Monday, January 14, 2013

Super Bowl Snack Attack

Super Bowl Sunday is only a few weeks away. Personally, I could care less about who is playing in the game, I just want to eat! (Which is why I'm thinking of this over two weeks before the game.) For me, SBS is typically spent recovering from my birthday party. My birthdays is February 4th and always falls within a few days of the big game.

Aside from curing whatever hangover I may have, I love cooking on SBS. There are so many options for great finger foods, pizzas and dips. Personally, I always tend to make dips and sandwiches. Like my new fave: loaded baked potato dip or pesto club sandwiches. Another great one ill be bringing to the party this year is my spicy sausage and tomato dip. It is always a fan favorite.

1 lb spicy sausage, you can buy links and remove the casing or the breakfast sausage packed in a tube 8 oz cream cheese
1 can diced tomatoes, Italian style, half drained.

Cook sausage in a skillet over medium high heat until browned. Add in cream cheese and mix until melted smoothly with sausage. Finally, add in can of tomatoes, including all of the  juice. Stir until warmed through.

And that's it! How easy was that!? Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or veggies.

Next up, is a great "dude" food: Seasoned Corn Nuts. I have to admit, my first time ever having corn nuts was over the summer and oddly, I was hooked. There was something about the spicy, crunchy corn that I loved. I've been wanting to make some from scratch for a while so I gave it a whirl a few weeks back. These would definitely make a great pre-game snack and are great make-ahead treats since they'll keep for 3 to 4 days after baking.

1 package of giant white corn kernels for this snack. The corn can be found in many Mexican food stores sold either in bulk or packaged by Goya Foods and labeled as Giant White Corn or Maiz Mote Pelado. The larger kernel is preferred.
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian spices
Olive Oil

1) Soak dried corn in 8 cups of water for 12 to 18 hours, or longer, if desired. When finished soaking, discard water and use paper towels to dry the kernels. I soaked mine over night and until I got home from work the next day. It really doesn't matter as long as you soak at least 12 hours.
2) When ready to bake corn nuts, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
3) On a large rimmed, non greased baking sheet, spread out a single layer of corn kernels then add just enough oil to coat the kernels without much extra on the pan. 
4) Pop in the oven for roasting and stir with a wooden spoon every 5 to 6 minutes to ensure they don't burn. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Note: you will get a few burned pieces, but that's okay. They just taste extra crunchy. 
5) Once cooked, carefully, use a paper towel to absorb excess oil as corn. While still oily, sprinkle seasonings over the kernels, turning them to season completely. Other seasonings options include: kosher salt, garlic salt, Cajun, popcorn seasonings, or any desired favors of choice.
6) Let cool then serve!
I hope everyone has a great game day!

Monday, January 7, 2013

BLT Turkey Risotto

The initial goal of this blog was to teach myself how to cook and learn the basics on my own. Three years later, I find myself incredibly comfortable in the kitchen and can quickly throw together a pretty decent meal without little preparation. The younger version of me that started this blog would be so proud!! But sadly, with that comfort comes a lack of change in my kitchen so I like indulge myself every now and then with an exceptional dish.

Last week, I opted for BLT Turkey Risotto. I was cooking for my boyfriend's friends so on top of pleasing my appetite, I wanted to wow them with my culinary skills. I think this recipe did the trick, though I highly advise you use bacon instead of pancetta. While pancetta is quite tasty, there is nothing better than some fatty, in your face, bacon flavor to liven up a meal. Plus, boys love bacon! (DUH!)

Regardless of which porky meat you choose, I highly recommend this dish. In one delightful little bowl your body enjoys grains, protein, dairy and veggies. I think that's a pretty balanced meal...even if it's not quite the lightest dish you've ever eaten. ;)

Sorry for the poor picture quality. I only had my boyfriends phone handy.
6 cups chickn broth
1 stick unsalted butter
4 oz diced pancetta
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
4 cups baby arugula
3/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

1) In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Lower the heat to low and cover to keep warm. 
2) While the broth is boiling, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the turkey until fully browned.
3) Next, in a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Add 2 more tablespoons butter and the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute; add the wine and cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup warm stock and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring, until the rice is al dente and cooked through, about 20 minutes (the risotto should be slightly soupy, but not runny). 
4) Stir in the turkey and tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, the arugula, 1/2 cup cheese and the pancetta. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

Unless they were being nice the guys said they absolutely LOVED the meal.  Obviously, I was beyond thrilled that the dish went off without a hitch! I could rest easy that night. ;)


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Kale and Sausage

In my last post I mentioned my stockpile of frozen soups. One of my favorite gems of the year was one I made back in the spring: Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale.

When I first made this I was on a huge white bean kick which oddly enough hasn't really faded one bit. ;)  I seriously love them!! Not only are they inexpensive but they're also a great source of protein.

In a pinch to serve something quick and healthy you should definitely try this one! It tastes great if you swap the sausage with ground turkey too!

1 lb ground sausage, can be a mix of sweet and spicy
2 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch if kale, torn into small pieces
6 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onion until translucent then add sausage and cook until fully browned.
2) Once meat is cooked through, toss in kale and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add in white beans and broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
3) Season with salt and pepper then serve.