Zucchini Bread


3 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. grated zucchini (peel, cut in half lengthwise and spoon out seeds before grating)
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 325°.  Beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Add zucchini. Add dry ingredients (and nuts if desired). Grease and flour two loaf pans (8 ½” x 4 ½”). Divide batter equally between the two loaf pans. Bake 1 hour or until golden brown.

Beef Tenderloin Filet

Beef is best!  At about $25.00 a pound, tenderloin is the best of the best. Like most people I typically forego the filet for a ribeye or other less expensive cut of meat. Those steaks are good but in no way are they “better” or “comparable” to tenderloin. Be for real people!

While grilling a filet is popular way to prepare it, I prefer mine pan seared and oven roasted. That’s how they do it in your favorite steakhouse. Since all they do is cook for carnivores I’m sure they know a thing or two.

First things first. Take that meat out of your refrigerator and let it warm up. 30 to 40 minutes at least. You don’t want to cook it cold. Preheat your oven to 500º Fahrenheit with your oven safe skillet (seasoned cast iron is best) and baking pan or sheet inside the oven.

Note: I do not have a cast iron pan. I use stainless sauté pans with stainless handles. I am able to put the pan directly in the oven from the stove top.

Always buy your meat from a good meat market. Do NOT buy it at the Wal-Mart Supercenter. Seriously!

When seasoning your filet, less is more. That’s the difference between a tenderloin and a ribeye. You don’t want to mask the “meat” flavor of your filet. It’s that good. I just brush a little oil on the filet and season with sea salt, ground pepper and little bit of garlic powder. I press the spices into the oil brushed surface of the meat.  Flip and repeat.

Once your oven has preheated take out your skillet and place on a hot burner. Immediately place steak(s) in skillet and sear undisturbed (meaning don’t touch the meat or lift it or push it around) for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip steak with a set of tongs and toss in several tablespoons of butter. Sear undisturbed for 2 to 3 minutes. You can lift and tilt skillet and baste with butter. This is OK and is not disturbing the meat.

If your skillet is a little too hot lift from burner and turn the down heat. It’s not rocket science people!

Using tongs remove filet from skillet and set in preheated baking pan in oven. I roasted mine for 6 minutes and it came out rare. You know your oven. If it runs hot better take it out at 4 minutes. If it’s like mine and you want it medium rare let it roast UNDISTURBED for 8 minutes or so.  You get the idea. You can roast it with a meat thermometer in it if you are nervous and don’t feel you can trust your oven 😛

Temps for beef tenderloin doneness:

Rare:
120° to 125°F
(Center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion).

Medium Rare
130° to 135°F
(Center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion).

Medium
140° to 145°F
(Center is light pink, outer portion is brown).

If you want it med well or well done you shouldn’t be eating meat that costs $25.00 a pound! Go buy some cube steaks and dress them with ketchup!

After you have roasted your filet the proper length of time remove from oven and tent with aluminum foil. The meat will continue to cook. Let rest for about 4 minutes.

Behold my beautiful birthday filet!

Bon Appetit!

Mayfair Oven Fries

I can’t find this recipe on the internet anywhere. That doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. It is from Dierbergs supermarket’s kitchen.  I can’t find it by searching the recipes on their site. It was published in one of their newsletters a couple years ago.

The historic Mayfair Hotel in downtown St. Louis first opened in 1925. Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Cary Grant and Irving Berlin were some of it’s most famous guests. Perhaps they enjoyed a salad with this eponymous dressing! We’ll keep the delicious tradition going with Crusoe’s Mayfair Dressing as the secrect ingredient in our crispy, savory potato wedges.

Mayfair Oven Fries

MAYFAIR OVEN FRIES

  • 2 russet potatoes (about 10 ounces each)
  • 4 Tblsp Crusoe’s Mayfair Dressing
  • 3/4 c whole wheat or regular panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Additional Crusoe’s Mayfair Dressing for dipping

Preheat oven to 450°.

Cut each potato lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick sticks; place in large reclosable plastic bag. Add the 4 tablespoons Dressing; toss to coat.

In a shallow dish, combine panko, salt and pepper. Roll each potato stick in crumb mixture; place in a single layer on parchment-lined backing sheet.

Roast in the oven until potatos are tender and browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with additional Dressing for dipping if desired.

Obviously if you are not in St. Louis like me, it would be difficult for you to go to Dierbergs and pick up Crusoes dressing. But don’t despair. You can make it from scratch and it will probably be 10 times better!

MAYFAIR DRESSING

  • 1/3 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/4 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 4 whole anchovies
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon Accent seasoning  aka MSG (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2/3 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil1
  1. A St. Louis tradition. Use a food processor to make dressing.
  2. Blanche onion and celery very briefly (5-10 seconds) in boiling water and drain.
  3. Combine everything except eggs and oil in processor and blend for 2 or 3 seconds.
  4. Add egg and blend again.
  5. Then, with processor on, slowly dribble in oil to make creamy mayonnaise type dressing.
  6. Run processor until dressing is very smooth.
  7. Correct salt and pepper seasoning.
  8. This will keep for a week or so if covered tightly and refrigerated.

Baked Chicken Tenders

Simple and delicious.

Ingredients:

1 lb chicken tenders
2 Tbls mayonnaise
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425º F.
  2. Mix chicken tenders & mayonnaise in a bowl to lightly coat the chicken with mayonnaise.
  3. Mix breadcrumbs & cheese in a gallon size ziploc bag.
  4. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Put 1-2 chicken tenders in the ziploc bag with breadcrumb mixture and shake to coat.
  6. Place chicken tenders in a single layer on baking sheet.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes.
  8. Gently flip each tender and bake an additional 9 minutes.
  9. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

You can use your own spices to vary the basic recipe.

Spicy Chicken Tenders

I used Panko Breadcrumbs and added cayenne pepper to my mayonnaise.

 

Italian Herb & Parmesan Chicken Tenders

I added Italian Seasoning to my plain Panko breadcrumbs. You can alternatively just use Italian breadcrumbs.

Pizza! Pizza!

I loves me some pizza!  Cheese Pizza!  I could eat pizza every day and never tire of it. I love food so you would think to pick just one favorite would be hard. But it’s not. Hands down pizza does it for me.

Scranton, PA

Growing up I would go to Scranton to visit my dad’s family and would always be treated with Ferri’s Pizza. Back in the 70’s we got Ferri’s at their location in Dunmore, Pa but it is no longer open. When I was in Scranton back in 2003 there was a location in Taylor, PA so I was able to enjoy the pizza once again 🙂  I have never experienced anything similar to this “Old Forge” style pizza anywhere else in the country. It is fantastic. Another place that serves a similar pizza is Brownie’s Famous Pizza. It is just as delicious as Ferri’s.

UPDATE: ORDER PIZZA DOUGH – Old Forge Pizza Express Full-Dough Pizza Kit (Makes Two 11″ x 17″ Pizzas)

Boston, MA

I went to Boston a couple of years ago for software training when I was working for a hospital. Naturally I would never travel without planning to experience some local pizza flavor. I hit the web before we even left town and found the Lynwood Cafe in Randolph, MA. As luck would have it, or fate, we were staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Randolph, MA.  I could tell you how awesome this little pie was but I think the experience of going there proves it. We went on a Tuesday night which isn’t necessarily the biggest night in the restaurant biz. But this place was packed. We had to wait for a table. It wasn’t in any way fancy. You could tell the building was old and they had no time for renovations. On top of it the pile of take out orders was stacked so high I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing. It was unreal. They don’t deliver…but the pizza is so good you’ll get off your ass to go get it. They only make one size pie. It’s a 10″ individual pie. I thought it seemed like a small size…but this pie is so rich I actually felt my stomach stretch and I still didn’t finish the whole thing. It was so good I wanted to keep eating but my stomach was like…don’t you dare! The nail in the coffin of convincing is the fact that this place only accepts cash. In this day and age of online shopping and debit card purchasing even that was no deterrent. They were doing business to the maximum. Crazy. If you ever hit the Boston area don’t miss out on this hidden gem.

St. Louis, MO

I grew up in St. Louis so I know the best places. There are actually a lot of good Italian Pizzeria’s in St. Louis if you can believe it. I guess because it is a fairly good sized town with a catholic presence it has been able to get a lot of italian immigrants to settle out in the midwest.  I love Saullo’s. Some people complain the family is cranky but who cares. It’s about the pizza not the service. Unfortunately, they are located in north St. Louis county which isn’t the best part of town. But they are right off the interstate in an older strip mall so they are very easy to get to. The inside of the restaurant is very small but they have a loyal customer base so they do a lot of take out business. Getting a table shouldn’t be a problem. The Serra brothers, cousins of Saullo, have restaurants also. Serra’s Pizzeria comes in first, they are located in Maryland Heights, while Nick & Elena’s in Overland comes in close behind. They are all fabulous. I miss them very much now that I am living on the Gulf Coast. Like many who moved from North County to South County, it is nothing to make the trek for that pizza. It is pleasure to do so. That being said Saullo’s had a kindred spirit on the south side. St. Louis House of Pizza was serving up Saullo’s style pizza and it was fantastic. But apparently Don closed up shop. Fact is, people in South County don’t know what good pizza is. All the good places are up north.

Gulfport, MS

Not a lot of options down here for pizza. But Salute has a very good pie. And they are located right on Beach Blvd with an ocean view. Can’t beat that! It is a very nice restaurant so they actually have lots of delicious food. As for a regular pizza pie the only option in town is Chilli Willi’s Pizzeria. They offer Brooklyn style pies that are available “by the slice” or by the whole pie. I like it both ways. It’s very good by the slice but sometimes it’s nice to just get my own 10″ personal sized pie.

Well, all that pizza talk and the fact that Uncle Sam is in Scranton got me in the mood from some pizza makin’. I don’t really have a recipe per se. I use a frozen bread dough loaf, pizza sauce and mostly american cheese. Obviously you can add whatever other toppings you like.

You have to know in advance if you want to make pizza my way. It takes the better part of a day to thaw and let the dough rise. I picked up some Winn Dixie pizza sauce and had some chunks of white and yellow american cheese leftover. I buy my american cheese at the deli and just have them cut off bricks. I don’t get it sliced. I have a cheese slicer. I like being able to use the cheese the way I want, maybe sliced, maybe grated, maybe cubed. As for the pizza sauce, Winn Dixie’s store brand is very flavorful and if it’s already done well I’m not to good to use it.

The american cheese probably sounds weird but if you actually use “real” american cheese and not “processed cheese food” slices, well american cheese is quite good. It has a low melting point which makes it gooey like provel. Most people have never heard of provel cheese. It is only available in St. Louis. It is a blend of swiss, cheddar and provolone. In other words, it is a processed cheese. But at least is actually made from “real” cheese and not a bunch of oil.

Tip: Thaw the frozen bread loaf in a loaf pan that is coated with cooking spray. Also spray the top of the frozen loaf with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. This will keep the dough from sticking to the pan or plastic wrap after it has thawed and risen.

At this point I turn on the oven and set it to 375º. I don’t have a big cutting board so I just tear off a sheet of Freezer Paper and tape it to the counter with painter’s tape. I spray the freezer paper with cooking spray so the dough doesn’t stick as I roll it out. I then place the pizza dough in a jelly roll pan and form the edges up against the sides because I like crust on the edges. After that I prick the surface of the dough all over with a fork so that I don’t get a bunch of bubbles. I cover the pan with a pastry towel and let it rest on the warm stove for about 15 or 20 minutes so the dough can do a second “rise.”

Topping your pizza is personal preference. I like to do the sauce first and cheese next. Then I hit the top with a bit of Italian Seasoning. I make my own which is perfect for pizza (2 tsp oregano, 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp thyme).

I top the sauce with the white and yellow american cheese. Then I put some mozzarella on top. Sprinkle on some italian seasoning and it is ready for the oven. I bake the pizza for about 20 to 25 minutes. This gives the bottom a nice golden brown color and the cheese is nice and melted.

The cooking spray I use when rolling it out is plenty to keep it from sticking to the pan after it is baked. You can slide it right out of the pan onto your cutting board (if you have one that big) and slice it up!

This is some good stuff! And the best part is that the american cheese and fresh dough crust actually makes it very tasty leftover right out of the fridge. I’m very picky about pizza. It is my favorite food after all. So, only the best pizza tastes good cold. If I bring home pizza from the restaurant I have to reheat in the oven on a parchment paper lined baking pan. No way can it be microwaved! Yuck!

Spicy Chicken and Pasta

Today’s dish comes from a newsletter that I got from Bethenny Frankel’s Blog.  It is called Incredibly Easy and Low-Fat Chicken, Pasta, Peppers & Onions.  I won’t repost the recipe since you can get it directly from the web site yourself here:

http://www.bethenny.com/2010/08/02/incredibly-easy-and-low-fat-chicken-pasta-peppers-onions/

UPDATE: On 12/1/13 I checked the above link and the recipe has been removed from Bethenny’s web site. So I pulled it off the newsletter.

Bethenny’s Recipes of the Week
Incredibly Easy and Low-Fat Chicken, Pasta, Peppers & Onions

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  •  3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 box whole wheat fusilli pasta
  • 16 oz jar or can of favorite tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ large red onions, sliced
  • 1 ½ large red, orange or yellow peppers, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of pepper
  • 3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Begin by poking the chicken with a fork and adding seasoned salt and pepper on both sides, then cut the breasts into large bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over high heat and add chicken.
  3. Cook chicken until lightly brown on both sides (OK if not fully cooked through).
  4. Remove chicken from skillet, reduce heat to medium and in the same skillet add the onion, peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and dried Italian seasoning.  Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  5. In a separate pot, begin to boil water, lightly salted, for the pasta.
  6. Add the tomato sauce to the skillet with the vegetables and add the chicken back in.  Let simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  7. Once water is boiling, add pasta, after 11 minutes, or desired tenderness, drain the pasta.
  8. Add pasta to skillet with sauce.
  9. Serve and garnish with the chopped parsley.

I like to prep all my ingredients first whenever I cook because I am not a chef. This method has saved me from accidentally leaving anything out numerous times and relieves any stress that might arise from multitasking.

I’m going to call Bethenny out on this one because the picture of the dish on her web site doesn’t seem to the be the same dish as the recipie. For one thing I see broccoli and snow peas in her dish and neither of those are in the recipe. Also, where’s the tomato sauce? I don’t really see 16 ounces of it in her picture. That being said it is still tasty and I must say quite spicy. This is due in part, I’m sure, to the ingredients called for and the fact that where I live … Seasoned Salt = Tony Chachere’s (whether it’s Creole Seasoning or the hotter More Spice).

UPDATE: On 7/8/12 I checked the web site and the image is changed out to a picture of fresh multi-color bell peppers. 

That being said, in the future I might play around with it because the picture looks delicious and is what made me want to try the recipe in the first place.

The recipe calls for a skillet but I could tell by the amount of chicken to lightly brown that there was no way all of this was going to fit in a 10″ skillet. That’s the largest I have. So I chose to use a 5 quart pot and that worked out well.

I suggest getting the pasta water boiling while you are browning your chicken. Since this makes almost 5 servings that is a whole box of pasta and that’s a lot of water to heat up! Simmer your chicken and veggies in the sauce while you are preparing the pasta. Once the pasta is cooked to the desired tenderness, drain and add to the pot!

Voila!

I wouldn’t say it is “Slap Ya Mama” hot, but you could serve this to your Mexican friends.

Mmm! Mmm!