Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Krissi's Country Fried Steak and Milk Gravy

I am so ridiculously excited to post this recipe!!  You have no idea.  This has to be one of my all time favorite dishes in the history of food.

As many of you know, I am an Italian-American from South Philly.  I'm the typical cliche in that regard.  Loud, mouthy, opinionated, great cook, etc.  What you may not know is that my grandfather on my mother's side was actually raised on a farm at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, in a little town called Swoope.

When I was in Los Angeles filming MasterChef, in between days, we would have some free time in the kitchen.  Well, one day I decided to make My Famous Fried Chicken.  I remember getting snickered at by some of my cast mates that hailed from the South.  They thought I was a one trick pony that could only cook Italian-American classics. That was until they tasted my fried chicken and their eyes rolled back in their head with a ridiculous foodgasm.  BUT, I digress.

See, my grandfather was an AMAZING cook.  I learned so much from him.  I incorporate so much of those southern comfort techniques into my Italian cuisine.  It's what makes my food so well seasoned, rich and delicious.

At the end of the day though, I am a complete sucker for some down home cooking.  Things like corn fritters, green beans cooked all day with a ham hock, bread pudding, fried chicken, and of course this recipe.

I have my mother make it every year for me for my birthday.  I order it EVERY time I go to the Cracker Barrel (which is probably one of my favorite chain restaurant guilty pleasures).  I'd eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day with buttermilk mashed potatoes and cucumber salad til you rolled me into Fat Camp.  It's amazing.  And it seriously warms your soul.  It will yours too.

Country Fried Steak 
with Milk Gravy

Ingredients: 

6 cube steaks (round steak run through the cuber – ask your butcher)
Vegetable oil
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp adobo
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
¾ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cumin
1 cup of milk (for batter)
2 eggs
1 tsp hot sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, along with 4 TBSP of pan drippings
Reserved 1/4 cup of seasoned flour
1-1/2 to 2 cups of milk

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees to keep fried steaks warm.  

Using a 12 inch skillet, place enough vegetable oil in the pan so that it fills it about 1/4 of the way up, and heat to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix flour, adobo, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and cumin.  Scoop out a ¼ cup of the mixture and set aside.  In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs and hot sauce. 

Place your steaks, one at a time, in a gallon sized ziplock bag and pound to ¼ inch thick with a heavy rolling pin or the flat side of a tenderizer. 

Place each pounded steak in the seasoned flour, then directly into the egg mixture and right back into the seasoned flour.  Repeat this until all of your steaks are coated.

Fry your steaks on each side, about 3 minutes, or until golden brown.  (this varies depending on thickness).  Place the fried steaks on a oven safe platter and place in pre-heated oven to keep warm while you finish your gravy.  

Over medium heat, add 4 TBSP of pan drippings with 2 TBSP of butter.  Melt down and then sprinkle the 1/4 cup of reserved seasoned flour into the skillet and work through with a wooden spoon, cooking the flour to a dark blonde color.

Slowly whisk in 1 ½ cups of the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  If your gravy becomes to thick, add a little of the ½ cup of reserved milk until it thins out to your liking.  (Remember, this is supposed to be a thick and hearty milk gravy). 

Season with salt and plenty of black pepper (it goes REALLY well for this dish).

Remove warmed steaks from the oven and pour milk gravy generously all ove the steaks and for God's sake, ENJOY!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Crispy Oven "Chips" with Caramelized Onion Dip

I absolutely LOATHE mayonnaise.  It makes me sick.  I actually have to turn away from it in the aisle in the supermarket.  I gag.  It's the devil's elixir.  Okay, overboard, but it's gross.  LOL

However, I have had to put my big girl pants on and start to taste it.  It's in A LOT of things, let's face it.  Aioli, dips, sandwiches....... Calling myself a chef, I have to try everything I put out there.  I need to know its the best it can be.

The thing that really got me over the "Get it away from me before I gag" thing was actually making my own.  I mean I always knew what was IN mayonnaise, but somehow whisking those yolks and seeing it come together really makes you appreciate it.  I don't eat it unless I absolutely HAVE to.  Let's not get excited.  I still think it's vile.  However, I will actually prepare things with it now, which is more than I can say for myself 2 years ago.

Unfortunately for me, Steve loves mayonnaise.  He likes it on his sandwiches, burgers, cheesesteaks.  Figures, I'd end up with a man who drives me crazy in ALL areas.  (Just kidding Steve, I love you).  Steve has another problem though.  Snacks and candy.  He is a junk food junkie.  I make him a beautiful lunch for work complete with whole grain bread, fresh produce, spring water and high fiber snacks and he literally stops at McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys or his beloved Wawa EVERY DAY to get candy, sugar loaded iced tea and other junk food.

So when he is home, and I can control it, I try to make him homemade snacks that are a little bit healthier and at LEAST homemade, so I know what he is shoving into his big gob.  He's also my guinea pig in some ways, because the man will eat ANYTHING, except cheesecake.  I know, who doesn't like cheesecake??  Don't get me started.

I made this recipe for him one day while he was loafing around watching football.  He loved it, and I know you will too!!

Crispy Oven "Chips" with Caramelized Onion Dip

Ingredients:

CHIPS
3-4 Russet Potatoes. sliced thinly
bowl filled with salted water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp Montreal Steak seasoning
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

DIP
2 vidalia onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp hot sauce, any variety
2 TBSP fresh chives
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Slice your potatoes super thin on a mandolin or grater.  Place potato slices immediately in salt water.

In a separate bowl, make your spice mix using the garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, steak seasoning and cayenne pepper.  Set aside.

Remove potato slices from salt water and lay out on a towel and press down with paper towels until completely dry.

Place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and coat all the potato slices lightly with the oil.

Spread out on a baking sheet evenly.  (Try not to overlap the slices too much.  It will prevent them from getting crispy).  Sprinkle spice mix liberally all over the potato slices and pop in the oven for about 15-20  minutes, depending on the thickness of your slices, and your desired texture.

While the potatoes are cooking, slice your vidalia onions super thin and place in a skillet with olive oil, minced garlic and fresh thyme.  Sautee over medium heat until caramelized (usually about 10-15 minutes). Place in the freezer to cool down while you prepare the rest of your dip.

In a small bowl combine sour cream, mayonnaise, hot sauce, 1/2 of your chives and salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Take cooled onions and fold into the mixture.  Top with remaining chives.  Test for seasoning one last time.

Allow oven chips to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy, and remember to get your asses in the kitchen!!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Spinach

I am the cliche.  An Italian-American who loves pasta.  I have to tell you, it's an amazing cliche to be a part of.

Growing up, Sunday gravy with meatballs, sausage and braciole was something you could always count on.  My breakfasts on Sunday consisted of a fried meatball, eggs and a slice of crusty Italian bread.  It was awesome.  Wouldn't change it for the world.

Much to my grandmother's dismay, I don't always make Sunday gravy.  For one, I don't have the time.  Sundays are usually the only day I have to get to church, do my running around, catch up on laundry, cleaning. etc. etc.  It is also usually my only day to sleep past 6am.  So, waking up on my only day off to fry meatballs, as amazing as they are, is not always my cup of tea.

Also, Sunday was really the only day we had pasta believe it or not.  We had things like chicken cutlets, escarole and Italian style beef stew during the week.  I don't work like that.  I can eat pasta anytime, and it doesn't have to wait for Sunday gravy.

I also love the freshness of a light tomato basil based marinara.  It's so delicious and you can just about throw anything in it, and it is still awesome.  From ceci beans to asparagus.  From pork to beef.  Its so versatile!!

Here is one of my weeknight favorites.  Quick, easy and amazingly scrumptious.


Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Spinach

Ingredients:

1 lb of loose hot or sweet Italian sausage
1.tsp dried pepper flakes (optional)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 28 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes
6 fresh basil leaves, torn 
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 lb rigatoni
salt and pepper, q.b.

 Method:

Fill a pasta pot with cold water and place on high heat with a lid on.  

In a large 12-14 inch skillet, heat olive oil and toast pepper flakes.  Add your diced onion and garlic and sautee over medium heat until translucent.  

While onion and garlic mixture is sauteing, place your can of whole tomatoes in a bowl and crush with your hands to desired consistency.  (I enjoy mine rather chunky).

Add loose sausage to onion and garlic mixture and cook over medium high heat until sausage is browned.  

Dump the tomatoes into the sausage mixture and reduce heat to medium.  

Add fresh basil and season with salt and pepper.  

By this time your pasta water, should have reached a rolling boil.  Add a generous amount of salt to the water, and dump your rigatoni in, stirring for the fist minute to avoid clumping.  

At this point, you want to add your fresh spinach to the sauce and cook down gently.  

Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer

When rigatoni is JUST al dente (has a little bite to it), drain the pasta and place into the skillet with your sauce.  Crank heat up to high and sautee until pasta becomes completely al dente.  Turn heat off, allow to stand for 2 minutes and serve.  Top with freshly grated cheese and some more fresh basil if desired.  

To contact me, hire me, book me, appearances or for other recipes, you can find me at any of these places. As always, get your asses in the kitchen!!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls

My step-daughter Ava absolutely LOVES strawberries.  If I put a carton in front of her, she'd eat the whole thing in under 2 minutes.  

Actually, under my watch, all the kids eat really well.  Since being around my step-children, I have gotten them to eat zucchini, Brussels sprouts, pomegranates, various nuts and cheeses.  I love to incorporate all kinds of things in many of my meals, and I am also guilty of hiding tons of veggies in some of my recipes, like in my ABC Sloppy Joes.  I really try to plan my meals so that everyone gets a little bit of something.  Veggies, grains, protein.  

I love cinnamon and sugar anything.  I have a shaky jar that i pre-mix the combo in and I put it on top of toast, waffles, apples.....I just love it.  The kids do too!!  Well, of course they do!

Now that school is back in session, and fall sports have arrived, its hard to get 4 kids out the door and well fed before school, soccer. etc.  I am really a stickler about the kids having a decent breakfast that includes at least one serving of fruit.  But there isn't always time.  

So I've taken a yummy classic and put a fruity spin on it.  Enjoy!!

Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

2 puff pastry sheets
1 stick melted butter
sugar
cinnamon
fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Melt stick of butter in microwave in a bowl.  

Lay out the puff pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface.  

Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter all over the surface of each pasty sheet.  

Sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon.  (I use a good amount).

Place sliced strawberries evenly all over the cinnamon mixture.  Remember, you don't want the slices TOO thick, or it will be hard to roll later.  

Once you have placed your strawberries, start at one end and roll vertically until you have one log for each puff pastry.  

Take a cupcake tin and use the rest of the melted butter to brush inside each cupcake hole.  

Using the depth of the cupcake tin as a guide, slice your strawberry cinnamon rolls into slices and place each roll inside a cupcake hole.  Remember to place them so that the cinnamon swirl is facing up.  

Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the puff pasty get a beautiful golden color.  
Remove the rolls from the tin as soon as you take them out of the oven, and then pour any residual juices over the buns.  

Allow to cool a few minutes and enjoy!!  

A powdered sugar glaze would be heavenly on these, just saying!!  I omitted it, because I don't like the kids to have TOO much sugar before school.  ;-)

To book me, hire me or purchase any of my meal deals or baked goods, you can contact me below.  And as always, get your asses in the kitchen!!  xoxo

Friday, September 26, 2014

Firecracker Shrimp

So I have this sick talent.  It's pretty impressive actually.  I can eat my weight in shrimp.  

That's a lie.  BUT, I can peel a shrimp in under 2 seconds and eat an obscene amount of steamed shrimp.  My favorite place to get the little delicious bastards is Steamers, located on Chincoteague Island in Virginia.  My family has been going there for almost 50 years.  It's my second home.  Anyway, I'm getting off subject.  

I LOVE SHRIMP.  Broiled, grilled, fried, steamed.......

So...you get the point.  

Mikey has been begging me to make some fried shrimp and I have been putting it off.  I even tried to get out of it tonight, and he called me out on it.  Damn kids.

I didn't just want fried shrimp.  I wanted a kick to it.  I opened up the fridge and the angels started singing from the heavens and this light came down from the sky and shone right on a bottle of Frank's Red Hot.  I got weak in the knees and knew what I was going to do.  And now you will to.  Behold, the firecracker shrimp!!!!


Firecracker Shrimp

Ingredients:

2 pounds 21-25 count shrimp, deveined and peeled
1/2 cup of hot sauce, any variety (I use Frank's)
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup of AP flour
2 TBSP Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Vegetable Oil, for frying

Method:

If your shrimp aren't cleaned and peeled, do that now. **  

Once your shrimp are cleaned, place them in a bowl and add the hot sauce.  Mix with your hands to coat every shrimp.  Place in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 15 minutes.  

In another bowl, add corn starch, flour, Old Bay and cayenne pepper.

In a skillet, heat about a 1/2 inch of oil to 325 degrees. 

Take the hot sauce coated shrimp and place directly in flour mixture, shaking off excess.  

Fry in batches, careful not to over cook.  Once you see a light golden color, remove them immediately.  

** You can freeze the shrimp shells to make a seafood stock at a later date.  

To get in touch with me, to book me or hire me, you can contact me below.  And, as always, GET YOUR ASSES IN THE KITCHEN!!!




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

I kind of hate fruit.  I don't know why, I just don't think its that great.  I'd rather eat a bag of raw green beans than an apple.  I mean, I don't NOT eat fruit.  I'm just really selective.  I like watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes and bananas.  Other than that I wouldn't be sad if I never ate any of it again.

I've never really been big on sweets period.  Fruit, desserts.....I'm more of a meal chick.  I would totally sit down and eat two dinners rather than "save room" for dessert. I obviously like to dig on some good desserts, but, if given the opportunity to eat a soft pretzel or a Tastykake, I'll take a soft pretzel every time.  Other than a taste to make sure it's delicious, I don't even really eat any of my baked goods.  And I love to bake.  I know, I'm, weird.  Whatever, enough about that.  

Let's move on to more important things.  Like chocolate.  Chocolate is a sweet I WILL indulge in every now and then.  I'm actually allergic to caffeine, so I have to be careful.  However, I AM a woman and EVERY woman will sell themselves out once in a while for a bite of that dark, rich, silky deliciousness.  Don't even act like you wouldn't.  

When I was a kid growing up in South Philly, going to the water ice stand to get a soft pretzel with mustard and a water ice with the dollar my dad gave me was the norm.  Once in a while though, I used my dollar to get a frozen banana dipped in dark chocolate.  Oh my god, did I love those. In fact, chocolate and banana might be one of my favorite combinations on this planet.  So naturally, this leads to some pretty awesome creations, like my Fat Elvis cupcakes and this amazing banana bread you are about to be privy to.  

So, here it is, unaltered and in all it's glory.......



CHOCOLATE CHIP WALNUT BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:

5 TBSP softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 very ripe bananas
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2  cup shelled walnuts 
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, lightly dusted in flour

Method:

In a bowl cream together the butter and sugars.  Add egg and vanilla, mix untl incorporated.  With mixer on medium speed, start to add pieces of the ripe banana until completely incorporated.  It's ok to see some chunks.  It's not going to be a smooth batter.  

In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and powder.  Mix gently with a fork to combine.  

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mix to combine.  

Add 1/2 of the cream mixture and then alternate with flour and cream, ending with flour, being careful not to overmix.  

Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips gently.  

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour** on the middle rack of the oven.  

I like to serve my banana bread lightly dusted with powdered sugar and a nice cup of hot tea.  YUM!!

**The bananas can alter cooking times depending on size and ripeness.  So check after 45 minutes and monitor closely so your bread doesn't burn.  

For more information on Rotund Chef services such as cooking demonstrations, private chef services, catering and more, contact me on any of the following pages:

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Homemade Sloppy Joes

As many of you know, I am the mother of an AMAZING now 16 year old, Mikey.  Many of you know him, have met him or saw him on MasterChef.  I couldn't ask for a better kid.  Mikey is a perfect child in every way, well, cause he's mine.  DUH.  But, I always wanted more, and sadly, thanks to Adenomyosis, Endometriosis and Stage I Uterine Cancer, I had a partial hysterectomy in 2007.  My chances of carrying another child are gone.  It was heartbreaking.  I LOVE being a mom, especially Mikey's mom.

Anyway, inasmuch as I have a perfect child, he still wants to eat crap every once in a while.  I draw the line at canned meat sauce.  Sorry kid, I'm not feeding you that slop.  BUT, I will find a better, easier way to get it in your belly......

Here is one of Mikey's FAVORITE recipes, and it couldn't be easier!!!  I sneak veggies in there too, so it's perfect for picky eaters. 

Homemade Sloppy Joes



INGREDIENTS:
1 pound 85/15 ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 carrot, shredded
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 cup any BBQ sauce (homemade or store-bought)
1 cup of any brand ketchup (I uses heinz when I don't have homeade on hand)
black pepper to taste
6 hamburger buns 

METHOD:
Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add diced green pepper, shredded carrot, onion and celery.  Sautee until softened/translucent.  Add ground beef and chop up finely while mixing with the veggies.  

Once the ground beef mixture is combined and browned, add your bbq sauce and work through over medium low heat.  Once incorporated, add your ketchup.  Mix well.  Pop a lid on your skillet or cover with tin foil if you don't have a lid big enough, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.  

Serve on hamburger buns and BOOM. The kids go NUTS over this, and I usually have to double this up because they'll eat 2 sandwiches easy.

I like to serve with some homemade oven fries and sweet white frozen corn.  

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GET YOUR ASSES IN THE KITCHEN!!!!

Love,
Krissi xoxo