Thursday, June 28, 2012

Steak, Mushroom, and Asparagus Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Robert and I have been using our Big Green Egg Smoker Grill practically every night since we moved in to our new apartment. When we end up with leftovers, I like to get creative with the reheating so as to avoid getting bored. My most recent attempts was using some leftover steak fillets to make this delicious pasta.

I found the recipe for the sauce on a blog and new I had to give it a try. Then I decided to add mushrooms and asparagus, two of my favorite sides when it comes to steak. This pasta was absolutely delicious, albeit very rich. It's a great way to reuse leftover steaks (especially those on the rare side).

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Steak, Mushroom, and Asparagus Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped leftover steak
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Place the asparagus pieces in a steamer and cook until just done but still crisp.
 While the asparagus is steaming, chop the leftover steak into cubes.
 Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat and add the green onions and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and have released most of their liquid.
 Add the steak and stir to warm through.
 Pour in the wine
 and beef broth.
 Bring to a slight boil then pour in the heavy cream.
 Stir to fully combine.
 Stir in the gorgonzola until fully melted.

 Toss in the asparagus.
Serve over whole wheat penne pasta and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Pretty Peas

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pesto Pasta: Perfect for the hot Texas summer!

When I think of summer food, I cannot help but think of pesto. I grew up eating pesto pasta every summer. Never in restaurants, actually, I do not really like pesto in restaurants. I really only like homemade pesto, especially the pesto that my mom makes from her own fresh basil, grown in the backyard. Although I do not grow my own basil (I have tried....but our two pups had too much fun with the basil...the basil did not have much fun), I can still make and share this tasty recipe with you.

Hanging out in her jungle...the backyard!

Cort is ready for the 4th of July!

You can also use this pesto as a spread on sandwiches, pizzas, meats or veggies. Be creative!

This is very much by feel and preference. If you prefer a different nut, use a different nut. If you think it needs a bit more olive oil, splash some more into the mixture. A word of caution: always add less at first. You can always add more, but you cannot remove what you have added.

Snuggle puppy Shafer. 

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Ingredients for the pesto:
2 tablespoons of almonds
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper
(Bunker added red pepper flakes for a kick)
1/2 a lemon

Ingredients to finish the pasta dish:
2 fully cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 pound cooked penne pasta (I used a pasta with added nutrient goodies)

1. Get out your food processor and gather all of your ingredients.

2. Add the almonds to the processor and process until minced.
3. Add the oil, garlic, basil and salt and pepper to the almonds. Process until finely minced. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor.

You can stop here if you want and add just the pesto to meats, veggies, sandwiches, little bagel chips....lots of options!

4. Return the cooked and drained pasta to the pot in which it was cooked and add about 3 tablespoons of the pesto, the chopped chicken and the sliced cherry tomatoes. Toss to combine and let everything become warm throughout.

5. Squeeze half of the lemon over the pasta and toss. This brightens the whole dish.

You could also add some cheese at this point. Perhaps some mozzarella or parmigiana. 

6. Enjoy on a hot summer evening! The leftovers make a wonderful cold lunch the next day!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Green Chile Breakfast Casserole

Saturdays are probably my favorite day of the week. The primary reason is the ability to sleep until I wake up and spend the day working around the house, which right now means continuing to unpack boxes and get our life in order. In our previous residence, we lived a 2 minute drive behind Bubba's, a delicious southern fried chicken joint with great breakfast and a drive through. We could roll out of bed, hop in the car and get eggs, bacon and biscuits and gravy and continue on with our lazy Saturday.

Unfortunately, it's no longer that easy to get Bubba's breakfast on Saturday morning. However, this week I think I may have come across our new lazy Saturday breakfast norm, the breakfast casserole. The beauty about the breakfast casserole is that all the work is done the night before. So when you finally wake up, but before you're really ready to get out of bed, you can heat the oven and put the ready-to-go casserole in the oven and crawl back in bed until it's ready. Easy peasy.

This recipe actually comes from my mother and a cookbook she and the youth at First Baptist Monahans Texas put together as a fundraiser when she was Youth Minister before I was born. My grandmother bought me a book at the time and gave it to me when I went to college and started cooking for myself. Mom always called it "Youth Breakfast Casserole" because it was what she always made for breakfasts for the youth group and for the disciple now groups staying at our house. To my knowledge, we only had this when we had guests staying at our house.

That being said, I think this is the new basis of a weekly breakfast ritual for Robert and I. We've already discussed ways to add variation (mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc) and we love how the quantity takes care of us on Sunday as well. If we come up with any brilliant combinations, I'll be sure to post the here. Because lets be honest, who couldn't use an easy breakfast for those lazy Saturday mornings?

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Green Chile Breakfast Casserole

3 slices of bread torn into small pieces
6 eggs beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon pepper
1 small can green chiles
1 cup grated cheese
1 pound sausage, browned and drained

Brown the sausage and break into crumbles.
 Break the 6 eggs into a medium to large bowl and whisk until beaten.
 Add the 2 cups milk, salt and pepper to the eggs and stir to combine.
 Add the green chiles and stir to combine.
 In a 9x12 pan, place the bread pieces evenly across the pan.
 Pour the egg mixture on top of the bread.
 Top with the sausage
 and cheese. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.
 In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the casserole in the oven and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
Serve with coffee and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rigatoni and Meatballs: A satisfying meal for a new family with a new addition!

Sorry for the long absence! Summer has started and I just went on mental vacation I suppose. I also haven't made anything too exciting, just kind of out of kitchen mode. Do you ever have that happen? Anyways, back to the kitchen!

Five year anniversary dinner at Fearings!

We have a sweet couple that just had a sweet little boy, and therefore a comforting and filling meal is in order to make their new life as a family of three a bit easier. I chose to make a dish I have made before for another couple and their new baby. It makes a large amount so that it can easily be frozen and reheated for dinners, lunches or mid-night snacks. Fair warning, this takes a bit of time and includes quite a few ingredients.

Oh hi there cute little ones!

I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs: Smitten Kitchen.

Beautiful Cort sunbathing. 

Cute Shafer just doing what she does best...being cute!

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Ingredients for the meatballs:
1/4 cup of milk
1 slice of white bread, trimmed of crust and slightly dry
1 pound of ground beef
1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of flour
veggie oil for simmering

Ingredients for bèchamel:
4 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients for finishing the dish:
1 pound rigatoni
3/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 tablespoon butter for preparing your baking dish

Steps for meatballs:

1. Heat the milk over a low burner, do not let the milk come to a simmer.
2. Tear small pieces of the white bread into the milk and let it soak for about 5 minutes.

3. Once the bread is soaked through, pick it up with your hands and squeeze off the excess milk.

4. Place the "wrung out" bread in a large mixing bowl.
5. Into the large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, garlic, grated cheese, egg, salt and pepper.

6. Gently mix all of the ingredients together, until you cannot differentiate between the different ingredients, they should be fully integrated with each other.

7. With your hands, gather a small bit of the mixture, about the size of a pecan.
8. Roll this lump between your hands to for a nice cylindrical ball.
9. Repeat this gathering and rolling process until all of the mixture is transformed into small meatballs.

10. Sprinkle the cup of flour onto a plate.
11. Roll each meatball around on the plate until fully coated in flour.

12. Once all the meatballs are floured, place them in a strainer and shake to remove excess flour.

13. Place your large skillet over medium high heat, and add enough veggie oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and then creep up the sides about 1/4 an inch.
14. When the oil is hot (sizzles when you put the meatballs in it), place about 10 meatballs in the skillet. Do not overcrowd your skillet.

15. Cook the meatballs, turning occasionally, until a rich brown crust forms.
16. As you finish each batch, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel covered surface.

Steps for bèchamel:

1. In a saucepan over low heat, heat the milk until small pearly bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan. Do not let the milk come to a full boil. 

2. In a larger saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter.
3. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add the flour to the melted butter. Keep stirring constantly until combined. 

4. For a total of 8 additions, add 2 tablespoons of milk at a time to the flour and butter mixture, stirring constantly. 

5. Once these 8 additions have been made, you can start adding the milk 1/2 a cup at a time. Be sure to continue stirring constantly. You want a very smooth and silky texture. 

6. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
7. Continue to stir the sauce until it thickens a bit. You want it to coat the back of the spoon. 

Steps to finish the dish:
(This picture includes extra milk, I did not use it as I thought the mixture was creamy enough.) 

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and butter your 9 x 13 baking dish. (I used one which could be thrown away so they did not have to worry about getting my dish cleaned and back to me.)
2. In a well salted pot of boiling water, cook the rigatoni until al dente. 
3. Drain the pasta in a strainer and place back in the large pot. 
4. To the pasta, add two thirds of the bèchamel sauce, half of the grated cheese, and all of the meatballs.

5. Gently mix together. 

6. Evenly spread the rigatoni and meatball mixture into the pan. Be sure to level the mixture across the top.

7. Spread the rest of the bèchamel on top and then sprinkle the remaining grated cheese. 

8. Place in your oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top becomes golden brown in color, and delicately crunchy in texture.