Thursday, October 16, 2014

Greek Shrimp Saganaki

In my forever quest of weekly meal planning and calendar strategy of what to make for dinner, my husband saves the day.  Not only can I not remember what I did two days ago, I certainly cannot remember what I made for dinner a week or a month ago (hence the reason for the meal planning calendar).

Every now and again, my husband will say "What about the dish that....." (and he'll go into his description of how he remembers the meal).  I then have to stop, wait for it....oh yes, my ever flickering light bulb finally goes back on again...and I remember.  

Here is one of those meals that I completely forgot about and he once again reminded me of.  The great thing about this one is you can make it a date night meal for two or have it as an appetizer for a group of family, friends, neighbors, girls night in, book club, get the picture.

It looks complicated and fancy, but it truly is super easy and amazing flavors.

Shrimp Saganaki
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, November 2012
Original Recipe By Lord Byron Restaurant, Ios Island, Greece

1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 scallions, white part only, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup drained diced canned tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
pinch of dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 medium shrimp (about 1/2 lb.), peeled, deveined and tails off
1 (4 oz.) block feta cheese
slices of country-style rustic bread, toasted

**I also add:
2 Tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, drained, roughly chopped

Heat oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium-low heat.  Add scallions and garlic; cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes, (capers and olives) and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 4-6 minutes.  Remove from heat;  add wine, broth, 1 tsp. parsley, 1 tsp. dill and oregano.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until tomato mixture is reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium.  Season shrimp with salt and pepper.  Add shrimp to skillet, arranging around edges.  Place block of feta in center of skillet.  Cover and simmer until shrimp are cooked through and feta is warm, 4-6 minutes.

** We like eating this dish straight out of our cast iron skillet, but you can also transfer the shrimp and feta to a large shallow bowl.

Garnish with parsley.  Serve with toasted rustic bread to scoop up every flavorful bite.  Since I needed white wine for the recipe, we enjoyed the rest of the McManis Chardonnay with our meal. Perfectly paired!

Monday, October 13, 2014

German Chocolate Bundt Cake

As I have previously mentioned, I married a German and when my Mr. German gets a "bee in his bonnet", as his mom used to say..."Look Out"!!  What's worse, is when my Mr. German gets a sweet tooth and I have "PMS", which in my house means "Putting Up With Mark's ****", it always makes an interesting combination.

Add to this, we are fully into Fall here and when there is a chill in the air, all I want to do is bake!  It makes the house so warm and cozy and the wonderful aromas from the oven always make everyone happy (including my hips).  So last week's issues of having no "treats" in the house have now turned into my husband complaining that he has to go down one notch on his belt.  Really?  I just can't win around here some days.....

German Chocolate Bundt Cake

For The Cake:
1 box (16.5 oz.) Devil's Food chocolate cake mix
1 cup Best Foods Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1 cup water
3 eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1 Tablespoon brewed coffee (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray bundt pan with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

Beat cake mix, mayonnaise, water, eggs, cinnamon and coffee 30 seconds in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed. Beat on medium speed, scraping sides occasionally, 2 minutes. Pour batter into bundt pan.

Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 30 minutes before inverting onto serving platter.

For The Frosting:
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and butter to a boil. Stir over medium heat until mixture thickens to the likeness of pudding . Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, coconut, and pecans. Let cool and thicken a little.

Spoon frosting on top of the cake, letting it run down all the inside and outside of cake.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Spaetzle with Gruyere and Carmelized Onions

As a side dish with last week's Oktoberfest Sauerbraten, I made Spaetzle with Gruyere and Carmelized Onions. These three ingredients marry so well together and were the perfect combination with the roast.

I will warn you, this recipe calls for making your own homemade Spaetzle.  At this point in my life, I have neither the time nor patience to attempt homemade Spaetzle, especially on a weeknight.  Perhaps some day I will get the courage to try it, but for now my box of Panni Spaetzle by Knorr fulfilled my "semi-homemade" need just perfectly.

Spaetzle with Gruyere and Carmelized Onions
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (5 ounces)
1 3/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons peanut oil 

**Option in lieu of homemade Spaetzle:  (2) 9 oz. boxes of Panni Spaetzle by Knorr
Make according to box directions and go on to step 3.

1.  In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the egg yolks and egg. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir the egg mixture into the flour, leaving a few lumps. Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour or overnight.

2  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Carefully hold a colander with large holes over the boiling water. Add about 1/2 cup of the batter to the colander and press it into the simmering water with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Repeat until all of the batter has been used. Cook the spaetzle for 2 minutes longer, then drain. Immediately transfer the spaetzle to the ice water, swirling the dumplings until all of the ice melts. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

3.  Preheat the oven to 400°. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the spaetzle in the dish and dot with the butter. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the spaetzle is hot and the cheese is just melted.

4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and cook over high heat until softened, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Scatter the onion over the spaetzle and serve.
Make Ahead The spaetzle can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

One Year Ago:  Apple Dumplings

Monday, October 6, 2014

Slow Cooker Sauerbraten

The other morning, I was frantically looking for my laundry and found it in a business developer's conference room where they were working on payroll....Yes, my brain is still on overload and I am still having the most "off the wall - make no sense" dreams (when I am able to sleep, that is).

I don't know if I am going to make it through high school this second time around and I think I am putting more time, effort and brain power on the upcoming end of season volleyball dinner, more than I did my own wedding.

Once I get through the banquet the middle of next month, then two weeks later our son is coming for Thanksgiving with his family and we are meeting our twin grandbabies for the first time.  Then, two weeks after that is my husband's birthday...then two weeks later is Christmas, then our girls' sweet 16 birthday at year's end.  I can't imagine why it's so hard for me to get a decent night's sleep right now.

Well for now, I'm working on Oktoberfest fun.  I married a German and each year I try to up my German dish repertoire, even though I can barely pronounce some of the recipes.

I had never made Sauerbraten, but I figured anything I can put in a crockpot can't be all that difficult. This was awesome!!  I threw it all together before we all went off to work and school and came home to the most amazing roast dinner.

Slow Cooker Sauerbraten
Courtesy of Taste of Home

1 boneless beef chuck roast or rump roast (3 to 4 pounds)
4 cups water
1 bottle (14 ounces) ketchup
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mixed pickling spices
3 bay leaves
1-1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (about 30 cookies)

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Cut roast in half. Place in a 5-qt. slow cooker; add water. In a
large bowl, combine the ketchup, onion, brown sugar and vinegar;
pour over roast.

Place pickling spices and bay leaves on a double thickness of
cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with string to form a
bag. Add spice bag and cookie crumbs to slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove roast and keep warm. Discard spice bag. Strain cooking juices;
transfer 4 cups to a large saucepan. Combine cornstarch and water
until smooth; stir into cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and
stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Slice roast; serve with

One Year Ago:  Weeknight Ravioli Bake

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tee Shirts, Tacos and Ice Cream Cake Treat

This past weekend we hosted the girls' volleyball team over for "Tee Shirts and Tacos".  They made their warm up shirts for the upcoming "Dig Pink" for breast cancer games in October and we served them a full taco bar for dinner.

It was a complete education in making tee shirts for me.  All I can say is thank God for Hobby Lobby and YouTube.  I am now an aficionado in tie-dye shirts!  We started with the tie-dye pink process, then iron-on transfers, then finished with bubble paint for their names and numbers.  

It was also an opportunity to serve my finale of "Dips, Dinners and Desserts".  I actually made this when Steve and Leslie were here, which he eloquently titled the dish "Big *** Ice Cream Sandwich Thing".  Unfortunately, we were all too full to dig into it, so I saved it for the girls.

This dessert is Heaven on a platter - nothing more to say.

So incredibly easy beyond belief.
You can make it as small or large as needed.

Start with a layer of ice cream sandwiches. 
Then add a second layer, stacking and laying them the other direction.

"Frost" with Cool Whip topping

Drizzle alternating lines of chocolate and caramel
ice cream sundae (squeeze bottle toppings).

Use your toothpick for streaming the lines,
into a decorative pattern.

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Cool Whip Dessert Topping
Chocolate Sundae Topping (in the squeeze bottle)
Caramel Sundae Topping (in the squeeze bottle)

One Year Ago:  Quick Candy Cookies

Monday, September 29, 2014

Garlic Parmesan Filet Mignon

In the final dinner of "Dips, Dinners and Desserts", this one is a really special night dish.  Not one that you would do on a school night, but for one of those special occasions.  

It calls for Filet Mignon, but we used small Beef Tenderloin Medallions, to keep it budget friendly. Honestly though, I think any good cut of meat would do, as it's all about the preparation and Dijon combination with the Parmesan and garlic ending.

**I baked off some hash brown patties and let the steaks rest on the cooked hash browns.  It gave it a fun steakhouse effect without your typical baked potato and the juices from the steaks flavored the hash browns beautifully.

Garlic Parmesan Filet Mignon
Courtesy of Traeger

2-4 Filet Mignons (we used small Beef Tenderloin Medallions instead)
Garlic Salt
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard for each filet
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced

Turn grill on high.  While the grill is heating up, season the filets with salt, pepper and garlic salt. In a separate bowl, mix the minced garlic and Parmesan and combine.

When the grill reaches temperature, place filets on the grill and cook for 4 minutes on each side. (Keep on longer if you like them less pink and more well done).  After 8 minutes total (or until they are done to your liking), spread the filets with the Dijon mustard sauce and dip in the minced garlic and Parmesan cheese mixture and place back on the grill for another 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Pull from grill and let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

One Year Ago:  Sunday Night Pot Roast

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blue Cheese and Carmelized Shallot Dip

Today was an absolutely glorious weather day.  Crisp, cool and sunny.  I decided it would be a great day for my husband and I to get out of the house and enjoy some great outdoors.  We ventured out towards Rocky Mountain National Park to a charming little town called Allenspark. 

We came upon this amazing stream that had incredible little falls.  Being a Pisces, I can never get enough water.   It was really fun hiking around the creek.

As this is the final dip in "Dips, Dinners and Desserts", I have saved the best for last.  I so love this dip that our family turned me on to.  I could eat it by the spoonful!

Blue Cheese and Carmelized Shallot Dip
Courtesy of Epicurious

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups thinly sliced shallots (3-4 medium sized shallots)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese, room temperature

Heat oil in heavy medium saute pan over medium-low heat.  Add shallots.

Cover and cook until shallots are deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool.

Whisk together mayonnaise and sour cream in medium bowl to blend. Add blue cheese.

Using rubber spatula, mash mixture until smooth.  (I used my emersion blender) Stir in caramelized shallots.  Season dip to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover dip and refrigerate until flavors blend, at least 2 hours.

(Can be made 2 days ahead.  Keep refrigerated.)  Serve dip chilled with cut vegetables or kettle potato chips.

One Year Ago:  Sour Cream and Chicken Enchiladas