Monday, November 9, 2015

Half-time Hoagie

Sandwiches are the quintessential football food. And, when you're hosting a bunch of dudes for the biggest game of the year, it's crucial to serve dishes that can feed an army! Enter this sandwich. It's piled high with meat. It has a kick of heat from the peppers. It has the perfect crunch from the toasted bread. And it can be switched up to suit the tastes of your entire party. Serve it on a large cutting board and let your guests cut off their own.  Bonus, it even keeps in the fridge for a day or two without getting too soggy, thanks to the toasted bread!

3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon parsley
1 loaf ciabatta, halved length-wise
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli turkey
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
1/4 pound thinly sliced salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced provolone
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup sliced hot banana peppers, drained
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Preheat the broiler.

In a small skillet over low heat, melt the butter with the garlic. Continue to cook over low heat until the garlic begins to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the parsley and cook another minute. Remove from heat and spread on the inside of both pieces of ciabatta. Place under the broiler and toast until golden. Let cool.

Spread the mayonnaise on the bread. Layer the turkey, ham, salami, and provolone on the bottom half of the bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with lettuce, peppers, and onion. Cover with top half of bread. Wrap tightly in foil and place a heavy skillet (I used a cast iron griddle pan) on top. Let sit 30 minutes.

Slice and serve.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Quarterback Queso Dip

It's not Game Day without some sort of warm dip, oozing over crispy tortilla chips.  My family is a big fan of the classic Rotel & Velveeta combination, but this year I wanted to do something a little different.  I combined a few of my favorite flavor combinations, pulled from a few tried and true cheese dips and queso recipes, and stirred it all together in a cast iron skillet to add just a touch more pizzaz.  The result was this dip, which was declared a winner, no matter which team my guests were rooting for!

1 pound ground beef
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet taco seasoning
1 16-ounce jar of chunky salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

In a medium skillet (I like cast iron) over medium heat, brown the beef along with the garlic.  You may need to add some olive oil, depending on the leanness of the meat.  Add the taco seasoning and salsa, bringing to a simmer.  Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drop the heat to low and add the cheese, cream cheese, and beans.  Cook until just melted.  Serve hot with tortilla chips

Sunday, November 1, 2015

This Month: Super Bowl Sunday

I know the Super Bowl isn't for quite some time, but my family much prefers college football to pro, so I thought I'd get this party started in time for the college play-offs!  Besides, my beloved Irish only have a few more games in regular season, so I need to get my act together in order to enjoy the last few games of the year.  After traveling to two games this year (both wins!) I'm pumped for my boys to finish strong.  These snacks are sure to "shake down the thunder" as we say in South Bend!  Whether you're putting together the ultimate tailgate, hosting a happy hour, or just looking for some great snacks, these idea are sure to be the winners at your next sporty soiree!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Beer Glazed Brats and Sauerkraut

When it comes to German food and Oktoberfest, my mind heads straight to brats and sauerkraut.  I remember having this meal, along with scalloped potatoes, many times growing up but never really appreciated the dish.  But, when I was preparing the menu for my own Oktoberfest meal this year, I stumbled across this recipe.  I mean, when you glaze the sausages in a beer and brown sugar mixture, you can't possibly go wrong, am I right?!  This combo would be equally tasty on a toasted bun with spicy brown mustard, which is actually my favorite way to enjoy for a brat!

1/8 teaspoon celery seeds
1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 pound fresh bratwurst sausages
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle lager beer
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 pound sauerkraut (preferably barrel-aged), drained

Crush celery seeds and caraway seeds in a mortar and pestle until ground; set aside.

Place bratwursts into a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Mix beer, brown sugar, dry mustard, onion powder, black pepper, dill weed, and crushed celery and caraway seeds in a bowl, stirring to dissolve brown sugar; pour over the brats. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Uncover and raise heat to medium; boil the sauce until it reduces to a thick, syrupy liquid, about 20 minutes. Tilt skillet to roll brats in the sticky sauce until thoroughly coated. Transfer sausage to a platter and keep warm. Cook and stir sauerkraut in the same skillet to mix in any leftover sauce, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer sauerkraut to a serving platter and top with cooked bratwurst.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bavarian Apple Torte

Several weeks ago, I dragged my husband a hour west to the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains to go apple picking.  At first he teased me.  Then he complained about the distance.  Then he gave in.  And finally, when it was all said and done (and I'd promised him delicious apple desserts all season long) he conceded that we had a fun afternoon as a family, picking apples and enjoying a quiet morning in the country.  After spending the next day making homemade pretzels, he got his first apple dessert of Fall.  And let me tell you, this was divine! 

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-1/2 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 6 medium)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 450°.  In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in flour and vanilla until blended.  Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Pour over crust.  In another large bowl, toss apples with cinnamon and remaining sugar. Spoon over cream cheese layer.

Bake 10 minutes.  Reduce oven setting to 400°; bake 25 minutes.  Sprinkle almonds over top; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Remove sides of pan before slicing.  Store in the refrigerator. 

This dessert is lovely chilled, but I like it best just warmed through and drizzled with caramel sauce.  A scoop of vanilla on the side takes it over the top!

Recipe adapted from The Taste of Home Cookbook 2011.
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Monday, October 12, 2015

German Potato Salad (Warm)

About four years ago, my husband and I bought a Groupon deal to attend an Oktoberfest celebration in Carmel Valley, CA.  Tickets included drinks and a meal, live music, and plenty of entertainment.  We were not disappointed.  Especially with the food!  I might have tasted authentic German potato salad in the past (I've been to Germany several times, and my grandmother was German, so I'm sure there's a family recipe floating around somewhere, but this isn't it...) but I don't remember ever eating it.  Until that day in California.  The potatoes were perfectly soft, and the dish was just the right amount of sweet and salty, with a little crunch from the bacon, and even pretty (dare I say that about potato salad, which is usually just a tan blob on a plate?) to look at.  When I came across this recipe, I knew I had to tweak it and try it!  Once again, I wasn't disappointed, and I know you won't be either!

3 cups diced peeled potatoes
4 slices bacon
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.  Drain, and allow to cool.

Chop bacon into small pieces and fry in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat, until browned and crisp, turning as needed.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add onion to the bacon grease, and cook over medium heat until browned.  Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan.  Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley.  Crumble in half of the bacon.  Heat through, then transfer to a serving dish.  Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, garnish with additional parsley, and serve warm.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bavarian Pretzels

One of my favorite after-school snacks as a kid was a warm pretzel dipped in mustard.  Even as an adult, I love to stop at the mall pretzel place, or at a food kart at the amusement park, and get a giant pretzel to share with my kids.  Several years ago, when I attended an Oktoberfest celebration with my husband and then four-month old, I couldn't wait for a warm, just slightly salted pretzel, slightly crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.  When I decided to plan an Oktoberfest-themed meal this year, I knew this carb bomb was a must!  Enjoy...I know I will!

3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking soda
3 cups water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt, or to taste

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, stir together 1 cup of flour, yeast, sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1 1/3 cup water.  Let this mixture stand until bubble begin to form, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the salt and gradually stir in the remaining flour until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding more flour if needed.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces and let them rest for a few minutes.  Roll out one piece at a time into a rope about 15 inches long.  Loop and twist into that cool pretzel shape.  Set on a baking sheet while you roll out the remaining portions.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Bring the remaining 3 cups of water to a boil and add the baking soda.  Remove from the heat.  Dip pretzels into the water bath for about 45 seconds, flipping over about halfway through.  Place the soaked pretzels on a greased baking sheet and brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve warm, with your favorite mustard for dipping!