Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SMOKED GOUDA AND HAVARTI CHEESE GRITS



Oh my goodness!  Could a savory dish be more rich and delicious???

This was only about my fifth time to even eat grits....and four of those have been within the past 6 months!  My son made it for me back in the summer and I was hooked.  I was only half watching when he made it and I still don't know quite how he makes his, but his are different than mine because of the ingredients.  The best part is you can add anything you would like to it or on top of it.  Last night, I made my Maryland Crab Cakes with a lemon-butter caper sauce to serve with it, but I am going to have to work on the sauce so I didn't post it.  
Since I was just starting out, I just added a couple of my favorite cheeses, some roasted corn and a few thinly sliced green onions...not too many.  I was thinking that next time I will add some bacon....I mean bacon takes everything up a notch....right?!?!  

Let me just say something about the cheeses I chose to use.  I love, love, love smoked gouda.  I love to grab a slice of it and eat it on a cracker.  I used Cream Havarti which is a little creamier than regular havarti because it has more cream in it....makes sense!  I like to cook with havarti because it is so mild and smooth and it melts really nicely.  I might even add some parmesan next time....maybe grated over the top would be nice.  I wonder what a mexican version would taste like?  You could maybe add some queso fresco and monterrey jack or pepper jack cheese to the grits and then top it with a dollop of salsa or pico de gallo.  Hmmmm???  May try that sometime soon!

Now for the corn!  Roasting corn is the easiest thing to do and kind of fun.  I like hearing the kernels pop, pop, pop! Don't cook it too long though, you definitely want the crunchiness but also the juiciness of the kernels.  


One of the best things about grits, is that it literally takes only about 10 minutes to cook!  Five minutes on the stove and about 5 minutes resting time.  I used a mixture of equal parts chicken broth and half and half.  Because I made mine a little ahead, I had to add some heavy cream before I served it.  Top it with a little of the roasted corn and thinly sliced green onion tops and you are done.

If you are tired of potatoes or rice and would like to try something different...try them.  I really think you cannot go wrong!

SMOKED GOUDA AND HAVARTI CHEESE GRITS

1-1/2 cups Chicken Broth  (1 can of Campbells's Chicken Broth is perfect)
1-1/2 cups Half and Half
1 cup Corn Grits
2 tablespoons of Salted Butter
1 cup Smoked Gouda
1 cup Cream Havarti
Heavy Cream (no certain amount...use to bring grits to consistency)
Charred Fresh Corn Kernels
Thinly Sliced Green Onion Tops
Salt and Pepper to taste


In a medium saucepan, bring your chicken broth and half and half to boil over medium to high heat.



Pour in grits and turn heat to between medium and low.  Stir off and on for 5 minutes. 



Add butter and approximately 1/2 cup of corn kernels. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. 




Add the cheeses and stir until well incorporated.
I made this picture extra large so you can see all that stringy, melty cheese goodness!!


When ready to serve, add whipping cream or half and half to bring it to the consistency you would like.  

Top with roasted corn kernels and thinly sliced green onion tops.   

NOTE:  Great with some hot sauce sprinkled on or a dollop of Chili Garlic Paste


ROASTED CORN


2 Fresh Ears of Corn (husk removed)

Place the ears of corn directly on a stovetop burner that is at medium to low heat.  

Watch as the kernels start to char.  

Turn every 30 seconds or so to keep from over cooking.

Don't be alarmed when you hear a popping sound...it's normal.


Stand the corn on end and remove the kernels with a knife running downward against the cob.


ENJOY!

Monday, January 19, 2015

MAMA COLICHIA'S SPAGHETTI SAUCE



This spaghetti sauce is just perfect.  It is a perfect sauce to serve over your favorite pasta but it is also good to use with cabbage rolls, meatball subs, meatloaf, or anything else that might call for a tomato based sauce.  I got this recipe from a friend, who got it from a friend. who got it from a friend.  I don't know how far this goes back but all I know is I am glad I was on that friend list.

I have posted this tip on another post but I thought it could stand repeating.  When you do serve this sauce over pasta, be sure to add a substantial amount of olive oil to your pasta water to keep it from sticking (oh and don't forget to add salt).  My other tip to keep pasta from sticking is do not rinse but just add a little bit of sauce to the pasta....just enough to coat and even if you refrigerate them, they will not stick.

I am in a hurry today so not a lot of time to write so I am going to just leave it here.  Also, I have several meatball recipes that I like to use.  I have posted one and if you click on this link, it will take you there.  It is a post from when I made homemade spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes but if you will scroll all the way down the page, you will find the meatball recipe!  I will post another one when I get a chance....hopefully I can tonight!

Oh, and the first recipe here is for one recipe.  The recipe that follows is for about five times that amount.  I always make the second so I have some left over!

MAMA COLICHIA'S SPAGHETTI SAUCE

1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 small Yellow Onion, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1-12 ounce can Tomato Paste
3-1/2 cans Water
1-1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 cup Brown Sugar



NOTE; I usually take the above recipe and increase it so I can have it more than one time and some to freeze.  It is also great for large groups.  Here are the amounts if you would like to make more!

1/3/4 cups Olive Oil
4 regular size Yellow Onion, chopped
1/4 cup Garlic, minced
5-12 ounce cans tomato paste
3-4 quarts of water (I add 2 quarts and then add 1 quart at a time until I get it the consistency I want)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar

Saute onion and garlic in oil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomato paste and water.  Stir well.
Increase heat and add remaining ingredients.
When boiling, reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Note:  A regular recipe makes 4-1/2 cups sauce.

 \

ENJOY!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

BAREFOOT CONTESSA'S SUNDAY MORNING OATMEAL

I made this again and now I have some blueberries...yumm!


When I was a child, my Ma-Maw Allie came to live with us.  She was an amazing cook and I, unfortunately, was such a picky eater when I was little.  Ugh...why?  She would make everything from scratch....things  like Fried Apple Pies in a cast iron skillet, Watermelon Rind Preserves, fresh Pinto Beans, and I would not have any part of it.  However, I remember her delicious fried shrimp, her amazing gumbo, and especially the yummy breakfasts she would cook me every morning!  She would wake me up and ask me what I wanted for breakfast.  I mean how spoiled could I get?!  She made the best pancakes and french toast ever.  One of my favorite things she would make though,  was oatmeal.  I loved it with 2 slices of toast.  I was only 10 when she passed away and I hate that I never really helped her cook or tried to like the things that I thought I didn't like because now I would give anything to have one of her fried pies!  Maybe growing up watching her and enjoying her love for making things fresh is where my love of cooking and cooking things from scratch came from.  
My Ma-Maw Allie, my mom, and myself....circa 1970.  I was about 7 years old here.

I have always made my oatmeal like my Ma-Maw Allie made it and that is with water and no milk. Now, I love it that way but I think I have found a way that I love it even more!  When my husband James and I went to Colorado recently with our friends Pat and Nita Hughes, we stayed at The Sonnenalp, a beautifully quaint, cozy, Bavarian resort in Vail.  We ate breakfast in the hotel and they had the most wonderful breakfast buffet.  I usually hate buffets, but this one was exceptional.  If you wanted something, it was on this buffet.  It took up an entire room!  It was there that I tried their oatmeal.  It was so creamy and almost velvety.  They had every kind of topping you could want.  Before this day,  I had always just ate my oatmeal with butter and sugar, maybe sometimes blueberries and/cinnamon.  This place had every kind of fresh and dried fruit you could want, almonds, walnuts, pecans, brown sugar, white sugar, coconut, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
It was then that I tried some oatmeal that was the best I have ever eaten.  I could not figure out why it was so good until the other day.  I was at home and sick and watching Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network (I am obsessed).  That day she was making her Sunday Morning Oatmeal and it looked just like what I had had at the Sonnenalp.
My husband and I in the beautiful Sonnenalp dining solarium.

James and I with our friends Nita and Pat at the Maroon Bells in Aspen.  

Well, I made that oatmeal this past Saturday morning and it was de-li-cious.  Finally, I found what was different...it was the milk.  Milk in the oatmeal...I had never made it that way before, but now I know that it is what set the oatmeal apart at the Sonnenalp.  Makes so much sense, too.  I mean, that is what made it so creamy and so full of flavor.  

Now, I am going to post the recipe exactly the way Barefoot Contessa makes it.  But...I did not add everything she added.  I did my own thing like at the Sonnenalp.  Barefoot Contessa does not add butter, but I did.  She adds bananas, raisins, and dried cherries but I didn't have any so I didn't add those.  She also uses Maple Syrup as her sweetener but I used brown sugar.  Then I added what I could find in my pantry like dried cranberries, blueberries, pecans, and brown sugar.  Next time, I want to add the bananas, dried cherries, maybe some fresh blueberries, some cinnamon, raisins, next time.  The options are limitless.  Don't forget to add a little sprinkle of kosher salt before you take your first bite.  I love how the sweet and salty complement each other.  My friend Nita always reminds me to do that!

Only negative thing I can say is that my husband likes it better the old way...with just water.  Uh-oh...he might have to have to learn to like it this way! 


SUNDAY MORNING OATMEAL
(Exactly the way Barefoot Contessa makes it)

1-1/2 cups Whole Milk

2 cups Water
1-1/2 cups Quick Cooking Oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Banana, sliced
1/2 cup Dried Cherries
1/2 cup Golden Raisins
Pure Maple Sugar or Brown Sugar to sweeten



Heat the milk and water in a medium saucepan until it starts to simmer.


I know it doesn't call for butter but add it...trust me on this!

Add the oatmeal and salt, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.



Don't look for the banana because I didn't have one...(pic is so blurry you probably wouldn't see it anyway)


Off of the heat, stir in the banana, cherries, and raisins.  Place the lid on the pot and allow to sit for 2 minutes.

Serve hot with maple syrup or brown sugar and extra milk.


ENJOY!

SUPER EASY CROUTONS






So, my last post was about making garlic toast.  If you make too much....oh gosh, never mind....there is no such thing.  I have to restrain myself from eating every bit of toast there is, however, I decided to make some croutons. Yayyy!!

I used to make my own croutons all the time.  My favorite was Lemon Pepper Croutons to go with a potato brocolli soup.  When I looked at this toast left over, something reminded me of those croutons and I got so excited.  I mean, garlic croutons go with EVERYTHING!  They would be good on absolutely any soup or salad, or leave them whole and top them with all kinds of goodies.  Although, these did not go on anything nor were they topped with anything...they went straight into my mouth. They were soooooo good!

The name says it all....they are super easy!!  You literally place the garlic toast in the oven for 1-1/2 hours at 200 degrees.  Take them out and cut them into bite-size pieces.  That's it!  It cannot get any easier.  Now, if you are starting from scratch, then I would butter or oil your bread, season and then cut them up into either bite-size pieces or into strips or just leave them whole and use like a crostini.  They do crumble when you go to cut them up.  The crumbs are good too though.  Save the crumbs and use them to put on casseroles, in meatballs, or to dredge anything you want to fry in those crumbs.  





SUPER EASY CROUTONS

Leftover Garlic Toast


Preheat oven to 200 Degrees.

Place the toast on a cookie tray or on some aluminum foil.

Bake in the oven for 1-1/2 hours.


You're Done!



CROUTONS FROM SCRATCH

Loaf of French Bread or Crostini
Melted Salted Real Butter or Olive Oil
Seasoning of your choice....fresh garlic, lemon pepper, rosemary, thyme, etc.

Slice your bread about one inch thick.

Brush your butter or olive oil on the bread. 

 If you are using fresh herbs, I would add that to the butter or olive oil.  If you are using dried herbs or ground seasoning like Lemon Pepper, then I would brush the butter or olive oil on the bread and then sprinkle the seasonings on the bread.

Now it is your choice to either leave the bread in 1-inch slices, or slice into strips, or into bite-size pieces.

Place in 200 Degree oven for 1-1/2 hours.

You're Done!

ENJOY!







Wednesday, January 14, 2015

THE BEST HOMEMADE GARLIC TOAST WITH SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS



This post is about one of my favoriteeeee things....garlic toast.  Not the kind of toast that comes frozen in a bag.  Although, I do like that kind of toast.  Nothing can top good ole homemade garlic toast!!

The only problem is that I almost always burn it.  So, don't walk away while it is in the oven.  It cooks so fast and I get distracted and the next thing you know, burnt toast.  However, I will still eat it.  I like it even if it is burned...now that is true love! Ha!  The key is to put someone else in charge of watching it in the oven.  Found that out after about the 300th time I torched it!  I like to toast it on both sides because I like that crunchiness on the outside edges but that soft, buttery center.  Oh my gosh....delicious!  Be sure you use real butter and fresh garlic...no margarine and no garlic powder...believe me you will thank me for this tip!

Because I have been sick, I still cannot smell or taste so I decided to take some Mama Colicihia's Spaghetti Sauce that I made a few months ago out of the freezer and make some meatballs (this link is to a spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes but, if you will scroll to the bottom, it will have the recipe for meatballs). It does take some time to make the sauce, but it makes a lot so I freeze it for not only spaghetti but for things like cabbage rolls, as well.




I know this is a post about garlic toast, but I do want to give a little tip I learned a while back about how to keep your noodles from sticking together.  First, add olive oil to water that the noodles are cooked in.  Next, drain noodles but do not rinse them.  Next, put noodles in a bowl or back in the pot they were cooked in and then add enough spaghetti sauce to lightly coat them.  It's great...they do not stick!


Okay, let's get busy making that garlic toast!  Oh and I almost forgot to tell you how wonderful your house will smell.  It's a bonus!


See that toasty edge...ahhh...and that buttery center!  Divine!!


THE BEST HOMEMADE GARLIC TOAST

1 Loaf  French Bread, sliced into 1 inch wide slices (approximately 8)
6 tablespoons Salted  Butter, softened
2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced



Slice bread into 1 inch wide slices.  Approximately 8 total.



Combine softened butter and garlic in a small bowl until creamy.



Spread butter on both sides of bread  and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.




Toast bread on one side under broiler until golden brown.



Flip bread over and toast on other side.



Remove from the oven and serve while hot!  Make sure that you make plenty...you won't be able to stop at one : )



ENJOY!