Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 2009 - The Floridian copycat

One of the great things (maybe the only) about Louisiana in the summer is the extra food that seems ever-present. Whether it's the tomatoes from your neighbors' garden that won't stop, or the crustaceans pouring from the boiling pots, somehow, you often wind up with lots of fresh something that you need to eat. I will miss this if/when we move to colder climes... For this month's cooking challenge, southern Louisiana provided the inspiration and ingredients!



On special occasions, we get breakfast at this great little joint in downtown Mandeville (one block north of Lake Ponchartrain) called "The Broken Egg" (http://www.anotherbrokenegg.com/), then go for a much needed walk along the lakefront. They have a VERY rich omelet called "The Floridian" in which fresh lump crab meat is sauteed with garlic and green onions and lusciously adorns a cream cheese-stuffed omelet. The sides (as if you need a side) include country potatoes and fruit. Ordinarily, I wouldn't even think of trying to make this sinfully rich breakfast item, but thanks to Louisiana bounty, I found myself with a grocery bag full of boiled crabs and a bushel of freshly boiled potatoes in my fridge - the potatoes came from the neighbor's garden, the crabs from a party where the gigantic cooler was stuffed full.

It sounds like a good idea to pick a bag full of crabs for this challenge, but when you're not getting the immediate satisfaction of eating as you go and there is no ice cold beer to soothe your bleeding and burning fingers, not so much fun! But, for all of you wondering, "How does one pick a crab?" here you go:




It is made a bit more difficult when a little someone, who's gotten his first taste of this delicious Fruit de Mer, won't leave you alone until he gets a bite (then another, and another).





















Now that the crabs have been picked (sans a few bites), I was ready to gather the ingredients to make "The Floridian". For a family of 2 1/2 they are:

Lump crab meat (a bowl-full)
4 green onions
4 - 6 cloves of garlic (yeah...garlic)
1/2 tbs butter
5 eggs
splash of milk/soy milk
6 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbs olive oil
dash or two of Tony's

For the country potatoes, I used 4-5 boiled (in crab boil no less) garden-fresh potatoes and about 1 tbsp of olive oil. And since this was our dinner and not breakfast, I steamed a broccoli crown as a side instead of fruit.



Once the potatoes were diced, I heated up some olive oil in a skillet, plopped them in, and left them alone. Next, I needed to saute the crab meat with the onions and garlic. Heat up the butter in a skillet, add chopped green onions and minced garlic. Heat through, then add the crab meat. The smell of this buttery, garlicky concoction was intoxicating!


As the crab meat warms through, it is time to make the omelets. For the adults, each omelet had 2 eggs, for the little squirt, only one. I made each omelet separately...whisked the eggs, a dash or two of Tony's, a splash of soy milk (or whole milk), and a pinch of shredded cheese. Then I liberally oiled the skillet, and heated it through. Once the bottom of the omelet had set a bit, I added a hunk of cream cheese to one side.




I do get stressed out when I am making omelets, mainly because I am always nervous that it's not going to look right. I either get something that looks lovely (on left) or hideous (on right):









I got 2 out of 3 O.K., and the final product looked pretty good:

yes...that is a kid's plate, but it was the best looking one of the bunch. Anyway, we all enjoyed it thoroughly. The gooey cream cheese melded perfectly with the sweet crab meat saute, and the country potatoes and broccoli nicely complemented the transition from breakfast item to dinner item. If I were to make this again (not sure I will, given the fact that I had cuts on my hands for a week), I would make all of our omelets with just one egg - that's some rich stuff!

mmmmMMMMM!!!!!!

June 2009 - The Floridian copycat

One of the great things (maybe the only) about Louisiana in the summer is the extra food that seems ever-present. Whether it's the tomatoes from your neighbors' garden that won't stop, or the crustaceans pouring from the boiling pots, somehow, you often wind up with lots of fresh something that you need to eat. I will miss this if/when we move to colder climes... For this month's cooking challenge, southern Louisiana provided the inspiration and ingredients!



On special occasions, we get breakfast at this great little joint in downtown Mandeville (one block north of Lake Ponchartrain) called "The Broken Egg" (http://www.anotherbrokenegg.com/), then go for a much needed walk along the lakefront. They have a VERY rich omelet called "The Floridian" in which fresh lump crab meat is sauteed with garlic and green onions and lusciously adorns a cream cheese-stuffed omelet. The sides (as if you need a side) include country potatoes and fruit. Ordinarily, I wouldn't even think of trying to make this sinfully rich breakfast item, but thanks to Louisiana bounty, I found myself with a grocery bag full of boiled crabs and a bushel of freshly boiled potatoes in my fridge - the potatoes came from the neighbor's garden, the crabs from a party where the gigantic cooler was stuffed full.

It sounds like a good idea to pick a bag full of crabs for this challenge, but when you're not getting the immediate satisfaction of eating as you go and there is no ice cold beer to soothe your bleeding and burning fingers, not so much fun! But, for all of you wondering, "How does one pick a crab?" here you go:


video

It is made a bit more difficult when a little someone, who's gotten his first taste of this delicious Fruit de Mer, won't leave you alone until he gets a bite (then another, and another).





















Now that the crabs have been picked (sans a few bites), I was ready to gather the ingredients to make "The Floridian". For a family of 2 1/2 they are:

Lump crab meat (a bowl-full)
4 green onions
4 - 6 cloves of garlic (yeah...garlic)
1/2 tbs butter
5 eggs
splash of milk/soy milk
6 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbs olive oil
dash or two of Tony's

For the country potatoes, I used 4-5 boiled (in crab boil no less) garden-fresh potatoes and about 1 tbsp of olive oil. And since this was our dinner and not breakfast, I steamed a broccoli crown as a side instead of fruit.



Once the potatoes were diced, I heated up some olive oil in a skillet, plopped them in, and left them alone. Next, I needed to saute the crab meat with the onions and garlic. Heat up the butter in a skillet, add chopped green onions and minced garlic. Heat through, then add the crab meat. The smell of this buttery, garlicky concoction was intoxicating!


As the crab meat warms through, it is time to make the omelets. For the adults, each omelet had 2 eggs, for the little squirt, only one. I made each omelet separately...whisked the eggs, a dash or two of Tony's, a splash of soy milk (or whole milk), and a pinch of shredded cheese. Then I liberally oiled the skillet, and heated it through. Once the bottom of the omelet had set a bit, I added a hunk of cream cheese to one side.




I do get stressed out when I am making omelets, mainly because I am always nervous that it's not going to look right. I either get something that looks lovely (on left) or hideous (on right):









I got 2 out of 3 O.K., and the final product looked pretty good:

yes...that is a kid's plate, but it was the best looking one of the bunch. Anyway, we all enjoyed it thoroughly. The gooey cream cheese melded perfectly with the sweet crab meat saute, and the country potatoes and broccoli nicely complemented the transition from breakfast item to dinner item. If I were to make this again (not sure I will, given the fact that I had cuts on my hands for a week), I would make all of our omelets with just one egg - that's some rich stuff!

mmmmMMMMM!!!!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 2009-- Copycat Carmela's Chicken Rigatoni from Macaroni Grill--- Nikki

So. I decided to copy my favorite dish from Macaroni Grill as soon as learned what the challenge was. I don't generally go to the restaurant anymore, as they have a tendency to seat us in the very back of the restaurant when we go with Nan-- we call it the Child's Grotto. It's dark, very close to the noisy kitchen, and sort of a waiter's no-man's land. Sigh. Anyway. I love this particular dish, and I figured if I could replicate it, I wouldn't have to go back there anymore. However, June has been insane. It's been difficult to find a time when Jay would be home to eat the fruits of my labor, plus I had more trouble than usual finding the Marsala wine-- a pretty integral ingredient. As the month came to an end, I finally sucked it up and went to a liquor store to find my Marsala, and I tackled the dish today-- even though we'd long ago scheduled today to tear the house apart and steam clean the carpets. Yep. I AM brilliant.
Here's the lineup of ingredients:


1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt
Pepper
1 onion
8 oz mushrooms
1/2 C butter (1 stick)
2 stems rosemary, chopped
1 C Marsala wine
1/2 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

First, I chopped the chicken into bite-sized pieces, coated the pieces with salt and pepper, and added them to the smoking hot skillet with a little olive oil.




Here's Jay taking a moment from cleaning to suck in the sauteed chicken goodness. Yum. After the chicken was browned, I added a 1/2 Tbsp of butter to the same pan and dumped the chopped onion to the pan.



Yummo. I carmelized the onions, and put them aside until needed later. (By the way-- those lazy jackholes at Macaroni Grill apparently have carmelized onions just ready-made to use on demand. Jerks.) Next, I dumped the rest of the stick of butter into the still-hot pan, and added the mushrooms. This is when things started to smell truly awesome.



It was also at this point I remembered I needed to chop the rosemary. And add the pasta to the water boiling on the stove. And add the Marsala. Things were getting crazy.

I chopped the rosemary (and please note the presence of my favorite cooking implement-- the glass of wine...).



I added the pasta to the boiling water, and then I put the onions and chicken back into the skillet, and added the Marsala.


And at this point, my husband began to express his deep appreciation for the smell coming from the kitchen. I let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, and then I added the heavy cream:


I let it cook for a few more minutes, then I took the pasta out of the water and served it up in the bowls. The final step is a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.



Oh, my. It smells JUST like the dish at Macaroni Grill. And the taste?


It was AWESOME. The only discernable difference is the chicken-- I sauteed it, they grill it. (Hence the name Macaroni Grill...) But other than that-- perfect. And what did Jay think?



He approved. Our usual third taster is at her grandma's tonight, but I think she would've approved. With a nice salad, a little bread, some wine-- it was a lovely date night at home. Fantastic. I would completely make it again.

June 2009-- Copycat Carmela's Chicken Rigatoni from Macaroni Grill--- Nikki

So. I decided to copy my favorite dish from Macaroni Grill as soon as learned what the challenge was. I don't generally go to the restaurant anymore, as they have a tendency to seat us in the very back of the restaurant when we go with Nan-- we call it the Child's Grotto. It's dark, very close to the noisy kitchen, and sort of a waiter's no-man's land. Sigh. Anyway. I love this particular dish, and I figured if I could replicate it, I wouldn't have to go back there anymore. However, June has been insane. It's been difficult to find a time when Jay would be home to eat the fruits of my labor, plus I had more trouble than usual finding the Marsala wine-- a pretty integral ingredient. As the month came to an end, I finally sucked it up and went to a liquor store to find my Marsala, and I tackled the dish today-- even though we'd long ago scheduled today to tear the house apart and steam clean the carpets. Yep. I AM brilliant.
Here's the lineup of ingredients:


1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt
Pepper
1 onion
8 oz mushrooms
1/2 C butter (1 stick)
2 stems rosemary, chopped
1 C Marsala wine
1/2 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

First, I chopped the chicken into bite-sized pieces, coated the pieces with salt and pepper, and added them to the smoking hot skillet with a little olive oil.




Here's Jay taking a moment from cleaning to suck in the sauteed chicken goodness. Yum. After the chicken was browned, I added a 1/2 Tbsp of butter to the same pan and dumped the chopped onion to the pan.



Yummo. I carmelized the onions, and put them aside until needed later. (By the way-- those lazy jackholes at Macaroni Grill apparently have carmelized onions just ready-made to use on demand. Jerks.) Next, I dumped the rest of the stick of butter into the still-hot pan, and added the mushrooms. This is when things started to smell truly awesome.



It was also at this point I remembered I needed to chop the rosemary. And add the pasta to the water boiling on the stove. And add the Marsala. Things were getting crazy.

I chopped the rosemary (and please note the presence of my favorite cooking implement-- the glass of wine...).



I added the pasta to the boiling water, and then I put the onions and chicken back into the skillet, and added the Marsala.


And at this point, my husband began to express his deep appreciation for the smell coming from the kitchen. I let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, and then I added the heavy cream:


I let it cook for a few more minutes, then I took the pasta out of the water and served it up in the bowls. The final step is a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.



Oh, my. It smells JUST like the dish at Macaroni Grill. And the taste?


It was AWESOME. The only discernable difference is the chicken-- I sauteed it, they grill it. (Hence the name Macaroni Grill...) But other than that-- perfect. And what did Jay think?



He approved. Our usual third taster is at her grandma's tonight, but I think she would've approved. With a nice salad, a little bread, some wine-- it was a lovely date night at home. Fantastic. I would completely make it again.

June 2009 – Poptart Copycat – Sara

I wanted to make the real deal of something that I would normally buy prepackaged. Poptarts (or their organic equivalent) fit the bill. The copycat version put the original to shame. Seriously. I cannot stress enough the need for each and every one of you to attempt your own Poptart.



I found this recipe (http://www.cookingcache.com/breakfast/homemadepoptarts.shtml?rdid=rc1) on the web. I halfed it, used butter instead of shortening, and increased the flour along with a few other minor modifications. (I always need to use WAY more flour than what the recipe calls for. I have some sort of flour black hole in my mixing bowl. )

Poptart:

6 tbsp butter

6 tbsp sugar

2 eggs

3 cups flour (approx.)

1 ½ tbsp baking powder

Preserves of choice

**1 egg yolk & 2 tbsp cream for brushing prior to baking







Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Mix in flour and baking powder. Add flour if necessary to get a decent dough texture. Chill for an hour or so. (Honestly, I don’t know if the fridge time made a bit of difference in the end. I think a good floured surface sufficed)



Turn out onto floured surface. Roll out and divide into equal parts. Spread on preserves onto a square. Top with another square of dough. Brush with egg mixture and bake on 350 degrees for approx 20 minutes.



While baking, mix frosting ingredients over medium low temp.

Frosting:

½ cup powder sugar

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract



Brush with frosting when done baking and sprinkle with sprinkles.



Yum, Yum, Yum, Yum, Yum, delicioso!



Very well received. (He’s eating ranch with everything these days…)