Monthly Archives: February 2012

Great Sides for Steak: Roasted Asparagus and Homemade Chips

My husband is the steak maker in our house… at least he has been. Ive taken over since we gave away our grill before we moved. We haven’t bought a new one, so I got a cast iron grill pan. I’ve been making steak with that and, minus the smokey fire and charcoal taste, it’s been very successful.

I have a tendency to turn to green veggies or corn on the cob and some kind of potato for sides. The last few times we’ve had steak, though, these chips have been requested, as have these delicious green veggies.

 

Roasted Asparagus is a simple and very tasty side. It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and only 10-15 minutes to cook. Preheat your oven to 425˚F. To prep your veggies, hold at each end and bend. The bottom, tough end will snap off. If a piece doesn’t snap, discard it. Once you’ve snapped the edges, place the asparagus on a foil lined sheet tray. Drizzle with olive oil (I use an olive/canola oil blend, it’s cheaper and just as good.) Sprinkle with fresh cracked coarse black pepper and a coarse salt (like sea salts, smoked salts or kosher salt.) Toss your veggies around to coat. Spread them back out and put them in the oven. I like to get a slight brown roast on mine and take them out of the oven. My hubby likes me to roast them on both sides and then remove them. They’re good both ways, but I like to keep a bit of the crispiness. You can get a good brown on them by cooking for 6 minutes and flipping them, still getting your crispiness in 12 total minutes of cooking.

These chips are just as easy, but can be a bit more time consuming, depending on your equipment. When doing any deep frying, I’ve been using peanut oil more and more and liking it more and more. As with any frying, it’s always important to monitor the temp of your oil. If you’re using a deep fryer, make sure the oil is not too old and has not been used too much. I used oil I’d fried catfish nuggets in 2 days earlier and still had a fresh oil flavor. If using a heavy bottom pan, just make sure you have at least 2 inches of oil, and you don’t crowd the pan too much.

I prefer wash my potatoes and leave the skin on. Slice them with a mandolin or the proper slicing blade attachment on a food pro. Thin slices are good for these chips. 1 large potato per 2 people is usually good, but I have to use 2 because as soon as my husband finds out I’m making them, he continually sneaks into the kitchen to steal them. I like to soak mine in water for a bit to remove some of the starch. Also, I like to slice them early and have them waiting for when I’m ready to fry them. Once you are ready, be sure to separate the slices and dry them with a towel. I like to make an assembly line. I drain the potatoes and put them in a bowl. Then, I take a batch, lay them on a paper towel, dry them and drop them in oil when the time is right.

Once in oil, let them cook for 2-4 minutes. They need to brown up at least halfway. If they are too white, they will be soft. If they get a little too dark brown it will take away from the potato taste. A light golden brown over most of the chip is perfect. Remove it from the oil and immediately sprinkle with salt. I like using sea salt or kosher salt.

Hope you enjoy making these super easy sides. Happy Cooking!

 

Chocolate Croissants

I’ve been testing puff pastry recipes for months now. I’ve especially been working on a super fast breakfast pastry of some sort. I love making big breakfasts, but Monday-Friday, my husband works, and refuses breakfast. I want something I can make first thing in the morning that is super simple, super quick, and is super easy for him to pop in his mouth on the way out the door. He usually rides his Harley to work, so driving with something in his hand is out of the question.

Recently, I started experimenting with preserves and breakfast ingredients. I’d been making them and loving them, but no matter how well I thought I sealed them, one or two would always seep out. So, finally, I remembered how much my husband LOVED the chocolate croissants I used to get him from the bakeries in Germany when we lived there. They were super simple and super easy and worked perfectly the first time I tried them. The best part, I can make them the night before, and they don’t require using tons of equipment or destroying my kitchen. Here’s how I do it:

Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Unwrap thawed, cold puff pastry and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out just a bit. Cut on the folds to make 3 separate sheets. Cut all 3 sheets in half to give you 6 squares. Now, cut each square in half diagonally. You will now have 12 triangles. You can use whatever chocolate you like, or, switch it up and use white chocolate, butterscotch chips, etc. If you have baking squares or chocolate pieces, I recommend cutting them down. If you’re using chips, take some in your fingers and put them on the wide side of your dough.

Roll your pastry just like any other crescents. Start with the end the chocolate is on. Take the wide end of the pastry and fold it over the chocolate. Now just roll it a few times toward the thin point. Place your rolled crescents on a foil lined sheet tray. To get the shape, simply bend the ends slightly toward the middle. They don’t have to touch, don’t pinch it. Don’t worry about what it looks like right now. Once it bakes, it will puff up, the best thing about “Puff” pastry. Brush the top with an egg wash (a beaten egg, you can use a splash of milk or water to thin it a bit.)

Bake for about 12 minutes. If you notice the majority aren’t golden brown over at least 80%, they need another minute. If the majority are golden brown, but there are a few translucent spots, don’t worry. Let them cool for about 5 minutes.

For the finishing touch, melt some chocolate in the microwave. Be sure to use a microwave safe bowl and heat 10 seconds at a time, stirring thoroughly each time. You only need 1 square or 2 TBSP of chocolate pieces. Once the chocolate is melted, drizzle over the croissants. PERFECTION!

These quick breakfast treats take about 20 minutes from start to oven removal. You can drizzle the chocolate on top right out of the oven if you’re in a hurry, but I’d give them 5 minutes to cool so you can handle them, them another 5 after you drizzle them to let the chocolate firm up.

If you make these, please leave me a comment and let me know how they work for you, or what combinations you use. Happy Baking!

Chicken and Rice with Curry Gravy and Honey Biscuits

This was my first attempt at using curry. A simple meal of chicken and rice, but I spiced it up by making a basic gravy and adding some tarragon and curry. I used a roll of refrigerated biscuits and cooked them as usual. When they were finished, I turned off the oven, buttered them, and drizzled honey over them. I put them back in the oven for about 2 minutes just to let the honey set. Once I plated, I poured a ladle of gravy over the chicken and rice and served. It was a hit!

Welcome to the Kitchen!

I love coming up with new recipes, but I was only sharing them one person at a time, wither through Facebook or texting, or e-mails. I love being introduced to blogs where people have awesome recipes that I can do at home. So, that’s what I’d like to do here. I hope you find some things that inspire you to create your own recipes at home.