Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Penne with Sausage and Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

An elegant pasta dish that's sure to impress company. Most people I've showed this recipe to in the past have taken to making it fairly often, it's not hard at all.

Usually it's all tossed together, this time I layered it on the pasta for whatever reason.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 links hot Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vodka
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

450 grams penne (pre-cooked weight), cooked and drained


In large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat. Remove casing from sausage and add to skillet. Cook, breaking up the meat, until browned. Add garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring until garlic is golden brown.

Add tomatoes and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Add vodka and cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, add the other 2 tbls vodka and add pasta, toss to cover penne with sauce. Stir in fresh parsley and serve. Garnish with fresh grated parmesean and additional parsley if desired.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Chinese Sausage and Rice

Karen again! *gasp*

I started making this about the time that Jason and I started going out. Some of our dates were wandering along Sumerset poking around the Chinese Grocery stores. I would see these boxes of vacuum sealed sausages and wonder what you would do with them or how to cook them.

Jason’s co-worker (at the time) Karen Benson told us that they are GREAT when you use them in the rice cooker. These are handy little machines that you put in a specified amount of rice and water, flick a switch, and it makes perfect rice every time! The process of cooking the rice makes a lot of steam and cooks the veggies and meat along with the rice. Every time I make this J is never thrilled with it, seems to find a way to have a second bowl. :P Also, I can be proud that Ryan LOVES it! He usually has seconds as well.

1 package Chinese sausages (smokey-sweet)
5 stalks celery
2 red onion – med
2 red pepper – large
3 cups uncooked rice

1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp beef stock powder
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup light soya sauce

Dice all vegetables, small pieces but not minced

The sausage should come out of the package in one lump. Start at the end and slice the entire package very thinly.

The rice in the rice cooker pot, washed, the vegetables, then sausage. Pour the hot liquid over entire contents.

Turn on the cooker with the lid on and dinner will be done when it turns off.

Tip: Take out of the cooker immediately. Stir everything up until it’s well mixed I have found that if I leave it in there the rice on the bottom burns.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Meat Loaf

Screw gourmet food. I've been sick for about two weeks now and I've been more focused on "survival" then properly reducing a nice deglazed sauce. Please forgive me for not posting such delights as "ham sandwich" and "can of Campbell's tomato soup that tasted like metal" and who can forget "turkey soup that I was too congested to actually taste".

Anyway, I'm starting to get over it, and today I put together something I've not made in a few years. Meat loaf. Sure, it's not worth showing off, but it tastes good and somebody out there may want to try this version of it.

12 soda crackers
1 slice bread

2 lbs lean ground beef

1 egg
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil
2 tsp parsley flakes
2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp mild bbq sauce
1 onion, diced finely

Preheat oven to 350 C

Run the soda crackers and bread through a food processor.

Combine all other ingrediants in a large bowl and combine well with your hands.

Press firmly into two loaf pans and bake for 1 hour. If you wish, combine ketchup and brown sugar and brush over the top 15 minutes before they're done.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Chicken Tortilla Lasagna

Once every leap year (so it seems) I get to lie about the house like a useless lump while my wife cooks for us. So, a guest-post by Karen:

I have been making this dish for YEARS! My aunt and uncle first introduced it to me when I was a starving student in college. They invited me over for Sunday night dinner and it took maybe an hour to get it on the table. I was a little short on the food budget that week so by the time I had a plate of it in front of me…well, half of it was gone before the plate hit the table! It was so easy to make I was soon making it for my girlfriends. Later on it became my “Impress my date with my cooking skills” dish! Jason, I’m sure, remembers the first time I made it for him. You can adjust the heat level by the type of salsa you use and the type of chiles you add. To make it a little bit healthier I also use fat free sour cream and whole wheat wraps. Enjoy!


3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup grated chedder cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 cups sour cream
4 oz. can diced green chiles, drained
3/4 tsp cumin
12 oz. jar salsa
8 - 8" tortillas
1/2 cup grated chedder cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 400 C. In large bowl combine chicken, cheese, green onions, sour cream, chiles and cumin.

Pour 1 cup salsa in bottom of 10" glass pie plate. Lay one tortilla over salsa, coating that one side. Place that tortilla, salsa side down, in a round casserole dish. Spread 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture on top. Repeat with layers of tortilla and chicken mixture until ingrediants are consumed. Top with leftover salsa from the pie plate, and the 1/2 cup of reserved cheese.

Bake for 35 minutes, let stand for 10 more minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with additional salsa and cold sour cream.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Carrot Muffins

I'm 99% "cook" and maybe 1% "baker" but I happened to be in the mood to make something sweet tonight. I've honesly never made carrot cake or muffins before, but here they are. Beginner's luck, I guess, as they were perfect (not that I'm inclined to post things that are either boring or just plain bad).

12 ounces (approximately 2 and 1/2 cups), all-purpose flour
12 ounces grated carrots
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 and 1/3 cups
2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
3 large eggs
6 ounces plain yogurt
6 ounces vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees C.

I used some butter-flavored Pam(tm) on a couple of muffin pans.

Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl, and combine. Add this mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.

In a 2ed bowl combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt until smooth. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Scoop out into muffin tins (I got 18 muffins) and bake for 25-30 minutes (more or less, use a toothpick to test them).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn out onto a rack and allow to cool completely. Reach for the cream cheese frosting if you've been good today.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mesquite Chicken

A warm, sunny last. It's been a long, cold, dark winter. Working from home has had one negative side effect I didn't expect: It makes winters worse. I don't usually feel "stuck at home" because I'm a natural homebody anyway, but when the weather is nasty I'll sometimes realize I've not left the house for over a week. Depressing. Anyway, it was warm enough outside for t-shirts (brielfly) and I jumped at the chance to fire up the Char-Broil.

No recipe for making your own mesquite marinade, I cheated and used a packaged one. No sense trying to make your own, as you'd just end up buying branded products anyway (Liquid Smoke).

Friday, March 10, 2006

Roasted Chicken Wings

...along with garlic mashed potatoes, and fried corn and onions that are seasoned with some Essence*. You can, of course, use any chicken parts you like. Doing half-chickens on your grill outdoors would be perfect.

1 kg chicken wings

4 tbsp white flour
1 tbsp parsley flakes
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp cayanne pepper

Preheat oven to 400C.

If you have one, run the spices through a coffee grinder to ensure a more even texture. Toss the chicken in the seasoning mix, and fire into the oven for about 20 minutes. Turn down to 350C and go another 25 minutes or so.

Cooking time will change depending on the size of your chicken what the pros do and measure internal temperature with a probe. You'll want to hit anything between 170 and 180 F (77C to 82C).

* Emeril is an unwatchable smarmy idiot. However, his seasoning mix is really good on pretty much everything (The only thing I don't use it with is red meat. Chicken, pork, white fish, roasted vegetables...go nuts).

Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning:

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Chickpea Salad

Please ignore the leafy salad with tuna, and the piece of roasted chicken, nothing to see here. I'll focus on the chickpea salad for the moment, as it's a great (and quick) toss-together for the coming warm weather...eventually.

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice

Combine all ingrediants, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for a few hours to meld the flavors. It's a great side dish to spicy food (curry!).

Oh, and I totally stole this from Linda last summer.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Pork Loin with Roasted Garlic

Whew, not much posting recently. Combination of a few evenings not really making anything of note, or doing a few repeats of previous things I've already shown.

Anyway, did a nice pork loin tonight. Seared first in an uncoated pan (after being dusted with flour salt, and pepper) and then fishished off in a 400 C oven. Remove the pork to a cutting board to rest, then deglaze the pan with white wine. Losen up the brown bits with a flat wisk, hit the pan with a spoonful each of butter and dijon mustard, and you have a quick pan sauce.

Roasted some heads of garlic in the oven with some potatoes and that was pretty much it. Add a vegetable of your choice and there you go.