Category Archives: Make Your Own Takeout

You Asked And You Shall Receive: Local Yocal White Peach And Honey Ice Cream

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who voted in my most recent poll.  I have a hope that I will be able to keep anyone awesome enough to read about my food adventures, interested and entertained for a very long time.  In order to do that, I like to get your input every once in awhile.  But honestly, I was pretty surprised by the results.  I thought breakfast would be the winner, being that I don’t have a single post dedicated to the most important meal of the day.  Much to my surprise, it came in dead last, by a lot.  Nevertheless, I was pretty delighted that I had to come up with a sweet treat.  It didn’t take long for me to decide to make ice cream.  I love ice cream, and would eat it every single day of summer if I could, and ever since getting an ice cream maker as a wedding gift, almost three years ago, I have truly enjoyed experimenting with homemade creations.  I’ve made vanilla, almond chocolate, strawberry, cookies and cream, sweet cream, lemon ginger, and even cranberry sorbet.  I love it…it’s just fun!  So, inspired by my poll and the memory of some unbelievably sweet and juicy local peaches I set out to reinvent a classic summertime favorite…peach ice cream.

Ingredients

White Peaches (yellow are fine, too but the flavor is slightly different)

Honey ( mine came from Long Branch, NJ)

Heavy Cream

Milk

Eggs (Vineland, NJ…yay for Jersey Fresh!)

Sugar

Process

First, I want to remind you that if you are using an electric ice cream maker, you need to freeze the bowl at least 24 hours in advance.  Now, of course you’ll want to peel your peaches (4-5 small to medium peaches).

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This can be a trying and wasteful task, but if you drop the peaches in boiling water for a couple of minutes the skin will come right off.  So, grab a pot fill it with hot water and bring it to a rolling boil.

005Gently drop each peach into the water and return to a boil.

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While the peaches boil, gather the rest of your ingredients.

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After about a minute or two (the skin will lose some of its vibrancy), drain the peaches into a colander.

010Run some cold water over the peaches to cool them off before you handle them.

012Then, with a pairing knife or just your hands (in the end, I ended up using my hands, it’s considerably easier), rub off the skin.

013Repeat the process until all of the peaches are skin-free.

014Next, cut the flesh off of each peach.  I did this by scoring a grid pattern into them with my knife.

015Then, scrape the segments back into the colander ( I recommend you place a couple paper towels under the bowl so the juices don’t run all over your counter).

017Pour the cut peaches into your blender.

019Pulse on high until the peaches are about the texture of a smoothie.

020Pour into a bowl and place in the refrigerator.  Now you are over the hump.  This may seem like a long process, but it really only takes minutes.  Next, you are going to make the ice cream base.  For this recipe, I used a sweet cream custard base, you could use vanilla, but I didn’t want it to overpower the main flavors of peach and honey.  Start by cracking two eggs into a bowl.

022With a whisk and some elbow grease, beat the eggs until they are frothy and lighter in color.

024Now whisk in a little less than half a cup of sugar.

026Next add a little less than half a cup of honey (you want about 3/4 cup of sweeteners total, but taste it and see how you like it).

028Whisk well to incorporate the honey.

029Add one and a half cups of heavy cream.

031Now, add one and a half cups of milk.

033Stir until everything is well blended and homogenous.  Assemble your ice cream maker, plug it in and add the base to the bowl.

035Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions, when the base is semi-frozen, add the pureed peaches to the bowl and continue to freeze for about five more minutes.

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Yours may be a little firmer than this, before putting it in the freezer depending on your ice cream maker.  Mine usually takes about 25-30 minutes to reach this texture at which point I cover it and pop it in the freezer for about an hour or two before serving.

040Please take a moment to relish in the sweet deliciousness of fresh summer peaches, local honey, and cream…ENJOY, with a cherry on top!

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Filed under Dessert, Make Your Own Takeout, Polls, Uncategorized

Fancy Schmancy Chicken Sammie

Okay, can you say inspiration?  I always seem to get food inspiration at the weirdest times, for instance, when I’m sick at home with the flu or even at 2a.m. when I can’t sleep a wink.  That being said, the idea for this sandwich came to me at the most obvious time possible, while grocery shopping at Costco.  I was perusing the imported cheese case, as I’m usually prone to do, when I found a very reasonably priced triple-creme French cheese by the name of le Delice de Bourgogne.  Between the cheese and a fresh loaf of rosemary olive oil bread, a plan formed and my excitement was honestly not to be contained.  All I needed was a few more ingredients, a killer sauce, and magic was around the corner.  I attended to the rest of my weekly errands with one goal in mind, and basically went on a food buying spree, grabbing anything and everything that peaked my curiosity.  I’m a total food geek and it was the most fun I’d had in a long time.  Plus, by the time I got home I knew exactly what I was making and even thought of a way to use a brand new gadget, courtesy of my brother.  This is one of those recipes that I’m going to have to insist that you try  because, yes, it’s really that good.

Ingredients

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Fresh Rosemary

Fresh Tarragon

Fresh Garlic

Maple Bacon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Butter

Flour

White Wine

Heavy Cream

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread (or any nice crusty bread)

le Delice de Bourgogne Cheese (or a nice triple-creme brie)

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Process

Yay!  Here’s the debut of my new gadget…a pilon, straight from Puerto Rico.  As I’ve mentioned before, my family is Puerto Rican and we really enjoy our heritage through food, so when my brother returned from a recent trip to the island with a handcrafted pilon, sort of a wooden mortar and pestle, I was thrilled.  My mom bought an almost identical one almost 10 years ago, and I’ve wanted my own for a long time.  Well, I’ve digressed much too far now, so first off, you should tear the leaves off of your tarragon and rosemary and remove the skin from the garlic.  Throw it all in your mortar and pestle with some salt and pepper.

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Now have some fun and crush it up as much as you can.  If you don’t have a mortar and pestle just coursely chop it all together.

004Set aside and begin prepping your chicken.  As usual, you want to clean off any excess fat and then you should split the breasts as demonstrated in my Cheesy Chicken Roll-Ups.

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Toss them all in a dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle on the herb and garlic mixture.

006Mix everything up and set aside to marinate well you work on the other components.  Now’s a good time to cook up your bacon.  In the past year, I’ve discovered that I really like to cook bacon in the toaster oven when I have the time.  The bacon doesn’t curl up and the scent doesn’t infiltrate your home so much.  So that’s what I did hear.  Depending on the thickness of the bacon, I usally cook it on 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, if the bacon is thinner, decrease the time.

008While the bacon cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and throw in your chicken.

012Sautee on both sides until nicely browned, add a couple tablespoons of butter, and sprinkle the whole thing with some flour.

014Toss everything around to work in the flour and allow it to cook out for a few minutes to lose the raw taste.  Once a bit of a roux has formed and cooked up, add a few ounces of a tasty white wine.

015Bring to boil and let the alcohol cook out.  This is important!  If you don’t give the alcohol a few minutes to cook out, the sauce will curdle in the next step.  Once it comes to a boil and simmers for a minute you can add in the cream.

017Stir to combine and allow to simmer so the sauce is thick enough to coat the chicken with a couple tablespoons leftover for drizzling.  While the sauce thickens, cut the bread into 2-3 inch wide pieces, spread each side with a healthy amount of the cheese, and layer bacon on both sides.

019Once the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is nice and thick, place one breast portion on the bread and drizzle with a little more sauce.

020To fancy it up a bit more, serve with a bistro salad of greens, dried fruit, and nuts and some roasted potatoes.  Now, please, please, please ENJOY the creamy, bacony goodness!

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Almost Blackened Chinese Chicken

This Make Your Own Takeout installment made a fantastically quick and easy Saturday night supper.  It involved absolutely no planning (with the exception of defrosting the chicken), and honestly came together as I went along.  After work last Saturday, I threw together the marinade, added the chicken, and went for a nice long bike ride with my hubby.  When we returned, of course we were ravenous, and I was so glad that all I had to do was sautee the chicken, and throw together some quick sides.  Dinner was on the table in less than 20 minutes, candlelight, music, and all.  Combined with some quick-cooking brown rice and stir-fried veggies, neither of us missed our local Chinese joint one bit.

Ingredients

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Garlic

Ginger Root

Soy Sauce

Hoisin Sauce

Paprika

Cayenne Pepper

Cinnamon

Lemon Juice

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Cooking Spray

Process

Start by trimming and cleaning up your chicken.  Then you can prepare the marinade.  I love to marinate anything in zip-top storage bags, it makes for easy clean up and all around marination, but of course, you can use any bowl or dish.  Peel and finely mince several cloves of garlic and a good knob of fresh ginger root (the Microplane is excellent for this), and add it to your marinating receptacle of choice.

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Now, add the soy sauce, hoisin, and some lemon juice (I’m not gonna lie, I usually use fresh, but I didn’t have any, and as I mentioned, this involved no planning, so I used bottled…frown on me if you like).  Then add several sprinkles of all of the seasonings.  I normally add a little more than I would use to season the meat, to the marinade (mental images help on this one).

030Now, woosh it all around to combine.

031Add the chicken, and give it another woosh.  Then set aside and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes (if you’re using the bag, make sure to seal it), mine was in for about an hour and a half.

032When you’re ready for dinner, lightly mist a skillet with cooking spray and allow to get very hot.  Add your chicken to the pan.

034Now, don’t mess with them!  You want to let them caramelize (that is, allow the sugars from the marinade to brown on the chicken).  When you’ve achieved a nice dark brown, almost burned looking crust, you can flip them over.  And just believe me, those dark bits are awesome!

035Don’t be scared!  Now allow the second side to get equally caramelized and the chicken to cook through.  If your chicken breasts are a little bit thicker, you may need to lower the fire so that they can cook through without the outside burning.

036Conserve your money, save your time, and ENJOY!

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Filed under Chicken, Ethnic, Make Your Own Takeout

Healthified: Pastelillos

A pastelillo is basically the Puerto Rican version of an empanada.  I grew up eating them and definitely consider them a comfort food.  One more plus…DH is practically a slave to them!  The only problem is, they basically consist of deep-fried pastry dough and greasy ground beef:  not exactly figure-friendly.  While I don’t want to completely sacrifice the essence of the dish, I want to be able to eat them more often, without the guilt.  So with this post…I’ve decided to officially launch a brand spankin’ new category:  “Healthified!”  Because yes, like so many people, after Christmas I vowed to do whatever I could to stay healthy and become more fit.  I’m not really the type to totally give up things that I love; I believe in enjoying life, and clearly, for me food is a big part of that.  To achieve my goals,  I’ve been altering some traditionally unhealthy meals to make them more suited to my efforts (and of course, bumping up my exercise routine!).  I’m not giving up cheese, or meat, or carbs, or really anything, I’m just modifying and moderating.  I hope you all enjoy my efforts and join me by making a change, so that you can be a better you, too.

Ingredients

Onions

Garlic

Bell Pepper

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Spanish Green Olives (Alcaparrado or Manzanilla)

Goya Adobo (con pimiento)

Goya Sazon (con culantro y achiote)

Bay Leaves (dry or fresh)

Tomato Sauce

Goya Discos Grande (freezer section, make sure to defrost ahead of time)

Ground Beef (as lean as you can afford)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Note:  I would normally use fresh cilantro, as well, but I didn’t have any, so I skipped it and the recipe still turned out delish.

Process

Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees.  Then heat a drizzle of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  While the pan heats up, finely chop all of your veggies.

001Then add the veggies to the pan, and season with salt and pepper.

004Saute until veggies soften and onions begin to go translucent.

008Add in the ground beef and allow the first side to brown up.

010When the bottom is nicely browned, turn and allow to cook through and mix with veggies.  Drain off any excess grease.

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Next, season to taste with the Adobo, Sazon, and more salt and pepper, if needed.  Then add tomato sauce (enough to really move everything around and coat the mixture), bay leaves, and olives.

012Stir well to incorporate and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

014Remove from heat, discard the bay leaves, and allow to cool for a few minutes.  While you wait, carefully separate your discs, lay the first one out and fill one half with a small amount of meat mixture.

017Fold over disc so that edges meet.

018Use a fork to seal and crimp edges.  Repeat this process until all of the discs are filled and sealed.

019Cover a cookie sheet with a silpat, parchment paper, or a light coating of cooking spray.  Then place each pastelillo on the cookie sheet and lightly mist with cooking spray.

021Bake 10-15 minutes until crust is bubbly and crisp.

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My baked, healthified version.

The original deep-fried version.

The original deep-fried version.

Allow to cool just a bit (they will be very, very hot right out of the oven) serve with a simply dressed salad, and ENJOY!

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Filed under Beef, Ethnic, Healthified, Make Your Own Takeout, Uncategorized

My Foodbuzz True Delights Contest Entry-Spicy Shrimp and Cashew Fried Rice

As a part of Foodbuzz’s partnership with Quaker, they developed a foodie recipe contest.  All entries had to feature at least one of the nine key ingredients in the new Quaker True Delights Granola Bars, of course, the predictable thing would be to submit a sweet rather than a savory recipe, but as anyone can tell from reading this blog, I don’t bake that much.  Not that I don’t like too, I just don’t like what happens when DH and I eat a dozen cookies, half a cake, and six brownies, a piece!  So, not too long ago, I made beef fried rice and on a whim, threw in a handful of cashews.  We totally adored it, and recalling that dish, I decided to develop a fried rice combo for the True Delights contest.  The addition of the cashews, some fresh scallions, and hoisin sauce, really jazzed up my basic fried rice and made it pretty contestworthy, if I  may say so myself.  By the way, the grand prize is a trip for two to Chicago for the Outstanding in the Field event!  So cool!  Hope you try out this recipe and wish me lots of luck!

Note:  Because it’s for a contest, this entry is not in my usual measurement-free format, but as usual feel free to change anything to your liking.

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Ingredients

18 Small Shrimp
1 1/2 cups cooked White Rice
1/2 cup Cashews
2 ribs of Celery
1 large Carrot
1/2 of a medium Onion
2 cloves of Garlic
1 bunch of sliced Scallions
2 tbsp. Fresh Ginger
1 cup Fresh or Frozen Peas
1 Egg
1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1/2 cup less 2 tbsp of Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Process

Heat olive oil in a skillet (remember it’s fried rice so don’t be too skimpy with this), you want your pan to get very hot. While it heats up, chop all your veggies, excluding the peas. I use a microplane for the garlic and the ginger, just because I prefer it very fine.

Once the pan is hot enough (the oil should shimmer when you swirl the pot), add your veggies and sautee until onions are translucent. I also season the veggies with salt and pepper (layering the flavor).

Once the veggies are nicely sauteed, add the shrimp to the pan and cook until just pink.

While the shrimp is cooking, you can roughly chop a couple tablespoons of the cashews, for garnish.

Then you should push all the veggies and shrimp aside and scramble the egg into the pan. You can either scramble the egg in a bowl and quickly stir it in or you can crack the egg into the pan and stir it in very quickly (I forgot to scramble it ahead thus, I discovered that the second option works just fine). Once the egg starts to cook, you can incorporate it into everything else.

Again, move everything over to one side and add the cashews, so they can toast up a bit. After about a minute, stir them into the rest of the mixture.

Then you can add the rice to the pan. You should be sure to crumble it up with your fingers instead of throwing in the whole block. Now’s the time to add in the ground ginger, pepper flakes, hoisin and soy sauce.

Stir everything together until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Add in the peas and continue cooking until the peas are just heated and tender.

Remove from heat and stir in scallions, less about two tablespoons.

Serve in warm bowls with a sprinkling of scallions and a few of the chopped cashews. Enjoy!

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Filed under Ethnic, Make Your Own Takeout, Seafood, Silly Stuff

Super Slammin’ Super Bowl Buffalo Wings

As in most of America’s households, Super Bowl Sunday is a special occasion in my home.  It’s a day full of food, booze, good company, and patriotism.  Of course, for a foodie like me, it’s just a great reason to cook tasty food for people I care about.  As retro as it might seem, I really enjoy serving up some tasty snacks to my husband while he indulges in hours of sofa dwelling and shame-free machismo.  I never let the day pass without frying up a batch of classic buffalo wings.  I’m a total purist when it comes to wings, and I’ve used the same recipe that my mom gave me, five years ago, every year since.  The only alteration that I’ve made over the years is to the brand of hot sauce.  My mom always used Frank’s Red Hot, but over the years, I’ve discovered that my absolute favorite sauce is Texas Pete’s.  It packs a lot of burn with equal amounts vinegary tang and peppery goodness.  Here’s my recipe for Classic Buffalo Wings and Blue Cheese Dip.

Ingredients

Blue Cheese

Lowfat Buttermilk

Reduced Fat Sour Cream

Light Mayo

Fresh Lemon Juice

Chicken Wings and Drumettes

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Canola Oil

Hot Sauce

Butter

Process

You want to start out by preparing your blue cheese sauce, so that it has a chance to sit, chill, and meld.  You can either purchase blue cheese crumbles or break up a block.  It’s cheaper in the block, so that’s what I usually do.

004Add mostly buttermilk and a couple tablespoons each of sour cream and mayo (adjust amounts to reach desired thickness).  Season with salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dash of hot sauce.

005Stir well to thoroughy incoporate all ingredients.  Transfer to a serving bowl and chill until ready to serve.

006For the wings, heat about 3-4 inches of canola oil in a deep pot, on high.  While the oil heats, season the wings with salt and pepper.

008When the oil is very hot (use the shimmer test, again), using tongs, carefully add enough of the wings to fill the pot and allow to cook until a deep, dark golden brown.  We like them extra crispy, so I usually let them fry until they are a rich honey color and the meat is beginning to pull away from the bone.

010Turn occasionally until desired color is reached, then remove, and allow to drain on paper towels.  Repeat this process until all of your wings are cooked.  While they are cooking, in a saucepan, melt equal parts butter and hot sauce and stir to combine.  Place the cooked wings in a large bowl and pour the heated sauce over them.  Toss well to thoroughly coat each wing.

012Serve on a large platter with some fresh celery and carrot sticks and your homemade dipping sauce.

013Now, grab and ice cold beer and ENJOY!

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Filed under Chicken, Make Your Own Takeout, Party Time

Just To Hold You Over: Buffalo Chicken Calzones

Okay, so I know the poll winner was supposed to be my next entry, but I won’t have time to go to the grocery store until the weekend.  So, just to hold you over until then, after getting some suggestions from my friends on the What’s Cooking board, I decided to make Buffalo Chicken Calzones for dinner tonight.  I’ve never made calzones before, but this morning, I took out a stray chicken breast to defrost and then remembered that I had a ball of frozen pizza dough in the freezer, and decided to try my hand at it.  My original plan was to do an alfredo type of filling, but I went with the buffalo chicken, because it seems a little more interesting.  I sort of made up the recipe as I went along, so this one definitely provides some insight into the culinary mind of me.  I used The Pioneer Woman’s basic method to whip up a quick homemade ranch dressing for dipping.  It was a perfect accompaniment.  I didn’t have any in the fridge but, I also think some finely chopped celery would be great in the filling, and of course, blue cheese dressing would be fantastic!  Here’s what i created:

Ingredients

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Hot Sauce (Texas Pete’s is my fave!)

Ricotto Cheese (Part-skim or whole is fine.)

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Butter

Parmesan Cheese

Paprika

All-Purpose Flour

Frozen Pizza Dough (Defrosted)

Egg Yolk

Frozen Peas (Because you always need something green :))

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Process

Start by pre-heating your oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees (you can use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a stone.  Then clean, trim, and chop your chicken breasts and heat a skillet over medium fire.

0012Sautee the chicken in a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to cook through and lightly brown.

0032While the chicken cooks, melt equal parts butter and hot sauce together.

0021Next prepare the cheese mixture.  Combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and paprika.

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Next, stir the cheese mixture into the melted butter and hot sauce.

0072Transfer the mixture to a bowl  and add the frozen peas and cooked chicken (If your pot is large enough, you don’t have to mess another bowl).  Combine well.

0103Add an egg yolk to the mixture (the number of yolks can be increased depending on how much filling you are making).  This will help bind the mixture, so it doesn’t run out everywhere when you cut into it.

0111Incorporate, well and set the mixture aside while you prepare the dough.  Flour a board and score the pizza dough to divide into the number of calzones you would like to make.  I divided mine into thirds so that I’d have one for lunch tomorrow.

0091Stretch or roll each portion of dough into as round a shape as you can manage.  Mine were more oval, but I’m just gonna call them rustic.

0122Spoon the filling onto half of the dough.  Be sure not to overfill or it will bubble out while baking (yes, this happened to one of mine).

0132Fold over th dough and pinch the edges together.

0142Once all of your calzones are formed, carefully remove the pizza stone from the oven and lightly mist with cooking spray.  Then arrange the calzones on the stone, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with some kosher salt.

0151Return stone to the oven and bake until crust is golden brown and crisp.

018ENJOY!

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