Monday, December 31, 2007

Minute steak with cherry-mustard glaze

Got this from the Washington Post, including the summary.


I'm betting this will find a semi-permanent spot in any omnivore's weeknight rotation. The sauce is sweet and tart, thanks to dried cherries, winy elements and Dijon-style mustard; some of it is used to glaze the onions and the quick-cooking, lean steak, with more served at the finish.

Non-meat-eaters would like this sauce on a baked sweet potato or grilled portobello mushrooms. The meat can be cooked on a gas grill or under the broiler.

Serve on top of baby arugula leaves lightly dressed with olive oil.

4 servings

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup sugar
3 medium red onions*
1 1/2 to 2 pounds thinly sliced top-round minute steak, cut into serving-size pieces**
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

Combine the vinegar, water, red wine, dried cherries and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat and let rest for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the onions into rings about 1/2 inch thick. Season the beef generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

Transfer the cherry mixture to a blender or food processor and puree to form a thick, almost-smooth sauce. Add the mustard and pulse to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the sauce and place the remaining sauce in a large mixing bowl. Add the onions; toss to coat evenly.

When ready to cook, preheat a large grill pan over high heat. Use tongs to transfer the onion rings to the grill pan and cook for 2 minutes, turning them over once.

Meanwhile, add the beef to the sauce in the mixing bowl and turn to coat on both sides. Move the onion rings aside in the grill pan and use tongs to add the beef to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn the meat and onions over and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, moving them around in the pan, until evenly done.

To serve, drizzle the reserved sauce over the beef; divide among individual plates, along with the onions. Serve hot.

*We used 2 large onions
**We couldn't find this beef, so we used stew beef and cut it smaller. I think next time we'd get a steak or filet and slice it up.

Recipe Source:
Adapted from "Rocco's Real Life Recipes: Fast Flavor for Every Day," by Rocco Dispirito (Meredith Books, 2007).

Friday, December 28, 2007

Scalloped Potato Gratin

These were very good, too. We had these Christmas Eve with ham and roasted vegetables.

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.
While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan.
Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

Watergate salad

Ernie requested this for Christmas Eve, so I had to go looking for a recipe. This one was really simple, and it was all gone that night, so it was good, right?

1 pkg. (4 serving size) Pistachio Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie
1 (20 ounce) can Crushed Pineapple, in juice, undrained
1 cup Miniature Marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped Pecans
1 1/2 cups thawed Whipped Topping

Mix dry pudding mix, pineapple, marshmallows and pecans in large bowl until well blended.
Add whipped topping; stir gently until well blended. Cover.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cranberry-Almond Coffeecake

from King Arthur Flour

According to KAF, this is "a lovely cake for Thanksgiving breakfast; and makes a satisfying autumn dessert, as well." I made it on Christmas Eve, and we had it for and with breakfast on Christmas Day. It was absolutely delicious, and incredibly easy. Geoff took the leftovers into the office this morning. I'm sure he won't be bringing any home.

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or yogurt (low-fat is fine)
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (10 3/4 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup blanched slivered or sliced almonds, toasted*

3/4 cup (3 ounces) confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

*Spread almonds in an ungreased 9" round cake pan, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-cup (9" to 9 ½") tube pan or bundt-style pan.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar till smooth. Beat in the eggs, then the buttermilk or yogurt and almond extract. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat briefly again, to make sure everything is well combined. Add the baking powder, baking soda, flour, and salt, stirring just to blend. Grease and flour a tube pan. Spoon half of batter into pan. Spread half of cranberry sauce evenly atop batter, then spread remaining batter over that. Top with remaining cranberry sauce, and sprinkle toasted almonds evenly over sauce.

Bake the cake for 55 minutes, tenting it with foil for the final 15 minutes. When it’s done, a cake tester inserted into the thickest part will come out clean, and the top will spring back when you press it gently. Remove the cake from the oven, and cool it in pan for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn it out of the pan onto a rack set over a piece of parchment, and stir together the glaze ingredients.

Drizzle the thin glaze over the warm cake. Let the cake cool completely before serving (or serve it warm, if you don't mind it crumbling a bit!)
Yield: 1 cake, 14 to 16 servings.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

baked oatmeal

I'm far away from Amish country right now, but the person who posted this on RecipeZaar says this recipe hails from the ol' hometown. Perfect for Jews on Christmas morning. :)

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries (I used golden raisins)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Note: Might be a good idea to let this sit for a while before trying to cut and serve... I'd envisioned it coming out of the baking dish in one solid chunk, like a casserole, but mine definitely fell apart when I cut it basically immediately after pulling it out of the oven, because it smelled too good to wait.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cocoa slices

from Cooking Light Dec. 2007

1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (about 6 2/3 ounces)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup ice water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and measuring spoons; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine 1/3 cup ice water and vanilla; drizzle over flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until moist. Place dough on plastic wrap; shape dough into a 12-inch log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 hour or until dough is firm.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Unwrap dough log. Cut dough log into 24 (1/2-inch-thick) slices; place slices 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool cookies on pans 5 minutes. Remove cookies from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Becky and I thought these needed a little something extra, so we iced them with the leftover icing from making brownies with peppermint icing, and sprinkled crushed candy canes on top.

Potato leek soup

By special request -- I made this for lunch today and Becky, Ernie and I each ate two bowls apiece.

adapted from Soups by Williams and Sonoma

1/4 c. unsalted butter
2 lb leeks, white portions only, trimmed, carefully washed and thinly sliced
6 c. chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
2 lb. baking potatoes, peeled, quartered length-wise and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives (optional)

In a large saucepan, melt the better over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté just until they begin to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add the stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the ptoatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Blend if desired with immersion blender, or leave chunky. Can also add about 1 c. half and half or light cream, if desired.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with chives.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Toasted Coconut and Dark Chocolate Meringues

Bon Appétit, December 2005

My old roommate Kristen used to make these for holidays and other parties, and I would find myself sneaking into the kitchen to snag a bunch of these before she would put them out for the other guests. They were super fantastic. I haven't attempted them yet, but hope to make them for our holiday party this weekend.

1/2 cup unsweetened medium shredded coconut*
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (pieces will vary in size from shavings to the size of small peas; about 2 1/2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread coconut evenly on baking sheet; bake until toasted and evenly golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 275°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar; beat until peaks are thick and fluffy. Fold in coconut and chocolate.

Drop generous rounded teaspoonfuls batter onto prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake until crisp on outside but still soft inside, about 27 minutes. Cool. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead; store in airtight container.)

* Available at some supermarkets and at natural foods stores.

Test-kitchen tip: Make these cookies extra-fabulous by drizzling them with melted chocolate after they have cooled.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Apricot-almond granola

From Cooking Light, December 2007

2 3/4 cups regular oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine oats, almonds, and next 4 ingredients (through raisins) in a medium bowl. Combine honey and butter. Drizzle honey mixture over oat mixture; toss to coat. Spread mixture in a single layer onto a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes; stir. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on pan. Break into pieces.

Peppermint bark

This recipe is from Simply Recipes. It's incredibly easy to throw together and it tastes incredible, too.

12 oz. of high-quality white chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips
5 regular sized candy canes, crushed up
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract

Break up peppermint candy into little pieces. Melt the chocolate according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once melted, add the peppermint extract and stir.
Pour the melted chocolate out onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out with a spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle the peppermint candy chunks on to the chocolate and gently press them in with yours hands.
Place in the freezer for 5 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces and serve or store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies

From: Culinary in the Country

I first found, and then lost, this recipe a couple of weeks ago. I really wanted to make them for our office party last week, where I have been taste-testing cookies for possible inclusion in our wedding cookie bar next year. After searching all the usual food blogs and not finding it again, I put out an SOS to Shannon, who found the recipe promptly. I think I missed it because I was looking for Rollo cookies, and the title clearly says "caramel-filled." At any rate, they were a big hit at work and at home, and I think will make it onto the cookie bar. The actual chocolate cookie isn't tremendously sweet, which works for me because I don't like super sweet things. This has more of a dark-chocolate flavor. I thought they were best just out of the oven while the caramel was still warm and gooey.

1 cup butter,softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
48 Rollo candies (chocolate-covered caramels)

Beat butter until creamy. Gradually beat in white sugar and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and cocoa. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Work with one part at a time, leaving the remainder in the refrigerator until needed. Divide each part into 12 pieces. Press each piece
of dough around a Rollo. Roll into a ball. Dip the tops gently into the granulated sugar. Place sugar side up, 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.

Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven, rotating pan halfway at 4 minutes. Let cool for 4 minutes on the baking sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely. If you try to take them off sooner the caramel might try to come out the bottom

Sunday, December 16, 2007

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

These are supposed to be wheat free, but I didn't have any gluten free white flour or gluten free baking powder, so they're just normal. If you wanted them wheat free, though, just substitute those two ingredients. This recipe is from Waitrose's monthly recipe cards.

125g slightly salted butter, softened
150g light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain white flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
100g white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
50g fresh or dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C /400 F.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together until light and creamy.

3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, chocolate and cranberries, plus 2 tablespoons of cold water and mix until they are thoroughly combined.

4. Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking trays, leaving plenty of space between them for the cooks to expand during cooking.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. (My first batch had burned at 15 minutes, so I would recommend trying 10-12 then checking them. I had been baking for a couple of hours, though, and I think my oven tends to be hotter anyway) Remove from oven and leave on the baking trays for 2-3 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.


These are like sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking. They're so easy and absolutely delicious. The recipe is from Betty Crocker's cookbook.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

(You can use self-rising flour, which I did, but be sure to leave out the cream of tartar, baking soda and salt)

1. Heat oven to 400 F

2. In a large bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, shortening and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

3. Shape the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon sugar mixture then place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

4. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Black Beans with Sausage (Crockpot)

This is a wonderful slow cooker recipe that fills the house with its delicious aroma and makes me hungry all day. It's from The Slow Cooker Cookbook by Gina Steer.

Serves 4

225g / 8oz dried black beans, soaked overnight (I use kidney beans and pinto beans as well)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 celery sticks, trimmed and chopped
1/2 - 1 tsp dried crushed chillies
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried mustard powder
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
8 spicy pork or Toulouse sausages
410g / 14 1/2oz can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp maple syrup
300ml / 1/2 pint beef or chicken stock
2 fresh bay leaves

1. Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water. Next day, preheat the cooker on high while preparing the ingredients. Drain the beans, rinse and place in a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil steadily for 10 minutes, then drain and place in the slow cooker. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion, garlic and celery with the chillies, cumin and mustard powder for 3 minutes. Add the pepper, stir well, spoon into the cooker and stir into the beans.

2. Add the sausages to the pan and cook until browned all over. Remove and place on top of the bean mixture. Blend the tomatoes with the maple syrup and stock, then pour over the sausages and add the bay leaves to the pot. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours.

It goes beautifully with cornbread muffins.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Karen’s Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

This is from my supervisor at work. She makes great baked goods, and apparently this is a recipe that she made sometime last year, before I started working here, but people still talk about these cookies. (The notes are hers. I haven't had a chance to try them yet, but I didn't want to wait to post them since they sound so good!)

Makes about 25 sandwiches

1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 3 large carrots)
1 cup chocolate chips (the original recipe calls for raisins)

Cream Cheese Frosting: cream 8 oz butter until fluffy, add 8 oz cream cheese and beat until smooth, add 1 lb confectioner’s sugar and mix till smooth again, finally add 1 tsp vanilla.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugars and butter; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined. (** note: parchment paper makes clean up MUCH easier, but if you don’t have it just use greased cookie sheets instead)

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. Mix in oats, carrots, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

3. Using a small spoon, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 12 to 15 minutes (I never rotate them- too much trouble). Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, spread a generous amount of cream-cheese filling onto a cookie. (You’ll likely have extra frosting with this recipe.) Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. (Note: You can also freeze them for storage, and serve cold or let sit at room temperature before serving. I like to freeze them spread out on a cookie sheet so they don’t stick together, and then package in a Ziploc bag so they can be taken out one at a time.)

Pasta Skillet with Beans and Tomatoes

from Cooking Light (June 1998, but I found it on their website)

This was really easy to put together, and we liked the combination of flavors. It helps that I love chickpeas.

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped tomato
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups hot cooked angel hair (about 6 ounces uncooked pasta)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Asiago cheese
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Basil sprigs (optional)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomato and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Add pasta, basil, salt, pepper, and chickpeas; cook 2 minutes. Place mixture in a bowl; stir in cheese and vinegar, and garnish with basil, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (1-1/2 cups)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chocolate Almond Cherry Crisps

from Cooking Light, Dec. 2007

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups oven-toasted rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Cover a large baking sheet with wax paper.
Place semisweet and white chocolate chips in a medium glass bowl; microwave at HIGH 45 seconds. Stir, and microwave an additional 45 seconds or until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Add cereal and remaining ingredients; stir quickly to combine. Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet; chill 1 hour or until firm.

Oatmeal, chocolate chip and pecan cookies

from Cooking Light, Dec. 2007

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
1 cup regular oats
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips
Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk; set aside.
Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg; beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in pecans and minichips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Parmesan-crusted polenta with sausage-mushroom ragout

adapted from Gourmet, Dec. 2007

I've taken the liberty of changing the directions a little, because they made no sense to me the way they were written. This was quick to pull together, and very tasty. You could easily make it vegetarian by omitting the sausage and increasing the mushrooms, or you could substitute turkey Italian sausage. We, however, used good old pork sausage. It made enough for Ernie to have seconds, and for me to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

2 lb. precooked polenta (we used some that was garlic and sundried tomato flavored), cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1/3 c. grated parmesan
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casing removed (I used the stuff in the big tube, so I didn't have to remove the casing)
1/2 lb. mixed sliced fresh wild mushrooms
1/2 c. dry red wine
1 1/2 c. bottled marinara sauce

Preheat broiler. Broil polenta rounds on a lightly oiled large heavy baking sheet until lightly browned in spots, about 7 minutes. Turn rounds over and sprinkle with cheese, then broil until polenta is golden in spots and cheese is melted, about 7 more minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over high heat, then cook sausage, breaking up lumps until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Heat remaning Tbsp. of oil in skillet over medium heat, then cook mushrooms until softened, about 3 minutes. Add wine and boil, scraping up any brown bits, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
Stir in sausage and tomato sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Season with salt.
Serve ragout spooned over polenta.

slow cooker chicken "pot pie"

I got this recipe from another blog I read. The author had gotten the recipe from, where it was called chicken and dumplings. Geoff and I thought it was more like a pot pie, so I'm renaming it here. The crust isn't a traditional pot pie crust, which is why I'm putting that part in quotes.

Maybe if you left out the veggies, it would be more chicken-and-dumplings-ish.

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (we used the Healthy Request version)
1 can condensed cream of celery soup (we used the Healthy Request version)
1 onion, finely diced
Veggies of your choice (we used a frozen bag of corn, peas, and carrots) -- optional
Enough chicken broth to cover the chicken (we used about a cup, maybe more)
1 (10 ounce) package refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces

Place the chicken, soup, and onion (and veggies if you so choose) in a slow cooker, and fill with enough chicken broth to cover.

Cover, and cook for 8-9 hours on low (we got started late, so we did 5 hours on high). About 1 hour before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

yogurt muffins with blueberries (or other stuff)

From Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian -- Chanukah present! Yay! These muffins have infinite variations, but I made them with yogurt and blueberries tonight, and they were delicious and v. healthy.

Basic muffin recipe:

3 T melted butter or neutral oil (grapeseed or corn)
2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar, or to taste
1/2 t salt
3 t baking powder
1 egg
1 c milk, plus more if needed

1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease standard 12-c muffin tin or line with muffin cups.

2. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, and melted butter or oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy but smooth, and thick but quite moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.

3. Spoon batter into the muffin tins, filling them about 2/3 full and handling the batter as little as possible. Bake 20 or 30 minutes (mine were actually done in a little less than 20), or until the muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin.

Variation for blueberry or cranberry muffins:
Great with cornmeal substituted for up to 1/2 c of the flour: Add 1 t ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients; increase the sugar to 1/2 c. Stir 1 c fresh berries into the batter at the last minute. You can also use frozen berries; do not defrost them first. Blueberry muffins are good with 1/2 t grated or minced lemon zest added to the batter along with the wet ingredients. Cranberry muffins are excellent with 1/2 c chopped nuts and/or 1 T grated or minced orange zest added to the prepared batter.

Variation for sour cream or yogurt muffins:
Rich and tender, with a hint of sourness. (I think that may be what made this batch good and different-tasting than usual muffins.) Reduce baking powder to 1 t and add 1/2 t baking soda to dry ingredients. Substitute 1 1/4 c sour cream or yogurt for th emilk and cut the butter or oil back to 1 T. Proceed with the recipe.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Crockpot mexican chicken

When Becky and I were on our way back from Baldwin on Friday, we were talking (what else?) food.
She shared this recipe with me and since I don't see it on the blog, I'm putting it up here. I didn't believe her completely when she said how good it was, but I trust Becky's taste in food, so I tried it.
She's right, it's that good. And easy.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can corn (I used the no-salt kind)
1 can black beans
1 jar medium (or hot) salsa

Put the chicken breasts on the bottom of the slow cooker. Dump all the other stuff (don't drain) on top. Cook on low for at least 5 hours. I cooked mine for 9 hours, Becky says she sometimes cooks it for 11 hours. Shred the chicken with two forks.
Serve on tortillas with other taco fixings, if you like. Or eat it out of the crockpot, which I'm not ashamed to admit I just did.
We'll be eating it later this week in taco salads (with baked taco shells).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

bourbon bread pudding

Made this for a friend in lieu of a birthday cake -- she loves bourbon and loved this bread pudding, but it is quite bourbon-y and I'd recommend serving the sauce on the side. I thought it was best without the sauce, with just the little taste from the raisins. No leftovers, but I think it would have been good the day after.

from Simply Recipes

Bourbon Sauce:

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey (I don't think you necessarily need this much)

Bread Pudding:

* 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch squares (about 6-7 cups)
* 1 qt milk
* 3 eggs, lightly beaten
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 Tbsp vanilla
* 1 cup raisins (soaked overnight in 1/4 cup bourbon)
* 1/4 teaspoon allspice
* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Bourbon Sauce:

In a saucepan, melt butter; add sugar and egg, whisking to blend well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Whisk in bourbon to taste. Remove from heat and let cool. Whisk before serving. The sauce should be soft, creamy, and smooth.

Bread Pudding:

1 Preheat oven to 350°F.

2 Soak the bread in milk in a large mixing bowl. Crush with hands until well mixed and all the milk is absorbed. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices together. Gently stir into the bread mixture. Gently stir the raisins into the mixture.

3 Pour butter into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the butter. Pour in the bread mix and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, until set. The pudding is done when the edges start getting a bit brown and pull away from the edge of the pan. Can also make in individual ramekins.

Serve with bourbon whiskey sauce on the side; pour on to taste. Best fresh and eaten the day it is made. Makes 8-10 servings.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cheesy Mexican Chicken

I can't remember where I got this recipe from. I think I had found several like it on the web and sort of adapted them. It's a lovely, easy, warming meal that can be thrown together in no time. I've put the approximate amounts I use for just the two of us - for 3 people, you could probably get away with just bulking up the sauce with more chicken and veg, but definitely double everything for four.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 packet of taco seasoning*
2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 pepper (I use red or green, depending on what I have), chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
roughly broken taco shells or tortilla chips

*Admittedly, with the cream of chicken soup and taco seasoning and cheese and tortilla chips, it can get a bit salty, so if you're watching your sodium levels, you can get the same effect by making your own seasoning with paprika, cumin, ground coriander and crushed chillies.

Preheat the oven to 325F / 170C.

Heat a bit of oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the chicken and pepper. When the chicken is sealed, stir in the cream of chicken soup and taco seasoning. Allow it to warm to almost a simmer and then add half the cheese. Once the cheese is melted in, add the frozen corn and bring it to a simmer.

Transfer the chicken and sauce to a casserole dish and cover with the broken taco shells. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes and then add the remaining cheese to the top. Put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling around the sides.

Serve with rice and a salad.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Berry and Cherry Flapjacks

In Scotland flapjacks are like chewy granola bars. I made these for my brother's visit expecting them to last most of the week, but they had disappeared within about 24 hours. They're so simple and reasonably healthy - good for kids' lunch boxes, midmorning snacks, or even for breakfast on the go. The recipe comes from, and I have put the original recipe and the conversions, so hopefully this will make sense.

150g / 5.5oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
75g / 2.75oz light brown sugar
3 tbsp / 5-6tbsp clear honey**
250g / 9oz rolled oats (I think Quaker oats are rolled - not the instant ones)
170g / 6oz dried berries (I used cranberries and blueberries, but any kind of berry/raisin is nice)
50g / 1.75oz chopped nuts (I used almonds, but again, anything works)

**I think the tablespoons here are much bigger - I used 4 US tablespoons, and it wasn't quite enough and bits were too crumbly - the honey helps it stick together, so it's worth using a fair amount

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F. Place the butter, sugar and honey in a medium pan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.

Remove from the heat and stir in the oats, dried fruit and nuts. Press the mixture into a lightly greased 30cm x 20 cm x 4cm / roughly 12in x 8in x 1.5in rectangular non-stick tin and bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then score lightly with a knife into 12 bars. Leave to cool completely in the tin before removing. The flapjacks can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Zucchini & Chickpea Filo Pie

From Nigella Lawson.

*be sure that your filo is thawed (if frozen) and has been sitting at room temp for 2 hrs before using (this was the mistake I made--it still tasted good but it's a total pain to try and work with frozen filo)

1 t cumin seeds
1 small onion, small dice
2 T olive oil
1/2 t ground tumeric
1 t ground coriander
3 plump zucchini, unpeeled and diced
generous 1/2 C basmati rice (I used jasmine rice)
2 1/4 C vegetable stock (or chix stock if you prefer)
2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, drained
scant 1/2 C melted butter
7 oz. filo dough

Preheat oven to 400 and dig out an 8" springform pan

Gently fry the cumin seeds and onion in the olive oil until the onions are soft. Add the tumeric and coriander and diced zucchini. When zucch. is soft but still holding its shape, add rice and stir, letting the rice become well coated with oil. Add the stock 1/2 C at a time stirring until liquid is absorbed. Once all stock is absorbed, rice should be done. Stir in chickpeas and check seasoning (I found that it needed a little S&P). Remove from heat.

Brush the inside of the springform pan with butter. Line bottom and sides with 3/4 of the filo, buttering each piece as you layer. Leave a little filo overlapping the sides and keep 3-4 layers for the top. Carefully put in the fillings and then fold in overlaps. Butter the last layers of filo and scrunch on top of pie as a covering. Brush with a final coat of butter and put in the oven for 20 min. (or until top is browned and middle is hot).

I served this with a green salad and can't wait to eat it again tomorrow for lunch. Love that Nigella!

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

From Paula Deen

Y'all, this is so good. Seriously. It's not low in fat but it doesn't matter--it's delicious. And it's holiday time. Yum!

1 18 1/4 oz. box of yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg

1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
1 16 oz. box of 10x sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ingredients for cake and pat into a lightly greased 13 x 9" pan. For filling: in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.*

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

* I think I over-baked mine but it's easy to do b/c it's so wobbly when you check it at 40 and 50 minutes. I think an hour should do it and know that it will firm up a bit when it cools.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Beef Daube Provencal

From Cooking Light, September 2007

This dish was awesome. It was in the 20th anniversary edition of Cooking Light as their best beef dish over the years. We like beef stew in our house, but I usually make it with a brown gravy. This stew had a really different flavor- bright and tangy from the wine and tomatoes. I will definitely make it again. I used stew beef that was already cubed in the grocery store, rather than the chuck roast, and it came out really tender and flavorful. I also used dried herbs, because that's what I had.

2 tsp olive oil
12 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (2 lb) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-in cubes *
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup less-sodium beef broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
dash of ground cloves
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
3 cups hot cooked medium egg noodles

1) Preheat oven to 300.
2) Heat oil in a small dutch oven over low heat. Add garlic to pan; cook for 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occassionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan and bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add garlic, beef, remaining 1 tsp salt, remaining 1/4 black pepper, carrots, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; bring to a boil.
3) Cover and bake at 300 for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles.

Yield: 6 servings (3/4 cup stew and 1/2 cup noodles).

Notes: to make in a slow cooker, prepare through step 2. Place mixture in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Waldorf chicken salad

First an introduction, then a recipe. My friend from college, Kate, is going to be joining the food blog. She's living in Scotland with her husband, so I'm betting recipes come across in metrics. I'll link to a handy converter on the side where we keep our food blog links.
So yay! Welcome Kate.
Also, I believe we may be getting a few more food bloggers shortly.

And now, for the recipe. I made this Monday night when Gwen came to the house, and it was really good. It was a pretty tangy dressing -- at first, I thought I might leave out the lemon next time, but when I ate the leftovers yesterday, it had melded pretty well. Maybe this is a recipe to make one day, eat the next.
We ate this with mini croissants and roasted brussel sprouts (some olive oil, salt, garlic, roasted for 20 minutes at 400), but it'd also be good in a wrap for lunch.

Waldorf Chicken Salad

Originally found here

3/4 cups Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced thyme
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded (I used the breast from a rotisserie chicken from the new grocery store near my house)
1/2 cup seedless grapes, halved
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3/4 cup diced Granny Smith Apple (I used a sweet apple, because that's what I had in the house. It was a good contrast in tastes)
fresh ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and thyme until smooth. Add chicken, grapes, walnuts and apples - toss to combine. Season to taste with pepper.
Serve however you like. It was good with croissants, probably better in a wrap.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

From Simply Recipes (totally my favorite recipe blog lately)

Ta da! I finally made a cookie that turned out well! Yay! I took a bunch to work, and everyone loved them. If you follow the instructions and use 2 Tbsp scoops, these cookies are huge and chewy. I made some a bit smaller, and they didn't lose the chewiness like the recipe threatens. Next time I think I'll use dried cranberries instead of raisins, and maybe a bit of cinnamon in addition to the nutmeg. These were really good as is, though.

Makes about 18 large chewy oatmeal raisin cookies.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups rolled oats (Quick or Old Fashioned)
1 1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1 Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or waxed paper.

2 Either by hand or with electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.

3 Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together in medium bowl. Stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture. Stir in oats, raisins and optional walnuts.

4 Working with generous 2 tablespoons of dough each time, roll dough into 2-inch balls. Place balls on parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each ball.

5 Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool on cooling at least 30 minutes before peeling cookie from parchment.

Notes from Simply Recipes: If you prefer a less sweet cookie, you can reduce the white sugar by one-quarter cup, but you will lose some crispness. Do not overbake these cookies. The edges should be brown, but the rest of the cookie should be very light in color. The trick to making the cookies chewy is to make them large. Smaller cookies tend to get more dried out and crisp, and therefore not as chewy.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

sundry's insanely good pumpkin-chocolate muffins

This is from one of my favorite bloggers, who originally posted the recipe here. These muffins live up to their name, too -- although I can only imagine how insanely good they'd actually be if you, say, used all the ingredients. I managed to forget the oil and they still were great, albeit oddly sticky and spongy. Next time, I'm going to try to substitute applesauce or something for the oil; the fact that the muffins held up well without it suggests they might adapt easily to (deliberate) messing with them to make them a bit healthier.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I, Gwen, used 1 c whole wheat and 3/4 c white)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbls baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 can pumpkin [edited to clarify that this should be the ‘regular’ size can of pumpkin, not the large variety — the original recipe calls for 1 CUP of pumpkin so if that’s easier use that measurement]
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbls molasses
Some amount of chocolate chips

• Preheat oven to 400˚ and lightly grease a 12 muffin tin (I would use paper holders next time, just because it makes them easier to remove).
• Sift (or stir well) flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices together in large bowl.
• In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, milk, oil, and molasses.
• Pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix.
• Stir in your desired amount of chocolate chips (I recommend a “shitload”).
• Fill the muffin cups 2/3s full.
• Bake 18-20 minutes, until toothpick or knife inserted in center comes out clean.

*Another tip: Someone mentioned in the comments that sugar should be considered a "wet" ingredient and should be mixed with the actual wet ingredients. No idea if that's true (or, if so, why) but I did it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Maryland Crab Soup

This a recipe I copied from Isaac's soup recipe book before I quit working there many years ago and it has always been a favorite. Truly, the best soups I ever had were made there and I have yet to find a restaurant that makes such a great variety of tasty homemade soups.

This recipe has been adapted from the original 10 gallon version (that's right: 10 gallons)

1 large red pepper, medium chop
1 large green pepper, medium chop
2 medium onions, small chop
1 T olive oil
2 lbs. red fingerling potatoes
3 6 oz. cans of lump crab meat (if you can get it fresh, all the better, but if not, this works well)
3 large cloves garlic
1/2 C Old Bay seasoning
scant 1/4 C. crab base (if you can't find crab base and are using canned crab meat, reserve the juice from the crab and add to soup)
2 cans tomato sauce

Scrub potatoes and cut into 1 inch pieces. Cover with water and cook until almost done. Drain into a colander and reserve for later. In a large pot, add olive oil, onions and peppers. Once soft, add tomato sauce, garlic, crab base (or juice) and Old Bay and about 4 C of water (I don't measure this exactly, I just add water until it looks good). Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and add crab meat. Stir carefully to prevent breaking up the crab too much. Simmer until potatoes are done. I like to serve this with a loaf of cheddar garlic bread from Big Sky Bread (or homemade if you have time). It makes enough for dinner plus a fe lunches and I even gave some to my in-laws and neighbors.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pea Salad with Smoked Almonds

another tasty recipe from Simply Recipes

I wasn't sure I would like this, because I am not a huge fan of peas, but this was pretty tasty. I would bring this as a side dish to pot-lucks, BBQ's, etc. It tasted good and only took 5 minutes to prepare. Can't get much better than that. I did rinse the almonds, even though that seemed weird, and they still tasted good (and a little spicy). Blue Diamond makes a 6oz can of jalepeno smokehouse almonds, which is what I think this recipes is calling for.

16-ounces frozen petite peas (do not thaw)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
6 ounces smokehouse almonds, rinsed to take off the excess salt, chopped (preferably by hand)
8 ounces chopped water chestnuts
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp yellow curry powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the frozen peas, green onions, smokehouse almonds, and water chestnuts. In a separate small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and curry powder. Gently stir the mayonnaise mixture into peas. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serves 6.

Notes from Beth: Can make the morning of, but add the almonds when you serve. Still good the next day but should be made the day you serve. Wonderful served with sliced tomato and avocado and chicken for lunch.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cookie SOS

For the love of all things cookie... I need some help. I can't bake cookies to save my life. This is more than a little unfortunate because a) I like cookies, b) Todd LOVES cookies, and c) I was thinking about having a cookie bar for dessert at our wedding reception, and I have grand plans to bake all these cookies ahead of time, freeze them, and then serve zillions of cookies in big glass jars at the end of the reception.

And I can't bake myself one damn cookie. Please tell me what I am doing wrong. My cookies don't rise, and they stay gooey, but in a bad way -they won't come off the cookie sheet in the form of a cookie - they smoosh all up when I try to life them off the cookie sheet, and then they fall apart when I try to unsmoosh them onto the drying rack. It's a big disaster. So, here are the details:

I'm using the air-bake dual-layer cookie sheets with the layer of air in between so the bottoms don't burn. For what it's worth, the bottoms of my cookies never burn.

I put the bowl of dough back in the fridge between batches to keep it cold.

Tonight I started with eggs that had been sitting out for about an hour, because room temperature eggs are supposed to help the cookies rise.

I let the cookies sit on the tray for a few minutes when they come out of the oven before I move them to the drying rack. How long is this step supposed to take? I usually only leave them on the tray for a few minutes (3 minutes maybe? Should I leave them there longer?)

I don't know what's wrong. They just melt all over the cookie sheet, every time, whether it's the recipe on the back of the yellow bag, or some fancy recipe I found online with a hundred comments from other people who have tried the recipe and had fantastic results. My cookies TASTE good, but they're not something I could serve to others, unless it was crumbled on top of an ice cream sundae. They don't hold their own as cookies... they just end up in a big falling apart, ugly mess.

Any suggestions? I get really frustrated every time this happens. I just want to be able to make a good cookie, dmn it. Sigh.

Pear & Goat Cheese Tarts

Another recipe from Geoff's and my party, at Shannon's request. We made these the night before, then reheated them. Yum!

Pear & Goat Cheese Tarts
from Southern Living

1 (15-oz.) package refrigerator piecrusts
2 (4-oz.) packages goat cheese, crumbled
1 to 2 ripe pears, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1. Unfold piecrusts, and cut each in half; cut each half into 3 pieces. Place 1 piece into a lightly greased muffin cup in a muffin pan. Fold and press pastry piece to form a cup shape. Repeat procedure with remaining pastry pieces.

2. Bake at 375° for 8 minutes or until edges of pastries are lightly browned. Remove pan to a wire rack.

3. Stir together goat cheese and next 3 ingredients. Spoon evenly into pastry shells.

4. Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool 2 minutes.

Yield: 12 tarts

Pumpkin cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting

This is something else Geoff and I made for the party. We actually did mini-cupcakes instead of regular-sized ones. One batch makes about 36 minis.

from Sunset magazine

1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
Orange cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
Candy sprinkles (optional)

1. In a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add pumpkin and vanilla and beat until well blended (mixture will look separated at this point).

2. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Stir half the flour mixture into pumpkin mixture. Stir in milk just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture and stir just until incorporated. Spoon batter equally into 12 muffin cups (1/3-cup capacity; cups should be about 3/4 full) lined with paper baking cups.

3. Bake in a 350° regular or convection oven until tops spring back when lightly pressed in the center and a wooden skewer inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes; remove cupcakes from pans and set on racks to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

4. Spoon orange cream cheese frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch star tip and pipe onto tops of cupcakes, or spread on cupcakes with a knife. Decorate with candy sprinkles, if desired.

Orange cream cheese frosting: In a bowl, with a mixer on low speed, beat 6 ounces cream cheese and 6 tablespoons butter, both at room temperature, until well blended. Beat in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon finely minced orange peel, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon orange extract until smooth.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Candy Apple (Rum) Punch

Geoff and I had a party over the weekend, and we made 4 batches worth for about 30 people. It was nearly gone by the end of the night, proving its popularity. Super easy, but be sure to allow time for it to "marinate."

Candy Apple (Rum) Punch
from Cooking Light

6 cups cranberry-apple drink
3 cups water
15 hard cinnamon candies
1 (6-ounce) can thawed limeade concentrate, undiluted

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Cover and chill 8 hours, or until candies are dissolved. Pour mixture into a large Dutch oven, cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 10 servings (1 cup)

*If using rum, substitute one cup of rum for one cup of water.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ribeye steaks in red-wine sauce

from Gourmet Nov. 2007

This recipe was super good, and easy to put together. If you're looking for a good, quick steak recipe, I'd recommend this one.

4 boneless ribeye steaks (we used two, because there were only two of us)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used the garlic press)
3/4 c. dry red wine
1/4 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley

Pat steaks dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat untl it shimmers, then saute steaks, turning once, about 4 minutes for medium-rare.
Transfer to a large plate and cover with foil.
Pour off fat from skillet, then saute garlic in remaining oil over medium high heat until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add wine and boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add water, soy sauce, and any meat juices from plate and boil until reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium low and whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time, until slightly thickened. Stir in parsley and pour sauce over steak.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Curried Carrot and Cauliflower Quiche

"Basic quiche recipe" adapted from (Basic quiche by Shelly).
Curried Carrot and Cauliflower created by my supervisor, Karen

Start with the basic recipe, and then add whatever filling ingredients you like!

Basic Quiche:

5 eggs
1 1/4 cup half and half (or combination of half-and-half, cream, or milk)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
4 oz Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
2 oz mozzarella, shredded
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust
* any additional filling ingredients, optional

Preheat oven to 425. Place pie crust in ungreased pie plate. Place in oven for 5 minutes to crisp the crust. Remove crust from oven. In large bowl, whisk together the eggs and half-and-half. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir cheese into egg mixture. Pour egg mixture into pie crust. (add optional filling ingredients). Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes longer, or until crust is golden and filling is set. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Filling possibilities are endless - try different combinations of veggies and cheese - gruyere, gouda, cheddar, havarti, swiss, etc. Zucchini, mushrooms, tomato, broccoli, bacon, ham, sliced apples, etc, etc, etc.

Curried Carrot and Cauliflower filling:
Karen made this up as she went along, but the results were really tasty. I'm just guessing on the measurements here, since there really isn't a recipe to go from. This is my best estimate of how much I used when I tried to duplicate her recipe on my own tonight, and it came out pretty well. I didn't use much cheese with these ingredients, but I did add just a bit, because I can't imagine quiche without cheese!

1/2 yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
olive oil
3/4 cup shredded carrot (or more, depending on taste)
1 cup chopped cauliflower
curry paste or powder, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
cumin, to taste

Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and saute until just beginning to turn golden. Add shredded carrot and cauliflower. Sprinkle mixture with curry, salt, pepper, and cumin. Stir mixture to coat with spices. Cover pan with a lid for a few minutes to help the cauliflower soften. Add this mixture to the basic quiche recipe after the pie crust has been filled with the egg mixture, or add to the egg mixture before it is poured into the crust. Bake according to directions listed above.

two apple butter recipes

At Shannon's request. I'm not sure if I've made both or one or neither of these recipes, so I can't really vouch for them. But what could be bad, really. The first is stovetop, the second is crockpot. Cook-off time, Shannon! :)

Spirited Apple Butter
from Betty Crocker

1 can (12 oz.) frozen apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup sweet red wine or apple cider
4 lb. cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into fourths
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. apple brandy or apple cider
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground cloves

1. Heat apple juice conecntrate, wine and apples to boiling in Dutch oven; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until apples are very soft. Mash with potato masher if necessary, to remove all lumps.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until no liquid separates from pulp.

(this is hopefully optional) 3. Immediately pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars; seal. Cool on rack 1 hour. Store in refrigerator up to 2 months.

Apple Butter
from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

5 lbs. tart cooking apples, unpeeled, cored and cut up, or enough apples to fill your cooker
2 c sugar
1 c apple juice or cider (optional; see step 1)
1 1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground allspice
pinch of salt

1. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Fill with the apples, almost to the top; the exact amount is not critical. As you load in the apples, sprinkle the sugar in layers. Cover and let stand at room temperature all day; the apples will exude some of their own juice and collapse slightly. If you want to skip this step, just add the apple juice.

2. Add the spices and salt and toss the apples with a large wooden spoon. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours, or overnight.

3. In the morning, remove the lid and let the apple butter cook an additional 2 to 8 hours on low to reach desired thickness.

4. Turn off the cooker and let cool to room temperature in the crock. ["the crock"? really? this cookbook is weird] Transfer to a blender or food processor, or use a handheld immersion blender right in the crock [seriously...] and puree the butter until completely smooth. Scrape with a rubber spatula into spring-top glass jars (or use screw tops with new lids). Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Or transfer to small plastic storage containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Mushroom Stroganoff

I've been meaning to post this for a while. I think Real Simple includes lots of tasty-sounding recipes within its pages but there aren't that many that are meatless so I modify where I can and end up with very tasty veg suppers.

adapted from Real Simple*

1 T olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 red peppers, thinly sliced
1.5 t kosher salt
.5 t pepper
1 lb (or more) mushrooms (I use a mix of button and baby bellas)
1 C dry white wine
1 C veg broth
1 t Worcestershire
2 T dijon mustard
1/2 C sour cream
splash or two of hot sauce

Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat and add onions and cook until soft. Add peppers and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms sweat out their liquid (about6 min.). Remove veg and add S&P, wine and broth to pan and bring to a boil. Add Worcestershire, dijon and hot sauce and whisk until smooth. Reduce liquid to about half, reduce heat and whisk in sour cream. Do not let sauce boil. And watch the heat or your sour cream will break and become grainy. Add veg back in and heat through. Serve over egg noodles, rice or toast.

*the original recipe uses 4 chicken breasts and 8 oz. of mushrooms. If using chx, cook veg and remove, then cook breasts and remove, then make sauce.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Apple Cranberry Stuffed Pork Roast Recipe

from: Simply Recipes

ok, this recipe sounds a little involved... and it is, but just a little. It really wasn't that bad, and the results were super fantastic. I should have taken a picture after I made the first slice. It was definitely an impressive holiday-worthy dish. Check out the original post here for pictures of the whole butterflying process. It really was not difficult. I didn't have a few of the ingredients, so my substitutions are in parentheses. Also, I was thinking you might be able to do this with a boneless turkey breast as well, if you're not a pork eater.

1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large shallot, peeled, thinly sliced (I used a yellow onion)
1 1/2 cups dried apples (packed) (I used 2 Granny Smith apples, chopped)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds (I stirred in a little dijon mustard instead)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (I used cinnamon and nutmeg instead)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pork Roast
2 1/2 pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast (short and wide - about 7-8 inches long and 4-5 inches wide)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Before starting on the pork, put the pork roast in the freezer for 30 minutes to make it easier to cut. While the pork is chilling, you can make the filling.

2 Bring all the filling ingredients to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until apples are very soft, about 20 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the liquid. Use a rubber spatula to press against the apple mixture in the sieve to extract as much liquid out as possible. Return liquid to saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside and reserve this liquid for use as a glaze. Pulse apple mixture in food processor, about fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside. (I forgot to put it in the food processor, and it was fine just the way it was).

Preheat oven to 350°F or prepare your grill for indirect heat. You will be "double-butterflying" the pork roast. Lay the roast down, fat side up. Insert the knife into the roast 1/2-inch horizontally from the bottom of the roast, along the long side of the roast. Make a long cut along the bottom of the roast, stopping 1/2 inch before the edge of the roast. You might find it easier to handle by starting at a corner of the roast.

Open up the roast and continue to cut through the thicker half of the roast, again keeping 1/2 inch from the bottom. Repeat until the roast is an even 1/2-inch thickness all over when laid out.

If necessary, pound the roast to an even thickness with a meat pounder.

3 Season the inside of the roast well with salt and pepper. Spread out the filling on the roast, leaving a 1/2-inch border from the edges. Starting with the short side of the roast, roll it up very tightly. Secure with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals. Season the outside of the roast generously with salt and pepper.

4 Place roast on a rack in a roasting pan, place in oven, on the middle rack.

You can also grill the roast, using indirect heat either gas or charcoal. If you are using charcoal, use about 5 pounds of coals, bank them to one side. Preheat the grill, covered. Wipe the grates with olive oil. Place roast, fat side up, on the side of the grill that has no coals underneath. Place the lid on the grill, with the vent directly over the roast. If you are grilling with gas, place all the burners on high for 15 minutes to heat the grates, brush grates with olive oil, turn off the middle burner, place roast fat-side up on middle burner. If you are grilling, turn roast half way through the cooking.

Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, until the internal temperature of the roast is 130 to 135 degrees. Brush with half of the glaze and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove the roast from the oven or grill. Place it on a cutting board. Tent it with foil to rest and keep warm for 15 minutes before slicing.

5 Slice into 1/2-inch wide pieces, removing the cooking twine as you cut the roast. Serve with remaining glaze.

Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

Geoff and I had my parents, grandmother, and aunt over for dinner on Friday night, so I went on a recipe hunt for something quick, easy, and could be made ahead of time. This casserole fit the bill.

Chicken & Broccoli Casserole
from Cooking Light (online recipe database)


3 quarts water
1 (12-ounce) package broccoli florets
(6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated fat-free milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of nutmeg (I did 4 shakes of the container)
1 cup fat-free mayonnaise (we used full-fat, since we couldn't find an 8-oz jar of fat-free, and didn't want extra mayo hanging around in the fridge)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream (we had light sour cream on hand, and used that instead)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed 30% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.

Bring water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add broccoli, and cook 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Transfer broccoli to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Add chicken to boiling water; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until done. Transfer chicken to a cutting board; cool slightly. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces, and add chicken to bowl with broccoli.

Combine evaporated milk, flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add mayonnaise, next 4 ingredients (through soup), and 1/2 cup cheese, stirring until well combined. Add mayonnaise mixture to broccoli mixture; stir gently until combined.

Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 50 minutes or until mixture bubbles at the edges and cheese begins to brown. Remove from oven; let cool on a wire rack 5 minutes.

8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

1. Ours only took about 30 minutes to cook, so be sure to keep an eye on it, in the event it doesn't take a full 50 minutes.

2. According to Cooking Light, if you want crisper broccoli, boil it for only 3 minutes instead of 5. They also suggest serving this dish with a simple green salad.

3. This will probably not be very pretty when you pull it out of the baking dish. Don't worry, the flavor makes up for it.

Nutritional Info:

Calories 276(25% from fat)

Fat 7.8g (sat 3.5g, mono 1.8g, poly 1.1g)

Protein 31.1g

Cholesterol 66mg

Calcium 365mg

Sodium 696mg

Fiber 2.1g

Iron 1.6mg

Carbohydrate 18.9g

Caramel apple cake

Adapted from Grazing by Julie van Rosendaal (my notes in parenthesis)

2 1/2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can evaporated milk
2 large eggs
3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (she called for 2)
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. chopped pecans (I also left this out, because Ernie just had the bone graft in his mouth)
caramel ice cream topping (the original recipe called for caramels)

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together 1 c. evaporated milk and the eggs. Add to the dry ingredients along with the apples and stir until just blended.
Spread batter into a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle with brown sugar, coconut and pecans. Bake for 40-35 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. If the top is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a piece of tin foil.
If you were going to use the caramels, here's the step where you'd unwrap 20 caramels, and then melt them in a saucepan with about 1/2 c. of evaporated milk.
Or you can do like I did, and just use the squeezable caramel ice cream topping. Squeeze evenly over cake (as much or as little as you like), as soon as it comes out of the oven. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Cream of broccoli soup

from Mama Now Cooks Like This by Susan Mendelson

2-3 lb. broccoli
6 Tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. flour
2 c. half and half
2 c. Vegetable Stock

Steam broccoli for 10 minutes, then drain. Melt butter and add flour, stirring constantly. Add half and half and vegetable stock and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Simmer for 5 minutes. Process half the broccoli in a blender with the soup mixture. Chop remainder of broccoli and add to above.
(This was a little thicker than I like. I think next time I'll thin with some milk or some more vegetable stock. And also add garlic, because everything's better with garlic.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vegetable stock

I know this is a super easy thing, but it's always good to have a good stock recipe on hand.

from "Mama Now Cooks Like This" by Susan Mendelson

2 medium leeks (I didn't have on hand, but I did have large bulb onions. I threw 4 into the pot, and omitted the other onions)
2 large onions
6 large carrots, chopped into large chunks
1 small bunch celery
1 yellow or red pepper, seeded and chopped into chunks
1 small bunch parsley
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme (optional)
16 c. cold water

Place all ingredients in large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
Strain in colander. Chill or freeze until ready to use.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

quinoa salad with mango & herb marinated shrimp

Crazy amounts of fresh herbs make this really, really flavorful and delicious. (Recipe from a blog that I really need to bookmark. See the full post for helpful photos.)

(For the shrimp)
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails cut off
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup each of chopped fresh cilantro, parsley (I skipped but probably would have been good) and mint
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

(For the curry dressing)
2 tablespoons yogurt, mayonnaise, or sour cream (I used fat-free plain yogurt)
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice and zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

(For the Salad)
1 cup quinoa
2 large, ripe mangoes
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 English or 2 Persian cucumebrs, chopped
1/3 cup roasted almonds
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
a handful of fresh spinach leaves

First make the marinade for the shrimp. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, and the chopped cilantro, mint, and parsley. Stir to combine. Add the shrimp, a teaspoon of salt and a grinding of black pepper and stir again to coat the shrimp with the marinade. Cover and put the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Next make the curry dressing. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, curry powder, lime juice and zest, the chopped cilantro and mint.

Whisk in the olive oil and then season with the salt and pepper.

Place the quinoa in a small sauce pan with two cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed the water.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine the cucumber, mango, sliced green onions, and minced jalepeno. When the quinoa has finished cooking, add it to the bowl and stir to combine.

Pour in the curry dressing and the chopped almonds and stir to coat.

Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator. Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for about two minutes per side, just until the turn pale pink.

To serve, place a bed of spinach on a plate, top with the quinoa salad and 4 or 5 shimp and then scatter over the chopped mint. (I skipped the spinach and ate it plain.)

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

From Simply Recipes

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped
1 tart green apple, peeled, cored, chopped
(squash and apple should be 3 to 1 ratio)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper

* I added some maple syrup at the end, too, to add a little more flavor and some sweetness
* I was wondering how this would turn out by using half chicken stock and half milk... I like my butternut squash soups to be creamy.... I might try it that way next time.

Combine butter, onion, celery and carrot in large saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes. Add squash, apple and broth. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or until squash is soft. Puree. Add spices to taste.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Peanut Butter & Honey Gorp

This was super easy to throw together, and it's tasty. My notes in parenthesis.

from Grazing, by Julie van Rosendaal

1/4 c. light or natural peanut butter (I just used my standard Jiff, because that's what I had in the house)
1/4 c. honey or maple syrup (I used honey)
1 c. low fat granola or any dry cereal you like
1 c. cinnamon Teddy Grahams or crumbled graham crackers
1 c. stick pretzels
1 c. dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries or slivered apricots (I used a blend of raisins, cranberries, cherries and blueberries from Trader Joes)

Preheat oven to 300. Combine peanut butter and honey in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds or until melted, stir until smooth. Place granola, Teddy Grahams and pretzels in a large bowl; pour peanut butter mixture over top and toss to coat.
Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and stir in dried fruit.
Cool completely in pan. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fried fish tacos

This recipe is sort of a no-brainer to put together. But the batter for the fish was REALLY good, and we devoured all the fish.
(Also, I finally finished tagging all of the entries. I'd suggest going through some of the older entries -- we've cooked some really good things over the years.)

1 quart vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup beer (not dark)
1 pound cod fillet, cut into 3- by 1-inch strips
Shredded lettuce
Sour Cream
Avocado slices
Chopped or sliced radish
Red or green salsa
Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat 1 inch oil in a 10-inch heavy pot (2 to 3 inches deep) over moderate heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 360 degrees F.
Meanwhile, separate tortillas and make 2 stacks of 6. Wrap each stack in foil and heat in oven 12 to 15 minutes.
While tortillas warm, stir together flour and salt in a large bowl, then stir in beer (batter will be thick). Gently stir fish into batter to coat.
Lift each piece of fish out of batter, wiping any excess off on side of bowl, and fry fish in batches, turning once or twice, until golden, 4 to 5
minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Increase oil temperature to 375 degrees F and refry fish in batches, turning once or twice, until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels.
Assemble tacos with warm tortillas, fish, and accompaniments.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pasta with White Beans, Greens, and Lemon

from Cooking Light, September 2007, page 214

This had a nice flavor to it, due to the lemon and crushed red pepper. According to Cooking Light, "this easy dish is comforting for weeknights or a casual dinner with friends."

1 pound uncooked orecchiette ("little ears" pasta -- Geoff and I used twists)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
cooking spray
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil (ours came sliced, we just left them like that)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups trimmed arugula or baby spinach
1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped (about 1 [1-oz] package)
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (we forgot about these, and it was ok, but I think they would have added some good texture)
1/4 cup (1 oz) grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Place pasta in a large bowl; drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat.

Heat a large Dutch oven (we used a 5-qt saucepan, and it worked well) over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic to pan; saute 1 minute or until garlic begins to brown.

Add pasta mixture, tomatoes, pepper, and beans; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in arugula, basil, rind, juice, and salt; cook 1 minute or until arugula wilts.

Spoon 1-1/2 cups pasta mixture into each of 6 shallow bowls; top each serving with 2-1/2 teaspoons pine nuts and 2 teaspoons cheese. Serve immediately.

Calories 438 (25% from fat)
Fat 12.2g (sat 2g, mono 4.7g, poly 3.2g)
Protein 16.2g
Carb 68.2g
Fiber 5.5g
Cholesterol 3mg
Iron 4.4mg
Sodium 623mg
Calcium 132mg

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

low-fat eggplant parmesan

I usually don't trust Weight Watchers recipes, but this one was great. I did it with half zucchini, half eggplant.

cooking spray
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs, Italian-style
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 medium raw eggplant (I needed a lot more than this)
2 large egg white(s), lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce (I used TJ's marinara sauce)
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (hi, Weight Watchers, you need more than this :) )

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 X 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder in a medium-size bowl; set aside. Remove skin from eggplant and trim off ends; slice eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Dip eggplant first into egg whites and then into bread crumb mixture. Bake eggplant on a nonstick cookie sheet until lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes, flipping once.

Place a layer of eggplant on bottom of prepared baking dish, then add 1/3 of tomato sauce and 1/3 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat with 2 more layers in same order. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling, about 10 minutes more. Slice into 4 pieces and serve.

Shrimp gumbo

Ernie cooks dinner once a weekend now. It's good, because it gives me a break and he makes something fantastic. Last Saturday he made this, from a Good Eats recipe.

4 ounces vegetable oil
4 ounces all-purpose flour (my note: just make sure you use equal parts oil and flour, if you're not going to measure by weight)
1 1/2 pounds raw, whole, head-on medium-sized (31-50 count) shrimp
2 quarts water
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced green peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomato
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and browned (or smoked sausage, if you don't want spicy)
1 tablespoon file powder (where to find this? what? you haven't been to Penzey's yet?)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the vegetable oil and flour into a 5 to 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process.
While the roux is baking, de-head, peel and devein the shrimp. Place the shrimp in a bowl and set in the refrigerator. Place the heads and shells in a 4-quart saucepan along with the 2 quarts of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until the liquid has reduced to 1-quart. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a container, discarding the solids.
Once the roux is done, carefully remove it from the oven and set over medium-high heat. Gently add the onions, celery, green peppers and garlic and cook, moving constantly for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Gradually add the shrimp broth while whisking continually. Decrease the heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the shrimp and sausage and stir to combine. Add the file powder while stirring constantly. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving. Serve over rice.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Spicy grits with chorizo, leeks, and corn

from Real Simple, September 2007

Geoff and I really liked the flavors of this dish. It also had a nice fall color, and was pretty hearty. Not a great dish for summer perhaps, but fabulous for fall. Yum!

8 ounces Spanish chorizo (cured sausage), sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 leeks (white and light green parts), thinly sliced*
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, including liquid
kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup grits or polenta
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 ears) or frozen corn, thawed
1 large bunch spinach, tough stems removed

Cook the chorizo over medium-high heat in a large saucepan (we used a 5-qt stockpot, it was plenty big) until browned, about 3 minutes. Spoon off and discard any fat.

Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring until slightly soft, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their liquid, 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil.

Stir in the grits. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the grits are tender and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the corn and spinach and cook, stirring, just until the spinach wilts. Divide among individual bowls.

Substitution: In place of Spanish chorizo -- a flavorful, garlicky sausage -- you can use Italian sausage. Remove it from the casings, crumble, and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, then continue with the recipe as directed.

* Can I just say I hate cleaning leeks? I can never get all the dirt and grit out of the leaves before I start chopping. Ew.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Holy Tofu Mole

[This sounds so good and I can’t resist the name, but I messed it up by being impatient and not waiting until I had raw pepitas. I just used a snack package of pumpkin seeds that were still in their hulls. Very bad idea. The flavors were good, but the seed bits made it indigestible. We had to throw out the whole lot. Made me so sad. I’ll try making it again and let you know how it goes with the correct ingredients…]

1 head of garlic
½tsp olive oil
3 fresh poblano chilies or pasilla chilies
6-8 tomatillos
½C raw, shelled pumpkin seeds [pepitas]
½C fresh cilantro, chopped
½C chicken or vegetable stock OR- water
1.5lb extra firm, low-fat tofu
tamari to taste
2-3C cooked brown rice

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Remove loose, papery skin from garlic and cut in half crosswise.
Rub cut surfaces with olive oil.
Wrap garlic in foil and bake 35 to 40 minutes until garlic is soft. [I just set a few cloves in their skins on a non-greased hot pan for about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes]
Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Squeeze garlic cloves from their skins.
Remove stems and seeds from chilies and paper skins from tomatillos.
Roast chilies & tomatillos under broiler, turning frequently, until skin is evenly blistered and slightly charred.
Place chilies & tomatillos in a paper bag and let cool. Remove skins from chilies and rinse. [I like the charry skins, so I skipped this step & just slid the whole pan of veggies and their juices into the food processor.]
Toast pumpkin seeds in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until seeds have puffed, about 3 minutes.
Do not brown. Transfer seeds to a small bowl, then set aside to cool.
Grind pumpkin seeds to a fine meal in a food processor or blender.
Add roasted garlic, chilies, tomatillos, peppers and cilantro and continue pureeing until smooth.
Heat sauce in a medium skillet and add stock.
Simmer 10 minutes. Slice tofu 1/2-inch thick.
Brush/marinate tofu with tarmari and grill over hot coals or broil in oven, 5 minutes per side.
Serve tofu on a bed of rice topped with mole sauce.

Modified from:!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ben's banana bread

This is a friend's family recipe -- people go crazy whenever he brings it anywhere. It's slightly less banana-y and more dense and dessert-ish than the (extremely delicious in its own right) Banana Bread of Sincere Repentance.

(0) Preheat oven to 350.

(1) In a bowl, combine and then let rise:
.5 C yogurt
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
.5 teaspoons baking soda

(2) In a second bowl, combine:
1.5 ripe or overripe bananas, mashed
1 C sugar
.5 C oil
2 eggs

(3) Combine the contents of both bowls and add:
2 C flour, gently stirred in just until all of it is moist
1 C chocolate chips

(4) Pour into a greased loaf pan and (optional) spinkle walnuts on top.

(5) Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 70 minutes, until firm throughout.

Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, and Basil

from Cooking Light, September 2007, page 198

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4-1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped leek
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
5 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, finely diced

1. Place vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 tablespoon (about 4 minutes). Set aside

2. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek to pan; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in half-and-half, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes, basil, and cheese. Place about 1 cup risotto into each of 6 shallow bowls; drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic syrup and 1/2 teaspoon oil.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lunchbox suggestions?

Alright, so now that we've delved into the land of "big kid school," we've also delved into the land of "big kid" lunches.
So far I've been able to rock Gaby's world with ham or turkey sandwiches, and homemade Lunchables -- turkey, cheese, crackers and carrots.
But that's going to get old quick, I think. I had hoped to pack her hummus, but she's decided she won't touch the stuff. And she's the only kid in the world who doesn't like peanut butter.
Anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

jamaican curry

There is not really a recipe in this post, but I just wanted to share a food moment with folks I know would appreciate it. I am a big fan of ethnic food. I am a big fan of authenticity. This experience involves both in yummy doses.
My very very Jamaican neighbor, Grandma Gertrude, the wife of a man I know only as DaDa, is also the mother of 9 grown children, and grandmother of countless "cousins" who almost all live in our neighborhood. She and I got talking the other night about (what else?) food and cooking; we began discussing the differences between Indian and Jamaican curries. Her family brings curry and jerk seasonings back to the States from Jamaica when they or other family members go. She seemed shocked that I hadn't ever tried Jamaican curry and her descriptions made me eager to try it. Two nights later, she appeared on my doorstep with a small brown paper sack containing a slice of wedding cake from her niece's wedding and a bag of curry powder to do with as I pleased. And I did. And I loved it.
The cake, by the way, tastes very good. The curry, it is amazing. I just cooked some thin slices of chicken and red onion in olive oil and added about a tablespoon of curry. It turned everything golden yellow and smelled very turmericky. I put half of the chicken pieces on a Boboli pizza crust, and I've been eating the other half piece by piece because it's there and it's delicious.
It was so nice of Gertrude to share with me. I knew you guys would feel the love.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Torta di cipolle (onion pie)

I know it sounds really unusual but this is really good stuff. This recipe is from The Culinary Institute of Florence where my in-laws took cooking lessons a few summers ago.

1 1/2 C flour
4 T olive oil
pinch salt
cold water

2 lbs. white onions, finely sliced (it's super easy if you have a mandolin)
1 1/4 C fresh pecorino cheese, finely grated
2 eggs
parsley (the recipe doesn't specify the amount but it's probably a tablespoon or so)
salt & pepper to taste

Shell: Mix together the flour and salt. Add the olive oil and sprinkle cold water over the flour mixture 1 T at a time. Be careful not to handle the dough any more than is necessary. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for 30 min.

Filling: Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and add the onions , salt & pepper. Cook on low heat stirring gently every 5 minutes. Let the onions cook in a covered pan for about an hour. Beat the eggs and add cheese, salt & pepper and parsley. Add the onions to the egg mixture.

Roll out the dough 2 inches larger than the pie pan then place in the pan. Crimp the edges of the shell for about 15-20 minutes in a 450 degree oven. Fill shell with onion/egg mixture and bake for 45 min. Cool slightly and serve.