Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mark your calendars for this coming Friday night, August 6th.

 From Farm.....

                                                               To Fork.

          A Taste of Local Foods

An Agricultural expo, highlighting local foods provided by local farmers and industries.
Come sample the local fare to see what's grown in Lincoln County.

Cooking Demos
Activities for children and adults
Samples of various local foods

Friday, August 6th
James Warren Citizen Center
Lincolnton, NC

For more info call the Cooperative Extension  704-736-8452

Stuffed Veggies

2 Bell Peppers
2 Zucchini
2 Yellow Squash
1/2 Cup uncooked rice
1 lb sausage  (I HIGHLY recommended getting the Italian sausage from Grateful Growers Farm.)
3/4 to 1 cup tomato sauce (my recipe is here.)
1/2 cup shredded cheese
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Brown the sausage and drain any grease. Set to the side
3. Cook the rice according to package directions.
4. Wash and dry your veggies.  Cut the tops off of the peppers and discard along with the seeds and membrane. Cut your squash and zucchini in half lengthwise.  To keep your veggies from rolling around when you put them in the pan slice just a little bit off of the pepper with a knife and use a vegetable peeler to remove one strip of skin from the uncut side of the zucchini and squash. 
5. Place the zucchini and squash only in a 9x13 baking dish and put in to the preheated oven for 10 minutes. 
6. In a large bowl combine the cooked rice, cooked sausage, and tomato sauce and stir.
7. When the 10 minutes are up remove the zucchini and squash and use a spoon to hollow out the halves.   Season the hollowed out halves with salt and pepper.
8.  Spoon the rice, sausage, and tomato sauce mixture in to all of the vegetables.
9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
10. Remove from oven, sprinkle with shredded cheese and return to oven until the cheese is melted.  Approximately 5 minutes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Grilled Pizza

I've joined a group on Facebook called Mario's Weekend Cooking Challenge.  Mario is the host of Living Today which is a radio show on the Martha Stewart Channel on Sirius/XM.  Once a month he enlists the help of a chef to provide a recipe and everyone in the group makes it on the weekend following it being posted.  The chef is available to answer questions on the designated Saturday that we cook and everyone is on Facebook posting pics and questions and chatting.  So far I have participated in two of the Cooking Challenges.  My sister, Erin, and I did my first one together.  It was a Mexican Chocolate cake.  Boy was it good, but look just awful when we tried to get it out of the bundt pan.  It was salvaged though.  We turned it into individual trifles with whip cream and raspberries. Nom!!  (See bottom for a pic of the trifle.)

So last weekend the challenge was grilled pizza.  I had never grilled pizza, nor had I ever made my own dough.  I was kinda scared of doing both.  Who wants to go to all the trouble, not have it turn out right and then just have to order out?  Not me!  So when I started, I had a back up plan.  (Granted... it was called Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza dough. But whatever.)  It made me feel better. 

Normally the cooking challenge takes place on Saturday.  But my Saturday was already full, so I opted to do it on Sunday.  My husband and so weren't at home, so I got started on making the dough.  Less than 5 minutes in I had a HUGE mess.  My mistake was not mixing the stuff together in a bowl.  That had been my original plan but something (the devil on my shoulder?) told me that I should do it on my cutting board and just make a deep well in the flour mixture and add the water and yeast to that.  I'm sure it works for most, but not for me.  A wall of flour collapsed and water and flour went everywhere.  After cleaning up I decided to look in my pantry for some pizza yeast I remembered buying sometime back.  After locating it I was back in business.  Only this time I didn't have to wait for the dough to rise.  The Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast website has a recipe for pizza dough that is perfect for grilling and it's super easy to make.  You don't have to wait for it to rise.  You can find the recipe here.  I added fresh chopped rosemary from my herb garden before mixing and that really made the pizza.

My toppings when grilling were Fontina cheese, my own homemade sauce, cherry tomatoes, basil and olive oil.  This was the best pizza I've ever put in my mouth.  And who knew it was so easy?    And although I wasn't able to follow the original recipe, I was able to save dinner and find a faster method that I will be sure to use again. 

P.S.  The Pillsbury dough is still in my fridge waiting to be used.  :-)

Here is my homemade sauce recipe.  As you will notice, I don't use onions or garlic.  As I've been told, it's a sin that I don't like them.  But I don't, so I don't use them.  But if you do, then add them.  I would chop the onions and cook them down in a little olive oil and add the garlic to that.  When the onions are soft, add the ingredients below

Mandi's Homemade Sauce

4-5 lbs Tomatoes
Salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Agave nectar

Peel and seed the tomatoes.  The easiest way i know is to boil water in a pot.  Cut an "X" thru the skin of the tomato on the bottom.  Drop it in the pot of boiling water for a few seconds and then remove to a paper towel to dry and cool.  When they are cool enough to handle the skin will slip right off. 
Next, cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove all the seeds.  When all the seeds are removed, chop the tomatoes and add to a pot and cook them down on medium heat.  The salt, balsamic vinegar and agave nectar are going to be added to your taste.  It's going to depend on your tomatoes.  I'd start with the measurements above and taste it. 

The sauce is great on pasta, in stuffed peppers or zucchini and on pizza.  If you are going to use it on pizza, you will want to cook it down a little further than if you were just going to use it on pasta so it will be thicker.

Mexican Chocolate Cake as a Trifle

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Red, White and Blue (Cheese) Potato Salad

Yesterday I needed a quick side dish for supper. As with everything now days, I am waiting till the last possible minute or running out of time, so quick is the story of my life. I had some small red and white potatoes just begging to be turned into potato salad. Since today is the 4th, I was feeling a very festive and decided to run with the red and white theme. One problem, I didn't have any blue potatoes (yes, there are blue potatoes) and I didn't think blueberries would be appropriate (or taste very good). That left me with one option. BLUE CHEESE. Granted... it's not really blue either. It's white with green mold and really doesn't look very appetizing. I've never been a big fan of blue cheese, but I thought i would give it another try. I'm sure glad I did. The resulting potato salad was amazing, if I do say so myself.

Red, White and Blue (Cheese) Potato Salad

2 lbs Red and white potatoes
1/2 tsp Ground Mustard
1 hard boiled egg
Blue Cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup Mayonnaise (Duke's is the only kind for me, but if you are an odd bird you can use whatever you like)

Make sure your potatoes are the same size and cut them if they aren't. Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until done. I also boiled my egg with the potatoes. When the potatoes are done drain them and add back to the pot. Peel and chop your egg and add it back to the pot along with the mayo, ground mustard, salt and pepper. The amount of mayo you add will be to your own judgement. I didn't really measure this. Add a little, see how it looks, taste it and then add more if needed. Mix together and then add crumbled blue cheese and mix again. Serve warm.

Happy 4th of July!!