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Cookbook Review: Chicago Cubs Cookbook

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Who didn’t see this coming? The Cubs came out with a cookbook, and I bought it. Pre-ordered it even. And it just came in the mail today.

I read through it from cover-to-cover today, and I’ve got to say, I enjoyed it. The pictures are great, the recipes are enticing, and it’s all for a great cause: to benefit the Dempster Family Foundation.

The recipes come from all over the Cubs universe, from players past and present (and even future!), the coaching staff, the broadcast booth, and even some Cubs-friendly Chicago restaurants who happily shared some top-secret recipes in the name of charity. I haven’t had the chance to make anything from the book yet, but I’m looking forward to trying a number of these dishes.

There’s also plenty of Cubs trivia and Wrigley Field history tucked into these 124 pages, making it a fun read for just about any Cubs fan.

I only see two drawbacks, and they’re minor. One, as you’ll see below, there are multiple recipes for some of the same dishes. Two for crab cakes. Three for meatloaf. I know this isn’t a traditional cookbook, but I’d still prefer a little more variety. Two, the book is bound with a plastic spiral, which I know is common in cookbooks, but I’m not a fan. It gets bent weird and twisty. I’d prefer a regular binding. (Neither of these are deal-breakers!)

It’s for a good cause, so Cubs fans should do their part and buy this fun book. You’ll be glad you did.

Chicago Cubs Cookbook: All-Star Recipes from Your Favorite Players

The book starts with a foreword from Tom Ricketts, an Introduction to Riley Dempster and the Dempster Family Foundation, and a short history of food at Wrigley Field. The first three recipes in the book are striaght from the concession stands, provided by Levy Restaurants.

From the Friendly Confines:

  1. House-made Black Bean Veggie Burgers
  2. How to Build the PERFECT Chicago Dog
  3. Signature Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli

Leading Off: Appetizers

  1. Mike Fontenot: Bacon-Wrapped Duck Breast
  2. Rudy Jaramillo: Baked Herbed Cream Cheese en Croute
  3. Randy Wells’ Hot Wing Dip

Pinch Hitters: Side Dishes

  1. Cubs Clubhouse: Yogurt Mashed Potatoes
  2. John Grabow’s Loaded Mashed Potatoes
  3. Pat Hughes: Grilled Asparagus with Garlic
  4. Len Kasper: Mother Kasper’s Slow-Cooker Stuffing
  5. Greg Maddux: Rosebud Restaurants Jalapeno Hash Browns
  6. Dave Keller: Blue Adobe Grille Green Chile Potato
  7. Alan Trammell: Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern Pepper Jack Creamed Spinach
  8. Carlos Zambrano: My Arepa Caraotas Black Beans

Heart of the Order: Main Courses

  1. Jeff Baker’s Mom’s Chicken Cordon Bleu
  2. Mike Bielecki: Protein Thai Noodles
  3. Ernie Banks: Harry Caray’s Tallgrass Meatloaf
  4. Maron & Andrea Byrd’s Baked Ziti
  5. Andrew Cashner: Grandma Pat’s Meatballs
  6. Tyler Colvin: Molly’s CHicken Broccoli Casserole
  7. Connie’s Pizza: Pizza Soup
  8. Ivan DeJesus: Pastelon de Amarillos
  9. Ryan Dempster: D’Agostino’s Grilled Chicken Parmesan
  10. Ryan Dempster: Hub 51 Broiled Sea Bass in Horseradish Broth
  11. The Fifty/50 Skirt Steak Sandwich
  12. Kosuke Fukodome: Hiro Aoyama’s Ginger Pork
  13. Jeff Gray: Southwestern Turkey Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries
  14. Pat Hughes: Caramelized Plank Salmon
  15. Jim Hendry: Crawfish Etouffee
  16. Jim Hendry: Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
  17. Koyie & Meghan Hill’s Pork Stew
  18. Hub 51: Build-Your-Own Steak Tacos
  19. Brett Jackson: Buffalo Spaghetti Squash Pasta
  20. Ted Lilly: Egg in the Hole
  21. Fergie Jenkins: Bagged Pheasant
  22. Derrek Lee: Wildfire Parmesan-Crusted Filet
  23. Ted Lilly: Stanley’s King of Chilis
  24. Sean Marshall: Sarah’s Mom’s Masterpiece Meatloaf
  25. Carmelo Martinez: Locrio de Pollo
  26. Lou Piniella: Anita Piniella’s Layered Chicken Salad
  27. Corey Miller: Corey & Maria’s CHicken Pasta
  28. N9NE Steakhouse: Ahi Tuna Tartare
  29. Lou Mitchel’s: Grilled Thick French Toast
  30. Xavier & Meredith Nady’s Meatloaf
  31. Mike Quade: Pecan-Crusted Snook with Cajun Cream Sauce
  32. Aramis Ramierz: Harry Caray’s Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
  33. Larry Rothschild: Wildfire Spit-Roasted Herb Chicken
  34. Ryne Sandberg: Margaraet Sandberg’s Chicken Tacos
  35. Ryne Sandberg: Harry Caray’s Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce
  36. Carlos Silva: Arepas
  37. Ryan Theriot: Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya
  38. Alfonso Soriano & Carlos Marmol: Mangu
  39. Geovany Soto: Arroz Con Gandules
  40. Geovany Soto: Harry Caray’s Bone-In Chicken Vesuvio
  41. Chad Tracy: Vinegar Grilled Chicken
  42. Steve Trout: Pan-Fried Trout
  43. Billy Williams: Sweet-Swingin’ Billy’s Grilled Pork Chops
  44. Carlos Zambrano: My Arepa Carne Desmechada

Extra Innings: Desserts

  1. Cubs Clubhouse: Peanut Butter Protein Truffles
  2. Sam Fuld: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  3. Tom Gorzelanny: Grandma Ruby’s Oreo Cookie Balls
  4. Jim Hendry: Fig Cake
  5. Jim Hendry: Pecan Praline
  6. Micha Hoffpauir: Grandma Ernestine Adams’ Blonde Brownies
  7. Rudy Jaramillo: Cola Cake
  8. The Rickets Family: Cut-Out Vanilla Almond Cookies
  9. Len Kasper: Apple Crisp
  10. Jeff Stevens: Christina’s Banana Nut Bread
  11. Ryan Theriot: Joe’s Havana Dream Pie


Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I’m spending the day with family and friends, but wanted to stop in to say Happy New Year!

I’ve really enjoyed blogging this year, and am looking forward to making more tasty treats in the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

Butterfinger Blondies

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

These Butterfinger Brownies were the other treat I brought along to Paw-Paw’s party. As I mentioned last week, we had a party to honor my grandfather a few weeks ago. He’s been gone for a few years now, and we all came together to celebrate his life with memories and games and the foods he loved.

To be truthful, I never knew him to eat much in the way of sweets–he was diabetic for my whole life, and kept himself to a strict diet. But when I tried to think of things foods that reminded me of him, I remembered one of the few times I had him to myself. After all, I have a whole slew of cousins (and that’s okay!) and we all grew up right here near my grandparents (no complaints there either!). It does mean that most of the time I spent with Granny and Paw-Paw when I was young involved the other kids. But when I thought about it, I remembered being on vacation in Buffalo, New York, and he and I going on a walk, just the two of us, to the nearby drugstore. We’d gone to buy Yahtzee score cards, of all things. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember feeling pretty special as we talked the whole way there and the whole way back. And I don’t remember much about the trip, but I do remember him buying me a Butterfinger candy bar to snack on.

So like with the Oyster Crackers last week, rather than show up at the party with Butterfinger candy bars, I tried to come up with a recipe using Butterfingers. And so I came across this recipe at www.recipegirl.com. The original recipe called for full-size bars, but I adapted it to fun-size candy bars–and just in time for Halloween. This would really work with any leftover candy bars you have. The vanilla blondie flavor is the perfect backdrop for any candy bar flavor. Heath bars, Snickers, or Reese’s cups would be delicious.

IMG_2302

Butterfinger Blondies

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 2¼ cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 fun-size Butterfinger Candy bars, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with greased parchment paper

2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, combine butter and brown sugar.

4. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth.

5. Stir in flour mixture and 1 cup of crushed butterfingers.

6. Spread in prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining crushed butterfinger bars over top of batter, reserving a couple of tablespoons of crushed candy.

7. Bake 30 – 35 minutes, or until the bars are a bit firm to the touch. Remove from the oven. While the bars are still warm, sprinkle with the remaining candy. Remove to a wire cooking rack and let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Servings: 12

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

When I was in college, Bennigan’s was one of our frequent dinner spots. For one, there was a Bennigan’s in each of the malls where we shopped the most. For another, we were all pretty broke, and the food was relatively cheap.

There were also these Monte Cristo sandwiches.

monte cristo

Our friend Sarah swore they were delicious, but Leah and I were hard to convince. The sandwich itself is basic turkey, ham, and cheese on white bread. The special part is that it’s battered and fried, then dusted with powdered sugar. Bennigan’s serves the sandwich with a sauce made of raspberry preserves.

For the longest time, it didn’t sound like anything I wanted to eat. I couldn’t quite place it, but it just sounded all wrong. Too many flavors going on. Raspberry jam  and a turkey sandwich? I was definitely not on board. (It didn’t help that Sarah had tried to recreate this “treat” in our school cafeteria with some collection of french toast, turkey, and generic grape jelly). Finally, somehow, she convinced us to try it, and we had to admit we were wrong. It’s delicious.

It really is.

I use pancake mix for the batter, and deep fry a turkey, ham, and cheese sandwich, like I said. We use good quality raspberry preserves for the dipping sauce. The sandwich is a great blend of salty and sweet, which I enjoy. One thing I never seem to remember is that half a sandwich is really enough for anyone, so we always end up with too many. The recipe below tastes exactly like the Bennigan’s original. With it being deep-fried, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this as an all-the-time thing, but it’s grate for a treat, and definitely worth the trouble.

Deep Fried Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Serves 4

  • 4 slices of white sandwich bread (you want the slices that are a bit longer than your standard wonder bread square–more rectangle shaped)
  • 4 oz deli turkey, sliced thin
  • 4 oz deli ham, sliced thin
  • 4 slices medium cheddar cheese
  • Vegetable Oil, for deep frying
  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves, for dipping
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting
  • 1 cup pancake batter, prepared according to package directions (I use a Just-Add-Water mix, and it works just fine)

1. Heat your cooking oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pot. When the surface starts to shimmer, add a couple of drops of the pancake batter. If it bubbles and starts to brown at the edges, the oil is ready–if it sinks to the bottom, wait a few minutes longer and try again.

2. While the oil is heating, assemble the sandwiches. I made each sandwich with 2 ounces of turkey, 2 ounces of ham, and 2 slices of cheese. You want to assemble the sandwiches so that the cheese  is closest to the bread slices, which will help the sandwich stay together when you fry it. Cut each sandwich in half along a diagonal.

3. Dip each sandwich half in the prepared pancake batter, turning to coat. It will be thick–that’s okay. Carefully drop each sandwich into the deep fryer or prepared oil to fry.  Sandwiches will float as they fry, and take about 6 or 7 minutes to fry completely. Be sure to turn them once about halfway through, so that both sides get golden brown and crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and sprinkle the hot sandwiches with powdered sugar. Serve with warmed raspberry preserves on the side for dipping.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Friday, August 21st, 2009

It was only relatively recently that I realized I liked Broccoli Cheddar Soup. I grew up convinced that broccoli was gross, so I never really gave broccoli soup a chance. But I had a chance to try a friend’s broccoli soup at Panera Bread one time, and I realized what I was missing.

Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar soup is rich and creamy, with a sharp cheddar cheese flavor that mellows the broccoli. When I wanted to use up some fresh broccoli in the fridge, my first thought was Broccoli Cheddar soup, and my second thought was that I wanted it to taste like Panera’s. It’s not perfect yet, but I think I did a pretty good job. (The picture’s not fantastic, but the soup was very good).

IMG_2212

Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon melted butter, divided
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
  • 1/2 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup carrots, finely diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar

Directions:

Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half  to make a roux. Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Puree using an immersion blender. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

Bacon & Cheese Breakfast Strata

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

A few weeks ago, I was in Cedar Rapids Iowa, visiting with my friends from college. While I was lazy and slept in, I missed the chance to go ot the farmer’s market with a couple of my close friends, Sarah and Leah. I wish I’d been awake, because I love a farmer’s market (though I guess I also missed a bunch of wandering around in the rain, which I don’t love quite as much).

While they were out, they picked up this delicious breakfast baked pastry thing, with eggs, cheese, bacon, and thinly sliced mushrooms and even spinach. I don’t think any of us were totally into both mushrooms or spinach (I’ll eat mushrooms, but not spinach, others were the opposite, some wouldn’t normally eat either one) but it was still delicious. It had been baked and cooled, and cut into squares–kind of like squares of a casserole, but solid enough to pick up and eat. When they got back from the market, we warmed it up a little in the oven and that was it.

I don’t know what it was called, but when I saw this Bacon and Cheese Strata on The Pioneer Woman’s website, I was reminded of it, and decided to try the strata dish.

I’m going to say upfront that this was not my favorite. Maybe I was comparing it (unfavorably and unfairly) to the baked dish from Iowa. I also think I used too much of the bready pita chips in my base (I was halving the recipe, and I didn’t measure the chips so I overestimated what I would need). Then there was the issue of cooking–again a problem with halving the recipe, I guess, but when it looked like the eggs were set at the edges, I cut into it and found raw egg. By the time I was sure the eggs were done, the outside edges were rubbery and overcooked. All in all, I would not call this a success, but I think I might try it again sometime. There’s definitely potential here.

strata

Bacon & Cheese Breakfast Strata
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

  • 6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 piece
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used Tillamook Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese)
  • 5 ounces Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips

1. Fry the bacon pieces in a large skillet until done but not overly crispy and Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

2. Mix eggs, half & half, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

3. Arrange pita chips in an 8 x8-inch baking dish. Slightly press to flatten.

4. Tear pieces of cream cheese and evenly distribute over the top.

5. Sprinkle the bacon pieces over the top, followed by the cheddar cheese.

6. Pour egg mixture evenly over all ingredients.

7. Place into the fridge for several hours or overnight (makes a handy breakfast casserole!), then bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until eggs are set. Cut into squares and serve immediately.

Alton Brown’s Rice Pilaf

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

This one’s a weird one for me to write.

I love rice. I love rice pilafs. I love Alton Brown, and am almost never disappointed in his recipes.

But I was kind of disappointed in this recipe.

On the plus side, the directions were clear, and it wasn’t really difficult at all to make. I just didn’t think that the result tasted like much of anything. Kind of a waste of saffron and all the veggies and other ingredients, if you ask me, because I didn’t think it tasted much better than plain rice. The texture was good, though, so I think there’s something to this method. I will probably give this another chance, especially since David liked it just fine. I didn’t dislike it, I was just…underwhelmed.

IMG_2104

Alton Brown’s Rice Pilaf

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 strips orange zest
  • Pinch of saffron strands, steeped in 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • Golden raisins and pistachios for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy, wide, lidded pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, red pepper, and kosher salt. Sweat the onions and peppers until aromatic, stirring constantly. Add the rice and stir to coat. Continue stirring until rice smells nutty. Add chicken broth, orange zest, saffron and water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Stir once, then cover pan with moistened dish towel (or tea towel). Place lid on pan and fold towel corners over lid. Bake for 15 minutes. Then rest at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes without removing the cover. Meanwhile, simmer peas in salted water until heated through or heat in a microwave. Remove lid from rice and turn out onto a platter. Add peas and fluff with a large fork. Add raisins and pistachios.

Note: I followed the directions almost exactly, but I used about 1/2 cup white wine in place of part of the chicken broth–we didn’t have quite as much chicken broth as I thought (oops!). I also skipped the raisins and pistachios, only because I served the rice with Chicken Kiev, and I didn’t think raisins went so well with garlic-herb butter.

Sausage Balls

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Nothing beautiful or fancy here, but these sausage balls are are a quick, satisfying crowd-pleasing appetizer. I made them at Thanksgiving  last year and again for Easter at my Grandma’s house, at the request of my little sister. Enjoy!

sausage-balls

Sausage Balls
Adapted from Paula Deen and Friends

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. I like the parchment paper, because it makes clean-up extra easy.

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Mix well with your fingers. The mixture will be very crumbly. Form into 1 inch balls, squeezing the mixture so it holds together, then rolling it between the palms of your hands to form balls.

Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. To prevent sticking, move the balls with a spatula halfway through cooking.

Note: The end result is like a cheesy biscuit made of sausage. I know that doesn’t make sense, but once you’ve tasted them, I think you’ll understand.

Chosen for Photograzing!

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

One of my pictures was posted on Photograzing again this weekend. I was so busy cooking for Easter, I didn’t even have a chance to notice!

picture-of-the-day-pasta