Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Emeril's Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers

These are delicious.  I am especially grateful to have stumbled upon this recipe because it included a mixology for Emeril's Original Essence Seasoning, which is delicious in its store-bought version but even more gooderer in its "homemade" form.

The picture here is obviously before they went in the oven and came out golden brown with gooey melted cheese spilling over the sides.

Here is the recipe, from http://www.emerils.com/, with a few knotty tweaks:

Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers - The Knotty Version

1/2 lb. sausage, crumbled
1 C chopped onions
1/2 C chopped bell peppers
1/2 C chopped celery
1/2 t salt
1/2 t celery salt (a Knotty addition, not in Emeril's version)
1/4 t cayenne
1 1/2 C cooked long-grain rice (I used brown)
1/4 C chopped greens onions
3 T chopped parsley (use fresh or don't even bother)
4 medium bell peppers
1/4 C dried fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup cheese, freshly grated (Emeril calls for Parmesan, but I prefer 3-Cheese Mexican)
1/2 t Emeril's Original Essence, recipe below (I use like 3 T - season to your own tastes)
*1 jalapeño (a Knotty addition, not in Emeril's version)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Brown sausage for about 3 minutes.
Add onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, celery salt and cayenne.
Cook until the veggies wilt.
Add rice.  Mix well.  Cook another 3 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add green onions and parsley.
Spoon mixture into bell peppers (Emeril suggests cutting them lengthwise, but I cut off the tops.  Emeril's way makes for easier eatin', but my way looks cooler.  Either way, don't forget to de-seed the insides.)
Add a dollop of butter to the top of each.
Combine the bread crumbs and cheese in a little bowl, then sprinkle over the top of the butter dollops.  Sprinkle a little more Essence for good measure.
Place the peppers in a shallow pan and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until you can't stand the delicious aroma a second longer.

(Suggestions from Dan: "Next time you should put a bunch of cheese in the middle" and "It would be awesome if you put bacon on top".)

Emeril's Original Essence Seasoning

5 T sweet paprika
1/4 C salt
1/4 C garlic powder
2 T freshly ground black pepper
2 T onion powder
2 T cayenne
2 T dried oregano
2 T dried thyme

yields about 1 1/2 cups

*If you look at the picture above, you'll see that I stuffed a jalapeño with the leftover filling.  Dan likes a little kick to his food.  Also he likes when anyone presents him with a golden opportunity to purposely mispronounce jalapeño (jalla-pain-yo).
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Impossibly Delicious Chicken Pot Pie

I had never tasted homemade chicken pot pie before, let alone tried to whip one up, but recently my boyfriend got it into his head that he needed to have some chicken pot pie (I think he saw a picture in my Martha Stewart Living magazine) so I came up with the following recipe, which turned out to be surprisingly delicious.  Not healthy (the crust is pure butter), but absolutely delicious.

The filling was easy.  The crust was a pain, but worth it.  While I made it, thought, "This does not look right" and "I should have bought packaged pastry puffs" and "I hate Martha Stewart" and "This is going to taste like butt."  Well, it didn't look right, but I forgave Martha Stewart and the end result sure as heck didn't taste like butt... unless butt tastes like buttery, flaky yumminess.

Impossibly Delicious Chicken Pot Pie

Sinfully Succulent Homemade Crust
2.5 C all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1 C unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 C cold water
1 egg white
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. 
  • Stir in finely diced chilled butter. 
  • Stir in cold water, slowly.  Mixture will be very crumbly.
  • Mold dough into a ball (keep in mind it will still be pretty crumbly) and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate 4 hours.
  • After refrigeration, roll out dough with a rolling pin and place in a 9" deep dish pie pan, pressing into the bottom and up the sides.  Keep enough aside to make a lined grid for the top.
  • Brush egg white over bottom and sides of dough.
  • Bake bottom crust for 6 minutes at 425 degrees.  (Crust will note be thoroughly baked, this is just to prebake so you don't get a soggy bottom.  Nobody likes a soggy bottom.)

Ridiculously Tasty Filling
3/4 lb rotisserie chicken, cubed
1 C diced carrots
1/2 C frozen peas
1/2 C diced celery
3 T salted butter
3 T finely diced onion
2.5 T all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t poultry seasoning
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t celery salt
1/8 t celery seed
1/2 t Crazy Jane's Mixed Up Seasoning, or similar
1 1/4 C chicken broth
1 C Cream of Chicken Soup
1/3 C milk
1 egg white
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Chicken Mixture:  Boil chicken, carrots, peas and celery in a pot of water for 15 minutes.  Drain.
  • Sauce:  Saute onions in butter and Crazy Jane's Seasoning over medium heat until soft.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add flour, salt, poultry seasoning, pepper, celery salt and celery seed.  Continue to stir while slowly adding chicken broth, milk, and cream of chicken soup.  Continue to stir over medium-low heat until sauce thickens.
  • Pour chicken mixture over the bottom of the prebaked crust.
  • Pour hot sauce over top.
  • Cover with strips of remaining dough from crust recipe, in a grid-like pattern.  Brush top crust with egg white.-Bake 30-35 minutes at 425 degrees.
  • Allow 10 minutes for cooling and settling before serving.
  • Cut large chunks of carrots and celery for a heartier filling.
  • Pot pie is ready when top crust is golden and filling is thick and a little bubbly.
  • There will be yellow and white flecks in the crust.  This is good - it is the flaky butter shards and will add a delicious taste to your pie.
  • To save time, prepare sauce while chicken mixture is boiling.  No need to wait for the one before starting the other.
Serves 3-4.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Corner Craft Station

Just because you have a small space doesn't mean you can't have a cute, organized station for crafting.  Or, if you're like me and prefer to craft on the living room floor in front of the TV, at least you'll have a cute, organized place to store all your crafting supplies and trick people into thinking this is where all the magic happens.

Until the day I have a huge furnished attic or basement to devote to a Martha Stewart-style Crafting Mega-Center, the little corner in my bedroom will have to do.

Here are my tips for creating a craft station in a small space, on a small budget.

Trestle Desk
A trestle desk is a classic choice for creatives.  It's open design is clean and, if kept uncluttered, adds an organized feel to your space.  I have the Braxton Trestle Desk in white.  They are currently available on Amazon for $135.99.

Peg Board
One of the most important pieces of a craft station, in my opinion, is a peg board.  There are countless creative ways to utilize this space, too!

To make:

1. Have your hardware store cut a piece of peg board to the desired size.  I suggest having a length that measures the same width as your desk or table.  It looks more streamlined. 

2.  Use wood glue or Gorilla Glue to attach pieces of trim to the edges of the pegboard.  Frames really class things up.

3.  Spray paint your desired color.  I would choose something bright and colorful that inspires you when you look up at it.  Also, don't spray paint inside.  Even if it's winter.  Trust me.  I'm still scraping little bits of dried paint off my wood floors.  That spray flies up in the air, across the room, and settles on the flooring that you didn't cover with newspaper because you thought there was no way spray paint could travel that far of its own volition.

4.  Add accessories:
  • Hooks (Single hooks, as in #2 on below diagram, or multi-hook sets, like #4)
  • Magnetic strips (#3, purchased at Container Store)
  • Bins, baskets and containers (#1, magnetic storage containers purchased at Container Store)
  • Inspirational pics
  • To do list
  • Clipboard
  • Pattern ideas
Make good use of your wall space to help avoid a cluttered feel.  I love my Making Memories Embellishment Center (below).  They are available at Michaels and on Amazon

Vary what you place on your shelves so that it is both functional and visually appealing.  I displayed some of my favorite stamps on one shelf, and placed a candle alongside some ribbon and a couple shape cutters on the shelf below it:

I love to introduce a few pops of bright colors.  Clear jars filled with colorful embellishments or stickers are perfect for that:

This will have to tide me over until I can achieve this:

or this:

or this:

or this:

Yeah, mine doesn't look so good anymore, does it?
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pink Diamond Scarf

This is the first scarf I designed myself.  Which is not as impressive as it sounds, because surely thousands of other knitters have come up with this same fun and easy pattern.  This one is great because it only requires you to know two stitches - knit and purl.

This took me about 3.5 hours, but could be done faster if you don't watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills at the same time.

Please note that the below pattern will yield a short but serviceable scarf.  If you like your scarves a little longer, you might want to pick up an extra skein.

You will need:

1-2 Skeins Lion Brand® Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® Yarn 6 oz (170 g), 106 yd (97 m); 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool -- The color I used is Blossom (UPC 023032641034)

Size US 13 (9mm) knitting needles

 9 stitches x 12 rows = 4" (10 cm) on size 13 (9 mm) needles

Cast on 25 stitches.

ROW 1:  P1, [K7, P1] to end

ROW 2:  K2, P5, [K3, P5] to last 2 sts, K2

ROW 3:  K1, [P2, K3, P2, K1] to end

ROW 4:  P2, K2, P1, K2 [P3, K2, P1, K2] to last 2 sts, P2

ROW 5:  K3, P3, [K5, P3] to last 3 sts, K3

ROW 6:  P4, K1, [P7, K1] to last 4 sts, P4

ROW 7:  K3, P3, [K5, P3] to last 3 sts, K3

ROW 8:  P2, K2, P1, K2 [P3, K2, P1, K2] to last 2 sts, P2

ROW 9:  K1, [P2, K3, P2, K1] to end

ROW 10:  K2, P5, [K3, P5] to last 2 sts, K2

Repeat rows 1-10 until desired length is achieved.  End on row 5 or row 10.  Bind off and thread both ends through the pattern.
Tip:  Use the lines provided to keep a tally track of completed rows.
*E-mail me or leave a request in the comments if you would like me to send you a printable PDF version of this pattern.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Grandma Knudsen's Pfeffernusse

Item No. 5 on my Bucket List was to make (Great) Grandma Knudsen's Pfeffernüsse.  Side note: Don't worry, I have other things on the list that are much more adventurous than baking a family recipe.

These babies were on the list because they are delicious to eat and intimidating to think about making.  I wasn't sure I would be able to replicate the recipe just like Grandma.  And I was right.  They don't taste exactly like hers, but they were delicious for a first try.

What I did wrong was buy whole anise seeds, instead of ground anise.  I then had to mortar and pestle the seeds.  Anxious to get to the tedious task of cutting these little cookie-buscuits into fingernail- sized morsels, I rushed the grinding of the seed -- leaving the occassional large chunk to be bitten into.

If you don't have the patience for grinding the seed, get the already ground anise.  (Although if you grind it yourself you'll get a much more potent, fresher taste of anise.)  You will need to reserve your patience for the aforementioned task of individually making thousands of these little cookies.

So what are Pfeffernüsse?  The German translation is Pepper Nuts.  They are not nuts.  They contain no nuts.  I did not name these cookies.  They do contain black pepper however, so at least they got that right. Our family refers to them as Pfeffer Nuts, forsaking both the original name and the proper translation, in favor of calling them whatever we want to call them. German Spanglish if you will.

The name Pepper Nuts probably hasn't ramped up your salivary glands and the picture looks deceptively unappetizing (it's not dog food, even though your dog will probably love it too) but these little nuggets are deliciously addicting and - perhaps more importantly - something different than your usual cookie or cupcake.

My family is German and it was a tradition to bake them at Christmas time.  I know they are also popular treats in Holland, etc., but you're not here for a history lesson; you're here to get fat off these lard-filled num-nums:

Grandma Knudsen's Pfeffernusse Recipe

3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground cardamom
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
1/4 C dark molasses
1 large egg

Stir flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, cloves, cardamom and pepper in large bowl.
In separate bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer.  Beat in molasses and egg.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the moist mixture.  Beat at low speed

Roll dough into logs the width of your thumb.  Place dough rolls on greased cookie sheet.  Chill 12 hours.

Cut rolls into 1/4 - 1/2 inch bits.  Place on greased cookie sheets, individually.  No need to space very far apart; they don't grow.

Bake at 350°F for 6 minutes.  Individually flip each tiny little piece over, being sure to swear out loud and b*tch about how tedious this is.  You can even cry and vow never to make Pfeffernusse again, if you think it will help.

Bake another 6 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Place on wax paper.  Let cool.  Eat them.  Get fat.  Go to the gym for 3 months to work the calories off.  Repeat.
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