Friday, March 25, 2011

Irish Sausage with Sauteed Cabbage

I made these sausages during my week-long St Patrick's Day celebration but didn't have time to get this post up until now. My daughters started spring break last Friday, March 18th so we headed for the Florida Keys for a mini vacation. The views in every direction were fabulous. We stayed 3 nights but we should have stayed longer. We had just gotten into true relaxation mode and then it was time to drive home.

Once home there were things to do, not the least of which is entertaining two 9 year olds who are off from school. We checked out Disney's Animal Kingdom on Wednesday and have been working on crafts for some upcoming events. They have a Harry Potter camp weekend coming up with the Girl Scouts and we made wands for a wanding ceremony. I will have to post pictures of those because they came out pretty cool and also show how the rest of my time is spent.

I do love experimenting with all kinds of different sausages. Here is the Irish version:

Homemade Irish Sausage
3 lbs fatty pork, cubed
3 slices white bread, cubed
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp nutmeg 2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 cup Guinness Stout

Combine all the ingredients except stout in a large bowl and mix well. Put through the small disk of a meat grinder. Once all the meat has been ground stir in the stout. Mix well. Stuff the sausage into casings. Twist it into 3-4 inch links.

Place the links in one layer on a platter and prick each in several places with a toothpick. Put in the refrigerator for 24 hours, turning after 12. Now you are ready to cook it or freeze it. I cooked half and froze the other half.

Cooking the Sausage: To cook the sausage place it in a skillet with one cup of chicken stock and bring it to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. The stock will reduce down to a couple of tablespoons. Lightly oil the grill racks and heat the grill. Grill the sausage over medium heat, turning and basting with the reduced stock until nice and brown.

Serve with the cabbage:

Cabbage Sauteed with Onions and Bacon
1 small head cabbage, shredded
1 medium onion cut into thin slices
3-4 slices bacon, diced
1/4 cup chicken stock salt and pepper to taste

Saute the bacon until it is rendered and just starting to crisp. Add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes until wilted. Add the cabbage and continue to cook, stirring frequently 3-4 minutes. Add the stock and salt and pepper. Cook another 3-4 minutes until the stock is absorbed and the cabbage is tender. Serve with the sausage.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kraft Philadelphia Cooking Creme

I recently got chosen to host a house party featuring Kraft Philadelphia Cooking Creme, a new product they recently introduced in markets. To get me started they sent me a box that had this very cool Green Pan which I cannot wait to try out! They also sent along wooden spoons, note pads, recipe booklets and coupons to hand out to my guests.

I am so glad I got chosen. Once again I am finding I do not entertain as much as I would like to and this was just the thing to get some friends together for a causal evening with the kids and enjoy each others company. The adults had a great time visiting and all the kids (ranging in age from 1 1/2 to 12) had a blast running and playing. As for the food and the new product - it was a hit.

There are four flavors - original, savory garlic, santa fe blend and Italian cheese and herb. I chose one recipe for each flavor from the recipe booklet they sent. The kids were hungry and in my haste to get them started I forgot to take pictures of each dish! We did get a photo of the dishes lined up after we had started serving them. Here is what we had:

Ultimate Creamy Beef Stroganoff, featuring the original flavor

Ok, let me just say they I accidentally picked up two garlic flavor cartons and no original so I made it with the garlic one. It was very good anyway and nobody knew there was anything wrong!

1 lb beef sirloin steak cut into strips
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbs butter
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tub Philadelphia Original Cooking Creme
1/3 cup beef broth
2 cups hot cooked noodles (ok, I deviated again and did not serve the noodles. This was the dish I picked for my low carbers)
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Cook the meat and onions in a large non stick skillet on medium heat 5 - 6 minutes or until meat is done. Remove from skillet. Cover to keep warm. Add butter to the skillet. Cook until melted. Add mushrooms and pepper and cook 5 - 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

Add cooking creme and stir 2 minutes. Return meat mixture to skillet. Stir in broth. Cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
Serve over noodles and sprinkle with parsley.

Baked Penne, featuring Italian cheese and herb flavor

This was the kids favorite and many of the adults favorite too. The recipe in the booklet calls for 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef. I used 1 pound ground turkey but followed the recipe otherwise.

1/2 pound extra-lean ground beef
1/2 cup each chopped onions and green peppers
1 jar (24 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 tub Philadelphia Italian Cheese and Herbs Cooking Creme, divided
1 cup Kraft Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
3 cups cooked penne pasta

Heat oven to 350.
Brown meat with vegetables in a large nonstick skillet. Drain and return to skillet. Stir in spaghetti sauce, 3/4 cup cooking creme and 1/2 mozzarella. Cook and stir 2-3 minutes until mozzarella is melted.
Spoon into a 2 quart casserole. Top with the remaining cooking creme and mozzarella. Bake 20 minutes until heated through.

Santa Fe Chicken Casserole, featuring Santa Fe blend flavor

Here I mostly followed the recipe in the booklet but I bought 9 inch tortillas which fit perfectly in my quiche an instead of 6 inch ones they called for. I also used 4 instead of 3, choosing to start and end with a tortilla instead of just starting with the chicken mixture on the bottom. This was my favorite but then I love tex mex.

3 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
2 green onions, sliced
1 tub Philadelphia Santa Fe Blend Cooking Creme, divided
4 four tortillas (pick a size that fits perfectly in a casserole you have)
1 cup Kraft Mexican Style Shredded Cheese, divided

Heat Oven to 375.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add 3/4 cup cooking creme. Mix well.
Place 1 tortilla in the bottom of a round casserole. Spread with 1/3 of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the cheese. Top with a tortilla. Repeat layers, ending with a tortilla. Spread remaining cooking creme over the top tortilla and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve.

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, featuring savory garlic flavor

This was the other favorite of the evening. I made this as printed and did not deviate.

1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
1 pkg (14 oz) frozen broccoli florets, thawed and drained
1 1/2 cups Kraft Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 tub Philadelphia Savory Garlic Cooking Creme
1/2 cup milk
24 Ritz Crackers, crushed
1 tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400
Combine first 5 ingredients in a 13 X 9 inch casserole. Cover and bake 25 minutes.
Meanwhile combine the cracker crumbs and melted butter. After 25 minutes stir chicken mixture, top with crumbs and return to oven uncovered. Bake 10 minutes or until topping it light golden brown.

I do have to say that this party got me off my Irish fest for a day but I plan to be back on track tomorrow!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Irish Apple Cake

This evening my husband and I ate out with our friends April and Wes. We went to a Korean restaurant and it was quite good. The only problem I often have with eating out is that I make many of the things myself at home. April and Craig both ordered the beef bulgogi. I think mine is just as good. We had the pork and vegetable dumplings for an appetizer. Of course mine are just as good (if not better!). My husband says I am missing the point of eating out which is to let someone else do the cooking and to just relax. I like to cook. Cooking is relaxing. The one thing the Korean restaurants do very well which I do not do at home is the kimchis. Kimchis are pickles and they put out a whole selection of them to go with your meal. I love them. I think I will put those on my to do list along with inviting April and Wes over for my bulgogi one evening. I will then post the recipe with pictures here. In the meantime, I am still celebrating St Patrick's Day so here is my offering of the day. It is Irish Apple Cake and it turned out scrumptious!

Irish Apple Cake

2 tbs raisins
2 tbs whiskey
4 tbs room temperature butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg at room temperature
1 large apple, diced (I used a red delicious because that is what was in the 'fridge and it was about 1 1/2 cup diced. If yours are smaller then use 2.)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp plus 1 tsp ground cinnamon divided
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix the raisins and the whiskey together in a small dish. Microwave for about 20 seconds and set them aside.

Grease an 8 inch spring form pan. Sprinkle in the 1 tsp cinnamon and lightly coat the inside of the pan.

Cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and then the egg until well blended.

Mix the raisins with the whiskey with the diced apples and add them to the butter mixture. Mix well. Add the walnuts.

Sift the flour and remaining ingredients together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. The batter will be thick. Spread in the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Let cool completely and remove from pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stout Braised Lamb Shanks

I love lamb. My family - not so much. If it were up to me I would cook lamb a lot more often but I have to suffice with ordering it when I eat out - The Outback Rack is a favorite - and cooking it as often as I can get away with it at home. Since my first goal is to cook to please those around me this is not very often. Well tonight, in honor of St Patrick's Day, I put lamb on the menu and braised it in stout. To further complicate things for the kids I put rutabagas in the stew. Hmmm, this was not going over well. But I loved it. The leftovers are going to be fabulous! The lamb was perfectly cooked and falling right off the bone. So, if you like lamb, here is what I made tonight:

Stout Braised Lamb Shanks
4 lamb shanks
2 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp each salt, pepper and paprika
1/2 cup each diced onion and celery
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 12 oz bottle stout (I used Guinness)
1 generous sprig fresh rosemary
2 tsp beef base or bouillon
1 tsp herbs De Provence
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 small new potatoes, halved

I used my Schlemmer-topf to cook my braise in, so to start out I set it in the sink to soak.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Combine the flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a bag. Add the lamb shanks and shake to coat well. Put the lamb in the skillet and brown well on all sides. Remove the lamb to the schlemmer-topf. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan and cook until just tender, 3-4 minutes. Add to the lamb. Add 1/2 cup of the stout to the skillet along with the beef base and deglaze the pan and dissolve the base. Pour this over the lamb along with the remaining bottle of stout. Add the herbs.

Cover the casserole and place in a cold oven. Set the oven to 425 and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and add the remaining vegetables. Cover and return to the oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings in the sauce. Serve in shallow bowls.

Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Next week is St Patrick's Day. Of course, this makes me think of all things Irish. I have never been to Ireland but it always sounds like such a magical place. They have fairies there. They have mist rising off the moors. Indeed it is referred to as the Emerald Isle. It also sounds like it could be kind of chilly there. But then you hear about the food and you warm right up. Tea and scones, corned beef and cabbage, whiskey, stews, oatmeal, stout, shepherds pie... and the list goes on. So, today is March 9. The countdown has begun. I want to try it all!

I started tonight. I made a batch of simple scones. They came out just the way I wanted them too. Tender and not too sweet. The perfect pairing for some wild blueberry jam I had in the fridge. Things get a little more complicated over the next couple of days recipe-wise, culminating in the corned beef and cabbage feast on the 17th. I know that one night I plan to get a stout cake in and definitely some Irish coffee so stay tuned!

Many recipes for scones call for self rising flour and buttermilk. I usually have neither of these items on hand and tonight when I decided to embark on my Irish cooking journey was no exception. I made due with what I had and things came out quite admirably.

Simple Scones
2 tbs milk
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
4 tbs butter at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 egg
1 whipping cream or milk
1 tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix the 2 tbs milk and vinegar together and set aside. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together. Cut in the butter until it resembles course crumbs. Cut in the sugar. Beat together the egg and the milk mixture. Add to the flour mixture and mix until it starts coming together. Pour onto a cutting board and form a ball. Roll out to about 3/4 inch. Use a cookie cutter to cut into scones and place on a baking sheet. You should have 10 - 12 scones. Brush each with some cream and sprinkle with the sugar.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Serve with jam.