photoWhile I don’t often have white wine leftover, I usually always end up having extra red wine.  Instead of throwing it away, pour it in ice cubes and freeze to use later in sauces and braises! Saves money as well, especially if you need just a little wine for cooking purposes only…try it; it works!

Who doesn’t love Chinese food and even more who doesn’t love Mu Shu?!  Guy Fieri recently prepared a Mu Shu Chicken with Chinese Crepes with Scallions on Guy’s Big Bite on the Food Network Channel and it looked wonderful so I couldn’t wait to try it.  Warning:  the ingredients list is long but the result was satisfyingly flavorful.  Jeff couldn’t get enough of it!
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I am almost ashamed to admit this but this was my first attempt at making crepes.  Needless to say, you can expect to see more recipes with this delicacy because I loved them and certainly see the versatility in making them with a variety of ingredients!  The first one came out a little thick and I trashed it but the rest were perfect.  I did add a little hot sauce to my batter (just because) and it was a nice addition.
The only thing I don’t like about this recipe is the vegetable to chicken ratio.  I used 1 1/2 lbs of chicken and even after I left out the green cabbage and only used the napa and red cabbages, I still have to much vegetable so either add more chicken or just do less vegetables.  The recipe below is my new version.  (Note:  make your crepes first and keep warm while you prepare the Mu Shu Chicken)
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Ingredients
1/3 cup hoisin sauce, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger (I used the Ginger Paste you can find in the produce section)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 red pepper, seeded, membrane removed, julienned
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 large head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 medium head purple cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1/4 cup shaved bamboo shoots, drained
1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds
1 small bunch scallions, finely shaved
Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving, optional
Sriracha, for serving, optional
Chinese Crepes with Scallions:  (Double this recipe so you will have extra for your leftovers)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour (I found this at Fresh Market but I think you could omit this and use all-purpose flour instead)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 eggs
2 scallions, finely sliced
Nonstick cooking spray
Note:  I added a teaspoon of hot sauce to my batter to enhance the flavor!
Directions Whisk the hoisin, soy, mirin, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sliced chicken and toss to coat evenly. Marinate the chicken, covered, at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. image

Once 5 minutes of marinating time remains, heat a large wok or skillet over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil to heat. Using a slotted spoon, strain the chicken add to the very hot wok or skillet. Cook, allowing it to brown, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. (Note:  I’m a stickler for having my onions cooked perfectly so I did this part a little differently.  I sauteed my onions until slightly softened, removed them, added the chicken to the wok, and then followed the directions as stated.)  Add the red bell pepper and the onion slices, allowing them to soften, another minute. Next, add the cabbages and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until just browning, about 2 minutes.image

Push the chicken and vegetables to the side of the wok and stir in the mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Remove from the heat and set aside, keeping warm. (I just kept wok on low)

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Place a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add the beaten eggs to the skillet, allowing to scramble, 2 to 3 minutes. Once cooked, break up the eggs with a rubber spatula and add to the chicken. (Note:  Here I just added the eggs from the skillet into my wok where the chicken and the vegetables were cooking.)  Toss to combine. image

Chinese Crepes with Scallions:

In a medium glass mixing bowl, whisk the flours, salt, 1 cup water, the sesame oil and eggs; the batter should be smooth and free of lumps. Again, I also added hot sauce here and do not forget the salt!

Heat a crepe pan or 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Very lightly coat the skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle in 1/4 cup of the batter. Gently rotate the skillet for a few seconds, swirling the batter to create a thin, even layer over the bottom. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons scallions to each pancake at this point. Cook the pancake until the underside is pale and just firmed up, about 1 minute.

Flip the pancake over and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a plate and cover with a kitchen towel. Continue with the rest of the batter until all the pancakes have been made. Keep warm until ready to serve.imageimage

Mu Shu Chicken is served alongside a bed of Jasmine Fried Rice!  image

Bottom Line:  A fantastic dish that I will make again with the above modifications and highly suggest you try it.  You may not do take out ever again!  This was a yummy treat for lunch today 🙂

Kitchen Tip:  Keep your Sesame Oil in the fridge…it has a tendency to turn rancid in the pantry

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/guy-fieri/mu-shu-chicken-recipe.html?oc=linkback

As part of the Valentine’s Day special last Friday, Michael Symon made what looked to be a very delicious cheese fondue.  Since Jeff’s Valentine’s Day gift was a 1 1/2 hour massage at Massage Envy late Sunday afternoon, I thought that would be a perfect dish to try for a nice dinner afterwards.  How did it turn out and should you try this recipe at home?  Read on……!

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Ingredients

1 cup Dry White Wine
1 Shallot (minced)
1 pound Gruyère Cheese (shredded)
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

Dippers

  • 1 cup each of broccoli and cauliflower or any other veggies like bell peppers and carrot
  • 1 cup each of your favorite cold meats such as Salami (or add some sautéed kielbasa)
  • 1-2 cups apple slices
  • 2-3 cups of your favorite crusty breads, such as sourdough and rye

(Note:  When using broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots in my fondue, I prefer to blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes, then rinse with cold water, dry, and keep in the refrigerator until chilled and crisp.  This is entirely optional)

Directions

In a medium sauce pot, combine the White Wine and Shallots. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce for 2-3 minutes.

In the meantime, mix together the Shredded Cheese and Cornstarch. When the Wine has reduced by at least 1/3, whisk in the Cheese/Cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly until all of the Cheese has melted then season really well with Salt and the Dijon mustard.  (Mix the mustard into the fondue at the end so it doesn’t break down)image image

Serve with your favorite dippers (crusty bread, apples, blanched vegetables, etc.).  I served this in a mini crock pot dish at the table.

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Keep warm to serve.  (Tip:  If you notice your cheese sauce curdling (separating into lumps) add a little lemon juice)

Bottom Line:  This was YUMMY!  If you like Gruyère Cheese, you will love this recipe!  You could also do the same recipe with the same parts of Cheddar and Beef for a different twist.  It made way too much for two people but my daughter, Ashleigh, is coming by after work to pick up the leftovers for a quick bite tonight!  Make this recipe….you will NOT be disappointed!

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So the food was great but do you really want to keep smelling it in your kitchen?  You don’t have to….here is a fool-proof way of getting rid of unwanted cooking odors that we all have on hand.  Coffee grounds!

indexSimply pour some in a small bowl (or two) and the coffee will absorb the smell in just a couple of hours.  Discard after 12-24 hours (do not make coffee out of it…ha, ha!)

FYI…If you are entering the Publix gift card contest by making the Filet Mignon with Compound Butter, you will definitely be glad you had this tip 🙂

Treat your man to a hearty seared piece of prime beef and some savory mashed potatoes and he will be putty in your hands 🙂  Try this juicy filet mignon recipe and achieve perfect results every time!
IMG_8584To complete this meal, I prepared Mashed Potatoes with Carmelized Shallots (recipe follows), sauteed Mushrooms, and a Caesar Salad with Pancetta.
I first encountered this recipe a couple of years ago on a blog called “Whit’s Amuse Bouche”.  Jeff is the griller in the family and is known for his amazing steak dishes.  They are so good that I usually never even order steak in a restaurant because I know it won’t hold a candle to his flavorful beef no matter what the cut!  Therefore, I never have a chance to cook steak for him so when I saw this recipe, I thought “I can do this!”  And so can you!
By: Whit’s Amuse Bouche, 2011
Servings: 2

Ingredients

filet mignon – two 8 ounce filets
kosher salt – 4 teaspoons
freshly cracked pepper – 4 teaspoons
butter – 1 stick
olive oil – 1 tablespoon
garlic – 2 cloves, chopped
parsley – 1 tablespoon, chopped
thyme – 1 tablespoon, chopped
lemon zest – 1/2 teaspoon (I only use 1/4..just a taste preference)

Directions
 Take 1/2 stick of butter, softened, and mix well with the chopped garlic, the chopped herbs, and the lemon zest.  Form into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
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Generously season the filets with salt and pepper, approximately 1 teaspoon of seasoning per side.
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Heat the remainder of the butter (1/2 stick) and the olive oil in a cast iron skillet to a screaming hot temperature. Preheat your oven to 400ºF.  Sear the filets in the screaming hot pan for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until a nice brown crust has formed. IMG_2130IMG_2131
While the steak is searing, continue to spoon the residual butter in the pan on top of the meat while it’s cooking.  Once both sides are seared, place in the center of the oven for about 7-8 minutes, depending upon how thick your steak is. IMG_2132
In the last minute of cooking, take the log of compound butter and slice a nice thick piece to place on top.
Your steak will be ready when it is approximately 135ºF in the center, or when you push lightly on the top center of the steak and it gently and slowly bounces back.   (Now while this temperature is perfect for Jeff, I like mine more done so I typically use two small cast iron skillets and put mine into the oven first.  You could also use one skillet and take the rarest out to rest while the other one continues to rest. To achieve a medium well with a warm pink center, I kept mine in for a total of 10-11 minutes, again this is based on how thick your steaks are).
Just when you didn’t think this meal could get any better, it does with Mashed Potatoes with Carmelized Shallots by Fine Cooking Magazine.  This is not your every day mashed potato dish…from the first bite you want to close your eyes and savor the rich creamy flavor.  I know you will enjoy this one!
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Ingredients
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced shallots
Kosher salt
4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup crème fraîche, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, heated; more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Reduce to medium low and add the shallots and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.DSCN0127DSCN0144

Put the potatoes in an 8-quart pot and add enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Add 1/4 cup of salt.

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Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, return to the pot, and stir gently over low heat to dry them.

Dump the potatoes into a bowl and then pass through a ricer or food mill back into the pot. (This is a food ricer that I bought from Williams Sonoma a couple of years ago and I love it!  If you don’t have one, you can mash with a potato masher in the pan or use    an immersion blender). 
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Whisk in the melted butter, creme fraiche (I got this at the Fresh Market but you could easily use sour cream), and milk, adding more milk as needed to reach your desired consistency.

Set aside 3 Tbs. of the shallots and stir the rest into the potatoes. (I prefer to finely chop the ones that are going into the potatoes at this point…just a consistency choice for me). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with the reserved shallots, and serve.  (I made these ahead and kept warm in a small crock pot)DSCN0146

Dinner is served!IMG_2140
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To enhance the flavors of the dish, serve with your favorite red wine…this is Jeff’s favorite:image 

Bottom Line:  I love this steak and you can play with the seasonings and compound butter to create any flavor you want.  It does create a smoky kitchen so have your fan stove top fan going and light some candles!  FYI…Jeff’s grilled steaks are still my favorite of all but he loves this and it was absolutely delicious!


I am reblogging this post because it is one of my favorite soup recipes.  Yesterday, I made it using venison from one of my husband’s recent hunting trips and no one knew the difference!

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My favorite hunter!
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The Venison Version

Everyone has their favorite soup recipe but with snowstorm Pax bearing down on us, I thought now would be a great time to share mine!  Soup is one of the first things I learned how to make when I was young…probably because you can literally do anything with it and it is so versatile.  Plus, a newbie cook always feels like they are doing something special when they are browning up onions and ground beef! (Love that smell!)

I eat this soup year round…as a matter of fact, if my husband is out of town, it is a must on my menu (except that I substitute one of his least favorite ingredients…ground turkey).  Gourmet?…not this soup!  Tasty?…very much so!  I use lots of shortcuts so I can whip this up quickly and I definitely change it up from time to time so feel free to experiment with your favorite veggies and spices!

Warning…this recipe makes A LOT!!

Frankie’s Beefy Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 package of Knorr’s Vegetable Soup Mix
  • 6 cups of water (for a hearty soup..more liquid if you like more broth)
  • 2 -3 cans of diced tomatoes with juice (depends on how “tomatoey” you like it…I use my tomatoes I froze from my garden)
  • 3 cups of V-8 juice (I use low-sodium Hot & Spicy V-8)
  • 2 cups of chopped cabbage (I use Savoy Cabbage but Green Cabbage is fine..omit this is you plan on freezing some)
  • 2 cups of frozen baby lima beans
  • 2 cups of frozen white shoepeg corn
  • 1 can of diced potatoes (yes, you can definitely use fresh..but I am doing the quick version 🙂
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 -3 tbsp of hot sauce (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil.  Add onions, celery, and red pepper flakes and saute until tender.  (I usually add a little salt here).  Add ground beef and brown until cooked through; drain well.

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Add remaining ingredients, bring to a bowl, and then allow to simmer for at least 2 hours for the best flavor.  I usually let it simmer all day and this could easily be done in the crock pot after browning the beef. 

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Now, dinner isn’t until 7 pm tonight but I can’t resist so here is my yummy lunch!  Enjoy!image

Camping is one of my favorite things to do…even in the winter with snow in the forecast. Food is always a highlight and I love trying different ways to switch up the normal camping cuisine so I am trying Taste of Home’s Summer Sausage Hobo Packets today.   

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I am fortunate to have one of those husbands who loves to take care of everybody and that is even more so when we are going on any kind of trip. Jeff likes to handle the groceries and take care of all the cooking so it was a bit of a challenge for me to convince him to let me take the role of chef one night during our trip to the hunt camp, HIS domain! As I began my preparation of cutting up the veggies for the packets, I found out my “handy helper aka hubby” had forgotten a couple of items..the potatoes and the summer squash. No big deal since as most home cooks know improvising is a common step in good food!  i decided to omit the chicken, no particular reason…just didn’t think it was really needed. I substituted the green bell pepper for yellow since I am not fond of the taste of green bell peppers. That turned out to be a good idea since that replaced the yellow from the missing squash (yes, even when camping, I do still like the food to look pretty on the plate)!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Johnsonville® Original Summer Sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 medium green pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into eight cubes
  • 1/4 cup prepared Italian salad dressing

Directions Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.  (Since it is just the two of us, I obviously used less veggies and put it in a gallon size Ziplock bag). Add the Italian seasoning to coat. (I let this marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator).

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Divide the vegetable mixture onto 8 square foil packets, placing the sausage on top, (I just made two packets but had I been home, I would have made more for leftovers).  Top each with a butter cube and seal tightly.  

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Grill, covered, over medium heat (20-25 minutes) until vegetables are tender, and if using chicken, it is cooked through.  Carefully, pen foil packets to release steam and this easy to clean up meal is ready to serve!  

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Bottom Line:  A wonderful camping dish! It definitely needed those starchy potatoes and in the future, I wouldn’t shred the cabbage but do a rough chop to achieve bigger pieces (hence, nice crunch!). Jeff suggested adding thin strips of jalapeño…that is why I keep this guy! Genius! 🙂

Valentine’s Day is coming soon and some of you, like Jeff and I, don’t really care about going out to eat.  Instead, create your own romance with a first course of Seafood Ceviche!  This recipe is something Jeff and I have tweaked over the years from variations we have had in different restaurants across the country.  I truly believe our version is the best and it fits perfectly with anyone wanting a healthy light bite!  (Hint:  leftovers are fantastic served in lettuce wraps!)

A Pitt family creation!
A Pitt family creation!

Ingredients:

  • English cucumber ½, peeled seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Roma tomato, 2 seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Large red pepper, ½ finely chopped
  • Purple onion small, ½ finely chopped
  • Cilantro, 3 Tbsp. finely chopped
  • Garlic, 2 cloves shredded on a micro planer
  • Kosher salt, 1 tsp or to taste
  • Rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp
  • Limes, 2 juiced or more to taste
  • Lemon, ½ juiced or more to taste
  • Jalapeño or Serrano pepper, one finely chopped or to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, optional to taste
  • Shrimp, 1 lb, fresh, cleaned and deveined and chopped
  • Fish filet, mahi mahi or red snapper or other firm fish, 6 oz., chopped

Combine all ingredients in glass bowl, blend and chill for 1-2 hours. Serve with your favorite corn, pita, or tortilla chip.  (I love black tortilla chips with this!)

 Garnish with avocado wedges and sliced lime.

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This weeknd, Jeff and I are going to go to his hunt camp in Middle Tennessee to get some much needed quiet time alone together.  Something about being outside always make me feel especially hungry but I get tired of the same old camping foods: hamburger, hotdogs, and chili. So, during our adventure, I am going to try out  Taste of Home’s “Summer Sausage Hobo Packet” packed with lots of vegetables and savory sausage.

I will share with you how this turns out later this weekend but in the meantime, how do you camp “gourmet style”? I would love to hear your ideas!

From the very first day it premiered 3 years ago, I have been a faithful viewer of The Chew.  From Michael Symon’s funny giggle and banter with Mario Batali to Carla Hall’s witty personality, I just love it!  This week a couple of recipes made me take notice but specifically Carla’s Cheesy Baked Spinach Dip.  dip
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion; finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons Flour
  • 3 cups Milk
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® dip mix
  • 6 ounces Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup Swiss Cheese; shredded – preferably Gruyere – divided (I must admit, I double this..lol!)
  • 10 ounces Frozen Spinach; thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid
  • Salt
  • Optional:  2 oz can of chopped jalapeno peppers
Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Over medium heat, melt Butter with Olive Oil in a sauce pot. Add Onions, season with Salt and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until soft and pale golden. Sprinkle in the Flour and stir until a dry paste forms.
  • Slowly whisk in Milk, trying to avoid lumps. Stir in the Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® dip mix and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until thickened slightly.
  • Stir in the Cream Cheese and half of the Swiss Cheese until melted. Add the Spinach and remove from heat.
  • Divide mixture between two small oven safe baking dishes. (This can be prepared a few days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer)  Notice, that in the picture Carla did hers in miniature ramekins but I chose two separate dishes (One with the original recipe and one with my added change of jalapeno peppers and hot sauce)
  • Place the baking dishes on a rimmed sheet pan and top with the remaining Swiss Cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly on top.DSCN0115

Bottom Line:  Bland (Sorry, Carla)!  Even the one that I added the jalapenos to fell flat.  There are so many better recipes out there for if you are going to have this type of decadent dish!  This one needs a lot of help and it isn’t worth making in your kitchen. 

That being said, another recipe I tried from the same show turned out perfectly and I will be sharing it soon…Stay tuned!

 

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