Thursday, February 28, 2008

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted asparagus doesn't really go with arroz caldo, but I bought some asparagus on a whim this week and what better day to eat it than yesterday? I followed a recipe in the Joy of Cooking. Roasting the asparagus on high heat gives it a delicate flavor. My hubby said that the heads tasted like pumpkin seeds (which was a good thing). I'll make this my go-to asparagus recipe. Here it is, paraphrased:

1 pound of asparagus
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim the ends of the asparagus. Place in a shallow baking pan in one layer. Drizzle olive oil onto the spears. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until they are getting tender but still a little firm. Transfer to serving dish and season with salt and pepper. Top with a little Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

One-Step Lasagna with Basil

Last week was "Use Up All The Ingredients In The Kitchen Week". One such an ingredient was ground beef. I had a couple pounds of ground beef in my freezer from when I made sloppy joe's for a work potluck, which was many moons ago. I found this recipe for lasagna and thought this was a perfect way to use up that brick of ground beef that was taking up room in my little freezer. I skipped the Italian sausage and just used all ground beef, and used Walmart brand spaghetti sauce, which we like just fine. I also threw in some oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper while I sauteed the beef. I thought this was pretty good, but a little too meaty for us. Maybe if I had used Italian sausage I would have liked it more. For ease of preparation, though, this recipe cannot be beat. This was a lot simpler to make than my usual butternut squash lasagna (which is delicious but very labor intensive).

I would use this recipe again, but maybe cut back on the meat (this is just personal preference since we are not big meat eaters). I would also try adding spinach or some other veggies just for variety.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday

This year's Super Bowl wasn't quite as exciting for me as last year's since the Bears weren't in it, but we still had fun having people over and eating a lot of food. This year we had about twenty people over, some of those being kids. I made way too much food, but now I have lots to eat this week. Next time I'm going to let other people bring more, and I'll scale back a bit. You know, the problem with preparing for a Super Bowl party is that there's no time to relax afterwards. You spend all weekend in the kitchen, have your party, clean up, and then it's back to work the next day. At least with Thanksgiving I had three days to recover!

All in all we had a great time. Here was the line-up:

Buffalo Wings
I made these last year, and they were so good that they deserved repeating. I made about six pounds of wings and made 1 1/2 times the sauce. These were eaten up and I only had about eight wings left at the end of the party. I served them with blue cheese dressing. Just like Hooters wings, but without the degradation of women.
Sweet Chili-Glazed Chicken Wings
I made these last year also, but this time I cooked them in my roasting pan with the wire rack so they didn't get soggy. I baked them for 30 minutes, then broiled them for a few minutes just to get them a little crispy. I left out the chili-garlic sauce and most of the crushed red pepper since kids would be eating them.
New England Clam Chowder
I was rooting for the Giants but I still liked the idea of making this to go along with the New England Patriots. This clam chowder was delicious - thinner than I'm used to, but what flavor! This was an excellent recipe, especially given that it calls for canned clams and bottled clam juice! Unfortunately, I discovered that chowder is just not a popular Super Bowl food. Most people went for the wings and other things that could be picked up and eaten with their hands. But I would definitely make this one again, for ourselves or for company. I used 1/2 cups of flour, and added the reserved clam juice at the end so that I could control how thin it would end up - otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.
Deviled Eggs
Same recipe as last year, always a crowd pleaser. No matter what fancy appetizers you make for a party, deviled eggs are always the first to go.
I stuck with Alton Brown's recipe that I used last year, but doubled it this time. We had a lot left over - we didn't have as many guacamole fans as we thought we would. My avocados were not the best, but this was still very good.
Hummus and Pita Chips
I've made this hummus before and blogged about it here. Very good, but didn't get eaten much at the party, likely because I had way too much food out there. Well, that just goes to show you that I'm a good Filipino. Better to have too much food at a party than not enough! That would be a Filipino host's worst nightmare.
Veggie Tray
I did the same as I did last year, and made my own tray of baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and celery sticks. I made Ranch dip using a Hidden Valley ranch dressing packet and a 16 oz. tub of sour cream.
Believe it or not, this may have been the most popular item on the buffet line. Kids love grapes. And when you are full but want to keep eating, a handful of grapes goes down pretty easy. I had a large bowl full of red and green grapes. My husband was sure to cut up the bunches so that guests could grab a handful easily.
Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch
I follow David Lebovitz's blog, and was excited to see this recipe this past week. His pictures on his blog just made it look so delicious! This was pretty good, but not knock-my-socks-off. I think it would be better if I had some sea salt sprinkled on top of them like he suggests. This is not very difficult to make, so if you happen to have matzoh crackers laying around, this is a good use for them.
Cinnamon-Scented Devil's Food Cupcakes
I think I have a standard rotation now for the Super Bowl - wings, guacamole, deviled eggs, and cupcakes. These are my building blocks. I made a different type of cupcake this year. I've had this one bookmarked for years, and finally tried it this weekend. I didn't want to use all of my precious Droste cocoa powder (that I had to buy in Wisconsin because they don't sell good cocoa powder in east Tennessee!), so I used half Nestle's and half Droste. I colored the frosting so that 1/3 of the cupcakes had white frosting, 1/3 had red, and 1/3 had blue (since those were the colors for both teams). I used regular cupcake liners instead of panettone molds, and ended up with about 45 cupcakes. These were excellent cupcakes - moist, rich cake, and the frosting has a subtle almond flavor. These were a lot of work, but I've realized that all cupcakes made from scratch are a lot of work. For special occasions they are worth it!

Some of my guests also brought a spinach dip with crackers, chocolate chip cookies, and another veggie tray. Needless to say, we all left with full bellies and happy hearts, celebrating the Giants win and enjoying some good party food.