Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekly Recipe Roundup

As promised, less desserts and more savory recipes this week. I can never remember what we even had, much less whether it was good or not, until I upload the pictures from my camera. If it made it to film, it was usually noteworthy. If not, it was either a repeat, a regular, or terrible. Look out if I ever forget to delete one of the bad ones because I'll never remember and just post it as if it were great. I feel pretty certain all of these were good enough to repeat.

I came across a new food blog a month or so ago and was so impressed I signed up for her RSS feed. That's really saying something because I hate junk mail and try to avoid it at all cost. This lady has mad skills though - cooking, photography, and who knows what else! I highly recommend her, as 2 of my recipes this week come from her at Life's Ambrosia. I hope you enjoy her site as much as I have.

SHRIMP & GRITS - This is one of my favorite dishes of all times. It screams Charleston, SC to me, a place very near and dear to my heart. This particular recipe is quite good and could stand up against some of the best I've had. I altered her grit recipe slightly by replacing 1/2 of the chicken broth with half and half. I also ended up adding more chicken stock at the end to give it the creamy consistency I wanted. I reduced the butter down to just 1 T. Wes declared these to be the best I'd ever made and to quit looking for other recipes - quite a compliment considering his affection for grits!
For the shrimp, I used chicken stock in place of her homemade shrimp broth. The sauce was a little runnier than I was used to but it soaked in just fine into the grits. Yum, my mouth is watering just remembering this tasty dish.

MEATBALLS IN MUSHROOM MUSHROOM CREAM SAUCE - This made for a nice comfort meal for Sunday night. Sunday is typically my day to spend in the kitchen and I always feel like an old lady who's cooking for her family of 12, the neighbors, and any other random guests that stop by. So any Sunday you're hungry, come on over because I'll have at least 2 meals going and probably a dessert of some kind!
I'm not a big fan of sausage because of the fat content, so I opted for fresh chicken sausages in place of the pork that the recipe calls for. It did make for spotted meatballs but the flavor was still good. This sauce was very watery (or brothy since there was no water) and I would have preferred more of a gravy. Again though, it soaked in nicely into the mashed potatoes and added quite a bit of flavor to them without having to load them down with butter and cream.

WHITE BEAN DIP WITH BAKED PITA CHIPS - Not only can I not find the link to the recipe, I couldn't find said recipe when I went to make this dip either. How hard could it be, so I just improvised. Wes and his sophisticated palate said that the chips were the perfect compliment to the dip. We may not be James Beard critics but we do know good food when we taste it. This is a super easy recipe and would be great for a tailgate or an appetizer for a get together.

White Bean Dip with Baked Pita Chips, by Me!
1 can Great Northern Beans (or cannelloni, or other white bean)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomato flavored feta cheese crumbles
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 T. lemon juice
3-5 T. olive oil, depending on your desired consistency

1 package pitas
1-2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper

Drain and rinse beans at least 2 times (canned foods retain a TON of salt and the double washing will help eliminate some of the sodium). In a food processor, puree the beans. Add in all of the remaining ingredients except the olive oil, and mix well until creamy. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running. Stop periodically to check for desired consistency. (Makes about 1 - 1.5 cups)

For the Baked Pitas:
Preheat oven to 400. Cut each pita (or flatbread) in half and then each half in 4 pie-shaped pieces. Separate the front from the back of each piece. Place on single layer on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and garnish with salt and pepper. Bake for 6 minutes, remove from oven and flip each piece. Return to oven and bake an additional 6 minutes.

And of course, a dessert. I wanted to make something that used up some of the items in the pantry and also something that I had all the ingredients for. I mean really, there are only so many times I can go to the grocery in one week! I found this recipe for Mississippi Mud Cookies and Wes was sold. I didn't have quite the amount of chocolate chips the recipe called for, so I improvised with what I had. For the melted chocolate, I used 1/2 semi-sweet and 1/2 white chocolate chips. For the last 1/2 cup chocolate chips that are folded in, I used 1/2 cup Heath bar crumbles. Neither made a noticeable difference. If anything, I think the Heath bar might have added another favorable flavor element to the cookies. I personally thought the marshmallows were lost but then again, I'm not a fan. Colin on the other hand, loved him some mar-mammows!

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