Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Empanada Joe's

I always liked Sloppy Joe's growing up.  I wanted to buy my lunch at school every time they were on the menu; I got super excited when a friend's mom would say she was cooking us Sloppy Joe's for us for dinner; my mom even occasionally made us some tasty Sloppy Joe's too!  Even though I love Sloppy Joe's, I realize not everyone does.  Well, at least, they don't until they try my Sloppy Joe's.  My Sloppy Joe's wrapped up in a soft flaky crust.  My Sloppy Joe's wrapped up in a soft flaky crust that are conveniently sized to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.

Yes.  My Sloppy Joe empanadas.  Or, simply put, my Empanada Joe's.

This super easy recipe is based off a recipe I have from a slow cooker cook book.  Did I mention it was easy?  'Cuz it is.  Easy.  Really the hardest part is waiting patiently for all the ingredients to meld together and work their magic.  So without further adieu, my Empanada Joe's.

Empanada Joe's
2 lbs. ground meat (I use beef, but seriously whatever you prefer is fine!)
1 cup chopped onion
1 pint chopped brown onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup chopped bell pepper (any kind really works.  I like green because it adds a nice color!)
1/4 cup (plus a little extra) Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tbs. dijon mustard
4 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. cayan pepper (I really just keep shaking the container until it looks something like I imagine 2 tsp. look like)
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package prepared pie crust
1 large egg

  1. Brown the meat with the onions and mushrooms.  If your pan is not big enough for both the meat and the mushrooms, you can suate the mushrooms until they are soft in a separate pan.  Either way, once the meat is browned, drain off the fat.
  2. Combine the browned meat and mushrooms with the rest of the ingredients in a crockpot.  Well, except for the cheese, pie crust, and egg.  Don't mix those in yet.  Stir everything together until well incorporated.
  3. Cook on high heat for the next 3-4 hours.  Make sure you stir the meat mixture every 1 hour to 1 1/5 hours just to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom or sides and burns.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Once the flavors have melded together, it's time to prepare the dough.  Roll the dough out slightly and use a large cup to cut disks.  Re-roll out the scraps until you can't make any more disks.
  6. Lay 1/2 your disks out on a cookie sheet, evenly spaced out.  Place a heaping Tablespoon of the meat mixture onto the middle of each disk.  Then top the meat with a pinch of shredded cheese. 
  7. Top the meat and cheese mixture with another disk.  Press the edges of the dough together, trying to get as much air out as possible.  Take a fork and crimp the edges of the dough all the way around the disks.
  8. Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush over the top of each packet.  Take a sharp knife and make two slits on the top of each packet.  Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes (kinda depends on how good your oven is...) looking for the dough to be golden brown and delicious.
  9. I know I shouldn't insult your intelligence like this, but I will.  Just in case.  Let them cool down for at least 5 minutes before you dig into them!  Your mouth and taste buds will hate you if you don't.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Un-Pumpkin Muffins

I love Fall because it has my favorite holidays.  Who doesn't love Halloween where you get to dress up as anything you want and it's ok.  Even if you're 25 and should be acting like an adult.  It doesn't matter.  And then there's Thanksgiving!  Oh how I love Thanksgiving!  The family gets together, we reflect on the year and what we are thankful for, and we laugh and joke and eat.  It's really my favorite holiday because it's so family oriented and there are no expectations except to enjoy each others' company.

And then there's the pie.  I really don't know which type I like more:  apple or pumpkin.  The apple is sweet with a crunchy crust and gooey center.  The pumpkin is more savory and creamy, and with a dallop of whipped cream, it really can't get any better.  And they are both equally delicious for breakfast the next morning.  So I had to come up with a tie-breaker:  muffins.

I love muffins, and I love pie, so it seemed only obvious to create muffins that taste like the pie!  I have made apple muffins (which are LOADED with fiber, so if you aren't well stocked with toilet paper, you should not eat them!) and it was on to making pumpkin muffins.

I found a great recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook, because Betty knows it all!

Unfortunately, she doesn't know how to make very good pumpkin muffins.

Don't get me wrong, the muffins are delicious.  They are nice and moist, good crumb texture, and they are slightly sweet.  They have great flavor, but they don't taste like pumpkin.  At all. And they were not spicy enough for my liking.  Part of the appeal of pumpkin pie is how well the spices play off each other.   And there wasn't much pumpkin.  Or spice.  Back to the drawing board.

So it's my turn to turn up the flavor a bit, Betty.  I just hope that when I'm done, she's not rolling around in her grave.  That would be undesirable to say the least.  This weekend, I will be whipping up a batch of Pumpkin Muffins 2.0.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Autumn Hash

Sundays are usually Rudy's day to make breakfast.  But since he's taken such good care of me this weekend, I thought I would give him the day off.  I decided to make breakfast for him instead (with lots of handwashing, of course)!

After looking through my Cooking Light magazine, and watching an obscene amount of Food Network this weekend, I came up with a nice little hash.  It has the meat and the onions, just like all good hash.  My twist is that I take out the potatoes and add a little apple.  It just wouldn't be autumn without some apples, now would it?  I thought this hash tasted absolutely delicious!  Rudy on the other hand thought it could do without the apples.  So I guess there is only one thing left to do.  Give everyone the recipe and have you decide:  apples or no apples?

Autumn Hash
2 links Italian sausage (or any other type of sausage you like)
1/2 large firm apple, like a Honeycrisp
1 whole small onion
1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper
2 eggs

  1. Place a pan over medium high heat.  Squeez the sausage out of its casings and into the hot pan.  As the sausage cooks, crumble it into pieces.  Meanwhile, slice the onion into thin strips.  Do the same with the apple.
  2. Once the sausage is cooked through, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a papertowl to drain.  Place the caraway seeds in the hot drippings.  They will pop a bit.  Lower the pan down to medium heat.  Cook the seeds for about a minute.
  3. Once the seeds are cooked in the drippings for about a minute, add the apples and onion.  Drizzle in the vegetable oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the apples and onion down for about 5 minutes on medium heat.  The onions should be started to turn a golden brown and the apples should be somewhat soft.
  4. Add the sausage back to the pan and continue to cook everything until the onions are carmelized, the apples of soft, and the sausage is slightly crispy.
  5. Set another pan on medium heat.  Go ahead and toast your bread at this point.  Once the pan is hot, spray it with non-stick spray and add your two eggs.  Fry the eggs for about 2 minutes on the first side.  Season it with salt and pepper.  Then flip the eggs over and continue cooking until your desired level of doneness.
  6. Place the hash on the plate.  Top it with a fried egg.  Add the buttered toast.  Enjoy!
Let me know how you like it!  I want to put the apple or no apple debate to rest!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

French Onion Soup for the Soul

This weekend, I have had a terrible cold.  I have been able to fend off illness for almost a month since starting school back up.  Unfortunately, this cold hit me hard yesterday.  I have been completely useless; I have been doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and drinking lots of fluids.  I know.  Rough life.  But when you feel like your head is 10 sizes bigger, your nose is non-functional except for mucus production, and you're coughing your lungs up, eating, sleeping, and drinking is all that can be expected.

Earlier in the week, Rudy and I went to Costco to buy our monthly stock of necessities.  One of these necessities was a 5 lb. bag of onions.  I have been totally craving French Onion Soup since the weather has been on the cooler side.  This morning, I was complaining to Rudy that I wouldn't be able to make the soup because I really wasn't feeling good.  I proceeded to belly-ache about how much I had been wanting this oniony soupy goodness, how I had been dreeming about it all week, and upset I am that I wouldn't be getting any.  He then did something I was secretly hoping he would do:  he asked me for the recipe and said he would make it for me!

I have always felt Rudy was an amazing nurse, even before he passed his NCLEX, for many reasons.  The big reason, he really goes the distance to make sure his patients feel better even when they feel like crap.  Even if this means indulging his girlfriend's cravings for French Onion Soup.  So needless to say, I had the most delicious bowl of French Onion Soup tonight, and it tasted even better because it was made with love! 

Thank you Rudy for filling up not only my tummy with yummy, oniony, cheesey gooiness, but also for feeding my soul!  I love you!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Natalie!

Natalie was turning the big 2-5, so we needed to do something special.  I made a confetti cake for Natalie, no box needed!  The best part is, I was able to make the cake just as fast from scratch as I usually do from the box.  And I was so much prouder!  To top it off, Rudy tinted the frosting a nice and sunny yellow.  That would be Natalie's favorite color.

The hard part of making the cake was transporting the cake to San Pedro's fish market.  We went down to San Pedro for dinner, and we wanted to bring the cake.  I had to put the cake in the freezer so it would survive the almost hour long drive and the 20 minute walk to where we were meeting everyone.  It worked out really well!  The only thing the time in the freezer didn't protect the cake from was me dropping my phone onto it on the car ride over.  Oops.

All and all, it was a great night!  A little fish, beer, and cake in Pedro, then off the Anaheim for some ice-skating.  Really, we all had a blast!  We need to have another birthday bash soon! 

Happy Birthday Natalie!

Did I mention it was homemade confetti cake???

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola

I can safely say that I am a very spoiled person.  Rudy decided that he would cook for us the other night, and it was nothing short of amazing!  I don't know what made Rudy decide to cook this fabuloso dinner, but I'm sure glad he did!

I was having one of those days.  It wasn't bad, but it was definitely not all good.  I was tired, my body was sore, and I was starving.  The phone call home made my day much brighter.  Rudy informed me that he wanted to make a dinner with pork chops since we had just bought 10 nice and juicy pork chops from Costco the day before.  I was already surprised and excited. 

Then, he really threw me for a loop.  He told me the recipe he really wanted to make was one he had found at Food Network's website, and the chef who created it was Giada de Laurentiis.  He really dislikes her shows.  I really mean it.  Whenever I am watching one of them, he just rolls his eyes the whole time.  But, he really likes her recipes, so sometimes he will suck it up.  And I am really glad he did! 

The porkchops were beyond delicious!  The tomatoes and onions were heavenly; the potatoes were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside; the greenbeans were crisp with a hint of garlic.  I normally talk and talk and talk, even when eating dinner, but that night, I was quiet as a church mouse.  I was just wanted to savor every bite, willing the flavors to stay longer.  But alas, the meal was eventually over.  And this time, there were no leftovers because I just couldn't stop eating these delicious porkchops.  But don't cry for me just yet.  I have been promised another porkchop meal on Monday!  So even though it is the start of the workweek, as well as the start of the new school year, I will be sailing through the day just by thinking about the night's dinner!  Rudy, you can cook for me any day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mommy Biscuits

Apparently these cookies make mommies very happy, but make 1-year-olds very grumpy.  This is because 1-years-olds cannot enjoy these buttery, soft cookies, while mommies can eat them all!  That's why these Korova Cookies are nicknamed Mommy Biscuits! 

Silly baby, these are for Mommy!