Sunday, October 24, 2010

What the heck is stoup?

That is the question my husband asked when I said I was making stoup for dinner. Stoup is a word coined by Rachel Ray which is thicker than soup and thinner than stew. This stoup called for broccoli rabe, not one of my favorite veggies. My husband on the other hand loves it and of course he loves sausage. To my surprise, the finished product is delicious and has made it into our regular dinner rotation.

Sausage-and-Broccoli Rabe Stoup courtesy of Everday with Rachel Ray April 2010

Serves 4

Salt & Pepper
1 large head broccoli rabe, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/8 tsp nutmeg
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
28 oz. diced tomatoes, with juices (I used fresh)
15 oz. canned Cannellini beans, rinsed
1.5 cups wagon wheel pasta
grated pecorino-romano cheese

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt, add broccoli rabe and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and cool.
In a soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, crumbling with spoon. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and two cups of water; cover and bring to boil. Stir in Cannellini beans and cooked broccoli rabe and return to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is done. Top with cheese and serve.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Product review: Nature's Pride Premium Harvest Buns

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program I received three packages of the Nature's Pride Premium Harvest Hamburger Buns and Deli Rolls. These included the 100% Whole Wheat Bakery Buns that I used to make the Jerk Chicken Sandwich pictured above. I enjoyed all three rolls I sampled but the 100% Whole Wheat were the best. These buns are 100% natural. They are firm and did not get soggy when I added the chicken and condiments. They are also more filling than the normal packaged bun.

For an easy weeknight dinner I marinated chicken breasts in a bottled jerk marinade sauce and then grilled them. I topped each piece with a slice of jack cheese and melted it. To assemble the sandwich I spread the bottom bun lightly with mayo, added a tomato slice, the chicken breast and topped it with lettuce and the top of the bun.

Belated Anniversary Cake

The end of September was the 1 year anniversary of Big Head and the Kitchen. Unfortunately, my computer died out on me and I could not even post! I got a new laptop and was able to save the pictures of the recent food I made so here is my anniversary cake.

This cake is a simple teabread that you can use any kind of berry you like in. I had received currants and gooseberries in my CSA box so that is what I choose to use. Gooseberries and currants are both tart in taste so the sweet crumb topping really balanced them out. I hope you enjoy!

Adapted from 500 Fabulous Cakes and Bakes

Makes 8 pieces

4 Tbsp butter at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg at room temperature

1/2 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup fresh berries of your choice

For the topping

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

4 Tbsp butter cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch baking dish. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat to combine, then mix in the milk until well blended. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and stir in enough to blend ingredients. Add the berries and stir. Transfer to the baking dish.

For the topping, place the sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter into a mixing bowl. Cut in with a fork until the mixtures resembles coarse bread crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the mixture in the baking dish. Bake until skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grilled Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork Kabobs

If you read my blog you have probably been wondering where I have been, or at least what have I been cooking? Beside my normal Monday through Friday work routine I have spent my summer laying by the pool, going to the beach and cooking the simplest dinners possible!

This kabob recipe comes from Coastal Living magazine. Not the first place one would think of to find great recipes but in every issue there is a full menu for a beach inspired meal. These kabobs are a great way to use some of the fresh peppers and onions I have been getting from my CSA and grill a simple yet fulfilling meal.

Recipe courtesy of Coastal Living Magazine

Serves 6

18 wooden skewers (soaked in water for at least 30 minutes)
1 large can pineapple chunks in juice, drained
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Sake (rice wine)
1.5 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 lbs. pork loin, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1.5 inch pieces (I used Poblanos for some spice)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
1 red onion, cut into 1.5 inch pieces

Sweet and Sour Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup pineapple puree
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

Place 1 cup of the pineapple chunks in a blender with 1 tablespoon water and puree. Combine 3 tablespoons pineapple puree with soy sauce and next four kabob ingredients in a large bowl. (Save remaining puree for Sweet and Sour Sauce.) Add pork and marinade for 1 hour.

Prepare Sweet and Sour Sauce by stirring together first five ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Combine cornstarch and 1 tablespoon warm water; whisk into ketchup mixture. Bring to a boil; boil 1 minute.

Remove meat from marinade, discarding marinade. Thread pork onto skewers, alternating with peppers, onion and remaining pineapple.

Grill kabobs on greased grill rack over medium heat for 5 minutes. Brush kabobs with Sweet and Sour Sauce, and grill 5 minutes or until done. Plate over brown rice and serve remaining sauce on side.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad With Goat Cheese & Avocado

This year I decided to become a member of a local CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture in which members support a local farm by purchasing a share of the season's crop. Each week you go pick up your box that is loaded with freshly harvested fruits and vegetables. One of the reasons I decided to try it out is that I spend half my grocery budget on fresh fruits and vegetables so why not give that money to a local farmer in these tough economic times? Living in the "Garden State" I know that once summer hit I would be stopping at the farm stand at least once a week anyway.

The first month of our CSA has been spent experimenting with a lot of new vegetables that I have never ate, much less prepared before. Beets showed up right away and I was stumped. My only experience with beets is as a child eating pickled beets at Easter or at a salad bar. As an adult even the smell of them turned me off. I knew there had to be a more appealing way to prepare them. I came across this recipe from Giada and was so excited to try it. Not only could I use the beets from my CSA but also the fresh arugula and other lettuces I received. I made a few adjustments and this salad turned out amazing. Beets are no longer the enemy!

Adapted from Giada's Family Dinners by Giada De Laurentiis

Serves 2 meal size salads

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1 tbsp honey
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 medium beets, peeled and each cut into 6 wedges
4 cups arugula and other lettuces, torn
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
4 oz, goat cheese, coarsely crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk vinegar, shallots and honey to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In another medium bowl, toss the beets with enough dressing to coat. Place them in a foil packet, seal tightly and place on a baking sheet. Roast beets 30 minutes. Uncover and continue roasting until slightly caramelized, shaking them up occasionally, another 25 minutes. Set aside and cool completely.

In a large bowl, toss arugula and other lettuces, hazelnuts and cranberries with the remaining vinaigrette to coat. Mound the salad on plates, arrange beets around the salad. Sprinkle the avocado and goat cheese on top and serve.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Frozen Strawberry Fluffy Stuff

June is when fresh locally grown strawberries are available in New Jersey. This Spring has been exceptionally warm for us and this frozen dessert is the perfect way to cool down. I made this for Mother's Day and everyone really enjoyed it.

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen's Chocolate Celebration magazine

Makes 1 (10-inch) cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tbsp butter, melted
1 (10 oz.) package frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp Frangelico liqueur
Fresh strawberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine flour, hazelnuts, brown sugar and cocoa. Add butter, stir to combine. Spoon mixture into ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool.

In a large bowl combine strawberries, cream, and sugar. Beat a medium-high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir in liqueur.

Sprinkle 2/3 of flour mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 10-inch spring form pan. Spoon strawberry mixture over flour mixture. Sprinkle evenly with remaining flour mixture. Cover and freeze over night. Slice and garnish with fresh strawberries to serve.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pineapple Jerk Chicken and Rice

Besides the turquoise waters, white sand beaches and friendly locals one of the best things about Jamaica is their famous jerk seasoning. Jerk seasoning is a combination that includes super spicy scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, cinnamon and garlic as well as other herbs and spices. We were married in Negril, Jamaica in 2008 and look forward to returning every year and sampling the best local foods including jerk pork and chicken dishes. When I saw this recipe I could not wait to make it for us.

Fresh pineapple was not in season when I made this recipe so I used chunks canned in juice instead which worked perfectly. You can also adjust how spicy you like it by leaving the seeds in the jalapeno. I opted for extra spicy!

Adapted from Everyday With Rachel Ray magazine April 2010 issue

Serves 4

2 cups brown rice
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 large can Dole pineapple chunks in juice, drained
1/2 cup Lawry's island jerk marinade
1 15oz can black beans rinsed
1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

In a large pot brown rice over medium-high heat in a small amount of oil. Add 2 cups low sodium chicken broth, stir and return to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 45 minutes. Do not lift the lid!

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook until onion is browned, transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and cook until browned, 5-7 minutes. Add the pineapple and jerk marinade and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the onion mixture, black beans and cilantro; cook until the beans are heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice.