Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fresh Corn Tortilla Tacos

Last summer I bought a mexican cookbook at a garage sale for 50 cents. I was sold when I saw it could teach you how to make a griddle out of a 15-gallon oil drum... hahaha, not kidding!

Anyway, I pulled it out last night when we decided to have tacos for dinner. What resulted were fresh corn tortillas - really tasty - and with the help of the tortilla press Scott got me for Christmas, it didn't take long at all.

Click Here for Printable Version

2 Cups Corn Masa
½ teaspoon Salt
1 1/8 Cup Water

- Mix masa, salt, and water to create a smooth dough.
- Separate into 16 pieces and roll into balls.
- One at a time, place dough balls between two pieces of wax paper and flatten into a disk using a rolling pin or tortilla press.


- Heat ungreased griddle or fry pan over medium-high heat.
- Bake tortillas, turning frequently, until they look dry and lightly flecked with brown speck. 1½-2 minutes.
- Serve tortillas immediately while still warm.

Note: If not using immediately … cool, wrap, and store in the fridge/freezer. To serve, reheat on griddle or pan fry lightly.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Strawberry Shortcakes

The guys don't allow pre-packaged-spongy-yellow strawberry shortcakes in the house - it's gotta be "the way mom makes it", so here we go...

Click Here for Printable Version

1 Quart strawberries
½ Cup sugar

- Slice strawberries
- Add sugar and let sit while you prepare the biscuits (or refrigerate overnight)

2 1/3 cups Bisquick mix
½ cup milk
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
¼ teaspoon vanilla

- Heat oven to 425°F.
- Stir Bisquick mix, milk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla until soft dough forms. Divide into six portions on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Split warm shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Whole Wheat Baguettes

There's nothing like fresh crusty bread to go with dinner. I altered a recipe I found on AOL to make whole wheat baguettes. The nice thing about this recipe is you can take a few minutes in the morning to make and shape the dough, and then forget about it in the fridge until right before dinner. Just 20 minutes in the oven and its done! I'm sure you could use all all-purpose flour if you don't have whole wheat flour on hand.

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1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1 Cup whole wheat flour
2½­ to 3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp butter (cut into pieces)
1¾ Cups water
olive oil
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Optional Topping: sea salt, garlic salt, sesame seeds

- In a large bowl (or KitchenAid mixer) combine sugar, salt, yeast, whole wheat flour, and 1 cup of the all purpose flour.
- In a microwave safe bowl, heat 1¾ cup water and butter. Heat for 30 seconds.
- Gradually mix liquid into dry ingredients until just blended.
- Slowly beat in all purpose flour until you have a sticky dough (approx 1¾ cups)
- Turn dough onto well floured surface & knead until smooth/elastic ~ add flour as needed.

- Cut dough in half. Place dough balls into oiled bowls and cover lightly. Let rest for at least 20 minutes.
- On floured surface, roll each half into a 15 inch by 10 inch rectangle. Tightly roll dough into a log and pinch seam to seal. Place loaves, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet and taper the ends. Brush loaves with olive oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 425°. While the oven is heating, remove loaves from fridge, uncover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Cut 4 diagonal slashes on top of each loaf and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove loaves from oven and brush egg white on top of loaves and put back in over for 5 more minutes. (Optional Topping: Before baking, after you brush loaves with egg, sprinkle with garlic salt, sesame seeds, sea salt, etc, etc)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Roasted Garlic Chicken & Potatoes

For Christmas, my in-laws got me the neatest gift, a Garlic Roaster Express. You can roast up to three heads of garlic in about half the time of doing it in the oven ~ not to mention not having to heat the whole house to do it.

I decided to use it to make a take on NJ Mom's chicken and potatoes. In my version the potatoes were great, but I made the mistake of leaving pieces of roasted garlic on top of the chicken and after it baked they had a not so fantastic texture.

Next time I would use the marinade to just make a roasted garlic potato side dish for something else.

Click Here for Printable Version

2 Potatoes, thinly sliced
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 head roasted garlic
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper
lemon juice

Roast Garlic
If you don't have a nifty garlic roaster...
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Remove the outer papery covering of the garlic. Slice off the top of the head so most of the cloves are exposed. Place on a square of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Fold the foil over the head to completely enclose it.
- Roast for about 45 minutes, until the garlic is completely soft and lightly browned.
- Let cool and then pop out the softened cloves of garlic

Marinate Chicken
- Mash garlic with a fork and stir in olive oil, vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Marinate chicken breasts in garlic puree mixture.

- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a roasting pan, combine potatoes with the garlic puree that the chicken was marinating in; arrange chicken breast on top.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice.
- Bake 50 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and potatoes are tender.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Beautiful Turkey Stock

I was intrigued by a 2lb package of turkey necks at the local publix. Apparently some folks like to braise them like osso buco. I wasn't sure I could do that, but I thought they would be perfect for making turkey stock.

For those who might care... stocks get their body from the collagen holding the bones together. The collagen will melt and turn into gelatin if you slow simmer it. A good stock congeals with refrigeration (and I was thrilled to see that mine did)

Basic Steps:
Chop → Simmer → Skim → Strain → Chill

turkey necks
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks (including leafy tops), chopped
1 carrot, chopped
6 peppercorns
6 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
4 chicken boullion cubes
fresh parsley

- In large stockpot, brown turkey necks in olive oil. Remove and reserve.
- In same stockpot, soften onion, carrot, and celery. Add turkey necks and remaining ingredients.
- Simmer for a minimum of two hours.
- Strain through a fine-meshed strainer. Chill.
- Scrape chilled fat off the top of the stock and discard.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cinnamon-Apple Pancakes

Nothing too fancy, but super tasty. We added half of a peeled apple (grated) along with some cinnamon to packaged pancake mix...

Hungry Yet?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Beef Pot Pie Filling

We woke up to this this morning...

A day like this called for something warm and filling for dinner ~ preferably something that didn't require me going to the store. I decided to make what I can only describe as the filling for Beef Pot Pie. Craig had the great idea to serve it up with homemade buttermilk biscuits, so we quickly whipped up a batch.

The photo doesn't do it justice - sort of makes it look like dog food - but I assure you it was quite tasty!

Click Here for Printable Version

1 pound beef, ½-inch cubes
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 potatoes, skinned & diced
1 bay leaf
1-2 packs instant beef gravy
fresh parsley (optional)
salt & pepper

- Brown beef cubes. Add carrots, celery, onion, and cook until softened. Season with salt & pepper.
- Cover with water and bring to a boil
- Add bay leaf and potatoes, lower heat, and simmer until potatoes soften (or a few hours to keep the kitchen warm and smelling good!)
- Shortly before serving, add instant beef gravy packet and chopped fresh parsley (if desired), and cook until thickened.
- Season with salt & pepper to taste

Gravy Mountain

FIRST let me apologize for the blurry photo. Craig had a high school lunch flashback while making his giant open-faced sandwich with white bread, leftover roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and thick gravy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

False Advertising

Remember those commercials with the lonely Maytag Repairman? Well apparently that is a thing of the past.

Yep, you read right, that thermometer in our Maytag fridge is reading 70 degrees. Only one year and three months old and the fridge had a coronary. Hopefully the warranty will cover whatever is wrong with it, but we won't find out until the not-so-lonely repair man can get here tomorrow to look at it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Turnip Greens

After not being able to find escarole or broccoli rabe in the stores down here, I decided to give turnip greens a try. I was pleasantly suprised. I just cut off the bottoms of the stems, steamed them and then tossed with sauted garlic, olive oil, and hot seeds. If I didn't know better I would have thought I was eating broccoli rabe.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Banana Muffins

This recipe is based on Lisa Kreft’s “Banana Crumb Muffins” on allrecipes.com. We wanted them to be closer to banana bread, so we made several changes and additions.
Makes 12 Muffins.

Click Here for Printable Version

Muffin Batter:
1½ Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

3 bananas, mashed
¾ Cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 Cup butter, melted

½ Cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ tablespoon butter
finely chopped walnuts (optional)

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix together 1½ cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg, & melted butter.
- Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
- In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and nuts (if desired). Cut in 1-tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


NYE Potato Gnocchi

gnocchi test run

After reading through many gnocchi recipes, I created a simplified version which gave surprisingly good results.

Click Here for Printable Version


3 cups mashed potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon Romano cheese
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 beaten egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour

chopped herbs, optional

In a bowl combine the mashed potatoes, salt, garlic powder, cheese, and herbs (if desired). Stir until well combined.

Stir in the two beaten egg yolks.

On a board, place the two cups flour and add the potato mixture. Knead all together well until combined. Do not add more liquid; just keep kneading until you have smooth slightly sticky dough.

Cut a small piece of dough and roll out into a long rope (finger width?). Cut each rope into small pillows. You can leave them as is, or create the more traditional shape. To do this, roll each pieces along the prongs of a dinner fork using one finger, in a way that the side of the piece running along the fork will be ruffled and the side you are pressing with your finger will have an indent (I have not mastered this as you can see above). Place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze.

When frozen solid, place gnocchi into a zip-top bag and return to freezer for future use.

Jenn’s Tip: do not leave dough on the counter to finish later. Always fast freeze gnocchi after cutting. Sitting out can make the dough soft & gooey.

When ready to serve, bring large pot of salted water to a boil. When rapidly boiling, add frozen gnocchi, and stir so they don't stick to bottom. When all gnocchi float to the top let cook another two minutes, then drain and toss with favorite sauce.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Years Eve at the Sipala's

Some random pics from our NYE festivities

beginnings of the bar setup

homemade soft pretzels, spicy mustard, and soppresatta

arugula salad on a breadstick (everything's better on a stick!)

homemade potato gnocchi with alfredo

spicy homemade dumplings (getting ready to be steamed)

individual beef wellingtons with garlicky spinach and gorgonzola

molten coconut-brownie ramekins