Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cheese Stuffed Sweet Peppers with Marinara Sauce

If you are not a member of and love to cook, you should be.  This marinara sauce is, "Hands-Down," the best I have ever made.  This would also be an EXCELLENT pizza sauce!  The recipe came to me through weeks ago.  I bought the ingredients last week then got busy and forgot about it until cleaning out the fridge for Easter and said, "Oh yeah...that's why I bought that!"  Funny thing is, I had forwarded it my Mom in New Mexico.  So I called her yesterday afternoon on my birthday and I tell her what I'm making for dinner.  She starts giggling and I know something is up!  She's making the same thing at the same time and has also changed up her recipe a little!  HA!  Also, for my vegetarian friends, there is no reason you need to add meat to this dish.   It would be just as good without meat.  The original recipe called for ground turkey.  I didn't want turkey, I wanted the Isineros (I know I'm spelling that wrong) organic Italian Chicken Sausage.  That was a great substitute!

We both agree that the recipe needs to be served over pasta!  She has whole wheat penne and I have the regular...check!  We used a different mix of cheeses, but we both agree this one is a keeper!  When I make this again....and I will, I would add mushrooms to the list of ingredients.

This is what you will need, don't freak out, I know it looks like a lot, but it's really manageable and easy to prepare.

1 lb. Isineros Italian chicken sausage
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. dried basil  (HA!  I used my own home-grown Queen of Sheba basil)
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash Tomato and Basil (I did buy this and use it and am glad I did)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. black pepper
2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes with oregano, basil and garlic
4 oz can tomato paste
2 cups fresh, diced tomatoes
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Stuffed Peppers:
about 14 mini bell peppers (I get them at Sam's Club)
16 oz light ricotta (I used 15 oz. of Greek yogurt)
8 oz shredded provolone cheese
6 oz grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg

Dice your onion and garlic.  Cook garlic and onion with the chicken sausage in a Dutch oven pot with about 1 TBSP olive oil.  Cook until onions are tender.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and fresh tomatoes.  Add the dry seasonings, sugar and lemon juice.  Simmer 45 minutes.

Now mix together the yogurt or ricotta, provolone and most of the Parmesan and egg (save about 1/2 cup of asiago or Parmesan to top AFTER it has baked. 

Cut off the tops of the peppers and remove the seeds and veins.  Stuff with the cheese mixture.

Ladle 1/2 of the marinara on the bottom of a baking dish, top with stuffed peppers, ladle the other 1/2 of marinara on top of that.  I always have left over cheese mix....just dollop that on top of the marinara and spread it over gently...a little more cheese never hurts and who wants to waste?  Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.  Now cook your penne pasta.  Reduce the heat on the peppers to 350 and continue cooking for another 20 minutes or until peppers are soft.  The pasta and peppers will be ready at the same time.

 By the way, this isn't important, but this is my FAVORITE kitchen tool!  I bought it over 25 years ago at a store in Alamogordo that doesn't even exist anymore.  It's the most useful tool in the kitchen and I'd be lost without it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Halibut Corn Chowder

So I made some Halibut Corn Chowder from a recipe originally published in "Alaskan Halibut Recipes" by Cecilia Nibeck ISBN: 0-9622117-0-2 and everyone loved it.  Don't be intimidated!  This chowder can be made in under an hour!  The recipe seemed a bit blah for my taste and I wanted to kick it up a notch by adding more ingredients.  First off, I want more potatoes!  Jim loves his potatoes and I love my moms clam chowder that is chock-full of them!  Well if you have more potatoes, shouldn't you have sour cream, chives and garlic?  Since it's halibut it needs to have lots of dill weed.  I also think potatoes and bacon are best friends, so don't skimp on the bacon---and while you're at it, make it that thick-peppered stuff!

1 lb. halibut, skinned and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 slices thick, peppered bacon, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 TBSP flour
4 good sized potatoes, peeled and diced (I like about a 1" chunk)
1 cup water
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. dill weed
1 can whole-kernel corn (I use what I pressure can from the summer.  Nothing beats Olathe corn!)
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
2 TBSP. chopped parsley
1 TBSP. garlic powder
2 tsp. chives, dry or diced
1/2 cup sour cream (at the end)
*If you REALLY want to be decadent, slide 2 TBSP of butter in the pot to melt before you serve it!

Cook bacon until crisp.  Saute onions until tender, stir in flour.  Add potatoes, water, salt, pepper and dill weed.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender.  Add halibut, parsley, garlic powder and chives.  Cover and simmer until fish flakes easily.  Add corn, half-and-half and milk.  Do not boil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add 1/2 cup sour cream to stir in and serve.

I love this with oyster/saltine crackers!

*for grins and giggles and if you want even more for this chowder you can finely dice a carrot and celery with the potatoes to add color and taste!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tuna Fish vs. Salmon fish Sandwich Spread Revisted

My mom made the best ever tuna sandwiches.  I don't know where she learned to do that but they were very unusual.  She chopped up pecans, lettuce, boiled eggs and combined the tuna with mayo and the other ingredients.  I had a wild hair a few years ago about this and began using my left  over salmon in place of tuna.  It has been a wild ride depending on the seasoning and method of cooking salmon.  This time I coated my salmon with southwestern spices like chipotle and cilantro.  Cook the fish, pick out the bones...then add the ingredients

Cooked salmon: about 2 cups
4 boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup mayo
salt, pepper to taste (I use hickory smoked salt)
1/2 cup mesquite smoked pecans, diced
Add 2 cups of shredded lettuce

Mix all together....serve up on sandwich bread.....oh my goodness .....nothing better.