Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bagel Chip Dip

This is a Sandra Lee recipe that is supposed to be served with bagel chips, but I couldn't find any in our grocery, so we picked up some good crackers and took this along to my cousin's annual Canada Day/4th of July bash. I have lightened the recipe somewhat. I would probably go easier on the seasoned salt next time.

16 oz. light sour cream
1 c. finely-chopped scallions
3/4 c. light mayonnaise
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
2 tsp. seasoned salt

Mix together and serve with bagel chips.

Sweet Treats

On his last day with us this month, Pie and I baked together. He was so excited to make a cake from scratch that he asked me to write the recipe down for him to take to his grandma's & try to make there. He is a great kitchen helper, measuring everything with scrupulous care and making sure he has clean hands at all times. We had fun licking the batter from the bowl and utensils, too! The recipe came from the February 2003 issue of Gourmet.

Everyday Cocoa Cake
2 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa (we used Ghirardelli)
1 & 1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 & 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 & 3/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 & 1/3 c. water
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" round cake pan. Dust with flour. Whisk all the dry ingredients (except powdered suagr) together. Beat butter with sugar until pale & fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Add flour & water alternately, beginning and ending with flour, mixing just until combined. Bake 55 minutes-1 hour. Allow to cool 1 hour. Remove from pan and dust with powdered sugar. Perfect with a cold, cold glass of milk.

A week later, I made J a long-promised batch of granola, original recipe from the same issue of Gourmet, but modified to her tastes. The original called for crystallized ginger & apricots.

Maple Red Fruit Granola
1/4 c. flaxseeds, ground
6 c. old-fashioned oats
2 c. sliced almonds
1 c. raw green pumpkin seeds
1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. oil
3/4 c. maple syrup
1 c. dried Rainier cherries
1 c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all but fruit together. Spread evenly on two baking sheets (I didn't grease mine, but think I maybe should have). Bake 15 minutes. Stir granola & switch pans' positions in oven. Bake another 15 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool completely. Add fruit. Makes about 10 cups. We shared ours with the downstairs neighbors, which was a fun delivery!

Back in June, I made a refreshing non-alcoholic drink called a Lemon Daisy. Here's how:

1/2 c. grenadine
1/3 c. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 c. club soda
2 c. Sprite Zero (the original called for lemon soda)

Mix grenadine & lemon juice. Pour into ice-filled wine glasses. Top each with 1/2 c. club soda and 1/2 c. Sprite. Cheers!

Mississippi Gorilla and Arkansas Chicken

Sounds like some kind of bizarre joke, but it's actually a couple of good recipes I've tried recently. The gorilla comes from the Sweet Potato Queens' Big Ass Cookbook (and Financial Planner), which is an absolute stitch and has a bunch of good recipes. If you have not yet encountered Jill Conner Browne's world, get thee to a bookstore right away & pick up her books! This is my adaptation of Precious Darling George's Gorilla Casserole:

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 tbsp. oil
1 chopped onion
1 sliced stalk celery
1/2 package grated carrots
28 oz. canned Italian-style tomatoes
1 generous pinch each salt, oregano, basil and Italian seasoning
1 good grinding of pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
3/4 lb. macaroni, cooked
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
A couple handsful of shredded extra-sharp cheddar

Cook beef, onion, celery & carrots in oil until beef is thoroughly browned. Add tomatoes & seasonings. Let simmer half an hour. Mix spinach with macaroni. Add to meat mixture. Put in a greased 13x9 baking dish. Top with cheese and bake 1/2 hour at 350 degrees.

The chicken comes from stellar children's book & cookbook author and innkeeper Crescent Dragonwagon's Dairy Hollow House Cookbook. She has other great cookbooks, such as The Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread Book and The Passionate Vegetarian. The recipes are wonderful, but the storytelling is even better. These are cookbooks you will want to sit down and read. Get them! Dairy Hollow House is an inn in Eureka Springs, Arkansas & I am dying to stay there. In the meantime, I will console myself with the books & cooking things like Chicken Nouveau'zarks, of which this is my adaptation:

7 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 large lemon
Plenty of fresh pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 bunch scallions, sliced
A generous handful of sliced baby portabellas
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. thyme
Salt to taste

Mix 2 of the garlic cloves with the lemon juice & pepper. Toss into a large ziploc bag with the chicken & marinate at least 1 hour, turning every so often. Ina large skillet, heat butter & oil. Brown the chicken on both sides. Mix rest of ingredients together, stirring until smooth. Cover & simmer about 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove the chicken and keep it warm. Remove the bay leaf and mash the garlic into the cooking liquid. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. I served this with egg noodles, a big salad and Italian bread. It was wonderful!