Goat cheese with olives, lemon zest and thyme

Goat cheese with olives, lemon zest and thymeHave you ever learned a new recipe and you like it so very much that you will find every excuse to repeat it over and over again? Meanwhile your family is getting real tired of it, yet you keep on doing it. Well this is it.

This recipe was actually one I decided to test mostly because goat cheese is not my favorite (unless mixed in salad or disguised some other way). Lo and behold… I got hooked, right from the very first bite and could not stope eating it. And since my lack of choice with crackers, the rice ones actually are perfect for such delicacy.

 

Portuguese Meat Croquettes

Portuguese meat croquetsSo you’ve just finished dinner and have some steak leftover, or that huge amount of turkey after the holidays, well… you get the idea. Re-use it! Freeze the leftover meats until you have enough. And make sure to keep all of its juices, gravy or whatever else that was with the meat.

Once you have enough different types of leftover meats, you can finally put them to good use by making these croquettes. As you will see the measurements were from the meats I had in the freezer. The main idea to to create a similar ratio of beef/poultry/pork.

And a big thank you to my Dancer who decorated the plates so beautifully!

INGREDIENTS

3 cups of ground presunto / prosciutto or some type of salt cured meat
4 cups beef leftovers
5 cups of smoked turkey leftovers
4 cups of chicken leftovers
6 cups of pork leftovers
2 large onions
8 cloves garlic
For the Béchamel
2 bars of salted butter
4 cups of all-purpose gluten-free flour
10 cups of milk
For frying
3 to 5 eggs
fine gluten-free breadcrumbs
oil to fry

DIRECTIONS

  1. Thaw all of the meats them grind them.
  2. Make the Béchamel sauce by first melting the butter in a large pot, then adding the flour and mixing well until attaining a smooth paste. Add the milk a cup at the time so to blend it all nicely, and stir constantly until you create a nice smooth cream.
  3. Add the meats and adjust with seasonings to taste.
  4. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove it from heat, let it cool then place it in the fridge overnight.
  6. Next day in the first bowl beat the eggs, in the second add the breadcrumbs.
  7. Create “tubes” with the meat paste, then pass them through eggs then the breadcrumbs and place them neatly in a tray to freeze them for an hour or so.
  8. Once frozen, you can immediately fry them, or put them in freezer bags to be fried at a later date.

Mac & Cheese #1

Mac & cheeseBack home in Europe we do not eat mac & cheese. I was first introduced to it from the box and I must say it was never up there in my list of yummy food. It tasted plasticky and not much flavor. Since, and thanks to becoming a recipe tester for Leite’s Culinaria, I was introduced to what REAL mac & cheese is about. I still had a few boxes at home, mostly for the kids, but from the moment I tried what Mac & Cheese is to taste like, I filled a bag with those boxes along with other canned and boxed items and brought it to the local food pantry (I know… if I would not eat it why bring it to the food pantry? well unfortunately they cannot accept home made goods, if not, trust me… I would be there EVERYDAY sharing our cookings with them!)

So here is one of the recipes I tried and since have made it many times. This is an awesome and easy recipe to make for a weeknight. Everyone absolutely loved it and the best part is that you can use this as a base then add whatever pleases your heart.

But no worries, this is not the only one. Hence the reason I call it #1 as there will be more!

Bacon Jam from Leite’s Culinaria

Bacon JamI made this recipe yesterday to find out how it would come out by cooking it in the crockpot. I used a 16oz. crockpot. I must say… it was torture to deal with the smell coming out from the kitchen while we were waiting for it to be made!

As you can see this recipe is extremely easy to make and follow. Much as suggested, I believe to just go ahead and double the recipe right away as you will not be disappointed, and well you can give some as gifts and will forever have a troupe of friends drooling over this jam!

To eat this jam for the first time I decided to make crepes and add a thin layer of the jam, them fold them into triangles and coat them with powdered sugar. Smart move if I may say myself. Even Izzy, the dog loved it as Princess would drop a few pieces onto the floor. I tell you though, three crepes with the jam and you will be filled for quite a few hours!

Crepes with Bacon Jam
Prince eating crepes with bacon jam

Thai Hot and Sour Soup

Thai Hot & Sour SoupWe all love Thai food. Last year we hosted a Thai student, therefore I ventured into cooking more Thai at home.

This was a recipe I tried from Leite’s Culinaria site. Everyone absolutely loved it, though I decided to remove some of its broth aside and add the spiciness onto it, then only my husband, the Thai student and I added it back to the soup. This way the soup for the dancer and the princess was not as spicy. The Thai student felt it was not as authentic as back home,yet she still loved it and made her miss home a little less.

Lettuce Soup

Lettuce SoupThis is one of my GrandMother’s favorite soups. So simple yet the taste is amazing and very delicate and just as good hot as cold for a warm summer day. If we ever have leftovers, the Dancer will go to the fridge first thing in the morning, grab  and drink it cold for breakfast!

INGREDIENTS

1 large iceberg lettuce head or 2 small ones (if you are to use other ones adjust their taste with a little extra sugar)
1 medium onion
2 tbsp of butter
1.5 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you are vegetarian)
1 cup of milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp of heavy cream OR Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1tsp of sugar
salt , pepper
1 cup of croutons (if desired)
a small bunch of parsley to decorate (if desired)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill a medium pan with water and salt, and bring it to a boil.
  2. Wash the lettuce leaves, slice them up into strips and put them for about 5 minutes in the boiling water.
  3. Remove them from the water and pass them through cold water.
  4. Mince the onions.
  5. In a medium size pan melt the butter add the onions and stir until they are translucent.
  6. Add 3/4 of the lettuce strips and add the stock and let it simmer in medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  7. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and the sugar.
  8. Stir for about 2 to 3 minutes then remove from heat.
  9. Put it in a blender to create a nice smooth cream.
  10. Add the milk then bring it back to a low boil for about 5 minutes.
  11. In a bowl beat the egg yolks and heavy cream, then slowly add a few spoons of the soup while mixing well.
  12. Add the whole thing to the soup and stir continuously until the the soup thickness up.
  13. Prior to serving add the leftover lettuce strips.
SUGGESTIONS
You can also add a few croutons, parsley leaves and a touch of heavy cream prior to serving.

Homemade snicker bars

Snickers barsA while back i decided to try this recipe and oh man, am i glad I did… Everyone absolutely loved it and it is a perfect thing to bring to a potluck or your kids’ teachers. They will love you forever–unless they are dieting of course and then they may not be very happy with you. Also this is such an easy recipe that get your kids involved in making them with you. Just the idea of actually making homemade snicker bars will get them in the kitchen real fast. Sure this is far from healthy, but we need to indulge from time to time right?

Lemon chutney and paste for grilling

Lemon Chutney

My Mother taught me this absolutely amazing lemon chutney. She learned it from a Mozambican man while living in South Africa. It is extremely easy to make but usually requires hot sun. Yet living in a cold area such as Wisconsin I figured out how to make it on the stove top.

This chutney is awesome to eat it alone with a nice juicy grilled steak or creating a paste, then basting whatever food you will be grilling or broiling! And no worries it certainly is not as crazy spicy as you may think, when looking at those chili peppers, just cut them small and enjoy.

Oh, and another thing. If you are going to do it in the sun, therefore outdoors, PLEASE keep an eye for chipmunks! Believe it or not they love this chutney! Not sure it is good for them, but I ended up to throw away two jars as they opened the cheese cloth and enjoyed its contents!

Now I have no exact measurements for this recipe, so bear with me.

INGREDIENTS

Dry red hot chili peppers

Lemons cut in quarters (you can also use limes)

Coarse sea salt

empty 8-ounce glass jar with cover

cheese cloth

kitchen twine

DIRECTIONS IF COOKING IN THE HOT SUN

  1. In an empty 8-ounce glass jar create layers with each of the ingredients. 
  2. I usually start with lemon quarters, nicely snug, then cover it with a thin layer of salt, then about 20 chili peppers and so on.
  3. Make sure to always pack it well, so there is no space whatsoever.
  4. Once all the layers have reached the top, fill it with as much lemon juice as you can. Using a thin stick, such as a barbecue skewer, move things a bit around so to avoid air bubbles.
  5. Prior to covering the jar with cheese cloth and kitchen twine, make sure to fill to the brim with lemon juice not to dry up.
  6. Fold a cheese cloth two or three times to create a square, then place it over the top of the jar. Tie the twine tightly around the cheesecloth.
  7. Place it outside somewhere you know will always be under the sun, or at least have a good 6 hours of direct sun per day.
  8. Every two days, remove the cheese cloth, add more juice and keep an eye on air bubbles. Recover with the same or different cheese cloth and tighten it again with the kitchen twine.
  9. This process should take about 28 days to cook if you live in a really hot area. You will notice the ingredients starting to blend together and the lemon darkening.
  10. Once ready, bring it back inside and use the jar’s original cover. As long as there is a bit of lemon juice on the top, you do not have to refrigerate it.

DIRECTIONS IF COOKING OVER THE STOVETOP

  1. In a medium size sauce pan, create layers as described above, all the way to the top.
  2. Bring it to a low boil, then reduce the heat to gently simmer, covered for about 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Check it from time to time and stir as much as you would like. Make sure to add lemon juice if it becomes dry.
  4. The end result should look darker in color and sort of mushy.
  5. Once cooled off pour it in a glass jar, check for air bubbles and add more lemon juice.
  6. Cover it with its original cover.

CREATE A PASTE FOR GRILLING

Chopped up lemon chutney

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of lemon chutney

10 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of minced garlic

DIRECTIONS

  1. Soften the butter and place it in a medium size bowl.
  2. Chop the chutney finely and add it to the butter.
  3. Add minced garlic to the butter and mix it all well.
  4. As you are grilling your meat or seafood, continuously keep on basting with this paste.

Lemon chutney paste for grilling

Fried Smelts

Fried SmeltsEver had these little things? I love love them and so does everyone at home. They are real cheap, usually you can find them frozen at supermarkets, fish monger or at Asian markets. I usually buy the whole fish, so head included. I scares people at first to see those tiny eyes, but they are so very fried that you barely notice them anyways.

What do they taste like? Well crunchy fried fish! They are a perfect snack and the best part is that you can do them ahead of time as they are awesome to eat cold. So once your guests arrive the house no longer smells of fried food!

INGREDIENTS

A bunch of smelts (with or without heads!)

Salt

All purpose flour (I used rice flour which is nice and thin, this way it still sticks well to the fish, but is not packed with flour)

DIRECTIONS

Princess eating smelts

  1. Run then smelts through water, then place them in a bowl with cold water and some salt for about 1 hour.
  2. Remove the water and dry them nicely.
  3. Heat your deep fryer to 375 degrees or if making on top of the stove, fill a pan with oil and bring it to the same temperature.
  4. Place the smelts in a colander then sprinkle the flour all over them in such a way they are all nicely covered but without clunks of flour.
  5. Start frying them in small batches so they do not touch each other for about 5 minutes, or until nice and golden.
  6. Place them over some paper towel, or even better re-use those brown paper bags from grocery stores.
  7. Place them on a plate and start enjoyed them!

Fried Smelts

Oxtail machaca with poached egg

Oxtail Machaca

Final plate

The other day I bought some oxtail as it was on sale. Is it just me, or has oxtail tripled its price in recent years?

Usually I make oxtails with lentils or beans. but was not quite in the mood for a cold night’s dinner. So thanks to a Facebook group I belong to, I decided to make something I had never made before.  As I had never made Machaca, I started to google and read all types of recipes so to inspire me. As usual, I had to give my own twist to the traditional recipe.

I started by seasoning the oxtails with salt and cracked pepper. then I browned the oxtails in hot olive oil. Once all sides were nice and golden, I added water to cover them up, and let it simmer for about 3 to 4 hours until the meat came out of the bones very easily. Then I removed the oxtail out of the pot, preserving its broth (not quite sure yet what I will use this for, one thing is for sure, it won’t go to waste).

cooked oxtail

Princess stealing cooked oxtail

As it was cooling off I wondered if I would have enough meat as my toddler kept on “stealing” some every 5 seconds. Thankfully I was able to convince her instead to try to remove all the leftover meat from the bones and clean them well. But here are of the the ingredients and exact directions I followed. Again this is not the traditional Machaca.

INGREDIENTS

About 20 to 25 pieces of oxtail
3 tbsp of olive oil
water
1 finely chopped medium size yellow onion
1 diced green pepper
3 diced tomatos
1 jalapeño pepper finely cut
6 eggs
1 bunch of cilantro
2 cups of the oxtail broth
shredded cheese
salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place all of the oxtail inside a large bowl and season it well with salt and freshly cracked pepper.
  2. Bring a large pot, or dutch oven to high heat with 1tbsp of olive oil.
  3. Sautée all sides of the oxtail until nice and brown.
  4. Fill the pot with water so that it fully covers all of the oxtail and bring the heat to a low simmer and leave it for about 3 to 4 hours (if you need to step away for a while or if you started preparing it prior to leaving to work, an idea is to place oxtail and water into a crockpot in low, for the day and your meat will be ready when you get home).
  5. Once the meat is falling off the bones, remove it from the broth to cool down prior to shredding it.
  6. In a large skillet, warm up the rest of the olive oil and sautée the onions, green peppers and jalapeño (you can omit the jalapeños and create a side sauce with it by simmering a cup of the oxtail broth with the cut up jalapeño, then each person can add however much spicy heat to their own plates).
  7. Once golden in color, add the shredded oxtail meat followed by the diced tomatos and half the cilantro leaves.
  8. Bring heat to a simmer and add 2 cups of the oxtail broth, then crack the eggs so to poach them over the meat mixture. Cover the skillet. Check if eggs are cooked after 3 minutes.
  9. Serve over some white rice (or in tortillas) making sure each plate has one egg and decorate it with the remainder cilantro and shredded cheese.

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