Saturday, December 31, 2011

Missi's biscuits

Now, I'm kind of a biscuit freak. When I drive past KFC, it's not so much chicken I'm interested in -- it's the biscuit. Actually, at least two biscuits. Put that with some butter and honey and shut the front door, I'm done.

Anyway, I'm at book club, and our book club has really turned into sort of a dinner club thing. Turns out we are all pretty good cooks and bakers, so the food is always great. Last time, though, Missi took it up a notch. She made biscuits.

And then she told us about the recipe, and it must have been a hoot because we were all like, "NO WAY!" and she was like, "YES way," and it disintegrated into some kind of '80s convo from there.

So, the rest of us, having eaten the biscuits, swooned, asked and received the recipe, promptly went home and made these biscuits. Some of us made them twice. Now, as a Christmas gift, I'm giving the recipe to you, not because you can't find it in 60 other places on the Internet, but because I'm new at this blog thing and I can't give away anything else at the moment. :)

Fyi, these biscuits call for Sprite, or some similar 7-up type drink. We don't have that stuff in our house, so I use beer. Works just fine.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2 cups Bisquick or baking mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Sprite (or beer)

Butter a 9-in. pan. Mix ingredients. Pour/pat dough into pan. Bake for 20 min. Sit down before you eat. Enjoy. And Happy New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Another go-to recipe

I like macaroni and cheese almost as much as I like biscuits. These are two of the reasons I have to work out a couple times a week, to make my jeans fit. But I digress.

I like all kinds of mac and cheese -- Velveeta, Kraft, generic, gourmet, you name it. But there is one that is my go-to recipe. I have it printed out, linked on my computer and in a binder, because when the craving strikes, heaven help you if you can't find the recipe. I'm pretty close to memorizing it, but it's not the kind of thing you take chances with.

I received this recipe via Facebook, via a friend from college. It's called Chef Joe's Baked Macaroni and Cheese, and while my success with Food Network recipes has been dubious, this one's a winner. Here is the link to the recipe.

NOTE: That 1/2 cup of melted butter gets divided in the recipe instructions -- half goes to the filling, half to the topping. Also, I use whole wheat pasta, and fat-free evaporated milk and it works just fine. Other than that, follow the instructions as given, and try to make sure you don't have to share it with anyone, because you might be a bit put out when there aren't any leftovers for you....

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The meat thing

When I was single, I sometimes ate just a bowl of peas for dinner. When I got together with the hubby, though, I found that the meatless meals were not so popular. The man likes beef, pork, chicken, you name it. In fact, in the spring and summer (and fall, depending on the weather) our weekly menu tends to revolve around charcoal-grilled meats. That includes chicken, pork chops, brats, chicken sausage, and sometimes, if we're feeling fancy, tuna and steak. Sometimes when we make breakfast, there's not so much a discussion about what to have, but how many different kinds of meat will be present. Ham? Bacon? Sausage? All three?

Anyway, that's why most of these recipes will not be vegetarian in nature. I shoot for a meatless meal every week or two weeks, but there you are. When in doubt, substitute black beans!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cornish pasties, not to be confused with other things named pasties

In some twisted web of present exchange, I got the flu for Christmas. So, I can't exactly remember what I was watching in my illness-induced haze that got me thinking about Cornish pasties. I only remember that I wasn't nauseous just thinking about them and that was progress. So, last night, when I finally felt like cooking again, I made them.

Now, this recipe has been sitting in the family's Gold Medal Cookbook for years, probably untouched, but as it happened, I found a few recipes online as well. Then I decided to just make my own, and it worked out. I happened to have a pound of stew meat and a pie crust in the freezer, and that is really the key to all this jazz here.

The crust seems to be All Important in this pasty situation, so here's the recipe. It comes from the King Arthur Flour website, and it's on the link for pecan pie. Don't let that deter you. It's the best pie crust recipe I've used thus far, and made some tidy pasties.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

Whisk the flour and salt; Cut in the shortening to pea-size crumbs. Dice butter and cut in to nickel-sized pieces. Add water two tablespoons at a time, until dough begins to come together. Transfer to wax paper, and fold dough on itself to bring together into a 3 to 4-in. disk.

This part is important: "Roll the disk on its edge, like a wheel, to smooth out the edges. This step will ensure your dough will roll out evenly, without a lot of cracks and splits at the edges later. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling." So true.

Okay, so that's your piecrust. Put that in the fridge, and let's move on to...

... the Filling:

1/2 lb. stew meat, cut into 1/2 to 1-in. pieces
1-2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1-2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, diced
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, seasoning well with the salt and pepper. I also threw in some Greek seasoning, and you could put in some oregano. Set aside.

I should mention I made twice this amount. The rest is going into a chili today, but would have made a great hash. Your call.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the pie crust into four pieces. Roll one piece out on a well-floured surface to about a 6 to 7-in. circle. Place 1/2 to 3/4 cup of filling on bottom half of circle, leaving an inch margin. Dot with pat of butter. Fold over pastry and crimp. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Cut small vents in the top of each pasty. Brush pasties with milk, and bake in 350-degree oven about 55 minutes.

Now, what really made these for me is the sauce. This I did get out of the Gold Medal Cookbook, and though I adapted it, it's heavenly. Now, in the cookbook it's a wine sauce. Since I didn't have any wine, we're going to call it... gravy. Whatever. It tastes good!

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup boiling water
2 beef boullion cubes.

Dissolve boullion cubes in water, and set aside. Heat butter in small saucepan on low until melted and a bit brown. Add flour, and stir constantly, until mixture is deeper brown and sort of caramel-like. Remove from heat, and add boullion water. Turn heat up to high for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, and let thicken. Remove from heat. You can keep this on super low while you're waiting for the pasties to cook.

So there you have it -- a meal to bring you back from the brink, on a holiday week. Have a great one and eat hearty, mateys!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Vegetable soup

Once again, I went home racking my brain for something to make for dinner, before going to an appointment at 7 p.m. I ended up making a vegetable soup.

For something that was kind of an experiment in "how many vegetables can we use at once?" it turned out pretty well. Next time, I would add less water, and I've made that change in the recipe, below. Also, I would add some white wine, I think, and onion. Also, I used boullion cubes.

About the boullion cubes: Now, there's a lot of talk about using chicken broth with less sodium, and I totally support that, but frankly, it's cheaper to buy the cubes. I was kind of bummed out, though, that I hadn't planned this experiment in advance, as I actually HAVE homemade chicken broth in the freezer. Annoying. Speaking of cheap, btw, I used to think that broccoli in the bag was cheaper. Now, I think it's a draw between fresh and frozen. I seem to get a lot more mileage out of the fresh stuff.

Anyway, see what you think. This makes A LOT, not to be confused with Alot. This recipe will not make you one of those.

Vegetable Soup

1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup wine
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 leaves of kale, washed and chopped
2 small heads of broccoli, washed and chopped
6 boullion cubes
1 T. Greek seasoning
1-2 t. salt
1 t. fresh ground pepper
7 cups water
1/2 can evaporated milk

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for a minute or two. Add wine and simmer 1 minute. Add vegetables, boullion cubes, seasonings and water. Bring to boil, and then turn down to simmer about 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Take your trusty immersion blender and blend the vegetables to a light chunky version of the soup. Add milk and stir.

You'll notice the lack of meat in this recipe. I served it with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, made with deli tavern ham and shredded cheddar on whole wheat English muffins, which I hadn't made before. They. Were. Awesome. Two successful experiments in one day! Thank you, Santa!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Awesome enchiladas

I'd like to give a shout-out to one of my favorite blogs -- Tea and Cookies. In particular, for this recipe: Adam's Enchiladas. I don't know what it is about this recipe, but it just Hits The Spot. Every. Time. What recipe do you have that does that? I have about three. This is one.

Now, I add in meat (for the hubby) and I'm not a huge quinoa fan, so I replace that with barley, and I use Ro-Tel instead of salsa. Also, I use the generic store brand, or Aldi's fabulous version, for most canned items. And for butter. And for olive oil. I'm a cheapskate. Anyway, for all intents and purposes, it's an homage to Tea's recipe. Or Adam's.

Did I mention earlier that I'm only cooking for two people here? You can double this recipe, but it truly would feed four people, I think. At the moment I have half the filling in my freezer, since if I made it all, I would just keep eating...

1 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. ground beef, 90 percent lean
1 cup pearl barley
2 cups water
1 chicken boullion cube
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 t. green chile powder*
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. oregano
1 can corn
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and chiles
1 pkg., 10 or more, large flour tortillas
1 12-oz. can enchilada sauce
1 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep pan with cooking spray.

Okey-dokey, now what I do here is start with the beef and barley. So, first, get a small sauce pan, and add your two cups of water, your barley and the chicken boullion cube. Set this to high. When it reaches a boil, you'll want to turn it down to simmer for roughly 25 to 30 minutes, or until the water is all but gone.

Heat a large frying pan to medium. Add the olive oil, chopped onion and minced garlic, and saute this a bit, maybe a minute or two. Then add the ground beef. Fyi, I normally don't spring for 90 percent lean, but it was on sale for something like $3.77 a pound and I had some extra cashola.

However, let's say it's not on sale in your store and you decide to get 80 or 85 percent. You might want to brown the beef first and drain it, then add in the onion and garlic. It's up to you and your taste buds.

While you're waiting for your barley to boil and your meat to brown, thaw your spinach in the microwave, if you forgot to put it in the fridge last night like me. Once it's thawing, press and drain the spinach in a mesh colander in the sink. Set aside.

Then open up your cans, and shred the cheese. Did I mention I don't buy shredded cheese? For one, it's covered with cellulose (read: paper) and two, it's so much cheaper to shred your own (see: cheapskate).

Once your meat is browned (and drained -- your call) add in the beans, corn, spinach, Ro-Tel, barley and seasonings. Let simmer.

*The green chile powder. I picked this up in the Albuquerque airport en route home and I use it on everything. If you can find it, pick some up! If not, red pepper should work.

Microwave your tortillas about 20 seconds or so -- keeps 'em pliable. Did you get the large tortillas? Yes? Then take about 1 cup of filling and roll up each enchilada, folding in the sides as you go. If you accidentally bought the medium ones, readjust your filling amount -- maybe start with 1/2 cup.

Place the filled enchiladas in your prepped baking pan. Once the pan is filled, pour over the enchilada sauce, and top with the cheese. Bake about 30 minutes in your 350-degree oven.

Any remaining filling can be frozen. And the best part is, these even taste good as leftovers (WHAT? I know. It's ridiculous.) Happy eating!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie, pumpkin-style

Last night I got home from the gym about 7 p.m., and realized I had no meat defrosted to make dinner. I'm not so disposed to have meat in every meal, but hubby is, so there you go. Anyway, he had found some frozen cooked chicken in the freezer yesterday, so I thought, hey, I can use that. But with what?

In some fit of insanity, I had bought a bunch of fresh vegetables last weekend, even though we will probably eat with family this weekend for the holidays. So, pretty much, I have five days to use all the stuff before it rots.

I had bought kale for some unknown reason, and also had thawed a container of roasted pumpkin from earlier this year, when we had eight freaking pumpkins in the backyard. So, I decided to start with the trifecta of onion, carrots and celery, and go from there.

I was halfway through the filling when I realized I didn't have any pie crust for the top. I decided to go with a quick shortcrust pastry, which I cut up with my pastry cutter, and then tossed with cold water to blend. In hindsight, I should have beaten an egg and brushed it over the top for extra browning, but overall, it turned out all right. At least, hubby had two helpings!

This recipe is for a 9-in. square or pie pan. You can double it for a 13x9 in. pan.

Chicken-Pumpkin Pot Pie

2 T. butter
1 small onion or shallot, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 leaves kale, chopped
1 cup roasted pumpkin or butternut squash, cubed.
1 cup cooked chicken, cubed.
1/2 cup white wine
1 can low-fat cream of mushroom soup

Pastry
1 stick cold butter, salted
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 to 1 cup cold water

1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat skillet to medium, and melt butter. Add in onion and garlic, and saute 1-2 min. Add in carrots and celery. Saute 2-4 min. Add in pumpkin and kale. Heat on medium 5 min.

In the meantime, combine butter and flour in large bowl, and cut in with pastry cutter until you have pea-size crumbs. Add water a few tablespoons at a time, and toss with a fork until the dough comes together in a ball. Set aside.

Stir filling in skillet, and add 1/2 cup of wine. Let reduce five minutes. Chop up chicken and add. Then add cream of mushroom soup. Let simmer.

Butter 9-in. pan, and add filling. Dot with pieces of pie dough to create a rustic crust. Brush with egg.

Bake pot pie at 400 degrees for 45 min. or until crust turns a light golden brown, and filling is bubbly on the edges. Let cool 5 minutes, and serve with a green salad.

Welcome to TinyCounterCooking!

I set this blog up to post about what I made for dinner last night. Sometimes it's a recipe, other times it's an experiment. Either way, it's always made in our half-galley kitchen, which has a counter space of roughly 25 inches by 36 inches. It's the only free space I have between the stove and the sink. Sometimes my laptop is sitting there also, in addition to the coffee maker. If there are dishes drying, that's another 15 inches gone. If anything, I can prove that counterspace is all about perspective. Cooking, on the other hand, is about courage.