Monday, December 28, 2009

Sweet & Savory Beef Stew

I'm hungover - from the holidays that is and I'm in no mood to make a big fuss in the kitchen. My slow cooker is once again my savior! I'm typically not a fan of fruit in my savory dishes but the prunes (yes, you heard me right!) give a nice depth of flavor to this hearty winter fare. I'm snowed in and not willing to venture out for crusty bread but good bread and a salad would complete the meal. I'm settling for buttered noodles so my kids more inclined to eat stew with prunes!

Sweet & Savory Beef Stew

1/3 C. all purpose flour
2 tsp. paprika
2 lbs. chuck steak or stew meat, cubed in 1-inch pieces
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbl. tomato paste
1 14.5-oz. diced tomatoes, drained
1 3/4 cups chicken broth, I use low-sodium
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch coins
1 cup pitted prunes, chopped
1 Tbl. light brown sugar
optional = carrots, I added some because I just adore cooked carrots and had them!

Combine flour and 1 1/2 tsp. of paprika in a large baggie. Toss in beef (in two batches) and toss to coat. Remove beef from bag and shake off excess flour.

Heat oil in large non-stick pan over med-high heat and brown beef on all sides for about 5 minutes. Remove beef and place in slow cooker.

Reduce heat and add onions and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. each paprika, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook about 4 minutes until soft and stir in tomato paste and cook 2 more minutes. Put this mixture into slow cooker and add diced tomatoes and and broth.. Cook on high for five hours or on low for 7 hours. When you have 1 1/2 hours left, add parsnips, carrots, prunes and the remaining salt, pepper, cinnamon and the brown sugar. (I added parsnips earlier but that's just me!) Serve with either rice, egg noodles or just some crusty good bread.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Hot Rye Spread

I'm not done. I'm not done shopping or wrapping or baking or cooking and don't even get me started on laundry and cleaning. It's a few days before Christmas and the crushing reality is starting to hit me. But I will take a deep breath and try to focus on what makes this holiday special. Friends, family and making memories. So my upcoming dinner with friends won't be gala affair but it will be casual and fun. To really put me in the spirit, I'll be making these little treats as a starter. They are cheesy addiction on bread. They appear at almost every holiday and most importantly, they remind me of my brother who could eat a whole tray of these.

Holiday Hot Rye Spread

1 cup grated Swiss cheese
½ cup bacon bits (can use crumbled real bacon but for speed I use Hormel "real" bacon bits)
1 small onion - finely chopped
2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
⅔ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp. salt
1 clove garlic - minced
1 loaf party rye bread (Pepperidge Farm)

Mix all ingredients and spread layer of cheese mixture on rye bread. Arrange on cookie sheet and broil on high until hot and bubbly then watch them go...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fudge Pie

So I'm not a "pie" person but as you know, I'm a chocoholic. This recipe was a quick fix to a very long week and it was met with grins from two sweet little girls. In fact, the next night I was asked to make another one but declined out of sheer exhaustion. Anyway, with some weekend rest the pie is back on our minds and probably on my hips!

Fudge Pie

2 squares (2-ounces) semisweet chocolate (I just used chips)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar, then temper the eggs by adding a little hot liquid to the beaten eggs then add eggs back into sugar mixture; beat well. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 25 minutes or until just set. Makes a thin pie so it's really more like a tart. I crimped the pie crust down a bit to prevent burning.

Serve warm or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream. Then take a long walk!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pecan Cheesecake Pie

Two for one. Who doesn't like that? No need to choose between the cheesecake and the pecan pie. Have both with this beauty. Easy as pie...and cheesecake!

Pecan Cheesecake Pie

1/2 (15-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs, divided
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
1 cup light corn syrup

Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions. Fold edges under, and crimp.

Beat cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and salt at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture into piecrust; sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans.

Whisk together corn syrup and remaining 3 eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla; pour mixture over pecans. Place pie on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350° on lowest oven rack 50 to 55 minutes or until pie is set. Cool on a wire rack 1 hour or until completely cool. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 2 days.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cornbread from Heaven

It's that good and it comes together in a jiffy. Pun intended - see ingredients! A favorite with chili. Serve with honey for a real treat!

Cornbread from Heaven

3 eggs
1/2 c. corn or vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1 can creamed corn
1 cup sour cream
2 boxes jiffy corn muffin mix

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whip together eggs, oil and salt. Add corn, sour cream and muffin mix. Pour batter into 9x13 pan and bake for 35 minutes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spinach Pie Martha Style

This recipe has served me well for holidays or when I need to bring something different to a dinner party. I channel my inner Martha Stewart since this is her recipe. It's tasty and pretty - so Martha. This originated by my need to make a vegetarian-friendly side but meat-eaters will love it too. The best part is that this recipe makes two pies so you can always freeze one for later!

Spinach Pie

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 packages frozen chopped spinach, (10 ounces each), thawed and squeezed dry
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons dried dill
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 ounces frozen phyllo sheets, thawed and thinly sliced

Make the filling: In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and 2 teaspoons salt; cook until garlic is tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl; stir in spinach, feta, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, dill, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Fold in eggs until combined.

Divide mixture evenly between two 9-inch springform pans or two 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plates; press firmly to flatten.

Make the topping: In a large bowl, gently toss sliced phyllo to separate, then toss with remaining 1/2 cup oil until coated. Divide phyllo between pies, covering the tops evenly and completely. (To freeze, cover pies tightly with plastic wrap, being careful not to flatten topping. Bake within 3 months; do not thaw first.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until heated through and topping is golden brown, about 1 hour 15 minutes for frozen pie (30 minutes for unfrozen pie).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rosemary & Onion Strata

We've all had the typical breakfast egg strata before but this version, given to me by my sis-in-law, is a lovely breakfast that's a little more sophisticated for company. Great for those that don't eat meat too!

Overnight Rosemary & Onion Strata

I large onion, chopped
2 Tbls. butter
1 lb. grated Monterrey jack cheese
1/4 c. fresh minced rosemary
3 cups heavy cream
large baguette, cut into 1-inch sliced and quickly toasted in a hot oven on a cookie sheet.
10 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce

Cook onion in butter until golden and remove from heat. Arrange toasted bread on the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 of cheese, 1/2 of onion and 1/2 of rosemary. Arrange remaining toast on top of that layer and repeat with cheese, onion and rosemary. In a bowl whisk eggs, cream, salt and Tabasco. Slowly pour over arrange toast layers. Cover and chill overnight. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

Easy Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas are something I love to make for a crowd. It's an easy make ahead dish and with some rice or beans and a Mexican-inspired dessert - you have a game plan for easy entertaining. This basic recipe can be embellished but it's been a hit just as is!

Easy Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

12-14 large flour tortillas (I buy 2 pkgs. because I never know how many I'm going to get out of the filling.)
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
1 block cream cheese
3 cups cooked and either diced or shredded chicken (hello pre-cooked rotisserie chicken!)
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
1 small can chopped green chilies, drained
2 cups heavy cream (wondering if half & half would work too?)
2 cups any Mexican blend cheeses, shredded - Mont. Jack, cheddar or even pepper Jack for a kick.

In a larger skillet, saute onion in a bit of vegetable oil for a minute or two then add green chilies to soften. Add chicken, taco seasoning and cream cheese to the pan and stir until cheese has melted. Grease 9x13 baking dish. Place tortilla on a work surface and place roughly 1/3 cup of filling on tortilla and roll up. I eyeball this which is way I never get the same amount of enchiladas! Place the tortilla in dish seam side down. Repeat until all the filling is done. Pour cream over all enchiladas and then top with shredded cheeses. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monkey Munch

I'm guessing this recipe is on any Chex box but I never bothered to look since I've had this little gem tucked away in my recipe notebook. I'm posting this as a subtle hint that maybe my husband will whip up a batch for the chicklets this week!

Monkey Munch

9 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups powdered sugar

Put chex in a large bowl and put aside. Place chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter into a quart-sized microwavable bowl. Stir the ingredients together. Microwave the mixture uncovered for a minute on “high.” Stir the mix again and continue to zap in thirty second intervals until it mixes smoothly. Add the vanilla and stir. Pour over the cereal while stirring. Put combination into a 2-gallon, Ziploc freezer bag. Add powdered sugar, seal the bag and shake until distributed. Spread Monkey Munch out on wax paper to cool and dry.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for storage.

Old School Sauce

I'm Italian so sauce means only one thing - red sauce. This sauce is great for a Sunday when it can simmer all afternoon while you're being aggravated by the Browns.

Old School Sauce

3 large cans (28 oz.) Hunts tomato sauce
1 large can (28 oz.) Hunts tomato puree
1 small can Hunts tomato paste
1 lb. western or country pork ribs
4-5 cloves mined garlic
1 large diced onion
2-3 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Olive oil – as needed

In large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven add a few tsp. of olive oil and on med/high heat sear ribs until browned but not cooked inside. Take ribs out of pan and set aside. Sauté onions and garlic - add a bit more oil if needed. When onions are translucent, add rest of ingredients and add ribs back into the pan. Turn heat down to a simmer and 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally and add water if the sauce becomes too thick. When ready to serve, remove rib bones and shred the meat in the sauce. Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sausage & Tomato Bake

A former colleague and I used to swap foodie facts - latest restaurant openings, food blogs and don't even get me started on Top Chef which could inspire 20 minute discussions on the cheftestants! This Jamie Olivier recipe comes from my foodie friend who loves the famous chef and Jamie's t.v. show where he cooks in a potting shed or something like it. Do I need someone to show me how to prepare rack of lamb next to the fertilizer and compost? No thanks. However, this dish is darn good and best of all - you can make it in your kitchen! Serve with either with a good-quality loaf of bread warmed through in a low oven for 10 minutes (great for mopping up the sauce!) or with mashed potato, rice or polenta, a green salad and a nice glass of wine!

Sausage & Tomato Bake

4¼ pounds ripe cherry tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them
2 sprigs each fresh thyme, rosemary, bay (I've never have fresh bay so just use dried)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
12 good-quality Italian pork sausages
Extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea or Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use roasting pan, large enough to take the tomatoes in 1 snug-fitting layer. Put in all your tomatoes, the herb sprigs, oregano, garlic and sausages. Drizzle well with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss together, then make sure the sausages are on top and cook for half an hour. After this time, give it a shake and turn the sausages over. Put back into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how golden you like your sausages. You may need to cook longer if using thick sausages.

Once cooked, you’ll have an intensely flavored sauce. If it’s a little too thin, lift out the sausages and place the pan on the stove to cook it down to the consistency you like. I've also used a immersion blender to make it less chunky. Then put the sausages back in and enjoy with some wonderful bread.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pumpkin Cake

It's that time of year - pumpkin festivals, apples, cool nights and beautiful foliage. I've been making this old standby for years. Moist, delicious and perfect after racking leaves with a cup of hot coffee!

Pumpkin Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ cup canned pumpkin - not pie filling!
1 4 oz. package french vanilla pudding mix
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup water
3 eggs - slightly beaten
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Sift all dry ingredients together and then add oil, water and eggs to dry mixture. Pour in greased bundt pan and bake for 45 - 50 minutes. When tested comes out clean, cool on rack for 5 minutes. Invert on serving plate and when completely cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar to coat. Enjoy and ignore the yard work that needs to be done!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Birthday Swiss Steak?

It is only fitting that I post this recipe on my birthday. It's the meal I've requested on many of my birthdays. I's a weird meal to crave but it's comforting and homey and I just love it on a crisp fall day. I love it even more when it can be made ahead in a crockpot. Now that I'm officially old - I can bust out my crockpot with pride!

Swiss Steak with Baby Onions

3 (1.1 oz.) pkgs. Hunter's sauce (or dry onion soup mix if you cannot find Hunter's sauce)
1 (11.5 oz.) can of V8 vegetable juice
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen baby onions - do not defrost
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. fresh white mushrooms - sliced
3 lbs. beef round steak - sliced thin (sometimes called flip steaks)

In a medium bowl, mix together dry sauce, juice, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce until blended. Set aside. In a 3 - 4-quart slow cooker, place 1/3 each of the onions, celery and mushrooms. Top with half the meat and a third of the sauce the repeat layers - topping with sauce.

Cover and cook on low at least 9 to 10 hours or until meat is tender. Serve over mashed potatoes and wish someone you love happy birthday!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Banana Good Smoothies

These smoothies have become a staple at our house - for breakfast, for treats or anytime in between. We tend to freeze most of our bananas in the event anyone gets a hankering for this rich and creamy drink.

Banana Good Smoothies

1 peeled banana, cut into 4, from the freezer
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
4 teaspoons malted chocolate drink powder (recommended: Ovaltine)
1 teaspoon strong coffee or 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I skip this for kids and substitute 1 Tbls. peanut butter)

Put all ingredients into a blender and whiz to mix. Pour into a tall glass and drink before dashing out of the door.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cheater's Chocolate Mousse

Cheaters are never winners or so we've been told. In this case, not true. This is a cheater's dessert but nonetheless, my kids don't know I didn't make mousse from scratch and it certainly beats instant pudding mix. It's a sweet version of mousse so don't be tempted to swap in ready-made whip cream because you're results will be sickening sweet for even a serious sweet-tooth. Some shaved white chocolate on top is a lovely finish.

Cheater's Chocolate Mousse

3 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
9 ounces best quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces or use chips
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water in a heavy-based saucepan.

Put the saucepan on the stove, over heat, though keep it fairly gentle, to melt, stirring every now and again. Remove from the heat to cool.

Meanwhile whip the cream with the vanilla until thick and then fold into the cooled chocolate mixture until you have a smooth, cohesive mixture.

Pour or scrape into 4 or 6 glasses or small dishes and chill until you want to eat. The sooner the better!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Free Form Vegetable Soup

This recipe exemplifies what homey soup is all about. Everything you have on hand into the pot. My mom had been making this soup for years and now I make it for new moms, sick friends, etc. It's basic veggie soup with a hint of lemon to wake things up. Free free to improvise with your favorite veggies. The fall season is nearly upon us so go get your soup pot ready!

Vegetable Soup

2 large cans low-sodium chicken stock (roughly 4-6 cups)
2 16-oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
1 Tbl. each dried thyme, basil and oregano
juice of one large lemon
1 package cheese-filled tortellini (can use frozen or dried OR rice/other pasta but the tortellini is a crowd favorite!)
2 tsps. salt

All veggies are fresh, chopped and in whatever amounts you like...
white button mushrooms

Add all chopped veggies to the stock and canned tomatoes. Add lemon. Bring up heat on soup and simmer for 40 minutes. When ready to serve, add tortellini and cook another 15 minutes. Serve with extra lemon juice if needed.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beale Street Baked Beans

Sometimes you just get it wrong. Well, let me explain. We recently had some new friends over and decided to keep it easy and just make mini burgers and hot dogs on the grill since we were also feeding plenty of little ones. I thought that these baked beans (which are scrumptious) would make a nice addition to our cookout for the adults. Little did I know that said friend mom was not a red-meat eater! Oh well. The rest of us enjoyed them. This recipe comes from a friend who shares my passion for finding great recipes so a big thanks to Elizabeth for this simple but great take on a classic.

Beale Street Baked Beans

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef or ground turkey (I should have used the turkey)
3/4 c. chopped onion
1 Tbl. lemon pepper seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/4 c. ketchup
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbl. dry mustard
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 16 oz. cans pork & beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium skillet, brown ground beef or turkey with onion until cooked through - sprinkling with lemon pepper seasoning and garlic powder as meat is cooking. Drain cooked meat on paper towel. Transfer to medium bowl. Add ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard and pepper. Stir to combine. Carefully stir in beans and transfer to a oven-proof casserole dish. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serves 10-12.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Braised Pork

So whenever I make a large pork shoulder, it typically involves BBQ pork sandwiches which are great but I wanted to try something different. This will now be a staple in my winter repertoire. It's hearty, easy and my oldest daughter proclaimed it was the best thing I've ever made. If you've read prior posts you'll realize she says this every other week about various dishes. In any case, it's a keeper and gets me excited for cold weather cooking again. I think some soft polenta would be fantastic with this dish.

Braised Pork

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 bunch parsley stems, tied with string
2 bay leaves
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork to a plate. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it. Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor. Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, parsley stems, and bay leaves. Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork. Do not cover the pork with liquid. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Spinach Tomato Pasta Salad

Sorry for my lack of posts as of late. I've been in the process of switching jobs which is always super stressful and to add to my stress level, I was invited to my new company's picnic where everyone was asked to bring a side dish! I had to knock it outta the park and not show up up with store-bought gloppy pasta salad. You know the ones - laden with mayo and very little else? Well, this pasta salad was a hit and has loads of flavor.

Spinach Tomato Pasta Salad

1 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta - I used a whole wheat variety
Kosher salt
Good olive oil
1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes, cut if larger
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound good feta cheese (medium-diced or crumbled if that's easier but I like cubed)
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I ground the parm in the food processor which gives it nice texture versus grating)
1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped or chopped basil if you prefer
1 bag baby spinach (pre-cleaned)

For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons good olive oil (more if needed but I worried it would be too oily)
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, feta and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. DO NOT ADD SPINACH YET!

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley, and toss well. When ready to serve, mix in fresh spinach and serve.

If you want to be fancy - lay spinach at the bottom of your serving tray or bowl (like a bed) then spoon pasta salad over that and then add the cubed feta on top. Very pretty presentation!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chicken Cordon Blue Panini

Disclaimer to all foodies...this is a kid recipe so it's super simple and not gourmet but it's darn tasty. My girls love this I dig that they adore blue cheese as much as I do. It doesn't hurt that there's ranch dressing involved since my youngest would eat a shoe if she could dip it in ranch. This is perfect for a panini maker but could be grilled without the fancy press!

Chicken Cordon Blue Panini

4 soft sandwich rolls (kaiser rolls work fine)
1 1/3 cups chopped white meat rotisserie chicken
4 deli slices ham
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup ranch dressing

Pre-heat a panini press. Place the roll bottoms on a work surface and top with the chicken and ham. In a small bowl, mix the cheese and ranch dressing and spread on the cut side of the roll tops. Cover the sandwiches with the roll tops and ask your GH to place in the panini press.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lemon-Onion Chicken

I'm a bit of a reality TV junkie but who isn't? The competition, the drama, the crazy people...and all in a cooking show! We were watching the Food Network's "The Next Food Network Star" and were hooked. Even my daughter was into the drama and in particular watching a bubbly blond win a new show. This recipe is what the winner, Melissa d'Arabian, made on her pilot and based on our fantastic dinner - give the woman a series! This chicken was fast, economical and all of us ate it as leftovers for days. If you like lots of lemon - go with all three but cut back it you don't want a pronounced lemon bite.

Lemon-Onion Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced in half crossways and pounded thin (I found thin cut breasts at my local grocery store and skipped the pounding!)
1 teaspoon dried thyme, plus 1 small bunch fresh thyme, leaves chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white wine, optional (but lord knows I had it opened!)
1 cup chicken broth
3 lemons, juiced
1 to 2 tablespoons butter

Season chicken with dried thyme and salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add the oil. Dredge the chicken in flour, add to the hot oil and saute until cooked through. If thin, maybe 4 minutes a side. Set chicken aside to rest on plate tented with foil.

In same saute pan, over low heat, add onions and fresh thyme and cook until aromatic.

In a measuring cup, measure out wine, if using, and broth, and add the lemon juice. Turn the heat up to high, and deglaze the pan with the broth mixture until starting to reduce.

Remove the pan from the heat and finish the sauce by whisking in butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mmmmm....Bran Muffins

In an earlier post I mentioned that I was searching for old standby bran muffin recipe. Well, happy day because my dear husband finally dug out the Bauman Family Cookbook and made them for me. On a workday no less! That's how fast these beauties come together. We like them plain but raisins are certainly an obvious addition.

Jan's Bran Muffins

1 1/2 cups All Bran cereal
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Cover bran cereal with boiling water and let sit a few minutes. Mix all ingredients together. Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Batter will keep in fridge for up to six weeks so double the recipe and enjoy these fresh anytime!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pasta with Pecorino and Pepper

My family went camping this weekend which is always fun but exhausting. In my post camping, laundry-induced coma I could do nothing but collapse on my couch, stare at the t.v. and mentally think of all the things I had to do. Cooking dinner was one problem and my overgrown herb pot on the patio was another. Yard work was beckoning and my parsley and basil needed an industrial weed whacker. Then divine intervention came in the form of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I watched her deftly turn a bunch of parsley into a fabulous meal with pasta and a few quality ingredients. This recipe seemed just too simple but boy, did it hit the spot. I also used our home-grown cherry tomatoes which made me feel very industrious indeed. I modified her recipe a little but given my state yesterday, I was just happy I could boil water!

Pasta with Pecorino & Pepper

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 pound dried Italian egg pasta, such as tagliarelle (I just used regular linguine)
1 cup freshly grated aged Pecorino cheese, plus extra for serving
3 - 4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 - 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
large handful of cherry tomatoes - sliced in half

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1tablespoon salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package until al dente. Ladle 1 cup of the pasta cooking water into a glass measuring cup and reserve it. Drain the pasta quickly in a colander and return the pasta to the pot with a lot of the pasta water still dripping.

Working quickly, with the heat on very low, toss the pasta with 1 cup of the grated Pecorino, tomatoes, pepper, cream, butter, parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt, tossing constantly. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking water. Off the heat, toss in the remaining 1/2 cup Pecorino. Serve immediately with a big bowl of extra grated Pecorino for sprinkling. Toss a simple green salad, pour a nice summer wine and enjoy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Berry Bounty Pie

Summer berries are perfect right now which is why I'm about to drag my girls out of bed to go berry picking this morning. Nothing says family fun better than two girls complaining that the grocery store sells fruit and that it's too hot, buggy, etc. to be bothered. Nevermind that they are exhausted from a sleepover gone wrong. But I'm going to bother because I think it's important for them to understand how hard people work to farm, harvest and produce food and for my girls to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Literally. They don't know it yet but the blueberries and black raspberries we gather today will be used to make this pie. The cornmeal in the crust gives this pie a nice texture and boy, does it looks like summer on a plate. And the best part is that you don't need to roll out pie dough! Life is too short to bother rolling pie dough - in my humble opinion.

Berry Bounty Pie

For crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cornmeal (the finer ground the better)
1 stick softened butter

Mix together and press into 9-in. pie pan. Chill for one hour.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups of berries - any kind - I've used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, any combination would be good. Just don't use all strawberries because it will get too soggy.

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter - cold and but into small pieces

Mix together to form a crumble. Work fast so that the butter doesn't softened too much. Gently mix together berries with sugar and flour and add to chilled crust. Add crumble topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes then reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake one hour. I know it sounds crazy long but trust me on this. Let cool on rack and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sweet Pea and Avocado Vichyssoise

A neighbor of mine declared that she's never had a cold soup and the thought of slurping down a cold mix of veggies was not very appealing. Hmmm...maybe she's never had to cook dinner or entertain when 97 degree heat and the air conditioning is out. Summer soups are a quick, healthy and sophisticated summer staple. I've never posted something I've not yet made but many I know have made this with resounding success. Try it and let me know what you think. Maybe you can convince my neighbor to give these peas a whirl!

Sweet Pea and Avocado Vichyssoise

1 large, avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 2 inch-pieces
(If you cannot find large avocados, use 2 medium for this recipe)
1 ½ cups thawed frozen peas
2 ½ cups homemade chicken broth
3 finely sliced, white and light green parts only, sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup sour cream
sour cream store-bought fresh tomato salsa
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade combine the avocado and peas and process until smooth. Add the broth, scallions, lemon juice, sour cream and 3 tablespoons of the salsa and blend until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cracking up for Cracker Candy

During a recent cleaning blitz in my kitchen I found a tiny recipe card shoved almost under my fridge. Maybe the nutrition gods were trying to will it away from my kitchen because I don't think butter, sugar, salt or chocolate are on any superfood list? Who knows but this candy is super addictive.

Cracker Candy

40 saltines
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 (12 oz.) package milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover large rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Line up saltines on the cookie sheet. Bring butter and sugar to a boil to dissolve sugar. CAREFULLY and slowly pour hot sugar mixture over crackers evenly as possible. Crackers may shift a bit and resist the urge to straighten them up because this is atomic hot stuff. Using oven mits CAREFULLY put in oven and bake 5 minutes. CAREFULLY remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chips. Heat from sugar mixture will melt chips so you can spread it over candy. Let cool at room temperature for awhile then pop in the fridge until hard. When hardened you can break it apart but be sure to store in the fridge.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Quinoa Salad

I consider myself to be a savvy cook but sometimes I'm just stumped by an ingredient. This lonely little box of quinoa had been sitting in my pantry for what seemed like months and I just didn't know what to do with it. Then I ran across this recipe. Light, fresh and easy. If you have not tried quinoa - give it a try in any recipe calling for couscous. Same idea but healthier.

2 cups quinoa
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 scallions - thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbls. rice vinegar
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 large oranges)
2 Tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 seedless cucumber - diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro - chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
salt/pepper to taste

Place quinoa in fine mesh sieve and rinse under cool water until water runs clear. Don't skip this step since it helps to wash away from any bitterness from the quinoa. Bring chicken broth to a boil, add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so until liquid is absorbed. Uncover, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let cool.

Place cool quinoa in large bowl and add rest of ingredients (hold off on almonds if not serving immediately as they will get soft.) Season with salt and pepper. Now pat yourself on the back for making a healthy and delicious salad.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Banana Butterscotch Muffins

Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? It's hereditary and my problem is growing. It's my expanding cookbook collection. My mother has well...hundreds of them and they are scattered all over her house but many have made their way to a "cookbook" section of their basement. So many that I've often wondered if she needs to hire a part-time librarian. Someone who could just direct her to that lost recipe when needed. I could use that person today as I spent much of the morning searching for a favorite bran muffin recipe. However, sometimes getting lost is a good thing as I stumbled across another favorite. These muffins are made for my little muffins who love the surprise of butterscotch.

Banana Butterscotch Muffins

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 - 3 ripe bananas - roughly mashed
1 cup butterscotch chips (could use chocolate or white chocolate if butterscotch is not your thing)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Beat together oil and eggs in small bowl. In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients then slowly mixing in oil/egg mixture followed by the mashed bananas. Fold in chips and divide into equal portions into muffin pan. I use an ice cream scoop for this task. Bake for 20 minutes, then let cool on cooling rack.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tex Mex Salad

This is fantastic at a potluck and it doesn't hurt that the dressing is soooo irresistible that you'll want to pour it on everything on your plate! Make this in a glass trifle dish or a deep glass bowl for the "wow" factor.

Layered Tex Mex Salad

3 large store bought corn muffins
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 packet sazon seasoning (If you cannot find this I used 1 Tbl. cumin)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup salsa
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, cut into strips
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey jack cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

Mix together the beans with the sazon (or cumin) and season with salt and pepper. Toss the salsa with the tomatoes. When ready to serve, break up cornbread in large chunks. Toss the lettuce with 3/4 cups of the dressing. In a clear trifle dish, start with a layer of the black beans followed by the Monterey jack cheese, the tomato salsa mixture, the Cheddar cheese, the dressed romaine and top with the cornbread croutons. Serve immediately with the remaining dressing on the side.

Creamy Lime Dressing:
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blend all the ingredients except the olive oil until smooth. While machine is running, slowly drizzle in the oil until incorporated. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Pour it on everything that you eat that day. Yes, it's that good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jane's Rice Salad

Sometimes simple is best. Simply put, this recipe is simply divine.

Jane's Rice Salad

5 to 6 cups cooked rice (use either brown, white, wild or mix of any of them - I used 1/2 white and 1/2 brown)
1 jar pimento-stuffed green olives - sliced
1 seedless cucumber - diced
1/2 large red onion - diced
feta cheese or goat cheese (no measurement - just to taste)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix it all up and add additional lemon juice if needed. Can be made ahead but just omit cheese and add when ready to serve. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dill Pickle Cheeseburgers

Ah, burger season. Any given night you can step outside and catch the whiff of juicy burgers being tossed on neighborhood grills. That aroma demands you slip on flip flops, crack open a beer and leave your worries at the office. There's nothing complicated about these burgers but they hit the spot.

Dill Pickle Cheeseburgers

2 slices of white bread (I've even used an english muffin)
1/3 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
1 egg
2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 large dill pickles - minced

Hamburger buns
cheese of choice
favorite condiments

Tear bread into small pieces and put bread and parsley in a food processor and pulse until you have crumbs. Transfer to large bowl. Using wooden spoon or clean hands mix egg, beef, pickles and desired amount of salt and pepper into bread mixture. Form 6 to 8 patties about 1/2-inch thick. Toss on grill and cook to desired temperature then doctor them up with cheese and whatever else suites your fancy. Fried egg anyone?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

I will admit right up front that I just saw this recipe from a newbie Food Network starlit, Claire Robinson. I'm lovin' her cooking style. Five ingredients to make wholesome, honest-to-goodness meals. I just had to try this pork recipe. Ding...ding...ding...a winner. Moist, flavorful, looks fancy but so easy! Just don't forget you'll need kitchen twine to make this beauty.

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves, plus 4 sprigs rosemary, with hard woody stems
5 large garlic cloves, 2 cloves minced, 3 cloves smashed
2 pork tenderloins, about 1-pound each
4 slices maple bacon

In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, fresh ground black pepper, chopped rosemary, and minced garlic and mix well. Rub the mustard mixture over the surface of the tenderloins and wrap in plastic wrap or put in plastic bags. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place rosemary sprigs and smashed garlic in the center of a roasting pan. Remove the plastic wrap from the tenderloins and top each with 2 slices of maple bacon. Tie with kitchen twine to secure bacon strips.

Place the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer, inserted in the tenderloins, registers 160 degrees F. Remove from oven when desired doneness is reached and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes on a cutting board. Remove kitchen twine, slice and serve.

Note: Using an electric knife will give you cleaner slices through bacon and pork. Doesn't everybody deserve a little bacon?

P.S. For those of you that counted the ingredient list - salt/pepper don't count because everyone would have that on hand. I hope!

Perfect Lemon Cake

I'm a bonifide chocoholic. Why waste calories if it's not chocolate? However, once in a blue moon I'll surprise myself and decide on a non-chocolate dessert for a gathering. I'm cooking an early Mother's Day dinner for my mother-in-law and my husband's grandmother today. This cake is a snap to whip up and just divine. It's moist and travels well. I'll be serving it with fresh strawberries.

Perfect Lemon Cake with Fresh Lemon Glaze

1 package yellow cake mix
1 package lemon-flavored instant pudding
4 large eggs
3/4 cup. canola oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sweet sherry or orange juice
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I always buy whole nutmeg and use my microplane)

Lemon Glaze:
1 cup powered sugar
1 - 2 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bundt pan with cooking spray. In large mixing bowl add all cake ingredients and mix with electric mixer until smooth and thick. Pour batter in bundt pan and bake for roughly 45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and cake pulls away from the pan slightly. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto serving plate.

While cake is cooling, whisk together sugar and lemon juice to create a smooth glaze, adding more lemon juice if needed. While cake is still slightly warm, drizzle glaze over the cake. Then go get those forks!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Salsa

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, my company hosted a little friendly salsa competition. Let's just say that this little recipe pulled out a win for me but not without tears. Tears from touching my eye after cutting jalapenos. Not my smartest move but this recipe is smart because you use canned tomatoes! It's got some heat so go easy on the peppers if you prefer a milder salsa.

Cinco de Mayo Salsa

4 fresh jalapenos (see note below for heat level)
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
2-3 cloves garlic
2 limes, juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cans Hunts diced tomatoes

Put everything but the tomatoes in a food processor. Pulse until diced. Add the tomatoes and pulse a few times to combine. Serve with chips.

Note: This recipe can be very hot. And can be made without the jalapeno seeds and veins to make it less hot.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Simple Thai Chicken

Truth be told, I'm not always honest with my children. Tonight I described this as "chicken, beanies and rice" knowing that there were no green beans and I did not offer up the Thai description. My youngest would hear that and run for the hills. Sometimes nutrition trumps honesty. I serve this with jasmine rice. It's probably not entirely pure Thai but call it what you will, it's good and that's the truth.

Thai Chicken

2-3 Tbls. peanut or vegetable oil
1 1-inch piece ginger root - grated with micro plane
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 lbs. boneless chicken breasts or tenderloins - cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small bunch fresh or frozen asparagus
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 can light unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 Tbls. Thai fish sauce
1 Tbls. Thai red curry paste

In large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute for about 5-6 minutes or until almost cooked through. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Add asparagus and cook for another few minutes until tender. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste stirring to combine. Add frozen peas and heat a few minutes until everything is combined and warm. Serve over jasmine rice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cake

I have very fond memories of chocolate-covered cherries. My grandmother loved them and whenever she was ill or just needed a pick me up, I'd try to pick some up. Well, that or coconut bars from Davis Bakery. Anyway, I digress. This cake is great made in a 9x13 pan for ease and is a nice addition to a potluck.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cake

1 pkg. plain devil’s food cake mix or devil’s food mix
1 can 21 oz. cherry pie filling
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure almond extract

Chocolate Glaze:
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. milk
1 pkg. (6 oz.; 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

Place rack in the center of the oven & preheat to 350. Spray 13” x 9” pan. Place cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs & almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 min. Stop the mixer & scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to 2 min. more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick & & well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger & just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 30-35 min. or longer. Remove the pan from the oven & place it on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

For the glaze, place the sugar, butter & milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat & cook. Stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 min. Remove from heat & stir in the chocolate chips. When the chips have melted & the glaze is smooth, pour it over the warm cake so that it covers the entire cake. The glaze will be thin but will firm up. Cool the cake for 20 min. more before cutting it into squares & serving.

Store the cake, covered in aluminum foil, at room temp for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze the cake, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 mo. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Enchilada Casserole

Melted cheese and beefy goodness filled my kitchen last night and this dish was a great way to end a hectic weekend. After devouring her entire plate, Olivia declared that the recipe was a keeper and I have to agree. It's like a Mexican lasagna that really sticks to the ribs. I bet you could improvise with any assortment of southwestern ingredients for a more personalized taste.

Enchilada Casserole

1 lb. lean ground beef or you can use ground turkey
1 lg. onion chopped
2 c. salsa
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
¼ c. reduced-fat Italian dressing
2 T. reduced-sodium taco seasoning
¼ t. ground cumin
Six 8-inch flour tortillas
1 c. reduced-fat sour cream
2 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend (or some combination of cheddar & pepper jack cheese shredded)
1. shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato chpd.
¼ c. minced cilantro

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté the beef & onions until the meat is no longer pink.

Drain the meat, then stir in the salsa, beans, corn, salad dressing, taco seasoning seasoning & cumin.

Arrange 3-4 tortillas in the prepared baking dish to cover the bottom. Spread half of the meat mixture over the tortillas, then top with half each of the sour cream & cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas, then repeat the layering with remaining meat, sour cream & cheese. I just layered as many layers as I could!

Cover & bake for 25 min. Uncover & bake for another 5-10 min., until heated through.
Let stand for 5 min. before topping with lettuce, tomato & cilantro. Take that Taco Bell!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Corn & Black Bean Salad/Dip

This salad/dip is probably the very first recipe I ever passed to a friend. It's crazy easy with simple, clean flavors and it always a hit. I can make this in five minutes flat from memory. It's terrific as a dip or as a salad on the side of any Southwest entree. I tend to add the tomatoes when I serve it as a dip with scoop corn or tortilla chips but forgo the tomatoes when I serve as a salad. No reason, I just do. When the warm weather hits, this becomes a staple at cookouts all summer.

Corn & Black Bean Salad

2 cans black beans - drained and rinsed
2 cans corn - drained (I use the mixed white and yellow variety)
1/2 red onion - finely chopped (depending on how large or strong your onion is, you may want a but less)
3-4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped or 1 can petite-diced tomatoes, drained
1 - 2 Tbls. ground cumin
1 - 2 Tbls. ground chili powder
2 Tbls. olive oil
juice of 1 - 2 limes
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 bunch of cilantro - chopped

Mix it all together in whatever order makes sense to you! Let sit at room temperature for an hour or so for flavors to blend. You may want to reserve adding the cilantro until the end to preserve color and freshness. Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

My work/home life balance seems to be teetering on extinction for the past week and I've realized that I've been dashing out the door in the morning without breakfast. I know, I know....studies show this a big no-no. Maybe if I whip up this crockpot favorite, I'd be enticed to sit a minute and eat! It’s easy peasy in the crock pot but you may want to get the plastic liners they now sell for crock pots because it does have a tendency to stick. I’ve always doubled and even tripled the recipe since it’s only one cup of oats and it goes fast! If I'd eat breakfast then maybe I'd get my creative juices flowing and add different fruits.

Overnight Oatmeal

¼ c. brown sugar – I use less
1 Tbls. melted butter
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 c. quick-cooking oats (uncooked)
1 c. apple, peeled and diced
½ raisins or craisins
½ c. chopped nuts
2 c. milk

Place ingredients in a greased (or lined) slow cooker, mix well and cover. Cook on low setting for 8 -9 hours. You can play around with the amount of sugar and fruit. Pears would also work well. Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hot Stuff

I had a roommate in college that put mustard on all her food. She claimed the mustard helped to speed up her metabolism so nothing was spared. Chips, salsa and mustard. Spaghetti, marinara and mustard. Popcorn and get the idea. After living with mustard freak, I've never been a huge mustard fan but this spicy mustard is a keeper. It's a homemade hot mustard that's great as a dip for pretzels, or on sandwiches, etc. I'm already thinking my friends and family may be getting this as a holiday treat!

Best Homemade Mustard

One 4-oz can dry mustard (such as Coleman's dry mustard)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Cook for 8 minutes stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until thickened. Do not let mixture come to a boil. Cool to room temperature and transfer to jars. Will last in the fridge for several months.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Always Perfect Salad Dressing

Anyone who knows me can attest that I have a fear of old food. I toss anything suspect and was never one defrost a roast on a counter or eat a cheese cube that's lingered at a party too long. I'm just fickle so imagine my shock when my mother pulled out homemade salad dressing from the pantry in an old mason jar. I panicked. Only after she showed me the actual recipe did I trust that it was shelf stable and safe. Boy, it's safe and good. I'll be making this in place of cloying bottled dressings from now on!

My New Favorite Salad Dressing

3/4 c. olive oil
1/4 good quality red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
4 garlic cloves - just smashed with a knife

Put all ingredients in a jar with tight-fitting lid and shake. Don't refrigerate because the flavor is much better at room temp. Will keep for weeks in the cupboard - if it lasts that long!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One Pan Chicken and Sausage Bake

When browsing recipes the term "one pan" typically gets my attention. My first thought is less dish washing but more often than not, I love the melded flavors of fresh ingredients roasting, simmering, coexisting together. Think of this recipe as a Sunday chicken bake with a little something extra.

One Pan Chicken and Sausage Bake

1 large onion
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons English mustard (Coleman's) or 1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon
1 (3-4-pound) chicken, jointed into 8-10 pieces (I've used 8 chicken thighs too)
6 Italian sausages

Peel and cut the onion into eighths, and put into a freezer bag with the oil, mustard, garlic cloves, dried thyme, a good grinding of pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Cut lemon in half, squeeze juice into bag, and then cut the halves into eighths and add them. Sqeeze everything around to mix (the mustard needs help to combine) and then add the chicken pieces. Leave to marinade in the refrigerator overnight, or for up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature in its marinade. Arrange the chicken pieces in a roasting pan skin side up with the marinade and tuck the sausages around them. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the sausages several times throughout the time to brown them evenly. I typically roast some potatoes in the oven at the same time and viola - toss a bag salad together and dinner's done!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chocolate Pear Pudding Cake

I've grown quite fond of recipes that can be made using pantry items. This Nigella Lawson recipe transforms me into superhero - where I sneak into the kitchen and emerge with a pan of freshly-baked gooey chocolate deliciousness. This cake is a pared down version of a molten cake with some juicy pears nestled underneath a blanket of warm cake. Pears and chocolate do live together in harmony - trust me. go light your ovens!

Chocolate Pear Pudding Cake

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more, for greasing
2 (14-ounce) cans pear halves, in juice
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease an 8x8 ovenproof dish with butter.

Drain the pears and arrange them on the base of the prepared dish. Put all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a batter with a soft dropping consistency.

Spread the batter over the pears, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 or 10 minutes then serve warm.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Comfort Food Take Two

Ah, Paris in the Spring...with this meal one can imagine dining at a cozy little French bistro. Pour some good table red, toss a simple salad and try this hearty French classic. Passport not required. This version is simplified (thanks again to the Real Simple foodies) but my American taste buds don't mind.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tomato, chopped, or one 8-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 15-ounce cans of great Northern, cannellini, or navy beans, drained and rinsed
5 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the sausage until well browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Remove and drain on paper towels; set aside. Pour out the excess oil from the Dutch oven. Add the chicken broth, vegetables, beans, thyme, salt, pepper, a third of the garlic, and the sausage and return to heat. Mix well, scraping up any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour, until thickened and the vegetables are tender. Heat oven to 400° F. In a bowl, combine the bread-crumbs, parsley, butter, and remaining garlic. Sprinkle evenly over the cassoulet and place in the oven. Bake, uncovered, until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Turkey Meatloaf

When work is crazy, kids are crazy, life is just plain crazy - we all need a little comfort. Normally, I'd suggest a nap and some trashy magazines but nothing recharges the family like a good comfort meal. Even better when someone makes it for you! My mother-in-law dropped off this fantastic meatloaf yesterday so all I did was micro some baby potatoes and steam some peas. Voila! After eating this moist yet flavorful meatloaf, I felt energized to take on the world...or at least the laundry. Lastly, because it makes two, you can share with friend or freeze a little bit of comfort.

Turkey Meatloaf

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
5 slices day-old bread
1 onion chopped
1 Tbl. oil
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper (can substitute cayenne for part of the 1 tsp. just to give it a little spark)
2 lb. ground turkey
2 tsp. lemon juice
½ c. ketchup

Preheat oven to 350. Thaw spinach and squeeze out excess liquid. Grease 2 loaf pans.
Process bread into fine crumbs. Cook chopped onion in oil until soft, about 3 min. Whisk eggs with milk, basil, salt & pepper. Add spinach onion, turkey, bread crumbs & lemon juice: mix well. Divide mixture into two and form into two loafs – turning them into greased loaf pans. Brush with ketchup. Bake 55-60 min. until well browned.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ode to the Chickpea

Despite this depressing time in our economy, I must remind myself to be thankful for the little things in life. Not getting that speeding ticket (although I deserved it), warm socks from the dryer, the smell of bacon and the humble chickpea. I have a new love affair with the chickpea and particularly when I make this soup. This soup is sophisticated but frugal and I am one exotic yet sensible mama when I serve this for dinner. And since it's easy to stock up on chickpeas, I've thrown in an extra super simple salad recipe today as well.

Viva la chickpea!!

Spiced Chickpea Soup

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 large onion, medium diced
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
3 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1 quart vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (5-ounce) package pre-washed baby spinach
optional - cubed sweet potatoes

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until the onions begin to turn translucent; lower heat if browning starts to occur. Add spices and saute a minute or so. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, and sugar and sweet potatoes if using. Season with a couple pinches of salt and 10 grinds fresh pepper. Stir well. Chickpeas should be just covered with liquid. If level is shy, add some water so the chickpeas are just covered. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low and gently simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove soup from heat. Use immersion blender or a potato masher to mash up some of the chickpeas right in the pot. Stir in the spinach and let heat through until wilted, just a couple minutes. Season again, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve soup, drizzled lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.

Simple Chickpea Salad

1 can rinsed and drained chickpeas
couple of handfuls of arugula
fresh Parmesan cheese - shredded - to taste
juice of about one lemon
olive oil

Just toss together chickpeas, arugula and desired amount of cheese. Lightly spritz lemon juice over salad and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Great served along side any grilled meat.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wingless Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Typically Rachel Ray and her wacky combo recipes just down right annoy me but this one caught my eye since we are a house divided by our love for pizza and wings. This pizza makes a fun weekend dinner and we can skip waiting in line at CPK. Using leftover chicken speeds things up if you want to skip a step and you can adjust the heat based on your preference.

Wingless Buffalo Chicken Pizza

3/4 pound chicken breast cutlets or tenderloins
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 teaspoons grill seasoning such as McCormick Montreal Seasoning
1 pizza dough, store bought or from your favorite pizza place
Cornmeal or flour, to handle dough
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons Frank's hot sauce, medium to spicy heat
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, a few generous handfuls
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Preheat grill pan to high. Place chicken on a plate and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the chicken then season with grill seasoning. When grill is hot, add chicken and cook about 3 minutes on each side. Stretch dough to form pizza using cornmeal or flour to help you handle it. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter and stir in Worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce.

Remove the chicken from grill and thinly slice it. Add chicken to sauce and coat. Cover the pizza dough with the saucy Buffalo chicken, cheeses, and scallions. Bake 18minutes or until crisp

Thursday, February 26, 2009

White Fence Inn Eggs

This recipe comes from a lovely B&B, White Fence Inn, in Ohio that I stayed in a few years back with extended family. With Lent upon us, I'm always looking for Friday meat-free meals and this egg dish is super easy to prepare and is fab paired with a salad. I warn you that it's more like cheese pie than an egg dish but that's our little secret.

White Fence Inn Eggs

7 eggs
1 cup milk
½ tsp. salt
3 c. grated mild cheddar cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbls. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together eggs, flour and salt then add all cheeses. Pour into two 9-inch glass pie plates and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. I separate into two pie plates so I can easily put one away for another meal.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chicken Sausage Patties

I love to cook but hate, I repeat, hate cooking breakfast. I'm not a morning person and the thought of pots, pans, mess in the early hours...well, it's just not my cup of tea. However, I love eating leisurely and comforting weekend breakfasts. What's a gal to do? Make these yummy sausages ahead and then just reheat them with some (already made) pancakes or even a frozen waffle. The apple gives this recipe a sweet and unexpected twist.

Chicken Sausage Patties

1 tablespoon butter
1 green apple, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add apples and onions and season with a little salt, pepper and fennel seeds. Gently saute the mixture 5 minutes to soften and remove from heat to cool.

Heat a griddle pan or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Place chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, allspice, paprika and a healthy drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Add in the apples, onions and fennel and mix the sausage. Form 12 small patties. Cook patties 4 to 5 minutes on each side (until cooked through) and serve warm.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cheddar Corn Chowder

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned that I'm not a soup person. For those of you paying attention, this is my third soup recipe this month. Maybe cabin fever is starting to change me on a molecular level and I'm morphing into a soup lover after all. In any case, I've always made this soup (from Barefoot Contessa recipe) with frozen corn. I'm sure it would be sublime with fresh corn so I'll report back in the summer. Bottom line is that any recipe that starts with bacon has got to be good!

Cheddar Corn Chowder

8 ounces bacon, chopped (we love our bacon so I cook a little more)
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (I don't always use white chedddar)

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon but not so much bacon that it become "Bacon Soup" which is how Caroline likes it!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Naples Rice Salad

This cold rice salad recipe has made it’s way to just about all of my family and friends. The recipe came from a Naples cookbook and we made it while in Florida so hence the name. It's a fantastic salad to serve at brunch or lunch but be ready to share the recipe because it is addictive. I like to chop so making this salad is mildly therapeutic for me. Feel free to add chicken or shrimp for a complete meal.

Naples Rice Salad

½ cup. Craisins (can use a mixture of dried blueberries/cranberries)
1 bunch chopped scallions
1 red pepper – chopped
1 yellow pepper – chopped
½ tin (1 cup) honey-roasted cashews
1 package frozen baby peas- thawed
2 boxes Uncle Ben’s White & Wild Rice (with spice packet)

¼ cup honey
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp. curry powder

Cook rice according to package directions. Allow to cool. Mix in next six items to rice. (Add nuts at the end otherwise they get too soft.) Mix last four ingredients to make dressing. Add to rice mixture. Get your fork ready!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stupid Easy Cake Cookies

From this recipe you will gather that I'm not a food snob. I will pull out frozen peas, canned tomatoes and box brownie mixes as much as the next gal. So proceed with no judgement. When my sister-in-law gave me the recipe for these cookies, my kids begged me to make right away. After having them at her house, Olivia said she could have easily polished off the entire plate. They were darn good but lately, I've been feeling too busy to bake. When I asked for the recipe, I said a little prayer that they would be easy and that I'd have everything on hand to make them. Prayers answered. I've made a couple batches of these already and they seem to work well no matter what cake mix you have on hand.

Stupid Easy Cake Cookies

I box cake mix (I've used a yellow and devil's food mix, both with success)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Stop laughing there are no more ingredients!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together, taking care to break up dry mix to form stiff dough. Drop tablespoon-size balls on parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Creamy Orzo Pasta

This recipe comes from one of my favorite Food Network Chefs - Giada De Laurentiis. As a queen of Italian cooking, she knows her stuff and fills her cookbooks with several kid-pleasing pasta recipes. This is simple but my family goes crazy for it. My daughters who would rather eat pasta over potatoes any day and this is at the top of their list.

Creamy Orzo Pasta

1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, juices drained
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a heavy large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas. Add the orzo and toss to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the Parmesan to the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Stir the pasta mixture until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season the orzo with salt and pepper, and serve.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Curry Chicken with Cashews

My husband claims he doesn't like curry and I've often tried change his misguided mind with little success. However, this cult-like recipe has done the trick. Probably not something to tackle when you're short on time but sometimes it's nice to spend time creating special meals. The cashews add great flavor and heft to the sauce. Get out your favorite Bollywood soundtrack and get cooking!

Curry Chicken with Cashews

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces (boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great choice)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup cashews (1/4 pound)
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (can use coconut milk)

Heat butter in a 5- to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately low heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring to coat, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, including juice, and cilantro and bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Just before serving pulse cashews in a food processor until very finely ground, then add to curry along with yogurt and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve with cooked basmati or jasmine rice with chopped fresh cilantro.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do Not Resist

I'll come out with my dirty little secret. I may be the only person on earth that does not love chicken. I just don't get the hype. So when my mother gave me this recipe, I politely filed it away and thought I'd never make it. Then came a night where I needed a quick meal for a visiting relative and gave into the pressure. I'm now a believer in the bird based on this recipe that makes a moist baked chicken that cannot be beat. Do not resist the bird.

Anita's Baked Vinegar Chicken

1 cup white vinegar
1 stick melted butter
1 tbls. dry mustard
1 tbls. sugar
1 tbls. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 cut up fryer chicken

Mix all ingredients and pour over chicken and bake at 450 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes. Yes, ladies and gentlemen - it is just that easy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Bean Soup

I'm a devotee of all things recommended by the folks at Real Simple. I keep waiting for them to knock on my door and give my life a makeover. But until then, I'll just make this easy peasy soup. My kids mix in an absurd amount of sour cream so I buy the fat-free stuff. I've also used jarred salsa (not fresh as recommended) and it turns out just fine.

Black Bean Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups fresh salsa
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 16-ounce can refried black beans (I've omitted this when I don't have it)
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)
dry sherry (optional)

Heat the oil in a saucepan or large pot over medium heat. Add the salsa and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add the refried beans, black beans, and broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. For a smooth soup, use immersion blender to carefully puree mixture. Ladle into bowls. Top with some of the remaining salsa and the sour cream and cilantro (if using). The grown ups like to add a touch of dry sherry to the soup to finish it. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

THE Best Baked Pasta!

So we had a rare but welcomed warm February day today in Cleveland. I was tempted to toss burgers on the grill but had all the makings for this baked pasta recipe and decided to give it a whirl. Let's just say that after dinner, Chris stood up to proclaim that this was one of the BEST dishes I've ever made. I think he was just hungry from playing with the kids outside but I'll take my props when I can get them. The secret is in the pesto-laced sauce and the glorious cheeses so I look for them at inexpensive places like Trader Joe's. As you can see from the recipe, play around with the cheeses to suit your taste. I'm not typically a fan of smoked cheeses but it did add a nice flavor so don't be shy.

Sausage-Spinach Baked Pasta

1 lb. mild or hot Italian sausage
2-3 Tlbs. olive oil
1 onion - chopped
3 garlic cloves - minced
2 26oz. Pomi brand (in box) marinara sauce
6 Tbls. prepared pesto sauce
1 lb. penne pasta
8 oz. either smoked mozzarella or smoked Gouda - shredded (I used Gouda)
8 oz. Fontina - shredded
8 oz. either diced fresh mozzarella or 8 oz. ricotta (I used fresh mozzarella)
1 cup Parmesan
1 6oz. package of fresh spinach

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook sausage until browned and cooked through. Drain. Saute onions and garlic in oil in dutch oven or deep saucepan. Add marinara sauce and pesto to onions and garlic. Add sausage back into sauce and simmer on low for 15minutes. Cook pasta according to package. Lightly cover a 9 x 13 pan with sauce. Combine cooked pasta, smoked cheese, fresh mozzarella or ricotta and (uncooked)spinach. Pour into 9 x 13 and top with Parmesan cheese and any extra smoked or fresh mozzarella if desired. Bake for 20- 30 minutes until brown and bubbling. Enjoy!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Saucy Friday Night!

Across this great nation, Friday night spells pizza night. Legions of tired worker bees find it easy to order in their favorite pie, grab some beer and pop in a DVD or relax with friends. We are no exception but I've sworn off The Hut and bid farewell to Papa J. I'm making my own. I've resurrected an old recipe that I have almost committed to memory. As for the crust, I don't often make my own because there are so many places to pick up restaurant-quality dough. Local pizza places are a good source but I have luck at Trader Joe's and fresh dough made by my local Heinen's. Control your own destiny with the toppings. A hot oven is key so once you assemble your pizza (on a stone or cookie sheet) bake it fairly high and keep an eye on it. Thanks baby brother for this elementary school gem!

Doug's Pizza Sauce

1/2 chopped medium onion or one small onion
1 Tbls. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
3 Tbls. water

In small saucepan saute onion in olive oil over med-high heat then add garlic and saute just a minute or so until you smell the garlic. Lower the heat and add all other ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes. Makes enough for one pizza so we double this recipe if making two pizzas.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A soup to warm the soul

So there are some people that claim they could eat soup everyday. My mother is one of those people but I am not. I guess slurping my meal doesn't hold the same appeal for me but this soup...this soup is fantastic with great flavor and is hearty enough to serve for company. You may want to double the recipe in this case. I use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to speed things up and serve these in sourdough bread bowls for a festive and hearty meal.

Chipotle Chicken Chowder

1 7-oz. can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 Tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. dried thyme
6 cloves garlic - crushed
6 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1½ lbs. boneless chicken breasts
2 medium red potatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 can white or golden hominy, rinsed and drained
¼ cup whipping cream
1 cup chopped and seeded plum tomatoes
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ tsp. salt
8 lime wedges

Remove 1 chili and 1 tsp. adobo sauce from can; reserve remaining chilies and sauce for another use. Finely chop chili and set aside with sauce. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped chili, onion, and next six ingredients; cook seven minutes or until soft. Stir in broth, bring to a boil and add chicken, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until chicken is tender and cooked. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and when cool, shred chicken - cover and keep warm. Remove pan from heat, let stand 5 minutes. Carefully use emulsion hand blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in potatoes and hominy. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes on medium heat. Stir in chicken and cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the reserved 1 tsp adobo sauce, tomatoes, cilantro and salt. Serve with lime wedges. Can also serve with tortilla strips, sour cream, cheese, etc.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spiced Popcorn

Spiced Party Popcorn
A sophiticated yet simple snack to put out with drinks. The younger kids might not dig it but sometimes you just have to eat like a grown up!

2 tablespoons wok oil or vegetable oil1 cup (un-popped) popcorn

1/2 stick butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground paprika
4 teaspoons salt (I used less)
4 teaspoons sugar

Put the oil into the biggest pan you have with a lid over high heat, add the popcorn and quickly put on the lid. Let the popcorn pop, shaking the pan every now and then to keep the kernels moving. You will hear it but don't be tempted to look, unless you want to get shot at, and once it has stopped popping - a couple of minutes or so - take it off the heat.

Melt the butter with the spices in another pan (or micro) and then pour it over the popcorn and put everything into a large paper bag/shopper. Shake, shake and shake the bag again to mix the popcorn and get it thoroughly coated in the spiced butter.

Arrange in several party bowls.

Recipe from my girl - Nigella Lawson

A pasta for all seasons!

Zucchini Pasta
This pasta recipe has been passed around so many times but it's great no matter the season and right now, I'm tired of the standard winter fare and am looking for inspiration to feel like summer will come again.

1 lb. dried bowtie pasta
4 med zucchini – shredded
4 Tbls. butter
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 c. parmesan cheese – grated or shredded
Dash of nutmeg
Salt/pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions and add zucchini to pasta water at last 1-2 minutes of pasta cooking time. Drain pasta/zucchini reserving ¼ c. pasta water. In large saucepan, melt butter and add yogurt, cheese, nutmeg, reserved pasta water and salt/pepper to gently warm. Toss sauce with pasta and enjoy!