Martha Mondays: Soft Pretzels (and cheese dip)

February 6, 2012

Tiny Skillet chose soft pretzels for our project this week, which worked out well with the Super Bowl. I’ve made soft pretzels before, but these were really good. The pretzels had a fluffy texture that I really, really liked and I think it is because you cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter. Genius. I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for half of the flour in this and was fantastic. I put salt on half and cinnamon sugar on the other half (my kids like them this way). I also made cheese dip to go with these:

2 tbsp butter

3 slices American cheese

4 tablespoons skim milk

pinch ground mustard

pinch pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon light cream cheese

I dump it all in a pan and heat over low to medium, stirring until it is completely melted.


Martha Mondays: Stuffed Onions

November 21, 2011

I only made one of these onions (in November Living, not online yet) because I knew I wouldn’t like it (I don’t like Italian sausage or fennel) and the kids wouldn’t eat it. I had hopes that Mr. MarthaAndMe might eat it, but he did not care for the onion. He thought the stuffing was good. I don’t quite understand the concept of eating an onion, even if it is stuffed. Maybe the rest of you liked it and we’re just weird? It wasn’t hard to make – just took some time. It was also pretty with the red color. Sassy Suppers chose this one, by the way.

I want to let everyone know we have a new member – Ashley at Lady Tailor. She will join in starting next week. Welcome Ashley!


Jamie Oliver’s Tray Chicken

February 10, 2011

The recipe for this was in our Sunday paper. I’ve never tried any of Jamie Oliver’s recipes, but this one sounded good. The little intro that accompanied it explained that Jamie likes this for Sunday dinner. In the winter especially, I do like to make Sunday dinners, so this appealed to me.

I had a bit of an oops with this one. I misread the recipe and forgot to add the broth with the potatoes. Eek. I realized it when I went to add the chicken and added it then. Of course it didn’t thicken enough and the potatoes did not cook completely either. I ended up siphoning some of the juices out and thickening them with flour and adding them back in. Don’t let my disaster scare you away though. This was really, really delicious and when I reheated the leftovers the next day (getting the potatoes cooked through) it was fab. The onion and garlic give this a real oomph of flavor. Having sweet and regular potatoes gives it color and an interesting mix of flavor. I will make this again – and this time I’ll make sure I’m awake enough to follow simple instructions!

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Mac and Cheese, Tweaked

January 27, 2011

I love mac and cheese, but sometimes I like it with a bit of a twist. Here’s my latest version, which I must confess is extra good if you serve it with some meatballs, but excellent by itself. And you will feel virtuous because it has lots of veggies.

2 slices wheat bread

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup fontina cheese

1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 lb whole wheat penne

1 1/2 cup frozen peas

2 oz fresh baby spinach

2 cups cooked cauliflower florets

2 tsp butter

2 tsp flour

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

 

Make the bread into breadcrumbs in the food processor. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Mix and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400.

Begin cooking pasta, you want it done about the time the sauce below is, so make them simultaneously if you can. Just when it reaches doneness, add the vegetables to the pot and cook until they’re hot and the spinach is wilted (about a minute or two).

Mix cheeses in a bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in flour, cooking for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the cream and turn up to high, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occassionally, for about 1 minute. Add in 1/4 tsp salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and vegetables and place them on top of the cheeses in the bowl. Pour the cream sauce on top. Cover and let it sit for 3 minutes.

Pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish and cover with breadcrumb mix, pressing it down into the pasta. Bake at 400 for 7 minutes until the breadcrumbs are slightly browned.

I loved this. I am generally not a Gorgonzola fan, but the little bit in this recipe gives it a really interesting tang. This was creamy and cheesy but it had enough veggies in it to make it feel like a meal to me. Oh and if you just happen to have a bag of turkey meatballs already made in your freezer, adding one to your plate makes this supreme.

 


Martha Mondays Artichoke Crostini

January 24, 2011

Artichoke Parmesan Crostini was a quick and easy recipe that would make a great hors d’oeuvre or party food. I put all the ingredients in the food procesor and whizzed them up. It was ready literally in minutes. I think I might add a little more cheese next time. Thanks to Megan’s Cookin’ for selecting this.

Next week’s project is chocolate cups from p. 56 of Feb. Living. Let me know if you need the recipe.

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Potato Skins

January 18, 2011

The first article I ever wrote about food,  12 years ago, was about making take out food at home and potato skins was one of the recipes. At the time we were living in a rural area, I’d just had my second baby and we were pretty much dead broke since I’d left my law practice to stay home. I spent a lot of time looking for ways to save money.

I’ve always had a thing for the potato skins at TGI Fridays. I get them whenever we go there (which isn’t very often!). Because eating out wasn’t on the agenda much back then (or now for that matter), I learned to make my own.

Bake 4 Idaho potatoes in the oven until done (don’t use the microwave – they have to be baked in the oven). Scoop out most of the potato, leaving a thin layer (when I made it this time, I used the insides to make baked potato soup). Spray the inside and outside of the skins with cooking spray (or brush with olive oil) and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for until they are crispy but not getting too brown (about half an hour). Take out of the oven and sprinkle shredded cheddar or American cheese (or any cheese you like) and sprinkle some cooked, chopped bacon (I used 3 pieces this time). Sprinkle with salt. Put back in the oven until the cheese melts. Mix some chopped chives or scallions into sour cream and serve to dip in (I always make about 1 cup for this amount of skins).

These are a special treat in our house – not something we have often, but when we do, everyone loves them. You could jazz this up with some jalapenos, salsa, chopped ham, French onion dip, or different kinds of cheese. It also makes a great party snack (think: Super Bowl).


Martha Mondays: Real Deal Chili

January 17, 2011

Chili with no tomatoes and no beans? Really? Yup. That’s what the real deal chili recipe is, the project chosen for today’s Martha Mondays by Steak and Potato Kinda Gurl.

I seriously contemplated dumping some tomatoes or kidney beans into this because I was worried it wasn’t going to be any good. It has paprika, cayenne, cumin, and oregano in it (no chilis you’ll notice). But after I got it going, I tasted it and it was pretty good. Plus DudeMartha is not a fan of tomatoes or beans and when I described it to him he was excited. So we went with it. It was good. I put cheese and sour cream on mine. DudeMartha added Tabasco. Mr. MarthaAndMe had just cheese. They gave it the thumbs up. I thought it was good, but it’s not the kind of thing I get nutty over.  How did everyone else make out?

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Fried Apples

January 13, 2011

Someone recently said to me that she had never had fried apples. I could have caught flies, my mouth gaped so much. It never occurred to me that this would be something unusual. I make fried apples a lot, often in the fall, and often to go with pork. My mom and grandma made them often when I was a kid too. They’re just as good as baked apples, but quicker. And sometimes when you feel like your head might explode if you have to come up with another vegetable your kids will eat for dinner, this is an excellent solution.

It is incredibly easy. For the apples in this photo, I used two apples. I cored them, then cut them into thirds (to make rings). I put some olive oil and butter in the pan (maybe 1 tbsp butter with a swirl of olive oil). Sprinkle the apples with a  tablespoon or two brown sugar and a 1/2 tsp or so cinnamon. Add a sprinkle of salt on top. Cover and cook over medium heat. Once the apples are browning on the bottom, flip them over and cover again. Sometimes I will flip a third time to get all that cinnamon-y goodness all over both sides. They’re done when the white part of the apple is soft and getting mushy.

Add more (or less) sugar and cinnamon depending on how sweet you like things. You can’t fit much more than 2 apples per skillet, so you need to do batches or cook with two pans to do more.

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Crisp-Skinned Chicken with Rosemary Potatoes

January 11, 2011

I am a sucker for crispy potatoes. I admit I didn’t really give the roast chicken recipes in Jan Living much of a second glance until Sarah Carey came on the show and made them. The potatoes in the Crispy Skinned Chicken recipe hooked me. I was also interested to try putting butter and cornstarch on the chicken skin.

I used Yukon Gold potatoes because that’s what I had and I also didn’t have fresh rosemary. It turned out really well. This is an open-kitchen-window recipe though – any time I cook chicken at a high temp like this it smokes up the house. The chicken cooked nicely and was quite crisp (so I will use this method again). The potatoes fell apart a bit when I tossed them in the pan and I did have to put them back in the oven once the chicken was out to get them a little browner, but they were good.

I used dried rosemary, so that may be the problem, but I just kind of wanted the whole thing to have a little more flavor overall. Other than that, it was excellent!

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Martha Mondays: Hearty Onion Soup Gratin

January 10, 2011

I chose Hearty Onion Soup Gratin from Jan Living to get us back into Martha Mondays. It’s basically a French onion soup with turnips and carrots added in. I am a lover of French onion soup and have been making it a lot recently (I had one batch where I didn’t stir my onions enough and a tiny bit burned and turned the whole soup bad).

This recipe was fairly simple:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper
4 cups beef stock
4 small carrots, halved lengthwise
3 baby turnips, peeled and cut into wedges or chunks
4 small dried bay leaves
4 large slices of bread
8 slices Gruyere

Heat oil over medium heat in skillet. Cook onions until translucent, about 8 min. Reduce to low and add thyme and cook until golden 35-40 min. Season with salt and pepper

Preheat broiler. Bring stock to boil in pot. Add carrots and turnips and simmer until almost tender, about 5 min.

Divide vegetables among 4 bowls, add onions. Add bay leaf to each. Pour in stock. Place a slice of bread on each and 2 slices cheese. Broil until bubbly.

So now that you’ve seen Martha’s instructions I’ll confess what I did. First of all, I forgot the bay leaves entirely. I didn’t have enough fresh thyme so I used dried. I actually ended up roasting my veggies (and I used baby carrots cut into chunks) in the oven. I added the onions and veggies to the stock (I had about 6 cups of it) and let it simmer for a while so the flavors would combine. I like to make my bread separately on a roasting pan and if we’re eating at home alone, I cut my cheese covered bread into chunks before adding it to my soup to make it easier to eat!

With all that being said, I enjoyed this very much. Really, you’d have to really do something horrible to make me reject a bowl of French onion soup! I enjoyed having more veggies in it and have been eating leftovers for lunch.

Here’s the schedule moving forward for the coming weeks. If this doesn’t work for you, let me know. If you’d like to join up, let me know and I’ll add you.

1/17 Steak and Potatoes Kinda Gurl

1/24 Megan’s Cookin’

1/31 Sassy Suppers

2/7 Perfecting Pru

2/14 Tiny Skillet

2/21 Sweet Almond Tree

2/28 MarthaAndMe

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