Sunday, November 30, 2008

It was a Cooking Light kind of day

Every once in a while I sit down with my recently-delivered Cooking Light magazines, and go through them to see what I might like to fix. I found a lot of recipes from the October and December issues (was there a November one?), and tried three of them. I'm always looking for good ways to fix fish - since A) it's good for you and B) Don often brings back fish from the ocean or Lake Mead. This recipe was simple, quick, and tasty. The fish itself was prepared as I often prepare it, but with the added touch of sprinkling it with garlic powder before it was breaded. The rémoulade was rich - I LOVED it. You have to be careful how much you use, because you could easily use too much. The recipe said it made enough for 2, but I cooked up 3 fillets and still had a little sauce left over. It reminded me of a tartar sauce, but I thought it was better.

Pan-fried Fish with Rémoulade

adapted from Cooking Light
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chopped capers
1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 (6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets
(I used 3 mahi mahi fillets)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (I substituted garlic salt for the salt and garlic powder)
* 1 tablespoon canola oil
* 2 lemon wedges
1. To prepare sauce, combine the first 6 ingredients.
2. Place flour in a shallow dish. Place panko in another shallow dish. Place egg white in another shallow dish.
3. Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and garlic powder. Working with 1 fillet at a time, dredge fish in flour, shaking off excess. Dip fish into egg white, allowing excess to drip off. Coat fish completely with panko, pressing lightly. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining fish, flour, egg white, and panko.
4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add fish to pan; reduce heat to medium, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with sauce and lemon wedges.

In addition to a salad, I fixed this dish with the fish:

Eastham Turnip-Potato Gratin

adapted from Cooking Light

1 ¼ pounds medium turnips (about 2, the size of baseballs), peeled and cut into (1/8-inch-thick) slices
Cooking spray
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¾ pound baking potato, peeled and cut into (1/8-inch-thick) slices
¾ cup (3 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese, divided
¾ cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1. Place turnips in saucepan; cover with water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain; pat dry.
2. Preheat oven to 350°.
3. Arrange one third of turnips in a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with one third of salt and one third of pepper. Arrange half of potato over turnip. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons cheese evenly over potato. Arrange one third turnip over cheese; sprinkle with one third of salt and one third of pepper. Arrange remaining potato over turnip. Arrange remaining turnip over potato; sprinkle with remaining salt and remaining pepper. Pour broth over vegetables. Cover with foil, pressing foil down onto turnip slices. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.
4. Preheat broiler.
5. Uncover turnips; sprinkle with the remaining 6 tablespoons cheese. Broil 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the recipe calls for broiling, I just added the cheese and continued cooking another 10 minutes. I also had to drain off some liquid before I added the cheese topping.

Dessert was a dish that somehow made its way into Cooking Light, but definitely wasn't light. It was a makeover, and I suppose that since they reduced the calories somewhat from the original, it qualified to be in the magazine. But ONE SLICE (which was ONE-TWELFTH of the cake) was 52 grams of carbs. Hmmm. I think next time I'll make it (and there will be a next time), I'm going to omit the sugary topping and add the coconut to the cake batter.

Sticky Date and Coconut Cake
adapted from Cooking Light

1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter
Dash of salt
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons fat-free milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare cake, combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes or until dates are tender.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Stir in date mixture, granulated sugar, vanilla, and egg until well combined. Pour batter into a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
4. To prepare topping, combine brown sugar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute. Pour brown sugar mixture over cake; bake at 350° for an additional 13 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around outside edge. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Acorn Squash - a new vegetable for us

I "discovered" a new vegetable - acorn squash. We'd never had it before; I never knew how to fix it. I was shopping for groceries at the commissary, and an older couple was discussing which ones to get. I asked the woman, "How do you fix that?" She explained that it was really simple - cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, add a little brown sugar and butter, and bake.

I did a little research to refine the technique further, and this is what I came up with:

Baked Acorn Squash

1 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar (we like ours sweet)

Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray a small baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut squash in half vertically through the stem. Using a spoon, scoop out the insides and discard them. Place face down on baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes. Turn over. (You might have to move them to a dish with sides so they don't fall over.) Place a tablespoon of butter and about a tablespoon and half of brown sugar in each half. Bake another 35-40 minutes. Serves 2.

The taste is reminiscent of sweet potato, but not as sweet. This is a joy to find something new and good. I found a different way to fix it here, a nice recipe by Alanna of A Veggie Venture.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's Been A Long Wait

In January of 2005, I put this bracelet on. It says THINK BLUE 11/04/08. I've never taken it off - and have proudly explained to anyone and everyone who asked about it what it said and meant. I told myself that eventually I could take it off for the right reason - President Barack Obama.

I told my sister this morning that I'd have a "ceremonial removal of the wristband," and would cut it into little pieces. So, there it is.

I can't wait to see how our country changes and how the world reacts to this. I really don't know what else to say - except that watching Jesse Jackson cry tears of joy said it all just now. I am so proud to be an American.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Well, Hello Again!

Yes, I know it's been a while. A month and a half! But you see, it's not that I haven't cooked, it's that I've cooked all my favorites, so there wasn't a whole lot to post about. I DID try two new recipes recently - so I decided to share them.

The first has been in my cookbook for a long time, and I just got around to trying it. I've been wanting simple, tasty, oven recipes for chicken, now that it's getting colder. I like to cook meals or main dishes in the oven to help warm the house. This one's a "keeper."

Baked Pineapple Chicken

1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon rosemary, crushed
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lemon , thinly sliced

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Combine reserved juice with garlic, cornstarch, Worcestershire, mustard, and rosemary. Arrange chicken in shallow baking pan or broiler-proof dish, skin side up. Broil until browned. Stir sauce; pour over chicken. Bake at 400˚ 30 minutes. Arrange pineapple and lemon slices around chicken. Spoon sauce from baking pan over all; continue baking 5 more minutes.

Next is a fabulously easy and yummy dessert, that must be eaten in small quantities- though you'll want to eat as many as you can, they're so good. I love pecan pie, and these are like eating pecan pie filling but with a tasty crackly crust on top.

Pecan Pie Cupcakes

1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
⅔ cup butter, melted
2 eggs
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Liberally grease muffin tins with cooking spray; set aside. (I used silicone muffin cups sprayed with Pam for Baking and they slid right out.)

Combine all ingredients and mix well; fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 13-14 regular-sized cupcakes, or about 30 miniature ones.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Orange Dipping Sauce

I heard this on the radio the other day as a way to do some shrimp - but since Don can't eat shrimp, I tried it with chicken. So quick and easy to prepare, and so good!

Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Orange Dipping Sauce

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I bet if you used chicken tenders or cut the breasts into smaller pieces, it would take an even shorter amount of time.)
1 egg white
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup pecan pieces, ground
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon mustard
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
3 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Preheat oven to 375˚. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Combine the panko crumbs and pecans with salt and pepper to taste in another bowl. Dip the chicken in the egg white to coat, and then in the pecan-panko mixture. Place chicken on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Orange Dipping Sauce: Combine mustard, marmalade, orange juice, and red pepper in a small bowl. Microwave 30 seconds.

Note: That's fried okra in the picture with the chicken.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mole-Style Pork Chops, Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons

About once a week, Cooking Light sends me a recipe that I just HAVE to try. Last week the daily recipe was Mole-Style Pork Chops. I love mole - the unique chocolate flavor is something that takes a little getting used to - but it wasn't overpowering in this recipe. These chops were spicy and flavorful, and cooked just to where they were still juicy. The juice blended with the spicy coating to make a little sauce that coated each piece I cut.

Mole-Style Pork Chops
from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
Cooking spray

Heat a grill pan over medium heat.

Combine first 6 ingredients; rub evenly over both sides of pork. Lightly coat pork with cooking spray. Place pork on grill pan; cover and grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 3 minutes.

In keeping with my goal of having potatoes as a side dish only once a week, I decided to try this recipe sent to me by Alanna of A Veggie Venture. I bought the little julienne gadget from Pampered Chef many years ago, but haven't used it much. It was perfect for this job, and so easy to use!

Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons
from Alanna of A Veggie Venture

2 carrots, washed but peels on (or off if you prefer)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium-size zucchini, blossom and stem ends removed
Salt & pepper

Cut the carrots into ribbons, then in half. (I didn't cut mine in half.) Heat the oil or butter in a large skillet til shimmery. Add the garlic and the carrots, stirring to coat with fat. Let cook, stirring often, while cutting the zucchini. Add the zucchini to the skillet, stirring to coat and to distribute the heat. Cook til soft (or al dente if you prefer). Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4

Friday, August 08, 2008

Great Tastes! (and healthy, too)

I love burgers. But not all burgers are created equal. In my younger days, I enjoyed Quarter Pounders and Whoppers, which is obviously one of the reasons I'm where I'm at today, weight-wise. Thanks to fellow bloggers and some good magazines, I've been trying some different burgers. Tonight's burger was a repeat from March, Turkey Burgers with Curry-Lime Mayo.

To go with it, I made some Zucchini Oven Chips. I "borrowed" the recipe from Joe of Culinary in the Country, and even used his tip of adding some cayenne to the breading. These were virtually non-fat, yet tasted just as good as the fried zucchini I love so much. We didn't need a dipping sauce with these since they were so flavorful, but I'm sure you could try some ranch dressing if you wanted.

Zucchini Oven Chips
from Joe of Culinary in the Country

¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
¼ cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese (I used Asiago)
¼ teaspoon seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 ½ cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small)
*I added between 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of Cayenne
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. (Joe and I did these on a baking stone instead). Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

I've been given an award!

Teresa Cordero Cordell, who has a blog called Mexican-American Border Cooking, has bestowed on me the El Premio Arte y Pico award. Now I'm not totally sure what it's all about, but it's turned into a sort of meme, where each winner picks 5 more to give the award to. Teresa said she picked me because I'm a "woman of many talents. First, she’s a stickler for proper grammar, she loves to cook, and she loves to stitch. My cross stitching days are over (arthritis), but I still crotchet for short periods of time. So any cook who also has a passion for stitching is allright in my book." Cool!!!!!! And thanks so much for the honor, Teresa!

Now, I'm supposed to come up with 5 other bloggers to honor. I'll work on that for a day or two and come back and add it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Home Again

We left Colorado Saturday morning, and spent Saturday night at the Richfield, Utah KOA. Sunday night we stayed at Whiskey Pete's in Primm, Nevada - it's a hotel/casino on the Nevada/California state line - cheap motel, average casino, good location for travelers who don't want to stay in Vegas, and a great steakhouse. We were home by 9 am on Monday.

Tuesday was the commissary trip to restock the pantry and refrigerator, Wednesday was Costco, and today was Trader Joe's. I'm back in business!

Cooking Resolution for Fall 2008: Limit potato side dishes to once a week. We really overdid the potatoes on our trip.

Tonight I tried an old recipe again plus a new one. The old one was Mahi Mahi with Jalapeño-Lime Butter, and in keeping with my new resolution, the new one was Tomatoes Florentine. Don really liked this (I did, too) and it was so easy that it'll be a repeat.

Tomatoes Florentine

6 medium tomatoes
½ cup light cream
1 egg yolk
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, cooked, chopped, drained (I failed to read this part and squeezed the thawed spinach dry inside paper towels without cooking it. It still turned out wonderful.)
3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Cut top (1/4 in.) off each tomato. Scoop out insides. Sprinkle insides with salt. Combine cream and egg yolk; add spinach and 1 T of the butter. Salt to taste. Heat, stirring, just to simmering. Fill tomatoes with the creamed spinach. Place in baking dish. Top each with 1 t melted butter. Bake at 375˚ for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Vacation Picture

Reflection on McKee Pond, near Marble, Colorado

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Going on Vacation

I might not be posting for a while - we're leaving Tuesday morning for a 45-day trip to Colorado. We'll be at Redstone, on the Crystal River for a few nights, then Vega State Park on the Grand Mesa, then Turquoise Lake near Leadville, Tomichi Creek east of Gunnison, Taylor Park Reservoir, and then Lake City.

I hope to relax, cross-stitch, read, cook, and totally forget about work for 45 days. I'll take lots of pics, but they'll be posted over on my travel blog, Wanderlust. If I create any culinary masterpieces that I just HAVE to share, I'll post them here. Otherwise, I'll see you in August!

Up On My Grammar Soapbox - Mixed-Up Apostrophes

I pulled up to the BX at March Air Base the other day, and first saw this sign.

Then as I went inside, I saw this one:

Apparently, the apostrophe that belonged on this sign had wandered over to the Espressos sign.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chicken-Peanut Chow Mein

This is another recipe from the daily "Dinner Tonight" emails I get from Cooking Light. It was today's recipe, but was in the April 2006 print version of the magazine. I had all the ingredients except mushrooms, so I just picked a few up at the store on my way home. I made a few changes - Don's allergic to shellfish, so instead of the oyster sauce, I substituted Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce and left out the sugar the original recipe called for. My version of the recipe is below.

Chicken-Peanut Chow Mein
adapted from Cooking Light

1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
8 oz. spaghetti noodles (I used Dreamfields)
1 cup sugar (snap) peas
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (original recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon, but we like it spicy!)
1 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons bottled fresh ground ginger
1 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Bring a pot of water to a boil; add carrots and noodles. When the noodles are almost done, add the peas and cook another 3 minutes. Drain. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut chicken crosswise into thin strips. Add chicken and 1 tablespoon soy sauce to pan; stir-fry 3 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Combine remaining soy sauce, chicken broth, Yoshida's sauce, and red pepper flakes. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and ginger to pan; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add broth mixture and cook for 1 minute. Add noodle mixture and chicken to pan; cook 1 minute, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with onions and peanuts. Serves 4.

Fruit Bread - Bread Machine Recipe

I made this for Don the other day, and of course, had to try a slice. He likes date-nut bread, which is usually a quick bread - made with lots of sugar and fat. This one's a little lighter, since it's a bread machine recipe, and I used some whole wheat flour in it. I got the recipe from Linda, a fellow baker on my bread machine Yahoo group.

Fruit Bread - High Altitude version
from Linda Darwent

1 1/3 cups liquid (I used water), warmed slightly
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used chopped dates; Linda has used cranberries; you can try apricots, raisins...any dried fruit)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in machine in order listed. Use sweet or whole wheat setting. Makes 1 1-pound loaf.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

I grew up on my Mom's Texas-style taco salad - you know, the one with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, kidney beans, cheese, and tortilla chips. We added a few other things, too, but that's the basic taco salad. This one came to me via email yesterday - I subscribe to a daily "Dinner Tonight" email from Cooking Light. One look at this one and I new we had to have it for dinner last night. All I had to go buy was the avocado - you just don't keep those lying around the house. I like the "coolness" of this one from the sour cream, and the chipotle flavor made it really unique. (Yes, I know "really unique" is hyperbole...).

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad
from Cooking Light

⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
⅔ cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup diced peeled avocado
⅓ cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8 3/4-ounce) can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained
To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients, stirring well.

To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Tip: Add a spoonful of adobo sauce for a spicier salad. Kidney or pinto beans also taste great in this dish.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Patty Melts and My New Love

I was first attracted to this recipe by the picture in the magazine, and then by the simple ingredients and directions. After I made it, I was thrilled with how little time it took to make it. The onions took about 3 minutes, the meat 4, and then the whole sandwich about 2. Boy, was it yummy! We've added this one to our list of all-time favorites - so now I'm going to be looking for more sandwiches - grilled and pannini.

Patty Melts with Grilled Onions
adapted from Cooking Light

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 slices rye bread
1/2 cup shredded Jarlsberg or other Swiss cheese

Preheat electric grill or pannini pan. Sprinkle onion with balsamic vinegar. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray and add onion. Cook about 3 minutes; remove and keep warm. Divide beef into two patties and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add patties to pan; cook about 4 minutes or until done. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard over 2 bread slices; layer each slice with 2 tablespoons cheese, 1 patty, half of the onion, and 2 more tablespoons cheese. Spread about 1 teaspoon mustard on remaining bread slices; place, mustard side down, on top of sandwiches. Wipe pan, if necessary. Add sandwiches, and cook about 3 minutes or until bread is lightly browned and crusty. Makes 2.

My new love is my grill/pannini pan. I've used it to grill meats, but this was the first time I'd used it to make sandwiches. Now I want some great recipes. Do you have any to share?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hanging out in Barnes & Noble...

Sometimes I like to go to Barnes & Noble and sit and read. I was there the other day, sipping on a sugar-free iced coffee, and perusing a Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine. There were so many recipes in it I decided to buy it. This was one of the first recipes I tried.

Oregano Olive Chicken
adapted from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking

1 broiler-fryer chicken, cut up and skin removed
¼ tsp. pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup white wine
½ cup pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped
¼ cup capers, drained
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves , minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Sprinkle chicken with pepper. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, brown chicken on all sides in oil. Remove and keep warm. Drain drippings from skillet. Combine the remaining ingredients; pour into skillet, stirring to loosen brown bits. Bring to a boil. Return chicken to pan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Serves 6. I served this with some rice. The chicken itself has 2 grams of carbohydrates per serving.

Another recipe from the same magazine tasted too good to be low-carb and low-calorie. I had some South Beach Diet non-fat cottage cheese - which I decided I didn't like straight from the carton - and by using Dreamfields pasta, this was a great healthy pasta dish that was full of flavor. I added some crushed red pepper for a little kick. I took a great picture, and then accidentally deleted it.

Baked Mostaccioli
adapted from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking Magazine

8 oz. uncooked mostaccioli or penne (I used Dreamfields)
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 14 1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1/3 cup water
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups (16 oz.) nonfat cottage cheese
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or deep skillet, cook the turkey and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain if necessary. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, oregano, salt, red pepper, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese and marjoram; set aside. Drain mostaccioli. Spread 1/2 cup meat sauce into an 11 x 7 x 2-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of the pasta, meat sauce and cheese. Top with cottage cheese mixture. Layer with remaining pasta, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, at 350˚ for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Serves 6.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bean Dip (as good as the name brand!)

When Don and I go camping, one of our favorite snacks is Frito-Lay Bean Dip - with Fritos Scoops. I found a recipe on recipezaar for a copycat - and gave it a try this afternoon. For $.69 for a can of refried beans, plus pennies for the add-ins, this recipe made 3 times as much as a little can of the name brand. We thought it tasted exactly like Frito-Lay's!

Lito-Fray Bean Dip

1 (15 ounce) can refried beans
5 slices bottled jalapenos (nacho slices)
1 tablespoon brine, from bottled jalapeno slices
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Combine refried beans with the other ingredients in a food processor.
2. Puree ingredients on high speed until smooth.
3. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pork Tenderloin with Sage, Garlic, and Honey

This was pretty tasty, and was very easy to make. I had a pork tenderloin I needed to cook, and thought I'd try a recipe for a pork roast.

Pork Tenderloin with Sage, Garlic, and Honey
adapted from Cooking Light

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tablespoons fresh sage, minced
2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 Tablespoon honey

Heat oven to 400˚. In small bowl, stir together oil, lemon juice, garlic, sage and pepper. Brown meat in a little olive oil in an ovenproof skillet. Brush with lemon juice mixture; roast for 10 minutes. Brush honey over top and sides; roast another 15 minutes more.

Two Low Carb Recipes

These were inspired by Kalyn. She'd made some Hamburger Kebabs, and I wanted the same flavors in ground turkey. I didn't have any pine nuts, but I had plenty of pistachios - and they're definitely Mediterranean, too.

Mediterranean Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

1/3 cup pistachios
½ medium onion, cut in chunks
¾ lb. ground turkey
1 egg
2 Tbsp. dried parsely
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tblsp. bottled Italian dressing for basting the tops

Preheat oven to 400˚. Combine pistachios and onion in food processor; pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add turkey, egg, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper, and pulse until mixed well. Divide into 6 lightly-greased muffin cups. Baste tops with Italian dressing. Bake 30 minutes.

Dessert was another low carb treat borrowed from the South Beach Diet folks. I found almond meal at a good price at Trader Joe's today, and made this mini-cake.

3-Minute Chocolate Cake
from the South Beach Diet

2 Tbsp butter or nontrans fat marg. (Smart Balance)
¼ c almond flour
1 Tbsp cocoa (heaping is best)
¼ tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp + 1 tsp measurable Splenda have also used 2-3 packets too)
1 Tbsp water
1 egg
Melt butter in microwave; add rest of ingredients and stir. Cover with plastic wrap, slice a hole in the center and microwave for 1 min, 20 secs; until center is set but still moist. Serves 2.

I would bet that if you really wanted to make a frosting, you could mix up some cream cheese with cocoa and Splenda.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hearty Onion-Dill Bread

I plan to make split pea soup in the crockpot tomorrow, since I have to work late, and I think this bread will go great with it. It's part whole wheat and part white flour, and with the high altitude adaptation of using just a smidge more than a teaspoon of yeast, it came out very well.

Hearty Onion-Dill Bread
high altitude recipe

1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons dried dill
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoon bread machine yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine in order listed. Use whole wheat cycle. When bread is finished, remove from bread pan to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. Makes a 1 1/2-pound loaf.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Did a Little Baking Today

First up, I made a second batch of some muffins that appeared in this month's Cooking Light. I had made them earlier this week, but Don and I ate them all before I could take a picture! These are hearty enough (and healthy enough) to eat for breakfast - I would take two each morning along with a piece of string cheese.

Tropical Muffins with Coconut-Macadamia Topping
from Cooking Light

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 ounces)
1 cup regular oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2)
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
3 tablespoons finely chopped macadamia nuts, toasted
Cooking spray

2 tablespoons flaked sweetened coconut
1 tablespoon finely chopped macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon regular oats
1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. To prepare muffins, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Combine banana and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a medium bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in pineapple, 1/3 cup coconut, and 3 tablespoons nuts. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
3. To prepare topping, combine 2 tablespoons coconut and the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.
4. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of topping over each muffin. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; place on a wire rack.

Yield 18 muffins. (Cooking Lightsays this recipe will make 12, but even with almost-full muffin cups, it made 18. Also, since half of a small can of crushed pineapple is 1/2 cup, you might as well make two batches. What else can you do with half a can of crushed pineapple?

Next, I tried a new bread recipe in the bread machine - rye bread. I found a recipe that sounded more like pumpernickel, and thought I'd give it a try. The original recipe called for 2 teaspoons of yeast, but keeping with my practice of cutting the yeast nearly in half, I used a teaspoon and an eighth. It worked! And this bread really does taste more like a pumpernickel. I didn't put in the caraway seed - don't really care for it - and so now the bread will be good for sandwiches or toasted with jam.

Rustic Black Rye Bread
high altitude recipe

1 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons softened butter or margarine
2 tablespoons molasses
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup rye flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place ingredients into the bread machine in order listed. Use the whole wheat, regular crust setting. Press start. After the baking cycle ends, remove bread from pan, place on a cake rack, and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.

Note: In the top photo, the reason there's a dent in the top is because halfway during baking, I blew a fuse in the kitchen. When I reset the power, I couldn't finish the loaf in the bread machine (it automatically starts at the beginning), so I finished it in the big oven. My big oven mitt made the dent while I was moving it. In the photo at right, you can see a couple large air bubbles - I think perhaps I could use even less yeast next time - but the texture of the bread was perfect. Not bad for 6000 feet!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Banana Nut Bread in the Bread Machine

This was a quick bread recipe - yet it took longer to do it in the bread machine than it would take to do it in the oven. I think the only time I would do this again would be if it were in the middle of the summer on a hot day and I didn't want to heat up the kitchen by using the regular oven.

Banana Nut Bread for the Bread Machine

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup vegetable oil
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅔ cup mashed bananas
⅓ cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped

1. Into baking pan measure flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt.
2. Add oil, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.
3. Insert pan securely into unit; close lid.
4. Select"Cake" setting; press"Start.
5. When beep sounds after about 5 minutes, add mashed banana and nuts.
6. Press"Start" again.
7. The"Complete" light will flash when cake is done.

Coconut Tart

A few weeks ago I was stitching a Christmas ornament from Just Cross Stitch Magazine. Many of the designers include recipes with their designs, and the one included with the piece I was working on was this coconut tart. This is a really simple recipe to make - just mix everything together all at once, pour it into a pie plate, and bake it. It puffs up nicely and forms a crunchy top crust that reminds me of a coconut macaroon. Underneath the crust is a light custard. Don and I tried it both warm and chilled, and I liked it both ways.

Coconut Tart
from Just Cross Stitch Magazine

1 c coconut
1 c sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened *
2 c milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325˚. In a large bowl, beat all ingredients together until thick and creamy. Pour into a greased 9" pie plate and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until risen and golden.** Serve warm or cold. Makes 6-8 servings.

* I used salted butter and it was fine.
** I had to cook mine 40 minutes before it would set up.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wurstsalat and Baked Apples

We had a simple dinner tonight - wurstsalat the way Don likes it, with rye bread, and some baked apples for dessert. While I prefer fleishsalat, with its blend of meat, cheese, pickle, onion, tomato, and vinegar, Don prefers wurstsalat. It's made using ring bologna.


1 ring bologna, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2-3 small tomatoes, halved and sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Serve with rye bread. Makes 4 servings.

I put dessert in the oven before I made dinner, and we enjoyed baked apples while helping to heat the house (it's still chilly up here in the mountains!). I saw this recipe yesterday on Frugal Friends in the Kitchen, a Yahoo group I belong to, and knew I had to make it as soon as possible. I used Braeburn apples instead of the Rome Beauty, but they're just as good for baking.

Maple Glazed Baked Apples

from Russie on Frugal Friends in the Kitchen

4 Rome Beauty or Braeburn apples
½ cup raisins
½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup apple juice
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Core apples, leaving bottoms intact.* Peel top half of apples. Arrange apples in
8X8 inch baking pan. Combine raisins, brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon. Spoon
mixture into apples, mounding over top of apples and letting excess fall into
pan. Pour apple juice into bottom of pan. Combine maple syrup and butter and spoon over top of apples. Cover pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 55 min. or until apples are tender. Serves 4

*I cored them all the way through, and they came out fine. Also, I used a Corningware casserole dish with lid instead of a pan with foil.

Using up Leftover Corned Beef

Corned Beef hash is one of my favorite breakfast foods, and until my trip to Boise, I thought I preferred it from a can. Most of the homemade corned beef hash I've tried in restaurants was made with onions. I don't care for it that way. But at Goldy's, in Boise, I had some homemade hash that was wonderful. And naturally, I thought, "I can do that!" So I did. I made a corned beef brisket in the crockpot for St Patrick's Day, and kept some of the leftovers just for this. It was great! What I do with it once it's cooked is make two "wells," and put two eggs in each "well." Then I put the lid on the pan until the eggs are cooked.

Has anyone reading this ever tried making corned beef hash using canned corned beef?

Getting Away From it All

The past two weeks have been spring break in our school district, and Don and I spent the first 11 days of it in the southern Sierras. First, we went to a place new to us - Kaweah Lake. It's between Visalia and the south entrance to Sequoia National Park. We camped at Horse Creek Campground, and for most of our stay had our loop of the campground to ourselves. I called our site "a room with a view." I sat outside nearly every day while Don was fishing, just so I could enjoy that view. To our left was Lake Kaweah, and to the right was a view up the Kaweah River.

We learned that the lake was built for flood control, and it fills up every year. By the end of May or early June each year, the water comes up and covers almost all of the campground. We could see it changing each day we were there - small islands and bushes became covered by the end of our stay. The campground is not open during the summer - it's under water!

After we left Lake Kaweah, we had reservations at a Forest Service campground on Lake Isabella. When we got there, it was a nightmare. First of all, more than half of the campground was closed - and I'm sure that's where the sites were that were large enough for RVs and trailers. We drove through a few loops - getting stuck several times and tearing up the side of our trailer against some trees and rocks. When we could finally make it back to the entrance, we saw that there wasn't even a camp host there to tell us where a decent site could be found. Soooo, we decided to go to Don's favorite campground - Rivernook - a private campground with full hookups and CABLE TV. Yeah, we were really roughing it. But he likes Rivernook, since he can fish in the Kern right from the campground. He also can drive up and down the Kern and fish all he wants. The picture to the left was taken from one of the places we stopped (the day I accompanied him up the river). Six days there was nice -all I did was sit and cross stitch and read and not even think about work.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fabulous Flavors in One Dish

For twenty years I've fixed pork tenderloin the same way: marinate in teriyaki sauce and grill on the barbecue. (Or is it barbecue on the grill?) I don't know why I never tried other ways, but once I started blogging I've gotten "adventurous." This has got to be the best so far. Don said, "You outdid yourself on this one. We've got to have this again!"

Spicy Pork Tenderloin with Ginger-Maple Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons bottled ground fresh ginger
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; rub pork with spice mixture. Heat a large ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat; add pork. Cook 6 minutes; brown on all sides. Place skillet in oven; for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

While pork bakes, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Add ginger, and cook 4 minutes. Stir in broth and syrup, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring broth mixture to a boil; cook until reduced to 3/4 cup (about 10 minutes). Cut pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices; serve with sauce.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chicken Parmesan without the Breading and the Fat

This recipe came to me from Sweetnicks, but was originally from Giada De Laurentis (on the Food Network). Again, like some previous dishes I've tried from other people, this one drew my attention because of Cate's fabulous photo. Don and I really liked this version - and it's one that I will definitely make again for several reasons: 1) It's quick and easy, 2) It's low carb (no breading), 3) It's low fat (no frying), and 4) it just tastes fantastic. I used plain old Ragu - which was in my fridge only because I'd had a coupon and already used half the jar on some meatball subs. I'm sure many different marinaras would be fine for this.

Chicken Parmesan
from Giada De Laurentis

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 chicken cutlets (about 3 ounces each)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup marinara sauce
¼ cup shredded mozzrella cheese
8 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 500˚. In a small bowl, stir the oil and herbs to blend. Brush both sides of the cutlets with the herb oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet over a high flame. Add the cutlets and cook just until brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove from heat. Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the cutlets. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of mozzarella over each cutlet, then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of Parmesan over each. Dot the tops with the butter pieces and bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serves 4

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Spicy Dinner, Cool Dessert

Here I go again, borrowing another recipe. This time it's from Joe of Culinary in the Country. Back in 2005 he posted about Teriyaki Pork and Vegetables with Whole Wheat Noodles from Cooking Light. I saw it a few months ago, and made it for diner tonight. I made a mistake, though - the original recipe called for chili-garlic paste. I didn't have any, but I did have some sambal olek (chili paste) and thought I'd use that plus some garlic to take its place. I only used two teaspoons, but boy, was that dish spicy! It was edible, and Don absolutely loved it, but it took a long time for my tongue and mouth to quit burning! Next time- I'll either go buy the chili-garlic paste or I'll use a lot less sambal olek.

Teriyaki Pork and Vegetables with Whole Wheat Spaghetti
from Joe of Culinary in the Country

8 ounces dry whole wheat spaghetti
4 green onions
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
12 ounces boneless center-cut loin pork chops, cut into 1/4" strips
1 ¾ cups broccoli florets
2 cups sliced mushrooms
⅓ cup teriyaki sauce
4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta - keep warm.

Thinly slice the top green part of the onions and set aside. Finely chop the white portions and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Stir in the finely chopped white portion of the green onions, bell pepper, pork, broccoli and mushrooms - sauté until the pork is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid, teriyaki sauce and chili garlic sauce. Add pasta and teriyaki sauce mixture to skillet - toss well to coat. Stir in sliced green onion tops to serve. Makes 4 servings.
Note: I didn't mix the pasta and veggie-pork mixture together. I put the pasta on the plates and topped it with the veggie-pork mixture.

I think this would be good with the addition of some sliced water chestnuts. As it was, we really loved it. Thanks again, Joe!


Right now you can get some good deals on fresh fruit (at least you can here in southern California) - especially at the 99 cent store where they have trays of blueberries. Any time you see blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries on sale, stock up! All you need to do is put the loose fresh fruit on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer. When it's frozen solid, put it in zip-top freezer bags and keep in the freezer. It thaws beautifully. Currently I have blueberries and blackberries in the freezer.

I picked up some strawberries yesterday - the first ones of the season - and decided to make a fruit salad. Don's been away on a fishing trip to the Owens River north of Bishop, and I knew that he'd want some fresh fruit when he came back. I threw this together this afternoon, and we had it for "dessert" after our spicy main dish.

Sangria Fruit Salad

1 banana, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4" thick
1 large apple, chopped
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (you need to use the sweetened - it sweetens the sangria)
3/4 cup sangria

Note: you can also add other fruits - grapes, mandarin oranges, kiwi, for example.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill. Makes 4 servings.

Yet Another "Borrowed" Recipe

I have just found a new chicken recipe that I can use when we're camping in our trailer. This is a simple, mix-up-the-ingredients and pop-it-in-the-oven recipe from Cate of Sweetnicks. (And while it looks like we eat a lot of chicken, it's just that all the other meals between Ed's and Cate's recipes were things I didn't want to post about.) This one smelled so good while it was cooking, and we loved the flavor of the garlic, the sage, the mustard, the cheese, and the chicken.

Lemon Parmigianno Chicken
from Cate of Sweetnicks

Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup dry vermouth (or any sort of wine)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon minced garlic
8 small chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
3 tablespoons freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk together the lemon juice, vermouth, mustard, butter, sage and garlic. Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish. Pour the lemon mixture over all. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, salt and pepper. Bake until done, about 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices.

Ed Tep's Thai Barbecue Chicken

I love reading other people's blogs, and then trying out some of their recipes. Before I started blogging, my only sources of new recipes were either magazines or cookbooks - both of which I needed to spend money on. But blog-reading is free, and borrowing others' recipes is fun. I enjoy Ed's blog, Is it EDible? He cooked this chicken recipe back in September of 2006, and it took me almost a year and a half to finally cook it for myself. The main reason I was drawn to it was because of the picture. It just looked good. The ingredients are always in my pantry, so it's a good meal to fix on the spur of the moment - no special shopping trip. We really liked this - the taste is wonderful, and it's a super way to fix chicken thighs.

Thai Barbecue Chicken
from Ed of Is It Edible?

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sherry
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teapspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
8 chicken thighs, skin-on
In a large ziploc bag, combine all the ingredients except the chicken thighs. Seal and shake until well mixed.
Add in the chicken thighs. Seal bag, and shake until chicken is well-coated. Allow chicken to marinate for 15 to 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large foil-lined baking pan, place the chicken skin-side down in a single layer. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn chicken thighs over. Bake for an additional 20 minutes. Flip chicken thighs over again so they are skin-side up. Broil the chicken (out 5 inches from the broiler) for 8-10 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

He Would Have Been 55 Today

Today would have been my brother Barry's 55th birthday. Lung cancer took him 2 years ago.

Wasn't he a beautiful young man?

Happy Birthday, Barry!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Using Real Maple Syrup

Why haven't I tried it before? Maybe it's the price; maybe it's the sugar- but I finally bought some real maple syrup a few weeks ago, and have been experimenting. I was inspired by this month's Cooking Light, and tonight we tried one of the recipes from the magazine. This dish, though, doesn't really need a recipe - but it's by far the tastiest glaze I've EVER had on pork chops.

Maple-Soy Pork Chops
adapted from Cooking Light

Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on pork chops (I used boneless). In a small bowl, mix equal parts of soy sauce and maple syrup - about 2 tablespoons each if you're serving 2 people-and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. In a skillet, brown pork chops in 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to low. Add soy sauce-maple syrup mixture and simmer until mixture thickens into a glaze, turning chops to coat.


Work notes: I sat in on 4 more layoff meetings today. Guaranteed to bring anyone down.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Need for Comfort Food

All of us know how it is - we get stressed, and we turn to comfort food to help ease the stress. Last year, for a long time, I wrote about the long negotiations crisis we were going through at work. Now we're going through something just as critical, just as stressful, yet even worse for a few of my members. Due to the budget crisis California is going through, partly due to the housing market, and partly due to our totally ignorant and inept governor, our district decided to cut some of its budget by laying off teachers. On Friday, I sat with 5 of my members as they received the notice of layoff - with 6 more to do tomorrow and 6 on Friday. This is heartbreaking. Things are already tough enough in this state, and these people now have to worry about whether or not they'll be able to feed their families.

I think I'm looking forward to the end of Schwarzeneggar's term as governor almost as much as I'm looking forward to the end of GWB's reign of ineptitude as president. I hate paying taxes as much as the next person, but for crying out loud. How do you think you got that paved highway? The teachers in your school? The police who protect your community? I will gladly pay more taxes to have California become a nice place to live again.

For those of you who don't live in California, we're now number 47 out of 50 in pupil spending. And THIS was supposed to be the governor's "Year of Education." Hah!

On to the good stuff:

This morning I made one of Don's favorite breakfasts - German Pancakes. They're so easy - and so delightfully yummy!

German Pancakes

1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
your choice of jams (I like raspberry; Don likes boysenberry)

Preheat oven to 425˚. In an ovenproof 10" skillet or pie plate, melt the butter. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on high until fluffy. Gradually add flour and continue to beat on medium. Slowly add milk and salt. Pour into skillet or pie plate, and put in oven. Cook 13-16 minutes until puffed and golden. (It should look like the one above). Serve immediately, topped with powdered sugar, almonds, and jam. (Below)

Dinner was burgers. Instead of making the usual beef hamburgers, though, I used a recipe from Cooking Light that offered a great change from beef. We were able to cook these on the grill since we used the vegetable grill pan - looks like a square skillet/basket with holes in it.

Turkey Burgers with Curry-Lime Mayo
from Cooking Light
3/4 lb. ground turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
(the recipe calls for your choice of jams - I don't think one of the red or purple ones would have been good, but I'm sure apricot would be just as good as the orange.)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon lime juice
hamburger buns

Combine turkey and bread crumbs; moisten with marmalade. Form three patties; grill in skillet or grill pan until well done. Combine mayonnaise, curry powder, and lime juice; spread on toasted hamburger buns. Serve burgers with lettuce. Makes 3.

Anticuchos (Peruvian Beef Skewers)

These were in Cooking Light, and since I love beef skewers of any kind, I thought I'd give these a try. It's the middle of winter here, and when I made these last week we still had 4 feet of snow on the ground. I used my Cuisinart griddle to cook them and was pleased with how they turned out. When I make them again, however, I'm going to cook them on an outdoor grill, and add onions and bell peppers to the skewers.

Anticuchos (Peruvian Beef Skewers)
From Cooking Light

1 ½ lbs. boneless sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground aji amarillo or hot paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Fiery rub:
1 teaspoon ground aji amarillo or hot paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
To prepare the beef, combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Cover and chill 3 hours.
To prepare fiery rub, combine 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, turmeric, and parsley.

Prepare grill.

Remove beef from bowl, discarding marinade. Thread beef onto each of 6 (10-inch) skewers. Press fiery rub onto beef. Place kebabs on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, turning once.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Martha Green's Hawaiian Chicken

I've written about Martha Green before - she owns a restaurant called The Eating Room and a bakery called Dough'lectibles, and does a mini-cooking show on our local NPR station. My favorite lunch item at The Eating Room is the Hawaiian Chicken - and it's easily duplicated at home.

Here's how:

1. Grill a boneless, skinless chicken breast (or sauté it in a skillet).
2. Grill a slice of pineapple.
3. Toast an English muffin.
4. Mix up a couple spoons of mayonnaise with a little dried dill and chives.
5. Spread the toasted English muffin halves with the mayonnaise. Top with chicken breast, then pineapple, then a slice of cheddar cheese.

The combination of flavors is divine, and now that I can make it at home, which we did for dinner tonight, I can move on to try some of the other items on Martha's menu!

Sweet Cabbage Salad

I like cabbage salads - and I'm just beginning to try different ones. This one was in Cooking Light, and I changed the sugar to Splenda. We loved it.

Sweet Cabbage Salad
adapted from Cooking Light

6 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 head)
1 cup shredded carrot (about 1 medium)
1 cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1 medium)
½ cup chopped red onion
½ cup sugar
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon celery seeds
½ teaspoon salt
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture, tossing gently to combine. Cover; chill 1 hour. Makes about 8 servings, and the leftovers keep well an extra day.