Monthly Archives: January 2014

Cheddar-Beer Fondue

Yesterday, the recipe I brought you had beer.  Today, this recipe has beer.  Honestly, it was a coincidence.  I do love beer but I’m not at the point where I have to have it in my food.  At least not yet.  There is a restaurant near me called Redstone American Grill who has the best jerk chicken fondue I have ever had.  When I came across this recipe for Cheddar-Beer Fondue, I really wanted to see how easy (or hard) it was to make fondue at home.  Especially when you don’t own a fondue pot.

Light beer, Dijon mustard, garlic, and hot sauce are whisked together in a saucepan before cheddar cheese is added and melted until ooey and gooey.  A little cornstarch tossed with the cheese before it goes in helps to thicken this fondue up a little and the Dijon mustard and hot sauce add perfect complementary flavors.  I used reduced-fat cheddar cheese and, I have to admit, I thought this was going to be a disaster.  The cheese, which first seized and stuck in clumps to my whisk, eventually softened up and melted smoothly.  Obviously regular cheddar cheese will react, and probably taste, better but I was pleasantly surprised by this fondue.  I served mine with apple slices, baby carrots and coins of smoked turkey sausage but broccoli florets, grape tomatoes, bread cubes, brussels sprouts, grapes, clementine wedges, baby potatoes and even chocolate would be other great dippers.  Additionally, any other of your favorite melting cheeses like mozzarella, smoked Gouda, Fontina, or Gruyere could be used instead of cheddar.  This may be a little messier than you want for a party but just keep napkins nearby because who doesn’t love cheese?

Want some other appetizer ideas for the big game?  Try Buffalo Chicken Cheese Bites, Chipotle-Garlic Edamame, Layered Bean Dip, Lemon-Horseradish Dip, Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Sausage-and-Feta Cheese-Stuffed Peppers, and Tortellini Caprese Bites.

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The ingredients:

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Heat beer, Dijon mustard, garlic, and hot sauce in 4-quart saucepan on  low; whisk in Cheddar cheese tossed with cornstarch until melted and  smooth.

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Serve with sliced cooked sausage, cooked new potatoes, bread cubes, vegetables and/or apple slices for dipping.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Good Housekeeping magazine

Slow-Cooker Beer-Braised Smoked Sausages and Onion

This weekend is the Super Bowl and, as if we don’t turn on the news every single night and have to constantly hear about the Polar Vortex and how cold it is outside, the biggest story surrounding the big game is what will the weather be like.  Like the organizers of the Super Bowl didn’t know when they chose East Rutherford, New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium that it didn’t have a DOME and that it could be cold, and possibly snowy, in January.  So when the news people finally stop talking about the weather and move on to sports, we still have to hear about the weather.  Sorry, but isn’t the Super Bowl about football?  Anyway, whether you are having people over for the game or sitting at home watching the game alone, why not make some fun food just because you can?  These Slow-Cooker Beer-Braised Smoked Sausages and Onion are an easy food to throw together and forget about for several hours.

Smoked sausages with cheese (I used Johnsonville’s Turkey Sausage with Cheddar) are browned in a skillet before being layered into a slow-cooker with butter, grainy mustard, brown sugar, caraway seeds, and onions before being bathed with your favorite beer.  After a couple of hours, these sausages take on a completely differently unique – and amazing – flavor.  If you are like me and never really knew what caraway seeds tasted like, they taste like rye bread which I happen to love.  I’ve eaten these particular sausages before and this recipe completely transforms their flavor.  Serve these on your favorite roll or eat them plain for the game this weekend and maybe you might not care a lick about the weather.

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The ingredients:

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Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, coat the bowl of a slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place butter, brown sugar and mustard in slow cooker; stir in onions, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Place sausages over onions and pour beer over the top.

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Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours.

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Serve sausages on rolls with onions. Top with mustard and cheddar, if desired.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Smoked turkey sausage with cheddar

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Family Circle magazine

Chicken Cacciatore

It’s hard to believe that it was so sunny this past weekend and not terribly cold and now it’s freezing and we are getting up to 10″ of snow.  Really?  Just when I think winter isn’t so bad, things go drastically south.  Tonight it’s supposed to be 8 degrees.  I don’t even know how to process that.  Some people hate being cooped up inside when it’s snowy and cold but I thinks it’s a perfect time to do some cooking.  This Chicken Cacciatore is a quick, tasty, and comforting dish to help satisfy that specific hunger that only comes with winter.

Diced chicken is tossed with dried basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes before being sautéed with fresh red pepper and earthly mushrooms.  The secret weapon of jarred tomato and basil marinara sauce helps to keep this dish simple and a little red wine adds an extra dose of bold flavor.  As the dish simmers, the flavors meld together to make a perfectly easy chicken cacciatore that can be served with your favorite pasta, quinoa, rice or simply vegetables.  Talk about a perfectly warm dinner for a cold and snowy night.

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The ingredients:

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Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with oregano, dried basil, and red pepper.

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Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently.  Add mushrooms and bell pepper to pan; sauté 5 minutes.

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Stir in pasta sauce and wine; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in salt and black pepper.

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Sprinkle with cheese and fresh basil.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Basil

Substitutions:

  • Baby portabella mushrooms

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Fried Brown Rice with Red Pepper and Almond

I’m not the biggest fast food fan.  We ate fast food here and there when I was a kid but for the most part, my mom usually cooked each night.  Considering she worked a full time job and then came home to make us dinner, I can understand why we had fast food every so often.  But I don’t really have a palette for fast food anymore (unless I’m on a road trip when all I want is French fries and a milkshake) but instead, when I don’t feel like cooking, I instinctively call the Chinese food restaurant for takeout.  My guilty pleasure go-to dish is vegetable fried rice which is probably one of the worst things a) on the menu and b) ever.  Since homemade fried rice dishes are never as good as the real thing, I’m hoping I’ll find a homemade recipe that I like enough to keep me from picking up that phone.  A girl can hope.  This time, I tried Fried Brown Rice with Red Pepper and Almond.

Onion, garlic, red pepper, and sliced almonds are sautéed in peanut oil briefly before adding in precooked rice (a HUGE time saver).  Fresh lime juice, curry paste, and cilantro leaves are adding such unique flavors that you don’t even realize that there isn’t a lick of soy sauce anywhere.  The curry paste is mild and has a very subtle flavor, much different than curry powder, so don’t be scared of it and don’t leave it out.  It really adds a great bold flavor to this rice.  The peppers and onions are sweet and the lime juice really gives this a vibrant flavor boost.  This vegetarian dish comes together quickly so you don’t have to spend much time over the stove after a long day.  Still not your cup of tea?  Try one of the other fried rice recipes in the link.  You just might find one you like that will keep you from order Chinese food or hitting that fast food restaurant.

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The ingredients:

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Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl. Add onion and garlic; stir-fry 1 minute.

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Add bell pepper and nuts; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add rice; stir-fry 1 minute.

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Stir in lime juice, curry paste, cilantro, and salt.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Red curry paste

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Chili and Spice Popcorn

Did anyone else watch the Golden Globe awards last night? I did, of course, because I get sucked into things like that and no matter how bizarre the whole thing is, I really do like to see what people are wearing and hope to see some awkward moment like Jacqueline Bissette’s acceptance speech.  Could the men have looked any better this year?  Geez!  Usually it’s the women’s dresses that are all the talk but nothing gets much better than seeing Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Taylor Kinney, and Jared Leto is tuxes.  Wowza!  Anyway, a perfect and quick snack for a long television event like the Globes is this Chili and Spice Popcorn.

Plain old microwavable popcorn is jazzed up with a mixture of melted butter, chili powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  The mixture of the spices with the brown sugar makes this snack wonderfully sweet and savory which just melts on your tongue.  This popcorn is slightly addictive and before you know it, you’ll be licking your fingers and considering making another batch.  Now that’s a good golden snack.

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The ingredients:

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Prepare  a 3.5-oz package of microwave popcorn according to package directions. Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. Combine chili powder, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

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Drizzle melted butter over popped popcorn followed by spice mixture.

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Toss to combine.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Woman’s Day magazine

Tex-Mex Chicken Soup

I’m not sure where you live but where I live, it’s been downright cold.  Friday we got 8 inches of snow and I woke up Saturday morning to the temperature outside being only 5 degrees.  I had plans to go to a football game later that day which meant walking around in layers and layers of clothing.  Those are the kind of days where the cold just permeates you and you can’t escape it.  Even in the comfort of home and my running heater, I was always chilled.  The best way to warm up on days like that is to warm up from the inside.  This Tex-Mex Chicken Soup is a perfect way to beat the cold.

Onion, garlic, red pepper, and jalapeño are sautéed in olive oil until soft and fragrant before being mixed together with vibrant spices of chili powder, cumin and crushed red pepper.  This mixture becomes the basis for this soup which adds precooked rotisserie chicken, corn, broth, tomatoes, and black beans (which I only left out because I thought I had them on hand when I didn’t).  The result is a bold and flavorful tex-mex soup that is a perfect soup to warm your soul.  I wish I would have had the beans to add in but even without them, this was a very satisfying soup.  Plus, there is something very satisfying about having a pot of soup simmering on your stove on a frigid day.  It’s like that little mixture of ingredients not only warms your body, but the scent warms your home too.

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The ingredients:

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Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, onion, and next 3 ingredients; sauté 3 minutes. Add chili powder and next 4 ingredients; sauté 30 seconds.

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Add chicken and next 4 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes.

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Top evenly with cilantro and queso. Serve with lime.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Black beans
  • Queso fresco

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

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