Thursday, January 31, 2013

Seafood Newburg

While looking up ideas for dinner on Tuesday, I came across this recipe, and decided it would be Thursday night's dinner.

Seafood Newburg

  • 1 pound frozen shrimp, cooked and coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 8 ounces crab or lobster, thawed, drained, and diced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 stick butter, 6 tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
Mix the seafood with sherry, lemon juice, and nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; blend in flour then stir in the half-and-half. Add salt and continue cooking and stirring until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Combine beaten egg yolk with the heavy cream. Add to the sauce, stirring constantly. Add cheese. Continue to cook, stirring, until well blended and cheese is melted. Add the seafood with its marinade. Heat thoroughly, about 10 minutes longer. Serve over patty shells, rice, or toast points. If too thick, thin with a little milk.
Seafood Newburg recipe serves 4 to 6.
It was pretty tasty - seafood, cream sauce, how can you go wrong? Tom's opinion? He thought it was light and unexpectedly different, and it left him wanting more. It'a a compliment I can live with.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Drowning Ruth

I finally finished reading the book "Drowning Ruth," by Christina Schwarz. I would say that it was a good book. I love books that are told in different perspectives, and bounce back and forth in time. The story kept me guessing as to what actually happened at the lake that fateful day. Even though the book is a selection from Oprah's Book Club, and there were questions at the end of the book that required some deep thoughts, it was still entertaining.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ravens Send Off

Today, I had one of my most disappointing Pep Band Gigs, ever. And that's saying a lot, because I've had a lot of gigs. The gig was a send off for the Ravens before they left for New Orleans and the SuperBowl. The Ravens had requested a large presence from the Pep Band, so we obliged with at least 45 musicians. When we got to the Inner Harbor, we were ushered around the back of a pavillion, led upstairs, and placed on a balcony behind spectators. All of the festivities were in the Amphitheater, in between both pavillions. We could not be heard by the people down there, nor could we see anything that was going on. We weren't even allowed to play the Fight Song when the team arrived. When we got back to the busses, we were told that there was an area that was set aside for the band, but more press had arrived than they had anticipated, so we lost our space. Quite disappointing.
To make up for the diasppointing Pep Band Gig, I had a pretty cool party at the Tidewater. A World War II veteran who had received the Medal of Honor came to talk about it with a 2-star general. At the end of the event, both Mel and I were presented with a coin.

Even though Tom believes that coins are pretty common, they are totally uncommon in my lines of work, so I was pretty thrilled to receive one.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Swedish Meatballs

Another item that I've wanted to try to make for a few days now - Meatballs.
Swedish Meatballs

  • 2 slices fresh white bread
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound ground chuck
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside.
  3. In a 12-inch straight sided saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, pork, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds.
  6. Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat, or in an electric skillet set to 250 degrees F. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven.
  7. Once all of the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.
I finished these so late that I just put them in the refrigerator. I'll report back after I've tried them, but they did smell good.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I've been craving Macaroni and Cheese lately, so I thought I'd try my hand at another homemade macaroni recipe.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
  4. Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.
Remember to save leftovers for fried Macaroni and Cheese.
It was okay, and after Tom's initial dismay at the visual aspect of my dish, he said it tasted good. It didn't taste as cheesy as I expected, but there are many reasons why I may have messed this recipe up. In cooking the roux for five minutes, I may have overcooked it. After adding the milk, I may not have thickened that mixture enough. Tempering the egg? My first time ever trying that. The sauce looked fine until I added the cheese, then, it looked like a curdled mess. Apart from the way it looked, the macaroni wasn't very cheesy. I guess after eating Kraft for so many years, I have certain expectations. I think I will try this again, but I'll keep an eye out for the mistakes I made this time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Tonight, for dinner, I made another recipe I found on Pinterest.

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

  • 8 oz. Thinly Sliced Roast Beef
  • 8 Slices Provolone Cheese
  • 2 Large Green Bell Peppers
  • 1 Medium Sweet Onion
  • 6 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 2 Tbs. Butter
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Garlic – Minced
  • Salt and Pepper – to taste
  1. Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds.
  2. Slice onions and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat with butter, olive oil, minced garlic and a little salt and pepper. Saute until onions and mushroom are nice and caramelized. About 25-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°
  4. Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture. Allow to cook 5-10 minutes
  5. Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese.
  6. Fill each pepper with meat mixture until they are nearly overflowing.
  7. Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.
It was delicious. Tom even tried it and liked it. He left me the pepper, but said if I put the filling in a small cup and baked it, it would be perfect.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ham and Lentil Stew

Woo-hoo! Go Ravens!

The Ravens are now Har-Bowl bound, and I couldn't be more excited! Now, the question is, will they bring the Band, or even the Pep Band, to New Orleans? In my dreams!
I had this evening off, and was able to watch the game from the comfort of my home. I prepped tonight's dinner last night, and Tom started it in the crock pot this morning.

Ham and Lentil Stew

  • 3 cups diced cooked ham
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped carrot
  • 2 cups dried lentils, sorted, rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 6 1/2 cups Progresso chicken broth (from two 32-oz cartons)
  1. Spray 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, mix all ingredients.
  2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 7 to 9 hours.
I think it turned out well, but seemed to be missing something. Maybe salt? But it should be salty enough with the ham, right? And there were seasonings in the chicken broth, so I'm not sure. The lentils had a little hardness to them, also, which I wasn't expecting since I've never had them before. I was expecting a softer bean texture, but got a harder one. Tom liked it, too. He said it was a good, comforting soup, and we both liked the flavor.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Purple Friday - AFC Championships

Woo-hoo! The Ravens are AFC Championships bound! Purple Friday was good, we didn't have to perform outside very much. People were excited, and our stops were pretty good. This picture is from our stop at the Gallery in the Inner Harbor.

I'm the one on the left end in the front row.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Chile Chicken Chowder

In an attempt to get the Saturday crock pot thing at work started, I decided to bring in this recipe from a 2010 Pillsbury newsstand booklet called Slow Cooker. I chose the Chile Chicken Chowder by Sandra Lee.

Chile Chicken Chowder

  • 1 1/4 pounds uncooked chicken breast tenders (not breaded), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups Progresso® chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped onions, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (14.75 oz) Green Giant® cream style corn
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (7 oz) Old El Paso® chopped green chiles
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, if desired
  1. In 4-quart slow cooker, stir together all ingredients except half-and-half and cilantro until combined.
  2. Cover; cook on High heat setting 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Stir in half-and-half. Spoon into soup bowls. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Despite needing a little salt, I think it was delicious. The chile flavor was not overpowering, and I was concerned about that because I couldn't find a 7 oz. can of chiles, and ended up using 2-4.5 oz. cans. Everyone said they loved it, and one girl said she might bring in something next week - I'll try to have something on standby, just in case.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Tonight, for dinner I started this year's New Year's resolution, and tried out a new recipe that I found on Pinterest for Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half (like you're butterflying, but finish the cut)
  • 12 slices deli honey ham
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 pounds thinly sliced Swiss cheese
Parmesan-Dijon Cream Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Coat a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter; set aside.
  3. Lay the chicken breast halves in a single layer in the baking dish. Top each breast with two slices of ham and 2 slices of Swiss cheese. It's okay for the ham and cheese to overlap, as long as the entire breast is covered. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top of the chicken.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (clear juices), the cheese is bubbly and the bread crumbs are golden brown.
  5. While the chicken bakes, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux, cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking constantly, make sure there are no clumps. Stir in the bouillon and salt. Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Keep the sauce warm.
  6. Remove chicken from oven, plate, and top with sauce.
We really enjoyed it. Tom even went back for seconds! Tom loved how the breading stayed crunchy, and the overall flavor - but he didn't try the sauce. I know the sauce doesn't look pretty in my picture (I left it on the stove too long and it got too thick), but it was delicious.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ravens vs. Colts

Today's Wild Card Playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts was pretty awesome.

It helps that the Ravens won, and will continue on in the playoffs, but since it was Ray Lewis' last home game, it was especially bittersweet.

After the games, an area is set up in front of the band for interviews, and we usually leave the stadium before the interviews happen, but we were late leaving today, and Ed Reed came out for an interview. He got his picture taken with the flagline, and interacted with one of the drum majors.

When I got home, I took a quick nap, and headed over to the Tidewater for our annual Employee Appreciation Party. It was good times, with eating, drinking, and dancing to the tunes of DJ RedFox. I got this fun gift in the Chinese Gift Exchange.

Tom was kind enough to drive me therre and come get me afterwards so I could "have fun." I did.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Purple Friday - Playoff Edition

Woo hoo, the Ravens are going to the playoffs! I really didn't think they'd make it, but they pulled it out. And since they did, there was a Purple Friday Caravan.

Our stops were, of course, sponsors of the Ravens and assorted schools. We stopped at a Greene Turtle, a couple of elementary schools, a Smyth's jeweler, some M&T Bank locations, a couple of Verizon and Giant grocery stores, Hightopp's Grille, and Bill Bateman's Bistro. Along the way, logos got spray painted on the pavement.

It's always a long day, but worth it to see the fans!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone's holidays went well, and that the New Year started out right. Last year, I resolved to cook a new recipe every week, but as things got hectic at the restaurant, I amended that to trying out at least 52 new recipes this year, with one a week as a general guideline. For once, I was successful! I didn't know until today, when I returned to work, that I even exceeded my goal with 54 new recipes! That being said, I think I'll try it again this year. I'm also resolving to lose weight. I've been pretty cavalier about my weight for many years, but for Christmas, Tom got me a Fitbit, which is a fancy pedometer that tracks on-line and you can even track your food, weight, and sleep patterns. I'm excited to see how that all works out, and if I can stick with these resolutions.