Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cranberry Apple Sauce

I found this recipe searching for one more side to serve my side of the family on Saturday. I didn't do traditional Thanksgiving; opting instead for herb roast pork. Husband suggested including the traditional cranberry sauce, but maybe an apple/cranberry version. A quick Internet search produced this recipe. (Found on SimplyRecipes.com)

I halved the recipe; using two Granny Smith apples and two Gala apples. Used one cup of fresh cranberries and half of the remaining ingredients. I was sweet with a bit of tart and went great with the pork.

3 to 4 pounds of peeled, cored, roughly chopped Granny Smith apples (or other good cooking apple such as Golden Delicious, Fuji, Jonathan, Mcintosh, or Gravenstein)
1 1/2 cups to 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all of the ingredients in a large (5-quart) pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook 20-30 minutes, or until the apples can easily be mashed.

Remove from heat. Mash the apples and cranberries with a potato masher to the consistency you want.

Serve hot as a side to pork or turkey. Or serve hot or cold as a dessert with some vanilla ice cream.

Store in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Or freeze for up to a year.

Makes 1 1/2 to 2 quarts.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Soup and Bread

Soup and bread is one of the best fall meals. The following soup is one of the best I have ever had. The recipe is from a cookbook we bought from a, very unfortunately, now out-of-business local restaurant. It is a little bit spicy, rich, hardy and delicious.

Tuscan Bean Soup

Ingredients:

1 onions, diced
1 bell peppers, diced
3 cups ham, diced
1 cup bacon, diced
6 cups northern bean, drained
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp cumin powder
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk

Directions:

In a soup pot, saute onions, peppers, ham, and cooked bacon until onions are translucent.
Add the chicken stock and spices.
Add the beans and bring to a heavy simmer. Use a whip to break up and slightly mash the beans.
Add the milk and cream.
Bring to almost boiling and thicken with roux

My favorite side of this soup is Beer Cheese Bread. The following recipe is from Cooking Light.

Basic Beer Cheese Bread

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
13.5 oz. all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (12-ounce) bottle lager-style beer (such as Budweiser)
Cooking spray
2 tbsp. melted butter, divided

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Add onion mixture, cheese, and beer to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday dinner

We had friends over for dinner last night. I wanted a traditional comfort-food fall meal and decided on pork roast and Au Gratin potatoes.

I don't normally make a roast for the two of us and when I do it's usually in the crock pot. To give it lots of flavor I rubbed the roast with olive oil, salt and pepper, minced garlic, rosemary, tarragon and thyme. Husband suggested beer in the roasting pan to keep the meat moist. It was then covered and in the oven for two hours. It was outstanding; very moist and flavorful.

The Au Gratin potatoes is one of my favorite holiday recipes; Russet potatoes boiled and then shredded, layered with sharp Cheddar cheese, heavy cream poured over the top and bread crumbs on top to finish. It is rich, creamy and delicious.

I bought a loaf of sour dough bread at Panera Bread and dessert was my homemade French Apple pie. It was a great evening.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

French Apple Pie

This is probably my favorite pie; the sweet crumb crust just makes it.

Homemade bottom crust-apples with sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. I always use a little more cinnamon and a little less nutmeg then the recipe recommends.



A crumb crust-butter, brown sugar and flour. I have found the best way to mix is my fingers.

Finished product. After years of swearing about a mess in the oven from spillover; I now use a deep-dish pie pan.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beef Stew



Fall is in full force here and it is cold. The last couple days it has also been rainy. With the weather getting ugly I wanted something warm, hardy and comforting.

This is a recipe I have been wanting to try for a while. I am a big fan of Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa) on Food Network. I love her style of cooking and her choice of foods. This stew sounded so wonderful I had to try it. We hadn't had beef stew in years and I was looking forward to a homemade recipe.

Beef Stew
with credit to The Barefoot Contessa

2 1/2 lb. good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine
2 whole garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 lb. white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in 1/2
1 lb. small potatoes, halved or quartered
1 tbsp. minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 cups or 1 (14 1/2-ounce can) chicken stock or broth
1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas

Directions:

Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in a large oven-proof Dutch oven and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.

Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.

My personal notes
: I cut the recipe down to about 2/3 of this; using a little over 1 pound of meat. I bought a package of pre-cut meat labeled as "stew meat" at the grocery store and it was flavorful and tender. The sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms were particularly delicious. I was concerned the mushrooms wouldn't hold up to all the cooking time but they were still intact and wonderfully flavored in the stew.
I did not have fresh rosemary so I used dried. Ina would hate this! I looked for fresh, I really did. In my opinion; the wine, the rosemary and the sun-dried tomatoes really make this recipe special.
Very, very pleased and Husband was raving; we have a winner here. I also have leftovers for another meal in the freezer-bonus!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chocolate-Marshmellow cookies



I was really hungry for something chocolate last night. My desserts recently have been carrot cake and strawberry/rhubarb pie; sweet but not chocolate.

My email this morning from Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for Surprise Cookies; a chocolate cookie with marshmellow in the center. I decided we needed a batch.

Ingredients


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally

Chocolate frosting

2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.
3. Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove baking sheets from oven, and place a marshmallow, cut-side down, in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begins to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
5. Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each marshmallow, starting in the center and continuing outward until marshmallow is covered.

Potato gnocchi

While watching Food Network a few days ago I decided to try gnocchi. It is definitely one of those fussy meals you plan on a weekend or day off.
I found the process of making the potato dough pretty easy. It didn't seem to take very much flour; for better or for worse. They were fun to cut apart and shape and I thought they were cute on the plate going into the refrigerator to sit.



A few hours later, with the water boiling, the nerves kick in. If there is too much flour the gnocchi wouldn't float, too little flour they fall apart. The fun is dinner is supposed to be happening in five minutes. They don't work-then what???
I am happy to report they floated like champs and did not fall apart. Success! They did, however, somewhat fall apart when I put them in the pan with the vegetables and sauce. I am honestly not sure why. Perhaps the pan was too hot. In retrospect, I would have put the gnocchi directly on the ricotta and poured the sauce over them. I really think they would have worked fine.

But it was delicious. The gnocchi themselves were light, soft and tasty and I did think the recipe was very flavorful. The lemon ricotta was a very nice touch.




The recipe can be found here:


Potato Gnocchi with Peas, Prosciutto and Ricotta

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas



When I come across a recipe one of my first thoughts is whether I can pull it together on a work night. In other words can I leave work at 5 o'clock, get home around 5:20 and have this meal on the table between 6 and 6:30. This recipe works.

I used a Mexican cheese blend and sprinkled a bit more cheese on top. I also covered it with tin foil for the first 1/2 hour as I like the shells soft and tender.

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa
2 tsp. chili powder
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup black beans-drained and rinsed
6 flour tortillas (6-inch), warmed
1 small tomato, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 green onion, sliced (about 2 tablespoon

Heat the oven to 350°F. Stir the soup, sour cream, salsa and chili powder in a medium bowl.

Stir 1 cup salsa mixture, chicken, black beans and cheese in a large bowl.

Divide the chicken mixture among the tortillas. Roll up the tortillas and place them seam-side up in a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Pour the remaining salsa mixture over the filled tortillas. Cover the baking dish.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the enchiladas are hot and bubbling. Top with the tomato and onion.

Trivia fact: In looking at different recipes I found this is actually a chicken burrito. A corn tortilla shell is needed for an actual enchilada.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Carrot Cake



Husband loves carrot cake and I have made it for him a handful of times. He has several specifications for good carrot cake; raisins, pineapple, minimal or no nuts and lots of cream cheese frosting. I concur, except for the raisins. So we decided I would make a 9X13 pan with raisins in half. I would love to make a layer cake; so pretty and layers of frosting! But that would make the half raisins idea quite a challenge.

So I made the following.

Ingredients:


1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) I left them out
1/2 cup (8 ounces) canned crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1 cup raisins, soaked in water for 15 minutes, and drained
1 cup (about 2 large) finely grated carrots (see Note)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

reheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick foil or grease with butter liberally.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, beat brown sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs until well-combined.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix well. Stir in walnuts, crushed pineapple, raisins, and carrots. Mix until evenly distributed.

Pour into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes or until center tests done. Cool to room temperature.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat cream cheese,confectioners' sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Spread on cooled cake. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup walnuts and press gently into frosting.

Note: It's important that the carrots be finely grated. Most graters and/or food processors won't do the trick. This is the perfect job for a microplane grater/zester. If you want to add an extra kick, soak the raisins in rum. You can also use this batter to make miniature 3 x 6-inch loaves, miniature bundt cakes, or large muffins. The baking time should be about 25 to 30 minutes.

My personal notes:
I put an extra 5 minutes on the baking time to make sure the middle was done. This is a dense cake.

I also doubled the cream cheese frosting. I made it as directed the last time and the frosting was sadly lacking. Doubling it now I question how I managed to cover the cake the last time.

I am not crazy about walnuts but I love pecans. I chose to sprinkle pecans on my half of the cake. Seems to be a fine substitute.

Friday, September 25, 2009

breakfast goodness




Raspberries, vanilla yogurt and some cereal for crunch. Great way to start the day!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Football = Pizza




The Minnesota Vikings season is in full force and that means pizza on game day. This can mean homemade, delivery, or take & bake. I hadn't made homemade in quite a while and had new recipes I was looking forward to trying.

This pizza has a garlic cream sauce; found by my mother-in-law in
The Cooking Photographer

This beautiful blog has been on my reading list ever since.

Garlic Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4th cup Parmesan Reggiano

In a saucepan melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Turn the heat to medium low and add the rest of the ingredients, but add the cheese last so it doesn’t hit the hot pan and seize up. Stir constantly until thickened.

The taste was terrific, but I think I probably needed to let the sauce cook a bit longer.

Ton O' cheese on this baby; as you can maybe tell by the photo. Lots of shredded cheese and some fresh mozzarella sliced on top. The dough was thick and soft. Pretty good; I have to say.

Also of note: the Vikings won!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings-slow cooker style

I am not even sure how I came across this recipe. I was searching/browsing through different sites and found myself reading this with interest.

First things first-I cut the recipe in half for the two of us. I also added frozen peas and corn, parsley, garlic powder, seasoned salt and pepper. I also substituted chicken broth for most of the water. Reading the comments is so helpful on All Recipes.

It was delicious. Reminded me of my mom's chicken and dumplings growing up; and that is saying something.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Potluck food



For me, there are three qualifications for a good potluck dish for those work get-together or family events.
1. It must be able to sit at room temp for a few hours without starting to look funny, taste funny or flat-out start to go bad. This goes double for work potlucks where refrigerator space is at a premium.
2. Relatively easy and turn out predictably.
3. Mass appeal.

My brother turned 40 recently; and his party was last night. It doesn't get much easier or more appealing that this Italian Pasta Salad. Colored, pretty pasta, bottled Italian dressing, cut-up pepperoni, cubed cheese, and veggies.

I just made sloppy joes for a work potluck tomorrow. Very easy and it goes over very well. Dragging the crock pot in will be the hardest thing of whole process. A coworker is bring buns, so one less thing I have to carry.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fresh tomatoes




For the first, oh, 35+ years of my life I did not eat raw tomatoes. Loved tomato sauce, ketchup, even tomato soup, but I couldn't do a raw one. Maybe it was the texture, maybe it was the seeds, maybe it was hanging on to old ideas; but I took countless raw tomatoes out of salads and off sandwiches.

Then one day I was at a work lunch, packed into a room like sardines. I had a salad with grape tomatoes in it. Rather then try to put them aside I just ate the darn things. You know what? Not bad. So I decided I was okay with grape and cherry tomatoes-the little ones. Not so scary.

This soon led to eating the big ones, and loving them. As every tomato eater knows the best are garden grown and ripe on the vine. One of these beauties was sliced on top of grilled hamburgers last night. The day before another was in a salad.

I have several bags in the freezer waiting to be cooked down for sauce.
By the way: the easiest way to skin tomatoes-freeze them and them run them under hot water. The skin literally falls off.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp was on sale at the grocery store this morning and I decided to try a recipe I have had my eye on. I tend to think of scampi as swimming in butter. This recipe contains no butter; but with the olive oil and fresh minced garlic I didn't miss it.

Broiled Shrimp Scampi

Credit to Martha Stewart

1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on, patted dry
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat broiler with rack set 4 inches from heat. Place shrimp on a large broilerproof rimmed baking sheet.

2. Sprinkle with oil and garlic, and season generously with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Arrange shrimp in a single layer.

3. Broil until opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

I served with a mushroom rice and I was very pleased with the results.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Alfredo

My first try at making Alfredo sauce tonight. It was something I always wanted to try; but it seemed a bit intimidating. But after looking up recipes I found the standard seems to be butter, heavy cream, garlic and Parmesan cheese. I couldn't imagine this was going to turn out too badly.

It was indeed delicious. I served it over fettuccine pasta with chicken. We decided mushrooms or broccoli would be a good addition in the future. I also forgot bread. But all in all a highly successful first try.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Broccoli Quiche

As I am pretty much a fan of anything with a crust; quiche is a favorite of mine. I made a recipe for broccoli quiche about a year ago and I have been tweaking it each time since when I make it.
My original recipe didn't call for meat. As I wanted Husband to eat it I add bacon; it is also delicious with ham. Today I put some spinach in as the broccoli was cooking and let it wilt down. The spinach was an excellent addition. For the cheese I used an Italian blend instead of straight mozzarella.

The following is the original recipe from All Recipes

Broccoli Quiche

2 tbsp. butter
1 onion, minced
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions, garlic and broccoli. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Spoon vegetables into crust and sprinkle with cheese.
3. Combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in melted butter. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until center has set.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

August seems a funny time of the year to be making pot pie. But this has been a funny summer; to say the least. It was plenty cool enough today to turn the oven on.

I tried a chicken pot pie this past winter and have made it a handful of times; each time a little different. The vegetables in the pie depend on the what I have available.

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk

2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)

2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions and garlic in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving

For instance: today I skipped the celery and went with frozen corn. I added some fresh chopped white mushrooms and chopped fresh broccoli.

Oh, and cool for 10 minutes? It will be delicious, but it will still be soup. I make it way ahead of time and we microwave the pieces. Works and tastes great.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Focaccia Bread



One of my goals is to try at least one new recipe a week. I have made focaccia bread before, but I don't remember being thrilled with the results. I had a new recipe and decided to try it with some chicken salad for dinner.

I turned out a bit puffier that I imagined; but the taste was wonderful. Fresh bread-hard to go too wrong.

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp. natural granulated sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I actually used all white flour)
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
Coarse salt
Dried rosemary or oregano

Directions:

1. Pour the yeast into warm water and let stand to dissolve for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the oil.

2. Combine the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Work the yeast mixture in using your hands, then turn out onto a well-floured board. Knead for 5 minutes, adding additional flour if the dough gets too sticky. Shape into a round and roll out into a circle with a 12-inch diameter.

3. Place on an oiled and floured baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

5. When the dough has risen, poke shallow holes into the surface with your fingers, at even intervals. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top evenly, followed by the garlic, salt and herb.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the bread is golden on top and sounds hollow when tapped.

Recipe found in an email list from www.care2.com. Good stuff.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nachos

Why haven't I thought of this sooner??

I am always on the look-out for quick dinners for weekdays. Husband and I are ready to eat as soon as we get home from work and quick is nice; and necessary!

Corn chips on a plate, cover with leftover taco meat and cheese and microwave until meat is hot and cheese is melted.

Cover with, well, just about anything you want.....

Last night-
black olives
salsa
green onions
avocado (guacamole is good too, of course)
A little red pepper
Sour cream on the side

Seems like I am forgetting something. It was darn good.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chicken corn chowder

I have been making this soup for years; it was actually my first attempt at soup. Very easy, as most soups are, and delicious.

For years I made the recipe exactly as my cookbook indicated, but recently I tried spicing it up a little bit. This is how am making it now.

Spiced up Chicken Corn Chowder


1 -1 1/4 lb. bone-in chicken breast
2 cups water
1 rib celery, cut up
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. salt
milk
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup diced red pepper
2 tbsp. flour
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
1 (17 ounce) can cream-style corn
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp.cumin
snipped chives or parsley

Directions:

Combine chicken, water, celery, bay leaf and salt in 3 quart saucepan. Bring top boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove chicken from broth; cool, discard bones. Dice chicken; set aside. Strain broth; add enough milk to make 3 cups; set aside. Melt margarine in 3 quart saucepan; saute onion and red pepper until soft but not brown. Blend in flour; gradually stir in milk mixture. Add potatoes; simmer until tender (15-20 minutes). Stir in chicken, corn, salt,pepper, and cumin; heat through. Garnish with chives.
Amount: 6-7 cups

The original recipe called for celery in place of red pepper. I use red pepper in other soup recipes and although I am not a pepper fan in general, I really like the flavor it gives a soup. It also didn't call for cumin; another ingredient I love in other soups. I might throw in a few red pepper flakes too.

Strawberry-Rhubarb



In my opinion, the flavors of strawberry and rhubarb compliment each other perfectly. Strawberry, on its own in a dessert, is a bit bland. Rhubarb, unless you are a real fan of tart or load the sugar is well...too much. But put them together and it's perfect.

This pie went to work for a potluck yesterday and was a hit. I missed the ice cream I usually serve at home. (Way too much of a hassle to deal with ice cream at work.) But it was really fabulous.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chicken ala me

Now don't get me wrong; I am under no illusion that I am the first one to put veggies and cheese on chicken and call it yummy. But the fact is one day I just put it together, no recipe, just this-sounds-good-with-that and went for it.

It starts with a boneless skinless chicken breast; sliced in half the long way to make a long thin strip of chicken. This gets covered with flour and spices. The spices vary every time I make it. Last night it was salt, pepper, garlic and Italian spices.

The chicken is then browned in olive oil for about 10 minutes until it is brown on both sides, but not necessarily done in the middle. I then throw in the oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

A little more olive oil and in the pan go some veggies. Mushrooms are absolutely necessary in my opinion. Spinach is wonderful and adds some nice green color. A little fresh garlic is good, onion would probably work too.

When there is about 5 minutes left on the chicken pull it out and throw the veggies on top. Then cover with cheese. I am particularly fond of muenster cheese here, but mozzarella or Monterey Jack would be fine too. Let the cheese melt and you have it-Chicken ala me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

When you don't have it in you to cook....

...pizza saves the day fairly often. At least around here. Actually twice this week-it's been quite a week.

Tuesday is normally a day for a nice dinner and a possible time-consuming menu. I have the day off so there is no racing around after work to throw something together. This week the day included a massive, down on the couch headache. Husband got home and threw a frozen pizza in the oven. As far as frozen pizza go California Pizza Kitchen is pretty darned good.

Last night we ordered pizza. Not planned, just too long and stressful of a day to think about much of anything else.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blueberries

On our weekly grocery shopping trip this morning Husband noted the blueberries were on sale. Would I make a blueberry pie today? Of course. But I did ask him to sort the berries. Four pints of blueberries went in the cart; twice the needed amount for a standard pie.

The sorting consisted of three bowls; excellent, acceptable and not acceptable. Luckily there were not a lot in the unacceptable category and those are now on the deck to see if birds might like them. Another bowl of acceptable fruit is the kitchen for ice cream and cereal toppings. The rest has been baked into a pie.

It surprised me looking at recipes how relatively few suggest picking through the berries. There is a big difference between a large, properly ripe blueberry and a small, under-ripe tart one.

Personally I don't care for blueberries. Maybe I have just gotten too bad ones, maybe it's the flavor or texture or maybe I just don't like blue foods. Regardless-Husband has a pie to himself.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Joy of leftovers

I have always been a big fan of leftovers. A easy, quick weekend lunch or weekday dinner. Every couple of weeks we have a leftover night; which consists of digging containers out of the freezer and refrigerator and reheating. It might be soup and pasta, or perhaps tacos and salad. Sort of our own little buffet.

We had lasagna for lunch. Those little plastic containers are the perfect single serving of leftovers.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Age Old Dilemma

The meal plan is set; then hours (or minutes) before you intend to start dinner-you realize you are missing an ingredient. Not the main ingredient generally, but one little item.

Do you?

*Race to the nearest store for said missing item?
*Never substitute and look into an alternative dish?
*Consider a substitution?

I personally have done all three at one time or another. Really depends.

Last night I planned to make Sesame Chicken. Actually a light recipe by Martha Stewart than I have made a handful of times. It eliminates the heavy (delicious) breading on the chicken that is sometimes seen on this dish and uses a egg white and cornstarch mixture.
Scallions, or green onions as we call them here, are used in this recipe and I was out. I ended up going with thinly sliced yellow onion and it wasn't bad. I missed the color and texture of the green onions, but it tasted fine.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dinner out

We are on vacation this week. Not going anywhere; more like relaxing, eating well and well....relaxing. I had been hearing good things about a restaurant in a local hotel for a while and it seemed a good time to try it.

Arriving at about 5 o'clock we were the first ones there. I was immediately pleased to see the wine list and recognize the brands. We have long been fans of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay; so we ordered a bottle.

I had no problem finding several entrees that looked good and settled on French Chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Husband ordered one of the specials which consisted of pork with hoisin sauce over rice and a separate serving of beef with mushrooms. This is the second time in recent weeks I have seen two small separate servings as one entree and I love the concept.

The portions weren't huge; which made dessert an option. We split a slice of Snickers pie. Exactly what it sounds like and delicious.

It was a nice atmosphere; especially as it never got terribly busy while we were there. Nice evening.

Fudge delight

We were shopping at our local sporting goods/outdoor store and walked past the little fudge and candy shop that dwells within.

Should we stop and buy some fudge? Well, twist my arm.

Standing at the counter looking at no less than twenty varieties of fudge; we attempted to chose. The nice lady offered samples and stated the best deal is to buy six. Six meaning six good-sized hunks of fudge. It seemed silly not to.

That was not even 24 hours ago and a great dent has been put in those six heavenly pieces of fudge. Why we have not made greater use of that place is beyond me. To think fudge used to be a Christmas thing. Why not July?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

lasagna

I have been making lasagna for years. I would like to think it's one of my specialties and it has been a while since I considered any adaptations to my recipe. Sausage, fresh mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomato sauce and some fresh tomatoes, herbs and cheese. (Must have ricotta cheese, by the way.)
We had dinner with friends a few months ago and lasagna was served. It was spicy. I don't mean garlic-I mean spicy, hot!
So my lasagna tonight included hot sausage and a fair amount of red pepper flakes. Very good and got your nose running-if you know what I mean. :-)

New blog

It occurs to me that I talk, write and think a lot about food. Might make for an interesting blog