, and folding the dumplings can be a bit of a challenge, but none of it was too difficult. I didn't pay proper attention to the cooking temperature for the potstickers, so mine didn't turn out quit right - in fact, the bottoms of my potstickers did stick to the pot. They may not have been pretty, but they still tasted great! I think we'll keep both of these recipes.

Shawnda serves her potstickers with an orange sesame dipping sauce. We just dip ours in soy sauce. I made a few modifications to the fried rice recipe. First, I used brown rice instead of white (which worked perfectly). I also added mushrooms to the assortment of vegetables because I really like them in my fried rice. Bryon doesn't eat mushrooms, but he's perfectly capable of picking them out. I also like more egg in my fried rice, so I used 2 eggs instead of the 1 the recipe calls for. Finally, I doubled the amount of soy sauce used in the recipe, and we both ended up putting more soy sauce over the rice on our plates.

Pork Fried Rice

½ lb. ground pork
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups cooked rice, cold
½ cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup carrots, chopped
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup green peas
1 egg
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

Brown the pork over medium high heat, drain and set aside. Add vegetable oil to skillet over high heat, stir fry onions and rice. Add carrots and peas and stir fry for 2 minutes. Push rice to side. Whisk egg, pepper, and sesame oil and pour into skillet. Stir until egg is cooked and mix into the rice. Add pork and soy sauce, taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Excuse my sad little bowl of potsticker pieces


½ lb. ground pork
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup chives
2/3 cup green onions
1 cup Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Wonton wrappers (about 30)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Cook the ground pork over medium heat until done. A dd the remaining ingredients (through the garlic) and cook until the greens have wilted nicely. Let the mixture cool just a bit and add it to the bowl of a food processor. Process the filling until it reaches the desired consistency.

Lay a wrapper on a flat, dry surface a put a tablespoon of the mixture in the middle. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, wet the wonton wrapper surrounding the filling and fold the dumpling, pressing the seams together: bring two opposite corners to the center; bring the remaining corners to the center one at a time and press tightly.

Add oil to a clean skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add dumplings. Add 1/3 cup water to the pan and cover tightly. Remove from heat when the dumplings are golden brown on one side (about 4 minutes)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Whip It Up Makeup

I was a busy, busy superhero last week, and although I did managed to try a new recipe (two, actually), I didn't manage to find time to write it up and post it. So here are last week's recipes, and hopefully tomorrow I'll get this week's (and yes, there are two recipes again this week too) posted.

Our annual tubing trip was last weekend, and that meant I needed cookies! I decided to try my hand at two different recipes, but giving each a twist of my own. First, I decided to try out and "doctor-up" my grandmommy's peanut butter cookie recipe. Then I gave my friend Kasey's oatmeal-craisin cookie recipe a go and jazzed it up a little more. Both types of cookies were a big hit this weekend, so I think they'll definitely be made again, and neither recipe was any more difficult than your average cookie recipe.

Grandmommy's Peanut Butter Cookies - With a Twist!

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 bag Reese’s baking peanut butter cups

Cream butter; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine flour, soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternating with peanut butter, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla. Fold in Reese’s cups. Cover and chill 1-2 hours.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. If using Reese’s cups, roll in sugar, then place on ungreased cookie sheet. If not using Reese’s cups, place balls on ungreased cookie sheet and press with fork dipped in sugar to flatten cookies, making a crisscross shape on top. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Yield: About 10 dozen.

Monkey Tree Oatmeal Craisin Cookies - Jazzed Up!

½ pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 (generous) teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups Quaker oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup Craisins 1 cup walnuts (toasted for 3-5 minutes at 350)
1-2 cups coconut

Heat oven to 350. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well. Add oats and Craisins; mix well. Stir in walnuts and coconut.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Yield: About 4 dozen.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Whip It Up - Pasta!

Okay, for my first foray into the Whip It Up challenge, I stuck to the suggested theme of pasta. My friend Sarah had recently posted this Rachel Ray recipe on her blog and I was interested in trying it out. I made a few modifications of my own, which I have made note of below. Bryon and I both liked it, and it was super-easy, so I think it will definitely stay in our "rotation."

A few notes about this recipe (and RR recipes in general) from Sarah's blog:
  • Read through the entire recipe at least once before you start. There are always a couple of twists and turns that you might miss if you aren't ready for them.
  • You must chop/prep all the ingredients before you start cooking.

I used the entire 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper that it called for. We tend to have somewhat "milder" palates. This amount was just fine, but any more would have been too much for us. Those out there who like spicier Italian dishes will probably want to add more. In the future, I'll probalby use just a little bit less. I may also cut back just slightly on the amount of fresh basil in the future (I was probably a bit heavy-handed with it this time). I love fresh basil, but it almost gave the sauce a slightly licorice-like taste. The allspice gives the sauce a really nice flavor, though. It sort of warms you from the inside out.

You only use half of the meat/tomato sauce in the final toss. The leftover sauce is supposed to be for topping purposes. We found this wasn't necessary. In the future, I'll probably just make a half-recipe of the meat/tomato sauce, since the other half is currently sitting in the refrigerator, waiting for me to come up with a use for it.

Not-sagna Pasta Toss

Easier than lasagna, because it's not, this pasta, meat sauce and ricotta toss-up is just as hearty and comforting as the layered Italian fave, but it's ready in a fraction of the time and with much less effort.

1 pound curly, short cut pasta (i.e., campanelle, fusilli, cavatappi)
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (2 turns of the pan)
2 pound ground sirloin*
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (eyeball it in your palm)
Black pepper
½ teaspoon allspice (eyeball it in your palm)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce*
½ cup dry red wine (a couple of glugs)
½ cup beef stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
**3 teaspoons granulated sugar**
1 cup fresh basil (about 20 leaves)
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (a couple of handfuls), plus some to pass at the table

*I used whole wheat pasta, ground turkey, twice the amount of Worcestershire, and the entire 15 oz. container of ricotta.*
**RR's recipe does not call for sugar in the sauce. My grandmother taught me that almost any recipe involving cooked tomatoes needs some sugar to bring out the flavor, and I found that to be true of this recipe as well. **

Heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente. Heads up: you will need a ladle of the starchy cooking water to help form sauce before draining.

Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add the meat and break it up into small bits as it caramelizes. Once meat has good color to it, 4 to 5 minutes, add garlic, onions and red pepper flakes and season with salt, pepper, allspice and Worcestershire sauce. Cook another 5 minutes, deglaze the meat and onions with red wine, cook off a minute, then combine about 1/2 cup of stock into the meat. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 5 minutes.

Place ricotta cheese in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Add a ladleful of boiling, starchy pasta water to the ricotta and stir to combine. Add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan to the ricotta and mix it in.

Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with cheeses. Add half the thick meat sauce to the pasta bowl and combine. Tear or shred the basil and add to the meat and pasta, toss again. Taste to adjust salt and pepper.

Serve bowlfuls of Not-sagna with extra sauce on top and more grated Parmesan to pass at the table.

Source: Express Lane Meals by Rachel Ray, Food Network