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Creamy Olive Risotto

Ingredients:

1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
24-30 (depending on size) pitted Nicoise olives, roughly chopped
1 TBSP olive juice
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
a handful fresh parsly, chopped
2 TBSP butter
salt & pepper

Directions:

1. In a microwaveable 4 cup measuring cup combine cream and broth. Microwave for 1 minute.
2. In a pot over medium heat, melt butter. Saute rice and garlic until rice starts turning golden.
3. Reduce heat to med-low.
4. Add 1/2 cup broth mixture and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until liquid is mostly absorbed.
5. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time each time stirring until liquid is mostly absorbed.
7. When you add the last 1/2 cup of broth, also add olives, olive juice, cheese*, parsley*, and salt & pepper to taste.
6. Stir until broth is mostly absorbed and cheese is melted in.

*You can save aside a little Parmesan and/or parsley to use as a topping for each serving if desired. 

Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients:

Tortillas of choice
2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, diced
1 jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed, diced (or 1 can green chiles if you want a milder flavor)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp each cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dried cilantro, red pepper flakes
olive oil
optional - sour cream or grated queso fresco for topping

Directions:

1. In a sauce pan over med heat, combine onion, tomatoes, peppers, chiles, garlic, and seasonings. You may need olive oil so the veggies don't stick to the pan.
2. Trim and cook chicken breasts (microwave is fastest), set aside to cool.
3. Bring veggies to a simmer and reduce heat so it continues cooking at a low simmer.
4. Shred chicken breasts and add shredded meat to veggies. Stir well.
5. Simmer for 15 minutes until veggies are cooked and chicken is well seasoned.
6. Either drain excess liquid or use a slotted spoon to serve into tortillas.
7. Top with sour cream or cheese if wanted.

Potatoes au Gratin - Decadent Version

Ingredients:

4 large red potatoes, sliced
2 cups cream
1/2 cup each fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano, asagio, aged white cheddar, and gruyere cheeses*
2 TBSP finely grated Parmesan Reggiano
2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP flour
1 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves minced garlic.
1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup panko or italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper
1 tsp olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Lay out your potato slices on a towel or paper towels and pat them with a towel so they dry.
3. In a small sauce pot over low heat, melt butter.
4. Add flour to melted butter and whisk, continue to whisk until mixture is bubbly and golden (2-3 minutes).
5. Add cream, garlic, paprika, salt, & pepper. Turn up heat to med-low.
6. Continue whisking until mixture starts to bubble again.
7. Add cheese 1/2 cup at a time and whisk until melted (except for the extra 2 TBSP finely grated Parmesan, this is for the topping).
8. Remove from heat when sauce is thick and smooth.
9. Grease a 9x9" glass pan using olive oil and spoon a little cheese sauce on the bottom.
10. Add a single layer of potatoes.
11. Coat with more cheese sauce.
12. Continue doing single layers of potatoes and coating with sauce until all potatoes and sauce are used up.
13. Mix together panko, extra Parmesan, parsley, and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle this on top of the potatoes.
14. Bake for 60-75 minutes.

*I buy 1/3 or 1/2 lb blocks and grate off them using the large side on my grater. Whatever is left over, you can make the same sauce & topping again for fancy baked mac & cheese, or use it for homemade alfredo.

Luscious Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients:

2 TBSP each:
-melted butter
-milk
-unsweetened cocoa powder
-sugar
-flour
dash each vanilla extract and salt

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a mug and stir with a fork until smooth.
2. Microwave 1 minute. If not completely done, microwave an additional 15 seconds.
3. Let cool 2 minutes.
4. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, or caramel sauce.

Tomato Sauce from Scratch

Ingredients:

3 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 shallots (or 1 small onion), diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2lb bacon or lardons, sauteed
1/4 cup dry wine of choice
1/2 cup grated parmesan (also if you have a parmesan rind, use a chunk of that too)
2 TBSP mixed dried herbs - oregano, rosemary, basil, taragon, parsley (or 1 cup fresh basil, chopped)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp chili powder
dash red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

Directions:

1. In a pot over medium heat, sautee shallots and garlic in bacon grease until garlic is light brown.
2. Add tomatoes, wine, and parmesan rind (if using), bring to a simmer.
3. Add herbs and seasonings. Simmer 30 minutes uncovered, stirring regularly.
4. Add grated parmesan and lardons/crumbled bacon. Simmer 30-45 minutes uncovered, stirring regularly, until sauce is thick/reduced.
5. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
6. Remove bay leaf and parmesan rind.
7. Serve over fresh pasta with additional fresh grated parmesan on top.

Caramel Rolls

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter

1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cup brown sugar (dark brown is best)

Directions:

1. Dissolve yeast in water with a pinch of sugar.
2. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, set aside 1-1/2 tbsp for topping.
3. Cream the shortening and sugar mixture together in a large bowl.
4. Add buttermilk, yeast mix, salt, baking powder & soda, and 1 cup flour. Mix until smooth.
5. Switch to dough hook on the mixer. Add remaining flour and mix until a soft dough forms.
6. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-ish minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Let the dough rest while you're making the caramel.
7. In a pot over medium heat, combine the cream and brown sugar.
8. Stir constantly for 10-15 minutes until sugar is melted and sauce starts to thicken.
9. Pour sauce into a 9x13 baking pan.
10. Roll out the dough into an 8" by 16" rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with set-aside sugar mix.
11. Starting with the short side, roll up gently. Cut into 8 sections.
12. Place the rolls in the pan on top of the caramel sauce. Cover with a bread cloth or plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot for 1-2 hours.
13. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter.

Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

6 cups broth
1 bag split peas (16oz)
1 cup white or mixed beans, soaked overnight OR 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1lb pork hock/jowl/belly/slab bacon, cubed
4 carrots, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp each onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper, salt

Directions:

1. Sautee the pork, onion, and garlic in a pan over med heat for 3 minutes.
2. Add all ingredients to crock pot.
3. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.

Leftovers can be put into individual serving size containers and frozen, then thawed overnight in the fridge.

French Onion Soup

Ingredients:

6 cups beef broth
1 large onion, roughly diced or julienned
1 baguette, sliced
provolone or Gruyere cheese, sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp dry vermouth
salt & pepper

Directions:

1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.
2. Add the onions and stir until coated. Allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add 1 tbsp each Worchestershire and vermouth.
4. Allow onion to carmelize, getting completely translucent, stirring often. This can take 15-20 minutes.
5. Add 1 cup broth. Bring to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes.
6. Add the rest of the broth, Worchestershire, vermouth, and salt & pepper to taste.
7. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, then covered for 30 more minutes.
8. Preheat broiler.
9. Ladle soup into oven-safe ramekins or bowls. Top with a slice of baguette, then with a slice of cheese.
10. Broil 3-5 minutes until cheese is competely melted and the edges start to brown.