Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Turkey Wrap and Pinwheels

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Flour tortillas in all sizes and flavors must be the "neatest thing since slice bread!" There are tons of wrap ideas on the Internet, as they're popular at parties. 

I keep sliced deli meats on hand and other traditional sandwich ingredients and "create" a batch, then wrap in clear plastic to have on hand for a snack, lunch or dinner with soup.

When sliced 1/2  to an inch thick, wraps offer a pretty pinwheel presentation for an appetizer table. And if left whole or cut in half, they travel well for for lunch at work, or a picnic.

Here's a Pinterest link for many possibilities for ingredients.

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Turkey Wrap Pinwheels
Large flavored or unflavored flour tortillas (10-12 inches)
Cream cheese, softened or mayonnaise
Slices of deli turkey
Lettuce chopped or baby spinach leafs
Thinly sliced onions
Shredded cheese of choice, Cheddar or Swiss
salt and pepper


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Divide filling ingredients and spread evenly over slightly warm tortillas; roll up tortillas, tightly. I warm tortillas on a towel in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds and keep covered until ready to spread fillings. A warm tortilla is easier to roll up without cracking or breaking.

Start with mayo or cream cheese, add lettuce then other ingredients. Once rolled, cover tightly with plastic wrap, twisting ends and refrigerate for several hours. 

Unwrap; cut into slices 1/2-inch to 1-inch thick for appetizers or in half or thirds for a lunch or light supper with soup.

Estimated cost: $1.00 or less per large tortilla wrap, depending on ingredients used.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

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Tomatoes aren't just for salads – they make a wonderful side dish when stuffed and baked.  There's many types of stuffing mixtures, so you could possibly never make them the same way twice.  

But the basics include  scooping out the insides of tomatoes and using the pulp mixed with minced garlic, herbs, cheese, diced onions and some type of other filler such as cooked rice, meat, croutons, or bread crumbs.

I recently needed a quick side dish and had medium size tomatoes on hand so improvised with ingredients on hand.

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
4 medium to large tomatoes
4 oz. bulk sausage, minced fine
2 Tabs. butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced celery
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. mixed Italian spice blend or fresh chopped herbs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheese of choice, Cheddar or Parmesan, and extra for topping

Stuffed Tomatoes photo C5844A34-0157-4858-A551-467FA5E33BDA-139-0000003661A523C7_zps47b47265.jpgHeat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat baking dish or pan with cooking spray.  Slice tops off tomatoes enough to create an opening at the top.  Use a spoon or melon ball scoop to hollow out insides of each tomato. 

Save top slice for topping tomatoes or use for the filling.  Arrange tomatoes in a prepared baking dish. Place scooped out insides in a bowl and add bread crumbs and cheese, then set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned about 5 minutes..  Add the butter, onion celery and garlic, cooking until onion is soft.  Add spices and herbs and cook another 2 minutes. Cool slightly.

Add cooked ingredients to bowl and combine filling ingredients.  Fill hollowed out tomatoes. If desired top each with cut off top slice.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are soften and the top of the stuffing looks toasted.  Sprinkle with extra cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and starts to brown. Serves 4.

Estimated Cost: varies with seasonal price of tomatoes, under $2.00 for a pound. 4 servings should cost around .75 cents a serving or less.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Beef Rolls - Braciole

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Braciole with Mushroom Gravy on Bread Rounds
These tender and tasty beef rolls (Braciole, the Italian word for beef rolls) make a nice presentation and can be served with a variety of sauces or side dishes. 

My grocer sometimes sells beef already cut and thin enough to season, stuff and roll.  But if not, you'll need to pound meat yourself.  I've done these with chicken cutlets using chicken breasts, but beef also works well for an attractive main dish. 

This basic stuffing is used for my other stuffed recipes, sometimes with adding drained frozen spinach, so feel free to adapt or change for your own tastes. (Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Stuffed Pork Chops

Some sauces and side dish suggestions on how to serve these are listed below, but I'm sure you can see the possibilities for other variations to make your very own versions.

I probably never make this same way twice, as I simply use what's on hand.  I finish them on the stove, but once rolled, browned and returned to the sauce to finish, that step can be done in a oven proof serving dish in a 350 degree oven.

Beef Rolls - Braciole

Stuffed Beef Rolls photo B0CF55DD-D4ED-4CFE-8954-ADC4BE9EFBCD-2580-000003B5A0FD6C14_zps20ee535f.jpg1 pound beef cutlets or thinly sliced beef
   (flank steak, London broil, sirloin)  1/4-inch thick
4 Tabs. parsley, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tabs. celery, minced
3 Tabs. softened sun dried tomatoes, minced
4 Tabs. Parmesan or Blue Cheese cheese, grated
4 Tabs. onion minced
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
toothpicks
2 Tabs. olive oil
2 Tabs. butter
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Pound meat between two sheets of plastic wrap with a cleaver, or back of a heavy skillet, until thin enough for rolling, then cut into 4-inch wide strips. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix together: parsley, crumbs, cheese, garlic, tomatoes, onions, celery, salt, and pepper. Spread each slice of beef with parsley mixture.  Roll into a bundle and secure with toothpicks or tie with string.

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In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat. Brown all side of beef rolls, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, keeping warm while sauce is prepared.

Optional Sauces: Italian tomato sauce, beef gravy sauce, or mushroom sauce.
Prepare sauce and return beef rolls to sauce, simmering until done, about 20-30 minutes or finish in a 350 oven for 20-30 minutes.  Serve over pasta, rice, sliced bread rounds, or mashed potatoes. Remove toothpicks or string before serving.

For Italian sauce, heat in skillet or pan, and return rolls, simmering until done.  For gravy or mushroom sauce, deglaze pan with water or wine, thicken with flour, add rolls, simmering until done.

Serves 4.
Estimated cost: $4.00 or less; $1.00 a serving or less.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

UntitledBrussels Sprouts! Or as my kids used to call them: "Tiny Green Cabbages."  I normally steam them and serve with butter, Parmesan cheese and a splash of vinegar, as I'd learned eating them growing up. 

Then I discovered their char-roasted goodness with Balsamic vinegar and walnuts when a local restaurant served them as a side dish with roasted chicken.  

Now I try to buy in bulk, blanch, and freeze when my grocer has them, so that I have them on hand. 


To prepare for the freezer, boil water and blanch cleaned spouts 4 minutes. Cool quickly in an ice water bath and drain. Package and freeze in plastic bags, vacuum sealed bags, or plastic containers.
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Freezer Ready

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 to 1-1/2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts or
  package of thawed frozen Brussels spouts
2 Tabs. olive oil
2 Tabs. balsamic or malt vinegar
3/4 tsps. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
Optional Parmesan cheese for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Rinse sprouts in lightly salted water and drain. Cut off brown ends and pull off any damaged looking outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. They may be cooked whole or sliced in half through the core.

Place on a sprayed baking sheet and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, until crisp and browned on the outside and tender inside. Shake the pan a few times while roasting to even brown sprouts. Depending on the size of sprouts, they may be done at 20 minutes, especially if cut in half, so check at about 20 minutes for tenderness by inserting a toothpick, or end of sharp knife. 

Sprinkle chopped nuts over sprouts during the last 5 minutes of roasting.  Remove from oven and if desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, additional salt and vinegar to taste.  Serve warm.  
Serves 4-6.

Note: another nice optional taste to include is diced bacon which can be mixed in when coating with olive oil and vinegar.

Estimated cost: $4 or less; $1 or less per serving.