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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tis' The Season!

Hello Dear Readers!
   I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I have been taking a bit of a hiatus lately but will be back in full swing after New Year's. As always, I do loads of holiday baking. I'd like to share with you a recipe that I adore & is always a hit with my family. It is for my famous (and easy) Jam Thumbprint Butter Cookies!
  I am so in love with these yummy things that I don't just wait for the holidays to make them. I hope you all will enjoy them as much as my family does :) I welcome all of your comments so please let me know what you think. If you have anything that you'd like to see a recipe for just let me know that as well. Have a happy & healthy New Year!

Jam Thumbprint Butter Cookies (Yield approx. 55 cookies)
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 cup jam (any type)
DIRECTIONS

STEP 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg, and beat until completely combined. With mixer on low, add flour, and mix just until incorporated.
STEP 2
Shape dough into 1-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons each) & roll in sugar. Place on baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart.
STEP 3
Using the back of a 1/4tsp measuring spoon, gently press the center of each ball, making an indentation about 1/2 inch deep. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon into each indentation. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. If storing, place in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holidays :)

Dear Readers,
   The Holiday season is upon us! I absolutely love cooking for holidays especially Thanksgiving! I know most people think cooking for Thanksgiving is daunting & time consuming. Yes, it does take time but if you manage that time wisely you can get all the components of your meal on the table HOT! That seems to be one of the biggest issues. Just think about the time it takes to do each thing you want to make & don't go too crazy! Have your turkey, stuffing and maybe 2 other things. That's really all you need! People tend to make way too much which is why everyone thinks it takes forever to prepare. I make my turkey(which makes its own gravy), my Mom's sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts & broccoli & of course dessert. Honestly, I'm not a fan of sweet potatoes or Brussels sprouts so that's why I make 2 extra things. I usually make a list of everything I'm making & how long it takes to do each thing. My stuffing I prepare the night before & just bake it while the turkey is resting. I do the same thing with the sweet potatoes. Trust me, getting your Thanksgiving meal on the table all at the same time & hot(& with your sanity!) is not a problem with a bit of time management. I lost my Mom in January so this is my first Thanksgiving without her & I am choosing to share her stuffing recipe with you all. It is the best & the only way I eat stuffing! It makes quite a bit so you'll have leftovers :)

Mom's Stuffing

Ingredients:
2lbs. Loose sausage meat without fennel
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 small bags or 1 large bag stuffing bread cubes(I used Arnold's)
Chicken broth, as needed

Directions:
1) In a large skillet, heat a 2 tablespoons of oil & brown the sausage until cooked.
2) Add celery & onion to pan & saute until soft but not brown.
3) Add bread cubes & stir. Add 1-1 1/2 cups chicken stock(more if necessary) until moistened but not mushy-keep in mind this will be baked!
4) Butter a 2 1/2qt casserole dish & place stuffing in being careful not to pack it.
*This can be made to this point the night before*
5) Bake at 350(or whatever temp you have your turkey on-I like to bake mine while my turkey is resting) until brown & crusty :)

I hope you all enjoy it & have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Quick & Easy

Hello Readers!
  Let's face it, we all have busy lives. I know when I get home from work I don't want to exhaust myself cooking! It's times like this when our handy dandy repertoire of quick, easy & tasty recipes is put to the test. The other night was just such a night for me so I decided to make a recipe I saw on the Food Network. Now, I really wanted this blog to only contain my recipes but this is definitely one to share! Its meaty,cheesy,creamy & sooo yummy! It's Ree Drummond's(The Pioneer Woman) Sour Cream Noodle Bake!! It ends up tasting like lasagna & just takes a total of 30 minutes!! I hope all of you will try it...I know you'll love it...I didn't even have leftovers!

Ree Drummond's Sour Cream Noodle Bake
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep:10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 1/4 pounds ground chuck
One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces egg noodles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups small curd cottage cheese (I used Ricotta)
Pinch red pepper flakes (didn't use)
1/2 cup sliced green onions (less to taste)
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
Crusty French bread, for serving

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brown the ground chuck in a large skillet. Drain the fat, and then add the tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, and then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
Cook the egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add to the noodles and stir. Add the green onions and stir.
To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, and then sprinkle on half the grated Cheddar. Repeat with noodles, meat and then a final layer of cheese. Bake until all the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Serve with crusty French bread.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Autumn

Hello All! So sorry for my absence lately but have been battling some wicked sinuses! Well, my favorite season is upon us...I LOVE Autumn! Cool, crisp air, beautiful scenery & yummy food! Time to open our ovens and fill our homes with wonderful smells and flavors. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am a bonafide apple junkie! That is the food I most look forward to every fall season. You might be expecting a fabulous apple pie recipe but I am going to take you to the savory side of the apple with this delicious stuffed pork loin. Its filled with tart apples & sweet prunes and apricots. For those of you prune haters out there, I was one of you once! They give such a wonderful depth of flavor to anything. Please send me some feedback & let me know how you like it! Enjoy!


Stuffed Pork Loin with Apples, Prunes & Apricots

Extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into lardons
1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
Kosher salt
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup prunes, quartered
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped, divided
1/2 cup brandy or Calvados
1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin
1 cup chicken stock

Directions
Coat a large saute pan lightly with olive oil. Add the bacon and bring the pan to a medium heat. When the bacon is crispy and has released a lot of fat, add the onions and season with salt. Cook the onions until they are soft and aromatic, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the apples, prunes, apricots, and half the chopped rosemary. Cook the apples, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Pull the pan off the heat and add the brandy. Return to the fire and flambe, or let the alcohol just burn off. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Lay out a length of plastic wrap about 2-feet in length. Spoon the apple mixture onto the plastic and make a log down the center that is about the same length as the pork loin. Roll the plastic tightly around the apple mixture and twist at the ends to secure. The log should be about 1- inch in diameter. Place the log in the freezer and let it freeze solid. This can and should be done ahead of time.

To stuff the pork: Insert a long, thin knife into the center of one end of the pork loin; repeat this process at the other end. Wiggle the knife back and forth to create a place big enough to accommodate your frozen stuffing log. After cutting with the knife, you can use the handle of a long wooden spoon to make sure the incision goes all the way through the pork loin.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Get the stuffing log from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Slide the stuffing log through the pork loin - it might need a little encouragement but it should go the length of the loin. Season the outside of the pork generously with salt and sprinkle it with the remaining chopped rosemary.

Coat a roasting pan with olive oil and bring the pan to a high heat. Add the pork to the pan and sear it on all sides until it is brown.

Remove the pork to a plate and discard the fat in the roasting pan. Add the pork back to the pan pour in the chicken stock. Place it in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on how you like your pork. (I remove it from the oven when a meat thermometer reaches 135-140). Turn it over halfway through the cooking time. Remove it from the oven, cover it with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.





Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11

As I sit here at the close of my day, I recall what my day was like 12 years ago. A beautiful Tuesday morning, I worked the early shift (7am-11am) at the assisted living facility I waitressed at. About 2 hours into my shift, my manager comes up to me & frantically tells me a plane hit the World Trade Center. I calmly walked out into the lobby to see if there was anything on the news about it and all I saw was black and then a burning building. I figured a plane lost control and crashed. I went back into the dining room and continued working. Then we hear over the kitchen radio that another plane hit the other tower. Now we know this is no coincidence. I thought immediately of my Uncle who works around the corner from WTC & my best friend who went to school near there and prayed they were safe. I finished out my shift and got in the car with my Mom to go home. She asked if I heard what happened. I told her I heard 2 planes crashed into the WTC. She stopped me and said "No, they fell. They're gone." I told her she must've been mistaken-those towers couldn't fall. We pulled up to our house & I ran in & flipped on CNN. The first image I saw was a falling tower. That image is seared in my brain. I fell onto my couch with my face in my hands, frozen except for the tears streaming down my face. Then, another falling tower. My first thought was that this was just a repeat showing of the same tower until they showed a bigger picture. I was completely horrified. How the hell could this be happening???!!! I wondered. I then found out that 2 other planes had also suffered as part of this unholy attack. I prayed for the souls of those whose lives were lost, for those still missing & for their families.
I have a tattoo that says " Never Surrender" reminding me, like that day always will, that no matter what happens in this world, don't ever let anything destroy your strength! I know I will Never Forget...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Food Obsession

Well Dear Readers I must share with you my ultimate food passion...none other than Chocolate! Ah that sinful,creamy,dreamy goodness...what could be better? I realized long ago that chocolate & I were destined to be together forever...Godiva, Perugina, Ghirardelli, Lindt...just the smell is enough to drive me crazy! I must say I think I have more recipes involving my favorite ingredient than I do for anything else. From time to time, I will be sharing some of my most treasured yummy recipes for this luscious treat with you and I hope you get as much pleasure from them as I do. I am going to begin our chocolate journey with my all time favorite chocolate dessert...the souffle. Readers, I beg you please don't be intimidated by that word! People have this notion that souffles are so daunting to make when in fact they are so easy. They just need a little patience & trust me this is one thing that will reward you from the first bite! Light & airy, this beautiful souffle makes you feel like you're eating a chocolate cloud :) I can go on and on about my sweet obsession but I'll save it for another post. This recipe has never, until now been given to anyone! I hope you will all try it with the ones you love and please let me know what you think!


Chocolate Souffle:

Ingredients:

1/3 c sugar plus more for sprinkling
5 oz. Bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 lg. Egg yolks at room temperature
6 lg. Egg whites at room temperature

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 375. Generously butter a 1 1/2qt(5 1/2-6 cups) souffle dish and sprinkle with sugar knocking out the excess.
2) Melt chocolate in a double boiler* stirring until smooth.
3) Remove chocolate from heat & stir in egg yolks. Mixture will stiffen.
4) Beat egg whites in a clean, cold metal bowl with a pinch of salt at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add 1/3c sugar a little at a time continuing to beat at high speed until stiff peaks form.
5) Stir 1 cup of beaten whites into chocolate to lighten mixture.
6) Add mixture to remaining whites folding gently but thoroughly.
7) Spoon into prepared souffle dish and run your thumb around the inside edge of dish touching the batter.
8) Bake in the center of oven until puffed and crusted on top but still slightly jiggly in center. Between 24-26 minutes.

*You can use a metal bowl set over simmering water as a double boiler being sure bowl does not touch water*

Serve warm with whipped cream & Enjoy!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

SUMMER BBQ

Hello Readers!
    Well the time is upon us for my annual Summer BBQ! This year, it happens to coincide with my father's 60th birthday. The menu this year is pretty awesome-marinated flank steak,teriyaki chicken & pineapple kebabs,sausage & peppers & lots of other yummy goodies! One of the things I'm looking forward to the most is my Aunt Cheryl's Buffalo Chicken dip-it is INCREDIBLE!! Creamy & spicy but not overwhelming. It really is one of the best additions to any party(or anytime you feel like making it!) It takes no time to make so I've decided to share the recipe with you all. Let me know what you think :)


AUNT CHERYL'S BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese softened
2 cans 9.75 oz or larger chunk chicken, drained. (I usually use the large cans from Costco and they are about 12 oz.)
1/2 c ranch dressing (can use blue cheese too) I always use ranch.
1/2 c crumbled blue cheese  (small container from deli is about 6 oz)
1/2 c hot sauce

I also add any shredded cheese I have in the refrigerator; ie: cheddar, mozzarella an add to mixture.  Also can put cheese on top.  This recipe is fool proof, no matter what you add, it taste great.  

Combine all ingredients & Bake at 350 until hot & bubbling. About 20 minutes

Monday, August 19, 2013

Carb Junkie!

Readers, I'm sure many of you can agree that a great pasta is one of the best things you can eat! I am a bona-fide pasta & potatoe junkie! I can eat them every day(I don't but I could!)! I had such a craving today for marinara sauce so I whipped up my quick & easy sauce which was absolutely wonderful over spaghetti :) This sauce is truly versatile too which is a plus...it can be transformed into 2 other sauces! Vodka sauce is one of my all time faves & most people don't realize how easy it is to make! Jarred sauces, even tho convenient, are so expensive! This sauce will definitely save you some money at the supermarket which is always great. My Grandmother & Mother were the greatest cooks I've known & I can still taste their Sunday gravies but I have never had any luck with trying to replicate them(always the case-never comes out like Mom's!). I came up with this recipe that will satisfy anyone's pasta craving-Italian or not :)
If there is ever a recipe you'd like me to feature here please drop me a note. If you try any of my recipes I'd love to hear your thoughts! Buon Appetito!
Quick & Easy Pasta Sauce: (For 1lb pasta)
Ingredients:
1 can crushed tomatoes(I use Cento)
4 cloves garlic,minced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/4c chicken stock
Directions:
1) Heat 12" skillet over medium heat. Add oil & butter.
2) When oil is hot, add onion & garlic. Saute until soft but not brown stirring often. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Season with salt & pepper.
3) Add tomatoes. Raise heat & bring to bubble. Add chicken stock to get to your desired thickness. (Most of the time I don't even add it since I like a thick sauce). Season with salt & pepper.
4) Reduce heat to low & simmer as long as it takes to cook your pasta.
5) Add some chopped fresh basil & serve.

Variations:

Amatriciana Sauce: 
1)Before sauteing onion & garlic, saute 3oz. diced pancetta in 1Tbsp oil until brown but not crisp. Drain on paper towel & reserve the oil. Continue with recipe as directed. In step 3,return the pancetta to the sauce. Serve with your favorite pasta.

Vodka Sauce
1)Make Amatriciana sauce adding 1/2 c. Vodka after sauteing onion & garlic. When adding the tomatoes, increase chicken stock to 1/2 cup. Simmer sauce for 20 minutes. When ready to serve, add 1/2c heavy cream & bring to bubble for 1 minute. Then add basil & toss with pasta

Friday, August 16, 2013

COMFY :)

Good Evening to you all! I was just sitting here reading a magazine (of course it was a cooking mag) and it got me thinking of comfort food. You know all those yummy feel good foods like the classic fried chicken and macaroni & cheese. Those happen to be 2 of my favorite foods in the universe! They would be my last meal on Earth if I had a choice. I got a serious craving for mac & cheese the other day so I had to make it-wouldn't you know for the first time I had none left! No yummy leftovers for lunch the next day :( I decided to share my favorite comfort food recipe with all of you today...this is a first since I have never given this recipe out before. I hope you will all let me know what you think. What are your favorite comfort foods? I'd love to know all about them...share your recipes too!

Regina's Favorite Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:
1 1/4c. shredded cheddar
1 1/4c. shredded mozzarella
1c. whole milk
1 1/2c. heavy cream
2Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
3oz. pancetta,diced
1lb. cavatappi pasta

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350
2) Saute pancetta until browned but not crisp. Remove from pan & drain on paper towel.
3)In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, melt butter & sprinkle flour over.
Cook flour 1-2 minutes.
4) Add milk & cream until thickened. it will coat the back of a wooden spoon (you should be able to make a line with your finger thru it).
5) Off the heat add 1 cup of each cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt & pepper to your taste. Return pancetta to cheese sauce.
6) Cook pasta 6 minutes & drain well. Combine pasta with cheese sauce.
7) Spray a 1 1/2qt casserole dish with cooking spray. Place mixture evenly in prepared dish and bake covered for 25 minutes.
8) Remove foil & add the remaining cheeses over top & bake uncovered until cheese is melted & lightly browned.

ENJOY!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

IT'S BURGER TIME!

Hope you're all having a great day! I just got home from work...yummy simple burgers & grilled potatoes for dinner! 
I dont think there is anything better than a perfect burger (except maybe chocolate!). I love getting fantastic tips from people on how they make theirs. I keep mine nice & simple...a little salt, pepper, garlic powder & onion powder. The spice company McCormick has also made burger seasonings which are great as well. Once in a while I also throw in McCormick's Montreal steak seasoning which I adore. Some people think I'm a little crazy with my burger because I put mayo on mine! Yes, you read right, mayo! It gives it a great richness & cuts the acidity of the ketchup. Ketchup, mayo, pickles, onion, bacon & cheese make up my favorite " heart attack on a bun" :) I know it seems like a lot but for the amount of times I treat myself to a burger its all good. 
What are your favorite tips for the perfect burger? I'd love to know!

My Perfect Burger
Ingredients:
1 1/2lbs ground chuck (I like 85/20)
2T garlic powder
2T onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Lightly oil your grill & heat to medium
Combine the meat & seasonings in a bowl. Mix lightly but thoroughly creating an indentation in the center(this will help the burger cook evenly).
Place patties on the grill & cook over direct heat about 5-7 minutes per side for medium (less for rare-med.rare).
Test for doneness you like.
I do like to let mine rest for 5 minutes under foil to insure my burger stays juicy.

Let me know what you think! I leave you with the words of Wolfgang Puck..."Live, Love and Eat!"

Monday, August 12, 2013

INTRO

Hello and welcome to At Home with the Groovy Girl! I am Regina Dineen, a self- professed domestic & a serious food & wine junkie! I am very passionate about cooking, baking, and just being creative. I have a business making jewelry and other things but cooking is definitely my first love. Here on my blog you will find tips, recipes and all sorts of goodies. I will also be happy to answer questions if you have any. I hope you will follow me and make yourself at home with the Groovy Girl!