April 1, 2014

Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas with Green Chile Cream Sauce

I'm hoping it won't be too long before I get to post again.  I'm getting a new kitchen in the upcoming weeks, which I believe will leave me with only a refrigerator for the duration.  Hopefully the process will be finished by April 12th, and I'll be able to post from a beautiful, brand new kitchen!  With that being said, I figured I'd go out with a BANG, and share a very fun and flavorful recipe.  Give your everyday enchiladas a huge enhancement by using lump crab meat and fresh shrimp.  But the flavor combination doesn't stop there -- I also included some shiitake mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, green onions, and great seasonings.  Read on to find out what's going on in these Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas!

What You'll Need:
  • 2 tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, diced medium
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (whites and greens) 
  • 6 tbsp. green chiles, finely chopped, divided
  • 3/4 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 lb. fresh lump crab meat
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. dry white wine
  • 1 medium tomato, diced small
  • 3 cups Monterey Jack cheese
  • 8 multi-grain tortillas, fajita-style size
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and Pepper

1.  In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp. of butter and saute garlic for a minute or two.  Drop in the shiitake mushrooms and half the green onions, cook until soft.  Add 2 tbsp. of the green chiles and all the shrimp to the pan, and saute until the shrimp turns slightly pink.  After that happens, add your crab meat to the pan to marry all flavors.  Zest and juice lemon in the pan and season with 1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Allow all of your components to come together by adding the white wine, and reduce until all the wine is gone (you don't want a soggy filling).  Add diced tomato to the pan and remove from heat.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, put all hot ingredients from pan plus 1 1/2 cups of the Monterey Jack cheese.  Fold together until the cheese melts slightly, trying not to break up the crab lumps.  One-by-one, fill your tortillas and roll.  Place them seam-side down in a baking dish. 

3.  In the same skillet, add heavy cream, 1 cup of cheese, the rest of the green onions, the remaining green chiles, and the rest of the Old Bay seasoning.  Season well with salt and cracked pepper.  Whisk until smooth and pour over the enchiladas.  Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly.  Enjoy!

March 24, 2014

Italian Antipasto Spread

Last weekend, my mom and sister came down to Maryland!  They came to my house in Baltimore, and after about an hour, we piled in the car and drove to Crofton to see a very old and dear friend, Lizzie, and her family, along with our cousin Cara and her family.  As any typical Italian would, I consider Lizzie a cousin.  I've known her since I was a little girl, and even though it's been years since we've seen each other, we seemed to pick up right where we left off.  Liz is a fellow Italian, and when I was deciding what to make to bring down to her house, it seemed only obvious to go with these flavors.  Making an Antipasto Platter was just too ordinary for me, so I figured, why not bring all of those flavors together and create something new?  Voila, an antipasto spread!  Just think of it as a new version of Italian Hummus.  We used sliced baguette to spread this dip over, however, a few days later, I made a panini and slathered some on the inside of the bread before grilling - it was heavenly!  Create this spread for sliced bread, dollop on pizza before it goes into the oven, enjoy on hot and cold sandwiches, and so much more!  Enjoy.

What You'll Need:
  • 1/4 lb. capicola
  • 1/4 lb. salami
  • 1/4 lb. prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/2 cup Spanish olives
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 16 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil
  • 1-2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 8 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • 16 oz. ricotta cheese

Pretty simple stuff here:  Rough chop all ingredients.  The meat should be at a small dice.  Put first 10 ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until the meat has had a chance to break down, then finish with the processor on the "on" setting, while streaming in good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Add oil until spread has become the consistency you'd like.  In a large mixing bowl, fold together goat cheese and ricotta.  Then, fold all ingredients from processor in with cheese.  Serve with a sliced baguette toasted in the oven!

 And thank you, Carmine's of D.C., for the best lasagna I've ever tasted!

March 20, 2014

Vegetable Cheddar Quinoa

 Gluten-free and meat-free, this dish doesn't need either ingredient to make it shine.  Accompanied by dry white wine, cheddar cheese, and a really good quality Parmigiano Reggiano, this semi-healthy recipe can act as an entree, side dish, or even a quick snack!  Read on to find out how to copy:

What You'll Need:
  • 1 crown broccoli, stems cut
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. good quality Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1.  Start by roasting the broccoli.  Toss broccoli florets, 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, and 1 tbsp. Parmigiano.  Roast in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes, until broccoli is tender. 

2.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and water.  Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer until the quinoa becomes fluffy and water has cooked out.  While the quinoa is cooking, in a large skillet, heat the rest of the olive oil and add garlic, bell pepper and onion.  Season to taste and cook until tender and onions are translucent.  Add tomatoes (I like to add them later so they stay as close to form as possible and they don't become mushy), roasted broccoli from the oven, and white wine.  Simmer until wine reduces.

3.  Finally, add the cooked quinoa to the pan.  Turn off the heat and add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and the rest of the Parmigiano.  Fold cheese through the quinoa, not allowing it to set, or it will clump.  Transfer quinoa to a baking dish.  Sprinkle with the rest of the cheddar cheese and transfer to the oven.  Cook simply until cheese melts and bubbles.  Enjoy!

March 18, 2014

Feckin' Corned Beef and Beer Braised Cabbage Empanadas!

Still Italian.  Just so we're clear. 

Monday night, St. Patrick's Day, Bucky and I were out for a few drinks, and this recipe came to me after seeing everyone eating the Corned Beef and Cabbage special.  A lot of the time, I try to take everyday, run-of-the-mill recipes and turn them into something with more of a twist, and that's what I did here.  And, in true Christina fashion, I am a-day-late-and-a-dollar-short with this St. Paddy's Day recipe, but lucky for the Irish, they're sure to enjoy this all year long!  This recipe looks like it's long and complicated, but it's really not.  I'm just long-winded ;-)

What You'll Need:
  • 1 head green cabbage, small-medium sized
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 5 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. spicy brown mustard
  • 12 oz. Irish beer (any kind, those Irish folk don't discriminate against beer)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 large white potatoes
  • Paprika
  • Onion Powder
  • 1/2 lb. corned beef, cubed (just ask your deli to cut you a big chunk to dice yourself)
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • Liberal amount of cracked pepper
  • 10 "discos" - Goya brand individual empanada dough

Prep first! There are a lot of little steps here, and it will be easier to transition when everything is prepped in front of you!

1.  Prep the cabbage and apple.  Halve the head of cabbage and remove core and outside, loose leaves.  Slice the cabbage width and lengthwise to get a small shred.  Peel and core the apples.  Slice into small matchstick-sized pieces.  Mix the cabbage and apples in a large bowl.

2.  Prep the braising liquid.  Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, 3 tbsp. olive oil, mustard, and beer.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

3.  Prep the potatoes:  Using a hand grater, shred the potatoes.  Toss with liberal amounts of salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder.  Set aside.

4.  Grab two large skillets and split the cubed corned beef and garlic between the two pans.  Season with a healthy helping of cracked pepper and add 1 tbsp. of olive oil to each pan.  (The corned beef is cooked and safe to eat straight from the deli.  Searing it in the pan will create a flavorful crust on the outside and will add extra flavor to the other things you are adding to the pan.)  Sear the corned beef until it gets a deep pink color on the outside.

5.  Toss the cabbage mix with the braising liquid to coat.  Add all of that to one of the pans with the corned beef.  Mix to incorporate, cover, and braise on medium-low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the cabbage has cooked down and is tender with a nice bite.  Add the potatoes to the other pan and sear until cooked through.  These will also form a browned "crust" on the outside.

6.  When both cabbage and potatoes are finished cooking, drain the cabbage and discard braising liquid (Or, save it and use it as a stock for bean soup!)  Mix the contents of both pans together in a large mixing bowl and incorporate.

7.  Bring the "discos" to room temperature and stretch slightly to make it easier to fill.  Fill the middle of each with a generous helping of beef and cabbage mix.  Seal the ends with a fork and brush the ends with water to stick.  Repeat until all dough is gone.  Set on a large baking sheet atop a wire rack.  For a golden brown crust, spray with cooking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 400-degree oven until crisp and golden.  Serve alongside beer mustard!!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

March 14, 2014

Ham and Three-Cheese Mac

This is my fourth attempt at Macaroni and Cheese in the last month or two.  I don't know what my problem was: the first one tasted like straight flour, the second was too watery, the third - just, no.  Oddly enough, the recipe that worked best, as you'll see, I used beef broth instead of milk/cream.  There is just something about the flavor profile that the beef broth brings out.  I figured, since this meal isn't vegetarian anyway, using the beef broth wouldn't be a problem.  However, if you are looking for a vegetarian version of mac and cheese, simply omit the ham, and instead of beef broth, go ahead and use 2% milk or light cream.  You'll also notice I used cornstarch instead of flour.  The cornstarch, in my opinion, makes your cheese sauce shinier and more velvety!  Let me know how you feel about the beef broth over the milk, the cornstarch over the flour, and as always, enjoy!

What You'll Need:
  • 1 pound pasta shells
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 1/2 cups cheese trio (pepper jack, swiss, cheddar), cubed
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 cup cooked ham, diced

1.  Start by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta shells according to package directions.

2.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, whisk butter and cornstarch until incorporated and lumps are gone.  Pour in beef broth and whisk to incorporate.  When the mix starts to thicken slightly, add the cheese in small increments, whisking as you add.  When cheese has melted through, stir in pepper, onion powder, and ham.  Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes until flavors marry.

3.  When the pasta is al dente, drain completely.  Return to the hot pot and pour the ham and cheese sauce over.  Stir well to incorporate.  Transfer to a pyrex dish and let rest for about five minutes.  Sprinkle with a little extra cheddar cheese and cracked pepper.  Enjoy!