Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicken-Pecan Quiche Recipe

Camera Girl is cooking up my favorite quiche; it's super easy and super delicious. Definitely take the time to make this crust, because it’s not much time at all, and well worth the effort! This is a great way to use leftover chicken (for best results, avoid canned chicken with this recipe—why would you want to do that to yourself?))


Quiche crust:

1 cup CHEDDAR CHEESE (shredded)
3/4 cup PECANS (chopped)
1/2 tsp SALT
1/4 tsp PAPRIKA
1/3 cup OIL

Make the crust first. Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Add vegetable oil and mix thoroughly. Press into a 9” pie tin and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool completely. While the crust takes its sweet time, whip up the quiche filling.

Quiche filling:

3 Lg EGGS (lightly beaten)
2 cups CHICKEN (cooked, chopped)
1/2 cup CHEDDAR CHEESE (shredded)
1/4 cup ONION (minced)
1/4 tsp DILLWEED (dried)
HOT SAUCE (to taste)
1/4 cup PECANS (chopped)

In a bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, chicken broth, and eggs and mix together until smooth. Add the chicken (already cooked and chopped well); this is a great way to use leftover chicken, or simply cook up and chop 3-4 thighs, which is what we usually do. Add shredded cheese, dried dill weed, minced onion, and hot sauce to taste. Mix well and pour into cooled pie crust. Top with chopped pecans and bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes. The pie will set and be golden brown when finished. Remove from heat and allow to rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Bon appétit!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quick Chocolate Treats

Need to provide a dish for a party, but don’t have the time? Need it to look homemade even though you don’t want to actually make anything? This is a quick chocolate treat idea for lazy hosts and lazier guests. If you're going to a party or having a party, this is an easy dish to whip together with almost zero effort (the most annoying part is unwrapping the candies).

Quick Chocolate Treats

You’ll need:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arrange pretzels on a baking sheet (putting wax paper underneath will make cleanup a breeze). Top each pretzel with a peanut butter cup or chocolate caramel (if it was just me, I’d use only peanut butter cups, but Camera Girl likes the caramels, and it makes for a better variety if you’re making the dish for guests). Place baking sheet in oven for 4 minutes to soften chocolates. Remove baking sheet from oven and top softened chocolates with pecan halves. For variety, top some of the chocolates with pretzels. Allow chocolate to cool before removing treats from baking sheet.

That’s it! Pretzels, chocolate, and nuts…who doesn’t like that? It’s easy peezey and a great treat to serve when you don’t feel like making a great treat.

Bon appétit!

(I like pretzels on the bottom and top with a peanut butter cup in between. Camera girl likes the pretzel on the bottom with pecan half on top and a chocolate caramel in between; she says it's like one of those "turtle" candies. Pecans are okay, but they're too expensive...pretzels and peanut butter cups are all you really need, but get the rest if you're tryin' to be fancy pants.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spicy Fried Shrimp

I love fried shrimp, and “tempura” is just a fancy pants word for “fried”. This dish is a knock-off of a dish I love to order at a Chinese restaurant when I’m down in Tampa, but since I don’t live in Tampa, I had to figure out how to make the recipe for myself—and I’ve done it! The key is cilantro, and lots of it—also lots of garlic and a little hot pepper, too! Be sure to use a non-stick pan to cook up the spicy pepper mix, otherwise you’ll be setting yourself up for a headache and burned garlic!

1 lb SHRIMP (peeled and deveined, tail on)
1 bunch CILANTRO (1 to 2 cups chopped)
10-12 cloves GARLIC (chopped)
1 or 2 hot PEPPERS (chopped)
1/2 cup GREEN ONION (chopped)
1 tsp RED PEPPER FLAKES (or two tsp!---optional)
1 cup ice-cold WATER
frying OIL
SALT (to taste)

Chop up 1 bunch of cilantro, stems AND leaves. Chop 2 green onions. Dice peppers, I like to use 2 green chili peppers, but use whatever peppers you like depending on how much heat you want in the dish. Finely chop 10-12 cloves of garlic. Heat a non-stick skillet with 2 Tbsp of oil—definitely use a non-stick skillet!!
Add peppers to skillet and allow to cook 1 minute, then add garlic and red pepper flakes (adjust pepper flakes to taste). Cook for 1 minute and then add green onions. Be sure to keep ingredients stirring, reduce heat as necessary to prevent garlic from burning. As garlic browns, add the cilantro and continue to stir ingredients, cooking out the moisture. It’s okay if the garlic browns well, as long as it’s not burned; the dryer the ingredients get the better. Cook the ingredients down and then remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
Heat up the oil for the shrimp. While the oil heats, prepare the tempura batter. It’s best not to prepare the batter ahead of time. In a bowl, beat 1 egg, add 1 cup of ice-cold water, then add 1 cup of all purpose flour. Mix together into a thin batter, but don’t over mix—it’s okay if there are some lumps. Test the batter in the frying oil; the batter will sizzle and float if it is ready.
Use peeled and deveined shrimp with the tail still attached—the tail makes a perfect handle. Dip shrimp in batter and then shake off the excess. Lay shrimp in the hot oil and cook 3-4 minutes, turning once. DO NOT cook too many shrimp at the same time because they will stick together and not crisp and brown evenly. When the shrimp are golden, remove from oil and drain on a paper towel (the 1st batch I put into the pepper mix to drain).
When all the shrimp are fried, add them to the pepper mix and return the skillet to the burner on low heat. Salt to taste and toss the shrimp GENTLY and thoroughly with the spice mix. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

I like to serve this dish with sticky rice and a sautéed green, something like cabbage or bok choy. Give it a try a let me know what you think, and bon appétit!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Asian Jicama Salad

Jicama is a root vegetable that can be served raw. It is similar in appearance to a potato, but tastes more like an apple, although not quite as sweet; I find it has an “earthier” taste. Many folks compare the crisp texture of Jicama to that of a water chestnut. Jicama is especially good in this recipe because it takes on the flavor of the dressing very well

Asian Jicama Salad

1 cup JICAMA (cut into 1 inch sticks)
1 cup SNOW PEAS (cut into ¼ inch widths)
1 cup NAPA CABBAGE (torn into salad-size pieces)
2 Tbsp VINEGAR (wine or rice)
4 tsp HONEY (or 2 tsp sugar)
1-2 Tbsp WATER

Peel JICAMA root and cut into matchstick shapes. Tear CABBAGE into salad-sized pieces (substitute romaine lettuce if preferred, but I find the cabbage holds up better in the dressing). Slice SNOW PEAS into ¼ inch widths. Shred CARROTS. Combine all in a bowl and mix.

In a smaller bowl, add VINEGAR (red or white wine vinegar or rice vinegar can be used), SOY SAUCE, HONEY, TOASTED SESAME OIL, and WATER (start with 1 Tbsp of water and add another if desired). Mix ingredients.

Combine dressing and vegetables and toss thoroughly. Serve as a side dish to add Asian flair to any meal---and it’s great with fish.

Bon Appétit!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Delicious Sausage Tomato Pie

This looks like a pizza, but it's definitely not a pizza! The crust has a flaky pastry quality and the onions act the part of a pie filling. This is a rich dish, bordering on decadent; it’s super filling and super flavorful. For a meatless alternative, try faux sausage—or no sausage at all—this dish works well just as a Tomato Pie.

Sausage Tomato Pie

3 large ONIONS
2 medium TOMATOES
8-10 oz SAUSAGE
8 oz MOZZARELLA CHEESE (shredded)
5-7 GARLIC CLOVES (finely chopped)
¾ stick BUTTER (soft)
¼ VEGETABLE OIL (plus oil for sautéing)
2 Tbsp PARSLEY (chopped)
CHILI POWDER, CUMIN, SALT (to taste for sausage seasoning)
DRIED ITALIAN HERBS (thyme, oregano, basil, etc.)

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a skillet and add GARLIC. Sauté for 1 minute and add SAUSAGE. Continue cooking, adding CHILI POWDER, CUMIN, and SALT for seasoning. Cook meat to completion and set aside in a bowl. Slice 3 large ONIONS into strips. Add oil to pan and add onions. Cook onions down until soft and caramelized; this may take some time, but the more completely the onions are cooked down, the tastier the final dish will be! Remove onions from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, combine 2 cups ALL PURPOSE FLOUR and ¾ stick softened BUTTER. Mix butter into flour thoroughly. Add ¼ cup VEGETABLE OIL and continue to mix. Add ½ cup Water. Mix until the dough is smooth. Spoon onto ungreased pizza pan and spread (use the spoon!). Spread evenly into the size of a large pizza and leave a raised edge for the crust. Place in pre-heated oven and cook at 375 F for 10 minutes. Remove dough from oven and top with DIJON MUSTARD. Spread a layer of mustard evenly and cover dough completely except for the outer edge—just like spreading mustard on a sandwich. Add cooked onions and spread evenly over the mustard. Top with SEASONED MEAT and MOZZARELLA CHEESE. Top dish with sliced TOMATOES and sprinkle liberally with dried ITALIAN HERBS: oregano, thyme, basil, etc..

In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp OLIVE OIL, 2 Tbsp TOMATO SAUCE, and 1-2 Tbsp fresh chopped PARSLEY. Brush mixture over each tomato slice. Return pie to the oven and continue to bake at 375 F for 30-40 minutes until edge of crust is brown.

Bon appétit!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cornish Game Hen Dinner

Cornish hen is a classy bird, and a perfect meal for 2 when cooked up with potatoes and carrots.

1 CORNISH HEN (for this recipe I'm using a 1.5 lb. size hen, adjust cooking time for a smaller bird)
2 POTATOES (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
4 CARROTS (chopped into 1/2-1 inch pieces)
1 ONION (large onion, cut into large pieces)
1 GARLIC BULB (chopped)
4-5 sprigs ROSEMARY (finely chopped)
1/4 cup BUTTER (melted--substitute olive oil, if desired)
SALT and PEPPER to taste (this is a great dish to load up with extra seasonings...try cumin, seasoning salt, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasonings, etc.)

If you're using a frozen hen, allow bird to thaw overnight in the fridge. Wash hen well and cut through the breast and into two halves. Lightly oil a baking dish and place halves. Rub both sides of hen with salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. Cover hens with potatoes and carrot and additional seasoning. Top with chopped onion and melted butter and cover dish. Cook in 400 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Remove, mix ingredients, cover and return to oven for 15 minutes more. Remove hen from oven and uncover. Mix ingredients, place hen halves on top of vegetables and return to oven and cook additional 10 minutes. At this point (dish has cooked 55 minutes total) I like to turn on the broiler and broil each side of the hen for 2-3 minutes, making the skin crispy and tasty. Keep an eye on the hens and do not overbroil! Remove from the oven and serve. I like to rub dried oregano between my palms and coat the plate and serve with sliced tomatoes.

Bon Appétit!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Awesome Easy Shrimp Linguine

A fast and tasty pasta dinner recipe for two!

Awesome Easy Shrimp Linguine 

1 pound SHRIMP (20-30, peeled and deveined)
8oz LINGUINE (about ½ box)
1-2 cups BROCCOLI florets (or substitute ½ cup PARSLEY if you’re not into broccoli)
6-8 GARLIC cloves (minced)
½ large ONION (finely chopped)
½ stick BUTTER
3-5 Tbsp OLIVE OIL
SALT to taste
(add oregano or Italian herbs if desired--I like just the extra garlicky taste)

Prep your ingredients first, then get your pasta cooking.  I like to add a Tbsp of olive oil to my pasta water as well as a 2-4 tsp salt.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions and whatever firmness you desire.  I'm using whole grain wheat linguine for this recipe, which takes about 12 minutes to cook--a bit longer than most linguine.  The cooking time for the skillet ingredients should be around 7-9 minutes, so try to time your pasta to finish with the shrimp--overcooked shrimp is rubbery and overcooked pasta is mushy, so timing is everything!!!

In your skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1/4 butter on medium heat.  When hot, add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add onions and continue to cook a couple more minutes.  Add broccoli florets, and add more butter and oil as needed.  If you don't want to add broccoli, substitute 1/2 cup chopped parsley instead.  Sauté  florets, garlic, and onions another 2 minutes and then add shrimp.  Throw in some Italian herbs if you want to get all herby.

The shrimp will be done when they turn pink--don't overcook or they'll turn rubbery!!  Remove the cooked pasta from water and add directly to the skillet.  Don't drain or strain the pasta!!--you're just throwing away good flavor.  Add the remainder of your original 1/2 stick butter.  Mix pasta and ingredients.  Add some pasta water to the mix (about 1/2 cup or so).  I find that the salt in the water and butter is plenty for me, but salt a little more if desired.  Remove the skillet from the heat and serve.  Fresh Parmesan cheese and toasted garlic bread are nice accompaniments!!  Maybe some wine?
Bon appétit!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Best Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is a versatile food, similar to rice, but with 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s easy to prepare and super tasty. The salad recipe below makes an excellent meal, a tasty side dish, or a light snack. Serves 2-4.

1 cup quinoa
3 medium tomatoes (chopped)
¼ cup red onion (finely chopped)
3-5 garlic cloves (minced)
½ inch ginger (minced)
1 cucumber (chopped)
1/3 yellow pepper (chopped)
1 carrot (thinly sliced)
¼ cup parsley or cilantro (chopped)
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt (to taste)

Add 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10-15 minutes (I find it usually takes about 15 minutes). Place cooked quinoa in bowl and let cool—doesn’t have to cool completely—by the time you get your other ingredients prepped, the quinoa will be cool enough. Add vinegar, olive oil, salt, and stir well. Add onion, ginger, and garlic. I usually chop the onion fine and MINCE the garlic and ginger VERY WELL. The raw garlic and ginger adds lots of flavor and nutrition. Give the bowl a good stir and get these ingredients mixed thoroughly. Add yellow pepper (red pepper is fine, but yellow makes a nice color contrast), cucumber, carrot. Sometimes I also add green onions—or even diced jalapeños if I'm looking for a little kick—feel free to experiment with any vegetables you enjoy in a raw state. Mix ingredients and then add the tomatoes. I like to add the tomatoes last so they don’t get too beat up by the spoon. If you’ve got some parsley or cilantro on hand, throw that in as well—I make sure I’ve got some cilantro on hand when I’m making this dish. A bit of lemon juice is a nice finish and will also help keep the colors of the dish vibrant. Bon Appétit!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pizza For Lazy Cooks

Movie Night wouldn't be Movie Night without pita pizza.  It's easy to make and easy to clean up and tastes that's perfect, right?

1 15oz can Tomato Sauce
2-3 Tbsp dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Basil
2 tsp Thyme
2 tsp Garlic Powder (more if you love garlic)
Salt and Pepper to taste (also, a little dried jalapeño can give the sauce a nice kick)
--The sauce you make at home will be tastier than the sauce you buy in the jar at the store; you can make it your own, add the herbs you like, as much or as little as you like.

Pita Bread –Any kind of pita will do, we use whole wheat. Rubbing olive oil around the edges of the pita will make a tasty edge (I like it that way!), but it isn’t necessary to do so. One pita makes a nice personal pizza size if you’re a self-disciplined SOB, which I’m not. For two people, we usually make 4 or 5 assorted pita pizzas, cut them in half, and have a mini-buffet.

Toppings?...there’s no end to the possibilities. Pita pizzas are a great way to experiment with topping ideas.

Pour tomato sauce into a bowl and add oregano, thyme, basil, and garlic powder (salt and pepper can be added if desired…but check can to see if tomato sauce is already salted). For sauce with a kick, add some dried jalapeño. Mix ingredients well.

Rub olive oil around the edges of your pita for a tasty crust (optional). Spread sauce over pitas and then add toppings. It’s usually a good idea to start with a little cheese on the bottom and end with more cheese on the top --what goes in between is up to you (leftovers in the fridge often make great pizza toppings! Ever have a meatloaf pizza?).

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes (this is a good cooking time if you like to pile on the toppings…for faster cooking, bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes…it’s quicker, but quicker isn’t always better)


Chef Buck loves:
Spinach (this topping should go on first, so it doesn’t dry out), Feta cheese, Tomato slices, Mozzarella cheese, and extra herb topping.

Camera Girl loves:
Mozzarella cheese, red peppers, artichokes, and fake sausage.

Artichoke is a great topping (just keep a can in the cabinet). Shrimp makes a nice change-up. And trying different cheeses is always a good idea. Havarti and Ricotta are two cheeses we use often—they can bring a fresh taste to the pepperoni blues.
Keep a jar of pizza sauce in the fridge and some pitas in the freezer and dinner is always only moments away.

Bon appétit!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Easy Beet Greens Recipe

If you purchase beets with the greens intact, don’t throw those greens away!!! You can cook up a nice dish using the greens (and if you don’t buy beets with the greens, then you need to make an adjustment in your shopping habit).

1 bunch beet greens
½ red onion (chopped)
1/3 Red bell pepper (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Lemon juice or vinegar (optional)

Remove the greens from the root and wash thoroughly –greens always seem to need a good washing, especially beet greens. I like to separate the green leaf from the thicker stem since the leafy greens will need far less time to cook. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil on med-med high heat. When the oil is hot, add onions and garlic. I chop the onion big and the garlic thin. Stir for a minute and then add the red bell pepper and stir for a few minutes more. I use about a third of a red pepper, not too much—it’s more for color than to influence the taste of the dish—it’s a nice contrast to the dark greens. Add a little water if needed, but not too much, the greens will release plenty of water. Add the beet green stems; these will soften pretty fast, so a minute or two will be plenty of time (overcooked veggies are a drag, man). Add the leafy greens. Initially, I don’t mix the greens with the ingredients; I just cover the skillet for a minute or two and give the greens time to wilt. Remove the lid and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir a minute more. That’s about when they’re ready. Camera Girl likes to add a splash of lemon, but I can take it or leave it (some folks like vinegar with greens). Remove from heat and serve hot.
Beet greens make a great side, especially with chicken or a cheap cut of meat. I serve greens as a main dish, over quinoa, which is a seed that acts like a grain and is an excellent source of protein.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Delicious Raw Kale and Beet Salad

Kale is a rough and tough cabbagee-thingy that's a little less than friendly in it's natural state, but massaging salt into the raw leaves can turn Kale into a delicious salad green. Here's my favorite raw kale recipe:

Raw Kale and Beet Salad

Kale (8-10 leaves)
2 Beet roots (medium-sized)
2 Tomatoes (small...I use plum tomatoes)
2 Carrots
1/2 cup Golden Raisins
Salt (to taste...I use approx. 1 tsp.)
Pepper (to taste)
Olive Oil (1 Tbsp)
Balsamic Vinegar (2 tsp)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove greens from beets and cut root bulbs into smaller pieces, about 1/2 inch squares. Spread the beet pieces onto a baking pan and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook for 25-35 minutes, remove and allow to cool.
While beets are cooking, remove the spine from the center of the kale leaves and tear kale into salad pieces. Kale is rough, but adding salt to the greens will draw out moisture and soften the leaves, making them darker. Gently massage salt into the kale until it achieves a desirable consistency, this may take several minutes. Grate carrots into the greens, add raisins, then toss and divide portions into salad bowls. In a separate bowl, add diced tomatoes and cooled beets, then add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper and mix together. Spoon beet/tomato mixture over kale greens and serve.

This is a delicious way to enjoy and optimize the benefits of raw kale. I'm not usually a big raisin fan, but I find the raisins work really well in this salad. I've contemplated tossing minced ginger into the mix, but haven't gotten around to doing so, although I might next time I whip this dish up. If you give it a try, let me know what you think.

This is one of the healthiest dishes I routinely prepare, but be aware, eating beets can cause some rosy changes when you answer "the call of nature". (Don't be alarmed, you probably won't be fact, you'll probably be doing a lot better.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

TV Dinner Cupcakes

Would you eat these? My sister made TV dinner cupcakes. They look pretty cool, but I don't appreciate candy and cornflakes on my cupcakes. She used this recipe as a guide and did a little tinkering:

I broke one of the chicken bones during the making of this video
...sorry, sister :^(

Friday, January 21, 2011

Easy Fish Stew

Ever wonder what to do with the el cheapo can of jack mackerel you see on the grocery aisle shoved in between the tuna and salmon? It can be used to create a delicious fish stew! It's easy-peezey-lemon squeezey and a tasty bang for your buck.

Fish Stew
(serves 4-6)

2 cans Mackerel
2 medium Onions (chopped)
1 to 2 cups Celery (chopped)
32 oz. Stock (chicken or veg---or use 1/2 stock 1/2 water
1 can Tomato Paste (I use only 2/3 can)
1-2 Tbsp Lemon juice
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Parsely (chopped)
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt/Pepper (to taste)
Red Pepper (cajun seasoning--optional--to taste)
Dried Jalapenos (optional --to taste)

Drain mackerel, break fish apart, and set aside in a bowl(I remove some of the less attractive bits of skin and bone, but I'm not militant about it). Heat olive oil in a pot and saute onions and celery for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stock. A full can of tomato paste can be used, but I usually just use 2/3 of the can (it all depends on how tomato-ee you like it). Use two cans of stock (32 0z) or just use 1 can stock and 1 can water. Bring pot to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring as needed. Add fish and return pot to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. While simmering, add lemon juice and seasonings. Stir occasionally and add water if needed.

Serve over rice or with crackers or bread.