Mini Beef Wellingtons

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Hi everyone. Today I bring to you beef wellingtons, kind of. You see, the idea of a beef wellington (filet wrapped in pastry dough) is basically all kinds of amazing. I mean what’s not to like? Meat and pastries. So I have always thought about making beef wellingtons because they are so good, but the problem I always run into is that I don’t like mushrooms….like at all. They are some of my least favorite foods and are a key ingredient in this dish. Also, I didn’t want to make big ones as a main dish. Not sure why, but I was feeling the appetizer route. That led me to this recipe, which still included mushrooms, but I decided to change those out. I replaced the mushrooms with grilled onions and they turned out amazing. Obviously if you are a traditionalist, or a mushroom lover, go for the original, but the onions as a substitute worked just as well in my opinion.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (can use dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 16oz package frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 1 lb trimmed beef tenderloin, cut into 24 cubes (about 3/4 inch each)
  • 1/3 cup Boursin cheese (I found a Boursin cheese with herbs at the market)

Directions

  • In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onions (or mushrooms) with rosemary, salt and pepper until cooked
  • Roll puff pastry out and cut into 3 in. squares (mine ended up being more triangles due to the way the dough was shaped)
  • Place one beef cube in the middle of the pastry square and add a pinch of salt
  • Top each cube with some cheese and some onions (or mushrooms)
  • Brush the edges of the square with egg wash and fold the dough over the cube to seal it
  • After you’ve completed this with all of the cubes, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash (I found it easier to just dunk and roll them in the egg wash)
  • Bake for ~9 minutes at 450 degrees, until the pastry is golden brown
  • Let sit for ~5 minutes and serve!

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Shiny Crispy Chicken Wings

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My mom gave me a Chinese cookbook a while back, but I have never actually opened it or used it. Now I cook a lot of run of the mill Chinese food, using a lot of pre-made sauces thanks to Lee Kum Kee. However, this time I decided to open the book and try a chicken recipe. This recipe is called “Shiny Chicken” and I was hesitant because of the name, but it actually turned out pretty well. It can be used as an appetizer, or serve it with some rice and call it a main dish.  However you want to do it! Have a crack at it and let me know what you think.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 chicken, or chicken wings/legs
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce, separated
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • t tsp sesame oil
  • oil for frying

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Directions

  • Wash and dry the chicken
  • Rub the chicken with 1 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • Combine the green onion, ginger, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce in a bowl and set aside
  • Heat a wok and add the oil to fry (or use a deep fryer if you got one)
  • Fry the chicken wings until skin is golden and crispy (and the meat is cooked)
  • Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and feast!

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Tropical Chili Shrimp Appetizer

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So the other day I decided to make a light appetizer using some shrimp I had, but wasn’t enough for a meal.  This is a recipe that I made up as a conglomerate of some other recipes I saw while flipping through a magazine and thought I would try and combine aspects of each that I thought would be interesting. It turned out pretty good and refreshing, which is not something I would normally say about a shrimp dish, but it really was. It is also super easy and takes very little work to put together and only 1 pan, which is always a plus.  Try it out and let me know how it goes!

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Recipe:

  • 8 oz shrimp
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pinch of red chili flakes
  • Juice of 1 lime/lemon
  • 1 Mango, cubed
  • 1 Avocado, cubed
  • toothpicks

Instructions

  • Wash and pat dry the shrimp
  • In a bowl, mix the shrimp with chili powder, salt, pepper, a pinch of red chili flakes, and garlic
  • In a pan over medium heat, cook the shrimp until they turn orange/pink, and add the lime juice as you cook
  • Remove them from the pan and using a toothpick, stick a shrimp on top of 1 mango cube and 1 avocado cube

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Crab Cups

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I know that I said that I would get back to doing this now that my life has settled down again, but for some reason, I just haven’t. Well, I am going to say it again and hope it sticks this time.  I recently made a crab appetizer that I have done a few times now with the help of Jenn.  It was really her idea about a year ago to make these for a dinner party, but we ate them without taking pictures, so there’s no record of that.  Coincidentally, I also made them for a dinner party this go around and took pics for good measure.  Now, they aren’t the greatest pictures (and there is no plating) as I was running late to the party (fashionably late of course). We originally got the recipe from here.  And each time, I tweaked it a little to fit my needs better.  They are definitely easy to make and so far, both dinner parties enjoyed them a lot.  My colleague actually just asked me for the recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg of flour tortillas, cut into drinking glass rim-sized circles
  • 1 8oz pkg soft cream cheese
  • 2 (6 ounce) can crab meat, drained (original recipe calls for 1, but c’mon…)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch paprika

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Directions:

  • *this is where I made some tweaks* The original recipe called for biscuit dough, which I have tried and it just turned out too doughy and took away from the whole dish.  This time I tried little circles of flour tortillas, which turned out to be a lot better
  • Brush the tortilla circles with a little bit of melter butter or olive oil and press into a muffin/cupcake pan
  • Bake the tortillas at 375 degrees for ~10 min or until golden brown and crispy
  • At the same time, mix the cream cheese, crab meat, mayo, parmesan, cheddar cheese, green onion, and Worcestershire sauce in a mixing bowl
  • Place a spoonful of the mixture into each tortilla bowl (still in the muffin pan) and garnish with a dash of paprika
  • Bake at 375 degrees for ~15-18 minutes
  • Take them out and enjoy with some friends/impress some coworkers

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Stuffed Bell Peppers

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So the other day I decided to try something that a year ago I would never have done – a stuffed bell pepper.  1) because I never stuffed anything before and 2) I never really ate whole bell peppers – just wasn’t my thing.  I can’t even tell you what got me thinking to do this, I just decided to I guess…weird.  It was a simple meal with limited ingredients and turned out decently.  It could also be an appetizer now that I think about it. Could have probably used more cheese and salt though.

Ingredients

  • Large bell peppers, halved
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 cups cooked rice (brown/white/your choice)
  • Shredded cheese of your choice (amount of choice too)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paprika

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Instructions

  • In a large sauté pan, add a little oil and cook the ground pork
  • Salt and pepper generously and continue to cook
  • Add the cooked rice into the pan and continue to mix and cook (you don’t have to add all the rice, your choice)
  • Add more salt and pepper as needed
  • Place the bell pepper halves on a large baking sheet
  • Fill the halves with the pork/rice mix to desired fill
  • Top with as much cheese as you want
  • Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes
  • Top with a dash of paprika, and then eat it, duh

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Carne Asada Tacos

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I don’t know about you, but I love me some Mexican food – tacos, burritos, tortas, I’ll eat them all.  But tacos (like those $1 ones you get from a cart) have a special place in my heart.  With that being said, I decided to try my hand at making some carne asada tacos (turns out its more expensive to make than to buy probably).  They actually turned out pretty good though.

Ingredients for asada:

  • 1 lb skirt steak (I cut them into pieces that would fit on my grill)
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 handful finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 serrano chile, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for salsa

  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 white onion
  • handful of cilantro
  • salt

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Other ingredients:

  • tortillas
  • white onion, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a large ziplock bag and let it marinate for ~30-45 minutes
  • On an oiled grill over medium heat, cook the steak until your desired doneness (I like med-med rare)
  • let rest for 10 minutes, then cut into slices
  • Meanwhile, put the ingredients for the salsa in a food processor and pulse until liquidy
  • Heat the tortillas in a slightly oiled pan, place the meat slices on the tortilla
  • top with chopped onions, cilantro, and salsa and enjoy!

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Chili and Cast Iron Corn Bread

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We had the slow cooker out from making the hummus and decided to use it again to make chili. What goes well with chili? Cornbread of course! Corn bread made in a cast iron skillet to be exact. So we put everything in the crock pot before going to work and came home to an apartment filled with the smell of chili, and in no way was that disappointing. Then we whipped up the cornbread and ate a terribly unhealthy, but terribly delicious meal. Got the recipe for the cornbread from here.

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Ingredients for chili (semi made up from a hodgepodge of other recipes Ive seen in the past)

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 3 cans of stewed/diced tomatoes
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onions for serving

Directions

  • In a large pan on medium heat, cook the onions and season with salt until soft
  • Add the garlic and chili powder and stir for a minute
  • Add the beef and cook until brown
  • Drain the majority to almost all of the oil and transfer to a slow cooker
  • Cook the chili in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours

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Ingredients for corn bread

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups finely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

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Directions for corn bread

  • Heat oven to 450 degrees
  • put 2 tbsp butter in a cast iron skillet and set aside, melt the other 6 tbsp of butter in a small dish
  • Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl
  • Whisk eggs in a large bowl until frothy, then mix in the buttermilk
  • Pour egg mix into the flour/cornmeal mix and stir until dry streaks are incorporated (easier if you use a rubber spatula), but careful not to overmix
  • Fold in the melted butter and let stand for 5 minutes
  • When the oven is hot, place the skillet with the 2 tbsp butter in for 5 minutes
  • Remove the pan and coat the bottom of the pan with the melted butter
  • Pour the batter into the skillet and bake until golden (~15 minutes)
  • After removing the pan from the oven, let it rest for about 5 minutes
  • Cut and enjoy

This meal was pretty damn good. It was hearty and nostalgic, but on the downside it lacked any form of real vegetables whatsoever. The chili was pretty oily in the cooker, so before we mixed and served it, I spooned out most of the oil that had risen to the top. I also added a little bit of cornstarch to the chili to thicken it up. The cornbread turned out perfectly, but next time we might add some cheddar cheese to the mix, and maybe some jalapeños too.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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The other day my sister randomly said she was going to make hummus. We all like hummus, but she has never made it before, and actually did not know that chick peas and garbanzo beans were the same thing until this whole process. She got the recipe from the Food Network and made one half a garlic hummus, with the other half being a roasted red pepper hummus.

Ingredients

  • 7 cups water
  • 1 lb dry chickpeas rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/4 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup EVOO

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Directions

  • Place the 7 cups water, chickpeas, and baking soda in a slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours
  • Drain the chickpeas
  • Add the chickpeas, garlic (or roasted red peppers), and kosher salt to a food processor and pulse for ~20 seconds
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl down and pulse again for another ~15-20 seconds
  • Add the lemon juice and 1/4 cup water and pulse for ~20 seconds
  • Add the tahini and pulse for another 20 seconds
  • Drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running
  • Serve with some pita chips and enjoy

Overall, I liked the roasted red pepper hummus better because it had a stronger flavor. We actually went back and put more garlic in the other one to make a bolder flavor. Both were good though, and hummus is healthy right? If not, don’t tell me. Hope you enjoy too!

Crab Cakes

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So I made crab cakes a few times awhile back and have been meaning to make it again and post it here. It took a lot longer than I expected to get around to it, but I finally brought myself to do it (mostly because I happened to have most of the ingredients already on hand). I followed the recipe from here, and they turned out pretty good. They aren’t that hard to make and the most challenging thing is probably trying to keep them together when you put them in the frying pan. Other than that, pretty simple.

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb crab meat (I used canned crab b/c I am cheap and lazy)
  • 1/3 cup crushed Ritz crackers
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Flour, for dusting

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Directions

  • Mix all the ingredients, besides the flour, in a bowl
  • Form the cakes and dust with flour
  • Add oil to large frying pan/skillet and place on medium heat
  • When the oil is hot, add the cakes (being careful to keep their shape) and cook until brown
  • Serve with sauce

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I made a roasted red pepper sauce using jarred roasted red peppers, mayonnaise, and a dash of salt. I placed the ingredients in a food processor and pulsed a few times until the peppers had blended with the mayo. I placed the cakes on a bed of greens and served with the sauce. The crab cakes turned out well, but were a tad on the salty side. This may be due to using canned crab, but next time I will definitely use a touch less salt.  Hope you enjoy!

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Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

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Tonight I decided to make some shrimp lettuce wraps in order to use some left over vegetables from other meals.  I got the recipe from the Food Network and pretty much followed it all the way. This is a simple, tasty, and light dish, which makes for a good appetizer. I just wish they photographed better, but maybe the photography fail lies with me. Either way, here goes.

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Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb medium fresh shrimp, chopped and deveined
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 5 oz water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, cored, cut in 1/2

Instructions

  • In a bowl, mix the lime juice, 2 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, ginger, and garlic
  • Add the shrimp and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 min (I ended up doing all of this in a ziploc bag. Less dishes)
  • In a pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over med-high heat and then add the bell peppers, green onions, and water chestnuts stirring occasionally
  • Add the shrimp and the marinade and cook thoroughly until the shrimp are pink (~3 min)
  • Stir in the last 1tbsp of soy sauce
  • Spoon into the lettuce leaves and enjoy (I used a slotted spoon because the mix can get very watery and messy)
Before Shrimp

Before Shrimp

With Shrimp

With Shrimp

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Overall, it was pretty good and I would definitely make it again. Hope you like it too!