2 RECIPES: Alfredo Sauce and Italian Nachos

Please forgive me, for I neglected to take pictures of all the players for this post… but you can catch up easily. Come with me…

We’re going to make italian nachos… and for that we need some grilled chicken, alfredo sauce and nacho toppings. You will want to make these…

My hero-of-a-hubby and I first enjoyed these in Dallas at a Johnny Carino’s restaurant… and we fell in love, with the nachos that is (as we were already in love with each other – obviously). We were in Dallas for my brother’s wedding… and jealous they had a Carino’s and we didn’t.

Lucky us, they eventually opened a Carino’s restaurant near us in Southern California and we got to go back and enjoy it again and again… to the point that I finally started making them at home. Sadly they recently closed their location near us… but we don’t mind, I’m making my twist on our favorite Carino dishes in my own kitchen now…

Here’s how we do the italian nachos. Start with wonton wrappers, cut in half to form triangles. (I used about half a package, or 30-40 wonton wrappers for two large dinner plates of nachos.)

Once the canola oil is heated up to frying temperatures then you can start frying the wonton wrappers, several at a time. Fry until lightly browned and then flip them over. With a spider remove them to a dish lined with paper towels (to soak up any extra oil). Continue with all of the wonton wrappers until they are all fried.

While you’re working on the wonton wrappers grill up some chicken breasts. You’ll see that I cut the chicken breasts in half. They cook a bit faster this way… and that suits me just fine.

Once they were on the grill I sprinkled them with garlic salt and black pepper. They cooked for about 3 minutes on each side… once they got flipped over they cooked for about 2 minutes. Nice and fast, eh?!

In the meantime, most of the wonton wrappers are ready… every now and then I sprinkled them with some kosher salt. And then they just sat over here and waited for their nacho destiny.

In the meantime I started the quick and easy alfredo sauce. This uses a block of cream cheese, half a stick of butter, parmesan cheese, milk, nutmeg, and kosher salt/pepper.

It’s as easy as this… cube the butter and cream cheese. Place the cubes in a medium sized saucepan (over medium low heat), add milk and parmesan cheese and stir until everything is melted and smooth.

Add the kosher salt, black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Allow the sauce to sit over low heat, stirring every few minutes, until you’re ready to use it.

Tonight my hero-of-a-hubby was helping with the prep work… see?! There are his manly hands slicing up some cute lil’ pepperoncinis… yum!!!

And to give him a bit more credit… he also did 2 loads of dishes tonight (lucky me!), prepped most of the misc ingredients (also known as “mise en place”), manned the frying wonton wrappers, and looked over my shoulder each step of the way! We had fun doing this together tonight! (I’m one lucky girl!!!)

Lastly we begin the assembly… let’s work on the first layer of “chips”, sliced chicken, alfredo sauce and toppings of choice…

And we finish it off with just one more layer of all of these good things…

He likes only a few pepperoncinis and black olives, and no tomatoes…

But me? Load ’em up! I love the pepperoncinis, black olives, diced tomatoes… and I typically like cripier chips. So we made our own plates…

Johnny Carino’s also offered them with crumbled italian sausage, which we did not use tonight… but it only makes these nachos better. There’s always next time…

In the meantime… here’s the recipe for the alfredo… enjoy!!!

Favorite Alfredo Sauce
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

Ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into small squares
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup butter, cut into small squares
½ cup milk
Pinch of salt, black pepper and nutmeg

Instructions
Place medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Combine cream cheese, Parmesan, butter and milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Leftovers freeze well.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

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RECIPE: reduced balsamic glaze


You are looking at a baked salmon fillet glazed with a balsamic reduction, served over a simple Israeli couscous. YUM!

It’s almost sweet, it’s rich and savory… it’s the perfect topping for salmon (grilled or baked or broiled or poached), for chicken (baked or grilled or bbq’d), or to use as a dip for grilled bread… and next I’m going to enjoy it drizzled over a plate of tomato and mozzarella slices.

Here’s what I started with… balsamic vinegar, spicy brown mustard, sherry, honey, garlic and salt/pepper. Tonight I used this on baked salmon fillets… a perfect combination!

Over medium-low heat I sauteed the garlic (here I added a small bead of canola oil to the pan).

After two or three minutes I added the rest of the sauce ingredients: sherry, honey, mustard, balsamic vinegar and salt/pepper. I gave it a good whisk… and watched for it to start it’s gentle bubbling.

Within about 5 minutes it had reduced slightly and thickened up a bit (unfortunately I neglected to get a picture of the bubbling action)… so I drizzled it over the salmon that had been waiting so patiently.

And since it goes well with these flavors I diced up some fresh stems of oregano (from my own herb garden) and sprinkled it on top of the salmon before baking the fillets.


Before serving up the salmon I drizzled just a tad more sauce over the top (and over the couscous as well, OF COURSE)… and then asked the world to be quiet for at least 3 minutes while I enjoyed the best part of the day…

 

Confession: I have been a bit intimidated to try this sauce at home. But after going out on a limb and trying it for myself now I’m slightly upset at myself for not being more adventurous in my kitchen… so, so, so good!

Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sherry (or white wine)
1 tablespoon honey (or agave nectar sweetener)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
In a small saucepan over medium heat, lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray, sauté garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add sherry, honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard and salt/pepper to taste. Whisk together and allow to simmer, uncovered, for about 3 minutes. Whisk every minute or so and allow to reduce slightly. Sauce will thicken slightly.

Immediately top fish or chicken and cook meat according to instructions. Brush additional sauce on meat after being cooked . Also great over tomato/mozzarella salad, as a dip for grilled bread… etc.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Tart Cranberry-Orange Sauce

This is THE cranberry sauce you want on your Thanksgiving table this week! I promise… you can thank me later!

A huge shout out to bon apetit magazine for gifting us with yet another recipe (from several Thanksgivings ago)… for which we are thankful!!!

Started with zesting… I love zesting…

Over medium-high heat, bring everything to a boil…

Let it all hang out for a while… then reduce heat…

And stir a little longer… allow it to cool down and add the rest of the orange juice.

Enjoy warm or cooled… with or without turkey. At this point it doesn’t really matter.

Good luck getting much of this sauce to the table on Thanksgiving… you should just make a double batch.

Tart Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Recipe courtesy bon apetit

Ingredients
4 cups fresh cranberries (about 1 pound)
1 cup orange juice, divided
3/4 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
4 teaspoons orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Instructions
Combine cranberries, 3/4 cup orange juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, lemon juice, lemon peel and allspice in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until berries burst and liquids start to thicken, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool. Mix in remaining 1/4 cup orange juice. (Can be made 4 days ahead. Cover and chill.) Discard cinnamon sticks, transfer to bowl, and serve.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Swedish Meatballs with Dill Sauce

Oh, I’m speechless. THIS made my entire week… I’ve been calling on the flavors of my childhood (I can remember Gramma H making her version of this dish quite often) and researching other flavor ideas so I could update it a bit.

Here’s where I started…

In a large bowl I combined everything except for the bread crumbs…

… and I mixed it all up with the best tools in the kitchen!

With an ice cream scooper I made 1″ balls, rolled them semi-tightly in wet hands (to prevent the meat from sticking to my hands) and then rolled them in panko bread crumbs…

… and started the assembling line process. Oh how I love the assembly line process. (Seriously – it makes so much sense to my brain!)

Several recipes I read said it was a good idea to chill the meatballs before baking them off. But I didn’t (I simply didn’t have the time)… and I think they turned out ok.

So, as they baked I moved on to the dill sauce…

We don’t have fresh dill around here very often. But everytime I buy it I think to myself “Why don’t I use this more?! It’s so fresh smelling and yummy and kind of inspirational!”

It’s easy to work with… you can just pull it right off the stem and there isn’t even much chopping to do because it’s so fine already. (And the freshness comes out even more once you chop into it!)

While I was thinking I chopped it up and put together all the players of the sauce…

The sauce comes together rather easily… starting with a basic roux.

Then I moved on to the other parts of the sauce… starting with chicken broth, a little at a time.

Once that was all incorporated I threw in the other ingredients… and gave it another whisk.

But then it was a little too thick for my preference, so I added a touch more chicken broth.

In the meantime… the egg noodles had finished cooking and the meatballs were done. So I started plating up…

Just LOOK at those beautifully crunchy and flavorful meatballs!!! And the house smells SOOOO good right about now!

Here you have it… egg noodles, with a little sauce drizzled on top. Add the meatballs and a little more sauce.

Oh HECK YEAH!

(pardon me… I’ve been looking forward to this all week!)

OR… you can just eat them like this…

The onions in the meatballs and that dill sauce compliment each other so well. And the CR-CR-CRUNCH on the outside of the meatball. WOW!

But don’t take my word for it… try it for yourself! You can thank me later…

Swedish Meatballs with Dill Sauce
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

Ingredients
1 pound lean ground beef
½ medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 egg
½ tablespoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
pinch ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs

Dill Sauce
½ cup butter
1/8 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Pinch ground nutmeg
Kosher salt/pepper to taste

Instructions
In a large bowl combine beef, onion, egg, allspice, nutmeg, salt/pepper and heavy cream. Mix until well combined. With wet hand, shape mixture into 1″ balls. Roll balls in panko bread crumbs & place side by side in a shallow baking pan; cover & chill for at least 2 hours. You should have about 20-25 meatballs.

Bake at 375 for 30-35 min., or until brown – turn the meatballs after 15 min.

Melt half stick of butter in a large pan; stir in flour; gradually stir in broth. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, till sauce bubbles & thickens. Stir in sour cream, ground nutmeg and dill. Add kosher salt/pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Simple homemade caramel sauce…

that’ll make ya wanna slap ya grandma!

And I’m not kidding…

You won’t believe how simple this is…

5 ingredients: butter, half and half, kosher salt, brown sugar and vanilla extract.

And a sauce pan, some heat and a whisk!

It’s really that simple…

It quickly transforms… yes, this quickly!

See?! (At this point, I’ve been in the kitchen less than 3 minutes!)

One more thing… some vanilla extract. (It’s my personal opinion that if it has vanilla extract in it… I’m going to like it!)

Thank you, once again, Pioneer Woman… you’ve made my life a little better today! Again!

(Editor’s note: no, the whisk in the background is NOT set aside for me to lick every last drop of buttery-sugary goodness off it … not even later! And if you believe that… )

OK yeah, forget the whisk. I’m going in with a spoon!

(And I may or may have not gone in for another dip of the spoon before I put it in the refrigerator to cool down for several hours.)

And then it was time for dessert.

My hubby has been asking for brownies all week… but he didn’t know about the caramel!

(Cha-ching! Extra points for me!)

Wait – can I see that again?!

Yeah, that’s what I thought… it’s time to go sit down now. I’m going to have to call for the curtain now.

And now for the recipe… on her website you’ll see that she serves the caramel sauce over an ice cream pie: Ice Cream Pie with Easy Caramel Sauce

But here’s the recipe for just the sauce… mmmmm!!!

PW’s Easy Caramel Sauce
Recipe courtesy Pioneer Woman

Ingredients
4 tablespoons Butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed (always packed)
½ cup half-and-half
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

Instructions
Mix butter, brown sugar, half & half, and salt in a saucepan over medium low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until thicker. Add vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off heat and pour sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until cold.

Then I let it set out a little bit before I put it on top of our dessert. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Garlic-Cilantro Chimichurri sauce

Tried my hand, for the first time, at chimichurri sauce. And to be honest with you, I’m not even sure it’s a “chimichurri”, by definition. But it was sure yummy along with our steaks!

Take a trip with me …

Here’s what I started with…

First I chopped up the ingredients … just a rough chop. Since the ingredients get zippped with my immersion blender (purchased at a local thrift store!!! and yes, it works great!!!) I didn’t have to spend too much time chopping.

Garlic first…

And into the large mixing cup … waiting for the next layer of flavors.

Moving along… to the shallot. Oh do I love my shallots! What is a “shallot”? What do they taste like? (I’m glad you asked!!!) To my taste, they resemble a mix between a red onion and garlic. But they have a more delicate taste…

And, into the bowl…

Next comes the cilantro. No need to pull the leaves from the stems… it’s all going to whir together nicely. And there is so much flavor in those tender stems.

Can you guess what’s next?! Keep throwing it into the bowl… and some oregano. I think I used one teaspoon.

A little lime juice…

A little olive oil…

And our first whir with the immersion blender…

A little kosher salt and cracked black pepper…

And some more whirring…

The immersion blender whirs in some air… and that’s what turned it a lighter shade of green. Some of those air bubbles pop out while the sauce sits. And sitting is what you want it to do for a few hours before you enjoy it. So stick it in the refrigerator… and pull it back out at dinner to top your steaks, or your pork chops or even your tacos.

It’s a good idea to taste it before pouring it over your food… it may need a little more salt or a little more olive oil mixed in. It’s all to your personal taste.

This may have been my first chimichurri, but I think there will be more on the horizon! What’s YOUR favorite version of this sauce? What ingredients do you put in your sauce? And what do you pour it on?

enjoy your time in the kitchen…