Saturday, January 28, 2012

Superbowl Party Recipes, Part 2

I forgot to mention in my last post that you can substitute chicken for the pork in the Pulled Pork Sandwiches.  The crock pot cooking times will most likely be at the lower range, depending on your crock pot (4 hours on high or 6 hours on low).

I also wanted to post an honorable mention!  I found this Jalepeno Popper dip on pinterest awhile ago and decided to test it out for New Years Eve.  I did not make any changes to it, so I will just post a link to the blog with the original recipe: jalepeno popper dip from Tracey's Culinary Adventures.  I thought it was fabulous and would make a great dip for a super bowl party.  My taste tasters (husband, brother-in-law, sister, mom, and dad) did not think it was as amazing as I did, but they are also, admittedly, not huge jalepeno popper fans.  If you like jalepeno poppers, give this one a try!  I think you will like it.

And while I am on the subject of jalepenos... has anyone tried making Pioneer Woman's Bacon Wrapped Jalepeno Thingees ?  My good friend gave me a Pioneer Woman cookbook for Christmas and that is one of the recipes in it.  They look so delicious and would make a perfect Super Bowl appetizer too!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Super Bowl Party Recipes

Does everyone have their Super Bowl menus set?  I thought I would post a couple of recipes that would be perfect for Super Bowl parties.  The first one was a Secret Chef favorite (Crock Pot Pulled Pork) and we used to provide LeBus Brioche rolls with it for making sandwiches.  Oh, how I miss those rolls!  I heard there is a LeBus bakery outlet in King of Prussia.  I can't believe I never heard of it before!  I will have to check it out one day and report back here.  The other recipe is Buffalo Chicken Dip, recipe courtesy of my husband's cousin's wife, Erin.  Thanks, Erin!  There are a ton of versions of this recipe, but what makes hers different is that she purees the chicken (sounds gross, I know, but trust me!)  Every single time I've made it, people devour it and ask for the recipe!

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Sandwiches (makes approx. 6 sandwiches)
2 cups ketchup
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 or 2 Tbs. finely minced canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (use more or less according to taste),
OR 1-2 tsp ground Chipotle peppers*
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1.5 - 2lbs pork shoulder (or pork tenderloin, etc.)

*I was at the Penzey's store in Chestnut Hill in December and saw they sell ground chipotle peppers.  I bought some to try, because honestly, the canned ones are a bit of a pain for me.  We don't eat a ton of spicy foods (yes, chipotles are a little spicy for me!)  so I have to mince and freeze the extra.  When I made this batch of pulled pork I kind of guessed at how much ground to substitute for the canned.  I used 2 tsp. and it came out perfect (just a little spicy, not too hot), and I can honestly not taste the difference between the ground or the canned!  Do if you find yourself at a Penzey's store, or have a catalog, check it out!

1.  Combine all ingredients (including pork) into crock pot.  If the sauce does not completely cover the pork, add 1/2 cup water.

2.  Cook on low for approximately 7-9 hours or high for approximately 5-6 hours, or until pork is tender and starting to fall apart.  Using two forks, shred the pork into small pieces, removing any large pieces of fat.  (I usually do this about an hour before the pork is done, and then stir it well, and continue cooking for another hour).  Serve on your favorite rolls.  I used whole wheat this time.

You can freeze this recipe before it's cooked.  Combine all ingredients in freezer bag and freeze.  Thaw in fridge and then empty into crock pot when ready to cook.  Continue at step #2.  Or, you can also freeze it after it's cooked.  Just cool, place in freezer bag.  Thaw in fridge and reheat on stove top or in microwave.

This recipe is super easy, but if you do not want to even take the time with the Chipotle peppers or chopping onions, I have another recipe for pulled pork that is even easier!  Just season a pork tenderloin with Season All, place in crock pot.  Pour bottle of barbecue sauce over the top, and a can of Coke or Pepsi and cook on low for 7-9 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.  My husband loves that one and it is embarrassingly simple!

Cousin Erin's Buffalo Chicken Dip (This recipes makes a large batch of the dip.  The photo actually only shows half the recipe!)
2 blocks cream cheese, softened (you can use lite, but I don't recommend fat free)
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and pureed*
1 cup blue cheese dressing (use the good kind from the refrigerated section in the produce dept)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cups Franks hot sauce
*I put the chicken breasts in a stock pot and cover with water.  I boil them until cooked through, then set them on a plate until they are cooled down enough to handle.  I save the cooking water.  Then I cut the chicken into chunks and run through the food processor in several batches, added the cooking water as needed.  You can also just shred the chicken with two forks, but I think it comes out much better when you run it through the food processor!

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
2.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and stir to combine.  Spread dip into large casserole dish and bake for approximately 35-45 minutes, until cooked through and bubbling.  Serve with tortilla chips and celery sticks.  
I have not tried freezing this yet.  I have made it a couple days ahead though, and just waited to bake it until the day of, and that has worked out fine.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Individual Meatloaves with Tangy Sauce

One of the all-time favorite recipes at The Secret Chef was our Individual Meatloaves with Tangy Sauce.  I decided to make them the other night, only I baked them in muffin tins instead of forming them into little loaves.  They are awesome made with ground beef and pork sausage, but you can also make them with turkey.  I found bulk turkey breakfast sausage at Bolton Farm Market .  I always love their products, and I was inspired to make turkey meatloaves using their ground turkey and ground sausage. 

I also made some mashed potatoes, using a mixture of sweet potatoes and regular white potatoes.  It was the first time I mashed sweet potatoes, other than for baby food.  I guess I am late on that trend!  They were really delicious though!  My boys are having issues with cows milk, so I added goats milk and a tiny bit of grapeseed oil instead of butter.  I believe you could use any of your favorite mashed potato recipes though, and just substitute part or all of the white potatoes with sweet potatoes.  One thing I learned, is that next time I will cut the sweet potatoes into smaller chunks that the white potatoes, because they took a little longer to cook and made some small lumps.  Not a big deal for me though.

Individual Meatloaves with Tangy Sauce
Tangy Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. brown sugar

Meatloaf Ingredients:
3/4 cup crushed buttery crackers (like Ritz)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion (or substitute 1 tsp. onion powder)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 pound lean ground beef (90/10) or lean ground turkey
6 oz. regular flavor ground pork breakfast sausage (you can also substitute equivalent amount of ground turkey sausage, ground beef, ground turkey, ground pork, etc.) but the sausage gives it a nice flavor
2 slices bacon (optional- I did not use them for the ones I made in the muffin tins)

To make the tangy sauce:
Mix all sauce ingredients together in bowl.  Set aside (this goes on top of the meatloaves, not mixed in).

To make meatloaves:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a casserole or baking dish (or muffin tins) with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
2.  Add all meatloaf ingredients (except bacon) to a large bowl and mix together, using your hands or a large spoon.
3.  Shape meatloaf mixture into 4-6 mini sized loaves (or divide the meat loaf mixture evenly in the 12 spaces of a muffin tin).
4.  Top the meatloaves with the tangy sauce.
5.  Cut the bacon into 4-6 pieces, depending on how many small meatloaves you made, and place a piece of bacon on top of each loaf.  (I did not top the muffin tin meatloaves with bacon, because I felt the bacon would not have anywhere to drain off and it would just end up greasy).
6.  Bake, uncovered, for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, until cooked through.  (The muffin tin meatloaves should be done in 35-45 minutes).

You can make this dish ahead to freeze.  Tightly cover meatloaves after step #5, and freeze.  Thaw in the fridge and continue at step #6 to bake.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cold Weather = Pea Soup!

Look who is posting again and it's only the 15th of the month!  I've been making a few new things over the past two weeks.  One was a shot at my own version of healthy high-protein bars.  I even took beautiful pictures of all of the ingredients together, and tutorial shots as I was making them (because I love when I see that on other blogs), and I was so sure they were going to taste delicious.  They contained peanut butter, banana, and oatmeal (among other ingredients); I figured they HAD to taste yummy.  But they were an absolute FAIL.  They were so awful my husband who eats everything could not even eat more than one tiny piece.  They are still sitting in my fridge because I hate to throw them out.

Then I tried those cute scrambled egg muffins that I keep seeing online everywhere.  They were really just okay and my boys would not eat them, which was the main reason why I made them in the first place.  But they did look really cute!

So I decided to go back to basics and make something that I've been making ever since college... 

Pea Soup!  I guess you either love it or hate it, and I happen to fall into the former category.  It's just something I crave when the weather gets cold.  If you are feeling really decadent (which I was, but I had enough decadence over the holidays, and now I just need to cut down on that a bit!) add a little smoked Gouda cheese in at the end.  I know it sounds weird, but it's SO good!

Split Pea Soup
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
~3 cups dried green split peas*
4 cups low sodium chicken (or vegetable) stock
6 cups water
3 potatoes, diced
1/2 # carrots, diced
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
*I don't ever soak mine, but supposedly if you soak them overnight the cooking time is less.

1.  In large Dutch Oven or stock pot, over medium-high heat, saute olive oil, onion, and garlic until onion is translucent.
2.  Add bay leaves, split peas, stock, and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer.
3.  Add potatoes, carrots, black pepper, and salt.  You can adjust the amount of salt and pepper to taste.  If desired, add a little cumin (which I never do because I don't like it in my pea soup, but I know lots of people do!) or a little curry powder (which I DO sometimes add).  Simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until all vegetables are softened and peas have broken down.  Add a little water while the soup is cooking if it is getting too thick for your taste.
4.  As I said above, you can shred or cube some smoked Gouda cheese and add it at the end.  Start with a handful and stir it in until it melts.  Add more to taste.  You can also add leftover cubed ham.

This soup freezes well so I usually cool half and freeze it in a large Ziplock bag.  It will be thick when you reheat it (which I like) but if it is too thick, you can add a little water or stock to it as you reheat it.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kale Chips

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you enjoyed your holidays.  We had a nice Christmas and New Years with the boys.  They got a play kitchen from Grandma and Grandpa.  So far, though, there is about zero pretend cooking going on.  They use it as a jungle gym instead.  Sigh.  Maybe someday they will want to cook like their mamma!  And maybe by then I will be able to have kitchen chairs again (I had to move them out because the boys push them to climb to the counters, stove, etc.)

One of my New Years resolutions this year is to post more often in my blog, so hopefully you will be seeing more of me in 2012!  My other main resolution is to be more organized.  I feel like I am super organized in some areas, but very unorganized in others.  Mainly, I want to de-clutter and organize my house!  So if you have any tips or good blogs on that, toss them my way!

I did not make a specific resolution on dieting or eating, because realistically I would never keep it!  But after eating so many rich, delicious foods over the holidays, I do feel like I just need some simple, healthy foods for awhile.  I keep hearing about Kale Chips so I decided to give them a try this week.  I am absolutely a potato chip girl, and not a huge kale fan, so I was a little skeptical of Kale Chips.  I used this recipe with very little changes.  They came out good (not potato chip good, but still pretty good)!  They remind me of my brussel sprout recipe I posted here last March .  And my husband and I both agreed it made the kale taste more edible than any other recipe I have tried.

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
Olive Oil Spray (or olive oil in a Misto type sprayer)
Seasonings of your choice.  I used a Ranchers Steak Rub seasoning from my sister's Wildtree Store but you can use any seasonings you wish, i.e. sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, etc.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
2.  Rinse and dry kale (I used a salad spinner, but you can also blot it dry).  Cut the leafy parts from the stems, discarding tough stems, and tear leaves into bite-sized peices. 

3.  Arrange kale in single layer on baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with seasonings.  Toss lightly, and spray again with cooking spray and sprinkle with seasonings.
4.  Bake 10-15 minutes, or until crisp (I think it actually took 17 minutes in my oven).  Lightly toss a few times while baking.  Enjoy!

They look a little greasy in the photo above, but I promise they were not!  I served them with baked chicken tenders, using a healthy chicken nuggets recipe I adapted from  The only changes I made to the recipe, were that I used chicken tenders instead of cutting them into nuggets, and I did not have seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs, so I used regular seasoned bread crumbs and substituted half wheat germ.  They were not as good as my favorite Secret Chef breaded chicken, however, they have a fraction of the olive oil and parmesan cheese that my recipe has, so these fit the bill and were also pretty tasty!