Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick Cheese Steaks

12 inches of cheesesteak
Okay, some background. I love cheese steak sandwiches. Really love them. My love for them didn't really develop until the first time I ate a cheese steak at the Dairy Cottage in a suburb of Philadelphia, Penn. At the Dairy Cottage you either ordered a 12 or 24 inch sandwich and they didn't really recommend sharing.

That sandwich, featured in the above picture was divine. I've been to Philly several times and eaten lots of steaks, but this one takes the cake over all others.

Cheese steak
(Admittedly not the best picture. Sorry)

We regularly have a homemade version of a cheese steak for dinner.  It's fast and easy to prepare and makes everyone happy.  I've experimented a lot with different meat (deli meat, cube steak, steak thinly sliced) but I think I found the right combination of steak and cheese (we always use provolone but last night I used Swiss) and marinade and they were pretty awesome last night.

Here's what you'll need:
Good rolls - 2 per person if they're small.  We like the Ciabata rolls from Harmon's
Stir Fry beef already cut into strips.  Buy it that way at the grocery store or see if the butcher can do it for you.
1 large sweet onion
1-2 red peppers

For the Marinade:
garlic or garlic salt (depends on your tastes)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2-4 tbsp worcester sauce
2 tbsp olive oil

First, place your strips of steak in a zip lock and add the marinade ingredients.  Let it stew for 10-20 minutes.  

Slice the onion into rings and the red pepper into very thin strips.  Place the onion and pepper into a hot skillet with a little bit of olive oil.  Cook the veggies to your liking....I like them black and caramelized.

Take the onion and pepper out of the skillet and cook the meat.  Because of the thin strips it will cook fast.  Give it about 3 minutes and toss.  Then add the onion and peppers back into the mix for another 3-5 minutes.  

Once everything is good and juicy and smells like heaven then add your cheese.  Last night, we used Swiss.  Let the cheese melt into the meat and then serve to family and friends.  The whole process takes about 20 minutes and everyone will walk away full and happy.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stove top potatoes with paprika

Paprika potatoes

Oh, how I love potatoes. My sister once told me that if she were to open a restaurant, it would only serve potatoes.

These potatoes are super yummy and smokey and even though they are cooked on the stove top the taste like they were roasted in the oven.

Here's what you'll need:
2-4 Russet potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes
olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cubed potatoes. Cook the potatoes in 5 minute intervals, covered with a lid. Every 5 min shake and flip the potatoes. You'll do this for 20-30 minutes. The potatoes are done when they are soft enough for a knife to go through them. With about 5 minutes left, sprinkle the paprika over the potatoes and shake to mix.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mini Meatloaves and Smashed Potatoes (with a St. Patty's Day theme)

Tonight I made these turkey mini meat loaves and mashed potatoes from I changed it a tiny bit, because I cannot help myself. Instead of cooking them in a mini loaf pan, I cooked them in a muffin tin sprayed with PAM. They were then personal meat loaves.

My sister and I have been making a lot of these recipes and I haven't made anything I haven't liked yet.

In fact, a couple days ago I made Pasta with Cauliflower and it was really good as well. I used four strips of bacon instead of anchovies, because I have never cooked with anchovies and I was a bit scared.

Cafe Rio-like Sweet Pork

Sweet pork

I've seen a lot of recipes that try to recreate the Cafe Rio sweet pork for a salad. I've tried a bunch of them and they all sort of end up the same...tasty.

I've sort of tweaked them all to come up with something that I really like.

Sweet Pork
2-4 pounds pork butt or shoulder
1-2 cups fresh salsa
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coke (not diet, but coke zero can work in a pinch)
garlic salt
kosher salt

Place your cut of pork in your slow cooker. Add the coke, the salsa and the brown sugar. Let the pork cook on low for 8-10 hours (depending on size of your piece of pork) or on high for 4-6 hours. (I prefer to do it low and seems to end up better that way.)

Once your meat is totally crumbly, remove it from the slow cooker a little bit at a time to shred it up. Set aside once shredded. As soon as you've finished shredding it all, dump all the remaining juice out of your slow cooker and put the meat back in. Generously salt with garlic salt and kosher/sea salt and sprinkle with a little bit more brown sugar.

Serve and enjoy.

Note - this mean is not only good for salads, but tastes great in enchiladas with a green tomatillo sauce, too.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Icing and Chocolate Ganache


This recipe called for a made from scratch chocolate cake that was sort of a mousse/souffle type thing.  I made that version and it didn't work so I ended up with just a basic chocolate cake.  No worries though because the joy of this cake is in the frosting.

Salted Caramel Butter cream Icing
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
1/2 heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 sticks room temperature butter
3 + cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon good sea salt (or kosher salt, whatever you've got on hand)

First, you've got to make the caramel.  In a good and sturdy small sauce pot put the sugar and water over medium heat.  This is the base for your caramel.  You'll want to leave it alone (do not stir under penalty of law) and let it boil and bubble away until it is a nice medium amber color.  Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream and vanilla.  Set the caramel aside and let it sit and cool at leas 30 minutes.

Once the caramel is cooled, you can make the icing.  Cream two sticks of butter with a hand mixer.  Next add the sea salt and half of the powdered sugar.  Mix until combined and then add the caramel and the rest of the powdered sugar.  Depending on the consistency you're going for you might need to add a little milk or some more powdered sugar.

Chocolate Ganache
6 oz bittersweet/milk chocolate combination (mix it however you'd like.  I went 4 oz bittersweet and 2 oz milk)
6 oz heavy cream
dash of vanilla

While the caramel is cooling, make your ganache.  Heat the heavy cream over the stove on medium low heat.  As soon as the cream starts to boil pour it over the chocolate (made sure your chocolate is in a heat proof container).  Let stand about three minutes and then whisk the mixture until the chocolate is all melted.  Set the ganache aside.  If it doesn't thicken up enough on the counter top then put it in the fridge for five minutes at a time.  Check it because you don't want it to thicken up into a truffle consistency.

When you put the cake together, layer some butter cream and ganache between the two layers of the cake and add another layer of ganache to the top of the cake once you do your basic icing job.  Then drizzle some remaining ganache over the cake once it's all iced and ready to serve.

You'll have enough ganache to eat out of the bowl in your fridge a spoonful at a time for about three days after the cake is devoured.  That is my present to you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

I made these tonight and they are very good. The recipe is from

I added quartered roasted mushrooms because I had some I didn't want to waste and they were very delicious.

I also like this website because it has a lot of nutritional information with the recipes, including Weight Watchers points. Check it out.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 9 • Serving Size: 1 roll • Old Points: 4 pts • Points+: 6 ww pts
Calories: 224.9 • Fat: 5.1 g • Fiber: 3.4 g • Protein: 13.0 g • Carbs: 31.5

9 lasagna noodles, cooked
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese (I like Polly-o)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt and fresh pepper
32 oz tomato sauce
9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls.

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.