Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another Great Fish Recipe

After I made the great Mahi Mahi from Jeff's Pecan-Crusted Tilapia recipe last week, I'd been thinking about what to do next with some more of the fillets in my freezer. I came up with this. I really like coconut and macadamia on fish, and this time I wanted a good sauce. I'm calling it a pineapple beurre blanc, since a beurre blanc is a cream sauce with butter swirled in. This sauce is reduced pineapple juice, butter, and cream. It tasted wonderful on this fish. I think I like this dish even better than the pecan-crusted one. I sure am enjoying learnig how to make fish after all these years of avoiding it!

Macadamia-Coconut Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Beurre Blanc


1 6-oz. can pineapple juice
1 T butter
3 T heavy cream
1/4 c flour
1 t lemon juice
1/4 c milk
1/4 c unsweetened flaked coconut
1/3 c macadamias
2 Mahi Mahi fillets
2 T butter

Start the sauce, since it takes the longest time, and can cook while you're preparing the fish. Put the pineapple juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and continue to cook over medium heat (not boiling but more than simmering) for 15-20 minutes. Add butter and continue cooking until reduced by over a half. It will appear syrupy. Turn off heat and add cream.

Prepare three dredging plates: in the first, put the flour. In the second, stir together the milk and lemon juice. Chop the coconut and macadamias very finely, and combine in the third bowl. Coat the fish fillets with flour, then dip in milk, and then in coconut-macadamia mixture. Sauté in butter over medium heat until browned on both sides and fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with sauce. Makes two servings.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Beef & Potato Quesadillas

My friend Diane, who is a teacher at one of our middle schools, has given me several recipes that are now family favorites. One of them is her bean “dip,” and another is this one, which I’ve changed only to make it quesadillas instead of loose meat-and-potatoes that you spoon into warmed tortillas. We’ve had it both ways, and this way seems to be “neater,” in that I just make the quesadillas and serve them hot without any mess.

Beef and Potato Quesadillas

1 1/2 c cube-style hash brown potatoes
1 T canola or vegetable oil
3/4 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 small can tomato paste
4 8” flour tortillas
2 c shredded cheddar or jack cheese

In a medium skillet, brown the hash browns in oil. Drain on paper towels. In same skillet, crumble and brown the ground beef; drain. Stir in tomato paste, mixing well. Stir in potatoes. On a hot griddle or large skillet, place two tortillas. Spoon some of ground beef-potato mixture onto one half of each tortilla; top with grated cheese. Fold tortilla over to make half-circles. Brown gently on each side. Serve with salsa. Feeds two hungry people.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Chicken Satay and Curried Rice Pilaf

Following a very busy week, which included an afternoon of picketing at Yucaipa’s busiest intersection and a school board meeting, I traveled out of town for a working retreat with a group of teacher-leaders from around San Bernardino and Riverside counties. We were up in a mountain town called Idyllwild, which sits at about the same elevation as my town (6000 feet). I had the French Country room at the Idyllwild Inn, which has rooms with various themes, such as West, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, and Farm. We spent most of the weekend working, but did enjoy free evenings. Last night we ate at the Creek House Restaurant, and I had another great fish dish (wow! 2 in one week!). I’m going to replicate it sometime soon. We came out of the restaurant to a very light snow, which quit after about 15 minutes. But this morning, we woke up to a heavier snow, which left a little over an inch on the ground. It wasn’t very cold outside, and when the sun came out around 9 am, all the snow quickly melted. It sure was pretty, though.

I came home this morning and put the chicken in to marinate in my Foodsaver marinating dish, and had a dinner with numerous exotic flavors.

Chicken Satay

2 t lemon zest
2 med. shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t grated gingerroot
2 t ground coriander
2 t ground cumin
1 t turmeric
1 T brown sugar
1 1 t salt
1 T soy sauce
2 t sesame oil
4 boneless chicken thighs

In a processor, combine all ingredients except chicken. Whirl to a paste. Place chicken in a marinating dish or ziploc bag and spread with paste. Marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours, up to overnight.

Return meat to room tempearature before grilling. Skewer meat; preheat grill to high. Grill skewers 2-3 minutes on each side and serve with peanut sauce. (I didn’t skewer it this time–I just cooked it on my George Foreman grill.)

Peanut Sauce:
1/3 c creamy peanut butter
1/4 c chicken broth
2 T chili paste
2 T brown sugar
2 T soy sauce
1 t grated gingerroot
1 clove garlic, minced

Place peanut butter in heavy medium saucepan. Slowly add chicken broth, then all other ingredients. Stir over medium heat until smooth and thick, about 6 minutes. Can be stored in refrigerator 3 days until ready to use. Reheat before serving.

Needing a good side dish, I turned to my rice recipes and changed one of my favorites a little by adding curry powder and pine nuts.

Curried Rice Pilaf

1/4 c pine nuts
2 T butter
1/2 c chopped onion
1 t curry powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c converted rice
2 c chicken broth
2 T orange juice concentrate
1/3 c raisins, plumped in hot water and then drained

Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes until golden. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and sauté onion until softened but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add curry powder and garlic to onion, and sauté another 30 seconds. Add rice, and continue to sauté about 3 more minutes, or until rice begins to appear translucent. Add chicken broth and orange juice concentrate; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over very low heat until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Add raisins and pine nuts. Fluff with a fork and serve. 4 servings.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Best Fish I've Had in a Long Time

All my life I've avoided most fish. As a child, the only fish I ate was fish sticks, or fish that was breaded and fried. I grew to like the fish a Long John Silver's (still do!), and make oven-fried fish every once in a while. But other than that, I've not made much fish. I know I need to, so through the years I've tried different recipes, never really finding any that I truly enjoyed.

Until tonight.

After seeing some posts on other blogs about fish, I decided to give it a go again. I bought some mahi mahi fillets at Costco, and then searched for some appealing recipes. On Culinary in the Desert, Jeff posted a recipe for Pecan-Crusted Tilapia. I like pecans, and the idea of having a breading with pecans in it sounded pretty good. It was easy, and I LOVED it! I have to admit I changed the recipe slightly, and used more pecans and less breadcrumbs.

I would have a picture here, but the batteries on my camera were dead and I didn't want to wait for them to recharge! But mine turned out like Jeff's, so go look at his!

Now I'll be looking for other good recipes. I found another one I'll try on Kalyn’s Kitchen. It's for Almond and Parmesan Baked Tilapia. If you have other ones you think I should try, let me know!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Spring Day in the Mountains

What a lovely day it was! Sunny, warm--pretty up here in the mountains, with the snow melting beneath a beautiful blue sky. I was able to get DH to grill this evening, so I tested another one of Ruth’s recipes--this one was for a grilled flank steak that I started marinating yesterday. The marinade was something that can be used for all kinds of meats, and the sauce was great!

Breakfast was omelets. Sometimes we use ham and cheese, other times we'll use mushrooms, or spinach. But today we had asparagus and Swiss cheese. There's a restaurant in Buena Vista, Colorado, where we stop sometimes when we're camping in Leadville and start heading for home. It's called the Evergreen Cafe, and it serves fantastic breakfasts. While I'm tempted by several things on the menu, I always get a dish which is sort of like Eggs Benedict. Instead of ham, though, it's served with roasted asparagus. After I ate that the first time, about 15 years ago, I thought I'd go home and try an omelet with asparagus in it. And since I didn't want to make Hollandaise sauce, I used Swiss cheese. DH and I agreed that it's a great combination.

I used canned asparagus this time, and had about half a can left, so I decided to use it up by making some of Kalyn’s egg "muffins." I changed the recipe just a bit and added cream cheese to the egg mixture. The muffins I made this morning had asparagus and Swiss cheese in them, like our omelets, and are now packaged and in the freezer to grab for a couple quick breakfasts this week.

Since I had the oven going, I thought I'd make double use of it and make an apple tart. We bought some apples last week that we found were too mushy to eat out of hand, so I used three of them for this tart. It's something I throw together now and then, since I always keep already-made pie crusts in the freezer, and the recipe calls for ingredients I always have in the kitchen.

Rustic Apple Tart

1 unbaked 9" pie crust
3 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 c sugar or Splenda granular
1/4 c flour
2 T butter, cut in small pieces

Preheat oven to 350˚ Lay pie crust flat on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. Toss apples with cinnamon, nutmet, sugar/Splenda, and flour. Pour into a mound on the pie crust, and shape with your hands to leave 2-3" of pie crust all the way around the apples. Gently pull the edges of the pie crust up around the apples, leaving most of the center uncovered.

Dot apples with butter. Bake for about 40 minutes. Here's what it looks like cooked:

Dinner tonight was the flank steak. Some corn on the cob and a simple salad and we had a nice easy meal.

Hearty Italian Sandwiches - from the Crockpot

Yesterday I cooked another crockpot dish; this one has got to be one of my favorites. It's so easy, and so yummy, and can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. I just make a small batch, because even then we have some leftovers.

Hearty Italian Sandwiches

2 mild/sweet link Italian sausages
3/4 lb. lean ground beef
1 med. onion, thinly sliced
1 large green or red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large tomato diced (or about a cup of diced canned tomatoes)
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 t crushed red pepper
1 c burgundy or water
4 crusty sandwich rolls (you could use hoagie rolls, if you want)
1 c grated mozzarella cheese

Remove the sausage from its casings, and brown with the ground beef, breaking all the meat up into smaller bits. Layer half of the onion and bell pepper in the crockpot, then top with the meat. Put the rest of the onion and bell pepper on top of the meat, then the tomatoes. Sprinkle all with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook on low 6-7 hours, checking after 3-4 hours. If it appears to be drying out, add some of the wine or water.

Split the sandwich rolls, and divide the meat mixture evenly among them. Top each with 1/4 cup cheese. (I usually pop the completed sandwiches in a 350˚ oven for about 5 minutes to crisp up the rolls and melt the cheese, but it's not mandatory.
4 Servings.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Quick and Easy Hot Ham Sandwiches

The day started out warm-I didn't even need a jacket this morning when I left for work at 5:30, and as I walked down the steps to my Jeep, I could hear the snow melting off the roof. At around 10 this morning, however, it started raining in the valley, and I was worried it would be snowing up here.

When I left the office and headed for home, I called DH as I always do, and mentioned I had no idea what I would fix for dinner. He mentioned that I had some sliced Black Forest Ham in the fridge, so I said I'd come up with something using the ham. That's one of the advantages of living up here-I can use the time during the drive home to plan dinner. I had some bagels that were in the office freezer that I was bringing home, and decided to use them and make Baked Ham Sandwiches. Normally the recipe calls for hamburger buns, but I thought the bagels would be good. They were. I also had half a cucumber and half a bell pepper that needed to be used, so I made a pasta salad that I first had at a scrapbooking party. It's pretty simple, and DH likes it a lot.

Baked Ham Sandwiches


1 T butter, softened
2 T mayonnaise
1 T mustard
1 T finely diced onion
2 t poppy seeds
3 hamburger buns or plain bagels (hmmm. some of the flavored bagels would be good, wouldn't they?)
3 slices cooked ham
3 slices Swiss cheese

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, mayonnaise, mustard, onion and poppy seeds. Spread on top and bottom of hamburger buns or bagels. Add a slice of ham and a slice of swiss to each, and wrap sandwiches in foil. Bake 15 minutes at 350˚. Serve hot. Makes 3

Easy Pasta Salad


6 oz. rotini or elbow macaroni, cooked
1/2 of a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 of a green or red bell pepper, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 c bottled Italian salad dressing

Combine all ingredients.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Tasty Crockpot Chicken Dish, Broccoli Salad

This chicken dish turns out nicely - and is like a saucy barbecued chicken. It's easy to throw together in the morning, and the chicken falls of the bone by the time it's done. I also made a broccoli salad - sort of like the one at Claim Jumper, but with a few variations. Then, since both dishes were sweet, we needed something not sweet with them, so I made turnip greens.

Cranberry-Barbecue Chicken


2-3 pounds chicken pieces (I used 3 chicken breasts)
1 can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 c diced celery
1/2 c diced onion
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 c barbecue sauce (I used Bullseye)

Place chicken pieces in crockpot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook on low 7-8 hours.

Broccoli Salad


2 crowns fresh broccoli, cut in bite-sized pieces
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 c seedless red grapes, sliced in half
1/4 c raisins
1/3 c diced purple onion
1/3 c pine nuts
1/3 c real bacon bits (or 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled)

1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 c sugar or Splenda
1 T cider vinegar

Mix all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix dressing ingredients and toss with salad.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Zucchini Casserole

My sister-in-law Carol sent me her squash casserole recipe, and I tinkered around with it and came up with a very similar one for zucchini. I added some cheese and a crumb topping, and sautéed the onions that went in it, to avoid the raw taste that sometimes comes with adding frozen chopped onions to things. (I usually use frozen chopped onion, since there's always some in my freezer.) This one came out very nice--since it's got some eggs in it, it's very light and fluffy.

Zucchini Casserole


3 lbs. zucchini
1/4 c butter
1/2 c chopped onion
3 eggs, beaten
2 T cornstarch
5 oz. can evaporated milk
2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 T sugar or Splenda granular
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425˚. Wash and slice zucchini and boil until tender, about 8 minutes. While squash is boiling, sauté the onion in the butter. Drain the squash well, slightly mash and mix with onion and remaining ingredients. Bake in a 12 x 7" baking dish 35-40 minutes. You could add a crumb topping of crushed Ritz crackers or saltines, mixed with a tablespoon of butter. I used 10 Ritz crackers and 1/4 cup of panko break crumbs, since that's all the crackers I had.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Last Day of Spring Break- It's Back to Work Tomorrow

I was going to sleep late today, the last day I could do so for a week, but my son called me at 5:30 am from Korea. Oh well. I made a pot of coffee, and decided to bake a batch of healthy breakfast cookies. I've been seeing commercials for a major company's "breakfast cookies," and I can just imagine how much white flour and sugar they have in them. Mine are much healthier. And they don't have fruit in them, like raisins or apples–they have bacon, and cheese, and oats. The combination of salty protein with the sweet make for a yummy, filling treat to eat by hand while driving to work if you're in a hurry and can't make breakfast at home.

Breakfast Cookies


3/4 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2/3 c butter, softened
1/4 c Splenda
1/4 c Splenda brown sugar blend
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 regular oats, uncooked (can use quick-cooking, but not instant)
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c ground flaxseed
1/4 c oat bran
1/2 c real bacon bits

Combine flour, soda, and salt; mix well, and set aside. Cream butter and sugar; beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats, cheese, wheat germ, and bacon. Using hands, form dough into 1 1/2" balls. Slightly flatten them and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350F for 16-18 minutes. Cool 1 minutes on cookie sheets. Yield: 2 dozen

I cheated for dinner tonight. I used a seasoning mix I bought at George's Market, a German store around the corner from my office.
Instead of following the directions, which called for only meat, mushrooms, water, and a bit of cream, I added diced red potatoes, and white wine instead of water. Served with a salad, it made for a great dinner, with leftovers for DH's lunch tomorrow.

Bananas in Walnut Sauce
I learned something tonight about fat free half and half. It doesn't curdle when heated in a sauce. We wanted a sweet dessert, and I had some bananas, so I thought I'd throw together a simple walnut-brown sugar sauce sort of like Bananas Foster. It turned out wonderful. Here's what I did:

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a skillet, and add about half a cup of coarsely chopped walnuts. Cook the nuts gently for a couple of minutes, and then add two heaping teaspoons of Splenda brown sugar blend. Keep stirring, and after a minute or so, add 1/2 teaspoon rum extract and half cup of fat free half and half. Cook, stirring gently another couple of minutes--it will cook down and thicken. (This is where regular half and half tendes to curdle). Add two bananas, halved and sliced lengthwise into fourths. Heat through and serve. It tasted decadent, but had less real sugar and fat than regular.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Testing a Recipe from Ruth

Since DH went to Vegas this weekend to see his brother, I took the opportunity to make one of Ruth’s recipes--not that he wouldn't like it, but because it used two very small filet mignons that I had in the freezer and I knew he would want BIG steaks. I invited my neighbor Carol over for dinner, and fed her Ruth’s Steak au Poivre, baked potato, and mixed green salad. We both ate every bite, and practically licked the plates clean. Another success, Ruth! I don't have any pics though; by the time I remembered to take a picture, we were halfway finished. Dessert was more of Tuesday's Mocha Cappuccino Pudding. We shared a baked potato--both of us not wanting the calories, and I savored every bite since I haven't had baked potato in months!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Some Texas Barbecue for a Snowy Day

More snow. Ack. I've had enough. It's April! It started snowing last night, and DH and I woke up to over a foot on the ground. We spent most of the morning after breakfast shoveling the steps, the driveway, around the two vehicles, and then the huge berm put up by the snowplow. My wrists and back are so sore! We broke for lunch, and it started snowing again. Around 4, DH went out and shoveled again until dinner, but it hasn't stopped snowing. There's another foot. It's supposed to stop tonight. I hope so. DH has got to go to Las Vegas tomorrow, and I have a lunch date with my daughter.

Yesterday I started on tonight's dinner. Normally I take three days to do a barbecue brisket, but decided to shorten the process since I was able to start the cooking so early this morning. If you've never done a barbecue brisket, Texas style, here's the way to do it in a regular oven.

Barbecue Brisket, Texas Style

Day 1: Sprinkle both sides of the brisket with garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt. Place in a marinating dish, or a bag, or a Foodsaver marinating canister, and sprinkle with liquid smoke. This is a liquid sold under several different brand names. The one I have is called Wright's Hickory Seasoning Liquid Smoke, and comes in a 3.5 oz. bottle. Use about a third of the bottle for a 1.5 pound brisket, two thirds for a 3 pound brisket, and the whole bottle if you're doing a huge cut of meat. Seal bag or canister and marinate in the refrigerator at least overnight.

Day 2, early morning: Sprinkle brisket generously with Wocestershire sauce. For my 1.5 pound brisket, which is a small one, I used about 3 tablespoons. Place in a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for four hours at 275˚. Remove from oven, let cool for about an hour, and then place, still covered, in the refrigerator.

Day 2, 45 minutes before you want to eat: Remove brisket from pan and put on cutting board; slice thinly across the grain. It will seem tough, but it softens to a wonderful tenderness when it's reheated. Lift congealed grease from baking dish and discard. Put meat back in pan, and cover with about 1 cup of prepared barbecue sauce. I use either Bullseye or K.C. Masterpiece, since they don't have that raw sour taste that Kraft and Hunt's do. It's up to you.

Cover dish again with foil and bake at 325˚ for about 30-35 minutes. Enjoy!

We always eat this with my mother's potato salad and baked beans.

Mom's Potato Salad

1 very large russet potato or two medium ones
2 hard-boiled eggs,
3 T diced onion
4 sweet pickles, diced
2 T diced pimento
1/2 c Miracle Whip
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potato in its skin for about 25 minutes, or until knife inserted in potato goes through easily. Let cool. Peel and dice into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Makes about 4 servings.

Mom's Baked Beans

1 large can B & M or Bush's Boston-Style Baked Beans
1 T mustard
3 T brown sugar
2 T ketchup
1 T dried minced onion (yes, the dried stuff--if you use fresh, it doesn't cook enough and tastes too raw and onion-y)

Combine in a baking dish; cover tightly and cook at 350˚ for at least 30 minutes.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Foodblogger’s Meme Around the World

A couple of weeks ago, Ulrike at Kuchenlatein tagged me for this intriguing meme. It’s a fun one for me, since I am having a great time enjoying blogs from all over the world.

1. Please list three recipes you have recently bookmarked from foodblogs to try:

Ruth’s Chile Chicken with Cashews from Once Upon a Feast

Carrot Cake Bread from Chef Michele’s Adventures

Joe’s Chocolate Snack Cake from Culinary in the Desert

2. A foodblog in your vicinity:

So Cal Foodie

3. A foodblog (or more) located far from you:

a curious mix in Singapore, Malaysia

Anthony’s Kitchen in Mumbai, India

my favourite plum in Melbourne, Australia

4. A foodblog (or several) you have discovered recently (where did you find it?):

Erin Eats - I discovered her after she posted a comment on Once Upon a Feast

Look Hunny, I Cooked - I discovered her blog through some links on other blogs, and we’ve “spoken” through comments

Kayaksoup - same thing - links from other blogs

5. Any people or bloggers you want to tag with this meme?

Sure! How about Anthony of Anthony’s Kitchen and Catesa of Look Hunny, I Cooked

A Recipe from my Childhood Plus a Guilt-Free Dessert

Last week in North Carolina, my big brother Chuck and his wife Carol shared with me a recipe that I faintly remember from when I was a child. I remember the name, Pluto Pie, but not the actual dish. It sounded really tasty, and something that DH would like, so I wrote down the description as Carol and Chuck told me how to make it. I’m not sure mine’s exactly like theirs, but it’s got to be pretty close. It’s sort of like a pizza without the crust, and without the Italian seasoning.

Chuck and Carol’s Pluto Pie

3/4 lb. lean ground beef
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
3/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c sliced green olives
1 6-oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
3/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350˚.
Pack the ground beef into the bottom and up the sides of an ovenproof 10” skillet. (You might be able to use a pie pan for this, too.) Spread the tomato sauce on top of the beef, top with the cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the olives and mushrooms on top of the cheddar, and then top all with the mozzarella. Bake 40 minutes; let stand 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.

I served this with a salad right out of my childhood–iceberg lettuce, tomato, and bottled French dressing.

DH’s verdict: delicious! I thought so, too. The olives give it all the salt it needs, and the combination of flavors is just divine.

For all you chocolate lovers who can’t eat sugar, here’s a sugar-free chocolate dessert I tried tonight. We both thought it was rich, and couldn’t tell it was sugar-free.

Mocha Cappuccino Pudding

4 t instant coffee or espresso granules
1 T very hot water
1 1/2 c cold skim milk
1 sm. pkg. sugar-free instant )
chocolate pudding mix
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 cup Sugar Free Cool Whip
additional Cool Whip
Oreo cookie crisps (optional)

Dissolve coffee granules in water; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, pudding mix and cinnamon. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Stir in coffee. Fold in Cool Whip. Spoon into serving dishes. Garnish with a dollop of Cool Whip and cookie crisps if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Good Eatin' on Monday

While I was in North Carolina last week, my sister Marilyn made us a wonderful mushroom quiche for breakfast. She made it without a crust, and I begged her for the recipe since it tasted great and would be a fabulous low carb breakfast. The recipe she shared with me included sausage, so I asked DH which way he wanted it. He chose a crust and the sausage.

Marilyn's Mushroom Quiche

1 T butter
1 1/2 c sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 c chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 c chopped green bell pepper
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
1/3 c half & half
1 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
dash ground nutmeg
(optional) 4 oz. bulk breakfast sausage, crumbled, cooked, and drained
(optional) 1 9" uncooked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350˚. Sauté mushrooms, onion, and peppers in butter until tender. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in eggs and half & half Stir in cheeses, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Spray a 10" quiche dish with nonstick cooking spray. (Optional: use a pie crust) (Optional: sprinkle bottom of pie crust or quiche dish with cooked sausage). Pour egg mixture into dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

I had some fish sticks still in the freezer, along with some shrimp, and decided to make fish and shrimp tacos for dinner. One of my favorite fast food restaurants here in southern California is Rubio's Baja Grill. They used to make some wonderful shrimp tacos, until they switched to breaded shrimp. I especially like their salsas, but tonight it's all about the tacos. DH likes fish tacos, so we had both.

Fish and Shrimp Tacos

8 breaded fish sticks
8 medium pieces uncooked shrimp
3 T mayonnaise
3 T plain yogurt
1 t chipotle chili powder (I use McCormick's)
6 small corn tortillas (use 12 and double them if they're really thin)
grated cheddar cheese
diced tomato
shredded cabbage

Cook fish sticks according to package directions. Boil shrimp a couple minutes until pink. Remove tails and keep warm. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, and chili powder. Put corn tortilla on a hot griddle or skillet. Put cheddar cheese and two fish sticks or 4 pieces shrimp on each tortilla. Just as cheese melts, remove from griddle to a plate. (If you cook them too long, they get hard) Top each with a couple teaspoons of mayonnaise-yogurt mixture, some diced tomato, and some shredded cabbage. Fold in half to eat. Makes 4 fish tacos and 2 shrimp tacos.

Beef Burgundy on the Stovetop

Another recipe that I grew up loving from my mother's kitchen is Beef Burgundy. Not only is it easy to fix, it's a stovetop recipe instead of an oven one, and it tastes wonderful. I've cut it down some so that it makes only 3-4 servings.

Beef Burgundy

3/4 lb. round steak, cut in 3/4" pieces
1/2 c flour
3 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 c chopped onion
2 T chopped dried parsley
2 6-oz. cans mushrooms, drained
1 1/2 c burgundy
1 bay leaf

Shake round steak pieces in flour in a plastic or brown paper bag. Brown in two batches on all sides in butter in a large skillet. Add remaining ingredients. Turn heat to very low, cover, and simmer about an hour, stirring occasionally. It will thicken as it cooks; you might need to add water or more burgundy if it begins to dry out. Serve over hot rice.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Weekend Cat Bloggin# 43- Alvin

This is Alvin, my brother Barry's cat. He's a delightful cat. Friendly, playful. I don't have a cat of my own (I have Pepper, the dog), but thought I'd share Alvin for WCB. Check out the roundup on eatstuff .

It's Good to be Back in the Kitchen

This cake recipe is one of the winners of the Splenda Brown Sugar Blend recipe contest; it was submitted by “PJ L.” of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. I made it this afternoon, and decided it’s a “keeper.” Next time, I’ll add nuts for a change. DH wants frosting, but I put a couple dollops of sugar-free Cool Whip on our slices instead.

Died and Went to Heaven Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 cups SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
1/2 cup SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot strong black coffee (I used hot water with instant espresso powder)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cake pan or bundt with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.
Blend flour, SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener, SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and coffee in a large mixing bowl.
Add flour to mixture, using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix until
Smooth (about 2 minutes). Whisk in coffee. The batter will seem thin, but it’s okay.
Pour batter into cake pan or bundt pan.
Bake for 35 minutes, until an inserted toothpick in center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Note: I don’t usually have buttermilk in my refrigerator, so I use powdered buttermilk instead. You mix it in with the dry ingredients; and use the equivalent amount of water in the wet ingredients. Another option is to try this: stir 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup milk; let stand about 10 minutes. This is a common buttermilk substitute.

After I got the cake in the oven, I put some boneless chicken thighs in to marinate. I used a marinade that’s quick and easy, which I call Asian Marinade. It’s not very sweet, but it’s reminiscent of teriyaki.

Asian Chicken Thighs

1 6-oz. can pineapple juice
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 t grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
1/2 t red pepper flakes
4-6 boneless chicken thighs

Marinate chicken 2 hours or longer. Grill outside or on indoor grill.

While I was in North Carolina, I spent an afternoon watching the Food Network with my mother. She’s a Paula Deen fan, and so of course, we had to watch Paula’s Home Cooking. She made some sweet potatoes that I just HAD to copy, though I made one change that lowered the carbs. Paula called them “chips;” I’ll call mine “planks,” a name suggested by Alice when I described them to her this afternoon on the phone.

Sweet Potato Planks

1 large or two small sweet potatoes or yams
2 T butter, melted
1/4 c dry roasted peanuts, chopped (Paula Deen uses honey-roasted peanuts, but I use regular ones)

Earlier in the day, boil the potato in a large pot of water for about 20 minutes. Drain and cool.
Preheat oven to 450˚. Peel cooled potato, and slice into 1/2-inch slices. Spray a baking sheet with butter-flavored cooking spray and place potato slices on baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Bake 15-20 minutes. Serves 2


Thanks to all for your kind words of support and comfort. I'm home now in California--and what a trip it was to try to get back home! After a week in North Carolina with my family, I left Raleigh-Durham Thursday night for what was supposed to be a 5-hour flight to Las Vegas, a one-hour layover, and a 1-hour flight to Palm Springs. I should have been home at 2 am California time, or 5 am Raleigh time. Instead, I learned in Vegas that my flight to Palm Springs was running four hours late. I had a choice of taking a flight to Ontario and a bus to Palm Springs, arriving around 3 am, waiting for a flight that probably would get cancelled, or spending the night in Vegas and flying home the next day. Since I was really tired and wanted to sleep, I didn't want options one or two. So, I slept for 5 hours at Terrible's Hotel (without my luggage!), and flew out of Vegas for Phoenix at 9:40 am. Phoenix? It was the only flight that would connect me with Palm Springs. After a two-hour layover in Phoenix, we were told the flight to Palm Springs was running about 40 minutes late. Aaarrgghh. But it did take off, and I finally made it home to Forest Falls at 4:30 pm. The best part of it was that my luggage was waiting for me in Palm Springs and nothing was lost.

I had a wonderful week in North Carolina. We all gathered at my big sister's house in Cary, and found out that Alice's (Barry's wife) company was giving us three hotel rooms for the weekend. (She works for a company that owns several hotels and department stores in the area). That allowed my oldest brother and youngest sister and I to stay there, while Mom and another sister stayed with my oldest sister. Alice's mother stayed with her at their home in Fuquay-Varina, and after she left Monday, I went to stay with Alice.

The funeral service was Saturday. It was touching and wonderful, and sad. We got to meet a lot of Barry's friends, and saw how loved he was. It was also nice seeing my brother and sisters and Alice and her son and daughter. We all renewed some connections that were a bit fragmented through the years, and vowed to keep those communication lines open and more frequent. I came home to my wonderful husband, having missed him dearly, and had a great time in the kitchen this afternoon. (Airport meals leave much to be desired).