Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Southern Barbecue Chicken

This is finger licking good stuff!  The sauce is the key to this dish.  It is a perfect balance of flavors.  You could use boneless chicken thighs or some pork loin, shred the meat at the end and make sandwiches out of it.  Or you can eat it like we did, on top of rice.  However you want to enjoy it, go ahead and make it.  You'll LOVE it!  Enjoy!
-1 (36 oz) bottle ketchup
-6 Tbs brown sugar
-2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
-2 Tbs soy sauce
-2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-3 garlic cloves, crushed
-6 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray (up the sides too).
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the chicken.  Mix well.  Pour a little on the bottom of slow cooker and spread (to cover all the bottom).  Layer the chicken on top of top.  Pour remaining sauce on top of chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 4-4.5 hours.
Serve on top of cooked rice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sarmale (Romanian Stuffed Cabbage or Grape Leaves Rolls)

This dish takes a lot of time preparing it.  The results are absolutely amazing and well worth the work!  I usually make it at Christmas time.  It can be done with either cabbage or grape leaves.  I prefer the cabbage because cost wise is way more inexpensive than the grape leaves (unless you own a  vine and you can pick up the leaves for free ).  This dish can be done either in the crock pot (which I prefer) or over the stove.  If you do it over the stove, you have to cook the rolls at a low temperature, shaking the pot every 30 minutes or so, to prevent the rolls from sticking to the bottom.  Most Romanians eat this dish with a side of plain cornmeal mush and a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt on top.  Enjoy!
-1 lb ground beef
-1 lb ground pork
-½ cup uncooked white rice
-1 onion, chopped
-salt and pepper to taste (about 1 Tbs each)
-grape leaves-I usually buy two of the tall narrow jars or 3 heads of cabbage
-4 Tbs tomato paste, divided
-2 quarts (8 cups) sauerkraut juice or 1-2 cups lemon juice, if using cabbage leaves
-2 cups chopped cabbage, if using cabbage leaves 
Fill a large bowl with boiled water and soak the grape leaves/cabbage in it until ready to use.  Soak the rice in water, also until ready to use.
In small  saute pan pour 1 tsp oil and cook the chopped onion until translucent.  Set it aside and let it cool
In a large bowl mix the ground meat, cooled onion, drained rice, and salt & pepper. Mix VERY well.
Prepare the pot (whether regular or crock pot) you're going to use to cook the sarmale.  Pour 1 tsp oil on the bottom.  Then mix two Tbs tomato paste with 1/2 a cup water.  Pour it over the oil and try to mix it a little bit, but not too much.  If using the cabbage, pour 1 cup of the chopped cabbage on top of the oil mixture.
Drain the water from the grape leaves/cabbage.  Take one leaf (either grape or cabbage), cut the stem (the hard part), fill it with about 1 Tbs meat mixture, and wrap the leaf around the meat (just as you would wrap a spring roll).  Put the roll in the prepared pot and form circles with the rolls.  Repeat with the rest of the leaves and meat. 
When done, make again the tomato paste mix and pour it over the sarmale.  If using grape leaves, fill the pot with water, so that the sarmale are covered.  If using cabbage, fill a quarter of the pot with warm water.  Pour the sauerkraut or lemon juice on top, so that the liquid covers all the sarmale.  Turn on the stove to low-medium heat and cook for 5-6 hours, until the meat is cooked through and the leaves are nice and soft enough to cut them with a fork.  Remember to shake the pot every 30 minutes or so, so that they don't stick to the bottom.  If using the crock pot, set it on low and cook for 8-9 hours.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Easy Rich Chocolatey Brownies

Oh, what a treat this is!  I know that I have a ton of brownie recipes on this blog, but every single one makes such unique and delicious brownies!  This is an easy recipe, fairly quick to put together, which results in these amazing rich brownies.  Pure delight!  Enjoy!
-3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
-1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
-5 large eggs
-2 cups sugar
-1 Tbs vanilla extract
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 1/2 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 9x13 inch pan with baking spray.  Set aside.
Melt chocolate chips and butter.  Remove from heat and let it cool for a little.
Meanwhile, cream eggs and sugar.  Add vanilla.  Add the chocolate mixture.  Stir in the baking powder and the flour, half of cup at a time.  Mix very well.
Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely before cutting.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dill Pickle Soup

Now before you discount this, let me tell you that you're in for quite a treat.  This soup is food for the soul!  For real!  The taste is absolutely amazing and not pickley like you would think.  Enjoy!
-2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
-5 1/2 cups chicken broth
-2 large carrots, peeled and diced
-1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
-3 large dill pickles, finely diced
-1 cup flour
-1 cup sour cream
-1 cup water
-2 cups pickle juice
-1 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp cayenne
Place diced potatoes, broth, carrots and butter in large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Add the pickles and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the flour, sour cream and water until nice and smooth.  If needed, add some broth from the soup.  Pour mixture into pot and give it a good stir.  Add the pickle juice, seasoning, pepper and cayenne.  Simmer for 5 more minutes.
Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Blue Cheese and Pine Nut Puffs

Warning: these are seriously addictive!  You can't stop eating them!  If you like blue cheese, you are in for quite a treat.  The toasted pine nuts give these little gems quite a distinct flavor.  These are a wonderful appetizer or simply a snack.  Enjoy!
-1 cup water
-1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1 cup flour
-4 large eggs
-5 oz crumbled gorgonzola cheese
-5 oz crumbled blue cheese
-4 oz shredded apple smoked gruyere cheese
-1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, thyme and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a ball forms.  Remove from heat.  Transfer to a bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Using the same wooden spoon, stir for a few seconds.  Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Add the cheeses and pine nuts.  Mix very well.
Transfer dough to pastry bag.  Pipe onto prepared sheets.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and firm.
Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!


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