Entries Tagged as 'cheese'

“Grilled” Zucchini and Cheese Canapés

These elegant appetizer bites are ready in about 10 minutes, start to finish. [Read more →]

Recipes to Rival–Tamales!

Hello dear readers!  I’m sorry I haven’t been writing much lately…I’ve been in a bit of a funk.  My cuh-RAY-zee meds got screwed up and it really sort of effed me right up.  Things are better now…ye olde kinks have been worked out and I’m back to being only an average level of mental rather than full on nuts.  This is a good thing…because today I have a special treat for y’all.  Tamales!

Last month I read on someone’s blog about a new group called Recipes to Rival (to find out how to join, scroll down the sidebar), which is kind of a savory counterpart to the Daring Bakers…

[Read more →]

Squisito! Risotto al Nero di Seppia

Ok, so how’s my Italian so far? hmmm?  lol  Italian is such a beautiful language…just hearing it makes me happy.  The way the words flow, and the intonation, well, it’s a language I would love to learn.  Languages have always fascinated me…ever since childhood I wanted to learn Spanish, and once in high school, I found that I loved it!  Then, I moved on to French…and after that, Japanese in college.  Italian has been on my list of things to learn, though, for quite a long time.  I wonder if it’s possible to teach one’s self a language?  Probably not, huh? lol  Some day.  Some.  Day.  In the meantime, cooking Italian dishes and coming up with corny Italian titles for them will have to suffice. hehe (**let me clarify…I am NOT fluent in all of these languages…only English and Spanish! lol  I have only studied them, and love them. :D )

Risotto Negro, or “Black Rice,” is another one of the things we ordered on our night out.  At the restaurant, they served it with pan seared monkfish, but, I thought that prawns would be better suited.  I like monkfish when it’s prepared to mock lobster, but other than that….not so much.  (Do you have any suggestions for improving the texture?  It always seems so rubbery.  yuck :P )  This particular variation of Risotto is made with squid ink, which gives it its signature color.  If you’ve never tried squid ink, please consider it.  It has such a divine, subtle flavor…just hinting at the taste of the squid (calamaro or seppia).  Even Mr. Picky Pants loves this rice–and that, my friends, is saying something. lol

So let’s get cooking, shall we?

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, minced
2 very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
2 cups rice
1 cup dry white wine
4-6 cups fish stock (I used prawn stock I had in the freezer–the amount will vary depending on your tastes)
3 envelopes of squid ink (12 grams total), or 3 squid ink sacks
1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 pounds (1 kilo) prawns, steamed
alioli to garnish

Preparation:

Before anything, combine the squid ink packets with a small amount of water and thoroughly combine.
Reserve.
Heat oil and butter over moderate heat.
Saute garlic until golden, then add onion, tomato and pepper (save a little bit of pepper for garnish).
Continue to saute until tender, then add in rice and stir well for about 2-3 minutes.
Add wine and reduce, stirring constantly.
When wine is absorbed, add broth, ladle by ladle waiting for the liquid to absorb before adding more. You’ll need to stir this constantly as you cook it, to avoid sticking and burning.
When the rice is nearly done (depends on how you like your rice, and whether you like it drier or with more of a brothy feel), add in the squid ink mixture and thoroughly combine.
Test your rice for seasoning, and adjust salt and pepper.
Add in the parmesan and stir to combine.
Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnished with steamed prawns, chopped roasted peppers and alioli.

Ingredientes:

2-3 cucharadas aceite de oliva virgen
2 cucharadas mantequilla
3-4 dientes de ajo, majados
1 cebolla grande, picadita
2 tomates maduros, pelados, sin semillas, y picados
1 pimiento rojo asado, picado
2 vasos arroz
1 vaso vino blanco seco
4-6 vasos fumet de pescado (Utilicé fumet de langostinos que tenía congelado. La cantidad varía dependiendo de los gustos de uno)
3 paquetes tinta de calamar (12 gramos en total), o 3 bolsitas de tinta de calamar
1 vaso queso parmesano, recién rallado
1 kilo langostinos, cocinados al vapor
alioli para acompañar

Elaboración:

Antes que nada, mezclar los paquetes de tinta con un poquito de agua.
Reservar.
Calentar el aceite y la mantequilla sobre fuego medio alto.
Sofreir el ajo hasta que esté dorado, y a continuación, añadir la cebolla, el tomate y el pimiento (reservar un poco de pimiento para adornar después).
Seguir sofriendo hasta que esté todo tiernito y a continuación añadir el arroz, removiendo constantemente.
Añadir el vino y reducir, removiendo constantemente.
Cuando se haya absorbido el vino, añadir el fumet de pescado poco a poco (cucharón a cucharón) asegurando que se haya absorbido todo el líquido antes de añadir mas. Tendrás que removerlo constantemente para evitar que se pegue ni que se queme.
Cuando el arroz esté casi hecho (dependiendo de como te gusta el arroz…mas seco o mas caldoso), añadir la mezcla de tinta de calamar y remover bien.
Comprobar el sazón y rectificar la sal y la pimienta.
Añadir el queso parmesano y remover bien.
Retirar del fuego y servir de inmediato, adornado de langostinos, pimientos asados y alioli.

Michelle’s Incredible Lentil Salad

Do all of you know Michelle at Thursday Night Smackdown? If you don’t?  Get over to her site right now! I’ll wait.

No, seriously, I will.

Isn’t she great? She has the best sense of humor, and her blog is filled with delectable goodies ranging from appies to salads to mains to desserts. I discovered TNS a few months ago, and it has quickly become one of my “first reads” in the morning. Thursdays are “Smackdown” days. Michelle chooses a recipe from one her many cookbooks and makes it. Mondays are “Cheap Assed” days, where she uses pantry staples and inexpensive ingredients to make incredible meals for *under* *$5!* per serving. With today’s economy, that is one hell of a bonus! You may remember her Extreme Rotini and Cheese, that I am totally claiming as my own from now on (sorry Michelle! lol) As of late, she has been making meal after incredible meal…all spot on with my tastes. It’s as if she were trying to seduce me with her cooking. You’re not, are you, Michelle? lmfao I’m just teasing. It’s just that…I dunno…awesome food…swearing…getting my funny on…well, it’s just the best, that’s all. It’s like one stop blog shopping. Treats! Snark! Giggle! See what I mean?

So anyway…the other day she made this incredible looking lentil salad. Lentils! Salad! I’m so there. Not only is this salad good, it’s EXCELLENT. I even cheated. I didn’t cook my lentils with the oh so fun to make cloved onion. I used a jar of lentils. That I had in the pantry. Then added the ever so smallest pinch of ground cloves to the salad. Nobody noticed that I hadn’t spent that extra hour plus cooling time. See that? And? AND I was frugal, because I used pantry goods, as well as basil from my leetle basil plant on the patio.  I also subbed Feta cheese, because that’s what I had.  That salad was free! I had everything in the house. I bet you do, too.

Now, there are a couple of events that I want to participate in. My very good friend Shaye, at Smarter than Pancakes had a birthday recently, and would like us to bring something to her Birthday Picnic!

I’m bringing this salad. Not only because it’s freaking fabulous, but because it’s a dish that lends itself *perfectly* to an afternoon outside with friends. So, Happy Birthday, Shaye! MUAC!

Grace at A Southern Grace is also hosting an event, called Beat the Heat! 

that I’d like to participate in, seeing as it’s hot as Hades round here, and we’re all looking for refreshing dishes to combat the scorching heat of summer. The catch?  No heating up the kitchen!  Microwaves and ice-cream makers are allowed, but not the stove or oven or any other heat emitting appliance.  Grace, check this salad OUT man. Seriously. If this doesn’t beat the heat, maybe we’ll have to have a beer with it or something. ;) lol

Extreme Rotini and Cheese and a Gaw-jis Meatloaf

rotini and cheese

“So what in the Sam Hill is Nikki doing making meatloaf and mac and cheese in the summer for?” you ask? Well. Even though the temps are soaring, and the sun is blazing, I braved the house heating oven. For One Reason. Michelle, at Thursday Night Smackdown posted her oh so decadent creamy cheesy rotini. Did you see that stuff?! I may have slobbered all over myself. And cried with envy at that dish. She is such a fabulously funny writer, making *thee* most amazing of foods. I mean, this gal makes $55 sticks of butter for recipes, folks. Michelle is also the poached egg Master (Madame? Mistress?).  I bow down to her talents, people.  Seriously. 

So back to the Cheeeese….the Rotini and Cheese…I followed Michelle’s recipe pretty closely, though I did make a few changes, which I’ll note here:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds (750 grams) rotini
1/2 cup butter
a few saffron threads
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 quarts (1 1/2 liters) milk
2 cups grated white Cheddar
1 cup grated Gouda
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Regiano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
plenty of freshly cracked black pepper
a spoonful of sweet Spanish paprika
a generous grate of nutmeg
2 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preparation:

First, preheat your oven to about 350ºF/175ºC and get your pasta water boiling.
While this is getting started, get your sauce going.
Heat butter over medium heat.
Remove from heat and add saffron threads.
Stir this around a little bit so the saffron releases it’s color and aroma.
Add flour and whisk until creamy.Add the bouillon (be sure it’s pretty powdery, and whisk it through)
Add a bit of milk and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Add remaining milk and return to heat.
You’re going to have to whisk this pertnear (that’s a Minnesotan word, guys…it means “almost.”) constantly until it heats through and begins to thicken.
This will happen after about 10 minutes or so.
When the sauce is just beginning to thicken, add the remaining seasonings and stir through.
Now it should really start to thicken up.
Remove from heat and add the cheeses.
Taste a spoonful (or 5) to make sure the seasonings are right.
You might need to taste some more spoonfuls to be sure.
Once you’ve gotten the sauce right, cover and set it aside.
Your noodles should be about done by now, right?
Drain them and add them to the sauce.
Stir it all up.
Pour this into an oven proof dish.
Now, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in the mic quick.
Add the melted butter to the bread crumbs and mix it up really well with a fork, until it has a sandy texture and appearance (yum! let’s eat sand!).
Sprinkle this all over the top of the noodles and cheese.
Bake about 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
See that?

rotini and cheese

“So what about this so called ‘gaw-jis’ meatloaf?” you ask…”And anyway, who the hell has ever seen a beautiful meatloaf?”  No one has.  It just isn’t possible, because meatloaf is ugly assed food.  But I don’t care, because it is really, REALLY good.  Meatloaf may not be beautiful on the *outside,* but it sure is gorgeous when you take that first tender bite, seasoned just so, with a kick of Sweet Baby Ray’s slathered over the top for good measure. 

gawjis meatloaf

Now that’s good eatin’.

Ingredients:

2 pounds (1 kilo) ground beef
1 egg
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup milk
garlic powder…lots, at least a tablespoon
1/2 envelope of Knorr Onion soup mix
a bunch of cracked black pepper
a good splash of Worcestershire sauce
a good splash of HP Sauce (or Heinz 57, or A1)
Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce to cover the top

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC.
In a large bowl, mix everything except bbq sauce really well.
You may need to use your hands for this, it’s just easier.
Spread the meat mixture into a loaf pan, or make a free form loaf on a lipped baking sheet or jelly roll pan.
Cover with bbq sauce.
Bake for about an hour, until cooked through.
Drain off excess liquid and allow to rest, covered for about 15 minutes.
Slice and serve.

I decided to serve this with some steamed asparagus, bathed in butter and lightly seasoned with sea salt and cracked pepper.

asparagus

Man. This is living. So THAT, my friends, is why I made rotini and cheese and meatloaf in the summer. I bet you anything you want to do the same right about now. LOL ;)

Proximamente…las recetas en español. :)

The Best Cup-o-Noodles You’ll Ever Eat! Creamy Pesto Penne

Fresh basil is abound at the vegetable markets, and you know what that means! Pesto! Lots and lots of pesto! It’s such an easy sauce to make, and goes oh so wonderfully well with, well, with *everything!* lol Would you believe the very first time I ever had pesto was at the Renaissance Fair in Southern Minnesota? There was a stand there that had freshly baked dense bread slathered with pesto. I think I went back to that stand like 5 times that day. lmfao Of course after that fateful day, I had to learn to make it on my own. Well, that was over 20 years ago already (and you better not make any old jokes either! :P ), and pesto still pays regular visits to my table. And by regular? I mean like at least once a week.

pesto

See those pine nuts in there? Yum. Pine nuts are soooo good…One of my first visits to Spain, we went up to a little town called Ávila. While walking, one of my friends picked up a gigantic pine cone and started eating from it. I was all like, “WHAT are you doing?” And she started laughing at me and showed me that she was eating the fresh pine nuts, straight from the cone. OMG! Free pine nuts! All over the place! Well, needless to say, we picked up a bunch of those suckers and had our fill of those delicious little nuggets. Good times, good times.

And while I’m on the subject of good times, Tony at Olive Juice is having a pesto event (It’s actually part of a series of events called, A Taste of the Mediterranean)!

italy

Doesn’t that sound like fun?! Why don’t you join in and submit one of your own pesto dishes? This time, I’m submitting my old standby, Creamy Pesto Penne. I already have plans for another pesto dish this weekend, too. :D

creamy pesto penne

Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (to toast pine nuts, just toss them in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and aromatic)
1 large bunch basil (by large, I mean about 3 cups leaves), stemmed
1 small bunch parsley (about a cup), stemmed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (about)
3 cups cream
1 pound (1/2 kilo) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 pound (1/2 kilo) penne

Preparation:

Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, make pesto.
Using a food processor, first process garlic, then add basil and parsley and process until finely chopped.
Now toss in the parmesan, salt and pepper and pulse until combined.
In a steady stream, add enough olive oil to bind the pesto (so it sticks together, but isn’t liquid-y).
Add in pine nuts and pulse to combine, you don’t want to break them up entirely..those little nuggets are good! :)
Mix about 1/3 of the pesto with the chicken strips.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
Saute chicken until cooked through, then add cream and stir to combine.
Heat through, then remove from heat and add the remaining pesto and stir to combine.
Drain the pasta, and then toss with the creamy pesto sauce and chicken.
Serve with extra parmesan if you like.
Try not to die of happiness and joy with each bite. ;)

Penne con Pollo y Salsa de Pesto Cremoso

Ingredientes:
 
4 dientes de ajo
1/2 vaso piñones, ligeramente tostado
1 manojo grande de albahaca fresca, (unos 3 vasos)
1 manojo pequeño de perejil (un vaso)
1/2 vaso queso parmesano recientemente rallado, y mas para servir
sal y pimienta al gusto
1/4 vaso (mas o menos) aceite de oliva virgen
3 vasos nata
1/2 kilo pechuga de pollo en tiras
1/2 kilo pasta penne rigate

Elaboración:

Preparar pasta según el paquete.
Mientras tanto, preparar el pesto.
Utilizando el robot de cocina, procesar ajo primero.
A continuación, añadir la albahaca y el perejil y procesar hasta que estén picaditos.
Ahora añadir el parmesano, la sal y la pimienta y procesar.
Verter el aceite poco a poco hasta que el pesto esté homogéneo, pero no líquido.
Añadir los piñones y pulsar un poco, no quieres romperlos del todo–que son buenos! :)
Mezclar la tercera parte de pesto con el pollo.
Calentar una sartén sobre fuego medio fuerte y rociar con aceite de oliva.
Saltear pollo y pesto hasta que esté hecho, y a continuación, añadir la nata.
Calentar solo hasta que la nata esté caliente, y retirar del fuego.
Añadir el pesto que sobra y mezclar bien.
Escurrir la pasta y mezclar con la salsa y el pollo.
Servir con parmesano si quieres.
Intentar no morirse de gusto y felicidad con cada mordisco. ;)

I would also like to thank Elle at Elle’s New England Kitchen for awarding me an I love you this much award!

i love you this much

Thank you so much, Elle! I love YOU that much and MORE!!! MUAC!!! :D

I’d like to pass this award on to some great bloggers:

Nina at Nina’s Kitchen
Judy at No Fear Entertaining
Ginny at Just Get Floury
Gloria at Canela’s Kitchen
Brenda at Flanboyant Eats
 

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