Gnocchi Alfredo

My wife is a big fan of gnocchi. Who isn’t for that matter? I remember when she had some dental surgery done she had to eat some soft food, or heck jello for that matter (which she wasn’t having any part of), so I decided to make her a homemade batch of ricotta gnocchi. She fell in love with it from that day, and so did I. Soft, pillow like dough made from potatoes and a bit of flour, I mean what is not to love and love to make for that matter. So on a recent trip to a store, we saw this package of gnocchi. I typically would never buy something like it, but my wife and I both looked at it and said ‘should we try it?’. This is where the gnocchi alfredo came into play.

Gnocchi Alfredo Recipe
Gnocchi Alfredo Recipe

Before I was going to make the homemade alfredo sauce, I was really torn to make a sage and brown butter sauce (one my kids totally love), but to me that is a bit seasonal and I had no sage growing as it is winter in Wisconsin. That’s when I knew my kids would love a creamy and cheesy alfredo sauce. They devoured this pasta.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of gnocchi (make your own, or try store bought)
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup of milk
  • 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste

Now the gnocchi we tried was from Costco. It was from Maffei, and something we have never tried before. You can try any brand if you want and it is typically found nowadays in your frozen section, or refrigerated pasta section at your grocery store. Again, if you don’t want to go that route, make your own. It’s not difficult, and in all honesty the texture is better when done homemade.

Maffei Gnocchi
Maffei Gnocchi

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. This will take a handful of minutes, so make your alfredo sauce as this is happening. Grab a good spoonful of course salt and add it to your water as well.

Let’s make the sauce.

To another sauce pan, bring it to medium heat and add in your butter. Let that begin to melt, then toss in your garlic. Let that cook a minute or so and once the butter is melted and slightly bubbling, stir in the flour. Mix well so that it forms a nice paste. Cook this for another minute or two but be careful not to overcook the flour. You want a light blonde, if that, for this sauce. Remember, it’s alfredo sauce.

Add in the cream, and milk, and continue to whisk until the flour breaks up, and begins to thicken. Once that sauce begins to thicken, add in the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, and continue to whisk. Lower the heat, and stir occasionally while you add your gnocchi to your boiling, salted water.

This particular gnocchi took about 1 1/2 minutes to cook. Once these babies were floating, I removed with a slotted kitchen spider, let the drain, and added them directly to the alfredo sauce. Once all added, stir them gently into the sauce, and serve family style.

My family devoured this stuff. Creamy, cheesy, garlicky. It was right up everyone’s alley. The store bought gnocchi? Uh, not a big fan but something that was quick to make during a busy work night. The sauce. Make the sauce. Enjoy.

Sesame Fried Bologna Sandwich

You know that time when no one is around and you are the only one home, and hungry to boot? Well, when that happens to me, I often come up with some crazy thing to eat, and this sesame fried bologna sandwich is no exception. For one, I am a huge fan of a fried bologna sandwich, and one that needs to get more attention on menus, and when you add a twist of sesame oil, and a great bagel, well then you are are in for pure pleasure.

Sesame Fried Bologna Sandwich Recipe
Sesame Fried Bologna Sandwich Recipe

Let’s get started.

  • 1 1/2 thick inch of beef bologna
  • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 whole shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 slices of yellow American cheese
  • 1 onion bagel, or thick slices of bread, toasted
  • pickled onions, optional but trust me, they make this sandwich pop

Start by heating a skillet on medium heat. Add the bologna and get a nice sear on one side. Lower the heat a bit, and add the sliced shallots. Next, drizzle the sesame oil on and around the bologna. After you have achieved a nice sear, flip over, cooking the onions and cook for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat.

Sesame Fried Bologna Sandwich Recipe
Sesame Fried Bologna Sandwich Recipe

Add the slices of American cheese, cover and let the cheese melt. During this time, toast your bagel.

Once the cheese has melted, add the bologna onto the bagel, top with pickled red onions (if using), and dig in. Yes, I’m a bit guilty of having this as one of those defined ‘closet sandwiches’ where you devour the heck out of it when no one is looking.

I loved everything about this creation. The subtleness of the sesame oil, along with those shallots and pickled onions, whoa, stop me now. This was a real winner, so the next time you are at the deli, don’t forget to get a slab of bologna and give this one a shot. Enjoy!

Baked Chicken Verde Chimichanga

Good Lord do I ever love a chimichanga. I think I may have first had one back in my high school days at a local American-Mex joint called Chi-Chi’s. You know this was the type of place where all of us gringos thought we were having real Mexican food, only to realize years later that it was totally not, but only catered to us gringos, and the place would pack it in. Regardless, that’s where my love for the chimichanga was born. It’s essentially a deep fried burrito, loaded with goodness.

Instead of deep frying, I decided I would load these large flour tortillas up with some awesome chicken verde I made, along with rice and beans, and bake them, you know… to be a bit healthier than deep frying.

The result was awesome. Still crisp as you may expect from deep frying with way less the hassle.

Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe
Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the salsa verde:

  • 5 whole tomatillos, husks removed
  • small handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, skin on
  • generous pinch of salt, to taste
  • 3 serrano chilies, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 cup (or more of water)

Ingredients for the chicken chimichanga:

  • 3 whole chicken breasts
  • 5 large flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup of Mexican or Spanish rice, per chimichanga
  • 1/2 cup of cooked refried beans, per chimichanga
  • 8 oz bag of Mexican Chihuahua cheese
  • 8 oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese
  • hot sauce, optional
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil

Start by making your salsa verde. Add the tomatillos, garlic, and chilies to a roasting sheet. Place in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until they are nicely charred. Once cooked, remove them from the oven, let cool, then remove the skin from the garlic cloves. They should pretty much just slide on out.

During this time, add the chicken breasts to a large pot of water, bring to a simmer, and cook until the chicken is fully cooked through, about 25 minutes or longer. Once cooked through, remove the chicken breasts to a plate to let cool.

Place all of the salsa ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until you have a fine salsa. Taste and adjust any salt.

Clean out that chicken pot. Next, remove the skins from the chicken breasts and discard. Shred all of the chicken and return the shredded chicken back to the pot. Pour in the salsa verde, bring to a medium heat, stirring along the way, and cook for about 20 more minutes. TRUST ME, THIS CHICKEN BY ITSELF IS AWESOME.

Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe
Baked Chicken Chimichanga Recipe

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Take a flour tortilla and warm it on a skillet or in a microwave just until it softens. Once it is softened and more pliable, then it is time for the chimichanga making.

Lay the tortilla onto a plate, spread on the refried beans, add about a cup of chicken mixture (I use a slotted spoon to remove any excess salsa) onto the tortilla, closest to you, then add on the rice. Roll over a bit tightly, fold in the sides, and continue to roll until you have it seam side down. Lightly brush on some canola oil, and then repeat with any remaining tortillas. I made five for the family, but there is still plenty of chicken to be used for any leftovers, and as in my case enchiladas.

Take a baking sheet, add the chimichangas, and cook for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven. The goal is to get them nice and crisp. After about 15 minutes, remove, top with as much Chihuahua and cheddar cheese as you would like, and if you want, a bit more chicken mixture on top, and place back into the oven until the cheese is nicely melted.

Remove and serve. I topped mine with some nice habanero hot sauce for some kick.

The end result is everything I love about a chimichanga, and my entire family would agree. I don’t think anyone spoke at dinner time that evening as they devoured these things. If you are looking for a great meal, loaded with great flavor and texture, then give these baked chicken verde chimichangas a try. I’m certain you will love them!

 

Crab Rangoon Egg Rolls

I have mentioned this in the past, but my wife is a total fan of crab rangoon, and now my middle son is as well. What’s not to love about a crab rangoon? A little wonton purse loaded with cream cheese, crab, scallions, and simple seasonings, all bursting into your mouth in a couple of bites. I’ll admit, I love them to, and it is something we commonly default to as an appetizer if going out for American-Chinese food. Lately I had a real hankering for some crab rangoon, but I did not feel like making a bunch of wontons. It can be time consuming, so after I gave it a couple of seconds of thought, I decided I would come up with the crab rangoon egg roll.

Crab Rangoon Egg Rolls Recipe
Crab Rangoon Egg Rolls Recipe

These crab rangoon egg rolls take a lot less time to make, and yield one whopper of an egg roll. It’s a one and done type of egg roll due to the richness of the cream cheese, but that one is so darn good.

Let’s get started. Keep in mind that you can half this recipe for about 8 egg rolls, however I doubled as I knew I would reuse the mixture for an upcoming holiday get together.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 sticks of imitation crab, chopped
  • 7 oz claw crab meat, drained
  • 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 package of egg roll wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups of canola oil
  • sweet and sour sauce, hot mustard sauce, or your favorite dipping sauce

Start by getting a medium sized mixing bowl ready. Add the bars of cream cheese, add the worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, crab meats, and scallions. Using a form or spoon, mix thoroughly. Just make sure everything is nicely incorporated before putting into your egg roll wrapper.

Ingredients for Crab Rangoon Egg Rolls
Ingredients for Crab Rangoon Egg Rolls

Next it is time to wrap your egg rolls. Get a couple of plates out.

One one plate, add the egg roll wrapper, diamond style, meaning the points facing you. Add a heaping tablespoon into the lower center of the wrapper. DO NOT over stuff these babies. Next, take the point nearest you and fold over the mixture, gently pulling back to you. Roll one time, then fold over the side points. Continue to roll just until about done, leaving about an inch or so, then brush on some of the beaten egg onto that point. Continue to roll, sealing the egg roll.

Repeat with however many egg rolls you desire.

To a medium size pot, enough to house a few egg rolls to cook, add the canola oil, and bring to a medium heat, just until about 350 degrees.

Add a few egg rolls, being careful not to overcrowd, and cook until golden brown. This only takes a matter of minutes. Once golden, remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate, and repeat. Let these cool for a few minutes before biting into them. They are piping hot.

Once you are ready to dig in, give a dunk into your favorite dipping sauce, and prepare yourself to an unreal crab rangoon experience. Creamy, rich, crunchy, and just down right delicious. This one really lives up to its name, but in egg roll form. My wife and I joked and said ‘this egg roll probably equates to 4 regular crab rangoons, right?’. If you are looking for something neat, and a one and done, give this one a shot. It’s a great appetizer, and perfect this holiday season.

Keep in mind that any leftover mixture can be stored or frozen and used in other things such as a crab rangoon grilled cheese, or a cranberry crab rangoon, you get the idea. Hope you enjoy!