Friday, December 27, 2013

12/27/13 ChefElla's Mini-Tortilla Tower


New Years is coming up and I cannot wait to spend the night with my friends.  One of the fun things about New Years Eve is the fun foods that people make.  Mini meatballs in sauce, mini-hot dogs, chips and dip, shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers, fruit and chocolate, cookies and cakes, and so many other things.  This year I wanted to bring burritos or tacos, but my Mother said they would be too messy.  "How can you stand and talk with your friends and eat a burrito at the same time?" She asked.  I knew she was right so I came up with the perfect recipe.  For this recipe I took tortillas and spread the burrito filling in between the layers.  My tortilla tower is mini because it is not very tall, but this recipe makes two towers and if you want to stack them on top of each other yours will be tall.
Happy New Year

For this recipe you will need to use a serrated knife and the stove.  If you are not allowed to use a serrated knife or the stove by yourself you can have a grown up help.
- A serrated knife has a scalloped edge and looks like a little saw.  It is good for cutting bread.
1. Wash your hands.
2. For this recipe you will need measuring spoons and cups, a heat proof rubber spatula, a sauté pan a serrated knife, a cutting board, a can opener, a medium sized mixing bowl and a microwaveable bowl.

ChefElla's Mini-Tortilla Tower (This recipe will make 2 tortilla towers 8-12 servings each)
10 ea       Large Flour Tortillas, 12 inch
1 Can      Refried Beans, 16 oz
1 Jar       Queso Dip or Smooth Cheese Dip, at least 8 oz. (I use the mild variety)
2 tsp       Cumin, Ground
1 lb.         Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
1 pkg       Taco Seasoning, 1.25oz
1 pkg       Guacamole, 8 oz
                 -If you have a guacamole recipe you like you can make your own.
1 tub        Cream Cheese, 8oz
1/4 cup    Salsa, use your favorite kind
                  -If you have a salsa recipe you like you can make your own.
1 Tbl        Olive Oil

3. Heat your sauté pan on the stove.  Add olive oil and ground meat to the pan.  Break up the meat into
    small pieces as it cooks with your spatula.  As the meat cooks it will be easier to break it into smaller
    and smaller pieces. When the meat is no longer pink add the taco seasoning and finish according to
    the directions on the package.  Put the meat into the refrigerator and let cool.
4. Open your refried beans and put into the microwaveable bowl.  Add cumin and mix, cover and cook
    in the microwave for 1 min 30 seconds.  Put the beans in the refrigerator uncovered and let cool.
5. In your medium bowl mix the salsa and cream cheese until they are blended.
6. After about 20 minutes, the meat should be cool, mix in 1/4 cup queso dip.  Then mix 1/4 cup queso
    dip into the refried beans.    
7. Lay one tortilla on a flat plate or cake stand.  Spread 1/2 of the refried bean mix on the tortilla.  Leave
    about 1/4 inch of the edge uncovered.  Lay a tortilla on top of the beans.  Spread 1/2 of the meat
    mixture on the tortilla.  Lay a tortilla on top of the meat.  Spread 1/2 of the guacamole on the tortilla.
    Lay a tortilla on top of the guacamole.  Spread 1/2 of the cream cheese salsa over the tortilla.  Top
    the cream cheese salsa with a tortilla.  If you want to make a tall tortilla tower just repeat the process
    until all of the fillings are gone.  Cover the tower with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
    - If you want to make two tortilla towers just start the process all over again.
8. To serve your tortilla tower cut into triangles like a pizza or use toothpicks and cut into small squares.
    Use the serrated knife and cut the tower like you are sawing a log.  Do not press down on the tower
    while cutting.

Serve the towers with taco sauce, extra guacamole, queso dip, or cream cheese salsa.
Happy New Year
- ChefElla

Thursday, December 19, 2013

12/19/13 ChefElla's Easy Breakfast Egg Bake


Christmas morning is so much fun.  Everyone is excited, happy to be together, and just a little tired.  There is nothing better on a morning like this than a big breakfast.  But who wants to cook?  Luckily, I have the perfect recipe.  An egg bake.  You can make this recipe the night before or the week before and freeze it.  You can use all of your favorite breakfast foods, or you can use your Christmas ham from the night before.  Whatever you make your easy breakfast egg bake out of, it will be good, and it will be easy because all you do is stick it in the oven and then sit down and eat together.
Merry Christmas

For this recipe you will need to use a knife and the oven.  If you are not allowed to use a knife or the oven by yourself you can have a grown up help.
1. Wash your hands.
2. For this recipe you will need measuring spoons and cups, a whisk, a knife, a cutting board, a
    9 X 9 baking pan, and a medium sized bowl.

ChefElla's Easy Breakfast Egg Bake (This recipe will make 4 servings)
3 Cups       French Bread, cut into large cubes (1 inch)
                  -You can substitute gluten free bread and the recipe will be just as good.
1 1/2 Cups Ham, large dice (1/2 inch)
1 Cup        Cheddar Cheese, shredded
6 ea          Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1/2 tsp      Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp      Black Pepper
1/4 tsp      Hot Sauce
                 -The hot sauce is not for heat but it adds a nice flavor.  You can use whatever kind you like,
                 but I would recommend Tabasco Sauce or Franks Hot Sauce.

3. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
4. Cut bread and ham.  Line the bottom of the pan with the bread.  Layer the ham on top of the bread.
    Sprinkle the cheese over the ham and bread.
5. Whisk together milk, eggs, salt, pepper and hot sauce in a bowl.
6. Slowly pour the egg mix over the ham, cheese and bread.  Push any bread or ham sticking out into
    the egg mixture so that they get coated with the egg mix.
7. Cook the egg bake for 25 minutes.  After 25 minutes poke toothpick into the center of the egg bake.
    If it comes out clean then the bake is done.  If it is not ready cook for 5 more minutes and check
8. When done remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

If you prefer you can substitute cooked bacon, sausage or vegetables in your egg bake.  You can also try different kinds of cheese in your egg bake.
If you make an egg bake ahead of time just cover with foil and reheat, if you freeze an egg bake ahead of time just let it thaw for 2 days in the refrigerator before reheating.

- ChefElla

Thursday, December 12, 2013

12/12/13 ChefElla's Beef and Barley Soup


You cannot go anywhere this week without being cold.  It is like the whole world is covered in snow and ice.   No one wants to go outside, not even the dog.  When my mom gets home she doesn't take her coat off for like one hour.  The answer for me has been a bowl of soup, a full belly and a warm blanket.  Soup seems like something only your grandmother makes, but it is quick and easy and with the right ingredients it can be filling too.  Remember if you do not like some of the ingredients I use just substitute them for the products you like.  This was my Grandpa's favorite soup, and my Grandpa liked good food, so I think you will like it too.

For this recipe you will need to use a knife and the stove.  If you are not allowed to use a knife or the stove by yourself you can have a grown up help.
1. Wash your hands.
2. For this recipe you will need measuring spoons, a knife, a cutting board, a medium stock pot, a small
    bowl, a plate and a heat proof spoon.

ChefElla's Beef and Barley Soup (This recipe will make 4-6 servings)
1 Lb.      Beef Stew Meat, or Roast, cut into bite size pieces
               -Remember kids like ChefElla have small mouths so the pieces should be small for a kid not
               small for a mom or dad.
1/2 cup   Carrot, cut into bite sized pieces (2 small carrots, or 1 medium carrot)
1/2 cup   Onion, cut into bite sized pieces (1/2 medium onion)
1/2 cup   Celery, cut into bite sized pieces (1 large celery stalk)
               -Wash celery stalk.  Cut brown ends off of celery.  Cut celery in half lengthwise.  Cut each
               half of celery lengthwise again.  You can continue to do this until the pieces are as thin as you
               want them.  The thinner the celery is cut, the smaller the pieces will be when you chop them.
2 Qts       Beef Stock (64oz)
3/4 Cup   Barley, Quick Cooking.
1 1/2 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp    Black Pepper
3 Tbl        Olive Oil

3. Cut vegetables first and put on your plate, and then Beef.
4. Heat medium sauce pan on medium high.  When hot add 2 Tbl. of the olive oil.  Add beef.  Spread
    the beef evenly on the bottom of the pan.  Let the beef cook on the bottom of the pan for 2-3 minutes
    without stirring.  The beef will get a nice color on it called a sear.  Stir the meat and let cook for
    another 2-3 minutes.  Stir one more time and let cook another 2-3 minutes.  Remove the beef and
    juice to a small bowl.
5. Return the pan to the heat and hot add 1Tbl. Olive Oil.  Add vegetables and cook for 3-4 minutes.
    Stir occasionally so that the vegetables do not burn.
6. Add beef and juice back to the pot.  Add beef stock and spices.  Bring the soup to a boil.  Turn down
    the heat to a simmer (bubbling just under boiling) and let cook for 20 minutes.  
7. Add the quick oats and cook for at least 15 minutes.
8. Turn your soup to low and serve when ready.

Top your soup with crackers, serve with bread, or whatever else you can think of.  
Enjoy and Keep Warm.

- ChefElla

Thursday, December 5, 2013

12/4/13 ChefElla's Stromboli Sandwich


Sometimes it seems like we eat the same things over and over again.  Tacos, spaghetti, pizza, spaghetti, tacos.  We end up making the same things because they are easy and we know how to make them.  Well I have just the recipe to make dinner different, and if you like this recipe but not the ingredients you can change over and over into something different.  Stromboli is just a fancy name for a rolled up sandwich.  It is like a pocket sandwich you find in your freezer but bigger.  The Stromboli I make is like an Italian sandwich but you can make whatever kind of sandwich you like.

For this recipe you will need to use the oven.  If you are not allowed to use the oven or a knife by yourself you can have a grown up help.
1. Wash your hands.
2. For this recipe you will need a sheet pan (cookie sheet), and a knife.

ChefElla's Stromboli Sandwich(This recipe will make 4-6 servings)
1 ea.            Puff Pastry Sheet (Freezer Section) or Refrigerated Thin Crust Pizza Dough
                    -You can use the commercial brand pizza dough that comes in the tube, or the fresh dough
                     that you roll out.
                    -Let your Puff Pastry thaw overnight in the refrigerator or let sit out for 1-2 hours before use.
. 3 lbs           Provolone Cheese, Sliced
                    -All of your meat and cheese will be thin sliced, like you would use for sandwiches.
. 3 lbs           Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced
. 3 lbs           Swiss Cheese, Sliced
. 3 lbs           Ham, Sliced
. 3 lbs           Salami, Sliced
3 oz.             Pepperoni, Sliced, Turkey Pepperoni preferred

3. Pre-heat your oven to 400F.
4. Unfold your puff pastry onto your counter top.  If is it still firm give it a few minutes to warm up.  Flatten
    out the puff pastry with your fingers until it is an even thickness and is about 1 inch larger all around.
    -If you are using pizza crust dust the counter with flour and shape the dough into a rectangle.  You
    want the dough to be an even thickness not too thin in any one spot.
5. With the long side of the dough facing you, take half of your provolone and layer it in the middle of
     the dough.  Leave 2 inches at the top and bottom of the dough uncovered.
6. Layer half of the salami on top of the cheese.  Then layer half of the Swiss cheese on top of the meat,
    then layer half of the pepperoni on top of the cheese, then layer half of the mozzarella on top of the
    meat and then layer half of the ham on top of the cheese.
7. Repeat this process until all of the meat and cheese are layered.
8. Fold the 2 inches of dough up onto the ends, over the meat and cheese layers.  Then fold one of the long
    sides up over the layers.  The long side should hold the dough ends in place.  Make sure the ends are
9. With your finger brush a little water on the top of the dough to make it tacky (tacky is another word for
10. Take the remaining dough and fold it over the top.  It will look like a package
11. Line your cookie sheet with foil and spray with pan spray.
12. Carefully roll the Stromboli over and place it folded side down on the cookie sheet.
13. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
14. Let the Stromboli sit for 10-15 minutes.  Slice the Stromboli and serve.  If you like your sandwich
      cold put in the refrigerator and slice into pieces for lunch.

If you do not like any of these ingredients then use whatever you like.  Turkey and American, Ham and Swiss, Roast Beef and Cheddar.  If you like vegetables add spinach to one of your layers or onions, or roasted peppers, or hummus, or mushrooms.  Just use your imagination.

- ChefElla