Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Crepes -Strawberry Banana - International Taste Tour Crepes

Ok, the recipe is actually called Strawberry Banana Crepes, but a few days ago I noticed that all of the recipes that I've posted in September have started with a C, therefore, I decided to change the title a little in order to carry on with the "C" theme.

The project that I am undertaking for the International Taste Tour (formerly known as Coast to Coast Cooking) on BakeSpace, is making crepes. Unlike the last challenge I participated in, Saltimbocca,  I know what crepes are and have eaten them as well, but have never made them before. I have watched enough cooking shows to have seen them prepared so had a bit of an idea on what I was supposed to do......of course, watching and doing are two different things.

I checked out a few recipes and decided to "attempt" to make a dessert crepe.....I'm much better with desserts than actual cooking, so thought I would have a better chance of having them turn out edible. I looked around and found the recipe for these Strawberry Banana Crepes. Looked like something that, not only would I enjoy preparing, but also eating.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter
1 package cream cheese (8 ounce) softened
1 container frozen whipped topping (8 ounce) thawed
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
2 firm bananas, sliced
1/4 cup sugar (optional)

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, milk and eggs; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, melt 1 teaspoon butter. Stir batter; pour about 2 tablespoons into the center of skillet. Lift and tilt pan to evenly coat botom. Cook until top appears dry; turn and cook 15-20 seconds longer. Remove to a wire rack.

Repeat with remaining batter, add butter to a skillet as needed. When cool, stack crepes with waxed paper on paper towels in between.

In a mixing bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Spread 2 rounded tablespoonsfuls on each crepe; roll up. Combine topping ingredients; spoon over crepes.

I followed the above recipe for the most part...the only changes I made were:
non-fat milk in the crepe batter
sugar free Cool Whip
low fat cream cheese
I didn't use the sugar that is mentioned in the topping.....just placed the fruit on top of the crepes

The crepes were delicious....even with the lower calorie/fat ingredients that I used.

The dry ingredients: fllour, sugar, cinnamon, milk and eggs

Mixing the milk and eggs with the dry ingredients

The batter after it's hour long rest in the fridge.

The crepe before my attempt at turning it took me a few tries to figure out how much batter to put in the pan, at first I was using too little and then finally got the right amount.

This is the crepe after I turned it over....believe me doing this isn't as easy as the professionals on TV make it look. I think I lost four crepes before I got it right...see the little boo boos on this one? The others didn't even make it this far, before they tore apart. I did finally achieve success and managed to end up with four crepes.

The filling: cream cheese, Cool Whip and confectioners' sugar

These were delicious! Adding cinnamon to the crepe batter was a great addition...loved the flavor, and the filling light...not too heavy on the stomach.  Even with the lower fat and sugar free changes that I made these were great....I imagine the full fat and sugar version is even better. I am definitely making these the saying goes, "practice makes perfect."

Note: The filling makes and excellent fruit dip. I guess losing some of my crepes wasn't too bad....I had fruit and filling left over for dipping. I think I may even fill strawberries with this and then dip them in chocolate.....yum!

Click on the map below to view more crepes in the International Taste Tour

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Crab Cakes Revisited

As the title of this post says, this is crab cakes revisited. I made crab cakes, for the first time, about a month ago. I had never made them before so instead of making them from scratch, I chose to use a mix from Williams-Sonoma. Even though the mix was excellent, I still wanted to prepare crab cakes from scratch.....and I finally did.

I've searched for several months for a recipe that I wanted to try  finally coming across one in a cookbook that I recently ordered called,  The Best of The Best from the South East, it contains a collection of different recipes from that region.

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked clean of shell
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, chopped fine
2 dashes Tabasco
1 dash Worcestershire
1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs, plus more for coating
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
2 eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half

Combine all ingredients, except eggs and half-and-half. Form into desired cake size, about 4 ounces each. Make egg wash by combining eggs with half-and-half. Dip crab cakes into egg mixture, then roll into more bread crumbs. Saute' cakes in butter or olive oil until golden brown.

The ingredients. Here in SW Ohio, fresh crab is impossible to least I haven't been able to find it, even going to my favorite place, Jungle Jim's. For those of you who don't know yet, I am a huge fan of Jungle Jim's and when posting to The Breakfast Club forum, on BakeSpace, I talk about this store a you'll probably see me mention it frequently as well. Anyway, I am able to find some really nice canned crab at Jungle Jim's, so pick up a can whenever I'm there. The recipe calls for Tabasco, but I inadvertently used a bottle of Red Hot sauce instead....I'm not sure if there is a difference between the two or not, but it worked well in the recipe regardless. I also didn't have, and couldn't find, coarse bread crumbs so used whatever I could find at the grocery.

Jumbo lump crab.....not bad for canned.

Mixture of crab, mayonnaise, green onion, Tabasco (or in my case, Franks Red Hot Sauce), and Worcestershire. Then mix in bread crumbs.

Formed into cakes and ready for next step.

Coat in egg wash mixture

Dredge in bread crumbs

Ready to fry.

The recipe calls for frying in oil or butter, I like to use a little of both.

The finished product....yummy!

So my favorite taste tester, Michael, gave these crab cakes excellent reviews. He even said they tasted as good as any he ever had while in South Carolina....interesting comment especially considering that this recipe came from one of his favorite restaurants in Charleston, 82 Queen (minus the Red Pepper Sauce, which I plan to make later), I say that's pretty good review from a man who loves crab cakes as much as he does! Oh....this midwestern, meat and potatoes gal liked them too.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chicken Salad

I love chicken salad! I love it as a salad with grapes or apples, pecans or almonds, and love it as a favorite way to eat it. I make it using lefover chicken, I'll buy a rotisserie chicken in order to make it and I've even, in a pinch, use canned chicken, but my favorite way to make it is with grilled chicken breasts. I don't really have a recipe and the way I make it is very basic...nothing fancy. All you really need in order to make chicken salad is chicken and some type of dressing....the rest is up to you.


Chicken (I prefer skinless chicken breasts)
Mayonnaise (I use light mayo....never fat free)
Celery (adds a nice fresh crunch....I don't add it anymore because Michael doesn't like celery)
As I said my recipe is very basic.

I don't have any measurements here because I don't measure anything. Depending on how much chicken I have, I either use more or less of each ingredient. I add the mayo until it's to the consistancy I like....moist. I don't like it too dry and I don't like it runny, everything else I add to taste.

My grill...the Lean, Mean, Grilling Machine.  I actually have two...this is my small one. When I grill more than one thing, I use the larger....I was too lazy to drag it out so grilled the chicken one piece at a time on this one.  I don't have a gas grill because I prefer a charcoal grill....and yes, I do have a charcoal grill but it's in a box in my garage...haven't put it together yet. So, my trusty George Foreman gets used, almost daily. Can't beat it for speed....chicken is done in 8-9 minutes (depending on size and thickness) and fish is ready in approximately 3 minutes. It's great to use when I get home from work tired and hungry and want to eat almost immediately.

I season the chicken with the above mentioned poultry seasoning, then grill.

When it comes to chopping the chicken, I usually use a chefs knife and cutting board and chop it into bite size pieces (especially if making a salad) but lately I've started chopping it up in my food processor, using the pulse button. It just seems to work better as a sandwich that way and the seasonings get mixed into the chicken really well....I think it tastes better.

I'm wimpy when it comes to chopping onions so usually use my food processor....keeps the tears down to a minimum. I do a few pulses to get them diced up. If I'm at Michael's he chops the onions for me.(he doesn't like to see me can tell we aren't married)...being a bachelor, he doesn't have a food processor. It's the funniest sight I've ever is this big man using a little cutting board and small pairing knife. He cuts the onions a piece at time, with a  look of concentration on his face....he takes onion chopping seriously. I've tried to get him to use a chefs knife and large cutting board but he prefers to do it this way. Even though it takes forever, I'll continue to let him chop onions, at least I'm not doing it.

Sorry about that little back to business.

Once the chicken and onion is chopped, I combine the two.

Add mayo to desired I said before, I like mine moist...not too dry or too runny. Sometimes if I make chicken salad the night before I use it, I have to add a little more mayo.

That's it....can't get much easier than that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Carrot Orzo

I came across this recipe while searching for a Saltimbocca recipe. I thought it looked interesting and would make an excellent accompaniment for the Saltimbocca.

Once again, I have to apologize for the lack of pictures....I get so carried away with the cooking that I forget to photograph the different steps. I hope I get better at this soon...

6 ounces peeled baby carrots (about 1 1/4 cups -- from 16-ounce package)
2 tablespoons butter -- (1/4 stick)
1 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta -- about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 large garlic clove -- minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

The ingredients on the plate are, from top going clockwise: butter, green onion, fresh rosemary, minced garlic, parmesan cheese and orzo.

Place carrots in processor. Using on/off turns, finely chop carrots.

Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add orzo and carrots; sauté until orzo is golden, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups water, broth, and garlic; cook uncovered over medium heat until all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

Stir in cheese, green onions, and rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

I don't believe I've ever had orzo before and I know I've never used it in a recipe. It was very good...nice and creamy. A nice change of pace from rice and potatoes.

Chicken Saltimbocca with Lemon Sauce - Coast to Coast Cooking

This is my first time to participate in Coast to Coast Cooking on BakeSpace although, this the third time this has been done. I've enjoyed reading the previous threads on this topic and finally decided to throw caution to the wind and join in this time.

To begin with, I had no idea what Saltimbocca was, so I Googled it and found several recipes, some using veal, which I understand is the traditional way of making Saltimobocca, some using chicken and even several made with pork. I decided to prepare mine using was interesting to see how many varations there were....I'm sure that will be the case here once we've all prepared our dish. I was happy to see that most of the recipes for Saltimbocca looked fairly easy....a plus for me since, even though I like to cook,  my cooking skills are limited......I'm actually a better baker.

The most difficult time I had in purchasing the ingredients and making this dish was the wine....I don't know much about it (actually, I know very little) and have never developed a taste for it, even though I've tried many times. So, while in Kroger I went into their wine section.....they seem to have a fairly decent selection of wines (at least that's how it looks to someone with my limited knowledge)....must be because it's in a college town. I was looking for a dry white wine.....dry wine.....what does that can a liquid be dry? I don't know.....I'm confused already...not a good sign. Anyway, I read the label on almost every bottle of white wine until I found two or three that mentioned dry....whether these wines were good, I have no idea, but chose a bottle of, Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc, mostly because it was the least expensive (neither Michael nor I drink wine, and I didn't want waste the better part of a $20 or higher bottle).....the whole time praying that it was a wise choice.

Before I begin, I want to apologize for the lack of pictures....I get busy cooking and forget to take a photograph so I don't have an image of each step of the recipe. I guess if I do this enough, I'll get the hang of it......

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
8 large fresh sage leaves
8 thin prosciutto slices (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap on work surface. Using mallet, pound chicken to 1/3-inch thickness.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Place 2 sage leaves atop each chicken breast half.

Top each chicken breast with 2 prosciutto slices, pressing to adhere.
Spread 1/2 cup flour on plate. Turn chicken in flour to lightly coat both sides.
Melt butter with oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, prosciutto side down; cook 4 minutes.

Turn chicken over and cook just until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to platter and cover to keep warm; reserve skillet.

Whisk wine with remaining 2 teaspoons flour in small bowl. Add broth and lemon juice to same skillet; bring to boil.

Add wine mixture; whisk until sauce thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon sauce over chicken.

This was very good! I was afraid that the chicken might be too dry, but it wasn't and the sauce had a subtle tartness from the lemon.  I think the only thing that I would change in making this again would be that I wouldn't bother with the 2 T of wine when making the sauce....I'll use chicken broth in the future. Since we don't drink wine, we have almost a whole bottle of wine left over.

Michael, the take out king, was watching me (he also helped some - was a big help except for when tossing my wine/flour mixture down the sink just when I needed it.) and asked if making this meal was worth all the trouble. It really wasn't that difficult and the result was definitely worth it. I asked Michael what he thought of the dish, and he said it was good, but then he isn't a picky eater....I did notice that he went back for seconds. I guess actions do speak louder than words.

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