Sausage and Potato Quesadillas
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Sep 28, 2011 | 4729 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Sausage and Potato Quesadillas
Sausage and Potato Quesadillas
slideshow

Total prep time: about 15 minutes
Total cook time: 30 minutes

This is a great recipe from my “Food and Wine Quick from Scratch Recipes with Herbs and Spices” cookbook. It focuses on using the spice paprika. As a child, my only memory of paprika as a cooking ingredient was when my Mom would sprinkle it on top of the homemade potato salad to make it look pretty. Now, as an adult I’ve happily discovered many other delicious uses for this nifty little spice. I do love these food and wine quick from scratch cookbooks because they take basic, fresh ingredients and put them together to create a delicious meal. This recipe is unique because it pairs sausage and potatoes together in a quesadilla. When I first prepared this recipe, I was skeptical of how it would turn out, it sounded like a bizarre combination… It made sound weird, but it tastes incredible. The prep work can be a little labor intensive but it is all worth it in the end. These are delicious all by themselves or if you prefer, you can add some sour cream or salsa.

Here is what you will need:

1 pound of Italian sausage, casings removed (use the hot if you want yours to be spicy)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of cooking oil
1 large baking potato (about ½ pound), peeled and cut into ¼ inch cubes
¾ teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
12, 6 inch flour tortillas
¼ cup chopped red onion
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 cups Monterey Jack (or fiesta blend cheese), shredded/grated

The Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425. In a large, nonstick frying pan, cook the Italian sausage over medium high heat, making sure to break up the chunks as it cooks. Cook it for about 8-10 minutes or until it is browned. Remove it from the pan to a separate bowl and set it aside. Pour off the fat from the pan but don’t wash or wipe out the pan. You want the little brown sausage bits for your next step. Heat the 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the potato, ½ teaspoon of the paprika and the salt and cook, stirring occasionally until they are tender (about 15 minutes). They should be a nice reddish/brown color and a little crispy on the outside.

Put 4 of the tortillas on a cookie sheet (I have to use 2 cookie sheets because my pans are small). Divide half of the sausage, potato, onion, cilantro, and cheese on the four tortillas, making sure you spread the ingredients to the edges. Top each one with another tortilla. Then repeat with the remaining sausage, potato, onion, cilantro and cheese. Top with each one with one more tortilla. Brush the tops of the quesadillas with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and sprinkle them with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of paprika. Bake them in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and they are golden brown. Cut them into little wedges and enjoy!

Vegetarian Version: For our resident vegetarian, I used the imitation soy sausage (preparing the recipe exactly the same way) and she loved it.

Milk Allergy or Sensitivity: If you are sensitive or allergic to dairy, you can omit the cheese and it is still quite delicious. Our son is allergic to milk but he loves it when Mommy cooks the “triangles” (sans cheese).


Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Sep 23, 2011 | 2904 views |  0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
slideshow

Total Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 25-35 minutes total

This recipe is for cookie and chocolate lovers everywhere. Moist and delicious, chocolaty and chewy – they are absolutely delicious. They are fairly easy to make from scratch and usually make about 3 dozen or more cookies. I don’t have a lot to say about this recipe because they speak for themselves when you take the first bite.

Here is what you will need:
2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon of baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter, softened (I used unsalted, real butter)
¾ cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 12 oz package of white chocolate chips

The Instructions:
Preheat your oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and set it aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar and brown sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs in one at a time beating well after you add each one. Slowly add in the flour mixture until you have nice chocolate cookie dough. Stir in the white chocolate chips and drop by the rounded teaspoon onto an UNGREASED COOKIE SHEET.

You want to bake them for about 8-11 minutes depending on your oven. Make sure you trust your eyes and not the timer. You want them to look a little crispy AROUND THE EDGES. The middle may still look moist and you might think they are not ready to come out. Pull them out and let them sit on the cookie sheet for at least 20-30 minutes. They will continue cooking just enough on the hot pan and firm up nicely while retaining the moist goodness in the middle.     


Steak Pizzaiola with Couscous
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Sep 17, 2011 | 2909 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Steak Pizzaiola with Couscous
Steak Pizzaiola with Couscous
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Pizzaiola sauce simmering
Pizzaiola sauce simmering
slideshow

Total prep time: about 10 minutes
Total cook time: 15-20 minutes

This recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Food and Wine Quick from Scratch Recipes. The “Pizzaiola” part of the title refers to the ingredients being similar to what you would find on a pizza. I personally don’t think it tastes like pizza sauce; it reminds me more of a simple marinara.  The sauce is very simple and very easy to make. I love that it uses fresh ingredients – you can really taste it in the end result. You can pair this with pasta or even rice. We love to pair it with couscous because it only takes 5-8 minutes to cook and it absorbs the sauce perfectly. Top it all off with a piece of steak and it is a harmony of delicious Italian flavors. It is one of our favorite recipes – not only because it is tasty but also because you can make it from scratch in less than half an hour.

Here is what you will need:
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 5 plum tomatoes
3 sprigs of fresh oregano plus ½ teaspoon chopped fresh or ¾ teaspoon dried
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds steak (we’ve used sirloin, flank – whatever is on sale)

The Instructions:
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook it for about 45 seconds to 1 minute – make sure you don’t overcook it. You will want it to be white – once it turns yellow/brown it tastes completely different. Add the tomatoes, the oregano sprigs (or dried oregano) and ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer it with the lid partially on (to allow steam to escape without splattering tomato sauce all over your kitchen). Allow this to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring it a few times while the sauce thickens.

While the sauce is simmering, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season the steak with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Put it in the hot skillet and cook it for 6 minutes (do not turn it) and then turn it and cook it another 6 minutes for a medium to medium rare steak. If you have a thin steak, you will cook it less time for a more pink center and if you have a thick steak, you might need to cook it longer if you desire medium or medium well (a less pink center). After it is done, take it out and let it rest for about 5 minutes. This is a very important step for just about any piece of meat. It will retain a lot more of the juices and result in a more moist and delicious dish. After the steak has rested, cut it diagonally into thin slices.

After you first put the steak in the skillet – start the couscous. Just follow the instructions on the box. It will take a moment for the water to boil and it should finish about the same time as your steak.

To plate this yummy dish, put a nice helping of couscous in the bottom of a bowl then top it with a few slices of steak. Ladle a nice helping of sauce on top of that. If you want to make it look extra pretty, sprinkle it with the chopped, fresh oregano.

A note about the ingredients:
Couscous is actually a very tiny type of pasta. It is made of crushed and steamed semolina (the main ingredient in pasta). It is even smaller than rice and very common in North Africa. You can find it on the aisle with rice and “easy rice” bags. It comes in a small box and there are simple instructions on the back for cooking. A note about the oregano… try to use fresh oregano if you can, it really makes a difference in the end result.
 
Plum tomatoes – you can find these in the produce section and they are little oblong shaped tomatoes. They are perfect for making sauce. I don’t even peel mine, just cut the stem end off, wash them well and dice.

Razzmataz Bars
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Sep 05, 2011 | 2007 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Razzmataz Bars
Razzmataz Bars
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Razzmataz Bars fresh out of the oven
Razzmataz Bars fresh out of the oven
slideshow

Total Prep Time: 25 minutes total
Total Cook Time: About 45 minutes total

I have a weak spot for easy brownie recipes from scratch (as you can see from my blog post history). Raspberry is one of my favorite flavors when it comes to dessert. Cake with raspberry filling, raspberry sorbet, raspberry filled doughnut, you name it. So when I found this recipe on the Nestle website for brownies AND raspberries, I was so excited to try it. I’ve made them several times and they are so decadent. I modified it a little, the original recipe called for ¼ cup of toasted, sliced almonds sprinkled over the batter. I have found that when it comes to nuts in desserts you either love it or you don’t. To put simply – I don’t. If you are a nut person, then feel free to add those back to your concoction and enjoy. The recipe also calls for almond extract and that delivers a powerful flavor punch that ties the white chocolate in perfectly with the raspberry. This recipe is a little more time consuming than most brownie/bar recipes but it is well worth it in the end.

Here is what you will need:
1 stick of butter
2 cups of white chocolate chips
2 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup seedless raspberry jam


The Instructions:
First, preheat your oven to 350 and grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

Heat the butter in a medium bowl in the microwave for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the white chocolate chips but do NOT stir it – I slosh the bowl around a little to make sure all of the morsels have come in contact with the butter.

In a large bowl, beat both eggs until they are foamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 5 minutes – you want a nice, lemon colored batter. Stir in your butter-chocolate mixture and mix until blended. Then using your mixer, add the flour, salt and almond extract. Mix it on low speed until it is thoroughly combined. Take 2/3 of your batter and spread it into your prepared pan.

Bake it for 12-15 minutes OR until it is light, golden brown around the edges. Remove it from the oven (leave your oven at 350). Heat the raspberry jam in the microwave for 30 seconds. Spread it over the warm crust. Take the last cup of white chocolate chips and stir into the remaining 1/3 of batter. Drop spoonfuls of the batter over the jam. Don’t worry about covering all of the jam, it will spread and do that on its own. If you desire almonds, this is where you would sprinkle ¼ cup of toasted almonds on top.

Bake it for 20-25 minutes OR until the edges and top are golden brown. Do not overcook! Cool it completely in the pan for at least an hour before you cut them.

Thai Chicken with Cilantro Sauce and Jasmine Rice
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Sep 04, 2011 | 3062 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Thai Chicken with Cilantro Sauce and Jasmine Rice
Thai Chicken with Cilantro Sauce and Jasmine Rice
slideshow

Total prep time: About 25 minutes
Total cook time: 10 minutes

My family absolutely loves Thai food. Two of my college roommates were Thai and both of their parents immigrated to the United States from Thailand at the age of 18. Their Mom taught them how to cook and needless to say I loved when they cooked a big “home cooked” meal. Our apartment gave off the aroma of a little Mom and Pop Thai restaurant for days. This recipe has an Asian flare without getting too exotic with spices and ingredients. I love this recipe because I can do most of the preparation ahead of time and all I need is about 10 minutes to cook the chicken (I put my rice on ahead of time). There is a dipping sauce that goes with the chicken. When I first made it I almost didn’t make the sauce and it would have been a huge mistake. The sauce ties it all together and makes it absolutely perfect. It calls for 2 jalapeños but surprisingly enough, the chicken doesn’t retain a lot of that heat after it is cooked – it just gives it a yummy flavor.

Here is what you will need:
2 jalapeño peppers (remove the seeds and white parts, this is the main heat source of hot peppers)
2 cloves of garlic smashed
½ cup packed cilantro (I use stems and leaves all together)
2 tablespoons of Asian fish sauce (often called nam pla or nuoc mam)
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
¼ teaspoon salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Dipping sauce:
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (leaves only here)
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ tablespoons water

The Instructions:
In a food processor or blender (a mini chopper is plenty big), puree the jalapenos, 2 smashed garlic cloves, the ½ cup of cilantro, fish sauce, olive or cooking oil, sesame oil, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Put the chicken in a shallow, glass dish and spread the cilantro marinade all over the chicken. I like to make this in advance and just put it in the fridge until I’m ready to cook it.  When you’re ready to cook it, grill the chicken until it is just done, about 10 minutes. The George Foreman grill works well, it cooks quickly and you get the pretty grill marks without firing up the actual grill.

For the dipping sauce, add the rice wine vinegar, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of salt to a small stainless steel sauce pan. Bring it to a simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. In a small glass bowl, add the minced garlic, tablespoon of chopped cilantro leaves, red pepper flakes and water. Pour the vinegar mixture on top and your sauce is now complete. This can also be made in advance.

As I mentioned before I love to serve this with jasmine rice. Put a nice large helping of rice in a bowl and lay your chicken breast on top. Serve the sauce alongside the dish to dip the chicken in. It is also tasty with a crusty bread and salad.

A note about the ingredients:
Jasmine or Basmati Rice can be found in the Asian food section (not with the rice) at Wal-Mart and most grocery stores. The Asian fish sauce, Asian Sesame oil, and Rice Wine Vinegar can all be found on the Aisan food aisle in the grocery store. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am a big proponent of fresh garlic. Don’t be afraid to use fresh garlic – you can really taste the difference! Look in the onion section at your grocery store and you will find heads of garlic sold loosely like onions. A nice head of garlic will be firm to the touch and not have any brown or mushy spots. I’ve used white and light purple garlic but the taste is really the same. Under the skin you will see little sections – those are cloves. A quick way to prepare garlic: separate however many cloves you need (leave the little skins around the cloves). Using a sharp knife, carefully slice off the stem end. Put the garlic on your cutting board and lay the flat end of your knife on top. Using the heel of your hand, give it a good smack. This will loosen the skins away from your clove of garlic and you can separate it out much easier than painstakingly peeling each clove by hand. As an added bonus, it is already a little smashed and ready for mincing.

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